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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I was thinking more the second type, both for hilarity and duets... possibly it also works with crowds/backup singers if its a 'big' enough song.
12/6/2016 #2,761

*cuts away to the Senju Konoha choir* (*and the Uchiha duets*)

These are a capella - who's doing the beat-boxing? I'm torn between Shino or Kiba.

What genre does everyone sing? Who's busting out the Grammy bait?

12/6/2016 #2,762

Oh my god, Moonlit! That was awesome! Can we talk about how much I am here for Batman!Kakashi slowly picking up kids and orphans like ducklings, holding them close and being protective of them, but still somehow convincing himself that he's some solitary loner of the night? Like, basically just this:

math-is-magic. tumblr. com/post/147173747720/thisisbitti-if-i-may-say-so-sir-superman

Yes. This is a good AU. (Braces for the sad AU you mentioned.)


Edit: (Oh god. There are so many. But these all totally apply to Kakashi in this world.)

math-is-magic. tumblr. com/post/147198280355/myteaplease-insp

math-is-magic. tumblr. com/post/152659899590/questbedhead-that-feel-when-u-just-wanna-be-a

math-is-magic. tumblr. com/post/147173696885/tmdrakes-god-bruce-u-cant-just-adopt-every-kid

math-is-magic. tumblr. com/post/146530509275/justiceleaque-batman-has-the-most-asocial

12/6/2016 . Edited 12/6/2016 #2,763

@Math I didn't even realize I was writing Batman!Kakashi - all I thought about was how Tobirama "adopts" six students in canon and there is a clear cute-students trend.

But Batman!Kakashi. Batman!Tobirama. I need to invest more time into this, this is the best idea ever. Where has my prose gone?! Headcanon dumps are only going to get me so far!

(Glad you liked it, and thanks for the links! Batfam is always a joy to find.)

(I'm really not writing the sad AU, sorry. Too much sad kills my momentum more than usual.)

12/6/2016 #2,764

Yes! Write more batman!Kakashi and batman!Tobirama.

Did you have somewhere specific you thought that tension would go, or were you just generally thinking, 'Shikako and Izuna hate and distrust and sabotage one another, then the massacre happens and its worse, especially if Izuna ever finds out Shikako knew it might happen.'

12/6/2016 #2,765

Basically exactly what you said: Izuna doesn't talk, Shikako doesn't talk, Massacre happens, Shikako can't talk, Izuna mentally checks out.

Think of Shikako's fears when considering talking to Sasuke and multiply that by 100 since Izuna doesn't even like/trust Konoha in this version of events.

A non-cooperative Izuna also poisons the well with Kakashi (and Naruto, but not as much), and non-cooperative Shikako is wary of building her relationship with Sasuke. Worst case scenario, Team 7 falls apart more spectacularly than canon. Which is saying something because canon Team 7's breakup involves Naruto almost dying. Yeah...

More fluffy note: I'm imagining that after Sakura starts medic training, Kakashi actually goes to his doctor appointments on a consistent schedule. Most of the hospital staff are flabbergasted and kind of concerned because is this a sign of the apocalypse? The few who know thank the gods that Kakashi finally "adopted" a medic into his weird little squad of kohai - they've had to restrain him more than once to prevent escape attempts.

Also, if Kakashi is Batman and his students/kohai are the Batfam, that means Gai is Superman - the friend in spandex who is too nice a person to really exist and who's faster than a speeding bullet.

12/6/2016 #2,766

GAI IS SUPERMAN. Oh man. Why would you put that in my brain.

(Asuma and Kurenai are Green Arrow and Black Canary. Oh my gosh. I can't unsee this.)


Ooh. I hadn't even thought through how it would affect Team Seven. I was kinda thinking, "Aw this might cause a rift between Sasuke and Kako, because now even if she wants to tell him, she can't, because then Izuna would lose it." But you're right, the problems would start much earlier. Like, from introductions, even.

Because Shikako knows this Kakashi isn't like canon Kakashi. THIS Kakashi has let people in - has let Naruto and Sasuke and even Sakura in. And she, who doesn't even belong here, has accidentally slotted into Sakura's place. This isn't just messing up canon, this is messing up the team the other three probably wanted. Perhaps she even tried to befriend Sasuke, early on, as a peace offering to Izuna, but Sasuke-who-hates-Madara shuts that down because normally-ignoring-him-Madara is actually interested in the girl, so there's a worse history there.

