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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HOLY SHIT THAT IS SUPER CREEPY AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING ON BUT I LOVE IT

A/N1: Nyehehehehe…  Part Three! 😀

Also, now with title, “Lies Beyond The Morning”

~

Something is wrong.

Shikako blinks. Dark then light.

Across the room stand three creatures, so colorful and defiant against the stark impossible room.

She doesn’t want to approach them.

They do not move and do not speak.

She doesn’t want to break them.

“What do I do now?” she asks, though she knows the not-Sai creature will not say anything.

He only smiles at her, sad and apologetic.

“Upwards and onwards,” she says, walking forward.

There is only one way to go.

If she has to spend an eternity in this strange place, she will not spend it waiting for nothing to happen.

She comes to a stop in front the three familiar creatures, not-Sai following behind her.

“I’m sorry,” she says to the creature that is not Ino, reaching out for its hands. The creature is neither warm nor cold, lifeless and empty like the room around them.

But as she pulls at its hands, its arms move. No longer is not-Ino covering its mouth.

Shikako blinks. Dark then light.

Something has changed.

In not-Ino’s eyes pale blue eyes are a matching set of thin slit pupils.

She steps sideways, in front of the creature that is not her brother. Here, she hesitates.

Under her fingers, not-Shikamaru is lifeless and empty, neither warm nor cold. But at least he’s whole.

She doesn’t want to break him again.

Sensing her hesitation, not-Sai moves, walks around these fake Ino-Shika-Cho and stands opposite from her.

Sad and apologetic, he no longer smiles.

She pulls at not-Shikamaru’s hands, its arms moves. Not-Sai nods, silent.

No longer is the creature covering its eyes.

“I’m sorry,” she says, turning away, tears forming in her eyes.

Shikako blinks. Dark then light.

Her cheeks are wet.

There is only one hand in her own.

Another step to the side, and not-Sai follows, an inky reflection defiant against the stark white room.

Between them stands not-Chouji, hands over its ears, face blank and empty and lifeless.

Nothing like the real Chouji.

She hasn’t broken him.

Not yet, anyway.

There is only one way to go. Upwards and onwards.

She takes its hands in hers and pulls until it is no longer covering its ears.

Shikako blinks. Dark then light.

Nothing changes.

The silence spreads.

“I don’t understand,” she says, looking around.

There is nothing here. Not-Sai watches her, waiting.

“What do I do now?”

“Upwards and onwards,” a voice says.

Startled, Shikako springs away.

In this strange eternal place, there are only two sounds: the noise, like gears in a machine, and her own voice.

Something is happening.

“What?” she asks, glancing around. The fake Ino-Shika-Cho have not moved.

Neither has not-Sai, who stands and waits, watching.

This is different.

“Fight,” says not Chouji. But not the not-Chouji that is silent and lifeless and empty.

“Who–?” –are you–do I fight–have I forgotten–is doing this to me–

“That old fool,” the not-not-Chouji voice says, sad and apologetic.

“Fight,” it continues, as a noise, like gears in a machine, sounds off.

The doorway appears, and not-Sai walks toward it, waving her forward.

She follows. She remembers what happened in the room with not-Sakura.

But on that first starlight step, she looks back.

Ino-Shika-Cho, unmoving, broken.

“Upwards and onwards,” the voice finishes, as the doorway seals itself shut, impossible room lost to the eternal void.

Shikako blinks. Dark then light.

Not-Sai walks ahead of her on stairs neither stone nor metal.

Something is happening. Something is wrong.

But it’s not her.

Above her the helix spirals forever, but in front they appear only a few steps ahead.

Starlight and the endless void of space.

Colorless, lifeless, silent.

It’s different, and yet…

“I’ve already been here,” she says out loud.

“This has happened to me before.”

Or near enough.

At the top step, not-Sai waits for her, sad and apologetic smile on his face.

“I understand,” she says out loud.

Not-Sai looks at her, startled.

“You’re not Sai,” she continues, catching up.

“You’re his brother.”

In front of her is an invisible wall where a doorway will appear. Beside her is a ghost.

Not-Sai… Sai’s brother fades, image changing as he does. Instead of the familiar ink dark features, she sees dimming starlight and a smile that is no longer sad or apologetic.

“Thank you,” she says as he dissipates, “Thank you for helping me this far.”

Sai’s brother nods, as kind in death as he must have been in life.

A noise, like gears in a machine.

Shikako blinks. Dark then light.

The doorway appears as well as the last impossible room.

She is not surprised by what she sees, the worst of it yet.

A tableau of her nightmares meant to break her and stop her and keep her trapped.

Across the room are two figures, frozen in time: mid battle, mid death blow. 

