Since you seem to like time travel and related tropes here’s a quote (that you could use as a prompt if you have the time) I found on an old drawing that I forgot the most of the context of: “You are not the man I love; and now you never will be.” I forget who is the time-traveler in that scenario; but good luck with your convention stuff!

A/N: Ooh, I do love time travel and sad things, anon, and this prompt is amazing… the problem is that my go-to gal for time travel and sad things, aka Leanne Peridot of Counterclockwise, is doomed to never be able to change anything so this wouldn’t work in that.

I do kind of have an idea to fill this prompt which I know is fairly bizarre and convoluted, but which I hope you enjoy anyway? Thank you for your patience!

(In)Difference Remix, Or: Kiyoshi Fixes Her Mistakes (and makes some new ones)

The Utsugi clan is small, barely worth the term “clan” all told. Their shinobi rarely rank higher than chuunin, never above special jounin, and they are more than satisfied with their niche role in the village.

Snipers.

No other bloodline or technique in Konoha is as talented at ultra long range assassination as the Utsugi clan, and for that they are regarded with mild distrust and disdain. For all that shinobi espouse hardening their hearts, cunning above valor, for the most part their warrior heritage runs strong.

There is no honor in the Utsugi clan’s abilities.

Honor does not get results.

That is what she needs now: more than honor, more than valor, more than the lingering, unbreakable ties of love, she needs results.

She needs to make things right.

///

Kiyoshi is not a fuinjutsu master–she knows the basics and just enough to tweak said basics–but one of her adorable genin is, with the chakra capacity to power even the most outlandish of seals.

“Sensei are you sure about this?” Kushina asks, even as she dutifully traces out the shapes onto the cave floor. Kiyoshi has sent Mikoto and Hizashi out to check the perimeter; with this team, that’s as close to a command for privacy as she can get, though given who is after them, it’s not entirely a throw away.

“Honestly?” Kiyoshi prompts, because for all that her students will always be adorable genin to her, they are adults now. Equals. She can be the confident jounin sensei or the honest fellow fugitive on the lam, but not both.

Kushina pauses, blinks her violet eyes up at her. For all that it’s her teammates with the doujutsu, Kiyoshi can feel that gaze pierce through her as sharp and thorough as one of her own arrows.

After a long pause, Kushina turns back to her work, answer received.

Kiyoshi, shamefully, is relieved.

///

The problem is Kakashi.

No, that’s not right. The problem is her.

The problem is that without her Kakashi wouldn’t exist–and he has to exist, he is so vital to success–but in order for her to restore the balance of the world, she can’t be involved.

As far as the story she knows is concerned, Kakashi doesn’t have a mother.

Or, no, that’s not right either. As far as the story she knows is concerned, Kakashi’s mother isn’t present.

That’s a very fine needle to thread, but she’s always had impeccable aim.

///

Sakumo is well protected, for all that he thinks he is the protector of his team. He is earnestly charming and charmingly earnest, but Atsumi and Hozue have always been more socially shrewd than him.

The first go around, Kiyoshi avoided him in a misguided and failed attempt to stay away from the thick of things.

This second go around, she seeks him out for one specific reason. It has nothing to do with love or affection–though that night, there is enough similarities to blur those lines–and everything to do with her using him.

The first go around, Atsumi and Hozue were amused by her. Fond and welcoming in their own way.

This second go around, they hate her guts. It certainly doesn’t help anything when, nine months later, she leaves her baby on the Hatake doorstep.

///

The man she loved, the man she married, eventually went on to become the Yondaime Hokage. The White Fang of Konoha who would guide the village through a world war and succumb to the poisonous whispers of hidden roots.

This man with the same name and the same face will never get that far. He is the scapegoat for the war, sacrificed on the altar of public perception, but no further. She will not allow it. She shouldn’t even be in the village now, she has far too much to do, but if there’s one thing she will allow herself it’s this:

The man she saves from himself is as much a copy of the man she loved as the gruesome corpse she left in the Hatake house. But there is something in his dull stare that belatedly flickers at the sight of her. Recognition, probably, but maybe something more.

///

They are not the same. They will never be the same. But that doesn’t mean that he won’t ever one day also hold a place in her heart.

~

A/N: … so… this is my Kakashi’s mom SIOC Kiyoshi Utsugi from (In)Difference who has already lived through a life in the Naruto world, witnessed the way her presence has made things terribad, then convinced Kushina, her student, to send her back in time so she can excise herself from the story. But she finds there’s a way to technically stick to canon without actually letting all those people die (basically, Kiyoshi builds her own secret society of canonically but not actually dead ninja)

I dunno. It’s convoluted. I think mostly I missed Kiyoshi and that almost cruelly knowing manipulation of the world around her.

Heart and Soul (the crossroads remix), (2018-03-14)

A human without a heart–without a soul–is no longer human. Without that integral piece they are, at best, empty husks.

(At worst, they are monsters.)

But she stopped being human before she gave away her heart:

What do you call a god without a soul?

After, Shikako is different.

That is not so surprising. Inoichi was expecting a much more drastic change in Shikamaru, after all, and so having one twin be more noticeably affected by the… incident… only makes sense.

Shikako is different, After. Inoichi keeps an eye out for the twins, both personally–they are nearly as dear to him as Ino–and professionally.

She is harsher, more ruthless. On missions, it is not so easy to tell: it could be attributed to the rising international tensions, or the stress of her undeniably eventful career catching up, or even just growing up. The name Shikabane-hime spreads–it is no longer a silly joke, even inside the village.

She hardly smiles anymore.

Inoichi notices something in Shikako, but he doesn’t know enough for the truth.

The Shinigami works in trade: a life given as payment, a life taken in exchange.

Phrased that way, it almost seems balanced.

But it is not death for life; death only begets more death.

Be careful what you wish for: even if you get what you want to the letter, you might not get what you need in spirit. And even then, beware your intentions; strength of will is not just an expression.

There is power in determination, in desperation. But there is also weakness.

