Emotion was a sign of weakness. As a ninja, one should not show any sort of weakness whatsoever. He had lived with that acceptance of truth his whole life. And so, Orochimaru had lived as he was told to do, become the best. He had to become the perfect ninja.

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It was said that they were the best team ever in the history of Konoha, but Orochimaru knew that his teammates were not perfect. Neither was he. But then he was still young, untried, had so much to learn still. It was acceptable for the time being.

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Months passed. He had encountered many battles and he had won. Many lives were taken and he had stayed alive. In a world wrapped in chaos he had survived. He was feared. He was powerful. Was he perfect? He had to know.

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When he found himself lying down in the mud with his arm broken and blood spewing out of his mouth, he knew the answer. He had trained hard, very, very hard. He had spent hours, not wasting a second of available time. He had done everything! Yet was not perfect. Not any where near it at all.

He loathed himself, scorned this inability, cursed every god he knew for denying him flawlessness. Desperation nibbled his young heart and darkness consumed his very core until he felt only absolute hatred for everything.
What must be done? When will he achieve this state of flawlessness? What must be sacrificed?

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For awhile he had stopped trying. Perfection didn't exist. It was a mere notion of the human mind. It cannot be attained. He moved on to other interests. It was then that he started noticing other people. He started noticing Tsunade.

He was always aware that she was fond of him. She had always made it clear. Although she no longer declared it, and recently had been showing interest with other men, he still sensed a lingering affection for him. Or rather, he hoped, actually hoped, that she still held even a flicker of that crush she once had.

He anxiously wanted to know, and it showed. Though made a huge effort not to, his golden eyes always seem to stray. He watched her through the corner of his eyes, and sometimes unwittingly stared outright, and when her amber eyes meet his, there starts the drumming in his ears and a warm sensation spreading inside his chest. He denied that he harbored any feelings toward her. It never happened before. Certainly not now, and never will.

But when she smiles. Yes. Whether it was that polite smile, or that amused smile, or that angry smile, it made him want to smile too. And a few times he almost did. Almost.

Although he continued to live in denial of his feelings, he asked himself, is this love? Whatever it was, it was unplanned. Crazy, even. Extremely crazy.

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A few weeks went by. There had been many encounters with his blonde teammate. There were those few instances when he 'coincidentally' decided to go shopping in the market the same time she was, or those occasions when he walked her home because he had an errand to run where he 'by chance' had to pass by. He lost sleep many times, asking himself why her? Out of all the girls, why her? Was it a matter of convenience? Was it because she was always there, and so whatever this was developed and grew? He told himself it did not matter. It is already there, this feeling. It's there, so just leave it.

For a few more weeks, they continued to have those 'unexpected' meetings. It wasn't long before Orochimaru began to realize that his heart no longer pounded like it did before and his eagerness for those encounters had diminished. He stopped devising plans for such coincidences and decided not to buy that thing he had seen Tsunade eyeing at this store.

Later, he also began to understand that whatever Tsunade felt for him before, it was no longer there. She no longer loved him like they thought she did before. He had never been in love with her in the first place. He cared, maybe. And she most definitely cared too. That was sufficient for the both of them.

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Knowing he did not love Tsunade made him somewhat sad, though he could not grasp any reason as to why. Could it be that he desired to love someone? Could he possibly be yearning for a companion whom he'd give adoration and passion and hopefully receive the same in return? That was not possible, was it? He couldn't let it go. It tormented him too much to dismiss unanswered questions and this possible desire for companion. It continued to haunt him for days and weeks. That brief affair, if it could be called that, gave rise to many things so unfamiliar, so unexpected and profound that it was as if he had gone to inexplicable madness. He couldn't escape. Wanted, yet could not gather strength nor composure to do so. What is this? None of this was planned for. It was unbearable, nevertheless, he could not let go.

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He was having another argument with that idiot Jiraiya. As usual, it had to do with who was stronger. It was him, of course, and the white-haired male should just live with it. Orochimaru gave him his most severe glare, while Jiraiya, who was used to this, glared back equally intense.

