Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Diplomatic Relations ❯ Closer ( Chapter 16 )
[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
AN: I'm back! Here's a chapter a lot of people were waiting for, and that I've been sweating blood over for the last two months or more, trying to get it right. Wurhg. I hope you all enjoy. It's about twice as long as the other DR chapters, but I found that the length was needed.
Thanks for the mm.org reviews ^_^ I did my best to get this chapter out as soon as possible!
Part Sixteen: Closer.
The start of Lee's week had been intense, to say the least. He'd been tossed against a rock, scratched and bruised, threatened with sandy death, kissed, tantalized and argued with. He'd had Gaara accept his love and open up to him a bit, too. That was almost as traumatic as the rest, in a strange way.
And it was only Wednesday.
Nobody would have blamed Lee for approaching the Kazekage's residence a bit diffidently after all that.
Not that Lee did, of course. He strode right through the courtyard and rapped hopefully on the door.
"Gaara? You in?"
Just as he was about to knock again, he felt a faint flicker of chakra from inside the house. The Shinobi equivalent of an acknowledgement and an invitation to enter.
Lee tried the door and found it unlocked. He slipped off his sandals in the lobby and hopped up the three small steps into the large reception room. He looked around expectantly, but to his surprise, Gaara wasn't anywhere to be seen. The robe of office was hanging - a bit carelessly - from the knob of a sword hilt, one of the weapons of past leaders decorating the walls of the richly furnished room. No signs of its owner, though. Lee craned his neck to see if Gaara was in the kitchen off to one side, getting some tea or a late lunch; nobody there either.
The quiet words answered the question Lee was about to voice.
Lee had never been in this room before. It was barren, compared to the reception area. There was only a double bed; a small undecorated cupboard; a long, low writing table shoved into one corner, covered in papers and books; a cushion next to it for kneeling while working. And that was it.
Gaara was beyond the bed, sitting in the open window, his back propped against the large sill. He was wearing simple pants and a sleeveless red tunic, a rare informality. The gourd was leaning against the wall beneath the window. Gaara had gathered his knees to his chest, resting his arms against them, his face turned away. He was staring out over Sunagakure. Lee didn't know what Gaara could be watching so intently; he'd just walked through the village, and anybody who had half a brain was hiding indoors from the fierce, early-afternoon sunshine.
Lee studied Gaara's profile in silence for a moment. On a purely superficial level, Lee enjoyed looking at Gaara. On another level, he was trying to judge his friend's mood.
Distant, was the first conclusion that popped into Lee's head. Gaara looked like he was wandering the twisted paths deep inside his own mind. But he didn't look tired or in pain. He didn't look like he wanted to talk, either. Beyond that, Lee couldn't guess.
He'd seen Gaara like this before. He normally left his friend alone in these circumstances. But Gaara had invited him in. And Lee had the feeling, which he could in no way justify with any logical observation, that even now Gaara was trying to let him come closer.
Well, this was not a dangerous situation. The worst that could happen here was that Gaara would not speak to him, or answer in monosyllables. Lee had spent hours in Gaara's silent company before, in the desert, on missions, or at night in his office when the Kazekage didn't feel like talking. Lee didn't mind. Especially if it meant he could continue to admire the view. Maybe his presence here would give Gaara the impetus to stop brooding.
"Did you get a good rest yesterday, after I walked you home?" Lee asked politely.
After a few seconds, Gaara's chin dipped a fraction.
"Good! I slept over twelve hours last night myself. But I did manage to get some good work done during the day, while trying to stay awake. I finished re-sorting those reports, and I've been working with Sanada on correlating information." Sanada had been nice and ignored Lee's frequent yawns. "A summary should be on your desk sometime tomorrow."
Gaara nodded faintly, still without looking around.
Lee hesitated between the cushion in the corner and the bed. The bed would be better, if Gaara didn't mind. It was only a few feet away from the window; Lee could sit down facing his friend and continue to talk without craning his neck.
He sat down, and then got to his feet again. He turned, prodded the bed suspiciously, and sat back down gingerly. He shifted his weight around and grimaced.
"Good God, Gaara, do you sleep on this?" he muttered.
He glanced up to find that his antics had at least drawn some of Gaara's attention. Green eyes were studying him incuriously.
"No," Gaara finally answered, seeming a bit more focused.
"Good for you. I'd rather sleep on the floor." The thin mattress was lumpy and worn, even through the sheets. The platform beneath it was slanted in a way that would be a long-term danger to a warrior's posture, and the legs creaked.
"But you can sleep these days. You told me so. Right?" Lee prodded the mattress. "I mean, when you said you needed to rest, yesterday, I assumed-"
"I sleep." Gaara was still looking at him, and Lee thought the whole question had at least had the merit of distracting him. "My mental resistance has increased over the years. I can sleep for two or three hours without ill effects."
"Oh. And you can do that on this bed?" Lee asked incredulously. He shoved against the ground with his feet and the whole thing wobbled and groaned alarmingly.
"No. I don't lie down. I do it over there." Gaara jerked his chin towards the cushion near the writing desk. "It's an old habit."
"So the bed...?"
"An old one."
"Didn't they give you a better one when you took office?"
"They did. I let Temari have it. She has back problems."
Gaara looked at the scenery again, and Lee went back to admiring his own view: Gaara's profile cut out against the desert sky, the curve of the neck, the arms in the sleeveless tunic. It was a very fine view, in Lee's opinion.
"I thought you'd be back in your office today," he finally said, testing the ground. "But your aide told me you'd gone home before noon."
At least that got a reaction, however small. Gaara's lips tightened.
"Yes. I've had fifteen hours of work a day ever since I took the position of Kazekage, but not this morning."
"What do you mean?" Lee asked, perplexed by Gaara's unusually bitter tone.
"I've scared them," Gaara said bluntly, still looking out over the rooftops of the village that fell away from the elevation on which the Kazekage's residence was perched. "Considering my behaviour these past few days, I can't say I blame them. There was a small conspiracy of paperwork shuffling around me this morning, aimed at leaving me with nothing to do today but go home and rest some more."
"I'm sure they meant well," Lee ventured. Inwardly, he groaned. Yes, the admin staff had had the best of intentions, he was sure. Gaara had certainly needed a break yesterday. But now he needed something to keep him busy. An insomniac sleeping two to three hours in twenty-four had more than enough time with only his own thoughts for company. Giving him yet more time to brood wasn't going to help.
Lee got to his feet with a decisive gesture.
"It you want to reassure them, you need to work at it! Skulking around here isn't the way to do it. And it's not improving your mood."
That got him a faint scowl; Lee felt encouraged, as it was more of a response than he'd expected if Gaara was really plunged deep into one of his dark silences.
"I know!" Lee said brightly, a fist punching the air with enthusiasm as the sudden idea hit him. "Let's go spar! That'll cheer you up!"
The scowl turned into an outright stare, as if Lee were some strange new animal in an exotic zoo.
"You think a tiring, sweaty, dangerous activity will cheer me up."
"It always cheers me up," Lee pointed out.
"Yes, that's why most of this village thinks you're as crazy as I am," Gaara said, turning back towards Sunagakure's skyline.
"You're exaggerating. Nobody here thinks you're crazy. Or me, for that matter. Come on, Gaara, it's a good idea. It'll show people you're okay, it'll cheer you up, and training is never a waste of time. Let's go!"
