RLN and IHN: DIIIIIIIIIIEEE, OROCHIMARU! Yeah… Orochimaru knows no physical boundaries whatsoever. Man, this fan fic has made me hate so many people that I used to think were cool…

Hinata's Biggest Fanboy: Yeah, it is very true. And as for the long break: I was banned from the computer for two weeks, and then I hit a mental block for everything except my manga, and then… yeah. I couldn't think of how to word what I wanted to say.

Kage: Aku: BECCA-DONOOOOOO! Me: …..yeah. I just wanted to see your reaction. Lol.

Sailor Tiamat: Oo Carebear land? Wow you just really hate him. Yes, I did know that Ukon is a type of flower. I did a lot of research into names before doing this fic. Did you know that Ukon and Sakkon are the most popular names for twins in Japan? Yeah. I'm glad you like Shizuka!

Dragonman180: Tsk tsk, you poor thing… oh well. I eat legos too, so I'm no one to talk… (sweat sweat) Anyway. I cant say anything about their future because that goes against my policy, no da! (Kenshin grin)

Andrea: I've been on a motorcycle once… and the guy was really crazy. Almost Ukon-crazy. And on s die-note, you're not SUPPOSED to like Orochi…

A random student: HAIL LLAMAS! THEY SHALL RULE THE WORLD! ….Yeah, that was random. Ukon treats himself to stuff a lot… I mean, when you have that much money and it takes so little to make your girlfriend happy, what else are you gonna spend it on, you know?

Meggido: YAY! UBER FIC! (does the happy pencil dance) I couldn't have her say anything, because that would break the train of memories, no da.

Crazytreeotaku: I'm good at writing disturbing things, apparently… It's one of my gifts. (strikes pose)

Kie-san: I think most of your review may have been explained in this chapter… you have a habit of writing reviews like that.

All the other reviews were…. Yeah.


Crimson Love

Chapter Twenty-one:

Dark Room of Nightmares

"Dammit!" Thud. "Dammit!" Thud. "Dammit!" Thud. "Dammit!" Thud. "God fuckin' dammit!" Thud. "DAMMIT!" THUD.

Ukon closed his eyes, wrapping his arms around himself as he sunk to the floor of his room, his back to the wall. His head ached from being beaten against the wall. She wasn't supposed to know! He screamed inside. She wasn't supposed to know… She wasn't supposed to know…

My biggest secret…!

Flashback

"And then, and then, Daddy, guess what? Guess what happened next, Daddy!"

"What happened next, Shizuka-chan?"

"I got knocked out! Isn't that cool?"

"…" Orochimaru turned slowly, looking at me. At that moment, I felt my first taste of a fear that I would feel continuously for years.


"Come with me, Ukon," Orochimaru said silkily, beckoning me with his hand.

I paused, slightly, unsure, but followed him anyway. What's the worst he could do? I thought carelessly. I was soon to learn that carelessness could get me killed.

He led me to a part of the house I'd never been in before, down a bunch of dark, empty hallways and doors. Then, finally, he opened one last door, and stepped back so I could go in ahead. I went in, curious; it was dark in the room and even darker when he closed the door. It didn't even occur to me why he closed the door. I was very trusting back then. It surprised me when I felt him kick me in the back, his heel digging into my spine as I fell over onto the floor, instantly terrified and confused.

"YOU STUPID FUCKER! HOW THE FUCK COULD YOU LET HER GET HURT LIKE THAT!"

It hurt more then anything I'd ever experienced in my entire existence. It was so dark; I couldn't see where he was coming from. I couldn't tell if he had a stick in each hand, or if it was just one. But the blows came from everywhere. I scrunched my eyes up, put my hands over my head, pulled my knees up to my chest, and prayed to whatever god would listen that it would stop.

After what seemed like hours, I heard the clatter of the stick dropping, and felt him lean down to whisper in my ear:

"Don't get too confident. You're not good enough at anything to be confident."

Tears leaked from every corner of my eyes; I couldn't help it; I had tried so hard to find a place where I could belong.

Then, he stood back, and I heard him pick up the stick again.

"You'll stay in here," he told me, as if this were a great treat. Then he was gone.

When my eyes finally became adjusted to the dark, I realized there were no windows in the room. No color on the walls. No carpet on the floor. Everything was endless white. The pain was unbearable; every inch of me ached; I was sure I was covered in bruises, but I couldn't see them. I would have given anything to have had a window—any kind of link to the outside. I felt like a prisoner. I couldn't stand the white, or the hard floor. I felt like I was in a bubble or plainness, and the plainness was crushing me.

That's when I started to lose it.

My arm hurt the most; at first I thought I'd broken it, but Orochimaru-sama had taught me enough about First Aid to know that it had just gotten a lot of damage that had originally been meant for my head. I tried instead to ignore the pain and just think.

