Friendship is a (mutual) con. 20) things you said that I wasn’t meant to hear

Friendship Is A (Mutual) Con, 20) things you said that I wasn’t meant to hear

He doesn’t mean to trip.

Hardly anyone means to trip, but he especially didn’t mean to do so now, back stepping as quickly as he could after listening in on his sister’s conversation with her weird friends.

Mum sent him to the shop to bring some things for Shikako and remind her about family dinner on Saturday. He didn’t really think much about the closed sign or the locked door: Shikako’s been teaching him lockpicking, on the off chance he might want to follow her in her business and because it’s a handy skill to have, or so she says, and he knew she was there and thought maybe it was a test because it’s not as if business hours mean anything to family, right? Except she didn’t appear when the bell above the door jingled, and he heard yelling coming from the back room and so he went further into the shop (after locking the door behind him, of course) but when he got close enough to actually hear the words more clearly–to understand them–he realized it wasn’t an argument.

Well, it was an argument only in the sense that there was a lot of shouting and disagreements.

Mostly, it was a plan for a heist.

And at first it didn’t make any sense because… because Shikako’s supposed to build vaults and locks and safes not break into them! But there was her voice, logical and methodical, painting such a clear and feasible picture that eventually the argument–the planning–simmered down into agreement.

And in that silence, Kinokawa realized what he heard. And he tried to back away, so as not to get caught, but Shikako only ever trained him in lock picking not any of her other, apparent, criminal inclinations and so in his hurry, he tripped…

… and knocked over the stand of antique keys Shikako keeps to build custom modern locks for fun.

Naruto is the one who gets to him first–or rather, leaps over him to get between Kinokawa and the exit–but Sasuke is the one that pulls him to his feet. Roughly, at first, until he sees Kinokawa’s face, hands gentling almost immediately.

Kinokawa flinches anyway. Not so much out of fear but out of shock. Has everyone Kinokawa known his entire life secretly been criminals this whole time?

Shikako finally follows, her weird pale and quiet friend in her shadow, and the air suddenly goes taught like a string about to snap.

He wants to blurt out excuses, wants to wipe his memory, wants to undo time and just wait in the front of the shop where there weren’t secrets and criminal plans being flung about for little brothers to hear. He wants to apologize.

Shikako gets to it first.

“Ah, I should fix this,” she says, before kneeling down and beginning to pick up the scattered antique keys on the ground.

Reflexively, he does the same. Slipping out of Sasuke’s loosened grip and picking up keys. Shikako glances up, gives her friends–fellow criminals?–a look, and the three of them leave.

It’s quiet but for the soft clinking of keys in cupped palms, the stand being brought back upright, and the somewhat out of tune low humming Shikako does as she works.

It is weirdly soothing, organizing the keys by their labeled tags back onto the stand, that Kinokawa almost startles when his sister speaks again.

“I’m sorry, Kino,” she says, elbow lightly jostling his shoulder as she puts another key in its place. “You weren’t supposed to hear any of that.”

For a moment, Kinokawa pauses. He knows Shikako would never do anything bad to him, but that thought still flashes across his mind–Nara quick and prone to paranoia.

“I hope we didn’t scare you,” Shikako continues. Kinokawa feels relieved followed immediately by bubbling guilt at feeling such.

“No!” Kinokawa denies, assures, “I wasn’t–I’m not scared.”

Shikako smiles, but it’s a kind of sad, disbelieving smile. “You weren’t supposed to find out this way. Although, I guess there are worse ways.”

Another thought comes to Kinokawa, “Were… were you ever going to tell me?” And another, left unasked: am I the only one who doesn’t know?

Shikako answers both, sighing, “I don’t know. A part of me wanted to tell you–all of you, Shikamaru and Mum and Dad–about what I really do–I do so much good, Kino, I can’t even count how many people we’ve helped–but it’s not like I can just say it during family dinner.”

No, certainly not. Definitely not with their dad being the governor’s chief of staff, or Mum being a police sergeant, or even Shikamaru’s own budding career as a behavioral analyst with the FBI.

Kinokawa can see why Shikako would keep her job–hobby?–a secret.

