Sakura sat in front of the fire with Itachi's Akatsuki cloak wrapped tightly around her body, snuggling her face into the neck of it to hide tearful face. Completely out of control, it was like way back when….when she was useless. Easily captured, easily defeated. She couldn't stand it. The Kunoichi had never seen this coming.
She had woken up the next day to Itachi dropping her on the floor and telling her to go take a bath in the lake that was a mere foot away. He tossed his cloak at her telling her she made it reek after he carried her and commanded her to wash it, and then he mentally warned her that he could see her thoughts and would know if she escaped. Freedom was an illusion for her now.
Defeated, dejected, and destroyed, Sakura went to clean herself out of her soiled clothes and carefully crawled into the freezing cold lake. Her body shivered in the frigid water but she was grateful for the lack of pressure of the liquid. Standing, moving, sitting – they all hurt her. Floating was comfortable, even if her lips were turning blue and hypothermia was only minutes away from settling in. She tried to put away the fact that Itachi and Kisame were around the bank waiting. Akatsuki were waiting for her. She scuffled. Wonderful company she was keeping.
She closed her eyes and dove her head into the water – she couldn't take it anymore, she just wanted to drown herself and let Itachi know all she had spent years hiding from the world but her inner self reprimanded her for being so weak and she surfaced.
Drown and Itachi gets all the secrets.
He's stronger; he can survive your suicide.
Then you will be responsible for destroying millions of innocent lives.
You become worse than an Akatsuki if you die.
Deal with it.
Suck it up.
Don't give up.
"Don't give up," she repeated to herself out loud in a whisper. She was an ANBU captain for fucks sake. She was rated S class ninja! She had 41 S rank missions completed under her belt! One less than Kakashi! The legendary copy ninja. God damnit. She had no right to complain. Everytime she found herself in a somewhat difficult situation, she would wait it out till her Mirai would show her a way to succeed. This was no different.
She would get away.
And she would kill Itachi.
She swam to the edge of the lake and lifted her body up and turned to sit on the ground. She began to clean out her wounds and careful dispensed minuscule amounts of healing chakra to them; she decided against using the Creation Rebirth for the simple fact that she wasn't sure if it would heal the fuck-tart's wounds as well. She was stubborn enough to suffer as long as he did too. The female attempted to wash her clothes afterwards but failed miserably – the stains and smell would never come out without soap.
So she sat by the fire, facing two dangerous missing nins with nothing but a cloak covering her naked body. Itachi didn't say anything to her when she didn't return his cloak but wore it herself. He simply grabbed her and threw her over his shoulder easily, ignoring all her internal protests as he ran beside Kisame towards wherever they were going. They ran for nearly a day and a half straight without stopping and for most of it, Sakura was passed out – hanging upside down off Itachi caused too much blood to go to her head and looking any which way caused her to become nauseous and dizzy. Anytime she thought trying to injure Itachi, he would mentally show her what he would do to her.
Eventually they set up camp deep inside a clearing in the forest. Itachi simply threw her to the side; a tree stopped her from skidding further. He went to go look for firewood and left her alone with the blue skinned shark-man. She thought about running away, but knew it would be useless. He was still in her mental realm.
'I hate you….'
The other Akutsuki man offered her some dried fish he carried with her, but she refused. She only wanted to sit by the fire and pretend that she was warm, safe, and had some control. The man who sat across from her ruined that delusion.
So instead she watched the sword welder bite into a large fish and chew loudly. Apparently he wasn't raised with an ounce of manners. Her stomach growled softly, but that only made her curl her knees closer to her chest. She should have eaten, to get back more energy, but Sakura wanted to wallow. Wallow just a little more, she brought her face down – allowing the oversized cloak to cover her completely.
Hours passed and the only conversation was between Itachi and Kisame – Kisame did most of the talking about how he looked forward to their next village and some harlot who apparently Kisame was lusting after. He tried to tell Sakura about the awesome bars but she didn't bother to lift her head to acknowledge him. His voice creeped her out, and his teeth…was he even human?
She wanted to be left alone and welcomed the silence that eventually fell between the group.
