Gambling Away The Past 4/? (2016-03-13)

Being on Team Kakashi–this strange past version of it–is not so different from being on the Team Kakashi Shikako grew up with. Team Sevens are almost always structured the same way, heavy hitters with big personalities and the same formula of rivalries and friendship somehow interlocking into a functional unit.

And yet, oddly, it’s the similarities that make Shikako so keenly aware that this team is not her team. Or rather, the way the similarities make the differences stand out all the more. This Kakashi, young and angry and not eroded away by time and loss–or at least, not as much loss as her Kakashi–is like looking at the sketch of a familiar picture. The lines forming a recognizable shape, but still rough and colorless and liable to change.

Obito, like Naruto, burns in her chakra sense; bright and all-encompassing. But where Naruto was the sun, Obito is a volcano. Smaller yes, but somehow more dangerous. A natural disaster waiting to happen rather than the constant, reliable warmth of sunshine. Apt, considering what his future could have been, had Shikako not interfered.

What’s most fascinating–and unexpected–is Rin. Unsurprisingly, Shikako does not know much about Rin Nohara, not from either life. It’s shameful to think about in these terms, but the truth is: Rin had only existed as a part of Kakashi’s story, and not even a significant part–so tangential to main plot and tucked away in the corners of Kakashi’s mind with all of the other traumatic losses he suffered.

But meeting Rin in person is so interesting. Shikako’s only met a few people with naturally dual chakra natures–Tenzo and Mei Terumi among them–and it’s always interesting to her senses, but that’s not what is most interesting about her. Strangely, Rin reminds her not of Sakura or Shikako herself–but of Sasuke. Honed like a blade, her chosen role as a healer held above all other desires, and so damned loyal to her teammates.

Shikako is honored to be part of this Team Kakashi, even if it is not the Team Kakashi she grew up with. She is certain she will grow to love them as much as she does her own.

And anyway, Shikako has already changed the timeline, there is no harm in changing it further. If she can alter one life, surely she can save another and prevent the heartbreak of the third.

It is during Team Kakashi’s eighth mission that Shikako tries and fails to summon Heijomaru and nearly gets stabbed through chest for it. Been there, done that, she’d rather not have an encore.

Luckily, Obito takes the time out of his own fight to send a fireball to distract her enemy and she takes the opening to recover herself.

At the end of it, with Rin patching up their injuries with a stern face, Kakashi turns to her and asks, “What happened?”

Not out of concern, but the way one shinobi asks another for a report. Shikako is still not used to this Kakashi, the one who will have to learn about teammates and friendships the slower, easier way. If she were younger and softer she might have flinched at his tone, but she has not been that girl for a long time–that girl may very well never come to be.

“I tried a technique,” Shikako says simply, flatly, because two can play at this game, “It didn’t work.”

“You tried to summon something,” Kakashi corrects, because of course a fellow summoner would recognize the action.

“Yes,” she agrees, because there is no reason not to, “And it didn’t work,” she repeats pointedly, dismissive.

Kakashi ignores the cue to drop the matter and instead says, “We can’t have that kind of liability out in the field.”

Shikako, fed up with this harsh Kakashi and the stress of war and the knowledge that all she has ever known has been taken from her again, is less than pleased, “I won’t try to use it again!” she snaps, and doesn’t feel the slightest bit guilty at the way Obito’s eyes widen with surprise, or the way Rin stills completely.

But it’s what little of Kakashi’s expression she can read that makes her pause–the narrowing in his eyes that she recognizes from her own sensei–a point made and an argument won. Shikako realizes then that the lack of summoning might not be the only liability he was talking about. Her irritation recedes.

“We’ll head back to base camp for now,” Kakashi decides, “Ikoma-san will want to know what we’ve found,” he says, and that’s like Shikako’s Kakashi, too. A kindness hidden behind monotone and apathy–Shikako is a stranger amongst them, still, she may find comfort in her family.

It is well meant; it’s not his fault he doesn’t know that Ikoma is more of a stranger to her than Kakashi.

They report immediately to Ikoma–Team Seven luck remaining strong even backwards through the years as they explain how their scouting mission turned into a battle because of a stray combination Iwa-Kumo team–before Rin excuses herself to join the medical tent and the boys likewise leave to offer their services to the camp.

Leaving Shikako with the uncle that died before she was born.

They are Nara, far used to more subtle manipulations, and so their efforts are deemed obvious but charming for it. Between them they share an amused smile, a raised brow, and the smallest laugh–a fleeting moment of levity during war.

Ikoma waits for her to speak first, so much like Shikako’s father that she doesn’t feel the awkwardness she expected.

“I tried to summon Heijomaru,” she says, before hesitating, unsure if her uncle knows the deer summons by name.

But he is clan heir, now, and Ikoma laughs, “Sembei-obaasan let you sign the scroll?” Before he, too, hesitates, “Unless it wasn’t Sembei-obaasan… is she still alive when…” unready or perhaps unwilling to verbally acknowledge that Shikako is from the future–a future–though she knows he knows.

