Foreword: 'Nother Naruto one-shot. Decided to try and turn an old theory of mine into an actual story. This has some continuity with my other one-shots, but can be read as a stand alone. Blame FFN for any formatting errors. Soundtrack is as follows:

Scene One: Alanis Morrisette - Uninvited
Scene Two: Ozzy Osbourne - I Just Want You
Scene Three: Ghost in the Shell - Fish Silent Cruise
Scene Four: Fullmetal Alchemist - Brothers
Scene Five: Nightwish - Over the Hills and Far Away

Walk Away
"It's settled then..."

The voice was grizzly. Old and hardened, but with a certain amount of regret and wisdom that its owner allowed to slip through. In other situations, it might have been possessed of a sagely kindness. It was parental, and in a way, she had come to view the man behind it as something of a father figure.

His name was Sarutobi. No given name, just Sarutobi. It was some sort of tradition among those who wore the name and burden of Hokage; they gave up their names and individual livelihoods for the sake of the village. Her grandfather and great uncle had both been that way. Sarutobi only kept his family name because he had been a stubborn little imp when Nidaime had passed the title to him. He sat in front of her, looking old and ragged in spite of his near godhood among shinobi. His skills, his livelihood... He was locked away behind a desk and a layer of white and red clothing.

It was an image that Tsunade burned into her mind. It reinforced her belief that she was doing the right thing.

"It is," she replied, involuntarily clenching her hand into a fist.

"I take it you'll be leaving--"

"As soon as the girl is ready, yes," she cut him off. Anyone else -- even her teammates -- would have likely been disciplined for interrupting him. She was the closest thing this village had to a princess though. She got her way about a lot of things. This was just another example of that.

"... Tsunade... Are you sure about this?" Sarutobi asked, having removed his hat and looked up at her. It wasn't the gaze of the Third Hokage though, or even her old mentor and father figure. He was looking at her as a friend, and with pure understanding.

"If I really had my way, Ape-face, I wouldn't even take her with me," she replied blandly. It was the truth.

He never replied. She took the prolonged silence and his inevitable glance towards the window as her cue to leave.

So she did.

Without a single good-bye, Tsunade turned around and made for the door. She pushed it open, stepped out into the hallway and immediately registered the sound of someone else pushing it shut. The ANBU were absent. She knew most of them were women, and had the sneaking suspicion that they were all dealing with hangovers that could kill an ox.

"Come to try and talk me out of it?" She asked without looking back. The look on her face was initially unreadable, but a heartless smirk soon formed, whether she wanted it to or not.

"Stop reading me like that. Bad enough when Snake-eyes does it," Jiraiya replied. His voice sounded like a perilous mixture of annoyance, concern, anger and what she almost wanted to call fear.

When she finally looked back at him, she found herself with another image burned into her memory: Gallant Jiraiya at his most vulnerable. Clad in his trademarked short-sleeved fire-bottomed kimono, hair in a ponytail down to the back of his waist and trying desperately to put up a wall of unreadable fury. It was good that he was failing. When Jiraiya snapped, he had a way of killing people so thoroughly that other villages had named him Konoha's White Demon, among other things.

"Say what you want. I'm leaving as soon as I can, and I don't intend to ever come back here or see your face again," she stated coldly.

"Why?" He asked, finally cracking a bit. Anger was winning out, supplimented by fear.

"Because there's nothing left for me here and I've got too much blood on my hands to keep going like this."

"You could start over ag--"

"With you, right?" She asked, one brow raising in vindictive amusement.

"I didn't say that," Jiraiya snorted out.

"You were thinking it," she replied, the brow lowering again. "You've always been thinking it."

For a moment she stared at him. He stared back. Then it happened.

Jiraiya had always been a remarkably hot-tempered man for a shinobi. He was loud, arrogant to the point of being egomaniacal and had all the restraint of a crazed frog in mating season. Usually, she really could read him with just a look at his face...

