Occurs during Chapter 65.


"Tell me this wasn't a waste of time," Tsunade says as an ANBU removes Tayuya from the office.

"Not entirely," Jiraiya says, and places a white mask on her desk. For a second, Tsunade thinks it's an ANBU mask, and is confused, but then her eyes begin to pick out the differences.

"Ne," she breathes. "Root. They're supposed to be disbanded."

"So we thought," Jiraiya replies grimly. "But it might explain a lot of things."

"I never liked him," Tsunade says, "but … treason? That's not Danzo. Always, his focus has been on making Konoha stronger." It might not be Danzo though, just the continuation of his secret Black Ops group.

"But he never did agree with Sensei on what 'stronger' meant, and you have to admit," Jiraiya says, "he wasn't happy with you becoming Hokage."

Of Sarutobi's students, Tsunade is the one that believes most in altruism. Everything she has done, from founding the Medical Corps to her Jutsu inventions, lead back to helping others. And that is the kind of strength that men like Danzo mistake for weakness.

"He made a push for the Hat when Sensei was killed," Jiraiya says. "But Koharu and Homura weren't convinced. They're too old for war, they said."

Tsunade smirks. "Proof that age brings some wisdom at least."

"It does raise troubling questions though," Jiraiya continues. "Was he trying to get rid of the Sound prisoners because they knew something, or for Orochimaru? Neither of the options is a good one, but …"

Unsaid was that one was far worse.

"And if he is, how far back does it go?" Tsunade adds, mind ticking over. "It casts new shadows over the Exam Invasion, for one. "

"And certain other events," Jiraiya finishes. "Because if things you didn't order were happening in the village, who would you first look to for the culprit?"

"The clans," Tsunade admits. "Large groups of internally loyal shinobi, with regular meeting times and locations… free from observation or regulation… it's almost the perfect set up for a coup."

And she has been looking at them, wondering…

Jiraiya runs a hand through his hair. "It just keeps getting worse and worse."