Title: Conversation With Killers

Pairing: Jiraiya/Orochimaru

Rating: T

Disclaimer: I do not own these Naruto characters and stand to make no profit from posting this story.

Summary: Jiraiya has just had an important "first time" experience. His best friend, Orochimaru is concerned about the impact on his friend and himself. Jir/Oro friendship. Dark. Angsty.

Conversation With Killers

A clatter of pebbles at his window disturbed Jiraiya from the sleep that was eluding him anyway. He went to the window and opened it. "Who's there?" the teenage boy called out into the night.

"It's me, you moron," his friend called back. "I know you were hoping for Tsunaaaaaade but you're stuck with me."

"Orochimaru, you jerk." Jiraiya would have laughed but it hurt his side too much right now. "Come on in. You using the window or the door?"

"Open the door. I don't feel like climbing through your window like some love-struck suitor in the middle of the night."

Jiraiya walked slowly to the front door and let his friend in. He held himself straight, and tried not to wince, not wanting Orochimaru to know that he was injured. He flopped down on his couch at one end, motioning for Orochimaru to take the other. Jiriaya shifted carefully, trying to find a spot that was comfortable or at least less uncomfortable than the one he was currently in.

Orochimaru studied the white-haired boy carefully. His motions were strained, he didn't move with his usual cat-like ease. They were stiff and slow, almost as if he were in pain. He looked up into his friends dark eyes and saw a different kind of pain, anguish, there; the one he'd come knowing he'd have to address. Jiraiya didn't appear to be bleeding buckets all over the floor so he'd deal with that issue later.

"Soooo, how did it go?" he asked conversationally.

"Hmmmm, oh, well, I completed the mission." Jiraiya's words were clipped, completely out of character for him. The dummy usually gabbled on incessantly about whatever inane mission he happened to be assigned to, and usually embellished it with unbelievable encounters with bandits, rogue ninjas and beautiful princesses. No, as Orochimaru suspected something very different had happened tonight.

"Wanna talk about it?" Orochimaru tried to sound nonchalant. He didn't know if he was fooling Jiraiya or not.

"No," Jiraiya responded curtly.

Orochimaru sat and thought for a minute then asked. "Got anything to drink?"

"Beer, in the refrigerator. Help yourself. Bring me one too while you're up, would you?"

Orochimaru muttered just loud enough for Jiraiya to hear him, "Deer-piss. Don't you ever have any sake?"

"I don't earn enough to keep sake on hand." Jiraiya snorted back.

"Well, at least now you will." Orochimaru stood beside him, handing him one beer and settling back down at his end of the couch with the second one. Jiraiya glared at him. He'd been trapped. Orochimaru had set him up with the sake comment and it had worked. It was a running joke between the three of them, himself, Orochimaru, and Tsunade, that he never would earn enough to keep himself stocked in sake. He started to reply and then thought that maybe if he just ignored it, Orochimaru would drop the subject.

"I mean, after this one, I'm sure you'll be pulling down even more high ranked missions, won't you?" Orochimaru asked.

"I don't want to talk about it."

"I think you should." Orochimaru whispered.

"Fuck, it was just a mission," Jiraiya stretched one arm out over the back of the couch and turned his head to look out the window. "You're making a big deal out of it."

"It was a big deal." Orochimaru responded. He'd snuck in and read the mission details and he'd been livid, furious that Sarutobi had sent Jiraiya. Sure, Hokage-sama would have had final approval, but he had given it to Sarutobi's team and would approve whoever Sarutobi-sensei selected.

It would have been one thing to send either himself or Tsunade but to use Jiraiya for this was just…cruel. Orochimaru knew that he himself could kill without compunction, the mission was the mission after all, it was just what he was paid to do. He'd carried out several assassinations before. Tsunade had a certain moral compass to her but she could act without hesitating if she were truly convinced that the safety of her family's sacred little village was at stake.

Jiraiya, though, was another case entirely. He had a sense of moral absolutism that was unshakable, a real anachronistic, gallant, "might for right" naivete. And Sarutobi had sent him on an assassination mission that was nothing short of cold blooded murder. The "rogue ninja" was a C-class criminal at best. As near as Orochimaru could find out from what he read, the guy had committed nothing more than some pretty hefty theft, certainly nothing close to a capital offense. But apparently he had pissed off some of the high muckity-mucks in the Land of Fire and in what passed for impartiality in the judicial system the orders came down for assassination. Not "capture and return for trial" Not even "wanted dead or alive." No, the orders were clear – take him out because he'd pissed off somebody high enough to make that happen.

Orochimaru was almost shaking with rage when he had confronted Sarutobi about it. Neither he nor Tsunade had had any missions on their slate for the next three days, he argued. Either one of them could have easily handled this. And sure, from a skills standpoint, Jiraiya could have, too. But Jiraiya thought too much about these things and felt too much about these things. And Jiraiya had never killed any one at close range before. He'd probably been responsible for several deaths but always at a distance and always in a fight that he didn't pick, always in defense of the village or his team. Nothing even close to this.

Sarutobi had simply dismissed him with a raised hand. It would be a good training exercise for Jiraiya. Jiraiya needed the experience. Orochimaru had wanted to puke.

