Revenge of Eplilogue!

Soooo. Sasori turned out to be a little more compelling than expected. So you get a two-shot (shhh it can be a thing) and I try not to make a cake of myself. This is all because there was one scene I thought would play out really well between them. You benefit (?) from my madness.

I will continue this if inspired, but I'm leaving it marked complete just in case the muse doesn't whack me again in this form.

Mood inspiration: Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High – Artic Monkeys, Til There Was You (Reflekt Mix) – Rachael Starr

Disclaimer: see part 1.


One does not simply 'date' a drug dealer, and Sakura did not think of whatever it was she thought she would be doing with Sasori as 'dating' in any traditional sense. He implied future contact but it didn't materialize. So little contact was to be had with him that she expected he had forgotten all about that strange day they spent together. It could have been a dream thought up by her concussed brain trying to give her a reason why she had escaped that den of thieves alive. There were any number of reasons she made it through that day in one piece, and none of them had to have anything to do with a sexy older man.

Life went on.

This semester was tough as junior year was supposed to be, made all the more difficult by Naruto taking a leave of absence. Sasuke was in a deep pit and Naruto would stop at nothing to get him out, but Sakura had learned her lesson and it was time to live for herself not a dream of what life could have been like if Sasuke wasn't broken.

Midterms passed. Halloween parties happened. Thanksgiving and the most precious trip home of the year came and went, and then it was back to a cold city and temporary holiday work to afford some slightly nicer gifts than last year for the family. Then there was studying, tutoring, participating in club work (Ino dragged her into it), and eventually the Christmas phone call where she was passed around the room in the traditional holiday hot potato fashion. Life was so wretchedly normal it seemed like last summer was a terrible nightmare she had woken up from.

So when an unlisted number popped up on her phone, she felt free to ignore it and let it go to voicemail despite that fact that it was the holidays and even telemarketers couldn't shake her cheer. Sakura was buying fruitcake to bring to her kickboxing class, knowing well enough that all those ladies who did it for the exercise wouldn't touch it and she'd have a whole fruitcake to herself she'd be obliged to eat since she had spent the money. It was the only way she could think of to spoil herself in an altruistic fashion.

On the bus, she picked up her phone at last to listen to the voicemail on the off chance that it was something important. She missed her stop, and two stops after her stop, before she came to and hopped off into the ice that had been mushy snow before the cold snap.

"The car will come for you tonight at 11pm. If you get in, make sure you dress well. If you don't get in, I can't guarantee what I'll do."

No Christmas cheer could warm the cold feeling at the pit of her stomach to hear Sasori's voice. The darkest day of the year had already passed but you could have fooled Sakura. She didn't wonder at how he had her number (she had spread her whole life in front of him on his computer after all) but she did wonder at what the hell it all meant.

Sakura owned exactly one little red dress, and so she climbed into it, some sheer hose, the only pair of heels she owned (black patent leather purchased as a joke by Ino who had heard enough from Sakura about the orthopedic problems they caused) and swiped some lip gloss on her mouth as she noted the time. She had spent an hour in front of the mirror trying to decide if this was madness or not.

"Madness it is," she mumbled as she tried to take the stairs up from her crappy basement apartment fast, but not so fast that she's slip on the ice. Anticipation should not have been one of the emotions she felt, or the thrill adrenaline provided. And certainly she should not have been trying to relive those hazy memories in Sasori's bedroom, where nothing but sense memory could reproduce the events that transpired there thanks to some very effective blackout curtains.

The town car stopped, looking nondescript and expensive but not so expensive you'd pay it much mind. It was the sort of thing the manager of a bank might drive and was utterly forgettable. Tinted windows didn't allow her the pleasure of seeing her escort, but when he pushed open the passenger seat she clapped eyes on what she had half-hoped was a deeply troubling fantasy instead of reality.

Sasori didn't say anything, and he didn't need to. She stepped into the car, looking him over out of the corner of her eye and shivering even when the heated seat brought her body temperature back up. He drove smoothly but aggressively across town, right into the center of the tourist hot spots. When they pulled into a nearly empty underground garage she wondered briefly if she was the dumbest girl in the city or the dumbest girl in the whole state to have gotten into the car with this man.

The blasted man didn't open the door for her when he got out, nor did he speak to her. She felt as off balance in these shoes as she felt emotionally but she got out and stood next to him, her eyes almost level with his in thanks to the heels. He arched an eyebrow at her delicately and armed the car alarm with a loud beep that made her shoulders jump before turning away.

