Changeling, Shikamaru, The Nara are not like the ninja clans that must pay the Fae in blood, or gold, or a child from their clan: whenever a Nara child is stillborn, the parents are bound to foster a Fae child their place.

rsrw:

jacksgreysays:

rsrw:

jacksgreysays:

rsrw:

jacksgreysays:

donapoetrypassion:

jacksgreysays:

A/N: Hm… I kinda want to both brainstorm and write a ficlet for this prompt, because the idea is very lovely (as per usual, dona) but the brainstorm I have is different than the ficlet I want to write?

Like the ficlet is just a straight up narrative prose exploring the idea of some Nara children being changelings and why their clan are the exception, etc. etc. Whereas the brainstorm is a more expansive plotty thing about how having a changeling character would affect the story.

Hm, I guess they’re not necessarily exclusive to each other so let’s do both… ficlet first!

~

To say that the Shodaime Hokage created the forests around what would become the sight of Konohagakure is an exaggeration at best and an outright lie at worst.

It’s true that the Hashirama trees are the first type that villagers learn to identify as children–prevalent in most parks and training grounds, a protective ring around the walls–but the forest itself is far older than that; far greater.

Far less human.

///

Yoshino is in labor for a grueling forty six hours–more blood, sweat, and tears than even the worst battle–but she knows it’ll be worth it, prays to every god she can think of that it’ll be worth it.

When finally it’s done, that last exhausting push, she can barely catch her breath, barely stay awake, and yet she claws at consciousness desperately.

Why is there only one baby crying?

///

The Nara clan live close to the earth: their herds and their trees and theirs shadows upon the ground. They are intelligent, taking their own time and space, and for that they are looked upon fondly.

Most of the time, that’s a good thing.

///

There is a tree, deep within the Nara clan compound, old and gnarled and kept secret.

In that tree, there is a hollow, cleaned monthly but left empty.

Tonight, with Kasuga and Sembei at his back, Shikaku places the small, shrouded bundle inside.

///

It has been a long time since the Nara clan were given a gift from the other side.

An honor and risk, both.

The rest of the village has no idea what they’re in for.

OKAY! So, now it’s brainstorm time.

I made it vague because I wasn’t sure if, because you specified Shikamaru, you wanted him to be the changeling or if you wanted his POV of changeling!Shikako… or, I guess, now that I think of it, if you even wanted DoS? Whoops.

Anyway! The ficlet above would be the prequel basically laying down the groundwork of your prompt for a much larger story. What that story is, I’m not entirely sure…

Actually, I’m thinking something like Danzo has somehow gotten to the other side and that’s where a lot of his ROOT soldiers are from–changeling children that weren’t so blessed to be placed with the Nara clan, which sort of explains the affinity Shikako has with Sai, etc. etc–and the Fae kind of point Shikako in that direction and just, go wild, dispense our wrath…

… but I’m worried I’m focusing too much on Danzo as the big bad. I mean, the Fae could also be GREATLY DISPLEASED with the giant evil bijuu eating statue and that’s another task the whispers in Shikako’s mind point her towards.

I do like the idea that while the Nara are the only ones who get changeling children as a sort of active, deliberate exchange, there are other places (including outside of Konoha) where changeling children appear where there isn’t any established and known protocols for it. And so, like how Naruto has his not-so-secret society of jinchuuriki, Shikako has a slightly-more-secret society of changelings.

Sai is one, definitely. I’m thinking also Juugo? And maaybe Isaribi to incorporate her more into the story… I don’t think there’d be any overlaps in changelings and jinchuuriki (the only exception might be Sora at the Fire Temple who is only a partial jinchuuriki or something like that?)

Hm…

I mean, this would be in Shikamaru’s POV so as to match your prompt and also him as an outsider but close observer of this phenomenon would lend itself well into the whole–changelings LOOK human, but they aren’t, kind of thing. Yes, they’re mostly taught how to interact in a socially acceptable way, but they’re still Other.

Actually, now I wonder if even the bijuu are a little scared of the Fae (and, by association, the changelings) because chakra is a relatively new power in the world. The bijuu aren’t that old in comparison to the Fae. SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT FURTHER 😀

~

Ask Box Event Now Open!

Awesome! A brainstorm AND a ficlet! I love this so much- I totally hadn’t thought about the ROOT thing. …Man, the Fae could be PISSED about that. And …not concerned, but irritated at the instruction of the Juno. Yes, irritated. (Your suggestion also now has me wondering about the au of this au, where Shikamaru finds out HE’s the changeling. Oooh.) But I love the Shikako-Sai connection you did there. And for some reason I am thinking about the logistics of hiding this from the hospital. (Either the Nara blatantly take over that wing of the hospital, or Tsunade is left affronted that the Nara never go to the hospital for childbirth. Which makes one wonder if other clans try to take over one aspect of village administration/services in order to conceal/uphold their dealings with the Fae.)

…Wow, imagine if BOTH twins were Fae. Brings the ‘and one looks like the mother and one looks like the father’ to a whole new creepy level, right? Some Fae thing they do so that the babies blend in- maybe it involves a blood sacrifice from the parents. Or- no. Just the little bundle at the root of the tree. That’s enough to work with.

I think it makes more sense if Shikako alone is the Fae, though. Does she even know it? Maybe not. She tries very hard to be ‘normal,’ for a chageling.

…I kind of wonder if Orochimaru was a changeling. And maybe that was what got Danzo interested in them.

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Shikamaru as the changeling would be absolutely fascinating. Because Shikako is the “weird” one as compared to Shikamaru who is very traditionally Nara. But is he really? Or, rather, what is it to be Nara as compared to Fae?

After all, they do have the favor of the Fae, have had previously received changeling children as a gift. Perhaps it’s because they’re so similar?

There’s a post going around about how changeling children from the past were most likely autistic children which society at the time couldn’t put into any other words but having been swapped with a Fae child. And, well, the Nara are very… hm… the new Maori word for autism is “his or her own time and space” which I feel does describe the Nara clan as a whole.

They let their members grow as they feel, don’t push them to think one way or another, they’re very supportive when a member finds their calling, used to members switching between hyper-focus and scattered distraction. Cloud watching could very well be a way to reduce stimuli…

I think there are probably enough Nara who work in the hospital that whenever one is pregnant and giving birth, it’s not at all difficult to swap Nara nurses and medics into the delivery. Especially when it’s the clan head’s wife giving birth? It wouldn’t at all be suspicious for any Nara hospital staff to involve themselves in such a clan critical pregnancy, so then it wouldn’t be necessary to take over the maternity ward (just borrow it, for a little while).

Ooh, Orochimaru as a changeling… that makes a lot of sense, actually! Unfortunately for him, the Nara clan head at the time of his childhood hadn’t been as observant, or perhaps thought the stillborns for changelings swap was a myth, or was very clannish and didn’t consider it his responsibility to help. And it would, as you said, give an interesting spin on his relationship with Danzo and also his defection from Akatsuki. He’s definitely a Dark Fae, or a Fallen Fae, or whatever the terminology might be for a changeling that has broken so many Rules that the Fae no longer claim him as their own. Although maybe he redeems himself in their eyes (which explains better why he’s still walking around doing whatever he wants in Boruto)?

