Four of a Kind
(The Ino-Shika-Cho is a good combination, but it’s never good to let genin teams become predictable–it makes them vulnerable to enemy action, and considering who makes up the roster of this year’s new genin? Vulnerability is to be avoided at all cost.
The idea behind the trio is still sound, shouldn’t be abandoned completely, and so the Hokage and Academy teachers build the new teams with that in mind.
It’s not their fault that it completely throws off a good chunk of her foreknowledge.)
“This is…” Shikako says, words drifting off to look at her two teammates.
“Uh, sensei?” Ino picks up, immediately “I think you’ve gotten it wrong–it’s Ino-Shika-Cho, not Ino-Shika-Inu.”
Akamaru barks, Kiba does too. “What you’ve got a problem with dogs?” Smirk easily changeable into baring of teeth.
“Only the ones that haven’t bathed in three days,” Ino says, sharp smile of her own, “Aren’t you supposed to have a good sense of smell?”
Shikako cuts in, brings the tension down but adds to the teasing as well. “Not all of us can smell like a flower shop all the time, Ino.”
(With a steady jounin sensei and normal missions, they would have become strong, solid shinobi in a few years.
With Anko as their sensei, in a matter of months they become the first genin team with the bingo book orders Flee On Sight)
Full House [of Queens]
“They didn’t even try for subtle, did they?” Shikako asks Kurenai-sensei, mouth an opposite slant to her raised eyebrow.
Her jounin sensei shrugs, “You could argue that’s what this entire team is for–given the tenets of kunoichi and all that.”
“Don’t you think this will be fun, Shikako?” Sakura asks, stars in her eyes–the disappointment at not being on the same team as Sasuke quickly passing at the excitement of being on a team with her two best friends.
“And anyway,” Ino adds, “Who needs a bunch of boys messing up our missions?”
(Despite the tenets of kunoichi, their team does not maintain subtlety for too long. Oh, their missions succeed, no doubt about that, and they’re never actually caught; but rumors of a group of girls capable of slipping in unnoticed and completely destroying any opposition spreads.
They become known as the Three Beauties of Konoha, though mostly, all enemies can remember about them is the color of their hair and the scent of fresh flowers)
“Someone asked me to punch them today,” Sakura says to her teammates, bemused.
Although the three of them have long since been promoted from genin, they tend to team up with each other regardless. Why mess with success?
“Oh, yeah?” Shikako adds absentmindedly, writing in one of her eternally present journals even as Ino begins to pull it away, “Me, too, a couple of days ago.”
“Did you?” Sakura asks, watching in amusement as Ino and Shikako begin playing tug of war with the journal.
“Yeah, he wouldn’t leave me alone until I did and by that point he was being so annoying it was a relief to do it.”
“I made mine pay for it,” Ino says, to which both of her teammates look up at her smug face in confusion. Pulling the journal from Shikako’s slack hands is easy; her expression only becomes more pleased. “He clearly wanted it for some reason, and why do something for free when you can get paid for it?”
“And?” Sakura prompts, while Shikako bemoans her lack of initiative.
“It bought me a new dress,” Ino brags. And because she’s always a well of information, she explains to her teammates. “Apparently there’s some kind of superstition going around that if someone gets punched by all three of us they get good luck.”
(She pulls back too late. The teachers have already spotted her talent; genius, prodigy, legend-in-the-making they murmur to each other. She gets accelerated, graduates among students several years older than herself.
When her genin team is called, she swallows down bile.)
“Shikako-chan,” Kabuto says, mild smile on his face. All of his smiles are mild, she wants to punch him in the face.
“Yes?” She chirps back, slipping into her role of over-eager kouhai. She’ll admit he knows an awful lot of tricks that’ll be useful in the future.
Let him think he’s converting the Jounin Commander’s daughter, she’ll feed him lies and bleed him dry.
“You’re always so curious,” he says, ever so patronizing, “it’s a good thing to have in a student.”
“Well, you’re a good teacher,” she says back–always flattering, always sweet–she needs to appear as a book smart genius, not an actual threat.
“It’s not so much a virtue when it comes to espionage,” Kabuto amends, voice still pleasant but suddenly sharp and deadly.
She can feel the blood freeze in her veins. Literally.
“W-what are you talking about, Kabuto-senpai?” she chokes out through the clawing in her throat, her rapidly stiffening lungs.
“Don’t worry,” he says as her vision goes blurry, then dark, “It’s time for you to get a real teacher.”
(When she wakes up, she’s almost relieved to see Orochimaru’s face.
Better him than Danzo, she thinks even as the abomination of mutated natural chakra burns through her. The Curse Seal.
Kabuto won’t need to convert her if a piece of Orochimaru is literally looking over her shoulder.)
