Unto The Climate, part two (2017-03-22)

Fuyu Namikaze is a mystery. An impossibility. A trap?

Perhaps.

Orochimaru had always been simultaneously his most dramatic and most subtle student:

A full scale invasion in the middle of the the chuunin exams, using the reanimated former Hokages as puppets? As showy as ever.

But the months of preparation before that–an entirely new hidden village and not a peep on who the leader is, an alliance with one of the big five (never mind Sand’s fading glory)–all quiet, patient machinations.

Hiruzen knows he has not always been the best at judging those close to him, but he’s certain that it was honest surprise on Orochimaru’s face. Shock and no small amount of fear when the Shinigami reached for the last unopened coffin.

A life for a life, that is currency of gods. Hiruzen is old, far past his prime, has outlived his wife, a child, his successor, and now a student.

But his student was the one who had perverted the laws of nature; his student who the Shinigami had taken in exchange for Fuyu Namikaze.

Perhaps Fuyu Namikaze was a trap, meant to be a different blue eyed blonde resurrected, a psychological attack and indomitable puppet both. But Orochimaru had been too afraid of dying, would never have planned with that possibility in mind.

He hadn’t thought to take the Shinigami into account, and gods do not take well to human hubris.

The student who had wanted immortality was the first to die, the Shinigami leaving Hiruzen untouched once more along with the mysterious, impossible Fuyu Namikaze.

Inoichi is suspicious.

Then again, there is a lot going on for Inoichi to be suspicious of. An invasion from two different villages, Orochimaru’s return, and possible sleeper agents in Konoha’s own forces will do that.

Luckily, there are a few Sound and Sand shinobi who have survived long enough to be given over to T&I’s tender mercies, but Inoichi is retired and that’s not what he’s most suspicious of anyway.

He remembers Minato Namikaze. Remembers how that gentle expression hid the sharpest mind of their age. Remembers how a clanless orphan rose up from nothing and skyrocketed to the top loved and respected by the people.

Fuyu Namikaze is not him. Fuyu Namikaze is a stranger with familiar features and damning genetic similarity to a fallen hero. But like Minato, Fuyu Namikaze understands far more than she lets on, everything hidden behind a passive smile.

But Konoha could use a rallying point in these trying times, and the appearance of a relative (sister?) of their fallen, beloved Yondaime is a good opportunity.

Inoichi waits and watches for Fuyu Namikaze to be worthy.

Jiraiya stands in the wreckage of his home and knows that this is only the beginning.

~

A/N: So I guess this is an Orochimaru-is-dead!AU? Uh… my bad.

Fake Fic Title – ‘when the dawn is still dark’ Dreaming of Sunshine, Shikako (I hope that is kinda the format you want?)

Thanks, anon! (The format is good, no worries)

Let’s see… there are three key points in the title you’ve given me, so I think it’ll have to be something like:

When The Dawn Is Still Dark

Revolutions take more than just hard work and hope, sometimes they take sacrifice.

Time travel and an oracle works, too.

So, the three points of the title you’ve provided is:

1) Dawn = definitely going to be an Akatsuki fic, so the issue is which iteration of Akatsuki exactly?
2) Still = as in, not the evil S-rank jinchuuriki collecting, world-war starting version
3) Dark = Shikako… which, I mean, yeah… obviously

Hence, time traveling Shikako saving Akatsuki from becoming the Big Bads and helping them be the forces of good in the world that they wanted to be.

The question, though, is how.

It’s gotta be fuinjutsu, right? That much is clear… I’m thinking maybe Jiraiya probably gave the Rain Trio some basic fuinjutsu teaching, but none of them really clicked with it and besides there are other things that would be better to teach them.

I also think maybe training the Rain Trio was as much a training trip for himself, so even if his three students didn’t want to pursue fuinjutsu Jiraiya probably worked on some things on the side. Like an attempt to recreate Tobirama Senju’s Hiraishin (he never does get it, but Minato does and he couldn’t be prouder).

And maybe there’s sort of progress? Jiraiya makes a prototype that can summon himself, but it’s the equivalent of a delayed timer and it’s only if he throws it. So not really practical in battle (certainly not the phenomenon that turned Minato into the Yellow Flash, flee on sight).

Well, basically this is just me saying, in a round about way, that Jiraiya had given the Rain Trio a way to summon him but it wasn’t really complete.

Several decades later, he doesn’t see anything wrong with giving that Nara brat some of his old notes attempting the Hiraishin. Maybe she’ll get some use out of it.

The Rain Trio try to summon Jiraiya and they get Shikako instead 😀

Unfortunately then it would just be an Akatsuki version of Gambling Away The Past except with the following:

1) Shikako tells them, pretty early on, that she’s from the future
2) Hanzo is notoriously unbeatable by three people (the Sannin got their title by fighting him to a standstill) but four people? Well…
3) Please, Shikako helping the Uzumaki reunion, pleeeeeeeease
4) Literally no one in Konoha having any idea where this rogue badass Nara came from but the clan is greatly enjoying getting the notoriety without any of the paperwork
5) Danzo take down! Danzo take down!

Yeah, that’s all I can think of for now anon.

Ask Box Three Sentence Fic, 10/? (2016-11-04)

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(1 – anonymous – even more 3.4, Shikako/Gaara, modern royalty!AU, family POV)

Theirs is not a family of soft gestures and kind words, as harsh and imposing as the desert they rule over–but Temari is queen now, and while her future is irrevocably tied to her country, that doesn’t mean her brothers’ must be as well.

“You won’t get the throne,” she says, fact more than prediction, nearly ringing with decree; Gaara looks at her with barely concealed hope.

“Do as you will,” she finishes, permission and blessing, as close to kindness as their family can get.

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(2 – anonymous – Shikako/Shino, rescue mission)

He has been held prisoner for four days: his hive has been depleted, he has had minimal food, water, and sleep, and his left arm is still broken–the situation is less than optimal.

A small spider crawling beneath his cell door is all the warning he gets before an explosion reverberates through the facility, sounds of fighting and screaming following not long after, the spider making its calm but swift pace towards him.

Another, smaller, closer explosion breaks open his door revealing Shikako and his younger sister’s team, “I told you I’d come back for you.”

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(3 – anonymous – Shikako, collective realization of butt-kicking ability)

It’s one thing for Shikako to put up a fight against Gaara who is, despite being a jinchuuriki and now the Kazekage, still a kid their age.

It’s another thing for her to take on a Sannin.

“Brats these days take things so seriously, it wasn’t a real challenge,” Jiraiya grouses, though the pride in his eyes could not be more obvious: he didn’t lose, and Shikako’s been sequestered in the hospital for chakra depletion again, but it was a damn near thing.

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(4 – anonymous – Shikako, haggled advice giver!AU?)

“You probably shouldn’t do… any of this,” Shikako says, bewildered, eyeing Aoba and gingerly picking through the pile of detailed notes he dropped on her desk.

“Not even the pathway of flower petals?”

“That sounds expensive,” she answers, “and excessive considering this is only your second date… also… I’m thirteen–why are you asking me for dating advice?”

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(5 – anonymous – Shikako & ??, … preceding reputation?)

“Oh, no,” Kakashi-sensei says completely deadpan, as he leans casually against a barrel of sake “my cute student has gone missing; none of her adoring fans can find her.”

From inside the barrel comes the muffled response, “You’d hide, too, with fans like that.”

“Lucky for this talking sake, my cute student is not on duty for another two hours,” Kakashi-sensei knocks on the barrel twice before wandering back out to the party, gearing up to deal with his own horde of fans.

~

A/N: While I love the enthusiasm of some of these prompts and appreciate getting prompts at all, if I could request them to be in this format–

“Character and/or Ship, AU or canon!DoS, theme/event/idea less than ten words”

–then that would be great. I don’t want to police it too much, but it’s kind of difficult to parse what some of the prompts are saying.

Post Word Count: 404, Running Word Count: 1443

Hail To The Queen: Or, Some Ways Shikako Never Became The Hokage, 1/? (2016-04-18)

jacksgreysays:

jacksgreysays:

jacksgreysays:

jacksgreysays:

jacksgreysays:

(one: she who kills the kingslayer)

There was a tradition, in a different land, from a different life, that he who killed the king would then become the king. For if one could kill the king, then hasn’t one already conquered the kingdom?

That is not the case in Konoha, not really. The Shodaime was founder, and the Nidaime his brother, the Sandaime their student, and the Yondaime a war hero. The hat–the crown–passed down amicably, if not peacefully.

But the logic remains, in its own way, and could easily be applied. For if the Hokage is the strongest shinobi of Konoha, then the one who kills him proves they are even stronger: and, by definition, ought to become the next Hokage.

So what does that mean, for the girl who kills the monster that killed the Sandaime Hokage?

On her way to the stadium, she observes that the adults are wary, tense and prepared, waiting for something to happen. They know about an impending attack, yes, but they don’t know the details. They know the enemy is Sound and Sand, they even know Orochimaru is involved, but they don’t know the full truth.

Shikako does.

She steers her growing group closer to the Kage’s box, because even if she knows it’s mostly a product of the rigorous desensitization of the Academy, she is still a shinobi of Konoha, sworn to protect it’s leader.

And when the feathers fall, when everyone else is busy shaking off the genjutsu and dodging attacks from disguised Sound and Sand shinobi, Shikako looks up.

The Kazekage, no, Orochimaru has held the Sandaime hostage, has dragged him up to the roof of the stadium to start a battle that Shikako knows will lead to the Hokage’s death if he fights alone.

But the adults know, surely someone will be able react in time? Instead Sand shinobi, no, the Sound Four, rebuff their attempts long enough for the Sandaime to be isolated. Long enough for them to position themselves onto the four corners of the roof–Shikako knows that if they get the barrier up then it really will be all over for the Sandaime. She has to act now!

“Be ready to attack whoever comes here,” she says in a rush, hoping her friends hear her.

A barrier in the shape of a rectangular prism simply cannot exist if one of the four corners is switched out. And Shikako has practiced the Replacement Jutsu an awful lot recently.

The barrier fails and the shock of it is enough that some of the ANBU can engage the Sound Four–the Sound Three, right now–in their distraction while others rush the newly revealed Orochimaru.

