11, The Comedown
( .:All we know is falling:. )

It was Saturday the fifth, 4 in the afternoon, and Kakashi Hatake sat at his desk. He had been sitting at his desk for most of the day, apart from the small lunch break he'd had at noon when he'd gone outside for a little breath of fresh air. The weather was pleasant, so he felt like he was missing out on something while cooped up inside in his office. Still, Kakashi resigned himself to his fate. His shift ended at 5 anyway, and then he could enjoy his weekend. Not that his job ever really ended at the end of the day. Kakashi didn't stop being a detective as soon as he went home. He was the kind of person who took his job home with him, and the cases he was working on remained ever present in his mind.

He had spent most of the day working on paperwork regarding the murder suicide case from the night before, trying to create a picture of what had happened going by what little pieces of evidence they had. The assumptions that had initially been made, turned out to be false. While he had spent the entire day behind his desk, other officers had been busy collecting evidence and talking to the neighbors, and the bodies had been brought to and examined by a coroner.

The information had been relayed to Kakashi, and he found that their efforts had revealed several interesting things. First of all, there had been no suicide. Where it had been initially assumed the husband killed the wife before taking his own life, it had now become apparent that both had been murdered.

Second point of interest arose from a conversation with one of the neighbors, who had testified he'd seen a man walk through the street and enter the house of the now dead couple. The neighbor hadn't seen the man's face, because he had worn a hood over his head. Unfortunately this made a facial composite impossible, but there were several identifiable features that could prove to be useful. The man had worn a long coat and sturdy black boots, appeared to have broad shoulders and had a tall stature.

But the strange man walking through the street wasn't the reason the neighbor had taken notice at all. The neighbor happened to be into the purebred dog fancy. He was a collie breeder and regularly attended dog shows, where he took a special interest in rare dog breeds. What had drawn his eye to the street on the night before, was the big white dog that had accompanied the strange man. The neighbor was one hundred percent sure that it was a dogo Argentino. Kakashi, a dog lover himself, found this very interesting and decided to add it to the suspect's profile.

Another point of interest was the whereabouts of the couple's only daughter, Sakura Haruno. The girl had gone with her friend, a suspicious looking boy if you asked Kakashi. Sasori Takeshi, if that was even his real name. A thorough search on his name came up blank, and the information he'd provided was proven to be false.

Kakashi leaned back in his chair and stared at the bare ceiling of his office. The two kids were supposed to come back today, but he didn't think it would happen. In hindsight, the boy not having an ID on him had been far too convenient. Everything about that boy should have raised alarm bells. Kakashi idly wondered whether he was losing his touch. "Or maybe I should get more sleep," he told himself. He had been dead tired the night before, and maybe he hadn't been as sharp as he should have been.

He remembered how the boy had reacted little to not at all when confronted with the news that his friend Sakura's parents had died. That wasn't a normal reaction. 'Tell me something new' had been the look on that boy's face. It made Kakashi think that the kid had something to do with the murder. Obviously the boy hadn't been the one seen by the neighbor, because the suspect had been tall and Sasori not so much. Still, there had to be a connection between the two…

There was a knock on the door before it opened, revealing a young man with raven black hair. "Am I interrupting?" Kakashi shook his head and the young man entered. "We've had DNA results back from the lab. There was a dog inside the house, validating the neighbor's testimony. We've also acquired camera footage from another neighbor across the street. It's being analyzed as we speak."

Kakashi nodded. "Good, good. And the boy from last night?"

"Still nothing."

That was to be expected. "I see." Kakashi heaved a weary sigh and ran his hands through his disheveled silver hair, making a decision. "Ask the chief for permission to recover security footage from last night. I want a clear image of that red haired boy. Assemble a four man team to search for him. I'm putting you in charge, Itachi."

The young man nodded. "You think he's got a connection with the culprit?"

"I think he knows more than we do," Kakashi answered. "And I want that girl found. Get an image of her too and search for her as well. Might be she's an easier find, and she could help us with the boy."