I'd never been hit like that in my entire life. The fight with the bully who provoked Shizuka-sama a few hours ago didn't hurt nearly as much as what I felt now. What had I done to deserve this? Shizuka-sama was alright—she'd only been knocked out for a few minutes, and all she had to show for proof was a small bump on the back of her head. That was it. It wasn't like I'd hurt her myself. Why did Orochimaru-sama have to hit me? He'd always told me how proud he was of me; he said I showed more promise then the others; he complimented me like Dad used to compliment me.

What had I done wrong?

Orochimaru-sama came every single day. When he was here, I wasn't allowed to talk, and I wasn't allowed to look at him (not that I was able to see him—the light from him opening the door usually made me lose my awareness of the room) unless I had his permission to do so, and when he did give permission, he would always sneer at my words, or laugh at my insecurity around him. Sometimes, he would just stand or kneel in front of me and tell me what a failure I was. During these times, I would sit with my back to the wall, my limbs limp, staring at my knees, letting the words wash over me. After a while, I began to think that they were true. I began to think that I was a failure. I didn't bother to wonder if Orochimaru-sama was brainwashing me.

But because I would never react the way he wanted (crying or whatever), he soon switched to psychiatric torture, which was simple, but, in this case, very affective. He sat with his back against the wall across from me, and requested that I tell him about my childhood. But whenever I started to speak, he would laugh at me. It confused me, at first: why laugh when you wanted me to speak? But when it started to sink in that maybe he really didn't want me to speak, he would always leave, telling me "If you're a good boy, maybe I'll let you see your dear sweet brother again."

This only served to torment me more, and I always forgot about him laughing at my voice. See my brother again. See. Enemies usually said that when they had killed a family member. They would say something like "do you want to see your mother again?" or something to that extent.

I began to worry so much that my entire body started to shake. Maybe Orochimaru-sama did kill Sakkon.

Other times, however, when he didn't feel like torturing my mind, he would torture my body, instead. He was very good at finding "new games" to "play". For example, one time, he brought in a huge tub of cold water, set it in the middle of the room, and told me to strip down and lie in it. At first, I started to refuse, but he grabbed my hair by the roots and ordered me to. So I did. The water was freezing. He kept me in the water for hours and hours, telling me, at the beginning, that he had read in a book about a mother doing this to her child. He told me the book was called "A Child called 'It'."

"That's what you are," he said with one of his wide, scheming smiles. "You're the child called It. Congratulations on losing your humanity."

Then he left.

I couldn't believe it. Not only did he control how I thought about myself, or how I spoke, or moved. He had to control my humanity, as well. It was too much. Far too much.

The tub of water was a favorite punishment of Orochimaru-sama's. He made me lie in there for hours and hours. Because there wasn't a clock in the room (not that I would have been able to see it) I couldn't count how many hours I stayed in that tub, but I didn't dare get out; if I got out, Orochimaru-sama would call me a "bad boy" and then I wouldn't be able to "see" Sakkon again. I measured when new days began by when Orochimaru-sama came to see me, so I must have been in the tub for at least five days, maybe more. When I was thirsty, I drank some of the water, not caring if it wasn't clean—it was water; that was all that mattered. When I was finally allowed out, I knew I looked like a pickled prune, but I didn't say anything. He told me to get dressed, already, but didn't give me a towel, so I put my clothes on my soaking wet body, shivering against the cold, and he told me to stand in the corner of the room, facing the wall. He seemed to find it very amusing that I had to feel my way around the room until I could find the corner. Then, I stood there for what seemed like forever.

After at least an hour, my knees and legs began to hurt, and I started to get tired, but I didn't dare go to sleep. It wasn't that hard not to go to sleep; the burning hunger in my stomach kept me very awake. But I knew that if I fell asleep without Orochimaru-sama's permission, I would be punished again. That was what started my insomnia. I read later that some people have insomnia because of nightmares, and whatnot. I couldn't sleep because I felt weak and open when I did. One time, I did fall asleep, when I'd only been in then Room for one day. I woke up to find myself hanging upside-down by my ankles in Orochimaru-sama's hands. He shook me up and down until I was wide awake, and then dropped me, laughing excitedly, as if this were all a game.

Even before all of this, when I'd only been in the Room for a day or so, I started to get hungry. I'd only had breakfast the day that Shizuka-sama got picked on, and by the time I'd gotten home, it had already been digested and I hadn't been able to get lunch because I'd been in the principle's office. By the next day, when Orochimaru-sama came in again, I asked if I could have something to eat; I didn't think it was an unreasonable question. The Room it's self wasn't really bothering me, but the pain and the hunger were. I thought maybe going without dinner was a part of my punishment for that night, sort of like a time-out; Orochimaru-sama had done it before with Tayuya or Kidoumaru when they had been "bad". But he'd sent them to their rooms.

But instead of facing this like a normal question, Orochimaru-sama looked at me like I'd just asked the dumbest question ever. "Only good boys get food," he told me, before leaving.

I started to hate myself. I hated the fact that I was powerless. I hated the fact that the Orochimaru who had been raising me since I was four years old, had turned into this horrible person. I hated the fact that no one seemed to wonder about my absence.