But he summons the Shodaime and Nidaime and they were not Hokage for nothing and even the best trained ANBU can fall before legends.

The battle is above Shikako’s ability, truly, for she has grown stronger but not on par with this. But she can pull her chakra in, become invisible, strike when an opening arises.

Orochimaru still kills the Sandaime, despite the additional help, but the Shinigami also still takes away the use of his arms and that is opening enough. He is not expecting a mere genin to sneak behind him and tap the largest, most lethal touch blast she can think of onto his obi, and so that is what she does.

She is not fast enough to get completely outside the blast radius because she didn’t give herself time to do so–it would have given Orochimaru time to escape, somehow, too. And so, as the massive explosion detonates, an enormous fireball of light and heat scorching her eyes, she hopes that this will all be worth it.

Shikako wakes up in a hospital bed, one month later, to Tsunade Senju’s smirking face and is summarily informed that the Slug Sannin has not returned to Konoha to become the Godaime Hokage.

No, she has returned to heal the Godaime Hokage.

~

A/N: Hahahaha… haha… ha… uh. This was supposed to be hella shorter because this wasn’t supposed to actually become a series 😡 this was supposed to be a bunch of tiny drabbles all contained in one post but apparently my brain was like… nah. You gotta make it longer. You just gotta. Goddamnit, brain…

So this one is for you, anon who wanted to see Shikako as Hokage. The first of several ways she will never become Hokage.

Quest For The Queen, 1/6 (2016-04-26)

(one: ending)

The funeral is a miserable thing, somber and serious and everyone wearing black and standing in neat rows. The sky is dark, clouds heavy like the weight on his shoulders, and if Naruto were ever to hate something it would be this.

He never wants to go to another funeral again.

He knows it’s stupid, but he wants to make it so that a funeral never happens again.

He knows death is part of life, he’s not that dumb. He knows that he can’t actually prevent death, but maybe he can become strong enough to prevent this kind of funeral from happening. He’d rather have gone to a funeral after Hokage-jiji died peacefully in his sleep, or from losing too much blood from a giant perverted nose bleed, or something like he ate too much and his stomach exploded.

He hates this helpless feeling, standing around quietly as his inability to protect his precious people is rubbed in his face:

Hokage-jiji and so many other Konoha shinobi dead.

Sasuke back in lockdown in case the curse seal takes advantage of his chakra exhaustion.

Shikako in a medically induced coma, put in the intensive care stasis room because her entire body is covered in third and fourth degree burn–he didn’t even know there was such a thing as fourth degree burns.

All Naruto has to show for the attack are some bandages on his face.

And then it starts raining.

“Why do people do it? Why do they risk their lives for other people?” He blurts out, the questions scratching away at his throat because he’s trying so hard not to cry.

Iruka-sensei answers him, something about people being tied together even after someone passes away. How the memory of that person will still live through their family and friends and loved ones. And if Naruto had been talking about Hokage-jiji it might have helped, but if anything it makes him feel worse because he’s not thinking about Hokage-jiji–he’s thinking about Shikako.

She might be the next funeral he goes to, the thought flickers so quickly through his mind that he can’t even squash it before it registers.

“So we do it because we have to. Sort of,” he says, because that at least makes sense. Shikako tried to save Hokage-jiji, even if that meant fighting the freaky snake bastard who had already beaten all three of them in the forest. She was willing to risk her life for that smallest possibility she could save him, “Still, I’m worried for her.”

Iruka-sensei looks confused for a moment before understanding dawns on his face. His eyes dart away, guilty, for not having interpreted Naruto’s question correctly.

Kakashi-sensei, who snuck in late but was stealthy enough to not make a disturbance, puts a careful hand on Naruto’s shoulder and squeezes. He’s worried, too. Too worried to say anything.

Which means that Naruto has to be the one to speak.

“But Shikako’s strong,” he says, because it’s true. He’s never known her to be anything but strong, “She’ll definitely recover,” he adds because maybe if he says it, that will also become true. “Believe it!” He says, even as he struggles to do the same.

The sun comes out and starts to shine, and Naruto hopes that it’s a sign that things really will be okay.

~

A/N: Okay so… Quest For The Queen will have six parts… I think…

I DUNNO! NARUTO’S VOICE IS SO DIFFICULT! THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING! @book14reader totally knows what I’m talking about.

But I just really want to address Naruto in this series so here’s his spin-off!

Quest for the Queen, 2/6 (2016-04-29)

(two: resolution)

After the memorial, Naruto goes to the training grounds. He doesn’t want to get in the way at the hospital, even though part of him really wants to see Shikako because maybe in the past three hours since he’s last checked they’ve somehow figured out a way to heal her.

Hell, he wouldn’t mind at least being able to talk to Sasuke for five minutes because that way they can be miserable together. But no, both of his teammates are cordoned off to special areas of the hospital that he can’t get to.

He’s not entirely sure why he’s come here, though. It’s not like training is any fun without either of them, and it’s not like he can do much by himself. Maybe he can spar against some of his clones but that seems kind of lonely. And inevitably he’ll summon clones to fight his clones and then he gets confused as to which clones he originally created in the first place.

He would go to Ichiraku’s except he doesn’t feel hungry, not even for ramen. And going by himself, knowing both of his teammates are in the hospital, doesn’t sound appealing at all. So really all Naruto can do is sit on the bridge and stare morosely at the little creek flowing underneath it, trying very hard not to be reminded of that swing hanging just outside the Academy.

Which is how the pervy sage finds him, still in his funeral blacks, kicking his feet back and forth as if that’ll solve anything at all.

“There you are, you brat,” pervy sage says, as if Naruto was late for a planned meeting which, no way, he’s not Kaka-sensei.

“What do you want?” Naruto asks, immediately suspicious, because, sure, last time he hung out with the Jiraiya he did end up summoning a really huge toad but that’s only because the old pervert pushed him off a cliff and he ended up nearly sleeping through the finals so…

“Time to go,” he says, instead of answering Naruto’s question, “why haven’t you changed already? You can’t go on a mission like that.”

“I’m not going on a mission!”

“Not dressed like that, you aren’t,” Jiraiya says completely sidestepping Naruto’s protests, “and with no mission gear? Okay, tell you what, brat, I’ll give you thirty minutes to get ready before we go. Now shoo,”

“I can’t leave,” Naruto says instead of quietly obeying because when has he ever done that?

“Why not?” Jiraiya asks, finally seeming to hear him.

“Because!” he shouts, to give himself time to think, “We just got invaded! The village is going to need all the help it can get to clean up and I’m not going to just leave on some stupid mission with some old pervert! You’ll probably spend the entire time looking at ladies in the baths!”

Naruto hasn’t really known Jiraiya long, but even a few conversations is enough to know that such a statement should at least get the pervert leering stupidly at even the thought of naked ladies. Instead his expression seems to darken, turning stony and solemn and nearly angry.

Naruto’s not afraid, but he is suddenly wary now: this is not the perverted old man who can be tricked with some clones and a henge, this is an S-rank shinobi.

But maybe he is a little bit afraid, enough to show on his face, because Jiraiya seems to soften. Only a little, though.

“I’d have thought you’d want to help your teammate in the hospital,” he begins, musingly. “But if you don’t want to take this mission to find the best healer in the Elemental Nations and heal your friend, well. But if you’d rather sort through rubble then…”

Naruto stares, too surprised and full of hope to speak.

“I thought so,” The pervy sage smirks, victorious, “You’re down to twenty minutes now. I’ll see you at the main gate.”

Naruto has never packed faster in his life.

~

A/N: Paaaaart twoooooo…

Naruto is probably the most difficult for me to write but Jiraiya’s definitely in the top five as well so…

Quest for the Queen, 3/6 (2016-05-10)

(three: confrontation)

For the first few days, Naruto stays quiet. Or, well, quiet for him. He asks the perverted sage all sorts of questions and makes comments on the things they see, the places they go, and the people they meet. On more than one occasion, Jiraiya has told him to shut up, and Naruto tries as best as he can–which means in less than an hour he’ll forget himself and remark on something. But he doesn’t complain.

How can he? He and Jiraiya are going to find an amazing healer to heal Shikako and then everything will be alright! There’s no way he’s gonna complain–not even if, for the most part, the perverted sage makes him stay at the inn because “Like hell I’m going to bring a twelve year old into a brothel.”

Which, gets steadily more and more annoying. Naruto kind of figured a good chunk of their trip would involve the old man being perverted, but they’re wasting time!

It’s on day four that Naruto explodes, just as Jiraiya says he’s going to go to a bar.

“It’s still morning!” Naruto shouts because there’s annoying and then there’s horrible, “You’ve been going in and out of bars and brothels for the past four days and we’re nowhere near closer to this lady!”

Jiraiya’s hand smacks over Naruto’s face, in an attempt to prevent him from yelling more, “Quiet down brat,” he hisses, but Naruto has already squirmed out of his hold.

“I could just make a thousand clones and I’ll find that lady in no time!” Naruto suggests, because if he’s going to be honest this isn’t so much about the perverted sage being a pervert or a drunkard as much as it is about himself. Naruto hasn’t been doing anything productive and he’s feeling antsy.

“And give up the fact that someone’s after her?” Jiraiya scoffs, slapping him upside the head, “Thank, brat. She’ll go to ground in seconds and we’ll never track her down. She’s cured a lot of very influential people, some who wouldn’t mind exchanging sanctuary for a live-in miracle healer. My contacts will help us figure out where she is, but they’re not going to be any help if you’ve made it obvious we’re searching for her.”

Oh. Well… he guesses he never thought about it like that. Shikako would have. She would have caught on way in the beginning instead of spending four days not knowing what was going on. And she would have explained it to him, too, so that he’d understand.

But if she were here, then they wouldn’t even be on this mission to find this healer lady.

“Then what do I do?” Naruto asks, because while it might make sense for the pervert sage to go to bars and brothels, he can’t exactly do the same thing.

Jiraiya hums musingly, glancing thoughtfully at the sky as if in deep thought, dramatically snapping his fingers. “I’m going to teach you a powerful jutsu,” he says, before stretching out his hand. In the center of his palm a swirling ball of chakra appears. He smirks and leans in, as if he’s telling a secret:

“It’s called the Rasengan.”

