I do not own Naruto or the other characters, at this point my only creations are Kita, the Kiraabi (aka the Kiraa) and the plot.

Yeah, I know long time no update. Sorry about that. I hope you enjoy this.

Chapter 22: Celebrations

Even with the help of Captain Yamato's clones, returning to the Leaf Village was not easy carrying the weight of four unconscious captives. Shizune took point, keeping a careful eye out for dangers to their envoy. Yamato's group were determined to safely reach the village to turn the gorotsuki over to the interrogators before night fell and they found themselves babysitting the roused thugs.

So for the sake of their shared goal, the three ninjas pushed their bodies without rest breaks, arriving while the sun was still high in the afternoon sky. After relinquishing their prisoners, Shizune headed to the Hokage's office to file a mission update. She was generous to cover for Sai and Yamato, knowing that they needed a good rest before they had to rise in the early twilight hours to return to their mission.

As they parted ways, Sai headed straight to his home. But Yamato did not head for home, he turned on his heel, his first and only thought being: 'Find Anko.'

"Why, Tsunade?"

"Why what?," she replied angered that he acted like the injured party in the drama that was their past.

"Why did you reject me? You left me with nothing. No reason, no hope...all I could do was wonder what I did wrong. That's a horrible thing to do to a boy of 16."

Try as she might, Tsunade could not stop the ache in her heart that his words caused – even knowing that they were not true. Again she tried to escape the subject, "Please don't do this...it was so long ago. Please just let it die..let the pain stay in the past."

"Dammit Woman! I've spent years trying to understand what went wrong! Do you know why I started down the path to becoming a sage? I turned my life upside down for you trying to figure out what I could do to make things right. When I couldn't find answers, I became desperate for just a small measure of peace and happiness. A man can hide himself in the search for enlightenment."

"You want to know what you could have done differently?! Nothing! Absolutely Nothing!" Tsunade finally retorted her voice coarse and tight. Honestly, what would she have changed? What would she have wanted him to do differently?

The words cut through the air and Jiraiya's pride like the sharpest kunai blade. He stopped speaking to sit staring at her wondering how he could have ever loved someone so cold and heartless.

Quietly he rose, then turned to leave, finally ready to accept the end to their story, as Tsunade said in a small voice, "Don't go...please."

"Tsunade.." Jiraiya's voice faltered. His ego warred with his heart, demanding answers or an end to this cycle before it killed them both.

It was her turn to move to him, but she still could not find the words that he needed to hear. So instead she rose, sliding her arms around his waist, pressing her chest to his back, offering the only solace she had to share.

Could he feel the depth of her heart?

The tension in Jiraiya's shoulder slowly bled away as she leaned into him, her embrace, her warmth sinking into him, her breath soft upon his neck. Silently, he took what she had to offer, covering her hands with his own, trapping them in the embrace.

Why is it easier to hold on to the pain than let it go?

"Jiraiya, I broke up with you because I had to leave...My father was adamant that I leave immediately and that our relationship end that day."

With confusion, Jiraiya asked, "But why, I know I wasn't his favorite...but did he hate me that much?"

Tsunade took Jiraiya's hand and led him to the plush sofa in her reading nook, her eyes avoiding his."On that day," she told him solemnly, "yes I believe he did."

After they were seated on the couch, Tsunade took a deep breath and raised her eyes to his, her voice wavering as she said, "You...we have a son."

Silence gathered around them as Tsunade watched Jiraiya digest her long kept secret. She watched a myriad of emotions cross his face as he let the news settle into his being.

The weight of the news left him unsure of how he should feel knowing that he had missed more than 30 years of a son's life. His son. Finding out that he had a son that he was never given the opportunity to know, him caused an ache deep within his heart.

What would he have given all those years ago to know that they had made a child? How different would things have been? If he had known, not even the Kami could have dragged him away from the Leaf Village and Tsunade...Why didn't she tell him and give him a chance to know him? To be there for her? Was there still time? Would the man even want to acknowledge his missing father after all these years?

Jiraiya attempted to pull his hand free from Tsunade's grasp, his pain suddenly too much to allow her touch. In desperation, Tsunade clutched his hand tighter, refusing to release him as her tears began to fall anew. As tears silently rolled down her cheek, the proud and powerful Hokage begged her first love, "Please forgive me...I wasn't strong enough to protect him...to keep him...to protect us."

Jiraiya watched the tracks of her tears, move along her pained face to gather as drops that fell with a soft splash of warmth as droplets onto his captured hand. Those soft silent tears brought clarity to his thoughts. The weight of those tears told who had borne the greatest pain all these decades. No it had not been her choice. It could not have been. There must have been another answer for her to know this much pain.

For truly, some secrets kill the heart every day they are held.

With her work finished for the day, Shizune closed up the Hokage's and her own office. Her last duty before leaving was to have Haruno Sakura's clothing, gear and other vital belongings moved to her Kiraa sensei's dojo per the Hokage's order.

Without looking back, Shizune quickly headed home to pack her gear – a free stay in Tanzaku Gai performing continued surveillance was a welcomed assignment. She did not want to be anywhere nearby when the Haruno-sama came to voice their displeasure.

Lost in her thoughts, Shizune shook her head as she moved quickly through the halls and down the stairs to the main door. She hoped that whatever their plan - the Hokage and the Kiraabi were ready for the full force of the affluent family's ire. This was sure to be one power play for the history books – Shizune was sure of it. If they pulled this off, a lot of things would be changing quickly for their little village. She could only guess that the Hokage's obvious absence from work today was also part of her plan.

