"I have decided that my successor as Hokage shall be," Sarutobi paused, ostensibly to exhale a puff of smoke from his pipe. "Namikaze Minato."

The officiating hall was filled with gasps and murmurs of disbelief.

"But he's so young!"

"I was sure Orochimaru would be chosen."

Orochimaru blinked slowly. He could feel his body stiffen from the shock. It didn't seem real to him. Sarutobi had always favoured him. Why was the old man suddenly passing him over for his team-mate's student?

How could this have happened? His sensei had pretty much groomed him to be his heir since the academy. All the pride Orochimaru had been feeling just moments before dissolved. The sting of humiliation replaced it. His entrails seized up in an icy knot. Resisting the urge to put his hands to his stomach took a great deal out of him.

Minato stepped forward and bowed to Sarutobi. As he did, people gradually began to clap and congratulate him.

"I might have had an inkling. He does have a great teacher, after all!" Jiraiya let out a piercing laugh after his boast. With an incline of his head, he flashed everyone a smug grin.

A young girl's voice suddenly rang out, causing the crowd to fall silent. "That's not fair... My sensei deserves to be Hokage!" It was Anko. She was shaking her little fists.

Jiraiya dropped the arrogant smirk. "Hey girlie, show some respect! Orochimaru, control your student." He turned to his team-mate and shot him a nasty glare.

Those words snapped Orochimaru out of his stupefaction and challenged him to revert to his usual, impassive self. "I can reprimand her on my own, if I so choose. Just because your student is now Hokage doesn't mean you can tell me how to raise Anko," Orochimaru spat back in a lowered voice. He was trying his best to keep his composure and avoid making a scene. "Let's go, Anko-chan." He grabbed the girl by the arm and dragged her out.

Once they were outside, he let Anko go. Orochimaru put his hand over his eyes and groaned. After taking in a laboured breath, he began rubbing his temples.

"Am I in trouble?" she asked in a glum murmur. Anko was hunched over and looked to be on the verge of tears. Her jaw quivered as she averted her gaze from his.

"No, you're not in trouble," he replied gently. Orochimaru smoothed out her sleeve where he had taken hold of her and combed his fingers through her bangs. "In fact, I'm going give you a special treat later. All the dango you can eat, how does that sound?"

"Yeah!" Anko flung her arms around his waist. She looked up at him, her mouth stretched into an impish grin. A second later, her expression changed once more. Now it was a nonplused squint, though she didn't let go of him. "Huh? Wait, but why?"

He smiled at her. "Because you gave me the perfect excuse to get out of there. Sitting through that fool's accolades is the last thing I want to do right now. I wouldn't have been able to hold my tongue much longer. For that, you are to be well rewarded. Later, though, if you don't mind. I'd like to go for a walk to clear my head first."

They walked silently through the village for some time. Orochimaru had his hands in his pockets, whilst Anko's were both clinging to his left wrist. Finally, they came upon the entrance to the cemetery. "You should go pay homage to your ancestors, my dear. I'll be over here when you're done," he said.

"Yes, Orochimaru-sensei." She appeared to be slightly worried as she walked off to her parents' plot, but she didn't say anything more to him.

Once she was out of sight, he walked over to his own parents' graves. Orochimaru wanted more than ever to talk to them about what had happened; yet at the same time, he dreaded it. He could picture their disappointment in him. This day had been a slap in his face.

Mother, Father, how can I tell you that I've failed? In his mind's eye, he saw the blank, stilled eyes of his mother's severed head yet again. After all these years, it still haunted him.

Being Hokage meant everything. Once he had achieved that, he could resurrect his parents and no one would be able to question the morality of it. Now it was as if his parents were dying all over again, because he could not bring them back. They would only be ashamed. He needed to be Hokage to make up for causing their deaths. And now he was so angry with Sarutobi, Konoha meant nothing to him anymore. He despised it.

Why did Sarutobi betray him? He thought the old man cared about him. Sarutobi had been like a second father to him growing up. Orochimaru had gone several months or longer not speaking after his parents died. He would just sit numbly by their graves. It was there on that exact spot where, after a great deal of coaxing, Sarutobi had managed to get him to say something. Orochimaru admitted to the man his fear of causing more deaths by speaking.

Now it began to sink in. That duplicitous bastard had played him for a fool this whole time. Sarutobi was keeping him weak, keeping him in check. The rage permeated the fluid in Orochimaru's veins. He'd make that pitiful, old man pay for it. He'd show Sarutobi what it was like to be betrayed, and what it felt like to be caught in the dead glare of a fallen loved one's eyes.

