~The Toad, The Slug, and the Snake~

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, Kishi does, but if I did, Orochimaru would have a gaiden! *-* Please review! :3

When the legendary sannin were children, Jiraiya was the knucklehead who failed at everything, Tsunade was the high-spirited and determined kunoichi with unrivalled strength, and Orochimaru was the mysterious, withdrawn prodigy. Each had their own strengths and faults, but it was for their amazing talents, feats and adventures they earlier embarked on which made them so legendary.


Tsunade had just passed her academy exam, and she wasn't sure to be ecstatic or nervous. In a way, she was both, as she scanned around the classroom, trying to easily determine who would be in her group. Tsunade already knew she couldn't be on a team with another kunoichi, so she turned her attention to the boys. Her eyes were instantly drawn to someone in particular: Orochimaru. His snake-like eyes were focused directly forward, and he was the only person in the classroom that didn't fidget, complain, or do both.

I hope he's in my group, she thought, rather anxiously. She was curious about the pale-skinned, emotionless boy. All the teachers held him in very high regard, he allegedly was a prodigy, and she also knew he was an orphan.

"Okay, everyone, settle down, settle down. I will call out the team number and the team members. Please listen carefully!" the teacher roared.

Tsunade wasn't particularly interested in hearing about the other groups, instead, she listened for other names..

"Team seven…consists of…Orochimaru…" the teacher began.

Instantly, Tsunade's attention was captivated. But not only she, everyone in the whole room suddenly became alert. Tsunade knew the fangirls were hoping to be on his team, and the boys were all looking for their chance to have Orochimaru as competition.

"Tsunade…"

Yes! She thought, excited. Her female classmates turned to look at her, rather enviously. Tsunade ignored their glares, waiting for the third name. She knew there had to be another male in her group, as there were less kunoichi than male ninja and each team consisted of two males and one female. She could only hope the other male wouldn't be annoying..

Being the granddaughter of Hashirama Senju could be a pain sometimes.

"….Jiraiya.."

Who's Jiraiya? Tsunade thought, turning her head. Too many people were blocking her view, so she didn't get the chance to see her third teammate.

"…and Hiruzen Sarutobi as team leader."

Tsunade inwardly groaned. She'd heard of Sarutobi-sensei, all right. He was not known to be lenient. Not to mention that he was the student of Tobirama Senju, her grand-uncle, which likely meant he'd go strict on her for her to live up to the Senju clan.

Oh well, at least she had Orochimaru on her team. This was going to be interesting.

-x-

The next day, Tsunade ran quickly, finally finding Team Seven's assigned classroom. I'm late! She thought, panicking. She had barely gotten any sleep the previous night, and thus had woken up late. Her stomach clenched in anxiety, she was rarely late, but on their first get-together as a team? She certainly didn't want to be reprimanded on her first day of Team Seven. She was the granddaughter of the first Hokage, after all.

Slowly, she knocked the door.

"Come in," came Hiruzen Sarutobi's gruff voice.

She opened the door, tense, and let herself in. There stood Sarutobi-sensei, arms folded, with Orochimaru and a white-haired boy turning to look at her.

The white-haired boy walked toward her, eagerly, a slight blush on his cheeks, while a more withdrawn Orochimaru lingered at his side, eyeing Tsunade shyly.

"Nice to meet ya, I'm Jiraiya! You can send me love letters!" he said, rather fastidiously, raising his hand for her to shake it.

Tsunade's temper instantly flared. All thoughts of Sarutobi-sensei rebuking her were forgotten.

"I'm Tsunade…and no way!" Who does he think he is, asking me to send him love letters? We've never even met!"

She made up her mind on the spot to dislike him. She looked at Jiraiya's hand, and ignored it.

"Why not?" asked Jiraiya, a bit crestfallen. He let his hand drop.

"Just because," Tsunade crossed her arms, and held her head high. He's so annoying!

"Aw..well I'm not giving up so easily! This is Orochimaru," Jiraiya introduced, pushing the dark-haired boy forward.

Okay, well he's not annoying.

"Oh! H-hi, my name is Tsunade!" she smiled at him, raising her hand for him to shake it.

He didn't say or do anything, but merely looked at her, wide-eyed.

