Our Share of the World: Or, Five Times Shikadai Didn’t Regret Having Cousins (2016-09-04)

“Tadaima,” Shikadai calls out tiredly, shucking off his sandals and trying not to drip too much on the floor.

“Okaeri,” a voice calls back in a musical tone, and Shikadai’s already aching muscles tense painfully. He just barely refrains from groaning out loud.

“Little cousin!” Kareru sings, head peeking out from behind the wall of the kitchen before the rest of his body follows. Instead of the standard Konoha chuunin vest, over his purple uniform he’s wearing a bright orange apron decorated with little fans.

It’s absolutely hideous, Shikadai has no idea how he can stand to wear it. The worst part of it is that it wasn’t a gift from any of Kareru’s parents, it was from Shikadai’s mum. Probably just to see the matching faces of horror her husband and son made.

Temari finds Kareru absolutely hilarious–it also doesn’t hurt that he loves to cook, is quite good at it, and tends to take over their kitchen to do so.

This early in the day, though, Kareru’s presence means that most likely both of Shikadai’s parents have gone visiting to Suna.

“Kareru-nii,” Shikadai responds, sullen. It’s not that he doesn’t like his cousin, it’s just that being around any of the Uzumaki–adopted cousin or not–is absolutely exhausting, and after today’s training, Shikadai really doesn’t have the energy to spare.

Kareru’s smile drops off his face, a look of concern replacing it quickly. “Oh no!” he cries out, turning his hand and summoning a pair of light blue towels. He darts forward, draping one around Shikadai’s shoulders, the other over his wet hair. “Water walking?” Kareru asks, beginning to scrub.

Shikadai doesn’t shrug him off, even though he’s not a child anymore. “No,” he sighs, “Moegi-sensei wanted to do some elemental training. Inojin has water nature. Obviously.”

“Mirai was annoyed at me, too, the week we did elemental training,” Kareru reminisces, before clicking his tongue, pulling the dampened towel away, and giving his cousin a smaller, softer smile. “There we go, now Temari-oba can’t get mad at us. Up to the bath with you, I’m making miso eggplant today. It’s my specialty–well, it ought to be, considering how often I make it for Kaka-jii-chan.”

Kareru is the only person in the village that can get away with calling the Rokudaime that.

Despite the awful day, Shikadai can feel his mouth twitch into a smile of his own.

“Shika,” a voice says, before a body drops down beside his in the grass.

He keeps his gaze skyward but greets back, amiable enough, “‘Kako.”

She shifts her arm, close enough to his that he can feel a line of warmth, but not so close as to touch. He shifts his own so that they do.

Shikadai and his cousin do not always get along, but he can appreciate the times when they do.

“I’d switch places with you, if I could,” Sakako offers, which prompts his thoughts to spin off into futile, impossible directions. He shuts those down quickly enough, no use wasting time on things that can’t be changed.

“You’re just saying that because Inojin’s your best friend,” he says, too heated to be teasing. They both know he doesn’t actually mean best friend.

Sakako doesn’t take offense. “Just like Boruto is yours,” she responds, pointedly.

Shikadai glares at the clouds that have failed to magically solve his problems.

“And anyway,” she continues, defusing the silence, “I’m as much Nara as you.”

Almost reluctantly, Shikadai barks a laugh. “But I’m not half the Uchiha you are.”

Sakako laughs as well, though the exchange is too routine to actually be funny. She sits up, bits of grass caught in the dark strands of her braids.

Automatically, Shikadai begins picking them out for her, but only the ones easily in reach. “Did you want to play video games?” he asks, because watching clouds isn’t nearly as entertaining as his dad makes it seem.

She shakes her head, but smiles to soften the rejection, “Mum came back home yesterday and Dad’s getting out of work early–the three of us are going to celebrate me making genin and come up with some new Uchiha clan traditions.”

Shikadai blinks, unsure if he should be jealous or guilty that the Nara clan’s traditions are so set in stone. He shrugs. “Say hi to Shikako-oba for me.”

“Will do,” she agrees, getting to her feet, “I’ll see you later, Shika.”

He sits up. “Later, ‘Kako,” he answers then, as she leaves, quietly adds, “and… thanks.”

She waves, doesn’t look back; Shikadai appreciates it.

Of his Suna cousins, Shikadai meets Araya first. They are both four years old, and even at that tender age, Araya has already begun wearing a mask–though his first one is cloth and only covers half his face, unlike the full porcelain hannya mask he will one day have.

Araya stands behind Shikako-oba, clinging shyly to her coat, but his eyes dart around in curious amazement. Shikadai doesn’t know why–it’s just the Nara clan woods, it’s nothing interesting. In contrast, he is being carried by his mum, head drooping sleepily every so often to the crook of her neck. It’s very early in the morning, sun barely peeking over the horizon, but Shikako-oba only rarely returns home.

His dad has already rushed forward, arm curling around his sister in an embrace she returns just as strong. They separate after a long moment, Shikako-oba’s hand dropping down to curl protectively around Araya’s head. He seems to calm, settles even closer to her.

