Chapter One—We Meet Again

The full moon shone bright in the sky, spreading its light like a blanket over the sleeping village of Konohagakure. A light summer breeze swept through the deserted and dark streets, carrying with it the sweet scent of far away places. The stars shined and gleamed against the black and cloudless sky. All was peaceful. All except…

Anko tossed and turned in her sleep. Her head pounded, as did her heart, and her Cursed Seal of Heaven was reacting to something while she slept. She always had nightmares about him, but tonight didn't seem like it was much of a nightmare. Sweat trickled down her neck and forehead and her hands grasped the sheets of her bed hard, some of them ripping from the force.

Eyes…Golden eyes…They followed her everywhere; lingered behind the curtains of her every thought; stalked her in the night; watched her sleep…

Fangs…Sharp fangs…They grinned at her failures; smirked at her mischievous antics; sunk into her flesh and caused her pain…

Blood…So much blood…The blood of her family; of her friends; of her enemies; spilling across the floor and ground, taking with it a life that once was…

A laugh…A malicious laugh…Laughing at her for being so pathetic and weak; for not being satisfactory; for being…useless…

Anko's eyes flew open and she sat bolt upright in her bed, still hearing his laugh ringing in her ears after all these years. She could see it all in her mind's eye. His haughty smirk, his ivory skin, his evil eyes, his demonic fangs, and the way he took pleasure in her pain. It was all there, for her to see, for it to haunt her…

She looked around her dark bedroom, searching for any hopeful sign that she was only dreaming again. This felt so much like one of her dreams. Her mark throbbed sharply; her heart raced erratically, her stomach muscles clenched. This had to be a dream. He couldn't be here…

She swung her legs over the edge of her bed and stood on jelly like legs. She walked to her small bathroom and absently wiped the sweat from her face and neck with a delightfully cool washrag. It did little help though. If he was coming for her, he would come, and she would sweat some more.

Anko left the bathroom and, not wanting to go back to bed, slipped on her shoes and left her apartment in her sleepwear—a big baggy black shirt and a short pair of black boxers.

The street outside was deserted and cool, blissful. The moonlight illuminated the unpaved street and the locked up shops lining the sides. Though, it made the shadows more dark and eerie than ever. And yet, she decided to stick to the shadows when she made her way down the ghostly street.

She didn't exactly know where she was going, but her feet were carrying her somewhere, and she didn't care. Her hand clutched her mark tightly against the throbbing pain that slightly increased with every step, but she couldn't stop walking.

After a few minutes, she turned into an alleyway in the less-used part of the village. There was a single door there, and it was boarded up tight. Her feet carried her to the door and she stared curiously at it. Her mark throbbed once, hard, and made her wince. This place had something to do with him…

She tugged at the boards with her free hand, the rotting wood cracking and splitting under her strength, until finally the bigger piece came off and gave her enough room to slip through.

She looked around the pitch black room. The only light was the moonlight that had come in through the hole with her. The shadows in this room were so intense that she thought for a moment that the room was painted black.

Anko made a few quick hand signs and soon held a small but bright glowing sphere in her palm, its warm light spreading through the dead shadows.

Shelves lined the two walls on either side of her, broken jars and vials scattered throughout the small crevices. A large desk in the center of the wall facing her had blood stained on the surface, and it was covered in debris. Papers lay all over the floor from what looked like a big gust of wind—or a giant surge of power…

Anko picked up a paper at her feet and examined it. It was blank. Upon closer examination, she discovered that all the papers were blank. Strange… She walked along the shelves, looking at the remnants of what used to be the contents of the shattered jars and vials. Some held old dirt, some had things that were all decayed or shriveled up, so she couldn't tell what they were.

She sighed a deep breath. Why did she come here? This obviously had something to do with him because her mark continued to stab her neck painfully, but she didn't know what…

A dark chuckle emitted from outside the door where she had come in.

Anko whirled around, recognizing that arrogant laugh, but saw nothing but the hole in the door. He was there…outside. She squeezed back through the hole and looked around, searching the rooftops and reaching out with her senses, trying to detect his unique chakra. She couldn't find it.

But he was there. She knew he was. She wasn't imagining things again. This wasn't one of her dreams. This was real, and he was here for some reason. And she was going to find him.

She ran out of the alleyway and stood in the dead center of the deserted street. Her mark was still painfully throbbing, and her hand clutched it even tighter, her fingernails drawing blood. Some of that blood was still on her fingers, and she figured out a way to find him.

She took her bloody hand off her neck, leaving her mark to throb, and then she called forth a Shadow Snake from her wrist. The snake willingly offered some venom to milk onto her hand, and then it retreated back into her wrist. Now, the blood and venom were coagulating together. She had no time to waste.

Anko raised her bloody hand to her mouth, murmured something against it, and then raised it up to the moon, letting it wash in the moonlight. She stood there like that for what seemed like forever to her ever-impatient growing nerves, but when she was satisfied, she lowered her hand and licked the blood and venom off her hand, not leaving a single drop behind.

There.

