Fleeting Life

Note: More friendship than anything else, slight shonen-ai.

One-shot: Orochimaru and Jiraiya, a look at their time together before Orochimaru leaves Konoha. From Orochimaru's PoV, his thoughts on life, love, and death.

I am sitting by the window sill, inhaling the night air, the scroll in my lap is decoration. An excuse to have time to think by myself.

A slight noise from outside the window catches my attention. I take a glimpse at the movement and recognize the shock of white hair in the darkness. He thinks he is being so subtle, hasn't he learned by now how aware I am of my surroundings?

Slipping a book into my left hand, I move it towards the window. When I see the glimmer of movement directly underneath the window I let the book fall out of my hand. I hear a satisfying thunk followed by a string of colorful explicatives. A smile tugs at the corner of my mouth.

"Jiraiya, I did not know you were in the habit of strolling anywhere near the library. I would have assumed the bathhouse would have better suited your interests." Leaning out the window I impassively survey the damage. "I seemed to have accidentally dropped a book, could you hand it to me?"

Jiraiya is rubbing his head, undoubtedly where the book landed. "You ass, you did that on purpose!"

I do not contradict his accusation. Instead, I hold out my hand. "Books do not do well in the humid night air, give it to me."

"Well, you shouldn't have dropped the damn thing. Take better care of it if it is so precious." Still grumbling, Jiraiya retrieves the book and holds it out towards me.

Smirking, I reach out for the book. "And you are the proper person to tell me about how valuable books are? The only ones you would even glance at have pictures of-" To my dismay, Jiraiya reaches out with his other hand and pulls me out the window. If he didn't have the advantage of gravity I would not have fallen for such a simple action.

We end up in an undignified heap on the ground with the moist grass soaking through my clothing. A part of my mind notes that grass stains are a pain to get out while the other part notices his proximity. Deftly plucking the book from Jiraiya's hand I untangle myself and lay back upon the grass.

We are in the field behind the library, under the distant luminosity of the stars. I envy the glittering light, wondering what it must be like to be a constant. It must be comfortable to never have to worry about existing. All is quiet except for the cricket chirping in the grass beside us.

But Jiraiya is never silent for long. "You are going to turn into one of those dusty old scrolls yourself if you spend all your time around them."

By his logic he would turn into a pair of breasts with the amount of time he spends researching them. Sometimes his simplicity is alluring, the lack of depth making it such a simple matter to forego thought.

But I am never one to let my mind slide so easily. "Humans are such a fragile existence; I've discarded of enough lives to know how quickly a life can be extinguished."

Jiraiya looks over at me with his wide eyes, such innocence. "That's why we have to protect the people of Konoha. Manly men like myself can lead the way. You can be my sidekick since you are too girly to be a hero." He grins, I know he makes such jokes because my seriousness makes him uneasy.

I do not understand how he could still hold such youth after seeing so much death and decay. Despite his appearance, I know the scars his body holds. Nothing in this world is forever. With enough damage even his seemingly agelessness would be meaningless. Previous missions have shown me how close to the brink of death injuries could bring him. How close to dying even I can become.

I could give him love, all the love in the world.I could never voice such thoughts. But even these feelings of mine will not keep him alive. Even if I feel my love will last evermore, in actuality it could not, it would only go on for as long as both of us live.

I brush my fingers across his cheek, an act of sweeping stray hairs off his face. Warm, but such heat would not last forever. With time his life will end, a cold corpse, and eventually that will fade into nothingness as well. To feel anything for anyone else would only mean feeling their loss later on. I could not afford to let such a thing happen, feelings are just a sign of human weakness. Humans who could not even live long enough to make their dreams and desire true. I do not want any part of that.

"What are you looking at?" Jiraiya looked at me questioningly.

I realize that I have been staring at his skin. Skin so easy to break and bleed. I look away and pretend the book has occupied all of my attention. The night sky reflects on the words 'metempsychosis'. The breath catches in my throat. Although the body may not last, the mind surely can with the right knowledge. I murmur to myself, "It would be nice to live forever."

Jiraiya's hearing is sharp (training as a shinobi has benefited his awareness, but I would never tell him that) and he considers the notion. "And you call me silly? Why think about the impossible. Think of all the babes we could see this lifetime! We are going to grow old and marry some really hot chicks. Or, at least I will, I haven't seen you so much as go on a date." I elbow him in the ribs because it is the customary response to such words.

Always living in the present, Jiraiya does not understand. In a way, I admire such thoughtlessness. But I resent him as well, I am the one left to think about his life, never being able to tell him of all that eats away at my mind.

I begin my experiments in the spring of my seventeenth year. As new knowledge can be obtained to destroy life, is it not possible to come out with new ways to prolong it? All these years perfecting methods to discard of enemy shinobi, why have I not thought of putting their bodies to use earlier?

Soon the dead bodies are not enough, I need live subjects to continue my research. I have already started, I can not stop, I know every cut, every slice of flesh, brings me a little closer to my goal.

Others have not been willing to work past the world's imposed mortality. I will have to be the one to do so. I am not content to live a normal lifespan. Measuring a person's worth in such a brief duration of time is ludicrous. With enough time I can obtain true greatness…and love really will be everlasting.

Aren't sacrifices always necessary for progress? People should be proud to be part of my research. They would die anyway. What are a few less years for them when it could mean immortality for everyone? Sentimental feelings for the departed are a waste of time, they are a distraction and of no benefit to the dead because they know no more. I can concern myself with feeling for living people when I know that I will have all the time in the world to be with them.

Alas, the village does not feel the same way. I have grown tired of working in secret, and so I become careless. Perhaps I wanted them to catch me, perhaps I no longer want the proximity of those I know. Of those I can never talk to.

Sarutobi was the first to happen upon my research. In a way I am glad he is the first to see me take the steps towards immortality. His reaction just confirms the weakness of the human heart, he makes no move to attack as I make my escape from Konoha.

When I am outside the village I hear someone following. I recognize the heavy footsteps, sloppy in their haste. He will continue following until I do something about it. I pause in my flight and turn to gaze at Jiraiya.

In return, he looks at me in shock. "How could you use people? How could you do those experiments on anyone…on people from our own village?!" His eyes are pleading, as if he feverishly hoped that someone else had committed my crimes.

If I told him I did no such thing he would believe me. For a second I consider the thought of returning with him. But he cannot comprehend the progress I've made. Clearly he does not want to hear about the steps I've taken towards obtaining it all. I have to leave him behind. What hope could I have for an entire village when they cannot understand my purpose? I just have to think of Jiraiya as another one of those irrational people unable to see, it will make this departure easier.

"Come back, they will forgive you. You always placed the welfare for the village first, you have done so much good for the village." Ever the optimist, too blinded by hope to see the truth.

I scoff at him. "We both know the villagers would be all too glad to be rid of me. Even though my existence has benefited the village they still fear me."

He knows words will not get him any further, so he thinks he could bring me back forcefully. His attacks are shoddy, a reminder of how emotions can cloud judgment. Why does he think he could ever defeat me? Some of the jutsu he uses I have taught him myself. Eventually, drained from the blood loss and depleted charka, he collapses to the forest floor. Still, he tries to regain his footing, it would be a simple matter to be rid of him. Then I would never have to think about him again. But a moment of weakness, the very human weakness I so despise, prevents me from doing so.

Instead, I lean forward and brush my lips against his mouth. I taste the blood and dust, the bitter flavor is fitting for the occasion. Before he can say anymore I leave. Further words may sway me, and I cannot let that occur. Emotions do not benefit my research in any way.

End Note: First fanfic I've written in months, please tell me your thoughts and thank you for reading.