Rhythm & Bruise: Gaara's StorySeries:
Main pairing: Kiba/Gaara. Other pairings from the Monoshizukanohi series make appearances.Word Count:
THIS CHAPTER: Language, angst, oral. Overall: Dark fiction. Bloodplay, angst, violence, abuse, gangs, D/s, bondage, impact play, other.Spoilers:
World and original characters belong to me.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.
Souls at night.
A man shuffles down a two-lane highway with a bag over his shoulder and his last smoke between his dirty fingers. It's too cold in these small hours of the frigid morning for his thin coat and thinner shirt, and he walks with the shoulder-creep of the intoxicant dependent and the forever chilled. He thinks there's a place to rest out this way, though; a shop on the fringes of this sinful city’s limits. Thinks there's maybe an overhang to sit under so he can weather the coming sleet. He hopes for a trash can with the leftovers of careless people who can afford to buy food someone else cooks, and he longs for a scrap of cardboard to serve as a bed. Just for the rest of this quiet night, just until dawn. The shop's business is cars, its clients have cash, and the man knows his kind isn't welcome by the light of daytime and deal making. It's how the world of the moneyed half works, and he doesn't want to piss it off and go back to Monoshizukanohi lock down. There's a guy there who guards the drunk tank, and that guy has a smile that's a key to hell's door, and that guy has a fist that's a ticket to Satan's bedroom.
Sirens crack the night like an egg's shell to the side of the man's head, and for a second he is stupid with fear. He jerks to look just in time to stumble out of the way and into a ditch, watching mutely as the firemen, the policemen, and the lifesavers fly by in a dizzying line of wheels, ruckus, and blinding blue and red. He drops his cigarette and curses Fate's mother, and the wind whips through the trees. It slithers under his clothing, it wraps around his guts, and the sound of the ambulance's infantile cry morphs into a woman's laugh. It whirls around the man, cackling and crazy, and he is stock still with one shoe on a white line and the other in a pile of decayed leaves. He thinks of Grandmame's talk of devils and decadence and death, and he shudders when the tail lights of the caterwauling caravan fade in the mist of freezing falling rain.
Drops splatter the pavement, dampen the man's clothes, wet the dormant earth, and fill the cracks of the twisting driveway leading from Akasuna Auto to the ambulance's destination. It’s a modestly large house with a wall, a detached garage, and it is crawling with shadowy movement. Lights hit the low cloud ceiling overhead, put on a kaleidoscope show, and Andy has to slam on the brakes to keep from hitting a black sedan parked between two patrol cars.
"What's wrong with this picture?" Andy -- young, new, hopeful -- asks his partner, Theo -- roughly a hundred, veteran, exhausted.
"We're late to the party," Theo answers.
"Coroner, cops… and is that the Chief of Police?" Andy only knows because the little boy in him still lives for cops and robbers, and he loves the good guys. He never misses the front page of the newspaper or any pages from the gossip column. He thinks he knows the movers and shakers of this land, and he puts the truck into park, opens the door, and gets a facefull of icy reality.
"Don't know, don't care," Theo calls, voice nearly lost beneath the crackle of short wave radios, the shouts of men, the whooping cough of sirens. Andy's confused, and he wonders about the dispatcher who sent them to this address. It wasn't Janet. But maybe she's out sick and maybe it doesn't matter because Andy has a job to do. He opens the back of the ambulance and the four cups of coffee he's had to stay awake almost run down his leg when a blond man covered in gore comes out of nowhere and grabs his elbow.
"Multiple gunshot wounds," the blond spectre explains. "Weak pulse, lung's collapsed, lots of bleeding."
"Lead on," Theo says when Andy can do nothing but stare at the blond's eyes. They gleam clear then dark then calculating, and Andy feels like calling this person's time even though the blond is the ambulatory dead.
