Usual Disclaimers apply. This is my first horror fic with the pairing of Deidara x Sakura x Sasori.


The Puppet House

Act 1

-Smithareen-

-n. A fragment, a decomponent part, a remain.


"Mou! I can't take this anymore!"

A young fifteen year old stomped her feet on the ground. These were one of the reasons why Haruno Sakura never liked wandering in the forest. She blew onto her hands and rubbed it together to produce some heat. The sleeveless hip length dress did not do enough to shield her from the cold. The dress was beautiful but she'd prefer wearing an ugly stuffed one if she knew that she had to go through this. It was too late to argue about that now.

Her gaze then sauntered to the crumpled piece of paper lying somewhere on the earthen floor, buried by a couple of dried leaves. It was a source of her frustration, the pathetic map as she would like to put it. Sakura wouldn't admit that she couldn't read it properly though. Instead, she blamed all her misfortune on the 'good-for-nothing' uncle who was responsible for drawing it. Her hands went back to her shoulder bag and she prayed that her cell phone would catch a signal.

Her mouth twitched. A heavy sigh left her slightly parted lips.

No signal. No battery.

Every single year, her family would go back to her hometown. It was a reunion of the sorts. This time, they decided to visit a cottage by the lake. Sakura was reluctant, but then, she didn't want to stay in that creepy house of her grandmother. Her parents couldn't go this time though (they gave her the usual 'we have business to attend to' drivel), so Sakura was forced to leave with her cousins.

The forest was extensive. The cottage was said to be six times larger than their house (a family heirloom). That speaks a lot. Sadly, the pink-haired girl wasn't able to confirm it since Ino, Shikamaru and Kiba, in that sick prank of theirs – left her to her own devices. The girl had been shouting curses and calling out their names ever since.

It took her an hour before she resigned to her fate... that she was alone and lost.

With nothing but an almost empty canteen and a worthless copy of the map, she tried to find her way towards the cottage. She followed the route wondering if it would ever end. She saw the first two markers but to her confusion and frustration, she could never find the third, the fourth, the fifth and the sixth.

The air soon chilled her bones. A tired groan came from her mouth when she noticed the sun had already sunk and the faint orange glow had turned into a shade of violet until there was none. Numerous ferns littered the area, vines and a few wild flowers. She hoped that the forest was free from wild animals. She already suffered enough.

Sakura's hands itched to get her water jug only to find that it was empty. She threw it away and it hit a tree. She sulked and her intelligent mind suggested she pick up the map and the jug so she could find use of it later, her feet however was terribly glued in place.

Yeah-right.

"Stupid Ino... Stupid Kiba..."

Sakura refused to cry even though she was feeling utterly helpless. It was funny how that old feeling when she was a little girl and was lost inside a mall resurfaced. This time, the chance of being found was slimmer and she'd be damned if she wouldn't find a way.

She could imagine the probable hysteria of her parents if they'd find out that she was missing. Sakura strived to be positive.

it simply was not working.

The leaves crunched while she slowly slumped down, her back scratching the bark of the tree while she brought her hands around her knees in a pitiful attempt to keep herself warm. How she wished she paid attention to the survival skills lesson being taught to her when she was still young.

A little later, the owls called out and when she looked up, she saw the moon staring back at her. Her stomach soon growled. The leaves on the trees shivered and she felt as if something was watching her. Looking around, there was nothing.

"Damn it."

She whimpered tiredly and closed her eyes in an attempt to sleep. Her back soon ached and Sakura wished that she was back at her lovely room. For the first time, she realized how fortunate she was. She promised she would never leave the comforts of her bed ever again. She scowled when an ant bit her somewhere on the shoulder. Her left hand tried to remove it, succeeded, but then, she stopped when she heard a tune... Somebody was humming.

The sound was peaceful and nostalgic.

Her feet moved on its own.

There must be someone here... maybe... maybe I could ask for directions...!

