Stars Also Dream, 8/? (2016-10-09)

There is something to be said about the man who can, without any enhancing blood limit, become the head of T&I for a hidden village as large and as prosperous as Konoha. Ibiki is impressive: he’s patient and smart and–as the horrific scars from literal weeks of torture will attest to–so damned loyal; you know you’re lucky that he’s your best friend

He’s also stubborn and secretly sassy and an occasional pain in the ass.

“No,” Ibiki says, simply, as if you were asking him if he had any plans for the weekend and not, in actuality, telling him that you’re requesting yourself for a solo mission off-planet. Honestly, as if you’re being difficult–he’s let you get away with much worse.

“I’m the only one who is qualified for this,” you argue because factually this is true. Who else has all the relevant information, abilities, and history for this?

(Your daughter, maybe, has two out of the three, but you’d rather die than put one of your precious miracles in the Empire’s crosshairs.)

“No,” he repeats, walking ahead of you through the hallway, the tail of his silly overcoat flapping with every step. On either side of you, intel nin stop and stare or hastily bow, as if Ibiki were the Hokage herself and not the dork who, at seventeen, cried from too spicy curry and still picks corn out from a dish before eating it.

“But-”

“No.”

You’d smack him, but this is his place of work and you wouldn’t want to undermine his authority. Also, he’d take it as a sign that he’s winning.

Instead, you circle around to the front and stop, facing him with a watery-eyed pout. You know what you look like, with your small frame and pink blouse and wide eyes, and while Ibiki is far too familiar with you to fall for it, that doesn’t mean the other intel nin won’t.

Ibiki’s eyes narrow, irritated but reluctantly impressed, because he knows that he’s been outmaneuvered. Intel nin are–when it doesn’t concern work–absolute gossips, and the Head of T&I bullying the Jounin Commander’s wife is something that will easily make rounds.

He doesn’t sigh–Ibiki is much too controlled for that–but his mouth twists for a brief moment before he says, “My office, then.”

Which, in this case, basically means yes.

A lot goes on in Konoha that the Jounin Commander doesn’t know about. It’s not a slight against your husband or his capabilities, but considering the sheer number of shinobi, not to mention the many departments and their functions, it’d be impossible to expect one person to know about everything.

Of course, the Hokage is expected to do just that, but she has a retinue of department heads and commanders and assistants at her beck and call–delegation is a fantastic thing. In most cases, the Hokage keeps a loose leash on her underlings, trusting them to do their jobs to the best of their ability. In fact, its only in rare cases–such as your daughter’s genin team–that she gets involved in the minutiae of the shinobi under her command.

The existence of life on other planets no longer counts as minutiae.

Ibiki can keep some things secret from your husband: careful interpretation of jurisdiction motivated by the somewhat muted panic thrumming under your skin– 

(He’s always been able to read you just as well as you read him)

–but he won’t keep secrets from the Hokage: that way lies corruption.

You know quite well what results when corruption poisons a government.

But you’re still wary when you and Ibiki enter the Hokage’s office–a place you’ve not so much avoided as tried not to intrude upon–a hold over from your paranoid teenage years, so keenly aware of your status as an illegal alien… literally. You’re lucky Ibiki is letting you in on the meeting, never mind that you are the expert in this case, but your nerves are still wound tight.

“Figures,” Tsunade-sama says with a sigh, dropping her chin into her hand with almost elegant exasperation, “I knew your daughter had to have come by it naturally, and Nara aren’t exactly known for being harbingers of chaos.”

A slight exaggeration, but not wrong–the similarities between you and your daughter are legion.

“Go on,” she says, lazy wave of her other hand, “Let’s see how the original holds up in terms of bizarreness.”

It’s too fond to be insulting, and in this influx of memories from the past, you’re almost grateful for it. Grateful that your family has endeared themselves to the Hokage. Grateful for the way Tsunade-sama listens, analyzing yet understanding. Grateful for the way Ibiki stands beside you, as supportive and solid as always.

Grateful for the reminder of your present: you are a wife and a mother, a soldier and a friend, a shinobi of Konoha and proud to be all these things.

Ibiki doesn’t understand why you want to keep your past a secret from your family, but he respects your choice and helps you do so. To the rest of Konoha–to your family–this is just a short one-week mission for T&I, a routine check on a low priority contact in Land of Tea. Nothing risky at all–why would he ever put the Jounin Commander’s wife on a dangerous mission?

That being said, his leniency only goes so far, and both he and the Hokage refuse to let you go alone.

Your repeated argument, “I’m the only one qualified for this,” is soundly rebuffed with Tsunade-sama’s almost lazy, “Which is why you’re team leader. Now choose your second.”