"Deidara," Itachi muttered as he glanced up into the night sky. Sakura lifted her head up to look at her captor. She hated him. He was manipulating her and using her for his own gains and his gains were the world's loss. Fucking asshole.
"Eh," Kisame grumbled as he folded his arms across his chest.
Moments later she noticed a large bird appear in the horizon over the bushy trees with a human sitting on its back. She recognized him from Itachi's eyes. He was the bomb master.
Her eyes followed the figure as the bird landed gracefully a dozen meters away from them. The man with the platinum blonde hair hopped off and with a leisurely walk made his way towards them.
"Hey! Yeah," he greeted everyone and then his eyes fell on the pink haired girl cradling herself, "Why, hello there. New member?" Sakura glared at him, how dare he even consider that! "My name is Deidara, yeah."
"Sakura," she muttered into the neck of the cloak wanting to jump into the fire.
"It is a pleasure to meet you, yeah," he bowed his head slightly before Kisame interrupted his introduction.
"What are you doing here? Don't you have a mission?"
"Finished a couple of hours ago. Sosari's out looking for a petrified wood for a new puppet, yeah."
"What are you doing here?" Kisame repeated his first question.
The blonde haired man took out a scroll from his pant pocket and tossed it to at him, "Leader has a mission for you Kisame and he wants Itachi to report to him."
Sakura's eyes darted towards Itachi and Kisame as they stood up.
"Watch her," the Uchiha said to Deidara as his partner opened the scroll.
"I don't need a babysitter," Sakura snarled back.
"Cuff her," he added, walking towards her and snatching his cloak off her body, causing her to fall over, naked, into the dirt.
'You try to escape – I'll know,' he threatened her mentally.
She didn't move, she was too horrified that Itachi had forcefully exposed her body like that. Bathing was one thing; she had control on how much of her body was within view…now Itachi had exposed her. She felt worse than the dirt that her face was resting against. She curled her body up tighter. God knows how many of these guys rapped women for fun.
She closed her eyes and wished the world away. She wished she was in the hospital. She wished she was training with Tsunade and gossiping with Ino. What the hell did she need to become a ninja for? Why the hell did she have to prove herself? Why couldn't she leave that damn scroll alone!
She was pulled away from her self-pitying when she heard shuffling footsteps walking towards her and another cloak fell on top of her body. She opened her teary eyes to see Deidara sitting beside her without his on.
She didn't move.
She didn't want to exist anymore.
It took all her will power to keep from hyperventilating into a panic attack. Years of relying on only herself, and being dependent on only herself, had hardened her but it was only a shell. Her insides were as soft and mushy as any internal organ – easily cuttable.
She closed her eyes tightly again as she tried to hold her body together with her arms – as though afraid she was going to fall apart in any moment.
"So, who are you, yeah?" the man beside her asked as he flicked twigs into the growing fire.
"A prisoner," Sakura half muttered half sobbed after a minutes way.
"Yeah," she whispered. She was not going to cry. She was not going to cry. If this bastard tried to rape her, she would kill him with her bare hands. Chakra be damned. No man was going to defile her.
"I won't hurt you, yeah," he said softly, seeing all the fear and despair seep from her face.
"Heh, sure," Sakura replied disbelievingly.
Everyone in the world was out to hurt her as far as she was concerned. She would soon have to self diagnose herself with paranoia.
"Do you want to go to a hospital, yeah?" he asked slowly articulating every word.
Sakura's eyes widened, that was not something that she thought could come from a missing ninja of Akatsuki.
He waited for her to reply, and it took some time before she realized he was serious…he wasn't teasing or making a joke. He was showing a form of compassion. A mass murderer was being compassionate to Sakura.
How fucked up am I?
"No," Sakura finally replied since there was no point in going to a hospital; they couldn't cure a hopeless life.
"So…" Deidara tried to keep the conversation going, "whatcha do to get captured?"
"Exist," she replied move her body slightly and lifting the majority of her face off the dirt. Tears streamed down her eyes unwillingly.
"You're sad," he stated the obvious.
"I don't like sadness, yeah," he replied, almost childlike.
