Hey, it's me again. This isn't a new story, so much as an idea that's been floating around my head, and I decided to get your opinions on it. The chapter itself is a very, very rough draft, for a fairly vague idea. To be honest, I was kind of hoping that by writing this all down, it would give me an idea for my other story, as I'm stuck about two thousand words into chapter 11.
This is basically a what if story.
So a quick warning, it starts out pretty vague for awhile, but you'll understand why later on.
Sarutobi ran through the sewers in his battle armor, a pair of ANBU at his back. Effortlessly dodging booby traps as he ran, Sarutobi turned his thoughts to what he was seeking.
Over the last few weeks, a number of people, from Gennin to Chuunin, even some Jounin and ANBU had been disappearing one by one. The only connection between the victims that could be found was that quite a few of them had last been seen around one man.
The identity of this man was what concerned Sarutobi the most. 'I can't believe it… not him, not my own student… I know he hasn't been himself lately…but surely he couldn't have fallen so far?'
Seeing a door approaching, Sarutobi snapped himself out of his thoughts and crouched to the side of the door while a Taka masked ANBU stood at the ready on the other side.
Seeing the ANBU nod as a signal to his and the other ANBU's readiness, Sarutobi took a breath and with a last prayer, gave the signal for the Taka masked ANBU to proceed.
'Please…let us be wrong about this.' the old Hokage thought as Taka threw himself through the door. Less than a second after he was through, the second ANBU dashed in behind him.
Following them, Sarutobi was shocked to see the corpses strewn across the room, hanging from the walls, even a live one lying strapped on a table in the center of the room. What crushed him however was the sight of his own student standing over him, seemingly ignoring the sounds of pain coming from the weakened and no doubt dying test subject.
"What are you doing! How could you do something like this!" Sarutobi shouted in disgusted disbelief.
"Oh damn…looks like you've finally found me, eh? I was wondering who it was…considering all the booby traps that I laid… I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that it was you…Sarutobi-sensei." His student chuckled.
"Why…?" Sarutobi trailed off.
"Recently," Taka began, "a number of shinobi ranging from Gennin to even Jounin and ANBU have gone missing…but to think that you of all people would be responsible…you're one of the Sannin, what could you possibly be thinking?"
"Hehehe…should I kill you as well?" the Sannin asked with a twisted grin.
Sarutobi couldn't help but flinch as he looked at his student, a man he had thought of as a son. Making some hand seals, he slammed his hand onto the ground. "Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" An eight foot monkey appeared in a puff of smoke. He was Sarutobi's personal summons, Enma the Monkey King.
"Sarutobi, what's going on?" Enma asked as he looked around the chamber in disgust. When Sarutobi didn't answer, Enma snorted and turned his attention to the Sannin standing before them. "So you're behind this then? Somehow I'm not really surprised." Enma looked over his shoulder at him. "I hope you're prepared to end this Sarutobi."
Sarutobi remained silent, even as his former student went through a series of handseals and unleashed his jutsu against them. When the technique died down, both ANBU as well as Enma lay on the floor.
Grunting slightly, Sarutobi straightened and glanced over his shoulder.
His student stood with his back to Sarutobi, just inside the doorway.
"What are you doing, Sarutobi!" Enma cried out as he tried to pull his battered form to his feet. "Finish him! Don't let him escape!"
Sarutobi watched as his student slowly turned he head to look back at him. No words passed between them and a moment later, the Sannin dashed out of the room and back into the sewers.
"Why?" Enma growled just before he disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving Sarutobi alone with the dead that filled the room.
Sarutobi had never felt so old as he looked around the room at the dead before lowering his gaze to the two ANBU he had brought with him. Another two loyal shinobi lost to his student. "I'm sorry…I'm so sorry." he did nothing to stop the tears from falling as he stood in the room, even as the stench of rot and decay threatened to overwhelm him.
He knew he could not stay long, as he needed to return to the surface and inform the village that one of their greatest had just betrayed them, and so soon after they lost their Yondaime to the Kyuubi. But for now, he allowed him self to just be a man, weeping for the pointless deaths of those around him. Weeping for the student he considered a son, and for his own failures as a leader and a teacher.
Several hours had passed since one of Konoha's two remaining Sannin (Tsunade having left several years earlier) had fled the village. In that time, the other remaining Sannin had returned from his latest batch of missions and gone out in pursuit of his renegade teammate.
No, they were more than mere teammates. They were like siblings, all the Sannin were, ever since they were Genin. When Tsunade's parents had died, Orochimaru and Jiraiya had both been there for her, as Jiraiya and Tsunade had been there for Orochimaru when his own parents had died.
The three of them had fought side by side through two Great Shinobi Wars, and had faced and earned the respect of Salamander Hanzo himself.
Through all the bloodshed and loss, they had been together, and while they had drifted apart in recent years, those bonds still remained, he was sure of it.
