i don't own naruto.

warnings: AU, oocness, sex with a minor, uhhh... angst, violence, aaaannd alcohol use as well as, um, some other crazy stuff.


Petroleum


Monday, November 2

9:32PM

- o -

The shovel is still gripped tightly in his hands. Gaara stares down at the bloody mass of flesh and broken bones on the floor in front of him, mildly fascinated by the body that used to belong to his mother. The mess is almost unrecognizable as a person, but the sight doesn't bother him at all. A normal man would have fallen to his knees and vomited out his breakfast; Gaara just laughs and spits on the corpse.

He's not sure why he did it-- well, that might be a lie. He knows exactly why he did it. He just doesn't know why he hadn't done it sooner. Gaara drops the shovel and kicks it off to the side of the kitchen. It hits the stove with a loud clang.

Gaara steps over the body and goes to the kitchen door, turning for a final look at his work. He wonders why he finally snapped now, out of all the times he could have. There had been instances that were much worse than the confrontation that had just taken place. He could remember times when he was younger when she had actually hurt him physically—beating him with an extension cord, burning him with a lighter. He had never lashed out against her then, and now he was a grown man.

Of course, now he'd have to leave. His fingerprints are all over the murder weapon, as well as his mother's blood. However, there was no use in getting rid of it. He would be the police's prime suspect anyway. But he wasn't going to just stand around and wait for the police to catch him. There was no way he was going back to jail, and especially not for this. He was practically doing a favor to all of the other residents on this block. He grins at the absurd idea of the neighbors congratulating him on what he did.

He needed to get out of this place right away. Hiding the body and cleaning up the mess would take to much time. Not to mention the fact that his mother simply did not deserve to be buried. No, he would leave her to rot on the linoleum until some poor soul discovered her remains.

Killing his mother hadn't been planned. Truthfully, he had been on his way out before she had intercepted him at the door. She had obviously had too many pills and medicine in her system, otherwise she would have been too afraid to speak to him, like usual.

But even though she hadn't been in her right mind, the things she had said to him had hurt. And they still did. He knows she had meant every word she had screeched at him only minutes beforehand.

Gaara closes his eyes and shuts the door behind him for the last time.

The stairs creak as he goes up them. He sometimes forgets how old the house is. It has been in his family for generations, but now it looked as if it would stop with Gaara. Unless someone managed to track down his two older siblings, but they were long gone by now. It didn't matter much anyway; the neighborhood had gone to hell years ago. And the fact that his mother hardly even left the house meant that the exterior wasn't much to look at.

"Not only are you a faggot, but a pedophile too! Disgusting. If I knew you were going to turn out this way I would have gone through with the abortion."

The memory stings, and Gaara's grin fades. In rare loss of control, he growls and slams his fist into the wall next to him. Plaster falls to the ground as he takes a deep breath, then continues walking up the stairs.

"Too bad your uncle talked me out of it. You're lucky to be alive, you know."

She was only telling you the truth. Couldn't handle it?

Shut up, Shukaku. I should've killed her a long time ago.

Can't argue with that. But--

I don't want to talk about it anymore.

Fine, fine.

He passes by his old bedroom, and upon glancing in, he actually does laugh. The room is bare. There are no posters on the walls, no carpeting on the hard wooden floors. A metal bed with a thin blanket on top is shoved into the corner of the room. The windows are tiny and have no curtains on them. There is a closet door parallel to the bed.

"Just as I remember it." He says out loud, his crazed grin returning to his lips.

He continues on his way until he gets to his mother's (former) bedroom. He flicks on the light and immediately goes over to the dresser. He tears open the drawers, grabbing jewelry and scarves and anything else he could sell for money while he was on the road.

Leaving this town wasn't going to be hard at all. The friends he has are basically rude, gambling drunks-- people he could find anywhere. And he knew his boss down at the factory was looking for an excuse to get rid of him anyway. The girls he met at bars and clubs were all disposable. And everyone else in the town hated him. So that only left...

