because saviors come in strange packages


The interrogation room was crowded; Orochimaru was in custody. His chalk-colored hands were sweating as they clenched around the edges of the worn table. When the tallest man spoke—he was scarred and tanned and she thought she might like him—the fierce look on Orochimaru's face wavered.

A woman with brown hair let her hand hover over Anko's shoulder, and her fingertips crept toward the dark bruise that was stamped across Anko's neck. With a cold, strong grip, Anko twisted her arm back and listened to the cry of pain that followed.

She began an incessant, high-pitched humming, and sat watching the rain that fell beyond the only window.

The drops fell from holes in the clouds, and like bullets, they echoed on the ground; empty shells. She couldn't hear them, of course, but she noticed the way they splashed over the pavement, seeming to burst upon impact. Brutal.

Flashes of white appeared at either of Anko's sides, and then there were women gripping her elbows. As they dragged her from the window, she continued to watch the storm through the glass.

The door clinked open and the two that were holding her paused before the threshold. Both bowed their heads, said the name "Ibiki" quietly, and then resumed their march with Anko.

When she glanced back, Orochimaru was frowning slightly and the opposing man's eyes were like black ice. Anko smiled wickedly and the stranger returned the gesture, but his expression gave way to tiny fractures as if it pained him. (As if it had been a long time since he'd smiled; as if the ice was cracking)

Orochimaru flinched noticeably, and, in that moment, the conviction that Ibiki wasn't human nearly smothered her.

The lights in the hallway were bright and Anko was ten years old. The illusion that Ibiki was God had just been triggered.


The door was open, the walls were opal; the table was wooden and stained with her blood.

A breeze pushed its way through the torn curtains (they were new to Anko), and it searched the room hungrily. She slouched in the flat-backed chair and allowed the cool air to whip across her face while she bled on the table.

She was twenty-nine, and Ibiki's footsteps were noiseless against the tiles outside. Clothed in black, the shadows swam all around him as he moved. His feet never seemed to touch the ground, and he drifted in the way she imagined a phantom would. When he passed under the doorway he gave no indication that he saw Anko there. He made his way to the window, pulled the curtains open slowly, and let his hands fall away.

He turned, taking a single step aside from the window, and a pool of red dripped from Anko's face as water hailed down outside.

"They're shooting at you," She rasped out. Her throat was warm with flowing blood and medical neglect.

One of his eyebrows lifted into a rough arch—it looked to be carved onto his face—but he didn't ask.

She smiled at him and he didn't smile back.

"The clouds," She said. "They're shooting you. See the bullets?"

A moment of silence stretched itself thin, and Anko stood, going to the window. She pushed him aside with long, bent fingers, and then she stuck her head out. Her tongue was pale pink and thin, and a raindrop dissolved onto it.

After a second of hesitation, Ibiki spoke.

"How does it taste?" He asked in a low voice.

Anko grinned, more wicked than the last time, and said, "Better than ever."

She was twenty-nine and she was standing with God.

(Next time, the rain would taste terrible.)