Ascendant (2018-01-24)

Tobirama-sensei chooses Hiruzen and something you didn’t even know existed within you shatters.

Everything after that is just collateral damage.

The first is an accident.

Or, at least, that’s what the report will say.

A training accident, two wartime soldiers unable to readjust to peacetime sparring.

A misunderstanding, you say, still covered in your teammate’s blood. You thought it was a genjutsu, luring you into a false sense of security.

It’s not completely improbable, is the thing. Kagami is–was–the most mischievous of the now disassembled Team Tobirama, with a flare for genjutsu and tricks. A smile and bright captivating eyes that had nothing to do with the Sharingan.

An Uchiha that even the most stalwart Senju trusted.

The first is an accident.

Decades down the line, you’re not certain if that’s true anymore.

Second and third are easy, the wrong words whispered at the right time.

You are not the only one who got skipped over.

Why Hiruzen? How is he more worthy than us? Were we not all students of the Hokage?

Politics, you’ll hiss at them, a blade sliding between ribs right into their hearts.

An enticing weapon, but ultimately a trap.

Shisui’s eye is a redundancy.

Fourth bows out before you can do anything.

Torifu was there during the first, he remembers it as well as you do.

Better maybe.

He steps aside and for that you turn your attention away from him, from his clan, and their vassals.

In your last moments, you will wonder if that was your fatal mistake.

For a while, you think that is enough. Prove your worth and sweep away those in front of you, it is only a matter of time before Hiruzen’s weakness provides an opportunity.

But time does not stand still. Soon fifth through seventh arise.

Children, compared to you. Literally. Hiruzen’s students. What do they know of war? Of sacrifice? They do not have the experience.

But youth and talent–and pedigree in young Tsunade’s case–is not something so easily dismissed.

For now you can do nothing–nothing overt, at least–but they are primed to tear themselves apart.

It doesn’t take much to help that along.

Eighth, you almost regret.

He is the youngest, certainly, but you were once a child in war–surely if your sensei’s grand nephew were actually worthy, he would have survived.

Perhaps it’s the loss of the Mokuton that you regret.

The ninth was never truly a threat, a dreaming boy with no real claim.

But Konoha was built on dreams and you will not let some upstart stand in your way.

The White Fang of Konoha, a silly moniker that somehow strikes fear into enemy hearts.

As formidable on his own as Hiruzen’s brats are altogether.

No, this won’t do at all.

It is not enough for him to die, you need to destroy him utterly–his career, his reputation, his spirit.

You are ruthless with the tenth.

Every so often, you push them along–fifth and sixth and seventh succumbing to their own flaws–weaknesses that would have been exploited by enemies of Konoha.

Cowardice, fear, so quick to run away from what should be her only priority.

Obsessive and vain, so easy to distract and lead astray.

Foolish and sentimental, desperate for approval.

You are protecting your village by exposing them–what else reason could there be?

(You overreached with The Salamander, the man who titled Hiruzen’s students. You thought it would be a simple trade of services, a mutual extermination of brats.

But foreign shinobi are hardly worth the effort; the deal is dropped.

Konoha first.)

(Uzushio is a separate matter, but their lives are long and their memories longer.

Mito-sama was always biased against you.

Konoha will never be able to achieve its true potential with them forever poised above.)

Time marches on.

You uproot those you can, prune those you can’t, but they sprout like weeds beneath your feet.

That absolute infant that Hiruzen chooses may have made a name for himself during the war, but he is nothing more than dandelion fluff easily blown away in the breeze.

Konoha is better off without him.

You remember the first.

Uchiha that even the most stalwart Senju could trust.

There might as well be no more Senju, but the sentiment applies. Shisui follows in Kagami’s footsteps and the clan head’s brat has far too much potential.

You remember the first.

You remember that Konoha was built by two clans.

One is near to extinct. Surely the village can also survive without the other.

Hiruzen is old, weighed down by years and loss and having to put on the hat for a second time.

Or so he says.

You wouldn’t know, you’ve never worn it.

He is so completely unaware of all that you do for Konoha, so blind and soft. He walks amongst the villagers, a kindly, foolish grandfather instead of the unyielding pillar of strength that he should be.

He is a disgrace.

(He was your friend, once.

Now he is forever imprisoned within the belly of the Shinigami.)

(Kagami was your friend, once, too.)

Everything is just collateral damage.