He’ll admit it: he did get distracted by the Rasengan. It is undeniably a cool and powerful jutsu–even if it’s being taught to him by a super pervert (then again, all of his teachers have been perverts of some degree or another)–but still, he should have been more focused on what the mission is even for.

So what if he can pop a water balloon and a rubber ball with chakra? That’s not going to help Shikako!

After a week of training they’ve passed through different towns, but they may as well all be the same because Jiraiya knows where all the bars and bathhouses and brothels are and that’s where he spends his time. Their time. The time they should be using to actually find this healer lady and bring her back to Konoha!

“If this were your teammate you wouldn’t be wasting time like this!” Naruto shouts, finally fed up and impatient, because Shikako has been in the hospital for weeks and what if–what if he never sees her again? what if, before they get back, her condition turns worse? what if it’s all his fault because he didn’t come back in time?

Jiraiya’s irritation swiftly slides into anger: a chilling, stony thing.

“Which teammate are you talking about?” He asks so coldly, “The one that hasn’t been to Konoha in decades, who has run around the Land of Fire doing whatever she wants and ignoring the consequences? Or the one that tried to invade Konoha, and killed our sensei? The one that your teammate killed.”

Naruto gulps, the killing intent a pressure against his spine, behind his eyes. He can’t speak.

“Maybe I should let your teammate die,” he ponders, still so dark and cold, “What’s one more person after everyone who died in the invasion? She went up against an S-rank shinobi, after all, genin don’t survive those kinds of odds.” He finishes pointedly, a not so subtle comparison between the situation now: Jiraiya, an S-rank, and Naruto, a mere genin.

Instead, of being scared of the threat, though, Naruto gets angry: “If you do that, you’re no better than that snake freak. Shikako’s a hero! Ranks didn’t matter to her and they don’t matter to me, either! I’m going to find this healer lady with or without your help!” And because it’s been on his mind lately, he tries to create a Rasengan–except he hasn’t gone on to the last step.

His chakra swirls, smooth and strong, but he doesn’t have control yet. It dissipates in a matter of moments.

Jiraiya snorts derisively, “And how are you going to do that? You haven’t even mastered the Rasengan yet?” In a swift movement, he goes around Naruto and pushes him to the ground, an imperious sandal keeping him there, “You can’t even protect yourself, much less your friend.”

Even though Jiraiya’s tone has gentled, his words hit the mark.

“I know!” Naruto shouts into the dirt, near sobbing with frustration, “I know I’m too weak, I know I can’t protect myself yet. But I can’t just do nothing!” The pressure on his back releases, and Naruto scrambles to his feet, scrubbing furiously at his cheeks, “I don’t care who I have to fight or what I have to do. I’m going to get stronger and I’m not going to let that happen to her again!”

Jiraiya sighs, looking skyward before meeting Naruto’s eyes. “Save me from genin with no self preservation,” he says, exasperated, but no longer a emitting a cloud of killing intent.

They stand in silence; Naruto’s breath heaving, Jiraiya assessing, before he turns around and leads the way, “I’ve heard news that Tsunade might be in this town, so keep your tantrums to yourself.”

“They’re not–!”

“But it’s good, that you’re so loyal to your friend,” he continues, not even looking back at Naruto, “She’ll need that when she wakes up.”

It’s not until they find and talk to Tsunade, does Naruto understand what he meant.

~

A/N: this is a really good spot to end this part but it’s a little early according to what i planned out so…

okay so I’m still pretty sure it’s only going to be six parts but I may have to… shift some things around from my original outline…

also! since this is an AU in which the whole Tsukuyomi debacle has been sidestepped because of ~reasons~ Jiraiya gets to have the “genin with no self preservation” conversation with Naruto instead of Shikako. Although he probably also has that conversation with her… or someone does. Trying to take on an S-rank missing nin? That’s silly, Shikako.

Quest for the Queen, 4/6 (2016-05-18)

(four: crisis)

Given the sheer number of casinos in this city, it’d be foolish to try and physically search each of them for one person. Not to mention, a person who doesn’t want to be found.

That being said, apparently the pervert sage is actually good at his job because he asks about the healer lady in a very round about way which shouldn’t give off any prior warning. Or, at least, that’s what he says he’s doing and Naruto’s trying not to doubt him as much as before. But it’s kind of difficult when all Jiraiya says is, “I heard the Legendary Sucker was in town.”

Which doesn’t sound like the kind of description he’d want for an amazing healer lady that can cure Shikako, but what does Naruto know?

The bartender, who hadn’t so much raised an eyebrow at Naruto despite him being almost a decade younger than the legal drinking age, nodded solemnly, “I’ve had a couple of customers celebrating big wins. Got a lot of tips,” she adds, then pointedly holds her hand out.

Grumbling, Jiraiya slides a couple of ryo across the bar, pettily refusing to put it in her hand.

Regardless, money is money, and the bartender accepts it with aplomb, “She’s been doing different casinos everyday–probably because she keeps reneging on payment. But none of them have sent debt collectors after her yet–she healed the mayor’s son so she still has some political capital left even if it’s not, you know, actual capital.”

That sounds like… good news, maybe?

“How many days has she been here for?” Jiraiya asks, because if they’re working on a deadline made of some kind of inverse relationship between monetary debt and political good graces then she might not be here for much longer.

“A week,” the bartender says, “There’s only one casino she hasn’t been to yet.”

Tsunade stares at the table in shock as the dealer, also surprised but a consummate professional, pushes the pile of poker chips towards her.

The other players around the table look at each other and mutter distrustfully about bad information, annoyance etched on their faces.

Until it turns into confusion.

“Gods damnit,” the Legendary Sucker growls, before standing up and stomping away, leaving her winnings behind.

Even forewarning gambling victories aren’t enough to help her escape from Jiraiya and the shrimpy brat trailing after him, which is highly unfortunate. So on par with her usual luck, then.

“Jiraiya,” she says flatly, because she can’t exactly go punching him in the face unprovoked.

“Tsunade-hime,” he says with a wide grin, “Let’s go get something to eat.”

She’d like to reject him out of hand, partially because that sounds suspiciously like a date even with their respective kids in tow but mostly because she heard about what happened in Konoha, what happened to Sensei.

She’s pretty sure she knows what he’s here for.

As it turns out, she’s wrong.

The healer lady comes with them to a restaurant and brings another lady, too, one who’s carrying a pig which seems like a weird thing especially when they’re ordering food and they get barbecue, but Naruto’s seen weirder and contents himself with the food instead. He’s starving!

“Sensei is dead,” pervert sage says, and Naruto tries to swallow his food down around the lump in his throat.

“I heard,” healer lady says, all cool and uncaring like Sasuke at his worst.

“Orochimaru, too,” pervert sage adds, which actually gets a reaction out of healer lady. Which is annoying and which he’d normally protest, but after his talk with Jiraiya about teammates he thinks maybe he kind of understands so he keeps quiet.

She looks away, a poor attempt to hide her face which somehow looks both angry and sad at the same time.

“Konoha needs you to come back,” pervert sage says, after allowing her a moment of silence.

And now it’s just anger, “I’m not going back just to be the next sacrifice wearing the hat!”

The other customers of the restaurant look their way curiously, before Jiraiya forms a seal with one hand and they all go back to their own meals.

Then he looks back at her, smirk on his face, “The council doesn’t want you to be the next Hokage.”

“What?” Tsunade says, sounding confused and almost offended.

Naruto is glad, because now they can finally get to the point!

Except instead pervert sage says, “You remember what Sensei told us when we went on our first mission out of the village? About the laws of succession–just in case things went south.”

She stares at him, “… Who? How could someone… It’s not you is it?” she says, almost accusingly.

And now Naruto is really confused.

Pervert sage snorts, “No, it’s not me. It’s Shikaku Nara’s brat, the girl one.”

Naruto bristles at the insult, but before he can yell at Jiraiya, the man adds almost formally:

“The Godaime Hokage is in critical condition–if you don’t come back and heal her, she won’t live to see her coronation.”

~

A/N: … do they have poker in the Naruto world? Well they do in DoS so that’s canon enough for me…

Okay so it’s a little late and that’s entirely my fault because it’s not like I was busy (except for catching up on my fanfic reading) and i probably should have done a quick mash of something before midnight but i didn’t want to distract myself from this installment of Quest for the Queen because I WANT THIS TO BE FINISHED SOOO BADLY ALREADY SO I CAN GO ON TO OTHER THINGS.

Also, weird POV switching halfway through the fic! I dunno? It’s still Naruto’s story but it didn’t want to flow from his POV so I just… didn’t for that part. Also… suuper need to shift around some things in my outline…

Quest for the Queen, 5/6 (2016-05-22)

(five: incentive)

There’s a moment of silence: Pervert sage, serious. Healer lady, shocked. Healer lady’s student, also shocked. Healer lady’s student’s pig, probably whatever pigs normally feel.

Naruto, definitely confused.

Until healer lady throws her head back and laughs, a loud, whole-bodied thing, which would normally make him smile, too, because he likes it when people laugh. But not in this case:

Naruto gets angry.

And it doesn’t matter that he doesn’t really understand what’s going on. All he knows is that Jiraiya mentioned Shikako, about how she might die before the next Hokage’s coronation, and all of a sudden this healer lady is laughing?

“It’s not funny!” Naruto shouts, “She’s seriously hurt!” he continues, raising his voice just to be heard over the lady’s laughter, and he doesn’t care if she’s some kind of amazing healer or pervert sage’s teammate–and, anyway, considering how evil the last one was, he’s not too surprised that this one’s terrible, too–but he’s not going to let her laugh at Shikako’s life.

“SHUT UP!” he roars, slamming his hands against the table, making it shake and the dishes rattle.

Their table, along with the rest of the restaurant, become silent again.

Tsunade looks at him with narrowed, cool eyes. “You want me to heal your little girlfriend?” she asks, tauntingly,

“You’ll have to pay me ten million ryo.”

Beside her, her student gasps.

Naruto can’t respond, something sticks in his throat. He doesn’t have that much money–he’s pretty sure no one has that much money.

