The ritual chamber’s candles flickered, shivering in anticipation of great evil—the great transference that was about to take place in this cave, this tomb that would house Sasuke’s soul.
Sasuke was tied on the floor, helpless to his fate, to Orochimaru’s superior will. The three long years that Orochimaru had waited with bated breath to finally pass were finally over, heralding a new era, an era in which he could finally consume the powers of the Sharingan, the ability he so desired.
Orochimaru stood before Sasuke, ignoring the way the boy struggled helplessly. He was poisoned; the black ink of his curse mark had consumed him, rotting him to his core. Oh, how Orochimaru longed to sink his teeth into the boy's silky, virgin skin once more. Orochimaru could taste that salty, sweet flavor on his tongue as he relished the charade of Sasuke’s last stand. What a pathetic end to Sasuke’s life. The star child, the survivor of such a noble, powerful clan, reduced to a writhing worm on the cave floor. If Orochimaru hadn’t taken such time to bathe and groom him meticulously for this ritual, it would have been almost funny—but there the boy was, looking like a perfectly beautiful doll that had been discarded.
Orochimaru knew from careful observation of the boy and his desperate struggles that made up his life, his broodiness, his fixation on revenge, that Sasuke had a very different vision for the climax of his life. Orochimaru laughed to himself so gently, so softly, finding that such an end was somehow so fitting for a boy who so stupidly believed that he could really have it all—especially when his motivations had been so dark to begin with.
Orochimaru flexed his fingers, feeling his own aged, weathered skin for the last time. This body had grown familiar, but it was long past its expiration date, growing uncomfortable, constraining him. It was nowhere near as desirable as Sasuke’s flesh. Very few could compare to the raven-haired child. Sasuke was young; Sasuke had unmatched abilities; Sasuke would grant him one hundred years of power, maybe more…
Orochimaru felt his fangs unsheathe from his gums, the same way they would when the snake-like teeth would sink down to tenderize fresh flesh. He felt a profound, sexual hunger, a sensation that Orochimaru wasn’t sure if he had ever truly felt before, even in the countless days that had composed his long life.
Sasuke’s mouth was stuffed with thick pieces of cloth.
Orochimaru was so distracted with all of Sasuke’s other features, particularly how he looked donning his sacrificial robes, that he had almost missed such an important feature. Orochimaru cursed Kabuto mentally for not removing it before Orochimaru could play with his food.
“It’s time, my dear Sasuke…” Orochimaru rolled his ‘s’s like long hisses, his true form ready to burst forth, his tendencies, his true nature bursting at the seams. He peeled the fabric from Sasuke’s lips, pulling it out from where it rested, wet in the heat of Sasuke’s mouth.
Sasuke coughed, gasping. He tried to use the Sharingan on Orochimaru, but he lacked all power. His body was weakened, overwhelmed by the cursed seal of heaven, gifted to him by his new master, that marbled his flesh. Sasuke knew what this powerlessness felt like, this devastating fear that he’d told himself he would never feel again as if the mantra could banish his trauma. He felt all at once as though he was a young boy coming across his brother in the middle of the most unholy act. Although Sasuke’s body was stronger now, he felt much weaker than he actually was, as though this lifetime of intense training was worthless, nothing in the face of his untimely end.
“You said you would grant me power!” Sasuke shouted to the best of his ability, sweat rolling down his brow. “What power is this?”
Orochimaru came down towards Sasuke, enjoying this position where he could be close enough to smell Sasuke’s fear.
“Do you think you deserve such power?” Orochimaru furrowed his eyebrows, pulling Sasuke up by his thick hair.
Sasuke winced, his skull stinging from such violence.
“You’re just a child. I will be the one to make you something much better.”
“I don’t understand…” Sasuke would never admit defeat, but the tone of his voice spoke for him.
“Your body has always been mine for the taking.” Orochimaru smiled at Sasuke, releasing where he had laced his hair between his fingertips. Sasuke crashed into his cheeks, hitting hard against the dirt. “This is the moment I’ve been waiting for, all of these years…”
Orochimaru began to shed his form. His skin peeled, morphing in places, a latticework of shiny scales patterning points of his arms where it bubbled and raised against his pale flesh. His teeth grew sharper, more vicious, his hair bleaching to an ashy white.
