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.
“I don’t normally ask this, but you sure?”
Gaara looked at the artist holding the tattoo gun and nodded once. He lay back in the chair, hair pulled away from his face in a cap.
“You got ink, but this one’s gonna hurt. And the placement…”
“Pain doesn’t bother me,” Gaara said matter-of-fact. He closed his eyes. “Just do it.”
“Sure, man. Just checkin’.”
The needle hit skin and Gaara sighed in something like euphoria, body going limp even as sweat started to roll. What they said was true: tattoos were addictive. Gaara had tribal etchings that covered most of his left torso from the waist up. They danced down his left arm to his elbow and covered his left shoulder blade to his spine. The shoulder blade hurt more than this, but in truth none of them hurt enough.
“Pretty wicked this one,” the artist said. “What’s it mean?”
“It means ‘Ai’ – love,” Gaara explained.
The artist chuckled. “No, man, got that part. I’ve done a few Kanji in my time. I mean…anything else?”
“Just a reminder,” Gaara said softly.
“Cool,” the man replied and continued the outline. Gaara didn’t even flinch.~*~
Gaara pulled Beast – the old Caddy that he’d saved from the chopping block that let him drive toward survival all those years ago – into his space outside the apartment building. Jody kept Beast running, and one of Gaara’s first acts with his money was going to be to fix her up in the classic style. Candy Apple red paint, silver trim, white seats, all the whistles. Beast would look good, and that made Gaara…almost happy.
His forehead tingled from the fresh ink, and the sun was bright on the back of his neck when he got out and took the stairs to the second floor two at a time. It was six months since the seemingly-simple packet arrived and changed his world, and it was time to move on with life. Gaara may have spent his time until now seeking something he didn’t know how to find in all the worst ways possible. He may have wanted death and destruction and chaos – may have found a kind of solace there; an understanding of pain and struggle.
But the fact was that life was different now – and could be very different. Over the past half a year, Gaara’d stopped drinking and smoking. He made lists and scribbled tentative plans on scraps of computer paper, and he spent long hours in the dusky, still time of night looking out his window and thinking. It was the lull before the next phase, and for the first time in Gaara’s life, he thought about more than the present moment. And he thought about more than just himself.
Jody took care of Gaara without comment or pressure. He was there when things overloaded and Gaara threw things or screamed. Jody made excuses to neighbors, brought Gaara strawberry candy and hot chocolate. He waited and watched while Gaara struggled to pull pieces of himself together and figure out what he liked and what he didn’t.
Which led to the tattoo, of course. Gaara needed something concrete to mark the change – and pain was always a way to do that for Gaara. Now he knew what he wanted – and he needed to tell the person responsible for keeping him alive all these years.
Nerves played a fiddle in the back of Gaara’s mind as Gaara unlocked the door. Guilt and nervousness and concern were all young blooms in the garden of Gaara’s understanding. And he found that he didn’t want to crush them under the heel of his boot – which he thought was a sign of something good.
Jody was sitting on the couch watching TV when Gaara walked in. He looked up and smiled. “Hey boss, what’s – oh shit!”
Jody stood up and crossed to Gaara, eyes on the new tattoo. “You got ink without me?” He sounded hurt, and his hazel eyes backed up the tone.
“Yeah,” Gaara said. “Had to. Needed to think in the chair, and need to talk to you.”
Jody looked concerned and curious, and he blinked down at Gaara questioningly.
“Let’s sit,” Gaara said, moving toward the couch and flipping off the TV.
“Fuck,” Jody said quietly, following Gaara. “You’re takin’ off, ain’t ya? I don’t blame you, boss. I would.” He sounded miserable, and Gaara reflected on the fact that the misery was over the possibility of Gaara leaving. He meant something to Jody.
Interesting. Good – and continually, evermore, interesting.
Gaara sat down and smiled at Jody – a real little turn of thin lips that made Jody stare in something like wonderment. The smiles were so rare, and he’d told Gaara more than once that he lived for them in the darker times.
“No,” Gaara said. “But I’ve been thinking about what comes next. For both of us.”
Jody’s expression became one of unsuppressed hope, and he sat on the couch and waited for Gaara to continue.
“We’re moving,” Gaara said. He pulled out a folded piece of paper from his pocket and slid it over to Jody. “There’s land for sale on the edge of town. It’s about thirty acres, and I just bought it.”
Jody whistled and nodded. “Okay, boss. Sounds good so far.”
