Flip to the Last Page, Nara Twins, 32) Things you said I wouldn’t understand

Flip to the Last Page, 32) things you said I wouldn’t understand

“I just need some time,” your sister says, eyes looking everywhere but at you. She’s packing, grabbing things at random, placing then removing then folding then replacing, anything to keep her hands busy.

“I just need to be alo–I just need some space,” she stammers, and you can’t hear anything in your head to refute that mostly because she’s slammed a wall on your connection, metal bars and concrete.

As the two of you grew, so did your control over your connection. No more the constant, unconscious flow of childhood–thoughts more often impressions than words–now you can utilize it strategically: plans and intel, Jounin Commander in the making. Or, rather, you would if your sister weren’t blocking you out.

“I just need to think,” she says, and this third time hits the worst because you know if she were letting her thoughts seep through, you’d hear the added “by myself.”

Futilely, you try to send your arguments through her barrier: why can’t you think here? You’re already cutting me off, obviously you’ve made space for yourself. Why won’t you stay?

If she hears anything, she doesn’t respond beyond the flattening of her mouth into a tight, tense line.

The two of you are supposed to be a team, siblings, friends, partners. She makes it seem as if your twin bond is nothing more than a prison. One with a life sentence at that.

That makes her soften, her furrowed brow transitioning from frustrated to contrite, but no less determined.

“I just… need to know that I’m not making things worse.”

~

A/N: VERY BELATED, VERY SHORT, VERY SORRY DONA! Apparently there’s a little bit more needed from me for Geek Show and also May is a hectic month for me in general. Also, FttLP is a massive mystery to me still despite it being something I wrote…

19 for Team White Fang??

Team White Fang, 19) things you said when we were the happiest we ever were

“I’m going to ask Atsumi to marry me,” says an absolute stranger to Sakumo before sitting next to him on the park bench.

He doesn’t even blink, eyes fixated on the sight of Kakashi ever so seriously toddling after Tosa’s wagging tail, the rest of the pack lounging in a loose, protective circle. Sakumo is certain these are the kinds of moments he’ll want to remember forever, he almost wishes he has a Sharingan just so he could have the image literally seared into his brain.

“Hey,” says the strange man, jabbing two fingers into Sakumo’s bicep impatiently, “Are you listening to me?”

Reluctantly, Sakumo glances at the stranger, “Yeah, I heard you, Hozue.”

“Well?” Hozue says, expectant, “Don’t you have anything to say?”

Sakumo can feel his mouth twitch at the corners, a small curl of amusement making its way through the fog of exhausted satisfaction of being a single father of an overly intelligent toddler.

“It’s about time,” he responds, before turning back to watch Kakashi. His son has managed to get a pudgy hand on an indulgent Tosa’s tail and seems to be carefully contemplating his next plan of action.

Hozue doesn’t try to demand his attention again–never mind the effort she put into this latest identity–content to also watch the boy she’d happily call a nephew. But she does question, “What do you mean it’s about time?”

This time, the amusement bubbles up too quickly–Sakumo laughs, a huffing airy sound more suited to canine than human mouths, “I’m pretty sure you’ve been married to each other for years.”

The stranger’s face looks absolutely gormless shaped by Hozue’s stunned confusion. “What,” she utters.

“You live together, eat together, you’re each other’s emergency contacts, powers of attorney, and beneficiaries, you have sparring dates all the time, you have regular date night every week, every so often you’ll bring her flowers just because, you have three goldfish together that you call your children…” Sakumo lists, getting progressively sillier but no less factual as he goes on.

“Stop! Stop,” Hozue interrupts, blush bright on the stranger’s cheeks.

After a few moments of silence, Hozue murmurs, “Holy shit. Atsumi and I are fucking married.”

“Congratulations,” Sakumo finally adds, tone somewhat dry but no less sincere.

They let the silence resettle, warm and easy, watching as Kakashi somehow maneuvers himself onto Tosa’s broad back, the massive dog taking ginger, careful steps.

Sakumo knows that the future’s going to be bright.

~

A/N: Ahahahaha… so I don’t know if this is the HAPPIEST, but it’s definitely one of the happier moments before everything starts going to shit so… Sorry for no actual Atsumi presence!

Fire Fallow Cultivation, yoshino+sasuke, 58) things you were afraid to say

Fire Fallow Cultivation, 58) things you were afraid to say

None of Yoshino’s family–darling and miraculous and beloved they may be–have wings. Herself included.