Oh shit.

Neji.

The kid. Shukaku laughs.

Fuck. The boy would be devastated when he found out Gaara was gone. They had been 'together' for about six months, and he was pretty sure the kid was in love with him. Gaara didn't understand why. Yeah, he was attractive, but there had to be something more than that. However, for the life of him, Gaara couldn't figure out what.

Gaara liked Neji. Not as much as Neji liked him, but still. It was nice having a friend that wasn't drunk all of the time. Someone who Gaara could actually carry on an intelligent conversation with one minute, then have the boy on his knees the next. and And it wasn't as if Neji was ugly or anything-- it was quite the opposite, actually. The boy was stunning. Long, shiny brown hair, large white eyes, soft pale skin. When Gaara was in high school (before he dropped out), boys and girls like Neji never paid any attention to him. The kid would be much better suited hanging off the arm of one of those jocks at his preppy private school instead of psycho, fucked up Gaara.

He hadn't even meant to form a relationship with the boy. They had met in a nightclub, and after some urging from his friends (and Shukaku), Gaara had approached the boy and asked him to dance. They danced for three or so songs before they ended up making out in a back room of the club. Gaara was sure it could have gone further if Neji's phone hadn't rang. The boy had excused himself apologetically, but had written his phone number on Gaara's arm and told him to call him. They had met up a couple of times after that. Eventually they started seeing each other on a regular basis. From then on, Neji had just assumed they were in a relationship, and Gaara never saw a reason to correct him. At the time, it hadn't mattered to him as long as he could still go out and get drunk and pick up girls at night, something that Neji didn't know about.

But now Gaara wouldn't have to worry about him finding out.

Aww, you're gonna break the little boy's heart? Shukaku chuckles in his mind.

I guess. Gaara shrugs it off. The kid is still young--

--Too young--

-- And he'll get over it. Eventually. Gaara finishes looting his mother's room and moves on to the attic.

Sure, he cares for Neji. But it would be best if he didn't see him before he left. It would only complicate things. And for a situation like this, things needed to be as simple as possible.

If Gaara is lucky, no one will notice his mother is dead for a couple of weeks. She wasn't very friendly, and everyone in the neighborhood was afraid of her. She rarely came outside. And as for him being gone, well, the town would be too relieved to even investigate why.

As long as he could leave tonight without creating any commotion, everything would be okay.


10:13PM

- o -

Neji knows something is wrong as soon as his father enters the room. He is in the study, helping Hanabi with her homework. Hinata looks on, smiling over the edge of her book from her seat by the fireplace. Their father makes his presence know by appearing suddenly in the doorway of the room and entering with the gait of a man who doesn't seem to want to get too angry too quickly.

It is obvious that the older male just got home. He is still wearing his coat, and he sets his briefcase on the ground against a table as he clears his throat.

"Hello, Father..."

"Hinata, Hanabi, I must ask you to leave the room." Hiashi says, cutting off his youngest daughter. Hinata looks up and sees the expression on her father's face; she closes her book immediately and gets up. Hanabi looks like she wants to argue, but Hinata tugs gently at her sleeve and gestures to the door. Hanabi scowls, but follows her out nonetheless.

Neji and his father are now alone in the study. Hundreds of law books surround them on old, expensive bookshelves. The fireplace is crackling serenely in the corner. The desk Neji is seated at is made from rich mahogany with a small gold table lamp placed atop it, along with a couple of stacks of paper.

Neji closes Hanabi's notebook, wondering what he's done this time. His father doesn't look too upset, but sometimes Neji couldn't tell with him.

"Neji." Hiashi starts, removing his coat. He drapes it over the back of the chair Hinata had previously been seated in.

"Yes, father?" He puts his pencil down on the desk, turning around in his chair to face the older man.

"We need to talk."

"About what?"

