Triumvirate

Characters/Pairing: Jiraiya, Tsunade, Orochimaru

Rating: PG
Words: 1686

Summary: There were once two boys and girls, a brat, a spoiled princess, and a control freak. This is their tragedy. 'They were comrades, never friends, never lovers, but they would gladly die for each other.'

The first important rule every shinobi learns is that you don't let your comrades die.

There was once a boy with hair as white as fresh-fallen snow and bright sky-blue eyes. He had red, tattooed tear streaks on his face, a mark of a clan that had been forgotten by time. His name was Jiraiya.

Jiraiya had never been a great advocate for rules. He was a mischievous child, loud and rude, but he knew the virtues of silence and the ways to manipulate noise. He liked the pleasures of the flesh far too much; choosing to spend his time spying on women bathing instead of training like the rules said he should. He was a noisy, rebellious brat who gave his teacher a headache, and who was the best assassin and infiltrator Konoha ever had.

He had cared for two people, once. They were his comrades, but not his friends, for you couldn't trust a friend with your back because there would be unnecessary emotional baggage, troublesome things like pride and love, involved, and no shinobi needed any more emotional baggage. Jiraiya knew that, and made a promise to never, ever love them for he knew, deep in his not-child heart, that he would lose them someday.

Jiraiya cared for, not loved, never loved, them nonetheless. His mind knew perfectly well that he shouldn't, but his heart rebelled, even though he couldn't stand his teammates for more than three hours at a time. His mind knew that he shouldn't, for this kind of this was considered attachments, and ninjas shouldn't have attachments, really, for most of them die in battle, right in front of the-ones-they-love's eyes.

Jiraiya was a stupid, loud brat who cared far, far too much.

--

The second rule is that anyone who lets a comrade die is worse than trash.

There was once a girl with golden hair that shone like sunlight on mirrors and large sapphire-blue eyes. She wore a necklace of her grandfather's, the crystal gleaming almost as brightly as her eyes. She never had a last name, for her grandfather had forsaken his a long time ago. Her name was Tsunade.

Tsunade didn't like rules all that much, but she respected them, for they were rules set down by her beloved grandfather. She thought most of them stupid, but had never voiced that thought, as she thought that love was lavishing praise and compliments, and never, ever voicing one's faults. She was naïve, the pampered granddaughter of the First Hokage, rude and full of fire when the other girls of her age swooned over boys and talked in soft, genteel tones. She was a clumsy, spoiled child who made her teacher want to smack her, and who was the best medi-nin that Konoha had ever seen.

She had loved four people, once, with all her heart and emotions that a shinobi wasn't supposed to have. Two of them were her teammates, one with too-pale skin and dark hair and the other with dark skin and too-pale hair. She loved them as friends, for she never knew that she shouldn't love them as anything else, shouldn't love them as something more. She trusted them more than she trusted her brother and lover, as Tsunade knew, deep in her heart, that her teammates would not die and leave her alone like her brother and lover did.

But she was afraid, scared that she would lose them too if she cared for them any longer. And so she made a stupid, stupid decision, and decided to leave them before they could leave her. She packed her bags and walked out of the village doors with her apprentice in tow, never daring to look back for she knew her two teammates were behind, and she was leaving them, betraying them.

Tsunade was a spoiled, pampered princess who ran away when she could not heal the wounds in her own heart.

--

The third rule is that if a comrade betrays you, kill him.

There was once a boy with long hair as dark as a raven's wing and slanted, golden eyes that make one think of moonlight reflected from the water. He had dark red markings lining his eyes, narrowing down to his nose like a trail of never-ending blood-tears. He gave up his last name, for his clan was a fallen one, and he was the sole remaining member. His name was Orochimaru.

Orochimaru was an avid follower of rules, so much that he almost built his life around them. He particularly liked twenty-fifth rule, which stated, in curt, bold letters, that a shinobi should never, ever show emotion. He was a quiet, soft-spoken child with a sharp tongue and a sharper wit, who used words better than most shinobi use kunai, cutting wounds deep in the heart. He was a genius with a sadistic streak who made his teacher worry over him, and who was the best jutsu-user that had appeared in Konoha in over two decades.