I’m a little hesitant about Gaara being a changeling as well as a jinchuuriki… maybe he’s of Fae descent? Like, Karura could’ve been a changeling… which explains why she died in childbirth (the bijuu chakra sealed into the as of yet unborn Gaara seeped into her own system, weakening her) but also how she was able to imbue her protection/love into his sand even after her death. And how cool would it be if that’s where Temari’s EXTREME WIND BADASSERY came from?

Shikaku is a very tolerant father, I feel like. Or, rather, accepting the fact that his clan has a weird trading system with the Fae means he’s just a very tolerant, not-easily-shaken man.

Adding a note or two: Fae are rather possessive. Which would explain some of Shikamaru’s actions/ thought process after the Gelel arc. 

Also I don’t think Orochimaru actually broke the Rules of Fae

He may twist words and make the sky seem green but he doesn’t lie, even when he has a seal on his tongue keeping him from speaking truth. Even his experiments with the Jugo’s blood-limit (that Orochimaru benefits from but that’ could be seen him working towards what he said he would that’s fae to) he acts as his name and within his power, and he doesn’t try to mess with Fae courts (not established courts anyway) and the actions he takes are very much in the Human Realm.

He even takes in others that were in some ways abandoned or betrayed (Kimimaro being one example). Which fae are acknowledged to do

just thoughts to add

Even before the Gelel arc, Shikamaru’s concern over Shikako could read as fae-influenced possessiveness–though it is also just the whole “my sister is nearly dying on a monthly basis and then one time ACTUALLY dies” situation.

I think there’s a certain generalization that can be applied if Shikamaru is the changeling because his personality is notably VERY in line with Nara-typical personalities which means A LOT of Nara over the years have been changelings/are descended from those changelings. Whereas if Shikako is the changeling then her unusual determination for a Nara matches up with those rare enough (but memorable enough) Nara who make the “motivated Nara” quote a significantly prevalent saying.

I dunno, I’m kind of waffling back and forth on this matter. Because the idea that the Nara as a whole all have even some percentage of fae ancestry is kind of fun. But also the idea that it isn’t so common, and they’re still just Like That is also very fun. And, like, there’s a certain level of tolerance if the “second-born” non-heir is a changeling, but I feel like there might be some backlash if the heir is the changeling. 

Then again, the idea of Asuma having to deal with changeling Shikamaru is hilarious to me for some reason. Kakashi is already on a team with a bunch of weirdoes, he’s used to it. Asuma would just be staring at Shikamaru–who he has specifically been training to be team leader–in utter bewilderment as his genin follow the strangest (fae) whims. AAAAAHHHH I don’t know :/

… True, true. Orochimaru is one of those characters whose Watsonian motivations must be more complex and fascinating than the Doylist reasons behind his actions. So the idea that he’s beholden to laws that aren’t human is absolutely compelling. All of the partnerships/promises he makes then breaks does give off a very mercurial vibe, and the fact that he doesn’t seem to be majorly punished for any of them does kind of go with the idea that his sense of honor/justice is somehow beyond human reproach. And that would explain why he is walking around in Boruto if he’s “only” broken human laws and those don’t really apply to fae/changelings.

I loosely follow @blackkatmagic’s fanon that Orochimaru’s backstory is as tragic as Tsunade’s with some added deliberate manipulation from Danzo to ruin one of the potential Hokage candidates, so Orochimaru can’t be as completely evil as we see on the surface (although there’s definitely a point where his actions are nobody’s fault but his own, and he doesn’t get held accountable for those at all). I suppose if I were more ambitious I would try to do an Orochimaru centered fic about his progression to cold, but that’s a lot of nuance that I’m not sure I can do…

Why make just have one be active Fae. have one be a Nara changeling ‘just like his father’ be jounin commander, and clan leader. Have one inherit from her mother, she who throws the earth at her enemies and willing to do/ put up with so much for her family. Similar but not; so easy to confuse when small but growing so different.

————–

For Oro’s backstory: add in that Orochimaru generally doesn’t break promises either until someone else betrays him first. He was the Sannin that stayed in the village the longest actively working, didn’t go gallivanting off to teach ninja that weren’t even part of his village (which in some ways is giving village secrets/training away {traitor}), and he didn’t break and run away when his family died/students died the first time /teammates left him behind (the only reason Tsunade wasn’t a missing-nin was because the third said so {she betrayed him to, she left him in the dark and even then he still offered her a twisted safety with him}).

He only betrayed the village after the LEADERS OF THE VILLAGE attacked him for following their orders (Hiruzen gave him to Danzo, and Danzo ordered so many things For the good of the Village) He didn’t break his word, he was run out.

When he kills Hiruzen’s because JUSTICE/VENGENCE/ LOOKATME (what you made me). He even told him that he would kill him for the betrayal

Orochi said that he would help Suna invade Konoha (he did), he never said that he would let their Kage live after betraying their treaty {being forsworn in a fae’s presence is NOT a good thing to be}

You could also argue the only laws he broke weren’t ones talking about NINJA either (because he kept those, though he went semi-Samurai with his teacher making sure none could mess with his fight (edo tense counts as a weapon not as interference) 

That’s true! ¿PORQUE NO LOS DOS?

So the Nara clan does have a lot of fae blood, but Shikako is the most recent changeling so the whimsy and extreme retribution is even more obvious in her. And I quite like the idea that Yoshino’s sheer humanity gave the fae more to work with than they had before (because the exchange happens when the clan head puts the body in the hollow, if previous Nara bodies have all been distant cousins marrying each other, then there’s not much in the way of genetic diversity. But throw in someone from out-clan, and suddenly the fae on the other side of the Forest are all like, OOH Earth natured chakra. Oooooh, she’s got a temper and pretty eyes!!! Yes, we can work with this 😀 )

Yes! Orochimaru was very dutiful and obedient up until the point where that backfired on him. Like, this is part of the reason why his reaction to being passed over for Hokage actually makes sense/is vaguely sympathetic (As opposed to Danzo’s tantrum) because Orochimaru did everything rightUnfortunately for him, “right” was based on a lot of what Danzo was doing with ROOT. And, like, as you mentioned, Jiraiya was that one taught foreign orphans how to be shinobi first and he was never punished for it–is it so weird to then scale that up into a full village. Now, I’m not saying that it’s Jiraiya’s fault that Oto existed. But Orochimaru is all about doing things bigger and more dramatic so…

You know, I never considered the reason for there being an Otogakure being Jiraiya, but when it’s said it makes more sense then just naming his labs because “why not” it would also make a great “f* you” to Konoha when they realize/are told…

Also while that is a Great thought process for Shikako/Nara clan (and I would read it) I more meant something like… Shikaku was a still born heir, but his mother/aunt was able to get him to The Tree fast enough that barely any power was needed to make him breath again/for the first time barely one of the fae not enough). His son takes after him, except Shikamaru being twice born to the Shadow and given in partial exchange as a second so close to the first after so long, well… as much as he is his father’s son, he takes after the Nara-Fae lineage more than Shikaku ever would. 

And Yoshino, orphan, near abandoned, left by a mother whos line she will never know, is as much a fae as her husband; a bare trickle, enough to survive but not to live as one of them. Her daughter though? She who chokes on the air so tainted by the remnants of old battles forgotten beyond myth, she takes more after the Fae in ways she would never, will never know because that’s her legacy as Yoshino’s child. Both will move earth for their love ones; for a fae touched, such as Shikako, that means far more than any would realize.

