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#character study
Thank you so much 💜 my day was stressful and mentally taxing but overall it was fine :) i am so so flattered/flustered that you want to gift me something in return- i never expect anything when i'm penguin anon. And irl i'm trying to be better at accepting things from people. so if you really would like to gift me something here are some tropes i like: cas gardening (sorry i can't get away from flowers/plants!), dadstiel with baby or toddler jack, general domestic fluff, anything that explores cas & dean healing/character growth 💜 but i honestly don't expect anything in return for my hearts and flowers. They are freely given 💜💜🌻💜💜🌻💜💜
I’m sorry to hear it was stressful for you, dear. I’m glad that overall it wasn’t too bad for you, though. I hope this cheers you up? I’m a few hours later with it because I get distracted big time in research. Like figuring out that Dean was 22 when Shrek came out. Which had literally no bearing on this, but was fun to figure out. The hearts and flowers are more than appreciated. 💕🌺🌺💕
When Dean was four, he watched his mother hold his baby brother to the blooming sunflowers she kept in the backyard. Mom said they were called Sunriches. They were named that because they were like golden suns. Dean thought the sun was golden, but when he tried looking at it, the sun was just a bright, white color. Blinding. Dad said he couldn’t look at the sun without hurting himself, so he stopped trying.
What he could look at was Mom holding Sammy. He was only a couple of months old, but Mom was excitedly talking to him as if he could talk back. Dad said he wouldn’t be able to talk for a while. That didn’t seem to bother Mom. She was content to describe the flowers to Sammy. They were taller than Dean was. Mom said they wouldn’t get any bigger, but one day Dean would be tall enough to hold Sammy up to the flower petals. He looked forward to that.
Mom looked pretty in her dress, from Dean’s memory of the time. Her skirt swayed in the autumn wind in time with the petals dancing in the breeze. It was ethereal, like a princess talking to animals. Except instead of a squirrel on her shoulder there was a baby in her arms. Dean thought it looked like magic.
A few months later, when Dean was finally trusted with holding Sammy in his arms, he was running out of his burning home.
He didn’t think about the sunflowers they left behind.
Read more undercut or check it out on AO3!
Later in life, when Dean was flirting too close to a stable relationship with a reporter, he idly thumbed at the petals of the Suntastic Yellows. He remembered his mom telling him that they were the tiniest sunflowers. The type they used in bouquets. Cassie had a small pot resting on her windowsill.
Cassie’s hands drew around his waist from behind him. Humming into his neck, Cassie drew him backward with her. He thought about it in an absent sense, walking away from the sunflowers.
“You know,” she whispered against the shell of his ear, “they say that sunflowers track the sun all throughout the day.”
“Oh, really?” Dean smirked, taking her lips in his own. She was wonderful, really. Too wonderful. Wonderful enough that Dean thought about confessing everything to her. Cassie would understand. She was clever and understanding. Hell, maybe she’d even accept him.
It was too bad, then, that when Dean told her what he did—what he was—that she didn’t believe him. Dean wouldn’t have believed himself either. Walking away with his keys in his hand and his heart at his feet, Dean wondered if this is what it would always feel like. If he would always have to walk away from the place his heart was trying to make into a home. Maybe it was something about being a sunflower. Always tracking the sun throughout the day.
Too bad Dean couldn’t find the damn sunlight.
“Dude, look!” Dean grinned during another part of his life, pointing at some old lady’s front garden full of Taiyos. “It’s like Shrek.” He teased his brother, elbowing Sam who only rolled his eyes in return.
“Shrek? Really?” Sam scoffed. “How old were you when that even happened?”
Dean huffed a laugh. “What? You’re telling me you didn’t go watch the cinematic masterpiece known as Shrek with all of your college buddies?”
Sam rolled his eyes again, huffing with a shrug of his shoulders. “Sure, Dean. And then we watched Holiday in the Sun right after, too.”
“Never took you for a Mary-Kate and Ashley fan, Sammy.” Dean grinned, watching the sunflowers swaying in the breeze from the corner of his eye.
They looked peaceful in the witness’ front yard. Untouched by the grueling werewolf that was lurking through the small town. Dean could hear Sam’s sharp inhale from beside him.
“I always thought sunflowers were… homey,” Sam confessed, watching the sunflowers dance with a furrowed brow.
Shooting Sam a crooked grin, Dean stepped forward toward the sunflowers but he didn’t dare touch them. “I’m not surprised,” he began. “Mom used to grow them. She started taking you out into the garden as soon as you stopped crying all the time.”
Sam was silent for a moment, causing Dean to look at him with concern. It wasn’t often that Sam was quiet, but when he was it was always a contemplative silence. “I didn’t know that.” He spoke softly.
“You wouldn’t have remembered.” Dean shrugged, stepping onto the witness’ walkway to begin making their way up to the door. “These are a bit taller than hers were. But then again, everything seemed taller then.”
There was another moment of contemplative silence, but it seemed Sam had nothing left to say. He knocked on the witness’ door, taking care not to meet Dean’s eye. Dean wondered what that meant. Wondered if Sam felt the same way when he saw sunflowers.
Then again, Sam had always been larger than life. Tall and proud.
When Dean was on the aching side of forty, he watched Castiel hold their four-year-old son to the blooming sunflowers he kept in the backyard. Cas had been enchanted by the Little Beckas when he had seen them. While they might not have been the tallest—or the smallest—of sunflowers, he had thought they were lovely. Dean had made a quip about their halo and bought Cas seeds the same day.
Watching Cas and Jack reminded Dean of being four and trying to see what color the sun was. It was blinding, something he felt he should look away from lest it hurt him. But he found that he couldn’t look away. He didn’t want to. He just wanted to watch Cas answer every question Jack had.
He was beautiful, Dean often thought, but especially in moments like these. The cuffs of his jeans were muddied and his bare feet were buried in the soil where he sat with Jack in his lap. Dean hated how Cas refused to wear shoes outside, but he had claimed to like being closer to the Earth. Dean couldn’t argue with him. He wouldn’t argue with him; not for what made him happy.
Cas turned to look at him, catching his gaze and drawing him closer with just a look. Dean moved without hesitation, standing beside Cas and kicking at his knee with his booted foot. His approach drew Jack’s attention away from the flowers, who clapped excitedly the closer he got.
“Whaddya think, Jack? Do you like the colors?” Dean hummed, watching Jack’s gummy smile as the kid waved up at him.
“Daddy says that sunflowers face East!” He pointed enthusiastically, laughing and reaching for the blooms in front of him.
Dean frowned, looking from Cas to the flowers. “I thought sunflowers rotated with the sun or whatever.”
Cas hummed, tilting his head with a nod. “They do, in their youth.” He pressed a kiss to the top of Jack’s head. “But when they mature, the sunflowers learn that they get the most light during the morning hours when the sun has just risen from the East.” Bouncing Jack momentarily and causing the boy to giggle, Cas turned to face Dean. “They just learn what’s healthiest for them. It just takes time.”
Inhaling sharply, Dean wondered if this was it. If this was his East. Watching a smiling Jack and Cas whispering about sunflowers that—while not the tallest or the smallest—were a halo of colors. Two colors that came together, that never faded, that bloomed to life in this tiny garden he called home. He was a dark heart and a bright halo, smiling toward the bright, white sunlight of a gummy smile and clapping hands.
With a grunt, Dean lowered himself to the soil, sitting beside Cas and wrapping his arm around Cas’ shoulder. “These little guys are pollen-less,” he spoke to Jack. “That’s why we got the honeysuckles.”
“Honeysuckles stand for devotion.” Cas’ voice rumbled gently. “In the ancient Celtic alphabet, the symbol that the Ogham carved into stone to represent the honeysuckle stood for following one’s path.”
Dean snorted a laugh, shaking his head. “Sort of counterintuitive. Since, yanno, Free Will.” He quipped, raising a curious brow toward Cas.
