iron will, firenation au, things you said too quietly

Iron Will, Fire Nation!Tetsuki AU, 3) things you said too quietly

June waits until the moon is high in the sky, night gone nearly silent, only the crackling and popping of their fire and Tetsuki’s soft, childish snores sounding through their camp. Father isn’t staring into the fire–he would never be so foolish as to ruin his night vision like that–but he’s definitely keeping his gaze away from her younger sister’s sleeping form.

June waits before she brings up the matter of the letter, “You can’t really mean to give her to them, do you?” she asks, more challenge than anything else. June is older enough than Tetsuki that she remembers Mother, remembers the way her face would go pinched and unhappy whenever she spoke of her parents. As far as June knows, her maternal grandparents are awful people. Tetsuki knows even less.

Tetsuki doesn’t even know where they’re going.

Father’s mouth thins into a flat line, perhaps remembering Mother’s displeasure at her family, perhaps just irritated at June questioning him, “Would you rather I give them you?” he responds, as much assessing as it is punishing.

If June were volunteering to take Tetsuki’s place, Father would let her, but neither of them want her to: Father reluctant to lose his trained apprentice, June unwilling to lose her freedom. Tetsuki is too young to know any better.

Maybe that’s just an excuse.

June grits her teeth, doesn’t answer, the pause was answer enough. But still she persists, “Why give in at all? We don’t owe them anything. Mother left them for a reason, they disowned her. She hated them!” Her shout rings through their camp, loud and almost repulsive in the night. Both June and Father glance over at Tetsuki, waiting, watching, but she remains asleep.

“They’re still your family,” Father says finally. Unhelpfully, “Your mother didn’t hate them,” he adds nothing else.

June can feel her face heat, and she struggles to keep it–rage or tears–down. “We could just ignore the letter, keep going on as we have. We could stay together,” it sounds more plaintive than she means to, Father won’t respond to this kind of weakness. June needs to be stronger.

Father is silent for long enough that June thinks he’s dismissed the conversation. She rises to ready her bedroll, as near to her little sister as she can stand–Tetsuki is at the age where she kicks in her sleep, never still even unconscious–they only have a few more nights before they arrive at Mother’s ancestral home.

June only has a few more nights with her sister.

“They’ll take care of her,” Father says belatedly.

June wants to bite back–we’ll take care of her–but the tone of his voice makes her hold.

“Your mother and I,” Father starts, and June can’t help but listen intently, “Who needed a home when we had each other? Even on the road, you were raised with love.”

What does this have to do with Tetsuki, June wants to ask, but doesn’t.

Unbidden, Father answers. “They’ll take care of her,” he repeats, still not looking at Tetsuki. Inanely, June thinks the night suddenly feels cold.

“The road alone is not enough for a child.”

~

A/N: The implication being that Tetsuki’s backstory is always sad. But at least June loved her! … but June is still only a child herself at this point 😦

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Shikako’s Guide to Delinquency and Military Insurrection: Really, Danzo had this coming.

Shikako Nara’s Guide To Delinquency and Military Insurrection

(Rule Four: No place is invulnerable. Keep your guard up, even at home.)

The sky has turned dark, the view from the tower’s top now of your village in its nighttime wear. The lights of businesses and houses twinkling bright, people overly loud as they go from restaurants to bars, interrupting the tranquility.

Disorderly.

Despicable.

This lack of discipline is what Hiruzen has allowed to fester Konoha. Weakness. No longer. You will have to make changes. Curfews and and harsher penalties.

You turn away from the window, the sight of your village still so tainted sickens you, enrages you, and so you must look away. But as you turn, you think you see a face in the glass. Behind you?

No, you dart a glance through your office, only your ROOT guards–all under chameleon jutsu and masked besides. When you turn back the face is gone.

Only a reflection, surely.

You put the thought from your mind, put the hat back on–though the veils often limit your peripheral vision and there is no one significant to see. You have much to do in order to make your village great again.

Nothing can stop you now.

The second time, night again, you are waiting for one of your teams to come back and report.

They are only ANBU, not ROOT, and while you were not expecting much, you are disgusted by how long it is taking them.

It should not be this difficult to apprehend one child, jinchuuriki status or not.

Another matter you must correct, Hiruzen’s indulgence of the creature. It should have been handled and trained properly from the start–even the strongest of weapons can rust from poor handling–but instead that foolish monkey had it pretending at a normal life. As if a jinchuuriki could ever be normal.