The new pups were all healthy and strong, many already showing an eagerness for human partners. As always this was a cause for the Inu clans to celebrate their continued strength and growth. Hinata found herself caught up in an impromptu party at Kiba's side. The cheer and mirth were infections making her feel light and happy as she danced and partied with her kare.

Kiba's mother refilled the punch bowl several times over the course of a few hours, surprising as the mix did not contain any alcohol, it was simply a combination of fruits and mint – but to Hinata it might as well have been sake. She was giddy, her mind and body felt too light, too free being surrounded by people that were genuinely happy and enjoyed being together. Life was never like this for her in her own home.

Kiba spun her away from the dance area, then took her hand pulling her away from the gathering towards his house. When they entered his yard, Kiba pulled her into his arms for a kiss, capturing her lips against his as he probed her mouth for entrance with his tongue. With a deep sigh, Hinata opened to him, allowing his tongue passage to seek hers. Kiba expertly manuevered his tongue along hers, drawing out the passion he knew lay inside her for him alone. The arch of her back, the soft whimpers of pleasure, and the feel of her soft breast press against his harder frame made him thrum with need.

Any other day, he would only have been able to imagine how well they'd fit together, but now he knew. The sweetness of her taste called to him and he had to fight down his urge to carry her into his bed to reclaim what he'd made his the day before.

With effort, Kiba ended the kiss, pulling back to see fully the disappointment in his kanojo's face. Seeing her face of need and lust made what he had to do so much harder, but all the more important that he protect them both – from themselves.

What they'd shared had to remain their secret for Hinata's safety, lest he lose her forever. A secret for a while longer that is until it could be guaranteed that Hiashi Hyuuga no longer held power over her.

Kiba lulled, "Koi, don't be like that...you know how much I want you...how much I love you. But we can't do anything to risk your safety. You. Your safety. That means everything to me."

"Okay," Hinata groused, her head dropping only to be lifted gently by Kiba's thumb.

When his koi lifted her eyes to meet his, Kiba placed a quick kiss on the tip of her nose then lead her to the bench beside the front door. Taking the seat, Kiba pulled his koibito into his embrace and snuggled her close. From their vantage they watched the evening sky as lanterns danced and fireworks sizzled telling all of the Leaf Village that fortune had smiled on the inu clan this day.

Shizune heard the first firework go off as she finished signing out and crossed the village gate. Looking back over her shoulder she imagined it would be an awesome inu party that she was missing.

Somewhere people were celebrating. Jiraiya was vaguely aware of the sounds of laughter and fireworks, but at this moment he was too taken the sight before him. His first love, perhaps his only true love, sat weeping sorrowfully before him begging his forgiveness. And for the life of him he wasn't sure there was anything to be forgiven.

Moving slowly not to startle Tsunade, Jiraiya pulled her quaking form to him, ensconcing her face to his neck in a gentle embrace. Tightening the band of his arms around her, Jiraiya tried to convey without words his presence and the permanence of it. He wasn't going anywhere...not anymore. For all the time they'd lost and for the son they never grieved together, they would find a way to recover...they would find a way back to what they had lost.

When Jiraiya pulled her into his embrace, Tsunade's weeping changed to full body wracking sobs as she poured out the story of the events that followed their first and only intimate liaison. For the first time, Jiraiya heard how due to her sensitive chakra, Tsunade knew she was pregnant less than a day after their rendezvous. Her nervous confession to her mother had sparked a heated rebuke from her father. Immediate plans to send her away were made – no one would know about the shame she had brought on the family. Before she left she was ordered to breakup with Jiraiya to make sure that the rambunctious youth did not try to follow her into her seclusion.

Tsunade had been sent to a nunnery in the Tea Country, kept in seclusion allowed only her medical studies as the pregnancy advanced. When the child was born, she only caught a fleeting glimpse of blond hair as the attendants proclaimed, "It's a boy," before whisking the swaddled babe out of the room never allowing him to be held in Tsunade's arms. She shared the torment of her milk being taken for weeks, until finally one day they stopped bringing her the pump. Without asking, she had known her child was gone and taken from her life.

It was then she was sent by boat to the Wind Country to recuperate. When deemed back to full strength, she was assigned to Suna for a time as "representative" of the Leaf Village. Finally two years after she had been sent away, at age eighteen, she was called home. Her guise of having been on a top secret mission had held up well – it had even explained her changes in mood. Many young nin came home changed by what they saw their first time in the field.

Through the torrent of tears and words, Jiraiya held her as if their lives depended on it. Suddenly the lost years did not matter, only the blonde beauty he now held in his arms. With her in his arms he could see all that he had searched for during his years of wandering. With Tsunade close to his heart, Jiraiya understood why all the other women he chased had left him empty and longing – they were not her and could never fill the space she had left in the heart of a boy not yet a man.

Slowly Tsunade's sobs ceased and her story came to an end. In that moment she allowed herself to sag into Jiraiya's arms – safe. The release of all that was pent-up inside her washed away her strength but Jiraiya, the one she'd fallen in love with so long ago, was here to catch her. One gaze into his eyes revealed the understanding and acceptance he freely offered.

Yes somewhere people were celebrating, and maybe, in some weird way, this was a celebration for them also. It was their first chance to grieve together for what had been cruelly taken from them.

This could be the first step to the healing of their hearts from the damage of their loss.


Posted 1/08/2014 7:40 PM