Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any of its characters.
Jiraiya was many things.
He was a brilliant writer, a charming gentleman and his legendary status spoke volumes… Well one out three wasn't bad. One thing was for certain Jiraiya was no idiot.
There was a saying that time helps to heal all wounds. Apparently, it took nearly 16 for the people of Konoha to accept the constant reminder of the Kyuubi's destruction- Naruto. The night the Kyuubi attacked the Hidden Leaf Village and countless of shinobi were lost was the darkest day since the village came to exist.
The older generations gave birth to new generations ignorant of what had come to pass. And Naruto began to gain the respect he forfeited by housing the Kyuubi with him against his will. His generation didn't know why they were suppose to hate him, or why most of their parents went out of their way to ignore him. Regardless, when you're young, children only seek the approval of their parents, and if their parents hated Naruto then they would hate him too.
Slowly though, he got better, stronger and went on about his dream of one day being the next Hokage. With time, he captured the attention of his peers, and not just in the bad way, and went on to form bonds with his teammates and a few others.
Naruto didn't hold grudges, it simply wasn't his way, so when his good deeds and talents were told and strangers greeted him on the street or asked how his latest mission went, he acted like they'd been friends all along.
Jiraiya was no idiot and he knew that there were still people within the village who hated the hyperactive blonde for simply existing or as they put it 'for taking away their families and strongest Hokage of all time.' It still mystified him how they could do so choosing Naruto had been one of the hardest decisions he had made as a Hokage and shinobi of Konoha.
It was a shame things didn't turn out the way he planned and instead of being seen as a hero, the legacy of the Fourth, he was shunned and labeled an orphan. Psychologically Jiraiya could understand that it was easier to see him as a child with no family and no real ties to the village. But that didn't mean it was the correct action to take.
Taking a sip from the warm sake he watched out of the corner of his eye as his pupil held the carefully wrapped bundle in his hands like it was the biggest bowl of ramen. "Oi Ero-sennin, why'd you go and get me a gift? It isn't my birthday or anything." The confused expression on his face was almost cute on the 21 year old, but Jiraiya would never admit that out loud.
"Would you rather I take it back?" he teased.
"No!" the exuberant shinobi clutched the package tighter against him, "It's just that…..nevermind. So this is mine with no strings attached right?" the excitement was back in his eyes ad Jiraiya sighed before nodding.
Almost faster than he could blink, the wrappings were gone and Naruto stared at the white cloak in front of him. The fire dancing on the sleeves and trim made his pupil look up at him in question. "This is the best gift I've ever received Jiraiya," it was the first time since their meeting years ago that Naruto had used his real name, "but I don't think-
"Oh so you like it eh?" he asked with as much enthusiasm and cheer as he could manage. Was it just him or did the bar suddenly sound much quieter. "I figured it was time for a new change in attire. It seems like you've hit another growth sprout."
Naruto looked back down at the cloak a small smile tugging his lips.
"Well don't just sit there boy, try it on!" he said trying to encourage. This was not the reaction he was going for, Naruto had told him time and time again how the Fourth had been someone he always wanted to be like and one day be as respected as he was. Surely he would know that his idol, for lack of a better word, wore a cloak similar to that one he was holding.
Oh…..realization dawned on him, this would take a bit of manipulation of facts, "So you don't want people to know that you studied under one of the legendary sannin? I thought for sure you would be proud to wear my crest."
"Eh? What do you mean your crest?"
Signaling to the waitress that he was out of sake he turned back to his student, "I'm the last member of my clan, and since I didn't have a family of my own my crest would end with me. So when I took the Fourth as my pupil and when he proved himself to be a remarkable shinobi, I gave him a cloak similar to the one my father gave me when I became a Gennin. In a way, I guess it was a selfish way for me to pass it along." Technically, it wasn't a lie, his late pupil had taken it upon himself to carry on his sensei's crest and asked for his permission to wear it….to honor him in some way.
Talking about his student still gave him that feeling of unease so he steered the conversation preventing Naruto from asking questions or be reminded of how he died. "Anyway, since you have no clan of your own," which was really a big lie his clan had existed, the Uzumaki had just been annihilated that fateful night. , "I figured it wouldn't-
The moisture collecting in the blonde's eyes caught Jiraiya slightly off guard and his mind was screaming 'Abort! Abort!'.
