Title: Rhythm & Bruise: Gaara's Story
Series: Monoshizukanohi//Naruto AU
Pairing: Many, many pairings. Almost everyone in the Naru-verse is here in some capacity or another.
Word Count: Ongoing
Warnings/Notes: Dark fiction. Bloodplay, angst, violence, abuse, gangs, D/s, bondage, impact play, other.
Spoilers: None whatsoever.
Summary: The streets of Monoshizukanohi are not kind to youth, and Gaara is no exception. After running away from an abusive home, Gaara struggles to find meaning in life through violence, drugs, and anything he can manage to survive. Join him as Gaara and his ever-present friend Jody struggle from the streets to the top of the social strata. It's rags to riches, despair to hope, and everything in between.
Time, Gaara thought as he sat at the counter of Akasuna Auto, did very few good things. It went slowly in times of turmoil and flew in times of fun, (Gaara struggled to remember his last “fun” moment, but that was beside the point). Aging was rarely good. And eventually with enough time, everything died – also not usually a desirable sort of thing.
In theory, time healed wounds or made pain lessen. That, Gaara supposed, was true in some cases in his life. Broken bones mended, wounds faded into scars, tattoos stopped itching and smoothed out.
But the truly damaging wounds – death, betrayal, utter and irrevocable loss – didn’t lessen in time. No, those wounds merely submerged and hid away until they were called forth by some mundane, innocent thing that brought back the pain and suffering like a swift kick to the solar plexus.
That was the sort of truism that Gaara knew from many, many personal experiences.
So, time did not heal all things, this much Gaara understood from an early age, but more importantly right now – it didn’t lesson the razor’s edge of need, curiosity, or desire.
Take for example a couple who’d ended things long ago and went separate ways. Years and years later those same two people could be thrown into a room together and discover that time didn’t actually lesson a damned thing. One look, one touch, or one innocent word and the want for that other person was roaring back into the present despite the mythical powers of time or the willful repression of urges.
And Gaara thought a lot about that hypothetical couple and the urban legends associated with time as he struggled to get the fucking Inuzuka off his mind. It should be easy and it wasn’t. It shouldn’t bother him so much and it did.
Granted, it’d only been a day and a half since Gaara’d seen Kiba at Break; not really long enough to let time do anything but tick by in carefully measured increments.
But that didn’t stop Gaara from thinking that Father Time could suck it.
“Shipment comin’ in, boss,” Jody said as he walked into the reception area holding a clipboard. “Gonna unload back at the dock. I can go…” Jody looked up and trailed off, observing Gaara with a small frown.
Gaara grunted from his perch at the large, curving, dark red counter that was the first thing people saw upon entering the shop. There were two little clusters of chairs and tables that served as a waiting area for customers who needed estimates or quick repairs. Against the wall near the chairs was a table supporting a rather nice coffee maker, cups, and condiments.
Next to the waiting area were two shelving units that held various high-end products for cars – cleaning supplies, mostly. The wall behind the shelves was composed of waist-high windows that looked out over the service bays. The windows wrapped around to the front of the store and the main doors.
Gaara and Jody had offices and a private bathroom through a door to Jody’s right – catty-corner to the double doors that opened onto the service area. The shop had three bays, and it was outfitted to do everything from oil changes to full engine reconstruction and body work. Behind the bays were the customer bathrooms, a storage area for small parts, and a warehouse area where they kept larger stock. The dock was off the larger store room, and there were doors off that room and the main service area that led out onto a nicely fenced-and-covered lot. They kept the cars in queue for repairs and the cars that were finished there, safely protected by a digital security lock. And only Gaara and Jody had the code.
“What?” Gaara asked somewhat irritably as he continued to stare holes in the counter. His hands were folded and resting on the durable laminate, the knuckles a little whiter than the rest of his hands.
Jody crossed to the counter and leaned against it. “You gonna tell me what’s wrong or make me guess?”
Gaara looked up and met Jody’s sincere green-brown gaze. “Neither,” he replied. “Shipment. Good. Thanks.”
