1123. Some friends you see / every day, / and some friends you see / when there’s blood / in the air. / You need both. / (Your daytime friends are no help in the dark.) Sai/Shikako

Some friends you see every day,
and some friends you see when there’s blood in the air.
You need both.
(Your daytime friends are no help in the dark.)

(the dark side of the moon)

This is a story about mistakes.

Shikako makes the mistake of trying to help. It comes to naught–an entire clan massacred regardless of her attempts–and worse, she catches the eye of a predator far more dangerous than the rogue S-rank Uchiha.

Shikaku mistakenly tries to protect his daughter, rearranging team assignments to give her a less hazardous placement. But high risk yields high rewards, and he doesn’t know he is playing against an opponent with even more influence than the Jounin Commander.

But for all his power it’s Danzo that makes the biggest mistake of all:

When he takes Shikako for ROOT, he pairs her with Sai.

///

(The Queen’s Silver General)

A war.

This is what her presence has wrought.

She thought she was helping or, at the very least keeping equilibrium, the mathematics of human lives.

Clearly not the case.

She has been preparing for a specific crisis, all of the villages against an elite twelve person organization. She hadn’t trained for a war in mind. The entire continent’s teeth and claws turned upon each other instead.

What can one sunny optimist do against politics and generations-long grudges? How can one bloodline heir stand up to armies?

The saga of Naruto and Sasuke had been a personal thing, intimate, a matter of individuals and differing beliefs.

They aren’t meant for war.

She needs a soldier, not a hero.

///

(Strong In The Real Way)

“I’m not a tourmaline,” Hematite says, factual but almost hesitant, as if he were internally considering the offer even while his mouth rejected the idea, “You should ask the captain.”

The native tourmaline–to differentiate from the tourmaline that is captain of their scouting team–gives a wry smile. “I know that, Hematite,” she says, and he’s grateful for that.

The human-amber fusion has taken to naming all of the gems. The captain and Morganite have both adopted theirs quickly enough, but he doesn’t understand what the function of it is. The native tourmaline, at least, as chosen to respect his reluctance.

“I already know what it’s like to be a tourmaline,” she continues, and reaches out her hand, “Don’t you wonder about being something–someone–else?”

It takes him a while to consider it, but the tourmaline–Shikako, if she respects his preference, then he should do the same–is patient.

He takes her hand; they dance, they converse, they fuse, they become–

Titanite stands tall and strong and powerful.

More than that: together, Titanite understands.

~

A/N: … sorry, I don’t know what that last one is about. But thanks for the prompt, anon.

Meaning of Titanite! I also considered Diopside, but that seemed more in line with a Shikako/Sasuke fusion?

Number + Ship + (optional) AU –> my ask box

[If anyone else wants to do a softer world prompt that isn’t on the list, you can just send the page id number for the original comic instead.]

(I hope it’s okay to prompt more than once!) TITLE: “All distance breathes a final dream of bells” (referencing a line of the e.e. cummings poem “all nearness pauses, while a star can grow”) STORY: Yoshino, Stars Also Dream AU where Obi-Wan dropped by after feeling Jashin, not Gelel.

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I see everyone is excited about the Land of Hot Springs arc 🙂

I’m putting these three together because I think separately they won’t be very long mostly because they’re AUs/remixes of fic and brainstorms I’ve already done previously. I don’t mean to brush off these prompts–I, too, am all a flutter about the world building SQ’s introduced (GODS! WTF? I’M SO HAPPY AND CONCERNED?!)–but I’m not certain enough to do a full outline of a fic in relation to this topic.

I mean, as an appeasement of sorts, here’s some… spoilers, I guess: I was actually planning on doing a Hail To The Queen installment “she who has divine right” before the Jashin bomb drop (pun not intended) in which each time the Shinigami appeared it ominously looked in the direction of Shikako. Waiting for her to ascend… sort of? And during the Gelel struggle Shinigami might have intervened a little?

