Insperation: Mumford and Suns, Of Monsters & Men, Florence + the Machine and other kickass bands.

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Of Monsters and Men: A Sleepy Hallow for my Head

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Summary: When she is what the monsters of nightmares want more than anything else, Sakura should have been smarter and stayed out of the woods. Instead she thinks that buying a cabin where her fahter hung himself just for her writing vacations is a good idea. Now the village beauty will have to learn the price of playing a tune for monsters and men. Another Sakura Harem fic with multiple pairings, mostly SakuraUchiha~ Please enjoy and review.

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"It's empty in the valley of your heart. The sun, it rises slowly as you walk, Away from all the fears and all the faults you've left behind.

The harvest left no food for you to eat, You cannibal, you meat-eater, you see. But I have seen the same, I know the shame in your defeat..."

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The music surrounded her putting the energy she knew she shouldn't possess at such a late hour into her jumping feet and twirling hips. The bohemia skirts swished up high and swirled around the legs of the dancing ladies as the glided barefoot over the wooden dancing deck. Fairy lights hung overhead, bringing lights to the shadows that danced and flickered in time to the gypsy's bluegrass loving banjo.

Sakura laughed out loud, clapping her hands over her head as the joys of her youth chocked her entire body. This was where she was born and raised all her innocent years. This was where her blood ran true, humming in tune to the spirits of folk tales and late night escapes to such dances.

"Sakura," her friend called from the side of the deck just as the music stilled into applause.

"God, my sides," Sakura gasped, stumbling all the way over and nearly falling over. She screamed a laugh as her body pitched forward, off the deck, but her friend was there to catch her. "Haha, thank you, Neji. That could have been messy."

"You haven't even had anything to drink and already you're drunk on this gypsy garbage," the uptight Hyuga sighed, pulling his friend closer to his chest and fitting her head under his chin. The scent of her hair tickled his nostrils as a sweet bonus to keeping her safe and upright.

"You know you love it, Neji. What other reason would you come out with me to theses parties?" she laughed, snuggling into his chest, loving the sound of his heartbeat.

"To watch out for you, of course," he sighed. "It's been years since you left and now you're back and hippi happy like there isn't anything bad in the world. Why wouldn't I be worried about you?"

Sakura traced the shape of his collarbone, humming the banjo's tune to herself as she listened to his words. She could hear the concern in what he was telling her and knew it to be true, but it didn't change anything. "You shouldn't worry so much about me. I'm a fit as can be now that I'm home again. Nothing can hurt me now, not here."

He paused, waiting for a moment before continuing. "We could always talk about it, Sakura. I know leaving the city wasn't pleasant for you, but-" A finger on his lips stopped his words were they were and derailed his chain of thoughts.

"Hush. Now is not the time to be dragging up bad spirits." She pulled away, masking her discomfort with a wide grin. "Don't ruin the moment and dance with me. I love this song."

Neji winced. "You know I don't dance."

"You don't dance to music like this, but you are indeed an amazing dancer. Hurry up or else I'll ask Kiba to take me. He's been looking to talk to me since I got back, so I know he won't refuse me."

She was manipulating him and they both knew it. No matter, it was his pleasure to take her hand and be pulled up into the chaos of a gypsy's enchantment, manipulation or not. He was always happy to dance with her.

She hadn't been wrong when she said Kiba had been looking to talk to her since she got back. Most of her old friends were looking to talk to her since she came back home, and almost all of them were still single men. Guys didn't hook up too well in the Appalachian backyard of America, especially in their town where woman were outnumbered 6 to 1. Nowhere else in the world was it like that, it seemed to Neji.

Sakura pulled away from him and lifted on harm over her head before she turned on the tip of his fingers, separating for just a bit before returning to him. It felt so right and so natural. Even if she left it was fate that she should come back to him and this place.

Her granadmother had been a sort of relic-like elder to the backcountry town, knowing everything about the earth and the air and the people's problems. Sakura had been raised with her nana and father after her mother died in childbirth when the midwife couldn't be called in time. Sakura had grown up away from the majority of the town in a well sized house of modest decorations of mediocre design, and an ample expansion of land for her imagination to run free. For her to turn out a successful author was only appropriate.

"Neji, I found a boy in a well, and he had claws and a furry tail," a young Sakura exclaimed in her mind.

"There was a deer spirit stuck in one of the oak trees, he said he couldn't come out unless I sang to him."

"There are devils in the woods, Neji. I saw a lot of them together, and they all had red eyes."

"Yeah, there were bones coming out of his arms and his back and everywhere whenever he wanted."

