A/N: Hey! :) Oh my, oh my, oh my...so, it's been four years since I've watched/read/or written anything Naruto related. Then, all of the sudden, I get the urge to find out what happened to my favorite characters and couples...and here I am! I realize Jiraiya's death happened a LONG time ago in the manga and a pretty long time ago in the anime, but I couldn't not write anything for the Pervy Sage. Especially because I think the song this story is based on would describe Tsunade's feelings perfectly. Well, with that said...enjoy :)
Reviews would mean the world to me! It's been over a year since I've posted anything on fanfiction and four years since my last Naruto story. I'm kinda nervous... :)
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto! The lyrics at the beginning and ending are from the song Stand in the Rain by Superchick, which I also don't own.
She never slows down. She doesn't know why but she knows that when she's all alone, feels like it's all coming down. She won't turn around. The shadows are long and she fears if she cries that first tear, the tears will not stop raining down.
She knew that he wasn't coming back. She knew when they said their final farewells, she knew when she took the bet that he wouldn't, and she knew, now, as she stood in her office watching the rain pouring down from the dark sky.
She was never going to see him again.
"If you come back," She whispered quietly, a single tear trailing down her cheek. "I'll give you that date you've always wanted. That's a promise."
When the news came that he had died, something inside her heart had snapped. Having it confirmed, having it being completely and unquestionably true, it broke her. Every single person she loved was taken from her. Nawaki. Dan. And, now, Jiraiya. As she relayed the news to Naruto, she kept her voice steady. Even when the teenager turned on her with hate filled eyes and lashed out with harsh, hurtful, words she kept her poker face in place. But judging by the look in his eyes, she'd lost him, now, too.
It wasn't her grandfather's necklace that was cursed. It was her.
She allowed herself only a moment to grieve her teammate. Her friend. The man she'd grown to love. But after the brief memories and the tears as she leaned, defeated, against the wall, the last remaining Sannin wiped her tears away. She was the Hokage. She couldn't afford to let her emotions get to her. Not yet, anyway. Not when she had so much to do. She'd cry later, privately.
Tsunade didn't bother lifting her head when she heard her assistant calling her name. She'd fallen into a drunken sleep only a few hours before, having taken to staying in her office at all times. The blonde woman just continued to rest half on her desk, eyes shut and sore from trying to cry her pain away. Whatever Shizune wanted, Tsunade wasn't interested.
"Tsunade-sama, please." The voice of her worrisome assistant pleaded. "It's late. You need to get some rest."
Lifting herself from the desk, Tsunade barely glanced at Shizune before she turned away, unlatched the window, and jumped out into the darkness.
Shizune frowned, clutching TonTon to her chest a little tighter. "I'm so sorry, Tsunade-sama…"
As Tsunade walked the dark, deserted Konoha streets, a light rain began to fall. Of course, she thought bitterly. It had been raining when she found out about Nawaki's death. It rained the day she had failed to save Dan's life. It rained when she realized that, no matter how shitty a gambler she was, she'd won her last bet against Jiraiya. It was like the sky was paying it's respects, too. Before she knew it, the Hokage was standing in front of the memorial for shinobi who lost their lives in battle.
His name was at the bottom of the list. Newly added.
A swell of pain bubbled up in her chest, and the tears began to slide down her cheeks. She reached out, tracing the characters with her shaking finger.
"I'm sorry." She whispered, closing her eyes and bowing her head. "I'm sorry, Jiraiya."
The rain picked up, soaking her green jacket to her back. Blonde strands of hair stuck to her face, but she didn't bother to move them away. Instead, the bereft woman dropped to her knees in front of the memorial, hands clasped in her lap and head bent. She wanted to lie down and sink straight into the ground. There was only so much heartache one person could take, and Tsunade was at her limit. She was broken.
She'd lost nearly everything. Everyone.
"Damn it," She cursed, punching the ground beside her as anger spiked through her. "You damn fool. Damn. Stupid. Idiot." She accentuated each word with a punch. "How could you leave me too? Of all people, I trusted you."
"I loved you." She dropped down, defeated, and pulled her knees to her chest, holding onto them as tightly as she could. "There. It took me forty years, but I admitted it. But it's too late. I'm always…always too late." She laughed bitterly. "And you said I wouldn't cry for you. Are you happy?"
The Hokage choked on her own words as the tears overcame her. Once her tears had begun, there was no stopping them. No way to avoid the grief that she'd been hiding from with alcohol and paperwork. So she sat there, wet clothing plastered to her skin as the sheets of icy rain continued to pour down, and sobbed.
She was so caught up in her heartache that she didn't hear him approaching. She didn't know he was there until she felt somebody sit beside her, their warm arm touching her icy cold one. The shock of someone finding her here, like this, was enough to make her lift her head to see who it was.
A pair of cerulean blue eyes stared back at her.
"Don't cry, Granny Tsunade." He said quietly. She couldn't tell if the water running from his eyes was from the rain or his own tears. Her own vision was too blurry to see clearly anyway. Tsunade bowed her head again, not saying anything in return. Now the shame at being found like this was mixing with her grief.
"He died for us." Naruto said again, louder, more confident. "For Konoha. We have to show him that what he did wasn't for nothing. We have to protect the village, the people, and get revenge."
The anger in Naruto's voice at the end of his sentence made Tsunade glance at him. His eyes had turned red, the Kyuubi making its appearance known. But, as soon as it happened, his face relaxed back into the annoying teenager she'd come to love. He stood up, then, and silently held a hand out to her.
Tsunade stared at it, thinking over his words. If there was one thing she was going to make damned sure of, it was that Jiraiya's death wasn't in vain. And, she knew, she couldn't do that by sulking in front of the Killed in Action memorial. She had a village to take care of. The teenager in front of her was hurting just as badly as she was and he was able to pull through it, so why couldn't she? The Fifth Hokage wasn't going to let this ruin her. Not until the village was safe, and not until she'd stepped down and given the position to Naruto. Maybe then she would allow herself to crumble. But now…now, she was going to be strong.
Grasping Naruto's outstretched hand, Tsunade pulled herself up. Without a second thought she wrapped her arms around the orange and black clad young man.
"Ew, Granny Tsunade, you're all wet." He muttered, but hugged her back just as tightly.
Tsunade smiled at him when they pulled apart. She hit his shoulder gently, "Shut up, gaki."
Naruto rolled his eyes and, side by side, the Hokage and future Hokage walked away from the memorial of the man that'd brought them together. The man they both loved. With one last glance backward, Tsunade took a deep breath. I love you, you old pervert. And when I see you again, I'm kicking your ass for dying. She shivered when, a moment later, she swore she heard the whisper of "I love you too, hime" drift to her through the now drizzling rain.
Stand in the rain, stand your ground. Stand up when it's all crashing down. You stand through the pain, you won't drown, and one day what's lost can be found. You stand in the rain.
A/N: Love it? Hate it? I'd love to hear what you thought :)