This is my response to a challenge set by LD1449 on the writer's forum called 'The Guild' - A place for writers to meet, discuss ideas and help one another [except for Yaoi fanfiction] (At http(colon)//www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/forum/The_Guild/54464/)
It is an a rare look at a similarity none usually credit between Naruto and Orochimaru through the eyes of the sannin and Hiruzen (As the most common analogies are Naruto/Jiraiya, Naruto/Kushina). It's pretty far-fetched canon-wise but I tried to link it to known scenes in the anime/manga. I did my best to fit the parameters. Each of the three scenes is individual and is like a snapshot to an event where someone saw the snake in Naruto's behavior and reacted to the stimuli.
I hope you enjoy it!
(8 years and 10 months Post Kyuubi, Konohagakure no Sato)
Sarutobi Hiruzen blew smoke from his pipe as he walked the streets of his village towards the Hokage Tower. He nodded here and there to greet the ninja and civilians alike that gestured, bowed or murmured his name humbly. It was ironic, for all the happiness and liveliness of the people he vowed to protect, they all carried a tainted ugliness just beneath the surface of their smiling faces.
Humanity was doomed to repeat its folly over and over until oblivion. The vicious circle of hate, fear and resentment could never be broken - this was truth, this was life. The skies roared softly with the beginnings of a rainstorm, their pleas and tears the single, endless testament to the woe of being the eternal witness to man's sinful existence. It was chilly outside, the moisture and wind tantalizing the denizens of Konoha.
Hiruzen paused his stride abruptly as something caught his interest. His original path was forgotten as he approached the disturbance he felt and heard from nearby. He peaked into the small courtyard on the edge of the mercantile district the building, noticing a group of three children circling a very small child. It was Naruto, the small Jinchuuriki the one that seemed to draw the attention of the other children.
His clothes were clot in mud and sleet, his face, hands and arms caked in icy brown. The boy was hunched over, his lips trembling as he struggled to get to climb to his feet, his voice sliding out of his mouth in a heated, trembling tone. "What the hell gives, Eiji! What the hell's ya problem?"
"You're my problem, freak?! Nobody invited you to join our game," one of the kids shouted tauntingly and pushed the young Jinchuuriki back to the ground. The agressive kid, that seemed to be nine to ten years old was also stained in mud and his eyes glared cruelly at the Yondaime's legacy.
"Why can't I play too? If I play too then we'd be four! So..." The blonde whined in a high pitched, slightly panting tone. His blue eyes flickered with such intensity it slightly unnerved the other boys that promptly seemed to get defensive.
"Don't you get it, Narutard! Nobody wants to play with you!" Another one of the boys said bravely and his face twisted into an ugly scowl. "Why would anyone want to play with some nobody, orphan loser like you anyway, huh!"
The blonde's eyes seemed to flicker with a dark gleam. His teeth grit in a feral manner and his nostrils flared as he exhaled tight; his fists clenching to hold back the rage pounding through his entire being. For a moment the Hokage thought he would pounce and attack the other boys but then the anger seemed to burn out its course and a lethargy replaced it. "W-why not?"
"Momma says we shouldn't play with you cause you're a freak! I mean why don't any of the parents want to adopt you like the other orphans, huh? Even your own momma threw you out!" His laughter rolled, soon joined by another pair of chuckles as they pointed at Naruto and called him various deragetory names.
The Hokage's eyes narrowed as he watched Naruto's teeth grit. The expression on his face, the humming hatred lurking at the edge of his bright eyes was familiar and it bothered Sarutobi. He wanted to make it stop but before he could raise his voice to disperse the heart wrenching debacle the blonde boy's face shifted into a huge grin.
"Hah! As if I care about that! You losers don't know what you're missing anyway! You guys'll see one day. When I become Hokage you'll all eat ya words! You'll have to respect me and then you'll be sorry you treated me like this and you'll be the ones kissing up to me! You just wait!"
The kids laughed harder and turned from him as he took off quickly. "Whatever, we'll be late for class if we waste time with Narutard anymore, let's go!" The boy known as Eiji said and they left, rushing away in the opposite direction.