Bowing his head in concession, Cas continued. “Yes, that is true. The Druids meant it more like… trusting one’s gut. Rather than sticking to the story.” He grinned, rocking with Jack in his arms for a moment. “But the honeysuckle is rather hard to kill. That is why it means everlasting devotion.”
“Deaths don’t stick, huh?” Dean hummed, squeezing Cas closer into his side. “Sounds like someone I know.”
Cas exhaled a laugh, resting his head atop Jack’s. “The Chinese valued the honeysuckle for its healing properties. It can be a cooling herb to remove toxins.”
Dean pressed a kiss to Cas’ cheek, keeping his lips there for a moment longer before pulling away. “Even if the honeysuckle can’t heal ‘em, the sunflowers like the company anyway.” He smiled softly, watching as Cas’ eyes turned dewy toward him. “And ‘sides, the honeysuckle brings all the bees to the yard.”
Snorting laughter that Jack joined in without knowing the cause, Cas shook his head. “I suppose so.” His attempt to suppress a smile made Dean’s own grin widen. “But the sunflower is more than enough company.”
“Damn straight,” Dean whispered against Cas’ lips, kissing him slowly and savoring the moment.
Between them, Jack made exaggerated kissy faces, causing them to pull apart and watch him with amusement. He grinned, reaching up and holding Dean and Cas’ cheeks in his palms.
“Daddy and Poppa sittin’ in a tree!” Jack sang, giggling as he smushed their heads together.
Mocking a frown, Dean held his other hand out behind Jack’s back. His palm felt so large in comparison to how small Jack was. “Did Uncle Sam teach you that?”
“Yup!” Jack nodded enthusiastically, head bobbing as he continued to hum the song under his breath.
Cas gave another chuckle under his breath, looking from Jack to Dean. “I suppose we should head inside. We're still expecting Sam and Eileen for lunch.”
Dean stood with a groan as his knees ached. He reached out a hand to help Cas and Jack up, standing tall with his family in their little garden. Keeping their fingers intertwined, Dean didn’t have to think about the sunflowers they left behind.
They would be there as long as the sun was in the East.
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bibziebun · 3 hours ago
First Kiss
I love you a bushel and a peck
A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck
A hug around the neck and a barrel and a heap
A barrel and a heap and I'm talkin' in my sleep about
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caresxtooxmuch · 5 hours ago
Character study: Elena Gilbert
Birthday: June 22, 1992
Sun sign: Cancer Positive traits of cancer sun: Loyal, protective, intuitive, caring, sentimental, charming, funny, creative, faithful, tender. Negative traits of cancer sun: Oversensitive, moody, vengeful, insecure, pessimistic, manipulative, unpredictable, suspicious, resentful, lazy.
Elena exhibits a lot of these traits, both positive and negative, quite frequently. Throughout the series, she remains loyal, protective, and caring over her friends and loved ones. However, she’s also commonly seen manipulating them in order to get her way. She has no problem using someone as a means to an end if it means the outcome that she desires.  She is very creative, having planned to be a writer before the death of her mother, who was her cheerleader. She is also sentimental and charming, but gets stuck in the past, which can bring out resentment and laziness. We see that she hasn’t really stuck to any of her extracurriculars since the death of her parents, too caught up in tragedy to motivate herself to take anything on. This is  the exact opposite of Caroline, who takes on everything to distract herself. Elena does not really remain faithful to Stefan, having fallen for Damon as early as season two, though they had built a friendship before that. Instead, she uses Damon to her advantage because she misses his brother and can’t handle the idea of falling apart. Elena sees Damon as her connection to Stefan, so no matter how much it hurts him, she keeps him around. He allows it because of his feelings for her.  She can be very tender and sweet. Often her compassion is commented on by Stefan. However, she can also be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, doing what she must to get what she wants. She manipulates characters into doing her bidding, such is seen in the arc with Rebekah.
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What The Fork - Food Truck
Additional Task 40 - April 14, 2021
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sonofrose · 10 hours ago
Sasha Waybright’s Complexity
You know I have a really hard time reading Sasha’s character.
The girl baffles me.
Back on earth it seems she could have anything she wanted, a “top of the world” kind of deal, queen of her school, etc... and yet the only thing she seems to really care about, her best and closest friends, are these dorks:
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It’s obvious Sasha loves them more than anything, as in a “I love them so hard it hurts” situation... and yet, she obviously also took them for granted.
Her worst fear is clearly being alone, being abandoned... and yet while Anne and Marcy want nothing more than to find her, she already believes they moved on.
As much as she doesn’t want to be abandoned.
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I’m especially baffled by how she behaves in “Barrel’s Warhammer”.
It’s only when she hears about her friends that she loses her cool.
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Her single minded motivation for getting the hammer is more because she wants to prove something, but...
What exactly does she want to prove? That she is okay on her own? That she is someone worth keeping?
Who does she want to prove it to? Anne and Marcy? Herself?
Why does she want to prove her point?
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I have a hard time reading her, but I believe it relates to what she said in Toad Tower:
“I think you’re better off without me”
And also her words at the end of “Toadcatcher”:
“It’s not over between us... not by a long shot”
Maybe she wants to have power to show, either herself or Anne, that she is also better off without her, maybe she wants to forcefully take her friendships back... maybe she wants to end them for good on her own terms.
Either way, there is one thing I’m certain about Sasha:
Her behavior is incredibly self-destructive, and it has been since before Amphibia.
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thechristadelphian · 13 hours ago
Parables of our Lord - 5 Videos ( Wichita Gathering 2021)
Parables of our Lord – 5 Videos ( Wichita Gathering 2021)
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thechristadelphian · 13 hours ago
Parables of our Lord - 5 Videos ( Wichita Gathering 2021)
Parables of our Lord – 5 Videos ( Wichita Gathering 2021)
[vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]?rel=”no”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]?rel=0[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]?rel=0[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]?rel=0[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column…
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splitting-infinities · 14 hours ago
a TMA mini-fic set after the unknowing (prior to S4) tags: martin character study, angst, sadness, jon’s missing pens, hurt/comfort if you squint
After the events of the Unknowing, Martin descends into loneliness the way one might drift into sleep.
It’s easy to fade, mostly. The Archives are hushed and solemn. Nobody speaks, and Martin wears headphones constantly, but they’re not plugged into anything.
Then, Martin begins to visit the cemetery alone; it doesn’t feel right to go with anyone else. And after his mother goes, he takes it in stride. It changes very little in the end; he just buys a third bouquet at the market anytime he makes the trip to the graves. He’s fine, if he doesn’t think about it too hard.
At his request, Basira and Melanie leave Tim and Sasha’s empty desks to gather dust, not moving so much as a picture frame out of place. In the same fashion, the door to Jon’s office remains shut like the entrance to a tomb.
Martin was the last one to set foot in it, and out of bizarre sentimentality, he used that opportunity to steal every pen in Jon’s drawer.
If pressed, Martin would justify it as the need to have something that once knew the press of Jon’s fingers, the roll against his palms. Something they both had touched. Something to remember him by in case Jon never wakes up.
During those nights he spends back at his flat, Martin often takes out Jon’s pens and twirls them around his fingers. He mulls over Peter Lukas’ increasingly tempting offers to join his noble cause. He wonders what Jon would say about Lukas’ ulterior motives. Whether Tim would chide him for being an idiot. Whether Sasha was actually tall.
Martin regularly cries himself to sleep for those first few months of new normal. The violence of crying ceases to shock him; once his pillow is sodden with tears, all he has to do is flip the pillow over to the dry side to hide the damage. There. Nothing happened. He is fine, and then he sleeps.
He does have a recurring dream, though. In this dream, Martin is crying into his pillow again, but this time someone perches on the edge of his bed. A quiet figure with calm, unblinking eyes who takes up a strange but welcome vigil. In these dreams, there is no obligation to talk, which is a relief. The figure makes no move to comfort him, nor would Martin expect them to. There is just a presence, a witness to Martin’s temporary emotions. Someone who can attest that Martin is still real, that what he feels matters.