~

A/N: … EURAGHRURH!! I’m disgusted with myself. But, okay, like. This is not meant to be apologetic or sympathizing for Danzo–I literally just wanted to experiment and see if I could get into his headspace and it… I dunno. Did it work? YEURGH, gross gross gross.

Brought about because of the massive hate-on for Danzo that’s going on in the discord, and the ongoing theory that he sabotaged every prospective Hokage candidate in the past fifty years. If it’s not clear who is who: 1 – Kagami Uchiha, 2 – Homura Mitokado, 3 – Koharu Utatane, and 4 – Torifu Akimichi were the other members of Team Tobirama. 5 – Tsunade, 6 – Orochimaru, 7 – Jiraiya. 8 – Nawaki (aka Tsunade’s younger brother). 9 – Dan Katou (aka Tsunade’s boyfriend). 10 – Sakumo Hatake. And then Minato who did succeed at getting the hat because his career trajectory was frankly ludicrous and too quick for Danzo to squash. And then Shisui and Itachi because those dang Uchiha.

I am not too keen on the ending (as per usual for me) given that I didn’t think I should end at the Chuunin Exams but I didn’t want to get into the whole Tsunade is Godaime and the whole constant undermining of her authority, even though I did kind of want to get to the point where Danzo dies? Should I have just stopped at the whole Uchiha it comes full circle thing? … maybe…

Arguably, if you ignore the line in the Torifu section, then this could be Naruto-canon compliant? But obviously I wrote it with DoS in mind. And I am hoping that Shikako is at least tangentially involved in Danzo’s downfall which is another reason why I didn’t go past the Chuunin Exams because… I have no idea what that downfall is going to look like. Fantastic, I assume.

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Hello! I’m prompting for DoS!Canon. The score is Ludovico Einauldi’s Primavera. The other score is the 23 minute Memoirs of a Geisha soundtrack. Thank you! Hope you have fun writing this!

So given these two songs/soundtracks are very, hm, traditionally instrumental (and, also, the fact that I’ve been reading a lot of Hikaru no Go fic lately), I’m getting a distinctly Tobirama Senju’s ghost–whether literally or figuratively–through Shikako’s life?

And also, you mentioned in our messages the idea of arch-nemesis soulmarks and how, in DoS, Shikako’s arch-nemesis would be Danzo and I kind of…

Let me try to articulate this properly.

The idea of legacies and rivals that aren’t necessarily pre-determined by fate, but marked by fate. So there’s the grander “Will of Fire” being an actual, physical mark on someone–an intangible optimism and determination passed from Hashirama to Hiruzen to Naruto–versus the more intimate mark of Dan on Tsunade to make the Medic Corps, to train Shizune, and be the kind of Hokage that he might have been.

But it’s not always what people expect.

For example, Danzo had Tobirama’s mark and thought that meant he would be Sandaime–literal inheritor/successor of the Nidaime–which is what drove is megalomaniacal desperation for the hat. Maybe instead it was supposed to be Danzo supporting Hiruzen the same way Tobirama supported his brother (the way Hiruzen actually though was happening), or maybe it was his destruction of the Uchiha clan (which a younger, more war-minded Tobirama had wanted once upon a time).

So the possibility that someone else might have the same mark isn’t necessarily a bad thing–after all, people have different goals in life perhaps different goals went to different inheritors–but it’s not very common and much less so a legacy mark from someone who died long before you were born.

Shikako having Tobirama Senju’s legacy mark is, of course, very unusual. And yet. Consider what she’s done so far: she’s a fuinjutsu master in the making, a community leader of sorts, she wields his legendary sword, she’s brokered peace with the Uchiha (sort of, in the sense that she’s prevented Sasuke from defecting) and is slated to rebuild the KMP, she’ll definitely support the next few Hokages in a way that Tobirama would have wanted (the way Danzo should have), so it’s not completely out of left field.

Obviously most everything else is the same except some people have legacy marks connecting them to people who have passed away. For example, most clan heirs are born with the mark of their clan just because that’s how it works–a continuation of the clan leadership all through the generations (which helps in the rare occasions when clan heads don’t have children because then the elders can just look for the child with the clan symbol on it and know that they’re going to be the next clan head). But not all legacy marks are there from birth: some people probably have multiple legacy marks and it’s not unusual for them to develop more as they grow.

I don’t know how the clash should go.

