“I’m home!” Obito calls out, sandals off in seconds and rushing into the kitchen with a skip in his step.
“Welcome back,” comes the reply, only one voice this time. Obito has long since stopped asking where they go when they’re not here. (Too many vague answers and fake smiles.) “Sorry I didn’t pick you up, I thought you’d be out with your new team.”
“No, we all went home after Minato-sensei told us we’d have a test tomorrow,” Obito says.
“Minato,” She hums as if thinking, “Namikaze Minato?”
“Yeah! And I got Rin on my team,” he beams up at her as he pulls himself to sit on the counter. “That Bakashi too.”
“Bakashi?” Sakura asks as she starts to dig around the cabinets, “I though you two got along. Hadn’t Hatake-san even invited you to join their training last week?”
“Doesn’t mean Bakashi isn’t an idiot.”
She chuckles at that, “You’re starting to sound like Sasuke.”
“Better than Naruto,” a deep voice says from behind, completely ignoring the protest that follows.
“Oh, good, you two are just in time,” Sakura smiles but Obito doesn’t miss the way her eyes scan over their bodies. He’s seen them come back from wherever they go often enough to know she’s checking for injuries. “I’ll leave the rest to you then, there’s still something I need to wrap up.”
“Want me to come with?” Naruto asks as the pink haired woman breezes past.
“No, no,” she waves a hand at him. “I can handle it, just make sure Obi-chan gets fed and don’t burn the place down.”
“One time,” Sasuke mutters as he stirs the contents of the pot on the stove.
He can’t remember exactly when they came into his life anymore; some time before he met Rin. But they just appeared one day when he got back home and never left.
“How were team assignments?” Naruto nudges him, sporting a bright smile that makes his features light up even more. There’s a knowing look in his eyes (there always is, in all of their gazes) that Obito ignores.
“Rin and Bakashi are my new teammates,” he says, kicking his feet out in front of him. “And I got Namikaze-san as my sensei, he seems really cool.”
There is a flash in Naruto’s blue eyes, but it’s covered up so quickly that Obito thinks he imagined it. “Well, he is pretty powerful, one of the strongest in the village.”
“Really?” Obito asks, eyes going wide and an excitement bubbling inside him. “That’s so awesome!”
“Yeah,” the blond reaches out and ruffles his hair, “now go wash up, we can train after dinner.”
“Did you hear? They were spotted again, this time on the border of Suna.”
“Really? What were they doing?”
Obito steps past the merchant stands, ignoring their gossip as he rushes to meet up with his team. They have a mission today, their very first since they started training together as an official squad. He could barely sleep last night for his excitement.
“Sorry I’m late!” He calls out, waving his arm to grab their attention. With a heavy breath he comes to a stop, “Sakura wouldn’t let me go without breakfast but Naruto and Sasuke couldn’t decide because Naruto wanted ramen but Sasuke-.”
Minato holds up his hands, a placating gesture as much as it is silencing, “It’s fine, Obito. Just don’t do it too often, okay?”
“I’ll try my best, sensei,” he beams, using the smile to cover up his embarrassment.
“You’re family sounds fun,” Rin tells him as they start walking to the Hokage tower.
“More like stupid,” Kakashi huffs. “Who eats ramen for breakfast?”
Rin gives Kakashi a hard look before Obito can say anything, turning bright eyes and a sun filled smile on him as she turns back to continue their conversation. “You should introduce them one time.”
“Oh,” Obito scratches the back of his head, “I’m not sure they like meeting new people, but I could ask.”
They argue for an hour when he tells them that night. Not the kind they normally have either. This one is hushed and fast with hand signs that Obito doesn’t know mixed in with serious faces as they debate. Obito feels something thick and bitter in the back of his throat, a pressure sitting in his eyes, and a hyper awareness that has his ears straining without his command. Because he caused this. And it’s already too late to take it back.
“Obito,” Sakura gets up from the table, a fierce look in her eyes, “would you tell your team that they’re welcome to come over tomorrow?”
He’s not so sure he wants them to anymore, but he can’t back down now. “Alright.”
She nods, hand coming down onto his shoulder as she starts herding him back to the table, “Now tell us about your first mission.”
“It was stupid,” he bites out, “we had to find this stupid cat and-.”
And there is laughter in green eyes, with two sets of shaking shoulders on either side of him.
He blinks, “What?”
“Memories,” Sasuke tells him, reaching out and poking him in the forehead. He rubs at the spot, a pout on his lips and a glare in his eyes.
“We had to do the same mission,” Naruto clarifies. “Tora, right?”
He opens the door after missions the next day to find the house sparkles. Obito blinks a few times to clear his vision. None of them are particularly interested in cleaning, and although it’s never truly dirty, their home had always been on the messy side.
“Obito,” Sasuke’s voice carries from down the hall. “If you don’t put your shoes away neatly we’re going through survival training again.”