Ibiki smirks–it doesn’t matter that it’s Tsunade-sama doing the arguing for him, he’s still winning. You try not to scowl.

And, well, you’re willing to accede to some extent that they may be right. Rescuing a princess from an evil empire isn’t exactly C-rank material, no matter that you’re mostly acting as observer and support to a Jedi master once renowned throughout the galaxy. You’re lucky they’re letting you go at all, really, but a threat to the planet is still a threat to Konoha and it’s true that you are the only one qualified to take point on this.

At least Ibiki isn’t trying to insert himself on the team–it’d make an obvious lie out of the cover, and for all that you’ve never done anything to him, you know he’s not immune to Force tricks.

Any shinobi worth their headband can keep up with a jedi physically and mentally, but when it comes to intangible matters of Force versus chakra, there’s only one obvious choice for this mission.

“I’ll need a Yamanaka,” you say, which is as much assent as Ibiki needs to begin working his weird powers of bureaucracy.

The both of you are summarily kicked out of the Hokage’s office; within the hour you are back at T&I with a newly released ragtag group of aliens and a bewildered Yamanaka chuunin.

Poor Santa-kun.

~

A/N: Okay, so I know I’m late by thirty minutes, but this totally counts because I didn’t want to have a third missed post in a row.

Ibiki and Tsunade’s reactions for @donapoetrypassion (still keeping it a secret from the twins for now, so none for them, sorry).

Santa Yamanaka is a jounin post time-skip, so @book14reader and I figured that he could be a chuunin pre time-skip who accidentally mentioned he wanted more experience to become jounin in front of the wrong person (ie Ibiki or, possibly, Anko) and got recruited onto the WEIRDEST MISSION EVER. Also, even without the Force immunity I’ve given the Yamanaka clan, if you’re going to put the Nara clan head’s wife on a dangerous mission, the best people to put on her team would be a Nara, Akimichi, or Yamanaka anyway because they’ll do damn near anything to make sure she comes back safely.

Down Every Road: Or, Some Ways Shikako and Sasuke Get Together, 2/? (2016-06-06)

(two: hunter and nukenin)

She couldn’t have stopped him.

Maybe it’s something she’d always known, albeit subconsciously, still so aware of her circumstances, of the future she only knew as fiction.

Some things cannot be changed.

She stopped him from going to Orochimaru–oh, that was the easy part. What is some stranger with false promises in comparison to his team–his friends? How could poisonous words and double-edged power ever compare to their history of trusting each other and facing dangers together, side by side?

No, that was the easy part. This Sasuke–her Sasuke, the Sasuke that she tied to herself and to Naruto with delicate strands of loyalty and friendship and vulnerability–would never leave Konoha for Orochimaru.

But that doesn’t mean he would never leave for a different reason. And if Orochimaru–some stranger who only ever spoke to Sasuke once, and in a fight at that–couldn’t match their importance as Sasuke’s teammates, then how would their short time together as friends compare to his clan? To blood and to revenge and to finally putting old ghosts to rest.

Sasuke wouldn’t leave Konoha–leave her–for Orochimaru. But for Itachi? For family? To fulfill the only goal he’s ever allowed himself to have?

Sasuke goes. Shikako stays.

She has never felt so insignificant in her life.

She thinks maybe the worst part about all of this is that she still doesn’t know what she should have done instead. If she handled it wrong, or if there just never was a right way to go about it. An imaginary series of actions and words that would have resulted in a bearable fall out.

But she had tried, at least, to prepare Sasuke for the truth, to minimize the impact. Little hints and whispered warnings; should she have done more?

Could she even have done so? Danzo waiting and watching, Sai sent years before he was meant to appear. Sasuke made paranoid by her own, seemingly inexplicable, suspicions. Had she made it worse instead?

The truth would have come out, one way or another. That at least she couldn’t and wouldn’t change. She had even tried to reveal it on her own–the most tenuous connections she could make, grasping at threads and hoping they wouldn’t snap–but not without risking her own secret.

And maybe that’s what the problem was. She knew everything there was to know about Sasuke–knew him better than he knew himself, even–but she hadn’t been willing to give him anything of herself. She was always holding back: maybe he could sense that.

Maybe it was easy for him to let go because she had never given him anything to keep.

When the truth behind the Uchiha Massacre is revealed, to say things went south would be a vast understatement.

Of course, things went differently this time around than she remembers. Or perhaps the political fall out wasn’t worth the ink on paper, especially not in an action-packed story loved for it’s characters.