Danzo doesn’t immediately see her as a threat, but there must be a point where he starts to.

Unless the marks are hidden? I mean, I don’t think there’s any actual taboo surrounding legacy marks (why would there be? it’s not something private, necessarily, nor is it something to be ashamed of) but tactically it might be dangerous to so outrightly have certain legacy marks–killing the person with the Will of Fire mark would pretty easily cut the ideal line of Hokage succession.

And anyway, I enjoy the idea that Tobirama’s legacy mark is very understated. Like… given that Tobirama’s fanon summons are snow leopards, maybe it’s a few leopard spot on the forehead. It kind of just looks like bruises, really, easily hidden by bangs or headbands or BANDAGES (-_-).

So maybe it’s just that unless it’s something very obvious or very personal, people don’t necessarily know who the legacy marks are from. And unless the mark is very obviously a a symbol or a picture or a word maybe no one even knows it is a legacy mark.

Danzo knows what his is, of course, Tobirama was his sensei. But as far as Shikako and her family are concerned she just has an awkwardly placed birthmark. It’s hard to report legacy marks if they’re so ambiguous, so Danzo just doesn’t hear about the Jounin Commander’s daughter also having Tobirama Senju’s legacy mark. (And probably Danzo has been hiding his for so long that no one except people of an age with him remember what it looks like anyway).

And maybe there’s a hint of self-fulfilling prophecy in this as well.

People can share legacy marks without any conflicts–but it’s not until one party MAKES it a rivalry that it becomes one. Maybe fate decided that Danzo wasn’t properly fulfilling Tobirama’s legacy (or only fulfilling the most twisted versions of it) and so it gave Shikako the same legacy mark to correct that. If Danzo had just done it properly, there would be no need for that. Or if he had bowed out and accepted that he was already fulfilling it, then there would be no clash.

Sorry, I’m not sure if I’m conveying the idea fully or if I’m just going around in circles.

So, well, except for a few weird birthmarks on her forehead, Shikako’s life in this strange world would pretty much be the same as canon DoS. Her legacy mark wouldn’t become relevant until Danzo makes it so and given we haven’t yet seen a in person Shikako vs Danzo interaction (only his Big Brother-esque monitoring of her research on the Uchiha post-Tsukuyomi and, of course, his attempted kidnapping after the Land of Hot Springs) it could still be easily slotted into a canon plotline.

There’s just something about the Memoirs of a Geisha soundtrack in particular that makes me think it would be a good battle not between different ideologies but rival executions of the same ideology. That one ideology–in this case, Tobirama Senju’s–can be so twisted in one direction but still technically be the same as the original.

~

Check out the Ask Box Advent Calendar!

Okay you asked for prompts so you’re getting prompts: Tobirama Is Actually A Cat, part 3, reuniting with his team.

A/N: … so… I actually forgot about this ‘verse? Aaand… I also don’t remember what I had planned, either…

Which I guess just makes this a free for all for me?

Yeah, okay, let’s do this.

~

Curiosity Kills (Satisfaction Guaranteed), 3/? (2017-12-07)

(four)

Tobirama is used to having eyes on him. His appearance, when he was younger, until he could rightly earn those looks because of his abilities. The Senju’s second strongest son.

And then, after Hashirama’s death, the strongest. The Hokage.

Yes, Tobirama is used to having people’s attention–negative more than positive–and while he might never handle it as well as Hashirama did, at least he could walk tall with his head held high.

Or, at least, he used to.

Now he slinks under everyone’s gaze, ashamed at being seen so. At the fuss everyone is making over him, over mistaken sorrow–an embarrassing tale for his students to hold over him later.

“Kitty!” a high voice calls out, before Tobirama is roughly grabbed, his legs pinned to his body, awkward, bordering on painful.

Still, he does not unsheathe his claws.

“Tsunade-chan, sweetheart, put him down,” Mito says–her voice he would recognize anywhere, thick with grief as it may be. Not as if it’s the first time, anyway.

Thankfully, Tobirama is let go–somewhat reluctantly dropped–and so he indulges his brother’s granddaughter the lingering pets.

To his surprise, Mito drops to her knees–ceremony and age be damned–and runs her own hand over his head. “Oh, Tobirama,” his best friend sighs, a familiar refrain.

For a moment, he thinks everything will be okay.

Then she starts to cry.

(There is no changing back.

