Rating: T Rated for blood, slight language, and angst.

Beta: WhyMustIWrite! Seriously, go read her stuff! (Normally, I would plug her story Not Over Until the Paperwork Is In, but it has come to my attention how overlooked her amazing story Crisis is, so be a good little ninja and go check it out, and her new story Of Sake and Subterfuge! I'll wait...)

Inspiration: The incredible song "What I've Done" by Linkin Park, and http :/besidequietwaters .deviantart .com /art /here -for -you -color -157761423

^Remove the spaces and give a peek, will ye?

Edit: 12/12/10. Decided I didn't like Anko's murderous streak and re-wrote the fight scene. Because there's no way Konoha would let her live after something like that, so I had to tweak it a little. Don't worry, sensei, I didn't change anything you liked... the Line is still there. And once I actually write the fight scene for the story I'll probably have to revise it again.

Disclaimer: I do not own. If I did... Never mind. I'd mess it up big time.


Regrets

Anko never expected to die alone in a cold, godforsaken cell. She had always believed that her fate lay in the field, like most shinobi, had always trained and prepared for it. After all, death on the field is the dream of all shinobi, isn't it? To die gloriously in battle, taking scores of the enemy with you, forever to go down in your home village as a revered name.

Wild eyes, wide with disbelief, staring at the blood on her blade, at the fallen body. "You killed him. You killed your own teammate!"

That was beyond her reach now. Konoha would never accept her back after what she had done, and Oto had just abandoned her, leaving her all alone to die.

Die. It was an odd word, she mused as she pulled her knees up to her chest. So short, just like the action it entailed. One minute you breathed, the next you didn't. Like Iruka.

"Hey Anko, look at me!"

"Idiot, you're going to fall!"

"Whoooaah!"

"Iruka!"

"Hahaha, fooled you!"

"Baka! Stop messing around!" He ignored her and laughed, swaying back and forth on the bottom of the tree branch, his chakra the only thing between him and a 50-foot drop.

She still remembered that mischievous grin of his. He was always smiling, ready with a joke or a kind word to smooth things over and lighten the mood. She had hated him at first. His emotions were practically pouring off him, screaming "I'm a target! Kill me!" He never took things seriously, cracking puns and pulling pranks, with a fiery temper to boot, making her wonder yet again just what Orochimaru-sensei saw in such an idiot.

"Don't touch my teammates. I'll kill you if you harm even one hair on their heads, you bastard!"

But as timed passed, she realized that he was strong in ways that she could never be. He quickly forgave every insult, every misdemeanor, no matter how damaging it had been. When those precious to him were in danger, he would put his life on the line to protect them, willing to die to keep them safe. The ill-fated mission to Kiri had proved that, beyond a doubt. But most of all, even after losing everything precious to him, he dared to love, dared to give away still more pieces of his heart.

She laughed bitterly. Ironic that he would die with his heart cloven in two.

She didn't know when it began. All she knew was that slowly, surely, she began to envy him for his strength, for the Will he had that she did not. She kept her frustration hidden under a mask of cheer, letting it uneasily simmer under the surface until Orochimaru-sensei confronted her.

"Come with me, Anko. I will make you strong."

His words rang in her head and, almost on cue, her Cursed Seal throbbed painfully. She reached her hand to the back of her neck and covered it. It was, she realized too late, the wrong kind of strength, but that was beside the point. Power had little to do with why she left, no matter how much she lied to herself, claiming that it was. Shinobi do not have emotions, have no strong bonds- that was the accepted rule. But this, she knew, was a lie. Orochimaru-sensei had been everything to her, if he left Konoha and she remained behind, she would wither and die like an uprooted tree. She just wanted to be loved, and if going with him and abandoning everything she had ever known was the only way to know love, then by hell she would.

But their pursuers did not give up so easily- Orochimaru-sensei was busy fighting with Jiraiya-senpai, leaving her alone to face Iruka. He had attacked her with words, cool words that tried to bring her to her senses. But she was beyond redeeming, the Cursed Seal eating at her mind like acid to flesh and no amount of cold water could penetrate the pain, the fear of being unloved. She had screamed at him, cursing him and all he stood for, damning him for getting between her and, she thought, the only person who truly cared for her.

