Summary: A prime example of how an innocent conversation about crushes can spin rapidly out of one's control. NaruGaa. Yaoi.
A/N: I laugh at myself because of this story. I conceived it (pfft, what?) on Valentine's Day, telling myself that no, I wasn't going to start something else. I was already working on 2 other NaruGaa stories to boot. But then I wrote it anyway. Stupid story notes. Sometimes they can't be contained.
The Secondhand Emotion
"Gah! Why can't things be simple—simple!"
Naruto shuffled past Gaara, making that the fiftieth time he had circled around the room. As always, and always during such conversations, the Kazekage rather quickly progressed to the point of ignoring the other. Besides, Naruto didn't want attention. He wanted a solution to his problems. Somewhere along the line, the blond had gotten it into his head that Gaara might be able to help him.
"Gaara," Naruto whined, to which the redhead released an imperceptible sigh.
"You're not helping. You could say something—I don't know, something encouraging?"
"Encouraging," Gaara repeated, flatly.
"Yeah. I mean, how am I supposed to get Sakura's attention? No, I know how to get her attention, but she always ends up yelling at me. I thought she would've at least appreciated my little serenade. I mean, yeah, I don't have the best voice, but I definitely don't have the worst. Right?"
Gaara blinked before returning to his scroll.
"Gaara," Naruto drawled out again, coming behind his companion and shaking the redhead's shoulders. A thin layer of sand rose, slipping under Naruto's hands and gently pushing them away. Gaara never once moved. "You're still not helping," Naruto said.
"What do you want?" Gaara asked, tone apathetic as usual.
Naruto walked around the table, bracing his hands on the smooth, wooden surface. Again, their eyes met. "Advice."
"Advice," Gaara repeated, slowly.
"Yeah. Advice for how to approach Sakura."
And for the smallest of moments, something like dull astonishment seemed to color Gaara's expression. "You're asking me."
Naruto's mouth hung open, his own disbelief clearly revealed. "Uh, yeah. It's not that challenging of a question. Haven't you ever liked someone?"
It took Gaara a moment to reply, stoically: "Yes."
"Then what did you do? You know, to win them over."
Naruto's mouth was hanging open again. "Nothing?" He blinked a few times, throwing his hands up in the air before resting them again on the desk. "Nothing?" But Gaara's eyes had returned to the scroll, meaning the conversation was over. But Naruto was not going to let this one go. "No way, Gaara. I just can't believe this. You deserve to have someone, too!"
It may have been the freely-bared concern in Naruto's voice that made Gaara look up, facing him again with that blank face of his. Like his voice, Naruto's expression was welling with a disturbance which he did not attempt to hide. "I'm serious, Gaara," he continued. "Do you still like that person?"
"Then you need to tell them. Come on—we're seventeen, and I don't think you've ever had a girlfriend. Have you ever even been on a date?"
"You know—hanging out and going places together?"
Naruto's hands were up in the air again. "I don't get it. That's just not right. Anyone would be lucky to have you! You need to tell this person."
"Yeah. Tell them how you feel. Who knows what might happen? But seriously, Gaara. You need to tell that person that you like them. It's better than saying nothing."
"Okay. I like you."
"Exactly! Just like that! You walk up to them, and—wait, what?"
Gaara did not even blink as he said, again, "I like you, Naruto."
Naruto's lip sort of curled and he raised an index finger, before abandoning whatever that was about to turn into. "Huh? You…Me?" His resulting laugh sounded somewhat strangled. "Seriously? Okay, I almost believed you, Gaara."
"I am serious."
Naruto's teeth made a clicking sound as they came together. His blue eyes were open wide. "You…you really like me? You like me like…that?"
"Like—," Naruto's arms flailed in the air, "—more than a friend?"
"Yes. I like you more than a friend."
"What? No. Just no. No way." Naruto was making a circle around the room, one hand splayed across his forehead. "No way." He attempted to tell himself that Gaara could not possibly be serious, but when he looked at the other boy, that attempt failed. Gaara was serious. Gaara liked him. "You…" Anything else died on his tongue. For once in his life, the boy who did nothing but talk did not know what to say.
"You told me to tell the truth," said Gaara, plainly. "I don't see what the problem is."
"The problem? The problem?"
A grueling silence began to overtake the room. Gaara cut it short, his eyes turned back to his scroll. "We can pretend like I never said anything, if you prefer."
But for the rest of the afternoon, neither one of them said a thing.
During his next visit, Naruto was all smiles, all stories of the happenings in Konoha. Until his teeth clicked and he proceeded to circle around the room, so that Gaara's sigh was just slightly more perceptible this time.
