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.
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MathIsMagic

So, unrelated, but as I was falling asleep last night, I was musing on some blessing verse AU's. It's a little less clear now that I've woken up, but lets see if I can word vomit something coherent here:

So, what if, the news about the Sage's blessings got out (don't ask me how or why, just roll with it) in the same kinds of way the whole, 'Naruto has the kyuubi inside him' thing did. AKA, all the adults know that these three babies/kids are reincarnations of demigods/literally blessed by their god and forebear to do amazing, world changing things. No one outside the village knows, though, beyond vague rumors that maaaaybe Konoha got the sage's blessing kids (again, ugh.) but there's conflicting reports and that's good propaganda, so we're mostly ignoring this unless we see a good change to confirm and take them for ourselves. The kids themselves, and people their age, don't know either, because 'they should have a normal childhood, without that pressure (Hah!) or without the other kids resenting them or bowing down to them.'

So, on the one hand, all the adults are kind of awed by/reverent towards these kids, and no one really wants to be on their bad side. On the other hand, there's something 'wrong' with all of them (Naruto's jinchuuriki status, Sasuke being Madara/Indra and therefore 'bound to go traitor', Shikako being the odd one out, with the new blessing) that makes adults want to keep them at arms length. So, basically, awkward pedestals ahoy.

The other kids don't know what to do with these people who their parents are basically like, "Don't get on those three's bad sides. Do whatever they want. But also don't get close to them." So they basically just find it better to avoid the hell out of "Those Three." (Definitely not helped by all three being good at something beyond reason, whether that's skill, smarts, or chakra capacity.) The three kinda end up having to bond over being the people most children avoid, and most adults act weird towards. (Every argument between Naruto and Sasuke makes the adults twitchy. Shikako points this out, and the two learn to quietly stifle themselves. Then people start looking at Shikako, the 'new' one and trying to figure out her role instead.)

Shika and Ino and Chouji are still there for Kako, of course, and Ino brings in Sakura. Sasuke and Naruto get folded in out of sympathy for sharing Kako's plight. But outside of their little group, all three get too much staring and too little normal human interaction. Shake glares at those people. He is not once jealous over all the attention and special treatment Kako gets, because he knows she's shy and sometimes it all gets to her and she goes home and lays in her bed and cries, and he sometimes he slips into bed with her to hold her, pretending they're both okay, they're just cuddling like normal and no one's upset because they're both just normal kids who get treated normally. (Crank Shika's canon dreams of an average-everything life up to 11, here, but for Kako instead of for himself.)

Shikamaru is trying very hard to puzzle out what's going on, but Shikaku is likewise very good at hiding anything that might be useful to him.

Itachi and Sasuke are even closer than in canon. Sasuke super admires that his baby brother is destined for great things, and doesn't care about the Madara thing, the way the rest of the clan does. There's even more obvious 'protective big brother' here, since Saskuke's less sheltered/coddled and theres a little less pressure on Itachi, what with his baby brother obviously being the one who's going to be special. Itachi's 'only' blessed with genius, after all.

The Uchiha find themselves more ostracized by some people, a la Fugaku's 'canon' fears for Sasuke, but they also have way more actual allies, since the rest of the clans - and the Ino-Shika-Chou clans in particular - have a vested interest in them.

Naruto is less hated, but in many ways more neglected, simply because everyone's so wary of him. The back-and-forth attitudes are almost more psychologically damaging, because Naruto has no idea what to expect, and he's missing TWO pieces of crucial information that would otherwise help him set his barometer for, 'how will this person react to me behaving this way.'

(Danzo lobbies all the time to get his hands on the three, but they're visible, so he can't sneakily take them, and important, so none of the clans are willing to let him have them, even the ones who aren't defending them simply for being family.)

When Naruto, Sasuke, and Shikako end up filling the perfect slots on the standard "best-best-worst' team formation, everyone nods, and assumes it's fate.

8/12/2016 #1,231
donahermurphy
Aw, I love this Shika here
8/12/2016 #1,232
LectorElise

Ayame absolutely has a point - I was using 'criminal' in the sense that it's illegal here in the real world. Konoha's equivalent of Child Protective Services probably doesn't even exist, given, well. Naruto. Kakashi. Itachi. (I'll spare you all my rant on how Itachi was an exploited child who had deeply damaged boundaries and a fragile sense of self.) There might be laws about physical neglect, because child soldiers don't raise themselves, but the shinobi world gives exactly -1 fucks about emotional health.

I was more uncomfortable with, as Math said, the general tone that Naruto's situation was not ideal but nothing serious. It's understandable that Shikako didn't realize how bad the situation was - Naruto's loud, attention-seeking behavior is easy to read as mere immaturity, not the result of deprivation. But as readers, and people in a time and place with a much better understanding of psychology, it's a bit more questionable when we do the same.

To be very blunt: Naruto's immaturity at the beginning of the series, his short attention span, poor impulse control, gullibility, erratic social skills and inappropriate behavior- are the inevitable result of a kid who is under-socialized and suffering from the cumulative damage neglect does to brain. And he's a success story, one of the best possible outcomes of that sort of situation. (If you're interested: you can skip straight to page five to get the relevant bits.)

8/12/2016 #1,233
MoonlitMelody

*tosses out previous WIP snips* Math, this is far more compelling than what I was working with, I'm going to borrow this. As for how the blessings leak, orphanage is easy enough for Naruto, and Sasuke/Shikako's can leak from the hospital when they're being treated post-Kumo kidnapping - Shikaku and Fugaku are too good at their jobs for the leak to originate in the clans.

I'm especially digging your Shika and Itachi. Protective big brothers assuring their siblings that they're not weird is my jam.

So, basically, awkward pedestals ahoy.

And the award for quote of the day goes to...

8/12/2016 #1,234
DreamOfStories
(If you're interested: you can skip straight to page five to get the relevant bits.)

Where's page 5?

8/12/2016 . Edited 8/12/2016 #1,235
MathIsMagic

Based on my email preview, I think Lector had originally posted a PDF of a journal article or something, and the site cut it out.

