An Akatsuki/Sakura AU

I have a feeling this fic is going to be just shameless self-indulgence for me. Most chapters will be shorter than I'm used to, around the 5k mark, with a lot of dorky criminals fighting over the beautiful head of their house. As they do.

Squeaky-san rolled up to idle beside a lone gas pump, squeaking all the way. Sakura had once asked Tenten (local mechanic and great self-defence teacher) if the dying bear sounds her truck constantly emitted were something she should worry about. Tenten had only scoffed. When you start to hear a grinding screech, that's when you should worry. This statement hadn't appeased Sakura quite as much as Tenten had hoped it would.

Nonetheless, Squeaky-san had yet to fail her in the decade it'd been under her care. Even the semi-frequent eighty kilometer drives out to the prison did little to deter her old Toyota as it chugged dutifully along the barren country roads. This was a good thing, seeing as she was on one such prison trip at the moment.

Sakura killed the engine, tugging the keys free and digging her wallet out of her bag in the passenger seat. She clutched it in her mittens and stared out the fogged windshield at the tiny snowflakes drifting about. It was nearly March and the cold weather hadn't quite gotten the memo about Spring starting up. Today was dipping down below zero and Sakura wanted nothing more than to curl up next to her fireplace with five layers of sweaters and a hot cocoa. However, life and the government gave very few shits about what Sakura wanted and she found herself stopped at a gas station just a few minutes away from Ame Prison.

She had to mentally brace herself before shoving open the car door and, as if on cue, a gust of icy wind blustered by. Her cheeks were raw and pink within seconds and her thick coat tried futilely to keep her shivers to a minimum. Sakura wouldn't say she hated the cold, per se, she just severely disliked doing anything in the winter months. Winter was for hiding in the house and never leaving one's portable heater, not making hour long drives out to the middle of nowhere to pick up recently released convicts. It was just common sense.

The credit card almost escaped when she tried to shake off the wet snow clinging to the cotton of her mittens and Sakura cursed every factor that had led her to this specific moment in her life. There were many people at fault and she could picture each and every one of them with a sadistic sort of accuracy. She had just gotten the gas flowing in the tank when a digital 'ping' had her digging in the pocket of her oversized parka. It took a decent amount of effort as the parka's pockets went as deep as her knees. Finally, she fished out her phone and squinted at the alerts on the screen.

Among a slew of texts from assorted people that she'd ignored in favor of navigating the icy roads, there was a notification from her PoliceTracker app. It read: SUB OOB with two choices to tap underneath it, SEE and NOTIFY POLICE. This was basically the application's speak for 'one of the kiddies has left the bounds of the house and this should worry you.' Sakura sighed, a hot cloud puffing from her lips, and smeared away the snowflake that had wetted the screen before unbuttoning the top half of her mitten to free her fingers. If only technology had advanced far enough to allow her to use her touch screen without actually getting frostbite.

The icy air prickled at her bare skin and she quickly chose the SEE option, her phone unlocking to show a map covered in five dots of different color. The dot that had triggered the notification (signified by a little box that followed it around with the text SUB) was slowly progressing away from the other dots clustered in the empty pink square that was her house's boundaries. It came to a stop beside the line of her home street and loitered there for a few seconds, then headed back into the pink square. Sakura rolled her eyes. The app had flipped out over Tobi checking the mail.

She watched his orange dot flit around the yellow dot with a tiny smile before mashing the home key and going to check her messages. The PoliceTracker app had always slightly unnerved her. While she knew it was a necessity in her line of work, she could never quite shake the feeling that it was invasive and a little creepy. Sakura remembered when they'd first told her to install it, demonstrating with an unused ankle bracelet how it would set off as soon as one of her tenants left the house. Just precautionary measures, Sakura-san, the pretty Officer Uchiha had assured, the notify police option will have us on your doorstep in less than five minutes.

That had been a good four years ago and Sakura had yet to use the option. However, Officer Uchiha and his hulking partner Hoshigaki had shown up for a few house calls in the past. It was usually just to rough up the new guy and really let him know how things worked in the Haruno Halfway House, especially when he picked fights with the other tenants. More often, when the boys got too rowdy, Sakura preferred to sedate them with some rohypnol rather than call in the reinforcements. She wasn't a physician for nothing, after all.

Nine unread messages clogged up her message queue and Sakura skimmed the short previews in search of anything that required an immediate reply.

