Actions

Work Header

Reacquainted With Your Body

Chapter Text

How did I end up here, at Orochimaru's base, about to meet with him privately? The sun was setting fast as I crossed the threshold of what could best be described as a snake pit with an overabundance of limbs. Fear, bewilderment, and delirious yearning all filled me. There was a good chance this would end badly, yet I was compelled to see him. So much had been left unsaid between us. If nothing else, I deserved some answers.

 

All of this had been set in motion about a week before. The workday was over and I was walking back to my flat. I wasn't prepared for the sight that I stumbled upon that afternoon, the sight of him. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary prior to it. Just the same old, same old.

Life had gotten dull, but I preferred it that way. Tedium, for me, was structure; something I could cling to. It gave me a sense of security. Over the years, I had fallen into a quasi-comfortable routine of repressing the emotions and memories of my youth. My whole life was work, interspersed with frequent snacks. Yes, sweets were the one pleasure I allowed myself. Shovelling away dango got me through the sadness. 

I didn't care about having a real sex life and I sure as hell wasn't going to get suckered into needing love. Love was in my long-buried past. Yes, I loved him. And he permitted me to think he had loved me. That was before he ripped my heart out of my goddamn chest and left me to go crawling back to the village on my own. 

Truth be told, I never stopped loving him. Whatever I did, I couldn't change my heart. So I resigned myself to loneliness, resentment, and a hell of a lot of denial. It was fine, so long as I didn't see him. But now he had this progeny who'd become a Leaf genin. And to top it all off, he was on fairly respectable terms with Konoha. So of course I was bound to cross paths with him again.

It was inevitable. On that afternoon walk home, I passed him on the street. Our eyes met, yet we both kept walking. My heart dropped. I was terrified of the prospect of being accosted by him. Though when he didn't, I couldn't help but feel snubbed. 

Did he not recognise me? That was possible, given how plump I'd gotten. Yet I still had the same face and the same hairstyle. No, he had to know it was me. He must've been giving me the cold shoulder! But why? Did he hate me? Did he not care? Did he find me repulsive? Was he trying to avoid confrontation?

The way he looked had taken me by storm. His hair was tied up so elegantly. Typically, when I see guys with their hair up, they strike me as kind of silly-looking, but he was beautiful. Then again, he was always a beautiful man. His face appeared somewhat softer, but it didn't detract from his visage in the slightest. His eyes and his complexion were as enthralling as ever. All his angles and contours were graceful. The inscrutable look he gave me made my stomach do flips.

Was I just hot and bothered? Orochimaru was the only person I'd ever felt that way about. That wasn't something I could seek out, though. He had put me through so much pain. There was no way I could let myself talk to him, let alone chat him up. I couldn't even find the courage to look back to see him after we passed each other. I simply kept walking.

When I got home, I had a good cry. The first of many that week. He was haunting me. I had thought for years that I was over it, that it couldn't bother me any longer. Now I was missing him again. The intensity of our closeness, the unfathomable depths of my love for him, the hurt he had caused me- it all came crashing down. He'd been my caregiver, my sensei, and eventually my lover. In my heart, I continued to adore and idolise him. I hated myself for it, as I couldn't bring myself to hate him.

Why the hell did I care? On the inside, I screamed for him to get out of my head and stop tormenting me. I had been doing so well, only to fall apart after a minor encounter. He shouldn't have even registered in my mind. I should have been able to suppress those confusing feelings. However, my turmoil escalated. I couldn't get Orochimaru off my mind. Part of me wished I had spoken to him, the other part wished I hadn't noticed him at all.

 

A couple days later, I was called to the Hokage's office. At that point, I was in shambles, obsessing over the incident without reprieve. I assumed I was being called in for a lecture on how my work was slipping. The other teachers had been griping at me about neglecting my responsibilities. I hadn't the nerve to tell anyone why I'd been so out of sorts.

I steeled myself for the earful I was about to get. Perhaps I'd be lucky and I wouldn't have to give him an honest explanation for my sub-par job performance. Taking a deep breath, I went inside.

Naruto looked up from the papers on his desk. His eyes went wide. I wasn't sure if that was a good sign or not. "Hello, Anko-san. I'm arranging for you to have a leave of absence from the academy. A few days, starting tomorrow. Or longer if it turns out you need it. There are plenty of chunin to substitute for you."

At least he hadn't shouted, the way Tsunade would have. That made me feel a little better. "I'm sorry, Hokage-sama. I've had a lot on my mind recently. I swear I'll pay better attention to my students." My neck drooped so that I was staring at the floor.

"Huh? Do you think you're in trouble?"

I lifted my head and gaped at him. "What else would it be?"

"I got a special mission request for you," he replied. "Normally, I'd send out a team for this type of thing, but he specifically asked for you alone. Since it's just an 'informal meeting' and with you being as tough as you are, you should be more than okay on your own."

"What? A mission? Someone asked for me?" I squinted at him. It sounded so bizarre.

He laughed. "You're babbling, Anko-san." If someone else had teased me like that, I would've taken it as an insult, but I guess the little brat grew on me. He's the only one of the Hokage I've known to personally win my admiration.

Naruto then cleared his throat. "Seriously, it's more of an invitation. He said he wants to have 'an informal visit to discuss personal matters.' Whatever that means... Since our relations with Otogakure have changed so much, I think you should do it."

My heart skipped several beats. "You mean Orochimaru? He wants to talk to me?" So maybe he hadn't meant to snub me. Maybe- no, it couldn't be possible. I had to be realistic.

"Yeah, didn't I mention that? Uh, maybe I forgot..." Naruto scratched his head and shrugged. "Anyway, I guess he wants to talk to you about how Mitsuki's doing or something like that."

The adrenaline went coursing through me. "Why not Konohamaru? He's the boy's sensei." 

"He was insistent upon you and no one else. I don't know why he's inviting you, but I think it's a good idea that you go. For diplomacy and for a little reconnaissance. I want you to see if there's anything unusual going on inside his headquarters. We've had shinobi keeping watch outside, but a little peek within couldn't hurt."

My heart was pounding so fast. "You're not worried that something bad will happen?"

"I have total faith in you, Anko-san." He smiled again. That smile of Naruto's can be damn heartwarming. It put me at ease for the first time since the encounter with Orochimaru.

"At least one of us does," I groaned. I was still telling myself not to get my hopes up; despite the boost of confidence the Hokage had given me.

"I know you're a great ninja, even if you are a crazy snake lady!" Naruto chuckled at his little epithet for me.

"Still playing the tough guy, huh?" I gave a weak laugh. "Just kidding, Hokage-sama. Your trust means a lot to me, so I guess I better go prove you right." Now I'd have to steel myself to face someone else. All the muscles in my body tensed. I sighed, "Who knows? Maybe it will do me good to talk to him. I just hope I don't disappoint you."

"There might not be anything to find, but I'd like to be sure." Naruto didn’t seem to pick up on the exact reasons for my concerns.

"Is that why you're giving me an indefinite schedule, despite it being just an informal visit?" I probably should’ve explained what was vexing me, but I didn’t have the guts. Plus, I was afraid that Naruto would change his mind about letting me go if he knew anything more. Facing Orochimaru was something I needed to do if I wanted to have peace of mind again.

"Oh no, he said you were welcome to stay as long as you wanted." He started chuckling again. "Now that I think about it, that does sound a little sneaky. Maybe he wants to wave his tongue at you some more!"

The suggestion gave me a nervous twitch. I wasn't sure if it was from the chance that Naruto was right, or if he might have been referring to an actual incident, other than that time at the Chunin Exam. He couldn't have possibly known about any of that, but it still bothered me.

Trying my best not to dwell on it while there, I decided to rag him back a little more. "I know you're the Hokage and I do respect you, but you can be real pain."

"But a pain who's letting you take an extended sabbatical with pay," he replied, laughing more. That’s one of the things I like best about Naruto. He and I can kid each other that way and not take it personally. 

"Be careful, I might not want to come back." I gave him the akanbe; pulling down my eyelid and sticking my tongue out. Instantly, it hit me that my words could be taken several different ways, some worse than others. "Er, I mean, not like Sasuke! Or, uh, not like I'm going to elope with Orochimaru!" What the hell did I just say?! I covered my mouth with my hand before I could make more of an idiot of myself. "Ugh, I'm sorry! Could you just pretend like I wasn't talking rubbish there? I don't know where my brain went!" My whole face was red.

Naruto stared at me quizzically. "I guess I can let it slide, seeing as you are totally insane." He punctuated that with a smirk.

"Oh, thank you! Now I don't have to die of embarrassment," I sighed, wiping the sweat from my forehead. "Guess I better go pack some things for my trip to Otogakure. I want to make a good impression and all."

"He asked that you arrive in the evening, two days from now, so you should leave first thing tomorrow. Just send a messenger bird to update me on your progress, when you have time." With another smile, he added, "Oh, and good luck, Anko-san."

"Thank you, Hokage-sama. I will do my best." After a bow, I took my leave. My nerves were still shot, but at least I didn't feel like crying again.

Chapter Text

The door opened and there he stood. He looked just as he did that day on the street, except for his hair. It was simply tied back, rather than piled high on his head. Now I was able to tell it had grown out a bit longer.

"Hello, Orochimaru-sama," I said, affecting a stoic façade. The likelihood I was fooling him was remote, but I had to try.

He smiled arrogantly at me. "I knew you'd come."

I pursed my lips. "What is this visit all about? You could've asked for any Leaf ninja. Why did it have to be me?"

Orochimaru brought his hand, partially hidden by his sleeve, up to his chin. "I wanted to have the pleasure of your company. Since that day we chanced upon each other, I've been feeling curious about you, my dear. We have a lot of catching up to do after so many years apart." 

My eyes narrowed. "And?"

"And I thought we could discuss things over dinner. Just the two of us." The way he looked me over made me think I was the intended meal, and not in the literal sense. I wasn't even in the door and he was already chipping away at my resolve.

"You requested my presence here for a conference and I find you waiting with dinner for two? If I didn't know you better, I'd say you planned this to be a date." I arched an eyebrow at him. Silently, I chided myself for wishing it were exactly that. 

"Think what you will." His tone was airy.

"You have some ulterior motive," I grumbled.

Orochimaru answered in a languid exhale, "If I do, you'll just have to find out." 

He motioned for me to follow him down the winding passageway. "Anko-chan," he said, glancing at me over his shoulder as he led me inside. "That dress..."

I sped up to walk beside him. "You like it?" I found myself a little excited that he might be complimenting me, but tried not to let on. Feigning detachment around Orochimaru was a most unnatural thing for me. I could usually mange it well enough around comrades, but with him it was torturous, largely because it seldom worked. The effort would surely prove pointless, other than as a way to strain all the muscles in my neck.

Facing forward again, he responded gently, "It's very becoming on you."

"Thank you," I mumbled, blushing. "You look nice, too." Nice was an understatement, but I didn't feel like stroking his ego with my honest opinion.

The haughty smile returned to his face. Orochimaru must have seen right through me. Of course he could. He knew me inside and out.

 

We reached an antechamber where a young man was waiting. He appeared to be an older version of Mitsuki, but with a scarred up face and a cigarette dangling from his lips. 

"This is Log," Orochimaru began. "Everyone else is out on business, so he's going to serve the food."

Log took a long drag from his cigarette before bowing. "Hajimemashite, Anko-san," he said in a very tranquil voice.

"Hajimemashite, Log-chan," I replied, bowing as well. Unlike Orochimaru, I had no grievances with this young man. As such, I wanted to treat him with the utmost courtesy.

"My parent wishes for a tête-à-tête with you, hence I've already dined. Perhaps I will join you at breakfast, though. If you'll excuse me, I will fetch your meal from the kitchen." Log bowed again, then left.

"He's yours, also?" I asked.

Orochimaru nodded very slightly.

"He looks a great deal like his brother. They both have your eyes." 

A smug look flashed briefly across his face when I said that. It seemed I had unwittingly managed to stroke his ego after all. 

His hand settled on the small of my back and nudged me forward. "Come along, my dear. The dining room is through the next door."

Orochimaru guided me to my seat in the adjoining chamber. My chair was at the right corner, next to the head of the table, where he then sat.

His eyes focused in on my hands where I rested them on the table. "You painted you nails since that day. I find them pleasing."

A tremor ran through my fingers and I looked down at the coral nail polish I wore. "Rest assured, it wasn't to please you. I'll have you know I did it before you invited me here. I was having trouble sleeping and I read somewhere that mani-pedis can be calming."

"And the perfume? You're wearing more of it this evening." His eyebrow shot up.

