Story Title: Playing With Fire

Chapter Title: I'm Such A Goddamn Whore

Pairing: OroSakuG

Rating: M (swearing, violence, death, dark situations)

Author: Backlash Symphony

Summary: Sakura, a survivor of the Massacre five years ago, is now at KAVPA. She had a job to do but found herself torn between keeping Gaara's friendship and following the perilous tempting path of Orochimaru, the son of the mobster who arranged the Massacre. OSG

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto yet.

Extra: The soundtrack for this chapter is "I'm So Sick" by Flyleaf, "Hey" by Red Hot Chilli Peppers, "I Think I'm Paranoid" by Garbage, "It's My Life" by No Doubt, "Get It Up" by MSI, and "Life is Beautiful" by Sixx AM.

Text means normal writing.

'Text' means thoughts.

'Text' means Inner Sakura's thoughts.

Text means flashback.

"It was all over the news yesterday," Gaara explained, removing his arms from her body.

The motion forced Sakura to break her stare with Orochimaru and connect gazes with Gaara instead. He brought his hands to hold her cheeks, burning red with the anger he could feel emanating from her. Sakura witnessed the grimace that crossed his features for a brief second and tried to leave his grasp so his injured arm wouldn't be in such an uncomfortable position. Her expression immediately became tender.

Gaara held her still, taking the pain in exchange for his proximity to Sakura.

"I expected them to keep talking about it, like they did with that mass murderer who escaped from prison last summer," Gaara continued, smoothing his thumbs over her angular jaw, her small nose, her smooth cheeks.

Sakura reached up to cover his wandering hands with her own, wrapping her fingers around his. She pressed them together gently, aware of the hurt she knew he was feeling. Bending her head down, she brought them to her lips and she touched soft kisses to his palms and knuckles.

Her hands cupped his as she placed them between their chests, thumbs stroking absentmindedly while she responded.

"The Uchihas probably threatened to shut down the stations or end some lives," Sakura speculated, tilting her head back up. "The Massacre was the biggest event to ever take place in Konoha. There's no reason why they wouldn't be concerned with the guy who took the rap for it."

"Sakura, this means you're going to have to either move in with me or have one of us move in with you," Gaara said sternly.

Sakura's expression reverted to her original fuming stare.

"Gaara, I am perfectly capable of-"

"Putting yourself in a position where someone can take advantage of you, and I won't sit back this time and let you get torn apart again, do you understand me?"

Sakura's mouth moved with the intention to have sound come out, but couldn't do anything but shake her head. She wanted to tell him she wasn't the same pre-teen girl who was blindly in love with a killer, but imagining herself admitting that stole her voice.

He hadn't known how close she and Zabuza were. Everyone knew they were close friends, but that wasn't it for her. She was in love with the boy. Hopelessly, obsessively, impossibly in love with him. And her broken heart wasn't because he had betrayed their friendship, but because he had filled her mind and heart with such intense feelings of love only to do the most horrendous thing imaginable.

And what happened in their last moments together that very morning before school started.

But she couldn't dwell on that right now. Her primary concern was getting home and figuring out how she would deal with the Uchihas, namely Orochimaru, and Gaara's group without giving herself up.

With a final glance at Orochimaru's now turned form, Sakura encompassed Gaara's good hand and tugged him in the direction of her home. She wouldn't dare speak for the rest of the night, no matter the prodding and digging she was bound to get.

Her being in love with Zabuza was one of her darkest secrets, but it was merely one of the many twisted ones she just couldn't admit to yet.

Gaara had spent the night at Sakura's. That Saturday morning he slept in while she got up early to contemplate. She stayed in her pjs all day and Gaara never changed out of his clothes from the previous day. She finished her homework, did all the readings and assignments for the following week, and helped Gaara with the work he had just so happened to have with him. After a dinner of ham sandwiches and sugar cookies, the two sat down on the couch and watched their favorite French film.

Gaara spent the night once again.

Sunday he went home while Sakura slept in. When Sakura woke up, Gaara wasn't beside her and assumed he had left for good. Once she brushed her teeth and fixed her hair into a bun, Sakura decided to have breakfast. Leaving her room, she never noticed the backpack sitting on the floor next to the side of the bed Gaara slept on.

A/N: I am changing the rating from T to M because of all the swearing, discussion/implication of rape, and violence/death.

"Thank you, Lee, this is fine," Sakura growled, fingers pale from the intensity she held her bag with. "Gaara is inside. I'll be fine walking the whole two steps through the doors."

Lee's bob quivered as he nodded his head, bowing forward with a look of concentration on his face.

"I shall return to check on you during the break of classes, Sakura," he informed her, eyes sparkling with determination.

Sakura smacked her forehead against her hand.

"Gaara," Sakura stated loudly and slowly, "is in class with me."

Lee opened his mouth to reply but Sakura sent him a look that ended every thought in his head. And then the bell rang. Sakura swore under her breath and gave the door to the class a good shove as she entered. There was a grunt as the door collided with something hard, and a splash as the smell of coffee permeated the air.

And spread across her bare toes.

"Ow!" she cried, jumping into the classroom and into direct view of Gaara, Orochimaru, and Good Ol' Genma-Sensei.

She hurriedly kicked her flip-flop off and brought her hand to her coffee-stained toes, trying to rub the hot liquid off.

'Is every day going to start off horrible this school year? Or is this supposed to be the good stuff that's happening?'

Luckily for Sakura, she wiped most of the coffee from her toes, but her abandoned shoe was lying top down in the growing puddle of brown. Right next to two teacher-shoe-clad feet, also soaking in coffee.

Despite the snickers that erupted around the room, Sakura exhaled sharply and dared to look up at her teacher's face. His lips were quirked down at the corners, twitching slightly, and his eyebrows were furrowed in annoyance. Sakura winced when his gaze was directed at her, and all thoughts of hot toes and ruined shoes flew from her mind.

"Is this how you say 'Good morning' to everyone on a bad day," Genma's words were clipped, "or do you have a grudge towards me?"

Sakura's expression became awkward at his tone and she began to feel intimidated by the man standing mere feet away from her. She reached a coffee-covered hand to touch her cheek. Once the wetness hit her face, she gasped, having forgotten her hand was even wet to begin with. She heard Genma sigh almost angrily and quickly said, "No, sensei, I'm really sorry and I'll-"

Genma held up a hand to stop her before she got into a full-fledged apology. Sakura closed her mouth, brows knitting together in apprehension. He pointed a finger to the door, an indication that he wanted her in the hall. Sakura nodded and leaped over the now halted puddle, afraid to touch the door because of the man on the other side.

She heard him giving orders to the class to start working on outlines for their next projects. Soon he was in the hall, slamming the door behind him. Sakura jolted in surprise, then opened her mouth once again to apologize. She was now suddenly feeling the anger emanating off of her teacher.

Before she could make a sound, Genma fisted his fingers into the cloth of her hoodie and roughly jerked her into motion. Sakura stumbled and stifled a cry. The last thing she needed was Gaara hearing her in distress. Orochimaru had a good chance of running out with the red-head and she didn't need either of them getting in trouble by Genma or over-reacting to something she was sure wasn't going to be a big deal.

Oh, how wrong she was.

Minutes or hours, Sakura wasn't sure. She could barely keep herself from sobbing. She could barely keep herself from tearing her skin to shreds. She could barely keep herself from running out of the building and throwing herself in front of a car.

Now his behavior that morning made sense. He had destroyed her heart, her friends, her teachers, and most importantly, her trust.

Sirens filled the air, blood soaked into her clothes, and pain seeped into her body, namely her chest and head. She wobbled as she crawled out from beneath the desk. Trembling hands tried to steady her body as she stood.

She immediately lurched forward and emptied the contents of her stomach.

Once her body gained enough strength to walk, she took a step over the body lying at her feet. One hand absentmindedly wiped her mouth as she struggled to remain standing. She tried not to look at her fallen, dead and bloodied friends, but she knew it would be worse to trip over them in an attempt to get away from them.

Guilt became the newest emotion added into her Suicide Cocktail. If only she had stayed with Zabuza the whole morning and left with him, none of this would have happened. She would have gotten in trouble, but at least all these people would still be alive!

At least none of this would be her fault.

She exited the classroom, trailing bloody droplets and footprints the further she went. Any thoughts of running into someone didn't exist. She wanted to go home. She wanted to hold her parents and never see this school again. She never wanted to see another man other than her father ever again.

Her body was stiff from having been under the desk for such a long time, making her walking to the main entrance difficult and somewhat painful. But she kept going because each classroom she passed had puddles of blood leaking into the halls, beckoning the twisted traveler to observe the brutally murdered bodies by the hundreds.

Around the corner, Sakura found herself at the main entrance. She couldn't see the police cars, the SWAT trucks, the ambulances and fire trucks swarming the front of the school.

She only found herself staring at blurs, her feet leading her down the path that she knew like second nature. Her hands gave a weak shove to the door, scarlet finger and palm prints the only mark marring its perfect clear glass.

She had to get home and see her parents. Regular cars were arriving around the police border, parents and brothers and sisters abundant around the officials. Sobbing, hugging, praying. And Sakura walked out, a tiny little girl no older then 13, barely dressed in more than a tank top and shorts, and slathered with dripping, fresh blood that didn't belong to her.

