_________ POV Narration_________
"So, did Hiruzen send you here, Jiraiya?"
The Blind Assassin sighed as he 'stared' at the man before him.
The Toad Sannin was sheepishly standing in front of his desk, rubbing his neck and spiky long hair with a stupid smile on his face.
"W-well... I actually was the one to ask for a mission leading me to you..." Jiraiya stopped rubbing his neck and started rubbing his palms together, his smile turning a bit strange as he eyed the assassin with great interest.
"Is that so? I'm assuming this is related to our little training session back on Mount Myōboku?" The Blind Assassin sighed as he rested his face on his palm and crossed his legs.
"H-how did you know?" The Sannin blinked a few times as he went back to scratching the back of his neck in nervousness.
"It's the only reason I can think of as to why you would bother contacting me personally, Jiraiya. It wasn't that hard to figure out."
Ken just shook his head as he observed Sannin's mannerisms getting a bit more restrained.
It seemed that Jiraiya was somewhat more of the flustered type when it came to facing off against people with authority. Either that or he was just acting in order to gain sympathy... Which wasn't working, by the way.
Neither Ken nor Tosho seemed to care much for Jiraiya.
Tosho just stared at him with a bored gaze, he didn't know the full details of what had occurred at Mount Myōboku, but he could piece some things together as the conversation went on, so he didn't bother interrupting his master's conversation.
"Well, in that case, I'll get straight to the point..." Jiraiya immediately straightened up, coughing into his clenched fist before crossing his arms in a confident manner.
He pointed at Ken with a smile on his face as he made the following proclamation.
"I want to make a deal with you, God of Bounty Hunters!" The Sannin's smile was radiating with light, and the title he used also made Tosho tilt his head.
'Since when was he known as that? Well... I guess it's fitting, but still...'
Tosho sighed internally as he continued listening to the conversation silently, both participants ignoring him to some extent.
"And what would this deal consist of, Toad Sage?" Ken scowled a bit as he also used a title for the person in front of him, making the conversation seem a lot more diplomatic in nature.
They were making a deal at the end of the day, at least Jiraiya was attempting to make one anyway. Well, whatever he seemed to be lacking in tact, he seemed to make up for in enthusiasm.
"Of course, I want you to become my Senjutsu Teacher, as you are the most qualified human alive for that position!" Jiraiya crossed his arms and laughed in a rather boisterous manner.
Ken visibly sagged into his chair as he released a sigh.
"I hate it when people say their demands first... Start with what you're offering, you have 10 seconds to impress me before I throw you out."
Jiraiya immediately stumbled at the Blind Assassin's words, he gulped a bit and his behaviour immediately became more tame as his confident smile trembled.
"M-my bad... Honestly, I was very much relying on the fact that you are young during this negotiation.
In exchange for your teachings, I am willing to offer you my own guidance and expertise."
Jiraiya quickly got to the point, but also left things ambiguous enough for Ken to ask him for clarification...
"Guidance in what exactly? Are you providing courses on how to peep at bathhouses efficiently? Well, I can't make much use of those since I have no eyes..."
Ken did take that opportunity to mock the Sannin, poking fun at his rather unlawful and creepy behaviour from when they had first met.
"N-nothing related to that... But I do have a wealth of experience that I can use to help you and guide you!"
Ken's face was just emotionless as his 'eyes' bore into him. It was creepy seeing his face for the first time in person in such a hypostasis.
Tosho to the side did the same, confused at what the Sannin was trying to get at.
Jiraiya thankfully still had a few seconds left to clarify his words before Ken chastised him for wasting both their times.
"I-I mean, you are still young, surprisingly so, so there must be things that you still need help with-"
"So it was 'that' type of guidance, huh?..." Ken interrupted the Sannin with a deep scowl on his face.
Jiraiya was about to confirm the Assassin's rhetorical question, but Ken was already a few steps ahead of him.
"Let me make one thing clear...
I built this empire from the ground up, I struck deals with the most powerful nations in the world, destroyed a village, subjugated and defeated Several Kage, plotted against entire nations and even killed a Jinchuriki.
