... Don't shoot? I'm sorry I haven't updated this in a while! I just haven't been in a Sasori mood... but I'm uploading on Thanksgiving, so... be thankful! XD I don't know when I'll get the next one out, but the next one's gonna be sadder than this one... so get your Kleenex ready! XD

Enjoy! ^^

Nemu asked Pein if she was allowed to go. Once she found out that Tobi and Zetsu (who by the way was apparently the business end of a Venus flytrap) were going to the battle site to retrieve Sasori's ring, she was prepared to get down on her knees and beg if she had to. She had to say good-bye to Sasori, to see him one last time, and... she had to make sure he knew how she felt.

Pein allowed her to go, but only after she promised she wouldn't talk to anybody but Tobi or Zetsu. Tobi had given his solemn vow to keep his eye on her - though what it meant coming from him, she'd never know - and that had been good enough for Pein. So she was allowed to go, but they had to wait until eight o'clock to go, just to make sure it was dark enough that they wouldn't be seen.

Deidara had lent Nemu his Akatsuki cloak, seeing as she didn't have her own yet. He said it would both conceal her and make sure she wasn't cold. At least she knew he cared about her.

She said good-bye to Deidara and Konan, and left with Tobi and Zetsu.

They walked all the way there to the battle site. Nemu held tightly to Tobi's hand the entire way. She was tired and cold and sad, but she had to see Sasori one last time - just to say good-bye.

"It's okay, Nemu-chan," Tobi reassured her, squeezing her hand. "We're almost there."

"I know."

"Are you scared to see, Nemu-chan?"

"... A little, yeah."

"Don't be. You can't change it, Nemu-chan. And if you get too scared, Tobi will protect you. Why? Because Tobi's a good boy!"

"Thanks, Tobi. You're a great friend."

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, they arrived. The clearing of sand and rock was demolished - blocks of boulders and dried-up earth lie strewn everywhere. "Nemu," Zetsu spoke up - his white side speaking to her. "Do you think you could locate the body for us?" His black half growled. "What are you talking about? She couldn't do it. She's too emotionally compromised. Let Tobi find it." His white side came to her defense. "Nemu can do it, don't worry. Go on, Nemu."

"Uh..." Nemu swallowed hard and took a few tentative steps forward. Maybe the black half was right; maybe she was too distraught to look for Sasori's corpse. She navigated her way through the rubble shakily, afraid to find his body. Her mind flashed back to numerous times in their childhood, where he would hide from her and scare her by jumping out of the oddest places. A giant vase, for instance... another time in a laundry basket... in the closets... under the beds...

Where was he hiding now?

At last, she stumbled upon a large hunk of rock obstructing what looked like... Sasori? She flew to her knees, eyes wide as she touched his shoulder in amazement. This couldn't be him! He looked exactly like he did before he left the village! It was like he had been bestowed with the same abilities she had herself...

She moved her hand upward, stroking his face. Eyes drooping, she couldn't decide how she felt about it. She was pleased to have finally gotten close enough to touch him. But he wouldn't be letting her touch him if he wasn't dead. She wanted him not to be dead more than anything. She didn't care if he wouldn't let her touch him, as long as he was alive...

She felt a hand on her shoulder, and looked up to see Zetsu. "Nemu," his white side told her, "why don't you go see if there's anything else around? Explore, see if you can find anything suspicious."

Nemu nodded, and turned around. "What are you going to do?"

"That's none of your business. We're going to prepare his body to take back to base. After all, I can't eat it. It'd taste terrible. You shush up. Now go on, Nemu. I'll call you back when we're ready to leave. And you had better come."

Nemu gulped and left. She peeked around a couple of rocks to find a pink-haired teenager sitting against the structure. She crept over and sat down beside the girl. "Hello...?" She shook the pinkette's shoulder. "I saw you earlier... wake up..."

The girl's eyes opened, and Nemu was surprised to find that they were just a little lighter in color than her own. "Oh... hi. Yeah, I saw you too. Naruto was freaking out because you were with..." She shook her head, shifting her position. "Is your name Nemu? Kurosuna no Nemu?"