Jiraiya argues, “That’s more than eight times the value of an S-rank.”

“Konoha is the wealthiest shinobi village. They’re good for it,” she responds, “And surely they’d pay anything for their Godaime Hokage to be healed.”

Naruto doesn’t know why they keep jumping between topics like this. Doesn’t understand why they’re suddenly talking about a new Hokage–until Tsunade continues, snidely, face twisted into a cruel smirk:

“Although why bother? That position is clearly cursed. The little Nara won’t last long under the hat–if she even lives to wear it, that is.”

And something inside Naruto’s head, buzzing low beneath his anger and fear, suddenly clicks.

They’re not jumping between topics, talking about two different people at the same time. They’re talking about the same person:

Shikako. The Godaime Hokage.

But… that can’t be right: that’s his dream!

And, sure, Shikako is smart and strong she’s a great shinobi, a good person–but she’s not… She’s not Hokage level!

Naruto has always dreamed of becoming the Hokage, but he’s not deluded like Konohamaru used to be–he’s not anywhere near strong enough to be Hokage yet. And if he’s not then Shikako’s not either!

But…

They wouldn’t talk about the Hokage and Shikako interchangeably unless they actually meant it. And they said something about laws of succession. It… makes sense, maybe: because Shikako killed the snake freak that killed Hokage-jiji. No one else did.

Sure, she wasn’t able to actually save Hokage-jiji but she still tried. And… isn’t that the kind of Hokage that Naruto wants to be? The kind of Hokage that Naruto wants to fight for? Because Shikako is still one of Naruto’s precious people–the first, even–and it doesn’t matter if it’s his dream, she’s still someone that he wants to protect. And maybe that’s not why he started off wanting to become Hokage, but that’s the reason now.

He can still protect his precious people even without being the Hokage; even if he’ll never be the Hokage. Because if he does succeed at protecting his precious people–and he will, that’s more important than being Hokage–then that means Shikako will be Hokage for as long as he protects her.

His thoughts spin around and twist on themselves and it’s confusing and almost gives him a headache, but his heart knows what’s right. It hurts now, having to let go of that old dream, but it’s something that he’s willing to do. Something he’s willing to give up, so long as Shikako ends up healthy and happy and alive.

When Naruto checks back into the conversation, shaking himself out of his tangled thoughts, pervert sage and healer lady are arguing about money of all things! As if Shikako’s life were something to be haggled over like a set of kunai!

Jiraiya is negotiating for a more reasonable price, talking about A-ranks and S-ranks and the council’s budget. About how Konoha needs money to rebuild after the invasion, about how recovery is expensive and a single person can’t be worth almost half an entire village’s finances.

Tsunade, meanwhile, snipes back about how Tsunade is the preeminent leader in the field, how her services are worth far more than a mere A-rank. About since the Hokage is the most important person in the Konoha, surely the village should be willing to do pay her rate.

And back and forth as if Shikako isn’t injured and in pain and possibly dying right this very second!

“This is so–!” He can’t even think of a word that’s explains how awful and petty and unimportant their arguing is, “I’ll bring you back to Konoha myself if I have to!” He points a finger at her, challenging and furious and promising.

“You honestly think you can fight me?” Tsunade says, turning her sharp eyes at him, “I won’t even need more than one finger to beat you.” She jerks her head towards the exit, “Let’s take this outside.”

~

A/N:… okay, this is not where i wanted to end this section but I still only want this series to be six parts so I’m just gonna have to squish the rest of this section into the beginning of the next part. But I think I’m on a roll so I’ll probably be posting that in a few hours, anyway.

Hail To The Queen: Or, Some Ways Shikako Never Became The Hokage, 1/? (2016-04-18)

jacksgreysays:

jacksgreysays:

jacksgreysays:

jacksgreysays:

(one: she who kills the kingslayer)

There was a tradition, in a different land, from a different life, that he who killed the king would then become the king. For if one could kill the king, then hasn’t one already conquered the kingdom?

That is not the case in Konoha, not really. The Shodaime was founder, and the Nidaime his brother, the Sandaime their student, and the Yondaime a war hero. The hat–the crown–passed down amicably, if not peacefully.

But the logic remains, in its own way, and could easily be applied. For if the Hokage is the strongest shinobi of Konoha, then the one who kills him proves they are even stronger: and, by definition, ought to become the next Hokage.

So what does that mean, for the girl who kills the monster that killed the Sandaime Hokage?

On her way to the stadium, she observes that the adults are wary, tense and prepared, waiting for something to happen. They know about an impending attack, yes, but they don’t know the details. They know the enemy is Sound and Sand, they even know Orochimaru is involved, but they don’t know the full truth.

Shikako does.

She steers her growing group closer to the Kage’s box, because even if she knows it’s mostly a product of the rigorous desensitization of the Academy, she is still a shinobi of Konoha, sworn to protect it’s leader.

And when the feathers fall, when everyone else is busy shaking off the genjutsu and dodging attacks from disguised Sound and Sand shinobi, Shikako looks up.

The Kazekage, no, Orochimaru has held the Sandaime hostage, has dragged him up to the roof of the stadium to start a battle that Shikako knows will lead to the Hokage’s death if he fights alone.

But the adults know, surely someone will be able react in time? Instead Sand shinobi, no, the Sound Four, rebuff their attempts long enough for the Sandaime to be isolated. Long enough for them to position themselves onto the four corners of the roof–Shikako knows that if they get the barrier up then it really will be all over for the Sandaime. She has to act now!

“Be ready to attack whoever comes here,” she says in a rush, hoping her friends hear her.

A barrier in the shape of a rectangular prism simply cannot exist if one of the four corners is switched out. And Shikako has practiced the Replacement Jutsu an awful lot recently.

The barrier fails and the shock of it is enough that some of the ANBU can engage the Sound Four–the Sound Three, right now–in their distraction while others rush the newly revealed Orochimaru.

But he summons the Shodaime and Nidaime and they were not Hokage for nothing and even the best trained ANBU can fall before legends.

The battle is above Shikako’s ability, truly, for she has grown stronger but not on par with this. But she can pull her chakra in, become invisible, strike when an opening arises.

Orochimaru still kills the Sandaime, despite the additional help, but the Shinigami also still takes away the use of his arms and that is opening enough. He is not expecting a mere genin to sneak behind him and tap the largest, most lethal touch blast she can think of onto his obi, and so that is what she does.

She is not fast enough to get completely outside the blast radius because she didn’t give herself time to do so–it would have given Orochimaru time to escape, somehow, too. And so, as the massive explosion detonates, an enormous fireball of light and heat scorching her eyes, she hopes that this will all be worth it.

Shikako wakes up in a hospital bed, one month later, to Tsunade Senju’s smirking face and is summarily informed that the Slug Sannin has not returned to Konoha to become the Godaime Hokage.

No, she has returned to heal the Godaime Hokage.

~

A/N: Hahahaha… haha… ha… uh. This was supposed to be hella shorter because this wasn’t supposed to actually become a series 😡 this was supposed to be a bunch of tiny drabbles all contained in one post but apparently my brain was like… nah. You gotta make it longer. You just gotta. Goddamnit, brain…

So this one is for you, anon who wanted to see Shikako as Hokage. The first of several ways she will never become Hokage.

Quest For The Queen, 1/6 (2016-04-26)

(one: ending)

The funeral is a miserable thing, somber and serious and everyone wearing black and standing in neat rows. The sky is dark, clouds heavy like the weight on his shoulders, and if Naruto were ever to hate something it would be this.

He never wants to go to another funeral again.

He knows it’s stupid, but he wants to make it so that a funeral never happens again.

He knows death is part of life, he’s not that dumb. He knows that he can’t actually prevent death, but maybe he can become strong enough to prevent this kind of funeral from happening. He’d rather have gone to a funeral after Hokage-jiji died peacefully in his sleep, or from losing too much blood from a giant perverted nose bleed, or something like he ate too much and his stomach exploded.

He hates this helpless feeling, standing around quietly as his inability to protect his precious people is rubbed in his face:

Hokage-jiji and so many other Konoha shinobi dead.

Sasuke back in lockdown in case the curse seal takes advantage of his chakra exhaustion.

Shikako in a medically induced coma, put in the intensive care stasis room because her entire body is covered in third and fourth degree burn–he didn’t even know there was such a thing as fourth degree burns.

All Naruto has to show for the attack are some bandages on his face.

And then it starts raining.

“Why do people do it? Why do they risk their lives for other people?” He blurts out, the questions scratching away at his throat because he’s trying so hard not to cry.

Iruka-sensei answers him, something about people being tied together even after someone passes away. How the memory of that person will still live through their family and friends and loved ones. And if Naruto had been talking about Hokage-jiji it might have helped, but if anything it makes him feel worse because he’s not thinking about Hokage-jiji–he’s thinking about Shikako.

She might be the next funeral he goes to, the thought flickers so quickly through his mind that he can’t even squash it before it registers.

“So we do it because we have to. Sort of,” he says, because that at least makes sense. Shikako tried to save Hokage-jiji, even if that meant fighting the freaky snake bastard who had already beaten all three of them in the forest. She was willing to risk her life for that smallest possibility she could save him, “Still, I’m worried for her.”

Iruka-sensei looks confused for a moment before understanding dawns on his face. His eyes dart away, guilty, for not having interpreted Naruto’s question correctly.

Kakashi-sensei, who snuck in late but was stealthy enough to not make a disturbance, puts a careful hand on Naruto’s shoulder and squeezes. He’s worried, too. Too worried to say anything.

Which means that Naruto has to be the one to speak.

“But Shikako’s strong,” he says, because it’s true. He’s never known her to be anything but strong, “She’ll definitely recover,” he adds because maybe if he says it, that will also become true. “Believe it!” He says, even as he struggles to do the same.

The sun comes out and starts to shine, and Naruto hopes that it’s a sign that things really will be okay.

~

A/N: Okay so… Quest For The Queen will have six parts… I think…

I DUNNO! NARUTO’S VOICE IS SO DIFFICULT! THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING! @book14reader totally knows what I’m talking about.

But I just really want to address Naruto in this series so here’s his spin-off!

