Nara Shikako/Uzumaki Naruto – Shikako still doesn’t know the meaning of moderation (nevermind she is about to give birth at any moment) and Naruto is trying to convince her Boruto is a great name, is not and is not happening thinks an unamused Shikako.

Um… I’m going to respectfully decline this one anon. Mostly because this seems like you have a very specific ficlet in mind, and if so I think it would be better for you to bring it into the world yourself. But also because I’m still trying to belatedly fill all of my ask box things you said prompts left in my ask box. And also, also, this doesn’t quite match up with my own personal headcanons for what a Shikako and Naruto family would be like.

[Also times three: Boruto canonically exists as a Naruto and Hinata child so… unless you’re saying that any first child of Naruto would be named Boruto regardless of who the mother may be, I think that might be a little confusing. It’s why I named Sakako separately from Sarada (and also so Sarada could still exist)]

But in all fairness, I could go a little bit into said headcanon for what a Shikako and Naruto family would be like since my wave of next gen fic didn’t really touch on it. I mean, there’s Kareru of course, who I still think would be the Konoha Twelve’s first kid (mostly because the idea of Team Seven accidentally acquiring a baby seems too improbable not to be true) but that wasn’t really specifically Shikako/Naruto.

I think, like Shikako/Gaara, Shikako/Naruto would primarily adopt unlike Shikako/Sasuke in which Sasuke specifically wants to revive the Uchiha clan and thus have biological kids (but that’s what the Walking Around ‘verse is for). 

But my personal headcanon for Shikako/Naruto future fic predicates on the fact that Naruto realizes that becoming Hokage isn’t something that he wants anymore. Like. He wanted to become Hokage so that the village would love him. But the village already loves him, so he doesn’t need to be Hokage anymore. Then that way, Shikako and Naruto travel around the world being the badass power couple that Tsunade and Jiraiya could have been had their collective and individual tragedies/issues not driven them apart.

And then Shikako and Naruto just stumble on a lot of orphan kids with crazy powers/abilities that ostracized them from their small towns and accidentally become a traveling ninja version of Xavier’s Home For The Gifted. So I guess in a way they do what Orochimaru should have done instead of being a creepy and evil scientist. Rectifying the injustices Orochimaru and Danzo have done to orphan kids around the world…

Maybe at some point they do have biological children who absolutely love their bizarre family, but that’s not really the point. (Although now that I’m thinking of it, I kind of wonder what their names would be. I don’t think I would have them be named Boruto to prevent confusing canonically Naruto/Hinata’s son, but there’s nothing quite as simple and obvious as Sakako was for a Shikako/Sasuke daughter.)

The problem is, I’m not sure whether or not Boruto (and by extension, Himawari) would exist in this world. Like… Sarada still exists in the Walking Around ‘verse, because she’s still the genetic child of Sakura and Sasuke even if it’s through a repopulation program and not a traditional marriage+procreation. But for Boruto (and by extension, Himawari) to exist, Naruto and Hinata would have to get together at least once. Which, I mean, Naruto could very well be poly (and Shikako isn’t possessive of those she loves given my entire next gen stuff could arguably be in the same ‘verse) but I don’t know how Hinata (and by extension, the Hyuuga clan) would look upon that.

Hm… sorry anon. I just really like the idea of Shikako and Naruto traveling around and every so often they go back to Konoha with like… fifteen kids in tow all of whom have amazing and bizarre abilities.

Would you consider a story in which Shikadai is biologically Gaara and Shikako’s and raised by Shikamaru and Temari. An oops baby, surrogacy, or genetic donation for possible senarios

Uh… not so much… I mean… I full on went into it here back when I was writing a lot of the next gen “Our Share of the World” ficlets, but basically… it’s not something that is compatible with my own personal headcanons of the involved characters.

And there’s also the fact that in my head it’s just: he definitely exists in canon Boruto which doesn’t have Shikako. (Also, also, according to DoS there’s basically birth control no jutsu which makes accidental pregnancy highly improbable).

