#62: “When we die, we come back different, like, with greener eyes, or as some far off star.” Shikako, before and after

When we die, we come back different,
like, with greener eyes,
or as some far off star
(you’ll be someone you wouldn’t understand)

(The Bustle In A House)

She stares at the photograph heedlessly, watching the trail of smoke from the incense beside it on the altar. Around her, her clan members murmur. She could eavesdrop if she cared enough, but she doesn’t bother.

She already knows what they’re saying.

The photograph.

Kinokawa died of old age, older even than Sembei-obaasan, almost as wrinkled and bald as the day he was born. He’s smiling in his portrait; it’s accurate, he was a happy man and lived a happy life.

Shikadai stands behind her, enough noise in his step to be audible. Shinobi manners, the polite way to nonverbally request attention.

She turns to look at her nephew. There are lines around his eyes and gray in his hair. He’s a grandfather, has already passed the role of clan head onto his daughter, Shikai. He looks so old.

She… doesn’t.

“Kako,” Shikadai says, simply, but those two syllables are loaded. It’s affection and shared mourning, of course, but that he calls her that at all–without the honorific–a thin veneer of plausible deniability against the truth.

She doesn’t look old enough to be his aunt. She can no longer be Shikako Nara.

It might be time for her to leave Konoha. For good.


(Stories of Ancient Gods)

In her convalescence, she keeps herself distracted–if she doesn’t think about how she died, then it must not have happened, surely?–sealing projects and kunoichi meetings and all the secrets she’s taken from Gelel.

She doesn’t mention the whispers in her dreams. She definitely doesn’t mention that they sometimes follow her in her waking hours.

That isn’t the only thing that followed her from the desert.

When the Gelel shrine broke, life energy flowed back into the Dead Wastes, an impromptu oasis sprouting where not even desert fauna could endure. But Konoha is so green already and she’s been keeping herself busy, she hasn’t noticed what’s been sprouting in her footsteps (why would she look behind her, when that’s where unpleasant truths live?)

The last Ancient could make flowers bloom in a land devoid of life.

It’s only a coincidence that Konoha’s lost bloodline could do the same. (But what a dangerous coincidence it will turn out to be).


A/N: I wasn’t really sure what you meant by before and after, anon, but hopefully these will suffice?

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

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

(I hope it’s okay to prompt more than once!) TITLE: “All distance breathes a final dream of bells” (referencing a line of the e.e. cummings poem “all nearness pauses, while a star can grow”) STORY: Yoshino, Stars Also Dream AU where Obi-Wan dropped by after feeling Jashin, not Gelel.


I see everyone is excited about the Land of Hot Springs arc 🙂

I’m putting these three together because I think separately they won’t be very long mostly because they’re AUs/remixes of fic and brainstorms I’ve already done previously. I don’t mean to brush off these prompts–I, too, am all a flutter about the world building SQ’s introduced (GODS! WTF? I’M SO HAPPY AND CONCERNED?!)–but I’m not certain enough to do a full outline of a fic in relation to this topic.

I mean, as an appeasement of sorts, here’s some… spoilers, I guess: I was actually planning on doing a Hail To The Queen installment “she who has divine right” before the Jashin bomb drop (pun not intended) in which each time the Shinigami appeared it ominously looked in the direction of Shikako. Waiting for her to ascend… sort of? And during the Gelel struggle Shinigami might have intervened a little?

But finding out that Shikako is considered a “little god” by Actual Literal Eldritch Horror Jashin kind of just blew that idea away (pun still not intended). Not in a bad way, but that installment is definitely on hold until I can develop more of a sense of how deities work and, as a result, how divine right would also work. Also there are still two more canonical instances of deities that SQ might use so…

ANYWAY! Let’s start with @donapoetrypassion’s prompt:

So in a Stars Also Dream!AU where the Millennium Falcon shows up after the Jashin / Shikako nuke… you know what, this is maybe at most a week after the events of Rogue One? Shikako’s nuke might be the more important thing than the Jashin peering into the tangible world (then again, that’s probably a really creepy sensation in the Force).

Um. Regardless. Whatever vestigial echoes Obi-Wan feels, Yoshino is feeling ON BLAST (pun still not intended) to an exponential degree. And this is definitely worse than the original Gelel eruption because that one was a huge burst of energy but that was positive life energy being returned to the planet (and imbued into her daughter). The nuke was the horrific ritual being co-opted into an explosion as tweaked by the Force/Gelel which probably, especially since it results in basically an entire country being destroyed, doesn’t equal positive energy.

Yoshino was worried about her children being involved in the Gelel eruption before. This time she knows without a doubt that Shikako was there pulling on the Force/Gelel in order to do something that resulted in a country destroyed.