In that battle that nearly destroyed them, Shikako wished for two things. She made the mistake of intrinsically linking them together: she wanted to save her brother, and so she needed to be stronger.

She gave her heart as payment.

What was taken in exchange?

There were thousands of people in Land of Hot Springs.

They did not go to Jashin.

Death only begets more death.

Shikabane has some catching up to do.

There is a man kneeling at an intersection, hands pushing dirt into a hole in the ground that contains a box. The box contains several items which physically have little worth–a picture, more dirt, a small bone, a small cluster of flowers soon to die–but they have value combined, intangibly, unnaturally.

The man wants something–power or time or wealth or knowledge–it matters not. He’ll get it, the box he’s just buried guarantees it, but he’ll regret it.

He looks up, dirt under his fingernails, still on his knees, to see a figure that had not been present just moments ago.

It is small, in the shape of a young girl with mostly nondescript features. It has dark eyes–not the way a human might–like ink and shadow and the utter absence of that which is human.

For a moment, he considers backing down: there is a fate in those eyes that he is not sure he wants to meet. But then the figure speaks, offers him that which drove him out here in the middle of the night, blinks away the ink and shadow.

He makes the deal; his heart’s desire for his soul.

(Just as well, it was already too late for him)

A human without a heart–without a soul–is no longer human.

A would-have-been-god without a soul? You know what they’re called.

~

A/N: A sort of… remix fic response to @donapoetrypassion’s follow-up fic for this ficlet that I wrote as a response to dona’s prompt… so… yeah…

~tiny and vague demon!Shikako concept~

Blood and Water (the Loss and Life Remix), (2016-10-19)

A/N: Based off @bluethursday’s Blood and Water which is a DCUxAvatar the Last Airbender remix… you should probably read that first?

~

The first time Tim met Ra’s, he thought it was a curious and fascinating happenstance.

He never made that mistake again.

Your mother was water–the ocean and the rain and every drop in between–flowing and swelling and inescapable. Your father was the air–free and flighty, head too much in the clouds to worry about the ground.

Combined they made you.

Yet people still wondered why you had ice in your veins.

Bruce remembers his first impression of Tim: a smart but shy boy, demurely following at Ra’s heels. Only a few years younger than himself, a fellow fire bender wanting to learn from the master.

He was wrong on nearly every count.

Water benders are master healers, air benders the experts in spiritual matters. Or, at least, that’s what nature intended.

But your mother pushed and your father reached, and in the intersection they found a secret.

It was meant to be a gift.

Dick’s first impression was similarly wrong, yet somehow in an entirely different way.

A victim of Ra’s that Bruce had rescued, traumatized and reeling and seeking sanctuary with the Fire Nation King.

After all, Tim was clearly from the destroyed Water Tribes, he might have been a bender if Ra’s hadn’t killed them all.

Dick was very nearly right, if things were altered and rearranged.

You turned seventeen-eighteen-nineteen and realized that you hadn’t changed at all. No new scars, but you never had many in the first place, no wrinkles or additional height.

Perfectly preserved.

An abomination, a monster.

Cass is the one to help Tim leave, sees the fear of staying in one place too long, the fear of a threat already vanquished.

She knows he is hiding something, but he knows she knows, and besides everyone has secrets, so she doesn’t confront him about it.

Cass’ father thought he could make her the Avatar–she understands inheriting sins of the parent.

There is a pool of water that no right minded water bender would touch. Not that any water bender has had the opportunity to do so in centuries, so well-guarded is the Pit.

But your parents didn’t need the original to mimic it’s effects–no, not mimic… master.

Jason never met Tim, not properly, only saw him from a distance.

Jason thought he was the Consort of the Fire Nation King–just a fancy term for whore.

He wasn’t right… not yet.

If things were different, you might have chosen death. If the collective leaders of the remaining bending nations hadn’t banded together to take Ra’s out, you would have died to get rid of him.

Anything to even try to make amends, all those villages obliterated as Ra’s hunted you down, blood on your hands.

But your mother was a scholar, your father a dreamer, and combined they made you.

Maybe one day someone will find you and ask to be taught.

Damian is still a child when he hears the name–more myth than reality. It’s for old tales and nostalgia, nothing relevant, until he needs a water bending teacher.

Dick thinks he is sending Damian to a hermit, one who is aged, if not outrightly old. Jason does little more than smirk, but Cass gives a supportive shoulder pat.

Bruce stays entirely silent on the matter.

You are a monster, but there is place in the world for monsters.

Better you than someone else.

(But don’t all monsters think that?)

(En)Closure (the Stars In His Eyes remix), (2016-08-11)

A/N: A little thing for @esamastation’s Random HikaGo Event (if I’m not too late). A sort of B-side to my series (En)Closure, but this ficlet can be read alone since it’s from Hikaru’s POV and my character is only briefly mentioned and doesn’t actually show up.

Enjoy!

~

Sai has barely begun telling his story before he is rudely interrupted by Hikaru. It is something that he will grow accustomed to in a bewilderingly short amount of time.

“Does this mean I can see ghosts now?” Hikaru asks, looking at his own hands in amazement as if that will explain his sudden supernatural ability.

“Perhaps it is–”

“Or is it only you,” Hikaru continues, turning his gaze toward Sai, narrow eyed and suspicious, “Because if it’s the first one then that means I have a cool new skill that I can do stuff with. But if it’s the second one, then that probably means I’m possessed and you need to exorcised.”

In the bare handful of hours that Sai has known Hikaru, he already knows this: children in these times are willful or, at the very least, Hikaru is. Which means it’s not an idle threat.

There were onmyouji in Sai’s time–and in Torajiro’s time, too–no doubt there are still some to this day. No doubt they could very well exorcise Sai, and how will he play Go then?

“No!”

Hikaru’s face only pinches up into even more suspicion.

“I, that is,” Sai rescinds, “I am sure such a thing is not needed. Yours is a fledgling talent, perhaps I am meant to teacher you.”

After all, Sai was an instructor for both the Emperor and Torajiro. No doubt, he is meant to do the same for Hikaru. He just didn’t specify which talent; it’s not a lie.

