All In The Name Of A One-Sided Love
"Uchiha-san wants you and Ino to be present at the ritual," Kabuto informed Sakura, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. Sakura desperately wanted to have a conversation like they used to have, to talk to him like they used to. Or, even, just to sit with him and read books all day long—the feeling she got from just being near him when he read was comforting, as if nothing bad could ever happen to her.
"I… see," Sakura finished, stalling for time. She knew that, once Kabuto told her all she needed to know, he'd leave. The longer it took her to acknowledge what he said, the longer he would stay.
"It will take a long time to complete, and if you ever feel tired, then just leave. I'll understand," Kabuto said. His tone gave off that he was about to leave, and Sakura needed to stop that.
"Wait!" she cried out, just as Kabuto's hand touched the door. He turned back to her, somewhat surprised that she had called out for him, but listened patiently to whatever she had to say. "How is Takara-san?" she asked finally, the question coming out of her without Sakura's realization.
"Oh, I hadn't realized you'd even heard about that. She's fine—she'll be carrying out missions for us in a matter of days," Kabuto explained, waiting to see if there was anything else. He did have all day to listen to her requests, after all.
"And Ino… san?" Sakura was unfamiliar with using the 'san' with Ino's name—especially since they were really closer than everyone thought.
"She's in the same state that you are."
Sakura wanted to laugh, to say that there was no possible way that Ino could possibly be in the same state she was in. She simply nodded, however.
"What sort of ritual is it going to be?" Sakura asked, not really caring to know, but really, she had to keep him there with some sort of conversation.
"It will be a complex one. Compared to the ones Orochimaru usually uses, it's kind of surprising how complicated it will be. I guess he doesn't want to take any chances—after all, while this may not be his last body, it will be his favorite."
"How painful will it be?"
"For Sasuke or Orochimaru?"
Sakura almost said 'Piss on Orochimaru', but her logic and reasoning prevented that. "Sasuke," she answered back, as if the answer had been obvious.
"Very," Kabuto said with a small nod.
"I see. Thanks," she muttered, finally dismissing Kabuto to arrange the preparations.
Sakura and Ino stood, side-by-side, staring through a glass at the place where the ritual would be held. To one side of the room was a large metal machine, which Kabuto was currently pressing buttons into. It had thousands of levers and buttons, a keypad, and bulbs, which flashed with electricity. This machine, according to Kabuto, would be what generated the chakra into the pattern on the floor.
The pattern on the floor was a strange sort of double-pentagram. Sakura thought about it, and really, all you would have to do to draw it is draw a pentagram, and then draw another on top of it. At the tip of each pentagram was a small circle; one that Sakura assumed was used to collect chakra. In the middle of the pattern was a wooden table, which was lifted only a foot above the floor. The scariest thing about the entire ritual, however, was that connected to the wooden table were four shackles—one in each corner of the rectangular table.
"It looks like something out of a witchcraft movie," Ino commented suddenly, her tone unimpressed. She felt no connection to Sasuke, other than that he was the brother of the person who had raped her, and that he was the one who saved her. Due to that, she felt indebted to him—and that was why she was still there. Other than that feeling of obligation towards Sasuke, she felt no connection to him whatsoever.
"Don't worry. We aren't sacrificing virgins," Kabuto said from inside the glassed room, his tone somewhat amused.
'Of course he's amused,' Sakura thought, 'He disliked Sasuke immensely. Why wouldn't he be glad to get rid of him? Besides, his master is happy, now...'
At that moment, Sasuke and Orochimaru walked into the room. Sasuke was only wearing a pair of loose-fitting, dark blue shorts. His bear, pale chest shone in the moonlight from outside, and Sakura nearly gagged. She still hadn't quite worked out how she felt towards Sasuke—on one hand, it was a hatred that ran so deep it almost burned. On the other, he was a dear teammate that had lost his way. For the longest time, it had been the latter, but in recent times, she had realized that none of Sasuke remained from back then. Even so, she still felt connected to him, in a way that only the ones who created the idea of four unit teams (including the Jonin sensei) could explain.
Sasuke sat down on the table and scooted backwards, before lying out on the table. Orochimaru walked around the table, shackling each appendage with precise ease. Sasuke stared straight up, as if the ceiling was to be his fate. Sakura analyzed him from behind the glass, feigning indifference. She tried finding any signs of sadness, remorse, or despair, but she found none. She also did not find any signs that he was happy to be giving up his body. He seemed empty, somehow, as if his soul was gone.
But, then again, that made sense. Ever since he was seven, his driving purpose for living had been to kill his brother. And now that he had succeeded in doing just that, he had nothing left to live for. Even the secondary goal of having a family was fulfilled, as Sakura and Ino were both pregnant.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, Sasuke turned to her. He gave her a clear message in just that one look—he didn't care. Sakura's eyes floated to the floor, unable to hold her gaze against the scrutinizing staring of Sasuke. She felt a single tear run down her cheek. She looked back up when she heard the thunk of large levers being flipped. The generator began crackling electricity.
