He is ten and just beginning to experiment with fuinjutsu–far too young, some would say, but if he’s old enough to fight and die for his clan then surely he’s old enough to risk dying for knowledge.
And, perhaps, in one universe that is what happens.
Of course, in another universe the seal succeeds without any issue and this day passes without anything memorable happening.
This is yet another universe, though. One where it doesn’t fail fatally, but it also doesn’t quite succeed either.
Instead of yes or no, this universe answers with a question of its own.
Tobirama tries to create a teleporting seal, and ends up summoning a person instead.
He’s not surprised, necessarily. That was the basis of this experiment, after all, trying to reverse engineer the normal animal summoning seals into something that can transport a human.
He was just expecting that person to be himself. Not some random stranger.
Thankfully, she’s a Nara–the clan’s symbol clearly embroidered on her clothes, though her armor is unlike any he’s seen before–and the Senju’s treaty with the Akimichi-Nara-Yamanaka alliance is one of the most reliable.
Yes, he could have done much worse and ended up with a hostile Uchiha on his hands–but still. It’s a stranger summoned where he expected none. It’s more than a bit alarming.
The girl is maybe only a few years older than him, but the scars and seals decorating her skin makes her seem older. As does the sharp look she sends his way, distracting him from the snaking shadow along the ground that freezes him in place.
“Who are you?” she asks, pulling out a pair of kunai from a pouch on her hip. Tobirama, in casual clothes, mimics her movements and only gets empty air in his hands.
A strong Nara, then. Only the strong ones can make the jutsu control their targets instead of just paralyze.
“I should be asking you that,” Tobirama says, because he is the Senju chief’s second son and it doesn’t matter if he’s making a poor showing of his clan at this moment, he is still representative of it, “This is Senju clan territory.”
“Senju clan–” she repeats, before biting off her words, brow furrowing, eyes darting around the small patch of forest Tobirama uses as his personal training grounds. She spots the wide scroll beneath her feet, covered in his fuinjutsu prototypes.
“Hiraishin,” she murmurs.
Tobirama very carefully doesn’t flinch. That’s what he was going to name his teleportation jutsu. He hasn’t told anyone.
“You’re… Tobirama Senju?” she asks, and this time he does flinch. Because though he may be the Senju chief’s second son, he is still only ten. No one should be able to recognize him on sight or know his name–not even their allies.
“How do you know–” he begins, only to be cut off.
“Tobirama!” he hears his brother cry out, voice wending its way through the trees. The Nara girl steps back and away–off the Hiraishin seal–and promptly disappears.
Tobirama hastily rolls up the scroll and vows to make adjustments so this doesn’t happen again.
In a week’s time, he tries out the Hiraishin again, and isn’t at all disappointed when it succeeds as planned.
He is fifteen and his brother has died, the Senju chief’s four sons whittled down to two.
He didn’t cry at Kawarama’s death and he’s not going to at Itama’s, but it still hurts. He’s sick of mourning for brothers lost. He doesn’t want to do it again.
Hashirama rambles on about peace, about a world where all clans work together instead of tearing each other apart, but Tobirama has always been a realist.
Dreams mean nothing without the sacrifice to make them reality. Words are empty puffs of air until chakra turns them into jutsu.
Tobirama throws himself into research and surfaces five weeks later with another prototype.
And mad, somewhat twisted hope.
What if he didn’t have to mourn dead brothers? What if he could bring them back?
A stray thought captured with seals. Spirituality wrangled into science.
Hashirama wants peace to prevent more of his loved ones from dying.
Tobirama believes in efficiency.
It probably says something about him that he thinks death is less insurmountable than peace. Or maybe it’s just the world he lives in.
When he goes to his patch of forest–more and more his as the years go by, lined with traps that only he knows how to bypass–he prepares the Edo Tensei. He’s not so far gone that he’ll kill someone just to experiment with a seal, but he thinks a fallen deer will be suitable enough. Its about the same mass as a human, and if it fails then he can always bring home the meat for venison.
In another universe, this would do nothing–deer and humans being incomparable when it comes to souls–and he would shelve the Edo Tensei for another time.
But this is the universe that likes to play tricks, and so something strange occurs once more.