Hikaru considers for a moment, then nods, “You better not be as annoying as Navi.”

A non sequitur, but seeing as how it’s not an outright refusal, Sai will take it and gladly.

Then, Hikaru cheers, “Let’s go find some more ghosts!”

(It’s at this point that Sai realizes he has very little control over what happens next. This is also something that he will grow accustomed to soon enough.)

Given the sheer size, population, and history of Tokyo finding supposedly haunted places is easy.

Getting into them is another story.

“This is the… fifth time, Shindou-kun,” Ueno, the unimpressed police officer, says way more exasperated than the situation calls for. It’s not like Hikaru was actually doing anything wrong besides, maybe, the whole trespassing thing.

“I didn’t know it was private property?” Hikaru tries, because it worked pretty well the first time and decently the second…

And then it got less effective each time. Apparently, going by Ueno’s expression, it’s not going to fly at all this time. Especially since she was the same officer that found him three of the other times.

Sai, too, has gotten used to inside of the small police station–no longer flitting from desk to desk and asking about each little detail while Hikaru tries not to answer out loud. Getting brought in for trespassing is one thing–he doesn’t want the police to think he’s crazy.

This whole ‘seeing ghosts thing’ is way harder than he though it would be.

“You’re…” A grimace flashes across Ueno’s face, before quickly fading into carefully crafted calmness. “Is there a reason why you don’t want to be at home, Hikaru-kun?”

If anyone else were able to see Sai, they’d know that both he and Hikaru had shared a quick glance of mutual confusion.

“… No?” Then because it looks like that won’t be enough of an answer to satisfy Ueno, he admits sullenly, “I just wanted to see if that place was really haunted.”

“Oh god, not another one,” Ueno blurts out, horrified at the prospect and herself. One desk away, another officer bursts out laughing.

Again, confusion.

“I’m not saying I believe,” Ueno begins, rummaging through her desk for something, “but the number of cases solved speaks for itself.”

She then hands Hikaru a business card with a phone number on one side and two lines on the other:

KUWABARA
Consulting Medium

“Pretentious, isn’t it?” Ueno says with a shrug, “But I’d rather have you call her than have you running around unsupervised.”

“That’s like telling one puppy to guard the other,” says Ueno’s fellow officer, “Though puppies wouldn’t charge each other an arm and a leg for it.”

At the, no doubt, blatant confusion, Ueno explains, “Kuwabara is a teenager, too.”

Everything goes back on track–Ueno letting him off with yet another warning, though this time far more stern and believable–and when Hikaru and Sai leave the station they both decide to stop trespassing in their search for other ghosts.

When Hikaru doesn’t throw the card away, but he definitely shoves it in a pile of random stuff in his room and forgets about it immediately. He doesn’t need to meet some other psychic kid who’ll just boss him around.

(They’ll end up meeting each other in a few months, anyway, but as an insei and the Honinbou’s granddaughter. She definitely ends up bossing him around.)

The second ghost Hikaru sees isn’t haunting a place but a person. A weird blonde guy in a white suit who has a job involving Go because that’s how Hikaru’s life works, apparently.

Hikaru doesn’t realize it’s a ghost, at first. Actually, if it weren’t for the fact that no one else could sense Sai, Hikaru probably would have thought that he was just a weirdo wearing really old-fashioned clothing.

The second ghost’s clothes isn’t nearly so out of date, but it’s definitely not something a kid would wear now. Because that’s what the ghost is–a kid.

At first, Hikaru thought it was a just that blonde guy’s son or something, just some kid making comically exaggerated disgusted faces as the adults next to him flirt. That is, until one of adults’ arms swings right through the kid’s head.

Hikaru stares.

The kid–the ghost–stares back.

At least until the blonde guy walks away, the ghost following as if compelled, into some building which, aggravatingly, kids aren’t allowed into unless they’re insei or, apparently, ghosts.

Sai is perhaps a bit too enthusiastic to voice the obvious solution.

And far too pleased when Hikaru grudgingly goes along with it.

(Hand of God or Destiny? Do all roads lead to the same place?)

~

A/N: This has nothing to do with esama’s Fallen Stars but I swear I’ve read it SO MANY TIMES IT’S JUST SO BEAUTIFUL.

edit: changed HARU to KUWABARA, to make it in line with one of my previous posts in the series

“I have to go water my cat” Karachi I don’t think that’S a good idea also you don’t even have a cat, can you imagine the chaos that would create with ur nindogs D:

blackkatmagic:

lol So I’m currently discussing cat!Tobirama with a lovely enabler and this kind of slammed into that in my mind and – 

Kakashi being adopted by picking up a stray cat that’s actually Tobirama. He managed to survive the war diversion by inventing a shapeshifting jutsu but then couldn’t undo it and apparently the nine lives thing is more literal than he had thought?? But just – Kakashi trying to deal with this super-prissy and unimpressed miniature snow leopard while all his dogs are NOT HAVING IT and Tobirama just wants thumbs again, you morons, why is no one noticing that he is not a regular cat??

(Spoiler: because, Tobirama dear, you are actually a giant cat, no matter which form you’re in, and no one can tell the difference.)

Curiosity Kills (Satisfaction Guaranteed), 1/? (2016-08-08)

(zero)

If it had been only five shinobi, he would’ve won by now.

(If it had been only five shinobi, he wouldn’t have sent his own team away.)

Maybe, if it had been ten shinobi, he could’ve defeated them.

He’s the Hokage. While he may not ever be as strong as his brother–may the self-sacrificing idiot never rest in peace for leaving him to run the village–he’s still a pretty damn strong shinobi in his own right.

If it had been ten, it might have been fine.

But the Kinkaku Force has come for him in its entirety, and while each individual member (for the most part) is hardly on par with Tobirama, as a whole he is outnumbered and thus outmatched.

But he’s not fighting to win. He’s fighting to stall.

(Maybe the self-sacrificing thing is a family trait.)

