I re-read the Primadonna Girl (Says No Thank You) tag ’cause of the recent prompt fill, and I have got to see more of the Shikako and Ibiki partners in crime scenario, so, uh *rolls dice* 24?

Shikako and Ibiki partners in crime, 24) things you said with clenched fists

Shikako Nara’s Guide To Delinquency and Military Insurrection

(Rule Three: Look underneath the underneath)

Ibiki refuses to look back. Eyes forward with the occasional check of peripheral vision because tunnel vision is stupid and deadly, but otherwise he only looks ahead.

He knows she is following–a strange, suspicious shadow–but he refuses to acknowledge her.

All that matters is the mission.

All that matters is getting back to Konoha.

“I could heal you,” the shadow offers, maintaining a constant distance between the two of them. Closer, he gets testy. Further, he gets wary. This exact distance is irritating, but bearable.

Ibiki does not respond.

“I promise I won’t do anything bad,” the shadow continues then, after a considering pause, “Though I guess that’s what I’d say if I were going to do something bad, so how could you tell?”

“I could tell,” Ibiki answers, automatically defending his abilities, before grumbling at himself. New chuunin rank obviously doesn’t mean new maturity level. He’ll have to work on that, later. In the village. If he gets a later.

The shadow smiles, pleased at finally getting a response. She skips a bit, drawing nearer, but at Ibiki’s increased grumbling, she slows down again, hands raised in acquiescence.

“Didn’t I prove myself in that last skirmish?” the shadow asks, more to the air than to him. He wouldn’t trip up again so soon, and so she’s certainly not expecting him to respond.

In more than one way, she’s right: the team of Cloud nin would have easily killed him had he been alone. Should have easily killed the two of them, really, outnumbered as they were. In terms of battle prowess, she’s definitely proved herself.

The fact that he’s still standing and not bleeding out slowly in the middle of contended territory also proves that she’s real and not just a pain induced hallucination like he had assumed for the first few hours of their interaction.

Of course, that doesn’t disprove the possibility that this is a genjutsu. And a particularly sadistic one at that, given the face that the shadow is wearing.

Eyes forward. Complete the mission, get back to Konoha. Nothing else matters now.

But retreating is one matter, avoiding the truth is another.

Internally, he sighs. Out loud, he says, “Cloud has made many enemies.”

She blinks, surprised that he’s answered even if belatedly, before tentatively offering, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend?”

“You sound uncertain,” Ibiki responds, “And that’s reductive. Wars can and frequently do have multiple sides.”

Rather than immediately argue, the shadow hums. “Well, you’re not wrong,” she concedes, before letting them return to a casual silence. 

That’s not how Yoshino would have responded.

Forward. Mission. Konoha.

The shadow is young, though. Younger than Ibiki despite her skill. She takes his words as a learning opportunity, never mind that she must be more experienced than he is.

If she really wanted to sabotage his mission, she would have already done so, and easily. If this were a genjutsu, then he’s already failed. Either way, stubbornly letting his head wounds remain untreated is just stupid.

Ibiki sighs, stops, and eyes the shadow.

She slows to a stop at a respectful distance away.

“What do you know about this?” He asks, lifting the box. Seals cover the outside, an active array, so he hadn’t been able to put it in a storage scroll, but it’s small enough as not to be unwieldy.

“Enough,” she says with a shrug, noncommittal, and he’d almost admire it if it weren’t currently counter to his goals. “If you let me heal you, I’ll tell you more.” She punctuates this with an overly bright smile and a playful flourish of her hands.

“That’s poor negotiation,” he says, because if he’s apparently committing treason by colluding with the shadow then he might as well do so thoroughly and continue their teaching moments. “But I’ll take it.”

Her smile softens, turns more genuine, as if understanding the decision he’s made. She heals him and even gives him supplies to clean up the blood, before lackadaisically swiping a finger across the top of the box.

Ibiki tenses. The sealing array glows briefly before going inert. It unlocks.

“Look inside,” the shadow says, and for the first time she sounds like the battle hardened shinobi she really is, “If you think Danzo should get that, then you’re not Morino Ibiki.”

Ibiki never gave her his name. Somehow, he’s unsurprised.

~

A/N: Finally filled all the things you said prompts! The longest ask box event that just slow bled across literal MONTHS. Sorry for taking forever lionheadbookends!