She walked like a zombie, hands at her sides, eyes straight ahead, looking right through the crowds in front of her.

Mother, father, home, never to see school or men again.

Mother, father, home, never to see school again.

Never to see men again.

She couldn't see anything but blurs. She wanted to be home, with her mother and father.

Further down the walk, she couldn't even hear sirens or shouts or wind. She couldn't feel the ground beneath her feet or the breeze against her skin or the blood trickling down her bare flesh. More footprints, more crimson droplets painting the ground.

Blurs came close to her, two with red hair, two with black hair, one with silver hair, and one with pink hair. But she didn't recognize them as her parents. She didn't see them as Gaara's parents. She didn't understand that two were Kabuto's parents.

Because they weren't actually coming closer to her. They were swinging back and forth, hanging by their bound hands from a long rope tied from flagpole to flagpole across the field. The three women had bullets in their skulls. The three men had bullets in their hearts.

A gunshot rang out, loud and clear and the only sound to Sakura's ears. The only noise in the ignorant, blurry, blank little world in her head. Sakura blinked, feeling suddenly sleepy. Shouts were beginning to bleed into her receptors. Sirens were sounding and giving her a headache. The dizziness was consuming her, but the blurs became sharper.

She blinked slowly, over and over. Her feet were heavy. Her body felt burdened and weighted. She just wanted to close her eyes and go to sleep, but the images of her dead friends appeared every time her eyelids closed. She could feel Zabuza's presence beside her, in front of her, against her, but he wasn't there anymore.

Her parents were, though. As were Gaara's. As were Kabuto's. Swinging like wind chimes. Sakura blinked once more, and every detail became so sharp and vibrant she felt her headache intensify to the point that she wanted to sob. Everything was so sharp she couldn't see anything at all.

Her feet moved forward, to the woman with pink hair as pale as her own. To the man with eyes as teal as her own. To the woman with hands that nurtured her friends. To the man who raised her when her parents were gone. To the woman who began to teach her medicine. To the man who introduced her to the library.

Now they were swinging clearly, dead, blood already coagulated in puddles and trails down and around their bodies. Now two men in dark uniforms raced towards her, not swinging, but running. Men in white carrying a strange flat bed were faster. They didn't barge through the barrier of parents to reach her.

But the letters written were forming right before her very eyes. Bloody strokes across the white clothes of her mother and father and the other four parents who had raised Gaara, Kabuto, and herself. And a bloody message written from the blood beneath their bodies.

Her knees hurt when they hit the ground, but only for a moment. She couldn't understand why everything had gotten taller. She couldn't understand why men were running to her, screaming for each other to hurry up and get her onto the flat white bed.

Her stomach was throbbing now, and chills were caressing her body, trying to erase the pain she was beginning to feel more and more of. Her heart ached, her head pounded, her stomach hurt so much, her legs were numb, but her eyes were focused on the cryptic message ahead of her, becoming clearer as the men in uniforms got closer.

Sakura blinked, eyelids staying closed for more than a second, but she forced them open again to read that message, the words dedicated to her, and only her.

And she smiled a horrific, crimson-tinted smile before the men arrived to her side. Everything faded and bubbled into a whirl of color, then blissful black with those words staining the backs of her eyelids.

Be Free Sakura.

Sakura wanted to ask her teacher where they were going but felt that even breaking their verbal silence to gasp would make him all the more furious. She took large steps to accommodate the pace Genma was stomping at. Sakura knew that this anger of his was well beyond a spilled cup of coffee.

She was afraid to know just how far beyond.

They rounded a corner in the basement, the dark empty hall an omen of bad fortune to Sakura's over-suspicious brain. Keys were in Genma's hand, then the door, and then she was in the classroom faster than she could comprehend. Darkness swallowed her from the front as she stumbled to gain her balance, then light filled the room as her teacher locked the door almost violently behind her.

Sakura was now very worried. She could have understood if Genma had taken her to the office, the in-school suspension room down the hall, or even another teacher's classroom, but to go through the effort of unlocking a classroom and isolating them entirely made her more than nervous.

Now she had to wonder what exactly his intentions were while they were alone.

Feeling as if she had no choice, she finally spoke up. "Sensei, I-"

"What the hell kind of game do you think you're playing, Sakura?"

Sakura was so taken aback by the sheer fury his words held she stumbled backwards, colliding with the desks behind her. The legs of the desk she settled on screeched across the floor as Genma closed the distance between them.

"Do you have any idea how much trouble you're in?"

Sakura confusedly gazed at her teacher, completely ignorant to the reasoning behind this rant and his terrifying actions.

"This has nothing to do with my hoodie and flip-flops, does it?" Sakura asked, afraid that his answer would lead to some serious talking.

"Do not toy with me, Sakura," Genma growled, slamming his hands down on either side of her body, effectively caging her in against the desk.

"I'm not effin' toying with you!" she snapped before she realized her anger was surfacing.

Sakura could feel his furious exhales on her face, soaked in the heat he radiated, inhaled the smell of him, quivered at his presence so close to her body.

"You are moving in far too close for comfort."

Sakura scoffed, furrowing her brows.

"Whose comfort? Mine?" she hissed. "Or yours?"


"I'm doing exactly what I was told to do, sensei," she spat. "He's coming back, just like I promised, and until he gets here, I can lure the other bird in before launching the stone."

"This is getting out of hand, and you know it," Genma reprimanded.

Sakura let out a harsh, bitter snort of a laugh. "That's your jealousy talking, sensei!" she provoked. "We've barely even begun!"

"I cannot let you go through with this-"

"You have no choice in the matter-"

"I have everychoice in the matter, Sakura!"

She was silent for a long moment. She stared at him, scrutinizing his face, searching his eyes for sincerity. She shook her head.

"I'm not here because I want to be!" she bellowed. "How can you penalize me because I was friends with somebody?"

"You know more about him-"

"And I told you everything I knew five years ago! I haven't seen him in five years so how the fuck do you expect me to know anything more?"

His fingers were suddenly around her throat, applying enough pressure to make it hard to breathe. Her hands immediately wrapped around his wrists.

"You had better remember who you're talking to," he threatened, voice low. "I'm your only chance out of here, so you better get your head out of the clouds and realize that this is real life."

"I'm sick of your fucking shitand I'm done with all of this!" she forced between gasps of air. "Go ahead and turn me in because there is no fucking way I'm-mnn!"

Her hands fisted the fabric around his upper arms, fingers digging into the flesh and the defined muscle beneath. She couldn't open her eyes even if she wanted to while his lips were securely fastened over her own. His fingers easily fit over her jaw and beneath her bent knee, the hand at her chin pressuring her mouth to open while the one at her leg set upon heaving her body towards his own.

She gasped at the harshness of his touch and he spared no moments in taking advantage of her parted lips, making her feel as if he would devour her if given the chance. She couldn't help the whimper that escaped her as he dominated her motions with his strength alone.

She tried to pull her head away but he followed her lips wherever they moved, as if they were magnets that could not defy their natural attraction and connection when they were within a certain distance from the other. Her back hit the desktop hard, forcing her to arch up against his chest. He removed his hand from her face and slid the one at her knee as high up the back of her thigh as he could.

He placed his elbow onto the inside of her upper arm and pressed his weight onto it. She cried into his mouth at the sharp pain as he further pinned her down. He pulled his lips from her soft mouth and began nipping at the column of her throat.

"Stop it!" she shouted, but one particularly painful bite to her collarbone elicited a cry from her mouth.

The hand on her thigh tugged her leg off to the side and he fluidly fit his body flush against her before finding the zipper of her shorts.

"I'm the one with the power, here."

She pounded her fist against his back and screamed for all she was worth.

The halls had never been so quiet.

"Now can anyone tell me how this passage is an example of foreshadowing? Sakura? I haven't heard from you yet. Why don't you tell us?"

The pink-haired teen stared straight ahead, eyelids drooping the longer time went by. Iruka cleared his throat and set his notebook down on his desk.

"Sakura?" he called out, receiving no response from his best student. "Sakura, are you-"

There was a knock on the door interrupting his sentence and Orochimaru's head popped in. He cast a glance in Sakura's direction before facing Iruka.

"Sorry to interrupt but I need to borrow Sakura for a minute," the pale-skinned boy explained, motioning to Sakura with his head.

Before Iruka could approve, Sakura was on her feet, bag in hand, and headed out of the classroom.

"I'm kind of surprised you even acknowledged my presence earlier," Orochimaru said with an awkward chuckle.

Sakura's foot collided with a plastic bottle, sending the litter tumbling and clattering into the barren street. Her eyes were flittering between the ground below her and the houses around her.

"I'm convincing myself you had only wholesome intentions when you told me to go on the trip," she deadpanned.

He tucked his hands further into his pockets, allowing his shoulders to slouch slightly.

"I did."

They didn't say anything for a long while. They were content walking side by side the entire mile back to their neighborhood. The cloudy sky grew darker the further from the school they went. It wasn't until a rumble of thunder exploded and literally shook everything that Sakura stopped dead in her tracks.

Orochimaru slowed to a halt when he noticed she wasn't moving with him any longer. He pulled a hand from his pocket as he turned to go back to her. He folded a hand over her cheek, standing a few inches away from her, and stared down at her head.

