Embodiment of Perfection
Disclaimer: I don't own any part of Naruto, the manga, anime, associated merchandise and whatnot.
A/N: I posted this chapter before some odd months ago, but took it down due to the lack of direction that I had for a plot. However, this idea has refused to leave my mind, and gradually I built upon it until I came up with a…unique…storyline. At least taking the idea in a direction that I've never seen done before. Besides Orochimaru is such a fun character to write for, so devious, evil, selfish, heartless and manipulative. And for some reason, characterizing him seems to come real easy for me…but don't read too much into that. :P
Anyways, I made a few alterations, especially near the end of this chapter, where I decided to go for a different theme. Hope you enjoy it!
Oh, and one last note. This story takes place in between the timeskip.
In an undisclosed location, hidden from all outsiders, at the end of winding stairs which led into a dark dungeon-like laboratory filled with shelves upon shelves of chemicals, two lit candles lay atop a wooden desk. Long tattered scrolls rolled off of its corners as an onlooker with piercing yellow eyes scanned through the contents. His closed his eyes in frustration as he came with the mind wrenching, yet undeniable conclusion.
It would never work…
Two years, he had invested almost two painstaking years into his most prized and valuable project and it was all for naught. His perfect container wasn't as perfect as he had once believed, and although he was one to meticulously plan everything beforehand, he was well aware that there was always the possibility of unforeseeable outcomes. Nothing ever followed precisely according to ones desires.
Orochimaru's prime objective was to compile and acquire all of the jutsu's in the world, which in turn would lead to him becoming the ultimate being. But this was far easier said than done, for as much as Orochimaru seemed to act as though everything played out to his advantage, he traversed through his fair share of obstacles. A fact that would be overlooked by most was the sheer abundance of complexities involved in obtaining all existing jutsu's. Knowing and understanding a jutsu was completely different from actually performing a jutsu.
While in the process of paving the way to fulfill his aspirations, he too encountered several setbacks—the most prominent being the discovery he had just made moments ago.
Time always posed the largest dilemma, and in terms of his high ambitions, it served to be a great hindrance, always limiting his options. His synthetic immortality was merely a weak consolation of his small victory against the omnipresent passage of time. All of his careful scrupulous planning, waiting patiently for years in hiding, emerging at the right time, cautiously baiting Sasuke, luring him with promises of helping him fulfill his vengeance, deploying the Sound Four…
Now it wasn't Sasuke in general that was the problem. On the contrary, he was living standards that Orochimaru had set for him. The boy had come a long way since his initial arrival nearly two years ago, the difference between his skills now compared to back then indisputably proved that Sasuke was a genius in his own right, still it would be years before he came even close to Itachi's level, or Orochimaru's for that matter.
Always carefully observing and documenting, Orochimaru had been compiling notes and reassessing his theories on the Sharingan now that he had granted the opportunity the development of the Sharingan up close. By cleverly disguising a series of tests as training routines, he had been able to fill in the various blanks from his previously inadequate research on the Sharingan.
Though Sasuke may have proved to be a brilliant investment, unfortunately Orochimaru's expectations for the capabilities of the Sharingan had been set too high and the more he learned about the bloodline limit, the more disappointed he became. The mighty Sharingan was not as all powerful as he had once believed; much of it had been heavily exaggerated and romanticized, especially since the near eradication of the Uchiha clan. Martyrdom always led the creation of wonderfully hyperbolic legends and tall tales which only spread and grew even more embellished as there was no Uchiha had been left to correct any false claims. Bloodline limits were particularly tedious to deal with, even the Sharingan was unable to copy another bloodline limit, and was only limited to techniques.
Sasuke had only been a child at the time, and perhaps this subtle and silent hero worship from nearly everyone in the village that had led to the inflation of his ego.
The Sharingan allowed its users to possess the remarkable ability to perfectly copy any ninjutsu, taijutsu, and genjutsu with total accuracy after witnessing them only once. By utilizing the copying power of the Sharingan, the time it would take for Orochimaru to master jutsu's would be exponentially decreased. Learning and mastering jutsu's—especially forbidden jutsu's—were exceptionally time consuming, but with the Sharingan, he would be able to get many of them down quickly.
In his years in Konoha, Orochimaru had of course heard tales of the Uchiha's, and had seen many of them back then, though he paid little attention to them, more focused and concerned with his own training during that time period. His views changed during the great Shinobi Wars, the mindless random deaths of all those around him, the realization of how truly fragile the human body was, the intense desire to survive at any cost…the intense desire to avoid death…
Countless bodies had lain sprawled around him, cold and dead, cut down in their prime, but he wasn't one of them. He was one of the few that had lived, he was still a child and yet he had lived when experienced adult Shinobi had collapsed around him. He had cheated death, but it was only temporary, eventually it would catch up with him, an enemy that Orochimaru could not defeat no matter what. There was only one thing for certain in this world, only one thing that had a hundred percent chance of occurring no matter what, the one absolute truth, and that was death. The one enemy he had truly hated and feared the most.
