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How To Save The World With No One Even Realizing

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Rin stares up at the rocks above her, her head spinning horribly. Captured, she thinks miserably. Again, and the thought causes her pain, because last time it had cost Obito his life. Her skin itches, and something cold and wet running down her thigh has her snapping her eyes open in alarm, heart leaping to her throat. She’s naked, straight up naked, and her fear only deepens by the sight of black lines painted into her skin, dried and old, with a shinobi crouching at her legs and painting fresh ones down it.

“Oh! She’s awake.” Another shinobi says and Rin, cover already blown before she could think to keep it, lifts her head. The large cave is filled with shinobi - Kiri, from the looks, and some of them seem to be their ANBU equivalent. “Good morning, sunshine.” The shinobi mocks, stepping up to her feet and staring down at her through a mask. “Don’t worry, sweetheart,” He adds with a pointed look down that has the blood rushing from her face. “You aren’t here for that. No, it’s even better.”

Rin can’t help but cringe, trying to lean away, trying to curl up to shield her assets, but she can’t move anything but her head. Her fear hits an entirely new level, almost choking in it’s intensity.

“Shut up, Namishi.” The one painting, now down her foot, hisses irritably. “Brag and bluster when it’s done. It’ll be easier when she doesn’t know what to fight.”

“Hmph. Or maybe you just don’t have the stomach for this.” The masked one, Namishi, snorts before turning on his heel. He heads for what looks like might have once been the mouth of the cave but has since been collapsed, hands in his pockets.

Only for the wall of rubble to suddenly shatter, raining rubble down on the ANBU and the other shinobi unfortunate enough to be near him. “What-” The man painting her lurches away in alarm as a pink-haired woman darts into the cave and pauses just long enough to look at them with big, innocent eyes that send chills down Rin’s spine.

“Oops. Am I interrupting something?” She asks sweetly, drawing a katana from her back.

For a moment, all Rin can see is the crimson streak left behind from the blade as the woman darts through the cave. She’s almost as fast as sensei, Rin thinks dizzyingly as blood - an incredible amount of blood - flies through the air with every death.

It takes seconds.

All she can think about is that they were ANBU, and it took seconds. The mysterious, pink-haired woman pauses when the last one drops, finally going still long enough for Rin to actually see her.

Her hair is short and loose, and it’s a soft, cotton pink where the bloodspray isn’t staining it red. It’s almost laughable - though maybe that’s the terror trying to bubble out of her - how gentle a color it is. She wears a sleeveless, high-collared, qipao-esque dress that’s a deep, crimson color, dark enough to barely show the blood spattering it. It stops just short of her bellybutton, veering around to stretch down to her knees in the back. She has white pants on under that, mid-calf length, and black high heels, of all things.

The woman sighs and crouches down over the nearest body, reaching out with black gloved hands to grab their pant leg - which she then uses to wipe off her sword.

Her dark red sword, dark enough that it doesn’t look very different without the blood on it, that leaves a faint streak with every motion.

Chakra blade, Rin realizes, stunned.

Who in the world is this mystery woman?

Chakra blades are rare, incredibly expensive, and stunningly difficult to imbue with a chakra-type. Kakashi’s white one had been imbued over two generations with lightning-type chakra, giving it the white coloring it had. If she had to guess, she’d have to assume the mystery woman’s was imbued with fire-type, giving it the red coloring.

But her confused thoughts stutter to a sudden stop when the woman stands back up and turns to walk towards her. “Hey, there.” She greets, and the smile she flashes Rin is warm but it’s not at all reassuring, especially not with her next words. “Don’t worry. You’ll be home when you wake up.”

Before Rin can do more than flinch with wide, frightened eyes, the woman reaches out with a bloody, leather-gloved hand and presses it to her forehead.

Nauseatingly intense drowsiness hits her with the force of a chakra-punch to the face, and her eyes roll back all on their own.

“We’re clear.” She hears the woman say, her voice losing all warmth and replacing it with frigid hardness.

She’s unconscious an instant later, unable to fight it any longer.

 

When she wakes up, it’s in one of the large jutsu rooms in the hospital basement, Minato studiously painting seals all around her while Kushina carefully examines her chest.

Rin can’t quite help the soft hitch in her breathing, confusion quickly transforming into alarm, and Kushina’s head snaps up to look at her face. “Hey, hey, calm down.” Kushina says quickly, which makes Minato whip around, and oh god.

She’s still naked. Someone had draped a thin cloth over her breasts and hips, but she’s still naked, and on top of the natural alarm and disgust at that, now Minato’s right there. Shame rushes through her, mixing with the terrified confusion gripping her, and nothing in the world could stop her eyes from tearing up.

Even so, Kushina instantly dabs a cloth at the corners of her eyes, allowing none of the tears to escape them. “Don’t cry, Rin.” She says, and it’s not a comforting tone of voice but a firm, grim command.

“You’re covered in seals, Rin.” Minato adds, very carefully kneeling at her other side, and the expression on his face is almost worse than what she’s already feeling.

It’s the same expression he’d worn when Obito died. Grim and tense with grief and anger all rolled into one.

But why? Why did he have reason to grieve? Had something happened?

She swallows thickly and belatedly tries to speak. “How…?” She manages to force out, but god, it’s hard to speak. She’s not entirely sure why, but she can only assume it as to do with the fact that she can't control her breathing for some reason.

“Kakashi brought you back, Rin.” Minato explains and Kushina makes a soft noise in the back of her throat before she shifts back again, leaning down to intently examine Rin’s stomach. “You were taken by Kiri. Do you remember that?” He asks, and with effort, she’s able to carefully nod once. “Great. They put a few seals on you that we’re working to get off, alright?” Minato says quietly and she grimaces deeply at that. “One of them’s a paralysis seal. That’s why you can’t move.”

