We're all just Dreaming of Sunshine
I've come to the realization that we fans of Silver Queen's "Dreaming of Sunshine" need a place to properly discuss this incredible story. So here it is, and have fun.
New Follow Forum Follow Topic
« Prev Page 1 .. 192 199 200 201 202
latelydreaming
@Spirit: If you're still trying to fix the Hiraishin plot hole you mentioned in post #6,013, I just wanted to say that when I was reading the Gardens! WtL AU (and trying to fit it in the overarching Gardens!verse), I read that situation happening as follows: 1. Shikako is given/collects a large number of the Fourth Hokage's Hiraishin kunai and seals while still in her original universe and attempts to reverse engineer it. 2. Shikako goes on the Jashin Arc mission with Aoba, leaving her incomplete seals in Konoha along with her collection of the Fourth's seals (save for a couple she brings with her in Hammerspace to work on in her downtime). 3. In her desperation to stop Jashin and escape, Shikako tries to use the Hiraishin despite knowing her seals aren't yet working properly. 4. This kicks off her journey through the multiverse. While she's traveling between universes, she continues to work on the Hiraishin problem. Eventually she manages to figure a working seal. (Incidentally, this seal is either similar enough to her early attempts in her original universe or to the collection of the Fourth's kunai that she'd left in her version of Konoha that she can sense and use them in the Gardens!WtL-verse... or something. That part's a little finicky. Alternatively, Shikako was already aware she can use the Fourth's Hiraishin as well as her own; she just had yet to visit a universe so far off from her own's timeline and it hasn't occurred to her that the presence of so many Hiraishin seals in that area might be because the Fourth is still alive rather than because of her collection. I'm assuming a majority of the Fourth's seals would have been destroyed or locked away on his death to prevent spies and enemies getting their hands on them and attempting to reverse engineer them.) 5. Several months (and universes) later, Shikako lands in the Gardens!WtL-verse and kicks off the plot. I hope this helps.
10/16/2021 #6,031
latelydreaming
Ugh, mobile. Ignore that wall. Let me try again. @Spirit: If you're still trying to fix the Hiraishin plot hole you mentioned in post #6,013, I just wanted to say that when I was reading the Gardens! WtL AU (and trying to fit it in the overarching Gardens!verse), I read that situation happening as follows: 1. Shikako is given/collects a large number of the Fourth Hokage's Hiraishin kunai and seals while still in her original universe and attempts to reverse engineer it. 2. Shikako goes on the Jashin Arc mission with Aoba, leaving her incomplete seals in Konoha along with her collection of the Fourth's seals (save for a couple she brings with her in Hammerspace to work on in her downtime). 3. In her desperation to stop Jashin and escape, Shikako tries to use the Hiraishin despite knowing her seals aren't yet working properly. 4. This kicks off her journey through the multiverse. While she's traveling between universes, she continues to work on the Hiraishin problem. Eventually she manages to figure a working seal. (Incidentally, this seal is either similar enough to her early attempts in her original universe or to the collection of the Fourth's kunai that she'd left in her version of Konoha that she can sense and use them in the Gardens!WtL-verse... or something. That part's a little finicky. Alternatively, Shikako was already aware she can use the Fourth's Hiraishin as well as her own; she just had yet to visit a universe so far off from her own's timeline and it hasn't occurred to her that the presence of so many Hiraishin seals in that area might be because the Fourth is still alive rather than because of her collection. I'm assuming a majority of the Fourth's seals would have been destroyed or locked away on his death to prevent spies and enemies getting their hands on them and attempting to reverse engineer them.) 5. Several months (and universes) later, Shikako lands in the Gardens!WtL-verse and kicks off the plot. I hope this helps.
10/16/2021 #6,032
latelydreaming

Nope still no good.

@Spirit: If you're still trying to fix the Hiraishin plot hole you mentioned in post #6,013, I just wanted to say that when I was reading the Gardens! WtL AU (and trying to fit it in the overarching Gardens!verse), I read that situation happening as follows:

1. Shikako is given/collects a large number of the Fourth Hokage's Hiraishin kunai and seals while still in her original universe and attempts to reverse engineer it.

2. Shikako goes on the Jashin Arc mission with Aoba, leaving her incomplete seals in Konoha along with her collection of the Fourth's seals (save for a couple she brings with her in Hammerspace to work on in her downtime).

3. In her desperation to stop Jashin and escape, Shikako tries to use the Hiraishin despite knowing her seals aren't yet working properly.

