Orochimaru remembers the only detention Sarutobi ever gave him.
Disclaimer: Speaking of which, Kishimoto invented and owns Oro-chan and Jiraiya-kun. Though I'm not certain if anyone can own Orochi-pants. Oh well, either way, I'm making no profit off of them. Sigh.
Orochimaru plucks the tattered book from Kabuto’s hands before the medic can even open the small volume. He looks at the simple black cover, and fingers the places where the binding has worn through the cardboard. “I put some of my original notes in here,” he muses aloud, before turning away from the rest of the minions ransacking this library before they head to a new base. “I have some re-reading to do, don’t disturb me,” he orders, and heads for his room. Kabuto might walk in on him, but if the boy does, Orochimaru will feed him to Black Mamba without a second thought. The secrets contained in this journal are worth keeping to himself.
He lights the lanterns in his room and sits on the edge of the futon, before opening to the first page. There, in fading ink that was once black and crisp but is now brown and fuzzy, are the bold strokes of his sensei. The instructions for the month long detention he had to serve for nearly getting himself and Jiraiya killed during a mission because they were fighting with each other over – Orochimaru can’t remember. It was something unimportant, probably Tsunade. He traces the lines of characters with his finger.
Orochimaru: Write 50 times: “I will get to know my teammates better.” Then hand the journal to Jiraiya, and wait for him to finish.
Jiraiya: Wait for Orochimaru to finish, and then write 50 times: “I will learn not to rise to Orochimaru’s bait”
This journal was the only real punishment the old man had ever given him. It had been the most annoying punishment Sensei had ever given Jiraiya. Orochimaru remembered the complaints of the white haired boy filling the summer afternoon as Orochimaru grudgingly, obediently, copied his lines. For each line the Third had told him to think about his team mates. By line thirty-eight Orochimaru was still on Jiraiya. Each line he reads now makes him remember the thoughts then, mainly all fourty nine ways he imagined killing Jiraiya, and the fiftieth where the sickening realization had set into young Orochimaru’s brain that death still might not have been enough to get Jiraiya to shut up.
He chuckles slightly to himself. Death shuts everyone up. He just didn’t realize back then that he liked Jiraiya’s inventive complaints and imprecations against their sensei. Past his neat, graceful characters, done with the same classic brush strokes that his sensei used, Jiraiya’s large, and uncompromisingly blocky characters stare out of the page in stubbornly red ball point ink. Funny how beauty fades with time, but ugliness stays the same.
Orochimaru cracks his spine for a moment, fighting with himself. If he turns the page he knows he’ll have to read the whole four week struggle with the journal in detention. He’ll relive those emotions long buried. Hell, he might even miss those days, if he turns the page and continues to read. But it’s been so long, so very long since he had contact with this magic book of remembrance, he doesn’t think it can really be all that powerful. He settles into a comfortable slouch, and turns the page, to read the instructions for the second week.
Orochimaru: Write the ten things that you hate most about Jiraiya, then pass the journal over.
Jiraiya: Write the ten things you hate most about Orochimaru, then give the journal back
Ten (least aggravating) - Jiraiya exists.
Nine (slightly more aggravating) - He taught you that annoying spying technique of his, and now I have to listen to Tsunade complain about having to deal with two perverts.
Seven (completely aggravating) - His idea of a good joke is putting a frog down the back of my shirt.
Six (something so aggravating that I might break his arm for it) - Jiraiya snores.
Five (I am definitely going to get revenge for this) - He tricked me into giving Tsunade a bra for her birthday, and the card read: “Grow some breasts.” I’m going to see to it that he feels the beating I felt.
Four (a good reason to kill him) - He takes away your valuable attention from me with his stupid stunts.
Three (the second part of my death reasoning) - When everyone in Hidden Leaf knows he’s too stupid to tie his shoelaces together, let alone actually learn anything a real shinobi needs to know.
Two (why I will rip his tongue out before I kill him) - He will not stop calling me gay. Not that I mind the actual insult, but the repetition of it drives into my skull like a drill bit. Has the idiot no originality?
One (the thing I hate the most about Jiraiya) - He’s not worthy enough to hate, and yet I do.
Orochimaru smiles at his carefully ordered list. He’s almost tempted to make a new list. But he continues to read, instead. The next section isn’t enlightening, for him, yet he still thinks it’s the best section of the book.
1. Orochimaru is gay
2. He didn’t go shopping for Tsunade’s birthday present, and stole the one I got for her instead.
3. He drowns puppies! Well, maybe not, but he looks like he would.
4. He glares at me all the time.
5. When he blushes it looks weird. He wears too much make-up.
6. He doesn’t like me.
7. He’s smarter than me.
8. He knows it.
9. He isn’t nice to me, and doesn’t follow any of my schemes.
10. He told Tsunade about my scheme for the women’s bath, just to piss me off and get me beaten up.
With Jiraiya’s large, ugly hand writing, the “Hate List” covers two pages, and Sensei left a clean page between it and the next week’s task. Orochimaru turns the blank parchment reluctantly. The third week had been strange for the two in any case. Tsunade had her period, and complained bitterly that her mother took her bra shopping declaring that she was now a “B.” Sensei had an unrelated headache brought on by a nose bleed. And Jiraiya had convinced Orochimaru to experiment with alcohol while the Third Hokage was unable to guard his liquor supply. They had turned the second list into a shot game. Each time you wrote a point down, you took a drink. Whatever drink your partner offered. Orochimaru was certain that the sticky red liquid Jiraiya had handed him after number six had contained something more than alcohol
Orochimaru: Write down ten things that you like about Jiraiya, and then pass the journal over
Jiraiya: Please do the same, and then hand the journal back to Orochimaru.