"Now don't be pig-headed."
Gaara didn't even dignify that last statement with an answer.
"Fine," Lee said, switching tactics. "Give me three good reasons why you'd rather hide in here instead of going out and getting some exercise with me."
Gaara didn't look away from Suna's streets, but he raised his right hand, two fingers and a thumb extended.
"If there's a way of showing my people that I've not gone completely insane, it won't be by fighting with you during the hottest part of the day," he said, the thumb folding back into his palm.
"Oh, but they know-"
A finger folded back methodically. "I don't want to strike at you with Sand again, even if it's just for a match."
"And you," Gaara concluded, still without looking around but pointing the last finger at Lee, "were supposed to take it easy for another two weeks. At least."
Lee's mouth stayed open.
"We could just do a simple match? Going slow...?" he finally suggested, not very hopefully.
Gaara continued to stare out the window, body still, face unreadable.
Lee examined him, then nodded to himself.
There was no reaction behind him when he turned away from the window. No indication that Gaara would care if he left. In a way, it didn't matter if he cared or not. Lee couldn't spend his days second-guessing Gaara. The man was hard to read at the best of times, it would be a pointless. More importantly, it would be sort of dishonest, in a way, a bit like manipulation.
So it wasn't worry over what Gaara might think, but purely Lee's own decision to sit back down on the bed instead of leaving. If his friend wanted him to go, Gaara would have no compunction in saying so; until then, Lee was going to stay right where he was, because he wanted to.
He curled his bare feet beneath him and straightened his back, after twitching around a bit to get comfortable. One of his green uniforms was in the wash, the other needed a good bit of work with needle and thread after Gaara's flare-up in the desert oasis two nights back, and the third one had been ruined by inconsiderate Sound ninjas. Gai-sensei had promised to send him replacements as soon as he could get them manufactured, but Lee was reduced to standard Leaf Jounin wear in the meantime, and it just wasn't the same thing.
"I've finished my work for this afternoon too; they're also keeping my load light during convalescence," he told Gaara while settling down. "I'll do a few chi exercises, then I'll go train when it gets cooler. I'd love your company, if you're up for it. It'll make you feel a lot better."
He took one last peek at Gaara's profile before closing his eyes; it wouldn't help him empty his mind for meditation, but it was such a pleasant distraction to battle against.
Lee concentrated on his breathing, on the slow movement of chakra and chi, and started to undo the strands of worry that were anchoring him to the material plane. Gaara would be okay. He was strong. Hell, he was practically back to normal already, just a bit more sombre and morose than usual. He-
Lee's brow creased. He conscientiously smoothed it and made another stab at serenity. But his mind balked again. There was something odd, trying to get his attention. Not a threat though...a presence...?
Lee opened his eyes instinctively to find Gaara examining him from a few inches away, leaning over the bed without touching it.
"Waaah!" Lee lunged away instinctively, which is not something you should do from that stance. He ended up in a tangle of limbs on the creaking bed. "Gaara! How many times have I told you not to sneak up on me like that! Are you trying to get punched?!"
Gaara observed him as Lee unknotted himself. His face was unreadable. Then he kneeled on the bed and put a hand on the mattress near Lee's thigh.
Lee blinked at him owlishly.
Gaara crawled onto the bed and sat down opposite Lee, who'd managed to get himself straightened out.
"...Did you want to meditate with me...?" Lee said, though the way his heart rate had begun to accelerate, he already knew that wasn't what Gaara wanted.
Gaara leaned forwards, eyes open, looking straight into Lee's.
Lee opened his mouth to say something- though he would never know what it was he had been about to say.
Lips brushed his, then Gaara sat back a fraction, his face two inches away.
It wasn't a torrid kiss by quite a long stretch. But neither was it the innocent and comforting gesture they'd shared yesterday morning.
Gaara stayed where he was. He appeared to be waiting.
"I guess...if this makes you feel better..." Lee heard himself say.
That was apparently what Gaara had been waiting for, because the last word was muffled.
Lee tilted his head and made it more of a kiss. This was okay. They'd done this before. Just a kiss. Gaara probably wanted a bit of- of nearly innocent comfort...and Lee knew that, even if he wouldn't have dared to ask for it, he'd been longing for this too.
Gaara's fingers were on Lee's upper arms, warm even through his shirt. Lee himself didn't know where to put his hands. He fumbled a bit, then settled them lightly on Gaara's ribs.
A breeze rustled the curtain near the open window; the bed creaked as their weight shifted slightly. Gaara's mouth brushed Lee's cheek, his chin, then his lips again. Lee didn't let him move on, pressing their mouths together more fully again.
This wasn't like yesterday's hug; this was soft, sensual, a shared caress. But it was also a peaceful moment. They were together, safe and sound, and Lee felt...warm. Valued. Protective and protected. He'd touched this briefly before, when he'd gone to sleep in Gaara's arms after ripping open seven Gates to protect the person he loved. But this time nobody was actively trying to kill them, and Lee didn't have multiple injuries to contend with. Which made the whole thing entirely better.
Breath brushed his cheek, slow, steady and appeasing. Red hair tickled his forehead. Lee caught a flash of green pupil when he took a quick peek through his lashes; Gaara's eyes were open. Lee preferred to keep his closed. It enhanced the other senses; highlighted Gaara's breathing; the soft creaking of the bed; the small shifts in the muscles of Gaara's back and sides as Lee's arms crept around his waist.
Gaara kissed the corner of Lee's mouth; then he rubbed his face against Lee's cheek like a cat and put his arms around Lee's shoulders. Lee breathed in and out slowly, wrapping his arms more tightly around his friend. Boyfriend, Lee corrected himself, with soft wonder. It had been hovering at the back of his mind for a couple of days now, but this suddenly made it real. His body was tingling all over, but it was a comforting, undemanding feeling, it just warmed him and left him feeling happy.
That feeling of peace had expanded around them like a bubble. In that little space and in that short moment in time, there were no more questions, problems, doubts, underlying mania and misbehaving Sand.
"Closer," Gaara said softly.
"Hm?" Lee blinked. He'd buried his face against Gaara's shoulder. The red tunic smelled like cupboards and Gaara's skin. Lee let his fingers drift up Gaara's spine, rumpling the cloth. He felt Gaara shiver against him; they were pressed closer together now.
Lee's fingers pawed at the cloth again, the gesture unconscious. He only realized he was doing it when Gaara fell still.
Gaara leaned back, rolled over onto his knees, increasing the distance between them. Despite the blazing hot sunshine outside, Lee suddenly felt cold as Gaara's hands left him.
But Gaara didn't say anything. His fingers dropped to the edges of his tunic and he pulled it off over his head.
In the very far reaches of his brain, Lee remembered that sudden and extreme temperature changes were bad for muscles and joints. The way he'd gone from feeling cold to feeling like he was about to fry couldn't be good for his health. The way it seemed to be independent of the actual temperature in the room was also of concern.
He stared wide-eyed at Gaara's bared chest. The skin was as smooth and pristine as he remembered. Ah, no, not quite. Lee felt an odd tingly feeling in his stomach, a queer mix of amusement and fierce protectiveness, as his eyes traced faint tan lines on Gaara's neck and arms; a little memento of their time in the desert. A small patch near Gaara's shoulder had apparently peeled.