She had been so innocent and adorable at one point. Back then she liked sneaking out to these kind of gypsy dances just as much as she did now. She said this was where her favorite monsters liked to come out and mingle with the humans. It didn't help that the resident gypsy storyteller believed the young girl and encouraged such wild fantasies instead of logically explaining them away the way a normal adult should have. Maybe then she wouldn't have left the back hills when she turned sixteen in order to live with an aunt who wanted her to go to a normal highschool and college.

No, that wasn't right. She still would have left, and there is no changing that. No matter how she loved her home, there were too many spirits and sad memories to haunt her where she remained. After her grandmother died, she had come home one night to find her father hanging from the rafters. There was nothing left for her to stay for.

After knowing all this, Neji concluded that whatever it was that had forced Sakura back to her old roots, it had to have been something major. Nothing else could be serious enough to bring her back to such a dreadful place.

"Are you thinking of someone else?" Sakura teased, slowing down as the music stilled. She was breathing heavy from the workout. Gypsy dances were wild things that often pushed the body into a good night's sleep.

"Never," Neji replied with a smile.

"You seemed so absent," she explained.

"It's all your fault," he chuckled. "It's always your fault."

"Always?" She pouted.

"Always."

Sakura huffed, pulling away and placing her hands on her hips, wrinkling the light fabric of her skirt. "For a gentle man you really don't know how to show a girl a good time, you know. I think I'll see Kiba now. Shika's there too."

Neji grabbed her wrists and pulled them towards his head, tugging her to his side so she tumbled into his chest with a quiet off as partners from the dance glanced their way and smiled, thinking them a cute couple. If only she really was his.

"I didn't say you could leave, now, did I?"

"But you're tired."

"I'm never tired of you."

She smirked. "You know, if you don't let me go they'll just come over here to me. You can't keep me all to yourself, my friend."

The title stung, but he forced on a smile, trying to ignore it while she tugged him over to where Kiba and Shikamaru reclined on the grass, still in the glow of the fairylights. Both lit up when they saw her approach.

"Greetings, you hillbillies. How's it hanging?" Sakura asked, falling in between them to lie in the grass. "Still stuck here I see. Didn't you two talk about escaping as soon as you got out of highschool?"

"You are one to talk," Kiba said, leaning in to hug her. "You were always the one most in love with this place. You said you were never going to move and yet you're the first one to leave. Life really sucked without your around."

She snorted. "It couldn't have been that bad."

"Shino and Hinata were married last year, and before that it was Ino and Choji. Tenten hooked up with some guy from the desert of all places, and left here to go to college with him. Ami and Lee are sort of together, but I don't know how long that will last. Should I go on?" Kiba asked with a grump.

Shikamaru just sighed. "Too much of a bother to even think about, I say."

Sakura laughed. "Everything is too much of a bother to you, Shika."

The Nara member just grumbled with his eyes closed. "Troublesome woman."

Kiba grinned big and leaned over to hug Sakura as she lay in the grasses, squeezing her so tight she had to yelp and laugh. "I don't care anymore. Sakura's back now and that is all that's important. Nothing could be better."

"That's enough, Neji sighed, kicking Kiba away with his toe, obviously annoyed with the closeness of his friend and love interest. "Just be happy she's not going anywhere and keep your pervy hands to yourself. Brat."

"I can't help it if I'm feeling a bit attached. It's my nature," Kiba whined. The wildish looking youth lowered his eyes and smirked. "And besides, it isn't like you weren't thinking about doing the same."

Neji turned pink at the cheeks, but retained his composure. "You're delusional."

"Denial is just a river in South America," Kiba joked.

Neji glared. "Egypt."

"Gazuntite."

"Now you're just being stupid on purpose, dog breath."

Sakura just laughed folding her palms over her eye sockets. The music continued in the background, familuare and soothing. Sakura inhaled and let her voice join the chorus surrounding her friends. "But tell me now, where was my fault...in loving you with my whole heart? Oh, tell me now where was my fault in loving you with my whole heart?"

The tempo picked up into something more powerful as Sakura rose to her feet and began to twirl again, away from her boys but not towards the stage. They were content to watch as she got herself messed up in the song and the people, ready to be swept was weightless, floating in the night among the magics and the melodies. The mungo shirts and the patchwork shawls blurred all around her.

"Lead me to the truth, and I will follow you with my whole life," a voice murmured over her shoulder as bodies surrounded her own in dance. She felt hands on her wrists, lifting them up as the dance beat fiercer.