"Yes... why? What's yours?"

"Oh... I'm Sakura. But that's not really important. Did you know Gaara?"

"Is he... still dead?"

"No... but Lady Chiyo... she made you, right? And you're attached to her?"

"She was... my creator. She... what's the matter with her? Is she okay?"

"She... gave up her own life to save Gaara. She gave the rest of her life energy to him so he could come back. He's alive. But Lady Chiyo... she's dead."

"Oh..." Nemu curled her knees up to her chest, feeling tears stinging at her eyes once again. She'd lost two of her most important people in one day? It wasn't fair... "Okay..."

"I'm really sorry, Nemu, but... none of us asked her to do it. She said she... she had to do it. She was talking about... how everything she'd done was wrong... and that she could make up for it... by saving Gaara." Sakura reached into her pocket. "She told me to wait for you... and give you these. Are they yours?"

When Nemu saw her first felt puppets, Sesshoku and Chikara, in Sakura's hand, she couldn't snatch them up fast enough. She held them close and tears slipped from her eyes; she couldn't hold them in anymore. "They were my... my first puppets. Ones I didn't need chakra strings to control." She held up Sesshoku. "This one is mine, her name's Sesshoku." She held up Chikara. "And I made this one for Master Sasori, his name's Chikara. He liked it, but he always used it to attack Sesshoku-chan."

"Were you friends with Sasori?"

"He's my master. I wouldn't say friends, but... we grew up together. And when Deidara-senpai told me he was dead..." Nemu let out a shaky breath, resting her puppets in her lap and rubbing her arm. "I just... I'm not sure how to feel about him now. I'm not really sure how to feel about anything anymore."

Sakura reached over and touched Nemu's shoulder. "Lady Chiyo and I... it was our fault. We killed him. I mean, it was... it was Lady Chiyo who gave the final blow but... I helped her kill him. I'm sorry, I just..."

Nemu shrugged, brushing some hair out of her eyes and drawing Deidara's cloak tighter around herself. "You did what you had to do. He's your enemy, right? You had orders to kill him... so you obeyed those orders. I can't say I blame you. If Master Sasori told me to kill someone... I would do it. I'm just as loyal to him as you are to whoever gave you the order to kill him."

"I really am sorry." Sakura looked up at the sky. "The moon's really pretty tonight, isn't it?"

"I guess."

Sakura's next question was unexpected, but hit the nail on the head as to what Nemu was thinking. "You loved him, didn't you?"

"He was my master. How could I not love him?"

Sakura shifted to sit on her knees. "When Lady Chiyo and I faced Sasori... I'll admit that I thought he was evil. I saw him as too far beyond redemption to be saved. But you... you seem like a good person. You didn't... do anything to hurt anybody." She took one of Nemu's hands in hers. "If someone like you could love someone like him... maybe he wasn't all bad. Maybe there was some good still in him." She looked down, letting go of Nemu's hand. "Lady Chiyo said... he left the village a long time ago. Did you miss him?"

"I..." Nemu ran an arm across her eyes to get rid of the leaks. "He left two decades ago... when we were both still so young. I didn't understand... then again I rarely understand why we act the way we do. It's hard to comprehend, isn't it?" She sighed, shaking her head. "I was sixteen years old. He was only a year younger than I was. I was so confused when he left... for a long time I thought it was my fault, even though he told me before he left that it wasn't. And I just... I waited. I sat and looked out that little window, and I waited... for twenty years."

"Twenty years." Sakura sighed. "That's a long time..."

Nemu shrugged. "I had time. I'm a puppet, after all... I was in no danger of dying if I didn't engage in combat. And it was rarely that I did." She lifted her arms and allowed Sakura to look at the entirety of her body. "I have very few mechanisms that can function as weapons. No, I wasn't used for combat often... so I knew I would survive. I watched for him... I lulled myself into the false hope that he would come back. He told me he would... Lady Chiyo knew he would not, but I did not wish to accept that. So I fooled myself. But he did... he came back. And the day he does come back..." Her shoulders shook as she let the tears escape from her eyes. "He gets himself killed. It's almost like it's a nightmare."

