It pleases me to know that Naruto comes from a long line of people who inspired others to say “you did what?!” I wish Shikako had spent more time in the summon’s realm too. We see so little of it.

The Uzumaki are basically the clan of doing what others would think impossible. Mito-sama was the first jinchuuriki? Who else but an Uzumaki would look at a giant ball of rage and chakra point at it and be like, “Yup, gonna contain that with my mortal body. What could possibly go wrong?” (Surprisingly little, actually).

The summon realm is, like many things in canon Naruto, a fascinating idea that never got explored much to everyone’s frustration. How does it work, Kishimoto? We will never know.

I’m hoping SQ touches on it one way or another, because I have no doubt she can do it justice. But there are plenty of other areas that direly need world building and those more relevant to the plot as well. Maybe she will, but it probably won’t be via DoS–maybe one of the Sunshine Sidestories or a Reincarnation Roulette chapter…

byebyebriar:

Okay, about that rockstar!au. Gaara and Shikako would be on the low key wouldn’t they? Of course they would. Those two are very private people and not big on PDA. Nobody but close friends would know that the two are dating. Even the Sand Trio’s backstage team wouldn’t know. Because Shikako doesn’t look like a girlfriend. She’s not holding onto Gaara or trying to but into recording sessions or calling all the time. In fact, everyone assumes that Shikako is a stage hand. 

This is mostly her fault. Shikako became friends with Gaara before he got famous. The Sand Siblings didn’t become overnight sensations so there was a lot of shows done in bars or night clubs. It wasn’t Shikako’s scene but she went to support her friends. Doing nothing while the band got ready wasn’t Shikako’s cup of tea so she helped out. At first it was getting the sound right and doing some minor lighting adjustments. Then when they moved to bigger venues it was running around and putting that theater elective to the test. 

(Shikako maintains that she wasn’t responsible for the near fire that happened on the night the talent scout was in the audience. She will take credit for making it look like some badass pyrotechnics instead of a near disaster.

There’s a whole verse in Always You dedicated to this incident. Nobody believes Kankuro when he says that it is literal.) 

Now, the Sand Trio are pretty friendly towards their crew. Gaara knows everyone’s name, Temari is nice when you aren’t being an idiot, and Kankuro has everyone’s phone number. The ones that work with them frequently are less bodies and more vague friends. Shikako fits right in. Everyone assumes that she is one of those traveling stage hands that is going to school in between work. (Shikako travels around too. Research conferences aren’t all in the same place and she likes keeping up with the latest news.)

Now, the big reveal happens when Gaara shows up to one of her events. 

It rolls out like this:

Moegi moves through the crowd of doctors, researchers, and the lucky students trying to rub elbows with those that will get them into graduate schools. It’s the night to do it. Shikako Nara has just accepted an aware for pioneering the latest in prothetic engineering. As soon as the right steps are through, Nara Inc. is going to be the god of the medical world. 

Moegi wouldn’t be hear but Konohamaru had begged for her to cover this story. Their little start up newspaper needed some buzz after a bland week. Konohamaru had scored a press pass but wasn’t able to go and Udon cold was likely to send people running away from him. So, here she was. Pretending that she understood the jargon that everyone kept spouting. It was a good thing she had her recorder on her-was that Gaara Sabaku?

She doubled back and confirmed. The lead man for the Sand Trio was leaning against the back wall. He looked unimpressed about the party. Then again, he always looked unimpressed. Even during interviews, Gaara had on a cool mask and let his siblings do the talking. Moegi knew this irritated interviewers because everyone knew that Gaara was the driving force behind Sand Trio. She should ask why he’s here. Definitely. It’s not like she’s going to have a chance to talk with Shikako Nara. The woman is surrounded by doctors at the moment. So, Moegi detours and puts on her friendliest face.

“Hello! I’m Moegi from Konoha Press!” Her cheeriness seems to surprise Gaara. Or at least he blinks. “What brings you here tonight?” 

Gaara stares at her but Moegi holds her ground. She really does want just a few words. And his autograph. But she’s a journalist, a real one! She can do with out the autograph. 

“I’m here to congratulate Shikako on her achievement.” Gaara answers. 