4. This kicks off her journey through the multiverse. While she's traveling between universes, she continues to work on the Hiraishin problem. Eventually she manages to figure a working seal. (Incidentally, this seal is either similar enough to her early attempts in her original universe or to the collection of the Fourth's kunai that she'd left in her version of Konoha that she can sense and use them in the Gardens!WtL-verse... or something. That part's a little finicky. Alternatively, Shikako was already aware she can use the Fourth's Hiraishin as well as her own; she just had yet to visit a universe so far off from her own's timeline and it hasn't occurred to her that the presence of so many Hiraishin seals in that area might be because the Fourth is still alive rather than because of her collection. I'm assuming a majority of the Fourth's seals would have been destroyed or locked away on his death to prevent spies and enemies getting their hands on them and attempting to reverse engineer them.)

5. Several months (and universes) later, Shikako lands in the Gardens!WtL-verse and kicks off the plot.

I hope this helps.

10/16/2021 #6,033
latelydreaming
This time's the charm! Sorry for the wall(s). Just ignore those.
10/16/2021 #6,034
latelydreaming
*Third time. Third time's the charm. This is just not my day.
10/16/2021 #6,035
Renee.Sarah
I totally understand your issues. Besides when you get access to a computer you can edit the walls out and all will be good.
10/17/2021 #6,036
Spirit Seer

@latelydreaming: Thank you so much! :D This helped me consider the plot hole from another angle, so I really appreciate it!

10/20/2021 #6,037
Spirit Seer

In the middle of editing Post-Jashin for its AO3 repost, I remembered that I wanted to write a third piece to round off my Art of Losing Recursive series. That led me to considering a third piece likewise to round off my Walk the Line Recursive series. (Itachi Interlude will be the second, when it's rewritten.) I don't have much confidence in my skill portraying Math's intended emotional manipulation route, so I wondered... What if DOS!canon continued on without Shikako? What might WtL!Shippuden have looked like if the Fourth War didn't end before it began?

(All of this just to say: This is an unfinished, not fully planned out, purely self-indulgent WtL!fic with an initial Sasuke POV right after his final battle with Itachi.)


Walk the Line-verse: Canon Continues


"I'm sorry, Sasuke," Itachi said, poking his forehead with a sad smile. "This is… the last time."

Itachi collapsed to the wall beside him and fell. Sasuke, swaying on his feet and blinking in the blood that had dripped from Itachi's fingers, fell with him.

Where is Shikako? Sasuke begged silently as his strength deserted him. You promised to tell me—

But the world darkened around him as he heard Naruto shout distantly.


When Sasuke awoke, he was within the outpost ruins next to a crackling fire. He blinked blearily.

"Sensei, teme's awake!" Naruto called.

Sasuke groaned. "Not so loud, dobe…"

Hands helped him sit up, and a gloved hand—Kakashi—handed him his opened canteen. "Thanks," Sasuke muttered, taking a sip. All of his muscles burned, and he grimaced as he swallowed.

"What did he say?" Naruto muttered. "Where's Shikako?"

Just then, memories came in a flash, like a dream, and he groaned with the whiplash, squeezing his eyes shut tight. Rain, rain, rain, rain-covered steel buildings, a central tower, guards with the Ame headband, a long staircase to climb—what?

"What's wrong?" Kakashi asked.

Sasuke groaned again, holding his head. "What did he—"

A seal lock on a door, it slid open—and out came Shikako, holding a seal, terrified at the sight of—

"Shikako," Sasuke hissed, watching her terror like his own memory as he ignored his teammates' gasps and unintelligible questions. Then—

He opened his eyes, looking desperately between his teammates. "Shikako's in Amegakure! Itachi didn't take her, but there's a masked man with a Sharingan who has her"—has his hands all over her, more like, a voice growled in his head—"she's in a tower, and—"

"Hello, there," a voice sing-songed from the darkness.

All eyes whipped to the far corner, a one-eyed orange mask staring back at them.

How—when did he—

"I'm Tobi! Who are you?"

"You!" Sasuke shouted, before he doubled over with a groan, clutching his head and abdomen.

"Tobi thinks that maybe you shouldn't—"

"You're the one in the memory," Sasuke hissed out over him. "You took Shikako!"

The man—Tobi—paused as Team Seven's gazes sharpened upon him. "I knew that Itachi would talk," he said lowly.

Far too calmly, Naruto asked, "What have you done with Shikako?"

"Where is she in Amegakure?" Kakashi asked similarly.

Tobi sighed deeply. "Things would have been so much simpler if you'd accepted the truth before now."

