(one: arranged marriage)
Shikaku’s daughter is a quiet creature. Content, but silent; solitary. She would rather read books or watch the grazing deer or follow in his and Yoshino’s footsteps than go outside and play with the other children.
It’s nothing to be worried about: Shikamaru is much the same, switching shogi for books and deer for clouds, though he, at least, has Chouji. Shikaku had been self-contained as a child, too, it is the way of most Nara children, he thinks, though he remembers, hazily, how Ikoma had been a little more active.
Eventually Shikako will come out of her shell–or perhaps she won’t, there is no rushing these things, pressure will only make the matter worse–Shikaku is prepared to be patient with his daughter.
Patience is not the problem.
“You want… what?” Shikaku asks, blindsided for the first time in three years–the last time had been when the ambassador from Cloud double crossed them and tried to kidnap the Hyuuga heiress–and by his own daughter no less.
His tiny, quiet daughter, who looks up at him, head tilted slightly, as if he’s the one acting oddly. “An engagement,” she says, with an odd twist to her mouth, as if the very word is bitter on her tongue, “to Sasuke Uchiha.”
He looks at Yoshino who also has an expression of bewilderment on her face.
“Shikako, sweetheart,” she says, stalling for time, trying to parse her thoughts, doing a better job than he is at the moment. “Just because you have a crush on this boy, it doesn’t mean you need to marry him. You can,” she pauses, glances at Shikaku, finding some sort of comfort from him, “Start small, honey, try being his friend first.”
It’s sound advice, truly; it probably would have ended the conversation if this were in fact a discussion about a girl with a crush on a boy.
It is not.
“I don’t have a crush on him,” Shikako says, entirely honest, no hint of embarrassed denial in her tone, “I don’t want this for me, I want this for…”
She drifts off. Neither he or Yoshino want to interrupt, and so they stay silent as she thinks. Searching for the right words.
“It’s the smart thing to do.”
[She is only a child, an untrained child, but what is the point of having this knowledge if not to save lives? She cannot stop this as a shinobi, not with her chakra hypersensitivity and her less than a year’s worth of training, not against S-class ninja who would sooner kill her than look at her.
But in this world she is not only a child. She is a Nara. The clan head’s only daughter, and that means something.
The Uchiha were isolated, seething and resentful, planning for a coup against a village that had already betrayed them. But what if she could change that? What if somehow, she could bring them back into the fold? The Uchiha were one of the founding clans of Konoha, and they just have to be reminded of this fact.
She is a Nara, and with her comes her clan. And where her clan goes, the Akimichi and the Yamanaka follow. And four clans is enough, has to be enough. Danzo cannot kill them all, not when the Akimichi are so deeply entrenched in the civilian sectors. Not when the Yamanaka pervade every branch of the shinobi forces. Not when her father is the Jounin Commander, as his father was before him, as, likely, his son will be after him.
She can do this. This isn’t something that requires chakra and jutsu and strength she doesn’t yet have and might never get. And, anyway, marriage is such a small thing to sacrifice to save so many lives and to prevent so much grief and hardship. It may not have to be a sacrifice at all. Sasuke, as she knows him from the past, was a product of his tragedy, twisted and angry and bitter but still with some moments of kindness and courage. Sasuke as she knows him now is just a little boy, but there is still kindness in him, and maybe some courage. More smiles, that’s for sure.
She will marry him and maybe they’ll become friends, maybe they’ll grow to love one another, maybe they’ll be happy together. But even if they don’t, even if they are cold to each other, civil colleagues forced to live together, then she’d still do it.
It’s the smart thing to do.]
A/N: Well… that was a quicker turn around time than I thought it would be. Also… I was supposed to go to sleep three hours ago but… oh well.
This is for you, anon, who wanted some Shikako/Sasuke. But that’s not all! As you can tell from the title I will be doing more installments of this in the future. Probably not as quickly–but it will definitely happen! Though, I’d definitely appreciate some Shikasuke-specific prompts to help with future installments
Title (or at least, the main title, not the subtitle) is from the song “The Only Dream” by Tyrone & Elina because it’s one of the few love songs in my favorites playlist and also it kind of works really well for the Shikasuke ship. Not this particular ficlet, but the general vibe I get of the ship from DoS.
Further Down Road One, (2016-04-15)
Someone is testing his patience–unfortunately, Danzo doesn’t know who.
