There are many situations that Obito would rather be in right now. Even facing Rin’s frozen gaze and disappointed - angry - frown is better. Not that the ninja wire or tree particularly bother him. He’s been in worse restraints. No, it’s not even the hum of chakra signatures a handful of feet away (familiar in the way a distant memory can be). It’s the fact he’s alive. Alive and apparently somewhere in another dimension - he doesn’t even need kamui to make sense of this fact. These shinobi hadn’t killed him on sight and that’s more than enough to piece the rest together.
This is not what he had been expecting when taking that blow for Naruto. A blow that, by all logic, he could have used kamui to negate without the need to move from his previous position. But it was supposed to be his last selfish act. One that he made with the conscious knowledge there would be no future for him after it. To die by his own power. His own choice. For a friend and for a sunshine boy with more room in his heart than Obito has ever had. With more forgiveness than their dark world (full of so much war and death and hatred) deserves. That was what he had planned for. But this? Finding himself strapped to the trunk of a tree? Not something he saw in his future plans.
Well. He’s always been good at adapting.
The tree itself hums a steady rhythm of chakra, ready at any moment to reach out and destroy those who have taken him. But Rin had looked at him with despair in her eyes, an unbearable amount of incomprehension at how he could do so much bad in her name.
He takes another steady breath in, regulating his flow of chakra. He gave his word to Rin, as the light took him. Made another promise of a life time that he would prove himself to her; that he would explain and repent. She hadn’t smiled, but she hadn’t frowned either, so he takes it as approval to try his hardest.
Killing these shinobi wouldn’t be trying his hardest.
Maybe he’ll start a farm after he escapes. Konan had mentioned gardening was a stress relief (although he can’t particularly remember the context behind her need to mention this). And with his mokuton he’s sure he could make it work. Besides, if this dimension is anything like his own then there have been wars. Total wars. Rations have always been particularly low during times of conflict, and he is sure the crops will be welcome.
Not that this is something he should be focusing on right now.
The shinobi in front of him have been silent since he has awoken; nearly ten minutes now. Barely even the rustle of clothes gives them away. They’re good, even if they have failed to suppress his chakra - which he would take offense at if not for the convenience. He also isn’t stupid enough to think that it’s not on purpose. It’s a tactic that would have eased a lesser shinobi into a sense of security in the potential for escape. Made them act faster than the time needed to piece together the rest of the puzzle. (Like the seal array hung on the tree behind him, although without mokuton he wouldn't have sensed it.)
That doesn’t mean he’s not going to use this to his advantage - it’s their own misfortune that they used this method on a captive with kamui. Another minute passes and he’s more than prepared to open his eyes and make a move when a deep voice rumbles from the group of signatures, “Are you going to keep pretending to sleep?”
Obito stills for a second, because it has been a very long time since anyone has been able to call him on faking his level of consciousness. This very well may be a ploy. Still, there’s the shift of fabric, more noticeable then before and it sets off every instinct in his body.
He opens his eyes, sharingans active. Except he freezes. Because that particular shock of silver is achingly familiar.
‘Kakashi?’ He almost says aloud, but bites his tongue. Because, no. It’s not. Similar, but not exact and the chakra signature isn’t quite right. The man is moving towards him, posture entirely relaxed except for how Obito knows he isn’t.
“Who are you?”
“You know, it’s only polite to introduce yourself when asking for someone’s name,” the man says as he comes to squat in front of Obito at a respectable distance. (And Obito swears he hears a muttered ‘Why do the pretty ones always lack manners?’ But he pushes it away without another thought.)
This close Obito can make out the glint of a Konoha headband and that really doesn’t make his night any better (not worse, exactly. But he would rather deal with another nation to be honest. At least then he could justify any possible harm he might bring them.) What also becomes glaringly obvious is the sheer resemblance that this man has with Kakashi beyond hair color. In the end, it’s the sabre at the man’s back that cements the growing realization in Obito’s mind.
“You’re the white fang,” he says, and although he tries to keep the shock from his voice he’s sure some of it bleeds through. The raised eyebrow he receives in return doesn’t help in dissuading his belief. Which means…
Well, time always was just another dimension. And if the fates decided that he should be thrown across worlds then why wouldn’t they mix time in as well?
