AN: In this chapter, we take a glimpse into Gaara's mind… Therefore, it's only fair that I warn you that this chapter gets angsty. We all knew Gaara wasn't as chilled out as he seems, right? Right. It's Gaara, after all. (,)
Warnings: Sex of a homosexual nature.
Disclaimer: Don't own Naruto, don't own In Flames… Don't own much at all… (Um. BoTV being a bit emo, much?)
Evil in a Closet
Sakura noticed Naruto's absence over the following weeks, when he would not hang out with her at recess on odd days, and didn't make many plans to see her outside of school. She knew that it was because he was hanging out with Gaara instead. It hurt her; but her pride would not allow her to bring up the topic. So she just nodded politely when Naruto excused himself from her presence, or declined offers to go places together.
Kakashi also noticed. He had not met Naruto's 'rich friend' as he'd been dubbed, and it concerned him slightly that the two boys were spending every other day together, and almost every weekend. He wasn't too worried, though, as Naruto's cooking tasted better than ever, which meant he was in a good state of mind.
Naruto's other friends – Kiba, Shino, Hinata, Chouji, Shikamaru, Lee – slowly began to notice as well. They would catch glimpses of Naruto walking to the redheaded kid's bike, or waiting for him outside the Art class on Friday afternoons. Depending on how perceptive the friend in question was, they would catch stolen glances across corridors and satisfied smiles on Naruto's face when he appeared to be daydreaming.
Naruto didn't mind if anyone noticed, and Gaara didn't give much of a shit one way or the other, as long as Sakura stayed away from him.
No one had said anything. Until Naruto unexpectedly bumped into Shikamaru at Gaara's house on a Sunday morning.
"Hi Naruto" the brunette greeted with a wry smile. He had emerged from Temari's bedroom just as Naruto had walked out of Gaara's.
"G'morning" Naruto greeted, wide-eyed. He looked down at himself… standing in a pair of boxers. He'd only meant to grab a croissant or two from the kitchen. There was no risk of running into Gaara's father (whom Naruto had not yet met), as the man was away on a business trip. That was actually the reason why Shikamaru had stayed over, but Naruto was unaware of this fact.
Shikamaru was similarly dressed, with just a pair of unbuttoned jeans over a pair of black briefs.
"What are you doing here?" Naruto blurted out.
"Visiting my girlfriend" Skikamaru answered. "You know, Temari?"
A lightbulb went off in Naruto's mind. "Ohhhhh" he said, nodding with dawning comprehension. "I'm…" he wondered what to say. What was his excuse for being at the estate? Visiting a friend? Emerging from their bedroom in his underwear, looking like he'd gotten laid the night before as well as earlier that morning? Which he had…
"Visiting your boyfriend?" Shikamaru offered knowingly.
Naruto went a bit red. "Uh… Not exactly…"
Temari chose that moment to step out of her room. "Hi, Naruto!" she said with a smile and a wink. She grabbed Shikamaru's hand and pulled him towards the stairs. Her and Shikamaru shuffled past Naruto. "We're getting breakfast. Would you and my dear little brother like to join us?" she turned to ask.
"Er… I'll just grab something and we'll eat in… the room" Naruto replied.
"You mean in bed" Temari laughed.
"Speaking of which," Shikamaru piped up, "you two really need to learn to keep it down. I could hardly sleep last night"
Naruto almost died of embarrassment. He felt his cheeks burn as Temari and her boyfriend made their way down the staircase.
Just then, Gaara appeared in the doorway of his bedroom. "What a bastard" he commented.
Naruto didn't say anything, feeling self-conscious. He slunk back into the bedroom.
When Monday rolled around, Naruto was nervous for some reason. It was one thing to say that he didn't mind his friends knowing about him and Gaara… but another for them to know that they were sleeping together. How much would Shikamaru reveal? And to whom? Naruto didn't know.
