I'm updating and it hasn't taken me months! Yay some progress, finally! I hope you enjoy this chapter because I enjoyed writing it.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
"Alright already! I'm coming!" The brunet yelled at the closed door of his apartment as the knocking persisted. It wasn't loud or obnoxious in anyway, in fact the knocking itself felt calm and neutral. It was simply the fact that it had yet to cease that was getting on Kiba's nerve. Normally someone knocked a few times, then waited. This knocking, as quiet and gentle as it was, hadn't stopped since Kiba first heard it under the noise of his television.
At the doorway, Akamaru was sniffing the door, growling lowly at the idea of an intruder. Leaning down, he picked up his small pup and breathed deeply to keep them from being agitated. Kiba pulled open the door and was taken aback by the sight. To be honest, he hadn't known who to expect this late at night. His first thought had been Naruto, but the knocking was certainly not in his fashion, the next would have been one of his family members but they usually barged right in or at least called him first. Now, the redheaded man that was currently dating his best friend... to say it was a surprise to see him at his front door would be an understatement.
"Uh... hi?" Kiba rose his eyebrow suspiciously, eyeing the stoic man up as he stroked Akamaru's soft fur to calm the small dog down as he squirmed to get closer to the new comer.
Gaara nodded, looking Kiba square in the eyes with that deadpanned stare of his. It unnerved Kiba a little, to say the least, but it didn't really disturb him. The stoic, quiet type seemed to be Naruto's style. However, Kiba had witnessed the redhead open up on various occasions when he hung out with the two of them to watch movies or go to dinner. Despite Gaara not being a very social person, it seemed important to him to get along with his boyfriend's best friend. Which Kiba found himself respecting greatly after the ordeal with Naruto's previous relationship.
"I wish to speak with you." Gaara stated simply, standing firmly yet naturally in the doorway, not offended in the least at the questioning stare from the brunet, or the fact that he'd yet to be invited in, or even the fact that Kiba kept leaning out the doorway ever-so slightly to see if a certain blonde would be appearing around the corner.
"I guess... that's okay..." Kiba moved aside to let Gaara pass him. Gaara nodded before slowly walking into the apartment, turning to take his shoes off at the closet. Kiba took that opportunity to peer down the hallway one last time for his best friend before shutting the door and facing his unlikely visitor.
"So... what's the occasion?" He asked as casually as he could, given the oddity of his situation. He didn't dislike Gaara or anything, but they weren't exactly pals. Yeah he was dating his best friend, and yeah they've chilled various times over the past six months. But it wasn't as though they were going to get together for a few beers and watch the game.
"Naruto's behavior concerns me."
Blunt and to the point, it nearly took Kiba off guard if he hadn't known how straightforward the man was from previous experiences.
Kiba's eyebrow rose of its own accord as he bent over to let Akamaru down. Straightening up, Kiba scratched the back of his head and frowned as he watched Akamaru sniff at Gaara's feet before trotting off to the kitchen where he would find sustenance.
"Yeah he does do some weird things sometimes. I mean, his ramen obsession concerned me at first too and his hyperactivity drives you crazy but it's something you become accustomed to."
Gaara stared blankly at him. Kiba could tell in his eyes that these weren't the issues that Gaara was concerned with but not once did the redhead cut him off, allowing him to finish his sentence before stepping in.
"Naruto hasn't been honest with me. Something is causing him to feel guilt and he will not divulge this information to me."
"Well, everyone has their secrets Gaara." Kiba explained, a little concerned with where this conversation would be headed. He knew what thoughts of guilt normally manifested itself in the blonde's mind.
"These are secrets he shares with you."
"With me?" Kiba furrowed his brows, even more concerned but keeping that idea to himself. "I guess I am his best friend. I know a ton about him that most people don't."
"Recently, Naruto has become reclusive. He is not able to discuss these matters with me, as he's told me, yet he speaks of sharing details with you."