Just as well, she’s never been able to articulate what the wings mean but she does know that those with wings tend to have… dynamic existences, to put it mildly. Which is not to say that those without wings are entirely without dynamics of their own–her daughter is proof of that–but there’s something mutable, even risky about the lives of those with wings and part of her is glad that her family do not have them.

After all, just look what happened to Sasuke’s family.

It takes her a while to figure out that Sasuke has the ability to see the wings as well. It’s not as if she’s never met a fellow watcher, but they’re rare enough that it’s always a surprise to find another.

It becomes apparent during dinner, when Shikako and her team come back from their first C-rank. The way Sasuke’s eyes follow the movements of Naruto’s bright wings instead of his wild hand gestures, how he reflexively winces when once such hand gesture passes through the already broken looking pair on Kakashi’s back.

But that night, and for many dinners after that, Yoshino doesn’t get the opportunity to speak to him alone and so she remains silent on the matter.

That’s just an excuse.

Fugaku’s wings were a sober, dreary piebald, about as boring as wings on a human being could possibly be; they were small, more scarf than cape, but far more expressive than his stoic face. Yoshino remembers how they would flare out, a futile, impossible attempt to protect the vulnerable of the village.

Mikoto’s were nearly the opposite, colorful and iridescent and sharp like a hummingbird but far larger and thankfully not so nearly as fast, or else it would have been a headache to look at her. Yoshino remembers how they drooped for weeks after the Kyuubi attack, mourning many, no doubt, but her best friend especially.

Yoshino remembers Itachi’s wings, massive for such a small boy, the plumage beautiful and nearly mesmerizing. She doesn’t know what they look like now.

She doesn’t want to know.

First, Yoshino hesitates. She needs to be certain, she thinks, can’t just assume and spill the secret.

Then, she prevaricates. If Sasuke doesn’t ask about his family, then there’s no reason for her to bring it up.

In most matters, Yoshino is bold. This is not one of them.

~

A/N: I’m back! 😀 Hopefully I can get back into the swing of things

shikako’s guide to deliquency & milatary insurrection, shikako+mikoto, 28) things you said but not out loud

Shikako Nara’s Guide To Delinquency and Military Insurrection, 28) things you said but not out loud

The girl is from the future. The future of a different dimension, she is quick to clarify, before going into a somewhat rambling and convoluted explanation of paradoxes and time travel.

Kushina, for all that she graduated from the Academy dead last, seems to pick it up immediately nodding along and asking questions about fuinjutsu techniques and something called causal stability conditions and relativistic spacetime. Hizashi doesn’t understand anymore than Mikoto, thankfully, but he appears to be content to just accept it as fact.

“She isn’t ROOT,” he dismisses with an affable shrug–a statement they had already confirmed by seeing the pile of corpses the girl had left behind, “And she looks… familiar enough that I’m certain she is also telling the truth.”

Mikoto frowns, “Just because she’s telling the truth doesn’t mean we can automatically trust her. ROOT soldiers is one thing, killing Danzo is another.”

Hizashi raises an eyebrow at her, “We don’t exactly have the luxury to turn away allies, even if she might not be as skilled as she claims.”

Mikoto bites back a surly response, surely no one could be as skilled as the girl claims, settling instead for a suspicious stare. Precaution as much as indulging her paranoia–the stare from an Uchiha is equivalent to an unsheathed blade from anyone else.

But she ends up not needing it, at least for the following days they travel with the girl, headed toward Land of Rain. The girl–Shikabane, she introduces herself with a resigned sigh–tells them what she knows of the organization called Akatsuki the current ruling force of the Land of Rain and how they, too, had a grudge against Danzo. How they, at least in the dimension she came from, welcomed missing nin–especially those formerly from Konoha. How they were led by an Uzumaki.

But she cautions them about their awful deeds. Their worrying ambition. “They went after the jinchuuriki,” she says, mindfully not looking at any of them. Still, Mikoto and her teammates exchange glances, “But they can’t go out of order, so you should be safe for a while… and hopefully the common goal of killing Danzo will be enough to divert their attentions.

“And plus,” Shikabane continues, as if she weren’t giving back and forth warning and reassurances, “Danzo did more to cause war and suffering than any other single person in history so that, at least, is in line with their original dream.”

“Have you worked with them before?” Hizashi asks.

