Living in the slums of London, Gaara knows how hard surviving can be, but when he discovers selling his body makes good money, his life becomes a downward spiral of self-destruction. Naruto is his only hope of salvation, but eventually watching his friend rot away becomes too much, even for him.
Not much to say except for the fact I'll probably finish this before I carry on with any of my other fics. This will probably be 10 - 15 chapters long. Maybe more; maybe less.
Set in London.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
This fic is about prostitution and the emotional and physical toll it takes on people. This fic was not created with the sole purpose of having lots of ungracious, unnecessary sex, so if that's what you were hoping for, then you're probably better looking elsewhere. This is an edgy topic and not suitable for everyone, but for those of you who stay with me until the end, I promise you an ending that can be perceived as a happy one.
In life there's no going back
"In life there's no going back," that's what Mum used to say before the accident. Before the morning I opened the door to men in uniform, holding flat hats and asking to speak to 'daddy' with over-practiced sadness showing on their faces.
The road lays straight ahead, you can't turn along the track to seek out what has passed. You can't undo mistakes - even wishing to do so is in vain. But in between all this, don't forget that you can always try again.
She hadn't lived long enough to explain how hard trying again sometimes can be. And maybe if she'd still been around none of this mess would've happened. It's funny, really, how differently I'd pictured my life. I wanted to be a fireman when I was younger - the blinding red always caught my attention as the engines zoomed past. I still remember clutching that toy fire truck to my chest as the uniformed men strolled by me to meet with my father in the kitchen. Even at five, I could sense something was wrong with the situation.
Even then, with shinny tears forming in the rims of my eyes, I knew mummy wasn't coming home.
I'd like to say this was the beginning of some erotic dream where the love of my life leaned above me as I lay in the sand on the stony beach of Clacton. I could almost hear the screams and laughs of the kids on the pier, the bumping cars of the dodgems. That reminded me, I hadn't been to the beach in almost a year, but last time I ventured to the great sandpit, I'd been pinched by some bloody crab (which I swore was on steroids), and stung by a jelly-fish which, by rights, shouldn't have even been in the sea around Clacton since the coast is WAY too cold, even in summer.
Naruto's fault. Throwing me into the freezing water, while chanting that it was the only way to get over my 'fear' of all things cold, didn't go as he'd planned. We went home early that day. Bunked the train back to London and legged it through the gates, hopping over the security barriers to escape the ticket men trying to bust us. I couldn't afford a thousand pound fine for being stupid and not paying the fifteen quid for a return ticket. The smart thing to do would've been to spend on transport for the day and not fork out my last fiver for a pouch of Golden V. Only being sixteen, I couldn't buy it myself, so Naruto - always being the older looking one of the two of us - would waltz in, shoulders back while looking like a confident eighteen-year-old, and purchase it no problem.
I missed summer.
Shakespeare's biography landed inches from my nose and my head shot from the desk to meet our English teacher's eyes. There was only one thing to do when falling asleep in class - grin sheepishly and hope whatever teacher stood in front of you had had a good day and wasn't on the warpath for student blood.
He didn't look impressed. My grin faltered and I cleared my throat while straightening myself in the uncomfortable, plastic chair.
"Sorry to disturb your afternoon nap, Mr. Sabaku, but your snoring is disrupting my class." Mr. Kabuto touched the side of his glasses, lifting them to peer at me. "Perhaps you'd like to read out your work?" No question - a demand.
He could see my book was blank. I hadn't gotten further than jotting down the date before deciding to close my eyes for a few seconds. I stole a quick glimpse at the clock above the whiteboard. 3:00. I'd managed to sleep the whole lesson away, not a bad achievement, but I resisted the urge to pat myself on the back.
Mr. Kabuto turned to move back to the front of the room, just in time for the bell to free us from school. Collecting my things and rushing to the door before a detention fogged my future was top priority, but then again, it being Friday, I doubted he'd want to suffer the company of a sleepy student for longer than necessary.
Good thing I was right for once.
I slowed my pace once in the crowded corridor and stopped to wait for blondie-locks and the three chest hairs (which he was overly proud of). I myself couldn't see the fascination and didn't understand why he almost cried when I plucked one with a pair of tweezers when he wasn't paying attention.
"You were really going for it today," Naruto said when he caught up. "Thought you'd swallowed a pig."
