a/n: Hello! I'm sorry it's been so long since I've last updated! College (apparently) demands a lot of attention and time and has thusly been consuming my life. For those of you who I owe message replies to, I'm sorry! I shall reply to everyone as soon as I have a chance! I'm going to try and update my SasoDei alphabet sometime soon, too. So for now, please enjoy this. and Forgive me for my absence!
Disclaimer: I, unfortunately, do not own Naruto. The plotline of this story is only half my own, seeing as I'm attempting to stay similar to the original plotline. The only thing I really completely own would be Keiko.
Sasuke and I stood next to each other, staring blankly ahead. The door to Orochimaru's chamber resided to my right as I had my back pressed against the wall. Sasuke's arms were crossed over his chest, his signature apathetic look plastered across his features.
The sound of light footsteps quickly filled the corridor and we instantly were alert. I pushed myself off the wall and turned to face the direction of the noise while Sasuke only showed that he heard the noise by turning his eyes in the general direct. A moment later, Kabuto emerged from the shadows.
"I see you both made it," He said, tone controlled.
"Hn," Sasuke turned his attention elsewhere.
I smiled up at Kabuto, "Hai!"
Kabuto's gaze lingered on Sasuke for a moment, his eyes narrowing at the teenager. A soft sigh escaped his lips as he turned his attention back to me and nodded in slight acknowledgement of what I'd managed to do. I didn't allow my smile to falter and show that it was a fake. Kabuto needed to believe me.
"Okay. Keiko, come with me. We need to go prepare some medicine for this," He spoke before turning his gaze to the young Uchiha, "You remain here, Sasuke."
Sasuke gave a curt jerk of the head to signal that he understood his instructions. Kabuto sighed again and signaled for me to follow him. I took off behind him without so much as a second glance at Sasuke.
Kabuto led me through the corridors and into the kitchen. He walked straight to the counter and began to pull out different ingredients from one of the cabinets.
"Kabuto-san? What're we doing?" I asked quietly, coming to stand beside him.
He glanced across his shoulder at me briefly, "We're making medicine that will ease the pain Orochimaru-san will feel after taking over Sasuke's body. This is very important for you to learn so watch closely,"
"Hai!" I nodded and stepped a little closer, watching his movements.
Internally, I was a little pleased. I had successfully infiltrated Orochimaru's hideout and gained the trust of everyone within. Nobody here suspected that I was here for any reason other than to serve Lord Orochimaru. How could they? I had been here for so many years and never said no or failed any order given to me. They had no reason to ever suspect that I could have an alternate motive.
In fact, Orochimaru was so pleased with my dedication to him, he assigned Kabuto to train me in Medical ninjutsu in the off chance that something happened to Kabuto. I had agreed willingly to learning. Partially, it was to gain more trust from the team, but it was also simply because I knew the skills I was learning would come in handy in my future.
By agreeing to come here and bring Sasuke back, I had essentially agreed to a death sentence. There was no doubt in my mind that everybody expected me to fail and lose my life in the process. I was a little impressed with myself for making it as far as I had. However, I believe it is due to the very reason that Lady Hokage had picked me for this mission.
"Keiko, only you can successfully pull this off. Your ability to read people's emotions and adapt accordingly is surely the only thing that can ever get you close to them."
I knew that eventually, my strong perception of other people would surely pay off. I just never imagined that it would pay off in a way such as this.
"Now you take all of this and dissolve it into this glass of water," Kabuto muttered, adjusting his glasses on the bridge of his nose.
I watched as he folded the paper and poured its contents into a glass of water he had sitting between the two of us. He lifted the glass and swirled the contents a little, watching to see how well they dissolved.
"Hand me a spoon."
Immediately, I did as I was told and pulled a spoon out of the drawer to my right. I place it in Kabuto's waiting hand and watch as he stirs the remaining contents, successfully dissolving them. Once he stops stirring he turns to look at me.
"Do you understand how to make that now?" He asks dryly.