There is nothing that someone like you can teach me, no matter your age."
Ken's scowled deepened more so than ever before.
Tosho this time couldn't help but sigh audibly, he had somewhat feared the conversation would steer in that direction.
It was bound to be the case, not everyone was going to be able to see him the same after finding out his age.
He was impossibly young for what he had accomplished after all, which somewhat made others question his credentials.
But his achievements were both well-documented and frighteningly impressive. There was nothing about Ken that wasn't remarkable...
Well, his love life may have needed some work, but it was not a matter of importance for now. Youth meant that Ken had plenty of time on his powerful and sometimes inhuman hands.
"I-I mean, even though you are incredibly powerful, to the point where it's difficult to believe that you are even human...
You're also clearly smarter than me, you even managed to dismantle the Cloud-Rock-Waterfall-Mist Alliance in a matter of days...
But I'm sure there is something that my experience can account for.
Even if I am not as skilled diplomatically, or even in skill and jutsu, I'm sure there is still something I can do for you..."
Jiraiya's voice certainly sounded honest. He seemed convicted, convinced that he at least had something to offer.
It wasn't like he was looking down on Ken due to his age. No, he knew better than that.
He had seen how the Toads treated Ken, even the ones that were teaching him about Senjutsu seemed to now either fear or respect him.
He couldn't, for the life of him, think that Ken was weak in either mind or body. The control that he exerted over Nature Energy alone was simply impossible for anyone to replicate.
That type of control likely took training and discipline that required years. So Jiriya wasn't about to deny Ken's hard work.
"... Hmmm... You're either desperate or honest and stupid... Perhaps all of the above?"
Jiraiya didn't answer, his mouth simply trembled as he clenched his fists and stared at the ground with a bit of shame.
The Sannin had failed to account for Ken's refusal being as strong as it was. If anything, he should have prepared a more satisfactory reward.
His experience as a Sannin was sure valuable to some, but for someone like Ken, it really didn't seem like much.
He needed to get it into his mind that Ken was already at the level of his teacher, who was the God of Shinobi.
He had failed to prepare properly for the negotiation, so that was why it failed. The worst part was that he had likely blown his chances of getting the best possible Sage training in existence.
"Now, I do have something in mind for you, something I need you to do... If you become my informant within the Leaf, then I would certainly agree to train you."
At the start of the Assassin's words, Jiraiya was very excited. but the rest was more like a bucket of cold water being thrown onto his head. The very notion of spying on his own village made him sick to his stomach.
He immediately became vigilant, the hair on his neck rising as a concerned expression crept onto his face.
"Y-you want me to spy on the Leaf Village for you?!?" Just speaking those words out loud made him feel nauseous, but he could perhaps still salvage things.
First off, Ken having bad intentions for the Leaf was in itself dangerous. Something that the Hokage and Elders needed to be informed of as soon as possible.
And maybe, just maybe, he could become a double agent for Ken and the Leaf, supplying Ken with some information while keeping the Leaf up to speed on all of his moves.
'If I play my cards right, I can help the leaf while also becoming a perfect sage!'
Still, the fact that Ken had thoughts about the leaf still put the Sannin on edge.
Ken alone was likely enough to massacre a good half of the village before anyone even managed to intercept him, let alone stop him.
Then there were the people by his side...
Jiraiya's gaze stealthily landed on the 'First Blade', the tall man who was standing by Ken's side.
He was dressed in a similar fashion to Ken himself, just his mask was different... And the fact that he was carrying a gigantic spiky sword covered in bandages.
'That's from the Swordsmen of the Mist... I guess he really is using them now. The Mizukage seemed adamant about getting them back at some point, I wonder what happened...'
Now that he was in a cautious state, Jiraiya immediately started thinking about any allies that could help the leaf against Ken, who was likely going to prove himself a bigger threat than any other faction currently partaking in the Third Shinobi War.
Thankfully, Ken decided to interrupt his thoughts after taking enough pleasure in his stress.
