It all fell apart because of stupid Bakashi.
Obito expected Kakashi to give up, give into despair and he would truly see this world as the cruel and incurable hellhole it was.
But he… never expected this.
Kakashi insisted on taking care of Naruto. He pushed against everyone and everything and used every underhanded tactic and lingering sense of sentimentality from Sarutobi to hang on to the last shred of his family.
Despite everything, Kakashi was still hanging on. Barely. It was a thread that could snap any second, but the thread remained.
Obito could snap it, but.
Obito watched as Kakashi sat in front of the Memorial Stone again, cradling a sleeping baby, talking to ghosts. Any remaining rage in him all but collapsed at the sight.
"I brought Naruto with me today, Obito."
Obito couldn’t help himself; he stepped out from behind the tree.
"I just—I wish you were here. I wish you could be here with me."
He walked quietly closer.
"You'd do so much better than me. Well, no, I remember that story your cousin Shisui told me about when you dropped Itachi in a pond. So maybe not that much better."
Obito pulled off his mask.
"But it would be funny, right? We could both stumble our way through this."
"Yeah," Obito said, "it would be pretty funny."
Kakashi tensed all over. Naruto opened his eyes briefly but yawned and fell back asleep.
Kakashi, ever so careful, turned his head and looked up. "Obito...?"
"You're here," said Kakashi in a tone that sounded so devastatingly hopeful.
"I'm here," Obito answered as he sat down next to Kakashi. He felt his stomach kind of flip-flop. He tried to ignore it. “Sorry I’m late.”
“You’re really here?” Kakashi said again, reaching out with a tentative hand, as if afraid he would pass right through Obito.
Obito met him halfway. "I'm here," he responded, as Kakashi stared wondrously at their clasped hands, "...because you're shit at raising kids."
"I'm perfectly capable," Kakashi lied outright.
Obito snorted. "How many babysitting D-ranks did you ever complete? Have you ever held a baby even once before this?" he asked.
"I don't see how that's relevant," Kakashi said blithely, playing with Obito’s fingers.
Obito rolled his eyes. “Right. So I just thought I’d check in—”
Obito made to get up when Kakashi grabbed his wrist in a punishing grip. "Don't. Don't leave me again," he rasped.
Obito knew he was on the cusp of something irreversible. So many plans he made would be completely ruined. But maybe….
Maybe he could still play along in this dream for awhile.
(Maybe Rin would want this instead.)
"I won't leave, I promise."
Zetsu was going to be pissed.
“And I swore that little shit Shisui to secrecy—don’t laugh at me, Bakashi!”
Okay, so he may have given Kakashi shit for it, but Obito also had no fucking clue how to deal with babies. Kakashi and Obito were both barely adults and oh who was he kidding he was going to fuck this up.
However, if he was going to pretend this whole thing was real, at least he did have some Responsible Adults on his payroll he could bug for advice.
"Konan!" Obito hissed, beckoning her over to a particularly dark and secluded corner of their hideout.
Konan raised an elegant eyebrow. "Madara."
"It's—well, it’s Obito actually, but I need your help!"
Konan raised the other eyebrow. “...Obito?” she asked, her eyes then narrowing in mounting suspicion.
Obito waved a hand. “Ignore the name thing, and don’t tell Zetsu I told you that, but anyway what do you know about babies?”
"Yeah. You're the only one I really considered asking."
"Because I'm a woman?" she asked, with an expression that could curdle blood.
"No, because you seemed like the only person in this organization with any sensible advice regarding anything. You think I'd ask Sasori? Hidan?"
"Hm.” She eased up on the blood curdling. “Point taken.”
Obito snuck Konan to Kakashi’s apartment the next day via Kamui. Nagato tagged along too, as best he could with all those chakra rods rammed in his back.
They looked down at Naruto sleeping in his bassinet, cuddling a dog plush. Even Nagato would have cooed, if he were anyone else.
Konan tore her eyes away to critically assess the apartment. “It’s small, and not the safest place for a child, especially once he becomes mobile.” She picked up a few kunai from behind the couch with a raised brow to prove her point.