“Stolen right out of Uzushio, too.” Kushina adds darkly. “I’ll have it off in no time, Rin, don’t worry.” She says, but any attempt at reassurance is ruined by the way she and Minato exchange quick, grim looks at that.

“What?” Rin asks tightly and Minato’s frown deepens a little.

“There was another seal on you, Rin.” Minato explains slowly. “On your heart.”

Which… how? Rin tries to ask it with her eyes and Minato sighs heavily.

“I don’t know how it was there, or how it was removed, but whatever it was, it was… a very nasty curse seal, Rin. Whatever it was, it was powerful enough to leave chakra traces all over you. That’s why you can’t cry right now. We can’t tamper with any of the seals from that fuinjutsu until the chakra’s gone, and it’s hard to figure what seals went with what jutsu.”

“I think I’m ready.” Kushina says suddenly, interrupting Minato, and the blonde pauses to look at her. “Should only take a moment to remove it - and painlessly, to boot.” Kushina elaborates reassuringly, and Rin offers her a weak smile until Minato looks back down at her.

“Don’t move, Rin, even after it’s gone. You can’t smudge these seals - we don’t know what it’ll let that leftover chakra do.” Minato instructs sternly, and all she can do is nod at that.

“Alright. This’ll itch - don’t scratch.” Kushina warns.

Before she can even consider reacting, there’s a flare of chakra and her stomach tingles maddeningly.

It lasts only a moment before warmth spreads across her chest and suddenly she can breathe. “Oh thank god,” Rin exhales before she can help herself and Kushina flashes a quick grin.

“I also go by Kushina.” She jokes.

Minato’s lips give a faint twitch before he clears his throat and the slight lightness of the mood crashes down again. “I need you to tell me everything you remember, Rin.”

He’s kind enough to give her a moment to think. Kushina steps back, examining and then slowly painting more seals on the floor around her, and Minato quietly watches her while Rin gathers her thoughts.

She orders them as best as she can, and then starts to speak. “I was taken out of the camp. I don’t remember how - I only woke up once, and it was after I was taken. They were quick to knock me back out. When I woke up again, I was in a cave - a big one, and they’d collapsed the opening to it.” Rin recalls as steadily as she can. “I was… they’d stripped me, and one of them was painting seals down my legs. Another one of them mocked me, saying something about it being worse than whatever I was imagining. The one painting the seals told him to shut up, that ‘it’ would be easier if I didn’t know what to fight.” Rin explains slowly, shaking her head helplessly at Minato’s questioning expression. “I don’t know what they meant. Almost immediately after that…” She pauses, brow furrowing.

It didn’t seem real, to be honest. It had been so quick and so… bizarre. “There was a woman. She blew the cave entrance open again and crushed several with the rubble. She had a sword, sensei.” Rin adds quickly, because that was definitely a defining feature. “I think it was a chakra blade, because it was dark red and left streaks behind like Kakashi’s white one did.”

His brow furrows at this, lips twisting down grimly, but he doesn’t say anything so she sweeps on.

“She killed them. All of them. They were ANBU, but she took them out in seconds, sensei. She was almost as fast as you. There had to be at least twenty ANBU in there, but they were dead in seconds.” Rin recalls, shaking her head incredulously. “And then she just walked over to me when it was done. She said, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll be home when you wake up’, and then put her hand on my forehead.” Rin pauses, swallowing at the rush of anxiety hitting her. All she’d done was touch her and she was out, completely helpless. Who knew what the mystery woman had done to her? “Then I woke up here.”

For a very long moment, Minato stares at her in tense silence, his eyes narrowed in consideration.

“...She had pink hair.” Rin remembers belatedly, frowning softly. “Bubble-gum pink. Short hair, down to her chin - and I don’t think she was alone. I remember…” Rin says softly, trying to recall the exact words. “I remember she said ‘we’re clear’, right before I passed out.”

Another long silence, and then Minato expels a heavy breath. “I see. Thank you, Rin, this’ll help us.” He says, but the dangerous, dark look he exchanges with Kushina makes her doubt his truthfulness. Minato shakes his head once and then pushes to his feet, picking back up the brush he’d discarded some time ago. “Right. Let’s get that chakra out of you, hm?”

 


 

Obito could honestly say he was not expecting the massive boulder blocking the entrance of the cave to suddenly explode.

In fact, it was the very last thing he expected to happen.

Followed immediately by the single most confusing, terrifying, and downright weird experience of his entire life - and that included the experience that put him in this cave to begin with.

The boulder explodes, and two streaks of light - one a smooth red, the other a jumping blue - rush through the flying rubble and dust, and before Obito can do more than widen his eyes, the red streak hits Guruguru and turns him into a disgusting, gooey splatter on the distant wall. “...Ew.” A woman’s voice says emphatically, and Obito turns his head to see the blue streak standing over Madara’s sitting form, a lightning-charged sword held to his throat.

“What-” Obito starts to ask, breathless and gasping because what the fuck just happened, and promptly shuts up when the red-streak turns towards him.

She’s not red. Her dress is red, and there’s an alarming amount of blood-red color splattered in her bubblegum pink hair - but the streak comes from her dark red sword, which is suddenly held in an inch from his eyes. “Hello.” The woman greets with a smile.

He doesn’t move. He barely even breathes, and it takes all his willpower to not look cross-eyed at the sword between his eyes.

Madara is dead silent, and whoever the woman’s companion is is equally so.

He can’t help it. “What?” Obito manages to whimper, confused and more than a little bit completely terrified, and the woman tilts her head a little, smiling even warmer.

It is quite possibly the scariest thing he’s ever seen, and he thought Madara was a real shinigami not too long ago.

“No need to worry, Obito-chan.” The woman chirps just as warmly as her smile.

Oh my god she’s a psychopath, Obito realizes. “How do you-”

The blade twitches, turning ever so slightly, and Obito shuts up again.

“Good boy.” The woman approves.

He’d be more offended if he wasn’t so afraid of breathing.