But, unsurprisingly, there was turmoil amongst the clans–for obvious reasons, Danzo’s plots leading to nauseating implications. Even if she isn’t the clan heir, she had gotten tangled up in her family’s reactions–her father had been jounin commander, then, too. Had heard rumors of the Uchiha clan’s discontent, but hadn’t realized the extent of it, hadn’t been included in the response.

That relief–and how horrifying, that she had ever considered the opposite to even feel relieved–had been a slight breath, not even a sigh, before again she had been swept up in the consequences.

Clan politics is one thing, but for Sasuke? It was only ever going to be personal.

Sasuke goes. Shikako stays.

But only long enough to prepare herself–learn and train and plan. Maybe she couldn’t have stopped him, maybe some things cannot be changed.

Maybe it’s too late to reach out, to offer herself to him and hope that their brief shared history–moments of honesty and scraps of affection and their bond of trust, strained as it has become–will be enough to make him come back.

But she’ll be damned if she isn’t going to at least try.

~

A/N: So it’s… not really how they get together so much as… Shikako chases down Sasuke. Actually, it’s not even that either… but it still works, I think?

For @book14reader who wanted “regrets” and all I could think of was, well, she couldn’t save him completely: Orochimaru is one thing, but family? How could she compete against that? Especially Itachi. But even Obito/Madara are technically his family, too.

And I know, the style’s not the same as the first installment, but it really seemed to flow better like this and, well, considering each installment is basically separate, I don’t HAVE to make each part the same.

I will add this to ao3… later.

A fan’s issues within Naruto-fandom

book14reader:

insanescriptist:

To me it seems we’ve got a couple of issues that need to be spoken of.

First is a matter of translation. Idioms, in other words. Most people in our world, have an issue of thinking genius means smart about everything, including personal relationships when clearly that’s not true. You don’t have to go to college to see that, or hang out with the professors. Genii and very smart people sometimes make very stupid mistakes. We know that.

In Konoha and the Elemental Nations, genius refers to shinobi skills and not intelligence. You have genius shinobi galore, a few other genii but by and large they’re all extremely skilled for the most part. Exceptions would be where genius intellect and genius skills meet: Tobirama inventing jutsu, Orochimaru inventing/perfecting jutsu, Minato inventing/perfecting jutsu and so on. See a trend?

Please note that all these genius shinobi inventing/perfect jutsu that can, in theory be used by anyone which is why Hashirama is not on the list with his mokuton jutsu. They don’t just learn them and use them, like it is implied Sarutobi and Kakashi do. Kakashi doesn’t make the earlier list of genius intellect and genius skills because he only made one jutsu when others have made multiple.

Sarutobi and Kakashi are still considered genii. Like Sasuke and Neji are considered genii. Because of their skills. Genius shinobi skills don’t take a genius intellect, but having the latter helps. 

Which means that Konoha has a pointed problem of application of seeing/using genius outside of warfare and skills applicable to war. As does its people.


Next Point:

Even if they don’t admit it, they -everyone in the Elemental Nations- are always focused on war. It’s why Jiraiya and later Naruto are such oddballs because they want to focus on PEACE by NON-VIOLENT METHODS.

Politically speaking, they are politically always at the precipice of war, even during ‘peace’. It doesn’t mean that tragedy/death/trauma doesn’t happen then. It just means that it wasn’t enough to start a war.

Having the Jinchuriki actually does help as a deterrent; they either keep the ‘war(s)’ small-scale and ‘cold’ in that should shinobi here be near shinobi from other place, they’re likely going to try and kill each other without leaving clues to who did it. If they did or were caught at doing so, then war may actually break out.


Point the third:

War happens for a two reasons: resources and ideology.

Resources can be food, people, skilled professionals aka blacksmiths/whatever, water, minerals etc.

Ideology could be for religion, belief that things should be done differently or that this person should rule. Or because you really hate this bastard/group because they killed your brother.

A lot of the Warring Clan Era’s ‘Wars’ happened because of shinobi ideology and personal reasons.


The 4th point:

‘Wars’ during the Warring Clan Era mostly happened between shinobi clans. Most shinobi clans are skilled at being shinobi which makes them very avid consumers to any market. They need weapons, clothing, food etc.

Unless they live in Kaze no Kuni, where resources are at a premium. But that’s a different story.

Which because most of the shinobi aren’t fighting over food, means that they’re fighting for shinobi reasons aka their client, for the money, etc. Because they need money.

The reason the feud between the Senju and Uchiha became so big and infamous because those fights turned from professional to personal over generations. To the point that I wouldn’t be surprised if a few shinobi decided that not getting paid was worth the risk to try and kill a few Senju/Uchiha.


5th Point:

Villages are a new concept, not even a century old. There’s immense changes politically and economically and so on. And generations are a thing.

