His head was pounding. First, he thought he was in untold, unbearable, insufferable agony.

Belatedly, he realized his alarm clock was going off and his palm cracked down on the snooze button with unnecessary force. The ringing in his ears did not subside with the sudden silence, no matter how much he would have liked it to. As it turned out, he was in untold, unbearable, insufferable agony, and to top it all off, there was a disgusting odor and taste in his mouth that thickly coated his tongue and made swallowing a painful process.

Eyebrows scrunching together in discomfort as his belly rolled and his head ached, Lee wondered what had happened to him to cause such despair. He vaguely recalled having his and his roommate's mutual friend Naruto over with his boyfriend Shikamaru and then alcoholic beverages being forced in his face by the exuberant blonde….

That, he decided, was the cause of all this and he entertained dangerous thoughts of murdering his dear and precious friend for a few moments. He would never follow through with it, not really, but it softened the endless blows of drilling agony and he almost smiled as he thought of crushing in Naruto's head with his bare hands.

Slowly, Lee began the uncomfortable procedure of getting up. Several issues arose, not all of them because of his vicious hangover.

For one, there was a hand tangled in his long dreads. A hand that was not his, strangely enough, and it tightened and pulled whenever Lee tried to remove it which did absolutely nothing for his migraine.

For another, a new ache emerged, right around his lower back and inner thighs.

Thirdly, there was a body against his and an arm around his waist had him pressed flush chest-to-chest with another male figure.

Lastly, Lee dared to open his eyes and realized the greatest issue of all.

Those blue-green eyes staring down at him from that rough face, he knew them well. He saw them every day at every meal and during most of his free time when he wasn't out and about but relaxing inside the apartment.

"GyAAAAHHH!"

He flipped and flopped like a fish right out of his roommate's arms and onto the cold, hard, unforgiving ground that knew not his suffering but the freezing winter weather outside.

"What are you doing in my bed?!"

His roommate casually supported his upper body on one elbow and watched him with the same apathy he always had. It gave Lee momentary hope that what all evidence suggested had happened hadn't happened at all.

But Gaara was a strange and unpredictable man and he simply did not care for whether or not Lee was comfortable with the truth.

"Exactly what you think we did," he answered.

Lee paled. "Did I… Did I rape you?"

Gaara's broad shoulders tensed and the man narrowed his eyes in warning at him. "I was willing."

Lee felt as if he was about to throw up. He hadn't raped his roommate, which was good because Lee had heard that he became awfully forceful when intoxicated and he would hate to put his good friend and cohabitant through such a horrid ordeal, even if Lee had technically been on the receiving end.

What it did mean, however, was that Lee had had sex last night. Last night, the night Lee could not remember and possibly never would, Lee Rock had lost his virginity to a man.

He felt a strong urge to cry. The sheen of tears must have been in his eyes because Gaara's suddenly widened as he lurched over the side of the bed and carefully, not so certainly, started rubbing his hands up and down Lee's shoulders and arms.

"Are you alright?" Gaara asked. "Did I hurt you?"

That concern would have been sweet had Lee known for certain that there had been no other choice for Gaara than to actually have sex with his obviously inebriated roommate. Gaara said he had been willing, but maybe he was just saying that to save Lee's feelings…

Right?

"Did I… Did I force you?" Lee questioned, wanting to drag his comforter off the bed and wrap it around himself. He was ashamed. "Did I leave you no choice, is that why we, we, we… we did what we did?"

Gaara did not once even glance away from him as he answered. "We could have stopped at any time… I was just too selfish to. Lee, I – …."

Something shattered in the center of his chest.

Gaara could have stopped him. He knew that Lee had been a virgin, Lee had even told him the value he put in his innocence and that he wanted his first and last lover to be the one and same, his most special person, his soul mate, the only person he would ever truly love.

Yes, it was naïve and he had heard it was even impossible before, but that was how Lee felt. That was what he had told Gaara.

And Gaara could have stopped him last night. But he hadn't.

