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50 Things That Made Legends

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01. He tells Jiraiya he never cared about him, or about Tsunade, when he leaves - it makes it easier to run.

02. Jiraiya believes in honesty beyond everything else (and the honest truth is that he's the biggest liar of them all).

03. When she's alone, Tsunade drops the illusion and looks at her wrinkles, feeling authentic for the first time in years.

04. The great toad cannot remember the past, but he speaks the future with such detail that Jiraiya writes everything down for posterity.

05. Jiraiya peeks in on Tsunade when she has her first date with Dan, and her beauty makes him believe in a God he'd long forgotten.

06. Discussions on morality were never Orochimaru's forte; as a career killer, what could he possibly know about right and wrong?

07. Jiraiya realises he's the last one left, and leaves as well.

08. Once upon a time, Orochimaru tried to fly with wings made of chakra and realised he was terrified of heights.

09. Their first mission together is to wrangle a flock of chickens that have escaped a farm; it took three hours longer than Sarutobi expected because the birds screeched at Tsunade like she had personally slaughtered their families.

10. Tsunade always entwines their pinkies together when they walk through the village; so barely together and utterly unbreakable all the same.

11. They all own some form of jewellery, gifted to each other after graduating to Chuunin.

12. It's not until they're 14, jounin, and in the Mist Country that Jiraiya realises why people compare ice to crystals.

13. Orochimaru used to eye her necklace all the time; in retrospect, Tsunade should have given it to him instead.

14. He wants to be unbreakable, like the precious stone his mother left him.

15. His Akatsuki ring sits in the laboratory, scratched and broken in attempts to understand why it's so important.

16. Naruto doesn't understand how Jiraiya can find this life fulfilling, and the truth is that he doesn't.

17. Of the three, Jiraiya is probably the kindest of them all, spending far too much time helping others and actually enjoying D-rank missions where the other two complain.

18. Tsunade's words can be thoughtless and sharp, Jiraiya can harden and destroy, but Orochimaru wears cruelty like silk, draping himself in it and only allowing his team to see anything else.

19. Tsunade drinks because, at her core, she's a hopeless optimist who is always hoping and she can't handle the way her mind contradicts reality.

20. Jiraiya runs through the continent on the blind faith that he can find Orochimaru and bring him back.

21. Once, Kabuto makes a comment about Tsunade that's less than polite and ends up with a sword pierced through his shoulder and a lecture on respecting even the enemy.

22. There's no honour in killing in the ANBU, Orochimaru quickly learns, and he relishes that.

23. He follows the shinobi code to the letter - they just don't understand that the short-term losses will benefit them all in the long-term.

24. They return to brand him a traitor for all of Konoha to hear and say that they'll find and destroy the demon that escaped their village.

25. What they never tell anyone, even now, is that they knew what Orochimaru was doing; perhaps not the details, but they knew how desperately insane he'd become long before Sarutobi did.

26. There's only one time Orochimaru's ever been scared in his adult life - when Tsunade opened the earth beneath their feet in anguish after Dan's funeral.

27. When Naruto asks to be impressed, Jiraiya wonders if he has a tale of courage to tell the kid, or just ones of stupidity.

28. His arms burn all the damn time, but when Kabuto gives him medicine, he pretends the weakness is gone.

29. Everyone comments on her freakish strength and chakra control, but all Jiraiya sees is her strength of spirit in returning to Konoha.

30. Jiraiya so rarely lowers his voice that when he does, everyone listens.

31. Tsunade admits to Jiraiya, while completely wrecked on vodka and wine, that she sees the value in human experimentation.

32. They all have darkness in their hearts, and Orochimaru wonders why only his is called "unholy crimes against humanity".

33. Sarutobi-sensei has to smack Jiraiya over the head in order for him to growl out an acceptance of Tsunade's apology.

34. Jiraiya shows everything mercy - even flies - and it annoys Orochimaru and surprises Tsunade.

35. Tsunade is the last one of them to take a life and it fits - she's the medic, after all.

36. There's no justice in killing his best friend, no matter the reasons or words, and Jiraiya tells him to run instead.

37. It's a false comfort, Tsunade realises, having the liberty to leave her home on a whim and gamble and drink her feelings away.

38. He leaves the village because it's too restrictive, but even all the lands in the continent aren't enough to allow Jiraiya to feel free.

39. He finds it strange, as a man so obssessed with immortality, that the afterlife brings him peace and calm.

40. Orochimaru's first act of kindness is to slip Jiraiya a bell while he's tied to the stump.

41. When some newly promoted Chuunin laughs at Jiraiya for failing the exam, Tsunade and Orochimaru break both his arms and give him a black eye.

42. Soon after joining Akatsuki, Orochimaru decides to send a messenger hawk to Jiraiya, attaching a letter that means nothing.

43. Neither Tsunade nor Orochimaru expected that Jiraiya would be such an accomplished singer.

44. It pains Orochimaru to realise that his humiliation at karaoke is still one of his worst memories; it feels so unbelievably petty, with all the other things he could choose from.

45. Jiraiya's most oft cited regret is that he never got to experience the softness of Tsunade in his bed (that's an oft cited lie, as is any description of Tsunade as soft).

46. As Orochimaru grows up, his bone structure becomes unbelievably pronounced; hard and unforgiving like the warrior he is.

47. They're the Gods of Konoha; heroes who ended battles in their favour and Jiraiya feels like he's in heaven with all the women falling over themselves for his stories.

48. They all fall one after another - three angels who tumbled down to hell and revelled in their vices.

49. Despite all of Tsunade's terrible luck, Jiraiya always loses at strip poker.

50. She has to believe in a God, because otherwise their deaths mean nothing.