Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, nor am I making any profit (from anything on the internet or real life).

Many thanks to hanakage for beta-ing this for me. ILU!


Of Sake
Alcyone


Tsunade loved sake. There was just something comforting about the bottle and cup, the warmth of the drink, the pleasant lull that settled after drinking. Brown eye twinkling with pleasure, Tsunade wrapped her perfectly manicured hand around the bottle. Lifting it, she tipped the mouth of the bottle over the cup. She could already taste the liquid, could see the pale golden ambrosia peek over the edge—

"Tsunade-sama!"

—and nearly dropped the bottle.

Sputtering, Tsunade managed to right the bottle and glowered at the drops now glistening on the surface of her desk.

"Shizune…" Tsunade enunciated warningly.

Shizune blanched, but stood her ground. "Tsunade-sama, you were supposed to meet with the Elders half an hour ago. They are waiting."

"And they can keep waiting. It's not like they have anything important later. They already have one foot in the grave."

"Tsunade-sama!"

Damn the girl had perfect timing. And pitch.

"Come, Tsunade-sama, they can't be kept waiting any longer." Shizune held a sheaf of papers before her as a shield.

"How the—?" Tsunade was a Sannin so she was certain she should have noticed when Shizune moved from being in front of her desk to beside her. "Shizune, damn it, stop hurrying me! I just want to have one sip—did you just stamp your foot at me? Damn it, Shizune, I am still Hokage and… What are you doing?"

Shizune grabbed the bottle and corked it. "I will return this to you after you meet with the Elders."

"Shi-zu-ne…"

Had Tsunade been able to look at herself then, she would have seen lightning crackle ominously around her.

Shizune was practically climbing the walls, but refused to let go of the bottle. "The Elders," she said in what she hoped was an authoritative tone of voice. It came out as a squeak.

Tsunade, eyeing the captive bottle, swore under her breath something about thankless assistants and swept from the room.

Shizune, able to breathe, set the bottle on Tsunade's desk and hastened away; she was unable to believe she was still alive.


"Worthless, decrepit vestiges of prehistory," Tsunade muttered darkly as she stomped back to her office. She threw herself into her chair violently. "Lock Naruto in the village…those senile old bags dare order me? Why those—" Her burning gaze fell on the innocent sake bottle and her tirade cut short. Slowly grabbing the bottle, she poured the sake into her cup. Holding it protectively, she glanced furtively around.

No Shizune. No advisors. No messengers.

Grinning, she raised the cup to her lips, allowing the liquid to fall into her mouth.

"TSUNADE-BAA-CHAN!"

Tsunade choked, spraying the sake over her paper-clogged desk.

Still coughing, she swiveled in her chair to face the yellow and orange eyesore bellowing from her window.

"Naruto! What the hell do you think you're—?"

At the same time as she exclaimed, Naruto frowned at her desk. "Ew, Tsunade-baa-chan, cover your mouth."

Tsunade's left eye twitched.

Oblivious to the ticking blonde time bomb in front of him, Naruto continued. "Oi, oi, Tsunade-baa-chan! I mixed wind chakra with Rasengan and Kakashi-sensei said he wanted to try it against a normal Rasengan so he did a Rasengan—I didn't know he could do it too and, when I asked, he said Yondaime taught him; he was so lucky to have Yondaime for a teacher, right? And—"

"Get. On. With. It." Tsunade forced the words through tightly gritted teeth.

"Fine, fine." A vein visibly pounded in Tsunade's temple at the condescending wave of a hand. "Kakashi-sensei's arm got hurt so Yamato-taichou told me to get you so you could heal him and see my new Rasengan."

"Is Kakashi dying?"

"No."

"Can you do your Rasengan at any time?"

"Uh, yes."

"Then it can wait." Tsunade turned back to her bottle. She blinked. "What the—?"

Naruto was on her desk, glaring at her out of tightly squinted eyes.

First Shizune, now Naruto snuck up on her? How were they doing this?

"Have you been drinking?" Naruto frowned at her.

"No," she answered honestly. The unfortunately at the end of that phrase went unsaid.

