Written for the 20truths ljcomm.

20 Facts About Yakushi Kabuto That Nobody Else Knows

1. Kabuto does not like the way his name sounds when Orochimaru says it.

2. In Otogakure, Kabuto wakes early enough to watch the sunrise. The pre-dawn air is still, and sharp with cold. Sometimes, if Kabuto is not nearly awake yet, he finds himself thinking of Konoha.

3. This is the clearest memory Kabuto has of the battlefield where he was found: observing a dying man's heart beat sluggishly beneath torn muscle and shattered ribs, the bones surprisingly white against the dirty red of flesh.

4. Perhaps because of that, he was a bit surprised when he dissected a dead man for the first time. Despite all the textbook diagrams he had seen, the clean orderliness that lay beneath the skin was still more than he had expected: the layers of muscle, smooth and whole, the unbroken curves of the ribs, and the heart nestled between the lungs, almost peaceful in its stillness.

5. Kabuto's favourite plant is aconite, torikabuto; he likes its deadliness, its practicality, the fact that it can be both a poison and an antidote.

6. Kabuto realised these things during Sasuke's first days at Otogakure: Sasuke is not a morning person; Kabuto's words are, in fact, sharp and subtle enough to slide beneath skin and provoke a reaction; there is something pleasing about watching Sasuke struggle with his muteness, watching the rising anger in those dark eyes and the quickening pulse at the base of his jaw.

7. Kabuto does not enjoy death, exactly. But he does find something fascinating about the moment when life leaves the body. He realised this when he was seven, watching a snake die in his back garden.

8. At ten, when Kabuto finally graduated from the academy, his parents brought him out to dinner as a celebration. The attention made Kabuto feel uncomfortable for the first time in his life as a Yakushi; throughout the whole evening, he could not shake the feeling that he was wearing someone else's skin.

9. Kabuto's dislike for raw meat has nothing to do with his medical training. He finds the taste of it too strong and unsubtle, unmediated by other flavourings. That's all.

10. Kabuto sees perfectly well without his glasses.

11. He can come up with many reasons for why he wears them. They help his image as a bookish, harmless student who will never be more than mediocre; they suggest a weakness that he does not actually have; they give a measure of protection to his eyes, as long as he doesn't let them break. All of these reasons are plausible. None of them is the most important one.

12. After every mission, Kabuto is very, very careful about washing the blood out from under his fingernails.

13. Kabuto's handwriting is well-meaning but awkward, and mostly illegible; his teachers in the academy often left gentle but firm notes to him in the margin of his worksheets. Yet when he is careless, he ends up writing in an elegant, flowing script, and has to start over.

14. His parents bought Kabuto a pet songbird when he was eight. They were wrong about why he locked himself in his room for hours on end when it died. It was nothing as trivial as grief; he had wanted to examine the musculature of its wings, its delicate bones.

15. Kabuto does not like looking into mirrors.

16. He still knows the lines and planes of his own face well enough to lend his likeness to a corpse. Practising expressions -- deference, good-natured embarrassment, a knowing sempai-smile -- does not require a mirror, either. It is merely a matter of knowing which muscles to use.

17. It was not so much that Kabuto was poisoning Kimimaro; it was nothing as inelegant as that. He prefers to think of what he did as experimentation, a study in how to keep someone alive without allowing their condition to improve -- and without anyone else noticing.

18. On the last morning of his life in the Yakushi family, Kabuto helped to set the table for breakfast, and did the washing-up afterwards. It was something like thanks, and almost an apology.

19. That is one fact he does not admit to himself.

20. In his dreams, he has no name. It doesn't matter if he wakes up in his own room in the Yakushi residence, with the morning sun warm on his pillow and the light scent of tatami in the air, or in Otogakure where the walls whisper with age -- there is always that first numbing moment when he is not sure who he is.