Greyscale

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Pairing: Tsunade/Shizune; Anko/Shizune
Rating: R
Warnings:Strongly implied girlsex.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, or any of the places or characters mentioned in that series and this piece of fanfiction. No profit is being made, I write for free.

Notes: This has taken me forever to write, and even longer to post. D: I apologise for posting it a few weeks ago and then taking it down not long after, but I really didn't feel happy with it. I made some changes, and feel a lot happier with the result -- hopefully I'm not the only one.
One of these days, I swear I will write a happy Shizune.

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The nights pressed heavily in on Shizune's bed, the brief time she spent sleeping there these days. She would close her eyes and rest, but sleep rarely came to her -- not even in the chair at her desk, the couch in the Hokage's waiting room, or the bench in the park when she would try to catch some sun.

This is not to say that Shizune had problems sleeping. She would have gladly spent more time doing it; the problem was her schedule and the amount of work she was left to do. There were capable people all around her, capable and sensible enough not to let themselves get lumbered with other people's work. Shizune simply wanted to please.

She scratched out letters slowly, filling in papers from her seat in front of the town gates. Sitting in the afternoon sun, Shizune worked until her head nodded forward and she was on the cusp of sleep. The bench was hard on her back; without warning, it moved slightly underneath her. She jolted suddenly into wakefulness, kunai out and in her hand before she had even opened her eyes, pointing at the base of the intruder's throat. She removed it quickly with an apologetic smile once she recognised who exactly had joined her. "Anko," she murmured, rubbing her eyes with the back of a closed fist. "So sorry."

The other woman looked puzzled, but not in the least worried. "Shizune," she replied, lips quirking, the disposition of her face changing with the movement. "There's no need for any apology. My mistake. I should've left you to sleep."

Shizune opened her mouth and made a noise of surprise, a flare of pink rising to her cheeks; she felt suddenly stupid, the feeling overtaking any drowsiness. "Ah… no! I wasn't-- I wasn't sleeping!"

Anko smiled and said nothing, simply leaned further back on the bench and crossed one leg over the other. Shizune watched her for a few seconds before doing the same; she pressed the edge of her kunai discreetly into the cloth covering her leg, and the bite of metal was enough to wake her up. She suddenly wished it were colder, that the sun weren't shining quite so brightly. The warmth encouraged her need for sleep until it was almost unbearable.

"Shizune," Anko said, startling her companion. "Put the kunai away and go home." She turned and smiled at Shizune as though it was a request, but the younger girl was practised enough to spot a command when she heard it. Years of working with Tsunade had accustomed her to the fine line between humour and authority.

So, turning her face away to hide a yawn, Shizune nodded. Part of her had wanted to argue, to say that she was okay -- but this was better. "Okay." She stood and collected her papers, smiling at the other woman as she watched her. "I'll go." She headed the way she had come, back to work.

Shizune was silently apologetic for lying.

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"Tsunade-sama," Shizune started, suddenly very aware of her fidgeting hands.

The Hokage looked up at her, the ghost of a smile on her lips. "Yes?" she asked, eyes searching her apprentice's face.

Shizune found it increasingly difficult not to let it show, the strain she felt -- there were times when she was on the verge of asking for some time off, time to let herself rest. But she knew that she wouldn't be able to relax away from all of this, the daily workings of Konoha.

That was what Shizune told herself.

"I just wondered," she began, watching the slight frown gather on Tsunade's face; the words slipped from her tongue, melting into embarrassment. Suddenly she didn't know what to say. "Would you like rice for dinner? I'll bring some back from--"

The look on Tsunade's face cut her off. "You don't need to worry," she said, lips tilting in a smile. "Sakura's out getting something now."

Ah. Shizune smiled and nodded, eyes closing as if in relief. "Of course." She turned and headed for the door, leaving quietly; the continued scratching of Tsunade's pen was the only sound to follow her out.

Closing the door, Shizune walked back to her desk and calmly placed her folders and papers in the top drawer, locked it, and turned to look out of the window. The sun was hovering over the horizon, touching the sky pink and orange and every shade in between. A beautiful evening, Shizune decided, thinking that she was glad she wouldn't have to stay. She could go home.