Shikabane hesitates, “Not… this particular iteration, no.”

Mikoto asks, “Have you fought against them?”

“Yes,” Shikabane answers without pause. “My teammate was the jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi,” she says, again, very deliberately not looking in Kushina’s direction. Just as well, a conflicted expression blooming on her face.

In contrast to Mikoto or Hizashi–jaded by the clan systems as they were–Kushina had always wanted family. But the only reason for the Kyuubi to be transferred between vessels would be if the previous jinchuuriki were unable to contain it…

Still, Kushina was never one for shying away from something and so rather than continuing the somewhat worrying description of their new possible allies, Shikabane dutifully answers questions about Kushina’s successor–her son, Naruto–with as sparse details as she can get away with.

But not sparse enough.

“Who is Sasuke?” Mikoto interrupts as Shikabane is in the middle of an anecdote about her genin team.

Shikabane blinks, “He’s… your son.”

Mikoto can’t help the grimace that invokes, the idea that she had capitulated to the clan elders’ demands in some other life. Another thought crosses her mind and, with trepidation, she asks, “He’s not–was he the Uchiha clan heir?”

Bemused, Shikabane shakes her head slowly, “… No. Sasuke was never clan heir.”

Good, Mikoto thinks, at least that other version of her hadn’t fallen so far. Much easier to think she might have found someone she actually wanted to be with rather than end up brood mare for Fugaku Uchiha.

~

A/N: WELL. This certainly jumped around in places. I don’t think I had a real concrete idea about what exactly I wanted the things Shikako doesn’t say out loud to be, so I kind of just sprinkled a lot of different options in there.

ironwill, firenation tetsuki/azula, 21) things you said when we were on top of the world

Iron Will, 21) things you said when we were on top of the world

“Green suits you,” Azula says from behind her, voice as diverting as ever. Tetsuki doesn’t tense up, though with anyone else she would–hating the idea of anyone else putting her in such a vulnerable position. With Azula physical location means nothing.

And plus, her houndsnake continues to lounge lazily across her shoulders: he would not be so relaxed with just anyone. She’s travelled with the Freedom Fighters for months and he still growls when they draw too near.

Tetsuki turns around to face her princess, “It suits you far less,” she responds, smile immediately curling on her mouth at the sight of the Fire Nation princess in overly traditional Earth Kingdom garb.

“Yes, well, needs must.” Azula sniffs, adjusting the headdress she took from the Kiyoshi warriors, “Terribly impractical, honestly, but it’s not as if I expected any better.”

“It seems effective enough,” Tetsuki nods, gesturing at their surroundings. If she had to be honest, she’d admit that she much preferred the throne room in Ba Sing Se than the Fire Lord’s–though she had only been there once. Something about the solidity of the stone, as if this palace were as old as the mountains itself.

Too bad the same could not be said of its monarchy.

“Was your ticket to entry as impractical as mine?” Azula asks, though surely she must already know.

“I wouldn’t say impractical so much as annoying.” Jet–and the Freedom Fighters through him–have been useful in many ways, especially in capturing Zuko without expending too much effort on her part, but managing his ego to guide him has been tedious.

She’ll be glad to be rid of the both of them.

“You’ve done adequately with the resources available,” Azula says and Tetsuki blinks at her, surprised. That… was a compliment, perhaps?

“You seems to be in a good mood,” she remarks, hesitantly, not wanting to spoil it but unable to ignore it. Tetsuki always wants Azula to be happy.

Fortunately, Azula’s satisfaction is not so easily soured, “Why wouldn’t I be? My idiot brother has been handled, the Dai Li is mine, this city is mine, and soon enough the Avatar will fall. Our victory is assured.”

“Our victory?” Tetsuki reflexively repeats, internally scolding herself. Azula is always careful with word choice, to question her is to doubt her.

Instead of answering her, Azula meets her eyes and reaches a hand out. Tetsuki can feel a twitch run down her arm, an attempt to reach back swiftly aborted. Tetsuki’s houndsnake sniffs at Azula’s hand, tongue flicking against her fingers in greeting. Those fingers can wield lightning, can form flames so hot they run blue; it seems neither Tetsuki nor her houndsnake are afraid.

Finally, Azula says, “I knew it would be a good match.”

~

A/N: Not quite on top of the world, but definitely “before things started going to shit”–for Azula, that is. Mostly, though, I’m not sure how much impact Tetsuki would have in the world. Like… maybe Ozai still loses, but surely Tetsuki wouldn’t let Azula fail as in canon?