Hiashi doesn't say anything, and instead reaches into his pocket and pulls out a piece of paper. He hands it to Neji, who takes it and unfolds it, curiosity written all over his face. "What is i-- Oh." His eyes widen slightly when he realizes that it's his report card. He doesn't know how his father got a hold of it so soon. He had planned on altering it slightly before showing it to his father, but now it looks like he wouldn't be able to.

"Father, I can explain--"

"Your grades have dropped." Hiashi interrupts, giving Neji a look that means he should stay quiet.

Neji closes his mouth. Hiashi snatches the paper back.

"But that is not the part that is upsetting me the most." Neji's father is speaking softly, but he can tell that the older man is very, very angry by the way his hands are shaking. "It says here that you have cut class more than ten times this marking period, Neji." His eyes scan the paper in his hands. "September twenty-third, October fourth, the tenth, thirteenth..." he glances up at his son, then back down at the paper. "Last Friday, the thirtieth."

Neji pales. His father knows that he has cut school before, and he was never this bothered by it. There had to be something else he was in trouble for. He frowns, frantically trying to remember why he had cut school last Friday.

Hiashi crumples the paper up and tosses it into the fireplace. The paper burns slowly, but Neji is to busy watching his father to pay attention to that.

When the older man speaks again, his voice is low and dangerous. "When I asked you if you were in school on Friday, you told me yes, did you not?"

"Yes, father." Neji's voice cracks just a little.

"Do you know why I asked you?"

"No, f-father."

"I asked you," His father's voice raises slightly. "Because Friday afternoon, I received a call from Mrs. Yamanaka, who said she saw you downtown around noon." He pauses. "She said you were not alone."

"Father--" Suddenly, it clicks. Fear coils in the pit of Neji's stomach.

"She said that the person who was with you was tall--"

"Father, please--" Oh, no...

"--Had red hair--"

"No, father, it wasn't--"

"-- And a multitude of tattoos on his arms. She asked me if I knew anyone who fit the description." Hiashi's eyes are glittering with anger. "Does this person sound familiar, Neji?"

Neji can hardly believe what he is hearing. He had been so careful, never bringing Gaara around to the neighborhood, staying away from schools in case he was seen by one of Hinata's friends, making sure they were never together in crowded places. He hadn't even intended on spending the day with Gaara on Friday, but the older man had pulled into the Hyuuga driveway just as Neji had been leaving for school and asked if he wanted to spend the day with him. Neji, of course, couldn't say no to him.

"I--" Neji cuts himself off, not knowing what to say.

"And after you had assured me that you were in school the whole day, I called Mrs. Yamanaka back and explained to her that it couldn't have been you, that you would never cut class or purposely disobey your father to go gallivant around town with a man nearly a decade older than you!"

"Father, I can explain! Gaara was just--"

Hiashi snaps. "I told you to stay away from him!" His father yells, seemingly angered just by the male's name. His calm lawyer-like attitude has vanished; now the man's fury is evident on his face.

"I can't!" Neji stands up and immediately feels less cornered. "I told you, daddy, I lov--"

WHAM.

Neji nearly crashes to the ground. He steadies himself on the arm of the chair with one hand and cradles his face where his father struck him seconds before. "Wha--" Tears form at the corners of his eyes.

"He has a criminal record, Neji!"

Neji sniffs, wiping his eyes. His face stings but he ignores it as he gets up slowly. "You don't even know him, daddy, how can you even--"

"He's dangerous, Neji! Can't you see that? When I told you that you were not to see him anymore I was doing it to protect you!" His father looms over him, his fists clenched tightly. Standing in front of the fireplace, Hiashi's face is shadowed, making him look even more dangerous. The fire crackles behind him, and Neji can see his younger sisters peering in through a crack in the door.