"And what is that?"

"That there's no point in storming Amegakure," Tobi replied simply. "It's a waste of time. Even if you succeeded in breaking into an impenetrable fortress, you'd never bring her back."

"What does that mean?" Naruto asked, his voice scratching. Sasuke could see Naruto's whiskers thickening and his nails sharpening. Not good.

"Just that pursuing Shikako Nara would be… pointless."

With a sleight of hand, Tobi withdrew something and threw it in front of them, near the fire. The bunched-up cloth unraveled, frayed and splotched and in the firelight—

Sasuke's Sharingan spun wildly.

Shikako's jacket. That was Shikako's torn, frayed, burned, and bloodied jacket.

"You're lying!" Naruto screamed, chakra flaming red. "Sasuke just saw—!"

No.

Tobi hummed. "Shikako Nara had a recent little… accident."

He's lying.

"This is all that's left of the seal experiment."

He has to be.

"It was quite… explosive, as you can—"

Naruto lunged with a scream, passing right through Tobi.

"Now, now," Tobi sang, "that's not polite, Naruto! I'm still talking. I still haven't told you how—"

It can't—

A screaming Chidori followed the Rasengan, but Kakashi also passed right through Tobi.

"You, too! How rude!"

Shikako can't—

Sasuke doubled-over when his abdomen burned, and when his eyes shut—

—a mask, a name, a bloody night—

"But I thought you'd want to know how—"

Itachi was dead along with the rest of Sasuke's family because of suspicion and a coup and orders and Itachi wouldn't come home because he thought death in battle was kinder at—at Sasuke's hands than—and Danzo and the council were already executed thanks to Shikako's warnings and Sasuke's research and Tsunade's persistence for evidence and a trial but now Shikako—Shikako

—Shikako won't ever—

Sasuke opened his eyes, the world sharpening as black fire surged. Something thicker than tears dripped down his face as his eyes itched and burned, but he didn't care at the moment. All he wanted was for the hellfire to consume the figure that stood unharmed among the flames, the last on his list. All of his muscles screamed with burning agony as he stood, but he rose unsteadily with gritted teeth, pulling up his cracked sabre with him. He pointed it at the mask.

"Don't lie," Sasuke hissed.

The nin's intent focused like a kunai through the fire. "Excuse me?" he said lowly.

"Your name isn't Tobi. Your name is Madara Uchiha, and you helped to massacre my family when Danzo Shimura and the council issued the order," Sasuke spat. "You want to kill Naruto, and you've—" His voice broke, the thick tears falling faster as he screamed, "You killed Shikako, and I'm going to kill you if it's the last thing I do!"

Chakra exploded around Sasuke, the black fire retreating back to the chakra around him. The nin hummed appreciatively.

"This wasn't what I expected," Madara said musingly, "but fighting you now isn't worth the trouble, if you already know that Itachi participated in the massacre on Konoha's orders. I would rather you join me than stand against me, but there will be plenty of time for fighting soon, Sasuke."

"I'll fight alongside you over my dead body," Sasuke growled.

"We'll see, then."

With a swirl of chakra, Madara vanished.

Sasuke's knees buckled, and all of the chakra and fire vanished into darkness along with his consciousness.


(Shikako did test a seal that exploded impressively and injured her, but between the medic-nin, her own healing abilities, and a later discreet use of Gelel, Shikako recovered completely. Her jacket, however, which took the brunt of the damage, was deemed unsalvageable by the maids when they collected her laundry later. Obito, knowing that Itachi would tell Sasuke (who has figured out the truth behind the massacre but not abandoned Konoha) where Shikako was during their final battle, heisted the jacket when the maid was going to throw it away, tore it up, added more blood and burns, and brought it over for the ruse. He didn't lie about Shikako's sealing accident, nor that her jacket was all that was left of the accident; he just didn't dissuade them from believing the implication that Shikako was dead. He would never have been so calm if Shikako were actually dead.)

10/23/2021 . Edited 1/11/2022 #6,038
Spirit Seer

All right now, on AO3, Post-Jashin is up as "Shadows of the Abyss," and the first chapter of Itachi Interlude is up as "Smoke and Mirrors".

I hope that everyone's having a great break!

11/26/2021 #6,039
Spirit Seer

This will probably end up longer later, but eh, have a scene draft. It takes place right after the news of Kakashi's "suicide."


