As I stare skyward my face is pelted by restless drops of water. A sporadic pitter-patter sounds all throughout the forest and thrums unsteady as my heart beat.

I am not crying.

It shows no signs of letting up any time soon, but I don't care. I am already soaked to the bone, and with each cascading drop I can feel the cracks in my heart widen. A violent tremor rakes through my body and I fall to my knees, gaze ever-lingering on the dreadful sky.

My Danna does not love me.

How could he? I don't even love me.

My hand subconsciously slithers into my weapons pouch and pulls out a kunai.

Even so—even with all my anger toward Danna, and with all my self-loathing—how could I be so cruel to him? To the only man I've ever truly respected?

To the only person I've ever loved?

Even if it were possible I would not deserve his love. In fact, there is little in this life I actually deserve. Maybe that is why I'm so crooked. It's why I'm so careless when it comes to my own safety.

It's why I continue to hide from everyone around me.

Because all I am, really, is that same scared little boy I was eight years ago. Still stupid, still unwanted, still ugly.

My fingers idly trace the sharp edges of the kunai.

I wonder—how many times has my selfishness also endangered Sasori-no-Danna?

I've got to stop.

This has got to stop.

It doesn't matter if he hates me. It doesn't matter if I hate me. I can't go on like this any longer.

I catch the dull glint of the kunai from the corner of my eye and raise it slowly.

Nothing will change.

Maybe I can fix things. Maybe I can make him love me… if only I weren't me anymore.

I can do this.

I raise the kunai level with my neck.

If I can just take some of the ugliness away….

I close my eyes.

After all, it's what Sasori has wanted all along.

Before I can change my mind, I grip the mane at the base of my neck and make the cut.

.

.

.

My eyes open in time to see dull golden locks falling capriciously to the ground around me, and I let out a breath of relief.

"There; it's done."

A mirthless smile climbs upon my lips unbidden as I realize the rain beginning to taper off. The kunai falls limply from my hand.

"Deidara?"

I jump up, startled, and my head snaps around to find the source of the voice.

"D-Danna… what are you…?"

I can feel my eyebrows knitting in confusion, which must be plain as day to him. By now the rain has all but stopped. Slowly—cautiously (as if I am a wild animal and he is afraid I will either run or charge at any given moment)—the puppeteer makes his way toward me.

Without meaning to I stare, awe-stricken by the way the resurfacing sun reflects off the wet grass and onto his gorgeous face.

When he is a meager few feet away he stops. My eyes meet his as he says, "I was worried after that fit of yours…. Brat, what have you done to your hair?" With this Sasori crosses his arms expectantly, though his eyes are softer and more patient than I have ever seen them.

Subconsciously my hands dart to where my long tresses were mere moments ago, only to grasp at empty air. "It's… I cut it off, un."

For some reason I feel ashamed of this, and my stare travels downward. "I figured you would appreciate it, anyway. You were always telling me to get rid of it."

A deep sigh echoes between us and I glance up, somewhat taken aback by his downtrodden mood all of a sudden.

"You stupid brat. Why would you decide to listen to me now of all times? I'm always telling you to do things. Why do you choose to listen to this one?"

Though still confused, I find it within myself to harden my eyes and look directly into his. "Don't give me that, Danna." My fists clench at my sides. "I've always hated it, same as you. I don't know why I didn't get rid of it sooner, un."

"That's right. This is my fault."

"What? But- That's not what I—"

"Hush, Brat."

I am about to spit an indignant retort, but then he is there right in my space, and his hands are cupping my cheeks, and I—I am getting dizzy just from our proximity—Is this really happening?

"It was never what you assumed. You hair was—is—beautiful. You are beautiful. It's just—there were times when I could hardly contain myself around you."

My heart hammers a million miles a minute and I can think of no coherent response except, "What?"

I hear his breathy chuckle, but all I can see at that moment is his lips, so close to my own.

"Maybe I ought to just show you."

"Show me?" I blink twice, confused. I am lost in a completely different world—one that consists solitarily of red and gold, sunshine and petrichor. I close my eyes, and I smile, and our lips meet so softly that at first I think I've imagined it. But—no, this is happening, because the scent of sandalwood is stronger than ever and I think my bones are melting. Luckily I can feel his hands snaking around my waist and—

This is Sasori.

This is my Danna. I am kissing my Danna.

Abruptly, I pull away from the embrace. The warmth that had enveloped me immediately begins to dissipate. My eyes are wide, I'm sure, and my hand has moved to cover my mouth—whether out of embarrassment or defiance I am not sure.

"Danna, why would you do something so stupid?" I mumble against my palm. "You're just going to poison yourself. That's all I am, un: poison."

I'm not sure what kind of reaction I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't that which I received. A deep chuckle reverberates in the foliage and I stare at the redhead as if he's gone utterly mad.

"Deidara. I am the master of poisons; I think I know a lethal substance when I see one. You, Brat, are definitely not poison. At least, not the lethal kind."

For the moment I forget my hesitancy and take no time in retorting. "Hey! As an S-rank missing-nin, I resent that."

However, all this does is draw out another of those sexy, mirthful laughs of his.

Who knew a puppet could possess such lovely laughter?

When, once again, I feel hands upon my waist I give in. I figure there is no use fighting it, because deep down my heart wants one thing.

My arms snake around the other man's neck without a second thought and soon we are stealing each other's breath once more.

It lasts for seconds, although it feels even less than that. I yearn to be close like this for the rest of my fleeting existence.

"You know, Deidara…"

"Hmm?" I inquire softly, as my face is busy nuzzling into the crook of his surprisingly soft neck.

"I'm really going to miss your hair." As if to emphasize this point, he slowly runs his nimble fingers through the remaining strands.

"Just my hair, un?" I snicker at the thought. I never would have guessed that Sasori was actually so attached to it.

"Well, that's all I'll get the chance to miss." He leans closer and nips at my ear lobe, his hot breath making me shiver with his next words. "Right, Brat?"

In an attempt to hide the heat creeping up my neckline, I press my ear against his clothed chest and listen contentedly to the steady thrumming of his heart container.

"I'm not going anywhere, Danna. Not now."

Maybe I'd imagined it, but I'd swear his arms wound just a bit more securely around me.

"Good. Because I hope you know that regardless of the crooked paths you choose I will follow you."

I smiled more brightly than I had in years, and could feel Sasori doing the same against my damp hair.

And suddenly my heart didn't feel quite so empty anymore.