Author's Note: I have never seen a song-inspired fic that actually tried to make a story out of the song itself. This is an experiment in doing just that.


I Think I Love You


Jiraiya woke up one day with a disturbing realization. He was in love.

He'd thought he'd been in love many times before. He thought he'd been in love with Tsunade. And certainly he'd been filled with longings; he'd wanted to touch her hair, to sing her love ballads, compose poems for her, draw her portrait. But a smack in the face kind of changed all that. Being punched by the girl you had a crush on kind of dampened one's enthusiasm.

Nothing could dampen his enthusiasm where this new kind of love was concerned. His enthusiasm burned passionately, unabated by even the highest walls to climb: social convention. Jiraiya woke up that morning with a throbbing headache, realizing that he was in love, a love that could not be cured by inaccessibility.

In fact, as he got up and fixed himself some bracingly hot tea, Jiraiya reflected that he didn't know how to cure this love, even though it was in his best interests. Since Tsunade's punch to the face, he'd gotten warier about falling in love with people without their consent. He'd devised all sorts of ways to get over his love without confronting the person in question and throwing himself on them. The waiting, teeth-crunching fist was something he'd rather not throw himself on.

But this love – and finally, Jiraiya realized it was love, and not affection, friendship, or mentorship – tenaciously grew, sinking its roots in despite his attempts to control it.

He was never, ever going to tell Minato his feelings. That was the only solution.

xXx

He went to meet Minato at Minato's house on the edge of the village. These days, Minato was at home with Kushina, watching over his wife. Kushina wasn't affected by pregnancy in the same way other women were; as a jinchuuriki, she spent copious amounts of energy to keep Kurama in line. At the same time, she had a baby to nourish. This led to frequent naps, broken up only by eating, walking around the house a few times, and using the bathroom.

When Jiraiya entered the house, no one was in the living room. "Guys?" he called.

"I'll be right there," Minato called. "Kushina's just settling down."

"Ohayo, Jiraiya-sensei," Kushina called.

"Ohayo," Jiraiya called back.

They called back and forth across the house a lot. He knew it was considered rude, but that was just their way.

Jiraiya stood in the living room, his hands in his pockets, and waited. It was a homey living room, with lots of brightly colored blankets and potted plants and well-loved furniture. There were framed photographs on every flat surface.

Minato walked into the room, sparkling, adorable, his hair a messy cloud of blonde fluff.

"I think I love you," Jiraiya blurted. Oh, hell.

Minato blinked. "Huh?"

Jiraiya looked away, ducking his head nervously. "This morning, I woke up with this feeling…I didn't know how to deal with. So I decided I wouldn't tell you. I'd just hide it. Keep it to myself." He gave Minato a sheepish grin, trying to play it all off. "So didn't I go and shout it the moment you came into the room." He let out a nervous laugh. "Isn't that just like me?"

Minato smiled uncertainly. "Jiraiya-sensei…you're so nervous. Why?"

"I think I love you," Jiraiya tried to explain. He didn't know how he was going to get through this.

Minato tilted his head, giving Jiraiya an affectionate, scolding look. "So what are you so afraid of?"

"So what am I so afraid of?" Jiraiya cleared his throat, desperately trying to buy time.

Minato's smile widened. "Mm-hmm…"

Abruptly, Jiraiya sighed, deciding to give up the ghost. Minato wasn't running away, and he wasn't immediately calling him a pervert and trying to hit him. For whatever reason, Minato was taking this very well for a married man with a pregnant wife. Sometimes, Minato seemed to have more wisdom than he did, which was backwards, since he was supposed to be the sensei Minato came to for help. "I'm afraid of it. The love. I'm afraid because I'm not sure what to do about a love there isn't a cure for."

Minato came forward with cheerful, bouncing steps and poked the tip of Jiraiya's nose. "Silly Jiraiya. Love isn't something you cure."

Jiraiya blushed, and pouted at being called silly by his student. "But I never met a love I couldn't cure before."

"Then it wasn't love," Minato said. "Love is a thing you have no cure for, because it's a good thing. Love can't be a bad thing, and bad things are all we have cures for. Because if you cure a good thing, it makes people sick."

"But I think I love you," Jiraiya protested, trying to get out of the philosophical argument.

Minato beamed up at him. "Isn't that what life is made of?" He waved an index finger. "I don't think you should be worried."

"But it worries me that I can say I never felt this way before," Jiraiya said.

Minato chuckled.

Jiraiya raked his hand through his hair and turned away. "I don't know what I'm up against. I don't know what it's all about, if I never felt this way and this is what love really is. I've got so much to think about. I think I need some time."

Minato looked concerned. "Take all the time you need."

"I'll see you later," Jiraiya said. "I'm just not sure. I'm not sure. I'm just –" He gestured helplessly. He sighed and turned to face Minato, feeling sick at heart. "You don't have to worry. I only wanna make you happy. I'm not gonna cause any trouble. I'll just – I'll see you later." He teleported out. He didn't think he could stand to be seen in public.