It climaxed into something faster as she turned to look over her shoulder. He was backing away from her, his head bent so the shadows of his bangs were the only thing she could make out of him. Like a line in an oil painting, he seeped into the background and became a piece of the picture, indistinguishable among the many others. And yet, there was nothing about him that connected him to the others.

The song wound down, but Sakura had since stopped dancing, all energy suddenly gone. Her legs shivered, giving up like broken beams of wood. On the ground she sat, fingers gripping weed and grass, pulling the greens up by their roots. Her head has suddenly started to hurt and she wanted to blame it on exhaustion or dehydration.

It was brief, too short a time to be certain of anything, but she had been certain. There was no way she could be mistaken with the way she was feeling. Behind those bangs had been the eyes of a devil with rubies trapped behind thick lashes the color of soot. He had smiled at her during his departure, and in that smile she saw what she could only describe as dainty fangs, polished to gleam like ivory. It was bizarre and bewitching and absolutely captivating.

They had all been beautiful like that.

In the background she heard her friends calling out to her, none sounding too concerned. That was probably because they expected her to drop from all her dancing sooner or later. But they were wrong this time. That hadn't been the reason she dropped like dead piece of wood in the darkness.

The hairs on the back of her neck rose up as she swore she felt lips kiss the collar of her skin.

"Lead me to the truth and I will follow you with my whole life," a voice whispered in her ear, sounding like the wind possessed.

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"I don't like walking around this old and empty house. So hold my hand, I'll walk with you my dear."

"The stairs creak as I sleep, it's keeping me awake. It's the house telling you to close your eyes."

"Some days I can't even dress myself. It's killing me to see you this way."

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It was hard for her to find sleep anymore, being as sensitive as she was, so at an hour till noon, Sakura was still struggling to find sleep in her bed. Sometimes she could manage to drift off for a few hours, but a creak in the floor or a tap on the windowpanes from trees outside was all it took to wake her wide. She had never been a deep sleeper, but that dance last night had scared her so badly it rose her fear to a whole new level.

Thwack.

There is was again.

Thwack.

Sakura rose from her bed and held the clean, white sheets close to her chest, pulling them with her when she moved away. After reaching her closet she dropped the sheets and dressed herself in something a pale creamy color that swished around her knees. Her skinny nails picked at the buttons, pulling them through the fabric as she stepped out of her room, over the salt ring, and into the kitchen.

Thwack.

It was so faint she knew it was far away, but in the sunlight she knew, somehow, that it would be safe for her to go out. The grass was soft under her naked feet as she left the path around her modest home of rustic origins.

She was so far away from anyone, it took forever to get anywhere on foot. But the beautiful thing about that was that no one cared. Time slowed down like heavy syrup in the back-hills and Sakura loved that. Everything was healthy and appeasing to look at, so a walk into the woods wasn't something she didn't enjoy...so long as the sun was out.

Thwack.

She was close now. A few more minutes and she came upon the clearing where the man stood, chopping wood with enough power to challenge steam engines. He was one of the tallest men she had ever seen, with a body that rippled with will toned muscle. Ash gray hair fell away from his youthful face, probably no more aged than the other boys she knew from the town. The lines of his face were nothing but flattering. He was an attractive man in that respect, but there was one major thing that detracted from his looks.

The ax fell into the chopping block and stuck as the blue skinned man turned to look at her, a scowl etched deep into his features. Sakura felt her heart tighten in fear and embarrassment.

"I-I'm sorry," she stuttered, looking down, avoiding his dark, bark colored eyes. She heard him inhale sharply and grab the handle of his ax.

"Why? You came to stare, didn't you?"

"No I..."

"What? Did someone from the town make a bet on your behalf. A dare maybe? I could see someone thinking you'd chicken out on coming up to see the blue freaks of inbreeding red neck hicks, huh. It's a pretty scary story, aint it?"

He sounded bitter, and that was understandable. The blood condition that had caused his skin to turn blue was one the townsfolk talked about behind the backs of their hands. It just wasn't somethin' natural, the old ladies would say with a shake of their heads. "Don't go mixing up with that oaf lot, now, ya hear?"

"You've got it wrong. I just heard the sound and came here to see what it was. I didn't know...anything. I'm sorry for disturbing you," Sakura tried, honestly hoping he would believe her. She had no wish to further the pain he felt after so many years of uncalled for judgement.

He snorted in disbelief. "The only place close enough to hear anything is the old Springers place, and that shack is freaking haunted in case you didn't know that either. An ol man hanged himself there. It's probably still haunted, too."