I was lonely; I had always had someone with me, either Sakkon, or one of my friends, or even Orochimaru-sama. Orochimaru wasn't that much of a comfort now, so I started making my own friends. I didn't tell Orochimaru-sama about them. Why should I? In the long, angry hours when I stood in the corner, or lay in the tub, or just sat by myself against the wall, I created my friends. It didn't occur to me then that I was hearing voices. I just called them my friends. They all served their own purposes.

One friend, Pain-Ukon, was something of a masochist. He liked pain, so whenever Orochimaru-sama hit me, Pain-Ukon would take it instead, and I could hide and play with my other friends.

Yet another friend, Angry-Ukon, harbored my hate. He was angry at everyone in the world but me and my friends. He was great to argue with, and to vent on. Even after I got out of the room, he had most of the control until I met Sakura. He liked to sleep, and rebel. But he never took over when I was in the room. That would get us all in trouble.

One of my best friends was Happy-Ukon. For some reason, Happy-Ukon was a girl. She liked music, and sometimes made up lyrics to her own songs on the spot, and sang them to me. She had a beautiful personality.

For some reason I didn't understand at the time, making all these friends left me feeling empty. Later, I read an article about split personalities for a class, and was pretty shocked to discover that I had any. It never occurred to me that I had a split personality, because I'd always heard that you didn't know if you had a split personality—normally, people just black out, like in that one kid-anime. After reading further, I found a disorder that seemed to fit me, called "Dissociative Identity Disorder"; apparently, while I was in the room, I had separated all of my emotions so that I wouldn't have to feel weak (although I'm not sure where Pain-Ukon came from). I never told anyone about my personalities; I didn't see why I should. I had made them for myself, so why should anyone else know about them? They remained one of the few secrets I ever kept from Sakkon, and, surprisingly, was the easiest to keep.

There was one period of time in the Room that I forgot completely. It might have been amnesia, but I don't think so, because I always remember when Orochimaru came in the Room, but never when he went out. It was a succession of entering, but never leaving within my knowledge. For a year afterward, I never remembered what happened during that time. There were a lot of memories in that Room that I made myself forget. I was very good at blocking memories, but at times I wish I could have kept a log, so that there wouldn't be so many blanks. After research later, I thought maybe Orochimaru-sama had given me Rohypnol, a drug that "incapacitated victims", but I never remembered eating when I was in the room, so I knew I had blocked the memories out.

I only remember falling asleep once, after the first time, when I was in the room. While I was asleep, I had a strangely pacifying dream that I was telling Orochimaru-sama to shove it up his ass and leave me alone. When I woke up, Orochimaru-sama was strangling me, holding me a foot off the floor by my throat, his face in mine, snarling angrily at me.

"What was that?" he growled. "What did you just say?"

I was totally confused; had I been talking in my sleep, or something? I tried to tell Orochimaru-sama that I didn't know what he was talking about, but he shook me by the throat, and the words were garbled.

"Don't give me that!" he said in a clipped, dangerous voice. "You stood right there and told me to shove it and leave you alone!"

I starred at him, slightly dazed. "Uh… what?"

"You heard me!" he shouted, throwing me away. I hit the wall with a sickening crunch, but I barely noticed, as I was having an internal argument.

Did one of you come out while I was asleep?

Of course I did. I told you not to take any crap from him anymore.

Let me come out, Ukon!

I told you not to come out!

Well I wasn't gonna take his crap anymore, even if you were! I'm sick of it! Just let me out one more time, and he'll wish he was never born!

Ohh let me out, Ukon! He's gonna hit you, let me out!

NO! He's going to let me out! NOW!

I can't do that!

Yes you can! Let me out! NOW!

I—

NOW!

Before I had a chance to protest, I felt my conscience being pushed to the side as Angry-Ukon took over. It felt like I was blacking out; I couldn't hear or see what was going on, but when Angry-Ukon came back, he seemed really happy, and Orochimaru-sama was gone.

After that, Orochimaru-sama left me alone for a while. Angry-Ukon didn't tell me if they fought or not, but I had a feeling they did. I wondered briefly if the reason Orochimaru-sama wasn't bothering me was because he was hurt, but I found myself not caring.

Yeah, let him get a taste of it, Angry-Ukon hissed, still obviously pleased with himself.

If he comes back, let me out! Pain-Ukon ordered, in a pouting mood that Angry-Ukon hadn't let him get hit.

One day, Orochimaru-sama brought in a mirror and a hanging, battery-powered light. He fixed the light above my head and told me to face the mirror so that I could see myself. What I saw reminded me of those pictures I'd seen in books of Holocaust survivors; my face was hollowed, my eyes were sunken in, my clothes were hanging off my skeletal body; there was encrusted, old blood at my scalp, and from various already-sealed scars over my body. I was sickened; I couldn't believe that was me starring out of the mirror. I tried to look away, but Orochimaru-sama's hand on the back of my neck forced me to look at my reflection.