So the team is introducing themselves. In canon, Shikako already feels like the boys don't care about her at that point, so she doesn't say that her dream is to be special. But here, she has a Sasuke that dislikes her and a Kakashi that's being told by his soulguide not to trust her and Izuna throwing mud in her hears about her failures and his hatred, and 'I want to be special' is less a passing thought and more a true desire. "I want someone to care about me," she could say, but instead she says, "My dream doesn't matter," and has that statement confirmed by her team's wariness and disinterest.

At the bell test, Shikako immeidately offers the boys her bells because she thinks Kakashi's testing their teamwork, but there's also the thrill of fear that Kakashi will use this opportunity to take the team he really wants. How easy would it be for him to tell her, at the end, that she fails, then take on the two apprentices he really wants, and maybe even add Sakura to that mix, to fill out a full team, once he's 'done his duty' by at least pretending to test the team he was assigned. Kakashi's not one to care about politics; he wouldn't care that he's snubbing the jounin commander's daughter, and she wouldn't purposefully play that card anyways.

The dynamic on the team is different, too, because Naruto and Sasuke and Kakashi all have each other already. There's much less for Shikako to do. She feels she's neither needed nor wanted, and she knows one day these three will be spectacular - will be godly - and she just feels less like she belongs in this world than ever.

(Why would you do this to me, Moon. Look what you made me do!

Um. I can fix this!

So, they still end up on the wave mission. They still end up fighting the battle on the bridge. But Kakashi chooses to tag-team with Sasuke. It's no question at all for Shikako to step between Naruto and Haku's attack. He's not supposed to be aiming for the kill, but how can she take that chance? What is her worth, compared to the main character's? The few people she's allowed to love live in Konoha; they need Naruto to survive to save them all.

She's almost disappointed to wake up. Izuna sneers at her, but Tobirama has finally cottoned onto the fact that she's not the Izuna he remembers; she's just a young girl - one whose self-esteem he and Kakashi have helped destroy until she was suicidally selfless less from any Will of Fire, and more from her own confidence issues. Kakashi-who-has-Tobirama-and-Rin-to-guide-him is muuuuuch better at helping his student through her mental health issues.

Then Team Seven feels and healing get to start, and they all become the family they were meant to be.)

12/6/2016 . Edited 12/6/2016 #2,767
@ MathIsMagic -

GAI IS SUPERMAN. Oh man. Why would you put that in my brain.

(Asuma and Kurenai are Green Arrow and Black Canary. Oh my gosh. I can't unsee this.)

- Lee would be Shazam - a 10 year old superman fanboy who gets powers similar to Superman's (and an adult body).

12/6/2016 #2,768

(Note to self: check Crossover thread to see if anyone has made the Justice League connection that's just begging to be made.)

Noooooo, I didn't mean to! I mean, your scenario is so plausible and good, but it's too sad! Quick, someone bring back nice Izuna who just wants this small Nara child to be happy!

("I want to be special" will never not make me sad. Oh my god, I wish someone had addressed that directly. Well, more directly than her self-sacrificial tendencies have been addressed so far.)

Operating under nice!Izuna parameters (because I NEED Shikako to have a soul bro), Sasuke-who-hates-Madara is still an important point to focus on. Sasuke would likely be wary of everyone on Team 7 because good or bad, anyone that Madara notices is suspicious. Is the enemy of my enemy really my friend in every circumstance? Is is a good thing that Madara automatically doesn't like Kakashi? Is it a bad thing that he does like Shikako? And what the hell is up with his hot-cold reaction to Naruto??

Further complications from whatever happens on the Massacre side of things. For example, Kakashi becomes a much more present person in Sasuke's childhood if Itachi is still around, so Sasuke would have his own non-Madara opinions of the man. And fast friends or not, Naruto and Shikako are Sasuke's classmates for years - does he just avoid them for that long? I mean, he does mostly avoid everyone during the Academy, so totally possible.

(I've always wondered how Tobirama and Madara coexisted for as long as they did. That relationship must have been...interesting for all parties involved. Probably also very dependent on avoidance.)

