Another installment for my lovely readers. Sorry it took so long in the making. Spring colds, work and general life tends to keep me sidetracked. So now, on with the show! Enjoy and as always R&R.

Skittle Junkies

It was impossible to tell how long she had been lying there, staring at the buzzing lights. Every time she tried to focus on something else, the world tilted precariously. Sleep evaded her, food disgusted her, and she had gone several days without a shower. Once vibrant locks lay in greasy, unruly strands that clung to her face the more she became racked with sweat and filth. Doctors and nurses came and went frequently, uncaring about her state, or else too concerned with their own agendas.

They asked her questions, many at first, but less and less now. It always ended with them promising that they would do what they could to help. Whether that meant they would get her out of this place, she didn't know. Only that she wasn't allowed to leave her room until the medicines took effect.

Sakura knew that the needles were somehow not necessary. She wasn't supposed to be getting them, or so the blonde girl that had visited her claimed. Such a familiar face, but for the life of her, Sakura could not remember her name. The pinkette wanted to believe that, but when she left the nurse came back in and said that the doctor ordered another dose.

Fidgeting with the newest of the injection sites, Sakura passed the time trying to piece together the questions that these people demanded the answers for. They wanted to know if she killed Sasuke.

"I didn't kill him," she murmured to the empty room. This became her mantra, the only constant answer. Even after they had gone, she could still hear the scratching of pen on paper. They wanted to know how she killed him.

"I didn't kill him," she breathed again, with more conviction. It seemed like forever since she was last able to cry, as if her eyes no longer produced any tears.

She wondered if she was becoming desensitized to the images that never left her. Of Sasuke, bloody and twisted on the floor. If she tried real hard, she could see him now, sprawled across the bleached tile of her cubicle of a cell. They wanted to know why she killed him.

"I didn't kill him," she yelled suddenly as she sat up. The sudden movement caused her head to spin, but she fought the sense of vertigo as she looked around the empty room. Her anger at being so wrongly accused was her only weapon in this place. She knew she was innocent. It was the only thing that helped push the constant onslaught of chemicals that coursed through her system away, even temporarily.

Though her voice had hardly carried passed the well-insulated door, it opened a moment later and Nagato stuck his head in.

"You alright there kitten?" he asked softly. Sakura wanted so hard to yell and scream at him to leave her. He was no protection against his employers after all. But the more she knew what her reaction should be, the more she came to know that her body refused to do so. Like a sugar high, her body quickly crashed down from the high of clarity as the medicines took effect, leaving her feel even more exhausted than before.

"Yea," she managed in a noncommittal tone as she swung her legs slowly over the edge to connect with the icy floor.

"Been almost two days since you had anything to eat. Why don't we go grab you a bite?" he asked in a hopeful tone. This was not a new or first time request. Despite the orders for solitary confinement until she was fully subdued by the injections, Nagato had snuck in several times to try and get her food. But each time she refused.

Maybe she had managed to get a small grasp of clarity, or else her body finally won against her will, but she accepted his offer grudgingly. When she did not immediately rise, he tried to help her to her feet.

He could tell by the circles under her eyes and her cracked lips that exhaustion and dehydration were likely taking a toll on her, which would account for her inability to stand on her own feet. Realizing she was too weak to walk on her own, Nagato quickly procured a wheelchair.

"You know, it wouldn't have hurt you to eat or drink something through all this," he chided softly.

"Didn't want to give them the satisfaction," she murmured in a monotone. She tried to smile, but stopped when her lip split. Nagato tut tutted, but wheeled her out into the hallway and down to the living room where they were in the middle of eating lunch. As she listened to the squeaking of the wheels, she could feel her anger from before subside like the tide leaving out to sea. It left her with a feeling of indifference.

Instead of walking through the lunch line, Nagato settled her against a table and brought some food to her. While he'd gone, a few people sat around her inconspicuously. Haku, being the first at her side, leaned over and said in hushed tones,

"I apologize in advance for what I'm about to ask. Are you feeling half as bad as you look, because you look like absolute shit?" Sakura knew that she should take offense, but the emotion just couldn't connect. Instead she shrugged and started to pick at the injection sight in the crook of her arm. Haku zeroed in on the movement and covered the scratching hand with his own.

"It's alright. We knew they must have been giving you the royal treatment when we didn't see you at group therapy the last few days," he explained. "I had to test that. One of the favored regimens makes you indifferent to emotional triggers. It's how they subdue the unruly of us."

"I'm not unruly," she replied as she looked up into his worried eyes. Haku let a reassuring smile grace his lips before patting her hand and drawing away, having seen Nagato begin to make his way back to their table.

"She'll survive Haku once we get some food in her," Nagato stated off handedly as he set a plate with a PB&J sandwich and a glass of apple juice in front of Sakura. Catching her wary eye he added, "He's such a mother hen. Haku worries about everyone."

