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22 February 2011 @ 09:00 pm
[Fic] A Study of Flowers  
Title: A Study of Flowers
Characters: Touka, Hashirama, Tobirama and Mito
Pairings: one-sided Touka/Hashirama and Hashirama/Mito
Genre: Humour
Rating: K+
Notes: Gift for nthcoincident 's birthday. It's not the Izuna/Touka I keep promising you but hopefully it's okay.
Summary: What Touka's childhood might have been like.

 
This is the way it begins. A girl drops the bucket of water she's carrying on a boy's carefully-tended garden. They struggle to save the seedlings together but cannot. Apologies come thick and fast.
 
Or maybe it started before then. A boy knocks a girl over as he races for the gate and his returning father. He doesn't stop to apologise.
 
Probably it began even earlier. A man presents a girl who can barely stand to the clan head. His sons peer curiously at her and she stares back fearlessly.
 
Touka isn't sure. As far as she can remember, she's always known Hashirama and Tobirama.
 
She dogs their heels as a child, following them everywhere she can. They scramble up trees and she stands at the bottom, waiting for them to come down. They disappear off to the practice areas and she follows them, watching them train. The sounds of her childhood are the rustling of leaves and the thud of kunai or shuriken. It's a comforting rhythm.
 
There are other children she could follow of course, the Senju are numerous after all, but they don't interest her in the same way. Even at that age, she knows Hashirama and Tobirama are different to the rest.
 
It doesn't take long before people start referring to her as their shadow.
 
When she grows, she grows fast. The height difference is still there but it's not as great. Soon, they start paying attention to her. They fit her hands around blunted kunai and shuriken, teaching her how to throw them. They correct her stance roughly, hitting her feet lightly when she moves them.
 
They teach her how to use exploding tags and give her some of theirs to practice with. She spends the following week blowing up targets until they run out.
 
She learns to read and she tries to make her own exploding tags but they blow up in her face no matter what she tries. Eventually, Hashirama sits her next to him and guides her through the sequence needed. She makes him a hundred for his birthday in order to thank him, spending hours writing and rewriting them.
 
She casts her first genjutsu when she is seven. It's a simple auditory one, used for distracting enemies. By the time she's nine, she's inventing her own, increasingly more complicated, ones.
 
Puberty is marked by the realisation that she's hopelessly in love with Hashirama. Unfortunately, that comes coupled with the realisation that he is hopelessly in love with Uzumaki Mito. Naturally, Touka hates her guts and naturally, no one wants to listen to her detailed explanation of why Mito is clearly an Uchiha in disguise because why else would her hair look so perfect all the time. Hashirama composes haiku to it, for the Sage's sake. (No one would ever write poetry about Touka's hair. She's never even had a 'it looks nice' before.)
 
Her first battlefield is a hazy mess in her mind. The war with the Uchiha had taken a turn for the worse and she's put on a recon squad which gets assigned to scout an enemy position. It's going well until it isn't and where did the fireball come from. She doesn't remember much after that, only flashes. Captain's determined face, yelling orders in a desperate attempt to regain control of the situation. An Uchiha breathing out almost lazily, a perfect fireball escaping his lips. Ryo flinging kunai like they would never run out and maybe they wouldn't, she'd heard some interesting rumours about a secret jutsu. Above all though are the eyes. Red eyes whirling, studying, analysing, copying.
 
Much later, she becomes aware of Mito's pale face hovering above her. She notices distractedly that Mito's perfect hair isn't so perfect now which is good because all the Uchiha had definitely had flawless hair especially the youngest one (and wasn't that such a trivial detail to remember) so if Mito's hair was less than pristine, she couldn't be an Uchiha in disguise after all. Somewhere in the middle of this, she realises she's hugging Mito and not crying, and Mito's hugging her back awkwardly. She murmurs something about Mito's stupid perfect hair into her shoulder and Mito giggles even though it makes no sense but that's all right.
 
 
 
nthcoincident on February 22nd, 2011 10:54 pm (UTC)
OMG
AOFJAOIFJ I saw this on my f-list and was like FOUNDING OF KONOHA FIC? IS IT REAL? W-WAIT, IT--IT'S FOR ME! and then I clicked on it so fast my finger still hurts. You are amazing and also possibly psychic; this is exactly the kind of thing I would have wanted to read today &hearts I have literally nothing to give you about this that's not squee but that's...expected, right? I mean it's not like I would have read this and reacted normally and sedately or anything.

