You Came, Part One

During the summers, Gaara took classes at the local community college. Art classes. His portfolio could rival just about any fourth-year Art Major's. From his sixth year of school to his present ninth year, he had become so good that he was offered a job as the teacher's aide at his high school.

High school had been much worse than they said it would be. The redhead had known that from the start. He was never liked and going to a place where your popularity controlled your role, Gaara knew it would just suck.

He was an artist, Gaara was, and popularity didn't suit him. His favorite colour was black and he wore it often. He even wore it around his eyes – make-up wasn't only for those jumpy, cheery girls with the blond hair and short skirts. His ears were pierced as well as his lip - generally, that didn't count if you wanted to be popular – not that he did. He just preferred to be alone.

Alone, save one person.

A boy named Naruto.

They met in an Advanced Art class where Gaara was actually the teacher. On the first day, Naruto had tried to come into the class and upon seeing his clothing; Gaara had tried to refuse him entry. No one in Gaara's class wore polo's and khakis. Seriously. However, upon closer review of his class list, it became apparent that Naruto was, in fact, supposed to be in his class.

Throughout the first semester, things between the two were quite rocky. Only sharpened by the distinct differences between teacher and pupil.

The only thing that served to dull those deadly cliffs was their style. Not in clothing or in friends; not in personality or in expression; but in painting and in drawing. One was dark in the way shadows creep and silence screams; while the other was dark in the way loneliness follows and pain breeds.

After the first semester, the two were relatively nice to each other.

After the first year, they had reached an understanding.

After the second year, they were friends.

During their third year, Naruto invited Gaara to a party to celebrate the successful season of football Naruto had just had. And to tell him something important. Naturally, Gaara declined, asking for a rain check. Being the man that he was, Naruto accepted the rain check, and promised with a signature smile, to hold his redheaded friend to it. The rest of the year went off without a hitch and the two became closer friends.

Still, over the summer, Gaara would never go out with Naruto where the blonde's teammates would be. Too many bad things could happen. You see, Gaara didn't get along with Naruto's friends - they had picked on him, beaten him up and generally made his life a living hell – before Naruto had stepped into the picture. Naruto had assured him over and over again that nothing bad would happen, but the redhead could not bring himself to go.

Soon, it got to the point that football star was beginning to pull away from the emo artist. Not because he really wanted to, but because he felt like he was getting pushed further and further from the redhead. Further and further from the one thing he had come to want most. But, he wasn't going to let the redhead ruin something that could be. Naruto wasn't going to let Gaara go that easily. Or at least, he hadn't planned on it.

Then their senior year started and Gaara was always busy working on his portfolio for college and Naruto got more and more into football, knowing that it would be the only thing to get him into college. Then, the invites stopped. The talking stopped - the smiles and the friendly waves, the subtle glances and the silent understanding, it all stopped.

A few weeks passed.

One day, late after school, Gaara made his way to the parking lot with his portfolio under his arm only to find a rather odd person sitting on the trunk of his car. Inside, he smiled.

"Practice?" The redhead asked.

"Canceled," replied the blond.

"Why?"

"Game."

"Tonight?"

"Friday."

"Oh?"

"Yea."

An awkward pause.

"Move?" The redhead questioned, lifting coal outlined emeralds to sapphires.

"Sure."

The blond hopped down off of his perch on the redhead's trunk and stood awkwardly by as the artist put his portfolio in and closed the trunk. The two leaned against the side of the car, a few inches from each other, close enough to be almost intimate.

"Dinner?" The blond asked softly, fingering the hem of his Letterman's jacket.

"Tonight?" The artist asked, looking over at the quarterback's nervously fiddling fingers.

"Yes."

"Sure."

"Now?" Gaara asked, watching the blond fidget.

"Yes," the blond replied.

"Okay," the redhead replied moving to the driver's side of his car and opening the door.

"Actually," Naruto began, "I was hoping you would ride with me…?"

"Oh. Alright." Gaara closed his door and smiled a rare smile at his friend. "I'd like that."

After Gaara locked his car, the two made their way – quite amicably – towards Naruto's car. Inside, the silence was comfortable as Gaara looked through Naruto's iPod, searching for something acceptable. Just as the first Linkin Park song started to play, Naruto started up the car and they were off.

Dinner was great and the company was better. The two laughed – or Naruto laughed and Gaara cracked a few smiles. Conversation flowed easily and their spirits lifted, or at least Naruto's did, for he had something important to ask Gaara. The football player gained more and more confidence as the dinner progressed and by the time the waiter came around with the dessert menu, he was feeling really good about receiving a positive response to his question.