In the dreams, and even after waking, Martin is always left certain of a few things: that, even after everything about him disappears, there was once a time when he was seen. That someone noticed his pain. That someone knew he felt.
Martin stops having the dream, or any dreams once he joins Peter and the Lonely. But he remembers what it was like.
And he chases it the way an anchor chases the depths. Like a dream, like oblivion, like a plunge.
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gakkubi · 16 hours ago
Ame Trio Analysis: Konan
I want to share some thoughts on the Ame Trio/Ame Orphans because I do think they have one of the most complex, interesting and beautiful arcs in the Narutoverse. I will discuss their personalities and thoughts. This post is about Konan, there are also Yahiko and Nagato. (3/3): I'll end with Konan because she's the one who lives the longer and is impacted by both Yahiko and Nagato's death.
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Konan is possibly the hardest character to analyse because her stand-alone arc is the last one to appear, and the story doesn't dwell on her ideals and motivations until the very end - despite that, it's my personal belief she's one of the best female characters developed in the series. With a few exceptions, female characters in the Narutoverse will usually take the position of supporting the male characters - but unlike most of the other women, Konan's position of support actually makes sense with her character.
A person not being the "original creator" of the philosophy they follow or joining other characters to achieve a common goal does not mean they don't have a mind or will of their own; Konan is just as free to make her own decisions as the other characters.
While Yahiko takes the role of "fallen hero" and Nagato is the "unwilling protagonist", Konan is the ever-present observer; she's the last one to take the spotlight in the Ame Trio storyline, and with her, the last open ends are closed. Konan is the element which endured throughout all of the Ame Trio's different phases, from their start to their brightest and darkest points until the very end. She's the Angel, the one who will carry and reinforce the will she has received.
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Konan has a moral trait which makes her strikingly different from Yahiko and Nagato; she is not loyal to abstract ideals, but rather concrete ones. Even though Yahiko and Nagato eventually digress on their philosophies, both dedicate their lives to the pursuit of peace and give up their lives to guarantee the survival of their goal, as abstract as it may be.
Konan, on the other hand, is loyal to people; of course she had beliefs of her own, but they mostly come from a local perspective, not a universal one. She's loyal to Amegakure; to her country, to her people, her citizens, her friends.
It's heavily implied in the story (more in the anime than the manga) that the people of Amegakure held her in high esteem (perhaps even more than they held Pain himself). This shines a new light on Konan, who early on the story was just an unknown villain of the Akatsuki - in fact, we come to learn most of the important aspects of her personality lie outside of the classic, evil Akatsuki.
To understand Konan it's important to understand the Ame Trio's dynamic as a whole; it's fundamental to consider that, just like Nagato, Konan owes her life to Yahiko's fierce will of surviving- her backstory alone with Yahiko is never shown but it's heavily implied that she was just as dependent on him as Nagato was. Like Nagato, her personality is much more passive and quiet until provoked.
Both Konan and Nagato were Yahiko's followers, and they were happy that way - they believed in his dream and his philosophy and found in the Akatsuki the meaning of their lives. It's important to understand that Yahiko's goals are also her goals, regardless if she was the one who created them or not; it's better to say he first inspired her into creating such dreams for herself.
Many other (very popular and loved) characters in the Naruto universe follow dreams and philosophies not originally created by themselves and are not perceived as mere "followers without opinion" like Konan sometimes is.
A common reason for the misunderstanding of Konan's character to claim she has no will of her own is that she continued to support Nagato even though he suffers an immense personality and philosophical shift after Yahiko's death. It's often wondered why Konan decided to stay by Nagato's side after Yahiko's death despite his radical change, and it's often associated with her having no ideas of her own. This is not true; the story builds a very logical and realistic reason for her to continue supporting him regardless of her truly agreeing with his new peace philosophy.
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Very much like Nagato, Konan saw the people she loved and her reasons to live be taken away from her twice. The first time, it was Yahiko who gave both of them meaning and direction; the second time Nagato and Konan found themselves having nothing again - all they had was the legacy Jiraiya and Yahiko left behind.
Konan's life was saved by Yahiko twice; first when he helped her survive and second when he sacrificed himself so she could escape Hanzo's trap. It's important to realize the reason why Hanzo could trap Yahiko and Nagato is that they captured her first; although we have no evidence for this, it's possible Konan also felt guilt for "giving" the enemy a token to which they could manipulate Yahiko into obedience.
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Yahiko being a key factor on her survival (both physical and mental) and her feeling responsible for his death are both factors that could result in her feeling immense guilt and a sense of debt with him. Like Nagato, Konan couldn't just let Yahiko's death be pointless after giving up his life for them.
Any reasonable person would have their hope shaken after seeing Yahiko get killed after his "non-violence, mutual understanding" philosophy failed. It would take an enormous endurance and faith to lose a person who she loved and keep on trying the same thing with the hope that "next time things will work as intended." Perhaps, things would never work as Yahiko imagined - perhaps his original plan needed adaptations.
However, unlike Nagato, Konan hadn't been conditioned by either Jiraiya or Yahiko to think that she was the one who would find the key to peace; she didn't spend her life pressured by the responsibility of coming up with a plan. Nagato was the one who the former leaders trusted would find the answer to end all the wars - and he stepped up to continue the "plan to peace" with his new ideas of how to get there.
And there's yet another important factor in all this; Yahiko had left her with a mission - the mission of supporting Nagato. The conversation where Yahiko entitles her with the responsibility of being by Nagato's side is highlighted in her fight against Obito to tell us, the audience, why Konan is so determined to help Naruto now - her mission of protecting the "savior of the world", originally given by Yahiko, had been transferred from supporting Nagato to Naruto.
Once we see the perspective of her feeling like she was in debt with Yahiko for saving her life twice - and adding love and guilt to the mixture, which makes it much harder for reason to overpower emotion -, it's easy to see why it could be hard to nearly impossible for her to dismiss the last mission she could actually complete; following Yahiko's will was a way of still being connected to him after he was gone.
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Both Nagato and Konan nearly lost the meaning of their lives when Yahiko was killed and the original Akatsuki destroyed - both clinged to what they had left. Neither ever had a proper environment to deal with the grief they felt, a grief that echoed a childhood trauma that shaped all of their lives.
All of these factors are reasons why it would be hard for Konan to look objectively at what she was doing by supporting Nagato's new philosophy; however, Konan wasn't just guilt trapped into being by his side.
Konan, as I stated before, is much more pragmatic than her counterparts; she's loyal to what is hers - her friends, her nation. Even if we ignore the guilt or the "mission", it's safe to assume she would have stayed by his side anyway; Nagato was all the family she had left, and she was loyal to what was hers above all else.
Perhaps, if the mental conditions weren't so harsh, Konan could have resisted or opposed some of Nagato's new radical ideas more than she already did - debated with him, perhaps they could have convinced each other to stay in Yahiko's path. In the anime, Obito even says he relied on Konan for "calming" Nagato, which tells us that she reasoned with him to some extent - however, neither of them were able to keep their pain from overriding the morals they previously had.
Konan has a mind of her own, and it's shown to us in the moments where she disagrees either visually or verbally with Nagato's actions; Jiraiya's death, Konoha's destruction and the conversation with Naruto are moments where she confronts him. She is shown disagreeing with Nagato on multiple instances, which is proof that she felt she could voice her discontent with him - that she didn't feel completely trapped by guilt or that all she had to do was simply obey him; she was not just a voiceless "Angel" obeying her "God." We're also shown that Nagato disregards many of her opinions - by the time he becomes a villain, he is extremely narcissistic and confident in his hability to make the right choice - but that doesn't keep her from voicing her disagreement anyway.
