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A Youthful Friendship; A Deadly Match [Part Two]
YOUTH!
doryokunotensa wrote in red_moon_comm
Gaara had his back to the door, doing his best to ignore the twitching muscles beneath his clothes, the anticipation growing. He’d removed his jacket, and had adjusted his clothing a bit to be able to move more comfortably. His eyes were closed and his breathing was steady and slow, ears listening for when Lee was going to come outside.

It was hard for him to not simply turn and launch an attack immediately as soon as Lee stepped onto the ground. He wanted to fight more than he had in a long time and Lee needed to hurry up with his damn tortoise so the redhead didn’t have to wait anymore.

Lee’s eyes fell on Gaara the moment he was outside, noting the way the redhead seemed to be incredibly tense. He could see Gaara’s profile, the way his eyes were closed in concentration. It did not look as though the redhead were very calm, and Lee thought it best to hurry up. He quickly went around the corner to Ningame’s rather large pen, and set the bowl out for the tortoise, who was currently sleeping in the sunshine. He smiled, then hurried back to Gaara, self-consciously patting his body to make sure the spandex looked all right.

He cleared his throat, standing a safe distance away from Gaara, straight and tall, hands at his sides, ready to bow, or if need be, jump out of the line of attack. Lee had not expected this side of Gaara, but he would do his best not to be too trusting of the redhead, despite what he wanted to do. “We can start now, Sabaku-san,” he said slowly, beginning a very short bow, not at all like his usual, his eyes firmly planted on Gaara.

Gaara turned at the noise, his expression schooled now, calmer and less manic. This was just a friendly fight, after all. Or so Gaara had to keep telling himself. Lee wasn't an enemy.

He did note the more serious, less playful expression on Lee's face now and that pleased him. He had been trained to be a killer at a young age. No one should take him lightly, even if it was just a simple match between 'friends'.

The redhead offered a stiff, short bow before he launched himself at Lee with surprising quickness. He aimed three rapid-fire punches, one high to the left, one low on that same side and one in the middle. Another test to gauge Lee's reaction time.

Lee's eyes went wide, and before he had the chance to fall into a stance he was dodging punches, first to the right, then he had to block a low punch with a quick swipe of his arm, before his other arm came flying out from the side to grab Gaara's wrist. He pulled the redhead forward by his wrist, aiming a blow with the butt of his hand at Gaara's sternum, his eyes determined, his mouth turned up in a triumphant grin at one corner. "Koko," he whispered to himself, flying forward.

Gaara refused to be so easily caught. Though his left wrist was now “trapped”, and a blow was coming at his chest, Gaara knew he could get out if it. He blocked the attacking arm with his free hand, using the momentum to turn in toward Lee until his back was to the other man, with Lee’s arm, still holding his wrist, wrapped around his waist. Glaring over his shoulder, he raised his elbow toward Lee’s face, hoping to hear the satisfying sound of the blow connecting.

Lee saw the elbow coming at him almost too late. His body was too close to Gaara’s making it more difficult to easily evade the attack, but he managed to move his head out of the way behind Gaara’s just in time. His free hand came up between their bodies, pressing against Gaara’s right shoulder, and using the grip he had on Gaara’s left wrist to pull the redhead to the side, and then push him out in a dancer-like turn. With Gaara’s left wrist still in hand, Lee used it to propel himself faster, lifting his left leg high in the air for a side kick aimed at Gaara’s unguarded chest.

Pale eyes went wide as he was spun out, having to take a moment to orient himself. It was a bit too long, as he barely managed to raise his free arm in an effort to block the blow. Gaara had to do his best to brace himself, a look of mild confusion coming to his face as the blow hit, an odd-sounding thud accompanying it. He had to pull away, the vulnerable position not giving him an opportunity for a better method of defense. He needed to get away from Lee; he needed to--

He frowned, gaze flicking down as his arm suddenly throbbed more painfully than he’d expected, that calm expression disappearing almost instantly from his face as his eyes went back to Lee’s face threateningly.

