There Has To Be A Morning After

Tsunade took another drink and laughed as Shizune cringed. The outburst was the product of lots of alcohol, not anything particularly funny, when she started to ramble, "There are things I've done you'd never guess! I'd never guess! That'd make your uncle beat the shit out of the guy for thinking about it!"

"I'm sure I don't see what's so funny, Lady Tsuande."

She laughed again, "Ha, if you'd seen the men I've woken up next to you'd be laughing, too."

"Lady Tsunade I've seen some of them-"

"Some were lookers alright but others! Ugh! I thought they'd gnaw my arm off, or I would just to get away. Then there were some GOOD ones a red headed blacksmith, a mercenary, and-" She stopped herself and looked at her glass. It was empty, "Barkeep! Another round down this way." He refilled it and she took a large gulp, "Well the last one doesn't matter, but he was surprisingly satisfying. The best by far." A smile crossed her lips and she seem very far away all of a sudden.

"He was my uncle wasn't he?" She asked timidly. Not something she wanted to know of her relative.

"Actually no. He wasn't."

The girl blinked, "What?" Her uncle Don had been her lover a long time ago and that pleasantly lost look was usually reserved for him. "Not him? Then who?" Tsunade glared but she combated it with her own.

"I maybe tipsy, but not even alcohol will get me to spill that juicy tidbit. Not all the alcohol in Konoha, Shizune." She looked at her drink and frowned, "I'm not exactly proud of it and that's all you'll get out of me."

"Why?" She demanded but her mistress wouldn't say more about him.

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A year after that conversation in the bar Shizune and her mistress were approached by Orochimaru and Tsunade was offered her loved ones return to life in exchange for healing his arms. That same day Jiraya came with the news that she was chosen to be Hokage. She refused and now after the battle Naruto lay unconscious on the ground and Tsuande looking older than Shizune'd ever seen her. Jiraya just stood by watching her with a look of concern stamped on his face. It was strange being in the presents of the two Sanin, an awkwardness hung in the air like a fog. Shizune picked up the kid and began walking be hind them. She listened to them talk, Jiraya doing most of the conversing, "It must be years since I've see you. Twelve, if I recall." Tsunade just nodded and Jiraya just continued, "Never seen your actual age though. It's not bad. Don't see why you walk around in your twenties. Oh well, maybe being Hokage will lighten how serious you take yourself."

"Jiraya, shut up-" She tripped and he caught her as she fell. Blushing furiously she stood straighter, "You have always been this way, baka. Always so damn overbearing. I don't need any help so stop it. Why can't you just let me fall-Ah!" She said yanking her arm away and throwing herself off balance. He caught her again by putting an arm around her shoulders, and she looked up surprised.

"I don't know. Instinct I guess. You've used up a lot of chakra. I am not letting you go, so you might as well get over it. You hear me?"

She nodded and they continued walking. Suddenly she glared up at Jiraya, "You just wanted an excuse to touch me, you perv."

He stared ahead with a serious look on his face, "Nope. That's just a bonus."

She sighed, "Don't know why you'd want to touch this old hag."

"Why wouldn't I. It's still Tsunade under there. She just changed her packaging a bit."

"You are such an idiot." But Tsunade leaned a little more into his embrace. Making Shizune wish she was walking in front of them. She didn't get a chance to ask about it until they were out on the road again, heading for Konoha.

"Lady Tsunade?" She asked when the pair had gained a little more ground on the two of them.

"What is it, Shizune?" She said keeping her eyes on the two ahead of them.

"Was that other man Jiraya?"

"What other man?"

"The one at the top of your list of one night stands-" Tsunade had stopped in her tracks eyes wide. Then her brows furrowed in anger.

"Shizune! I can't believe you'd ask me that!"

"Well, I just got that vibe that you've seen each other naked, is all-"

"What possessed you to believe I'd bed that man?!"

"My apologies, Lady Tsunade! It was not my place to ask." It was only when they caught up to the guys that she realized her mistress never answered her question.