"Don't tell me you're afraid of a little thunder?" he teased with a grin, but the expression turned to a frown when Sakura tilted her head up, staring directly at the yellow-eyed male. "You are, aren't you?"

"What exactly am I to you?" she uttered, her tone the most serious Orochimaru had ever heard her use.

He was surprised by the question, brows furrowing in response to the unexpected words. He placed his hands over Sakura's shoulders, going as far as to hunch down so their eyes were level. As much as he wanted to crack a joke, he suspected something had happened to her and humor wasn't appropriate just yet.

"Well," he began, knowing he had to pick his words carefully, "you're the first girl to not want to have sex with me right off the bat." Sakura stared blankly at him and panic struck him momentarily as he realized she could have somehow been offended by that.

Thunder rolled again, only this time rain began to fall in a light drizzle.

"That independence of yours is highly attractive," he explained. "I've never met someone so…who…" he chuckled. "Sakura," he tucked a chunk of her bangs behind her ear, "you're somebody I wouldn't hesitate to become legitimately committed to," his voice lowered then, "granted you ever give me a chance."

Her emerald gaze intensified and he visibly stiffened before her. It felt as if she were literally delving into his mind through his eyes but something compelled him to remain where he was, bent over and so close he could kiss her before she was able to pull away.

Before he knew it, Sakura's arms were tight behind his neck, her face buried against his throat, and her body pressed against his front. His own arms hesitated only for a moment before they wrapped around her petite form, one around her shoulders, the other her waist.

"Thank you," she whispered.

The rain fell around them, drenching their clothes and their hair, but Orochimaru and Sakura were ignorant to the moisture while they held each other, each for their own separate reasons.

Sakura emerged from the bathroom with a towel around her shoulders, clad in green pj pants and a baggy white pull-over hoodie.

"The food should be here in about forty minutes," Orochimaru said, tugging a black sweater over his head and smoothing it over his white undershirt.

"That leaves us with plenty of time to kill, then," Sakura commented, plopping down beside Orochimaru on the bed. "Movies?"

He turned to face her, the corner of his lips quirking at her innocently blank expression. He watched her tuck her knees against her chest and encircle them with her arms.

"What kind of mood are you in?" he asked, rising from the bed and walking over to the entertainment display against the wall.

Sakura shrugged and rested her head on her forearm. She heard the squeak of the DVD stand opening and the crinkling of the plastic covers of the movie cases.

"What book-to-movies do you have?" she questioned, tilting her head to look at his back.

She watched him rummage for a few moments before he turned to face her with a stack of DVDs lying against his chest. He walked to the bed and deposited them in front of her.

"Pick one."

Sakura untangled her limbs and crawled to the pile slowly. Orochimaru wouldn't admit she was good at moving on all fours. Leave it at that. She scrunched her nose at the DVD closest to her and picked it up between her thumb and index finger as if it were diseased. She put it down next to her and went back to looking.

She hummed quietly as she flipped the plastic cases, shaking her hips ever so slightly to the tune she was sounding. Yellow eyes trained on her backside, watching the gentle dips and swerves it made.

'She's doing this on purpose,' Orochimaru thought grudgingly, crossing his arms over his chest.

He heard her gasp and barely moved his gaze back to her face in time to catch the DVD pelted at his chest.

"That one! 'Along Came a Spider' was beautiful and it didn't massacre the book all that much, either," Sakura bubbled.

She grabbed the movies left on the bed and hopped off, jogging to messily stack them outside the DVD display. Orochimaru was next to her soon after, popping the DVD into the player and switching the channels to the proper settings.

He remarked how happy she was as she scrambled back onto his bed, legs crossed and back straight like an eager child would be after being told they would be taken to the park once they sat still. He grabbed the remote, fast-fowarding through the previews and the disclaimers on his way to the bed.

He sat down at the head of the bed, lying back against the many large, soft pillows propped against the headboard. When the menu came up, he hit 'Play' and the screen went black. The movie was hardly beginning when the doorbell rang.

Sakura looked over her shoulder at Orochimaru who had already paused the movie and was halfway off the bed.

"Want me to come with you?" Sakura asked, still bouncing slightly.

"No, stay up here," Orochimaru ordered. "It could be one of Sasuke's idiot friends and they're worse than Sasuke when it comes to the opposite sex."

Sakura nodded and Orochimaru left. She was twiddling her fingers, taking time to look around his room.

The walls of the room and the sheets of his bed were the same olive green. The trim was done in a calming beige to match the pillows on his bed. The carpet was a blend of greys, golden yellows, blacks, and browns to accent the colors of the room. His comforter was a solid black on one side and on the other was a snake scale pattern that mimicked the colors of the carpet.

He had a full entertainment system against the wall across from his bed, a small bedside table on both sides of the bed, a golden couch and glass table to the left of the room, and a set of four chairs the same golden yellow surrounding the table.

She could see the door to his personal bathroom on the left, beside the entertainment display, and the entrance to his room was all the way to the right. She wished her room could be as beautiful as his, but the feeling of his room could never compare to the feeling hers emanated.

She heard footsteps approaching the room and instantly turned her attention to the doorway. She could smell the food before she saw Orochimaru pass through the doorway, two bags in one hand, two bottles in the other.

"Forty minutes, huh?" Sakura, unconvinced, asked.

"Maybe you take a long time in the bathroom?" he teased.

Sakura's nose scrunched in distaste and he set her bag down on her lap, resting one of the cold bottles against her leg. She jumped slightly and shot a glare at Orochimaru. He simply put on an innocent smile that didn't reach his eyes.

"Thanks," she muttered, and set about unwrapping her food.

He started the movie again, the only sounds aside from the film the crunches and slurps from their food and drinks. Sakura stared at the screen with rapt attention, dissecting every scene and spoken word, pointing out significance in certain shots with her chopsticks.

Eventually they finished their food and Orochimaru threw out the containers. His weight lifting from the bed didn't make Sakura move an inch. He knew the movie was nearly halfway through and had every intention of lying down so he could watch Sakura.

She was sitting with her knees to her chest when he left the room to throw their trash out, but when he returned, she was lying on her stomach, one of his biggest pillows tucked between her body and the bed, from her hips to her neck.

"Comfy?" he called out.

Sakura nodded, a sneaky smile on her lips as he sat back down on his bed. She kept her eyes on the TV screen.

"Wishing you could be this pillow, Orochimaru?" Sakura taunted, patting the pillow for good measure.

She didn't hear anything for a moment and started to laugh. She opened her mouth and began to say, "I was only kid-"

Then she felt a warm hand sliding down her side and her breath caught in her throat. Her laughter halted immediately when the fingers rubbed against her skin, massaging the flesh at points that sent shivers down her spine. She felt his pointed nose nudge her ear, brushing over each piercing there. His hot breath swept across her long neck and she forgot how to breathe.

"Now Sakura," he whispered, voice condescending, "we've hardly gotten to know one another." His fingers flexed slightly around her hip, eliciting a gasp from her mouth. "I don't-"

The sound of the doorbell and frantic pounding on the door shattered the moment. Orochimaru removed himself from Sakura's space and said a quick, "I'll be right back," before exiting the room. She wasted no time sitting up and trying to remember how to breathe, gulping in silent breaths of glorious oxygen.

She heard muffled conversation and wondered what was going on, but the voice became clearer and closer and Sakura knew Gaara was inside the house. She swore under her breath and fumbled to get off of the bed. She snagged her backpack from beside the comfortable piece of furniture and headed straight for the door.

Orochimaru was rounding the corner as she left his room and he appeared extremely pissed. Sakura was startled and faltered in her next step. He placed both hands on her shoulders, piercing her emerald gaze with his golden one. He lowered his voice so only she could hear him.

"There's a party this weekend that a friend of mine is throwing," he explained quickly. "You can go as a single person, or you can go as my date, but either way, I want you to go."

Sakura thought it over quickly and then nodded her head. "I'll consider being your date, but I'll go."

He gave her a small smile. "Thank you." Then he removed his hands and gave her a gentle push towards the stairs. "Have fun."

Sakura rolled her eyes and walked away from him. "I always do."

Tuesday was uneventful. Gaara trailed her like a hawk, escorting her to classes and leaving her at the hands of Lee whenever he couldn't take her to a class. Lee had spent the night Monday and Sakura dealt with drills once again. By third period, Sakura was dead tired, sore, and feeling anxious because of her teacher's presence.

Because she couldn't forget the previous morning.

She feared Genma would pull her aside and threaten her again or tease her and insult her mercilessly in front of everyone. Before she even walked through the doors, she had worked up a sweat and a horrific stomachache, and now she couldn't wait until fourth period ended.

Genma took roll call, pretty much ignored everyone, and sent them all off to do work. Gaara had a lot of work to catch up on and could only sit beside Sakura to try and protect her from Orochimaru. When her hands weren't shaking as she tried to write a script for that quarter's next project, she was sneaking glances at Orochimaru who happened to be doing the same thing to her.

They caught each other doing it once or twice and he offered a sly smile while she could only allow a softening of her brow. Lunch came and went, Sakura's stomach half full of forced food, and her zoning consumed the remainder of her classes. She was given a ride from Naruto at Gaara's request, and Lee arrived an hour later.