Lee did not waste another moment. The moment his leg connected with Gaara’s arm, the sound of his weights hitting the redhead’s raised arm making Lee grin to himself for a second, he loosened his grip, slapped Gaara’s hand away, and then back flipped farther away from the shorter man. He had not expected the redhead to be so quick, and realised that he should have taken his weights off before they started fighting.

He glanced up quickly, noticing the frown on Gaara’s face, before he was pulling his legwarmers up and his leg weights off in record time. He had practised taking them off over and over for just such instances as this one, and he was glad he had. Gaara would not wait for Lee to remove the hindrance of his leg weights, and Lee could not afford to stand still against such a strong opponent.

It was true that Gaara wasn’t about to wait. The blow to his arm, the pain it had caused, was making him see red, just a bit. Lee was starting to fade into the background, becoming a nameless and faceless foe for Gaara to fight as he lost himself to the demons of his past.

A slightly feral growl escaped his throat as he launched himself forward toward the “defenseless” man before him, attacking a bit wilder, though there was more power behind each punch and kick Gaara threw.

Lee had barely managed to get both of his weights off, and hadn’t had time to push them out of the way when Gaara came hurtling towards him, like an angry animal ready to kill. Lee rolled out of the way, somersaulting several times before he righted himself, resting on one knee. He was blocking kicks before he could even get his barings--left, right, left, right--and he could see no way out of this. Gaara’s form had relaxed into something less refined and more instinctual, and his ceaseless movements were giving Lee a run for his money. It was exciting, and a little bit worrisome because the look in Gaara’s eyes told Lee that if he wasn’t careful he would get seriously hurt.

Another kick was aimed at Lee’s head, and he caught it in both hands, looking up to Gaara, trying to come up with a plan to knock the redhead back a few paces and force him to defend instead of attack.

Leg finally caught, Gaara’s thoughts immediately went back to punching, aiming fully for the side of this enemy’s head. If he could catch him right in the temple, that would certainly keep the man at bay for a while. But damn! How had he gotten so much faster? The weights! Of course. Who knew what other hidden weapons and things were on this man’s person.

Balancing on one foot, determined to get his hit in before the other man could block it. He had to if he was going to survive this encounter.

Lee’s eyes went impossibly wide as Gaara’s fist came at him, his own arm coming up to block it, before he pulled back, flattening his palm and flying forward to hit Gaara’s chest. It was mostly to knock the redhead off balance, and then he rose fully to his feet, pulling Gaara’s leg up with him and pushing it toward Gaara with as much force as he could muster, attempting to flip him over. He did not wait to see how Gaara reacted, his body moving on pure adrenaline as he pushed himself forward into a high kick, landing a blow to the side of Gaara’s head. It was faster and stronger without leg weights, and Lee’s mind, too distracted by fighting, had not registered that it might be a good idea to hold back.

Gaara managed to use his decent balance and flexibility to not fall on his ass with the attempted flip. It did, however, mean that he had to take a few extra moments to reorient himself, red head swinging around to look for the enemy’s next attack. It came without warning, the blow sending Gaara reeling to the side, slipping down to one knee as his vision blacked out for a moment. A wave of dizziness coursed through him as he rose. Blinking and trying to focus fully on the man before him, he stumbled forward, an animalistic cry escaping him as he aimed a mixture of kicks and blows toward any vital part of Lee’s body he could, unable to tell anymore that this was supposed to be a friendly little sparring match. To Gaara’s lost and confused mind, he was fighting for his life, as he’d had to long ago.

It was the way Gaara had cried out that made Lee realise how hard his kick must have been, and he felt guilty for all of five seconds before he was forced to fall back on offense completely, moving to avoid jabs that were aimed at vital organs. Suddenly, despite his usual attitude about quiting, Lee really wanted to end this match. He had pushed his worries aside, but now he could see that Gaara was not the same person he had been before; he could see that Gaara was aiming to kill him. This had stopped being a friendly match, and Lee wondered if it was his own fault for that last well placed kick to Gaara’s head.

“Sabaku-san, what are you--?” He was cut off as he dodged another jab at his liver. His mind was racing, going over any possible way to force Gaara far enough away from him so that he would be safe, without causing his friend serious injury. There were plenty of options open to Lee, but Gaara’s erratic behavior meant the softer moves would probably be blocked or go unnoticed, while the stronger moves could be too much. The best Lee could do was land a warning blow on Gaara’s ribs to force the redhead back.