“This is Araya,” she introduces, “Sabaku no Araya.”

Shikadai’s mum gasps softly, grip tightening to the point where he complains wordlessly and squirms to be put down. She complies, places him on his feet, and unfortunately he didn’t think this through because now he has to stand up with his own ability.

He really just wants to go back inside the house now, back to bed preferably, but he knows better than to interrupt the adults talking about adoption and clan registers and succession.

During their discussion, Araya has let go of Shikako-oba and made his way toward Shikadai swaying listlessly in his spot. His stomach growls; Shikadai is already keen enough to spot an opportunity when presented to him.

“Hungry?” he asks, grabbing onto Araya’s hand and already leading him toward the house, “We have bread.”

Araya hesitates, glancing back at Shikako-oba who sends him a nod and a smile, before eagerly following Shikadai into the house. “Do you have melon? It’s my favorite.”

It takes both of them to drag a chair screeching into the kitchen, but they succeed and reach the bread box easily enough. They do, in fact, have melon bread.

The first time Shikadai visits Suna is a miserable experience for the most part–he hates the heat, the dryness, the sand. He’s not yet a genin, hasn’t learned the chakra trick that allows temperature regulation, but the worst of it is the sand especially–it gets into his handheld and makes it malfunction within the first few hours of entering the desert.

It really does not bode well for this two week long visit.

But his mum looks happy in a way that he’s only seen a few times before–or, well, maybe happy isn’t the right word. Comfortable would be better–a result of being back in her homeland.

She walks through the village with confidence and familiarity; even after the years of living away the people recognize her and visibly defer to her; respect her, admire her. It’s nothing like the way she’s treated in Konoha, even now a stranger in a strange land.

For her, he tries not to complain too much.

Araya is busy with training even though Academy’s on break–Shikadai is already overheated without physical exertion so he turns down the offer to join. And plus, he’s not interested in kenjutsu.

Unfortunately, with that option removed and his handheld still busted because of the sand, he’s absolutely bored.

He’s languishing even in the air-conditioned hotel room, laying sideways on the couch, head lolling over the armrest.

He hears a snort from the doorway, spots Yodo smirking, ever present headphones around her neck. “Mother said most Nara were lazy, but this is pushing it, don’t you think?”

Except for a sigh, Shikadai doesn’t respond, closing his eyes as if that will make her disappear. Of his cousins, Yodo is his least favorite, which is just fine since he’s pretty sure she dislikes him, too.

“You’re usually playing games, at least,” she says, not taking the hint and actually coming into the room, perching on the back of the couch.

Shikadai grunts, waves at his handheld, “Can’t. Sand.”

Yodo snorts again, pulls her music player out of her pocket and gestures with it, “You think we haven’t found a way to deal with sand in our tech?” She makes a grabbing hand motion, “Give it here,” she demands.

Shikadai considers their rocky relationship, shrugs, then hands it over. It’s already not working, it’s not like there’s much she can do to make it worse.

But she takes it apart with care, expression going focused and nearly serene, checking over each piece and extracting grains of sand. Her fingertips glow with chakra as she concentrates on certain parts, smoothing away scratches.

When she reassembles it and switches on the power successfully, she smirks again and drops it onto Shikadai’s chest. He doesn’t even mind that much.

“You’re welcome.”

Shinki is only two years older than Shikadai, but he’s always seemed so much more mature: serious in a way that’s impressive, almost intimidating, rather than the annoying way Inojin constantly wants to train after school.

If one of Shikadai’s friends showed up with makeup like Shinki, he’d probably laugh at them, but on his cousin it looks fierce–like proper warpaint; a true shinobi, not a child playing at one.

The cloak of iron sand certainly doesn’t make him any less impressive. A mass of tangible shadows for all that he doesn’t use any of the Nara clan jutsu. No, Shinki focuses more on his father’s heritage than his mother’s–not that Shikadai has any room to throw stones.

Over all, it’s not surprising that the two of them aren’t close, but it’s a distance that Shikadai doesn’t know how to bridge and it rests uneasily on him.

Especially now, when it’s just the two of them, Shikako-oba having been called away by a frantic looking chuunin. She had hesitated for a moment, glancing between the two of them–worried less about their lack of a relationship and more about leaving a recent genin from a foreign country and an Academy student unsupervised–but it’s not as if they’re in any danger in the Nara clan head’s house, even with said clan head out of the village.

“Don’t–” she says, pauses, reconsiders, “… try not to get into trouble without me,” then, as she follows the nervous chuunin, mutters to herself, “Or at least not my level of trouble.”

Shikadai had looked at her in confusion but Shinki, having been her apprentice for three months already, only nodded obediently.

That was ten minutes ago.

“Video games?” Shikadai suggests hesitantly in the awkward silence. Though maybe it’s only Shikadai that thinks its awkward–Shinki looks like he’d be comfortable sitting and not saying anything for a couple hours more at least.