Tobi :DD

we're out of milk i wanted cereal and there's no milk wh yyyy

Don't forget! Class tonight 7 instead of 8! I've got a thing fo…

Hidan owes me $36.87

don't lemme 4get i FUCkin owe K $35 ok i dont' WANna die

Ino oink oink

Sakura frowned at Ino's text and quickly tapped it to read the entire thing, only to find her friend had sent four messages in rapid succession. Typical Ino.

Ino oink oink
- Is that even legal? can the gov do that i think U should sue them OK!
- they better pay u double you aren't running a whore house over there

Of course Naruto would be the first to spill the beans. His mouth was so big Sakura was honestly surprised he managed to keep his jaw closed for any length of time without the use of surgical wire. She made a point to shoot off an angrily worded and mildly vague text to Naruto before replying to her other loud-mouthed blonde friend. Sometimes Sakura wondered if these types of people just naturally gravitated towards her. Or, even worse, if she gravitated towards them. The thought made her shiver, though it could've been the cold.

Dei isn't sharing a room right now so I have space for another, she typed with her index finger and hit send. Her house, an old two story (former) row house, had four bedrooms and she made the best of them by sticking two men to a room. Her own space was the only one on the bottom floor, while the upstairs was delegated strictly to her tenants, a motley crew of convicts and former mental patients all under her care. Deidara, yet another blond loud-mouth (Sakura was becoming worried), had been in Haruno Halfway House the longest of the tenants and therefore managed to keep his room to himself. Until now.

Two weeks ago, Ame Prison representative Kakashi Hatake had phoned her about a young man up for early release so long as he finished his sentence in a halfway house. Thinking of all the complaints Sakura had been constantly berated with about Deidara's living arrangements, she'd agreed without much hesitation. Breaking the news to the blond, however, was put off indefinitely until it couldn't be avoided anymore. Which was basically as soon as she walked through the door with the new guy in tow and Deidara couldn't escape.

Her phone toned the alert of another couple of texts just as the gas pump clicked, Squeaky-san's tank filled. Reading the messages while replacing the gas nozzle with her free hand, Sakura multi-tasked, teeth chattering in another gust of wind.

Ino oink oink

Ino was clearly distressed if her speedy texting thumbs were making typos. Sakura pressed the NO option when the pump asked if she would like a receipt, and hurriedly clambered into her truck. She had just gotten the engine rumbling and the heat on full blast when her phone blew up again. Ino was apparently entirely capable of carrying a conversation on by herself.

Ino oink oink
- how much are they paying you for this one pls say a million
- what did he do? he didnt blow shit up like D did he
- or rob a bank like the stitchy one?
- or any animal sacrifice?
- is that all the convicts in ur house i forget BC THERES SO MANY

Sakura was actually pretty okay with letting Ino continue on unanswered for a few hours. It was the perfect way to let her best friend know just how appreciated her attitude wasn't when Sakura was shivering in the middle of nowhere on a Friday morning. She shifted Squeaky-san into gear after flicking her phone to silent and pulled out of the gas station.

Rep. Kakashi of Ame Prison was a man Sakura had been working with ever since she first thought to run a halfway house. He was very supportive of her goals, if lazy and often late to meetings. He was the one in charge of picking who to deliver into Sakura's rehabilitation program, and as far as prisoners and insanity plea convicts went, he'd done pretty well so far. Sakura trusted his judgement. After all, it was said judgement that had given her the five men she took care of and helped currently.

Deidara had been the earliest arrival. Arrested for getting a bit too eager with fireworks and low grade explosives around abandoned buildings, he was hardly what one would describe as a hardened criminal. Sakura had been reticent with him at first and he with her, until she'd discovered his artsy, passionate side. Investing in some clay and a few sculpting classes at the community college for him had been a great decision on Sakura's part, although he'd refused to attend "something so stupid" without her. They'd gotten to know (and even like) each other much better for it though, and recently Deidara had added chemistry courses to his repertoire. Sakura knew he was learning how to blow things up, but at least it was in a controlled environment now.

Thinking of his bright blue eyes, wide with wonder and love for his craft during those classes, brought a satisfied warmth to Sakura's chest and she settled contentedly against the car seat. He was the first man she'd really felt like she'd helped, like she had made a difference in his life. It was her own sort of high to be able to give someone that, another option outside of the hard hand they'd been dealt. Deidara's giant, pleased grins had been her motivation to say yes to the next two Kakashi offered up.