It's not clear to us, the audience, how much Konan was hurt by Nagato's disregard (we're shown she is uncomfortable to some extent); it's the combination of her guilt, Yahiko's "mission" and her own faith in Nagato's plan that keeps her following their goal.
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All the members of the Ame Trio value the search for peace above everything else, each in their own particular way.
Unlike Nagato, Konan has a much clear and objective way of thinking, interested only in what will serve them to achieve their goal and dismissing everything else that will not be useful.
Konan is never shown having any interest whatsoever in the other members of the Akatsuki (she never engages in the conversations they have), in the people of Konoha (which is why she condones wasting energy on being violent with them) or even in what Naruto has to say. All that she cares about is what is hers - her nation, her family; she's completely indifferent to everything else.
(That being said, I must note we don't know how her relationships with the other Akatsuki work as it would be impossible for her to spend almost 20 years without interacting with the other members. One of Konan's most important traits is her kindness, so it's "in character" to assume she would treat them respectfully and kindly, being fond of them to some extent; it's also safe to assume she didn't care about them at all, given her behavior in the manga. I think both interpretations are equally canonical because they lean on different aspects of her personality to fill a backstory we're never shown).
Although Konan is never shown being especially inclined to violence, her indifference and disergard for everything that is not hers - together with her own belief on Nagato's plan and the suffering which she endured - allows her to be the cold-blooded leader and killer she eventually becomes.
Konan believed in Nagato - like both Jiraiya and Yahiko did - while recognizing his flaws. When Naruto received recognition and acceptance from Nagato, he was incorporated to Konan's definition of what is "hers"; she aligns him in a sequence of "saviors" who she believed, a sequence that began with Yahiko and continued with Nagato. She makes the conscious decision of giving up her life for her dream of peace as Yahiko and Nagato have done before her.
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Obito is the example of a person who Konan never incorporated on what is "hers" - this is clear on their fight where she says she studied his moves and his powers all the years they have worked together, and also clear on the passive-aggressive conversation they have after Jiraiya's death (Chapter 407). The way their relationship works - especially considering that she spent approximately half of her life working with him - also shows that Konan doesn't blindly support other characters for the sake of supporting them; for all we know, she trusted him much less than Nagato did.
It's also in Konan's fight with him that we see her analytical intelligence at full bloom - I dare say she is the most intelligent of the trio when it comes to strategy; first, for not ever truly trusting Obito to begin with (possibly because Yahiko also didn't), and second for being able to set a strategy that effectively killed him (hence why he used Izanagi - he was killed by her) with information based on her own observations.
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Konan is extremely careful and precise; she pays incredible attention to detail, being able to draw accurate conclusions after analyzing just a little information.
Konan isn't ever shown to be hateful or angry, with the exception of her encounter with Jiraiya, where she treats him with spite, taunting him with the idea that following Orochimaru's suggestion could have avoided all the trouble he was going through with the Akatsuki. It's one of the few times we see Konan treating anyone in a way that is not kind or neutral, as if she held some type of resentment against Jiraiya - I like to think she blamed him, in a way or another, for not preparing them well enough for the cruelty of the world; for letting them be so naïve that Yahiko could be killed in a trap easily avoidable. It's obvious that Konan still held Jiraiya in some regard as it's easier for people to lash out on those who they like the most - after many years interacting with people to whom she was completely indifferent (outside of Nagato), Konan was finally talking to a person she had feelings for.
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She is also - as described by Jiraiya and also viewed on the characters memories - a very kind, gentle, caring person; the very fact that she chose to save Nagato by sharing food with him shows her predisposition to helping others. Her kindness wasn't lost after Yahiko's death, but mostly replaced by the indifference she felt at everything that did not contemplate her goals, her family or her nation. After she accepts Naruto as being "one of her own" and sharing goals with him, she's quick to display kindness towards him and indirectly make amends with Jiraiya in the process.
As quiet, introspective person, Konan is very self-sufficient; although she is a member of the Akatsuki, she only interacts with them when necessary, probably spending most of her time alone or caring for Amegakure's business (as she shared both Akatsuki and Amegakure's leadership with Nagato and he was more active with the Akatsuki, it's safe to assume she cared for the other half). Her quiet, calmer nature matches that of Nagato; they could find understanding by having similar thought processes and also having a harder time processing their feelings, finding sympathy and comfort in each other.
Although I have mentioned that Konan might have felt a sense of debt towards Yahiko for saving her life, I want to highlight I see this feelings as possible only after his death because of its traumatizing circumstances; I don't think she felt she owed him anything while they were all alive, especially because it's never shown that he ever demanded such recognition. Yahiko and Konan have very distinct energies and personalities that complete each other, their relationship has a strong foundation because they share the same core beliefs and traits; loyalty and faith. I can see her falling in love with him for many reasons and one of them being by her admiring how hard he works to achieve the goal of peace.
Konan is a person that feels gentle and kind towards life as a whole; she doesn't seem to need much to be happy - as a child she made origami to pass time and have fun (and eventually used her intelligence to turn her passion into power); as an adult, the anime dedicates a scene to show her smiling to the rain while thinking of happy memories - happy for the sake of being in peace with the new direction she was taking her life after she and Nagato found someone to believe in again.
All of the Rain Trio's characters have very distinct and interesting psychologies; personally, I find Konan to be the most complex one because of the extreme discrepancies she displays, sometimes warm and kind, sometimes extremely cold and indifferent. I think the way she seems to only care about a very limited aspect of things is very attractive, as it shows how focused she is on her goals - as a nonviolent person, the most cruel act of Konan as a villain comes from her apathy to everyone else that is not part of what is "hers." Unlike Nagato and most of the other members of the Akatsuki who actively indulge in vile acts, she simply pursues her goals, removing anything and anyone on her way.
When he watch Konan's childhood, we see a child that is kind and light-hearted despite of all the pain she has endured, and only after being inflicted by yet another wave of suffering Konan's empathy and hope are shaken to the core; however, we learn her feelings were not dead but rather dormant, and it's by reconnecting to her core traits and beliefs that she finally finds peace in the very end.
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gakkubi · 16 hours ago
Ame Trio's Personalities: Nagato
I want to share some thoughts on the Ame Trio/Ame Orphans because I do think they have one of the most complex, interesting and beautiful arcs in the Narutoverse.
I will discuss their personalities and thoughts. This post is about Nagato, there are also Yahiko and Konan. (2/3): Although Nagato is the main character of the trio, he's the second one to be analysed because he's influenced by Yahiko's death while his own death shifts the direction of Konan's life.
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Nagato is an extremely complex character; he is both the first and the last to appear in the trio. The first, because the first time he appears is as Tendo Pain (Divine Path) - the last, because he is the last one to be shown in his original form. For a brief while, we are led to believe Yahiko is Pain until we are shown the shy red-headed boy was the one who had the rinnegan all along.
The complexity of his personality, in my opinion, comes not from his act as "Pain", or from the heavy traumas which he was inflicted, but from the fact that Nagato was not built as a "classic protagonist", but he was given that role by the other characters in the story, and eventually took the role when the situation left him no other choice.
It's important to consider the original Akatsuki's/Ame Trio's dynamic to understand Nagato. In their original form, Yahiko was the leader; he was the one that inspired the others, especially Nagato. We are never shown any kind of dispute or conflict between Yahiko and him; Kishimoto doesn't even pull the classic "love triangle" on them - doing, in fact, the very opposite by making it clear Nagato knew about their relationship and supported it.
Nagato lacked one of the most important characteristics of villains; ambition - the very personality trait Yahiko had in abundance. Of course Nagato had ambitions of his own (wanting to find the peace and breaking the curse of hatred), but having great goals does not make him an ambitious person. We are never shown Nagato actively pursuing being the best in the trio, the most powerful shinobi in the world, we are never shown any desire of him ruling Amegakure on his own - he never had the desire of being in the spotlight.