Lee flipped into the air, moving far enough away that he would have time to prepare this particular attack. It was a difficult balance of power to maintain, and the wrong move could tear one of his own tendons, but if he applied too much force he could easily break bone. His concentration was shot though by Gaara, and without the proper time to focus, Lee’s own strength was too erratic. He ducked a blow, his arm pulled back and his index and middle finger straight, his eyes narrowed in concentration. His hand shot forward, his two fingers landing on Gaara’s ribcage. Lee felt the barest give as one of the ribs cracked slightly, and then he jumped farther back and out of the wild-eyed redhead’s reach.

If there was pain, Gaara didn’t feel it. Lee’s words did not reach his ears, the sound of his own heart pounding the only real sound he could hear. Nothing else was registering right now except for the fact that he needed to end this fight and get away. To do that, he needed to incapacitate Lee, now. No more fooling around. Once more he launched into a frenzied series of blows, hoping this time Lee’s quickness would slow. He needed to corner him, something, anything. In an effort to do just that, he attacked with a bit more focus and coordination, guiding Lee to where the man would not be able to escape. He would have him soon enough because his opponent was completely focused on him, and not on where he was going.

Lee had no other options open to him. He had noticed the shift in Gaara’s attacks, the heightened level of focus and coordination, and when he chanced a look from his peripheral vision, he could see that he was being back into a corner, between the wall of his house and the bamboo fence of Ningame’s pen. If Lee were prone to cursing, now would have been one of those moments when he used the foulest language he knew. Since he wasn’t, he mostly let his frustrations out through his fists, doing his best to justify and beat away the guilt as he focused on the spot he had just hit.

His back hit the wall of his house before he had managed to focus long enough, and he was blocking blows left and right, Gaara’s frenzied speed making it difficult for Lee to find an opening. Finally, at one particular moment, Lee dropped down, low to the ground, his palm flat again, his eyes locked on Gaara’s ribcage. He shot up from the ground, using his incredible leg muscles to propel him. The heel of his hand connected with that same spot where Gaara’s rib had cracked, making a clean break, the sound sending a surge of guilt through Lee.

He closed his eyes, apologizing silently for having to hurt his new friend; Gaara had left him no other choice, he had to remind himself, as he pressed himself back against the wall, trying to maintain a safe distance.

Gaara’s body twitched, the snap making him gasp slightly in surprise. His body bowed just a bit, hair obscuring his face, eyes closing tight. His hands were still up offensively, but he had gone still for the briefest of moments before his head snapped up, eyes flashing open, an angry light gleaming in them. He sank down into a crouch, his leg a blur as he kicked toward Lee’s shin, connecting firmly and with a satisfying crack of his own sounding.

Lee had been on the verge of approaching Gaara, sure that his friend had snapped out of whatever frenzied state he was in, when, in a flurry of movement, Gaara’s foot connected with his leg and he fell with a pained cry to the ground. He had broken bones in his body before--plenty of times, in fact. After all, martial arts was not the safest art form around, and Lee was certainly an extreme fighter. But, normally, when he was fighting in a tournament, or at the dojo, if someone was injured seriously, things were called to a halt. Of course, being a police officer, Lee could never rely on criminals to be that honourable, and though he did not like to think so uncharitably of his friend, he doubted Gaara would be either.

He had trained himself, through meditation, to ignore pain. As a martial artist, pain was a common experience, and knowing how to handle it was a valuable piece of knowledge. It did not mean he liked the pain, or that it did not hurt, and if he did not have the proper focus it was harder to pull off. In this moment, Lee was far too distracted by concern for his friend and worry for himself to properly focus on ignoring the pain. Tears welled in his eyes, and he bit his lip, looking up at Gaara from his place on the ground, the look in his wide eyes deeply injured. “Sa-Sabaku-san, I think we can stop now,” he tried, his voice choked.