One of the proximity sensors sounds off, the ANBU team returning, finally, but when they appear…

“Where is the boy?” you ask, the sheer incompetence of these agents causing you to bite the words out, irritated. The four ANBU stand in front of you in various states of bruised and battered, filthy, not even bearing a single blonde hair from the creature.

They shuffle silently, nervously, uselessly in front of you before the captain utters, “He disappeared. We lost him in the sewers.”

“It was as if the shadows just swallowed him whole!” one of the others says inanely, before hunching down from the sharp glance of their captain.

If this is the quality of ANBU that Hiruzen’s administration produced, then it is no wonder that all their nukenin have been walking the Elemental Nations unharmed.

Displeased, you activate the seals on their arms, watch as they try not to scream, grip futilely at themselves before dropping to the floor of your office. A modification of the old design, incorporating what you could reverse engineer of the Hyuuga’s Caged Bird.

You summon another team–ROOT this time, though lately they’re running thin on the ground which is why you had to resort to standard ANBU to begin with–have them remove the bodies and assign them the incomplete mission.

For ROOT agents there is only success or death.

The jinchuuriki is never found.

You are running out of ROOT agents.

The village, frail from decades of mismanagement, crumbles under your steady hand.

This is not how your tenure as Hokage is meant to go.

You are returning to your office after dealing with Yuuhi’s idiocy–the man is too used to dealing with genin, clearly unable to handle the role of jounin commander as he always claimed he could–when you stop just inside the doorway.

Someone is in your seat.

Someone is in your seat, feet propped up on your desk, looking for all the world like she belongs there and not like she is committing the highest form of disrespect and treason.

“Guards!” you yell, and the fact that you must call for them just compounds the sheer frustration of this situation. Four masked and hooded ANBU appear.

They do nothing else.

“Seize her!” you add, enraged that you must instruct them on this most obvious order.

They turn towards you, instead.

It is at this point you realize you do not sense either ROOT or the updated ANBU seals on them. It is at this point you realize your shadow is stretching far longer than it should. It is at this point you realize you cannot move.

You realize all this too late.

The door slams shut behind you, a second shadow tendril snaking past you and returning to the girl.

The girl who casually removes her feet from your desk, gets up from your seat, and saunters around so she is standing in the center of your office, in the center of the four masked shinobi who are not yours.

The masks come off.

Still you cannot move.

“Honestly,” says the girl, “what were you expecting?”

~

A/N: … ugh, writing from Danzo’s POV is the worst. But also, like, I could not think of any other way to fill this prompt, lionhead. It’s a little bit spin-off-y of Ascendant, though not necessary. Just the sheer delusion of a man who has gotten what he wants and still can’t understand why things aren’t going the way he planned. :/

Anyway, hope you enjoyed!

Ask Box Advent Calendar is now open!

(seriously, i’ve got nothing in my ask box. I might start cross posting brainstorms onto ao3–for safety reasons–so if there’s any old brainstorm (like from all of the ask box fake fic titles event) that you want to, er, re-prompt in some way, they’re open season too)

Shikako finds herself in the perfect moment to quote Conan the Barbarian on the best things in life. The real question is, should she take it?

The first time is during a mission with Red Team, a lull in their stake out as they wait for their target to appear. It pops into her mind as soon as Towa mentions the best place to buy senbon, how nothing could compare to the feel of well-crafted steel under his fingers. Komachi retorts with the superiority of kunai, the best weapon. Even Hawk-taicho joins in, in support of shuriken of course.

Shikako wants very badly to say it. That the best thing in life isn’t weapons but what you do with them.

But the conversation has moved past the point where it would make even the slightest bit of sense, and even then maybe only Sasuke would find it amusing. Which is the problem, of course: to quote a fictional hero from another world is such a Shikako trait, not a Bat trait, that she has to resist.

But still, it’s tempting.

Another opportunity comes much later, weeks and months, the fleeting thought long forgotten. It happens while she and a chuunin from Intel on a simple dead drop retrieval in Land of Tea.

Somehow they get involved in the internal conflicts of the Wagurashi Family.

It’s not too bad, really, Shikako doesn’t know what her mission partner is so worried about. There aren’t any enemy nin involved. The Wasabi Family is even being respectfully uninvolved, even though this would be the best time for them to strike and establish themselves as the reigning Family. Annoyingly, this does mean it’s mostly diplomacy rather than any action, but she’s not so far gone that she’d rather start a civil war just to get out of talking to strangers.