"I hope you ate already because dinner isn't involved." He said over his shoulder and began to walk in brisk steps.

"I didn't want to possibly die on an empty stomach." The ravioli she had reheated had been left over from last night, and honestly unappetizing, but she had eaten all of it dutifully.

"You talk less than I remember."

"I don't have a head injury this time."

He tilted his head to one side, conceding the point. One fine hand disappeared into the pocket of his coat and pulled out thin gloves. He's going to strangle you and leave you in a parking garage! Her inner voice screamed and began to hyperventilate. Outwardly, Sakura was wondering how much damage a heel could do with a well-placed kick. If she got him while his back was turned she could take out a knee and get a solid head start.

"We're expected, and while time is not exactly running out, I don't enjoy loitering in parking garages." He allowed a smile in her direction, which she only got a glimpse of over his shoulder. "All sorts of strange characters here at night, after all."

"Hah." She wasn't sure if she was supposed to laugh or agree so she did something in between.

They walked through the structure to an entrance that needed some sort of key card, which Sasori naturally produced and a key code, which he entered. Lights flashed and a huge door opened leading into a basement or storage area for something. Forklifts, pallets, and draped objects were everywhere and Sasori walked through them all like he knew the way so she tried to project a little more confidence. The door closed behind them and then it was just the click of her heels on concrete that escorted them through twisting rooms, up some stairs, and then through a maintenance door into someplace Sakura had always meant to visit but never seemed to have time for.

"The art museum." Sakura said it flatly, but she was actually surprised. "At 11:30pm."

"What time do you usually go?"

"I refuse to be caught stealing art inβ€”"

"Please," He snarled. "You're a smart woman. Why would I tell you to dress up if we were coming here for petty theft?"

Nothing in here was anything less than priceless. Petty theft?

"Excuse me for being a little off my game when I get less than six hours of notice that I'm going somewhere in my best dress."

His expression smoothed out, again the man she remembered only in sharper detail than her fuzzy memories allowed her to recall, and gestured for her to follow. He had loomed so large in her memory and now he seemed almost slight in his tailored clothes.

They passed the African wing, and the Greek, and Sakura peeked down at exhibits lit only by the backlighting near their displays. Suits of armor lay down one hall and she thought there might actually be tapestries as well. Sakura liked stories of knights and ladies, even if a lot of it was a bunch of chauvinistic garbage. What girl hadn't wanted to be a princess at some point, even if it was fleeting?

Modern pieces with their bold colors and mixed media flashed, but they didn't turn in there even though the gentle colors of a stoplight beckoned while bathing them in turns with rich reds and yellows. No green, but then that was art for you. There were several locked gates they needed to open along the way, but Sasori seemed to produce key after key like he had memorized it all before hand. Maybe he did this all the time for all she knew.

They passed stained glass windows and some truly depressing pictures of Jesus on the cross and various martyrs until they finally made it into the Renaissance wing. Looking around, it was all nature scenes and pictures from mythology (which she supposed was the nostalgia of the Renaissance for a simpler time when men were gods and women were constantly being ravished).

"Here," Sasori had stopped in front of a set of three pictures and shed his coat on a nearby bench. He sat down and gestured for her to sit as well. "My most recent acquisition. I thought of you."

She walked over to the small plaque announcing the display on loan from 'an anonymous donor' and preceded to read the title in steadily growing displeasure.

"Oh for God's sake, 'The Rape of Persephone'? Really?" She had to let a laugh out at that. "Let me think on that a bit. Hm. Yes. Subtle."

It was a set of three paintings. The first was the abduction scene, then Persephone sitting in the underworld contemplating a pomegranate tree, ending with the king and queen of the underworld on their respective thrones with the queen looking up to the sky tragically waiting for spring. All in all, it seemed a little heavy-handed but she tried to be flattered by what she was assuming was an invitation he couldn't voice. Some men said it with flowers, she just so happened to sleep with one that said it with priceless art.

"I thought her expression in the first one rather resembled you: indignant, angry, full of fight. The brushwork is fantastic, or so I'm told. I'm really more an expert in three-dimensional pieces. And ancient Egypt is more my style. They understood immortality."

"There's so much detail to these. While I'm going to be honest that I'm a little horrified at the parallel you're trying to draw, I do like the paintings. A future surgeon has to appreciate a steady hand when she sees one. Maybe I can learn to like art a little more."