Almost immediately, she felt his masked chakra. It was carefully hidden, and that's why she couldn't sense it before, but now she knew exactly where he was. The Forest of Death.

Anko didn't waste any time in jumping away and across the rooftops toward her favourite place, which was probably now crawling with snakes, judging by the pattern his chakra was flowing in. She could tell that he was using some kind of jutsu…

But…what if she didn't want to see him again? If she entered that forest, would she come out alive? Was she stupid enough to walk right into the snake pit and be at the mercy of him?

No. She wasn't weak anymore. She was strong. She wouldn't let herself be overcome by her former sensei. After all, she knew what he was like. She had spent her entire agonizing childhood in his care. Even though the mark remained on her and still caused her pain, he didn't control her anymore. She was free, whether he liked it or not.

As she neared the Forest of Death, her mark began to get more and more painful, and by the time she was standing outside the fence that surrounded the forest, the mark was a dagger lodged in her neck. It was all she could do to even keep walking. But nonetheless, she didn't hesitate before she jumped the fence and ran towards where she still had a lock on his chakra.

Anko did notice that there were far more snakes in the forest than usual, and most of them were strangers. She had made friends with the snakes that lived there, and she could easily tell the difference between her snakes and…someone else's.

She stopped on a large tree branch, trying desperately not to make a sound of pain from the mark on her shoulder, 'cause God knows that he would be there to hear it. She found one of her snakes on a low hanging tree branch and held up her arm, letting it slither onto her.

"Where is he, little friend?" she asked it, trying to keep the pain out of her voice. The spot that she had locked onto had vanished, and now it was like trying to find something when you're blind.

The snake flicked its tongue out a few times and then hissed low and gently. Its head turned so that it looked like it was pointing towards the center of the forest.

"Thank you, little friend. Would you care to come with me?"

Anko leapt off the branch with the snake curled comfortably around her arm and neck. It seemed content, and Anko smiled.

A few minutes later, the girl landed on an immensely big branch where she was sure that he had been at one point or another. She sank to her knees and leaned back against the massive tree trunk. She threw her head back gently against the bark and fought so hard not to make a sound. She would not make a sound. She was stronger than that.

The snake raised its head off her shoulder and hissed defensively at the shadows at the end of the branch in warning. It was protecting its friend. Anko would have smiled had she not froze.

That dark chuckle came again. "Well, you sure know how to find me when you need to," said the seductive voice that sent a knife through the girl's ribcage.

That's when he stepped out of the shadows. His ivory skin glowed in the rare streams of moonlight. His golden and narrowed eyes held a malicious glee in seeing her in pain. His long black hair flowed carelessly down his back. His sadistic grin revealed the two pointed fangs that had caused Anko so much pain. He wore a black, long-sleeved turtleneck and matching black slacks. His swagger as he walked to her made him look positively…beautiful.

"Orochi…maru…" Anko choked out. Her breathing was becoming labored and it hurt to speak.

"Yes," he cooed. "Here I am. And I'm wondering why you came to look for me. You even made sure to use that risky jutsu I taught you."

She growled and slowly lifted her head from the bark. "I came…to find you…you bastard… You're a criminal… I've come to arrest you…" God, it hurt to speak.

"Arrest me? You can barely move let alone defeat me and drag me all the way to the ANBU prison," he pointed out arrogantly. "And so, that must not be the real reason you came here. I know you're smart enough to have figured out that you couldn't arrest me when I have to upper hand. So what was your real reason?"

Anko clenched her jaw shut tight. Damn him… He always figured everything out before anyone else had a chance of misleading him. She lowered her gaze to the bark of the tree branch just before his feet. "I…actually don't know why I came here…" she admitted, somewhat regretting ever letting her feet carry her away from the safety of her apartment. Though, her apartment might not have stayed safe for long.

"I see. Well, since you are here, and you look so beautiful when you're in pain, I think I'll have some…fun," Orochimaru sneered, his eyes narrowing in sadistic satisfaction.

The girl swallowed the lump in her throat. Stupid, stupid, stupid… she muttered in her head. How could I be so stupid? I should have never come here…

Orochimaru took a few steps toward her, and the snake on Anko's shoulders hissed loudly at him. He raised an eyebrow. "A friend of yours?"

Anko glared at him and then nodded. "Yes, and you will leave him alone." The snake slithered up to rest the front of its body on Anko's head and it glared at the man as well. Its tail wrapped protectively, yet gently, around her neck, the tip covering her heated and throbbing mark.

The man stared at the two on the branch before him, and then he chuckled. "You haven't changed one bit, Anko." He composed his face and the malicious smirk was gracing his lips once again. "That's one reason I'm going to enjoy this immensely…"

Anko swallowed again and looked up at the snake on her head. She reached up her hand and held it before the snake, which slithered onto it willingly. It coiled around her wrist and turned its head to face hers, a questioning look in its small and slit eyes. "You should go, little one," Anko said in a gentle yet pained voice. "I don't want you to get hurt…"

The snake stared at her for a moment, blinked once, and then lowered its head as if to say reluctantly, "Alright."

The girl stretched her arm out weakly to a branch at the right of her and let the snake slither onto it. It turned its head to look back at her somewhat sympathetically.