The Sandaime no Hokage watched the gradually shrinking form of Naruto as he disappeared into the crowded streets. The hollow gleam in moist cerulean eyes sending chills down his spine. That look of utter lost, of despair and pain was so familiar it hit Hiruzen with bludgeoning might that left him daze. The shape of Naruto morphed before his eyes, memory lane tracing the outline of another boy over it. The pale skinned boy with eerie yellow eyes that had once inhabited the great village of Konohagakure.
"Orochimaru..." the memories plagued the elderly fire shadow; gnawing at his conscience and digging up emotions he had long since buried. He had once been a young Jounin under the tutelage of the venerated Senju Tobirama when he first witnessed such a unnerving sight of children picking on the boy just because who he was and what people thought of his looks. Much like Naruto the snake sannin in his youth had suppressed his emotions. But unlike Naruto his retort was not nearly as boisterous, nor nearly and forgiving. Naruto was in a way condoning of the way he was treated by ignoring it – Orochimaru wasn't nearly as kind. Where Naruto fought his fate, Orochimaru embraced it made it his trademark.
Of course, the yellow eyed youth was smarter, more jaded and far less naïve or tolerant towards those that called him 'freak'. He could still hear the sharp, scathing manner he retorted to those youth he could easily destroy: "Torment as you wish now but a time will come when I become Hokage and then I will make you recognize me, I will make you show me respect. You will come to regret treating me like this..."
But Naruto was still young and impressionable where Orochimaru had been exposed to the ugliness of death, loss and despair Naruto had not - yet. Perhaps there was still time to salvage the Jinchuuriki, before he too became the sociopath his predecessor pariah had grown to become. He had seen is former apprentice's eyes flash with hatred and bitter bloodlust towards his peers more than once in his youth and it shook the core of Sarutobi's heart to see the inkling of such malevolence in the usually sunny disposition of the Uzumaki.
With how parallel their ambition, their dedication and blind belief in their ability to succeed it was only a matter of time before the boy who smiled at the world, became the boy that bathed it in blood. "Not this time...I will not make the same mistake in neglecting and ignoring you as I did with Orochimaru, Naruto."
It was time Naruto interacted with children his age, acquire friends or at least acquaintances in class. It was true that Hiruzen would have to cross his own mandatory minimal age limit and place him in the academy early but there was too much at stake. He could not afford to stand by and watch Minato and Kushina's child transform in a horrible mockery of all they willed for him. Sarutobi was the Sandaime no Hokage and woe be upon the clan head or advisor that tried to stand in his way.
(12 years and 9 months Post Kyuubi, 40 miles outside of Tanzaki Gai, Hi no Kuni)
Densetsu no Jiraiya was a man of many talents. He was an accomplished spymaster, a legendary ninjutsu and fuuinjutsu specialist with a unique and intimate knowledge of the mythical sage arts, a womanizer of great success and an adult fiction novelist of great renown. But one thing that he wasn't too good at, forgetting the scars of his past.
The self imposed hermit had many regrets he could never lay to rest: never telling Tsunade how he felt, not being there to take Minato's place when the Kyuubi marched upon Konoha, turning his back on his village for three years to train three rain orphans that grew up into enemy jounin. But there were two regrets that stood foremost above them all.
One was failing to save and stop his former teammate, Orochimaru. The other was failing Minato and Kushina so miserably as their son's godfather and guardian. He heaved a heavy exhale as he continued to observe the sun-kissed blonde attempt yet again to recreate his father's infamous Rasengan.
"Damn it! Why doesn't it work?!" he heard the boy complain and clutch his partially burned and aching wrist. It was no surprise the boy was so tired and in pain, he had been training for the better part of the last six hours on very intense chakra control exercise. "Damn it! Why can't I do it? Why can't I ever get things right?"
The look in the toad sannin's ageless eyes became distant as nostalgia gripped his heart tightly. The boy's behavior was a frightening fusion of his own youthful self and Orochimaru. It was ironic and concerning at the same time. It reminded Jiraiya how lucky he was the kid managed to maintain his love for life and sanity despite the odds set against him with his burden and less than savory childhood.
