AN: I do not own Naruto, and I make nothing except allowance from doing chores. I'm broke. Seriously. This is merely for fun, no profit involved.
Warnings: Possible, if not probable, OOCness ahead. Also, this is an AU, so please keep that in mind. Not everything will be Original Naruto-verse. In fact, a bunch of stuff will most likely end up warped minutely. Or majorly. Either way.
He woke up to bright sunlight streaming through the half closed blinds and creating streams of golden dust notes that danced through the air in a hypnotic waltz. He was lying on a very comfortable futon, cocooned in a warm nest of blankets, with a damp cloth resting on his forehead and a bowl of water nearby.
For a moment he wondered why he had the strange feeling that he wasn't supposed to be here, and then he remembered.
Orochimaru bolted upright, fighting with the blankets as he staggered, tripping over limbs that seemed too short, too delicate, over to the window. He ripped aside the obstructing blinds and stared out at a Konoha that was whole. A Konoha that he hadn't seen since his childhood...
The formerly dead man abruptly fumbled his way into the bathroom, staring at a young, childish face in the mirror. "Oh Kami," he breathed, stunned. "You sent me back." 'I can fix it. I can fix everything, I can start all over again.' "It'll be different this time around," he said, listening to how odd his voice sounded now. "I'll save them. I won't let you down, I won't..." he dropped to the floor, staring in numb disbelief and overwhelming joy at the tiles of the floor. He had a rational thought somewhere in the riot of emotions that had swarmed him. 'I must be around seven or eight, judging from my appearance in the mirror..." He was so caught up in his thoughts that he didn't even sense the other charka signature.
"Orochimaru? Orochimaru! Orochi-oh, there you are. You're awake, I see."
He tilted his head up and stared at the man, feeling a heady sense of relief.
Then he remembered his former-future?-self's betrayal and lunged for the toilet, barely managing to reach it in time to send the contents of his stomach, what little there was, anyway, into the bowl. Sarutobi knelt and held his hair back from his face, rubbing soothing circles on his back.
"You gave me quite the scare when you collapsed at your parents funeral," the Sandaime said softly. "Jiraiya and Tsunade were concerned as well. You've been unconscious for three days now. You...missed your birthday," he added somewhat hesitantly.
'Well, at least I have the date now.' "S-sensei," he rasped finally, once his stomach quit heaving. "Why...why are you here?"
"You're my genin, Orochimaru." The Hokage sounded surprised. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"...You don't have to be."
"Of course I do." Sarutobi smiled sadly.
Orochimaru rested his head against his arms, feeling the urge to giggle hysterically. He pushed it down, attempting to gather himself and suddenly feeling weak. "I-"
Jiraiya burst into the room with a broad grin, and he flinched, suppressing the instinctive reaction to grab for a kunai, adrenalin flooding his body.
"You're finally awake! I thought you were going to sleep forever." Jiraiya paused, his exuberance fading. "I'm sorry about...um...you know..."
The pale skinned ma-child didn't even hear him. He'd suddenly realized that it was just too much, after dying and meeting Kami. He hadn't gotten over his shock at being sent back, hadn't fully realized the repercussions, and now... "Get out, please," he said, his voice strangely calm in his own ears.
"I need to be alone for a while, Sensei. I'll come find you when I'm ready."
"...Are you going to be alright on your own?"
He nodded without looking up.
Hiruzen was reluctant, but didn't protest as he escorted his teammate out. "I understand. Come on, Jiraiya, we should tell Tsunade and the medic-nin that Orochimaru is awake now."
Once he could no longer sense their charka signatures, he broke down into hysterical, sobbing laughter. "They're alive," he gasped out, giggling breathlessly. "They're alive."
Nearly twenty-four hours later, after carefully writing (in code) everything that had happened in his former life and extensive planning on how to prevent or otherwise change events, starting with training his body to its previous standards, carefully hiding the scroll after sealing it with a blood seal and reacquainting himself with his house, Orochimaru finally felt ready-no, not ready, but at least more prepared-to face his past.
It would take him a while to regain his sense of balance, since he was used to being in an adult body, and it took him several hours of walking around to be able to get himself coordinated reasonably so that he wouldn't trip over nothing and fall on his face, but early in the afternoon he left his house and began searching for his team.
It wasn't that hard to find them, considering they were at the same training grounds he remembered them using as a genin. At first sight of his teammates-so young, so innocent-he faltered slightly, but then Sarutobi turned around and gave him a searching look, which he replied to with a subtle nod.
Jiraiya and Tsunade noticed him and crowded around with warm smiles. He listened to their meaningless babble for a minute, simply enjoying the sound of a second chance and basking in their faces, untouched by hatred or disgust, but Jiraiya, surprisingly, interrupted to ask in a hesitantly, "Are you...alright now?"
Orochimaru looked at him for a moment, then a slight smile tugged at his lips. It didn't reach his eyes. "...I will be."