One: Jiraiya is too stupid to know when I’m insulting him. Let’s see, he’d been given a shot of sake for that one, and Jiraiya had tried to give him a clout upside the head, because Jiraiya wasn’t as stupid as Orochimaru liked to pretend he was. Only Orochimaru still had enough reflexes to duck the angry palm, and shoot back his sake without spilling a drop. He really liked being thirteen.
Two: On missions I can always count on him. Mainly to screw up, but he has pulled a few good saves out of his ass. Number two had been a shot of single malt whiskey, and it had burned going down almost as much as admitting that Jiraiya was almost capable of being a shinobi.
Three: He doesn’t know when to give up. Orochimaru smirked as he read that one. It was his favorite quality, the one he’d taken the most pains to break. Because the shattered fragments were even more beautiful, in some ways, than the original work of art. Hmm. The drink had been green, he was pretty sure. Green as the eyes of jealousy.
Four: Jiraiya always brings extra blankets along on missions. Come to think of it, his stomach had been feeling a bit wobbly by the time he was given the shot of bitter red wine that came with his fourth declaration. But he hadn’t been drunk enough to write the real fourth reason he liked Jirraiya. When Jiraiya was asleep he unconsciously tried to cuddle whatever was in his reach, be it pillow or blanket, or person. The fits Tsunade had thrown made up for the amount of embarrassment that Orochimaru suffered from actually being touched by someone.
Five: He doesn’t think about the future. Orochimaru is surprised that this fact still makes him feel jealous in a certain odd way. He had been well on his way to being truly tipsy at that point, and whatever Jiraiya had handed him (while telling him to wipe the make-up off, because one: he looked gay, and two: Orochimaru blushed when he was drunk, and it was creepy, damn it) had been far too sweet and fruity. He remembered yelling at Jiraiya that he was not drunk, and if Jiraiya wanted to talk gay again, well, he’d show him! Ah, the innocence of youth and experimentation of alcohol.
Six: Jiraiya is braver than I am when it comes to people. He hadn’t liked this about Jiraiya, but he had admired the way Jiraiya was not aloof, and by then the sticky red thing which tasted oddly of oysters had been in his hand, and he’d gulped it down to accompany the other various poisons. Orochimaru gazes at the characters, which had started to slant and stagger at this point, still filled with boneless grace, but confused and uncertain, like young cats learning how to walk.
He remembers thinking that he was drunk, and that he had to concentrate. Number seven took agonizingly long to write because at the time he was trying to think of anything other than how gay it sounded to write: “I like that he holds me when he’s asleep, and I get too close.” The sprawling characters, instead, declared that Seven: Jiraiya isn’t a genius, and I like that. And he’d still been fighting off the warmth from the alcohol, and the stupid sentimentality that went along with Jiraiya’s cuddling habits as he swallowed something that tasted like berries and lemons.
The next line of characters is as hazy as his thought process had been at the time. The warm afternoon, and sunny atmosphere of the deserted school house had been turning the drinks sour in his stomach, and making him want to curl up on the floor and sleep, rather than finish the lines Sensei had ordered him to finish. He had wanted to curl in on himself, and maybe reach out and pull someone within that curl, and embrace them too, because it was sooooo warm, and he was soooo sleepy, and sleeping with someone wrapped so tightly that they couldn’t breathe just made everything warmer. Eight: Jiraiya makes me want to be better with people.
In the lantern lit room Orochimaru suddenly smirks, and laughs. He knows where the memories are going to go, but right there, number eight, the words are so precious to him. Before he kills Jiraiya he must remember to tell his best friend that the reason he got so good at manipulating people into loving him is because he was trying to emulate Jiraiya the best way he knew how. Should make the idiot’s heart curl in on it’s desperate self.
Nine: Jiraiya’s constant. Constantly annoying. Constantly perverted. Constantly stupid. Constantly there. His hand had slipped on the glass, and Orochimaru wonders why it was just then that he started to realize that shot glasses shouldn’t be able to double duty as tea cups, and that Tsunade’s mother was going to kill them before her daughter ever could. Jiraiya had seemed more concerned by the fact that he hadn’t taken a full gulp of the funny lime thing, and Orochimaru winces at the recollection of the double shot to make up for that.
Ten is scrawled across a single page. The thing I like most about Jiraiya is: He exists.
