Jiraiya’s at the hotel bar–and, yeah, maybe it’s a little early in the day for a drink or three, but who’s checking?–when he sees it: the briefest glimpse of all too familiar blonde hair.
He shakes his head, mutters to himself, “Don’t get your hopes up,” and goes back to his drink. It’s impossible, what he’s thinking, and besides, there’s a pair of beautiful young ladies who look like they might appreciate some excellent company.
He signals for the bartender to send over some complimentary drinks (mimosas, apparently, not like the princess who would appreciate harder liquor) and gets ready to put on some moves.
Fifteen minutes and a double dousing of socially acceptable daytime drinks in his face later, he spots it again: bright and messy, even through the champagne and orange juice in his eyes. This is a sign, no doubt, destiny telling him to follow–why else would those lovely ladies reject his advances?
The bartender, unimpressed but dutiful, passes Jiraiya a towel to wipe his face. Taking the opportunity, he asks, “What’s going on in the ballroom?”
The bartender shrugs, “Some kind of science convention. Not too sure. I’m hoping it’s medical–doctors really know how to drink.”
Jiraiya rolls his eyes, “You’re telling me.” But that’s a sob story for a different bartender, maybe, and he’s got an entirely different blonde to chase down.
According to the signs, it is indeed ‘some kind of science convention’. More specifically, one for cybernetic augmentations and enhancements. It is, unfortunately, hauntingly familiar stomping grounds for him.
Most of the names listed for panels are old or uninteresting–one of the main reasons he’s stopped coming to these things, even if they do offer all expenses paid. How this is supposed to be about innovations when it’s the same people rehashing the same tech is beyond him–except one of the smaller rooms, practically in fine print at the bottom of the itinerary, has a name he’s never seen before.
Not new to him entirely (Nara is common enough, almost a household name given the reach of their pharmaceuticals and the fact that practically everyone is medicated these days) but definitely new to this particular arena. Cautious branching out, maybe? That would explain why they have a small room instead of space in the main ballroom.
Except when Jiraiya gets to the room listed, it’s packed. Overflowing, practically. If he weren’t who he was, and the staff at the door hadn’t recognized him, he might not have gotten in–as is, it’s a tight squeeze. Which he wouldn’t mind if it were a crowd of buxom beauties, but, alas, he is surrounded by sweaty nerds. But why is such a popular panel in such a tiny room?
Or, maybe, he should be wondering: why is this Nara panel so popular?
Except once he gets to the front–“it’s such an honor that you’re here, sir, and also a surprise. We weren’t told you’d be here, but of course you’re more than welcome. Such an honor, please, there’s VIP seating,”–even that question flees from his mind.
Because sitting just next to that (surprisingly young and pretty, nothing like that stony-faced punk Shikaku) newcomer Nara is Minato…
… but not.
That’s definitely Minato’s god-awful hair, and damned too blue eyes, but it’s in a face more like Kushina’s. That’s definitely her smile on that brat’s face, aimed with laser accuracy at the Nara girl beside him.
“What the hell is going on?”