"I'm Hiruzen Sarutobi, your team leader," said Sarutobi sensei. "I expect good teamwork and vast improvement to all three of you," he began.

"Aw, not that speech again," Jiraiya groaned.

"Hey, have some manners!" Tsunade scolded Jiraiya, though secretly she agreed with him.

Orochimaru remained quiet and attentive.

That was how team Hiruzen formed, when Orochimaru, Tsunade, and Jiraiya graduated from the academy at the age of six.

And thus, our story begins.

-X-

"What?" Jiraiya fell in the river?" Tsunade screeched, putting her hands to her hips. "I can't believe he'd do something like that..oh he's such a knucklehead!"

Orochimaru smirked, crossing his arms.

"Why do we have to save Jiraiya from a BUCKET hanging over a WATERFALL, at the end of that river?" Tsunade yelled loudly.

Sarutobi-sensei sighed.

"..and how did he even get there? Sarutobi sensei, can't we get a better mission? Right, Orochimaru?" she asked, turning to her teammate for justification.

"Right."

Yes! He agrees with me! She thought, anger eased a bit.

"See Sarutobi-sensei? Even Orochimaru agrees with me," Tsunade said, deliberately rubbing it in her sensei's face, then crossed her arms in triumph.

"Now, now, Tsunade, rescuing Jiraiya from a waterfall will surely improve your kunoichi tactics!" Sarutobi-sensei said, rather exasperated.

Orochimaru didn't reply, just studied both of them espressionlessly.

"How is that gonna help? Jiraiya can get stuck there for the rest of his life for all I care! Hmph!" Tsunade said in defiance.

Sarutobi sensei sighed in dismay. This bratty kunoichi was a stubborn one. Well, he should've expected that from his sensei's grand niece.

"Let's go, Tsunade," came a calm voice. Orochimaru sounded slightly annoyed, though for what, she wasn't sure.

"Oh, all right.." she inwardly groaned. Orochimaru had the persuasive powers of a god.

"Alright. It is now 9 AM, meet me back at this spot right at noon," Sarutobi sensei said, smiling a bit. Orochimaru certainly was the decision maker on their team.

Orochimaru turned and looked at Tsunade. Blushing a little, she nodded, before they ran off, arms held high, to the Leaf Village Dumpster.


"Ew, this place REEKS!" Tsunade commented, clamping one hand over her nose and using her other hand to fan away the stinking fumes.

"I've smelled worse," Orochimaru said, expressionlessly, staring at the ground.

She turned to look at him. What could be possibly worse than this?

"Like what?" Tsunade asked, curiosity getting the better of her.

"The stench of dead, rotting bodies…" he said, almost in a whisper. A sudden remembrance of the death of his parents.

Tsunade shuddered.

"I don't think I want to know anymore…" Tsunade said.

Orochimaru wasn't paying attention. He was quietly studying the distance, trying to locate a target.

"Look there," he pointed.

Tsunade looked. In a separate hill quite distant away from the dumpster was a waterfall. That must be the one Jiraiya had gotten himself in.

"Wow, you found it already!" Tsunade grinned.

Orochimaru was already walking away. "Let's go," he said, stopping to look behind at Tsunade, then sped off.

"Hey! Orochimaru, wait up!"

They ran, side by side, wind blowing their hair back, until they reached the end of the river that stooped deeply to reveal a crashing waterfall. (This was the very same waterfall Naruto would later use to train with his shadow clones.)

A large wooden bucket was attached to a tree, a rope holding it in place.

Tsunade and Orochimaru stared, and then Tsunade burst into raucous laughter.

"Hahaha! How did Jiraiya manage to get stuck up there?"

Orochimaru narrowed his snakelike eyes. That little brat, he thought.

Tsunade picked up a twig and threw it at the bucket. The twig ricocheted off.

"Jirraaaiiiiiyaaaa! Knucklehead, you in there?" Tsunade cat-called, hands over her mouth.

"Tsunade? Is that you?" A faint muffled voice came from within the bucket.

"Yes!" Tsunade called out.

"Then get me outta here! Helllpppp!"

Tsunade turned to look at Orochimaru. No doubt he'd be formulating a new plan. Tsunade knew she was intelligent, but she was all too busy thinking of ways to bash in Jiraiya's head than saving him. That was all up to Orochimaru.