“I can keep it,” Kinokawa volunteers, because he knows his sister wants to ask but doesn’t think she can. But he’s not a baby anymore, “I can keep it secret,” he repeats, “Until you’re ready to tell them,” he adds.

From the shaky smile on Shikako’s face, it’s her turn to feel relieved, and she pulls him into a hug.

I’m a trans woman and I _Can’t_ be out. It’s not safe. So about the only concession I can make is to grow my hair long. And I caught a glimpse of my shadow out of the corner of my eye today, with long hair just curling up at the ends and … I dunno, my heart just about broke from Want. Would you mind accepting a prompt for a world where Shadows Show the Future? Or something like that?

A/N1: Hey sister, I’m sorry it took so long for me to respond and I’m even more sorry that you are unable to be yourself. But I’m glad that you have reached out, that you have that small comfort to revel in your identity, and I hope that someday soon you will be able to do so completely.

Be strong, be safe, and know that we are here for you. I would love to fill this prompt for you; thank you for bringing it to me.

~

1) Shadows Also Dream: Or, Eerin Nara* is Not a Jedi

There is no Light side, there is no Dark side, there is only the Force.

Eerin breathes, lets the waves of natural chakra wash over him, meditates and centers himself. The sun is only beginning it’s climb into the sky, cold air damp with dew.

This is nothing compared to his Mum’s morning stretches.

Around him he can feel the other students do the same, can feel them harmonize their chakra to each other, to their teacher’s…

… all except for one.

He opens his eyes and meets someone else’s–Ben Organa, Master Luke’s nephew, though that’s not really how he’s supposed to be considered.

Just another student like everyone else.

The sun is still rising, casting long shadows across the ground. His family would consider it strategically ideal.

Ben’s eyes widen in surprise, before he turns away, red creeping along his cheeks. Embarrassment more than anger, but not without the latter.

Eerin closes his eyes–quick so as to avoid Master Luke’s attention, but long enough for what really matters.

A figure in armor, helmet, and cloak. A lightsaber held high over fallen bodies.

There is no Light side, there is no Dark side, there is only the Force. But even then: Eerin doesn’t need to be a user of Light to save lives.

~

2) Counterclockwise (Sundials Don’t Rust): Or, Leanne Peridot Apparently Has More Than One Sister

There are three things about the future Regina knows to be true:

Galileo will never betray her.

Her visions are never wrong.

She will one day kill her father.

That last one has less to do with her abilities and more to do with her determination.

Of course, whose to say how any of that will come to pass.

Perhaps Galileo will never betray her because he will die long before he ever could–their line of work far from safe, and him in the thick of things.

Perhaps her visions are never wrong, but her interpretation of them–lacking context–may very well be.

And perhaps instead of killing her father, he will end up killing her instead. Or perhaps he’ll drink himself to death, or he’ll have a heart attack, or he’ll slip on a wet sidewalk and crack his head open.

She’ll never have that problem, at least. Her eyes are always on the ground, always steps ahead of everyone else just by looking at their shadow.

Until, one day, her father’s shadow changes.

Ah, so she really will kill him one day.

Unless he has another daughter who will beat her to the punch.

~

3) Walking Around (Eyes Wide Open): Or, Sakako Uchiha Does Not See Dead People

In a family of shadow manipulators, it’s easy enough to ignore.

At first.

For the Nara, silhouettes are less about physics and more about discipline and creativity. Despite her name, the Nara genes run strong, and there is no harm in that.

By itself.

But she is still the Uchiha heiress, and whether or not curse of her bloodline is fact or superstition, it still flows through her veins.

The Sharingan. Once it sees something, it can never forget.

But maybe, if she doesn’t understand–if she chooses not to–then it doesn’t matter. Just strange shapes upon the ground instead of messages from beyond.

Mum doesn’t often speak about her younger years–it is in the past, she says, to be learned from but not drag us down–but Sakako understands enough:

Knowledge is both power and responsibility.

Once she takes that step, she can never go back.

