A short ficlet on the darker sides of Jiraiya's choice to train Naruto. Inspired by a line in one of rayemars's fanfics.

The title comes from the short story of the same name, which has completely different subject matter but is all about life or death in one person's hands.

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The Lady or the Tiger

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Jiraiya's eyes lit upon the seal that appeared on Naruto's stomach, and the epiphany struck.

The boy's physical resemblance to the Fourth, the whisker-like markings on his cheeks— those weren't coincidence. This boy housed the demon fox.

Jiraiya saw the second seal, and his choice appeared.

It wouldn't have been difficult for the Fourth to have dragged the demon fox into his death and kill them both, when they fought twelve years ago. Instead, however, he'd sealed the creature into an infant.

That had been the choice that the Fourth had made. As he died, he'd chosen to leave behind a weapon for his village. It was a weapon that lacked finesse or control, but if honed just right—and it was such a blank slate, so ready to be shaped—it would be a powerful weapon. Even Jiraiya wasn't much at manipulating people, but after knowing him for less than two days Naruto trusted everything he said, and Jiraiya knew that it wouldn't take much to overpower the boy both mentally and physically.

It wouldn't take much to kill the boy, either, especially with that second seal around the first, and remove all future threats of the weapon being turned against Konoha. Another possible and far worse alternative was the fox breaking free—if the second seal, so sloppily and hastily crafted, could alter the boy in such a way, the seal was not unbreakable.

Jiriaya gathered the chakra in his hand and requested the blond to raise his arms. Naruto did so without question, though he grumbled that the order was strange.

He would feel guilty either way. To allow the boy to live, when there was no longer a need for such a weapon, and a weapon nearly anybody could learn to use, would be stupid. To kill him, though, when he was all smiles even while he complained, when he was sincere and honest enthusiasm, and when he'd never asked for the demon, wouldn't sit right with Jiraiya. Ever.

He chose.

Naruto yelled as Jiraiya's hand slammed into his stomach.

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(la fin)

(Tu peux faire seulement une choix; tu as seulement une vie. Ne la regrettes pas.)