Although Nagato wanted to find peace for the world- he even told Jiraiya that he would be the one to break the curse of the never ending wars -, we're shown that later on he believed Yahiko was the one more fit for the power. This is very opposite to the personalities we are shown of Madara and Obito, who both competed against their "friendly rivals" and had high personal ambitions (very much like Naruto also did). If there was any kind of competition among the Ame Trio, it was mostly Yahiko against himself - Nagato never saw him as a rival or opponent of any nature.
The story - with the intent of confusing us by not making it clear if Pain is Yahiko or Nagato - shows us Nagato is the owner of the immense power, but lacks the personality to act on it enough to become a villain. Although it's true Jiraiya proceeds most of the fight believing he is fighting against Nagato himself, the story is still built in such a way to make us wonder how could power-hungry Yahiko die and how on Earth did passive, quiet Nagato become a megalomaniac pseudo-God.
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Nagato is an extremely realistic character when it comes to his relationship with the rinnegan; it's not logical to think every person who possesses immense power has the desire to use them just because it's available.
In the situations where Nagato is not dealing with violence or his powers, he is shown to be a shy, kind-hearted person. Physically, his appearance is fragile, which only highlights other aspects of his personality such as his quietness and passiveness - traits he shares with Konan - and his sensitivity, a core trait he shares with Yahiko. Jiraiya's memories of them as children, as well as Konan's memories of them at different ages, show Nagato hardly ever speaking, barely dragging attention to himself - introspective, but also curious and determined.
Nagato, prior to Yahiko's death, is always shown having a complicated relationship with his powers; he is partly afraid of them, he doesn't completely understand them and in turn he doesn't completely trust himself - this inability to build a proper self-confidence also leads him to be more quiet and hesitant than he would naturally be. An example of this is his first interaction with Obito, where Nagato is clearly shown being affected and unsure of what he should think about "Madara's" proposal (Chapter 607, further explored on the mixed canon-filler anime episodes of that same arc).
Despite the mixed feelings he has towards the rinnegan, he also expects a lot from himself; both because he is powerful, and also because a lot of expectation is put on him to by others.
Following the death of his parents (which is an extremely heart-wrenching trauma on its own), Nagato slowly stopped being fully human and was put in a odd pedestal of Reincarnated God; he was still a mere mortal like the other two children, but expectations were extremely high. He had the eyes of God, he was eventually going to figure out the answer for peace. He had to.
If he had been chosen by the divine to possess the eyes of God, naturally it also meant he was the one who would eventually find the answer to peace.
It's easy to see evil Nagato with his God Complex and blame it solely on his own arrogance, but it's important to understand the circumstances in which Nagato started dehumanizing himself actually began with Jiraiya and continued later on with Yahiko, especially on his death. Jiraiya may not have had the intention of dehumanizing him by telling him the divine status of his powers, but, by placing on him the responsibility of finding an answer because of his eyes, he lead Nagato to start seeing his life as something that obligatory needed to have meaning; of course, this didn't fit well with his preference for following instead of commanding and overall lack of self-trust - it only generated him more stress and suffering.
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Although those feelings were planted in Nagato during Jiraiya's training, they remained dormant because of the Ame Trio's dynamic. Yahiko was the one who had the abilities of a natural leader and he was the one to develop a philosophy to find peace in the world. We see that Nagato was content to support him, and mutual support was a characteristic of all the Ame Orphans.
Nagato loved Yahiko deeply; Yahiko had not indirectly saved his life (by helping Konan to keep alive) and maintained him alive by giving him food and shelter, but he had also given Nagato reasons to stay alive. Pursuing the dream of achieving peace, creating a better life - Yahiko gave Nagato a sense of purpose, a direction to move forward, something he could fight for after he had lost everything.
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It's implied that during their time together, Nagato believed his divine purpose was to support Yahiko on his quest to find peace - we are shown many times Nagato never questioned Yahiko. They had a healthy and friendly dynamic; Nagato's natural passiveness never clashed against Yahiko's dominance, and Yahiko offered him the emotional and existencial stability he desperately needed. By seeing in his life the purpose of following and supporting Yahiko, Nagato's philosophical suffering was eased by having some answers to many of the questions regarding the reason he was gifted with his powers.
Nagato was never shown to be dissatisfied with the path he was walking with the Akatsuki; the meaning of his life was clear - helping the Akatsuki achieve peace. We have much evidence to believe Nagato was a happy person, content with the life he had built for himself, which also sets him apart from many of the other Naruto villains who had a deep desire to take matters on their own hands and change the world around them; he was not a naturally ambitious person who wanted more than he already had.
Nagato's happiness and hope in life being taken away from him twice is what sets a fundamental change in his personality.
Yahiko's death meant the purpose he had for his life had been destroyed. There was no perspective of the future without Yahiko's guidance, and even Yahiko's ideals could not work in a world that ultimately took advantage of his philosophy.
Nagato was stripped away from all remaining happiness and motivation he had gathered again from dust. Everything he had built with Yahiko and Konan and the original Akatsuki was ultimately meaningless because it didn't protect him against being a victim of the same situation twice.
The meaning of everything had been destroyed. The one person who had kept him alive all this time was dead - all their efforts were in vain. His life was pointless; he had nowhere to go, nothing to fight for, no ideal to believe in - no one but Konan, feeling just as lost and empty as he was. The person who had always provided them with hope and meaning was gone.
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It's important to highlight how Yahiko sacrificed himself to save Nagato and Konan. It was not Yahiko's intention when he decided to take such action, but by giving up his life for Nagato and telling him he was "the savior of the world", Yahiko ended up creating an enormous pressure on Nagato to not let his death be pointless. Jiraiya had already put the pressure of finding peace on Nagato's shoulders - Yahiko's last words and actions ended up making it nearly impossible for Nagato to ignore the divine role he was put in.
The divine role given by two figures he respected and followed was the only thing (despite Konan) that Nagato had left after Yahiko's death (and Akatsuki's massacre, according to the anime); being the God that could save the world was the only purpose left in his life by the people who had previously guided him.
I see many people regarding Nagato as simply arrogant and/or narcissistic and I think they are not giving much attention at just how dangerous it can be to put people in labels, because more often than not people will grow and change to attend the expectations others have of them - especially if they are going through a desperately painful existential crisis like Nagato goes after Yahiko's death.
This kind of existential suffering also leads people to grasp onto every little thing they can that makes them remotely happy; visually, this is shown with Nagato and Konan never letting go of Yahiko's body, maintaining him symbolically alive.
Nagato's philosophy is simply a more cynical version of Yahiko's cycle of hatred - the fundamental change was in the core ideal; the possibility of people ever being able to understand each other. Nagato knew from personal experience how the everlasting cycle of pain worked, and if he truly was Divine as he was told by other characters, then he would force people into finding understanding in shared pain and fear.
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Dissociation is a defense mechanism both Nagato and Konan relied on to survive situations that were near-impossible to recover from given their context; neither had any sort of physiological support and were also unsafe, hunted by the enemy who had just killed a person they loved. The vendetta against Hanzo was also an action of self-defense and survival - a survival Yahiko had always told them to pursue no matter what the cost was. The situation didn't allow Nagato a safe situation for him to breath; he had to act and keep himself and Konan alive.
Taking the role of God - and even being called by a different name, "Pain" - Nagato could distance himself from his actions and rationalize them; eventually, being able to turn every one of his actions into being the undisputable will of God turned him into the narcissist Jiraiya encounters in Amegakure. This type of rationalization that involves the taking of a role given by others as well as a change in name and appearance keep a person from confronting the reality of their actions; another extremely famous example of this is Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader.
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Nagato takes it a step further by blurring the lines between his own feelings and the divine label given by others with Yahiko's dreams and his own feelings regarding Yahiko. By using Yahiko's body as vessel and keeping him symbolically alive, Nagato not only prolonged his own suffering but also incorporated some of Yahiko's personality - unlike his shy original self, Nagato as Pain became stoic and confident; his demeanor is like that of an adult dealing with children - a God who deals with mortals who are incapable of understanding his divine enlightenment, as he explains to Jiraiya. When Naruto confronts him personally, Nagato displays a more cynical, sarcastic self by letting go of his divine persona.