The Wagurashi Family boss is old, deciding between her three successors, and it is during this series of tests that the moment arrives, an almost perfect.

But to say it out loud would be too aggressive during a time when she is representing Konoha’s stance of peace, and to say it quietly would be a waste because her chuunin partner already thinks she’s weird. Aoba wouldn’t have understood it, but he probably would have appreciated it.

Shikako lets the moment pass.

They are at war and it isn’t funny at all. It is too accurate and harsh to be funny.

She says nothing.

Shikako slouches languidly, legs stretched out, propped at such an angle that she can lean casually on the railing of the Academy rooftop.

Ah, memories.

The three tiny graduates in front of her fidget mostly with nerves–the one she’ll come to fondly call Stabby fidgets with impatience–and Shikako decides to put them out of their misery.

“What is best in life?” she asks.

This year’s top rookie, who she’ll later refer to as Punchy, tries to answer philosophically, as if this were an additional test. But that’s for tomorrow, of course.

Stabby waxes poetic about senbon and kunai and shuriken in an echo of a long ago conversation behind masks.

The third graduate, Bitey, babbles on about fuinjutsu in fits and bursts, a boy after her own heart, but in this particular moment he is incorrect. If Shikako is really going to take on a team of genin, they need to know what kind of jounin sensei they’re getting. Bizarre, unknowable references and all.

She shakes her head, “What’s best in life is…”

Sometimes the perfect moment comes and goes, but other times you can make your own opportunities.

~

A/N: I’ve actually never seen Conan the Barbarian, so I did have to look this up, but I did recognize the quote which just impresses how prevalent it is in culture.

I couldn’t seem to land on a tone–not entirely serious, but not entirely silly either–but I hope it isn’t too off-putting, anon. Also, now presenting Shikako’s adorable little genin: Punchy, Stabby, and Bitey. I may come up with more details for them at a later time if anyone’s interested.

Ask Box Advent Calendar is now open!

(EDIT: ahhhh, I meant to queue this for tomorrow, December 2! … oh well. DOUBLE POST TODAY!)

Untitled Ficlets (2018-11-27)

“It’s not a storm,” she says, trying to cut through all the arguing. The council members are far too busy trying to outsmart each other to focus on the reason why this emergency meeting was called in the first place, the actual problem.

“It’s a ship. A flying ship, the size of a mountain,” she says, lips pressed together in a tight frown. She knows what she sounds like. Madness. A flying ship the size of mountain, so dark and swift as to look like an oncoming storm.

Most of the councilors that do hear her scoff at the idea, and she would too if it were any less serious.

Storms are forces of nature, they happen and humans must endure then rebuild. But this monstrosity encroaching on their nation is worse than that. The damage will be deliberate and devastating.

“It’s an invasion.”

“I’m sorry it’s you,” Thomas says, voice weak, grip weaker.

Darren grunts in response, tries not to let it get to him, keeps his own grip firm as if something in their clasped hands will improve the situation. As if some of Darren’s own strength will flow from himself into Thomas by sheer force of will.

“I’m sorry you’re here,” Thomas says again, tweaked slightly but essentially the same.

Darren understands. He’s no one’s first choice for comfort, clearly. He can barely muster any kindness for the one he loves at the end of his life. He understands, but that doesn’t mean it hurts any less.

“I’m sorry you have to see this,” Thomas says a third time, but it doesn’t seem to match, “But I’m too selfish to tell you to go.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Darren assures him quickly, raising their joint hands to press Thomas’ cold hand to his face. He wants to hope, he wants Thomas to mean something else than what Darren has been dreading.

“I don’t want this to be how you remember me, okay? Don’t remember me like this, Darren.” Thomas’ voice has started to slur, a whispery whoosh of dying breath.

“Thomas. Thomas?”

~

A/N: Get those prompts ready–clearly I need the help!–because it’s gonna be December soon which means the free-for-all Ask Box Advent Calendar 😀

Word Prompts (K5): Kiss

Edmundo leans back, away from their kiss. It is reluctant, yes, but still a retreat. Their faces are still close enough that they can share breaths, but the distance means no contact. No heat.

“You’re one of those heroes now,” he says in the scant space between them, near to a whisper, though it’s hardly needed. Beyond the thin walls of the office space, the garage is in operation, the sounds of machines and their mechanics echoing back and forth.

She shrugs in response, tips her hand back and forth. Hero-adjacent would be a pithy, but accurate, response; she’s just not sure it would come out right.