Sakura froze a little, feeling the warm seep out of her skin. "I...know that, already. He was my dad. That's my house."

Now it was his turn to freeze and look embarrassed. It was one thing to talk about a person's skin color, an another to talk like that about the dead. Most folks in the back country respected the departed more than the average man, and kept that in mind when the talked.

"I'm sorry," he muttered, reaching up to rub the back of his neck. "I shouldn't have said something like that...to anyone."

Sakura managed a smile. "Don't feel so bad. It was a long time ago, and you didn't know. My name's Sakura by the way."

"Kisame," he replied, with a little wave. He still wouldn't look her in the eye, but at least the hardness in his voice was gone. "But you probably knew that."

She blinked. "I should?"

"Eh, yeah well I uh, I know-or I've heard about you and the name, I uh knew, and ah back then, we were neighbors once and you didn't see me but I, um..." He looked up, sheepish. "I'm not making much sense now, am I?"

The ice around her mood thawed quickly and she laughed a little. "I think I'm following. But I've been gone a long while and I only just got back. Did we meet once before?"

He shrugged. "You were really little, so you probably wouldn't have remembered. But we've...I've lived here long enough to remember."

"I'm sorry. Are you older than me?" she asked.

He looked her up and down without being suggestive and then met her eyes. She returned the gaze unflinching. "I don't know, how old are you, Sakura?"

"You really shouldn't ask a girl her age. How old are you?"

He grinned, leaning against the end of his ax, (still stuck in the stump), and the smile seemed almost sharkish without being frightening. "It's also rude to ask without first offering. Didn't you know that?"

"I'm afraid I'm pitifully undereducated in your back country ways."

His grin seeped into a small smile. "Stay that way. It's better for you."

Sakura laughed, letting her hand fall to her stomach as it squeezed at something funny Kisame hadn't meant to be funny. Little tears gathered at the corners of her eyes and she knew she was lettering herself get carried away, so she made an effort to quiet herself. When she looked up he was still staring at her, but no longer leaning on his ax.

"I'm sorry, that was just really appropriate for the moment," she managed to make out, still holding her stomach. "You'll have to forgive me, I didn't mean to be rude or laugh like that."

"No, that's fine," he mumbled, still watching her, if not a bit more intently. His gaze was like that of a scientist studying something new and marveling. "It was sort of refreshing to see someone laugh at something I said and not just me."

She nodded, still smiling. "Thanks."

Something began to whistle from inside his house and he cursed softly, dropping his ax and heading back into his home to turn the kettle off. His head emerged a minute later. "Would you like some tea?"

"Did you make enough for two?"

He smiled wide, nodding his head towards the back of his kitchen. "I made enough for six, but I usually drink only enough for five, so this works out nicely."

"I guess I could spare the minute," Sakura said, stepping out of the brush and heading toward the home's entrance. "You're not going to kill me and bury my body in the woods for no one to ever find, are you?"

"Probably, but only if you don't like my tea." She chuckled in reply.

On her way there she passed over the ax still stuck in the stump, sagging since loosing Kisame's support. The handle had something dark burned into its side, something written that Sakura recognized without knowing. It was a hebrew word that she had seen burned in the pair of hatchets her father once owned. She didn't know what they said, but she knew at least that whatever it was, it was on Kisame's ax just as well.

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"Here I am a rabbit hearted girl, frozen in the headlights ..."

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Who is the lamb and who is the knife ? Midas is king and he holds me so tight, And turns me to gold in the sunlight

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He watched her return back to her home after a whole day at the other blue man's house. She hadn't meant to go anywhere, but an unplanned surprised had put yet another male in her path to obstruct the plane worked out so many years ago. She had been promised long before any neighbor or friend.

Sakura stopped outside the door to her kitchen and lifted one dainty foot up and peered at the sole over her shoulder before inspecting the other. She then sat down to massage her feet and work out the knots that had formed as a result from going barefoot. She was lucky nothing else had hurt her in her near nakedness.

No, not lucky, blessed.

"Because she is divine," he murmured into the wind, tracing his lips and relishing the taste of her skin from the dance last night. She had been scared, but even then she was a goddess to his eyes.

"You've become quite the pervert, haven't you, kid?" a gruff voice sounded from behind him.

Sasuke turned to glare behind him. "Back off old man,"

"Not likely," Zabuza replied back, thick arms crossing over his well developed chest. "At least not with you up and about so early in the night."

