In the world of shinobi, who can tell what is, ultimately, the 'truth'? Sasuke went to Orochimaru to gain the power to kill his brother. Orochimaru had his own plans. But you didn't think his was t...
There was no pomp. No fanfare. No celebration.
There never has been, and there never would be.
It would have been difficult in the extreme to justify, and far too much of a hassle to arrange. Better this way, with unassuming happenstance and clandestine meetings.
Not that there were many of these to attend anyway.
Well, maybe two.
And in both cases, the taciturn man - you couldn't call him 'young' anymore in anything but the most literal sense of the word - would only nod and utter a brief:
A Beautiful Lie
a Naruto oneshot fic
A teenager ran.
He ran like the wind, leapt like lightning, and reacted with all the fluidity of quicksilver.
And something in the back of his mind screamed, with an ever smaller voice all the while.
It was _good_ to be king!
Or Kage, for that matter.
And Shodai Otokage Orochimaru was on top of the world.
This body, it was everything he'd ever expected, ever _dreamed_ it would be. Full of vitality, full of vigor, and with the Curse Seal's erosion of an already fractured psyche, it was also undoubtedly _his_, without risk of those pesky side-effects showing up in a few years when the host-soul would normally react badly to his 'presence'.
And, of course, the eyes.
Though that, while it should have been the crowning point of it all, was a bit odd. A bit disappointing?
No matter, it was just a question of proper use, and he wasn't a genius for nothing. Already, the Sharingan was giving up its secrets, and they fell one by one into his grasp.
The high of learning what breadth of possibility that opened up to him was worth the slight disappointment of only having an 'underdeveloped' one to play with.
Unlocking the Mangekyo was something that he'd savor, every step of the way.
And the prospect of introducing his dear 'friends' and onetime 'comrades' to all the interesting little things he'd learned about the human body and uses of chakra thereon would only sweeten the ordeal.
Well, for him anyway. For them, not so much.
Otogakure bustled like a colony of ants, and its sea of humanity parted before him as he passed through. Only natural, after all.
If you didn't get out of the way when the Kage had that particular look on his face, no matter whose face it was at the moment, you'd likely end up spending the next several days strapped onto a medical gurney and being made ... use ... of.
And not in a happy fun way.
Well, not for you anyway. For him, yes, quite, would you like dango with that?
All was going well, the Kage was happy, do _not_ draw attention to yourself.
Concentrate, instead, on the inevitable conflict.
Oto had been marshaling its forces, recruiting left and right, and stringing a web of alliances that had it looking like a spider perched and waiting for the kill.
With Konoha as the fly.
The Kage had every reason to be happy.
It was his ambition, given shape. Given form. Given _life_.
The security seals etched and inked, and in some cases burned into the doorway to his study flared, reading the chakra signature hiding underneath that of Uchiha Sasuke's body, and allowing him entry into this most private demesne ...
... and he stopped in the door.
"Kabuto," he sighed ruefully. "Naughty, naughty. Are you getting sloppy in your old age?"
The silver haired medic-nin, crouched in front of one of Orochimaru's many scroll holders, didn't as much as flinch at the voice.
Yakushi Kabuto was not one given to nervousness. In fact, he was nearly the epitome of self-control, so the lack of reaction wasn't unusual at all.
What was unusual was the fact that he was still _there_ ...
"Really, if you must spy, at least try and be circumspect about it, or I may find my use for you ... waning."
It wasn't that Orochimaru didn't _know_ the medic nin was spying on him. Really, it was only to be expected, seeing as the brat was his favorite cat's paw even after all these years. He'd played the double and triple cross game so often, it was a wonder he could still keep his loyalties straight.
Or, no. Not really.
He wanted the snake sannin to believe that, yes, but the truth was, and Orochimaru knew this, that Yakushi Kabuto simply didn't _have_ loyalties.
It made him the perfect spy, double agent, and funnel for misinforming his enemies.
Still no answer.
Which was not something to take without a bit of caution.
He hadn't made it this far without being able to employ such.
The Sharingan blazed into life, tomoe spinning, scanning the seemingly empty office with but a glance that took in everything ...
... the snapping of fingers. A sound carrying through the suddenly deathly still office.
'The door? I didn't close ...'
And inside, the jarring, instant _death_ of the ever-present scraps of what had once been Uchiha Sasuke, leaving Orochimaru 'alone'.
Kabuto's body toppled to one side, turning as it fell.
Blackish brown streaks marred the face and head - old, dried up blood from the eyes, the nose, the mouth, the ears - and the silver haired nin's expression was a mask of horror.
A crystal carafe full of water standing atop his desk shattered into a million pieces, with a sound like the plucking of a single, exquisitely tuned string that had broken the moment it felt a finger's touch.
It was followed by vertigo, and Orochimaru staggered, falling to one knee, one hand instantly folding into the beginning of a sequence of seals so esoteric he'd been saving for an emergency ... while the other didn't.
