Author's Notes: In an effort to keep myself writing despite my writer's block, I came up with this idea. It's been gathering dust for a while now, but I just recently cleaned it up enough to be presentable. It's a little darker than I usually write, since I wanted to try something from Sasuke's point of view. If you don't know, schadenfreude means to take pleasure in someone else's suffering in German. So, with that, I'll let you get to the story!
Rating: T (or PG-13)
Summary: Sasuke never particularly cared what happened to Orochimaru's human experiments until he sees one with pink hair.
Pairings: Hints of SasuSaku
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
Sasuke glared up at the concrete ceiling, fully awake despite the ungodly hour. It was common knowledge in the base that he liked his sleep, and the shortest route to death was to wake him up in any instance that wasn't a life or death situation. The servants whispered rumors that not even Orochimaru himself would do such a thing, since whoever bothered the youngest Uchiha in the middle of the night usually ended up knocked unconscious—or dismembered, if he was feeling particularly cranky—outside of his room.
In fact, the only ones who dared wake him were Orochimaru's experiments. Their screams echoed down the hallways in the underground hideout, bouncing from concrete wall to wall until they reached his room almost at the opposite end of the lair. Usually, they were quieter than the woman who was screaming now. The current experiment held a steady scream, only interrupted by wailing sobs. Sasuke hoped she would lose her voice soon. It was almost two in the morning.
He wasn't sure when the experiments failed to affect him. The first few months with Orochimaru he shivered in his bed at the gruesome sounds, wondering what have I done? It was only the thought of killing Itachi that kept him here. He had to remind himself that Itachi would never have cared about their wellbeing, so Sasuke decided not to either. He had to become numb to the horrors of Orochimaru's world if he had any hopes of defeating his brother.
The screams quieted into sobs, and then abruptly cut off. He closed his eyes in relief that the woman had probably just been killed. Maybe now he could get some sleep.
He had only settled into a light doze when he sensed someone walking towards his room. He became instantly alert and murderous, just waiting for them to get close enough to rip their head off. He was disappointed when it was Kabuto, since he actually needed Kabuto to heal him. As much as he hated the white haired man, it would be disadvantageous for him to die.
He was out of bed and opening the door, looking out into the dim hallway to see the healer with one hand poised to knock.
"Ah, Sasuke-san." Kabuto said, smiling. "You're awake. My apologies for the screaming. The experiment was a little…feisty."
The Uchiha didn't say anything.
"Also, Orochimaru-sama requests your presence immediately. You know where to find him." And, not expecting an answer, he turned and walked away, disgustingly confident that Sasuke wouldn't suddenly snap and stab him in the back.
Sasuke was already dressed, so he grabbed the Kusanagi blade and threaded it through his belt. He was going to wring that stupid snake's neck when he got a hold of him.
He knew where Orochimaru was, because he was in the same room in every new hideout they visited. It was a large room with a raised dais that looked a bit like a throne room, and was where Sasuke received most of his lessons. The room looked so similar in each hideout that on days where he trained until he was exhausted, he would exit the room and try going towards his old room. A few times, he hadn't even remembered they were in a new hideout until he discovered his room wasn't where he thought it was.
He had been with Orochimaru for a little under two years now. At this point, he certainly felt strong enough. Orochimaru's lessons were growing boring and repetitive, and Sasuke constantly wondered if the snake hadn't run out of things to teach him. After all, Orochimaru couldn't just turn him loose when he taught his apprentice everything he knew, because he still needed Sasuke's body in another year. It was this that had Sasuke wondering if he wasn't better off leaving, and had him doubting if he wanted Orochimaru to take his body at all. If he was already stronger than the snake nin, like Sasuke thought he was, then there would be no point on relying for him for power. In fact, the mere thought of giving the Sharingan to Orochimaru made something churn in his blood, and made him feel a bit sick that he could pass on his family's legacy to that man.
The Uchiha decided that when he could kill Orochimaru, he would be strong enough to face Itachi. He even had a plan to find his brother after the snake's death. Part of him had cringed at the thought of creating a new team, but then his more rational side warred with him that it was necessary. His first pick had been a rogue nin from Mist about his age, named Suigetsu. He was strong, trained by none other than Zabuza himself. And, although he never admitted it, a part of him actually…tolerated the other man, though why he wasn't sure. He had only seen the shark-nin once before he had been confined to a water tank, but he had been loud and obnoxious, and it surprised Sasuke that he'd felt slightly at ease around the Mist-nin.
