Tsunade sighed as she packed the pair of rapists into a scroll and prepared them for transport. All this week, Shizune had been asking her not to do this, had been asking her what Dan and Nawaki would have wanted. At this moment, she didn't care what Dan or Nawaki wanted. All she wanted was Dan and Nawaki.
Hearing Jiraiya speak to the walking reminder of her loss about the wonderful woman she used to be had been the final nail in the coffin. That woman was dead and gone, and all that was left was a washed up old gambler who owed millions. Konoha didn't need such a woman to be Hokage. In fact, Konoha didn't deserve anything more from her. It had taken everything she had. Konoha had taken her grandfather, her great-uncle, her brother, any number of her cousins on both the Senju and Uzumaki sides of the family as well as her father's side of the family, her lover, and now her Sensei.
While she didn't want to see her former home destroyed, she could see why Orochimaru would want to do so. Konoha had taken Orochimaru's parents, the few friends he'd managed to make besides her and Jiraiya, and several of his students, including her brother Nawaki who had been on his first Genin team.
When the time came, she asked Orochimaru not to destroy Konoha as a condition of the healing. She could tell that he was lying when he agreed, but didn't really care. Her duty to Konoha was done, and she would be getting her brother and Dan back.
Orochimaru's arms were healed, and a moment after the deed was done, his end of the bargain was fulfilled. Dan and Nawaki stood before her looking exactly as they had in the final days of their lives.
"Nee-chan, why?" Nawaki asked as Orochimaru sank a kunai with a red seal tag into the boy as well as Dan.
"What is that?" she asked.
"Just a little insurance to make sure you don't try to shall we say, go back on your word." Orochimaru said with the coldly evil smile he'd always only directed at the enemy before. "Should you decide to attack me, they will attack you until you are dead no matter how that comes about. Sarutobi-sensei was forced to summon the Shinigami in order to deal with the last two that I summoned."
"Enjoy." Orochimaru said as he turned to leave.
Nawaki stood there staring at her with tears in his eyes and kept asking her why she had brought him back. Dan refused to even look at her no matter how many times she begged him to.
When Jiraiya came to her with completely dead eyes and a weapon in hand, she didn't even resist.
This time, it was Dan and Nawaki who got to watch her die.
Jiraiya was crying as he picked up Orochimaru's trail. Tsunade hadn't even resisted as he killed her, hadn't pulled out any last minute tricks, hadn't pulled a miracle out of her hat as he had been half hoping she would do.
His team which had been his family for almost as long as he could remember had shattered long ago. There was no hope of putting the pieces back together now. Sensei was dead, killed by Orochimaru. Tsunade was dead, killed by him. Orochimaru would soon be dead, and so would he. As much as he wanted to die today along with his teammates, he had one final task to complete. He would have to return his godson to Konoha and make sure the boy wasn't blamed for what had happened.
As he approached Orochimaru and his subordinate, he pulled out a certain storage scroll. He had already known what the black flames were when he'd collected them over a month ago. He had hoped to study them and find a way to counter them, but that was not to be.
His team had been like a version of a game of Janken. He'd been rock, Tsunade scissors, and Orochimaru paper. He'd been able to defeat Tsunade with some difficulty when he was really trying, Tsunade had been able to defeat Orochimaru, and Orochimaru always managed to pull some trick out of his ass that had left him reeling and wondering what the hell had just happened.
Today, it was him with the trick. He would have to thank Itachi when he met him in hell. Not only had the boy been "anonymously" passing information about the Akatsuki and their goals to him, but the boy had given him something he was certain would destroy Orochimaru, Amaterasu.
An hour later, he lay there bleeding, broken, and nearly dead. Naruto was in nearly the same shape. He had succeeded though. Both Orochimaru and his little spy had finally stopped screaming as the black flames devoured their bodies as well as the number of small white snakes that had attempted to flee the scene.
It was done. His team was dead. Once his final task was complete, the shell that was all that was left of him would be too.
Koharu sadly read the message that Jiraiya had sent by messenger toad. Morale in the village was currently at an all-time low, and nobody needed to hear that the granddaughter of the Shodai Hokage had turned traitor. As far as she was concerned, nobody would hear it. The official story would be that Orochimaru had found and killed Hiruzen's successor before Jiraiya could reach her. In a way, that was the truth since Orochimaru had caused her death the moment he'd made his offer.
"It looks like Danzo will be Hokage then." Homura said as he read over Jiraiya's report.
"No." Koharu replied."We agreed to follow Hiruzen's will, and that's just what we'll do."
"Jiraiya's refused, Tsunade's dead, Hatake Kakashi's incapacitated, and the chosen successor is still five years too young to take the position as Hiruzen planned. Pretty much all that is left are the Clan Heads and Danzo, and if we give it to one of the Clan Heads..." Homura replied.
"There may be a way around the Clan Head issue." Koharu said eventually.
"Really? How?" Homura asked.
"Do you remember who Jiraiya's other Genin besides Minato were?" Koharu asked.