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It had been two years since that night but Tsunade remembered it perfectly and distinctly in her mind. He hadn't seen her in her corner booth but she could have spotted him a mile away. It'd been years since she last saw him, since the fourth's passing. Ten years and he was as loud and obnoxious as ever. They were both on there sixth round of sake, though she had been there a lot longer than he had. She finally decided it was time to leave before he saw her. Getting up, she placed money on the table to pay the tab and began to walk out. In her pains to get out of the bar quietly she hadn't noticed the drunk by the door get up. He grabbed her arm and she spun around surprised. "Hey, prutty ladies like yurself shudden be walkin' round alone. You mighta meet somebody like me." She growled as he said it because the next thing he knew Jiraya's fist slammed into his face and he fell into the fall above his table.

"Anyone else?" He asked loudly to the gapping mouths in the tavern. Everybody went very quiet then quickly went back to their conversations. He turned to her and smiled broadly, "Didn't see you come in! Man has it been to long."

"Not long enough if you ask me." She said smiling bitterly. Her getaway ruined by a common drunk. She was slipping.

"You always did have that bitter sweetness about you. Course that's how I like 'um." She rolled her eyes. This was old news, him liking 'her kind of woman'. This is what happened when you gave the man a drink. Sober he didn't do this. But it always managed to make her blush. "Rough around the edges. Tough yet dangerously attractive. Smart but gorgeous. Great body and great soul." He was babbling. "I sometimes wonder if it's you or a memory of you. Seeing as you never seem to age." He lifted the flap of the tavern and she walked out with him close behind. What could it hurt? Walk and talk a little with an old friend. "Thought I saw you many times out on the road, just walking by. Not much to do out there but stare at the scenery." She was thankful for the darkness or he'd see how red she was.

"I heard you write cheesy erotic novels now."

"Gotta do something in my spare time. To young to retire and no war to fight. It's not like I have a wife or kids. What's a Sanin to do?"

"I've always wondered about that. Why not settle down? You could have those things."

Jirarya looked up at the moon hanging low in the sky. He never looked as good as he did tonight and she wondered how this had happened, "Why don't you?" In his voice was a challenge. Answering with a question rather than the usual answer.

"My chances of that died a long time ago."

"Or you're afraid to get to close to anyone because you believe you curse all those who you love." She went ridged and glared at him. "It's not obvious, if that's what you're thinking. I just know you." They had reached the inn and Jiraya stopped, "Well this is my stop."

"Mine, too. This is the best inn in town. Did you doubt I was staying anywhere else?" Jiraya shook his head. And they continued inside. They turned down the hallway on the first floor and stopped outside Jiraya's room. "You never said why you never settled down."

He turned to Tsunade and, smiling sadly, he shrugged, "What can I say? I've had the chance to settle down with a girl who'd make a damn good wife. I'd have security for the rest of my life. But... She wasn't the one I wanted. I've only ever wanted one woman." She would have laughed. In fact anyone who knew Jiraya as he was right now have done the same. But the way he looked at her had caused her heart to melt into a puddle of sake induced sentimentality. The Toad sage opened the door and was about to enter when she stopped him. He turned back wide-eyed with surprise as she stood on her toes and planted a kiss right on his lips. They parted instinctively under her's and put his arms around her. The scroll hanging from his shoulders fell to the floor with a clunk, followed by her jacket. They backed into the room, pushing the scroll and jacket in with their feet, and discarded more of their clothes with theirs hands. She ran her fingers through his hair and took off his headband, at the same time he untied her belt from her waist letting her kimono fall effortlessly to the floor. She almost changed her mind during the course of Jiraya's strip due to it just taking to damn long. The underwear-clad pair fell to the bed, reaching up and threading her fingers through his snow white mane, then gripping the muscles of his back. His long body settled over hers, her muscles aching as they kept time with the clock ticking on the far wall. That night Jiraya reminded her just how good sex could be and showing her it could be better than she ever imagined.