"Why don't you give me some pointers, Ero-sennin! This is hard!" the boy had demanded in a whining tone, and made a show of being upset when the sannin brushed off his request. His eyes flashed with pain and hurt for a moment before they shifted back to a determined azure, "Heh, whatever, I'll get this done, you'll see!"
He could remember himself whining the same way when he was a genin, but he was never surprised or upset when Sarutobi sensei shook his head and told him to figure it out on himself. However, his unsavory teammate had always had a somewhat bitter gleam in his eyes whenever something was beyond him and he was refused assistance. When they were younger, Jiraiya knew whenever the snake sannin had tried asking Hiruzen for pointers.
He wondered why he sensei was so stubborn in that regard. Orochimaru was far more advanced than anyone his age back then, a prodigy they called him, so why didn't the old monkey give him some attention. Every time he was brushed the pale faced ninja aside Jiraiya could see the embers of disappointment, pain and resentment flash in those bone-chilling yellow eyes. Now similar aching eyes, full of longing for attention and acknowledgment were plagued with doubt and resentment (only yellow was exchanged with blue).
"What the hell am I doing? I always hated it when sensei kept on pushing us to figure out everything ourselves. Hmm...he's been at it for a while, why don't I help him a bit too...I'll check his chakra flow direction, maybe he's trying to spin it the wrong way like I did when Minato first taught it to me..."
The astounding amount of popped balloons around the boy on the training field brought back memories. He had only seen two people train so hard (now three) and with such startling results in his life. One was Orochimaru, the other was Namikaze Minato. As ironic as it was, the late Yondaime's son was closer to the infamous sannin than his own father in that sense.
Minato was pragmatic and flexible as a ninja and a person. He had experimented with many exercises and training methods in his time but had no qualm about dropping an area he seemed to struggle with in particular in order to seek out a more useful and beneficial art or technique. Naruto, and Orochimaru before him could not accept such failure.
They both had too much to prove, too much pride and ambition to give up. His treacherous former teammate had explained it to Jiraiya once, when the toad hermit had tried to convince him to cut back on training so they go to drinking. "Kukuku, don't be ridiculous, pervert. A Hokage has no time for such idiocy! Giving up... admitting to failure, avoiding the challenge of overcoming your weaknesses that will not bring me closer to Sarutobi-sensei's chair. I will bleed, I will struggle and I will succeed; it's not a matter of 'if' it's a matter of 'when' I succeed."
Day in and Day out he watched the yellow eyed prodigy train relentlessly to the point of exhaustion. 'Why do you train so hard?' he had asked Naruto recently. The answer left him uneasy and somewhat apprehensive with how eeriely similar it was to Orochimaru's. "Haha, Why not? I'll never be Hokage if I start backing whenever things are tough! I'm not weak or stupid, Ero-sennin! All my life I've been a failure...but not anymore! I'll get strong, you'll see! I'll prove myself to you, to Sakura-chan and Sasuke-teme!"
Orochimaru had been swallowed by his ambitions, mutated into the monster he was today. Jiraiya had stood aside, left the village, cast him away for the three Ame genin and abandoned him shortly after Tsunade did the same. He came back from Ame ashamed, reserved and somewhat broken and bitter. He then kept his eyes on healing himself and readjusting to his old life and let his teammate grow distant and hang out to dry.
He had not tried hard enough to make him pull back and see there's more to life than his ambition. He would not fail Naruto in the same manner, he would not let him slowly succumb to his own drive and desires; his darkness. "Never again, I won't turn my back on him like I did on you. I'll help him never forget the one thing that you could never comprehend, Orochimaru. True strength comes by helping one another grow, not walk our own paths alone..."
The toad sannin shook his head as he watched Naruto cry out in frustration and pain, the area trembling slightly as his partial rasengan missed the tree as he slipped, digging a small hole into the ground. Jiraiya smiled faintly as he watched the blonde sit up and glare hatefully at the tree he missed "Kukuku...that boy's got too much of his mother in him to become like you anyway, but one can never be too careful..."
