Disclaimer: If I owned Naruto, there'd be a spinoff chronicling the Sannin's lives…and there'd be so much JiraiyaTsunade that you'd all grow sick of it.
Summary Notes: This one just…randomly came to me one hot, muggy night. Okay, I lie, it came to me while I was musing about my own best friend - he's almost as awesome as Jiraiya (-cough- It's a platonic relationship though, thanks), and listening to a song, or three consecutive songs that made me think of Jiraiya and Tsunade (god, what song doesn't these days?) This one didn't seem to want to quite fit into Whispers of Memory and well, I thought I'd break from Whispers a bit. I warn you, it'll probably end up very…sweet? The songs are called You Just Get Better All The Time, by Tim Mcgraw and When You Say Nothing at All, by Ronan Keating, and Where Did I Go Right? By Hilary Duff. Check them out, or I'd be happy to email the lyrics to any who ask.
She was the first to admit that she had done very little to deserve his love.
And yet, he loved her unconditionally. He always had, from the time they were immature genin who quarrelled and went out of their way to arouse the other's anger. Even older, they still quarrelled and stirred one another up, yet one thing had always stayed strong. One thing, that she could always count on. His presence. His support.
Most people perceived the Godaime Hokage as strong, independent. Certainly a force to be reckoned with. Hell, she was one of the Legendary Three; that alone spoke volumes. Yet what they didn't realise was the fact that she wouldn't have been who she was without him as such a fixture in her life.
She had done so much to him that was so very wrong. She had hurt him, neglected him, abandoned him and pushed him away. More often than not, she growled and glowered at him more than she showed him gratitude and tenderness. Most men would have given up, certainly by this point at least. It wasn't possible for anyone to be so…devoted. And even that wasn't a strong enough word for it.
And yet he was.
He'd always been by her side. When Nawaki had died, he had held her as she sobbed and screamed and cursed him for daring to be someone she could trust enough to weaken in front of him like she did. He'd always had that effect on her - for him, she was the kitten, soft and playful and warm, even when she screamed at herself to do otherwise.
When she had agreed to date Dan (funnily enough, one of the reasons she'd agreed to do so was because of a fight she'd had with the jealous dummy), she had been grimly prepared for his hostility and, with good reason, any attempts he might have made to ruin the relationship. Yet, he had surprised her. He had stood back and let her go as she wished, had watched with bland expression and fathomless black eyes as she clung to Dan. That alone had made her guilty, to be honest. Jiraiya's eyes were never fathomless; there was always some kind of emotion in them - mischief, happiness, warmth. And even then, with Dan, she had begun to realise…
Maybe that look was a little bit more than puppy love.
Most people thought her merely cruel for leaving him hanging as she had. As she'd continued to do for so many years. Yet what most people didn't realise was that under the haughty veneer and constant rejection, Tsunade had real, tangible insecurities.
She truly believed didn't deserve that kind of love. Not something so deep, not from him. Oh, certainly, she'd made no real secret shame over the fact that she was attracted to him. Who wouldn't be? Jiraiya had been a cute kid, all messy silver spikes and mischievous black eyes, and that had not diminished in the slightest with age. In fact, it had gotten better, because Jiraiya the adult had been and was pure strength and power and sensuality. Coupled with those mischievous dark eyes and that voice, what sane woman wouldn't consider a tumble with him?
And yet, rather than flicker and fade, his love for her had merely grown stronger and sweeter. When Dan had died, he had been by her side again, had weathered her painful recriminations and curses, and had held her tightly when she screamed and sobbed again in his arms, murmuring soft words of love and comfort into her hair. Oh, how clearly she remembered that time. He'd never even dreamed of taking advantage of her, and yet one thing had led to another…
And once again, she'd broken his heart when she'd left Konoha. She'd fled like a coward, not just from the pain of death and loss, but from the what could have been with her best friend. She'd been too afraid then, had backed away even as he'd begged with broken voice and glistening eyes for her to stay. And the burden had been so lonely and painful to bear; she wouldn't have been surprised if he never came within ten feet of her again.