Complete agreement on Shikako feeling like she's replacing Sakura and - depending on childhood meetings that may or may not happen - Kakashi's cool reception of Shikako. Oh man, your rendition of the bell test hurts my heart - Kakashi-Shikako is my favorite of the Team 7 bromances. I can only say that a nicer Izuna would be in full pep-talk mode and doing damage control. (Girl has some serious self-confidence and self-value issues, Izuna's gotten a disconcerting amount of practice in Therapy-no-Jutsu.)

Your version of Wave is perfect and I'm not changing it. (Wouldn't that be a wake up call to Tobirama - the first time he killed Izuna, it was a life-or-death battle in the middle of a war. The second time it was a little girl who almost died because she saved his brother - which wouldn't have happened at all if he could just get his head out of his ass.)


I really need to dedicate time to figuring out what's up with Sasuke and Madara, now that I'm thinking of worldbuilding. "Sasuke-who-hates-Madara" is only the tip of the iceburg - Madara essentially has foreknowledge that compliments Shikako's and no initial motivation to act on it. That's a can of worms I may regret opening.

12/6/2016 #2,769
Oh my god, BOTH Shikako and Madara with a sort of foreknowledge. Madara because he planned out so much of it, Shikako because... she can see the future. Or something. Apparently. (Imagine Shikako not knowing MADARA is Sasuke's soulmate. ...Imagine Madara noticing Shikako jumping to all the right conclusions. And messing up his plans. Like hey! Shikako's warning that Fuu girl! That's treason against the village! (Not that that's why Madara cares.) And Gaaras super friendly with her-bet she warned THAT jinchuriki too. And look how nosy she is with everything related to Rain. Argh, she's nice and all, but why does his little brother's soulmate make such a nuisance of herself. Argh. (Wonder how Madara reacted to Itachi hitting Shikako with Tsukiomi, while Itachi is working for the organization Madara cooped. Or ordered Obito to co-opt and corrupt, I guess.)
12/6/2016 #2,770
Ok but given that.... Madara is her soulmste. Shikako is politely baffled.
12/6/2016 #2,771
"You're dead??!" "Thats generally what being a ghost means, idiot child." "Well... okay" *proceeds to ignore him*
12/6/2016 #2,772
Ok but given that.... Madara is her soulmste. Shikako is politely baffled.

Unstoppable force? Meet unmovable object. We'll just leave you alone for a bit to decide who wins.

Alternatively: Shikako looks at the guy in the mask. Shikako looks at the sketchy-as-fuck ghost she's stuck with. Shikako looks at the Fourth Wall. "I should have seen this coming. I really should have."

(I can't write Madara's character at all, I'm at an impasse. Noooooooo.)

12/6/2016 #2,773
I an HERE for Madara as Shikako's soulmate/guide! His snarky commentary (which, with time starts to include disguised teaching like 'that earth jutsu is embarassing even for you! This is how you perform a real earth jutsu:' would make my day...
12/6/2016 #2,774

Soul guides show up when you first start manipulating chakra. There is something about it's spiritual nature that causes it to reach out into the beyond when it is first used. Besides the physical effects, children are discouraged from using chakra until they are old enough to handle having a soul guide. Children are talkative and easy to kidnap. Better not let secrets get out. Of course, no one told Shikako this. One generally doesn't bother telling a seven month old.*

To say she freaked out when Madara Uchiha appeared directly above her while she was playing with her chakra was an understatement.

Yoshino and Shikaku burst into the room determined to skewer whoever had caused their daughter to start screaming bloody murder only to find the living room empty. The arrival of her parents only causes Shikako to freak out more. He is going to kill them. Madara is absolutely going to slaughter them.

The insane Uchiha looks down at her. His face is filled with disbelief that quickly transforms into anger.

"Unbelievable." The man sneers. (He is imaging that Harashima is somewhere, laughing his ass off.) Shikako is still screaming. "Will you be silent?!"

Shikako goes deathly quiet. Madara is pleased but Yoshino and Shikaku are not. The last time that Shikako went quiet like this was the Kyuubi Attack. Her father picks her up and bolts for the hospital. Yoshino is hot on his heels.

Madara spends the first day (ever) of being a soul guide watching an infant go through every test imaginable. Shikako spends it in a state of near panic, completely confused about what is going on. The doctors find nothing wrong but Shikaku watches his little girl stare at empty space and realizes what has happened. They still don't tell her what is going on. They don't think she'll understand. Fortunately, they discuss it with the doctors and Shikako is able to piece together what is going on.

She is confused.