“Oh, do you have an interest in prosthetics Gaara-san?”  He didn’t seem the science type but honestly, that made him hotter in Moegi’s opinion. 

“Not overly. It is an important field but I prefer my profession.” Ah a charity celebrity then. Moegi goes to ask another question when she is cut off by a voice.

“I was wondering where you went to.” Shikako Nara drifts over to them. The medal still around her neck. 

“Congratulations.” Gaara tells her. 

“Yes! Congratulations Nara-san.” Moegi adds. Shikako blinks at her. “Oh, I’m Moegi from Konoha Press.”

“Ah, right. Konohamaru said that he’d be sending someone tonight.” So, that’s where he got the press pass. 

“Nara-san, do you mind giving me a few words?” The woman shook her head. “Um, can I record this? Just to make sure that I get everything right?” 

“I don’t see why not.” 

Moegi hits record on her device and launches into the usual questions about Shikako’s work and it’s results. Eventually she asks how she knows Gaara and that’s when things get interesting. 

“We met in a bar back when I was doing graduate work.” 

“That must have been exciting.” Moegi gushes. 

“I doubt that.” Gaara says. “We were not famous yet and Shikako was too sleep deprive to notice anything that was not a foot from her.” 

“Hey, that’s….only a little bit true. I was stressed.” 

“Of course.” Moegi agrees. “Do you have any interest in music Nara-san?”

“Not outside of listening to it.” 

“Shikako’s singing leaves something to be desired.” Is…is Gaara teasing her? It look like Gaara is teasing Shikako. Considering the way Shikako scowled at him like Moegi scowls at her boyfriend. “She does help us out with our shows on occasion and with the music creation process.” 

Moegi dearly wants to jump on that but someone else comes over and she is forced to shut off her recorder and say goodbye. She goes back home and types up her article.

“I’m a professional journalist.” She tells herself. “A real professional journalist. I don’t do gossip columns. I’m a real journalist.” 

She keeps the article professional all the way until the last five lines where she can’t resist sneaking in “Muse for the Sand Trio.” to Shikako’s list of accomplishments. She hits send and it’s in the paper that morning. 

Moegi’s phone doesn’t stop ringing for the next two days. Every gossip column. Every tabloid wants to confirm that one line that has nothing to do with science. Moegi insists that it’s true but refuses to give out anything else. Not even for some startling amount of money.

Now, since the spot light has been shined on Shikako, people start noticing that she’s been with the Sand Trio’s on a lot of their gigs. A lot. Nobody really knows how she’s connected to the Sand Trio. Eventually, a reporter corners the three and asks what songs Shikako has inspired. 

“All of them.” Gaara answers. The reporter blinks. 

“Excuse?” 

“Shikako has inspired all of my songs. Good day.” The Sand Trio stride away before another question can be asked. 

Things EXPLODE. 

(ROCKSTAR!AU RECURSIVE FIC 😀 IT’S BEAUTIFUL!!!)

For the rockstar!Shikaara I really love the fact that Shikako has a “What did you do this time?” song. Now imagine since Shikako and Gaara met before the Sand Trio hit it big and started touring then the press probably doesn’t know about her. Because Gaara is a private person, Temari too. Kankuro can pretend he’s not but those who really know him are few. So it’s a huge shock when this unknown girl slips into the band area just before a big show in their home town and isn’t thrown out. (1/2)

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“Always You” is hilariously misleading and romantic sounding if it were metaphors, but since Kankurou means it absolutely literally it really is a “Shikako what have you done?” song. Probably something like:

When the ground breaks,
and the sky opens up,
amongst all the noise,
it’s always you.

Then the earth shakes,
and the stars come to life,
sword through the chest,
it’s always you.

Doesn’t it sound like a really beautiful way to explain falling in love? But y’all know what I’m talking about here. 😀

Yep, Shikako and Gaara’s relationship really comes out of nowhere for the media. Like, first of all, tabloids mostly were keeping their eyes on the other two members of the Sand Trio–they never even suspected Gaara of dating someone. Second of all, Shikako is an unknown. She’s not a celebrity at all–outside of academia, that is–so it’s just like… whaaa?

