1123. Some friends you see / every day, / and some friends you see / when there’s blood / in the air. / You need both. / (Your daytime friends are no help in the dark.) Sai/Shikako

Some friends you see every day,
and some friends you see when there’s blood in the air.
You need both.
(Your daytime friends are no help in the dark.)

(the dark side of the moon)

This is a story about mistakes.

Shikako makes the mistake of trying to help. It comes to naught–an entire clan massacred regardless of her attempts–and worse, she catches the eye of a predator far more dangerous than the rogue S-rank Uchiha.

Shikaku mistakenly tries to protect his daughter, rearranging team assignments to give her a less hazardous placement. But high risk yields high rewards, and he doesn’t know he is playing against an opponent with even more influence than the Jounin Commander.

But for all his power it’s Danzo that makes the biggest mistake of all:

When he takes Shikako for ROOT, he pairs her with Sai.

///

(The Queen’s Silver General)

A war.

This is what her presence has wrought.

She thought she was helping or, at the very least keeping equilibrium, the mathematics of human lives.

Clearly not the case.

She has been preparing for a specific crisis, all of the villages against an elite twelve person organization. She hadn’t trained for a war in mind. The entire continent’s teeth and claws turned upon each other instead.

What can one sunny optimist do against politics and generations-long grudges? How can one bloodline heir stand up to armies?

The saga of Naruto and Sasuke had been a personal thing, intimate, a matter of individuals and differing beliefs.

They aren’t meant for war.

She needs a soldier, not a hero.

///

(Strong In The Real Way)

“I’m not a tourmaline,” Hematite says, factual but almost hesitant, as if he were internally considering the offer even while his mouth rejected the idea, “You should ask the captain.”

The native tourmaline–to differentiate from the tourmaline that is captain of their scouting team–gives a wry smile. “I know that, Hematite,” she says, and he’s grateful for that.

The human-amber fusion has taken to naming all of the gems. The captain and Morganite have both adopted theirs quickly enough, but he doesn’t understand what the function of it is. The native tourmaline, at least, as chosen to respect his reluctance.

“I already know what it’s like to be a tourmaline,” she continues, and reaches out her hand, “Don’t you wonder about being something–someone–else?”

It takes him a while to consider it, but the tourmaline–Shikako, if she respects his preference, then he should do the same–is patient.

He takes her hand; they dance, they converse, they fuse, they become–

Titanite stands tall and strong and powerful.

More than that: together, Titanite understands.

~

A/N: … sorry, I don’t know what that last one is about. But thanks for the prompt, anon.

Meaning of Titanite! I also considered Diopside, but that seemed more in line with a Shikako/Sasuke fusion?

Number + Ship + (optional) AU –> my ask box

[If anyone else wants to do a softer world prompt that isn’t on the list, you can just send the page id number for the original comic instead.]

967 ‘When I look at you / all I can see / are the mistakes / we’re going to make. / (The future’s so bright.)’ Parents of the Walking Around-verse

When I look at you all I can see

are the mistakes we’re going to make.
(The future’s so bright.)

“She loves me!” Naruto says, a wild smile bright on his face. After a beat–maybe too long of one–he continues, “And I love her!”

Shikako tries to keep the skepticism off her face, Sasuke doesn’t even bother.

“You love everyone, idiot,” he scoffs, but its softened by a rueful tone. He of all people knows and has benefited from Naruto’s boundless affection. “Doesn’t mean you should marry them.”

Shikako presses her lips into a flat line, catching her retort before it can be said. This isn’t about her and Sasuke and her unfavorable opinion of marriage, this is about Naruto.

His smile dims and his brow furrows, but his eyes are no less wild, “What are you saying?”

“Hinata is a great person,” Shikako goes for a more delicate approach, “And we both like her, of course we do, she’s our friend…”

She pauses, trying to find the right words.

“… we want you to be happy. If being married to Hinata will make both of you happy, then… we’re happy for you.”

Naruto smiles again, small but earnest, and he wraps her up in a hug. Sasuke attempts to meet her eyes over his shoulder, but she looks away.