But finding out that Shikako is considered a “little god” by Actual Literal Eldritch Horror Jashin kind of just blew that idea away (pun still not intended). Not in a bad way, but that installment is definitely on hold until I can develop more of a sense of how deities work and, as a result, how divine right would also work. Also there are still two more canonical instances of deities that SQ might use so…

ANYWAY! Let’s start with @donapoetrypassion’s prompt:

So in a Stars Also Dream!AU where the Millennium Falcon shows up after the Jashin / Shikako nuke… you know what, this is maybe at most a week after the events of Rogue One? Shikako’s nuke might be the more important thing than the Jashin peering into the tangible world (then again, that’s probably a really creepy sensation in the Force).

Um. Regardless. Whatever vestigial echoes Obi-Wan feels, Yoshino is feeling ON BLAST (pun still not intended) to an exponential degree. And this is definitely worse than the original Gelel eruption because that one was a huge burst of energy but that was positive life energy being returned to the planet (and imbued into her daughter). The nuke was the horrific ritual being co-opted into an explosion as tweaked by the Force/Gelel which probably, especially since it results in basically an entire country being destroyed, doesn’t equal positive energy.

Yoshino was worried about her children being involved in the Gelel eruption before. This time she knows without a doubt that Shikako was there pulling on the Force/Gelel in order to do something that resulted in a country destroyed.

Also, she just gave birth, and no doubt her maternal feelings are on overdrive.

This time, when Obi-Wan comes she is not interested in pursuing this thread from the past. She is not interested in tagging along on his mission to save the princess from the Empire. She has to stay here, has to watch out for her family, has to keep herself and her own safe.

She’s not actively keeping this a secret from Shikaku, but he is, you know, a little worried about the whole nuke and war with Cloud. So it’s still a T&I only project like as in canon SAD, but instead of Yoshino (and Santa-kun) going with Obi-Wan I think maybe… do one of the droids stay behind? No… Does Ibiki have any summon beside that weird jail cell? He must, right? Like some kind of monitoring thing… That as well as a missive from Tsunade’s desk inviting the Rebel Alliance to treat with Konoha.

So a post-Jashin AU of SAD would have Yoshino hands off as far as Episode IV goes. Which is bad news for Obi-Wan–he’s going to die just like in canon–and maybe a younger, less hardened Yoshino would feel bad about that. This AU would be a lot more political, I think, than action/adventure; a lot more fraught and bleak.

Regarding the other two prompts, anon(s?), since I’m not confident enough in my grasp of what deities are like in DoS I’d probably just end up with vague ideas not unlike this suggestion from @wildtabbykat and Stories of Ancient Gods  as well as the rambling Rise-of-the-Guardians-esque brainstorm.

Shikako growing into her godhood. Becoming a god through belief from other people. Outlasting most of the people she loves. etc. etc. but having a fondness for those humans descended from those she once knew.

At some point, when her immortality begins to grate on her (and how ironic that someone whose life involved so much dying is immortal) she probably talks to the Shinigami. At first to get it to kill her finally, but eventually as one does equals…

Yeah. Sorry I couldn’t fill these properly, but hopefully these rants are entertaining enough.

OHMYGOD THAT FIC OF SHIKAKO AS THE QUEEN OF THE LAND OF MOON THOUGH. holy shit. it’s so tragic, but damn, the possibilities! also i really wonder what team 7 (minus naruto)’s reactions were in kakashi’s apartment when they first knelt down before shikako and addressed her as queen. i seriously can’t see anyone being thrilled about an arranged marriage like this, and i imagine kakashi and sasuke (and just about everyone else really) were furious once they found out. i’d love to see more!

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Hahahaha, yeah, Hail To The Queen taken literally as a set up for figurative queen = Hokage. I had also considered a kind of convoluted Shikako somehow meets the Fire Daimyo’s bastard son at the Temple of Fire and accidentally inspires him to start his own coup and because he’s grateful to her he basically appoints her Hokage? But that was just… waaaaaaaaaaay out there. So no to that :/

I’m a little tempted to do a Sasuke POV for this iteration (definitely would be one-sided Sasuke/Shikako) but it’s a lot of pining and “if I had proposed to her, would that get her out of this?” kind of thing and the answer for all of that is no. Like, sure kid, just because you’re the last of a powerful bloodline and a Noble Clan doesn’t mean that’ll match up to the literal royal family of a canonically super wealthy country.