So similar (the boy a child of a twice given line so close, given away, dead to the world. the girl dead in truth, come through the earth, of a line of earth callers, movers, born to a shadow touched line) so different (he given to shadow so he may survive, her so regularly given to death so that others may Live)

How they grow.so well and twisted.

After all why choose just one?

Okay, I definitely like the idea that Shikamaru by blood is as Nara as can be, but there was a little hitch during the birth that required him to have a fae/shadow resuscitation of sorts. Like, Sunshine Sidestories does mention that Yoshino being pregnant with twins would have issues with one or both, so it’s not being overly tragic/dramatic to say that both twins could have been stillborn. As someone who was born with water in their lungs, my first breath was particularly fraught, so perhaps something similar happened with Shikamaru?

I don’t think they’d need to get all the way out to The Tree, especially if all the medics attending the birth were Nara and knew of the myriad of possible complications. Maybe Kasuga was there? If he’s the closest to a spiritual leader as the Nara have, then that would kind of make sense.

Ah, I love Shikamaru being “twice born to the Shadow.” He is one of two–half of a birth–but being twice born brings him to one whole.

But Shikako is definitely the one who was exchanged in The Tree.

I still think that Yoshino being entirely, utterly human is what makes this particular changeling (ie Shikako) particularly exceptional. I mean the idea of Yoshino being stone and steel, iron-blooded, as opposed to the more flora and fauna and forests of the Nara is so compelling. Fae can only create changelings out of what they have–so most of the other changelings (Orochimaru and Sai, for possible examples) are nature and art, snakes and poison and ink–but because the Nara actively participate in an exchange that gives the fae more to work with.

And I like the idea that Yoshino’s unquestionable humanity is something entirely new to them. Maybe I’m leaning too much on this idea of the iron in human blood being the only natural defense against fae. Like, other clan bloodlines are too tinged with other concepts–Inuzuka and Aburame are of course very obviously canine and insects, the Nara are shadow and deer and trees before in that order–but civilian born, entirely human Yoshino is Iron. The Fae have never been given iron to create with.

Just like when humanity were given fire: Fae being given Iron is revolutionary.

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Changeling, Shikamaru, The Nara are not like the ninja clans that must pay the Fae in blood, or gold, or a child from their clan: whenever a Nara child is stillborn, the parents are bound to foster a Fae child their place.

rsrw:

jacksgreysays:

rsrw:

jacksgreysays:

donapoetrypassion:

jacksgreysays:

A/N: Hm… I kinda want to both brainstorm and write a ficlet for this prompt, because the idea is very lovely (as per usual, dona) but the brainstorm I have is different than the ficlet I want to write?

Like the ficlet is just a straight up narrative prose exploring the idea of some Nara children being changelings and why their clan are the exception, etc. etc. Whereas the brainstorm is a more expansive plotty thing about how having a changeling character would affect the story.

Hm, I guess they’re not necessarily exclusive to each other so let’s do both… ficlet first!

~

To say that the Shodaime Hokage created the forests around what would become the sight of Konohagakure is an exaggeration at best and an outright lie at worst.

It’s true that the Hashirama trees are the first type that villagers learn to identify as children–prevalent in most parks and training grounds, a protective ring around the walls–but the forest itself is far older than that; far greater.

Far less human.

///

Yoshino is in labor for a grueling forty six hours–more blood, sweat, and tears than even the worst battle–but she knows it’ll be worth it, prays to every god she can think of that it’ll be worth it.

When finally it’s done, that last exhausting push, she can barely catch her breath, barely stay awake, and yet she claws at consciousness desperately.

Why is there only one baby crying?

///

The Nara clan live close to the earth: their herds and their trees and theirs shadows upon the ground. They are intelligent, taking their own time and space, and for that they are looked upon fondly.

Most of the time, that’s a good thing.

///

There is a tree, deep within the Nara clan compound, old and gnarled and kept secret.

In that tree, there is a hollow, cleaned monthly but left empty.

Tonight, with Kasuga and Sembei at his back, Shikaku places the small, shrouded bundle inside.

///

It has been a long time since the Nara clan were given a gift from the other side.

An honor and risk, both.

The rest of the village has no idea what they’re in for.

OKAY! So, now it’s brainstorm time.

I made it vague because I wasn’t sure if, because you specified Shikamaru, you wanted him to be the changeling or if you wanted his POV of changeling!Shikako… or, I guess, now that I think of it, if you even wanted DoS? Whoops.

Anyway! The ficlet above would be the prequel basically laying down the groundwork of your prompt for a much larger story. What that story is, I’m not entirely sure…

Actually, I’m thinking something like Danzo has somehow gotten to the other side and that’s where a lot of his ROOT soldiers are from–changeling children that weren’t so blessed to be placed with the Nara clan, which sort of explains the affinity Shikako has with Sai, etc. etc–and the Fae kind of point Shikako in that direction and just, go wild, dispense our wrath…

… but I’m worried I’m focusing too much on Danzo as the big bad. I mean, the Fae could also be GREATLY DISPLEASED with the giant evil bijuu eating statue and that’s another task the whispers in Shikako’s mind point her towards.

I do like the idea that while the Nara are the only ones who get changeling children as a sort of active, deliberate exchange, there are other places (including outside of Konoha) where changeling children appear where there isn’t any established and known protocols for it. And so, like how Naruto has his not-so-secret society of jinchuuriki, Shikako has a slightly-more-secret society of changelings.

Sai is one, definitely. I’m thinking also Juugo? And maaybe Isaribi to incorporate her more into the story… I don’t think there’d be any overlaps in changelings and jinchuuriki (the only exception might be Sora at the Fire Temple who is only a partial jinchuuriki or something like that?)

Hm…

I mean, this would be in Shikamaru’s POV so as to match your prompt and also him as an outsider but close observer of this phenomenon would lend itself well into the whole–changelings LOOK human, but they aren’t, kind of thing. Yes, they’re mostly taught how to interact in a socially acceptable way, but they’re still Other.

Actually, now I wonder if even the bijuu are a little scared of the Fae (and, by association, the changelings) because chakra is a relatively new power in the world. The bijuu aren’t that old in comparison to the Fae. SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT FURTHER 😀

~

Ask Box Event Now Open!

Awesome! A brainstorm AND a ficlet! I love this so much- I totally hadn’t thought about the ROOT thing. …Man, the Fae could be PISSED about that. And …not concerned, but irritated at the instruction of the Juno. Yes, irritated. (Your suggestion also now has me wondering about the au of this au, where Shikamaru finds out HE’s the changeling. Oooh.) But I love the Shikako-Sai connection you did there. And for some reason I am thinking about the logistics of hiding this from the hospital. (Either the Nara blatantly take over that wing of the hospital, or Tsunade is left affronted that the Nara never go to the hospital for childbirth. Which makes one wonder if other clans try to take over one aspect of village administration/services in order to conceal/uphold their dealings with the Fae.)

…Wow, imagine if BOTH twins were Fae. Brings the ‘and one looks like the mother and one looks like the father’ to a whole new creepy level, right? Some Fae thing they do so that the babies blend in- maybe it involves a blood sacrifice from the parents. Or- no. Just the little bundle at the root of the tree. That’s enough to work with.