"Yes sir," Itachi replied, and without further ado he turned on his heels and made for the chief's office as he'd been told.

No additional information came up the next hour, which left Kakashi trying to puzzle together the information they had so far. A young man with a dog had entered the house. He had been let in, the door wasn't forced open. There had been a struggle afterwards, because the wife had blood and chipped paint underneath her fingernails. DNA analysis had not come up with a match, but had revealed she had been struggling with a man that was not her husband. Scratches on the painted wall along the staircase suggested she had been dragged upstairs and was consequently shot in the master bedroom.

The husband had likely been hiding in the bathroom, was found, and shot as well. The man left the gun in the hand of the husband on purpose, then left the premises with his dog. The gun was unregistered and had no fingerprints on it, the man had likely been wearing gloves. The husband couldn't have shot himself because the angle in which he was shot made that impossible, according to the coroner.

Soon after, the daughter entered the house, stumbled upon the scene and called the police. She had not been able to tell them anything useful, because she'd been in shock. She was picked up by a friend who seemed unfazed when confronted with what had happened, and who had lied about his personal references. The daughter had disappeared along with him.

After writing this all down, Kakashi noticed it was 05:12 PM. "Time to get moving," he said to himself. On his way out, he came across Itachi who was instructing three others. "Your assembled team?" Kakashi asked.

Itachi nodded calmly. "Yes." He introduced the three people as Shiho, a blond girl with messy hair and large glasses; Ibiki, a tall, broad man with a tanned skin and scars on his face; and Shikamaru, the chief's very own son. Kakashi was already acquainted with each of them, but leave it to Itachi to formally introduce them anyway.

"Strange to see you here," Kakashi told Ibiki with a knowing smile. "Replacing Intelligence for field work? Peculiar choice."

Ibiki grinned, causing the diagonal scars on his face to contort. "I'm not going to pass up on the chance to work with Uchiha over here," he said, pointing towards Itachi. "I wonder what all the fuss is about."

Itachi ignored him, not even giving a roll of his eyes at this blatant disrespect. He was only in his early twenties, but he was a very capable officer and already getting promoted for the third time. Being so young, Itachi was used to not getting treated with respect by people a lot older than him, but he took it in stride.

"I see," Kakashi replied. Unlike Ibiki, he had worked together with Itachi for some time now and he sure as hell respected the guy, despite him being half his own age. Kakashi had been successful from a young age himself, so he knew what it was like to be the odd one out. Shikamaru Nara seemed to be like that as well, perhaps with more pressure on him than was anybody else. Being the son of the chief of police, Shikaku Nara, Shikamaru had a lot to live up to.

Kakashi knew Ibiki the best of the three, Shikamaru being a rookie and Shiho being from the ICT department. However, he was sure Itachi had his reasons for picking these three and Kakashi wasn't going to doubt him. "I'm counting on you all."

The soft melodious sounds of Concerto de Aranjuez floated through the room, breaking through the comfortable silence. Sasori listened to the song going on and on, feeling no urge to get up and off the couch to pick up his phone. He'd need to search for it first, because for the life of him he couldn't remember where he had left it.

The music ended abruptly.

"Pretty music, come back…" he heard Sakura's voice from across the room. She was lying on his bed. He had allowed her the bed in favor of the couch, so the sun shone down on his face through the windows that were no longer obstructed by the heavy, thick curtains. It felt nice, lying on the couch like this. The weather was really nice. Such a shame he really couldn't bring himself to… do something. He just wanted to do nothing. It was nice doing nothing.

Sakura felt that way too, he knew. They'd both been doing nothing, just reclining on the bed and the couch, for the past two hours at the very least. He'd supplied them both with another dose at noon, because Sakura had been begging him for some more and he honestly could not think of a reason to refuse her. And when he had the powder in his hands, he had to pour himself a glass as well.