Obito came to Kakashi’s defense. “He was working with what he had. I think he was treading water just keeping Naruto clothed and fed. He’s in high demand for missions, too. I honestly think he only had his dogs available to watch the kid before I stepped in,” Obito said as he shrugged.
“But you did step in.” She looked almost approving, like she started to believe that Obito wasn’t a completely heartless dick. Ironic.
Then she frowned again. "This will still be a challenge. Does your friend have any other relatives?"
“Kakashi’s on his own, but,” Obito tried not to hesitate in answering, "Jiraiya is the kid's godfather."
"Jiraiya," said Nagato flatly. Konan frowned harder.
"He's supposed to be, anyway,” Obito said. “He's off… somewhere.” Over in Wind Country if Obito’s spies were worth anything. “He's definitely not in Konoha."
“Of course he’s not,” said Nagato, the barest hint of bitter.
Konan looked back at Naruto for a long moment. He sneezed in his sleep. She tilted her head and said, "I could be his godfather."
Whatever Obito expected her to say, that was not it. "I, well, okay? There's also still the option of godmother—"
"I'm the godfather now," said Konan.
It turned out the Paths of Pein made for great baby proofers, who knew. And Konan was right, the place was a bit of a deathtrap. Kakashi probably got away with raising Naruto as a single parent solely because the kid was the happiest and chillest baby ever. Obito was fairly sure babies weren’t supposed to be this easy-going, but hey, he wasn’t going to complain.
He should have been more suspicious.
On the day everything almost went to hell, Naruto was decidedly Not Happy. It was made worse that apparently the Akatsuki were the worst gossips and Hidan and Sasori of all people wanted to help out with the baby. Or at least see if the rumors were true.
Naruto kept getting fussy until he was full-blown crying. Obito tried desperately to figure if he’d somehow broken Naruto as the boy shrieked non-stop in his ear.
Sasori didn’t flinch but was holding the toy he was whittling in a death grip.
“What in the fuck is his problem?” Hidan hollered over the noise, covering his ears.
“Sometimes babies are just unhappy.” Konan said, somehow not wincing.
“Or it’s colic,” Nagato added.
“Is this some sort of test, Rin?” Obito asked himself as Naruto cried and cried. Obito probably did something to deserve this. Then he saw the puffy gum where the kid’s first canine would come in. “Shit.”
Konan hunted around for a teething ring while Obito let Naruto gnaw on his weird plant matter fingers. Sasori had locked himself in a cabinet ages ago to avoid the noise.
Naruto finally, finally fell asleep in Obito’s arms, but threatened to wake up whenever Obito tried to lower him into his crib. Obito resigned himself to holding a baby for the next five hours.
This was definitely a test from Rin.
They gathered back at the kitchen table. Nagato slumped tiredly over in his wheelchair. "The world will know true pain of colic," he mumbled.
“He’s just teething, Nagato.”
Nagato slumped further. “Whatever.”
“Yahiko would laugh if he could see us now.” said Konan, with a bit of a yawn, but the barest smile was tugging at the corner of her lips. Nagato smiled back.
Hidan rubbed the side of his head. “Fuck that kid can yowl, makes my goddamn ears bleed,” he said with a whisper, because even he wasn't masochistic enough to wake Naruto back up. Then his eyes lit up, “Bleeding ears… Hey, I could take him with me in a fight and—”
“No, bad,” Konan pulled a roll of paper off herself and bopped Hidan with it. “You know the first rule.”
“First rule? What first rule?” asked Obito.
No one answered him.
But one averted disaster led to another. Naruto was only asleep for thirty minutes when Obito heard the front window unlatch. Kakashi was home way too early. What the hell?
Even worse, Naruto chose that moment to wake up again and start to fuss. Obito whipped his head around and hissed, "Everybody hide!" as he futility tried to keep Naruto from crying again.
Sasori and Konan ducked under the table. Nagato wheeled himself behind the far side of the fridge.
Hidan hid behind the curtain.