As far as everyone knows, he is dead.

That may as well be true.)

He is free to come and go, the guards letting him through with fond if subdued smiles–never mind that he doesn’t need permission, chakra still keyed to the gates– but he doesn’t go far.

Tobirama walks the streets of Konoha, patrolling, protective, even if he can no longer be Hokage. This is still his brother’s village. His  village, too, and even in this cursed existence he will defend her to the death.

How lucky that it appears he can do so multiple times.

Outside the Senju compound, quiet and constant, everything is in flux.

They are at war still, of course, but more than that there is internal controversy. The people have lost their leader: while field promotions may hold for the ranks of soldiers, the council is reluctant to hand leadership over to a teenager.

On top of that, there is dissension in his team–damned politics muddling his straightforward decision with talks of candidacies and clan support.

Inside the Senju compound he is a reminder of a respected relative lost.

Outside, he is a critical pawn in his own succession.

~

A/N: … didn’t get to Team Tobirama just yet, sorry, but this seemed like a good place to end part 3 even if I did cop out the whole “he can’t change back” thing.

I mean, that is the premise anyway, so going through the story of how he tries and fails would just be redundant.

~FICTIONAL POLITICS ARE THE BEST POLITICS~

This series is based on @blackkatmagic’s ’Tobirama is actually a cat: discuss

(Also, Ask Box Advent Calendar is on!)

stars also dream + headcanon

Hell yeah I’ve got a couple of background headcanons I can send your way, anon. °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°

~

They come down from the sky on a metal ship; just the two of them and their strange armored ninken.

They want to talk to the leader of the planet.

Father laughs, unsurprising. How do they not know that the world is at war–has always been at war? There are no leaders beyond clan heads and whatever shaky holds the daimyo have on the land.

Still, Father lets them stay for a time; the Senju are not called the clan with a thousand skills for nothing.

When an enemy squadron attacks, they defeat them all easily, just the two of them, with their swords made of lightning.

They leave afterwards, say they will send people in the future–to talk when the world has learned peace.

Tobirama learns that peace isn’t weakness–it’s about being strong enough to not need to fight.

///

When you are eight, you are brought in to speak to the lead teaching Jedi, as all members of your clan are. You are asked about your future plans, about what comes after being an initiate.

Every eight year old at the Temple wants to be a Jedi Knight; to be otherwise is considered a failure.

But you don’t think that’s true.

“An Archivist,” you say, because all of your clan mates have no doubt said they want to become padawans and you’re sure the lead teacher is bored of it. And plus, it’s always better to keep your options open; you’ve always been interested in Jedi traditions, and becoming a curator of them would be a contented existence. “There is still wisdom to be had from our history.”

The lead teacher nods, accepting. There is no change in expression on hir face, which you ought to have expected.

You are dismissed and so you go to the Room of a Thousand Fountains, letting the waters calm you.

You don’t become an Archivist.

///

In the Crystal Cave of Ilum’s Jedi Temple, you undergo The Gathering.

Like many padawan before you it is a test of patience, resourcefulness, and resilience.

It is painfully cold.

You don’t let that stop you.

You are searching for the kyber crystal that will be the heart of your lightsaber, there is no rushing it.

And except for the cold, you don’t think it’s such a terrible experience, the cave practically sings to you–the earth and stone more calming than even the waters of the Coruscant fountains.

When you emerge, kyber crystal in hand, Master Bant looks relieved and proud.

Your lightsaber is a comforting deep green.

~

Check out the Ask Box Author’s Cut event!

Ask Box Three Sentence Fic, 12/? (2016-11-06)

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(1 – anonymous – more 2.1, Naruto/Shikako, soulmate!AU)

Shikako has always known–even if her parents hadn’t sat her down and explained to her, she would’ve figured it out on her own, spiral seals on her skin containing nothing.

But soulmates are vulnerabilities, any shinobi’s ultimate weakness, and she won’t let herself be used against him.

Naruto learns to read from the words painted beneath long sleeves, short apologies and pleads to stay safe and little notes that make his days less awful.

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(2 – anonymous – Shikako, KHR fusion/crossover, unexpected)

The Nara clan have been predominantly Rain types–laziness just one step off from tranquility–action from strategy, strategy from logic, logic from calm.

Storm is passion, chaos and destruction, almost the opposite of Rain.

One day, Shikako will learn to balance the two–or at least, she hopes so, trying not to wince at the wreckage around her.

