oh mmyyyyyyy gooooodddddddneeeesssss. that latest shikako snippet? whoa! just whoa!! i’m a mess????

donapoetrypassion:

jacksgreysays:

😀 Yay! That’s what I was going for, anon.

it was an idea that snowballed–I went literal with the heart matter, then @donapoetrypassion added some spirituality to it (along with prompting the They Call It (Soulless) ficlet), so then I figured since we were escalating I might as well raise to divinity (or, rather, lower to devilry?)

One night -many years and many midnight bargains later- the man at the crossroads is Shikamaru Nara.

“You have a child,” what’s left of his sister says, frowning. “Why are you doing this?” Her voice is too flat. Her face is too young. It’s been that way for quite awhile.

He still loves her. Even the her she is without a heart.

And he does have a child. A little boy, Shikadai. Baby-powder sweet and gummy-smiled.

But this is about responsibility as much as love. Shikamaru’s little boy will grow up in this world. Shikamaru can’t let it be a worse one than his was, growing up.

(It’s about love, too. He’d looked in the photo albums, and found what he thought was Shikadai, giving another gummy smile while holding the hand of someone just out of the picture. But the picture was too old, and Shikamaru had never smiled like that as an infant. He’d looked at the picture of his sister, his baby boy’s aunt who shared his smile, and realized what he lost. What they all had.)

It was Temari, really, who gave him the idea. The notion that a siblings’ heart was something he could get back. It was Kankuro who gave him the stories of puppeteers losing too much of thrmselves, or just enough.

There’s risk in this. Maybe too much. But he did at least have the sense to talk this decision over with his wife, and she approved of him trying. (He’s glad he married Temari. He can’t imagine anyone else really… understanding. What it means to love someone who might not be in a place to return that. What it means to hope.)

Shikamaru Nara has to give up something. He has to give up something real, to even have a chance at his sister back.

But he won’t make his sister’s mistake. He won’t give up too much.

…This will work.

“I’m not giving up my heart, or my soul, or my life,” Shikamaru Nara says calmly. “I’m giving up my other arm.”

(Shikako cries. When she gets back. When they stagger home. When her parents hug her. When a wide-eyed teenage Kino treats her gently. She hates crying, but does it like she’s pouring out all the things she didn’t get to feel for years.

She is.

As for the grief, and self blame- and shameful gratitude- of Shikamaru getting her soul back (at the cost of his other arm, his last one, no, please, no)… she feels so much she doesn’t know what to do with it.

She comes back to a world where the war is over. Where her friends are figuring out how to be not just adults but parents, and she’s figuring out how not to be the Shikabane-hime.

No one says much, about her having a soul now. It’s not exactly public knowledge that she didn’t.

They notice that she ages properly now, for a given value of properly. Growing taller, face growing thinner, and one day, nearly a year later, Shikako notices a white streak in her hair. Tsunade tells her that her strange stop-start aging was likely a side-effect of losing all that life energy as a child. Her life span might be a decade shorter. Not more. (It won’t be longer. Not as long as she had feared. Shikako goes home and cries in relief, in her bed where no one else can see her. Then she gets up and goes back to her life).

AHHHHHHH! SHIKAMARU TAKING ON A DEVIL TO GET HIS SISTER BACK! And, like, why wouldn’t he? He already took on a god. (Never mind they were both sort of his sister also)

Best Thing That’s Ever Been Mine. Rockstar or Royalty au

I had to look through my entire Sabaku no Gaara tag because I foolishly didn’t tag either AUs with a specific tag, mostly because I was probably hoping I’d make a title to attach to them and just never bothered…

Anyway…

Definitely Royalty!AU. I’m getting a vaguely Princess Bride vibe? But, like… also Titanic vibe. In the sense that it’s an older Gaara telling the story of his first love to, probably, the NGSS and the plot twist is that hey, what up, there’s no sad ending. Everyone lives, everything worked out, hooray, Gaara’s first love aka Shikako is in fact their adoptive mom so it’s all good.