But something cold came over his expression right then and there. All that boiling emotion that had kept her and so many others anchored to sanity -- that white-headed goof who had tried comforting her when both Nawaki and Dan died -- froze over in an instant. She could almost see the look in his eyes harden and age by ten years, and at some level, it really did scare her.

"Fine. Leave," he said, more as an order than anything else.

Tsunade smiled bitterly. Pure spite alone made her want to stay right now. She wanted someone else to hurt like she did, and Jiraiya, as always, was the most available target.

"What's wrong? Did I strike a nerve?" She asked, turning towards him completely. Her green kimono rustled slightly, heels clicking several times on the hard wood floors.

"Yes, you bitch," Jiraiya answered abruptly. His willingness to actually fight back for once caught her off guard for a few seconds. Before she could try to strike into the open wound though, he was within arm's reach.

Tsunade could have blocked the hit to her cheek. She could have stopped it short and given him a punch that would've sent him sailing straight through Sandaime's office and out of the building.

She could have, but she didn't. Midway in bringing her arm up, something stopped her and the blow connected. It wasn't hard enough to break bone or even leave a bruise, but the sting of it ripped straight through to her very core. It bit into some part of her heart that she had thought was dead and gone, lying next to Nawaki and Dan's funeral urns in her old apartment. She could feel Jiraiya's knuckles plowing into her cheek, bone rattling against both, before swiping across her mouth and pulling away.

When it was all said and done, both of them stood there. His shadow cast long over her, and for once, she bowed her head at him. There was a red spot on her cheek, and her hands sagged at her sides. He seethed again, seeming to warm back up into the usual predictable mess. She felt relief at that...

Until she made eye contact with him, anyway.

At that moment, Tsunade instinctively felt the number of people she had killed go up by one.

"Get outta my village, you fucking coward," he bit out, now only a foot or so from her face. His eyes were narrowed, his voice was murderously low and his face looked set in stone.

It was the first time in years that Tsunade was rendered completely speechless by him. She couldn't even move to fight back. It was almost the same as when Orochimaru had learned to paralyze people in terror with nothing but a glance.

A few seconds later, the door to Sarutobi's office cracked. Tsunade blinked.

When she opened her eyes, Jiraiya was gone without so much as a trace. There wasn't even a gust of air rushing in to fill the void he'd left behind in his wake.

When the Third Hokage finished pulling open his door, Tsunade was gone as well. The door to the stairwall slammed shut in her wake.

Later that night, when it was all said and done, Jiraiya found himself sitting in a familiar spot atop Konoha's border wall. He was alone, with only a bottle of cheap sake and a few small, drunken frogs for company. It was a nightly routine anymore. Everytime he came back to the village from a mission, he would come up onto the wall, stare into the skies and later go looking to find a girl and make her cry out to God. So far, he had done it without fail on almost every return, with very few exceptions.

Tonight was one such night where the routine was broken. Not because he had come back from a mission, and not because he needed to get juiced up with some liquid confidence before going out and finding a companion for the night. In fact, he had been up here since earlier in the day, and outside of a short-lived conversation with Orochimaru, he hadn't come down once.

"Stupid bitch," he muttered out with disdain, taking another sip of the bottle and watching as a frog rolled onto its back and started spasming. Taking that to mean it was paying attention to him, he continued.

"She 'n' 'Chimaru both. Bitch an' an asshole. Both of 'em're just so con... Co... Happy to wallow in 'eir pity 'n'... Whate'er the hell's Oro's problem," he said with a snort.

Earlier today, he had finally raised a hand against Tsunade. He had always known he could kill her if he really wanted to, but today, he had literally had to stop himself from tearing her head off in the middle of headquarters. For a long time, he had harbored a level of mixed contempt and care for her, and in all of their arguements and jousting matches, he had never let the contempt win out. Even when she had struck him, he had restrained himself. Even when she flirted with Orochimaru, fell for that Dan guy and intentionally picked at his nerves until they were raw and bloody, he had never struck out at her.

Today that changed. And a part of him -- that part that scared the shit out of him -- had enjoyed it. The part of him that gave rise to the moniker of White Demon Jiraiya loved every second of that shocked look on her face. The rest of him had been muted by it, and when Sarutobi almost intervened, he had only barely had the presence of mind to make himself scarce.