Check out The Geek Show 2: BindleCon. Use promo code “FRIDAY” to get 25% off 4/20 tickets. Valid for tonight’s show only! 

54) things you always meant to say but never got the chance for the Nara twins?

Heart and Soul, 54) things you always meant to say but never got the chance

The transition happens too fast. One moment Shikamaru is dying, his heart destroyed, pain beyond imagining sparking along his neurons, blood clogging his throat in his death throes. The next, he wakes up, gasping, impossibly, his sister’s crying face the first thing he sees out of the void.

The next, her eyes go dark, expression flat. Her grief and relief erased, replaced by apathy.

Shikako dies instead of him, and Shikabane takes her place.

Shikabane plays the part, dutiful Konoha shinobi, dutiful Nara daughter, dutiful twin sister. It is a lie. Shikamaru knows this, but he still plays along because surely it’s better to have this fake than nothing at all?

But even in her new existence, the creature that was once his sister puts him first.

“You should say goodbye,” says Shikabane, tugging at his hand. His shadow hand, specifically. There’s some sensation in it, enough to tell there is contact, but not much in the way of detail. It can’t differentiate sensations: Shikamaru wouldn’t know if Shikabane’s hand is soft and warm like his sister’s would be, or if it’s as cold and hard as stone. As a demon’s lack of a heart.

“I,” Shikamaru hesitates. The face staring impassively back at him is still his sister’s. “I don’t think I can.”

It’s not as if Shikamaru wants to die. He very much enjoys living, thanks, he’s not that lazy.

He doesn’t want to die. He just doesn’t want his sister to hurt herself for him even more than he wants not to die.

But he cannot change the past.

He’s grateful to still be alive, he just wishes it hadn’t had such a high cost.

He’ll tell his sister thank you only when he manages to get her back.

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.

Ooo~ “Things you Said”, you say? I feel like Shikamaru/Shikako are stuck in 24 (clenched fists) right now, so maybe you could contrast that against 6 (under the stars and in the grass) for them?

canon Dreaming of Sunshine, 6) things you said under the stars and in the grass

Shikamaru listens to the rustle of a page turning, feels the prickle of grass against his skin, breaths in the spring air. He enjoys his day.

Shikamaru is young, only a first year student at the Academy, and does not yet know what terrors await him and his sister. (Shikako knows already, though not every one, but that is something she will keep to herself long after those terrors have passed.)

For now, the twins are but children, calm and content in each other’s presence enjoying a pleasant afternoon.

Another rustle of paper, another page turned, a soft excited gasp from beside him.

Normally, curiosity is something that will just lead to more work and so Shikamaru usually squashes it down, but in this moment, fleeting and bright, he decides there is no harm in following it.

“What are you reading?” Shikamaru asks, sliding one eye open and turning his head. Shikako doesn’t like it when there’s too much attention on her, doesn’t like to feel as if she’s inconveniencing anyone even the slightest. Shikamaru has learned to be subtle.

He is rewarded when Shikako turns toward him, book held in her hands, both of them with their backs on the grass and side to side. She holds the book aloft so they can both see the pages.

“The declassified mission record of Tetsuo Utsugi,” Shikako says, indicating the black and white etching of a vast landscape, a small figure standing in the foreground as contrast.

Shikamaru stays quiet, but internally he thinks he doesn’t like it very much. The figure of Tesuo Utsugi is alone in the picture.

“He was a special jounin from before the times of the Sannin who traveled around the continent having adventures,” his sister enthuses, unaware of Shikamaru’s growing, mystifying unease.

“Is that something you want to do?” he asks, because he honestly doesn’t know. Shikamaru’s future is tied to the clan, to the village–his future is set, Shikako’s isn’t. But the only time she’s ever expressed a preference was to join the Academy instead of Shogakko.

Shikako shrugs, their bony shoulders bumping into each other. She lowers the book so it lays on her belly and joins him in staring at the sunny sky.

For a couple of hours, Shikamaru considers the conversation done. They go home, do chores, have dinner, and go to bed; sky long since gone dark, studded gently with stars.

But only a few minutes later, Shikamaru hears his door open, the soft glow of Shikako’s chakra lighting the room. He shifts to make space for her and after a moment she joins him under the blanket. At first she is silent, but Shikamaru is patient.