"Just to clarify, I don't have anything planned for the leaf specifically. I just have some people I care about within it, and I would hate for something to happen to them..."
Jiraiya blinked a few times.
'The hell!?! Why didn't you lead with that?'
Still, he kept his mouth shut. His paranoia was still flaring up, telling him that Ken could still be lying.
'But what would he gain from letting his intentions be known... Then lying to me?!?'
It simply didn't make sense, Ken was a careful individual, and not making sense was simply not his thing from what Jiraiya knew.
So, the Sannin decided to just listen to the Blind Assassin's words carefully.
"Something strange is happening in that village, Danzo seems to have some different plans compared to the Hoakge.
It's bound to escalate into an internal conflict depending on Hiruzen's actions going forward. I need you to be careful."
Jiraiya rubbed his chin a bit, his eyes looking a bit uncertain.
"Danzo, huh... Teacher does sometimes butt heads with him, but do you think an internal conflict is around the corner? Seems a bit strange, they both want what's best for the Leaf from what I know..."
At that point, Jiraiya stopped thinking about Ken in a hostile fashion. If the Assassin had wanted to harm the leaf, he likely could've done it even without his input.
Hell, there weren't that many people alive that could even fight Ken, let win against him.
Still, Jiraiya wasn't sure what to make of Ken's sources, he needed a bit more information if he was to believe the Blind Assassin.
"Danzo had around him, and around all of his underground base, people that all bore a seal on their tongue, the same seal that was present on the people that attacked me when I was rescuing Kushina and Minato."
But Ken didn't need any sources to know what he knew. His senses spread far and wide, he may have been blind, but nothing truly could escape his 'eye'.
In that instant, Jiraiya was petrified, reminding himself of how Ken had saved his top student and the Jinchuriki of the Leaf.
He couldn't help but curse himself inwardly for even thinking that Ken was an enemy. If he wanted to harm the leaf, then he sure wasn't doing a good job of it...
In truth, the Sannin was still a bit unnerved that Ken knew so much about the Leaf's internal affairs.
But for someone like the leader of the Dark Brotherhood, it also felt natural that he knew.
'Yes... I am talking to the Chil-Man who took down the alliance of 4 powerful nations singlehandedly, aren't I?'
"... Very well. In that case, I agree to keep an eye on Danzo for you, but I won't be divulging any internal secrets of the Leaf." Jiraiya nodded to Ken, taking the deal with a serious expression on his face.
"Good..." The Blind Assassin nodded with a wide smile on his face, before continuing. " Senjutsu Classes start tomorrow at 10. Go sleep in the woods or something."
Jiraiya nodded at first, before blinking a few times as his head snapped towards Ken.
"C-classes? You mean there are more students?"
Ken's wide smile lessened a bit as he chuckled and answered with an amused tone.
"Obviously, I'll be teaching some children that are picked from the Dark Brotherhood.
If you want to sleep within the compound then you need to get rid of your headband by the way, otherwise, you're sleeping in the woods..."
Jiraiya seemed to be wanting to talk more, but The First Blade, Tosho, stepped out in front of him.
"Leader has had a long day... I'll take it upon myself to escort you out."
The Sannin seemed a bit taken aback by the First Blade's interruption, but he didn't feel insulted or anything.
He merely looked back at Ken, thanking him for his time, and followed behind Tosho.
'... What a strange man...' Ken couldn't help but sigh as he remained alone in his office.
'I guess I should look into picking the children best suited for Senjutsu classes tomorrow.
Short notice maybe, but all of them are prepared for training and learning new things at all times, so it should be good.'
Ken cracked his neck before searching his desk for a parchment paper and dipped his pen into some ink.
He didn't need a list of the children and their abilities or progress, he already knew them all by heart, better than anybody else.
'Let's see... We'll start with just 10 for now. I hope they will enjoy the learning experience at least...'
Hope you liked the chapter!
It was really fun writing this chapter, tho I have been kinda struggling with inspiration lately.
All is well tho, just regular old tiredness. I have a week off work next week, so I'll get to take a break and have some more free time.
Story Shoutout: The Final Desperation
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