Sasuke snorted, jerking his head back to throw some of the more rebellious bangs behind his head. "It's twilight, and besides, I'm younger so of course I can stay out earlier than those bastard brothers of mine. What's it to you? You're not a night walker." There was a hint of pride in his tone of voice.

"I'm not a maniac either. Sakura is our human, we're supposed to protect her, not scare her half to death so that she starts building salt rings and hanging up wards in the windows. What the hell did you do to her?"

At his words Sasuke bristled, eyes flashing with built up anger. "Nothing! She should have been happy to see me. It was dark so she probably didn't recognize me and thought I was someone else. She would be happy to see me again."

Zabuza shook his head. "She's not a little girl anymore. She's grown up. Maybe she doesn't see you the same way."

Sasuke sprang from the tree branch and launched through the air, snapping wide girths of bark and felling thick branches as he clawed the open air, aiming for the other man's neck without remorse. But Zabuza was faster than that. He blocked the blow easy enough and countered with one of his own.

Getting behind Sasuke, he grabbed the boy's head and found the curved stumps of what were his horns. Grabbing a hold of one he twisted it as best he could and the young boy became a puddle of boneless mass on the ground and he whined and hissed in pain. He was still too young to have fully developed horns, so the studs were as sensitive as any new organ.

"Damn you."

"I'll do worse than damn you if you ever do anything to hurt her, be it intentional or not. When she is frightened the whole of this land is in anguish. Don't forget that you brat."

"You don't know what you're talking about. You never talked with her like I talked with her. You didn't know her like I knew her! All you can say is that you watched over her. How pathetic is that?"

Zabuza twisted Sasuke's horn a bit more and the Uchiha boy cried out in pain, falling to his knees. "You'll do well to remember your place in our world. Sakura is ours to protect, least she grow up like her father. I won't have you compromising the situation just because you have some silly crush on her."

"It's not a silly crush. Sakura is mine!" Sasuke retorted, sounding so sure of himself even if Zabuza was the one in the position of power. "I know what I'm feeling and it's not something so insignificant, and you're the last person who should be chastising me."

"Sasuke," Zabuza warned, feeling his grip of the budding horn grow weak.

"I see the way you look at her, too. You're always thinking of her, listening for her voice, drawing her name in the dirt when you think no one is watching you…you have it worse than me, but you just can't admit t."

The older man growled and threw Sasuke to the ground, letting go of the only thing that could really keep the younger monster submissive. He was too angry to keep a submissive opponent. Sasuke had crossed a line, breathing words and exposing secrets that shouldn't ever be exposed. Zabuza was the example, the better person in comparison to the Uchiha clan and its demon like night walkers. Sure, he himself was quite terrifying with all the blood from past kills on his hands, but at least he wasn't like them. At least he had some honor; at least he kept things in control, at least…"

"Hello?"

The voice of an angel wiped his mind clear as both he and Sasuke stilled. Sakura had stood up and was making her way to the edge of the woods, hesitantly, cautiously.

"Kisame?" she called again.

Zabuza looked to his side and saw the greed in Sasuke rise up. He knew the feeling well. There would be nothing the boy wanted more than for Sakura to find him and to be in her presence, to feel her gaze and hear her greeting.

But she wasn't ready for that.

"No-" Sasuke tried to cry, but Zabuza held the younger boy tight under his arm, keeping him restrained as Sakura backed away from the edge of the woods, back to her home. She was starting to remember the previous night.

"If you let her go we'll never…" Zabuza knew the rest of what Sasuke wanted to say. Once she entered her home that was it. None of them had been invited in, and even if they had, the blue line that had been set down by her nana and the salt around her bed would work just as well at keeping them out. Once Sakura left the outdoors, there was no way they could get to her, and that was what Sasuke feared.

"I'm going to take you back to your brother and have him deal with you, as well as your uncle once the midnight moon is up," Zabuza calmly explained, watching as his reason for existing backed up into her home and shut the door, locking it with an iron bolt. It was another thing to keep them out.

"Itachi won't be up for another hour and Madara is not my uncle, he's just older than us, so stop calling him that."

"Regardless, he will not be happy to hear what you have been up to. He seems to treasure her just as much as her mother." Zabuza let Sasuke out of the choke hold, but kept a strong grip on the collar of the kid's shirt. When Sasuke turned back to glare at Zabuza, he smirked. "I guess it is really true what they say. The dark ones have always been attracted to spring women, the ones most forbidden to them."

"That doesn't matter," Sasuke grumbled, trying to pull away with no real effort. He knew if he wanted to he could get away now, but after Sakura had gone inside there really wasn't any point to it anymore. What would he have to run to now?

