Shikamaru sits across from his sister, pushing the food on his plate round and round, sick of eating the same healthy food, sick of always recuperating, sick of this situation.
I have your heart in my chest, he thinks, staring at Shikako and silently, desperately willing her to make sense.
How do I still not understand how you feel?
What he’s most sick of is the way that no one will tell him what happened.
Given the way Ino’s breath hitches slightly, Chouji’s blankly guilty expression, and even Asuma-sensei looking away whenever he asks, he can make a solid guess–there aren’t many routes for one person’s heart to be made available to donate.
But he needs to know how his sister died.
They are playing shougi, practice for his Shadow Hand as much as it is a way to kill time, when a thought makes Shikamaru laughs–if such a dark sound can be considered such.
Shikako looks up, bewildered.
It takes five minutes for him to stop laughing and by the end of it he has tears in his eyes: he is missing so many pieces of himself it’s amazing he still counts as a person
“I was a brother, once,” Dad says, and Shikamaru tries not to flinch away.
It’s either that, or scream.
But Dad hardly ever talks about his younger brother, nor is he one to make such comments without a reason, and so Shikamaru waits.
“If I could have done something for Ikoma, I would have.”
It doesn’t make things better, but at least now there’s some perspective.
Shikamaru can tell his sister is getting restless, strained and more irritable the longer she’s stuck in the village.
But Shikako wouldn’t abandon him during what she thinks is his time of need: she thinks her leave is to help him recover.
She hasn’t even considered the alternative.
Mum presses shaking hands to his face every time he’s near enough. Shikamaru indulges her in this–he can tell how much restraint she is showing, how she redirects her worry by holding Kinokawa ever closer.
She’s different with Shikako, not in words or actions: her eyes are conflicted, but her hands do not shake.
He doesn’t know what that means, though.
If Shikako stays in denial, willfully oblivious to the reason behind her mandated leave, she will grow to resent him.
If he tells her truth, breaking that fragile bubble of peace, she will hate him for making her face it.
There is no way for Shikamaru to win.
He doesn’t interact with Team Seven often–mostly through his sister, but Naruto and Sasuke at least are peers if not friends. The same cannot be said of Kakashi Hatake.
Did she learn this from you? Shikamaru wonders as the man known equally for his tragedies and combat prowess slowly lifts up his headband.
What the Sharingan sees is forever imprinted in the user’s memory.
Maybe somewhere in there is the answer he needs.
(The maximum time for heart transplant viability after the donor’s death is about six hours. This is assuming the heart is removed without any damage and is kept at ideal conditions after extraction throughout the journey to the operating room.
Maybe with seals that window of time is longer, fuinjutsu far more reliable at storage and transportation of organs than the coolers of chemicals she remembers from before.
Which only leaves the removal.
And the donor’s death, of course.
She just hopes she doesn’t get stabbed through the chest again. It might damage Shikamaru’s new heart and that would defeat the purpose entirely.)
There is no winning. This is something Shikamaru must learn the hard way: there is no secret set of moves, no strategy that can undo all that has been done.
There is no winning; only survival and acceptance.
Shikako hasn’t learned this lesson yet, either.
A/N: Oh dona, you know just how to get me in the feels. I only hope that I’ve managed to do a fraction of the same back at you ೭੧(❛▿❛✿)੭೨
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