Orochimaru always slept on his back, his hands by his sides, in case he was attacked. Jiraiya understood the logic behind that; he did the same thing too when it wasn't too cold or he was in enemy territory, but Orochimaru did it all the time.
He had asked him once, "What, did you get used to sleeping that? Get comfy?"
"No," Orochimaru had said flatly, with the same mechanical disinterest. "It's to defend myself."
"You expect to be attacked this close to Konoha? We were invited here--they're not gonna hurt us. What about me?"
Orochimaru had only looked at him. That withering, almost-pitying mocking look he'd perfected. Then he'd leaned back and closed his eyes. Jiraiya had muttered and given him a dark look, curling into a tight ball.
Tonight, this night, he'd put off going to bed as long as possible, reading porn on the roof with his treasured girly magazines until it became too cold to stay out. The last thing he wanted to be was in the same room with Orochimaru; he couldn't quite picture going to sleep in the same room. He'd begged Sarutobi-sensei for another room, but all he had gotten was a chilly, hurt look.
"He's your teammate, Jiraiya."
"He's insane too--and you've seen his teeth! I'm not--"
"No. Go. He's...he's your teammate, Jiraiya. We stand together."
Jiraiya had pouted, "Standing together's fine--I've got my hands free. It's sleeping in the same room with the bastard I don't like."
Every team had a structure, a strategy. As with most teams, the two males were nearly polar opposites of one another, with Tsunade as the medium between, as most females were. Tsunade also served as the team leader, which most girls were not. As for strategy, Jiraiya had a natural flair for grandstanding, for distracting, Tsunade went after the mission objective, whatever it was, and Orochimaru provided support from the shadows, obliquely right up to the point where someone's throat was torn out, rarely out in the open. Orochimaru could fight if he had to if the initial venoms or strike were inefficient, but he wasn't used to it. Jiraiya himself was used to running away, stalling, or creating traps--Tsunade was the actual expert on hand-to-hand combat, mostly because of her extensive knowledge of anatomy and chakra redirection, similar to the Hyuuga fighting style, though not as accurate.
Jiraiya was used to being the one held at knifepoint; he was usually the one cut or stabbed, out of the three of them. Tsunade, when she was really enraged, could and had taken two shuriken to an arm and kunai blade in her shoulder and she'd kept on going, wrecking havoc and terror, an unstoppable force of nature and pain. Jiraiya secretly believed she fed herself testosterone in huge doses. He was also extremely secretly grateful for it, except when he pissed her off and she came after him, but at least she pulled her punches somewhat...
That, of course, had been before she had lost her brother.
She kept going, kept fighting and working in their unit, but she wasn't the same. It was hard to pinpoint what was different, what had changed; she wasn't exactly sadder, because nothing kept Tsunade down for long, and not exactly angrier, but she was...different. Very different.
Jiraiya put it off as long as he could. He didn't want to go inside. Who would know if he didn't? Sarutobi-sensei? What could he do? Lecture him? Again? So what?
A part of him treasured the wonderful little moment earlier that day, when Orochimaru had nearly been killed. A part of him photographed that expression of absolute fear in those damn cold poisonous eyes that seemed too big for his face, the fingers shaking, covered with Orochimaru's own blood. He hadn't screamed, though, even when he'd been held helpless miles above the earth in something that resembled a hawk, helpless and at another equally sadistic creature's mercy.
That's the kinda karma, Jiraiya had thought to himself, that hurts like a bitch.
A snake and hawk--a part of him laughed at the image and how very accurate it turned out to be; Orochimaru must be closer linked to his animal biology than Jiraiya had realized. Orochimaru normally didn't have a problem with heights, but he'd damn near frozen up! It had been classic! He was pretty damn sure Orochimaru had caught his smug little smile, even if he was pretty sure only Tsunade had heard his grim laugh.
Tsunade hadn't laughed. She hadn't smiled. Jiraiya had distracted the stone ninja's attention by making himself the prime target, rearranging the flow of chakra that kept the clay in the air with written spells and seals and blowing the hawk-like contraption into bits. Tsunade had been the one to break the enemy ninja's spine with a flick of her fingers on the right spot. Tsunade had also been the one to approach Orochimaru, shivering and eyes vacant, morbidly engrossed with his own blood and the wound in his stomach and had slapped him hard enough to knock him off his feet. Jiraiya had winced in sympathy, but not too much--she'd hit him plenty harder. Besides, it was only a little cut; it wouldn't kill him.