"How could I forget? Hiashi was a chubby little thing back then. I'm still amazed that Jiraiya's bad habits only rubbed off on his female Genin. I'm still checking the trees around the bath for her despite the fact she died almost fifteen years ago." Homura replied. "What does that have to do with...oh, Nidaime's teaching line through the Sandaime then?"
"We will have to schedule a visit to the Hyuuga compound as soon as possible." Koharu said.
"What if he doesn't accept?" Homura asked.
"Then, we'll be forced to go with Danzo." Koharu replied.
"What about Hiruzen's chosen successor?" Homura asked as he looked up at the Hokage Monument. Things should have been different. In an ideal situation, they'd be advising the Yondaime. In the next best situation, they'd be sitting with Hiruzen five years from now watching as the Godaime's face was carved on the monument next to that of his father. The boy Hiruzen had chosen to succeed him was of an impeccable bloodline, not only related to the Senju, but he was also son of the Yondaime himself, and he already showed some signs of one day becoming a great leader like his father before him. Unfortunately, the child was far too young to take the position that Hatake Kakashi was supposed to be grooming him for.
"We can only ask." Koharu replied sadly.
Hiashi looked down at the scroll that had been delivered an hour ago for the hundredth time. It was a request to meet with the Council. The Council as in the Council Council, the Sandaime Hokage's advisors, not that squabbling mostly unofficial group of Clan Heads and merchants that the Hokage occasionally deigned to listen to which had also been dubbed with the moniker of The Council. Fearing that one of the Kumo ninja he'd killed after a pair of them had kidnapped Hinata during the confusion of the invasion had been important and that Kumo was demanding the head of another member of his family, he wrote a reply arranging for a meeting to take place that evening.
After he sent his reply, he spent the rest of his afternoon silently worrying. Eventually, evening came, and Sarutobi Hiruzen's former teammates came with it. As he had a meal set out for the venerable and respected shinobi who had been the Nidaime's students, he found he had no appetite. Who would it be this time? His father? Neji? Hinata? Or, god forbid, his little Hanabi who was a great deal like the fireworks she'd been named for?
Eventually, after the meal was finished, the Sandaime's advisors finally decided to get down to business.
"We have a request we would like to make of you." Koharu said.
"You are one of very few candidates left that we can chose from." Homura said. "As a former teammate of the Yondaime, you are the best choice available."
Candidate? Former teammate of the Yondaime? Were they asking what he thought they were asking?
"What about Jiraiya-sensei?" he asked.
"Jiraiya...Jiraiya has declined the position, and we have chosen to respect his wishes in this matter, especially since..." Koharu said sadly.
"Since?" he asked, fearing the answer.
"We had originally selected young Tsunade for the position. Orochimaru apparently caught wind of this, and assassinated her before Jiraiya could find her and inform her of her new title." Koharu replied. "Jiraiya has taken Tsunade's loss very personally."
"I see." he said, noting that Koharu's reply wasn't the truth, or not all of it. He would have to ask Jiraiya-sensei when he returned, IF he returned.
He saw a great deal. Something had gone seriously wrong, and the Council had come to him, basically telling him that he was the only choice they had left. Despite the fact that he didn't want the position, as dealing with his clan was difficult enough, there was only one thing he could do as a loyal shinobi of Konoha.
"I will do what is asked of me." he replied.
"Thank you." Koharu - who was apparently the Council spokeswoman this evening - said.
"There is one small request we would like to make." Homura said nervously.
"Request?" he asked.
"It's about your successor." Homura said.
"My successor?" he asked.
"Sarutobi hadn't planned on dying so soon, and had had a successor in mind whom he'd planned on naming Hokage on his eighteenth birthday which is five years from now before retiring a second time." Homura said.
"This successor wouldn't happen to be Uzumaki Naruto would it?" he asked. He was well aware of the boy's heritage. How could he not be, having been both Minato's teammate, and twin brother to the boy who had had a crush on Kushina and had ruined his chances with her when he put a bug in her hair.
"Yes." Homura finally replied.
"I'll consider it." he said. If the boy appeared to be an acceptable candidate in a few years, he could have the Hokage's hat and be welcome to it.
"Thank you Hokage-sama." Homura replied.
Hokage-sama. He would have to get used to the title quickly, even though he didn't really care for it. His goals in life had been surprisingly similar to the Nara boy's, even though things hadn't worked out that way. He'd always wanted a quiet life, and apparently hadn't been fated to get one. Fate really hated him.
Author's Note: As for the Naruto as the Sandaime's chosen successor thing, shortly before the invasion when Orochimaru disguised as the Yondaime Kazekage suggested that the Sandaime should hurry up and chose the Godaime, Hiruzen said that he didn't plan on retiring for "another five years". Interestingly enough, Naruto would be turning eighteen in a little over five years from that point. In the Canon Universe, I'm guessing Danzo had managed to talk Koharu and Homura around after they'd gone through three years of Tsunade as Hokage, and a Sixteen year-old Naruto who was woefully unprepared for the job returned to the village.