I mean, definitely feel free to have that as your own headcanon for Shikadai; but it’s not something that I’d pick up for my own collection. I quite like the idea of Shikako just being Shikadai’s bewilderingly powerful aunt who is always on crazy adventures.

And I just really love the idea that Gaara would be the kind of person to adopt children leading into the next gen sand siblings (regardless of being in a relationship with Shikako or not).

Although even if Shikadai was biologically Gaara and Shikako’s, if he’s still raised by Shikamaru and Temari then I don’t see much of a story happening that isn’t needlessly “you’re not my real mom” or whatever which is unappealing on a huge level and also, irritatingly, maybe what’s going on with Sarada and Sakura? No, thank you.

Smile At The Stars — Yoshino, Shikaku and their grandchildren

A/N1: … like a Yoshino&Shikaku!POV of Our Share of the World?

I mean, I guess I could try to come up with a plotty brainstorm of Yoshino&Shikaku with their grandchildren, but this just seems like a collection of five scenes of Y&S with their grandchildren.

Sorry this took so long, but since this isn’t really a fake fic title prompt, I just tried to fill it like a regular prompt. Enjoy!


Shikaku is the last to find out about his first grandchild, heading home after work to find his wife and daughter surrounded by piles of storage scrolls.

“This is archaic, Mum,” Shikako says, unsealing a scroll, glancing over the contents, then resealing them again. “Toddler clothes.”

“Oh, set those aside, dear, he’ll need them soon enough,” Yoshino instructs, going through her own set of scrolls–linens, hideous, but an heirloom of the clan head’s line–and putting them away.

“How are you supposed to find anything like this? I can make you a new set of sealing scrolls–or a custom Hammerspace!”

“These work just fine still, Shikako, it’d be a waste to get rid of them–ah! I think this is it.” From Yoshino’s scroll appears a crib, sturdy and steady and capable of withstanding a D-rank jutsu, the same one that carried all three of their children.

That seems like just yesterday, surely it’s not already time to pass it down?

“What’s going on here?”

He can’t possibly be that old already.

His wife and daughter both turn to him before glancing at each other, Yoshino’s expression clearly urging Shikako to explain.

“Well… Dad… um…”

His sons enter the hallway, Kinokawa making silly faces at the baby in Shikamaru’s arms. The red-haired baby in Shikamaru’s arms who reaches out towards Shikako upon spotting her.

He passes the baby over to his sister almost reluctantly and Kinokawa follows, adoringly.

“This is Kareru Uzumaki, he’s my son.” Shikako says, steeling herself unnecessarily; both of Shikaku’s sons take after him.


Shikako’s pregnancy is a frustrating, frightening time for all within her vicinity–nothing inspires crankiness and bizarre seals like consecutive nights of sleeplessness. Yoshino remembers being much the same during her own time with the twins, so she is patient.

Still, there comes a point when a mother is done indulging…

… which just so happens to be the same point as when said mother finds her pregnant daughter on the roof of the house in the middle of the night armed with buckets of paint and a brush.

It takes promises of hot cocoa and secrecy to coax her down, safely bundled in a blanket on the sofa, but Yoshino feels much better now that she’s on the ground.

“I’m so tired,” Shikako says, voice cracking with desperation, and so Yoshino tops up her mug.

“You can rest here, sweetheart, you’re safe.” She remembers the paranoia of her daughter’s earlier teen years, perhaps her hormones have kicked it into overdrive.

But Shikako just shakes her head. “I can’t, I can’t,” she repeats, “She needs me, she needs my chakra, I can’t go to sleep. She needs me.”

Yoshino feels a chill go down her spine.

“How does everyone else do this? I’m so tired.”

Pregnancy is supposed to be difficult, yes, but not like that. Not so consciously, actively, impossibly involved.

No more indulging, no more patience.

It takes more than hot cocoa to get Shikako to go to the hospital, but Yoshino knows best.


They do not often see their grandchildren from Sand, almost never altogether–that one trip to Wind Country aside, of course–and so it’s a pleasure to have the house full again.