He was nervous. He was sure that Sakura would only cut him so much slack in terms of spending time with his new 'friend' before she let him have it. And Naruto didn't think Sakura would be all that okay with the idea of him and Gaara having romantic and/or sexual relations. He still cared about her opinion, even if she was very… opinionated.
Naruto caught up with Shikamaru before second period in a semi-empty hallway. "Hey" he greeted.
"Listen… Um, about-" Naruto started.
"You and Gaara?" Shikamaru finished for him.
"Yeah" Naruto said, looking about to see if anyone was listening.
"I won't say anything if you don't want me to" the brunette offered, sounding bored as usual. Naruto breathed a sigh of relief. "But if you really don't want anyone to know, you're doing a terrible job of hiding it"
"What do you mean?"
"Only that it's clear – to me at least, even before last weekend – that there's something going on with you two"
"I don't mean to hide it" Naruto conceded quietly. "I just don't want to cause a stir. Gaara hates drama… and unwanted attention"
"Don't worry about it. It just looks like you're friends. But I know you're more" Shikamaru said deprecatingly.
"I don't even know what we are, Shikamaru. We've been… er…"
"Having sex" Shikamaru offered. Naruto hated it when he did that, which was fairly often.
"Yeah, that… for a while now" Naruto continued. "Nearly two months. We still haven't established what we are to each other"
The hallway was completely empty now; everyone had gone to class. "Naruto, I know I'm not your best friend or anything, and maybe I'm not the one who should be talking to you about this, but… Are you being safe?"
Naruto's face went from its normal colour to white. "What?"
"Are you using protection?"
Naruto's face then started to go from white to green. "Um… No?"
"Sexually Transmitted Infections and diseases are a serious problem among teenagers today, Naruto" Shikamaru said smartly. "I know you're probably only sleeping with Gaara, but who knows how many partners he has?"
Naruto shook his head. "No. It's just me" he said.
"Are you sure?"
Naruto remembered the incident with Itachi. He also remembered the unspoken agreement not to be sexually involved with other people for the duration of their 'relationship' that followed. "It's just me" Naruto repeated, more firmly this time.
Shikamaru took a deep breath. "Okay then. Good"
Naruto's face returned to its normal shade of tan. The two boys then proceeded to their individual classes without further comment, both very late.
That day at recess, Naruto was being unusually quiet, and Gaara noticed. The two sat across from each other under the tree that Naruto had affectionately nicknamed 'Gaara's Tree'.
"What's up with you?" the redhead asked, helping himself – as was the custom – to Naruto's lunch, which on that day happened to be leftover lamb casserole from the night before.
"Hey?" Naruto responded, caught off guard. "What are you talking about?"
"You're quiet today"
"No I'm not"
"Yes you are"
Naruto sighed. "I'm just thinking…"
The blonde was silent for several seconds. "Am I the only one you're sleeping with?" he eventually asked.
Gaara regarded him for a moment before pulling out his cigarette pack, retrieving a smoke, and lighting it. "Yeah"
Naruto visibly relaxed. "You too. You're the only one, I mean"
Gaara raised a near-invisible eyebrow. "Is that it? I thought we'd been through this"
"We have… I was just wondering" Naruto explained, running a hand through his golden hair.
"Don't you trust me?" Gaara asked with a dry smile.
"I…" Naruto thought about it for a moment. He recalled Gaara's apology from the Itachi Incident. He thought about how Gaara had slowly opened up to him in terms of affection as well as honesty. "I do"
"Really?" Gaara asked monotonously, taking a drag from his Marlboro.
"Really" Naruto replied. With Conviction.
"Perhaps you shouldn't" the redhead remarked.
The blonde crawled over to his companion, bringing their faces within inches of each other. "I do" he whispered, before closing the gap between them and pressing their lips together firmly.
It was the first time Naruto had ever shown any kind of physical affection during school, and Gaara was surprised. He parted his lips. Naruto let his tongue slide into Gaara's mouth and the two began kissing languidly.
