The first time Sakura was taken by Akatsuki was just within the border of Fire country.
She was on her way home from Suna, after completing a B rank mission, when Kakuzu and Hidan had ambushed her.
Kakuzu had engaged her, trapping her in tentacles of hair, and carried her back to their base still bound.
"Why the hell do you want me?" Sakura had demanded. "If you're trying to lure Naruto out, it wont work!" she had stated, even knowing it wasn't true.
"You're not a hostage, kunoichi," the masked man had replied, amusement heavy in his voice. "Leader wants you for your own skills."
At that, she had sagged, letting her head flop against his back. She was in for an interesting ride.
After two days of being dragged through the forest, with nothing to do but listen to Hidan whining at his partner, Sakura decided she'd at least try to amuse her self with the more talkative of her captors.
"Oi, Hidan? That's your name, right?" she addressed him, resting her elbows on Kakuzu's back, and cocking her head slightly.
"Huh? What the f*** do you want, b****?" he replied, a little surprised she talked to him at all.
"You're a Jashinist, right?" she confirmed. "Can you tell me about it?"
At this, a huge ear splitting grin spread across his face. This was the first time anyone had ever actually asked him about Jashin.
"Thinking of converting?" he asked excitedly.
"No, I'm more curious than anything," she replied. "Besides, how could I want to convert to something I know nothing about?"
Hidan had spent the rest of the day explaining to Sakura the scriptures, his immortality, the purpose of sacrifices, etc...
The pinkette was actually surprised at how knowledgable he was on the subject – everyone seemed to describe this Akatsuki member as brawn over brain.
She had even gone as far as to argue with him about the basic values of his religion.
"How can you worship someone set on destruction? When even you yourself want (and have) immortal life. Shouldn't you be more focused on life than death?"
"I am Jashin-sama's messenger. I bring the death and destruction. As a reward, he gives me everlasting life," Hidan explained, as if talking to a two year old.
"But if Jashin-sama values destruction and death, and thinks anything less is a sin, yet gave you life, isn't that a bit of a backhanded gift? He practically made you a sin personified in his own reasoning."
Hidan opened his mouth to respond, before closing it again, and looking away.
'What the hell?' he thought, a headache coming on.
At his silence, Kakuzu began to snigger. He had taken an interest in the conversation, although he didn't show it, and found it hilarious that Hidan had been cornered by his own words.
"I like you, little kunoichi," he found himself grinning behind his mask. "I hope Leader-sama doesn't kill you."
"Gee thanks," Sakura replied, rolling her eyes.
On arrival at the Akatsuki base, she was left with Hidan while Kakuzu went to report to their Leader.
"So, are you allowed to tell me why I'm here or not?" she asked tiredly.
"I'll leave that up to Leader," the albino replied carelessly. "So, you got a boyfriend in Konoha or what?"
"No," Sakura gave him a curious look. "I've sworn off guys."
"You're a lesbian? Shit!" Hidan's jaw dropped.
"No, you idiot!" she snapped, then laughed hysterically at the thought of her dating Ino, Hinata or Tenten. "I've sworn off love altogether. It doesn't seem to work for me."
"Oh, why's that?" Hidan moved closer to her, eying her up and down. "I'd imagine you'd have a whole lot of boys chasing you around."
"Yeah, but they're all perverts," she snorted, glaring at him.
"And you're a prude?"
"You-! Shut up, you jackass!" she swore, once again trying to break the ropes around her wrists and ankles. "You just wait 'til I get my hands on you!"
"Babe, I'd love your hands on me," he grinned at her, making her let out a chain of swear words even he didn't know.
Kakuzu once again joined the duo, giving an amused smirk at the words still spilling out of the pinkette.
"Five minutes alone, and you've already corrupted her," he accused his partner.
"Hey, don't blame me!" Hidan shot back. "She's got a worse mouth on her than me."
"Sakura-chan, you will be staying with me," Kakuzu informed her, lifting her over his shoulder, and walking out of the room, once again ignoring his partner.