The black haired teen had stared at his teacher in disbelief then turned and walked away. He realized then that he hated everything the old man and this stupid fucked up excuse for a village stood for. He actually didn't give a rat's ass about the C-class criminal. If the guy was stupid enough to pick enemies that powerful then they probably were doing everybody a favor by seeing that he was removed from the gene pool. But what he did care about was his friend's old-fashioned, outdated, archaic sense of nobility and purpose. For all the jealousy he knew that Jiraiya held toward him when it came to skill in jutsus, this is what Orochimaru envied in his friend the most. It was something he felt he would never have – an unfailing sense of right and wrong.

And if Sarutobi broke that, if Sarutobi ruined that then Orochimaru was scared shitless that he didn't know what he might do.

Orochimaru's dirty little secret, the fear that coiled in the bottom of his stomach like a snake preparing to strike during the entire time Jiraiya was on this mission was the realization that Jiraiya was his moral compass. Tsunade had her own, incomplete, skewed version that erred toward the village always being right, but at least she had something. He, Orochimaru had none. He found that Jiraiya served as a sounding board, a way to let him know if his actions were going too far. And if he didn't have that, well, then he didn't know what he might do.

Orochimaru took a long drink of his beer. "Sooo," he drawled lazily hoping to provoke a reaction out of Jiraiya, "how does it feel to be a cold-blooded killer like the rest of us now?"

Jiraiya gave a half laugh. "There's nothing cold blooded about it."

Orochimaru studied him carefully. "How'd you do it?"

"Kunai. To the throat." He hesitated then added, "I didn't throw it, I stabbed him."

For just a moment, Orochimaru was angry at his friend – how stupid could you be to put yourself in harm's way intentionally? But now was not the time to berate. "Why'd you do that?" he asked simply.

"Dunno. I guess I just wanted to be able to look him in the eye. Is that stupid or what?"

"It's not stupid," Orochimaru lied. Of course it was stupid. It was the stupidest thing he'd ever heard of. It was something he would never do. But he lied because he knew it was what Jiraiya wanted to hear. And part of him treasured the fact that the big dummy had cared enough about his victim's humanity to do that.

"Hey, Orochimaru, do you think…do you ever wonder, if the guys we kill, if they have families? If somebody misses them? If those people think we're the bad guys?"

"Sure, everybody wonders that," once again Orochimaru lied. Although, part of him wished that he really could wonder and worry about these things the way Jiraiya did. He knew he wasn't normal and sometimes he wanted so badly to be nothing but normal.

"I didn't think it would be so hot, his blood. I didn't think there would be so much of it." He looked at his friend and smiled the faintest, saddest smile Orochimaru had ever seen on that big goofy face of his. "There's nothing cold-blooded about it at all. You know that, right?"

And he did want to know that, desperately so. But he couldn't answer because the truth was he'd never felt anything at all when he'd killed anyone. He was cold, dispassionate, a perfect weapon called a shinobi. Orochimaru nodded briefly just to satisfy his friend. Maybe, at least, he could care about Jiraiya. Thoughts of blood then caused Orochimaru to glance at his friend. The other boy's shirt had a red tinge seeping through near his ribs. "You're hurt," the raven-haired boy said matter-of-factly.

"It's nothing," Jiraiya shrugged.

"Still, let me look at it." Orochimaru insisted

Jiraiya hmphed and pulled up his shirt. He inhaled sharply as slender fingers probed gently at the raw edges of the kunai-wound beneath his ribs. "It's a clean cut, not too jagged. Doesn't seem to be any trace of poison. Does Sarutobi-sensei know?" Orochimaru asked.

"No, I-I just told him I had completed the mission and came on back here," was his friend's answer. Orochimaru's fingers were now splayed delicately, further apart on his skin than the actual wound. Jiraiya found it comforting to have his cool touch there, near, but not actually on the torn tissue.

"Did you go to the medical center?" Orochimaru's voice was full of concern. Jiraiya shook his head 'no.'

"Well, you at least ought to let Tsunade look at you, you'll probably have a scar if you don't." Orochimaru thought that if Jiraiya was avoiding both their sensei and the medical ninjas he might at least trust their own teammate.

"Hah," Jiraiya laughed softly. "She'll just scold me for getting hurt in the first place."

"At a minimum, we should clean it properly, so you don't get infected, you moron." Orochimaru rose and walked to Jiraiya's bathroom, loudly cursing the inadequate first aid supplies he found in the cabinet.

After finishing his ministrations and re-shelving the supplies he came and knelt down by his friend's side. "You want me to go get Tsunade?"

"No." Jiraiya sighed, leaned back against the couch and closed his eyes. "Thanks."

"Okay." He returned to his end of the couch to finish his beer. He sat in his corner, watching his friend drift off to sleep.

"Orochimaru?"

"Yeah?"

"Would you stay?"

"Yeah...Sure."

A/N: Well, if it's not apparent by now, let me clarify for you all that I love (love, love, love) Jiraiya, at any age, in any time period, any time, any place. And I'm really not very fond of Sarutobi. In my mind he's not the kindly old grandfather figure most people picture. And I just now realize that I've written two fics (Conversation with Killers and Never Enough Sake) that give 2 of the three teenage sannin a reason for hating Sarutobi. Hmmmm...wonder if I can ever come up with an idea for one between Sarutobi-sensei and Jiraiya?