I have very little headcanon about Ms. Senju Touka except that she eventually hooks up with Izuna, but it makes SO much more sense for her to be infatuated with the clan heartthrob, because honestly, if Hashirama were real, who on earth wouldn't be infatuated with him? Especially as he is here, so considerate and thoughtful even towards a very peripheral person.

And your Touka, oh, your Touka--so observant and fierce and passionate without coming off as grating or abrasive, which is something 99% of writers including myself aren't able to pull off when doing this kind of female character. I love her overwhelmed account of the battlefield (TOTALLY OVERANALYZING BIT OF TRIVIAL DETAIL RE: IZUNA'S ADMITTEDLY FETCHING HAIR) particularly the sharingan eyes. But by far my favorite thing about the way you've characterized her is setting her up as a counterpoint but perhaps eventual friend for Mito, which makes me sigh contentedly about the prospect of these two frontierswomen being a support to one another while their husbands and brothers and lovers are engaging in acts of stupidity or what have you. Female friendship during the founding of Konoha! WHAT AN IDEA FIC-WRITERS PLEASE TAKE NOTE.

Suffice it to say, I adored this. Totally amazing birthday present &hearts And, um, if it's okay, I will be stealing snippets of characterization and scenes for the monster Tobirama-fic I've been writing for um four months now and am hoping to finish by the end of the week. I haven't been satisfied with my Touka and kind of want to take yours for a spin :D
Laurellaurelsblue on February 22nd, 2011 11:37 pm (UTC)
Re: OMG
Hah, so kind! Ever since I got the notification that your birthday was coming up, I tried to bash that Izuna/Touka arranged marriage fic I've been working on into shape but Touka refused to cooperate, mainly because I didn't have a clue who she was and she knew it.

You were incredibly right about the role/personality thing. As she doesn't have either, I decided to give her a role (Senju bros' kid sister) and hope the personality would follow.

The Touka/Hashirama thing wrote itself practically although it makes a lot of sense. I think probably the only one who wasn't in love with him was Tobirama. If I hadn't been running out of time and fed up due to having to retype the last two paragraphs, I would have done a bit where she realises she still loves him but she's not in love with him any more.

I have no idea what the observations during the battle are about apart from fleshing that bit out more. I think I felt it made sense because genjutsu experts are all about noticing details. Also, it seems like the sort of thing that might happen in that situation. Plus it was the only way I could shoehorn Izuna in.

It took me a while to work out what her relationship with Mito might be but it fell into place once I realised she must have crushed on Hashirama.

Mito/Touka friendship sounds fun. It probably helps that their respective specialities have enough differences that they wouldn't be in direct competition.

Feel free to! I'm incredibly flattered that you would want to.

Off-topic but I want to write a detailed, ~scholarly~, meta-fic about the founding one day. You know, how the Uchiha agreed to the truce because it was interfering with their ability to take missions and make money and how Konoha was a revolutionary idea to pool resources. Or something. I've seen that sort of thing in other fandoms and it's always interesting.
nthcoincident on February 23rd, 2011 12:10 am (UTC)
Re: OMG
:D That was possibly the most useful piece of writing advice I ever got out of my writing seminar! Looking back on my favorite pieces of minor-character fic I see that they did the same thing, starting with either a role or a personality and extrapolating. It worked so well here! She's not some kind of aggressively focused equal or neglected waif; she's just a typical kid sister, and given the hyper-masculine ethos of the Super Senju Bros. that seems just right.

*glibly taking character notes* I'd just kind of shoehorned her in as someone who literally exists only for the purpose of snarking at Tobirama about his creepy unrequited obsession with Mito, but that scene where Hashirama is teaching her to write exploding tags is just adorable. So much love for that. Also not on topic at all but later tonight look out for your Yamato + Kushina fic; it was among the first batch of fic-snippets I tackled and I'll post them tonight after going to dinner &hearts

I WANT TO READ THAT! The whole Edo period melodrama aspect of the founding five is really fun and mostly easy to write, but I want to see some political machinations too. Whose POV would you write from? Anyone but Hashirama would be really cool, I think--and even he'd be cool, just HARD *_*
Laurellaurelsblue on February 23rd, 2011 03:24 pm (UTC)
Re: OMG
It's pretty easy to make her either of those and I nearly fell into that trap. I think giving her a relatively normal, good childhood (for someone who grew up when and where she did) is important. It allows her to serve as a counterpoint to the founding five who almost certainly had very atypical and difficult childhoods.

Actually, I nearly had her and Tobirama sabotaging Hashirama's attempts to spend time with Mito. Hashirama would keep passing it off as siblings being siblings and Mito would just just nod because she's an only child like most Uzumaki. Touka would be raging inside at that because she doesn't want him to see her as a sister any more and Tobirama would be mad because Mito doesn't notice how clearly Hashirama is making stuff up.