Once the masked man dumped her oh his bed, he reached down with a kunai, and cut off the ropes that kept her bound.
"I advise you not to try to escape," he told her coldly. "You are surrounded my S classed criminals. Leader-sama has given me permission to disclose your purpose. You are to examine Itachi's eyes, and find the source of Zetsu's fevers, and heal them both. If you refuse, we will kill your friends, starting with the weakest. A girl named Yamanaka Ino is first on the list."
"Damn it," she cussed, before looking once again to Kakuzu. "Who is this 'Zetsu'?"
"An ex-Grass nin and cannibal," he smirked cruelly. "I'd avoid pissing him off if I were you."
"Right, of course," she rolled her eyes. "I should have guessed there'd be at least one member of Akatsuki that ate babies for breakfast. How cliché."
"...You're an odd one," Kakuzu felt himself smile behind his mask.
"Well, if I was your average girl, I wouldn't be here, now would I?" she asked sarcastically. "Did your 'leader' ever consider the possibility that I wouldn't be able to heal your friends? I can't fix everything, you know."
"You are the best medic in five countries. We have confidence in your abilities," Kakuzu informed her. "And if you can't help them – there is no cure."
Sakura sighed dejectedly, a tired smile on her face. "I suppose this is what you get for being famous, right? When do I meet my patients?"
"Tomorrow," Kakuzu answered, pleased she was being so agreeable. "In the mean time, you are under my guard."
She nodded, and slumped against the wall, and stared at her captor.
"So," she spoke, after a while. "Akatsuki, huh?"
Kakuzu raised an eyebrow. "What about it?"
"Why'd you join?" she asked, curious.
"Pays well," he shrugged. "Not to mention it makes it easy to hunt down bounties."
"So you're a bounty hunter, eh?" she asked with interest. "How long have you been in that game?"
"Long enough," he replied shortly. Kakuzu hated questions that related at all to his age.
"Must be an interesting life," the pinkette sighed, looking him up and down. "So what are you hiding under that mask?"
"My face," he snapped. "What's with all the questions?"
"Just trying to make conversation," she shrugged. "It's not like you have to answer. Or you could ask a few of your own."
After another couple of minutes silence, he decided to take her up on the offer.
"Is your hair naturally pink?" he asked out of the blue.
Sakura blinked a couple of times before answering.
"Yep. I'm told my grandmother had pink hair, too, but it's not very common, even in my family," she answered. "You like hair, ne? Is that what those threads you caught me in were? Hair?"
He nodded, and slowly removed his mask, revealing a stitched jawline. Letting the stitches loosen, he allowed his jaw to sag, and a mouthful of living hair creep out.
Eyes wide, Sakura leaned forwards to get a better look. Slowly, she raised a hand to comb her fingers through it, smiling a little as the threads curled around her wrist.
"You're a pretty amazing guy, Kakuzu. I've never seen anything like it," she admitted, staring unashamedly as he sucked the hair back into his mouth, and tightened his stitches. "How does it work? It came out of your arms before, right?"
Nodding, Kakuzu lifted up his sleeve, to reveal more stitches, and circular tattoos.
"It's all through my body. Packed in and controlled by chakra," he explained vaguely.
Holding his arm in her lap, Sakura reached out to touch the tattoos wrapped around his forearms.
"This is a mark from the Waterfall prisons, right?" she asked, again curious about the life of the man before her.
"Yes," he answered, reclaiming his arm, and pulling his coat sleeve back down. "You've been to Waterfall."
"Yes, a mission took us to help out the leader of the village there," she smiled at the memory. "They're an interesting bunch. Not very trusting of outsiders. Nice area, though."
Kakuzu shrugged. "I haven't been there in years."
Feeling a change of subject might be a good idea, she dropped that line of conversation.
"You've got interesting eyes. Kekkei genkai?" she asked curiously.
"Hereditary, but they don't have any abilities like sharingan or byakugan," he explained. "You've spent your whole life in Konoha?"