Tobirama would be lying if he said he never thought about that first attempt at the Hiraishin. But it’s true that he never really thought about it frequently–his clan is at war and he is one of the Senju’s strongest fighters, he has enough on his plate.
So when that same strange Nara girl appears, somehow the same age as before, he is both bewildered and unsurprised.
“Oh,” she says, as if this also bewildering yet unsurprising to her.
“Hello again,” Tobirama says, because to be honest, he thinks he would rather deal with an unknown Nara than actually have succeeded at reviving one of his brothers with a deer, even if that was what this whole seal was for. “I never got your name,” he adds, because that has been bugging him for the past five years in a small, niggling sort of way.
“Nara,” she replies unhelpfully. Before looking straight down at the scroll beneath her feet. “This isn’t the Hiraishin,” she remarks, head tilting this way and that to read the inked characters.
“No, it isn’t,” he says, equally unhelpful, because two can play at that game.
She sighs, getting the point, “Shikako Nara,” she amends.
“That’s the Nara clan head’s naming scheme, isn’t it?” he asks, though he already knows the answer.
“My father is clan head, and my brother will be after him,” she answers.
The current clan head is a woman.
Tobirama says as much.
Shikako taps her foot.
He rolls his eyes, “Edo Tensei.”
“Ah,” she says, pursing her lips for a long moment as if contemplating a difficult decision, before she continues, “You’re missing something. As it is right now, you’ll never be able to summon a specific person; you need to have their DNA or modify each seal per person. Otherwise you’ll end up pulling random souls from out of nowhere.”
“What would you know about it?” he asks, near to bristling as this stranger talks about his original technique as if she’s an expert.
“Haven’t you figured it out yet?” she deflects, which works, annoyingly enough. “My father is the sixteenth clan head. My brother will be the seventeenth.”
The Nara clan isn’t that old.
In order for teleportation to work, seals must subvert space and time. Death is beyond both.
She smiles. “It’s called Konohagakure,” she says, shifting her arms to show off the metal plate sewn onto her sleeve, a leaf engraved in its center.
His brother’s dream comes true.
“You always were my favorite Hokage,” she adds, dropping that conversational bomb and–by stepping backwards–disappearing immediately.
Apparently, Tobirama has work to do.
They meet again. Several times, actually, though usually on purpose. Shikako never seems to mind–then again, that may be because she doesn’t appear to age each time he summons her. For all he knows, each meeting occurs consecutively for her, while for him they are months and years apart.
She drops hints about the future, but only ever when she wants to–never when he tries to trick it out of her. He stops trying after the third time and just asks her directly. If she says no, then that’s fine, she usually gives him some other tidbit of info in exchange.
Getting to see a finished Sword of the Thunder God was worth the tight-lipped refusal on the fate of the Uchiha clan.
Or so he thought at the time.
But Madara has defected, baying for blood, and the Kyuubi is running rampant. Tobirama knows his brother is strong and that Mito is powerful in her own right, but Madara has always been his brother’s weakness and how can one human compare to a bijuu?
They are forces of nature given will, gods compared to mere mortals…
… mortals compared to gods?
It is a stray thought, but Tobirama feels almost guided in this direction. His greatest fuinjutsu techniques have always been about summoning: summon himself, summon the dead, and now–
Summon the Shinigami.
He knows that doing so may make his life forfeit–but he would rather himself than his brother. Rather himself than their fledgling village with clans only tentatively attempting peace–he is prepared to die.
But this universe has other plans.
Tobirama was always her favorite Hokage.
A/N: I’m gonna be honest… this was a loooot better in my brain and I considered not posting it, but I’ve been working on this for two days and it seemed kinda a waste not to?
Anyway, not shippy, but I’ve kinda been having Tobirama feels for non-DoS related reasons and then I remembered that Tobirama is Shikako’s favorite Hokage and well, I thought, why not do something with that?
Of course, I didn’t articulate it as well as I had hoped… and I maybe got distracted and gave up about two-thirds of the way through, but mreh. I have no idea what’s happening on Shikako’s end–is she dead and thus god in this universe? Is she caught in some weird time/dimension-traveling fuinjutsu accident? I dunno.
Title is a vague reference to Genie from Aladdin.
I’ll probably clean this up/rewrite this before I put it up on ao3…