Generational Mindsets are a thing. Values passed down and so on. See baby-boomers vs Millenials and so on.

So really, you don’t have to look far to see that establishment of shinobi villages changes things. A lot of things, especially for those old enough to remember the village not being there. Which is pretty much anyone older than the young Sandaime, when he was the Nidaime’s student. As Sarutobi was about ten when Konoha was founded, that’s a lot of people.

The first generation born in the village is something I’m going to call Hopes and Dreams. Because that’s what their parents hoped for and so on. We really don’t much about them, being younger than Danzo, Sarutobi and so on but older than the Sanin. They’re just kinda there?

The point being, these were probably the first generation of shinobi to have a stable home-life during their childhood. Not constantly moving around from base to base, camp to camp worried about safety constantly. They were probably trained like their parents were, but due to being more sheltered from war aka not seeing it from the time they were born/walking, they were a bit more traumatized by it. H&D had parents transitioning from shinobi soldiers to parent-trainers/teachers because they had no idea how to parent that didn’t involve teaching them to survive war: because the village was a safe place, so long as people would defend it.

And they would, because they were shinobi.

*

The next generation tags along after this, which is what I’m going to call the genii-boom. Because there were a lot of strong shinobi/genii and most of them went down in a boom of self-destructive habits. Often messily.

Hatake Sakumo is a member of this generation. The Sanin are too. Their parents are either Clan War survivors or part of H&Ds. Which has effects, okay? Sakumo’s parents were probably Clan War Survivors and very much converts to the idea of Konoha, since the idea to avoid war at the cost of comrades apparently did not ever enter his mind. Very admirable on a personal level, very stupid on a political level. Tsunade and Orochimaru’s parents were probably CWS too who may have died in the 1st great shinobi war or shortly after. Jiraya has no parents mentioned, so he doesn’t get the CWS mindset from his parents. Instead, Jiraiya is very much a H&D-child; lots of optimism, still train just in case.

As you can see, because the concept of Village is new-ish, the concept of thinking outside personal politics is also a new thing. Village Reputation now exists and is shown by its shinobi. Which is why Sakumo is reviled by his peers because as a genius shouldn’t he know how his actions effect the village? The fact Sakumo chose to atone for this personally by suicide instead of by other means also speaks to him thinking like a CWS instead of a member of Konoha. The fact that it orphans Kakashi and he doesn’t think it will really matter as Kakashi is a brilliant shinobi already speaks more about this.

The Sanin were pretty much the stars of this generation btw. We also know how this all went. This is when trauma really starts to get noticeably worse, to the point of phobias. Because they’re not used to friends/family/comrades dying in droves like CWS are. War becomes very abhorrent to most of them.

This marks a shift in politics here, at least for Konoha.

They want to try to avoid war.

This is probably when the idea of the Chunin exams came to be.

*

Now the next gen, I will say is the Parent Generation. These are the parents of the majority of Naruto’s cohort in academy and as ninja peers.

Their parents fought in the 2nd Great Ninja War, while they were young. Like, no, daddy’s not here because he’s on the front lines and momma’s been injured real bad so she can’t be a shinobi anymore.

They grew up in war-time, if not at war. There was a break for about a decade and then came the 3rd Great Shinobi War, which they fought in as teens and young adults.

This results in a sort of mental dichotomy. You have parents being loving parents, yet also very capable killers. Most of those shone here are remarkably mentally stable, caring to friends, killers to enemies.

Although nothing really explains the Yondaime’s actions to Naruto except him being a village leader and securing power in Konoha for a future generation. It’s nice that you believe in him, but that is not how you fatherhood.

*

The next generation is the Sensei-generation, being about a decade younger than the Parent Generation.

Raised in war-time, fought in war as young teenagers. Comrades dying and so on. Very terrible, very traumatic. 

Itachi catches the tail-end of this generation, severely traumatized by the one battlefield he saw. To the point he doesn’t want war but wants to dedicate his life to that of pacifism. Itachi makes no sense, really.

Also, Kabuto also is here. As a baby, but he’s here.

*

The next generation is the Kyuubi-generation, being mostly made of Naruto’s peers and a little older. They grew up in peace, and the first death they experienced personal loss for was Asuma’s, followed by Neji’s sacrifice.

Any other death related to enemy-shinobi so that was just business. Even then, they seem remarkably hesitant to kill? Except Sasuke and Gaara.

No one is denying that they’re talented but they’re very soft and underprepared for actual war and death. Like Gaara killing in the Forest of Death freaked Team 8 out a lot.


Sixth Point:

Villages are new. Village politics are new.

Sandaime had two examples to look up to on how to rule Konoha. The Shodai, and Nidaime.