She had begun her studying for Friday's test in math, but couldn't concentrate enough and set aside her books. Lee forced her to eat his disgusting concoction he dared to call dinner. Another night of hourly drills ensued.

The next morning, she was even more exhausted than the day before. She had only a notebook with papers sticking out and a pen with her. Third and fourth period she continued her work but found herself stuck, unable to continue her story. Gaara was called down to the office at the end of third period and hadn't returned by lunch.

She ate less than she had the day before.

She handed homework in to the classes she had some due in and at the end of the day, she caught a ride home with Naruto. Orochimaru had only been able to briefly say hello and reassuringly touch her wrist or shoulder the entire day.

Lee had become Gaara's favorite night guard and had gone from arriving once Sakura had sufficient time to get her homework done to racing Naruto's car to her home. She was only glad she had completed the entire week's homework the previous weekend because, if she was honest with herself, she never would have sat down to do it that night.

Force-fed dinner once again, Sakura took a shower long enough to wash only her hair before she went to bed.

By third period Friday, Sakura hadn't brought any books or writing utensils to class, nor had she stayed conscious long enough to listen to any lectures from her teachers. Gaara was too preoccupied with his work and keeping Orochimaru from conversing with her to notice how unlike Sakura this behavior of hers really was.

Even Orochimaru noticed, but that wasn't saying very much considering his not-so-innocent intentions of getting together with her. Right before the bell signaling the end of fourth period, Genma woke Sakura up and told her she would have to stay after class to talk about some important issues.

When the bell rang, Sakura felt dread fill her. This was the moment she was hoping wouldn't come for a long time. Sure, this was the middle of March, nearly the end of third quarter. She had a job to finish by the end of the school year, but she wasn't ready to handle Genma so soon after coming back.

She stood shakily as he closed the door to the classroom.

"You haven't been doing your work in class, Sakura," he began, settling her with a steady gaze.

She fidgeted, squirming slightly in an attempt to straighten out her nerves. She remained silent.

"You've been falling asleep. Leaving your class supplies anywhere but where they should be."

Sakura couldn't even muster enough courage to look away guiltily. She could barely nod as she swallowed the lump growing in her throat.

"I have no choice but to talk to a counselor about this and see if we can help you out."

Sakura wanted to tell him he knew exactly what was wrong with her, but couldn't. Her mouth was dry and she was shaking with anxiety and fear. Genma walked to his desk and retrieved a blank envelope. He presented it to Sakura and firmly placed it into her trembling hand.

"Some suggestions you should take into consideration," he ordered. "Now get to your next class."

Sakura left the room with tears in her eyes, knowing what the envelope would say without even opening it.

Sakura hurriedly dumped the pink and white powder into the liquid meal Lee substituted for his dinner every night. The spoon inside of the glass was cold from the temperature of the contents, but she stirred as fast as she could.

She pulled away just as Lee waltzed into the room. She snatched the glass and offered it to him with an innocent expression.

"Here you go, Lee," she said cheerfully. "I made it for you tonight since you've helped me so much this past week," she lied.

"Why thank you Sakura!" he exclaimed, eagerly taking the glass and raising it to the sky. "I shall gladly drink all of this in honor of your selfless deed!" He chugged the entire thing, luckily not seeing the sickened look Sakura sent towards him.

He took a gulp of air as he finished and set about doing the dishes. He hadn't even mentioned anything about Sakura's lack of meal consumption that evening.

She hadn't eaten anything since the night before.

Sakura silently locked the door behind her, stifling laughter when she heard Lee's snoring through the thick front door. She sped down the stairs and over two houses to Orochimaru's home. He was waiting on the porch for her and gave her a hug in greeting.

"You look beautiful," he complimented.

Sakura had thrown on a pair of green tartan jeans, a solid black spaghetti strap shirt, all black Lo-Tops, and a pretty green snap bracelet. Make-up forgone, she hadn't even straightened her hair, allowing it to splay around her shoulders in soft waves.

"So how did you manage to get out?" he asked, escorting her to his car.

"I had a hunch he was allergic to a few things in my house," Sakura explained. "So, naturally, being the caring person that I am, I gave him a Benadryl for each one."

Orochimaru gave her a look that said he didn't believe her for one second, and started the car once he was sure she had her seatbelt on.

"He drank all four of them without even thanking me for my concern."

"So you ground them up, I presume?"

Sakura smiled as they headed down the street.

"Making those kinds of accusations can ruin my entirely positive intentions of helping Lee," Sakura playfully chastised.

As they drove farther into the city and closer to their destination, Sakura realized she hadn't taken the time to really re-familiarize herself with her hometown since she'd returned. She would have to do that some other time.

Soon they arrived to the party. The house was large and had plenty of lawn to accommodate the hundreds of bodies drinking, smoking, and dancing. A techno beat vibrated throughout everybody there, making Sakura somewhat uncomfortable since she didn't exactly think the Waltz or the Fox Trot were appropriate dances for this kind of party.

Orochimaru parked his car in the massive garage off to the side of the house, pressing a button on his key that caused the single door to descend once they were out of the car. Sakura whistled and refrained from calling him a show off.

She walked close to Orochimaru and paid close attention to the people who were at the party. Many greeted her 'date' with a slight hint of fear from those sober enough to remember who he was, and those who were drunk nodded and stumbled away. They parted the throngs of people, taking into account the different drinks each person had.

Orochimaru caught Sakura eyeing a group by the staircase passing around a blunt. He nearly asked her if she wanted to go take a hit or two but thought against it. He didn't know for sure if she would think he was trying to loosen her up or if she would be offended because she was too good of a girl to get high.

Besides, he didn't know the kind of person she became. She could be a funny, easy-going girl, or she could be a hard-ass violent wildcat. The same thing applied to how much alcohol she consumed.

The two caught a flash of silver hair and Hidan parted the crowd, a big grin on his face.

"Hidan!" Sakura exclaimed, surprised.

"The one and only, love," he teased, pulling her into a tight hug.

He pulled away from her and extended his hand for Orochimaru to shake, which he did. "So what can I get the two of you?" he asked, sweeping his gaze between the two with a sly smile on his lips.

"I'm not looking to get trashed tonight, Hidan," Orochimaru explained firmly, but Hidan knew he meant he didn't want Sakura to get shit-faced.

"I've got you covered," he said with a flip of his hand. "Follow me."

Sakura nestled her arm around Orochimaru's, gesturing ahead. Orochimaru didn't show the smirk he wanted to throw at her. He felt it would ruin the small victory. They pushed through the dancing teenagers, not far from Hidan as he led them to his kitchen.

He shooed the stragglers inside his kitchen out to where the drunken crowd mingled on the patio. Sakura noticed all of the bottles and cans that took up the room. She realized that around Hidan, Orochimaru seemed to relax a bit. Sakura wondered why he was so on edge and wondered more about why he would take her to a party if he didn't even like to go to them.

'Does he think I like parties or does he assume this is what we're supposed to do before popping the question again?'

She watched Hidan pour a pink liquid into a red plastic cup, nudging a blue plastic cup towards Orochimaru.

"Beer for you," he gestured to Orochimaru, "and for you," he motioned Sakura over, "my specialty Ball Breaker."

Sakura laughed at the name, suspicious but still amused by the label he had for her drink. She took the cup in her hands, swirling it beneath her nose and sniffing the fruity scent of it.

"Why is it called a Ball Breaker?" she asked, looking at Hidan expectantly.

"Anyone who makes a pass at you without your consent won't expect you to be able to fight back," he explained. "Once you kick them in the No Zone, they'll think twice about approaching you when you're…drunk."

Sakura furrowed her brows at the explanation.

"But I'm a happy drunk," she defended. "And I'd have to down a lot of Jack's before I can't defend myself."

"Well that's surprising," Hidan said before Orochimaru could. "But trust me, that's no princess punch you've got in your hand." Sakura tried to protest but Hidan would hear none of it. "No more talking, go start drinking. Go dance, go smoke, go sniff, go fuck, I don't give a shit, do whatever you want, just don't break anything."

Sakura looked up at Orochimaru once Hidan left them to go mill around his other guests.

She sighed and finally conceded. "This is gonna be a long night."

And she downed the entire glass in two gulps. She hardly even flinched at the overly sweet taste, much to Orochimaru's surprise. She crushed the cup in her hand and tossed it to the counter, then snagged Orochimaru's wrist.

"Let's hop to it," she ordered.

She dragged him away from the counter and he barely got a grip on his glass before he was moving through the crowd again, only now they were heading for the dance floor.

'This is nothing like I was expecting,' he admitted.

The techno beat had changed to something more along the lines of a heavy metal song. Sakura found them a spot right in the center of the grinding couples, wasting no time diving right into the hard noise, moving her body along with the percussion's cries.

Orochimaru wanted to know exactly how much alcohol was in the glass she had been given, but now was more concerned with staying with Sakura's dancing body and not spilling his cup on anybody as he tried to subtly move along with her.

He had been expecting a shy girl who would want to sit somewhere and drink a little bit, if she even drank at all. She would rather talk with him and smile a lot and give her secrets to him. He had pictured a relatively peaceful time between them, but he was so incredibly wrong.

