Author's Note: This was started a while ago and I stopped for some reason, so I just finished it up today. Enjoy.

Orochimaru knew he was drunk. He wasn't a drinker by nature, but Jiraiya had dragged him off to a bar after successful (or failed) missions often enough that he could tell. The room always started to turn a little blurry and dark around the edges after one too many cups of sake. This phenomenon also occurred when nearing unconsciousness or death, but he hadn't been in a fight recently and there wasn't any blood. There was also a glass held tightly between his hands and he felt liable to throw up, which never happened after a battle. Orochimaru couldn't remember why he was in a bar, especially as seedy a one as this sinkhole, but there was only one reason he ever went drinking without Jiraiya, and that was to forget something. Meaning something unpleasant had happened recently. Considering how crazily tilted the floor was looking, Orochimaru doubted he could make it to his feet without falling over, but that didn't matter. Jiraiya would inevitably come and get him. Eventually. God knew the idiot owed him for all the times Orochimaru had carried him home after a drinking binge.


Right on time. Early, even. Orochimaru wasn't ready to leave yet. The fact that he could remember that he was trying to forget something meant that he wasn't quite drunk enough. One or two more glasses would do it, most likely. Still, it didn't pay to be impolite after Jiraiya had been kind enough to come looking for him. Especially since the bastard probably wouldn't return if Orochimaru told him to fuck off for another half an hour or so. So Orochimaru decided to act the gracious host and languidly waved the white-haired shinobi over with one pale hand, bumping his glass of sake slightly in the process but not quite knocking it over. "Ah, Jiraiya, how nice to see you. Please, come. Join me."

Jiraiya looked confused. Orochimaru wasn't quite sure why. Of course, he hadn't been polite very often in the past, but he did have his moments. It wasn't like his hospitality was completely unprecedented. "Don't be shy, Jiraiya. There's plenty of room." For a moment, this bothered Orochimaru. Even without Jiraiya, someone else should have been with him. Someone important. Orochimaru just couldn't remember who.

"Orochimaru, are you drunk?"

"Yes. Yes I am. Why? Does it matter?" Something in Jiraiya's tone had made Orochimaru think that it did matter, for some reason. This wasn't comforting.

"Unless you've got some new comrades that I didn't spot walking in here, you're taking a huge risk, Orochimaru."

"Why would I need new comrades? I have you, don't I?" The expression Jiraiya made told Orochimaru that this wasn't the right answer. For a moment, the toad sennin had looked like Orochimaru had ripped open an old wound with a blunted, rusty kunai, but he quickly covered up the pained expression with an equally pained grin.

"God, you must be wasted if you're already at the memory loss stage."

Orochimaru had come into this bar hoping to forget something, but it wasn't so enjoyable with someone else along. Orochimaru was used to being the one with all the wit and information in his conversations with the larger shinobi, but all he felt like now was that Jiraiya knew something he didn't. And considering Orochimaru couldn't even remember yesterday, this was all too likely.

"What am I forgetting then, Jiraiya?"

"From the way you're talking, at least the last two months. Probably longer." Jiraiya slid into the seat across from him and signaled the waitress with a flirtatious grin. He sent her away with his order of two vodka shots just as quickly, but all Orochimaru had was amnesia, not stupid. The 'tip' had a note attached to it, either an address or one of those sappy poems Jiraiya had used to force Orochimaru to proofread all the time.

Used to force. Meaning he didn't anymore. Obviously something had happened between himself and Jiraiya, probably something unpleasant.

"Did someone die?"

From his close inspection of the waitress's very firm behind, Jiraiya turned back to Orochimaru with a start, as if he had forgotten his teammate was there. All too likely. The idiot had a habit of focusing too closely on his girl-watching to notice his surroundings.

"You know, Orochimaru, I think this conversation would be a lot more meaningful if we had it without you being drunk off your ass."

"Probably. So did someone die?"

"Why would you think that?"

"Because you're acting strangely."

"I'm acting strange? God, Orochimaru… you really don't remember what you've done, do you?"