The next person was someone he'd met after Suigetsu, and he had debated with himself for three days before eventually deciding he would ask her to join him. Karin was the warden at one of Orochimaru's prisons, and the only reason he was going to ask was that she was a sensor-type ninja, and could sense things from miles around. She fought like a Genin, but the first time he'd met her was when she sensed the precise positions of eighty escaped inmates when Sasuke himself could only sense a few. And, like many women who appeared in his life, she had attached herself to him with hearts in her eyes and had almost immediately taken to calling him Sasuke-kun.
He had growled at himself when he realized that he chose the two people that reminded him most of the people he left behind. He thought bitterly that now all he needed was someone to represent the madness that he had carried with him throughout childhood.
Sasuke reached the large double doors, opening them without knocking. He never knocked, because it wasn't like Orochimaru would do anything to him for being rude. Besides, Sasuke wasn't here to be nice, he was here for power and nothing more.
His mentor's pale face looked even whiter in the dim lighting, and Orochimaru raised an eyebrow at him. "Sasuke-kun, how rude…don't tell me that you are losing your manners."
Sasuke's look at the older man was dry. "What do you want?" He asked curtly.
"You're getting tattoos," Orochimaru told him. "To summon weapons with."
Even though Sasuke hated being called at two in the morning, he was intrigued. Maybe Orochimaru still had his limited uses after all. Still, he would be leaving soon. He didn't need the other man after this anyway.
"They will be done in here, but you must go get the supplies in Exam Room 7."
Sasuke narrowed his eyes. "I don't do errands."
"But Sasuke-kun, don't you want to defeat Itachi? You can't do that in your current state." Said man clenched his fists, cursing that Orochimaru knew how to manipulate him. "Good. The supplies are all on the counter in a box. Bring them to me."
The Uchiha glared again, not liking being ordered to do such a menial task, but he nonetheless strode out of the room. He had to remind himself that all of this was just to gain power, and that he would be able to kill Itachi soon.
The hallways became colder and darker as he approached the Exam Rooms. This was where all of the experiments were done, but he had seen enough broken and mangled bodies that he had become indifferent to the sight. The dead faces frozen in horror only annoyed him now, seeing as he often had to step over them in the Exam Rooms. That seemed to be one way Kabuto amused himself, trying to get Sasuke to snap…to see how far the youngest Uchiha's control could go. In all of his attempts, the medic had yet to be successful.
There were crudely drawn numbers on the doors, and he passed 1 through 6 before swinging the door open to 7. He had one foot in the room before he stopped, suddenly unable to breathe.
There was a naked woman lying on a raised operating table, turned on her side so that her back was facing him. Her ankles were bound and her hands were tied with rope behind her back. There were bruises and cuts marring her pale skin that revealed she had been here for days. He knew immediately from the lack of a chakra signature that she was dead, but only recently as her skin was still rosy. He would have barely noticed her on any other occasion, except even with only the torches as a light source he could see her hair was pink.
Something he remembered as unadulterated panic settled in his stomach, and for the first time in years he scrambled to get to her. He didn't even remember drawing his sword, but suddenly it was in his hand cutting at her restraints. When her limbs were free, he lost his grip on the weapon and it clattered to the ground. He swallowed hard.
With more care than he knew he had left in him, he pulled on her shoulder to get her onto her back. However, her new position meant she was teetering on the edge of the table, so he lifted her into his arms for a minute before settling her in the middle again. The skin on her back and thighs was still warm and he knew that she had been the one screaming and he'd done nothing and oh, God his hands were trembling. He didn't even remember the last time he was this shaky.
Something pulled at his chest when he remembered wishing she would just die so he could sleep. He pushed short pink strands from her face as he started taking choppy breaths. He was terrified…actually terrified for the first time in a very long time.
Her expression was frozen in death, revealing to him what her final moments had been like. Her mouth was open in a silent scream, and there were remnants of heavy tear tracks running down her face that must have been from the sobbing he'd heard. With a fear he hadn't felt in a long time, he looked into her eyes, still open and wide. They were blue.
Sasuke felt his knees go weak in relief, and he had to brace himself on the table to keep upright. He put his head down to fight off the nausea in his stomach, shivering in a way that had nothing to do with the chilly air. It wasn't her. In fact, now that he could think a little past the terror that had consumed him, he could see that the roots of her hair were a light brown. She had dyed it, and he could vaguely see a few bright red streaks he'd missed before. He doubted the dye job was something Kabuto had done. Kabuto would have been more accurate.