I shrugged. "Maybe I didn't want to smell sweaty." All right, that was a lie. I got a little gussied up. For the life of me, I don't know why. I just wanted to look sexy and impress him for whatever reason, so I put on extra perfume and make-up. That, and my fancy knickers, but I wasn't about to advertise those! Unless I leaned over or the slit of my dress happened to ride up a little... But nothing more, no matter how much he turned me on! I just wanted to be a tease as revenge for him still being impossibly gorgeous.

"You have all these walls built up around you, my dear." Orochimaru shook his head and tsked. "Haven't you learned walls won't keep me out?"

The door creaked open then, saving me from having to answer that. Log stepped inside, laden with two trays of food. He seemed overloaded, but he eased everything onto the table without a hitch. The meal was a tempura set. That was fine by me, despite my wistfulness for Orochimaru spoiling me rotten with sweets when I was little.

Orochimaru looked on as his son served us. "I made several pieces of kabocha tempura for you. As I recall, that is one of the few vegetables you are fond of." A serene smile took over his countenance.

"You cooked something special for me? How thoughtful of you." I was genuinely touched. Then it hit me that I was letting my guard down. Without wasting another beat, I pushed myself to be glib and condescending. "Has time softened you? Or is it because you're a single parent now?"

He smirked and threw a verbal punch right back at me. "Is that your biological clock I hear? It must be on its last ticks by now." My comment clearly hadn't fazed him.

Equally unfazed, I proceeded to let him know how poorly he missed the mark. "Yes, just about. But you know that never concerned me. Having a baby is the last thing I need. I have zero maternal instincts to speak of and I find young children to be particularly irritating."

His lips stretched into a sly grin. "However did you become a teacher?" Rather than wait for an answer, he began eating.

"I don't abuse my authority, like some people do." Unlike the playful barbs Naruto and I shared, this back-and-forth was meant to sting. I still had plenty of anger and hurt over our past, while he never let an insult slide without a nasty retort.

Returning from the kitchen, Log brought in a tea kettle. I'd been so wrapped up in the verbal sparring with Orochimaru, that I hadn't even noticed him leave. The young man looked back and forth between us, as if to gauge the tension in the room, but his expression remained placid.

While his tea cup was being filled, Orochimaru stared intently at me. "You think I abused my authority over you? You only had to say no, but that's apparently a word you are incapable of. At least with me." He briefly ran the tips of his fingers over my hand.

Ignoring how sweet it felt, I fired off another rejoinder. "Let's not get started on who can't say what to the other." Feeling quite proud of such a personal blow, I took a large bite of pumpkin fritter.

Orochimaru sipped his tea. "You take offense when none was intended. Learn to relax, my dear. We could revisit my lesson on the subject now if that would help loosen you up. You do look as if you are in need of my talents." His tongue emerged from his mouth and slowly licked his lips.

"Is that appropriate to discuss around youthful ears?" I had begun to squirm in my chair at the suggestion. The innuendo would've been embarrassing enough without Log there.

"I was merely referring to a backrub. I think he can handle the shock," Orochimaru said, smirking.

I chortled under my breath. "When did you ever massage my back?"

"Right now." Orochimaru promptly stood up and got behind me. He went about rubbing my shoulders and neck as if it were the most natural thing in the world. 

I shivered when I felt his hands on me. It didn't feel uncomfortable, but it was most perplexing. A voice in me said to push him away, but my body told me this was heaven and I'd be a fool to stop him.

Orochimaru purred, "You're trembling, Anko-chan. Am I making it worse?"

"No." At first, I didn't recognise the pathetic squeak that answered as my own voice. 

"Good. I prefer you to tremble when I do things you enjoy." He lowered his head to whisper in my ear, even as he kept massaging my shoulders. "Hmm, I take it there's something else you would prefer? Our favourite thing, perhaps? That can be arranged. Though if you don't mind, I'll save it for my dessert."

The hairs on my neck stood on end, much to my dismay, as he would easily notice. "That's what you were really insinuating in the first place." My breathing was quite heavy and my voice raspy. 

Orochimaru straightened up. "Was I? Maybe, maybe not." All of the sudden, he released my shoulders. His hands slid up to stroke my hair, running his fingers through the bangs and sides. 

Mercifully, he let go and sat down again before I succumbed to his touch. If it had gone any further, I might have leaned back into him or tried to kiss him or done some other idiotic thing like that. Petting my hair was something he did do to me in the old days. It turned me to putty in his hands then, too.

"It feels almost like back when you were my sensei." I was in a stupor from the physical contact.

"I'm still your sensei. That will never change." He lifted his soup bowl to be level with his collar and indulged in the contents.

After pouring more tea for us, Log excused himself from the room. I don't think he heard what Orochimaru whispered to me, but he must have felt like an interloper during that exchange. I felt a little bad for him, yet I knew the rest of dinner would be less awkward for all of us with him elsewhere.

We were now officially having a tête-à-tête. Feeling a mite anxious about it, I attempted to take control of the conversation. "You look a little different."

He swallowed the bite he'd been savouring. "As do you. You've filled out like ripening fruit."

"So you think I'm"-

"Still beautiful as ever," he interrupted before I could accuse him of insulting me. His making it a compliment caught me off guard. I stared at him, slack-jawed.

"Beautiful, little Anko-chan... Perhaps we should explore each other's new bodies later tonight. I would like to familiarise myself with these curves you've gained." Maybe it was my imagination, but it looked like he was trying to suck the food from his chopsticks to tantalise me.

I blushed and looked down, but tried to shake it off. Why did he have to be so damn seductive? Well, I wasn't about to give in that easily. "Like I'm really going to jump back in bed with you," I muttered. "At least show some tact, instead of openly coming on to me the minute we're alone."

"Why bother with such formalities? That was one of the most important subjects I instructed you in. It was I who made a woman of you." He licked his lips again. "And it would be such a shame to let that figure go to waste."

"We might have done that when I was a teenager, but you don't have a lifetime pass to my knickers!" I took a large swig of tea, downing the whole cup. "Did you turn into an old pervert or are you just trying to piss me off?" With that, I slammed the cup on the table.

"I am simply being honest about my desires. If you tried it, you might not feel so flustered. Instead, you're torn between what you want and what you think you should want. You've convinced yourself that you hate me in an attempt to stifle the desires within you." He gave a blasé sigh. "I taught you better than this, Anko-chan. If you want something, pursue it. If that something wants you as well, you're a fool not to take it."

"You're not worth my desire for you." As soon as I said it, I knew I had shown my hand. It was pretty much a confession that I did want him. I panicked and blurted out a lame denial to save face. "I mean, not that I do desire you! Because I don't!"

"Is that supposed to convince me?" He looked me up and down as if he were trying to caress me with his eyes.

I slurped down broth from my soup, feeling thirsty and not caring if my etiquette had faltered. "This isn't going to work. I'm not merely some conquest of yours."

"Did I ever say that's all you are? I certainly don't recall that." His gaze bore into me, as if I upset him with such an aspersion.

"You don't have to say it." The feeling that I was about to cry began to take hold. I just couldn't believe his interest was sincere. I wanted it to be, badly. How could I trust him again, though? 

"You were once so confident and cheerful. Where does this negativity come from?" His tone sounded somehow troubled.

"Getting used and experimented on tends to do that to a person." I stuffed my mouth with the remnants of my meal, which was down to rice at this point.

He clicked his tongue. "Still holding that grudge, I see."

"Why shouldn't I? You haven't done anything to deserve my forgiveness." I tried to sound angry, but my voice failed, manifesting as weak and sad.

He poured more tea in both our cups. "And what if I wanted to make it up to you?"

I shook my head. "You wouldn't do that."

He leaned in closer to me. "Maybe I wish to learn what it's like to make amends."

I shouldn't have even entertained the notion that he could possibly make up for betraying me, but I was caving. He made me so weak with that voice and those eyes. And part of me was still so damn hopeful. I just couldn't find it in me to despise him. I was too soft and stupidly attached to my memories.

"You'd have to give me a very good reason," I murmured.

"What would that be, hmm? Tell me, my Anko-chan." His tone was quite tender. He was making it increasingly difficult to stay mad at him.

I looked down and sighed. "Maybe... Maybe if you would say you love me. If you really loved me then... If you could possibly love me now..." The words just poured out of me. The last thing I wanted was to confirm that I still loved him and yearned for him to love me back, yet there I was, doing exactly that.

Feeling like I had backed myself into a corner, I came to my senses and found the resolve to get defensive once more. "But you won't say it! You never say those words."

"You doubt my feelings? That hurts." He pouted somewhat facetiously, but then he raised an eyebrow at me. "You never used to doubt me, my dear."

After another chug of tea, I began tidying up my setting at the table. "You gave me a reason to, remember? It's the same reason I'm holding this grudge against you." No one could say I never sulked.

Finishing the last few mouthfuls of his rice, he looked to be mulling it over. He drank more of his tea before he answered, "All I have to do is say that and you'll forgive me for hurting you so badly?"

"It would at least be a start." The tears desperately wanted to flow, but I choked them down with all my might.

"I could ask if you still love me, but I know the answer to that question." He grinned as if he had just solved some great puzzle.

"Why do you constantly have to be so self-assured, while I'm always insecure?" I covered my face with my palm. "Though I probably wouldn't be this way if you'd told me you loved me from the beginning! Then I could believe that I truly mattered to you."

"Honestly, you women and your obsession with those three words." He rested his chin on his hand, looking terribly bored. "Males never give me this trouble."

I scowled at him. "But I know you like hearing it!"

"Hmm, don't you think it's more romantic when it's naturally understood to be true, without words?" His apathetic expression then contorted into a leer. "Besides, I find the three sweetest words to hear are, 'Come inside me.'"

"Like I said, you won't do it. You're only interested in"-

He interrupted me once more. "Don't rush to conclusions. Reluctance isn't the same as refusal, Anko-chan." Orochimaru smiled warmly at me. It was a smile I hadn't seen since my youth. "If I am going to earn your forgiveness, I expect that I must make concessions."

"All right, then say it." I folded my arms across my chest.

He laughed. "Here? Now? No, I didn't mean I'd do that. If I'm to say it, I need the appropriate setting. A mere dinner conversation just won't do."

I sneered, "Are you expecting a fancy dress ball? I'm not a kid, anymore."

"Nor I. Really, Anko-chan, are you so naïve? The only atmosphere that will suffice is the most adult one of all. It happens to be down the left corridor." The corners of his mouth rose and his fangs gleamed.

"You mean your bedroom? You actually think"-

Orochimaru sternly cut me off. "It's that or nothing."

I gulped. "Last time we did that, I wasn't exactly an adult."

"You were from my vantage point," he drawled whilst stroking the rim of his tea cup with one finger. His ravenous glare stung me. I knew he was remembering me naked, straddling him. "Quite the woman, at that. 'All the way inside,' remember?" He quoted the exact words I had used that night, in a falsetto to mimic how high my voice used to be.

I looked down to escape the pull of his rapacious stare and to try to hide my embarrassment. "Why are you so eager to screw me again?" I felt like a fish on a line and he was reeling me in.

"Nostalgia, perhaps," he sibilated. "We made beautiful music together in those days. I'd like recapture those delicious sounds. Hearing that would put me in the mood to express my feelings. Sort of like accompaniment."

This whole idea was ridiculous and perverse, yet my resistance was crumbling. I think I was arguing with my conscience about it more than I was with him, at that point. I threw up my hands. "I have to sleep with you in order for you to say you love me, so I can forgive you for hurting me? That's just so crazy!"

"Anko, Anko, Anko," he replied, shaking his head.  "There you go putting words in my mouth again. I didn't say anything about sleeping. Though I'm sure you'll pass out sometime tomorrow morning."

"I don't have any interest in having sex with you," I muttered, looking down. I couldn't let him win. I had to keep fighting. 

"You don't fool me, my dear." In a hiss, he added, "I can smell you moistening." 

I gasped and quivered, then quickly tried to shrug off my arousal. "And what if we do it and you don't say it, huh?" Why did I sound like I was really negotiating this absurd deal? Sure, he was offering me what I longed for, but it was wrong. I was supposed to be stronger than this.

"I will say it. I have every intention of fulfilling this great need of yours." Those words and the sincerity in his voice made me believe him and doubt my own reasoning.

A shiver ran through me. "What if you say it and I still can't forgive you?"

He finished his tea and set the cup down. "I don't think that will be the case."

"What? Why?" My eyes went wide and I blinked slowly.

