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There is no fate.

Shikako believes this to be true–knows it is true, needs it to be true–because how could she exist, otherwise?

Because, if fate did exist, then what would that make the person who changed it? Either there is no fate, or there is and Shikako has diverted it.

No matter what the civilians think–of her and her teammates who took on bijuu and the human monsters that tried to control them–no matter the whispering she still sometimes hears when she closes her eyes and sees the ghosts of stars in her sleep, she is not a god.

She needs this to be true.


Planets change over time: continents shifting and mountains rising and oceans receding. Shikako knows that once the Land of Fire was more volcanoes than forest, Land of Wind was not always a desert, and even the continent of the Elemental Nations was not configured eons ago the way it is now.

She knows this from the past and so it is no surprise that something holds over from it. Mostly, the disbelief that humans existed before the planet had rearranged itself.

The Book of Gelel is old, the Empire of Gelel existing even before the Sage of the Six Paths which is–in the eyes of shinobi history, a very long time indeed–but the book speaks of even older civilizations who themselves revered an ancient race as gods.

Or, rather, goddess. One who saved the world from famine and war and pestilence and death.


Even if she were willing to ask the question, the only two jinchuuriki with whom she would be comfortable with asking are themselves not close enough to their bijuu to ask. Not with Shukaku gone insane in captivity and Kurama still so bitter and angry from being passed down like a family heirloom. Or a slave.

No, Shikako cannot ask Gaara or Naruto to pass on the question, and so there is no way she can get the answer.

It’s not as if she can ask Shukaku and Kurama directly.

And anyway, she doesn’t really need them to tell her about Kaguya Otsutsuki. Not when the whispers in her sleep already speak of that mistake and their redemption through Shikako.


Shikako learns how to be a sage not from the deer summons–who themselves do not have the knowledge–or from Jiraiya–who has an obligation to Naruto above anyone else–or even from the Fire Temples as suggested.

No, as with many things, Shikako learns from a book.

Well, a book and a stone.


Sometimes the whispers follow Shikako when she is awake, but only as flashes of thought. Nothing that would distract her during battle or put pressure on her already busy mind.

No, there is danger in offering too much all at once. They have learned that lesson the hard way.

But sometimes, Shikako will catch sight of her teammates, hear that flicker of thought, and wonder at the incongruity. Because no one would look at Team Seven and single out Sasuke as chaos. And only those who have not spoken to Naruto could ever consider him a weapon.

Kakashi is dangerous, yes, but never to her–and yet the whispers turn into a brief scream of fear and calamity.

It is better if she does not look.


Here is the problem with stories: they are only ever a possibility. There is no real ending in life and so stories, with such a brief glimpse into a world, cannot contain the entire truth.

Stories can be lies, and vice versa.

Stories can also be lessons.

Like an object in motion, at any given point in time, either its velocity or its position can be observed. But not both.

Shikako feels like object and observer and does not know yet what it means.