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He Keeps Me Warm

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Pale green eyes gazed down at the book in his hands, a small black leather bound bible. Gaara No Subaku held the book in his hands as he scanned the words he was reading. The church was full today, the small town of Suna having very little else to do Sunday morning. Mothers, Fathers, and children all gathered among the perfect identical rows.

The sermon would be starting soon, it was easy to tell because the mothers would begin straightening their son’s ties, smoothing out their daughter's dresses and making them presentable. Every Sunday, the same routine like clockwork. Gaara adjusted himself uncomfortably in his seat. The pew around him was empty, the two seats that had once belonged to his siblings were now vacant in their absence.

His siblings had left what felt like ages ago, his brother running off with another man and his elder sister running off to marry a man she loved but his father did not approve of. Gaara adjusted in his seat as he tried to sit comfortable, he could hear the other people whispering.

“I cannot believe it, both those children running off to live in sin.” A man a few pews ahead said, not paying attention as Gaara watched them. “Such a shame but I suppose even the most faithful of men can be tested by the devil.” Gaara hung his head, looking down at his bible and reading the passage he had opened.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.” Gaara read quietly out loud to himself but found it hard to focus on the words. Despite the comfort those words used to bring him, Gaara was alone now.  

The preacher walked onto the stage, smiling as the congregation stood and he looked out with his hands up. His dark eyes lingering on Gaara before flicking around the rest of the crowd. He beckoned the congregation to sit and cleared his throat, opening his bible and sermon notes.

Gaara perked his head upward, knowing he needed to listen when his father spoke. Being the son of the local preacher meant that he must pay rapt attention to all sermons given to keep up appearances. He must be diligent in his study of the bible, lest he be led astray and condemn his soul to hell.

“Every civilization in history is built upon the institution of marriage. It is the foundation. The happiness of couples, the welfare of children, the propagation of the faith, the wellbeing of society, and the orderliness of civilization are all dependent upon the stability of marriage according to the divine pattern. When this God-given pattern is undermined, the whole superstructure of society becomes unstable. Any deviation from the divine pattern invites disaster.” The loud voice boomed out amongst the rows of pews. “But there are those in today’s society that would have us condemn god’s path for us. The media and the government have all bombarded us with ‘It’s okay to be gay!’ and the constant stream of sodomites on our screens.”

Yet another common thing, a sermon about homosexuality and the sin of it. Gaara sighed, this was his father’s favorite subject. He often ranted about it to the people, saying that they were all condemned to hell. It had been a particularly common thing since his brother Kankuro had been sent away after Rasa had caught him with another boy Gaara’s age two years ago.

Gaara knew that as a man of god, his father must be right. His father had spent his life learning what God was trying to say, said that God showed him the way to every sermon he gave. Rasa often said that his children must be prone to the influence of the devil and now that Gaara was the only one still in his home, Rasa took extra care to make sure the eighteen-year-old was not led astray.

“Let’s stand along these poor misguided and lost people trapped in Satan’s snare. Let’s love them out of that sinful and destructive lifestyle! As we all know, God’s love is fire and with it, we shall cleanse those who disobey God’s laws.” Gaara nodded along with the rest of the congregation, the murmur of people the same as every Sunday. The door suddenly opened and a man slipped inside. Gaara turned and looked toward the door along with several other people.

This man was new, not from their town but still seemed to want to sit through their sermon. He was tall, much taller than anyone in the small town of Suna. He wore a green leather Jacket over a worn black t-shirt with some name Gaara assumed belonged to a band. Rasa narrowed his eyes at the man, trying to decide whether he should say anything to the stranger that had just entered. The man took off his sunglasses, revealing round, dark eyes and handsome features. His large eyebrows may have looked odd on others but they filled out his features and just added to his handsomeness.

Gaara felt himself blush and bury his nose in his bible when the man looked up at the front where his father stood, smiling easily despite the awkward silence. He took the seat next to Gaara, black boots clicking on the ground as he sat them down and took out a book. The book was covered in paper, duct tape holding together the battered book. Gaara watched as the man bowed his head and read the book, clearly listening for his father to start speaking again.

Rasa stared at him for another moment before turning back to the people and clearing his throat. He smiled broadly as his voice projected along again. Gaara focused on his bible, pretending he wasn’t staring at the strange man next to him.

The man’s long black braid fell over his shoulder as he bowed his head, clasping his hand in front of him as he closed the pretty brown eyes. Rasa began speaking again and Gaara tried not to stare at the man any longer, his cheeks turning pink as he looked up at his father. His father lifted his bible, a large white one with a pretty gold cover, and shook it in the air.

“Let’s also exercise our rights as Christian citizens! Listen, we can make the difference. Together, Christians all across the great nations can protect and preserve marriage for our children and our children’s children. These people are not Gay or Homosexual, they are sinners, sodomites that have thrust themselves into the hands of an angry and vengeful god! God calls to us all to forsake the hand of Satan, we must heed his call!” Rasa stated then bowed his head. “Let us pray for the protection of our children’s souls, that they not be led astray by Satan into the clutches of homosexuality and sexual hedonism!”

The congregation bowed their heads and began reciting the prayer as his father said it but Gaara had stopped listening in favor of opening his eyes to glance at the man. He hadn’t realized the man had opened his eyes too. He grinned his bowed head and winked at Gaara.

“He is quite the showman I would say.” The man said softly, his voice well hidden beneath the sounds of the congregation. “And such a pretty bible, I would almost say it looks unused.” Gaara blinked and looked up.

“H-he doesn’t read it often...Father Subaku says that he knows it all and there is no need for a man of the church to reread the bible if he knows it already.” Gaara said softly as the man nodded slowly, a small chuckle escaping his lips.

“A man of god who does not read his word?” The man said smile bright as he looked at Gaara, his eyes meeting Gaara’s with a gentleness in them. “That sounds...interesting to say the least.”

The redhead looked back into his bible, cheeks bright red as he tried to ignore the flutter in his stomach at the man’s smile. The man had a nice smile.

 

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Gaara stood outside with his father, standing awkwardly as he tried not to think about how long this would take. He hated having to stand here while his father smiled and shook hands with everyone. He was required to stand still and look like the prodigal son, keep up the appearance of the good child. Gaara found he was unable to focus on it today, counting down until he was finally free to go.

It wasn’t until the strange man came up to his father that Gaara focused on what was going on. The man smiled brightly, holding out his hand to shake Rasa’s. He glanced at Gaara for a moment before looking back at the preacher.

“Hello, I am Rock Lee and I apologize for my intrusion on your sermon, preacher,” the man stated, nodding his head toward Rasa apologetically. “My bike broke down just outside of town, needs some fixing up and when I saw your church, I realized it was Sunday and I hadn’t yet payed my respects to our lord.” Gaara couldn’t take his eyes off the man, not sure why he was so intrigued by the strange man in the green leather jacket.