"I believe that in your heart, you've already forgiven me. That the one you're truly angry with is yourself. When you allow yourself to be loved, then you'll be able to let go of that bitterness. And I am the only one you'll accept. It's my love you've being seeking all these years. That's why I've decided to tell you and why we have to be making love during it." Orochimaru leered at me again and gave an aroused growl. "That, and it will be much more meaningful when our naked bodies are entwined and you're allowing me deep inside of you."

That mental image flashed through my mind. On its heels was the physical memory of having him there. It was warm and made my breath catch in my throat. "Orochimaru-sama..." My face was burning up and my eyelids didn't want to stay open.

"Trust me, Anko-chan. If nothing else, you'll at least feel loved when I'm pleasuring you." Why did he have to wrap me around his little finger that way? It was so unfair.

A whimper was the only audible reply I could give. My head was spinning and my chest heaved. That was all I could take. I had to have him forthwith. I wanted him and needed him, and not a damn thing else mattered. These longings had addled my brain and put me in a love-induced haze. Somehow, I managed an eager nod.

"That's my girl." Rising from his seat, he went to the door and called Log back in. "Clear the table, please. Anko and I wish to get reacquainted in my room. We will need privacy for the rest of the night."

Orochimaru walked over to me and took my hand. "Come now, Anko-chan. Let's not waste any more time."

Chapter Text

I followed him like a lamb to the slaughter. I couldn't believe I was going to do this; that I was submitting after so little resistance. Panic began to spark within my gut as we approached the door to his room. "Maybe I'm making a mistake. Maybe we shouldn't do this." My voice quavered with each word.

Orochimaru caressed my cheek and silently stared me down like he was about to kiss me. Then he very suddenly let go and sighed, "If that's what you want, my dear. I had hoped we could reconcile, yet I can't force you. I suppose I must leave you to sleep alone and let you go back to Konoha tomorrow." He idly smoothed down the sleeves of his haori, as if they were more wrinkled than they actually were.

My conscience was screaming at me to take to this way out, but I told it to shut up. Stop worrying, stop over-thinking! It's just sex! Sex with someone who's phenomenal at it! And who happens to be the one person you truly love. Do it! Have fun for a change! Give it a chance.

This opportunity was precisely what I had been wanting and needing for far too long. Being with Orochimaru again had been my guarded dream ever since we fell apart. I had been fighting it, and him, for most of my life, but secretly I couldn't stop loving him.

What was the worst that could happen? It wasn't as if the village would be destroyed if I let Orochimaru put his cock inside me. Anyway, I did need it. I needed both of the things he had offered. It'd been thirty years since I'd been touched. And it was nearly forty years since anyone said they loved me. My parents had been the only ones to ever tell me that.

"Wait," I murmured. Almost of its own accord, my hand reached out and timidly clasped his wrist. "I'm tired of being alone. I've missed us."

Instead of replying, he smiled at me and turned the doorknob. He took his shoes off and I followed suit. Orochimaru ushered me into the room, dimly lit by a couple of candles. As soon as we were inside, he barred the door and locked it behind his back.

Though it occurred to me that my escape route was blocked, the adrenaline rushing through me wasn't from dread. It just felt right to be near him. My anticipation of his touch consumed me. I thought that I might go mad if I couldn't have his arms around me by the end of the night.

"Let me make you feel good again," he said in that sensuous drawl of his. Orochimaru's hands fell upon me a second later and it took all my self-restraint not to pull him down on the floor and have him right there. Yet when he looked into my eyes, my acute vulnerability hit me, making my nerves fray. I shivered and turned my head away.

He inclined his head to whisper very softly in my ear, "When you tremble so, it makes me want to hold you to me and stroke your hair." To my recollection, that was the tenderest thing he'd ever said to me. And he did exactly that for a few minutes, while I concealed my misty eyes in the crook of his neck.

Orochimaru nudged my chin up so that our gaze would meet once more. "Kiss me, Anko-chan," he rasped. "Let me devour those red lips of yours. I long to know if they're as sweet as I remember." He clutched me by the waist, supporting my frame. It was rather lucky for me, as my knees had nearly given out at his beguiling words.

I couldn't resist any longer. I threw my arms around his neck and kissed him as if his breath were the only air in the room. Tasting his mouth for the first time in years made me feel alive again. To go that long without being held and kissed, how did I survive? Being alone was the most horrible feeling in the world. I was not going to go back to that. Toys may be a nice distraction, but they don't give that sense of closeness. And closeness is the only thing that matters in life. The rest is meaningless.

In due course, Orochimaru broke the kiss, yet he did not let go of me. "You haven't taken any lovers since me?" he asked, caressing my shoulders. His eyelids were half-open, as if he were quite sleepy. What had remained of my lipstick after dinner was now smeared on him, causing his mouth to look bloodstained.

"No," I mumbled, my eyes drifting away from him. So much for my fanciful notion that I'd grown sophisticated with age. Here he was, as sensual and worldly as ever, whilst I had been living like some luckless virgin.

"Only me, hmm?" he asked in a lilt. "Such a good girl." His hands crept around to my breasts, squeezing and fondling them through my clothing.

Part of me wanted to yell, 'What of it?' and insist that it had nothing to do with him, but I knew that would be a losing argument. He would easily shoot down such lies. Besides, it felt wonderful. My body was telling me to relax and enjoy it.

"They don't deserve you. None of them." His mouth returned to my ear. He grazed the lobe with his teeth, then licked it.

"Are you still jealous?" I pulled back to look him in the eye and flash a smirk. I couldn't help the burgeoning twinge of pride within me. It made me feel confident for a change. If he really wanted me that much, I was going to take full advantage of it.

"You have to ask?" He paused to stretch his tongue under the collar of my cloak and lick my jugular notch. "I made you who you are, my dear. I don't like the idea of anyone else claiming rights over you. Permit me my selfishness."

"Honestly, it doesn't bother me. I know you've had scores of lovers. I accepted that a long time ago." Though I shrugged, I was smiling and at ease. "The fact is no one else has piqued my interest and that's fine by me."

Orochimaru leered, showing his fangs and looking extremely proud of himself. "I've ruined you for all others, haven't I?"

"Oh, I don't know..." My eyebrow curved up in my best attempt at a come-hither stare. "Let's see how you do tonight."

"Challenge accepted," he quipped. My craftiness clearly did the trick. He was feeling compelled to surpass his old performance record. Which I deemed fitting, as he had a hell of a lot of time to make up for. I can be pretty devious sometimes, but I learned from the best.

Reaching under my cloak, I pulled off my rucksack and dropped it behind me. My bangles came next, hitting the ground with a clink.

"That bag is rather small. Did you pack scrolls with your travel needs sealed inside?" he asked, having let go of me.

I gave a big grin that made my nose and eyelids scrunch up. "Yes. I brought a good week's worth of clothes and sundries."

Orochimaru tapped his chin in contemplation. "Excellent. I intend to keep you here for some time."

I ran the tip of my index finger up and down the lapel of his haori. "Have you missed me that much?" I giggled.

"You'll see how much I've missed you soon enough." He drew me to him once more and we kissed without restraint. Orochimaru's tongue dominated the kisses, so that I had some trouble getting mine into his mouth. His hands roved about beneath my cloak, presumably to find out exactly how my dress fastened.

When we pulled back to breathe, he pressed a light kiss to my forehead. His lips then moved to my ear and he said softly, "Listen to me very carefully. You can't simply lie there and suffer if I go too far. Don't be afraid to tell me what you want and what you don't want. All you have to do is say no and I'll stop." His hands moved down my back, to my hips, and up again. Finally, he seized me by either side of my face and kissed me once more.

Though he soon let my mouth go, I barely withdrew from his lips. "I don't want you to stop. Make love to me, please, Orochimaru-sama," I answered, taking in shallow, squeaking breaths. "I need you right now, more than anything!" My hands gripped his collar.

"You've waited so long for this." He pressed his cheek to my temple. "I don't intend to disappoint you." His hands rose to unsnap my cloak. Orochimaru let it fall to the ground at my heels. "But when I do make you uncomfortable, you must promise to tell me, because in time, I will push you to the edge. I want to find out exactly where the edge is for you, so I'll know where to limit myself for both our sakes. It is my desire that you feel safe with me."

My eyes sank shut and I leaned against him. "I promise," I replied in an airy whimper. At that moment, I didn't care what he intended to try that would hurt, for I was quite out of my mind with lust and wanting to do everything imaginable. Yet I was moved that he was allowing me the final say and that he seemed to care about protecting me. In the past, he would sometimes ask if I wanted something, but he mostly just gave me orders or coaxed me into things if I was at all reluctant.

"Good girl," he said gently, with another kiss to my forehead. "You know, I prefer you in a dress. It's easier to get inside." Orochimaru untied the closures of my wraparound and slid it off my body. He grinned when his eyes took in my suspender belt. His hand stroked my thigh, then he hiked up my leg to unfasten the slings. "We can leave these on next time. Tonight, I want to see all of you."

He repeated the process on the other stocking while I watched intently. I held onto his shoulders, pressing my torso to his and breathing heavily. When the clips holding the welt were off, he reached around me to unhook the belt and toss it aside. Next, his hands travelled up to take off my bra. It ended up thrown across the room. Once more, he grinned at what he saw.

For a split second, he placed his palms on my bare breasts. Just as quickly, he released them and directed me to his bed with an arm around me. Orochimaru pushed the blanket down and sat on the edge of the mattress. He tugged me by the flank till I was seated beside him. When he started kissing my neck, I tilted my head to give him better access.

Orochimaru groaned in my ear, "I want you." He dragged his teeth over where the curse mark used to be. "You don't have anything left here to remember me by," he said in a plaintive whisper.

"Please don't do it again. It hurt too much." Remembering the agony of being given the curse mark made my anxieties resurface. My spine went rigid.

"I wasn't planning on it. That would spoil the mood. We did want tonight to be special, right?" He was brushing his face on my neck and shoulder. His hot breath misted my skin with condensation.

I turned halfway to re-establish eye contact with him. "If you really mean it."

"Stop second-guessing everything, Anko-chan. Let go of this fear and trust me." Orochimaru traced my lips with his thumb. "Allow me to give you the things you want and need."

Hesitantly, I began fumbling with his clothes, even as I lightly kissed his thumb. Despite my longings, I was very nervous about undressing him. I soon gave up and just slipped my trembling hands inside his kosode to touch his chest.

Orochimaru stood up to untie his obi, permitting it and the obijime to fall beside the bed. He partially opened his upper garments, giving me an eyeful of his breastbone and navel. "Go on, enjoy my body," he purred.

The sight of that glaringly white sternum shook me from my ennui. I abandoned my inhibitions and wrenched his haori and kosode apart to expose the entirety of his torso. Leaning forward, I planted kisses on his chest and stomach. I soon progressed to licking and nibbling, but then I paused to look up at him.

He cupped my jaw with his hand. "You needn't stop. I want to fulfil all your pent up desires, my dear."

It was all such a turn-on, that my head was swimming. I clumsily yanked on the waist of his trousers. As he leaned closer, I bit down on his nipple. It just looked so appetizing, I couldn't help myself.

He laughed sinfully. There was a depraved glimmer in his eye as he looked down at me. "So you can still switch easily from demure to wanton? You know how much that excites me." He slid his layered robes off of his shoulders, revealing his branded arms. "How shameless you are! Still my filthy, little tart... Aren't you, hmm?"

"You do this to me. You drive me from my senses!" I was puling as I finally succeeded in untying the drawstring on his trousers. He stepped out of them, kicking them aside with the rest of his clothing. His legs looked delectable, too. I gaped at him and sighed, "God, you're so beautiful!" Losing control again, I attempted rip his fundoshi off with my teeth.

He grabbed my hair to get me to look at him again. "Careful, that's my nicest one!" he said. His tone was more amused than chagrined.

I let go and giggled, "Oh, did you put it on to impress me?"

"You wore all that black satin and lace to titillate me, didn't you?" Orochimaru narrowed his eyes and licked his lips. "I've resisted the urge to damage your lingerie, though I could rend those knickers at the seams." He removed his fundoshi on his own, rather than wait for me to figure out how to do it properly. I'd never actually taken it off by myself and wouldn't know where to start.

The sight of him at last uncovered had me grinning and chewing on my lip. "You've missed me quite a bit!" I said. With that, I pulled him down onto the bed with me.

As Orochimaru settled on top of me, he untied his hair and let it cascade around me. I got my hands on it and rubbed it on my face. It had the exact silky texture and smell as before. It brought to mind distant memories of mending his clothes and lying on his pillow; comforting things. I held some to my mouth and kissed it.