Tobi and Zetsu had come in a pair. Both of them had very similar cases that landed them in the mental hospital wing of Ame Prison. Their lawyers had plead insanity (or more likely, mental instability) to their accusations of aggravated assault and battery. They had been arrested seven months apart, but their situations had been the same so they were often put together in the hospital to work out their issues in group therapy sessions. The doctors diagnosed a rare form of dissociative identity disorder in both of them, what most people classified as split personalities (although that term is defunct nowadays).

Sakura welcomed them with open arms and a smile. Deidara had been an entirely different case. He spent the next week and half glowering and glaring like a sullen teenager whose mom had gotten remarried to some asshole. And Tobi and Zetsu were the assholes. Sakura figured he was just used to having her full attention and care 24/7 and then with arrival of two new boys, that number was cut by a third. It was a big change for everyone and she knew he'd get over it eventually.

It helped that Tobi and Zetsu were both an absolute pleasure to have around. Whereas Deidara had been about as approachable as a prickly cactus when they first met, Tobi was downright cuddly and Zetsu was as polite and chivalrous as an eighteenth century prince. Sakura became fast friends with the both of them but she'd always remained wary of their disorders and experienced it first hand not too long after they moved in.

Tobi, who often reminded her of a child or a puppy, would occasionally have these episodes where he'd seem distant and hard. The expressions of innocent happiness would melt away, twisting into disgust or outright hatred or even cruel glee. He had scared her the first few times it happened, saying mean things she could never imagine Tobi saying in a hundred years. But just like that he'd snap back to himself and skip off to get some ice cream or whathaveyou. Sakura had gotten his prescriptions filled and it happened less often with the medication, but she still worried that one day Tobi wouldn't come back and that angry, contorted face would turn on her.

Zetsu's condition was a little different than Tobi's but no less disquieting. Along with his diagnosed mental disorder, the pigmentation of his skin was divided into two contrasting sides, cut straight down the middle. He was a dark black tone on his right side and a pale white on his left. The doctors had thought it to be something similar to vitiligo but weren't wholly sure, and since it didn't seem to affect his everyday life they'd dismissed it.

Sakura wasn't sure if it was psychological or something else, but Zetsu was literally divided in half, mentally and physically. White Zetsu, as Tobi had called Zetsu's left side, was the kind and helpful man Sakura had grown used to and come to enjoy. Black Zetsu was his more violent and sinister personality, a form of Zetsu that only seemed to talk out of the black side of his mouth. Often he would say things that made Sakura recoil only to have White Zetsu quickly soften the blow with patient, affectionate words.

It was perturbing but Sakura eventually became accustomed to both sides of Zetsu, and even found that the man had a love for any kind of greenery. Plants littered every nook and cranny of the house ever since Zetsu arrived and Sakura was glad to have more life in the Halfway House because of him. She was currently looking into the costs of building a greenhouse in their small backyard for him. The thought of what his face would look like if she could get one, had Sakura's lips quirking in a smile.

Everyone had their own room upstairs for a good part of a year, until Kakashi called on a warm July afternoon touting about a man named Kakuzu. According to the Ame rep. Kakuzu had been arrested for robbing several banks, which wasn't too impressive a story, until Kakashi mentioned that he'd claimed the money was rightfully his and that these banks owed him a good four million. Apparently Kakuzu had been a sort of debt collector and many patrons of those banks had outstanding debts with Kakuzu, so he'd taken it upon himself to beat said patrons into submission, get their information, and withdraw millions of dollars in their names.

It was ingenious really, and Sakura was hesitant to accept at first. He had sounded like a man that plans far far ahead and has back ups for his back ups. She wasn't sure if she would be able to keep a man like that in line and the idea of failing was scary. In the end, she convinced herself that Kakuzu needed her help, to get out of prison, to give him direction, to keep him grounded. Kakuzu arrived on her doorstep and nearly had her squeaking like her truck in alarm at the sight of him.

His body was riddled with thin winding scars that wrapped around his limbs like vines stretching up towards the sun. They looked like the consequences of a stitch job gone bad, as if his entire life was nothing but skin being torn apart in one way or another with nothing but some dental floss and a sewing needle to patch it together. Most striking were the scars, still freshly stitched, elongated from the corners of his lips. They gave his mouth the appearance of stretching across his face almost to his ears, a grotesque parody of a smile, and the thick black stitches looked straight out of a horror movie.

Sakura had only just managed to keep herself from rudely flinching away by desperately making eye contact with him, hoping beyond hope that he had some saving grace. That not all of him was this violent, savage appearance. By some miracle, his eyes had pinned her to the spot. Irises that were a shining green, so absurdly pretty and such an amazing dichotomy to the condition of his body, Sakura wanted to burst into a fit of giggles. She controlled herself but she was pretty sure Kakuzu could see the mirth hiding behind her polite smile.