Those who actually know Shikako understand that this is basically one of the worst things for her. Because Queen is a lot of pageantry and responsibility and nowhere near as much power as the title seems. I mean, Land of the Moon literally backed up the minister usurping the previous king so there’s proof that royalty is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I do think, though, seeing as how Shikako literally took out Shabadaba’s coup after one day(? I think) single-handedly that the cabinet is, if not entirely replaced, then hugely cowed and listen to her orders via Michiru (which is a continuation of improving the people’s standard of living)… and also possibly that movie about the Tale of the Gutsy Ninja.

I do wonder how the other nations are reacting to this–mostly bewildered, let’s be honest, and outraged for Rock and Cloud. But I do think the Land of the Moon benefits from Shikako’s connections to the Land of Birds and Land of Snow–like… not many other random shinobi teenager come with international alliances with multiple other kingdoms? Shikako and Naruto are basically it? So Land of Moon pretty much lucked out with their new queen.

Hail To The Queen, 5/? (2017-01-05)

(five: she who marries the heir)

They come for her in the morning.

7:28 to be exact, the hospital clock tick-tick-ticking alongside the monitors beep-beep-beeping Kakashi’s proof of life.

She and Sasuke and Sakura are all but camped in his room, notes strewn with extra blankets, hair ribbons mixed with whetting stones and arm guards.

Except for missions and hospital rotations, quick trips home for showers and changes of clothes, the three of them–four of them, to Kakashi’s continued reluctance–can be found in his room.

It’s an ignoble setting, but that’s where it begins.

A royal messenger from the Land of the Moon with full retinue–including the familiar stoic face of Captain Korega–come for her in the morning.

“Shikako Nara?” they ask, finery and coiffed hair so different from her research frenzied muss.

She uncurls from her spot on Kakashi-sensei’s bed, getting slowly to her feet. Sakura, blinking sleepily in a visitor’s chair, sits up; Sasuke, leaning against the wall, straightens out and readies his stance.

“Yes?” she says, before spotting Shizune beyond the cloud of silk and embroidery. Shizune nods, and so Shikako repeats more firmly, “Yes.”

The contingent exchange glances amongst themselves before, in unison, kneeling and bowing–bright flower petals falling to the ground.

She takes a step back, confused. Unnerved.

The leader looks up, meets her eyes, and intones,

“Long live Queen Shikako, first of her name, sovereign of Land of the Moon!”

A scant hour later, barely an eye blink, she finds the nightmare has relocated.

Shikako can hardly count the number of times she’s been in the Akimichi clan compound’s ceremonial hall, but it’s only ever been in two contexts: as her father’s daughter, or as Chouji’s friend.

The reason this time around is distinctly neither of those.

Chouza puts a hand on her shoulder, huge and warm and gentle even through the layers of borrowed kimono her mum hastily stuffed her into. It’s a welcome gesture of comfort in such an awful situation; Shikako tries to smile at him even though it’s the last thing she feels like doing.

The ceremonial hall can reliably contain dozens of Akimichi, Nara, and Yamanaka. Birthdays and receptions and memorials, the hall full to bursting; the parties spilling out to the courtyard where huge tables of food are spread. Music and laughter and chatter, children playing and elders gossiping. Noise and bodies and family coming together.

This is the exact opposite.

Silence ringing loud and the vast hall, strained and tense. Including the contingent from the Land of Moon, they are less than fifteen total. The royal messenger and his retinue, the Hokage and the three council members, Chouza and herself.

She feels her age keenly, borrowed finery weighing down on her heavily. Crushed beneath layers of silk and the realization that she has very little say in any of this.

And she’s supposed to be queen?

What a joke.

Technically, technically, technically. Everything comes down to technicalities.

Technically, Land of the Moon was in the middle of a revolution when she and her team stumbled into the mess.

Technically, King Kakeru had been overthrown–had been murdered–had lost sovereignty.

Technically, the monarchy follows the Tsuki bloodline.

Technically, Prince Michiru–and his son Hikaru–had abdicated by fleeing the castle.