Madara is trying to figure out if killing his soul will impede his plans. Child care is not something he wants to do. There is a reason he never had children.

*According to prologue, Shikako started to manipulate/poke her chakra before she hit one year. Probably poked it before the sixth month mark. I went with seven because according to canon, that's when Shikako's eyesight really developed. But the hilarity of Shikako slowly realizing that the black-hair-blob that has always followed her around is Madara would be entreating if anyone wants to give it a shot.

12/6/2016 #2,775

"Unbelievable," Madara spat, stalking around the confines of her bedroom. "Un. Believable. What a waste of time."

Shikako ignored him and kept reading her book. After intial panic there had come research and the bone-melting relief that ghosts were, ultimately, harmless. Not even in the most outlandish stories were there mentions of them ever being able to cause harm, or to talk to anyone but their host, or to use chakra or influence the world. Dangerous, sometimes, but only in the way that a charismatic speaker was dangerous.

At least this way she could keep an eye on him. Some times his reactions to things told her information she didn't already know - and that was useful.

"What's up?" Shikamaru asked, after her eyes drifted across the room a time too many.

"He's very impressed with the Academy," Shikako said glibly, ignoring the boiling kettle shriek that Madara let out at the misrepresentation of his opinion. "Thinks its a great development for Konoha. He thinks Tobirama was the best Hokage."

"Ah, more 'back in my day' stories, huh?" Shikamaru asked. "What a drag."

12/6/2016 #2,776

Bless you both. Madara's pain gives me life.

If we have Madara-Shikako, there's nothing stopping us from mixing up the old standby of Hashirama-Naruto, right?

I submit for the forum's consideration:





Naruto: I'm going to paint the Hokage monument!

Tobirama: And how are you going to secure yourself? What about paint cans?

Naruto: I made a harness, it has space for the cans.

Tobirama: That's inefficient. Here, I'll show you how to make storage seals for each color.

Naruto: Cool!

Tobirama: Just make sure that the paint is washable and that you give Hashirama fish lips.

12/6/2016 . Edited 12/6/2016 #2,777
Shikako 'lets make Danzo read Sailor Moon' Nara would 100% engage in passive aggressive warfare.
12/6/2016 #2,778
Jade Estrella

It's not like Ino didn't love Shikako, of course she did! Shikako was one of her best friends it's just......."Why is shikako poplar Shikamaru? I mean she has a stabs... stable living en-vi-to-meant and hasn't aiddered any trauma so she shouldn't have any cracks yet. Daddy says people get cracks as they grow up and live and if I see a kid with cracks I should tell him 'cause it means that something is probably wrong. But Shikako is my friend so I wanted to find out what cracked her myself. Only I can't figure it out. And your smart and she's your sister.... so why does Shikako have the poplar crack?"

Ino was quite proud of herself for remembering all of the fancy words from her daddy's lessons she liked the rhymes better but those were family secrets and good Yamanaka didn't reveal family secrets not even to Nara age-mates. But obviously her fancy words were too fancy for even a smart non-Yamanaka to understand. (She knew her clan was the best). So Ino decided to try again with tiny words so they could make it past Shikamaru's 'this-is-too-much-work-to-think-about' filter. Daddy had told her about that in the Nara section of clan lessons. Clan lessons were always more interesting than the academy....

"Shikako has a crack in her mind. It makes her act weird like all happy then grumpy and mad the next second. That's what a poplar crack does. What happened to crack Shikako?" Here Ino decided to flee to really drive the point home, "and why didn't you stop it?"

Shikamaru let out a big gusty sigh. (Nara sigh number five according to daddy. The one that means 'you have my attention but I am too lazy to look interesting in answering you') Finally! Shikamaru seemed to understand her question! A Yamanaka always succeeds !!!

"Kako was born hyper sensitive to chakra it made her instinctually reach out to it when she was a baby appareantly her soul guide is some old konoha veteran who thought telling war stories to a two year old was a good idea...... Dad yelled at the air for almost an hour when Kako told him why she was having nightmares... I guess that's why gave her a poplar crack."

Ino shivered as shikamaru's eyes suddenly turned very intense.