They stand in silence.

“I’m pretty sure she’s older than Konoha itself,” Shikako tries, which brings the smile back to both of their faces.

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” Ikoma nods, considering, “She’s not a field shinobi anymore, but given the tactical advantages of our clan’s summons she may have been deployed to one of the other base camps. I can send a request in, see if she can be sent here. If not, then have your team sent to wherever she is,” he says, in the recognizable tones of a Nara planning.

“Oh, that’s…” generous, kind, unnecessary, she doesn’t say.

“You’re family,” Ikoma says, argument against all three, efficient with his words in a way so familiar to her.

Because they are family, even if they are strangers to each other; he’d never send out troops hampered, he’s not going to do so to family.

And Shikako knows that it’s war and she can’t promise to save him, but she’s going to try.

~

A/N: 😀 …. or… O_O

I still have no idea what I’m doing with this series.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~

A/N: So, here’s more of this…

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

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

Anyway, thanks for the prompt!

Gambling Away The Past 2/? (2015-12-17)

The Yellow Flash really is as amazing in person as all the storybooks say he is. It’s also bewildering to Shikako that anyone who has ever seen him wouldn’t automatically blurt out “you look just like your father” when meeting Naruto; but that is a thought for later.

At least three years later, because, apparently, she has somehow ended up in the middle of the Third Shinobi World War.

The good news is, she has been accepted as an ally and a possibly misplaced Konoha ninja. Which is, technically, true. Just in the temporal sense, not geographical.

The bad news is, Team Minato has to report back to a field base–they did end up completing their mission, after all–and Shikako will be expected to explain herself. Which… she kind of can’t. All of her clearance codes are over a decade out of date–in the wrong direction at that–and she’s still not quite over the fact that she may have probably destroyed her timeline by interfering.

It’s weird, seeing a young Obito Uchiha and not feeling that wave of revulsion and hatred she did when she saw Kabuto. There is no visceral desire to kill him even though, in this case, she could probably do it. There is just a strange lack of anything; it might be shock.

She saved his life–saved his future at the cost of her past–and now he is a blank slate.

Well, not as much of a blank slate as she is right now.

“A Nara, eh?” says Minato-san (and she struggles not to make that a sama instead, because this is the legendary Yellow Flash, future Yondaime Hokage).

Shikako just nods, reaching across her chest to clutch at her clan’s symbol on her upper arm. She doesn’t have her brother or her father’s typical Nara looks–having enough of her mother to offset those genes–but she is a Nara. She is proud of her heritage: after all, she is the clan head’s daughter and the sister of the future clan head.

Or… she will be? Verb tenses are difficult when dealing with time travel.

“That’s convenient,” Minato-san continues with a mild smile that could be honestly pleased or could just as easily be hiding a complete lack of trust in her identity, “Ikoma-san is in charge of the base. I’m sure he will be relieved to see a lost clan member.”

Here are three things she knows about Ikoma Nara:

1) He is her father’s younger brother.

2) She was given his earrings when she became a genin.

3) He died during the Third Shinobi World War.

None of this actually helps her presently… past-ly… right now.

Again, Shikako is struck with a distinct lack of emotion. It’s helpful, in a way, since it prevents her from doing anything strange, but it’s also a little uncomfortable. Shouldn’t she feel something–anything–when meeting her uncle for the first time? She wore his earrings for a year, surely she can summon something like affection.

Instead she stares blankly ahead and can only be relieved that she passed those earrings on to Sasuke.

Ikoma-san (does she call him ji-san? That’d be weird, he’s only a few years older than her. And also, she doesn’t exist yet) looks at her ears, too, “Chuunin?” he asks, instead of getting her name.

“Special Jounin,” she corrects, then nearly bites her tongue. A surplus chuunin Nara wouldn’t be too out of place, but a special jounin? They’re not exactly a clan full of over-achievers.

“Ah,” he says mildly, and she cannot even. How is she supposed to react to all these mild-mannered expressions?

Just to get it over with, she says “My name is Shikako.” She can’t exactly tell the truth–frankly, she’s still not sure what the truth is–but she’s not going to lie.

“A Nara with a Shika name,” Ikoma-san muses, and she knows what he’s getting at, even if Team Minato–waiting impatiently behind her–doesn’t. Only certain members of the Nara clan are allowed to have names with Shika in it, and as far as he knows? She isn’t one of them.

~

A/N: Erm… is this a cliffhanger? I dunno.

Ikoma Nara, aka Shikaku’s DoS little brother, is mentioned pretty early on in Dreaming of Sunshine, but more recently in Chapter 17 of Sunshine Sidestories

edit: small edit–changed the “same age” part because that wouldn’t really make much sense especially since the whole point of this is so that Shikako is the same age as Kakashi