Technically, Shabadaba–as minister and nearest kin to the Tsuki family–had inherited the title of king.

Technically, she had waged a one woman coup against Shabadaba.

Technically, she had won.

Technically, she had only turned over Shabadaba’s judgement and castle security to Prince Michiru and Captain Korega respectively.

Technically, she is queen.

And yet, the monarchy follows the Tsuki bloodline.

Her dad had rejected an arranged marriage to be with her mum. Had defied his elders, had given up leadership of the Nara clan to do so.

That was his prerogative, as man and heir both, to sacrifice his clan membership for the future he wanted.

Of course, events transpired such that he could have both, but still. That was his decision. He had a decision.

But clan matters are one thing. International relations are another:

Not even Chouza’s fierce support can match the will of the Konoha Council. No loyal Konoha shinobi can disobey an order from the Hokage. The contingent from the Land of the Moon do not even understand what it is that’s being argued.

There is no choice for her to make when there is only one option offered.

The farce of a negotiation ends.

The royal messenger and his retinue leave, returning to their lavish rooms in Konoha’s finest inn. Trailing at the end, Captain Korega had drawn near, murmured a quiet, gruff apology and, perhaps, at a later time she would appreciate it.

The Council had tried to speak to her, lecture her on the political opportunity available to her, but Chouza had waved them away, voice near to a growl. She has lost a battle on his turf, he will not let the scavengers pick at her bones.

Tsunade, last to leave, stands in front of her kneeling form, Hokage robes and hat ominous. She is silent for a moment, eyes sharp and searching, before nodding once at Chouza and exiting.

Even as Chouza draws close–protection and stand-in comfort until her parents can come–Shikako can feel a pang of betrayal. She thought Tsunade would be on her side. Would fight for her freedom. She knows she isn’t Naruto, darling and dear, but some arrogant part of her had assumed that she was worth a measure of special treatment as well.

But Tsunade is a good Hokage, a good leader, and Shikako is just one of her many soldiers.

No loyal Konoha shinobi can disobey an order from the Hokage.

Engagement party is a bit of a misnomer even if it is, technically, correct.

Her family weren’t the only ones waiting for the verdict.

Somber and silent and far too stilted, but the Akimichi clan are quick on their feet for this, and soon enough food is prepared for the gathering of her family and friends.

It might as well be a wake.

“Queen Shikako,” Ino says, teasing smile about a third as bright as it might be in any other context, “at least it’s not princess.”

Sakura, romanticism tempered by social acuity, nods with a shaky attempt at a smile herself.

Together with their help, Shikako is able to wriggle out of several layers of borrowed kimono. Mum was going to do it properly, but she had taken one look at Shikako’s face, hugged her tight, and stomped off to where Dad and Chouza and Inoichi were conferring.

Less encumbered, Shikako returns to the main hall where so many people turn and stare at her entrance.

This is hell.

For a widening, maddening moment, she can see this as her future: endless silks and constant stares and the crawling, impending feeling of being trapped.

Then her stomach growls, and if it didn’t break the tension so easily, she’d die of embarrassment.

“A hungry stomach at an Akimichi party?” Chouji calls out, diverting attention away from her. He’s standing by her brother, not too far from their dads, and she wonders how much of it they know.

“We can’t have that,” he finishes, prompting everyone to move around. Free food is enticing to any hardworking shinobi, but free Akimichi food is like winning the lottery, and she sighs in relief. She’d play second chair to food any day.

A plate is assembled for her, both not enough and far too much for her hungry, nauseated stomach.

It feels like a last meal, lavish and resigned.

Technically, she is queen.

And yet, the monarchy follows the Tsuki bloodline.

To resolve this dilemma, the cabinet of the Land of the Moon proposed an engagement.

Hikaru is the last of the Tsuki line, royal in blood if no longer, technically, by law. If she were to marry him, then that would reunite the halves, and their future child would be once more monarch in full.

She is lucky he is only a child, and that their’s will be a long engagement. With the engagement confirmed, Prince Michiru… Lord Michiru… as her future father-in-law can rule as king regent in her stead leaving her free to continue her career as a shinobi.