I was sensitive about my nasal problem. I couldn't help it. "At least I don't dribble like an old man." I really had to work on my comebacks, but my usual 'fuck you' was getting old. I needed new material.
"Don't hate me 'cause I'm perfect, mate."
Beep. Beep. Beep.
The security gates flashed red as a student ahead of us passed through, and the two police officers at the exit doors pulled the kid to the side to pat him down for weapons. Aw, beautiful London, a place of hopes, dreams, and police at every school. The crime rate in the area was down by two percent this year, which was pretty good considering that three students had been rushed to hospital with stab wounds this term. And an astounding record of no guns found on the premises for almost five years made our school the safest around. Pretty laughable, really.
"You coming tonight?" Naruto asked as he unzipped his bag for the police to check and placed his metal rings on the tray to be passed safely. He walked through the barrier and the light above remained blue.
I did the same and managed to leave the building unsearched. I no longer wore my cross necklace to school anymore, it was metal, and forgetting to take it off always resulted in an embarrassing pat down. After the tenth time of getting pulled to the side, I decided wearing it just wasn't worth the hassle.
I shook my head while digging through my bag. "I told you earlier that I'm working tonight."
"Oh, that's right. I forgot you'd rather be scrubbing down houses than be out getting smashed with everyone else."
I pulled the green packet out my bag and folded over a rizla to begin making a rollie. "I can't cancel, he's my dad's workmate." I sparked and took a toke. "Besides, I need the money if I want to go on the trip to Paris at the end of the year." I shoved him, knowing what he was about to say. "And I'm not taking your money, either. I can pay for myself. I owe you almost a hundred already."
"I've told you before that I don't care. My granddad transfers five-hundred into my account each month, why can't you just smile and take it like any other normal person would?"
"Because that money is supposed to go toward educational purposes and saving for university."
"Ever heard of a student loan?" He nicked the rollie from between my fingers just as I was about to take another toke. "Besides," he said, blowing out smoke. "If I get into the university of London, I'll live at home, meaning the cost won't be as high." He held the white stick out.
"Finish it, I don't want your germs."
"Why not, I don't mind your indirect kisses." He puckered his lips and actually had the audacity to look bewildered when I swung at his face. He laughed and shrugged the attempted assault off. "Whatever. Keep your mobile on this weekend, would ya? Do you know how annoying it is having to walk a mile to your house just to see if your coming out?"
"Catch you later."
Naruto and I lived in completely different parts of London. His mansion-like house was closer to the centre, meaning clean streets, low crime rates and a decent social network. Whereas I was stuck in the slums. A three bedroom flat above a fish-n-chip shop. I couldn't even go out at night without risking my life. I didn't think getting shot or stabbed by a mugger was a great way to go, so I genuinely stayed in after dark.
"Hello?" I didn't know why I bothered calling out. Kankuro was usually out getting stoned with his timewaster friends and Temari and Dad were always at work until five. I dumped my bag underneath the coat rack and kicked my shoes and socks off to walk barefooted across the old, worn carpet. Loosening my school tie and unbuttoning my shirt was the highlight of most days. Pretty sad, really. I rarely had money, and I always felt uncomfortable around Naruto's friends, so I didn't tend to go out much. Don't get me wrong, his mates were okay, but I didn't really fit into their rich-kid culture and couldn't join in with most of their conversations.
I sat in front of the small TV set after banging it a few times to get it working. The smell of greasy chips floated through the closed windows, making my belly rumble. Mr. Iruka, the owner, usually gave me a free bag when he saw me, but if I carried on eating that grease-infested food, I'd be twenty-stone by the time I left home. So I resorted to a ham and cheese sandwich to fill my aching gut before getting changed from my uniform into an old pair of jeans with holes in the knees and a T-shirt.
Baki was always pissed if I took too long getting ready when he arrived to pick me up, so I made sure to be out the door as soon as he honked his horn. By the time he arrived, dropping my dad off at the same time, it was half-five and the sun was beginning to set. The days had been getting shorter since winter was on its way.
"Don't be back too late," Dad said as he passed without a second look. He always went to bed after getting home from work. No, that's a lie. He always went to bed after getting home and having a couple of beers to numb the depression of working a twelve-hour shift, living in a dirty, smelly flat and losing his wife. He hadn't been the same since Mum died, but at least he hadn't left us to fend for ourselves like so many parents did. Overall he was doing the best he could. But isn't that what all of us do? Just keep ploughing through, hoping that one day a miracle will happen and we'll all be happy again?