Lee retreated for a moment to mentally slap himself. It wasn't Gaara's fault… Lee had most likely come on to him in his smashed state. Lee had been the one to get drunk. Gaara had some blame in it for taking advantage of a drunk man, but Lee should have known better than to…

Known better than what? Than to trust his roommate?

His head and heart and body were hurting as a single entity.

"Please," Lee whispered, head hurting too much and the vomit swirling in the pit of his stomach making it difficult to speak up. "I can not hear it right now."

"But, Lee, I – …"

Lee glared at him. He felt betrayed and foolish. "What is it?"

Gaara finally looked away. "I'm sorry. I raped you."

All activity stopped. Every thought, every palpitation, every breath, it all just… stopped.

Gaara's retelling of his childhood ran through Lee's mind as he grabbed Gaara in a fierce hug and pulled him in close.

"You did not," he growled. "You did not rape me. You are not a rapist."

In the darkest reaches of his mind, however, he called Gaara just that.

A rapist.

Because Gaara had known and Gaara had taken anyway. Gaara had even known about how much of a lightweight Lee was and that Lee hated the things he did while drunk.

It hadn't stopped him though. He had said it himself. Gaara could have stopped it and Lee wanted to hit him as hard as he could and weep about it.

He didn't have that luxury quite yet, so he settled for telling Gaara what could have or what might not have been the truth.

"You are not a rapist."

But he might be.

:::::::

Gaara Sabaku, five foot nine beast of a man who, as his sister and occasional lays liked to complain, needed to use a razor more than at the end of every few weeks and whose temper was apparently still legendary even a decade after finding his inner peace, was having an issue with finding a roommate.

He didn't particularly need one. He was taking care of the finances on his own with enough money at the end of each month to suffice in whatever endeavor he chose to follow. He didn't even want one as he was a solitary creature with a loner wolf complex.

But he had room for one and that was where it all began.

Stepping down from his Fat Boy Harley-Davidson, Gaara took off his helmet and threw the chin strap over one of the handlebar grips. He unzipped his leather jacket as he walked away from his ride, wearing a tight burgundy tee beneath.

He was thinking locally when he slipped into his designated table at the coffee shop. The KonoSuna dam had broken and it would cost more to have it repaired than to simply let it drain out, meaning that Raccoon Lake was going to disappear if he and his sister didn't do their fundraiser right. Raccoon Lake served a number of functions for the community, among them being swimming, fishing, and boating, depending at what dock a person was at.

Gaara relied on a personal experience of when a baby perch had terrorized his older brother in the water to keep strong in his role. Taking out a napkin from the napkin holder and a ballpoint pen from his pocket, he began doodling a perch. He made it long and sleek with the necessary stripes and shading, its mouth open as it blew bubbles.

The fish were going to be removed from Raccoon Lake in another few weeks. If they couldn't win their case by then, then they would lose.

"Is that a yellow perch?"

He glimpsed up at the curious yet happy tone of voice and grunted in reply. Then he did a double-take and blinked stupidly at his server as what had to be a new employee tapped his pencil against his order pad and bit into a full, pouty bottom lip. Dark eyes were on Gaara's doodle.

At first glance, Gaara honestly thought the man's eyes were black all the way through. Looking more closely, they were dark chocolate. He was transfixed without knowing why. Perhaps it was the man's unusual dreadlocks, which fell in a thick curtain to a little below his shoulders, shorter rope-like tresses slipping out from beneath his bright orange bandana. It could have been the thick, off-shoulder sweater the man was wearing with a pair of green jeggings.

It could have been the man's bushy eyebrows.

Whatever it was, Gaara didn't want to look away.

When the man beamed, he figured out why at last. The man had an inner innocence that practically shot out of him and nearly beheaded Gaara with the shock of knowing that anyone could be like that in such a day and age.

"Is this because of what they are doing to Raccoon Lake?"

Gaara grunted again. "Hn."

The man did not seem to immediately mind his monosyllabic replies as he ranted. "It is terrible, is it not? It is such a clean, family environment and they can not invest a little money into keeping the dam intact! How did it even begin to crack in the first place? I thought it was someone's job to make certain it stayed strong, I want to know the slacker who caused us such a loss! I go swimming there, you know. Every chance I can get! For such a large body of water, it is surprisingly clean and clear. What will we do when it drains into Fox Valley? I would like to know!"