"Uh... yeah well... I don't think I've seen much of him lately either." Kiba confessed. Thinking back, he really hadn't spent much time with the blonde this past week. They hadn't hung out since the movies...
"You know something." Gaara noted the way Kiba's eyes darted to the side, frowning as he discovered the number one suspect as to why Naruto distanced himself lately.
"Not... really..." Kiba bit his lower lip. He knew he couldn't confess such things to Gaara. These details concerning Naruto's... affair weren't something divulged easily or without Naruto's express permission.
"Have you seen him recently?" Gaara asked, his tone more serious than before causing Kiba to squint at him. Hadn't Kiba just stated that he hadn't seen the blonde as of late?
"No. We haven't really hung out since we saw Karate Kid."
"About a week ago."
"Naruto has not been here at all this week?"
Kiba's eyes squinted at the way Gaara seemed to be interrogating him. It was incredibly strange for Gaara to be so straightforward with him, especially in an accusatory manner.
"Naruto doesn't always come over here, Gaara. I'm sure he's just been busy with work."
"He is never in his classroom." Gaara stated simply, as though that suddenly proved he had been with Kiba the whole time.
"Look, if you're trying to pin something on me for any difficulties you're having in your relationship-"
"I do not blame you." Gaara interrupted him, yet another oddity of the evening. "However, I wish to explore all possibilities."
"Possibilities... Are you trying to say that I'm..." Kiba nearly chuckled and bit on his tongue in frustration at the same time. "You'd actually come to that conclusion."
"You two are close." Gaara stated as simply as one would state that the sky is blue. Correct, but it doesn't insinuate anything further than that simple fact.
"Yes, we're best friends. Of course we're close."
"There are high probabilities that-"
"No there aren't!"
"-two friends can become closer when there are revelations due to third party interference."
Kiba blinked blankly at the redhead standing in the entrance hall to his apartment. He may as well have been looking at a three headed lizard man because that's how absurd everything felt at this given moment. He sighed audibly and raked his fingers through his dark locks.
"You've got to be shitting me. You honestly think that me and Naruto could ever be like that? All because you suddenly appeared into the situation and stole my precious time with him?"
Gaara tilted his head questionably at the phrasing of Kiba's sentence. This did not go unnoticed by the brunet.
"Oh for fuck's sake! I'm not trying to say you stole Naruto from me. I was never under the impression that he was something that could be stolen, except for maybe if you laid out a ramen trap or some shit but really Gaara? Me and Naruto? Get real! You're not the first relationship Naruto's had while we've been best friends. I know how to share. Despite the over protective watch that everyone thinks I have on Naruto, I am an independent person who doesn't need to spend every waking moment with him."
"It was a logical assumption."
"Logical or not, it's fucking ridiculous that anyone would think that me and Naruto could be like that... ever! Best friends does not mean there are undertones of bromance or whatever in our relationship. We're friends. Platonic male friends. Heteros can have gay friends, that is a thing. And I am firmly and definitely a heterosexual male."
Gaara nodded, "My apologies for reaching that conclusion."
"You're damn right your sorry... me and Naruto..." Kiba's eyes narrowed once more and Gaara narrowed his green eyes in concern. A sudden rage filled Kiba's veins at the conclusion that Gaara's assumption inevitably led him to. "You think Naruto's cheating on you?"
"The theory is-"
"I don't give a fuck about any of your theories red. Naruto would never cheat on someone. Not on anyone's life. Ever." The contained rage behind every syllable of Kiba's words nearly startled Gaara. He'd never seen the brunet with so much built up aggression, he'd clearly offended Kiba on a level he hadn't known existed. Had Gaara not been aware of how close Kiba and his dog were, he would have sworn the growling from the back of Kiba's throat was surrounding him. But logic concluded that Akamaru had heard his master's anger, or felt it, and came to offer assistance.
"Forgive me..." Gaara apologized wholeheartedly. It wasn't as though he'd wanted to jump to those kind of conclusions... it was the way Naruto had acted the night before. The distance, the secrets, the guilt that filled his cerulean blue eyes. Everything led Gaara to a place he hadn't wanted to know.