Beyond that, their relationship remained cordial and (more or less) diplomatic. Kakuzu commanded a certain authority and so he had gotten his own room, kicking Tobi into Zetsu's. Not that Tobi was sad about that fact in the least. Sakura had skillfully turned to the stock exchange channels every time Kakuzu came into the living room, until she'd successfully cultivated his interest in the subject. Which eventually brought around his plan to attend the college's accounting courses, much to Deidara's chagrin. Just that morning, Sakura had heard Kakuzu lamenting the stupidity of his fellow classmates and even his professors over the cup of coffee she always brewed him.

Most recently, and just four weeks after Kakuzu was brought to Sakura's doorstep, Hidan was deposited in her care by a harried Kakashi who looked on the verge of collapse. The first thing Hidan had ever said to Sakura was something along the lines of "where the fuck is Kakuzu, you stupid bitch?" directly after she introduced herself to him. Things were rocky at first, especially since Hidan had apparently met and befriended Kakuzu in prison and had pitched a fit when he learned his new friend had gotten out. Sakura took that as a sign to toss him into Kakuzu's room and let the authoritarian man sort him out for the better.

It had worked for the most part. Sakura later learned Hidan had been put in prison for animal abuse. Apparently, he'd tried to sacrifice his neighbor's cat (among several other animals) to his god. There had been blood everywhere and even Hidan himself had been cut open, his own injuries attributed to the red soaking his clothes and the floor.

Sakura still didn't quite understand how that whole thing worked, but she allowed him to use the basement for his worship so long as he didn't kill any animals. He would always resurface from down there with gashes and stab wounds all over and Sakura would have to spend the rest of the night patching him up so he didn't die on her couch. At first he'd fought her off and cursed at her until his throat was hoarse and he collapsed from bloodloss. Tobi had played a great medical assistant that night and after that time Hidan didn't bother trying to stop her anymore lest he wake up to Tobi leaning over him and drooling on his face again.

Hidan was a very interesting character, but Sakura came to find a sort of comfort in his loud presence and his constant jeering at all the other tenants. It assured her that he was alive and okay, despite how often she saw him on the brink of bleeding to death. Plus, he brought out a less domineering side of Kakuzu and their interactions often had Sakura choking back her laughter. All in all, she counted Hidan as a great addition.

Each and every one of the boys at the Haruno Halfway House had changed Sakura's view on life in some way or another and she hoped she'd done the same for them. She wouldn't trade them for anything else, even if they were a handful and they all had their own problems and they tried to kill each other on a daily basis. They were hers and they needed her, they gave her a purpose. And she hoped this new addition wouldn't upset their comfortable balance too much.

The barbed-wire fencing of Ame Prison was the first thing Sakura saw as she and Squeaky-san bumped over the cracked road. It was always a daunting image, a sprawling portrait of gray brick walls shooting up into the sky like some sort of twisted castle. Sakura had been to the Ame Prison so often, one would think she'd eventually get used to the place's dour atmosphere and sharp edges, but it never failed to make her squirm. The sight of it only hardened her resolve to get the new guy out and take him away from here.

Squeaky-san bumbled and groaned its way up to the gated entrance, a building to the left where the guards hung around waiting for something interesting to happen. Izumo and Kotetsu had often informed Sakura that she was the most entertaining thing to come around and all she ever did was pick up prisoners and leave. Sakura took that to mean they worked extremely mind-numbing jobs at the gate. She shifted into park, wincing at the drawn out squeak that accompanied her foot as it eased off the brake. Izumo and Kotetsu popped the door of the guard's building open and made their way towards her car, huddling together for warmth like penguins trying to block out the antarctic winds.

Sakura rolled down her window, keeping the air vents pointed directly at her face and hugging her torso to maintain body heat. "Hey guys, am I going in or just doing a stop and snatch?" With Deidara, she had just met Kakashi at the gate to pick up the blond explosion-artist. Tobi and Zetsu required their new guardian to sign them out of the hospital ward so she'd actually gone inside the prison for those two. Kakuzu was dumped on her doorstep and Hidan was as well although accompanied by Kakashi. It was like buying a lottery ticket with these guys, Sakura never knew what she was going to get.

Izumo clutched at the scratchy blanket around his shoulders and shrugged, finally stepping a little ways away from Kotetsu. "Kakashi said he's bringing him out here, something about being in a hurry-"

"Book signing! He has a book signing that needs urgent attendance or something," Kotetsu cut in, looking proud of himself, the bandage on his nose damp from the snowflakes. Izumo shot him a 'nobody gives a shit' stare and continued.