Lee licked his lips. That tingly feeling was growing at an alarming rate, turning into breathless excitement. He'd seen Gaara's body before, and then he'd dreamt about it quite a lot. But now...
But now, presumably, Lee was allowed to touch.
His hands hesitated an inch away from skin the colour of wild almonds; his fingers looked bigger than they usually did, and the bandages binding them felt tighter.
Gaara glanced down, then he moved forward so that Lee's fingers slid all by themselves across his chest.
He watched Lee's fingers trail over his skin for a few moments, eyes serious and attentive. Then he looked up slowly. He leaned forward and touched the buttons on Lee's shirt with something close to a frown of concentration. Then his fingers went to work at Lee's collar.
Lee hadn't expected that, but he couldn't really dwell on it. In fact, Gaara could have proceeded to cut Lee into cat-food at that point, and Lee wouldn't have done anything more than stare, entranced, at his own fingers caressing smooth skin. It slid beneath his hands; warmer than he'd thought. Why had he assumed that Gaara's skin would feel cool...? There were no scars to catch Lee's calloused fingertips; just the occasional dip between lean muscles.
Lee's eyes were beginning to prickle; sooner or later, he was going to have to blink. But if he blinked, he might miss something; or possibly wake up...
Then Gaara leaned forward and pulled Lee's shirt down his arms, removing the Jounin vest at the same time, and that broke Lee's odd trance.
Lee dragged the shirt and vest off his forearms and bandaged hands to free them, wishing distractedly that he'd thought of putting on a t-shirt beneath his shirt today- or at least taken a shower this morning, water-restrictions be damned.
His arms crossed diffidently over his chest. But all of Gaara's attention seemed to be on the large, red scar across Lee's chest, the skin still shiny and fragile.
Some of Lee's awkwardness faded beneath the clinical scrutiny. He glanced down at the long gash. Sakura-san's medicine was wonderful when it came to getting a wounded Shinobi back on his feet quickly, but man did it leave one hell of a mess. Lee was stretching the skin and rubbing liniment in it three times daily, so that the epidermis and muscles regained some elasticity and would not hamper him in his wider arm movements.
Gaara put one finger on the scar, the sensation numbed by the accumulated tissue. Lee didn't really register the contact as anything other than analytical until Gaara's finger wandered and started tracing older wounds.
Lee swallowed and tried not to tense or hunch in on himself.
Gaara seemed absorbed by the faint speckles of dark hair peppering Lee's chest, crisscrossed into patches by faint scars. He traced the latter as if he was following a map. The gesture was both innocently curious yet still sensual, making Lee shiver.
"You've seen me bare-chested before," he mumbled. It was sort of an objection to the intensity of Gaara's scrutiny. "Twice. More than that, actually, I used to spar without my shirt sometimes." Before he'd had to compare his worn weapon of a body to Gaara's. After that, he'd kept his shirt on.
"Hmm. This time it's different." Most of Gaara's attention was on what his fingers were doing. "This time it's for me."
Lee stared at him, once more caught between charmed pleasure and that wobble of disbelief that he could be the object of such fascination and attention.
"But you seem to mind," Gaara said, finally looking up slowly. "Why? You don't seem to dislike looking at me, or touching me."
Definitely not! Er, what was the question? Lee blinked, and realized he'd raised his arms around himself again. Gaara's hand was flat on his scarred chest near the shoulder; he could probably feel the tension in Lee's frame.
Why did he mind? Lee knew he had a body that many Shinobi would envy from a purely physical standpoint. But that wasn't what mattered when it came to attraction. What he had to offer in that department was his strength, his faith, his spirit, his romantic desire to protect his most important person- he didn't think it was really looks, even though he tried his best to resemble his handsome teacher. He was a thing of battles; you'd have to break down the word 'romantic' and reconstruct it from the ground up to be able to apply it to Lee's scarred body instead of his heart.
More perniciously, there were other words haunting him... 'Rather a plain child, isn't he? Clumsy drop-out. Fish-eyes! Loser. Freaky eyebrows. Ugh, those eyelashes creep me out!'
"It's nothing," Lee said softly, as he listened to those voices from his childhood. "It's stupid."
And it was. Because if there was one thing Gaara was not, it was superficial.
Lee nodded apologetically at Gaara's intent, questioning expression.
"Don't worry about it, please. It's just, I've had people make fun of my looks, so I guess it's made me-"
"Who?" Gaara asked, eyes narrowing to dangerous slits.
Lee's internal alarm blared. That 'Who?' wasn't an offer to listen to Lee's old woes. That 'Who?' wanted a name, an address and an estimate of the target's defences. Replacing the faint memory of jeers was an eerily precise echo of Gaara's voice, six years ago, saying 'If the one you admire is insulted, you become enraged'.
"Oh, just some kids when I was growing up- can't even remember who now-" Lee said in a voice he tried to keep from being too high-pitched and jittery, even as he did a seated hop that put their bare chests in close proximity. That would hopefully distract Gaara from whatever it was he was thinking about- Lee didn't even want to know.
Gaara's attention focused back on what his fingers were doing; his thumb stroked an old puncture wound on Lee's left biceps, picked up during a minor battle in Snow Country. He muttered something about 'don't see what's to make fun of'.
Lee tilted his head. "What did you s-hah?!"
Gaara had shoved him without any warning onto his back, his eyes as intent as his fingers.
"The scar tissue you've accumulated is displeasing. You need to work on your defence. But your body...particularly your shoulders and arms...you have strength, power and endurance; you can actually challenge my combat abilities. When you move, it draws and holds the eye like a well-balanced weapon. I fail to see what's amusing about that."
It was nice to know that in a world where Lee didn't match the canons of beauty - or smashed them repeatedly, according to some - Gaara thought he looked okay. Granted, it was in the context of comparison to something lethal that killed admirably well, but that was probably Gaara's only point of reference anyway.
I guess I lucked out, then, Lee thought, fingers tentatively caressing Gaara's cheek, brushing the dark rim beneath one eye with his thumb as if hoping it might come off.
He gently pulled Gaara down for a kiss, but after their lips brushed Gaara leaned back and returned to exploring Lee's chest. It was terribly, wonderfully distracting. But Lee's fingers had their own mission: to find some flaw or imperfection in Gaara's skin. Despite a very thorough investigation, the pads of his fingers only touched smoothness. Sasuke had injured Gaara in the sternocostal area during the Chuunin trials; Lee repeatedly tested and caressed the area, but he couldn't find any trace of a scar. The way Gaara's muscles tensed, shivered and flowed beneath his fingers was terribly distracting though, he might very well have missed it. Better check again.
Gaara's lips brushed his. "Closer," he said, against Lee's mouth.
Lee's mind was somewhere else entirely by then, drunk on Gaara's weight against his chest, the feel of Gaara's fingers, the red of his hair...It wasn't Gaara's request he responded to; it was the brief flicker of Gaara's tongue when he'd said Closer, tantalizingly near.
He pushed Gaara away gently, following him and rolling over so he was the one leaning over Gaara. The bed, against which they were lying sideways, squawked under the shift of their weight like a prim, elderly aunt who had caught them doing something reprehensible. Neither of them really noticed.
Lee's mouth was open when he kissed Gaara again. A jumbled memory; their first kiss...wondering how far the Sand Armour went...Gaara wasn't wearing the Armour today. He wasn't even wearing a shirt. But that memory stuck in Lee's mind as his tongue explored the inner edges of Gaara's lips.