It hung, quite limp and twitching, with a sort of numbness emanating from it.
"What is this? WHO DARES?! Show yourself!"
From behind him?
Coming around a body that suddenly didn't want to move. Or do anything other than breathe.
He set the sake cup aside, and bowed, then poured the contents of the other one onto the stone.
That was all.
There was no more that needed to be said, and no more that he felt himself capable of saying.
His teacher was dead.
Vengeance truly did leave a bitter taste in your mouth, even if it wasn't _strictly_ vengeance.
He didn't turn around.
"Observant as always."
"Sarcastic as always. And arrogant. What, were you just going to fade away now?"
"It's not so bad. To be nothing special. Just another face in the crowd, without the worries and cares that come from our particular lifestyle. In fact, it's rather liberating."
"So ... there's nothing I can say to make you change your mind?"
"And what would I do, sempai? It's really for the best. Turn the page, close the chapter. The book's still got plenty left. But ..."
Arms wrapped around him, and for a moment he smelled wild lilies, a hint of spice ...
"You! What the hell _is_ this?!"
The apparition smirked.
Apparition, because there was no way ... no way this was real. His mind refused to even consider the possibility as the chakra he still had spun the Copy Wheel Eye faster and faster, trying desperately to break through whatever ...
"Genjutsu. You remember genjutsu, don't you, Hebi?"
"Impossible! Even this state of the Sharingan was able to fend off the Mangekyo! All my research ...!"
A laugh. Short, bitter, but still unmistakably a laugh.
The voice said.
"There _is_ no Mangekyo. Or rather, Mangekyo Sharingan is simply a ... fabrication. One specifically tailored to entice _you_."
Orochimaru's heart skipped a beat.
His already pale face went so white it was almost blue.
"There is no Uchiha Sasuke. Or rather, Uchiha Sasuke is simply a ... fabrication. One specifically tailored to entice _you_."
The man stepped away, head half turned.
No scratched headband.
Nothing but plain black and grey shinobi fatigues, with kunai and gear pouches here and there, and the occasional ceramic inlay at critical spots. Generic in the extreme.
Lazily spinning trio of tomoe on crimson background.
"But then, you don't look too hard at something if you dearly _want_ that something to be exactly what you see, do you, Orochimaru?"
"You're going to be obstinate about this, aren't you?" Uchiha Itachi sighed.
He staggered, completely out of breath after the sucker-punch.
"You obsessed, honor-bound, moronic ...!"
"The student surpasses the master," he smirked lopsidedly, though the wisdom of such an action and such a comment was highly debatable given how volatile the situation was.
Red eyes met black ones.
"Well what the hell do you expect me to say after ..."
With a wince, he straightened.
"How about, 'good job'?"
"_What_ Akatsuki? The foolish Akatsuki? The blind Akatsuki? The Akatsuki that had goals you scoffed at, and dismissed as foolish, but still made use of?"
And to Orochimaru's dawning horror, and sudden comprehension ... Uchiha Itachi grinned.
"The Akatsuki that made use of _me_ to contact you?"
And with every word ...
"But don't feel too bad. Feel flattered. It took years of dedicated work, effort, and discipline to get this far. You sannin ... Bijuu are about the only things harder to kill, I swear."
... the realization sunk in ...
"Then again, I had motivation, didn't I? That body you're in? Turning my _family_ into a twisted mockery of itself in your quest for a perfect container? I'll be the first to say that they weren't perfect ..."
... that something terrible was happening. He fell, his body now limp, and smelled the sharp tang of feces and urine as sight dimmed and only hearing seemed to remain ...
"... but neither were they brainwashing their children at birth, or planning a coup and slaughter just for the sake of promises _you_ made to them for after you'd become Hokage. I hope you understand, this isn't just personal. This is giri."
"Well, comfort yourself. You did get one thing right. There _is_ a Tsukuyomi. It's my pride and joy. Something I've been working on for years, to do just _this_, to get it just _right_. Right now, you can't move. Your body is slowly shutting itself down, and ... ah! So, you're seeing you're pretty much anchored firmly? Didn't notice you were doing that every time you messed with the Sharingan, did you? Trapping yourself into the hell of a slowly deteriorating mind you've basically damned _yourself_ to, turning you into a vegetable as your mind is stripped away, piece by piece, one moment after another. That is Tsukuyomi. Welcome to your nightmare."
One was startled, the other was not.
"Tsunade-sama," Itachi nodded.
"Itachi-kun. Kurenai-kun. Getting re-acquainted, I see."
"More like trying to talk him out of this being a going away conversation," the crimson-eyed jounin admitted.
"What more is there? I'm done ... and what I'm done with," the last Uchiha trailed off.
Looked at the rooftops, the streets, the trees.
Looked at the Monument.
Looked at Konohagakure no Sato.
"Kurenai-chan," he said, with actual affection in his voice for the first time in years ... "When you've spent so long giving them a beautiful lie ... do you know how ugly the truth would appear?"
END a beautiful lie