So now they were rolling again, and it was heaven all over. It was also nice to relax again, and rest. They'd been busy all morning, fucking, and fucking… and fucking some more. When the first comedown reached a low point at around noon, they both realized they were really, really tired… and sore. But those aches and annoyances were gone now, and they were simply chilling, though still naked like the day they were born because neither had bothered putting on some clothes.

Sasori heaved a happy sigh, dozing off in the sun. The lovely tunes of Concerto de Aranjuez filled the air again, and Sasori hummed along, knowing the tune by heart. The music stopped abruptly, like it had before.

This repeated a few times, the music coming alive, and meeting a sudden death. After a while Sakura knew the starting melody by heart too, and together they sang along with the song, Sasori humming and Sakura lala-ing.

"I think that's your cellphone," Sakura said eventually in a moment of enlightenment.

"Me too," Sasori replied.

The music started again.

"Maybe you should pick it up," Sakura suggested.

Sasori hummed. "Maybe." But he still didn't know where the damn thing was. "You need to find it for me." He heard Sakura shift on the bed, and a moment later the cellphone landed with a thud on his chest. "Ouch," came Sasori's belated response. "It didn't occur to you to give it to me gently?"


"That's hurtful." He stared at the cellphone on his chest, waiting for the moment when the music suddenly died, which it did soon enough. "Hypocrite," Sakura sang, causing a grin to appear on Sasori's face. He knew it was true.

Two minutes later Concerto de Aranjuez resounded through the room one last time, because Sasori finally answered the call. Well, he didn't literally answer in the normal sense of the word, because that would require one to actually speak. Sasori, however, remained silent as he impassively waited for the other person to speak. Unfortunately, the other person had the same idea. And so a minute passed by while both waited for the other to start the conversation.

"HELLO!" Sakura shouted through the room, effectively ending the silence.

"Sakura?" a voice came through the phone. "Is that you? Are you alone?"

Sakura started laughing because Sasori was full out glaring at her. But he couldn't keep the glare up for long, and soon he started chuckling as well.

"The fuck's going on there?"

Sasori decided to speak up. "Hello Deidara. Nothing is fucking going on, I can assure you that," he promised with a relaxed, even voice. He lay his head back down on a couch pillow so the sun shone down on his face again.

"Do you know how often I've called, hmm?"

"Ah…" Sasori sighed, not caring very much. "I don't know."

"Fifteen times, asshole. Fifteen times."

Sasori smiled. "That sucks."

An aggravated noise came through the phone. "Yeah. Yeah it does. Thanks for your concern."

"You're very welcome," Sasori said, very happy with himself for making Deidara so angry by doing so very little.

"Where are you two? And can you speak freely, hmm?"

"Where we are is none of your goddamn business, and of course I can speak freely."

Deidara must have sensed there was something up. For one, Sasori's words lacked the usual cutting edge. He sounded oddly at ease, cheerful even, and relaxed. Deidara didn't know Sasori that well, but what he did know was that the guy hated his guts and had a very short temper. "Thanks for picking her up last night, hmm. When Hidan told me he'd gotten out just in time before Sakura entered her parents' house, I knew she was gonna be an emotional wreck. I really didn't want to deal with that, so thanks for taking her out of my hands, my man." That had to elicit a vicious remark.

Sasori hummed. "Yeah… you're welcome." If he hadn't picked up that crying mess, he wouldn't have had the idea to use drugs, and he wouldn't be feeling as good as he did now. "I mean it, really." He stretched out on the couch with a big smile on his face, and let out a happy sigh again.

No vicious remark. That was suspicious. Deidara could only think of a few reasons why Sasori would act so out of character. "Are you fucked up?" he asked bluntly.

Sasori chuckled. "Blitzed out of my fucking mind." He heard Deidara mumble something incoherent. "How are you, Deidara?"

"I'm fine," Deidara replied curtly. "More importantly, how is Sakura? You do remember our job, right?"

