Rhythm & Bruise: Gaara's StorySeries:
Main pairing: Kiba/Gaara. Other pairings from the Monoshizukanohi series make appearances.Word Count:
THIS CHAPTER: Language, esoteric happenings, unabashed fluff. 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.
At first, it was all flashes of white pain, and he retreated. Turned and walked down a long stone hallway that ended in a beach. Sun high and hot but strangely kind. Palm trees that he’d never seen. A breeze he’d never felt. An ocean so blue as to be impossible. Sand like soft magic between his toes. Music played – classical, soothing – and he was suddenly sitting in a chair with a glass of cranberry juice on ice.
He turned and got blinded. He cried out that it was too bright, and he blinked. It was Jody. A shake of the head, and it was Naruto. A swallow and sigh, then Kiba."I love you, baby."
A half-sob and it was his father, his Uncle, his mother, reaching out a hand to touch and hold his--
"Stop that," he ordered.
The fingers withdrew. "Sorry."
And he wished he hadn’t said anything because now it was the boy he’d killed for the Saints when he wasn’t even old enough to understand masturbation, much less murder.
"It’s okay, you know," said the boy.
"How?" he asked. "How is anything 'okay'?"
The boy shrugged. "I don’t mind so much. I mean, look at this place. Don’t you
want to stay?"
He watched the waves. Thought about it. Felt the tug of a tether at his navel to Somewhere Else."Can you hear--"
"I hate the beach," he said. "Hate the ocean."
The boy laughed. "That’s ‘cause you only ever been to the bad ones! C’mon. They’ve got air hockey in the lodge. You can play naked
The idea was amusing, and he chuckled, his fingers touching his lips to feel the smile. It felt good. Alive.
"And you’ve got people here." The boy pointed.
He looked left and saw Beast, tires in the surf and grill grinning in the sunlight. Further down he saw fire, heard voices bright and cheerful and telling jokes, and he knew that was a party. He knew there was a cookout. He knew the food would be delicious enough to make him want to weep, and he knew the multitude of arms that could hold him there would be strong, loyal, loving… and forever."Sweetheart--"
"Who are you?" he asked.
"Everybody," the boy answered, as though it was obvious.
"I want to… go…" he said, unsure.
"Which way?" the boy asked.
"I… I don't… the sun. It's so bright."
"But…" He looked back, saw the tunnel like a cave, maw open and waiting.
"You should probably forgive yourself here, first," said the boy between sips from a straw jutting out of a coconut.
"Sure," said the boy, and he swung brown legs off his lounge chair and planted them in the sand. Healthy, young, without pain.
He watched a hand reach, grip his arm. Real, solid, tangible freedom."I’m right here."
"This is where you get it," the boy said. "The place where you really do understand it all. Fit it together. Make it work. See how what you did affects things but also see what matters." The boy’s eyes were galaxies.
"But I killed--"
"Yes. You did."
"So, I don’t deserve--"
The boy grinned, big white molars and mirth. "To deserve is human, to exist, divine."
"What?" he asked.
"Are you sorry?"
It was hard, and his eyes burned, and everything was so miserable. He wanted to die, to crawl away from the boy's introspective expression, but oddly, the same thing that made him tremble in the study made him safe in the revelation. "Yes. I'm sorry."
"Cool." The grin was back, and the smack to the side of his head was startling, jarring."You just take your time, baby."
"The hell?" he cried.
"It’s so much bigger," the boy said, laughing and laughing. "C'mon… Just think about it."
He did. The tide turned and the sky got darker though the sun didn’t go down. The boy was there, not there, but it was always a comfort. And when he got it, when the dawn came, he started to laugh and cry and shout all at the same time but without a single sound. The joy was infinite, the peace overwhelming. He was going to burst, and it was going to shatter universes with pure bliss.
"Pretty, huh?" said Everything.
Another tug to his middle and a flash of anger, irritation. "If I go, can I come back?"
No answer, but he knew. Just like he knew not to fear the beach growing distant, smaller. Knew that pain was coming but that was all right. Knew that he had to remember
what he learned, even though it’d only be a fraction of the whole. He had to--
It was dark, it was warm, it was weird to breathe.
"Oh my God."
The words were whispered, and Gaara tried to grunt when movement shifted him. His body was not pleased with him at all, though its complaints were muted beneath a fog.