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(3 – @celsiahawthorn – Shikako & Tobirama, Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly Cosmic, Tobirama’s POV)

Tobirama is desperate–no more lost brothers, he prays–final gambit flowing from heart to mind to reality; he will gladly give his life and soul to the Shinigami if Hashirama and the village survive.

Shikako, thankfully, requires less than that, stepping forward, determined and prepared, shadows lashing out and carving an array of seals on the ground.

True, he is a fuinjutsu master, but so is Shikako, standing on the shoulders of giants.

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(4 – anonymous – Special Jounin crew, complaining about Shikako)

The first time Shikako gives them the slip, it skips impressive and amusing and goes straight to aggravating and requiring vengeance–morning training with Gai, enough said.

The second time, it becomes a competition that continues through the third, fourth, fifth, sixth…

By attempt thirty eight, it becomes a bitter gruelling necessity.

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(5 – anonymous – Shikako, temporary Academy teacher)

“So you’re all, what, eight?” Shikako asks the crowd of small faces staring at her, trying not to break out into hives at all the attention.

“Let’s see,” she mutters to herself, feeling the seconds slip by and the silence grow and the awkward need to fill it with something, anything, “what was I learning when I was eight?”

Needless to say, teaching eight year olds how to draw exploding tags probably wasn’t her best idea–she is never asked to substitute at the Academy ever again.

~

A/N: I have a sort of idea of what I would want a KHRxDoS fusion to be like, and I wrote a brainstorm for it, but I don’t think I’ll ever actually write it.

Post Word Count: 339, Running Word Count: 2095

Hail To The (Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly Cosmic) Queen, 4/? (2016-08-24)

(four: she who makes the crown)

She smiles. “It’s called Konohagakure,” she says, shifting her arms to show off the metal plate sewn onto her sleeve, a leaf engraved in its center.

His brother’s dream comes true…

Apparently, Tobirama has work to do.

He doesn’t do it alone.

It’s a different world, this time period (she would know, after all.) There’s a sense of division that she’s unused to. Konoha as she’s grown up in has always encouraged teamwork: the many and diverse banding together to make a stronger force.

She explains it to Tobirama who doesn’t look so much scornful as he does honestly baffled. Subtly, of course–he’s not one for overactive facial expressions–but she is Shikamaru’s sister, was on a team with Sasuke and Kakashi-sensei. She’s a lot better at reading emotions than she used to be.

The Akimichi-Nara-Yamanaka alliance, though, has always been older than Konoha and this at least Tobirama understands. Can see why a Nara girl would feel a certain way about complementary skills building up to a greater whole.

But it’s one thing to see centuries of servitude turned fealty turned alliance, it’s another for clans actively at war to put down their weapons and live together in peace.

One day, she promises him, one day it will happen. After all, she’s living proof of it.

Shikako never does meet Hashirama–an active decision on her part. The dance between him and Madara not something she wants to interrupt (corrupt).

But she does meet Mito–and that’s a lot more fun, she thinks. Maybe it’s an Uzumaki trait, or maybe it’s just coincidence, but Mito is friendly, gregarious, and ridiculously powerful.

She also admires Shikako’s tattoos the same way Ino would particularly beautiful kimono.

“And this one?” Mito asks, a finger tracing down Shikako’s arm. Tobirama has been listening with exasperation to Mito’s squeals of delight–as if he hadn’t been equally curious about her seals when they first met, too.

“Resistance seals,” Shikako answers, pulling her sleeves up higher to show the rest of the sequence, “Better than weights and easier to use.”

Mito nods, analyzing the arrangement eagerly, and Shikako smiles when Tobirama gets drawn into the discussion.

There’s something about them. They may not be Hashirama and Madara (Naruto and Sasuke) but they are heroes in their own right.

Team Tobirama is, frankly, bizarre for her to interact with. Mostly because she actually remembers meeting most of them when they’re well into their years. The Hokage, Konoha Councilors; even Torifu she met before at Chouji’s birthday parties–a well-liked Akimichi elder with a tolerant fondness for quiet Nara children.

These kids her age are nothing like the septuagenarians she remembers.

Especially not Danzo who looks nothing like the bitter sociopath Shikako knows he will become.

There are some things she tells Tobirama–she’ll give him clues about jutsu and techniques, show him a completed Sword of the Thunder God, even offer tidbits about her friends and their village–but even more she keeps secret. This is one of those things.