I think it makes more sense if Shikako alone is the Fae, though. Does she even know it? Maybe not. She tries very hard to be ‘normal,’ for a chageling.

…I kind of wonder if Orochimaru was a changeling. And maybe that was what got Danzo interested in them.

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Shikamaru as the changeling would be absolutely fascinating. Because Shikako is the “weird” one as compared to Shikamaru who is very traditionally Nara. But is he really? Or, rather, what is it to be Nara as compared to Fae?

After all, they do have the favor of the Fae, have had previously received changeling children as a gift. Perhaps it’s because they’re so similar?

There’s a post going around about how changeling children from the past were most likely autistic children which society at the time couldn’t put into any other words but having been swapped with a Fae child. And, well, the Nara are very… hm… the new Maori word for autism is “his or her own time and space” which I feel does describe the Nara clan as a whole.

They let their members grow as they feel, don’t push them to think one way or another, they’re very supportive when a member finds their calling, used to members switching between hyper-focus and scattered distraction. Cloud watching could very well be a way to reduce stimuli…

I think there are probably enough Nara who work in the hospital that whenever one is pregnant and giving birth, it’s not at all difficult to swap Nara nurses and medics into the delivery. Especially when it’s the clan head’s wife giving birth? It wouldn’t at all be suspicious for any Nara hospital staff to involve themselves in such a clan critical pregnancy, so then it wouldn’t be necessary to take over the maternity ward (just borrow it, for a little while).

Ooh, Orochimaru as a changeling… that makes a lot of sense, actually! Unfortunately for him, the Nara clan head at the time of his childhood hadn’t been as observant, or perhaps thought the stillborns for changelings swap was a myth, or was very clannish and didn’t consider it his responsibility to help. And it would, as you said, give an interesting spin on his relationship with Danzo and also his defection from Akatsuki. He’s definitely a Dark Fae, or a Fallen Fae, or whatever the terminology might be for a changeling that has broken so many Rules that the Fae no longer claim him as their own. Although maybe he redeems himself in their eyes (which explains better why he’s still walking around doing whatever he wants in Boruto)?

I’m a little hesitant about Gaara being a changeling as well as a jinchuuriki… maybe he’s of Fae descent? Like, Karura could’ve been a changeling… which explains why she died in childbirth (the bijuu chakra sealed into the as of yet unborn Gaara seeped into her own system, weakening her) but also how she was able to imbue her protection/love into his sand even after her death. And how cool would it be if that’s where Temari’s EXTREME WIND BADASSERY came from?

Shikaku is a very tolerant father, I feel like. Or, rather, accepting the fact that his clan has a weird trading system with the Fae means he’s just a very tolerant, not-easily-shaken man.

Adding a note or two: Fae are rather possessive. Which would explain some of Shikamaru’s actions/ thought process after the Gelel arc. 

Also I don’t think Orochimaru actually broke the Rules of Fae

He may twist words and make the sky seem green but he doesn’t lie, even when he has a seal on his tongue keeping him from speaking truth. Even his experiments with the Jugo’s blood-limit (that Orochimaru benefits from but that’ could be seen him working towards what he said he would that’s fae to) he acts as his name and within his power, and he doesn’t try to mess with Fae courts (not established courts anyway) and the actions he takes are very much in the Human Realm.

He even takes in others that were in some ways abandoned or betrayed (Kimimaro being one example). Which fae are acknowledged to do

just thoughts to add

Even before the Gelel arc, Shikamaru’s concern over Shikako could read as fae-influenced possessiveness–though it is also just the whole “my sister is nearly dying on a monthly basis and then one time ACTUALLY dies” situation.

I think there’s a certain generalization that can be applied if Shikamaru is the changeling because his personality is notably VERY in line with Nara-typical personalities which means A LOT of Nara over the years have been changelings/are descended from those changelings. Whereas if Shikako is the changeling then her unusual determination for a Nara matches up with those rare enough (but memorable enough) Nara who make the “motivated Nara” quote a significantly prevalent saying.

I dunno, I’m kind of waffling back and forth on this matter. Because the idea that the Nara as a whole all have even some percentage of fae ancestry is kind of fun. But also the idea that it isn’t so common, and they’re still just Like That is also very fun. And, like, there’s a certain level of tolerance if the “second-born” non-heir is a changeling, but I feel like there might be some backlash if the heir is the changeling. 

Then again, the idea of Asuma having to deal with changeling Shikamaru is hilarious to me for some reason. Kakashi is already on a team with a bunch of weirdoes, he’s used to it. Asuma would just be staring at Shikamaru–who he has specifically been training to be team leader–in utter bewilderment as his genin follow the strangest (fae) whims. AAAAAHHHH I don’t know :/

… True, true. Orochimaru is one of those characters whose Watsonian motivations must be more complex and fascinating than the Doylist reasons behind his actions. So the idea that he’s beholden to laws that aren’t human is absolutely compelling. All of the partnerships/promises he makes then breaks does give off a very mercurial vibe, and the fact that he doesn’t seem to be majorly punished for any of them does kind of go with the idea that his sense of honor/justice is somehow beyond human reproach. And that would explain why he is walking around in Boruto if he’s “only” broken human laws and those don’t really apply to fae/changelings.

I loosely follow @blackkatmagic’s fanon that Orochimaru’s backstory is as tragic as Tsunade’s with some added deliberate manipulation from Danzo to ruin one of the potential Hokage candidates, so Orochimaru can’t be as completely evil as we see on the surface (although there’s definitely a point where his actions are nobody’s fault but his own, and he doesn’t get held accountable for those at all). I suppose if I were more ambitious I would try to do an Orochimaru centered fic about his progression to cold, but that’s a lot of nuance that I’m not sure I can do…

Why make just have one be active Fae. have one be a Nara changeling ‘just like his father’ be jounin commander, and clan leader. Have one inherit from her mother, she who throws the earth at her enemies and willing to do/ put up with so much for her family. Similar but not; so easy to confuse when small but growing so different.

————–

For Oro’s backstory: add in that Orochimaru generally doesn’t break promises either until someone else betrays him first. He was the Sannin that stayed in the village the longest actively working, didn’t go gallivanting off to teach ninja that weren’t even part of his village (which in some ways is giving village secrets/training away {traitor}), and he didn’t break and run away when his family died/students died the first time /teammates left him behind (the only reason Tsunade wasn’t a missing-nin was because the third said so {she betrayed him to, she left him in the dark and even then he still offered her a twisted safety with him}).

He only betrayed the village after the LEADERS OF THE VILLAGE attacked him for following their orders (Hiruzen gave him to Danzo, and Danzo ordered so many things For the good of the Village) He didn’t break his word, he was run out.

When he kills Hiruzen’s because JUSTICE/VENGENCE/ LOOKATME (what you made me). He even told him that he would kill him for the betrayal

Orochi said that he would help Suna invade Konoha (he did), he never said that he would let their Kage live after betraying their treaty {being forsworn in a fae’s presence is NOT a good thing to be}

You could also argue the only laws he broke weren’t ones talking about NINJA either (because he kept those, though he went semi-Samurai with his teacher making sure none could mess with his fight (edo tense counts as a weapon not as interference) 

That’s true! ¿PORQUE NO LOS DOS?