Gaara’s lips twitched. “Begging for your life won’t help,” he said, voice dripping acid as he approached Lee on the ground. He wasn’t worried at all about any fight Lee might put up. It didn’t matter. Gaara wasn’t about to let such an attack on his person happen again. He was determined to end this now, which meant getting the man back up and really finishing it.

Lee swallowed, crawling backwards as best he could. He needed to get to his feet, but his legs were shaking, and the way Gaara was looking at him made his heart stutter in his chest. Standing seemed like a bad idea also because Gaara would take that as incentive to keep going. Lee would love to finish this fight, he really would--the idea of giving up made his skin crawl, and gave him the mad urge to do hundreds of challenges in penance--but if they kept going, Lee was sure that broken bones would be the least of their worries.

“Sa-Sabaku-san, please. We have finished. You--you have won, all right?” he tried, now pressed against the house again. He needed to move to a more open area, someplace Gaara wouldn’t have the upper hand. He looked around for an opening, as Gaara stalked nearer, his eyes shooting this way and that. “Please, stop.”

Gaara tilted his head a little awkwardly, the look on his face truly that of a predator closing in on its prey. When he knew Lee was stuck, he leaned in to grab at the man’s throat, free hand snagging the wrist of the arm that came up in defense. As he yanked Lee up rather violently, he twisted the hand he held, wanting to hear that sickening crunch of bones, to know that the man would be helpless to stop him, in too much pain to really fight back.

And he had it soon enough, relishing the look in Lee’s eyes as he twisted the joint until it couldn’t stand anymore. It was only after the wrist was taken care of that Gaara let it drop, his other hand still at Lee’s throat pulling him closer. “I told you begging wouldn’t work. You’re finished,” he hissed as he slowly squeezed.

Lee choked back tears, at the same time as he gasped for air. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be! Gaara was his friend; why was he trying to kill him? Why would he do this? What had Lee done? He had never before been in a life and death situation before where a friend was the one he needed to incapacitate. He had never prepared for something like this; had never so much as thought that any of the people he knew to be good people could be capable of this. Why was Gaara like this?!?! Lee felt sick, and the pain in his wrist and leg was making the awful emotions that much worse.

He sobbed brokenly, his airway half-closed, and lifted a hand, digging his fingers into the fleshy mound just below Gaara’s thumb and pulling back, twisting Gaara’s hand until the palm faced the redhead. “P-please, stop. I am begging you,” he cried, supporting all of his weight on his good leg. “I-I do not want to fight you anymore.

“This--this was supposed to be friendly; I am your friend, am I not?” he asked, tears falling down his face, almost afraid of the answer. “Gaara, ya-yamatte onegaishimasu,” he whispered in a broken voice, not willing to release Gaara’s hand, but not willing to hurt him further.

Still the words weren’t getting through to Gaara. After all, it wasn’t Lee before him, begging for Gaara to let him go. It was someone who had attacked him, wounded him, and he needed to make absolutely sure that wouldn’t happen again.

But then he heard his name. Only his siblings used his given name and the momentary confusion he felt at hearing it caused him to blink, caused the manic expression to calm just a bit. His gaze became less distant, and he looked at Lee with a slight head tilt, trying to come back to the present, to understand what was going on. His muscles were still tense though, unwilling to let his guard down completely. But the man before him wasn’t actually hurting him, though the angle he held his wrist at was awkward, nor was he attacking.

He blinked again, his head suddenly starting to throb just a bit the more he tried to concentrate on remembering who he was with, where he was, and why he was there.

Lee felt relief wash over him as Gaara’s eyes suddenly became more focused, that distant, mad look fading away. He half sobbed, half laughed as the relief bubbled in his chest. He let go of Gaara’s hand, stumbling back into the wall of his house and hissing in pain, his chest heaving. His throat felt scratchy, and he rubbed at it, his eyes closed, not aware that Gaara was still lost in his own head.

“Thank you, Gaara” he rasped. “Thank you for stopping. I was very worried that you would not. I should have had more faith in you.” He opened his eyes, giving Gaara a truly relieved smile. Despite the way his body was shaking, the pain in his leg, and just how emotionally worn he felt, Lee was happy; happy that it was over, happy that his friend was back, and happy that he hadn’t had to hurt Gaara any further.

