Disclaimer: Slight AU where Sasuke and Karin didn't meet at the Forest of Death. Also, this fic almost completely disregards Karin's Databook profile; particularly, the parts concerning Sasuke being her motivation to work under Orochimaru.
Slight warning: for Karin is a foulmouthed and sexual teenager. Plus, human experiments here and there but nothing graphic.
something of a start;
"Orochimaru-sama wants him to become familiar with all the bases, as he is to become an important asset."
A thirteen-year-old girl folds her arms across her chest with an annoyed scowl. "What does Orochimaru see on that guy, anyway? What makes a spoiled kid like him so special?"
"This Sharingan does, Karin," Kabuto deadpans. "Orochimaru-sama needs Uchiha Sasuke-kun's body to fulfill his goals."
"But why bother doing all this?" Karin argues, as obstinate as always. "If he wants the sharingan he could just take it by force…."
Kabuto flickers his gaze towards the redhead as she trails off, knowing only too well what would come next. As expected, Karin's eyes are glistening with eagerness as she pushes her glasses further up her nose, her tongue briefly coming out to lick her lips.
"It'd be interesting to investigate how it works. Perhaps if we pluck his eyes out—"
The girl sighs. "I know, I know. Geez, if Orochimaru needs my help, I'll do it," the corner of her lips curve downwards with stubbornness, "even if I hate spoiled brats."
"I knew we could count on you, Karin," Kabuto says, and as he turns his back on her and begins to make his way to the exit of the room, Karin sees his smile morphing into a smirk. "…And I hate spoiled brats, too."
Once alone, the redhead crosses her arms across her chest.
Hn, who asked you?
It is while she is doing one last surveillance round that she feels their chakra approaching. One is only too familiar, in all its power and darkness, and the other is unknown. But expected, all the same; Kabuto's earlier visit had made sure of that.
She does not go out to receive them. Merely waits for them instead. Soon enough, Orochimaru and his new pet are standing at the end of the hall that lead to the prisoner's cells.
"I see you've been doing a good job with this place, Karin."
Orochimaru's throaty voice lingers on her name, stretching its syllables in a way that would never stop giving Karin the creeps. But more over there was satisfaction in his voice and delight brimming in his chakra, and so the redhead focuses on these and deliberately ignores how unsettling her savior could be sometimes.
And so it is with a proud smirk and a self-assured reply ready to roll out her tongue that Karin turns to face the two newcomers, but she ends up being silenced by surprise as her eyes land on the boy standing at Orochimaru's right.
He is hot.
Is the first thing she thinks, taken aback still. Smoking hot. Drop dead gorgeous. Just the sole sight of his handsome features made something inside of her body stir, and she finds herself clearing her throat and faking a cough in order to hide the rose-tint her cheeks had taken.
"Well—yeah. You shouldn't have expected any less, Orochimaru-sama," as per usual the sama leaves a funny taste on her tongue, but this time it's entirely too easy to overlook as she straightened her glasses and gave Uchiha Sasuke a (deliberately) uninterested look. "Who is this guy?"
Her attempt to get the boy to speak fails copiously as Orochimaru places a hand on his shoulder, a wide smirk curving his lips. "Kabuto must have already come to inform you, must he not?"
"Hn, so this is Uchiha Sasuke?"
Orochimaru's smirk widens (if possible) in confirmation. The aforementioned boy liberates himself from the man's touch with a rough movement, but his stance never changes and his eyes never leave Karin's own. His expression remains impassive, but Karin had noticed the spark of disgust that flashed through his chakra as the snake-like man laid his fingers on his skin.
She says nothing of it but stores the knowledge away—if there was something she had learnt during the months she has been working with Orochimaru, that was that everything—everything—could become useful under the right circumstances.
So distracted is she by Sasuke—his chakra, his demeanor, his unwavering stare—that it takes her a few moments to realize that Orochimaru was talking.
"… So I trust I will be leaving Sasuke-kun in good hands, won't I, Karin?"
"R—right. Follow me, Sasuke."