I’m reluctant to start a new ask box event–or, at least, since it’s mid-November and December is coming up, I’ll probably just do another Ask Box Advent Calendar again in two weeks anyway so a different ask box event now is kinda excessive so… I guess what I’m saying is save ask box prompts for December and I will try to figure out what else to do instead over the next two weeks?

Sasuke / Shikako – went on an ANBU mission, Sasuke was critically wounded and Shikako realized her feelings for him – no matter the guilt. 56) things you said in the spur of the moment

56) things you said in the spur of the moment

“Hawk-taicho,” Komachi murmurs before handing him their makeshift field teacup, medicinal powder mixed into steaming water.

There is no fire in their camp–for obvious reasons–she must have used a chakra trick. Maybe she has fire type like him.

“You don’t have to call me that anymore,” Sasuke says instead of asking because even if his identity has been compromised, doesn’t mean that hers should be just to indulge his curiosity. He takes the cup and tries not to grimace at the taste.

On his other side, Towa is the one who shrugs,  answers, “Mask or no doesn’t change who you are. We’re ANBU’s Red Team, you’re our captain.”

Easy for him to say. He’s not the one whose cover has been blown, painted ceramic shards all that remains of his ticket to freedom.

But there’s no reason for Sasuke to be petty, spite doesn’t suit a captain, de-masked or not, and it’s not like he’s actually irritated at Towa or Komachi.

It’s not like he irritated at anyone else in particular, either.

The stone pendant against his chest pulses with warmth. He hasn’t fully deciphered what it means, but he thinks maybe it’s a mix of teasing and chastisement.

He blinks, tries not to flinch at the crusting blood against his eyelids, and realizes his Sharingan is activated. He deactivates it, chakra drain immediately halting.

The stone washes cool–soothing, encouraging–and Towa and Komachi relax an infinitesimal amount.

“Thank you,” Sasuke says instead, belatedly, because without them he would’ve been captured immediately, no matter that his should-have-been lethal wounds were healing at an impossible rate.

Captured, Shikako’s sacrifice made obsolete. No, that wouldn’t do at all.

He can’t see Komachi’s face–the two of them have kept their masks on at Sasuke’s own orders though they had offered–but he can practically hear the eye roll in her voice. “We’re Red Team,” she says, parroting Towa’s words as if there were some deeper meaning than the obvious, simple fact.

Perhaps there is.

The stone’s temperature fluctuates once more, and Sasuke grunts as he feels rib fracture knit itself whole at an accelerated rate. Is this what it feels like for Naruto? How the hell does he stay standing?

The silence returns, weighted but not tense. They are waiting for him: for him to heal, for him to decide. They can’t move while he’s still recovering–though at this rate, it should only be at most an hour more–but it’s not as if he knows what to do anyway. The stone has no input for him to follow.

“We can’t achieve the mission objective,” he says out loud, more to himself than the squad, but any guidance is better than none.

“I don’t think we were supposed to, taicho,” Towa says after a pause, finally voicing what all of them were thinking.

“They were wearing Cloud gear,” Komachi adds, “But they weren’t fighting like Cloud nin.”

“They were fighting like…” Towa stops, unable to verbalize this particular bit of suspicion.

Like Konoha shinobi, he doesn’t want to say. Like Konoha ANBU, he definitely doesn’t say.

“They were targeting me,” Sasuke says instead, when the weight of that shared thought grows too heavy. “To capture, not to kill. That last blow was a miscalculation.”

Shikako’s existence forfeited because of a miscalculation. He feels his muscles clench with futile rage before they are forcibly made to relax. Relax, he thinks the stone is trying to communicate with it’s fluctuating waves of chakra, relax so I can heal you properly. Don’t be like sensei, he can practically hear Shikako say.

Or maybe he’s trying too hard to personify it.

“We’re not going back to Konoha, are we, taicho?” Komachi asks, somehow parsing a plan of from his expression when even Sasuke can’t figure out what it is he’s feeling.

But now that it’s been said out loud, he knows she’s right. They can’t go back to Konoha. Not yet. And not because Shikamaru will literally, completely, and justifiably kill him if they do.

“No,” Sasuke shakes his head, “We have to go help Naruto.”

Komachi and Towa exchange glances. If they have any objections, they don’t say, but even if they did, it wouldn’t matter: he would still go.

After all, it’s what Shikako told him to do.