That had been what he had believed long ago…but things had changed.
While amongst the ranks of Akatsuki, Orochimaru had observed Itachi with avid fascination, and although he had been partnered with Sasori, there had been many joint missions back then where the pairs would team up. He had witnessed the Uchiha prodigy's phenomenal skill firsthand, and it was what originally spurred his desire to obtain the powers of the Sharingan. Of course, it had been incredibly difficult for him to accept the harsh but true realization that he would never be able to possess Itachi's power—at least not in the literal sense, which is what he wanted.
He thought he had met his kindred spirits in Akatsuki, people that shared his own views, but this had turned out to be a grave misconception on his part. It seemed that their Great Leader had an agenda of his own, and shoved it down their throats whenever he deemed necessary. Their Great Leader had wanted them to pledge loyalty to his cause, but this served to be a conflict of interest for Orochimaru. There was only one person Orochimaru was loyal to and that was himself. Everything he did was for his gain; he was content with helping others as long as it profited him in the end as well.
Eventually, the result had been Orochimaru defecting from Akatsuki. Once he was free to pursue his individual goals, he had set his sights on another Uchiha, the only other Uchiha left in existence. He had succeeded in obtaining the other Uchiha and was so very close to the time in which he would be able to change bodies.
Time was pitted against Orochimaru…and so far it was winning. His former allies in Akatsuki were out for his blood, they'd close in on him soon enough and he had no buffer in the way to protect him. Orochimaru had staved off their previous attempt on his life, figuring out that Kabuto was originally sent as a spy under the orders of Sasori. This ultimately ended up being a tremendous folly on Akatsuki's part since Orochimaru had turn the table's right back at them, converting Kabuto to his most loyal and devout follower. Even Kabuto and Sasuke would prove to be of little use in defense against the likes of the criminal organization.
Orochimaru had to admit that he nestled a bad habit of disposing of his followers in rather large proportions. At times, he actually felt the tiniest tinge of regret for sending Kimimaro to his death in order to obtain his new container. Kimimaro had been the perfect servant really, obeying all orders without question, loyalty that knew no bounds, even when he had fallen prey to that horrible illness…if it hadn't been for the damn illness…
Orochimaru seethed, not because the death of his subordinate bothered him, but because he had lost such valuable container—such a valuable item. But he would have to get past it. He knew that failures were an inevitable part of life. Nothing was perfect, least of all himself, but that was what he wanted to achieve in the end perfection—both physical and mental.
He'd created the jutsu that kept his mind immortal, but once he received the perfect body, he had absolutely no intention of letting it go to waste by allowing it to do something so utterly useless and unnecessary as getting old and dying…like Sarutobi had.
The Third Hokage had once been unparalleled, second to only the Forth, but that was a long time ago, back when he was in his prime, before he had…aged. It didn't matter anyway, Sarutobi was dead, killed by none other than the one pupil who he had put the most hope and faith in. Did this mean that Orochimaru suffered from any guilt for killing the person who had taught him so much? Not at all, the old man was on his way to the grave anyway, Orochimaru had merely helped him get their quicker, in a way he had done his former teacher a favor.
Orochimaru smirked. Even when Sarutobi had the perfect chance to kill Orochimaru in the past (which he could have done, although Orochimaru would've put up a fight before going down), Sarutobi had foolishly allowed him to live, harboring a hopeless wish that perhaps given some time to think, his student would see the error of the dark path he had taken. He'd had Orochimaru in his clutches let him go, a bitter mistake, and a weakness that Orochimaru, fortunately, did not possess in the slightest.
During their battle atop the roof in the Konoha invasion, Sarutobi had kept saying that he pitied Orochimaru, acting as though he knew some big secret that Orochimaru could never figure out. In the end, it was nothing more than the useless ideal that the people in the village were connected as family and that it was the Hokage's duty to protect them with his life…so on and so forth…but Orochimaru hadn't been paying much attention, being far too preoccupied with the final blow that the conniving old bastard had struck on the Snake Sannin just before his death.
His arms had been rendered useless, and with them, his ability to perform seals.
Had he inhabited a more reliable container, such a thing would've never happened in the first place. The kunoichi's body was decent, but still far too weak by his standards, and he'd barely managed to take on the Third Hokage one on one, thus resorting to calling the First and the Second with the Edo-Tensei summoning jutsu, another technique of his own invention.
It was these types of disastrous life and death situations in which the vast knowledge of forbidden jutsu's that Orochimaru had accumulated came in handy. Until he had the perfect container, until he could come up with a technique that would grant the human body immortality, he would have to rely heavily on his jutsu's rather than raw physical power.
Switching to a new container was much more than an annoyance, his life was on the line each and every time. Last time, he almost hadn't made it, his desire for Sasuke as his container clouding his judgment. Fortunately for him, Kabuto had found him substitute, Gen'yumaru, the poor soul had been forced into a brawl with all the other prisoners and was the only one left standing at the end, the blood of the people he had lived for years with in the underground prison.
