Sorry for such a long wait.

Just Another Lie

Tsunade felt the dread in her stomach turn into a chunk of ice the instant realization dawned on Shizune's face.

All the insecurities and self-doubt came raining down on her head like a ton of bricks, physically holding her in place.

Her fight-or-flight instincts kicked in and all she wanted to do was run away, but she couldn't. She was numb and cold and couldn't even breathe.

She waited like this for many seconds, and then minutes, until she thought she was going to burst into a thousand pieces.

That's when Shizune finally spoke.

"It's Naruto, isn't it?" Her voice was so devoid of emotion that Tsunade seriously thought about denying the question and moving on to another topic, never to bring her love life up ever again.

But then she remembered Naruto's smile. The smile that washed away all of her worries. The smile that made her warm and cool at the same time. The smile that made her heart flutter.

She remembered how he never gave up on the things and people he loved. How he never went back on his word.

… How he loved her.

… How she loved him.

Denying that love wasn't something she was willing to do. Not now, after everything. Not ever.

She felt strength and confidence she almost forgot she possessed return to her, and it almost made her cry. Naruto was still helping her, even now.

She straightened her back, lifted her chin, and stared her previous student square in the eye.

"Yes." She said. And almost immediately she felt relief. Like a huge weight was lifted off of her shoulders. It was freeing.

Shizune didn't speak for many moments, simply staring at her master with an unbetraying expression. Tsunade knew that Shizune was really thinking about this revelation. Her next words wouldn't be in the heat of the moment. They'd be her true feelings on the matter.

"Tsunade-sama." Shizune started.

Tsunade braced herself.

"I have always looked up to you as a role model. As the ideal kunoichi and woman. I've always wanted to be just like you; powerful and beautiful in equal measure."

The confidence Tsunade mustered up was slowly ebbing away, nervousness creeping into her heart with every passing second.

"You took me in when my uncle died, and raised me like I was your own daughter. We both shared the same pain when he died, and because of that, we developed a bond."

Tsunade wondered if she really should have confessed to Shizune. Dan was her uncle and one of the most important people in both of their lives.

"You taught me how to be the kunoichi I am today. I wouldn't be the woman I am right now without you."

Tsunade's heart was pounding. It felt like it was going to hop out of her chest. Just before it did, however, Shizune smiled.

"Who you love, no matter how strange it may seem to the world, would never change how I feel about you. You're still the powerful, beautiful kunoichi that I've always admired."

Tsunade blinked. Did the room just flip upside down? Because it sure felt like it.

"Naruto has become a fine man and is no longer a child. The age difference means nothing now."

Again, Tsunade just blinked.

"You shouldn't feel ashamed or frightened about it, either. You deserve happiness." Shizune smiled softly. "You both do. Many times over."

She heard the words, but couldn't make sense of them, not really.

"I…" She tried, her mouth suddenly dry. She couldn't find her voice.

Shizune smiled at her and stood. She left the room once more and when she returned, she had more alcohol.

Thank god... This was going to be a long night if she couldn't even speak.

"-nk you…" Tsunade whispered, so softly she wondered if anyone could have heard it, herself included.

"Hmm?" Shizune asked, turning to face her master. That's when she noticed Tsunade's tears. "Master?" She asked, worried.

With great struggle, Tsunade lifted her head and looked right at the woman before her through wet, bronze eyes.

"Thank you…" She said again, more emotion in her voice than she ever remembered having before in her entire life.

They didn't sleep at all that night. Instead, they talked for what seemed like forever. And the entire night, Tsunade couldn't help but smile.

| Just Another Lie |

Tsunade had felt it quite a few times.

Not so much with her perverted teammate. Jiraiya hadn't mastered it like Naruto had. It had been there, she thought, but so distant that she hadn't really seen it.

But Naruto was an entirely different beast. He had taken his master's teachings and took them a step forward, then another, and another still.

Sage Mode. The ability to perceive and wield natural energy. The key component of what made a sage, a sage.

