Title: What Remains

Author: Sintari

Rating: T

Words: 235

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

I wasted time and now time doth waste me. – Shakespeare

Jiraiya doesn't recognize himself when he looks in the mirror. Rumor has it that with age comes wisdom, but Jiraiya has yet to find any compelling evidence to prove it. Instead, he's found that old people can be just as confused, and hard-headed and lovesick as young ones. The only difference is that old people should know better.

Sometimes, when Jiraiya looks at Tsunade, he doesn't recognize her either. And it's not just because the illusion genjutsu she perpetuates doesn't get it quite right. (Though it doesn't. She was always prettier than that.) Maybe it's because somewhere along with losing almost everyone she's ever loved, Tsunade ceased being the girl who expected great things from her life and became the woman whose life turned out exactly as she suspected.

And Jiraiya isn't sure when he went from hoping they would find their perfect time ("I love her") to realizing that time has passed them by ("I always loved her"). But now she sits behind her desk in the Hokage tower, pushing papers instead of punching enemy nin, and he knows he'd be doing her a disservice if he confessed to her now. So he mock-salutes her just to piss her off and then heads into town where he buys a whore with a face like just hers was thirty years ago.

They go to her room, and Jiraiya is happy that there are no mirrors.