He had respected three people, once. One was his teacher, and the other two his teammates whom he half-hated for they made him break shinobi rule twenty-five. His teammates, his comrades, the only two he could work with, was the only people who could make him lose his precious control and scream and shout at them due to pure frustration alone. But he cared for them nonetheless, for they were his not-friends, and one couldn't help but care for the people whom one trust one's back to on a regular basis.

Then, one day, he realized that he cared for them far too much, beyond comradeship, and perhaps maybe beyond friendship. The bonds between them seemed far, far too much like love, and Orochimaru was deathly afraid. He realized that the iron of his control was slowly, but surely, being dissolved by the acid of his teammates, and realized just how dangerous bonds were. But he was a coward, in a way, and thought far too much and did too little, never daring to break the bonds until Tsunade cut hers off first.

Orochimaru was an emotionally stunted, too-quiet child, who was far too afraid of losing control to reach out to what he needed most.

--

Jiraiya, Tsunade, Orochimaru.

They were called the Legendary Sannin, the three heroes who always came back alive, who watched each other's back for over thirty years. They were comrades, never friends, never lovers, but they would gladly die for each other. They were happy, in the vaguest sort of way, until Tsunade drowned in grief and left, and Orochimaru was consumed by hatred, and Jiraiya gave up.

Now Jiraiya smiled so as to not think of what could have been, and not frown as frowns and scowls remind him of his broken bonds. Now Jiraiya laughed to prevent his mouth from saying things he wanted-needed to say, but never could.

Now Tsunade drank to drown herself in alcohol and not in guilt, for she didn't like thinking that if she had not left first, everything would be different. Now Tsunade healed to stop anyone else from getting hurt, as a wound on the skin and muscles is far easier to heal than a wound on the heart.

Now Orochimaru studied his jutsus avidly because they were all he had left. Knowledge and power was all that he ever needed, or so he believed. Now Orochimaru smirked and not-smiled, for smiles were for his former teammates, and it wouldn't do for him to be reminded of good memories of those he would kill one day.

There was a thin chakra thread between them, holding them together like there was a single puppeteer controlling three puppets. They danced, with jerky movements and fluid grace, to a tune that only the three of them and their not-puppeteer knew. They tried, futilely, to deny the bond between them.

Bonds were useless; after all, as no matter how much you cared for someone, they would betray you eventually.

--

The last book of the Icha Icha series is out. Have you read it?

Yeah, it's the only one in the series that doesn't have a happy ending. Damn depressing.

Isn't it? It's damn sad.

Hey, what are the two of you talking about?

The newest Icha Icha book, duh.

I haven't bought it. Brief rehash of the plot, please? I actually like the series for the plot, unlike you guys.

I'll ignore the last comment just for peace. It's the story of two boys and a girl who fell in love with each other, but never telling each other because it's socially taboo, and they don't believe in threesomes. Eventually, the girl falls in love with another guy, but that guy died, and the girl left the village, leaving her two boys behind. The first boy threw himself into teaching his students, because he would never admit that he had fallen in love with his rival.

What about the second one?

The second one went insane and did forbidden stuff and got caught. He ran away from the village. Because the second boy had betrayed the village, the first boy went after him. But he got his ass kicked, and left the village also.

And that's it?

Nah. Around ten years later, they had this reunion, where all three of them tried to kill each other. And the saddest thing is…

Is what?

The girl and the first boy sacrificed their lives to kill the second boy, and, because they did something really horrible to kill him, the story goes that the three of them will be stuck in Hell forever and be forced to fight each other eternally.

What happened to the happy ending?

Doesn't exist in this one, which is weird. But the sex's still hot, though, even though it's mostly of the first boy's conquests and how he have sex with other people to forget the second boy and the girl…

Yeah. Hey, don't they have names? The 'first boy', 'second boy' thing is getting annoying…

Of course they do… Their names are…

Jiraiya, Tsunade, Orochimaru.

End.