CHAPTER 1- A SHATTERED MIND
Team Seven wasn't having a good day, not at all and it went from bad to worse.
It started at exactly 9 am, when they had to meet for a mission outside the Village and, like usual, Obito was late. Until here all normal, after all the Uchiha was always late.
When all the members of Team Minato finally met, they briefly discussed the terms of the mission- apparently someone was spotted living in the forest outside the village and they had to find who it was and take said person to the Hogake for further research.
An easy mission...not exactly because they choose to go different ways to cover more areas and to keep in contact with a seal designed by not other than their Sensei, Minato Namikaze, and completely forgot how their raven haired team mate was awful with maps. Cue: he got lost and managed to lose the communication seal as well.
Kakashi couldn't care less than this, Rin wasn't exactly worried- annoyed was a better term to define it- and Minato was experiencing what someone would call "the beauty of parenting", completely forgetting how the missing boy wasn't even slightly related to the jounin.
Adding this to the poor results their scouting gave and they all were a bundle of ready-to-snap nerves.
In the end they decided to call it a day, it was 7 pm and dinner awaited them at home with their respective families, and they all told themselves that even if Obito wasn't the best he still was capable enough to survive in the harmless forest that surrounded Konoha.
They would find him only three days later, unconscious, with an amber furred fox guarding him- and that refused to leave his side- and sporting various injuries and bruises all over his body, an eyepatch they couldn't remove covering his left eye.
Obito woke up to a coughing fit that was probably caused by the water his... father dumped on him. Sitting up slowly on his bed he warily glanced at the imposing man that was a few feet away from him and refused to utter a word.
"Boy, I will give you ten minutes to be decent for breakfast. Fail to be on time and you skip this meal as well, and you get punished. Clear ?"
Nodding, he quickly stood up and bowed, racing for the bathroom in order to have a quick shower after taking a clear change of clothes, barely avoiding stepping on the tail of one of his kittens- from the white fur, he guessed it was Hisame (氷雨)- and quickly washed and changed himself, not even sparing a single glance at the mirror hanged above the sink. He hated them, actually he disliked every single reflecting surface, but mirrors were worse, mirrors could hurt him too...
On the nine minutes mark he stepped into the kitchen, slowly, careful to not make unnecessary sounds, standing at the left side of the door after muttering a quiet "Good morning" to make his parents aware of his presence in the room and only daring to sit at the table after his mother gave him permission.
He was always the last one to be able to sit down, the order was his father Kasai (火災), his mother Itsuwari (偽り), his five-year-older brother Yōgan (溶岩), his two-years-younger sister Kokuyōseki (黒曜石) and, last as usual, him.
Breakfast usually was spent in silence- unless there was something important to say- and as soon as he was finished Obito left the house while his parents went to attend clan business and his sibling went their separatr ways, Yōgan to the jounin mission board and Kokuyōseki to the ninja academy.
This morning, however, didn't look like a peaceful day. Judging by the glares his brother sent him, he wasn't going to leave the house anytime soon and even when he left, he suspected he was going to be in a lot of pain.
As he was pacing around the southern area of the forest, Obito found himself dropping his ever-present smile, a smile that was as fake as the plastic of his orange googles. Honestly, he was tired of this. Of the fake smiles, the fake laughs, the fake memories that a fake him created with a team that struggled to keep itself together.
He wondered, did he have any kind of purpose in this life? Or a need to be there? It was moments like this, when he could be his more darker self, stripped of his fakeness- the smiles, his googles, his whole cheerful personality- and just have a breath of fresh air. He couldn't show this him to the team, they would worry, maybe, his mask was by now so well built that he found it really hard to even be able to drop it for a moment.
This is why he was enjoying this alone-moment. Even if he was in a mission, the absence of his teammates and his sensei was refreshing to the point that sometimes he guiltily found himself thinking about a life without them. A life where he wasn't Obito Uchiha.
