Orochimaru was sulking.

He was curled up on his window seat, staring out at the pouring rain with a book abandoned on the last page he was reading on his lap. He had barely gotten past three pages before his inability to concentrate had taken over. He had sighed, laid the book down, and simply stared out the window in misery. His long, dark hair fell over his shoulders in waves, brushing the faded pages of the book he held on his bent legs. One arm rested on the sill of the window; the other lay across the pages of the book absently. Orochimaru felt a soft sigh pass through his lips, and closed his eyes for a moment.

But then, he was taken back.

The very first day he had met Itachi, he had thought he was the hottest thing since fire. Charming, intelligent, and seemingly burning everything he touched, Orochimaru had miraculously managed to gain the attention of the young Uchiha. The two had hit it off immediately, had ended up going out several months later. For several more months, they shared a happy relationship. But then, it all went south. Itachi grew distant and cold, even going as far as to strike his lover when he was angry. Orochimaru tried to stand by Itachi: he knew that his partner hadn't had it easy in life, and that perhaps now it was all catching up with him. But still, it only got worse. Finally, Orochimaru ended it. Itachi grew enraged, and attacked Orochimaru. In defense, he fought back, but Itachi cut off his arm and sealed him into Tsukiyomi. For seventy two hours, all Orochimaru could see, feel, sense, hear, and feel was Itachi raping him, and, when he finally awoke from the illusion, Itachi was gone. Sasori found him, and said that Itachi was long gone. He seemed to know nothing about the encounter, and looked confused when Orochimaru had said that Itachi attacked him when he tried to end it. Sasori had told him that Itachi had said that Orochimaru had tried to take his body, and had panicked and attacked back. As soon as Orochimaru left, he would come back. Orochimaru fled; he would have, anyway. He packed his things, told Pein he was leaving, and ran, ring and all. Pein had tried to chase him; he wanted him and the ring back. But Orochimaru effectively hid himself, and eventually became a back-up plan in case the Akatsuki had nothing better to do.

And now, he was back. Itachi had fled from Akatsuki as well, and had run to Orochimaru in order not to be found. Orochimaru sighed again, pinching the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. The Akatsuki ring, Sora, sat comfortably on his little finger, sparkling with a dull, red light. Orochimaru had adopted wearing it after Itachi had come back. Orochimaru seemed to be the only member, besides Pein, who knew how the rings truly worked. First, it granted the wearer access to the Akatsuki compound. Second, it formed something of a tracking system that, when activated, would allow the members to locate each other. Orochimaru had blocked that feature. Third, it was a storage place for chakra. Shinobi would often squirrel away excess chakra on their down time, and take it from the ring later. And, lastly, the most hidden and complex of properties: it could be infused with jutsu. Orochimaru had programmed his to instantly form a jutsu-proof shield against Itachi's ring. If Itachi directed chakra at Orochimaru, the Uchiha's ring would flare, send a message to Orochimaru's, and trigger the defense. Orochimaru was quite proud of himself for it. Itachi probably thought it was vanity that had driven Orochimaru to adopt the ring again.

He wished.

He used to love Itachi-with all his heart, mind, and soul. But then, Itachi turned on him. It was horrible, he decided, to love someone so fully, and then to have them throw that back in your face. Orochimaru pushed his hair back from his face. No more, he decided. Itachi was leaving-now!

The door opened, and the devil himself walked in.

"First my base, then my kitchen, now my bed room? Itachi, a little respect?!"

To his surprise, Itachi looked remorseful. "That's actually what I came to talk to you about," he said slowly, avoiding Orochimaru's gaze. Orochimaru's golden eyes narrowed in skepticism, but he said nothing. Itachi continued: "I…I realize I had treated you badly…both now, and in the past. I guess I just never got over what you did to me in the past."

"What the hell did I ever do to you, you bastard?!"

Orochimaru knew he would regret those words as soon as they passed from his lips. Still, he didn't back down. He needed to stand up for himself now, otherwise, Itachi would never respect him.

Itachi's eyes narrowed, and he finally caught Orochimaru's gaze. "You cheating bitch," he growled. "How could you not remember that? And with Pein, of all people!"

"You think I cheated on you?!" Orochimaru could hardly believe his ears. "With Pein?! Aw, hell, no!"

Itachi snickered slightly. "Can I have some proof?"

"Who told you?"

"Pein."

"And who's been taking advantage of you, playing you, and manipulating you?"

"…Pein…"

"And who were you willing to give your life for, before he turned out to be a conniving bastard?"

"…Pein…"

"So, who would want to break us up for spite, so he could pretend to like you, only to break your heart later?"

