iron will, firenation au, things you said too quietly

Iron Will, Fire Nation!Tetsuki AU, 3) things you said too quietly

June waits until the moon is high in the sky, night gone nearly silent, only the crackling and popping of their fire and Tetsuki’s soft, childish snores sounding through their camp. Father isn’t staring into the fire–he would never be so foolish as to ruin his night vision like that–but he’s definitely keeping his gaze away from her younger sister’s sleeping form.

June waits before she brings up the matter of the letter, “You can’t really mean to give her to them, do you?” she asks, more challenge than anything else. June is older enough than Tetsuki that she remembers Mother, remembers the way her face would go pinched and unhappy whenever she spoke of her parents. As far as June knows, her maternal grandparents are awful people. Tetsuki knows even less.

Tetsuki doesn’t even know where they’re going.

Father’s mouth thins into a flat line, perhaps remembering Mother’s displeasure at her family, perhaps just irritated at June questioning him, “Would you rather I give them you?” he responds, as much assessing as it is punishing.

If June were volunteering to take Tetsuki’s place, Father would let her, but neither of them want her to: Father reluctant to lose his trained apprentice, June unwilling to lose her freedom. Tetsuki is too young to know any better.

Maybe that’s just an excuse.

June grits her teeth, doesn’t answer, the pause was answer enough. But still she persists, “Why give in at all? We don’t owe them anything. Mother left them for a reason, they disowned her. She hated them!” Her shout rings through their camp, loud and almost repulsive in the night. Both June and Father glance over at Tetsuki, waiting, watching, but she remains asleep.

“They’re still your family,” Father says finally. Unhelpfully, “Your mother didn’t hate them,” he adds nothing else.

June can feel her face heat, and she struggles to keep it–rage or tears–down. “We could just ignore the letter, keep going on as we have. We could stay together,” it sounds more plaintive than she means to, Father won’t respond to this kind of weakness. June needs to be stronger.

Father is silent for long enough that June thinks he’s dismissed the conversation. She rises to ready her bedroll, as near to her little sister as she can stand–Tetsuki is at the age where she kicks in her sleep, never still even unconscious–they only have a few more nights before they arrive at Mother’s ancestral home.

June only has a few more nights with her sister.

“They’ll take care of her,” Father says belatedly.

June wants to bite back–we’ll take care of her–but the tone of his voice makes her hold.

“Your mother and I,” Father starts, and June can’t help but listen intently, “Who needed a home when we had each other? Even on the road, you were raised with love.”

What does this have to do with Tetsuki, June wants to ask, but doesn’t.

Unbidden, Father answers. “They’ll take care of her,” he repeats, still not looking at Tetsuki. Inanely, June thinks the night suddenly feels cold.

“The road alone is not enough for a child.”

~

A/N: The implication being that Tetsuki’s backstory is always sad. But at least June loved her! … but June is still only a child herself at this point 😦

Ask Box Advent Calendar is now open!

Shikako finds herself in the perfect moment to quote Conan the Barbarian on the best things in life. The real question is, should she take it?

The first time is during a mission with Red Team, a lull in their stake out as they wait for their target to appear. It pops into her mind as soon as Towa mentions the best place to buy senbon, how nothing could compare to the feel of well-crafted steel under his fingers. Komachi retorts with the superiority of kunai, the best weapon. Even Hawk-taicho joins in, in support of shuriken of course.

Shikako wants very badly to say it. That the best thing in life isn’t weapons but what you do with them.

But the conversation has moved past the point where it would make even the slightest bit of sense, and even then maybe only Sasuke would find it amusing. Which is the problem, of course: to quote a fictional hero from another world is such a Shikako trait, not a Bat trait, that she has to resist.

But still, it’s tempting.

Another opportunity comes much later, weeks and months, the fleeting thought long forgotten. It happens while she and a chuunin from Intel on a simple dead drop retrieval in Land of Tea.

Somehow they get involved in the internal conflicts of the Wagurashi Family.

It’s not too bad, really, Shikako doesn’t know what her mission partner is so worried about. There aren’t any enemy nin involved. The Wasabi Family is even being respectfully uninvolved, even though this would be the best time for them to strike and establish themselves as the reigning Family. Annoyingly, this does mean it’s mostly diplomacy rather than any action, but she’s not so far gone that she’d rather start a civil war just to get out of talking to strangers.

The Wagurashi Family boss is old, deciding between her three successors, and it is during this series of tests that the moment arrives, an almost perfect.

But to say it out loud would be too aggressive during a time when she is representing Konoha’s stance of peace, and to say it quietly would be a waste because her chuunin partner already thinks she’s weird. Aoba wouldn’t have understood it, but he probably would have appreciated it.

Shikako lets the moment pass.

They are at war and it isn’t funny at all. It is too accurate and harsh to be funny.

