AN: Okay, THIRD time uploading this... Blah blah blah, Kon's in deep sh*t now. Review. Rawr.
"And just how many 'everythings' are there?" the dark shape spat back at me.
"As many as there are grains of sand in the desert, Lord Kazekage." I shot back. "As the greatest son of the desert, I'm sure you have their count…"
Something was creeping across the floor, fat and full of blood and breath and venom; their tongues hissed on open air, tasting, searching for my heat in the perpetual darkness which snakes live all of their days. Their eyesight is no good, you see. They search with their tongues, see with their mouthes-
His voice was as quiet as the dainty scrape of their exquisite scales across the bamboo-mat floor. "How quickly you die depends on how much you decide to reveal to us."
I swallowed the wretch waiting at the base of my stomach; I couldn't imagine what showing fear to Orochimaru would imply. I knew better than to think that I could lie to him…
Wait. Itachi would banish him, and Sasuke would kill his current body; Kabuto would soak up his evil essence, but deep down Orochimaru was just one more orphan of hatred. He'd had several lifetimes to gather both knowledge and hatred, but his own pride would indefinitely do him in. It's happened enough in my old world. I couldn't reveal, however, that I knew his real name- but I also couldn't be too forthright in my insistence that he was the Kazekage, or he would get suspicious… wouldn't he?
"No true kunoichi begs for their life, you will find." I growled in reply. The snakes were circling my heels now, nibbling my ankles with their papery feeler-tongues. My gut seized with terror at the kindling sensation. Would I be so brave if they began to eat me alive?
"You told the Sunagakure Siblings that you knew of the alliance between the Sound and Sand villages, point blank," came the blank voice, cutting through my opposition like a knife. "You mentioned one key leader of the movement by name- Orochimaru. Even the aids outside do not know his name. How did you get ahold of this information?"
One key leader- he was trying to mislead me by implicating some larger organization. He'd made up a pissing contest, to frighten me and anyone listening. He wanted me to bite.
"A child of your rank could by no means hold such an important position in a resistance movement- and yet your performance at the Chuunin Preliminaries indicates that you possess a great amount of power, which you choose to mask very…creatively." I could hear the slap of a manila folder hitting the ground; at its cry the snakes' long bodies started. " Miss… Kon-san, you are clearly a 'kunoichi' of some importance. Maybe you truly are not strong, but your subversivity lends you well to the infiltration of this bi-country alliance. How long has Konoha been anticipating our movements?"
"They aren't. The Hokage, the Black Ops, name a Konoha force- I've told no one."
"This is correlated by the brain-draining techniques which we performed on a few high-ranking Shinobi," Orochimaru acknowledged, still in steel. "You must be in a private entreaty with the Hokage, then… But your appearance is quite startling. There are no records anywhere in the village of your existence, or the Sound Country's vast acquaintance. You appear to be a ghost, Miss Kon."
You have no idea how hard it was not to outright snort at that. I kept deathly quiet, nothing to go on. Orochimaru was a great planner and guesser; my only hope now was to trap him in one of his own suppositions…if that were possible.
"The Hokage knows nothing of your secret treaty." That much was the truth. "Perhaps you are familiar, Lord Kazekage, with the occult arts?"
"My heritage is a secret I do prefer to keep…but if they had questioned the person who knows me best, your aids might have discovered that I am in possession of a rare talent: I'm a fortune teller, a gypsy of sorts." This had better work…
The snakes were now flush with my ankles, gripping tightly with their dry might at the single gesture of the Kazekage's hand. Why would Orochimaru use his snakes, if he suspected that I knew less than I was revealing? It was a private signal between us- or was it? One assumption, and it was all over…I couldn't read him to save my life…
"You mean to tell me that some child's art has enabled you to read into country alliances? Perhaps you need an example of how slowly we can kill you…"
"That won't be necessary. What phase is the moon in, Lord Kazekage?"
A pause. I was tipping him off balance. His thick neck swished, and I caught sight of the silhouette of Gaara's father's flesh, animated by the unholy will of this snake monster. "The moon is full," he announced suspiciously.