"Yeah, yeah," Sasori said. "I'm keeping her safe and sound. How are you, Sakura?" he called out. He would have gotten up to check on her, but the couch hugged him just right and he really didn't feel like making any unnecessary movements. A thumbs up was raised in the air, just in Sasori's line of sight. "She's fine too."

Deidara took a moment before he replied. "How'd she take it? Her parents…?"

"How do you think?" Sasori didn't think Deidara was such a moron that he couldn't guess. Well no, he actually did consider Deidara to be a moron. Even though he knew he probably wasn't a moron, for reasons he normally would have gotten angry about, but he now couldn't care less about.

"Not well is what I think, hmm. She fucked up as well?"

"That's right. It's a stroke of genius." Sasori was still very pleased with himself, and he didn't think that feeling would go away anytime soon.

"Right. One thing though, I need my phone back."

"Ah, he needs his phone back." Sasori chuckled. "Look brat, we'll see you… sometime, anytime, I don't know. You'll get your phone back. Just don't count on it anytime soon. I don't give a fuck about your phone."

"Is that so," Deidara commented dryly.

"Yeah… relax Deidara. Just…" Sasori stopped midsentence because Sakura was crawling up the couch and chose to lie down on top of him. She rested her head on his chest and looked up to him with big dark eyes. A coy smile was playing on her lips. "I'm gonna go now," Sasori said, completely distracted. He hung up before he could get a reply.

Deidara took Sakura's phone away from his ear and stared at it with an angry glare. How dare Sasori hang up on him like that, out of nowhere? He dialed Sasori's number again, but received no answer, just like fourteen times before. Frustrated to no end, Deidara chucked the phone on the couch and plopped down in his loveseat. "What?"

Hidan grinned. "Nothing sweetheart."

The blonde was about to make a retort when a big white dog launched itself into his lap. Deidara let out a noise of surprise combined with an 'oof' because the dog was, in fact, quite big. Meanwhile, Hidan burst out laughing, slapping his thigh.

"Get off!" Deidara bellowed, trying to shove the animal off of him to no avail. "Hidan, get your fucking dog!"

"But he likes you," Hidan managed to say in between his laughs.

Deidara tried again to get Rocky to move, only to fail again and receive a big slimy wet tongue in his face, sloppily licking him from chin to forehead. At this point he gave up, sinking back into the loveseat with his face set in a thunderous expression.

Hidan finally got a hold of himself. "Alright, alright. Rocky, down." He motioned to the floor and the dog got off, causing the person he had previously been showering with a special kind of love to sigh with evident relief. "You know blondie," Hidan started, petting the dog's forehead, "I think you're just angry Rocky gives you more love than that pink bitch."

After wiping his face with the sleeve of his hoodie, Deidara shot Hidan a look. "No I'm not. Not at all, hmm."

Hidan went with a hand through his slick silver hair. "Right. So you don't care at all that she's having a good fucking time with that punk?" It was obvious to him that wasn't true. He'd known Deidara long enough to know when something was bothering him.

"I don't," the blonde replied. "I just hope he knows what he's doing, hmm."

"Whatever kid, just saying, you're seeing green," Hidan said, then got himself some more to drink. He'd been at Deidara's place for an hour now, talking half an hour about how his job had gone the previous night, and spending the other half hour amusedly watching Deidara call Sasori in vain. "If anything," he said when he returned to his seat on the couch, "You should be fucking grateful he took care of her last night."

"I know," Deidara responded with irritation. "And I'm glad, I really am. God knows what I'd have done. If I'd known she was going to her parents' house I never would have let her leave, hmm." It had complicated things immensely, even almost ruining it when Sakura nearly caught Hidan in the act.

"Yeah, why didn't you ask where she'd go, huh? She almost saw me!"

"That's no one's fault but your own," Deidara shot back, successfully diverting the attention from his own mistake.

"Fuck you," Hidan spat. "I'm doing your dirty work and this is how your repay me? Ungrateful son of a bitch."

