A/N: Alright it's been a while. I finally have enough time on my hands to get back to writing, so here it is, my thirteenth fanfic. For this fanfic it was my decision to go with a pairing of Tsunade X Shizune. Those are both females; this is yuri; this will get sexual in later chapters and all so please only read if you like this kinda stuff. So here's hoping I still got it.

Disclaimer: This work of fanfiction was written without the consent of the original creator of the anime/manga series Naruto, Masashi Kishimoto, by some random loser with too much time to kill.

Tsunade let a faint smile grace her lips as she walked, her line of sight now visited by new refuge. She had been walking for about two days now, drifting though the endless fields as she continued her aimless quest for purpose, and the small village on the horizon, the prospect of food and shelter it promised was at this point a real relief.

Though she knew very well the strength the girl possessed, Tsunade couldn't help but feel guilt at how her young apprentice was made to put up with this same rigorous journey. With a smile she turned to face the young girl.

"Looks like were close, Shizune." Tsunade offered the best smile a woman so broken could muster. She gazed at the approaching settlement as she sighed, "Tonight you'll finally be able to get a good nights rest."

"I'm fine. Really, it's you I worry about getting her rest, sensei." Shizune responded with a caring chime.

"And why's that? Last I checked I was the celebrated ninja and you were the fledgling apprentice." Tsunade tone took a bitter edge.

"I'm just saying that your getting older, sensei." Shizune said smugly, firmly. She closed her eyes as she said softly, as if apologetically, "Traveling all day must be getting harder on you."

Tsunade's face twisted with anger. Curtly, she scoffed, " Shizune how dare you imply that I'm old. I am young and beautiful!"

"I'm sorry, sensei. I didn't mean to insult you." Shizune replied at once, clearly seeking forgiveness. Returning to level speech she then explained, "It's just that, that I think it's about time we stopped this traveling. If not to go back home then to just settle somewhere new."

Tsunade smiled; it wasn't because Shizune's suggestion was anything interesting or new, no this girl had been suggesting that they stopped traveling almost since that now far off time when they had started, no Tsunade smile was a simple reflection of the gratitude this child made her feel.

"It's okay Shizune, you don't need to worry about me, I can be pretty tough when I need to be." Tsunade spoke this time in a more tranquil manner.

"Yes sensei." Shizune nodded exuberantly, showing relief that her mentor no longer seemed displeased with her.

The rest of the trek toward this new village was spent in relative silence. Tsunade had spent most of these years in deep reflection and Shizune knew not to trouble her needlessly.

It wasn't long before they had arrived. Tsunade went along at once to gather her "necessary information" while Shizune was charged with securing a room at the local inn.

Once she knew what she needed to know Tsunade returned to find her young apprentice and inform her of the days proceedings.

"So are you taking the rest of the day off to relax, sensei?" Shizune asked hopefully without turning around as Tsunade entered the room she had been directed to.

"This place is small, there's not much fun, but I do hear there are some hotshots at the bar down the street that like to deal high-stakes." Tsunade relayed the information she had acquired as she rubbed the blue necklace that hung around her neck with her forefinger and prepared to once more exit the room.

"Of course. You're going to leave me here while you go gamble your fortunes away to lowlifes in some seedy bar." Shizune said becoming harsh as she shot a glare at her teacher.

"Exactly." Tsunade said almost mockingly. Making it clear she didn't care if her apprentice did in fact protest, Tsunade added bitingly, "Do you have a problem with that, Shizune?"

"Yes I do, Sensei!" Shizune fought back with raised voice, approaching the sanin so that they were face to face. Tapering from a shout to a vulnerable quiver she then added while averting her eyes, "You can't keep living like this. You have to-, you have to learn to g-get over what happened back then..."

The expression that then crawled onto her apprentice's face made it clear to the older woman that Shizune wished desperately she could retract this statement almost the moment it had left her lips, despite this Tsunade couldn't help but remember.

Every detail of that far off day, the day that still haunted her after all these years of wandering had rushed back to her. She could see the lifeless corpse of the man she loved strewn across the grass, stained red with a copious display of human blood. She could see the cool, anguished look on his pale, colorless face as it stared endlessly at what it could no longer see. She could hear her own screams and sobs as she tried very much in vain to save him.

"Please forgive me Tsunade-sensei. I didn't mean it, I promise." Shizune started frantically at first sight of her mentor's grief-stricken face.

Tsunade was beyond reasoning though, Shizune could only watch as the sanin's sadness transformed into rage, Tsunade delivering her outcry, "Then why say it, Shizune! Why force me to remember such painful things!"

Having Tsunade angry with her was usually enough to make the young Shizune back down at once. However this night she must have felt some sort of urge to stand up for herself as she chose to fight for her point.

"Because you need to remember. You can't keep running away, Tsunade-sensei." Shizune started in a meek tone, struggling to keep her voice audible and bracing herself just in case Tsunade decided to opt for violence. When she wasn't slammed painfully into the wall by Tsunade's fist Shizune decided to take a more level tone and address the other to her face, "What happened back then, it wasn't your fault; you did everything you could to help my uncle. I just don't understand why we continue to travel aimlessly when we could be back home saving people and making a difference."

"If you want to go back that's your decision, Shizune." Tsunade's words still came out stern and bitter though more calm than before.

