Part of the Soul Marking thing that nearly took over Recursive.


Everyone knows about Soul-marks...

They show up on civilians in bright streaks and stains, from the soft rose of a first crush's kiss on a cheek to the gentle blues of a comforting embrace. Any form of contact where the one of the pair feel strong emotions leaves some form of mark - one that only fades with the emotion it is linked to. It leaves most people an ever shifting canvas of bright colours, except, of course, some emotions don't fade, and nor do their marks. Jiraya's books are full of passionate red kisses that remain hidden under silk scarves for long years of separation and bitter green handprints of jealousy hidden under long sleeves. It's a plot point for him. A convenient way for the readers to know that whatever happened next… well.

There are only two exceptions to this I've found: black - the mark of a death blow, and Shinobi. Unlike any other human, shinobi marks are dull and faded. The civilian's mutter that this is because the soul of a shinobi is damaged, that they just can't feel things the same way as ordinary folk. It's a rumour that the Villages encourage. Better their weapons are seen as just that – soulless tools.

The truth is simpler. The soul manifests through chakra, and the controlled chakra of a shinobi doesn't leak out to the skin as much, making the stains weaker. They are still there though. They still shine as brightly, ripple as much when their bearer feels that same emotion again, when exposed. It's part of life, everyone has them, all the time. Everyone.

Everyone, thinks Shikaku as he brushes a gloved finger over baby fuzz hair, everyone except his little girl.

Her colours are already fading and she's barely a handful of days old. Its slightly disturbing.


Fear, a sickly yellow…

Shikamaru is easy to care for. He snuggles into them, his skin patterned with soft content baby blues. Shikako cries. There are few hints on why. Mostly the occasional cautious hand leaves a faded grey smear that quickly vanishes, or a sickly yellow bruise that fades as quickly. It is very very rare that blue shows on her skin, and even then it never lingers long.

Shikaku can't help but worry. Babies are quick to adapt but… he's never seen colours fade as fast as hers do. Occasionally, he wonders what it would take for something to stick.

He finds out, before the twins are even a month old. He returns to find his son bawling, yellow and blue smears over his skin as he clings to his mother. Scared, but the yellows fading with his hiccupping sobs and every brush of his wife's hand leaves a trail of blue. He'll be fine.

His daughter…

There is no blue on her skin. No faded colours either. She shines with a sickly yellow beneath which she is pale and still. Yoshino's efforts haven't helped and she looks up at him with pleading eyes and hands stained a red streaked yellow of her own. He swallows and takes his daughter, sinking into a chair, calling his chakra forth and singing her a lullaby.

The yellow tint never quite fades from her skin, but slowly, slowly, she beings to move again.


Surprise, leaf green…


Shikaku can't help but chuckle the day his children come home with little green hand prints littering their arms. His son sends him a disgruntled look, but his daughter grins back at him. She has far fewer marks than her brother, and he's not entirely sure it's due to how quickly her colours fade or how dull they are. She's surprisingly good at avoiding people touching her when she chooses.

"Have fun?"

She nods eagerly, leaning into him as he puts an arm around her in a half hug. It pleases him more than he can explain to see the fleeting flickers of bright blue where his fingertips brush.

"We played ninja! You had to be really sneaky and surprise the other person – it didn't count unless they turned green." She beams at him, holding out her arms for inspection. "I hardly got caught at all!"

Shikamaru mumbles under his breath and curls up in a sunlit chair. His arms are a lot more green, but there are hints of blue and orange there as well.


Friendship, cheerful orange…


The sixth time his daughter comes home with orange hands, she's babbling about Ino and Sakura and how awesome her two new friends are. He listens quietly with a small smile. He knows Ino, of course he does, and he is aware of Sakura too – one of this year's civilian-born students.

The fifth, fourth, third and second time are due to different people and the colours don't last long. They're temporary marks. Little things and nothing like the bright colour from when she made her first friend.

Her first friend… He managed to keep his face still and calm when he saw, though he isn't quite sure how. He hadn't interacted much with the boy before then and he didn't have a problem with her befriending him. Not really. Naruto is just a boy… Logically he knows this.

(Sickly yellow skin on a too quiet baby girl…)

And he knows too from the brightness of the colour on the other boy the next day as they leave the classroom together that it's not going to go away any time soon. Still, it could have been worse.

She could have bonded with the Tsume's boy. He came with noisy relative too.


Ultra Violet, focused attention…


Purple is a colour Shikaku is familiar with. It appears sparingly in a clan that prefer to ignore troublesome things but in his offices where the plans and counter plans they make can be the difference between life and death… It's a lot more common.

Still. He'd never quite seen that shade before.

It wasn't everywhere – just a dot on her cheek where someone had poked her while she was deep in thought – but it hadn't faded. And it was so obviously bright. He had to ask.

"Thinking hard?"

She blinked at him, and shook her head. He hummed softly to himself.

"Worrying about graduation?" She pouted at him, and pulled her chakra in tight. It made the dot on her forehead vanish and his lips twitched into a smile.

"I'm going to be with Naruto and Sasuke aren't I?"

He let out a low sigh, more of a hum really. "You don't want to be?"

She bit her lip, the purple dot reappearing as her grip on her chakra slackened. He waited patiently to see if she'd say more. If she'd ask he could do something, say something and she'd be put in a different team. It would be safer for her in the long run, being away from those two who would only be trouble as they grew older.

"No I do…" She hesitated and then nodded firmly to herself, that shocking purple fading. "I do."

…Well. That was that.