"Fine. You do what you want Iruka, just get out of my way."

Something flared in his eyes and he settled into a battle stance. With bright tears shining in his eyes, he drew a line in the sand. "While I breathe, you're not going to take one step past this line!"

"Dammit, move, will you! Get out of our way!"

"You'll have to kill me first!"

"Sen'eijashu!"

"Kaze kama!"

In the end, they had fought- he with the cold, calculating intellect he rarely brought into the light, tears streaming down his face; she with the feral rage of a beast battling for its very survival, only concerned of getting past him so she could be with the one who loved her, so she could become stronger to protect him and his dreams.

Then it had all gone wrong. She had thought too much into his plan, thought that the wind scythe aimed at her head was another illusion. Too late did she realize that it was very real. If Iruka hadn't countered it with another of his elemental jutsu she would undoubtedly be dead now. And while he was off guard, panting from the exertion of using two powerful elemental jutsu within a minute, she automatically struck.

He had fallen to his knees, she remembered, and his brown eyes looked into hers. She would never forget his face. Shock, sorrow, and... she didn't know what else. Affection? Yes, that was it. Affection for the monster that killed him, even as his body fell to the cold ground, even as his breath left his body in a bloody gasp.

Iruka had once told her that he would protect her with his life. And he had. He fell trying to protect her from herself.

She had thought nothing of it then, concerned with nothing other than staying by sensei's side, leaving Iruka's dying body for the carrion fowl and beasts, ignoring the shouts of a man she had once respected in her haste to flee. When the seal deactivated, though... then it hit her, the enormity of what she had done. His blood still stained her hands, her face, tainting them a sickening crimson. Soap and water would take care of that, Orochimaru-sensei had said, no emotion coloring his voice. And no matter how much she tried to convince herself otherwise, she knew that she would never be clean again.

She clung to Orochimaru's side, afraid of what she had become, of where she was going, sure of the one man who could protect her now that the others were gone. Hayate would never forgive her for killing Iruka, whom he'd viewed as the little brother he never had; Mizuki could never understand her shame, her sin; and Iruka was... not an option. So she adhered to Orochimaru, obeying his every whim, ignoring her shame and burying it deep within; afraid that he would leave her alone with her pain if she failed in the slightest.

Alone. To be alone... all alone... that was what she feared most, the terror that dogged her with everything she did. And now, here it was and here she was, ending the dance of deception she had long swayed to.

She laughed at the irony of it all, louder and louder until her dungeon echoed with the voice of her shame and agony. Orochimaru had left her anyway, abandoned her because she couldn't kill a boy.

He had only been in the wrong place at the wrong time, nothing more... those innocent brown eyes so scared, so much like Iruka's. She had killed many people at Orochimaru's behest, but never a child. A small, helpless little boy... how could she? How could she take the last bit of humanity left within her and destroy it, even for someone who cared for her? Iruka had cared for her and she had...

No, she did not kill the boy, despite the fact that he had seen too much, seen their master plan. She couldn't. The Kiri nin had come upon them and her rock in the stormy sea of life had abandoned her.

She flopped on her back, looking up to the sky before a bitter smile spread across her face. She was sixteen years old. She had done a hell of a lot of things that she regretted and a lot she didn't, but she knew that if she could do it over... she would have rather died than feel like this. Now she understood Iruka's pain, now she knew what it was like to lose everything. There was nothing left for her now.

Anko remained there alone, long after the sun set and the night came on. She wondered if she would live to see the dawn. If it was even worth living to see.


So, what do you think? Wanna see more? Yes? No? Pickles? Then tell me, and if you didn't check out Crisis, please do. You'll be doing yourself a favor. (And there's alway Of Sake and Subterfuge...)

*Sen'eijashu- Hidden Shadow Snake Hands (The one where you shoot snakes from your sleeves.)

Note: According to the anime, Land of the Sea Arc, this is not canon. They claim that Anko left Orochimaru, but he somehow wiped her memories...? This is Manga Verse: He left her.

(Here I cut a huge rant about how awesome Iruka Gaiden was compared to the other fillers and if they would only cut or rewrite a few things it would be the best arc since Episode One!)

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