When water remains still, it becomes stagnant and fetid. Only when it is in motion is water drinkable; a source of life. I must find a way to stir things up, to adapt. A scheme began to formulate in his head. His new goal would be to avenge himself on Konoha by razing it completely. And killing Sarutobi. The village would pay heavily for what it had done to him.

He cleared his throat. "Yes, Anko-chan?" Orochimaru didn't need visual confirmation to know that she had re-joined him. Her chakra was easy to sense as she gingerly came up behind him.

"Orochimaru-sensei, it hurts me to know you feel bad. I wish I could cheer you up." Her voice was soft and melancholic.

Orochimaru turned around to look at her. "What makes you think I need cheering up, my dear?"

"You only visit your parents' graves when something upsets you."

He gave her a weak smile. "You always were a clever girl, my Anko-chan. Yes, I suppose you've found me out. Hmm, let's keep it a secret, shall we? You're the only one I trust knowing that."

His strength began to return to him, soothing his nerves. "Ambition is the most important thing in life." He knelt down and stroked her cheek. "The day will come when I will ask of you things that seem most unreasonable. Promise me you won't back down."

Her dewy eyes blinked slowly several times as they locked with his. "I promise," she whispered, breathlessly.

"Remember this. You're the only one left who's special to me. If you betray my trust, I would be much more upset than I am now." He was still caressing her cheek, fascinated by how hot her face was getting. The girl blushed so easily. It was rather charming.

"I'd rather die than do that to you. You're my whole life!" She threw her arms around him, burying her face in his neck.

Orochimaru pulled back to place his hands on either side of her face. Leaning in once more, he stared at her for a moment before pressing his lips to her forehead in a lingering kiss. Then he held her fast. She almost made up for this crushing disappointment he was suffering. Almost.


"Come with me," he said, crouched down in front of Anko. He proffered a hand for her to take.

She merely sat there, staring blankly at him for what seemed to be aeons.

The hesitation was not a good sign. It filled him with doubt, something Orochimaru found exceedingly uncomfortable. The choice should be obvious, he thought. Don't be stupid, Anko!

Her gaze abruptly shifted off to the side.

He knew immediately that she was refusing him. The shock was cold and sickening. It felt as if his abdomen had been slit open and his intestines were splattering out onto the floor. Don't show weakness. Don't give her power over you. Let your blood be ice as far as she's concerned.

Calmly, Orochimaru got to his feet. "So be it. I'll find a more excellent child," he said with as much nonchalance as he could muster. Lying wasn't something he enjoyed, but sometimes it was the safest way to handle a volatile situation.

He took one last, brief glance at her before exiting the room. More than anything, he needed to be alone. Orochimaru started toward his private quarters. There, he would be able to vent.

Amachi followed, locking the door to Anko's cell behind them. "Orochimaru-sama, I think the experiments are still worth your time."

"Leave me," he replied, forcing his voice to maintain quiet impassivity.

His underling was not dissuaded. "But you shouldn't give up on our work up just yet." Amachi's effrontery knew no bounds.

His resolve cracked. He didn't have time for such impertinence. "Leave me before I cut off your head!" Orochimaru screamed as he slammed the door in the man's face.

Anko, you promised you wouldn't betray me, that you wouldn't leave me. You were the last person I still held precious.

There had been a profound connection between them since the night he first saw her. She was but a small child, sobbing violently upon her parents' fresh graves. Anko had screamed at the ninja who'd tried to talk her down, insisting she'd rather die than grieve another loss. He had been the same age when he was orphaned, had felt the same pain. Knowing what it was doing to her, he'd gravitated toward Anko, making her his disciple and companion.

He had seen something in her early on. It was a mixture of natural talent and an overwhelming desire to please him. She would work her fingers to the bone to gain his praise. Having him as her master was only fitting. Being the top shinobi of the Leaf, he could teach her better than anyone else so that she could live up to her full potential. Anko flourished under his tutelage.

It wasn't long before she began to see him as something more than her master. Her adoring eyes and bashful smiles were evidence of a youthful crush. After the first few years, it gave way to utter devotion and a longing for a future together as she strove to prove herself to him.

As she reached puberty, her worship was ready to become physical. Anko's ripening was palpable. He could smell her arousal whenever they were close enough to touch.

That was what he wanted, to teach her to be his concubine. Once he was truly immortal, he'd be the only one she could trust never to leave her. She'd see that no other man was worthy of having her and remain entirely his, forever, the way Tsunade should have. Yet he refused to let all her heavy breathing and fleeting glances get the better of him. He waited until she convinced him she was ready for it. In the months since, he had worked to master her body, as well as train her to please him.