His plan to destroy the Uchiha and steal their Sharingan–justified by preventing a coup, of course–has been thwarted by a single engagement. Which ought to point out the culprit as that upstart Nara clan head, especially given his tenacious tracking of supplies Danzo has appropriated for ROOT, except there is more:
The Merchant’s Guild, primarily a civilian organization, has begun making inquiries into some of Danzo’s less legitimate businesses–though they are several times removed from himself. The Intel Division, who aren’t worth the title shinobi, are enacting a stricter review over mission assignments and reports, restricting his soldiers’ movements.
The Uchiha Police Force–yet another reason to exterminate those overpowered menaces–have received anonymous tips, turning certain deaths from “accidental” to “potential foul play.” Most are easily avoided, but some lead directly to the younger recruits recently orphaned on his orders.
It is too many instances to be Shikaku Nara, beyond his scope as Nara clan head and Jounin Commander. And yet, the timing is far too suspicious to be merely coincidental.
Someone is testing his patience.
[She is still a Nara, no matter what she’s consigned herself to be in the future, and there are some parts of her heritage that she refuses to lose. Shogi may seem like such a small thing, but it is a connection she refuses to sever. She will remember these soft, lazy days with her parents and her brother fondly.
Also, the lessons are useful.
She has stepped into a shogi game spanning the entire village. Danzo has his political contacts, his wealth, and ROOT as his pieces. In opposition are her clans–present and future–their allies, and herself.
Danzo is paranoid, increasingly so, but not enough to correctly guess the identity of his opponent.
Shikako is piece and player, both.]
He is so busy straddling the line between clan heir and loyal ANBU that when news of his little brother’s engagement finally makes it’s way through the fog of stress and desperation, Itachi is completely blindsided.
Shisui is, too, so it’s not like he has any high ground to stand on. “Your little sister in law is very cute.”
“Future sister in law,” Itachi says back, just to be contrary, “Also, she’s six.”
“Yeah, which is why I said cute; smart, too, quiet, though,” he smirks, “She reminds me of you, actually,” he says pointedly enough that Itachi meets his eyes in curiosity.
There is danger in speaking out loud, unsure of who may hear, and so Itachi and Shisui have developed their own silent language.
Shisui can’t actually be thinking about bringing a six year old into their counter conspiracy, can he?
“She’s six,” Itachi repeats out loud.
“And what were you doing when you were six?” Shisui responds, dryly, “Anyway, I’m not saying we do anything until you actually talk to her.”
Itachi hums noncommittally.
“Ask her about the engagement,” Shisui suggests, “about whose idea it was.”
[She isn’t really expecting to make friends, doesn’t have the time to, what with the silent war she’s undertaken. She has her brother, she doesn’t really need anyone else. And anyway, allies are one thing, but friends? Not likely.]
Mikoto has always had a soft spot for Sasuke: he is her baby, after all, unlike Itachi who has the weight of Fugaku and the clan elder’s expectations. Which is why she keeps such a close eye on her daughter-in-law to be. Mikoto is not against the engagement–Shikako Nara is a good match for her youngest son, and a sweet girl from what she’s seen–but she’ll be damned if her baby ends up in a marriage that makes him miserable.
As it is, perhaps she is too busy expecting the worst, focusing on Shikako instead of Sasuke, because he seems to be quite content with the engagement. Happy, even. Maybe even in love–though they are both only twelve and it is too early to say–at the very least, on the path to it.
Sasuke is her baby, so she was planning to pass down her summoning contract to him, but it appears as if he has other ideas:
“It’s an Uchiha contract,” Fugaku denies, never mind that it’s not even his decision to make, trying to divert his youngest son from this notion with a cold tone of voice.
But Sasuke holds his head up, standing firm against his father, and easily says, “Shikako will be my wife. She will be an Uchiha.”
The confidence, the devotion, the clear, pure conviction that he is right, that he will do this for his bride-to-be, no matter what his father–who might as well have been his god–says. It doesn’t matter what Mikoto thinks of Shikako Nara, not really, because she knows enough about the girl from this single moment to know. Sasuke may not love her yet, but he’s definitely on the way: as far as Mikoto is concerned, if Shikako is worthy of that, then she can be worthy Mikoto’s other legacy.
[She knows there is a deer summons. Knows that, because of the engagement, she will never be allowed to sign it. She may be a Nara for now, but she will not be in the future, and and children she has will be Uchiha not Nara. The deer contract should remain in the clan, she knows that, it’s enough that she still gets to learn shadow jutsu.