Shikaku enjoys having extra sets of hand to feed the deer–especially ones that still find novelty in the chore, awed at the shy creatures and their forested homes–and Yoshino enjoys having victims to run through her morning stretches.

It’s unfortunate for them, of course, as they are not as flexible as their Konoha siblings and cousin, but they complain far less. Or perhaps are far quieter about it.

Shinki, at least, seems to take it as an opportunity to improve himself–never mind that his almost literal iron spine makes it more difficult–but Araya and Yodo spend more time trying to push each other over while Yoshino looks away.

Not that she isn’t aware of their little competition, but why not let them have their fun?

Shikaku is the one who rescues them and gives them a tour of the village, no better guide than the retired former Jounin Commander after all, before bringing them back to the Nara Clan compound where both their parents await them.

Which is still an odd thought–if anyone had told them that the Kazekage would one day be father to three of their grandchildren, well, the future is an interesting place, indeed.


A/N2: … so, um, it’s been a while everyone. Sorry about how long it took. Holidays then being ill and then three days of overtime which caused me to relapse… I’m not fully satisfied with this–much fonder of the original Shikadai’s POV, but hopefully it’s still nice.

Also, since December is approaching and I’ve got a few more prompts in the ask box, instead of sticking with the Ask Box Fake Fic Titles I might as well segue into the Ask Box Advent Calendar so send in those prompts! 😀

Can I just say, as an aromantic person that I absolutely LOVE AND ADORE your Walking Around (Sharing The World) AU. Like the feels man, the feels are KILLING ME. I empathize with Shikako so much BTW; you’re great.

🙂 Thanks!

I like to picture different domestic set ups, and while there are some problems in Walking Around (Sharing The World) that has more to do with Sasuke and Gaara not liking each other more than the actual situation of multiple households and partners (being aware and tolerant/accepting of each other. This is the important part. I do not condone adultery.)

I also have a soft spot for Sakako’s POV not quite understanding that her family is atypical, but being happy and safe and loved nonetheless.

who do you think will be on sakako’s genin team?


If you look closely at Sakako’s section in Our Share of the World and in the later part of Walking Around (Like Regular People) I mentioned that Sakako’s genin teammates were likely to be Boruto and Mitsuki since, like Shikako did with Sakura, Sakako would take Sarada’s place. (And the Academy teachers probably figure that since Boruto is Naruto’s son and Sakako is Shikako and Sasuke’s daughter, they’d minimize the next gen Lucky Seven effect and keep it as much to one team as possible. :P)

Unless that was a typo and you meant the Walking Around version of Sarada? In which case… I kind of briefly touched on it in this post, but now that I think more strongly on it… I’d think she’d end up on Team Chiyako (aka Shino’s little sister as their jounin sensei) wiiiiiith Sarada Haruno, as of yet unknown Inuzuka of this generation (whether Hana’s kid or Kiba’s kid or just some other Inuzuka), and a genjutsu user. Possibly of Yakumo’s clan or even Yakumo’s adopted child (I don’t think she’d want to have biological children and risk her condition being passed down). 

Or, if Chiyako has already ascended as Aburame matriarch and isn’t available to be a jounin sensei, then it’d be Team Ranmaru with Sarada, next gen Inuzuka, and next gen Aburame (Shino’s kid or some other Aburame).

Either way, they would be more a support type team (like my *fingers crossed* prediction for Team Anko composed of Sakura, Yakumo, and Isaribi) or a search and rescue type team (like I headcanon for Team Hana aka my prediction for what will happen to Hanabi, Chiyako, and Ranmaru that I made long long ago in Don’t Hold Back) instead of the POWERHOUSES of Team Sevens past.

(Ah, now I don’t know if I should tag Sarada posts as Sarada Haruno to differentiate her from canon Sarada. I mean, she’s still genetically canon Sarada. But her backstory is waaaaaay different and she’d actually go by Sarada Haruno instead of Sarada Uchiha.

