Hunstanton – 1/5
Inspired by the song Hunstanton Pier by Deaf Havana.
Fresh out of university and ready to start his life, Gaara really doesn't expect to find himself back in Hunstanton. He wants to be down in London, with his foot wedged into the door of an international company, ready to begin building his career. But family obligation has forced him back to the tiny seaside town tucked away in the east corner of England.
Gaara blames it on Temari; unlike Kankuro and Gaara, she's the only sibling to not have fled the bubble-like town as soon as she'd been financially able to. Instead, she's actually settled down with her long-term boyfriend, even married him and now they have two little creatures running around their ankles. Gaara hates kids: he can't care less about the two turds following him around the cottage, and the prospect of being called uncle is far more daunting than he originally imaged. So Gaara ends up spending his time cooped up in the cupboard-like guest bedroom, counting down the days until he can finally leave.
Kankuro has already come and gone, having no university term time to stick to. He'd come in the winter months, frozen his toes off and had quickly escaped afterwards. Now he's somewhere in Birmingham working in construction. Meanwhile Gaara's stuck in the Victorian town for two months after thankfully having haggled it down from the torturous three that Temari had initially demanded. He's already spent his first week wondering exactly how he's going to keep himself occupied. In a place where the population doesn't scrape past five thousand, Gaara's struggling to find a purpose to his visit.
When Temari unhelpfully suggests he do something reckless like some sort of extreme water sport, Gaara glares at her, cocking a brow and then proceeds to stalk off back to his room with his tea. There, he sits in almost complete darkness, staring uselessly at his calendar and contemplating exactly how dull his life is at twenty-three.
"- don't look like a tourist."
Gaara jerks out of his thoughts. "I'm sorry?" He mumbles out and accepts the steaming cup of coffee from the barista along with a chocolate brownie. He hands over money and waits patiently for his change.
The tiny café he has found is brimming with life and noise. It's strange that the stoic man's even in there, normally Gaara's one to avoid loud crowded places, but the promise of a warm coffee (despite the sunny weather) and a break from fruitlessly searching the town for anything remotely interesting has driven him into the coffee shop. And now that he stands with his coffee in one hand and a plate with a delicious looking brownie in the other, Gaara's glad he ventured into the building – though he would appreciate it more if the tourists were slightly less in numbers.
"Said I don't recognise you, but you don't look like a tourist either." The barista repeats and smiles. She looks a tad younger than him, with bleach blonde hair and a cute little purple dress.
"I'm here to visit family."
"Oh! Who?" She leans forward over the counter in her excitement. "My name's Ino by the way!"
And there's the problem with small towns: everyone knows each other and their business. It irks Gaara to no end and is one of the reasons he'd left Hunstanton as soon as he was able. Seven years ago, he'd been the brunet kid sulking around the place on his own; the teenager who'd eagerly left the town with the barest of goodbyes and who hadn't returned since. But now, people don't know that. With brightly dyed red hair and thick eyeliner, he's no longer recognised for the scrawny boy from back then. And Gaara, being a very reserved and independent person, is very happy to keep it that way.
"Just people." Gaara says and quickly turns and flees to find himself a small table.
There, Gaara busies himself by pouring over yesterday's newspaperuntil sometime later when Gaara notices Ino hovering nearby him, wiping at a recently vacated table and stacking plates up onto a tray. He waits somewhat warily as she comes closer until she stands a respectable distance from him. Gaara looks up expectantly and raises a brow.
"Hey, erm, you wouldn't mind doing me a favour, would you?" She bits her lip and pouts.
He pauses for a moment and then Gaara puts down his paper and gives her his full attention.
"Look, I wouldn't be asking if it wasn't really busy in here, but would you mind taking a bunch of sandwiches and two coffees down to the tattoo place just round the corner? Sakura would have normally come got them by now, but I hear she's been a bit ill lately so normally I would have dropped them off by now as it's their lunch break," she says. "The boys will give you money for it all and you can just keep it."
"Why are you asking me?" Gaara murmurs back and then furrows his brow while he brings up an image of the town's layout in his mind; there certainly hadn't been a tattoo shop here before.
"'Cause everyone else in this place is a damn tourist and I don't trust a single one of them." At that she lets her eyes fall to table where a bunch of rowdy sightseers are busy exchanging holiday snaps. "Please? The guys are really lovely and they're both cute too – erm, but I don't know if you like that." Her voice trails off at the end and Ino gives him a sheepish smile.
Gaara stares back blankly, then drains the last of his coffee, wraps his brownie up in tissues and stands. "Okay."
