"They say time heals all wounds, but that presumes the source of the grief is finite"
- Cassandra Clare
Song: Heal by Tom Odell
Don't Go Where I Can't Follow
by: Mercy of Baal
Current Location: Naruto Canon, Uchiha Residence
Shikaku is ready to tell them 'no, she isn't who she says she is' the minute he meets the farce. The two weeks he spent on the border transferring the duties to someone else had been enough time to remember over and over the night the Kyuubi had attacked. The way Shikako had gone quiet in terror, the way Yoshino had grieved, the days filled with funerals, the way Shikamaru reached for someone who wasn't there anymore. The memories cycled over and over.
He is angry now. Angry that someone dares come up with such story after many years of trying to bury the pain. His normally calm demeanor has taking a dark edge that makes the ninja avoid him. He has visions of dragging the bitch by the hair and taking her straight to Ibiki. He might even help along.
Tsunade, Kakashi, Inoichi, and he make their way to the Uchiha district where the travelers had been staying at. They hadn't been allowed to leave the district, but had been supplied with whatever they needed. Inoichi is grimacing and Shikako knows he is worried about him. The Yamanaka can probably read everything off his face and the man is worried. He had said it slowly to him back in the office
"The girl…she looks like a Nara" Half preparing him to what he would see. They seem to be humoring her for now. That means the girl's story is questionably believable. No Nara her age had been born and Shikamaru's cousins were years younger than him anyway. The blood tests done had revealed her as a sibling to Shikamaru, but blood tests weren't impossible to fake.
The girl is turning away from the lake and towards them as they go around the house and into the training field. Sasuke is off in the water practicing his Katas with a sword. Some seals are visible on his face and arms. He doesn't know much about seals, but he can tell they are weighting him down. The way his muscles are shaking as he swings the sword gives it away. Uzumaki is on the water too with the same seals, trying not to move at all, and he is already drenched in water. It's been a second.
The girl faces them completely and he can't help the way his heart clenches and the way his stomach drops. She smiles at him before she can help it and stops it from forming almost immediately. All the anger leaves his body at once, like a tsunami of emotions. The aftermath is a confusing wreck he can't identify. His throat closes and his eyes burn. On the outside his face is made out of stone.
And oh! Kami…she looks just like Shikako would have. He knows Nara features and the girl has them…and Yoshino's. It's there, right in front of him. Every ninja knows how to recognize features in order to make reports. The smallest of details can make a difference in a mission. The way she dresses is similar to Shikamaru and she has a pair of Nara earrings on. The hair, the eyes, the curled lashes, the form of the lips, the forehead, the hands, and the way she stands. She looks like she learned it from Yoshino and him. He takes everything in as fast as possible. It's one of the few times his brain has sharped this much and he can't quite process it. It's too good to be an act. He wants to believe it so bad, and he halfway does already. He understands his friend's warning now.
She is studying him right back. Her eyes just like Shikamaru when he is playing shogi.
He hears a splash of water and Naruto cursing loudly and the spell is broken.
"Sasuke" She yells at the Uchiha boy in come hither voice. He doesn't even turn to look at the Uchiha, too involved in watching a copy of his dead daughter grown up.
Tsunade steps forwards looking hostile. She grabs Naruto by the arm as soon as he is at the edge of the lake and drags him towards the girl looking thunderous.
"Hey! What's the big idea!? Let-" she shakes the blonde a little and gestures to the girl angrily.
"Take it off, now!"
Her eyes widen in alarm. but she touches Naruto's arm dispelling the seal.
"You little idiot!" She shakes Naruto again and hits him on the head making him fall on his knees. His hands grabbing at his head. She hardly did any damage but the anger rolling off in waves is frightening. The girl makes an aborted movement to help him up but thinks better of it. Her expression is pure Yoshino.
"Never let anyone put seals on you! Haven't you learned anything!?"
Naruto looks guilty and he just knows what's coming "I asked her…" he looks scared admitting it but raises his chin taking the blame.
He feels like he is watching the scene through a glass. He fears that if he makes his presence known it will disappear.