How he hates that name. They were so ashamed of him, ashamed that he bore the same name as a prodigy like young Itachi- the kid was clan heir, but he was already training with the Clan's most powerful jutsu- that they told the whole world that he was an orphan, that he had only his grandmother. Sure, the old woman- and here he was the one being ashamed, for not remembering her name- cared a lot about him but she was going senile and often found herself in the hospital for check- ups or bad health, and he was sure that it wouldn't be long before she died.
And then he would be alone.
Sure, he could confide in Minato-sensei, maybe Rin too, but then he would have to explain so much. They would ask just so much for him to bear through the whole QA session... Kakashi was out of the picture. Absolutely. Sure, he might understand what it's like to lose a close relative but he doubted he would be of much help. However, he would not ask troublesome questions. Like the origin of the new bruise- a darkish purple colour, tinted yellow in few points- that he sported, badly concealed with a lot of make up, on his left cheek. Or the ones adorning his ribcage and his back. The cuts on his arms too. Or the general fact that he wore a lot of thick, dark, baggy and long clothes everytime of the year, be it summer or winter.
He was aware that Kakashi noticed that something was up. The silver haired boy was far too observant for his own good, but he knew that the only reason he refrained himself from actually confronting him was because of his stubborn and apparently uncaring personality. Obito bet that it was a matter of a week at most before the other made a direct confrontation.
He sighed and passed a hand through his messy black hair.
"I wish I could just be alone."
"No, you don't." Who-
Obito only caught the sight of a pair of beautiful eyes- a deep sky blue, with darker zones and hints of purple and ruby red- and then he found himself falling to the ground before darkness engulfed him.
When they found him, Kakashi wasn't sure of what to think. Despite everything he said and told the other boy, in the end he couldn't just not care about his well- being. After all they were supposed to be a team and teams were composed of four people, a jounin sensei and three students.
As much trouble as Obito was, Kakashi considered him a good 'rival'- not that he would ever admit it. Sure, the raven haired boy was chronically late, annoying and a loud-mouth but at least he knew what it means to be a shinobi.
This is why when a small search team found the other boy in those conditions, without a single idea as to what could have happened to him and when they all reached the hospital it was found out that Obito had more serious injuries than expected, Kakashi truly didn't know what to do: a few broken ribs, a small skull fracture, a sprained wrist and ankle, a few broken fingers- hands and feet, muscular lacerations in the becepts and tights, internal bleeding in the stomach area and a lot of cuts and whipping-like marks. When Minato-sensei was informed about this he had nearly fainted, a luck that his girlfriend Kushina Uzumaki was with him to led him sitting on a chair; Rin soon asked to be able to heal his teammate and was granted permission, she was a certified Medic Ninja and she needed all the experience she could get: Kakashi instead went to ask the medic about the nature of those injuries. He had a feeling something wasn't right, especially about those cuts and whipping marks.
He was right.
This time he hated it.
The cuts were all about three to five centimeters long and were either positioned on both wrists, the abdomen or the calves, the olders had two months, the newers just a few days; the whipping marks were spread mostly on the back, with two or three on the chest area and newest marks covered older scars so much that it was impossible to correctly define their age.
Kakashi soon told this to his blond sensei and the redhead with him; as suspected, they were surprised at first but soon fell into a cold rage that promised murder to the culprit. Or culprits if there were more. Kakashi was more than willing to add his two cents too.
About the fox, Kakashi found out it could talk.
And that said fox didn't like to be referred as an 'it' either. Nanami, that was her name, the same name she gave to Obito himself when she found him and had asked for one. She soon took a liking to the silver haired chuunin, much to Minato and Kushina's amusement, and she had all but refused to climb down from her spot on his head.
"Your hair is fluffy and comfy, I'm sleeping here. Wake me up only when and if Obito-kun awakes before me." and that was it.
At least he was able to put her down on his lap, giving him the chance to inspect her: she had an amber coloured fur that was soft and clean, the tips of her tail, paws and ears a dark-brown, almost black colour and a mask like area around her mismatched eyes was connectec to the darker part of her pointy ears. And said ears resembled more those of a bunny than a fox's. Going back to her eyes, the left one was a deep sky blue with purple zones while the right one was ruby red mixed with gold. Then of course those eyes sported slitted pupils as well, he also suspected that her claws were sharp and long, like deadly kunai or senbons. Her most intriguing fact was that she had a ribbon tied loosely around her neck, deep blue with the ends a shade lighter with embroidered what looked like a crescent moon and a small sun.
