disclaimer: disclaimed.
dedication: to sleep. Y U LEAVE ME.
notes: for sasusaku_month over at LJ. prompt was shatter under chance meetings.
notes2: i'm warning you now: this is pretty fucked up.

chapter title: WE JUST WANTED TO BE PRETTY
summary: Blood on the concrete. — Sasuke/Sakura.

.

.

.

.

.

"Ugh."

She wiped her cheek with the back of her hand. It came away dark and shining with blood in the last dim shards of dusk.

"I hate this job."

"Hn."

"Good communication skills there, Sasuke," the girl snorted, and wiped sweat-sticky strands of hair off her forehead, heedless of the smear of blood. She leaned back against a half-crumbled column, thick red liquid dripping down her cheek. It stained the collar of her lab coat.

Sasuke stared at her, and said nothing. In the morning, it would look like bloody flowers had grown at her throat.

Sakura had always looked good in red.

But doctors had no place in the muddy places where Sasuke spent his time; people like Sakura belonged in the clean-cut fluorescence of hospital hallways. Yet there she was, casually leaning against the stone like she was meant to be in darkness and delusion.

Doctors and killers-for-hire really had nothing in common.

"Go home, Sakura," Sasuke said.

It was more out of force of habit than anything else, and Sakura knew it. She pushed off the crumbling column and meandered towards him with her hands in her pockets. Sasuke watched her, wary. A sliver of moonlight fell across her face, lighting up an almost-grin.

"I don't want to have to keep stitching you back together, Sasuke," Sakura said.

She'd always stitched him back together. It wasn't like she was really going to stop now.

Black and blue all over, he moved with pained grace. She knew that he couldn't stand having to lean on anyone else, much less having an arm looped around his waist to keep him upright.

She did it anyway.

"You're going to be the death of me," she told him conversationally, staring straight ahead.

Sasuke grunted.

Sakura smiled.

Life went on.

/ / /

He saw her next in a morgue.

That would have been morbid on its own. But Sakura was bent over a blue bag with a disgusted twist to her mouth, and that could never be a good thing. Sasuke ambled towards her.

"I wondered when you were going to show up next, you know," she said. "Could you pass me that scalpel?"

Sasuke passed her the tool in question without a word. For a split-second he touched her skin. He pulled away smoothly. Sakura was so breakable. He pulled away smoothly, and fought the urge to break her every bone.

"This was ugly," Sakura murmured. "Really, really ugly."

Sakura wasn't sure if she was talking to herself or to him, but the silence was unbearable in a room full of dead people and talking was what she did best anyway. She shot him a sidelong look through dusk-pink lashes. "Was it you?"

Sasuke shook his head.

Sakura thought she might have felt relief. "Figured as much. I didn't think you were this vulgar."

The girl on the table was too-too skinny with knobbly knees and BARELY-healed scars on her wrists. She didn't look much older than middle-school age—maybe sixteen, Sasuke thought. Her veins were blue and her skin was pale. Her throat had been torn out.

Sasuke couldn't stand to look at her.

Sakura watched him turn away and wondered what he was thinking. Sasuke saw dead bodies even more often than she did—and that was saying something because Sakura was a doctor who occasionally worked in a morgue; she'd seen more than her fair share of death. He only rarely turned away, but this girl was the product of a twisted society sucking on hookahs and innocence late at night.

There was disgust in them both.

Or maybe it was just cold clinical interest, in Sakura's case.

It was like moving through a dream, eyes half-open and half-asleep. The fluorescents were harsh against the dead girl's bruises and Sakura's green eyes; soft and sick like broken fairytales and monsters under the bed.

"Third one this week," Sakura said.

She almost looked sad.

But they had both stopped feeling a long time ago.

The illusion cracked down the middle.

"Do you think you can find whatever did this?" she asked and Sasuke nodded before he realized what he was doing.

Yes, he could find it. Yes, he could kill it.

(Whatever it was.)

"Don't follow me," he said.

Sakura laughed and it sounded like shattering glass or maybe just raindrops falling through sunlight; it sounded like something good. Something pure.

But nothing stayed pure with friends like this.

"I like how you say that like you think it'll make a difference," she replied.

Sasuke was reminded of the girl in the graveyard, then.

It never made a difference. Sakura brushed her hand along her collar. It was clean, for once—no blood-flowers against her skin. Sasuke followed the movement of her hand with his eyes, tracking its journey with an obsessive fascination.

It was like broken dolls and broken fingers and hearing the snap of her spine when she bent too far back to relieve the tension.

Sometimes, Sasuke thought he was losing it.

(That implied he ever had it. Whatever it was. Maybe it was the same thing that was tearing all the girl's throats out. Maybe not.)

Sakura smiled at him with her teeth, white and even. The fluorescents made him sickly, made her sickly, made them all look like they'd already moved on.

They were in a morgue, after all.

"Don't, Sakura."

"You never gave me that choice, Sasuke," she said. "I'm not giving you that choice now. I'm coming."

He grunted.

Sakura dragged him out of the morgue into bright sunshine. She left thoughts of dead girls with dead eyes behind her in the silence and the grief that played tag in the dark, child songs and the ghosts of happiness and a pounding heart.

Morgues were no place for those left alive.

/ / /

She talked him into ice cream.

Sasuke watched her turn. He watched the stretch of her neck and felt sick. Someone would rip her throat out, if they could.

Sasuke could not allow that.

Sakura was his to break.

His, and his alone.

/ / /

"What the fuck is this?"

Sakura would never know which one of them had spoken.

In a warehouse on the outskirts of town, they found themselves a bloodbath. Thirty-two girls strung up along the rafters in cages, porcelain dolls that were barely even alive, like someone had kept them there just to watch them die.

Naruto swore softly. Sakura could see that he was covering his nose.

Along the walls in rusted orange-brown:

WE JUST WANTED TO BE PRETTY.

Sakura wanted to go to pieces.

For a minute, she almost did.

Then she drew herself together. She looked at Sasuke.

He grunted.

She did not smile.

Life went on.

.

.

.

.

.

fin.
notes3: i warned you.
notes4: please do not favourite without leaving a review. i respond to every one. :)