"But, like—I never knew," Naruto said, halting in front of the Kazekage's desk. "Gaara," Naruto said, in that voice which implied that the blond wanted the other to face him.
Stonily, Gaara complied. "I thought we weren't going to talk about this."
At least Naruto had the courtesy—if that was even the right word—to look ashamed. "I know. I mean, I know…Yeah, it's just—I didn't expect it at all. Are you sure?"
"No, that's not—it's just, there were never any signs."
"Yeah, like stammering or blushing."
Suddenly, there was an acute awareness that perhaps Naruto had said the wrong thing, that perhaps Gaara's face was not always so severe. Certainly not as severe as it was now.
"I'm not Hinata," Gaara said slowly, eyes narrowed.
"I don't blush and stammer."
"Yeah, I know—"
A soft, grating sound was the only warning Naruto had before he felt sand wrap around his limbs, pushing him swiftly and firmly against the wall. The force of the impact—the sheer unexpectedness of the impact—had caused Naruto to shut his eyes. When he opened them, Gaara was suddenly standing in front of him, and he was suddenly very close. And very angry. And Naruto suddenly didn't know what to do because he was not used to Gaara being so expressive. He was used to the sitting-down-and-listening Gaara. Not the fling-your-companion-against-the-wall-with-sand Gaara.
"What did you expect, Naruto," Gaara said, an indignant timbre to his voice. "This?"
Naruto's shoulders jerked as the sand moved away from him, feeling, almost, like an invisible hand. Like Gaara's hand. And suddenly, there they were, Gaara's hands, resting on Naruto's shoulders. And there was Gaara's face, an angry face. A pained face? A face that leaned in, slowly, toward Naruto's face.
"Or this?" Gaara said, so that Naruto realized he was about to be kissed. Something quite clearly alerted him of this fact, and there was a certain impulse, an impulse which Naruto used to place his own hands on Gaara's chest and push him away.
Naruto expected Gaara to be mad, for the anger that most certainly had already been there to heighten. But Gaara was not mad, or at least if he was, he was back to hiding it.
"I don't understand you," Gaara said quietly. "You tell me to express my feelings, and then you act like I shouldn't have…And you wonder why I did nothing."
It was with these words that Gaara left. Only when he was nearly gone did Naruto turn, eyes locked on the retreating back of the Kazekage.
It was a month or so before things calmed down enough in Konoha for Naruto to take another trip to Suna, and so it wasn't as if an unusual amount of time had passed between this meeting and the last. Though, it certainly felt that way. Naruto filled Gaara in as usual, and, as usual, Gaara sat and listened.
Being that they had had their first real…fight? Was fight the right word? Being that they had had their first real issue of consequence since neither knew when, the best thing to do about it did in fact seem to be, well, nothing. Well, until a strange silence fell over the room, Naruto tapping his foot steadily, and then impatiently. And then he was full-blown mad.
"You actually used your sand on me!" Gaara pulled an ink well out of a desk drawer, seemingly ignoring that last comment. Naruto braced his hands roughly on the desk. "Your sand! On me, your—your friend! Of all the—gah! You're not even listening."
Dipping a quill into the blank ink, Gaara said, disinterestedly, "So we're still friends."
Naruto blinked. "Well, yeah. Yeah, of course we're still friends…I wouldn't…stop being your friend because of…that…"
It was quick, but Gaara did raise his turquoise eyes toward Naruto's blue ones. And then he was back to whatever business required his attention.
Naruto began pacing around the room. "Oh, hey," he paused. "I finally got to spend some time with Sakura. She asked me this time. Total surprise."
Gaara continued to scrawl something down. "And?"
Gaara paused. "…Nothing."
"After all that."
"Yeah. After all that."
The redhead's grip tightened, just slightly, on the pen. "Was it…because of me?"
"Yeah," Naruto stated shamelessly. Gaara looked at him. The blond looked as if, any moment, he might flee, or, at the least, break something. "All I could think about was you," he said, frustration evident. "I realized how badly I must've hurt your feelings. It would be painful if I had told Sakura how I felt only to have her disbelieve me or wish that I hadn't—not that I did either of those things, I'm just saying…I'm just—I'm a jerk. Sorry, Gaara."
Gaara stared at him. "You are a jerk. But I forgive you."
The scratching sounds of a pen on paper filled the warm air of the room as Gaara proceeded to work. For once, it was Naruto who stared at Gaara. It was all right—at first. But Gaara was not particularly fond of being stared at—to the point that he finally said, "What?"
"What?" Naruto said, jumping slightly, as if slipping from a trance. "Oh, never mind. Well…maybe not."
