canon Dreaming of Sunshine, 6) things you said under the stars and in the grass
Shikamaru listens to the rustle of a page turning, feels the prickle of grass against his skin, breaths in the spring air. He enjoys his day.
Shikamaru is young, only a first year student at the Academy, and does not yet know what terrors await him and his sister. (Shikako knows already, though not every one, but that is something she will keep to herself long after those terrors have passed.)
For now, the twins are but children, calm and content in each other’s presence enjoying a pleasant afternoon.
Another rustle of paper, another page turned, a soft excited gasp from beside him.
Normally, curiosity is something that will just lead to more work and so Shikamaru usually squashes it down, but in this moment, fleeting and bright, he decides there is no harm in following it.
“What are you reading?” Shikamaru asks, sliding one eye open and turning his head. Shikako doesn’t like it when there’s too much attention on her, doesn’t like to feel as if she’s inconveniencing anyone even the slightest. Shikamaru has learned to be subtle.
He is rewarded when Shikako turns toward him, book held in her hands, both of them with their backs on the grass and side to side. She holds the book aloft so they can both see the pages.
“The declassified mission record of Tetsuo Utsugi,” Shikako says, indicating the black and white etching of a vast landscape, a small figure standing in the foreground as contrast.
Shikamaru stays quiet, but internally he thinks he doesn’t like it very much. The figure of Tesuo Utsugi is alone in the picture.
“He was a special jounin from before the times of the Sannin who traveled around the continent having adventures,” his sister enthuses, unaware of Shikamaru’s growing, mystifying unease.
“Is that something you want to do?” he asks, because he honestly doesn’t know. Shikamaru’s future is tied to the clan, to the village–his future is set, Shikako’s isn’t. But the only time she’s ever expressed a preference was to join the Academy instead of Shogakko.
Shikako shrugs, their bony shoulders bumping into each other. She lowers the book so it lays on her belly and joins him in staring at the sunny sky.
For a couple of hours, Shikamaru considers the conversation done. They go home, do chores, have dinner, and go to bed; sky long since gone dark, studded gently with stars.
But only a few minutes later, Shikamaru hears his door open, the soft glow of Shikako’s chakra lighting the room. He shifts to make space for her and after a moment she joins him under the blanket. At first she is silent, but Shikamaru is patient.
“If I do want to go on adventures,” Shikako starts, hesitant, “You’ll be here when I come back, right?”
Shikamaru frowns, “You don’t want me to go with you?”
Shikako shakes her head, cheek pressing into the pillow, “They might be dangerous.”
“Then it’s better to face them together,” he responds. The conversation falls into a lull, the quiet and the dark and the warmth lulling the both of them to sleep.
Nearly a decade later, Shikamaru will remember this conversation and realize that Shikako had never actually agreed.