A fraction of his attention is on his team’s chakra signatures–risky, in a fight so unbalanced as this one, but not a decision he’ll regret–and that part of him is relieved when they slip out of his range, even as he’s busy dodging three different jutsu and sends two counterattacks of his own.

If he can’t sense them, then that means they’re far enough away that the Kinkaku Force can’t catch them.

Which means he can end this fight.

Against twenty, there’s no way he can win. Especially not now, when he’s already spent so much time and chakra stalling instead of truly fighting.

But that doesn’t mean he’s just going to give up and die. Ending a fight doesn’t always mean winning or losing.

(He always has one more trick up his sleeve.)

It’s experimental, but almost all of his jutsu started off experimental, and what better time to test it when it may very well be his last moments of life?

Doubutsurei no Jutsu

(one)

He wakes up and for a handful of seconds doesn’t remember a thing.

It’d almost be panic-inducing, except he’s Tobirama Senju and panicking has never been his preferred method of coping.

As it is, waking up gives him enough to deduce several things:

He’s still alive. Which means not only did his new jutsu not kill him but also, in his blacked out state, neither did the Cloud nin.

Given waking up requires unconsciousness to be woken up from, using this jutsu leaves him vulnerable for who knows how long which isn’t exactly ideal in the midst of battle.

He can probably improve this jutsu through practice and training in a more controlled environment, as in, not now while still potentially surrounded by twenty (thirteen, at this point, actually) enemy shinobi.

And that’s as far as he gets before the warrior part of him shoves aside the philosopher and reminds him that, hey, thirteen angry enemy shinobi are actually a lot more important than the results of his experimental jutsu. Which might actually not have done anything, anyway, since the chakra smoke clears and there’s no giant guardian spirit animal to protect him as planned. Also, his whole body hurts far more than the injuries inflicted on him would explain.

“What the fuck is this?” One of the shinobi says–one of the captains if Tobirama interpreted the team’s interactions correctly. Twenty members total, with four squads of five headed by their own captain.

A different captain, the one with the annoyingly accurate lightning techniques, asks, “Where the hell did that white-haired piece of shit go?”

Tobirama is starting to feel confused–something he hates with a passion–because he’s obviously right here and it’s not as if he’s invisible, but he figures discretion is the better part of valor. He stays silent (not that it’s much of a hardship).

“Spread out and find him!” roars Kinkaku himself who, unsurprisingly, is the ultimate leader of the Kinkaku Force–Cloud nin have no sense of subtlety whatsoever.

Three of the squads–or the remains of them, anyway–immediately split away to find him even though he is right here, what the hell is happening?

“And get rid of this damn cat of his,” Kinkaku adds to the remainder of his subordinates, and one of them moves toward him with a wickedly curved sword before Tobirama can even move his limbs which feel strained and achey and awkward and–

(two)

He wakes up again and definitely remembers everything.

He’s still confused as fuck.

~

A/N: I hope you don’t mind I take a crack at this as well, @blackkatmagic! You’ve given me so many Tobirama feels that I kinda just… please, accept this humble offering.

Hopefully I’ll get to the rest of it soon, but that seemed like a good place to stop and also it’s past two in the morning for me and I have work later so… enjoy?

Dreaming of S(elfishness), a DoS remix drabble (2016-05-05)

A/N1: So… I only discovered the existence of the Gaara Hiden novel after I’d already written half of this and I waffled for a while about whether or not to ignore it? But I tried to pick and choose enough from the story to make this “canon-based” and I know I have the timeline wrong but… uh. Enjoy anyway? (the second Author’s Notes were also written before I discovered the Gaara Hiden so…)

~

For most hidden villages, the line of succession for Kages is not explicitly a matter of bloodline. Kages are usually the strongest of the village, the one who can bolster the reputation of their village with their own. It is one way in Konoha–passed down between teachers and students and the students of students; another in Kiri–whoever can grab power and keep it long enough to claim the title Mizukage; with Kumo and Iwa being somewhere in between.

But the Kazekage? Has always been from the same bloodline, a family so strong and so ingrained in the very structure of Sunagakure that they don’t use a clan name.  They have no need for one. Instead, they are merely “of the desert,” a description so brazen that only the most powerful can claim it.

Except, with the recent birth of Shikadai Nara, that is no longer is the case.

While the councilors of Sunagakure were not exactly supportive of Temari’s choice in husband, no one would–or even really could–stand between a scion of the desert and what they want. For the most part, they stayed silent as she–the eldest child of the Yondaime Kazekage, the eldest sibling of the Godaime Kazekage, technical head of the bloodline–married into a Konoha clan.

But now?

If something unfortunate should happen to Gaara–a thought not so unbelievable after the absolute chaos of Akatsuki and Kaguya–and that something happened to Kankurou as well, then that would leave Shikadai Nara as the only viable candidate for Rokudaime Kazekage.

A Leaf nin. As Kazekage.

Such a thing cannot be allowed.

Shikako has not been the official Suna ambassador for years–it’s a role below her rank and skills and, frankly? As Konoha’s undisputed expert in fuinjutsu, her time can be better spent on other matters.

But that doesn’t mean she can’t visit occasionally. Suna and Konoha are allies, after all, and it is good that their shinobi maintain close ties.

Of course, not as close as Temari and Shikamaru, but unlike her brother she never dreamed about settling down with a family. Never wanted marriage–that single moment’s vow shackling her to a lifelong commitment.

People change, she knows that more than most. It doesn’t matter how or even how much they feel now, that doesn’t mean a relationship will stay strong. And forcing a promise won’t make it better, won’t make it longer.

But still, she goes to Suna, because she wants to enjoy it while it lasts.

Kankurou meets her at the gates, something he hasn’t done in years–not since her first official arrival to Suna–and he can feel his makeup cracking around a grimace.

“What’s wrong?” Sparky asks, and god what isn’t? He hates that he’s the bearer of bad news, but Gaara won’t do it and Kankurou owes her this much at least.

“Is it the council again?” she guesses, not knowing how on the nose she is. He’d laugh if it weren’t so horrible.