The blond nods, spins, Andy grabs his half of the equipment, and they cut a swath through a river of tape, tasks, and teeming men. They pass a plunge pool with mounds of flesh that used to be people nearby, and Andy stops himself from asking what the hell happened. It doesn't matter. Somewhere there's someone to save.
"Watch it," cautions a woman in uniform when the trio enters the house. She points to a body on the stairs, and there’s enough pieces in the foyer that Andy thinks they might add up to two separate wholes. Over and up, blood shining on his black shoes, and Andy half-runs, reaching the top floor with adrenaline thrumming.
There are dead people everywhere, and they look like gray mist to Andy's second sight. No souls. No life. No saving. But he sees three men kneeling and gleaming. There's a big guy shrouded in green like spring fields, and the Greenman's got fingers plugging wounds and lips forming the Lord's Prayer. There's a white-haired guy wrapped in orangey-blue, and Blueman’s got a tube in a vein feeding life to the fallen. There's a naked guy with a broken nose who is red and ripped and torn asunder, and Brokenman’s got a fist around an air bag covering the victim's mouth and nose. Broken's shaking but methodically pumping and breathing for the fourth man in the middle.
The victim's pale and still, and Andy starts to tell them to quit, but from the corner of his eye, he sees movement
. The kind of movement that Theo won't see, that most
don't see, but that Andy's Mom could and did and still does. The air shimmers over Brokenman’s bare shoulders, hovering, and Andy's heart soars. It's not over, yet. And the hope is louder than Broken's quiet sobs.
"Oh good," says the white-haired guy with a wan smile. "I'm just about tapped."
Andy and Theo analyze, strategize, and get to work. When they relieve Greenman from duty, he sighs and wipes tears off his cheeks.
"Our Father… who art in heaven…" Greenman starts the chant again, low, drawling laced with weighty power, and he removes his outer shirt. He crawls over to Broken, wraps the weeping man with cotton and into a bear hug just as Andy takes the bag. Broken starts to wail in hiccoughing gulps, out of mind with shock and grief so thick it pours yellow mist into the room, and Greenman starts to rock Broken. Gathers the distraught man into a wide lap and against a broad chest.
"Thine will be done…" Greenman says, gently grasping the arm and then the hand that Broken still holds out toward the victim. "On earth as it is in heaven."
"G-Ga-Gaara," Broken stammers, fracturing further, and Greenman forces Broken's face to turn into Greenman's neck and away from the horror show.
"Shh," Greenman soothes, and Andy likes this guy with his low drawl, peaceful nature, and haunted eyes.
"Please give us this day our daily bread," Greenman continues, and Theo crosses himself, absently, before starting to figure out the white-haired man's hook up to the victim. Andy brushes red hair away from a pasty forehead, sees the tattoo inscribed upon skin and recognizes the symbol for "Love
"And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."
The blond spectre with a winter's soul wanders away from life's labors and over to a pair of double doors, the glass broken. He steps over a corpse like he does it every day and steps onto a balcony. The rain's making puddles on the hardwood inside the threshold, staining the boards darker and beading, and ice is chipping in little pings against the wrought-iron furniture sitting outside on terra-cotta tile.
"And lead us not into temptation… but deliver us from evil…"
The blond lifts a radio to his mouth, and his voice is cold and calm and impossible to read. "Captain this is Fawkes. Red is on the move."
"For thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever."
Over the railing, around the house, past the officer marveling at the destruction of a human's skull, and to the perimeter wall where a mountain of a bald man stands with a walkie-talkie in one hand and a cell phone in the other. He's drenched, his long leather coat is soaked, but he doesn’t care. He’s had worse. The pants covering his lower half and dusting the tops of his combat boots are patterned with little robots but nobody would dare comment on the anomaly to this towering inferno of a man. He barks orders to a team, presses the radio’s switch, and the rage in his eyes could evaporate glaciers. "Message confirmed, Fawkes. You and Glow get everyone down here. The Prince is waiting. "
"Of course, Captain," says the radio, and it's smug.