Nagato becomes the narcissistic villain with a God complex because this is the only thing that he has left after everything is stripped away from him, in ways more painful than he can endure without help; Konan cannot help him, being herself in the exact same situation as he is. Even so, it's important to understand Nagato doesn't really believe he is a God - his divine status extends only to the point where they can justify his actions and explain why he is the one who must establish this new peace. This is clear when he talks to Naruto and he shows how he, in many ways, sees himself and still being the same person he was when Yahiko was still alive - a peacemaker. In his own words, they were all "ordinary men" (Chapter 436).
Nagato, at that point in his life, has nothing to lose; he knows, in the event of his failure in capturing Naruto, Konan or "Madara" will continue on the pursuit of creating the ultimate weapon for peace. Nagato has already lost so much, and he's not building a future for himself to enjoy - rather, the peace he means to create is both a way to give his own life meaning and also make Yahiko's death not be pointless. It's important to understand that peace is Nagato's ultimate goal, and his own ideas were never something he valued above anyone else's - after all, he spent half of his life following Yahiko and the other half in the effort of continuing his (their) goal.
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So, although Naruto's "talk no jutsu" is perceived as weak from part of the fandom, I personally don't see Nagato as the combative, ambitious type of person; the actions he lead on his own were heavily supported by Konan and influenced by "Madara'', because his original nature was much more passive than the one he displays as a villain. Not wishing to lead or not being truly comfortable with creating a revolution is not a flaw - that simply is not Nagato's nature; if he wasn't like that, he would have probably clashed against Yahiko at least once, which he never came close to do.
Given that, it's not outrageous that Nagato decides to believe Naruto after hearing Naruto repeat his own words; Nagato, like Konan, is a person who supports others, they spend half their lives following one and the other half being influenced by another. This time, Nagato finds someone who actually pursues his original goal, a person who attempts to understand him, who faces a suffering similar to which he endured and was still able to maintain faith. In that sense, Naruto's philosophy is much more attractive than "Madara's" plan, as it alligns with what the original Akatsuki was all about.
Naruto was a person worth believing, worth sacrificing himself for as Yahiko had previously done for him; Yahiko's life, the original Akatsuki's efforts, all of their actions wouldn't be pointless if Naruto succeeded.
Nagato was not a "classic protagonist"; he wasn't a person who wanted to prove his value to everyone, he didn't want to change the world with his own hands and ideals all by himself - he was forced into the role of protagonist to survive in a context that lead him to take the path of becoming a villain. When Nagato felt he could finally abdicate the position of protagonist, he did.
This is not to justify Nagato's actions; he lacked the emotional intelligence that made Yahiko so different from him. If he had such a trait, he wouldn't be able to carry on much long with rationalizing his feelings and dissociating into the role of God without confronting himself - Nagato did get lost in his own arrogance and megalomania, but it's important to consider the context of his actions. Nagato didn't only have to survive physically, he had to survive mentally as well - it's hard to think how he could deal with the situation in a different way without having any external help.
Nagato's dilemma with peace and the answer were present from the beginning; when he finally had a satisfying answer, he found peace.
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gakkubi · 16 hours ago
Ame Trio's Personalities: Yahiko
I want to share some thoughts on the Ame Trio/Ame Orphans because I do think they have one of the most complex, interesting and beautiful arcs in the Narutoverse.
I will discuss their personalities and thoughts. This post is about Yahiko, there are also Nagato and Konan.
(1/3): I'll start with Yahiko because he's the one who dies first and influences the others' personalities.
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Although Yahiko is arguably the character who appears “less” among the Ame Trio - naturally, for dying first - he takes up significant part of the flashbacks he appears in. Jiraiya, Nagato, Konan; even in Obito’s memory of the Ame Trio - which serve the plot purpose of showing how Obito started manipulating Nagato - he spends most of the flashback interacting with Yahiko. Yahiko was extremely remarkable to all the people who met him, there is no doubt that Kishimoto took every opportunity he had to tell us he was a very important character.
Something I find very interesting about Yahiko is how easily he could be a villain; he has many of the personality traits of of classical villains. This is not accidental - in Chapter 372, when Jiraiya finds and confronts Konan, his memories of the Ame Orphans lead him to believe Yahiko was the one who first turned evil (in their conversation, Konan never clearly explains whose ideology they have embraced; it’s very implied Jiraiya was inclined to believe that was Yahiko).
This is built purposefully to confuse the audience regarding Pain’s identity as the one who possesses the rinnegan is Nagato; one has the “villainous” personality, the other has the power.
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Of course, we all know Yahiko is not a villain, even though he could easily be. Yahiko’s most powerful personality trait is his ambition; this trait is the one that will always surpass the others.
Yahiko is a survivor; we are shown repeatedly that he would do just about anything to to keep alive (and Nagato and Konan with him). We are shown some of his big and most drastic actions like stealing, but minor details like cooking, gathering supplies and stabilising a house for him and Konan - taking from the story and Nagato’s conversation with Jiraiya, it’s safe to assume Yahiko was the mastermind behind all the actions that allowed them to survive as children. Yahiko knew they needed power to survive, and we’re shown in the anime their journey to find Jiraiya and how he quickly learned to navigate in the warzone by being able to put himself in the shoes of his “enemies” and think like they did. Yahiko always had an extremely clear sense of what he wants and how to get there.
He is also a natural leader; we can’t say for sure how much of his leadership is actually his nature and how much it comes from needing to step up as the leader of the trio, given how Nagato and Konan have more passive personalities. The fact is, by the time Yahiko dies, he has been acting as a leader for more than half os his life; giving orders and being in control is his comfort zone. He will have control and boss others even if they don’t agree with him, which is clearly stated when he tells Konan he believes Nagato is the one who will bring peace; he put Nagato in that position regardless of Nagato’s opinions - Konan will support Nagato and not him, regardless who she thinks is the “bridge to peace” (Chapter 509).
In that particular flashback of Jiraiya, there are two classically villainous traits shown: the first is anger; it’s implied that Yahiko is a kid full of anger and hate, but in fact, he is a very emotional and sensitive person - in that, he is very similar to Nagato - although unlike him, Yahiko will almost always express his feelings. He’s angry because he’s in pain and won’t conform to his fate as a victim of a poor country. The second one is both his ambition and megalomania: He will change the country, no matter the lenghts he has to go through.
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Another strong trait of Yahiko’s thought process is that ends justify the means. This is proven by many of his actions; to survive, he will steal; to defend others, he will put his own life at risk - the ultimate proof of this is sacrificing his life to save Nagato and Konan from Hanzo. They are the ones who must survive no matter what; no matter if he dies. Although the famous “the end justify the means” sentence is usually associated with Machiavellianism, Yahiko doesn’t display the other traits needed such as manipulativeness and indifference to morality to classify him as a machiavellian person.
Yahiko could easily become a “villain”; he has unbreakable ambition and he’s willing to go to extreme lengths to get what he wants regardless of the opinion of those around him. I could easily say just about the very same about Obito, Madara and Orochimaru with a few changes here and there; I could even describe adult Nagato like that.
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Seeing this particular scene in Jiraiya's memory, his ambition and anger and a "well-intentioned world-domination" goal are enough to convince the reader to believe Yahiko is Pain, even before seeing his appearance. It's notable that Nagato doesn't reply anything while Yahiko is screaming at him, highlighting his more passive personality.
You, reader, must be rather shocked at what I'm saying, because Yahiko is the only one who was never evil among the three of them; in fact, the others turned evil because of his absence. Yahiko is such a special character because he was all those classically villainous traits, the key to his character lies in why he never turns evil despite all of that.
