On Mitarashi Anko: The Enchantment Has Been Dropped
Starring: Anko, Orochimaru, Kakashi, Kabuto
Pairings: None (for now, although if I feel like it later, there might be a hint of KakaAnko)
Description: Rabbit trail of Anko moments -- many brief ones, some not-so-brief ones. Includes some looks into the thoughts of other characters, such as Orochimaru, Kakashi, and Kabuto.
She doesn't remember how she got here, only that she is here, and the reason is ~him~. He is all she has, and he ~needs~ her. That is enough of a reason to stay.
He – Orochimaru-sama – is all she knows. Nothing else is important. At one time, other things may have seemed like they mattered, but she knows better now.
What she had before were empty lies and broken promises. Now, she has something real. It will not fail her. Her trust, if nothing else, makes it so.
She will follow him anywhere, always by his side. Like a faithful pet dog. She will never leave him. For, as long as she has him, and he her, what can go wrong?
He is her parent, sensei, brother, mentor, friend. He is her Protector, and as such, she is immune to fear. She never thinks that someday this will change. It is unthinkable, impossible, inconceivable. And, as such, it will never happen.
"I want to be like you," the girl says, her eyes smiling along with her lips.
She is young and naïve and curious, the perfect pawn. Certainly not indisposable, but not without merits. She knows nothing of the world but what he lets slip off from his honeyed tongue, and she absorbs everything he says like a sponge soaking up water. It is people like her, the people always eager to please, that, in their high numbers, will make the greatest difference in the outcome of this game.
Orochimaru smiles back at her, and she is blind to the malice in that smile. "How sssssweet," her murmurs, and ruffles her hair with a fondness feigned so well that he nearly believes it himself.
Anko hums contentedly, and the world pauses for a moment. And it is just the two of them, standing amongst the golden sand, the girl singing softly, the breeze blowing light in their silky dark hair. There is no sense of time, for all there is is ~them~, a pair of silhouettes shadowed against a distant horizon on a beach at night where the waves lap like music.
It is at moments like this that Orochimaru almost thinks he feels sorry for the girl. He is evil incarnate, after all, and his presence cannot help but scar such innocence.
Then he remembers that innocence is meant for scarring, that good only exists so bad can thrive on its destruction. He cannot feel sorry, he cannot feel guilt. What snake, after choking the life out of a mouse, looks at what will soon be his meal and is ~sorry~? The answer is that there is no such snake. That is the way of this world, and it is a way that has yet to be threatened.
Anko yawns, and her eyelids start to droop. The coins of sleep weigh down upon them, and she does not bother with struggling when resistance is futile.
Within seconds, she is sleeping on the sand, a delicate hum of a snore escaping her throat. A trickle of saliva pools at the corner of her mouth, and her chest rises and falls, rises and falls, to the rhythm of a song only she can hear.
The little one trusts too much.
The Serpent knows this, and wonders what he has done to make it so. Why is she so certain he won't leave her here, desert her, abandon her?
No answer is found, so, unsatisfied, he takes her back into the house, careful not to wake her. Once she is in bed with the blanket pulled up to her chin and down over her toes, he goes down to his personal library. The parenting book calls to him from where he left it on the table this afternoon, and as the pages flip past, he breathes in their scent.
Children are such strange beings.
He is sipping at his tea thoughtfully, sitting on a wooden porch swing that dips slowly back and forth.
"Orochimaru-sama! Come make a daisy chain!"
He starts off in the direction of the voice, almost by some reflex sprung in his subconsciousness. Then he blinks, realizes that the motions are all wrong. ~What~ is he doing? His eyes narrow into slits. "No."
"But, Orochimaru-sama! Pleeeeeeeaase!"
Suddenly it is very hard to keep himself from doing as the voice requests. The image of himself, rolling about in the fresh green grass, daisy chains hanging limply in his face and hair as their petals whisper of their secrets into his ear… Abruptly, he shakes himself, trying to snap out of this ridiculous trance. It is preposterous that she should have so much effect on him. She is… what? Ten?
He hates children, he reminds himself. He hates them with a passion. His fingers latch onto the arm rests of the porch swing, biting into their wooden surfaces as if they are the only thing separating him from the brink of death. He will not move.
"Ochimochi-sama!" she belts out suddenly.