Also, she just gave birth, and no doubt her maternal feelings are on overdrive.

This time, when Obi-Wan comes she is not interested in pursuing this thread from the past. She is not interested in tagging along on his mission to save the princess from the Empire. She has to stay here, has to watch out for her family, has to keep herself and her own safe.

She’s not actively keeping this a secret from Shikaku, but he is, you know, a little worried about the whole nuke and war with Cloud. So it’s still a T&I only project like as in canon SAD, but instead of Yoshino (and Santa-kun) going with Obi-Wan I think maybe… do one of the droids stay behind? No… Does Ibiki have any summon beside that weird jail cell? He must, right? Like some kind of monitoring thing… That as well as a missive from Tsunade’s desk inviting the Rebel Alliance to treat with Konoha.

So a post-Jashin AU of SAD would have Yoshino hands off as far as Episode IV goes. Which is bad news for Obi-Wan–he’s going to die just like in canon–and maybe a younger, less hardened Yoshino would feel bad about that. This AU would be a lot more political, I think, than action/adventure; a lot more fraught and bleak.

Regarding the other two prompts, anon(s?), since I’m not confident enough in my grasp of what deities are like in DoS I’d probably just end up with vague ideas not unlike this suggestion from @wildtabbykat and Stories of Ancient Gods  as well as the rambling Rise-of-the-Guardians-esque brainstorm.

Shikako growing into her godhood. Becoming a god through belief from other people. Outlasting most of the people she loves. etc. etc. but having a fondness for those humans descended from those she once knew.

At some point, when her immortality begins to grate on her (and how ironic that someone whose life involved so much dying is immortal) she probably talks to the Shinigami. At first to get it to kill her finally, but eventually as one does equals…

Yeah. Sorry I couldn’t fill these properly, but hopefully these rants are entertaining enough.

Prompt/idea: Team Seven and overthrowing corrupt dictator(s). (i mean, its already canon, right?)

… hm…

To be honest, anon, I’m not entirely sure what to do with this prompt. Like you said, it’s basically canon that Team Seven overthrows corrupt dictators even though, usually, that’s just a byproduct of their main mission to protect their client.

I suppose the issue is that they can’t go around doing it deliberately without it being a political overreach on both Konoha and Land of Fire’s behalves: as if they were either meddling in foreign affairs or turning Land of Fire into and empire. Already the friendship alliance going on with Mist and Sand is highly suspicious in the eyes of Rock and Lightning so…

And… well… how many countries are there even? How many dictators could there possibly be before news of Team Seven spreads? How long would it take before Team Seven has to take a look at their own government for corruption? And, well, it is also canon because… Danzo… but surely there are evil schemers in the Fire Court. Or perhaps even the idea of nobility/royalty will start to seem like dictatorship…

I guess what I’m saying is who watches the watchmen?

Although in a more abstract interpretation of your prompt I did think of an idea sort of like… a post-post-post-canon Rise of the Guardians-esque story. In which many generations have passed and ninjutsu is as much a matter of legend as ninshuu is for current canon shinobi. There are still injustices in the world–old injustices given new faces–but children have less access to the abilities to save themselves. And it’s kind of…

Well, in line with the Rise of the Guardians vibe I suppose my idea is a little based on Esama’s All Hallows and joisbishmyoga’s Lullaby, in that after Team Seven dies they become guardian spirits to protect children from all the awful things in the world. And they’re held together more by belief of a thing, by ideals and hope and the need for help, than actually ghosts.

So when a child is being hurt by an adult, or when they have no one else to turn to, or when a child is on the verge of death… one of Team Seven appears and helps them however they might. And sometimes that’s getting rid of their abuser, sometimes it’s bringing them to a place that can help them. Sometimes it’s just being there and holding their hand as they pass on.

Children pass the story on–in the way there exists a children’s culture separate from adults, certain rhymes and games that spread from playground to playground without ever being heard by adults–about how if you’re afraid, or if you’re hurt all you have to do is call for them and one of Team Seven will come to help. 

A little bleak, sorry, but that’s what came to mind.

I suppose a different twist on that might be something where Team Seven is like King Arthur? In that they will return during the hour of the Elemental Nations’ greatest need? And whether that means in a literal sense–they’ve died and are the last hope for a group of rebels who summon them/their spirits to save them–or a more happenstance sort of way–the rebels only know that this mysterious chakra device will help somehow but they don’t know it will specifically be Team Seven and so both the rebels and the team are surprised when the three are summoned–or… I dunno. There’s a lot of takes on that.