Quest for the Queen, 2/6 (2016-04-29)

(two: resolution)

After the memorial, Naruto goes to the training grounds. He doesn’t want to get in the way at the hospital, even though part of him really wants to see Shikako because maybe in the past three hours since he’s last checked they’ve somehow figured out a way to heal her.

Hell, he wouldn’t mind at least being able to talk to Sasuke for five minutes because that way they can be miserable together. But no, both of his teammates are cordoned off to special areas of the hospital that he can’t get to.

He’s not entirely sure why he’s come here, though. It’s not like training is any fun without either of them, and it’s not like he can do much by himself. Maybe he can spar against some of his clones but that seems kind of lonely. And inevitably he’ll summon clones to fight his clones and then he gets confused as to which clones he originally created in the first place.

He would go to Ichiraku’s except he doesn’t feel hungry, not even for ramen. And going by himself, knowing both of his teammates are in the hospital, doesn’t sound appealing at all. So really all Naruto can do is sit on the bridge and stare morosely at the little creek flowing underneath it, trying very hard not to be reminded of that swing hanging just outside the Academy.

Which is how the pervy sage finds him, still in his funeral blacks, kicking his feet back and forth as if that’ll solve anything at all.

“There you are, you brat,” pervy sage says, as if Naruto was late for a planned meeting which, no way, he’s not Kaka-sensei.

“What do you want?” Naruto asks, immediately suspicious, because, sure, last time he hung out with the Jiraiya he did end up summoning a really huge toad but that’s only because the old pervert pushed him off a cliff and he ended up nearly sleeping through the finals so…

“Time to go,” he says, instead of answering Naruto’s question, “why haven’t you changed already? You can’t go on a mission like that.”

“I’m not going on a mission!”

“Not dressed like that, you aren’t,” Jiraiya says completely sidestepping Naruto’s protests, “and with no mission gear? Okay, tell you what, brat, I’ll give you thirty minutes to get ready before we go. Now shoo,”

“I can’t leave,” Naruto says instead of quietly obeying because when has he ever done that?

“Why not?” Jiraiya asks, finally seeming to hear him.

“Because!” he shouts, to give himself time to think, “We just got invaded! The village is going to need all the help it can get to clean up and I’m not going to just leave on some stupid mission with some old pervert! You’ll probably spend the entire time looking at ladies in the baths!”

Naruto hasn’t really known Jiraiya long, but even a few conversations is enough to know that such a statement should at least get the pervert leering stupidly at even the thought of naked ladies. Instead his expression seems to darken, turning stony and solemn and nearly angry.

Naruto’s not afraid, but he is suddenly wary now: this is not the perverted old man who can be tricked with some clones and a henge, this is an S-rank shinobi.

But maybe he is a little bit afraid, enough to show on his face, because Jiraiya seems to soften. Only a little, though.

“I’d have thought you’d want to help your teammate in the hospital,” he begins, musingly. “But if you don’t want to take this mission to find the best healer in the Elemental Nations and heal your friend, well. But if you’d rather sort through rubble then…”

Naruto stares, too surprised and full of hope to speak.

“I thought so,” The pervy sage smirks, victorious, “You’re down to twenty minutes now. I’ll see you at the main gate.”

Naruto has never packed faster in his life.

~

A/N: Paaaaart twoooooo…

Naruto is probably the most difficult for me to write but Jiraiya’s definitely in the top five as well so…

Quest for the Queen, 3/6 (2016-05-10)

(three: confrontation)

For the first few days, Naruto stays quiet. Or, well, quiet for him. He asks the perverted sage all sorts of questions and makes comments on the things they see, the places they go, and the people they meet. On more than one occasion, Jiraiya has told him to shut up, and Naruto tries as best as he can–which means in less than an hour he’ll forget himself and remark on something. But he doesn’t complain.

How can he? He and Jiraiya are going to find an amazing healer to heal Shikako and then everything will be alright! There’s no way he’s gonna complain–not even if, for the most part, the perverted sage makes him stay at the inn because “Like hell I’m going to bring a twelve year old into a brothel.”

Which, gets steadily more and more annoying. Naruto kind of figured a good chunk of their trip would involve the old man being perverted, but they’re wasting time!

It’s on day four that Naruto explodes, just as Jiraiya says he’s going to go to a bar.

“It’s still morning!” Naruto shouts because there’s annoying and then there’s horrible, “You’ve been going in and out of bars and brothels for the past four days and we’re nowhere near closer to this lady!”

Jiraiya’s hand smacks over Naruto’s face, in an attempt to prevent him from yelling more, “Quiet down brat,” he hisses, but Naruto has already squirmed out of his hold.

“I could just make a thousand clones and I’ll find that lady in no time!” Naruto suggests, because if he’s going to be honest this isn’t so much about the perverted sage being a pervert or a drunkard as much as it is about himself. Naruto hasn’t been doing anything productive and he’s feeling antsy.

“And give up the fact that someone’s after her?” Jiraiya scoffs, slapping him upside the head, “Thank, brat. She’ll go to ground in seconds and we’ll never track her down. She’s cured a lot of very influential people, some who wouldn’t mind exchanging sanctuary for a live-in miracle healer. My contacts will help us figure out where she is, but they’re not going to be any help if you’ve made it obvious we’re searching for her.”

Oh. Well… he guesses he never thought about it like that. Shikako would have. She would have caught on way in the beginning instead of spending four days not knowing what was going on. And she would have explained it to him, too, so that he’d understand.

But if she were here, then they wouldn’t even be on this mission to find this healer lady.

“Then what do I do?” Naruto asks, because while it might make sense for the pervert sage to go to bars and brothels, he can’t exactly do the same thing.

Jiraiya hums musingly, glancing thoughtfully at the sky as if in deep thought, dramatically snapping his fingers. “I’m going to teach you a powerful jutsu,” he says, before stretching out his hand. In the center of his palm a swirling ball of chakra appears. He smirks and leans in, as if he’s telling a secret:

“It’s called the Rasengan.”

He’ll admit it: he did get distracted by the Rasengan. It is undeniably a cool and powerful jutsu–even if it’s being taught to him by a super pervert (then again, all of his teachers have been perverts of some degree or another)–but still, he should have been more focused on what the mission is even for.

So what if he can pop a water balloon and a rubber ball with chakra? That’s not going to help Shikako!

After a week of training they’ve passed through different towns, but they may as well all be the same because Jiraiya knows where all the bars and bathhouses and brothels are and that’s where he spends his time. Their time. The time they should be using to actually find this healer lady and bring her back to Konoha!

“If this were your teammate you wouldn’t be wasting time like this!” Naruto shouts, finally fed up and impatient, because Shikako has been in the hospital for weeks and what if–what if he never sees her again? what if, before they get back, her condition turns worse? what if it’s all his fault because he didn’t come back in time?

Jiraiya’s irritation swiftly slides into anger: a chilling, stony thing.

“Which teammate are you talking about?” He asks so coldly, “The one that hasn’t been to Konoha in decades, who has run around the Land of Fire doing whatever she wants and ignoring the consequences? Or the one that tried to invade Konoha, and killed our sensei? The one that your teammate killed.”

Naruto gulps, the killing intent a pressure against his spine, behind his eyes. He can’t speak.

“Maybe I should let your teammate die,” he ponders, still so dark and cold, “What’s one more person after everyone who died in the invasion? She went up against an S-rank shinobi, after all, genin don’t survive those kinds of odds.” He finishes pointedly, a not so subtle comparison between the situation now: Jiraiya, an S-rank, and Naruto, a mere genin.

Instead, of being scared of the threat, though, Naruto gets angry: “If you do that, you’re no better than that snake freak. Shikako’s a hero! Ranks didn’t matter to her and they don’t matter to me, either! I’m going to find this healer lady with or without your help!” And because it’s been on his mind lately, he tries to create a Rasengan–except he hasn’t gone on to the last step.

His chakra swirls, smooth and strong, but he doesn’t have control yet. It dissipates in a matter of moments.

Jiraiya snorts derisively, “And how are you going to do that? You haven’t even mastered the Rasengan yet?” In a swift movement, he goes around Naruto and pushes him to the ground, an imperious sandal keeping him there, “You can’t even protect yourself, much less your friend.”

Even though Jiraiya’s tone has gentled, his words hit the mark.

“I know!” Naruto shouts into the dirt, near sobbing with frustration, “I know I’m too weak, I know I can’t protect myself yet. But I can’t just do nothing!” The pressure on his back releases, and Naruto scrambles to his feet, scrubbing furiously at his cheeks, “I don’t care who I have to fight or what I have to do. I’m going to get stronger and I’m not going to let that happen to her again!”

Jiraiya sighs, looking skyward before meeting Naruto’s eyes. “Save me from genin with no self preservation,” he says, exasperated, but no longer a emitting a cloud of killing intent.

They stand in silence; Naruto’s breath heaving, Jiraiya assessing, before he turns around and leads the way, “I’ve heard news that Tsunade might be in this town, so keep your tantrums to yourself.”

“They’re not–!”

“But it’s good, that you’re so loyal to your friend,” he continues, not even looking back at Naruto, “She’ll need that when she wakes up.”

It’s not until they find and talk to Tsunade, does Naruto understand what he meant.

~

A/N: this is a really good spot to end this part but it’s a little early according to what i planned out so…

okay so I’m still pretty sure it’s only going to be six parts but I may have to… shift some things around from my original outline…

also! since this is an AU in which the whole Tsukuyomi debacle has been sidestepped because of ~reasons~ Jiraiya gets to have the “genin with no self preservation” conversation with Naruto instead of Shikako. Although he probably also has that conversation with her… or someone does. Trying to take on an S-rank missing nin? That’s silly, Shikako.

Quest for the Queen, 4/6 (2016-05-18)

(four: crisis)

Given the sheer number of casinos in this city, it’d be foolish to try and physically search each of them for one person. Not to mention, a person who doesn’t want to be found.

That being said, apparently the pervert sage is actually good at his job because he asks about the healer lady in a very round about way which shouldn’t give off any prior warning. Or, at least, that’s what he says he’s doing and Naruto’s trying not to doubt him as much as before. But it’s kind of difficult when all Jiraiya says is, “I heard the Legendary Sucker was in town.”