A familiar face filled Gaara’s vision, eclipsed the world. In the murk, the jade flecks were darker, but Gaara recognized the tilt of the mouth beneath the scruff of beard. Kiba’s hair was messy and sticking straight up, and there was a bandage across his nose. Shadows carved gullies beneath his eyes, but the smile showed a pointy tooth and mobile lips. Fingertips traced Gaara’s face, so gentle, and Gaara channeled the energy to speak, move, do.
"Easy," Kiba said, still quiet. "I got ya baby." Tears poured down his cheeks, and he bent to kiss Gaara’s forehead. It was nice, and Gaara tried to raise the arm that didn’t ache.
Kiba turned, took Gaara’s hand, and slowly lifted it to kiss Gaara’s knuckles. Gaara forced some clarity and saw that Kiba knelt across Gaara, knees on the bed. He looked down, saw tubes and blankets and an ID bracelet and dull panic began to rise.
"Right here, sweetheart," Kiba said, and he drew so close their noses touched.
"Yer in the hospital," he explained, calm and collected. "Ya can’t talk ‘cause there’s a tube down yer throat. Yer gonna be fine. Ya got a fancy suite, everybody’s here, and ain’t nobody gonna let anythin’ bad happen."
Gaara tried to swallow, it didn’t quite work, and Kiba put a palm on Gaara’s chest. "Just close yer eyes, baby. Yer safe."
Gaara obeyed, Kiba crooned in his ear. Words or sounds or both, it didn’t matter. Gaara relaxed by degrees, and the exhaustion calmly explained that Gaara was going to rest now whether he liked it or not. He argued with the sensation in the voice of a small boy, said he wanted to tell Kiba about the beach, but a friendly darkness chuckled like a mother to insolent child, stole over him, and swayed him to sleep.~*~
Gaara woke up like Rip Van Winkle, after the slumber of a century. He rested on a soft pillow, facing a window overlooking the steam stacks of the next building and a stretch of parking lot full of vehicles shining in chilly winter sunlight. He was stiff and sore but not hurting, and when he tried to wiggle under the sheets and blankets, pliant weight stopped him. Gaara swiveled his head, looked down.
Kiba's arm lay sprawled over Gaara's thighs. He sat in a chair, bent at the waist to rest against the side of Gaara's leg. His mouth hung open, and a line of drool was forming a spreading pool. He wore a shirt that was too big, and Gaara got fascinated with how much auburn was in the several days' worth of beard.
Gaara concentrated, lifted one hand stuffed with tubing, and placed it on Kiba's shoulder. Squeezing, Gaara glanced at Jody, who lay hugging Gaara's shins. Jody faced away from Gaara, dirty blond hair in oily curls. His back rose and fell in a steady rhythm, and Gaara wondered how in the hell either man could sleep contorted as they were. Gaara flexed one leg and winced.
Bandages coated his right arm and side, and Gaara felt the tug of more on his left thigh. He started to complain, but a quiet, "Oh
!" distracted him.
Across the room, Iruka shut a book and shook Kakashi, who rested in a chair against a counter covered in rose-themed floral arrangements. Metal scraped on flooring, and Gaara saw Neji put down a hand of cards and rise from a table near a window and a row of narrow cots. Curtain racks held swaths of fabric against the richly painted walls, and there was a free-standing utilitarian wardrobe next to a door cracked to show a small bathroom. Another door stood to Gaara's left, also open and carrying a sign that read, "For Patients Only." Gaara smelled coffee, saw a box of donuts on the counter next to paper plates and a spilled box of forks, and Gaara had to wonder if this was one room or six.
"Hey there," Kakashi said, quietly. He paused at the foot of Gaara's bed, nudged Jody's shoulder. Immediately Gaara's oldest friend sat up, snorting and jerking to look at Gaara. The smile that split Jody's face was beautiful.
"Boss," Jody said, raspy from sleep. "How you doin'?"
Gaara considered, opened his mouth to speak, and coughed. Jody made a pained sound, started to get up, but Kakashi pushed Jody back into the seat. Kakashi swept to Gaara's bedside, retrieved a plastic cup off a tray meant to span Gaara's bed, and filled it with ice chips from a thermos.
"Here," Kakashi said, and Gaara opened his mouth to let Kakashi feed him freezing water that tasted like liquid heaven and felt even better as it melted. Gaara moaned, and Kakashi chuckled. "Good, huh?"
Gaara nodded and crunched the next few pieces. When he could swallow without razorblades, he groaned, and Kiba stirred with a slurp. The Inuzuka flew upright, wiping at a damp chin with a dry sleeve.
"Gaara?" Kiba asked, gripping Gaara's hand with both of his.