Orochimaru did not care nor sympathize in the slightest. He had never honored Gen'yumaru's final request to free his clan either.
More and more, it seemed that each new container seemed more disappointing than the last, and although Orochimaru didn't age, at the rate this was going, he'd be better off if he simply used the age reversal technique like Tsunade. However, Orochimaru had learned that the technique came with a nasty side effect—it shortened the lifespan of the person who applied it to themselves. This had thrown the option completely out the window, after all, it made absolutely no sense since Orochimaru's goal was to lengthen his lifespan, not shorten it like what his foolish former teammate had done to herself.
Tsunade would be dead soon enough and all because she was so vain that she couldn't stand the sight of looking at herself with wrinkles and sagging skin.
However Orochimaru would be hypocritical if he said that he cared nothing about his physical appearance. He loved the way he looked, his glowing yellow eyes which resembled that of a snake's, his luxurious jet black hair that flowed down past his shoulders, his flawless pale, almost translucent, skin that covered the toned lithe muscles underneath, he even wore earrings to accentuate his gorgeous ears which were oftentimes hidden under his hair much to his dismay. Orochimaru would always change his appearance back to his former self when he acquired a new container, and although he'd be lying if he said that it wasn't partially out of vanity, it was mainly to maintain his identity. He wanted people to know and fear that Orochimaru lived on—a timeless godlike being that changed his appearance at will, not because of age.
Orochimaru aged only mentally, not physically and aging mentally brought knowledge and wisdom while aging physically brought, pain, weakness and decay.
But once he attained the perfect container, then perhaps he wouldn't change his appearance…but that was a decision he would save when the time came.
Deciding to take a short recess from his never ending work, Orochimaru left his laboratory, descending down a stone spiral staircase where he was greeting with the sight of a waiting Kabuto.
"How did your scouting of Konoha proceed, Kabuto?"
"From what I was able to gather, Jiraiya-sama and Naruto-kun have not yet returned to Konoha...I still haven't been locate where they've been training though," Kabuto lowered his head apologetically.
A reminiscent expression graced Orochimaru's features. "Jiraiya can be clever when he wants be." He quickly drew out of his reverie and went on to more pressing matters. "On your way here, did you happen to pass by Sasuke-kun by any chance?"
The narrowing of Kabuto's eyes was a surefire indication that he had. "I don't know why you put up with him, Orochimaru-sama, the boy is incredibly mouthy."
Orochimaru smirked. So there must have been a verbal altercation between the two as well. That was nothing new, except that Sasuke now had the muscle to back up his words, a fact that seemed to irritate Kabuto to no end.
"Patience, Kabuto, patience," Orochimaru advised his subordinate. "It is for the greater good," he couldn't help but grin at his choice of words.
With Kabuto's report concluded, Orochimaru dismissed him and continued downwards, all traces of light disappearing as he went underground, to the lowest part of the dungeon, his thoughts returning to his recent discovery.
No doubt about it, the Sharingan was exceptionally powerful, but it still had its imperfections, it still had its flaws, it still had its weaknesses. Like a double edged sword, even the Mangekyo Sharingan, perhaps the most formidable Sharingan ability had adverse effects on its user. The gradual decrease of the eyesight was not something Orochimaru was willing to compromise, not for his perfect container. What he needed was something that would provide him with extended vision to help balance out the damage that was caused by the Mankegyo Sharingan.
No immediate solution was available. This was a tricky task because a bloodline limit couldn't be manipulated simply by techniques or jutsu's. This was pure biology and genetics, a venture Orochimaru had partaken in long ago, sparked from when he had learned of Tsunade's lineage. He had always wondered how Tsunade was the grandchild of the First, yet had not inherited any the Mokuton abilities. This initially led to a hypothesis and he set out to test out his theory.
Using sixty infant children as his test subjects, he had attempted to artificially pass down the First Hokage's Mokuton bloodline limit. If the children had taken the traits, it would have proven to be a remarkable container. Unfortunately, to the best of his knowledge, none of them had survived, thus ultimately proving the experiment to be a failure---no, not failure, unsuccessful.
There was no such thing as a failed experiment in Orochimaru's eyes. With each failed experiment, he learned a great deal of valuable information from his mistakes and the knowledge gained would unquestionably be helpful in his future endeavors. Science was nothing more then the complicated and tedious process of trial and error.
Besides, in order to become the ultimate being, he would have to learn all existing justu and how would he possibly achieve that if some jutsu's could only be accessed through bloodline limits. This would be the ultimate experiment and would be a huge leap forward in his progression toward his ultimate goal. Clans that held special techniques were far different then those who held bloodline techniques. It was quite true that almost all clans possessed specialized techniques that were hidden and kept secret among the members of the clan and passed down through the generations. They could be learned by outsiders, and Orochimaru had acquired or as the clans would have put it, stolen a great deal amount of jutsu's and techniques already.