Judging by his rough estimation of the man’s age it’s around the third war.
It doesn’t take much for his mind to cling onto the fact that Rin is very much alive and not yet another pawn in Zetsu’s games. Alive, and happy, and not yet a victim to this world’s hate. Alive and… in Konoha.
Completely out of his reach to protect. Because what better way to repent than to help keep her and her precious people alive? What better way to prove that he has changed? Even if the thought of seeing Konoha again makes his stomach churn oddly. There isn’t even a guarantee that they will let a complete stranger-
“Uchiha Obito,” he finally says, letting his sharingan fade away to black. Not only a sign of trust but proof that his eyes aren’t stolen and he is, in fact, part of the clan. He pushes a bit of relief into his gaze as well, the kind that he feels at knowing he can still keep Rin safe. Tries to implore the man before him - Kakashi’s father - to accept this truth.
“Uchiha, huh,” the man offers a lazy smile, lopsided and predatory around the edges as he scans over Obito’s completely white head of hair. “What’s a pretty thing like you doing this far in Lightning country?”
He pointedly ignores the comment on his appearance, opting for leveling the man with a flat look instead. He could tell the man he’s on a mission, but Uchiha don’t go on solo missions often. Not unless they’re ANBU or hunter-nin. And the likelihood of finding either such shinobi in his state so far in another nation’s territory is slim to none. (Besides, it won’t really work with the plan he’s starting to form.)
“Miscalculation,” he says.
“One hell of a miscalculation.” The man has just enough time to tip his head to one side before he’s leaping back to avoid the kunai now embedded where he had squatted a moment ago.
“Friends of yours?” Even as Obito asks he’s at Sakumo’s back plucking a kunai from the air for inspection. There standard weapons, but as the first of them come from the shadows Obito can recognize the Iwa uniform - as outdated as it is to him. When he glances back it’s to a wide eyed expression. He supposes having someone literally phase through you can be cause for such a reaction.
“That’s a nice trick you got there, dattabane!” He feels something in his chest constrict as the red hair that matches that voice flies past in his peripheral. Obito could have gone life times without hearing her voice again. Although it explains the seal and the strange double-edged feeling in the chakra signatures.
In truth, he is more than thankful his reintroduction to Kushina is during battle. A short battle, judging by how efficient this team seems to be. But a battle nonetheless. It gives him the time to push down the weighing guilt she brings up.
He takes those emotions and puts them into the motion of gutting a women trying to slip past an Inuzuka and her nin-kin. (He almost doesn’t kill her, almost flips his blade and simply knocks her out. But the instinct to end a threat is automatic. And the thought that he could approach her in any other way than mortally crossed his mind too late. He hopes Rin will forgive him this.)
“So pretty boy has some bite to him,” the Inuzuka laughs, dodging a shuriken that implants into a tree.
Between these three Konoha must have sent them out for either a capture or hunt. Two trackers and at least one to be considered a heavy hitter makes for a good set up.
There is the crackle of lighting in the air and Obito allows his enemy time to fall back so he can catch sight of Sakumo expertly wielding his sabre. The man truly deserves his legendary title. His movements are smooth and not a single motion is wasted as his enemies desperately try to defend against the onslaught of blows. The Iwa jounin don’t stand a chance. The moment is ruined, however, when Sakumo catches his eyes. A wink and wide smile have Obito bristling and he turns away with a huff. All this in the seconds it takes for his own shinobi to decide on a new way to confront him. He easily blocks the kunai sent his way as a distraction, ducks under the roundhouse kick and the ninja wire isn’t even a surprise with how simple their genjutsu is. But the exploding tags are a nice touch, especially considering that the lower ones kick up a few rocks and dirt that the doton user wastes no time taking advantage of. A nice distraction for the jutsu that their trying to prepare. But it does little to help. Obito doesn’t bother letting them finish the hand signs their going through, using kamui to appear behind them and knock them out with a sharp blow to the back of the head. Making sure to refrain from instincts this time - best to have at least one for interrogation, anyway.
The sounds of the fight have all but completely disappeared. And so he takes a step back, turning to come eye to eye (or, well, eye to nose - the man has at least an inch on him) with Sakumo. A light in his grey gaze that Obito is not going to look further into.
