Heart and Soul

donapoetrypassion:

A few months ago, Jacksgreyson wrote a really awesome ficlet
in response to a prompt of mine. 

This is the follow-up thank-you fic I‘ve been meaning to write
for ages.

Heart and Soul

“Put your heart, mind, and soul, into even your smallest
acts. This is the secret of success.” -Swami Sivanada

“This is just one of
me, but in different places.”-
Shikako Nara to her father. Dreaming of
Sunshine, Chapter 88

“I wouldn’t recommend
using it. But that’s a decision you’ll have to make in the field, based on the
information you have at the time.” –
Shikaku Nara to his daughter. Dreaming
of Sunshine, Chapter 89.

___________________________________________________________________________

When the twins came back from the front, Shikako had a
perfect circle of scarred skin and healed fractures tracing itself across her
lungs, her spine, her ribs. Her recently regrown heart fit exactly in the
center.

Shikamaru had his sister’s heart.

The Konoha transplant program is very advanced.

They’ve done kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas, intestine, and
thymus. They’ve done bones, tendons, corneae, skin, nerves and veins. They’ve
done hands, arms, legs, and feet.

They don’t transplant hearts. (Sasori had, after all, been able to function as a puppet with only his
heart remaining
.) Commonly held wisdom is that a heart transplant would be
about as useless to the transplant recipient as transplanting a brain.

Common wisdom is wrong.

At least, in the case of the Nara twins.

Tsunade was cursing her most unpredictable special jounin
even as she stabilized both twins.

The boy’s case was especially difficult. But since his
chakra system wasn’t being poisoned or overwritten by his new eighth gate -and his
new eighth gate wasn’t destabilizing into oblivion- Tsunade counted her
blessings.

Both brats even managed to briefly wake up and answer basic
questions about missions she had assigned Team Ten or Team Seven, which Tsunade
considered a flat-out miracle.

Still. Best to confirm things
before sharing the good news with her Jounin Commander.

Inoichi did not despair when he was briefed on the
circumstances surrounding the upcoming mindscan on his teammate’s son, because
he was an optimist with some experience in the success rate of desperate Nara.

He was confident that Shikako would have been able to save
(at least something of) her brother.

Even so, at best
he had expected Shikamaru Nara to be as confused and shaken and fundamentally changed as Ino had been, at her most
vulnerable. (At best.)

Inoichi had been prepared to
offer Shikaku platitudes of his son finding a new normal, support for Shikako
as she adjusted to her changed sibling.

He was not prepared to find an
only slightly shaken (and only from the memories of his injury), only slightly
confused (and only from slipping in and out of consciousness), and otherwise completely
unchanged Shikamaru Nara.

He was not prepared to find no
trace of Shikako Nara in her brother’s mind.

(He’d have to look more closely
next time.)

“Shadow Split,” Shikaku cursed, when he was briefed. A heart
was not a soulless thing, to be traded away like any other organ.

Once you’ve accepted the necessity of trading away (a piece
of) your soul, what choices are left? Giving away as little as possible. Or as
little-missed as possible. And protecting that which was precious enough to
trade (a piece of) your soul for.

But what piece, exactly, had his daughter given away?

“Is this even a mind-scan?” Shikamaru asked, on the fifth
session. He slouched in his (probably imaginary) body, picking at the (probably
imaginary) grass, looking at the (not imaginary but definitely not physically
present) figure of his honorary uncle.

Inoichi gave him a reassuring smile. “Not a traditional one.
But some of the …lighter variants of mental contact can be more useful for certain
check-ups.”

Shikamaru didn’t have a problem with Inochi-oiji’s visits.
He practiced with Ino often enough that he wasn’t uncomfortable with mental
techniques. And he knew Inochi was trying to help- even if he was being
frustratingly close-lipped about how
he was helping. But this was the fifth session in almost four weeks, and it was
getting annoying.

“Have you found what you’re looking for yet?” Shikamaru
grumped.

“I think I have a
lead, now,” Inoichi said calmly, with another annoyingly reassuring smile.
“Would you mind showing me to the village? I’d like to check the Hokage Tower
first.”

Shikamaru showed him to the (probably imaginary) village,
which was creepily empty of both people and animals. Then he gestured at the
(probably imaginary) Hokage Tower. “Is that where we’re heading?”

But Inoichi wasn’t looking at the Hokage Tower. He was
looking at the swing by the Academy.

It was empty, of course.

It was also moving.

“That’s… odd.” Shikamaru managed.

Inoichi glanced at him. “It’s a lead. And it’s something we
have to look into, because I suspect this is something you need to know. But
it’s also nothing to be afraid of, Shikamaru.”

Shikamaru nodded.

Shikamaru followed Inoichi past the empty swing, into the
empty hallways of the Tower, into the classroom. The same classroom
Iruka-sensei had taught them all, for years.

Inoichi sighed when he entered it.

“Why are we here?” Shikamaru asked.

“The human mind is a place that demands honesty,” Inoichi
said, but he didn’t seem to be speaking to Shikamaru. “I was always going to
find this place eventually.”

Inoichi was looking at the far wall as he spoke, and he
walked straight toward the back. Where Shikamaru had used to sit, beside
Shikako and Chouji.

“Come up, please,” Inoichi asked, looking at something just
past one of the last desks. His tone was gentle. But also tired, exasperated.
Not expecting his order to be followed.

Inoichi tried again. “Nara techniques require self-knowledge.
If you keep hiding, Shikamaru is never going to be able to safely use any kind
of Shadow technique again.”

A little crumped up ball of paper hit Inoichi’s face.
Another almost got caught in his blonde hair before falling to the floor.

Shikamaru slowly made his own way to the back of the room.