Rasa plastered on his fake smile, the one that Gaara could see right through. Gaara kept his gaze on the man, Rock Lee’s face. He wasn’t sure what he was looking for but Gaara couldn’t tear his eyes away.

“Always happy to have the faithful come to our doors,” Rasa said, looking Lee up and down. “I would be happy to have you next Sunday if you want to hear the word of god again if you plan on staying that long.” Lee shook his head.

“I will be here for a bit. The mechanic said it will take quite some time to fix the gas tank on my bike and I will be working around that shop in return for the service but I do not think I will be attending your sermons,” Lee said, taking his hand back. “If I want to hear the word of god, I will find a church that speaks it.” Rasa glared at the man as he turned away, the long-haired man waving as he walked away.

"Have a pleasant day preacher, may god be merciful,” Lee said as Gaara watched him leave with wide green eyes. No one had ever spoke to his father that way...Suddenly, Gaara felt a smack upside his head and looked up at his father, rubbing his head. The preacher glared down at his son, malice, and anger in his eyes.

“Do not look to long unto that sinner boy,” Rasa sneered and glared down at Gaara. “He will attempt to lead you astray. You don’t want to follow your siblings to hell do you?” the teen held his bible to his chest and nodded.

“No father, I would not want that…” Gaara said as he looked towards his feet. Rasa nodded and turned towards the church, waving his son off.

“Good, now get going and go study,” Rasa stated as Gaara turned toward the road. “And remember, go straight home. I will be there at eight o’clock.” the older teen nodded and then Gaara waited until his father had disappeared into the church. He turned toward the woods, the opposite direction of his house.

 

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Gaara’s walked along the worn path to his secret place near the river. He had been going to the small clearing near the edge of town where he had set up a sort of escape. It was far away from prying eyes and where he hid his precious books in a small knot hole in the giant oak. He often came here to get away from the judging gazes of the other town folk. Gaara was not well liked in his town, the children were often afraid of him because of his father and the parents liked to pick about everything from his appearance to his disinterest in people. It wasn’t that Gaara didn’t want to make friends...but no one would approach him without fear of the preacher's son ratting them out to a man of god.

Gaara turned the corner and then froze when he saw someone else in his private space. The green leather jacket and long braid were easily recognizable to him despite only seeing it once. Gaara blinked as Rock Lee turned to him and smiled brightly.

“Why hello there, if it is not the little-lost kitten from the church,” Lee said brightly, putting his hands into the pockets of his jacket. Gaara held his bible tight to his chest and looked down. He wasn’t supposed to talk to this man, if his father found out Gaara knew the beating that would follow would be one he would never forget.

Gaara moved to turn and leave, not even acknowledging the man as he moved to leave. Lee furrowed his brow and moved to side-step in front of Gaara. Gaara took a step back and looked the man with wide eyes.

“Hey, I will not bite.” Lee joked as he smiled at Gaara, scanning the man’s face. “I saw you before and wanted to talk to you some more, maybe get your name.” Gaara looked up sheepishly and sighed.

“I am Gaara, Gaara No Subaku,” Gaara said awkwardly, trying to move around Lee. “Can I go now, my father said I wasn’t allowed to speak to you.” Lee raised a brow at that and smiled at Gaara.

“Really, so you are the son of the local preacher?” Lee said as he moved to block Gaara’s way around him. “I figured he would say something like that to the people. That is what your father wants of you then...but what do you want to do?” Gaara bit his lip, to be honest, he did want to speak to Lee, hopefully, he would find out more about the stranger and identify why he was so fascinated with the older man.

“That isn’t relevant to anything...my father gave me an order and I have to obey… The bible says to honor your father…” Gaara started to say when Lee chuckled and drew Gaara’s attention again. Gaara felt his face heat at the beautiful sound…

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the lord, your God gives you.” Lee recited with a smile, his body relaxed. “That is Exodus if I remember correctly. You must read the good book a lot to have that memorized.” Gaara watched the man and shuffled his feet.

“Y-yes, father makes me read it every night…” Gaara said, not able to hide the annoyance in his voice. Lee perked up at that and smiled at Gaara kindly.

“That does not sound like fun…” Lee mused as he sat down on the green grass. “And not particularly fair since he himself does not read it.” It was just now becoming summer and the grass was green and bright just like Lee's jacket. Gaara stared down at the man and bit his lip.

“I would rather read other things...but my father doesn’t like it when I read a lot...he says that all I need to know is in the bible…” The older man nodded, his eyebrows furrowing in confusion.

“Well, how else are you supposed to learn about the world?” Lee asked as he patted the ground and invited Gaara to sit with him. “I have read the bible and been all over the country and I can tell you there is quite a bit to the world.” Lee looked up hopefully at Gaara, the seat still offered to the redhead.

Gaara hesitated for a moment, should he take a seat and talk to this man? Lee seemed nice and there was something about him that made Gaara feel warm and safe...how could someone so friendly be sinful?

“What kind of things?” Gaara asked as he finally took a seat, looking up at the man with curious eyes. Lee raised a brow and picked up a rock, tossing it into the river.

“Like the sound of the road roaring in your ears when you are riding down the highway,” Lee said as he leaned back onto his hands. “That is my favorite thing, the sound of the wind in my ears when I am traveling down the road on my bike.” Lee turned to Gaara and smiled.

“What is your favorite sound?” Lee asked simply and Gaara thought for a long moment before shrugging.

“I don’t have one…” Gaara said as he looked down at his knees. Lee chuckled again and Gaara found himself blushing again, a small smile on his lips. He found that he liked the way Lee sounded when he laughed.

 

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Three weeks passed, what had once been new was now becoming routine. Gaara would get out of bible study or church and would head down to his private spot. Lee was usually waiting for him or would come shortly after Gaara arrived.

They would talk for hours asking each other silly questions like their favorite colors and words they enjoyed saying, they would skip stones on the river or sit on the tree branches while they talked and joked around. Sometimes Gaara would read books Lee would lend him while Lee talked about things he had done and places he had seen. The man had been traveling on his motorcycle around the different countries and was currently heading home to Konoha to see his family.

He had been delayed when his bike decided to give out and had to wait for the parts to come in to fix it. He was also low on money so he had to pay for the repairs with labor around the mechanic’s shop. Gaara was secretly grateful, it meant that he would get to spend more time with the man before he left. Gaara was not sure why but the thought of Lee leaving made his chest hurt and throat constrict. There was still so much he wanted to know about the older man, still, so much they could talk about. Gaara found that he would never get tired of listening to Lee talk.

Gaara practically skipped to the meeting place today. His father had gone to a meeting of preachers in the county and would be gone for two days. That meant Gaara could stay out as late as he wanted talking to Lee.

