Flip To The Last Page, 4/? (2017-02-03)

For Nara, school tends to be easy.

For Nara twins, school is hilariously easy.

For Nara twins in which half of the set is reincarnated with an entire adult experience, it’s almost disgusting how easy school is.

Still, at least Shikako pretends to pay attention. Shikamaru doesn’t even bother.

Then again, she knows even without their telepathy he’d be the kind of student to sleep in class.

In his defense, it’s the kind of day for it–warm but not sweltering, Iruka-sensei’s lecture just the right level of monotonous–and she’d be tempted to do the same if she wouldn’t also feel guilty about it immediately.

As it is, she can still reap the benefits, enjoying the secondhand nap from her twin. The way their bond becomes a little muddled; not blocked off, but slower and stickier, like sweets being stretched apart or the slow drip of honey. The contents of her brother’s dreams flutter to her, fat friendly bumblebees with pollen on their fuzzy legs, and she wonders what’s filtering back to him from her end.

The topic of today’s class is Fire Country geography, political system, and civics–redundant for any clan kid but especially so for one part of the Akimichi-Nara-Yamanaka alliance. Her book, thankfully, is more interesting.

For her, at least. She’s sure her classmates don’t find the Analysis of Theoretical and Experimental Ninjutsu by Tobirama Senju particularly interesting. Or much of anyone else in the village, actually.

According to the check out card on the front cover, the last time this book was borrowed was before she was born.

Still, maybe the fun parts are flowing to Shikamaru. The exciting possibilities of new jutsu, of flying on wind currents or bending light around oneself–superpowers in a world of shinobi.

She hopes so. Shikamaru deserves to be a child while he can.

It only happened the once, when both of them were coming off of an awful cold, heads still muzzy but no longer feverish and ill. They woke up, got dressed, went to school.

It didn’t become apparent until kunoichi class that something might be… off.

“Shikamaru?” Sakura asks oddly hesitant. She’s still somewhat shy and soft spoken, but Shikako thought, as friends, they’d progressed beyond that.

Confused, Shikako turns around looking for her brother.

Ino yanks her sleeve before she can embarrass herself further, “Shikako?”

“Yeah…” she says slowly, skeptically. Pranking isn’t really how the three of them get along, and she’s not exactly seeing the humor of this prank besides.

The sudden realization of what is going on makes her glance at her hands, but that doesn’t tell her much.

Thankfully, Sakura pulls out a little pocket mirror from her bag.

In the reflection, Shikamaru looks back.

‘Ah,’ the both of them think, and the sense-feeling of stopping mid stride flashes to Shikako from her body.

“I know this happens with Yamanaka twins,” Ino says, “But I didn’t know it happened to Nara twins, too.”

“Hmm,” Shikako responds noncommittally, absolutely bewildered.

“You’ll go back to normal after you both sleep for a bit,” Ino says matter of fact, doling out her expertise benignly. “At least,” she adds a little sheepishly, “that’s what Dad told Minako-oba when my cousins switched for a day.”

Sakura, far less hesitant now that she knows it’s Shikako–albeit in Shikamaru’s body–asks, “Should we tell Suzume-sensei that you’ll be absent today?”

Both of them consider it and Shikamaru–still in Shikako’s body–shrugs.

“No,” Shikako says, shrugging Shikamaru’s shoulders as well, “I can learn like this, too. I’ll just tell her what happened so we don’t get in trouble.”

Which is how the twins–and everyone else in kunoichi class, for that matter–learn that Shikamaru is absolutely tone deaf.

~

A/N: Second section for @donapoetrypassion who wanted Shikamaru going to kunoichi lessons 😀

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Flip To The Last Page, 3/? (2017-02-01)

‘Don’t do that,’ Shikako thinks at him pointedly even as he climbs over the fence to where the fawns are held.

‘Don’t do what,’ Shikamaru thinks back at her, tinged with denial and guilt and envy over her being allowed to sleep in.

‘I’m not sleeping in today because I want to,’ Shikako shoots back at him along with, ‘Don’t scheme against me. You’re supposed to be on my side’

Shikako coughs, lungs rattling and nerves zinging, both overflowing with chakra. Mum presses a hand to her cheek, careful and gentle and afraid.

“It’s okay, sweetie,” she says, “Breathe with me, Shikako. Breathe with Mummy.”

This is one of the worst attacks she’s had in a while, but at least it’s not bad enough to send her to the hospital.

Yet.

‘You don’t have to go to the Academy,’ Shikamaru thinks at her, mutinous, lining up the bottles of formula for the fawns who need nutritional support, ‘You don’t have to be a shinobi.’

‘You forgot a sixth bottle,’ she thinks, even as she tries to take deep breaths alongside Mum, ‘Dad said there was a late birth yesterday.’

In the deer pen, Shikamaru’s breathing syncs up with hers. He pulls out another bottle.

Mum relaxes, presses a kiss to Shikako’s forehead and pulls the blankets up to her chin, “There we go. Sleep well, Shikako.”

‘You’ll be in danger,’ one of them thinks, as Shikako’s eyes flutter closed and Shikamaru starts feeding the first fawn, ‘Why won’t you let me protect you?’

Dreaming is strange for them. Well, stranger than dreaming already is. Stranger than what Shikako thinks she remembers.

Shikamaru has never dreamed without her.

He claws his way out of a deep, oppressive miasma of hatred, red on the back of his eyelids. He doesn’t remember this night from his own point of view, but Shikako’s memory of it might as well be crystal.

The village around him is warped. Caught between a hyperreal reflection of what he’s experienced–every pebble and crack in the road standing out–and the bright cartoony visions that come from his sister, everything flat and jarring.