He doesn't hate children; they make good tools. And tools should always be well-cared for, as otherwise they will grow blunt and useless. But still… ~daisy chains~?
Her gaze catches his, and he finds that he cannot tear himself away from it. Her eyes are too big, too luminescent, too alive.
A tiny piece of his heart melts, and seconds later, he finds himself with a crown of daisies on his head, tossing a big red rubber ball back and forth under the shining sun. And Anko is happy, the sun is happy, the daisies and the grass and the little bubbling brook are happy.
This isn't that bad.
"Arigato, Ochimochi-sama," the child giggles.
"You're wel--" His eyes turn into daggers again. "Sssssspoiled imbeccccccile. Don't call me that."
Her eyes lose their shine, and her face seems to reel back as if she has been slapped. "Hai," she says in a small voice, somewhat resembling a lost puppy.
"In front of people," he adds, almost as an afterthought.
The girl smiles a smile as bright as the sun.
It makes him feel warm and fuzzy on the inside, much to his irritation. But it's still better than seeing her broken.
"Pushover," she teases, eyes twinkling.
"Sssso nicccce of you to ssssay so." He sticks a daisy in her hair, unperturbed.
Daisies are wishes that bloom when the smile smiles upon them.
Orochimaru studies Anko as she reaches into the brook and cups water into her hands. He thinks, fleetingly, on a whim, that it would be nice if this girl could survive the Test.
Clothes drenched, hair sopping wet, soaked through to the bone, he lunges to his feet.
"How do you like my splash no jutsu, Ochimochi-sama?"
That does it.
"Oooh, we're playing tag? Yay!" The child laughs and runs off across the grass, always just out of reach.
"Insssolent brat! Die!!"
So much for that wish.
"Orochimaru-sama! I'm ~hungry~!" Anko pouts, poking him.
"Children your age are alwayssss hungry," he protests, cocking an eye open. Seriously, this kid and her "hunger" are eating up all his yen. And stealing is just plain degrading. "Can't you do ssssomething usssseful for oncccce and make it yourssssself? I'm ssssleepy."
"Grownups your age are always sleepy," she complains, trying to tug his pillow out from under his head. "Besides, I don't know how to cook. Aren't you going to teach me?"
"No. Go back to bed."
"Why do you need to sleep so much anyway? Is it because you're old?"
"When I get old, will I have to sleep all the time too?"
"And will I start hissing my s's like thisssssssss?"
"And will my tongue turn purple and grow really long and gross and--"
"Anko-chan, no. I'm tired. Leave me alone."
That was a mistake.
"Fine," she says sullenly, sticking out her lower lip. "I'll just make breakfast myself."
She goes down to the kitchen and discovers a box of pocky. She decides to make pocky soup, so she gets a large bowl and fills it halfway with water. She cracks the pocky sticks and sprinkles the bits into the water.
Soggy pocky floats up to her lips and passes between them.
It jumps back into the bowl.
"OROCHIMARU-SAMA!! BUY MORE POCKY!!!!"
They are charging forward, eyes blazing, weapons drawn. The knives are coming now, coming for the Snake. Not for the mouse next to him, of course, not for the mouse. But somehow they don't notice the mouse, and she is standing there, in the way, and—
"Orochimaru-sama!!" Anko screams, fascinated and horrified by the blood dripping from the knife embedded in his back.
The Snake recoils; he does not want her to scream. No, it is not good for the mouse to scream, it is not good. He doesn't know why, but it isn't good—
It isn't good!
Anko cries, cries for the snake bleeding in front of her, for her, because of her. His blood has been shed for her. Why did he have to jump in and shield her? Didn't he know she could move out of the way? What has all that training been for if he won't trust her to defend herself?
"Anko-chan, go back," the Serpent rasps. He does not want her to see the slaughter; it does not suit her.
"No." Slowly, she pulls out a kunai, wondering what it will be like to see it draw blood. Wondering if it is really something she wants to know.
"Little one," says the faceless man who has hurt her Protector, "Move out of the way." He seems somehow less threatening now, but the voice remains firm.
"What are you going to do?" Anko asks, slipping easily into a crouch.
There is no answer.
"You're going to kill him, aren't you!?" she demands, shaking all over.
The little girl from before is gone. Her trembling is not of fear, but of rage. Her eyes are cold now, and somehow hot at the same time, accusing twin daggers who have shaken off their bluntness for the first time. They blaze out from a livid face, a face that is terrible to look at.