"…Pein…"

"Very good. Shall we try this again?"

Itachi suddenly felt very, very stupid.

"Well…here's my apology," he said, walking over to Orochimaru and sitting down next to him. Orochimaru scooted over, just enough to give Itachi a bit more room to sit, but not enough to allow him to be comfortable. "Take it or leave it. I'm sorry for being a jackass to you. I'm sorry for not trying to clear things up, instead just taking Pein's word at face value. I'm sorry for rejecting you so cruelly, and I'm sorry for hurting you so badly."

Orochimaru bit his lip in thought for a moment. Well, this was unexpected. He had expected Itachi to just hit him and laugh at him and possibly try a little Sharingan. An apology, while not unwelcome, was highly unexpected. "Well…" he said slowly. "I-I'm going to need some time to think this through…this is a lot to take, all at once…"

"I understand," Itachi said, somewhat abruptly. He stood up, and exited the room, barely pausing to throw something back over his shoulder: "Thanks you for your time." And then, the doors slammed shut again.

Orochimaru was so confused.

OOOOOOOOO

It took him three days, but Pein finally managed to find Itachi.

In the lowest levels of Orochimaru's hideout, as if expecting him to flood the entire earth looking for him, droplets of rain finally hit Itachi's body. The Uchiha mumbled something nasty and disgusting about the leaking compound, while Orochimaru griped about Pein's efforts. He knew exactly what the man was doing, and apparently, he was desperate. He hadn't made it rain so hard since the first day Orochimaru disappeared. But, Orochimaru had shielded himself with chakra, and thus never got wet. Pein never figured it out. Or he just didn't care about Orochimaru anymore. Or something had come up. Or…well, Orochimaru was just glad to have escaped. Pein was ruthless, especially when people tried to escape. He must have Madara behind him this time, though. Orochimaru chuckled slightly at Pein's poor attempts to keep Tobi/Madara a secret. He had figured it out when he left-he had stolen a few (hundred) scrolls.

Pein hurried to Orochimaru's lair, not expecting much from the encounter. He snuck into Orochimaru's hideout, using each of his six bodies at a different entrance. Human realm snuck in through the front door, quickly disposing of the meager guard force there by removing their souls. Animal found a window and slipped in that way; as the slenderest of Pein's bodies, it was no problem for him to climb through the window and close it again behind him. Hell cut an opening on the tiled roof of the compound, and dropped into what he figured was a raining room. He grabbed some weapons, and ran the other way. Asura found a back door, and simply entered that way. Hungry Ghost used a water-teleportation jutsu to sneak in through a puddle in the basement. Pein hesitated to put his Deva body into play: that was the body Itachi would associate most with his pain. But then, it might also be useful in the fact that Itachi would recognize him. Deva was also his most powerful body. If it came to a fight, Pein would need to subdue both parties as quickly as possible. Sighing, he decided it was best to use his Deva body, and moved it towards a window. He didn't encounter a soul in any of his bodies, besides the first few whose souls he had removed. Pein rolled his eyes; Orochimaru's lack of security was disconcerting.

Or was he expected?

All of his bodies made it in undetected, and began fanning out looking for Itachi. The damn fool…he had a knack for disappearing, didn't he? Pein was getting frustrated very quickly. The dank air of the hideout didn't help, either. It wasn't a nice, refreshing wet, like Pein was used to: it was a smelly, clammy, wet, that encroached on your personal space and made it hard to breathe. Pein used his six bodies' collective vision to search; he laid out a grid-like formation and swept the entire place. It turned out to be miles long-all underground. What did Orochimaru do, form a second summoning contract with moles?!

Voices from one of the rooms.

Pein froze, listening closer. That voice was Itachi's! And the other was…Orochimaru's? Wow, speaking terms, now! Pein felt a snicker tug at his upper lip. After what he had done to tear those two apart, he was surprised they were able to stand next to each other without killing each other. Pfft, it was a miracle Itachi was still alive if Orochimaru didn't figure it out. That snake was like a vicious lion when he got mad. He bit like a little dog, too! Pein crept closer to the door, listening to the voices. One of them, Orochimaru's voice, sounded distraught, close to tears. The other, Itachi's voice, seemed to be awkwardly fumbling with his words.

"Itachi, I-I just can't take you back! I know you didn't know, but it's not that simple!"

"What, found someone else?"

There was a soft sigh from Orochimaru. "Yes," he whispered. "Itachi, I…I'm so sorry…"

Pein rolled his eyes. Apparently, they hadn't figured it out.