A bloodline limit was a hereditary genetic trait passed down from parent to child. Orochimaru's research had consistently shown that bloodline limits tended to be recessive traits, meaning that if an individual possessing a genetic bloodline limit mated with one who didn't, the chances of their offspring actually inheriting the bloodline limit was only a meager twenty five percent. On the other hand, if both parents possessed a bloodline limit, then the chances of the child inheriting the bloodline limit was a staggering one hundred percent; however, activating said ability depended solely on the development of the child.
Other variants, such as the scenario of the bloodline limits between the parents differing, resulted in one of three outcomes. The child would either inherit the father's bloodline limit only, or the child would inherit the mother's bloodline limit only. Determining which one would be ultimately passed down to the offspring was impossible, the best anyone could do was give predictions, but it was through educated guesswork and held no accuracy.
Those were the two of the three possible outcomes.
The third outcome was the rarest of all, and it was when absently pondering through possibilities that he had come up with an idea, an idea so cynical, so devious, so manipulative, so…absurd, that if he pulled it off, it would solve his worries for good.
Occurring when the child inherited characteristics of the bloodline limits from both the mother and the father, then there arose a possibility of the birth of a hybrid, and thus the creation of a new and more powerful bloodline altogether. In theory the potential of a hybrid's capabilities could possibly be doubled utilizing strengths from both sides, and he still hadn't taken into account the possibilities of chakra development in such a unique body, but it definitely appeared promising.
However, before he could even think about any of that, there was a large obstacle that needed to be overcome first. In order for such a phenomenon as the birth of a hybrid to even be considered, there was a set of conditions that had to be met beforehand.
First off, the bloodline limits had to be compatible with one another. Many bloodline limits wouldn't mix simply because they differed far too greatly and would basically lead to the first two scenarios, meaning that the child would end up inheriting one of their parents bloodline limits.
Hypothetically, if it had been Kimimaro's Shikotsumyaku, it would be a lost cause since his bloodline limit manifested itself through the manipulating one's skeletal structure, and ability of unlimited bone growth. It shared no similarities with any other bloodlines. The same went for a clan from the Hidden Village of the Mist that had possessed the bloodline limit called Hyoton. Orochimaru might have seen one a long time ago, a child accompanying a shinobi with a large metal cleaver…he could not recall exactly as he had been preoccupied with acquiring Kimimaro at that time. Anyways this was beside the point since he was considering a completely different scenario.
If he were to attempt to fuse the Byakugan and Sharingan, the pieces seemed to fit together perfectly. In essence the Sharingan had originally evolved from the Byakugan, meaning that the two bloodline limits were already closely related and were basically analogous. Both of the bloodline limits, when activated, manifested themselves in the user's eyes. And although there was a chance that one bloodline limit might dominate over the other, in this case, Orochimaru was positive that this would not be the case between the Byakugan and the Sharingan…
Either way, he'd have to test his hypothesis to find out if it proved to be true or not, nothing could be ruled out since it hadn't been done before.
Orochimaru was confident that by mixing the Byakugan and Sharingan, they would cancel out each others weaknesses, and in turn, create the perfect container to him. But already the low probability of the actual conception of a hybrid, possible complications, and flaws were beginning to antagonize Orochimaru, yet he would have to cope for now and settle those matters later---or at least soon enough, he needed to start somewhere. Right now, he needed to focus on taking the first step towards setting things into motion.
He was now faced with two plausible options. He could either have a Hyuuga male breed with an Uchiha female, but this would be easily discarded since there were no female Uchiha's left and secondly, even if there had been an Uchiha female, Orochimaru already possessed Sasuke—an Uchiha male—so pursuing this would have been frivolous and unnecessarily tedious.
Ultimately there was only one alternative. An Uchiha male breeding with a Hyuuga female.
This plan, if it succeeded, could kill two birds with one stone, not only would he gain possession of Sasuke's body, but he would also have a container ready and waiting for him once Sasuke's body expired. A win-win situation for him. But only if he managed to convince Sasuke to breed before it was time for Orochimaru to change bodies. Otherwise, he would be stuck with his current host.
Orochimaru was slightly surprised that no one had bothered experimenting with this before, but then again, it was Konoha. It never happened simply because no Hyuuga and an Uchiha hadn't fallen in love with each other, and naturally they couldn't have it forced upon them. Ridiculous ideals such as peace and true love ran rampant through the village. It angered him that they overlooked so many amazing possibilities with their self righteous narrow mindedness.
Orochimaru was a scientist, he knew that sacrifices were necessary and just because they didn't bother him, that didn't make some cruel twisted demon, though he had to admit, he took great pleasure out of many of the experiments he conducted. Tsunade was skilled in the categories of medical science which dealt with healing. This did not concern Orochimaru very much, who was much more interested in the process of strengthening.