It’s a minor thing, anyway, summoning. There are powerful shinobi who don’t have summoning contracts and it’s not like she was guaranteed to have the deer summons, anyway. It was just a spare thought. Something that would have been nice to have–not something she needs. She resigns herself, something she’s been doing a lot of, to never being a summoner.
Except Sasuke changes that. His mother has a contract, and while it was originally meant to be for him, he’s convinced her to offer it to Shikako. And that still doesn’t guarantee anything–maybe the cats won’t like her, maybe they’ll reject her as a summoner–but it’s far more than she was expecting.
Cats are not deer, and being an Uchiha bride is not the same as being a Nara daughter, but it’s more than what she was expecting. More than enough.]
A/N: @book14reader and I had a very lengthy discussion (transcript here) about the consequences of a Shikasuke engagement. Primarily? The Problem of Danzo. And while I still basically sidestepped the issue, I thought it was important enough to brush over. In a way, this AU’s ultimate Big Bad isn’t Akatsuki or Madara, it’s Danzo. So… there you go.
Also, the other two were just kind of cute thoughts… and two POVs who I probably wouldn’t be able to do otherwise? Given… the obvious.
Even Further Down Road One (2016-06-04)
“Little brother,” Itachi says, barely a warning before he musses Saskue’s hair. Now that he’s a genin with the forehead protector to go with it, his brother can no longer do his usual greeting flick. But Itachi has adapted easily, finding another way to simultaneously express fondness and casually exert dominance.
“Aniki!” he complains, trying to straighten the mess.
“Little sister. Naruto-kun,” Itachi continues, instead, gently tugging on Shikako’s braid. Which is, frankly, unfair. The idiot also gets treated to a hair ruffle, but considering his hair is always a mess, it hardly makes a difference.
“Itachi,” Shikako says with a smile, “What are you doing here?”
Here being Team Seven’s usual training grounds, sans their jounin sensei since no one knows where Kakashi might be at any given point in time. Certainly not where he’s supposed to be.
“We both just got back from missions and we wanted to check up on our favorite genin,” Itachi answers, with a smile of his own.
An evil smile.
“We?” Sasuke repeats, dread already pooling in his stomach.
“Sasuke-chan!” A terrible voice rings out before, yet again, a hand ruins his just neatened hair.
Fortunately, the offender moves on to a different victim. “Naruto! What embarrassing things has my baby cousin been up to?” Never mind–it’s unfortunate.
“Shisui!” Shikako says, delight in her tone and eyes. She doesn’t even flinch away when the bastard pulls her into a hug. “I thought you weren’t coming back for another week.”
“Well,” Shisui half shrugs, one arm staying around Shikako’s shoulders. Unnecessarily. “I couldn’t just let my adorable little sister languish without her favorite Uchiha.”
Okay, that’s it.
“Go away!” Sasuke shouts, just barely resisting the urge to physically shove Shisui away because that might jostle Shikako with his proximity. “Go bother your own team!” Because maybe that’ll work. “And she’s not your sister,” he adds.
“Little brother,” Itachi sighs, shaking his head in disappointment, “There’s no need to be rude.”
Shisui, infuriatingly, just smirks. “It’s okay, Itachi. I understand,” he nods, smirk growing wider, “Puberty.”
The inarticulate noise that claws its way out of his throat does more to ward off his brother and cousin, because–after yet another set of hair ruffling–they leave.
“Jeez, Sasuke,” Naruto says, because he never met a situation that he didn’t decide to aggravate immediately, “What’s wrong with you?”
Shikako is too tactful to ask, but looks equally interested in his answer. Sasuke tries not to blush, already embarrassed at how easily flustered he was.
“Nothing,” he mutters, “Let’s just spar already.”
Hopefully by the time Kakashi arrives, she’ll have forgotten his complete lack of cool.
Sasuke has known–ever since they were children at the Academy, even before their engagement–that Shikako is a genius.
Sure, it probably started as a childish, self-absorbed acknowledgement–anyone smarter than him had to be a genius by default–but now that they are older, Sasuke has realized just how much of a genius his fianceé truly is.
She is constantly working on one project or another, always improving herself to tackle even bigger challenges. She sees beyond what everyone else can, always three steps ahead. So why would she do this?
“I’m not going to fight my brother,” she repeats, after returning to the viewing area, after forfeiting to Shikamaru of all people–the laziest person Sasuke has ever met.
