“It’s been a while,” Shikamaru says, once the table has been cleared, the two of them washing up afterwards just as they always have ever since they were old enough to be given chores.
Everyone else has relocated to the living room with little plates of dessert and cups of tea, Naruto exclaiming flattery over food he can’t really taste.
“Yes,” Shikako responds simply enough, and tries not to break the glass between her soapy hands.
Not that it would be difficult–she’s not the one with the cybernetic arm.
“You don’t have to keep punishing yourself,” he says, “It wasn’t your fault.”
Shikako bites back the denial, the frustrated honesty that wants to sting, wants to make herself miserable even at the cost of her brother’s happiness.
“Okay,” she says instead, still light and terribly brittle.
Shikamaru sighs. It’s resigned more than frustrated–he’s beyond the temper of his teenaged years. “I’m glad you joined us tonight.”
This, at least, is not a controversial statement.
“I am too.”
(Dreaming of Sunshine Switch by Lady Hallen and Fragile Dreams)
“We have a little brother,” the woman who both is but also isn’t his sister says, “Kinokawa Nara.”
“After mum’s family,” Shikamaru responds, the connection coming easily: the recent appearance of one family member made researching the rest relevant. How many secrets have been kept from him? How many siblings is he missing?
“Bingo,” Shikako says, smile gentle and warm. He wonders if she’s like that with the other him. Her actual brother. Or if it’s just because of the age difference. “He likes you better,” she says, “though he’s in his terrible twos now, so I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.”
The calculation is easy, but he doesn’t want to get his hopes up without confirmation.
“It’s not time yet,” Shikamaru leads, hesitant but still eager to know, “he hasn’t been born yet.”
Shikako’s expression falters, slightly, perhaps realizing the extent of the desperation in his tone, on his face. “Things are different,” she hedges, “Your parents are different people. Have experienced different things. They may not…”
They may not want to try for a third child, after losing one already.
“… Alternate universe. I certainly don’t remember meeting a time traveling version of my sibling.”
And, of course, Shikamaru is an only child in this one.
A/N: OH MY GOD, THIS IS DEFINITELY NOT WHAT YOU WANTED, ANON, I AM SO SORRY FOR THIS ANGST.
ANGST, EVERYWHERE. WHY DO I DO THIS? T_T
It’s full of deliciously sad Nara family feels and I just recently reread it, so it was very much so on my mind.
[If anyone else wants to do a softer world prompt that isn’t on the list, you can just send the page id number for the original comic instead.]