Touton no Jutsu. Transparent Escape. It was a trick he had devised as a kid, and though he had updated the technique a bit over the years, it was still essentially the same as it had been back when he had been tied to a log by Sarutobi. Even when he was drunk and upset, it never ceased to amuse him how such an easy technique threw off so many people.

Soon enough though, thoughts shifted back from Transparent Escape to Orochimaru and Tsunade. More so the latter of the two.

"Chickenshit slug-girl," he said to himself before taking another sip from the bottle.

A few seconds later, he heard the colossal wooden-and-metal doors of Konoha's eastern gate slam shut. When he looked down, he saw two people walking away from the village. One was a young girl with short black hair, wearing a dark blue kimono and leading a piglet on a leash. He recognized her as Shizune -- Dan's niece. The other was a beautiful young woman with blonde hair tied back into a single thick ponytail, wearing a dark green kimono and holding a travel bag slung over one shoulder.

For a few moments, he watched her. Her back was turned to him, and her posture said nothing. The girl was confused and somewhat sad just to look at, but she was nothing more than a minor detail.

At least, the woman stopped. Jiraiya knew he should have looked away. He could have simply leaned back and vanished from sight without even having to make any real effort at it. He didn't though.

When she finally craned her neck and looked back, they made eye contact. It lasted for only a second, but it felt like an eternity blew by. In that moment, the image of Tsunade walking away was burned into his mind, and something told him that he wouldn't be able to forget it no matter how much he drank. No matter how many women he went to bed with and no matter how many battles he fought, that one look was going to be locked into his memory until the day Death coiled its icy fingers around his throat and ripped him from this mortal coil.

When it was over though, she simply looked away and continued to walk. Shizune seemed to ask something to her, but he couldn't hear and the girl didn't echo her new teacher's look back. Rather than watch the exit any longer, Jiraiya turned his gaze towards the still-spastic frog in front of him.

Whatever it was about that moment, it had rendered him completely sober. He doubted he would even have a hangover tomorrow, if he slept at all tonight. His senses became as sharp and alert as they ever were, and his reactions were as fine as the edge of a razor.

It was something he proved a few minutes later when a pair of feet scraped a landing across the top of the wall. Jiraiya sprang up and whipped about, flinging the mostly empty bottle at his guest like it was a simple shuriken, then drawing his hands through a trio of seals and--

Stopping cold on the fourth seal.

"Oh," he said, lowering his hands back to his sides as Sarutobi lowered the bottle and corked it, unphased by what had just happened. The old man was still in his Hokage outfit.

"I see you're taking this about as roughly as Orochimaru described," Sarutobi pointed out with a bland mixture of worry and amusement. He looked tired.

"What the hell do you expect?" Jiraiya sneered, flopping back onto his rear and coming less than an inch from splattering drunken frog on his ass.

"I expect you to compose yourself like a proper Konoha Jounin," Sarutobi answered, unphased. Slowly, he set the bottle down onto the wall, then straightened up and put his hands behind his back.

For a few seconds, neither man spoke a word. Jiraiya fumed and Sarutobi stared at the sky.

"The stars are beautiful out tonight," he commented. Jiraiya grimaced.

"What did you come here for?" He asked, cutting straight to the point.

"To check up on you, among other things," Sarutobi answered truthfully. "You are one of my children after all," he pointed out as an afterthought. It wasn't a blood relation, but the Third tended to view anyone Jiraiaya's age and younger as being one of his children. Some Hokage thing about the entire village being one big family.

He thought it was a load of horse shit, but right now it felt comforting.

"She really left us," Jiraiya said, his voice dulled more by sadness than booze. He wouldn't cry about it though. He hadn't shed tears since the day he had made his first kill. A nameless missing-nin from the Mist Village. He'd jammed a kunai through the man's left eye and right into his brain so forcefully that it had broken his neck. It had been to protect then-Jounin Sarutobi. The old fart had intentionally put himself in danger just to force Jiraiya into making a kill.