"Perfect. I can give a display of my abilities to confirm this…and potentially more. Have one of your aids bring a pack of Tarot cards, if they can find some at this hour. Maybe the Kazekage's daughter has a pair. I promise, it'll be worth the wait."
"I certainly hope so… for your sake, my dear."
In the bull-shitting Olympics: Kon, one, Orochimaru, zero.
"You foretold the truth, in that regard," I was informed after the silent assistant had delivered to the Kazekage a cloth-bound bundle of cards. Good thing they had them in the Naruto world...
I had never held a Tarot card before in my life; I'd had my future read at a sleepover once, and had found the predictions to be entirely false (the blonde girl 'reading' me had said I would have an ordinary life, and that I would live to a ripe old age. Phh.) I hoped my ignorance would appear novel instead of foolish. With a careful gesture I splayed the deck out in a fan-shape before me; the room was still so dark that I could barely see, but the snakes had retreated for my show.
"Please state the name of the person who's future you would like to forsee. I can also tell events from the past and usually predict major events, if you would like." I tried to say calmly.
"Show me the death of Sarutobi Hiruzen," Orochimaru immediately snarled.
This was just like the scene from The Man Who Would Be King, where Peachy and Daniel travel with the hostile Muslims by pretending to be airy mystics; this irony was not lost on me. I instructed 'Kazekage-sama' to chant the name of his desired object…which took some convincing, but he eventually began mumbling his teacher's real name as requested. I deftly flipped cards one after the other, folding and shuffling with my best Poker face. After a showy flip of hand, I drew the first card off of the top and stared for a moment.
"It's really freaking dark in here, you know?"
The Kazekage's hand lit upon an oil lamp I hadn't even seen; instantly a wallfull of others leapt to life, through what I guessed to be some type of Fire-type jutsu. Returning to my card, I realized that it was upside-down. I quickly flipped it.
"Why did you do that?"
"What?" I asked non-chalantly.
"Why did you read the card upside-down?" the man barked. I could now make out where the snakes had gone, in the soft light. They were folded like an altar scene behind Orochimaru's crouched form, their olive skin shimmering.
"To make sure that I didn't miss a true meaning," I replied cheerfully (this was exactly what the blonde girl had told me when I'd asked her the same thing). I had drawn, naturally, the Death card. I touched my forehead furitively, as though I were receiving a message from beyond. "Now, I can't find usually find just one event like death, I should let you know; it's the luck of the deck, but… ah, yes. I see him in the stomach of a beast. The monkey there could have eaten him… but there are some old guys who look kind of like him too, a wall of wood and water... Everything's kind of purple."
Well, there was no way I could have known all of Orochimaru's plan, even if Sarutobi had told me about his proficiency with Edo Tensei- I'd "predicted" the barrier technique which the Sound Four would employ, the resurrection of the Ni- and Shodaime Hokages plus Sarutobi's familial connection to them, Sarutobi's summon, Monkey King Enma… The others were explainable, but how could I have known about the Sound Four, or which of the four Hokages he would choose?
"Show me the death of Uchiha Itachi," Orochimaru growled.
Reshuffling, the murmur of the lost Uchiha's name; Sasuke himself wouldn't know the truth for five years. The Young Lovers card. "That child, there…" I murmured blearily, eyes shut tightly.
"Black hair, kind of like a duck's ass… He's firing lightning, channeling it down from the sky as if he owned it, and the sorrow- it's swallowing up the form of this other young man with long, dark hair... which one is Uchiha Itachi, sir?"
"Show me the death of Aramaki and Nagako Shirohebi," he snarled finally.
Ouch. How was I supposed to know who they were? Wait- I was sure I'd heard one of those words as one of the many I'd had to learn just to become minimally literate in Japanese writing… Which one was it for? Could there be a clue in their names?
"… Ah. Your parents."
I could hear him startle before even the light had traveled to my side of the room; Orochimaru's parents had been killed in one of the many Great Shinobi Wars, I remembered from somewhere. All of the names he'd been asking after had been of people he had known personally- Sarutobi was his teacher, Itachi his first choice for a vessel- It was a spot-on guess, and one that could have meant my end- if I hadn't been such a good student.