I get the feeling that the Shodai wasn’t much of a policy maker/ruler? Like here, I make village. Laws um… ask my brother.

Now the Nidaime, being a genius can actually apply his genius intellect to ruling. Like bureaucracy, fear him. He probably set up all sorts of regulations, laws and so on. We know he had a hand in creating the Konoha Military Police, he probably created AnBu too.

When the Sandaime took office, both of them were also very dead.

So Sarutobi ends up working international politics, village politics and so on without a mentor or much of a clue to go on. Just saying that Sarutobi earned his Hokage hat in war, finished the war, while trying to figure out how to Hokage. He then raised his students, got married and had kids, and so on while trying to Hokage and parent at the same time, which was more difficult seeing as how Asuma ran to the Daimyo-Guard and his sibling is never mentioned?

Sarutobi also has to deal with the generational shifts and the mindset in his shinobi. Don’t want war?

I’ll see if I can avoid it. Would you be willing to sacrifice one of your members Hyuuga-clan? Thank you. War averted.

See the think about Sarutobi is that he adapted his mindset for when there’s peace vs when there’s war. He became a parent who could be a loving father and a God of Shinobi.

Danzo didn’t. Danzo is still very much a CWS. Survivors don’t make good rulers. They’re too busy working on surviving to rule in any long-term feasible way.


Point Seven:

When you write a Naruto character please pay attention to their world and what it means to them/how it has effected them.

This means generational mind-sets, the history of the world, the ideology of shinobi and how closely a character adheres to that.

I have my issues with the manga and anime itself, but these are the issues I have with fandom. Kishi’s rather terrible with strong female leads but he was very good at showing how generations, history and parents -or lack of- shaped his characters.

Both good and bad.

What say you @blackkatmagic and @hiruma-musouka

@jacksgreysays what do you think?

This is a fantastic read (thanks for tagging me, @book14reader) and I agree with most everything here. There are some clear generational differences in Naruto that do affect characterizations, cross-generational relationships, as well as the reader’s consumption of the manga. There are a few tangents (not arguments because they’re not against what @insanescriptist said, so much as just… sideways) that struck me as I was reading this:

1) clan vs “civilian” shinobi

I’m not sure if this is implied, but the generation midsets that insanescriptist describes best works with clan kids or those who have shinobi parents and become shinobi themselves. It’s not quite analogous to university education or immigration status, but there is this sense of being the first shinobi in the family (or being an orphan and becoming a shinobi) influences how children learn about what it is to be a ninja and how that relates to the village:

Take the Kyuubi-generation: of the Rookie Nine, only Team Seven aren’t part of active shinobi clans with Naruto being an orphan, Sakura being civilian born (… if we’re going by manga instead of anime and even then, they aren’t clan shinobi), and Sasuke having lost his clan at around age seven. Some of Team Eight and Ten are even clan heirs/children of the clan heads!

What this means is that, given their familial duties, the other Rookie Nine are raised to be aware of if not their actions reflecting the entire village, then their respective clans at the very least. Team Seven? Doesn’t really have that. Oh, sure, Sasuke keeps in mind an idealized version of what the Uchiha clan would want, but he doesn’t actually know; he lost them too early to get a real idea of that. Sakura has no clan connections, which means it’s only her teammates/sensei which connects her to the idea of the ninja side of the village–a somewhat mellower version of Naruto’s precious people schtick.

Which partially explains why Team Seven’s team melodrama is literally effecting things like foreign relations–each of them think so much of themselves as individuals that they don’t even bother with how this might look like to the rest of the world. Sasuke never being declared a missing nin and the “kidnapping” Killer B? HOW COULD THIS POSSIBLY GO WRONG?! Oh, Naruto will just talk to the Kumo team so they won’t declare war on Konoha/demand Sasuke’s head–no biggie. Team Seven doesn’t understand the political ramifications of their actions–well, maybe Sakura, only because her shishou is the Hokage–and it has to do with them not being clan kids, not being raised entrenched in this system of group over individual.

Extend that to the other generations–of the genii-boom (Hatake Sakumo and the Sannin) only Tsunade is part of a clan, while Orochimaru is a confirmed orphan and Sakumo and Jiraiya’s parentage is kind of unsure. Orochimaru leaving the village (I mean, despite the whole “crimes against humanity”) means he actually full on left the village–missing nin status, creating a rival village, eventually coming back to kill the Sandaime. It’s a very individualistic take on being a shinobi.