"You cause sadness everyday!" Sakura snapped, unable to handle the fact that he was being nice. He needed to be a jackass! All Akatsuki were bastards! All of them!
"I'm sorry," Diedara whispered as the fire crackled with an addition of more twigs.
Sakura could no longer help herself, she burst into savaging sobs as her body began to tremble uncontrollably, "I'm no better…I'm no better." God…was she bipolar or something?
He stared at her, unsure of what to do. He had never actually comforted anyone before. Except for that little girl in the Timber Village who dropped her ice cream cone…but children were easier to please…and he didn't have candy on him at that moment.
"Erhm…" was his best response.
"I want to run away, but I have no chakra. I want to do something but I don't know what's going to happen. I have to do bad things and I don't want to…I'm – I'm so fucked."
Sakura eventually got herself together after a few moments. A round of deep breathing later, she apologized for her outbreak – feeling extremely embarrassed. How fragile was she?
She tried to sit up but the cloak kept sliding off since she hadn't actually put it on.
"I'll look away," Deidara said noticing and turned his head to the forest as she lifted her body up to dust off the dirt and wrap the cloak around her tightly and properly.
"You won't take the cloak away without notice, will you?" Sakura asked bringing her knees up to her chest again.
"Nope, you can keep it," Deidara smiled looking back at her tired puffy face.
"Tha-thanks," she replied uneasily as she hid the majority of her face in the collar of the cloak.
Suddenly Sakura felt something on her knee and her face shot up, prepared to defend herself, instead of seeing the sleazy bastards hand; she saw a small little bird, pecking at her cloak.
Her teary eyes turned to Deidara who was smiling proudly as she sniffled, "you-you made it?" she asked sticking her hand out of an opening to touch the clay creation.
"Yeah," he smiled, "Watch it."
The bird flew a few meters above the fire and then Deidara enthusiastically screamed, "Art is BANG!", and the bird exploded. Sakura squealed in surprise as her hand clutched at her heart. If she had more chakra, her Mirai would have warned her about it.
"I'm sorry!" he said as he leaned further away from her, still unsure of what to do, "Did I scare you? Are you okay? Yeah."
She stared at his honestly worried face and gasped for air, not realizing she had held her breathe, "Yeah…yeah, I'm okay…I just haven't been surprised like that….in years."
"Oh? I have a lot of surprises, yeah."
Sakura cocked her head to the side and gave him a weak smile as she asked, "Show me?"
"What's your favorite animal? Yeah."
"Butterfly," she responded immediately.
"When it's inside a cocoon, it's trapped and is forced to transform….it has to fight and struggle to get out or else it dies. It fights to live."
"Are you struggling? Yeah," he asked as he placed a piece of clay inside the mouth of his hand.
She watched his palm's mouth eat it, "You have no idea."
All of a sudden the hand spit out over a dozen clay butterflies. They flew all around the two of them and Sakura awwww'd when one landed on her nose – half expecting Deidara to blow it up then and there. Eventually, one by one they did explode but it was all at a safe distance away from the two of them.
Sakura's mouth lifted to a half smile as she watched the last one turn into a bursting firework. She looked at Deidara and for a moment she totally forgot that he was a missing nin. She forgot that he was a murderer. She forgot that he was her enemy. She was that desperate for companionship.
He smiled back at her, being happy that she had finally warmed up to him a little bit. Anyone that had to deal with Itachi deserved some remorse and compassion.
"So that hair color real? Yeah," he drawled out, making his foreign accent more prominent.
Sakura nodded and he tossed a few more twigs into the fire.
"It's nice," he complimented offhandedly before she tried to stiffen a yawn. Her eyes draped down slightly but shot up again at the sound of his voice. "You can go to sleep, yeah."
"Oh, are you sure?" Sakura asked. She was a pretty light sleeper…so if he tried anything…
She nodded at him and scooted away a bit so she could lean against the tree.
He watched her curl up, clutching the cloak tightly. It had been a very long time since he'd made a new friend and he kind of liked the pink haired girl. She reminded him of his mother…and this girl he once knew. Once upon a time. Before life got too complicated for him and he had to simplify it.
