Title: Not so Silent Night

Rating: PG

Summary: Christmas in Oto.

Notes: The obligatory Christmas ficlet, featuring ickle Otonin, daddy!Orochimaru and Kabuto in an apron. Keep arms and legs within the fic at all times and do not take at all seriously. Merry Christmas – I hope your gifts were as good as mine!

"Tayuya-chan, Sakon-kun – please, don't fight. It's hardly fitting behaviour for a holiday." The two youngsters looked up at Orochimaru, faces guilty even as they disentangled themselves from each other (made difficult because Sakon's fingers were so tightly tangled in Tayuya's thick hair and the girl herself had her teeth embedded in his shoulder.) The infamous leader of Oto, one of the three legendary Sannin and, possibly, the creepiest man in the history of the shinobi nations found himself sighing and passing a hand wearily across his slanted eyes.

What was it about Christmas that made children so…excitable?

"Put the kunai away, children – yes, the flute as well, Tayuya-chan – and go and wash your hands before lunch, please."

The pair trundled off reluctantly if obediently, but their body language and his sensitive hearing betrayed the fact that they continued to whisper threats to each other and Orochimaru had to wonder whether all arch-villains had this much trouble with their child prodigies.

"Ah, Orochimaru-sama?"

At the sound of Kabuto's silky tones, Orochimaru pulled himself together (it wouldn't do for anyone to see him looking tired rather than suavely sinister on the holidays after all) and turned around. He didn't have to feign the wicked smirk that popped up in regards to his subordinate's attire, though.

"Kabuto-kun, have I ever mentioned that you look positively delightful in lace?"

Kabuto smiled and smoothed the front of his apron down in a manner that would have been coy if his flashing glasses hadn't taken the innocence away from the action. "Many times, Orochimaru-sama." And, Orochimaru thought, he really did like the juxtaposition between the purity of the little, lacy, frilly apron and Kabuto's bedroom eyes – even at seventeen, the young man could have given most of the Bond girls a run for their money. His choice in subordinates had always been praised and greatly envied at the meetings of his Rogues' Rotary club (not that that was their public face – for all purposes, they were a literary society, even if world domination was a more common topic of conversation over the tea than Austen and Shikibu.) Granted, that scoundrel Zabuza was possibly more fortunate – his latest find was absolutely enchanting – but Orochimaru was sure that his lovely thing beat Itachi's fishy pet hands down.

"Ummm….Kabuto-san?" Behind them, the door to the kitchen opened a crack and a glimpse of pale hair and dark, worried eyes identified the interruption as Ukon. "Uh, the oven didn't seem to be cooking the turkey fast enough and I thought I could help it along with a fire jutsu…" Thin tendrils of grey started to emerge ominously from the top of the gap between the door and the doorframe. "…and I think we may need a new turkey…" The wisps turned thicker and darker, and there was a definite…scorched smell to the air. "…oh, and the wall is maybe a little bit on fire. But only a little bit!"

Orochimaru was, as always, impressed by Kabuto's ability to never let anything faze him and the way that he quite calmly ushered Ukon back into the kitchen while labeling the accident as an opportunity to practice manipulating water. Kabuto's head poked back in before he closed the door. "Lunch will be ready in half an hour," he assured his master serenely. "And I think I can hear Sakon and Tayuya trying to murder each other in the bathroom." His eyebrows raised a little. "And they just went to Stage One."

Orochimaru thought it prudent to go and break it up before Tayuya summoned her demons. The last time that had happened inside, the plumbing bill had been immense and his henchmen had completely failed to get the scorch marks off of the walls.

True to his promise, Kabuto had lunch on the table within thirty minutes and – whether by coercion, sweet-talking or threats – had chivvied his charges into sitting down in a (somewhat) orderly fashion. Their hands were even washed and, more shockingly, it even looked as if someone (read: Kabuto) had taken a brush to Tayuya's usually scruffy hair. Her hair fell neatly down her back and, around her, the boys looked neat and tidy as they sat down at a table that practically groaned under all the food.

It was a perfect picture…at least for the first three minutes.

Five minutes into the meal, Kidoumaru was told that he couldn't have one of his numerous spiders at the table with him. As a result, he sulked.

Nine minutes in, Tayuya and Sakon were attacking each other with the holly that had made up the centerpiece because they had been relieved of their kunai before being allowed to sit down.

After thirteen unlucky minutes, Orochimaru was ready to feed all of them to his snakes. He resolved to burn 'Raising Lackeys for Dummies', the damn tome that had prompted him to even consider a communal meal on Christmas Day ('Make your potential henchmen feel a part of your evil family by sharing a special meal with them. Provide alcohol to loosen tongues, but ensure to confiscate any and all weapons beforehand (even the hidden ones) as drunken cronies are often trigger-happy and bloodstains are not easily washed out of your best tablecloth.') Jiroubou seemed resolved to eating the entire turkey on his own and Kimimaro had an allergic reaction to the stuffing. Orochimaru mentally added that to the lengthy list of things that triggered adverse reactions in his protégé's body, a list that included menthol, penicillin and, for some strange reason, Ukon, but not Sakon. The twin in question was sharpening his dinner knife with his fork and eying the squabble between his brother and Tayuya with interest.

…Orochimaru hated Christmas, he decided. After all, he'd always been more about celebrating death than birth. This sentiment was confirmed when Ukon, suddenly deciding to defend his twin's honour, launched a sprout at the quarrelling pair with his spoon.

And missed.

Orochimaru could feel Kabuto watching him from across the table as he picked soggy greenery out of his hair and his bespectacled helper beamed at him beatifically.

"More wine, Orochimaru-sama?"