What a pansy, Jiraiya had thought to himself. Sheesh, it's only blood. Trust the dark philosophical bastard to be the one to fall apart at the sight of his own blood; what a wimp.
He didn't want to be anywhere near Orochimaru. He'd come back all right...at least he hadn't tried to pick a fight with Tsunade after she'd slapped him awake, proving that while Orochimaru was gibbering a bit he wasn't stupid. Rattled, but not suicidal.
Jiraiya took his time, but eventually, he went back inside the inn, senses on high, and slowly, gradually, reluctantly, made his way to the room near the back that had been given to Orochimaru and Jiraiya. He never really understood why the younger males on the team always had to share...the girls didn't! Why couldn't he have been put on an all-girl team? He would've liked that...
Jiraiya, with a heavy heart-felt sigh, slid the door open slowly, carefully standing to the side and checking the sides and ceiling before entering cautiously. Orochimaru was on his own bed, back pressed against the wall and sheets hiding his skinny body, eyes wide and even from the door Jiraiya could hear the fast, heavy breathing.
Don't go in.
You would never die for me. I would never die for you. Or her.
I've no intention of dying.
Don't go in.
Jiraiya hesitated, and then slid the door shut behind him slowly; ready to skedaddle the second Orochimaru twitched. Fuzzy darkness drowned the room, dust bunnies hopping in front of Jiraiya's feet as he sidled over to his own bed as slowly and cautiously as possible, Orochimaru a gray blurry stick figure with two huge yellow eyes in the dark. Two hungry yellow eyes in the dark, eyes that didn't look remotely human in the best of times, and didn't look even very earthly now.
No sudden movements. That was the watch-word. Jiraiya's fingers touched the edge of his bed, his attention still on Orochimaru. No sudden movements and make Sarutobi-sensei's life a living hell for making me do this shit...
Orochimaru's breathing shifted when he sat down uneasily, and removed his sandals, never taking his eyes off him; it eased, relaxed somewhat. The wide yellow eyes still ate him, animal eyes, and he was going to make Sarutobi-sensei's life hell for making him sleep in the same room as a fucking snake...
He settled down. He stared at Orochimaru. Orochimaru stared at him. They were fourteen. He waited. He began to tap his foot irritably.
"I...know you're upset, but it was only blood okay, stop being stupid. It was just blood! Okay? Now close your eyes--close. Close your eyes. I'm not going to sleep with you looking--"
"I don't want to die."
"I know," Jiraiya replied. "Me neither, now go to--"
"I don't want to die. I can't die. I don't want to die. I don't--"
"No one wants to," Jiraiya said. "Now go to sleep."
"--want to die. I can't die. I don't want to die. I don't want to die. I don't want to die. I can't. I don't want to die. I don't want to--"
"--can't die. I don't want to--"
Jiraiya stood, and crossed the distance between the two beds, ready and willing to slap the crap out of Orochimaru again like Tsunade had because that seemed to work and it looked plenty fun too, but as he got closer Orochimaru's voice died slowly decibel by decibel, until it was only his lips moving near-silently, the wide yellow eyes staring up at him through limp black hair.
Jiraiya gave him a dry, tired look. He thought about hitting him. Orochimaru blinked, lightening fast, knuckles white from holding the sheets and skin grayer than normal.
Jiraiya sat down.
I hate myself sometimes.
"...don't want to--"
"You're not going to die, dummy."
"Everyone dies from the second you're born to now to never from the second you're incubated and the gestation begins even before you learn to breathe you're dying second by second and nothing stops nothing ever stops it it's aging and aging and everything dies and no one remembers and I don't want to--"
Orochimaru's eyes were gigantic liquid yellow pools, hypnotic, his voice never wavering from the near-hysterical rhythmic monotone and it was a second too late that he saw Orochimaru's teeth. Normally they were flat, human things, but when he was fighting or killing, his cheeks got shallower and his teeth longer and skinnier just like a viper's. Fatalistic fear poured off him in dark cold sheets, drenching Jiraiya. The air even felt colder, being this close to him.
"You're not going to--"
Jiraiya cut off his own cry, face contorting through pain and outrage to settle a flurry of mental curses. He hissed between his teeth, making no sudden movements, his wrists locked in a vise-like grip of contracting bone and cold, freezing skin so smooth it felt slimy. Orochimaru was shivering. No sudden movements. Right. It felt like his wrists were going to snap--more threatening than painful, but pretty damn painful all the same. No sudden movements. Never mind the fact that teeth over an inch long were lodged in his shoulder, probably pumping poison through his veins and slowly killing him because Sarutobi-sensei thought they should stick together! Hell! It was just a little blood! That was all! Sure Orochimaru had been helpless for the first time since he could hold a knife, but it was only a little blood!
