Chapter 9: I'd Like To Be The Beginning, The End And The In-Between

"Are you okay?" Temari asked as she walked into her little brother's room. Her concern for Gaara had worsened. He wouldn't come down to eat, he barely said anything to her or Kankuro when he bothered to stop by for a visit. She wondered what could have happened to her brother to make him revert in such a state.

She had thought the school was going well, Gaara had spent a good month there without problems and without angry principals and/or teachers calling her to schedule a meeting between them. Temari thought that Gaara had finally mended his ways and, for once attempted to act civil - if nothing else - towards other people. But then the phone call she received about a week ago pretty much disintegrated all the hopes she had for the youngest member of their family.

Stepping into the room more, she hear Gaara's slightly gravely voice call out.

"I'm fine."

She paused in her place, contemplating the best course of action. She didn't want to anger him, but it was still her duty to look after him and make sure he was well, weather he wanted her to or not. "Is there anything you want to talk about?" she asked softly, tilting her head to the side and eying the lump formed underneath the green coverlet.

"No." Was the only spoken reply.

"You sure?"

"I said I was fine."

Temari blinked and cringed some at the impatience in Gaara's voice. He sounded terrible. She made a mental note to fix some soup later and bring it up to his room. He wouldn't eat it, but it didn't hurt to hope.

"...Alright." she whispered softly, padding out of the room, closing the door on her way out. She wished she knew what was wrong with the red head, but she would be damned before he would tell her anything about his personal life. That's the way Gaara was. She doubted even Kankuro knew what was wrong. The look on his face as she returned to the kitchen said it all.

"So...how is he?" he asked reproachfully, leaning an elbow against the small, circular dinning room table. Annemarie let out a deep sigh before standing in front of the stove once more, picking up the lid to a medium sized steaming pot and stirring the contents casually.

"He still won't say anything."

"And you have no idea why he wanted to come home so early?"

"Nope." She admit, setting the chopstick down once more to look through the cabinet for the correct spices. She sniffed through a couple before she found the right one and sprinkled the herb into the mixture in the pot. "He just called me and asked to come pick him up. He seemed really upset about something, but every time I try and ask he pushes me away."

Kankuro nodded, a brief thoughtful look flashing across his face for a moment. He stood and pushed Temari aside, grabbing the wooden ladle and a pack of dried noodles. Temari sighed again, taking the seat her brother was just recently occupying.

"Give him some time, he'll open up eventually." He offered, breaking up the noodles into the pot and slowly stirring.

Temari followed the movements of the wooden spoon slowly, placing her chin in her hands before replying, "...I don't know."


Gaara really wished he wasn't allowed alone to think, but he wanted it that way. Every since he had been home, that was all he could do; think. About school. About Naruto. About Neji. About the reason why he wanted to go home so abruptly. What was worse was he couldn't figure out if he wanted the events to happen that way or not.

Oh well.

You can't change the past.


Walking all the way down to the end of the hall, he and the taller brunette stopped just outside of his classroom. He was just about to pull the door open when Kiba stopped him, a hand on his arm. He looked up at the boy with a questioning glance. Kiba tapped his ear then pointed at the closed door.

Gaara strained to hear but there were a few muffled sounds coming from the supposedly empty class. He smirked in triumph. Looking back up to the brunette beside him, Gaara's smile faded. Kiba was frowning.

"Kiba-san?" He whispered, but the Inuzuka's frown just deepened as he stared intensely at the closed door. That's when Gaara heard it as well.

He could only pick out bits and pieces of the conversation, but it was enough to tell what the two in the room were talking about.

"...have to tell him... because he is your best friend." Definitely Neji's voice.

"What about you... what are you going to do about him?" Naruto's voice, which was smaller and softer by comparison of his regular tone. Gaara couldn't make out the brunette's reply, but he heard, "...And when he finds out about us, don't you think that's exactly what he'll believe?"

There was a pause, and then Neji's voice. "I made my intentions clear from the beginning. I never asked for a serious relationship with Gaara."