I slammed the door to Baki's car behind me and suffered the painfully silent drive that always occurred Friday evenings. The tanned man lived alone. Never married and never had any children, so like many others, he just managed to keep his head above water and not drown in the deep end of giving up.
He was a nice man, never really spoke much, and paid me to keep his apartment clean. He rubbed at the purple bags under his eyes when he parked up outside a block of council apartments. He handed me a set of keys. "Go get started, I'll be back in a few hours."
I peered at the keys. "Uh… Sure."
I wasn't going to complain. Having someone scrutinize your every move when you're trying clean can be very distracting. Usually he'd sit in the same room, watching me work, obviously making sure I wasn't trying my hand at stealing any of his possessions - not that he had much to steal.
I watched his ford escort turn the corner before climbing the three floors of stairs. I dropped my eyes to the floor when passing a group of older teens in hoodies, they were dealing, and I didn't want any trouble. Even making eye contact could've left me held against a wall, being threatened to keep my mouth shut. Not looking was a silent agreement - I saw nothing.
Baki's apartment was in the same state as every Friday. Pizza boxes lay around, unfinished food rotting on the surfaces, clothes strewn around the place. I shook my head. When I got my own place, I'd never leave it in this condition, whether I lived alone or not.
I made myself useful. Perhaps if I finished before he came home, I'd even get a tip. Twenty quid for cleaning this mess was definitely slave labour, but it's not like I had any better offers. I slipped into thick gloves and got to work on the surfaces, scrubbing dried stains and spraying disinfectant before pulling out a black bin bag to throw rubbish away.
After two hours, I perched myself on the arm of his sofa to wipe my brow. I hadn't even noticed the sweat piling on my skin. I pulled a cigarette out a packet I found under a pizza box and flipped open my mobile. A text from Naruto.
THINK YOU'LL BE FINISHED IN TIME TO COME TO THE PARTY LATER? PEOPLE ARE ASKING AFTER YOU.
I knew the last part was a lie, but his effort made me smile. I'd almost finished my manual labour for the week, but I didn't fancy hanging around with a bunch of drunk teens. I wasn't some snob, far from it, but I was tired, and bed was the only place I'd be going when Baki came back to drop me home.
Thinking of which, where was he?
I switched his radio on in the kitchen and went back to scrubbing at a disobedient stain on the floor between his oven and cupboard. I sprayed some bleach and jumped when a set of keys landed on the work surface behind me. I twisted my head and saw Baki pulling his jacket off.
"Almost finished," I said.
He pulled out a chair at the table. "That's okay, take your time." Yeah, like I wanted to be here longer than necessary. I was killing myself for a twenty. No thank you, I'd finish as soon as possible. "Have you been smoking in here?"
I moved to sit against the cupboard and grinned sheepishly. I seemed to do that a lot when getting in trouble. It worked sometimes.
"Here." He dug through his pocket and chucked me a pre-rolled rollie twisted at the end.
I caught it. "Thanks." And sparked it, trying to ignore his eyes. He Didn't even blink as he watched me. I cleared my throat. "There's a few bags outside," I said, trying to think of something to say so I didn't have to sit in silence.
"I saw." Of course he did. Stupid.
I stared at the stick between my fingers. This wasn't just tobacco. I cleared my throat again before kneeling on the floor to pass it back. "Thanks, but I don't smoke weed."
He shrugged. "That's unusual." I could smell the alcohol on his breath. He wasn't drunk, but he'd obviously had a few beers. "A boy of your age not taking drugs, I mean," he said, confusing my scrunched nose for ignorance. "That's good. This stuff can screw you up if you get hooked. Just look at the other teenagers living in this place." He laughed. "They're not the most educated of people. You get good grades?"
The sweet smell filled the kitchen as the smoke drifted around the light bulb in the ceiling. I watched it twirl and dance in the light. "I do okay."
He nodded. "I should get you back."
I wanted to ask if he was good to drive, but I didn't want to walk home alone in the dark. So I just agreed and followed him out the apartment block and to his car. The blue escort was in its usual place, but anyone from a mile away could see it hadn't been parked by a sober person. The wheels were well over the lines, making me wonder if walking home wasn't such a bad idea.
