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“Does Kakashi know?” Sasuke’s voice is quiet as he asks, the light tone breaking the monotonous silence that had been held between them.

Orochimaru thinks about not answering because, honestly, Sasuke has obviously figured something out. He has a vague idea on what he’s asking and Orochimaru doesn’t know if he’s ever going to have enough emotional support to answer his questions. This is Sasuke, however, someone who Orochimaru has given up everything for. The younger man became family, somewhere along the way, so Orochimaru turns away from his experiment, raises a delicate eyebrow, and asks, “Know what?”

“About Mitsuki and Rogu?”

Ah, Orochimaru thinks idly, so he’s made the connection. When Orochimaru cloned his two sons, any who knew about the experiment believed that Orochimaru was the only donor. Rogu and Mitsuki believed he was the only donor. They look enough like him, mixed in with something else, that it wasn’t ever questioned if there was any other DNA mixed in with their genetic codes.

“What are you implying, Sasuke-kun?” Orochimaru asks with a benign smile. There’s no guarantee that Sasuke will come to the right conclusion, the one that Orochimaru has hidden for so long, but he wouldn’t put it past the Uchiha to have some small inkling on what Orochimaru had been trying to hide.

“They have Hatake in them,” Sasuke says bluntly, eyeing Orochimaru curiously. This isn’t a hostile interrogation, Orochimaru realizes. Sasuke saw something in Mitsuki, most likely, and drew conclusions about his older brother as well.

“They do,” Orochimaru confirms, feeling no need to lie about that. If Sasuke has looked deep enough to see the family resemblance, then Orochimaru’s ruse is almost up.

“Does Kakashi know he has two sons?” Sasuke asks, tilting his head in curiosity.

The question makes Orochimaru smile slightly because Sasuke is so very smart, but he still hasn’t quite got the edge yet. “No,” Orochimaru replies with a chuckle, “because he doesn’t have any sons. He has two half-brothers.”

Sasuke’s calm façade startles for just a moment, a blink of shock, and Orochimaru thinks, I’ve got you.

“Hokage-sama, to what do I owe the surprise visit?”

Sasuke’s form shimmers and then Hatake Kakashi is standing before him, two dark eyes staring at his smiling visage. Orochimaru stares back, taking in the man before him. This would certainly be a shock to him, Orochimaru knows, and it would be two-fold at that. Family has been discovered, and yet it’s not through him that they have been made.

“How?” Kakashi asks, his voice giving nothing away. His dark eyes, however, do. They’re stormy, emotions clashing together in a complicated dance.

“Do you know that I knew your father?” Orochimaru asks him, finally moving from their stand off to take a seat at the table in the corner of his lab. He should be concerned about security issues, should be trying to figure out how a kage level shinobi was able to sneak past his sensor in only a henge, but memories long thought gone of buried are suddenly resurfacing in his mind’s eye and he finds himself suddenly feeling much older than he had just moments ago. He’s well aware of his age, but he hadn’t quite felt it until now. The weight of all he has done to get here. All that he has lost and never mourned.

“No,” Kakashi says slowly, making his own way to the table. He sits across from Orochimaru and does his best to pretend to be relaxed. Neither of them is quite pulling off the nonchalance they’re trying to produce. This subject is heavy with secrets and emotions and Orochimaru hates that he feels vaguely like he’s coming apart at the seams.

“Your father was a great man,” Orochimaru started, folding his hands together in front of him, so he didn’t have to feel them shake. “Showed compassion to those around him. He had the awful habit of never giving up. Even when others around him told him to leave them alone.”

Kakashi is leaning slightly forward now, still wary but incredibly desperate nonetheless. It makes what is left of Orochimaru’s heart hurt. Orochimaru had all of this information, all of these moments locked away, and he feels incredibly selfish for not unearthing them sooner. It takes a rather strong sense of guilt for Orochimaru to ever feel like this, to ever consider what he’s done to another person, so it doesn’t surprise him that even though his hands are clamped together, he’s still shaking.

“Tsunade and Jiraiya had left the village, had left me alone, and I found myself floundering,” Orochimaru stated, struggling. He was opening up to someone, telling someone else about memories that had left him an emotional mess, and it was even harder than he predicted it would be. “Your father was in a similar state of mind. He saw the same signs he was going through, and he attempted to save me while he was also drowning.” Orochimaru has to take a deep breath, has to close his eyes in pain, as flashes of scenes fly around in his mind. Nights spent raging against the kind, yet sad man. Days avoiding the determination of a shared depression. The slowly reforming stability he had thought lost with the departure of his two teammates. “He saved me, while I could not save him.”

Orochimaru opens his eyes to meet the teary-eyed ones of Kakashi. The man quickly reaches up to wipe away the building tears, not letting them fall down his cheeks. Orochimaru doesn’t bother to wipe away his own.

“I fell in love with him,” Orochimaru admits, finally speaking the hidden truth he had kept bundled up for so long. “I adored him in my own way. I was assigned a mission by Sarutobi-sensei, told to try and convince Tsunade to return. I was only gone for a couple weeks. She refused, of course, and I returned to a home where Konoha’s White Fang had given up. Where he decided that the only way to regain his honor was to end it all.”

Kakashi has stopped crying, his eyes now wide and shiny as he takes Orochimaru in. No one had ever known about Orochimaru’s feelings for Hatake Sakumo and he feels like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders now that the man’s own son has been told the truth.

“He never felt the same way, but he cared. He cared enough to keep me from my own end. I fell apart when I realized I did not return the favor,” Orochimaru confesses, ending his tale with a bitten lip and the inability to meet Kakashi’s gaze any more. He’s never been shy, never been ashamed of who and what he is, but this confession of events long since passed has left him more vulnerable than he’s felt in decades.

“I saw him,” Kakashi whispers, his voice barely carrying over into Orochimaru’s hearing, “when I died during Pein’s attack on Konoha. We talked, and he finally moved on.”

Orochimaru doesn’t open his eyes, lets the burning sensation of tears continue to drag themselves out of his tear ducts. “I’m glad,” he says eventually, his voice soft.

They stay seated at the table, both silent, for several long moments, letting the released emotions swirl around them. Eventually, Kakashi stands, gently pushing in his chair as he leaves the table. He hesitates for a moment, causing Orochimaru to glance up, before he wonders over to him and gently places a hand on Orochimaru’s shoulder.

“Bring my brothers over to my place some time,” Kakashi offers nonchalantly, retracting his hand and making his way to the exit. “We can finally get around to bonding.”

Orochimaru watches him go with a sad smile and nostalgia in his eyes.