~

A/N2: Three different fills! Just trying to get a feel for this ability, because it seems very cool but I don’t know if I fully understand it as a mechanism yet. I might come back to it in the future! 😀

So “Eerin Nara” is the Stars Also Dream equivalent of Kinokawa Nara. Going with the idea that the closest thing SAD!Yoshino had to family was her Jedi Master Bant Eerin, not the Kinokawas who, while very nice, didn’t really understand her.

I have some ideas for what kanji the name Eerin would use, but I’m not sure which is the best. Not that his kanji is important in a writing sense, given I write in English, but I like having that little tidbit of ~flavoring~. Kanji possibilities under the cut for anyone else interested.

Ask Box Advent Calendar is on!

Ee
慧 (wisdom, enlightenment, insight)
影 (shadow, reflection, image, light, trace)
映 (reflect, harmonize, to project, to cast [a shadow])
栄 (glory, prosperity, to shine/glow)

Rin
倫 (ethics, morals)
臨 (to peek through, to examine, to face)
理 (reason, truth, justice)

“No Shadows (Without something to cast them)” … I swear I had a pithier title when I thought the concept up (it’s spiraling from the musing on eeveelutions, but you don’t need to keep it to that universe). The idea that … you know, shadows don’t exist unless something else does? I swear I had a, like, three-word title for it right up until I started typing it out.

No worries, anon, I get you. Like, yes, shadows require light, but JUST light alone won’t lead to a shadow. There needs to be an object for the light to be blocked by…

Unfortunately… I’m not sure what else you’re looking for with this prompt? Obviously it’s a Nara focused story, but not necessarily in the Arm in Arm ‘verse?

… this title very much reminds me of “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” – Abraham Lincoln.

Or, rather, the DoS Switch variant of it “Family is like a tree and life is like a shadow.”

So along with your title suggestion, that would mean no family, no shadows?

Which would be a story about… how a lone Nara dies, but the pack survives kind of vibe? Or maybe extended further out–the Nara clan alone would die without the Akimichi and Yamanaka as allies? Or EVEN further out in which the Nara are in every department of Konoha’s administration contributing to the village as a whole because the strength of the village means the strength of the clan?

… I think that’s too far out.

Maybe a nice “behind the scenes” Nara members, supporting the main family as best they can (even when they cause irritation headaches that Kofuku-oba would have sworn she stopped having after Shikaku settled down).

But would anything ever be as sweet and heartening as Silver Queen’s own Sunshine Sidestory Chapter 21?

Eh, the clan is big enough, I can do other members and their tales. Tails? Heeeeeey deer herders. Or how the Nara clan changed over time?

Like, I don’t know if this is fanon or my own headcanon, but I claim that the ANY alliance was originally the Akimichi as landowners/nobles and the Nara and Yamanaka as their servants which then became allies then friends. So that journey of clan politics?

I’m floundering, anon, sorry.

Shikaku with Leafeon and Yoshino with Umbreon, tho. ‘Cause Leafeon requires a stone (costs money), but Umbreon only requires friendship and the night. And … well, what if the eeveelutions they ended up with only clicked after they met each other?

OOOooooOOOOoooOOh!! (☆▽☆)

I like this idea very much, anon.

TWO Eeveelutions in the family watching over the Nara kids and being cuddle partners. And while neither of the twins ended up with an Eeveelution themselves, maybe Kinokawa has one (OR TWO?)

Fic: ‘light the way’ for Stars Also Dream verse

This isn’t related, anon, but can I just say that this choice of title resonates so nicely with me? More specifically, with my own OC, Tetsuki Kaiza from Trailblazers. Hey? Lighting the way~

Eh, anyway, this title seems like not within the SAD timeline, if that makes any sense. Within the same ‘verse, of course, but some time after the events of SAD (which is Yoshino getting involved in Episode IV, at least).

Maybe Light the Way is the title for the Episode V equivalent? But that seems like a bit of a cop out for this ask box event…

Unless this isn’t Yoshino’s story at all… maybe it’s Shikako’s?

OR MAYBE IT’S KINOKAWA’S?! (☆▽☆)

… I mean, timing-wise, Kinokawa would be about the same age as Poe Dameron–a little older than Rey and Finn–which means he could be the Yoshino equivalent for the sequel trilogy.