After the two enjoyed their desserts, the bill came, Naruto reached for it but the quickness of Gaara's reflex caught him off guard, "I'm buying. You drove, I'll buy. It's only fair."

The blond blushed but nodded, his hand behind his head, rubbing his neck. "Alright."

Gaara paid the bill and smiled to himself as Naruto fidgeted. It was quite obvious that the blond had something on his mind; the redhead stood up and pushed his chair in. He pulled his jacked on and waited for the blond to get everything situated. "Spill it, Naruto."

Blue eyes looked up, completely shocked, "What are you talking about?"

"You're thinking about something, and you're thinking quite hard. I can see the wheels turning." Gaara started walking towards the door, looking back over his shoulder at his friend.

The blond blushed and scratched the back of his head, "I… I was just thinking that… Maybe you'd come to our last football game? It's senior night and I thought… I just thought that since it is the last one ever, you might make an exception and come? I would really like you to be there."

The redhead opened his mouth to say something but closed it quickly when nothing came out. He tried again, "Naruto, you know why I don't go to the games. It isn't because I don't want to see you play, it's just… Football really isn't my thing. I don't understand what's going on and I think it's kind of stupid that you put yourself out there to get tackled and possibly hurt all for the sake of some stupid leather ball."

Upon seeing Naruto's fallen expression, the redhead sighed and tried to lighten the mood. "Besides, it's supposed to rain. You know I melt."

Naruto cracked a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes, but he turned his head quickly and nodded, "Alright. I understand."

The ride back to Gaara's car was a quiet one, even as 'The Little Things Give You Away' started to play softly in the background. By the time they reached Gaara's car, the silence had become awkward and unbearable. Without making it too obvious, Gaara quickly got out of the car and closed the door. Turning to say goodbye, he was too late as Naruto sped out of the parking lot.

Gaara sighed loudly and get into his car and turning it on, he sped home as well.

The next day was awkward in school. Gaara felt like the entire football team was glaring at him, even more than usual. He ignored them, but as it got closer and closer to one thirty, the artist got more and more frustrated. He was certain now that the team was glaring at him and even following him around. As he entered his art class, he had every intention of telling Naruto – none to nicely – to tell his teammates to leave him the hell alone.

But the blond quarterback never showed.

After the class, Gaara went in search of the blond, even more pissed than before. Glancing at his watch, he realized that it was three fifteen – time for the football team to be at practice. Making his way up to the field house, he found the last person he wanted standing in the middle of the road.

Rolling his eyes, he growled low in his throat, "Where's Naruto?"

Watching at irritated redhead, the brunette tilted his head and offered a wickedly furious grin, "You know… If I knew that, I wouldn't be here."

Perfect, Gaara thought, just perfect. He's pissed! This isn't going to get me anywhere. "Look, Kiba, I just need to talk to him."

The brunette smiled viciously, "Isn't that a coincidence! After he talked to you last night, he never showed up at my house or at school today. He did call me though, just now. And I don't get it, not any of it, but whatever. He wanted me to give you a message."

The redhead nodded, watching the pacing brunette. Idly, Gaara mused that the brunette reminded him of a caged dog watching its prey – it pulled a slight upturn of his lips. "Yes?"

Kiba growled, obviously ready for a fight, "He says that he… Gods help me, but I don't understand how… He says that he's in love with you. He says that wants you to come to the game and see him play just once. That he loves you and wants nothing more than for you to come see him play."

Gaara was speechless.

"You're such a prick, do you know that!?" Kiba growled, "You could at least have the decency to come to his last high school game!" Kiba took a step forward, looking for Gaara to take his challenge. Normally, Gaara would have stood up to him, but not this time.

This time, Gaara took a step back and turned away, heading towards his car.

"Do you hear me, coon-face!? Are you even listening!?" Kiba yelled, flailing his arms, his face bright red.

He drove off, faster than he knew was safe, but his world was spinning. Naruto was in love with him? Naruto – the popular football star, the boy everyone loved! was in love with him! His tummy was all aflutter and he could have sworn that his heart was trying to climb up his throat and leap out of his mouth. There's no way! No way.

But, thinking back, things started to fall into place. The looks Naruto gave him. They casual way the blonds' hands would graze the artist's thighs, wrists, or Naruto's fingers seemed to twitch when their hands were in close proximity – almost as if Naruto wanted to reach out and take Gaara's hand. The subtle glances, the smiles, the way Naruto watched Gaara even across the lunchroom; everything was beginning to fall into place.