"So yeah, do you want it or not?" he asked clearing his throat trying to not sound as uncomfortable as he felt. This whole thing was not going how he had planned it out. But that just went to prove that Naruto truly was the most unpredictable shinobi of Konoha.
"Yeah," was all he got for an answer as he continued to study the cloak in his hands. The waitress arrived with more sake and minutes later Naruto jumped up from the booth and put it on, drawing the attention of everyone in the bar.
"So how do I look sensei?" he asked the cheesy grin back on his face.
"Well yeah, you said that this tells people you were my sensei right? So I might as well call you sensei!" His reasoning made partial sense, but Jiraiya was still surprised, after all no one had called him sensei since his gennin team.
Smiling broadly made his way out of the booth, "That sound a whole lot better than what you usually call me. I think I could get use to that," he said patting his shoulder. "Let's get going, I need to report to that Hokage of ours before she comes looking for my head."
Nodding Naruto went to pull out his froggie pouch but Jiraiya had already laid out the money. "Consider it an early birthday present," he justified before he turned to walk out of the bar his student right behind him.
They had been gone four months from Konoha, Tsunade had asked that he take Naruto to several countries and interact with high officials and his old friend the Kazekage. Naruto didn't know that his hime was planning on stepping down from Hokage soon and needed a capable shinobi to take her place. Naruto had the physical strength and skill, his experience was lacking but that's why Jiraiya constantly came and took him for months on end. His manners and diplomatic etiquette was one of the final things that needed to be perfected, thus the latest mission.
They hadn't walked but a few feet out the door and already civilians and shiboi alike froze at the sight of a blonde man walking next to Jiraiya before nodding or smiling respectfully. "So sensei, why don't you wear your crest anymore?"
"Eh?" He'd been too busy laughing in his head to pay attention to the person right next to him. "Oh, well green just looks better on me now that I'm older." Jiraiya could have smacked himself for such a stupid answer but Naruto had truly caught him off guard.
"Yeah right nothing looks good on-, the death glare sent courtesy of the hermit stopped him mid-sentence. "So, what does the back of jacket say anyway?" he asked trying to peek over his shoulder.
"You didn't even read the back?" this time Jiraiya didn't care if he sounded irritated or not. The sheepish smile spoke volumes, rolling his eyes he responded, "It says Uzumaki."
"Oh……cool," he added and his shoulders seem to be held just a little bit higher.
Jiraiya couldn't help but smile.
Not oblivious to the different reactions from some of the villagers, Naruto's confidence was coming off of him in waves. With his chunnin vest underneath, black trousers and headband across his forehead, he was almost the exact imitation of his father.
'Take that' he thought triumphantly.
Some might have tried to deny the true lineage of Naruto, placing him in a category of orphan so they wouldn't have to think of him again as the Fouth's son. They wouldn't have to admit who he really was and treat him like a victim, like everyone else that had lost their families in the attack. After all Naruto had not only lost his Hokage, but his only real family that night. He was the true victim, the one who had suffered the most, but instead he overcame and soon he would become the next Hokage.
His late pupil had only wanted Naruto to be seen as a hero and respected by everyone, and Jiraiya would be damned if he didn't at least honor his last request. It had taken him a long time to follow through but he would rectify it now.
The Hokage tower came into view and Naruto turned back into the normal chatter box that he was. 'I'm sorry it took so long' he thought with remorse.
Stuffing his hands in his pockets, he felt the headband he acquired from Tsundade. It was shinobi tradition that a fallen shinobi be buried with their hiate. The only exception ever made was when the Yondaime begged Sarutobi that his be left for his son. When the Third had passed away his things went into storage and it was only a matter of pulling the right favors before the hiate was in his possession.
He would wait on giving this to him. Probably at the inauguration of his becoming the Hokage, then he could really have something that would link him to his father.
Jiraiya was no idiot and he would be damned if he continued to let people feign ignorance to not give Naruto the respect he deserved.
AN: Yeah, so I'm so obsessed that the Fourth is his real dad so I had to write this to get it out of my system. It seemed so much shorter in my head but I guess the plot bunnies got me. shrug Hope you liked it.