"I want everything off. Just bare skin. There should be nothing between us, tonight." He propped himself up in order to roll my knickers off of me, followed by my mesh stockings. "Beautiful Anko-chan," he suspired, examining my naked form. Next, Orochimaru removed his earrings, something I'd never seen him do before. "Only keep your hair up in that band. Leave your nape available to me." Yanking my head up off the pillow, he gnawed at my neck.

Orochimaru soon switched his focus to my breasts. He licked his lips as he kneaded them vigorously. When he tired of that, he pushed them up and practically bathed them with his tongue. "These are magnificent," he hissed. The next thing I knew, he was ferociously sinking his teeth into my left nipple. I couldn't keep from wincing and crying out in pain. He, of course, chortled whilst keeping his teeth clamped down on me. I'm positive it was his little revenge for me biting him there.

He let up, but it was simply to flip me over onto my stomach. With my nape in closer reach, he licked it and bit down exceedingly hard. It wasn't the pain that shocked me, as I didn't initially feel any. Rather, it was the sound of skin slicing open. Several seconds passed, and then the pain flared up with a vengeance.

I knew it wasn't a curse mark; it didn't hurt anywhere near as much. Yet it did sting terribly, making me shriek into the pillow. Regardless of the pain, I did enjoy being bitten. It was absolutely thrilling. I shuddered as gooseflesh crept up on me. My eyes rolled back into my head. "Please keep going!" I gasped, eager to assure him that I did like it.

While I was still wincing from the bite, he reached down to bend my knees and prop my hips up. Orochimaru lowered himself onto my back. His arms enveloped me. His left hand stroked my breasts, as the right delved between my thighs. He moaned at how slippery I was there. "You missed me at least as much as I've missed you. This has been building up all evening, hasn't it? See, I told you I could smell your wetness."

In no time at all, I was vocalising my delight. Being as excited and starved for affection as I was, while still reeling from bite wound, I knew it wouldn't take much longer to achieve the first orgasm of the night. His fingers rubbing my clit felt so perfect. "I've missed you more than I can say. No one else could possibly live up to you. They wouldn't touch me the way you touch me."

Orochimaru abruptly stopped and moved away. Before I could protest, he turned me around and resumed the manual stimulation. Only now, he was able to finger me with his left hand, as well. Less than a minute had gone by when I climaxed. I was moaning as I threw my head back. It was a small, brief orgasm, yet it was incredibly damp.

"You're thoroughly dripping from my touch. There's so much of it," he panted, examining his drenched hands. He licked up the excess from his palms. Following this, he sucked the remainder of my secretion off his fingers, one by one. "It's perhaps even more delicious than it used to be. I will have my dessert momentarily. Fear not, my sweet, beautiful Anko-chan."

Though he had been sitting beside me, Orochimaru now curled up, inverted on the bed. With his feet near the headboard, he leaned on his side and yanked me up onto my side, as well. He went about kissing, licking, and fondling my torso as he stretched out on the mattress.

"You really want me?" I asked, baffled as I watched him adore my body.

He was kissing the curve of my hip when he lifted his head to look back at me. "Would I be doing this if I didn't?" Swiftly, he returned his attention to my pelvis, inching toward my leg.

The hairs on my nape stood on end and I shivered. "I haven't felt very attractive in some time. It's a little hard to believe you would find me desirable," I said.

"I find your body to be succulent, like a peach. I want to sink my teeth into you and let the nectar run into my mouth." The context became clear as he forced my knee aside and buried his face between in my thighs.

There was no other sensation like that in the world. I moaned, "That still feels so good!" Since we were in the perfect position to do so, I went for it. I grabbed onto him and brushed my cheeks and lips against his cock. Then I ran my tongue along the length, before sucking on it. It must've been good, as he groaned and his hips began to jerk slightly. Encouraged by his reactions, I started sucking harder.

We kept going for several minutes. Suddenly, he moved back to speak. "Don't worry about that for now. I want to taste you, without distractions." Orochimaru turned himself the right way around and pushed me onto my back again. He crawled down and fucked me with his tongue for a minute, before redoubling his efforts on my clit. I could tell from the way he was looking at it and making savouring sounds, that he really liked it. Knowing that gave me an immense thrill. Pleasure overtook me once more, yet this time it lasted much longer. My body flailed about. I was caterwauling at the top of my lungs.

"Such a lovely cunt," he said, raising his head and licking the moisture from his lips and chin. Orochimaru reclined beside me. "Go ahead and take me in your mouth again."

As I was licking the shaft and bobbing my head up and down it, his hands latched onto my hair. Orochimaru was gritting his teeth when I glanced up at him. His pelvis quivered and I suspected he was fighting the urge to thrust. When he got close, he stopped me and reached for my breasts. "I want to come on these." He quickly pushed me off of him, so that he could straddle my torso. "They're so much bigger now. I've been wanting to fuck them." Seeing as it was one of my go-to fantasies, I was more than happy to oblige.

We both squeezed my tits around his cock. It was still wet with my saliva. I did my best to suck on the head, but I could only reach it enough to kiss and lick it. Seeing his hips rocking fast overwhelmed me. Just as I arched backwards to sigh, he snarled in his release. His semen gushed out on me. I tried to catch some in my mouth, but it only landed as far as my breastbone. This didn't escape his notice. He dabbed it up with his fingers and fed it to me. I sucked off every last drop, my eyes rolling back in their sockets as I did so. His come always drove me wild.

"You tart! You still love it when I come all over you, don't you?" Orochimaru climbed off of my bosom and kissed me deeply. In keeping with the old days, he didn't appear to be bothered by tasting himself on my mouth. Rather, I think that he liked it; that it gave him a rush to know he had coated me inside and out with his pleasure.

"How could I not?" My cheeks were violently flushed and my pupils could barely stay focused. I was panting obscenely.

"You haven't touched my body nearly as much as I've touched yours. Go on, I need some more attention before the ultimate act." He sprawled out next to me. There was a wicked grin on his face as he appraised my supine condition. "You're not getting tired already, are you?"

I sat up, taking his hand to kiss his palm. "No, I just needed to catch my breath," I replied. With that, I inserted his thumb into my mouth, licking and sucking it. Allowing the digit to slide from my lips, I turned to stroke and kiss his svelte chest. For all his physical strength, he was chronically on the slight and epicene side. At this age, he seemed even more so. Not that it bothered me. I found it extremely sexy, and I let him know by rubbing my face on him.

"Which position do you find the most romantic, my dear?" he asked. He was groaning softly as he relaxed and enjoyed my worshipping him.

That was an easy question. "On my back," I answered breathlessly. "My favourite is on my back with my ankles on your shoulders, but that's more intense than romantic." I looked up at him while kissing his stomach.

He smiled, letting me know he approved of my answer. I was well aware that Orochimaru was fond of a myriad of positions. Nonetheless, it was touching that he was asking me what I wanted and being emphatic about romance. It made me feel special. Maybe he did love me. Doubt came back to nag at me temporarily, but it quickly transformed into waxing hope. What reason would he have to pretend? There wasn't much to be gained by seducing me again, at this point in time.

I licked circles around his navel, marvelling at the way his stomach quivered under my tongue. It made me feel more adventurous, so I crawled down to his feet and lavished them with kisses. Soon, I moved up again, this time to his groin. I kissed, licked, and rubbed my face all over his inner thighs and on his bollocks. Periodically I would glance back and forth, from his face to his cock, to keep track of his state of arousal.

"Come here," he moaned once he was growing hard again. When I got close enough, he kissed me brutally. Orochimaru inhaled through his nose. "You smell of sex. Mmm, it compliments your perfume." He shoved his tongue in my mouth again and gripped my upper arms. Without further warning, he clambered on top of me. "I'm going to have you now." His hands pried apart my legs.

Orochimaru hissed and snarled as he entered me. "You're still so tight. Yes, you've definitely been saving it for me alone." Once he started moving in and out, he moaned deeply. "I've missed this tight cunt of yours."

While clawing at his back, I tangled my legs around him. It was just as wonderful as my remembrances and reveries. I felt like my heart had finally been put back together. "My cunt's missed you, too." I panted close to his ear, "Ah, I've been so lonely without you."

Orochimaru drew a few inches back to look at me, putting his weight on his knees. "You don't have to be lonely anymore," he said. There was something wistful in his eyes. He lowered his head to suck on my right breast.

That vexing uncertainty returned, taking hold of me and making me waver. "I want to believe you. I honestly do," I sighed.

"You have no faith in me," he said, having let my nipple slip from his mouth. Orochimaru stopped moving hips, though he remained inside of me. His gaze drifted down. He seemed dejected; a far cry from the confidence or wrath I was used to witnessing in him.

Seeing him look that way tugged at my heartstrings. It made me wonder if he might have sincerely loved me and missed me all these years. "I wouldn't put it like that," I said. "But I am afraid of you hurting me again."

He brushed his fingers along my cheekbone. "I regret that I've caused you such pain." His tone was sombre. "Would you say that I've ruined your life?"

"If I had died before this, it would've been a pretty wretched existence. But I am alive. And so are you. And I am willing to take this chance." I nuzzled his hand and kissed it. "I want you to love me."

"I am going to win you back, Anko-chan. I'm going to save you again. And I will give you the things I couldn't give you then." Orochimaru kissed my mouth, then my neck. His hands gently held and caressed my bosom. He arched up and sighed deeply as he recommenced thrusting.

That did make me feel loved. I tightened my arms around him and proceeded to run my fingers through his hair. "If you mean it, then please do. I've wanted that for too long. Don't make me wait anymore."

Orochimaru looked down at me. "You want me to say it now? Is that what you want from me?"

I could feel my face growing flushed. My heart was racing and there were butterflies in my stomach. He was going to say it at last and I was dying to hear it. "Yes," I panted.

"Do you need to hear me say it?" The passion and lust in his movements and demeanor intensified. His slit pupils dilated and his breathing was ragged. He was definitely feeling sure of himself again.

I cried out, "Yes!" The pangs of desire were consuming me, making my body ache.

He was undulating into me. "You need it desperately?" he soughed.

"Please, Orochimaru-sama... Don't tease me like this!" My words were shrill and distressed.

"But you're so beautiful when you squirm in agony." His eyelids grew heavier. "It heightens my arousal to reduce you to languishing and pleading."

The teasing excited me further, as well. I was moaning and buckling beneath him. "Please say it!" My voice was a pitiful whine. As near to coming as I was, I knew it would be for not if he didn't tell me. "I'm getting so close... I'm almost... Almost... Oh, please!"

"And you like it, too. Don't you? Yes, you love my cruelty." Orochimaru put two fingers in my mouth, lightly pressing down on my tongue and lower jaw, but not quite gagging me. He went silent, but for his groaning.

There I was, right on the verge of climaxing, and he wasn't saying a word. It was torturous, but I wasn't about to let him stop. He was the only one who could give me that pleasure and I had to have it right then. I began meeting his thrusts, for fear he might pull out and leave me there all alone. My impending ecstasy started slipping away as my fears mounted. I gave a stifled mewl and squeezed my thighs around his pelvis to keep him inside me.

"Anko-chan," he sighed, touching his forehead to mine. "You're still my sweet girl. Part of me sees this sweet girl and wants to make her beg and writhe." With a growl, he slammed his hips into mine. Before I could recover from the shock of that savage collision, Orochimaru was grazing my cheek with his mouth, stopping short of an actual kiss. "But you must know this- I love you, Anko-chan," he finally breathed. His hips then repeated that fierce thrusting several times, getting faster with each strike.

I whimpered around his fingers when I heard him say it. My heart palpitated and my spine arched. I could barely keep my eyes open, but I somehow managed not to lose his gaze. It was pure joy. I was back on the edge. Another second and I'd have it.

"I've always loved you, my dear." He took his fingers out of my mouth and sped up as I shattered beneath him. "Scream for me! Scream my name," he growled.

"Orochimaru-sama!" I screamed it not only to obey him, but because it was that phenomenal. My body was shaking and hot. Sheer bliss pulsated through my limbs. I was instantly drenched again, but far more than I had been earlier.

"Mmm, you really came this time," he said, slowing down. "I don't think you've done that with me before." He lifted himself up off me an inch or two and stretched out his tongue to lick it up from our loins. Orochimaru then rested his weight back on me. His hips went nearly still as he calmed his breathing. I recognised it as part of his technique for holding back.

A crushing sensation instantaneously developed in my chest, and it had nothing to do with him lying on top of me. Moisture brimmed in my eyelids and seeped out onto my face. My throat constricted, drawing in a narrow stream of air, till a jarring sob forced it back out. There was a jumbled mess of emotions in me that refused to be contained. I held onto him for dear life, not knowing what else to do.