," says the mountain, and it's dangerous.
"Noted." A pause. "Chief."
The mountain allows himself a second to hate insolence and then begins to move, long strides taking him through the driving downpour and toward the black sedan that Andy nearly hit. He changes the frequency channel on his radio to a more public one, speaks into it again. What he hears makes him nod, and he climbs into the car. "We've got Red," he says into the phone. "Working the clean up, and no press, yet. Leaving my second in command on scene. I'll see you at General."
The chief bows his head, bracing for a blow that he will feel even at a distance. A crow takes flight from the top of the nearby garage, and spreads wings toward the auto shop. The homeless man with the bag and muddy shoes rests against the gate, settling down for his last night on earth. He will freeze to death by dawn. One more gathered soul on a night of reaping. One more mess to tidy for the crew of people working to dam the tide of chaos.
The crow settles in the branches of a slumbering tree, but the line of its path arches over field, wood, and neighborhood, and in his house, Neji stands at the kitchen island, drinking a cup of tea. His hand shakes as he brings the china to his lips, his hair is in a messy braid, and the tails of his buttoned shirt hang loose over a pair of jeans. "I expect details, Ibiki," he says, the headset in his ear picking up every note of annoyance in his cultured, sleepy voice. He hits a button and cuts off the chief of police's explanation. He doesn't wish to hear it twice.
"Okay," Shikamaru announces himself as he walks into the room, phone in hand and fingers sliding over the touch screen. "I called the kids who work in Gaara's shop, left messages. I spoke to Melody, and she will manage your appointments and make excuses for the next two days, minimum. Tenzou's going to call an emergency staff meeting at the clubs and put up notices on Twitter and Facebook that Bliss and Break will be closed until at least next weekend. He's going to figure out the Fetish Ball nonsense, too. I didn't get Naruto, but I did get Sasuke, and he's going to get Naruto up and meet us at…" Shikamaru trails off and looks at Neji.
"Monoshizukanohi General Hospital," Neji supplies, and Shikamaru taps a text message.
Neji brushes by his typing lover, finishing the tea and setting the cup on a random end table near a sweeping staircase. The blue teacup cracks with the impact, and Neji startles, shocked for an instant before dismissing the event. He fetches his wool coat from the closet, and removes Shikamaru's Northface while he's at it.
"Is he…" Shikamaru starts, taking the coat from Neji and getting the gloves out of the pockets.
"I don't know." Neji wraps a scarf too tightly around his throat. "Kakashi's there, too, with Kisuke and Jody. Almost a dozen dead on arrival, and nobody knows if… And I don't know
how the hell this got so botched or what happened, yet, but I will
know, they will
tell me, and I will
"Hush," Shikamaru says, buttoning Neji's coat and straightening the collar.
"But it's all my--" Neji begins.
Neji stares at the other man for a long time and then suddenly grabs the back of Shikamaru's neck, yanks him into a kiss that begins with force that transforms into desperate passion. Neji’s hands thrust under Shikamaru's jacket, grapple shirt and belt and the waist of his jeans, and Neji shoves Shikamaru into a wall with violence that Shikamaru doesn't fight.
"Sir," Shikamaru says, fingers reverently touching Neji's cheek. "We should -- oooh
"I know," Neji answers, squeezing and stroking Shikamaru through denim and hurriedly undoing the Nara's fly. "But I need this now."
Shikamaru's daze gets hazy when Neji's lips kiss Shikamaru's with a tenderness undermined by Neji ripping his sweater up to reveal Shikamaru's chest, other hand on Shikamaru's firming cock.
"And you will allow me this," Neji whispers, diving to bite Shikamaru's nipple.
!" Shikamaru answers, face crumpling and arms sliding for purchase along the wall, hands forming fists.