Sasuke watched with horror. He had seen many terrible transformations, but in his regressed state, through his flashbacks of such profound agony, it seemed all the more horrible. Sasuke knew he was mere prey—he might as well have been served on a plate to Orochimaru.
Sasuke thought he hallucinated the voice in his hysteria, in the psychosis of his lifelong obsession of chasing his elder brother—but it was clear, undeniable. It was Itachi Uchiha. It could only be him!
Sasuke’s eyes widened. He struggled against his bondage, trying to flip himself towards the tunnel out of the cave.
Orochimaru, however, was not surprised. He grinned as though he were expecting this dramatic development. His arms and body wriggled and twisted now, splitting into the bodies of countless thin, white snakes, knotted together, spilling forth from his form. But they all shared one mind. They all were many bodies born from the same master.
“Itachi Uchiha…” Orochimaru’s voice hissed, lacking the composure it had moments before, before his human form had truly begun to unravel. “What a sweet brother you are to come all this way for this poor boy.”
Itachi didn’t answer. He was covered in a hood that obscured his face, rippling down his features. “Let him go.”
“Now, why would I do that?” Orochimaru’s body wavered, peeling and shedding until it looked like a giant serpent was emerging from the sea of tiny, spiraling reptiles that coiled around where his body once stood. “What will you offer in exchange?”
Itachi didn’t hesitate. “Myself.”
Sasuke couldn’t believe his ears. In his shock, all hope of using his voice escaped him.
“You would really let me have your body, Itachi?” Orochimaru laughed, dreaming up ideas that no ordinary man could imagine. “All to prevent me from assuming your brother’s form?”
Itachi was prepared to face his fate.
The bodies of snakes writhed in pleasure at this development, shivering the same way that the tiny wicks of candlelight licked against the crumbling cave walls. Innumerable white forms flicked forked tongues against the air, ready to consume the flesh of the older brother who would risk it all—even his own body—for his special kin.
Itachi revealed himself, pulling his cloak off, letting it fall away to sink into the earth. He crossed the threshold, coming close enough that poles of serpents that once composed Orochimaru’s arms curved and coiled in the air around him, their tiny eyes the spitting image of Orochimaru’s hauntingly yellow ones, the smooth skin around them tinted purple with the same severe strokes.
The largest snake, the one who controlled all the rest, towered above Itachi, drooling large globs of poisonous saliva down upon Itachi’s bare flesh. Itachi didn’t even wince as it burned through his skin. Orochimaru wasn’t exactly being careful with the newly presented candidate for his new host, but Orochimaru was well aware that he could fix any blemish once he’d taken up residence inside his new host’s body.
Itachi closed his eyes, sensing the sudden movements of the countless tiny snakes, snapping their jaws, lurching towards him but stalled by the authority of his main form.
Orochimaru’s tongue lolled out of his mouth, licking against the smooth, bone-white scaly skin around his mouth. He hungered for Uchiha flesh and blood.
Sasuke was too shocked to scream, to do anything other than whimper as Itachi—the villain he’d based the journey of his entire life on—offered himself up to the mouth of the beast, saving Sasuke despite everything he’d done to seemingly destroy him. Sasuke heaved, vomiting threads of white foam from his lips, all from the shock and stress of it, of his sheer helplessness that crushed him into this altered state of consciousness.
Orochimaru unhinged his reptilian jaws, gigantic spears of his teeth on full display, glinting with the heat of the open flames. His toxic saliva formed threads along his mouth, his gums sticky and red from where his fangs continued to erupt and burst forth, eager to sink into Uchiha meat.
“Stop!” Sasuke cried—but it was quiet, caught choked somewhere in the back of his throat, welling from the place deep inside him that still loved his older brother, that would always love him—that hated that he could never, ever destroy the part of himself that cared. “Itachi!”
But it was too late. The reflexes of a snake are lightning quick. Orochimaru had his giant maw around Itachi’s whole body—the body that stayed perfectly still, consenting—in a matter of seconds.
