A/N: An idea that sneaked up on me. I thought that I should experiment around a little as practice. Since I don'thave a preference in pairings, I thought about the what-if pairings, like JiraTsu. I think I failed quite miserably at this, but I didn't want the hour I spent writing this to be in vain. So yeah... try and enjoy...? :/

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto


Because you're not Him

He had known her since adolescence, since the beginning of his time as an official ninja. He had spent countless amount of training hours with her, hours of contemplating about the past, and hours of drinking the same Peach Sake.

Yet, he couldn't quite understand her. She seemed close with him, but at the same time she seemed so far. It didn't matter how much hours they had spent with each other, she remained unreachable.

That vixen, Tsunade Senju, had his whimsical existence wrapped around her fingers since the day they met. And it was too late for the man, who was known as Jiraiya the Gallant, to notice.

Whether it was because of his idle mind or pure stupidity to overlook such subtle manipulation; Jiraiya didn't mind. He wanted to remain hers, despite the fact that she simply couldn't be his.

Jiraiya accepted the outcome of their relationship when he was an early adult: Tsunade was destined for another, and fate be damned she became another's lover. As much as he resented the cruel outcome of fate, and the bitterness it left at the tip of his tongue, he couldn't take away the fact that Dan Kato - an average jounin who managed to sweep Tsunade off her feet - was able to pry his way in her heart.

How he effortlessly did it made the pain in Jiraiya's heart excruciatingly impossible to suppress. For he risked his life countless times for her attention, and now, an average man managed to woo her so easily. Reality can be filled with bullshit sometimes.

Though their Spring of Romance looked promising - proposal, marriage, their own family together was just around the corner - it made an abrupt ending without either of them realizing. Bloodshed; tears; sadness; helplessness; broken promises, were all burdened on Tsunade.

In a blink of an eye Jiraiya could no longer recognize the woman whom he loved for years. Her image tainted by War, path of existence twisted by Death, and the smile her pale lips would curve into, the smile which Jiraiya so adored, never returned.

If only - just if - Jiraiya had tried harder to console her, would she still have left?

"If only," a whisper, if not hush, escaped his chapped lips. Stone black eyes glanced at his near-intoxicated partner, Tsunade. They hadn't come to the bar to talk but, to forget their troubles.

The twist of his story, if not the biggest twist to date, was that Tsunade became Hokage despite her constant refusal. At the back of Jiraiya's mind he knew he wasn't the reason why she succumbed: it was Naruto Uzumaki, his student or Kakashi's student, why she accepted. The vague resemblance Naruto carried through his traits and characteristics were like Nawaki's and Dan's. And it shone a light in Tsunade's darkened heart, needless to say it ignited it back to life.

Their hopes, dreams and burning determination were nearly identical.

"If only, what?" a slurred question came out, quite hesitant and quiet. Tsunade's honey golden eyes idly scanned Jiraiya's facial expression when he jerked back, surprised and off-guard. Was she supposed to hear what he had whispered?

Slowly, his lips curved into a inscrutable smile, then a heartily laugh came out, "Ah, you heard? You see, there are attractive women at the bar; I was wondering if I could score with women in their 20's."

Even with deeper inspection Tsunade couldn't see past Jiraiya's smile, like a circle she would trace herself back at the start. The mystery behind his smile was fathomless and erratic, if anything. Was it a façade?

"Give it up, you perverted geezer." Tsunade replied with a protective bite.

"Eh, age doesn't matter! It's how a man gets a woman's libido going!" Jiraiya argued back, protested. "Just because you're outdated now, doesn't mean I am,"

Tsunade picked up her sake slowly before she snorted at his response. "I take it, this is what you taught your student?"

"Not just Naruto," Jiraiya waggled his index finger in the air. "Kakashi too. It's about passing the torch down to the future generation, Hime. Don't act so coarse."

Tsunade didn't bother to respond, nor did she have any interest in the subject anymore. Perverts will always exist, and she has to accept that. If the flamboyant, Naruto Uzumaki, could become an infected pervert then so could anyone else. Why would she even bother?

More perverts = more people she could release her wrath on.

The Gallant propped his chin on his palm he watched as Tsunade dazed into space. His onyx orbs took in Tsunade's beauty as much as it could. Age didn't affect her, she remained the same as before; just as flawless and perfect.

Her heart shaped face didn't show wrinkles or any signs of aging, it was pristine. Honey whisky eyes shrouded with mystery; soft light pink painted lips enough to manipulate or seduce any man, if not both (if you're not careful), aided her already perfect face.

Through the years Jiraiya had tried to find the perfect adjective to capture her immortal beauty - no success availed. The only word he could come up with was pulchritudinous: the word, in Jiraiya's eyes, captured Tsunade well. For such a bold word to occur in everyday flattery was slim, and so was Tsunade - her beauty to ever appear in the Five Nations again was slim, close to never. The word alone looked and sounded like a disease, and it was what Tsunade was. She was a disease that infected Jiraiya a long time ago, yet he didn't mind nor did he want it to be cured - he wanted to hold onto it in vain.