Eh, what the hell, I’ll tag posts of her with both)

Thinking on it some more, here’s my dream line up for Sarada’s genin team:

Team Ranmaru with a jounin Ranmaru-sensei, Sarada Haruno, Mimi Inuzuka (with her ninken, Momomaru), and Shige Aburame.


Sarada’s Sharingan-to-be is supposed to take the place of the Byakugan.

Mimi and Momo are the cutest Inuzuka pair to ever exist and they know it. 

Shige is more than used to women taking the lead given my persistent headcanon that the Aburame clan is a matriarchy. 

And Ranmaru frequently regrets following Naruto to Konoha.

I bet Shikadai & Sakako’s nicknames for each other gives everyone (especially shikamaru) the feels haha. Especially since Shikako’s usually away as a wandering nin, and everyone misses her. Omg I’m getting the watery feels just thinking about this. you’re horrible for making up such heart-wrenching stuff. 8′(

Hehehehehe… yes. I specifically named Sakako that so that they could have the Shika and Kako exchange. >:D

I’m actually working on another Walking Around installment, though it’s not really feels-y but hopefully you’ll enjoy it, anon.


Big brother Kareru messed up Sakako’s braids. He’ll regret that when she’s out of the academy. @jacksgreysays

(Those expressions! (✿ ♥‿♥) This is totally what they would be like.

Your art is as lovely as always)

OMYGOSH THOSE WERE SO GOOD! TOO GOOD! You got everything more than perfect, I can’t think of anything if want to change!

( ˘ ³˘)♥

Oh gosh, I’m so glad you think so, anon. I was worried I went a little too far or not far enough or all of my feels made it seem good to me while I was writing but didn’t translate to readers. This one, more than some of my others, was definitely a labor of love.

Dreaming of S(haring the World) 3/3, (2016-09-17)

Gaara isn’t often called in to deal with matters from the Engineering Department. Except for approving or vetoing certain village-sized projects, he doesn’t have much to do with them outside of paperwork.

Certainly not in person. Not anymore.

After the first incident–in which he was called in at three in the morning and all he did was stand around looking imposing as two engineers yelled, fought, cried on each other, then came to an agreement in the span of two hours. True, that first incident led to the village’s first successful hydroponics program, and later aquaponics program, but not as a result of anything Gaara himself did–he’s learned to use proxies since then.

But the young engineer standing in front of him looks like he won’t accept a proxy or no for an answer. Even if he’s nervously curling into himself.

Gaara doesn’t take offense. If he’s remembering correctly, this is one of the recent genin graduates. The one who had been slated for the Puppet Corps until Kankurou found out that he’d rather make puppets than fight with them, and so had shunted him into Engineering where he’d be happier surrounded by machines than people.

“Fukiya, correct?” Gaara asks, smiling to himself when the genin straightens at his name.

“Yes, Kazekage-sama!” Fukiya says, bows low, straightens back up, all in one enthusiastic movement.

“And you’re sure this isn’t just Yokume and Gosan arguing again?” He asks, just to confirm. He’s already standing away from his desk, gesturing for Fukiya to lead the way. Jinzo only raises his eyebrows instead of squinting angrily, so Gaara knows he’s not scheduled for anything else at the moment.

“Not this time, Kazekage-sama,” Fukiya says, sounding far less nervous the deeper into the building they go. The Engineering Department is underground. Deep underground.

“Was Baki unavailable?” It’s not that Gaara is trying to get out of it–he likes being involved in his village–but this is an unusual situation.

“We already called Baki-sama, Kazekage-sama, and he’s actually there now. But he said to go get you, Kazekage-sama.”

An unusual situation indeed.

They come to a stop outside a set of massive double doors. Fukiya glances around, looks sheepish when he catches Gaara’s eye, then enters a series of numbers into the keypad. A much smaller door opens up for them to enter through.

The first thing Gaara sees is Baki’s face, smirking. Then is Yokume and Gosan, eagerly shouting upwards. When he follows their line of sight, he sees a massive orb made of metal and glass…

… and what looks to be a small child inside it, happily fiddling with the wires of what he knows to be the Engineering Department’s ultimate pet project.