He paced back and forth in his living room, periodically pausing and raking a hand through his hair. He was so confused. He didn't like being this way. Especially not when it concerned Minato. Minato was his favorite person in the whole world. No one was like Minato, no one could be like Minato to him, there was only Minato. Minato, Minato…his Minato. 'His' Minato was married to Kushina. Pregnant Kushina. Pregnant Kushina he didn't have anything against. Kushina was a nice girl. He liked Kushina. She was protective of Minato, and he liked that too. Minato deserved to be protected.

Jiraiya came to a revolutionary decision. A decision that made him a little nauseous, and a little scared, but it was the decision he made nonetheless. They could work something out.

xXx

Minato opened the door. "Hello?" He looked at Jiraiya in concern.

Jiraiya decided to get it off his chest as quickly as possible in one big speech. "I think I love you, and if you say, 'Hey, go away,' I will –" Jiraiya took a deep breath. "But I think I better stay around and love you. I think that's the better way to go. I think I better…because I love you." He stared at Minato for a moment, his anxiety getting the best of him. "Do you think I have a case?" he blurted.

Minato watched him with wide eyes.

Jiraiya felt nauseous, but he took all his courage and he shot his question into the silence. "Let me ask you to your face: Do you think you love me? Cause I'm not gonna assume anymore what anyone thinks of me. I think I love you. I wanna know." His voice trailed off inadvertently, and he forced himself to re-establish. "Do you think you love me?"

Minato stepped outside to join Jiraiya on the doorstep and shut the door.

Jiraiya made room for him, shifting over. He looked around. Only the forest surrounded them.

"Do you have that photo," Minato softly asked, "of our team when I was little? That was your favorite? You said that it was the way I smiled at you that was special."

"Yeah, I still have it," Jiraiya said. "It's on my dresser. In a frame."

"I was thinking about what a hero you are," Minato said. "That's why I was smiling that way."

Jiraiya couldn't hold his gaze. "But it's not the same…" He trailed off at Minato's expression.

"I grew up," Minato said.

Jiraiya looked at Minato with wide eyes, fragilely hanging on Minato's words.

"I still feel the same way," Minato whispered. "Only now I have the adult emotions to go with it." He crossed the room and slowly reached up. He touched Jiraiya's cheek with his fingertips. "I adore you."

Their lips were closer than they'd ever been. Jiraiya looked at Minato's delicate, upturned face. He noticed the glinting of the light off Minato's lips. The way Minato's eyelashes fanned out.

"I always have," Minato whispered. Jiraiya read every word off of Minato's lips at the same time, taking in every detail. Minato's fingers flexed slightly against his cheek, and then they were kissing, their lips meeting for the first time.

Warm flutters burst across Jiraiya's lips as Minato breathed, gently sighing against his mouth. Jiraiya watched Minato's eyes shyly close. That was the last thing he saw before he closed his eyes, cupped the back of Minato's neck, and lost himself in the moment.

Only after it was over did he realize: How is this going to work out? Jiraiya held Minato in his arms, startled and flushed, deeply afraid. "What about…What about her?" he asked in a tortured whisper. He couldn't bring himself to say her name in this moment.

"What have you got against winning?" Minato asked. "You never win." He stroked Jiraiya's cheek. "Jiraiya-sensei, you never win. I've noticed. You always have your heart broken. Why do you want to lose again?"

Jiraiya's eyes filled with tears. "Because it isn't right." He hugged Minato tightly. "It's not right to leave her when she's carrying your son. It's wrong." He couldn't let go. He could say all he wanted, but he physically couldn't let go. He couldn't give Minato back.

Minato flinched, startled, and looked up at Jiraiya with wide eyes.

Jiraiya expected to be slapped. For one horrified moment, he thought it was going to happen. And then he'd shatter. Because he couldn't take being kissed and then slapped on top of it, too. Accepted and then punished anyway.

Then Minato's expression softened. "Kushina understands. She's doing it for the village, not for me."

Jiraiya was so stunned he couldn't speak.

Minato resumed stroking Jiraiya's cheek. "And she's doing it for Uzushio. She's a Whirlpool nin at heart, Jiraiya. She's going back there as soon as the child is born. She's raising him among her people; as her father wants her to do. I didn't have her for keeps. No one did. Only her father does. That's what being a Jinchuuriki is like. And nothing I could do could save her from that. I already tried." He whispered, "You see, my heart has already been broken once. Don't break it again." He clung to Jiraiya, resting his head on Jiraiya's shoulder and hiding his face against the side of Jiraiya's neck.

Jiraiya held him, not knowing what to say.

Minato softly cried, his tears warm and wet against Jiraiya's skin.

"I'm sorry," Jiraiya whispered. He started stroking Minato's back. "But I'm not leaving you. I'm staying right here. I'm going to stay around and love you."

Minato hugged him tightly.