Contrast with Tsunade who–even though her clan is basically now herself, she was raised with the name and the responsibilities–though she leaves, never becomes a liability to Konoha. She never acts against the village. In fact, she comes back when asked to (and sure it took a pathos based argument from Naruto) and becomes the Hokage. Not only is that a point for her motivations–that she never had anything against the village per se–but also for her reputation: even decades of “retirement” couldn’t diminish her power when she stepped into office.

An invasion and recently killed Hokage should have made Konoha prime prey for the other villages–in particular Kumo and Iwa, given their previous historic grudges against Konoha. There should have been a following invasion, especially at that point in time when Killer B and Yugito were so much better trained than Konoha’s singular jinchuuriki.

But I digress.

While I don’t really know what the Hatake family was like or who even Jiraiya’s parents are, I think it’s safe to assume that they probably weren’t from clans or not very big clans at least. So Sakumo failing a mission to save his friends? Makes sense if he’s not a clan kid–he doesn’t have that bigger picture trained into him, his version of the village is through the people he knows (ie his teammates… is this just fanon or canon, but the teammates on that mission were they his genin teammates?).

And Jiraiya? He was asked to be Hokage first before he passed the buck to Tsunade–he rejected even though the village needed a strong shinobi in power ASAP. And, yes, you can argue that he’s head of the spy network, etc, etc, he serves Konoha by being out in the field and anyway it’s time to bring Tsunade back into the fold. Yes. But there’s nothing to say that he couldn’t have delegated his spy network to someone else–or assigned someone else to get Tsunade while he played interim Hokage. No, he was still being too butthurt about the Sandaime preferring Orochimaru over him to step up.

2) de-escalation of Kages as killers

I don’t even know where I’m going with this, but I think it’s super neat how (ate least with Suna, Konoha, and Mizu) that the Godaime are all known for not being killers? Because Tsunade is most famous for being a revolutionary medic nin, Terumi Mei for being a politician, and while Gaara is known for being a killer it’s only when he became less homicidal that he became Kazekage.

I mean, sure, it’s not like there were many other choices (given the whole weird Kazekage bloodline thing) but I feel like if Gaara had stayed that crazy loose-cannon, regardless of how powerful he is, they would have gone with Temari as Kazekage with Gaara as her barely leashed weapon of mass destruction. (Though having three out of the five major villages have female rulers would have been super cool).

Then Naruto is basically ninja messiah espousing “peace via non-violent methods” so it’s still following that trend even if he is literally the strongest being in the world.

3) Kyuubi-generation is not our generation

Unfortunately? I feel like this is something that didn’t become obvious to me until afterwards because it felt like they should be. They grew up alongside me the reader, so it felt they should be. And there was such a dissonance during the epilogue–similar to, but not as strong as the epilogue for the Harry Potter series–like, an almost disappointment that everyone just paired up and had children and maintained the status quo. With Harry Potter, it was especially disappointing because there are years that match up to the real world and so we know how old everyone would be right this very second if it were real. Naruto series, not so much.

The Kyuubi-generation, despite all their radicalism in their youth, are mostly just perpetuating what they know. Traditionalism of the village lifestyle they grew up in being passed down to their children because, hey, they grew up in peace and maybe we shouldn’t rock the boat. But you know what? They’re still being trained as warriors even though it’s supposed to be world-wide peace. If this really were a successful peacetime, their kids wouldn’t be trained with weapons they’d be trained for healing (always can use more doctors) or sealing or other nonviolent ways to apply chakra. We’ve seen that this is possible–the Fire Temple has monks who don’t use chakra for offensive abilities–but Naruto doesn’t make that change. And, yes, maybe it’s because he doesn’t know how. For all that he is ninja messiah he was raised as a weapon alongside all the other Rookie Nine/Konoha Twelve.

(Also, the women are keeping house and the men are out at work and I hope to god this is not how my generation turns out. Wth, this is some Stepford Wives bullshit).

Down Every Road: Or, Some Ways Shikako and Sasuke Get Together, 1/? (2016-04-09)

jacksgreysays:

(one: arranged marriage)

Shikaku’s daughter is a quiet creature. Content, but silent; solitary. She would rather read books or watch the grazing deer or follow in his and Yoshino’s footsteps than go outside and play with the other children.

It’s nothing to be worried about: Shikamaru is much the same, switching shogi for books and deer for clouds, though he, at least, has Chouji. Shikaku had been self-contained as a child, too, it is the way of most Nara children, he thinks, though he remembers, hazily, how Ikoma had been a little more active.

Eventually Shikako will come out of her shell–or perhaps she won’t, there is no rushing these things, pressure will only make the matter worse–Shikaku is prepared to be patient with his daughter.

Patience is not the problem.

“You want… what?” Shikaku asks, blindsided for the first time in three years–the last time had been when the ambassador from Cloud double crossed them and tried to kidnap the Hyuuga heiress–and by his own daughter no less.