Sakura knew that this might be her only hope of getting out in the god-forsaken place so she grabbed the opportunity... She tried to be as silent as possible because one, she didn't want to interrupt the humming of the person and two, you never know if the person was worthy enough to be trusted.

Slowly, she neared the clearing. It was strangely well kept and for the first time after many hours she could actually see the grass covering the floor instead of leaves. Her heartbeat rose to a point where she could clearly feel its thumping.

Sakura put her hands carefully on the bark of the tree and she slowly poked her head to observe the lying person. Slowly as well, she adjusted her feet onto the roots of the tree and took much precaution in not eliciting any unnecessary sound.

The man or the woman had blonde hair. It lay around the person's head in some sort of halo. The person was staring at the moon, seemingly unmoving. Upon further inspection, she surmised that the person was a she. Her eyes were closed, and if Sakura didn't hear the humming, she would have thought she was asleep.

She was covered in a black cloak with red clouds. Peculiar. The woman's head was cushioned by her hands and her right leg was folded in a comfortable manner. Two small white birds were perched upon her shoulder. Sakura lost herself in staring not noticing that the person had long stopped humming.

Feeling a bit strained at her position, she hid herself behind the tree and when she looked back, the person was gone. She looked left and right but she wasn't there. A sigh left her lips. She just lost her chance. Or maybe the person was simply not there and she was imagining things.

"Who are you?"

A squeak had left her throat and she stepped backwards only to find herself tripping. Her eyes closed in reflex while she awaited the impact.

Eh?

"You sure are clumsy unn."

Sakura opened her eyes to find herself pressed softly against the chest of the man (the voice was clearly masculine), his arms around her. A blush broke through her cheeks while she tried to distance herself from him. A shy hand pushed against his torso and she took a step back.

Sakura felt embarrassed! Out of all the possible things that could happen, she almost tripped! Not forgetting her manners, she quickly spoke a tattered thank you.

The man jovially grinned at her. "It was nothing." She dusted her dress from imaginary dirt and reluctantly, her eyes rose to meet his.

The man's grin turned into a mischievous one. Sakura was unable to look away.

"So what's a pretty young lady doing around this forest in such a late hour hmmn?"

Her blush rose to shade higher. Is he flirting with me? Suddenly, her mind remembered her current dilemma.

"Ano..." She laughed uneasily. "I..." got lost... And lost was she, openly admiring what her traitorous eyes was exposing to her senses. She couldn't help agree with what her inner self is telling her. The man was gorgeous with the most beautiful set of eyes and mouth... which was currently moving.

"Huh?" came her eloquent reply. Suddenly his hand brushed her hair and after laughing at her, he showed her a leaf. Sakura put two and two together.

A heavy boulder came crashing on her head. She must look horrible! She tried to check if she still had twigs or leaves or anything stuck on her hair. He laughed at her antics and Sakura wondered why the ground hadn't opened up and swallowed her presence.

Another heavy sigh left her mouth.

"You must be tired." He continued. Then with a thoughtful look, he deduced. "You're not from here either hmmn. Maybe you got lost?"

Sakura dumbly nodded her head.

"I was with my cousins when they suddenly disappeared," Sakura stepped out of the annoying root of the tree –afraid to trip again and look like a total idiot– and laughed. "...We're supposed to go on some cottage that my parents own... demo..." Sakura looked uneasily at her feet.

"Can you-" The man clasped her hands together with his. Sakura's eyes widened at the sudden contact. He seemed very enthusiastic. "Then you could stay in our place then! It's been a while since Sasori-Danna and I had visitors… besides, the forest can get so chilly at night. We can look for your cottage once you've rested." He exclaimed at her and grinned. Sakura knew this type of person. Once they've set their minds on something, it will take a miracle to make them stop. Sakura, not knowing where she was pulling herself into, reluctantly agreed.

The idea of sleeping in this man's house was more appealing than sleeping on the dirty floor of the blasted forest. Asking the man directions towards the cottage would be rude especially when he offered her a place where she could sleep in... Plus it was dark out. Sakura's mind wandered, not really following where the conversation was leading until he squeezed her hands. "I'm Deidara by the way, you are?"