It was this ability that currently fascinated Tsunade. Not because she wanted to be a sage, but because she had… felt something… strange.

Naruto had mastered senjutsu training faster than anyone she had ever known of. It had taken her grandfather years, and Jiraiya even longer.

But Naruto was naturally, and strangely, gifted. He couldn't master – or even use – basic academy techniques, but he was capable of learning and even perfecting S-ranks that could flatten villages. Weirdo.

A lot of people didn't know this about her, but Tsunade was a decent sensor. It wasn't her specialty by any means, but Sarutobi-sensei had taught all of them the basics. That being said, she noticed something that piqued her interest.

She needed to examine him while in sage mode more thoroughly. But if she was right…

She felt hope swell up in her heart.

| Just Another Lie |

"Can we… Can we talk?" Tsunade asked, reaching out and grabbing hold of her lover's hand.

They were sitting at her kitchen table, eating breakfast. He had stayed with her again, what was now a long string of sleep overs. She thought it would be impossible for her to sleep without him now.

"Yeah, sure." He said, his expression turning worried. He could probably feel her nervousness.

"I…" She took a deep breath. "I told Shizune." She cleared her throat. "About us."

Naruto's eyebrows shot up, but there wasn't any anger there.


She squeezed his hand tighter.

"I know I asked you to keep it a secret for now, but…" She wanted to tell him the truth. She wanted to tell him how much it was killing her to make him keep their relationship a secret. How much she hated herself for it. But she couldn't. "But she's the closest thing to family I have. I couldn't keep it from her any longer…"

A million possible outcomes rushed through her mind, each one ending with him being upset. He had told Gaara about their relationship, but that was different, and she knew it.

First of all, he had asked her first. He made sure she was okay with telling someone else. She hadn't. And Gaara was so far away. He didn't live in the village.

She was worried that her not asking permission after making such a big deal about not telling anyone would make him angry. Upset at the very least.

But this was Naruto, and he was never predictable.

"Good." He said, smiling at her with that damn smile that made her feel like nothing in the world could hurt her.

"Huh?" She managed. She couldn't say anything else.

"I'm glad you told someone." He said. "I was starting to worry that you wouldn't tell anyone." He chuckled, the sound like music to her ears. "So yeah, I'm glad."

She sat there for a few moments, bronze eyes clashing against azure ones.

"I love you." That's all she could think to say.

It's all she needed to say.

"I know." Cheeky idiot.

| Just Another Lie |

She sat there, as comfortable as she could be on the ground, and just watched.

His chest rose and fell, his breathing a rhythm that just seemed so… right. Like he wasn't simply breathing, but doing much more. Maybe he was.

She examined his closed eyes carefully, watching the orange pigment creep across his closed eyelids with a peacefulness she couldn't quite understand.

His breathing deepened, and she could feel him from where she sat, observing his transformation with great interest. His presence… it seemed like it was all around her. On the breeze, in the trees, reaching out through the grass beneath her.

She could feel him feel her, no matter how strange and confusing that was. His eyes were closed, but she knew he could see.

His bare chest kept the peaceful rhythm, rising and falling, almost in sync with the air blowing through the village.

His chakra had always been rather large, even for Uzumaki standards, and always so very warm and bright. But right now, it felt… different. More.

He wasn't simply using the energy around him. He wasn't simply forcing it into his body. Sage Mode was something else entirely. She knew it had been, but this… this was more than anything she could have ever expected.

He wasn't just wielding an unknown energy.

He was wielding the planet.

And it was beautiful.

| Just Another Lie |

It was late. The lights in her room were off, and the moon was hidden behind several puffy clouds. It should have been complete darkness.

But he was there with her, inside her, bathing the room in golden fire. Two souls connected as one.

She could hear his voice in her head, like he was singing directly into her mind. She decided that his voice was her favorite sound.

They swayed back and forth, like dancing palm trees. They were like poetry, painting soft stories with their lips, each one confessing their love in a new way.