In order to progress, one needed to be willing to cross boundaries; Konoha's backward way of thinking would never lead to any sort of advancement. Wasn't it ironic that the forbidden jutsu's tended to be the most powerful ones? It fully served to further prove Orochimaru's point, one he had made to Sarutobi many times when he had made a bid for the position of Hokage. Unfortunately it had been in vain, talking to Sarutobi had been like talking to brick wall. Sarutobi's nickname 'The Professor' was ill used on him.
Orochimaru had paid little attention to the Hyuuga girl during the chunin exams, though her elder cousin had stood out to him on a number of occasions, and he had even briefly entertained the idea of using Hyuuga, Neji as a possible container, sensing the loathing in his heart that he held towards the head family. In the end, however, Neji's hidden resentment was dwarfed by that of Sasuke's, whose rage seemed to pour off of his very being. Regardless, all of this was irrelevant at the moment; his main focus right now was Hyuuga, Hinata.
Other than possessing the Byakugan bloodline limit, Orochimaru had been rather unimpressed by her performance, she showed little skill. She had plenty of inner turmoil, but it was not the kind that Orochimaru relished. There was no hatred within her, only the feelings of inferiority and inadequacy.
All in all, rather pathetic in Orochimaru's opinion, but she had potential. Enormous amounts of it. It had been two years, and although Orochimaru had not really kept tabs on her, she must have grown. Who knew how far her skills had advanced? Orochimaru was never one to underestimate—he knew firsthand that was a fatal error and meant the difference between life and death.
It would have to be Hinata because although she was still young, she had reached the proper child bearing age. Things would have been much simpler if Orochimaru could simply possess Sasuke and then take Hinata himself, but this method couldn't work due to one reason. Just like Sarutobi had exclaimed in horror whilst their final battle, Orochimaru was no longer a human, he could no longer reproduce and the same went for the containers once he had possessed them. His seed no longer aided in giving birth, it only brought death.
Besides, Orochimaru no longer possessed lust, at least not sexual lust—bloodlust was something entirely different.
Proving to be far too much of a distraction from his research, Orochimaru had eradicated instinct to procreate from himself a long time ago, though many could argue that he had barely harbored such human characteristics to begin with. But that was not to say he hadn't had any encounters…but unlike the lecherous half wit Jiraiya who had seemed to be insatiable, sex lost its appeal with Orochimaru very quickly, to dull, too monotonous (even when it was with more than one person). Still, as much as Orochimaru would have liked to claim that he'd completely purged himself of the sexual instinct, no one was perfect and there were still those rare times that he…
There was no denying that Orochimaru was a sensual being, his mannerisms practically dripped with it.
As Orochimaru entered the bottommost sector of the dungeon, even quiet and swift as he was, his presence was immediately detected. In the pitch darkness, the red glow of two floating orbs suddenly appeared. Sasuke had developed a preference to staying in the dark, his skin getting shades paler due to the limited exposure to sunlight. Not nearly as pale as Orochimaru, but enough to where he stepped into the light, his skin could compare to the color of the moon.
"How is you're training going, Sasuke-kun?" Orochimaru paused and waited for a reply.
"You bastard, are you mocking me? You haven't taught me anything new in weeks! Why'd you suddenly disappear all of a sudden?"
"I've been occupied with recent new developments in my research, they involved you."
"Have you discovered a new technique?"
Orochimaru maintained his evasiveness. "Not quite."
"Then what are you here for?"
"I came to talk."
Sasuke snorted in irritation.
Taking this as a sign that Sasuke was listening, Orochimaru proposed his inquiry. "Have you ever considered taking on a mate?"
"I've told you before," Sasuke replied impatiently. "I hold absolutely no feelings towards Sakura."
"I'm not referring to Sakura, she's useless, nor am I referring to Ino or those other weakling females who fawned over you. The one I'm referring to showed no interest in you at all, coming from noble blood that is truly worthy in the aide to restore the Uchiha clan. She is the one."
"Who are you talking about?"
"You know who I'm talking about."
"Stop playing games, Orochimaru!" It took a few moments, but it suddenly dawned to Sasuke. It wasn't too surprising that he hadn't immediately figured out who Orochimaru had been referring to since Sasuke had rarely given attention to her before. "Hinata?"
"I never said that, but she does fit the requirements."
Sasuke stayed silent.
Orochimaru knew the dangerous train of thought Sasuke was spiraling down and took the opportunity to once again start breaking down at his past attachments to Konoha.
"Do you honestly believe that someone as shallow as Sakura would wait for you? What, you don't believe that Naruto made his move the second he knew you had left for good? They forgot about you, they didn't even bother searching for you."
Sasuke gave him a scathing look.
Orochimaru simply smirked with amusement. "What I'm trying to tell you is that they didn't care about you, Sasuke-kun, you think that the boy with the nine-tails, Naruto, could relate to your pain, that pain of an orphan, of not having a family. But he has friends now," Orochimaru said the word with utter disdain. "They've all accepted him. Naruto has forgotten about you. After your departure the Uchiha's were forgotten. Do you remember how much prestige they once held in the city?"