8/12/2016 #1,236
MathIsMagic

Oh! Moonlit! I didn't mean to make you do that! I was just musing as I fell asleep last night (I'm a sucker for the protective/supportive brothers bit too.) I was so enjoying your 'awkward duo of dads working together to protect their kids' tract. Although, yeah, I see that happening, that this stuff gets out post-Ally! and -Kumo! snippets. Hm.... That's a fun mental image. Those two finding all of their careful work blown to smithereens by nosy nurses who disrespected doctor-patient confidentiality, and having to rally together to buffer their kids as best they can... and getting the Hokage to declare THIS an S-class secret too, like the Kyuubi thing (and really, it should be), so all the spreading stops...

Well, whatever you do, I'm excited!

(Although, really, if you have stuff written for WIP's and you're abandoning them, you should consider posting them anyways, as-is. No, I'm not starved for fic of this right now. Why do you ask?)

(Slightly edited to reflect me re-reading and better comprehending Moonlit's actual post.)

8/12/2016 . Edited 8/12/2016 #1,237
LectorElise
Shoot. Forgot to edit the link text. I'll fix it when I get home.
8/12/2016 #1,238
MoonlitMelody

@Math: Nah, don't feel bad, your post invites more dramatic tension from the kids' perspectives, which I was having trouble imagining. It also challenges the Dad Duo to up their game as things get more complicated. (They would feel insulted if they weren't so angry about freaking nurses being the weak link in their plans, GAH.)

And this is definitely an S-class secret...that the Dads never planned on telling the Hokage about. The Sandaime tactfully gives them the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Well, if you don't mind zero proofreading and no actual conclusion, you can have this Kumo Incident snip.


Shikako is so confused, conflicted and worried, it's like all of her emotions have become an indistinguishable leaden mass in her stomach. She should never have mentioned bloodline theft why did she mention bloodline theft?!

Her dad is treating her even more carefully than usual, which she didn't even think that was possible short of wrapping her in bubble wrap and storing her in her room. Watching the anime from Before, she had never pegged Shikaku as the worrying type - he had reminded her of "lazy but capable" Shikamaru, more than anything. Clearly, that is not the case with her Shikaku. (Then again, her Shikaku is friends with Fugaku Uchiha, which not even fanfiction prepared her for. Combined with the weird writing on her chest and Shika's back, she has to concede that she is not in "canon Naruto" at all.)

Shikako is understandably distracted worrying about her dad who is worrying about her worrying (what even is her life?) that she doesn't really register her mom's spurt of activity around the house until she's presented with a child-sized kimono with instructions to hold out her arms.

"Mommy, why are we getting dressed up? Where are we going?" She is so confused right now, what did she miss this time?!

The look on Yoshino's face is distinctly unimpressed. "We're going to Hyuuga-chan's birthday party, remember?"

"Birthday party?" she asks breathlessly. Oh god, wait, Kumo, Hinata's birthday, kidnapping. She doesn't remember the Hyuuga throwing a party, what does this mean for the timeline?!

Her mom looks worried too. "Shikako? Are you okay? Do you want to stay home?"

Behind the self-rebuke for making her parents worried (again), she feels relief. She can stay home? Maybe that's a good idea; the Hyuuga Affair is one of those things that she does not want to get involved in. She's three, what can she possibly do?

But she's three, and she's just been invited to a birthday party (her first birthday party, in fact - Hinata's family is ahead of the curve there), and she's worrying her mom because she's not excited about this at all.

Kumo wouldn't try anything during the party, right? I'll just let my mom see me and Shika having fun, then go home. It'll be fine, I can do this much, at least.


Hours later, Shikako finds herself staring up at the ceiling, marveling at her amazing ability to completely destroy any semblance of canon. The day started normally enough; her mom walked her and Shika over to the Hyuuga compound where they were greeted by Hiashi, Himawari (Hinata names her daughter after her mother, that's too sweet) and the most adorable little girl Shikako has ever seen. They headed through the house into a garden filled with very tiny clan heirs and seconds, none of whom she's actually met before (the clan heads and ladies don't bring the kids with them when they visit, probably because forcing toddlers to hang out for hours doesn't necessarily result in close friendships so much as ringing ears and headaches). Still, she can pick out the entire Rookie 9, minus Sakura and Naruto but plus Neji.

Stunned by the sheer number of main characters packed into the garden, Shikako fell back on the tried and true method of hiding behind Shika, who in turn demonstrated why he is the best brother ever by doing her share of socializing. She could already tell that he preferred Chouji's quiet company - that's one thing that still matches canon, thank goodness. Ino inserted herself for a stint before wandering off to talk to Sasuke, who was mumbling something about his nii-san being away on a mission (thank god, she doesn't want to even think about dealing with the Itachi Uchiha). Shino and Kiba, surprisingly, gravitated towards each other, bickering over something or other. And Hinata settled in behind Neji, who had decided that Shikamaru's company was the least painful at the party.

Hinata is quiet, even by Shikako's standards, but she isn't painfully shy either, which is a surprise. She made conversation with all of them at least once. She laughed a little as Kiba overbalances and took a dive in the koi pond. She was polite in a genuinely nice way while she joined Shika and her in a round of cloud watching.

Shikako is a bit startled to find that she likes Hinata. Not as the twelve-year old character she might come to resemble - she likes the very real 3-year old who spent an hour on her birthday curled up against her side, watching the sky and quietly sharing how Neji-nii-chan was teaching her how to punch.

It's Hinata's small smile and the sudden impulsive thought that Dad is friends with Fugaku Uchiha, there is no canon that drove her to ask her mom if she can stay the night. She's not sure who was more surprised: Hinata, her mom, or Shikamaru. She's not sure who was happier either - Hinata looked like she just hung the moon, and her mom might have been tearing up a little. Shikamaru, at least, acted like she was torturing him with all of this troublesome socializing before agreeing. He didn't say it quietly enough though, because the next thing she knew, Ino and Kiba were chanting "SLEEPOVER" to anyone that will listen.

Hiashi looked like someone had just force-fed him a whole lemon. Himawari looked delighted.

And so here she was, staring up at Hinata's ceiling while 11 main characters snooze the night away.