“If I do want to go on adventures,” Shikako starts, hesitant, “You’ll be here when I come back, right?”

Shikamaru frowns, “You don’t want me to go with you?”

Shikako shakes her head, cheek pressing into the pillow, “They might be dangerous.”

“Then it’s better to face them together,” he responds. The conversation falls into a lull, the quiet and the dark and the warmth lulling the both of them to sleep.

Nearly a decade later, Shikamaru will remember this conversation and realize that Shikako had never actually agreed.

(They Call It) Soulless, #8, Kamaru

(They Call It) Soulless,  8) things you said when you were crying

Kako says that the things he learns at the Academy are more like general suggestions than hard and fast rules. “The point of the Academy is to standardize everything so that shinobi who haven’t worked with each other before can function as a team if needed. Teamwork is Konoha’s forte, after all,” she says, “But even concepts that sound good have their faults.”

Kako says a lot of things like that, things that force Kamaru to reconsider what other people say. Look underneath the underneath. Mostly, it’s just to prompt him into critical thinking, but there are some Academy lessons that she outrightly dismisses, practically spitting on them.

“A shinobi must never show emotion?” Kako sneers, reading over Kamaru’s shoulder at his homework on the kitchen table, “How stupid.”

Kamaru blinks, looks up at his sister, surprised. More for her venomous tone than the opinion itself.

Kako sighs, softens, explains. She tries to find teaching moments in everything. Sometimes, Kamaru wonders what she’s preparing him for. “Of course, professionalism is important while on duty, and stoicism in the face of danger can be a shield of sorts, but to say never is overly restrictive and impossible to do. Also, emotions can be weapons of their own. Well. I don’t need to tell you that, you’ve met Gai-senpai.”

Kamaru shudders. Yes, he has met his sister’s zealously enthusiastic senpai.

“Not to mention things like killing intent or positive intent… And for all that we’re shinobi, we’re still human. Emotions and all.”

Kamaru nods, marks a bold line through rule #25 on his homework, and keeps going. But he doesn’t really consider the entirety of this conversation until later in the evening, after he’s gone to bed then woken back up, thirsty and blearily walking to the kitchen practically still asleep.

Kako is already there–mostly because their apartment is so small that the kitchen is also their dining and living room–standing in front of the framed picture of their parents, the small stone tablet with their names on the shelf beside it.

It’s the closest thing their parents have to a gravestone. After they died, the Nara had offered to bury their father in the clan graveyard with his family. But they hadn’t extended the offer to their mother.

Unsurprisingly, Kako had refused. “They would want to be together,” she had said. Kako hadn’t cried then.

She’s crying now.

“It’s harder than I thought it would be,” she says to the two dimensional faces of their parents.

Kamaru freezes in place, unable to move forward.

“But I’m going to keep doing it. Even if you wouldn’t approve. I have to protect him. I don’t know if you would have let me. Sometimes I think… it’s awful… but I know that a few weeks more and you would have followed procedure.”

Kamaru’s thoughts whirl. What procedure? He’s pretty sure that Kako is talking about him, but what is she referring to? Her next words send him retreating to his room.

“I can’t help but wonder if maybe it was for the better that you’re gone.”

I tend primarily to feel the most like writing when I’ve just seen someone else write something (or when I’ve promised someone else I’d write, lol), and I’ve loved what you’ve done with the Sakako and Fear To Tread stuff, and you were the first person I thought of when I came up with this (in the next ask):

Peeling away from your flesh leaves a lot of detail behind. The shape of “You” isn’t the same as the shape of your body; the shape of you grows to fill whatever space it’s given. And when I step away from things, just for a bit, I feel bigger and bolder than I have ever grown inside. But I take the bags beneath my eyes with me, and the scar on my left arm (though I don’t take the arm to go with it). I take my aches and my pains with me; I only leave behind the things that aren’t me at all.

A/N: Not to curtail your prompt again, lionheadbookheads, but I’m getting very strong vibes of Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye as well as that one other time you sent me a prompt about the songs “It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning” and “Thunder” and I guess what I’m saying here is that I want to do a Tetsuki Kaiza piece for this prompt, I hope you don’t mind.

Basically, given the whole “who I am is not my physical body” theme, there is a very definitive spiritual over physical and reincarnation message going on here and Tetsuki does do that so… please enjoy?