I do think, though that’s they’d be a pretty careful about that sort of thing? Like, they’re not really a PDA kind of couple, and they always make sure Shikako has backstage passes and such, so on the surface reporters just think she’s a particularly devoted fan.

I more like the idea that it’s not the tabloids that out it but a fan who accidentally does so? Or it’s, like the relationship, out of nowhere. Like they’re getting interviewed and the interviewer asks about inspirations for their songs and their answers kind of accumulate into the idea that it’s the same individual for each of them.

And maybe some enterprising and devoted fan–not maliciously–pieces together from the different songs that, oh, the person they’re singing about would be this this and this characteristics. And another fan goes like, hey I’m looking through my pictures of the concert and I mostly focused on the foreground which was a selfie with Kankurou but now that I examine the background I notice that there’s this woman sitting rather close to Gaara.

And then it just starts pouring in–other fans are like, oh hey she’s in here, too! And then someone, probably an undergrad student in one of the classes she TAs for, is like. Hey, I think I know who this is–it’s Shikako Nara, etc. etc.

And THAT’S when the tabloids swoop in. And obviously they play on the whole “WHICH OF THE SAND TRIO IS SHE DATING? IS SHE DATING ALL OF THEM?” Because tabloids are awful.

And then people show up to her university. Non-students are trying to sit in on her lectures/discussion sections/labs and campus security has to basically assign her a bodyguard (her classes end up having perfect attendance without the threat of pop quizzes, though, so that’s nice. It’s less nice that most of the questions she’s fielding are about the Sand Trio and not, you know, curricula related).

Her friends are pretty good at helping her dodge paparazzi–swapping outfits with her or just getting in the way or giving her an escape route. At one point, Naruto takes all of his clothes off as a distraction. Sasuke just breaks their cameras. Kakashi, being somehow more and less subtle, just slouches around her strategically so any shot of her is obscured by his lanky body. Seriously, every shot he’s just there… somehow.

Shikamaru really does not appreciate these hordes of paparazzi harassing his sister while she does something simple like take a breather from all the research and rumors and get a fucking cup of coffee with him. He punches a paparazzo in the face.

The Yamanaka clan–along with being very PR savvy and already spreading word to stop stories about Shikako–has many members that are lawyers. Which is good for keeping one Nara twin out of jail and protecting the other with an entire MOUNTAIN of restraining orders. The Akimichi, consummate businesspeople, begin smothering the life out of the more venomous/less classy tabloids by getting advertisers to retract their deals and messing with their finances.

The Nara take care of their own, of course, and while I’m pretty sure they’re more into pharmaceuticals than private security, no doubt they have a decent amount of pull in certain areas, too.

And despite being musicians, the Sand Trio are very highly connected. They don’t like the way some of the tabloids have been talking about their muse.

Ask Box Three Sentence Fic, 5/? (2016-10-28)

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(1 – anonymous – any!DoS, reality TV)

“Sensei,” Chef Uchiha hisses quietly, but not quiet enough that the cameras don’t pick it up, “we’re fifteen minutes into cooking and you haven’t told us the menu yet.”

“Maa,” says Iron Chef Hatake, in the classic blasé attitude which makes him a fan favorite, “I’m sure you’ll come up with something; I have very dependable and cute sous chefs, after all.”

And, as always at least once per episode: Chef Uchiha seethes, Chef Uzumaki shouts, and Chef Nara sighs, looking straight at the camera.

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(2 – anonymous – Kakashi as their teacher, modern!AU, playing favorites)

Every year, Professor Hatake chooses four students to intern at his law firm: this year’s a little different–not even counting all the murder and media and madness–because this year, he chooses five.

“I didn’t think he even knew my name,” Sakura says, a little bit in shock, “he just calls me Pinky.”

Tenzo–Yamato?–Hatake’s associate lawyer looks them over and says, “I’d offer congratulations, but I don’t think you know what you’ve gotten yourselves into.”

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(3 – anonymous – Shikako/Lee, fighting together)

It’s not that they complete each other,
two halves of a whole,
his taijutsu and spirit
with her ninjutsu and cunning.

It’s that they both share a rhythm,
an unbeatable upward climb,
no chakra, no chance,
every obstacle thrown their way.