He drew his hand across a seal and procured the blue Popsicle he had acquired earlier and approached his student, "Yo, Naruto!"
(12 years, 11 months and 14 days post Kyuubi, Hospital Room, Konohagakure no Sato)
Tsunade was walking through the hospital with a grim expression spread over her youthful looking face. It was days like these that made her feel her age. Her 'little brother' had yet to wake up from his comatose like state. Chocolate brown eyes narrowed faintly as she peered carefully into the room. "Naruto?"
The Jinchuuriki was sitting with his head bowed. A vacant, hollow gleam predominant in his cerulean eyes as seemed to block out the sound of her voice. The Godaime's eyes softened and she shut the door behind her softly. She sighed softly and gently sat next to him. She took a place on the chair beside his bed. She very gently brushed her hand across his shoulder, murmuring softly "Naruto, are you ok?"
The boy's eyes narrowed before falling shut and his body trembled "I-I, I failed...I failed! I...everyone got hurt and I. S-Sasuke...I couldn't bring him back. I tried so hard...but he didn't want to. He chose his revenge over me...over everyone!" His voice was hoarse, soft and tremulous as he bit down on his lip. His hands fisted into his hair and despite his better judgment tears threatened to fall from his eyes, as his chest quaked with quenched sobs.
Tsunade tried to say something but the boy just shook his head and sobbed "I-I'm sorry, I'm just...It isn't fair! I always try so hard...and get screwed over! Why?! Why do people always leave me alone? Why does my life have to be such a pile of shit!"
The way his mind struggled to accept his failure made her heart twist in her chest. The emotional roller coaster the boy was going through reminded her of another stubborn, emotionally stunted individual that had confided with her almost three decades earlier (though he had been drunk behind recollection at the time).
It had been one month into Jiraiya's foolish 'guilt-trip' induced quest to teach three Ame genin. Orochimaru had went to try and level and bring the toad sannin back to his senses. She wasn't exactly sure what had transpired between them, but it ended sourly and the serpent man returned from the 'Land of endless tears' fractured and an emotional mess. She had caught him plastered at his apartment surrounded by a pile of broken sake bottles, his hands stained in blood.
His intimidating serpent eyes were wide, moist and had a wild, perhaps partially insane gleam in them. "That's selfish perverted idiot! I failed...I can't believe it. I couldn't bring him back...that block headed bastard would rather galvanize...with the enemy...with his guilt than be with his friends fought him. I begged him...but that...he...I'm not..Why does fate insist on fucking me over?!" he hissed out in a jumbled, slur full of pain and fury.
She had tried talking to her intoxicated teammate, making him put down the Sake but he had turned violent on her and threatened to remove her if she didn't leave him alone. She had sneered at him and told him to stop whining like a little bitch and get his act together. The last Senju was upset over an alteration with Dan, tired after a long shift at work and she hadn't given thought to how harsh she sounded.
There was a suffocating silence before he had screamed and raved hatefully on how they were all the same, selfish bastards that didn't care about anyone but themselves and had forcefully asked her to leave, something she did most with a huff. But as she looked back she saw a silent plea in his eyes for her to stay, for her to care – but she was too proud to swallow his insult and be his friend.
She snapped back into reality as Naruto nudged her shoulders and once more asked her to leave, saying he wanted to be alone. Back then, she hadn't heeded the gleam of hopelessness fused with despair in her fellow's sannin's eyes. Soon after Dan was killed and she abandoned him alone with his own misery, guilt and bitterness and he had declined into the insane 'thing' he was today; this would not happen again on her watch.
"Not this time, not you! You're my 'little brother' and I'll help you, the paperwork can burn for all I care! Come here!" he silently wrapped her arms around him. His body stiffened as he fought her hold for a while before he melted into her warmth and comforting grip and cried with earnest. She murmured soft nonsense into his ear and let him be consoled, he would heal, she would make sure of that.
It was time to recall Jiraiya and have him take the boy away, it was time for a change in Naruto's life and for him to grow apart from the memories and emotional baggage of Konohagakure.