“He’s not here.” The mystery man says suddenly, dark and angry, and the woman hums lightly, her smile fading.

“Any sign?”

“Not a damn thing.” The man growls.

The woman frowns, her bright green eyes suddenly even more deadly, and she lightly taps Obito’s cheek with the flat of her sword tip.

He blinks violently, but doesn’t flinch, afraid for his face. And life in general, really.

“Don’t. Move.” The woman instructs, slow and firm, and then she whips around.

He tries to slump the moment her back is turned, relief almost crippling him, but he actually can’t move. He physically can’t move at all other than to breathe and blink, frozen with his bad arm lifting him halfway up onto his elbow.

The very brief moment of relief is completely ruined by the terror slamming into him at full force again. What’s happening? Obito wonders, desperately trying to at least twitch, but nothing. Not a damn thing.

He watches the mystery woman walk up and stop next to the man, who Obito can now see has spiked, black hair, though his body is hidden by a heavy, shapeless cloak. The only part of him visible is the side of his face and the arm extended, holding his lightning-sparking blade to Madara’s neck. Madara, whose skin is pale and his breathing even raspier than usual. He actually… he actually looks afraid, Obito realizes with a horrified, sick kind of awe.

What the hell had the man done to make Madara look like that?

“That’s very unfortunate for you, Madara-sama.” The woman says calmly, sheathing her sword over her shoulder. She leans forward then, resting her hands on her knees and leaning until they’re at eye level. “That would have been your only chance at redemption. Tell me, have you realized yet? Just how… deluded you are?”

“Not very likely.” The man drawls before Madara could possibly answer. Then they pause for a response, of which does not come. “I told you so.”

“So you did.” The woman agrees mildly. “Fine. If he doesn’t even know, then I don’t care. Do what you want, but leave his face alone.” The woman says as she straightens up and turns back around towards Obito. She pauses only long enough to pass a scroll to the man before she heads towards Obito, stopping when she’s right in front of him.

He can’t see anything around her, but he hears the wet, slick slice of a blade through flesh and bone, and salty saliva pools into his mouth. Don’t throw up, don’t throw up, don’t throw up. Obito tells himself firmly, because he doesn't even want to think about what that would lead to when he can’t even open his mouth.

“Don’t forget to wipe the sword off.” The woman says distractedly, reaching out to put her hand against Obito’s chest. He cringes, nausea only growing, at the sensation of her chakra invading his system. It’s a soothing sensation, but he doesn’t like it, because who knows what she’s doing? Or planning to do? “We don’t know what he has in him.”

“Tch. Easier for me to just use your sword, then.” The man scoffs from across the cave and the woman rolls her eyes, then reaches up and cups Obito’s face.

His breathing stills as her fingers gently but firmly prod all along his face, a small, thoughtful frown tugging at her red-painted lips. Then she lightly thumbs his upper eyelids and pushes them up. Obito really cringes then, knowing she’s staring into an empty socket on his left side. He hasn’t seen it himself - now that’d really be puke worthy - but it can’t possibly not be disgusting. “It’s a good thing Naruto isn’t here.” She mutters, nose wrinkling, before releasing her grip on his eyelids. “He’d probably go around restoring things without thinking them through, and then we’d really have to kill you.”

What.

Obito’s brain stalls for a second.

Sure, it was terrifying having her loom all dangerous and psychopathic over him, but for her to outright say that is an unwelcome kind of shock. Something clearly shows on his face because she lightly pats his cheek before pulling her hands back. “Don’t worry, Obito-chan. I’m a medic.” She says, and smiles warmly again - but this time with a hint of genuine gentleness that actually does put him a little bit at ease.

At least until she steps to the side and the man stabs him through the chest.

For a moment, all he can do is stare wide eyed at the lightning dancing up the blade, a horrible, sickening sensation spreading through his chest.

And then he’s gone.

 


 

He wakes up in a clearing in the trees, the pink-haired woman sitting casually a few feet away. “Oh my god,” Obito gasps in a breath he shouldn’t be able to take, sitting up and scooting frantically away from her. He doesn’t stop until his back hits a tree trunk, and then then he only pauses when he realizes that to get around it, he’d have to turn his back to her.

Then he slumps, his heart hammering against his ribs, and stares at her with one wide, terrified eye.

She smiles sadly at him, genuine and so much less terrifying than before, but still pretty damn scary because she murdered him.

“How- How am-”

“Medic-nin.” The woman offers apologetically, waving a hand vaguely. “I healed you. We didn’t want you dead.” The woman says, her smile dying away, and the hard, contemplative way she looks at him is almost more frightening than her earlier smiles. “Tell me, Obito-chan. Did you choose to stay with that withered old monster?” She asks in a perfectly controlled voice.

She doesn’t even have to do anything, and he’s completely terrified by her presence.

“No!” It’s both humbling and shaming to be so afraid of her so easily, and Obito has to take a moment to just breathe before he can try speaking further. “No, I can’t- I can’t walk. Not far.” He explains shakily, taking a ragged breath and trying to at least steady his voice. “My… my leg. It’s messed up.”

Which was an understatement, but ‘crushed by a boulder with most of the thigh replaced by creepy monster flesh’ was a much longer story to tell. He sure wasn’t going to tell her, anyways.

“Hmph. Well, lucky for you, then, kid.” The woman hums, rising to her feet, and oh god, his blood pressure rises with her. She walks slowly towards him, and it takes everything he has not to turn and run like a complete, miserable coward. She crouches once she’s reached him, extending a hand, and Obito blinks stupidly at the scroll held in it. “This is for your Hokage, Obito-chan. Tell him it’s a gift, free of charge.” The woman says, and there’s that goddamned smile again, sending chills down his spine. She sets it on his chest, his hands clenched into fists at his side, and holds the scroll there with a fingertip.