But even that felt far away now.

"I know. Our little princess has been through a lot lately," Sarutobi answered.

"Keh. So've we all," Jiraiya muttered.

"She lost her little brother and the love of her life in the span of two months. Do you know she can't actually look at blood anymore without having a nervous breakdown?" Sarutobi asked, finally looking back down at Jiraiya.

"... Whoop-de-doo," the younger man said. "I lost the love o' my life too. Don't see me bitchin' about it."

Sarutobi stared at him for a few seconds. Jiraiya could almost hear the cogs grinding in the old Ape-face's head.

"Why'd she take the kid anyway?" He asked, looking up at the old man while leaning back against an upraised portion of the wall.

"It was the only way to let her go without having to put her down as a missing-nin. Technically, with Shizune as her Genin apprentice, she's operating in a kind of working retirement. Her skills are passed on to the next generation, but she doesn't have to live the shinobi lifestyle," Sarutobi answered with a grim sense of... Jiraiya couldn't quite peg it as disappointment, but he dearly wanted to.

"Coward," he muttered again, gaze shifting towards the sake.

"Try not to think of her too harshly," Sarutobi advised. "Hatred like that only leads to a skewed vision of the world around you. Not a good thing when you could be handling a team of Genin soon."

Jiraiya felt his brow twitch.

"You're throwing a buncha brats at me?" He snorted.

"Three newly graduated Genin, actually. I can't quite recall their names, but Koharu speaks highly of them," Sarutobi replied. "One wishes to become the Fourth Hokage, the other two dream of becoming the new Sannin," he added with a bit of amusement. Jiraiya just grimaced.

"Throw 'em at Orochimaru," he said. "Doesn't he mow through Genin by the dozen these days?"

Sarutobi paused. Then it became his turn to grimace, though he didn't actually speak a word in reply.

Orochimaru had a poor track record with Genin teams. Out of the nine rookies assigned to him, only one -- a girl named Mitarashi Anko -- was still alive. The circumstances regarding their deaths were mysterious, and several had gone missing weeks in advance of when their bodies were found. Not even the ANBU had been able to figure out what was going on. The only people who suspected anything were Jiraiya, Sarutobi and Tsunade, and well...

Tsunade was gone, Sarutobi was in denial and Jiraiya chalked it up to his sheer heartlessness in battle and in training.

"I'd rather them go to you," Sarutobi finally said.

"Fine," Jiraiya replied, hauling himself up on bare feet. He never wore his sandals when he came up here.

"You'll do it then?"

"Yeah," Jiraiya answered, firmly this time. Again, he looked off, just in time to catch Tsunade and Shizune vanishing into the thick forest that surrounded the village. For the first time all day, the white-haired man gave a smile and meant it.

"Could be fun..."

Four years ago, the Third Hokage had been a man in denial.

Tonight, he was a man on a mission. Flanked by both his oldest son and Koharu's daughter, Sarutobi blew through the sewers at break neck speeds. Their feet pounded across the surface of the water without doing more than causing short-lived ripples. It had rained recently, and the sewers' acrid stench did well to disguise the scent of death that he was starting to smell. Everything in him was screaming to turn back. To run away and forget that tonight had ever happened.

But he couldn't.

Earlier today, the Fourth Hokage had been named. It had been a dark horse candidate who took the title. A youth who was only just sixteen and couldn't even legally drink yet. Jiraiya's brightest student. A blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jounin who had become known as Konoha's Yellow Flash.

It had not been Orochimaru.

Four years ago, the Third Hokage had been a man in denial.

Earlier tonight, his denial had been shattered when a young girl had staggered into his office as he was cleaning it out. Her name was Anko. Orochimaru's sole-surviving apprentice and a newly dubbed Genin to boot. Sarutobi had known her as a rash, impulsive little brat who was infatuated with snakes, sharp objects and death.