She already knows what he’s trying to say.

///

It’s dark when Sakura goes home, sun long set and the village night life already in full swing. She creeps into the house and knows it doesn’t really matter–not in the heart of the Yamanaka compound, where everyone including her wife is a sensor–but surely it’s the thought that counts?

Or perhaps Ino is still mad at her, because it’s Sai alone who sits at the table, a plate of dinner wrapped up for her.

So obviously caught, she murmurs, “I’m home.”

“Welcome home,” Sai responds, words and smile placid, and gestures to the plate. Once it’s heated, she sits down next to him and pushes the food around instead of eating.

Silence reigns.

“Are you mad at me too?” she asks.

He shakes his head.

“… did I hurt you?” she asks again, almost timid.

Again, he shakes his head, “It’s not my place to be mad or hurt by your decision.”

He sounds honest, and Sakura does believe him, but she still feels the need to explain herself. “I… it’s not that I don’t–you would be an amazing father, Sai. And I would love it if you were to help parent my child.

“But I. This is my project. My chance to make a mark on Konoha. And I’m not doing this out of some lingering feelings for Sasuke-kun, Ino’s just being vicious, but–”

Sai puts a hand on Sakura’s and she stops rambling, “I would be honored to treat any child of yours as my own, no matter who their father is.”

~

A/N: Uh so… two different takes on the prompt, but hopefully you enjoy it, anon? (I personally like NarutoxHinata in fanfic–in which their relationship is better fleshed out for obvious reasons (DAMN IT, KISHIMOTO)–but in canon I’m just like… oh… oh dear… ooooh this is painful. This isn’t meant to be NaruHina bashing, and I apologize if it comes off as such)

I was also considering doing a third one with Chocho’s birth and the whole “hey, we were at war with Cloud not that long ago and now one of our noble clan’s future head is half Cloud” but, uh, seeing as how I don’t know how that will go or even much about Cloud nin at all I decided not to.

Number + Ship + (optional) AU –> my ask box

[If anyone else wants to do a softer world prompt that isn’t on the list, you can just send the page id number for the original comic like what this anon did]

(If you’re only doing the ones on the post feel free to ignore, but) this Softer World makes me thing of Friendship Is A Mutual Con: “All aboard the friend ship! / Today we’re carrying munitions / and no running lights. / (I’ll be the Imo this time. You can be the Mont-Blanc.)”

All aboard the friend ship!
Today we’re carrying munitions
and no running lights.
(I’ll be the Imo this time. You can be the Mont-Blanc.)

It was only ever supposed to be temporary.

(There are sirens and screaming. The roaring of the flames. Dust and smoke in the air.)

Sakura knew this coming in: it was just a favor for a friend, a learning experience.

(Beneath her hands, a man screams, blood gushing out around the piece of rebar through his shoulder.)

And she has learned a lot, advanced her own skills not only in healing and fighting, but in grifting and hacking and stealing. She’s had fun and she cares for her teammates. She doesn’t regret any of it.

(She stabilizes him as best as she can–it’s not fatal, not with ambulances on the way, he’ll be brought to a hospital soon and they can do more for him there–and moves on to the next person.)

But it was only meant to be temporary.

(When she’s done with triage, she leaves with one of the ambulances, holding the hand of a woman who might lose her leg tonight.

The explosion was far too big–nothing at all like the controlled blast that was part of the plan–and no one is answering on the comms.

She follows protocol and gets out.)

The explosion knocks both of them off their feet. Sai drops his gun.

Yamato doesn’t.

“Don’t,” he warns, simply, barrel aimed perfectly even if he is awkwardly crouched against the wall and his head is aching from the collision.

Sai raises his hands, moves away from where his gun lies by his feet slow and calm and as expressionless as ever.

“Was it you?” Yamato asks, uncaring of the encroaching fire and the heat and the ringing in his ears. “Interpol showed up before the alarms went off. There’s no way they could have come here so fast unless they were warned ahead of time.”

He would know. He used to be one.