The boy remains immobile. Karin is just beginning to frown, wondering if she would have to repeat herself, when the Uchiha finally begins to walk towards her. He comes to a stop a step away from her, his stare impassive still—and then he arches a thin and elegant eyebrow.
He seemed to be wordlessly asking her, and Karin finds herself tch'ing under her breath, annoyed at the boy's apparent lack of manners.
As expected of a spoiled brat, is what she thinks as she makes her way down the hall, Sasuke trailing not far behind her. It was just like Kabuto had said; Uchiha Sasuke was uncooperative, conceited, selfish and used to get his way. He thought of himself as special and expected to be treated as such.
None of that sat well with Karin, who had to work her ass off to get to the position she was at today. It had cost her a great deal of effort, guts and toughening up to win Orochimaru's trust—and now this kid was getting special treatment just for his eyes.
Well, fuck him. He's dead wrong if he thinks I'm going to play along.
Uchiha Sasuke would not be getting any stellar treatment from Karin, his good looks be damned. Not like she needed him, anyway. Her hand could do the job just fine.
"This is another laboratory," Karin explains as they walk, not bothering to stop just like Sasuke had yet to bother talking. Orochimaru wanted her to show the boy around the Southern Base, for some unknown reason, but she was only so willing to play the part of a tourist guide. She had better things to do with her time, damn it. She had experiments waiting for her. "And this—"
As if on cue a sudden scream echoes through the halls, cutting her words short. Both teens stop, Karin's head immediately wiping in the direction of the basement cells; she had an inkling of just who had been the one to scream.
"What was that?"
His voice startles her more than the scream had. She was used to the later, but his silky baritone was a new thing altogether. Karin clears her throat and gives Sasuke a look over her shoulder, wordlessly signaling that he was to follow her.
"It's an experiment I'm working on," the redhead explains lightly, proudly, only to then mutter to herself: "Damn, the drugs should've taken longer to wear off."
The screaming has yet to stop as they enter the basement cells. As expected, it was none other than the prisoner they had taken in a couple of days ago, the one she had been ordered to conduct research on. He was weaker than expected however, and she had almost lost him twice in the last three days.
It was more of a hassle than he was worth, if Karin were to be perfectly honest. But as things were she had yet to finish conducting the customary operations, and as such she could not let him go. Not yet, at least.
"Shut up, will you? You'll wake up the rest! Come here and stop whining!"
So it is with an annoyed sigh that the girl kneels down and pulls her sleeve up, extending her slender arm through the cell's bars. A shudder of disgust runs down her spine and tenses her muscles as the man's calloused fingers grasp her wrist, and as his teeth sink down on her flesh and he starts sucking on her chakra Karin has to bite back a growl of pain.
It's okay, Karin. It's necessary and it will be over soon
The words she has been telling herself ever since this sick tradition started to take place—she having to let prisoners bite her in order to heal their wounds and get them to hold on for a bit longer, just so that she could finish whatever research she was conducting on them.
It had gotten easier as time went by. She no longer felt like throwing up after each time, at least. But her arms were running out of unmarred skin at an alarmingly fast pace, and her stomach tightened just by thinking of what would come after that.
"That's enough—get away, you freak!"
Karin accentuates her words by landing a good punch on the man's skull, and as he finally lets go of her wrist her broken skin is covered by saliva and blood.
Behind her, someone stirs. She raises her head only to meet the eyes of Uchiha Sasuke, who was looking evenly down at her. The knot her stomach had become seems to tighten under his scrutiny—she had forgotten he was there at all.
"… Grossed out, pretty boy?" Karin taunts with a smirk in order to hide her shame—shame she should not be feeling. She was just doing her job, was all. Protecting her best interests. Just the thought of feeling ashamed made her feel disgusted with herself.
Her self-loathing evaporates as Sasuke's steady reply reaches her ears.
"Not at all,"
Karin's red eyes widen with slight surprise, her bleeding wrist and revolved insides forgotten.
His words—they were backed up by the look in his eyes and the feel of his chakra.
For the first time since she laid her eyes on him, Karin's curiosity is picked.
Maybe there was more to Uchiha Sasuke than just a pretty face and a shitty attitude, after all.