"What is a poplar crack again?"

cue chibi Ino and Shikamaru starting the great crusade to find the right kind of glue to fix Shikako's 'crack'. A Shikako that happily blames everything weird about herself on her soul guide. And an enthusiastic Ino who proudly diagnosis everyone she meets with different kinds of 'cracks' with her daddy's special ninja health papers that she stole from his desk. Isn't she a good little ninja. Later when Ino first uses chakra in her big-ninja ceremony her new best friend forever agrees with her. Accept it isn't forever because when Ino turns into orochimaru-Ino her best friend goes away (dies) (for Ino) (to save her from her stupid decision) and never comes back.

12/6/2016 #2,779

I'm convinced that if Madara is Shikako's soul guide than there is only one person that could possibly be Sakura's: Hashirama. Because it would be a perfect way of actually drawing parallels with Shikako instead of just shunting Sakura to the side and Sakura could really use someone that is just unendingly optimistic and doesn't want anything from her besides her being the best she can be. Because Sakura does have confidence issues and she doesn't get any real support until she becomes Tsunade's apprentice.

~ Madara!Soulguide~

Shikako watched the exploding notes go off in a chain reaction that was a sight to behold. She hadn't thought they would act like that. The teachers hadn't either if their shocked expressions were any indication. She knew that she should feel guilty but it wasn't her fault they weren't paying attention to her while they showed the other students how exploding tags worked.

Madara watches as another fireball envelopes a bush. He looks down to address Shikako.

"There might be some Uchiha in you after all."

12/6/2016 #2,780

Aw, that's kind of adora-

Later when Ino first uses chakra in her big-ninja ceremony her new best friend forever agrees with her. Accept it isn't forever because when Ino turns into orochimaru-Ino her best friend goes away (dies) (for Ino) (to save her from her stupid decision) and never comes back.

*mopes like Hashirama in a corner*

Edit: Every Uchiha is (not so) secretly a pyro. Yes.

12/6/2016 . Edited 12/6/2016 #2,781
Hashirama - Sakura would actually be fantastic.
12/6/2016 #2,782
I love this idea of Shikaku telling off Madara. I seriously do. ...I'm also pondering the idea of someone inventing a jutsu that briefly reveals Soul Guides. Maybe Orochimaru, as he's trying to test whether there is a correlation between a shinobi's inborn abilities/potential and their Soul Guide. (Suddenly Shikako's chirpy little "Gosh, my soul guide was just talking about how much he loved Tobirama as Hokage again. Apparently he actually got to seem him in action! He talks a lot about Tobirama- its clear my soul mate paid him a LOT of attention. And it's not just a distant admiration or appreciation- his feelings are quite... passionate." Madara: "What is WRONG with you, demon-spawn! Tobirama was the bar of-" Shikako smiles sunnily, ignoring him.
12/6/2016 #2,783

Thinking about @Math's post, I come at it slightly differently.

The team assignment comes as a surprise, as it did in DoS, but Shikako can't bring herself to outright back away. There's two conflicting impulses, between the opportunity to shape events and have a hand in the pot rather than be a helpless bystander (which is why she wanted to be a ninja in the first place) and the way this assignment is going to be, well, horrible to put up with.

The situation is, frankly, emotionally distressing. Shikako needs acceptance and validation from her team, because the team is the center of her life, because her teammates loom larger than life in her mind, and because she's already traumatized, scraped thin, and she doesn't have the reserves of emotional energy that she's going to need. The problem is, she isn't going to have a breakdown. That would ultimately be healthy, but Shikako cannot afford to allow herself to be seen having the issues assailing her because they tie in to secrets she absolutely cannot even hint at. She doesn't have privacy. She doesn't have an escape. And she has to put up a good face, because Shikako isn't allowed to be hurting without an excuse.

It's a long-term infiltration mission, essentially. Except she isn't fooling her enemies, keeping a tether to her loved ones at home in order to keep herself stable, she's fooling the people who should be her allies. So she acts, and acts, and acts, and eventually even the innocuous things add to the pile of bitterness and self-loathing that she's concealing. She has to value others even more highly, because she can't value Shikako and all of her baggage. It's a vicious cycle, where she has to invest more and more in her family, her friends, her comrades, or she'll just fall over and give up, and she can't abandon everyone like that so she has to keep moving, but every step in that direction worsens her internal issues.

And because she's investing so much into her relationships, the false front that she's putting up seems to have a life of it's own that she lacks. Shikako laughs freely with people, defends others with her very life, is valued and beloved, in a way that the real her isn't, can't be, doesn't deserve. Her dissociation with her body, and with her social identity, and even with Shikako as a whole, is reinforced with each passing day, but she doesn't have anything to fall back on either. She isn't the Girl From Before, she isn't the Shikako everyone knows, and she wonders if she's anyone at all.