Sakura moved with the confidence of an experienced dancer, rocking her hips and shoulders as if she were the most exotic woman on the planet. Her eyes were closed, blocking out anything she could potentially be distracted by, and she just moved. She twisted gracefully, moving her limbs in time with the blaring beats that encompassed her.

Orochimaru realized he would have to do more than make minor motions to accent Sakura's body. He saw a flash of silver before his cup was gone and he automatically knew Hidan had planned something. A part of his mind warned him he would be bound to deal with more than this before the night was over.

Hidan had definitely altered the plan by massive proportions.

The pink-haired teen wound her fingers through her hair, tugging at the softly waved strands and swiveling her hips without a care in the world. The first song ended and a new techno beat picked up. She had just begun to turn when she felt familiar hands grip her small waist.

She threw her head back and saw Orochimaru's yellow eyes gazing reflecting her intense stare. She closed her eyes again and resumed her motions, now feeling his sturdy frame following her movements closely, pressed as tightly against her back as he could.

She smiled and arched back into him, feeling him stiffen against her. One of his hands wandered up her side, fingertips pressing into her skin beneath her breast, then again at the curve of her neck. He could feel her pulse wildly fluttering and knew he couldn't blame Hidan just yet.

His fingers wove through her hair, removing her hands from the smooth, silky strands and spinning her to face him. He slammed their bodies back together, front to front. Their hips swung in unison, his hands gripping her waist, her shoulders, the back of her neck, whatever he could hold as long as it brought her closer to him.

Her fingers trailed over his arms, teasing along his sides like she was some goddess who knew the exact location of his weakness. He struggled to maintain control of their motions but Sakura was just as adamant about keeping the lead, using her strength to pull her hips away long enough for him to lean forward.

She would angle her hips just enough before pressing back against him, making sure to open her eyes for a moment to see his own slide shut. She could hear the groans he made through the vibrations she felt traveling through his chest.

Towards the ending beats of their third song, Sakura realized she and Orochimaru were pretty much the center of attention. She laughed and slid a hand into Orochimaru's thick black hair, tugging him down and halting his movements.

"Let's find something else to do," she spoke into his ear, and she was pulling him away before he could protest, just like before.

Sakura pulled Orochimaru all the way to the patio, eyeing the pool and the group sitting beside it in a circle. She finally allowed him to stop and pointed to the circle.

"What are they doing?" she asked, curiosity blatant in her tone. "Can we go do what they're doing?"

"I don't know whether to ask you where you learned to dance like that," Orochimaru stated, "or to go find Hidan and push him into the pool for giving you that drink."

"Well," Sakura began, heading for the circle of people, "Hidan would probably appreciate the pool over making out with that girl in the circle." Orochimaru looked towards the group and saw Sakura was right. "Besides," she interrupted his observations, "I took dance classes my whole life, so I mixed what I learned with what I saw." She heard Orochimaru following her. "And I'm not drunk. He didn't give me anything with alcohol in it."

"How do you figure that?" he asked, reaching out and holding her upper arm with his hand as she got closer to the poolside.

"Because I know how I feel when I'm drunk, and I'm far from that feeling," she explained, and she was completely done with the conversation when Hidan noticed her and waved her over.

"Sakura! Come join us! We're just about to start a new round of Blow!"

She felt Orochimaru stiffen from his tightened grip on her arm. She tilted her head up at him.

"What's Blow?" she asked, excited to do something other than dance and walk around.

"It's a sex game," he lied, but they were already close enough to Hidan for the silver-haired man to properly explain the game.

"So you find a seat," Sakura sat down beside Hidan and Orochimaru moved across from her beside a dark-haired girl with glasses. "The first person takes a piece of paper," he showed Sakura the post-it sized piece of paper, "and presses it to their lips. Then they inhale through their mouth," he touched the paper to his lips and inhaled, then turned to the girl beside him.

Sakura twisted around him and watched the girl press her lips to the other side of the paper, sucking in a big breath while Hidan suddenly exhaled. He pulled away and the paper was now stuck to the girl's mouth and she turned to the girl next to her.

"So you're just passing a piece of paper around? What's so bad about that?"

"If the person who is in the process of passing the paper drops it, the person they received it from has to kiss them or take a shot of hard alcohol," Orochimaru butted in, grasping Sakura's attention. "If the person receiving it drops it, the person who passed it to them decides who they kiss. If they don't do it, they face a penalty."

Sakura nodded her head, a small frown on her lips.

"I think I want to play," Sakura said suddenly, face brightening. "And Hidan, tell Orochimaru you gave me the equivalent of caffeine pills in the Ball Breaker. I know it was all sugar, but he's convinced I'm drunk. Do I sound drunk to you?"

Hidan went about explaining what his special drink was really made of while the paper continued to move around the circle, switching directions every time someone dropped it.

At Orochimaru's turn, Sakura watched intently as he touched his mouth to the page and inhaled, smoothly removing the paper from the girl beside him and passing it off to the boy on his left. Sakura didn't drop it when she was on the receiving end from Hidan, and she easily sent it off to the girl on her right without any problems.

Minutes went by and Sakura had grown accustomed to moving it from side to side, gaining giddiness with each transfer. She laughed when girls purposely dropped the paper to have their best friends call out their crushes to kiss them. She had only seen one girl take a drink because she didn't want to make out with another female.

It came to be her turn again and this time it was coming from Hidan. She pressed her lips to the paper riddled with lip gloss marks. Once she was sure she had the page, she sucked in a big breath. Sakura pulled away and Hidan exhaled hard, and somehow, the paper dislodged from her lips and fluttered to the ground.

"Shit," she whispered, staring at the paper, then looking expectantly at Hidan.

"My pick then, Sakura," he said with barely-concealed joy.

He rubbed his fingers over his chin, scanning the selection of males in the circle, many eager to be picked for a shot at making out with Sakura. He already knew who he would pick, it was obvious to Orochimaru, but he prolonged the name-calling, making Sakura become impatient with worry and Orochimaru irritated from the time-consuming choice.

Finally, Hidan's gaze fell upon Orochimaru and stayed there. A wicked smirk grew on his lips, poorly displayed to Sakura as an innocent realization that Orochimaru hadn't gotten any girls to go after him the entire game.

"I'm picking Orochimaru for this one, Sakura," Hidan announced, leaning back on his hands. "I hope you don't mind."

Sakura looked at the silver-haired man in disbelief. Her mouth even dropped open a little.

"What makes you think he wants to kiss me in front of everybody?" Sakura stalled, not seeing Orochimaru standing, and begin to walk over to her.

"What makes you think kissing in front of everyone is the mildest he's done?"

Before she could respond, long fingers curled around her wrist and jerked Sakura to her feet. She gasped and stumbled, steadying herself against Orochimaru's chest. She felt his other hand cup her cheek and felt her heart thump wildly in her chest.

'Oh God, he's really going to do this…'

His face descended, his breath hitting her full on the mouth, and she froze when her lips parted entirely on their own. She stared up at him, watching his eyes grow bigger every centimeter closer he came. She could see how sadistically happy this was making him, seeing her squirm at their proximity.

His lips were millimeters away and she was ready to pass out from the thundering of her heart and the sugar coursing through her system. She couldn't halt her quivering hands, fingers grasping his shirt in a hold that betrayed her nervousness. His heat was making her dizzy and his cologne was overriding her senses.

Then his bottom lip brushed over hers.

And sirens broke the silence.

Hidan threw his head back and bellowed, "Everybody scatter!"

Sakura didn't need to be told twice. She leaped over the girl sitting at her feet, racing away from the pool. She reached the fence in the backyard, turning to make sure Orochimaru was somewhere behind her. He caught up to her easily and they both hopped the fence.

Sakura had no idea where to go, and wondered why Orochimaru didn't just stay behind when he knew he could say his name and he would be allowed to go home without getting into trouble. Regardless, she had to get out of there quickly.

She wouldn't be able to handle seeing Genma again.

She had no idea which direction to run in and Orochimaru seemed to sense her confusion and encircled her hand, running to the right. She followed behind him, the sounds of sirens and screaming teens fading as the night air whipped past them. They raced off of the backyard, making it into the streets before taking a sharp left followed by a sharp right.

Sakura didn't recognize anything but she trusted Orochimaru to at least lead her to safety. They crossed the bridge that went over the canal, traveling along the cobblestone path that led straight into Konoha's largest park. Strangely enough, she wasn't tired and her chest didn't hurt.

Running away had never felt so wonderful.

The trees didn't haunt her like they did in her dreams. The stone ruins didn't chase her like her secrets had her believing. The grass didn't swallow her like she had been told. The paths didn't break into mouths and send her to Hell like she had read.

It was her own rapidly pacing body, fingers intertwined with Orochimaru's, and she was content. She couldn't remember being so happy in a long, long time.

One of the many playgrounds the park offered came into view. Sakura and Orochimaru slowed down, laughing at the circumstances and the situations they had encountered that night.

Sakura hadn't seen it, however, and she tripped on the raised ledge of playground's base, toppling forward and bringing Orochimaru down with her. They collided fully with the wood chips spread around the ground, bursting with laughter and chuckles the whole way down. They landed slightly side by side, their clasped hands resting between their heads.