Until Hikaru comes of age.

It’s a neat solution for an untenable political problem, and she’d probably admire the efficiency if it weren’t about her.

As is, all she can see is the countdown looming in front of her, an additional set of tracks beyond her already railroaded life and hey, there’s a thought:

Maybe she won’t have to deal with any of this because the entire world will be too busy being caught in a massive genjutsu by a megalomaniac to care about one measly little kingdom.

She sighs, gustily, and someone helpfully refills her sake cup.

Shikamaru eyes it, glares at whoever poured it for her, but stays silent as she takes a swig.

It’s her engagement party and apparently she’s queen: she can do whatever she wants.

She has no idea how so many people have today off or aren’t away on missions, but with all of them around she can barely hear herself think. And, regardless of the reason why, she does appreciate having her friends and family around.

Shizune shows up a few hours into the party which has gone from awkward to giddily, desperately drunk. Or maybe that’s just her.

It makes playing Shinobi’s Rest difficult, but she’s actually doing pretty well. She’d suspect everyone was going easy on her except her friends are far too competitive to do that, and she’s not the only one who has been drinking.

With the alcohol and noise, she almost doesn’t catch Shizune’s arrival. If it weren’t for the determined stride directly to where the dad version of Ino-Shika-Cho, Shikako might have just dismissed it as Shizune coming late to the impromptu party.

But she comes bearing a scroll and, after handing it over, doesn’t leave despite the tempting array of food and drinks or the fact that Shizune is too busy and skilled for a mere delivery.

The dads look over the scroll, confer with each other once more, glancing her way every so often and now Shikako is more than just curious.

Wobbly, she gets to her feet, laughing and grateful for the help. “No, no, keep playing,” she says, waving them off, but Sasuke stands up to follow her and, spotting their trajectory, so does her brother.

Dad accepts her sideways hug and understands it for what it is, shifting so that she can see what is on the scroll, too. Shikamaru, less one for plausible deniability, just leans heavily onto Dad and looks over his shoulder. Sasuke, not exactly keen on cuddling, stands off to the side.

A missive from the Hokage’s desk, burn after reading.

No loyal Konoha shinobi can disobey an order from the Hokage.

Spoken or written.

By law, the Hokage and the Daimyo are separate entities–it’s why the Twelve Guardian Ninja exist, after all, to prevent conflict of interest. Too much power for a single person to hold.

Shikako has less than a decade to fulfill these orders, but if she can succeed…

It will be trading one throne for another–a crown for a hat, a kingdom for a village–but at least she’ll have a choice.

~

A/N: Hrm… For this anon from many months ago who wanted Shikako as temporary daimyo for a foreign country and @jay345sal28 who asked about Shikako becoming Hokage after the Moon Country arc, and I was unable to meet either of those requests as they wanted but this is all I could come up with so…

I wanted to play around more with the political ramifications of the Moon Country arc and ended up basically writing about Shikako’s deep-seated dislike of arranged marriage instead? :/

Also, since SQ posted Chapter 124 as I was writing this, I suppose the first bit is kind of… outdated.

(Also, which characters do I even tag for this, wth self?)

Hail To The (Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly Cosmic) Queen, 4/? (2016-08-24)

(four: she who makes the crown)

She smiles. “It’s called Konohagakure,” she says, shifting her arms to show off the metal plate sewn onto her sleeve, a leaf engraved in its center.

His brother’s dream comes true…

Apparently, Tobirama has work to do.

He doesn’t do it alone.

It’s a different world, this time period (she would know, after all.) There’s a sense of division that she’s unused to. Konoha as she’s grown up in has always encouraged teamwork: the many and diverse banding together to make a stronger force.

She explains it to Tobirama who doesn’t look so much scornful as he does honestly baffled. Subtly, of course–he’s not one for overactive facial expressions–but she is Shikamaru’s sister, was on a team with Sasuke and Kakashi-sensei. She’s a lot better at reading emotions than she used to be.

The Akimichi-Nara-Yamanaka alliance, though, has always been older than Konoha and this at least Tobirama understands. Can see why a Nara girl would feel a certain way about complementary skills building up to a greater whole.