Art of Losing!verse: Shikaku and Gai's Conversation


"I didn't forbid him from the funeral," Lord Shikaku says. "I never even saw Kakashi after—" His throat tightens, trapping his words. He mutters, so softly it's as if the words are never spoken aloud, "If I had forbidden him out of blame, I would have had to…"

His gaze drifts away, but Gai can see from the tightness of his jaw, his stiffness, the tone in his voice—he's not lying.

Lord Shikaku never saw Kakashi, and while he would have borne all of the righteous anger of a grieving father, he could not have rightfully blamed and forbidden Kakashi from little Shikako's funeral without first blaming and banning himself.

Gai has already heard that Lord Shikaku and his wife were home. Lord Shikaku was returning to the house after dealing with Clan Head matters, and Lady Yoshino had been in the kitchen. They each arrived to the nursery too late.

Lord Shikaku may have wanted to blame Kakashi, but he would have had to blame himself and his wife first.

And Gai knows that Lord Shikaku won't do that.

Lord Shikaku never saw Kakashi, never told him that little Shikako's death was his fault, that he was hated and forever banned from the Nara compound.

Gai takes a steadying breath. "Who spoke with Kakashi first?"

Lord Shikaku's gaze slowly returns to him, his focus once again on Gai and not their present sorrows. "I was not told," he says, so softly and darkly that Gai could lose himself in the abyss if he looks too deeply.

But he doesn't shiver. He needs the answer, and he's too focused on the answer that Lord Shikaku cannot speak aloud, for he must have no definitive answer, and thus all speculations are too dangerous to utter.

This person has a high position of authority, perhaps on the Council. Unlikely the Hokage, but Lord Shikaku has not discounted the possibility, either. Likelier, Gai considers, that the Hokage is sharing the culpability of the result in order to shield the culprit even if he did not act himself or approve of the action. That would point to one of his advisors, and Gai knows from there who is the likeliest.

It is a name that he will not utter aloud, either.

They say that there are three things to fear in Konoha: an angry Aburame, a focused Inuzuka, and a motivated Nara. Gai has always thought that, for a warning, it is a pretty turn of phrase—not one to discard, mind you, but one that discounts the fearsomeness of the Youthful Will of Fire that burns within the hearts of the rest of Konoha's shinobi and her clans.

Somebody has fallen on the wrong end of a motivated Nara, Gai knows as he senses the tightened chakra around Lord Shikaku. However, Gai doubts, when the truth is revealed, should Youth be kind to him, that he will leave anything remaining for Lord Shikaku to finish off.

Little Shikako, the bright star of the dark night of Kakashi's life, has been assassinated, and somebody has intentionally driven his Eternal Rival to suicide. It's a score that Gai will settle in his favor, or he will race into the Pure Lands on his thumbs.

3/16/2022 #6,040
Spirit Seer

Art of Losing!verse: What Shikamaru Does for His Siblings


Since his parents told him about his lost twin sister Shikako and his oldest brother Kakashi, Shikamaru has set aside his own time for training every day.

Admittedly, it was during the war, but Kakashi not only graduated from the Academy and was already a Chunin before the age that Shikamaru entered it, his oldest brother was an A-Class Jonin by fourteen! No matter how short Kakashi's soulbond to Shikako lasted, his record is so amazing and the remaining photographs so humanizing—Shikamaru still can't believe that his parents have a picture of Kakashi sleeping under his and his sister's crib like a puppy with his dog summons—that his oldest brother sets a very high bar of achievement.

It's a bar that, after some thought, Shikamaru finds himself wanting to strive and not only reach but surpass, to stand proudly in their company.

After all, if Kakashi's soulbond picked his sister, Shikamaru has no doubt that Shikako would have grown up to be equally phenomenal.

As her twin, Shikamaru knows that he has to have that same potential—

—as long as he doesn't allow the famed Nara ennui and reliance on InoShikaCho formations to restrict him to his mental strengths. Having physical strength in his arsenal—being a more rounded shinobi—can only improve his strength and effectiveness as a teammate for his future teammates.

(Ino and Choji, his mind supplies. He already knows who will be on his genin team, and even if he can't convince them to put more effort into training now, that doesn't mean that Shikamaru can't train for his own goals.)

This means, however, that he must actually spend some of his free time training. Shikamaru sighs and groans at this realization—it's so troublesome—but, for Shikako's and Kakashi's sakes, he's going to try.

And by that, he's going to actually put in effort. It takes all of his willpower the first time and every time after not to simply stop and watch the wonderful clouds floating by. It would be so easy to simply stop or not train at all that day—but then he'd never get there, would he? So, each time, Shikamaru gives himself a moment to watch the cloud pass as he catches his breath, and then he pushes on.

