I wanted to be strong like you. I still do, Sensei. What did you see in me when I was but a weak child? Did you think that I could ever fill your shoes? That I would ever be a worthwhile student? I thought you didn't want me any longer, but the truth is that it was I who betrayed you. I failed you.

Yet after my failure, even after I tried to kill us both, you spared me. Why? What was inside you? What remains hidden beneath your serpent scales? I kept reaching for you, in spite of myself. What could I possibly hope to achieve? I never stood a chance against you and I couldn't expect you to give up your quest for power.

You were always superior to everyone else. There isn't a soul that can deny the electricity of your presence. I looked up to you and you deigned to take me under your wing...

And I miss that warmth.

I miss the awe you inspired in me. When you smiled down at me and your sharp teeth glistened between your thin lips, I felt this intense pride flow through me. Someone as great as you had allowed me to follow him. Someone so powerful, intelligent, and talented wanted me to learn at his feet. I realised there must be something special in me that only you could see. You, with your yellow eyes and their slit pupils, saw everything.

My mind is weighed down upon by memories of you from all those years ago. It doesn't seem so far away. Your voice was so soft, even when you were angry. When you were close enough for me to feel your breath, I would shiver from it. Too many things remain unsaid. I wanted you to know -- and see.

There is no chance, now. It's all over. Not until it was too late did I allow myself to want to stay with you. I failed to imagine my outliving you. How could I foresee it, Sensei? How could the great Orochimaru crumble while the world remains intact? It should have perished with you. It feels so dead knowing you're no longer in it.

You spared me time and again. Why? Did you care for me? Was there some part of your heart still tender enough to consider me precious? I pray that's true, but the thought only intensifies my grief. It would mean that I am a cruel person to have rejected the last vestige of your humanity when I left you. Sensei, please forgive me.

I have so little left to remember you by. Only the mark on my skin remains as proof of the closeness we shared. That bite frightened me at the time, but now I can appreciate it. It was a symbol of our bond. The surging pain that has survived you is your embracing me from far away. That's how I imagine it, at least. The idea gives me some modicum of comfort.

How can I forget you? Your face appears to me everywhere I go, shattering my heart repeatedly. I'll never be free.