His tiny, quiet daughter, who looks up at him, head tilted slightly, as if he’s the one acting oddly. “An engagement,” she says, with an odd twist to her mouth, as if the very word is bitter on her tongue, “to Sasuke Uchiha.”

He looks at Yoshino who also has an expression of bewilderment on her face.

“Shikako, sweetheart,” she says, stalling for time, trying to parse her thoughts, doing a better job than he is at the moment. “Just because you have a crush on this boy, it doesn’t mean you need to marry him. You can,” she pauses, glances at Shikaku, finding some sort of comfort from him, “Start small, honey, try being his friend first.”

It’s sound advice, truly; it probably would have ended the conversation if this were in fact a discussion about a girl with a crush on a boy.

It is not.

“I don’t have a crush on him,” Shikako says, entirely honest, no hint of embarrassed denial in her tone, “I don’t want this for me, I want this for…”

She drifts off. Neither he or Yoshino want to interrupt, and so they stay silent as she thinks. Searching for the right words.

“It’s the smart thing to do.”

[She is only a child, an untrained child, but what is the point of having this knowledge if not to save lives? She cannot stop this as a shinobi, not with her chakra hypersensitivity and her less than a year’s worth of training, not against S-class ninja who would sooner kill her than look at her.

But in this world she is not only a child. She is a Nara. The clan head’s only daughter, and that means something.

The Uchiha were isolated, seething and resentful, planning for a coup against a village that had already betrayed them. But what if she could change that? What if somehow, she could bring them back into the fold? The Uchiha were one of the founding clans of Konoha, and they just have to be reminded of this fact.

She is a Nara, and with her comes her clan. And where her clan goes, the Akimichi and the Yamanaka follow. And four clans is enough, has to be enough. Danzo cannot kill them all, not when the Akimichi are so deeply entrenched in the civilian sectors. Not when the Yamanaka pervade every branch of the shinobi forces. Not when her father is the Jounin Commander, as his father was before him, as, likely, his son will be after him.

She can do this. This isn’t something that requires chakra and jutsu and strength she doesn’t yet have and might never get. And, anyway, marriage is such a small thing to sacrifice to save so many lives and to prevent so much grief and hardship. It may not have to be a sacrifice at all. Sasuke, as she knows him from the past, was a product of his tragedy, twisted and angry and bitter but still with some moments of kindness and courage. Sasuke as she knows him now is just a little boy, but there is still kindness in him, and maybe some courage. More smiles, that’s for sure.

She will marry him and maybe they’ll become friends, maybe they’ll grow to love one another, maybe they’ll be happy together. But even if they don’t, even if they are cold to each other, civil colleagues forced to live together, then she’d still do it.

It’s the smart thing to do.]

~

A/N: Well… that was a quicker turn around time than I thought it would be. Also… I was supposed to go to sleep three hours ago but… oh well.

This is for you, anon, who wanted some Shikako/Sasuke. But that’s not all! As you can tell from the title I will be doing more installments of this in the future. Probably not as quickly–but it will definitely happen! Though, I’d definitely appreciate some Shikasuke-specific prompts to help with future installments

Title (or at least, the main title, not the subtitle) is from the song “The Only Dream” by Tyrone & Elina because it’s one of the few love songs in my favorites playlist and also it kind of works really well for the Shikasuke ship. Not this particular ficlet, but the general vibe I get of the ship from DoS.

Further Down Road One, (2016-04-15)

(shogi)

Someone is testing his patience–unfortunately, Danzo doesn’t know who.

His plan to destroy the Uchiha and steal their Sharingan–justified by preventing a coup, of course–has been thwarted by a single engagement. Which ought to point out the culprit as that upstart Nara clan head, especially given his tenacious tracking of supplies Danzo has appropriated for ROOT, except there is more:

The Merchant’s Guild, primarily a civilian organization, has begun making inquiries into some of Danzo’s less legitimate businesses–though they are several times removed from himself. The Intel Division, who aren’t worth the title shinobi, are enacting a stricter review over mission assignments and reports, restricting his soldiers’ movements.

The Uchiha Police Force–yet another reason to exterminate those overpowered menaces–have received anonymous tips, turning certain deaths from “accidental” to “potential foul play.” Most are easily avoided, but some lead directly to the younger recruits recently orphaned on his orders.

It is too many instances to be Shikaku Nara, beyond his scope as Nara clan head and Jounin Commander. And yet, the timing is far too suspicious to be merely coincidental.

Someone is testing his patience.