Sai doesn’t deny it, Yamato cocks his gun. They’ll probably both burn to death if they don’t leave now, but Yamato isn’t willing to leave that up to chance.

“Kakashi-taicho told me to.”

“Teammates don’t keep secrets from each other,” Sasuke grits out, praying to any god that’s listening that the ropes don’t snap. His arms are killing him, and he can see from the look on Naruto’s face that the harness is becoming painful.

The rig is only designed for one person’s weight–maybe two, tops, but definitely not three.

Shikako doesn’t answer.

“I’ll drop you,” Sasuke threatens, but doesn’t mean it. If it were a shorter fall, maybe, but at this height–this many stories up–it would kill her.

“I was trying to keep you safe,” she says, finally, and while she doesn’t really think Sasuke will drop her, she coils the rope in her free hand just in case.

Sasuke dismisses it immediately, “What, by keeping us in the dark?”

“Well… I mean. That is kind of my thing.”

Naruto snorts. Or maybe that’s a grunt of pain.

“This isn’t the time for jokes,” Sasuke scolds.

“This isn’t the time for arguing either,” Naruto wheezes out, and both of his teammates focus, “We need to get out of here.”

The elevator shaft was an impromptu haven, sliding doors heavy enough to save them from the blast, but it very well might be their death if  they don’t figure a way out of this mess.

Kakashi sits at a table, a dim lamp the only source of light in the room.

Across from him is a dead man.

“It’s nothing personal,” says the dead man, smile on his face.

It’s a struggle to put a matching smile on his own, but Kakashi isn’t a grifter in name only. “Of course not,” he says, casual and cool and not at all what he feels.

“What’s a little sabotage between friends?”

~

A/N: I have no concrete idea of what is or isn’t canon in the Friendship Is A (Mutual) Con ‘verse, so I don’t know if the “dead man” is Obito or… I don’t know.

Basically, this would be one of the season finale type episodes in Leverage–the one in which everything honestly goes to shit and the crew barely make it out alive (and have to disperse for several months before reuniting and getting even).

Thanks for the prompt, anon!

Number + Ship + (optional) AU –> my ask box

yknow, with that anon said about inokako flowershop/tattoo parlor and sai, i feel like he would be the most blatant-speaking third wheel (unless it’s sai/ino/kako??? oh wait he’ll still be blunt) who would be the definition of KY (which means kuuki yomenai or can’t read the situation). yep. i support this au so much.

Hahaha, basically 🙂 You know if this were to be actually written, Sai’s POV would be the funniest to read.

“And then Ino-senpai went across the street to borrow extra pens, even though we already have many pens in different colors. It took Ino-senpai twenty seven minutes to return, which is highly inefficient, and she did not even have a pen with her.”

… hrm, I don’t know if I have Sai’s voice down.

““flower shop and tattoo parlor”!AU revolving around Ino and Shikako” Is it weird I could see this happening post canon? Ino already has the flowershop going, throw in Shikako doing seals for whatever ninja want to pay money for skin-seals… (Sai doing the artwork? idk) and the set up for it is already there…

I know, right? Like, it’s a very small step away from canon which are my favorite kind of AUs.

I’m not sure how much Sai would want to be involved in putting seals on people (given his own childhood trauma) but I do think he would flourish fabulously in the flower shop as Ino’s assistant (that frequently has to step up to the register because Ino has gone across the street to hang out with Shikako).

So in the reminder to dream au what would have happened to his parents lab? Attacked by the corrupt police with Kurama? Oh maybe the tailed beasts are actually part of an ancient entity that the police stumbled upon and had put a piece in an Android to try and control. The one they used to attack Naruto’s parents escaped so they uploaded it along with Naruto?

@donapoetrypassion’s questions:
(I’m just gonna float some ideas/questions your ways as they occur to me): Shikamaru has a new cybernetic arm- in this verse, how did he lose his flesh one?

Does Shikako’s hypersensitivity diagnosis have an in-universe equivalent?