"He's fine, Kiba," Kakashi soothed, and Gaara nodded with an impatient gesture for more ice. Kiba laughed.
"I'll go tell the nurse," Iruka said. "See if he can have some juice."
"Thanks," Kakashi said, handing the cup to Kiba, who took over feeding duty. In between chips, Kiba bent to kiss Gaara's cheeks, mouth, chin.
"Cut it out," Gaara said, voice scratchy.
"Nah," Kiba answered, stuffing Gaara with two pieces and sealing the offering with a longer press of lips.
"Jesus," Kakashi muttered. "No wonder you made a Will."
"I'm fuckin' crazy, but I ain't stupid," Kiba replied without taking his affectionate gaze off Gaara.
"What?" Gaara asked, confused.
"Before he decided to pursue you," Neji answered from the foot of the bed. Gaara noticed that Neji was the only man in the room who appeared showered, shaved, clean, and unaffected by the surroundings. "Asked me for the name of a good lawyer."
"You did?" Gaara said to Kiba, whose grin was equal parts chagrin and pride.
"Tol' ya," Kiba said. "Asked 'round 'bout you when I realized ya were the only one in my head, an no 'mount of fuckin' could change my mind."
"Though he did try," Neji interjected.
"Shut it, Nej," Kiba said, friendly. He brushed back Gaara's hair. "Gonna tango with death, ya gotta be prepared, baby. You know that better 'n most here."
"Oh, I don't know," Neji mused, eying Jody, Kakashi, and then Gaara in turn.
"Like that you're here," Gaara said to Kiba, resting against the pillows and closing his eyes briefly. "All of you."
"Who are you and what you done with boss?" Jody asked, but he stroked Gaara's leg.
"Forgave him. Left him on the shore." Gaara ignored the slow blinks, not bothering to explain. "How long?" he asked Neji.
"You've been here for eight days," Neji answered without missing a beat. "You were shot twice, once in the shoulder and once in the side. The second bullet didn't exit, collapsed your lung. The first tore a major artery, and they harvested one from your leg to repair it. Kakashi donated blood on-scene, and you were given more during surgery to make up for the loss."
"Good news is, the one you took in the shoulder did arterial damage but you should regain full use of the arm with some therapy," Kakashi said.
"You been asleep a while, boss," Jody added. "But they kept tellin' us that was good for you. Helped you heal faster, and though we was worried 'bout the coma thing, Doctor Sakura kept sayin' you should wake up sooner or later." He smiled. "She's real nice. Been here and carin' more than most docs I've known."
"The Dogs?" Gaara asked, sucking on more ice chips. Iruka returned with a cup and straw, handed it to Kakashi, and put an arm around the bartender's waist.
Neji straightened his shoulders. "I rather not inundate you when you've just regained--"
"Definitely recovering," Neji said with an imperial arch of perfect eyebrow.
"I love 'im demandin’," Kiba said, and Gaara found Kiba's hand to hold. The Inuzuka stared at their fingers like he was unacquainted with how those body parts worked.
"How excellent for you," Neji droned and continued, businesslike. "To simplify, all of your attackers are deceased, and their known cohorts have fled the city or have met with rather harsh endings."
Kakashi chuckled, swapping ice for juice with Kiba. "I do love how blondie works."
"Indeed," Neji agreed. "Ibiki and my personal counsel have handled the aftermath. You'll need to make an official statement for the police, but I'll make sure Ibiki handles that personally. I'll do my best to see that you don't see any time in court for any reason. After my meeting with the DA, I don't think that will be a problem."
"Good t'be the king," Kiba quipped, watching Gaara drink juice with avid interest. It tasted so good Gaara thought he would cry, but he refrained.
"My house?" Gaara asked between gulps.
"It's been cleared as a crime scene, and it will be fumigated and entirely livable upon your release from the hospital. I'll see to it."
Neji smiled. "You're one of my employees, Gaara. It's only natural that you have the very best medical care this city can provide. At no charge to you, of course."
Gaara licked his lips and stared at Neji for a long few seconds. There was something about the way the Hyuuga stood, a tenseness to the jaw. "What happened and why do you feel guilty?"
Neji flinched, Kiba and Jody shifted, and Kakashi sighed at the ceiling. "This is what you get for surrounding yourself with perceptive geniuses," Kakashi said to Neji.
"Evidently," Neji sighed and tucked a strand of hair behind one ear. "My people were monitoring the influx of foreign gang activity. The night you were attacked, there was to be a hit on the rental house the Dogs were using as home base."