Which doesn’t sound like the kind of description he’d want for an amazing healer lady that can cure Shikako, but what does Naruto know?

The bartender, who hadn’t so much raised an eyebrow at Naruto despite him being almost a decade younger than the legal drinking age, nodded solemnly, “I’ve had a couple of customers celebrating big wins. Got a lot of tips,” she adds, then pointedly holds her hand out.

Grumbling, Jiraiya slides a couple of ryo across the bar, pettily refusing to put it in her hand.

Regardless, money is money, and the bartender accepts it with aplomb, “She’s been doing different casinos everyday–probably because she keeps reneging on payment. But none of them have sent debt collectors after her yet–she healed the mayor’s son so she still has some political capital left even if it’s not, you know, actual capital.”

That sounds like… good news, maybe?

“How many days has she been here for?” Jiraiya asks, because if they’re working on a deadline made of some kind of inverse relationship between monetary debt and political good graces then she might not be here for much longer.

“A week,” the bartender says, “There’s only one casino she hasn’t been to yet.”

Tsunade stares at the table in shock as the dealer, also surprised but a consummate professional, pushes the pile of poker chips towards her.

The other players around the table look at each other and mutter distrustfully about bad information, annoyance etched on their faces.

Until it turns into confusion.

“Gods damnit,” the Legendary Sucker growls, before standing up and stomping away, leaving her winnings behind.

Even forewarning gambling victories aren’t enough to help her escape from Jiraiya and the shrimpy brat trailing after him, which is highly unfortunate. So on par with her usual luck, then.

“Jiraiya,” she says flatly, because she can’t exactly go punching him in the face unprovoked.

“Tsunade-hime,” he says with a wide grin, “Let’s go get something to eat.”

She’d like to reject him out of hand, partially because that sounds suspiciously like a date even with their respective kids in tow but mostly because she heard about what happened in Konoha, what happened to Sensei.

She’s pretty sure she knows what he’s here for.

As it turns out, she’s wrong.

The healer lady comes with them to a restaurant and brings another lady, too, one who’s carrying a pig which seems like a weird thing especially when they’re ordering food and they get barbecue, but Naruto’s seen weirder and contents himself with the food instead. He’s starving!

“Sensei is dead,” pervert sage says, and Naruto tries to swallow his food down around the lump in his throat.

“I heard,” healer lady says, all cool and uncaring like Sasuke at his worst.

“Orochimaru, too,” pervert sage adds, which actually gets a reaction out of healer lady. Which is annoying and which he’d normally protest, but after his talk with Jiraiya about teammates he thinks maybe he kind of understands so he keeps quiet.

She looks away, a poor attempt to hide her face which somehow looks both angry and sad at the same time.

“Konoha needs you to come back,” pervert sage says, after allowing her a moment of silence.

And now it’s just anger, “I’m not going back just to be the next sacrifice wearing the hat!”

The other customers of the restaurant look their way curiously, before Jiraiya forms a seal with one hand and they all go back to their own meals.

Then he looks back at her, smirk on his face, “The council doesn’t want you to be the next Hokage.”

“What?” Tsunade says, sounding confused and almost offended.

Naruto is glad, because now they can finally get to the point!

Except instead pervert sage says, “You remember what Sensei told us when we went on our first mission out of the village? About the laws of succession–just in case things went south.”

She stares at him, “… Who? How could someone… It’s not you is it?” she says, almost accusingly.

And now Naruto is really confused.

Pervert sage snorts, “No, it’s not me. It’s Shikaku Nara’s brat, the girl one.”

Naruto bristles at the insult, but before he can yell at Jiraiya, the man adds almost formally:

“The Godaime Hokage is in critical condition–if you don’t come back and heal her, she won’t live to see her coronation.”

~

A/N: … do they have poker in the Naruto world? Well they do in DoS so that’s canon enough for me…

Okay so it’s a little late and that’s entirely my fault because it’s not like I was busy (except for catching up on my fanfic reading) and i probably should have done a quick mash of something before midnight but i didn’t want to distract myself from this installment of Quest for the Queen because I WANT THIS TO BE FINISHED SOOO BADLY ALREADY SO I CAN GO ON TO OTHER THINGS.

Also, weird POV switching halfway through the fic! I dunno? It’s still Naruto’s story but it didn’t want to flow from his POV so I just… didn’t for that part. Also… suuper need to shift around some things in my outline…

Hail To The Queen: Or, Some Ways Shikako Never Became The Hokage, 1/? (2016-04-18)

jacksgreysays:

jacksgreysays:

jacksgreysays:

(one: she who kills the kingslayer)

There was a tradition, in a different land, from a different life, that he who killed the king would then become the king. For if one could kill the king, then hasn’t one already conquered the kingdom?

That is not the case in Konoha, not really. The Shodaime was founder, and the Nidaime his brother, the Sandaime their student, and the Yondaime a war hero. The hat–the crown–passed down amicably, if not peacefully.

But the logic remains, in its own way, and could easily be applied. For if the Hokage is the strongest shinobi of Konoha, then the one who kills him proves they are even stronger: and, by definition, ought to become the next Hokage.

So what does that mean, for the girl who kills the monster that killed the Sandaime Hokage?

On her way to the stadium, she observes that the adults are wary, tense and prepared, waiting for something to happen. They know about an impending attack, yes, but they don’t know the details. They know the enemy is Sound and Sand, they even know Orochimaru is involved, but they don’t know the full truth.

Shikako does.

She steers her growing group closer to the Kage’s box, because even if she knows it’s mostly a product of the rigorous desensitization of the Academy, she is still a shinobi of Konoha, sworn to protect it’s leader.

And when the feathers fall, when everyone else is busy shaking off the genjutsu and dodging attacks from disguised Sound and Sand shinobi, Shikako looks up.

The Kazekage, no, Orochimaru has held the Sandaime hostage, has dragged him up to the roof of the stadium to start a battle that Shikako knows will lead to the Hokage’s death if he fights alone.

But the adults know, surely someone will be able react in time? Instead Sand shinobi, no, the Sound Four, rebuff their attempts long enough for the Sandaime to be isolated. Long enough for them to position themselves onto the four corners of the roof–Shikako knows that if they get the barrier up then it really will be all over for the Sandaime. She has to act now!

“Be ready to attack whoever comes here,” she says in a rush, hoping her friends hear her.

A barrier in the shape of a rectangular prism simply cannot exist if one of the four corners is switched out. And Shikako has practiced the Replacement Jutsu an awful lot recently.

The barrier fails and the shock of it is enough that some of the ANBU can engage the Sound Four–the Sound Three, right now–in their distraction while others rush the newly revealed Orochimaru.

But he summons the Shodaime and Nidaime and they were not Hokage for nothing and even the best trained ANBU can fall before legends.

The battle is above Shikako’s ability, truly, for she has grown stronger but not on par with this. But she can pull her chakra in, become invisible, strike when an opening arises.

Orochimaru still kills the Sandaime, despite the additional help, but the Shinigami also still takes away the use of his arms and that is opening enough. He is not expecting a mere genin to sneak behind him and tap the largest, most lethal touch blast she can think of onto his obi, and so that is what she does.

She is not fast enough to get completely outside the blast radius because she didn’t give herself time to do so–it would have given Orochimaru time to escape, somehow, too. And so, as the massive explosion detonates, an enormous fireball of light and heat scorching her eyes, she hopes that this will all be worth it.

Shikako wakes up in a hospital bed, one month later, to Tsunade Senju’s smirking face and is summarily informed that the Slug Sannin has not returned to Konoha to become the Godaime Hokage.

No, she has returned to heal the Godaime Hokage.

~

A/N: Hahahaha… haha… ha… uh. This was supposed to be hella shorter because this wasn’t supposed to actually become a series 😡 this was supposed to be a bunch of tiny drabbles all contained in one post but apparently my brain was like… nah. You gotta make it longer. You just gotta. Goddamnit, brain…

So this one is for you, anon who wanted to see Shikako as Hokage. The first of several ways she will never become Hokage.

Quest For The Queen, 1/6 (2016-04-26)

(one: ending)

The funeral is a miserable thing, somber and serious and everyone wearing black and standing in neat rows. The sky is dark, clouds heavy like the weight on his shoulders, and if Naruto were ever to hate something it would be this.

He never wants to go to another funeral again.

He knows it’s stupid, but he wants to make it so that a funeral never happens again.

He knows death is part of life, he’s not that dumb. He knows that he can’t actually prevent death, but maybe he can become strong enough to prevent this kind of funeral from happening. He’d rather have gone to a funeral after Hokage-jiji died peacefully in his sleep, or from losing too much blood from a giant perverted nose bleed, or something like he ate too much and his stomach exploded.

He hates this helpless feeling, standing around quietly as his inability to protect his precious people is rubbed in his face:

Hokage-jiji and so many other Konoha shinobi dead.

Sasuke back in lockdown in case the curse seal takes advantage of his chakra exhaustion.

Shikako in a medically induced coma, put in the intensive care stasis room because her entire body is covered in third and fourth degree burn–he didn’t even know there was such a thing as fourth degree burns.

All Naruto has to show for the attack are some bandages on his face.

And then it starts raining.

“Why do people do it? Why do they risk their lives for other people?” He blurts out, the questions scratching away at his throat because he’s trying so hard not to cry.

Iruka-sensei answers him, something about people being tied together even after someone passes away. How the memory of that person will still live through their family and friends and loved ones. And if Naruto had been talking about Hokage-jiji it might have helped, but if anything it makes him feel worse because he’s not thinking about Hokage-jiji–he’s thinking about Shikako.

She might be the next funeral he goes to, the thought flickers so quickly through his mind that he can’t even squash it before it registers.

“So we do it because we have to. Sort of,” he says, because that at least makes sense. Shikako tried to save Hokage-jiji, even if that meant fighting the freaky snake bastard who had already beaten all three of them in the forest. She was willing to risk her life for that smallest possibility she could save him, “Still, I’m worried for her.”

Iruka-sensei looks confused for a moment before understanding dawns on his face. His eyes dart away, guilty, for not having interpreted Naruto’s question correctly.