“It’s different than what you were doing before,” he says, leaning even further back which isn’t what she wants at all! But he takes her hands in his and that’s an okay consolation prize, she supposes. “Protecting your block from pendejos is one thing, but you’re on the news now. You’re in bright spandex and everything.”

She crinkles her nose in protest: she doesn’t wear spandex. She just wears normal clothes. It’s not her fault her powers manifests as flowing green lights.

“No, no, you’re right. I’m getting off track,” he says, smoothing his thumbs over the back of her hands. It’s rough and a patch of black smears across her skin, but it’s warm. She likes it.

From the way she thinks this conversation is going, she’s going to miss it.

“You’ll always have a home here,” Edmundo says, and when he leans in, he presses his forehead to hers in a deliberately chaste way, “But you’re outgrowing us, and I can’t keep you chained down.”

She can’t say he’s wrong.

She doesn’t try to kiss him again–they’ve already had their final goodbye kiss, even if she didn’t know it for what it was at the time. But if she tightens her return grip, hoping to press the shape of her hands into his, well. He doesn’t say anything about that, at least.

She kisses Maya because she loves her and, also, Tetsuki might very well never see her again–either because they will be separated on opposite sides of an inter planar barrier or Tetsuki will be dead.

Maya kisses back because she loves Tetsuki, too… but perhaps isn’t sure in what way she loves Tetsuki and thinks that kissing might help her figure it out. And also because, even though Tetsuki isn’t saying it out loud, Maya is more than aware that her best friend may very well die and she doesn’t want to be a last regret in any way.

It is a lot of emotions and concepts for their first, hesitant kiss to convey.

Luckily, it is not also a last and only kiss, and they greatly improve their communication via kisses in the future.

There is no kissing between them. For many reasons, really.

Mainly because intimacy and vulnerability are not luxuries either of them can afford.

Tetsuki has been experimenting with wearing hound-snake venom atop wax coated lips. Azula can literally breathe fire.

And depending on which timeline they’re in, they may be trying to kill each other.

So, no. No kissing for them.

The first kiss of Team Two actually happens between Naruto and Komadori.

Tetsuki does’t understand what’s so embarrassing about it but, then again, as mentioned, she wasn’t actually involved so…

She promises to talk about that mission only once a year at most.

Tetsuki is dripping with river water, mildly concussed, and high off the wave of endorphins that is surviving an apocalyptic, dystopian future when she kisses Kusakabe-senpai for the first time.

Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t scare him off.

~

A/N: A sort of reverse tag of this ficlet.

Word Prompts (W8): Warmth

She began cold, drawing blankets and coats to herself, scarves and spare scraps of cloth tucked into any openings left. She began cold, in a stone cave damp and miserable, the night air harsh and haunting.

She began cold, waiting to heal enough to move–though whether she meant to retreat or proceed, survival by cowardice or honor in action, she could not decide. Could barely consider, really, as she was mourning and in shock and scavenging through the caravan for anything that might help.

She began cold and woke up on fire, feverish and burning alive. No doubt cooking herself by accident, a horrific death on an already horrible day. Her muscles could barely move, she had nested too well, and it took her an excruciating while before she could claw her way out, press her face to the now soothing stone of the cave, lip idly at the trickles of water, cool and sweet.

It took her another half day to find an equilibrium, head muddled as it was, protected but not roasting, and another slow, plodding two days after that to gather and prioritize supplies for a lone girl miles and miles from the nearest civilization.

She does not know what fate may befall her ahead, only that to remain here would be certain death.

“Shh, shh, it will all be okay” she murmurs, hushing soothing sounds, clutching the both of them to her sides. She tries to be confident, to put up a brave front so that her cousins do not catch on, but there is no concealing the trembling of her arms, the hitching of her breath.

They are braver than her, it seems, for they do not respond with anything but solemn nods and a tighter embraces.

Outside their chosen hiding place, the hound paces, its snout peeking in and sniffing deeply. It barks to its fellows, the harsh sound echoed in multiple, the percussion of horse hoofbeats and the voices of men following all the more fearsome.

“Shh, shh,” she can only dumbly repeated, her voice cracking and tears beginning to fall.

“Can we pray to the Moon Mother?” asks Takay, sweet and petal soft.

“Of course,” she replies, as steadily as she can. It might be little comfort at the end of their lives, but for such a gruesome demise as this, surely any comfort is worth it.

Bulan, silent but no less sweet on her other side, helps her shaking hands reach for her beads.