“Tell him we appreciate the delicacy of the situation.” The woman instructs slowly. “And then tell him to stay out of our way.” The woman adds, her smile going away. It isn’t replaced by anything more terrifying, but her emerald green eyes burn with the intensity of the stare she locks on him. All he can do is hold her gaze and hope he doesn’t look at pathetically weak as he feels. “We have a purpose. We will not be stopped.” She says in that silky, deadly calm tone he’s only ever heard Orochimaru use as effectively as she does.

Then she lets go of the scroll, which drops into his lap, and rises to her feet. She pauses to brush off her knees, then frowns down at him. “Though with any luck, we won’t have any reason to return to the Land of Fire anyways. Konoha’s a kilometer that way - the path is only about a hundred and thirty yards that way,” The woman says, gesturing to each direction. “I suggest you pick the path. Good luck, Obito-chan - I’ll be very irritated if you don’t get home safe.”

And before he can decipher that bizarre new personality twist, she turns and vanishes with a quick shunshin.

He scrambles to his feet. It hurts, pain lancing up his thigh at the sudden movement and pressure, but he ignores it. He ignores it, and Obito limps as fast and as far the fuck away from the trees as he can get.

It takes almost ten minutes to go a hundred and thirty yards. It’s miserable, and Obito manages to feel all the more pathetic by the end of it, even if he is a little bit proud to have made it.

Of course, by ‘made it’, he means that he pretty much faceplants on the path and tries not to breathe in too much dirt. And then he valiantly passes out.

He wakes up to hands on his shoulders, and his instinctive reaction is to flinch away with a sharp, breathless gasp. The hands abruptly go still and his eye flies open to see two shinobi he doesn’t recognize leaning over him, and Obito wants to cry at the sight of the familiar hitai-ates on their foreheads. “Don’t touch my arm.” Obito begs them, shaky and rough, because that would be the last damned straw. Tugging it too much was still capable of yanking the damn thing off, and now he couldn’t-

He couldn’t replace it.

“Shit, kid.” The one gripping his shoulders murmurs, grimacing, and shifts his hand away from Obito’s right shoulder. “Got a name, there?”

Obito closes his eye for a moment, taking a deep, steadying breath, and it’s so much easier now that Crazy McPinkhair is gone. When he opens his eye again, it’s with his Sharingan burning, and the man tenses a little in surprise. “Obito Uchiha. I’ve been held captive.” He forces out as steadily as he can, then lifts up the scroll the woman had dropped on him. “For the Hokage,” he adds tiredly, and the shinobi looks up at his partner with a grimace.

“Right. Let’s go, then.” He says, shifting his hand under Obito’s knees and lifting him up. He’s too tired to be indignant about it, and a moment later the shinobi’s shifting him onto his partner’s back in a much more dignifying position. Obito can’t help but slump in utter relief.

He can’t help the way his eye burns with tears, relief and grief hitting him in equal, overwhelming amounts. All he can do is close his eye and rest his forehead against the shinobi’s shoulder, the familiar texture of the flak vest driving the point further.

He’s going home. He’s really going home.

 


 

Konoha is quiet, and in a very bad way. The kind that makes you think, it’s too quiet. Something terrible is happening.

In reality, though few people would ever realize it, something great is happening.

Deep down in his evil little lair of a home, Danzo Shimura’s head is being chopped off.

No one comes to save him. Not even his little brainwashed servant children, as they’re all mysteriously unconscious in the hallways. They’ll wake up with no memory of how they even got where they were, much less what took them all out. They’ll wake up, and they’ll finally sound the alarm, but it’ll be far, far too late.

By then, Danzo’s body will be a fried, twitching body on the floor, and his head will be perched on his own sword, sticking up out of his desk like a pike.

And stuck to his forehead will be a small note reading,

‘If you want to know why I did this, take a look into his memories.’

(Three days later, Inoichi Yamanaka will stumble out of the autopsy room and vomit. Hiruzen Sarutobi will bow his head and wonder how he can still be so naive after a life as violent as he’s lived. No one will be able to say for sure who took out Danzo, but those very few who are in the know will be grateful for the mystery murderer.)

 


 

Obito wakes up in a hospital bed, which means two things.

One, someone used a jutsu on him, because there’s no way he slept through all that movement and also having his clothes changed.

Two, he’s not waking in T&I, so he figures they did something to determine that he is, in fact, that dead guy he was claiming to be.

He’s relieved at both things, because again: not in T&I, always something to be relieved about, and because thank god, real clothing, and a real bed! With real sheets! And a real blanket!

Obito runs his fingers down the fabric, unable to quite contain his awe. His right arm is still attached, too, and an experimental wiggle of his toes confirms his leg is in good order as well. Awesome. He lifts his head a little to take a look at the room, and nearly swallows his tongue he flinches so hard.

Minato, lurking in the corner of the room, immediately looks stricken. “It’s alright, Obito, it’s just me.” he says quickly but soothingly, and it makes Obito hiss his breath out through his teeth.

When did I become such a damned coward, he can’t help but wonder bitterly. “It’s fine. I’m fine.” Obito says immediately, mostly to get that look off Minato’s face, but his sensei only looks more guilty before he glances grimly down at the floor. Obito watches him for a moment, taking in the exhausted way the man holds his shoulders, the guilty way he frowns at the floor, and the overall mood of… severity he exudes. “Here to interrogate me?” Obito asks quietly, and he’s far more exhausted than he could ever be bitter - but it still makes Minato grimace deeper.

Still, the man swallows hard and straightens up, sighing heavily. “Yeah. Yeah, I am.” Minato admits, his guilt draining away and replaced by grim resignation. He doesn’t move closer, though, and Obito…

Obito’s shamefully relieved by that.

He doesn’t fully understand why. He was so happy at the idea of coming home, of seeing everyone again, and even now he desperately wants to hug the man - but not as desperately as he wants to put more distance between them. The room’s space isn’t enough - especially not with Minato subtly blocking his path to the door, making the fluttery, trapped sensation in Obito’s chest even worse.