"Really?! Are you sure? Jesus, I could kiss you right about now." She seems surprised, but then Ino's bouncing up and down and waving her hands excitedly. She doesn't give him time to reply as she rushes back behind the counter, ignoring the small queue in favour of packing sandwiches neatly into a bag and preparing coffee. "Thank God, you're such a babe!"
Gaara grimaces and mutely accepts the bag and holder containing two coffee cups. Making his way through the crowded café and almost stumbling over a pram, Gaara's thankful to find Ino pulling the door open for him.
"How long you here for then?" She asks.
"You know, this place can get awfully dull pretty quick if you're not doing anything." Ino looks at him like she's pretty sure Gaara already knows that. And then she laughs when the redhead rolls his eyes and nods. "Well if you need, I can get you a part-time job here. There are always tons of tourists here in the summer and mum and I always end up overworking ourselves. You can earn some money in the next few weeks and then escape off to wherever you want." She purses her lips together and shrugs. "Pop back in later if you're interested?"
"Pretty quiet aren't you?"
"I guess." Gaara replies and then gestures to the food in his hands. "I'm going to go now. Which way..?"
"Oh, yeah. Just down the road, third turning and its a few places down from that charity shop – dunno if you know which one I mean."
"Yeah, I know. Thank you." Gaara starts off walking after, down the street he's had the part week to re-familiarise himself with. It's a lot busier now though and the redhead finds himself jumping out the way of couples and mums with children.
The summer's officially kicked in now and whilst the breeze from the sea is refreshing, the midday rays beating down on him quickly have Gaara shedding his jacket somewhat clumsily. Memories of days spent wincing over reddened skin gently remind him that Gaara should probably go lather up in sun cream, but it's only his face and the scrawny arms poking out his t-shirt that are in danger of burning, and Gaara's always hated the smell of the cream anyway.
He's happy when he finally makes a turn and slinks down the much quieter road; it's void of tourists because there's nothing really interesting down here. But Gaara's quick to spot the tattoo place, it sticks out like a sore thumb and the redhead wonders just how much business can Jinchuuriki Ink have in Sunny Hunny – a place where half the people have hip replacements and the other half are under the age of four. Nonetheless, Gaara hasn't been this curious in while and he pushes the door open and steps inside with no further ado.
Inside, the air smells sterile and clear. The redhead stands in a modern and well lit waiting area, there are comfy looking leather sofas and table with a book of tattoo designs on it. The whole place is vastly different from the dark, chamber-like stereotype, and Gaara finds himself staring curiously into a glass case that holds various body jewellery when a low voice calls out.
Gaara jumps and spins round, the coffee cups wobble in their holder. Gaara opens his mouth to grunt out a greeting and then freezes.
There's a guy stood on the other side of the counter. He's got this gorgeous sun-kissed complexion and messy blond hair that could totally let him pass for one of those typical surfer guys that girls run after if it wasn't for the tattoos.
And Jesus, they're everywhere.
There's one starting at his neck and disappearing into the tight t-shirt that hugs him perfectly. And then both his arms are inked too, and Gaara's annoyed that he's too far away to make out any specific shape or pattern. But he's not too far away to spot the stretched ears or the multiple piercings (at least seven) that lay there. The guy's face is almost clear of metal though, besides the two rings on either side of his bottom lip. He looks handsome with these brilliant blue eyes that take in the sight of Gaara with a lazy, self-assured glance.
And okay, Gaara's attracted to him. And when he finally manages to unhinge his jaw and quit gawking, the redhead finds himself saying "Hi."
The guy blinks and then yawns, rubbing at his eyes with the palms of his hands and then pulls a strange face at the pale man. "Shit, sorry mate, I'm on my break so I can't do anything right now. You mind popping back later? Just ask for Naruto if I'm not around." He thinks for a second and then pulls a face. "Damn, I forgot to put the sign in the window didn't I? I'm being a pain, right?"
"I have lunch," Gaara says and he feels like a bit of an idiot when he holds out the bag and the drinks and walks forward to place them on the counter. He's totally out of place here and the blond man is definitely out of his league. Sure, Gaara's not a complete disappointment when it comes to guys – he's had sex more than once (even though Kankuro doesn't believe him) and the redhead has even dated (briefly, and like Kankuro believes that any more than the former). But the way Naruto stares at him, with a lazy smirk and look that oozes out confidence has Gaara feeling like the twenty-year old stoic virgin he used to be.
"Oh," Naruto clicks his tongue, and then his eyes drop from Gaara down to the bag. "Is that a BLT?" He pulls out a tenner and slides it across the counter without a thought.