Sakura absently licked her lower lips which she found chapped because of deprivation from water. "Sakura... Sakura Haruno." She felt herself shivering and then later on, she sneezed.

Deidara's face narrowed into a look of concern and scolded her for that dress.

"Gomen." Why was she even saying sorry? How she felt comfortable with the man even if she just met him once was beyond her understanding. Maybe it was his eyes and his manner... it oddly reminded her of... Naruto. Deidara removed his cloak and put it around Sakura. He was left with his white riding garments. Sakura thought he looked like a prince.

"No... I don't need-", she said in a moment of protest after realizing what he just did. She tried to remove the garment but Deidara took her hand and kissed it. This shut her up. "Sakura-chan, you're cold. I wouldn't want you to get sick." Deidara said as if lecturing a small child. Sakura just shook her head and tried to pull her hand away but Deidara ruffled her hair and tilted her chin. He gave her a pleasant smile. "Just thank me."

"Ano... Arigato."

It came out in almost a whisper, but she said it anyways. Sakura was unaware of the smirk tugged on the lips of her new found friend. Then, she was furiously blushing.

The texture of the cloak was soft to her skin and the scent that it carried was, for the lack of a better word, intoxicating. Forest, dew, sweets, mint, roses, and what else she didn't know but it blended well together. Lost again in her own thoughts, she was surprised to see a beautiful horse which was now magically in front of her. The horse whinnied when Sakura's hand moved to feel it.

Prince... It was a thought that kept popping on her mind.

"Beautiful isn't it?" Sakura smiled. He slowly slid his hands on her waist and he urged her to mount it. "Where'd you get this?" Deidara slowly tapped the horse's back and it slightly moved. Sakura held carefully on the saddle.

"It was a gift to me. Her name is Akatsuki." Sakura smoothed her hands once more. It was a well kept horse.

Akatsuki...

He climbed the white stallion and proceeded to grab the reigns, his arms touching her shoulder in the barest of ways.

Sakura found that she was peculiarly lucky to find such a person when she was in need so she pushed the nagging feeling at the bottom of her stomach. I can trust him. The owls mocked her decision and the mist grew heavier.

"So how long have you been around here?" Sakura asked randomly. "I've lived here for a long time," and then he added as an afterthought, "-been here all my life." There was a slight edge to the tone that suggested he wasn't exactly happy of the arrangement but was resigned to it.

They exchanged meaningful and not-so-meaningful conversations while Sakura found herself oddly entertained by his charm and positive outlook in life. He even quoted a few words from famous people and Sakura knew that suggested Deidara was of high stature and quite intelligent. All in all, she enjoyed his presence and appreciated his sense of humor and witty comebacks. "We're almost there."

They followed a steady trail until Deidara brought them to a complete halt.

Sakura tried not to gape when she saw the place they were going to. She let out a gasp though. "Don't be surprised yet Sakura-chan." From the assertive tone that he used, Sakura guessed that the place was more extravagant when you're nearer than afar.

The whole place was surrounded by a valley, hidden from the spectator's eyes. It was a work of art, surrounded with red, oddly forming the same cloud on the cloak that Deidara gave her. She pulled it tighter and stiffened when the man behind leaned onto her.

"Don't worry, it'll be warm soon."

His choice of words suggested another thing to her not-so-usually perverted mind. Her breath came out in a short puff and inside, inner Sakura started to produce carnal images and urged Sakura to lean against him and greedily take whatever warmth that he possesses. Soon her mind was in the gutter. When Deidara pulled away and leaned back, Sakura shook out the outrageous thoughts.

They continued riding along the cliff when they come upon an interesting topic.

"An artist?"

Deidara nodded.

"Sou ka. I've never really been much of an art lover before..." Sakura dragged on. Deidara suddenly twirled a lock of her hair. "It doesn't necessarily mean that if you don't love art, you are not acquainted with it unn."