"But daddy, he needs me!" Neji says pleadingly. Why didn't his father understand? Hadn't he noticed the ways Neji had changed from before he met Gaara? The tears overflow and he starts to cry in earnest. "He's had a terrible life, daddy, if you only knew the stories... but I make him happy, I--"

"He's using you, idiot boy! Do you honestly think a grown man would be interested in you for your personality? The only thing he wants from you is--"

"You're LYING!" Neji yells, his eyes so clouded by tears that he can't even make out his father's face anymore. "You don't know anything about him, daddy, he says he loves me, he cares about me, you--"

Hiashi hits him again with all of his strength. Neji falls to the ground with a cry, clutching his face. He hears a gasp from one of his sisters as he wipes blood from his mouth.

Neji shakily pushes himself up from the ground.

"You don't understand." He whispers. "You just don't understand. I love--"

"Say it again, Neji." Hiashi's voice is low and full of rage, and Neji is more afraid of him now than ever before. "Say it one more time and so help me God—"

Neji looks down at the expensive Oriental rug.

Gaara...

"I love him." He breathes.

"Get out. OUT!" Hiashi roars, moving as if he was going to strike his son again. Neji scrambles to his feet and flees from the room, bypassing Hinata and Hanabi who are huddled together in the hall. He throws open the front door and leaves as fast as he can.


10:57PM

- o -

Neji has never been in Gaara's neighborhood after dark. At night, it looks completely different. The houses look large and foreboding, the streets deserted. Everything is hidden in shadow. The houses in this part of town were once new and proud; now they were old and deteriorating. Lawns were unkempt, streetlights broken. It looks as if city officials didn't even know that the place existed. Dogs growl at him from alleyways and men drive past in cars, eyeing him up and leering.

The wind picks up and Neji shivers, wishing he had at least taken a jacket with him. He's only wearing a thin name-brand hoodie and old jeans, and it is now a lot colder than it was this afternoon. He starts walking a little bit faster, attempting to tuck strands of his long brown hair behind his ear as the wind whips it around his face. His lip still stings from where his father hit him the first time, but it has stopped bleeding. He can feel dried tears on his face.

Gaara's house finally comes into view, and when Neji squints he can see a car with its lights on in the driveway. He starts to feel worried; who would be visiting at this time of night? If anything, Gaara would be out at a bar or something. But Neji knows for a fact that the tiny brick house never receives any visitors. He ventures closer, and soon realizes that the shiny black car is Gaara's.

The red-haired man exits the house and walks briskly over to the car just as Neji reaches the end of the driveway. He is carrying a large brown box filled to the top with various items, none of which Neji can make out because it is so dark. Besides the car headlights, only the lamp above the house's front porch is there to illuminate the two of them.

"What... what are you doing?" Neji asks, slowly walking up the driveway.

The older man looks up, an expression of mild surprise on his face. His eyes land on the boy's small frame and he curses softly under his breath. He drops the box into the trunk of the car, but instead of stopping to talk to the other male, he starts walking back to the house. Neji follows him, bewildered.

"What are you doing?" Neji asks again, hoping that Gaara hadn't heard him the first time.

"Leaving." The redhead barks his response as he enters the house, the screen door slamming behind him. A minute later he re-emerges, carrying three more boxes.

Neji is stunned. Leaving? To go where? He dashes over to his boyfriend. "W-Why?"

"Don't ask questions." Gaara growls, shoving the next two boxes into the trunk. Great. This is exactly what I need. He had been planning on making his exit as quiet as possible, but then the kid just had to show up. He wonders momentarily what the boy was doing out this late at night; He knew that Neji had a curfew, and it was, as the kid's father would put it, a 'school night'.

Neji is taken aback by Gaara's icy response. "You're leaving?" He asks again, just to make sure. "A-and you weren't even going to say goodbye to me?" He could not believe this was happening. First the fight with his father, and now this? It had to be a dream. More tears sting at his eyes, and he tries furiously to hold them in. Calm down, Neji. Don't start crying again. You're not a child.

Gaara stops. Neji sounds so tiny, so frail... this was one of the reasons why he didn't want to see him before he left. His mother's words ring in his head. A pedophile.

Sighing, he sets the last box down on the ground, then offers his hand to Neji. The younger boy accepts it and Gaara pulls him into an embrace.