Something sounded behind them, and both males turned to see a third figure down the path, smiling over at them with all the charm of a dead man. When he saw it wasn't putting either male at ease, Sai raised his hand to wave.

"Hello there. Fancy meeting you out so early in the night, Sasuke."

"What do you want, you bastard?" Sasuke asked, yanking free of Zabuza at last.

"These are my woods too, are they not? At least Zabuza should not be able to boast of such. His parcel should have ended with the blue man's land. Why is he looking after Sakura?"

"Stop asking questions for answers you already know, Sai," Zabuza grunted, feeling threatened by the skeleton thin boy who was only a ghostly copy of what Sasuke's clan had grown into.

Sai was what they called the devil without horns, since he was only half of a true night walker. He had all the beauty and grace of an Uchiha with his thick black hair and coal colored eyes against moon colored skin, free of any blemish. Like the Uchiha he was restricted to the night, but like Sasuke he was one of those who could come out early to do as he pleased.

"I came to star gaze," Sai offered. "I was in need of inspiration, and I heard two of my favorite stars came back into the sky."

Sasuke growled. "Back off, half breed. You aren't welcomed anywhere near Sakura."

"That could be a problem. There is nothing more worthy of my admiration or my art."

"Leave," Sasuke threatened again.

Sai inhaled deeply, then reached up to brush back the strands of hair that had fallen in front of his eyes. The move was simple, yet elegant, showing off the masterful grace centered in either of his two wrists. "Why should I?"

"Sai," Zabuza interupted. The pale boy looked up at the older, stronger male. "We are leaving as well. No one will remain within this area for the night."

Sai chuckled. "You know it is only a matter of time before we meet. Sakura can not keep herself from the magic in her blood forever. The fact that she returned should be proof enough of that. I will wait, because I know I will see her soon. Before long she will be a part of this land again, fully and truly."

Sai tilted his head to one side and turned away, letting the long black mist of his garments float about him as he seeped into the scenery of the woods, leaving nothing but a memory behind as testament to his form ever really being there.

"…How long do you think it will be?" Sasuke asked.

Zabuza stared down at the Uchiha boy, still frowning. "You mean until Sakura comes into the woods on her own, or until she meets with one of us again?"

"Either."

It was a good long while before Zabuza decided to open his mouth and answered in a voice that could have easily been mistaken for a whisper in their part of the world. "...Not long at all I'm afraid."

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"I ran away in floods of shame. I'll never tell how close I came As I cross the Holland road. You went left and I went right. As the moon hung proud and white You would of loved it here tonight."

.

Sakura pulled the sides of her sweater closer around her body, loving how the aged and fuzzy fabric kept her warm on nights where there was still a hint of a chill. The winter season had long since passed, but springs could still get nippy when they wanted to. Still, it was nothing she couldn't handle with the aid of a little dancing to get the blood pumping.

She glanced upwards at the half moon hanging like a pinned pearl on the blanket of God's favorite canvas. it was dark and it was late, so she should have been weary, but it had been a full weak since her last scare, and that was a long time to connivence her it really was nothing she saw that night. She had just been paranoid and imagined it.

Still...

"Were you waiting long?" Neji asked, walking up to her front porch, leaving the truck running behind him.

It was a nicer model, unlike most of the machinery around the town. Sakura had always thought it was too manly a vehicle for Neji, who would always be that princely sort of sissy boy in her memories. The only time she had ever told her this he got mighty offended and she had since decided to keep her unflattering thoughts to herself. At least it was a good kind of sissy she thought Neji to be. He was a gentleman.

"Not very, but I was starting to wonder if I shouldn't have bothered you." She smiled and followed him off the porch and towards the truck. "You probally wouldn't have gone unless I mentioned it, right?"

He shrugged, getting the door for her. "It has been pretty busy down at the campsite. The rest of the gypsy hoard arrived this week, so everything has been hectic down there." From his tone it was obvious Neji didn't care much for the homeless wanderers, but he let it go from his thoughts soon enough. "This is the first dace since we were last together."

"It is, isn't it."

"...Have you gotten much writing done?" he asked, sounding hesitant. A sideway glance in her direction only made him seem more agitated since it showed his favorite person leaning against the glass window, bathed in smokey moon light.

"Not much, to be honest. I've been busy moving things around and unpacking old things. When auntie and I left originally there was a lot of junk I just abandoned to whoever would buy the house, and it's still there, all of it," Sakura explained, running a hand through the waves in her bangs on either side of her face.

