Jiraiya and Naruto, #47, any AU

Remember to Sleep, 47) things you said in a hotel room

Jiraiya’s at the hotel bar–and, yeah, maybe it’s a little early in the day for a drink or three, but who’s checking?–when he sees it: the briefest glimpse of all too familiar blonde hair.

He shakes his head, mutters to himself, “Don’t get your hopes up,” and goes back to his drink. It’s impossible, what he’s thinking, and besides, there’s a pair of beautiful young ladies who look like they might appreciate some excellent company.

He signals for the bartender to send over some complimentary drinks (mimosas, apparently, not like the princess who would appreciate harder liquor) and gets ready to put on some moves.

Fifteen minutes and a double dousing of socially acceptable daytime drinks in his face later, he spots it again: bright and messy, even through the champagne and orange juice in his eyes. This is a sign, no doubt, destiny telling him to follow–why else would those lovely ladies reject his advances?

The bartender, unimpressed but dutiful, passes Jiraiya a towel to wipe his face. Taking the opportunity, he asks, “What’s going on in the ballroom?”

The bartender shrugs, “Some kind of science convention. Not too sure. I’m hoping it’s medical–doctors really know how to drink.”

Jiraiya rolls his eyes, “You’re telling me.” But that’s a sob story for a different bartender, maybe, and he’s got an entirely different blonde to chase down.

According to the signs, it is indeed ‘some kind of science convention’. More specifically, one for cybernetic augmentations and enhancements. It is, unfortunately, hauntingly familiar stomping grounds for him.

Most of the names listed for panels are old or uninteresting–one of the main reasons he’s stopped coming to these things, even if they do offer all expenses paid. How this is supposed to be about innovations when it’s the same people rehashing the same tech is beyond him–except one of the smaller rooms, practically in fine print at the bottom of the itinerary, has a name he’s never seen before.

Not new to him entirely (Nara is common enough, almost a household name given the reach of their pharmaceuticals and the fact that practically everyone is medicated these days) but definitely new to this particular arena. Cautious branching out, maybe? That would explain why they have a small room instead of space in the main ballroom.

Except when Jiraiya gets to the room listed, it’s packed. Overflowing, practically. If he weren’t who he was, and the staff at the door hadn’t recognized him, he might not have gotten in–as is, it’s a tight squeeze. Which he wouldn’t mind if it were a crowd of buxom beauties, but, alas, he is surrounded by sweaty nerds. But why is such a popular panel in such a tiny room?

Or, maybe, he should be wondering: why is this Nara panel so popular?

Except once he gets to the front–“it’s such an honor that you’re here, sir, and also a surprise. We weren’t told you’d be here, but of course you’re more than welcome. Such an honor, please, there’s VIP seating,”–even that question flees from his mind.

Because sitting just next to that (surprisingly young and pretty, nothing like that stony-faced punk Shikaku) newcomer Nara is Minato…

… but not.

That’s definitely Minato’s god-awful hair, and damned too blue eyes, but it’s in a face more like Kushina’s. That’s definitely her smile on that brat’s face, aimed with laser accuracy at the Nara girl beside him.

“What the hell is going on?”

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Also, I just wanted to add that I really liked the initial vision of it, with the ninja!PR-equivalent and Shikaku confused and impressed at the buck who gets his antlers stuck in trees (which is an amusing image for Shikako to be filling, too ^_^ )

Thanks! Yeah, the weird bleak future fic thing is in no way canon for that particular ‘verse, it was just the only thing that would be written.

Do you know the Girl Genius comics? That mention of Shikako humming as she worked made me want to prompt you for them–although asking for a “whole new” recursive AU for this event might be a bit much, lol :/ :)

I vaguely know of it but I’ve never actually read it, sorry lionheadbookends. Actually, I’m only aware of it because I’m a fan of Gunnerkrigg Court (as are you! given your avatar) and there was a card game they did together? But it was a while ago…

I’d be more prepared to do that as a new recursive AU though perhaps not in the same way. Like… instead of Shikako as the humming girl genius, it’d probably expand out to Konoha peeps are those from The Forest (or, at least, Shikako is Shadow) and other characters are from The Court… I dunno, I’d have to ponder it some more…

Oh, could you also do 32 (Wouldn’t Understand), for basically any “from another world” person? I love seeing the ways having a remembered past life from another culture makes someone feel/appear separate from the people around them.

32) things you said I wouldn’t understand

Viridescent: Or, Tetsuki Goes Feudal

“Consider me your private tutor,” says the girl seated at the table beside Kagome’s family. The weirdest thing isn’t that the girl is a stranger and yet has settled in as if she’s always had a place, or that she’s not far from Kagome in age and yet Mama and Grandpa look so trusting of her, or even that she’s wearing a sharp black suit more suited to business men than teenage girls in their very traditional shrine house.

No, the weirdest thing is the way that, when Kagome enters the house after an exhausting and filthy two weeks in the feudal era, Inuyasha just a few steps behind her, the girl doesn’t seem surprised at all.

She can definitely see Inuyasha–the both of them had been flat-footed, hadn’t thought to be wary of strangers in the house proper–but she keeps her eyes on Kagome.

“No worries,” the girl adds, after Kagome and Inuyasha have exchanged an entire conversation of looks, “I’m very discrete and very good at my job.” Mama nods, reassured.