Like a less bullshit/skeezy version of How I Met Your Mother, basically. But because Gaara is very solemn and surprisingly poetic it’d sound like an epic in the literal sense and not just a creepy guy complaining about his failed relationships.

I guess this would be a good title for the more action-filled version of Royalty!AU where, along with the sweeping fairy tale romance tabloid drama, there is also a sub-plot of the Akatsuki being an anti-monarchy terrorist group and feeling of betrayal when Shikako is believed to be involved in an assassination attempt against Temari.

But that’d basically be cheating on my part, so let’s see…

I guess this could just straight up be a bad ending!version of the Royalty!AU? Not ~dead~ bad ending, but a “it just couldn’t work out” bad ending… but that’s dissatisfying.

Hm… I don’t know, anon…

This actually feels more like a TemarixShikamaru B-sides of Royalty!AU than the A-sides that is Shikaara. And, like, in this AU Temari can’t abdicate her role so it is a “bad ending” for them…

OH! So it’d be more like the ClarissexJoe subplot from Princess Diaries 2–in that they never allowed themselves to be together because of ~duty and propriety~ until after her heir was established.

Which means it would still be a story to the NGSS (one of whom is taking up the throne) decades after the initial meeting and falling in love, but it’s not entirely cliche “this is how it happened” because their story isn’t done yet! 😀

Like. Everyone’s eyes were on the fairy tale romance of the century that was Shikaara, unbeknownst to nearly everyone else there was this drama of firstborns resisting love because of their duties. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

“There’s Nothing in this World (I wouldn’t do)” — I’m feeling very sympathetic to Shikako’s depressed collapse on the couch after her fight with Shikamaru in front of Sasuke, right now. It’s the Depression. Although I’m not particularly picky in terms of ‘verse, I’m hoping you’d have something that fits that sort of theme? ((the title is a reference to Avicii’s “Hey Brother”))

donapoetrypassion:

jacksgreysays:

I don’t know if it’s my brain enjoying making connections, me having so many different AUs, or me being lazy, but I’m getting a sort of Dreaming of S(hade) vibe from the post. But, like, specifically the situation, not the ‘verse.

So, to be clear, it’d be about a Shikako who, while in a desperate battle, tries to use the night itself as a shadow (being the opposite side of the planet as the sun) and disperses herself into the void. Like with going into the black but on such a massive scale that, for the most part, very few people expect her to be able to come back.

Shikamaru is not one of those people.

Shikamaru will damn well make sure she comes back even if he has to fight a hundred gods to do this.

So instead of letting her recover slowly in Suna, as in Dreaming of S(hade), Shikamaru goes on a quest to find a cure for her. Or, well, I guess their not exactly incompatible? He could make sure she’s settled in Suna before going off on his quest.

Which turns the dynamic around. Because we know they’re protective of each other, and we know Shikamaru would throw down with anyone that looked at her the wrong way, but Shikamaru is very… sedentary. He’s very earthbound and dedicated to the clan, the village. Shikako isn’t the crowned heir–she learns some things, yes, but she’s not the one who had to say the oath–so she has the luxury to travel as she does and follow her own pursuits.

So what if it’s Shikamaru who has to travel? What if he’s the one who has to put his intellect to work not in logistics and leadership as he’s been trained, but in sleuthing and translating and cobbling together snippets of a long ago technique that might just be able to help his sister?

Or, consider, it doesn’t even need to be specifically a B-side to Dreaming of S(hade) it could be a canon divergence fic. Post Land of Hot Springs, Shikako in all but a coma, lost to the world. Her family’s greatest fears come to pass–she doesn’t wake up, doesn’t snap out of it. Nothing Kasuga can think of works, the Sharingan (Sasuke’s and Kakashi’s both) can’t get through her defenses, whatever buzz word Sai used to get her out of the hospital doesn’t work (or, rather, Danzo doesn’t try to kidnap her so Sai doesn’t sneak in and smuggle her out of the hospital), and so she’s just lost.