“Lee..?” he asked, finally seeming to register who it was that was standing (barely) before him. He tried to take a step toward the man and winced, his vision going fuzzy and his head pounding. He gripped his head lightly, but refused to close his eyes, or let himself fall. A dizzying pain in his chest and head was starting to overwhelm him but he had to figure out why.

Gaara’s lips tightened into a thin line when he managed to notice how the other was standing, confusion still there, but a small amount of worry coming to him as well. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d lost control fighting someone. It probably wouldn’t be the last, either. “You’re hurt,” he said, starting to move toward Lee again, this time barely taking a step before he winced. His side ached, his chest was tight, and breathing was suddenly harder for him, but he had no clue as to why. “What happened?”

Lee flinched involuntarily at the question. “You are hurt, too,” he murmured, the guilt coming back tenfold. “I-I am very sorry, Sabaku-san, but you were not yourself, and I had to defend myself as best I could! Please forgive me,” he said quickly, bowing as best he could without jostling his broken leg. “I-I broke your ribs--one, I think. At least, I hope it was just the one. I did my best to focus the attack, but it was very difficult with you trying to ki--attack me.”

He bit his lip, looking down. “I also kicked you in the head very forcefully. That was--that was before I realised you were not yourself, and I must offer up my most sincere apology for that. I did not control my attack well enough.” He looked up at Gaara, concern making him reach out for the redhead. “Are you all right? I am truly very sorry.”

Gaara frowned more, not moving, the rest of his expression unreadable as far as whether he was upset with Lee or with something else. “Shut up, Lee. I told you once your apologies are annoying.” He took several slow, shallow breaths, trying to keep calm despite the growing pain in his side and head.

His memory of the fight was fragmented, and the only reason he wasn’t as guilty as he should have been for trying to kill an innocent person, was because he had warned Lee. Still, that didn’t help the nagging feeling that he’d done something wrong and he would have to make up for it somehow.

His eyes suddenly looked tired as he glanced up at Lee, expression and muscles slowly trying to relax, despite the pain. “I have a request.”

Lee flushed at the command, looking down. “I am sorry--I mean, I am not--well, I am, but I did not mean to say I am, and I am sorry for--no, I take that back! Please forg--ignore me!” He waved his uninjured hand in the air, trying to shoo away the pesky apologies floating between them. Obviously, he would need to get used to not being so apologetic around the redhead. He did not want to annoy him, after all.

He blinked in surprised, tiling his head, feeling mildly confused. “Ha-hai, Sabaku-san? I shall do my best to fulfil your request to the best of my abilities.” He gave Gaara another smile, though he was wincing slightly from pain.

“Stop calling me, ‘Sabaku-san’.” It was simple and it was all Gaara was going to say on the matter.

Lee’s confusion doubled, and he wondered if perhaps he had upset Gaara more than he had realised. “But then what do I call you?”

Gaara rolled his eyes. “Gaara,” he said, as though it were obvious, pushing aside whatever pain he was feeling, at least for the moment, and moving to Lee, frowning as he looked him over.

“Your leg and arm?” He barely shook his head. “You were some opponent then, to work me up so much,” he murmured. Very slowly, and with surprising gentleness, he grabbed Lee’s arm, careful of the broken wrist, and pull it around his shoulder, his free hand wrapping around Lee’s waist, though it caused his own side to ache. “Hospital,” he groused, not looking at Lee as he started to move.

And the endless blushing was back. Lee smiled softly, scratching the back of his neck. “Ha-hai, Ga-Gaara.” Of all the requests, Lee had not expected Gaara to ask him that, and it made him feel dizzy with happiness; obviously Lee had proven to Gaara that he was worthy of his friendship! He had put up a very good fight and shown the SIB agent that he was a worthy and strong fighter, and a good friend. He had not been wrong to believe that they were friends then.