"Go ahead and cry. Let out all your feelings." He began to lick up the tears from my cheeks. "Give everything inside of yourself to me. I want it all. I want your tears and I want your desires. All your passions should belong to me."

"Please don't... You're trying to make me fall in love with you again." I was sobbing into his hair.

"Stop pretending, my Anko-chan." Orochimaru grasped my chin to make me look at him. "You never fell out of love with me. Give up this bravado. You need to face your true feelings. No more clinging to lies for the sake of your supposed moral obligations. Accept that you are mine." His voice lowered to a whisper as he leaned closer to my ear. "Don't be afraid."

There was a stubborn urge within me to argue that it wasn't true, but I no longer had the strength to keep up such pretenses. Everything he had said was spot-on. Denying it would be a waste of energy. I cried out, "I do love you, Orochimaru-sama! I could never stop!" Instantly, I felt like a burden had been lifted from me. I could breathe again. "I love you! I love you!" My sobbing had ceased and the few tears that followed were from joy. "I love you so much!"

"That's my good girl." Orochimaru kissed me. His tongue moved against mine, forcing me to taste my fluids and tears on it. Having released my mouth, his slit pupils were boring into me. "I want to come inside you, now. Take my pleasure inside of you, Anko-chan. You want it, don't you?" He resumed his quick, rough pace from earlier.

Despite barely being able to keep my teary eyes open, I was trapped in his glare. All I could think of was how much I longed to have him burst forth in my cunt. I wailed, "Yes, please... Come inside me, Sensei!"

He immediately came once I said that. The way his eyes rolled back as he groaned told me that his sudden release surprised him. "Fuck, fuck!" he hissed through clenched teeth. "Mmm, yes! Your cunt..." His breathing was heavy and choppy.

When his climax ended, Orochimaru rolled off of me. He drew me towards him, cradling me to his chest. His strained respirations became relaxed sighs of satisfaction. "It was even sweeter to hear with my old title added. You pushed me over the edge. I was hoping to last long enough to make you come again, along with me," he purred. "Let me rest a little and I'll be up for the next round."

"You already got me off three times and they were all incredible," I said. My tears were mostly dried as I nuzzled his collar bone.

His hand trailed down my side. "It's still early." He added in a sough, "And I want to fuck more."

"Mmm, of course," I trilled before giving him a peck on the lips. "I just meant that I'm not disappointed in the least. It felt so good! You're so skillful, Sensei. Ahh, I loved it!"

"Now that I've got you in my bed again, you're back to being a little tart for me. It suits you much better than that cold, implacable act you were putting on before." Orochimaru kissed me, catching my bottom lip in his teeth as he pulled back. "I shall have to resume fucking you on a regular basis, for your own good. You need it."

"Yes, desperately!" I sighed in my rapture. "But coming wasn't even my favourite part. Oh, I still can't believe you finally said you love me!"

Orochimaru eased his hand up to adoringly palpate my shoulder. "And I said it twice, so do stop doubting me, my dear."

"You're right, Orochimaru-sama. You're the only one I ever loved! I've kept it bottled up inside of me for so long." I cuddled him closer. "To hear you say those words... I think I really have forgiven you. It feels so strange to say that, but it must be true. This is the first time since our separation that I've felt secure. Like I've been lost all these years."

He brought the inside of my wrist to his mouth and kissed it. "That's why it's important for you to trust me. I know what you need and I'm the only one who can give it to you." Having scraped the vulnerable flesh with his fangs, Orochimaru swiped it with his tongue. "It's me that you need, isn't it?" he breathed.

"Yes, I do need you." I exhaled a jittery breath. "What happens now?" My speech was tremulous.

"You stay with me, the way you should have all along." Orochimaru set my hand down on his chest and simply held me. "Your life is with me, not out there on your own." His voice grew softer than usual. "Let me take care of you. Be my little girl again."

All my insides quivered. It was most perplexing to hear him say that. "I'm a middle-aged woman," I sighed.

He sat up and pulled the blanket over our legs and waists. "And I'm still older than your father would be." Orochimaru's gaze transfixed me. Rather than lying down again, he leaned back against the headboard. "I will always see you as young and in need of my guidance. It's one of the things I find most attractive about you."

"I want that." Scooting over a little, I pillowed my head on his lap. "Call me your little girl again," I whimpered.

"My little girl, you're so lost without me. You need me to give meaning to your existence." He was petting my cheek with one hand and my hair with the other. "Don't ever leave your sensei again. You made me worry so. I want you here, where you can be mine forever and no one else's."

This warm tingling spread through me. "You really think it's not too late? That we can start over?" I had a strong urge to pinch myself.

"Why not? If we are both willing, why should we let some abstract concept like time stop us?" he replied.

I sat up again, this time resting my head on his chest so I could look up at him. "And you truly want me to live here with you and share your bed each night?"

Orochimaru looked off to the side and nodded. His heart pounded against my ear. There was an unusual glistening in his eyes. I swear it looked like tears. Maybe it was my imagination, but that's how it appeared to me. "Many people would dismiss the relationship between us back then, in those few months we were intimate, but it was the one time I think I experienced what is called 'true love.'" He bent down and pecked my forehead. "We were happy then, weren't we?"

"Yes. It was the most joyous time in my life, till this," I said, smiling warmly at him.

He faced away once more. "Those feelings for you didn't subside. I just hid them deep inside me and swore I wanted only hatred. In the end, there's no satisfaction to be gained from hatred. It merely leaves you with loneliness, the thing that drove me to hate in the first place. When I at last understood how profound and powerful love is, there was nothing I wanted more." Orochimaru took a deep breath and looked me in the eye again. "True love was still missing from my life, and that is you."

I sat up and wrapped my arms around him. "Then I won't leave you. I won't let you be lonely again. I love you."

"Then I have what I want, my dear." He caressed my burning cheek. "Tell me what you want from me."

"For you to tell me you're sorry and mean it." I pulled back to look in his eyes. "That's the only other thing I want."

"I am genuinely sorry for hurting you." It was abundantly clear to me that he was serious. The grave glimmer in his eye and the placidity of his tone were the same as the very first time I met him, the night after my parents were buried. I was a little girl then and he saved me from self-destruction by telling me about his pursuit of immortality. As such, I felt his apology was unequivocally sincere.

"Thank you, Orochimaru-sama." I kissed his mouth before I went on. "I forgive you. I truly do."

He trailed his knuckle along my chin. "I want to be the one to make you happy, my Anko-chan."

"You're the only one who ever could." I tilted my head to kiss his hand as it approached my mouth.

"I won't let you leave this time. You belong in my arms." He gripped me tightly to him, so that our noses almost touched. "My precious, little girl, I want to protect you from everything."

"Please don't ever let me go!" I whimpered against his lips.

"I won't, I promise." He kissed me, and added, "Don't try to run away from me, either."

My eyes searched his face. "Nothing could make me leave you again. I need you."

Orochimaru bowed his head to my throat. "Your sensei needs his little Anko-chan. He loves her." His lips swept across my neck.

Frowning, I turned to face away from him. "Is it still so difficult for you to say that you prefer third-person pronouns?"

"Look at me." He grabbed my chin to make sure I did so. "I love you, my dear. For all the times you needed to hear that when I couldn't tell you, I apologise. Forgive me and know that not saying it and not feeling it are two different things." Again, his voice was quite serious, yet it retained its soft timbre.

"All right. I forgive you for that, too." It struck me that I had overreacted and that Orochimaru was honestly trying to be affectionate. I wanted to kick myself for being such an ingrate. "Please forgive me for doubting you. On second thought, it was very sweet of you to say that." I caressed his hand as it clasped my jaw. "And your little Anko-chan loves her sensei," I said with a simper.

He smiled and pressed me to his chest. "My feelings for you have not ceased to astonish me." His fingers moved my hair from where it had fallen on my face. "My sweet girl, you're mine again."

Chapter Text

"Here, let's lie down again" He set us both on our sides, facing each other. “I want to go with you when you return to the village. Stay here a few days first, though. We should have time to ourselves, to get reacquainted.”

Our bodies were very close together, though we weren’t touching. We simply had our eyes fixed on one another’s. “Of course. You want to visit Mitsuki. I’m sure he misses you,” I said.

He poked the fleshy underhang of my chin with one finger, forcing my head back somewhat. “Yes, but also to make sure you come back. You might change your mind. Or someone might persuade you to change it.”

“You’re admitting that you’re worried you’ll lose me. That’s another first. But I don’t want to go without you, either.” I put my arm around him to stroke his back. "I'll have to convince the Hokage to let me retire and leave the village. And it’d be best if you spoke to him, also. He’ll probably object at first, though I think I can win his sympathy."

His hand moved up to pet my cheek. "If I can tolerate my child being in Konoha, then it's only fair that I should get to keep you here." Orochimaru’s eyelids twitched ever so slightly and the reflection of the candlelight in his irises grew.

Seeing him that way and imagining what it must be like to seldom be with one of his children ate at me. It made me feel like scum to think that I had an ulterior motive for being in Orochimaru’s living quarters, even if I’d largely forgotten that motive up until then. "I know I shouldn’t say this, but it’s not like I haven’t already compromised myself by sleeping with you. Anyway, it just seems wrong to keep hiding it. The fact is, the Hokage wanted me to check up on you, to see if you were up to something. I didn’t want to do it, but I had to see you again. I’d been a wreck since that day you walked by me. I would’ve cracked if you hadn’t sent for me."

Orochimaru laughed. "You really haven't figured that out yet? I told him to concoct some nonsense about spying on me if you were hesitant to go. He's already seen inside my laboratory."

"That little sneak! And you..." I gritted my teeth, then shrugged it off. "Eh, why should I be surprised by anything you do? I just didn't think he'd conspire with you to help you get your hooks back into me. Hokage or not, I should slap him the next time I see him."

"I didn't go into that much detail; though I'm sure he figured it out. He is a married man. Even he can't be so foolish as to think this wouldn't end with you succumbing to my amorous advances." Orochimaru was still laughing a bit under his breath.

"What exactly did you say to him?” I asked, peering through narrowed eyes.

"That I wished to make up for things that happened between us, and for lost time. Nothing about any love affairs."

To think he had been longing for me made feel warm inside. "So that's what this meeting was really about all along, rekindling our affair?"

"I would prefer not to say. There are some things I'd rather keep to myself. Indulge me in wanting a little mystery between us." His fingertips were gliding up and down my sternum. "After all, it makes it more interesting."

"There are things I have to know." I pushed myself up into a seated position and looked down at him. "If you have secrets regarding me, I think I deserve your honesty. Lovers should be able to share everything."

As if he were imitating me, Orochimaru sat up, too. "Curiosity is the greatest asset, but there’s something to be said for a sense of the unknown in a romance.” He smirked, then went about pecking my shoulder. “It's much more thrilling if I can keep you guessing. I told you I love you. Decide for yourself the precise nature of my feelings. Interpret my affections for you."

"Why does everything have to be a game with you? Instead of telling me the truth, you have to toy with me!” I snapped, recoiling from him. Just when I thought we had made such progress, he had to pull this quibbling routine. It was so damn frustrating. “You’ve got to trust me, too. It can't just be all on me. If you love me, tell me what's going on inside you, Orochimaru-sama. I need to know." Knots were forming in my stomach.

“Testy, aren’t we?” He looked away for a moment and sighed. When he continued, his voice had diminished, as if his strength were fading away. "Perhaps when I saw you, I wanted to have you again. Perhaps I couldn't figure out why you didn't give me a second glance, but kept on walking."

“So you turned to look back at me?" I could feel my brows sinking low on my forehead as I asked that. Why didn’t that occur to me in the first place?

His gaze travelled back to meet mine. "Maybe I did. Or maybe I'm trying to get you to admit that you didn't." Orochimaru’s tone had regained its standard slyness.

My face started to burn. "I was frightened," I whimpered.

"Too bad you didn't confront me. I like frightening you." He grinned, creeping up closer to me.

I rolled my eyes and snickered, realising I should have seen that response coming a mile away. "You haven't lost that flair for sadism."

In an instant, he pulled me back down, into his embrace. "That is true. It's what turns you on the most, isn't it?" Orochimaru bit me on the collar bone, then kissed me for a long time. He moaned into my mouth, causing a tickling sensation in my lips. All of a sudden, he stopped and asked, "You truly believe that I love you?"