He would not allow the man who was like a brother to him fall into madness, he wouldn't. 'But he already has…' a voice whispered in the back of his mind. 'You've seen the reports… talked to Sarutobi-sensei… he's already lost…and you know it…'
The Sannin shook his head, throwing his long hair side to side as he did so. 'I don't believe that! He can still be saved, I know he can!' he thought furiously. 'After all, look how close I came to falling, yet I was saved before it was too late. And he's always been a better man than me.'
He continued to wrestle with his thoughts as he tracked his brother. The tracks were growing fresher by the second, which was a good thing since the weather looked like it was about to take a turn for the worse.
A moment later, he caught sight of his teammate, waiting for him with a cruel smirk.
As he came to a stop on a large tree branch, he silently lamented, 'I wish Minato-kun was still alive.'
For a moment they just stared at each other silently. As the wind picked up, both their long hairs blew chaotically around them.
"Why are you doing this?" he asked quietly, trying to keep the tinge of desperation out of his voice.
His brother just grinned wickedly at him. 'Was his grin always so cruel, so twisted?'
"Answer me!" he shouted angrily.
"Hehehe…still such a fool, like always, I see." his fellow Sannin chuckled.
"Please." he begged, "Please, come back to the village. It's not too late-"
He couldn't stop the flinch at hearing such a cold voice coming from the man he respected the most.
"That village is of no use to me. It's taken everything from me."
He tried again to reason with him, but his former teammate hurled a kunai at him.
Blocking it with his own kunai, the two former teammates leapt at each other.
As the two battled amidst the pouring rain and raging wind, all he could think was 'I have to bring him back…I have to save him.'
Yet in the end, he'd fail and be forced to return to Konoha and deliver the news to the Hokage.
Sarutobi sighed tiredly as he looked up at his now sole remaining student. He had returned from the pursuit of his wayward teammate just moments ago and had mechanically given his report.
The man looked defeated in every sense of the word, back slouching, his shoulder length hair plastered to his face and neck by mud and water.
"I'm sorry." his remaining student said softly as he stared at the floor, unable to look his sensei in the eye.
Sarutobi bowed his own head in shame. "You have nothing to be sorry for. I'm the one who let him go. If I had just stopped him then, if I hadn't hesitated…" he left the sentence unfinished.
A minute of silence passed between sensei and student before Sarutobi began again. "I'm sorry, but I need you to track down Tsunade. She must be warned of what has happened."
The Sannin looked up and wearily said, "Hai, Sarutobi-sensei." before turning and heading for the door.
"Orochimaru." Sarutobi called, bringing his student to a halt. "Look at me."
Orochimaru slowly turned his head and looked back at him. Sarutobi sought out Orochimaru's yellow eyes with his own dark ones. "I don't want you blaming yourself over this. You did everything you could to save Jiraiya. No one could have predicted that he would fall into madness so quickly."
"I could have." the Snake Sannin said as he turned back around to fully face his teacher. "I was falling into the same darkness just months ago. If it wasn't for Minato-kun…" Orochimaru trailed off in shame.
Sarutobi winced at that. Shortly after Minato had given his life to seal the Kyuubi and save the village, Orochimaru had come to him. Sarutobi had listened to his weeping student as he confessed to the dark thoughts and plans that he had been harboring ever since Sarutobi had chosen Minato over him as the Yondaime.
It had been watching Minato fight and then sacrifice his life for the village that had brought about a change of heart in Orochimaru. When he had seen Minato risking his life to protect the village, he had scoffed. What fool would lay down his life for those fools who would deny him his dream of becoming Hokage? And in that moment, he had understood. A Hokage would. Orochimaru came to realize that Minato hadn't stolen his dream from him, but that he himself had done it, with his increasingly callous remarks and activities.
Orochimaru had requested a meeting with Sarutobi immediately after he retook the title of Hokage, and he had confessed everything.
In that moment, Sarutobi had truly felt his age, and realized that his blindness to Orochimaru had nearly allowed his student to destroy himself.
He had forgiven him of course, as the village had been seriously weakened by the Kyuubi's attack, and he needed his students to help rebuild Konoha. He had however, taken away Orochimaru's apprentice and ordered the man to attend a regime of therapy sessions to help ensure his stability.
Of course, Anko thought that her teacher was simply going to be too busy with missions while Konoha rebuilt its forces, which was true enough.
And while all this had happened, he had somehow missed the signs as his other student had slipped away into madness.
Returning to his seat, Sarutobi looked up to his student. "Try to get some rest before you go after Tsunade. I'll let Anko know where you're going."
Orochimaru nodded, and left, leaving Sarutobi to his thoughts. He would end up thinking about Jiraiya all night and well into the morning, wondering what he could have done differently to save his student.
Little did he know, Orochimaru would be doing the same thing.
Well, there it is. It's not much, I know. The basic idea is, what if Orochimaru and Jiraiya somehow switched when it came to betraying the village. Since whenever Orochimaru stays in the village, the other Sannin usually do as well, I decided why not just switch them? Obviously, the idea needs a lot of work before I actually start seriously posting it, if I even do.
So what are your thoughts? Should I bother working on it or just let it go? Are you intrigued, or do want form a mob and hunt me down?