"Shiro" meant 'white', and "hebi" 'snake'- the inspiration for the man before me's evil true form. That's where he'd gotten it from: he could have picked an elephant or a platypus- but it had to be a white snake, for its symbolism and meaning to him.
"They died…horribly. I see horror, rage. There's ruins everywhere; a torrent of absolute destruction… there's little boy surrounded by fire… I think he might be trying to…"
That did it. The snakes struck out, snatching my arm as it placed one more frighteningly-illustrated card onto the mats. The robes of the Suna Shadow had rolled back to reveal white forearms, silken with everlasting youth- the arms of a man who could never die…or so he thought.
"There's no possible way that you could see that!-" he shouted shrilly, but as lost as if he were standing in the center of a tornado. "Even Sarutobi- I never told him- I was the only survivor of my clan!"
I trembled within the tightening grasp of the snakes; I'd hit the only raw nerve that this evil, evil man possessed. Shit, I was lucky!
"And yet I see," was my response. I dropped the card, allowing it to waft back to the ground with the whisper a life makes as it is extinguished. It was the only sound in the room, for some time.
"What were the chances of forseeing three deaths in a row, in that fashion?" he finally asked; I couldn't see the Kazekage's face any longer.
"My skill is directly related to the will of the person who is requesting the reading. I'd expect nothing less of a Kage. Someone with a will as strong as yours indeed asked me of the intentions of his country, and I saw Konoha's downfall at the Sound and Sand's hand." Lies, but effective ones. "I can't name names, of course...but this Shinobi is now dead."
The silence reigned supreme for some time; when I heard the cackle roil to his lips, I cut Konoha's greatest threat off, before he could look up at me and throw a reply.
"You won't kill such a valuable asset, would you? But there's a catch, sir… the people who's wills I read are inevitably cursed. How so? I've seen enough of my friends die, after an innocent reading during the early days of discovering this talent…"
More silence, less of a chance of success. How much superstition could I count on him possessing?
"After the reading, I must disappear forever from that person…for to see me again is the promise of a gruesome, immediate death. Like a doppelganger… are you familiar with dopplegangers, sir?"
Shifting; white skin, unspeakable ivory.
" I could be lying. All it would take to see if I was would be to look up, right now... Sir, I ask only to be left alone. I revealed my knowledge to the Sand Siblings just as a boon of the moment, to escape from Gaara in the Forest of Death. I would be no match against him, as you surely know. I'm just trying to make a life for myself, here- I read your countryman's fortune because he offered me a lot of money, and I haven't revealed my talent to Konoha just because of the curse I mentioned. I love this village, and for that reason I won't endanger them by cursing any member of it. I have told no one your secret, and I will never tell another soul, just to wrap them up in this sordid blight of mine."
Quiet. More quiet. So quiet in the snake's grasp, like impenetrable forks-
"If I am ever an enemy of the Sand, it will be on a battlefield alone. No celestial tricks. I won't approach you, if you won't approach me."
"Get out," he whispered, the moment shattering.
"… Thank you, sir," I mumbled. A bow; backing out of the room, the snakes slothing back to their unholy master as he sat in the middle of the oil-lit space, refusing to look up at my accursed person.
"Huuuhh… Psycho-Bitch? What are you doing here at this hour!"
"Thank you, sir" was all I could manage. "Thank you, sir. Thank you, sir… Oh my god, Naruto…Naruto, I'm scared… I'm so scared! OH GOD!"
"Woah, woah, what the hell! Kon-chan! Here, come inside with me… God only knows what you've been doing out there." Softer, now, as he stepped out of the door to catch my single arm: "There's nothing to be afraid of, Psycho-Bitch. I'm here…"
Gaara had been my chaperone; he would wait outside of the window all night, lest I tried to escape and inform the Hokage of my 'meeting' with the Kazekage. Orochimaru was there, real- he had held me in his clutches and I had barely escaped. He'd let me live, uncertain of how he could use me- for that was what Orochimaru did. No more. I couldn't live this way anymore.
I fell against Naruto's chest, not caring about anything but his proximity; as I sobbed into his chest, I apologized again and again for coming. He thought I meant this late-night trip, and told me I was fine; I was talking about my arrival in this universe.