“It’s Gaara,” he says instead, watches her face turn pale even in the desert heat, eyes widening with panic and worry. Shit, he didn’t mean it like that, “He’s not hurt or anything like that,” he amends, hurriedly.

“Oh,” she exhales, relieved.

“He’s engaged,” Kankurou says, watching her expression turn confused.

“… in combat?” she asks, hesitantly, the truth failing to sink in.

This is the worst, “To be married,” he says. Then, just to make sure she understands he adds, “His betrothed is Hakuto of the Houki family.”

For the first time ever, Ebizo-jiisama offers to pay for the night’s drinks. Shikako takes him up on it. Kankurou tries to as well, but the old man smacks him upside the head and makes him pay for his own. Just as well, it’s not like he’s expecting to drink much–definitely not as much as Shikako.

It’s a miserable echo of their previous nights out, no Chiyo-baasama to lift their spirits, and Shikako still shocked and sullen from the news. The bartender doesn’t even have to summon the bouncer, or more help on top of that.

Not that Gaara would even come.

“He’s probably too busy with his fiancee,” Shikako grumbles into her sake. Kankurou and Ebizo-jiisama, lifelong bachelors, glance at each other nervously, unsure how to proceed.

The bartender snorts and rolls his eyes. Unruly shinobi? No thank you. But someone trying to drink their heartbreak away? That he can handle.

The problem isn’t that she’s jealous or angry. She understands, really. This thing between them has never been more important than their duties to their respective villages.

Gaara is Kazekage, he has to put Suna first, certainly above a single Leaf kunoichi’s feelings–and a Nara at that. The Nara have already lay claim to one of the Kazekage bloodline, that’s what instigated this whole arrangement.

She’s just a little disappointed he didn’t even try to fight it. She’s definitely upset that he didn’t tell her himself.

But why bother taking five minutes out of your day to break up with your scarred and dusty ex when you can spend hours talking to your beautiful and elegant fiancee?

Okay, maybe she’s a little bit jealous… And a lot angry; but not at Gaara, and not at Hakuto, either. No, she’s angry at herself).

And then there’s an attack. And then Hakuto is kidnapped. And then Gaara tries to rescue her himself.

But just because Shikako is upset with him, doesn’t mean she doesn’t have his back. So of course she goes, too.

That’s when things get… weird.

Except it turns out all of this was some stupid scheming by Councilor Tojuro, trying to enact a coup and she has an entirely deserving target for her anger. She lived through Danzo’s bullshit, she’s not going to suffer through this rank amateur.

But Kankurou, Baki, and, oddly enough, Councilor Odo of all people have the matter settled quickly enough–just as well, it wouldn’t do to have a mere Leaf kunoichi butting in on Suna matters.

Gaara and Shikako return to the village: the former sans fiancee, and the latter, bewilderingly, with two new adopted clan members.

Outside of battle they are once more uneasy with each other. Even though Hakuto has been removed from the equation, doesn’t mean the problem has been solved. The council will still want Gaara to get married and have children, and Gaara will still have to prioritize Sunagakure above her–above them.

Shikako understands, has always understood. But she doesn’t think she can handle this a second time, can’t rekindle their relationship only for it to be snuffed out as soon as another betrothal is announced.

“So,” she supposes, uncertain in the face of Gaara’s reticence, “This is it then,” she says.

He doesn’t respond except for a steady stare. She wants to scream at him to say something, anything, but that’s not who they are. The silence is damning.

She turns to go, shaking off the hesitant tendril of sand trying to loop around her wrist. He had his chance.

Bizarrely, it’s Ebizo-jiisama–who normally couldn’t care less about her and Gaara’s relationship–that gets her to reconsider.

“The engagement really was meant to be a recompense for turning him into a jinchuuriki,” Ebizo-jiisama says, not quite remorseful, but nowhere near as jocular as he usual.

Shikako says nothing.

“Damn short sighted of them,” he continues, “You, too,” he adds, which is pointed enough for her to bite back.

“What are you talking about?”

“There’s more than just two options,” he lectures, as if this were just another game of Igo, “Don’t need a wife for kids, don’t need a marriage to be happy.”

Shikako turns back.

“I won’t stay,” she says, because she won’t make promises she can’t keep.

“I will,” he says, which is more than enough.

~

A/N2: For anonymous who wanted some “actual arranged marriage” with Shikako/Gaara. I never said the arranged marriage would be between the two of them. 😀 Well, it all worked out in the end, I guess.

I tried really hard not to end with some cheesy rom-com running through the airport type of ending… Although a lot of the feelings regarding marriage came from our conversation, @book14reader

Some ranting under the cut!

Also, apparently (according to Shikadai’s Naruto wiki page) Kazekage succession is within the bloodline? Because Shikadai (who is Temari and Shikamaru’s son) is in line to be the next Kazekage which the Suna council/elders hate because he’s a Konoha shinobi. This does imply: a) Gaara is not involved with anyone/has never shown any inclination to be with anyone who can bear his children. b) same for Kankurou. c) Kankurou’s theoretical children might not even matter in the line of succession since Temari is older than him and her child would still be in front of Kankurou’s if Gaara doesn’t have a direct descendant. d) artificial insemination is not a thing that exists in this weird future that has laptops. e) even though Shikadai is possibly the only heir to the Kazekage, Suna never demanded he be raised as a Suna shinobi instead of a Konoha shinobi meaning either his role as Nara clan heir is somehow more important than the role Kazekage or the father’s clan has precedence over the mother’s? Which is just… what.

I dunno, there’s just a lot of stuff implied in the idea of Shikadai being the heir to the Kazekage thing that seemed strange to me. Because on the one hand, I love political ramifications to romantic relationships! But on the other hand… this seems like a really arbitrary ramification?

Fake Fic Summaries 12/?, the Return and Twist edition (2016-04-01)

A/N: So these are fic ideas that have been plaguing my mind and preventing me from doing anything else… so here’s a way to purge my desktop of all the files…

~

This first one, I don’t really want to do as fanfic but the brainstorming is originating that way, so maybe if I can figure out how to twist it into definitively original fic I’ll return and do so. But I can’t quite figure out how to pull it out of the context so here’s this mess of a brainstorm.

