It rains after the Chuunin finals, which makes for washed-out tracks.
Kabuto watches it pour.
The Anbu will be delayed in hunting him due to the weather conditions. Even if there are patrols sent out, they will not be able to detect where he is hidden. Kabuto detached himself from the rest of his unit and bid them go on ahead. Those are his decoys.
Despite how close Kabuto sits to the village, near enough that he can see one of the local footpaths from his perch, the spy is confident that he will not be found.
Branches interlace into a canopy above him. Konoha's forests are thick. The shield of leaves is not complete; a steady trickle of rain is coming down right on his shoulder, so Kabuto is holding up the stolen Anbu cloak and appreciating the fact that it is weatherproofed. Huddled beneath it, the heat of his breath warms the air around his face and hands.
Dry powder lingers on his skin from the chemicals he used to erase his scent. Kabuto takes a careful sniff of his wrist, and smells only dust. Blank. He is nothingness once again, this time sitting in the rain.
He wonders even now if there are Anbu going through his room, ransacking it for clues.
He wonders if they will interrogate his parents.
He wonders--except he does not have to wonder, because he knows his parents will be called in to do the autopsies of the Anbu guards he killed. Kabuto can imagine his father kneeling by the corpse done up to look like the adopted son he had taken in so many years ago. Kakashi Hatake would be in attendance, describing how the bodies were animated. The fight. Kabuto knows how his father will examine the stitching of the false-face grafted onto the mobile corpse, and he wonders if the man will voice aloud the way he must feel betrayed.
They will cut off the skinwork of Kabuto's face from the body and discard it to the side to be studied later. That is his mother's job; Kabuto knows how the woman's eyesight is better than her spouse's, and how his mother will spread out the flesh-mask beneath her magnifying lenses. She will dutifully file the report with the same careful script she has always used, and then make a copy for the criminal records. She will help put her son into the wanted list with her own hands.
At dinner tonight, Kabuto's parents will sit alone in their living room if they are lucky. More likely, they will be kept at the clinic until dawn, shuttling in victims in need of emergency care. The infirmaries might overspill. Kabuto's parents will be there because it will be easier than going home, than turning on the yellow lights in the hallways and listening to the silence.
They did not expect this deception from the cuckoo they adopted so long ago. His instructor might have, but the man had escaped when the other Sound agents had fled Konoha. His teammates were a part of the ruse, and both deceased now, unable to be questioned.
A million secrets in the form of a single ruse have always been in Kabuto's mind, compressed into the bands of a solitary circle. His time before his father's prism is one of them, a fractional color gone hidden in the strands. The death of his instructor's conspirator is a second. They remain in their appropriate zones, dyed in greens, blues, violets of the acts.
As he looks up at the sky during the thunderstorm, Kabuto sees the rain in shades of scarlet. It comes down in waves, filling his ears the same way the rainbow-beat floods the water-roar to dull bass pulses of a heart murmur. He sees red because he is red, old blood moving crisp in his veins after proximity to so much fighting.
There are more secrets, concealing themselves in the muscular folds of the color wheel, each one a part of the spectrum.
Now he's not sure if he's lost the rights to some of his hues, or simply traded them away.
He cannot go back to Konoha. Orochimaru failed. Kabuto figured he would. Lacking Kimimaro and Sasuke both for hosts, Orochimaru simply hadn't measured up. The Hokage had come out a marginal victor from the standoff while Kabuto had spent his own time dressed in stolen cloak and mask, skirting between the Sound in borrowed clothing and the true Konoha Anbu.
During that time, he had found himself among the Konoha ranks and suppressed his laughter as they barked out orders between the packs to hunt down any traitors. Loyalty? Kabuto had learned that the word was only an application of a form; wear what shape you are expected, and others will believe you enthusiastic for their cause.
Orochimaru had presented him with an open challenge. Kabuto had recognized the trick. The loss of one Uchiha heir would not slow Orochimaru for long. Killing Sasuke would only condemn Kabuto as unwilling to assist the snake.
And so instead, Kabuto's familiar blue cleverness had been presented. Deliberations over Sasuke's hospital bed, careful construction of the Anbu dead to ensure him a way out that he would have never needed if he had not stopped to sew his face to them. Kabuto's arrogance in play once more. Kabuto's habit of leaving clues, reported numerous times over to the snake by his instructor and his former teammates.
Kabuto, no longer able to be used in the infiltration of Konoha Village because he willingly gave up knowledge to Kakashi that he was a spy.
A blue tendency. He is infamous for it. And Orochimaru accepted his excuse with a smirk that said he excepted such a flaw in his favorite toy.
The rain collects in a puddle on Kabuto's arm and trails down the folds of the cloak. It leaves a path as silvery as a slug's remains. Kabuto can feel the miniscule weight of it running across the cloth. He knows if he looks at the water-smear, he will see crimson stained upon his shoulder, crimson painted all upon him as he huddles underneath the trees to keep out of the red, red rain.
Konoha hadn't been required for destruction. Orochimaru's blind need for vengeance couldn't be turned so long as the Third Hokage remained alive; the snake-nin had only wanted to join with the Akatsuki because they would have provided him with a venue for his petty pride, and no amount of reasoning could convince him otherwise.
To Orochimaru, the growing problem of Naruto and the Nine-tails was a remote situation. A diagram on the pages of a medical manual, dry dictation in a study's afternoon when nothing written down compared to the reality of the sunlight shifting on the wall.
Kabuto tries to remember the color of yellow, to remember his father's study and his parent's home, but it's raining red all around him and he can't seem to focus on the shade without it melting into sun. The orange he is, created from the yellow of his adopted family and the red of old blood.
Orange contrasts blue, he's heard, which throws him now into direct opposition to the genin he used to be. Blue jacket and blue laughter and blue-lined homework papers.
Red. Yellow. Blue. Primary colors. Everything else is mixed from those three, he learned; they are the purest pigments, unable to be created in reverse except by creative visual illusion. Light is a different story, following a tune of red-green-blue, but Kabuto is limited to paint. If he tries to combine all the colors on his own, the result will only be black.
Now the rainbow turns.
The secret is heavy and thick inside him as Kabuto Yakushi begins to pick the patterns of his day from the shadow colors overlapping.
Orochimaru will expect him back soon, to bandage him up after the failed attack and speak soothing words. Kabuto is a skilled asset, having been reared by the chief medical unit of Konoha; his business, whether he has an opinion on it or not, will involve attendance upon the Sannin. He is unaware of the full nature of Orochimaru's wounds, but that is a matter that can be determined once he arrives.
Kabuto looks out into the mist of the thunderstorm and thinks of violet. Red and blue, melding together to make the face he will wear for the snake. Cleverness. And blood.
Primary colors yoked to primary meanings. Everything, Kabuto decides, is built from these. When all the colors shine together, white might be restored, but the chances are far more likely that his results will be black.
He doesn't know how many colors are left to him right now, but the game has not yet concluded. There are other circumstances that he will use various masks for. The Akatsuki. Kimimaro. Naruto. More.
On a wheel as vast as a rainbow, as twisted as an illusion's strip, Kabuto knows that he can find a niche for everything.
Someday it will come time to tally all the hues up. Then he will finally see if he can return to white, or if he is made of paint.