As he rounded the corner, Gaara felt himself smiling when his eyes landed on the man he had been so eager to see. Lee was sitting down by the river, a long green vaporizing pen in his hand. Gaara had seen the thing before and enjoyed watching Lee blow rings from the vapor despite the fact he knew his father hated them. The old preacher found them to be obnoxious and pointless things.

Lee looked up and smiled when he heard movement, his grin wide as he blew the vapor out his nose. Gaara sat down next to him and Lee chuckled at the redhead.

“Hello kitten, you seem excited today,” Lee said as he took another deep inhale of the vape pen. He blew out slowly, making rings with his mouth. Gaara smiled at the nickname Lee called him, the familiar fluttering in his stomach he got whenever he was around Lee filling him.

“Father went away on a two-day trip so I can hang out as much as I like until he comes back Saturday evening,” Gaara stated as he opened his book bag and took out a book. The title read ‘the catcher in the rye’ and he handed it back to Lee.

“Thank you for letting me borrow it...I really enjoyed it.” Gaara said as Lee took the book, their hands brushing as Lee took it. Gaara felt his face heat as he pulled his hand away, the flutter in his stomach getting worse as Lee smiled at him.

“I thought you might, I was really surprised that your father never lets you read it before...then again from what you have said about him I guess it is not that surprising.” Lee said as he laughed, taking another inhale of his vape pen. Gaara watched in fascination as Lee blew more rings, the smell of strawberries filling the air and then met the dark brown eyes when Lee offered the vape to him.

“Want to try?” Lee asked, raising a brow at Gaara. The redhead looked at it curiously and took the pen from the man. “Just press the button and breath in.” Lee guided his hand over Gaara’s and the preacher’s son felt his cheeks turn bright red as he realized just how close Lee was.

Gaara swallowed as he breathed in, choking on the water vapor as his eyes watered. Lee laughed, lifting his sleeve to wipe Gaara’s eyes. Gaara scowled at the man laughing at him, crossing his arms at his friend.

“I don’t see how that’s funny…” Gaara complained as Lee’s shoulder shook, Gaara’s face was red again as the man tried to speak through his giggles.

“Y-you should have seen your face...it was just too cute.” Lee said as Gaara moved to tackle the man. He couldn’t help but be embarrassed when Lee called him cute. But part of him was pleased with this...it confused him that he enjoyed when Lee called him things like that.

“ I am not cute, take that back,” Gaara said with a half serious tone. Lee shook his head and crossed his legs as he grinned down at Gaara.

“I cannot lie, that would be a sin and to say you are not cute would be lying.” Lee teased with a shrug, his smirk making the butterflies in Gaara’s stomach multiply as the redhead tackled his friend to the ground. Gaara knew Lee was a lot stronger than he was so it didn’t surprise him when he suddenly found himself pinned beneath the larger man. Gaara kicked out weakly.

“I bet I could get out of this,” Gaara teased as Lee pinned his hands above him and Gaara felt heat pooling in his gut...Gaara’s eyes widened and he bit his lip, he could feel himself becoming aroused as Lee pressed his warm body closer. Lee’s knee brushed between Gaara’s legs and Lee’s eyes widened at the hardness he found.

No, this was wrong...he shouldn’t be feeling this way when he was being pinned under another man...Gaara stiffened and he looked up to ask Lee to let him go but his voice died in his throat when he locked eyes with Lee.

The warm brown eyes looked down at Gaara affectionately and Gaara felt his heart skip a beat when Lee released his hands and let him up. Lee’s cheeks were pink as he sat back down and Gaara scrambled to straighten himself, cheeks just as red. There was a long silence as Gaara panicked in his mind. Lee must hate him now...what would he think of him…

Then Gaara felt a rough calloused hand on his soft one, Gaara looked up and met Lee’s eyes. Gaara’s worry dissipated when he saw the softness in Lee’s eyes, no anger could be found in them. The man leaned over and closed the space between them, his hand stroking Gaara’s.

“Gaara...have you ever kissed another man?” Lee asked softly, meeting Gaara’s eyes curiously. Gaara felt his mouth go dry as he bit his lip, he had only kissed one girl in his life and that had been in middle school. He had disliked kissing Matsuri and had never tried again.

“N-no…” Gaara said nervously, putting his hands in his lap and twisting his shirt in his hands. Part of him wanted Lee to kiss him, wanted to feel what that was like. “B-but I think...would it be okay…” Lee hooked his finger under Gaara’s chin and the redhead felt his breath hitch.

Lee’s eyes were beautiful as Gaara looked up into them, his mouth going dry as the older man leaned forward. The kiss was gentle, just a soft peck on his lips but Gaara felt the fireworks explode in his heart and belly as Lee kissed him.

Gaara’s hands unfurled from his shirt, his eyes closing as he grabbed the front of Lee’s jacket and scooted closer to Lee. The older man’s arms went around his waist and Lee pulled Gaara closer to him. The kiss deepened and Gaara let his eyes close as he clung to Lee.

After what felt like ages, Gaara pulled away panting. He put his fingers to his lips and stared up at Lee with curious eyes. He had just kissed another man...it should feel wrong. It should feel wrong to kiss another man, that was what his father said, God would condemn him to hell…

But if this was wrong...why did touching Lee feel so right, why had that kiss felt so right. Gaara licked his lips and looked up at Lee’s soft brown eyes, he gripped the front of Lee’s jacket again and furrowed his brow.

“I-that was…” he started to say when Lee chuckled breathlessly, pressing his forehead to Gaara’s.

“Amazing...I have been wanting to kiss you for weeks…” Lee said softly, his cheeks turning pink as Gaara looked at him. He was so conflicted, not sure if he should be feeling all these things for someone who was the same sex as he was. But how could something that felt so right...be wrong?

“C-can we do that again?” Gaara asked as he looked up at Lee, his green eyes darkening as he leaned into the man’s forehead. Lee nodded, cupping Gaara’s cheek with his hand and closing his eyes halfway.

“Of course,” Lee said softly as he pressed his lips to Gaara’s and Gaara decided that his favorite feeling was the feeling of Lee’s hands on his face.

 

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Six months went by quicker than Gaara would have ever thought, the leaves beginning to change colors as autumn began. Gaara pulled up his coat as the cool air nipped at his skin but even still, Gaara felt warm.

He and Lee had been...seeing each other for months now and every day, Gaara felt his feelings for the man growing. He would do anything he could to get out of his house and go to see Lee in their special place.

There, they would kiss and hold each other in private. Lee was a perfect gentleman, never pushing past the occasional french kiss and hands wandering up Gaara’s shirt. Gaara had to be careful to hide the hickeys that Lee would leave all over his collarbone while Lee didn’t bother to cover the ones Gaara would leave all over his neck and chest.

Gaara managed to escape from his house, on his way to see Lee for the third time that week. Rasa had left for a retreat, leaving Gaara to handle the affairs of the church and thus leaving Gaara plenty of time with Lee.

