He woke up and found himself alone.
Briefly, he wondered where he was and more importantly, who he was.
His head pounded and he slowly recalled the night before.
There had definitely been drinking.
It was then that he realized he could hear the shower running.
'Where am I?' He asked himself again.
The room was unfamiliar.
It was spare - containing a bed, a clothes drawer, a nightstand and an uncomfortable-looking chair sitting beside the window.
It was a motel room.
And then it hit him at full force.
The shower stopped and he could hear the soft hum of a woman's voice as she sang.
'Finally!' He thought, 'Finally… we are… we've been… together!'
The Night Before
"Tsunade…" Jiraiya called, "I knew I'd find you here."
Tsunade sneered but didn't comment.
"Hey, I've only come to keep you company." Jiraiya said, sitting beside her at her table, "Do you mind?"
Tsunade shrugged but didn't speak.
She poured another small cup of sake and drank it down.
"How many have you had?" Jiraiya asked softly.
Tsunade remained silent for a long time.
"Why are you here?" She finally asked.
"I told you – to keep you company." Jiraiya said.
Tsunade rolled her eyes. She poured herself another cup and drank it down.
"Hey, hey, share the wealth." Jiraiya joked.
Tsunade waved her hand, as if to say 'go ahead'.
They drank several cups between them before Tsunade spoke up.
"J-jiraiya…" Tsunade murmured, "D-do… do you remember…?"
"Remember what?" Jiraiya was still relatively clear-minded but Tsunade was wasted.
Tsunade shook her head slowly from side-to-side, her eyes swaying over the table, "Why didn't we… ever…?"
"Ever?" Jiraiya urged, "Ever what? Why didn't we ever… jump off the faces of the Hokages butt naked?"
Tsunade giggled, "You did do that… remember?"
Jiraiya laughed, "You knew about that?"
Her cheeks already pink from the drink, her face grew redder, "I… watched."
"Oh ho ho."
"Why didn't we ever get together?" Tsunade asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
Jiraiya instantly sobered. The alcohol in his stomach seemed to go bad. He clutched his stomach.
"As I recall…" Jiraiya spoke carefully, "You said I was a pervert and that I'm stupid and… I'm sure a bunch of other stuff I don't care to repeat." He smiled widely, assuring her that he was joking, "Besides... you were with Dan and then…" His voice trailed off and his smile slackened.
"And then Dan died…" Tsunade murmured, "And I couldn't bear… to be with anyone… else…"
A single tear slid down her cheek and fell onto the table.
Jiraiya cleared his throat, "Tsunade, there is no need to talk about this…"
"I always admired you." Tsunade interrupted him, "I did, Jiraiya – really."
Jiraiya grinned, "Okay."
She reached across the table and took his hand, "I always thought you were handsome. You… you are."
Jiraiya stared at her hand, clutching his, "Uh…"
"I'm leaving Konoha."
Jiraiya jerked his hand away, "What?"
"You heard… me…" Tsunade reached for the bottle of sake.
Jiraiya pulled it away, out of her reach, "Why?"
Tsunade frowned, "Give it back…"
"Why are you leaving?"
She sighed deeply, "Because… I want to. There. That's your reason."
"Because I can! It's my damn life. I don't have to sit here in Konoha for the rest of my life… wasting away… seeing…" She shook her head, "This whole damn place is full of memories…"
She laughed suddenly and covered her face with her hands, "I see them everywhere I look."
"Dan. Nawaki…" She sobbed into her hands, "I turn and I see Dan and I blink and he's gone. I see Nawaki and… and that big stupid smile of his and then… and then they're gone again…"
Tsunade stood up from the booth, "I need… some air…"
She stumbled towards the doors.
Jiraiya followed her, leaving a generous amount of money on the table.
Tsunade stood outside the bar, waiting.
"I'll take you home." Jiraiya said, touching her arm.
Tsunade turned to him and blinked several times, causing her tears to cascade down her cheeks, "I've got to get out of here, Jiraiya." She smiled but Jiraiya could see no joy in it.
"It'll suffocate me, Jiraiya… if I stay. I'll be suffocated by all these damn memories… even now… I'm not drunk enough."
Tsunade grimaced, "I'm not drunk enough, dammit! I can still remember everything! I… I need more sake, Jiraiya, please!" She wheeled around, determined to get back into the bar.
"No!" Jiraiya pulled her arms, "Come on, you need to get home."
"I don't want to go home…" She whispered, "It's filled with Dan and Nawaki…"
"Okay." Jiraiya interrupted her, "We can just walk around…"
The two did just that.
Jiraiya, half carrying Tsunade, walked around the village.
They stopped at a restaurant neither of them had ever eaten at and tried the food.
Jiraiya wouldn't allow Tsunade any more sake and as the night wore on, she began to sober up.
Around 3 AM, Jiraiya and Tsunade were sitting the quiet Public Park.
There was no one around – everyone was long asleep.
They talked in muted tones, discussing anything that came into their heads.
Jiraiya grew silent when Tsunade mentioned Orochimaru – their once comrade.
Tsunade changed the subject and asked Jiraiya what he was planning to do for the rest of his life.
"Hokage – I suppose." Jiraiya said softly, "I mean… it's the ultimate dream, isn't it?"
Tsunade shrugged. Hokage.
Hokage – that was Nawaki's dream. It had been Dan's dream.