Kumo's not going to break in tonight, she thinks to herself. No one is that stupid. They'll wait until tomorrow or abandon the attempt altogether. Everything will be fine.

She closes her eyes again.

Everything will be fine.

She opens her eyes again.

It's not like I need sleep or anything.

She closes her eyes once more just in time to hear the bedroom window sliding open.

Oh shit.

Shikako freezes, stuffing her chakra into as small a ball as she can. Then she waits, trying to track where the intruder is without her eyes. He's really hard to sense even though he's in the same room. (Is this how he got into the Hyuuga compound at all? A really well-hidden chakra presence?) Still she can tell he's hovering, surveying the room before grabbing the burbling stream that is Hinata and...the pop rocks that is Sasuke.

The Kumo ninja is not supposed to grab Sasuke! Nothing happens to Sasuke until the Massacre! Abort mission, abortabortabort!

Beneath the rising panic, something else uncurls inside Shikako's stomach.

Hinata might be her first friend. A strange man is taking her friend outside without permission. This is not allowed.

Shikako opens her mouth to screa-

(She's swimming through oil, she can't breathe, she can't tell up from down-

(She's tired, so tired, nothing bad will happen if she just takes a nap-

(Something's wrong, she doesn't want-

(Just go to slee-

(WAKE UP!)


Part 2 refused to put itself to paper, but basically Shikako wakes up and screams in transit. Kumo dude drops the kids from at least a story up. Shikako gets a broken ankle, Sasuke breaks an arm, Hinata takes a blow to the head. Passing Uchiha/Yamanaka patrol immediately engages, leaving the kids where they landed. Shikako composes herself first and tries to wake Hinata while trying to drag the two of them out of the line of fire. Sasuke then insists on being the one to drag because Shikako SHOULD NOT be putting weight on her ankle, jeez. They don't get far, though, because reinforcements rapidly arrive and someone, probably Hiashi and Mikoto, take the kids to the hospital while the Kumo nin is being subdued.

Of the kids, Shikamaru and Neji are the most upset and shaken (the girls were sleeping right next to them), but no one left in the room was actually hurt. Hinata had the most serious injuries of the lot, but makes a full recovery. Kumo dude was captured alive and Hizashi doesn't die for the greater good.

(The leak, if it happens, starts while the kids are in the hospital. Rumors originally only mention Sasuke, but it doesn't take long for Naruto and Shikako to be included in the gossip. The Dads' learn the hard way not to dismiss civilians as a non-threat.)

8/12/2016 #1,239
donahermurphy
Aw, I like tiny Shikako and Hinata being friends. Hmm... If Shikako's already shown so much care for Hinata, Hiashi's advice might be more along the lines of "I see you have made friends with the Nara girl. That is.... Certainly acceptable." Ooh- and Kiba? What's the likelihood of strange Blessings keeping Kiba from making friends with someone? Pretty much zilch. What's the bet Kiba wants want to ask Sasuke, Shikako, and Hinata ALL ABOUT the kidnapping? (Oh lord, I bet the clan kids actually have some interesting theories about why so many parents suddenly started treating Shikako and Sasuke weird around then. 'Kumo conspiracy theories' abound. (The kids are kidnap targets for their bloodline, the Raikage wants revenge for the previous failed attempt and no one wants their kids caught in the crossfire, the kids accidentally ate part of the Raikage's bijuu and now they're infected, the Raikage thinks they are the prophesizrd ones who will defeat him or his long-lost children, the Kumo ninja who tried to kidnap them was the Raikage's secret love and the two kids injured him too badly for their relationship to survive... Tsume blames Hana's genin team for most of the rumors, but clearly there's also someone stirring the pot for the heck of it. (Anko had a legitimate assignment to see how long it would take to pass a false rumor around Konoha, okay. She was acting under ORDERS.)
8/12/2016 #1,240
lilyoftheval5
Shikako's merely said, "You'll die again." This has yet to stop being disturbing to all parties in the know.

"You'll die again. Yawn."

8/12/2016 #1,241
donahermurphy
Shika sees it that morning, utterly flips, and founds/ convinces Ino to found "Daughter Inverstigating Expressions in the Alternative," a society (mostly of daughters and girls) dedicated to 1) figuring out what Shikako's mark says each morning 2)wriggling out of verbal loopholes and 3) making those alternate explanations comes to pass for his sister within the span of a day. "You'll DIEA gain," Shikako said dully. "Are you seriously- okay, okay." Pein still attacks the village, but Shikako is one of the few people that doesn't die. Shikamaru considers the mission an unqualified success. (Ignore that none of them are actually speaking English, or if you must, assume Shikamaru invented a similar organization with an appropriate title.)
8/12/2016 #1,242
MoonlitMelody

@donahermurphy: Hiashi totally approves of this friendship. His feelings on Sasuke are a little more mixed, but he admits that his reservations are rooted in traditional anti-Uchiha sentiment and aren't very rational. Kiba grows on everyone like a fungus, he kind of glues the party group together on a more permanent basis. Shikamaru knows all the theories and has empirically dismissed all of them as inadequate or nonsensical.

(Unrelated: I didn't even start this AU and I'm writing all of these snips, this is the most prolific I've been in YEARS.)

8/12/2016 #1,243
MoonlitMelody

Early Academy Era Blessings!Verse - this assumes the blessings were leaked between Kumo (age 3) and Academy entry (age 6). There are two parts, first is pre-Academy, second is self-explanatory. Warning: This is my first attempt at writing Naruto, and I kind of suck. Second warning: THIS IS REALLY LONG.


Naruto Uzumaki was well aware of how important body language was when talking to people. One misstep and a short trip to buy some instant ramen at the corner store could quickly become an emotional wreck of a shopkeeper and a hasty retreat back home, sans ramen. Naruto had no idea why this kept happening; watching other people shop and chat about the weather or village news hadn't yielded any answers. When no one knew he was around, everyone was just so relaxed. They teased and argued and sneered and laughed and sometimes even cried. There were so many facial expressions he only saw from behind trees and crates.