The next morning she had awakened curled up next to a sleeping Jiraya. His hair loose and messy, one foot hanging out from underneath the covers and a small smile lingering on his face. It was comic enough that she slept with the man, but this was icing on the cake. She almost didn't get up, almost didn't leave. But her heart ached at not only her betrayal of Don but the possibility of him falling victim to her love. No, she couldn't let another man fall prey to it and it wasn't about to be Jiraya, the loud mouthed brat tied to the stump when they were young. She brushed away a stray piece of hair from his face and kissed him on the forehead. He murmured something in his sleep and she froze. It had sounded and awful lot like her name. "Sleep well, Jiraya." She whispered and proceeded to gathering her scattered clothing. Dressing quickly she left the room to find Shizune in the lobby.

"Your debt to the Daikuze family has been paid. It's a good thing you didn't come along though. The guards said their orders were to kill you on site-"

"I'm checking out, go get my things. And meet me at the gate. Now."

She blinked, "What's the rush, this place has the best slots-"

"I said now, Shizune." It hadn't been loud but the order was clear. Her mistress wasn't messing around.

"Yes milady." She turned and scramble for the stairs to avoid the wrath of Tsunade.

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"So that's why we left early? To avoid Jiraya?"

Tsunade's eyebrow twitched. Now it was just the two of them the men off at the hot springs they'd stopped at, "Yes. I didn't want to be attached to that idiot just because I got drunk and horny and he just so happened to be right there. I didn't want it to go to his head. I let him think it was a dream. That's where I told him something like THAT would only ever happen."

Shizune frowned, "You expect me to believe that?"

"Yes I do and if you tell anyone I'll have you stuffed like a thanksgiving turkey." Her tone was casual but the threat was there all the same. "Now go get me some more money. My wallets running dry on me."

She sighed, "Why do you always avoid chances at happiness. My uncle wouldn't want you to be alone the rest of your life."

"I'm not avoiding chances at happiness, I am avoid bad relationships. I could see my future with Jiraya if I stayed. I'd find out two weeks into it that I can't stand him, but hang around for a few more years then end it violently before I can leave. In a moment of weakness I made a mistake. It happens to the best of us."

Shizune frowned, "Since when does it happen to you."

"All the time. Look at how much money I owe people, look at my losing streak! The only time I win is when something bad is about to happen."

"You thought something bad would happen to Jiraya? A Sanin? Excuse me, Lady Tsunade but you must have lost it. He is more of a match for something bad." But the older woman just shook her head and went back to the slots. Shizune watched her for a little while, then asked, "Do you ever think about what it could have been like?"

The corners of her mistress's mouth twitched, "Every once in awhile." And she would said no more on the subject.

Over the next couple of days however Shizune tried to get Jiraya to talk about it. But every time she had a chance Tsunade or Naruto would interrupt. However there was finally a chance to catch him alone. Naruto was sound asleep, Tsunade in the shower and she had fetched her mistresses clothes from the laundry. On her way back to their room, she knocked on the door to the other Sanin's room and when greeted she entered, "Master Jiraya?" She asked, her voice squeaking a bit from nerves. He sat on the bed, still dressed and he waved his hand toward a chair, offering her a seat. Naruto was sound asleep and snoring loudly in the bed by the window. Taking the seat, she sat silently for almost a minute. When she opened her mouth to ask him, he cut her off.

"You want to ask about two years ago don't you?" She blinked over at him surprised, "Well, I remember and don't you let Tsunade know. She has her pride and she can damn well keep it." There was a note of anger in his voice but he tried to mask it with a grin.

"You didn't want her to leave, did you Jiraya?"

"No! Of course, I didn't! Doesn't mean it wasn't stupid. I was an idiot for ever letting that woman in my room." His eyes were downcast looking at the sheets of the bed he sat on. "Between you and me? That woman's the only one I've ever cared about. It's a curse really. More than that curse she believes she has on her. I need her so much it hurts." He laughed loudly and she smiled nervously, "All the other woman I've been with were paid and didn't mind being call Tsunade!"

"Why didn't you come after her?

