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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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(They Call It) Soulless, #8, Kamaru

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She’s crying now.

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

Kamaru freezes in place, unable to move forward.

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

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

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

You know, if you look at it slant-wise, Shikamaru now has the soul of a god (in addition or in replacement of his normal soul)?

OOoooh! I hadn’t thought of it that way!

I don’t know if Shikako’s godhood goes along with her soul, though. Then again, I don’t quite know why it wouldn’t. I guess in my head existence is slightly different from soul, so the devil that is Shikabane is the god’s existence minus Shikako’s soul. And even though I’ve been conflating heart and soul, maybe they’re different?

Like… the heart is more a physical anchor/battery for the soul?

Shikamaru has Shikako’s original heart so that his soul could stay in the world of the living. Shikako tore out her heart and so her soul kind of split then left–some of it latched onto Shikamaru, but not all of it–and when she grew her new heart (out of her shadow powers) it wasn’t enough to entice her soul back?

I HAVE NO IDEA. I still don’t quite understand how Kingdom Hearts’ hearts vs bodies vs soul stuff works and that’s the closest equivalent I can think of

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

donapoetrypassion:

jacksgreysays:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…This will work.

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

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

She is.

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

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

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

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

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

Heart and Soul (the crossroads remix), (2018-03-14)

A human without a heart–without a soul–is no longer human. Without that integral piece they are, at best, empty husks.

(At worst, they are monsters.)

But she stopped being human before she gave away her heart:

What do you call a god without a soul?

After, Shikako is different.

That is not so surprising. Inoichi was expecting a much more drastic change in Shikamaru, after all, and so having one twin be more noticeably affected by the… incident… only makes sense.

Shikako is different, After. Inoichi keeps an eye out for the twins, both personally–they are nearly as dear to him as Ino–and professionally.

She is harsher, more ruthless. On missions, it is not so easy to tell: it could be attributed to the rising international tensions, or the stress of her undeniably eventful career catching up, or even just growing up. The name Shikabane-hime spreads–it is no longer a silly joke, even inside the village.

She hardly smiles anymore.

Inoichi notices something in Shikako, but he doesn’t know enough for the truth.

The Shinigami works in trade: a life given as payment, a life taken in exchange.

Phrased that way, it almost seems balanced.

But it is not death for life; death only begets more death.

Be careful what you wish for: even if you get what you want to the letter, you might not get what you need in spirit. And even then, beware your intentions; strength of will is not just an expression.

There is power in determination, in desperation. But there is also weakness.

In that battle that nearly destroyed them, Shikako wished for two things. She made the mistake of intrinsically linking them together: she wanted to save her brother, and so she needed to be stronger.

She gave her heart as payment.

What was taken in exchange?

There were thousands of people in Land of Hot Springs.

They did not go to Jashin.

Death only begets more death.

Shikabane has some catching up to do.

There is a man kneeling at an intersection, hands pushing dirt into a hole in the ground that contains a box. The box contains several items which physically have little worth–a picture, more dirt, a small bone, a small cluster of flowers soon to die–but they have value combined, intangibly, unnaturally.

The man wants something–power or time or wealth or knowledge–it matters not. He’ll get it, the box he’s just buried guarantees it, but he’ll regret it.

He looks up, dirt under his fingernails, still on his knees, to see a figure that had not been present just moments ago.

It is small, in the shape of a young girl with mostly nondescript features. It has dark eyes–not the way a human might–like ink and shadow and the utter absence of that which is human.

For a moment, he considers backing down: there is a fate in those eyes that he is not sure he wants to meet. But then the figure speaks, offers him that which drove him out here in the middle of the night, blinks away the ink and shadow.

He makes the deal; his heart’s desire for his soul.

(Just as well, it was already too late for him)

A human without a heart–without a soul–is no longer human.

A would-have-been-god without a soul? You know what they’re called.

~

A/N: A sort of… remix fic response to @donapoetrypassion’s follow-up fic for this ficlet that I wrote as a response to dona’s prompt… so… yeah…

~tiny and vague demon!Shikako concept~

Heart and Soul

donapoetrypassion:

A few months ago, Jacksgreyson wrote a really awesome ficlet
in response to a prompt of mine. 

This is the follow-up thank-you fic I‘ve been meaning to write
for ages.

Heart and Soul

“Put your heart, mind, and soul, into even your smallest
acts. This is the secret of success.” -Swami Sivanada

“This is just one of
me, but in different places.”-
Shikako Nara to her father. Dreaming of
Sunshine, Chapter 88

“I wouldn’t recommend
using it. But that’s a decision you’ll have to make in the field, based on the
information you have at the time.” –
Shikaku Nara to his daughter. Dreaming
of Sunshine, Chapter 89.

