Categories > Anime/Manga > Naruto

White Room

by Ravenspear 2 Reviews

Jiraiya couldn't let Orochimaru leave back in that forest. But in retrospect, maybe ending up hating his best friend would have been better than the guilt of having broken him.

Category: Naruto - Rating: PG - Genres: Angst - Characters: Jiraiya,Orochimaru - Warnings: [!] [?] - Published: 2006/09/28 - Updated: 2007/08/17 - 1399 words - Complete

There is a white room deep below the mountain where only two people ever go.

The first one is Asada Gorou - a jounin. Three times per day, every day, he brings a meal past the hidden door, down the winding stair, and through five of the six security doors that lead to the white room. The sixth door - the sturdiest one by far - can, as far as Asada knows, only be opened with a special key put into the electronic lock in the wall next to the first door, and only when the first five doors are securely locked. When the sixth door is opened, Asada watches the monitor above the lock, which is linked to the eight surveillance cameras installed in the room between the fifth and sixth doors. The prisoner is given ten minutes to retrieve the food, after which he closes the door again and leaves. Once a week, Asada brings a cloth sack with new bed linens, a weeks worth of clothing, toiletries, ink, brushes, pencils, a few empty notebooks and scrolls, and some other supplies. He exchanges this sack for the last week's one, which he thoroughly searches for any suspicious items before taking it and its contents away to be cleaned or scrapped.

Asada Gorou doesn't know who the prisoner in the white room is, and he doesn't want to.

The second one is Jiraiya of the Legendary Sannin. He comes around irregularly and only at night when he doesn't run the risk of crossing paths with Asada, and unlocking the sixth door with a key that doesn't need the five first doors to be closed to work, Jiraiya walks straight into the white room. He always brings a plastic bag filled with sake bottles, books, scrolls and a wide assortment of sweets he's picked up here and there during his travels.

Jiraiya knows exactly who the prisoner in the white room is, although sometimes he wishes he didn't.

~~~

The seals that cover every square centimeter of Orochimaru's skin are purple like bruises and look like a mass of interlinked spiderwebs, with each web centered at a tenketsu. Jiraiya thinks they are so very ugly, but he can't look away, because they are his doing when it all comes down to it, and he can't allow himself to deny his responsibility for even a second. Not that he has anything else to look at, anyway, except for white walls and a few pieces of white furniture, and he hates them just as much as the seals, because they're all the same thing, really. They're all just pieces of the cage he put his best friend in, a long time ago.

"So tell me, Jiraiya, what goes on in the world above? You haven't been here for quite a while," Orochimaru says, carefully sipping his sake, and not quite managing to conceal the faint shaking of his hands as he lifts the sake dish. Chakra exhaustion, Jiraiya knows; the seals were designed too poorly, suppressing and draining too much chakra. He'd been rushed when he created the jutsu, and now Orochimaru suffers the consequences. The knowledge of that burns at him.

Or maybe the burn is the sake, and the guilt is just that heavy feeling in his chest? Jiraiya isn't quite sure. They've had a lot to drink by now, in the almost-friendly silence that followed Orochimaru's customary death threat greeting.

"It's been a busy time," Jiraiya says with a sigh. "Konoha got attacked during the Chuunin exams."

Orochimaru raises an eyebrow and smirks a little. "Oh? How dreadful. Attacked by whom, if I may ask?"

"Tsunade," Jiraiya says softly, pouring himself some more sake. "She came here for revenge."

Orochimaru is silent for a while, staring into his sake dish. "She was always rather sentimental, wasn't she?" he asks, smiling slightly in a way that reminds Jiraiya of childhood and an Orochimaru that hadn't gone insane with lust for power and fear of death. "We were all rather sentimental," he adds before tipping his head back and emptying his dish, and the Orochimaru that Jiraiya remembers fondly and without regrets is gone without a trace again. "So, what happened?"

"She built herself a village; established it as a Hidden Village without anyone finding out it was her behind it all. A few weeks before the Chuunin finals, she killed the Kazekage and posed as him in order to make Suna into an ally, and when the finals came, she walked into Konoha, in front of /everyone/, disguised in the Kazekage's robes."

Orochimaru laughs then, his face drawn into an expression of pure, joyful mirth, but with something dark at the back of his eyes that makes Jiraiya's chest feel just a little bit tight. "Oh, that is just wonderful! That is perfect/! Genius, even. That's exactly what /I would have done," Orochimaru says with a smirk, the corners of his eyes still crinkled in joy. "But I suppose she failed? Otherwise I doubt I'd still be receiving my daily meals, not to mention the somewhat questionable pleasure of your visits?"

Jiraiya nods, trying to not think about the fact that if Konoha was taken and Jiraiya couldn't sneak in, Orochimaru could have starved to death down here. "She failed. Konoha suffered some losses, though, and the damage to the village was substantial. She almost killed Sarutobi, too."

Orochimaru's face twists into a sneer at that. "She didn't even manage to kill the old man? Tsk, tsk. I'm disappointed. I would have done better." He pours himself some more sake, and Jiraiya finds himself trying to calculate how much Orochimaru has had tonight, and how drunk the snake sannin should be.

But maybe he should be more concerned about how much sake he's had himself, because his next words just leave his mouth before he's even allowed to consider them first. "Do you really hate Sarutobi and Konoha that much, Orochimaru?"

It's as if something comes over Orochimaru right then; his eyes narrow and seem to burn, and Jiraiya is so entranced that he barely registers the fact that Orochimaru's body has gone so tense that the man's sake dish has been crushed in his grasp. His voice is cold and hard as steel when he speaks again. "Of course I hate them, Jiraiya/," he says, spitting the name out like it's poison. "Look at what they did to me. Look at what they reduced me to. And why? Because they /feared me! Because I tried to become more than I was, and they wouldn't let me!" He's screaming now; hysterical. "They put these seals on me and put me in this cursed room, and I live here like a jellyfish/; doing nothing, knowing /nothing/, and never speaking to anyone except whenever you decide to come here and watch me slowly die!" He takes a deep, shuddering breath as he looks away from Jiraiya, and the spell is ended. Jiraiya is free to look somewhere else again as well, but he doesn't. /Responsibility.

"I was the one who brought you back, Orochimaru. I was the one who designed the seals. I put you here."

"And why did you?" Orochimaru says, sighing while he refuses to look back at his old teammate. "Why did you bring me back?"

It is a long while before Jiraiya speaks again. "Because I couldn't lose you, too."

Orochimaru manages a weak laugh in response. "Because you love me? If you truly did that, Jiraiya, you would have killed me or let me go, way back then. This?" He raises his hand, the one that doesn't clutch at the broken sake dish, to gesture at their surroundings. His voice is gentle, but his words sting. "This isn't love. This is your cruel selfishness, /old friend/."

They don't speak any more that night. Jiraiya carefully cleans Orochimaru's hand of ceramic shards and bandages it with part of the bed sheet. The sake is finished in silence, and the rest of the bag's contents are put in the white bookcase for Orochimaru to do what he wants with later.

Jiraiya leaves maybe an hour before Asada comes to make his first round, and as he locks the six doors behind him, he promises himself that the next time he returns, he'll kill Orochimaru and finally release him from this hell.

He almost makes himself believe that he could.
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