But she makes sure to guide him in the right direction. The right successor.

Tobirama gets to live to see his grand-niece, a loud and happy girl who the village calls princess.

Shikako tries not to laugh.

Being intimidated by the Godaime Hokage Tsunade-sama–one of the Sannin, legendary shinobi, miraculous healer–is one thing. Being intimidated by Tsuna-chan who loves candy and playing games is another.

She tries to keep the two separate in her head, honestly, but it’s hard when little Tsuna-chan is especially fond of extracting sweets out her grand-uncle’s team by any means necessary. As ruthless and imperious as the woman Shikako knows will rule the village well.

Until then, she makes sure to keep a stock of Tsuna-chan’s favorite candy in Hammerspace–maybe Tsunade-sama won’t remember this, but better safe than sorry.

Tobirama’s life plays before her in fits and bursts, like a glitchy recording playing only parts of a song. She appears sometimes, but not always, remains the same age during each summoning as if no time passes for her at all.

But that’s not true.

It’s been a long time since she’s been home–her Konoha with her people.

The villagers of now are growing suspicious and it doesn’t matter that the ones closest to her are highest up in the hierarchy of Konoha–or perhaps that makes it worse.

She is only ever seen around the Nidaime Hokage or his heirs apparent. How long has she been manipulating the heart of the village? How long has she been pulling the strings?

A seemingly immortal girl who the Nara do not know, who has made changes to a destiny they will never even see.

“Don’t mind them,” Tobirama says once, a large hand landing gently on her shoulder for the briefest of moments. She remembers when he first summoned her–he had been shorter than her, smaller and younger–still as reluctant to initiate physical contact. “You have done more for this village than any of them, and one day they will know it.”

She doesn’t scoff, doesn’t pull away, but she doesn’t quite believe him either.

This is a different world, after all, and it’s been a long time since she’s been home.

Tobirama does not die fighting Cloud nin, but all men must die eventually.

As he breathes his last breath, she tells him one last time, “You always were my favorite Hokage.”

He smiles, and she smiles back. He closes his eyes, she closes hers.

Neither of them see the next day’s sunrise.

Shikako opens her eyes to an unimpressed Senju Hokage and tries not to laugh, images of Tsuna-chan warring with Tsunade-sama.

“I can no longer be bribed with candy,” the Godaime Hokage says, almost solemnly.

Shikako fails, laughs, and gives herself a coughing fit. If there are tears, well, that’s perfectly understandable.

“You’ve been missed, Shikako-nee,” says the little girl who trailed after Team Tobirama. A brief and gentle pat to the shoulder, before she leaves, letting the other medics handle the ICU’s most frequent patient.

Visitors are allowed in not long after, her friends and family–her Konoha with her people. For all that she’s been missing home, when the room empties, she finds herself thinking of that different world she left behind. Like Dorothy coming back to Kansas, dreaming of technicolor Oz.

One day they will know, Tobirama had said, had promised.

It’ll be decades before she understands what he meant, looking out at the village they helped build together while his grand-niece gives her the Hokage’s hat.

~

A/N: I probably didn’t convey quite the feelings I wanted to, but I hope it’s still enjoyable. A bit of a mini-crossover: a Hail To The Queen installment in the Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly Cosmic universe.

I still don’t quite know what’s going on, actually, or why Shikako’s stuck but I thought it’d be interesting if Tobirama sort of gives her a gift decades into the future. And by gift, I mean names her successor to the hat.

Reshuffle the Deck: Or, Five Genin Teams Shikako Wasn’t On (2016-08-15)

Four of a Kind

(The Ino-Shika-Cho is a good combination, but it’s never good to let genin teams become predictable–it makes them vulnerable to enemy action, and considering who makes up the roster of this year’s new genin? Vulnerability is to be avoided at all cost.

The idea behind the trio is still sound, shouldn’t be abandoned completely, and so the Hokage and Academy teachers build the new teams with that in mind.

It’s not their fault that it completely throws off a good chunk of her foreknowledge.)

“This is…” Shikako says, words drifting off to look at her two teammates.

“Uh, sensei?” Ino picks up, immediately “I think you’ve gotten it wrong–it’s Ino-Shika-Cho, not Ino-Shika-Inu.”