“No thank you,” Shinki answers, which puts that idea in the ground.

Shikadai fidgets, looks around desperately.

Shinki notices, puts him out of his misery. He counteroffers with, “Shogi?”

Shikadai sighs but leads the way to where his dad keeps the board. Of all the Nara traits Shinki decided to take, it’s this one. But even though it’s painfully old fashioned, Shikadai at least knows how to play–which is more than can be said for his classmates.

They set up the board and play but the silence turns awkward once more.

“You don’t like me very much, do you?” Shikadai asks, because it’s not as if there are many opportunities for the two of them to be alone.

His cousin is already a study in stillness, but the question prompts a tension which looks painful.

There’s a pause before Shinki answers, carefully considering his words before he speaks, “I don’t dislike you.” It’s a backhanded compliment at best, a confession at worst.

“Why?” Because sometimes even Shikadai gets curious.

This time, the answer is much faster, accompanied by a small, undiplomatic frown: “You’re firstborn of the firstborn.” Shinki says, as if that explains everything.

For a moment, Shikadai is confused: What would Shinki care about the Nara clan head succession? It’s not as if Shikako-oba ever made any attempt on the position, and it’s not like he even uses shadow jutsu anyway.

But then he realizes, Shinki’s not talking about Shikadai’s dad. He’s talking about Shikadai’s mum.

Shikadai’s mum who very easily could have been Kazekage if she had wanted to.

As if spotting Shikadai’s understanding, Shinki continues with a sigh that finally makes him seem human. One with emotions, even, “It doesn’t really matter, the Council would rather have Araya before someone raised Leaf. But it’s been…” he sighs again, “They prefer Yodo anyway and she doesn’t even have Magnet Release.”

Oh. That’s…

“That’s rough, buddy,” Shikadai tries, then automatically winces. Talk about awkward.

Shinki snorts, a smile creeping onto his face, before it turns into full blown laughter. Shikadai stares in amazement–he’s never seen Shinki do either–before he starts laughing, too.

When Shikako-oba returns, Shikadai is carefully coaching an uncertain Shinki through the tutorial level of the newest game he bought, even though Shikadai hasn’t yet played it himself.

~

A/N: Obviously these are not in chronological order.

Anon, I hope you enjoyed this because now I have all these next gen Sand Siblings raised by Shikaara (and Kankurou) feels and I hope it was worth it. – I’ll probably write it as a Dreaming of S(omething) installment so I won’t be in Shikadai’s POV.

Agh, this was so difficult yet satisfying to write. Like… I kept coming up with so many head canons as I was writing it and I had to refrain from shoving everything in and just blathering on about my feels. MY FEELS.

Also, I mean, if you squinted and looked sideways, all of these could be in the same universe. They’re not entirely mutually exclusive.

Uh…

Some head canons for the first two cousins under the cut!

Kareru and Sarutobi Mirai (Kurenai and Asuma’s daughter) were on the same genin team! 😀

Kareru has Water Nature chakra (because… Uzumaki).

Sakako–yes, I just mashed their names together, but I went to check and it’s an actual legit name. Probably, they’d use these kanji 祥子 which means auspicious/good fortune child. And considering she’s the child of two of the Lucky Sevens? She’ll definitely need that luck.

I just really wanted Shikadai and his cousin to have the same nicknames for each other that the twins do. My feels.

I’m not saying I ship Shikadai and Boruto. But in this weird parallels being drawn everywhere in next generation, if Boruto is meant to be the Naruto then Mitsuki is the Sai and Shikadai is the Sasuke. Okay, who am I kidding, I totally have stumbled into shipping Boruto and Shikadai. (If I cared a smidgeon more about Boruto as a character, I’d probably write some drama/betrayed fic about him cheating in his Chuunin Exams match against Shikadai)

Does Sakako actually have a crush on Inojin? Maybe? I dunno, I literally just made her up yesterday and I barely skimmed through Inojin’s narutopedia page. If she does, it’s probably something that she grows out of, or realizes that it’s super epic friendship.

(Just had the hilarious thought that Kareru can’t give anyone in the generation relationship advice because basically EVERYONE is his “little cousin” and it’s so incestuous, he can’t do it, Mirai, he just can’t!)

Since Sasuke isn’t weirdly exiled from the village, and I have the head canon that Shikako would be the one to travel around being a badass ninja/scholar/adventurer, Boruto’s canon dream to be a ninja like Sasuke instead of his father is now a dream to be a ninja like Shikako instead of his father. Which is sooooo good for me (though I’d hope DoS Naruto wouldn’t be as horrifically depressed/terrible a father).

Sasuke probably has rebuilt the Konoha Police Force but with far less discriminatory hiring (for obvious reasons). Probably some kind of accountability/rotation thing with ANBU to make sure the whole Danzo and ROOT problem never happens again ever.

I’m not super set on this, but I think Sakako’s Uchiha-Nara/Sasuke-Shikako epic bloodline combination has resulted in her being able to see ghosts. Maybe.

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