Despite her rare, poisonous appeal he couldn't deny the fact that she was the face of beauty.

"Jiraiya, you haven't touched your drink since the Third Shinobi War," Tsunade stated, eyebrows burrowed together in worry, "What's the matter?"

The Gallant displayed a genuine smile filled with mischievous thoughts. "Are you interested to hear my new idea for the next chapter of Icha Icha Paradise Part 2?" He knew she wouldn't dare to say yes, he knew she would retort in disgust - he knew her.

Tsunade bit back a laugh, cheeks burning up into a light salmon pink color; "I may be quite tipsy now, Jiraiya, but did you really think I would say yes to that?"

"I can't say I know you," he replied taking a small sip from his Sake. 'I'm the only one who knows you well, Hime. You know that, I know that - we can't deny it.'

The blonde Hokage refilled her cup with Sake slowly, almost deliberately, to catch Jiraiya's wary attention. Once the cup was half full, she silently offered the bottle to her companion to which he gladly took off her hand. "You need to stop looking at me like that. I'm not a kid you need to be suspicious off."

Damn. She noticed his stern, watchful eyes on her; he thought he had outwitted her with his sly actions. He couldn't be more wrong.

"I'm simply looking out for your well-being, Hime. Don't be so cold."

Tsunade knew that it was obvious, more obvious to state the sky is blue. "...Baka," she softly whispered underneath her breath.

Jiraiya raised his cup - just high enough to cover his curving lips - and drank all of it in one go. "Shall we have a drinking contest?"

"I have to set an early task for Team 7 tomorrow, I think I'll pass for now."

"Suit yourself!" the white-hair Sannin winked at her, a subtle taunt that would throw her off her high horse. "We both know that you'll lose either way, anyway."

"You're taunting me and it's not going to work."

"We'll see."

"It's not."

"Yeah, keep talking."

One hour later...

Six bottles of Peach Sake scattered on the wooden table tops - two bottles rolled down to the floor; one bottle seemingly disappeared - and white curved cups were collected by the waiters.

"Heyy, Tsun-" Jiraiya's sentence halted for a brief second. She was deep in her slumber, completely passed out without a care in the world. The winner of the drinking contest dug his blunt nails into the wooden surface and pushed himself up before he walked towards Tsunade.

"Jiraiya-sama, that was a good contest between you and Tsunade-sama!" The old bartender smiled. "Next round will be on the house."

"I shall take you up on that one!" Jiraiya replied drowsily before he stooped down to pull Tsunade into his arms. "Firstly, I need to get this troublesome woman home."

Slowly, with the utmost care, Jiraiya hooked Tsunade's right arm around his neck before he swooped her legs on his vacant arm. Despite his own blurry state of mind Jiraiya proceeded to walk out of the bar, moderate paced with deep concentration.

When the door was opened for the drunk Gallant his eyes averted to the lampposts already lit underneath the grey clouds. It wasn't till he lifted his left foot he heard Tsunade mumble in her sleep. It wasn't clear but Jiraya was familiar with the name, too familiar.

"...Dan."

Jiraiya wore a half-hearted smile, he had just thought he had heard the last of Dan's name, but upon hearing Tsunade unconsciously mumble such words in her sleep, made him think again.

It hurts...

As he walked through the seemingly deserted streets of the village with the Hokage safely sleeping in his arms, Jiraiya wondered how he became so blind that he thought, even after all these years, he had a chance.

The answer was crystal clear but, he couldn't see it. He was blinded by his own naïvetè and foolishness.

Every decision Tsunade had made upon meeting Dan was all for him. She developed Hematophobia, fear of blood, because of Dan. She departed from the Leaf because of Dan's death. She refused to love again because of her devotion to Dan. She came back to the village to take the name Godaime for Dan's dream.

Everything was for Dan. It wasn't for Jiraiya. He couldn't persuade her to love him, he couldn't persuade her to become Hokage. It was all Dan even after death he was still higher than Jiraiya in Tsunade's life.

Jiraiya stopped just in front of the Hokage Tower before he carefully looked at his fellow comrade in his arms. "You really rule with an iron fist, Tsunade-hime." he softly whispered.

They silently knew, the both of them, the boundaries that restrict them to become more than friends. Even while they drink their pain away, laugh at the past, cry about their loved ones.. they won't whisper it nor utter it underneath their breath.

The reason why they couldn't be was as clear as day. Yet neither would dare to say it. It was better to act like everything was fine, like before, when it wasn't.

Jiraiya could not be Dan. He could never be. No matter how hard he tried, he could never fill the void Dan had left.

Because I'm not Him...

She knew, yet she didn't say. She was aware of his feelings, yet she pretended to be ignorant about it. She refused it because of one reason. One reason that struck deep within their heart.

Because you're not Him.


A/N: Angst. Angst Everywhere! :O I hope you enjoyed it anyway. :D FanficBaka, how well did I do?

'Til the next one-shot I write,

Exciled3