"Look at it," he ordered. "It's you. If you weren't such a bad boy all the time, this wouldn't have happened. I do this for you, so you can have discipline."

Obediently, I starred at my reflection, trying to imagine myself the way I used to be, but I couldn't remember.

"Summer's over," Orochimaru-sama informed me. "You'll go back to school with the others."

At these words, my entire spirit seemed to lift. Freedom. But before I could rejoice entirely, he leaned down and whispered in my ear, "But one more sign of disobedience or failure, and you'll be back in this room. Understand?"

I nodded at once; what else could I say? I had a chance for freedom from the Room. I could see daylight again. I could see Sakkon again!

When Orochimaru-sama opened the door to the Room, he stepped back, smirking widely, for me to walk past. Normally, the smirk would have bothered me; I felt nervous for a split second, but not after I could see the open hallway before me.

"Big bro!" Sakkon cried, running towards me and throwing his arms around me. "Orochimaru-sama said you went to a summer military camp!" He stopped, stepping back and looking at me from arms length. "You lost a lot of weight."

"Well, yeah, they exercised all that fat out of me," I said at once, jumping into the lie, since Orochimaru-sama was still standing behind me.

"Oh… ok!" Sakkon beamed, taking my wasted hand and dragging me down the hall. "You're just in time for dinner! Everyone's really excited to see you!"

"Ok," I said, instantly heartened. Food! I was so hungry, I could feel drool gathering in my mouth at the sight of the dinner table. Shizuka-sama and Kimimaro, who had been sitting side-by-side on their raised chairs, squealed with delight at the sight of me, and jumped down, running under the table to throw their arms around me.

"You look fuckin' disgusting," Tayuya informed me as soon as I sat down. "Is that shit blood? And your clothes are so damn filthy."

"So's your personality," I snapped back, grabbing the nearest dish of food and taking the serving spoon out of it. Then I paused, in the midst of the rising dinner conversation, to look at the dish of food, which happened to be gyoza, my favorite, and then up at Orochimaru-sama, unsure. What if it was a trick? Another one of his psychiatrically tricks? What if, as soon as I started eating, he dragged me away to the Room again?

But he smiled a careless little smile and started serving himself tempura. I decided it would be alright, and took a few of the gyoza, then passed the dish to Sakkon, who was next to me, and took the next dish, some kind of leek dish, and put some of that on my plate. I took a little of everything, so as not to appear suspicious, but eventually, my plate was piled high. Orochimaru-sama kept urging me to take second, and then third helpings, which I did, so that he wouldn't get angry and when I was finally done, he asked me to put Shizuka-sama and Kimimaro to bed. So I did.

"You look funny," Shizuka-sama told me with a little giggle as I tucked the covers in under her chin. "You look like a zombie."

"Whooooooooo!" Kimimaro said in a scary voice, standing up on his bed and waving his arms around.

"Come on, guys, go to sleep," I urged them, going over to tuck Kimimaro in. Again.

"And you hands look like the skeleton Ms. Udon showed us," Kimimaro stated, looking at my hands as I tucked him in.

"…Good night, twerps," I muttered, turning on their night lights and leaving.

"Night-night, Alpha-kun!" they called after me through the closed door.

"You know, you do look like shit," Tayuya informed me again when I reached the TV room. "Did they feed you at that damn place or what?"

"Nah, I heard they have to earn food at that place," Kidoumaru said with a grin, nudging me with his elbow.

"Heh-heh, yeah, Alpha-kun's too lazy to earn any damn food, ne?" Tayuya said, grinning as well.

"Yep, Alpha-kun's lazy," Kidoumaru said in a sing-song voice.

"Sh… SHUT UP!" I shouted, lunging at him. "I'M NOT LAZY!" I shouted as I beat his face with my fists. "I'M NOT GROSS! YOU SHUT THE HELL UP!"

"Ukon, they were just kidding," Sakkon said carefully, trying to drag me off Kidoumaru, who looked semi-stunned. "Just like we always do, you know…?"

"Shut up!" I shouted, smacking his hands away. "You all just go fuck yourselves!"

I stormed out of the room, leaving them all in an obviously confused state. I was pissed. I was pissed at Kidoumaru, and Tayuya, and Jiroubou, and Sakkon, and Orochimaru-sama, and Shizuka-sama and Kimimaro. I couldn't stand being in that house. At school, it wasn't that much better. People noticed right away the weight lose I'd gotten, and I was picked on and teased a lot behind the teachers' backs (until I started beating their punk asses to the ground). But even though I beat them up, I didn't forget the teasing; it took me a month and a half to fill out again, but every once and a while, there was someone who just had to poke fun at me. Then, finally, the guidance counselor and school nurse couldn't ignore me anymore, and I was called for a meeting between the two of them.