“Which is… my private tutor?” Kagome asks, baffled. It’s true that her grades have been slipping what with all the absences in favor of time traveling, demon-slaying adventures, but getting her a private tutor seems ineffective at best and a hindrance at worst. She’s not entirely sure what Mama is thinking.

“Yes. We’ll make quite the warrior priestess out of you yet.”

The private tutor, Reborn, as she prefers to be called, is only more bewildering the longer Kagome gets to know her. She prowls around the shrine–looking for what, Kagome doesn’t know–barely bats an eye at Inuyasha even when he bares his claws at her, and has set up a makeshift archery range towards the back of the property with an array of targets and an alarming pulley and rope system.

“Traditional kyuudo is, of course, lovely and useful in its own way. An internal core of peace and discipline is nothing to scoff at,” Reborn lectures even as she physically herds Kagome toward the archery range. Kagome, who has just returned home from school after a grueling day of exams, is in no state to put up much of a fight. Nor is she in a state to go through with some kind of archery gauntlet, either.

“But it’s not terribly practical, now is it?” Reborn asks as she finally places Kagome inside of a small circle denoted by a rope braided with paper. “In a world of creatures much stronger than you, the only way archery will be able to do anything is if you’re fast and accurate.” She hands Kagome a bow and steps back to where a series of ropes hang down.

“Hit one hundred targets and protect your circle,” Reborn says, a bright, expectant, and somewhat sadistic smile spreading across her face. She tosses what looks like a water balloon up in the air and catches it; Kagome doesn’t think the water balloons are filled with water.

Kagome tries to back away, out of the circle, and finds that she cannot. “You didn’t give me any arrows!”

“One hundred targets,” Reborn almost sing-songs in response, “I won’t let you out a moment sooner.”

After a grueling several of hours of manifesting spiritual energy into arrows, trying and frequently failing to hit the moving targets, getting covered in slime that somehow reminds Kagome of that one fight against a slug youkai but far worse, Reborn finally breaks the barrier.

Then she breaks out the gardening hose even though it’s late fall, nighttime, and the water is no doubt barely above freezing. “It would be rude to track slime into the house,” Reborn scolds, “Mama already has so much to do. And plus, a warm bath will just be a quick sprint away; surely you’ve had much worse during your travels.”

True, but Kagome’s not used to having to deal with that in the modern times!

“Now, what was your first mistake?” Reborn asks pleasantly even as she blasts Kagome with frigid water.

She screeches at the temperature, “You’re awful!”

“Maybe,” Reborn acquiesces with an easy shrug, “But that doesn’t answer my question. If you really didn’t want to go through this entire ordeal, your first mistake was not breaking the barrier.”

“But you said–”

“I said I wouldn’t let you out until you hit a hundred targets–which took far longer than I would have expected, we’ll work on that–but I didn’t say that you couldn’t let yourself out.”

“But I don’t know how to,” Kagome argues, teeth starting to chatter. Futilely, she wraps her arms around herself for warmth.

Reborn raises an eyebrow at that, an almost disappointed look gracing her face. Then she sighs, shakes her head, and tosses a towel directly at Kagome’s face. “I guess we’ll have to work on that, too.”

After a bath and dinner, right before Kagome tries to speak to Mama privately about the whole Reborn situation–namely, how to get rid of her–the devil herself stops her.

“In comparison to my predecessor, I’m being kind,” Reborn says, in pajamas and bare feet, hair soft and loose and slightly damp–the soft hallway lighting of Kagome’s home and no slime balloons in sight–she really does look like a normal teenage girl and not the youkai sent to torture her in modern times.

The smile Reborn gives this time is rueful, regretful, “I suppose such a standard isn’t hard to beat given he used to literally shoot us with guns–” an alarming statement that she brushes right over, “–but the thing that he messed up from the beginning was never telling his student the intent behind every awful, cruel lesson. I won’t make that same mistake, mostly because I don’t have the luxury to do so.

“He could follow his student in his adventures and if things really got tough, not only beyond the limit but beyond capabilities, then he could step in and help,” at this Reborn meets Kagome’s eyes, “I can’t do that with you. I have to make you strong enough to stand on your own. And I know you have your friends, your own guardians, but they shouldn’t have to worry about protecting you all the time. If anything, you should want to be stronger so that you can protect them, too. Lead them, even.

"If that’s not something that you want, then go ahead. Tell Mama to send me away. I wouldn’t want to teach someone like that anyway.” At that, Reborn steps back, bare feet padding towards the spare room, leaving Kagome alone to process her thoughts.

She talks to Mama.

The next day, Kagome–with only a little complaint–steps into the circle, bow in hand. Mama and Grandpa and Souta all watch from a safe enough distance away, the remains of a  picnic set up as they get ready for the main event.

And Reborn, smiling, bright, expectant, and somewhat sadistic, says, “Because you’ve had a nice rest a good lunch and your wonderful family to cheer you on, now you have to hit two hundred targets!”

~

A/N: … I’ll be honest, lionheadbookends, this prompt was pretty difficult? I started and stopped a lot of different ideas and I’m not really all that satisfied with this one nor do I think it matches the prompt but I got about halfway through and decided this was probably the closest I would get so… here it is. Tetsuki in the Inuyasha world, training Kagome to be a better warrior.