Deidara rolled his eyes. "You know I'm grateful to you, Hidan. I couldn't have gone myself. Sakura needed to know I had nothing to do with it." He thought back to what had happened a couple hours before the murder had taken place. He'd slept with that girl… Ino. One of Sakura's best friends. Another major complication.

He'd gotten rid of the girl and any and all evidence of her presence, but it might be possible Sakura was already suspicious. Sasori had gone through her phone and found out he was teaching at Shodai. This meant Sakura also knew, and she probably knew he'd gone out with her friend as well. And then that friend had disappeared… It would take some evincive lies to convince Sakura he had nothing to do with it.

He sighed, wondering how long Sakura could be kept blissfully unaware of everything that was going on around her.

The weekend had started out awful, completely and absolutely awful. Sakura couldn't remember a more shocking experience than the moment she found her mother's corpse. There had been many times when she'd felt bad, either because she ended up in tough situations that she hated, or that made her scared or sad. She remembered when she and her best friend Ino discovered they liked the same boy and how devastated she'd been, and the time when she was accompanying Naruto in middle school and they were ambushed by bullies. She remembered when Sasuke rejected her and the pain she'd felt because of it. She remembered the first time her parents' anger became directed at her, and the first time they'd thrown her out. She remembered how lost she'd felt when they'd moved, and she couldn't see her friends anymore. She'd felt bad during all those times and each time she'd thought it couldn't ever get worse… but nothing even came close to the moment she found her mother.

At that time, too, she didn't think anything could ever top the anguish she felt.

Then the - until then - worst moment of her life turned into the happiest moment of her life. Nothing even came close to the complete, pure, divine happiness she'd felt. She'd always been at her best around her friends. They made her forget all her troubles and reminded her that there was a life outside of her parents' home, and it was hers to enjoy. Yet, all the times spent laughing with her friends diminished to nothing when compared to the utter bliss experienced under the influence of the drug Sasori gave her. Nothing had ever felt better.

And then the drug wore off. On Sunday morning Sasori refused to give her a fourth dose. He told her it wouldn't work anymore and she would have to deal with the comedown. She hadn't grasped the exact meaning of his words back then. She didn't get why the drug wouldn't work anymore, and thought he was just being selfish. She didn't quite understand what a comedown was either. She'd assumed a comedown was a drug wearing off. In other words, you'd go back to normal. Turned out you didn't go back to normal. That wouldn't happen for a long time to come.

But Sakura didn't know. She spent Sunday morning restless, wanting to enjoy the remnants of bliss for a little while longer. She listened to the radio, talked to Sasori about an endless amount of things that didn't appear to have any logical connection at all, she touched him and kissed him and had sex with him, and then they talked some more. At some point she got cold so she got underneath the blankets with Sasori, and talking turned to whispering, and whispering turned to silence. When she noticed Sasori had fallen asleep, she realized she hadn't slept since Friday morning. She was tired. How come she hadn't noticed that before? Deciding to follow his example, she nestled herself against his warm body and quickly drifted away into a dreamless sleep.

Somehow when she woke up only two hours later, she felt even more tired than before she'd gone to sleep. It was 1PM according to the alarm clock, and as far as she could tell Sasori was still asleep. He was breathing slow and even breaths, and listening to it lulled Sakura into a calm and relaxed state of mind. She lay against him silently, but didn't fall asleep again.

Thoughts went through her mind, slowly at first, trickling in one after the other. Why wasn't she falling asleep? Why couldn't she sleep? She wanted to sleep, she was tired. She felt empty, too. She was thirsty. She needed to use the toilet.

That last thought got her to crawl out from underneath the blankets and go to the bathroom. As soon as she stood, she found her muscles were aching. Once inside the bathroom, she drank water from the tap to quench her thirst. When she raised her head and looked into the mirror, she saw her eyes were normal again though she looked tired. Her hands went through her hair and confirmed what she'd thought: full of tangles. How long had it been since she'd brushed it? She was in dire need of some conditioner if she wanted to get those tangles out.