When she had come to him, she was soaked through her clothes in blood and covered with what looked like tattoos styled after black flames. She was screaming through tears, raving incoherently about her master's experiments and teetering on the brink of death. By the time Sarutobi and the others had calmed her down enough, the newly minted Fourth had been able to put a seal in place to inhibit whatever was happening to her.

After that, Sarutobi had exorcised the last of his authority, assembled his most trusted ANBU and gone on a mission. Alone. Much to his successor's objections.

Four years ago, the Third Hokage had been a man in denial.

Tonight, as the clock struck midnight, he slipped into a doorway behind his teammates and immediately ground to a halt.

The room they had barged into was nothing short of a chamber of horrors. In all his years as a ninja, and for all the missions where he had seen torture, done torture, killed, maimed and been injured, he had never seen something like this. At least fifteen bodies were immediately visible, many lining the two walls in front of him. The others -- or rather, what little remained of them -- were sprawled out on wooden mats across the floor. The only exception were a pair of bloody lower legs and feet sticking out of a vase.

At the center of it all, a single man stood, using a surgical kunai to pick apart another corpse as if he hadn't even noticed the sudden intrusion. His hair was down to his lower back, and his skin as white as paper. He wore the uniform of a Konoha Jounin.

For a few seconds, the only sound that Sarutobi could register was the sound of metal scraping through bone and blood swishing around in an open wound that he couldn't see. Then he heard a very low, delightful sounding snicker, like the hiss of a snake.

"It looks like you've finally found me..."

Four years ago, the Third Hokage had been a man in denial.

"How... Unfortunate..."

Tonight, he was a man whose heart had broken into a thousand pieces.

Exactly one week ago, Jiraiya had returned from a mission in the dead of night to find two ANBU and Sarutobi limping back to headquarters. He had drilled them for information, almost attacking them before the old man had finally told him the truth. An hour later, Jiraiya had left the village as fast as his legs could carry him. He had defied the orders of two Hokage and smashed through a team of guards at the wall before plowing through the forest atop a frog the size of a horse-drawn carriage.

He had spent three days chasing Orochimaru, believing somehow that he could bring him back. Three days without food, water or rest, going off of nothing but soldier pills and a prayer. He didn't want to be the only one of the Sannin to still be in Konoha. For all the emnity between he and Orochimaru, the Snake-eyed bastard was still the closest thing he had to a brother, and his best friend after only the Yondaime.

In the end, he found Orochimaru.

He pleaded with him. For how long, he didn't know, but he begged Orochimaru to come back under the rationale that he was simply too valuable to try and bring to justice for the wrongs he had done. He had tried reason, and when that failed he tried pure emotion, counting on some sort of brotherly feeling that he was only just now starting to realize was always one-sided.

When emotions failed, he had tried resorting to violence. They fought. For an entire day and a night, Jiraiya tried to beat some sense into Orochimaru, going through jutsu-fuelled swamps, summonings and even pulling out the Rasengan technique of his student to try and win.

He lost.

Orochimaru had intended to kill him, but Touton no Jutsu had paid off again.

Jiraiya escaped by the skin of his teeth, and for two days, he had struggled back towards Konoha. He only lived because an ANBU team found him on the third day and brought him back by nightfall.

Now, a week later, he was laying in a hospital bed. Medic-nins had taken care of most of his injuries, and in some cynical way, he half-expected Tsunade to come storming through the door and beat the crap out of him. Not for failing a mission that had never even been authorized, but for coming back in such poor shape. Or coming back at all. In his mind's eye, he saw her as wanting to either kill him or keep him in perfect health, and for the most part, it had always been a true assessment of her character. She always wanted to either kill him for something -- either a grope, an insult or God knows what else -- or to keep him in perfect health simply for being her friend. Her real friend.

He wasn't her friend anymore. And she wasn't his. And that stung like hell just to think about.

But he still expected her to rampage through that door, perhaps trailed by a cute girl with a pig, and beat the living hell out of him.

Instead though, when that door finally popped open, another blonde walked in.

... Except that it wasn't a woman.