Oooh… Danzo’s stolen mind-control eye… in a universe where so much runs on robotics and (presumably) many people have robotic limbs…

If the word ‘enslaved’ possibly applies to Naruto, what word applies to this world’s equivalent of Sai? And why?

Shikako seems like an adult with a job- that do the other Konoha 12 do?

(Does the internet affect what kind of shogi/strategy games Shikamaru plays? Who he plays? Are there competitions? Is he a professional shogi player who doesn’t actually need an income from another kind of job?)

(As you can see, I took that invitation and ran with it. I’ll stop bugging you now, though.)

Oh wow, okay, I totally asked for this and I’m grateful for the questions, so let me just wade through these first… (Also, dona, your questions are in no way bugging me. Actually your questions almost always make me contemplate deeper ramifications for my AUs, so thanks!)

I’m still not entirely sure what happened to Naruto’s parents exactly, but I do think they were probably working on something to do with the Kyuubi. The problem is I don’t know what it is exactly, either, beyond something like a… sentient “nature-made” AI. Like… something on the scope of the internet. Or The Machine from Person of Interest. A sort of cybernetic eldritch horror that lives in machines and consumes code… so maybe the bijuu are a virus?

Um, yeah. So whatever Kyuubi is, the Uchiha probably had some kind of secret epic code to control it and the Kyuubi in turn took over the lab Naruto’s parents were working in?

Maybe they were working on putting the Kyuubi in a robot body so it could properly “live” except the Uchiha found out about it, wanted the Kyuubi robot, tried to buy it from Naruto’s parents, and ended up just taking it by force. Leading to the deaths of the Namikaze-Uzumaki family. (Unsure if I also want Naruto to have physically died but been uploaded into the robot body along with the Kyuubi, or if he’s still alive but doesn’t know it and his body has some kind of uplink connecting him with the Kyuubi robot body).

Shikamaru probably lost his flesh arm in an incident involving Shikako. I’m thinking something like… a tech expo and an overzealous rival/fan attacked her? But then Shikamaru got on the way and so there’s still guilt on Shikako’s end, as per canon–maybe this was pretty recent and the reason why she hasn’t gone home for family dinners in a while?

Shikako’s hypersensitivity diagnosis… it might be that she can’t have any cybernetic implants/mods. I know in cyberpunk universes, nearly everyone is modded to some extent, so the people who aren’t are unusual for some reason. Everyone has a ID chip, at the very least, but Shikako doesn’t even have that? (Which does make it a little ironic that she’s a genius with cybernetics)

Yup. Danzo’s got a Sharingan. I think in this AU the Uchiha clan are still alive, but Danzo might have stolen more the design for the Sharingan than actually plucking out Shisui’s eyeball. Then again, that imagery is gruesome enough to fit him.

“Enslaved” does also fit Sai, though perhaps it’s more… oh no… “groomed.” Danzo’s ROOT are actually human, but they have an implant that basically lets him wipe their memories and such and turn them into meat puppets.

All of the Konoha Twelve? I guess it depends mostly on what the clans would be in this ‘verse… except for Sakura who is, like in canon, a doctor/medic, TenTen who is also an mechanical engineer (though not so much cybernetics), and Lee who… what does Gai do?

As for the clans, they are probably like companies (or yakuza crime families) in the sense that the clan as a whole runs a business and the clan heads/heirs are probably the CEOs/training to be CEOs or are major shareholders who CAN live off the company but decide to work anyway. So for example, the Nara clan is probably a huge pharmaceuticals company (beginning to branch into cybernetics due to Shikako) but Shikamaru is also a professional shogi player.

Hm… what do the other clans do?

“the dark side of the moon”, dos, include sai please?

So my brain first went to Infinite Tsukuyomi because that’s how I filled the last “dark side of the moon” prompt I received but that’s not really sustainable for a full fic summary, so…

I know there are already a lot of amazing ROOT!Shikako fics which have gone in varying, fascinating directions, but I think that’s what would best match this prompt title. And also because the request for Sai and there’s only so many options that gives me. Aaand as a title it’s a nice foil to Dreaming of Sunshine, even though usually I thematically link Moon to Sasuke.