"What do we do? I'm not sure how to get him out of there without falling out," she said, nervously.

He didn't reply, seemingly studying the waterfall.

Tsunade sighed, not wanting to disturb his thoughts. Okay, so she couldn't lean over and untie the rope, big deal. She narrowed her eyes, more carefully studying the positioning of the tree. It was tottering at the end of the hill where the waterfall began. It looked like it was going to snap any minute now.

"Okay, I guess we'll have to cut the rope," Tsunade said.

Orochimaru brought out a kunai, and proceeded to cut the rope.

"Tsunade, grab hold of the bucket."

Using her strength, she managed to lift the bucket about a tenth of a decimetre.

Holy crap! Jiraiya was heavier than she thought, panting heavily.

Orochimaru was having some difficulty cutting the rope. There seemed to be an amount of chakra embedded in it.

"This isn't an ordinary rope," he muttered, gritting his sharp teeth.

The tree roots were giving away from Tsunade's strength. She tried to take a step, but lost her footing.

Uh oh.

"WHOAAAAA!"

The tree snapped, sending Tsunade, Orochimaru, the bucket, the tree, as well as all their ninja tools straight down the waterfall. She was hurtling down the waterfall at an alarming rate, so fast she could barely hear her own earsplitting scream, or the rushing air, or the deafening sound of the churning water. Adrenaline was surging through her veins, and suddenly she was flying, falling without any hope of getting back up. She could feel Orochimaru's exhilaration, he was enjoying the fall, enjoying the surge of air. He looked so...free.

There was no time to control chakra to the soles of their feet on a waterfall. The only thing Tsunade could now hear was the terrified yell of Jiraiya until…

SPLASH!

Tsunade's ears were ringing from the inpact, the breath knocked out of her. She couldn't regain her energy to control chakra, and her mind starting spinning. Unable to move or see her surroundings, she sank, down, deeper, below into the river, her consciousness slowly drifting away from her.


As her head cleared slowly, Tsunade eventually became aware of the warmth that surrounded her. She felt her nausea ease away, and found she was able to breathe easily against it. Despite her holder's hands being ice-cold, his body was not, and she felt herself relishing in the warmth, listening to the gentle rhythm of a heartbeat.

Wait.

A heartbeat?

Tsunade's eyes snapped open to meet tan slit-pupiled eyes. She almost screamed in fright before she realized it was only her teammate. Orochimaru was gazing down at her in surprise. He was looking at her so intensely, she thought he could see far down into the depths of her soul. Tsunade squirmed, she felt her face getting warm.

"Oh, you're awake."

Tsunade shook her head, spraying droplets of water everywhere, and Orochimaru, seeing she was perfectly fine, released his hold on her. She took a step back, somewhat awkwardly.

Blushing and unaware of where to look, she said, "Thanks, Orochimaru-kun...you saved me.

He didn't reply, but continued to study her. His expression became even more unreadable.

Tsunade realized with a start that they were both soaking wet. Her own blue yukata clung to her budding breasts, and Orochimaru's white robe clung to his pale, delicate skin.

Averting his gaze, Tsunade's blush deepened.

Orochimaru smirked slightly.

"GET ME OUTTA HERE NOW!," an annoying voice shouted.

Grr…just when me and Orochimaru get a moment to ourselves! Tsunade thought. That little Jiraiya! He always gets in the way!

She stood up, and put her hands to her sides, glaring at the bucket.

"Get YOURSELF out of there!" Tsunade shouted, a vein bulging in her temple.

"B-but I'm stuck!" Jiraiya replied, sounding a bit taken aback at Tsunade's harsh tone. Tsunade was almost always harsh towards him, but it was rare for her voice to take such an edge.

"Too bad!" Tsunade stuck out her tongue at the bucket, although Jiraiya couldn't see it.

"Hey! Easy for you to say, you flat-chested dog!" screeched Jiraiya.

That did it.

Now Tsunade was mad. Really mad. And as we all know, an angry Tsunade wasn't a Tsunade you'd want to reckon with.

POWWWWW!

"SHANNAROO!" Tsunade shouted, punching the bucket with all her might. The impact of the punch knocked Jiraiya straight through the bucket, leaving it to collapse.