He smiles and Obito narrows his eyes, “Are you going to allow me the honor of escorting you home?”
The words are so ridiculous that Obito wants to laugh. He bites his tongue but he can’t stop his lips from twitching. And not only because they sound like something out of those damn books Kakashi always reads. But because home is not a concept he has given thought to in a long time. It became just a word, another potential that his plans could bring into fruition. But now…
Konohagakure. Obito is unsure how to react to the strangeness at trying to connect the two. The village hidden in the leaves is a place he used to love, could’ve fought to protect with everything. Now, he isn’t so sure it’s his to call home. He will go, of course, because Rin is there. Rin, and Minato, and Kakashi, and a younger him - which is going to be strange now that he thinks about it. Especially considering he told Sakumo his actual name which means there’s no going back on it now. (There are, actually, ways to handle this. But he wants this name. Wants to keep it after he just got it back.) But he hasn’t had a home in a long time. Isn’t sure he remembers how it feels. And there is still so much he has to do.
“Not until we clean up this mess,” the Inuzuka interrupts before he has paused too long to make his answer stilted. “We can’t have Kumo knowing we were this far in their country.”
He has almost turned to tie up the unconscious shinobi when there is a flak jacket shoved in front of him. Obito blinks at the material before following the extended arm back to its owner. It takes a moment for him to understand why Sakumo is making the gesture - being shirtless isn’t exactly safe nor the ideal etiquette even for shinobi.
“Thank you,” he says, taking the jacket even as he knows that his dimension has closets worth of clothes stored away. He’d rather use kamui as little as possible in front of them at the moment. Keeping its uses to fights would be ideal.
Sakumo opens his mouth for a reply Obito never hears as the Inuzuka starting dragging the man away to get to work. “My names Inuzuka Tsume by the way,” she call back over her shoulder. “My partner is Kuromaru, and the redhead over there’s Uzumaki Kushina.”
And that’s it. They’ve cleaned up the bodies and weapons within an hour - interrogation included. The shinobi had nothing useful, and in the end they offered them a swift death before being sealed along with the rest of their comrades.
“We should head southeast for at least an hour before setting up camp again,” Sakumo announces and Obito can’t say he isn’t slightly shocked by how easily they accept his presence. How easily they think he’s going to stay. (It would be easier, mind you. Because entering Konoha in a whirl of kamui won’t be gaining him any favors. Not the way having the tentative approval and presence of Konoha’s white fang, red hot habanero, and a clan member will. But he can’t face the village - can’t face Rin - without first taking out at least Madara. Without turning Zetsu’s plans to dust and sending the shadow into a dimension devoid of anything. Although he’ll stay the night; it’s best to leave with as good an impression as possible. Because he has no doubt this will be reported to the Hokage and it would be best for his plans if he sticks around a little longer.)
The war clearly hasn’t started yet, but if Iwa shinobi are in Kumo then it can’t be too far off their horizon. Which means he’s too late to do anything to prevent it. The war that will set in motion the rest of Zetsu’s plans. Obito feels his fists clench as they take to the trees. Not this time. Zetsu will be well and truly gone before he can destroy this world if Obito has anything to say about it.
And if this dimension follows a similar timeline and it truly is before the third war then there is still time for that at the very least. And that might just make this second chance worth something.
By the time they stop they have perhaps a handful of hours to sleep. But they are shinobi, and even less is enough.
“We’ll take watch in pairs,” Sakumo announces, his eyes sharp even in the dim light. Obito knows they’re doing this to keep an eye on him. He may not be tied up but that doesn’t mean they are willing put their lives in his hands. He can’t bring himself hold it against them.
“Tsume, you and Kushina take the second shift.” The order is followed, even if Kushina grumbles about wanting to be with the Uchiha who got past her seal.
But Obito is more than thankful for not being paired with her. He isn’t sure that he could keep his emotions in check, because as much as he has hid them under anger and pain for all these years they are still there. And now that he isn’t twisting them so thoroughly they’re stronger than ever. (Or maybe it’s just the ache of wishing for death’s more peaceful embrace. For the peace of making one final choice. One that he knows is right. A wishful thought that spins near non-stop in his mind sending his emotions into a storm.)
