Disclaimer: Anko, Sasuke, Orochimaru and the whole Naruto universe belong to Masashi Kishimoto and whomever he chooses to license them to. I don't own anything. In other words: not mine.

Summary: Anko's thoughts after Sasuke leaves to join Orochimaru.

Authors Note: I don't write fanfiction. No really. I don't write at all, not if I can help it. I'm not a writer. I am, however, apparently crazy. My boyfriend happened to wonder aloud about this idea, and it just wouldn't leave me alone. Also, I figure that since I seem to be writing fanfics, even if I'm doing so unintentionally, I ought to write ones that aren't entirely awful. Please help me out with this by reviewing. If you like this fic, tell me what you liked. If you don't like it, tell me what rubs you the wrong way and why. Oh, and any grammar corrections or general advice on my writing style would be appreciated, 'cause, as previously mentioned, I'm not a writer.

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Ninja of Konoha
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It's started up again, the stares and whispers behind my back. Oh sure, people are polite enough to my face, but I notice how their eyes never quite meet mine. I'm not blind and besides, I'm a ninja, I was trained to look underneath the underneath, especially with shit like this. Not noticing is a good way to wind up dead. I already know what the villagers think of me, and they're not entirely wrong. I am a bitch. I'm crude and sort of fucked in the head and I like blood more than most people are comfortable with, but hey, when you spend your formative years being molded by a psycho, you have to expect some residual damage. It's not like the villagers ever really trusted me again after Orochimaru left, but it's been years since it's been this bad. Everyone seems to think I'm next on the list of people who will betray the village, and they're waiting for me to leave or go crazy... well, crazier, anyway, and it's all because that damn Uchiha brat got his head stuck too far up his ass.

They say he's a genius, but he seems pretty stupid to me. Oh sure, everybody knows his older brother slaughtered their whole clan, but that's doesn't excuse shit. He's not the only one who's lost someone. Hell, we live in a ninja village. The kids who make it to adulthood with two living parents are the exception, not the rule. A lot of kids don't make it to adulthood at all. If losing family was a good enough reason to leave Konoha, there'd be nobody left.

When I found out, I almost didn't believe it, but rumors like that don't spread unless they're true, not when passing them along is punishable as treason. Hearing about Orochimaru brought it all back, and I remembered, around the sudden hard knot in my stomach, what it was like to have him offer me everything and to want it, to want him so badly I could barely breathe. For a minute, I hated Uchiha Sasuke for taking my place, for being what Orochimaru wants now. But then I had to laugh and remind myself that that's not my style, not anymore, and betraying Konoha has never been my style.

The Uchiha kid is a moron. Sure, I can understand the lure, being drawn to Orochimaru. He's made an art of knowing exactly how to get under your skin, and he's damn near irresistible. You'd think, given my experience with the conniving bastard, that I would be the person best equipped to understand Uchiha Sasuke. And in some ways I do, I understand him perfectly, but the leaving - that I don't understand at all.

Let me tell you a little story about Orochimaru and me. See, I was raised on tales of the Legendary Three Ninja of Konoha. I found the adventures of the loud, blustering Jiraiya amusing and liked to hear about how Tsunade used her strength and beauty to win the day, but Orochimaru became my ideal. He was strong and brave; tall, dark and handsome; everything a ninja was supposed to be, and I, stupid little chit that I was, worshipped the ground he walked on. Later, when I met him and he actually agreed to teach me, to take me on as the very first, the only student to be worthy of him, I was terrified and proud and ecstatic all at once, and at that moment, life was perfect. And so Orochimaru became my hero, my sensei, and my most precious, trusted person. I was halfway in love before I ever set eyes on him, long before he used that tongue on me and taught me to blur the line between pleasure and pain.

I try not to think too much about his tongue. It brings back the dreams, dreams of long dark hair and bright eyes, where the smell of blood is in the air and pain and pleasure coil together, sharp and seamless. I don't sleep a lot these days, my neighbors complain if I wake up screaming too often. But that's really neither here nor there.

So, knowing my history with him, you can see that I had every reason in the world to go with Orochimaru when he left. I would have blindly, gladly followed him to hell, but that wasn't where he wanted to go. And even back then, young and stupid, blinded by love and lust and loyalty, I knew I couldn't go with him. I had been following Orochimaru, in one way or another for more than half my life, but I had been a Konoha ninja for even longer, and in that moment, the moment I really understood what he was planning, I knew it was over. That bastard may have made me ruthless and cruel and bloodthirsty, but he could not unmake who I was. The shinobi rule, the one they don't even bother to list because it is the very definition of a ninja, is about loyalty to your village above all else, and nothing, not the love and loyalty I felt for Orochimaru, not the threats and the pain that followed my refusal to comply, nothing could make me break that.

That's why the Uchiha brat is, at best, an idiot who's made the shittiest decision of his life. He, the genius ninja, is a traitor now. He betrayed his friends, his team, and his village into the hands of a man who means to destroy us all. There is no excuse for that. No need in the world large enough to justify it.

That's why the villagers can fuck off. They can stare and whisper all they want. I didn't leave then and I'm not leaving now. And the ones who need to know this already do. The people I care about trust me, they know me. I am a ninja of Konoha, and that will never change.