Fractured Mask


He never thought he would see this day: Tsunade, preparing to defect. Tsunade, packing a scroll with her belongings, Shizune grimly waiting by the door.

Tsunade ignored him, finished packing, walked outside.

He trailed after her.

Finally, when it sank in that she was walking down the street, away from him, he quick-stepped in front of her.

"Get out of my way," Tsunade said. Her voice was flat.

Jiraiya spread his hands helplessly. "I understand." He took a step towards her. "Please believe me. I do. But you can't just run away." He looked at her pleadingly, afraid. Was he going to lose her? How could he lose her? He'd depended his whole life on her. She was always there. She wasn't going to leave. She was talking about leaving.

"What do you know? You're never unhappy about anything," Tsunade said.

Jiraiya stopped. She may as well have slapped him. After all these years, you still can't see the tears in my eyes? You can't see when pain overwhelms my smile, and I need to laugh it all away or fall to my knees? You can't see through the mask?

"You don't understand me at all," Jiraiya said. "You see what you want to see." His words came from bitter disappointment, and he wished he could take them back.

"If I saw what I wanted to see, I'd see Dan," Tsunade retorted.

Jiraiya was struck blind, instantly reeling.

For a moment, Jiraiya almost exploded. He felt his chakra surge, his heart leap in his chest with pain, his skin burning. Then he turned away, his fists clenched, and resisted the urge to run away. In his mind's eye, he ran over the rooftops of Konoha and just kept running. Never came back. Instead, he turned away. "Leave. Go away. I changed my mind. I don't care anymore."

He walked, back towards the Hokage Tower, back to tell Hiruzen he'd failed. Hiruzen would be disappointed, but he couldn't say that was a surprise. He was always a disappointment.

Part of him wondered why Tsunade didn't stop him.

But then again, Tsunade didn't love him.

He'd tried to stop her, but she would never stop him. She just didn't care. He wasn't Dan. My whole life boiled down to not being someone. Great. Fantastic.

Jiraiya hardly noticed he was crying. With her final words, she had fractured his mask.