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and we were young

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[OCTOBER 10TH]

Obito fucking hated this place.

People were always staring at his scars, trying to ask gentle questions. Just because he looked like a teenager again, they thought it meant that they could coddle him. No one in the elemental nations would have dared to try and do that, even if he hadn't been responsible for starting a war.

No, they would just know better. His scars marked him as a shinobi, and the average citizen would recognize that and get the hell out of his way.

But not here. Here, in Italy, no one seemed to have any clue of what he was. There was some whispers of "mafia" when he acted particularly nasty towards someone, which he had found referred to the country's criminal underground, but other than that— nothing.

They didn't fear him. They pitied him.

And that was something that Obito just couldn't accept.

Ever since he'd woken up in this strange country, this strange world, he'd been lost. There was no shinobi here, no Konohagakure. There wasn't even any hidden villages in the first place.

For the first time in his life, Obito was really alone.

No allies, no minions. He didn't even have any enemies right now, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

It had been hard, these last few years. Obito had not been a good man, in those years up to his death, and he still had no idea how to be one. He'd thought that dying to save Kakashi would be enough, that he'd be able to Rin again, even for just a moment— (to apologize, to beg forgiveness even when he knew that he didn't deserve it), but he'd woken up.

He'd woken up, in a body that was aching and freshly scarred, one eye and a very pissed off attitude.

Obito had died! Wasn't that enough? He'd died, he remembered it, so why—

Why was he still alive?

Three years later, in this world he still struggled to understand, he hadn't found the answer.

Obito had landed in Italia, a land that suited him quite well. Even though he stood out a bit, thanks to his scars and his 'foreign' appearance, there was enough variety and tourists to let him blend in with the crowd.

Not to mention, the underground in this country was exceptionally well-organized.

Apparently, this 'mafia' had been around for centuries already, leadership passed down in the 'famiglias' from one boss to the next.

Obito didn't bother trying to join one of those so-called Families— he didn't have the energy, nor the patience to take orders from some arrogant crime lord.

In his first few weeks here, Obito had wondered if this was his second chance. If, perhaps, Rin had interfered on his behalf to give him a chance to make up for his mistakes. Maybe he had been sent here for a reason— to put some good out into the world after all the pain he'd caused.

That line of thought didn't last very long.

If they wanted a hero, they should've sent Naruto. So, after very calmly and rationally coming to this conclusion, Obito became an assassin.

Well, perhaps that was oversimplifying things. He was really just doing the work he'd once done as a normal member of the shinobi force— stealing, transporting, odd bodyguard jobs here and there, and yes; assassination.

It wasn't very hard, in all honesty. The best thing about having a rich criminal underground was that they always had someone in need of a good murder. All Obito did was give the people what they wanted, was that so wrong? He had to eat, after all.

Obito stared down into his cup of tea, lost in thought.

He'd like to say that things were really that easy. That he had no trouble switching back to the normal shinobi way of life after having spent years trying to abolish it. He had wanted a world of peace, the world that Rin deserved.

Now he was back at the start— stuck in a body that rarely obeyed his commands, no friends by his side, and wondering why he was even alive. If it weren't for the fact that he was far too stubborn to give up, he might've just thrown himself into the ocean and called it a day.

But, no. If there was even the slightest chance that this was Rin's doing, that Rin had allowed him this second chance at life, he had to take advantage of it.

He took a careful sip of tea, grimacing at the taste. It wasn't anything like real tea, but it would have to do. Obito shifted slightly, looking out the window. He was propping his head up on his hand, cupping his right cheek in such a way that it blocked the worst of his scars. They had faded— not entirely, but far more than he'd expected. You could only see faint traces of them from far away, which was why Obito preferred to be as distant from his targets as possible.

(He'd considered wearing a mask, but—

The second he'd placed the mask over his face, he'd felt like he was suffocating. Like he was going to lose himself again, cease to be Uchiha Obito. He hadn't worn a mask since.)

On the other side of the street, laughing with her friends in the outside seating area, was today's target. Not an assassination, but a surveillance gig. Obito rather liked these types of jobs, actually— people watching was a luxury that he hadn't been able to do openly for many, many years. And this Café was right by his tiny apartment, so it was also very convenient.