Now–during the war, with their father on the front lines and Shikamaru needed at home as acting head–nothing can be done. But afterwards? Well. When Shikaku gets back, he’d be hard pressed to keep his heir in Konoha. And, in part, would he want to? He knows tradition would say to keep his heir safe–make sure the succession is unbroken–but when has he ever adhered to tradition?

So it is sort of a coming of age story for Shikamaru as he travels to find a cure for his sister and figures out who he is outside of Nara, outside of Konoha.

Which is, frankly bizarre to read now that I’ve typed it. Because… like… who even IS Shikamaru outside of Nara and Konoha?

The reason why I did bring of Dreaming of S(hade) first, instead of doing the post Land of Hot Springs!canon divergence, was because if Shikako is dispersed into the night (as the literal shadow of the world) then there could be some scenes from Shikako’s POV? Or he sort of interacts with her at night? Something that isn’t so turtled into herself that no one can reach.

I suppose it’s not so much about depression as you’d asked for, anon…

Oooh… I really like this. Because that’s the question, isn’t it? Who IS Shikamaru, outside of the Nara, outside of Konoha? We don’t know- and neither does he. (This is actually one of the reasons I think Temari might be good for him, down the line. Because I think she might be able to help him figure that out, or at least push him to do it on his own.)

I don’t know why I had never thought of their relationship like that before, but it’s perfect! Yes! Exactly that!

Well, we all know that Shikako is uninterested in romance but I think it’s worth considering Surprisingly!Smooth!Shikamaru? After all, Shikaku stealth romanced Yoshino pretty fiercely, according to the sidestories, and Shikamaru was the only one of the rookies to actually be shown *dating* in canon. (As far as I remember, anyway.) Uh, so prompting for contrast!twins in which Shikako is totally oblivious and Shikamaru is the master of the (lazy) date.

jacksgreysays:

Hahahaha, I actually think Shikako comes off as a lot more charming/smooth to those who didn’t grow up with her (ie Team Ten and Sakura) but she doesn’t actually do it on purpose/know what to do with it. So Shikako accidentally-flirting-with-people-and-not-knowing/intending-to-follow-up is how I headcanon her properly in DoS, while Shikamaru is way suave in all aspects of dating in comparison.

It’s definitely a cool idea, but I’m not sure how I’d implement it. Like, does Shikako finally get asked out and she has no idea what to do so she turns to her brother for help and she’s over here planning it out like some kind of battle while he’s just like… no, Kako, that’s not how it works. Or is it Shikamaru’s POV of the trail of admirers his sister leaves behind–and possibly having to carefully screen through his own dates to make sure not to go out with someone who once had a crush on his sister because that would be weird?

But I’ll put it on the list, anon, and hopefully something will come to me. 🙂

my five year plan
is to maybe go out for ice cream
this afternoon?
(Live every day like the ice cream store is closing.)

He says this with the utmost respect and the deepest of loves:

When it comes to people’s opinions of her, his sister is unbelievably oblivious.

He is sitting guard by her bedside–chakra exhaustion, a gouged hand and forearm, and the usual scrapes and bruises that comes from their line of work–a lamp on behind him casting his shadow long across the room. Anyone who wants to come near her would have to enter his range.

A knock at the door, a curt if polite scuff of feet.

This must be the fifth visit his sister has gotten since he began his watch–he’s only been sitting here for a few hours.

“Come in,” he says, exhausted, the tone of someone who has fought beyond his limits, nearly lost his sister, and may very well still lose both of his teammates.

The Sand shinobi that enters is familiar and a recent field ally, but he also remembers that the first time they met Temari was on the opposite side of an invasion. And it was his sister that had decided the Sand Siblings’ fates when they were vulnerable.

His shadow roils, cautious.

Temari raises her hands in front of her, both of them open at first, before clasping them together–a practiced, almost casual motion meant to convey one is not concealing any weapons.

It doesn’t really mean anything–not with her talent in wind ninjutsu and the giant metal fan strapped to her back–but the intent behind the gesture is appreciated.

She’s still in range of his shadow anyway, and they both remember how their tournament fight ended.

