Disclaimer: If I owned Naruto I'd have my mortgage paid off already. But since I still owe the bank tons of money, it should be obvious that I am just borrowing these characters.



He told her that he couldn't be hurt.

He told her.

But the little girl didn't listen, and if she did listen, she failed to understand.

He couldn't say that he was completely surprised. She was, after all, a medic. Her perception of the world was colored by her specialized training. By medical standards, he was "dead" long before she ever laid eyes upon him. His heart and lungs had ceased to function years ago and if that was the criteria required to qualify one as being "dead" then Sasori was very much not alive.

While her victory over him had been successful, it was not his ultimate demise. That is what so many failed to understand in the aftermath of the battle. Even his comrades within Akatsuki thought him gone for good. That suited him just fine. If the little girl and Akatsuki both believed him to be dead then that meant he was free to do as he pleased.

Still, there was a part of him that felt a bit slighted by her failure to understand his true nature. She had, after all, given herself over to the will of a puppet master. She had witnessed first-hand the battle style and philosophy of the Kugutsu no Jutsu. More than anyone, she should have understood him, but she was also young. Too young, perhaps. In hindsight, Sasori wondered if it would have been better to tell her, "I can never be completely destroyed." Maybe then she would have better understood his meaning and been more apt to expect his reappearance into her life, even if it was years later. As it was he was a bit disappointed at how easily he caught her.

Countless strings of chakra wrapped around her body, holding her still and immobile. Captured in a semi-crouch position, her upper body leaned slightly forward with her head tilted in the direction that she believed her enemy to be located. The wind twisted her hair about her face, partially obscuring her angry green eyes as she visually sought out her enemy. Sasori gave a slight tug and his chakra strings forced her to stand in a casual, unguarded position. With a flick of his pinkie, she lifted her right hand to tuck a bothersome lock of hair behind her ear. His ring fingers twitched and her hands moved over her chest, carefully smoothing out the front of her shirt.

It pleased him to see realization move over her features her as he manipulated her body, but the way the color drained from her face when he revealed himself completely was exquisite. Wearing a dark cloak not that unlike the one he wore while in Akatsuki, Sasori removed his sugegasa and grinned at his prize. There were no words spoken as he approached her. Moving around her with an exaggerated slowness, he studied her from up close. He'd been observing her for months, watching her from afar as she fulfilled her missions and performed her duties as a jounin and medic.

Upon seeing her for the first time since his defeat, he immediately noted the more obvious physical changes in her since their last meeting. She was older, yes, and her body certainly reflected that, but there was also a confidence within her that had been lacking before. A purpose. It seemed that the little girl had found herself. The confidence that came from that inner knowledge radiated from her as she went about her work, giving her the ability to make the necessary life-and-death decisions that all skilled medics must face.

But now that confidence was faltering. The uncertain and barely tested little girl that faced him all those years ago was fluttering beneath the surface of her calm exterior. Her struggles had ceased the moment he made himself known to her. Now she simply stared, eyes wide with disbelief. He was half tempted to hurt her, just enough to jolt the kunoichi out of her stupor, but seeing the way she followed his every movement with such a shocked-rigid devotion - it was simply too amusing to end prematurely.

Her reaction was quite pleasing. It seemed that he had left just as deep an impression on her as she had on him.

"You remember what I told you back then, don't you, Sakura?"

She stood still as death as she peered at him with those bright green eyes. Her scrutiny left him with the impression that she was trying to absorb and test the truth of his existence - as though tasting the reality of the moment and trying to decide if she recognized the sour flavor.

Flesh-like lips stretched and curled as Sasori grinned at her. So she still doubted. He would fix that.

The medic-nin suddenly gasped in pain as thin strings of chakra burrowed into her flesh like a hundred tiny needles. He dug deeper, pushing past the outer layer of her skin and deep into the dermis. Once there, his chakra began to coil around her nerve endings.

"I told you that I would add you to my collection," he said.