~

A/N: … I’m 99% sure I did not interpret this how you wanted, anon, because instead of dying love confessions in the dramatic background of ANBU missions all I could think of was like… suspenseful espionage and sabotage with a hint of ANBU team means family, and family means only death can keep us apart. Maybe not even death? I dunno. It’s possible shadow!Shikako is pulling a Venom and literally healing Sasuke from the inside out and all of Sasuke’s angst and accidental Mangekyou activation will be a silly overreaction when she suddenly reforms in a few hours.

I dunno.

Shikako / Sasuke – canonDOS – 3) things you said too quietly

Down Every Road (four: hunter and nukenin, the remix),
3) things you said too quietly

He couldn’t have stopped her.

He never could stop her from doing what she thought needed to be done. Never thought he would need to stop her, because as far as they’ve known each other–for as long as they’ve worked together, fought together, been together–she was always right about what needed to be done.

Or, at least, that’s what he had always thought.

“Shikako Nara attacked the Hokage,” says acting Hokage Councilor Shimura, “She is guilty of high treason and must be brought to justice.”

Behind him, Komachi and Towa make no noise, ANBU stealth and stoicism combined. Sasuke struggles to make Hawk do the same.

“Hunt her down,” Councilor Shimura continues, voice apathetic and so hateful to Sasuke’s ears, “Terminate her,” he finishes, eyeing Hawk specifically.

The three ANBU bow: dutiful, respectful, silent. If ANBU Hawk’s bow is a little belated, a little too shallow, then who is to say?

Red Team–short one member, of course, and now he wonders how long it will take Komachi and Towa to connect the dots, wonders at the wisdom and cruelty both of Councilor Shimura to send them on this mission, if the latter had been so important to him as to outweigh the former–has barely spent a minute at HQ before another bird masked ANBU approaches them.

“I have been temporarily assigned to Red Team to aid you on your current mission. I am codenamed Crow.“ 

Behind his own mask, Sasuke blinks, perplexed. He knows this is Sai. He just doesn’t know what the play is here. More cruelty, perhaps. He knows Sai is one of Councilor Shimura’s, so this could be extra insurance that Red Team does their job. But he also knows that, beyond all reason, Shikako trusted him anyway. That Sai had gone above and beyond to save Shikako from Councilor Shimura, to break her out from her own mind when no one else could.

Sasuke is looking at either a spy or a saboteur.

He’s not sure which he would prefer.

Red Team with Crow in tow depart from the village as soon as possible. Standard protocol for hunting missions.

Red Team isn’t designed for this–Red Team shouldn’t even be on this mission, for logistical and obvious, possible emotional compromising reasons–but that doesn’t mean they won’t at the very least appear to be completing their mission to the best of their abilities.

Everyone knows that the first seventy two hours are the most critical when it comes to hunting nukenin.

Hawk doesn’t have a moment of privacy to create a shadow clone and send it back until four hours later, and so by the time Sasuke is able to ask around the news has already been twisted around into rumors.

Shikako Nara has cracked under the pressure. Accelerated promotions getting to her, unable to handle her rank.

Shikako Nara has been turned. A sleeper agent from another country, she’s always been suspiciously friendly to foreign nin.

Shikako Nara is just like that snake. Didn’t you know? They encountered each other during the chunin exams.

Shikako Nara isn’t the villain here–it’s the jounin commander using his daughter, trying and failing to enact a coup.

None of it is right. All of it is useless.

The only pieces he finds to be true are that Shikako really did attack Tsunade-sama, who is even now still in the hospital, Shikaku-san is in T&I custody, and Councilor Shimura is acting Hokage.

But he already knew that.

He thinks maybe the worst part about all of this is that he doesn’t even know what the worst part is.

The first awful part of it is that he can’t figure out why. Why would Shikako attack Tsunade-sama?

Then there’s the terrible part in which he’s being sent to on a mission to kill her–which is both cruel and doesn’t make any sense to him, either.

And then there’s the whole disastrous situation with Sai and whether or not he’ll help or harm the mission… and whether or not Sasuke can convince the rest of Red Team to not fulfill their mission.

No, that’s a lie. He knows what the worst part is.

They catch up to Shikako in Land of Rivers.

No, Shikako lets them catch up to her.

Sasuke knows how easily it would be for her to stay ahead of them. Or to stay hidden from them. Or even to fight them, knock them out, and continue on her way.

She did this on purpose.

