Naruto has done it now. He's stepped over the line. What happens now, whatever happens... all of it will be Naruto's fault.

There are many ways Sasuke could respond to this.

He could snap at Naruto for waking him up so rudely. He could insult Naruto for any number of things.. starting with, perhaps, Naruto's stupid face, his wide guileless blue eyes. He could grab sharingan-hold of Sakura, for that matter, start on her instead. It would take maybe three or four words to reduce her to tears. To push Naruto into feral screaming. To end this conversation before it even begins, because Sasuke just doesn't have the energy for it.

That, too, is a tactic. Being too tired. Having no patience.

Everything is a tactic. Sasuke is locked into his Orochimaru-reflexes now. Of course these two from their sunny bucolic village will never understand. Orochimaru, in fact, is probably less than a heartbeat away. Sasuke can feel him breathing stale air down his neck. He can feel Kabuto's glass four-eyes on him, Kabuto's patient smirk. He will get teased mercilessly about this by Kabuto, and he knows it, and he is not a morning person. He has no patience.

So what holds him still is fascination.

Or maybe, the intoxicating sense that Naruto and Sakura see him, his own reflection in their pale distant upturned faces. They see his sword, and they see his clothing. Do they see that he no longer scowls and pouts like a stupid and angry child? Do they see? They see. They believe.

And that makes Sasuke feel omnipotent, in a warm, slow rush. They believe in his china-doll facade, his painted-on samurai affectation. Just look at the crushed, slow shriveling of hope in Sakura's eyes.. so bright and clear, Sasuke can see it from a hundred feet away. He can see it flickering out like a candle flame, held long in vigil. And he feels strong, hard... so above them. So far above them. So superior, like he really is a god, something divine that they chase forever, but can never touch.

Of course, this is all absolute horseshit.

What he is, is a lesser child, a wretched orphan. The dregs of a bloodied clan house. Orochimaru's plaything. Ah, but do they know that? No.. Sasuke controls their reality. He sees that. He doesn't even have to use his sharingan, he sees.

And they're wide open for him. They don't even see him coming.

He wonders if Naruto is just going to stand there and let his fool head be carved off. Would that make Naruto feel some.. some fucking sense of moral superiority? Ah- but Sasuke has learned to tamp down the force of his temper. It howls behind his perfect kabuki mask, unheard.. and all he does is smile, laugh... Naruto just stands there, rooted to the spot, like he wants this.

Why have you come? Sasuke wants to ask him. Does ask him, in a manner of speaking.. his words are a bit different. It's a taunt, a tactic.. but he is curious. Did they come to admire how far above he is now, how far beyond their tedious little provincial village? Ah- but no, they can't see anything he doesn't want to show them.

And soon he will carve these soft parts with their soft feelings out of himself. He'll be clean and pure. Right now... right now.. he can't stop looking at his perfect reflection in Naruto's eyes. He can't take his eyes off it, off Naruto. He had to get this close to him, feel the warmth of Naruto's body, feel the hard contrast against his own serene perfection. Naruto's messy, sloppy hope and determination beaming out of his stupid face and out of his heart chakra, spilling nine tails energy.. ah- yes, Sasuke can see. He has to go as deep as he can, press his cold hand against the nub of Naruto's beast nose. Feel how different they are.. how much better Sasuke is now.. so much higher. Naruto doesn't even feel it coming. Sasuke can't stop, he's in love with this, with the way they see him.

This being the only sort of love that matters, the love of power.

And, really, Sasuke tries not to think too hard about it. Thought destroys the purity of action. Orochimaru does the thinking now. And maybe if Sasuke just pounds these ideas into himself a bit harder, and never stops, he'll really believe them.

If nothing else, his wishes have all come true.

So he could say, what do you have to offer me now? I don't need you. A tactic...Naruto and his endless chasing, the broken pieces of friendship in his hands. Sasuke never asked him to come this far. In fact, Sasuke told him to walk away, to forget, to just go on with his happy life, become Hokage... and this would be so much better if Sasuke could just lose the goddamned guilt, the sense that he's ruining Naruto's life along with his own.

Sakura, he imagines, has made her own decisions, but if this wild chase into the heart of Orochimaru's lair isn't Naruto's stupid idea... this is all Naruto. This is Naruto's choice. Sasuke never asked for this.