"Neji... I did something really, really bad. And if I don't get out of here, I'm going to be in a lot of trouble." Gaara finds himself unconsciously running his fingers through the younger male's hair. He closes his eyes and lowers his face to Neji's neck. Before he can stop himself, he inhales deeply, savoring the scent of the boy. Neji makes a small noise in the back of his throat, and Gaara can feel him relaxing in his arms.

Isn't that cute.

Neji buries his face into Gaara's chest. "It can't be that bad. I know you've been to jail before. Maybe my father can—"

It seems as if mentioning his father to Gaara had the same effect as mentioning the redhead to Hiashi. The older man looks up sharply, abruptly releasing his hold on the brunet. "Are you serious? Your dad was the asshole who put me in jail in the first place." Gaara snaps.

"W-what?" Neji looks up in shock. Daddy? Neji had no idea that his father even knew about Gaara before they started dating. Hiashi didn't like to talk about his cases that often. "Daddy put you in jail?"

"Yes, 'daddy put me in jail'." Gaara mimics harshly, suddenly not wanting to deal with the emotional younger boy. He pushes him away, ignoring the way his heart contracts when he sees the boy stumble backwards. He's such a child. "Because I'm a criminal. Understand?"

Neji steadies himself against the open trunk of the car. He knew that Gaara had been to jail before, but for what, or the details of the cases, were lost to him. Everything he had known about the man's criminal record he had heard around town-- either from gossipy girls in his classes at school or the snooty adults at his father's country club. He had never approached Gaara directly about it. Neji had always just assumed that it would be something the redhead wouldn't want to talk about, and besides, that was all in the past, right?

"Gaara..." Neji reaches for Gaara's hand hesitantly. "You- you're not a criminal to me." He knows it sounds kind of... stupid, but he can't think of anything else. He had to say something, anything to make Gaara stay, even if it made him look completely childish. He needed Gaara to stay so badly.

Shukaku is laughing freely in Gaara's mind. Unbelievable! He doesn't know shit about you. What a--

Shut up, Shukaku!

The red-haired man yanks his hand from Neji's grip and picks up the last box, dropping it on top of the others. Neji watches as he returns to the house and turns off the porch light, then shuts and locks the front door. Tears are slowly leaking out of the boy's eyes as he imagines returning home, knowing the he would never see the man he loved again. His father would be completely ecstatic about the fact that he was right all along about Gaara. Hanabi had never liked Gaara, and Hinata was terrified of him. How can he face his family, knowing what their reactions would be? How can he go back to school and face the perverted upperclassmen, who would probably start stalking him again as soon as they found out Gaara left town? How could he face his friends, and tell them the man he was in love with had abandoned him?

And, most importantly, how could he go on without Gaara? The man meant everything to him.

It seemed as if there was only one thing he could do.

"Let--let me go with you." The words sound strange in Neji's mouth, and he almost can't believe he said them.

"What?" Gaara laughs, slamming the trunk of the car shut. "You've got to be kidding, babe."

"I'm serious!" Neji grabs Gaara's hand again. The older man hesitates, and Neji takes advantage of it and throws himself into his arms.

"Neji..." Gaara starts, unsure of how he was going to break the news to the kid. "Look, I'm going to miss you, but--"

"Let me go with you, then! I won't get in your way, I promise! I-- I wouldn't be able to stand it if you left me, please!" The tears are running freely down Neji's face and soaking into Gaara's shirt. "Oh, Gaara, you don't know—you have no idea how much—"

For the first time in his life, Gaara is amazed. The kid is completely, one hundred percent serious, and he has no idea why. Why on earth would Neji want to leave his life behind for a fuck up like him? The kid had everything; he was extremely wealthy, he went to a prestigious school, he had a loving family, great friends, and anything else a teenage boy could want. What did Gaara possibly have that could lure Neji away from all of this?

