This is my quickest turnaround EVER on a story. Like, in the last fifteen minutes, I've gotten the idea, written it, proofed it, and now I'm posting it. :P But I have an unusual amount of confidence in this one. It's a little bit OOC (okay, maybe a LOT OOC, depending on your philosophies regarding the characters involved) but it's thought-provoking, and for what other reason do I do what I do?

OroAnko, from Orochimaru's "perspective."

I don't own the characters or the original story, but I hope you guys enjoy my interpretation! :D

He visited the house one time after she left.

One time.

Probably because that was all he could bear.

He never knew how much she made it a home – he never even knew that he had wanted a home. But without her blithe grins and childlike laughter, the space was empty. It echoed emptiness. The walls were dark and unpainted – a fact that had never mattered, but suddenly made it seem desperately bleak. And not in a good way, either.

Maybe he had been able to look past it before because she was always jumping up and down beside him and capturing all his attention.

The bed that had been hers – when she hadn't awoken in fear of a storm and begged to sleep beside him – looked tinier and barer than ever without her dirty laundry strewn across it.

The kitchen-space was dusty but perfectly uncluttered, the way he had always tried to teach her to keep it.

But now, for whatever reason, he hated it.

Where were the drips from the brown-sauce she mixed for those blasted dumplings she loved so much? It had always stained the countertops, and he had yelled at her countless times for failing to wipe it off right after it made contact.

Where was the batter-covered mixing bowl that nearly always collected runoff water in his sink? She always said she was leaving it there to "soak" so that it would be easier to wash later. But somehow, she always seemed to "forget" to retrieve it and wash it properly once the hardened batter had soaked away.

Those things were gone.

To the same place she had gone, wherever that was.

He knew it was his fault, too.

He had refused to let all those little things change him. They were forever in his mind a nuisance rather than a blessing. And she a pawn rather than a little girl who admired everything about him. A girl who would have followed him to the ends of the earth, had he let her.

But no.

He had pushed her away in the worst way possible – by pulling her close and disappointing her. Building her up for the fall by encouraging her and then throwing her away once his experiment was complete.

She ran off somewhere after she was found. She never wanted to see him again, and with good reason. There were better lives for those as gifted as she, and none of them involved someone as cold and manipulative as he. She is gone – the change in the house is permanent.

And that is why he misses the dirty dishes.