"Mostly," she agreed. "Except for missions, I've spent most of my time there. I lived in Suna for half a year on an exchange program, but I couldn't call it home. I belong in Konoha."
Kakuzu nodded absently.
"Were your family ninja? I haven't heard of any other Haruno's," Kakuzu pressed.
"No, my family has been made up out of merchants for years. I'm the first Haruno ninja ever," she explained a little proudly.
"What made you want to be a kunoichi?" he asked, curiosity growing by the minute.
"It seemed like a fun, adventurous kind of thing to do when I was little," she sighed a little sadly. "I wanted to be able to defend myself. That, and I was trying to impress a boy."
"A fine reason to decide your career," Kakuzu snorted in amusement.
"Yeah, well, I'm not too bad at it," she shrugged. "I like being a shinobi, even if it gets me kidnapped."
"What happened to the boy?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.
"He broke my heart," she answered dejectedly. "But that's what you get for giving it away, ne?"
Kakuzu's other eyebrow joined his first in an expression of surprise.
"You're surprisingly open with your enemies," he noted.
"Meh. It's not as though I'm giving away any secrets. Everything I've told you is public knowledge," she shrugged. "You could find it all out yourself with minimal effort."
He reached forward and gripped her chin, tilting it from side to side to get a better look at her features.
"Ka-kuzu?" she asked, a little freaked out.
Brushing his knuckles across her cheek, her pulled away.
"I like you Sakura-chan. I'll do my best to keep you safe," he told her, pulling his mask up once again to cover his face. "I'm off to tell Leader-sama you will cooperate. Stay put."
The pinkette nodded hesitantly, and watched him leave the room, closing (but not locking) the door behind him.
'Escape?' thought Inner Sakura half heartedly.
'No way. You heard what he said – we couldn't beat Kakuzu and Hidan alone, what makes you think we could get past even more S class criminals in their own territory?'
'Looks like we're stuck here 'til they let us go then.'
'Or until we're rescued.'
'We can't let our friends come after us. It's too dangerous.'
'So we'll have to escape eventually – there's no way I'm healing Uchiha's eyes.'
Sakura lay down on the bed, and stretched her arms, before letting them rest across her torso.
'We'll just have to stall, and wait for a more opportune moment.'
'Kakuzu seems to like us. And Hidan. Maybe if we befriend them, they'll let their guard down and we can leave.'
'...That's an idea, alright. But what if somehow someone from Konoha sneaks in and spies me playing nice with the enemy?'
'We'll just have to be careful.'
Sakura let out another sigh, and rolled onto her side, and drifted into a light dose.
Sakura became alert at the sound of footsteps approaching her door, but didn't move.
Kakuzu entered, and stared at her for a minute.
"Yo," she broke the awkward silence.
"You look comfortable," he mused, closing the door behind him.
"What've you got there? A bedroll?" she sat up, trying to get a better look.
"And a sleeping bag," he tossed them at her. "You're on my bed. I didn't think you'd want to share," he added sarcastically.
"Thanks," she said softly, hugging the bedroll to her. "You know, for a criminal, you're not so bad."
"Heh, really?" he raised a brow at her. "Perhaps you haven't known me for long enough."
"Well, you haven't tried to torture or rape me yet, so you're better than most other criminals I've come across."
Kakuzu froze, then stalked closer to her, staring into her eyes seriously.
"Someone raped you?" he asked, his voice chilling.
"They tried," she shrugged. "Got castrated for it though," she added with a smirk.
"Good," he replied, straightening up.
"What, you jealous?" she teased him, a light dancing in her eyes.
He just glared at her.
"Hey, lighten up, Ragdoll," she smiled at him softly.
"Why are you so comfortable here? Shouldn't you be concerned or crying, or at least wary?" he frowned at her.
"I don't have much choice. I have to be here," she stared at the ceiling. "I doubt you'll try to kill me, since you just told me Akatsuki needs me to heal two members. And if you tried anything, I could always stomp on the floor and bring the building down around both of us. Besides, you don't seem so bad, so why should I try making myself miserable?"
