Orochimaru stared at his parents' graves sadly, and fought back the urge to cry.
The six year old genius silently told himself that true shinobi never displayed emotion.
He turned around quickly, someone was coming.
"Orochimaru… What are you doing?" Tsunade asked quietly.
"Nothing," he answered, wishing that she would go away, and leave him be.
Since his parents had died, he never had a moment to himself to think; it felt like people were always watching him. He didn't understand why, and it bothered him.
"No one ever liked me before, and now that my parents are gone…they won't leave me alone. They pity me…" he thought angrily.
"You should go home to sensei's, and eat something," Tsunade lectured. "You look hungry."
"Just leave me alone, Tsunade," Orochimaru answered quietly. "Just because you're a year older than me doesn't mean you know everything."
She blinked in surprise, "What's happened to you, Oro? You've been so mean lately," she said.
"I don't feel well, and people won't leave me alone," Orochimaru replied. "I just need to be left alone!" he added, shouting; a few tears falling down his face.
Tsunade took a few steps back, she'd never seen the shy boy cry before.
"You miss them, don't you?" she asked softly, walking over to him.
"Of course I do! Wouldn't you miss your parents if they died??" Orochimaru demanded, anger and despair mixing together in his golden eyes.
"I would," Tsunade admitted, starting to put an arm around Orochimaru's shaking shoulders, but he pushed it away.
"Leave me alone." he said through clenched teeth. "Go away."
Tsunade's temper flared, "Fine! Just sit here alone with dead people!" she shouted, running off. "Dead people who will never come back! Never!"
Orochimaru blinked, she had hurt him, "Better dead people than you!" he shouted back, bursting into more tears. His heart so much, why couldn't he just be left alone to heal?
He cried, and sobbed until he was sore, and his eyes were out of tears. He laid down, and looked up at the stars; the wind blew over him coolly, and lulled him into a fitful sleep.
Sarutobi walked up quietly, "There you are, Orochimaru." he whispered, gently picking up the boy.
"Mother… Father… No, don't go away!" the boy cried out in his sleep; thrashing in his sensei's arms.
Sarutobi looked down sadly at the boy; he held him tighter in an attempt to comfort him. Tears ran freely down his student's face, and Sarutobi felt his heart twang for the hurting boy.
"He must learn to get through his pain on his own though," Sarutobi thought. "We need geniuses like him to win this war; he has to move on from this loss, and become stronger."
"Orochimaru, how would you like to learn a new jutsu?" Sarutobi asked.
The boy smiled at him weakly, "That sounds…nice, sensei." he said softly.
Sarutobi smiled at the boy encouragingly, and hoped that training would perk up his student a bit.
"I'm going to teach you the fire-ball jutsu." he said. "So, build up your chakra into your chest."
Orochimaru nodded, "Yes, sensei," he said, closing his eyes in concentration.
"Wait, I have to show you the hand signs first," Sarutobi said with a slight chuckle.
Orochimaru opened his eyes quickly, a bit embarrassed, and watched diligently as Sarutobi performed the hand signs.
"Now, you try." Sarutobi said. Orochimaru copied the hand signs exactly, but his fireball was merely a cloud of smoke, and sparks.
The pale boy scowled in frustration; he was an impatient person.
"It's okay, don't be frustrated; you can't expect to get everything right on the first try," Sarutobi said, smiling at him.
Orochimaru smiled back politely, but there was no joy behind it. He quickly formed the hand signs again, closed his eyes in concentration for a few moments, and then breathed out a small line of fire; after a few seconds, it flickered out of existence.
"See, practice makes perfect." Sarutobi said kindly. "Just keep practicing, and you'll have it in no time."
"Yes, sensei." Orochimaru answered, already forming the hand signs again.
Sarutobi smiled, and walked off to see to Jiraiya, and Tsunade.
"Where is Orochimaru?" Sarutobi asked Jiraiya, the next day.
"He's out practicing that jutsu you taught him yesterday, sensei." Jiraiya answered, not even looking up from a notebook that he was urgently writing in.
"I see." Sarutobi answered. "Well, go tell him to come in for lunch."
"I told him it was lunch time already," Jiraiya complained. "He said he wasn't hungry."
Sarutobi frowned, he didn't want Orochimaru to overwork himself, "I'll go." he said to the white-haired boy.
"Okay," Jiraiya said with a quick shrug.
Sarutobi walked out the door, and into the backyard of his home; he saw Orochimaru forming the hand signs fixatedly. Sarutobi frowned worriedly; he didn't like the look of obsession in his student's golden eyes. "Orochimaru," he called.
Orochimaru started in surprise, Sarutobi had startled him, "Yes, sensei?" he questioned.
"It's lunch time; come in, and eat." the man answered.
"I'm not hungry, sensei." Orochimaru said softly, but then his stomach growled loudly.
"That's not what your body says," Sarutobi said, amused. "Have you even eaten today?"
"Uhmm," Orochimaru said, stalling from having to give an answer.