Mare vs Spare

The heir, the spare, and the mare: the Sawada twins were only ever meant to be the latter two–until all the viable heirs in line before them were killed off. Now both of them are left fighting each other for a role neither of them want.

Family is supposed to be everything.

So, basically: the Tsuna’s female!twin story

Okay, so why is this interesting to me? Well besides the fact that the dearth of women in Katekyo Hitman Reborn continues to be a pain in my heart, I haven’t actually seen a twin sister fic for KHR. I’ve seen PLENTY of twin brother (ie a “Gary Tsuna” who is generally evil and so real Tsuna has to take over as Decimo in order to bring peace to Vongola etc etc) but not twin sister fic which is actually really interesting to me because usually… twin sister fic is the go to for exploring a fandom.

Anyway, the fake summary sort of touches on what appeals to me about this: because there is misogyny in KHR–even the fictional magical version of the mafia are very clearly sexist–and so a twin sister of Tsuna would suffer the brunt of that. Even if Tsuna is the unlikely spare to the Vongola family, his sister (who I have for now named Nina to go with the whole 27 thing; but also, maybe she’s named Giannina or something) would be at best considered a potential marriage token. Or, skeevier, a way to strengthen the bloodline if one of the Ninth’s sons actually lived.

Which lysapadin’s A Year in the Life (it’s absolutely fantastic, go read it. Though, warning: it’s WIP and possibly abandoned) explores really well with a female!Tsuna. But the reason why I specifically want a female twin is because then the “spare” and the “mare” would have equal claims to the “throne” and while traditionally the spare would win out–it’s literally in the name, spare heir–Tsuna is No Good.

Vongola has had a female Boss before (just the one, but one is enough for precedent) so it would then be a decision between which civilian would they rather have as a mafia boss: the subpar boy or the probably average girl? But then, there’s also the aspect of Guardians.

I’d want Tsuna’s canon Guardians to stick with him and they are all very powerful indeed. But I want to see other characters become Nina’s Guardians. I want to see Kyoko and Haru and Hana and I-pin and Bianchi become Guardians. I want Nina to see people who are being disregarded because of their gender and make them hers. I want Fran to be their token guy… maybe… I don’t really know much about Fran.

Actually, no. I don’t want these characters in this world with this strange magical mafia. I want this situation in a different universe. I want the political ramifications of this scenario transcribed into an original fic.

For this second one, I actually wrote a few paragraphs before it stuttered to a stop. In part because I know where I want to go next but not quite how to bridge between the beginning and the meat of the actual story. And also, in part, because I realized I was writing fanfiction of a fanfiction of an OC who writes fanfiction for a movie that’s about a movie. Basically: ever heard of the movie Galaxy Quest? Well, there’s a fanfiction called SMOF by hollimichele that you may be interested in and which I highly recommend. Especially if you’re going to continue reading my recursive fanfic for it.

SMOF (the every story’s a love story remix)

It’s not like they have an understanding (except for maybe how they might) but Brandon and Casey sort of have… a thing.

The kind of thing that two (or more) people might have an understanding about. If said understanding hadn’t ever been verbally acknowledged and more implied in a very roundabout way in the less than two months they interacted with each other… which wasn’t even entirely in person.

Okay, so maybe it’s more of an understanding about having an understanding but, well, it’s certainly more than either of them would have expected given her previously antagonistic opinion towards his mere reputation and his complete lack of awareness of her until Katelyn almost literally shoved it in his face.

“Read it,” she had said, once Brandon stopped squawking about being unable to see, breathe, whatever, stop whining, and don’t mess it up. She paid good money for a print version, “It’s great.”

It wasn’t as if Brandon held himself above fanzines–he is, above all else, a fan and it doesn’t matter how big his name is in the fandom or what secrets he’s privy to or even what his impending job prospects are–but with all the recent goings on he hadn’t really had as much time to enjoy the fandom as he used to. Not when the fandom aspect of his life was stretching out beyond hobby and into something bigger and more encompassing.

But in a way, reading the fanzine was sort of like preparing for his new job. Or at least the handing off of his old one. Or maybe the …..

aaand that’s all I got. Basically, I wanted it to be a year long getting-to-know-you-long-dstance-and-then-fall-in-love kind of deal with Brandon in space trying not to die and Casey on Earth trying not to have an entire fandom implode. Nerds in love, basically.

I actually do want to figure out how to finish this one as recursive fanfic (if hollimichele isn’t, like, horrifically offended by this) but there’s just this massive block and it’s been on my desktop for a week. I also reread to see if Casey’s pronouns were specified in any way but they actually weren’t which is cool. I used she/her so that I can keep track of which pronouns are Brandon’s and which are Casey’s, and also because the only Casey I know in real life goes by she/her, but I know Casey is a gender-neutral name so I might revisit this with a he/him or they/them Casey? I probably ought to have more written before worrying about that.

~

A/N: This is not an April Fool’s thing… I just really couldn’t think of what to write? Also I got home from work super late again so…

Dreaming of S(uccess, the hollow hearted edition), a DoS remix drabble (2016-03-28)

There is only one person that Shikako has ever honestly considered telling the truth about her past, but so long as he wears the Hokage’s hat she cannot:

Kakashi is the Rokudaime, an honor and responsibility that he never wanted but must dutifully serve until his successor is deemed ready. So long as he is the Hokage he cannot put his students’ lives above the rest of the village.

And so she does not tell him, even when her knowledge has stopped being relevant, even after all of the things she feared has been resolved and become the past twice over. She does not tell anyone.

Not until he passes down the hat.

Naruto, finally accepted by the village he calls home, stays and learns. Sasuke, chafing under the years of being protected with a short leash, requests missions with long durations in far off places.

Shikako chooses to wander the land–training trip or research trip or maybe even both, inheriting Jiraiya’s role as spymaster and fuinjutsu master and author (though her books are far less perverted in nature).