"I tried! Don't you get it?" His head snapped up to look her in the eyes, "I came to around twelve o'clock without the woman I went to sleep with next to me! I knew she left and nearly had a panic attack knowing I'd never find her; I asked the clerk at the front desk about her and he said she packed up four hours ago and left without mention of where she was going! By then you were both long gone!" He slumped back and looked at the ceiling, "I nearly went out of my mind. I asked all the guards at the gate houses if they'd seen her, all the barkeeps and tavern owners in the village and not one knew where she'd gone." Shizune now felt bad she let her curiosity get the better of her. It obviously pained this man to talk about it. "But I kept trying for nearly a year before heading home. I mean I had crappy romance novels to write." He sighed and looked at her again. "I gave up and went back to my old ways. Of course it wasn't as fun now that I'd had the real thing. Once you find that one person, none of the others matter anymore. But with enough sake you can get really close..." He took a deep breath and smiled,"Listen to me. I'm just a sore loser that's all. What a way for a girl to dump you. A blow to my ego is all it was. I bet the sex wasn't all that great anyway."

"She said it was the best she'd ever had." Shizune covered her mouth instinctively, and Jiraya starred at her in shock. Then suddenly the door burst open and Tsunade stood in the door in a towel glaring at Shizune and avoiding Jiraya's jaw-drop all together.

"Have you been in here the whole time?" She was furious, "Do you know how long I've been waiting over there?"

Shizune sputter something incoherent, it was Jiraya who answered, "Cut her some slack, Tsunade. No need to act like the old hag you actually are." Now she looked at him in a fixed glare, cheeks either still red from the bath or from blushing. Shizune couldn't tell and she just got up and handed her mistress her clothes. She snatched them and stormed down the hall, "Night, sexy lady!" he called after her. She heard her stop and groan.

"Night, old man." Then she slammed the door to their room and he grinned widely.

"Yup. She digs me."

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It had now been some time since Tsunade had returned to the Leaf village to become Hokage. Naruto was about to leave the village for his training, that meant so was Jiraya. She sat at her desk pretending not to notice that tomorrow's date was circled on her calender. Pretending she didn't care she wouldn't see Jiraya again tomorrow. Pretending that it didn't bother her in the slightest. She signed another form, stamped her approval on a different one and kept going on about her business. When she was finally done she tidied up and headed for her room. A grand luxurious one reserved for the Hokage, or in this case her. She sighed as she turned to close the door, "Why so glum, Tsunade?" She spun around to see Jiraya sitting comfortably in a chair by her fireplace. She glared and ignored the fact he had just caught her completely off guard.

"You."

"Yup, me. Surprised?"

She crossed her arms and leaned against the wall, "Not particularly. Had to annoy me one more time before you up and hit the road?"

He frowned, "Not gonna come and see me off?"

"Why should I? I'm Hokage, I've got better things to do then to watch some old lecher and his brat walk off into the distance, now don't I?" She was going to go and see him off, but didn't want to admit it. If she did she might have to admit she'd miss him.

"Well then, it's a good thing I came to see you now. If I had waited until tomorrow I wouldn't have had time."

She raised an eyebrow, "Time for what?"

"Just to spend a little more time with you before I go." He put his feet up on her coffee table. She frowned, but then again, what did she need a coffee table in her room for other than to take up space. A little dirt wouldn't kill it. She watched him suspiciously as she crossed over to the other chair, and sat in it. It was heavenly soft and fluffy, a relief after hours at that desk.

"What is it you're after, Jiraya?"

"Nothing, I-" He stopped abruptly and looked away. Something told her that the whole cool act had only been rehearsed up until this point and now he was unsure what to say. He looked into the fire, the flames reflected perfectly in his pitch black eyes. They looked old and worn, the way hers should be, "Is it so hard to believe that I only want your company?"

"Quite frankly, yes. I'm always suspicious when you just want 'company'."

He smirked, "And normally you would be right. Though I wouldn't object to more than that-"

"See I told you-"

"But it's okay if I don't because I just want to be with you." She froze and stared at him. Long and hard. Minutes ticked by and neither of them said a thing. Then he laughed aloud, the outburst causing her to jump, "Look at us. We have truly gotten old. All we wanna do is sit cozy by the fire." She snorted and he raised an eyebrow, "What's so funny?"