But he had. He'd sought her out, stuck by her even when she'd betrayed him again, and then proceeded to stand beside her as she took on the mantle of leader, as if he had never been absent from her side in the first place. And he'd been there ever since.
He had taken on so many roles in his life, for her: he was her unknowing teacher, her guidance, her best friend, her sanctuary, her comrade, her lover…the father of a child they had never had the chance to raise together. So much pain and suffering on both sides, but his most of all. Yet his devotion to her had never wavered, and she was glad it never had. Because she'd damn well miss his playful smiles, his friendly cuddles, the warmth in his black eyes if it did. Just him, even as she lamented over that one inescapable fact; how could she deserve that love?
It was the middle of the night now. The moon filtered weakly through the window of her room, dancing across the half tangled sheets, illuminating the room in dim grey light. Jiraiya lay sleeping beside her, his snowy hair a pale silver in the moonlight as it sprawled messily about him, across a broad and scarred chest, gently laying across the broad, rugged features that were so familiar, and so dear to her. A strong arm was wrapped around her waist, and she smiled softly when he nuzzled closer to her, face burrowing into her hip.
She trailed a finger down the tattoo on his left cheek, letting her finger trace the gentle curve of sable lips, caressing the skin gently. He stirred slightly, but didn't wake. The night was peaceful and still; she was content in a way that was rare for her, both as Hokage and as Tsunade. He had a way of bringing out the real Tsunade underneath - something which had once irritated her, yet now, it endeared her. And not once, throughout the years, had he ever tried to change who she was.
He was awake now, and she smirked slightly. He tried to hide it, but she could sense it clearly. She was a medic, after all. She smiled when she felt him press a sleepy kiss to her stomach, before he pulled back to look at her with a tired smile and soft dark eyes, shadowed as they were by his hair.
"What's on your mind that's got you awake at this time of night, Hime?" he queried softly.
One of her hands shifted to clasp the hand resting on her stomach, while the other played with a lock of his hair. She was quiet for a moment, before tucking the hair behind his ear and forcing herself to meet his gaze.
"What have I ever done to deserve your love? What is it about me that's so…special, for you to want to love me?" She felt foolish for saying it, but needed to hear an answer. He was silent for a long time, and she feared she had said something wrong, that maybe her musings were a little too…well, out there. The moonlight had shifted when he finally looked back up at her, and she held her breath at the slight smile.
"Where would you like me to start?" he asked softly, before pausing, looking for the right words. "Hime…Tsunade…we've been best friends for how long? I can still remember the first time I realised I was in love with you. I remember trying, a million times, to push it away. But I never could - you were just too special to me. You've been in my life so long that I can't imagine my world without you in it. It's something I can't even think about. Everything that's happened in my life - you've always been there."
She stared at him. She'd always been there?
He chuckled softly, and his hand reached up to cup her chin, closing her gaping jaw before moving to brush her hair from her cheek.
"I can't live in a world that doesn't have you in it," he finished, his voice a rumble so soft it was barely audible. Tsunade was stunned speechless, and all she could do was gaze into his dark eyes. Eyes that were currently so warm and unguarded, so filled with love and affection that it caused a lump to well in her throat, and tears to form in her eyes. She was no crier when it came to sweet talk, but who wouldn't be touched by that speech?
With a muffled sob, she all but tackled him, burying her face into his chest.
"I love you, baka-chan," she mumbled, wrapping her arms around him and holding him as tight as she could without breaking a few ribs. She felt him inhale in surprise before he laughed softly and wrapped his arms around her.
"I'd damn well hope so," he murmured in her ear, his tone half-serious. She could feel his smile against her hair though, and snorted softly in reply before snuggling closer.
Oh god, what would she be without him? Nothing, there would be no light. And for the first time, she wasn't afraid to admit that. He was the music to her ears, the laughter through the tears throughout her life, the soft touch that told her it was going to be okay.
And it could only get better.
A/N: …okay, that got…deeper than it was meant to be. Tsunade, you really need to stop latching onto me and relaying every detail of your mind and life; it's not healthy. Y'all feel free to complain at the sap now. As for the "son" that crept in there, imagine as you will. _