So, in addition to his morning training with his mother, his training in his shadow techniques with his father on Sunday, Shikamaru limits his intentional cloud watching time to the Academy and rest time and time spent with Choji, and he trains in the afternoon before dinner, leaving homework for breaks and after dinner.

Admittedly, the thought that my big brother was already a Chunin at my age and I can't consistently hit the bull's eye on the target, to say nothing of wherever I aim is a strong motivating factor every time Ino whines at him for being boring or Choji politely declines whenever he invites them to join him.

Such determination for physical excellence is strange in a Nara, Shikamaru knows, in a clan for whom mental excellence always comes so easily. But Shikamaru knows, deep down, that if he wants to be known for more than the Nara's birthright intelligence, if he wants an S-Class slot in the Bingo Book, he needs physical training and stamina, too.

So, he repeats the exercises his mother taught him and the katas that he's learned so far in the Academy during his afternoons, he practices throwing his kunai and shuriken until he's consistently hitting the bull's eye and moving the targets around for a better challenge, and he does extra push-ups and sit-ups and runs the forest trail until he no longer feels like he's dying halfway through—

—but still, compared to his Uchiha and Hyuuga and Inuzuka classmates, Shikamaru knows that his endurance is lacking. He isn't last—since he's learned of his eldest brother, he's begun making an effort during class, even if he spends most of the time in the back of the pack—but performing better than Naruto and Choji isn't any consolation. Shikamaru probably couldn't even match his oldest brother when Kakashi was three.

Shikamaru is seven and a half. It's a very disheartening thought.

(For the briefest moments, hearing Sasuke boast about his older brother yet again, Shikamaru wonders if Sasuke feels about Itachi the way that he feels about Kakashi. Itachi's scores almost matched Kakashi's at twice Kakashi's age, so it's possible. But it still takes every ounce of self-control channeled into familiar laziness to refrain from starting a "my brother is better than yours" argument with the younger Uchiha heir because, well, Shikamaru's already plotted the course of the argument, and if he hears anything along the lines of "at least my brother's alive" or "at least he's actually my brother," the KMP will be arresting him for murder, and with Sasuke's father being the Chief of Police, Shikamaru knows that there's no way that he'll get an acquittal. He ignores Sasuke's boasting as best as he can, restricting rebuttals to his head.)

So Shikamaru has been doing his best to train and become better, but other than his aim, he hasn't seen that much improvement. He's in the bottom third of the physical fitness tests now instead of the bottom next to Naruto, but once sparring begins, he knows that he's going to be used to mop the floor.

Big brother, how did you do it?

He's heading into the house for dinner after running another lap around the forest path and his cool down stretches, finally debating whether he should ask his parents for advice, when he walks into the middle of a conversation.

"—saw Gai at the Tower."

"How is he?"

His mother's voice is soft, concerned, like there's something to be concerned about the well-being of this Gai.

His father sighs. "As he usually is."

Now his mother sighs. "He took Kakashi's death just as hard, didn't he?"

"If not more," his father murmurs.

Shikamaru steps into the room quickly, all of his focus locked on his big brother's name. "Gai was Kakashi's friend?"

His parents turn to Shikamaru, then after a shared glance, his mother nods. "Might Gai was your big brother's best friend."

"Eternal Rivals, I think Gai called them," his father adds.

His mother laughs softly. "He was always challenging your big brother to the craziest challenges. Didn't they have a score, Shikaku?"

"I think the last count was a tie."

If Shikamaru's eyes could widen any further, they'd probably fall out of his head. "Gai beat Kakashi so often in spars that they were tied?"

"Well, I wouldn't call them spars…" his mother says hesitantly, but the side of her lip is quirked into a small smile.

His father chuckles. "Sometimes the challenges were tied to spars. But more often than not, they were random challenges, like who could run around Konoha the fastest, that would end in penalty training for the loser."

"Wasn't there a flower arranging challenge once?"

"The winning bouquet went to Shikako. Kakashi won."

Shikamaru's mind whirls. His big brother, who always seemed so indominable, had a friend and rival that routinely defeated him! How powerful was—is—this Might Gai?

Is this what Shikamaru needs? Does he need to find his own Eternal Rival to spur him on to greater heights? A competitive spirit is not a worthless strategy for self-improvement; it just needs to be counterbalanced positively to prevent it from becoming detrimental.

(Choji is too kind and gentle. He might eventually be convinced to train out of friendship after enough requests—or a tempting enough food bribe—but he would never become a training rival without a self-driven spark.)