Obito’s-...

He reaches up tentatively, his hand shaking, and very carefully presses down on his chest.

Nothing. Not a damn thing, not even the over sensitivity of freshly healed wounds. “They stabbed me.” He says incredulously, and Minato’s head snaps up at that.

“Who-” he starts, then cuts himself off and takes a deep breath. “Alright.” Minato says sternly enough that Obito’s attention automatically returns to the man, even as he fists the front of his gown and rubs his knuckles into the confusingly normal feeling flesh. “Start from the beginning, Obito.” Minato instructs, folding his arms across his chest and leaning against the wall.

Even with the distance, he feels uncomfortably pressured, and he takes a moment to swallow thickly before he tries to speak. “He had servants.” Obito starts hoarsely, closing his eye and trying to figure out how to even describe the Zetsus. “One of them pulled me from the rubble and took me to him. They’re… made out of Hashirama cells. The same thing my-” Obito chokes off, taking another breath before he tries again. “The same thing he replaced my arm and- and my right side with. I couldn’t leave. I tried. He- he cut off part of my leg, so I couldn’t walk, so I- I tried to drag myself, but he blocked off the cave entrance.”

It hadn’t seemed so bad at the time. The initial rush of fear, the helplessness, that had been awful - but after those first couple of weeks, things hadn’t… seemed so bad. But now, now that he’s speaking about it in the sanctity of Konoha, under Minato’s intense watch, it seems so much worse.

He was safe here, he was comfortable here, and that was making it all the more clear to him just how unsafe he’d been in that cave. Just how much of a prisoner he’d well and truly been.

It’s not a pleasant realization. It takes him time and effort to get through his tale of his time spent there, with multiple pauses to just breathe. But Minato doesn’t push him, doesn’t speak at all as Obito details his… imprisonment.

“How did you get free?” Minato asks him at the end of his tale, and Obito lifts a hand to rub at his aching eye.

“I don’t even know how to describe it. It came out of nowhere. We were.. It was all quiet. The Zetsus, they kept an eye on everything, but there was no warning. They must’ve killed them.” Obito realizes aloud, pausing, and once more Minato’s silent as he lets Obito gather his thoughts. “I was laying down. I’d already walked across the cave three times. The boulder, it just exploded. There was- they were so fast, all I could see was the streaks they left behind. One of them, a woman, took out the Zetsu watching me before the rubble even hit the ground - and the other went for Madara.”

“I don’t know what he did to him. I didn’t hear anything at all, but the woman, she- she knew who I was. She blocked my sight of Madara and held a sword between my eyes and she said my name.” Obito says slowly, lowering his hand and opening his eye to stare at it unseeingly. How had she known his name, and how had he not noticed before hand?

Oh, right.

The terror. He almost forgot about that.

“She had a bright red sword. It left streaks behind, like Kakashi’s White Fang. She tapped me with it and told me to stay still, and I couldn’t move at all. I could blink, but that was it.” Obito recalls incredulously. “I don’t know how she did it. The man with her, somehow he scared the hell out of Madara. I couldn’t see much of him - he wore a black cloak, but he had black, spiky hair, and used a sword-” Oh, God.

Used a sword that was probably going to haunt Obito’s dreams for the rest of his damn life.

“He used a sword, too, but it didn’t shimmer like hers did. He- he pushed lightning chakra across-” Obito chokes off, and it’s a lucky thing Minato’s so fast, because otherwise he’d puke all over his own pillow instead of into a teleporting emesis basin.

“Stop, Obito.” Minato says tiredly, but Obito shakes his head, spitting out foul saliva into the basin, which disappears a moment later - and then Minato’s at the foot of his bed, lips pressed hard together.

“I can do this.” Obito protests, setting his jaw, and Minato grimaces.

“I know you can, but is it worth it to force it now?” Minato points out quietly.

“Yes.” Obito snaps without hesitation, because if he does it now, he won’t have to talk about it late . “He used lightning chakra down the length of the sword. He- I don’t understand the conversation, but he and the woman, they demanded to know about someone, a ‘him’, but I don’t know who. It was only me and the Zetsus ever in the cave.” He explains, shaking his head. “She was pissed. She mocked him for being deluded, then told the man to do what he wanted. She walked back over to me and I couldn’t see them anymore but- but she passed him a scroll, and I know what I heard,” Obito says, and it’s suddenly hard to breathe. He looks up at Minato helplessly, deeply upset without understanding why. Surely he didn’t mourn the man? “Madara’s dead, isn’t he? They killed him?” He asks tightly.

Minato’s lips press even harder together. Then he nods a slow, damning nod.

It hurts.

He doesn’t know why, but it hurts. He’s… he grieves for the old, psychopathic bastard, and that’s more upsetting than the actual grief itself. “His head was in the scroll?” Obito chokes out.

Minato reaches out to set a hand on Obito’s foot, and god damn it, he can’t help but flinch away, jerking his leg up. All he can do is stare, wide-eyed and apologetic at the horrified face Minato makes for a split second. Then he goes carefully blank-faced again and takes a step back. “Wait. I’m sorry.” Obito says urgently, sitting up to reach for the man, and wow is that a mistake. His head spins violently and his chest twinges, and he suddenly finds himself staring up at the ceiling again, dizzy.

It feels like chakra exhaustion, which makes no sense at all.

“We’ll finish up tomorrow, Obito. Rest.” Minato says quietly.

It’s a statement to how good of an idea that is that Obito can’t even protest. All he can do is obediently close his eye again, and he’s asleep before the world can manage to stop spinning sickeningly around him.

 




The next day he feels… worse.

Sort of.

Like all the energy in the world has been sucked away.

It makes Minato watch him uncomfortably intently, and he brings a Yamanaka with him, too. He lurks in the corner, really lurks, not like Minato-lurk, and it both makes it easier to ignore him and impossible to outright forget he’s there.