"A Hokage isn't supposed to drink."

"And I'm much too old for you to lecture, brat."

Tsunade almost went cross-eyed at the pointing finger an inch from her face. "Aha! So you admit you're old!"

Tsunade's face thundered. Her fist slammed into the area Naruto had been sitting on. Her desk splintered around her hand, but she was already turning, another fist aiming at the annoying kid. She was going to hurt him, she was going to kill him, Jiraiya, Yondaime and promises be damned. No one called her old and no one got between her and—

"My sake!"

A chakra-infused fist stopped a hair's breadth from the brat's nose. He held the bottle in front of him like a shield.

"Give me back my baby, I mean, bottle."

"Go to the training grounds."

"I'm the Hokage. I will not be ordered around."

"Fine." The hand holding the bottle moved. The bottle dangled from his fingers, nothing but air between it and the ground below.

Tsunade drew herself to her full height. She fought to make her grimace a smile. "All right, Naruto-kun, I'll go. Just hand me the bottle so I can put it away."

She watched the boy's features relax—"Sucker!" she cackled to herself—and the bottle moved towards her.

"Hey, wait." Tsunade's hand froze as the bottle was suddenly jerked away. "You've never called me Naruto-kun before. Are you trying to trick me?"

Hokage and would-be Hokage glared at each other for a long moment.

"Give me the bottle!" Tsunade screamed and dove at him. With a hair-raising cry of terror, Naruto threw his hands in front of his face.

And let go of the bottle of sake.

Tsunade and Naruto sported twin looks of terror, if for different reasons, as the corked bottle fell.

As she watched her precious sake come closer to shattering, Tsunade grabbed Naruto by his shirt and hurtled him out the window. "Catch it!"

As she looked out, a cloud of dust rose to her, as did a low and pained groan.

Jumping out, she ignored the small crowd that had gathered. She peered into the shallow crater.

"Did you get it?"

The orange and black-clad body did not respond.

"Oi, Naruto. Get up, brat. …Naruto. Naruto? Don't make me kick you up, brat. Naruto. Naruto! Oh shi—! Naruto!"

Tsunade kicked the limp body, hoping he'd reel up indignantly, calling her an old woman. He didn't move.

Something clenched her heart. A gasping scream constricted her throat. Her hands were shaking.

Poof!

The clone disappeared in a cloud of smoke. Tsunade gaped at the now empty hole, a very different emotion filtering through her veins.

"Haha! You should see your face, Tsunade-baa-chan!" Naruto held the bottle tauntingly. Before he could laugh again, his eyes widened in terror.

"NARUTO! I am going to kill you!"

Tsunade dove at him, but he had already set off running. Over his shoulder, he yelled, "You can't kill me! I'm going to be Hokage, remember? You gave me the necklace!"

"I'm going to do what this village should have done sixteen years ago! Get back here, you little demon!"

At the training grounds, Kakashi had his nose buried in an orange novel. Nonetheless, he examined his wounded arm curiously. He had imagined a wind-infused Rasengan to be stronger than the original, but he had not considered it would be so much stronger. And the jutsu wasn't complete yet. Shaking his head slightly, he turned back to the novel.

"Oi, senpai." Yamato turned to Kakashi. "Do you feel that?"

"I told you not to send Naruto." Balancing the book in one hand, he managed to turn the page. He remained completely impassive as the tremors grew stronger, the trees at the far end of the grounds shook and an agonized scream ripped through the air.

The orange blur that was Naruto crashed against the ground. His landing carved a long swath in the earth, coming to a stop just in front of and two feet below Kakashi and Yamato. His body twitched at random intervals and he held, surprisingly enough, an unscathed bottle of sake in his hand.

As Tsunade stalked toward them, murder in her eyes, Kakashi turned another page. "Remember the bet you made after Naruto left?"

Yamato' eyes widened. "Uh, senpai, that wasn't serio—"

"You lost. And as per the stipulations you set…"

Yamato blanched.