The girl twitched then, but not entirely from pain. A violent shudder of movement ran up her spine before giving way to the thunderous pounding of her heart within her chest. Her blood was flooded with adrenaline, setting her nerves and muscles on fire with the desire to fight. Such knowledge wouldn't be learned from simply observing her. Sakura's expression did not reflect the storm within her as her focus narrowed on him.

But Sasori knew. He could feel it. Just as he knew he would.

His chakra strings hummed from the deep contact of her living, breathing flesh. He felt the vibrations within her as though it had originated from within himself. The sudden onslaught of something so primal, so real — so human — gave him pause. Pain, anger, fear, aggression... It had been a long time since he had experienced such intense physical sensations, not since giving up his flesh. The reminder of what it was to be fully alive was too much to resist and his eyes drifted shut to experience the vibrations fully.


The sound of her voice gasping out that one question broke the spell. Letting his head tilt unnaturally to the side, he regarded her again and relished the electric jolt of revulsion that rippled through her.

"How indeed," he murmured. Standing to his full height, he took two steps toward her. "How did I survive? How did I know that you would be here? 'How' what, Sakura?" He smiled at her silence. "You've grown since I last saw you. A few inches, yes? And I see you've filled out a bit more, too. You don't look like such a little girl anymore, do you?"

She ground her teeth at him. "This is ridiculous! Who are you?"

The smile he wore faltered around the edges.

"This is a trick. Sasori is dead!" Eyes shining with anger, she demanded, "Stop screwing around and tell me who you really are!"

His chakra tightened around her suddenly, stealing the breath from her lungs.

"I know you remember the feel of strings along your flesh, Sakura. You know who I am," he said, closing the distance between them. The urge to touch her, to claim her flesh as belonging to him by invading her personal space and running his index finger from her temple to her chin was much too tempting. He did own her, and she knew it, too, regardless of her doubts.

He smirked at her when she tried to pull away from his touch, "I've waited a long time for this opportunity. Don't spoil it by making me angry."

Jaw clenched and eyes burning with fire, she ground out her initial question again, "But how?"

"Chiyo was right to pierce the core," he said, dropping his hand to his side. "I can never become completely synthetic, but you were wrong to think that if the core was destroyed I would be destroyed with it. You must realize that I only use a small potion of my tissue to form my core."

He gazed at her, watching her expression change as understanding came. Normally he would let the explanation end there. Repeating himself was just as annoying as being made to wait, but considering her failure to understand what he meant the first time, he made sure to spell it out for her completely.

Leaning toward her, his mouth only a few scant inches from her ear, he whispered, "I am essentially one soul with many spare bodies."

Not giving her a chance to respond he tugged on his chakra strings and forced the girl to move with him as he took to the trees overhead. The sooner they left the Fire Country, the better. She had friends, loyal friends, who would want her back. His first goal had been accomplished - he had her. Now he had to keep her.

Both were silent as they moved from limb to limb, their feet and legs moving in perfect unison in spite of her desperate struggles against his manipulations. Catching her eye, he said, "You're only going to exhaust yourself if you keep doing that."

Her resistance to his silent commands paused just long enough for her to send him a withering glare that promised violence should she gain total freedom. Sasori chuckled.

"It's not like before," he told her, pausing on a thick branch several meters above the ground. "You allowed Chiyo to use you then."

Sakura's hand suddenly clenched into a fist and shot forward, punching the trunk with all her might. Taken by complete surprise, the medic-nin was unable to summon the necessary chakra to her hand before the punch connected. The resulting crunch of bone and torn flesh filled the air as Sakura gasped in shock.

He eyed her broken hand and smirked. "I, however, can manipulate you without your submission."

Sweat poured from her as she dropped her to knees, shuddering in pain. She didn't cry out. Even now, she didn't so much as whimper. Her pain hummed along his strings, transmitting her suffering to him. It was the first sensation he felt from her that he didn't like, so he loosened the chakra that bound her to his will just enough to buffer the sensation of pain and allow her to hug her injured hand to her chest. He would have to test her limits, and his own, later. For now, he was satisfied that his point had been made. She was completely at his mercy.