"Hair," Neji commands, sinking to one knee. Shikamaru shoves fingers into the braid, wraps to twist until Neji grunts, and Shikamaru calls out when Neji swallows him to the root. He breathes in vocal, erratic, startled gasps that get louder as Neji works with knowing, confident efficiency. Bob, lick, suck, and Neji tugs Shikamaru's jeans lower to get a palm around his balls, a tug and caress joining the circus of torment.
"God," Shikamaru rasps, head tipping forward and glazed eyes watching with parted lips and flushed cheeks. "Oh God… Sir… I…"
Neji moans, the sounds of wet flesh sliding and suckling filling the room, and dribbles of saliva fall to the tile next to Neji's knee. Gray eyes snap open, flick up to lock on Shikamaru's, and the Nara shudders, lower lip caught beneath upper teeth. A mere moment later and Neji's muffled and muddled shout of delight is cut off in the middle when Shikamaru tenses taut and clutches Neji's hair as he comes.
"Oh…" Shikamaru chokes. "Oh fuck
… oh shit
Neji slows, swallowing until Shikamaru shakily laughs an urgent "Ha
!", growing too sensitive for these games. Neji fastens Shikamaru's clothing and stands, kissing the Nara with light, quick presses of lips until arms wrap around his waist.
"Thank you," Neji murmurs, adjusting himself and not asking for return favors.
"Happy to… help, Sir," Shikamaru replies, nuzzling at Neji's throat until the Hyuuga hums and steps away.
"Now we can go," Neji says, and Shikamaru gathers enough of his wits to set the alarm, follow Neji out the door, and lock it behind them. The two men head toward the garage, and Neji keys in a code on the pad next to the bay housing the Ferrari.
"Two more calls to make." Neji still remembers to get Shikamaru's door, and the Nara says nothing about the old habit.
"Oh?" Shikamaru asks as Neji settles behind the wheel and retrieves a blue light from under the seat.
"Yes," Neji says, plugging in and turning on the light that will clear them past police as they break new speed records to get to the hospital. "Ulquiorra's an investigator, a bookie, an agent, and a reporter. I want him covering this mess and managing the goddamned press. Kakashi's going to be busy enough." Neji pulls out his phone from his pocket, scanning and hitting "Send" and then touching the headset in his ear.
"And the other call?" Shikamaru asks.
Neji shifts, flying through the gear machinations, and in a high rise condo downtown, a phone begins to vibrate on a nightstand. A hand emerges from a pile of floral-patterned covers, and Sakura's answering the call on autopilot before she's even a quarter conscious.
"Haruno." Sakura finds the lightswitch on the lamp, and a cheerful yellow glow illuminates her bedroom. "Neji?" she asks, swinging her legs over the edge of the mattress. She listens, eyes tracking nothing until she gets up and heads for her closet. "I'm on my way," she says, clicking off the phone and grabbing a set of clean scrubs. She dresses, and some tiny part of her wants to cry, but she silences it easily with the benefit of experience. She gets her shoes, already doing the mental exercises that prepare her for a long night in the OR. By the time she's riding the elevator to the lobby and racing for a cab, Sakura is awake, prepared for the worst, and grateful for the achingly cold rain that further clears her mind. She slams herself into the taxi--
"Monoshizukanohi General, please."
-- and the taxi driver mutters at her in a heavy accent. Above the city, heavy clouds roll through the atmosphere, and below on the streets, people and purpose converge upon the hospital.
Ibiki's badge gets him a spot near the staff entrance into the Emergency Room, and he sits behind the wheel waiting for the paramedics to arrive. He's tired, but he's not worried about how this will end. He will do his duty, he will report to the Prime Minister's son, and maybe when things calm down, he'll give Genma a call. He likes the boy, and Raidou, too. Possibly too much for anybody's good.
Kakashi and Kisuke beat the ambulance, their dark van sliding into the parking lot in front of the ER's main entrance. Without a word, they climb out of the vehicle in sync, and Kisuke shrugs under Kakashi's arm.
“Iruka’s going to fucking kill me,” Kakashi mutters.
“Yes,” Kisuke agrees, but kindly.
