40, Kako and Kamaru, AU of (They Call It) Soulless in that a bunch of Shinobi have been in stasis in Konoha General since the Kyuubi attack

(They Call It) Soulless40) things you said when you met my parents

Kako says that a single action should, ideally, solve at least three problems simultaneously. “Power is one thing, but if you don’t apply it properly, efficiently, then it may cause more harm than good. And anyway,” she says with a smile, ruffling Kamaru’s hair, “if you only need one solution to multiple problems, then you have all the more time to be lazy.”

Kamaru understands this lesson immediately, but putting it into practice is slightly more difficult. He tries to look to Kako’s actions as an example and it only manages to bring up more questions.

Kako has been teaching him medical jutsu–another thing which Kamaru understands in theory, but struggles in application–whenever their free time overlaps, no matter how tired she is, so surely the problems it must be solving are either multitude or important. Probably both.

He thinks he’s figured out a couple of them: medical jutsu is a valuable skill, regardless of if he wants to be a field shinobi or not, and if he can reduce his medical costs then that will help with their financial situation. But what else?

Kamaru wouldn’t say he’s particularly rebellious or mischievous or anything like that. Yeah, sometimes he skips class with Chouji and Kiba and Naruto, but really it’s because lessons can be so boring and Iruka-sensei always gets angry when he naps. And anyway, Kako hardly ever minds; actually, it’s almost as if she approves, fondly asking after his friends and their chosen adventure of the day.

So Kamaru wouldn’t call himself a rule breaker, per se, but he can be–when the occasion calls for it–rather curious.

Kako never outrightly tells him not to go to Konoha General. She never speaks of Konoha General at all, really. Whenever either of them end up needing a fully trained medic, she brings them to the smaller Nohara clinic even if it’s on the other side of the village. As far as she’s concerned, Konoha General might as well not exist.

Kamaru doesn’t feel the need to borrow trouble, and so he stays away from Konoha General up until a genin runner interrupts class and gives a hushed but rushed message to Iruka-sensei… whose eyes dart directly to Kamaru.

Kamaru may want to avoid trouble, but apparently trouble has no problem going after his sister.

Kamaru knows that Kako keeps things from him. Not out of malice, of course, but because she doesn’t think he needs to know: she wants to protect him, thinks he’s not yet old enough. He trusts her, knows she only has his best interests at heart, but it can be frustrating.

It’s not a surprise, really, that the one who spills this particular secret isn’t Kako at all, but her weird senbon-obsessed senpai, Genma.

Kamaru thinks he should be angry at her–their parents are alive! Have been alive this whole time! Why didn’t she tell him sooner? Why didn’t she tell him at all–but she’s hurt and unconscious after taking on a third Soulless and she’s taking so long to wake up that any anger he does have dissipates in the face of his more overwhelming worry.

“It’s not a fair exchange,” Kamaru mutters to the door leading to the sealed off portion of the hospital–as close as visitors are allowed to get to those trapped in stasis, as close as Kamaru has been to their parents since the few weeks after he was born, “Knowing you’re here doesn’t mean anything. She needs to wake up,” he rubs at his chest, the fabric of his shirt suddenly rough against the patch of skin where his marks lay invisible, “I don’t care if you’re trapped here forever, as long as she’s okay.”


A/N: Ahahaha… haha… yeah, it’s not really “meeting” but uh… considering they went into stasis before Kamaru could talk, his first words to his parents are pretty harsh? O_O

Also, there’s only two prompts in my ask box for this event–I’ll list them under the cut so the anons who sent them in will know I am have received them. If you sent one in but neither of them are yours, then please resend them–tumblr probably ate them. Or, if you haven’t sent one in but you’d like to please go for it! I know I’ve been rather lax in the past few weeks (and will probably continue to be so for the next few what with it being May) but I do love getting prompts and I will get to them when I can. Thank you for sticking with me! 🙂

  1. anonymous: team 7 living together scenario, 22) things you said after it was over
  2. anonymous: trailblazers, 10YL, tetsuki+sasagawa sibs, 32) things you said I wouldn’t understand

(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.”

Would you ever write a fic set in the “(They Call It) Soulless” ‘verse? (Caretaker!Shikako in a universe where most people start getting soulmarks as babies, blanks are either killed as babies or monstrously consume spiritual energy/souls from everyone around (including themselves), and she discovers her younger brother Shikamaru is a blank the night their parents die. She feeds him (eventually, recycles) her own spiritual energy and hides the truth of his condition from everyone, including him.

Whoa! O_O Okay! I… did not know this ‘verse existed… let me go check that out real quick. I mean, I know about Caretaker!Shikako, but not about this particular iteration of it so… wow.

To the index page I go~~

Okay dona, I had to do some sleuthing because soulmate/soul mark stuff is no longer on the main index page since it’s become it’s own forum thread, but I thiiiink I’ve found what you’re talking about over on this index post.

Are there only the three installments? If not, uh… then this answer is only based on these three installments:



The feels! You always know how to get me with them feels, dona.

I’m gonna say yes, because it is an amazing ‘verse, and because I’ve said yes, here is your ficlet:


The first time Kako agrees to take a mission that will bring her more than a day away from Konoha (away from Kamaru) she is fourteen years old.

She is fourteen when she meets–and fights and kills–her first (real) Soulless.