So the Nara clan does have a lot of fae blood, but Shikako is the most recent changeling so the whimsy and extreme retribution is even more obvious in her. And I quite like the idea that Yoshino’s sheer humanity gave the fae more to work with than they had before (because the exchange happens when the clan head puts the body in the hollow, if previous Nara bodies have all been distant cousins marrying each other, then there’s not much in the way of genetic diversity. But throw in someone from out-clan, and suddenly the fae on the other side of the Forest are all like, OOH Earth natured chakra. Oooooh, she’s got a temper and pretty eyes!!! Yes, we can work with this 😀 )

Yes! Orochimaru was very dutiful and obedient up until the point where that backfired on him. Like, this is part of the reason why his reaction to being passed over for Hokage actually makes sense/is vaguely sympathetic (As opposed to Danzo’s tantrum) because Orochimaru did everything rightUnfortunately for him, “right” was based on a lot of what Danzo was doing with ROOT. And, like, as you mentioned, Jiraiya was that one taught foreign orphans how to be shinobi first and he was never punished for it–is it so weird to then scale that up into a full village. Now, I’m not saying that it’s Jiraiya’s fault that Oto existed. But Orochimaru is all about doing things bigger and more dramatic so…

Changeling, Shikamaru, The Nara are not like the ninja clans that must pay the Fae in blood, or gold, or a child from their clan: whenever a Nara child is stillborn, the parents are bound to foster a Fae child their place.

rsrw:

jacksgreysays:

donapoetrypassion:

jacksgreysays:

A/N: Hm… I kinda want to both brainstorm and write a ficlet for this prompt, because the idea is very lovely (as per usual, dona) but the brainstorm I have is different than the ficlet I want to write?

Like the ficlet is just a straight up narrative prose exploring the idea of some Nara children being changelings and why their clan are the exception, etc. etc. Whereas the brainstorm is a more expansive plotty thing about how having a changeling character would affect the story.

Hm, I guess they’re not necessarily exclusive to each other so let’s do both… ficlet first!

~

To say that the Shodaime Hokage created the forests around what would become the sight of Konohagakure is an exaggeration at best and an outright lie at worst.

It’s true that the Hashirama trees are the first type that villagers learn to identify as children–prevalent in most parks and training grounds, a protective ring around the walls–but the forest itself is far older than that; far greater.

Far less human.

///

Yoshino is in labor for a grueling forty six hours–more blood, sweat, and tears than even the worst battle–but she knows it’ll be worth it, prays to every god she can think of that it’ll be worth it.

When finally it’s done, that last exhausting push, she can barely catch her breath, barely stay awake, and yet she claws at consciousness desperately.

Why is there only one baby crying?

///

The Nara clan live close to the earth: their herds and their trees and theirs shadows upon the ground. They are intelligent, taking their own time and space, and for that they are looked upon fondly.

Most of the time, that’s a good thing.

///

There is a tree, deep within the Nara clan compound, old and gnarled and kept secret.

In that tree, there is a hollow, cleaned monthly but left empty.

Tonight, with Kasuga and Sembei at his back, Shikaku places the small, shrouded bundle inside.

///

It has been a long time since the Nara clan were given a gift from the other side.

An honor and risk, both.

The rest of the village has no idea what they’re in for.

OKAY! So, now it’s brainstorm time.

I made it vague because I wasn’t sure if, because you specified Shikamaru, you wanted him to be the changeling or if you wanted his POV of changeling!Shikako… or, I guess, now that I think of it, if you even wanted DoS? Whoops.

Anyway! The ficlet above would be the prequel basically laying down the groundwork of your prompt for a much larger story. What that story is, I’m not entirely sure…

Actually, I’m thinking something like Danzo has somehow gotten to the other side and that’s where a lot of his ROOT soldiers are from–changeling children that weren’t so blessed to be placed with the Nara clan, which sort of explains the affinity Shikako has with Sai, etc. etc–and the Fae kind of point Shikako in that direction and just, go wild, dispense our wrath…

… but I’m worried I’m focusing too much on Danzo as the big bad. I mean, the Fae could also be GREATLY DISPLEASED with the giant evil bijuu eating statue and that’s another task the whispers in Shikako’s mind point her towards.

I do like the idea that while the Nara are the only ones who get changeling children as a sort of active, deliberate exchange, there are other places (including outside of Konoha) where changeling children appear where there isn’t any established and known protocols for it. And so, like how Naruto has his not-so-secret society of jinchuuriki, Shikako has a slightly-more-secret society of changelings.

Sai is one, definitely. I’m thinking also Juugo? And maaybe Isaribi to incorporate her more into the story… I don’t think there’d be any overlaps in changelings and jinchuuriki (the only exception might be Sora at the Fire Temple who is only a partial jinchuuriki or something like that?)

Hm…

I mean, this would be in Shikamaru’s POV so as to match your prompt and also him as an outsider but close observer of this phenomenon would lend itself well into the whole–changelings LOOK human, but they aren’t, kind of thing. Yes, they’re mostly taught how to interact in a socially acceptable way, but they’re still Other.

Actually, now I wonder if even the bijuu are a little scared of the Fae (and, by association, the changelings) because chakra is a relatively new power in the world. The bijuu aren’t that old in comparison to the Fae. SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT FURTHER 😀

~

Ask Box Event Now Open!

Awesome! A brainstorm AND a ficlet! I love this so much- I totally hadn’t thought about the ROOT thing. …Man, the Fae could be PISSED about that. And …not concerned, but irritated at the instruction of the Juno. Yes, irritated. (Your suggestion also now has me wondering about the au of this au, where Shikamaru finds out HE’s the changeling. Oooh.) But I love the Shikako-Sai connection you did there. And for some reason I am thinking about the logistics of hiding this from the hospital. (Either the Nara blatantly take over that wing of the hospital, or Tsunade is left affronted that the Nara never go to the hospital for childbirth. Which makes one wonder if other clans try to take over one aspect of village administration/services in order to conceal/uphold their dealings with the Fae.)

…Wow, imagine if BOTH twins were Fae. Brings the ‘and one looks like the mother and one looks like the father’ to a whole new creepy level, right? Some Fae thing they do so that the babies blend in- maybe it involves a blood sacrifice from the parents. Or- no. Just the little bundle at the root of the tree. That’s enough to work with.

I think it makes more sense if Shikako alone is the Fae, though. Does she even know it? Maybe not. She tries very hard to be ‘normal,’ for a chageling.

…I kind of wonder if Orochimaru was a changeling. And maybe that was what got Danzo interested in them.

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Shikamaru as the changeling would be absolutely fascinating. Because Shikako is the “weird” one as compared to Shikamaru who is very traditionally Nara. But is he really? Or, rather, what is it to be Nara as compared to Fae?

After all, they do have the favor of the Fae, have had previously received changeling children as a gift. Perhaps it’s because they’re so similar?

There’s a post going around about how changeling children from the past were most likely autistic children which society at the time couldn’t put into any other words but having been swapped with a Fae child. And, well, the Nara are very… hm… the new Maori word for autism is “his or her own time and space” which I feel does describe the Nara clan as a whole.