Obito wanted to put his head in his hands.
Kakashi stalked in and made grabby hands for Naruto. Naruto dropped his sleepy scowl and his whole face lit up. He squealed in delight and wriggled in Obito's arms.
"Glad to be home?" Obito asked, trying to sound casual as he handed Naruto over.
"Yes," Kakashi sighed as he held the baby close and nuzzled him. Naruto giggled and pawed a bit at Kakashi's hair.
Kakashi didn't bother to look up from Naruto when he said, "Obito, who are these people in my kitchen?"
"Uhhh, what people?" Obito lied, wide eyed.
Kakashi looked at the lumpy curtain and back to Obito, deeply unimpressed.
Obito thought quickly. "They're part of a... club... for babysitters."
‘Nice save,’ Obito thought.
"A club," said Kakashi, flat.
"Yep. A... babysitter's club."
"I see," said Kakashi, who clearly didn't see at all.
"Yeah, the clouds on the coats are supposed to be a soothing visual for kids?" Obito said, as he decided to dig himself deeper.
"In red and black."
"Okay, the color scheme could maybe stand to be changed," Obito conceded. He heard Konan snort from underneath the table.
He glanced briefly at Hidan, who was now shaking his shoulders, and the entire curtain, laughing at Obito. What an asshole.
Introducing the Definitely-Not-Akatsuki went better than expected.
"We've been helping Obito with learning how to care for a child,” said Konan.
"I made the toys," said Sasori, holding up cheerful wood blocks and... an unsettling fox marionette.
"I assisted in baby-proofing your home; don’t ask me how," said Nagato.
“I was gonna make some bitchin’ dinners you can reheat so you don’t have to cook.”
They all turned and stared at Hidan.
Hidan hunched up his shoulders, defensive. “Fucking what? Babies take an assload of work and I’m not a shitty cook! That’s Kakuzu!”
With that settled, Obito could assure Kakashi that Naruto was in good hands while he worked. And really, Obito didn’t mind taking care of Naruto while Kakashi was out on missions.
But. The missions.
Obito did not like Kakashi in ANBU. He hated every time Kakashi put on that porcelain mask and jumped out the window. The irrational, terrified part of Obito thought it might be the last time he ever saw Kakashi again, the last time he could stare at every inch of his stupid masked face, the same paralyzing fear that gripped Obito in his darkest and most silent moments stuck in that cave.
So maybe he asked Nagato or Konan or somebody to watch Naruto for a bit while he followed Kakashi once. Or five times.
And he maybe took out a few enemies for Kakashi. Just a few.
Obito thought he was rather sneaky about it until Kakashi cornered him one evening. Obito was busy jangling a ring of dull painted shuriken above Naruto when he heard Kakashi snap his book closed.
“I’ve got an interesting story for you.”
“On my last few missions, I’ve had the strangest feeling someone was following me. This, coupled with a few mysterious enemy deaths that my team were not responsible for, I have to wonder: am I being paranoid or is something going on?”
“Huh, wow, that is weird,” Obito lied.
“Yes. So imagine my surprise with my latest mission when I not only met no resistance whatsoever, but that my target was already decapitated before I arrived, exactly as my mission brief ordered it.”
“Um.” Maybe if Obito jangled the shuriken harder he could pretend he couldn’t hear this.
“And that I also happened to catch a scent that new chocolate you’re fond of, currently local only to Konoha.”
Kakashi grabbed Obito’s wrist, stilling the shuriken. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Visual stimulation is important for infant—”
“You know what I mean. Why are you interfering in my missions.” Kakashi actually looked angry.
“Interfering? What, no, I’m, uh—”
“Do you think I’m that weak?” Kakashi said lowly as his hand trembled. “Is… is this about Ri—”
“No!” No no no oh no Obito was not going there. Shit, this wasn’t what Obito meant at all. He thought about making a break for it to Kamui but blurted out, “I just don’t want you to.”
“Don’t want me to what?”