I was a little freaked out at first—I'd never been asked to see the guidance counselor since the time she'd found out my mom died, and I'd only been to see the nurse once, and that was after the fight with the bully that got me into this whole mess. They were both very nice, and kind, and obviously thought of themselves as "understanding" but I knew they were just being careful around the scrawny odd-man-out who people said had an eating disorder. The nurse asked me a few direct questions, like whether I was getting enough to eat, or if I had any problems at home that could be affecting my school life. I wasn't sure how to answer—yes, I got enough food (more then I needed, actually), but if I told them about Orochimaru-sama, they would call him and I would get in trouble and be back in the Room again. So I told them I had a high metabolism. The nurse didn't believe me, obviously, but asked if I would let her give me a check-up. I agreed, not all that sure why she wanted to check my health, but after I'd taken my shirt off, I realized my mistake, since the old scars were still very visible. It was too late for me to back out, so I took my pants off, too, and stood there while the nurse examined all the scars. She didn't ask how I got them, and after she'd examined every visible square inch of me, she asked if I'd take my boxers off, too.

I drew the line at that. I knew doctors and nurses and whatnot were allowed to see people naked—it was part of their jobs. But I pointed out that the guidance counselor was not a doctor, so the nurse smiled and asked the counselor to leave, which she did. When she was gone, I took off my boxers as instructed, and the nurse examined me again. It was pretty uncomfortable, but was soon over, and she smiled again and told me to get dressed while she talked to the guidance counselor outside her office.

They were gone for awhile, but then came back in, looking really serious. I was never sure how to act around adults, so I didn't say anything, but the counselor spoke without my prompting. She asked how old I was, and I answered (ten), and she and the nurse exchanged a look. The counselor then proceeded to inform me that not only did I show signs of child abuse, but also sexual abuse, as well.

She went on to talk about how she was willing to "talk" about it, but I wasn't listening. I was in shock; at first it didn't make sense—but then it did, as quick flashes of the times I'd made myself forget came back in a rush. I remembered it all. I felt pretty freaked out. Then I realized the counselor was still talking, so I tried to listen. She was asking me when it happened. I lied right away and said I didn't remember. Apparently, this didn't make her suspicious at all, and instead she asked if I wanted to talk about it. I said no. Then she asked who had been hitting me. I said I didn't remember. She asked if my guardian (Orochimaru-sama) knew. I said I didn't know. She asked if I wanted him to know. I said no. She asked why. I thought up a lie really quick and said I didn't want him to worry. She looked a little… sad?... at my choice, but agreed, and said she wouldn't tell him until I wanted her to. Not likely to happen, I thought as I left the nurse's office.

That evening, when we got home from school, Orochimaru-sama was waiting for us in the living room, like always. He asked how my day went; I said it went ok. I couldn't look at him—the memories I'd tried to repress were still fresh, for me. I pretended that it didn't hurt because I didn't want Sakkon to worry about me, but after a while, Angry-Ukon started coming out more and more. Eventually, I let him have complete control, while I watched everything through his eyes, like a video screen. I would watch him interact with my friends, and with Orochimaru-sama. One thing that I and all my personalities shared, however, was the promise we had made to my mother: protect Sakkon. Love Sakkon. Be there for Sakkon. Angry-Ukon was never mean to Sakkon; on the outside, it just seemed like I was annoyed, or going through puberty, or something like that, which I probably was.

When I finished middle school, Angry-Ukon went away for a while so I could study for the entrance exams into high school (he was never big on academics). I was smart, so I helped Sakkon study, as well, and we both made it into a good high school, along with the others, while Shizuka-sama and Kimimaro stayed in middle school. Kankurou and Yamiko also went to our high school and that was around the time Yamiko started trying to flirt with me. However, Angry-Ukon was always in control, and he didn't have any interest in relationships, period.

I was fifteen at the time, and had already been cutting for two years. Sometimes, Angry-Ukon would go to sleep, and I would come back out, against my will, and I would be back in the life I had tried to escape from, so in a desperate attempt to end the pain, I would cut my arms, legs, fingers, anything. It didn't matter where I cut—the new scars blended easily with the old, and I was left in peace.

Then, one day, Yamiko asked me out. She was probably tried of Angry-Ukon always ignoring her, and decided to take action. I had been in control at the time, and I was so startled I said yes without thinking. Then, afterwards, I was nervous about what Orochimaru-sama would say. So, after school, I asked him (very carefully) and, to my surprise, he said I could have a girlfriend, right away.

Being in a relationship with Yamiko was a little weird. She was one of those girls who complimented everything I did, which was surprising, because whenever Orochimaru-sama beat me, he would tell me what a failure I was. After a while, I started warming up to her, and was a better boyfriend, and Angry-Ukon started coming out less and less. However, even though we were together for almost two years, we never had sex—I didn't want her to see all my scars, and I didn't want the old memories to come back.

Finally, about a month before Orochimaru-sama decided to move to a different area code, Yamiko asked why we never had sex, so I took my shirt off and showed her all the scars. She freaked out, needless to say, and ran out of the house and left. Somehow, Orochimaru-sama found out that I showed her my scars, and he got really angry. Even though I tried to tell him I didn't tell her how I got the scars, he didn't listen, and, the next day in school, I had a new black eye and a few new cuts. When Yamiko saw me, she freaked out again, and that was when she broke up with me.

