Author's Note: I've gotten one or two reviews about this, so I thought I might clarify something. This ficlet was written before the chapter where we see Itachi and Orochimaru's final confrontation. In canon, Itachi cut off Orochimaru's left hand. Here, Orochimaru's right arm is lost. The coincidence is interesting, but coincidental is all it is. Even if I do think it's cool that it is so easily read as the aftermath of that incident.

Before Sasori, Orochimaru hadn't known there was anyone in the world who could actually force him to examine his own boundaries. Before Sasori, Orochimaru hadn't known he had any at all.

It was almost as disturbing as finding out that facing the prospect of living one of his childhood nightmares overrode so much of his distaste for what his partner had done to himself.

What had led to this moment was this: he had been careless. He had been careless and overconfident, and it had cost him dearly. Orochimaru still couldn't look at the stump where his right arm had been just hours ago without feeling nauseous. It was difficult to be objective about the situation when he couldn't forget even for a moment that he was the one sitting on their makeshift laboratory's examination table as Sasori, frowning, plucked clinically at a loose nerve end trailing out of what remained of his arm. It was painful, in a distant sort of way that meant he had probably lost more blood than he'd originally thought, but not nearly as much as the realization that a one-armed shinobi was effectively worth nothing. All but the simplest genjutsu and ninjutsu were beyond him now, his skill at taijutsu halved at best.

Which was the only reason he was considering this at all. Sasori had taught him the basics of puppetry as a courtesy during the second year of their partnership, and while Orochimaru had found it interesting in the same way he found all obscure shinobi disciplines, he hadn't actually thought he would ever be using it on a regular basis.

"You will get used to it."

Orochimaru narrowed his eyes at his partner and resisted the urge to hiss at the dead, empty thing grasped in the puppeteer's hands. "Do you even remember what it was like to have an organic body?"

Sasori shrugged, his face remaining stiff and expressionless. Of course. The former Sand-nin had to make an effort to appear more than superficially alive, and rarely bothered when it was just him and Orochimaru, as it was now. "Inefficient. Poorly designed." He held up the puppet arm for Orochimaru's inspection. "You are not completely untalented at my art. This will work better for you."

Orochimaru doubted it. Even if Sasori's skill at puppetry was such that Orochimaru could channel his chakra through his replacement arm, there would be no tactile sensation. Far removed from himself, less of an extension of self than a simple tool, however well-designed.

Still, better this than to remain a cripple. And it wouldn't—it wouldn't—be forever. Sasori might have been first in coming up with his own unique brand of immortality, but Orochimaru refused to believe that the only way to stave off death was to make yourself less than a corpse. He would find another way. But… he glanced again at the ruin of his arm. Until then...

"Fine. Do it."