Anko doesn't speak again, but her message is understood. She will die before she lets anyone kill the snake. What kind of crazed mouse is this?
"Move," the faceless man says.
Anko's fingers clutch tighter, until she almost feels as if the kunai has become a part of her hand, a part of her living, moving, breathing flesh. She does not like this nameless, faceless, brainless man. She does not like him at all.
Faceless inclines his head slightly, and she wonders if he is mocking her. "Then… We have no choice but to move you."
"Why do you want him to die?" she whispers, a tremor running through her as she tries to keep her voice under control.
"A similar question I have of you. Why do you want him to live?"
What a stupid question it is. Why does she want Orochimaru-sama to live? Everything she has she owes to him, everything she is she owes to him, everything she ever will be she owes to him. Is that not good enough to want him to survive?
"He is my friend," she says finally. She does not want to talk to the man with no face about her life; that is her own business.
"Do you know that your friend here is worth quite a bit of yen?" Faceless sneers, gesturing at the Snake. "He is wanted by six different underground organizations. Quite an accomplishment, eh?"
"…Yen," she says in disbelief. "You… want him dead because of the yen."
"I need yen to support my family," he replies. "Everyone does."
The words pass over her head, a rush of hot air, cold, empty, meaningless.
"Because of the yen," she repeats, like one waking from a dream. "The yen."
"Yes," Faceless agrees, "the yen."
Then the hands descend upon her, grabbing at her hair, her wrists, her shoulders, pulling her back, pulling her away from her friend. The kunai is torn away from her, and falls to the ground, useless. She doesn't care for it, as it is of no importance. What she cares about is that they are going to kill Orochimaru-sama.
Hackles raised, she tears out of their grasp and snatches the kunai back from off the ground. "GET AWAY FROM HIM!!"
A knife pricks at the back of her neck, and she can feel the alluring kiss of blood start to blossom at the break in her skin. It feels nice… So nice, she just wants to taste the blood. She has seen Orochimaru-sama lick it off his knife before. What will it be like to taste it from her finger?
"Don't move unless you want to die," a voice says behind her. It isn't Faceless, it is another one of them speaking this time – Knifeman.
She briefly wonders what her attacker looks like. If she dies here, she wants to have his appearance in her mind, to focus her hatred on. "Gomen nasai," she says finally, her eyes threatening to spill over. No, she isn't going to cry – she won't let herself. "Orochimaru-sama, I have failed you."
"On the contrary, Anko-chan," a smoothly oiled voice sounds. "I think you have done rather well."
Her eyes widen, for she cannot tell where the voice is coming from. "…What?"
That is when she realizes that Orochimaru-sama's body has been replaced with a wriggling pile of snakes.
The man with the knife to her neck is shocked as well. "Sh-show yourself!"
Faceless has a sheen of sweat on his face. "Don't kill the girl!" he yells.
"I know that, idiot!" Knifeman yells back.
Anko feels him tense up behind her… Then the pressure to her neck is gone. She turns to find him frozen on the ground. All around her, the men drop one by one, like bowling pins. She can't even detect any visible cause for them to be falling. Soon they have littered the ground with their motionless forms.
"A… are they dead?" Anko breathes, knees weak from the shock.
"No," says the Serpent beside her, making her start. "Doessss that dissspleasssse you?" He reflects briefly that if it wasn't for Anko-chan's presence, he would have given these fools a bloody funeral. He wonders if he has gone too soft.
"Let them live," the child replies. Her stomach groans. "I'm hungry."
Orochimaru laughs lightheartedly. "You haven't changed. Not a sssingle sssspeck of maliccce in you."
Anko smiles, remembering the first thing he told her: "You're too nice. I'll fix that." But, unlike him, she knows she has changed. Something is different. Ponderingly, she drags her finger across the cut on the back of her neck and is rewarded with a minuscule sprinkling of lifeblood. She proceeds to suck the finger like a lollipop as they walk back to the house.
"Well?" Orochimaru asks.
"I like sweet bean soup better."
Author Notes: This is NOT complete (Kabuto and Kakashi must be mentioned... not to mention Orochimaru's betrayal). I do plan to write more, although it might not be that soon. And a big thank-you to anyone who comments!
Disclaimer: The characters are from Naruto and belong to Kishimoto-sensei.