“May I sit?” she asks, tilting her head towards the other visitor’s chair.

Shikamaru shrugs, which is permission enough.

The silence between them is far from comfortable, but at least it’s not charged with hostility.

“Your sister…”

Shikamaru, if he ever did relax, snaps back to attention.

“… she’s interesting,” Temari finishes, simply.

And maybe it’s the stress of the day, or just how much of an understatement that is, but Shikamaru knows it’s both compliment and question and so he just starts to laugh.

After a moment of surprise, Temari smiles at him.

~

A/N: Uh… not completely in line with either your prompt or my own a softer world self-prompt, but it’s been many moons of languishing on my giant list of prompts and I figured something is better than nothing?

And I know Shikamaru starts dating TenTen after the Sasuke Retrieval Arc–but this is more pre-Shikamaru/Temari than actual…

Character Statistics: Naruto, Sand Siblings

First

(data as of first appearance, Konoha Chuunin Exams)


Second

(data as of second appearance, Sasuke Recovery Arc)


Third

(data as of third appearance, Shippuden)


Baki

Gaara

Kankurou

Temari

~

A/N: The Sand Siblings (+Baki)! I made this mostly as a comparison to my set of Dreaming of Sunshine Character Statistics posts, but I figured since I made the charts I might as well make a post of it.

So… please let me know if anything looks off to you or if you think there are some data points that ought to be adjusted. I am open to alternatives and if the logic is sound then I’ll edit the data–though I didn’t change very much from their stats in canon (except, obviously for making up the “Special” category entirely)

Please enjoy! 😀

Song remains Anon: half the fun of these is seeing what not-the-obvious answer you come up with. Though time travel when nothing has gone wrong/can be fixed is an unusual take on the trope XD

jacksgreysays:

Oh thank god. I’m just like… crap, there was a reference. Oh god. Why. End me now.

I’m glad my tangential brainstorms are entertaining, anon, because otherwise it’s just me ranting at myself and gesturing at my screen to nobody. 🙂

Time travel is my not-so-secret favorite trope and while I do love seeing it played out normally, I am especially fond of it when there are tweaks. Or when it’s not just a formulaic “do this instead of this and the future is saved.” There was no end of the world for Gaara to fix and there was no path for him to divert. Just the knowledge that things won’t stay the same.

Also, I not-so-secretly love sad things. 😀

image

Kinda? Well. I haven’t really thought about it too much considering it is an AU so far outside of canon that there is no easy one-to-one adaptation for it.

I mean it’s just an inevitability thing, I think. The Sand Trio wouldn’t be a band together forever: they’d end up breaking up because of an argument or drifting apart or literally someone dies. And given the state of the world in this AU deaths are a little harder to come by, and I don’t really see an argument breaking up this iteration of the Sand Siblings. So drifting apart feels the most natural for them.

As for the Shikaara relationship? Well I suuper don’t know for that.

‘The song remains the same’ rockstar!gaara AU

Ahahahaha, this is a great prompt anon. The problem is I would just use the title you’ve given me for the rockstar!AU. I mean maybe the only difference would be the implication that the rockstar!AU is somehow related to canon DoS?

Or, well… hm…

Maybe a Time Loop!AU of the rockstar!AU? Or maybe a post-breakup!rockstar!Gaara goes back in time to before the breakup (both with his siblings and with Shikako?) But that seems so sad!

Then again, I do love sad things.

the song remains the same

Five years after the breakup–both breakups, not that the media cared about one of them–Gaara wakes up the morning of the Sand Trio’s first official gig.

The same day he met Shikako.

And then it would basically be rockstar!AU except with additional time traveller!Gaara who is doing his utter best not to mess things up.

But he’s kinda conspicuous about it?

Then again, I don’t actually know what would have gone wrong enough to cause break ups considering this Gaara is not a sleep-deprived demon container and this is not a highly militaristic ninja world.

It could very well be that it’s not something he specifically did. Maybe he and his siblings just drifted apart–artistic differences and different opportunities becoming available for them. Temari went solo, Kankurou ended up doing a lot of collaborations with other artists, Gaara wrote music for movies and tv shows and musicals. So the breakup between the siblings would have been amicable.