I bolted up in a panic, wriggling out of his grip. "What?! Was this all some trick?" The intermittent rage inside of me had bubbled back up to the surface. My hands balled into fists, ready to attack. Though I knew I didn’t stand a chance against him, I was prepared to put up a fight.

"Anko-chan, calm down. I wasn't lying." He grabbed my forearms to restrain me, using only minimal force. His voice softened. "I was wondering if you doubted me at all. You have every reason to."

"Maybe I do. Or maybe I'm overly desperate to believe you love me when I shouldn’t," I groaned. The fight-or-flight response waned somewhat, giving way to trembling. “You make it difficult to think straight. Things made more sense when I was younger and I could simply rely on you to take charge." Tears were building up in my eyes up once more. "I don’t want to be weak, I swear! I don't know what's wrong with me."

"Are you about to cry again? It's fine, my dear. Cry all you need to." Orochimaru’s grip slackened. He held me to him gently then, permitting me to weep on his chest. I could feel his heart thudding beneath me. "You've had to be strong on your own for a long time. Why not let me have control again? I'm giving you permission to be vulnerable. I have strength enough for both of us and I want to take care of you."

Despite how inviting his arms and chest were, and how much I missed that reassuring embrace from my youth, something terrified me. I struggled out of his grasp yet again. “How can you ask that of me? It would be wrong to give you control. I’ve been weak because of you. You’d make me weaker still.” I tried to blink the tears out of my eyes, but they kept coming, followed by sobs. “Why do you do this to me? Why do I have to feel this way about you?”

“My apologies. I let myself get distracted by my own desires and mistakenly believed you would heal easier than this.” Orochimaru stared down at his hands as if they were soiled. He soon dropped them and looked to me once more. “I want to be with you. I need you. Yet if you want to hurt me, go ahead. I won’t stop you. Strike me, walk away from me, whatever you wish. It’s your prerogative to do so.” A calm, expectant countenance washed over him as he fell supine on the mattress. His arms were outstretched on either side of him, as if he were being pinned down.

I looked at Orochimaru, readying a fist to punch him, yet I lowered it and sighed instead. “I can’t. I don’t want to hurt you. I want you to atone by caring for me. You owe me that.”

“The thing I want to do and have been repeatedly offering? I think you must be confused, Anko-chan. Caring for someone and taking care of them are not mutually exclusive. I want to take care of you because you bring out these longings in me. You make me feel this way about you,” Orochimaru said.

His smile was faint as he stared up at me. “There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself to another if you wish it. You think that makes you weak, but in fact, it gives you power. You are giving me something I need, something that makes me feel needed, in turn. And you can stop me and take it back whenever you wish. That fills me with apprehension, yet I still want this. Isn’t that what love is?”

He sat up again and proceeded to comb his fingers through my bangs. “We both want this. We both love each other. Love will outweigh fear when you accept it. That’s why it’s so powerful. Don’t go six decades trying to figure that out, the way I did. That’s not what I want for you. You deserve better than that.”

Heavy tears kept rolling down my face, making my lashes tacky. I wiped my eyes on my hands to clear them. “People will think there’s something wrong with me. They’ll say I should hate you for all the things you’ve done to me. That I’m crazy to be in love with you.”

“Why should the opinions of others dictate your emotions?” he asked. “People expect me to be cold and heartless, but I have feelings. The truth is I’m human, like anyone else. I’m capable of love, just like I’m capable of getting hurt. Whether or not anyone else believes it, I love you. You can decide you shouldn’t love me and walk away forever, or you can decide the love we share is worth the effort it will require on both our parts. Are we worth saving? Will you let me spend whatever time I have making up for the ways I hurt you? Will you help to keep me from getting lost again? Can we heal each other? It’s up to you, Anko-chan.”

”How is it possible that you’ve changed that much, all for the better?” I asked, squinting at him.

“I’m not a completely different person. I remain selfish and stubborn. And I’m just as apt to nudge others towards my way of thinking.” There was a brief glint of smug satisfaction in his eyes. It quickly melted to something more compassionate; the warm smile of a parent. “I would not have been able to tell you my feelings if not for my children. They reminded me of something I’d forgotten long ago, my original motivation.”

Orochimaru looked towards the bedroom door as he went on. “They were intended to be future vessels, nothing more. When I first awakened Log, this was before he was called that, I set out to test his strength. He defied me, calling me out for my cruelty and arrogance. Then he attempted to flee. The natural course of action was to eliminate him without prejudice. I injured him, but I couldn’t go through with the killing.” There was an audible tightness in his throat.

“All these memories flashed before my eyes. My parents’ warmth, Sarutobi’s voice, Jiraiya’s laughter, Tsunade’s tears, your smile, the change in Sasuke’s eyes; things that both moved me and tore at me. It was a brutal shock to my system. And I saw all the pain I had experienced in life there, reflected in Log’s face. That was when I realised he was not a specimen that had disappointed me. He was my child whom I had betrayed. From that day forward, I resolved to protect him from that pain and give him a better life. I can no longer allow those I care for to become lost in the darkness as I once was.” His gaze drifted up, glimmering in the dim light.

“When I was young, love meant sorrow. Later, I was taught that it was weakness. I would only allow myself to love when it was unspoken and completely under my control. So I loved, but I couldn’t admit to it. In one way or another, everyone left me. Some died, others turned from me. Even you slipped from my grasp. All my good intentions fell by the wayside. Without love, none of it mattered.” He closed his eyes for a brief moment. “Certain things happened during the last war to change me a great deal, but not enough. That day, when I embraced my child for the first time and he granted me forgiveness, that was when I was finally free of the darkness. I learned how to love again.”

Orochimaru took in a steady breath through his nose and released it gradually. “The great villages were made to be war machines and those pulling the strings have long wished to keep it that way. It’s in their best interests to do so. I wanted to change it, but even I lost sight of that goal. I lost my way. I was blinded by hatred and vengeance, to the point I had no grip on reality. I became exactly what I had once loathed. That won’t happen ever again. What I lacked then is in my life now. I will hold onto it.” He took my hand in his. “I want my children to think for themselves and I want my village to be different in that way, as well. People must learn to be individuals, not cogs in a machine.”

I remembered losing everything and what I tried to do that time in the Forest of Death. I had wanted to kill Orochimaru, and die there with him. There was hurt, anger, loneliness, but still love. I couldn’t live in a world without him. As much as it felt good to be with him now and accept the love he claimed to feel for me, something was holding me back. “There are so many things on my mind, answers I need from you,” I said. Perhaps this wasn’t the best time to be asking serious questions, but I could feel them rattling around in my brain, unwilling to let me have any peace until they were put to rest.

“Such as?”

My heart was in my throat as I proceeded to interrogate him. "Why did you leave me in that cave?"

His grip tightened. "For your own safety. What happened after that would've been too dangerous for you."

"Safety? I could've died in there!" I pulled my hand away from his grasp.

"You survived getting the curse mark. I trusted in your ability to survive losing it.” Orochimaru then moved his face very close to mine, stopping short of touching me. “Large-scale warfare is a different matter. More than the risk of you dying, I wanted to spare you seeing that amount of bloodshed. That was the same reason I stayed in Konoha with you during the Third War. I didn’t want you to experience the horrors I saw and took part in during the Second. You don’t need further trauma scarring you. You’ve been through enough."

That was a fair answer; however, it was one of the least of his crimes. “Why did you try to destroy the village? What if I had been killed during that?” Remembering that day caused a crushing ache in my chest. Indirectly or not, I bore some responsibility. The guilt would not cease to weigh on my conscience. Not only that, it was also heartbreaking to think I was merely another face in the crowd that he had intended to annihilate.

“It wasn’t the people of Konoha I wanted to obliterate. It was the institution and what it stood for. When I was suffering as a child, they told me to harden my heart. When I swore off compassion, they called me evil. For them, it was all about playing at nobility while maintaining the corrupt system.” His nose wrinkled as he spoke.

“Even worse than that was seeing those I cared about suffer for the sake of the village. I had wished to be rid of someone, but when they were killed, I couldn’t get past the pain it caused one still dear to me.” Orochimaru hung his head down. “So many died for nothing. I lost my senses.” He placed his palm on my thigh and looked at me. “But I had special plans for you. You were on the list of those to be taken alive. You were useful to me, and you had garnered my interest again.”

In a weird way, it was nice to hear that. Of course, it didn’t make any of it all right. I wasn’t about to let him off the hook so easily. “Why did the Third Hokage have to die? It wasn’t just because he didn’t name you as his successor. There had to have been more to it than that.”

“I saw Sarutobi as the one most responsible for the ills of Konoha. He let things happen. When I needed him, he pushed me away. He pushed others away as well, while some he let go, not bothering to reach out to them. The ones he should have disposed of, he kept close. He spoke of protecting his people as a whole, but the individuals didn’t matter to him. There was as much blood on his hands as there is on mine, but no one talks about that. I saw that everything and everyone I lost could be traced back to him, his lies, and his double standards. I hated him for it. So I wanted him to suffer the way I did.” Orochimaru’s eyelids descended till only slivers of iris remained visible.

My hands were clenched and shaking. “But you made everyone else suffer! How do you think I felt? I was helpless to stop your carnage. I blamed myself for what you did. And the worst part of it was that I still cared so much for you! I couldn’t turn to anyone after that. I was too afraid to even tell Jiraiya-sama on the rare occasions he was in Konoha.”

The muscles in his jaw visibly contracted. His reply was very faint. “You’re hurting me, Anko-chan. Don’t rip open that wound.”

“Maybe you should hurt! You did all that for your stupid revenge, and you didn’t even succeed at it. You pushed me away. You pushed Jiraiya away, and god knows how many others who only ever cared about you! What did we do to deserve your betrayal? Maybe the Third Hokage screwed things up, but I’m positive he cared about you, too.” I clutched fiercely at the blanket, my knuckles going white from the force. “How could you make me suffer for all those years? How could you be so cruel? Now you’ve manipulated me into letting it slide like it was nothing!”

He was reaching to touch my face. “Anko-chan, I”-

I slapped his hand away. “Don’t touch me! I shouldn't have let you touch me to begin with! I hate you!”

His expression went blank. “Luckily, I don’t believe that in the slightest. You’re just angry.”

“No, I hate you!” I screeched. In my mind’s eye, I could see looks of disappointment from my comrades, both living and dead. What shame I had brought upon my parents! Could I even go back home after letting Orochimaru seduce me? Not only had I given in to him, I had enjoyed it. And despite my protestations, I longed for him even then. An invisible chain linked me to him. One end was somewhere in my chest, tangled with my veins. As much as I wanted the other end to be connected to his heart, my head told me Orochimaru was merely holding it in his hand, leading me around by it. “You make me sick! I’m disgusted with myself for fucking you! I never want to see you again!”

Orochimaru’s respirations grew tense. “You wouldn’t grieve me that way. You couldn’t. I refuse to believe it.”

“Maybe you’ll believe it when you watch me walk out that door!” After ripping off the blanket, I got to my feet and went to gather my clothes. As I picked up my dress, everything became blurry and my body faltered. My first thought was that he had employed a genjutsu, but it was soon clear that wasn’t the case. No, it was me. I was crumpling over onto the floor, hugging my knees to my chest, and weeping yet again. The fight in me was gone. All I had left was my wish to disappear from the mess I was in.

The mattress creaked and it registered in my brain that he had gotten up. Yet he didn’t come over to me. There was the sound of a door opening and water running. A short time later, he approached and kneeled beside me. Orochimaru began washing my face with a damp hand towel, then dabbing up the moisture with a dry one. When he was done, he picked me up and brought me back to the bed. He put the wet towel away and left the dry one on the nightstand. Then he returned to recline against the headboard. “Come sit on my lap,” he said, holding his hands out towards me.

By then, my crying had lessened, though I still felt listless. It was as if my body had gone numb. “Aren’t I too heavy?” I grumbled, unable to think of a better argument.

“Have you forgotten who you’re talking to? I carried you over here with little effort. I think I can handle you sitting on top of me.” He scooped me up in his arms. “See, you’re not too heavy for me, my dear.” I just stayed there, motionless on his lap while he held me fast. “I know I failed Jiraiya. I don’t want to fail you, too. You gave up on love because of me. You won’t allow anyone else in. Consequently, I’m the only one with any hope of mending your heart. It’s my responsibility to you. Let me try, Anko-chan.” Orochimaru kissed my forehead, then my mouth. “I want to try.”

Next, he lifted my hand to his lips to kiss it and my wrist. “If you continue to hold onto your anger and reject love, you will become what I was. I can’t allow that to happen. I have to protect you from that. I must save you. And I need you to keep me from falling back into that trap, myself. Let me earn your forgiveness this way.”

