He was brilliant. Anyone could've told you that.
From a young age, Sarutobi-Sensei loved to brag about how amazing Orochimaru was, how intellegent. Even those far older than him even had to marvel at the young man's worthiness.
To her he'd always just been "that creepy kid" that just happend to be her teamate. He always enjoyed being in her company more than anyone else. And was always more protective of her than anyone else.
The walk home after Dan's funeral was the longest she could ever remember. It just wasn't right, walking home without him a step or two behind her.
Ever since Nawaki passed, she had seen Dan as a blessing; a gift. Perhaps even a message from above that meant she'd no longer have to cling to her pillows, damping them with her fresh, salty tears.
Clearly, she was mistaken. Like always. She was wrong, like always.
The sky was stained with the yellowish-orange sunset, the last of the sun's rays melting over Konohagakure. But Tsunade's eyes were fixated on nothing but the hard ground, as she forced each foot in front of the other. Home wouldn't be the same.
"Counting your blessings?"
She paused, whipping her head around, she saw him.
Orochimaru was leaning against the fence, arms folded, with his dark hair holted up in a ponytail. Fully exposing the paleness of his face. His expression was blank, but his reptilian eyes were calm, soft.
Tsunade grimaced, was that a joke?
"Psh," She snorted, turning her head around while contemplating on continuing her walk. "What blessings?"
"It wasn't your fault, you know." Orochimaru began, removing his back from the fence and standing straight. "Dan's death. The weak always get weeded out to die.."
Tsunade was staring at him again, her iris's seemingly burning with ferocity.
Orochimaru smiled, unfazed by the scary look. "But not you, Tsunade. No..I think you'll always be powerful."
Ignoring the compliment, Tsunade said, "You never liked Dan, you never appreciated him for the great ninja he was."
"Ah~" Orochimaru sang. "That's the word, though isn't it? *was*. What good is he if he's dead?"
And it happend very fast, suddenly Orochimaru was in front of her, and his face an inch from hers.
"And, I'm still here."
Tsunade did nothing. For once her bark was far more impressive than her bite.
"I saw you after the funeral, you know, " Orochimaru began. "It looked like you were ready to hop from your chair and join poor Dan in that coffin. I, for one, am happy you didn't."
Tsunade growled. "I didn't want to kill myself, Orochimaru.."
"Oh, of course not.." Orochimaru answered without delay, his eyebrows slightly forming an arch. "But really, why would I think that. When has death ever solved anyone's problems?"
Sick of the banter, Tsunade quickly turned on her heel and continued on.
She heard Orochimaru sigh, "Okay, have it your way. I, for one was just trying to have a nice talk with one of my team mates."
Tsunade let out an irritated sigh. Of course this was his idea of cheering someone up.
Orochimaru narrowed his eyes. "You kn-"
"Shut up, Orochimaru." Tsunade finally said, turning back to face him. "You know, I think I've finally realize why you detested Dan so much. Because he was and is a great ninja, and you'll never be."
Orochimaru's expression was a mixture of surprise and amusement. "Not a great ninja? -"
"That's right." Tsunade replied, with a rougher tone. "Having an excellent skill set and loads of justsu does not make a ninja. It's his integrity, his courage, his views on right and wrong. You've never had any of that."
"You're starting to sound like Jiraiya." Orochimaru chuckled, not seeming to take anything she was saying to heart.
"Dan was loved by everyone." Tsunade continued, ignoring his comment. "No one, and I mean no one, has ever loved you or needed you around for anything but a job well done. No one will ever love you, Orochimaru. No one."
Orochimaru was silent, something of which surprised Tsunade. No comeback. No answer. Tsunade waited for a couple seconds to see if he would crack, when nothing happend, she turned back on to the street and kept walking home.
"No." Orochimaru said, when she was out of earshot. "I'll never be anything. Because I do not have you."
Tsunade turned back to see Orochimaru, he was no longer there. And she swore she had heard something.