Has a secret. Only his best friend in the whole world, Tenten, knows it, and he would very much like to keep it that way! Because, well, it is not a secret he wants to shout from the rooftops.
Okay, it is a secret he wants to shout from the rooftops, but he can not. It… wouldn't be right! His uncle would be very, very upset with him, and Lee doesn't want that, not with how his uncle gets when he is upset. And he does not want to make the situation awkward.
Does not feel like his usual open, exuberant self because of this. The only secrets he ever keeps are those that his friends tell him to never speak of. He has nothing to hide, honestly! There is nothing he is ashamed to admit to, there is nothing that he can not talk about… except this.
"Do you want to come by my place after school today?"
Lee hid his excitement behind a kind smile. "That would be wonderful, Gaara-san!"
His kohai, a year under him, returns his smile with warm eyes. Gaara's pastel teal gaze is so expressive and beautiful and…
Lee's heart beats at his ribcage like a vexed prisoner trying to escape its prison.
"We can make dinner again," Gaara goes on to say. "My family really likes your curry."
And Lee really likes Gaara's family. He likes how different they all are, and yet how much love they have for each other. Karura, Gaara's mother, is a goddess in disguise, Lee just knows it. There is not another mother in the world that can give birth and draw such opposite siblings together.
Lee wants very much to be a part of that family. To be a part of Gaara's life in a way he isn't.
Lee loves Sabaku no Gaara, another man. Lee is…
Lee is all those things and Lee is, for the first time in a very long time, afraid to admit it. If Gaara was to find out… he would leave. He would scowl and mutter and hate Lee because Lee is…
The way he is.
Lee does not like being a coward. He hates it, and that is saying something because he hates nothing else. Not as strongly as this.
"I really like your family!" Lee admits.
Gaara chuckles and reaches towards him. Lee stops breathing as Gaara's fingers thread through his hair and he has to wonder, he has to think that, maybe, he's dreaming.
Gaara pulls away and he had a leaf caught in one hand. "You ran through the woods to get to school again."
Lee flushes. Oh. Well, at least he had that moment. That single, wonderful moment, and he is going to remember it. Forever, if need be.
"Your hair… it's very soft." Gaara plays with Lee's bangs and he hopes his face isn't as red as it feels. Then Gaara's hand trails down the side of his face and falls back to his side.
Lee stands there, uncertain for a moment, before he remembers to move again. Gaara walks ahead of him as if nothing just happened, so, maybe, nothing did and Lee is hallucinating. Maybe he had gone crazy with love.
Or maybe it's natural for Gaara to be so personal. Lee remembers meeting Karura for the first time and how she had hugged him and then held his hand through half of Lee's stay. Kankuro, Gaara's older brother, had kept patting him on the back and ruffling his hair, and Temari, Gaara's older sister, had rested her hand on his shoulder occasionally, obviously the least touchy-feely of the family. Yashamaru, Gaara's uncle and Karura's twin, had acted exactly like Karura, and Lee had felt as if he was being accepted into something so much bigger than himself.
He had cried with joy once he had gotten home after that day.
So this most likely means nothing, except that Gaara thinks of Lee as a good friend. He shouldn't read into this. But he really, really wants to.
He trails after his kohai, wanting to stay as close to the redhead as he possibly can.
This secret… this love… he doesn't know how much longer he can hold it in, but if it means staying with Gaara, he hopes he can hide it for the rest of their lives.
He's in a happy mood when he comes home later that night. Gaara had fallen asleep in the middle of watching Gojira, and his head had rested on Lee's upper thigh. Lee hadn't been able to resist. He had petted Gaara's hair, feeling the slightly coarse locks run between his fingers, and had obsessively listened to Gaara breathe.
He wants so bad to tell Gaara, but it would change everything for the worse. He knows it. Just like he knows…
He freezes at the open doorway to his bedroom. His uncle is sitting on his bed, reading Lee's secret journal, and his uncle's knuckles are white as he grips the book.
The book Lee writes in so he remembers everything he does with Gaara. The book that knows only what he and Tenten know.
"Oji-san…?" This is bad. This is so bad! "Oji-san, are you alright?" A cold sweat breaks out on the back of his neck.
His uncle slowly tears his glare away from his journal to focus on him. "What is this?" His voice is a lashing hiss that hits Lee in the chest and shoves him back. He stumbles into the corridor wall as his uncle shoots to his feet, journal in one hand and the other tightened into a fist. "WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE?! HAVE I NOT EXPLAINED IT TO YOU ENOUGH TIMES FOR YOU TO UNDERSTAND THAT A MAN LOVES ONLY WOMEN AND A WOMAN LOVES ONLY MEN? HAVE I NOT RAISED YOU TO BE A MAN AND NOT A, A," he struggled to find the right word. "A COCK-SUCKER?"
His uncle closes in and grabs him by his shoulders, shaking him. "I have raised you as my own, I have loved you like a son, I have given you all of my wisdom and love and patience! Why would you pay me back in such a disgusting way!?"
"Please, Oji-san, I –"
His uncle backhands him so hard that he falls. Cheek throbbing, he tastes blood on his tongue. He doesn't want to look up, not into that face of fury and betrayal and loathing. So he stays there, on the ground, face to the carpet.
"Tell me it is a lie," his uncle growls.