Jiraiya had told him that it was the gayest thing ever to write. Orochimaru remembers yelling something about it being irony, dolt, and Jiraiya should use his brain for once, and no wonder everyone hated him. And he remembers with something that should have been delight, should have been excitement, should have been smug, that Jiraiya’s face just sort of broke. And Orochimaru had been swaying, with the room tipping and tilting around him, and black had been flying at him. Jiraiya wasn’t crying. He was just cold and his face had broken. They were boysboysboys. They argued all the time. Orochimaru always said these things. And Jiraiya always called him gay. And then they’d fight, either with their fists or words or ninjitsu (which Jiraiya still sucked at). That was what boys did.
Jiraiya just threw the ink pot at him, and snatched the journal. He poured himself his own shots. He wrote in silence. It was like Orochimaru wasn’t even there, with ink dripping down his pale, pale face with its drunken blush. It was like Orochimaru didn’t even matter. It didn’t matter that his cream colored shirt was dirty with black ink. It didn’t matter that they had actually been enjoying the drinking game. It didn’t matter that they had been getting along, or that a few moments ago Orochimaru had been having drunken flashes of questions like what it would be like to kiss Jiraiya. Orochimaru, and all his genius, didn’t matter one jot to Jiraiya. Orochimaru finally turned away, and crossed his arms. He didn’t want to matter to a loser like Kono--Jiraiya, anyway.
He wasn’t too proud not to read what Jiraiya had written, however, when the boy left in stormy silence.
1. I don’t like anything about Orochimaru
2. I’m always his enemy
3. I’m stupider than he is
4. I take away his valuable time from you, Sensei
5. I just want to shake him and hurt him until he understands that I don’t want things to be this way
6. But he never understands
7. He doesn’t want friends
8. He wants slaves and lackeys, and would drown a puppy if that could teach him a new jitsu
9. I just wanted to be his friend. But I’m too stupid for him, I guess
10. Doesn’t matter. I don’t like him. You don’t need to bother with this crappy “get to know him better” detention. It won’t work on either of us.
Orochimaru snaps the book shut angrily, and throws it against the door. He’s mainly angry at himself. The stupid memories still make him feel guilty after so many years. He is the king of serpents! He shouldn’t give a damn about what Jiraiya thought when he was thirteen. It sure didn’t last! They were talking and yelling, and palling around like old times in three days. And it angers him that he still feels guilty and he doesn’t know what he did!
He breathes out. His temper has hardly been assuaged. But he’s good at suppressing all the hate that coils inside him. It’s useful for when he needs to summon the snakes. He picks up the book again. The tattered binding is stroked like an old friend. His tongue slips out of his lips and tastes the air filled with memories. He smirks. They were friends again in three days. Jiraiya was always so easy to fool. So ready to plunge the daggers into his own heart. His special brand of stupidity will always thwart him, even after he has become a shinobi with a legend to rival Orochimaru’s.
The last week is still persevered within this simple exercise book. His long pale fingers memorize the aged smoothness of the cardboard cover rather than opening and reading again. He doesn’t have to. He can remember Jiraiya’s letter, stapled in there by sensei. He has forgotten what he wrote in return. Jiraiya probably threw it away long ago. They had to write a letter to each other, explaining what they wanted from each other. Jiraiya’s letter wasn’t very cohesive, but Orochimaru could read it from memory.
I want us to be friends. I need to be able to trust you. You nearly get me killed almost every mission, even the ones that have nothing to do with the war. Maybe I’m not taking the hint. But I’m not just gonna roll over and die for you. Won’t make it that easy for you, you stupid gay ninja genius. ‘Cause you are an idiot, even if you don’t know it. You’re not alone in the world. Just reach a bit and we’ll catch your hand. And then Tsunade will throw you into a brick wall, but hey, that’s what friends are for. So, can we be friends? Once you start opening yourself up you’ll realize that other people are worth something, damnit.
P.S. There’s a reason there’s a warning on that snake summoning contract we found on Thrusday’s mission. Don’t sign it just because Sarutobi-sensei allowed you to study it, you stupid fool.
Oh, he never listened to Jiraiya, did he? Orochimaru chuckles as he tucks the book up a sleeve normally reserved for kunai.
In an old storage room in the Konoha Academy’s basement is a binder filled with scraps of paper. Most are thoughtless (and occasionally topless) doodles of women who are long dead, their brains blown apart by exploding notes, their pretty breasts pierced by kunai. Those long legs were cut up by a Sand nin, and those slim wrists were sliced open after her son died. They were just young kunochi back then, though. There are bad poems in this folder. Descriptive ramblings, and homework assignments that typically received a four out of ten are also stashed in the pretty red binder. All are written in uncompromising ball point, or even humble graphite. The only entry in graceful brush strokes isn’t from the student to whom the rest of this belongs. It’s short. A plea which has been long forgotten by the person who wrote it. The person who received it desperately tries to forget it, and reminds himself of green rooms and screaming children dying as their bodies mutate if he ever remembers the plea. Orochimaru always was a fucking liar, anyway.
I don’t hate you. I promise. Please don’t hate me.
And stop calling me gay! It annoys me to no end.