“I can put Guren on it,” Jody said, referring to their only female employee. She could certainly hold her own, however, among volatile Gaara, protective Jody, young Ranmaru, and fiery Sora. Sometimes she even rivaled Gaara for general hatred for humanity, but she was damned good with body work.
“Why would you do that?” Gaara asked.
“So you could talk to me. You been acting funny for a couple days now, boss.” Jody’s drawl was low and soothing, and Gaara sighed.
“Not…sleeping,” Gaara replied. It was both the truth and the easiest excuse he could give. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to rely on Jody – more that he didn’t really understand what was wrong, himself, so explaining the problem wasn’t an option.
Jody nodded, eyes still intent. “You wanna get out for a while? We got enough staff to support and run everything, boss. Well-oiled machine this is…Go on back to the house and catch a little shuteye.”
Gaara unlaced his fingers and bit at one knuckle, not noticing when Jody’s expression softened at the old gesture. Gaara chewed absently for a second or two, not understanding that he was broadcasting all sorts of things to his old friend.
“Fine,” Gaara said eventually and climbed off the chair. A shower and a little rest didn’t sound all that bad, really. Better than sitting at the counter and thinking about ways to murder an inanimate human construct. “Killing time” suddenly took on a new meaning for Gaara.
“I’ll take care of everything, boss. You just go getcha some rest.”
Gaara absently waved two fingers at Jody and went into the back of the building to grab his bag. His office was the larger of the two, but it was also the most sparsely decorated. Jody’d covered his walls in cars and motorcycle posters – most of them with the gratuitous half-naked woman posed in some provocative manner. Gaara couldn’t quite make the connection between a blonde chick making suck-face motions at a muffler with street cars, but then, he didn’t understand most things that involved women.
“See you for dinner, boss?” Jody asked when Gaara returned on his way out.
Gaara shrugged. Thoughts of a tattooed man with a wicked grin holding a massive clock in one hand were blocking out other mundane things like how he was going to feed himself.
“’k. See you later, then,” Jody said.
“Right,” Gaara replied and left. Beast was parked on the side of the building even though it was only about a mile to Gaara’s house. Like hell if he was walking in this cold weather when he could drive. Gas and the environment could burn for all Gaara cared.
Contemplating the irony of that mental image, Gaara climbed into Beast and made his way home. He rather liked his house in all its oddities. It was done in a modern, Mediterranean style with three bedrooms, a cultured courtyard garden, plunge pool, and lanai off the master suite that overlooked the courtyard. All the bedrooms were on the first floor – surrounding the courtyard. One had to walk up the stairs in the entryway to reach the living room, kitchen, and study. In the initial plans an intern at the Asashi Firm drew up for him, there were more doors into the house and no gate around the property.
Gaara subtracted ways into the house and added a twelve-foot privacy fence even though he lived in the middle of his own land with no neighbors for two miles. He also added an eight-car garage with security features that made the Pentagon whistle in appreciation.
Paranoia served Gaara well and it was something he took very seriously.
There was a two-car garage at an angle to the house, and that’s where Gaara kept Beast and an assortment of motorcycles under weather covers. The house and the gate were also encoded on an alarm system. Naturally.
Parking and getting out of Beast with a soft sigh and a light pat to the car’s hood, Gaara made his way from the garage to the covered path enclosed by the fence that led to the house. He maintained the plants and flowers in the garden himself in spring and summer, but now most of them were dormant. The pool, however, was heated, uncovered, and lit by blue-green lights at the bottom. There was a hot tub built into the plunge pool, and its overflow ran into the deep water. The pool was lined in black granite, which made for a very surreal and eerie effect at night with the lights.
Gaara loved it. And often went swimming in the nude at three in the morning just to feel the water on his body and watch his skin glow against the dark stone.
Inside the front door, Gaara toed off his shoes and disarmed the security system. He shrugged out of his jacket, locked the door back, and felt a familiar pressure against his leg.
“Hi, Cat,” Gaara said to his four-legged housemate. Jody still teased him about never naming the animal properly, to which Gaara always replied: “When he wants me to know his name, he’ll tell me or stop coming when I call, ‘Cat.’”