Which might be part of it, too?

(By the way, I don’t know if I’m rehashing someone else’s ideas but if I am, sorry…)

So Shikako tries to interfere with the Uchiha Massacre (by befriending Itachi?) and ends up in Danzo’s clutches. But maybe not a full time thing–I’m still pretty sure that Yamanaka Fuu had to be trained in the clan mind jutsu, so he couldn’t be completely disappeared off to the bowels of Konoha like with Torune and the many orphans–so she still gets to go home and learn shadow jutsu and despair about all the secrets she’s keeping from her family 🙂

Which gives an interesting twist on her determination to learn fuinjutsu if she’s got the secrecy seal on her tongue (… maybe not somewhere so obvious, but the idea applies).

Sai would act as her ROOT partner/handler (while she secretly acts as Itachi’s Konoha contact/handler?) and when the canon time for Academy graduation comes around, she’s still put on a genin team with Naruto and Sasuke as per canon but maybe she goes on more dangerous with Sai on nights after D-ranks with Team Seven?

Hrm… nah, I’m not liking that too much. There’s too many wheels and it’s not really feasible.

Sai is definitely still Shikako’s ROOT partner/handler (after they both killed off their respective training partners?) and I do think she’s only a part time ROOT member–in that, she’s still part of the Nara clan–but maybe she was ordered to flunk out of the Academy “because of chakra hypersensitivity” or Danzo used his influence to put her on Team One and have them failed? Yeah, having her on Team Seven AND a ROOT member would be way too much to juggle.

And any connection with Itachi would be minor or for much later in the fic. Maybe Itachi remembers the little girl who tried to help him, or maybe he doesn’t, but he definitely finds it suspicious that she’s one of Danzo’s agents so…

I wonder if Danzo tries to train her as a higher functioning agent–possibly his successor, if he were a smidge less delusional–and so her “surface” job is his assistant or something like that. And, well, even if he doesn’t want her as his philosophical successor, then having one of the two possible candidates for Jounin Commander in his pocket is a pretty smart idea.

Yeah, just a lot of precarious maneuvering as a secret ROOT member, trying to build up enough hard evidence to take out Danzo and making sure Sai doesn’t get punished for her own overreaches (Danzo normally isn’t one for whipping boys since that requires emotional attachment on one side, at least, but in this case it’s highly effective). The good news is, Sai probably begins his journey to emotional development and mental liberation much earlier. The bad news is, neither of them get to express that while under Danzo’s command for obvious reasons. So it’s just both of them mentally suffering, but at least they suffer together?

the dark side of the moon

Secrets and silence and synchronous rotations.

Shikako and Sai dance to someone else’s tune and try to stay alive the whole way through.

Oh, and help save the world–that’s important, too.

I.. had the weirdest dream of Shikako and Shikamaru as the two main leads in the Barbie: Princess and the Pauper film (my childhood!! Haha) I legit had the entire film play in my sleep. It was oddly satisfying/amusing. (I actually went to rewatch the movie when I woke up. Super cringey CGI, but still enjoyable haha. The songs are stuck in my head for whatever reason) (Also… Princess&Pauper!AU prompt? Just to make this ask relevant haha. (You can ignore this if you want))

Cool? Not one of my own childhood movies, but I was always fond of how the Barbie movie franchise looked at any and all fairy tales and was like–hell yeah, we’re doing that somehow. Doesn’t matter if there aren’t any female characters traditionally, stick a heroine in that story.

Can’t really think of how a Princess/Prince&Pauper!AU would work because who looks enough like someone else to… 

Oh, wait… Sasuke and Sai?