"Kisuke and I were on it," Kakashi interrupted, glancing at Neji until the Hyuuga waved a hand for him to continue. "We were following the leader and several cronies, intending to have them arrested upon first sign of the threat of violence."
"But there was more than one car," Jody said, stealing the story. "Group of 'em had already gotten to your house, boss, and killed radio and cell signals. Didn't do nothin' to the beacon we set up on the alarm, though, thank God. But while I'm grabbin' pants and ammo, these two fucknuts," he gestured to Kakashi, "realize they're outgunned and outmaneuvered and climb to get high ground and open fire."
"Kisuke keeps quite the arsenal in his Expedition," Kakashi mused. "Handy, that."
"Fords," Jody said with a snarl. "Damn fool--"
"Anyway," Neji said. "By the time a distress call got out, you were shot, the Dogs were dead, and--"
"The same two fucknuts saved your life, boss," Jody said, respectful. "Figure I owe 'em free oil changes for life."
the paint job we talked about for the Jag," Kakashi said.
"Sure thing, Mr. Hatake," Jody agreed with a slow smile.
"Heaven forbid you miss an opportunity," Iruka said under his breath, and Kakashi kissed him until Iruka admitted defeat.
"It's been somewhat of a press debacle," Neji said. "But manageable with certain points of assistance."
"Oh," Gaara said, digesting the information while his IV dripped. He listened to an invisible ocean and petted Kiba's wrist. "Neji."
"I need a favor."
"They are my business, favors."
Gaara tried on a smile, and it fit for once. "Can you get a moving crew to Kiba's to transport his things to my home before my release?"
Neji's eyebrows met his hairline. "I can, yes."
"Hang on!" Kiba protested. "Don't I get a say?"
Gaara organized his rationale. "Where do you live?" he asked Kiba.
"Got a place on the West side."
"Smaller than my home?"
"Well, yeah, but--"
"Do you want to live with me?"
Kiba started to blush, lips twisting into a smirk, a smile, and something in between. "Well, yeah, baby, it'd be--"
"Then what's the problem?"
"Good to have you back, Gaara," Kakashi said while Kiba stuttered, and the bartender kissed Gaara's temple. It was kind of nice, and Gaara turned his newly discovered expression of contentment upon the other man.
"Think we're all better for it," Kakashi whispered.
"I'll see that it's done," Neji said. "Keep you informed, Kiba."
"Gee, thanks," Kiba said, but the sarcasm didn't make it to the syllables' surface.
"Thank you," Gaara said, tugging at Kiba until the Inuzuka finally took the hint and drew close enough to taste.
"Why don't we give them some room?" Iruka asked.
"Sounds right good to me," Jody said, getting up. He stretched, and headed for the door, nearly knocking over a volunteer coming into the room with a vase of flowers. "Shit, 'scuse me."
"Sorry," said the girl. "Another delivery. Should I put them with the others?"
"Who?" Gaara asked.
"Uh," the girl said, uncertain.
"He means who they from," Jody said helpfully, fishing out the card. "Oh. It's the Uchiha guy again."
"Sasuke?" Gaara asked, horrified and confused.
"Nah," Kiba replied. "The bigger one. 'pparently, Haku and Kimimaro heard what happened from Prissy Bitch, and put up a fuss. They're travelin' somewhere, but keep sendin' the roses every day."
"Oh," Gaara said. The girl set down the vase of two dozen stems and backed out of the room quickly. Gaara stared at a pink and white blossom while Jody, Iruka, Kakashi, and Neji filed out after her, and the fluttering in his chest wasn't terrifying or worrisome or confusing.
It was sweet, pleasant… even right
"When I'm better, can we go to the beach?"
When Kiba didn't answer right away, Gaara tore his gaze from tokens of affection to the man who embodied sanctuary, sanity, and salvation. Tears quietly rolled down Kiba's face, unchecked, and Gaara caught them with his fingertips, sipping the offering like a penitent man to the universe’s cup of understanding.
"Yeah," Kiba croaked, and laughed. "We can go anywhere ya want. Hell, we can go to every fuckin' beach in every fuckin' country we can find."
Gaara worked his smile into a real grin, and the soaring in his heart made it seem like Gaara was dancing with the jade soul standing watch over his bed of awakening recovery. "I'd like that."
"Me, too, sweetheart. Oh God, me, too."~*~Forgiven, forgave, never forgot... There is one more chapter in this tale. Much love, the arms of your loved ones, and a slice of eternal bliss.