"I don't care…"
"He was your only friend wasn't he? Other than that you were by yourself weren't you? Alone. Out of all your eleven fellow genin you never developed a friendship with any of them except for--"
"That's enough!" Sasuke roared. "I told you before, none of those past bonds affect me now!"
"You're saying it in plural; don't you just mean that one lone single bond?" Orochimaru purposely picked at that fact. He was going to force notion into Sasuke's head mercilessly, pound it into his skull---figuratively speaking of course. He was going to make Sasukebelieve that besides that one connection he had made, he had no other ties with anyone else. By doing so, Orochimaru will be right at the verge of turning Sasuke completely against Konoha. All that was left to do was manipulate Sasuke into denying that bond so intensely that should he ever meet his friend again, he would not hesitate to kill him---or try to at least. Orochimaru still needed Naruto alive. "Nobody else---"
"I said stop it already!" Sasuke's breathing came out erratic for a few moments, but he quickly calmed down, impassive again.
Even though all Orochimaru could see was Sasuke's eyes, they gave away more than his facial expressions or body language ever could. Despite his outward indifference, Orochimaru's words had hit Sasuke—hit him hard, as they always did, and Orochimaru did speak the truth…although some parts were exaggerated, but that was necessary. The important thing however was that Sasuke believed what Orochimaru said; every word of it, but the Snake Sannin could still sense the doubt clouding the boy's mind. Orochimaru frowned; the nine-tails brat had had more of an effect on Sasuke than he had anticipated. Orochimaru had so far succeeded in breaking all of his ties to Konoha, but Uzumaki Naruto somehow still influence Sasuke in spite of Orochimaru's best efforts.
"I did some research into Mangekyo Sharingan, taking the information for the requirements that you gave me as well as taking into account my own personal account with Itachi. I think I've found a way to stop it."
Sasuke's eyes began glowing dangerously. Whatever second thoughts the boy may have been struggling through moments before dropped instantly. It was the same reaction Sasuke had exhibited back when he realized that Naruto had begun to surpass him back in Konoha. Jealousy was a powerful emotion and its impact was even greater this time around.
"What, what is it? Tell me!"
And just like that, Sasuke anything pertaining to Konoha, to his past bonds, to his friend. It was like a switch on the Uchiha boy that Orochimaru on and off at will. Orochimaru had wanted to help build a wall between Sasuke and his initial ties with Konoha, but the boy practically broke the bonds out of his own accord. It was a shame that everyone in Konoha had so tremendously underestimated Sasuke's vengeance driven hatred guiding his life.
Sasuke was standing up now, his eyes glowing, waiting expectantly.
That was good, a well sought after improvement---envy: the need to know the weakness of the Mangekyo Sharingan, and jealousy: pretty much at any mention of Itachi---made Sasuke much more susceptible to be controlled.
"I'm fairly confident about it," Orochimaru smirked, having used the trump card he knew would tip the scales in his favor. "It could definitely work...perhaps." Orochimaru let the last word roll off his tongue.
Sasuke stepped toward him, a deep anger pulsating in his eyes. "Don't mess with me Orochimaru!"
Orochimaru did not bat so much as an eyelash. "Will you consider my proposal then?"
"You mean taking on a mate? What does that have to do with any of this?"
"Nothing and everything."
Sasuke head dropped in resignation, his voice bitter. "You're not going to tell me until I consider taking on a mate, are you?"
"You act as if I'm doing you a disservice, Sasuke, I'm the one looking out for you," Orochimaru looked mildly hurt, but then his lips twisted into a malicious smile. "Still, I expect that you should know how I work by now. Give and take Sasuke."
"How do I know that you're not lying about this just to get me to do what you want?"
"That's the beauty of it. You don't. You're just going to have to trust me," Orochimaru draped his hand over Sasuke's shoulder, swiveling next to him. "Tell me, have I led you astray before, are you going to deny me the credit for all that I have taught you? How I've mentored you, the techniques and skills I so graciously bestowed upon you?"
"You only did that because you're going to use me as your next container."
"Give and take Sasuke. If you want something, you have to be willing to pay the price for it."
Sasuke shrugged off Orochimaru's arm, snorting angrily.
"Fine, I'll give you a hint," Orochimaru began, pulling away. "First I want to confirm something from you. You told me that Itachi stated that in order to obtain the Mangekyo Sharingan, you had to murder your best friend, correct?"
"Meaning that they have to be dead, buried in the ground?"
"I suppose, he didn't elaborate," Sasuke's voice took a grudging tone and Orochimaru could see his eyes hardening. "I wasn't exactly in the right state of mind to ask him for specifics."
"But we do know this much," Orochimaru explained. "To obtain just the Sharingan, a person---an Uchiha---must undergo an incredible amount of distress, usually to the magnitude where they are facing a life or death situation. With the survival instinct kicked into overdrive, as a last resort to stay alive, the Sharingan will manifest itself in the user's eyes."