"What's Gai like?" Shikamaru asks eagerly.

His mother hums. "He's a little, ah, eccentric, but he has a good heart."

"He's a taijutsu master, the best in the village," his father replies. "He graduated a year after Kakashi in the Academy, but they were Rivals before that."

"So he's very strong?"

"Yes." Then his father's gaze saddens. "He used to train around the village. His attire is quite—noticeable, but…" He sighs. "He doesn't train within the city limits anymore."

Since your big brother died, goes unsaid.

"Where does he normally train?"

His father blinks. "You want to meet him?"

"Can I?"

His father glances at his mother, then he shrugs. "I suppose it couldn't hurt to look for him, but he's in the training grounds even earlier than your mother."

"And you'll have to be back in time for that," his mother adds.

His father sighs. "It'll be troublesome."

Shikamaru eyes widen. He has to wake up even earlier than for his mother's training in order to meet his big brother's best friend?

He takes a deep, fortifying breath. Gai is a taijutsu specialist—the best in the village, his father said—and Shikamaru needs help in taijutsu and physical fitness. Who better is there to ask for advice, if not his big brother's best friend?

He's already paying in cloud-watching time. If Gai—who is as strong as oldest brother—could help Shikamaru become as strong, too, a little lost sleep is a worthy price.

He nods. "What time will we leave?"

His resolve falters when his father tells him the time—no one could be awake at that hour!—but Shikamaru steels himself, reminding himself of his goal:

I'm going to be even stronger than you, big brother, and stronger than Shikako would have been. I'll make you both proud.


Shikamaru yawns and glares at the shining half-moon and winking stars. How could Kakashi's best friend possibly be awake at this hour, let alone train in it? Impossible.

And yet, as they stand near the gates of the village, watching a green-suited man approach, running at a blur on top of the wall, Shikamaru knows that this man is both awake and training—and from the level of exertion and sheen of sweat, has likely been so for some time already.

Madness. Jonin achieve their rank through madness.

(Why does Shikamaru want so desperately to join this club? Surely, he could use his intelligence to outwit the village and become the only S-Class Chunin in the Elemental Nations? Could he avoid the Jonin Insanity that way?

Shikamaru exhales mournfully.

No, he couldn't—not if wants to meet his siblings proudly in the Pure Lands.)

His father waves, and the green blur spots them. He come to a stop in front of them.

"Gai," his father greets.

"Lord Shikaku," Gai returns in greeting. "What can I do for you?"

Shikamaru studies the man in front of him. Dark hair, a bowl-cut haircut, orange leg and arm warmers, and a green jumpsuit.

Eccentric, indeed, but only in clothing. It doesn't seem enough for his mother to have labeled him so.

(No matter how insane this early hour is.)

His father shifts. "This is Shikamaru. He wanted to meet his big brother's best friend."

Gai's gaze swivels down to Shikamaru, and he grins gently, a new sparkle in his eyes as he crouches down to meet his eye level. "It's nice to meet you, Shikamaru," he says. "My name is Gai."

Shikamaru nods. "Dad says that you were tied with Kakashi in challenges."

"Indeed! We were tied 28-28. I won our last challenge."

"Dad says you called yourselves Eternal Rivals."

Gai's smile saddens, the glimpse of teeth vanishing. "He was my most formidable Eternal Rival."

Shikamaru nods sharply. "Big brother was the best."

Gai's eyes water a little, and Shikamaru is afraid this man might start crying—although, for his big brother or little sister, tears would be acceptable—but his brother's Rival only nods. "Indeed, Kakashi was."

A moment of silence passes as Gai simply smiles sadly, his gaze turning away into the distance. Perhaps he is thinking of their last challenge, whatever it was, or about his big brother himself. Shikamaru doesn't know, but as much as he's desperate to hear any stories that Gai has, he's come on a mission. With a fortifying breath, Shikamaru says, "I've come to request a favor of my big brother's Eternal Rival."

Gai's gaze snaps back to Shikamaru, his eyes widening. "Anything! I could not refuse my Eternal Rival's little brother."

"I want to be as strong as Kakashi."