Viridescent: Or, Tetsuki Follows Her Dreams

She closes her eyes, feels the sunshine warm on her face, and takes a deep breath; the spring breeze carries hints of winter still, cool and slightly damp, but the scent of early blooming flowers layers over that.

Her mobile phone buzzes in her pocket, a staccato vibration, a summoning. The man who pays her income but will never be her Boss, the man who supports her lifestyle but doesn’t provide her survival, the man who determines her waking and sleeping hours but never her thoughts or dreams.

She opens her eyes, raises a hand, and lifts a gun to her temple. Inelegant, but efficient. It reminds her of home.

She pulls the trigger.

She wakes up.

///

She is born in the late autumn months, as both year and century draw to an end. She is born to Fuyuko and Toichi Kaiza in a hospital technically but barely within Tokyo. She is born a wailing, red-faced, and thoroughly average baby girl.

What happens to her after is far from from average.

///

For all that dream-sharing is a largely international industry, it would inaccurate to say that it is one homogenous community. They do not always match official country borders, but there are enclaves within dream-sharing with its own customs and cultures and rules.

Japan is one such enclave.

For the most part, so long as there is no immediate conflict of interest, foreign dreamers may conduct their business without any interference from local entities. This rule is but the second that broadly reigns over the Japanese dream-sharing community.

The first is simply: do not mess with Azuma.

///

The thoroughly average baby girl that will one day be known in certain circles as Azuma does not have a good or even average childhood. She tries to run away from her parents at age six and manages to elude the very expensive private detective service her parents hired for two weeks before getting caught.

Despite the broken arm, it is not the last time she does this. It will be another eight years and twenty or so attempts before she manages to definitively escape her parents’ clutches and that perhaps has equal amount to do with them getting bored as it is with her expertise.

She is searching for people and places that don’t exist anywhere but her own mind, but at least it’s better than staying where she was.

///

Saito of Proclus Global has three executive assistants, all of whom speak a minimum of four languages, are qualified as triple-A certified bodyguards and emergency medical technicians, and have extensive counterintelligence training, among other varied and useful talents.

Though the woman known as Azuma can also be described as such and is frequently seen in proximity of Saito, she is not one of said executive assistants.

Her talents are a little more varied and useful than that.

///

The knowledge she has is helpful–blades and human vulnerabilities the same no matter what, languages and critical training filtering through as needed–but she remembers having powers beyond physical possibility and that’s what ultimately betrays her.

A teenager, no matter how skilled or smart or shrewd, will never be completely safe in the criminal underbelly of a big city. A lone teenager without any ties is a tempting target for many parties.

When they grab her, she fights. Foolishly, she thinks she can win. She forgets she doesn’t have endless lightning at her fingertips, energy bolstering her muscles, superhuman and unstoppable.

When they grab her, she loses. She is just a teenager, and they are a unscrupulous, government funded company trying to pioneer an entirely new method of espionage.

///

Azuma’s patron is a matter of public knowledge. It is not a weakness.

Most professional dreamers in Japan have a primary sponsor–another company, a yakuza family, a government official–and while Azuma’s patron does not have technically have the most influence in Japan, well… Proclus Global. Money is its own kind of power. And that’s not even including what Azuma can bring to the table.

Dreamers in Japan know better than to go after Azuma’s patron. Even non-native dreamers who have heard secondhand of Azuma know better than to attempt it.

Which is why, when Cobol Engineering tries to hire extractors to go after Saito, they are forced to outsource to an unhinged suspected murderer, his loyal point man, and a mediocre architect.

///

The early stages of Somnacin were riddled with problems. Unstable, inefficient, addictive–anything that could have gone wrong, did.

Her body hated every second of it, every drop that coursed through her veins. She spent the next few years in a constantly nauseated state of misery, sick and shaking, more asleep than awake and so terribly weak.

Physically, that is.

Mentally, everything she had lost was regained. The power that eluded her in the waking world flowed easily at her command, the dreamscape the most welcoming place she had been in years.

The other subjects washout–brains fried, suicide, crumbling under the pressure–but she remains. No, more than that, she thrives.

///

Azuma is not an extractor; she is not a point person or architect or chemist either. She can do all of those jobs, of course, but she thinks dividing roles that way is arbitrary and limiting. She is a professional dreamer, with all the responsibilities and capabilities involved.

Her outside reputation is as a forger, though that isn’t quite right either.

Even in dreams, no one can do what Azuma can.

///

Tetsuki is happiest when she dreams.