Ignoring this last meaningless string of words, Gaara's penmanship ensued.
When silence persisted, Gaara begrudgingly looked up from his desk. Naruto was fixing him with a very strange look. A very strange and disturbing look.
"Um…yeah," Naruto said. "This is a really weird question, but…yeah. Yeah, I'm just gonna ask. So, can I…kiss you?"
Gaara's pen snapped crisply between his fingers, the cracking sound nearly alive in the air. With his standard grace, he placed the pieces aside and picked up a new quill. "Very funny," he said.
"No, really," Naruto said, so that he actually looked serious when he said, "I'm serious. I mean, maybe…maybe I don't like Sakura."
Gaara was calm. At first. And then, there was that sudden awareness that perhaps Naruto had said the wrong thing once again, because he could see something that began on the borders of Gaara's face, something which was steadily taking over that customary calm. Something like anger. But not explicit anger. No, it was a quiet anger—calm, in its own right. It was the worst kind of anger.
"I'm not your guinea pig," Gaara stated firmly, chair legs screeching across the floor as he stood.
Naruto started toward him. "I know—"
"I'm not some outlet for your curiosity."
"Yeah, I know—" The sand whispered as it snaked over the floor and into the air, a defense mechanism that instantly activated as Naruto gripped Gaara's arms and pushed him against the wall. Gaara was openly glaring at him. Naruto had never been so close to that glare, to those eyes. "…I know."
Though he could feel the sand curling around his ankles and could quite clearly see the redhead's strict expression, Naruto kissed Gaara.
It began as one of those careless sort of things, one of those just-lean-in-and-do-it sort of things. But it did not remain that way. The sand that was suspended in the air seemed to remember gravity, for it fell. Falling, yes. That was a little bit was it was like. Naruto himself seemed to fall into that kiss. And Gaara didn't exactly stop him—not exactly, so that all Naruto could think about during the whole—interaction was how Gaara had warm lips. That was all that seemed to make sense, anyway. That, and the brusque realization that Gaara's mouth most certainly twitched beneath his own—twitched like any girl's mouth might. And suddenly, the odd comprehension that kissing Gaara wasn't very different from kissing a girl. And it probably should have been. Though there was an element of difference. An element of perfection.
Naruto didn't jump back repulsively or anything. He knew enough not to do that, and besides, he was not exactly repulsed. Not exactly. He pulled back very slowly, very almost-cautiously so that he had a clear view of Gaara's mute shock. Gaara had not revealed such an expression in a very long time.
"Huh," Naruto said. "Weird."
The shock quickly shifted to irritation. "Weird."
"No, I mean—good weird. As in, I-could-get-used-to-doing-this weird." He pulled back even further and shook his head. "Yeah, that is weird. Very weird. But very good-weird. Very…yeah." If Gaara had eyebrows, they would've nearly met. Naruto continued. "I mean, I guess it makes sense. We do hang out all the time. And I do love hanging out with you…Huh." Shrugging, Naruto grinned.
Gaara could only stare at him. "You're weird."
"You like me."
Idly rubbing his arm, Gaara walked around Naruto and began collecting papers from around the surface of his desk. Naruto watched him.
"So what now?" the blond asked.
"Now I get ready for a meeting."
"You know what I mean."
Gaara paused in his document gathering, his lips meeting in a fine line. "How should I know. I never planned on any of this."
"…Yeah." Clasping his hands behind his back, Naruto moved so that he was inhabiting his typical place on the other side of the table. "But I'm glad you told me your feelings. Thanks for telling me, Gaara. Really."
Gaara met blue eyes with a skeptical glance. With a muttered "Yeah," he started going through a neat pile of scrolls.
"Well," Naruto said, "the way I see it, you can go into your meeting or whatever, and afterward I'll be waiting for you. We can hang out—go somewhere together. Do something or something."
"…Do something," Gaara said, wryly.
"…Like a date."
"Yeah," Naruto laughed. "Like a date."
Again, Gaara stared at him, perfectly still and perfectly doubtful, before picking up a hefty stack of papers. "…Fine," he gritted out, eyes on the floor. Naruto squinted, taking several steps so that he was peering over the Kazekage's shoulder.
"Ne, Gaara," he said with a playful smirk, "I thought you didn't blush."
And though Naruto would spend the next three hours plastered to the wall with a delightful amount of sand, he would still be exceedingly giddy in a strange, albeit happy way the next time he saw Gaara.
Aw. Who knew I could produce something without gratuitous amounts of angst and complication? And a short oneshot! Wowzers. Happy belated Valentine's Day!