But this doesn't poke through to the surface in ways that are identifiable. So she fights desperately to protect what is important to her, she strives to do right by her team, she tries to be helpful and...

And it does work. Really. Naruto approves of her, and reciprocates her attempts to connect with him. Sasuke stands aloof on principle and directionless anger alone, and those are overcome in the crucible of battles fought together and the slow understanding, which connects them perhaps more than Shikako believes, that neither of them have to be defined by the ghosts they carry with them. Kakashi does not trust blindly, but if nothing else he comes to understand that Shikako will not allow her comrades to die before her, and that is not something Kakashi dismisses.

But the dynamic is... different. Shikako is part of the team, is accepted, is cared about, but she's an outsider working her way in. She can't just take them home with her and make them part of her family, she has to cajole them into bringing her into theirs... and she can't commit to it as heavily as is really required because she can't believe that she deserves that treatment. And Team 7 doesn't think that she needs them to make the effort either, even though they're more capable of that in this setting. Shikako has a family that loves her and she loves in return. There's no motivating reason for them to take action.

Not even after wave, after she proves herself in truth for the first time. Wave brings acceptance, and comradery, and it reveals how far Shikako will go for others (from their perspective, at least, and what they see is nothing worrying, simply a true believer of Konoha's ideals). Maybe Kakashi will have a little talk with Shikako, make sure she's okay, but she will be. Of course she is, she's alive and the team is acting like they are her team even if she doesn't deserve it, and maybe she can do this.

The cracks start showing in the forest, the team alone beneath the trees against a god among men, when she takes the words that she needs to be true and stitches her pieces together with them. Ibiki has given her what she needs, and she makes it into a sword and slays the fear that drags her down so she can act, and if she bleeds in the process, it was worth it. It isn't enough, it changes nothing. Orochimaru is beyond them. But...

She kills them when they come, three little children dead for their foolish loyalty and the threat the made towards Sasuke. For the first time, Izuna tells her he is proud of something she has done. That she did the right thing. (It helped him to hear that, after his first kills, and he genuinely means it. But their relationship is not strong enough for him to be the right person to tell her that. A kind word can be a knife at times.)

When Sasuke wakes, she goes to him. The timing is a little different, and it is Shikako, not Ino, who he sees first. And he hates her for an instant, his issues malevolently rekindled and stoked, and he lashes out. Verbally, then physically. And she just... takes it. She apologizes for being taken out by Orochimaru before him, for not being able to protect him from Orochimaru's poison. She doesn't defend herself when he treats her as a proxy for his issues with Madara, someone he can lash out at effectively. And she just stands there and takes it when he escalates; she warns him about what the curse seal's chakra is doing, but she doesn't defend herself when he strikes her for the presumption. The crunch of breaking bone beneath his fists and the panic of Team Ten gives him a wake-up call, and he regains his sanity. Shikako tries to finish talking him down, but she's been brutalized and loses consciousness in the process, which freaks Sasuke out and convinces him that she has a point about the seal.

This event is very traumatic for Team Ten and Sasuke. Sasuke is going to have serious, serious issues related to this going forward. Shikako killed three people for him, and he mauled her for something that wasn't even her fault at all in repayment. This is anathema to Sasuke, to put it mildly, and Orochimaru's gift is utterly repulsive to him. And Shikako...

Shikako utterly fails to treat this like a sane ninja would. She puts on a good face for her father, and her report is perfectly reasonable, but Sasuke is seriously worried by her screwed up priorities. She just doesn't seem to care about what Sasuke did to her. She actually apologizes to him for upsetting him, as if she honestly thinks that what he said in his crazed state is his real opinion of her. And she offered Kakashi the chance to take her off the team for failing to keep her teammates safe, poorly concealing that she was almost in tears about it. Shikako isn't quite suicidal, but she's clearly having serious issues. Only she refuses to admit it, and these aren't 'major warning bells' issues. It's expected that Shikako is having some problems. It's a good thing she forfeited; she'll have a month with her family to rest, recuperate, and work on the next level of Nara jutsu so that she'll have some momentum moving her forward...

(You can see where I'm going with this.)