They don’t need balance,
no grounding, no anchors,
they propel each other,
further, faster, forward.

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(4 – anonymous – Walking Around ‘verse Team Seven)

The first time they hear Boruto laugh–a bitter, vicious thing–Sakako and Mitsuki realize that good men do not always make good fathers.

The first time they hear Sakako laugh, bubbling quietly like a stream, Mitsuki and Boruto share identical expressions of victory.

The first time they hear Mitsuki laugh, a surprise for all three of them, Boruto and Sakako join in moments later, happy to be alive.

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(5 – @byebyebriar – even more 3.4, Shikako/Gaara, modern royalty!AU and beleaguered PR person)

Jinzo fondly remembers the years when Gaara-sama’s need for public relations was minimal and manageable: unfortunately, his job has become infinitely more difficult since Her Royal Majesty’s coronation.

He has an entire team now, which is supposed to make things easier but in fact just means more idiot children to wrangle–not even including the recalcitrant Leaf girl who started this whole mess.

Jinzo presses a hand to the throbbing vein in his forehead and bites out, reluctantly, “What do you mean you can’t find His Highness?”

~

A/N: Some Iron Chef for anonymous 1 and some How To Get Away With Murder for anonymous 2. And I guess some pseudo-poetry for anonymous 3? Anonymous 4 may not have been prompting for three sentence fic, but they get it anyway, and @byebyebriar you are awesome as always! 😀

1: love Dreaming of Selfishness. 2: I think the council was also trying avoid the shit show which would’ve been the debate over which position Shikadai would’ve inherited. He can’t be the Clan Head if he’s living in Suna and he can’t be Kazekage if he’s leading a clan in Konoha. If Gaara doesn’t have a kid then Shikadai has to abdicate /something/. I’d bet they were ok with Temari marrying bc they assumed that Gaara would also marry soon but he didn’t and now they have the succession problem.

1) Thanks, byebyebriar! I’m glad you enjoyed. I was a little worried about it being too… I dunno… feelings vs politics, but then I was like. Nah, it’s literally titled Dreaming of S(elfishness), people know what they’re getting into. 😛

2) All of this totally makes sense. I just wonder how much of the reasoning changes with the existence of Shikako? Because technically she’d also be in line to become Nara Clan Head (even though she doesn’t want to) and even though Shikamaru didn’t have to abdicate in order to marry Temari (because the Nara elders learned their lesson the last time with Shikaku and Yoshino) Shikako’s children might still be in line for it. I mean if Shikako ended up having a kid that was purely Konoha stock and who didn’t have an alternate clan claim of their own then the elders might prefer that kid to be the next Clan Head over Shikadai. And the Suna council might think the same thing? Like, oh, since you also have a sister, then her children could be your heirs instead…

Then again, all of this is moot point because in the Dreaming of S(omething) series most everyone knows Shikako and Gaara have a relationship so… either couple would result in a half Nara half Sabaku child.

I just super enjoy how in the Gaara Hiden novel, straight up Kankurou passed the buck on getting married and having kids even though he’s older. That’s so in character for him? Nah, don’t feel like it, Gaara’s the Kazekage, make him do it.

Gambling Away The Past 3/? (2015-12-19)

Ikoma has only recently been made clan heir, a second son obediently falling in line, but already he is being called Shikakeru–to challenge, to start, to set traps. It is a good Shika name, a name worthy of a future Nara clan head, but it doesn’t quite fit right.

It fits Ikoma’s brother better, even though he already has a Shika name given to him since birth. His brother, Shikaku, the one who should have be clan heir, had he not been disowned for breaking his betrothal. Over some non-clan kunoichi, and a mere chuunin at that.

It’s not that Ikoma agrees–frankly, he doesn’t see why the elders bring up her rank so often, considering most Nara only ever reach chuunin themselves–but he does think that Shikaku could have handled the situation better. Should have, because then this way Ikoma wouldn’t be stuck stepping into a role he’s unprepared for.

It’s not that he’s unsuited–Ikoma is smart, he wouldn’t be a jounin at eighteen if he were an idiot. He can observe a person and know their story without a word, he can analyze dozens of reports and form a strategy to success. He’s smart, okay, so he knows what he’s looking at.