Muffled against his skin was a steady mantra. Jiraiya was marginally grateful he didn't have to listen to the whining anymore, just get his guts poisoned sick and dead.
"You aren't going to die. You're not. You aren't going to die--you're going to live an incredibly long time, a really long time. All right? You're alive now--you survived. You're gonna survive worse, you're gonna survive better, and you're not gonna die. Now...let go of my shoulder.
"Hey. Hey. My shoulder. Aching. Shoulder?"
Jiraiya sighed. He lowered his voice.
"Stop being stupid--we are gods among men. We can control the weather, we can control people's minds, shadows, we can switch bodies; what is death to us? What's time? The founders of our village lived to be old, old men, and they could've lived longer if they had wanted, they could've kept their youth. We have magic...we have power. If we don't want to die we don't have to."
Against him, he thought he heard Orochimaru scoff. Good. At least he wasn't talking to himself and the wall again.
"We could be--if it weren't for the stupid wars and stupid rules we could be. It's their fault; it's the stupid war's fault we're in this mess at all! We can summon monsters. We can kill demons, or seal them, and they're immortal. There's a million things we can do, and if it weren't for the bloody stupid wars and infractions and fighting--oh yeah, and we didn't have to eat and earn money--we could really do something. You know. If the clans would stop fighting like cats in a sack for a couple years and pooled all their power...what couldn't we do?"
The shivering was easing out of Orochimaru's body. Or, if not easing, then at least slowing down. His wrists still hurt though--his fingers felt numb. No hand seals from him, nope-nope.
"Jubei-sama of our art did amazing things, and no one's been able to come close to what he accomplished because of all the stupid fighting. People remember the great ones. Not everyone dies...the great ones never die. People remember their names for years. For as long as your name is spoken, you aren't dead. For as long as people remember the great things you did, you aren't weak. People remember. Power leaves it mark, and as long as people speak your name you will never die..."
The teeth were easing out of his body. Unfortunately, he couldn't think of any else to say to ease them out. Forcing them out was not an option--Orochimaru was smaller than him, but not physically weaker. And he had his teeth sunk into Jiraiya's flesh, which was 9/10ths of the advantage. He grabbled.
"It doesn't have to be this way. You're alive--you can still do stuff. It's the dead who can't do anything, but right now you're alive."
"Now get your teeth out of my shoulder. Okay? It's starting to hurt."
Thin yet strong teeth slid out of his body, but his hands weren't released (he couldn't break the grip and couldn't move his hands enough to make the proper seals) and Orochimaru didn't move; not leaning against him, not touching him, but still so damn close...a part of Jiraiya cringed. Icky. Very, very icky, to be this close to him...
He was going to kill Sarutobi-sensei. Or at least make him hurt.
"You're lying..." Orochimaru stated quietly, wheezing slightly and hissing a lot, when he was able to speak again. His teeth still chattered, which sounded a bit odd with fangs. "You're always lying..."
"No I'm not--it hasn't happened yet. I need something to be true in order to lie, and the future isn't true yet so it's not lying. The living have power, and power changes the rules; even the rules about dying. We're alive."
"...didn't know you were power-hungry. Or that you thought like this..."
"I'm not power-hungry; it's just sense. And I'm a secret genius in disguise--I'm learning the wisdom of the ages between a million women's beautiful thighs, of course I'm a genius."
Jiraiya laughed softly. Orochimaru didn't. He was still shaking. Jiraiya grimaced.
"It doesn't have to be this way. We shouldn't have to live in fear."
Jiraiya waited, feeling a little sick for revealing so much of himself, of his dreams, of one day not having to fight and kill people he didn't even know every single month, of not worrying people who didn't know anything about him were going to kill him because someone else with lots of money or power or both decided the world would be more convenient without him in it. Or just killed him because they happened to catch sight of him. Jiraiya dreamed of a day were people didn't try to kill him just because he was alive and on another team--he'd spied on the other villages before, mingled with them during the fragile truces when both (or all four) sides were scrambling to rearm themselves, and had found his enemies weren't really bad people. Not as nice as his team, not as clean or normal, but not bad people. Just different.