But it’s one thing to see centuries of servitude turned fealty turned alliance, it’s another for clans actively at war to put down their weapons and live together in peace.

One day, she promises him, one day it will happen. After all, she’s living proof of it.

Shikako never does meet Hashirama–an active decision on her part. The dance between him and Madara not something she wants to interrupt (corrupt).

But she does meet Mito–and that’s a lot more fun, she thinks. Maybe it’s an Uzumaki trait, or maybe it’s just coincidence, but Mito is friendly, gregarious, and ridiculously powerful.

She also admires Shikako’s tattoos the same way Ino would particularly beautiful kimono.

“And this one?” Mito asks, a finger tracing down Shikako’s arm. Tobirama has been listening with exasperation to Mito’s squeals of delight–as if he hadn’t been equally curious about her seals when they first met, too.

“Resistance seals,” Shikako answers, pulling her sleeves up higher to show the rest of the sequence, “Better than weights and easier to use.”

Mito nods, analyzing the arrangement eagerly, and Shikako smiles when Tobirama gets drawn into the discussion.

There’s something about them. They may not be Hashirama and Madara (Naruto and Sasuke) but they are heroes in their own right.

Team Tobirama is, frankly, bizarre for her to interact with. Mostly because she actually remembers meeting most of them when they’re well into their years. The Hokage, Konoha Councilors; even Torifu she met before at Chouji’s birthday parties–a well-liked Akimichi elder with a tolerant fondness for quiet Nara children.

These kids her age are nothing like the septuagenarians she remembers.

Especially not Danzo who looks nothing like the bitter sociopath Shikako knows he will become.

There are some things she tells Tobirama–she’ll give him clues about jutsu and techniques, show him a completed Sword of the Thunder God, even offer tidbits about her friends and their village–but even more she keeps secret. This is one of those things.

But she makes sure to guide him in the right direction. The right successor.

Tobirama gets to live to see his grand-niece, a loud and happy girl who the village calls princess.

Shikako tries not to laugh.

Being intimidated by the Godaime Hokage Tsunade-sama–one of the Sannin, legendary shinobi, miraculous healer–is one thing. Being intimidated by Tsuna-chan who loves candy and playing games is another.

She tries to keep the two separate in her head, honestly, but it’s hard when little Tsuna-chan is especially fond of extracting sweets out her grand-uncle’s team by any means necessary. As ruthless and imperious as the woman Shikako knows will rule the village well.

Until then, she makes sure to keep a stock of Tsuna-chan’s favorite candy in Hammerspace–maybe Tsunade-sama won’t remember this, but better safe than sorry.

Tobirama’s life plays before her in fits and bursts, like a glitchy recording playing only parts of a song. She appears sometimes, but not always, remains the same age during each summoning as if no time passes for her at all.

But that’s not true.

It’s been a long time since she’s been home–her Konoha with her people.

The villagers of now are growing suspicious and it doesn’t matter that the ones closest to her are highest up in the hierarchy of Konoha–or perhaps that makes it worse.

She is only ever seen around the Nidaime Hokage or his heirs apparent. How long has she been manipulating the heart of the village? How long has she been pulling the strings?

A seemingly immortal girl who the Nara do not know, who has made changes to a destiny they will never even see.

“Don’t mind them,” Tobirama says once, a large hand landing gently on her shoulder for the briefest of moments. She remembers when he first summoned her–he had been shorter than her, smaller and younger–still as reluctant to initiate physical contact. “You have done more for this village than any of them, and one day they will know it.”

She doesn’t scoff, doesn’t pull away, but she doesn’t quite believe him either.

This is a different world, after all, and it’s been a long time since she’s been home.

Tobirama does not die fighting Cloud nin, but all men must die eventually.

As he breathes his last breath, she tells him one last time, “You always were my favorite Hokage.”

He smiles, and she smiles back. He closes his eyes, she closes hers.

Neither of them see the next day’s sunrise.

Shikako opens her eyes to an unimpressed Senju Hokage and tries not to laugh, images of Tsuna-chan warring with Tsunade-sama.