He laughs again, running a hand through his hair as the boy continues to sob into his shirt. "It's not funny!" Neji cries, pounding a fist into Gaara's chest. "Gaara, I love you!"

"Stop." Strong hands grip Neji's shoulders and he is abruptly pulled away from his boyfriend's chest. "Neji, you don't understand."

Gaara holds the smaller male by his shoulders and kneels down so he is at eye level with the brunet. Pale eyes shiny with tears stare back at him. "I killed my mother." Gaara says stonily.

It seems as if the wind blowing around them stops. The flickering porch light freezes on off, and the hum of the car fades into the background.

Neji's blood runs cold.

The rumors are true, is the first thing the Hyuuga thinks dazedly. His eyes take in Gaara's cold expression, the way his hands are shaking slightly as he holds Neji's shoulders, the dark stains on his shirt that had previously gone unnoticed...

"He's dangerous, Neji! Can't you see that?"

His body goes slightly limp and it's only Gaara's hands on his arms that keep him up. He clutches Gaara's upper arms, all of a sudden feeling extremely dizzy. He doesn't notice as Gaara gently, but firmly, sets him on the ground.

"That makes me a murderer, baby. You got that?" Gaara is speaking slowly, as if towards a child. Which technically, Neji still is. He pries Neji's fingers from his arms and stands up, green eyes focused on the boy on the ground before him.

Neji shakes his head, dark hair flying about. "No, no, no..." A murderer...

"Go home, Neji." Gaara turns his back on the boy. He walks around to the driver's door and opens it, sliding into the car. "Go home to your nice little rich family."

He slams the door close. His seatbelt is snapped into place, and he adjusts the rearview mirror. He takes a deep breath to steady himself. Gaara doesn't know why seeing the boy in this state was affecting him so much. Maybe because the only thing Neji did was smile when he was around Gaara; seeing him in tears made something tighten in Gaara's chest. He didn't know what it was.

Neji, meanwhile, doesn't know what to do. Gaara killed someone. His body feels cold, but he's not sure if it's because he's frightened or because Gaara is no longer holding on to him. Gaara killed someone. On purpose. He wraps his arms around himself as he shivers. His mother. Gaara killed his mother.

But did that really matter to him? He loved Gaara. No one else had ever made Neji feel the way he did with the redhead. Not his friends, not his family, not even Neji's first boyfriend Shikamaru before he moved last year. Neji wouldn't be able to live with himself if he never saw the man again. What if Gaara got caught? What if he went to jail? What if he died?

The thought of finding out his boyfriend was dead from the ten o'clock news made the tears well up behind his eyes once more. He couldn't just-- just stand by and watch as Gaara walked out of his life.

Gaara had fully expected Neji to run off crying as soon as he told him what he did. He had been prepared to finally pull out of the driveway and onto the road, but--

He's still standing there.

What? Goddammit. He glances over at the boy, and instantly wishes he hadn't. Tears are streaming from Neji's large pale eyes. The wind is blowing the kid's hair all over the place, but he doesn't seem to care. He looks pleadingly at Gaara, sniffling and wiping his face with the sleeve of his hoodie. There seems to be a bruise on his lip that Gaara hadn't noticed before, and he wonders if he did it.

He contemplates turning on the radio to block out the sounds of the boy's sobs, but decides against it. What the hell is the kid still doing here? Shit, Neji, just leave already!

Sighing, Gaara lowers his window. "Look, I'm sorry. Okay?" He attempts.

"But I..." Neji's slender hands are clasped tightly together in front of his chest. "I thought you l-loved me." He says pleadingly.

"Baby--"

"--You told me you loved me!" Neji shouts, ivory eyes closed tightly.

Fuck. Please don't let him wake the neighbors.

Shukaku can't stop laughing. You're in trouble now, Gaara.

Gaara shuts his eyes in frustration. He knew he would live to regret saying that to the boy. The night he said it had been the first and only time they had sex. He didn't understand why it had meant so much to the boy at the time; some whore he had picked at a bar had said it to him a week prior to that night, and he had just repeated it to Neji. Gaara instantly knew that it was a mistake from the way the boy's face had lit up, but it didn't really seem all that important to Gaara at the time.