His smile became sheepish as Gaara pointed out his injuries. “Oh, this is nothing, really. I am very good at ignoring pain thanks to meditation techniques I have learned over the years, and--” He flushed brilliantly as Gaara pulled Lee’s arm around him, the redhead’s arm going around Lee’s spandex-clad body, and a hand resting on his waist. He swallowed, looking down at Gaara’s red mop of hair. “E-etto, I-I can walk myself, Gaara. Honest! This is really nothing! And with your broken rib, really, you should not be supporting my weight! In fact, I should be doing this for you!” He tried to pull away, determined to have his way, no matter what. After all, it was true. While Lee’s leg did hurt, he would be fine, and he could walk on it while supporting Gaara all the way to the hospital. After all, he had hurt Gaara and should make it up to him in whatever ways he could.

At Lee’s protests, Gaara’s head snapped up, eyes narrowed warningly, his grip on Lee’s waist tightening almost possessively. “I snapped your leg. Putting weight on it won’t help. And your bones need to get set before too long.” The words were tight as he spoke them, though there was no apology. More than anything, it was annoyance that he’d let himself get so out of control, when there had been no reason.

There was no way in hell he was letting Lee walk on his own. At the same time, Gaara’s head and chest were aching and a small part of him worried that he may actually need someone to stay close to keep him upright. If that absolutely had to be the case, Gaara was the one who would have the last say, and his last say was that Lee needed more help getting to the hospital than he did.

Lee sighed, relaxing his body against Gaara’s but refusing to put his weight against the redhead. He would love nothing more than to fight Gaara on the matter, but if he pushed too much and upset Gaara it would likely upset Gaara’s injury, and on top of that, trying to pull away from Gaara when he had such a firm grip, if nothing else, would only worsen Gaara’s injured ribcage. “All right, but I must at least make it up to you for breaking your rib and kicking you in the head,” he said, settling for compromise.

“Hnn,” was Gaara’s only response as they exited Lee’s yard, making their way slowly toward the hospital. “How far is it?” Gaara asked, already breathing a bit heavily, though he refused to slow their pace. He’d nearly killed the other man and wasn’t about to let him make his own injuries worse. Lee was a brilliant martial artist. Legs and arms were vital to that, as well as police work, and Gaara refused to let his own lack of control ruin that for the man.

Unfortunately for Gaara, the kick to his head had been a bit more severe than he realized and with each step closer, he found himself fading a bit more into unconsciousness. He wasn’t about to say anything to Lee, despite the fact that his vision was blurring, a wave of dizziness and nausea washing over him. It caused him to grip Lee tighter for his own support as well as to support the taller man, and, though normally he would never have done any of this, he was slowly leaning in against the solid form next to him. Strange, that he’d been right, his mind wondered. Fighting had made being around Lee a bit easier in the long run.

Lee had taken Gaara’s noncommittal sound as a resounding “Yes,” and began rambling about all the ways in which he would make it up to Gaara, from buying him lunch for the next month, to cleaning his house, to bringing him tea, to anything else his mind could think up. The pain in his leg was a distant, dull thrum, and his wrist felt about the same, though the slight pressure of Gaara’s hand on his upper arm sent odd spasms of pain through it. He did his best, dividing his attention between meditation techniques to ignore pain, while still maintaining the one-sided conversation.

When Gaara’s grip around his waist tightened, and he started to lean against Lee, his feet dragging, Lee blushed brilliantly, unsure what the gesture meant until he noticed Gaara’s drooping eyes. He fell silent, keeping his eyes firmly locked on the redhead as they slowly made their way to the hospital. He could tell that Gaara would not last the whole way there and was preparing for the inevitable collapse.

Half way there, Gaara’s body went completely limp and Lee, ever the skilled martial artist, caught him quickly, without applying pressure to his injured leg. The problem was that Gaara, unlike Lee, was out cold, and he could not hope to get him the rest of the way without carrying him. Biting his lip, and feeling more embarrassed than he ought to, Lee carefully pulled Gaara onto his back, testing to make sure he could walk without jostling the injured man too much, or upsetting his own injuries. He knew he could do this; they were fifteen minutes away, and Lee had excellent meditative skills. If he failed to carry Gaara all the way to the hospital then he would do five hundred crunches--his hardest challenge yet!--in penance!

With that in mind, Lee set off, determined to get Gaara (and himself) the medical attention they needed.


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