Today's unknowing recipient was a young college student— she was the daughter of a wealthy businessman, and he was concerned about her stealing his money to buy drugs. He'd hired Obito as a 'private investigator', with Obito deciding not to let on about the whole 'killing for money' thing that he had as a side job.

So far, he hadn't caught her doing anything of note. Well, she was definitely stealing her father's money, but she wasn't spending it on drugs, so Obito didn't see how that was his problem.

"May I sit here?" someone asked, likely gesturing to the empty chair opposite of him.

Obito grunted, waving a hand in acceptance. His Italian still had a faint accent to it that could get varying reactions, so he preferred to stay silent when he could.

There was the sound of the chair scraping against the tiled floors, the other person sitting and placing their drink on the little table between them. Then there was a noisy ripping as they opened some sort of bag.

Curiosity winning over his sense of duty (which, admittedly, wasn't very refined in the first place), Obito glanced over to his new seating companion.

And stared.

That hair could not be natural. It was completely white, like fresh snow, and it stuck up on this man's head like he'd been electrocuted. Sure, back home there were some clans that had weird hair like this, but he hadn't seen anything like that in this world. Even Kakashi's stupid hair didn't stick up as much as this!

The man had purple eyes, and a wide grin that reminded Obito of Kushina at her most mischievous. The memory made him sweat a little bit, eyes darting around to catalogue the exits.

And that's when he realized it— all the other tables were empty. The people behind the counters were gone, the door firmly closed.

Well, Obito could take a hint. Honestly, this was probably what he deserved for letting his guard down. Sure, no one in this world was even close to beating him in combat, even with his currently weakened state, but he still should've known better.

"What do you want?" he said tersely, pinning an accusing glare at this strangely dressed fellow.

His smile merely stretched further across his face, becoming fox-like in a way that made Obito distinctively uncomfortable.

"Well, you were stalking my classmate, you see," the man said, taking out a marshmallow from the bag on the table and plopping it in my mouth. "So I did a little digging. Or, Shou-chan did, to be more precise. And we found some very interesting information."

"Oh yeah?" Obito said, leaning back in his chair and taking his hand off his cheek to expose his scars to the other man. The Japanese honorific was unexpected, and it made Obito tense up, almost against his will. "Exactly how interesting are we talking, here?"

"Very interesting," he purred. There was a flash of something in his eyes that made heat flare up in Obito's chest— not a wholly disliked sensation, but a strange one. It wasn't attraction, or at least not a type of attraction that Obito could recognize.

It felt somehow... deeper.

"My name is Byakuran Gesso," he said, reaching out as if he wanted to shake Obito's hand. "I think we're going to be great friends."

Obito narrowed his eyes in suspicion, but relented with a sigh. He shook Byakuran's hand, ignoring the man's gleeful giggle at the contact.

Whatever. These jobs were getting boring anyway. At least Byakuran seemed like he would be entertaining.

<∞>

[OCTOBER 10TH]

Obito wakes up.

He wakes up choking on a scream, hands flying up to cover his face as he tried to process—

one eye two eyes dead alive dead dead dead

His sharingan spinned madly in his remaining eye, trying to make up for his sudden lack of vision. Purple flames burst to life, filling the air around him like a cocoon, but all he could feel is—

heat oh god what have I done fire byakuran stop

There were words in his head that he didn't understand, words like Flames and Box Animals and ByakuranSkyAmoAnata—

Obito keened, clutching his head as he tried to figure out what the hell was going on. Those words had no meaning to him, none besides their obvious, so why did he know them? Why were they so familiar, so intimate, as if he used them every day?

Illusions, he thought wildly, it has to be!

His mangekyo sharingan activated with a vengeance, causing Obito to curse as blood ran down his scarred cheek. But it wasn't enough— somehow, whatever illusionist that had attacked him was overcoming his abilities!

The false memories weren't fading. Even now, as he shook in disbelief that anyone in this world would be able to match him in genjutsu, there was a little voice in the back of his mind that was saying MammonMukuroMist.

Don't you remember? the voice cried out to him. There was a flash of a man in a darkly sinister mask, a name on the tip of his tongue.

"Tori...kabuto?" he said, unsure why that name tumbled from his lips. Was that the illusionist, the person that had attacked him?