"Thanks for your help, my friend. Now go." Anko smiled at it and then turned her head back to face Orochimaru with a somber look on her features.

The little snake slithered away.

"Aw, how sweet of you to consider the little guy's safety," Orochimaru said sarcastically, waving one of his hands lazily in the air. His eyes narrowed again and he eyed the girl before him.

"Shut up, Orochimaru," she snapped weakly, all her strength almost completely drained because of the mark. She readied herself for the pain that she was sure was coming.

"Don't bark orders at me, my apprentice," he sneered. "You are the prey here. You have no room to tell the predator what to do." He stepped toward her again, now only about two yards from where she was sitting in a slouched position.

"You're no predator, sensei," she said, milking the title. "You're just an arrogant bully."

His eyes narrowed even more, but this time in annoyance. "Watch your tongue, girl," he hissed. His tone was poisonous. He was now about a yard from her. "Or I might just cut it out."

Anko glared at him, but shut her mouth, knowing that he was serious. Her eyes held hatred in large quantities. And all that hatred was aimed directly at him. She hated him with every fiber of her being. He left her for dead on a beach somewhere, never sparing her a second thought, and now he comes back just to torment her? How low can he stoop?

"Now, my dear Anko, what shall I do with you?" he asked, crouching before her and looking into her eyes, sadistic glee hanging in their depths. He reached out and grasped her chin in his slender and cold fingers. He turned her head so he could examine the curse mark. "It seems I'm already torturing you, so there's not a whole lot left to do…" he brought his eyes back to hers, "…except cause you even more pain…in more ways than one." He leaned his head in closer. "How about pain of the heart?"

Anko's eyes widened and she tried to pull away from him with the little strength she had left, but couldn't. He had a firm grip on her chin, and her head was already back against the tree trunk, so there wasn't much room to move.

"What's the matter? Scared?" the snake lord whispered, his breath on her face. He was about an inch from her now, so close that he was leaning against her knees. His hand braced against the tree to the right of her head, and his other was still holding her chin. He leaned in closer. "Or excited?"

The girl closed her eyes tightly so she wouldn't see him anymore. She couldn't look him in the eyes; she never could, never had. His eyes were the one thing in the world that would make her heart ache and her gut clench. So she never looked at them, and she damn near wasn't going to start now.

Without very much warning, he pressed his lips to hers so hard that her head was shoved back against the tree trunk even more. Her eyes flew open and she tried to pull away, but found that all her strength was completely gone. She was nothing but a living rag doll. Her eyes filled with tears and she closed them again, her heart crying at the realization that she could die. Her throat was closing from fear and sadness and she could still feel his lips on hers.

His teeth bit into her bottom lip and drew some blood. Then he ran his tongue along her lip, collecting the blood and pulled away to lick his lips. He stared at her, sadistically amused, and smirked. "You taste better than before, Anko," he purred.

Anko's mark was still throbbing painfully, and her lip was sore from the slight tear in the thin tissue, but she still did not whimper. She did not make a sound. That's what he wanted; nothing more than to hear her pain and smell her broken defeat. She bit her bleeding lip in order to send more pain through her fog of weakness. She never thought in her life she would ever need more pain than he was delivering.

Orochimaru noticed her inflicting her self pain, and he smirked wider. "You never know when to quit taunting me, dear Anko," he said arrogantly. "If more pain is what you desire, I would most happily oblige." He leaned his head down again and tilted her head to the side so he had a clear shot at her throat. He cradled the side of her head in his hand and pressed his lips to the left side of her neck. His teeth soon followed, barely scraping the surface, but when they did and he heard Anko's sharp intake of breath, he smirked to himself again and plunged his pointed fangs deep into the flesh and muscles of her throat.

Screw it! Anko thought as she gave up her composure and cried out painfully at the new wounds in her neck. She had swallowed her full out agonizing scream and had reduced it to a pained little whine, but that was enough.

The snake smirked wider against her neck and buried his fangs even deeper in her flesh and tissue, tearing a vein or two, and winning himself another pained cry from her. It sang as sweet music in his ears.

After a few unbearable minutes, he slowly removed his fangs, taking his time in order to make it more painful for her, dragging his teeth along the entrance wound when they emerged.

Anko's body was tense to the point where her muscles were one big knot, and she had her eyes shut tightly and tears ran slowly down her cheeks, though she made no sobbing noise. No noise at all.

Orochimaru licked his lips and teeth clean of her blood and then ran his hand across one of her flushed and tear-streaked cheeks. "I've missed you, my apprentice," he breathed seductively. Slowly, he stood and stared down at her with an I'm-better-than-you look on his face. "We'll see each other again soon, my dear." With that, he vanished from the tree branch.

The girl whimpered to herself freely now that he was gone, the pain coming from her neck unbearable. Her blood ran in large amounts down her shoulder and arm and chest and back, her limp body completely and totally without an ounce of strength. She sobbed and more tears streamed down her tingling cheeks. The last thing she remembered before falling into unconsciousness was the warm feeling that remained on her lips from where he had kissed her…