“I can no longer be bribed with candy,” the Godaime Hokage says, almost solemnly.

Shikako fails, laughs, and gives herself a coughing fit. If there are tears, well, that’s perfectly understandable.

“You’ve been missed, Shikako-nee,” says the little girl who trailed after Team Tobirama. A brief and gentle pat to the shoulder, before she leaves, letting the other medics handle the ICU’s most frequent patient.

Visitors are allowed in not long after, her friends and family–her Konoha with her people. For all that she’s been missing home, when the room empties, she finds herself thinking of that different world she left behind. Like Dorothy coming back to Kansas, dreaming of technicolor Oz.

One day they will know, Tobirama had said, had promised.

It’ll be decades before she understands what he meant, looking out at the village they helped build together while his grand-niece gives her the Hokage’s hat.

~

A/N: I probably didn’t convey quite the feelings I wanted to, but I hope it’s still enjoyable. A bit of a mini-crossover: a Hail To The Queen installment in the Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly Cosmic universe.

I still don’t quite know what’s going on, actually, or why Shikako’s stuck but I thought it’d be interesting if Tobirama sort of gives her a gift decades into the future. And by gift, I mean names her successor to the hat.

The Queen’s Guard (2016-08-02)

A/N: completed version of this post

~

Here’s the thing about being a member of the Hokage’s Guard: you are no longer a shinobi.

Or, rather, you are no longer just a shinobi.

It’s different than being ANBU–a little less, a little more. You are still yourself, but yourself has changed. Rather than getting hidden behind masks and callsigns, the Hokage’s Guard have faces and names that are out in the open yet overshadowed by their charge.

The Hokage’s Guard are chosen for a specific reason, because the Hokage’s Guard will never be more than that. They are the ones who survive, but don’t thrive. They are the ones who are steady and reliable, not flashy or impossible.

They are bodyguards to someone stronger than themselves and that means they were never meant for legends. Only footnotes if they get written in at all.

It’s not a bad role to have, necessarily. Not the most glamorous, but not all shinobi are made for that kind of life. And there is honor in being the Hokage’s last line of defense.

So long as your Hokage doesn’t die before you, that is.

This generation has a lot riding on them; a lot of expectations to live up to, a lot of sins and debt just waiting to be collected.

It’s not their fault, but that’s just how life is.

“We can’t do it,” Raido says, scarred face made grimmer with a furrowed brow. Beside him, Genma’s mouth is a flat line around his senbon. Iwashi, too, is a silent show of long-seated wounds.

It’s not often that shinobi–regular, non-elite jounin shinobi, that is–will refuse the Hokage. But this is a special case, and it helps that the Sandaime is only asking, not ordering.

Hiruzen sighs, less out of frustration and more out of grief.

“It wasn’t your fault, any of you,” he says, though it’s something he’s repeated many times before, “You did what you could–”

“Not everything,” Iwashi murmurs, interrupting just like usual–another thing that these three are given leeway with, “we’re still alive.”

Hiruzen sighs once more.

“Gai would be a good choice,” Genma suggests, sidestepping the drama and getting to the heart of the matter. A quality that makes–made–him a good choice for the Hokage’s Guard, “He’ll teach them well. They won’t–” fail, he doesn’t say; reconsiders, says instead, “–I trust him.”

The other two members of the disbanded Yondaime’s Guard nod in agreement, before they all leave at Hiruzen’s dismissal.

He has done poorly by those three, blinded by his own mourning and the sudden reclamation of a burden he’d thought passed on for good.

But the next Hokage’s Guard will be better–better trained, better treated, better prepared–they will be slated for this duty from the beginning of their shinobi careers and they will know, each step of the way, what kind of person their Hokage is.

Hiruzen isn’t sure who exactly their Hokage will be quite yet–though he has hopes for one in particular–but he knows it will be someone in next year’s graduating class.

For now, he’ll do his best to make the team from this year’s graduating class an unstoppable Hokage’s Guard.

The Godaime is still a little uncomfortable in her new position.

But that’s okay, so are her Guards.