___________________________________________________________________________

When the twins came back from the front, Shikako had a
perfect circle of scarred skin and healed fractures tracing itself across her
lungs, her spine, her ribs. Her recently regrown heart fit exactly in the
center.

Shikamaru had his sister’s heart.

The Konoha transplant program is very advanced.

They’ve done kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas, intestine, and
thymus. They’ve done bones, tendons, corneae, skin, nerves and veins. They’ve
done hands, arms, legs, and feet.

They don’t transplant hearts. (Sasori had, after all, been able to function as a puppet with only his
heart remaining
.) Commonly held wisdom is that a heart transplant would be
about as useless to the transplant recipient as transplanting a brain.

Common wisdom is wrong.

At least, in the case of the Nara twins.

Tsunade was cursing her most unpredictable special jounin
even as she stabilized both twins.

The boy’s case was especially difficult. But since his
chakra system wasn’t being poisoned or overwritten by his new eighth gate -and his
new eighth gate wasn’t destabilizing into oblivion- Tsunade counted her
blessings.

Both brats even managed to briefly wake up and answer basic
questions about missions she had assigned Team Ten or Team Seven, which Tsunade
considered a flat-out miracle.

Still. Best to confirm things
before sharing the good news with her Jounin Commander.

Inoichi did not despair when he was briefed on the
circumstances surrounding the upcoming mindscan on his teammate’s son, because
he was an optimist with some experience in the success rate of desperate Nara.

He was confident that Shikako would have been able to save
(at least something of) her brother.

Even so, at best
he had expected Shikamaru Nara to be as confused and shaken and fundamentally changed as Ino had been, at her most
vulnerable. (At best.)

Inoichi had been prepared to
offer Shikaku platitudes of his son finding a new normal, support for Shikako
as she adjusted to her changed sibling.

He was not prepared to find an
only slightly shaken (and only from the memories of his injury), only slightly
confused (and only from slipping in and out of consciousness), and otherwise completely
unchanged Shikamaru Nara.

He was not prepared to find no
trace of Shikako Nara in her brother’s mind.

(He’d have to look more closely
next time.)

“Shadow Split,” Shikaku cursed, when he was briefed. A heart
was not a soulless thing, to be traded away like any other organ.

Once you’ve accepted the necessity of trading away (a piece
of) your soul, what choices are left? Giving away as little as possible. Or as
little-missed as possible. And protecting that which was precious enough to
trade (a piece of) your soul for.

But what piece, exactly, had his daughter given away?

“Is this even a mind-scan?” Shikamaru asked, on the fifth
session. He slouched in his (probably imaginary) body, picking at the (probably
imaginary) grass, looking at the (not imaginary but definitely not physically
present) figure of his honorary uncle.

Inoichi gave him a reassuring smile. “Not a traditional one.
But some of the …lighter variants of mental contact can be more useful for certain
check-ups.”

Shikamaru didn’t have a problem with Inochi-oiji’s visits.
He practiced with Ino often enough that he wasn’t uncomfortable with mental
techniques. And he knew Inochi was trying to help- even if he was being
frustratingly close-lipped about how
he was helping. But this was the fifth session in almost four weeks, and it was
getting annoying.

“Have you found what you’re looking for yet?” Shikamaru
grumped.

“I think I have a
lead, now,” Inoichi said calmly, with another annoyingly reassuring smile.
“Would you mind showing me to the village? I’d like to check the Hokage Tower
first.”

Shikamaru showed him to the (probably imaginary) village,
which was creepily empty of both people and animals. Then he gestured at the
(probably imaginary) Hokage Tower. “Is that where we’re heading?”

But Inoichi wasn’t looking at the Hokage Tower. He was
looking at the swing by the Academy.

It was empty, of course.

It was also moving.

“That’s… odd.” Shikamaru managed.

Inoichi glanced at him. “It’s a lead. And it’s something we
have to look into, because I suspect this is something you need to know. But
it’s also nothing to be afraid of, Shikamaru.”

Shikamaru nodded.

Shikamaru followed Inoichi past the empty swing, into the
empty hallways of the Tower, into the classroom. The same classroom
Iruka-sensei had taught them all, for years.

Inoichi sighed when he entered it.

“Why are we here?” Shikamaru asked.

“The human mind is a place that demands honesty,” Inoichi
said, but he didn’t seem to be speaking to Shikamaru. “I was always going to
find this place eventually.”

Inoichi was looking at the far wall as he spoke, and he
walked straight toward the back. Where Shikamaru had used to sit, beside
Shikako and Chouji.