"Heal yourself," he commanded.

She snorted. "Don't prolong this. Kill me outright and be done with it."

"Kill you? So soon?" He leaned over her and trailed a fingertip along her brow, his touch mockingly gentle and intrusive. "I've waited years for this, little girl, and I hate waiting."

She didn't pull away when his fingertips grazed her skin. "You intend to torture me then," she said, fear and pain still coursed through her body but her voice was steady in spite of it. He found himself admiring her resolve even as curiosity urged him to push her limits and find that breaking point.

Without reply, Sasori tightened his chakra strings around her and forced her to stand to her full height, then their journey together began anew. Sakura's pained grunts were the only sounds she made as they traveled. Sasori watched her quietly, waiting for her to submit to the panic that threatened to overwhelm her, but she retained her calm. He could see the calculating gleam that shined in her eyes. In spite of the how dire the situation was for her, she was being rational. And she was planning.

He grinned. The pink-haired medic was indeed the shining jewel he always aspired to find for his collection. To kill her without exploring her potential and experimenting with her living flesh would be a waste.

"Seeing the way Chiyo used you as a puppet was quite inspirational," he said, voice low and soothing. She reacted to the intimate tones of his voice with a delicate twitch. "But then my grandmother was nothing if not creative."

"They'll notice that I'm missing. They'll come looking for me."

He ignored her as though she hadn't spoken at all. "Since then I've been wondering what it would be like to use a real, living human as a puppet. I wondered what sort of benefit would I gain from such an addition to my collection. So I did some experimenting as I prepared for our next meeting. I discovered that while using a living person has several obvious disadvantages, there is one advantage that I must have for myself. Your ability—"

"They'll find my blood," she continued, interrupting him. "They'll know..."

"—to feel."

Her shocked silence was all the prompting he needed to continue.

"I can use anyone for this, Sakura," he said. "Anyone. But I choose you. After all, you have the most experience, don't you? You learned so quickly how to submit yourself to a manipulator like my grandmother, it seems that you are more than qualified to learn how to submit to me."

The chakra strings encircling her quivered.

"If I killed you it would ruin the fun. I have better ideas."

Face already pale, the medic-nin's complexion began to look sickly. She swallowed hard.

Sasori watched her from the corners of his eyes, drinking in her reaction to his words like a butterfly lapping up nectar. "I intend to use your body to taste..."


"...to feel, to breathe..."

The chakra strings tensed and pulled sharply against him as she shouted, "No!"

He grinned, relishing the feel of her resistance. So much potential. "You have much yet to learn, Sakura," he said.

"I won't," she hissed. "You can't."

"I can."

She pulled against him then. Using all of the chakra infused strength that she could, she managed to force them both to stop. Sasori had planned for this moment. The medic-nin collapsed under her own weight when he pushed a single string of chakra between the fourth and fifth vertebrae of her spine. The electrical impulses coursing through her nervous system were immediately interrupted, rendering her temporarily paralyzed from the neck down.

Pulling her limp form against him, Sasori wrapped one arm around her waist as his other hand cradled her head against his neck.

"Don't make me repeat myself," he warned. "I know just as much about human anatomy as you do. Believe me when I tell you that there are far worse things that I can do to you right now than this. I do not wish to kill you, but I will if you prove too difficult. Be smart and you will survive. Do you understand?"

He took her frustrated squeak as a 'yes' and smiled.

"Good." Resting his cheek against the top of her head, he whispered, "You will be my ultimate masterpiece, Sakura. You will be a living marionette extension of me. I will reshape you. And in the end, you will be more than willing to let me."

AN: Favorites and alert subscriptions are nice, but reviews are better. :)

I consider this to be a one-shot. I have no plans to continue it - at least not at this time. But who knows? I might expand on it once 'dawning' is finished. Can't say that I am a big Sasori/Sakura fan. But the whole twisted dynamic of the pairing appeals to me. A lot. Mainly because Sasori is such a freak.

By the way, 'sugegasa' is the conical straw hat that the Akatsuki members are seen wearing.