"And what difference would that make? You're the one who could make the real difference, you're the legendary healer, aren't I just the fledgling apprentice." Shizune responded taken aback at the very prospect of leaving her mentor behind.

Tsunade gave a short laugh accompanied by a short yet noticeable smirk, she said forcing a sigh, "I know I may have said that, but to be honest, I've trained you since you were young. You're only sixteen, yet I'm confident you already posses the level of skill and knowledge of a jounin level medical shinobi."

"Even if that's the case, sensei, I still wouldn't dare leave you alone." Shizune explained giving a slight blush at the unexpected praise while returning to her actual point.

"And why not? It's no fun having you as a traveling companion anyway, Shizune." Tsunade replied in a pointed fashion.

"If that's how it is, then why did you take me with you in the first place." Shizune retorted, showing offense.

"I never wanted to take some good for nothing brat with me. I was alone in the world after that day, the very sight of everyone left alive in that village was enough to make me feel sick. I was alone and I wanted to keep it that way." Tsunade sounded almost combative as she conveyed her piece. Then shooting a disgusted glance at the other girl she added, "If it wasn't for you crying and begging so hard to tag along I never would have allowed it."

"And that's all it took?" Shizune asked, attempting to jog the memory from her childhood.

Tsunade closed her eyes a moment as she gave her response some thought. With difficulty she relayed her words softly and somberly, "Maybe I felt sorry for you, maybe I thought it was the least I could do, care for the kid that was so dear to him, maybe I thought it was what he would have wanted. But mostly I guess it was what you told me back then."

"What I told you?" Shizune's memories continued to elude her.

"You said you were alone now, that you had no one, nowhere to go to. You said you were lost without him. I couldn't help but think you were the same as me." Tsunade looked away still finding it hard to talk about the past.

"I'm sorry. I had forgotten..." Shizune said feeling a certain warmth in her heart.

"It's no big deal. Anyways, taking you in turned out to be just the first in a string of gambles I'd have been better off not taking." Tsunade declared with a laugh. She shook her head as she in a lax tone, "I had assumed watching a kid and maybe teaching her some medical jutsu wouldn't be too much work, I hadn't taken into account that you'd quickly become such an intolerable nag, who doesn't like to have any fun."

"But your 'fun' is so dangerous and costly, sensei, not to mention it is completely unbecoming of someone as great and skilled as you are." Shizune retorted in a strict fashion.

"That's exactly it, Shizune. You need to learn to lighten up." Tsunade sounded almost bored as she spoke this time.

"But I don't know where'd you'd be right now if I wasn't there to watch over you, sensei." Shizune said offering a conciliatory smile.

"Maybe you got a point."Tsunade returned the smile.

"Are you still going to go out tonight, sensei?" Shizune asked after a pause.

"No I think I'll stay in this once. I'm no longer in the mood for it." Tsunade replied coolly trying to remain oblivious to the smile that had widened on Shizune's lips.

As alluring as gambling against the local thugs in a bar in some remote village in the middle of nowhere was, her mind was now too clouded with resurfaced memories. Being a notorious loser even with a clear mind, Tsunade shuddered to think how badly she'd get ripped apart if she gambled while distracted. Besides, letting Shizune win for once didn't seem such a bad idea.

Tsunade was grateful to Shizune. That girl tried so hard, failing to accept that she was so far defeated that any effort was pointless.

Shizune had about her the same sort of rigorous drive that her uncle, the man Tsunade loved, had possessed. In fact as Shizune had grown into a woman, the sanin had thought she noticed a certain resemblance in character between Shizune and her beloved even if it may have been one she forced herself to see since she knew the two were related.

It was true that Shizune could be stern and inflexible. Almost since they had began this journey, despite Tsunade being the adult woman and Shizune being the child, it had always been more Shizune as the responsible parent and Tsunade the rebellious youth.

But no, she could only be thankful Shizune was who she was. Unlike the girl, she knew very well where she would be if Shizune was any less watchful with her. She knew Shizune was the only reason she hadn't long since sought to join the ones she loved dearest once more.

A/N: Gah, I take such a long break and when I return the best I can muster is such a short chapter. Despite the length I hope it wasn't bad. Let me sort of explain things for this one. I decided to place this one pre-series. It's set roughly twelve years prior to the start of the show, Shizune is 16, Tsunade is 38. You may wonder why I made this decision, to go with a teenage Shizune when I could have had the rare opportunity to pair two adult women. While to tell the truth I wanted this fic set as close as possible to when Tsunade left the village. To be honest in my research I couldn't really find a conclusive time line for when Tsunade actually left the village. I know she left right after Dan died, and since I know he was 27 when he died and assuming that Tsunade was roughly the same age or a few years older than him then she would have left with Shizune when Shizune was much too young, so I ended up with a lot of leeway on what to do with the time frame, I initially thought I'd go with Shizune at 18 but decided to push it back and give her a little more youthful innocence or something, I don't know.

But enough about that since you likely don't care anyway. At this moment I would like to that anyone who submitted an idea for me during my break, I have read them all and ideas are beginning to flow in the back of my head. As you have undoubtedly noticed I opted not to branch out quite yet, but to stick with Naruto just a while longer, though considering the incredible response I've received on my Bleach fanfic, as well as all the messages requesting Bleach pairings and such I'm tossing around the idea of switching my focus to that anime later in the year once the Naruto ideas are dried up. Anyways, thanks for reading, I hope you like it so far, tell me what you think.