Obito certainly does not squeak. Such an act is extremely un-shinobi like and he wouldn’t anything of the sort. (Although he does put his shoes away with care.)
“I made them clean everything,” Sakura hums from her position on the couch, book in hand. She sits happily atop the tangles legs of the other two, who are both sprawled unceremoniously on top of one each other.
“I didn’t even know some of that needed to be cleaned,” Naruto whines out from underneath Sasuke.
“That’s because you never bothered cleaning your old apartment,” Sakura sniffs.
Obito can’t help but smile as he clambers over to them, Naruto letting out an exaggerated grunt when he climbs to sit on Sasuke’s back. “My team said they’d be here in an hour,” he tells them as he shifts to get comfortable.
“Good,” Naruto says, “we still have time to sleep.”
Sakura doesn’t protest their laziness for once, only squirming until she can rise from the couch without difficulty. “Obi-chan do you want to nap with these idiots or help me prepare the rest of dinner?”
The words are said sweet as honey, a question that is anything but a choice. “I’ll help.” Because there is the promise of dish duty in her gaze and he’d rather not get stuck with Naruto and Sasuke while doing it.
“Are you excited?” Sakura asks him as he follows her to their small kitchen and starts gathering vegetables from the fridge.
“I guess,” he mumbles, “I just… Is this really okay?”
Sakura blinks at him as she ties a bandana over her hair and forehead, “What do you mean?”
“It’s just…” he fidgets, the floor becoming extensively interesting in that moment. “You guys discussed it for hours yesterday and it seemed…” he doesn’t know how to put it.
A hand comes to rest on his head, “Obito, it’s fine. We were just moving some plans around. We would have done it anyway with how our missions are going lately, so don’t worry about it, ‘kay?”
“M’kay,” he mumbles, earning him a rough flick of the forehead. “Hey! What was that for?”
“What was what for?” Sakura looks at him with wide, entirely not innocent, eyes.
The hour flies by faster than Obito thought it would. By the time there’s a knock on their door the table is full and yet it still feels like something is missing.
“Go, go,” Sakura says, ushering him out of the kitchen, “I’ll wake the idiots.”
Even if they both know they are very much awake. But Obito appreciates it all the same, because this is the first time he’s inviting anyone into his home and the thought has him practically skipping.
He beams as he opens the door to see his team, “Hey guys, come on in.” Even as he says it he’s moving aside for them. “Everyone else is-.” There’s a loud crash cutting him off and he can feel the eyes of his team on him.
There’s a few seconds of shifting, then a thump and finally nothing.
He rubs the back of his head with a chuckle, “Welcome to my home?”
There is no sign of destruction when they finally enter into the dining area. Just his three perfectly poised guardians. He bites back a snort.
“So you’re the team we’ve heard so much about?” Sakura smiles, all candy-drop kindness with no hint of the woman that punched through several trees during their training. “I’m Sakura, and these two idiots are Naruto and Sasuke. It’s nice to finally meet you all.”
“The pleasure is ours,” Minato-sensei replies. Obito swears there’s a calculating glint in his sensei’s blue eyes, one he doesn’t understand. And the smiles plastered on the faces of his guardians are tense in a way he hasn’t seen before.
The static atmosphere follows them all the way through dinner, making the experience more awkward than Naruto’s cheer should allow it to be. And it’s not like the blonde doesn’t try, but his wide smiles seem dimmed for a reason Obito can’t place.
“How’d you meet Obito?” Rin asks after another tense silence goes on for too long - Obito has never been happier for her than now.
“The bastard’s an Uchiha.” Naruto points at Sasuke, “When he finally decided to get his head out of his ass and take responsibility for Obito he was stuck with us.” Naruto finished waving a hand between himself and Sakura. They all ignore the way Sasuke reaches around Sakura and smacks Naruto upside the head.
That definitely wasn’t the answer his teammate was expecting if the look on her face is anything to go by.
“They showed up when I was little and never left,” he puts in, because having this whole affair fall back into silence doesn’t sound anything close to satisfying.
“Three strangers show up in your house and you don’t think to question it?” Kakashi looks at him like he’s grown a new head - or never had one at all.
It causes his cheeks to puff out, heating up to something he can only call a blush as indignation makes his chest tight. “They’re not strangers,” Obito argues back. “They were family.”
“That you hadn’t met before,” Kakashi deadpans.
“It’s not unusual,” Minato hums, the first time of the night that the man isn’t giving his guardians a strange look. “Especially for clans as large as the Uchiha.”
Kakashi huffs, “That doesn’t change that he hadn’t met them before. They could be lying.”
“Why Kakashi-chan,” Sakura smiles, green orbs alight with teasing, “I’m so happy to see my Obito has someone who cares for his safety so much on his team.”
Kakashi does something then that Obito has never seen before; he blushes. For a second Obito thinks that he’s imagining it, but from Rin’s reaction and Minato’s knowing smile it’s very much real. He gives Sakura a wide eyed look, his dark orbs shining in adoration at his guardian; she truly is amazing.