Cat was a foundling. Someone dumped him out at the shop, and Gaara took one look at the massive, black-and-gray critter and felt a sort of kinship. The cat turned out to be some sort of rare breed that grew rather large – Cat weighed in at 21 pounds. Most of that, Gaara attested, was fur.
But Cat took care of himself, requiring nothing more than food, water, a pan in the laundry room, and a squeaky toy filled with catnip.
Gaara rather liked the giant, self-sustaining, purring furball.
Cat chirped at him and blinked with large, yellow eyes.
“Hungry?” Gaara asked.
Cat blinked once.
Taking that as the, “Yes, obviously,” that it was, Gaara went upstairs to dump a tin of food into Cat’s bowl in the kitchen. With a contented swish of his long, black tail, Cat set about the business of eating and Gaara headed back downstairs to his bedroom. He stripped down in the closet and then went to the bathroom to sit on the tiled bench in the shower and drown himself in scalding hot water. Steam roiled and filled the large, quiet, room, and Gaara tried to focus on the heat on his skin rather than the confusion in his skull.
When his skin was red and bordering on raw, Gaara turned off the faucets and opened the glass door to get his towel.
The redhead froze and eyed the drawer in the counter where he kept his Colt.
Of course it was, Gaara thought with a long breath. No one else had the security codes to get into the house.
Without a word, Gaara wrapped a towel around his waist and grabbed another to run over his hair. The hell Jody was doing here was beyond him, but that was the sort of thing that was easy enough to sort out.
“Hey,” Jody said when Gaara walked out of the bathroom and into the bedroom. The large man leaned against a wall, thumbs hooked in the pockets of his work pants.
“What are you doing here?” Gaara’s question was slightly muffled as he dried his hair and face.
“Worried ‘bout you,” Jody said quietly.
Gaara made a frustrated little noise. “Stop it.”
“Nuh-uh,” Jody said with a little smile. “Haven’t stopped in eleven years, prob’ly not goin’ to now.” He pushed off the wall and stood in the middle of the room. “Everythin’ okay at the club?”
Gaara looked at his friend with a cool gaze. “Why do you ask?”
“’cause you ain’t been right since Sunday, and that was Break,” Jody observed.
Towel around his shoulders, Gaara shifted his weight and didn’t meet Jody’s gaze. “Nothing happened. Just a show.” The first show in years that got Gaara hot. The first show that got him hard since the pills. He thought about the glint in Kiba’s pale eyes as he spanked the immortal fuck out of the Uchiha, and beneath the towel, Gaara’s dick stirred. It shocked him and made him a little angry.
“Okay, boss,” Jody said quietly. If there was anyone on the earth that was a master at reading every tic and tell Gaara had – and they were few and minute, usually – it was Jody. He knew Gaara was on edge, working something out, and tired. And Gaara knew that Jody understood – which was both comforting and irritating.
“Musta been a helluva show,” Jody said, trying for levity and failing miserably in his ignorance.
With a dark scowl Gaara tore the towels off his shoulders and waist and walked toward his bed. Nudity never really bothered Gaara, and Jody’d seen him in all kinds of disarray over the years. Hard, soft, bleeding, tied up, covered in various this and that…none of what Gaara had would be new to Jody.
“It wasn’t,” Gaara snapped, yanking the red-and-black covers back and sliding under them. The shades were drawn on the bank of windows Gaara now faced, dark shadows falling over the little seating area and most of the bedroom. Most of the light came from the half-done blinds on the tall windows overlooking the lanai and garden.
“Sure,” Jody said, voice closer.
“Jody, just go.” Gaara shut his eyes, tired of too many things.
“Boss, I’m just-“
“Jody,” Gaara growled. “I’m fucking fine. I’m taking the goddamned meds. I’m working two jobs. I’m in classes. I’m tired. Leave me the hell alone.” Gaara was immediately guilty that he said such things, but he felt overwrought and anxious and he couldn’t work anything out with Jody standing in his bedroom.