Shikako knows herself (though she objectively evaluates herself poorly) so she isn't going to have worse issues with the jutsu mishap. But here she didn't ask for Sasuke's training location, and she's rather clinging to her relationship with Naruto right now since that's the only member of the team she hasn't utterly failed recently, so it's Naruto who gets a glimpse of Shikako's damaged mentality and an explanation of the dangers of her clan techniques. And Naruto is free to follow up with Shikako more in the proceeding days. Suffice to say that it takes about a week of increasingly worried poking for Shikako to freak out and justify all of Naruto's concern in her efforts to assure him that there is nothing wrong with her, and she's really not worth all of this attention, shouldn't he be training with Jiraiya-sama instead of wasting time with someone so worthless, no she doesn't have self-esteem issues what are you talking about...

Jiraiya, for understandable reasons, takes Naruto's worries about Shikako's mental state very seriously. The good news is that she isn't another Orochimaru in the making. The bad news is that she has major, major self-image problems. It's Jiraiya who takes the step of discussing her sealing with her, because he stole, decoded, read and returned all of her notebooks without her noticing and knows that she has a lot of potential there, and if he can get her out of her rut and direct her attention to her strengths maybe she can start making some progress on her issues. (And it's an extremely useful skillset to have on a team with a Jinchuuriki, though it's cold to phrase it that way.)

He then promptly drops the entire situation on Inoichi's desk where it belongs.

Inoichi is rather... motivated by this revelation concerning his best friend's daughter. And so is Ino when she's recruited to help deal with the problem.

In this AU, Kakashi selecting Shikako to lead the team against Gaara is a purposeful vote of confidence. Ino makes her deference to Shikako clear when the time to decide the fate of the Sand Siblings comes, and Inoichi swings by the Nara household personally to take Team Seven's report and just so happens to compliment her judgement specifically while congratulating them. There is progress.

She still takes Tsukuyomi for Sasuke, and they wonder if she'll be able to pull herself back together... if she ever wakes up at all.

(But she does, and she breaks down in tears of joy when she sees that Sasuke is safe, and she did that, she changed something for the better, it's not impossible.)

She wakes up some mornings, and the sky is red and for a moment it's like she never left. But she protected Sasuke this time, and... and maybe she can do this after all.

12/6/2016 #2,784

Naruto's Soulguide~

The day Naruto learns about soul guides he rushes home after school to try to use his chakra. He fails of course. His chakra control is shit and he has no idea what he is doing. But he keeps trying. He tries over and over and he even pays attention in class to try and figure it out. It's failure after failure but he has to keep trying. If he just uses his chakra, he can get a soul guide. Someone just for him that will help him through life. Someone who will never ignore him.

Out of pure stubbornness, Naruto succeeds months before his classmates. The dude who appears is not what Naruto was expecting. Naruto had grand hopes about maybe getting a Hokage or his parent but really, he just wanted someone that will look at him and care. His soul guide does that and he's pretty cool. He is quiet and more than a little sad but he cheers up when Naruto does something good! And he's a completely badass ninja! Sure, he makes Naruto eat vegetables and pay attention to Iruka-sensei's lessons but he also shows Naruto how to kick ass! And he makes his lessons really interesting!

Naruto likes to boast that his soul guide is the best ever. He tells the other kids but they don't listen to him. He'll show them. One day he'll be Hokage at it will all be due to his Old Man soul guide's training.

Naruto doesn't talk about the other stuff. Like the stories, his soul guide tells him when he can't sleep. Like the way he reaches out to ruffles his hair even though they can't touch. Like the way, he tells Naruto he is proud of him. Naruto certainly doesn't mention that he cried the first time he was told that. Nobody has ever been proud of him before. Sure, Iruka-sensei and the Third care but, but Naruto knows he's a screwup. He knows that they know that too. Old Man doesn't care. He's proud of him anyway. Proud of the way that he's put up with the villagers especially. Naruto's not sure why that's so special. He doesn't care anyway.

Naruto takes that pride and works twice as hard. He trains twice as hard, pays as much attention as he can in class, pulls less pranks, does anything he can think of to be worthy of that pride. It's not much. But Naruto goes from Dead Last to Third-to-Dead-Last. His tests still suck and he can't preform one of the three basic jutsu but he gets better. His combat skills are to the point that he actually knocked out that Sasuke-duck-butt. Once.

It's not enough not to fail the exam.