What he was saying was starting to get to me. Perhaps he didn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt, yet I was leaning towards giving him another chance, for the sake of this intimacy we were sharing. Crying on the floor was pretty much rock bottom, not something I wanted to repeat ever again. This, on the other hand, felt right; like I belonged. “You swear you’ve reformed?” I asked. My voice cracked on each alternate word.

“Yes, Anko-chan. I still can’t accept the past, but I’m tired of fighting. I want stillness. What has already happened cannot be changed, yet focusing too much on the future is equally destructive. You forget to live. You get swallowed up by negativity. Existence is a game. Just enjoy playing it. Find pleasure in it. Appreciate it for its beauty. It’s a waste, otherwise. And don’t treat love as your enemy. Don’t be afraid of it.” He pressed me closer to his chest. “My little girl, I love you.”

I didn’t want to yell or cry anymore. All I wanted was the comfort I was experiencing in his embrace. Regardless of my outburst, I craved his affection. It made me feel whole. “I’m tired of fighting, too. I do love you. And I want to be happy again. I’ve only been happy when I’ve been with you.”

He kissed the top of my head. “I only wanted to protect you, but I’ve hurt you most of all. Please accept my apologies. I regret my past. Forgive me for the horrible things I've done.”

Though my tears had run dry, errant sobs persisted in my throat. “I forgive you.” I looked up at him. “Aren't you mad at me for the awful stuff I said?”

Orochimaru shook his head. “No, I’m not mad, my dear. I understand why you said that. You didn’t mean it. Anger must be purged if love is to flow freely back into the heart.” When I gave him an incredulous stare, he added, “What, you think I haven’t been through a similar emotional process?”

“Did you become a Buddhist or something? That’s what you sound like.”

He gave a subtle laugh. “Not quite. I have been studying certain spiritual philosophies and esoteric traditions. It was helped me to understand the world more clearly. Perhaps I’ll teach them to you sometime.”

As he cuddled me on his lap, I timidly caressed his jugular notch and clavicles. Looking down, I sighed loudly.

"If something is bothering you, tell me. Don't hold back, my dear. Say whatever is on you mind," he said, breathing against my temple.

After a sombre exhalation, I began to tell him. "There's more I have to know the truth about. Why did you put the curse mark on me? Why did you have to hurt me like that?"

"I thought you had forgiven me for what I did."

I buried the upper portion of my face in his throat. "I have forgiven you, but I still need to know why you did it. I just don't understand how you could put me through all those things and risk my life. If you actually loved me all this time, why did you betray me?"

Orochimaru pushed my head back and gave me a fixed stare. "Because I'm not like you, Anko-chan. When love consumes you, you relish it. You find it exhilarating, like the hopeless romantic you are. Love was something I feared losing control of. You drove me to distraction and made me question my ideals. I felt powerless and that disturbed me. Weakness would have interfered with the dream we shared then. I wasn't ready to let go of that, so I hurt you before you had a chance to hurt me. I did it to reclaim my control over you."

"I wouldn't have hurt you, not willingly."

"And if you had hurt me unwillingly? I didn't want to take that risk. Yet that's exactly what happened. You did hurt me." He brushed the hair out of his face and tucked it behind his ear. "But that was thirty years ago. I see things differently now. I still despise losing control, but I know that love isn’t the problem. It was my ego that needed be overcome. It ruled me when my reason should have ruled it. I was trapped by the delusion that I could control nature, when nature is constantly changing."

My insides froze at that. “I hurt you?”

“More than I care to admit. Though I suspect you’ll press me to go into vivid detail,” he groaned.

"Do you regret it?"

"No, I don't regret giving you the curse mark. Not any longer." His words grew very quiet. "You were better off back in Konoha. You didn't need to be around me then. I would've corrupted you. I would've destroyed the innocence that makes you so special to me."

Hunching my shoulders, I pouted. "I don't need you to decide what's right or what's wrong for me. I can think for myself!"

He raised an eyebrow at me. "Can you? When have you ever made a wise decision without my prodding? You always rush into things, eager to play the martyr. It's something you have in common with that current Hokage of yours. You're both impatient fools. Yet unlike him, you don't have a knack for being rescued by good fortune."

As true as it might have been, it didn’t please me to hear it. Nor did it make that memory any less painful. "But I still wanted to be with you. It hurt me so much to lose you!” The awful ache in my chest was returning. “I've been so empty! Have you ever understood how much I love you?”

“I believe I understand your feelings quite well.” He tilted his head away, averting his gaze. “It was my own feelings that confused me.”

“I know you've been hurting all your life. I wanted to give you the love you needed, but you wouldn't let me. We could've been stronger together, but you left me to suffer!" Now I was the one veering his neck to make him look me in the eye. "It hurt me so much, not just physically. It broke my heart that you did it. But as bizarre as it sounds, I’ve actually missed it. The curse mark was all I had of you."

Orochimaru placed his palms on either side of my face. "Forget the past. Be with me now. The person I've become doesn't resent loving you."

"You resented being in love with me then?" My eyes were welling up again and my chin quivered.

He let out a frustrated sigh. "Anko-chan, listen to me. You started to take precedence over my ambitions. I found it threatening. I despised needing you. That's why I gave you the mark. You were the one person who frightened me."

My jaw dropped. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. How did I manage to frighten someone like him? And how did I not see it at the time?

"And now I know why the seal didn't activate properly. What I told you then about lacking hatred, it applied to me as well. When I put the mark on you, my heart wasn't in it. If I didn't love you, it would have worked." He was brushing my hair away from my forehead with his fingers. "You have no idea how much you wounded me when your eyes darted away. I wanted you to love me no matter what horrible things I did, what vile depths I sank to. Yet I was too selfish to give you the same love. You deserve better than that. It's taken longer than it should have, but at last, I can love you the way you deserve."

"I thought you hated me for not being strong enough." My voice trembled.

"At that moment, I did hate you. But not for that reason. I hated you for the power you held over me. For reminding me I still had a heart to be broken. And I wanted you to hate me. If you could have hated me, the seal would've activated and I would have had power over you again. Yet it only tinged your love with anger and fear. In the end, I altered your memory so you might need me and come back. An unfortunate miscalculation on my part. It took thirty years and what amounted to an engraved invitation to get you to return." He nuzzled my ear and whispered, "I missed my little girl all this time."

The confirmation that I broke Orochimaru’s heart left me bewildered. To my knowledge, there was only one other person in the world who could claim that feat. "You really have loved me all along, yet I kept on doubting you." The crying began anew. "I'm sorry for everything. Most of all for hurting you."

"I told you, forget what happened then. It's over. Live for this moment, for us. Things turned out a certain way and we survived. You cling to your pain because it’s all you’ve had for such a long time. As long as you’re attached to it, you will continue to suffer from it. You don’t need it anymore. I’m with you again. You've forgiven me and I've forgiven you.” His hands moved up and down, caressing my back. “Learn to let it go. It's a freeing experience."

Drying my eyes on my palms, I smiled a bit. "Sometimes, I get tired of you knowing better than me."

Orochimaru laughed a little. "You've always been trying to prove how mature you are, when underneath you remain girlish and innocent. I find that exceedingly charming." He stroked my chin.

I rolled my eyes and chortled at that. "You would!"

He laughed more. A moment later, he took hold of my shoulders. "My sweet Anko-chan," Orochimaru said. “I want to be strong for you, so you don’t have to rely on yourself alone.”

“I need that. I really do.” My eyes fell shut and I waited for him to kiss me.

Though he did kiss me, it didn’t last as long as I would have preferred. Instead, he resumed gently touching my face. "I've crossed many lines in my life. And I've been cruelest to you. It would've been more merciful if I had just killed you instead of leaving you to suffer that way, but I'm a selfish person. I wouldn't let go. I wanted you to seek me out and I was willing to wait as long as it took."

Nudging me to lay my head back down on him, he continued. "At first, it was easy to wait. The curse mark linked you to me, so we weren't completely apart. After the war, I thought maybe you'd forgive me and accept that I'd changed once you had enough time to heal. I kept waiting and found comfort in my children." His tone became breathier. "I didn't think I'd get attached to them, but having a family transforms who you are. It was no longer about me against the world. I had new people who needed me and it helped me to grow as a person. Being a parent is like having my own parents back, because now I know how they felt about me. At the same time, it brought back memories of you. They reminded me of how I'd missed you, of what you meant to me."

Orochimaru rubbed my cheek. "My little one has the same smile as you. I wanted to do right by him and I knew eventually you would meet him. I thought perhaps he would be special to you, as well, and remind you of me. Then I saw you and it dawned on me that I had to win you back personally. You were too damaged by what I did to return to me on your own. You needed to know that I wanted you before you would allow yourself to be close to me again. I was too proud and obstinate to realise it sooner."

He cleared his throat. “There was another reason I gave you the mark. I never intended immortality for myself alone. I wanted you to have it as well. To achieve it, you had to die to your old self and be reborn as part of me. Only things didn’t work out quite as I had planned.”

“Are you still trying to become immortal?” I asked point blank as I put my ear over his heart and listened.

“Is my heartbeat comforting to you or are you trying to confirm I have one?” Rather than wait for me to respond, he went back to my question. “For now, I cannot die. If that is to be permanent is not of grave importance to me at the current time. There are more pressing matters.”

“Like what?”

“Mostly my children and my village. As well as this naked woman who happens to be in my bed. She has me rather preoccupied. I would like to keep her with me indefinitely.” Bowing his head to brush his lips on my throat, he whispered, “You’re so beautiful.”

That gave me a delightful chill. Even so, I suspected he was merely saying that to flatter me. “You sure are laying it on thick,” I muttered.

He forced me to look at him. "Why is it so difficult to accept that I find you attractive? From the first time I saw you when you were a small child; I knew you would become a beautiful woman. You were like a precious ichimatsu doll, fragile and lovely. I wanted to protect you and keep you all to myself. You were my secret treasure and no one was going to take you away from me."

I narrowed my eyes at Orochimaru. “Dolls don’t have feelings.”

“That’s not true. My little Anko-chan was lonely and sad. She needed me to take care of her.” His fingers kept petting my cheek, while his palm periodically cupped it. "And I waited for you to grow into a young woman so I could make you my consort. I could've touched you sooner than I did, but I wanted you to be ready."

"You considered trying something when I was really young?" I gulped, feeling extremely awkward about the thought cropping up in my head.

"Don't be so filthy-minded, Anko-chan!" Orochimaru flinched. “I would never have touched you before your hair developed and your menses began. I meant when you reached puberty. When you started looking at me with desire in your eyes. It was difficult for me to keep resisting you. Your body was filling out and I could smell you dripping wet all the time."

"You knew about that?!" I was abashed. For what seemed like the whole year I was thirteen, if not longer, I had to towel off and change my knickers multiple times a day. It was my terribly embarrassing secret, but I thought I had hidden it from him. "Do you have any idea how humiliating that was? I thought there was something wrong with me."

"Your body was learning to be excited... Excited simply by my presence. It's nothing to be ashamed of. Males go through a similar thing. Tasting your scent on the air was like going through it all over again for me.” He licked his lips. “Perhaps worse, as often as I had to have one off the wrist to calm myself. But I waited till I was convinced the time was right, when you were more certain of yourself. Ironically, once we started making love, I found you even more distracting. And it wasn't just sex."

Though I tried to look in his eyes, my gaze wandered to his mouth, till I could barely keep my lids from falling shut. "What was it, Orochimaru-sama?"

"What earlier tonight you doubted I felt." He moved in and kissed me.

After breaking the kiss, I groaned, frowning at him. "Then why couldn't you say it? Our lives would've been so much better if you would have just told me how you really felt."

His grip on me loosened slightly and he gave a heavy sigh. “Oh, I see. You haven’t really forgiven me after all.”

“Yes, I have!” It was true. I had forgiven him. Only there was this bitterness remaining inside me. It was refusing to go away.

“How can you say you forgive me if you haven’t let go?” He started brushing my chin with his knuckles. “What do I have to do for you to let go of the pain you’re holding onto? Tell me what to do, Anko-chan.”

“Answer me truthfully. I want to know the real reason you’ve been afraid of admitting your love for me till now.” I clenched my teeth to prevent them from clattering. It wasn’t because his touch bothered me, far from it. It was from the pain gnawing at me and making me dread an answer I might not like, no matter how much I needed to hear it.