“This miscalculation,” Sakumo hums, “it has to do with that technique you used back there. It wasn’t shunshin. Kushina’s seal would have flared if you broke the wires,” he continues, “and I swear you went right through me.”
Obito is silent for a moment, eyes on the darkness around them as he turns everything over in his head. He has had nearly two hours to think over what he would and wouldn’t say here. What would give him the best chance when he actually goes to Konoha.
“It’s an ability my sharingan gives me.”
“To go through solid objects?”
“Something like that.”
“It that how you ended up unconscious in another nation?”
Obito says nothing. Not outright lying, but omission will allow for the man to draw his own conclusions. The silence stretches. With each passing minute he is sure they will spend the rest of their time with only the sounds of their environment for company.
Of course, the Hatake can’t accept this. “I’ve never seen you around the village.”
Obito snorts, “You presume to know everyone in Konoha?”
The man laughs, the sound rumbling up from his chest and breaking out on a choked down attempt to remain quiet. “Not at all, but I think I would’ve noticed someone as beautiful as you.”
“I didn’t realize interrogations came with such blatantly poor flattery.”
“Clearly you haven’t spent enough time in T and I.”
“And you’ve spent too much.”
“It’s true though. You really are attractive,” Sakumo tells him. There’s a look in his face that Obito can’t really explain away as analysis of a potential threat.
“Training trip,” he blurts. Because he can feel the heat of a blush rising against his will and it’s a lot safer ground than the thought of the white fang (poorly) flirting with him.
“Huh?” The man blinks at him.
“I’ve been on a training trip for the past few years,” Obito says, forcing himself not to rush the explanation. “It’s why I haven’t been in the village.”
“Oh, are you returning soon then?”
“I-“ he could say yes, it would be easier to have the white fang at his back. But his heart twists at facing Rin without at least doing something to prove he doesn’t intend to go down the same path again. It’s selfish. Selfish to not want to face her just yet. But Obito doesn’t force himself to care. “-actually have another stop to make before I go back.”
“Then I won’t have the honor of escorting you home,” Sakumo sighs as if this is the greatest disservice.
Obito scowls, “I don’t need an escort. I can take care of myself.”
“Unconscious. In Lightning.” Sakumo says dry as dust.
“A miscalculation.” The words are stressed against his tongue.
“Miscalculations will get you killed.”
‘Or bring you back to life,’ Obito thinks sardonically. “I won’t let it happen again.”
“I’ll make sure it doesn’t.”
Sakumo is smart enough to hear the double meaning. Smart enough that the topic is dropped.
“How long will you take?” The man asks instead.
Obito shrugs. He doesn’t know. Getting to the graveyard will take no time at all with kamui, and killing an older Madara is as simple as unhooking him from the statue. But if he still has the freedom of not truly being affiliated with a village he could step in to stop so much more. However, most of what he is to change could trace back to Zetsu, Danzo, or himself. So there is little point in avoiding (running) from the inevitable longer than he has to. Doing so would only give Sarutobi more time to plan, to dig into his lies and spread a demand for his head.
All the same, he could go to Kiri. Could stop the bloody mist, but that will be cleared up in a few years’ time if he remembers correctly. And so long as Yagura doesn’t start the blood limit purges without Obito’s persuasion then he has little reason to step in beyond warning of Zetsu. Ame would be his next best bet, but he isn’t sure exactly when the Akatsuki forms, and if he intervenes now it could have too much effect on the movement against Hanzo later. Besides, if he goes there under Konoha’s name to help defeat Hanzo it will earn a treaty at the least and settle some of the tension between the smaller and larger nations. (He will make a point to check in, of course, but whether or not he will be making contact is not set in stone.)
“A few days, maybe.” He finally answers, rising smoothly to his feet at the same time. He starts taking off the flak jacket, more than willing to let the man have it back.
“Keep it,” the two words stop him. “It’s not safe without a bit of protection.”
Obito is not flattered by the gesture. Nope. Not at all. And he most certainly does not turn away to hide the way his cheeks feel hotter than a moment ago. (It’s been years since someone has shown concern about his wellbeing. And to be faced with it now leaves him feeling oddly uncertain.) “Thank you.”
“I’ll see you in a few days then,” the man’s smile shines through his voice.
“Don't hold your breath,” Obito tells him as he starts to slip into the woods. “I have a habit of being late.”