“The land’s cheap ‘cause there’s an old auto body shop on it and a trailer or two. I can hire people to haul stuff off and do the heavy lifting so we don’t have to for once. We stay here, build homes, and I want to fix up the shop.”
“Boss?” Jody asked.
Gaara rubbed his hands together and looked at them while he spoke. “I got the ink without you because it reminds me of what I don’t understand. But I want to try, I think. We’ve got money now – and time. You’re good with cars and people. I’m good with anything I need to be. We build the shop and our homes and start over.”
Jody didn’t say anything…he looked shocked, and Gaara sighed. He knew this wasn’t going to be easy to swallow. Hell, it was hard for him. But things needed to change – hell, they already had
changed - and he had to try and explain.
“You’ve been with me all my life.”
“’cause you saved mine, boss,” Jody said immediately. “I told you I’d always have your back. I meant it.”
Gaara looked up and nodded, lips quirking again. “And now I can have yours. Take the house, take the job, and consider it a gift for keeping me alive. Even when I didn’t want to be.”
The big man sat and just blinked at his redheaded friend for a long moment, and Gaara watched the naked shock and surprise dance over his expressive features. Finally he shook his head a little and met Gaara’s gaze. “But, I mean…really?” Jody sniffled.
“Don’t start that shit,” Gaara sighed.
“Oh come on, Gaara,” Jody said with a smile and watery eyes. “You’re tellin’ me I get my own place – that you want to build it for me? That’s like…beyond anythin’, boss. Just: beyond.
And I get to work on cars with you. Wait – what kind of cars?” His face lit up with the possibilities, and Gaara felt warmth spread inside his chest. It was new and faintly pleasant, and Gaara wrapped his arms around his body as though trying to physically trap the feeling.
“I was thinking we’d specialize in old ones. Like the Caddy and the Rolls. High end things. There’s plenty of money in this city.”
“I can do that, boss. Foreign or domestic – it don’t matter. They got books, and Sphinx could hook me up with some people.”
“And I thought we’d hire from the streets. Not tolerate bullshit, but give chances. Kids, you know.”
Jody nodded. “Like us.”
“Like us,” Gaara agreed.
Jody smiled and one of his hands formed a peace sign, fingers pointing down. “I got your back, boss.”
Gaara returned the symbol. “And I’ve got yours.”~*~
Akasuna Auto was in the black. Gaara blew out a puff of air and shut the ledger. He had an accountant, but he liked keeping track of things by hand. It calmed him down and helped him focus. Besides, ever since he got his GED and started taking online courses for kicks, he found he enjoyed the order and rhythm of numbers. The emotional overloads were fewer and farther between, now, but Gaara still had difficulties. Numbers, cars, and Jody helped.
And so did music – Gaara stayed up all night sometimes spinning on the Tecnics Jody’d bought him. He even did a gig here or there sometimes – usually a favor called in by one of Jody’s friends. Gaara found he really liked spinning in dark clubs. It let him be close to people – to darkness, to sex, to the pulse of living – without having to be directly involved. He provided the soundtrack; the partiers provided the heart and soul.
All of it kept Gaara busy – especially with the shop and the construction. In the past six months, Gaara had discovered exactly how smoothly things could go with money in hand and a plan in mind. A crew of contractors and various teams built two houses, fixed up and expanded the auto body shop, and cleaned up Gaara’s property in record time. He managed funds through Adam Skye – the man who delivered the paperwork after his father’s death – and he’d had dinner with his brother and sister. They both lived in the city, as it turned out. Kankuro worked at the college in theatre and Temari was a therapist of all things.
After hearing Gaara’s story – told in bleak, stark detail – Temari hugged him, cried, and gave Gaara a name. He started seeing a man named Brian two times a week. He had medication, understood the definition of words like “closure” and “transference,” and while he felt a little numb from the pills, he also felt less like killing customers.
Something that Jody was often keen to point out was a good thing. Made for better references.
Gaara quit working at Haze once he started on his new life, but Pein was more than happy to keep business cards and put a good word in for Gaara and his new shop. Gaara’d been right – there was no shortage of money in this city. Sleek and sexy car after car came through their bays, nervous owners talking to Jody about their babies in tones and language that even Gaara could understand.
Things were…good. Gaara and happiness still didn’t know one another, but he and contentment were pen pals.
Sipping water – the strongest thing Gaara drank these days was cranberry juice – Gaara looked up as Jody came into his office.
“Hey boss,” Jody said with a smile. “Somebody here to see you.”
Gaara shifted in his seat. He didn’t like dealing with people other than Jody or his siblings. It made him nervous. “Who is it?”
