If you want a happy ending, pretend chapter three was the last chapter. Because you are not about to get one here.

Fire

"Be nice with my future body, Kabuto-kun," Orochimaru drawled after he had found out. Kabuto had his face turned away from his master, but Sasuke could see the sudden spasm of disgust which had fractionally overcome his features.

"I'll kill him," Sasuke assured Kabuto for the second time, after Orochimaru had left. Kabuto blinked at him a few times before smiling. Sasuke could tell it was lacking something, just as when his voice did not match his eyes.

"Oh Sasuke, of course you will."

He did not believe it. Sasuke was, no doubt about it, peeved at the lack of belief. He was going to kill Orochimaru.

-- -- -- -- --

"The medicine's not enough anymore... At best, he could have lasted until tomorrow, but more than likely he'd need to do the soul transfer ritual today."

Kabuto paused, wondering how so much time passed him by. What really had changed since the beginning? He had come to close to the person whom his master was planning to take over, that was what he had done.

"Still... I never would've guessed Sasuke-kun would be so quick to say 'yes'."

How could this depress him as it did? It had been about two years before when he first heard the words 'I'll kill him,' uttered so vehemently from Sasuke's lips. Kabuto had always wanted to believe him, but knew at that point it was impossible. Now it was too late and even Sasuke knew it. He had not been able to become stronger then Orochimaru and now it was the end. Unless Sasuke had a plan of action to be able to turn the ritual to his own advantage?

It doesn't matter... even Sasuke won't be able to survive the ritual...

Kabuto felt fazed, just in the slightest, though it did not show on his face. Something learned when he was very young – it was merely habit to do now. Just as his reaction to blood was amounted to little except for coming to attention. It came from Orochimaru's chambers. Kabuto's heart skipped a beat and he came to attention. What had happened? Hearing no movement from within he could assume whatever it was now was over, but who could it be?

Orochimaru being dead never occurred to him. It was something he could not quite believe.

And when he saw Sasuke in the room, Kabuto's mind kept thinking in order to keep him from realizing the inevitable.

What's Sasuke doing here? The giant snake's molting... The ritual's over already? What the hell happened?

"Kabuto?"

Never before had Kabuto broken one of his master's orders. Stepping out from behind the door frame, he stood there and stared at Sasuke's body, waiting for the words he always thought Orochimaru-sama would say once he had accomplished this long-term goal.

But he kept walking, walked right by him without another word, without even looking at him. Kabuto felt petrified as the body kept walking. Was... was it Orochimaru?

He did not know.

He almost wished it was...

"Which one are you?"

"Which one do you think?"

Kabuto's mask was breaking and the other knew it. Who he wanted it to be was different then the one he knew was there. It hurt for some odd reason – first that he would think that and second...

Never before had Kabuto made the mistake of looking directly into Sasuke's eyes, but now he found himself in the depths of them. The wasted land around him, no light but somehow being able to see, the two figures in the distance. This was where the soul ritual took place, he was certain.

They were both fighting, if that was what one could call it, being covered by the cracked ground as if to turn the both of them into statues. Sasuke's expression never changed. He knew he was in control. Orochimaru knew it too, but refused to accept it.

"This – This can't be happening! I created this dimension! There's no way... There's no way! There can't be! This is my—"

"Orochimaru," Sasuke interrupted softly, "Against my eyes, none of your jutsu... actually, you know the rest."

Kabuto wanted out, even before he had seen anything, but this was much worse. He did not need to see this to know who was in control and Sasuke knew it. Knew it and was playing with him by showing him how weak his former master was at this point. Orochimaru's screams came as nothing to Kabuto. Blinking again, there was Sasuke, just standing there, those eyes swirling.

"Orochimaru-sama... is dead."

How come he had wanted to say that for a very long time, yet it did not feel right? How come the first smile Sasuke had given him today was at those words? Kabuto knew straight away. Because he was wrong. Sasuke always smiled when he was wrong, for how often was that the case during these last three years?

"Wait..." he wanted to correct himself, do something, because he knew what Sasuke was going to do next. "It's more like..."

"I've taken over."

His extra words meant nothing. It did not even halt him. Sasuke walked away without another word. Kabuto was unable to do anything but stare at Sasuke's retreating back. He should have known this was going to happen. Sasuke never pretended any different this would be the case when he said he was going to kill Orochimaru. But he did not and it did not seem to bother the boy at all.

It bothered Kabuto though. Immensely. Sasuke was acting as if everything they had ever spoken of had never occurred. Like he had never kissed him.

He should have expected nothing less, Kabuto realized, hours later when he had moved to the former body of Orochimaru. Sasuke was always going to leave him, one way or the other. It did not make him feel much better about it. After all, Itachi was the only one Sasuke really saw. Defeating the strongest one here, there was no point in staying.

It was about a year ago Kabuto had known Sasuke was stronger then he was. A sense of foreboding had begun then. For good reason. If only Kabuto had not been so stupid!

Falling in love with someone who only had one goal. Kabuto's laughs shook his body like a leaf burning away in the bare embers of a fire. Sasuke was the flame that started it, one so beautiful, but ravaged whatever it touched. A fire storm had been here and was now gone, leaving behind the wasted land it had previously claimed.

He would become stronger and continue onwards.

Not that he expected the burnt land to ever heal.