Gaara had walked into the corner store, buying some strawberry cake to share with Lee later. They had been together for almost six months now and Gaara knew Lee wanted to celebrate somehow. They could not go out like a normal couple, lest someone see them and tell his father but Gaara had to find some way to show Lee how much he cared for him. His gaze traveled down to his hand and Gaara couldn’t help but look at the ring he wore on his left ring finger.

It was an abstinence ring, one he had been given to by his father when he had taken the oath when he turned thirteen. It had belonged to his late mother and was made of sea glass, compressed sand. Gaara wore it as a memory of the promise he had made to wait until he was married to have sex.

But lately, he had been thinking about breaking that oath. He wanted to give himself to Lee because as much as his upbringing told him it was impossible...Gaara had fallen in love with Rock Lee. He had never felt this way before, as if every part of his happiness was tied to Lee smiling or laughing.

Was it too much to hope that Lee loved him too? That the man had fallen for Gaara just as much as Gaara had fallen for him? Gaara had a hard time believing it, sodomites did not feel love...there was no way Gaara could hope to have his feelings returned.

Maybe this was not really true love and he had been convinced otherwise...but the way Lee kissed him, the way he had comforted Gaara when he told him about how his mother had died, how his siblings had abandoned him when they left their father…He had told Lee all his hopes and dreams, shared his fears and trusted the man with so much of his heart...There was no way that this could not be love.

Gaara sighed as he collected the bag from the cashier, smiling at them slightly as he moved to walk to the clearing where he would be meeting Lee. As he walked out, he heard some of the elder ladies from the church talking amongst themselves near the entrance.

“Yes, I heard the mechanic finally kicked him out and finished the work on that motorcycle.” One of the women said and Gaara quirked a brow. There was only one person in town with a motorcycle…

“He is such a nice boy...too bad he must be ready to head home. I heard he has family in Konoha.” Another woman said and Gaara felt his heart squeezing in pain. Lee must be...no, what about their relationship? Gaara tried not to move too quickly as he moved to find Lee, his limbs moving on their own as he searched for Lee. Lee was at the clearing, turning and smiling at Gaara with a bright grin. Gaara felt his heart ache at just how handsome his boyfriend was.

“There you are kitten, what took you so…” Lee started to say when he saw Gaara’s face. Gaara felt his heart skip and ache when they landed on those eyes, the soft brown that held so much emotion. “Gaara what is wrong?” Gaara’s shoulder shook and he sniffed as tears began to fall.  

Lee closed the distance between them easily, his strong arms circling around Gaara’s body and drawing him into his chest. Gaara couldn’t help but feel his heart ache despite the loving embrace. Lee’s scent was all around him and Gaara knew he would miss this when Lee left him. Lee pressed his lips to Gaara’s red hair and whispered softly to him words Gaara couldn’t quite hear. Gaara took a shaky breath and pulled away a little, lifting his hand to wipe his eyes.

“You...you’re going to leave aren’t you?” Gaara managed after a long moment, trying to wipe away his tears. Lee looked down at Gaara confused, cupping the side of Gaara’s face and the redhead tried to shake him off.

“I-I heard someone say your motorcycle is fixed...you are going to leave me…” Gaara said as he pulled away from Lee, finding it to be one of the hardest things he had ever done. “I should have known…” Gaara moved to run away when hand curled around his wrist.

"Yes, my bike is fixed and yes, I will be going home.” Lee said as he looked down at Gaara. A fresh wave of tears washed over Gaara’s eyes as he struggled to free himself from Lee’s grip. His heart was breaking, aching in his chest and threatening to break him open.

How could he have been so stupid, how could he think that this was love? That someone as sinful and dirty as he was deserved love of any kind let alone from another man? Gaara tried to run again when Lee’s arms were around him, pulling him close again and trying to comfort him.

“But I had no intention of leaving you behind.” Lee said fiercely, grabbing Gaara by the shoulders and looking down at him. He lifted his hand and wiped away Gaara’s tears, his own expression softening.

“Tomorrow morning I am going back home...and I want you to come with me,” Lee confessed, his own eyes pricking with tears. “I love you, Gaara No Subaku and I want to take you away from this place, away from your father and this bigoted town.” Gaara’s tears stopped for a moment as he looked up at Lee in shock.

“Y-you love me...but I thought that…” Gaara started to speak but Lee shook his head, eyes softening as he took Gaara’s face in his hands. “Father always said…” Lee pressed his forehead to Gaara’s and softly spoke.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Lee quoted softly, stroking Gaara’s tears away with his thumb. “I love you with all of my being Gaara. The way you laugh, the way your eyes darken when you are happy and even the way your nose crinkles at me when you are mad at me…”  Gaara stopped Lee right there with a desperate kiss, pressing their lips together before pulling away and sniffling again.

“I-I love you too…” Gaara said, meaning every word as he stared into Lee’s eyes. “I didn’t think I would ever feel this way...I thought that since we were...It’s a sin, Lee…” Lee shook his head and held Gaara to him as the redhead buried his face in Lee’s neck.

“The only sin here is your father telling everyone lies,” Lee said as he kissed Gaara’s cheeks. Lee took Gaara’s hand, laying it over his heart. “My heart only beats for you Gaara...I will never leave you alone. So please, come with me and stay with me.”

Gaara bit his lip, weighing the decision in his mind. He could leave, finally be free of the oppression of his father and be free to live life how he wanted. But the people would talk, this could destroy his father…

“My father isn’t home, we can go get my things and leave tomorrow morning…” Gaara said, smiling brightly. He was happier than he had ever been in his life as Lee grabbed his hand, leading him out of the clearing and out to the quiet street. Lee’s motorcycle was parked off to the side, the large black machine looking bright in the starlight as Lee lifted the seat and took out two helmets. Lee smiled sheepishly as he handed a red one to Gaara.

“I hoped you would say yes...so I had this made for you,” Lee said happily, fitting the helmet over Gaara’s head and smiling brightly when the man looked up. “I cannot have the man I love riding on the back of my bike without some protection.”

Lee took off his jacket, his sleeveless shirt showing off his strong arms, fully covered in tattoos and making Gaara blush as he put the large jacket over Gaara. Gaara lifted his hand and ghosted over the tattoos he had seen so many times. The green Japanese dragon that looped around Lee's upper arm against a backdrop of lotus blossoms on his left, the archangel on his right, whose wings disappeared under Lee’s shirt and the Rosary circling under the angel’s feet with roses and light.  

The smaller man put his arms through the sleeves, the leather was warm and Gaara found that it smelled like Lee, his eyes lingering on the tattoos as Lee got onto the bike, turning his body to help Gaara onto it and wrapping the man's arms around his waist. The beautiful brown eyes sparkled as Lee revved the engine.

“Hang on tight, kitten.” Lee said as he turned to kick the bike off. The wind whipped through Gaara’s body as he held onto the man tightly. The engine roared as they started to move, Gaara hanging on tightly to Lee as they moved down the small dirt road and connected onto the street.