Akamaru barks, Kiba does too. “What you’ve got a problem with dogs?” Smirk easily changeable into baring of teeth.

“Only the ones that haven’t bathed in three days,” Ino says, sharp smile of her own, “Aren’t you supposed to have a good sense of smell?”

Shikako cuts in, brings the tension down but adds to the teasing as well. “Not all of us can smell like a flower shop all the time, Ino.”

(With a steady jounin sensei and normal missions, they would have become strong, solid shinobi in a few years.

With Anko as their sensei, in a matter of months they become the first genin team with the bingo book orders Flee On Sight)

Full House [of Queens]

“They didn’t even try for subtle, did they?” Shikako asks Kurenai-sensei, mouth an opposite slant to her raised eyebrow.

Her jounin sensei shrugs, “You could argue that’s what this entire team is for–given the tenets of kunoichi and all that.”

“Don’t you think this will be fun, Shikako?” Sakura asks, stars in her eyes–the disappointment at not being on the same team as Sasuke quickly passing at the excitement of being on a team with her two best friends.

“And anyway,” Ino adds, “Who needs a bunch of boys messing up our missions?”

(Despite the tenets of kunoichi, their team does not maintain subtlety for too long. Oh, their missions succeed, no doubt about that, and they’re never actually caught; but rumors of a group of girls capable of slipping in unnoticed and completely destroying any opposition spreads.

They become known as the Three Beauties of Konoha, though mostly, all enemies can remember about them is the color of their hair and the scent of fresh flowers)

“Someone asked me to punch them today,” Sakura says to her teammates, bemused.

Although the three of them have long since been promoted from genin, they tend to team up with each other regardless. Why mess with success?

“Oh, yeah?” Shikako adds absentmindedly, writing in one of her eternally present journals even as Ino begins to pull it away, “Me, too, a couple of days ago.”

“Did you?” Sakura asks, watching in amusement as Ino and Shikako begin playing tug of war with the journal.

“Yeah, he wouldn’t leave me alone until I did and by that point he was being so annoying it was a relief to do it.”

“I made mine pay for it,” Ino says, to which both of her teammates look up at her smug face in confusion. Pulling the journal from Shikako’s slack hands is easy; her expression only becomes more pleased. “He clearly wanted it for some reason, and why do something for free when you can get paid for it?”

“And?” Sakura prompts, while Shikako bemoans her lack of initiative.

“It bought me a new dress,” Ino brags. And because she’s always a well of information, she explains to her teammates. “Apparently there’s some kind of superstition going around that if someone gets punched by all three of us they get good luck.”

Two Pair

(She pulls back too late. The teachers have already spotted her talent; genius, prodigy, legend-in-the-making they murmur to each other. She gets accelerated, graduates among students several years older than herself.

When her genin team is called, she swallows down bile.)

“Shikako-chan,” Kabuto says, mild smile on his face. All of his smiles are mild, she wants to punch him in the face.

“Yes?” She chirps back, slipping into her role of over-eager kouhai. She’ll admit he knows an awful lot of tricks that’ll be useful in the future.

Let him think he’s converting the Jounin Commander’s daughter, she’ll feed him lies and bleed him dry.

“You’re always so curious,” he says, ever so patronizing, “it’s a good thing to have in a student.”

“Well, you’re a good teacher,” she says back–always flattering, always sweet–she needs to appear as a book smart genius, not an actual threat.

“It’s not so much a virtue when it comes to espionage,” Kabuto amends, voice still pleasant but suddenly sharp and deadly.

She can feel the blood freeze in her veins. Literally.

“W-what are you talking about, Kabuto-senpai?” she chokes out through the clawing in her throat, her rapidly stiffening lungs.

“Don’t worry,” he says as her vision goes blurry, then dark, “It’s time for you to get a real teacher.”

(When she wakes up, she’s almost relieved to see Orochimaru’s face.

Better him than Danzo, she thinks even as the abomination of mutated natural chakra burns through her. The Curse Seal.

Kabuto won’t need to convert her if a piece of Orochimaru is literally looking over her shoulder.)

Straight

The night of graduation, Shikako faints while walking up the stairs.

It’s also the first time the Kyuubi’s malevolent chakra has been felt in over a decade.

The two events are not unrelated.

Needless to say, Shikaku will not be having his daughter on the same team as someone whose chakra can render her unconscious. He knows the Academy teachers think he is just pulling rank, getting his child off a team with That Monster, but Shikaku’s always been more practical than that: it’d be like having someone allergic to dogs on the same team as an Inuzuka, illogical and troublesome.