So the guilt will die, he'll suffocate it slowly, the way he stuffed his old Konoha-morality into the dark places underfoot. All of his old feelings lie buried now. Maybe if he kills Naruto here, maybe if he really does it...

And maybe it's just a rush of sweet power, the thrill of actually going that far, of really being the emotionless killer. Right now it's just a fantasy in Sasuke's head, an illusion in the eyes of one stupid old almost-friend.. an idiot who doesn't know when to quit.. same old Naruto.

Ah- but if he really did it, it would be real.

He could take this feeling, this omnipotence, and make it real.. it would be better than the mangekyo sharingan, it would be perfect in it's symmetry. Naruto can't succeed, Naruto says, unless he's interfered with Sasuke's life, wrenched him away from Orochimaru. Maybe Sasuke can't succeed until he's taken Naruto's fool life... and what a beautiful, monumentally tragicomic and stupid and colossally over the top life it is. What a magnificent sacrifice. Sasuke can imagine bathing his hands in the hot arterial spray of Naruto's blood, Naruto's heart pushing and emptying into the side of his face, spilling over his shoulders, running down his body, soaking the stupid samurai-clothes, the stupid affectation.. making it pure and right and real. He would come out of it doused in Naruto's blood, baptized. And you couldn't say that Naruto hadn't asked for it, begged for it.. coming here. Naruto set them into these battle lines, this is all Naruto's fault.

Naruto deserves it.

So Sasuke talks to the kyuubi instead, to show his contempt. To flaunt his superiority, he taunts Naruto.. no time for tactics now, because Naruto is just a whiny child standing in the hot breath of a monster.

To think that Naruto would be nothing, less than nothing, without this demon-blood bubbling through his veins. He would be less than Sasuke is, for that matter.. and Sasuke is pleased now, happy in this confrontation. All of his wishes are coming true, here's Naruto's strength splayed open for him, revealed and nothing more than a demon, Naruto as nothing more than it's faulty flesh prison.

Ah. But.

It will take time to deny, destroy, completely dismantle the force of Naruto's passion. Naruto is a fool. Konoha is weak. All that Sasuke was taught as a child, all of that is shackles, and he is strong, he doesn't need such things. He doesn't need these worthless people, weaklings... friends. Ah, but friends.. a strange word, when what they are is locked into a calculus of power. All relationships are an exchange of power.

And Sasuke is in control. Naruto's love and life, everything Naruto is has been placed into Sasuke's hands. Naruto's love, the bond, his determination gives Sasuke absolute power over him. Sasuke can abuse him any way he likes. He can hurt him, push him... in fact, that's the way their bond works, now. It's a bond of pain. Naruto reaches for Sasuke, Sasuke hurts him. Naruto keeps reaching.. and Sasuke twists the blade just a bit deeper, wondering if maybe... maybe Naruto will give up, maybe Naruto has limits to just how much he can take. And then feels the absolute security of knowing that Naruto will never give up. Sasuke can hurt him as much as he likes. Naruto is his to hurt forever.

Or kill, should the fancy strike him, in point of fact.

Orochimaru has put the world into hard clarity for him. People say they have a limit, that there's a point where they just can't take any more, that they'll give up. But Naruto is not like this. Naruto has no limit. Naruto will take it.. and take it and take it and take it, forever. Naruto is Sasuke's punching bag, his pincushion, his torn out heart to carve out and stomp on, again and again. Like a god with the helpless love of the damned,... he doesn't have to kill Naruto. He doesn't have to force Naruto to do anything, Naruto will just spill his heartblood for him, forever.. as far as Sasuke wants to push. This is how Orochimaru operates.. and Sasuke has learned well.

Because life is a calculus of power, he thinks, as his eyes fall closed at the feel of Naruto's hot breath on his skin. All bonds are of pain.. and someday it will be true. Naruto will make it true for him. Naruto has no hard limit, Naruto can be hurt forever. Naruto will never leave him. Sasuke can live, breathe, endure anything at Orochimaru's hand if he just has this one little scrap of divinity, this one stupid little life in his hands.. his best friend, forever. Forever.

Of course Sasuke won't kill Naruto. He needs him.