"Then what were you doing with him?"

"I was trying to forget." Neji said weakly.

"Forget? Forget what?" Naruto huffed, throwing his hands in the air.

"You."

Naruto paused at that and just stared at the brunette in front of him. After a moment he sighed, "... Damn it, Neji. That's reckless."

"Having to hear that from you," Neji looked up into Naruto's blue eyes frowning heavily, "How do you think I feel right now?"

Naruto moved away from the Hyuuga, rubbing the back of his neck irritatedly.

"Well aren't we a pair..." Neji blew out a quick breath of air in annoyance.

"So what are you going to do?"

"I told you, the moment Kiba can stand to look at me in the face, I'll tell him. I'll tell him about us, about the last two years. I'll tell him everything." He paused to look at the brunette who seemed to be in serious contemplation. This situation wasn't the ideal one that Naruto had imagined. He never thought Neji would go and do something so reckless... it wasn't like him at all. Man, I must have screwed things up pretty bad then, he told himself silently. "What about you?"

Neji looked at the blonde quickly then turned his face away. He didn't want it to be this way, but the results were going to turn out the same no matter what he did. So, for once he would try to be straight forward and honest.

"I have no other choice, do I? Gaara will understand." he said with conviction.

Gaara stepped away from the door, eyes wide, almost not wanting to believe his ears. What just happened? Was he dismissed without a say so? For the first time in his life, Gaara was hurt. But that hurt quickly turned to rage, insulted at the utter audacity of the Hyuuga to play with him as he had. He turned and stormed off into the direction of his dorm. Kiba called after him, probably followed the red head a good way as well, but it was unknown to Gaara. All he saw, all he heard was tears.


Neji entered he and Gaara's shared room later that day. After the class had returned, Gaara had not, but he was not in place to go look for the red head at that moment. He waited patiently for class to end and became relieved once he saw the boy just as he walked into the door.

"Gaara, can I talk to you for... a moment?" The Hyuuga stopped dead in his tracks. Several suitcases were strewn about the room, some overfilled with clothes. He looked to Gaara who pulled items out of his drawers hastily. "What are you doing?" he asked, finally.

No answer.

"Why are you packing? Are you going somewhere?"

Silence.

"Gaara..." Neji moved forward to place a hand on the other boy's shoulder, but a pale hand quickly smacked the limb away.

"Don't touch me." Gaara growled dangerously, giving the brunette a harsh glare then turning back to continue packing. After a moment he said, "So what was I to you exactly? Some type of toy?" he didn't pause to look at the Hyuuga as he spoke. He couldn't, for fear that he would do something horrible. "Do you ever consider the emotions of other people?" he sighed, then laughed suddenly. "I guess not, you are one of them, after all."

"What is that suppose to mean?" Neji asked defensively, giving the red head space but not backing away either. Gaara was silent for a long time before shrugging.

"... It doesn't matter. I'm leaving, getting out of this stupid school." He shoved the rest of his things in his suitcases and snapped each one of them shut. At that moment, right on time, his phone began to ring. Answering it, he mumbled his understanding and flipped the devise shut. Gaara gathered up all his things and headed for the door, looking back at the brunette who couldn't do anything but stare in shock.

"Have a nice life."


Gaara growled and covered his head with a pillow. He had fell in love with the Hyuuga without ever really realising it. He hated himself for that, because of what the boy did. He was traded for someone else. Some one better? That knowledge tore at his soul as well, it was as if he wasn't good enough, for anyone. When will he ever be good enough? That question ripped at his conscious as well. As if all of his life he was shunned away for being himself, though he never resented himself for it. He took pride in being the way he was. At least I'm alive. Which was more than he could say for most people.

At the first ring of his cell, Gaara's arm reached out to snatch it.

"What." he grumbled irately, in no mood for simple manners. Though maybe the person on the other line would get the hint and leave him alone once they notice the temper he is in.