Sakura slept till the next day and finally woke up in the middle of the afternoon. Deidara had remained faithfully beside her, keeping an eye on her and making sure that neither of them were in any danger. While also being gentlemanly enough to keep his hands off the defenseless girl.
When she had awoken, she groaned as she pulled herself up. He watched her with great interest as she made some muffed groggy noises and her eyes slowly looked around with a lost and helpless expression on her face before suddenly her eyes widened with realization. She definitely did not act like any ninja he had ever met before. Little did he know that Sakura had thrown all hopes of escape away and rarely ever acted without knowing the future. She knew she was bound to Itachi in so many ways that it violated her insides. So she had to wait…wait and be captured until her Mirai could show her a way out.
"You okay? Yeah."
Sakura stared at Deidara as recent memories flooded back into her.
"Oh…yes, sorry…I just…." She sighed, "got used to being chained up in that damn cave."
Itachi chained her up in a cave? Deidara wondered, "Why were you chained up, yeah?"
"A psychopath needed something."
He didn't press her for more information and when her stomach growled her asked, "hungry, yeah?"
He watched some color return to her pale white face before she finally nodded in defeat.
"Let's go, there's a lake about two miles away, yeah," Deidara stood up and waited for Sakura to get herself ready. She tried to get up but her legs trembled visibly and to her, they felt like jelly.
"I can carry you, yeah," she heard him offer like a gentleman.
Gentleman? I have lost my mind…
"No, please. I need to walk….myself."
Deidara put his hands into his pockets and dug through the back up clay he had for emergency situations and finally found a food pill, "Here, I only have one but it will help you a bit."
She looked up at him with an expressionless face and he had to remind himself that he wasn't exactly the most trusted person on the planet. He placed the pill between his teeth and broke it in half – swallowing his half and offering the other to Sakura.
He watched as she lifted her shaking arm to take it and place it into her own mouth. She swallowed dryly, and it went down slightly painfully. But it was for the best.
"Want to fly? Yeah?"
"Can I walk? I need to use my muscles."
"Yea, sure, yeah," Deidara nodded with a smile as he realized that she was only denying him so she could regain some of her strength and control, although he still leaned down and offered her his hand. With a moment of thought she accepted. If she could get him to trust her…betraying him would be that much easier. He had taken an irrational liking to her…she could use that against him. She offered him a fake smile, and coiled her arm around his and they walked into the depth of the lush green forest. With that much needed rest, logic had returned her once more.
She looked down at their intertwined arms and noticed a small thin bracelet around her wrist.
Deidara saw that she finally detected his clay and he had to explain himself, "It's for protection. It's made of my clay."
Sakura looked at her other wrist to find the same pale bracelet, "So it will explode?"
"There's one around your neck and on your ankles to…and yeah they will explode if you run away or do something…stupid, yeah, sorry."
"No…it's okay…I get it," she sighed as she looked back at their interlocked arms, maybe getting him to trust her would be harder than she expected, "Heh, I just never thought I'd be walking arm and arm with an Akatsuki."
"I'm Deidara," he replied coolly.
"What?" Sakura raised her eyebrow at him.
"You called me an Akatsuki…but that's just my…club, so to speak. I'm more than that."
Sakura slowed her walk down and concentrated her gaze at Deidara thoughtfully. Her legs began to wobble and she thought that she'd tip over at any moment.
"You're right," she nodded at him before looking straight ahead again, trying to tense her muscles with every step, "I used to think I was just a medic," she admitted to him. The more useless information she gave him, the better the chance of him giving her something useful.
"But you're also Sakura, who's a medic and whatever else you have up your sleeve, yeah."
"Well right now I have a bomb up my sleeve apparently," she joked and he chuckled softly. She still felt awkward communicating with other people…but her life, and maybe hundreds more, were hanging on her shoulders. So she would act like a normal person. Make jokes, smile, and pretend to be innocent…and as not-dangerous as possible. She needed him to have that impression of her.
They sped up their pace a little when Sakura found her center. She felt Deidara's arm tighten around her own anytime she hesitated a step or swayed in her balance. She hated him for being so nice, but kept that anger deep inside. Very deep. She could never forget what he actually was.