He now understood what Lee meant by his love of riding, this felt amazing. The wind moving through his body, the town and buildings whipping past them. It almost felt like flying as they tore through the streets to Gaara’s house. Is this what freedom felt like? Gaara wondered as he pressed his cheek to Lee’s back and felt his warmth radiating off of him.

When they arrived at the small, white two-story home, the dirt from the driveway kicking up as they moved around the front of the house. They parked outside, Gaara padding up the steps of the wide front porch to open the small blue door and let Lee inside. Lee looked around the small, clean house as Gaara ushered him upstairs to his room. Gaara's room was small, the smallest room in the house with a full sized bed that was made neatly with the corners folded. Gaara grabbed his red backpack, empty from not being in school and started throwing things into it.

He grabbed his mother’s bible from his nightstand and the photo album full of precious photos of his siblings. He kept those hidden under his bed, kept away from his father who liked to pretend Kankuro and Temari were dead. Lee helped Gaara pack, grabbing some clothes for the redhead and taking care to grab his toothbrush and other essentials.

“Konoha is only about three days from here so we can get you more clothes when we get there,” Lee said as he sat on the bed. “I have an apartment there that’s just been sitting while I have been away but it is big enough for the two of us.” Gaara laid the bag down, his emotions buzzing.

Everything was about to change, he was worried. What if Lee decided he didn't want this? What if he decided he wasn't worth it? All these thoughts buzzed in Gaara’s head when he felt rough hands take his. Gaara looked down at Lee and felt all his worry disappear when his eyes met Lee’s.

Lee’s eyes were filled with gentleness, a love that Gaara could never recall ever seeing anyone stare at him with so much emotion. Gaara’s heart felt full as he let Lee pulled him into his arms, guiding him onto his lap and kissed his temple.

“I am sorry…” Lee said softly as he reached up to run his fingers through Gaara’s hair. “You are about to give up everything for this...I wish I could take this burden from you.” Gaara turned, straddling Lee's lap and running his fingers through the man's hair. The black locks were soft under his fingers as he looked at Lee.

“Faith, hope and love are the greatest things given to us,” Gaara said softly as he felt his heart warm. “I have faith that this is the right decision and I am choosing love over everything.”

Gaara leaned forward and kissed Lee's lips gently, pulling back for a moment to gaze into the brown eyes he had loved since he first saw them. Lee was so handsome to him, so amazing and strong in every way that he was not. He was glad he had this man to lean on right now as he tried to understand why he wasn’t sad.

He was about to leave everything he had ever known, leave his home and what was left of his family just for a man that he had only known for six months. But something seemed to be calling him, showing him that this was the right decision.

“I don't think I will regret this...I trust you and I trust God...so that is enough.” Gaara said as Lee's arms wrapped tightly around him.

“I will not betray that trust, you are mine to love and protect. I promise to love you and cherish you and I never break my promises.” Lee said, the words almost sounding like a proposal.

Gaara looked down at his ring, staring at it for a moment and swiftly taking it off. He reached and found the cross that hung around Lee's neck, a simple metal cross that the man often wore hidden under his shirt. Lee always said that faith was something that should be felt, not seen or boasted about. Gaara looped the ring through it and replaced it over Lee's neck and looked down at it. Lee's eyes widened when he looked down at the ring.

“This was my mother’s...she gave it to my father in their wedding night to show her love and devotion to him,” Gaara explained as he looked at Lee with love and devotion in his dark green eyes. “It's one of the few things I have left of her and I have been wearing it. Saving myself for the person I loved to come into my life.”

Lee bit his lip, tears welling in his eyes as Gaara hooked his hands under his shirt, pulling it off his head and pressing himself against Lee. He tried to find the words to communicate what he wanted, what he decided.

“I-I want to give myself to you and only you Lee...you have my heart...this is the last part,” Gaara said nervously as he ran his hands down Lee's chest. “Please...make love to me…”

Lee sniffed, wiping his eyes and running his rough hands up Gaara’s back. His eyes softened and he suddenly looked sad.

“You would not be my first…” Lee said softly, his voice full of regret as he lowered his gaze. “I am not sure I deserve such a gift.” Gaara could hear the heaviness in Lee’s voice, the uncertainty. Lee didn’t want him to feel forced and Gaara felt his eyes soften at the man he loved. Gaara took Lee's face in his hand, shaking his head and running his thumb over Lee's cheek.

“I don't care, be my first and show me how,” Gaara said as he felt his body heating from Lee's loving touches. “I only want you.” He pressed his lips to Lee's and the man hummed in pleasure.

Lee moved, pinning Gaara beneath him as the kiss deepened and the touches became more loving. Gaara’s breath hitched as Lee’s calloused hands moved over his body, feeling down him as if trying to commit every part of his body to memory. When Lee pulled away, lifting his body up to remove his own shirt, Gaara felt his heart pounding in his ears. Lee leaned back down, pressing kisses all over Gaara’s and whispering softly against his skin.

“I love you.” Lee said as his hands wandered lower on Gaara's body. “I will be gentle. Just relax and I will show you what to do.”

And that night, as he laid beneath Lee and called out his name into the night, Gaara knew he made the right decision.

 

O0o0o0o0o0o0

 

The next morning, Gaara was met with a sore body but his heart felt full as he helped Lee load the bike with what they needed. They took only simple things, Gaara was dressed in one of Lee’s shirts and his only pair of jeans, the material hung on him and comforted him with the scent of Lee. The warmth of it was a comfort as he looked back at what had been his home for eighteen years. The porch, the door, the small windows and peeling white paint. The weight of the change should be weighing on him but Gaara felt light and free. More free than he had ever felt.

Lee watched Gaara as the man stood outside his childhood home, eyes sad but hopeful as they looked at him. Lee took the man's hand in his own, intertwining their fingers. Gaara blushed and smiled up at him.

“Are you ready to go, Kitten?” Lee said with his bright smile, making Gaara's heart flutter in his chest. “You can still change your mind...I do not want you to feel like you have to do this.” Gaara raised a non-existent brow and took a step toward Lee.

He smiled his small smile and laid his hands on Lee’s chest, fingering the ring on Lee’s chain. It was warm on his fingers, hot from being pressed against Lee’s body.

“For the first time in a long time, I feel like I am free…” Gaara said, standing on the tips of his toes to press a kiss to Lee’s lips. “I love you and I can’t wait to take this next step with you.” Lee’s grin widened as he wrapped his arms around Gaara and pulled him close.

“That makes me very happy to hear,” Lee said as he pulled away, kissing Gaara’s forehead. “Wait right here, I just need to grab my bag from your room and we can head out.” Lee pulled away and moved toward the house. Gaara watched Lee head inside, heart feeling very warm as he watched the man he loved disappear. Gaara smiled up at his home and silently thanked god for helping him find this man. Lee was so amazing and the love he was feeling for Lee filled him with a happiness he could never recall feeling.