Sasori narrowed his eyes. "Perhaps I should have taken you to one of those sideshow exhibits that shows all the muscles of the body or whatever else they do to the dead. Is that more to your taste?"

Trying to make light of it, since she seemed to have upset him for not being blown away by what might have been his version of a traditional date, Sakura put on a bright smile and joined him on the bench. "I can see that three times a week for free whether I want to or not. This is something I never would have done for myself if you hadn't brought me."

Why are you trying to make a scumbag feel better about himself? Her inner voice was getting so acidic she almost winced. In fact, how did he get you here in the first place? Should have called the cops as soon as he left that message.

Removing his gloves, he cracked his knuckles and then rested on hand on the bench. He seemed to be contemplating the paintings but he spoke to her without glancing in her direction. "You let your hair grow out." It felt more like an evaluation than an endearment. C+ on hair management skills, Sakura.

"Why are I here?" It slipped out. It might have been a question for her own mind but it seemed to make as much sense to ask him.

"You never ask the right questions." Sasori let his eyes slide from the art to her face and his half lidded expression told her that there was more on his mind than her hair.

"Well you never give a straight answer." It was impossible to hold his stare so she turned her own glare back to the paintings. Pomegranates indeed. "I thought I had made you up, almost."

He wasn't making any attempt to get closer to her but she felt like the room was constricting. "Really now? You don't strike me as that creative."

When she turned to argue she realized that the twinkle in his brown eyes was for her taking the whole bucket of bait.

"Art is all about interpretation, Sakura." He sounded bored as he spoke but she knew it was all part of the ruse. Sasori didn't talk about superfluous things, or rather if he did she would be surprised to her core. "The viewer often gives away more of themselves in their explanation than they expect you."

"So?"

"You see this as an invitation, perhaps. I might see it differently: a display of power, or an attempt to meet you at a level you could understand."

Sakura felt a grumble coming on. "This had better get 100% less condescending if you wanted to proposition me successfully."

"I'm tell you, my dear, that it doesn't matter what you think to me just as it doesn't matter what I think to you. Art is personal, which is why I'm so happy you're taking it personally."

"This is you happy?"

"Trust me." He was as hypnotizing as a snake charmer when he went in for the kiss.

"I don't think so." Was all she got out before her brain totally shut off again.

Sasori's hand slipped up her dress but, maddeningly, no farther than mid-thigh. She pressed her chest against him, grinding her mouth against his and demanding more. Something like a groan escaped from the back of his throat as he pulled away from her. Sakura wanted to relive those dark bedroom memories in the soft light of the museum but he stopped her.

Pointing up at the cameras Sakura went from seductress to bashful lady as fast as you could blink.

"A certain colleague of mine turned off the security cameras for this jaunt, but knowing him he's still monitoring us." Sasori spoke the words with his lips practically on hers and Sakura wondered why that made it so much harder to reign herself in.

"Then take us somewhere we can be alone."

"Is that something you want?" His eyes slid over the paintings then back to her. Bastard sounded so satisfied like he had predicted it all, which he might have. They had some undeniable chemistry, and Sakura loved feeling so desired by someone like him: smart, dangerous, handsome. Add evil in and we're circling closer to truth.

Sakura hated herself for how much she wanted him, hated that she was making this decision without the convenient excuse of a head injury. It meant she was agreeing to whatever this was tonight, possibly longer. She didn't always have to say yes, she told herself. Saying yes tonight could be a one off just for curiosity's sake, but she knew she was making up excuses to justify something unconscionable.

"Don't worry," Sasori said, immediately making her worry. "You're in control of the choice here. I won't make it for you." That meant she had already lost, somehow, and the fact that he didn't follow that with maniacal laughter was a minor miracle.

"I think I made my choice the first time I went looking for Sasuke." She didn't feel particularly sexy now, just fatalistic. She so desperately wanted to forget how stupid she had been getting herself entangled in this mess, but this was the reality she had to work with and Sakura was much better at charging in than retreating.

"Ah, well, at least you're seeing things more clearly now."

If she was already in hell she might as well enjoy herself a little, she thought ruefully, and allowed self-loathing to be swallowed by lust. Ultimately this was how she expected to forget Sasuke, even if it was just as destructive as the Uchiha's own escape had been.

The embrace was tight and her eyes were closed so she couldn't see Sasori's beatific smile, or his smooth face revealing deep relief. He understood why Hades did it.