The Sharingan user didn't move for the longest time, having to struggle to get himself back under control. He had to look into her eyes to convince himself it was real and his mind wasn't playing tricks on him. He even tried to dispel a potential genjutsu, and felt another surge of crippling relief when nothing happened. It wasn't her…one of his former precious people hadn't died today. It calmed him that the longer he looked, the more differences he noticed. The angles in this woman's face were all wrong. She had a light dusting of freckles. She was a teenager, but her age was a little off.
He cursed himself for caring. He wasn't supposed to feel anything for them anymore. He wasn't supposed to feel at all.
But as he looked at the woman on the table, he knew he still did.
He shut her mouth gently when he regained control, his hands surgically unwavering as he closed her eyes for her, so she almost looked peaceful. It was the only thing he could do for her. He gave her one last look before snatching the box of supplies off the counter, anger coursing through him. He felt the Curse Seal react, and he fought to keep it down. No…he wanted to face Orochimaru as himself.
Sasuke reached the room again, and he threw open the doors with enough force that the wood cracked. Orochimaru looked at him, sipping tea calm-as-you-please. He smiled at the dark haired boy, giving him a knowing look. "Something wrong, Sasuke-kun?"
He would stay with Orochimaru for now, but only to become strong enough to kill the snake nin. It was obvious he still had those damn bonds he needed to sever, and it wouldn't do to have his emotions get in the way of his training. If he left now, he wouldn't be able to rest until he saw that she was safe, and that was unacceptable. He needed to get her out of his head.
Black eyes became emotionless, and Sasuke was grateful that Orochimaru couldn't see the hatred rolling around inside of him. The bastard had obviously set this up for a reason, probably because he was trying to keep his new body from leaving. He was trying to make Sasuke see that he still had weaknesses that needed to be taken care of, and that could only be done with the Sannin. And he was right. Sasuke was still clinging to things that he needed to have abandoned a long time ago. Still…
I will kill you and you will suffer, Sasuke thought.
The tattoo seals were applied easily enough with a jutsu, and the youngest Uchiha's became enraged again when the supplies he had been sent for weren't necessary. Orochimaru had done all that just to see his apprentice suffer and to teach him a lesson. By the smile on his face, he was enjoying seeing how tense Sasuke was in repressed fury.
Orochimaru looked at his mentee's new tattoos. "Go on, Sasuke-kun. Test them out."
There was a knock at the door as Sasuke performed the seals for the technique. When given permission, Kabuto entered.
"Forgive me for interrupting, Orochimaru-sama," he said, sending a knowing smirk towards the Uchiha. It was then that Sasuke knew how to test out his new abilities.
Sasuke flash-stepped towards the medic, touching a hand to a seal and feeling satisfied when a kunai appeared. Before Kabuto even knew what was happening, Sasuke sunk the weapon in the man's chest, through ribs, making sure it punctured a lung. A dark satisfaction spread through him when the medic coughed and blood began dripping from his mouth. But…it wasn't enough. Kabuto still wasn't in enough pain. He had to learn what would happen if he ever tried something like this again. Sasuke twisted the blade, smirking at the gurgle of blood and the pained cry that came from the man's lips.
She had screamed, too.
It was then that Sasuke decided there was only one person he knew of that could represent the madness he was feeling now. He had decided the fourth person for his team. He had a plan, he had a team, now all he had to do was wait for the opportune moment.
"Sasuke-kun, that's enough." Orochimaru said, sounding more amused rather than scolding.
But it wouldn't be enough. No pain would ever compare to thinking she had been tortured and left dead and discarded. He vowed that when he killed Orochimaru, the snake would suffer far more than the woman on the table ever had. Orochimaru would scream and beg for mercy as Sasuke killed him in the slowest and most agonizing way possible. He would welcome death as the Sharingan user tore apart his mind. And still, Sasuke thought bitterly, it wouldn't be enough.
Author's Notes: I must admit, I did like indulging my dark side. It was interesting to take Sasuke's side for once. This little vignette from Sasuke's time with Orochimaru is short, I know, but was long enough to help me to get over my writer's block. In fact, you can thank this little baby for chapter 8 of Catch 22. Without it, I'm still not sure that chapter would be written. Anyway, I hope you liked it even though Sakura doesn't actually appear in the story. As always, please review and let me know what you think!