Nine months before, him and his team had been defeated in Amegakure by Hanzo the Salamander.
Nine months ago, he'd stumbled back into Konoha, desperate for any distraction after the horrors and the crushing defeat he'd been forced to endure in Amegakure.
Contrary to the image he himself promoted the fact was that he was, in fact, just as deeply affected by blood, death and misery as any other ninja was. Mental trauma affected him. The screams of the dying stayed with him. The bitter taste of defeat and the... fear of his mortality had grown during the war and refused to let him go.
In an effort to forget, he'd fallen into bed with some civilian woman who had practically thrown herself at him when he had been attempting to drown his troubles in a seedy bad. She had recognized him and as a famous Shinobi and as a student of the Hokage he was never short of willing bed partners. However, unlike his man whore of a teammate, he had never been one to partake of such offers. That night however, he had been hurting, and weak, and had wanted oh so much to do something that would make him feel alive again.
Nine months later, here was the result of his ill thought-out decision.
"Well?" demanded Tsunade, the expression on her face positively overflowing with schadenfreude, as she thrust the squirming bundle in her arms towards him while he kept his own arms tightly crossed. "Aren't you going to hold your daughter?"
Orochimaru made an expression of distaste as he tried to look at the bundle in Tsunade's arms without getting too close, lest she do something foolish like trying to force him to take the squirming child. Jiraiya, however, had no such compunctions about getting close. He shouldered right past Orochimaru like the rude clod he was and peered down at the infant with a look of glee and curiosity on his face.
Jiraiya let out a low appreciative whistle. "Wow, she looks almost exactly like you Oro-kun. Even if it wasn't for the blood test you had Tsunade run a dozen times you'd never get anyone to believe this wasn't your kid."
Yes, he'd had Tsunade run the blood test a dozen times. After he had run the blood test a dozen times himself. It was far more irrational than he'd ever give himself credit for, but he had not been able to let go of the shred of hope that somehow there was some mistake. Enemy sabotage. Contaminated samples. Something that would explain why the paternity test kept coming back the way it wasn't supposed to again and again and again.
"Not that it really matters," said Tsunade just a tad viciously. "We'll never see her slut of a mother again."
That's right. Tsunade had an almost irrational dislike for civilian women. Who knew?
Jiraiya suddenly stilled, shooting his teammates a wary and suspicious look. "What do you mean? What did you two do to her mother?"
It was Orochimaru who answered almost nonchalantly. "I made it clear a single night of poor judgment wasn't going to chain a stranger and an obvious security risk to my... family."
At Jiraiya's continued dubious look Orochimaru made a small exasperated sound and had to make an effort to keep from rolling his eyes.
"I gave her enough money to live the rest of her life comfortably and made it clear she was never to set foot in Konoha ever again," Orochimaru said with a bored and put upon tone.
"I helped," added Tsunade cheerfully.
Yes, that had been quite amusing. The woman had almost wet herself when two of the three Sannin cornered her in a hospital room and explained to her how she was never going to have anything to do with the child she was carrying. Though she looked like she might protest at first in the end she hadn't uttered a single word of complaint. It was for the best really. Civilians had no business being involved in Shinobi matters.
"Right," said Jiraiya a little dubiously before wisely deciding to let the matter drop. Jiraiya turned back to the... child... and stuck one of his fat, brutish fingers right in her face. Or at least that's what it looked like since Orochimaru still couldn't get a good look from this angle. "Though I suppose that means you'll have to find somebody to breastfeed her. You wouldn't happen to be volunteering by any chance, would you Hime?" asked Jiraiya, looking up at Tsunade with a lecherous grin.
Tsunade's eyebrow twitched in irritation – and impending violence if history was any guide – but the bundle in her arms stayed her hand. After shooting Jiraiya a truly scathing glare – a 9 out of 10 in intensity, it was really quite good – she turned to him with irritation clear on her face. "Man up Orochimaru. Are you going to take your damn daughter or not?"
Do I have to? A tiny voice inside him said in a petulant manner he would die before ever voicing out loud.
Resigning himself to his fate he slowly walked up to Tsunade and held out his arms, his face carefully masking any trace of the discomfort he was currently feeling. With a gentless he didn't really associate with the Slug Princess she put the bundle in his arms before shooting Jiraiya another glare that promised violence as soon as they were outside of her precious hospital. Orochimaru tuned out their interaction as he risked a look down at the tiny person that was now in his arms.
She... did look like him. The little bundle in his arms had his coloring to begin with, a pale color that was nearly alabaster and would never tan. She had his straight black hair, already thick on her head even less than half an hour after her birth. She even had the tiny "fang" markings around her eyes, except they were green instead of purple. Last but not least were her eyes. Like his, they were slitted, the eyes of a serpent. Unlike his they were a pale, pale blue color. Almost ghostlike really.
The little bundle in his arms then looked at him and they locked eyes. Her pale blue orbs were bright and curious as they gazed up at him. Somehow it suddenly became harder to breathe. When was the last time he had seen eyes, so similar yet different from his own, staring back at him from another face?
My mother. Back when she had still been alive. How... strange. He hadn't thought about her in years.
"Hey, did you hear me?" said Jiraiya, interrupting his musings.
"What?" snapped Orochimaru irritably, sending a glare in his teammate's direction.
"I said," Jiraiya asked with more patience and gentleness than he tended to give the brute credit for. "What are you going to name her?"
The question caught him flat footed. So much so that he blurted the first thing that came to mind. "I don't know?"
"You don't know?" said Tsunade, her voice rising with incredulity. "You've known a girl was coming for months now. How could you not have thought of a name?"
How indeed? It seemed such a basic thing when you were expecting a child. Think of a name. Truth was however, that for some reason... it had never crossed his mind. At least, not until this moment.
Still, he didn't enjoy looking the fool. He'd better come up with a name fast. The problem was that nothing that seemed fitting was coming to mind. How was he supposed to know what name was suitable for an infant he'd just met? After a few further moments of thought however inspiration struck.
"It wouldn't be unusual to name her after my mother... would it?" Orochimaru asked, almost to himself as his eyes were drawn back to the curious bundle in his arms.
"No," said Tsunade, her voice softening. "It wouldn't be unusual at all."
"Well," said Orochimaru, using one finger to slowly stroke the side of his daughter's face with a feather light touch. "Kiyohime it is then."