“Start from where you left off. You heard the man kill Madara and the woman was in front of you.” Minato instructs softly.

Obito doesn’t close his eye this time, because it makes it too easy to picture the memories. Instead he stares intently at his hands, his right arm carefully bandaged from shoulder to fingertip. “She grabbed me. Started feeling my chest and face, I don’t know why. She - she peeled my right eye open and-” Obito pauses for a split second, remembering the weirdness she’d said after that. “She said, ‘It’s a good thing Naruto isn’t here’.” Obito recites slowly, trying to remember it word for word, and he doesn’t notice the way Minato stiffens at the name. “She said something really weird. ‘He’d go around… restoring everything’?” Obito tests the words and then nods when they sound right.

“Yeah. ‘He’d go around restoring everything, and then we’d really have to kill you’.” He does notice Minato tensing at this part, his eyes narrowing slightly with what was probably straight up rage instead of mild irritation, knowing how contained his sensei was. Is? Still is, apparently. “And then she…” Obito pauses, taking a slightly-too-ragged breath, and tries again. “She said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m a medic’, then stepped- stepped to the side and-”

Damn it. Obito lifts his good hand up to rub at his eye, taking slow breaths. He figures he must be doing a good enough job staying on the right side of a mental breakdown, because the Yamanaka doesn’t come running at him or anything. “The man stabbed me in the heart.” Obito says in a flat rush, forcedly calm.

There’s a moment of silence and a faint tickle of killing intent. “What?” Minato asks slowly.

“Yeah. Lightning sword. I don’t- I woke up in the forest and she was the only one with me. Said she healed me.” Obito says quickly, hurrying onto less panic-inducing memories. “She demanded to know if I stayed with Madara intentionally.” Obito adds, shaking his head helplessly. “I said no. I’m pretty sure if I said yes, she would’ve killed me for real - but I didn’t stay with him willingly, and she believed me. Then she gave me that scroll and told me to tell the Hokage that… it was a gift, ‘free of charge’. That they ‘understood the delicacy of the situation’, and to, and I’m quoting here, ‘Stay out of our way’. That they have a purpose, and won’t be stopped.” Obito trails off, lowering his hand and looking up at Minato apologetically.

“Then she pointed me to the path and left. I don’t know where she- Wait. She did say they weren’t planning on returning to the Land of Fire.” He remembers suddenly, frowning at Minato.

Who frowns darkly back, his arms folded and gripping the opposite biceps. “Describe her to me.” Minato instructs after a long pause.

“Short pink hair, about chin length. Had a lot of blood-splattered on her. She wore a red dress, dark and it stopped at her belly button in the front, but went down to her knees in the back. White pants underneath.” Obito recites off quickly, his brow furrowing in concentration. “She wore high heels. The special, kunoichi-issue kind. Black, but no hitai-ate at all. Not even a plateless one. Green eyes, kind of emerald. I didn’t see much of the man. I only saw he had black hair.” He trails off there, having no more real information to offer.

Minato’s silent for a long, considering moment, and then he sighs softly. “Alright. Tell me more about these ‘White Zetsus'.”

 


 

“Killer B and Yugito Nii have gone missing.” Sarutobi informs Minato, two weeks after Obito’s return.

It says a lot about the month that all Minato can do is sit down and rub his hands over his face. “How?” He asks eventually, muffled by his palms, and Sarutobi sighs heavily.

“Yugito Nii was last seen in open combat with a pink-haired woman with an unusual red sword.” Sarutobi says grimly, confirming his fears. The damned woman, again. “And Killer B was last seen running away from Kumogakure with a blonde haired man in an orange jumpsuit and a red haori, and a black-haired man whose features were concealed by a cloak.”

“There’s more of them?” Minato croaks, not yet willing to pull his hands off his face.

God, he really needs some sleep.

“It certainly appears so. Reports imply Killer B went along willingly. Yugito Nii, not as much.”

He lowers his hands, meeting Sarutobi’s grim stare. “She was able to subdue her?”

“Reports indicate that after a short battle, Yugito appeared to be ‘controlled’ and forced to leave with our mystery woman.” Sarutobi explains, then pauses to inhale around his pipe. “It’s safe to assume that there are three of them, and she is their leader.”

“She’s a child, but Nii is no pushover. I’ve read reports of the skirmishes she’s been in - she’s brutal, and she has complete control of her bijuu. Killer B even more so.” Minato shakes his head, resisting the urge to throw his arms up over his head. “What in the world do they want? It can’t be the bijuu. Killer B would never have gone willingly if that was their goal.”

“Assuming that he was willing, and her companions did not employ the same assumed jutsu that the woman used on Yugito Nii.” Sarutobi acknowledges with a deep frown.

“What are the chances of that? It’s likely a kekkei genkai, from the way Obito described it. All she had to do was touch him.” Minato points out, lifting a hand to rub at his chin. “If they are after the bijuu, they have three so far.” He says, then pauses. “The woman told Obito they weren’t planning on returning to the Land of Fire. A ploy to get our guard down so they can try to get Kushina?” He asks doubtfully.

That would be one sad ploy, if that were the case. They were never going to let their guard down around Kushina, and with this theory in hand now, they’d increase their guard until the mystery group was well and firmly dealt with.

“Kirigakure has been strangely silent on this matter.” Sarutobi informs him with a strange note to his voice.

Minato pauses in his thoughts to look up at him searchingly. Sarutobi’s eyes are narrowed on his hands, fiddling with his pipe. Wherever his thoughts are, they can’t be anywhere good. “They wouldn’t want to admit their bijuu got swept out from under their feet by a random missing-nin.” Minato points out and Sarutobi gives a small, noncommittal hum. “What are you thinking, Hokage-sama?”

“Hm. Nothing yet.” Sarutobi huffs, lifting his pipe back to his mouth. “How is Obito-kun?”