Sakura cocked her head to meet his eyes. She blushed tomato red when she found out that their lips almost brushed. Deidara was undaunted and he stared deeply into her eyes. Sakura would have melted with this... undivided attention.

"...Art comes in many forms," He smoothed her face and Sakura had a sudden urge of turning her head back to avoid this... pressure. "-and I see you as a very exquisite product of it yeah." After several seconds, she replied. "I'm very flattered... Deidara-san."

He stopped the horse and he leaned much closer, next to her ear. "Deidara-kun will do." Sakura laughed uneasily, apparently chilled at his provocative nature. Just say it. "...Dei...Deidara-kun then." She giggled and said it one more time. It doesn't sound that bad...

They rode into a lazy pace, going down a hidden passageway beneath the trees away from the cliff where she saw part of the mansion or palace or castle... She couldn't decide. Sakura strangely thought that this must be a dream. She laughed at the jokes that he threw to her and soon they were approaching the massive gates of the manor. Hunger was forgotten.

Two humongous angels held the gates. Their eyes were opened in a shocked and angry manner. Their wings were tattered and broken, probably because of old age. It must have been ancient because some of the steel that was used to be a base for its wings were exposed and rusting. They hugged the gates with their arms and a leg secured the latch into position.

A loud and almost horrible groan filled her ears. Deidara was smirking. She winced. A sound of metal clanging soon followed. Sakura started to appreciate the art and she found herself asking. "Who exactly are you?" His smirk grew wider when the gold and silver gates finally opened up for them.

A shock of green, red and white filled her eyes. The garden extended to hug the entire castle (she decided), turrets and spires of black shadows thrusting upwards. Sakura gaped at the red carpet stretching from across the garden towards their feet. It lay across the magnificent bridge of definitely eastern origin. A straight line of maids received them and in a unified manner. They all greeted their master.

"Welcome back Deidara-sama"

They remained bowing and Deidara helped her down when he dismounted from the horse. One of the servants proceeded to take the horse's reigns.

Deidara without further ado, walked before her and she stood there gaping when the maids rose and followed his back.

"Are you coming or not unn?" Sakura nodded and the maids parted for her.

"I'm... speechless... What I mean is... What were you doing there in the forest when you have such a place?" The words tumbled out from her mouth and Deidara found her childishness attractive. "I get bored here unn. Sometimes being the forest calms my nerves... and you never know if you'd be able to meet a beauty like you unn."

Sakura blushed once more. He probably complimented her a dozen of times now. She replied by changing the topic. "So who exactly is Sasori?" Deidara smiled and for a moment, she thought he was wistful. "He's many things..." She was interested with what he had to say. "Would you care to elaborate?" She asked innocently.

They continued walking in silence. Sakura waited patiently for the answer. Her eyes widened upon seeing a very beautiful circular fountain. It was part of the bridge and below it was a lake reflecting the moon.

"Wonderful!" She gasped out. Deidara's stride seemed to slow down and then he decided to answer the girl's question.

"Sasori-danna" He started with special fondness. "He's been my rival," He laughed probably nostalgic of the old days. "-my teacher, my friend and my master..." Sakura noticed the admiration he had for the person.

Silence pursued.

Deidara stopped at the foot of the magnificent fountain that was probably five times taller than her. It was carried by beautiful and naked women and men. They had it above their shoulders and across their backs. They all had their legs open to support the weight. Their expressions varied from ecstasy to pain. The carpet carried across the stairs of the fountain towards the other end of the bridge.

"Who made this?" She touched the woman's face and it felt as if it was simply real. The sculpture was perfect. Vines were around it and the water flowed from the eyes of the loveliest woman she ever saw whose back was bent forming an upside-down U. She stood atop the whole structure and seemed to form a roof above them. The swell of the breasts and the parting of the legs were strangely erotic. The only thing lacking was the man who should have been standing naked beside her.

Stop thinking of disturbing dirty thoughts! Haruno Sakura! What is wrong with you?