They let their members grow as they feel, don’t push them to think one way or another, they’re very supportive when a member finds their calling, used to members switching between hyper-focus and scattered distraction. Cloud watching could very well be a way to reduce stimuli…

I think there are probably enough Nara who work in the hospital that whenever one is pregnant and giving birth, it’s not at all difficult to swap Nara nurses and medics into the delivery. Especially when it’s the clan head’s wife giving birth? It wouldn’t at all be suspicious for any Nara hospital staff to involve themselves in such a clan critical pregnancy, so then it wouldn’t be necessary to take over the maternity ward (just borrow it, for a little while).

Ooh, Orochimaru as a changeling… that makes a lot of sense, actually! Unfortunately for him, the Nara clan head at the time of his childhood hadn’t been as observant, or perhaps thought the stillborns for changelings swap was a myth, or was very clannish and didn’t consider it his responsibility to help. And it would, as you said, give an interesting spin on his relationship with Danzo and also his defection from Akatsuki. He’s definitely a Dark Fae, or a Fallen Fae, or whatever the terminology might be for a changeling that has broken so many Rules that the Fae no longer claim him as their own. Although maybe he redeems himself in their eyes (which explains better why he’s still walking around doing whatever he wants in Boruto)?

I’m a little hesitant about Gaara being a changeling as well as a jinchuuriki… maybe he’s of Fae descent? Like, Karura could’ve been a changeling… which explains why she died in childbirth (the bijuu chakra sealed into the as of yet unborn Gaara seeped into her own system, weakening her) but also how she was able to imbue her protection/love into his sand even after her death. And how cool would it be if that’s where Temari’s EXTREME WIND BADASSERY came from?

Shikaku is a very tolerant father, I feel like. Or, rather, accepting the fact that his clan has a weird trading system with the Fae means he’s just a very tolerant, not-easily-shaken man.

Adding a note or two: Fae are rather possessive. Which would explain some of Shikamaru’s actions/ thought process after the Gelel arc. 

Also I don’t think Orochimaru actually broke the Rules of Fae

He may twist words and make the sky seem green but he doesn’t lie, even when he has a seal on his tongue keeping him from speaking truth. Even his experiments with the Jugo’s blood-limit (that Orochimaru benefits from but that’ could be seen him working towards what he said he would that’s fae to) he acts as his name and within his power, and he doesn’t try to mess with Fae courts (not established courts anyway) and the actions he takes are very much in the Human Realm.

He even takes in others that were in some ways abandoned or betrayed (Kimimaro being one example). Which fae are acknowledged to do

just thoughts to add

Even before the Gelel arc, Shikamaru’s concern over Shikako could read as fae-influenced possessiveness–though it is also just the whole “my sister is nearly dying on a monthly basis and then one time ACTUALLY dies” situation.

I think there’s a certain generalization that can be applied if Shikamaru is the changeling because his personality is notably VERY in line with Nara-typical personalities which means A LOT of Nara over the years have been changelings/are descended from those changelings. Whereas if Shikako is the changeling then her unusual determination for a Nara matches up with those rare enough (but memorable enough) Nara who make the “motivated Nara” quote a significantly prevalent saying.

I dunno, I’m kind of waffling back and forth on this matter. Because the idea that the Nara as a whole all have even some percentage of fae ancestry is kind of fun. But also the idea that it isn’t so common, and they’re still just Like That is also very fun. And, like, there’s a certain level of tolerance if the “second-born” non-heir is a changeling, but I feel like there might be some backlash if the heir is the changeling. 

Then again, the idea of Asuma having to deal with changeling Shikamaru is hilarious to me for some reason. Kakashi is already on a team with a bunch of weirdoes, he’s used to it. Asuma would just be staring at Shikamaru–who he has specifically been training to be team leader–in utter bewilderment as his genin follow the strangest (fae) whims. AAAAAHHHH I don’t know :/

… True, true. Orochimaru is one of those characters whose Watsonian motivations must be more complex and fascinating than the Doylist reasons behind his actions. So the idea that he’s beholden to laws that aren’t human is absolutely compelling. All of the partnerships/promises he makes then breaks does give off a very mercurial vibe, and the fact that he doesn’t seem to be majorly punished for any of them does kind of go with the idea that his sense of honor/justice is somehow beyond human reproach. And that would explain why he is walking around in Boruto if he’s “only” broken human laws and those don’t really apply to fae/changelings.

I loosely follow @blackkatmagic’s fanon that Orochimaru’s backstory is as tragic as Tsunade’s with some added deliberate manipulation from Danzo to ruin one of the potential Hokage candidates, so Orochimaru can’t be as completely evil as we see on the surface (although there’s definitely a point where his actions are nobody’s fault but his own, and he doesn’t get held accountable for those at all). I suppose if I were more ambitious I would try to do an Orochimaru centered fic about his progression to cold, but that’s a lot of nuance that I’m not sure I can do…

Shikako’s Guide to Delinquency and Military Insurrection: Really, Danzo had this coming.

Shikako Nara’s Guide To Delinquency and Military Insurrection

(Rule Four: No place is invulnerable. Keep your guard up, even at home.)

The sky has turned dark, the view from the tower’s top now of your village in its nighttime wear. The lights of businesses and houses twinkling bright, people overly loud as they go from restaurants to bars, interrupting the tranquility.

Disorderly.

Despicable.

This lack of discipline is what Hiruzen has allowed to fester Konoha. Weakness. No longer. You will have to make changes. Curfews and and harsher penalties.

You turn away from the window, the sight of your village still so tainted sickens you, enrages you, and so you must look away. But as you turn, you think you see a face in the glass. Behind you?

No, you dart a glance through your office, only your ROOT guards–all under chameleon jutsu and masked besides. When you turn back the face is gone.

Only a reflection, surely.

You put the thought from your mind, put the hat back on–though the veils often limit your peripheral vision and there is no one significant to see. You have much to do in order to make your village great again.

Nothing can stop you now.

The second time, night again, you are waiting for one of your teams to come back and report.

They are only ANBU, not ROOT, and while you were not expecting much, you are disgusted by how long it is taking them.

It should not be this difficult to apprehend one child, jinchuuriki status or not.

Another matter you must correct, Hiruzen’s indulgence of the creature. It should have been handled and trained properly from the start–even the strongest of weapons can rust from poor handling–but instead that foolish monkey had it pretending at a normal life. As if a jinchuuriki could ever be normal.

One of the proximity sensors sounds off, the ANBU team returning, finally, but when they appear…

“Where is the boy?” you ask, the sheer incompetence of these agents causing you to bite the words out, irritated. The four ANBU stand in front of you in various states of bruised and battered, filthy, not even bearing a single blonde hair from the creature.

They shuffle silently, nervously, uselessly in front of you before the captain utters, “He disappeared. We lost him in the sewers.”

“It was as if the shadows just swallowed him whole!” one of the others says inanely, before hunching down from the sharp glance of their captain.

If this is the quality of ANBU that Hiruzen’s administration produced, then it is no wonder that all their nukenin have been walking the Elemental Nations unharmed.

Displeased, you activate the seals on their arms, watch as they try not to scream, grip futilely at themselves before dropping to the floor of your office. A modification of the old design, incorporating what you could reverse engineer of the Hyuuga’s Caged Bird.

You summon another team–ROOT this time, though lately they’re running thin on the ground which is why you had to resort to standard ANBU to begin with–have them remove the bodies and assign them the incomplete mission.