“Be in ANBU.” Not where that creep Danzō was nearby, the skulking prick. Not where Kakashi would get the worst sort of suicidal missions. Not when Obito could lose him.
“How would I support Naruto then? By becoming a farmer?”
Obito almost wanted to say yes, but that would be insulting to Kakashi’s skill, his talents and finesse as a fighter and hunter. Obito could watch Kakashi kill people all day.
Kakashi continued, “We’re shinobi. I’m a jounin. My missions will almost always be dangerous no matter where I am.”
“I just—” Obito looked away. “I wanted to be there. To be sure you come back.”
“Obito,” Kakashi said, his gaze softening, “I’ve got your eye, haven’t I?”
Obito looked up. “Yeah?”
Kakashi cupped his scarred cheek. “Then you’ll always be there with me.”
Kakashi patted Obito’s shoulders. “Now stop following me on my missions. You’re making my reports a nightmare to write.” He turned to tickle the sides of a laughing Naruto before picking him up. “Is it time for dinner, pup? I think it is.”
Obito watched Kakashi saunter off. He felt all squirmy and weird, with the echo of Kakashi’s hand on his cheek. Actually, his whole face felt kinda hot and something strange in his chest somersaulted and—
Oh. Oh no.
So, Kakashi was still in ANBU. Obito still had a strong opinion about it. Their argument, whenever it flared up, seemed to run in circles.
"I have to prove to the Council that I'm able to support Naruto financially," was always Kakashi's tired excuse.
'I run a terrorist organization that rakes in millions; I could support you and Naruto anywhere for literally forever,' Obito always bit back from saying.
He didn't think Kakashi would exactly appreciate the "terrorist" part.
His thoughts would also then veer dangerously close to a househusband fantasy and then Kakashi in nothing but a kitchen apron. Obito would quickly change the subject.
In other news, Kakashi was also made an honorary member of the shinobi mom club. He found out when Inuzuka Tsume literally dragged him to his first meeting.
Kakashi said he'd tolerate it; at least they didn't treat Naruto like a pariah.
And Obito wasn't stalking him again, okay; he was just making sure Kakashi was doing alright and nobody would give him a hard time.
Tsume beat him to it. "Anyone gives you trouble, kid, and I'll tear out their throats." She smiled with all her teeth.
But it was Uchiha Mikoto who stepped in as Kakashi's biggest supporter; she offered advice, encouragement and the promise of future playdates with her son, Sasuke.
"It's what Kushina would've wanted," she said, bittersweet.
Obito's not-dead heart clenched, for some weird reason. He ruthlessly crushed it.
The other women shared shinobi gossip and laughed about the latest goings-on and bets in Konoha. Kakashi didn't say much, but nobody minded that, and Obito watched his best friend’s shoulders hunch a little less.
"I do hope you keep coming to the meetings. This is a place to decompress, swap tips, and, for a lot of us, to take a break from our significant others," Mikoto said with a wink. She then glanced up out the window.
To stare directly at Obito.
Kakashi started to go to more meetings and Obito wisely stayed home.
"Have you considered a baby shower," said Kakuzu as he set down his pen.
"I don't think you can do a baby shower when the baby's already six months old," said Obito, tired. Their ledger this month was a mess.
"A house warming, then. Free gifts, and you save money."
"What house? Are you going to keep bringing this up until I give in?" asked Obito.
Obito narrowed his eyes at him. "You already sent out invitations."
Obito did not slam his head against the table, but he was sorely tempted.
Fine. Kakashi and Naruto could use a bigger apartment, anyway.
“Pay attention,” Konan snapped. “Before we leave to get ready for the party, let’s make this perfectly clear: what is the first rule?”
“Oh!” Kisame raised his hand. "The first rule is not to mess with the boss's boyfriend and kid."
"The boss's what?" Obito did not shriek.
Konan ignored him. “And the second?”
“Don’t tell Zetsu,” everyone chorused.
The baby-shower/housewarming was going... okay. Obito was on edge with this many missing-nin smuggled into their new three bedroom apartment. At least nobody broke any furniture yet; everyone was too busy taking turns cooing over how cute Naruto was.