“Come up, please,” Inoichi asked, looking at something just
past one of the last desks. His tone was gentle. But also tired, exasperated.
Not expecting his order to be followed.

Inoichi tried again. “Nara techniques require self-knowledge.
If you keep hiding, Shikamaru is never going to be able to safely use any kind
of Shadow technique again.”

A little crumped up ball of paper hit Inoichi’s face.
Another almost got caught in his blonde hair before falling to the floor.

Shikamaru slowly made his own way to the back of the room.

Inoichi sighed at the thing Shikamaru still couldn’t yet
see. He reached down underneath the desk and pulled up a seven-year-old
Shikako. She was glaring with her most sullen expression.

But this was Shikamaru’s mind. Why would- what was-

Shikamaru sat down and tried to
breathe.

It was imaginary air, it wasn’t
real- nothing here was real except him and Inoichi and his too-small-sister-
but the breaths helped calm him. Steady him.

Shikamaru came out of his panic attack to find that he was
still sitting on top of one of the desks, looking at his sister’s soul. Or a
piece of it, anyway.

“Shikamaru needed a new heart. And a new eighth chakra gate.
But you knew a human heart without a soul attached wouldn’t have a working eighth gate. So you found
another solution.” There was no judgement in Inoichi’s voice. Neither
condemnation or approval. He seemed to be examining Shikako’s face carefully.

Inoichi’s voice gentled. “Do you understand what happened?
Where you are?”

Shikako rolled her eyes. “Yes. Obviously. I was trying
not to interfere.” She crossed her
arms defiantly. Her mulish expression flickered into uncertainty as she glanced
at Shikamaru. Just for an instant.

“Why are you seven?” Shikamaru asked.

Shikako stilled. When she answered, she seemed to be
choosing her words carefully. “I’m seven because… because this is the age I was
when I made an important decision. I made another important decision when you
needed a new heart. The decisions …in some ways were similar.”

“And did you make the right choice?” Inoichi asked.

Yes,” Shikako
hissed. But she glanced uncertainly at Shikamaru again.

“My body can regenerate,” she rallied. “And I’m not a part
of Shikako that- well. Shikako doesn’t like to remember being me, so it’s not
like being here is going to make a big difference personality-wise. Giving you
my heart was definitely the right
decision.”

Something sad flickered across her face. “And I can’t say I
regret making the other one. It’s not like the result was unexpected.” There
was something flat about her voice, like she was suppressing some strong
emotion.

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath before opening
them again. “I don’t know why you came,” she told Inoichi, and there was real
pain underneath the hostility in her voice. “I just want Shikamaru to be okay.
I want him to be himself.”

“Do you think I can just leave
you here?” Shikamaru rasped. “Do you think I can let you be alone?” He reached out a hand-

Inoichi caught it with a warning glance. Shikamaru resisted
the urge to dodge, to continue forward until Shikako was tucked up against his
chest.

She was small and
she was hurting and she was- she
would never have an existence besides the space inside of his mind. The rest of
his sister might, but not this part.  

“I can teach you two how to interact safely, though that
might take a little time,” Inoichi said to both of them. Then he turned to
Shikako. “I understand that you don’t want to hurt him accidentally. It’s good
that you’re careful. But this isn’t an answer, either.”

Shikako swallowed. “Okay.”

“I hope it’s all right with both of you if we start
tomorrow,” Inoichi said. It wasn’t really a question.

Still. “Why tomorrow?” Shikamaru managed to get out. It was
difficult to keep his tone from edging towards tense impatience.

“Believe it or not, this meeting has been a pretty big
strain on both of you. I’ve eased things, somewhat. But two sets of spiritual
energies interacting within the same body is something best carefully monitored
until the two of you reach a balance. Giving Shikamaru all sensory input from
and the control over the body is still a type of balance, Shikako,” Inoichi added,
in response to Shikako’s scowl.

He stood up.

He hesitated a moment. “If you can- is there anything you
can tell me about the Shikako outside that might be different now?”

For a moment, Shikako looked terrible insecure. And then the
moment was gone as if it had never been. “She still loves Shikamaru. A lot. She wouldn’t like, let a bunch of
Konoha babies die if just sitting there doing nothing meant Shikamaru was going
to be safer. But- Shikamaru wouldn’t want that anyway. And the Shikako outside
would still do- almost anything for him. Just not absolutely everything.” She looked away from Inoichi. Towards Shikamaru.
“You know we both- we both-“ Her eyes were wet and so, so wide.