Maybe that’s Sai’s fairy tale origin in Tamed?

apart from shikako and tetsuki, who do you think would be in qprs in the dos verse (or any of your aus) i also agree with the qpp you chose for shikako and i think it would work in an au not decorated with daily death or alive situations. maybe shikako would be in a qpr with both ino and sasuke but ino and sasuke themselves are just friends (or at least until they get to know each other better) if she considered it. (my second choices for shikako’s qpp was essentially naruto/gaara because (1/2)

maybe not necessarily in dos canon, but in your aus focusing on their relationships, it is easy to interpret their relationship as “more than friendship, but not less than romantic, just something different” (and there i would talk about alterous attraction but i haven’t really explored that term myself a lot more) (2/2)

Oh! I did not know about the term alterous, but I think that’s how I interpret Shikaara–as an ambiguous mix between platonic and romantic. Of course, not in canon but in a canon adjacent AU such as Dreaming of S(omething).

I think Naruto and Shikako are very platonic. Even in my post-series Waking Up Starstruck (which is my attempt to do a Narukako ship) it’s still not all that romantic. And not even because of my interpretation of Shikako as aro/demi, but because I cannot for the life of me understand Naruto’s character. He and I just are not simpatico. :/ I love him but I do not understand him. I don’t know if they would even have a QPR or maintain their less intense friendship.

Naruto and Sasuke’s relationship is too steeped in canon for me to disentangle (SasuNaru was one of my “Baby’s First Ships”) so I don’t know if they would have a QPR or a romantic relationship… But I do think Naruto and Haku would have a fantastic QPR in a canon adjacent AU, so at least I know him that much, right?

Let’s see, who else…

As Ino’s co-spouses, Sakura and Sai are not romantic with each other, but they do develop a sweet QPR which is very nice for their triad marriage.

I imagine Team Gai are not romantically interested in each other, but they are the closest thing they all have to family which would easily translate to QPRs. Especially when they’re older and their personalities have matured.

Actually, yeah, if I’m not restricting myself to canon. Then in a canon adjacent AU, that Kiba+Shikako QPR would definitely exist.

Oh, in the Team Medic!AU (Team One with Sakura, Youbirin, and Jiro passed with a combat medic jounin sensei)–or, at least, the How To Adult Properly series based on it–Team One definitely have QPR because they have no boundaries with each other.

I don’t know who else, this is a big question. There are so many characters that’s like an infinite number of combinations so…

But I do appreciate your question, so thanks for asking, anon 🙂

For the SU AU: where are their gems located? I expect Naruto’s is on his belly, where the seal is in canon. Is Shikako’s on her chest, about where her Gelel stone sits on her necklace? And where is Sasuke’s? Also, did you say what powers he has? I want him to have some kind of OP eye powers but can’t think of what.

Naruto’s is on his belly, yes, but Shikako’s is actually on her back (though at the same height as her sternum). Mostly because that’s where she most frequently gets stabbed and Gelel, but also because I like the idea of her not being able to see her own gemstone. It made researching about herself all that much more difficult and it enforces her need for other people (whether human, gem, or half human half gem).

Sasuke’s is probably on his forehead. I considered having it be one of his eyes like with one of the Rubies, but then I considered–in the same vein as Shikako’s “weak point” being on her back where she gets stabbed the most–that how much more significant would Itachi’s dumb forehead flick thing be if that’s where Sasuke’s gemstone was.

I imagine that the Obsidians (unless I get completely jossed with SU canon) are like the Uchiha: small but fast and powerful warriors. They’re higher status than Quartzes in SU canon, mostly because they’re rarer and harder to make. Hematites (Sai) were probably Home World’s attempt to recreate Obsidians but more controllable and lower status.

As for the Obsidians’ OP eye ability… I mean its canon that Sapphires can see the future so… maybe something similar for Obsidians. But more streamlined to reflect their battle capabilities (whereas Sapphire’s role was more of an oracle/advisor).

Alternatively I wonder if, because gems are just construct of light around their gemstone, that a Sharingan equivalent might be able to poof a gem by disrupting the light around the gemstone. So if an Obsidian can see the gemstone they can disrupt a gem long enough to get close and shatter them. Which is why Obsidians are the worst to fight. Its as OP as Uchiha’s automatic genjutsu skills I think.

Sasuke also has a sword for a gem weapon.