“Dunno, but he’s pretty insistent. And hot – and boss, you know I don’t swing that way.” Jody laughed.
“What does he want?” Gaara didn’t care what the man looked like. He stayed the hell away from relationships. His therapist even agreed it was probably better that way until he could understand human emotion on a deeper level.
“Won’t say, really. Says he’s got a proposition for you about music.”
Gaara’s pale eyebrows went up. “Music? Well…” Gaara swallowed. “Send him in, then.”
“Thought you might see it that way, boss.” Jody grinned. Then he turned, large body moving gracefully, and leaned out the doorway.
“We good, Mr. Hatake! Come on back!”
Gaara watched as Jody stepped aside and a striking man with two different colored eyes stepped into the doorway. He had gray hair, one blue eye and one brown eye, and he wore a t-shirt and jeans like an Italian suit. Smiling, the man approached the desk.
“Good morning,” he said. “I’m Hatake Kakashi – you must be the Gaara I’ve heard so much about?”
Gaara accepted Kakashi’s outstretched hand and shook it once, firmly. “I’m Gaara,” he said. “What do you want?”
Kakashi laughed. “Direct. I like it.” He sat down across from Gaara. “I’ll get right to it: I was at Pressure Point the other night, and I heard you spin. I don’t know how often you dabble in music, Gaara, but you’re good at it. I own a bar and I’m about to open a club called Bliss. Was wondering if you’d be interested in being my DJ?”
Gaara’s heart pounded a little faster. Music and cars…the two things he enjoyed in life, and this man was offering him a way to delve further into one of those. “Bliss?” Gaara asked. “The cathedral place up on the plateau?”
Kakashi grinned. “Seen it, have you? Yeah, that’s the place.”
“I thought Uzumaki was putting that up?”
Kakashi tilted his head back and forth, eyes up and considering. “It’s a joint venture. I can get you all the details you need. Just wanted to see if you had any interest first.”
Gaara hesitated. “I’ve got the shop,” he said. “And a past you might not like.” Gaara’s therapist was always telling him to be honest about his past with new people. Gaara didn’t really understand why that was since most of the time the stories made people pale and uncomfortable. Perhaps it was all the discussion of murder…people tended to frown upon all that, after all. But Gaara didn’t kill people any more – so really, the panic was moot.
Kakashi smiled. He leaned back in the chair and shut the door before sitting upright and forward, hands folded on the desk. “I know about your past, Gaara. Everything from the Sons of Saints to Haze.”
Gaara frowned. “Oh?” he said. Most of that information wasn’t exactly public knowledge, though Gaara quickly calculated how much information could be online or in open records. It might be enough to put a story together if one had the resources.
Kakashi nodded. “And since I know so much about you, here’s a bit about me: Bliss is a joint venture among Hyuga Neji, Uzumaki Naruto, Asashi Tenzou – you may know him as Yamato - and myself.”
Gaara’s eyes widened a bit. Those were…rather impressive names. “The Prime Minister’s chosen heir, the head of the Uzumaki Corporation, and the architect from the Asashi firm?”
“And me,” Kakashi said with a grin. “The bar owner.”
Gaara shifted a little in his chair. “How does a bar owner fall into such company?”
“He manages to grow up knowing a bunch of kids who turn out to be destined for pain-in-the-ass jobs and too much responsibility,” Kakashi quipped. “Then he does a tour of duty in Special Ops, makes some connections, learns a few things you can’t really unlearn, and comes home to try to figure out life once killing is no longer sanctioned.” Kakashi gave Gaara a long look which the redhead returned, thinking this man was certainly an interesting specimen of humanity.
“And now,” Kakashi continued, apparently satisfied that Gaara had no comment on Kakashi’s back story. “I make it my business to be good at certain things that those kids need in their complicated lives.”
“…like gathering information?” Gaara guessed.
Kakashi smiled at him. “You certainly didn’t survive this long by playing the fool.”
“No,” Gaara agreed. “My sister tells me my IQ is practically immeasurable.” Gaara remained matter-of-fact about such things. “But I still don’t understand why you want me. There are plenty of DJs for hire. Why get one with my history?”
Kakashi waved a hand. “Sure there are other DJs. But none of them have your unique past, range of experience, or your talent. And that’s not all,” he said leaning forward and eyes serious. “Let me tell you about our other little project…a club called Break.”
Gaara cocked his head and listened to the gray-haired man talk, thinking that life could be rather surprising in its twists, turns, and possibilities.~*~