“I know,” Shikamaru said softly. He wished this was a real
place. He wished- he wished he could hold her.
That he didn’t have to wait until Inoichi ‘taught them how to interact
safely.’ His sister had torn out her heart and ripped apart her soul to keep
him alive, and she was trying to tell him both parts loved him. As if he didn’t
know. “I’ve always known”

“How are you feeling?” Dad asked, as Shikamaru blinked into
awareness.

Like my heart is breaking, Shikamaru didn’t answer.

As much as the discovery had been painful, Shikamaru was now
well on the path to recovery. But the success didn’t ease Inoichi’s mind much
at all, and he was quiet as he walked home.

Inside-Shikako had so easily Split from the rest of herself
because she had remained unacknowledged and hidden even within Shikako, likely
for quite some time. What had she said? That the rest of Shikako didn’t like to
remember being her.

And she’d distinguished the other Shikako from herself by
implying that Shikako would do less for Shikamaru. That Shikako would not let
Konoha babies die, even if doing nothing made Shikamaru safer. Implying that
inside-Shikako might.

…That was not the kind of self-knowledge that came in
advance of action.

Worst of all, inside-Shikako looked …seven, at most. And she
acted like a seven-year-old Shikako,
albeit a terrified and angry version. Almost as if that piece of Shikako Nara
had had never been accepted or understood or integrated into the whole.

Inside-Shikako was clearly an aspect of personality that had
crystalized in some single, terrible moment. And aspect Shikako hated and
feared- but needed. Because the moment might happen again. Because that moment
had so marked her that it had frozen a piece of her forever, and plunged the
rest into desperate denial.

No, Inoichi would not be sleeping well tonight.

AHHHH!!! Follow up fic from dona! (✿ ♥‿♥)

(I love your Inoichi voice so much!)

Outside POVs and consequences for this fic

Hey there. Would you ever write a story where Shikako has to travel to the Land of HotSprings and see the damage she’s caused and the amount of lives she helped took? cause, ya know, I like when Shikako is in despair lol. I love Shikako but it can be argued, she has done more bad than good, for, uh, existing. However, I won’t change anything about Shikako, flaws and all.

@hbkmzk says: Hey! Thanks for the response. I’m anything but a writer but I’ll try. I have to admit, I’m curious with the idea of Shikako being a god. Maybe her shadow contained a God of vengeance and after her first shadow-split, the god has slowly been trying to take over her? I choose god of vengeance because since after her first shadow-split her, Shikako has been more vengeful? Example, Shikamaru’s arm incident or the logistic sealing scroll nightmare. That being said, you are correct. I don’t really see her returning to the land of Hot Springs or having a mission at that area. However, what if her shadow controlled by this God of Vengeance flea to The Land of Hot Springs the next time she shadow-split. This will force Shikako to travel to the land of Hot Springs. The god of vengeance probably went to the land of Hot Springs because it wanted to see the damage done to the monk for what they did to Aoba.
I tried, lol. I don’t know how helpful this is. Hopefully it makes sense to you

~

Imagine a bird, young and not yet able to fly, feathers soft and downy.

Imagine this bird is part of a mighty flock, the youngest and smallest and least of its members, but still part of it nonetheless.

Now imagine that flock is decimated–struck down nearly to its entirety–all for that young, flightless, useless baby bird…

… and the one that killed the rest.

In the wild, the baby bird would do its best to avoid that which had orphaned it. Would fear the beating of wings and the sharp cries of fellow birds.

That baby bird would certainly never devote the rest of its life to growing strong enough to kill that which had destroyed its flock.

Vengeance is such a human concept.

~

Shikako dreams.

In the rare moments she allows herself to sleep–mind too frazzled and paranoid and weighed down to do more than quick dozes–she dreams.

She dreams of the void, that which calls to every Nara. She dreams of the forest, her friends and the village. She dreams of the sun, Naruto so far away and the future drawing ever closer.

Sometimes she dreams of gray skies, razed ground, ash swirling on the wind.

She wakes to the taste of blood on her tongue.

~

Gelel is a young god comprised mainly of starlight, human ingenuity, and sacrifice. But even young gods can make their mark on the earth, life springing where once there was only death.

Imagine, then, what an old god might do.

~

I would kill anyone who hurts you, Shikako thinks, even as the silence stretches long and tense, I have killed those who have hurt you.

But that is not what Shikamaru wants to hear from her.

She doesn’t know how else to express her love.

~

The Cult of Jashin is old–older than the villages, older than the Sage of Six Paths, older even than the Empire of Gelel now ancient history, dust under the feet of the Elemental Nations.

But the cult itself is young, barely an eye blink, compared to the entity they revere, for Jashin is timeless. An elder god, ageless and unknowable.