Kabuto never was a huge fan of the idea that I was learning to care for Orochimaru. It wasn't because he didn't think I was up to it, however. He'd openly complimented me on what a fast learner I was and how I seemed truly dedicated to this cause. No, his problem with me was the fact that he wanted to take care of Orochimaru and felt like he was being demoted.
He nodded at me and turned back to the counter, seemingly lost in his own thoughts. I took this momentary pause to think of a way to distract him further. Sasuke couldn't be done with his battle yet, so I was still in charge of keeping Kabuto away from the chambers.
"Kabuto-san?" I asked, turning my eyes away from him and keeping my tone light.
Kabuto never seemed comfortable around me if I didn't seem in a pleasant mood. Whenever my tone was darker or more serious, he instantly tensed and refused to answer me directly. He would always beat around the bush.
I directed my eyes towards him again, "Is there anything else we need to make?"
Kabuto looked down at me, "No."
I took in a deep breath, "Before we return, may I ask one more question?"
"What is it?" He asked impatiently, placing the glass of medicine on a tray.
"How does Lord Orochimaru take over other people's body? How does the ceremony work?"
Kabuto turned to me and delved into a long explanation of how Orochimaru manages to transfer his soul into another, younger body, and how his soul remains strong and intact after so many transfers. I listen closely, but he doesn't get to talk for long.
At the same time, Kabuto and I spun on our heels. There was no doubt that the sound came from Orochimaru's chambers. Without a second thought, Kabuto took off running. I chased after him, not really sure what to do anymore. The only thought that passed through my mind was that I had to protect Sasuke and keep his fight on track.
After a deep breath, I sprinted after Kabuto and dove on him from behind.
"Kabuto-san," I gasped, pinning him to the ground, "It could be a trap."
He completely ignored my words and began to fight against me. I struggled to keep him pinned to the round and away from the battle, but he was quickly overcoming me. In an instant his hands glowed blue and he smacked me straight in the stomach. I coughed a few times, refusing to let go.
"You traitor!" Kabuto screamed at me, slamming his head into mine.
"Kabuto-san," I breathed, looking for an excuse as to why I could be doing this that he would believe.
"Don't you ever address me like tha-" Kabuto's words were cut off by a calm voice.
I looked up to meet the dark onyx eyes of Sasuke. In an instant, Kabuto had thrown me off him and stood to face him.
"Which one are you?"
Sasuke's calm eyes turned to face Kabuto while I stood from the ground, "Which one do you think?"
In an instant, Kabuto was lost in a trance, staring into Sasuke's sharingan. I watched quietly as Kabuto began to tremble at whatever he saw.
After a few moments, Kabuto dropped to his knees, "H-how?"
Without a word, Sasuke turned his back and walked down the hall towards the exit of the hideout. Once halfway down the hall, he stopped and faced me, "Are you coming or am I killing you?"
I jogged hastily to catch up with him. Once I was at his side, he began to walk towards the exit again, allowing me to follow a few steps behind him. I glanced over my shoulder at Kabuto, who was slumped over on the ground holding his head, and the open door to Orochimaru's chamber, where pieces of a large white snake along with Orochimaru's body laid covering the ground.
We walked silently for a few minutes, not stopping until we're a decent distance from the base. Sasuke turned to face me.
"What's so special about you?"
I stared at him blankly, "Sasuke-kun?"
"Why was Orochimaru interested in you?" He asks more directly.
"He wasn't. He never intended to do anything with me. I came to him on free will." I replied carefully.
Sasuke stared at me with his dark eyes, "Then why have you betrayed him and followed me?"
I met his gaze steadfastly. I knew he wouldn't believe me if I made up some sort of lie. So, I simply replied with the kind of vague answer I knew he was looking for, "Do my reasons really matter?"
His eyes didn't falter from mine. He looked over my form again, looking for any reason he could possibly find to leave me behind or to stop trusting me. He must've found none, because he turned and began walking again, allowing me to follow.
However, one thing still nagged at me, "Sasuke?" He turned to face me and I continued, "Why are you taking me with you?"
He turned away from me and continued walking as if I'd never asked a question in the first place.