#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.]

Ahh! Your last post was so sad! Is Haru watching over them? Was she able to move on?

Thanks! Sad is what I was going for (sad seems to be what I go for a lot…) 😀

I think Haru was very careful to make sure she wouldn’t end up a ghost–there’s a reason why she was so surprisingly successful/got away with so much in life, and that’s because she was one of the most (if not, the most) powerful medium in Japan. Hikaru’s ability, while stronger than her grandfather’s hazy sight, was still passive and so there’s no guarantee that someone would be there to help her move on if she died.

She might have done a final ghostly goodbye, but she didn’t linger on for too long. Also, seeing as how she dies because of Kira, she wouldn’t want to stay around a shinigami (as human she didn’t like it, much less as a ghost.)

Fic title: The Bustle In A House

I had to google this to figure out what it was a reference to because despite my love of the written word, English was my least favorite class in school. Then again, Emily Dickinson wasn’t covered in my English class anyway so…

The poem by Emily Dickinson of the prompted title is about a family immediately after the death of a loved one who still have to keep going–keep on doing their every day actions, or do the funeral arrangements for said loved one–before they can properly break down and grieve.

… you didn’t specify a fandom or characters or anything, newyn1, and I know most of my followers are here because of my DoS stuff and that I’ve also specifically seen your username over @dosbysilverqueen​, but I kinda feel like this would fit better in a different fandom.

I mean, the only thing I can think of in a DoS would be Shikako’s steady but inevitable immortality in which she outlives all of her family members because of her burgeoning godhood. And like, at first she doesn’t think much of it–outliving her parents is sad but not surprising. Outliving Shikamaru is kind of like just a flip of a coin statistics game, and women of Asian descent tend to have longer lifespans than men of Asian descent anyway.

Except maybe there’s the added she’s not aging as quickly as everyone else. She still looks in her twenties when Shikamaru looks in his forties (or something like that). At some point, Kino-chan starts to look older than her.

And then she really realizes it when Kino-chan dies before she does–he lived as peaceful and safe a life as a shinobi possibly could and yet–or when she starts to be confused for Shikadai’s cousin instead of his aunt, etc. etc.

So it’d be about Shikako coping with outliving and having to grieve for her family. Being the one to grieve because, eventually, she’s the only one left to do so. But then that’s something that I’d probably throw in along with these other prompts of Shikako’s immortality/godhood so…

My alternative fandom take on it would probably be in my Hikaru no Go/Death Note ‘verse (En)Closure with a similar sort of set up. Not because of godhood, though.

So Hikaru’s POV when his grandfather dies, when Sai asks Haru to help him move on, and then when Haru dies because of Kira. And the thing is, because it’s Hikaru and Hikaru no Go, of course he would be playing go. His grandfather dies and he plays go, because even though it’s because of Sai that he started playing, he never would have met Sai if it weren’t for his grandfather’s love for the game.

So at his grandfather’s memorial service, maybe he gets recognized as a professional go player by his grandfather’s friends–who are all amateurs but passionate–and they pester him into playing with them and they do a whole bout of “when Heihachi was younger” stories. Hikaru’s reputation as a troublemaker go player is not entirely new.

Hikaru is older when Sai moves on (because having two seers makes the ghost stay longer) and Sai chooses to move on, so he doesn’t go into a downward spiral like in canon, but it’s still something to mourn and he does fight with Haru about it here and while they do stop fighting quickly enough, probably they don’t properly make up with each other until they play a game of go. Even though Haru is awful at it.

And maybe they official shut down the Netgo account (which Haru also did for Sai since it doesn’t take a genius to put a stone where he points) and while they don’t disclose who Sai was they do inform the greater go world that he has passed on. I don’t know.

After Haru dies, because of Kira, Hikaru is hollowed out. Because she and Sai were his best friends and the only reason why he didn’t spiral after Sai’s death was because of her. But now it’s just him who knows the truth. He probably does take some time off, trying to see if he can find her ghost (because that’s what tied them together, the ability to see ghosts, but no matter where he looks he can’t find her).

And he comes back to the Institute where Kuwabara-Honinbou challenges him to a game (just like how the story between him and Haru start) and they both mourn for her together because even though she wasn’t part of the go world, she was part of their world. And also no grandparent should have to outlive their grandchild.

(No summary, sorry, but two in one brainstorm so it evens out?)