"Have you?" Sarutobi asked again, raising an eyebrow.
"No, sensei…" Orochimaru admitted. "But, I haven't been hungry."
"Well, you are now. So let's go eat some lunch, okay?" Sarutobi said, taking the boy's left hand, and taking him inside. He gave the boy some ramen, and a glass of milk.
"Thank you, sensei," Orochimaru said; he took a sip of the milk. It felt good against his dry throat.
He felt a pain stab through his heart, "How can I feel good when they're dead? It's wrong…" he thought.
He took another sip of milk, and ignored how nice it felt; he decided that he was only drinking it so he wouldn't die.
Sarutobi noted the dark look in Orochimaru's eyes, and wondered what was troubling the boy so.
"He's probably just thinking about his parents again," he decided.
Orochimaru ate his ramen quickly, and finished the last of his milk.
Walking over to the sink, he began to wash his dishes. When he was finished, he turned towards Sarutobi, "Thank you, sensei." he said, starting to walk towards the door.
"You're welcome, but tell me, where are you going?" Sarutobi asked.
"Back out to train." Orochimaru said, responding automatically to the question.
"Why don't you rest for a bit?" Sarutobi replied.
"I really want to practice the fireball jutsu though, sensei." Orochimaru said, looking back at Sarutobi.
"You can tomorrow, go rest for a few minutes, and then we'll go work on taijutsu; okay?" Sarutobi ordered kindly, but firmly.
"Yes, sensei," Orochimaru said with a small sigh. He walked to his room, and laid back on his bed; his thoughts swirling around in his head confusedly. He felt sick from all the conflicted emotions welling up inside of him; they threatened to choke him with their painful intensity.
"Mother…" he whispered, and then he scowled. "No, I can't keep doing that. They didn't die just so I could cry out for them all the time." he told himself.
He closed his eyes, and took a deep breath, trying to still his thoughts, and feelings; he had to control them.
That was one of the things that a shinobi must be able to do; he mustn't show emotion.
By the time Sarutobi knocked on his door, Orochimaru had shut his emotions off, and most of his thoughts were still, but his heart was suffocating.
"Ready to go train?" Sarutobi asked with a smile.
"Yes, sensei. I am." Orochimaru answered, following the man outside.
Sarutobi set his three students to practicing kicks, and he watched them as they worked.
Orochimaru practiced with a furious, almost obsessed intensity.
Tsunade worked diligently, and Jiraiya…was trying to kick with flair.
Sarutobi shook his head, and smiled at the white-haired boy's antics.
The next day, Orochimaru finally did what he considered a perfect fireball jutsu.
He fell to the ground, exhausted from practicing all day. He smiled, despite the fact that he was panting from being so tired; mastering the jutsu had filled up a bit of the emptiness inside of him.
He ran inside, "Sensei! I can do it!" he called out.
Sarutobi walked in, and looked at the boy, "Were you able to do the jutsu?" he asked patiently.
"Yes, sensei! Come and see!" Orochimaru answered excitedly.
Sarutobi smiled, and followed the boy out the door.
Orochimaru grinned, performed the hand signs, and concentrated his chakra.
When he breathed out, a column of fire came from his mouth; it held for five minutes before wavering away.
Sarutobi was impressed at the boy's talent, yet again.
"Very good, Orochimaru!" he praised.
Orochimaru smiled, "Thank you, sensei."
The feeling of accomplishment spread through him, and gave the boy a sort of happiness.
Sarutobi ruffled the boy's hair, "The way you work at things, you'll be doing all sorts of jutsu in no time." he said, then he smiled, and walked inside.
Orochimaru continued grinning, if just one jutsu made him feel this way; how good would he feel after learning more? Would it take the emptiness away, and save him from the thoughts, and feelings that wouldn't leave him be? He began to feel a desperate need to learn more, before the darkness swallowed him up.
[Eight Years Later]
"Sensei…is Orochimaru…sick?" Tsunade asked casually.
"No, not that I know of at least; why do you ask?" Sarutobi questioned.
"I haven't seen him come out of his room all day…" Tsunade admitted.
"He's probably studying, like always; that weirdo." Jiraiya quipped.
"Now Jiraiya, being studious never hurt anyone," Sarutobi said with a slight frown.
"Yeah, but that's all he does, sensei." Jiraiya answered. "It's like he's addicted to it, or something."
"Addicted…" Sarutobi echoed quietly.
"Yeah, or obsessed maybe," Jiraiya added. "Haven't you noticed how much he stays locked up studying, sensei?"
Sarutobi sighed, "Yes, I have, but I hadn't realized that it had been going on for so long, yet now that I think on it…"
"He only comes out of his room for training with all of us, missions, and occasionally to eat." Tsunade said, filling the silence.
"Hmm, I'm going to go check on him." Sarutobi said, getting up, and heading to the boy's room.
He tapped on the door, "Orochimaru…?" he called, and waited several minutes, but there was no answer.