Having riled himself up, his server glared sourly at the napkin perch.

Gaara simply stared in awe at the coffee shop employee. His mind drew up a few different images of the man swimming in the lake, preferably skinny dipping, before he could stop himself. "My sister and I are fighting it," he found himself saying. "We're raising money to fix the dam."

His server's dark eyes lit up. "May I help? I will do whatever I can to save Raccoon Lake!"

Gaara wrote an address, time, and purpose down on the napkin perch and handed it over to his server. "Be there," was all he said about that. "Chocolate mint," he added on and watched the swirl of confusion drain away his server's anger.

"Excuse me?"

"My coffee. Chocolate mint coffee."

As if just remembering his job, the employee blushed crimson. "R-right! Sorry, sir, I will be right back with that."

Gaara watched the man with the dreads speed off, particularly enjoying the view of his behind. He couldn't find it in himself to be annoyed.

If anything, he was annoyed with the fact that he was going to have to pretend that he wasn't half hard till it was true.

When he arrived at his apartment later, he cursed at his own idiocy. His coffee shop didn't enforce name tags on its employees and he hadn't thought to ask.

He had no name to pin to the face still stuck behind his eyelids.

:::::::

Lee Rock was his name. Gaara found out at the meeting, which took place at the family home, when Lee rushed into the foyer with purpose and shouted it at him and the other participants.

His dedication and passion had eventually made the others forget about the spectacle he had made of himself and a few well placed comments and smiles had won their hearts. Meanwhile, in the background, Gaara was already been entrapped.

Lee had an aura or a light or an air about himself that simply attracted him. He wanted Lee for his own, he wanted to protect Lee, he wanted to own Lee. He didn't even know the man, but he knew exactly what he wanted to do with him.

It was simple lust. Gaara knew that, just as he knew he had always been unhealthily possessive in all of his relationships, but this felt gentler to him. More important. In his past relationships, Gaara had usually ended up being insensitive towards his partners and unable to understand why his partners weren't as independent as he was.

Gaara wanted to know Lee better so that he could take care of him. It was like he viewed Lee as a pet, something that couldn't quite take care of itself and a companion that would miss Gaara if he was away for too long.

He had pondered the strange cocktail of emotions with a sense of foreboding and a growing suspicion that the sly looks his big sister was sending him would mean bad things for his and Lee's relationship.

Later that night, when he and his two siblings had been alone, Temari had announced to him that Lee was going to live with him.

"He's been living with his uncle his whole life," Temari told him with a foxy grin. "And he's just now giving thought to getting out of the house and trying something a little new. So I suggested you."

Gaara had wanted to hug her and throttle her at the same time. He had settled for "Hn," and then walked away with his leather jacket half on and half off.

Lee did eventually call him, and Gaara would later find out that Kankuro had slipped his number into the coffee shop worker's pocket while he hadn't been looking, and they set up a date so that Lee could see if he would like living with Gaara.

He wanted Lee to want to live wit him. He really did. By the time Lee was at the door, Gaara had cleaned the apartment twice over and had determined several different lines of conversations.

Every word he had pre-planned turned to dust and got caught in a gale when he opened the door and saw Lee in a pair of classic private school gym shorts that had always made him wonder about the pedophiliac tendencies of gym teachers and a green tee that stuck to his slim, tall figure. His legs had been endless, perfectly muscular, and Gaara had been busy thinking about having those mile-long legs wrapped around his waist while Lee had showed himself around the apartment.

By the time Gaara snapped out of it, Lee was asking when he could move in.

Several weeks later, they won the case and Raccoon Lake was there to stay. Gaara and Lee had gone to celebrate by a nice, long swim in their favorite waters and Gaara had ogled the man in the boy shorts and white tee slicing through the water like he belonged there.

It was right about the moment that Lee spun around in the water and splashed him in the face, laughing with delight and face beaming with joy, that Gaara's heart squeezed in his chest and he acknowledged the hard truth.