He doesn’t understand. Even if her relationship with her brother is different from his relationship with Itachi–which is, admittedly, probably more of a one-sided competition than a true sibling rivalry–that doesn’t mean she was only left with the one option. The preliminaries are hardly death matches, and it’s not as if she couldn’t have at least sparred against Shikamaru. Chances are, if it had required even a modicum of effort, Shikamaru would have been the one to forfeit first.
Sasuke doesn’t actually say so out loud, wouldn’t want to verbally undermine her decision in front of so many people, but she can probably see the confusion in the slant of his eyebrows, the twist of his mouth. Shikako’s always been able to read him so easily.
She smiles back at him, a poor attempt at reassurance given the tightness in the corners of her eyes. He likes to think he can read her just as well.
“Who knows the next time my brother will ever get close enough to a promotion?” She tries to joke, and while that’s enough to put off the others, it’s not enough for him.
Softer, so only their team can hear, she adds, “There’s a different battle I need to prepare for,” her tone tamped down to something serious, almost concerned.
He doesn’t understand, and neither does Naruto from the look on his face, but Kakashi seems to. For now, at least, Sasuke will trust their jounin sensei on this matter–at least until Shikako is ready to reveal more.
Somehow, even though she’s the only member of their team not part of the third round, Shikako trains harder than either of he or Naruto during the month long gap. Sasuke’s time is split between Itachi and Kakashi, Naruto’s split between Kakashi and some weird old pervert he randomly happened across, apparently, but Shikako? Has been participating in training with Kakashi, Itachi, Naruto’s old perverted mentor, Shisui, her parents, and even Sasuke’s mother. He would call it major overkill if it didn’t seem so important to her.
Just what is she preparing for, anyway?
The answer comes soon enough when, in the middle of his fight against Gaara, a genjutsu falls over the arena.
An invasion–by Sand and the snake bastard who tried to bite him in the Forest of Death–what the hell?
Sasuke goes after Gaara and his siblings because, well, he’s already fighting him so why not? Shikako and a bunch of the other Rookie Nine appear not long after, and if he weren’t so glad to see her, he’d probably be confused as to how easily she steps up and takes charge of the situation. As is, he’s still pretty damned impressed. Also, proud.
Now he understands why she forfeited during the preliminaries. An exam? A promotion? Those don’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things.
This is the Shikako he knows–observing everything, three steps ahead and already reacting. A genius.
And he’s going to marry that girl.
Usually when Shikako and his mother train together, Sasuke tries not to hang around. He doesn’t want to distract them and, plus, he gave up his right to the cat summons. Also, sometimes, their training devolves into his mother regaling Shikako with baby stories which he’d rather not be around for. Bad enough that she hears them; if he’s not there to witness it, at least he has plausible deniability.
But given that they do train at the house and he, well, lives there, he can’t always avoid it.
Thankfully this time the two of them are actually summoning cats.
“Summoning Jutsu!” Shikako calls out, a familiar pattern of ink spreading from her fingertips. The chakra smoke is minimal, because Shikako has always had excellent chakra control, but the result is still… less than ideal.
A kitten mewls curiously, before shakily walking around.
“Well,” his mother says diplomatically, “At least this one’s capable of moving.”
Shikako sighs again, even louder. Disheartened, she sits: legs crossed, elbows on her knees, head propped in her hands. She watches the kitten makes its sluggish trek across the floor.
“You’re actually doing quite well,” his mother tries again, “I didn’t even start learning how to summon until I was older than you.”
It doesn’t appear to be working, even though Shikako nods politely.
And it’s not as if Sasuke thinks he can do any better, but he hates seeing her so dejected. So he takes a seat beside her, scoops up the kitten, and holds it out to her. He tries to smile at her: it’s only strained as it is because he’s risking hearing really embarrassing childhood stories about himself and also the kitten apparently hates him and is using it’s tiny claws and teeth on his hands. What the hell, it might be breaking skin.
Shikako understands, because she gives a soft chuckle before taking the summon from his hands. Unsurprisingly, it stops fighting, rubbing it’s face affectionately against her skin.
Sasuke doesn’t need to say anything: he just sits quietly at her side and lets her know he’s there for her, no matter what.
A/N: God, Sasuke, way to be SUPER obvious about how totally in love with Shikako you are! That’s embarrassing… 😀
For this anon–I tweaked the prompts a bit, but hopefully you’ll still enjoy this. But seriously, y’all need to let me go down the other roads already. 😛
I’ll upload this to ao3 later.