Jiraiya went flying about a hundred feet away, shouting, "WHOAAAA! While Tsunade stood visibly fuming, a vein popping in her temple, with Orochimaru standing at a distance, shocked at the intensity of her punch and rather amused at the same time.

"Ouch!" Jiraiya groaned, limping back with a swelling the size of a soccer ball on his cheek, as well as a black eye.

"Hmph, serves you right!" Tsunade pulled down one of her eyes and stuck out her tongue.

Orochimaru came sauntering towards Jiraiya. "How exactly did you manage to get yourself stuck in a bucket?" he asked, rather disdainly.

"Yeah, that's what I'd like to know, too," Tsunade chimed in.

"Yesterday night, I went for a walk, and a bucket started moving!" Jiraiya began energetically.

Tsunade lifted an eyebrow, turning to look at Orochimaru. He had an annoyed expression on his face, but nevertheless interested in what Jiraiya had to say.

"That's the stupidest story I've ever heard!" Tsunade exclaimed, not bothering to hold back her annoyance, at the sheer ridiculousnous of the story.

How pathetic…Orochimaru thought inwardly. He's making something up.

Jiraiya's dark eyes flashed. "It isn't!" Jiraiya responded, indignant.

Tsunade sighed, her arms crossed. Still, she was curious, turning to look at Jiraiya.

"Yeah, yeah, so what happened after that?" she asked.

"Well…I took the bucket off, and a frog jumped out of it and attacked me! Wait, it was a toad..no, a frog. I don't remember..wait..it has to be a toa-"

"Just continue already!" Tsunade exclaimed, exasperated.

"Sheesh," Jiraiya spat on the ground, crossing his arms. "I took a step back and fell into the bucket, then it fell over the edge and then the lid got stuck and I couldn't get out! I was stuck here the whole night!" Jiraiya concluded, sounding rather surly.

Tsunade and Orochimaru sweatdropped.

"Jiraiya.." Tsunade uttered.

"Yes?" Jiraiya brightened. Maybe she would…

"…you're such a big loser!" she said scathingly.

Jiraiya's hopes died down, and the bright expression on him face vanished, replaced with a sulking look.

He, however, was not about to get used as a doormat.

"No, I'm not! You're a flat-chested dog!" Jiraiya retorted back.

"What did you just call me?" a vein once again bulged prominently in Tsunade's red temple.

"Flat-chested dog!"

"Loser!"

"FLAT-CHESTED DOG!"

"LOSER!"

"FLAT CHESTED DOGGGG!"

"ARRRRRGGHH YOU LOSE-"

"It's almost noon, we better go now." Orochimaru fixed them with a calm but measured expression, interrupting their little charade.

Instantly, Tsunade and Jiraiya's attention riveted back to Orochimaru.

Unlike Jiraiya, he's sooo cool! Tsunade thought.

"A-alright! Let's go!" Tsunade called out.

Instantly, they ran off in a flash.

"Hey! WAIT FOR MEEE!"

"You're LATE!" Sarutobi-sensei roared, his brow furrowed.

Tsunade and Jiraiya gulped, whereas Orochimaru looked on passively.

Tsunade stepped up.

"It was all Jiraiya's fault!" she spoke fiercely, trying to put as much anger in her voice as possible.

Jiraiya elbowed her.

"Don't listen to Tsunade, Sarutobi-sensei!" he rebutted. "It was all her fault, Tsunade snapped and punched me!"

"Jiraiya called me a flat-chested!" Tsunade screeched.

"She gave me this black eye!" he pointed at his swollen eye.

"He called me a dog! Do you know what they say a female dog is called, Sarutobi sensei?" she confronted.

"What are you saying?-"

"THAT'S ENOUGH!" Sarutobi-sensei roared angrily.

Jiraiya and Tsunade froze.

Sighing just a little, Orochimaru walked away. All that racket was giving him a headache.

He was vaguely aware of Tsunade turning to watch him.

"Wait! Orochimaru, where are you going?"

He didn't reply, instead, turned to look at her.

"Wait up!" Tsunade ran to him, raising her hand, blond ponytail bobbing.