“You three are shinobi, are you not?” Minato asks during the lull in conversation.
“We are,” Naruto says, although Obito can tell that it is slightly hesitant.
Minato smiles, lips closed and eyes sharper than Obito has ever seen. “Really? I have never seen you three before.”
Sasuke snorts, “And?”
“I know most chunnin and jounin in this village,” Minato says. “With the reserves you three have you’re at least jounin level.”
“Then we’re part of that minority,” Sasuke replies calmly, starting to rise to his feet. He gives Naruto a nudge with his leg, “We’ll start on the dishes, Sakura.”
Wait,” Minato calls out to the two retreating shinobi. He looks Naruto in the eyes and it strikes Obito like lightening - his sensei and guardian look so alike it’s uncanny. “I never caught your last name.”
Naruto looks almost wistful before closing off, “No, you didn’t.” And with that the blonde ducks into the kitchen area and the sounds of water can be heard. Minato frowns slightly, looking pensively down at the rest of his dinner.
“His family is a hard subject for him,” Sakura speaks up, quiet in a way that Naruto won’t hear. “I apologize for his rudeness.”
“No, it’s fine. I just…” Minato trails off, and it’s the first time that Obito has ever seen a look even remotely close to sad on his sensei’s face.
“You two look alike,” Sakura finishes with a small smile, that knowing look in her eyes - always in her eyes. Minato blinks at her, and Sakura looks back down at her bowl. “He was an orphan.” She reveals, and meets Minato’s eyes with a silent conversation that Obito can’t catch even as he tries.
Rin shoots him a questioning look but Obito doesn’t have any answers.
The dinner ends soon after, the tension held throughout the night calmed to a small burble of what it once was, and although there is still suspicion in his sensei’s eyes as they say goodnight there is curiosity there too. (Obito counts that as a win.)
“I don’t think they like us very much,” Naruto is the first to speak as they shut the door and make their way back towards the living quarters.
Sasuke snorts, “Try suspicious.”
“They’re shinobi,” Sakura points out, “they’re meant to be suspicious.”
“’Sides,” Naruto flops onto the couch, “it just means they care enough about our Obi-chan that they’re willing to put even us under scrutiny.”
“But they didn’t need act that way towards you guys,” Obito huffs, ducking under the hand that’s reaching out to ruffle his hair. “You haven’t done anything to deserve it.”
“Every shinobi has done something to deserve suspicion,” Sasuke tells him, making himself comfortable by shoving Naruto’s legs off the cushions to sit down. “Remember that.”
“No ‘but’s,” Sakura starts pushing him out of the room, “now go get ready for bed.”
“But it’s not that late!”
“What did I say about ‘but’s?”
He grumbles all through brushing his teeth and getting changed into more comfortable clothes, but Sakura doesn’t relent and before he knows it he’s being tucked into bed.
“I’m not a child you know,” he complains, because it’s the most he can do in this situation.
“By my standards you are,” Sakura leans down and kisses him on the forehead. “Now sleep, Minato-sensei said you have early training tomorrow, we wouldn’t want you to be late.”
“I’m never late!”
Sakura hums, “That’s not what Rin-chan says.”
“When did she tell you that?”
“She didn’t,” Sakura laughs as he whines in protest that she cheated. “Now sleep,” she calls over her shoulder, exiting the room.
Not even a minute later Naruto sweeps in, a glint in his blue eyes and Obito is about to ask what the blond is doing when Naruto holds a finger to his mouth for silence. He sits on the edge of Obito’s bed, “You’ll be going on your first mission soon,” Naruto tells him. “I want you to be prepared.”
“I am,” Obito huffs out.
Naruto chuckles, “I’m sure you think you are. But, out there…” he shakes his head, “it’s different. It’s not a nice place. They won’t hesitate to cut you down because you’re their enemy, never underestimate anyone, got that?”
“Yeah,” Obito says, because it’s not often that Naruto gives him talks like this, but Obito has fast learned to listen when he does.
“But don’t lose your kindness,” Naruto smiles down at him, small and warm before he looks down at his hands, and it’s then that Obito realizes his guardian is holding something. “I believe that our world can find peace. Not the kind we have now, but a lasting one between all the villages, big and small. That we just need to be brave enough to move towards it, and one day the shinobi world will grow an understanding.” Naruto shakes his head at this, “An old sensei of mine once said that what truly makes a shinobi is not how many they kill, but that they endure no matter what, that they never go back on their ninja way. It’s time you start thinking about what your way is.”
With that Naruto got up, placing a book onto his bed, and ruffling his hair with a found smile before walking from the room.
Obito reaches over and picks the small novel up, the orange color immediately catching his eye. In the dim light of his room he can just make out the title, ‘The Tale of the Utterly Gutsy Shinobi’.