A girl capable of the Nara shadow jutsu, with the same looks as the woman his brother left the clan for, and a Shika name. He knows what he’s looking at and it shouldn’t make any sense but, then again, Ikoma shouldn’t be clan heir either.

Ikoma has a decision to make, an important one. And it doesn’t matter whether or not he is clan heir–doesn’t matter what implied fate is waiting for him–even if he is using the clan heir’s authority. He made an oath: to protect his team, the clan, their allies, and the village. In that order of priority.

In a way, it doesn’t even matter that Konoha is at war, he would protect his clan. He would protect Shikako, even though Ikoma knows what her existence means for his future.

Shikako wouldn’t be named that if she had cousins.

Minato is confident that Ikoma knows what he’s doing in assigning Shikako as a fifth member of his team. It makes sense, after all. Minato is often called away to other skirmishes and battles which his team isn’t ready for, and given the near miss that almost occurred… well, Minato isn’t ungrateful.

But he’s also pretty sure that the two of them are lying. Not about Shikako being a Nara–that’s readily evident and, anyway, it wouldn’t make sense for Ikoma to cover for her if she weren’t part of his clan. But there is something off.

It’s not her name or her allegiance–regardless of if he is lying, Minato trusts Ikoma as a fellow Konoha nin. It’d be irresponsible for Shikako to claim a higher rank or overrate her skills–it’s dangerous, to a shinobi and their team–but it’s also clear that those aren’t the lie either.

Minato doesn’t doubt her capability–she saved his team when he couldn’t–especially not after their quick assessment spar. Though it is something about her skills which are questionable.

He recalls the way she aided them in the destruction of the bridge. He notes the lack of sheaths or extra storage spaces beyond the pockets of her flak jacket and compares that to his team’s reports of her fighting–sword and kunai and scrolls.

Surely, as one of Konoha’s three fuinjutsu masters, he’d have at least heard about a girl on her way to becoming the fourth.

~

A/N: So, here’s more of this…

It’s not quite what you asked for @byebyebriar, but it kind of is?

I really love Gambling Away the Past. Maybe the next section can be from Minato’s point of view? I’d love to see his thoughts on Shikako’s touch blast/sealing.

Anyway, thanks for the prompt!

Dreaming of S(ake), a DoS remix drabble (2015-11-28)

“You never sleep?” Shikako asks one night, mind calmed and cleared after a session in the sand cocoon. It makes her braver or, more likely, less concerned about manners; she’s basically cuddling the Kazekage, such a thing would require bravery and rudeness both.

Gaara’s hand in her hair stills, briefly, before resuming its path across her scalp. “I doze, sometimes,” he says, pausing as if to better articulate his thoughts, “I’m told it’s more of a meditative state than actual sleep, though.”

Shikako hums, part acknowledgement part contentment.

“When I was younger, I used to be able to sleep for short amounts of time before…” he trails off. Before Shukaku would take over, he doesn’t need to say, “After that, I was trained in ways to stay awake.”

“How old were you then?” She asks, already reaching for his free hand to intertwine their fingers.

“Four years old.”

Their conversation ends at that, though they remain curled together on the sofa for an hour more, before one of the Sand ANBU equivalents comes to the office and Gaara must resume his duties as Kazekage.

It sticks with her, though, a glimmering shard of thought not quite distracting her but definitely tugging at her attention throughout the day. Not so much the tragedy of it, as coldhearted as that might be, but rather the implications that come from it.

If Gaara used to be able to sleep as a child, when people’s strength of will are raw and untrained, then that means there was something else preventing Shukaku from taking over. Some part of his jinchuuriki seal that protected him as a toddler but could not anymore as he grew. Something that had weakened or degraded over the course of three years.

Something she might be able to fix.

But she holds on to that idea for a little while longer. She doesn’t have enough information yet.

Technically, she shouldn’t have access to this information–despite the alliance, she’s still distinctly a Konoha nin– but, well, it’s not like she’s reading a file she shouldn’t. She’s just plying the Elders of Suna with alcohol in hopes that they’ll be willing to answer her questions.

“Our livers are going to rot and it’s all your fault,” Kankurou hisses at her, before downing another saucer of sake at Chiyo-baa-sama’s demand.

