Disclaimer: Go away, I'm tired.

La Mouette Lunaire proudly presents


The sake bar was a quiet place. Of course there was a time when it would be crowded and when loud and drunken voices would fill it with laughter, but that was long before those voices would go dry from exhaustion and their owners would retreat home to rest their heavy heads.

It was also long before the first threads of morning mist were spun in the pale blue sky. But now she was watching them descend on the village like a veil of silk and she realised that it was time to return to their hotel. She also realised something far more concerning.

The sake bar was quiet. But if looks were made of sound she would be yelled at by Tsunade in the fiercest way she'd ever experienced. But as it was it was only the sannin's gaze that lay on her, though Shizune had to admit that this worried her even more.

She'd seen her staring at money greedily, she'd seen her gazing into the distance and she'd seen the focus of her eyes drifting into absolutely nothing. But not once had she seen those two orbs of amber focused on her as intently as they were now.

The sake bar was too quiet. Five days passed. According to her, anyway. It could have been hours, minutes or moments even. All she wanted was to hear drunken laughter again, only a single one, only one word, only once, only to shatter the silence. Only that you should be careful what you wish for.

"Do you know that you are very important to me?" the blonde asked and put the empty cups of sake aside.

Shizune gulped and looked at her mentor. Tsunade's cheeks were flushed and after a night at the bar the lisp in her voice was distinct, but Shizune knew all too well that while her words may be slurred, the message was all too coherent.

"Because that's what I've come to realise now. And that all this time I've been trying too see you as a mere apprentice, trying to hide it from myself that you are so much more…to me. Because I…"

The second it took Tsunade to search for the right word was enough to kill the tiny spark of composure Shizuna had held onto until now. Jerkily she stood up, hoping to end the conversation, to just to home and forget about it all or at least bring some distance between her and the older woman for a moment.

But passion was merciless and instead of gaining distance her movements only triggered its complete eradication as Tsunade stood up as well, taking one too many steps towards her apprentice.

And now it wasn't a mere gaze any more. Now Tsunade's words had become her breath, so close to Shizune's face that only a distant memory of respect kept her from taking a step back.

"Because I want you," she said and seized the trembling hand of the black-haired woman, drawing her closer to herself, brushing past her reddened cheek lightly, pausing before she could finally free the words she had been aching to utter for so long.

"Because I want you… to pick up the tab."

The sake bar was quiet again. Except for a twitching bundle on the floor and the cackling of a blond woman in the distance.


- - - - - - -

It's not called cheap for nothing, you know.