(Yodo doesn’t remember her biological parents and she doesn’t really care. As far as she’s concerned, they didn’t want her, so she doesn’t want them.

She doesn’t need them, either. She didn’t need them before, when she was just one of many Suna orphans running around the village, and she definitely doesn’t need them now that she has a family that loves her and actually wants her.

And plus, Father is the Kazekage and Mother is one of the most badass people in the world–Yodo’s not even exaggerating. Why would she care about some random strangers she’s never even met?)

The child is five years old, unbelievably smart, and–according to the engineers on the night shift–a stealth prodigy. Gaara will believe the first two, but given the way the little girl knows some of the engineers by name, he’s highly skeptical of the last one.

Both Yokume and Gosan are on the verge of tears, which isn’t an atypical state of being for them. But usually it’s over non-human matters.

“You can’t have a five year old working for the Engineering Department,” Gaara says, choosing to be the voice of reason here.

“Can she even read?” Baki asks, looking far too amused by the situation.

“I can hear just fine,” the little girl says, dangling from the catwalk, knees hooked around the railing.

She seems confident in her stability, but Gaara would rather not risk it. He sends a platform of sand up towards her and, after a couple of curious nudges, she switches perches.

“And I can read…” she continues, voice high and piping and offended.

“… most things,” she admits in a mutter after a moment’s silence, sand platform bringing her closer. “Math is easier, okay?”

Baki snorts.

Yokume and Gosan check on the orb, simultaneously gushing and arguing about the changes the child has made while Fukiya trails after them like an eager student.

“What’s your name?” Gaara asks, because for all that she knows the night shift engineer’s names, they don’t seem to know hers.

She seems to be content on the platform, even though it’s hovering close enough to the ground that she could disembark if she wanted to. She doesn’t answer for a moment, busy testing the pliability of the sand–it’s as pliable as he wills it to be. He lets her shape it as she wants and holds it still when she decides she’s satisfied with it. She appears to be building a model of Suna.

“The matron at the orphanage use to call me Yodo,” she says finally, possibly unused to someone patiently waiting for her to answer.

“Used to?”

Yodo wrinkles her nose in disgust, “I don’t go there anymore. Too many voices, it’s annoying. I come here instead.”

Gaara can feel his brow furrowing in confusion, hopes it doesn’t come off as irritated. His people are no longer scared of him, but he knows he’s still an intimidating figure. “For how long?”

Yodo huffs, as if she’s the one who should be annoyed by all these questions, “Almost four days,” she says.

Which isn’t as long as Gaara had feared, but definitely long enough that this should have been brought to someone’s attention earlier. Either as a missing child’s case or as an intruder in the Engineering Department–four days is too long.

“You’re not going to make me go back, are you?” Yodo asks him, blue eyes wide and staring into his.

Gaara doesn’t know what his face looks like now, but whatever it is, it makes Baki actually, audibly laugh.

(The Council talks about her as Father’s successor as if it’s a position she should be honored to have, instead of something they’re trying to force onto her.

She doesn’t know why they even think she’d want it–but then again, the only council member she’s ever spoken to is Councilor Odo who still thinks Mother is some kind of interloper or the most conspicuous spy ever.

She understands their reasoning, at least: Yodo may not be one by blood, but she’s still a scion of the desert. They don’t want her to end up like Temari-oba, married away in a different land and essentially lost to Suna.

No, Yodo doesn’t want to be Kazekage. But in this matter, she keeps quiet. As soon as she rejects it, they’ll turn to Shinki; and for all that he thinks he should be the next Kazekage, Yodo doesn’t think he actually wants to be, either.

Yodo can be a good sister.)

Yodo concedes to leave the Engineering workshop only when Gaara promises not to bring her back to the orphanage. She also demands dango, but after two years of raising a child, he knows better than to give her sweets without any substantial food to temper it.