During war, Team Seven banded together to save the world. In peace, they spiral apart.

Perhaps one day they will be reunited, but there is very little that can stand up to one of them, much less requires all three, and so that day is far away.

There are marriages and children and entire lives being lived without her, and Shikako realizes, almost five months after her twentieth birthday, that this is basically the same thing that must have happened after whatever ripped her from her old world reincarnated her in this world.

Maybe her sister got married, maybe there is a niece or nephew in that old world that she has never met and will never meet. Or has time progressed even further–another generation on who wouldn’t even be told of their missing great aunt, much less care.

She doesn’t know if there’s a niece and nephew here, in this version of this world, that she hasn’t yet met.

She goes home immediately.

She regrets it almost immediately.

She’s grown beyond the shape she once carved herself into for their sakes, and now they no longer fit.

She doesn’t know if she means her brother, her team, or Konoha itself.

It’s stifling and bewildering, this place she once called home, this place she killed and died for. All of the changes like unfamiliar scars on people who she once would have said she knew better than anyone.

That is no longer the case.

Shikamaru has long since learned to be less protective of her–his twin his shadow his sister–but now he has a wife and child and somehow Shikako is no longer his. Sasuke has settled into his own skin, an identity she has never seen, a life she could have never predicted. Naruto is the hero grown, triumphant, successful; he does not need her to guide the way, to show him how to make dreams reality.

He’s already done so.

Naruto is no longer a boy hoping to be the Hokage.

He is the Hokage.

Which means Kakashi is not.

Once, he may have been the only person she ever considered telling the truth, but that was many years ago.

She has changed and so, too, has he.

~

A/N: … I’m posting this as a response to this prompt because this is what shook out of my brain, but I’m not entirely satisfied with this so I will hopefully be making a less bleak/rambling edition

Stories of Ancient Gods, a DoSxFFVII crossover drabble (2016-03-15)

A/N1: Okay, so you remember that ask about what I would crossover with DoS and I ranted for a long time and said I would probably not do any of them.

Well. I am a liar.

So here’s a rambling FFVIIxDoS-esque… thing… (only the barest of FFVII is actually used, really).

There is no fate.

Shikako believes this to be true–knows it is true, needs it to be true–because how could she exist, otherwise?

Because, if fate did exist, then what would that make the person who changed it? Either there is no fate, or there is and Shikako has diverted it.

No matter what the civilians think–of her and her teammates who took on bijuu and the human monsters that tried to control them–no matter the whispering she still sometimes hears when she closes her eyes and sees the ghosts of stars in her sleep, she is not a god.

She needs this to be true.

Planets change over time: continents shifting and mountains rising and oceans receding. Shikako knows that once the Land of Fire was more volcanoes than forest, Land of Wind was not always a desert, and even the continent of the Elemental Nations was not configured eons ago the way it is now.

She knows this from the past and so it is no surprise that something holds over from it. Mostly, the disbelief that humans existed before the planet had rearranged itself.

The Book of Gelel is old, the Empire of Gelel existing even before the Sage of the Six Paths which is–in the eyes of shinobi history, a very long time indeed–but the book speaks of even older civilizations who themselves revered an ancient race as gods.

Or, rather, goddess. One who saved the world from famine and war and pestilence and death.

Even if she were willing to ask the question, the only two jinchuuriki with whom she would be comfortable with asking are themselves not close enough to their bijuu to ask. Not with Shukaku gone insane in captivity and Kurama still so bitter and angry from being passed down like a family heirloom. Or a slave.

No, Shikako cannot ask Gaara or Naruto to pass on the question, and so there is no way she can get the answer.

It’s not as if she can ask Shukaku and Kurama directly.

And anyway, she doesn’t really need them to tell her about Kaguya Otsutsuki. Not when the whispers in her sleep already speak of that mistake and their redemption through Shikako.

Shikako learns how to be a sage not from the deer summons–who themselves do not have the knowledge–or from Jiraiya–who has an obligation to Naruto above anyone else–or even from the Fire Temples as suggested.

No, as with many things, Shikako learns from a book.

Well, a book and a stone.

Sometimes the whispers follow Shikako when she is awake, but only as flashes of thought. Nothing that would distract her during battle or put pressure on her already busy mind.

No, there is danger in offering too much all at once. They have learned that lesson the hard way.

But sometimes, Shikako will catch sight of her teammates, hear that flicker of thought, and wonder at the incongruity. Because no one would look at Team Seven and single out Sasuke as chaos. And only those who have not spoken to Naruto could ever consider him a weapon.

Kakashi is dangerous, yes, but never to her–and yet the whispers turn into a brief scream of fear and calamity.

It is better if she does not look.

Here is the problem with stories: they are only ever a possibility. There is no real ending in life and so stories, with such a brief glimpse into a world, cannot contain the entire truth.

Stories can be lies, and vice versa.

Stories can also be lessons.

Like an object in motion, at any given point in time, either its velocity or its position can be observed. But not both.

Shikako feels like object and observer and does not know yet what it means.

~

A/N2: Eeeeeeeeh? Yeah? I dunno?

HERE, TAKE MY THOUGHTS.

edit: now on ao3 as part of the Dreaming One Shots collection here

Dreaming of S(peculation), a DoS remix drabble (2016-02-19)

Strangely enough, the rumors originate not from Suna or Konoha, but from Kiri–specifically, with Mei Terumi. Of course, when asked about the matter, she will only smile and say, “A mere misunderstanding; I just wanted to prepare for my own possible political nuptials.” As she explains, she sends a wink towards Kakashi who is reluctantly acting as one of Tsunade’s guard.

Needless to say, this does not impress the Hokage’s other guard–but then again, Shikamaru’s brow has been stuck in a near permanent furrow for the past few months. Mostly, Tsunade brought him along for entertainment.

Both of them, actually. God knows she’s been needing something to laugh at. Having two people more stressed out about Shikako’s near engagement than her makes the situation less headache inducing.

At least Tsunade’s not dealing with the girl in question. Or her fellow catastrophic Lucky Sevens teammates.

Or her almost fiancé.