Inoichi sighed at the thing Shikamaru still couldn’t yet
see. He reached down underneath the desk and pulled up a seven-year-old
Shikako. She was glaring with her most sullen expression.

But this was Shikamaru’s mind. Why would- what was-

Shikamaru sat down and tried to
breathe.

It was imaginary air, it wasn’t
real- nothing here was real except him and Inoichi and his too-small-sister-
but the breaths helped calm him. Steady him.

Shikamaru came out of his panic attack to find that he was
still sitting on top of one of the desks, looking at his sister’s soul. Or a
piece of it, anyway.

“Shikamaru needed a new heart. And a new eighth chakra gate.
But you knew a human heart without a soul attached wouldn’t have a working eighth gate. So you found
another solution.” There was no judgement in Inoichi’s voice. Neither
condemnation or approval. He seemed to be examining Shikako’s face carefully.

Inoichi’s voice gentled. “Do you understand what happened?
Where you are?”

Shikako rolled her eyes. “Yes. Obviously. I was trying
not to interfere.” She crossed her
arms defiantly. Her mulish expression flickered into uncertainty as she glanced
at Shikamaru. Just for an instant.

“Why are you seven?” Shikamaru asked.

Shikako stilled. When she answered, she seemed to be
choosing her words carefully. “I’m seven because… because this is the age I was
when I made an important decision. I made another important decision when you
needed a new heart. The decisions …in some ways were similar.”

“And did you make the right choice?” Inoichi asked.

Yes,” Shikako
hissed. But she glanced uncertainly at Shikamaru again.

“My body can regenerate,” she rallied. “And I’m not a part
of Shikako that- well. Shikako doesn’t like to remember being me, so it’s not
like being here is going to make a big difference personality-wise. Giving you
my heart was definitely the right
decision.”

Something sad flickered across her face. “And I can’t say I
regret making the other one. It’s not like the result was unexpected.” There
was something flat about her voice, like she was suppressing some strong
emotion.

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath before opening
them again. “I don’t know why you came,” she told Inoichi, and there was real
pain underneath the hostility in her voice. “I just want Shikamaru to be okay.
I want him to be himself.”

“Do you think I can just leave
you here?” Shikamaru rasped. “Do you think I can let you be alone?” He reached out a hand-

Inoichi caught it with a warning glance. Shikamaru resisted
the urge to dodge, to continue forward until Shikako was tucked up against his
chest.

She was small and
she was hurting and she was- she
would never have an existence besides the space inside of his mind. The rest of
his sister might, but not this part.  

“I can teach you two how to interact safely, though that
might take a little time,” Inoichi said to both of them. Then he turned to
Shikako. “I understand that you don’t want to hurt him accidentally. It’s good
that you’re careful. But this isn’t an answer, either.”

Shikako swallowed. “Okay.”

“I hope it’s all right with both of you if we start
tomorrow,” Inoichi said. It wasn’t really a question.

Still. “Why tomorrow?” Shikamaru managed to get out. It was
difficult to keep his tone from edging towards tense impatience.

“Believe it or not, this meeting has been a pretty big
strain on both of you. I’ve eased things, somewhat. But two sets of spiritual
energies interacting within the same body is something best carefully monitored
until the two of you reach a balance. Giving Shikamaru all sensory input from
and the control over the body is still a type of balance, Shikako,” Inoichi added,
in response to Shikako’s scowl.

He stood up.

He hesitated a moment. “If you can- is there anything you
can tell me about the Shikako outside that might be different now?”

For a moment, Shikako looked terrible insecure. And then the
moment was gone as if it had never been. “She still loves Shikamaru. A lot. She wouldn’t like, let a bunch of
Konoha babies die if just sitting there doing nothing meant Shikamaru was going
to be safer. But- Shikamaru wouldn’t want that anyway. And the Shikako outside
would still do- almost anything for him. Just not absolutely everything.” She looked away from Inoichi. Towards Shikamaru.
“You know we both- we both-“ Her eyes were wet and so, so wide.

“I know,” Shikamaru said softly. He wished this was a real
place. He wished- he wished he could hold her.
That he didn’t have to wait until Inoichi ‘taught them how to interact
safely.’ His sister had torn out her heart and ripped apart her soul to keep
him alive, and she was trying to tell him both parts loved him. As if he didn’t
know. “I’ve always known”

“How are you feeling?” Dad asked, as Shikamaru blinked into
awareness.

Like my heart is breaking, Shikamaru didn’t answer.

As much as the discovery had been painful, Shikamaru was now
well on the path to recovery. But the success didn’t ease Inoichi’s mind much
at all, and he was quiet as he walked home.

Inside-Shikako had so easily Split from the rest of herself
because she had remained unacknowledged and hidden even within Shikako, likely
for quite some time. What had she said? That the rest of Shikako didn’t like to
remember being her.

And she’d distinguished the other Shikako from herself by
implying that Shikako would do less for Shikamaru. That Shikako would not let
Konoha babies die, even if doing nothing made Shikamaru safer. Implying that
inside-Shikako might.

…That was not the kind of self-knowledge that came in
advance of action.

Worst of all, inside-Shikako looked …seven, at most. And she
acted like a seven-year-old Shikako,
albeit a terrified and angry version. Almost as if that piece of Shikako Nara
had had never been accepted or understood or integrated into the whole.

Inside-Shikako was clearly an aspect of personality that had
crystalized in some single, terrible moment. And aspect Shikako hated and
feared- but needed. Because the moment might happen again. Because that moment
had so marked her that it had frozen a piece of her forever, and plunged the
rest into desperate denial.

No, Inoichi would not be sleeping well tonight.

AHHHH!!! Follow up fic from dona! (✿ ♥‿♥)

(I love your Inoichi voice so much!)

Outside POVs and consequences for this fic

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