"I don't know, I didn't make it." Gaara mumbles out, he's hasty to get away before he blurts out something foolish. "I should go now. You look -."
"Tired?" He laughs as he digs out a sandwich and takes a huge bite. "Nah, you can stay. Sasuke and I are just getting rushed off our feet today, I'm exhausted. It's been super busy and my girl's at home sick so it's just us two here."
"Sakura?" Gaara finds himself asking, rooted to the spot because Naruto's laugh sounds like someone is dribbling honey over that washboard stomach he's probably got under that shirt, and Gaara knows that sounds absolutely ridiculous but it's true. And so he's latched onto the name Ino gave him less than fifteen minutes ago and stares up at Naruto like a kid in a sweet shop – except, Gaara knows his face is completely blank, even if his mind is going crazy.
"Yeah." Naruto narrows his eyes at him and trails his gaze up and down his body. "How come I've never seen you around? I mean, this place has less culture than Jeremy Kyle, I would have remembered you." He smirks and gestures to Gaara's hair. "Don't recall a guy with red hair working for the Yamanaka family."
Gaara suddenly feels very naked and he reaches a hand up to play with his hair, as if the contact will suddenly turn it back to its natural brown colour. "I don't. Ino asked me to do a favour for her. I'm only here visiting family."
"Which one? I mean there's only ten to choose from," he jokes.
"Do you know Temari?"
"No – oh, wait! The cute pregnant chick – or, she probably had the kid ages ago, has her hair in these four bunches and came to get some fella's name done under her boob?"
Naruto smiles sheepishly. "Didn't know about that last bit, did you?" Naruto takes another bite. "So what, you're her brother? Awesome! Younger, I'm guessing, but equally as attractive." The words fall from his mouth with ease, like he genuinely means it and isn't just saying it for a bit of harmless fun.
But then there's heat spreading across his cheeks and Gaara can feel the beginnings of a blush. So he bites at the inside of his cheek and tries not to get all coy by avoiding eye contact. Nevertheless it's really hard because Naruto's just staring at him and he looks really cute and Gaara doesn't know what to say. Unable to look away, Gaara lets his eyes trail down Naruto's body, which really isn't a good idea if he thinks about it, but it's better than zoning in on the way Naruto's playing with one of the hoops on the edge of his mouth with his tongue. It's the tattoos that draw his attention though, (and maybe the toned arms they're on,) and he finds himself asking a question which can be perceived as naïve. "Did it hurt?"
"What? When I fell from heaven?" Naruto teases and goddamn winks at the pale man. "I assume you mean these?" He waves his arms about and when Gaara nods Naruto props his elbows onto the counter and rests his face in his hands. He stays like that for a while, thinking and then finally says. "Nah, I mean, yeah they hurt, but you get used to it. Depends whereabouts you get it too. Like here -," he grabs one of Gaara's wrists and holds it up, thumb caressing the skin there. "It hurts here. And here -." This time he spins Gaara round with gentle push and slides his hand down his spine. "Feels like a proper bitch."
Gaara turns back around and he's not quite sure if he's still breathing alright, not when the tattooed man is placing a final inked hand against Gaara's chest and running the fingers down it.
He's flirting. Naruto is definitely flirting with him, right? And Gaara doesn't know why because he looks like scrawny bald chicken, all paper-like skin and a head too big for his body. So why is Naruto stroking his fingers against his t-shirt and watching Gaara in the same way people do when they're really interested?
"Ribs hurt a bunch too." Naruto adds as an afterthought and then pulls away, completely unaware of the fire that he's just left on Gaara's skin. Instead, he smirks and cocks his head to the side. "Why? You interested?"
To be honest, Gaara's never thought of getting a tattoo; but then he'd never thought of dying his hair either until he'd tried it. Still, he's always kind of thought that they're stupid. And what happens when you're old? Why permanently mark your skin with something you might grow bored of?
"Because they mean something to you."
"Sorry?" Gaara's eyes snap up to stare into the blue of Naruto's. Did he say that out loud?
"It's all over your face."
And that really surprises Gaara, with his antisocial behaviour and blunt approach to most things, people struggle to understand him. And yet this guy seems to have got it right on the first try. Which is equally as exciting as it is terrifying because that means that for the past however many minutes they've spoken for, the bubbling emotions in Gaara's chest might not have been kept as secret as the redhead hoped.
"- Sure, some people get inked for the same reason you dyed your hair, 'cause it looks awesome. But then a bunch get them 'cause they mean something to them, like real personal shit sometimes." The way he says it and the way Naruto casts his eyes down to his own arms tells Gaara that the blond definitely falls into the latter category.
"Naruto, stop flirting."