When Naruto pulled away slowly, he opened his eyes. Gaara looked into the pools of blue and saw them shining. "I don't know what this is" Naruto said honestly. "You're really different… and difficult". Gaara looked like he wanted to say something, but Naruto continued before he could. "I like you madly"
"I…" Gaara licked his lips. His cigarette was burning out; a long cylinder of ash sticking out from the end.
"You don't have to say anything" Naruto smiled again.
"What is there to like?" Gaara cleared his throat. "I'm anti-social, stuck up, aggressive… I'm a recovering addict…"
Naruto's eyes widened. He hadn't known that last part.
"I have no discernable life skills other than that I have an eye for fashion. My only redeeming quality is that I'm somewhat attractive"
Naruto actually laughed. Gaara didn't often speak that much at once. "You're all those things" the blonde agreed. "You're also intelligent, interesting, strong, and perceptive. You had the sense to stop whatever you were addicted to" Naruto brushed his hand against Gaara's cheek in a bold display of tenderness he wouldn't normally have dared. It was too cutesy for Gaara's tastes under normal circumstances, but now it seemed… comforting. "You have many life skills. You can pick out proper coffee with your eyes closed. You have an amazing vocabulary that makes me feel stupid. You have not only an eye for fashion, but also art, and an ear for music. You can play the piano"
Gaara's eyes widened this time. He didn't know Naruto knew about that.
"And," Naruto said with a certain flair, "you're VERY attractive". Gaara smiled, if only fractionally. "There's plenty to like" Naruto confirmed with a nod.
Gaara didn't know what to say. He was kind of flattered. "Naruto…" he said quietly. "I might… maybe… like you too. A little bit. Sometimes"
Naruto's face broke into a broad grin. That, he thought, was definitely progress. "For real? You might maybe like me a little bit sometimes?"
Gaara smirked. "Yeah. Perhaps"
Naruto leaned in for another kiss.
Gaara's mind was stuck on Naruto's words. He wasn't sure how to handle them. Sure, it was easy for Naruto to say that he liked him… madly… But he didn't know Gaara's history. Addiction… Violence… Attempted suicide… Attempted murder…
What did Naruto know about him, really? That he smoked a lot and that he secretly played the piano. That was basically all. He didn't know about his love of sweet things or that every night, as he lay in bed, Gaara would recall the feeling of freedom he used to get from the medication, and relive the pain of nearly dying… everyday for two years.
Naruto didn't know that Gaara would see his uncle's face each night when he closed his eyes and tried to fall asleep.
Naruto didn't know that he wasn't always the uppity bastard he was now, who drank expensive sherry and drove around in a limo, and made comprehensive study notes for school. He used to be a junkie, a slave to the drugs, who used to make his sister cry every day when she had to pick up the pieces of his broken life and clean up the mess and destruction he left, everywhere he went.
"Hey Gaara" Naruto said, grinning. "I want to cook for you"
"Okay" Gaara replied flatly.
"No, really. I do"
"Then do" the redhead said with a light shrug.
"I have an Art Theory test tomorrow. I have to study"
"I know you've already studied"
"I need to revise"
"Whatever. Tomorrow then?"
"Fine" Gaara agreed. The truth was that he was a bit nervous to meet Naruto's guardian. He'd never spoken to Kakashi outside of school, and the man telling him that his latest essay in English was impressive didn't really count.
"Wonderful" the blonde smiled happily. "I'll make Fettuccini Alfredo. Since you seem to like pasta so much"
"Do I need to bring anything?" Gaara asked, his voice still flat.
"Nope. Just bring your pretty self" Naruto beamed. Gaara rolled his eyes. The blonde began to stare into space with an absent-minded smile.
"Hey Naruto" the redhead got his attention.
"Yeah?" Naruto looked up with interest. Gaara looked like he was going to say something important.
"Have you noticed how fucking amazing Dimmu is?"
The following evening, Gaara arrived at Naruto's apartment building just before six - having gone home after school to do homework, shower and make himself presentable. He walked from the limo to the lobby of the bland building and realised, before going inside, that he didn't know on which floor; or in which apartment, Naruto resided.
