Sometimes, Dead is Better
Obito had expected to wake up in the black void that was nothingness.
Or… not wake up at all? The prospect of death was still a mystery to him, despite being dead himself. What was supposed to happen, after all? Would he stay in the hazy purple realm he had inferred to be the afterlife? If that were true- would he see others who had passed in his life? Minato-sensei? The Uchiha Clan? His parents? No, no- he didn't see much of anyone else in the barren land. He doubted they would make themselves known, anyways. He was responsible for the deaths of both his Clan and Minato-sensei. He didn't really anticipate a welcoming party (could the dead have welcoming parties?) but he thought he would see some other person.
Maybe they were ghosts? Rin did say she had watched him after she was killed, (slaughtered, stabbed through the heart by her own comrade, his mind supplied. he was still not ready to fully forgive. He had spent fifteen years of his life succumbed to hate and revenge, after all) Did she walk to earth as a spirit, much like a human? Or did she stay up here and watch from above?
Did one just disappear, scattered like dust in the wind? That's quite what he expected before he saw Rin, thinking he was unworthy of anything else other then simply not existing (and he was unworthy, he knew that, accepted it.)
Whatever the case may be- he didn't quite expect this.
Hazy, bright light. He couldn't see clearly- anything that wasn't a foot in front of his face was blurred and distorted. He couldn't move his arms or legs, he felt changed, different. He was terrified.
His first thought was to panic. So he did.
When he was met by the shrill cry of an infant, and the feeling of fat, heavy tears rolling down his face, he wanted to freeze- trying to hang on to what little self control he felt he had left.
But he couldn't, the hot tears just kept coming, (and kami, he hadn't cried out of fear in years.)
His cries (he hated that he couldn't control himself, hated being so helpless.) were reduced to small whimpers at the sound of a woman cooing softly. He shocked himself with how much he craved some sort of comfort; an anchor.
He began to make out the words the woman was saying as she brought him closer to her face, he was face-to-face with dark eyes- dark hair- a pale complexion and a kind face.
"Shh, Tobi, don't cry, Mommy's right here."
He was a baby again, Obito realized with a start.
He burst into another bout of tears that had his mother scrambling to calm him down.
A baby, he was a goddamn baby. The gods just hated him, didn't they? After spending fifteen fucking years just wishing to be reunited with Rin again, he finally got to see her- and the universe just ripped that dream away from him.
He would laugh- if he wasn't currently sobbing into his mother's chest. (it was then he realized with a jolt, he had a mother, one that he would grow up with if the gods didn't decide to take that away as well)
The universe is cruel. Obito learned that at a young age. He used to have faith- when he was a young, naive and simple genin. But that was ripped away the moment those rocks fell on him and he woke up in Madara's cave.
His name was Tobi now too, as in the same name he used to go undercover and join the Akatsuki. So not only was he reincarnated, but he was stuck with the name of his babbling idiot persona.
With all this on his mind, he allowed himself to cry freely into his mother's breast.
Being a baby again, Obito found, was not something he enjoyed.
The inability to control his body or emotions was one thing, but he was so goddamn bored all the time, and he only had the odd baby toys his mother would give him to busy him. They were, of course, simple and only brought him minor amusement. So he'd end up just watching the T.V on the rare occasions his mother left it on.
Having to be changed was another thing he loathed. Of course he did, he still had the mentality of a thirty-year-old. At least when he was a baby in the Fire Country, he was actually a baby and wouldn't have remembered anything before the age of two. Now, though? He shuddered at the thought.
There was perks to being a baby though, his mother thought he couldn't understand her. (and he didn't expect to either; she wasn't speaking Japanese. How that worked he didn't question) Through this he gained knowledge of this new world he was in.
Like random events at work she talked about, (She was an Art Therapist and had some… interesting patients) The politics of this country, (The democracy had apparently elected a leader she felt was incompetent) and she had the habit to apologize about his lack of father, ("i'm sorry it's just me, tobi, I know you're getting sick of me")
The absence of his father was something he had noticed within the first week of arriving to this universe. There was no man at the hospital, nor was there anyone in the two-bedroom apartment when he was brought home. He'd be lying if he said he wasn't curious as to where the man was. Was he dead? Did he leave willingly? Or was he just away on some trip somewhere?
He didn't think he was dead, judging by his mother's body language whenever he spoke of him. It was never with the sadness of a grieving lover. It was with a sort of… nervousness? He didn't really know how to name it. Nevertheless, it was an odd behavior that Obito wished to investigate.
His mother was someone he respected. She was caring for him alone, and did so with such tender adoration he couldn't help but want to keep her safe.
Maybe it was because of his Uchiha blood, protectiveness seemed to run in the family. (only then he remembered, he didn't exactly have uchiha blood anymore) Or maybe it was because he finally had a mother. Something he was devoid of for as long as he could remember.
Either way, Uchiha Obito, now Tobi Akane, looked at his mother with round, youthful eyes, with only one thought on his mind.
I will protect you, no matter what.
When Obito was four, he asked about his father.
He had walked into the kitchen once after a day at this world's version of the Academy. He wasn't exactly stealthy about his question.
"Where is my father?" He had asked, bluntly. He wanted a straight answer.
His mother stopped her cooking, turned to him, and stared.
He met her gaze unflinchingly. He was curious, definitely. His mother never talked about his father anymore, unlike how she would when he was a baby. And he had waited to ask until it seemed like a normal question to inquire at his age.
She blinked at him, once, twice. Before turning back to the dish she was making.
"We'll have this conversation when you're older."
It was a clear dismissal. He knew he would not get an answer out of her today. He accepted it. But it didn't mean he wasn't angry.
He glared at her back before turning out of the room.
The argument that he 'wasn't old enough' seemed absolutely meaningless to him. He would be thirty-four if he was still alive; His mother didn't know that, obviously, but it's not like he could tell her. (what an interesting conversation that would be, 'actually, i'm a thirty year old who started a war and got shanked by a chakra rod! and now i'm your four-year-old son! whoopee!)
No, he didn't blame her.
But he was still curious.
Every year on his birthday, Obito asked about his father.
Every year, he was treated with the same dismissive response.
Of course, it would vary in the way she said it. Sometimes it would be spoken with the tone of curt finality, other times with apologetic avoidance. Mostly, though, with resigned restraint.
He was getting tired of her antics.
So it was quite alarming when just a week before his thirteenth birthday she whisked him away in her old, beaten down car, ready to tell him about his dad.