She had become distant ever since he showed her his experiments. He had hoped for the reverse, that she would be the one to understand. Part of him thought giving her the curse mark would be for the best. Either he'd have more control over her or she'd die and that would end things. He'd gotten too attached, was getting too distracted from his work. Something had to change. It was time for them both to shed their skins.

He'd had faith in her ability to survive. Anko was always one to rise to a challenge. It usually took time, but she never fell short of his expectations. The one thing he hadn't considered was that she might vacillate in her obedience.

How could she refuse me? Didn't I take her in when she had no one else? Didn't I protect her and show her affection? I cared for her and she rejects me like this!

Giving her the curse mark was not a decision he made lightly. It took weeks for him to conclude that it was something that had to be done. Orochimaru left her locked in a cell after performing it, as he couldn't bear watching what might well be her death. He had hoped she'd kill Amachi when they checked on her. That would signal that the curse seal had worked, as well as get that fool out of his hair.

You promised me, Anko!

He was moulding her to be the perfect woman, better than Tsunade. That would've shown her, for this young girl he had found to surpass the greatest kunoichi of the Leaf Village. Anko had the potential. She could have been perfect. And all his.

The fact the seal didn't work had been a bit of a relief. He admired her willfulness, till it went against him. She had always looked at him with such adoration before. It made him feel so strong and powerful. When her expression turned to disgust, he felt small, crippled. He had hoped she would accept him completely - see how evil he was and love him anyway. He wanted to hear her say, take me with you.

Why does everyone leave me?

She was the only good thing left of him. The last vestige of his humanity was his connection to her. Now she had severed that tie. Without her, there was nothing to hold him back from his urges to destroy everything in his path. Why should he care about creating an ideal world without war and death? Such dreams no longer mattered when there was no one there to inspire them. All he wanted now was to dull the pain and forget he ever needed someone else.

I hate your revenge on me, Anko. You said you loved me. Was that a lie? Could you not see my feelings for you? You were the only one I let get that close.

It felt like she was stabbing him repeatedly and slashing up his torso. He still couldn't say the words, but as he had walked away from her, he realised how deeply he loved her. And that was his weakness.

He loved her more than he had loved Tsunade and now Anko was hurting him worse than Tsunade had. Yet he wasn't mad at Anko in the same way. Tsunade had become spiteful and cold; Anko had turned into a frightened child.

Perhaps it had been too soon, but he had been so anxious to share his great work with his ingénue ever since he'd made her his lover. Seducing her had backfired. She was making him long for her like a fool. His growing need for her was shaking his grip on power.

It took him back to the loneliness of his childhood. Orochimaru couldn't let anyone in again. He couldn't risk going through this hell again.

Now he realised it was a mistake not to turn her against the Leaf Village. Perhaps he had wished to spare her of that hatred while she was still young or thought it'd be natural in her. When he told her the Hokage knew about his experiments, it was true. He'd already abandoned the village. Only he hid the details from her. He should've said more. He rued the miscalculation.

He should've told her his feelings, how hurt his pride had been by the Leaf, how much he needed her, but he was afraid of showing weakness. Now she had made him weaker. Just as Tsunade had done to him. Sarutobi, as well. He'd been his father figure, only to betray him by choosing Jiraiya's lackey to be Hokage.

Perhaps Anko just didn't know what she had done. Maybe she would miss him when she found herself all alone again. Maybe he could sow the seeds that would make her return to his arms. Part of him was still clinging to her, despite his better judgement.

He began to devise a new plan. Her memory would have to be altered to prevent the Leaf from obtaining any vital intelligence on him. While he took care of that, he could also remove the memories of her defiance. If Anko were to think that he'd merely thrown her away, she would be heartbroken. Though he did want to punish her, he also hoped she'd still care about him and return one day. The process would be almost like going back in time.

She was passed out from pain and exhaustion when he returned to her cell some hours later. He picked Anko up and moved her to a nearby workroom, where he put her down on a table.

As she lay there, Orochimaru leaned over her unconscious form. He didn't mind speaking aloud, since she wouldn't be able to hear. "You were supposed to serve me, worship me, make me stronger. Instead, you make me need you constantly. I can't let you rob me of power! You should've known better. You wanted me to be immortal as much as I do. What choice do you leave me with? You've forced me to hurt you, Anko. I have to do this."

After a quick hand sign, he slammed his right palm to her forehead. This jutsu would erase her memory of their location, as well their interaction following his performing the curse seal. She couldn't be allowed to remember that she left him. Anko had to think she was the one who had been abandoned.