Tears had begun to escape Sakura's left eye from laughing so hard and Orochimaru released her hand, wiping it away. She had a good two thirds of her body strewn over his and her attempt to get back up only remind them of their conversation four days previous. Sakura looked down and smiled awkwardly.

"Looks like you got to be that pillow," she whispered, gaze soft as she supported herself on all fours around his frame. "You must be pretty happy."

He tucked her fluttering bangs behind her ear, sweeping his knuckles over her smooth pale cheek. His golden eyes searched her beautiful emerald green orbs, silently warning her of his intentions, wordlessly asking for her permission to continue.

"I would be happier if I got that kiss you owe," he teased in a gentle voice.

"Well," Sakura said slowly, "you should get right on that."

Sakura heard the slight growl of a repressed laugh in his throat as he lifted his shoulders up, simultaneously pulling her face down.

"I intend to."

And his mouth pressed directly to her own full pink lips. She inhaled sharply at the sensations he evoked within her. She hesitantly brushed her fingers over his cheek and neck while he placed a spare hand on her waist. With a guided push from his hand, she allowed her entire body to rest completely against him, reveling in the heat radiating from his well-built body and the extreme warmth transferring through his fingertips.

Her head tilted forward and she opened her mouth slowly to him. He accepted her uncertainty and eased her lips between his, rubbing his hands soothingly over her face and back. She pushed her chest against him, lifting her hips off of his and sliding farther up his body. When she set her body back down, she had placed herself directly onto his stomach.

He tilted his mouth, entangling the hand at her cheek within her thick hair. He felt the moan she released and felt pride surge through him. He finally swept his tongue into her mouth and it was as if he had hit a button to shut her entire body down. Her arms collapsed beneath her but rather than panic, he pressed her tighter against him and rolled them over.

He removed his mouth from hers, panting softly while she gasped for breath, eyelids comfortably closed as their breaths mingled. He gave her side a soft squeeze, regaining his voice.

"I would love to take you home before the Spandex Queen wakes up," Orochimaru began, pressing his lips to hers briefly, "but my car is still at Hidan's."

Sakura let out a long, satisfied sigh and her eyelids gently opened.

"What's the matter, Orochimaru?" she asked, the taunt in her voice already back. "Afraid to get your hair dirty?"

"Now that depends on the kind of dirty."

The next morning, Sakura awoke against Orochimaru's chest, wrapped in his arms. She tugged a strand of his hair, waking him up, and he ended up walking back to Hidan's with her to pick up his car. He took her out for breakfast where she confirmed they were now officially dating.

After breakfast, he drove her home and dropped her off, refraining from kissing her right there in front of all the houses on the street. They exchanged good-byes and Sakura went inside her house. Luckily, Lee was still somehow asleep and snoring loud enough to wake a log.

Monday morning, Sakura came into school with a smile. She still displayed all the signs of exhaustion, but the smile on her face made a big difference in comparison to her frowning countenance the previous week. Third period arrived and she had managed to make it to the classroom before Genma.

Gaara was waiting for her, however.

And Sakura knew the rest of her day was going to be ruined.

"What the hell kind of game do you think you're playing, Sakura?"

She blanched at his words, remembering them as the exact same ones Genma had used before…

"Gaara, I don't want to hear it from you," she protested firmly.

"You don't want to hear it from me?" he yelled. "I didn't want to hear if from half the fucking school!"

"Don't talk to me like that!" Sakura bellowed, slamming her fist into the desk at her side. "Don't you ever talk to me like that!"

Gaara was in shock for only a moment, but he didn't back down.

"I can't believe you would commit to that bastard. You know what he's done. You know how he destroyed our lives, Sakura!" Gaara tried to convince her.

"I am entitled to happiness just like every other fucking person on this planet, Gaara!" she defended herself. "Even if that means dating the boy you hate!"

"He isn't making you happy! And even if he is temporarily, he won't be able to for long!" Gaara retorted angrily.

Sakura turned on her heel and stomped to the door, planning on skipping the rest of the day.

"Hey!" Gaara called out to her, and Sakura felt his good hand gripping her shoulder, wrenching her to face him. "Where do you think you're going?!"

Sakura slapped him straight across the face, trembling with restrained fury.

"As long as you don't allow me to be happy, we," she pointed between the two of them, "aren't friends any longer."

She was gone before he could even process the weight of her words.

The next two weeks went by without much of an issue for Sakura. Gaara had tried to convince her she was in danger but she wouldn't hear any of it. She had caller ID installed on her phone so she could screen all of the calls she received. She stopped answering the door after 5 unless she received a call from Orochimaru telling her he'd be over.

In school, Orochimaru had set it up so she could walk to classes with either himself or one of his friends, typically Hidan. Gaara tried his hardest to break through the defense in the halls but never could. In class, Genma had made it so Gaara would be suspended for an indefinite amount of time if he interfered with Sakura's focus in class. She spent her lunches in the bathroom or with Orochimaru, never eating.

She was skipping breakfast on a regular basis, hardly swallowing even a piece of fruit for dinner. She could barely force herself to wash her hair and body, let alone brush her teeth. The only time she put any effort into doing something was when Orochimaru was on his way over.

Every day that went by, she got worse.

She and Orochimaru went to the movies twice, both times spent focusing solely on the movie and making comments about it to one another. They had gone out to dinner once, as well. The second weekend, he took Sakura to the paintball range, the arcade, the thrift store, and brought her home to watch some rented movies and order out for dinner.

He had been noticing her lack of involvement with school and was wondering how much longer this entire plan would take to culminate. He wasn't sure how much longer he would be able to sit back and watch her slowly remove herself from everything important and pull herself together just for him.

It was that second week reaching its last day when Sakura had to make a move. She had arrived home from grocery shopping in the late afternoon. Once she finished putting her goods away, she trudged up the stairs, deposited her clothes in a pile on her freshly made bed, and managed to take a shower. A good fifteen minutes later, she emerged with a towel hanging over her front, but not actually wrapped around her.

Her clothes had been arranged to look like they were on her body. The bra was beneath her shirt, below her pillows. Her underwear lay under the shorts she had worn, socks at the edge of the bed.

And right where her heart would have been was a bright red heart envelope, her name printed in messy angular letters.

Sakura felt fear grip her chest, nausea rising in her stomach. She hurriedly wrapped the towel around her body, making sure the edge was tight and tucked in. Whoever had done this, he or she most definitely was still in her house, most likely in her room.

She took a hesitant step forward, scanning her room for feet or shadows or bulges that didn't belong. Every step closer to her bed she took, the more paranoid she became. Who was is that had gotten into her house? Where could they be? What would she do if she was attacked?

She knew nobody could fit under her bed. She could barely fit her arm under the bed. She reached across the shirt and snatched the heart envelope. Nothing moved. Her door remained open, the window was still shut, her closet door was still open.

She gulped a breath and forced her fingers to steady. Her thumb slid beneath the flap to rip it open but it was already open.

'No DNA sample,' she thought dejectedly. 'Maybe there will be fingerprints.'

She kept her eyes scanning the room while she dumped the contents of the envelope onto her bed. When she looked down, there was a picture of Sakura when she was only 13. Zabuza was holding her shoulders, pressing his lips to hers.

Sakura gasped at the photograph.

"Who took a picture of this?" she wondered aloud.

Zabuza pulled away from Sakura, frantic and jittery in his motions. Her cheeks were stained the brightest red they had ever been, but finally she knew Zabuza felt the same way about her as she felt about him. Her lips tingled pleasantly, the way they did when she waited a long time for a sweet and then finally got it and the flavor exploded in her mouth.

"Run away with me, Sakura," he begged, eyes unblinking and pinning her in a world of darkness. "I know we're young, but I promise I'll take care of us. Just come with me, go away with me."

Sakura looked at Zabuza with uncertainty. She couldn't leave her family, and Gaara and Kabuto needed her, too. But this was Zabuza! The love of her life, the boy she doodled about in her notebooks and recited wedding vows for in her dreams.

"The school year is almost over," Sakura mentioned. "A month longer, and we can leave, I promise."

Zabuza shook his head.

"No, now. We have to leave now, Sakura, before we regret it."

Sakura's eyes widened.

"Now? As in, now now? Like right now?"

"Yes, Sakura!" he irritably whispered. "Before it's too late and we can't go back!"

Sakura swallowed the tears that were forming in her throat, in her nose, in her eyes.

"Zabuza, I can't leave now. I want to, but I just c- Zabuza!"

The older boy stormed away, running as if his life depended on it. He ran across the front of the school's lawn and to a car parked on the street. Once inside, the car drove off. Not once did he look back.

Sakura's tears trickled down her cheeks and hit the ground like clear drops of blood.

Beneath the photo was a note and Sakura tried not to cry as she reached down to move the picture aside. The note was folded so she quickly flattened it out. The same writing on the front was on the white piece of paper.

"As you grow older, you'll find the only things you regret are the things you didn't do." Zachary Scott

The piece of paper dropped from Sakura's fingers and the most powerful, terrifyingly icy chill lacerated her body, forcing her to cry out and leaving her trembling from the unexplainable cold that filled the room. She heaved a breath down into her lungs, nearly crying from how icy she felt. She steadied herself by pushing down on her bed.

"And look where staying in Konoha landed you," a male voice rasped from her doorway.