"Hnn," Deidara sighed on the other end. "That's no way to answer the phone."

"What do you want?"

A pause.

"I heard you were home early, un, want some company?"

"No." he said brusquely.

"Maa, why not?"

Before the blonde could complain more, Gaara hung the phone up in his ear. He was in no mood for company. He was in no mood for anything. He wanted to feel numb, but wasn't able to. He hated the way he felt, angry and sad at the same time, upset with everyone around him. He didn't want to feel this way but it wasn't as if he had a choice in the matter. He use to look at cheesy romance movies and think they were a joke. He use to laugh at the girl as she got her heart broken and bemoaned all of her woes to the world. He use to scoff at the end when the two got back together and everything was , somehow, all better again. He use to think romance and love was fiction.

'Use to.'

Past tense.


"Gaara, you have a visitor." Tamari called from the door.

Gaara sat up in bed abruptly. When had he fallen asleep? He looked out the window and noticed the waning sunlight and frowned. A visitor? He told Deidara he didn't want any company.

"I'm not here." he said, covering himself with the blanket once more. Temari smacked her lips from where she stood and placed her hands on her hips in an exhasperated fashion.

"Don't be so stubborn."

Silence, before a muffled: "...go away."

Temari sighed and entered the room fully to speak with her little brother. "Come on, Gaara. I hate seeing you so... pathetic. What's wrong?" She sat down on his bed and placed her hand on his back, rubbing it gently in massaging little circles. She felt him relax slightly under her touch, this fueld her hope. However, after another moment, the moving lump that was Gaara curled in upon himself even more and tensed up.

"Nothing."

"Gaara you have to stop this! Talk to someone, stop holding everything inside this way." At this point, the elder blonde was at the end of her rope, she didn't know how to deal with him anymore. He didn't want to talk, leaving him alone only seemed to make matters worse. Temari didn't know what to do, she was stuck...

"Go away." Gaara dismissed his sister after her outburst without any emotion behind his muffled voice.

Giving up, Temari nodded solemnly and stood from the bed. "Alright. But what about your guest?" If she couldn't get him out of this funk, then maybe someone else could.

"If it's Sasori or Deidara tell them I died."

Rolling her eyes, Temari scoffed. "And what if it's neither of them?"

"Well who else could it be?" Gaara poked his head out of the sheet in curiousity. Besides Sasori, Deidara and Lee on occasion (whether he wanted the boy to show up or not) no one came to visit. One reason was because his home was all the way in Suna, no one wanted to travel three hour journey from Konoha to there. Secondly, he didn't have many friends. He doubted many people from the Academy would stop by just to see how he was. It was a nice thought, but highly unlikely. Temari gave him a clever smirk.

"Hmm, maybe you should see for yourself. I'll bring him up." She then turned to walk out of the room, leaving Gaara confused and a little interested. Though he knew in the back of his mind that it was probably Sasori or Deidara.

"Ello Gaara."

The accent was enough to confuse the red head, but once he lifted his head to look at the male standing in his doorway, his eyes widened. He hadn't changed much since middle school.

"E-Elliot? What are you doing here?"

The boy smiled softly, still standing in the doorway, Gaara stood to greet him properly. He had gotten taller, though... Gaara noticed, noting the half a head worth of height difference. His limbs seemed longer, leaner, he probably still trained with Gen Fu at times. His face lost some of it's youth, but he still looked the same. Same blonde hair, same blue eyes. It was good seeing him again. Gaara almost lost himself and wrapped the other boy up in a hug, instead he offered a hand, which Elliot gladly accepted.

"I was in town" He explained as Gaara invited him into his room. "And decided for a visit" he looked around at the quaint sized room, noting all of Gaara's belongings. The red head didn't mind though, he would have shared just about anything with the boy.

Elliot paused in the middle of the room, turning to look at Gaara with a sad look on his face. "But it seems like I came at a bad time. Your sister told me you were upset about something." Gaara's face changed slightly, he looked down at the carpet, wondering how he would explain the situation to his long-time friend.

