"Tell me again why I have to wear the sequins?"
Tsunade let out a long sigh as she listened to her teammate complain through her ear piece. "Because I hate tights."
Jiraiya whined again and Tsunade resisted the urge to yell at him. They were fourteen years old! You don't whine when you're that old!
He decided to try another tactic. "You'd look hot in them," Jiraiya responded, the leer on his face almost visible in the tone of his voices. It made Tsunade decide there were worse things then whining.
"Can't you ever think of something else?" came the exasperated tone of their final cell mate.
If Orochimaru was trying to be the voice of reason on this mission, Tsunade knew they were in trouble. No way! They were going to finish this C-rank themselves, no matter what!
"Sarutobi-sensei trusted us with this mission alone. This is our big chance to show him we can handle ourselves. So DON'T screw this up," she barked, aiming most of her venom at her white-haired cell mate.
"Music just started," Orochimaru noted.
"Everyone in position?" she asked.
"Only for the last twenty minutes," he responded dully. She bit back a retort.
"Jiraiya?" she asked. A few seconds of silence later, she felt her eyebrow start to twitch. "JIRAIYA!"
"Sorry, these tights keep climbing up my…"
"Lights are up."
Tsunade closed her eyes and prayed to anything she could think of her that her teammates would be able to handle this. She quickly adjusted the whip on her belt and brought the rim of the fedora close down to her eyes. The khaki jumpsuit settled into place as she walked towards one of the stage crew. He motioned her quickly and she walked through the opening.
The crowd roared and the lights showered the entire area in a blinding whiteness. She took a second to gather herself and then she lifted an arm to wave while the other pulled the two leashed behind her. When the crowd got a glimpse of the white tigers that followed her they went nuts.
She led the tigers around the main ring with a smile, quickly taking surveying the area as she did. She saw Jiraiya, red sequins reflecting the spotlight as he stood a top the trapeze stand. When he caught her eye, he blew a kiss in her direction. She rewarded him with a glare that would freeze Hell itself.
Orochimaru came up next, looking rather bored as he juggled several swords in the air. He stepped forward, big red shoe squeaking as he did. He glanced over at her as she passed, his face almost identical to the glower she had thrown Jiraiya. She smiled innocently at him.
After all, he was the one who insisted on being pale white to begin with. It made turning him into a clown all the easier. She just needed to add some blue eye shadow, put a rainbow wig on him, and add a red nose, stupid clothes and big red shoes.
Okay, okay, maybe she and Jiraiya had just wanted to see Mr. I-am-better-then-you look like an idiot.
"No one at home hears about this… ever," he hissed.
"No one at home ever has to know about this mission," she replied. "So long as we can find our guy and get the scroll."
"I see him!" Jiraiya chirped. Tsunade saw him pointing towards the stands.
"Me too," she replied. "Oro-kun?"
"Don't call me that," he replied. "I'll start making my way."
He caught the swords and made a little bow to the crowd. He laced them in the ridiculously colorful sash around his waist and began to ascend the stair case.
"SMILE, you're a clown!" Tsunade barked at him.
His back arched as her voice shattered his eardrum. Taking in a deep breath, he turned to his right and saw a small child staring at him curiously. He rolled his eyes and then with a deranged sneer curled his lips up and attempted to smile.
The child erupted into tears. "I SAID SMILE," Tsunade screamed. "Not make them think you're going to eat them."
Orochimaru paused and examined the small sniveling child for a second. Nah… he was too scrawny.
"What do you think you're doing?" a middle aged woman next to the child squawked. Most likely the mother, he realized.
He pulled out a deflated balloon, took one large breath and filled it completely. A few quick hand movements and he tied the end shut. Then he handed it to the kid.
"What the hell is that?" The mother demanded.
"A snake," Orochimaru hissed, anger in his eyes enough for her to keep silent. The child on the other hand was enthralled. He made a note to remember that children liked snakes.
"Dance up the steps," Tsunade commanded, though he could distinctly hear the amusement in his voice.
He obliged rather then risk losing any more hearing. It was quite easy in the end to dance up the stairs to repeated refrain of 'I hate my life'.
"You're almost there," Jiraiya stated, as if he couldn't very well see the man in front of him. Two steps from reaching the target and something grabbed his arm
If that is a child, he thought to himself, I am going to cut off its arm. But instead, a rather burly man was holding him in place. It would have been a trivial matter if it weren't for the fact that the other man was sporting the forehead protect of a Village of the Mist ninja.
"Enemy nin!" Jiraiya called out.
"IDIOT I CAN TELL," Orochimaru yelled.
He blinked and hung his head. Yes, it was a bad time to lose one's temper but considering who his teammates were it was a wonder why it hadn't happened sooner. At least three men sitting around the target stood up simultaneously. He wondered if Jiraiya would point out their appearance.
"You've got three more nin in the seats," Tsunade relayed.