She would have to keep an eye on him.
From then onward Sasuke's chakra signature started to become just as—if not even more familiar than Orochimaru's own, and he would come to the Southern Base at least once per month in order to supervise her work on the Sannin's behalf.
Karin did not quite mind. He asked less questions, was less puzzling and at least he was nice to the eye. Plus, since that incident at the prison the boy had actually managed to hold her interest—which was a feat in and of itself. But moreover—
He always found a way to pick her curiosity even more.
Like now, for example.
"Why are you here, Karin?"
His question is unexpected and comes completely out of the blue. Karin's fingers halt as they flicker through the archives of her recent work, and it takes her a few moments of silence to leave her surprise aside and growl a reply.
"Orochimaru saved me, I owe him."
"Do you like it here?"
Karin frowns. His voice tells her nothing and neither does his chakra—and so she keeps her back turned to him as she replies, contemptuously: "I like being in charge."
"That's not what I asked."
For the first time in a very long time, Karin is rendered silent.
'Do you like it here?'
Replies refused to show up, and Karin spends the rest of the week annoyed at her apparent incapability of answering such a stupid question. To make matters worse, Sasuke had overstayed his welcome—he had left and returned three days ago and had yet to leave. It's the longest period of time he has stayed in the Southern Base, and Karin is irked by it.
His sole presence frustrates her. And she is not sure as to why—not completely, at least. And that only annoys her more.
Karin hated uncertainty almost as much as she hated weaknesses.
As such, it is no wonder she exploded that day—really, Sasuke had it coming to him.
"Shit, he died on me."
The Uchiha, who had been calmly leaning against the wall a few meters behind Karin and wordlessly watching her operate the prisoner, tilts his head to the side with casual nonchalance. "Hn, maybe if you had given his wounds some time to heal before bringing him in again, he would have lasted longer."
Karin lays her fists roughly on the operation table, which resounds with a dry and metallic clunk that did not alleviate the explosion of her voice.
"Are you trying to tell me how to do my job, Sasuke? Are you?"
If Sasuke is fazed by the cold and insulted fury tainting her words, he shows no signs of it. "Did you forget I'm here to supervise you, Karin?"
"Oh, that's grand!" the redhead rounds in on him now, her temper flaring. "Don't fuck around with me, Sasuke! Don't you dare play the part of the obedient pawn, because you may fool Orochimaru but you don't fool me! I know all that willingness of yours is just an act, I can sense it in your chakra!" Karin gives a step forward, her teeth bared. "You're not to be trusted, as soon as you get the chance you will stab Orochimaru in the back!"
It was out. The cards had been finally laid on the table, and the both of them stay silent for a long moment, their eyes doing all the talking, a storm brewing between them.
Surprisingly, Sasuke is the one to break through it.
"… Then why haven't you tried to stop me?"
Another question without an easy answer. But Karin is prepared for it this time, hides her own puzzlement by straightening her glasses and turning sideways.
"It's not my problem, is it? If Orochimaru wants to be blinded by you then it's his own business, not mine's," that much was true, at least. And anything past it was beside the point, anyway—Karin's calculating gaze slides back into Sasuke's own, her lips set in a straight line. "But don't you dare go around taking me for a fool, Sasuke."
A request, a warning—maybe it was both of them at once. Sasuke however gives no reply to it. Instead he detaches himself from the wall and slowly uncrosses his arms, a new set of shadows dancing behind his dark eyes.
"So… you wouldn't mind if I do stab him in the back?"
Karin's gaze hardens, and a part of her notices that she is not as surprised as she should have been by her reply.
"…Like I said, it's none of my business."
She owed him. That much was certain.
But her loyalty had never been part of the bargain, Orochimaru's assumptions be damned.
And her own, too.
Or so she tells herself.
Sasuke leaves that very same day. She does not see him again for two weeks.
When his chakra finally reaches her heightened senses, Karin is startled to realize that she feels something very close to relief.
Relief—just by knowing that he was coming to her. And despite her best efforts at ignoring it, Karin was not dense enough to not realize the connotations of such a thing.