"Well someone has to around here," the younger boy countered as he sat back in his chair. Nagato chuckled and conceded the point.

"So, have they done anything but stick you yet?" Suigetsu asked as he sat opposite her with his chair backwards, arms folded across the back and chin resting on top. His face was split in a blissful grin, hoping to hear some most delightful detail of pain and suffering. He liked hearing about others getting hurt almost as much as he liked being hurt.

Nagato threatened to have him taken back to his room at the same moment that Sakura nodded her head. Everyone at the table stopped moving in a mixture of shock and fascination, except Sakura who sat unconcerned and began to take small nibbles of her food.

"Well? Give us the details!" Suigetsu demanded as he leaned forward, putting the chair on two legs. Haku shot him a glare, but couldn't help the guilty thought that he wanted to know too.

"They asked me to say I killed him," she said after a few tense moments where she chewed and watched their expressions grow more anticipatory. "But I won't." Suigetsu's smile grew wider, Haku's became more agitated and Nagato's grim.

"Oh boy, you are in for a world of fun," the violet eyed boy gushed in envious glee. He began to laugh most riotously, like a boy who got the best present ever for Christmas.

His laughter was only cut off by the plastic straw that was thrust into his ear. Sakura observed as he howled in a mixture of pain and pleasure as he pulled the offending object from his ear canal, the man who put it there standing nearby with a furious scowl marring his otherwise cool expression.

"Damn it Sabaku, I forgot that you were back. I mean I'm glad and all, but what was that for?" the boy asked as an orderly was called in to stop any further altercations.

Skittle Junkies

Gaara glared at the boy, then to Sakura who only continued to eat and watch attentively, before sitting next to Haku with a placating motion to the orderlies. They stayed nearby, but felt that the danger had passed for now. They were experienced enough to know that this was only a minor outburst from the red head.

"Your voice is annoying," he replied in a scratchy growl.

His goal had been to join the table when Sakura had come in, having waited the last day and a half for her to make an appearance. He was then going to talk to her and thereby ascertain the best way to get her out. That plan had been blown when these two saddled up first. He was never known for joining groups, or making friends, or striking conversations for that matter. So when a comfortable albeit violent entrance presented itself, he knew it was that or scrap the mission for the day.

"So what's with the bandage?" Haku asked when the excitement abated. Gaara automatically raised his hand to the square bit of cotton on his forehead and shrugged without reply.

It was the only thing he could think of at the time. He had messed up so many times over the years, that the courts had threatened him with a life sentence if he maimed anyone else. So he did the next best thing that would secure him a short term stay at the Institute.

"You weren't stupid enough to get into another fight, were you?" Suigetsu teased as he twirled the bendy straw that had almost pierced his ear drum between his fingers. Leaning over the table to mock whisper conspiratorially to Sakura, he took special care to look condescending. "He has anger issues."

Gaara wanted at that moment to leap across the table and strangle the fair haired boy, but knew that it was just another ploy. Suigetsu loved to play dirty if he knew it earned him a nice backhanding or worse if he was lucky. He wasn't so easy to goad into feeding the masochists bad habit, but he couldn't help looking at Sakura.

Already he could tell they were giving her a heavy cocktail. Probably a combination of sedative and anti-anxiety with a good dose of anti-psychotic meds, none of which were necessary. But if she were to start acting out later, they would have on record that she took it and that would weigh against her. Proof that she had been unstable and needed to continue to take it. God how he hated the system these people followed, even more so because he knew first hand why it was in place. To save the general public from undesirables like him and the other people here.

"Course it wasn't a fight," Suigetsu answered for him, impatient for the answer he refused to voice.

He was not going to tell this maniac that he cut up his head so the people here thought he would be a danger to himself. He thought it was stupid, but they were far more understanding of people who turned their anger towards themselves instead of directing it at the true cause, in his case other people.

"He's the hero," Sakura voiced suddenly before taking a sip of juice, her eyes focused on something far away. Almost at once, the boys near her laughed, save the redhead of course. He simply stared at her, sea foam eyes narrowed, trying to figure out what she meant by that.

Since she was heavily drugged it was likely to mean anything, but he wondered if she knew what he planned to do. Impossible really, how could she? Nonetheless, it bolstered his resolve as he continued to glare at the others.

"What? You think I can't be a hero?" he demanded in a cool, menacing voice. Haku's laughter died nervously away, but Suigetsu continued to howl with glee.

"Well it's not that," Haku admitted doggedly.

"She doesn't know you very well Sabaku. Who would want you for a hero?" Suigetsu blurted out.

"You guys better get him out of here before I make a juicer of his head," Gaara growled as he pushed his chair back and walked to the other side of the room.

He worried not for the first time that this place was going to be the end of him. That he would be ruined before he could complete his task. This one chance at redemption. He truly was damned if he messed up this time.