Kakashi is drained, and thinking of nothing but the redhead’s fate and his lover’s arms. Kisuke is silent and thinks of a funeral where the snow fell thick on the ground. When they limp into the lobby, some combination of appearance, grime, and presence gets them attention fast.
Or maybe it's Kisuke's thundering, authoritative bellow for service. Whatever it is, it works, and Kakashi chuckles as they're ushered into triage.
Andy pulls bus number 309 behind the hospital and swings it around for rear access. He gets out of the cab while Theo opens the back. Andy pauses as a silver sports car careens into the service area behind him like it’s a pit stop in the Indy 500, and right behind the Ferrari are two patrol cars and a hospital security Jeep. It is certainly a night of oddity, and Andy trots to help Theo lift Gaara's gurney off the tracks and onto the rolling cart two nurses hold waiting.
"Sir! You can't be back here!" someone shouts, and Andy lets Theo fill the staff in on the redhead's injuries. He helps Jody the Greenman and Kiba the Broken out of the ambulance, and Neji freakin' Hyuuga is stalking towards them. Without so much as an ounce of concern for the men with guns giving chase, Neji steps over to Kiba and puts an arm around the man's waist. Together, Neji and Jody hold Kiba up and follow Gaara and the team into the hospital.
Andy shuts the doors, and a moment later a black Escalade rounds the corner, tires screeching to a halt near the Hyuuga's car, and the man Andy recognizes as Neji's boyfriend, Shikamaru, who is still speaking calmly to security, smacks his forehead.
"Where is he?" a well-built blond man shouts. He launches himself out of the driver's side, not even bothering to shut the SUV's door. Andy gapes at Naruto Uzumaki, the CEO of the chain of superstores that Andy’s mother hates. Naruto is wearing a short-sleeve ratty shirt and black dress slacks, and he has to be numb with cold. It’s raining harder, now, and water drips off the end of Andy’s nose.
The driver door slams a second later when Naruto reaches Shikamaru and a brunet slides out of the Escalade's passenger door. The slim man could be none other than Sasuke Uchiha, and Andy starts to wonder just who in the hell Gaara Sabuku is
to have such friends.
"They took him that way," directs Shikamaru, beleaguered, and the two men nearly run over Andy in their haste. Andy doesn't say a word, but his stomach drops when he sees a white van with the call letters of a local news station pull to a stop just beyond the fence encircling the back lot.
"Mr. Nara!" Andy yells without thinking, but Shikamaru's already running towards him. Security and the cops get distracted by the news van, and Shikamaru pauses long enough to squeeze Andy's shoulder before disappearing into the building.
Andy follows suit a second later, knowing paperwork awaits him, but he stops just inside and beneath a speaker playing something classical. He doesn't know what the piece is, but he likes its sad and tender melodies.
It's the perfect soundtrack for the staff surrounding Gaara, working to save the obviously well-loved man's life. Perfect for the sight of Kiba, clothed in cotton pants and Jody's shirt, standing in the middle of the hallway. Dry sobs wrack his frame, but Naruto just hugs him tighter, openly kissing him even though Kiba doesn't seem to notice, and from somewhere, towering Jody produces a blanket and drapes it and heavy arms around both men.
Nearby, Neji and Shikamaru shuck their coats and Shikamaru pulls Neji into a side-held embrace, and when the chief of police walks by Andy, he stalks directly to Neji, who nods but says nothing.
Sasuke stands by himself until Shikamaru grabs him closer, and there are tears in the brunet's eyes as he glances at Andy over the Nara’s shoulder. The music reaches crescendo, the people sing-chanting in the midst of the mix seeming to wail with the unspoken grief hanging in the air, and Andy knows it’s time to leave.
The hopeful paramedic weaves around the men, turns and goes, and the music is drowned by the medical code floating up from around Gaara's bedside. In a white coat over pink scrubs, Sakura bursts through the doors leading into the hospital and marches over to a nurse holding a chart. She sees the line up in the hallway on the other side of the curtain around Gaara's bed, and she grabs an intern.