Sasuke sobbed to himself, unable to so much as cradle himself for comfort in the face of the loss of his missions, his goals, his brother. He realized how badly, all at once, that he’d wanted—no, needed—his brother to approve of him, to accept him, to apologize.
All of it was lost, swirling down Orochimaru’s spiraling body, being pushed deeper and lower inside the massive form by intense contractions along Orochimaru’s throat. The colony of serpents closed their eyes, all of the attention of Orochimaru’s true form concentrating on the taste and texture of what remained of Itachi and his mortal soul, savoring it as it vanished.
Itachi didn’t so much as struggle against it. His body slowly disintegrated in the acid within Orochimaru. As it did, becoming one with the mass of shuddering snakes, they began to perish as well, quieting and sinking one by one into a satiated lull.
Sasuke was lost in his tears, watching as the tall shadows like the branches of a giant tree that made up Orochimaru’s form wilted, the limbs of snakes carving, caving, cleaving, rolling into the loose tan dirt. It wasn’t long before Orochimaru hissed in his last throes, colliding with the ground in an ungraceful slam that shook the walls of their tomb, kicking up dirt in chaos as though it were a sandstorm.
Between the veil of sand and the shards of dust that clouded Sasuke’s vision, he could not see how Orochimaru vanished like a pool of water, white, primordial filth coiling together, swirling silver like mercury. His quicksilver form shuddered, shimmering as it spun, transforming into a carbon copy of the memory of Itachi, silver arms reaching past the curtains of sand, pulling itself up as its humming body became solid like clay, dry and bleached whiter than bone.
Orochimaru stood in Itachi’s body, the dust and earth roaring around him, the corpses of his snakes turning to ash. Orochimaru tested his new hands as they gained the illusion of flesh, much paler but still the same, blackened nails all the more striking against such dainty hands, skin white as snow. The purple markings had coiled themselves against Itachi’s eyes, as though Orochimaru had simply carved his yellow eyes upon Itachi’s young face, the thin slits contracting sharply as Orochimaru tested them, tested his new vision.
Orochimaru laughed with lips that were not his own, with a forked tongue that peeked from behind long, slender fangs.
If Sasuke had been afraid of his brother before, it was nothing compared to how he felt now.
Orochimaru crept towards Sasuke, laughing to himself at a joke only he knew. His fingers twitched—all that Itachi could hope to control even with his incredible will from within the prison where his soul was kept, devoured within Orochimaru—but Orochimaru had learned how to wield his new body as though it had always been his own.
He kicked Sasuke. Sasuke whimpered, the strange smell of Orochimaru close enough to his brother’s that it almost felt like him when Sasuke could only see the curtain of Itachi’s black hair from his peripheral vision.
“Do not resist me, Itachi.” Orochimaru spoke aloud, his mannerisms sounding so surreal behind Itachi’s tongue, rolling from the melody of Itachi’s voice. “I only promised I would take your body instead of the boy’s—I never promised his survival.”
Sasuke tried to growl in rage, but it was useless. The pathetic sound came out as a mere hiss of pain when Orochimaru dug his heel into his ribs, twisting his foot in until his bones burned and pulsed—howling for Sasuke to escape the pain.
Orochimaru descended upon Sasuke, coming to claim him in the shape of his brother. Sasuke hyperventilated, panicking as his mind broke in seven different ways. Orochimaru let his teeth sink into Sasuke’s neck, eagerly sampling the blood that came bursting forth the moment that Orochimaru’s venomous fangs penetrated him.
The toxin made Sasuke’s brain sting, swirling and spiraling into a purple cloud of darkness. His breath slowed as it assumed control, lips parted and gaze distant as his body began to freeze, turning into a snake’s prey, a living corpse, a hot meal.
Orochimaru could sense it, gleefully tearing into Sasuke’s flesh once and for all. It peeled open so easily, thick sections of meat curling away from Sasuke’s neck, his chest, all swallowed hungrily by the form of his dear elder brother.
All that remained of Sasuke mistook the eagerness of Orochimaru’s hunger, the way that he used Itachi’s mouth and teeth to devour all that Sasuke was, as his brother’s love.