She says nothing.

Shikako slouches languidly, legs stretched out, propped at such an angle that she can lean casually on the railing of the Academy rooftop.

Ah, memories.

The three tiny graduates in front of her fidget mostly with nerves–the one she’ll come to fondly call Stabby fidgets with impatience–and Shikako decides to put them out of their misery.

“What is best in life?” she asks.

This year’s top rookie, who she’ll later refer to as Punchy, tries to answer philosophically, as if this were an additional test. But that’s for tomorrow, of course.

Stabby waxes poetic about senbon and kunai and shuriken in an echo of a long ago conversation behind masks.

The third graduate, Bitey, babbles on about fuinjutsu in fits and bursts, a boy after her own heart, but in this particular moment he is incorrect. If Shikako is really going to take on a team of genin, they need to know what kind of jounin sensei they’re getting. Bizarre, unknowable references and all.

She shakes her head, “What’s best in life is…”

Sometimes the perfect moment comes and goes, but other times you can make your own opportunities.

~

A/N: I’ve actually never seen Conan the Barbarian, so I did have to look this up, but I did recognize the quote which just impresses how prevalent it is in culture.

I couldn’t seem to land on a tone–not entirely serious, but not entirely silly either–but I hope it isn’t too off-putting, anon. Also, now presenting Shikako’s adorable little genin: Punchy, Stabby, and Bitey. I may come up with more details for them at a later time if anyone’s interested.

Ask Box Advent Calendar is now open!

(EDIT: ahhhh, I meant to queue this for tomorrow, December 2! … oh well. DOUBLE POST TODAY!)

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.

Hi, sorry I didn’t mean I just come here to read the gambling away the past fic. I generally do come to your page a lot to read the stuff youve written up, it’s just I keep an extra eye out for gatp. Sorry for sounding like an entitled bishh 😞🙁

Hey anon. I understand. Text-based communication is the most difficult to convey tone properly and something that might be intended to be eagerness can easily be misconstrued as demanding.

It wasn’t so much that you come here only for GATP that was the problem as the idea that there might not be “any point” to coming here without it. And, yes, true–what is the point to going to any website time after time if there are no updates? Although, arguably, sometimes looking on past archived content is pretty fun–but there are also many ways to avail yourself to notifications that don’t include what and how you did so.

I don’t know if you’re anonymous because you don’t want me to know who you are (which is something that is baffling to me, but I already went over my concerns about anon status and continuous conversations here) but it’s not that difficult to get an account on the hellsite that is tumblr and follow me so as to get my posts on your dash. (And that last post, or even this post, I would be able to respond to you privately and directly if you de-anoned). Additionally, there’s also subscribing on the archiveofourown cross-posting which I already linked to you previously.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m berating you, anon. I am honestly pleased to know that someone likes my writing to want to check in on it for updates. I myself am a huge fan of a lot of different authors and their WIPs, and I frequently look at my bookmarks with a quiet sort of desperate plea for them to be updated–it’s just part of being in a fandom.

Hi, so I was wondering will you ever write more for gambling away the past? It’s absolutely one of my favourite DOS au’s and I come back regularly to see if you have updated it. I was just wondering is there any point to that, have you finished writing for that? :(

Hey anon, I’m glad to hear you enjoy my writing–or, at least, the AU that is Gambling Away The Past.

Unfortunately for you, I am not a very consistent writer. Fortunately for you, GATP is not on hiatus. I probably will eventually write more for that series in the future, but it’s really as prompts or my schedule or even my fickle will to write takes me.

Also, anon: I’m not secretly withholding fic from you. I tend to post chapters/sections whenever I complete them and considering they aren’t that long anyway, I usually write in single bursts and post immediately after.

But I would like to say this, anon, and I’m sure you probably didn’t mean it in that way: but I’m sorry you don’t think anything else I post is worth your time. Your phrasing made it seem like you think you’re entitled to something I do in my spare time–which, I’ll admit, I have had less of recently–and which is something I do for my own enjoyment. I’m sorry I can’t generate as much content as you or even I, myself, would like.

If you’re really just checking here for the fic and for none of the person that comes with it, I’d suggest going over to my archiveofourown and subscribing to that. I cross-post there over there because it’s neater for readers and that way when I do update, you’ll know. It’s not always an immediate but, again, this is something I do in my spare time.

Hope that helps, anonymous person on tumblr.

i feel like either danzo or orochimaru should have a cofagrigus lol.

I had to look up who this pokemon was, anon, because I didn’t know Yamask–who has the most existentially horrifying description ever–EVOLVES INTO SOMETHING ELSE?!

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As is, given the whole Edo Tensei, revive the Hokage and summon their coffins during the Konoha Chuunn exams, it’d probably be Orochimaru who has the Cofagrigus