Now… Jiraiya, too?
"You really think you can make it?" Tsunade asked suddenly, "Psh."
"Don't underestimate me, Tsunade."
Tsunade grinned, "Yea? You're right, Jiraiya. You're a good shinobi. I bet you'll make Hokage. You'll be a great one."
Jiraiya smiled and scratched the side of his nose, his cheeks pink, as if he were embarrassed at her praise.
"I do mean it."
"I know." Jiraiya said, turning to her, "I just…"
She was leaning close to him now.
'Had she always been that close?' Jiraiya's mind whirled, "Uh…"
"I meant what I said before, too. I know I was more drunk but… I did… I do mean it." Her face was close to his and Jiraiya could see the chocolate colored eyes. They shined.
"I… I believe… you…" Jiraiya murmured.
She touched his face, running her finger down the red mark that ran down from his eye, "Shh…"
Tsunade touched her lips to his – only the barest of touches.
Her lips were soft. Warm.
She sighed and deepened the kiss.
Jiraiya held her arms and pulled her closer before he suddenly broke the kiss and stood up from the bench.
"What…? What's wrong?" Tsunade asked.
"It's late, Tsunade. You should get home." Jiraiya chewed his lower lip. He could still feel the weight of her lips on his.
"I told you before…" She murmured, "I don't want to go home."
"Fine." He shrugged, "Then I'll just take you to a motel and you can spend the night there."
"What?" Jiraiya reddened, "Jeez – you must be really drunk."
"I'm not." Tsunade rertorted, "Not… not as much."
He laughed, "That's reassuring. Come on, Tsunade – I'll get you set up for the night."
She followed him from the park to a nearby motel.
It was a nice place, clean, but bare.
"Jiraiya…" Tsunade murmured in the lobby, "I'm not feeling so well…" She touched her hand to her forehead, "Can you… help me to my room…?"
"Yea, of course. A-are you hurting? What's the matter?" He touched her arm.
"I just… need some help…" She leaned against him and he nodded, "Sure, of course."
He helped her up the stairs and down the hall and into her room-for-the-night.
"Almost there." He said softly, helping her onto the bed, "Do you want me to get you something before I leave? A glass of water…?"
"You." Tsunade said, grabbing the front of his mesh shirt, "I want you."
She pulled him down and whispered in his ear, "Please…"
Chills ran down his spine from the feel of her warm breath.
He shivered, "You don't know…"
"This isn't the alcohol talking, Jiraiya." She said, pressing her lips to his jaw, "I've wanted you for so long… so… long…"
"Y-you… hate m-me…" He stumbled over his words. Her soft kisses were making a shambles of his willpower, "W-we… we always f-fight…"
Tsunade nuzzled her cheek against his neck and kissed the warm flesh she could reach, "Jiraiya…"
He swallowed hard and she felt the movement of his throat against her lips.
"I want you."
It was the final straw.
The Morning After
Jiraiya pulled on his clothes – which ever ones Tsunade hadn't shredded.
The bathroom door opened and she stepped out, her hair still wet.
Jiraiya looked up at her, a half smile on his face, "Why didn't you wake me…?"
"It's early." She shrugged, "I didn't want to disturb you… we stayed up pretty late last night…"
Her cheeks turned pink, "I thought I'd let you get your rest…"
"Yea, well…" He stood up, his hand held out to her, "I, uh, let me take a shower and then we can…"
"You go ahead." She interrupted him, "Shizune's waiting for me, I'm sure."
"She's my apprentice." Tsunade said, stepping backwards, "She was… uh, Dan's niece."
"She's going with me. Coming with me, I mean… she's, uh… leaving Konoha with me…" Tsunade grinned, "I can't speak this morning, huh?"
"You're still going?"
Tsunade's grin faded and she turned away from Jiraiya, "Of course I am."
"I've got no reason to stay." She walked to the door of the room
"No reason to stay!" Jiraiya moved towards her, "What about me?"
"I… I kind of wish you hadn't woken up… I was going to leave a letter." She turned the knob and opened it, "I'm sorry…"
"You can't be serious! You… you can just leave after… after last night!"
Tsunade turned to him, her face was calm and calculating, "It was just sex, Jiraiya. It… it was good, of course. You're a skilled lover."
"But it was just sex. It didn't mean anything to me…"
"What are you saying?"
"It was just two friends… finding some solace in each other, Jiraiya – that's all. I… I've got to get going. I'll see you… around…? Maybe. Probably not." Tsunade grinned again, "See ya' around, ya' perv."
She was out the door before he could figure out what was happening.
He trailed her, of course.
But she was one of the legendary Sannin, too. She was, of course, a skilled ninja and if she didn't want to be found, then she wouldn't be.
It would be a full year before he finally stopped searching for her.
He returned to Konoha, only to find he had the same problem she did.
Everywhere he looked, she was there.
He had thought it was obvious from the time they spent together.
He had thought she understood after that night together that he was in love with her.
Finally, he followed a similar path as hers.
He left Konoha – but unlike her, he left alone.
So I hope you enjoyed the story.
It was inspired by a comment Jiraiya made in the manga when, talking to Tsunade, he said, "Getting dumped always makes a man stronger."
I was like, "Hmmm... IDEA!"
So, I really like Jiraiya and I think there is way more to him than just being a pervert.
He is a pervert, though, but that's okay.
I still love him.