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Twisted by Design

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“I don’t believe in fairy tales.” A sarcastic voice beside her spoke into her ear making Sakura jump.

“Excuse me?” Sakura slipped her thumb in between the pages of her book to hold her place so she could glare at the asshole beside her on the train.

“Why are you reading that?” The man ignored her previous question and continued with his rude questions.

“Who are you?” Sakura continued to glare at the redhead. If he wasn’t going to answer her questions, she sure as hell wasn’t going to answer his.

“No one.” He cocked his head to the side, his amber eyes piercing in their intensity.

“Last week you were reading Voltaire, now you’re reading this garbage. Why?” The obnoxious man waved a surprisingly graceful hand at the trashy soap romance her best friend Ino had given her, demanding she read it so they could discuss it the next time they hung out.

Sakura couldn’t believe this guy. Who the hell did he think he was talking to her so, so, so invasive…

“I fail to see how it is any of your business, and are you stalking me? How do you know what I was reading last week?” Sakura demanded.

She had heard all about those crazy people on the trains, who stalked women and followed them for weeks obsessing about them before killing them when they ultimately never lived up to the stalkers expectations or fantasies.

She would admit, he certainly didn’t look like a stalker, or a murderer in his button up dress shirt and designer suit. Even if his red hair had a sort of refined wonderment to it, he looked...poised, organized...deafeningly precise.

“It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.” The redhead quoted Voltaire making Sakura’s mouth twitch.

“I do not revere this book in the slightest, I am reading it for a friend.” She replied before she could squash her curiosity.

“Friendship is the marriage of the soul, and this marriage is liable to divorce.” The stranger quoted Voltaire again.

“Is there a point you are trying to make?” Sakura asked a bit more sharply than she had intended.

“No, an observation.” The redhead looked up and out the window behind Sakura. “Your stop is next.”

“What? How do you…” Sakura looked out the window, then turned her head back to demand how he knew such a thing if he hadn’t been stalking her, only to find that he had vanished.

“What the hell?” A cold grue ran down her spine and settled in the place her Anthropology teacher had told them that their tails had been once before man had deemed fit to evolve into something greater.

With another quick look around at the other passengers she gathered her things and stepped off the train at the next stop with four other people. Looking up and down the platform while biting her lips she saw no sign of the redhead. Relaxing visibly, she took a deep breath, only to realize, she had left the stupid trashy novel Ino had lent her on the train.

Sakura groaned, she didn’t have time nor money to go buy Ino another copy. Damn that asshole for distracting her...if she ever saw him again, it would be too soon!

The next day Sakura set her bags down in the empty seat beside her, sighing openly without shame, it had been a horribly long day and she was riding the train home almost three hours later than she normally did.

At least the chances of seeing that red headed jerk were slim, if he had been stalking her and had memorized her rather predictable routine, he would be sadly disappointed tonight.

“You’re late today, did something happen at the university?”

Sakura’s head whipped around to the redhead in the seat next to her so fast that her head spun.

“How the, what the…” She sputtered. “You are stalking me!”

“No, I just notice things.” He reached out and tugged a lock of her pastel pink hair loose from her messy bun that she had thrown her hair into before leaving her last class for the night and their ‘group’ session.

“Don’t touch me weirdo.” Sakura slapped his hand away from her hair, only he hadn’t let go of the lock of hair.

“Ow.” She growled at him making him smirk again in that annoying fashion he had displayed to her the previous evening

“Your hair is a very unusual color. Is it naturally pink, or do you dye it?” He asked her in the same rude and intrusive voice he had used on her yesterday.

“It’s natural you asshole, now go away, I don’t want to talk to you...stalker!” Sakura turned in her seat, turning her back to the man.

“Are you sure?” His hand came into view as he reached around her waving something so close to her face that she had to lean back to see what it was.

Sakura gasped as another hand closed around her upper arm. She had leaned so far back in her seat she had leaned into the stranger...the stranger that was clearly stalking her. Looking back at him over her shoulder her green eyes met clear amber, she paused, at this angle she was close enough to see the light gold flecks of his irises, it was really rather pretty and she wondered if...what the hell was she thinking.