"-I told you so" They all turn towards the Uchiha who isn't even looking at them. His mannerisms annoying in the same way Kakashi's are. He is wiping the water off his sword like he isn't even in the conversation. "I told you so but you didn't listen, "oh Sasuke, It's just a weight seal"
Shikako dispels his seal in a lightening flash move that leaves the Uchiha unbalanced, making him stumble.
"I don't talk like that"
Naruto lets out a startled laugher, staring at the Uchiha like he has done something amazing. Kakashi just stares, even though the usual orange book is in front of his face. Shikaku hasn't felt this off kilter for a long, long time.
The three people before him act like old friends. Part of their act is a sham to dispel rising tension. And fuck, is it working.
Kakashi stepts forward and gestures at the girl "Shikako Nara" and then to Shikaku "And our own Shikaku Nara". The jounin eye smiles like nothing is wrong, grating on his nerves. He would never imagine Kakashi taking the initiative like this. The man wants something. Shikaku looks at the maybe-Nara and does the only thing that will convince him. He pools the shadow at his feet, relaxed and free.
"Family is like a tree and life is like a shadow"
He knows the second her eyes turn considering instead of confused that she might just be who she says she is. Her shadow loses shape and pools at her feet too. She swallows nervously.
"The shadow is what we make of it, the tree is the real thing"
And it feels like the floor has been pulled under him. The grief returns in waves. She had lived. In some other world his baby girl had lived. They hadn't had to burry a tiny coffin.
"The Kyuubi" She says understanding immediately. She knows exactly how her counterpart died.
"Yes" He says surprised but at the same time a bit proud. A Nara through and through.
"I remember" she says looking far away now "The air was overwhelming. I couldn't move…couldn't breathe" her hands gives a miniscule tremble "I'm sorry". He tries to shake off the image of a terrified baby.
Lots of people had said that to him at the funeral, but the sympathies from her are the most heartfelt. The way her face shows a bit of terror, she does remember. At a couple of weeks old it happened and she remembers. Everyone seems taken aback.
He believes her. Undeniably now. Everyone seems to feel the shift and they are hyper aware. What now?
Naruto is looking between them like he is trying to figure something out. He sees the widening of his eyes. Shikako reaches out to grip his arm before the boy can bolt. His eyes are already watering and his breathing is hitched.
"I…Let me go" he says pulling away.
"It wasn't your fault, Naruto" she looks straight at the blond willing him to believe it. Sasuke is hovering now.
"But-" He started shaking and sniffling. He hadn't ever once seen the kid cry no matter how cruel he was treated. He can see now how attached he is to Shikako already. In only two weeks he has been won over completely. Shikaku can see how tenderly she treats him, like he is something precious. Knowing that he might be the reason she was dead here must be tremendous blow to him. He thinks about Shikamaru growing with someone like that.
"You were a baby and you had no control of what happened before or after. Your seal stopped the Kyuubi. You prevented more deaths. You didn't kill her. Understand?"
The blond starts crying now and she pulls him forward to an embrace. Naruto clings to her like she is her lifeline. The heart breaking sobs makes his throat tighten. She pulls him away from the audience and walks him into the trees still holding on to her. Shikaku almost wants to follow them. She isn't allowed to be out of his sight yet. Inoichi puts a hand on his shoulder in support.
Sasuke sighs and runs a hand through his hair "Tea?"
He gets a few incredulous looks that the Uchiha ignores. There is just something about wrong about seeing the usually grumpy boy looking like this is regular. He can almost see a shadow of Fugako over the boy.
Tsunade has a different demeanor now, seeing Naruto with Shikako was probably the reason. The Hokage loves the blond genin deeply and everyone can see it.
"Sure, Tea" Tsunade says dragging out the word with a scowl like she wants to drink alcohol until oblivion. She isn't the only one.
I wrote this 08/12 lol. It couldn't be posted before that! It's been sitting here for almost a month.
Hope it gave you the feels. – MOB
Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing – Abraham L.
Shamelessly twisted this quote.
(in which MOB checks out Reviews obsessively)
MOB: I have a competitive edge
LH: Donahermurphy posted her own story. Did you read? it made me cry
MOB: I need like 20 of the first chapter. I wouldn't even mind losing to this fic…already lost lol
No seriously. Check it out. It's an AU. It reads like one of the Reincarnation Roulette. "In Which someone attempts to kidnap Shikamaru instead"