Neji takes a step closer to the car. "You lied to m-me."

He's lied to you about a lot more than that, kid.

"No, no, I wasn't lying, I just..." Gaara stops himself. What the fuck was he doing? He didn't owe the boy an explanation. He should be leaving. All he has to do is apply pressure to the pedal and he could be off, he could get the fuck out of this town and never look back. Leave his mother's dead body, leave the beautiful, devoted, minor crying on his driveway until his rich lawyer father came and found him.

...Something is holding him back.

"Neji..." He re-opens his eyes and looks at the boy. Beautiful. Even when he's like this.

"I don't care! I don't care if you were lying. Even if you might not love me, Gaara, I swear--"

No one had ever been this attached to him. No one had ever loved him the way Neji says he does. Did Gaara really want to leave him behind? The only person who valued Gaara above his life, his family, his own self?

You really gonna leave him behind? Look, he's so saaaad...

Gaara wonders how many more years he would get tacked onto his sentence for statutory rape. Not to mention the fact that if he ever got caught, the kid's asshole of a father would probably accuse Gaara of kidnapping his son.

But that was only if he were caught. And Gaara really had no intention of letting that happen.

"...That I love you. I would do anything for you, Gaara, please take me with you!" The last words are muffled. Neji has thrown himself over the hood of the car, sobbing into his arms with abandon.

Gaara doesn't respond, both hands gripping the steering wheel tightly. He closes his eyes again, trying to block out Shukaku's laughter and Neji's sobs. Pedophile.

Shit, boy, just grab him and go.

Disgusting. But Neji was beautiful. He was beautiful and intelligent and one of the best things in Gaara's life at the moment. So why not? Why not take the kid with him? Who was there to stop him?

He exhales slowly, flexing his fingers on the steering wheel.

What could it hurt? You're going to hell anyway.

Finally, he inclines his head to the right.

"Get in."

Neji looks up, "Really?"

Gaara revs the engine. The noise echoes off of all the surrounding houses. "Now. Before I change my mind."

Neji throws open the door to the passenger seat. Instead of sitting down, he throws himself across the divider in the middle and kisses the redhead hard. Neji's lips are soft as always, and Gaara can taste the boy's tears on his tongue. The older male pulls Neji up on his lap, kissing him back with just as much force. He cradles the dark-haired boys skull tightly, but Neji doesn't seem to mind. He allows Gaara entrance into his mouth and Gaara devours him, pushing his tongue against every inch of the boy's orifice. Neji responds eagerly, fingers clutched tightly in the front of Gaara's shirt and gasping into the older male's mouth.

Neji's back is pushed up against the steering wheel, and he arches when Gaara's hand slides under his hoodie. Shukaku is laughing in the back of his mind. Mother was right. He says, but Gaara is too busy enjoying the underage boy in his lap to think up a reply.

At last, they part. The digital clock above the radio buttons blinks 11:08pm. Neji is smiling through his tears as he settles back into the passenger seat, fastening his seatbelt at the same time. "You won't regret it, Gaara, I promise. I'll do everything I can to help you. Everything." He is hiccupping as he says this, wiping the tears from his face with his sleeve.

The boy's white eyes are rimmed with red, and there are dried tears staining his face, and the bruise on his lip looks angry and dark up close. But the way Neji is smiling at him, so bright and beautiful, like everything is going to be alright, makes Gaara unable to see any of the other imperfections.

"Yeah." Gaara runs a hand through his hair.

This should be interesting. Shukaku laughs.

Shut up, will you? Gaara responds, shifting the car into gear. With a final glance at the house in the rearview mirror, he drives out into the street. Neji is still hiccupping softly beside him, wiping his face with his sleeve and smiling gently.

The car speeds off into the night, leaving the neighborhood silent once more.