“Hey, now,” Jody said gently. Gaara felt the bed move with Jody’s weight and suppressed the urge to groan. He kept his back to his friend and his eyes closed, hoping this would just resolve itself and Jody would leave reasonably happy and Gaara could just sleep for a while. Forget everything.
“I’m not one of the people sayin’ you should be takin’ anything, boss,” Jody said, deep voice rolling over the vowels and consonants with a slow, meandering, lilt that Gaara still liked, even when pissed. “I got your back – not your damned doctors’. Or your sister’s. I just want you to be as close to happy as you can get, Gaara.”
Shoulders relaxing a little at the sound of his name coming from Jody’s lips, Gaara sighed. Leave it to Jody to instinctively know the things truly bothering Gaara and the things he said in mere anger. Might as well explain: Jody was stubborn as an ox when he wanted to be.
“Some guy at Break decided to put on a little show and make it personal,” Gaara said quietly. “Sort of included me and didn’t ask permission to do it. Pissed me off.” There. That was…all truth if not the whole truth.
“Ain’t that kinda rude in that world?” Jody asked. “I mean, I still can’t quite grab heads or tails of that dom/sub stuff, but…”
“Yeah,” Gaara said. “It was rude.”
Jody didn’t say anything for a minute, and Gaara’s mind replayed the anger he felt after the show. It reviewed the parking lot scene – how Kiba didn’t back off or away from Gaara despite threats.Bet yer beautiful when ya laugh.
Gaara felt blood rush low and he fisted his pillow, angry at himself for whatever reason. He shifted on the bed and felt Jody shift, too.
“…did you like it?” Jody asked, breaking the silence.
“The show, boss.”
“…I don’t know.” Gaara was definitely confused on that point. His body liked it, his brain didn’t.
Jody made a humming sound and shifted again on the bed. “How long’s it been, boss?”
Gaara’s eyes opened. “Since what?”
“Since you got some, boss.”
“Oh fuck off,” Gaara grumbled loudly and resisted the urge to throw a pillow at Jody.
“Boss?” Jody’s voice had that determined, stubborn edge that told Gaara he wasn’t about to back down from this one.
“None of your business.” Gaara knew that tactic wouldn’t work, but for fuck’s sake…
“You said it yourself,” Jody pressed on as if he didn’t hear Gaara. “You work, you take those online classes, you spin at the clubs…and you never go out. I know you don’t bring nobody back here.”
“How the hell do you know that?” Gaara asked.
“’cause I pay attention to you, boss. It’s my job. And then you walk ‘round all upset and tell me it’s ‘bout some show at Break. I don’t know much about that lifestyle, boss, but I know what you mean by ‘show.’ And I know you prob’ly liked it.”
Gaara’s heart beat a little faster as he wondered just where in the hell this was going. “Your point?”
“My point…” Jody paused, sighed, and Gaara felt the bed move again. He heard dull sounds on the floor – shoes.
“You remember when we were kids and you’d come back all upset from some god-awful somethin’ the Saints made you do…And we’d curl up on that couch in Leon’s basement?”
Gaara half turned to face Jody and watched as his friend climbed under the covers in his blue work slacks and ancient “Staff” t-shirt. Jody smiled a little at Gaara and then frowned, thinking. He grabbed the back of his shirt and pulled it over his head before tossing it to the side. Gaara blinked at the familiar expanse of broad chest.
“You’d let me hold you,” Jody said calmly, shifting to lay down next to Gaara, face open, honest, and kind. It was a face of miracles as far as Gaara was concerned – so much kindness in someone who’d gone through as much if not more shit than Gaara.
“Yes,” Gaara said softly, remembering and thinking he should say something like, ‘You don’t have to do this’ or ‘Get away from me before it’s too late.’
Instead, Gaara said nothing and Jody moved closer. “I could always tell when you were really upset,” Jody said quietly, eyes down. “You’d be all tense like some coiled engine spring. Sometimes you’d try to push me away, and sometimes you’d tell me what you did…but eventually you’d go to sleep with me at your back. Remember?” Jody looked at Gaara and the redhead nodded once. Of course he remembered – it was one of the things that kept Gaara from blowing his brains out in those days. Was probably still one of the things that kept him from doing