He dialled the blonde's cell, and on the second attempt at phoning him, someone else answered. "Naruto's phone"
Gaara recognised the voice but couldn't place it. "Hi. I'm Naruto's... friend. I failed to ask what apartment you're in…"
Kakashi laughed gently and replied, "6B. It's on the left as you get out the elevator - sixth floor"
"Thanks" Gaara said flatly and hung up. Shifting the ornate obsidian dish containing Blueberry Pavlova he'd brought with to his other arm so he could return his phone to his pocket, he shouldered his way into the lobby and headed for the elevator.
When he got to the apartment, Kakashi was waiting for him at the door.
It sounded like a question and a statement, in equal measures.
"Professor Hatake" Gaara responded, apprehensively. "Uh. Good evening"
"Indeed" Kakashi replied, stepping out of the way so Gaara could enter the apartment. He concealed a frown. "You may call me Kakashi, since we're not in a classroom"
"Um, right. Of course" Gaara stammered. He was quite surprised. He felt, for some strange reason, quite nervous and it was an unfamiliar sensation. He didn't know - for Naruto had failed to mention this - that Kakashi was Naruto's guardian. At least, he assumed Kakashi was… it was unlikely that Kakashi happened to be visiting for dinner as well.
"So, ah, you're Naruto's guardian then?" Gaara asked, his eyes darting around the small living room, wondering if his attempt at small talk was proving adequate.
"I am" Kakashi said, returning to his seat near the window where he was, by all appearances, in the process of marking tests. "Naruto is in the kitchen. Follow the music"
Gaara hadn't actually noticed the music coming from behind a closed door that left the living room to his left. He walked to the door, pavlova in hand, but paused before entering. The realisation that Kakashi was Naruto's guardian - who obviously didn't know about Gaara either - was quite distressing, as Kakashi knew a lot more about the green-eyed boy's turbulent history than he would like Naruto to ever find out.
Kakashi's eyes subtly followed Gaara's movements as he entered the kitchen, exhaling a breath he didn't know he was holding as soon as the teenager had crossed the threshold and closed the door. 'Shit!' was all he could think as phrases like "history of violence", "prone to unpredictable behaviour", and "highly antisocial, bordering sociopathic personality" swam before his eyes… Phrases he'd seen on the psychologist's report when Gaara had enrolled at Konoha High.
And that was just the tip of the iceberg.
He'd had no idea the "Rich Kid", was in fact the disturbed, unstable child who came with a thousand problems. Kakashi did not want that kind of energy in Naruto's life. Not if he could help it.
In the other room, Gaara put the decadent dessert down on the counter and greeted Naruto. The blonde boy grinned widely and thanked his lover - if that was what he was - as he gently pulled him into a light embrace.
"That smells delicious" Gaara said softly, stepping back as Naruto returned to the stove, where he continued stirring the pot of fettuccini and checked on the Alfredo sauce which was simmering on the next plate.
"Thank you" Naruto replied giddily, turning back to the other boy. Gaara looked a bit… weird, for lack of a better term. Not his appearance - Gaara was wearing a pair of glossy black and charcoal pinstripe pants which covered the top of his black leather All Stars; and a charcoal short-sleeved button-down shirt, half open over a black vest. He just seemed shaken. "Are you okay?"
"Um, yeah" Gaara seemed to concentrate on appearing more relaxed. He opened his mouth as if about to say something profound and then quickly closed it. "I'm fine" he finally added. Naruto wasn't convinced.
"Could you pass me the dish behind you" the blonde boy asked, turning back to the food. Gaara handed him the dish in question and he emptied the pasta (after draining it) and sauce into the Pyrex dish. "Great. Tell Kakashi the food's ready, will you, while I get plates out…"
Gaara stuck his head back into the living room and conveyed the message.
Dinner was delicious but conversation was sparse, and although nothing appeared to be wrong, Naruto had a feeling that something just wasn't right either.
"Kakashi. Would you like dessert?" Naruto asked once they'd all been finished eating for a few minutes.