Minato grimaces deeply. “Not well, unsurprisingly.” He mutters, reaching up to run his hand through his hair. Ugh, he really needs a shower, too. A shower and a bed. “Haruna, the Yamanaka assigned to him has finally cleared him for visitation, but… it hasn’t gone well. Kakashi refuses to go, and Rin cried, and then he cried, and then she tried to hug him-”

And then he threw Rin across the room and only Minato’s quick movements had stopped her from going through a window, and then Obito had a mental breakdown from sheer guilt and panic.

“It didn’t go well.” Minato concludes quietly.

“...Understandable, of course.” Sarutobi says just as solemnly, exhaling a plume of smoke into the room. “A year in the grasp of Madara Uchiha himself. If I was not - as she claims - gifted his head, then I wouldn’t believe it possible.” Sarutobi heaves a heavy sigh that only makes Minato feel more exhausted, mentally and physically. “He has been through an incredible trial, and now he must go through another before he’ll be able to stand on his own two feet again.” Literally, unfortunately.

It hurts to even think about it. Minato can’t even imagine waking up to find out Madara Uchiha himself had cut off a quarter of your body and replaced it with… well. Alien DNA of some sort, apparently. Something never seen before, with Hashirama cells scattered throughout to make it even more concerning. He can’t even imagine it, and the knowledge that his student spent a year living it is utterly horrifying.

And then there was the matter of the chakra that had radiated through him when he first returned. Minato and Kushina had recognized it immediately, of course. It was the same chakra that had been in Rin, only even more potent. Much more potent. Possibly because of how long he may have had it, as opposed to her only having it for several hours. Regardless, two things were very obvious.

Whatever the chakra was, it had been used to put an incredibly dark curse of some unknown distinction directly on Obito and Rin’s hearts.

And second, Obito’s memories attested to the fact that their ‘removal’ had come in the form of being stabbed in the heart and healed, which was upsetting enough in it’s own right.

“Will he?” Minato asks distantly, resting his arms on his knees, and Sarutobi offers a questioning hum.

“Hm?”

“Will Obito get his feet under him? Does he have a place to stand?” Minato questions, dreading the answer. He lifts his gaze to meet Sarutobi’s again, and … yeah. He knows the answer.

“Currently, no.” Sarutobi confirms damningly, calm and casual like he wasn’t destroying a boy’s entire life and all his dreams with those two words. Minato closes his eyes for a moment, dreading having to tell him. Obito would really have a mental breakdown then, and, to be fair, that’s a pretty good argument for him not being reinstated. “However, I see no reason to rush the decision.” Sarutobi sweeps on, and Minato blinks at him in confusion. “Our young Uchiha has given absolutely everything for his village. His life, his limbs, and now, quite possibly his mental stability.”

What a nice way to say he was probably certifiably insane.

“It would be beyond cruel to abandon him now. It would be heartless, and it would be no way to treat our heroes. Make no mistake, the boy is a hero.” Sarutobi says the last part softly, gazing past Minato and at, strangely enough, the Hokage portraits on the far wall. “No, we will hold our decision for now. Give the boy time to recover. Perhaps, in a few months time, we will reconsider our choice.” Sarutobi taps thoughtfully on his pipe and then turns back to Minato, offering him a warm, sympathetic smile. “Even if we do not, he won’t be abandoned - don’t doubt that.”

He won’t.

He won’t doubt that, because Sarutobi looks more sincere than he has in the past two years of this miserable war.

So Minato offers him a tired smile in response, and excuses himself to go eat some of Kushina’s dinner, probably cry on her a lot, and then get some well earned sleep.

 


 

Nagato’s meeting with them goes something like this:

He’s sitting alone, minding his own business, and contemplating the damage of Hanzo’s latest attack against the Akatsuki. There’s a loud, shattering, earth-rocking explosion outside of the Akatsuki’s den.

He steps out to investigate, and the next thing he knows, he’s waking up to see a pink-haired woman pocketing a jar holding his floating eyeballs, while a glowing blonde-haired man yells at her and the black-haired man beside her.

He vomits, as is the natural reaction to such a sight.

“-that, damn it! But you didn’t need to do all this! Oh my god, Sakura, what the fuck!” The blonde is yelling when he comes back to himself enough to figure out that something’s weird as hell.

He just saw his eyeballs get pocketed.

He just saw it.

These two facts did not add up.

Nagato pulls his headband off, using the reflection to stare at…

“What?” Nagato croaks, because while he doesn’t remember much of his childhood, he does remember his black eyes, and these are definitely blue. Blue, blue eyes. They look ridiculous with his red hair.

“I expected this kind of violent bullshit from Sasuke, but you, too? What in the hell , woman?”

“Don’t call me that.” The pink-haired woman huffs at the blonde, who falls eerily silent for a split second, and Nagato looks up to see he looks a little terrified before he rallies himself again.

“You knocked them out! You knocked them all out! With fists! And Sharingan! AND THEN YOU RIPPED OUT HIS EYEBALLS!” The blonde shrieks.

The black-haired man sighs heavily and lifts one hand up to silence the blonde. “Calm down, Naruto. It was the simplest option, even if it was the more violent one. What did you want us to do, exactly? Come in here and demand his eyes?"

“Then we’d really have had to be violent.” The pink-haired woman adds, rolling her eyes, and then she looks straight at Nagato and waves.

What the fuck.

YOU RIPPED OUT- ” Naruto starts to scream, and is promptly cut off by the woman roundhouse kicking him the face. Naruto flies away with a high-pitched ‘eeee’, like something out of a manga, and crashes into the side of the cave entrance. “Oh my god that hurts. You bitch!”

“Watch it.” Sakura snaps back at him, lifting a fist to tug a glove on over it. Naruto falls immediately silent, and then finally seems to notice Nagato.

“Oh god. I’m so sorry, man, I should never have let them handle this. I should’ve known they’d do something like this,” Naruto says in an apologetic rush, turning to shoot Sasuke a vicious glare.