A blue-eyed young man in a Jounin's outfit and a flamboyant looking vest that ran down to his ankles let himself in instead, much to the protesting look of a nurse. He ushered her out with that same carefree smile he always used, then politely shut the door in her face and turned around.

The smile was gone. Perhaps, in some way, it had never been there at all. The young man known as the Fourth Hokage had always been a soft heart, but he had also formed a layer of solid iron on top of it. He no longer threw up after hours of praying at the Cenotaph anymore, though Jiraiya still found it somewhat amusing how he had gotten into sewing over the past few years. Yondaime had met his girlfriend through sewing classes, and he had reinvented the ANBU uniform as a result of his own skills.

"Come to chew me out?" Jiraiya asked simply. When the smile wasn't on his face, the Fourth was a truly terrifying sight to behold.

"No. I know why you did it," Yondaime answered impassively. "And I would've probably done the same in your place, so I don't really have any grounds to discipline you at all."

There was a pause. Jiraiya's brow quirked up against one of the bandages on his forehead.

"... Not that anything can discipline you to begin with, Ero-sama," he added with the same grin he'd been wearing when he first entered.

Jiraiya rolled his eyes.

"I'm just glad you're alive," Yondaime said, and very clearly meant it. He was every bit as expressionable as Jiraiya himself still was at times. It was part of why they got along so well. The boy was the closest thing he would ever have to a son, which was why he had favored him over even Orochimaru and Sarutobi.

"Thanks, runt," he said, and meant it just as much.

With that, Jiraiya sat up, much to the protests of his aching back, and cracked his neck.

"But I've got some bad news..."

"You want to retire," Yondaime replied with a soft tone.

"... God damn it, now you're reading me," Jiraiya sputtered out.

"I don't blame you," Yondaime said, ignoring Jiraiya's complaint and instead reaching into his vest. A second later, he had drawn out a small scroll -- maybe six inches tall at the most.

"I want to leave the village," Jiraiya replied, looking at the scroll.

Wordlessly, Yondaime opened it up on the end Jiraiya's bed, then formed a quick seal and planted a hand on it. With a puff of smoke, it appeared. A red vest, a greyish-green gi shirt and matching pants. All of it neatly folded and pressed, with a forehead protector that had horns like an ogre. A mesh undershirt and matching fingerless gloves with colored metal plates on the back. It all looked inherently stylish even though it was nothing but a well coordinated pile on the bed right now.

"This is a gift," Yondaime explained, still ignoring what Jiraiya had just said. "Since you encouraged me to find something to vent with, I decided to take up sewing and all. I hope you like it."

"I do," Jiraiya replied, forcing himself to stand up in spite of the annoying popping sounds coming from his knees and ankles.

"I can't let you leave the village if you're going to retire," the Fourth stated, folding the scroll back up and tucking it into his Jounin vest. Then he smiled again, and Jiraiya felt his spirits rise a bit. "But I have an alternative..."

"And that would be?"

"Working retirement," his former student answered. "Go abroad, but remain on call should we need you. Keep tabs on Orochimaru, and on any other threats you deem necessary. I've already taken you off the active roster, but you're the hardest working ninja Konoha's got. I'd rather not lose you that easily, Ero-sama," Yondaime said, his smile fading a bit as he sought eye contact.

Jiraiya replied with a smirk.

"You're a shrewd little son of a bitch, ya know that?" He asked.

"I learned from the best."

Jiraiya reached out and scruffed the Hokage's hair. Anyone else who did that probably would have lost an arm.

"And speaking of hobbies," Yondaime began, looking a little more worried now. "Why don't you have one?"

"Never had the time," Jiraiya replied.

"You'll have plenty of time now. Why not take up art?" The Fourth asked, tucking his hands into his longvest's pockets.

Jiraiya smirked.

"Why the hell not?" He asked.

When he finally got out of the hospital, another month had passed. During that time, Jiraiya's twenty-fourth birthday came and went with little fanfare. Yondaime sent him a cake, Sarutobi's younger son, Asuma, delivered him a Kage-sized scroll with a note hanging from it that said something to the effect of, Do what you will with it.