Orochimaru leaned down on the ground. In the two points across from Sasuke's left and right leg, Orochimaru placed his hands. As if willing the chakra forward, Orochimaru allowed his own chakra to continuously surge through the double pentagram on the floor. The pentagram glowed a light blue, the color normal chakra materialized in when a large amount of it was gathered in one place.
Sasuke screamed out in pain, a sudden layer of sweat appearing on his chest and face. He was pulled against the shackles, the metal rings cutting deeply into his ankles and wrists. His body thudded against the table and arched forward, automatically attempting to escape the pain.
Simultaneously, Orochimaru groaned and fell limply to the ground. Soon, Sasuke stopped moving, and fell limp against the table. His eyes were still open, but they were glazed over, as if he was dead.
And then, suddenly, light returned to his eyes. 'Sasuke' smirked proudly, flexing his fingers before falling unconscious.
The two of them had a routine. Not one that Sakura could say she personally enjoyed, but a routine. Instead of sending Kabuto to check in on her, Orochimaru went himself. And, of course, he couldn't be bothered with using a genjutsu to look like his old self—oh, no, he'd rather parade around looking like Sasuke.
"Sakura-chan," he'd drawled out as he entered the medicine-making room.
"Don't call me that," Sakura would hiss chidingly, as if she was talking to a younger boy. Her tone gave off no form of respect whatsoever, unlike before Sakura had her memories.
"Oh, okay, then. Sakura-san?" 'Only Lee calls me that. Besides, he can't use my first name. I won't allow it,' she'd think.
"Never," she'd grumble maliciously.
"Haruno-chan?" Sakura sent a bone-chilling glare his way. He was unaffected by it, but continued with the last name, the one he knew she wished to be called, anyways. "Haruno-san?"
"That's fine," she'd reply, as if nothing he had said before was bothering her. Truly, pregnant hormones were amazing.
"Well, I just came to check on you, Haruno-san. I do not wish for harm to come to you."
"To me or the baby?"
"To both, of course. Both are important to me," he'd explain, his voice, tone, and actions giving nothing off except for the cryptic message he had given her. And then, he left.
Then, one day, the routine changed.
"Haruno-san," he began, automatically using the real name. Sakura turned to him in slight surprise, but listened obediently—for now. "I have some news," he continued unnecessarily. "You are officially three months pregnant, and Kabuto is going to give you your first sonogram today… Also, when you have the child, he shall be christened Ryuzaki. And you won't be personally watching the child, Ino-chan will be," he finished.
"I don't get to choose the name?" she said, through gritted teeth.
"Sasuke-kun picked it before…" and then he motioned to himself. 'Bastard,' she thought to herself as he did so, as if he had the right to speak of Sasuke in such a manner.
"And what will Ino's child be named?" Sakura asked after a moment of silence.
"Why did he pick those names?" Sakura's voice had an edge to it, and Orochimaru wanted to get out of there quickly. But the way to keep her the most calm was to tell her everything she wanted to know. Not that that was always possible, but that was the best way to keep her calm.
"Because the Uchiha have a tradition of choosing the names from a chart made decades ago. It has a list of members and when they should be named what. For instance, it goes Itachi, Sasuke, Ryuzaki, Hideki…" Orochimaru trailed off, knowing Sakura understood.
"So, he picked traditional Uchiha names?"
Orochimaru nodded in response.
"Go away," she commanded, her tone betraying the fact that he voice cracked in the middle of the word away. Orochimaru simply nodded, a small smirk present on his face, before he exited the room, glancing back only once at her as she stood there, still holding the knife used to cut a root, the knife stiff in her hands.
As soon as she heard the distinctive sound of the door sliding shut, the sound of the stone grinding against stone, all reason left her. She gripped the knife even tighter, before flinging it across the room, bending the metal against the hard stonewall. She flipped the table over, ignoring the fact that a few completed and an almost completed medicine were in jars upon the wooden surface. She flung off the apron she was wearing and threw it on the floor roughly.
She stopped. As if the life inside her was protesting, she had felt the unmistakable tremor of activity from just behind her stomach. She sunk to the floor, her knees scraping gently across the rough texture, and sobbed. She had no reason to continue living. The man she had once loved was basically dead. The man she had grown to love didn't remember anything. Her best friend didn't recognize her. Back at her home, she only had the hospital.
She felt the despair wash over her, eroding her very soul like the waves beating mercilessly against the face of a cliff. Sure, it started out with a tough exterior—but with every hit, with every motion the waves made against the cliff, it crumbled, at least a little bit. Eventually, even if it may have took hundreds of years, that cliff will crumble and erode away into nothingness.
That cliff was Sakura, and those waves were Orochimaru.