Kakashi-sensei, who snuck in late but was stealthy enough to not make a disturbance, puts a careful hand on Naruto’s shoulder and squeezes. He’s worried, too. Too worried to say anything.

Which means that Naruto has to be the one to speak.

“But Shikako’s strong,” he says, because it’s true. He’s never known her to be anything but strong, “She’ll definitely recover,” he adds because maybe if he says it, that will also become true. “Believe it!” He says, even as he struggles to do the same.

The sun comes out and starts to shine, and Naruto hopes that it’s a sign that things really will be okay.

~

A/N: Okay so… Quest For The Queen will have six parts… I think…

I DUNNO! NARUTO’S VOICE IS SO DIFFICULT! THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING! @book14reader totally knows what I’m talking about.

But I just really want to address Naruto in this series so here’s his spin-off!

Quest for the Queen, 2/6 (2016-04-29)

(two: resolution)

After the memorial, Naruto goes to the training grounds. He doesn’t want to get in the way at the hospital, even though part of him really wants to see Shikako because maybe in the past three hours since he’s last checked they’ve somehow figured out a way to heal her.

Hell, he wouldn’t mind at least being able to talk to Sasuke for five minutes because that way they can be miserable together. But no, both of his teammates are cordoned off to special areas of the hospital that he can’t get to.

He’s not entirely sure why he’s come here, though. It’s not like training is any fun without either of them, and it’s not like he can do much by himself. Maybe he can spar against some of his clones but that seems kind of lonely. And inevitably he’ll summon clones to fight his clones and then he gets confused as to which clones he originally created in the first place.

He would go to Ichiraku’s except he doesn’t feel hungry, not even for ramen. And going by himself, knowing both of his teammates are in the hospital, doesn’t sound appealing at all. So really all Naruto can do is sit on the bridge and stare morosely at the little creek flowing underneath it, trying very hard not to be reminded of that swing hanging just outside the Academy.

Which is how the pervy sage finds him, still in his funeral blacks, kicking his feet back and forth as if that’ll solve anything at all.

“There you are, you brat,” pervy sage says, as if Naruto was late for a planned meeting which, no way, he’s not Kaka-sensei.

“What do you want?” Naruto asks, immediately suspicious, because, sure, last time he hung out with the Jiraiya he did end up summoning a really huge toad but that’s only because the old pervert pushed him off a cliff and he ended up nearly sleeping through the finals so…

“Time to go,” he says, instead of answering Naruto’s question, “why haven’t you changed already? You can’t go on a mission like that.”

“I’m not going on a mission!”

“Not dressed like that, you aren’t,” Jiraiya says completely sidestepping Naruto’s protests, “and with no mission gear? Okay, tell you what, brat, I’ll give you thirty minutes to get ready before we go. Now shoo,”

“I can’t leave,” Naruto says instead of quietly obeying because when has he ever done that?

“Why not?” Jiraiya asks, finally seeming to hear him.

“Because!” he shouts, to give himself time to think, “We just got invaded! The village is going to need all the help it can get to clean up and I’m not going to just leave on some stupid mission with some old pervert! You’ll probably spend the entire time looking at ladies in the baths!”

Naruto hasn’t really known Jiraiya long, but even a few conversations is enough to know that such a statement should at least get the pervert leering stupidly at even the thought of naked ladies. Instead his expression seems to darken, turning stony and solemn and nearly angry.

Naruto’s not afraid, but he is suddenly wary now: this is not the perverted old man who can be tricked with some clones and a henge, this is an S-rank shinobi.

But maybe he is a little bit afraid, enough to show on his face, because Jiraiya seems to soften. Only a little, though.

“I’d have thought you’d want to help your teammate in the hospital,” he begins, musingly. “But if you don’t want to take this mission to find the best healer in the Elemental Nations and heal your friend, well. But if you’d rather sort through rubble then…”

Naruto stares, too surprised and full of hope to speak.

“I thought so,” The pervy sage smirks, victorious, “You’re down to twenty minutes now. I’ll see you at the main gate.”

Naruto has never packed faster in his life.

~

A/N: Paaaaart twoooooo…

Naruto is probably the most difficult for me to write but Jiraiya’s definitely in the top five as well so…

Quest for the Queen, 3/6 (2016-05-10)

(three: confrontation)

For the first few days, Naruto stays quiet. Or, well, quiet for him. He asks the perverted sage all sorts of questions and makes comments on the things they see, the places they go, and the people they meet. On more than one occasion, Jiraiya has told him to shut up, and Naruto tries as best as he can–which means in less than an hour he’ll forget himself and remark on something. But he doesn’t complain.

How can he? He and Jiraiya are going to find an amazing healer to heal Shikako and then everything will be alright! There’s no way he’s gonna complain–not even if, for the most part, the perverted sage makes him stay at the inn because “Like hell I’m going to bring a twelve year old into a brothel.”

Which, gets steadily more and more annoying. Naruto kind of figured a good chunk of their trip would involve the old man being perverted, but they’re wasting time!

It’s on day four that Naruto explodes, just as Jiraiya says he’s going to go to a bar.

“It’s still morning!” Naruto shouts because there’s annoying and then there’s horrible, “You’ve been going in and out of bars and brothels for the past four days and we’re nowhere near closer to this lady!”

Jiraiya’s hand smacks over Naruto’s face, in an attempt to prevent him from yelling more, “Quiet down brat,” he hisses, but Naruto has already squirmed out of his hold.

“I could just make a thousand clones and I’ll find that lady in no time!” Naruto suggests, because if he’s going to be honest this isn’t so much about the perverted sage being a pervert or a drunkard as much as it is about himself. Naruto hasn’t been doing anything productive and he’s feeling antsy.

“And give up the fact that someone’s after her?” Jiraiya scoffs, slapping him upside the head, “Thank, brat. She’ll go to ground in seconds and we’ll never track her down. She’s cured a lot of very influential people, some who wouldn’t mind exchanging sanctuary for a live-in miracle healer. My contacts will help us figure out where she is, but they’re not going to be any help if you’ve made it obvious we’re searching for her.”

Oh. Well… he guesses he never thought about it like that. Shikako would have. She would have caught on way in the beginning instead of spending four days not knowing what was going on. And she would have explained it to him, too, so that he’d understand.

But if she were here, then they wouldn’t even be on this mission to find this healer lady.

“Then what do I do?” Naruto asks, because while it might make sense for the pervert sage to go to bars and brothels, he can’t exactly do the same thing.

Jiraiya hums musingly, glancing thoughtfully at the sky as if in deep thought, dramatically snapping his fingers. “I’m going to teach you a powerful jutsu,” he says, before stretching out his hand. In the center of his palm a swirling ball of chakra appears. He smirks and leans in, as if he’s telling a secret:

“It’s called the Rasengan.”

He’ll admit it: he did get distracted by the Rasengan. It is undeniably a cool and powerful jutsu–even if it’s being taught to him by a super pervert (then again, all of his teachers have been perverts of some degree or another)–but still, he should have been more focused on what the mission is even for.

So what if he can pop a water balloon and a rubber ball with chakra? That’s not going to help Shikako!

After a week of training they’ve passed through different towns, but they may as well all be the same because Jiraiya knows where all the bars and bathhouses and brothels are and that’s where he spends his time. Their time. The time they should be using to actually find this healer lady and bring her back to Konoha!

“If this were your teammate you wouldn’t be wasting time like this!” Naruto shouts, finally fed up and impatient, because Shikako has been in the hospital for weeks and what if–what if he never sees her again? what if, before they get back, her condition turns worse? what if it’s all his fault because he didn’t come back in time?

Jiraiya’s irritation swiftly slides into anger: a chilling, stony thing.

“Which teammate are you talking about?” He asks so coldly, “The one that hasn’t been to Konoha in decades, who has run around the Land of Fire doing whatever she wants and ignoring the consequences? Or the one that tried to invade Konoha, and killed our sensei? The one that your teammate killed.”

Naruto gulps, the killing intent a pressure against his spine, behind his eyes. He can’t speak.

“Maybe I should let your teammate die,” he ponders, still so dark and cold, “What’s one more person after everyone who died in the invasion? She went up against an S-rank shinobi, after all, genin don’t survive those kinds of odds.” He finishes pointedly, a not so subtle comparison between the situation now: Jiraiya, an S-rank, and Naruto, a mere genin.

Instead, of being scared of the threat, though, Naruto gets angry: “If you do that, you’re no better than that snake freak. Shikako’s a hero! Ranks didn’t matter to her and they don’t matter to me, either! I’m going to find this healer lady with or without your help!” And because it’s been on his mind lately, he tries to create a Rasengan–except he hasn’t gone on to the last step.

His chakra swirls, smooth and strong, but he doesn’t have control yet. It dissipates in a matter of moments.

Jiraiya snorts derisively, “And how are you going to do that? You haven’t even mastered the Rasengan yet?” In a swift movement, he goes around Naruto and pushes him to the ground, an imperious sandal keeping him there, “You can’t even protect yourself, much less your friend.”

Even though Jiraiya’s tone has gentled, his words hit the mark.

“I know!” Naruto shouts into the dirt, near sobbing with frustration, “I know I’m too weak, I know I can’t protect myself yet. But I can’t just do nothing!” The pressure on his back releases, and Naruto scrambles to his feet, scrubbing furiously at his cheeks, “I don’t care who I have to fight or what I have to do. I’m going to get stronger and I’m not going to let that happen to her again!”

Jiraiya sighs, looking skyward before meeting Naruto’s eyes. “Save me from genin with no self preservation,” he says, exasperated, but no longer a emitting a cloud of killing intent.

They stand in silence; Naruto’s breath heaving, Jiraiya assessing, before he turns around and leads the way, “I’ve heard news that Tsunade might be in this town, so keep your tantrums to yourself.”

“They’re not–!”

“But it’s good, that you’re so loyal to your friend,” he continues, not even looking back at Naruto, “She’ll need that when she wakes up.”

It’s not until they find and talk to Tsunade, does Naruto understand what he meant.