Then she went to relieve herself… and hissed when the urine came out. She mentally cursed at the burning sensation, like liquid fire coming out of her body. What was going on? Peeking into the toilet to check if her urine looked normal, her breath escaped her when all she saw was red. She lurched off the toilet seat and wiped herself to see if she'd gotten her period, though she doubted it, but there was no smear of red on the piece of paper. No menstruation then, which meant…

Sakura went back to the bed and shook Sasori's shoulder. He woke abruptly, but relaxed when he saw her face. "I'm peeing blood," she told him worriedly. "Come, look!"

"What…" Sasori managed to utter before being dragged into the bathroom. Soon he found himself staring into the toilet. "Yeah, that's not normal," he agreed. "Does it hurt?" She nodded. "Then go see a doctor tomorrow." He flushed the toilet and went back to bed.

"What? Tomorrow? I'm peeing blood!" Sakura called out. "Blood!"

"Shut up," Sasori called back from underneath the blankets. "You're loud. Go back to sleep."

Sakura stood in the middle of the room and stared at the red haired guy lying in bed with his back turned to her. So we're back at that, she thought.

She stood rooted to the spot for some time, feeling sadness inside and also a growing sense of emptiness. Eventually she walked to the couch and sat down, blindly staring ahead of herself. She thought of all the fun she'd had with Sasori the past couple days. The drugs had made him that way, and now it was over. Had she been acting different too? Most likely, though she couldn't exactly pinpoint what had been different. She'd felt free and happy and unconcerned. But other than that, she'd felt very much… herself. An unrestrained version of herself. She liked that version.

A sideways look at Sasori's form underneath the blankets made her think that she liked the drugged version of Sasori as well. He cared about her then, he was nice and friendly and sweet and funny… Now he didn't care. He didn't care she was in pain, she was sad, she was hurting, she was fucking peeing blood. He didn't fucking care.

That was the first of a long chain of negative thoughts. They became progressively worse as time went by.

Sasori, who got out of bed around 4PM, didn't pay attention to the figure on the couch at first. He stood next to his bed with one hand in his hair, looking around his room and seeing the clothes sprawled out over the floor, idly wondering how he had failed to notice them before. It was a mess. Then again, he felt like a mess. Tired, aching, feeling like he should just walk over to his window, jump out and get life over with already, but mostly just tired. He recognized the suicidal thoughts as aftereffects, so he chose to pay them no mind.

One glance at Sakura reminded him of the fact that she was not familiar with the aftereffects. She was still sitting on the couch, naked, knees pulled up to her chest, and an impassive look on her face. She was shivering, too. Sasori rubbed his arms, realizing it was cold inside his apartment and Sakura had been sitting there like that for a couple hours. He sighed, picked up his bathrobe and draped it over the girl's shoulders. "Why didn't you get back to bed?" he asked, leaning over to look her in the eyes.

Sakura didn't answer at once. She watched him, and saw he had tired eyes and messy hair, though his hair was always messy so that didn't say much. He looked pale though, and he was thin. He had lean muscles, but he didn't have much spare flesh on him. How come she'd never noticed he was so thin?

"Sakura, I asked you a question," Sasori said, annoyance coming through. "Why didn't you get back to bed?"

"This is why," Sakura answered softly.

"What is?"

"This," she said with a sharper tone of voice. "You. Your attitude. You don't care."

"I don't care?" he repeated, then touched the fabric of his bathrobe lying over her shoulders. "What's this then? Look what I gave you. Aren't you cold?" He felt like he was quickly on his way to losing his temper, so he stood straight and took a step back while clenching his jaws together to keep him from speaking his mind. Ungrateful bitch.