I'm just rambling but it comes up a lot with long-lived races/groups in fantasy, the idea that they must have a low birth-rate and I think it makes sense for that to apply to the Uzumaki. It would explain how easily they got wiped out at least and why no one seems to have heard of them. I guess Mito's an only child and probably doesn't have many peers which makes her childhood a lonely one and why a friendship with Touka would be important to her. ...Not that this is particularly relevant to this piece.

I was kind of basing that scene (and most of the story really) on the way I see the kids interact at church and particularly on one time when a toddler kept wanting her (eight-year-old-ish) brother's attention and finally he put her on his lap. It was one of the most adorable things ever.

Thanks! I'll look forward to it.

Ah, none of them? I was thinking it would be someone in the future (maybe a couple of decades from the present in canon) writing an essay on it. Something like Konoha: An Economic Necessity or A rethinking of the Senju-Uchiha truce and its consequences. That sort of thing.

Although writing political machinations would be fun. It makes me sad sometimes that political issue fic seems to be confined to The Massacre and Danzo when there's so much more out there.
nthcoincident on February 23rd, 2011 08:04 pm (UTC)
Re: OMG
Exactly. The only purpose served by writing about Touka is as a counterpoint to either the founding five or Izuna in particular, or else she's just kind of an indulgent OC.

Re: long-lived race my lame headcanon about this is that the longevity is more of a technique than a bloodline limit, in particular an extension of the age regression seal that Mito and Tsunade both wear. Particularly since Mito wears the seal but apparently allowed herself to look old, so I assume the seal has another purpose. Also so much has been made of the Uzumaki not possessing an innate ability/bloodline that it makes me sadface to think Kishi would retcon that :(

I am not going to write the whole essay on Mito that I generally write in these discussions but generally (and I think I'm alone in this) I like to see her characterized as more of a scholar and independent agent than an extension of a bloodline clan; one of the things I loved about her introduction was that she voluntarily sealed the kyuubi--this is a degree of autonomy and strategic thinking we have seen in only a few characters so far and absolutely no women, so I must admit I get enraged that 99% of Mito-fic is about her as a PAWN OF HER CLAN ARRANGED MARRIAGE SACRIFICE TO SEAL ALLIANCE TREATY ETC. and ignore that unique agency. In this manga so far we've seen (vaguely) feisty women and learned women and strong women and kind women but no smart women, and Mito's role in the founding and as a seal expert, not to mention that Hashirama went out of his way to cultivate relations with such an apparently untalented clan, provides a lot of evidence for a clan of scholar-shinobi. Which my nerd self finds super amazing, but in my head is the reason people don't know about them. "We study stuff and come up with ways to seal annoying things" isn't very exciting as far as ninja street cred goes...

/whine whine I AM SO SORRY for ranting

Some random student or bystander POV, that would be actually really amazing. I wrote a ficlet about Mito listening to her daughter give a report about Konoha's founding but it'd be cool to hear about things like the dichotomy between Uchiha and other versions of history etc. WRITE THIS SERIOUSLY~

So true re: Danzo/Uchiha massacre. In actuality the processes of truce and concession would be more interesting to read about, the compromises made and stakes and alliances set up.
Laurellaurelsblue on February 23rd, 2011 08:44 pm (UTC)
Re: OMG
I'm not too clear on the exact nature of the longevity thing. It could easily be either to me as some things which seem like they must be bloodlines (i.e. Deidara's extra mouths) are actually forbidden jutsu. And of course we don't know that much about sealing other than it can do anything Kishimoto wants it to (like fix plotholes).

What, red hair's not a bloodline?

It is? Really? Why? I got the impression that the clans were close enough that marriage to seal an alliance wouldn't be necessary. Maybe it worked differently in Japanese history but my impression from English history was that marriage to seal an alliance was only necessary when the involved groups/families really hadn't got along before. Sure, I might be able to picture an arranged marriage as a result of the Senju/Uchiha truce but an Senju/Uzumaki alliance?

The Uzumaki just wouldn't be worth it.

I can picture them like that now you mention it. Given that, it's surprising that they lasted as long as they did. Building a clan around seals and books just isn't practical in that era. They probably weren't completely wiped out though because of it. You might be able to find redheaded librarians all over the ninja world.

I will try! /has never written anything like that in RL

Seriously though, it's a wonderful way to world-build. Outsider POVs are amazing because you can nitpick so much.

Although the potential implications of choosing to have only one child in the ninja world are interesting but I won't go into them.