Gaara didn't move, either in alarm or participation. His lips were slightly parted. On the second swipe, Lee's tongue touched teeth.
Gaara opened his mouth by degrees. Lee let his tongue drift further.
The temperature in the room was doing funny things again. Especially when Gaara's tongue finally licked his.
Lee might have initiated the next move, but it was like sparring with a friend; a strike expected a parry, lead to it, and both of them knew how the other moved by now. So maybe Lee was the one to roll over and cover Gaara's body with his own, but Gaara's hands on his hips steadied him and gave him a moment to find his balance.
Lee's legs and hips flexed, moving against the man beneath him.
A shift in stance and his hard-on slid along Gaara's thigh. Pleasure, hot and sudden, made him blink and jerk his body again.
Gaara's left hand had seized up around his hip. Then it slid lower.
Lee moved again. It was quite without conscious input from his brain.
Even with his eyes closed, Lee could feel Gaara's gaze fastened on his face, watchful and curious. Fingers on Lee's hip pressed him forward.
Lee moved again under the silent order.
Gaara didn't make a sound, but his mouth was touching Lee's cheek, and the Jounin felt a sudden small catch in the flow of breath against his skin.
Lee's senses slowly spiralled out from the pleasure twisting his gut into hot and happy knots. He could feel Gaara's body beneath his, warm and close. Their bare chests touched. Lee was putting his weight on his forearms, but he could reach out with one hand bent at the wrist to touch the red hair and comb a finger through the rough locks. He could feel Gaara's fingers on his body, pressing him forward blindly.
And he could feel...Lee's hip was against the juncture of Gaara's legs, barely touching, but he could still feel a distinct hardness there.
...That certainly answered a few questions about Gaara's sexuality. He had one, for starters.
Okay, Lee thought with determination and some regret, I think we better stop here. This is already waaaaay past 'just a kiss'.
"Wait," he said, lifting his head, the word breathless.
The fingers on Lee's hip became borderline pressuring. Gaara's eyes narrowed as he focused on Lee.
Despite the aching throb between his legs and the rather embarrassing position - now that his brain was working again...despite this, Lee couldn't help a rueful grin. He'd seen that look before. It was one reserved exclusively for Lee. It boiled down to 'I can't believe you're not doing what I'm telling you to do'.
Lee shook his head to clear it; strands of his hair stuck to his forehead. The room's temperature had gone completely loopy ever since Lee had rolled over onto Gaara and started moving like that.
"We should stop-"
Then he was blinking up at tousled red hair and diamond-shaped eyes.
Lee said 'Hey!' long after the fact, in Shinobi time measurement. It was embarrassing because in a purely physical match, Lee was both faster and stronger, and Gaara shouldn't have been able to blindside him and roll him over like that, though of course Lee had been rather distracted.
They stared at each other. Lee had scrambled up onto his elbows; Gaara's hands were plunged into the mattress on either side of him. Their faces were a few inches apart.
Lee felt his scalp prickle. He knew what Gaara was going to say before he said it.
"I don't want to stop."
Lee swallowed. "But we can't-"
"I want this."
The bed creaked as Gaara's weight shifted. When he spoke, it was with the slow, steady tone with which he delineated battle plans.
"I've tried to think it through. But I don't understand what you're feeling. I don't understand what I'm feeling. It's intense and confusing and- Touching is a part of it, though, and I think I can understand that."
Lee opened his mouth- Gaara cut him off with a curt gesture.
"I know it's not all. You said that already and I figured out that much by myself." There were traces of anger and frustration in Gaara's voice; Lee's instincts told him to hold his tongue and listen. "If you just wanted sex, you'd go to the house near the west wall and pay for it."
Lee made a very undignified noise that would come back to haunt him later. "You know about that?"
Gaara had been about to continue; his eyes narrowed in irritation at the obviously bone-headed interruption. "The bordello? Of course I know about it. It's controlled by the village for security reasons. Same as Konoha's."
Lee winced. As a Jounin, he did know that, but he'd never connected that small fact with Gaara actually knowing about it...Emotionally, Gaara was a wasteland, but that didn't make him ignorant of the way things worked or of what might control and motivate people; as a Shinobi and a leader, he couldn't afford that.
"You don't go there-" Gaara started to say.
"Of course I don't!"
A pause, that informed Lee that that had been a statement, not a question.
"You don't go there. You are here, with me. You want to have sex with me."
Lee suddenly knew what he wanted. And why he'd felt so torn over this. What he really wanted was for Gaara to throw himself into his arms, declare his everlasting love for Lee, promise to be his always, and then they could most definitely have sex.
But that was never going to happen. Never exactly like that. If Lee couldn't see that, then he wasn't looking at the real Gaara; he wasn't accepting Gaara for everything he truly was.
And Lee couldn't say he didn't want to have sex at all. Because that would be almost entirely a lie. It would be denying that queer mix of love, lust and longing that made him reach out to Gaara in the first place. He still had a hard-on, for all this conversation was as pleasant as an ice-cold shower. Deeper than the physical need, Lee simply wanted Gaara to touch him gently and help him forget the cuts and the bruises...He understood Gaara's first violent reactions and he accepted them and he still loved him, but he wasn't about to claim that it had been particularly pleasant.
Lee took a deep breath. He'd promised Gaara he wouldn't lie to him.
"I do want to," Lee said, trying not to choke, "But I think it's too soon to go all the way. To have sex together," Lee forced himself to spell out, because he wasn't sure Gaara would understand what he was getting at otherwise, and he had to be clear.
Lee stared at him for a stunned second before realizing that yes, Gaara visibly agreed with him.
Relief made his arms wobble and he slumped back onto the bed.
"Good! Good, I'm glad you see that. So, when you said you didn't want to stop, you meant-"
Gaara sat back on his heels, his body warm against Lee's thighs, and the green eyes rested thoughtfully on the bulge in the Jounin's slacks which still hadn't gone down, damn Hormones...
And Lee suddenly had a really good idea of what Gaara had in mind. Probably something else he'd seen when he was six, spying on the villagers, or else he'd figured it out based on the vague explanations on male physiology and arousal that he'd received years ago.
Lee's flinch was strong enough to cause the bed to echo it with a sharp, shocked squeak. It stopped Gaara from actually saying it out loud, which was good, because Lee didn't need any mental scars to match his physical ones.
Lee opened his mouth to say no, no way, what the hell are you thinking- and by the way that bloody well does count as sex-
"Please?" Gaara whispered.
Lee stared at him, mouth still open.
"I want something I can understand, even if it's only a part of what's between us." Gaara's voice was barely audible. "I want something I can share with you. I want to prove to myself that I can do this, that I can touch you, and that there's some way I can reach out to you where you won't end up injured-...Please?"
There wasn't the faintest trace of embarrassment in Gaara's eyes- why would there be, he'd never picked up the social conditioning most others had acquired by the time they were eight. The little of propriety and manners he knew, he pretty much ignored; he barely remembered to say please and thank you most times. He only remembered them when it concerned something conditional, something he needed and that was completely outside of his control to obtain, something important...
It probably wasn't the act itself he was reaching for; the reason he wanted this was not something a 'normal' person would understand. It would be a product of his twisted past, that would make sense only if you'd shared it. From the way he was looking at Lee, a hint of vulnerability disappearing as his expression changed and grew hard and withdrawn, he did not expect Lee to understand, and he did not expect Lee to agree.
