Pairing: Jiraiya/Tsunade (very faint)
Disclaimer: I do not own these Naruto characters and stand to make no profit from posting this story.
Summary: Jiraiya is waiting for Tsunade for dinner one evening and reflects on the kunoichi he knows in Konoha.
Jiraiya sat on Tsunade's balcony, smoking his pipe and looking out at the sunset. It was a pleasantly warm, late summer evening and the crickets were just beginning to chirp in the distance. Naruto was busy catching up with his old friends and it was nice to relax a moment before catching up with his oldest friend, Tsunade. As he waited for her to finish up whatever business she was attending to, Jiraiya's gaze was soft and unfocused, staring out at the middle distance until a striking woman crossing the street caught his attention.
Kurenai - she of the remarkable red eyes. He grinned wolfishly at the thought of her. Asuma certainly had quite a catch in that one. She was an exquisite piece of work, almost sheer perfection physically. And those eyes, where in the world had she gotten those eyes? One look and a man was lost. But there was no point looking, he knew she was totally devoted to Asuma and that guy was one lucky son-of-a-bitch to have a woman like her. And Jiraiya also knew a little secret, oh yes he did, Tsunade had told him. Asuma, he chuckled thinking back on Sensei's snot-nosed, bratty, little kid, had knocked her up. Jiraiya was probably the fifth person in all of Konoha to know that little secret, outside of the happy couple and Tsunade and Shizune. No sense getting any ideas about her, she and Asuma would be together forever. He sighed, red, the color of her eyes, the color of true love, yes, red was the perfect color to describe Kurenai.
Kurenai was speaking to another young woman now, greeting her as they passed. They weren't that far away and the street was quiet so he could almost make out the voices. Even with her back toward him, catching only the faintest sound of her brash voice he instantly recognized it - Anko. His smile changed to something wistful, almost forlorn. Seeing her, standing there in the sunset, shades of orange coloring the sky, made him realize that Anko, just like the color orange, was something you either loved or hated. Anko had been so vibrant back when she was younger, back before she was ...broken. And now, here she was, so loud, so boistrous, so in-your-face that you didn't want to see her. It was a clever disguise, almost as if she herself were her own shadow-clone. Maybe if she could be loud enough and bossy enough to distract people with that persona they wouldn't see how much the real Anko was still hurting inside. Brash. Loud. Orange - it suited Anko.
A giggling group of girls was now coming down the cross street. He recognized them as Naruto's old classmates. My how they had grown. All of them. Each in her own charming, delightful way. The first one he recognized was Tenten, the one with the sunshiny personality. Yellow would suit her best. It was a miracle her pleasant disposition had survived being stuck with Gai-sensei and the dolts on her team. But he'd chatted with her in the ramen shop since returning with Naruto and was struck by just how engaging, polite and cheerful she really was. Whether she'd been that way before joining Gai's team or had developed that personality just to keep herself sane in dealing with her nut-case of a sensei either way she was still a sweet girl. Sunshiny-yellow that was Tenten.
Also in the group was Yamanake Ino. Now she was a long drink of cool water for a thirsty man. And she knew it. And she'd have no compunction using it to her advantage. The kunoichi would always be jealous of her and the male shinobi would be jealous over her. Her eyes might not be green but she'd certainly be responsible for the appearance of a lot of green-eyed jealousy in Konoha. Tsunade probably already knew this, but he'd let her know his opinion just in case.
And then there was Hyuuga Hinata. He didn't know her so well, only knew that she clearly had a major crush on Naruto. But what he did know about her suggested that she was a very calm, tranquil and gentle person. And with her hair so black it was almost blue it was appropriate that he think of her as the color blue. Not "blue" as in the sad sense of the word, but in the peaceful serene sense. There was just something about her so gracious that it put people at ease. Yes, Hyuuga Hinata was "blue."
That left Sakura with the pink hair. Her hair might be pink but there was very little else that was little-girlish about her now. Tsunade had made a wise choice in taking her on as a student and assistant. He'd heard about the tremendous progress she had made, even surpassing Shizune in several areas. Sakura was destined to be a great healer. Violet would be her color, a healing color.
And he'd brought Naruto back home and thrown him in with these young women that the boy would have last remembered as girls. He grinned wryly, it was somewhat akin to that time that he pushed him off the cliff. Let's see what you can do, Naruto, he thought to himself. Like throwing a pebble into a still pool and watching the ripples, what would the introduction of an extra teenage male into the mix do to the ranks of the Konoha shinobi? He should write a book about it - the drama, the angst, the romance, the smut.
He looked at the four girls traveling together and thought back to the first two kunoichi he'd seen tonight. Which of these four would end up with the love of her life and which would end up broken? It was all so unfair. Girls were such breathtakingly marvelous creatures, how could life hand out heartache at random to them? These four were on the cusp of becoming women, they'd left childhood behind. And what lay ahead for each of them was so random and so unfair.
He heard a shriek of childish laughter and peered over the edge of the railing. Moegi, Konohamaru and Udon were just underneath the balcony laughing and joking about something. Jiraiya chuckled. Thank heaven for little girls, he thought. They make the world go around. Sakura and her friends may have left childhood and all the pink girly things behind, but there was a next generation right behind them. It was a wonderful cycle. He thought about the fact that Sarutobi's snot-nosed brat was about to have a baby of his own that would yank his attention away from his team much to their consternation. Couldn't do that without Kurenai. Yes, girls were the reason for reason, even if they did drive men to unreasonable acts. They did indeed make the world go around.
The door to Tsunade's office opened and closed softly. He heard her gentle footsteps as she walked up behind him. "Tch! So, old man, using my balcony to check out the kunoichi?" she chided him gently. She moved to him, resting one hand on his shoulder. He reached up and covered her hand with his own larger one, savoring the feel of her fingers as they cupped his joint and the silkiness of her hand underneath his calloused palm. He stroked his thumb in lazy circles over the back of her hand.
"Ahhhh, Tsunade, you know me so well," he said quietly.
"And what do you see out there, oh mighty toad sage?" she leaned down and whispered in his ear.
He didn't answer her, just smiled looking out over the street and the two of them enjoyed a companionable silence. He thought Tsunade really should have a color herself. He wondered why all these years he'd never assigned a color in his mind that suited her best.
Golden. He thought perhaps Tsunade was golden. He knew that if he turned around he'd see her, splendid in the sunset, spun gold for her hair, warm caramel for her eyes, her skin tinted with the faint glow that comes at the end of a summer, a hundred different shades of gold weren't palette enough for Tsunade.
But then he realized why he'd never done so. He could sit here, playing games, acting the prism to scatter light into constituent colors, assigning individual bits to individual kunoichi. Tsunade was the lens. She was his focus. She collected all the various components back into herself, into the totality of white light. Tsunade was complete.
"So, you going to tell me what you're thinking?" she said, her face still close to his ear, her breath tickling him.
"Nah, you wouldn't believe me," he answered, shaking his head just a little. "Come on, I'll take you to dinner."