Sasuke nodded. "That's what happened to me during my mission at the wave country. An enemy surrounded me with a special ability and I couldn't escape. I was about to die. That was when I first activated my Sharingan," Sasuke's voice dropped to a whisper. "Naruto was with me…"
"What was that?" Orochimaru snapped, though he had heard perfectly.
"Nothing," Sasuke mumbled.
Orochimaru frowned. He had to shift the boy's attention back under his control again. "For the Mangekyo Sharingan, the most powerful level of the Sharingan, a person must go through an even greater amount of distress, a psychological trauma so severe that they are utterly overridden by guilt and possibly depression over the act they committed."
"You know," Sasuke began quietly, though obviously straining to keep his voice neutral. "I don't think it ever bothered Itachi at all. In fact, that was when he revealed his true self. Everything before that was just an act. He merely played the role of a brother, a son, a member of the Uchiha clan, but he despised it all from the beginning."
Orochimaru was honestly not so surprised by this. If there was one thing the Snake Sannin could say that he and Itachi had in common, it was their disgust for petty attachments with others. "Sasuke---I don't believe that you have to literally murder your best friend, you just go through the emotional distress that is equivalent to such the act of slaying someone precious to you."
The very antithesis of what Konoha's way of the ninja was: protect those precious to you at all costs, even your life.
"I pretty much figured out that much already," Sasuke said indignantly. "Don't you think I'd know this by now, I told you before that I wasn't going to obtain the Mangekyo Sharingan the way he did."
"The Mangekyo Sharingan is the most advanced stage of your bloodline's development. So what lies past it?"
"That's the highest," Sasuke replied, irritably. "There's nothing---"
"Exactly!" Orochimaru's pupils became wavering slits, his voice dripping with excitement. "After that---there's nothing, absolutely nothing at all."
"So what're you---"
"The way to cancel the Mangekyo Sharingan is very simple. You move simply move past it, you ascend again. You go to the next level."
"How…?" Sasuke trailed off.
"You undergo a distress even greater than murdering your closest and most precious friend."
Sasuke had to sit back down again as he struggled to come to terms with what Orochimaru had said.
"Are you telling me that if an Uchiha tries to push past the level of the Mangekyo Sharingan, they'll lose the Sharingan ability altogether?"
"The body has a limit Sasuke. You can only push it so far to an extreme before it cannot handle it anymore. It's the natural order of things. The human is such a fragile organism; we must constantly struggle to maintain a proper balance to keep our bodies functioning. Do too little and it will engorge and become obese, push to hard and it will collapse in on itself. Nobody, not even the Uchiha's are immune to the body's natural cycle. The Sharingan itself is nothing more than a physical characteristic. It too will eventually corrode just like your bones, muscles and everything else."
Orochimaru had executed his verbal assault perfectly. By mentioning the Mangekyo Sharingan, he had reminded Sasuke of the coveted ability the boy sought after, reminded Sasuke of the one person who had the ability…and reminded Sasuke of his goal—the reason why Sasuke had gone to Orochimaru in the first place: because Orochimaru could help him achieve his goal.
"One day, even Itachi will grow old and wither away, as will you. What will you have left then?"
Orochimaru grew silent and observed Sasuke, letting his words hang in the air. The Snake Sannin's mouth twisted into a satisfied grin when the red glow of Sasuke's Sharingan, which had glowed so brightly, slowly dulled before it faded away.
"That's right," Orochimaru cast the final barb. "You'll have absolutely nothing."
Sasuke had created an ultimatum from the beginning that he would obtain the Mangekyo Sharingan in his own way. It was an issue of pride. This was something that Sasuke felt he needed to discover on his own to prove that he was not the foolish little child Itachi always made him out to be—yet another reason why Orochimaru had found it so easy to get Sasuke under his control. He gave Sasuke enough freedom to where the boy progressed based off his own decisions, all the while remaining unaware that most of the choices he made ended up benefiting Orochimaru.
The keyword being most of the time—Sasuke had many rebellious tendencies which still made him quite a handful, and there had been those times where Orochimaru was forced to comply with the boy's demands.
Sasuke's gaze fell downward, shrouded in confusion and turmoil. Orochimaru knew the dire importance of guiding Sasuke out of these potentially dangerous misleading thoughts and back on track to his mission—their mission.
"I am the only person who understands your goals, Sasuke-kun, the rest of them in Konoha, they believe you to be a traitor, but I understand. Just because you think differently then they do, they'll refer to you as the deserter---they just don't seem to understand that your personal goals don't fit the ideals of Konoha and because of that you decided to leave. You just want to be left alone to pursue your goal. You know what the problem with Konoha is, if you don't accept their outlook on life, they consider you a criminal. They're prejudiced, ignorant creatures, lost in their obsession with noble values."