Naruto eventually started to fuss, and Kakashi said, "I'll go feed him and lay him down for a nap. I'll be back in a bit."
About five minutes later, Obito spotted—
"Who invited Orochimaru?!" Obito hissed to his subordinates.
Sasori was uncomprehending. "He's a member of Akatsuki."
"He promised to bring a housewarming gift when he sent his RSVP," Kakuzu added.
"Okay but helping him of all people sneak into Konoha?" Obito took a deep breath. "Just. Don't let Kakashi see him, seriously."
Orochimaru took that moment to zero in on Obito. He stared at Obito, unblinking. He was also holding a houseplant.
"You have had the nine-tails jinchuuriki in your possession. This whole time,” he said without preamble.
"First of all, his name is Naruto. And second of all, he had nobody to care for him!” Obito said without a hint of irony. “Jiraiya was supposed to, but—”
"Jiraiya?" Orochimaru hissed. "That moron was trusted to take care of an infant?”
"Well, he sure as shit wasn't here when Naruto needed him!"
"Exactly," said Orochimaru, nodding, "exactly; that idiot is never around when you actually need him."
There was definitely a story behind that, and Obito wasn't sure if he wanted to know it.
"We replaced him. Well," Obito amended, "Konan is officially the godfather."
"That is... sensible." The Snake Sannin paused for a moment, and then asked, "May I be the godmother?"
An eavesdropping Kakuzu gasped in outrage, “I wanted to be godmother!”
An argument broke out. Obito worried about all of their new potted plants becoming potential casualties.
Kakashi's voice carried from the hallway. "Maa, what's the fuss? You'll wake Naruto from his nap."
Obito hastily shoved Orochimaru under a table seconds before Kakashi walked in. Everyone else froze, and Kakashi peered around, suspicious. "What's going on?"
Everyone looked at each other. Nagato spoke up, "We realized you haven't chosen a godmother for Naruto, and now everyone wishes to stake a claim."
Kakashi shrugged. "Why not let everyone be a godmother? There's no rule that there has to be just one."
They all muttered grudging agreements to that.
"...Wait a fucking minute," Hidan said, "if anybody can be a godmother then I also wanna be a godfa—"
"No," Konan declared, "there can be only one godfather." Hearing a few meager protests, she added, "Do you care to fight me for the title?"
No one tried.
“Obito, may I speak with you for a moment?” Nagato asked in the aftermath of the party, with most of the guests gone. Obito looked up from where he was picking up pieces of pottery—he was impressed that only a single houseplant was smashed—and nodded.
They shoved themselves into a far corner of the living room. “As you know,” Nagato began, “the Akatsuki has become... distracted with indulging in your domestic life. However, our pursuit of peace should remain at the forefront.”
Obito remained silent. If Nagato dared suggest anything against Kakashi or Naruto, Obito was going to rip out Nagato’s eyeballs and—
“That said, some of my ideals…” He trailed off as he glanced over at Konan across the room, bouncing Naruto on her hip as she chatted with Kakashi. “Well. With this indulgence, it may be that the path to my goals has changed.”
“I also have a desire to alleviate some of my personal situation,” Nagato said as he tipped his chin to gesture to all of himself.
“Yes,” said Nagato, seeing the slight grimace on Obito’s face. “I had resigned myself to the use of the Paths for mobility, but perhaps someone such as... Tsunade of the Senju could help change that.”
Tsunade wouldn’t be too difficult to track down. Convincing her to come to Konoha was another story altogether.
Obito followed the trail of increasingly agitated gambling den owners to find Tsunade wasted in a seedy bar.
“What in the fuck do you want?” Tsunade grumbled, facedown on a suspiciously sticky bartop. “Go the fuck away.”
“Tsunade,” Obito began, “I need you to come back to Konoha—”
“Fuck no,” she growled, lifting her head to glare at Obito.
“Just to visit Hatake Kakashi. He’s got a baby, and—”
“Hatake? Sakumo’s kid had a kid? He’s what now, twelve?”