"Don't you dare accuse Naruto of being so despicable." Akamaru barked in unison.
"You've had experience with an unfaithful lover." Gaara stated rather than asked, an apologetic tone still lingering in his voice.
"You could say that." Kiba responded, not entirely truthfully but hey, secondhand experiences could count in this case. Forcing himself to calm down slightly, he waved off Akamaru, who huffed reluctantly before moving to lay down in the corner, keeping an eye on the situation.
"I would not willingly think ill thoughts about Naruto."
"Then why the hell would you think he'd be cheating, with me of all people?"
Gaara sighed, exhaustion now visibly seeping into his expression. Clearly these thoughts had been wearing him down and he was truly concerned about his relationship with the blonde.
"Is this about him not wanting to move in with you?"
Gaara's eyes darted up, immediately locking with Kiba's. It clearly wasn't surprising that Kiba would know about such things, but Gaara wasn't about to be happy that someone knew the intimate details of his relationship.
"I don't mean to barge into your relationship or anything... he tells me basically everything, always has." Kiba chuckled quietly to himself. "Hell, he even tells me shit without realizing it. I just sorta... became his confidant I guess."
"What has he told you recently?"
Kiba shifted his gaze back to the redhead. Technically, the most recent information he had been privy to had been Naruto's concerns about Gaara wanting to move in. But in reality... there had been more to it than that. Naruto came over to his apartment after school hours to tell him about the conversation with Iruka and Kiba basically gave him the same reaction. Albeit Kiba was slightly more enraged that Sasuke had managed to snake his way back into Naruto's thoughts but he kept that in the undertones of the conversation.
Ever since... Naruto hadn't been in contact with him much and Kiba gave the blonde his space, knowing he needed to clear his head. Sure he called him on occasion over these past weeks but considering how busy he was with work... he hadn't been as attentive as he would like. Not to mention, he figured Naruto would be spending time with Gaara, figuring out what was wrong. Apparently he was quite wrong in his way of thinking.
"The last time I talked to Naruto, it was mainly about you wanting to move in." Kiba confessed as truthfully as he could without intruding into Naruto's secrets.
The redhead breathed deeply, shifting uncomfortably as he mumbled almost inaudibly. "Could this be the real reason?"
"For what?" Kiba titled his head, searching Gaara's uncommon stature. It was odd to the see the redhead express anything externally. Normally he had to fight to figure out what tone was supposed to be in that typically toneless voice.
"Naruto's behavior." Gaara stated simply with an edge of frustration. "He has been aloof... avoiding me. Last night... there is something he will not speak to me about, despite mentioning that eventually he might be able to do so. This is something that you also have information about."
Kiba followed the sentence as though Gaara were putting out bread crumbs or placing clues on the table to allow Kiba to come to some logical conclusion. He felt like the witness as Gaara attempted to refresh his memory, like some weird episode of Criminal Minds.
Of course, the laying of bread crumbs wasn't entirely necessary. Kiba knew what this was about without Gaara having to speak with him. The year that followed his relationship with Gaara wasn't something Naruto could talk about easily, not even to him. Kiba had simply been there and was the only one who knew about the situation, other than Sasuke... Eventually Iruka was deemed trustworthy enough for Naruto to take the risk and tell him about his compromising situation that he was sure he would be hated and reviled for. The shame Naruto felt about having been involved in an affair... Kiba knew how much that ate away at him more than anything. It only made since that he wanted to keep that darker side of himself away from the boyfriend who saw him in such a bright light.
"You know." Gaara stated simply, the expressions in Kiba's brown eyes giving him away.
"Yeah, I know." Kiba nodded honestly. There was no point in denying it.
"You're not going to tell me."
Kiba's exhaled breath turned into a slightly amused chuckle. "No, I'm not. It's not my information to give. I'm his confidant remember."
Gaara nodded his head solemnly and Kiba could tell he was disappointed but understanding as well.