It was the only explanation. This Torikabuto person must have tried to implant false memories in him to gain his loyalty, and now his sharingan was breaking through them.

He staggered out of bed, ignoring the way his mind was screaming at him. Shakily, Obito managed to make his way to the small bathroom in his apartment, splashing some water on his face.

He'd never had a genjutsu affect him that way. Hell, he didn't even think that anyone in this world was capable of it! None of them had any chakra—

(but they had flames, flames and will)

...Flames?

Obito wasn't one to ignore his instincts, even when they were being as strange and contradictory as this.

Sliding onto the tiled floor, he rested his head against the door. He needed to think. What was he missing? Something had changed, that much was obvious.

Dying will.

It was a whispered phrase, something that came to him out of nowhere, and yet somehow he already knew it. It was like an echo of something forgotten, something he had tried to leave behind.

Abruptly, Obito was reminded of the Will of Fire. Was that what this was referring to?

Somehow he didn't think so, but there was still some sense of nostalgia tearing at his heart. Was he still yearning for the village he'd left behind, or these new-old memories that were rising in his brain?

Letting out a shuddering breath, Obito closed his eyes.

Instinctively, he reached deep inside of himself, searching out his core. His chakra was there, tainted and painful as always. He could feel Hashirama's energy still inside of him, always. This body was old enough to hold both his scars and Hashirama's cells, but somehow he felt like it should be older.

Not in the same sense he had when he'd first arrived on this planet— instead of a wrenching pain, he now felt simply... lost. Like he had looked away for a single moment, and the world had changed when he wasn't paying attention.

Obito wasn't fond of that feeling. The last time he'd experienced it was when he'd been facing Uzumaki Naruto on that battlefield, wide-eyed and suddenly certain that Rin would never forgive him for this.

But... That wasn't quite right, either. The last time he'd felt this sort of strange resignation had been on a battlefield, true, but one where battles were fought with brightly colored fire and children even younger than Naruto's little clique, a battle where Obito had once again stood against his allies, ever the traitor—

What?

The exact instant Obito came to this revelation, he brushed up against something that wasn't his chakra. It was warped and twisted, and he instinctively flinched away, reminded too much of Madara and Kaguya's heavy power that had pressed down on him, chaining him—

As soon as that thought took root in his mind, the power exploded out of him. Obito yelped, his eyes flying open as he stared in shock.

His hands were covered in purple flames, like the ones he'd conjured earlier. In the midst of his panic he'd assumed that they were simply manifestations his sharingan had created, but now he could see the truth.

They emanated from that power within him... and they didn't hurt.

From the initial impression he'd gotten, he'd thought that they would feel like using his sharingan, like trying to use the mokuton and feeling like all of his body's cells were trying to rip each other apart.

But it wasn't.

It... it was almost indescribable. The flames (cloud) felt tainted and angry and just as broken as Obito himself, but more than anything, they were free.

Like seeing Rin smile, like saving Kakashi's life, like reaching out to take Byakuran by the hand—

The flames went out.

That name, again. When it had emerged in his mind, thoughtless like any other name he'd spoken, his concentration had been cut off, and the cloud flames were gone.

"Byakuran..." Obito said out loud, tasting the way the name sounded on his tongue. It brought a surge of emotions he could barely comprehend, grief being the major one.

The other, resolution.

Whoever this Byakuran person was, they must have caused Obito a lot of pain. But even then, there was something softer underneath that feeling.

He didn't like it.

Getting to his feet, Obito exited the bathroom. He darted around the apartment, gathering his things. He'd made his decision.

He had a job that he was supposed to start today, some surveillance gig for a rich man with too much time on his hands, but it didn't matter. Obito was getting the hell out of here.

One thing was for sure— whatever had happened in the memories-that-weren't, had occurred in Italy. So, the best option? Leave the country.

He strode out into the street, vanishing among the early morning streams of people. For a moment, he wistfully eyed the cafe on a nice little side street near his apartment. They had shitty tea, but he still went there almost every day. He didn't get the chance to people watch very often, after all.

But after a moment, Obito shook his head and continued on his way.

It was time to disappear. And if there was one thing that Uchiha Obito was good at, it was becoming a ghost.