Everyone always writes fics like this about Team 7. Never about the Sannin. I'm endless curious about the Sannin dynamics since we're shown very little of it in canon, however I'm assuming they must have been a pretty damn close team considering Jiraiya and Tsunade both left the village and threw themselves into their lesser vices out of the misery caused when Orochimaru stabbed them in the back.
So, because of that. And because I thought up the best Orochimaru metaphor. And because they totally would read Come Come Paradise, I present- SANNIN FIC!
Wisdom and Eternity
Jiraiya rememebers that after their first B Class mission, Sarutobi took them out for ice cones and they spent half the night laying in the long, summer grass while Orochimaru attempted to explain the science of astronomy.
"Science?" Jiraiya had laughed, "You're telling me that stars and astology and all that is a science? Orochimaru, that stuff's for girls."
"Careful, Jiraiya." Tsunade growled, "Someone might think you're sexist."
"If you had paid attention in class, perhaps you would have rememebered that the stars have powerful properties that control our moods, personalities and- some argue- even our destinies."
Jiraiya blinked and nodded his head slowly, "Right. Sure."
"And there's a story behind every one of them."
"Yeah right. Every star in the entire sky?"
Orochimaru grinned, "Pick one."
With a sigh, Jiraiya rolled his eyes and pointed directly above him, "Okay, okay- so what's that one?"
"Ahh, the Oroborous." Orochimaru sounded pleased, "It's a serpent which devourers it's own tail. It represents wisdom and eternity all entwined as one."
Jiraiya tipped his head and studied his pale team mate in the moonlight for a moment before rolling over on his side and laughing until his sides hurt.
"What?" Orochimaru demanded, sitting up and glaring at the other boy. Beside him, Tsunade made an exasperated noise in the back of her throat.
"What kind of wisdom is that? It takes a prettty dumb animal to eat it's own tail."
Orochimaru's glare softened into a condescending sort of amusement, "You really are a simple person,Jiraiya."
Jiraiya stopped laughing abruptly and scowled at his team mate, "Yeah well... well... your hair is girly."
"Brilliant comeback, Jiraiya. I think I might cry."
"Well, if it counts for anything," Tsunade muttered, "I think you're both stupid."
Orochimaru never tried to explain astronomy again, but Jiraiya rememebered the story of the Oroborous for the rest of his life, no matter how much he wanted to forget it.
Tsunade talks about her brother in passing, whenever she and Shizune watch children play in the street or if they day is particularily brilliant, the water sparkling and the trees green and vibrant with life.
Tsunade mentions Dan in her moments of passion- when she's drunk, when she's failed healing someone, when's she's furious.
But Tsunade never talks about Jiraiya and Orochimaru.
She dances around them in her speech and in her stories. Always, her comrades are there fighting with her back to back- but never with names or personality. But Shizune can hear the affection, the desperate longing in her teacher's voice. There's pain there and a mystery the young healer cannot resist.
She's heard the stories of course- but then again, who hasn't? Long ago heroes, legends who refuse to die. The healing hands that saved a nation, the sharp wit and kunai that felled a dozen others. Shizune is captivated by her teacher and the amazing things she can do but there is a gap in her persona- something dark and deep and hidden that Shinzune doesn't understand. The part of her molded, forged and broken by the shinobi who were strong enough to stand at her side.
Finally, Shizune asks. So late at night the sun is flooding the horizon and Tsunade is so drunk she might as well be sober.
Shizune takes a deep breath and asks: "Sensei, what were they like? The other Legendary Sannin?"
Tsunade might have had an adverse reaction to this. She might have glared, might have fumed, might have thrown her bottle, but instead she sloshes her warm sake around the bottom of the bottle and stares out the window, "Jiraiya and Orochimaru," she slurs thoughtfully, "Jiraiya and Orochimaru were... well... they were something like my brothers I suppose. And then they were something that... Dan might have been jealous of. But all in all-" and here Tsunade pauses for nearly three full minutes before throwing back her head and laughing bitterly, "All in all, those bastards aren't worth talking about."
Shizune never brings them up again.
"Kidomaru has returned from his latest reconassiance mission to the Leaf, and he wishes to- sir, what are you reading?"
Orochimaru is sitting in his favorite chair with his legs crossed and his chin resting on his knuckles as he slowly turns the pages of what appears to be a brightly colored pulp novel. Kabuto perks one eyebrow and peers at his master over the top of his spectacles, waiting for an explaination.
There is an unreadable expression on Orochimaru's face, one that Kabuto does not recognize. It's not quite content, nor is it unsettled. Kabuto would almost call it nostalgic if he didn't know better.
"Jiraiya wrote this book." he replies finally, his tone distant, distracted. He pauses for a moment, flips another page and chortles under his breath, "Of course he wrote this book. That so very typical of him."
Kabuto blinks once in confusion and decides not to press the issue.
So they stood at the end of it all, each of them bleeding and incomplete, accomplished and failed. All shinobi of the Leaf- leader, deserter and betrayer all in all. But only here can they see the truth- they were never more complete than when together.
"We'll take care of him." and that's the final word on it. Jiraiya and Tsunade both cross their arms and although their students give them curious, nervous glances, Sakura and Naruto know why they have to do this. After all, they still have Sasuke to chase after.
When the children are gone, Jiraiya drops his confident counterance and Tsunade drops her illusion jutsu and all of a sudden, they're no longer the Legendary Sannin of the leaf but just three tired, old war comrades, one of them dying and all of them knowing this is the most important moment of their lives.
"If you're waiting for any heart felt, death bed confessionals," Orochimaru coughs, "I should probably inform you that you're wasting your time."
Tsunade's glare deepens and she crosses her wrinkled arms across her chest, "Snake demons have this irritating habit of regrowing their heads once you cut them off. I just want to make sure you're finally dead." there's fire in her words, but they're empty. All for show.
Even after everything, it's hard to hate him now- skin pale as death, yellow draining from his eyes and his impeccably kept hair tangled with thorns and matted to his face with blood.
"I have no regrets." he hisses, blood on his chin, "Except perhaps that I didn't kill the two of you when I had the chance."
"You're a pathetic man, Orochimaru." Jiraiya says slowly. Quietly.
"And what about you, Jiraiya? What kind of man are you?" he wipes his mouth weakly and attempts to give his old team mate his best evil smirk, "We're all pathetic, really. Mortal beings with mortal flaws. We're nothing but a sum of our parts. Now history will fault me for trying to be something more."
"History won't fault you," Tsunade replies darkly, "It will learn from you."
None of them have anything to say about that. Orochimaru looks distinctly displeased with the statement, but he's wincing again- a wave of pain wracking his broken body. With a heavy sigh, Jiraiya sits beside him in the long grass. After a moment, Tsunade joins them.
"Hey, Orochimaru," and now Jiraiya's trying to smile, "What's the name of that constellation?"
Orochimaru chuckles- a muffled noise, turned bubbly with blood, and his sinister grin fades into something a little more benign. He turns his gaze skywards, takes a deep breath and-
- history repeats itself.