When Mizuki-sensei comes to him afterwards with his 'secret test,' Naruto almost immediately runs off. But Old Man, digs in his heels and for the first time in Naruto's life looks angry. He's scared he's done something wrong but Old Man just tells him to go to the Hokage. Naruto does and Old Man won't leave him alone until he spills the beans to Oji-san. At which point, Naruto finds out that there is no secret test except there is kind of going to be one because they are going to spring one one Mizuki-sensei. The trap is set and Naruto acts as bait.

It's immediately goes down hill and Naruto has his first taste of combat. Also finds out that he is holding the Nine Tailed Fox. That, he almost does some bad stuff because of that but Old Man talks him down and Iruka-sensei is there telling Mizuki to fuck off and Naruto proves him wrong by beating Mizuki without letting the fox out. It feels good. Not as good as Oji-san making him a Genin based on this but nothing can compare to that. Well, Old Man's smile does but nothing else.

Naruto practically skips into Iruka-sensei's classroom to get his team assignment. He loves and hates his team. On one side, Shikako is his teammate! On the other, Sasuke-duck-butt is also his teammate. Really, he wants to call Sasuke something worse but Old Man does like it when he swears. It takes forever for their sensei to show up. Naruto goes to bobby-trap the door except Old Man frowns at him.

"It's not a good way to introduce yourself to your sensei by trying to trick him." He tells Naruto. Naruto pouts and returns to his seat. FOREVER latter, the door opens and what Naruto can only assume to be Team 7's sensei walks in. Naruto takes one look at the guy and blurts out the first thing that comes through his head.

"Hey! You look like my soul guide!"

12/6/2016 . Edited 12/6/2016 #2,785
As much as I love 'Shikako is suicidally selfless and dedicated to Team 7'... Shikako has a family and a system of support outside of her team, unlike the others. She wasn't actually ridiculously devoted to them until maybe post wave/chunin exams? So if her team was already close/rebuffed her you might be looking at a Shikako who is instead spending more time clan training, more of a solo fighter, or more loyal to the Nara.
12/6/2016 #2,786

Ah! You guys! Why did this forum have to come alive while I was in class! There's too much good, and such a roller coaster of emotions here! I can't even catch up. Y'all are awesome.

12/6/2016 #2,787

There is a post there is an intervention about Shikako state of mind.

"Kakashi, did you groom Shikako to think she worth less than her teammates?"

In that post, Kakashi is angry when is answers "Never".

But here? He could have been.

12/6/2016 #2,788

Needless to say, Kakashi hears those words and panics.

Not noticeably. He's a war-hardened shinobi who's been through enough Grade S fuck ups to know how to panic properly. He looks at the completely ernest son of Minato and Kushina tell him that his father is Naruto's soul guide and properly panics.

Aka, he tells the kids to go to the roof like he was planning on and disappears. Team 7 goes there and wait. For four hours. Naruto thinks that this is because the incredibly dumb reason that Kakashi's upset at Old Man. Sakumo mentions that he hurt Kakashi when he died but Naruto's just not having any of it. Shikako thinks that Kakashi's gone to the memorial stone. Sasuke has no clue what is going on but is wondering what it would be like if his father or mother was a soul guide for someone else. He too would need some time to collect himself.

They are all wrong.

Kakashi has gone straight to the Third. He argues. He pleads. He begs. He can't take this team. He can't teach them with his father's ghost literally haunting one of the kids. The Third is unmoved. Kakashi will take this team and test them or he can give up his forehead protector. The last bit is a dirty move but it works. Nothing else would have it Kakashi was being honest. He drags his feet to the roof and begins the most awkward introductions he has had in his life.

12/6/2016 #2,789

*wipes away tears* Tir, you rock. I was so worried at the forest part, I was getting ready to break out my reserve fluff. But then people noticed. Her team, her friends and mentors took the initiative and helped. I'm feeling warm fuzzies now.

And Briar, I'm slain. Sakumo! I love dad!Sakumo in any capacity, but this is everything Naruto needs in a guide and more. Ending on the Kakashi cliffhanger is devious. (I'm imagining this with Madara and troll (still concerned) Shikako in the background. Jeez, this team.)

Edit: Cliffhanger averted. This is even better now. Oh man, it's not nice to laugh at Kakashi's pain...

12/6/2016 . Edited 12/6/2016 #2,790
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