Breathing deeply, Kiba raked his hand through his hair. He needed to be such a people pleasure or some shit... whatever that prompted him to want to fix or aid people. That was how he was supposed to feel about animals, not humans.
"I can tell you... that something changed Naruto."
Green eyes landed on him almost instantaneously but no voice followed, he just stared intensely, listening to every syllable.
"We both know how energetic and vibrant he can be. Those fun moments when he takes off and no one can reign him back in. He makes you laugh no matter what the situation and jumps about like he's downed a bag of sugar..."
The redhead nodded but said nothing. It was clear in his eyes that Gaara had experienced these moments, but it was also definite that they weren't in abundance... not in the way that Kiba remembered them.
"They come in short bursts now. When he's completely comfortable with himself. Back in university, he was always like that. Every single waking hour, there was nothing that could keep him down, nothing that dared question his confidence in himself."
Kiba's lips spread into a soft smile as he remembered the way the blonde light up every room he entered.
"When we first met in university... I had such a low opinion of him. He always slacked off it seemed and he said the most absurd and illogical things in class... I tried to knock him down from that overconfidence of his but it didn't work. He always got higher grades than me, which didn't make sense. I challenged him to a fight because I thought he was cheating or some shit. We brawled it out and I woke up in the nurses office thirty minutes after the fight ended. Don't get me wrong, I gave him a run for his money but he beat me, fair and square. No one tried to bring him down after that... and I had a whole new respect for the hyperactive little bastard.
"That same energy that pissed the hell out of me before, started to draw me into him. Not in that weird gay way either, ain't never been those kind of feelings between us. But Naruto's the kind of character that pulls you in. He never gives up and that's something you have to respect. He came out in second year and some idiots tried to give him shit. They cornered him started to lay down some homophobic laws on him when I walked by. Not that weird, hero to the rescue, right time right place kind of bull. I was supposed to pick him up so we could go to the movies. They beat him pretty bad before I intervened, sure he'd give a good fight but five people were rather hard to fight on his own. We both got bruised up pretty bad but nothing too serious. That was probably the time I got deemed his watch dog - yeah I'm aware of that title."
Kiba shifted his eyes, knowing Gaara had heard Naruto talk about him as though he was his guard dog.
"Naruto was shaken, just a little, but it didn't stop him from being himself and being damn confident that he liked being himself. Sure he never went on dates openly or anything that could risk anyone's safety, but it wasn't because he was shy, outgoing Naruto could never be shy about anything."
That triggered something in Gaara's expression and Kiba knew why. Shy was something that Naruto had become after the ordeal with Sasuke. He was cautious about the way he behaved around other people, nervous about being outgoing and open about himself because Sasuke took that self-confidence from him. He stole it, as though he had to a right to keep Naruto locked up and insecure about everything he did or said.
"He's different now. I've watched him shrink into himself and become the person he is now. It's better, since he met you, that's for sure." Kiba reassured, seeing a bit of glimmer in Gaara's eyes at gesture. "Something changed him... as short as a year before he met you, something made Naruto introvert himself. That's still haunting him and he'll tell you when he's ready... but don't pressure him. It was a difficult time and he trying to make things work. Plus, pushing him out of that is my job, has been for a year."
The brunet saw the defiance in Gaara's green orbs. He didn't want to drop this topic, especially now that he'd found out how drastically it had changed the person he loved. Of course, Kiba could also see a darkness to his eyes, a possibly anger growing behind them.
"It wasn't..." Gaara started slowly, not wanting to intrude into the secrets he wasn't privy to but unable to accept the worst possibilities. "Was he sexually abused?"
Kiba's eyes darkened immediately sending a chill through the atmosphere of the room and every single one of his words dripped with venom. "If someone had raped Naruto, they would not be alive to haunt him."
Gaara was only momentarily taken aback before he nodded firmly. "I should leave."
Kiba sighed, easing the tension. "Yeah, it is rather late."