“Sixteen, actually, and would you listen? The baby is Naruto. Uzumaki Naruto.”
Tsunade stilled. “...An Uzumaki?”
“Yes, and for months, Kakashi had no one else to help. He could use all the family he could get.”
“Oh come on,” Tsunade snorted, “it can’t possibly be that no one else in that village can help.”
“Your sensei Sarutobi was going to simply declare him an orphan. Naruto’s parents had named Jiraiya as godfather, but—”
Tsunade choked on her drink. “Jiraiya? Seriously?” she coughed out. “And the dumbass up and ran off instead, is that right?” She looked down at her drink, swirling it. “I guess I could say the same for myself,” she said to herself bitterly, getting lost in thought and old ghosts.
Obito held his breath, waiting for her to come back.
After a few minutes, her gaze cleared. She then made a face. “If this is a bullshit ploy to make me Hokage—”
“Ugh, no. Fuck no. I don’t even care if you stay long. I just want you to visit Kakashi and Naruto… and also do a consultation for a colleague of mine.”
“A consultation,” said Tsunade, skeptical.
“A paid consultation. Just a physical therapy recommendation,” said Obito, massively underselling Nagato’s outrageous health problems.
“...No blood?” Tsunade asked.
“No blood.” Probably.
Obito watched as she considered the pros and cons of visiting Konoha for a cute baby relative and a paid gig. He decided to sweeten the deal. Kakuzu would try to strangle him for this, but: “We could also pay off all your debt—”
“Done,” Tsunade interrupted and stood up, shockingly steady on her feet. “I’ll get Shizune and my bags. When do we leave?”
“That’s a neat trick,” said Tsunade as Obito dropped her and Shizune through to his living room via Kamui. She turned to spot a wary Kakashi peering out from the kitchen. “Alright, Hatake, where’s the kid?”
“Tsunade-sama,” said Kakashi, straightening from his defensive stance in surprise. “What are you doing here?”
“Just visiting. But I’ve got to be there for family, haven’t I?” she asked with a self-deprecating smile.
As they walked towards the nursery, Kakashi looked over at Obito curiously. Obito gave him a discreet thumbs-up.
Tsunade looked Naruto over as Shizune observed. “He seems healthy, within the right weight, but you two have been taking him to doctor’s visits, right?”
Obito kind of forgot about the medical appointments. He turned to Kakashi.
Kakashi’s answer was… enlightening. “Sort of. Tsume found another Inuzuka to help.”
“Inuzuka? A vet?”
“None of the doctors were interested in seeing Naruto when I first adopted him, so…” Kakashi hung his head, appearing all the world like a kicked puppy. Obito wondered how much he was playing it up, the devious little shit. Considering the bone-chilling look on Tsunade’s face, it worked.
Naruto gained another godmother.
Tsunade may have kicked in a load-bearing wall in her rampage, but Konoha’s hospital now had a new medical director, too.
When Tsunade made the house call to see Nagato a week later, they could all hear Tsunade’s shriek through the door: “What the fuck did you do?”
Then it was quiet. Konan looked ready to snap in worried tension. Even Shizune looked unnerved by the quiet. After another tense fifteen minutes, Tsunade opened the door and allowed Nagato to wheel out to the waiting eavesdroppers.
“So?” asked Obito. Konan looked on, anxious.
“This is more than a consultation, you little shit,” Tsunade seethed. “You’re fucking lucky I’m choosing to stick around.”
“But can you help him?” Konan asked, pursing her lips in worry.
Tsunade looked at Konan with a slightly more sympathetic expression. “Well, it will take extensive work to undo the physical damage he’s done. It’s likely he’ll never be fully healed but I’ll do what I can. The only reason he isn’t dead already is because he’s an Uzumaki.”
“I’m a what,” said Nagato.
Nagato earned a title upgrade from Godmother to Uncle, to his delight.
Hidan asked, “Can I also be an—”
“No,” said Nagato and Konan at the same time.
“Son of a bitch!” Hidan bellowed as he kicked over a trash can.