Challenge: Switched

Naruto didn't understand why the Ero-sennin thought the creepy pale guy would be such a great Hokage. When Jiraiya had spoken about his old teammate, who had mastered almost as many jutsus as the Sandaime, Naruto had pictured someone... taller. And less girly. In other words, more like a legend.

Of course, being a legend wasn't much of a guarantee of anything. Naruto just had to look at his new teacher, the toad sennin, sensei to the Fourth Hokage, one of the most well-known pornographic writers alive and second generation pervert, to know being a legend wasn't all it was chalked up to be. Still...

"You told me yourself that you would be a far better Yondaime than my student, Orochimaru. Now you have the chance to prove it."

Ero-sennin was really going about it all wrong. From the way he and the new guy were glaring at each other, Naruto would have pinned them as arch-enemies, not former comrades. The unveiled hostility in Jiraiya's voice didn't improve the already tense situation. By the way the snake sannin curl his lip, he seemed to agree.

"Tsunade's offer was far more lucrative, Jiraiya. All you can provide me with is a pathetic challenge I didn't think was worth my time ten years ago. She, on the other hand, is willing to give me what I've always wanted. Who do you think I'm more willing to cooperate with?"

"She killed Sarutobi-sensei, Orochimaru. Doesn't that mean anything to you?"

Orochimaru snorted. Sitting on the snake sannin's left, Kabuto quietly poured more sake into his mentor's empty glass, which the black-haired shinobi blatantly ignored.

"If she hadn't finished him off, I would have done it myself. It was our beloved former teacher, after all, who stopped my research."

It was becoming far too apparent, even to Naruto, that the Ero-sennin was losing his temper. When the sake glass shattered in the white-haired man's grip, Naruto tried to intervene.

"How can you refuse the position of Hokage? It is the ultimate honor of Konoha! Don't you-"

"Taking up the Hokage's mantle has a 100 mortality rate. The last thing I'm willing to do for that village is die." Orochimaru raised one ironic eyebrow in Naruto's position. "Why the interest, boy?"

"Someone needs to hold the position for me until I get old enough."

From Orochimaru's answering laugh, Naruto garnered that the snake sannin's answer was still a No.

At his former comrade's response, Jiraiya gave an angry hiss and said in a tight, controlled voice, "Naruto, leave."

The genin shot his teacher an incredulous stare. "What?"

Jiraiya tossed Naruto a few coins. "Leave. Go get some ramen or something. We're going to be negotiating for a while, and your fidgeting will just be a distraction."

Grumbling under his breath despite the promise of ramen, Naruto slunk out of the bar and out the door. After his student's departure, Jiraiya visibly tried to pull himself back into a semblence of control, letting out a loud sigh and forcing himself to let go of the remains of his sake glass. "The council is willing to... compromise on the terms of your return to Konoha."

Orochimaru raised one eyebrow. "Really?"

"While the Sandaime had problems with the concept of human experimentation, not everyone has such stringent morals. As we acquired a number of Sound and Sand prisoners during the recent invasion, the council is willing to supply you with a laboratory and test subjects upon your return, to resume your immortality research."

At Jiraiya's words, the snake sannin actually snorted. "Immortality experimentation is illegal in Konohagakure. I can't believe the council would be that desperate for a Godaime to relax their policies so dramatically."

"Well considering the alternative is to let a pornography writer lead Konoha and have you ally with Tsunade in a declaration of war against the Leaf, their options are limited."

In the middle of taking another sip of sake, Orochimaru choked on the drink and started coughing. After several minutes of this, the pale shinobi finally recovered enough to say, "You mean to tell me that you were their first choice?"

Jiraiya shrugged, not looking particularly offended. "I told you their options were limited."