They agree on takoyaki, which Yodo deems similar enough in shape to dango as to be acceptable, and which Gaara knows won’t lead to a sugar high and crash.

Between the Engineering Department and his office, Yodo sneaks her hand into his. He looks at her in surprise–it took Araya nearly a year to feel comfortable enough with him to do the same–and she begins to withdraw it, but he curls his fingers around hers and she smiles brightly up at him.

They pass by others at work. The administrative building is quite large, houses other departments besides Engineering, and someone must have sent word ahead because Jinzo is waiting for the two of them in Gaara’s office with a familiar looking set of forms.

“Another one?” he asks, almost as amused as Baki had been.

Gaara shrugs because he has no argument. Has nothing he’d want to argue against.

“Shall I have a runner go fetch Nara-san and Araya?” Jinzo asks, already flaring his chakra to summon one of the genin whose sole purpose is to do whatever he tells them apparently.

“And dango!” Yodo says, swinging their conjoined hands.

“Takoyaki,” Gaara corrects, considers for a moment, “And maybe some dango, too.”

Yodo cheers while Jinzo sends a second runner for the food and a third to prepare some drinks.

Gaara goes to sit at his desk. Rather than sit at the more comfortable couch, Yodo clambers onto the desk–taking care to avoid touching any of the paperwork, while she turns her head this way and that.

“Will this let me work in the Engineering Department?” Yodo asks, watching him write her name but not understanding the rest.

“One day, if you still want to, then you can,” Gaara answers, filling in the rest of the forms–his name, Shikako’s name, Yodo’s again. “This means that, if you want, you never have to go back to the orphanage.”

She looks up at him and in her eyes he sees maybe something like hope.

(Yodo thinks in terms of music. In tone and rhythm, tempo and frequency. She thinks of melodies and harmonies, instruments and voices fitting together into one cohesive song.

Machines are like that, too. Different components coming together to make something better and stronger than they are alone.

Sometimes there are problems–sometimes gears shift out of place and software doesn’t match up. Sometimes the drums go too fast and the strings screech instead of hum–but they can be troubleshot, they can be fixed. Music and creation and life are always open to additions and adjustments.

This is what family means to her.)


A/N: I really thought I’d be able to get this in before midnight :/ Ah, well, I guess this is just a very early post then.

I’ll post these three up on ao3 later

(Also, I don’t know if anyone noticed but Yodo is meant to be neuroatypical.)

Dreaming of S(haring the World) 2/3, (2016-09-16)

Kankurou will never say this out loud–and definitely not where Temari might hear him–but this is all her fault. (No, really.)

See, if she hadn’t faffed off to Leaf in order to marry into some other clan instead of telling that sleepy-eyed weirdo to marry into their clan then he and Gaara wouldn’t have been left trying to figure out what the hell to do when someone randomly tells them that hey, one of your ancestors somewhere along the line apparently had an illegitimate child, because we’ve found a kid who can use Magnet Release. Also, he’s an orphan–have fun dealing with this!

Technically, it should be Kankurou’s responsibility given that he’s older and clan leadership is passed down in birth order. But they’re called the Kazekage clan after all, and, well, Gaara is the Kazekage. It only makes sense for Kankurou to let the more qualified brother handle it.

And it’s not like Kankurou’s the one adopting an army of small children. (To be fair, there’s only two of them and Araya is a fairly mellow kid. Yodo’s the one who could put the entire Puppet Corps through the wringer, especially when she’s high on sugar from whatever sweets given to her by a certain someone who shall remain nameless. It would’ve been hilarious… if he hadn’t been tapped for babysitting duties that same day and realized he stabbed himself in the foot.)

So passing the buck it is.

He at least goes to pick up the kid–because Gaara does have an entire hidden village to run and, admittedly, Kankurou will be this kid’s clan head even if he won’t be this kid’s Father (the very idea of it makes him shudder; ugh, fatherhood, he can barely stand being an uncle)–and takes a nice, quiet solo journey to some tiny town in the middle of nowhere.