"Sorry about that, it's all just Jiraiya's fault," Tsunade panted, putting on her best smile.

Orochimaru didn't reply, just gazed at her. He wondered why Tsunade was always on his tail.

"HEY! Wait up, Tsunade, Orochimaru!" Jiraiya ran up to them, a stern Sarutobi-sensei lagging behind.

Dammit! Why can't I spend some time alone with Orochimaru without him tagging along? Tsunade thought, fuming.

Sarutobi-sensei couldn't hold back a small smile. Well, looks like they're finally done bickering.

Tsunade, Orochimaru and Jiraiya marched up to the second hokage, escorted by Sarutobi-sensei.

"Mission complete," Tobirama said absentmindedly, making a stack of papers before he started stamping the remainder of the files. He then put aside the stack, looking up to inspect the young three.

Sarutobi-sensei awaited the answers of his students, a smile dancing on his lips. He was proud of Orochimaru and Tsunade, especially Orochimaru. The child was a once in a generation talent, and Hiruzen Sarutobi wanted to take it upon his own hands to train him to be one of the best shinobi. Tsunade also had a great deal of potential, and with proper control of her temper, she could be a kunoichi unmatched by any other. Jiraiya on the other hand…Sarutobi-sensei's smile faltered- was a completely different story. Hasty and careless, always chasing girls, though Hiruzen acknowledged his determination was impressive. Though determination alone wouldn't really get him anywhere. With more intensive training, I'm sure Jiraiya will improve, Hiruzen thought inwardly. Putting on his once again stern expression, he uttered in a commanding voice, "explain yourself to hokage-sama!"

It was an order.

Jiraiya smiled weakly, attempting to cover up his embarrassment. He lightly lifted one arm to scratch his head nervously.

"Uh…well…um…you see..uh…last night, my head hurt, so I uhm….went for a walk. I always come here to the waterfall, and..and then I saw a bucket…and it started walking towards me. It was UNREAL!" Jiraiya enuciated.

Sarutobi-sensei and Tobirama Senju looked at each other. Tobirama lifted an eyebrow.

Yeah…really unreal… Tsunade thought sarcastically, rolling her eyes in disdain.

Pathetic… Orochimaru thought, bored and slightly annoyed.

"And…um…I lifted the bucket..and a frog attacked me..and um, I fell into the bucket!" Jiraiya concluded, voice faltering in humiliation. He shut his eyes in embarrassment, ready for a scolding.

For a second Tobirama stared dumbfounded at Jiraiya…then his blue eyes sparkled and he burst in raucous laughter.

"HAHAHAAAHAAA!"

Sarutobi-sensei, Orochimaru and Tsunade all stared at Nidaime, dumbfounded themselves. Then Sarutobi joined in, and before long, everyone was laughing, all except Orochimaru.

Orochimaru looked from Nidaime to Jiraiya, then to Sarutobi and finally to Tsunade, wondering what they found precisely so funny. He did notice though, how attractive Tsunade looked when she was laughing, her face lit up. Her feminine voice rang in his eyes. Unfortunately, he was interrupted from his little venue.

"Let's all take a break!" Sarutobi-sensei announced. "However, we will meet up at our usual training spot at 7 PM, and we will all eat out at Ichiraku's ramen."

"YAHOO!" Jiraiya cheered, throwing up his arms in glee. Truthfully, Jiraiya was slightly surprised he was let off the hook so easily.

"Yes!" Tsunade squealed, joining in.

Orochimaru said nothing, merely blinked.

"Tsunade, why don't you be my date?" Jiraiya asked, blushing a little with excitement.

A vein bulged in Tsunade's forehead.

Why does he always have to ask me that? Especially in front of Orochimaru! The hokage is right there, and Sarutobi-sensei too!

"Jiraiya…you little…" Tsunade seethed.

"I take that as a yes? Jiraiya asked tentatively.

"HELL NO!" Tsunade snarled. And with all her might, she punched Jiraiya right through the hokage's window.

She was aware of both Sarutobi-sensei and Tobirama's annoyed eyes on her.

"Oops..sorry…" she said.

Sarutobi and Nidaime sweatdropped.

COMING UP NEXT:

The legendary three go to eat ramen, what kind of havoc will Jiraiya wreak?