The gnawing, gaping hunger claws at her even as she fights, even as she burns away at its empty vessel. It is excruciating, her teammates have fallen, screaming, the agony of their souls being torn out of them, breath into the void. She thinks, for the briefest of moments, that she might finally understand why there is a set procedure for babies without soul marks .

But she immediately bats the betrayal away, shreds it before it can take hold. It is because of Kamaru that she can pull through. The thought of Kamaru, figuratively and literally:

She cannot die out here, not when Kamaru still needs her, not when she hasn’t figured out a cure not yet.

But also the way Kamaru needs her, the manipulation of her own spiritual energy to sustain him, recycling it out and through and back in, that she can withstand what the rest of her squad cannot.

Genma-taicho bursts through the treetops, hoping for the best but expecting the worst and gets something in between.

She is fourteen years old when she earns her first service ribbon for surviving (killing) a Soulless.

It is not her last.

Genma keeps a better eye out for Kako Kinokawa after that. Guilt at first, then curiosity, then honest fondness.

Chouza-sensei was friends with her father, which in the convoluted bonds of Konoha teams, makes her something like a cousin.

A better cousin, hopefully, though considering his competition in the Nara clan… it’s not exactly difficult.

The second time goes, arguably, both worse and better.

Worse because she makes the mistake of letting it touch her. She screams.

She cares less about the nails tearing across her face and more about the way her life essence is being peeled away in vicious layers.

She kills it. (She has to)

Nobody (else) dies.

Gai’s specialty is taijutsu.

He is ineffective against Soulless.

But he was as much a student of Chouza-sensei as Genma, and just because he cannot help Kako in this matter does not mean he cannot help her at all.

The third she doesn’t remember so well.

“Severe head trauma,” the medic tells her when she wakes up in Konoha General, that stupidly familiar box with a stupidly familiar service ribbon on the night stand beside her and Kamaru curled up on the visitor’s chair, his hand gripped tight around hers.

“It must have been worse than previously reported,” the medic continues, “It took you much longer to wake up than expected. Your brother visited every day.”

Kako can only remember bits and pieces of the mission, much less the fight with the Soulless.

Spiritual energy contains memories.

The third she remembers mostly as a catalyst: she has to improve her control, it must be perfect–no, beyond perfect–she has to be able to do it unconsciously.

Jiraiya returns to the village a few months ahead of schedule.

It’s hard to follow up on rumors of Konoha’s enemies when all everyone wants to talk about is the shinobi from Konoha who specializes in killing Soulless, so he may as well meet her for himself.

Better now than later.

For one horrific, heart wrenching second, she thinks the Soulless screeching across her senses from the Forest of Death is Kamaru.

It can’t be, she tries to reason with herself, he can last so much longer now, it’s only been a few days.

A few days of exertion. Of high stress situations and jutsu use. He’d eat through the energy she gave him at a much faster rate.

No! It’s not Kamaru. It’s not. She won’t let it be

She enters the Forest of Death, Anko and ANBU on her trail, but until she locks eyes on the Soulless, she’s sickened, doesn’t know if she’ll be able to go through with it.

It’s not Kamaru. She knew it.

But Kamaru is there, too close for her comfort, frozen the way the other kiddies of Konoha are (she forgets, sometimes, that not everyone has built up the same resistance she has.)

It’s wearing the Oto headband, the soulless husks of its former teammates already collapsed around it.

She doesn’t hesitate.

Long ago, Orochimaru was just a little boy, smart and, more importantly, curious about how the world worked.

But then his parents died and instead he turned inward. Surely, there must be a better way to solve the problem of Soulless?

(Does this sound at all familiar?)

She feels bad about dragging TenTen into the fifth.

She hopes TenTen’s first service ribbon is her only service ribbon.

No one else should have to go through what Kako has.

After Tsunade is sworn in, she gets a breakdown of her forces. For genin and chuunin it’s enough to know them as rough figures per department–she’ll familiarize herself with them as needed, she doesn’t have the time to go further than that–but for those ranked higher than that, she needs to know the individuals and their specialties to effectively utilize them. Thankfully, most shinobi only get up to chuunin, and so the list of tokujou and jounin is not too long.

For the most part, the specialties are to be expected: a few medics, a few genjutsu users, some intel, some sensors.

“What is this?” Tsunade asks, finger tapping next to Kinokawa, Kako. She doesn’t recognize the symbol beside it–it might be a new one, it has been a few decades since she’s had to actually do paperwork.

Her Jounin Commander, a Nara of course, scans where she points. A furrow between his eyebrows appears then disappears, quick as a flash.

“Slayer,” Nara says, because why use a full sentence when a single word is much less troublesome? “Five Soulless,” he elaborates.

Tsunade blinks in surprise. With that context in mind, she takes a closer look. She remembers the tales her grandmother used to tell her as a child.

Not a new symbol, no.

An old one.

Konoha deals with the problem of infants-born-Soulless in the traditional, practical manner as it always has.

But there were Soulless before that.

If Kako is successful, there won’t be any after.


A/N: I kinda jumped about in places, so it’s not as coherent or cohesive a ficlet as I would like. I had a lot of different ideas tugging at me for this ‘verse and I also wasn’t sure which iteration of Caretaker!Shikako this was (like her teammates, for example, if this Kako would push so hard and graduation early with Itachi or would she hold back since she has to be able to take care of Kamaru?)

Anyway, I hope you liked it 🙂

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