Orochimaru closed his eyes for a second and groaned. "The only ones I ever said it to were my parents, just before they were killed. The first time I tried to tell someone else, it was too late to keep that person from leaving. It became my curse. I didn't want to lose you, but I lost you all the same. Only through becoming a parent have I found the courage to risk being honest with my feelings. Believe me when I say I love you, because I do not use those words lightly." That deadly serious look had returned to his face.

Hearing that stung me to the core. How did I not piece that together on my own? I felt like a complete idiot. At the same time, I needed to hear it from Orochimaru's own mouth. I would have doubted it, otherwise. I had to be certain. "I always truly loved you and I wanted you to take me back. I only hated myself for driving you away," I said, trying my best not to cry again.

"I've taken you back. That's why you're here. Making up for lost time is far more productive than clinging to regrets. And it's far more pleasurable, too. So now that you've elicited all my secrets, I'd prefer you stop prying. Why don't you open up for me, instead?" His right hand eased down along my side, to my thigh, fondling me.

"What is it you want me to tell you about?" I asked.

He shook his head. "I didn't mean your mouth." Orochimaru went about kissing the side of my neck with soft, unhurried movements of his mouth and tongue.

A pleasant shudder raced through me. "Oh, Sensei," I gasped, draping my arms around his neck. “I want that. Please make love to me again, Sensei!” I melted in his embrace. The anguish of the past ceased to fester inside my brain. Being in my lover’s arms was the only thing that mattered now.

"When you call me that... What it does to me..." Orochimaru arched out and hissed. I could feel his cock twitch against me. He scooted forward a little and situated my legs so they were wrapped around him. I was still in his lap, only now we were face to face. Before going any further, he gave me a long, slow kiss. "I love you, my little girl," he whispered against my lips once he had finally entered me.

“I love you, my sensei,” I whispered back. Our foreheads were touching and our sights were locked on one another. However, we weren’t moving yet. We were merely holding each other. There was a second drawn-out kiss, during which he was quite restrained in the use of his tongue. As I was letting him dictate the pace, I also held back. Slowly, our tongues grew more involved, and in time, they took over for our lips almost entirely.

Orochimaru proceeded to guide my hips in a rocking motion with his hands. His head went a fraction of an inch to the side and his breath glanced off my cheek. “My little girl needs me, doesn’t she? She needs my love for her.” His words took shape as moaning. I barely had a chance to nod my assent when his lips recaptured mine. This time, it was a much shorter kiss. “You’re beautiful. Tell me you believe that,” he said, having released my mouth.

Those slit pupils and yellow irises were all I could see. They didn’t frighten me. On the contrary, they conveyed such tenderness and adoration. His passion for me was there, in his eyes. It flowed into me. “I do. I believe it because you’ve made me feel it,” I said, running my hands all over his shoulders. I felt so incredibly close to him, closer than I’d ever felt. Our hearts were linked. There was no more doubt in my mind. This was genuine; he loved me. I felt all the more beautiful because of it.

“That’s my good girl. I think you can do the work now. That way I can touch you more.” While I undertook the active role in our lovemaking, his hands migrated from my pelvis, to where my legs held him. Orochimaru was rubbing the delicate flesh of my inner thighs wherever it was unobstructed by our union. “My sweet, little girl,” he said. “Do you like this, hmm? Do I make you feel good?” His voice was very soft as he went about kissing and licking my ear.

My hips undulated on his lap. I was whimpering, “Yes, Sensei. I love your body against mine. I love feeling you inside of me.” My skin was ablaze. I can’t imagine how red my face had gotten. “It’s so good… I want to make feel you good, too, Sensei.” In addition to caressing the upper part of his chest, I lowered my head to kiss him there. My tongue savoured his breastbone.

“Mmm, you do.” His hands were vigorously stroking my back, moving me on him all the more. “Like your body was made for my pleasure. It's so hot and wet.” Orochimaru touched his tongue to mine once more. “This is fast becoming my favourite position. I can touch you everywhere. And more than that, our bodies are connected on each plane of existence, not simply the physical realm. Do you feel it, too?”

“Yes, I feel something mystical and overpowering between us.” With that, I pressed my tongue to his.

“This is a special gift from your sensei. It’s only for my little girl.” Orochimaru moved on to lightly kissing and licking my neck, pausing here and there to kiss my mouth. “I love holding my little girl in my lap like this.”

Those words sent exquisite tremors rampaging throughout my body. “I love you having me in your lap, Sensei. I could stay this close to you forever,” I said as I slid my fingers through his hair. It occured to me that I might’ve been mistaken when I first felt it earlier in the night. His hair was possibly silkier now than it had been when I was young. It enchanted me. I rubbed my lips on it.

He grabbed my chin to resume eye contact. His mouth was almost touching mine, but he did not permit me an actual kiss. It was at that moment that the throes of passion overcame me. Orochimaru seized me by the flanks to support me while I writhed and trembled. He was panting as he spoke. ”Ooh, I can feel the muscles of your cunt contracting and dilating around my cock. It’s trying to milk out my come. You want my come, too?”

I was wailing as I clasped his shoulders. “Yes... yes... yes! Please, Sensei, please come inside me! Please, please! Ah, Sensei!” I threw myself into it, riding him with wild abandon. It felt sublime.

Squeezing his eyes shut and splaying his fingers on my waist, he came inside me. “Ay, yes, take it! Take it all! Oh yes!” Orochimaru was hissing and snarling. His spine buckled, forcing his chest to jut out against mine.

Coming down from his ecstasy, he caressed my jaw. "I love you, my little Anko-chan," Orochimaru said, catching his breath. "I don't care how old you are or what you look like. You're still my little girl." He paused to kiss me. “Though I do find you exceedingly beautiful this way. You’re a beautiful woman, Anko-chan. If anyone says otherwise, I’ll have to hurt them.”

“You’re so good to me.” I slumped against him. “I need this. I need to be here with you. I need to love you.”

“I need that, too.” He rolled us both into a recumbent position on the mattress with me beneath him. “Ah, my little girl, you’re all mine. You won’t leave me. You wouldn’t hurt me like that again, would you?” he asked, kissing my neck and ear.

As I relaxed, I kept sighing blissfully. “No, never again. Underneath, I’ve always been your little girl. I’m lost without you.” We kissed and I started petting his hair.

Supporting his chin on his hand, Orochimaru gazed down at me. “I know. You’re with your sensei again. There’s nothing to hurt you any longer. You're completely safe. I’ll protect you.” He stroked my temple. “Now I want you to tell me some of your secrets, even ones I already know. Simply because I wish to hear them from your lips. To begin with, how long have you loved me?”

“Always,” I said, getting misty-eyed.

“Even throughout all the despicable things I’ve done?”

“Please don’t say that.” I was trying to hold in my sobs. A few stray tears fell from my eyes. “I don’t want to think about that any longer.”

There was something quite tranquil in his expression. “But I must. It’s true. We have to talk about these things till I’m sure you’ve let go. And I need to know it for my own healing process. So have you loved me throughout my horrible sins?”

“It never changed how I feel about you.” Somehow, there was still enough moisture in my eyes for the tears to keep falling. “I’ve been angry and hurt, but I couldn’t stop loving you.”

“Thank you, my dear.” Orochimaru grabbed the dry towel from the nightstand and patted my cheeks with it. “Do you think I took advantage of you sexually? Then or now?”

I shook my head as he dried my tears. “No, I wanted to be with you. Do you think you took advantage of me?”

“Perhaps I went too far then. My primary concern was that each time could have been our last chance. That I might lose you the next day.” He put the towel aside. “Though I hadn’t considered you’d leave me for thirty years and our only encounter in between would involve your mad attempt at a lovers’ suicide.”

“About that- I’m very sorry.”

“You needn't apologise. It was my fault. I taught you that jutsu. I hurt you terribly. It was to be expected.” A half-smile crept onto his face. “But in some way, it was nice to know you still cared.”

I snorted at that. “You get sentimental about the strangest things.”

Following a vague hint of laughter, the corners of his mouth sunk, and his gaze flickered off to the side. “I have to tell you something. When you were unconscious after I put the curse mark on you, I made love to you.”

“I thought that was a dream. You made love to me, then you were crying. I wanted so badly comfort you, but I couldn’t move. I wanted to tell you I still loved you and beg you not to let me go.” I grazed his cheek with my fingers, as if he was weeping then and I was brushing the tears away.

”Surprised to learn I’m capable of crying?” When I shook my head, Orochimaru laughed half-heartedly. “I was.” His shoulders twitched, as if he were trying to shrug, yet lacked the physical energy.

He laid his head down on my breast. “You’re not going to leave. You’re going to stay here, because you need me. And because you know how much I need you, too. I’m seventy years old now, and I can tell you that you’re the love of my life.”

“It goes without saying that you’re the love of my life. You’re the only one I’ve loved.” As I was running my fingers through his hair some more, I abruptly yawned. “Sorry about that. I’m getting a little tired.”

Orochimaru suddenly gave me a hungry look and licked his lips. “I told you, you can sleep in the morning. I have to taste you again.” He flipped us both over, so I was on top. “Straddle my mouth,” he said. “Come on, don’t be embarrassed. We’ve done it this way plenty of times.”

I crawled up to where he wanted me, but I didn’t sit all the way down on his face. Instead, I crouched slightly above him, on my knees. It wasn’t merely to keep my weight off of him, but also to allow enough room for Orochimaru’s tongue. Extending it was vital to his technique, not to mention how much I loved it. With my forearms, I braced myself against the headboard.

Wrapping his arms around my thighs, he pried me open further. His tongue went all over. Of course, he was still able to speak with it stretched out, which he did. “You taste sweetest when our come is mixed together inside you and it drips into my mouth.” I was on the verge of coming just from hearing him say that. My frame was quivering on him. “I see. That excites you, too.” He then licked and sucked it out of me till I screamed from pleasure.

When my orgasm ended, he held onto my thighs. “We’re not done yet. I want more of that,” he said, licking his lips.“Get on top of me like a goddess engaging her consort deity. Make me open my eyes to you.” Orochimaru released his grip on me and closed his eyes. His right arm fell by his side. He bent the left on the pillow, tucking his hand beneath his head.

After shimmying down his body, I eased him inside. Being on top always made me a tad nervous, especially if he wasn’t holding onto me. The fact that he wasn’t looking at me made it a little less intimidating. There was a contented smile on his face that made it appear as if he were sleeping and having a rather sweet dream. As I began moving on him, I marvelled at his beauty. “My sensei’s loveliness is unequalled,” I said.

He smiled more, but his eyes remained shut. This encouraged me to be more affectionate. I put my hands on his torso, touching the soft skin of his stomach. Continuing along, I caressed the muscles and prominent bones of his chest. Orochimaru moaned as I got closer to his nipples, so I focused on those next, leaning over to mouth them. ”Mmm, that’s my girl,” he purred. I hadn’t actually sucked his nipples before, but I found I quite liked it, possibly as much as he did.

Once I straightened up, I noticed his face had become flushed. He slowly opened his eyes. “You are a goddess, my dear,” he said, his breath getting heavier. “Move your body more. Ride me harder. Make me come!” I did as he told me, losing myself in the act. It thrilled me to give in like that. A few seconds later, something rare and beautiful happened. We had simultaneous orgasms. Despite it not being as intense a climax, knowing it was surging through both of us at the same time made it the sweetest one of the night. It deepened the intimacy we were sharing.

With his release ebbing, he bid me to resume my previous position. “Up here again. Hurry, I want it!” he hissed. As soon as I was back on his mouth, he worked his tongue inside me. “Mmm, you’re filled with my come!” Orochimaru moaned with great resonance while lapping up his seed from within me. He paused to show me a glob of it on his tongue prior to swallowing it. For whatever reason, that turned me on like mad. It had me close again in no time flat.

“I love when you touch me this way,” I gasped when his hands latched onto my breasts. He was concentrating more on my clit now. My ecstasy reclaimed me, making me squirm and cry out. After it subsided, I felt utterly spent. I quickly climbed off him to make certain I wouldn’t collapse on his face. Though I was rasping and barely able to move, I eagerly returned his post-coital kisses.

Orochimaru turned me over to spoon me. He covered us up with the blanket again. Nuzzling my neck, he took care not to irritate the sore bite mark on my nape. “Did you miss this as much as I have?” he whispered in my ear. His arms clasped me. One was between the crook of my neck and the pillow. The other was slung over me, holding my hand.

My energy was fading fast. Somehow, I managed an, “Mmmhmm.” I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. My whole face felt too heavy. Orochimaru was simply going to have to let me sleep. If he complained, I’d tell him it was his own fault for spooning me and being so comfortable.