Gaara did offer to send some chuunin with him, but like hell was Kankurou going to put up with a bunch of brats just to pick up another brat. Never mind that most chuunin are about his age or even older. (And plus, it gives him some time to work on his playwriting without wind of it getting back to Sparky.)

He kinda has an idea of what he’s expecting of the kid–even though, beyond him having Magnet Release and being an orphan, the report didn’t include much. Not even a name which, what the hell, he’s going to bust someone’s balls for this. He doesn’t approve of shoddy work when it means he’s going into a situation blind. (Been there, done that, got the irritating friendships with Leaf nin to prove it.)

As it is, he ends up being completely wrong and, somehow, spot on. He maybe should have made Gaara come–or Sparky, even, given that despite having no blood relation and not even having met each other yet, this kid would fit in perfectly with her horde of hell-raisers. How someone could get into so much trouble in the boondocks is beyond him–but hell if Kankurou isn’t a little bit impressed.

(Shinki doesn’t mean for bad things to happen to the people around him, they just do. His first Mother had said that the things he could do weren’t bad, just powerful; all he had to do was learn how to control them.

But even with her own talents with metal–hidden in plain sight as the town’s blacksmith–she still looked at his ability with wariness and no small amount of fear.

He can’t remember what happened to his biological father, only that he disappeared one day and never came back.

That’s what Shinki used to think, anyway.)

The kid is nine years old and if Kankurou hadn’t grown up with the poster child for stoicism, he’d admit that the kid’s got a pretty good poker face. As it is, he can tell the kid’s about as nervous as Sparky in front of an audience older than Academy age–and, also, hiding something.

But despite being admittedly nosy, Kankurou stays silent on that matter; because he knows what subtlety is, unlike some people.

The shinobi dispatched from the nearest outpost meets Kankurou in the village and gives a rundown of the situation which for some reason wasn’t included in the original report.

“Bandits, most likely,” the chuunin says with a shrug, not bothering to temper his volume. Normally, surrounded by civilians, it wouldn’t matter, but from the small twitches on the kid’s face Kankurou can tell, even without the clan blood limit, he’s not just a normal civilian. “Tried to ransack the blacksmith’s shop, maybe to get supplies, and didn’t realize she was still in the forge. She put up a hell of a fight, though.”

Ah, shit. Poor kid, being forced to relive his mother’s last moments from the voice of an disinterested chuunin. But pity never helped anyone.

“Bandits?” Kankurou barks at the chuunin instead, edging it in a way that he usually doesn’t. Pity doesn’t help, but anger can, “This area is part of your outpost’s territory isn’t it? Were you just letting them run rampant?”

The chuunin straightens up at attention, suddenly faced with a superior officer not just a fellow shinobi. “No, sir. I mean, yes sir–I mean.”

“Spit it out,” Kankurou says, maybe amping it up because it’s possible there’s the smallest hint of a smile on the kid’s face.

“We’ve been gathering intel on them, trying to triangulate their base of operations. It wasn’t until the attack yesterday that we got enough to pinpoint it. We were going to do some more recon before requesting a team. But the, uh, witness seemed like a more important matter,” the chuunin reports, belatedly adding, “sir.”

“A team?” Kankurou scoffs, he’s a puppeteer–The Puppeteer what with being head of the corps, now–he’s basically a team all by himself. And besides, “Why do you need a team when you’ve got two scions of the desert?” he asks the chuunin, then nods in the kid’s direction, “Hey brat, you interested in getting revenge?”

What? Kankurou never said he was good with kids.

(A part of Shinki used to think that becoming a shinobi was inevitable. That even his first Mother knew it, too, despite not sending him to Suna when he turned six.

She had taught him what tricks she had learned from her own mother, and other things she had picked up or made up along the way. She had taught him about weapons and about tools, about the difference and similarities between them. About how neither could harm him–not so long as they were made of metal and sang like adrenaline in his blood.

He thinks she was preparing him for a future without her. He’s never sure whether or not he should be grateful for that.)