He was going to go bald from pulling his hair out. Or die young from an ulcer. Somehow, those two were going to put him in an early grave.
The enemy nin in front of him laughed and flicked his nose.
Or… he could take out his aggression on these idiots instead.
"Play it cool and back off, we'll find another…"
She trailed off as she watched Orochimaru pulled the swords from his belt and start attacking.
Well so much for that plan.
She quickly let go the tiger's leashes and started making a bee line for the crowd. She couldn't see her teammate in the melee that had erupted in the stands and it was obvious he wasn't going to respond to her instructions through their communicators.
"Pardon me," she said, leaping up to the rows of seats. She was standing on the audience's shoulders as she quickly ran up towards Orochimaru. Just as she was about to jump into the fight, her eyes locked onto his and he tossed the scroll at her.
There was a brief pause as it arced in the air and then she juggled it in her hands before getting a firm grip. By that time, the enemy nin realized what happened. She flipped back, landing back on the main floor just as three enemies leapt from the crowd and surrounded her.
They attacked simultaneously, having obviously not been schooled in the art of being a real henchman. She ducked the first punch and kicked out the guy's knee. The second one took the chance a brought his leg down on her shoulder, the shock forcing her to release the scroll.
"I'll get it!"
Tsunade didn't see any reason to argue with Jiraiya. She was a bit too busy fending off three enemies. There was a whoosh of air and Jiraiya swooped by, long chakra wire attaching him to the trapeze from above.
He landed on the ground with a roll, scooping up the scroll as he passed.
"Got it!" he called out.
He turned over his shoulder to shoot a winning smile at Tsunade and failed to realize he was running in the path of the knife thrower.
There was a whoosh and a clump of white hair dropped from his head. He came to a halt and stared at the ground.
"My… my… hair," he whimpered.
"Look out!" he heard two simultaneous voices call out.
A dozen knives were flying towards him. He backpedaled as best he could but he felt the projectiles tear into the costume he was wearing. He must have closed his eyes because when he opened them again, he was pinned to the large wooden circle at the other end of the ring.
Looking down, he realized he was also pinned against a rather buxom young girl. "Hey baby," he said with a wink. "Come here often?"
Tsunade had just managed to get away from her attackers when she heard a furious scream. She watched as Jiraiya released the scroll, huge red hand mark on his face. A young girl wiggled out from under him and gave him a kick in the ass before she bounded off.
Tsunade was headed towards the scroll when she saw her third teammate attempting to make his way there as well. Though in big red shoes it was proving more difficult then he had thought.
He fell flat on his face, hand just millimeters from the scroll. Something on him squeaked as a Mist Nin stepped on his back and took the scroll for himself. The enemy scanned the area and saw the blonde girl running towards him. He turned and pushed a nearby clown off his unicycle and started to pedal away.
Tsunade wanted to scream in frustration. She found her own clown to abuse and quickly stole his ride, taking off the nin on her tricycle. She peddled furiously after him, following him once around the ring before watching as he flew backwards, over her head and into the stands.
Orochimaru put down his foot, trying to appear gallant even as it squeaked. He stared at Tsunade as she struggled to get out of the tiny cycle.
These couldn't really be his teammates. No one would be stuck with people this idiotic. People who didn't realize they should just RUN after someone on a unicycle.
"He's climbing up!"
They looked up at Jiraiya's call. He had freed himself from the knives and was running towards one of the ladders in pursuit. Tsunade took off to the right and let Orochimaru take the left flank.
The three young ninja scrambled up the ladders while the Mist nin took the fourth. Tsunade and Orochimaru suddenly found themselves at the top of their climbs, a thin rope the only thing connecting the two pillars they were standing on.
"It's all up to the main man," Jiraiya sang into his head set as he continued to climb. The Mist nin was a bit slower then he was so Jiraiya reached his platform first and grabbed one of the trapeze swings.
The enemy stopped at the top of his climb and appeared rather confused that he had no where to go. Suddenly he heard a battle cry and watched with wide eyes as a glittering blur of red and white hurtled towards him.
Jiraiya was in his glory. The wind whipped at his hair, the light caught his sequins perfectly and the tights left nothing to the imagination. He was going to save the day and look damn heroic doing it.
The trapeze got to the half way point and started to swing back.
"You did explain to him how a trapeze works, didn't you?" Orochimaru asked.
Tsunade sighed as she watched Jiraiya balk and struggle to stop himself from swinging back towards the platform.
"I didn't think I'd have to," she sighed.
The enemy saw his chance and grabbed his trapeze just as Jiraiya started to come back towards him.
"Incoming," Orochimaru noted.
"Jiraiya, get him to drop the scroll!" Tsunade yelled, suddenly taking off on the wire. Even with chakra on her feet it was hard to maintain balance. "Orochimaru get out here and help me!"
"I can't. The shoes make it too difficult."
"Then take them OFF!"
"And ruin my perfect clown impression?"
Tsunade paused long enough to stare at him with a face somewhere between pure terror and utter confusion.