“This is unacceptable!” Councillor Odo shouts. Despite his seat being furthest from the corner of the hall Kankurou’s claimed, his voice is just shrill and put upon enough to cut through the distance. “We cannot have our Kazekage engaged to some… girl from Land of Fire! She’s not even of noble birth!”

While the other councillors are less vocal, most of them have expressions which make their similar lack of approval quite clear. But there are a fair few who don’t, a few who look almost… considering.

“Hey! What does a wrinkled old blowhard like you have to do with this? Who are you anyway? Shikako isn’t some girl! She’s amazing and way better than you’ll ever be!” Naruto shouts, bristling with anger, as if the world of politics were settled with volume and not finesse.

For obvious reasons, the position of Konoha’s ambassador to Suna had to be temporarily reassigned. Unfortunately, the only person both sides could agree on as a replacement was Naruto who… well… probably would never get this assignment ever again if the councillors had anything to say about it.

Kankurou does find this absolutely hilarious, though, because it’s not like he has to put up with the codgers that frequently. The only reason why he’s here is because he’s acting as–and this is the best part–Gaara’s guardian seeing as how Temari is away doing her job as Suna’s ambassador to Konoha and neither party of this alleged engagement is over the age of majority.

Old enough to kill for your country, and old enough to lead a village, but not old enough to decide who he can marry. Diplomatic marriages, who knew?

Gaara, for once in his reign as Kazekage refusing to be involved in the village’s political matters, spends the entirety of the discussion failing to hide his laughter.

In the mountains of the Land of Lightning, one very pissed off sword-wielding chuunin is slashing all of the training posts into pieces. The pieces of stone that fall are small enough to be considered pebbles.

Given that Netsui has literally only met Shikako Nara twice–once during their infuriating matchup in the Grass Chuunin Exams, and the second during an absolutely bizarre mission which she would like to cut out of her brain if necessary–it doesn’t make very much sense that she should care so much about hearsay on some stupid marriage. It’s not like that’ll affect either of their combat abilities so it shouldn’t matter. But Kumo has always been very… encouraging of their shinobi’s emotions and irritation at one’s self-appointed nemesis is close enough.

“You know you’re going to have to fix those before you leave, right?” Akantai says, and Netsui bites back the automatic growl because it’s not like there are many people lining up to talk to her even years after that shameful excuse for a fight.

“I will,” she grits out, because that’s all she can say before she goes on to hack away at the remaining two training posts. Of course, once that’s done now she has to talk.

“Is this about that Nara?” Akantai asks and that’s it. Netsui can’t even–

“Of course it’s about that damned Nara! Why is she even getting married now? That makes no sense! She’s not even in her prime yet, much less past it, and she’s going to ruin her career by shacking up with some guy and popping out babies? What?”

“Some guy… as in… the Kazekage?” Akantai says slowly, in disbelief.

“Whatever!” she shouts back, unappeased.

“Maybe they’re trying to make a new bloodline,” Akantai suggests, before making a quick jump back to dodge a swipe from Netsui’s sword.

“This is such bullshit!”

It is a very tense and awkward silence that greets Ino when she gracefully and subtly sneaks into the official meeting between Suna’s ambassador, the Nara family, and–for some reason–Sasuke.

She’s not surprised to see the scowl on Sasuke’s face, given his not so secret conflicted feelings for Shikako even to this day; but she’s not expecting the stiff, displeased smile on Yoshino-san’s face much less the mild frown on Shikaku-san’s which, for anyone else, would be scowls. Shikako’s exasperation and Temari’s barely hidden bewilderment, however, makes sense. This is practically an omiai–or the precursor to one–and Ino is more than happy to sit in and watch.

“Are you implying that my daughter somehow isn’t good enough to be engaged to your brother?” Yoshino asks, looking somehow more lethal in her pink yukata than Sasuke, brooding in the corner with his sword still strapped to his back and no less than twenty kunai in reach.

“Oh my god, kill me now, please,” Shikako mutters, face in her hands, no doubt absolutely embarrassed by everything about this situation.

Temari’s left eye twitches before she valiantly attempts to talk her way out of this verbal trap, “As my brother’s representative in both my capacity as Sunagakure’s ambassador and as the head of our family, I can say with utmost certainty that our reluctance in this engagement has nothing to do with Shikako as a person. Rather it’s more to do with–”

“She’s second in line in succession to the Nara Clan,” Shikaku-san adds, throwing fuel onto the fire that is Yoshino-san’s indignation.

“She’s also an extremely powerful shinobi,” Sasuke contributes, simultaneously messing with Shikako and being a faithful teammate.

“And very pretty,” Ino says, just because.

Shikako makes a noise not unlike Ino’s chameleon summons when they are particularly hungry and cranky.

“Yes?” Temari responds, confused, before glancing at Yoshino-san and repeating, more firmly, “Yes, she is. But the problem is that my brother hasn’t had any say in this engagement that appeared out of nowhere and, frankly, looking at Shikako it would seem like she hasn’t either.”

“No, I have not,” Shikako says definitively, which would have ended the topic of conversation and that just cannot be done.

Sasuke, Shikaku-san, and Temari all seem to be relaxing, which gives Yoshino-san the opportunity to say, “Which isn’t to say that she’s against such an engagement. Just that these matters ought to be handled in a more formal manner.”

Shikako sends a startled look to her mother.

Which then jerks immediately in Ino’s direction when she says, “The Yamanaka clan have very reputable matchmakers.”

It takes three months to put down the rumor of Shikako and Gaara’s whirlwind engagement. Though it still lingers and pops up every now and then–whispers of heated looks and midnight assignations spreading around the Elemental Nations.

Jiraiya writes a book based on it; it becomes a best-seller.

~

A/N: So it was less about politics and tabloids and more about rumors and everyone needlessly voicing their opinion but…uh… hope you enjoy, anon, and thanks for the prompt.

This took me a lot longer than I would have preferred because someone Netsui wanted to keep ranting about their eternal hatred for Shikako and I kept having to parse it down to relevance.