So, he was drinking to forget something he'd done. This seemed unusual. Always, in the past, it had been other's stupidity that had driven him into bars, but now it was his own. Orochimaru didn't make enough mistakes to have regrets. At least, he never had before.

"No, I don't. I thought we'd already been over that."

The waitress returned with Jiraiya's drinks, and the poem must have been one of the white-haired shinobi's better efforts because instead of knocking Jiraiya's teeth out when he pinched her ass, the girl giggled and winked before walking off to serve other tables. The toad sennin downed one vodka shot quickly and was reaching for the other before Orochimaru blocked the taller shinobi's path by grabbing his wrist from across the table. "Tell me, Jiraiya. What am I forgetting?"

"I'm not going to tell you."

This wasn't Jiraiya's usual answer. Orochimaru's sense of unease intensified. "Why?"

"Because the only way we're going to have a pleasant evening out is if you don't know shit." The taller shinobi neatly got around Orochimaru's barrier to the alcohol by snatching the glass of vodka with his other hand, still currently free from Orochimaru's grip, this drink not lasting any longer than the first. After a few moments of staring contemplatively into his empty cup, Jiraiya ordered more vodka. It didn't take long before the white-haired shinobi was as gloriously wasted as his teammate.

Jiraiya then proceeded to wax nostalgia. For three hours. Orochimaru knew he probably would have minded more if there hadn't been alcohol present, but Jiraiya kept on ordering and half of it was sake, so in the end it really wasn't all that bad. Orochimaru even laughed a few times, mainly at the points in Jiraiya's stories where they had for once been united in their purpose (usually while trying to humiliate Tsunade's fiancé), and there was some value in a shared childhood.

Orochimaru fell asleep first, though in truth the unconscious state was more akin to an alcohol-induced coma. It was to be expected; Orochimaru had started his drinking binge an hour before his teammate had arrived and he lacked Jiraiya's mass. Still, the larger shinobi hadn't even been close to sober, and Orochimaru had to wonder how the idiot had managed to drag him to his hotel room (and how the toad sennin had found out where he was staying). Both of these questions, however, were not all that important. In fact, there was really only one question that mattered; how the hell could Orochimaru have forgotten that it was two months yesterday he had been exiled from Konoha forever? While this particular piece of idiocy could be blamed on the sake, there suddenly arose an even more stupefying question; why hadn't Jiraiya killed him when he had the chance?

Such things really couldn't be contemplated during a hangover, so Orochimaru tried to force himself to go back to sleep. The notes on his bedside dresser made this even more difficult than it usually was after a bar night. It took about ten minutes for Orochimaru to give up on his sleeping plan, and another five for him to wearily give into his curiosity and pick up the notes. One was in Jiraiya's handwriting: I'm sorry. I couldn't do it. Well, Orochimaru supposed that was one question answered.

The other note was in a script Orochimaru didn't recognize, and probably wouldn't have made sense sober, much less with a pounding migraine. Meet us in Kaizen at noon tomorrow and we will give you the power you seek. The note wasn't signed except for a strange design at the bottom, an abstract drawing of a red cloud bordered in black.

The snake sannin gave an irritated sigh and rubbed at his temples. Wonderful. Another invitation to a doomsday cult. Why didn't anyone get that an obsession with immortality meant he was researching life, not death?

Orochimaru tiredly scanned the note one more time only to realize he'd missed the postscript: This is not an invitation to a doomsday cult. Power is all we're after. Really.

Okaaay. That was kind of weird. But at least it was interesting, and it wasn't like Orochimaru had anything else to do. Besides, who knew how long Jiraiya's friendship/survivor guilt would last until he finally regained his common sense and sent for a couple ANBU squads to finish off his old, beloved teammate?

Three days. Tops.

Orochimaru knew it was time to leave. He'd dallied in this town long enough. But still…

((Goodbye, Jiraiya. It was nice talking to you.)) For once, Orochimaru knew he wasn't being sarcastic.