But the evening was too quiet, and Shizune didn't think that she really wanted to sleep at all. Still, she left the room without a sound, and said good evening to Sakura as they passed each other on the stairs; the younger girl's arms were full of bags, but Shizune offered no help.

She came to a standstill as she reached the streets, and gazed silently up at Tsunade's window. She could hear the two of them bustling about, Sakura's voice a lilt of pride and amusement, discussing her day. It became more and more difficult to turn away, the longer she looked. Like some important battle that she was losing, and she didn't have the courage to turn her back for even a moment.

"You look lost." Shizune spun round, alarmed, and was surprised to find Anko standing behind her with a grin on her face.

Sighing, Shizune frowned and planted her hands on her hips. "What is it with you and sneaking up on me?" she asked. Anko's grin widened, and she patted Shizune's shoulder reassuringly, though Shizune felt more patronised than anything else.

"It'd help if you weren't spacing out every time I saw you." She laughed, and pointed up at Tsunade's window. "What's so exciting up there, anyway?"

Shizune laughed nervously and shrugged. She could feel the heat gathering in her cheeks, and fought desperately against embarrassment. "Nothing. I've just left work to get something to eat."

Anko looked as though she was about to ask something else, but as she watched Shizune a strange look came over her face and she shrugged. "All right," she said, nodding. "Let's eat, then."

The suddenness of the comment made Shizune pause for a moment, unsure if she had heard Anko right. But the expectant smile on the other kunoichi's lips was confirmation enough; she'd seen that look before. "What?" she asked, confused.

"Dinner. Eating." Anko pulled a face. "Come on, you know what I mean. I know a place that serves good food not far away."

Shizune was confused by Anko's sudden friendliness, but she shrugged it off and smiled, glad for the distraction. "All right," she said, nodding. "Lead the way."

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A few bottles of sake later, Shizune felt more relaxed than she had in weeks.

She yawned loudly during gaps in conversation, covering her mouth with one hand. In between eating, she stretched out as fully as she could without overturning the table (she knocked over Anko's bottle only once, and ended up regretting it enough to not repeat her mistake). When she thought that Anko wasn't looking, she would close her eyes for a few seconds and take in a deep breath, fighting against drowsiness.

It didn't take much for Anko to notice. When they had finished their starters and had the last drinks from their cups, she took Shizune's elbow and said cheerily, "Right, time to get you home."

"What?" Shizune's face fell. "I'm still hungr--"

"Sleep takes precedence." Anko got to her feet and took Shizune with her, hand still hooked about her elbow. "Watch your step." She steered the younger girl out of the bar, stopping on the way to pay their bill; they stepped out into the cool night air, cheeks flushed with heat and the after-effects of alcohol.

Insects chirruped from the bushes lining the path, and the two kunoichi made their way along the street until it came to a fork. "Which way?" Anko asked, pointing first one way and then the other.

Shizune looked thoughtful for a second -- it seemed as though she hadn't taken this path for weeks. "Left," she answered, letting out a breath and blowing some hair from her forehead. "I actually wanted to eat something, you know." They followed the left path along in silence, Shizune shooting Anko accusatory glares until her grin became infectious. Finally, Shizune told Anko to stop, this was it, their feet scuffing marks into the dirt. They both turned and walked the few steps to Shizune's door.

The buzz of alcohol was under Shizune's skin, and she shivered as she took out her keys. The door was plain wood with a metal number; there was no paint or decoration of any sort. It should have been familiar. Shizune felt like she hadn't seen it for months.

Her keys clicked in the lock and the door tilted ajar, the warm evening air rushing in. Shizune took a breath, warm in the cheeks but cold almost everywhere else. "Well," she said, turning to Anko, voice quiet. She wasn't quite sure what to say. "Thanks for the meal."

Anko said nothing, eyes bright in the dark. With a small hitched breath, she leaned slowly in and pressed her lips to Shizune's, smiling.