"Was that one of the reasons you bought it from your aunt?" Neji asked.

Sh turned to give him a look. "Of course not. I haven't found one useful thing out of any of it, except maybe a pair of hatchets and an old indian knife my grandfather made out of deer antler. Stuff like that, it reminds me of him."

The trunk sank into a dip into the road before popping out with the assistance of the much needed 4 wheel drive. Neji swallowed. "Is it okay to think about him in that house now? I never thought you would want to come back to that place if you could."

Sakura looked over at Neji, and it was only then in that instant that he saw the dark shadows under her eyes from sleepless nights and stress. Even in all her beauty, there were still traces he could just barely make out of the emotional trauma she was still dealing with. But just as soon as it came, it was gone, returning her to her former glory.

"It's been too many years for a grown girl like me to get worked up over things like that." She nodded out his window to the wooden dancing platform that was once more stung up with fairy lights and paper lanterns. "I've been looking forward to this," she confessed resting a hand on the door's handle. Once the truck was parked, she was out, skipping across the grass to where she could see faces from old friendships, waiting.

Neji called out to her from behind, but she didn't stop for him. She grabbed Kiba's hand and dragged him into the mass of jumping bodies. "Darkness is a harsh term don't you think? And yet it dominates the things I see..." Sakura cooed in accordance with the song that was raging behind her. Kiba just laughed and spun her faster as the words were drowned out.

She wasn't there to sing and he wasn't there to sit and listen, but enjoy, so their hands wove together and flew apart as the banjo player crooned the word's of an old Scottish play. "Stars hide your fires, For these here are my desires."

Sakura pulled away for a moment to toss her sweater to Shikamaru on the sidelines, already feeling the heat and energy pool under her skin. The feathers of a young wind passed over her skin, conjuring gooseflesh across her chest and down her exposed arms. A sharp breath put more urgency in her steps as she moved to the hands of nature and the motivation of music.

Somewhere along the way she lost Kiba in the lesser steps, as her steps became more complex and wide, taking up more and more of the dance floor. Hands clapped in her face and behind her, cheering her on as she picked up her skirts and jumped. Only the balls of her feet touched wood with the aid of wind and fever. She could hear all around her people laughing, commenting on how well she danced, just like her mother, an angel in her day.

That made sense, since Sakura felt like her spirit for the dance came from somewhere deep inside of her. It was like her very blood was thickly soaked in the urgency of excitement and art. Her mother had been an artist, a painter who made sure the walls of her rooms were nothing less than amazing with well hidden detail.

She hadn't noticed it, until the tears were on her lips, but the memories were up in her eyes now. She choked, arching her back and sweeping in a low circle before pulling herself up by the elbow to one side. The wordless dance continued all around her, no one ever noticing how the stars in the sky seemed to bleed into one another.

"Sakura?" someone asked, as she stumbled off the stage and into someone's chest.

She looked up and saw Kiba staring down at her. A glass of soda was in his hand, so she reached for it, loving how someone had spiked it. "Sakura, you shouldn't no-oh," he grimaced as she pulled her moist lips away from the rim. They curved upwards into a fox like grin.

"Thank you, love," she whispered, already light from the dance more than the drink. She reached forward and kissed his face before passing behind him, content to hear the noise of Neji and Shika yell at him.

"If I said I loved you would you follow me into the dark?" a young gypsy boy asked a girl on his shoulder. She giggled sickly in response, (all too coy and brainless),as he passed her the bottle.

Sakura felt her chest flip at a memory from the city.

He sat on her bed, a surprise for her after a day at the editor's office and another rejection. He had her guitar on his knee, stroking the taunt strings with a lover's skill. He glanced up at her with his storm gray eyes and smiled before strumming once.

"What are you doing here, Pein?" she asked with a chuckle, secretly loving it how he had managed to break into her apartment.

He swayed a bit, strumming. "Love of mine, someday you will die, but I'll be close behind to follow you into the dark...something romamntic comes after this I think," he sang, obviously forgetting the lyrics as he mumbled the last half. "Oh...If there's no one beside you when your soul embarks, then I will follow you into the dark."

"Stop that," Sakura laughed, putting a hand on his guitar. "You know I hate that song."

"I thought you would appreciate the gesture, since it's the only thing I can sing."

Sakura hummed, reaching over to kiss his forehead. "You could sing Ava Maria if you wanted to, darling. Don't make up such silly stories."

Pein watched her turn from him and head back into the kitchen where her bags had been dropped. She went to the satchel first and pulled free her marked up manuscript, sighing at the amount of red on the first page alone.