[She is still a Nara, no matter what she’s consigned herself to be in the future, and there are some parts of her heritage that she refuses to lose. Shogi may seem like such a small thing, but it is a connection she refuses to sever. She will remember these soft, lazy days with her parents and her brother fondly.

Also, the lessons are useful.

She has stepped into a shogi game spanning the entire village. Danzo has his political contacts, his wealth, and ROOT as his pieces. In opposition are her clans–present and future–their allies, and herself.

Danzo is paranoid, increasingly so, but not enough to correctly guess the identity of his opponent.

Shikako is piece and player, both.]

(friendship)

He is so busy straddling the line between clan heir and loyal ANBU that when news of his little brother’s engagement finally makes it’s way through the fog of stress and desperation, Itachi is completely blindsided.

Shisui is, too, so it’s not like he has any high ground to stand on. “Your little sister in law is very cute.”

“Future sister in law,” Itachi says back, just to be contrary, “Also, she’s six.”

“Yeah, which is why I said cute; smart, too, quiet, though,” he smirks, “She reminds me of you, actually,” he says pointedly enough that Itachi meets his eyes in curiosity.

There is danger in speaking out loud, unsure of who may hear, and so Itachi and Shisui have developed their own silent language.

Shisui can’t actually be thinking about bringing a six year old into their counter conspiracy, can he?

“She’s six,” Itachi repeats out loud.

“And what were you doing when you were six?” Shisui responds, dryly, “Anyway, I’m not saying we do anything until you actually talk to her.”

Itachi hums noncommittally.

“Ask her about the engagement,” Shisui suggests, “about whose idea it was.”

[She isn’t really expecting to make friends, doesn’t have the time to, what with the silent war she’s undertaken. She has her brother, she doesn’t really need anyone else. And anyway, allies are one thing, but friends? Not likely.]

(cats)

Mikoto has always had a soft spot for Sasuke: he is her baby, after all, unlike Itachi who has the weight of Fugaku and the clan elder’s expectations. Which is why she keeps such a close eye on her daughter-in-law to be. Mikoto is not against the engagement–Shikako Nara is a good match for her youngest son, and a sweet girl from what she’s seen–but she’ll be damned if her baby ends up in a marriage that makes him miserable.

As it is, perhaps she is too busy expecting the worst, focusing on Shikako instead of Sasuke, because he seems to be quite content with the engagement. Happy, even. Maybe even in love–though they are both only twelve and it is too early to say–at the very least, on the path to it.

Sasuke is her baby, so she was planning to pass down her summoning contract to him, but it appears as if he has other ideas:

“It’s an Uchiha contract,” Fugaku denies, never mind that it’s not even his decision to make, trying to divert his youngest son from this notion with a cold tone of voice.

But Sasuke holds his head up, standing firm against his father, and easily says, “Shikako will be my wife. She will be an Uchiha.”

The confidence, the devotion, the clear, pure conviction that he is right, that he will do this for his bride-to-be, no matter what his father–who might as well have been his god–says. It doesn’t matter what Mikoto thinks of Shikako Nara, not really, because she knows enough about the girl from this single moment to know. Sasuke may not love her yet, but he’s definitely on the way: as far as Mikoto is concerned, if Shikako is worthy of that, then she can be worthy Mikoto’s other legacy.

[She knows there is a deer summons. Knows that, because of the engagement, she will never be allowed to sign it. She may be a Nara for now, but she will not be in the future, and and children she has will be Uchiha not Nara. The deer contract should remain in the clan, she knows that, it’s enough that she still gets to learn shadow jutsu.

It’s a minor thing, anyway, summoning. There are powerful shinobi who don’t have summoning contracts and it’s not like she was guaranteed to have the deer summons, anyway. It was just a spare thought. Something that would have been nice to have–not something she needs. She resigns herself, something she’s been doing a lot of, to never being a summoner.

Except Sasuke changes that. His mother has a contract, and while it was originally meant to be for him, he’s convinced her to offer it to Shikako. And that still doesn’t guarantee anything–maybe the cats won’t like her, maybe they’ll reject her as a summoner–but it’s far more than she was expecting.

Cats are not deer, and being an Uchiha bride is not the same as being a Nara daughter, but it’s more than what she was expecting. More than enough.]

~

A/N: @book14reader and I had a very lengthy discussion (transcript here) about the consequences of a Shikasuke engagement. Primarily? The Problem of Danzo. And while I still basically sidestepped the issue, I thought it was important enough to brush over. In a way, this AU’s ultimate Big Bad isn’t Akatsuki or Madara, it’s Danzo. So… there you go.

Also, the other two were just kind of cute thoughts… and two POVs who I probably wouldn’t be able to do otherwise? Given… the obvious.