Ambition is the trait that will rule above all; but his vision comes second in command. We are shown Yahiko is a very sensitive child, he cries a lot, he's easy to anger because he's overwhelmed by the situation he finds himself in. In the same flashback that gives the audience all the reason to believe Yahiko could be Pain, Yahiko himself admits inflicting pain on others wouldn't work as a solution.
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The very fact that Yahiko wanted help from the very people who were destroying his country and were directly or indirectly responsible for him being an orphan (that is, foreigners) shows how the end goal was more important to him than the mean of how to get there; Nagato's initial distrust was the feeling most people would have in their situation, which shows another difference between their thought process; Nagato holds grudges (he could accept Jiraiya individually, but not Konoha, and he couldn't ever get over his parents or Yahiko's death) whereas Yahiko doesn't ever let any past event, situation or prejudice come between him and the goal he wants to achieve.
But ambition, vision and idealism (which I have not mentioned yet) are all traits he also shares with villains.
What makes Yahiko different from other villains, especially Nagato, is that he develops an amazing emotional intelligence to deal with the information his sensitivity gathers from the world.
Yahiko was extremely hopeful, positive and emotionally intelligent, all characteristics he shares with other heroes like Naruto. Throughout his life, the "classically villainous" characteristics of his childhood were outgrown by the "classically heroic" traits that gained strength overtime. Yahiko walked away from the evil path he could have easily taken by confronting his "villainous" traits.
It was through the use of emotional intelligence that Yahiko dismantled the initial megalomania and revengfullness he displays in both Jiraiya's and Nagato's childhood flashbacks. It's important to highlight that Yahiko's "Savior Complex" was something that stayed with Nagato long after Yahiko no longer believed only a single powerful person could force peace upon others. Yahiko "grew out" of his childish megalomania - Nagato did the very opposite when absorbing many of Yahiko's characteristics after his death.
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His emotional intelligence can be clearly seen in Obito's memories of him in Chapter 607; in that same instance Yahiko was one of the few characters to rule out the idea of the masked man being Madara. Yahiko was not especially powerful or intelligent, so he rellied heavily in taking accurate conclusions from his observations of the world.
Another sign of Yahiko's emotional intelligence is his mirroring of Jiraiya's behavior - although it may be first seen as something done just for comedy, it shows how Yahiko was eager to understand other people - mirroring is a display of empathy. The natural inclination he had to understand other people led Yahiko to develop his peaceful philosophy, and was also used for him to gather allies (as shown in the anime).
It was both his emotional intelligence and his vision that kept him from becoming arrogant (and doing things like stealing Nagato's rinnegan to himself, as Jiraiya considered plausible). Whereas villains will usually harvest power for themselves, Yahiko knew that the key to the success of his plans didn't depend solely on him and his actions. He had to support others and believe in them. Understanding the value in community and extreme loyalty was a value Yahiko and Konan shared - a value Nagato also had, which was eventually displaced by other traits. It's important to note how Nagato and Konan perceive their memories of Yahiko differently; of course their flashbacks serve plot purposes, but they also show completely different aspects of his personality, and these differences in perception reflect the own values of Konan and Nagato.
Although his ambition, energy and protectiveness are displayed in both of their memories, other characteristics vary in intensity.
In Konan's memories, Yahiko is much more kind and calm, happy but also introspective. In her childhood memories, he appears more joyful and carefree - as an adult, it's shown how he is hurt by the war, how understanding has made him kind and and how he wants to protect his comrades both physically and mentally. In Nagato's memories, he appears much more angry and harsh in comparison - the anime even takes an effort to "soften" some of his actions; in the anime Yahiko gives back some of the stealing and also prays for Chibi in his death (instead of just scolding Nagato for crying and mourning as he does in the manga).
I don't know how manga to anime adaptations work but it's possible that, due to the difference in pace between manga and anime, Studio Pierrot realized Yahiko would come across much more "evil" if he wasn't softened - and I like the adaptations because it makes Nagato's memories less different than Konan's; all they did was add moments foreshadowing a much kinder personality Yahiko would display on the chapters later on.
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Yahiko was the first among the three to understand that the pursuit of "justice" would only result in more conflict as one's noble justice could be seen as mere acts of vengeance by another. All the Ame Orphans knew in their lives was war, suffering and trauma, so the decision to pursue a different path away from violence could only come from a person who could look inside their own heart without the fear of seeing ugly things and confront their feelings.
Yahiko's unshakable hope on his dream of bringing peace was a result of his ambition, his vision and emotional intelligence. His sensitivity led him to become a kind, caring person, who avoided violence as much as he could. We know he was extremely loyal to his ideals, preferring to sacrifice himself and die instead of giving up the peaceful philosophy he had established for the Akatsuki to fight Hanzo. The extreme loyalty and the will to sacrifice anything for that was another trait he shared with Konan.
Although I consider Yahiko's vision to be one of the pillars in his personality, he was also extremely naïve. Yahiko's hopefulness and faith in his dreams and plans were not countered by opposite personality traits like being cynical or hesitant. The first time we see Yahiko being naïve was at the very idea of approaching the Sannin and begging for training, which could have easily ended with them all killed (or, more likely, just ignored). Unfortunately for Yahiko, his biggest flaw was not putting limits to how much he believed his ideals, leading him to fall in a trap he could have easily avoided - I left this trait for last because the anime makes Yahiko's willingness to believe Hanzo a key reason for falling on his trap, even though the manga never shows evidence for that and only implies Yahiko's innocence by Nagato's perception of them being "still children." However, I still think it's fitting for someone who displayed early signs of megalomania to have such naïvety.
Other traits that were not mentioned are less about his ideals and more about his nature; Yahiko is also naturally expansive, friendly and unafraid- these traits help him to become both the trio and Akatsuki's leader. In Chapter 509 Konan mentions he was adored by the rest of the Akatsuki, and it's very implied in the manga (and shown in anime fillers) he lead the Akatsuki with a egalitarian philosophy, not abusing his positon as leader through authority, which is another important trait of his personality; Yahiko may be bossy and unreceptive to challenges on his orders, but he is not comfortable with hierarchy and the idea of some people acting as if they were better than others.
I won't talk much about Yahiko and Konan's romance as I don't believe "being in love" can be a part of someones personality, and I don't believe his decision to kill himself to save her and Nagato was influenced by being in love. His decision to sacrifice himself comes directly from his “ends justifying the means” logic, even if in that particular case the survival of Nagato and Konan is the end which can be justified by the loss of his own life.
I do believe, though, that there are many reasons why they could be attracted to each other and I'll highlight specially their loyalty. Yahiko and Konan are both extremely loyal people; Yahiko is loyal to his ideals, Konan is loyal to what she considers "her own'' - her friends, her people. They are also people who are full of faith in the things they believe in; we are never shown Yahiko having doubts on his plans, as well as we never see Konan ever doubting the capability of the people she supports. People who share such characteristics of loyalty and faith will find great comfort in each other, creating a positive circle of both giving and receiving love and support.
Yahiko's expansive and dominant personality, as well as his positivity and hopefulness contrast immensely with Konan and Nagato's passiveness and melancholy. He is shown to be a person who could deal with his pain and his traumas, and was likely the biggest emotional support of the other two; as he himself said, he had hopes and dreams, his dreams became Nagato and Konan's dreams. His death left an immense void that could not be filled with positive, healthy thoughts and feelings, as Nagato and Konan always relied on his hopeful ideals.
The very traits that could have easily made him a villain are the same ones which lead him to achieve his and the trio's survival. Yahiko's personality exists in a delicate ballance between many "classically villainous" traits and the abundance of other solid "classically heroic" foundations.
By taking a complete look at his character it's easy to understand why his death was something really, near-impossible to recover from given the circumstances, and why the love and respect they felt endured so long after his death.
