title: drown the
prompt: parallel; never intersecting
notes: Woot. OroTsu is my not-so-secret crack. Also, considering I LOL'd ridiculously over Ren's parody-collection, I'm not sure whether I should be labeling myself a hypocrite right now. But, anyway…
This was supposed to be part of sixpence, but it got monstrous, and so, I posted it on its own.
(HAY GUYS I'M CAPTAIN OBVIOUS.)
Also, this is AU. Or AR. One of them. Or maybe both. Yeah, both. I cannot stress this enough. Totally AU or AR in Naruto-canon verse. Or really, in ANY canon-verse. Read warning for more.
warning: I really don't know how to put it here without giving it away. Just know that I take liberties with (read: amalgamate) various mythologies-slash-religions, and, so if that offends you, um…click out?
Also, I'm deliberately vague.
disclaimer: totally not mine. none of it.
"I think," he says, breath catching on the edge of Sleep,
"I think I knew you once."
And once, in a time before Memory—in a time before Time—he stood alone.
(because yes, he is the first, and paves the way for after)
Under the cover of darkness
(he has yet to call it night
he falls fast, and wakes up to the sound of her slow, even breaths.
There is something missing, and instinctively, his hand rises slowly to rest at his side.
(thief, he says, thief—
something dark and primitive damns her silently, and he would call it hate if he'd known the word)
The movement startles her, this woman with hair the color of sunlight and eyes a shade lighter than those he'd christened trees and—
"Woman," he says, and writes her into being.
(his breath is a stylus for creation)
And when she sinks her teeth into rosy seeded womb, he smiles under anger, and plots.
You will love him.
I know not the word.
You will know.
In every lifetime you live.
We shall see.
She is Beauty-primeval, and there is something feral in her eyes.
There is passion there, for excess, for hedonism—
("Again," she says, throaty and undone, and he quakes under the pressure of his own body's demands,
"Mine," he says, palming her breast, brushing his lips over the nape of her neck, "mine."
She smiles, wicked and free, and her white teeth catch what moonlight there is.
And howhowhow, he wonders, how?
"The gods will tell."
So he does, and silly boy, will you never learn?)
It is not enough.
He is the product of thieves and lovers, with his silver-cool tongue, quick-clever white hands and—
(the worst of both, the best of neither, four hands, two mouths, and she binds him to her with whispered words, and they are together in every way that does not matter—)
Their union is an abomination.
It does not hurt.
You have lived but twice
It will not hurt.
His voice is slurred, crude and unfinished, and she stands tall in the dank cell of his imprisonment. He is restrained by the most tenuous of bonds,
(a mockery of his worth)
and his barely concealed rage rattles more than her ragged breath. She holds his legacy in her hands, shorn black strands that slip silently down to the gilded floor.
"Ask me if I regret it."
He stares at her—through her—with unseeing eyes, and laughs insane.
She walks away, the weight of her betrayal tinkling in the fabric of voluminous white robes.
(his soul for silver—a fair trade)
When he dies, she finds the strands of black among the rubble, and does not feel a thing.
They call you a tragedy.
And what do they know?
You mock him. In every form you take.
And yet, he does nothing.
He will try.
The next time, she almost remembers.
She is different here.
Blonde hair, amber-eyed, fractured and whole.
Her body has its own geography, with its upward slopes, soft valleys, bronzed arches and miles and miles of
peach pale skin.
She is a universe in her own right, and she is unashamed.
He is different here.
There is something familiar in the dark hair, the light eyes, skin whiter than just-fallen snow. He walks with unhurried, graceful steps, and there is a cool strength, an underestimated insanity lying just beyond sight.
"With Jiraiya incapacitated, the success of this mission falls onto your shoulders. Yours and—"
"Tsunade-hime's. I understand. And really, that condition makes this mission no different from any other we have had."
From the bed, his almost-rival, pseudo-brother,
(never friend, never no)
teammate responds with a growl.
"Fuck you, bastard!"
"Really, your taunts get more and more predictable each day."
"You want to talk predictable? I'll show you…"
And she drowns out the voices that sound in her head with a cacophony of almost-memories that play without sound.
Later, when they are alone,
"Orochimaru's…changed, hime. There's something different about him that I can't put my finger on. "
He looks at her, black eyes narrowed in warning.
"You'd better be careful."