“Go home, Red Team” Shikako says, and if, somehow, Komachi and Towa didn’t already know the identity of Bat, then they know it now. “Tsunade-sama will need her best to protect her.”

“Protect her from what?” Komachi snipes back, quick temper flaring, “You’re the one who she needs protection from.”

Shikako shrugs, posture loose and casual and an utter lie. Then, bizarrely, she sticks her tongue out at them. No, at Crow. 

“Beware the strangling roots,” she says to them all, before melting into shadows. Red Team tries to pursue, but there is no further trail to follow.

The worst part is, she didn’t even ask him to go with her.

~

A/N: Belated fill is very belated and doesn’t really match the prompt, but hope you still enjoy, anon!

I know it says canonDoS, but my brain just really wanted to do a swapped roles version of Down Every Road two: hunter and nukenin, but obviously instead of Shikako being the hunter and Sasuke being the nukenin it’s the other way around. So it’s sort of canon compliant in an AU divergence kind of way? Or, like, I mean. It’s not been jossed yet so it’s not NOT canon? Uh…

Maybe I’ll go further down this road? I dunno, I have an idea for what probably happened, but since this is Sasuke’s POV I figure it’d be more in line if he just could not figure out what the hell was going on because… well… Sasuke.

“Our existence is a horror story told from the monsters perspective”

Ode to 11010201 AU ficlet (2018-11-12)

A/N: Continues from here.

“We destroy that which threatens our existence,” the stranger says, after she pulls Zim and, belatedly, Kevin to their feet. She is far more reluctant in healing Kevin, or perhaps the curse had dug itself into him more thoroughly, the uprooting all the more hollowing for it, because he hardly speaks on their long trudge back to Doc Kaiza’s clinic.

“What does that have to do with–”

“But that’s so subjective, don’t you think, octant?” the stranger interrupts Zim, easily guiding them through the trees towards civilization, almost familiar with the forest trails, though he’s sure he’s never seen her in town before. “Our existence as in our lives or our lifestyles? Threatens as in physical danger or mental stress or even financial threat? All this subjectivity, and yet never do we interpret destroy as anything but kill.”

Zim doesn’t understand, stays nearly as quiet as Kevin whose arm is warm and pliant over his shoulders, footsteps stumbling in Zim’s own.

The stranger looks at him, at them–Zim and Kevin, stumbling and covered in dirt and leaves–with a smile on her face. “You nearly killed yourself today, octant. Over some normal human.”

At those words, Zim can feel irritation flare, his grip on Kevin tightening, protective. “Kevin’s not just some normal human, he’s my best friend! I had to save him. I had to!”

Her smile grows wider, “He has no magic. He’s as normal a human can get,” she says, “But I’m not criticizing you, octant. It’s good that you went so far to save him. It’s good that you found a way to purge the curse without killing your friend…”

His temper cools, though he still keeps his grip on Kevin’s arm steady.

“It’s good that my sister raised you away from the clan,” she concludes, before shrugging and walking ahead, trees giving way to the roads on the outskirts of town, ignoring the informational bomb she dropped behind her.

“Y-your sister?” Zim asks with barely concealed hope, rushing to catch up to her and dragging Kevin along with him.

The stranger–or, perhaps something, someone else–glances back at him before turning ahead once more. If there is emotion in her voice, he can’t hear it, but maybe there is something to be read in the line of her shoulders, her stance, her pace. “Yes,” the stranger says, a sigh and a pause, “Your mother.”

~

A/N: Very belated and very short response to what might be a misinterpretation of your prompt, @wildtabbykat. Sorry!

But I am going to try to get back to writing because goodness knows I’ve not been in practice. I did write a script for the Bindlestiff’s Valentine’s show, but I’ve not heard anything back so it’s likely it wasn’t chosen. Which is… disappointing but not surprising as I didn’t really think it was my best work anyway :/

Anyway, I STILL have three remaining prompts from the ask box things you said event (which has been going on for LITERAL MONTHS) which I will hopefully fill and then do a different ask box event or soooomething so as to get that good good writing exercise.

Recently got a malong on my travels. I know there are traditional styles of dress with it, but I wanted to incorporate these ancient Greek chitons for fun.

image
image

The safety pins alone were a little too flimsy, so a few stitches, a waist belt, and tada!

The fold is long enough I could make it a peplum or even a sort of hood, so that’s some fun variety.

I’ll probably make some tweaks before it’s fully ready to wear… but hooray! I finally did a thing!