It was difficult to know what she felt about anything, Shizune decided. A lot of things suddenly seemed to make no sense to her at all, while another set of problems suddenly resolved themselves into clearness; she felt as though she had made some important discovery and couldn't wait to understand it. Anko leaned back a fraction of an inch, breath warm against Shizune's cheek. Her face was bright with amusement.

The clarity Shizune had felt began to dissolve almost immediately, and she tried desperately to remember what Anko tasted like. It had barely been a kiss, more like skin on skin, but the smell of Anko up close had been strong enough to knock her off balance.

Shizune struggled for words. She opened her mouth to speak, but only succeeded in breathing quickly in and out. Anko's arm snuck up around her, hand pressed against the doorframe; the other leaned against the side of Shizune's neck. Smiling still, she kissed the younger girl again, eyes closed.

And suddenly Shizune could taste Anko, the bitterness of alcohol all over again, her scent lingering between them. Her tongue ran along Shizune's, fingers touching her hair.

Anko finished the kiss again, pulling back and removing her arm from beside Shizune's neck. The flush hadn't left her cheeks: Shizune wondered how much time had passed since the sake had last touched her tongue. It felt like an old memory.

Shizune turned; the two kunoichi stumbled through into the living room of her apartment, Anko waiting just inside the door while Shizune found a lamp to flick on. Light flooded one wall of the room, leaving the corners dark, the gaping doorway a shadow at Anko's back. She looked curiously around the room, face guarded.

Shizune tried not to think about the knot in her stomach, but there it was -- nervousness and fear tugging uncomfortably at her thoughts. No matter how many times she told herself not to be afraid, it pulled and refused to go away.

Looking up at Anko, Shizune smiled nervously and made a show of taking off her shoes. "Do you…" she started, pausing to steady herself; then she rephrased her thoughts. "Sit down."

Anko shook her head. "I don't think so," she murmured, resting her hand against the doorknob.

Shizune looked across at her, eyebrows knitting together. "You can stay. If you want."

Anko shook her head. "I haven't got far to walk." She swung the door open, grinned and turned her back to the room. "Goodnight, Shizune," she said, and left, shutting the door behind her with a click.

Shizune let out a tense breath and got to her feet, padding over to the door and locking it. The night was warm and still, and she felt suddenly overwhelmed by tiredness. Shizune didn't bother to change out of her clothes, didn't bother to think or touch her lips, simply made her way to her bedroom and lay down on the bed. She fell asleep almost as soon as her eyes were closed.

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This was the Hokage's desk she was sitting on. Shizune stared around; her mind took in hazy details, but most of her attention was on the woman sitting next to her.

Tsunade-sama...

Tsunade was sitting cross-legged on the desk, arms stretched out behind her. She laughed, and the sound made Shizune's throat tighten. It felt like years since she had seen that smile.

Tsunade spoke, but the words evaded Shizune's memory. She nodded along, glad to hear her sensei speak in such a way -- so happy. Shizune felt happy too, though she worried about the change. This was how it was for her, feeling this way about Tsunade, every thought punctuated by worry.

She listened to her teacher, each lilt and fall in her voice brought up from memory. But Shizune couldn't remember Tsunade ever being this happy, not in the years before she had been Hokage; not even now. Not even living their dreams.

Shizune thought of her own dream, this very thing -- Tsunade happy again, talking with her. She couldn't wish for anything else. How could she want Tsunade's lips on her throat, hands, face when she was speaking like this? The sound of Tsunade's happiness wouldn't, shouldn't ever stop. Not while Shizune could help it.

Sakura. The sound broke through the web of words. I'm so happy with her progress. She works hard and gets results. Nobody's been so successful since you.

Shizune couldn't think. She listened, so hard she felt pressure build inside her head, but thought nothing. She couldn't, couldn't think. Not with this, not like this--

Realisation hit her, and Shizune dipped her head. Not since you.

She would do what she had to, she thought. Nevermind happiness.