Sarutobi frowned, and opened the door; the first thing he saw were all the books, and scrolls spread out on the boy's floor, and desk. He found Orochimaru asleep at his desk, a book under his head; obviously the boy had fallen asleep while studying.
"That's unlike him," Sarutobi thought, looking towards the boy's bed, it was perfectly made up.
"You haven't been sleeping, have you, Orochimaru?" he thought, deeply concerned. He pulled the covers back on the bed, walked over to the desk, and gently picked up his student. He laid the pale boy in bed, and pulled the covers over him.
"He's normally wide-awake by now, how tired must he be if his senses haven't alerted him, yet?" Sarutobi wondered, as he walked out of the room, and quietly shut the door.
"Is he okay?" Tsunade asked, seeing her sensei.
"He fell asleep studying, that's all." Sarutobi answered. "But, I think that perhaps you, and Jiraiya should try to get him to do things besides studying."
Tsunade nodded, "I'll try my best, sensei, but you know how Orochimaru is; he's very stubborn." she said."I know," Sarutobi answered. "But, perhaps if you keep after him enough, he'll change his mind." he added with a sly smile. Tsunade giggled, and nodded.
Orochimaru woke up a few hours later, and was startled to find himself in bed, "Sensei must've checked up on me," he realized with a small frown. Getting up, he ignored his growling stomach, and his dry throat; he had more studying to do. He sat down at the old wooden desk again, and picked up the book he'd been studying. He focused intently on the instructions for the Striking Shadow Snakes jutsu; it didn't matter to him that it was forbidden, jutsu was jutsu and that's all there was to it. He smiled; this one was actually a bit of a challenge, but he would overcome it just as easily as he had the others.
The door swung open, softly, and Sarutobi walked in, "Ah, I see you're awake. Studying again, are you?" he asked.
Orochimaru nodded, "I want to be a great shinobi," he said simply.
Sarutobi frowned, "I believe it is time you took a break for today," he said, it was a nicely put order.
Orochimaru continued to read, "I have to get better, sensei," he replied.
Sarutobi took in his student's expression, the boy was reading the book determinedly, as if he were desperately searching for a cure to something within its pages. The boy looked thin, almost as if he were wasting away. "When was the last time you ate something?" he asked sternly.
"Why is that important, sensei?" Orochimaru asked, still reading.
Sarutobi deftly took the book from the boy's hands and shut it, "Look at you, Orochimaru." he said concernedly, and firmly.
"What about me?" Orochimaru demanded; he wanted his book back, and for his sensei to leave him to his studying.
"You look like you've been struck with some illness." Sarutobi said, his brow furrowed. "Now, tell me, when was the last time you've eaten something?"
Orochimaru sighed, and thought for a few minutes; finally he shrugged. "I don't know, maybe the day before yesterday." he answered uncaringly.
"Come on," Sarutobi said firmly, taking the boy's hand and pulling him to his feet. "You're going to eat something now."
Orochimaru sighed again, "I'll eat after I study, sensei." he stated.
"No, you will eat now, Orochimaru." Sarutobi said. "Even if I have to force you to."
Orochimaru scowled, but allowed Sarutobi to pull him into the kitchen.
"Sit." Sarutobi ordered, pointing at a chair.
"Yes, sensei." Orochimaru answered coldly, and sat down.
"I understand that you want to be an excellent ninja, and I'm proud that you take extra time to study, but you have to do other things as well. Studying so much isn't good for you." Sarutobi said gently.
"But, I like to study…" Orochimaru said quietly. "It makes me…happy."
Sarutobi frowned, "I understand, but Orochimaru; you need to find other things that make you happy too. Your studying is becoming…obsessive; I don't approve. You aren't taking good care of yourself, either." he said.
"I'm okay…" Orochimaru said quietly, not looking at his sensei.
Sarutobi sighed, and set a bowl of soup in front of the boy, along with a glass of tea.
"Eat," he ordered.
"Yes, sensei." Orochimaru answered, beginning to slowly eat.
After that talk, Orochimaru became more secretive about his studying. He started studying late at night, or alone at the library; away from Sarutobi's concerned eyes.
The need to learn more jutsu was such a strong urge now, Orochimaru didn't even feel himself being swallowed up by it. Sarutobi could see the shadows under the young boy's eyes, and the vastly growing knowledge hidden just beneath the surface of those golden orbs…the lust for more of it. It made Sarutobi shudder, but he wasn't sure what to do, so he simply pretended that he could not see it.
(Many Years Later)
Orochimaru cut the body with an easy precision; the motion sent shivers of pleasure down his spine.
It was the first step to finding a new jutsu. He smiled, and made another incision; this body was the first of many it would take to make his dream come alive.
A/N: Another Orochimaru one shot; I really enjoyed writing this one. It's part of my theory that Orochimaru was once a very kind person, but his parents death drove him to what he is today.
Perhaps his immortality jutsu was a step down a path that he believed would bring them back to him? Please review!