Then suddenly, he heard the familiar sputter of an engine pulling into the drive. His face drained of color as his father’s truck parked in the driveway and the preacher stepped out. Gaara’s eyes widened as he took a step back toward Lee’s motorcycle, fear filling him as he stared up at his very angry father.

“What in the name of all that is holy is going on here?” The man boomed as he stepped out of the beaten old truck. Gaara licked his lips nervously as he met his father’s eyes, taking another step back towards the house. Rasa scanned Gaara, looking over the shirt that hung over him.

“What the hell are you wearing, go take that…” Rasa started to say when the sleeve slipped off Gaara’s shoulder, revealing several fresh hickeys and love bites all along his collarbone and neck. Rasa’s eyes widened before his eyebrows crashed down in anger. He charged forward, grabbing Gaara roughly by his arm and pulling down the collar of the shirt.

“What the hell are these?” Rasa growled as he shook Gaara roughly, grabbing at Gaara’s chin to force his head to the side so he could look. “What have you been doing while I was gone?” Gaara shook his head and tried to break away from his father’s bruising grip.

“Let go, that hurts.” Gaara said as he struggled. Rasa lifted his other hand, punching Gaara in the head to stop his struggle. Gaara’s vision swam for a moment as his father shook him again.

“You will tell me where these came from.” Rasa spat as he moved to drag Gaara inside. “And who gave these to…” it was then that Lee stepped outside, bag in hand as he looked at the scene before him.

“What the hell are you doing in my…” Rasa started to say when Gaara saw the realization wash over his face. He looked back down at Gaara and narrowed his eyes, the dark irises filled with hatred and disgust.

“You little whore,” Rasa growled as he backhanded Gaara hard across the face. “You let that heathen touch you! Let him lead you into sin.” Gaara whimpered and held his hand up to his cheek as his father lifted his hand again.

Then Gaara watched Lee appear at his side, grabbing Rasa by the wrist and wrenching Gaara free of his father’s grasp. Lee stepped in front of Gaara as Rasa moved toward them, shielding him from the man's wrath. Rasa narrowed his eyes as he looked toward Gaara.

“Did you enjoy having this demon fuck you like a dirty slut?” Rasa growled as he glared at his son, fists clenching at his sides. “How dare you spit on me by wearing his clothing, letting this sodomite touch you?” Gaara opened his mouth and closed it again, not sure what to say in response as his eyes went to his feet.

“Do not speak to him that way.” Lee said loudly, eyebrows crashing down as he turned to Gaara and his eyes softened briefly. “Go get on the bike Gaara, I will talk to him.” Rasa’s head whipped to Lee and he took a step forward.

“He will do no such thing!” Rasa growled, his face growing red in his anger. “You are a sodomite, come to take my son into the clutches of the devil.” Lee glared at the man, his fist clenching in front of his as he tried to control his temper.

“I love him, he is coming of his own free will,” Lee said as Gaara watched his father grow angrier, his shoulders shaking and eyes filled with hatred. “I do not want to hurt you but if you touch him again, I will be forced to use violence against you.” Gaara but his lip, not wanting his boyfriend hurt and not wanting his father to be hurt either.

“Please, father just listen…” Gaara tried to say when Rasa shot him a glare.

“Love? You speak of love as if you know what it means boy!” Rasa shouted, turning to glare at Gaara, his eyes dripping with malice and anger. “This demon will condemn your soul to hell and leave you broken. He will use you like a whore and leave you for dead!” Gaara stepped in front of Lee, shaking his head as angry tears filled his eyes.

“No, I love Lee and he loves me...I will not give you power over me any longer.” Gaara said as his shoulders shook in rage. “Please, father if you would just listen you will see that you are wrong about this…” How could something so wonderful, how could something that made Gaara feel so complete be wrong? Why would any god condemn his children just for loving someone…

Rasa glared at his son, moving toward him aggressively as he raised his hand. Gaara flinched as he prepared for the slap but as the sound of skin hitting skin rang out, Gaara opened his eyes when the pain never came.

Lee’s head was held high, his mouth bleeding slightly from his split lip and a red spot on his cheek. The man stared at Rasa, eyes filled with pity as Gaara felt his tears drip down his cheeks. Lee had been hurt, had taken a hit meant for him. No one had ever done that before.

“You are a hateful man, you see corruption everywhere except within your own cold heart,” Lee said as he wiped his mouth, fists clenched as he turned away. “The only good thing you have ever created is the man I love and for that I am grateful. I hope one day you realize the error of your ways and seek the forgiveness of god.” Rasa took a step back as Lee looked up at him for just a moment before turning to Gaara. The man lifted his hand, cupping Gaara’s bruised cheek and wiping away the tears he found there. Gaara leaned into it, lifting his own hand and touching the developing bruise on Lee’s cheek.

“Come on my love, let us leave this place.” Lee said as he moved toward his bike, sitting onto it and fitting on his helmet. He turned to Gaara, holding out his hand and his eyes bright as Gaara looked back to his father. Rasa’s face was hard as he looked at his son, fierce dark eyes meeting Gaara’s with a coldness that Gaara wished was out of place on the man. Rasa held his head high as if he had already passed his judgment onto Gaara. The judgment that Gaara knew was not his to give.

“If you leave with him, I will not take you back,” Rasa growled, glaring into Gaara’s eyes as if he was trying to pierce into the redhead’s very soul. “You will be dead to me.” Gaara blinked at his father, looking at him and feeling a sense of pity filling his chest.

“I am sorry, Father,” Gaara said as he turned, getting onto Lee’s bike and putting on the helmet that Lee handed him. Gaara wrapped his arms around his boyfriend’s waist and hung on tight as the engine revved. Gaara didn’t look back as they left his father in a cloud of dust, leaving the broken man alone. He instead looked ahead, staring at Lee’s back and smiling as the last bits of his doubts loosened. Tears finally fell from Gaara’s eyes later that night, tears of joy mixed with the pity he felt for his father and the loss of all he had known.

But when Gaara was in a small motel with Lee, held tight by strong arms and comforted by a soft voice, Gaara felt warmth and love.

 

0o0oo0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0

 

It was early Sunday morning by the time Lee and Gaara arrived in Konoha nearly three days later. The town was small but bustling and happy, Lee parking his bike in front of a small, white church that had a large group of people gathered in front of it. There were people of all kinds, some heavily tattooed and dressed in black while others were dressed in typical Sunday clothes.

Gaara wrinkled his brow at his boyfriend as the man kicked up the stand and took off his helmet. Why had they stopped? Gaara suddenly felt very nervous at seeing the church. He had never been to one other than his father’s...He wasn’t sure why Lee would stop at a place that would only cause more judgment to be hurled at them. Gaara had seen it, even in the cities on their way to Konoha. The stares, the whispers when Gaara would feel Lee’s arm around him or when the man kissed his cheek. Gaara was tired of judgment, tired of feeling and hearing the hateful speech thrown at them.