He was like a wave, washing over her, pulling her underneath, sinking. She decided she wanted to stay there, forever drifting slowly.

The way he held her, touching her in all the right places. Like he was a king, and she was his queen. Like she was his everything.

Again, like a wave washing over her, his soul pulling hers underneath even deeper, she couldn't help but sink. She could stay like this forever, drifting slowly in the sea that was her lover's touch.

So bright and warm. So important. So beautiful.

Like she was the sky, and he was the sun. Like they fit perfectly together.

They belonged together. Connected as they were, they could feel each other's emotions. They could feel everything about one another. Their love. Their fears. Their regrets. Everything.

It was so incredibly intimate that most people wouldn't be able to handle it. Every deep, dark secret was laid bare. Their hearts were completely open.

It would scare off a lesser woman, but Tsunade couldn't get enough. As he thrusted into her, enjoying her body, he returned all the pleasure he took from her back, a continuous loop of ecstasy.

She could feel his desire for her. He enjoyed her body. Loved it, even. It made her happy. But then she felt ashamed.

Just another lie…

| Just Another Lie |

She placed her lips against his right shoulder, smiling softly.

"Sakura did a good job on this." Tsunade said, placing a second kiss a little further down. "I couldn't have done it better myself." A third kiss, once again slightly further down.

They were just lying on the bed, being a little lazy before the sun fully rose. Her window was open and there was a cooling breeze fluttering into the room. It was perfect.

"Yeah." Naruto mumbled, his eyes still closed. She knew he enjoyed these moments just as much as she did. When they could just be close like this, and not worry about anything else in the whole world. "She learned from the best." He smiled.

She chuckled softly, pressing another kiss on this arm, next to his elbow.

"Flatterer." She accused.

"Is it working?" He asked cheekily, opening a single eye to peer down at her.

Her smile was way too playful for the time of day.

"You have no idea." She purred before pouncing.

Tsunade had never been more of a morning person than she was after her and Naruto became lovers.

| Just Another Lie |

Tsunade felt both extremely happy and horribly awkward.

She was in her apartment, sitting on her couch, a small cup of sake in her hand. That wasn't very unusual, however. Ordinary, actually.

To her left, sitting on the couch next to her, was her blond lover, Uzumaki Naruto. He was sipping on some tea, trying to act like he wasn't feeling just as awkward as she did herself.

The reason for their awkwardness? Their guest.

"So, Naruto-kun. How are… things?" Shizune asked, nervously petting Tonton, their pet pig.

Tsunade nearly choked on her drink. "How are things"!? What kind of crap was that!?

Naruto gave a lopsided smile, rubbing the back of his neck.

"Uh… Things are good."

Tsunade couldn't decide which was more painful – the idiot's reply, or his awkward chuckle at the end of it.

"Good. Good." Shizune responded, and Tsunade nearly slapped her forehead in exasperation.

"Okay, I can't take this anymore…" She said, sitting her drink down and looking at the two idiot's that were in her home.

"Naruto and I are in a relationship together." Tsunade stated unashamed. "And Shizune knows about it. There's no reason to be weird about it."

She wasn't sure which was more painful – her stupid words, or the expressions on Naruto's and Shizune's faces. She sank in her couch, wishing that she could disappear right at that moment.

Then, Naruto and Shizune burst into laughter. They were… laughing… at her…

The bastards!

Then, despite herself, Tsunade laughed too.

After that, the rest of the day was filled with conversation and laughter, never repeating the awkward silence again.

| Just Another Lie |

Slurp. Chew. Swallow. Repeat.

Tsunade shook her head in exasperation as, once again, Naruto ate a cup of instant ramen for breakfast, of all things.

"You really love ramen, huh?" She asked, despite knowing the answer already. Everyone who knew the blond knew about his obsession of the noodle-y persuasion.

"Of course!" Naruto shouted over a mouthful of noodle and broth. "It's the best food there is!"

Tsunade shook her head again, chuckling despite herself.

