Heart and Soul (the crossroads remix), (2018-03-14)

A human without a heart–without a soul–is no longer human. Without that integral piece they are, at best, empty husks.

(At worst, they are monsters.)

But she stopped being human before she gave away her heart:

What do you call a god without a soul?

After, Shikako is different.

That is not so surprising. Inoichi was expecting a much more drastic change in Shikamaru, after all, and so having one twin be more noticeably affected by the… incident… only makes sense.

Shikako is different, After. Inoichi keeps an eye out for the twins, both personally–they are nearly as dear to him as Ino–and professionally.

She is harsher, more ruthless. On missions, it is not so easy to tell: it could be attributed to the rising international tensions, or the stress of her undeniably eventful career catching up, or even just growing up. The name Shikabane-hime spreads–it is no longer a silly joke, even inside the village.

She hardly smiles anymore.

Inoichi notices something in Shikako, but he doesn’t know enough for the truth.

The Shinigami works in trade: a life given as payment, a life taken in exchange.

Phrased that way, it almost seems balanced.

But it is not death for life; death only begets more death.

Be careful what you wish for: even if you get what you want to the letter, you might not get what you need in spirit. And even then, beware your intentions; strength of will is not just an expression.

There is power in determination, in desperation. But there is also weakness.

In that battle that nearly destroyed them, Shikako wished for two things. She made the mistake of intrinsically linking them together: she wanted to save her brother, and so she needed to be stronger.

She gave her heart as payment.

What was taken in exchange?

There were thousands of people in Land of Hot Springs.

They did not go to Jashin.

Death only begets more death.

Shikabane has some catching up to do.

There is a man kneeling at an intersection, hands pushing dirt into a hole in the ground that contains a box. The box contains several items which physically have little worth–a picture, more dirt, a small bone, a small cluster of flowers soon to die–but they have value combined, intangibly, unnaturally.

The man wants something–power or time or wealth or knowledge–it matters not. He’ll get it, the box he’s just buried guarantees it, but he’ll regret it.

He looks up, dirt under his fingernails, still on his knees, to see a figure that had not been present just moments ago.

It is small, in the shape of a young girl with mostly nondescript features. It has dark eyes–not the way a human might–like ink and shadow and the utter absence of that which is human.

For a moment, he considers backing down: there is a fate in those eyes that he is not sure he wants to meet. But then the figure speaks, offers him that which drove him out here in the middle of the night, blinks away the ink and shadow.

He makes the deal; his heart’s desire for his soul.

(Just as well, it was already too late for him)

A human without a heart–without a soul–is no longer human.

A would-have-been-god without a soul? You know what they’re called.

~

A/N: A sort of… remix fic response to @donapoetrypassion’s follow-up fic for this ficlet that I wrote as a response to dona’s prompt… so… yeah…

~tiny and vague demon!Shikako concept~

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