“Lee, why are we here...I don’t think this is such a good idea,” Gaara said as he got off of the bike and stood awkwardly, his arms crossed in front of his chest as he wrinkled his nose. “I know that going to church is a good thing but I really don’t feel like dealing with everyone judging us today…” Lee smiled, getting off his bike and taking his helmet to put under the seat.

“I promise you Gaara, this is not like your father’s church,” Lee said as he held out his hand to take Gaara’s helmet. The redhead sighed and handed his boyfriend the helmet reluctantly. He was still uncomfortable but he was too tired to argue as Lee put away their helmets and reached for Gaara’s hand.

The group of people had already gone inside of the building, voices and loud talking could be heard as Lee put his hand on the door and opened it.

Gaara’s eyes widened as the energy of the church hit him, the people in the congregation happily smiling up at the man who stood in front of the people. Everyone here radiated happiness and light, so unlike the fear and quiet judgment of Gaara’s old church. Every pew was full to bursting, forcing Lee to stand by the door and in the walkway. Lee was holding Gaara’s hand tightly, comforting him as Gaara stood stiffly next to him.

The preacher at the front of the room smiled widely, his large hands waving out as he started to speak in a loud, booming voice. Gaara instantly recognized the man, this man had to have some relation to the one that stood next to him. He seemed too preoccupied with his sermon to notice the stragglers that had wandered inside.

“Hello, children of god and followers of the faith. I see some new faces here today as well as old. It is always good to have those who come to hear god’s word. Among us, I see so many different types of people.” The man started, smiling brightly at all the people around. Gaara followed the man’s gaze and noticed for the first time the people gathered.

Two women seated next to each other, a blond woman clasping the hand of a pink haired girl while another couple, these two both men sat next to each other with bright smiles. Gaara saw tattooed women, small, feminine men and large muscular women of varying skin tones and sizes. There were children with two mothers that straightened their clothes or two fathers that fixed their ties. Gaara felt his whole body freeze in shock.

“We are all children of man, children of woman, but perhaps most importantly, we are all children of God. As I look around the room, I see so many people who are like me. We don't look alike on the outside. No, some are gay and straight, black, white or brown skinned, fat and thin, man and woman, self-proclaimed saint and recognized sinner.” The preacher said as he came to stand near the bottom of the transept to the aisle. His soft brown eyes looked around with love and caring, not a hint of anger or hate in his voice as he lifted a large, wrapped book in his hands.

“One of God’s biggest challenges of us all is to learn to see past the surface of things, to see the true worth of something despite appearances. To the deepest nature of people and the deepest nature of people is to love and be loved.” The preacher said as he held up his book, staring down at it and smiling. “We live through times, times where it feels as if all that surrounds us is the hate of others. We are raised to feel ashamed, to feel as if these feelings we have in our hearts are wrong. But I tell you now, brothers and sisters that love is love and no matter what those who would spread that the love between the same sex is false, it is they who shall be proven false.”

Gaara wasn’t prepared for Lee to move, releasing his hand and moving towards the middle of the aisle. The man drew the attention of the congregation and smiled widely as he shouted above the crowd and Gaara could feel emotions welling in his chest again.

“Because love that cannot be swept aside by the hate of others, love that endures the hate of others and bears all hate thrown towards it is not false.” Lee cried out and smiled at the preacher when the man’s large eyebrows rose up in surprise. Lee smiled brightly as the congregation burst out in cheers, Lee smiling broadly as the rest of the sermon continued with his hand firmly grasping Gaara’s.

 

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0

 

Gaara wasn’t prepared for what happened after the congregation let out. as the preacher smiled, walking to close the gap between himself and Lee. The preacher embraced Lee with a happy grin, Lee’s own arms going around him.

Gaara blinked as another man appeared from the first row of pews, his silver hair standing on end as he padded up behind the men. Lee’s eyes welled as the preacher embraced him, followed by several other people that greeted him brightly.

“I see that my wayward son has returned.” the preacher said brightly as he took Lee’s face in his hands, his own tears streaming down his cheeks. “Lee...I have missed you.” The other man chuckled as he put a hand on the preachers shoulder.

“Gai, I think you are going to suffocate him before I can get my hugs in.” The man said as he pulled Lee into a hug. “What happened to your face? What did I say about getting into fights?” Gaara stood awkwardly behind as Lee was hugged and fussed over. He had no idea what was going on...did his lover know these men?

“Dad, Papa...I missed you so much.” Lee said as he released the silver haired man. “And I am fine, it could not be avoided.” Gaara blinked at that, surprise making his brain short circuit for a moment. Did Lee have...two fathers? Gaara did not know what to say or do as Lee interacted with the two men for a moment. Gaara felt his heart swell with love. He was happy to know that Lee’s fathers were so different from his own and the love they clearly all felt for each other made Gaara feel...oddly sad.

Then Lee smiled at his father's, pulling away to back towards Gaara.

“Dad, Papa, there is someone I want you both to meet,” Lee said as he turned to Gaara and extended his hand to the redhead. Gaara blinked up at Lee, looking towards the other two men and looking away in embarrassment. He was dirty, his hair standing on end, his clothes wrinkled from the road and suddenly he was meeting the parents of his lover.   

But when Lee smiled at him, those big brown eyes looking at him with so much love, as if he was the most beautiful thing in the world and Gaara suddenly felt the embarrassment leave him. Gaara’s eyes softened and he took Lee’s extended hand. The older man brought him toward him, wrapping an arm around Gaara’s waist and holding their hands to his chest.

“Dad, Papa, This is Gaara No Subaku,” Lee said happily, running his thumb along the hand he held in his own. “My boyfriend, the one I told you about in my letters.” Gaara’s eyes widened and he looked at Lee in surprise. Had Lee talked about him to his parents?

The preacher looked at Lee and then back down to Gaara before smiling widely. He walked forward and pulled Gaara into a crushing hug. Gaara blinked again as he tried to think of what to do as the preacher pulled away, eyes shining with tears.

“Welcome home son,” Gai said brightly as he slung an arm around Gaara’s shoulders. “I am Gai Maito, Lee’s father and head of the church. I welcome you to our humble church and hope you feel right at home.” Gaara relaxed slightly at the man’s warm welcome as he pointed toward the other man. “And this is my partner, Kakashi Hatake. Lee’s other father. He handles the finances of the church and teaches the Sunday school.” Kakashi smiled warmly at Gaara, his dark eyes looking him over.

“Well, it seems like Lee finally found someone he cares enough about to bring home,” Kakashi said happily, chuckling. “I hope you’ll stay for dinner tonight Gaara.” Gaara nodded, his own smile turning up the corners of his mouth.