But the moment someone caught sight of him, everyone clammed up. It was so weird! All he ever saw directed at him were fake smiles or nervous grimaces or something that reminded him of fear but wasn't quite the same thing. He could count the number of people who relaxed around him one hand! So he did his best to make people comfortable. Naruto was really good at smiling, and there were so many different kinds! A close-mouthed smile wide enough to make his eyes crinkle was best for nervous people. Fake smiles were harder - sometimes that meant that the person disliked him, which was best answered with a small shy smile and being really nice. The almost-fear, though, that was REALLY HARD! And annoying, but he couldn't let that show on his face because frowning always made everything worse. The best thing for almost-fear was just consistent politeness, sometimes for days.

Naruto wasn't a particularly patient person, so he usually went with his second-best thing for almost-fear.

"YOU LITTLE BRAT, GET BACK HERE!" The baker tried to chase after him, only to slip and fall in the soapy water that had fallen out of the bucket Naruto had wedged above his shop door.

"LATER, OLD MAN!" Naruto shouted back, laughing as he dashed away from the scene of the crime. Judging from the baker's almost purple complexion, he had once again pulled off a successful prank. They were designed to get their targets into an irrational rage, after all. (Rage always overrode almost-fear, making it an acceptable alternative.)

The five-year old dashed through the market streets, dodging around the adults too slow to avoid him. No one tried to stop him or tell him to slow down. He ran all the way back to his apartment, where Rina-nee-san greeted him with a salad for dinner and a scolding for dropping a bucket on baker-san's head. Naruto moaned about both the vegetables (ugh, ramen was so much better!) and Rina's lecture (they were boring to listen to), but she let him have pudding for dessert and let him read her some of his chapter books, so he didn't mind so much.

---

Shikamaru rouses easily once the lunch bell goes off. He wasn't really asleep while Iruka-sensei was explaining the class rules; he was just pretending to doze, while he sized up his and his sister's new teacher. Iruka-sensei seems okay, at first glance. He didn't hesitate when he called out Kako's name, and he hasn't been paying her any special attention. This is probably his first Academy class based on his age, so any extra nervousness is probably generalized. Overall, Shikamaru is cautiously optimistic about the man.

After pretending to shake off sleep for a moment, Shikamaru grabs his sister's hand and their bentos before leading the way outside. Iruka-sensei might be okay, but he's also boring, and they're going to be Academy students for the next six years. That's literally his entire life up to this point, and he's going to spend most of it listening to lectures about things he already knows. It's inhumane.

Kako doesn't seem terribly excited about school either, but she doesn't look as pained as he feels, and she's calmer than she was last night. He'll take good news where he can find it.

It takes him seconds to zero in on Chouji and not much longer to guide Kako over to the tree he's sitting by. He likes Chouji a lot: he's a good listener who doesn't talk his ear off and doesn't mind Shikamaru's cloud watching. He also doesn't gawk at or avoid Kako, which is a must-have in any friend.

The twins settle against the tree trunk, Shikamaru between Chouji and Kako. Chouji already has his bento and a bag of chips out, which he shares with both of them. They have maybe five minutes of nice, blissful quiet before Kiba spots them.

"What are you guys doing over here?" he asks, hands on his hips. "Were you hiding?"

Shikamaru glares. Kiba's too loud to deal with right now, and now there's no way he'll leave them alone.

Case in point, Kiba doesn't even wait for anyone to answer him, dashing back across the yard to grab more people. In less than ten minutes, the Inuzuka and his ninken come back with the entire gang except for Neji, who doesn't have recess with them anyway.

Shikamaru privately mourns his quiet lunch as Ino and Kiba (with Akamaru seated in his hair) plop down in front of him. The two of them quickly launch into an analysis of their teacher and classmates, albeit from very different angles: Ino notes that Iruka-sensei could benefit from a calming lavender soak while Kiba questions loudly why this one boy two seats to his left smells so strongly of cat pee. ("I bet his mom is a cat lady. Such a pity, there's no saving him.") Chouji skillfully directs his attention to a conversation with Shino while Sasuke draws Kako and Hinata into another story about his brother's latest fire jutsu, all of which leaves Shikamaru with no escape in sight. Maybe he should ask his mom about homeschooling in place of the Academy if this is going to happen everyday.

He tries tuning out his "company" by watching the other kids on the field. No one is approaching his group, which is both aggravating and entirely unsurprising - kids always avoid them, but they especially avoid Kako, Sasuke, Shino and Hinata. Shikamaru still hasn't figured out the reason for this - at least, not a reason/combination of reasons that explains all four of them satisfactorily. Shino, at least, is easy to explain with his Kikaichu, while Hinata is the heiress of a Noble Clan known for being strict and emotionally remote. Sasuke is not the Uchiha heir, but he is second-in-line, which might explain some of the avoidance...but only some. Given the choice, kids and adults associate with Hinata more than Sasuke even though Sasuke has the less intimidating title. He might have attributed the attitude to people being generally weird around the Uchiha (Fugaku-oji-san also got odd looks in the street). Except other Uchiha also avoid Sasuke or treat him with too much respect. Then there's Kako, whose situation is more like Sasuke's than Shino's or Hinata's which makes no sense. Kako isn't part of an intimidating clan and she's not clan heir. She doesn't enjoy the extra attention (neither does Sasuke, to be honest). There's nothing strange about her at all except for being smarter than most kids, which is simply not a strong enough explanation.

Kiba is of the opinion that it's all a conspiracy connected to Hinata's birthday party three years ago, but Kiba's an idiot and his "theories" don't make any sense. (His sister IS NOT the secret love child of the Raikage, and he'll punch Kiba if he mentions that particular idea again.)

Almost being kidnapped by Kumo should make people more protective anyway, not more avoidant. The timing is the only reason he doesn't dismiss the idea outright - he has vague memories from earlier of shopping with his mom and not dealing with random adults staring at his sister.

In the field, almost two dozen kids are splitting themselves up for a game of ninja. Shikamaru can spot Youburin Nohara from here (no one from his group would be joining them, he dismissed Chouji last year and his friends are the kind to hold grudges). The boy was talking to another kid in an orange shirt with bright blond hair. Shikamaru couldn't see the blond's face, but Youburin looked uncomfortable from what he could see. Something else was said and the blond barked out a laugh before turning around and heading to the sidelines. Everyone already there moved to give him plenty of space

Shikamaru narrowed his eyes. Maybe it was coincidence.