Sakura nodded, though. "Yes, I'm cold." The soft bathrobe helped to chase the superficial cold away, but it had settled deep underneath her skin. She looked him in his brown eyes, the look in her own almost accusatory. "You're cold too. This room is cold. Everything's cold." Her voice was soft and sounded almost desperate near the end.

Sasori let go of his annoyance, took a deep breath and exhaled. Then he sat down next to her and wrapped his arms around her. "The world is a cold place," he whispered.

A cold place? Sakura thought. Maybe that was true. It sure did feel like it at the moment. But she didn't want it to be true. The words seemed fitting coming from Sasori though. "You really believe that? No wonder the cold has gotten into your heart."

A bitter smile tugged on Sasori's lips. "Yes… I believe it because it's true. And I never claimed to be warmhearted and kind," he reminded her.

"True," she whispered back. "But I wish you were. You know… I liked being drugged. I know that's a bad thing, but I do. Everything was good, and now it's not." She felt numb, emotionally deadened. "My parents are dead. My friends are far away. My best friend disappeared and I think Deidara has something to do with it. I have no money, so I have to rely on Deidara, but I don't trust him… and now I'm here with you, and you don't even like me."

Sasori didn't try to correct her whispered words drenched in melancholy. He knew where she was, because he'd been there.

"I know you don't," she continued softly, "It's good that you don't deny it." She listened to her own breathing. In and out, on and on, never stopping. Automatically, mindless… what was the use…

She was almost surprised at her train of thought, were it not that she felt so shut down. Sasori had his arms around her, but she found no warmth in his embrace.

"You're shivering," Sasori stated, and without asking he took hold of her arm, stood, and took her to the bathroom. The bathrobe had fallen off Sakura's shoulders, lying forgotten on the couch. The pink haired girl hugged herself while she stood on the cold tiles, watching Sasori turn on the shower. "And you're skinny," she told him belatedly. "At least my shivering will go away." The heat from the water coming out of the showerhead was already drifting through the bathroom. Sakura wanted it to stay there, so she closed the door before joining Sasori in the shower.

She immediately recoiled when the water touched her skin and stumbled back out. "How can you stand water that hot?" She was cold all over, and the warm –no, bloody hot– water felt like it burned through her skin. She glanced at the toilet, knowing she needed to go pee again but not daring to, afraid of the pain.

"Get in here," Sasori called out. When Sakura refused, he got out of his way to drag the struggling girl underneath the spray of hot water. "I may be skinny, but I'm stronger than you," he reminded her while he held her in place.

She didn't reply, trying her best to wriggle out of his grasp, but when she realized she wouldn't succeed she resigned herself to her fate. In the end it didn't take very long for her to adjust to the heat, but she couldn't say she liked it very much. Then again, she couldn't think of anything she liked at the moment.

Sasori squirted some shampoo on Sakura's head and massaged it through her hair. In return he wanted her to do the same and she obliged, though not with much enthusiasm. But it didn't matter to Sasori, because he very much enjoyed the girl's hands going through his hair and over his scalp until it foamed excessively. They rinsed their hair before Sasori deliberately picked up a flask of shower gel, handing it to Sakura. She gave him a halfhearted glare, but nevertheless set on the task of massaging the fruity smelling gooey stuff all over his body.

Sasori came to realize the oddest thing. He knew he disliked people in general and he especially disliked exposing himself to others in an intimate way. That didn't mean he had issues with being naked or having sex, because unlike most people he didn't consider those things to be intimate at all. But having someone do something as simple as wash his hair, or rub his body in with foaming shower gel… The feeling of hands gliding over his skin with no intention other than to take care of him… It felt strangely soothing. He decided he liked it, even if it did come from this pink haired girl.

No… it wasn't in spite of her. It was because of her.

"I'm done. You'll do me, then?" Sakura held up the flask for Sasori to take. She hadn't felt anything in particular when she'd covered him in foaming shower gel, simply doing what he'd told her to do. Nothing more, but certainly nothing less. She'd been thorough when going over his shoulders, his arms, back, torso, legs… but there hadn't been any feelings.