She herself enjoyed ramen, but not as often as Naruto. It wasn't her most favorite food, either. But her lover enjoyed it so much that she couldn't put up much of an argument of why he shouldn't eat it like it was going out of style.

Resigning herself to a life of constant ramen, Tsunade rose from her seat in her kitchen, where they were enjoying breakfast together, once again, and strode over to Naruto.

With a dignified plop, she made herself comfortable in his lap, only slightly surprising the idiot.

Then, with skills only a Sannin could boast, she snatched the spoon from the Uzumaki's hand, managing not to spill a single drop of broth.

She didn't see his look of outrage and utter betrayal. And he didn't see the cheeky smirk on her face.

Slurp. Chew. Swallow.

| Just Another Lie |

On the day before their departure to Kirigakure, where Tsunade would revamp and improve the medical program of the Hidden Mist in a show of unity created by the Shinobi Alliance, Tsunade found herself preparing for the trip at the Konoha Shinobi Hospital.

"So Naruto's going with you again?" Haruno Sakura asked with only slight interest, busy writing down her report for a young shinobi she had just finished a session with.

Sakura and Ino, after the war, had decided to open a branch in the clinic to help the young shinobi who had served in the Fourth War with any psychological trauma they might have received.

Tsunade hummed in response, trying her best to seem uninterested in the fact that Naruto was escorting her to Kiri. It did seem to be a bit much.

Uzumaki Naruto was the Hero of the Fourth, arguably the most powerful man on the planet at the moment, challenged by only Uchiha Sasuke, and he was, essentially, being reduced to escort duty. It did seem like a waste of his time, but not entirely.

Tsunade was a retired Hokage and the last member of the prominent Senju clan, so the argument that she was high enough profile for someone like the Orange Hero could be made. Also, her work in the medical arts pertaining on and off the battlefield were still extremely valuable. Countless lives would be saved by her research, and even more so by Sakura's further in the future.

Tsunade knew that it was only a matter of time before Sakura surpassed her in both medical breakthroughs and pure combat skills, but that was point of taking her on as an apprentice. She was perfectly happy with stepping back and letting the next generation take over.

Yamanaka Ino was also making strides in her specific lane of research. There was no one more qualified to advance the knowledge of the human mind and how to heal it after it was damaged or scarred.

"Didn't he escort you to Suna?" Ino asked, biting her pen out of habit, skimming through a thick volume devoted entirely on the parts of the brain that managed emotional output. "How was that?"

Tsunade was putting the finishing touches on her schedule. Time management was necessary on such short trips. She could really lose herself in her work.

"It was fine." Tsunade answered, only half truthfully. It hadn't been fine, it was great.

"Is it just me, or did Naruto get, like, handsome lately?" Ino asked, looking at Sakura from across the small records room the three were occupying at the moment.

Tsunade held back the near automatic need to flinch.

Sakura chuckled. "It's not just you. I've heard a lot of girls say the same thing recently. It seems he's Konoha's most eligible bachelor."

Ino and Sakura were too busy laughing at the strangeness of Naruto's transformation from village idiot to village hero to notice Tsunade's sudden inner struggle.

It was true that Naruto was receiving more and more attention of the female kind, especially recently. That didn't really bother Tsunade too much, though. She wasn't a jealous woman to begin with, and she trusted Naruto more than mostly anyone else in the whole world.

What made her feel a bit guilty was the situation she was putting Naruto in.

Not coming out to the public about their relationship was difficult for Naruto, in more ways than one. The most obvious one being the situation with his friends. No one really understood why he hadn't started dating someone yet, knowing just how many suitors there were.

And then there was the fact that all these young girls genuinely believed they had a shot with him. He couldn't just shut them down, being far too nice and/or oblivious. Just another lie, one she was forcing on the person she loved.

Just another lie.

| Fin |

I feel like adding a bit of action into this story. I'll be incorporating some from now on, but it'll stay mostly about the Naruto x Tsunade fluff.

Special thanks to Dreaming of the Phoenix for all the help.