“You’re the one who wanted free booze,” Shikako shoots back between gritted teeth, a parody of a smile as she also throws back a saucer of her own. Ebizo-jii-sama has not stopped laughing for the past ten minutes.

“This is a terrible plan,” he adds, yet again, before steeling himself for another round.

She doesn’t respond because she already knows that, but like hell she’s going to agree out loud. Especially not where the elderly siblings can hear it.

It’s not that she thought she could outdrink and trick answers out if them. She knows better than that, Sakura’s almost haunted look as she told the kunoichi group about Tsunade-sama’s drinking habits and Jiraiya-sama’s own ridiculous competence while intoxicated has taught Shikako better than that. But she figured free sake would make them, if not pliant, then pleased enough to indulge her questions.

Instead she is going to die of liver poisoning. Well, at least Kankurou is going down with her.

Three hours and an unspeakable number of empty sake bottles later, Shikako has joined Ebizo-jii-sama with giggling of her own. She doesn’t know what she’s laughing at, just that it’s very funny.

“And then I said. I said to myself. And I said to Temari. I said,” Kankurou rambles, cheeks flushed red, “I… What was I saying?”

Shikako bursts into another fit of giggles, the elderly siblings adding cackling of their own. Their poor, patient server looks utterly resigned with life; Shikako has to remember to give him a big tip.

“Chiyo, Ebizo,” a low voice says, just the smallest hint of amusement overtop the monotone.

And now the server looks a strange mixture of relieved and nervous.

“Hey! It’s Gaara!” Kankurou shouts, completely unnecessarily, “I was telling them about. I was saying. I said…” He looks around confused, as if the rest of his sentence would reveal itself to him, “Gaara’s here, Sparky!” He announces instead.

“Kankurou,” Gaara nods at his brother, a small curve edging onto his mouth, “Shikako.”

“Gaara’s here, Theater Nerd,” she agrees with Kankurou solemnly.

“And Baki,” he adds.

“Yes, and Baki,” she repeats. They both laugh.

“The two of you can take care of these drunks,” Chiyo-baa-sama doesn’t ask, just states as fact.

“Kids these days just don’t know how to handle alcohol,” Ebizo-jii-sama shakes his head, “Though for a Leaf nin, I guess she did well enough.”

As the two Elders stand to leave, Chiyo-baa-sama affectionately slaps Kankurou upside the head and tugs on Shikako’s braid. “We’ll have training tomorrow morning, brat. As for you, Leaf, I’ll answer your questions then. If you show up, that is. But I’m sure you two can handle a measly hangover,” she cackles before leaving with her brother.

The first smidgeon of doom trickles through their inebriated minds. They turn to each other.

“We’re going to die for real, Sparky,” Kankurou whispers–or tries to, it ends up more like shouting.

Shikako hides behind her braid. Unsurprisingly, it is ineffective.

They laugh again.

“Please, Kazekage-sama, Baki-san,” the server says, desperate, as if it were his dying wish, “Please take them away.”

Impassive, Baki picks up his ex-student in a fireman’s carry, before disappearing in a blur of speed–combining Kankurou’s transportation with his punishment. Very efficient, Baki.

Shikako says as much. Gaara, thankfully, is far more gentle with her; the two of them sitting on a platform of sand, him carefully holding her so she doesn’t fall off.

By the time they get to her inn, she’s already halfway asleep. Thankfully, this isn’t the first time he’s put her to bed, and likely it won’t be the last.

“Stay,” Shikako mumbles, grabbing his sleeve. Her eyes are closed, so she doesn’t see Gaara hesitate. He doesn’t sleep, but he settles beside her soon enough.

~

A/N: So I was stuck in a car for about ten hours and wrote this on my phone. I only just got back to my laptop now.

Um… this was yet another attempt at properly filling @byebyebriar’s prompt that derailed itself from my original goal. This time, courtesy of Theater Nerd and Sparky’s drunken shenanigans and the Elders of Suna sadistic tendencies.

Also! Do I mean English “sake” as in purpose or do I mean Japanese “sake” as in the rice wine? WHO KNOWS? I certainly don’t.