disclaimer: If I owned Naruto, would I be here?
notes: First fanfic! Well, not first ever, but first in a long time.
notes2: Kishimoto is driving me crazy with all the crazy shit that's been happening.
notes3: Because I don't hate Karin as much as I used to.

title: burn marks
summary: Because Konoha was going to be disaster zone and Karin didn't want to be there when it happened. – Karin-centric.

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Karin stayed in that little prison cell for a long time after the world went cold and bleak.

There was nothing in the cell but a cot, a toilet and a window to the world outside. Well that and her thoughts, and those were always dangerous. Karin wondered if they had locked her in here, in hopes that her thoughts would drive her mad.

Her lips twisted into something that was more grimace than smile. They had nothing on Orochimaru. Ibiki and his men were just children, smart children (they hadn't bought her story after all), but children all the same.

The sun still hadn't risen. It could have been close to 6Am for all she knew. Not that Karin slept very much anymore.

When she was bored, Karin stood on her tiptoes and watched time pass her by on the streets below. Not that there was much to watch anymore, since the war had started.

It was the subject whispered on the lips of the ANBU that gave her meals, the reason for the disappearance of nearly every Konoha Shinobi above the rank of Genin. It was the World against Akatsuki (or what was left of it, anyway) and set to become the worst and bloodiest war in all Shinobi history.

And Sasuke was right in the centre of it.

Karin had never been in a war before and she wasn't planning to. War was death, war was suffering, war was so much blood spilt on the ground that nothing could ever grow back.

But the war, at least, was far from Konoha's walls, so Karin sat in that quiet little cell without explosions or screams to rock her to sleep.

It was only a matter of time though.

Because Sasuke was coming to burn them all to the ground and Karin had no intention of being there when he arrived.

There was nothing that could stop him also. Who was left to defend the village? Some snot-nosed brats, a handful of Jounins, ANBU and a council of elderly. No, Karin knew exactly what the outcome was going to be. And even if the village had been chock-full of Chuunins and Jounins and Sages and the Hokage, Karin knew the outcome would be the same.

Because there was that mad-glint in those too-dark eyes of his (the same mad-glint when he had tried to kill her) and that meant that nothing was going to stand in the way of him and revenge.

Karin observed the houses and buildings through her window and imagined them melting into ashes that would float away into the sky, just like a funeral. She imagined the prison becoming a furnace, burning up all that lived inside. Would the streets be filled with the bodies of the dead, piled high, like monuments to a non-existent deity? Would the air smell like smoke and charred remains?

And then she reminded herself that she had no intention of dying and thinking it - thinking about Sasuke - brought her halfway there.

Surrendering was so easy. Giving up was so easy.

Why couldn't forgetting be as easy?

He was like a stain on a shirt that refused to fade; like that stupid scar on her stomach that Sakura said would never, ever go away.

She wasn't going to forgive him.

Even if he somehow decided to repent for all that he had done (and he had done a lot and then some), even if he got down on his knees and promised, pleaded that he was sorry (and she would love to see the Uchiha grovel at her feet), she wouldn't forgive him.

So many things were hard and forgiveness was even harder and…and Karin had never been one to forgive those who tried to kill her.

Not now.

Not ever.

The thoughts made her lips curl into something ugly. Sakura and Naruto were better people than she could ever hope to be, but she had known this from the start. Karin had been in it for herself (and hadn't all of them been? Suigetsu and Juugo?) because she was selfish.

Even the bite marks on her body couldn't speak against this. They were there because she hadn't wanted to die, hadn't wanted to lose.

Karin wasn't a kind person by nature and she didn't think she was going to start now. She didn't belong in this place, she didn't really belong anywhere and this was just another pit stop.

Maybe she would think about it further, when the air started to smell like burning flesh.

When she was really, really bored, Karin would think about Suigetsu and Juugo. They were probably dead but then again, probably not.

Suigetsu was probably still out there, searching for those idiotic swords of his. Karin wished she were out there with him. Anything, anything was better than a prison cell in what would soon be a disaster zone. Even a hundred years walking the whole continent searching for hunks of metal with Suigetsu was better than waiting for Sasuke to come back and finish what he'd started.

Karin wanted to be anywhere but here.

She would take Juugo and his crazy mood swings and hanging out with birds over Sasuke.

She wasn't afraid of Sasuke. She already knew that he could kill her and would probably try again.

It comforted her, in a strange, twisted way.

It was simply that she wasn't someone who could just give up on living. The bite marks proved that much. She wasn't going to be lying in those stacks of the dead, rising high into the infinite blue above. Sasuke would be coming, today, tomorrow, maybe never. But Karin didn't want to stay another moment if it brought her closer to the end.

No, Sasuke was something that deserved to be forgotten. A name lost into the ravages of time.

Whether he was good or evil or something in between, Karin didn't want to see him again.

And she didn't want to speak with him again either. Not for a very long time, at least.

But she probably would, in the end. It was all or nothing with Sasuke, and a conversation was inevitable.

Maybe it would give her a chance to kill him. Not that Sakura would be very happy about that.

She wondered if that was what unconditional love looked like.

A long time ago, she might have been jealous of Sakura. Now there was only pity.

Because Naruto and Sakura weren't smart enough to realize that Sasuke didn't care about them and probably never would. But Sasuke was stupid enough to believe that they would hold on forever and they would. That was the worst part.

Not her though.

She was too bitter for that anymore.

He had tried to kill her and she didn't trust him enough to believe that he wouldn't do it again. He had used her (and she had let him) and tossed her away when he didn't need her anymore. He was like Orochimaru, only worse, because at least at with Orochimaru you had known he was crazy.

Sasuke was so crazy nowadays, it wasn't even funny.

If she did see him, and Karin knew that she probably would, she wondered if she would yell that at him. And he would just give that 'hn' of his and stare at her with those dark eyes that she'd once loved.

God, she was done. She was fucking done.

She didn't belong here, in this soon-to-be death camp with a man-child with dark eyes. Sasuke was like a burn; it hurt so bad at the beginning then dwindled into a raw sting that you never, ever forgot.

She dimly wondered if Suigetsu and Juugo were out there, looking for. Maybe they would even break her out.

Then again, Karin thought, in her bubble of security in a world that was already halfway to hell…

Probably not.

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note3: First fanfic in forever and I pull out this monster.
note4: Partly inspired by Suigetsu in chapter 567.
note5: Please review.