"I know how you feel, Nemu. I lost somebody I loved too... I know how bad it hurts." Sakura put her hand on the other girl's shoulder. "If... if it makes you feel any better... the last thing he said was your name."

Nemu looked over. "Really?"

Sakura nodded, letting her hand slide down and hold Nemu's. "He had told me about a spy he'd had in Orochimaru's group, so that we could meet with him... and then he asked for my hand. I held his hand, and he said he was pretending it was you because... my eyes looked like yours." She sighed. "And when that was over... he looked up and said, 'Tell Nemu... that I'm sorry.'" Her eyes drifted down to where their hands were clasped. "He's sorry, Nemu."

Nemu began to cry all over again. "I know, Master... I know you're sorry... I know... I forgave you twenty years ago and you haven't lost that forgiveness. I missed you... I still miss you..."

Sakura stood up, sighing. Nemu could see tears sparkling in her eyes as well, but she was unwilling to shed them. "Nemu... I guess there's not much chance of you coming back to Suna, is there? I know Gaara would really like to have you back. He seemed... sad when Kankuro said you'd run off with the people who had killed him in the first place. He's proud of you."

"Oh, I know but..." Nemu got to her feet as well. "I don't think I can, Sakura. I mean... me staying and serving Akatsuki would be what Master Sasori would have wanted, after all. I'm sorry. But... if you get the chance, will you tell Gaara-sama that I'm safe and I will make sure nobody ever hurts him again."

Sakura nodded. "Alright, Nemu - I will. I hope you find purpose in Akatsuki. And don't worry." She smiled a little. "It gets easier... living without the one you love, I mean? I know it seems hard now, but... it'll get easier the longer you go on." She took a few steps. "I'm going back now. Good luck."

"You too." Nemu watched Sakura go, walking off into the black night, and she sighed, looking down. Where was she supposed to go now? A puppet without their master was useless.

All of a sudden she heard Zetsu's black half calling her. "Nemu! Get your little puppet ass back over here or we're leaving without you!"

Nemu shot back to where they were. She saw Zetsu beginning to walk off, while Tobi was messing around with his arm down a hole in the rocks. She decided to be nice and go help Tobi. "What happened, Tobi? Are you stuck?"

"N-No! I dropped Sasori-sama's ring! I guess I shouldn't've been tossing it... it just fell!"

"Let me try." She pulled Tobi's arm out (maybe he was stuck) and slid her own hand down in the hole, feeling around for the ring. She flattened herself down to extend her arm further. Where was it?

Before she could search any more, something smashed down on her hand and she cried out. "Ouch! T-Tobi, help!"

"Nemu-chan!" Tobi took hold of Nemu's shoulders and began to pull. "Wh-What happened, Nemu-chan?"

"Now I'm stuck!" She tried to yank her arm out, to little avail.

"Tobi, Nemu, hurry the hell up!"

"A-Ah!" Tobi let go of Nemu and faced the other way. "J-Just a minute, Mr. Zetsu! Mr. Zetsu, Nemu-chan is stuck!"

"Tobi!" Nemu screeched as her face banged against a rock when he let her go.

"Nemu-chan!" He began to yank on her again, grunting as he tried desperately to free his friend.

"What do you two not get about 'hurry up'?"

"We're coming, Mr. Zetsu!"

Nemu sighed as she resigned herself to one fact: this was her family now. A very screwed up family, but her family nonetheless.

She had to smile at that.


She buried herself deeper into his chest, sobbing and clutching at his shirt. "S-Senpai... please. Please tell me I'm not the only one who misses him so. Nobody else seems to care that he is dead - some of them seem relieved. Tobi is only concerned about whether or not he can join the Akatsuki now. Kakuzu-senpai said it's one less mouth to feed... b-but... just tell me that you miss him too. I need to know I'm not alone in this."

"You're not, Nemu-chan." He held her tighter, sighing a little. She still didn't mind the feeling of his hand-mouths licking her; it was almost like she'd gotten used to it. "I'm sad too, hmm. My man was special. He wasn't just my master..." He shook his head, placing his face in her hair. "He was my best friend. Hmm."