"Don't be a suck up. None of what you said concerns me in the slightest. I told you before, I'm going to get the Mangekyo Sharingan my way, you wouldn't understand, you're not an Uchiha."
Orochimaru remained unfazed by Sasuke's brash words; he'd learned long ago that they were nothing more than the boy covering up of his insecurities. "Let's be honest after you kill Itachi, you will surely die in the process. The Uchiha clan will become extinct; do you want that to happen? You have a responsibility to ensure the survival of the Uchiha's and undo what your brother did. While Itachi tried to destroy the Uchiha legacy, you will be the one to resurrect them, it is your duty."
"Don't try to act like you know me, I have only one goal and that's to kill---to murder him…to inflict the pain he inflicted on me, my parents, my clan. I live to avenge for what the atrocities he committed in the past, I couldn't care less about the future—unless it involves the death of that bastard."
The killer intent from Sasuke was pouring off of him in waves, his Sharingan spurring up again. Orochimaru waited a few minutes for Sasuke's anger to subside, which it did, although only ever so slightly.
Orochimaru turned away, casting one final glance back at his disciple. "I'm merely offering you a suggestion Sasuke…you are my chosen one after all." Just like Anko once was, just like Kimimaro once was.
The boy had a one track mindset, both a gift and a curse. A curse because convincing Sasuke to turn his attention to Hinata would be a tedious if not near impossible task, but on the flipside…
Sasuke had entered the stage in his life where his body was experiencing many…changes. The boy was confused, and all of the girls that he had found so easily to push away before were now seeming to come back to him, he saw them in a new light due to his awakened hormones. Sasuke's mind was always focused, obsessed with only one thing. Killing Itachi was what he lived for. But his body had its own agenda too, and regardless of how deep rooted his desire for vengeance was, when it came to instinctual desires, the mind and rationality would always come second. In the end, a person's body would always betray them, the impulses of the flesh were too strong to ignore.
Hunger. Thirst. Fatigue. Pain. Pleasure. Lust.
Was it any wonder why Orochimaru could not stay in any one body for too long? Even before the three year cycle came to an end, he tended to grow disgusted with his containers. He needed, deserved, craved for a body perfect enough to coincide with the perfection of his mind and soul. The Uchiha's were too flawed for him to consider anymore.
And he was not going to settle for anything less than perfection.
Orochimaru decided it was best to leave the boy to his thoughts and made his way back to the upper levels. He would let Sasuke dwell on it for a while, he'd already planted the seed, and it would sprout and grow. All Orochimaru needed to do was sit back and wait, and allow time to come in and take its effect. For once, time would be an ally. Sasuke would eventually come back to him, just like he had two year ago. All Orochimaru had to do was lay out the necessary bait to keep him lured and let Sasuke do the rest, allowing the boy to think that he was in control. Orochimaru had all the time in the world; he wasn't going to die anytime soon, that being unless he wasn't discovered by his multitudes of enemies before then.
Like he'd told Sarutobi when using the windmill as a metaphor, chaos is what kept the world turning. There was no progression in times of peace, it bread laziness and it wasn't...entertaining.
While Sasuke brooded over it, Orochimaru ventured of to begin preparations for the chain of events he would set off which would inevitably lead Team Eight towards them. He had about a week before it was time for them to rotate to their next undisclosed location.
It would be near Grass Country this time.
End Of Chapter One
A/N: There was a lot of narrative in this chapter and may have come off as a slow beginning, but I wanted to set up the premise clearly. This is Orochimaru's goal we're talking about after all. For him to even consider giving up on taking Sasuke as a container, proper justifications must be provided, especially for someone who thinks years ahead like he does. I found Orochimaru to be one of the most fascinating characters, a perfect villain, but I hated the way he was reduced to nothing more than an Uchiha-desiring perversion after the time skip. His persona was completely ruined and became the stereotypical 'bad guy'. His original characterization as a misunderstood genius was completely shot.
But onto the actual story itself. As seen in this chapter, there is inherently darker tone to it, but I don't plan on doing anything explicit. While this chapter was obviously Orochimaru-centric, I do plan on following the perspectives of other characters as well. The pace will definitely pick up from here. As this chapter hinted, Naruto will have a greater role later on in the story, but it's a secret for now. Still, I've always been curious about how Sasuke's jealousy of Naruto's improvements spurred him to make a lot of unwise choices, namely defecting over to the Sound. Later on, we'll see that same jealousy flare up again, especially once he witnesses the special technique that Naruto was told by Jiraiya never to use. For someone who always tries to come off so confident and sure of himself, Sasuke is really insecure.
Once the story develops, things won't play out the way they're supposed to and I've got more than a few plot twists planned along the way. Hopefully they'll be unexpected. :)
Any thoughts, ideas, comments and criticisms are most welcome and appreciated. Also, if there are any continuity errors, grammar, spelling or any other such mistakes, please let me know and I'll correct them as soon as possible. The next chapter should be up soon enough, I've almost completed it.