But I got in and strapped on the belt. Baki started the engine, and I stared out the side window at passing streetlamps. The lights lit the car momentarily before plunging it back into darkness. We swerved slightly. Baki's brow glistened in the dim light and he cleared his throat before lifting his foot off the peddle somewhat to slow us down.
"Are you okay?" I asked. He turned the wheel right. Home was left. "You've taken the wrong turn." Maybe he'd had more to drink than I'd thought. He couldn't even remember where he was going. "Baki?" When he didn't reply, interior alarm bells rang, but I tried to ignore them. He was just concentrating too hard on the road, that was all. "Baki?" Perhaps he knew a shortcut. "You were supposed to go left back there." I twisted in my seat to look out the back window. The heat in the car had steamed it up.
"We're just going to stop here for a minute." His voice in the calm startled me, but I laughed it off nervously.
"I just need to check the wheels." He left the car.
I peered at the boarded windows in the apartment complex and rubbed at my arms. Goose-pimples were forming, but I knew it wasn't from the chilly air blowing in from the open door. This place gave me the creeps. I kept expecting someone to jump in and steal the car with me in it while Baki was outside.
"Hey, is… everything okay out there?" I called before licking my lips.
He kicked the back wheel before getting in. The goose-pimples were still there, even with the door firmly shut. He placed his hands on the wheel, curling his fingers around the black, rubbery material.
I was not getting crept out. "We good to go?" Naruto would laugh his arse off when I told him about this tomorrow. "You're such a paranoid wuss," he'd say.
"Baki?" I had to reconsider working for this guy, he was a nut.
When his hand moved, I thought he was going for the hand-break, but it went farther. Passed the break and gear stick. "Wah-" He moved his hand off my knee when I made a noise, but lifted a leaver on the side of my chair, making the backrest fall, bringing me with it.
It crashed against the seat behind. My head slammed against the headrest. He was atop me.
"The fuck- Get off!" I pushed his chest, but even if I were strong enough to take on the grown man, he had the glove compartment keeping him stable.
He wasn't going anywhere… neither was I.
Fingers pinched at my skin and lips nibbled on my neck. Hands circled my wrists, pinning my arms against my chest. I kicked my legs in the small room available. "I-I'll scream!" Not manly, but neither was having a dude molesting you.
My heart thumped against my pinned arms. And as quickly as it started, it stopped.
The older man was back in his own seat, head on the steering wheel. I caught my breath and leaned up.
Why wasn't I running? Why the fuck hadn't I opened the door and got out quick enough to collapsed on the floor from the effort?
I didn't know. He just looked so pitiful. And I was still shaken up. I didn't even think I knew how to get home from here.
The silence must've lasted ten seconds, but it felt like an hour.
"I'm sorry," he whispered.
What had he expected me to say to that? 'Yeah, that's fine. But could you try not to do it again?' There was nothing I could say, so I didn't say anything. Just sat, trying to figure out what'd happened.
"I'll take you home."
I still couldn't speak, so just nodded and pulled the leaver on the chair to bring the backrest up. I didn't look at him again until we were parked outside my home. The lights were on in the living room.
He'd gotten off so quickly when I'd threatened to scream… maybe he didn't think it was forced? Was I giving him the wrong signals? Did I do something to make him think I wanted it, too?
I must've done.
It was my own fault.
Baki reached for his pocket, but he stopped when he saw me flinch. "I'm just getting the money," he practically whispered. I nodded and sat still as he pulled out his wallet. "Here." He handed me a few notes, and I took it without counting. I just wanted to get out.
I unlocked the side door leading up to the apartment without looking back.
Temari was alone in the living room when I entered. "How was work?" she asked, not moving her eyes from the TV set. Which was a good thing, she would've noticed something was wrong otherwise… she usually did.
"Fine." She didn't hear my shaky voice with the one word, and I left before she could look at me. I flicked the switch in my room and leaned my back against the door. I was safe in here.
What an afternoon. Cleaned for two hours and had Baki try it on with me, and for what? Twenty measly quid. I uncurled my fingers from the notes.
There had to be a mistake.
I'd thought they were fives. I flicked through them, counting faster as the amount raised with each note.
I felt my jaw drop. I'd never even seen this much money before. I counted it three more times to make sure my mind wasn't still spazzing out from earlier. Definitely two-hundred.
I shook my head, chuckling softly. No fucking way! Two-hundred quid.
And I believe I shall leave it there.