Even now, the sight of her aroused him. He still wanted her, still ached for her. "You stupid, stupid girl! It didn't have to be this way. You could've had everything with me!"

In a strange way, the curse mark was like a marriage proposal. Or at least as close as he'd ever get to one. Orochimaru had offered to make her permanently and completely his, leaving the choice up to her. And regardless of her answer, he'd made her part of him by linking their chakra together. It was a shackle that could not be loosened.

"Go back to the Leaf Village, Anko. Feel the mistrust and revulsion they will harbour for you. Perhaps then you will see how you've made me feel, repudiating me like this." He brushed the palm of his hand gently against her cheek. "That's right. Come crawling back to me, begging my forgiveness. You'll be mine again."

It was getting to be too much pressure. He wanted to have her, yet at the same time, wanted to hurt her. Before he could stop himself, he licked the swollen curse seal on her neck.

She twitched and sputtered a bit, most likely from the pain. Anko was out of it, but she could obviously still feel. Perhaps she'd wake up, ready to obey.

Either way, it made no difference. His mind was made up as to what he was about to do. He was already rock hard. "Selfish me, I'm going to have you one last time," he whispered against her throat. "What will it hurt? It'll be something to remember you by, my sweet girl."

Gently, he pushed up her shirt and brassiere to caress her bosom. Her breasts were soft and supple against the palms of his hands. He lowered his head to suckle and nibble them. The way her nipples hardened in his mouth excited him further.

His hands then travelled down over her stomach and seized the waistband of her shorts. He removed them and dropped them on the floor before progressing to her knickers. These he pulled down and left hanging around her right ankle. After a brief second of hesitation, he moved in to lick her clit. He lingered there a few minutes, not wanting to forget the way she tasted. Soon, he decided he was too achingly hard and had to have her immediately. A few quick movements and he'd taken his cock out of his trousers.

Orochimaru shoved himself inside her. There it was, that heat and constriction he needed to feel. Her tight, little hole was welcoming him inside as if she were awake and willing. "I can't believe this is the last time I'll have your cunt. I won't let it be! I know you'll want it again. You want it right now, don't you?" He moaned loudly. "Ay, cunt! Cunt!" His eyes rolled back in their sockets.

Anko was groaning and whimpering and was also fairly wet as he pumped himself into her. "Unconscious and yet still enjoying this... Hmm, am I that good or are you just that much of an incorrigible tart, Anko-chan?" He asked, half-expecting her to hear and understand him. "No, I'm sure it's both. Isn't it, you delicious, little tart," he laughed, as he grew more brutal with his thrusts.

She kept stirring and he was really starting to think she would come to and reach for him. After a few seconds, she began mumbling. "Orochimaru-sama... Orochimaru-sama..." It was enough to convince him she was still out of it. As such, he saw no point making sure she got off and focused solely on his own pleasure.

"You're still mine... You're never going to be free of me..." He was breathing heavily as he sped up the movement of his hips. "I've put my mark on you... Every time you look at it, you'll remember that you rightfully belong to your sensei! Your body is my possession!" With those words, he lost control and came inside her with a vicious growl.

His chest felt oddly tight as he pulled out of her. Orochimaru replaced his now flaccid cock in his pants and straightened himself up. Then he set about redressing Anko.

Orochimaru was careful about putting her clothes back on. He didn't want her looking overly dishevelled when she was found. What he did with her was no one else's business. For people to think he experimented on her was one thing, but the ANBU and Sarutobi didn't need to know she had been his lover.

Just as he finished dressing her, Orochimaru felt something hot and wet on his face. It couldn't have been semen, as that was all inside of her. He raised the tip of his finger to his cheek to examine it. Only then did he realise he was weeping. There were just a few tears, but they were enough to startle him. He thought he had lost the ability to cry years ago. "Curse you! Curse you, Anko!" he hissed. At least she wasn't awake to see him so weak. This was something he couldn't let anyone know about. He was supposed to be stronger than this.

For the first time, he found himself envying Tsunade's ability to drink herself numb. Maybe it was worth a try, if he could manage not to make it a habit. The way it usually made him sick would likely insure future temperance. There was one last thing to take care of before anything like that, though. He had to have Anko dumped somewhere in the surrounding country before she regained consciousness.

Orochimaru wiped his face and steadied his breathing, then opened the door. He quickly summoned a few of his underlings. "Get her out of here," he told them. Thankfully, his voice cooperated with his desire to appear unmoved. It came out soft and devoid of emotion. "I don't want her dead. Do you hear me? Just away from the base."