Snapping back to her senses she leapt to her feet and started backing away from the man who was watching her with the slow lazy predatory gaze one might find on a tiger...or a wolf as they tracked their prey.

“You don’t want it back?” The redhead waved the book back and forth in front of her face, the book she had forgotten on the train last night.

“Thief!” Sakura snatched the book from his fingers.

“Everyone goes astray, but the least imprudent are they who repent the soonest.” The red head was quoting Voltaire again.

Did he get a cookie every time he quoted him or something? Sakura rolled her eyes.

“I’m not going to thank you or apologize for calling you a thief.” She spit out, grabbing her things and making ready to get off at the next stop.

“What are you doing? Your stop isn’t for two more stops?” The redhead, who still hadn’t introduced himself to her, cocked his head to the side as if wondering why she was trying to escape him sooner than she had to.

“I’m meeting a friend tonight, not that it’s any of your business.” Sakura watched the platform come into view and walked toward the door.

To her horror, the redhead followed her.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” She looked at him with real fear in her eyes, was this it...was this how she died?

“This is my stop tonight. I’m going to see a friend as well.” He smirked that smug little smirk of his that made her want to haul off and punch him in the throat.

“Oh.” She replied dumbly, not knowing what else to say.

The train stopped and they got off together much to Sakura's displeasure.

“Well, bye.” She could have smacked herself in the forehead, and she would have if she had a free hand to do so. Damn her mother for raising her to have manners.

She turned on her heel and started walking down the platform to the stairs. It was late at night and the platforms were fairly empty. Looking back and forth Sakura chewed her bottom lip, she hated riding the train this late at night, not that Ino lived in a bad part of town, but you never knew. Crime could happen anywhere.

Speaking of which, she could still hear the gentle tapping of the redhead’s dress shoes on the cement behind her and wondered how long he was going to follow her. So wrapped up in her thoughts she hadn’t noticed the group of three standing in the mouth of the alleyway she was about to walk past, until one of the men stepped out in front of her.

“Hey baby, where do you think you’re going? How about you come here and say hi to my friends, I bet they’d love to get to know you better.” The man grabbed her and dragged her into the dark alley.

Sakura screamed and kicked out but strong hands covered her mouth and began to tear at her clothes. Tears welled up in her eyes, which she scrunched up shut and grit her teeth, hoping it would just be over soon.

A grunt, then a thud, “What the fuck?” A shout and another thud. The hands that bound her released her and she fell to the ground.

Scrambling to her feet she watched as the redhead, who had harassed her on the train for two days in a row, body slammed the third and last man who had assaulted her up against the brick wall of the alley, headbutted him and then jabbed him in the kidney hard with a tight fist, dropping him to the ground.

“Who, who are you?” Sakura whispered as the redhead walked over to her quickly and drew the two halves of her shirt up and around her chest to cover her.

“Akasuna no Sasori, come on, let’s get you out of here.” Sasori put his arm around her and started to pull her from the alley.

Looking back over her shoulder, she saw one of the men raise his hand, something glinted in the moonlight. “Waa?”

Sasori pushed Sakura out of the mouth of the alley, spun, caught the knife and threw it back at the man on the ground. A soft wheezing sound followed Sasori out of the mouth of the alley and then was heard no more. Sasori shrugged his jacket from his shoulders and draped it over Sakura to hide some of the damage the three men had caused.

“It’s going to be alright, come, let’s get you to your friends house.” Strong arms pulled her close.

Sasori swung his arm over her shoulder to help keep her steady she realized as shock settled in and she began to shake.

“Where to now?” His voice was gentle,

“Um, left.” Sakura pointed to a large house at the end of the block down the side street.

“You’re going to be fine.” He assured her as he walked her up the porch steps to Ino’s house and knocked on the door for her.

Ino opened the door and gasped at the battered and bruised sight of her friend. “Sakura! Oh my gosh, what happened!” Ino reached out and pulled her best friend into her home and shut the door.

“Wait, Sasori!” Sakura pushed the front door back open and looked out into the street. He was gone. No one was there. The suit coat around her shoulders, the only evidence that she had to prove his existence.

“Where the…” Sakura muttered as Ino pulled her back inside and shut the door behind her.