Gaara chokes on a cough and his eyes shoot to look over Naruto's left shoulder where a fair-skinned man with black hair leans against the doorway with a leering face that tells the redhead that he's all too used to Naruto's behaviour.
"I'm not flirting! Jeez, Sasuke!" He turns to the redhead with wide eyes. "I'm not a creep, I promise. Sakura's my girlfriend -."
There's a sinking feeling in Gaara's stomach and the little warm bursts that keep running up the redhead's body whenever Naruto speaks or smiles or angles his body towards him just crumble away. And Gaara supposes he'd been a little silly. He's just a guy who can't even pass for an eighteen year old, and from behind you can easily mistake him for a short-haired girl. And okay maybe he's shooting himself down here, but there's not much point pretending that Naruto's conversation with him is anything more than a friendly chat.
"- In the summer we always get teenagers here, and it's obvious they've only just turned eighteen and have printed a quote off the internet that they found an hour ago because they wanna piss off their parents. So, you know, you're a pleasant change."
Gaara squints his eyes up at Naruto and tilts his head to the side. "Thank you?"
Naruto seems to sense his hesitation, because then a hand is reaching out and grasping Gaara's shoulder. "That didn't come off as rude, did it?"
Behind him, Sasuke is rolling his eyes and that cocky look doesn't disappear.
"No," Gaara replies. "I should go now." He's really eager to leave now, especially because it seems like Sasuke can tell he's attracted to the blond man, and Gaara's still unsure as to if Naruto can sense it too.
He senses disappointment in the tone of Naruto's voice and Gaara is quick to reply, almost like an excited school girl. "I am interested though. In a tattoo, I mean."
"Really?! Wait, you're not just saying that because some hot guy covered in them seems to think they're the best thing ever?" Naruto self-confidence bursts through any discontent fast enough to have Gaara blinking ridiculously. The blond man throws a glare over his shoulder when Sasuke snorts somewhere behind him. "This is something you gotta be really sure about. Think about it, alright?"
"I have thought about it." Gaara's lying.
"Ah, cool. Thought you seemed a little iffy about them earlier, thought you were only here at first 'cause Ino bribed you. Guess I was wrong." Naruto says. "Erm, do you wanna have a consultation now then, I'm still free for the next hour -."
Sasuke decides to join the conversation properly when he pushes himself away from the doorway and steps up behind his friend. "Might not wanna do that, Naruto. Bee's coming up remember? That's a five hour session – Don't wanna cut your break short. I'm sure the guy can wait."
"Oh crap yeah!" The face Naruto pulls could pass for sympathetic. "I've got some bloke coming up from Plymouth to get this wicked octopus done on his back. That's like a six hour drive, I'm well chuffed." Naruto grins and rubs at the back of his head. "But tell you what. I can slip you in for a consultation next week if you want? At the end of the day, so there's no rush 'cause I think you're a cool guy. Would love to do earlier but…" he shrugs.
"Fantastic!" He yanks over a piece of paper and Gaara can see him scribbling down a date and a phone number. Naruto hands it over and smiles broadly. "Pop back in on that day, yeah? And we can sort out some awesome design for you."
Gaara doesn't think any sort of picture on his body would look good. But Gaara still nods, heart thumping because the number Naruto wrote down didn't seem like a landline one, and tucks the paper into his pocket. "Thank you." The redhead then stands awkwardly for a moment until he spins round and makes his way to the exit.
"Why am I always stuck with the coronation chicken? You're such a prick -." Gaara hears the rustling of the food bag and the beginning of Sasuke's complaint before the door swings shut behind him and the sun glares down on him, making Gaara narrow his eyes and shield his face with a hand.
It's on the way to Temari's that Gaara stops by at the café Ino's family owned. There, he politely accepts a summer job and flees the shop the second it clicks in Ino's brain who he is and that apparently Gaara had been three years above her at the local state school.
When he's locked safely in his miniscule room, Gaara spends the rest of his day stood in front of the mirror in his underwear. Despite his short stature, his body seems lanky as he twists it to the left and then to the right, placing his hands on various places of his body while envisioning an inked image in their place. It's when Gaara's neck cracks far too loudly and painfully late in the evening that the redhead finally stops craning his head round to stare at his back in the mirror.
He sighs heavily.
Later he inserts Naruto's number into his phone.
So…this is going to be my next multiple chapter NaruGaa fanfic, and my first try at not having Gaara be a rude asshole or a complete pussy. At the moment it's planned to be five chapters, but considering that my smut scenes can easily turn into 5000 word monsters, it could be pushed to six. Anyway, I hope it's well received, let me know by reviewing!