"You said cozy. You use to hate that word."

"I did?'

"You did."

"Well obviously I no longer hate it if I just used it." He grinned, "We are not very different then who we were back then. Some things will stay the same until the day we die." He counted off on his fingers, "I will always be the one tied to the stump, you'll always have that temper and Orochimaru will always be an evil prick."

"Some things never change."

"And some things do."

She glared at him for a moment, "You stole that from a movie." He shrugged and Tsunade shook her head, but she was smiling, "Well, when you're right your right."

"See! You've learned that I can be right."

"But you still haven't cut that mop you call hair."

He clutched his hair defensively, "No need to be venomous, Tsunade." She laughed. Jiraya was a real piece of work. "I got an idea, let's play 'would you rather'."

"Rather what?"

"You remember. That game we played when we were kids! I say two things, you say which you'd rather do. It'll be just like old times."

Tsunade nodded, "Alright, if you must."

He gripped his chin in thought for a moment then got that lightbulb look, "Would you rather bite the head off a chicken or tattoo 'I love kittens' on your forehead."

"Bite the head off a chicken."

He stared at her for a moment, "Tsunade, that's just disgusting."

"What can I say? I just don't love kittens." she waited a beat, "Is it my turn?"

He sighed, "If YOU must."

"Would you rather drink a glass of llama spit, or gnaw off your own toe."

"Which toe?"

"The big one."

"How big a glass?"

" A normal glass about 5 ounces."

"Glass of spit."

Now it was her turn to stare at him, "And you say I'm disgusting."

"Okay my turn... Would you rather... Marry a decent loving steadfast spouse or your sexual fantasy."

"What kind of choice is that?"

"No answering my questions with questions."

She glared at him then folded her arms and stuck her chin out in defiance, "My sexual fantasy." Then they were quiet, the game forgotten. She just looked over at him and he looked back.

"Interesting choice."

"I'm an interesting lady."

"Between old friends... Who would that be?"

Determined not to take to long she picked the first name that she could think of. "Maito Gai."

His eye brows shot up as if he'd just seen the first four Hokage's playing poker, "The Jounin with a bowl cut?"

"Yup, what can I say, I dig the jumpsuit."

"You have got to be joking."

"So what if I am?"

"Then you are joking?"

"Did I say that?"

"You're answering with questions again."

"They're stupid questions."

"I'm sorry but why marry your sexual fantasy?"

"Because sex would get boring with anyone else."

"What about love?"

"In the end what's lust but love for someone else's body?"

"Point. But what happens when they grow old and wrinkly and smell like cheese?"

"By then I'll probably be the same. Remember I have to age eventually."

"I'm not the one who has to remember."

"Shut it. Marrying the steadfast spouse is marrying the one you can live with. I'd want to marry the one I can't live without.

"Typical romantic. That is unpractical."

"I'm a woman, what do you expect?"

"Nothing less."

"Which would you marry?"

"I already told you this."

"Oh really and when was that?"

"Oh right, that was a dream... A very good dream." Suddenly he stood, picked up his scrolls and walked toward the door. Tsunade's eyes widened in panic. "I'm leaving early tomorrow. I should be going."

"Wait!" She stood and froze he turned to her, a look of longing in his eyes that made her own heart ache. Suddenly, he seemed to make up his mind about something. Before she could react, he closed the distance between them and kissed her hard on the mouth. She pressed up against him, enjoying the kiss and being held, tightly and protectively. It was perfect, expecting nothing but begging for it at the same time. And after all these years wanting Jiraya didn't seem so strange. In fact, he was the one man in her life that seemed to always be there, one who would always be there. He pulled away watching her face closely.

"I just wanted to see you. I was lonely, who wants that? Tsunade, I can't stress how precious you are to me. You understand that, don't you?"