The night of graduation, Shikako faints while walking up the stairs.
It’s also the first time the Kyuubi’s malevolent chakra has been felt in over a decade.
The two events are not unrelated.
Needless to say, Shikaku will not be having his daughter on the same team as someone whose chakra can render her unconscious. He knows the Academy teachers think he is just pulling rank, getting his child off a team with That Monster, but Shikaku’s always been more practical than that: it’d be like having someone allergic to dogs on the same team as an Inuzuka, illogical and troublesome.
And anyway, he remembers Kushina and Mito-sama before that, neither of them were monsters. How could their legacy ever be one?
(Shikako looks at her teammates and feels nothing but conflicted, guilty relief.
A part of her had wanted to be on a more integral team, to better alter the course of future events. But another part of her had always been afraid of taking on such a daunting task.
Better to be on a team with these two–childhood bullies though they may be–than, god forbid, Naruto and Sasuke. She’d constantly be in the crossfire of powerhouses, pushed further and further to a breaking point that she doesn’t know where it will lead.
Jiro and Youbirin are blank slates as far as she’s concerned. She doesn’t need to worry about them, doesn’t need to watch over their destinies. They could die for all she knows, and plotwise it’d still lead to a good ending.)
“Fuck!” She shouts, turning to her fallen teammate who has crumpled to the forest floor. Youbirin gives a bloody cough in response, hands shakily going for the sword through his chest. “Jiro get over here!”
“I’m a little busy!” He shouts back, sending a bolt of lightning towards his opponent before retreating. They’re fighting Rock nin, with an Earth Pillar it becomes useless.
“I can’t heal this on my own,” Shikako says, hands futilely glowing green anyway. “Why would you do that? You could probably heal something like this.”
Youbirin gives another wet cough.
“Don’t die, please,” she begs, “You matter to me, don’t die, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it, don’t die, don’t die,” she chants, hoping and pushing herself to her limits.
That’s the problem with genin teammates–they’ll always be important, no matter who they are.
(On the one hand, traveling through time to meet the Nidaime Hokage is pretty cool. Getting to compare fuinjutsu notes with him is practically a dream come true.
Somehow being stuck randomly appearing at various points in his life? She’d rather not.
But, well, there’s a silver lining to everything.
She just has to find this one.)
Team Tobirama is a seven person team.
Except for when it’s an eight person team.
Tobirama-sensei only briefly introduces the girl before they’re off on what will undoubtedly be a difficult mission.
Cloud shinobi. It won’t be anything but difficult.
She’s a stranger and it shows, their team falling into the familiar grouping–Kagami, Danzo, Torifu and Hiruzen, Homura, Koharu–while sensei single-handedly destroys his own opponents. It leaves her alone, and for a moment Kagami worries, before he realizes that she’s holding her own.
More than, even.
(The Kinkaku Force should have overpowered them, forced the genin to flee while their sensei sacrifices himself.
Eight instead of seven.
Nobody dies that day. The hat does not get passed on quite yet)
She’s not a permanent member of their team, which confuses Kagami because as far as he can tell she’s not on any other team either.
“I don’t recognize her,” Torifu says in a hush, which is especially worrying. It’s not an admission, it’s a clue: if Torifu can’t recognize someone wearing Nara sigils, something is going on.
“She keeps staring at me,” Danzo adds, before his face flushes with a sudden realization, “Not–not like that!” he says, embarrassed, while Kagami and Torifu share a smirk.
“She is rather pretty,” Kagami teases, Torifu nodding in solemn agreement, because an opportunity to fluster Danzo is always something to take advantage of. And besides, it’s not as if they don’t trust her–Tobirama-sensei trusts her, and more besides she’s risked her life alongside them–but this is a mystery that needs solving.
(They never do figure it out.)
A/N: A little late but still respectable, I think. Also it’s not really my fault since tumblr appears to be having technical trouble–is that everyone or is it just me? I do have somewhat sporadic wi-fi right now.
I’ll try to meet the midnight deadline properly tonight, anyway.
So the first two are from a conversation I had with @unfortunatehatlessness, the third one was just a haunting idea I had–though, highly influenced by @donapoetrypassion’s In Which Someone Attempts To Kidnap Shikamaru, Instead. Fourth is the anonymously prompted AU of @kuipernebula’s and mine Team Medic!AU (uh, sorry for the bleak ending on that one, it works out okay in the end?) And fifth is kiiinda a response to Linnypants’ comment on ao3 about Shikako’s POV of my Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly Cosmic ficlet.
Wow, okay, that’s a pretty impressive sweep if I do say so myself 😀 Also, happy belated birthday to myself.
I’ll post this to ao3 in a bit