Both Gai and his father are staring at him, but Shikamaru continues doggedly, "I know that it sounds impossible. I know that it'll take a lot of hard work and effort." He groans slightly. "I already know it'll take effort, and I don't like exerting myself, but…" He shakes his head, shaking off the temptation to give up before he's begun. "But I—big brother was so amazing, and Shikako was his soulmate. Soulbonds aren't random. She would have been just as amazing, I know it, and—" His voice chokes a little, but he continues, "But they're not here anymore, and if Shikako would have been as amazing as Kakashi, I know that I must have that same potential. I—" He swallows thickly. "I want to meet them proudly. I will meet them proudly, but I'm stuck. I can study my shadow techniques with Dad and practice my katas with Mom and improve my aim on my own well enough, but I've hit an impasse with my physical training. It's been half a year, and I'm still in the bottom third of the class in terms of endurance. I need to get better before sparring begins or I won't be a match in taijutsu class at all, but I don't know how." He meets Gai's studying gaze squarely. "Dad says that you're the best taijutsu master our village has. You were tied with my big brother, and I can't believe that he would have accepted just anyone as his Eternal Rival, so that must mean that you were just as strong as him. Please, what do I need to do to improve my physical strength so that, someday, I can be that strong, too?"

Shikamaru is certain that it's the most that he's ever spoken in his life. His gaze falls to the ground. "Please," he murmurs.

A rough hand pats him gently on his shoulder, and when Shikamaru looks up, he sees that Gai's eyes are moist and a few tears have fallen. "Hard work is a most worthy goal, Shikamaru," he whispers in a choked voice. "It is a most worthy goal, and Kakashi and Shikako would have been proud of you for seeking it."

Shikamaru's eyes water, but through sheer force of will, he withholds the tears.

"Ah, but the true strength that is yielded from hard work is not accomplished in a day, a month, or even a year! The true strength of hard work is achieved through a constant pursuit of excellence!" Gai claps his shoulder with a widening grin. "My most worthy Eternal Rival's younger brother shall have a training plan!"

Shikamaru feels his hopes kindle at the same time that his fatigue begs him to flee and bury himself under his bedcovers before it's too late. He stubbornly remains where he is. "A training plan?"

"Of course! You have said that you want to improve your physical strength and endurance before sparring begins, yes? That requires much training, which a plan shall facilitate. We shall go a training ground, and once I have evaluated the fruits of your present labors, we shall design a training plan that will raise you to greater heights!"

The man's grin has become mysteriously blinding as the bright morning sun rises behind him despite the surrounding pre-dawn sky, and Shikamaru blinks light spots away as his father requests that they hold Shikamaru's evaluation on the Nara training grounds for ease of access, and Gai acquiesces. Before Shikamaru knows it, he has collapsed bonelessly on the Nara training ground after a thorough evaluation of his current katas, weapons throwing, physical strength, and endurance, Gai praising his current strength as he gives a list of training recommendations to his mother, who is writing everything down for a grateful Shikamaru, who doubts his burning muscles could have lifted a pen.

Gai crouches by Shikamaru's head, who reluctantly pulls his gaze away from a drifting cloud to meet his gaze. "You are doing well, Shikamaru. Hard work will take you to the heights you seek," he says encouragingly. "We will revise your training plan once you have accomplished your current goals."

Shikamaru takes a shaky breath, pushing himself to sit up with a groan. He grins exhaustedly, but with teeth. "I'll be back before you know it."

Gai grins blindingly in return. Another sunrise appears mysteriously behind him. "A most worthy attitude! You are always welcome to join me in training whenever I am in the village." He claps Shikamaru's shoulder, almost knocking him back to the ground. "Train hard, my most worthy Eternal Rival's little brother! His spirit lives on in you!"

With a nod to his parents, Gai vanishes in a shunshin.

Shikamaru collapses bonelessly to the ground again with a groan. It's Saturday. He can take a nap here on the grass, and then—

"Don't go back to sleep, Shikamaru!" his mother scolds, standing over him. Shikamaru blinks grumpily at her, but she only grins. "Didn't I tell you? You had to be back in time for training with me, and you're late." She waves his new training plan at him. "This isn't your only training, you know. We have training, too. Gai agreed that your katas need work, so we'll start with those after you've stretched."

Shikamaru groans, closing his eyes.

"Now, Shikamaru!"

He pushes himself off the ground as each muscle in his body protests. He stares up at a drifting cloud. Then, after a deep breath, he pulls his eyes away and starts to stretch.

The things Shikamaru does for his siblings.

(The thought is only half grumbling. Now that he has a real honest training plan from the taijutsu master that was his big brother's Eternal Rival, the thought holds determination, too.)

3/16/2022 #6,041
Georgia Nighthowl

Aaaw, the snippets are so cute spirit. That was really beautiful. It's been quite some time since you are here so have a hearty welcome back from me.