"Have you forgotten I'm your enemy?" he leaned closer, so she could feel his breath through his mask on her.
"I don't like closing doors. Gaara was once my enemy, now he's a trusted friend and ally, along with the rest of Sand," she pointed out. "You've already told me you like me, and promised to at least try to ensure my safety. Chances are, we might be friends one day too."
He narrowed his eyes at her.
"Even though I'm part of Akatsuki, and therefore after one of your team mates?" he leaned in further, leaning his forehead against hers.
"Akatsuki is after Naruto. You're only in it for the money, right?" she grinned at him, eyes dancing in amusement and anticipation. "Who's to say you'll always be a part of Akatsuki? Orochimaru left and is doing well, considering. A better opportunity might arise – who knows?"
"Are you questioning my loyalty?" his eyes narrowed into slits.
"No, I already know where your loyalty lies," she reached up, and tugged his mask down. "You're only loyal to yourself, Ragdoll."
Kakuzu stiffened once again, and tore away from her, leaving his mask in her hands. He stomped across the room, and tore his hood off violently, angry with himself. How could he let himself be read this easily?
"If that's true, what would stop me from turning on you? I might just kill you to get your bounty. Rock Country has 2 million yen on your head right now," he spat.
To his surprise, she just laughed.
"Kakuzu, seriously! The worst that could happen, is you kill me. If I'm dead, I won't care too much if you turn my head in or not. If you betray me and I live, it's not like I haven't been betrayed before, and by someone much closer to me – I can handle it. And the best that could happen, is we become allies. It's not a hard choice," she laughed in amusement.
The missing nin stared at her, disbelieving.
"You're not afraid of dying, are you?" he asked in wonder.
"Everyone dies one day," she sighed. "It's what you do while you're alive that counts."
Kakuzu wondered at that, staring at the loose floorboard that hid his stash of money.
"Hey, Kakuzu!" Sakura called, after a minute of silence. "How do I look?"
He turned around, and nearly burst out laughing at what he saw.
"What are you doing?" he asked with a lop sided grin.
"Trying on your mask," she stated, then glared at him comically. "What do you think, do I look like you?"
He walked over to her, and pulled the mask off her face, staring down at her in wonder. No one acted like this around him. Heck every girl he'd met in the last hundred years had been terrified of him. Making a decision, he wrapped an arm loosely around her, giving her enough room to escape if she wanted, and rested his chin on the crown of her head.
"You'll never look like me with hair like that," he answered, amused at her antics. "...You really are something else."
"Heheh, so I've been told," she shot back, leaning into him slightly, but on full alert. "Mainly by you."
'Alert! Alert! He's hugging us!'
'I know, Inner... Who would've thought eh?'
'What do we do?!'
'Play along and hope for the best? He might just be our ticket outta here.'
Ignoring her inner turmoil, Sakura let a smile play on her lips.
"This isn't an attempt to seduce me, is it?" she teased him.
"Depends: is it working?" he retorted sarcastically.
"I think I'll be sticking to my bedroll, sorry," she laughed freely.
"Well," he sighed dramatically. "Let me know if you ever want to share a softer mattress."
Letting her go, he ruffled her hair, and picked up the bedroll, and began to untie it.
Following suit, Sakura pulled the draw string on her sleeping bag bag, and pulled the thick material out.
It took them less than a minute to set her makeshift bed up, and then they had nothing to do but stare at each other awkwardly.
"You hungry?" Kakuzu asked her, feeling his own stomach growl.
"Hell yeah! You're gonna get me some food?" she asked hopefully.
"Better – come with me and I'll take you to the kitchens," he offered his hand to help her up.
A huge grin spread across her face, and instead of taking his hand, she launched a hug at him, before almost dragging him out of the room.
'Step one: Get out of the room. Step two: find an exit.'
Pausing at the door, she looked up to her guide expectantly.
"Which way, boss?" she asked cheekily.
Allowing a smirk to deign his stitched lips, he placed a hand on her shoulder, and steered her to the left and down the hallway.