I am now getting very strong Final Fantasy vibes. I mean, Shikako already has her Gelel stone which is very much like the summon materia in FFVII. And I’ve already posited that FFVII and the Naruto world could easily be one in the same if millennia apart. So maybe instead of FFVII being before the Naruto world, this would be the other way around with DoS being before FFVII? And AVALANCHE happens upon Shikako’s Gelel stone and she gets summoned to help fight ShinRa and Sephiroth?

I don’t know how Naruto and Sasuke get summoned, too. Though given both of their respective heritages/superpowers no doubt there’s some way for them to get preserved/summoned as well. I mean, I did also posit that the bijuu are very much like WEAPONs so that could be what happened to all of the jinchuuriki. And as for Sasuke. Well… Sharingan. Who even knows what that can do at this point? Not Kishimoto, that’s for sure, and definitely not me. 

So basically, a remix of Stories of Ancient Gods.

… OH! You know, I just realized, upon trying to look through the confusing mess that is Kaguya Otsutsuki’s naturowiki page, that her “go from dead planet to young live planet and eat their vitality” is not only reminiscent of Jenova but also is like Jadis from the Chronicles of Narnia.

So if you include Sakura along with Team Seven then that would make the four of them “two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve” (never mind that Adam and Eve are not in the Naruto world) so in the same way that my still as of yet unwritten Once Then Always has the Lost Kids take the place of the Pevensies, then you could have Team Seven take their place instead.

And, well, if anyone’s a corrupt dictator in need of overthrowing then it would be the White Witch. 

Stories of Ancient Gods, a DoSxFFVII crossover drabble (2016-03-15)

A/N1: Okay, so you remember that ask about what I would crossover with DoS and I ranted for a long time and said I would probably not do any of them.

Well. I am a liar.

So here’s a rambling FFVIIxDoS-esque… thing… (only the barest of FFVII is actually used, really).

There is no fate.

Shikako believes this to be true–knows it is true, needs it to be true–because how could she exist, otherwise?

Because, if fate did exist, then what would that make the person who changed it? Either there is no fate, or there is and Shikako has diverted it.

No matter what the civilians think–of her and her teammates who took on bijuu and the human monsters that tried to control them–no matter the whispering she still sometimes hears when she closes her eyes and sees the ghosts of stars in her sleep, she is not a god.

She needs this to be true.

Planets change over time: continents shifting and mountains rising and oceans receding. Shikako knows that once the Land of Fire was more volcanoes than forest, Land of Wind was not always a desert, and even the continent of the Elemental Nations was not configured eons ago the way it is now.

She knows this from the past and so it is no surprise that something holds over from it. Mostly, the disbelief that humans existed before the planet had rearranged itself.

The Book of Gelel is old, the Empire of Gelel existing even before the Sage of the Six Paths which is–in the eyes of shinobi history, a very long time indeed–but the book speaks of even older civilizations who themselves revered an ancient race as gods.

Or, rather, goddess. One who saved the world from famine and war and pestilence and death.

Even if she were willing to ask the question, the only two jinchuuriki with whom she would be comfortable with asking are themselves not close enough to their bijuu to ask. Not with Shukaku gone insane in captivity and Kurama still so bitter and angry from being passed down like a family heirloom. Or a slave.

No, Shikako cannot ask Gaara or Naruto to pass on the question, and so there is no way she can get the answer.

It’s not as if she can ask Shukaku and Kurama directly.

And anyway, she doesn’t really need them to tell her about Kaguya Otsutsuki. Not when the whispers in her sleep already speak of that mistake and their redemption through Shikako.

Shikako learns how to be a sage not from the deer summons–who themselves do not have the knowledge–or from Jiraiya–who has an obligation to Naruto above anyone else–or even from the Fire Temples as suggested.

No, as with many things, Shikako learns from a book.

Well, a book and a stone.

Sometimes the whispers follow Shikako when she is awake, but only as flashes of thought. Nothing that would distract her during battle or put pressure on her already busy mind.

No, there is danger in offering too much all at once. They have learned that lesson the hard way.

But sometimes, Shikako will catch sight of her teammates, hear that flicker of thought, and wonder at the incongruity. Because no one would look at Team Seven and single out Sasuke as chaos. And only those who have not spoken to Naruto could ever consider him a weapon.

Kakashi is dangerous, yes, but never to her–and yet the whispers turn into a brief scream of fear and calamity.

It is better if she does not look.

Here is the problem with stories: they are only ever a possibility. There is no real ending in life and so stories, with such a brief glimpse into a world, cannot contain the entire truth.

Stories can be lies, and vice versa.

Stories can also be lessons.

Like an object in motion, at any given point in time, either its velocity or its position can be observed. But not both.

Shikako feels like object and observer and does not know yet what it means.


A/N2: Eeeeeeeeh? Yeah? I dunno?


edit: now on ao3 as part of the Dreaming One Shots collection here