"Thank you for your help, Kiba."
The brunet scratched the back of his head as he moved aside to let Gaara pass him on his way to the door. "Yeah... not that I could tell you much but I'm glad I could clear things up for you."
"Yes." Gaara spoke simply and to the point, retreating back to his stoic demeanor.
"Have a good night, man." Kiba called as Gaara opened the door and journeyed out of the apartment.
"You as well." He spoke without turning around, continuing down the hallway.
The breath that Kiba let out as he leaned against his now closed door made Akamaru get up from his position at the edge of the kitchen. The small dog appeared to be tense from the obvious tension that had permeated the air previously, but as Kiba sat down at the base of the door and scooped the pup into his lap, the white fur on his back smoothed out from its raised position.
"Damn this is stupidly complicated." He told Akamaru before hitting the back of his head gently against the wood. It was probably a good idea for him to jump in now and see what exactly was going on in the blonde's mind. Clearly it was Sasuke but it was to an extent that had Gaara so on edge that he felt he had to seek council... and clear up any misunderstandings of Naruto cheating on him.
As much as Kiba adamantly believed that Naruto could never do such a thing after all the heartache he'd been through... he really hoped something wasn't going on with Sasuke to give the redhead reason to jump to such conclusions.
A knocking persisted through the dreamlike state that had finally given the blonde some semblance of comfort. He had spent most of the day moving about his house. All the essays he had to grade were completed and sketched full of red ink; the dishes were washed, dried and put away in their appropriate cupboards; the floor had been mopped and scrubbed clean; the counters shined from the hard work he had put into cleaning them; the rugs had been vacuumed; and everything had been dusted.
Naruto couldn't remember a day that this house looked so incredibly clean when he had been its owner. It hadn't looked so nice since before his grandmother had passed away... right up until her last moments she had managed to keep this home spotless and he honestly had no idea, short of magic, how she had done it.
Groaning, Naruto pulled himself up off his couch and stumbled toward the kitchen and source of irritating knocking. Disturbances, always disturbances whenever he tried to wallow in his self-pity. Why couldn't Kiba ever let him be? Oh right, he was his eternal guard dog, there was no escaping him.
As he placed his hand on the doorknob after unlocking the bolt, Naruto could hear his best friend's voice on his ear. "It's been a week, Naruto. What's up with you this time? Have you talked to Gaara yet?"
Exhaling rather audibly, the blonde pulled open the door and glanced up only to have every nerve in his body freeze up in confusion. Blue eyes blinked wildly as he attempted to straighten his body from its previous casual lean.
Everything about this situation screamed for Naruto to slam the door shut, lock the door and hide in his bedroom until everything calmed down, but instead, he was frozen, standing stiff with his eyes unable to draw themselves away from the presence before them.
It hadn't been that long since they'd last fallen on him, but in this particular place... it had felt like a lifetime. It had felt like an occurrence that would never happen again... ever. And there was some warm nostalgia in the fact that he was here now. The soft quality of his eyes that brimmed with hesitance, his nervous stature that was rarely ever seen by the human eye, the familiar scent that greeted the blonde's nose as they stood, staring at each other. Everything felt like... it belonged.
"Naruto?" The lilt of his head and the questioning and concerned quality of his dark eyes brought Naruto out of his reminiscent thoughts. He couldn't afford to stand there, like a deer in really well defined headlights.
Taking in a deep, yet quiet breath, Naruto prepared himself and restrained the smile that tugged at the corner of his lips. "Sasuke... Hi..."
Finally got to comment on all those reviews that suggested Kiba and Naruto hook up in Stay, and I did it in story too! Good times! Remember slashers, best friends doesn't mean undertones of homosexual love for each other ... I nearly broke writing that, oh Kiba xD
Also, I know that by this point in Kiba's life, Akamaru would not be a small pup in regards to the manga/anime. But, for various reasons and the sake of keeping things less complicated during the scene with Gaara, I chose to make Akamaru more of a Terrier breed of dog.