And given SAD starts while Yoshino is pregnant with Kinokawa, it’d be thematically appropriate for him to be her most Force sensitive child and, depending on if she reveals her heritage, the one she trains in its ways?

But he’s definitely not a Jedi. He just happens to know how to use the Force, is all.

I really do like that idea, but I don’t know what else I can say about it without two out of three of the sequel trilogy…

Kinokawa, Space Shinobi!

… oh no… did he know Ben when they were younger? Is he the Naruto to Kylo Ren’s Sasuke? O_O

~

Ask Box Event Now Open!

#62: “When we die, we come back different, like, with greener eyes, or as some far off star.” Shikako, before and after

When we die, we come back different,
like, with greener eyes,
or as some far off star
(you’ll be someone you wouldn’t understand)

(The Bustle In A House)

She stares at the photograph heedlessly, watching the trail of smoke from the incense beside it on the altar. Around her, her clan members murmur. She could eavesdrop if she cared enough, but she doesn’t bother.

She already knows what they’re saying.

The photograph.

Kinokawa died of old age, older even than Sembei-obaasan, almost as wrinkled and bald as the day he was born. He’s smiling in his portrait; it’s accurate, he was a happy man and lived a happy life.

Shikadai stands behind her, enough noise in his step to be audible. Shinobi manners, the polite way to nonverbally request attention.

She turns to look at her nephew. There are lines around his eyes and gray in his hair. He’s a grandfather, has already passed the role of clan head onto his daughter, Shikai. He looks so old.

She… doesn’t.

“Kako,” Shikadai says, simply, but those two syllables are loaded. It’s affection and shared mourning, of course, but that he calls her that at all–without the honorific–a thin veneer of plausible deniability against the truth.

She doesn’t look old enough to be his aunt. She can no longer be Shikako Nara.

It might be time for her to leave Konoha. For good.

///

(Stories of Ancient Gods)

In her convalescence, she keeps herself distracted–if she doesn’t think about how she died, then it must not have happened, surely?–sealing projects and kunoichi meetings and all the secrets she’s taken from Gelel.

She doesn’t mention the whispers in her dreams. She definitely doesn’t mention that they sometimes follow her in her waking hours.

That isn’t the only thing that followed her from the desert.

When the Gelel shrine broke, life energy flowed back into the Dead Wastes, an impromptu oasis sprouting where not even desert fauna could endure. But Konoha is so green already and she’s been keeping herself busy, she hasn’t noticed what’s been sprouting in her footsteps (why would she look behind her, when that’s where unpleasant truths live?)

The last Ancient could make flowers bloom in a land devoid of life.

It’s only a coincidence that Konoha’s lost bloodline could do the same. (But what a dangerous coincidence it will turn out to be).

~

A/N: I wasn’t really sure what you meant by before and after, anon, but hopefully these will suffice?

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

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

Okay that Colour Time AU cleared up my acne and also saved my soul. I, too, am here for Sai’s colourful animals THROWING THEMSELVES AT THE WALL in the most colourful nO YOUTHFUL DEATH EVER OKAY BUT TEAM GAI HELPING OUT AT COLOUR TIME

OF COURSE TEAM GAI WOULD BE ON COLOUR TIME! 😀

Lee, learning that Art isn’t about quantity or speed–there’s no competition in art–it’s about getting in touch with your emotions. Which is his JAM. Neji somehow despite all the paint flying around, remaining perfectly spotless. TenTen taking on Naruto’s challenge for most interesting methods to paint with a FLURRY OF PAINT COVERED WEAPONRY.

Now I’m not saying TenTen invents the Naruto world’s equivalent of paintball, but I’m also not NOT saying that.

Gai, unsurprisingly, is uncannily talented. At heart he is a True Artist. Martial arts, painting, singing, etc. He possibly teaches or shows up during kunoichi classes as a prime example of the “nine in one” ultimate kunoichi?

But yes. Colour Time. I’m sure everyone makes a cameo in Colour Time at some point or another. Unsurprisingly, Yakumo is a recurring guest. Possibly Kino-chan and his genin team are the most frequently recurring team as well.