And anyway, he remembers Kushina and Mito-sama before that, neither of them were monsters. How could their legacy ever be one?

(Shikako looks at her teammates and feels nothing but conflicted, guilty relief.

A part of her had wanted to be on a more integral team, to better alter the course of future events. But another part of her had always been afraid of taking on such a daunting task.

Better to be on a team with these two–childhood bullies though they may be–than, god forbid, Naruto and Sasuke. She’d constantly be in the crossfire of powerhouses, pushed further and further to a breaking point that she doesn’t know where it will lead.

Jiro and Youbirin are blank slates as far as she’s concerned. She doesn’t need to worry about them, doesn’t need to watch over their destinies. They could die for all she knows, and plotwise it’d still lead to a good ending.)

“Fuck!” She shouts, turning to her fallen teammate who has crumpled to the forest floor. Youbirin gives a bloody cough in response, hands shakily going for the sword through his chest. “Jiro get over here!”

“I’m a little busy!” He shouts back, sending a bolt of lightning towards his opponent before retreating. They’re fighting Rock nin, with an Earth Pillar it becomes useless.

“I can’t heal this on my own,” Shikako says, hands futilely glowing green anyway. “Why would you do that? You could probably heal something like this.”

Youbirin gives another wet cough.

“Don’t die, please,” she begs, “You matter to me, don’t die, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it, don’t die, don’t die,” she chants, hoping and pushing herself to her limits.

That’s the problem with genin teammates–they’ll always be important, no matter who they are.

Royal Flush

(On the one hand, traveling through time to meet the Nidaime Hokage is pretty cool. Getting to compare fuinjutsu notes with him is practically a dream come true.

Somehow being stuck randomly appearing at various points in his life? She’d rather not.

But, well, there’s a silver lining to everything.

She just has to find this one.)

Team Tobirama is a seven person team.

Except for when it’s an eight person team.

Tobirama-sensei only briefly introduces the girl before they’re off on what will undoubtedly be a difficult mission.

Cloud shinobi. It won’t be anything but difficult.

She’s a stranger and it shows, their team falling into the familiar grouping–Kagami, Danzo, Torifu and Hiruzen, Homura, Koharu–while sensei single-handedly destroys his own opponents. It leaves her alone, and for a moment Kagami worries, before he realizes that she’s holding her own.

More than, even.

(The Kinkaku Force should have overpowered them, forced the genin to flee while their sensei sacrifices himself.

Eight instead of seven.

Nobody dies that day. The hat does not get passed on quite yet)

She’s not a permanent member of their team, which confuses Kagami because as far as he can tell she’s not on any other team either.

“I don’t recognize her,” Torifu says in a hush, which is especially worrying. It’s not an admission, it’s a clue: if Torifu can’t recognize someone wearing Nara sigils, something is going on.

“She keeps staring at me,” Danzo adds, before his face flushes with a sudden realization, “Not–not like that!” he says, embarrassed, while Kagami and Torifu share a smirk.

“She is rather pretty,” Kagami teases, Torifu nodding in solemn agreement, because an opportunity to fluster Danzo is always something to take advantage of. And besides, it’s not as if they don’t trust her–Tobirama-sensei trusts her, and more besides she’s risked her life alongside them–but this is a mystery that needs solving.

(They never do figure it out.)

~

A/N: A little late but still respectable, I think. Also it’s not really my fault since tumblr appears to be having technical trouble–is that everyone or is it just me? I do have somewhat sporadic wi-fi right now.

I’ll try to meet the midnight deadline properly tonight, anyway.

So the first two are from a conversation I had with @unfortunatehatlessness, the third one was just a haunting idea I had–though, highly influenced by @donapoetrypassion’s In Which Someone Attempts To Kidnap Shikamaru, Instead. Fourth is the anonymously prompted AU of @kuipernebula’s and mine Team Medic!AU (uh, sorry for the bleak ending on that one, it works out okay in the end?) And fifth is kiiinda a response to Linnypants’ comment on ao3 about Shikako’s POV of my Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly Cosmic ficlet.

Wow, okay, that’s a pretty impressive sweep if I do say so myself 😀 Also, happy belated birthday to myself.

I’ll post this to ao3 in a bit