For ROOT agents there is only success or death.

The jinchuuriki is never found.

You are running out of ROOT agents.

The village, frail from decades of mismanagement, crumbles under your steady hand.

This is not how your tenure as Hokage is meant to go.

You are returning to your office after dealing with Yuuhi’s idiocy–the man is too used to dealing with genin, clearly unable to handle the role of jounin commander as he always claimed he could–when you stop just inside the doorway.

Someone is in your seat.

Someone is in your seat, feet propped up on your desk, looking for all the world like she belongs there and not like she is committing the highest form of disrespect and treason.

“Guards!” you yell, and the fact that you must call for them just compounds the sheer frustration of this situation. Four masked and hooded ANBU appear.

They do nothing else.

“Seize her!” you add, enraged that you must instruct them on this most obvious order.

They turn towards you, instead.

It is at this point you realize you do not sense either ROOT or the updated ANBU seals on them. It is at this point you realize your shadow is stretching far longer than it should. It is at this point you realize you cannot move.

You realize all this too late.

The door slams shut behind you, a second shadow tendril snaking past you and returning to the girl.

The girl who casually removes her feet from your desk, gets up from your seat, and saunters around so she is standing in the center of your office, in the center of the four masked shinobi who are not yours.

The masks come off.

Still you cannot move.

“Honestly,” says the girl, “what were you expecting?”

~

A/N: … ugh, writing from Danzo’s POV is the worst. But also, like, I could not think of any other way to fill this prompt, lionhead. It’s a little bit spin-off-y of Ascendant, though not necessary. Just the sheer delusion of a man who has gotten what he wants and still can’t understand why things aren’t going the way he planned. :/

Anyway, hope you enjoyed!

Ask Box Advent Calendar is now open!

(seriously, i’ve got nothing in my ask box. I might start cross posting brainstorms onto ao3–for safety reasons–so if there’s any old brainstorm (like from all of the ask box fake fic titles event) that you want to, er, re-prompt in some way, they’re open season too)

Shikako finds herself in the perfect moment to quote Conan the Barbarian on the best things in life. The real question is, should she take it?

The first time is during a mission with Red Team, a lull in their stake out as they wait for their target to appear. It pops into her mind as soon as Towa mentions the best place to buy senbon, how nothing could compare to the feel of well-crafted steel under his fingers. Komachi retorts with the superiority of kunai, the best weapon. Even Hawk-taicho joins in, in support of shuriken of course.

Shikako wants very badly to say it. That the best thing in life isn’t weapons but what you do with them.

But the conversation has moved past the point where it would make even the slightest bit of sense, and even then maybe only Sasuke would find it amusing. Which is the problem, of course: to quote a fictional hero from another world is such a Shikako trait, not a Bat trait, that she has to resist.

But still, it’s tempting.

Another opportunity comes much later, weeks and months, the fleeting thought long forgotten. It happens while she and a chuunin from Intel on a simple dead drop retrieval in Land of Tea.

Somehow they get involved in the internal conflicts of the Wagurashi Family.

It’s not too bad, really, Shikako doesn’t know what her mission partner is so worried about. There aren’t any enemy nin involved. The Wasabi Family is even being respectfully uninvolved, even though this would be the best time for them to strike and establish themselves as the reigning Family. Annoyingly, this does mean it’s mostly diplomacy rather than any action, but she’s not so far gone that she’d rather start a civil war just to get out of talking to strangers.

The Wagurashi Family boss is old, deciding between her three successors, and it is during this series of tests that the moment arrives, an almost perfect.

But to say it out loud would be too aggressive during a time when she is representing Konoha’s stance of peace, and to say it quietly would be a waste because her chuunin partner already thinks she’s weird. Aoba wouldn’t have understood it, but he probably would have appreciated it.

Shikako lets the moment pass.

They are at war and it isn’t funny at all. It is too accurate and harsh to be funny.

She says nothing.

Shikako slouches languidly, legs stretched out, propped at such an angle that she can lean casually on the railing of the Academy rooftop.

Ah, memories.

The three tiny graduates in front of her fidget mostly with nerves–the one she’ll come to fondly call Stabby fidgets with impatience–and Shikako decides to put them out of their misery.

“What is best in life?” she asks.

This year’s top rookie, who she’ll later refer to as Punchy, tries to answer philosophically, as if this were an additional test. But that’s for tomorrow, of course.

Stabby waxes poetic about senbon and kunai and shuriken in an echo of a long ago conversation behind masks.

The third graduate, Bitey, babbles on about fuinjutsu in fits and bursts, a boy after her own heart, but in this particular moment he is incorrect. If Shikako is really going to take on a team of genin, they need to know what kind of jounin sensei they’re getting. Bizarre, unknowable references and all.

She shakes her head, “What’s best in life is…”

Sometimes the perfect moment comes and goes, but other times you can make your own opportunities.

~

A/N: I’ve actually never seen Conan the Barbarian, so I did have to look this up, but I did recognize the quote which just impresses how prevalent it is in culture.

I couldn’t seem to land on a tone–not entirely serious, but not entirely silly either–but I hope it isn’t too off-putting, anon. Also, now presenting Shikako’s adorable little genin: Punchy, Stabby, and Bitey. I may come up with more details for them at a later time if anyone’s interested.

Ask Box Advent Calendar is now open!

(EDIT: ahhhh, I meant to queue this for tomorrow, December 2! … oh well. DOUBLE POST TODAY!)

I re-read the Primadonna Girl (Says No Thank You) tag ’cause of the recent prompt fill, and I have got to see more of the Shikako and Ibiki partners in crime scenario, so, uh *rolls dice* 24?

Shikako and Ibiki partners in crime, 24) things you said with clenched fists

Shikako Nara’s Guide To Delinquency and Military Insurrection

(Rule Three: Look underneath the underneath)

Ibiki refuses to look back. Eyes forward with the occasional check of peripheral vision because tunnel vision is stupid and deadly, but otherwise he only looks ahead.

He knows she is following–a strange, suspicious shadow–but he refuses to acknowledge her.

All that matters is the mission.

All that matters is getting back to Konoha.

“I could heal you,” the shadow offers, maintaining a constant distance between the two of them. Closer, he gets testy. Further, he gets wary. This exact distance is irritating, but bearable.

Ibiki does not respond.

“I promise I won’t do anything bad,” the shadow continues then, after a considering pause, “Though I guess that’s what I’d say if I were going to do something bad, so how could you tell?”

“I could tell,” Ibiki answers, automatically defending his abilities, before grumbling at himself. New chuunin rank obviously doesn’t mean new maturity level. He’ll have to work on that, later. In the village. If he gets a later.

The shadow smiles, pleased at finally getting a response. She skips a bit, drawing nearer, but at Ibiki’s increased grumbling, she slows down again, hands raised in acquiescence.

“Didn’t I prove myself in that last skirmish?” the shadow asks, more to the air than to him. He wouldn’t trip up again so soon, and so she’s certainly not expecting him to respond.

In more than one way, she’s right: the team of Cloud nin would have easily killed him had he been alone. Should have easily killed the two of them, really, outnumbered as they were. In terms of battle prowess, she’s definitely proved herself.

