A work in progress. Consider this a fluke; it is something I rarely do, chapter fics, that is. Of the (now) forty stories I've authored, this will only be the seventh that is chaptered.

They were still discussing the topic that had sprung from one of their drunken mouths some nights ago. He couldn't remember who it had been but the truth was that it was an interesting topic to think about and he'd been doing so quite a bit since it'd come up. In fact, he was still doing it as he leaned against the wall with crossed arms beside the table of jabbering idiots. His mouth quirked in wry correction; they were only idiots when mixed with alcohol. Well…he held Genma exempt from this. How that man could do some of the things he did when sober…

He slid another look at the table, eyes passing over an obviously smiling and terribly amused Kakashi as he joined in laughing at a stupid act courtesy of another.

Yes. It was an interesting topic for consideration, alright. He would have to speak to Tsunade about that tomorrow.

"No, really, Tsunade," he began in a tone bordering outright pleading for her to just listen to what he was really getting at. "I think we should have an in-depth discussion about this. Just think," he said, gesturing with a hand as he leaned on a wall again, "such a match would produce a clan enemies would rue to reckon with."

She'd merely looked at him, humoring his latest idea with half-lidded eyes and depleting patience.

"Please." His voice was quiet, serious, and she found her brows drawing together as she contemplated his mood. "Can't you just see it?"

She could. The Hatake chakra and outstanding genius capacity for tactics, intelligence, and combat combined with the Haruno control and impressive intellect in her own right would meet in a most formidable union. Not to mention the Hatake hound blood pact. What a lethal combination that would be. She shivered and he gave a wicked smile.

"I see you do." That damned knowing smile really was wicked.

"I don't know if that's even plausible, Jiraiya," she said with a frown, large eyes reading into his giddy posture. "They're just…so different. There's no telling if they're even 'compatible' in that sense."

"I'll be sure to look further into it, question where it's needed," he said, speaking to her just as much as to himself and nodding. She threw him a caustically skeptic look at his self pep talk. "If he doesn't start moving, the remainder of his clan will go the way of the Uchiha. It's not like he's got a lot of time on his hands. And he was little Yondaime's kid, after all, so I gotta do something ."

"No, he was Sakumo's child." Tsunade let slip a scowl, memories and voice more than a little bitter. "The Yondaime was not Kakashi's father. And why do you feel the need to look after him? He's a grown man."

He threw a gauging look, his features pinched at her palpable resentment. "Someone's got to. He's got no one else. And he was more a father to him than Sakumo was." Another look. "Don't tell me you're going to let his failures get in the way."

She huffed in indignation, looking away to avoid his accusatory eyes before shifting back to the documents before her. "It was his own fault about Kakashi."

"And you intend to hold Kakashi responsible for the actions of an adult when he was not in the know? Would have been powerless to stop it?"

"I don't hold anything against Kakashi. He's a magnificent ninja." There was hurt in her quiet voice, a long-instilled pain, and he could tell from the way her breath hitched that it resided in her breast. Her words were whispers of forbidden thoughts, unchangeable regrets. "…Why couldn't he just be a little older…I just be a little younger?"

His face fell into something between pity and sympathy. So her infatuation with Sakumo had carried over to the son, as well. The corner of his lips quirked downwards; nevertheless, the status of her true feelings on the matter was a situation that couldn't be changed.

"So is that what this has all been about? Is that why this isn't 'plausible', because it's not with you? Is that why you've kept him on near constant active mission status for all this time? To have excuses to interact with him? To keep him unavailable?"

His look was cool and assessing and indifferent, although he didn't feel nearly all that as he should have. And he didn't know what to think – to be glad or not – that she'd met it with such a scalding one of her own. Her reply was just as heated.

"Of course not!" Those eyes were crowned by deeply angled brows. "As if I would be so unprofessional as to let personal feelings get involved with work!" A weighted pause. "Not that there's any there…in that regard. Besides, the age difference between he and I is as comparable as between him and her. I think it would be some kind of burden, eventually, in some way. Different brackets have different concerns, behavior…wants. Knowing him, he'd be too aware and calculating of how it could be affecting her."

She glanced away in a manner slightly comic, breaking the tension somewhat. "Honestly, can't you think of any situation beyond possible sexual undertones?"

"There's hardly anything 'possible' about it," he mumbled grumpily, jumping on her response.


"Sorry. Sorry."

She knew where his heart lay. He'd had quite the soft spot for the boy and student who'd become the yondaime. And because of his unique connection to that student, Kakashi had inherited that affection to a great degree. Yondaime had been so proud and nurturing of the young Hatake, and over the years as he really got to know him, he could see why.

"It'd be a shame to lose that kind of power," he mused.

She knew what he meant.

Nodding, she chose to voice her agreement. It was only natural and expected of the hokage to acquiesce the importance of blood best kept within one's village. "I know."

Returning to her work, she gave all the pretenses of completely brushing the former teammate off to complete her revising of documents. "Play your game, have your fun, but please don't damage them beyond salvation."