Sakura's gaze shot to the door, staring at the man nearly as massive as the door.

She couldn't remember how to breathe.

His footsteps thudded towards her, calculated, intimidating her on purpose, and he was eyeing her like she was his prey. His shoulders were as broad as her doorway, his waist proportionate to the width of his shoulders, but slim and without an ounce of fat. Easily able to touch her ceiling with his hand, his spiked dark brown hair only made him appear taller. His nearly black eyes pinned her to her spot on the floor, clutching her towel to keep it up.

"Saki, don't you recognize me?" the man's grating voice only intensified the daunting aura he gave off.

"Oh God, Zabuza," she whispered, halting him in his tracks. "It's really you…"

The four feet between them were instantly closed as Sakura leaped forward, tightly wrapping her arms around his back, holding him and digging her nails into him. Her body shook with sobs and she clutched him more powerfully.

"It's really you," she repeated like a mantra. "Oh God, it's really you!"

Her tears penetrated his shirt and he roughly pushed her away by her shoulders, easily wrenching her arms off of him with the single opposing motion. There was a crazed look that dominated his features but Sakura found herself unfazed. She licked her suddenly dry lips, gazing up at the boy she had been in love with, now undeniably a man before her.

She could feel his heated gaze dissecting her matured features, the changes in her natural colors, the shape of her body, the feel of her skin. She reciprocated with every spare bit of energy she had, accepting the changes that had transformed the short boy with too thin a body and too awkward a set of ideals into this man with a solid muscular body, wide where he needed it and trim where he needed definition, and so tall he would easily threaten even the most brutal of killers.

His eyes picked up the lights from the ceiling, displaying how dark they really were after all these years. And he watched her, picking her apart, from her previously teal to now deep green eyes, her once pastel pink hair to a luscious darker rose, her once blemished skin to this smooth porcelain flesh. He knew the body she had beneath her towel must be mouth-wateringly beautiful and developed, mature like her mind and displaying every ounce the woman she really had become.

'Business now,' he reprimanded, hating how he couldn't make her his forever right on her own bed, two houses away from his contractor.

Five long, deprived years of her had only made his sanity fall farther from his mind, made his love for her become twisted and obsessive, but still solely for her, and only her. He wanted her smell, her smile, her talents. He wanted to see if she would become as attractive as he had imagined, and standing inches from his aching-to-take-her body clad in a flimsy towel and trickling steamy water, he hadn't done her justice.

"You came back," she gasped, failing in pitiful attempts at stifling her tears. "But why? It wasn't for me. It couldn't have been..."

He removed his hands from her body, knowing if he touched her any longer he would be taking off more than just his hands.

"…and I want to know why you couldn't just tell me, Zabuza!" she cried out, slamming a fist against his chest. "If you had told me I wouldn't have even questioned whether I should go or not," she sobbed, tears falling in thick rivulets from her eyes. "I would've spent my life with you, and we could have gotten married and lived on our own, making films and writing books and…and…and WHY!"

His hands gripped her wrists hard, twisting her away from him and slamming her into a seated position on the edge of her bed. He moved down on his knees in front of her and was still taller than she was. He held her fists beside her face, staring at her swollen eyes and tear-stained cheeks.

"Why did you go through with it?!" she bellowed, struggling in his hold. "Why didn't you fucking tell me! I HATED myself because I could've stopped it all! It was all…my," she hiccupped, trembling and gasping for air, voice slowing and lowering, "…fault…my fault, Zabuza, that you got hurt and sent away and did this all…oh God…look what they did to you," she bawled, trying to stand but being forced to sit by his towering body.

"Look what they did to us, Sakura," he growled. "Those fucking bastards said you would be fine, said you were fine."

"They only know as much as I allow them to. Orochimaru doesn't know a thing about how I really feel, or act, or anything about me that's real. He gets this whole alter-ego of mine and thinks that I'm showing the real deal."

"Looks like we went crazy together, then."

Sakura managed a giggle between her hiccups and sniffles. She felt his hands loosen around her wrists and reached to rub them. He realized from the angry red marks on her skin he had hurt her and swatted her hands away, massaging the irritated skin himself. While he soothed her arms, he had to keep as far away from her as he could. He couldn't afford to fall for his temptation at the moment.

"I love you still Zabuza," Sakura admitted to him. "I couldn't stop myself, no matter how much they tried to make me, I wouldn't stop because I wanted you back."

She was near tears again but was losing herself in the feel of his fingertips healing her, caring for her, loving her with each stroke and touch to her flesh.

"We'll get away from all of this once I've done my job," he promised. "When this is all over for good, we'll just leave and it'll be just the two of us." He watched the love bursting from her eyes as she pictured their future together. "I'll make you mine in every way possible," he swore, but at the look she gave him he knew she hadn't waited for him in one aspect. "You aren't a virgin," he accused.

Sakura's words faltered and she felt his fingers tightening around her wrists.

"It's not what you think," she murmured, the tears back in full and spilling down her cheeks, now red with shame.

"You spread your legs and it's not-"

"It's not what you think!!" she defended. "I didn't want- he just went for- I couldn't stop- oh God Zabuza I'm s-sorry! I should've…harder, but he hurt- and you were- I couldn't kill you! I'd already killed everyone at school and I couldn't kill you, too!"

At that exact moment, his phone went off. He was stuck in a daze, staring at Sakura in disbelief. He wanted to kill the fucker who had stolen her most precious physical attribute from her. His phone was louder, though, and to his freedom, more important.

He stormed to his feet and his voice thundered over Sakura's sobs into the communication device. He grew more furious with each passing second and finally snapped the phone closed, nearly whipping it against the wall in favor of comforting Sakura and getting the name of the guy who had ruined her.

"I've been here too long already," he explained, wanting to put a bullet in his own head for having to leave at this exact moment. "One week and we'll meet again. Don't ask questions, just trust me."

He was gone before she could say another word. Now she had to worry about whom else would find out about the rape.

More importantly, she had to hope none of them would find out she had even revealed this much.

"I'm so glad you could make it, honey," Mikoto Uchiha greeted pleasantly, enveloping Sakura in a warm, motherly hug that made Sakura's heart ache with longing for her own mother.

"Thank you for inviting me," Sakura replied, holding the woman's hands gratefully. "I would have stayed home and probably slept all day, so I really appreciate an honest meal."

"Nonsense, Sakura. You're family at this point," Mikoto winked and Sakura's smile became shy as she cast a glance in Orochimaru's direction.

He was wearing black dress pants and a light purple button-up shirt. His long hair was pulled back into a ponytail and she felt superior to any cat for she could walk by and swat it to her heart's content.

His mother had on a beautiful white spring dress with delicate blue lace trim and blossoming flowers across the chest. Her long legs were clad in short-heeled shoes that match the blue of her dress. Blue jewelry adorned her ears and throat and she had even done her fingernails in a French-tipped style.

She didn't need anything to make her look any more beautiful than she already was, though. The woman could have easily been a model considering her appearance was far more flattering than her age.

She made Sakura feel inadequate as she stood in rose-colored high heels that matched her dress. It was mostly white with the same rose-shaded trim along the hem, coming to her knees. The dress displayed glittering pink blossoms that trailed along the right side and spread along the bottom. The same pink lace made the straps that delicately shaped her shoulders.

While Mikoto's dress accentuated her envy-inducing figure, Sakura's seemed to be a size or two too big. It wasn't a topic of conversation, but her weight loss most definitely did not go unnoticed by Orochimaru, and Sakura was regretting not eating as much more than anything, but she knew she couldn't make herself eat when she wasn't hungry.

She felt inferior to his mother in so many ways and this wasn't making her feel any better.

Of course, Orochimaru told her she was the most gorgeous girl he had ever seen in his life the moment his mother went and tended to the lamb cooking in the kitchen. A brief kiss settled her nerves some, but the feel of his strong body surrounding and supporting her wouldn't force the anxious feelings that made her stomach hurt.

She knew she would be spending the night at that Uchiha's because Mikoto wanted Sakura to experience the entire Uchiha-Style Easter celebration. The next morning, she would join them for breakfast and then she would be allowed to go home. She feared she wouldn't get to see Zabuza, or that he would think she had intentionally told him those things just to make a fool of him.

If it came down to it, she would pick Zabuza, but Orochimaru had been her stability as her 'depression' escalated. Gaara's absence and Genma's constant presence drove her out of her mind. The pressure to get her job done and breaking an undeserving man's heart only made her want to dive in front of a bullet more.

Sakura had felt a little uncomfortable eating between Sasuke and Orochimaru but she didn't complain. She forced herself to eat more than she felt like eating, knowing she could feign hunger, shovel away as much as she wanted, and not feel overly full because she wasn't hungry to begin with.

She spent dessert in front of the fireplace, sitting across Orochimaru's lap. She had one arm around his shoulders and he had one around her waist. They shared a piece of cheesecake, taking turns feeding one another. Mikoto just so happened to require the assistance of her husband and other sons, leaving the two to their own devices with a gentle smile that lit her eyes.

Orochimaru was enjoying the moment too much to break it by asking Sakura how she was feeling. The grandfather clock started crying out the ticks for each number of the time. It being midnight, Orochimaru took the plate from Sakura with one hand, squeezing her side with the other.