In such a short time, she had gotten used to his presence to the point she had missed Sasuke. She had actually missed the guy's constant presence despite how often he got on her nerves.
The realization is so strong and makes her feel so vulnerable that Karin makes up for it by giving the boy the cold shoulder for the best part of the day.
To her dismay, Sasuke did not seem to mind; he was a silent guy by nature, after all. So whenever his tries to spark any conversation got mercilessly shot down he settled for observing her instead, not feeling nearly as uncomfortable and unwanted as Karin would have hoped to make him feel.
The way he calls out her name, so at ease, showcased just that:
Inwardly, the redhead rolls her eyes. However her voice betrays her and lets out a noncommittal drawl that sounded suspiciously like a what, and so Sasuke continues what would most likely turn out to be another one of his pointless, unasked-for questions.
"How did you get here?"
I knew it. He is so predictable.
"Hn, you ask an awful lot of questions for someone who doesn't give any answers."
Her reply had been ready and just waiting for the chance to be thrown out, her wit and words sharp and lethal like a senbon needdle. She knew Sasuke would be silenced by it—and she was right.
What Karin had not expected was that his silence would lead to a reply.
"I want to kill a man," Sasuke says, and his baritone drops down an octave. His chakra stirs with the ghosts of dark emotions—hatred, pain, scornfulness—and Karin feels the insides of her arms assaulted by goose flesh. "I live and seek power for that reason alone. To kill the man who murdered my clan."
Karin hesitates, her back still turned to him.
"Who did it?"
Sasuke's silence weights as much as the name that leaves his lips afterward.
"Uchiha Itachi," he says, and pauses. "My brother,"
Karin does not try to hide her surprise this time and lets it leak over into her silence, her mind whirling at a mile per hour. Behind her, Sasuke schools his features into a smirk.
'Grossed out, pretty boy?'
The memory sharply cuts the spinning gears of her brain, and really—Karin should have known Sasuke would throw the senbon back at her without missing a beat.
When she rises from her crouched position, closes the archive and finally turns to face him—her lips are mirroring his smirk.
"Not at all," she says, partly because two could play that game and also because there was no other reply she could have possibly given him. Not after he had made himself go through that riot of unpleasant emotions and memories just to grant her a reply.
Her words seem to be the reply Sasuke was looking for, because his shoulders relax and he chuckles. The sound is so unfamiliar—so alien but so welcome at the same time, that Karin finds herself speaking even before being aware of it.
"Eight months ago, I came back to my village only to find it had been wiped out by mercenaries. All of it—including my family. There was not a single survivor. I…" her voice is steady, cold. As if she were speaking through a wound that had already healed—and maybe she was. She felt like she was, most of the time. The rest she felt like the scars weighted far more than any gaping wound could ever have. "I almost gave up on a lot of things. I thought I would die. But Orochimaru saved me. He offered food, protection and a place to stay in exchange of my abilities. And so…." Karin trails off, shrugging. It did not seem that bad of a deal, that shrug seemed to say.
Except that I am not so sure of that anymore, her hesitance to continue seemed to offer instead.
"I see," Sasuke says, and something flickers his gaze. It is gone before Karin could attempt to name it and he is speaking again before she could even think of asking, and so she lets it slide. "You did the right thing, Karin. You would have amounted to nothing had you stayed there to rot."
She snorts and has no control over the bitter edge of her smirk. "There is a whole bunch of people who would love to disagree with you. They're buried somewhere in the field outside this base, if you care to have a word with them."
Her tone is sardonic, but her eyes are not. And neither is the way she feels.
Maybe Sasuke realizes it—somehow. Just like he had been able to reply to the meanings of her silence as if she had voiced them out—because his lips part as he turns around to leave, not giving her the sick pleasure of wallowing in silence.
"We're shinobi, Karin. Killing is what we do."
He says. And while Karin does not know that the closest Sasuke has ever gotten to killing someone had been his best friend, she thinks his eyes said enough.
'We're shinobi, Karin. Killing is what we do.'
I know that, you idiot. I know that.
But a weight—a weight she had refused to acknowledge before—alleviates itself as she muses over his words.