"No thank you" the older man replied, standing. "I'm quite full" he returned to his chair and his tests.
Naruto lead Gaara back to the kitchen where he dished up a generous amount of the pavlova for himself, making a show of licking off the spoon and seeming satisfied. "did you make this?" he asked, looking back at Gaara.
"No" Gaara replied, making no move to dish up dessert for himself.
"Won't you have any?"
"Not right now"
"Um. Okay. Well, let's go to my room then" Naruto said, puzzled, as he lead Gaara through another door into a tiny hallway that had three other doors in it. Naruto let them into the door directly opposite the kitchen, where he turned on his computer before settling on his single bed. The entire room was about half the size of Gaara's en suite.
Naruto busied himself eating the pavlova - which was delicious - and logged in and opened iTunes once his computer had booted. He opted for a play list he enjoyed listening to before he went out to parties and such. An AFI song, 'End Transmission', was the first song to play.
After a moment, when his dessert was finished, he looked back to find Gaara sitting on the floor with his head resting against the bed, his chin down. The redhead was shaking slightly. When he looked up, Naruto noticed his eyes were red-rimmed; the light eyeliner he'd worn was smeared and running. His iridescent turquoise eyes were brimming with tears. Gaara was crying.
Suppressing his alarm, Naruto moved to sit beside the distraught boy. "Gaara, what's wrong?"
They sat in silence, interrupted only by a sniff from Gaara, for a few moments before the crying teen asked softly, "Why wouldn't he eat my dessert?"
"What?" Naruto asked, shocked, as he gathered his wits. That was certainly nothing he expected to hear. But then, nothing about this scenario was expected. "But Gaara, you didn't even make it…"
"That's beside the point!" Gaara exclaimed.
Naruto slung an arm around Gaara's petite shoulders and pulled him closer. "What's really wrong, Babe?"
"He hates me" Gaara concluded. Somewhere in the back of his mind, an emotion was stirred by the endearing moniker.
Naruto had to stifle a laugh. "No he doesn't! Of course he doesn't… It's just pudding" he reassured him, in a soft tender whisper. "It's just pudding"
Gaara was silent for a moment. He sighed. He wiped his eyes, leaving a streak of eyeliner across his temple. Eventually he stated, "But it was the pudding I brought into your home as a symbol of goodwill"
"I really think you're over-thinking it"
"Yeah… Well. I tend to do that" the redhead said quietly, more to himself than Naruto. "I should go"
"Don't" Naruto implored.
"I can't stay. I don't want to be here"
Naruto looked crestfallen. Nothing else was said as he let Gaara out and watched the limo drive away, right down the long street until he couldn't see it anymore.
Kakashi observed the lack of words exchanged as the boy left their home. "What's up with him?" he asked Naruto, who sat down dejectedly at the table.
"He thinks you hate him because you didn't have any pudding"
"Does it matter to him what I think?"
"Apparently! And it matters to me, you know" the teen exclaimed.
"Well let me just say this, Naruto. If whatever is going on with you two is anything more than friendship, and it sure as hell appears that way, you need to be extremely cautious"
Naruto's features showed his surprise. "What? Why?"
"I don't want him dragging you down to the places he's been"
"I don't understand"
"Has Gaara told you about his past?" the older male enquired with a cocked eyebrow. He put the end of his red pen in his mouth and began chewing it.
"Yes… No… I don't know? What exactly are you referring to?"
"It's not my place to tell you that. But if he doesn't, I surely will. And when he does, I certainly hope you make the right decision about how to proceed. If, that is, you choose to proceed with him at all"
AN: Firstly, we'd both like to apologise for keeping you all waiting for a full year for this chapter. It's been a work in progress for ages, and also a very busy year for us both… (^^,)
We'll try be more considerate and update more regularly this year.
Thanks for reading. Drop a review ;-) You're more than welcome to bitch at us for taking so long, as long as you have something nice to say as well :-P
Good? - Bl00dofTheViNe and EvanescentCrimson