Concerned, Pein got up and came up behind her to run one hand over the paper and wrap her with the other. "Don't fret, my love. It is only a matter of time before you've made it. Then you can marry me and we'll buy a house and have an army of kids."

"Pein," Sakura sighed. "You know I love you, but we..." she let her voice fade into nothingness, just like the abandoned strings on his guitar. He stiffened behind her.

"Don't think of her. I told you it was over between she and I. Don't make excuses for this."

"I'm not. It's not about Konan at all. I just...I'm not ready to be anything to you. I love you, but I don't want to get involved or become a pair or...it just isn't the right time. I need to find my feet in this business first, and then I'll...'follow you into the dark' if you want."

He lowered his face into her hair, letting his own titan colored strands mess with her rose colored ones. He inhaled deeply and sighed a breath out. The rings up either side his nose detached without tangling in her hair so he could spin her round to face him.

"Will you promise me that, then? When you make it you'll be mine, we'll be together? Is that really all it is?"

"Pein..." she looked up into his eyes and knew what he wanted. The kiss would have happened too if Pein had been any less of a moral man. He wouldn't take advantage of her, ever. With a sad smile he pressed his lips to her knuckles and stepped back.

"I'll be waiting for you then, Sakura. Waiting for only you."

How funny was it that they played that stupid song for him at his funeral. The only one who sang along to it was the pretty blue haired girl in the front row next to his adopted parents, both too frail and kind to loose such a good and loving son.

Sakura kept herself in the back row, never really seeing anything, just like at her father's funeral. It could have been anyone they put into the ground, and that anomaly was something she took pleasure in. She became cloistered in it, protected from reality. But that same protective cloister shell ate away at her spirit in exchange for protection. It made her weak and numb.

Sakura looked up, seeing how far away she was from the dancing, and stared into the stars, watching them work in suspension, glowing, burning, and brightening. When she returned her eyes to the earth, she saw a thin black horse grazing before her. It looked at her over his shoulder before reaching for the grass again. She saw the sweet stains from when it had pulled someone's cart, and knew it belonged to the travelers.

Sakura picked up her skirts and approached the side of the large beast, reaching out to touch its shoulder. The heavy muscles rippled under the touch and she enjoyed the sensation. She leaned against the horse, inhaling sweat and dirt and loving it all the more.

More tears leaked free for reasons unknown to her. She gasped a bit as they got stuck in her throat. The black coat of the mare and the black color of her father's coffin, and of Pein's formal wear as the lid shut on his short life.

"I'm just running again," she admitted out loud. "I only came here to get away from there. I'm not dealing with any of it. But I'm trapped now. I can't get away from both of them at the same time."

'Are you going to run away again?'

"I can't," she answered the wind, curling her her fingers around the mane of the mare.

'Run away.'

"I want to run away so bad," she confessed, exhaling a cold breath as the body of her horse fell away and the stars blinked out.

Strong arms encircled her as pale fingers tickled the flesh of her arm. His blank white face smiled down at her, so hallow and chilling all at once. Midnight black bangs the same color as the stands from her hands brushed over his equally black eyes she she stared up into them. A name from her memory rose up behind her lips. A name from long, long ago.

"Sai."

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"And it's peaceful in the deep cathedral where you can not breath. No need to pray, no need to speak, now I am under."

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Songs clips used (in oder of appearance):
The Cave -Mumford and Sons
White Blank Page- Mumford and Sons
Little Talks-Of Monsters and Men
Rabbit hearted Girl-Florence+Machine
Home-Mumford and Sons
Roll away Your Stone-Mumford and Sons
I will follow you into the Dark-Death Cab for Cutie
Never Let Me Go- Florence+Machine

~I'm always listening to music and discovering new sounds and artists. If you have any suggestions please let me know, I'm always open to new experiences and blends! My music library is always growing, little by little.

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AN:/ OKay, this is the first chapter in a two shot that was going to be a oneshot, but I'm tired of just doing oneshots. Also, I wasn't sure if I could get the whole thing done in time because I've had to cut out a few scenes I really wanted to write.

This is an entry for ShelbySabaku's contest that I decided to join...yesterday or the day before that. I actually saw sLiCeOfLiFe's amazing entry and was so inspired I just had to do something. (Make sure to thank her) But yeah, I had to write this like mad before the muse fell away.

The next chapter has her kidnapped by Sai, Sasuke, running into Madara and Itachi, and maybe more if I am so inclined with my deadline. I put off so much homework for this, so please REVIEW and tell me what you think.

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