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grace13star · 17 hours ago
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prvtplace · 18 hours ago
the blackcoat's daughter is actually top notch visually affecting and even therapeutic?? soothing, i'd say. snowy roads, empty boarding school, slow burn character revelations with long close up expressive shots?? my shit. to my surprise, i loved it.
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Everything Will Return to Nothing
山河令/Word of Honor Drabble Collection
By Haoppootamus Word Count: 1010 (including chapter titles) Rating: Teen And Up Characters: Zhou Zishu, Qin Jiuxiao,Bi Changfeng Content warning: Death, Self-Harm, Self-Hatred, Canon Typical Violence, ep 24 backstory spoiler, Blood, Canonical Dead Characters, Scars
Thank you @aowyn for the beta!
Time flows perpetually. It flowed over the lives of those from Siji Shanzhuang. It flowed across the dreams and aspirations of Zishu’s childhood. Time finds the path of least resistance and sweeps away love, hope, joy, and all good things. 
For ten years, Zishu did Prince Jin’s bidding. For ten years, he followed the path his cousin laid. For ten-too-many years, Zishu thought his choices were driven by and aligned with honor and duty. 
Ten years flew past. When Zishu finally saw Prince Jin’s true ambitions, all that remained were bitter regrets and seven deadly nails for his own chest.
Nine heavens. Jiuxiao. His shidi in name, but really, his little brother. His master’s son whom he helped raise. The bright eyed boy he never wanted harmed. The man whose woman Zishu personally sent off with a vial of poison. 
Zishu remembers the moment he recognized Jiuxiao’s lifeless face. He remembers reaching out a trembling hand and slowly peeling back the white cloth. He remembers the shock slamming into him like thunder. He remembers turning his own qi against himself in penitence, in punishment, in grief. He remembers the pain of reversing his qi flows. And he remembers little else. 
Eighty-one members of Siji Shanzhuang followed him to the capital. Eighty-one white plum blossoms adorned the wall of his home. Eighty plum blossoms coated in red by blood spilled. Eighty lives lost for Zishu’s choices. 
Eight and ten months have passed since Princess Jingan returned Jiuxiao’s body. Eight and ten months ago, he slowly embedded the first of six QiQiaoSanQiu nails into himself. He had failed to protect Jiuxiao, the one person he vowed to protect. Zishu suffered eighteen months of excruciating pain as each nail slowly took root into his meridians. Eighteen months seemed insufficient punishment for his crimes. 
Seven nails Zishu slammed into Bi Changfeng, the last of the eighty-one members of Siji Shanzhuang. Uncle Bi remained insistent despite Zishu’s protests: better to live one day free than wallow any longer as Prince Jin’s dog. Zishu’s aching acupoints echoed those words, shooting pain through his meridians and protesting his cowardice. 
For respect, Zishu personally placed the nails. For kindness, Zishu worked efficiently, hoping to minimize suffering. For brotherhood, Zishu did not look away, watching Uncle Bi seize up, grimace, and slump over as blood oozed from his acupoints and his lips. 
In hopelessness, Zishu turned and walked away.
Six protruding scars on key acupoints stared back at Zishu from the mirror. 
Zishu traced his fingers over them, remembering how the four-cun nails rotated along their threads and sank into his flesh. The sharp tips punctured first his skin, then his muscles, and, finally, his meridians. As the nails twisted deeper, they snagged along the pathways carrying his qi, tugging and ripping. As his meridians fractured and frayed, the nails held strong, supporting the splintering tracts. As the wound formed into scars, the nails became a conduit for his qi, a conduit that counted down towards his last breath.
Jiuxiao slept for five days and five nights after Zishu gave him the liquor laced with ZuiShengMengSi. Five days and five nights which changed Jiuxiao’s fate. 
What would have happened if Zishu made a different choice? What would have happened if that chasm did not form between them? Would Jiuxiao have married Princess Jingan? Would he have seen Jiuxiao dressed in red robes and not covered by a white cloth? 
What would have happened if Jiuxiao were not so loyal? Had Jiuxiao not tried to save Zishu, would he have been freed from TianChuang and allowed to live his life? 
Four requirements: untraceable, inescapable, omniscient, omnipresent. Four chains, binding Siji Shanzhuang’s fate to Prince Jin’s whims when Zishu formed TianChuang. 
Why did Zishu only consider their aptitude? “Untraceable,”“omniscient,” and “omnipresent” were effortless, but “inescapable” proved to be too much. How could men immersed in Jianghu cast aside their honorable hearts? How could Zishu have thought these men could become assassins and spies serving as shadows and wraiths?
When faced with choosing between their morality or yielding to the machinations of Prince Jin’s court, no one chose the latter. The choice was theirs, but their blood still stained Zishu’s hands.
Three months Zishu waited between embedding each new QiQiaoSanQiu nail into himself. Three months allowed the nails and his body to merge. 
First, Zishu pushed nails into his YunMen acupoints situated on his ShouTaiYin meridians which governed his lungs. Next, he pushed nails into his QiMen acupoints, a nexus linking three meridians and affecting his liver. Finally, he placed nails into his FuAi acupoints, targeting his ZuTaiYin meridians and his spleen. 
As three vital organs and five meridians started failing, Zishu hid his perpetual coughs and chronic pain behind lingering internal injuries. This agony was fitting punishment for his crimes. 
Two lines carry his master’s legacy. “Flowers blooming persistently over four seasons. Events known exhaustively across nine provinces.” Ten characters on his wall extol Siji Shanzhuang’s beauty and power.
Seventy-nine plum blossoms, painted red by his hand. He dipped his brush into the paint and watched as the brush hairs pulled up the vermilion pigment. Vermilion, a red often reserved for the elite. As he coated the white petals, Uncle Bi’s words sounded in his mind, “Even Jiuxiao has passed. What remains of Siji Shanzhuang?” 
Zishu’s brush froze as he gazed at the vermilion blossom. Nothing. Without Jiuxiao, nothing remains. 
One lonely survivor from Siji Shanzhuang sat in an empty home, carving open six old scars. 
One lonely figure walked proudly through the palace snow, steeling himself for negotiation. 
Kneeling and stripping before Prince Jin, Zishu bared his chest. The six newly excavated QiQiaoSanQiu nails glistened red in the soft light diffusing through the throne room’s windows. The nails, like Zishu’s gaze, remained unyielding under Prince Jin’s anger. 
To know a man is to know his limits. Zishu, holding the last nail in hand, knew Prince Jin would grant him his request: misery, torment, death. Everything will return to nothing.  
cun is a chinese inch. I say this because we call inch an english cun. XD
Everything will return to nothing is a translation of 九九归一 which by character means nine nine returns to one. ZZS says it a lot in relation to Siji Shanzhuang
There were a lot of numbers that flew around in ep 1 and then repeated in the show. it got stuck in my head so i had to write this to eject it out
Gu Meng was on repeat the entire time i was working on this. It took HOURS. I don’t know if i’ve ever written an actual drabble before.. and then i decided to write 10... Sometimes i really do wonder if i’m stupid or simply masochistic. 
Zzs inverting is qi flows is one of my headcanons. Prince Jin stated in ep 1 that ever since Zishu passed out after seeing Jiuxiao's body, his internal injuries didn't heal. And I figured with Zishu's martial abilities and normal poise, the only reason that would happen is if he did it to himself. 
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twvirgo · a day ago
Summary: When Sirius was eleven years old, he was clueless. Now 44, he knows two things: one, life is not what it seems; two, all the poets are wrong. In another words: he’s just a man trying to get by. It’s not until he moves back in with his best (and only) friend slash former love of his life that he understands he lived all those years without actually living a day. Really, they should give him an award for that.
Chapter summary: Sirius hates a lot of things: summer, new fashion trends that make him feel old, silence (thank god his mind never shuts up!), yoghurt and the fact that he never seems to fully understand his relationship with Remus.
Rating: PG-13
Additional tags: Sirius, Remus AND Tonks are alive
Chapter: 2/?
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