"Okay," Lee said.
Lee's brain froze from the sheer audacity of that single word. But he felt strangely calm about it. He loved Gaara; deeply. The more he discovered the inner landscape that Gaara had scornfully dismissed yesterday as abnormal, the more Lee loved him. Gaara said he wanted this, and if Lee was going to doubt Gaara's honesty, his ability to reach out for himself, or to know his own limits, then they were doomed before they even started. If this turned out to be a mistake - and Lee's sense of what was Right and what was Wrong and what was Proper was insisting it probably was - then they'd face that mistake together and sort it out later.
Gaara was staring at him.
"You understand?" There was a thread of hope in his voice, something Lee hadn't heard from his friend very often.
"A bit. I think," Lee answered honestly. He'd seen Gaara at his best and at his worst and at various stages in between, he knew his way around a part of the inner maze...he couldn't claim to fully understand why Gaara wanted this, but he could feel the outline of those reasons in his mind.
Gaara nodded, accepting that as one accepts a compromise. He shifted back a couple of inches and let his hand rest squarely on Lee's erection through the cloth of his pants.
"I've never masturbated. I know how it works, in theory, but you might have to show me what to do. I don't want to hurt you."
Lee stared at him, eyes even rounder than usual. There was a short silence. Lee realized that he was waiting for something. He was waiting for embarrassment to rise up, and possibly make his head implode.
The only thing he felt was his heart tripping in his chest, the barely-there pressure of Gaara's hand on the hard-on which was getting uppity again, and a faint sense of wonder at Gaara's usual ability to be completely and utterly direct.
Lee's incredulous eyes went from the hand resting against his groin to the faint frown that was starting to draw a line between Gaara's eyes.
"You've done this before. Right? You do know how it's done?"
"Huh...yes..." Lee answered, his voice sounding like it was coming over a great distance. Okay. Now. Surely now he was going to just curl up and die.
He felt only that strange calm still, like a quiet white space where his usual mess of confusing feelings were supposed to be. In that strange clarity, he noted the way Gaara was looking at him again with renewed trust and expectancy.
Still no curdling embarrassment, guilt, doubt, mortification-
"I think I sprained something," Lee mumbled.
Gaara's hand was withdrawn sharply. "What?"
"Nothing..." Lee's mouth twitched into a crooked smile. He had a feeling this blissful state of affairs was only temporary, but right now, all he could see was the crazy humour of the situation. And Gaara.
Gaara's approach to sex was about as subtle as his Desert Coffin, but what did Lee expect? More importantly, what did he want? Would he want Gaara to pick up all the baggage Lee had had to struggle with...?
Lee reached up, took Gaara's face gently in his hands and pulled him down.
The kiss that followed was the most erotic they'd shared yet. Lee, still in that state of grace, was actually a bit impressed with himself.
Once more, it didn't require any words, any consultation; just a touch, a shift in stance, and the understanding they'd cultivated at a physical level this past year.
Gaara settled back on Lee; he was moving slowly but without hesitation, he was imitating what Lee had done earlier, Lee's hands guiding him.
Just this, to start with. They'd done this a few minutes ago, it would be familiar to Gaara, and to Lee as well...Lee still felt oddly composed about all this, but this was new to him too. And he didn't want to screw this up. Just this to start with...bodies touching...then when the time felt right, he was going to have to show Gaara exactly what to do with that hand.
Gaara's mouth left Lee's and he shifted a bit, trying to get a balance that didn't involve letting his whole weight rest on the Jounin. The bed muttered and complained, and was steadfastly ignored by both young men.
Gaara's movements happened to press his thigh against Lee's erection a bit harder than Lee had anticipated initially - the surprise was unpleasant, but the feeling of almost-too-much-but-not-quite pressure was shockingly good, it made him jerk and writhe, and that felt even better so he did it again-
Gaara tried to straighten up and put a few inches between them. Lee bit his lip and forced himself to relax. He'd been gripping Gaara's shoulders.
Green eyes studied him attentively, and then Gaara moved the same way again, not quite as hard but completely deliberately. He was apparently a very fast learner; it probably came with the whole genius territory...Lee's hips jerked again. And again.
Lee's knee bent, giving him better purchase, rubbing their bodies together even more and getting the angle absolutely right, spot on- Gaara's thigh was rubbing against a seam that was pressing and pulling- just right...
He was going to be so embarrassed by all this...later...
Felt good. Even better than when he did this himself because now he had Gaara in his arms and Gaara's breath on his throat and Gaara's weight on his body-
Gaara was staring down at him. Lee screwed his eyes shut, because that was a bit too- too much. Gaara wasn't moving more than a slight flex, just enough to nudge Lee higher as Lee moved against him.
The bed muttered as Gaara shifted his weight onto one hand. Fingers brushed aside the hair that had fallen into Lee's eyes when he'd tossed his head back. They smoothed it back, cupped his cheek- Gaara's mouth touched his, but Lee was breathing too heavily to return the kiss. Just- just right-
Lee's hands were hard on Gaara's body, stopping him from moving altogether as Lee arched against him. He hoped he wasn't gripping too hard- he would never hurt Gaara, but he shouldn't alarm him, either, that would be bad, though right this instant, Lee couldn't remember why.
It wasn't just the last few minutes. It was almost half a year of hidden longing and desires that suddenly came violently and unexpectedly into focus.
Gaara's weight was solid and real in Lee's arms and against his body, his friend- this was Gaara-Gaara, his most important person-
Fingers caught in Lee's hair. Gaara's breath was short and irregular against Lee's mouth. His friend-Gaara- his friend- boyfriend- lover-
Lee tightened his grip, pressing Gaara's body against his, arching his back and hips as a crescendo of pleasure hit him.
He ended up with his face pressed against the cream-coloured skin of Gaara's shoulder, panting.
He released his hold - or maybe his body went limp. He fetched up against the thin, lumpy mattress, staring up at Gaara.
Ragged breaths peppered the space between them. Gaara was looking down at him, lips slightly parted, eyes wide and hungry as he watched Lee.
Lee opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again. He probably looked like a fish.
"Yes, I think you did," Gaara murmured, the corners of his mouth curling upwards.
The tip of his tongue flickered over his lips.
"You enjoyed it." The green eyes were still huge and fervent as they traced Lee's features. Gaara's fingers relinquished their hold in Lee's hair and brushed his cheek, as if he had to touch to allow himself to believe this was real. "You enjoyed it. I made you feel that."
Lee had a spot in the front of his pants which was going from body-warmth to tepid; his face was probably going to be red for a week, and he had the feeling that Doubt and Embarrassment were going to come back at a gallop soon. He was rather worried that things might get awkward or complicated between them now.
But with Gaara staring at him like that, Lee couldn't begin to regret it.
Gaara kissed him. It was suddenly hard, savage and a bit uncertain, as if he wasn't quite sure what was supposed to happen now.
Lee broke the kiss first, still out of breath. He knew what was supposed to happen now.
He put his hands on Gaara's hips and nudged him away. Gaara obeyed the silent command without hesitation, rolling onto his side. Lee looped his arms around Gaara's waist, pulling them closer together into a loose hug against the bed. Gaara's eyes were near his now, looking at him steadily.
"Gaara...would you...is it okay if I..."