"I can't take this anymore, Ukon! You keep putting yourself in danger! I don't need you anymore! Just leave me alone, I'm sick of looking at you!"

As soon as she was out of sight, I left and Angry-Ukon came back. While he went about the day, and the whole time we were getting ready to move (and moving) to the new house, I just sort of existed in the back of my conscious, in total disbelief. My entire existence felt crushed; I couldn't believe that, on top of everything else, I had to have Yamiko reject me, too. I had hoped, for some reason, that maybe she'd support me, or make me feel better, or just be there. But she'd run away. Twice.

Then, when we went to the new school in Konoha, Angry-Ukon stayed out, so I probably seemed really mopey and annoyed to everyone, because Angry-Ukon wasn't all that social. Then, Sakura came. Angry-Ukon yelled at me to come out and deal with her, but I refused. I didn't want to get hurt again, so I told him to get rid of her, and make her leave me alone by being as annoyingly quiet and broody as he could be. But she never left me alone. I guess she was used to it from trying to flirt with Uchiha for so long. Eventually, she wormed it out of Angry-Ukon why I had gotten beaten by Orochimaru-sama. Inside my head, I was terrified. I didn't want to be abandoned again. But she didn't abandon me. She actually felt sorry for me! Angry-Ukon and I were so surprised, he let me come out, and I asked for her name.

Even though she had a little attitude problem, and tended to burst out yelling every once and a while, I liked her the way she was. She was someone I could talk to; I was never able to tell anyone about how I felt, or my childhood, or about Orochimaru-sama, but she always listened. And whenever I got beaten, she would always help me, in any way she could. Within two weeks, it wasn't just that I valued her company—I needed her company. I needed the security she gave me. Even when I was in the hospital after the car crash, Sakkon told me she hardly ever left the room, except for necessity. Since my mom died, I couldn't remember anyone being that caring towards me; it confused me, but I didn't care. I didn't want to be alone anymore.

End flashback

Ukon closed his eyes, leaning his head back against the wall. God, I so did not want to remember that, he thought, chewing his lip. All the old aches were back, in his heart and his body. He glanced over at his dresser; in the top drawer, hidden within the pages of a magazine, was a scalpel. Just one little cut, a moments' pain, and he'd feel better. He got up, forgetting all the warnings he'd given himself before, against cutting, and went over to his dresser, opening the top drawer. He found the magazine and held it by its spine, shaking it, but nothing came out.

He frowned, shaking it harder, then dropped it and picked up another magazine, using the same method. Soon, he'd gone through every single magazine, and box, and book in the drawer, but still couldn't find the scalpel.

"Looking for this?"

He whipped around, guard instantly going up. Sakkon was leaning against the door frame. In one hand, he had the scalpel; in the other, he had several pieces of computer paper with pictures printed on them. "Er—"

"Sakura told me," Sakkon said calmly, "what Orochimaru-sama said."

Ukon blinked, feeling like a deer caught in head lights. "Uh—"

"I wanna show you something," his twin said, going over to sit on Ukon's bed. Ukon followed, still a little bewildered an embarrassed. Sakkon put down the papers and leaned over, rolling up the leg of his baggy black jeans.

Ukon's jaw dropped; cuts peppered the skin around Sakkon's knee, lower thigh, and upper-shin. They looked pretty old, to his relief, but it didn't stop the fact that they were there.

"When did you—"

"When you went off to 'military camp'," Sakkon answered promptly. "You weren't that easy for Orochimaru-sama to hide. You yelled a lot. And you talked to yourself, too."

"…" Ukon remembered that pretty well—the times when he talked to his other personalities out loud, and they would talk back.

"But this got me off it," the younger added, picking up the pack of papers and showing the older.

Ukon took them, looking at the pictures. They showed peoples' arms, legs, necks, backs, even their faces—all covered in deep, penetrating cuts, some of which looked infected. One picture even showed a woman who had cut an entire strip of skin off her forearm. The captions all showed testimonies from the people in the pictures, saying that they had done it to get rid of emotional pain. There was also a scan of someone's diary, where the person in question rambled on and on about how they wanted their life to end because of their parents, or something; the entire bottom of the page was covered in blood.

"It's gross, man," Sakkon said, after a few moments of silence during which Ukon starred at the pictures. "And dangerous. If you wanted a way to let it out, why didn't you try talking to me?"

"Oh, like you're one to talk?" Ukon countered, gesturing to Sakkon's leg. "You do it yourself!"

"Which is why I'm the best one to talk to about it!" Sakkon threw back.

"Don't act all high and mighty and call something you yourself did, dangerous!"

"It wasn't my fault, if you were here, I would have told you!"

"I was here the whole time! You just didn't try to talk to me!"