The bandits are a bunch of clichés–a group of twenty or so men all unwashed and rowdy, hiding in a cave. Kankurou is honestly a little embarrassed on their behalves. Or, you know, he would be if they weren’t the assholes responsible for murdering an unknown clan member and leaving the kid–Shinki, as he had huffed in response to being called brat–orphaned.

Okay, maybe Kankurou got a little attached. But he’s a good kid; keeping pace and falling in line and not at all rebelling and pulling some kind of bullshit impossible plan from out of nowhere that somehow miraculously works. (No doubt Sparky will ruin that given a few months, but he can appreciate it while it lasts.)

They meet up with another chuunin not far from the cave–who startles at seeing the head of the Puppet Corps and a nine year old accompanying his teammate, but maintains a sense of professionalism nonetheless.

“There’s two exits–this one’s the main one, big enough for horses and a cart, though I’ve only spotted two so far. The other one is around the southeast side of the mountain, pretty narrow, almost missed it, probably an emergency escape route.”

Unfortunately, cliché and filthy didn’t mean stupid.

“You two stay here, wait for the signal before you join us,” Kankurou says, “Us two will go through the other entrance. Catch them off guard, make sure none of them get away.”

“Uh, sir?” asks the first chuunin, nervously, “What’s the signal?”

Kankurou barely manages not to roll his eyes. Shinki and the other chuunin don’t bother refraining.

“The sounds of screaming, probably” Kankurou says deadpan, enjoying the way the chuunin flinches.

“Let’s go, kid,” he continues, before they waste more time on inanities.

The emergency exit is narrow enough that the three of them–Karasu included–have to go single file. The few traps are easily disarmed and Shinki’s silent nature thankfully extends to stealth.

Somehow, even though he’s on Kankurou’s six, the kid spots the bandits first.

Well, a specific bandit.

“That’s him,” Shinki murmurs, angry but still quiet, not stupid enough to give away their position.

Kankurou doesn’t need clarification–given the bandages hastily wrapped around the bandit’s torso and beginning to bleed through red, it’s obvious who he is.

“Stay here, kid. Any of them slip past me, you take them down, okay?” Like that’ll happen–Kankurou’s been too well trained (tortured by that old hag, more like)–but the kid doesn’t know that. “Let’s go sound that signal, then.”

Of course, Kankurou probably should have figured that the kid’s obedience would run dry at some point, because after only about ten minutes of fighting–most of the bandits incapacitated one way or another–he finds the kid standing over the prone body of a bandit. The specific bandit.

The kid’s shaking, the man is talking, and that’s never boded well.

“… I knew it. Should have known as soon as your mother brought you screaming into the world. Go on, demon, prove me right,” the bandit says, a sneer on his face for all that he’s the one at a disadvantage.

The kid has somehow ended up with a sword–poor quality, probably the bandit’s own weapon–but he shakes like he’s the one whose life is in danger.

“I-I c-can’t do it,” Shinki says, “I can’t.”

Kankurou sighs, waves Karasu closer to loom over the bandit who is finally beginning to look afraid. He puts his other hand on Shinki’s shoulder, turns him around. “Don’t look, kid.”

Shinki closes his eyes, presses close, and doesn’t look.

Neither of them mention it again.

(Sometimes, Shinki wishes his first Mother were still alive. Not that he prefers her over Mother–no, he loves this new family fiercely, wouldn’t trade them for the world. Even when he and Araya don’t quite understand each other, or he and Yodo get on each others’ nerves.

Sometimes, he wishes she hadn’t been afraid. Wishes that she had taken the chance to reach out, to be a part of this family.

He thinks she would have loved them, too.)


A/N: Kankurou, goddamnit, why can’t you stay on topic?

Technically this part ought to be third if we’re going chronologically, since I feel like Shinki would’ve been the last adopted (which kind of adds to his self-esteem issues re: succession and also his adoption sort of obligated because blood limit) but Kankurou is easier for me to write than Gaara. Which, yeah, spoilers I guess, Yodo’s part will from Gaara’s POV.