(And in an instant she sees them—snippets of the lives they have lived, of the lives they will, and she breakbreakbreaks at the sight of metaphor apples, and too-weak pillars, and arms and legs entangled like mangled art, her deadened eyes, his narrow, thin lips, the subtle sophistication of his precise brand of cruelty bred into him by years, and eons and ages of endless, unconscious practice and—)
She swallows, and knows her sleep will be fitful this night.
"I will be."
The mission ends with accolades, and no one is surprised. She walkswobbles home, unsteady steps sound hollow against the deadened ground.
He stays for a moment, alone, and unwraps the bandages she'd wrapped around with such care.
There is a clean cut that stretches across the expanse of his pale chest—deep, and almost fatal. Taunting in its failure.
(how much deeper, how much harder,
snip snip snip says the thread of his Fate,
snip snip, snag on the wheels of Providence, and so he lives,)
He feels his weakness coursing through his veins and plots.
"I can give that to you."
Jiraiya sleeps, oblivious to the tension around the makeshift camp. Orochimaru has taken first watch, and Tsunade organizes her medical supplies with a careful precision that borders on obsession. That silk-and-steel voice is taunting her again, and his ocher eyes shine bright in fire light. There is a flutter in the pit of her stomach, a not-quite fear that makes itself at home in the back of her mind.
This is madness.
"You-you don't know what you're saying."
Orochimaru twirls the kunai he's fished out of his pouch with nonchalance, and uses it to peel an apple with smooth, slick strokes.
"And you don't like what you're hearing."
"Crazy. You've finally outdone your own brand of insanity," she says, seeking to bolster her own courage by downgrading his reason. Had it been anyone but him, she wouldn't be so unnerved. She is strong by anyone's standards—strong and swift and sure.
But he is Orochimaru, and she is Tsunade, and this is enough. There are an infinite lifetimes' worth of memories driving them, too many old-hurts that they do not rememeber, too many parallel lives that
will never intersect.
"You would castigate me for wanting to stop time?"
He smirks, almost wicked, at her hesitation.
"I know about the dreams."
"You call for me. I've heard my name pass your lips too many times for it to be coincidence."
He steps toward her, all lithe fluid motions and unbound hair, apple juice on the corner of his mouth, and she starts at the feel of his fingertips dancing on the underside of her chin. His breath whispers against her lips, and she sighs, unsteady.
"You see me as I was."
He leaned in, until they were sharing breaths, and kisses her with lazy indulgence. He tastes like apples, and bitterness, and sudden damnation, and she thinks, vaguely, that this cannot be their first.
Her eyes snap open, and she pushes him away, flustered.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
There is silence for a few moments, while she struggles for composure.
"You can help me."
"You can help me, or you can not. Either way, I will find it. Here or elsewhere."
"That sounds a lot like treason."
He smiles, wicked and slow.
"Whatever it takes."
She turns away at that, and fights against her sudden urge to vomit. Orochimaru, for his part, goes back to his solitary watch as though they had not even spoken. There is no more talk of ichor and gods' breath, and for that, at least, she is grateful.
When he leaves four weeks later, she is the only one who is not surprised.
"We'll find him, right?"
"We have to."
"And we'll bring him back?"
She slips on her fingerless gloves, and for a moment, does not speak.
"…Whatever it takes."
Their end is a foregone conclusion.
The fight is fierce, and bloody, and long. There are brown streaks of dried blood on the sides of her face, a sickening parody of heartfelt tears, and Jiraiya's hair is all but stained red. He lies, sweat-slick and barely breathing, after exhausting the last of his energy to send for reinforcements from Konoha.
On the other side, Orochimaru is tired, but still standing. There is an ever-present glimmer of white on his face, and she knows he is smiling. Queer, she thinks, but then, hasn't he always been?
She rises up, unsteady on aching legs, and charges for one last punch. She will die for this, she knows—
(but, she thinksrecalsremembers he has done the same for her, in lifetimes long past, forgotten by everything except their own shared Memory)
He does not move when her fist shatters his guard, emits nothing more than a strained grunt when he falters, and finally falls fast.
She stands over him, but not victorious.
"Ask me if I regret it," she says, and the words echo from a different time.
He dies quiet.
You are legend.
We are damned.
I don't know. Really. I don't. Please tell me what you thought?