Written for Lyko on livejournal. Was supposed to be a drabble, but it kind of got out of hand. WHOOPS.

Ripples
Cephied Variable

One of the first things Sasuke learns in Sound Village is that Kabuto is more dangerous than Orochimaru.

Kabuto hides behind disarming smiles and a benign, pleasant nature. There is no particular malice in his words, but they cut to the bone as sharply and percisely as any of his medical instruments. Kabuto is a doctor, a scientist. He pokes and prods and says things for the sake of saying them just to see the way Sasuke's face will contort and his fists will curl and his shoulders will shake. Like throwing a rock in a lake to see the ripples, only Kabuto calculates the radius and frequency of each ring with lightning fast accuracy and an eerily calm, half smirk on his face. As a healer, he has decoded all the secrets of the human body; all that's left now is mapping the human mind.

Sasuke is reminded of the games Neji plays with his Byakugan, only Kabuto is much better at them.

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"Why don't you have a curse seal?" he asks finally, holding his bleeding arm and watching the pale medical nin mix powders and herbs into a disinfectant paste.

"Orochimaru is not a complex man." Kabuto begins conversationally, ignoring the question, "What you need to understand is that he was an isolated child. I'm sure you, of all people, are familiar with the equation. Loneliness breeds bitterness; genius breeds madness." a pause, "That's how we know you're not a genius, Sasuke-kun. You're still sane."

"And what about you?" Sasuke spits, "What does that make you?"

Kabuto's lips twitch up at the edges and his pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose in a movement of calculated grace, "I'm exactly what I appear to be, Sasuke-kun, and I serve Orochimaru best the way I am. What would he possibly have to gain from giving me a curse seal?"

Sasuke realizes that the only person Orochimaru is more infatuated with than him, is Kabuto. Sasuke also realizes this isn't the sort of thing he should be jealous about.

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The next time he asks Kabuto a question, the taller ninja just smiles, tips his head slightly (white bangs falling across his forehead- he looks to young to be that ruthless) and kisses him.

Sasuke does his best to convince himself he doesn't enjoy it when Kabuto expertly dips his back and smirks into his lips, deft fingers ice cold as they dance across his stomach. His breath hitches and he tells himself: "a stone in the lake, a stone in the lake." Kabuto's just watching for the ripples in his heartbeat, in his breathing, in the way his entire body is reacting, coming alive piece by piece against his will. It's all a carefully crafted psychological manipulation which, Orochimaru has taught him, can be considered part of his training as well ("So always be on guard, Sasuke-kun."), but Sasuke doesn't understand how this could possibly make him strong. All it does is make his legs wobbly and all the wrong muscels tense up under Kabuto's gentle, doctor's touch.

He's almost (almost) disappointed when Kabuto pulls back and raises an eyebrow, staring down at him appraisingly, "Well," he muses thoughtfully, "That's interesting." there's snide laughter dancing in his tone and Sasuke tries to will away the flush in his face.