Sakura blushed when she found that Deidara was observing her expressions. Deidara soon led her down the fountain, the maids still following their trail in an almost mechanical manner.

"We made this... Me and Sasori-danna yeah. I did it with him when I was still a child unn. You should meet him tomorrow!" His voice suggested finality even if he used the jovial self of his.

"I'd love to." Deidara grinned at her. "I'd say that you two have much in common." He grinned and Sakura ran her hands on the rails of the bridge.

Then, she doubled over.

Sakura felt the world was absurdly moving. She heaved for breath and bumped right next to Deidara. He held her steady and Sakura found that her gaze was misty. Tears fell down her eyes and she used her hands to brush them away.

"Are you alright?" He asked. His hand checked her forehead and he cursed when he found out that she was having a mild fever. Sakura tried to regain her footing when she noticed that she was already suspended on air.

Her tired eyes went over to the man's form and she gave a stunned and embarrassed reaction.

"You shouldn't trouble yourself... I can do this on my own." She tried to wrestle with his grip when she found black spots clouding her view. She willed them to disappear but they wouldn't.

"You should've told me you weren't feeling well."

He brushed her forehead very gently, as if afraid to break her.

She was not a doll. She wouldn't break that easily. She continued to persuade him until he agreed. Her vision recovered a bit until it became clearer however it was still not enough. She allowed herself to be guided by Deidara.

She heard the creak of mahogany doors and another chorused greeting filled her ears.

"Get me a doctor! You! Ready a room for her. Prepare..."

The voice trailed and she caught him shouting every now and then. Later on, she found herself facing the dinner table. A very delectable meal was set in front of her and she managed the barest twitch of the lips until it formed a smile.


The clock ticked.

"I... Thank you... How could I repay such... hospitality?"

There was silence and she stared at the red soup served in front of her. The turkey seems delicious. There was a glass of cold water, wine if she wanted and a selection of desserts. She waited for his answer and he just grinned at her.

He wants me to eat. Okay then... that should be easy.

Sakura, with the most graceful etiquette that she possessed, tried to eat the food served to her. The number of knives and spoons and forks unnerved her and she hoped that she knew what to use. Lessons… why can't she remember her lessons?

"Is it delicious?"

Deidara preferred the uninhibited attitude of the girl. He was secretly laughing at how she tried to project ladylike image. It didn't matter to him.

"It's yummy! I mean... it tastes good." She laughed at her own outburst and wiped her lips with the napkin. Her hands reached out to grab the glass of water when her mind had suddenly gone blank.

"Tsk."

The glass of water slipped from her fingers and her other hand tried to clear out her vision, resulting from accidentally pushing the dinner plate on the edge of the table.

The glass shattered along with the numerous plates. The sound did not reach her ears though. The world swirled and a headache much stronger than the last flooded her head. It didn't occur to her that Deidara did not move a single inch from his chair but what escaped her head was that she was about to faint.

The black spots fully clouded her view and she stumbled down the chair, her hand clawing for the table yet unceremoniously tripping, then with a thud, landing face first on the ground. The fragments of glass scraped against her and blood coated the floor.

All was silent.

"Deidara."

Footsteps echoed across the floor. Deidara pushed himself off the chair and began to take measured steps towards the young woman.

Deidara looked at her indifferently. He scowled at the pitiful dress that she wore. He had a disturbing urge to rip it into pieces. She deserved something better. A frown found its way to his lips while he slowly caressed the pale face. A shadow soon covered his form. It stood close to him while Deidara called for the maids.

"Bring her to the room."


Faced with two evils,

You must choose the lesser evil.

Right?

However...

What would happen if one could not distinguish the lesser...?

...from the greater?


This fic wouldn't leave my mind until I took it upon myself to write it. The definition of Smithareen is taken upon the Devil's Dictionary (a forced title originally The Cynic's Word book) written by Ambrose Bierce.

10/17/2012 - Edited. Just using my limited free time to go over this. After I finish editing the three remaining chapters, I'll post the last installment.