After all, while the Sandaime might have prepared for the eventuality of succession, he didn’t plan for this exact scenario. Or for it to happen so soon–the Hokage and her Guards all barely teenagers.

But maybe it’s better this way, for the Guards to grow around their Hokage. To watch her become the legend she will one day be remembered for, to walk with her every step of the way. To know their Hokage not as a hero, but as a peer and a friend; a precious person to protect.

A nice thought, perhaps, but nice thoughts won’t protect the Hokage from assassination attempts. Of which there will, no doubt, be many.

Konoha has weathered the invasion well, has regrouped it’s strongest shinobi together, and lanced a corrupt organization from their core. They are by no means vulnerable, but they’ve also put a giant target on an untested child.

The Sandaime had become Hokage as a youth as well, be had been through war. Had shown all of the Elemental Nations his strength, had earned the hat undeniably.

The Godaime is not there yet, and neither are her Guards.

The Yondaime’s Guard might have to come out of retirement.

Despite Kakashi’s completely unsubtle preference, he cannot actually follow his student around for the rest of their lives as the most lethal guard dog ever.

Heh.

Jokes aside, Konoha cannot afford to have one of it’s strongest and most famous shinobi stuck in the village essentially babysitting the Hokage in her stronghold.

The same applies to Gai.

The truth of the matter is, it doesn’t really matter that his team isn’t yet chuunin–poor match ups and attitudes on their parts, anyway–it’s time for him to let them go. He knew from the beginning what he was training them for and it’s time for them to step up and for him to step back.

“Believe in them,” Genma says, looking unperturbed in the face of Gai and mini-Gai’s tears. That’s what being on a genin team with Maito Gai does to a person, “Believe in yourself, you’ve taught them well.”

Which begins a whole new bout of crying. But at least it’s more of the heartfelt kind rather than heartbreak.

Raido and Iwashi glance awkwardly at the remaining two genin, both of them thankfully not wailing and clinging to their sensei. Youthfully.

“You get used to it,” TenTen shrugs, almost eerily similar to Genma, no doubt having grown her own Gai and Lee-proof ways of coping. Neji scoffs but doesn’t disagree.

Iwashi turns to Genma, “You’re getting the mini-Gai.”

It’s not so much teaching or training as it is advising. None of the Yondaime’s Guard have Byakugan, and it’s safe to say that Lee is could probably kick all of their asses in taijutsu. And, given that TenTen survived being on a team with Gai and his mini-me, there’s no telling what kind of horrors she’s been put through for the past year and a half.

So mostly, it’s just advice. Passing on the baton, in a way. Just some veterans giving their successors some pointers. Ushering in the new generation, so to speak.

“I need to be drunk, like, five hours ago,” Raido moans, settling into the bar stool and immediately dropping his head in the curve of his arms.

Iwashi, already seated with his hands pressed to his temples, just grunts in acknowledgement.

“That bad?” Genma asks, smirk curling around his senbon.

“It’s my own damn fault,” Raido says, only looking up when the soft tap of a cup on the bar signals incoming alcohol, “I mentioned the Hiraishin and she just kept asking questions about it and–” he shudders, “Definitely Gai’s student.”

“And the Hyuuga?” Genma prompts Iwashi, who just sighs and downs the remains of his drink in response. Genma chuckles.

Raido eyes him, confused and possibly a little jealous, “How come you’re not all–” gesturing abstractly to his head, then at Iwashi.

“Lee’s a good kid,” he says, vague and unhelpful, “Gai did well…” he pauses, considers, gets to the heart of the matter. “They’ll be great.”

Iwashi waves the bartender for refills and raises his glass for a toast. “To the Hokage’s Guard,” he says, rueful smile on his face.

It’s not teaching or training or advice, not really. It’s closure, is what it is.

And maybe just a little bit redemption.

Raido and Genma mimic him, drinks and rueful smiles all.

“To the Hokage’s Guard.”

~

A/N: Okay so here’s the completed version, by which I mean I tried to continue it but I had no idea it would go in this direction and then I was just like… well, okay then. This has very little Shikako and Team Gai in it even though, given the title, it ought to be about them.

I dunno, I’ll post it to ao3 later, I guess…