"Um... Yeah..." He started, then stopped, not completely sure how to continue. What would he say? That he fell in love with some jerk at school then got dumped? No... that's not what happened... In order to be dumped, the two of them would have to had been going out, dating. Neji made it painfully clear that what they were had nothing to do with either. Just friends. So how to explain?

"What happened?" Elliot proded curiously in his accent, tilting his blonde head to the side.

He almost said it. almost explained the situation, but for fear of what the other might think of him, Gaara clammed up. Instead he mumbled, "...nothing worth discussing." It was embarrassing and frustrating all at the same time.

Elliot continued smiling. "You sure? I don't mind listening."

"How have you been?" Gaara changed the subject. The blonde looked slightly dejected, but smiled and answered the question anyway.

"Great." he said honestly, though still keeping a few feelings to himself. Being in the same room with Gaara again was overwhelming.

"And the old goat?" He was referring to his old home school teacher. Despite their old fights and argument he missed the old man... and the company he use to have in Elliot. He wished everyone he knew could be like that. Gaara's eyes saddened, his mind wandering back to Neji again.

Blind to the troubled befalling the redhead, the taller blonde replied, "Still as spry as ever. He sends his love and best wishes." He sat on Gaara's bed, bouncing up and down a couple of times before coming to a complete standstill.

"Why didn't he stop by?" He sat down on the bed as well, facing towards the boy. Elliot seemed to think about his response before actually speaking.

"In his old age..." He began slowly. "He does not need the aggravation. You know how it can get whet you two are in a heated confrontation."

Gaara rolled his eyes, smiling. It was nice to just talk to someone he knew, about things that weren't important. "Figures. I'm surprised he hasn't died already. So, how is life in England?" the red head asked for the sake of changing the subject.

"I wouldn't know. I don't live there anymore."

"Why not?" Gaara frowned. Didn't British people always live in Britain? Where would he go? Did his parents allow him to go there or did something happen? a stranger sequence of events that caused him to move out of his parent home.

"Due to certain circumstances at home, I moved in with Master Gen Fu a few years ago." Elliot replied stoically.. He looked down at the floor, a calm, peacful expression taking over his features. "It's very nice there," he added after a while. "Peaceful. I get to help out around the house and a lot with his granddaughter too." He turned back towards Gaara, smiling happily.

"Hmm... " the red head thought, placing a hand on his chin. "That sounds nice." He allowed himself to smile, though it was only brief and the other could not see.

"Yeah, it's how I kind of pay rent since I'm saving up for university."

"Which one do you plan to go to?"

"Konoha."

Gaara blinked and almost choked on his own spit as he turned to look deer eyed at the other boy. "What?" he said incredulously. "Why Konoha University?"

The smile could not be wiped off of the blonde's face now. Gaara noticed how much nicer he looked when Elliot smiled and blushed faintly. Don't... Don't go down that path.

"I wanted to find one... close to you." The British boy said, smoothing out the wrinkles in his pants. "I know it seems foolish, but I missed you a lot, Gaara." It was the truth, he missed lost time spent with one of his best friends. He couldn't say that about very many people. Gaara was the one person in his life - he felt - needed and should be in it.

"It has been a long time." the red head nodded, becoming slightly uncomfortable. "Nearly three years." He counted off in his head.

What had I been doing in those three years? What has my life become since then? There were so many thoughts ruining through his mind, but he couldn't seem to focus on a single one. He would always have that doubt, the uncertainty about everything. But past actions can not be changed, no matter how many times he wished that they could.

"Un," The blonde agreed. "That much time can change a person, so I want to get to know you again, Gaara. I want to know what kind of person you have grown up to become. What kind of changes you have gone through. Tell me everything." he said excitedly.

"I'd rather not. Some changes probably weren't for the better." He hated to ruin the mood, but right now in his life, he wasn't happy with the changes he made. Changes made for the wrong reasons... for the wrong people.