“Shikako,” he calls out, looking behind him. Tonight his shadow is just a shadow, dark and unsmiling.

It used to be that Shikako would be there, looking back up at him. Or a blurry presence more heard and felt than seen.

Now, more often than not, her inner self matches her physical self.

“Over here,” she calls back, a flashing image of the Academy building.

Not always, though, he sees. Tonight she is more amorphous than not, unfamiliar height but familiar colors. A vague adult version of herself, perhaps.

“I am an adult,” she says from in front of a lone wooden swing.

“I’m not,” he says, waiting.

Between one thought and the next, a boy appears in the swing. Blonde and pouting and important.

Tomorrow is the first day of Academy–for the both of them, a matter long argued and only recently settled.

They’re meeting Naruto for the first time tomorrow.

Change is inevitable.

~

A/N: Thanks for reading, @flyingisthewaytotravel 😀

While I do think it’s in character for Shikamaru to want to keep Shikako out of the Academy, I don’t see how he would be able to go around her without her knowing and resenting him for it. And, as far as he knows, her going to the Academy doesn’t necessarily mean she’ll end up on a team or anything–she might end up a paperwork nin due to her chakra hypersensitivity. (Won’t he be unpleasantly surprised.)

Flip To The Last Page, 2/? (2017-01-31)

They are far from the first twins born in Konoha–far from the first twins born in the Nara clan even–but it is the first time that twins have been born to the clan head’s family.

The last time something similar happened was a generation ago with a different clan entirely.

And so it is only somewhat a surprise to the Nara twins that the first move is neither theirs nor any enemy’s, but that of Hiashi Hyuuga.

It is not only unusual but also, somehow, simultaneously presumptuous and deferential for a clan head to seek a private audience with a different clan’s heirs.

And yet…

Hizashi Hyuuga has been dead for less than a year.

Shikaku is not unkind.

(And if this will in any way help his children, well.)

Hiashi knows better than to underestimate the Nara twins, for all that they are only children. The Nara are not a threat because they choose not to be, not because they are incapable.

The children are silent.

That means nothing.

Hiashi remembers what it was like to be a twin.

In battle, he and his brother were unstoppable: overlapping Byakugan and a complete sphere of divination, constant fluid shared knowledge.

The strategic mind of a Nara with double the capacity–no, the ability squared–a seamless loop of thoughts, instantaneous infinite computations.

Hiashi will not underestimate them.

He does anyway.

(In his defense, the truth is beyond what anyone could possibly imagine on their own.)

“Does Neji have the cursed seal?” The girl child asks, gesturing to her own forehead in a disturbingly accurate portrayal of the Hyuuga clan’s Caged Bird Seal.

A lesser man may have flinched–at the audacity of the question, at the viscerally horrifying idea, at the clear yet inexplicable leak in clan secrets and to a child at that–but Hiashi is no such thing.

As is, perhaps his own brow furrows, jaw clenching for a moment before he answers, “No, of course not,” he says and does not clarify.

Clarification is not necessary–or at least, not from him–for the girl child turns to her brother with a look that no doubt has an accompanying mental gloat.

Before too long, the boy child shoots an unrelated, yet equally concerning question of his own, “Have you had any dealings with Councilman Danzo?”

His answer is the same as before.

Bizarrely, this seems to make the children smile.

Hiashi misses his brother keenly, fiercely, mind both loud and lonely, his own thoughts echoing back to him without Hizashi’s presence to temper them.

But he thinks, even with his twin, this meeting would still have been confusing.

~

A/N: … still not entirely sure where I’m going with this, but it’s definitely not headed in the original direction I thought it was so…?

Flip To The Last Page, 1/? (2017-01-30)

In a world where twins are born with the ability to read each other’s minds and telepathically talk to each other no matter where they are

… Shikako’s biggest secret isn’t.

Her first thoughts in this new world are–where am I? What’s happening? Who are these people?–and so Shikamaru’s first thoughts, infantile but still keen, are full of curiosity and confusion.

It changes, when they grow. Both of them learning enough of the language to organize their thoughts. Streamlined into sentences and ideas instead of the burbles of emotions from before.

Shikako has come to accept her new place in life. Shikamaru has always known his.

Until she recognizes the faces carved into the mountain.

There is no hiding from your own thoughts.

You can deny things. You can compartmentalize. You can even forget, for a time, what it is you were thinking.

But there is no hiding from your own thoughts.

And so there is no hiding from your twin’s thoughts.

Shikako sees it as a story she can change. Edit particular sections and completely rewrite certain chapters. Characters and themes and plot points that can be adjusted, improved.

Shikamaru sees it as a game, of course. Pieces and set moves, rules and strategies. An ultimate goal, with acceptable losses in exchange for necessary gain.

Sacrifices must be made, but they have different definitions for it.

There is a delineation made, subconsciously or not, of what is most important at any given time.

A fork in the road. The known–with the costs and benefits tallied, just enough to be deemed acceptable–or the unknown, with all the risks and rewards that entails.

How do you decide which path to go down?

Shikamaru wants to play it safe. He is only a child, with childish strategies–one day he will beat his father at shogi, but that is many years from now–and he thinks that they have been handed the key to success.

Why diverge at all?

Shikako knows they must. Her existence, her knowledge, means they already have.

If they play it safe, they would need to remove her from the equation.

There is more than one way to take a character out of a story.

The problem with games is that there’s always someone playing against you.

~

A/N: … to be continued?

No but seriously, where should I go with this? Because I have some ideas, but I realize that they’d mostly just end up pale imitations of @donapoetrypassion‘s In Which Someone Attempts to Kidnap Shikamaru, Instead

Maybe this could be like a choose your own adventure type fic, where I try to incorporate reader suggestions?