“Moon Mother,” she begins, her cousins parroting the prayer as best as they can remember, “Who watches over us in the sky, casting light upon our dark nights. We pray to thee.”

There are now multiple hounds sniffing at the crevasse, barking madly with bloodlust.

“Moon Mother,” she continues, even as Takay and Bulan cannot, their faces shoved into her ribs, seeking whatever cover or comfort she has left to give, “Who sits amongst the stars, guiding us forever forward to our peace. We pray to–”

A high pitched yelp interrupts the chorus of barking outside, and soon the hounds sound less enraged and more confused. Scared.

She realizes that the hoofbeats and sounds of men have not come any closer. Have ceased entirely. Another high pitched yelp and soon the dogs are retreating, no longer harrying the opening of their hiding place.

Soon after, the forest is deafening in its silence.

Takay and Bulan pull away from her. Their hands still cling to her clothes, but they lean forward now, curiosity outweighing their fear.

A single boot steps into the visible triangle of the forest that they can see. Filthy and worn, but hardy it seems. Beside it drops the end of a staff, which taps twice against their hiding spot.

“I will not stay,” says the figure who has saved them, the voice gruff with what might be disuse. Their savior crouches down, body swathed and obscured by fabric, but unmistakeable as a human woman. “But you are safe for now.”

Ode to 11010201 Redux, Traditions Torn (2018-11-20)

There were an odd number of candidates at the trials.

Normally, this mattered not. Quantity of candidates were less important than quality, and only the best and brightest could join the Premier Witch Council.

But for this particular set of trials, the fact that there were an odd number of candidates was not just surprising but also worrying:

On the full moon after the Premier Gemini Witches died, trials were held to find a new pair of luminaries to replace them.

One candidate had come alone.

“I know what they think of me,” Candidate Chacone says during the final trial, “I know what they said.”

The eleven luminaries remain silent, observing. Judging.

“They think I’ve done something to her, a diabolical thing. Then mutilated myself for more power. An abomination of a Gemini witch.”

Still the luminaries say nothing.

“But she was the one that slammed a wall between us. She’s the one that left me alone, screaming!" 

Some of the younger luminaries at the ends flinch at her tone, but the Premier Taurus Witch at her place in the center merely holds up her hand, settles them.

"My magic wants desperately to harmonize and all I had were the shrieking echoes of myself.”

~

~

For seven hours and thirty one minutes, Luminary Chacone headed the largest, most successful coven in history.

If the knowledge had stayed within their secret half world of magic and marvels, then it would have been a triumph. 

As it is, Luminary Chacone’s actions have brought unwanted attention from the shadowy government organization known as SHIELD.

The magician doesn’t look like anything special, Maria thinks on the opposite side of the glass. Nothing like Loki–grand robes and staff and regal demeanor–but perhaps that had more to do with his alien heritage than his magic.

If Maria had passed by this magician on the street, she wouldn’t even turn around. The magician looks absolutely normal. Absolutely human.

The magician waits, patiently, silently, as she has done since agents escorted her here. No demands for explanations. No pleads to go back. No questions.

How alarming.

This should Coulson’s job. For all that SHIELD is still cleaning up the literal alien invasion, this feels like a peace time interview, or even a recruitment.

But Coulson is dead, and Fury can only trust Maria to do this, never mind that she’s a battle commander and not the deft touch of whatever Coulson was.

Enough.

Maria steels herself and enters, posture impeccable, and the magician reacts by blinking slow and sleepily at her.

“You did something,” Maria begins, a shaky start but not inaccurate, “During the invasion.”

The magician nods, open, “I protected those that I could.”

“More than that,” Maria responds, unable to find words for what she means to say.

SHIELD had experienced losses that day, of course, Coulson one of many. But only from the direct attack on the helicarrier. When the rift was open, monsters from across the universe raining chaos down, SHIELD stood firm. Agents stood back up from hits that should have taken them down, were able to do things that should have been beyond them. For several hours, SHIELD was undefeatable.

The magician huffed a soft but honestly amused sort of laugh, smile curling her mouth though her eyes continued to droop in exhaustion. “A matter of convenient coincidence,” she answers, though Maria hardly had a question formed. “My priority was to ensure that the building would be safe.” Again she laughs, or tries to, “I told everyone to believe that the shield would hold.”

~

A/N: The later bits are related to this long ago Avengers crossover. Just doing some “spring” cleaning of little ficlets and such on my computer.