However, when Sasori returned the favor she began to think she'd done something more than right. He slid his hands over her skin slowly and gently, as if he wanted to savor the moment. And the way he looked at her… She couldn't remember him ever looking at her like that, except…

Flashes of the past days went before her mind's eye, images of him looking at her with warmth in his eyes. It was fake though, she had to remind herself. She'd felt a lot of warmth for him too, but over the course of the day that warmth had seeped out of her. It had been the drugs that had made her feel that way. And yet, she couldn't help but think, somewhere in the back of her mind, that her thoughts and feelings for him had been legit.

That feeling was amplified when Sasori raised his eyes to hers. It quieted her thoughts. His hands came up to cup her cheeks. He slowly came closer, leaning down, never losing eye contact. The sound of the water streaming out of the showerhead disappeared. There was only him, wet hair hanging flat from his head instead of being set in the usual wild, messy, loose curls.

Could it be… that something still lingered when it came to his feelings for her? Maybe it hadn't all been fake. Maybe…

Sasori's thumbs gently rubbed her cheeks. Then his lips touched hers, so very softly. They still had eye contact, and despite the hollow feeling, despite the numbness, despite everything… Sakura felt something stir.

After their shower together, Sakura was forced to use the toilet and spent an agonizing thirty seconds relieving herself. Her urine was still red. Then, about two seconds after she'd stepped out of the warm moist air of the bathroom and into the dry, cold air of the apartment, the world went black.

She regained her senses sometime later and found herself lying in bed. An arm was draped around her, and she realized Sasori was lying against her. "You really aren't used to hot showers, are you?" he remarked dryly. "You're lucky I caught you in time. It saved you from a headache on top of the comedown." Sakura remained silent. "How are you doing?" he asked softly.

Sakura didn't know what to say, other than the truth. "Terrible."

"That's the drawback," Sasori replied. "Of the drug, that is. It gives you a taste of heaven before sending you back to earth." But it had been worth it in his opinion. It had been a great weekend, despite the… strange leftover feelings he'd discovered. But it made no matter, they'd go away soon enough. His high was still fresh in his mind after all. That was probably the reason.

"No," Sakura said. "Not earth. I'm in hell." Her voice was soft, barely more than a whisper. The emptiness inside her was so profound… "How can you endure it?"

Life is hell, Sasori answered in his mind. And I quite like reminding others of that fact. It was all a lie anyway, the lives people were living. They wanted to be happy, but there was no happiness in this world. It was a cruel, cold place. How Sasori endured? By becoming cruel and cold, by realizing happiness was farfetched. But he couldn't tell that to Sakura. "It'll pass," he told her instead. "This is but a phase. I remind myself that no matter how dark my thoughts become, it doesn't reflect reality." Well, that much was true at least. Reality was worse, even though he intended for Sakura to think that he meant that reality wasn't so bad.

Sakura nodded vaguely. "I don't think I'll ever be happy again."

I know that for sure, he thought, but he said: "You will."

They were both silent after that. Long minutes ticked by, one after the other. After a while, Sasori was pretty certain Sakura had fallen asleep. He wondered how long her depressed state would last. Maybe three doses had been too much… but he didn't regret giving them, especially because he'd enjoyed them along with her.

Unbidden, a song entered his mind. It was the only song he knew, and he only knew one couplet. But it ironically captured the depressed thoughts that accompanied the comedown. So he softly sang, as if singing a lullaby.

"Why live a life
That's painted with pity and sadness and strife
Why dream a dream
That's tainted with trouble and less than it seems
Why bother bothering
Just for a poem or another sad song to sing
Why live a lie
Why live a lie"

So, that was a pretty quick update huh?

Happy belated birthday to Sasori (November 8th) and check my profile for the songs mentioned here. Concerto de Aranjuez was already on there, but now you can also find 'The art of suicide'. That's the name of the song Sasori's singing.