A poke in his right side had him looking at Kako, who was also looking at the blond with a little frown. She glanced at him and raised her eyebrows in question. Do you mind?

Shikamaru made a show of yawning. Whatever, it's fine.

Nodding, Kako turned to the group at large. "Hey, do you guys want to play Ninja?"

"Hell yeah! I want Hinata-chan on my team!" Kiba shouts as he jumps up.

"R-really?"

"Yeah, you're great at Ninja!"

"Dog breath, you can't have Hinata on your team. She's on my team."

"Sasuke-kun, you always have Hinata-chan on your team!"

"So?"

As everyone splits into teams, Kako grabs Shikamaru's hand and walks over to the blond still watching the other game. They get within two feet before Kako looks to him with wide eyes. Help, I don't know how to start.

Shikamaru doesn't even sigh. "Hey," he calls out, poking the kid in the back of the head.

The boy squawks before swinging around, watching them both with sharp blue eyes. Suspicious of six-years olds, weird. "Yeah?"

"Do you want to play Ninja? We have an odd number of people."

Based on the look on the kid's face, Shikamaru would swear that someone just offered him a full box of dango. "You want me to play? With you?!"

"Uh…" Shikamaru is already having second thoughts.

But Kako isn't. "Yes, you can be on our team."

"COOL! YEAH, I'LL PLAY! WE'LL DEFINITELY WIN, DATTEBAYO!"

Oh god, it's another Kiba. Kako looks bemused at the kid's enthusiasm, but she's already starting to smile. Unless the kid messes with her later, she'll probably induct him into the group. Shikamaru is doomed, he'll never have another quiet lunch for the rest of his life.

(Later when Naruto tackles Sasuke to the ground and Sasuke accidentally elbows Naruto in the eye in retaliation, both boys freeze with identical dumbfounded looks. Shikamaru knows that Sasuke isn't used to people running into him and not tripping over themselves to apologize. Apparently neither is Naruto. And because Naruto may be touched in the head, he decides that the most appropriate course of action is to continue brawling with the Uchiha while grinning like a loon. Kako watches them with a strange mixture of horror and amusement and Shikamaru resists the urge to groan. Naruto's going to be sticking around, he can tell. And now there's another person that others act weird around, how troublesome.)

---

Details that didn't make it into the story/may be unclear/are really just my own headcanon: Rina-nee-san is Naruto's foster sister/nanny/governess. She doesn't have a lot of legal authority over Naruto, but she looks after him and lives in the apartment with him. It's my Blessings!Verse compromise for getting Naruto out of the orphanage. Rina is a career genin employed at the mission desk who is the sister of a chuunin that married into the Uchiha. She gets a cushy stipend to look after Naruto and is encouraged to keep in contact with her married sister.

Naruto still wants to be Hokage because a) the Sandaime is one of the few adults that treats him normally and b) he wants to have some control over how people see him. People admire the Hokage because of what he's done and is doing, not because of...whatever people see when they look at Naruto. (He's thought about other careers, too. Police officers are cool.)

Shikamaru likes Kiba in the most reluctant way possible and has no idea why Shino hangs out with him. Shino and Kiba don't really know why either. Sasuke recognized early on that Hinata cleans house in all playground games and has called Eternal Dibs on being her teammate. Ino runs interference on all unwanted attention including Sasuke fangirls. (This will cause problems later on when Ino tries to introduce her new friend Sakura.) Naruto and Sasuke's friendship is built on mutual brawls and hurled insults (because no one else is brave enough to be that rude to them, and it's become a bit of an inside joke/ritual). Shikako, on the other hand, does best with casual, friendly, non-violent contact. Chouji thinks his friends are hilarious and sometimes swaps his chips for popcorn.

Neji is not jealous that he's in the class year above his friends. Not at all. Anyone that says otherwise will be challenged to a spar that they will lose.

Uchiha PR is all sorts of weird at this point. On the one hand, the Military Police, while still mostly Uchiha, has been officially mixed and is seen in a pretty good light. Fugaku, either personally or through Sasuke, has connections with the clan heads of Konoha's major combat ninja clans. On the other hand, Sasuke is a controversial figure. In several cases, Fugaku only has clan head support - the majority of the Akimichi, Yamanaka and Inuzuka, for example, are wary. The Nara and Hyuuga are more likely to hold their ground (Kumo, plus Shikako for the Nara). And the Aburame will do whatever the hell they want, regardless of public opinion. Among civilians, Sasuke is not popular. Within the Uchiha, he gets negative attention from people comparing him to Madara and positive attention from people comparing him to Madara; Fugaku would much rather everyone stop making those comparisons, thank you. There's still the Kyuubi attack in the background, Tobito off in the distance, and Danzo scheming in the corner.

Yes, at some point, Fugaku became Fugaku-oji-san in Shikamaru and Shikako's heads. He's been playing shogi with their dad for six years now, it was inevitable. Later, Naruto will adopt the same nicknames. Mikoto cries the first time he calls her oba-san.


Edit (so I don't triple post like a nub): So I'm thinking about the Massacre and plot and the Balance of Power among the nations...and I don't know if I should let Konoha keep Itachi and Shisui in reserve. Both of them are set up to peak in power pre-Shippuden and neither are the type to let Orochimaru-shenanigans unfold like anything close to canon/DOS. At the same time, canon/DOS Uchiha Massacre just doesn't make sense in Blessings!Verse. The Military Police is in the middle of a mass overhaul, the clan head has political allies that won't turn on him without concrete evidence of treason. Why would Blessings!Uchiha plan a coup? (Not saying every Uchiha is satisfied with the status quo, but a coup is a very Final Solution.) If there's no coup, Danzo has no good reason to pull anything and not be executed in the aftermath. The end result of which is that Itachi never does The Thing and stays in the village.

But I don't want him in the village - he steals too much attention from Sasuke and his peers.