But I really have no idea what would have gone down between Gaara and Shikako, then.

Was it a fame thing? A time thing? A misunderstanding? I have no idea, anon.

Anyway, time traveller!Gaara being really courteous and trying to change the future but in a less frantic way than Shikako in DoS. It kind of hurts my heart, though. In a fantastic way, because I do love sad things–let’s be honest here–and in this fic it would be Gaara trying so hard not to “make the same mistakes” but the problem is he didn’t MAKE any mistakes.

There’s no one point where Temari decided to go for her solo career instead of sticking with her brothers. Kankurou has always loved collaborations, it’s not something he chose as a second place or because he hated being in the Sand Trio.

Some relationships just don’t last.

Although maybe he does change his relationship with Shikako. Or, no, not MAYBE. He does. Because he’s a different person when they meet which means they’d have a different dynamic. Maybe not too different, but still changed.

The songs are the same, though. That’s all he has left of that previously timeline, the songs he carries with him, that he brought back. Because Shikako is the same, it’s him that’s different.

Although, maybe, to reflect that he writes other songs on top of those songs he brought back. And I suppose this fic would end with the Sand Trio’s last concert–and most of the songs are the same, but there are a few to reflect that Gaara has made changes.

Making sad headcanons about rockstar!AU, excellent prompt anon! 😀

edit: friiiiiiiick, I am clearly NOT CATCHING these references. did not make the led zeppelin connection until i was tagging this post. YOU WERE PROBABLY AIMING FOR A BEHIND THE SCENES THING WITH THE SAND TRIO? AAAAAAAAAAH, MY BAD ANON.

That witches!verse seems really cool! Maybe some background lore pls?

Sorry this is late, anon, the past week has not been particularly conducive to rest much less writing so…

Background lore for witches!verse… you mean like worldbuilding?

The way I see it, magical communities are kind of like minorities/ethnic groups. Magicians gather together and there are cultural differences but it’s not two separate worlds/governments as it is in the HP series.

To that end, separate magical communities from separate countries would develop differently (but not too far astray) so Temari and Shikako have different styles of magic.

For the most part, though, consider learning magic like how language works. Mostly from parents, yes, but there’s probably some “clubs” or special classes. (So Sakura, as the muggleborn equivalent, does have access to magical education).

While the magical community isn’t separate, it is mostly a secret. Or… it is now. Modern magical communities believe in discretion and protecting themselves, but they don’t isolate themselves completely (as per having an annual deer petting zoo/sleigh rides that even non-magical people can appreciate).

Now for more interesting world building!

The summon realm is a separate plane but it is, simultaneously, overlapping with the real world. Magicians–generally witches, though occasionally a wizard will also have enough magic to do so–can form a bond with specific summon who will help them control/amplify their abilities.

The Nara, as an entrenched clan, have a partnership with the deer. Shikako can make Heijomaru tangible and, with a little more power, he can do the same to the rest of the herd. Conversely, there have been a few years where different members of the clan are assigned to different deer (multiple magicians to one deer if need be) but having someone powerful enough to make Heijomaru tangible is a fairly rare thing.

Temari’s family, on the other hand, are not tied to any one summon line. They’re a big believer in throwing their children in the deep end (even though the swimming analogy doesn’t really apply to desert scions). And Kamatari, being an former warrior summon, found Temari a worthy witch.

Unsurprisingly, Temari is a wind witch–she travels often and wherever the wind may blow–whereas Shikako is more grounded in this AU than canon DoS (being an earth witch). That’s definitely something I’d bank more on in this AU–their opposing elemental leanings and that not-quite conflict between their differing styles and philosophies of magic.

Shikako has so many friends and is so involved with the magical community, whereas Temari is polite but not friendly and while she picks up different kinds of magics often it’s a more self-serving gathering.

But I do think, at heart, Shikako would want to travel too–and I suppose that’s what this AU endgame would be. Shikako’s community acknowledging her desires and releasing her from any obligations, though with some misunderstandings in which Temari is possibly accused of trying to charm her away from home.