"We really need to get him into therapy," Jiraiya remarked.
"I can hear you," Orochimaru hissed. "And I can see you're about to be stabbed."
Jiraiya yelped and there was a clang of metal as he deflected the kunai that was swung at him.
"Get him to drop the scroll!"
"You're going to get stabbed this time."
"YOU ARE NOT HELPING," Tsunade shrieked.
Jiraiya swung his legs and pushed the swing forward. The enemy nin across from him smiled evilly. Jiraiya returned the favor before he sent two kunai at either rope of the swing.
Tsunade saw that Jiraiya had done his job. The scroll was plummeting at her. Unfortunately, so was the enemy. She reached up and grabbed the scroll, chakra on her feet straining as she tried not to fall off. But when she tried to get out of the way of enemy nin, he was falling too fast for her.
The two of them fell towards the ground and landed on the safety net. Tsunade bounced up once before landing on her feet and preparing to fight. The other nin took three steps before the net suddenly collapsed below them. Tsunade only heard the growl as her two tigers attacked the enemy by clawing the net down to them.
"The others are heading right towards you!" Jiraiya said loudly.
Tsunade struggled to free herself of the shredded net, all the while hoping the tigers didn't see her. She made a break for it as soon as she could, running towards the center of the ring.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the three nin she had fought previously in quick pursuit after her.
"Run up the main pole!"
"What?" Tsunade cried, glancing up to where Jiraiya was.
"Just trust me!"
With no other options, Tsunade jumped and planted one foot on the big tent's main pole. The chakra on her feet kept her vertical as she ran up, three enemies closing the gap between them.
"The rest of this plan would be good right about now," she cried.
"Wait for it," Jiraiya replied. She glanced over and watched as he fiddled with his trapeze.
He jumped off his platform and the modified trapeze flew towards the center of the tent.
"Jump!" he yelled.
She pushed off the tent with all her might, one hand desperately reaching forward at Jiraiya's advancing form.
It occurred to her then that she had just trusted him to correctly calculate the swing speed and trajectory needed to catch her. So she screamed, though if it was in fear or frustration at dying so young was too hard to tell. Something grabbed her hand and she opened her eyes again, watching as Jiraiya hoisted her up and held her firm to his waist.
"Hey there, pretty lady," he smiled. "You've just been rescued by the great Jiraiya. As a reward, I demand a kis…"
Tsunade and Jiraiya looked down to Orochimaru who quickly redirected their attention to destroyed center pole, Tsunade's foot print visible in the center of the cracking wood.
The pole exploded into splinters and the large red tent fell down on top of them. It took the platforms and the trapeze went slack in Jiraiya's hand. They fell, screaming and clutching at each other as they did. Though Jiraiya was trying to cop one last fell while Tsunade was making sure he was under her to take most of the impact. Orochimaru disappeared under the cloth as well, yelling something at his teammates.
Ten minutes later, the confusion had died down enough for Tsunade to move from her spot on the ground. She sat up and pulled at the fabric before giving up and going at it with a kunai.
"Took you long enough."
Tsunade pushed her hair from her eyes and glared at Orochimaru. He had discarded the clown uniform and was back to normal.
"How…" she started.
"Simple," he replied. "I did not panic and made a plan."
A plan, which would never be known to his teammates as it involved some rather girly screaming and dumb luck that the platform he stood on had slipped through the hole at the top of the tent and thus remained untoppled.
"Oh dear. You've killed him."
Tsunade blinked and glanced down, realizing she was sitting atop a rather dazed Jiraiya. "Jiraiya!" she cried. "Are you okay?"
His lips moved. "What?" They moved again. She leaned her ear close his mouth. "Say it again," she whispered.
"Need… mouth to mouth."
Tsunade flushed red and stood up quickly, stepping on his stomach as she stomped off. She stormed away only coming to a stop when she recognized the familiar person walking towards them.
He surveyed the area before shaking his head. "This was supposed to be a simple mission."
"We got the scroll!" she said, holding it out for him.
"And destroyed a civilian circus," he replied. "The cost to repair it will be more then what we got from the job."
"I think you're still too young to handle these missions by yourself," he sighed. "We'll try again in a few months."
Tsunade wanted to cry. Orochimaru slithered by her and immediately began sucking up to their mentor, lamenting the idiocy of his other students. Jiraiya finally stood up and stumbled over towards her.
"Looks like we messed up," he said, holding her shoulder to steady himself. "You know… I have a great way to make this day a little better."
"So help me Jiraiya, if one perverted thing comes out of…"
Tsunade blinked and eyed him suspiciously, wondering if he was serious. He patted his side, the distinct jingle of coins music to her ears. He nodded and walked by, pinching her ass before running off.
"Hurry up!" he called as he bolted towards his sensei.
Tsunade stood there, flustered and annoyed until her senses came back to her. And then there was one very clear though in her mind.
Jiraiya was going to die.