...how angry would everyone be if I killed off Shisui and Itachi around the time the Massacre would have happened? Because I have an idea for Itachi, at least, and Shisui does run afoul of Danzo in canon/DOS...

8/12/2016 . Edited 8/12/2016 #1,244
MathIsMagic

Moonlit! These are awesome! Thank you! I have to go hop on a plane, though. More comments tomorrow! :D

8/12/2016 #1,245
donahermurphy
Aw! So cute! I think I like Shikako and Shikamaru's nonverbal communication best, but Kiba was just hilarious. :)
8/12/2016 #1,246
Ttran2323

I just love the idea that they all sort of just adopt each other as secondary family members. And then adopt the parents as well. The Mikoto crying one gets to me especially since she was probably supposed to be Naruto's godmother had Kushina lived and whatnot. And now she's got all these new kids who look up to her. Even the one she never thought she'd ever get the chance to connect with.

And Hiashi gets a lesson on how family works and is a bit less of a jerk. Helped especially since Hizashi lives I think?

Same thing with Sasuke's family.

God the idea is just adorable in my head.

8/12/2016 #1,247
Faithk

Awesome snippets! I love how tight knit a group the Rookies and Neji are so early in the timeline. As for Itachi, one alternative is his illness. Once it starts to really act up, he's probably taken off active duty. Konoha medics are good but even they can't cure him, just treat the symptoms. So Itachi and Shisui go on a quest to find Tsunade. Maybe his treatment ends up taking a while. Maybe Itachi manages to convince her to take him on as an apprentice in medical jutsu (only medical, leaving room for Sakura to become her apprentice later on). Either way, he's out of the village for a while.

8/12/2016 . Edited 8/12/2016 #1,248
ByeByeBriar

Or, Itachi's illness doesn't show up until later because he's not a missing nin and actually has access to medical attention so his illness doesn't show up until later and instead of Naruto and Jiraiya going to find Tsunade to offer her the Hat, Team 7 goes after her to heal Itachi.

8/12/2016 #1,249
MoonlitMelody

*warm fuzzy feelings directed at everyone*

Hiashi and Fugaku are just like "what do I even do with all of these small humans, I don't know what to do with my own small humans." Hizashi is alive and amused.

It's super adorable! I'm going to have to kill some people off later to remind everyone about how the world is cruel. Or maybe not. Ehhh, it's a fanfiction of a fanfiction, who knows.

You know, I forgot about Itachi's illness? (And the cause and the symptoms and everything else about it?) That...would seriously mess with his family: talented and much-loved eldest son who is now terminally ill and might leave his younger brother as the controversial clan heir. Not to mention all of the actual feelings involved. Oh man...that might be enough angst to justify not killing him LOL


(This is not a proper snip, but I just had this in my mind.)

"So, how did I do?"

"...Sakura, if I introduce you to my friends, they are going to reject you, guaranteed."

"Wha?! But why?!"

"What's rule number one?"

"Treat everyone like a person, not an object or a symbol or an idea."

"Uh-huh. And tell me, why do you like Sasuke?"

"Because he's Sasuke!"

"..."

"...oh."

"Yeah, oh. Sakura, Sasuke hates getting attention he hasn't earned. He's not a particularly charitable or forgiving person, either. You need to make a good first impression, and that means not immediately telling him how cool he is."

"Maybe this isn't such a good idea-"

"I didn't say that! They're my friends, but so are you. You'll get along great! You just need to dial back the enthusiasm a bit."

"O-okay. I'll try."

"Great! And don't worry, I'll introduce them one at a time so you don't get mobbed. Starting with Shikako, she's very easy to get along with."

8/12/2016 #1,250
Star of Courage
Awwwww! So precious!
8/13/2016 #1,251
MoonlitMelody

*stumbles back in* This is the last thing for a while. Warning for large time skips between sections.

I tried to write Itachi. I don't know that I succeeded. But have a gander, comment if you care to.


Post Kumo Incident (probably a few months)

Neither of the Nara twins particularly like Itachi. This doesn't bother him much - he can't be liked by everyone he meets - but it does bother Sasuke, who counts both children as close friends. So Itachi makes an attempt to get in their good graces. By asking up front why they don't like him.

(Itachi doesn't much care for subtlety in his private life.)

"I don't like you because Kako doesn't like you. I don't know why, and I don't care."

"Do you often allow your sister to shape your opinions on people?"

For a three-year old, Shikamaru does an admirable job of looking unimpressed. "Kako is good at knowing good people from bad people. If she doesn't like someone, then they're not worth liking."

Itachi has to admit, that makes a strange kind of sense. It would be hard to like someone that Sasuke dislikes. Shikako is also a very observant and savvy child. "And if she stopped disliking me?" he asks nonchalantly.

The boy narrows his eyes. "If she chooses to like you, then I might like you."

Itachi nods. "That's reasonable, thank you."

Having gotten an answer from the first twin, he tracks down the second the next day. Shikako, as usual, tries to shy away from his company, but he can't allow her to escape as usual. He keeps his voice calm and quiet as he asks why she doesn't like him.

For a minute, he's afraid she won't answer, retreating into herself to wait for someone (probably her brother) to come over and chase him off. He doesn't like distressing her, but he honestly has no idea what he's done wrong in the first place. He can't help if she doesn't tell him.

Maybe something of his sincerity shows in his face or body language, because Shikako finally looks up. He knows from watching his brother's friends that while Shikako Nara prefers not being the center of attention, she can and does handle herself well in social situations. She's shy, not timid; he's seen her out-stubborn Sasuke, which is not a feat to be taken lightly.

Shikako looks at him with a disconcertingly knowing look. "If you can answer a question correctly, I'll stop avoiding you."

"That's....that's fine?" Itachi didn't mean for that to sound like a question, but he's a little discomforted. Shikako has a talent for putting people on edge and keeping them on their toes. He wonders if she's aware of it, sometimes.

Completely seriously, she asks, "If someone threatened to kill your brother and said they wouldn't if you hurt him instead, would you?"

What. "What."

"Would you hurt him, would you make him hate you, if someone told you it was the only way he would live?"