"Anyway, he said he'd be here fifteen minutes ago so you should be right on time."

Sakura nodded, having purposely left later than the time Kakashi had given her. The man was nothing if not consistently late to everything he ever did. Sakura honestly wouldn't be shocked if he ended up being late to that book signing he was in a 'hurry' to get to. A hurry for Kakashi was probably driving .5 kilometers faster than his usual snail pace.

As if hearing them, the man himself appeared on the other side of the wire gate as it began to open inwards. "Yo!" he greeted, grinning behind a giant yellow scarf. "I've brought the cargo, Sakura-chan!" He seemed utterly pleased with himself, as if walking a prisoner out to the gate was a feat worth a medal or something. He rounded the gate and came to join the huddled penguins at the side of Sakura's truck.

Sakura hardly spared Kakashi another glance as he approached, tilting her head out the window to try and see around him at the form standing half hidden behind his shoulder. She could tell right off the bat that he was small, at least compared to Kakashi. If she had to guess she would say about her height. A shock of messy red hair, impossibly bright in the dull gray of winter, caught her eye and she was stunned by the color. That couldn't be natural could it? Then again. Sakura had naturally pink hair so she supposed she'd seen crazier things.

"Sakura-chan, you wound me. It's like I don't even exist," Kakashi commented lightly, still smiling despite his words

"I wish you didn't," Kotetsu mumbled and Izumo elbowed him in the ribcage.

Kakashi ignored them and took an exaggeratedly wide step to the side, revealing his charge. "This is Sasori-kun, Sasori-kun say hello to your new mom-"

Sakura was smacking Kakashi upside the head before he could even finish his sentence, half hanging out the window of her truck. She hadn't taken her eyes of the red-head though, her cheeks tinted pink (it was from the cold she'd say later) and her mouth slightly hanging open.

He was beautiful and it was ridiculous. She wanted to cover him up with something just to pretend he didn't exist because it was literally impossible for him to be standing in front of her, looking the way he did. He had delicate features like some sort of china doll. His eyelashes were so long she actually felt like punching something. They fanned, thick and dark, over hooded amber eyes, warm like honey in the summer. He regarded her with a strange silent arrogance, the way a warrior might regard the enemy who had finally brought him to his knees. He would not bow, he would not let her have her win, he would lose on his own terms as if everyone's existence was merely there for him to do with as he pleased.

"Aha, I mean, Sasori-kun say hello to your new housemate and landlord, Sakura-chan," Kakashi corrected, rubbing the spot where Sakura's hand had connected with his hard head. Sasori, Sakura committed the name to memory as those amber eyes looked her up and down, calculating. A smile that seemed for no one but himself graced his pretty features and then he was bowing just a tad at the shoulders, his red hair falling into his eyes.

"Please take care of me, Sakura-san," he said in an airy voice that caught the cool wind and floated away. He stood up straight again and Sakura thought that he looked very young for a man in prison. She simply nodded with an attempt at a reassuring smile.

"Me too, Sasori-san. I hope I can help at least a little out there," she said earnestly, bowing her head. When she raised her eyes from the dead grass, her gaze caught on the ratty tennis shoes wrapped around his feet, trying desperately to cling for dear life. She frowned and made note of the rest of his clothing, the white-washed jeans riddled with holes and frays, and the t-shirt- a T-SHIRT in this weather?! He had to be freezing, yet he didn't seem at all affected by the low temperature that had Izumo and Kotetsu clinging to each other.

Sakura shot a glare in Kakashi's direction, positive he didn't understand what it was for, and quickly made to hop out of her truck. She was thankful for the red sweater she'd slipped on underneath her parka, as she tugged the coat off her shoulders. The surrounding males watched her with wide-eyes as she stepped towards Sasori, who visibly fought the urge to take a step back as she neared. She had been slightly off about his height from her vantage point in the truck. He was taller than her but not by much, the top of her head lined up with his eyes, but he was definitely similar in build and she easily swung the parka onto his shoulders.

"There we go, can't have you dying of frostbite before I even get you to the house, right?" She grinned with a huff of laughter, her nose and cheeks already bitten by the prickling wind. Sasori's half-lidded eyes regarded her without any visible emotion, the small smile from before all but vanished. He didn't move to hold the jacket on his shoulders so Sakura simply pulled the sides together in front of him and buttoned it at the collar. The fingers exposed from her pinned back mitten brushed against the hollow of his throat as she did so, the warmth of his skin seeping into hers for just an instant. She didn't miss how he startled at the touch.

