Shikako wakes up.
Not with a start–it wasn’t her sense of danger that prodded her from unconsciousness–no need to wake up Rin’s sleeping form, gentle breathing beside her.
It reminds her of her childhood, in a skewed and almost desperate way, curling up next to her brother for warmth and comfort. In war, comfort is a scarcity, she will not take it from Rin if she doesn’t have to.
Shikako keeps her movements slow, doesn’t stiffen up either, opens up her chakra sense to investigate what woke her. Rin’s dual nature calm and soothing, Obito’s volcano banked for now. Kakashi, then. Which makes sense, considering it is his watch right now.
She eases away from her bedroll, lined up parallel to Rin’s so close as to nearly be touching, and silently makes her way over to where the newly summoned Pakkun sits.
In her chakra sense, summons are multidimensional (pun only slightly intended). Each creature has their own chakra, their own signature, but summons have an additional layer of their summoner’s chakra:
Pakkun is familiar to her–both then and now–rich and thick and surprisingly dense for a dog his size, like the best kind of hot cocoa. With the added zing of Kakashi’s electric-ozone signature, she can easily picture a stormy day, lightning incoming, enjoying it from the safety of her own home.
The pug gives her an ear flick–acknowledgement and not so subtle request for scritches–and, once she’s seated, jumps into her lap.
“He’s restless,” Pakkun says in a voice that isn’t at all higher than the one she remembers, “Went to check out the perimeter.”
Shikako doesn’t bother to ask if he took some of the other summons with him, Kakashi isn’t stupid, but it still seems… risky. Overly confident, maybe.
The Kakashi she knows has decades and a Sharingan on this one, and she still worried about him.
There’s no campfire–not much of a camp, really, just an arrangement of their bedrolls to reduce wind chill and detection, and traps all around–but the moon is nearly full, and it’s just enough to cast a weak shadow.
Pakkun critiques her shadow puppets while they wait for Kakashi to return.
Dawn rises, cold morning light turning the sky a gentle lilac for a few, breathtaking moments. She is tired, but she doesn’t regret sitting up despite Kakashi’s terse words then or the brutal pace he sets now.
After all, they’re heading to the Sangaku Outpost for her benefit: Sembei-obaasan is stationed there, deer summons a vital part of Konoha’s intel dispersion.
Which is just a fancy way of saying glorified messenger hawks, but no Nara would dismiss the importance information in battle.
“Are you excited?” Rin asks cheerfully, as they jump from branch to branch, both of them ignoring the way Obito complains at Kakashi for the demanding speed. They’re all still on alert despite heading inland and nearer to Konoha–home doesn’t always mean safety, she learned (will learn that) long ago–but hours of travel is still boring regardless of if it’s in a vehicle or by her own two feet.
“About the summoning contract?” Shikako clarifies, perhaps a bit unnecessarily, considering the whole point of this mission is to meet with Sembei-obaasan. Ostensibly Team Kakashi is delivering some of the more critical intelligence reports to the Sangaku Outpost, but they all know the real reason.
“Yes,” Rin confirms, “I think it must be nice to have summons,” she muses, “The Nohara clan isn’t exactly big, and we’re mostly medic nin–well, obviously–so there aren’t many of us in the front line, so there isn’t much need for summons, I suppose…
“There might be someone who has a contract with cranes,” she continues after a considering pause, “but I don’t think I’ve met them.”
Shikako nods, wondering herself about such a summoning contract. As far as she can remember, no one in her time uses crane summons. While she isn’t close with anyone from the Nohara clan, they and the Nara are both entrenched the Medic Corps. Surely such a useful summon would have been mentioned at least once.
“I am excited,” she says, finally answering Rin’s original question, “And a little nervous,” she admits, “as far as I know, Sembei-obaasan is the only summoner for the deer contract and I don’t know whether or not she’ll let me sign it.”
Just because she did in the future (past?) before, doesn’t mean she will again.
A/N: I missed this series, I’ll be honest.
I guess the advent calendar thing is a no go, but have some more winter imagery anyway courtesy of Pakkun’s hot cocoa chakra!