It was something he couldn't tell Tsunade, after what she had lost in the war, because it sounded so futile. So stupid. It was something he had never wanted to tell Orochimaru, because he was slimy bastard who enjoyed the misery of other people, enjoyed breaking them apart. Jiraiya had worked good and hard on constructing the perfect reputation: the somewhat useless trickster, sarcastic, cynical, unreliable, and voyeuristic. He hadn't told Sarutobi-sensei, because Jiraiya had a feeling he knew; he was always bailing Jiraiya out of trouble when he really, really needed it. He had a feeling he knew.
It shouldn't have to be this way. The war shouldn't exist. It was wrong. Living like this, training the kiddies how to rupture the jugular and how to read at the same time shouldn't have to be.
Telling Orochimaru was a mistake. It would be years before he understood why he'd done it, why he'd really done it, and not why he thought he had.
"It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. I don't want to die. Human nature demands blood," Orochimaru was still shivering. He never raised his voice above whisper, never steadied the erratic serpentine hiss on the words. "Demands sacrifice. We're monsters and I hate us all..."
Jiraiya said nothing.
"I don't want to die."
He was a kid who was still, quite regrettably, a virgin, yet also a kid with a stronger sense of conscience than loyalty. He was a kid who wasn't allowed to pay willing, very talented and friendly women to do obscene and wonderful things to him, yet he was paid to kill people--sometimes women, and eventually girls his own age or younger once management was sure he wouldn't revolt--for being born in the wrong place in the wrong time by the wrong person, or simply because they married or didn't marry someone else. He was paid to spy on people, invade their lives in every fashion and aspect possible. He was paid to rescue princesses and to kill boys he didn't hate or even dislike, and because he was a ninja and therefore 'only a tool' as shinobi doctrine decreed, that made everything all right. No one would ever take a sword to court for being a weapon; a hammer would never be denied entrance into Heaven for hitting nails. They were only tools.
"I don't want to die."
According to ninja doctrine, they were only tools, and not responsible. It was the people who hired them who were responsible, who would be denied Heaven, and from the sidelines Jiraiya wished, wished so very hard that that was true, because people did terrible things to each other, and he wasn't sure he wanted to associated with a team like that if there was another option.
Tsunade had the same conscience qualms, but like Jiraiya, she hoped for something better. Before she lost her brother, she had hoped for something better. He wasn't sure what she thought now, but he knew she had.
His fingers tingled unpleasantly, starved for fresh blood and air. His wrists hurt like hell.
"I can't die. I can't die. I can't..."
Orochimaru was slowly going into hysterics. He was dragging himself into it, forcing himself into it more through uncontrollable horrified fascination than actual fear. Orochimaru was naturally obsessive, naturally strange, and now that a new idea had gotten into his head that he could die, that everything could just end for him in a single unforeseen second, he couldn't let the thought go.
He was going to die. Everything he had read, learned, mastered, accomplished, or planned, might never reach fruition. He was going to die. He was going to die. He was going to die, and there was nothing he could do about it.
His breathing hitched, quickened, his body contracting in every possible way in a god-given serpentine reflex, coiling every muscle and tightening every joint, everything readying for the single crucial second when the moment came to strike. His hands tightened, until he could feel Jiraiya's pulse strong and steady against his fingers, his head almost touching Jiraiya's shoulder. He couldn't smell his fear though--not with his tongue, not with his nose. He couldn't smell his fear.
There were two ways to distract a snake. One was to beat them stupid with a heavy shovel. Jiraiya didn't have a shovel on him handy, though.
Jiraiya closed his eyes. He started talking, voice pitched lower than the cool bottoms of gentle streams and softer than flannel, because words were something that didn't leave any scars you could see.
"Some people say that men gave birth to the monsters. That there was an old, evil man who lived high on the mountain and he was so evil that the birds died when they flew over him. The earth was dead on the mountain, and any kind of animal that came close to it started frothing at the mouth, like rabies, before dying. I'm not sure what he did, exactly, but the old story said he'd killed his family and eaten them, because people say you lived on through your kids. Well, he thought it'd be better if he lived on with his kids inside of him, but he kept his wife alive, tied up inside the house, so he could rape her and get more kids for him to eat."
"One day his wife was too old to have kids, and she died. He started to go hungry, so he tried to go looking for a girl to be his wife, only he couldn't find one, so he died too. When he died, a monster ripped out of his body, wet with his blood. It was the flesh of all his kids, living inside him for years, and it all came out at once, it one big 'gloop'. And that was the first monster."