Lee struggled desperately as those cool green eyes watched him without any signs of embarrassment. Or comprehension. The Jounin stifled a groan. Lee had always been a well-mannered young man with a very proper form of speech. And there was just no polite or formal way of asking someone if you could jerk them off.
Lee touched the smooth skin of Gaara's chest. He still couldn't quite believe that he was finally allowed to do that, and Gaara didn't mind, even enjoyed it- he didn't let himself get too distracted. His fingers brushed a nipple the colour of sandstone, then they drifted downwards.
They touched Gaara's beltline and a grip like a vice fastened on Lee's wrist.
Lee glanced up. The young man who'd opened up a bit, who'd expressed a rare desire, who'd wanted to share something with Lee and even said please, was gone. There was the familiar control back in its place, hard and uncompromising.
Lee didn't feel surprised in the slightest. Gaara had wanted to do this for Lee; he'd also wanted to touch something, maybe make this 'love' thing between them a bit more tangible. The need had pushed him past his usual reserve and caution. But he'd never intended it to be mutual.
The grip on his wrist was almost painful, but Lee didn't pay it any attention. He reached up slowly with his free hand, the movement a bit cramped in the short space between them. His fingers were tender and undemanding as they brushed Gaara's cheek.
"It's your choice. You don't have to if you don't want to. But...to tell you the truth, I'd like...to...I guess this is what you meant earlier when you agreed it was too soon to have sex together...that was probably true, but I still let you do- no, that's not what I mean. But you see, I guess that's why I want it, because it's together," Lee concluded, pretty much incoherently.
Gaara's face was a mask, unreadable even to Lee. If he knew how hard it had been for Lee to ask for this, he gave no indication.
If felt as pleasant as poison, but Lee knew he had to ask for what he wanted, because Gaara would not be able to figure it out otherwise. What Lee wanted was completely messed up, it was confused and it scared him a bit; but want it he did, and, in a way, Gaara had the right to know that. That 'getting close' and 'opening up' stuff cut both ways.
Then again, Lee had said he'd never ask Gaara for more than he could give- this was getting too complicated, it was making his head hurt. Lee bit his lip and looked away.
"Don't worry about it," he said softly, trying to smile reassuringly. "This is really new for you. I said I wouldn't push you too fast. Maybe think about it for...next time?"
He tried to draw his hand away.
The fingers wouldn't release him.
Lee glanced from the grip reddening the skin of his wrist to Gaara's face, sill unreadable.
Then Gaara nodded once and released his hold.
It had only been a nod, but somehow Lee knew exactly what Gaara had agreed to as if he'd spelled it out.
Lee's heart tripped a beat, then sounded off loudly in his ears.
He focused on Gaara's eyes.
"Are you sure?" he asked slowly
Gaara held his gaze.
"If I tell you to stop, you will stop." It wasn't a plea, it wasn't a threat, it was a statement of fact.
Lee nodded seriously. That went without saying.
He took a deep breath, as discreetly as he could. Then he crawled to Gaara's other side, so he could use his right hand. Gaara's eyes followed him. Lee touched his bandaged palm to his lover's cheek, a simple gesture of reassurance - possibly for both their benefits.
Lee removed his hand from Gaara's cheek and stroked the smooth chest, still marvelling at the fact that he was even allowed to do this much. He felt Gaara relax infinitesimally at the caress. Lee frowned. Gaara was still pretty tense...
His fingers moved slowly down to Gaara's pants. Gaara didn't say anything, his eyes never leaving Lee's face. Lee was completely unable to read him, which meant Gaara was tightly controlled.
Gaara didn't twitch when Lee's fingers brushed the hardness just below his low-slung beltline. In fact it was Lee who flinched slightly, nerves twanging. He turned to watch what his hand was doing; he wanted to make sure he was doing it right, and it was easier than facing that direct stare.
His fingers smoothed the skin on Gaara's abs; slipped beneath the cloth, touched the tip of Gaara's erection. His eyes were drawn to what his fingers were doing, and his blink reflex was fried again.
Gaara's breath hitched. Despite all his control, his hips twitched ever so slightly into Lee's movements, and Lee suddenly remembered just why he was doing this.
Gaara's erection was clearly outlined against his pants. They were pretty tight- Lee thought that looked rather uncomfortable, and realized his fingers were already feeling at the buttons on the heel of that half-formulated thought.
Lee fumbled, and then caught himself. You either do this or you don't, he told himself sternly. There is no place for half-measures in a Shinobi's life
He leaned back and removed his hand. There was an increase of tension from Gaara, but he didn't say anything or make a move.
Lee lifted his hand to his face and jerked at the knot of his bandages with his teeth- then he gave up and, with his other fingers, ripped right through the tough bands all the way down to his wrist with a strength he normally didn't use for anything mundane. Gaara watched him but didn't comment.
Lee's bare hand caressed the hard belly and then worked at the fastening of the pants. He kissed Gaara again before he turned his head to see what his fingers were doing.
Gaara was strangely on edge, even more than Lee expected him to be. Lee wanted to stop and ask him what was wrong, but he had the feeling Gaara would have already told him if he was ever going to. Maybe Gaara was just conscious, as a good Shinobi should be, that Lee could kill him or cripple him in three different ways in this position. Lee was having a hard time forgetting that himself. He hadn't felt this clumsy and inexperienced since his school days, even though his fingers moved with perfect control under his directions, with the practice and assurance of his trade.
Lee knew without looking that the gourd was behind him, leaning against the wall beneath the window only a few feet away. Lee was always very aware of the Sand's location and state these days; it was a good indicator of Gaara's more hazardous moods, and if there were any danger to Lee it would come from there first. A quick glance showed him that it was still corked and quiescent, but now was not the time to accidentally scratch Gaara on the- well, anywhere delicate, really.
Lee pushed back layers of cloth which kept trying to spring up again. He could just scoot down and tug Gaara's pants off, but that felt like they were going too far (though that begged the question of just where he was drawing the line, considering what had happened before and what his fingers were doing right now).
Gaara slowly moved; just an inch, pushing back with his arms and arching his back. The movement dragged his pants back under him a bit, and gave Lee room to manoeuvre. Lee decided to take it as a good sign. Gaara had seen Lee come before, he seemed to have a fairly good grasp of what was going on, and he was willing to participate.
Short curls the colour of beaten copper started just below the beltline. Gaara's erection was not quite full yet, the dry tip easing from the ring of skin; Lee's fingers felt up and down the shaft, more curious than immediately intent on stimulating. His eye measured against the size of his hand automatically; Gaara was a bit bigger than he was. But other than that, they weren't any different. Lee's fingers explored down a bit further, and everything was perfectly normal - and why had he even wondered- damn those old Suna gossips and their malicious, superstitious garbage, he'd tried not to pay them any attention, but their scurrilous rumours had apparently lingered at the back of his mind.
His thumb felt gently at the soft skin drawing back from the tip. Gaara's eyes, still fixed on Lee's face, widened a fraction.
Lee looked at his roughened, scarred fingers. He should probably wrap them around- he'd done this before, few times, on himself. True, it was beyond strange, doing this to another man- wanting to do this to another man, so very, very badly. If Lee had had any remaining doubts about his sexuality, he could put them to rest now. But at least he knew what to do, so why was he hesitating-
Gaara's tension, the gourd behind him, his own inexperience and the simple knowledge that he could crush stone with that hand were roiling around in his chest, making his breath fast and uneven. He could injure Gaara very, very badly with just a clumsy twitch of his hand - not that he would - but he could. Along with his strength, Lee had developed his control until it was exquisite, but he wasn't in the top of his form right now, what if-
Calm down. He just had to...wrap his fingers (gently!) around Gaara's erection...