He swore he saw that symbol somewhere.
He also swore to do his hardest to remember.
But now that wasn't his top priority. No. It was to find out who caused all those injuries to his hospitalized teammates. He started to notice that something was off a few weeks ago, but he told himself to wait for the best moment.
He now found himself unable to wait any longer, even if that mean to directly confront Obito as soon as he woke up.
Minato, we need to talk."
"Inoichi? About what? Something happened?"
Minato wasn't expecting that, for him that wasn't even a possibility. How could someone- with what courage you do that to a child? Obito may be twelve but in his eyes he was still a child.
Kushina needed to know.
Team Minato was all gathered at the house Kushina and Minato shared, all with a warm cup of tea and grim faces. They all knew just who Yamanaka Inoichi was. But not the reason as to why he was there with them. Apparently it was about their comatose teammate, asleep in the hospital now for a week.
"I was asked from the Hogake if I could check among Obito's memories of his time in the forest in order to find any kind of clue of possible aggressors. I agreed and entered the boy's mindscape. What I am about to tell you doesn't leave this house." they all nodded, eager to know more.
"In the simplest term, his mind is a mess. Usually a person's mindscape is organized in a certain way that reflect said person personality, often looking like a familiar place like their home or, sometimes, their ideal perfect place. Obito's mind isn't like this. While I could see a small organization of the mind, mostly about childhood memories and book-smart knowledge, I couldn't find more. In cases like this there are three options: the first is that the victim is suffering the after effects of a rather powerful genjutsu- A rank at least- the second option is that the state of the mindscape is an after effect of emotional trauma caused by a rather...violent experience, or the third option, one I don't like at all, that suggests mental health problems going from anxiety and depression to hypomania, bipolar disorders and borderline personality disorder, or BPD."
"What does that mean, Inoichi-sama?"
"Well Kakashi, due to Obito being an Uchiha we can exclude the first option. Sharingan or not, every member of their Clan start developing a resistance to genjutsu from the moment they start training their chakra so it's impossible for them to incur in any kind of mental trauma from a genjutsu." he paused to give them all the time to let it sink, sipping at his tea before continuing "However the last two options may also be related to one another and if it's true, considering the fact Obito is only twelve, it makes me wonder if the Hokage should really stay out of Clans's buisness."
They all shared a look, drinking their tea before Minato decided to speak.
"Before this meeting, we talked in order to clarify some doubts and we reached a conclusion. A bad one."
"...Sensei does it have anything to do to what Inoichi-sama said? About Obito being only twelve? Why are you afraid of this something being true?"
"Because we were, and still are, suspecting abuse."
Kushina choked on her breath, tears threatening to fall from her dark blue eyes, looking at her boyfriend with an emotions-filled expression.
"Minato? Inoichi? Please, please, tell me you are kidding. Please. You just- you can't- CHILD ABUSE! YOU CAN'T POSSIBLY THINK OBITO IS FORCED TO COPE WITH SOMETHING AS HORRIBLE AS THAT!"
The two chunin, Rin and Kakashi, while not grasping the gravity of what their sensei just said couldn't send away the feelling of dread that was settled on themselves and the woman tearfilled face and her outburst certainly didn't make things better.
"If you keep thinking about it, you won't be able to find a single thing." a new voice spoke, coming from the open window, and Kakashi was the first one to identify its possessor.
"Nanami. Why are you here? Didn't you say you wanted to stay with Obito until he awoke?"
"Well, Bakashi,” the fox- no, the kitsune as she explained earlier- with a jump landed on the silver haired boy’s head "Obito is awake. I supposed to wanted to know"
"Let's go visit him then. Inoichi, we'll finish this talk another day."
"Sure thing Minato. Think about the boy's recover first. See ya'."