When he stepped out into the street, he could almost feel his newfound freedom coursing through his veins. After 1,839 missions, he was truly free now...

He wore the outfit given to him by his former student. The scroll from Sarutobi hung from his lower back, a massive blank slate with which he planned on helping to start his new life. The sun almost glittered off of the new forehead protector, though the old one was still tucked away in his new overshirt. His sandals clicked a few times against the concrete, and when he finally lowered his eyes from the sky, he found himself looking out across a surprisingly empty street.

His only fellow was an old man in a white robe that ran down to the ground and pooled about his feet. He wore a tired smile that made him look even older than he actually was -- downright ancient, in fact. His hair was slicked back, though he was also balding a bit.

He stood before Jiraiya on the other side of the street, beckoning him closer, and without a word, Jiraiya did just that.

When they were within an arm's reach, Sarutobi handed him an envelope with a leaf green seal on it.

"And this is?"

"A letter from Tsunade," Sarutobi replied. "It arrived a few days ago, but I felt you would be best off reading it only after you were out of the hospital."

Jiraiya nodded, making it a point to tuck the letter into his shirt. After that, he clasped the old man on the shoulder and smiled.

"S'long, you dirty old ape. Keep an eye on the runt for me," he said. Sarutobi just nodded with a smile on his face.

After that, Jiraiya walked away. The streets seemed unusually empty that day, but he ran into one more visitor on his way out.

At the eastern gate, the Fourth Hokage stood waiting. His hands were again in his pockets, and though he was smiling, it wasn't the same carefree look that he so often wore. He was losing the closest thing he had ever had to a father.

"Just the man I wanted to see," Jiraiya greeted him. "I have a gift of my own for you..."

For the next half an hour, the two spoke about a technique with nine seals. A suicide technique, to be used only in the most dire of circumstances. Jiraiya called it Shiki Fuujin -- the Death God Technique. When it was all said and done, Jiraiya hugged his former student, slapped him on the back and told him to live long enough to die of old age, have six kids and give rise at least one future Hokage. Yondaime firmly saluted him and that was that.

Jiraiya turned and left.

Some time later, he purchased a set of art supplies and stopped at a hotel. That night, he sat down for the first time and began putting pen and brush to paper.

His first attempt ended up being a sketch of a beautiful young blonde woman bathed in moonlight. She had a sad, enchanting look about her, and though Jiraiya knew that it was just a picture, he couldn't help but think that she was looking back at him almost pleadingly.

He never kept the sketch though. When he completed it, he stared at it for a few minutes and then pulled out the letter that Tsunade had sent him, still tucked away in a sealed envelope. He burned both of them without ever reading the letter, and he never regretted it for a second.

His second attempt ended up being similar to the first: It was of a beautiful young blonde woman bathed in moonlight. Rather than a sad look that cried for some sort of resolution though, she had a come hither stare. A few minutes after he finished inking her, a name came to mind for the series she would star in.

He would call it Icha Icha Paradise...

And in the end, perhaps he would find his own paradise by writing it.


Author's Note: Glad to've gotten that out of my head. Jiraiya wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote it.

All of this is based primarily on the manga and a theory of mine regarding the time and reasons that each of the Sannin left for. I tried to avoid giving Yondaime a name(in spite of that whole spiel about him being named Uzumaki Arashi or whatever). I also tried to avoid pinning down the names of those two ANBU who were with Sarutobi, though I did identify them as Koharu's daughter and Sarutobi's oldest son. I figured they were too young to be Koharu and Homura(least that's the impression I had), and I wasn't really able to come up with anything else.

The bit about Asuma being Sarutobi's youngest son, and Sarutobi giving up his given name but keeping his family name are all personal conjecture. I believe Asuma is Sarutobi's second son, and Konohamaru is his nephew. I almost had Kurenai make a similar appearance as one of Anko's friends, but decided against it.

I also think Anko was the one to tip off Sarutobi.

I may have botched the timeline a bit, but I tried to keep it all relatively in-line with Canon. Hope you enjoyed it o.o

Sh33p out.