… unsure if this answers your question, anon.

Merry Christmas! Thanks for all your hard work. That’s some good bones for the Temari/Shikako snippet, I’d love to see more! Thanks again!

A/N1: Merry Christmas to you too! I’m grateful for your continued support and also your own wonderful artworks 🙂

I’m glad you like the snippet. Unfortunately, I can’t think of much else to do with that ‘verse that wouldn’t just be a remix of Dreaming of S(omething).

However there is an AU that I’ve kind of been wanting to play around with that I think would suit Temari/Shikako, so please enjoy:

~

Temari lets Kamatari roam free, only keeping half an eye on him as he darts beneath unsuspecting pedestrians. He’s smart enough to know not to go too far from her, and quick enough to avoid actually getting trampled.

And besides, as a manifestation of her magic, it’s not like he can even be seen by normal people.

She turns her attention back to the stall in front of her, perusing the little trinkets for sale. She knows what to get for Kankurou–an authentic Fire Country style puppet and, more importantly, the book on how to make them–but Gaara has always been more difficult to read.

Maybe a tooled leather wallet? But that seems kind of impersonal, especially for her baby brother. Well, no longer a baby. If he were still a baby–or even still a teenager–she’d get him a stuffed toy, but Gaara has been quite firm about being an adult lately and she doesn’t want to undermine that.

With a polite shake of the head, she disengages from the stall owner and continues her search.

The concept of an open air market isn’t unfamiliar to her, Suna’s bazaars are extensive and world famous, but Leaf’s night market is a seasonal thing, coinciding with their winter holidays, and it’s apparent. There’s a sense of cheer in the air–the twinkling lights and decorations, the sounds of music and the scent of sugary treats–as if this were a month long festival and not just a place of commerce.

Unfamiliar, but far from bad. One of many new experiences she can appreciate during her year abroad.

A frisson of excitement runs through her, stopping her in her tracks. Baffled, she glances around–only stall signs and the shoes of strangers.

Where is Kamatari?

Every year for the Konoha Holiday Night Market, the Nara clan run an unusually successful deer petting zoo and sleigh ride.

Unnaturally successful, some might even say, except there aren’t any detractors to the Nara deer display. There have never been any accidents and there’s something irresistibly delightful about having a normally skittish animal eat from your hands.

“… and make sure you keep your fingers flat,” Shikako finishes instructing, demonstrating for the group of kids eagerly waiting for their turn. Gemmei, one of the herds oldest and thus calmest members, is perfect for the excitable audience, delicately taking the apple slice into her mouth and chewing demurely.

With gasps of awe, the children circle around, each armed with apple slices or carrot sticks of their own. Shikako extracts herself, confident that Gemmei has the situation handled, before walking over to Heijomaru and leaning against him with a tired sigh.

He deigns to acknowledge her with a fond lipping to her hair, before resuming a majestic surveillance of his herd. It’s not likely there will be any incidents, even with little Nagaoka new to the display this year, but this is the one time a year that the herd can receive attention from non-magical people.

Heijomaru is old enough to remember when the general populace were not so kind to his herd–deer and humans both.

Still, even with the relative ease that comes from running a petting zoo with sentient deer, it’s still tiring. Draining, more precisely.

Her family and relatives are the ones doing most of the manual labor, but she’s the one whose magic is sustaining the herd’s presence.

Slouched over and near to hanging off Heijomaru’s ornamented saddle, Shikako is the first one to spot the sleek furry body of a weasel winding its way around the fence posts of the herd’s display.

Temari follows the connection between her and Kamatari, curious more than concerned. The ebbs of emotion from Kamatari aren’t nearly as potent as that first one, but they’re still giddy. Burbling as if he were still a young kit and not a hardened combat familiar.

Their bond leads her to the far end of the market, filled more with the activity and entertainment stalls that she had originally declined.

Perhaps that had been a mistake.