They both know it will not be true if he does, but that isn't the point. The point is that… Lee isn't strong enough to stand up for his own sexuality. Not against his uncle. If he can't stand up for it, then he won't give into it, and his uncle can pretend that he's normal in that single way.
"It… it is a lie…" He feels the revulsion in the pit of his stomach, heavy and acidic, and he wants to throw up.
Because it is not just his sexuality he is lying about. It's his love for Gaara, his wishes and dreams for their relationship – he's denying all of it.
He closes his eyes tight and tries not to cry. He's a big boy now, no more tears. Not for something like this, at least.
"MAKE ME BELIEVE IT!"
"It is a lie!"
His uncle pauses. Finally, "Good." And then the sound of ripping and tearing…
Paper falls like snow down on Lee. Paper from his journal, all the good memories with Gaara, all of his shameful wet dreams, the girly mantra of Sabaku no Lee, and the bad sketches of them in happy, loving poses.
It's for the best that someone tears it up, he decides, losing the battle against his tears. Looking at it now, it only terrifies him. It's like he wanted someone to find out, keeping such a journal.
"Clean this up," his uncle growls once there is nothing left of the journal, not even the front and back covers. "And then stay in your room. When I am calm, we will discuss this."
"Do not. Call. Me. That. Not right now. I can not…" His uncle cuts himself off.
"… Yes… Gai-san…"
Lee sits on his bed, sobbing. He is disgusting, isn't he? He is a morbid human being, a disgrace!
He takes out his phone and starts to text Tenten. He doesn't know if he deserves to feel better, but he wants to talk to someone, and Tenten is the only one that knows.
Can I talk to you?
He waits for a reply, sniffling. His hands shake and it's a miracle that he can type at all, much less correctly. He doesn't like foreshortening words or abbreviating like other people.
Am I wrong for feeling the way I do?
For loving Gaara the way I do. Oji-san… found out. He… he hit me and he said I was disgusting. Is it wrong?
Do you think its wrong?
Lee clenches a hand over his heart. Does he?
Yes, but I can not stop it!
I love him so much. Being with him makes me happy and his family makes me feel so welcomed!
I want nothing more than to be with him, but I know he would never want me.
Why? Lee frowns through his watery vision. Why? Tenten already knows why, why would she ask again? Maybe… she is trying to get to a point? He wipes his nose on his sleeve and replies.
I am a man.
What if hes gay?
That is too much to hope for. It practically makes Lee dizzy just thinking about it. But he has to be realistic here.
I am not attractive.
He's gorgeous, he could have anyone he wanted!
What if he wants you?
She is breaking his heart, making him consider all of these impossibilities.
He could have me in a heartbeat.
Even now after what your oji did?
Wait for me. Im comin for you.
… What? Tenten, what are you…
Lee dont panic. Look at who youre contacting.
This does not bode well. Lee's eyes flicker up to the top of the screen and…
His heart stops.
His world stops.
And everything shatters into a million pieces.
He had been so upset that he hadn't realized that he had picked the wrong contact. This entire time, instead of talking to Tenten, he had been texting with…
Oh, God, Gaara, you were never supposed to know, I am so sorry.
Ignore everything I just said! Please!
Too late Lee. You said I could have you and Im comin to collect.
In case you havent figured it out yet - I love you too. So dont cry.
Im comin to save you.
Is this… is this a prank?
Gaara wouldn't be that mean, right? Gaara isn't that mean! Is he? But this is too much, too much happiness and joy for him to handle, and, oh, God, his uncle is in the house and if Gaara comes over, what will happen?
Do not come over! Gaara, do not come over!
But there is no reply. Gaara is already on his way.
He sits on his bed, ramrod stiff, waiting for someone to knock on the front door. Waiting for Gaara to knock on the front door. And he's terrified.
His uncle isn't home, thankfully. He left after locking Lee's bedroom door from the outside, growling and muttering to himself. He's most likely going on a run to clear his mind, or maybe to his favorite bar to rant about Lee's 'problem'. Lee's window is broken and has been for years, so opening it isn't a possibility. The front and back doors are locked.
He texts Gaara again.
You can not get in. Everything is locked.
A few minutes later, he hears glass shattering downstairs. It crunches as someone walks over it and Lee gawks at the reply he gets.
Doesnt stop me
I love you.
Lee will never be able to believe that this isn't a dream. It's too good.
Do you know how to pick a lock?
His door knob jerks and wiggles as someone tries to turn it from the outside.
He hears Gaara's muffled, husky voice. "Ah."
And then the door is kicked in. Chunks fly off of the broken frame and the door bounces off the wall, only to be pushed open again.
Gaara half-smiles at him. "I don't, but I think this works too."
Lee just stares and gawks…
And can't believe that this is actually happening.
Then Gaara reaches out with a hand. "Didn't I tell I'd come?"
Lee, the fastest member of their school's track team, has never before moved so fast then in that moment.
It's real and, if it's wrong, Lee doesn't care. Because Gaara… really does love him back.
And it feels so right.
Author's Note: I was on smartphOWNED, looking at the texts, and it inspired me.
EDIT: Sorry, folks! KakaIru pointed out that I got Karura mixed with Kurama. Kurama is Kyuubi and Karura is actually the Sand Sibling's mom. My bad!