Or he could-
No. No way could he do that. He didn't know how to do that.
But there was a picture in his mind now, intense and erotic. Something deep inside him responded at a visceral level, and he'd started to move before he could give himself the chance to think it through and shoot it down.
He kissed Gaara on the collarbone, then on the smooth, hairless pectorals, and the abdomen. His movements were slow, to not alarm his lover, and dreamlike, to not alarm his brain, which was trying to formulate some kind of objection to what he was half planning. Chances were, Gaara had also seen this done before, when he was spying on the villagers, so he wouldn't be completely caught off-guard...
He slid down to his knees off the side of the bed, kissed Gaara's hipbone and then, before he could give himself any time to think about it, he let his lips touch the side of Gaara's erection.
Gaara didn't move. But he was so tightly controlled, Lee wasn't surprised.
Relax. Please, let go. Let me do this for you, please...the words were running through Lee's mind, and a small part of him was wondering if he should stop. But stopping now would be admitting defeat, something Lee was notoriously bad at. Besides, Gaara would undoubtedly take that the wrong way.
His tongue trailed down the tightening skin of the shaft where his fingers had explored. There was a slight taste, musky, meaty, and a smell at once familiar and different than his own.
Gaara's breath caught in his throat, and there was the slightest ripple of muscle beneath Lee's fingers, a twitch upward.
Lee's heart felt like it had caught fire.
He could still hurt Gaara if he wasn't careful, but he would be careful. Very careful. It was even more unnerving now, since he didn't really know what he was doing, but he could use Gaara's body as a guide. His left hand had settled on Gaara's stomach, feeling the tension of the muscles there. His right hand was no longer a deadly weapon, it was a sensitive instrument resting on Gaara's hip, measuring the slight twitches of movement. He was listening to the subtle hitch and draw of Gaara's breath. It told him what worked and what didn't.
If Lee listened even more intently, he could hear something else. His heart beating hard; the quick flicker of blood through Gaara's skin near his ear...
...and words -you in me in you in me in you- running through his mind like a frantic pulse, an endless poem...
Lee let his tongue wander back up towards the head, trailing over the sensitive corona.
Gaara jerked. Lee instantly froze.
Gaara's hand was hovering near Lee's cheek. Lee could feel no movement from the Sand behind him, and there was no immediate sense of danger.
If he doesn't want this, I trust him to let me know without actual bodily harm, Lee decided, his mind strangely calm. He slowly let his mouth cover the tip.
Gaara's breathing went oddly ragged. This probably wasn't a bad sign. Lee's body felt strange; his skin was burning and his stomach was knotting with tension and excitement, and though he was breathing regularly through his nose with all the control of a Taijutsu specialist, he couldn't seem to get enough oxygen into his body; his blood was fizzing and he felt dizzy.
He let his tongue explore; emboldened, his fingers finally followed, very, very lightly and tenderly.
He had a musky taste in his mouth. He had the feeling this wasn't going to last long, in final.
He stopped moving again when Gaara's hand touched his head. Gaara's fingers were tense, but extremely gentle. They did not push him away. They touched his hair, his ear, drifted down to his cheek, his lips, felt at the juncture between them. Lee licked at the bumpy shape in his mouth; he was only taking in the tip and an inch or so, and he didn't really feel like doing anything else for now. This was already almost too much for him to assimilate.
The fingers against his cheek were shaking. Lee licked again and sucked slightly.
Gaara's breathing became completely uneven, short, sharp gasps. Lee could feel the skin and flesh tighten further beneath his fingers. He pulled down gently on the shaft, felt it start to throb.
Gaara didn't make a sound; he stopped breathing, his hand whipped away from Lee's face to fist against the covers, and his hips twitched.
Lee felt something - salty, coppery - on his tongue. The unpleasant aftertaste startled him and he instinctively let it dribble from his mouth, getting some on his hand and Gaara's pants accidentally.
He wiped his lips, feeling completely buzzed by what he'd let himself do. He had a feeling that long-delayed embarrassment was going to jump him any second now, and then he was probably going to die, but right now, he felt a flicker of satisfaction.
That flicker became a brief blaze when he lifted his head. Gaara's body had loosened up and lost all that sense of tight control. His eyes were still open, his lips parted as he tried to catch his breath. He was staring at the ceiling.
"I knew they were lying," he said, his voice rough and a bit uneven.
Lee didn't know what he'd expected Gaara to say at this point, but that wasn't it.
"What?" he croaked.
"My controllers. They were lying when they said that having an orgasm would damage my control. I knew it."
Except that, to Lee's ears, practiced at deciphering Gaara's neutral tones, he thought his lover sounded ever so slightly shaky and relieved...
"...Good," Lee said, which was probably lame to the extreme, but he was damned if he knew what else to say.
He straightened up, on his knees next to the bed, and grimaced.
"...Gaara...?" His voice sounded strange to his own ears "Can I use your bathroom, please?"
Gaara's eyes had fastened themselves blindly on the window. But his hand moved and gestured in the direction of a door to the right near the cupboard.
"Thanks." Lee stood up gingerly. He made his way to the door, walking with a tight gait that stopped the wet spot from smearing too badly.
The bathroom was as bare as the bedroom. Two towels; one folded, the other on the rack. A shower and what was probably the only personal bathtub in Suna; being Kazekage had its privileges. A toothbrush and paste in a cup next to the sink. A first-aid kit. A brush with a few red hairs caught in the bristles. Soap and shampoo and a black bottle on a small shelf. That was it. No decorations, no gels, no bath salts, no shaving equipment- did Gaara shave? His skin always looked perfectly smooth, but he was eighteen, he should-
Lee leaned heavily against the edge of the sink. He'd just had sex with Gaara (that counted as sex, right?!) and he didn't even know if Gaara shaved or not! For some reason, that incongruous detail seemed to epitomize the confusion that had suddenly overcome him, making his legs shake.
Lee rubbed his eyes savagely with the hand that wasn't messy, his mind coming to terms with what had just happened.
He was feeling embarrassed now. It was a rather pallid embarrassment, though, nowhere near the crushing wave he'd expected, but maybe it was just waiting for him to remember every moment in greater detail and cut him up into little squirming pieces at its leisure.
What he mainly felt was a mixture of confusion and almost panic. Exacerbated by the fact that despite all this, he still couldn't really believe that what they'd done was all that wrong- sudden, too sudden, but not wrong. 'I made you feel that'. No, Lee didn't regret it, which probably made him a- an amoral, degenerate-
Lee frowned at the sink, finally cornering the origin of his anxiety.
The problem was, Lee had had a Plan. If it had a name, you could call it the Springtime Flowering of Love.
Real Love did not abide the unknown. Love was Love, after all, an absolute, full of Youth and Certainty. Love might be sudden and immediate, but it only came to flower after a long period of getting to know each other, a meeting of heart and mind. No secrets, no arguments, no awkward fumbling, only Pure True Devotion that lit the way and made everything clear. Of course, part of that time would be spent persuading the object of his affections that Lee was worthy of such. There would be dates, candle-lit dinners, and the chance for Lee to prove his valour. And romantic gestures, gifts and long talks. Ardent confessions, complete understanding, respect and propriety and absolutely no touching-
- jerking off, his mind supplied helpfully.