“Relax, he’s fine.” Sakura waves them both off, walking over to crouch in front of Nagato.

Nagato can’t quite move anymore.

At all.

What the hell?

“Don’t panic. We wouldn’t blame you for getting violent, but it wouldn’t be the ideal option right now, so we’re just going to keep you still until we’re done here.” Sakura explains to him, folding her arms across her crouched knees and frowning at him. Sasuke starts to circle through the cave, disappearing behind Nagato’s head, and fear belatedly starts to sink in, finally making it’s way through the shock and sheer what-the-fuckage of the situation. Naruto hops up and hurries over, crouching down next to Sakura and giving him an apologetic look.

“No, really, don’t worry. No one’s getting hurt, I promise. Well, some of them will have headaches.” Naruto shoots Sakura a vicious glare this time, and Sakura responds by smiling in a way that is utterly terrifying, to which Naruto responds by quickly looking back at him and pretending to not be a little paler. “We kind of needed the Rinnegan.”

Oh, god.

Now he feels nauseous.

His eyeballs. In a jar.

“Yeah, I know, sorry about the shock value.” Sakura shrugs at him in a ‘what can you do’ kind of way.

You could start by not stealing my eyeballs, is Nagato’s expert opinion.

“No offense. It’s just that we know how powerful these damned things are and, frankly, you haven’t tapped it yet. We didn’t want to be the ones to trigger it accidentally.” Sakura offers with a vague shrug. “Here’s the completely freaky thing though, they actually weren’t yours to begin with. Surprise.”

What.

“Yeah, she’s actually right. Long ass story. Short version is, crazy asshole gave you his Rinnegan eyeballs right before he died so his servant could manipulate you into resurrecting said crazy asshole after you activated the Rinnegan. Of course, to ‘activate’ it, you have to go through watching your best friend get slaughtered, so his servant probably would’ve set him up to die in front of you and then manipulated you into doing something completely batshit crazy.” Naruto ‘explains’ in a long, unhelpful rush. “Like, I don’t know, ‘hey let’s resurrect the motherfucking Juubi’ kind of batshit crazy.”

Again, what?

“Yeah like that’s possible, right?” Sakura says and there’s a tiny, nervous little titter to her tone, followed by an absolutely not suspicious glare and elbow-jab at Naruto’s side.

“Ow! Oh, right. Sorry. Juubi’s totally a myth.” Naruto informs Nagato matter-of-factly. “Ow, what? I did what you wanted!” Naruto snaps at Sakura, who had elbowed him again.

“Anyways.” Sakura says dryly, ignoring Naruto. “Those are your actual eyes, by the way. I killed the crazy asshole in this bizarre story, got your eyes back, took his eyes out of your head, and put yours back in. You’re welcome, by the way. It doesn’t seem obvious yet, but the Rinnegan was taking up about 60% of your entire chakra network.” Sakura explains grimly, lips twisting down. “If you’d activated it, it would’ve shot up to more like 95%. You would be at the edge of death your entire life if that had happened. Now, though…” Sakura pauses, glancing at Naruto and then offering Nagato a tiny, apologetic smile.

“I’m sorry for the circumstances. I know this is an unpleasant shock, of course, but it had to be done. On the bright side, without the Rinnegan to suck up your chakra, you’ll be much more powerful and have much more stamina than before. You’ll really live up to your Uzumaki lineage now.”

To his what what?

Uzumaki? Lineage? Who the hell are the Uzumaki and how could she possibly know more about his lineage than him?

“Ah. That’s surprise on his face.” Naruto informs Sakura, eyeing Nagato’s face intently. “It’s the hair, man. The hair and the chakra reserves. You’ve got huge ones, almost as big as mine, and trust me when I say that is seriously saying something.” He says, then glances at Sakura. “My natural ones, I mean.”

“Ah. Good, I was concerned for a second. If you meant your, ah... enhanced chakra reserves, then our plan would be seriously flawed.”

“Yeah, no kidding.” Naruto snorts softly, then looks back at Nagato. “I’m an Uzumaki, too. My mom - she had red hair, though not as dark as yours. It’s classic Uzumaki. Sakura’s got Uzumaki in her, too, hence the pink.” Naruto jabs a thumb at his companion, who offers Nagato another small grin, and then he frowns thoughtfully. “Actually, thinking about it, we’re really lucky I didn’t end up with pink hair, too.”

That would be hysterical.” Sakura says with a shameless snort of amusement. “Unluckily, I’m a quarter Uzumaki, so the red-hair thing is kind of diluted now. No idea why you ended up blonde though.”

“Hell if I know. Ridiculously strong genes?” Naruto offers with a shrug.

“Shame his IQ genes weren’t as strong as his hair color ones.” Sakura mutters.

Nagato…

Has no idea how to react to any of this.

He feels mildly like he’s been hit in the brain with a sledgehammer, really.

The black-haired companion, Sasuke, wanders back over and nods at his companions, who quickly stand up. “Sorry again, Nagato. But we’re not heartless assholes. We’re leaving you a couple of badass jutsus you should be able to use with your refreshed chakra reserves, and it’ll help you compensate for the loss of the Rinnegan.” Naruto offers with grim apology. “We agree with your cause, and you haven’t done anything to deserve, well,” Naruto shoots his companions another disapproving look, gesturing vaguely at the hideout cave as a whole. “Anyways, we seriously owe you one hell of a compensation for this crap.”

“Don’t worry, though.” Sakura says, and there’s that unsettling smile again. She and Naruto step back and Sasuke crouches in front of him, his one visible black eye fixing on him with unsettling intensity. “We’ll start paying you back by giving Hanzo a little visit once we're done here.” Sakura informs him with dark promise.

Before he can react, Sasuke lifts a hand up to pull his hair away from his other eye. Nagato sees red, and then he’s unconscious again.