He was in love with Lee Rock.

:::::::

Five months had passed since that fateful day in the coffee shop and he had come to a conclusion. He was more than in love with his roommate, he loved Lee Rock. More than anyone before him, Lee commanded him, heart and spirit. Lee could tell him to go jump off a bridge without a bungee cord and he would. Lee could tell him to swallow fire and he would. Lee could tell him to pamper him and Gaara would without question.

He halfway pampered Lee anyway. The amount of money Lee poured into their living arrangements was only a third of the total cost instead of half, not that he had told Lee that, and Gaara often gave gifts and trinkets to Lee, saying that 'friends and family' had given them to him and he had 'thought' Lee would like them better.

Gaara wanted Lee to be happy. He wanted Lee to think that he was irreplaceable and he wanted Lee to laugh and smile every time he walked through the front door. He told Lee things about himself that he hadn't told anyone else but his siblings and he did activities and outings with Lee that he wouldn't even do with his siblings. Lee meant that much to him.

It was pathetic, really. He was just a friend to Lee and here he was, forsaking his sex life and romance because he wanted no one else. He would never have Lee. Lee would never look at him that way. It was something he convinced himself to accept.

Until that night happened.

Lee was on his left, drunk after two cups of forty percent alcoholic vodka, and Naruto and Shikamaru were across from them with the blonde laughing his ass off at his hiccupping, grinning, slurring roommate and Shikamaru saying they were troublesome.

When Lee's head lolled against Gaara's shoulder and the other man was crooned about how he had always liked Gaara's stubble and his hands began fondling Gaara's built chest, Gaara decided it was time for the hysterically guffawing Naruto and frowning Shikamaru to leave.

Forcing them out the door was the first hassle. Convincing Lee that he wasn't going with them and, no, they weren't going to Chuck E. Cheese was another.

Lee was quite adamant about going to Chuck E. Cheese and sulked when Gaara said that they weren't going their either.

"I want to!" Lee said childishly, pouting. His cheeks were flushed and his eyes glassy. "I wanna go!"

"No," Gaara quipped back, dragging the intoxicated Lee towards his bedroom. "You're going to bed."

"Wanna go t'Chuck E. Cheese… Where kids, kids can be kids, y'know… I'm gonna be a kid!"

"You can't be, Lee, I'd be a pedophile if you were a child."

Lee paused in the hallway, swaying and trying to make sense of that statement before he visibly dismissed it and kept whining. "Wanna go see the mouse!"

"No, Lee, you're going to bed."

Lee, in his obviously distorted mind, apparently thought he could sneak away by suddenly dodging around Gaara and stumbling towards the door, giggling like a mad man. Gaara wrapped his arms around Lee's waist and lifted him up over his shoulder, carrying him back to bed.

The other man groaned pitifully. "'m gonna throw up…"

He tried to dump Lee on his bed but his roommate had a tighter grip on his shirt than he had first believed. He toppled over with Lee and just barely stopped himself from squishing the slimmer form with the support of his arms. His first true love beneath him, Gaara blushed just a little.

His shirt was dragged up to his shoulders in the process and Lee hummed happily as his warm palms dragged down his shoulder blades and back. Muscles flexed and rippled beneath those desired hands and Gaara's eyes fluttered closed.

"You're warm…" Lee murmured, legs falling to either side of Gaara's body. The soft, happy look on his face did Gaara in.

He didn't even try to impose any self-control on himself as he leaned down and captured Lee's mouth in a sweet, deep kiss. Lee made a questioning sound that was ignored and his hands wandered beneath Lee's tee, mapping out warm, caramel skin.

He pulled away for a short moment, mind buzzing and lips tingling from the spicy fresh taste of curry and spring water. Lee looked up at him with bleary eyes, lips bruised and hands limp above his head.

"Gaara…? What're doin'…?"

He pressed an open-mouth kiss to Lee's jaw, then trailed more down his throat, pausing a moment to nip and suck at his collarbone. Lee watched him with uncertain confusion, hands twitching as if he wanted to do something but didn't know what.