The room is obscure, and cold. The chandeliers were almost melted to their roots, and soon the lone man would succumb to pitch-black darkness. Sasuke does not care, makes no movement to aid him.
He would be out that room before that happened.
He does not wait for a reply, continuing as soon as the long-haired man turned to face him. "Karin's village… You were the one who wiped it out, weren't you?"
It is more a statement rather than a question, but Orochimaru's eyes widen ever so slightly regardless—only to then narrow with pleasure. Sasuke's fingers twitch at his sides. "What makes you think that, Sasuke-kun?"
Orochimaru's lips stretch into a grin so large that it revolts Sasuke's insides.
"I've exterminated a lot of villages, Sasuke-kun. You don't expect me to remember all of them, do you?"
Sasuke does not play along—he simply turns around and storms out of the room.
The breeze swallows the flickering flame of the chandeliers and for a moment all Orochimaru sees through the darkness is the flash of crimson burning in Sasuke's eyes.
He does not say a word of it to Karin when the girl is brought over to Orochimaru's lair.
Ignorance could be bliss.
He just wishes someone had given him that chance, too.
The electricity gathered in Sasuke's arm fades away as the boy crumbles to the ground with a dry thud, gasping for breath. It is the first time Karin has seen him looking so beat, and she is reaching his side even before Kabuto has opened his mouth.
"Karin," the gray-haired medic calls, but his voice is drown out in Sasuke's own whisper of her name as she pulls up the sleeve of her blouse, offering him her wrist.
"Bite me, Sasuke," she commands, and is surprised to find that her voice is no more than a mutter. Her throat is dry and so are her lips, so she licks them, egging the boy on by lightly pressing her skin against his own lips. "Come on, you want to keep training, don't you?"
His hesitance slowly begins to fade away at those words, and as his eyes finally leave her own gaze and travel to her wrist, Karin realizes that she had been holding her breath. It is gingerly that he reaches out to press her wrist with his fingertips, steadying her, before leaning in and biting down on her skin.
The redhead had been preparing herself for the surge of pain that was sure to come, but soon her grimace makes way to surprise—this—it felt different.
She felt different.
It takes her a moment to realize that Sasuke was trying not to hurt her. Trying not to bite down too much, trying not to suck her chakra out too fast—it is the first time someone has been considerate with her. The first time someone had not given in to their tryst of getting healed as soon as possible and had spared her a thought.
Karin feels something in herself stir—something that had not awaken when she first laid her eyes on him all those months ago, but that was blazing now. Intense and overwhelming and frightening, in a way. Because Sasuke's lips were like bonfires against her skin and she was sure than rather than his teeth she would have telltales of his fingertips marked down on her wrist like a tattoo.
It felt—it felt—
A low, throaty moan leaves her lips before she could even attempt to get a hold of herself, and while her cheeks paint themselves as red as her hair Karin cannot find in herself a single damn to give.
Her half-lidded eyes flicker back to Sasuke's then, and his gaze moves to hers as if answering her call. It is now Karin the one who pants, her glasses getting moist until Sasuke's eyes disappear behind them—and it is then that she feels his hold on her wrist giving out, his teeth leaving her skin.
And suddenly she can think straight.
A low chuckle cuts short Karin's attempts at making sense of what, exactly, had just happened—and she turns only to find Kabuto giving them—she and Sasuke, Sasuke and she. when had the two of them become an unit like this?—an amused look dirty with something Karin had no care to name.
"My, Karin. It's the first time I've seen you have such a reaction to one of your healing sessions."
Karin growls under her breath, disgusted by his tone and furious with herself—it wasn't like her to lose control like that. what had come over her?—and even more so with the traitorous blush that she could feel coloring her cheeks.
"Shut up, Kabuto," she snarls—but before she could say anything else Karin feels a tug pulling her arm and turns only to find Sasuke giving her a look.
Get up, she read in his eyes. Her legs followed suit without a single second-thought even despite the puzzlement building up inside of her—and said puzzlement only amplifies as the boy is suddenly pulling her closer, pretending to have lost his balance.