"But everybody changes for a reason." But the red head stayed quiet, silently brooding to himself. Elliot smiled reflectively. "It's good to see that you are still prideful and stubborn. Somethings are very reluctant to change. But then, that is one of the things that make you... you."

"Yeah, you're still the same as well."

"In more ways than you know." His smile turned mysterious.

"Huh?"

Shrugging, the boy stood from the bed. "Let's go to lunch." Before Gaara could protest to the invitation, Elliot added, "I want to hear more about you, Gaara. I want to know the type of people you have befriended, the types of people you have loved and weather or not they have loved you back. And after we discuss you, all of you. Maybe I'll tell you a few things about me."

Gaara didn't think it was a very fair deal, but it was an invitation from a very dear friend. He couldn't just say no.


Epilogue

There was so much to do this year. He still hadn't made the call to Lee or Kiba to make sure what time they would be over for dinner. Lee was too busy with his long time girlfriend, Kasumi. During high school they became quite close. Gaara believed it was sometime after their first match against each other. They made quite the couple... indeed, though he would not like to see the two get into an argument. It was not long until they fell head over heals for each other. Three years after high school an they were still going strong. Because the two invited him to their engagement party, he thought it proper to invite them to Christmas. After all, Elliot did request that he send invites to as many people as possible.

Kiba spent his time 'redecorating' his and Shino's apartment. Later on, after the ordeal had happened, Gaara learned that the Inuzuka told hi mom of his sexual preferences. He was kicked out and practically disowned by his entire family. Though, he supposed the boy was luck that Shino and his family accepted him into their home when he had nowhere else to turn to.

Gaara watched pensively as his boyfriend walked in and out of different stoors. Shopping at this time of the year was the worst. He pulled the scarf up to his nose and huffed when he could still see his warm breath in the air. He switched his weight from one foot to the other and adjusted the shopping bags in his hands.

"Ell, are you done yet?" he growled from his position outside the store. Elliot stopped to look back at the redhead and smiled flawlessly.

"But Gaara, there are so many things to choose from." He held out more bags for the grumpy red head to take. "You won't believe what I got everyone, and I still have to look for Kankuro and Deidara's gift. They seem to be the toughest." he said thoughtfully, placing a hand on his cheek. Gaara rolled his eyes.

"Just hurry up then." he replied gruffly, face turning red from the cold.

Elliot smiled. "Are you getting cold?" He placed gloved hands on the redhead's cheeks and leaned his forehead on that of the red head. "You're freezing..." he whispered. Blushing, Gaara turned his eyes towards the passersby on the street.

"Just," he sniffed. "...finish your shopping." He tried hard to make himself sound more angry that he actually was.

"Ok." the blonde agreed, removing his scarf to wrap around the smaller male. Before turning back to the stores he kissed Gaara on the forehead.


Naruto stopped as he looked back when the hand in his pulled him to a stop. The other male's gaze was somewhere in the distance. He didn't bother to look, they had somewhere to be. He waved a hand in front of the brunette's face.

"Neji? What's wrong?"

The Hyuuga continued to stare out into the snow covered streets of Shibuya. He wasn't sure, but if the red hair was any indication, he had finally found the Sabaku. He smiled as a blonde haired boy interacted with the red head. So he's not alone after all... Realising that he had a certain other tugging at his arm as well, Neji turned his focus back onto the blonde.

"Sorry," he continued walking. Naruto frowned, looking back over his shoulder at the spot the Hyuuga was staring at.

"What's up, why'd you stop so suddenly?"

"I thought I saw someone." he explained quietly.

Naruto nodded. "And?"

He looked at the blue eyed man. "Shouldn't we be looking for baby presents? Hinata will be awful disappointed if we show up empty-handed." He watched the look of horror wash over Naruto's face with humor. Whoever that person was, I don't know him anymore.


Kyo - THERE it's finished. THEY DON'T END UP TOGETHER BUT EVERYONE STILL HAD A HAPPY ENDING.
You can thank me now.