"What brought this on?" Why would you ask me this? It takes all of his focus to stay calm, to not threaten the strange little three-year old in front of him.

She's tense - he's definitely scaring her now, damnit, he didn't mean to - but she continues to meet his gaze. She's waiting for his answer, he realizes. This isn't some sick joke; Shikako wants an actual answer to her very strange question.

What made her think of this?

He wants to say he would never hurt Sasuke, that he would never allow him to come to harm, that her question is stupid, terrible and unthinkable.

But she clearly cares about his answer. He can't just dismiss it entirely.

"I would keep my brother alive, no matter what." Wounds heal, and Itachi...as long as Sasuke is fine, Itachi's feelings don't matter.

Shikako's face falls, as if his answer is wrong.

And suddenly, Itachi is angry because it's such a stupid question.

He says so. Out loud. Because even though he's a genin he's still only nine years old, and nine-year olds get angry about stupid questions, and the question is stupid, and there's no way a situation like that would happen because Itachi would never allow anyone enough power to threaten his brother like that, and he would never let Sasuke be killed or get hurt because of him, and why does she think he would just be okay with any of that?! Does she think so little of him that she wonders whether or not he would just take something like that lying down? Because he will not, thank you very much.

His anger flees as quickly as it arrived, leaving him both embarrassed and terrified because he just exploded at a three-year old. He's a genin, a shinobi of Konoha, heir of the Uchiha clan, and he just-

She's smiling at him. For the first time, she's actually smiling at him.

What even.

"Good answer!" she cheers, patting him on the side, as if didn't just leaking killing intent into the room and scream in her face. She quietly excuses herself to go find her twin and leaves him alone with a polite bow and a wave.

"What," he says to the empty room, "just happened?"

(Later, he'll mention Shikako's question to his family, looking for some clarification as to what happened. His parents look appropriately disturbed, but Sasuke only frowns slightly.

"Nii-san, clearly the right answer was to say no to the question," he says, apparently confused that Itachi isn't following three-year old logic.

"Why didn't she make that an option, then?"

"...nii-san, you're missing the point."

"There was a point to that?"

"Shikako always has a point," Sasuke states with the conviction one might expect of a scholar proclaiming that the sky is blue.

...maybe it's a Sage thing. Itachi nods, conceding the argument to his strange little brother.)


Post leak, Blessings are a well-known open secret

Itachi will never understand the clansmen who spurn his little brother. Intellectually, he knows that many Uchiha see Madara as a disgrace, traitor and madman all wrapped up in one frighteningly powerful package. He also knows that a partially-overlapping proportion of Uchiha see Sasuke as the next Madara. That said, Itachi is of the opinion that a good portion of his clansmen are both criminally stupid and secretly blind if they see Sasuke as a disaster waiting to happen.

Sasuke is, at all times, the brightest person in the room. He's brilliant, yes, but he's also capable of a love so deep and pure that it leaves Itachi speechless. It feels like he'll never be good enough to deserve his brother's affection and admiration, but he's always had it (and he always will, as Sasuke has assured him on multiple occasions). To compare this child to a man who stole his brother's eyes and tried to destroy his family and village is the greatest insult Itachi can imagine. Fortunately, Sasuke isn't often exposed to such talk; Father has made it abundantly clear that he won't tolerate such slander against either of his sons. Itachi is all too eager to echo his Father's stance in this.

(Though sometimes Itachi will entertain the thought that maybe Madara - the child, not the madman - was a bit like Sasuke. Maybe he was too brilliant, too bright and full of love for a time when Academy-age children routinely met their ends on the battlefield. Madara once had four brothers and went on to outlive them all. What would have happened to his little brother if he'd lived in a world without Mother or Father, where Itachi died young in a pointless war and where his village and clan looked at him with suspicion and fear? Would Sasuke have ended up like Madara, alone and broken?

It was a horrifying thought that Itachi doesn't dwell on for long. Sasuke is not Madara, never will be Madara. Sasuke will be a great man, a good man, and Itachi will make sure he knows he's not alone.)


Meeting "Madara"

The man in the mask is definitely NOT Madara. Clearly, he's lying, and one of these days Itachi is going to find that sick bastard and make him regret ever taking that name.

(Sasuke is not Madara, either, but it's still enough to make Itachi want to shove that mask down that bastard's slanderous throat.)


Yeah, my headcanon for this Itachi is that he DOES NOT LIKE Tobi. At all. Itachi is really slow to hate, but he might hate Tobi by the end of things.

The Post-Kumo Incident also has some Blessings rumors already circulating, so Shikamaru is already showing shades of cynicism when it comes to people interacting with Shikako. Plus, not putting effort into liking people Shikako doesn't already like uses less effort and is overall less troublesome to deal with.

Shikako's POV in the Post-Kumo snip: You know what, f*** it, fine, we're going to break character here and give Mr. Brother-Complex a Secret Test of Character. If he fails, maybe he'll leave me alone. *after he passes* Maybe there's hope for you yet. I'm actually slightly optimistic about this- Oh look, it's dinner time! I wonder where Shika got to.

(I can't write Shikako either, sooooorrrrrryyyyyyyy.)

8/13/2016 #1,252
MathIsMagic

Ah! Moonlit! It's great! And I think you did a good job with Itachi. Love Shikako's question - and the correct answer.

Shika's attitude here actually gels really well with a headcanon I had been playing with. Specifically, that people are paying way more attention to Shikako's slight reactions to people/things she knows from her past life. To them, though, the obvious reason for her uncanny ability to pick out friend from foe must be an extension of her blessing - some sort of 'intuition' or even vague feelings of foresight. Because, from their perspective (adding a few form my head space):

1. Anticipates the Kumo was going to try something - specifically something at the Hyuuga compound - and justifies her unease with logical argument someone her age shouldn't have been able to put together from the information available to her, even though nothing was wrong with the logic itself.

2. After the kidnapping, two Anbu are stationed in her hospital room. By rights, she should have been most comforted by the Yamanaka - because, sure, masks and such, but there's no hiding the blonde ponytail that's so like her Uncle Inoichi's. Yet, she behaved warily towards the Root agent, seemingly deciding the menacing stranger, Kakashi, was the one she should turn to.