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Shizune worked quietly at her desk, making notes on missions for certain teams, signing things, putting others in a pile for Tsunade to read. The sun slanted through an open window, warming her back and lighting up the room. Another pleasant day. Shizune felt strangely discontent, eager to get out in the air and do a little bit of nothing for a while. Her sleep had been deep and undisturbed, and her heart had felt lighter upon waking. Things seemed less grey in the light of the morning.

No matter how hard she tried to concentrate, her mind wandered. This was why she hated the summer. The heat made things unbearable when she was working -- all she wanted to do was be outside. It was fine on missions, sleeping under the sky, but not here.

Sighing, Shizune pushed some hair from her forehead and dropped her pen. She felt good, well rested; but there was another worry in the back of her mind, that she would see Anko again and things would be--

Something tapped against the glass of the other window; Shizune turned to look. She couldn't see anything and was about to start work again when she saw a second pebble hit the glass.

Chair swinging out behind her, Shizune got to her feet and approached the window. She gazed down onto the quiet street below. There was nobody there.

Footsteps sounded on the stairs, and Shizune turned again to wait. After a moment, Anko crept into the room. She grinned, eyebrows lifting, and scratched the back of her head. "Nice day," she said. "Thought I'd pay you a visit."

Stomach tightening, Shizune laughed, not moving from her spot against the window frame. She said nothing, so Anko looked about the room; her eyes settled on the green sofa by the door.

"You don't mind, do you?" she asked, and before Shizune had a chance to answer she had seated herself on the couch. "It's hot outside." Anko grinned. "Doesn't look like you're working, anyway." She patted the seat next to her; Shizune stepped over to the sofa and sat down, facing her guest.

She thought of her dream and what it had meant. Shizune turned to Anko and smiled. "It doesn't seem like it." The other woman's leg was touching her own, and the feeling of warm skin against hers was the strangest thing.

Their lips met before she knew what she was doing, Shizune's arm resting against the couch at Anko's back. Heat flared in Shizune's stomach at the touch, her lips parting and brushing against Anko's. The warm body next to hers lifted, pressing against her. She broke the kiss and took a deep breath.

Shizune paused, then ran her hands under Anko's shirt, fingers finding the straps of her bra, shoulder blades, warm skin coming up in goosebumps under her touch. They kissed again, finding holds on the cool couch beneath them. Shizune ran her fingers along Anko's stomach; the older nin shivered and let out a breath.

"Shizune?" Tsunade called from inside her room, and one of them -- she wasn't sure which -- ended the kiss. Anko laughed quietly into Shizune's shoulder. Her fingertips curled into the small of Shizune's back.

Sighing lightly, Shizune clambered to her feet and looked down at herself. She ran her fingers through her hair, shot Anko a grin, and opened the door.

"Yes, Tsunade-sama?" she asked, leaning around the doorframe. Anko vanished from sight.

Tsunade smiled, though her face was set. "Ah. I was wondering if you could work a little later tonight, I have to go and--" She didn't finish; the look on Shizune's face cut her off.

"I'm sorry, Tsunade-sama, but I'm afraid I can't." She shook her head. Normally, Shizune would have provided a perfectly valid excuse -- she had to go on a mission, her roof was leaking and needed to get fixed -- but this time she felt as though she had nothing convincing to say.

Tsunade paused, then nodded. "All right." She looked down at her desk again and said nothing else.

Stepping out of the room, Shizune closed the door behind her and quickly surveyed the waiting room for any sign of Anko. Finding none, she took a seat at her desk and began working again.

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Time passes.

It is dark, warm, and Shizune presses against Anko and comes, hard; and though Anko is everything around her, the very beat of her heart, she feels Tsunade's hands on her breasts, fingers soft and relaxed. The thoughts are toxic: they infect each other, and before she knows what has happened, Shizune is biting her tongue to hold Tsunade's name in. It is instinct by now.

Shizune was told that if you love something, you're not afraid to let it go. It isn't her job to keep her teacher happy anymore; she has nothing left to learn from somebody who can't teach her the things she wants to know.

Shizune was told that if you love something, you're not afraid to let it go. Her nights are spent confused, wondering just who it is that has flown free.

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