Gaara didn't think about the times Lee had openly told him that he wanted his first time to be special, that he wanted to have one partner for life. He didn't think about the times his Uncle Shukaku had gotten him drunk as a child to do the same thing he was doing to Lee, which was something Lee knew about him that near no one else did.

He didn't think about anything that might stop him as he stripped them both down to nothing, obsessively aware of how Lee wasn't fighting him and the innocent curiosity in his dazed gaze. He touched Lee everywhere, knowing that this might be the last time he would ever even see the other man again, and his fingers sank deep into his tight heat, stretching him and pleasuring his prostate. Lee cried out and threw an arm over his face, body quivering and undulating beneath his stare and touch.

It was erotic and beautiful and he clenched a hand in Lee's rope-like tresses as he molested a dusky nipple with his tongue and lips.

"You're beautiful," he told Lee. "I love you."

He could only hope Lee wouldn't remember anything he said in the morning.

Gaara sheathed himself inside of Lee and it was the most magnificent moment of his life. Sex had been nice and sometimes stress-relieving in the past and yet it was different now. The euphoria was explosive and the small, chopped noises Lee made went right to his nerve-endings and singed his sanity, driving him closer and closer to the edge.

"I love you," he said over and over again, tasting the salt of Lee's sweat as he rested in the curve of his long neck. "I love you…"

"G-G-GAARAA!"

Lee climaxed and his walls strangled Gaara, drawing him into his own orgasm. It was true bliss and Gaara shuddered as he was milked completely dry.

His roommate passed out, head falling to the side as his uneven breaths slowly became normal again. Gaara forced himself up and out of Lee's body, retrieving a damp wash cloth and wiping them both down.

It would be better if he left. But he stayed. He slumped into Lee's bed and pulled the other man to his chest, one hand tangled in Lee's dreads and the other around his waist. The warmth of him, the quiet breaths against his skin, the slow and thoughtless motions of his deep sleep, it all endeared Lee more to him.

This was the first time and last time Gaara would ever get what he wanted. So he let himself hold on as if he could stop the inevitable, knowing that he would fail but also knowing that Lee felt so good against him.

It was perfection. Stolen perfection.

:::::::

Lee was at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and another glass of water, eyes and cheeks tear stained and his head in his hand.

Gaara came back in from the bathroom and held out two painkillers to him.

Lee stared at the hand. It was broad, just like Gaara's shoulders, but it wasn't rough. Gaara's jaw was rough and, from the times Lee had seen Gaara naked, so was most of his body with hair, but his skin was smooth.

Those hands had touched him last night. They had held him in the way lovers held one another and Lee couldn't even remember.

He looked away as he took the painkillers and swallowed his water. Gaara sat down across from him, showing no guilt over what he had done.

Perhaps that was a good thing. Lee felt enough guilt for the both of them. He knew what alcohol did to him. He had told Gaara what it did to him, but maybe he hadn't believed Lee as Lee rarely ever drank. Had he flirted with Gaara? Had he told Gaara things that would make it seem like he had wanted last night?

He pressed his hot forehead to the cool table surface. It wouldn't be a lie. Lee kept an open mind about such things as relationships, so he had never convinced himself that he would spend the rest of his life with a woman, though he had thought himself in love with a female friend once. In the past few months, he knew that he had grown to like Gaara, maybe even enough to ask the other man on a date, but he had certainly not been ready for what had happened the night before.

But maybe he had subconsciously thought he was and had told Gaara so. What had he said? What had he done? Gaara had legendary self-control, Lee somehow had to be at fault, if only half at fault, for what had occurred.

"If you want to move out," Gaara said, "I understand."

He wasn't sure if he did or not. He liked living with Gaara. Heck, he loved it. He loved the apartment and he loved Gaara's silent yet strong company and he loved the detachable showerhead in the bathroom.

But did he like Gaara enough to stay after what had happened?

He groaned and tangled his hands in his dreads. He was suddenly very tired and painfully confused.

"I need to think about it," he told Gaara.

"… If you want to call the cops, I understand that too."