3. There's nothing else big like that for a while, especially once Shikako start withdrawing a lot, folding under the weight of the Village's stares. So, when Shikamaru comes home the first week of school and says Iruka-sensei is boring, but nice, and that he thinks Shikako is scared of Mizuki-sensei, Shikaku quietly has an investigation opened into the chunin. When he finds evidence of treason, he goes directly to the Hokage rather than sending agents himself, because the man needs to be brought in, but the reason an investigation was opened in the first place can not get out.

4. Kako is definitely wary of Uchiha's Itachi and Shisui, which is odd since she gets on so well with their beloved Sasuke. And then one day she just... is fine with them. Likes them a lot, even. Shikaku's about ready to suspect some sort of foul play, when Fugaku brings up Shikako's odd test question at their next shogi match. Shikaku very carefully doesn't react. Fugaku notices the non-reaction, but also knows he won't get anything if he pushes. So he just warns Shikaku that the man better share any information that could threaten his family. Shikaku says, "Of course. Luckily, I think this one sorted itself out on its own."

(Shikaku's the one that pushes for Kakashi to teach Team 7, thanks to the Anbu thing; Danzou's pushing reaaaal hard for some of his own people. After graduation, Kako's 'intuition' becomes more noticeable, to those who know how to look. She instantly figures out the Bell test. She picks up on talents - like Sakura's medical skills - before the person themselves can discover it. She identifies future allies like Haku and Gaara across battle lines. At the chunin exam, she marks Kabuto, and Orochimaru, and spreads that information to her friends as best she can - in this world, Konoha's watching her too, though, and note the two suspicious Konoha and Grass entrant. When Tsunade takes over, Shikaku and Kakashi have to fill her in on the unwritten policy that is 'Trust (but verify, this IS a ninja vilalge) Shikako's instincts.' So, when Shikako tells Gaara, like it's a fact, "You'll be a great Kazekage!" Tsunade makes sure her diplomatic plans take that into account.)

8/13/2016 #1,253
Voldecourt

I had the exact same headcanon, Math! Having an uncanny intuition bordering on foresight explains Shikako's quirks perfectly, and isn't as insane as Reincarnation Who Remember This as an Anime, so it makes sense that that's the conclusion adults would reach. I'm pretty sure I've read quite a few KHR SI's who use this excuse, because crazy intuition is a power in that world. Your #3 brings up some interesting problems for the story though. Without Mizuki how will Naruto graduate and learn his signature shadow clone jutsu? It is forbidden, after all. That's a butterfly that Shikako may not want to flap, so she may tell Shika to keep quiet, if she realizes he's noticed her unease.

8/13/2016 #1,254
MathIsMagic

I think, specifically, the technique he picks up is mass shadow clone jutsu. Plenty of people know regular Shadow Clones.

I had thought about that, when I was contemplating writing something for this head canon. I figure there are a number of ways Naruto still gets the jutsu, from of infiltrators Kako wasn't aware of (Mizuki wanted that scroll for Orochimaru, right? Certainly he would have found someone else to pull something similar.), pranks/other incidents gone wrong, to Kako simply mentioning to Kakashi that Naruto sure has a lot of chakra, if only it didn't take him so long to make each clone... So Kakashi, who knows of the jutsu, at least, goes and request permission for Naruto to learn it. This kid is Hashirama, and an Uzumaki and a Jinchuuriki all in one, so there's really no good reason to refuse him.

But yeah, in general, I imagine we're all thinking "Shikako's reactions to people are somewhat inexplicable, so, with all these people actually watching her, someone has to try to come up with an explanation for it.

8/13/2016 #1,255
Voldecourt

Yes I looked it up on narutopedia and you're right. I would think the regular Shadow Clone technique would be forbidden/hidden as well though, because the only difference is the number that you make, and by learning one you know how to do the other. Anime logic isn't always the best, haha. But it's not like Shikako remembered all the specifics of how the jutsu works, so she may still be worried. Actually from the way she acts in DoS, barely remembering that Naruto was supposed to fail and that he somehow becomes a ninja and learns his signature technique, she may not even remember that Mizuki is a traitor at all. Or she may not remember the name or face, and a human face is going to look different from an animated face besides. He was a pretty minor character after all.

8/13/2016 . Edited 8/13/2016 #1,256
MathIsMagic

Yeah, but remember, in this world, Shikako's part of a matched set with Naruto. If Mizuki's not trying to skeevily suck up to her, he may be trying to manipulate her too. Which both she and her brother are too smart for. Consciously or not, I can't see her not being like, "This guy is trouble," and I can't see Shika 'reporting' on her bad feelings to their dad being a 'thing' enough that she thinks to keep him from saying anything.

8/13/2016 #1,257
Ashen Author

In Vapors by ElectraSev5n the SI/OC sidesteps the Mizuki incident by teaching Naruto to make water clones. I can see Shikako asking around if anyone could teach Naruto an elemental clone (or learning Earth Clones and teaching him herself), "or are there any clones that just use a lot of normal chakra, 'cause that would be perfect for him, and if Rock Lee graduated with no ninjutsu I don't see why Naruto should be held back because of only having 2/3" she could mention to her father.


Also, in the prophecy Blessings, I'd love to see what people think about the things that blindside her. Shikako isn't surprised by Orochimaru, the Invasion, the Sound Four… but The Land of Snow, and Gelel take her totally off-guard. Especially with the latter one involving her death. Twice. How would people look at that?

8/13/2016 . Edited 8/13/2016 #1,258
donahermurphy
Maybe they notice she's better at things that either happen in Konoha or START in Konoha?
8/13/2016 #1,259
MathIsMagic

"Ah, of course. Because the Sage's blessing has always been a part of Konoha, even before there was a Konoha; Indra and Ashura are the progenitors of our founding clans, Hashirama and Madara created us as the first Ninja village, and now these three are clearly here to do something big for us. It makes sense that she would be most in tune with the threads of fate tied to us."

-Someone's rationalization of the trend Dona pointed out, I'm sure

8/13/2016 . Edited 9/8/2016 #1,260
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