Jiraiya waited for a response. Usually, after one his stories, X-rated or not, Orochimaru would throw a dry, loathing look in his direction, or say something sharp and scathing, or (worst of all) ask when Jiraiya had been within 2 feet of a woman who hadn't spit on him.
Nothing came. The grip on his wrists didn't ever relax.
"Okay, I made that up, but you get the point."
"I don't want to die."
"I know," Jiraiya replied as patiently and soothingly as possible. "You told me. Many times. I don't want to die either. Did you poison me? When you bit me?"
There was silence, interspersed only with the shaky, raspy breaths. Orochimaru wasn't hysterical anymore, though. Jiraiya considered that a victory. Kind of. Provided he lived through this. Or was able to run to Tsunade and get an antidote in time. Orochimaru wasn't shivering. His hands were still sweaty, silky-smooth, chilly as steel around his wrists.
"...What if I did?"
"I'd run to Tsunade screaming for help," Jiraiya replied matter-of-fact with rather disarming honesty. "And beg for her help, so on, yadda-yadda, whatever. Did you?"
"...Why would I let you go?"
Ah, thought Jiraiya. Good point. After all, why would he poison me if he didn't want me dead? Besides the fact that he was panicking, I mean. And being a wuss.
"Because you'd be bleeding profusely out your side after I stab you," Jiraiya answered flatly. "You're not the only one who can kill, you know."
Orochimaru was still breathing heavy, but at least his body had stopped contracting. Minute shivers still racked his body; small not because the stress on him was any less, but small because of the angry contractions his mind was forcing on his body.
When he spoke, his voice sounded wet--bloody. Not...weak, exactly, but on the verge. On the verge of what, Jiraiya wasn't sure, but definitely on the verge.
"Why aren't you afraid of me? Why aren't you afraid of dying? Why aren't you afraid? Why have you lived this long? Why? Why? Why aren't you afraid of me? Why aren't you afraid? Why aren't--"
Jiraiya remembered seeing a tattoo once, on a guy's shoulder, of a snake eating its own tail.
A part of him thought this was not the time to be worried about Orochimaru. He could be poisoned. And he had lost feeling in his fingers, and was losing it up his arms. His elbows ached from being twisted. Another part of him realized that if he didn't take care of Orochimaru, he couldn't take care of himself.
Because we're on the same fucking team...
He interrupted, "The desert tribes believe that the dead go to garden without end, without death, without hunger. Live life by your own terms, in your own right, and when you reach the garden you will never feel pain or grief, and the world is a distant thing, a thing that happened and now is gone. Butterflies swarm in the garden and turn into beautiful women that sing songs no one remembers."
"--can't die. You can't understand--"
"The monarch butterflies live for years of their own time half-dead in a tomb of their own making, in their own garden, and they wake up out of it. Death is not a permanent thing. In Yakasuta a woman locked her son inside a room and unleashed an army of butterflies inside, and months later when the police went to look for him he wasn't there. The butterflies littered the bed like flowers on a marital bed, like in the houses of the nobles before a woman gives up her own life to live in the shadow of her husband, a half-dead creature in her own right."
"--never...can't you...I don't want to..."
"The snow tribes of the far north never kill the ravens that haunt the trees, because the ravens foretell a death, or a slaughter of a tribe. The ravens know, the death birds. There is a parliament of ravens and murder of crows and gaggle of geese and the north tribes use the feathers to differentiate between clans. When the world ends for them a wolf will swallow the moon, destroying the night and the sun will never rise again, locking the world in a mausoleum of darkness. The clans will avenge their families for grievances stretching back a million years since the first man walked out of the River Falls wearing nothing and killed the first bear and took it's skin as his own, marking man's birthright as killer and conqueror of the natural world, the first and final rapist."
Orochimaru's words were too gabbled to be understood, too quiet to be heard.
Jiraiya pulled his own heartbeat under control, his neck aching from the thin shallow twin impalements, his hands prickling over painfully as the pressure was gradually released from his wrists. He didn't feel poisoned--still clear headed, still fever-less. He'd been poisoned enough to know. He was tired, which was why he didn't mind Orochimaru's forehead touching his shoulder, close to where he bit down hard; his skin was clammy with cold sweat, slightly slimy and smooth like raw meat.
There were two ways to distract a snake.
"Why aren't you afraid of me? You don't like me. You don't trust me. Why aren't you afraid?"