3/16/2022 #6,042
grandmasphell
@Spirit Seer ok, that was pretty darn adorable. It was also pretty darn sad. I was half expecting Gai and Shikako to start crying not because of how sweet it was, but because of the bitterness in it as well. Bittersweet.
3/16/2022 #6,043
PhaedraZev

Pulls at the heartstrings. Having two different kinds of Motivated Nara and you want them so badly to succeed!

3/18/2022 #6,044
Spirit Seer

@Georgia Nighthowl: Aw, thank you! It has been a while, hasn't it? It's nice to be back.

@grandmasphell: I was trying for a mix of those in these scenes, so I'm glad that they all come through. Thanks!

@PhaedraZev: Thank you! I know, I want them each to succeed (even if I can't decide, as far as Danzo's deposition goes, who I want the most to deal it).

3/19/2022 #6,045
memes16

You know I've had this idea mulling around my head for a while, and while I'm not sure it 100% fits this thread I'm just gonna throw it out anyway-

Soulsong AU. Only it's not about soulmates. Instead, your soulsong is the truest representation of yourself. Who you really are beneath all the layers and the lies you tell yourself to get through the day.

3/21/2022 #6,046
memes16

The current lineup for team seven I've got going is:

Shikako - King by Florence the Machine

Kakashi - Glory and Gore by Lorde

Sasuke - Ice Cold by Half-Alive

Naruto - Unstoppable by Sia

3/21/2022 #6,047
Renee.Sarah
*blinks* so true Names, or like is this closer to a Singer's skill?
3/21/2022 #6,048
memes16

Hmmm, more on the True Names side of things I think! It's an interesting concept to me just because there's so much we see going on in Shikako's internal monologue that the people around her never even see a glimpse of.

3/22/2022 #6,049
AnimeLover229
memes16 - I think that when Kakashi will get team 7 after awhile his song will change to this one Lol, Teenagers by My Chemical Romance. With this line in the song that will resonate with him the most: "They said, "All teenagers scare the livin' shit out of me" They could care less as long as someone'll bleed So darken your clothes, or strike a violent pose Maybe they'll leave you alone, but not me" Lol.
3/22/2022 #6,050
memes16
You're so right!! That would fit him really well wouldn't it? And it would probably be a welcome warning to everyone else regarding team seven
3/22/2022 #6,051
TekoloKuautli

Hi! I just wanted to say I published a story that's a mix of Shikako with Wings and Soulmate Alternative Universes.

Here's the link: http : // archiveofourown . org / works/ 39559998/ chapters/ 99023325

It's a slightly shippy story if you squint (because Shikako is 6) with Shisui. I hope you enjoy it.

6/10/2022 . Edited 6/10/2022 #6,052
Babyuknowme13

Does anyone know where all the They Call It Soulless threads are? I can find the first four of them but nothing after the Kakashi's Soulmark Turns Red one. I especially want to find the one with Danzo suspected Kako of brainwashing via her seal and the one with Kako refusing to kill the premature baby. Pls help

6/17/2022 #6,053
The Indecisive Ambivert
Here's the baby one (its at the bottom) https://m.fanfiction.net/topic/180237/149681642/193/Soulmark-Fic-and-Discussion
6/17/2022 #6,054
The Indecisive Ambivert
I think this is the Danzo one (#5,805) https://m.fanfiction.net/topic/180237/149681642/194/Soulmark-Fic-and-Discussion
6/17/2022 #6,055
zeichnerinaga

Re-reading the soulless-verse (thank you, babyuknowme13) i got an idea: what if, before the shinobi villages there were less soulless - because the tailed beasts were drawn to them and „healed" them, and Hashirama and Mito messed that up.

so soulless were known but rare before, and beca really common after.

6/17/2022 #6,056
tebuki
I'm now stuck imagining a bunch of babies with Karama's name stamped across their hearts, Shukako across foreheads (because crazy, bratty little brother WOULD do that)- or maybe over the chakras associated with their elements, like Matatabi of fire over the second or third chakra, or over the solar plexus chakra for Lucky 7 Chomei because they value power/control/freedom to be yourself
10/8/2022 #6,057
« Prev Page 1 .. 192 199 200 201 202
Forum Moderators: Fell's Apprentice donahermurphy, MathIsMagic, Silver Queen
Rules:
  • Forums are not to be used to post stories.
  • All forum posts must be suitable for teens.
  • The owner and moderators of this forum are solely responsible for the content posted within this area.
  • All forum abuse must be reported to the moderators.
Membership Length: 2+ years 1 year 6+ months 1 month 2+ weeks new member