“T-thank you…” He said as the silver haired man cocked his head at him. “You truly have an amazing son.” Lee turned red as he looked down at Gaara, leaning forward to kiss Gaara on the head. Gai tapped his chin as he crossed his arms.

“No Subaku...I feel like I have heard that name before…” The man said when suddenly, there was a shout that sent a shiver of shock running down Gaara’s spine for the third time today.

“I am telling you Temari…” The voice said when suddenly, there was a gasp. “Gaara? Is that you?” Gaara turned toward the door. There in the front of the church, standing with shock in their eyes, were Gaara’s siblings.

Kankuro was taller, filled out since the last time Gaara had seen him as he stood dressed in all black with purple eyeshadow on his eyes. Temari was blonder and her skin sun-kissed as they ran toward him, her long hair flying out behind her as they suddenly rammed into Gaara. Gaara felt tears in his eyes as his brother wrapped him in his arms and Temari embraced them both. Lee stood back, blinking in confusion as he looked at the scene before him. Gaara clung to his siblings. He had thought he had lost his whole family, had they been only three days away this whole time?

“Kankuro...Temari…” Gaara said as he clung to them, crying as he held them tightly as if they would disappear if he let go. “How...why are you here?”

“My boyfriend lives here and so does Temari's fiancé…So when we left the old man we came here and found the church...” Kankuro said as he pulled away. “What are you doing here...I thought you were home with the old man.” Gaara winced at the mention of his father.

“I...I left.” Gaara said simply as he reached up, touching his cheek where his father had bruised it. Kankuro blinked as he looked at Temari, her eyes softening in sadness as she gently cupped his cheek.

“Oh, Gaara...I am so sorry…” Temari said as she held his face in her hands. “But you're safe now...but how did you even get here? I would have thought that dad had you convinced of his bullshit.” Gaara felt his heart loosen slightly as he turned back to Lee.

His boyfriend stood next to his father's, waiting patiently for Gaara to explain things. Gaara smiled up at his boyfriend, cheeks turning pink as Lee walked forward, taking his lover’s silent invitation. The man touched Gaara’s shoulder and Gaara lifted his hand to touch Lee’s.

“Kankuro, Temari, this is Lee...He’s the reason I left.” Gaara said as Lee looked at the two people in front of him. “He...he came into town and we fell in love. He showed me that father was wrong...so wrong.” Temari’s eyes widened and her and Kankuro exchanged glances, part of Gaara still worried as smiles slowly spread across faces.

“I guess it makes sense that the most anti-gay preacher in lightning country would have two son’s who end up with guys.” Kankuro said happily as he pulled his brother into another hug before pulling away to shake Lee’s hand.

Then, together the two families went to Lee’s family home for dinner. There was joy and happiness and noise but most of all there was love. And for the first time in his life, Gaara finally felt at peace.

 

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0

 

Pale green eyes gazed down at the book in his hands, a small black leather bound bible. Gaara No Subaku held the book in his hands as he straightened his clerical collar and walked out onto the transept to stand at his small podium. The congregation had gathered before him, varying types of people in the pews. Mother’s straightened their children’s clothing, Father’s talked to other father’s and families of all types filled the pews. Gaara’s eyes wandered to the front row pew, eyes softening as he saw the people sitting there.

Kankuro and Temari both sat on the edge. Kankuro with his arm around his husband, Kiba and Temari fussing over her small son, Shikadai as he rested in his sleeping father’s lap. Shikamaru never could stay awake during sermons. Gaara shook his head as his eyes landed on the last two people in that row. Lee was seated near Temari, his grin bright as he talked to the woman about something Gaara couldn’t quite here. a small child wearing a green shirt and smiling broadly as his father balanced him on his knee. The toddler smiled up at Gaara when he spotted him up on the transept, large eyebrows moved up as he squealed in joy.

“Mama!” the toddler said happily and Gaara felt himself chuckle at his young son. He waved at the child before turning to look at Lee. Lee looked up when their son called out, his eyes softening as he looked up at Gaara and waved, making Gaara blush. The ring on Lee’s left hand glinted in the light as Gaara gazed down at the gold band he wore on his left hand now.

Even after being together for almost five years and having a child together, Gaara still blushed whenever he looked into those big brown eyes. He was glad that their son, Metal, had inherited such pretty eyes from Lee. Gaara cleared his throat, opening to a page in his bible and taking out his sermon notes. He took a deep breath as the room quieted, waiting for him to speak. Gaara looked around the room and let out a breath.

“I see we have a big turnout this Sunday,” Gaara said as he gave a small smile to the crowd. “Some of you are new, some of you are old faces but to those who have never been here, I welcome you. You know it was not too long ago that a complete stranger wandered into my father’s church, this church you are sitting in.”

Gaara gestured around the building and his face grew somewhat melancholic. His father had died nearly three years ago but the heaviness of Gaara’s heart was still there. He had been unable to convince his father in the end and the man had not lived long enough to meet his grandchildren, a regret that still weighed heavy on him.

“As some but not all know, my father was a hateful man. He preached the word of god but seldom did he heed his own words. He tried to teach me to hate, to only love that which is already perfect, to judge someone based on the surface.” Gaara continued as his eyes locked with Lee’s, his heart filling with love as Lee smiled at him. “But god works in mysterious ways...and despite what I was told, one day a stranger wandered into my father’s church and challenged everything I knew to be true. I did not know at the time but god had sent me the man that I now call my husband.”

Gaara locked eyes with Lee briefly before he laid his hand over his heart, the warmth and emotion threatening to overwhelm him when he saw tears brimming in Lee’s eyes as Gaara stared into them. Gaara sniffed and turned back to his congregation.

“I feel that God sent my husband there that day and he guided us to each other. No matter what hardships we face, I know that god is with us through everything.” Gaara continued as the crowd watched him with rapt attention. “Because despite all the hate that some people possess, despite the anger they feel whenever they see two men together or two women raising a child, We are all children of god and no matter what, love is love. True love cannot be washed away or broken it is forever imprinted on you…” Gaara chuckled as he smiled at Lee, locking eyes with him again and hoping his lover knew how much he loved him.

“Because Love bears all things, believes all things and endures all things. Love never ends.” Gaara said as he moved to bow his head to lead the prayer. “Let us all pray. Pray for those who are still under the chains of their hate, for those who have been lost because of that hate. Let us pray that the true light of god turn them from their hate and show them the path of love and that same love guide those lost to us home to God’s loving embrace.” As he looked out the corner of his eye, he saw Lee. The man’s long black braid fell over his shoulder as he bowed his head, Metal cooing in his lap. Gaara chuckled as Lee peeked one eye open and winked at him, mouth curled in a teasing grin.

And for the eighth time that day, Gaara thanked god for giving him his home and family. He could not be thankful enough for the happiness in his chest as he bowed his head to pray properly.