~

A/N: this is a really good spot to end this part but it’s a little early according to what i planned out so…

okay so I’m still pretty sure it’s only going to be six parts but I may have to… shift some things around from my original outline…

also! since this is an AU in which the whole Tsukuyomi debacle has been sidestepped because of ~reasons~ Jiraiya gets to have the “genin with no self preservation” conversation with Naruto instead of Shikako. Although he probably also has that conversation with her… or someone does. Trying to take on an S-rank missing nin? That’s silly, Shikako.

Hail To The Queen: Or, Some Ways Shikako Never Became The Hokage, 1/? (2016-04-18)

jacksgreysays:

jacksgreysays:

(one: she who kills the kingslayer)

There was a tradition, in a different land, from a different life, that he who killed the king would then become the king. For if one could kill the king, then hasn’t one already conquered the kingdom?

That is not the case in Konoha, not really. The Shodaime was founder, and the Nidaime his brother, the Sandaime their student, and the Yondaime a war hero. The hat–the crown–passed down amicably, if not peacefully.

But the logic remains, in its own way, and could easily be applied. For if the Hokage is the strongest shinobi of Konoha, then the one who kills him proves they are even stronger: and, by definition, ought to become the next Hokage.

So what does that mean, for the girl who kills the monster that killed the Sandaime Hokage?

On her way to the stadium, she observes that the adults are wary, tense and prepared, waiting for something to happen. They know about an impending attack, yes, but they don’t know the details. They know the enemy is Sound and Sand, they even know Orochimaru is involved, but they don’t know the full truth.

Shikako does.

She steers her growing group closer to the Kage’s box, because even if she knows it’s mostly a product of the rigorous desensitization of the Academy, she is still a shinobi of Konoha, sworn to protect it’s leader.

And when the feathers fall, when everyone else is busy shaking off the genjutsu and dodging attacks from disguised Sound and Sand shinobi, Shikako looks up.

The Kazekage, no, Orochimaru has held the Sandaime hostage, has dragged him up to the roof of the stadium to start a battle that Shikako knows will lead to the Hokage’s death if he fights alone.

But the adults know, surely someone will be able react in time? Instead Sand shinobi, no, the Sound Four, rebuff their attempts long enough for the Sandaime to be isolated. Long enough for them to position themselves onto the four corners of the roof–Shikako knows that if they get the barrier up then it really will be all over for the Sandaime. She has to act now!

“Be ready to attack whoever comes here,” she says in a rush, hoping her friends hear her.

A barrier in the shape of a rectangular prism simply cannot exist if one of the four corners is switched out. And Shikako has practiced the Replacement Jutsu an awful lot recently.

The barrier fails and the shock of it is enough that some of the ANBU can engage the Sound Four–the Sound Three, right now–in their distraction while others rush the newly revealed Orochimaru.

But he summons the Shodaime and Nidaime and they were not Hokage for nothing and even the best trained ANBU can fall before legends.

The battle is above Shikako’s ability, truly, for she has grown stronger but not on par with this. But she can pull her chakra in, become invisible, strike when an opening arises.

Orochimaru still kills the Sandaime, despite the additional help, but the Shinigami also still takes away the use of his arms and that is opening enough. He is not expecting a mere genin to sneak behind him and tap the largest, most lethal touch blast she can think of onto his obi, and so that is what she does.

She is not fast enough to get completely outside the blast radius because she didn’t give herself time to do so–it would have given Orochimaru time to escape, somehow, too. And so, as the massive explosion detonates, an enormous fireball of light and heat scorching her eyes, she hopes that this will all be worth it.

Shikako wakes up in a hospital bed, one month later, to Tsunade Senju’s smirking face and is summarily informed that the Slug Sannin has not returned to Konoha to become the Godaime Hokage.

No, she has returned to heal the Godaime Hokage.

~

A/N: Hahahaha… haha… ha… uh. This was supposed to be hella shorter because this wasn’t supposed to actually become a series 😡 this was supposed to be a bunch of tiny drabbles all contained in one post but apparently my brain was like… nah. You gotta make it longer. You just gotta. Goddamnit, brain…

So this one is for you, anon who wanted to see Shikako as Hokage. The first of several ways she will never become Hokage.

Quest For The Queen, 1/6 (2016-04-26)

(one: ending)

The funeral is a miserable thing, somber and serious and everyone wearing black and standing in neat rows. The sky is dark, clouds heavy like the weight on his shoulders, and if Naruto were ever to hate something it would be this.

He never wants to go to another funeral again.

He knows it’s stupid, but he wants to make it so that a funeral never happens again.

He knows death is part of life, he’s not that dumb. He knows that he can’t actually prevent death, but maybe he can become strong enough to prevent this kind of funeral from happening. He’d rather have gone to a funeral after Hokage-jiji died peacefully in his sleep, or from losing too much blood from a giant perverted nose bleed, or something like he ate too much and his stomach exploded.

He hates this helpless feeling, standing around quietly as his inability to protect his precious people is rubbed in his face:

Hokage-jiji and so many other Konoha shinobi dead.

Sasuke back in lockdown in case the curse seal takes advantage of his chakra exhaustion.

Shikako in a medically induced coma, put in the intensive care stasis room because her entire body is covered in third and fourth degree burn–he didn’t even know there was such a thing as fourth degree burns.

All Naruto has to show for the attack are some bandages on his face.

And then it starts raining.

“Why do people do it? Why do they risk their lives for other people?” He blurts out, the questions scratching away at his throat because he’s trying so hard not to cry.

Iruka-sensei answers him, something about people being tied together even after someone passes away. How the memory of that person will still live through their family and friends and loved ones. And if Naruto had been talking about Hokage-jiji it might have helped, but if anything it makes him feel worse because he’s not thinking about Hokage-jiji–he’s thinking about Shikako.

She might be the next funeral he goes to, the thought flickers so quickly through his mind that he can’t even squash it before it registers.

“So we do it because we have to. Sort of,” he says, because that at least makes sense. Shikako tried to save Hokage-jiji, even if that meant fighting the freaky snake bastard who had already beaten all three of them in the forest. She was willing to risk her life for that smallest possibility she could save him, “Still, I’m worried for her.”

Iruka-sensei looks confused for a moment before understanding dawns on his face. His eyes dart away, guilty, for not having interpreted Naruto’s question correctly.

Kakashi-sensei, who snuck in late but was stealthy enough to not make a disturbance, puts a careful hand on Naruto’s shoulder and squeezes. He’s worried, too. Too worried to say anything.

Which means that Naruto has to be the one to speak.

“But Shikako’s strong,” he says, because it’s true. He’s never known her to be anything but strong, “She’ll definitely recover,” he adds because maybe if he says it, that will also become true. “Believe it!” He says, even as he struggles to do the same.

The sun comes out and starts to shine, and Naruto hopes that it’s a sign that things really will be okay.

~

A/N: Okay so… Quest For The Queen will have six parts… I think…

I DUNNO! NARUTO’S VOICE IS SO DIFFICULT! THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING! @book14reader totally knows what I’m talking about.

But I just really want to address Naruto in this series so here’s his spin-off!

Quest for the Queen, 2/6 (2016-04-29)

(two: resolution)

After the memorial, Naruto goes to the training grounds. He doesn’t want to get in the way at the hospital, even though part of him really wants to see Shikako because maybe in the past three hours since he’s last checked they’ve somehow figured out a way to heal her.

Hell, he wouldn’t mind at least being able to talk to Sasuke for five minutes because that way they can be miserable together. But no, both of his teammates are cordoned off to special areas of the hospital that he can’t get to.

He’s not entirely sure why he’s come here, though. It’s not like training is any fun without either of them, and it’s not like he can do much by himself. Maybe he can spar against some of his clones but that seems kind of lonely. And inevitably he’ll summon clones to fight his clones and then he gets confused as to which clones he originally created in the first place.

He would go to Ichiraku’s except he doesn’t feel hungry, not even for ramen. And going by himself, knowing both of his teammates are in the hospital, doesn’t sound appealing at all. So really all Naruto can do is sit on the bridge and stare morosely at the little creek flowing underneath it, trying very hard not to be reminded of that swing hanging just outside the Academy.

Which is how the pervy sage finds him, still in his funeral blacks, kicking his feet back and forth as if that’ll solve anything at all.

“There you are, you brat,” pervy sage says, as if Naruto was late for a planned meeting which, no way, he’s not Kaka-sensei.

“What do you want?” Naruto asks, immediately suspicious, because, sure, last time he hung out with the Jiraiya he did end up summoning a really huge toad but that’s only because the old pervert pushed him off a cliff and he ended up nearly sleeping through the finals so…

“Time to go,” he says, instead of answering Naruto’s question, “why haven’t you changed already? You can’t go on a mission like that.”

“I’m not going on a mission!”

“Not dressed like that, you aren’t,” Jiraiya says completely sidestepping Naruto’s protests, “and with no mission gear? Okay, tell you what, brat, I’ll give you thirty minutes to get ready before we go. Now shoo,”

“I can’t leave,” Naruto says instead of quietly obeying because when has he ever done that?

“Why not?” Jiraiya asks, finally seeming to hear him.

“Because!” he shouts, to give himself time to think, “We just got invaded! The village is going to need all the help it can get to clean up and I’m not going to just leave on some stupid mission with some old pervert! You’ll probably spend the entire time looking at ladies in the baths!”

Naruto hasn’t really known Jiraiya long, but even a few conversations is enough to know that such a statement should at least get the pervert leering stupidly at even the thought of naked ladies. Instead his expression seems to darken, turning stony and solemn and nearly angry.

Naruto’s not afraid, but he is suddenly wary now: this is not the perverted old man who can be tricked with some clones and a henge, this is an S-rank shinobi.

But maybe he is a little bit afraid, enough to show on his face, because Jiraiya seems to soften. Only a little, though.

“I’d have thought you’d want to help your teammate in the hospital,” he begins, musingly. “But if you don’t want to take this mission to find the best healer in the Elemental Nations and heal your friend, well. But if you’d rather sort through rubble then…”

Naruto stares, too surprised and full of hope to speak.

“I thought so,” The pervy sage smirks, victorious, “You’re down to twenty minutes now. I’ll see you at the main gate.”

Naruto has never packed faster in his life.

~

A/N: Paaaaart twoooooo…

Naruto is probably the most difficult for me to write but Jiraiya’s definitely in the top five as well so…