It is always fun to talk meta about fanfiction world-building/characterizations, so I definitely appreciate the opportunity to do so. Thanks, lionhead! 😀
😀 Thank you? I get that a lot–part of the reason why I even thought I could do the DoS podfic given the main character is a literal thirteen year old girl (or younger!) for most of the story.
If you wanted the full playlist (HOURS OF THE SOFT) all chapters up to date are available here.
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?”
You know, I was sure, despite being the one to submit the prompt, and knowing it would include Naruto and Jiraiya, that the blonde hair Jiraiya had seen was Tsunade’s.
The fact that it was a scientific/medical conference only made that impression stronger, and I was hooked. I was like, “Where’s Naruto coming in? Is this a ‘get Tsunade to become Hokage’ equivalent?” Edge of my seat.
Which made the reveal of the Nara room a surprise, even though it really shouldn’t have been, given the information I had available to me, lol
And now I’m wondering why was the panel so popular? I don’t remember any relevant details from the original line of fics … better re-read, lol! ^_^
I headcanon that Jiraiya is almost always thinking about Tsunade in one way or another 😀
There’s nothing really specific in previous installments that would explain why the panel is so popular, but timeline-wise I made this so that it’s after the incident which resulted in Shikamaru getting a cybernetic arm. Like, Shikako’s already had her debut in the industry, and then she got a little popular, and then she was attacked but Shikamaru got in the way such that he’s the one who got hurt instead. Then Shikako went full hermit for a while–from the community and from her family–and probably would continued doing so if it weren’t for meeting Naruto. But she’s still paranoid, so she requested one of the smaller rooms and the event coordinators were just like “whatever gets you to our convention, yes, you can have this stranger sit next to you.”
So Jiraiya is actually witnessing her comeback, but since HE’S also been out of the loop for a while (probably not long after Minato and Kushina died), he thinks she’s a complete newcomer.
That would be absolutely hilarious and simultaneously poignant.
I absolutely love Shikako and Kankurou’s friendship because it’s very low stakes but not shallow. They are actually fond of each other for no deeper reason than they just like each other’s personalities–Shikako doesn’t have to worry about if she’s influencing him too much (or not enough) and as far as Kankurou knows she’s weird because that’s just how she is and not she’s different from how she was as a child, why are you changing, what secrets are you keeping.
But I went into that here, no use rehashing it.
The idea of actress!Shikako and Kazekage!Kankurou traveling back in time from their bleak future to their less bleak but more dangerous past would sort of test that seemingly shallow friendship. They went through hell together and sort of drifted apart less by choice and more by circumstance. Would they have been united in their grief? Does that no longer apply since the situation that brought said grief about has been unwritten (and could easily be prevented entirely)? Will they actively ignore that bleak future or will it be something they share and acknowledge so as not to make the same mistakes?
I dunno, wildtabbykat, it’s a pretty cool AU of an AU of an AU.
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…
Thanks! 🙂 Shikako’s hyperawareness of danger versus her obliviousness to the most benign things is one of my favorite things of DoS.
I think it was more like, people kept trying to offer places to Naruto for free–and in the humble way of heroes, he didn’t want to accept it–and this kept happening because, hey, hero of the world or something like that, that he didn’t have time to find a place for himself…