When Sakura pulled away with a satisfied nod, she saw the baby snowflakes caught in his eyelashes as he continued to stare at her, seemingly at a loss. Just when she thought he couldn't look any more beautiful nature went and did its thing. She inwardly scowled and wished she could look half as good as the boy in front of her. In lieu of saying anything more to the silent red-head, Sakura rounded on Kakashi with a scowl. "It'd be nice if you didn't bring people out in nothing but a thin shirt when it's practically zero degrees out here, Kakashi-san."

He at least had the decency to look sheepish. "We're only allowed to let 'em leave with what they had on when they were brought in… honest," Kakashi added the last bit with his hands up at Sakura's quirked eyebrow. She crossed her arms, partly because she was irritated and partly because she was starting to feel the cold seep into her sweater.

"Okay, well as inhumane and ridiculous as that is, I guess next time I'm here I'll be sure to bring an entire extra wardrobe to fit the season," she grumbled, turning her attention back to Sasori who was staring at the parka around his shoulders as if it had personally offended him. "Sasori-san?"

He glanced up slowly, seemingly unwilling to tear his gaze away from the faded military green of her jacket. She gave him another one of her patented, 'trust me I'm a doctor' smiles. "Let's get out of here, yeah?"

A muscle in his jaw jumped and then he blinked once, deliberately. Without a word, he rounded the front end of the truck and the creaking of the passenger door opening rang loudly in the quiet as all of them listened to him situate himself in the cab. Kakashi glanced down at Sakura who was quite satisfied with herself.

"I'll have the paperwork faxed to you by tonight, probably," he lied and then fished a black, metal object from his pocket. "Here's his ankle bracelet. Put it on him and activate it as soon as possible, okay? You won't be completely safe until it's on. Get it done so I can rest easy, hm Sakura-chan?"

Sakura snatched the ankle bracelet from his fingers, always surprised at how light the thick metal felt in her hand, and gave him a short, stern nod. Kakashi and the others scattered back to where they had emerged from while Sakura settled herself into the drivers' seat, rolling up the window. She rubbed her cheeks to get the circulation flowing again, hoping the interior of the vehicle would heat back up quickly.

She could feel Sasori's gaze boring into her, burning the side of her face. As she slid Squeaky-san into reverse, her bright green eyes fell on the front of her parka where it draped over Sasori's thighs down to his knees. He had zipped it all the way up, and threaded his arms through the sleeves, encasing himself completely in it like a fiery haired caterpillar. Sakura fought the sudden urge to giggle at the thought.

"Sakura-san," Sasori said, his voice barely above a whisper as if he didn't want to hurt the silence between them. Sakura blinked as they drove away from the prison, surprised that he had voluntarily spoken to her first. She hadn't expected him to be much of a conversationalist. Her gaze cut over to him and she noticed that the collar of her coat was flipped up so that it covered his face up to his nose. He was slouched into the seat so that the lower half of his face was smothered into the jacket and his eyes were even more hooded than before, eyelashes absurdly long. He was staring at the dashboard, hands deep in the pockets of her parka.

"Yes, Sasori-san?" Sakura prompted, finally (reluctantly) dragging her eyes back to the road.

He let out an audible breath as if he'd been holding it and sank deeper into the seat and Sakura's coat. "This jacket…" he started, still speaking very quietly, just loud enough to hear over the rumble of the truck. "It's big. Warm. Kinda feels like…" He paused for so long Sakura glanced back over. His eyes had fallen completely shut and he was slumping against the door. She thought he was asleep until his lips parted to continue, "...feels like... a hug."

It was only a few more seconds before Sakura heard his breath deepen, even out, his posture going slack as he drifted off. She smiled to herself, covering it with her hand.

Yeah, definitely a keeper.

Way deep down under his hard wooden exterior, Sasori just wants to be held. This is 100 percent canon.

The ending to Naruto sucked and so here I am, like six years later, in an attempt to pretend my childhood love wasn't just brutally bastardized. (Apologies if you liked it ^^;) Also, a couple of my old fics I managed to keep on my hard drive are now linked in my profile. Neither of them will be finished, but there they are for old times' sake.

Anyhow, expect lots of fumbling and fighting boys, the Uchiha police force (plus fish-out-of-water Kisame), girls learning to beat the shit out of things, and Madara who's too cool for the police or prison.