It took a hours before they finally got tired of looking at one another and looked away. Tsunade, tired from the mission and had equally weary from waiting for their staring contest to end, had already went ahead to sleep. Sarutobi-sensei was back in Konoha carrying out his newly-acquired Hokage duties. They were alone and everything was finally peaceful until Jiraiya just had to break the silence.

"You had feelings for Tsunade, right?" he said, impassive, yet hesitant. Out of all the questions, why did it have to be this? Orochimaru opened his mouth but did not answer. He closed it and instead, looked up at the stars. The answer, yes, he thought he did. It was quite a while ago that his genius mind considered that event as a fabrication of his imagination. Or maybe he had been trying to make his mind believe that no such incident occurred. But it did, as his teammate just reminded him.

"What happened?" Jiraiya did not want to end the conversation.

Nothing happened, that's what. He had always thought, suppose back then Tsunade had shown interest, there could have been, maybe, possibly… Something would have happened. In fact, many things would have happened and this conversation would never have existed. Maybe it was his fault, that if he had shown interest at the same time she had, things would definitely be different. But back then he was immersed with desire to be perfect, nothing else mattered. Only perfection and nothing else. Maybe if he never gave up he would be perfect now. But he had already decided that perfection is simply a delusion of man, something born from greed of power and many things.

Jiraiya looked at him for a long moment, as he always did recently, and he wondered what the idiot was thinking, if he would give up because he had decided that he would not get any of his questions answered, and that he had wasted his time asking such in the first place.

For a while it looked like he was frozen in his thoughts. And suddenly a crazy notion entered , and his golden eyes stared apprehensively at first, then expectantly.

Jiraiya was still staring at his face, at his lips. He came over and casually sat down the log he was occupying. And shortly after they were kissing, lips soft, chest bare, hands all over each other. They had made love, for fifteen minutes, more or less, before they had to break away because they heard Tsunade stir in the tent just a few meters away.

They had become lovers for those few minutes. They never talked about that night ever, kept their thoughts to themselves. They never tried to do it again. Even if one yearned for the other, they will have to crush that feeling. An unspoken promise was made, that that would be the first and the last time for them to hold each other. They can only look, but never touch. Such is the agony they had. To contain it and live with that longing forever, or to crush it and live free of that pain?

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He had never been to bed with another man after that, though now and then he'd feel a powerful temptation to do it, just to relive the memory of that night when he was young and distressed and confused. Jiraiya had been no better. But that happened because it had been convenient for the both them. They were stressed and exhausted with all those missions and the conflict between the countries and they only had each other to vent it out on.

If only he wasn't foolish it, he wouldn't have uselessly spent time pursuing Tsunade, and then he wouldn't have done that with Jiraiya, and none of these thoughts would have existed. He wouldn't be hurt and he wouldn't be confused and he would never have yearned for a warm body during cold, lonely nights. If only… if he was perfect.

But perfection did not exist. Perfection cannot exist unless you had time to get rid of every flaw in your mortal body. That would take years, hundreds, maybe thousands. No one could ever live that long…, right…? One must become immortal, which is impossible.

Or is it?

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To become immortal, and to remain as such, one must be strong. To be strongest, and to remain the strongest, immortality is the solution. He would use a Body Transfer jutsu to attain immortality, but how long will it have to be to attain perfection? In case, just in case, that immortality was not achieved, will perfection never be achieved as well? His mind was swarmed with questions, day and night filled only with the same thoughts.

If perfection cannot be achieved if immortality was not achieve, then he must find out a way to achieve perfection without immortality. He had to live long enough to learn all the techniques. Once he learned all the techniques he would be perfect. He would be the strongest, and he would never be hurt again.

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Hi! This is supposed to be longer. Maybe I'll do another chapter because this is not the ending I want. Please review and tell me what you think. I got confused myself writing this. I also tried to rush it so I may rewrite this a little.

NOTE: If Sasuke appears in this fic, he would probably be female.

Please read my fem Sasuke fics and my fem Kakashi fic. J