The fact that he’s still standing and not bleeding out slowly in the middle of contended territory also proves that she’s real and not just a pain induced hallucination like he had assumed for the first few hours of their interaction.

Of course, that doesn’t disprove the possibility that this is a genjutsu. And a particularly sadistic one at that, given the face that the shadow is wearing.

Eyes forward. Complete the mission, get back to Konoha. Nothing else matters now.

But retreating is one matter, avoiding the truth is another.

Internally, he sighs. Out loud, he says, “Cloud has made many enemies.”

She blinks, surprised that he’s answered even if belatedly, before tentatively offering, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend?”

“You sound uncertain,” Ibiki responds, “And that’s reductive. Wars can and frequently do have multiple sides.”

Rather than immediately argue, the shadow hums. “Well, you’re not wrong,” she concedes, before letting them return to a casual silence. 

That’s not how Yoshino would have responded.

Forward. Mission. Konoha.

The shadow is young, though. Younger than Ibiki despite her skill. She takes his words as a learning opportunity, never mind that she must be more experienced than he is.

If she really wanted to sabotage his mission, she would have already done so, and easily. If this were a genjutsu, then he’s already failed. Either way, stubbornly letting his head wounds remain untreated is just stupid.

Ibiki sighs, stops, and eyes the shadow.

She slows to a stop at a respectful distance away.

“What do you know about this?” He asks, lifting the box. Seals cover the outside, an active array, so he hadn’t been able to put it in a storage scroll, but it’s small enough as not to be unwieldy.

“Enough,” she says with a shrug, noncommittal, and he’d almost admire it if it weren’t currently counter to his goals. “If you let me heal you, I’ll tell you more.” She punctuates this with an overly bright smile and a playful flourish of her hands.

“That’s poor negotiation,” he says, because if he’s apparently committing treason by colluding with the shadow then he might as well do so thoroughly and continue their teaching moments. “But I’ll take it.”

Her smile softens, turns more genuine, as if understanding the decision he’s made. She heals him and even gives him supplies to clean up the blood, before lackadaisically swiping a finger across the top of the box.

Ibiki tenses. The sealing array glows briefly before going inert. It unlocks.

“Look inside,” the shadow says, and for the first time she sounds like the battle hardened shinobi she really is, “If you think Danzo should get that, then you’re not Morino Ibiki.”

Ibiki never gave her his name. Somehow, he’s unsurprised.

~

A/N: Finally filled all the things you said prompts! The longest ask box event that just slow bled across literal MONTHS. Sorry for taking forever lionheadbookends!

I’m reluctant to start a new ask box event–or, at least, since it’s mid-November and December is coming up, I’ll probably just do another Ask Box Advent Calendar again in two weeks anyway so a different ask box event now is kinda excessive so… I guess what I’m saying is save ask box prompts for December and I will try to figure out what else to do instead over the next two weeks?

Sasuke / Shikako – went on an ANBU mission, Sasuke was critically wounded and Shikako realized her feelings for him – no matter the guilt. 56) things you said in the spur of the moment

56) things you said in the spur of the moment

“Hawk-taicho,” Komachi murmurs before handing him their makeshift field teacup, medicinal powder mixed into steaming water.

There is no fire in their camp–for obvious reasons–she must have used a chakra trick. Maybe she has fire type like him.

“You don’t have to call me that anymore,” Sasuke says instead of asking because even if his identity has been compromised, doesn’t mean that hers should be just to indulge his curiosity. He takes the cup and tries not to grimace at the taste.

On his other side, Towa is the one who shrugs,  answers, “Mask or no doesn’t change who you are. We’re ANBU’s Red Team, you’re our captain.”

Easy for him to say. He’s not the one whose cover has been blown, painted ceramic shards all that remains of his ticket to freedom.

But there’s no reason for Sasuke to be petty, spite doesn’t suit a captain, de-masked or not, and it’s not like he’s actually irritated at Towa or Komachi.

It’s not like he irritated at anyone else in particular, either.

The stone pendant against his chest pulses with warmth. He hasn’t fully deciphered what it means, but he thinks maybe it’s a mix of teasing and chastisement.

He blinks, tries not to flinch at the crusting blood against his eyelids, and realizes his Sharingan is activated. He deactivates it, chakra drain immediately halting.

The stone washes cool–soothing, encouraging–and Towa and Komachi relax an infinitesimal amount.

“Thank you,” Sasuke says instead, belatedly, because without them he would’ve been captured immediately, no matter that his should-have-been lethal wounds were healing at an impossible rate.

Captured, Shikako’s sacrifice made obsolete. No, that wouldn’t do at all.

He can’t see Komachi’s face–the two of them have kept their masks on at Sasuke’s own orders though they had offered–but he can practically hear the eye roll in her voice. “We’re Red Team,” she says, parroting Towa’s words as if there were some deeper meaning than the obvious, simple fact.

Perhaps there is.

The stone’s temperature fluctuates once more, and Sasuke grunts as he feels rib fracture knit itself whole at an accelerated rate. Is this what it feels like for Naruto? How the hell does he stay standing?

The silence returns, weighted but not tense. They are waiting for him: for him to heal, for him to decide. They can’t move while he’s still recovering–though at this rate, it should only be at most an hour more–but it’s not as if he knows what to do anyway. The stone has no input for him to follow.

“We can’t achieve the mission objective,” he says out loud, more to himself than the squad, but any guidance is better than none.

“I don’t think we were supposed to, taicho,” Towa says after a pause, finally voicing what all of them were thinking.

“They were wearing Cloud gear,” Komachi adds, “But they weren’t fighting like Cloud nin.”

“They were fighting like…” Towa stops, unable to verbalize this particular bit of suspicion.

Like Konoha shinobi, he doesn’t want to say. Like Konoha ANBU, he definitely doesn’t say.

“They were targeting me,” Sasuke says instead, when the weight of that shared thought grows too heavy. “To capture, not to kill. That last blow was a miscalculation.”

Shikako’s existence forfeited because of a miscalculation. He feels his muscles clench with futile rage before they are forcibly made to relax. Relax, he thinks the stone is trying to communicate with it’s fluctuating waves of chakra, relax so I can heal you properly. Don’t be like sensei, he can practically hear Shikako say.

Or maybe he’s trying too hard to personify it.

“We’re not going back to Konoha, are we, taicho?” Komachi asks, somehow parsing a plan of from his expression when even Sasuke can’t figure out what it is he’s feeling.

But now that it’s been said out loud, he knows she’s right. They can’t go back to Konoha. Not yet. And not because Shikamaru will literally, completely, and justifiably kill him if they do.

“No,” Sasuke shakes his head, “We have to go help Naruto.”

Komachi and Towa exchange glances. If they have any objections, they don’t say, but even if they did, it wouldn’t matter: he would still go.

After all, it’s what Shikako told him to do.

~

A/N: … I’m 99% sure I did not interpret this how you wanted, anon, because instead of dying love confessions in the dramatic background of ANBU missions all I could think of was like… suspenseful espionage and sabotage with a hint of ANBU team means family, and family means only death can keep us apart. Maybe not even death? I dunno. It’s possible shadow!Shikako is pulling a Venom and literally healing Sasuke from the inside out and all of Sasuke’s angst and accidental Mangekyou activation will be a silly overreaction when she suddenly reforms in a few hours.

I dunno.