Lee looked up sharply, a bad move with his migraine, and glowered at the other man. "I will not! I am sure I am as much at fault as you are. Besides, you are not a… a rapist! You are my friend."

That, at least, he had ascertained himself of in the past fifteen minutes. Gaara wasn't a rapist. Not like his Uncle Shukaku.

"He would pour something strong down my throat. Whatever we had handy. It was fine at first, I couldn't remember anything and I could say that I was in pain because of something else. Then I started building up a tolerance. I could see what he was doing and hear it, but my body wasn't coordinated enough to fight him. He'd call me names, whore, slut, his little concubine. When I was eleven, I took a shotgun from my father's drawer and shot him between the legs. I couldn't take it anymore and no one would help me. He died before he got to the hospital…"

Gaara wasn't his Uncle Shukaku. He had treated Lee like he was something precious ever since he had moved in…

As a matter of fact, Gaara would give him gifts and take him out to the movies and for dinner. If they didn't go out, Gaara would help him make something homemade and they would watch something Lee liked on the television, even if it was a cheesy classic or old horror movie that knocked Gaara out halfway through.

Lee frowned thoughtfully at his redheaded roommate. He had a feeling that he was facing a game of connect-the-dots and all the dots were connected. All he had to do was see what it made.

When the epiphany came, it nearly knocked him off his stool and he gaped at Gaara.

"I did do something to tempt you… did I not?"

Gaara's eyes shot to his. The truth was there, vibrant and brimming.

Lee hadn't done anything to tempt Gaara. Gaara had had sex with him because…

Gaara liked him. Like, really liked him. If the strength of the emotions he was showing was anything to go by, Gaara might even love him.

"Oh my goodness…"

Gaara closed his eyes, his first sign of shame since Lee had woken up. "I told you. I was too selfish to stop."

"You took advantage of me!" He sobbed into his hand. "You, you stole my virginity! I told you that I wanted to save myself for my most special person, were you lying when you said you respected that? I thought when you did not make fun of me like all of our other friends that you understood, but is that really it?"

"I did respect that," Gaara interrupted. "I just chose not to think about it."

He rocked back and forth on his stool. "I can not believe you. How could you do this, I trusted you!"

"Because I love you." Gaara's voice was low and husky. "I love you and I wanted one night. Even knowing what the consequences could be, I took what I wanted. You can tell all of our friends that I forced myself on you. You can convict me, I won't fight you." He laid his hands down on the table, palms up, utterly defenseless. "I want to say I'm sorry for what I did, but all I'm sorry for is that I hurt you."

"You took advantage of me and you are trying to say it is because of love? That is, that is –!"

Lee had driven him to it. Gaara loved him so much that he had risked everything, even his family bonds and freedom, just to be with him once like lovers were. Gaara had already said it, he would take whatever punishment Lee dished out. He knew he had done wrong, but it had been worth it to him.

He hid his face in his hands. "I am far too forgiving…"

But he couldn't imagine being angry at Gaara. Not for very long. Gaara was important to him.

Sighing a bone-weary sigh, he put his hands in Gaara's, startling the redhead.

"Here is my condition. We will go on a date. Do you hear me? A single date! And you must impress me. If you ever do this again, I will castrate you like you did your Uncle, do you understand me? I will not involve our friends and families or the authorities, I will make you suffer by my own devices."

Gaara shuddered. Lee watched in awe as a single tear weaved down the redhead's cheek into the coarse hairs of his stubble.

His roommate bowed his head over their hands, fingers clenching around Lee's.

"Okay… Thank you."

"I hope you know you do not deserve this…" Lee mumbled.

"I know."

"… Just tell me one thing. Did I say or do anything embarrassing?"

Gaara snorted. "Yes."

"Oh, goodness… What was it?"

"I'm not telling you."

"What? But, why?"

"Because then you'd know where I'm taking you for our date."

:::::::

Author's Note: Lybellulla, otherwise known as KakaIru here on Fanfiction, made this wonderful picture of Lee with dreads that inspired me. Also, I've had a hairier, manlier Gaara stuck in mind. This is the result.