"Yes, I did! I wanted to talk to you, but Orochimaru-sama always caught me! And even if I did get to talk, you never answered!"

"You couldn't have wanted to that much, or you would have kept trying! I was in there for two months!"

"I know, ok! And I was really worried about you! None of us really knew what was going on!"

"Well, you didn't try and find out, now, did you!"

"Yes, I did! I asked Orochimaru-sama a million times, but he always said you were at military camp!"

"If you knew it wasn't true, you didn't tell him!"

"I was scared, ok! I didn't know what he would do!"

"So you were more worried about yourself! You don't know what it felt like to be in that room, all alone, for two whole fuckin' months! You have no idea!"

"No, I don't, because you never told me!"

"Why should I tell you! You didn't care enough to even try and get me out of there!"

"Shut up!" Sakkon shouted, lunging at Ukon, tackling him off the bed and onto the floor. They rolled around, punching everything they could reach of the other, knocking into the desk, chair, bed, dresser, and everything else, screaming insults at each other.

Finally, Sakkon somehow slammed Ukon's face into the floor, putting his knee against the older twin's back and holding him there. "You're too fuckin' retard to realize how worried everyone was about you!" he screamed. "You don't care about anyone but yourself! It isn't my fault you never answered when I called you! It isn't my fault Yamiko broke up with you! It isn't my fault Orochimaru-sama picked you for his scapegoat! It isn't my fault that I couldn't do anything about it! I was nine years old! It's your fault for not standing up to him! You're strong! You could kick his ass, but you never did! Are you scared! The big brother I know isn't scared of anything!"

Ukon stopped struggling, looking up at his brother from the corner of his eye; Sakkon had a bloody nose, and a busted lip, the blood from which was dripping down onto Ukon's hair and face. Ukon looked away again, so that Sakkon could wipe his eyes dry, before speaking.

"I was scared," he said quietly. "I was scared that, if I stood up to him, he would kick us both out. He threatened to, before. I promised Mom I would take care of you for her, so I couldn't let us get kicked out."

"We're old enough to take care of ourselves now," Sakkon muttered, getting up off Ukon. "We can live by ourselves now."

Ukon starred up at him; the thought had never occurred to him.

"Sakura," Sakkon called in the general direction of his room. "It's safe."

Ukon's jaw dropped as Sakura stepped out of the bathroom, hands behind her back. "You were there the whole time?"

She nodded slightly. "After you ran off, I went and got Sakkon and told him what happened."

"You two—the whole time, you—the whole time!" he ended in a different tone. (Angry-Ukon strikes again)

"Yeah," Sakkon said, as if this were painfully obvious.

A few minutes later, after Ukonhad force-fed Sakkon arnica, and Sakura had bandaged them both up, Sakkon got online on Ukon's computer and showed him a few sites about cutting.

"'The forms and severity of self-injury can vary, although the most commonly seen behavior is cutting, burning, and head-banging'," Sakkon read aloud, scrolling down the page. "'Other forms of self-injurious behavior include carving, biting, scratching, branding, bruising, hitting, marking, burning/abrasions, and picking/pulling skin and hair. Studies have suggested that when people who self-injure get emotionally overwhelmed, an act of self-harm brings their levels of psychological and physiological tension and arousal back to a bearable baseline level almost immediately. In other words, they feel a strong uncomfortable emotion, don't know how to handle it (indeed, often do not have a name for it), and know that hurting themselves will reduce the emotional discomfort extremely quickly. They may still feel bad (or not), but they don't have that panicky jittery trapped feeling; it's a calm bad feeling.'"

"What's 'branding'?" Sakura asked from where she was sitting on Ukon's lap on the floor next to the desk.

"It's like in old western shows where they heat a piece of iron with a family name on it or whatever and press it against a cow," Sakkon answered. "It's probably really painful, I mean, those cows never sit still, do they?"

"What about 'marking'?"

"Not sure," Sakkon answered. "I think it means, you doodling on yourself and make yourself get skin cancer."

"What else does it say?" Ukon asked.

"It says 'One factor common to most people who self-injure, whether they were abused or not, is invalidation. They were taught at any early age that their interpretations of and feelings about the things around them were bad and wrong. They learned that certain feelings weren't allowed. In abusive homes, they may have been severely punished for expressing certain thoughts and feelings. At the same time, they had no good role models for coping. You can't learn to cope effectively with distress unless you grow up around people who are coping effectively with distress. Although a history of abuse is common about self-injurers, not everyone who self-injures was abused. Sometimes invalidation and lack of role models for coping are enough, especially if the person's brain chemistry has already primed them for choosing this sort of coping'," Sakkon read (somehow) in one breath. "That explains a lot…" he said thoughtfully, scratching his chin.

"How?" Sakura asked curiously.