"Why don't you go get a shower in before bed?" he suggested, lifting her off his lap and depositing her on the ground.

She gave a nod and pressed a chaste kiss to his cheek before she sauntered from the room. Orochimaru headed into the kitchen to wash the dishes, deciding he would give Sakura a half hour to herself before he came up and began questioning her. The maid in the kitchen was busily scrubbing away at the dishes and he dismissed her, promising he would take care of them himself.

The staircase was located at the end of the hall, making it difficult for Sakura to get to Orochimaru's room without taking a detour. Straight down the hall, a turn to the left, and another sharp left allowed her instant access to the staircase. The problem, however, was the fact that Fugaku's offices were behind the closed doors of the hallway.

The pros: she could easily say she was heading upstairs or outside for a minute to herself. The cons: she was afraid of who she would run into and how quickly she would unravel.

'It's now or never, Sakura,' she chided, and slowed her steps until they were silent.

She listened to the noises of the house, the whirs of the heating system, the soft creaks of the wind on the doors and windows. She tried to pinpoint voices coming from one of the many offices, taking her time in walking past them. She felt dread grip her heart at the possibility of Fugaku having left the house just to avoid her eavesdropping.

She arrived at the final door by the stairs and didn't hear anything. She swore in her mind and turned to move up the stairs when a shout caught her attention. She paused mid-step, honing in on the noise.

Apparently, that last room was the one she wanted. She placed her foot ahead of her, resting it on the tip to quickly feign motion should anyone suddenly show up. She shifted her eyes to the door at her right, the doorway ahead of her, and the hall to her left. She had to focus to make sure she didn't get caught.

Although she didn't make a sound, the voices from inside the room weren't talking loud enough for her to catch all the sentences in their conversation. She feared moving closer because it would make her seem guilty should anyone pop up.

She couldn't afford to alert anyone this far along.

She tried to slow her breathing enough that she couldn't hear her own natural bodily noises but it only helped a little bit. She could make out "13" and something that sounded like "show". That wasn't very helpful, but she couldn't move any closer.

She absolutely could not get caught.

Unfortunately, luck just wasn't on her side tonight.

The door to the office swung open and Sakura stumbled in her footing, tumbling to the floor in shock. She was scrambling to her feet, just about to turn when a familiar deep voice filled her ears.

"You know I can get the job done!" it shouted. "Don't start doubting my abilities!"

The door slammed shut and Sakura stiffly faced the towering figure now in the hallway with her, shrouded by shadows and blending in while her pink hair and white dress stood out starkly against the darkness.

"Zabuza?" she whispered, forcing herself not to take off up the stairs.

She felt his body turn to face her and it was all she could do to not pass out right there on the floor at the tangible rage and strength surrounding him. He stepped forward, his heat pulsing around her.

"What are you doing here?" she asked, regarding his form in the subtle moonlight breaking through the windows.

"I could ask the same of you," he replied hotly.

Just as she opened her mouth to answer, footsteps became clear against the silence of the house. Their attention jerked to the source of the noise and she realized Orochimaru was probably heading upstairs. Sakura swore and twisted on her heel, skipping up the steps by twos. She raced into Orochimaru's room without bothering to see what had happened to Zabuza.

She tried to calculate how much time she had spent downstairs so she could stage the room as if she had really been upstairs the entire time. She ran to her bag which was resting on Orochimaru's bed. She tugged out her sweatpants and long-sleeved shirt and raced to the bathroom.

Tossing her clothes to the floor, Sakura forced the faucet on as high as the hot water would go and reached behind her to unsnap the button at the top of her dress. She prayed the room would fill up with steam fast enough. Clumsily she nudged the door, not realizing that it didn't shut fully.

She bent over in front of the mirror, unclasping the ties and straps of her heels and straightening slightly to tug down her tights. Steam was filling up the bathroom faster than she had anticipated, but gratefully accepted it. Kicking her shoes beside the toilet, she reached a hand into her hair and untied the braid, running her fingers through the strands to loosen them into waves around her head.

She reached up to pull the zipper down and a hand closed over her mouth. She let out a cry but it pressed harder and she felt the muscled body of a man who wasn't Orochimaru behind her. Her eyes flashed toward the mirror and Zabuza's reflection stared back at her. Her entire body relaxed and he let her go.

"Fuck, what are you doing up here?" she whispered, now noticing the open door.

She made a move to close it but Zabuza beat her to it, kicking it shut with his foot.

"Where's Orochimaru?" she asked, swatting away the steam that was curling towards her.

"Not in here," was his low-toned response.

"Obviously," Sakura hissed.

She tried to ask him why he had followed her but never got the chance to.

Her back collided harshly with the wall and she was hoisted up before she could protest or ask questions. His hard body filled the empty space between her legs and against her frail form. His lips covered her own.

Everything about him was brutal and rugged and undeniably masculine, the exact opposite of Orochimaru's tall, thin, and toned with a touch of effeminacy. Where Orochimaru's kisses were devouring and addictive, Zabuza kissed with passion and toxicity, gripping her soul at the very edges and ripping it from her while they were in contact.

She sucked in a gasping breath as he removed his mouth from hers, reattaching it to the pulsing vein beneath the column of her throat and reveling in the arch of her back and the breathy exhale she granted him. He stepped back from the wall, steadying her weight against him as his fingers tugged down the zipper behind her.

The snap of the bra clasp, the removal of the straps of her dress, the sliding of the white material from her body, the abrupt suction of his mouth on her breast.

A desperate moan from her mouth, a powerful jerk of her hips, hands digging into his dark steam-frizzed hair, heat pooling in her core so intensely he could feel it against his own groin.

His hands separated, one clenching her waist, the other the highest point of her thigh. He sucked harder, stealing her breath and leaving her gasping his name. He slid his fingers down the curve of her hip, sliding beneath the dense fabric of her panties. One brief moment of pressure and a loud tearing noise filled the room.


She fell back against the wall, losing control of herself and finding she couldn't care enough to stop him. The scraps of her panties fell to the floor, leaving her most vulnerable part against the stinging cold of his belt buckle. She whimpered, closing her teeth around her trembling lower lip. She was entirely naked with the exception of her nearly fallen bra.

And she needed him more now than she had ever needed anything in her life.

The knock sounding at the door startled her and let out a cry.

"Sakura? Are you all right?" Orochimaru's stern voice entered.

Zabuza's tongue moved into play against Sakura's breast despite the fact that his contractor was standing right outside the door, ready to barge in at the slightest hint of her distress.

"Go gr-rab my coat, will you?" she cried, hating how she was so close to having sex while her 'boyfriend' stood on the other side of the door, hating how she had to use this opportunity to send Zabuza away from her, hating how she had one more part of this phase to put into action.

"Sakura, what's going on in there?" he asked, suspicion clouding his voice. "Are you crying?"

She dug her hands harder into Zabuza's hair and wrenched his mouth away from her before she couldn't say anything at all.

"No," she panted. "I'm not cry-nn!"

She should have let him keep his mouth where it was so his hands wouldn't have moved down to where she would have no control.

"Just go get my coat!" she bellowed. "Please!" she gasped.

She barely made out his response beneath the thundering of her heart in her ears. She knew he was going away but Zabuza's fingers were working magic against her and she wanted to scream to the high mountains.

She struggled to stop his hand from moving but managed it, though barely.

"Leave now while he's not up here. You've got to," she weakly ordered, shoving him but making not progress. "Please," she begged. "Please, Zabuza."

He pulled away from her, eyeing her with lust and curiosity, but finally acquiesced and left her alone. The tears brimming her eyes weren't entirely forced. Her back slid down the wall, leaving her choking back sobs and huddling into herself. She wasn't sure how long she sat on the ground, crying like she would never cry again, but Orochimaru was inside the bathroom with her, wrapping a towel around her body.

"Sakura," she could hear him speaking, "you've got to tell me what's been going on with you!"

She could feel him preparing a list of reasons as to why she should tell him, but she had to take it easy on him. She opened her mouth and said the words that would set this plan into inescapable motion, and forever condemn her.

"I was raped a month ago in a classroom in the basement of the school. Genma-sensei is the one who did it."

Are my stories the typical, run-of-the-mill, cliché-ridden disasters that I think they are? Or am I just losing it? Because I hate all of my stories a lot right now for being so similar to each other and to everyone else's stories.

Anyways, I'm returning to my original chapter length. These short chapters make it difficult to update because I struggle to fit a certain amount into each chapter. When I extend the boundary and allow myself to write as if I'm doing a detailed outline, I can write much more at a quicker pace. You guys get longer chapters and a (hopefully) better read, and I get less stressed about on-time updates and I get the story finished sooner.

As always, thank you to the people who review. I really appreciate the time you guys take to leave me words of encouragement and criticism.

For those of you who don't review, I would really like it if you even gave me a quick "I like it" or "I think X should be more X" or "I think 'blank' should happen". You guys don't even have to sign in. I'm just trying to figure out how many people are actually sticking to my story and wondering what I can do to make it better.

Please don't forget to review, and have a nice day.

Oh, and I don't know when the next chapter will come out, but it will either be the last, or the first of the two final chapters. I'm hoping to get enough of it done quickly enough so that it will be the last one.

Backlash Symphony