It lasts for less than two seconds, but to Karin—to Karin it felt like time had stopped just for them.
Their chests are pressed together. Sasuke's hand is still securely holding onto her forearm. And his lips are brushing her ear with every word he whispers.
"When I get out, I will take you with me. Away from this place,"
As he straightens and lets go of her, Karin's widened eyes meet his own and the look she finds in them silences her even better than his unexpected words had.
She has yet to say a word to him by the time Sasuke picks up his fallen sword and leaves without sparing her another glance.
Uchiha Sasuke was an idiot.
He was. Thinking he could outsmart Orochimaru as if the man wasn't one of the strongest shinobi alive, what the hell was he thinking?
Karin does not need him. She has been doing just fine without him all this time.
Yes—maybe she isn't happy. But who needs to be? All she needed is to be alive, right?
So she did not need Sasuke. She did not need him, and she did not want him.
She sure as hell did not want him, even if her body seemed to say otherwise.
Karin knows all this.
Just like she knows the time will come when she will stop lying to herself.
There are riots every now and then.
Karin is used to them. There was nothing surprising, nor threatening about prisoners trying to break out. She always made sure they were all back on their cells in less than a couple of hours most of the time.
This was not one of those times.
She has no option but to alert Orochimaru on the third day—Sasuke arrives on the fifth.
By then Karin is more than exhausted, but she almost had everything under control again. Between the two of them they manage to lock back the remains of the resistance, and those who try to get away are disposed of like the trash they are.
But the damage was already done. Karin had held her own and survived for five whole days, but she was not unscratched.
Just the opposite.
She had a split lip, a purple eye—her jaw had been almost dislocated, her clothes torn. There were purple bruises all over her legs and abdomen, and ugly, raw teeth marks from men who had tried to forcefully heal themselves at her expense.
Her state was a pitiful sight, of that she was sure of. The most self-aware part of her feels ill at letting Sasuke—out of all people—see her like that. But the other; the biggest side of Karin was simply tired.
And so Karin lets herself fall against the wall and slide down onto the floor, flinching as one of her broken finger brushed against the cold surface.
Sasuke comes to silently stand by her side as she is taking off her cracked glasses, mournfully staring at the damage and at the glimpses of her reflection.
She could see five different Karin in each glass—each as marred and broken as the other, and the sight steals the words out of her lips.
"What you said the other day… about taking me away… was it true?"
Sasuke does not hesitate.
"Yes," he states, and then ever so slowly lowers himself down until he is mimicking her position, his shoulder brushing her own ever so lightly. "I still plan to do so."
His words are secure. His presence is warm, as is his chakra, that seemed to be reaching out to her, enveloping her and offering the sense of safety that she had not known she had been yearning for—the sense of belonging that his lips would not quite express.
It is this knowledge that which makes Karin tilt her head just so, allowing her bangs to hide the smile she could not quite bite back.
"…I might not want to leave, Sasuke," she mutters, and is not as ashamed as she would have thought by the way the smile leaked all over her words, making them sound like a childish taunt. "You know I like being in charge."
"I'll convince you," the boy says without missing a beat, and then turns towards her, the edges of his lips curving up in the barest traces of a smile. "I promise."
Karin's throat is clogged up—her tired eyes aching with a sensation that is scarily familiar, even though she thought she had left all of her tears behind.
It takes her a long moment before she is able to raise her head and hold Sasuke's gaze, giving him a resolute nod.
She did not know what would come out of this—this deal they were making. She did not know, but she did not care.
All that mattered was that he was different, and he was still there—still there despite everything she had said and done.
And above all—above all what mattered to Karin was that every single word he said to her was reflected in his eyes and chakra. For the first time in longer than she could remember, Karin felt like she could trust someone.
And that was a start.
The best start she could have hoped for, in fact.
"… Alright, Sasuke. When the time comes, I will follow you."
I exploited Karin's irreverent and ruthless side as much as I possibly could, because I shamelessly love them. I hope she came out at least half the bitch I intended her to be lol
Feedback is more than welcome, but please don't flame the pairing. There is no point, because you will not make me like them any less.
Thanks for reading!