Approaching a penned off area filled with the scent of animal and straw, she watches as Kamatari clambers over the back of a massive deer. He leaps, flamboyantly, from deer to fence and back,  as the large animal trots arounds patiently.

The most bewildering part is that, from the cheers and applause from the crowd of people around her, others can see him too.

~

A/N: Unsurprisingly influenced by the holiday. And again, more pre-shipping than actual shipping… But basically, modern witches with animal familiars! 😀

Hey, so I was thinking on the whole Sand Sibs x Nara Sibs thing and I realized that a pairing I’ve NEVER seen before is Temari/Shikako. I have no idea how this would even happen but, eh. It’s fine if you don’t do this, it’s mostly just my brain spewing things late at night. Nice Haku/Shikako snippet btw!

A/N1: I like the way you think, anon! I suppose I also never considered a Sand Sibs x Nara Twins recombination that would lead to Temari/Shikako. And at first, the Shikaara shipper in me was like wait, what, why? But then that what became a hm… And then that led to this little snippet.

Hope you enjoy!

~

It is known that fools fail to recognize competence. In theirselves and in others.

A long lived saying in Sunagakure, most recently applied to those who might look down on them: the Wind Daimyo who could not truly understand the scorpion he was taunting. The other villages for dismissing their true power. Leaf especially, for thinking Suna a tamed creature at their beck and call.

How embarrassing that she would fall prey to that very mistake.

In enemy territory on the cusp of an invasion–at ground zero of the main force, in fact, holding the exploding tag but not the trigger–she is constantly on edge. Stressed out, a step away from panicking constantly, and all of this threaded through with strangely potent homesickness.

Temari hardly notices her, really. One out of what seems like a thousand Leaf nin too childish to know what being shinobi actually means.

She didn’t have time to commit to memory that first meeting, not when Gaara toed that line of violence and madness and Kankurou could easily misstep into the line of fire.

There will be other chances.

She had been raised knowing that, one day, she would have to take up her father’s mantle–inherit his mistakes without any of his glories–simply because there was no one else.

Not Kankurou, who would fracture under the pressure. Not Gaara who was a sword with no sheathe or hilt.

Just her, a master of wind, tied down and grounded because of blood.

But that was before.

Second contact, not so much a meeting as a mutual observance.

The Leaf are as weak as she had been told–it’s only because the Exams are in their own home that so many of them have reached this stage. Most of the fights are overdramatic grandstanding or silly kid’s spars. Even Temari’s opponent, who looked perhaps the most dedicated to her chosen profession, falls easily enough during the preliminaries.

Second contact, Temari knows in hindsight, shows just how foolish she was. She couldn’t exactly throw stones when it came to not wanting to fight her brother.

A specific brother, at least.

Though no doubt Temari’s reasoning is very different from the Leaf girl’s.

She is no stranger to change–the winds ever shifting, the vast sands constantly in flux–people of the desert are sturdy, yes, but survival comes from adaptability not stubbornness.

Even change, though, can be predictable. The mapping of stars and weather forecasts, winds following patterns that can be harnessed.

All her life, Temari was in free fall, never expecting the updraft that would let her catch the currents.

The invasion has started, Suna lost before it begun–manipulated by a serpent far more poisonous than they, their ultimate weapon proven nothing more than a scared boy with more power than sense.

Her father is dead. Has possibly been dead for a while.

She is the head of her clan now. The head of her family.

For that is what they are, despite their depleted numbers and strained bonds. She and her brothers, running from a fight their father started, and Leaf nin on their tails.

Power isn’t everything when all other factors–strategy, numbers, environment, exhaustion–are working against them.

They are losing, another man’s pawns in someone else’s war, and Temari knows very well what might happen next.

Their third encounter, Temari learns just how much of a fool she’s been.

~

A/N2: So not outrightly shipping, but sort of pre-shipping?

I guess it’s mostly just me trying to see what the main aspects of a Temari/Shikako ship would be and, in this case, it would be that Temari respects (and appreciates and is attracted to?) competence in other people. And Shikako is, despite her occasional blunder and social insecurities, a highly competent person.