"So where are you from, yeah?"
"Erhm, Konoha," she replied, not believing that it mattered anymore…and then she realized that she had lost her headband…somewhere.
"Itachi's from there too, yeah."
"Mmm, I hate him."
"Hah, I hate him too. Do you hate me?" He asked teasingly.
"I should…" she began, "I mean; I don't understand why you're being so kind to me."
"Why shouldn't I be kind, yeah?"
"I mean…you kill."
"And you don't?" he challenged.
"But I'm ordered to kill by my kage," she justified, playing the naivety card. She knew the world wasn't this black and white. She knew better than anyone else; grays were made up of black and white.
"And I'm ordered to kill by my leader."
Sakura became silent knowing that she understood him…in some sort of way, but couldn't think of a proper response that would keep them within the parameter of a peaceful conversation. Her Mirai would have been so helpful right now!
"What makes your murder more justified than mine?" he questioned her and Sakura bit her bottom lip hoping to display an unease from the conversation. She needed him to believe that she could be easily swayed.
"There…I don't think there should be a reason for murder," Sakura said carefully, "It shouldn't be justifiable…by anyone." The perfect response.
"But you'd still kill without question if your Hokage orders you to, eh, yeah?"
"I…I –" She pretended to be conflicted by his question. Of course she would kill if her Hokage ordered it. Tsunade was as close to God as anyone would get in her eyes.
"You see, when you kill, you kill someone's brother, sister, lover, mother, father….which is why when I have to murder I try to murder the whole family so they don't suffer a major loss."
Sakura was disturbed that she was able to follow his logic. She hadn't expected that. At least Deidara didn't create vengeful Sasukes…
"Do you have any family or anyone who cares?" Sakura asked suddenly.
"Me? Nah. They're all dead, yeah."
"What about you, yeah?"
"No one who really cares…" Sakura muttered as a gust of wind blew her hair every which way.
Beautiful, Deidara thought to himself, in that moment – Sakura looked like a wild nymph who was free from all the laws of nature.
"How could a cutie like you not have anyone, yeah?"
"They have better things to do," Sakura responded, trying to force more emotion into that statement than she actually had. She wasn't as resentful anymore; hell she barely cared about most people anymore. She had a duty of a ninja, and that preceded anything and anyone else. Thoughts of Neji were buried very very deep; she pronounced him dead and refused to mourn. They both knew the risks of being ninjas; their lifespan was never promised to be a long one.
"Well…then…I won't. So now you have someone."
She stared at him with a look of surprise and confusion, he replied to her expression; "You don't believe me, yeah."
"No…I don't," she replied honestly.
"It's okay. If we don't have to kill you – I'll prove you wrong."
Sakura chuckled as she stepped over a fallen branch, "I think everyone's' going to be out to kill me soon." How ironic.
"If our leader wants you alive – we'll protect you. I'll definitely protect you."
Sakura looked at him with sad eyes as her voice cracked unintentionally, "tha-that sounds like a promise."
"Lucky for you, I can take care of myself so you won't have to break it."
"I won't break it, yeah."
"You'd be surprised how many promises you'll break in the right situation."
Deidara rolled his eyes and changed the subject, "Do you miss your village?"
Sakura thought about his question for a moment and then shook her head from side to side as her lips mumbled a soft no. She never missed her village – out of a year, she spent about a good 200 hours there…enough time to sometimes spend the night, sometimes get a few hours in the hospital, and grab her next mission. She had no ties there.
"Why not, yeah?"
"I'm rarely around...I go out on missions almost all the time since I don't have anyone there…wow…Look at the river! It's beautiful," said pointing to the creek that was coming into the clearing. It was a good distraction from her revealing more about her personal life.
"For now yeah…When the sun moves the beauty will be lost, yeah."
"It will still be beautiful," she defended…especially to her black and white eyes. It looked like the sky had fallen into the water.
"Not like this moment."
"Hmmmph," she said. This felt like a very strange conversation to have. Is this what normal people talked about? She was so used to tactical conversations that this felt all wrong to her.
But she had a part to play.
A/N: Thank you for reading and a big thank you for reviewing. I appreciate them very much.