As far as I know, there are no AU stories where the person that the Kyuubi was sealed in stays with their actual family. I wanted to write one.
Naruto and all the characters and concepts thereof are the intellectual property of Kishimoto Masashi. Who I am not, so Naruto is not in any way shape or form mine. (Though I do own a bonsai tree called Naruto.)
Shikamaru could figure a lot of things out by thoughtful and detached analysis, but he would never be able to appreciate just how close he'd come to not being wanted.
His father, Shikaku, lost the use of his leg in the battle against the Demon Fox, and the horror he felt when he found out the fate of his newborn child overrode his Nara logic. For the five days he spent in the grim and overcrowded hospital he considered killing the – creature – that his newborn son had been sacrificed to.
Nara Yoshino, new mother, wasn't formally discharged from the too-busy hospital; three hours after Nara Shikamaru's birth and before she could stand up with steady legs she was escorted – half-carried - home by an pitying nurse who nonetheless didn't want to look at or touch the baby.
She was glad to leave, because even the maternity ward was overrun by shinobi wounded in fighting the Kyuubi no Kitsune. The Hidden Village's civilian population had been evacuated, and walking through the deserted streets was surreal. The whole situation was fucking surreal. She wasn't in any state to be left alone, but nor were all those dying defenders of their village, so she coped. Shifting her weight to hold the baby and open her door was the hardest thing she'd done since – well, fuck - permitting Yondaime-sama to do what he needed to. Whatever. She opened the door and stood so the nurse couldn't get in. That little-girl nurse needed to go back. Help those wounded noble fuckers who had been no use whatsoever against that monster, but they were dying; just go! The nurse was young and scared to leave a desperate – doubtless irrational – woman alone. She was too young to have kids an maybe too young to go back to a building filled with people dying, too.
Yoshino refused to tell the girl that she herself was too young to let her baby boy be taken away by a desperate hero.
Yoshino shut the door on the worried nurse-girl in the end, and eventually the girl left and she slid down the door, faded out of consciousness for about thirty blissful seconds until her three-year-old daughter Rumiko appeared to see her new brother. So she sustained her effort to stay awake and if the kids heard her swear it hardly mattered in the long term.
On October the fourteenth, four days later, Yoshino brought the baby boy that they had been going to call Shikamaru to see his father in a makeshift hospital; the house of a dead family. They were in what had been the family's main room, and pictures of a broadly grinning boy in various stage of life looked down on them. Shikaku turned his head away from his visitors, unable to look at his wife or what he was trying to think of as her baby. He met the photographic eyes of a proud mother; another picture showed the now-genin boy holding his baby sister. He cringed and looked down at his bedclothes, somewhat aware of the petulance of the gesture.
The other occupants of the room were awkwardly silent, perhaps embarrassed, perhaps disgusted at the perversion of a domestic scene. Long moments passed, and Yoshino shifted the baby in her arms and bit out that this was her child, Shikaku.
It took all her effort, but she walked home without meeting anyone's eyes in the now partly repopulated streets, and she didn't allow herself to stop or cry.
When Shikaku returned home the streets were nearly back to normal. He walked in awkwardly with a cane to find Rumiko playing with the baby and the old cot and toys removed from the loft.
Shikaku didn't protest, but offered no signs of welcome to his son. He was grim and silent as he adjusted to life with one less limb, feeling Nara apathy sink dangerously towards depression as the village dragged itself back together into some semblance of functionality. He refused a place on the council, to the dismay of the reinstated Sandaime. He couldn't have taken it; he felt disgust at the puerile, petty gossiping of the village community. Crises were meant to draw people together, not divide them and provoke grabs to power or clannish elitism.
He, Chouza and Inoshi were supportive of each other in a way they hadn't been since they'd married; the Akimichi was likely to never quite recover from chakra-pathway burns and veered dangerously between weights without the ability to regulate his metabolism with chakra. Inoshi had become strangely austere, unreadable, as if he wanted to seem strong in the crisis. He did seem strong, to a certain extent; Inoshi firmly steered Shikato out of bars before he could fall into alcoholism. All three avoided mention of the others' problems.
He had avoided his household since the the attack on Konoha. Whenever he returned it seemed a chaotic mess, the baby dominated the house and Yoshino's attention. She had quit her job, and so he eventually, not discussing it with her, returned to the service of the village, classifying and assigning missions.
As Shikamaru learned to crawl, Shikaku's analytical intellegence began to return to him. For the first time, he noticed his wife's fragility, and the way she swore more nowadays and her habit of frowning defensively as she and her son faced the community had carved lines into her face. The way Inoshi's wife took the now four-year-old Rumiko to nursery for her, how apprehensive Yoshino had become. His wife had never been one for passivity, but his brooding lack of response had reduced her to a chagrined mood. He would have welcomed the end of her criticism, but now their silence sat awkwardly in the house. He began to help with housework, still leaving his wife as Shikamaru's sole carer.
At the anniversary of the Kyuubi no Kitsune's fall, Shikaku didn't attend the memorial service. He sat hunched and broodingly in his favorite cloud-watching spot, noticing but not watching the memorial fires and the eerie lighting of the sunset, muffled through the clouds. He did not allow himself to recline, which let anyone who knew him tell that he was agitated. His profile was sharp; his thoughts fixated on one matter rather than following the meandering, nebulous patterns of the clouds.
When Shikaku returned to the house late on the night of October the 10th, Yoshino half expected him to be drunk in commemoration. While her husband's distance frustrated and hurt her, he undeniably had a case for seeing himself as wronged by fate. He seemed more able to carry on with life now, but his Nara passivity had transformed itself into a reticence that was almost unbreakable. Conversation in their house was between her and the children, suffocating and limited to the grown woman Yoshino was.
She had been conscious of the division of their family since claiming Shikamaru as 'her' child. Calling him 'ours', she suspected, would have started an open argument, and she couldn't decide whether that would have been a good thing - offering an opportunity to resolve the issue – or whether it would have broken them both too far down. Broken down what was between them.
The Naras occupy the same space, she thought, but are nothing more than mutual inhabitants of it. Separate inhabitants of it. The idea of fault and blame haunted her, but there was no credible target for that. She was aware of herself as a brittle creature, constantly suppressing emotions and accusations that would damage her tenuous stability.
Shikaku's return was unannounced, but she had been awkwardly waiting for it, knowing that today would strain his tolerance. It strained hers.
She sat in the kitchen, where she had lingered since putting the children to bed. Having given up on make-work, she was drinking tea to justify her continued presence there as she heard the door open. The fact she had to strain to hear the movements following the door opening was a relief – being married to a shinobi, silent motion was familiar, loud signified loss of control. Only long proximity to him and this house let her notice the tell-tale noises.
She was surprised when he came to join her, pouring himself a cup of tea and refilling hers. He drank his own and poured himself another before speaking, his face outwardly placid.
"I knew from the start it would be unjust to hate Shikamaru."
She wasn't particularly surprised by his words, more so by the fact he was speaking to her. The didactic tone he used was one that was familiar to her – it meant he was informing someone of a measured conclusion. It was a tone he used to report facts, not to discuss them.
"I tolerated him. I should... do more than that. And I owe Rumiko more than that. I'll try." The tone of his voice didn't remain artifical, and she could see the effort the statement took.
As proclamations went, it lacked something. But it was at that moment the separate inhabitants of the Nara household began to bring their paths together again.