"Well, in this one book I read in eleventh grade, called Confederate Son," Sakkon said, swindling the chair around to face them, "the main character, Cameron, had this dad who hit him a lot, and sexually abused him, and brought other really young boys home and beat them to death, but Cameron honestly felt that his dad was doing this to discipline him, and since he didn't know any other treatment or methods of discipline, he thought that was the only way to go. So," Sakkon said thoughtfully, "because Ukon had been in that room for so long, and had been treated like that for so long, I guess maybe he subconsciously felt that when he got overly-anxious about something, it was a bad thing and that by hurting himself he could punish himself. I highly doubt those exact thoughts went through your head," he added to Ukon as an after-thought.

Ukon shook his head. "Not really. I mean, yeah, I did cut when I was anxious, or over-whelmed, and stuff, but I didn't think about the punishment part." He closed his eyes, leaning back against the bed. "But I want to stop. I was desperate back there. I hadn't thought about that stuff in so long, and it all just came back all at once. But I really do want to stop."

"They have self-help stuff that you can do," Sakkon said, pointing to the website. "There's also a questionnaire thing that helps guys who have been sexually abused."

Ukon looked up. "How'd you know?"

"The guidance counselor in fifth grade asked me," Sakkon said simply. "She wanted to know if I was having the same thing, since we were twins."

"…And…?"

Sakkon looked slightly mortified. "I said no, of course."

"Oh." Ukon looked a little relieved.

"Anyway, here." Sakkon got up, gesturing to the computer. "Take the questionnaire thing. It's supposed to make you feel better."

Ukon gave in, and Sakura got up to sit on the bed next to Sakkon while Ukon sat at the computer and looked over the questionnaire.

"This is bullshit," he said, after reading the first few questions.

"Just do it," Sakkon ordered. "People said it works."

Ukon sighed, copy/pasting the questionnaire into a Word Document and filling in his answers.

1. Describe a possession of high value to you (i.e., a piece of jewelry, a family heirloom, a lock of hair).

Mom's locket

2. Write down your most closely guarded secret. It could be something you may have shared with a trusted friend, therapist, or spiritual counselor.

My personalities

3. Write down your favorite physical characteristic, such as the shine of your hair, the health of your body, the tone of your skin, or the sparkle of your smile.

Hair color (it's natural)

4. Write down the name of a person with whom you share a fulfilling and intimate relationship.

Sakura

Now, go to the end of this article on page 7, to "Exercise," and follow the instructions.

Do not read ahead.

This exercise likely elicited feelings that approximate the shame, anxiety, fear, and self-loathing that male survivors of sexual trauma experience daily. As a facilitator for survivor support groups in Farmington, Maine, I work with many men who have been deeply traumatized by sexual abuse. In these groups, I help men address these feelings in a world that doesn't give males permission to do what is essential to recovery—feel and express emotions.

(Page 7—exercise)

1. Look at the answer you gave for your most valued possession. Let yourself fully understand and feel why this is important to you. Now, imagine that, through no fault of your own, this possession has been taken away and is no longer yours. Tear the answer from the sheet of paper and rip it to shreds.

2. Look at (or think about) your secret. Now, carefully tear this piece from the sheet of paper, imagine you are reading this as a front-page headline in your local newspaper today. Destroy the piece in any manner you wish.

3. Tear off the piece of paper identifying your most pleasing physical characteristic. Erase, cross out or smudge your answer. Imagine your pleasing characteristic being compromised, losing its appeal, changing shape, or losing luster—whatever would take away your pleasure in it.

4. Crumple your most valued relationship and throw it into a waste receptacle. This relationship is over. The person is no longer in your life.

5. Think about how you are feeling now. Go back to the point in the article where you left off and continue reading.

Sakkon and Sakura were a little surprised when Ukon started ripping off strips of paper and ripping the strips into tiny pieces, but they didn't press, and he went on reading.

About and hour and a half later, he finished reading, and turned in the chair to look at them. There was a long silence, in which they waited expectantly and he just starred at them. Then he grinned. "I feel lucky," he told him cheerfully, before closing the program and getting up.


WARNING!

Orochimaru's methods of "discipline" are considered abusive and wrong. If you or anyone you know are being treated this way, contact your local police department. The punishment for child abuse involves prison time, possibly a life-sentence.

Ukon's split personality disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder, is a very real mental disorder often caused by emotional trauma. It is very possible for Dissociative Identity Disorder to occur in normal teen-agers who don't want to deal with their emotions, as well. Many teens (and other people) often have no idea that they have this disorder. If you suspect that you or anyone around you has Dissociative Identity Disorder, contact your school guidance counselor, parent or therapist. For more information, search online.

REFERENCES USED:

A Child Called "It" by Dave Pelzer—A self-told true story about a boy who was abused by his mother for most of his childhood. The references used to this book are true, and should never be used against another person (i.e., cold water treatment, calling another person "It"). This book is not fiction, and should be taken seriously if read.

Confederate Son, (I forgot the authoress' name)—A book about a young boy named Cameron whose father is abusive, both physically and sexually. Again, this book is not to be taken lightly if read, although it is fiction.

If you read these books and have any questions, please contact either me or my sister, or a parent, and we will try and help you.