"Because you're not stupid," Jiraiya said quietly without planning his words ahead of time as he was used to doing, watching others watch him speak, because Orochimaru was good at spotting where he was lying. "And I'm more useful to you alive than dead. Because I know I'm not as weak as I act, or as you assume. Because since I know how to live, I'm not afraid of dying."
"You call your life worthwhile?"
He hated him. He hated Orochimaru. He hated him for judging without right, for having all the natural gratitude of an alligator, of goddamned snake, and for being so fucking accurate.
"No," Jiraiya admitted without hesitation, stabbing himself before Orochimaru could, "But I know how to make it worthwhile. If it weren't...if I were able to. If I wanted to try. I know how. I know what makes a life worthwhile."
"How can you believe in what doesn't exist?"
"With effort," Jiraiya answered with disarming honesty. Orochimaru shivered, shuddered, thin cold hands spasming and loosening over his own. Jiraiya didn't move.
"With effort, and sometimes with denial when I can't think of anything better, when effort won't cut it and I can't see a way out or around or through. Because I can't accept that this hell is all there is for us. I can't control where my life ends--I can put it off, and I'll keep on putting it off to the last minute, but I'll be damned if I don't control my own damn destiny!"
Jiraiya's eyes narrowed suddenly, his bark turning sharp, "You got that?"
Orochimaru shuddered again, thin bones weak looking in the cobalt cold darkness. His hands never let go, but they'd gone from the bony death-grip to a fleshier, softer grip, slippery with cold sweat. Not that Orochimaru was ever warm; his body had been designed to be nearly cold-blooded, as animalistic as possible while still being human. His breathing still wavered, rising and falling unsteadily.
Jiraiya slipped his hands out and switched positions seamlessly, his own hands lightly holding Orochimaru's wrists that slithered in his grasp to press their fingertips against his skin again. But it wasn't painful. Orochimaru was cold and slimy and Jiraiya was warm and scratchy with calluses and scars, but it wasn't painful.
"Why are you doing this? You don't like me."
Still working on automatic, navigating and enchanting the monster for as long as he could, Jiraiya almost gave a straight answer and bit his own tongue to stop himself. Orochimaru could tell when he was lying, and therefore could tell when he was telling the truth, and there still some things Jiriaya didn't even want Jiraiya to know about himself, much less for Orochimaru to know.
There was a subtle, yet distinct shift in the atmosphere. He'd been found out. Orochimaru was staring up at his profile, back still curled, reading every contraction of his irises and twitch of his jaw, and probably misinterpretating plenty but not enough to be wrong.
"Unless you are afraid of me," Orochimaru breathed softly.
He wasn't as tightly wound as he had been--Jiraiya had managed to gradually walk him out of that obsession and distract him enough with something new and equally morbid (and therefore engaging) to cause Orochimaru to relax, to unwind, but there was plenty of him still coiled to spring.
Jiraiya gave him a sour look, "Don't kid yourself. I never would've come in here, much less tried anything, if that were it. Now did you poison me or what?"
From an objective point of view, Orochimaru's next logical conclusion was rather sensible. From a personal point of view, example given the point of view of Jiraiya who'd known the cold slimy bastard for longer than he ever wanted to against his will, who couldn't quite stand to be alone with him, or even from the point of view of Orochimaru, who had always viewed Jiraiya as a large type of noisy gluttonous rodent with slightly less intelligence than a chair and a surprising, if unremarkable, tendency towards survival, the logical conclusion was absurd.
From the point of view of them both, the yet unnoted but substantial length of willing physical contact between them, intimacy of psyche, and rather specifically the reptilian attraction to warm, dark spaces and the story teller's attraction to a hungry audience that had allowed Orochimaru's temple to rest Jiraiya's shoulder without comment or disgust from either of them and currently still allowed the rest of his body to curl towards Jiraiya's, it was unthinkable. It was reviling.
"Unless you were afraid for me."
Jiraiya blanched. Then he sputtered, blustered, and finally shook Orochimaru off with an angry snarl and stormed out of the room, spitting, "Bitch," over his shoulder before slamming the door.
Sarutobi-sensei's own bedroom door was kicked open. Sarutobi-sensei was confronted, wrestled, pushed to the floor, until eventually an uneasy compromise was reached, in which Sarutobi-sensei still lost, as Jiraiya stole almost all of the blankets and kicked and slapped absently in his sleep until finally Sarutobi-sensei moved to sleep on the floor of his own accord.
Orochimaru curled his hands around his thin arms. Underneath the grease, wheels turned.
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