But not undefeatable.

The blast radius where the Land of Hot Springs once was is a perfectly flat circle, there are no objects for the weakly filtered sunlight to cast shadows. And yet, at the center, where not even the bravest of shinobi have dared to tread, a shadow writhes and grows.

~

She couldn’t save Aoba, but at least she could do one thing for him.

~

Naruto is so forgiving. Too forgiving, she thinks sometimes, his ideals too impractical and too impossible.

But somehow he turns his enemies, those who would harm him, into allies–into friends–and so for him revenge is not only unwanted but also unnecessary.

Meanwhile Kakashi’s pain has always been a part of him, but the convoluted tangle of blame leaves no target for her.

Sasuke, though, is an entirely different story:

She interfered with his life not to stop him–she is more than happy to help him seek revenge–she just wants to make sure he does so carefully, correctly, and completely.

~

Nemesis, the inescapable. Goddess of revenge. She who enacts retribution against those guilty of hubris.

~

Vengeance is a very human concept and humans, in the grand scheme of things, are a new presence in the universe.

But gods transcend time.

Chaos and destruction and suffering may be older, but vengeance is more potent, more powerful…

… and she grows stronger with every victory.

~

jacksgreysays:

Yes… maybe? Well…

My immediate thought was to make it related to this ficlet aka, post-canon Kankurou and Shikako hanging out and trying to be less traumatized together.

And like, it would be sort of… Shikako goes to hang out in Sand ostensibly to research the Gelel phenom (and blow up shit in the desert and make a glass canyon) and Kankurou hangs around and is a Theatre Nerd and then when she finally is more at peace with herself, the two of them go back to Konoha and stop by Land of Hot Springs on the way…

Except then I checked the Naruto world map and that makes no geographic sense for Kankurou and Shikako to stop by Land of Hot Springs on their way back from Sand because it is on the opposite side of Land of Fire so…

I mean, I guess they could just be traveling around together for funsies? Like… she’s also been researching other places and Kankurou probably produced an international hit and there’s some pyrotechnics in his show which he might as well have Sparky do anyway…

But that’s kinda… I mean, don’t get me wrong. A lot of my favorite DoS ficlets are the canon-ish semi-compliant chapter responses / future speculation but I think what I just described above is more about Shikako getting closure from the whole shinobi lifestyle as opposed to specifically the Land of Hot Springs (although that is, in its way, the first unstoppable horror).

So I think for something more Land of Hot Springs centric… OH!

So you brought up how Shikako’s existence has done more harm than good in the world and combined with just the whole celestial back and forth of Jashin vs little god that occurred during that arc and also the whole vibe of this asx box event, especially yesterday’s post about mobius stories, I guess what I’m leading into is:

What if Shikako were Jashin?

Or, maybe, not Jashin specifically, but a god of chaos/destruction/suffering. (Although, the thought of little baby Shikako being born with the mark of Jashin on her forehead and it fading as she grows such that she doesn’t know about it, is pretty fun. Because then there’s the cool opportunity of Shikaku RECOGNIZING the symbol when Tsunade brings him in on the situation and it’s kind of this balance in which Shikaku the father and Shikaku the jounin commander are at odds. I mean, of course his father side is going to win–but still. Internal conflict and outside POV for unknowing literal god Shikako is GREAT)

The main problem with Shikako returning to Land of Hot Springs is that I’m pretty certain that everyone with even the slightest inkling of her mission and the aftermath take great pains to ensure that she NEVER HAS TO GO BACK THERE. So either she’s going behind everyone’s back to do so which… hm… canon Shikako would not want to any time soon, but perhaps literal-god-of-chaos-destruction-and-suffering!Shikako feels compelled to do so (either as a Jashin version, to go with that mobius vibe, in which she returns to the beginning and the end or as a non-Jashin version in which the god within her surveys the place of her victory against an older god and also one of her “greatest” acts) or this is, again, a post-canon future fic where people aren’t guarding her against herself as much.

I… would very much like to write this, hbkmzk, but I think I need. Hm… if you’re interested in this ‘verse, please send in a follow up prompt of maybe three or four other outside POVs or maybe a few details you’d like to add to this ‘verse or even a cool title/quote? Or, like, just ask me a few questions about this ‘verse and me coming up with the answers should be able to do the same. It’s like… this fic is almost there but I just need a few more pieces for that final push.

~

Help me out with this ficlet/check out the Ask Box Would You Ever!

A/N: Not quite what you want, but hopefully I’ve captured the vibe. Thanks for playing along with me 🙂

Check out the Ask Box Would You Ever!