Orochimaru still makes mistakes, but Sarutobi is no longer sure how to punish them. Gen, ficlet.
It was a sight he had never expected to see, Sarutobi thought, rolling the wood of his pipe between his thumb and forefinger. This was unexpected. He gave his guest a look of appraisal and then frowned, thoughtful.
"So?" Orochimaru's head was bowed, an obvious mark of respect for his sensei and remorse at what he had done. Sarutobi couldn't see the boy's eyes, and he couldn't imagine how they looked.
"You realise the problem." It was a statement -- Orochimaru knew why he had been sent here, to be disciplined like a naughty schoolchild. "That boy is in the hospital."
Orochimaru nodded, long black hair slipping from behind one ear; he caught it with long fingers and tucked it back in place. "Yes." His voice was self-depreciating, Sarutobi thought; placating. Apparently he realised his mistake.
Heaving a sigh, Sarutobi placed the pipe down on his desk and waved one hand. How was he supposed to discipline his brightest, most capable student? Orochimaru's hands had taken too many lives and grown far too strong for a slap on the wrist to discourage any further rule-breaking.
But it didn't take long for the answer to come to him. "In punishment," Sarutobi began, his hands coming to rest on the desk alongside his pipe, "I have some D-rank missions that you will take alone."
Orochimaru's head lifted suddenly, and the anger was plain on his face. He seemed to struggle with it for a moment. "Of course," he said after a moment, masking his disgust, appearing compliant again, Sarutobi's brightest pupil. "Is that everything, sensei?"
At his nod, Orochimaru turned to leave without a word. Carrying out D-rank missions at his level was a punishment of humiliation: he was a Jounin now, and wasting his strength pulling the weeds out of somebody's garden would punish him more than anything else.
It was strange, Sarutobi thought. Orochimaru was a Jounin now and considering teaching students of his own. There shouldn't have been cause for any punishment at all: he should have known the rules, and known not to break them.
Orochimaru still had a lot to learn. Unfortunately, Sarutobi sometimes felt that he had taught Orochimaru all he had left to teach.