She snuggled close and lifted her face to his once again. His dark eyes swallowing every inch of her, as if to cement her in his memory. She felt his affection emanating from him like sunlight from the sky, "I do and I'm glad. It is a rare occasion that I get to feel precious. Kiss me again, Jiraya."

"Oh no," He said, drawing in a ragged breath, "If I do that, one thing will lead to another and such carrying-on does not make for much sleep."

She raised an eyebrow then smirked, "Well fine if that how you-" She made a move as if to pull away and he held her tighter. "What about that sleep you'll miss?"

"There's hundreds of hours in a year of that. How many of them do I get to spend with you in my arms?"

"Far to few." She then led him over to her large luxurious bed. He'd been right they weren't going to get much sleep.

Shizune turned the corner to the corridor that her mistress's room was on. The door opened and she stopped dead as Jiraya emerged muffling a yawn. He closed the door, and straightened his shirt. She stared, putting two and two together. She was about to retreat when he turned and saw her, "Ah, Shizune, nice morning, hm?" He walked down the hall and passed her, a sad look on his face, "Well, I've got to be going. Tell Tsunade goodbye for me won't you."

Shizune followed him, "You mean to tell me you're just gonna leave without saying goodbye." He turned and faced her, standing tall.

"That's exactly what I intend to do. She did it to me didn't she?" He turned back and continued down the hall, "Besides, she was sleeping so peacefully. I couldn't bring myself to do it. Shizune, one day you'll learn there is not enough hours in the night."

"You could have at least left her a note telling her that! She'll be devastated when she wakes up!"

"She'll be fine." She stopped taken aback by what he'd said, "I'm not being cruel I'm being honest. She's TSUNADE. If there's one person I know in this world, it's her." Shizune turned that thought over in her head and had to admit he was right. He stopped as well, his back to her. "Look, it's not like I'm never coming back. I'm not like her brother, or your uncle. I have a very different dream. Ironically enough though it involves the Hokage."

"You're dream?"

"To be loved by the fifth Hokage." He turned his head back and smiled broadly, "THAT is my dream." And then he walked away without another word, leaving Shizune staring blankly after him.

Tsunade awoke, shielding her eyes from the glare of the sun through the window she propped herself up on her elbows. She looked over and frowned. The bed was messy and unmade next to her but it no longer held Jiraya. The sheets were still warm to the touch, as if he'd only left a few minutes ago, and his smell still lingered there. A mixture of sweat and some kind of spice she couldn't recall the name of. Perhaps sage which would normally have made her chuckle. She scooted over to the other side of the bed and sighed. It was heavenly, almost enough. She stared at the ceiling, suddenly feeling as empty as the big bed she was lying in.

"Jiraya." His name was sweet on her tongue but left a bitter taste. He'd left her in the same fashion she'd left him, while she slept and without a word. If she'd known waking up alone was this bad she'd have stayed with Jiraya the first time. No one deserved this. It was almost unbearable. She dared herself to look at the clock, but she already knew what it would say. Jiraya had left hours ago, hitting the road with his student, just like he said. She cursed as tears fought their way from her eyes. When they finally won she couldn't stop them. All she ever seemed to be was alone, pulling the pillow Jiraya slept on close to her. Holding it tightly to her chest as if to cushion the blow. To have her love for Jiraya just hit her all at once the minute she knew he was gone hurt worse than any wound she'd acquired in battle. Suddenly she just wanted him to come through the door and make the pain go away. She desperately tried to hold back her fear of not seeing him again. Figures, to fall in love again at her age. Maybe back then wasn't the right time for them, or maybe they just kept just missing each other. And now they finally caught up with the rest of their lives.

Anyone who's a fan of 'Living Single' will know I stole the title from the episode where Max and Kyle wake up together in a lay-z-boy naked. That's what they get for drinking a whole bottle of tequila and being madly in love to the point where they can't stand it. Great show. Anyway, I adore this pairing. Oddly I don't like Naruto and Sakura, which is basically the same scenario. Naruto must be with Sasuke or Hinata. Sakura can go off and be with... I don't know Ino, or Lee. It really doesn't matter to me. So, that's the story. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

LF14