Jiraiya, the past, the future, and the White Fang's son.
Technically, this idea is AU, but at the moment there's nothing precisely to say that it can't be canon either... At any rate, I like to think the piece works okay whether or not you really buy into my crazy crack ideas about Jiraiya, so I hope you enjoy.
Jiraiya's last name is Hatake.
It's not something that generally comes up in everyday conversation, nor does he like to talk about it much. It seems as though no one in the world is left who remembers the Sannin as humans, connected to other humans by bonds of blood -- he never hears Tsunade's family name anymore, nor Orochimaru's; they're famous, well-loved, well-reviled, no one needs both names to recognize them -- and he is content to let his own family ties be lost to the flow of time and circumstance in the same fashion. It's not as if there's any need to keep the name; his family, what there was of it, has long since passed on.
Well... he has a nephew.
They don't talk about it, when they meet. The boy calls him Jiraiya-sama, coolly; Jiraiya just says 'you', with hard eyes, and looks as little as possible. He's grateful for the mask, that affectation carried down from grandfather to father to son, one that Jiraiya as a child had scorned -- what was the use of being a kickass ninja if you were planning on hiding, if you didn't want any credit for what you'd done --
But he's grateful in the present day that he doesn't have to see Sakumo's face every time he comes back to Konoha, because Kakashi is so much his father that it aches. In his looks, in his voice; in the way he talks to those damn dogs; in his eye-squinting smile. Not that the latter is ever directed at Jiraiya. He's always made a point of treating Kakashi as a subordinate and nothing more; and Kakashi has always responded in kind.
You see, Jiraiya hates the past, and Kakashi is the past. They're just too different to get along.
And in the back of his mind, in some quiet shameful place that he tries to ignore but can't quite abolish completely, he sort of wishes that the last vestige of his past would finally give up the ghost and leave him alone. Leave him the last Hatake, in a world where the name wasn't needed anymore.
Kakashi very nearly granted his wish once, when the boy was about 18. Jiraiya was a hundred miles away and only heard about it because they sent a messenger after him, wanting the closest -- only -- living relative present to make the legal decisions in case the boy didn't wake up. Which they weren't sure he was going to. The drug he'd dosed himself with was a standard-issue suicide pill, designed to be quick-acting in the face of capture and interrogation by enemy agents; it was a miracle someone had found him in time to even keep him breathing, and the counteracting jutsu was administered so rarely that few medic-nin were capable of performing it well. Kakashi lingered in a coma until not quite a week after Jiraiya got back to Konoha, a week which he spent getting very drunk, chasing women, and writing a short story about a samurai who let a girl cut his head off because he loved her so much.
He never did get around to publishing that one.
When Kakashi woke up, Jiraiya went to see him. He stood at the side of the boy's bed with his hands shoved in his pockets and asked archly what had gotten into him to do such a stupid thing, and what did he have to be so damn depressed about anyway. Kakashi had tiredly, so-politely replied that he supposed there was nothing in particular, really, and he was sorry to be such an inconvenience and honored that Jiraiya had gone to the trouble of coming all the way back to Konoha on his behalf. And Jiraiya had told him not to feel special or anything, they'd had to send a messenger to drag him here.
Kakashi politely nodded his understanding, and that was the end of their conversation. Jiraiya walked out, headed straight to the nearest open bar -- it was about 12:00 noon by then -- and proceeded to spend two extra days in Konoha because the hangover was so awful and there was no Tsunade around to beg for a headache cure.
At least the boy hadn't tried to gut himself with a tantou.
Since then -- well, Kakashi was never much of a conversationalist to begin with; but since then, when they see each other, they talk solely of Naruto, of business. Jiraiya doesn't know whether Kakashi minds or not, and he doesn't plan on asking. The farther, the better, he thinks.
He doesn't want to look into Sakumo's eye in Sakumo's face, accusing him of everything he should have done and didn't. Accusing him of all the things he knows are true. So he just keeps writing, and running away, and if once in a while a copy of his newest novel shows up unasked and unannounced in Kakashi's mailbox, of course that has nothing to do with anything he should or shouldn't have done.
He dedicated the last one, "To my biggest fan," and didn't have to wonder if Kakashi got the joke.
And sometimes when Jiraiya is in Konoha, taking a stroll around just to look at the place, to remind himself it's still real and growing and changing and not a frozen memory inside a dream, sometimes he visits the old tea shop where Sakumo stopped every day to tease the girl who worked the tables; and sometimes he sees Kakashi there sitting inside or standing outside and sometimes their eyes meet, and that dark gaze pierces Jiraiya -- ancient, so much older than him, and for a moment it almost feels not like Kakashi or like Sakumo but someone else entirely -- and then he realizes that Kakashi is doing nothing more than watching him calmly, and while that gaze is on him he knows with the certainty of the sunset every night that when he finally stops running, the past will still be right here waiting for him to come back.
His next novel is going to be about a samurai who gives a girl his sword and retires because he loves her so much. He's pretty sure it will be a bestseller.