Blowjob, it added.
- and all that only three days after he'd declared his love to- agh!
Of course, Lee realized intellectually that this Plan of his had been conceived long ago, inspired by Gai-sensei's romantic words, when sex had still been a frightening unknown. Before he'd even met Sakura-san. Sakura-san hadn't fit all that well into the Plan, even though Lee had tried his best. And Gaara? The Plan and Gaara were like oil and a fire jutsu.
Lee rinsed out his mouth, trying somewhat ineffectually to not think why he was doing this, not notice the strange aftertaste in his mouth, or look at his scalding red face in the mirror. Then he wiped out what he could from his pants. Deep inside, a twelve-year-old Lee was insisting that Love should be simpler, purer and not so...messy...
He washed his hands carefully, wiped them on the towel, straightened up and took a fleeting peek at himself in the mirror. He was still red in the face. He idly picked up the black bottle he'd noticed earlier and examined it. He knew he was stalling, but he just didn't know how to behave now.
Then he registered what he was seeing. Aftershave? He looked around again, in case he'd missed something, but there was no razor anywhere, and no drawers to hide it. The seal on the bottle was broken, but when Lee opened it curiously, none had been used. The scent was oddly familiar. Kankuro. This was aftershave the Sand Jounin wore sometimes, when he wasn't on duty.
Lee had a vision, like a brief movie rolling through his mind. Gaara making some incurious comment to Kankuro about the way he smelled. Kankuro dropping off a bottle of the stuff in Gaara's bathroom, in that 'oh well, I had an extra, and you might actually need it some day, squirt' style of his that had been part of the delicate and unspoken negotiations that had re-established Gaara and Kankuro as brothers over the years. Gaara opening it and drawing back, eyes narrowing at the scent which would smell strong and aggressive directly from the bottle. Putting it back on his shelf with a frown. But not throwing out the gift from his brother.
Lee stared blindly at the bottle. He didn't know everything there was to know about Gaara, even though they'd been friends for over a year now. Gaara was a very private person, and he kept himself tightly wrapped up and under control. Lee didn't know many of the little details, or some of the really big problems either.
But he knew some things that counted a lot.
As for the rest, maybe Love wasn't knowing, after all. Maybe Love was finding out. And getting over the shock when things didn't go according to plan. Or according to the Plan, but Lee knew he could scrap that one, it had never stood a chance. Good riddance, probably.
He put the bottle back on the shelf and glanced down. He sighed helplessly at the wet spot on the front of his pants. He should be okay if he wore his shirt out on his way back to his room.
It seemed strange to think of such trivial details after he'd just had sex.
He was going to go back to his place to change, sooner or later. Then he would go out and train, hopefully dragging Gaara along with him, and life would go on pretty much as normal.
Lee shook his head at himself in the mirror, smoothed down his mussed hair as an afterthought, and turned towards the door. He shouldn't be worried that this moment wasn't anything like he'd imagined it to be; he should be worried about his...lover. His occasionally unstable lover whose reactions to intimacy and closeness could be unpredictable. Yeah, that was more a cause for concern than the fact that the world was still merrily ticking over after one Rock Lee had just given his first blowjob.
Damn, he had at that, he'd just given his first- later! He had to check on Gaara.
Gaara had moved, to Lee's vague relief. He was lying full length on the bed, pants fastened again, apparently unconcerned that they were due for a trip to the laundry basket. His eyes were still on the window, though, and he didn't turn when Lee came in, or even twitch.
Lee joined him on the bed, moving slowly and settling down close, but not actually touching him. He wondered if Gaara had found the understanding he was looking for. If he even knew, yet.
"Gaara? Are you okay?"
"Yes. I didn't realize... It was intense." Gaara's words were slow but steady, his eyes thoughtful. He had one arm pillowing his head, the other draped loosely over his abs. "I knew it was safe. But I rather wish I'd known it was this relaxing before. It would have made my adolescent years a bit more bearable."
Lee laughed. He really couldn't help it. It came out marginally more amused than hysterical, so he didn't try to stop himself.
Gaara glanced at him, a slight scowl on his face. He flicked his hand up, punching Lee lightly on the shoulder: cut it out, Jounin, you're not allowed to laugh at the Kazekage's expense. Neither the scowl nor the gesture was serious. His mood had improved.
Lee caught the fingers and brought them to his mouth, though he was still chortling too hard to give them much more than a brief kiss. It was a soppy and romantic gesture that Gaara wouldn't understand in a million years, but Lee decided to do it anyway. Gaara had unintentionally reminded him that it was important for Lee to get something out of this relationship too, and if Lee wanted to be soppy and romantic after their first time, then Gaara was just going to have to put up with it.
Gaara predictably didn't get it, but he didn't seem to mind (probably because he didn't get it). He turned his face back towards the window. One finger uncurled from the Jounin's light grip and caressed Lee's cheek, the gesture idle and relaxed. Lee absently traced in his mind the months of small touches and gestures between them, like a long negotiation neither had been aware of, that had led to the untouchable, distant Gaara being able to do something like that and barely even notice.
Lee knew there would be some awkwardness and complications ahead, as they ploughed their way through this and other aspects of a relationship, but he suddenly had a vision of what the future might be like. Of a time it wouldn't be daunting or embarrassing any more. A time it would become known, familiar and comforting; when they could take a break from the world and crawl into each other's arms and defend each other in a way that had nothing to do with fighting...
Lee paused. He'd wanted to share that small epiphany, but he didn't think he could put it into words. It sounded borderline cracked, actually, a product of the endorphin rush.
The green eyes flickered towards him, waiting for his question.
"Do you shave?"
That got Lee the greatest reaction yet by far. Gaara blinked, stared at him, withdrew his fingers from Lee's hand to hoist himself up on his elbows and look down at the Jounin with a puzzled frown.
There were a million questions, some of which Gaara was not yet in a position to answer. Might as well start with this one; besides, Lee was curious.
"Do you shave? I didn't see any razor in there."
"...No. Something about the Sand Armour interferes with hair growth." Green eyes skipped down Lee's chest, following the trail of dark hair growing thicker near the beltline.
"Not everywhere though." Lee affectionately ran a finger through Gaara's tousled red hair - maybe that was what made it so rough? Then his gaze travelled south to the faint trace of copper visible at the edge of Gaara's pants.
Gaara followed the direction of his glance.
"The Armour covers me like a cup there."
"Oh, right, that would be more comfortable-"
"Lee, why the hell are you asking me this?" Gaara interrupted, as if he just couldn't stand the curiosity anymore, and it had finally defeated the Kazekage's fabled disinterest.
"Just wondering," Lee answered, with maybe the slightest of smug grins as he settled down against the lumpy mattress and put a proprietary hand on his lover's bare stomach. Gaara let him, still staring at him oddly.
End Part Sixteen
Erm, that was it. Not as crucial as chapter 12, but pretty damn important anyway. I hope that was a bit hot and tender, as well as bizarre ^_^;;
There will be a side story added to this in a few days, or by this weekend, to add a bit of humour and also to fill a logic hole that I noticed in a few other fics (including my own, I might say).