Sasuke as he might have been, Curse Seal fully bloomed across his skin. 

Naruto partially transformed, caustic red chakra cloaked around him.

Chidori against Rasengan.

These are not her teammates.

She walks toward them, neither move, as empty and lifeless as the room.

The corruption of natural chakra should claw at her skin, should burn in her lungs, but it does not.

Because none of this is real.

These empty creatures, this strange place. Impossible starlight and eternal voids. Ink and color like defiance.

Something is wrong.

Just not here. There is nothing for her here and so there is nothing here to be wrong.

Something is happening.

Out in the real world.

“Kotoamatsukami”

Shikako blinks. Light then dark.

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

(In)Difference (2016-06-26)

(Five Teachers Kiyoshi Might Have Had)

Utsugi Kiyoshi stands alongside Katou Dan and Mokume Kunugi and waits for their sensei to appear.

Their sensei, Shimura Danzo.

Kiyoshi tries not to scream.

She manages to hold off until she is alone, at home, a pillow pressed over her face.

Her parents think it is excitement and nerves and, well, they’re not wrong exactly.

Because any hope of not being tangled up in the story of Konoha to be has been irrevocably shot.

She’s not entirely sure what to do–just knows that she won’t stand idly by as Shimura Danzo twists Konoha on itself.

Maybe she’ll stop him or maybe she’ll help him or maybe she’ll usurp him entirely.

But she needs must do something–either that, or she’ll die trying–and isn’t that just the absolute worst of it.

~

Utsugi Kiyoshi stands alongside Katou Dan and Mokume Kunugi and waits for their sensei to appear.

Their sensei, Uchiha Kagami.

Kiyoshi doesn’t hide her confusion.

Mostly because… it doesn’t make any sense and she doesn’t know what else to feel otherwise.

An Uchiha? She doesn’t even know which Uchiha this is–if he’s at all related to the specific Uchiha that will come later.

Doesn’t know if he’ll have children and grandchildren, if he’ll live to see Itachi or Obito kill him or if he’ll be dead long before that.

What is she supposed to do? Can she do anything?

Well, at the very least, she can get accustomed to how the Sharingan works. Just in case.

Utsugi Kiyoshi stands alongside Katou Dan and Mokume Kunugi and waits for their sensei to appear.

Their sensei, Mitokado Homura.

Kiyoshi treads lightly.

She doesn’t know much about him–just that he was the Hokage’s teammate, held a place on the Council, and at some point will fall prey to Danzo whether by Sharingan or just normal human manipulation.

Either way, it’s a precarious situation. She’s not sure how any of her actions may change the future–if it will at all. For all she knows, this was meant to be and nothing she does will change anything.

For now, she’ll watch and wait. It’s what her sensei would advise, after all.

Utsugi Kiyoshi stands alongside Katou Dan and Mokume Kunugi and waits for their sensei to appear.

Their sensei, Utatane Koharu.

Kiyoshi smiles, bright and sharp.

She’s met Koharu before, during the special club from kunoichi classes. Nae-chan.

Koharu was never a Nae-chan–too noticeably skilled and part of the Utatane clan on top of that–but she had been the only kunoichi on Team Tobirama. The only kunoichi on the Sandaime Hokage’s Council, and Mito-sama’s (the Nae-chan program’s) connection to legitimacy.

She almost wants to cry because maybe this is a sign–some kind path already forged that won’t make her leave her dreams behind.

Maybe Kiyoshi will never be a Nae-chan, but she can still help, still be a part of it.

She’s not alone.

Utsugi Kiyoshi stands alongside Katou Dan and Mokume Kunugi and waits for their sensei to appear.

Their sensei, Akimichi Torifu.

Kiyoshi gives a quiet sigh of relief.

Given the jounin sensei for the other genin team in their year, she had feared the worst. But Akimichi Torifu is still a respectable choice–more than, actually, given who the genin are.

Minor clans at best, and none of them particularly prestigious at that. But the Akimichi have always been the most open of the four Noble clans, and it actually makes sense in a way.

They are no Ino-Shika-Cho, not yet–three strangers put on a team and told to risk their lives together–but if anyone could get them near to it, it would be an Akimichi.

She’s not afraid.

~

A/N: I kinda just wanted to go through potential jounin sensei for my (In)Difference team and figure out which I like best. Since I think best when I articulate by yelling or writing, I figured I ought to at least get a post out of it.

I’m leaning most towards Akimichi Torifu just because I don’t really want to plunge Kiyoshi headfirst into “does fate determine my actions” existential crisis right away and I can probably finagle the others into appearing one way or another. Also considering Homura and Kagami…

I really don’t want her to end up as Danzo’s student. And given what I have written for Koharu, she’ll have a role in the story regardless? I dunno…