Sloppy Job

AN: I really, really like this one. I have this strange fascination with Anko/Orochimaru interaction. Enjoy!

Sometimes, on those rare days when it snows in Konoha, she remembers.

Not visions of the past, because it's never anything substantial, but the quieter things. A ghost will start teasing with a faint brush on her cheek, or long fingers tracing the curve of her shoulder.

When does an unrelenting memory become a reoccurring nightmare?

There's breath on her neck and pale lips that come so dangerously close to her ear that they just might be touching, though she doesn't know whether she wants them to be or not.

"You know how I hate the cold Anko-chan."

The words resonate through her bones in the form of a shiver and every time, she swears she won't be able to forget his voice again. She tries to decide what day that was, or even what yearhis mouth came so close to her skin. But the moment of sentience slips from her grasp in an instant and the memories are once again as far gone as her mind.

She can feel them, smothered by the blanket of nothing that is her memory of four fucking years of her life. The answers, they're there. She can feel them pulse somewhere within the dark recesses of the inane web that remains of her consciousness.

That's the worst part; that even if he erased her memory, she can't ever forget him.

"Sloppy job," Ibiki commented once.

For the first few months, they seemed to think locking her up with the guy for an hour a week would do something to bring back her memory. Or maybe they were being kind and this is the shinobi version of therapy. Just replace the psychiatrist with an interrogator and the secretary with heavily armed ANBU guards.

Either way, it didn't really work.

Those days were the worst, because she'd wake up each morning with an aching neck and the tightening in her stomach of pure terror from a memory she only had in her sleep. The moment the chills stopped and the tingling feeling faded from the bruise, she'd fight to remember the nightmare, or anything more of the mark on her neck. Shit, she hated losing a fight.

Then she'd have to face Ibiki and his monotonous, "Do you remember anything new?"

No, she didn't. So they didn't need to keep asking. He would grimace and proceed to ask her a thousand more questions on the memory she didn't have anymore.

Yes, the mark on her neck was still there.

No, she didn't know Orochimaru-sama's plans.

Yes, she was loyal to Konoha.

No, she wasn't lying.

Yes, she could still hear his voice sometimes.

"Sloppy job," he would say every time.

If he really thought that, he was an idiot. Orochimaru didn't do "sloppy jobs", ever. She told him that once, earning a long stare.

"How do you know that if you can't remember?"

And then Anko had to spend the rest of the hour convincing him that she wasn't hiding any knowledge from him.

So after that, she kept her thoughts to herself and answered his questions with the shortest answers possible, remaining just short of uncooperative. She was honest though, if only because Ibiki would be able to tell otherwise. Of course, she told a few half-truths, namely when the questions concerned her level of affections toward her former teacher, or the content of the memories that still remained.

"Do you love him?"

How could she say anything to those cold, emotionless eyes? Ibiki was watching her face, no doubt catching the tiny furrowing of her eyebrows and the frantic movement of her eyes. She calmed herself with an effort, slowing her heart rate to a normal pace and forcing her body still.

"No," and it was not a lie, for Anko did not know whether she loved him or not anymore. It was more a mix of hate, anger, fear, and an unexplainable affection.

"Did you love him?"

Now it took considerable effort to stop herself from instinctively chewing her lip. She wasn't nervous about admitting it to herself, but hiding a lie from Ibiki was as difficult as hiding Icha Icha from Kakashi.


Ibiki was staring at her, eyes neither angry nor mocking, but holding a horrible amount of pity. Anko refused to meet his eyes any longer, turning in the seat in a bored, aloof manner, so she was facing sideways, her arm draping over the back.

In that same manner of pity, Ibiki said nothing more.

Anko left the interrogation building that day with an angry set to her mouth, blinking with surprise as a cold, wet flake settled on her lower lip.

She closed her eyes in shame and thought of Orochimaru's cold, wet kiss.