“Get them to the private waiting room closest to the OR,” Sakura says to the blonde girl.
“Right away, doctor.”
Sakura sends the girl over to deliver the orders, mouth in a thin line of concentration. The hospital is buzzing with rumors, the media are voracious vultures, and Sakura knows Neji and the rest will soundly not give a shit until she can give definitive word on their friend.
"Let's get him to imaging!" Sakura barks, and she hits the round disk button on the wall. Slowly the fire doors open, the gurney scurries past with the sound of sneakers on wet laminate, and Sakura winces at the sight of Gaara and at the information in front of her. It isn't good.
But she's seen worse who lived, and determination hardens her heart.
Stepping to catch up with the patient's team, Sakura turns at the last second. The doors are closing on their silent mechanism, but Sakura wants to wave at Neji or Naruto or somebody, give them a little hope before she may have to return later to crush it. The men all huddle in the center of the empty receiving room, nodding at the intern who's gesturing for them to follow. No one looks in Sakura's direction, and she sighs, sympathetic despite her detached calm.
Sakura starts to go and stops when she feels a cool wind breeze by her. It ruffles her hair, makes goosebumps rise on her arms, and for a bare instant, she--“Understands. Finally understand…”
-- knows that Gaara's going to fight. She realizes with intensely stunning clarity that death and fate are twinned disembodied invisible bitches standing just on the other side of the fire doors, and they are hot on Gaara's heels. She is a barricade, a last warrior defense, and she spreads her feet wider; squares her shoulders.
"No," Sakura says before she can help it, before she can be rational or logical. Sakura glares at the narrowing space between the two doors, willing it to shut faster and shivering in the cold.
"There will be no more for you from him," Sakura intones, and she snaps shut the file with finality. "Not on my watch."
There's a sound like a distant scream that Sakura is sure she imagines, and the doors click closed. Sakura makes her way down the hallway, one half of her oddly chilly and the other strangely warm.
Gaara's family settle in a room of uncomfortable couches and chairs to wait, hopeful and weary and anxious souls there in support of one small and courageous and wounded man. Everyone encircles Jody and Kiba, they hold hands, and Jody finishes another litany with his own plea:
"…and God to us please give the Strength and the Courage and the Wisdom. Give us an ounce of what you gave to Gaara when you made him, God, and it'll be more than enough to get us through this day."
Kiba bends over, curling in on himself, and Neji's there with a soft sound and freely-given comfort.
"Be with my boss, our friend, Kiba's boyfriend, and hold him when we cannot."
"Lord hear our plea," says Kakashi from the doorway, and Shikamaru and Sasuke give the bartender a stunned look.
Kisuke steps into the room after Kakashi, head bowed and hands clasped, and Sasuke inches closer to Naruto, kissing his husband's hair.
"Love him while we can't reach him. Let him know we're here and let him feel us." Jody takes a watery breath, wipes his face with the back of his hand, and he draws Kiba closer, rocking again.
"And please, God, if it suits you, let him come back to us so we can tell him we love him in person. It'd be awful, awful nice."
"Please," Kiba whispers into Jody's shirt.
"Please," says Neji, and Shikamaru clutches his hand.
"Yeah," Naruto says, sniffing. "Please, God. Be a nice guy for once."
Jody's chuckle is affectionate. "And so we pray for Your Grace and in Your Name, Amen."
In the waiting room, the men hold their collective, figurative breath.
In the sink in a prep room, Sakura scrubs her hands.
In the operating room, Gaara lays on a table with his arms outstretched to either side.
Outside the rain starts to slack, leaving the city underneath glistening in a shimmer of frost. The dying’s last gasps release souls to their next destination, the living struggle to find meaning and to make order, and finally Fate unhooks her claws and takes her leave as the night begins to lighten toward the dawn.~*~