Holding her sake, Tsunade snuck through Konoha. She had considered returning to her office, but discarded the idea immediately. A certain black-haired assistant and blonde loudmouth haunted it. When there wasn't a mountain of paperwork, there was a meeting. Or an emergency. No, she would not go to her office.

Instead, she opted for the roof, under the watchful gazes of the Hokage carved into the stone. Sitting half-hidden on the floor, she let her gaze linger on all of them: her grandfather, her granduncle, her teacher, her friend's pupil, herself. She raised the bottle to the face beside her own.

"He's not quite there yet," she said quietly. "He still needs to grow up so much. But he's already taken your jutsu farther than anyone could have imagined. And he cares for these people and this village. In time, he'll be a great Hokage. You would be proud."

Setting the bottle beside her, she closed her eyes. She could almost see that obnoxious grin, now gracing a whiskered face. She allowed small smile to touch her features. Her "living-a-lie" features.

"Stupid brat," she muttered. Her hand reached to grab the bottle. Her fingers met nothing but air.

"Priu-priu."

Her eyes shot open.

Ton-Ton watched her, pink head cocked slightly to the side. Her pearls were iridescent in the dying light and her calls were slightly muffled by the bottleneck she held in her mouth.

Lips arching upward in what she hoped was a smile (it looked more like a grimace), Tsunade held out her hand. "Come here, Ton-Ton. Give me the bottle. Come on. Come on. Good girl. That's it. That's a good—get back here you pig!"

"Priu!"

Tsunade really couldn't believe it. She was Tsunade, descendant of the Senju Clan, taught by Sandaime, one of the legendary Sannin and the greatest medic-nin alive. All she wanted out of life was to enjoy her sake. And gamble. But mostly enjoy her sake. But Shizune, Naruto and now Ton-Ton tried to keep her sake from her?

"I'm going to turn you into bacon, you filthy pig!"

She raced after the soon-to-be-dead pig, yelling various expletives and taking down everything in her way: a door, a stand, a wall, an Elder…

"Tsunade-hime!"

Tsunade froze.

Homura and Koharu scowled at her. "Tsunade, what is this behavior?"

Tsunade felt like she was seven years old and was caught taking a sip of her father's sake again.

"You are Hokage," Homura said.

Where is that pig?

"This is unsightly behavior," Koharu continued.

That was my office door closing, wasn't it?

"You need to set the example."

Did she spill my sake?

"Running around screaming is hardly proper."

I'm going to give her to the Akimichi Clan.

Taking a leaf out of Naruto's book, she waved a condescending hand. "Yes, yes. I apologize, but I have an important matter to attend to."

Turning her back on the sputtering Elders, she forced herself to walk calmly the rest of the way to her office. As her hand rested on the wood, prepared to push it open, a familiar voice reached her ears.

"—good little pig. Tsunade has you well trained, eh? …Ah, that hit the spot."

Eyes widening, Tsunade slammed the doors open with excessive force.

"Oh, Tsunade." Jiraiya grinned, face flushed. In one hand, he held Ton-Ton. In the other, he held a bottle of sake—her bottle of sake—, which he lifted to his mouth to catch the last drops. "That's some good sake. You've always had good taste, Tsunade. Tsunade? Hey, Tsunade, what's wrong?"

"You. Drank. My. Sake."

"No, I didn't. I—oh. Oh. Uh, Tsunade, I didn't know. Ton-Ton came in and—stop coming closer. I have information on Akatsuki! Information you need. Honestly, Tsunade, I am sorry. Listen, why don't we go out and I'll buy you as much sake as you want? Oh wait, Tsunade, please, no, no, NO!"

The ANBU stationed around the office didn't even blink as the roar of an angry bull and high-pitched feminine screams slaughtered the silence.

"24-hour shift says she finally kills Jiraiya-sama."

"No, Shizune-san will probably intervene again."

"She's going to throw him out the window."

True to the ANBU captain's prediction, Tsunade hurled Jiraiya out her office by his ear, though not before beating him within an inch of his life.

He shook his head. Did no one know not to get between the Hokage and her sake?

As half an hour later he watched Hokage-sama's pink-haired apprentice rouse her and try to take the sake away, he sighed. Apparently not.