"What Pein did was unacceptable, but for you to react so badly, towards me, was even more heinous. Please, Itachi, try to understand-"

Well, crap. They had figured it out.

Pein decided that was more than enough from them. It was time for a little confession of his own. It might even go nicely with the emotional reunion going on on the other side of the door. All five of his other bodies were instantly at his side; he set his palms against the door, straightening up to his full height and preparing to enter the room.

"Itachi!!"

The door slammed open, revealing the startled faces of both Orochimaru and Itachi. Itachi instantly stepped in front of Orochimaru, almost in a protective fashion; Kabuto emerged from the shadows, and took Orochimaru's hand. Orochimaru and Kabuto went for the window, but Pein moved his Animal body in front of it. "Not so fast," he said, planting himself in front of the two. "I'd like a word with you, if you don't mind."

"Pein, let them go," Itachi said tiredly. "They have nothing to do with this; this is between you and me."

Pein hardly seemed amused by the prospect. "They must have something to do with it," Pein said, "seeing as you ran to them."

"They were just a convenience," Itachi argued. "Let them go."

Pein still wasn't convinced, but decided it was better to let Orochimaru and Kabuto go. They would only complicate things. Animal lunged forward, seizing Orochimaru's hair and bringing him up to stare into those gray-ringed eyes. "You saw nothing," he hissed, before shoving Orochimaru back into Kabuto's chest. Kabuto caught Orochimaru easily, and pulled the sannin away as soon as he moved to punch Pein.

"Don't," he whispered. "He isn't worth it." Orochimaru hesitated, but then nodded slowly and walked towards the door with Kabuto. The two exited without any more fuss. Pein called after them,

"We'll be out by daybreak."

Orochimaru kept moving, showing no sign of hearing them at all. Several hisses could be heard moments later, and snakes began pouring out of every cavity on the compound. So he was expected. Little bastard! Well, Pein supposed he could let it go, for now, anyway. His priority was for Itachi. He swung around, fixing the Uchiha in his gaze. Fully aware of the danger, he met Itachi's eyes in full, using his Deva body. "Itachi," he started, but Itachi cut him off.

"I don't want to hear it."

Itachi brushed past Pein, cruelly shouldering him aside. Pein was having none of it. He grabbed Itachi's shoulder and shoved him back, having his Animal and Human bodies take Itachi's arms. Itachi didn't look fazed, but he didn't look happy, either. "You don't want to hear it?" Pein whispered, Deva stepping up to him and taking his chin between his thumb and two first fingers. "How about I just show you how I feel, then?"

Itachi was immediately on his guard. Pein's way of demonstrating his feelings was usually with fists and feet, punches and kicks, and the occasional nasty knee to the gut. Still, he didn't move from Pein's grip; he didn't struggle, or beg to be released. He said nothing as Pein stepped closer, lowering his head to Itachi's. His heart beat like a tribal drum; sweat began to break out over his entire body. Kill me with a kiss, he thought. Some way to go.

But, surprisingly, there was no malice in Pein's lips as they met Itachi's. Unlike their first kiss, this was soft, forgiving, and gentle. It held no lust, no demands, and it didn't even feel like Pein. Itachi, surprised, froze within Pein's extra bodies' grips. They slowly released him, backing away a few steps and allowing Itachi his freedom. Still, he didn't move.

"I'm sorry."

Pein's words said it all. Itachi didn't understand it, but he didn't care. All he knew was that Pein was here, and he seemed to realize exactly what he had done to Itachi. He now sought to rectify his deeds, and Itachi wasn't about to complain. Itachi sprang forward again, meeting Pein in a crushing, bruising kiss. Pein took Itachi fully into his arms, one hand cradling his head, the other wrapped around his shoulders. Itachi lost all passage of time; all he knew was Pein's embrace, and the sweet caress of his lips.

"Let's go."

How long had they been standing there, anyway? The first rays of dawn were beginning to break through the window at the far end of the room. It was a while, then. Itachi sighed, and leaned on Pein as they made their way out of the underground complex. All of Pein's other bodies had run around, finding different ways out and leaving Deva alone with Itachi. It wasn't hard to find the way out; just follow the light at the end of the tunnel. As Itachi and Pein finally broke the surface of the earth, Itachi found it slightly poetic and very corny that he and Pein would be finding each other's light at the very break of day. Really, when did that ever happen in real life? Itachi wasn't complaining, though. As long as nothing ever came between them again…

Speaking of which, Pein owed Itachi an explanation.

A/N: Jeez, the ending was crappy. Still, didn't want it to get too long. Just couldn't end this chapter!! XD Gah! Alright, well, review.