But that would lack UCHIHA ANGST.
nthcoincident on February 23rd, 2011 09:43 pm (UTC)
Re: OMG
Yeah, who even knows what seals do at this point? :D It would be awesome if you could use them liberally to seal things other than beasts and people; seal illness, blight, etc. That could also provide another possible explanation as to why they live so long.

NARUTO MISSED OUT :(

No, see, you are operating on the mistaken belief that most fanfic writers apply their real-world knowledge in reasonable ways. History and logic both dictate that what you said is the case, (in fact one of the reasons I like Izuna/Touka so much is that it would have been a perfect match to make a difficult alliance) but why think of it that way when you can exploit arranged marriage (which people seem to forget is a real cultural institution, not the random romance bludgeon they seem to use it as) to give people unnecessary angst? Fandom is borderline offensive sometimes :( But yeah, all the Mito-fic I've read is a) she and Hashirama had a torrid love affair (when would he have TIME?) b) she was sent to Konoha to cement alliance or c) she was sent to Konoha to seal the kyuubi (this makes less sense than anything because at the point she was there, no one knew that was going to be an issue).

Even if she were sent to make an alliance (although yeah, I don't think the Uzumaki were really worth it, given their admittedly lame technique) I can't see the Senju throwing away their trump card on some passive hillbilly clan; maybe Mito would be given to Tobirama but not Hashirama. Hashirama's wife was basically always slated to be a queenlike ruler in her own right. I'm sure the Senju would have chosen accordingly and maybe even disapproved a little once the marriage was made. Whether Hashirama actually loved her or made the marriage as a sort of business deal is also open to debate in fics but it seems like it would have been much more complicated than either of those given Madara, the kyuubi, the fact that she presumably saved his life, etc. The more I think about her, the more amazing she seems...which just makes her even worse to write; one always runs the risk of making her too perfect.

Why is the founding of Konoha so much more interesting than canon right now? Just...why? I am so glad you write about it and like it, you have no idea &hearts

You might be able to find redheaded librarians all over the ninja world

I LAUGHED IRL. May have to write crackfic about this /scribble

Potential implications of choosing to have only one child in ninjaland? Do explain, I love hearing about things like this. Kishi has various issues but his worldbuilding is a thing of beauty. The only thing I can think of is that you're pretty much setting your bloodline up to die out...

There was so UCHIHA ANGST(TM) at the founding. Madara's ~hesitance at the time of truce is so beautifully done, as is his epic strop in front of his clan about...whatever he was talking about, I don't really know.
Laurellaurelsblue on February 23rd, 2011 10:32 pm (UTC)
Re: OMG
They missed a good opportunity early in the series. The use of seals to save Neji's life was fascinating in retrospect but naturally never brought up again.

It would suit him.

Admittedly, most of the fans who write that sort of thing are probably not from a culture where arranged marriages still happen but it's a disturbing amount of ignorance on their parts. Sure, arranged =/= forced but love in that situation takes time. (Although at least their ignorance should prevent them from attempts to include historical customs involving the wedding night (such as everyone watching).)

I really wonder who Hashirama's wife might have been. Just thinking but the Senju must have had factions because they weren't united by a bloodline like the Uchiha. Maybe the wife of the head/heir would be chosen to appease particular factions or to solidfy the ruling faction's power. Now that would be interesting to explore. What does his intended bride do after being rejected like that? What does her family do? So many unanswered ~questions~

It involves less asspulls? I didn't see anyone mention it in the chapter discussion but the Kyuubi couldn't have eaten those ninja because it would have been sealed in Mito at that point. Kishimoto fails so hard at timelines. Or is trying to suggest Mito's a cannibal, idk.

I WOULD READ THAT SO MUCH.

You've actually hit the nail on the head there. Choosing to have only one child is incredibly arrogant/stupid. Basically, you're putting all your hopes in that child which would be fine if you weren't a ninja. It doesn't come up directly in the series but it's easy to extrapolate that genin must have a high mortality rate, especially in wartime.
There's so much that could go wrong but you've assumed that your child will survive. Another thing that doesn't come up in the series is how many ninja must end up with crippling/permanent injuries. Sure, your child's alive but they can't lead the clan with a leg missing/no sight in one eye/etc.

I think it's significant that the two bloodline clans we see the most of, the Hyuuga and the Uchiha, both have 'spare' heirs. They almost have to after all.

Yeah but he's OLD. Probably over THIRTY and everyone knows you stop having sex after that. (No joke, I've heard stories about people who really think that.)

Probably how the Senju were all out to get them as usual.