In a lot of ways, even several years later, he’s still getting used to...all of this.
All of this.
Being alive. Being...here. With her. In such a typical, domestic, dare he call it normal setting in the last place he ever expected to be. But the fourth war opened his eyes to many things...including a need to stay alive.
He had to come back.
Back to her.
And so, he survived the war. Survived the abuse in Konoha’s prisons...abuse he felt he deserved for his actions a thousand times over. Death, surely, would have been the most fitting punishment. But, as usual, he’s being selfish.
And that selfishness has led to a great many changes...mostly in his own mind. He was content to remain with Ryū, no matter what title they had...but eventually, he decided to make things...official. At least, in the traditional sense. They’d long agreed it didn’t really matter, but...he could tell she wanted it. So, he asked her to marry him.
And she said yes.
But an even greater shift in his thoughts had been in regard to the subject of children. For more than half his life, he despised this world. Found it too cruel, too dark, too beyond saving. Even if he could somehow find a partner...he could never bring another life into a world like the one he’d been shattered in.
But she’d wanted them. Between her mothering nature and her loneliness, devoid of any family of her own, it had been an unspoken wish, even after meeting him.
Their world was changing, even if it was slowly. For the first time since he was thirteen...Obito had hope.
And he decided to bet on it in the most extreme of ways: subject a new life, half his own, to their reality.
They both knew they’d die before letting any child of theirs suffer as they had. Surely, between the two of them...a child could turn out all right.
Even if, at first...he wasn’t convinced he deserved it.
But Ryū was ever patient, doing her best to build him up.
“You will continue to pay for your mistakes for the rest of your life...you know that. There’s no escaping them. But your past shouldn’t cost you your future, Obito. Your future should be where you move forward. Where you try to better yourself...and find happiness.”
So...they started to try.
It wasn’t easy. The damage his body had suffered during the Kannabi Bridge mission left him...struggling. Though Ryū could help him overcome the harm done to his nerves, fertility was vastly reduced. And every negative test made him more anxious, more afraid that he would fail her and her want for a family.
But then...something took root.
And Obito shifted gears completely. If he’d been paranoid over her before, after all she’d suffered on his behalf, he was obsessed with her health now. No bending, no lifting, keeping even walking to a minimum as to protect both her, and the new life she tended.
Ryū, patience intact, allowed a great deal of it, understanding his worry completely. After so long of trying to conceive, and all their struggles before that...they weren’t going to take any chances.
And then, just shy of nine months later, in the middle of September...their son was born.
Obito could scarcely tell what he was feeling. A son...a child of his own. It was almost...too much. And with every milestone, he could only grow more proud. First steps, first words, first teeth and hair and everything in between.
Reiji was half his world, Ryū being the other. The few things he clung to. And as the boy grew, so did his nerves about what their pasts would mean to him once he was old enough to understand. But all else aside, Obito did his best to grow into a father Reiji could be proud of.
“...I feel like we should do something today.”
Looking up from her skimming of the mail after her early shift, Ryū blinks before asking, “...like what?”
“I’m not sure yet. I feel restless,” Obito admits, sitting in his own chair and indeed looking ready to just hop to his feet.
Mulling that over for a moment, his wife then offers, “...why don’t you take Reiji out to do something? I think he’s been rather bored himself, too. And it’s never a bad idea to have a little father and son bonding time, is it?” Her lips curl in a smile.
Obito considers that, seeming to perk up. “...all right. What should we do?”
“Well, I’m hardly an expert on the subject, but...isn’t there always the classic trope of going fishing? I think that’s a rather typical father-son thing to do.”
“...we don’t have any poles.”
“You can get some!”
“It’s fine. Besides, if you catch something, consider it an investment in dinner,” she gently teases, a knowing glint in her eyes. “And even then, it’s still worth it to take him out. You can reuse them as much as you want! Take him out to the Naka and fish for a while. Anything you catch I’ll cook up when you get back, ne?”
That seems to embolden him. “...all right. Then...we’ll do that! And I will catch something.”
Ryū can’t help but giggle into a hand. “I’ll hold you to that!”
“Reiji!” Obito calls as he gets up from the table, moving to find his son. “Come on, we’re going out!”
Peering down the stairs, the boy blinks dark greys. “...out?”
“I’m going to teach you how to fish.”
He brightens. “You know how to fish, tōchan…?”
Well...he used to watch Kakashi do it. Surely it can’t be that difficult. “Of course. Come on, we’ll get ourselves some poles and give it a try!”
Reiji scampers down the steps, trailing eagerly after his father as he moves toward the door. “Okay! Is kāchan coming with us…?”
“I’ll be here when you get back,” she assures her son with a smile. “You go catch us some fish, and I’ll cook them up, ne?”
Hand at his boy’s back, Obito ushers him out once his shoes are on. “Be back later.”
“Be safe,” Ryū offers as always, smiling gently.
“Of course.” Once out, he leads the way to the shopping district. “So...are you excited?”
“Yeah!” Reiji chirps, little legs jogging to keep up with Obito’s longer steps. “I’ve never gone fishing before! Think we’ll catch one?”
“I’m sure we will. But you have to be patient, too.”
A brief visit to a bait and tackle shop later, they emerge with two poles (one a good bit smaller than the other), some bait, and an ice bucket for their potential catches. From there, it’s a jaunt to the banks of the Naka. “So...first, we have to put the bait on the hook, like this.” Wrangling a worm, Obito skewers it onto the barbs.
Immediately, Reiji’s face falls. “...you mean…? Does it hurt?”
Obito glances up. Yet another way Reiji takes after his mother. “Well, er...no. You see...worms can’t feel. So no, it doesn’t hurt them. But if you want to catch a fish, you have to lure them in with food. And a fish loves a worm, hm?”
“...okay,” the boy replies, tone still rather unsure.
“...here, I’ll do the first one for you.” Once they’re both baited, he stands and says, “Now, we have to cast. Hold your pole like this...put your line behind you...and then flick it out into the water, like so.” Obito demonstrates, sending the hook and worm out into the slow current of the river.
Watching with eager eyes, Reiji carefully mimics his father’s posture before doing the same. His line only travels a fraction of the distance, but still makes it into decent water. “Like that?”
“Yes! Very good. And now...we wait.”
Several minutes of silence pass, and Obito glances to his son. Reiji, in turn, stares intensely at his line.
“...now, a fish might nibble it first, and then leave. Only pull once you feel a real big tug, hm? That will hook him! Then you have to reel him in, but carefully. You don’t want to break your line, all right?”
“O-okay.” Still watching, he tightens his grip on the pole.
Obito just gives a soft snort, looking back to his own.
Another bout of silence, and then Reiji gives a sound of shock. “Oh! It moved!”
“Is it still pulling?”
“Y...yeah! I think so!”
“Then give a tug back, and start reeling, all right?”
Reiji nods, giving a few bobs of his pole and then turning the reel. “It...it’s strong, tōchan!”
“Just keep reeling whenever you feel him get tired. He’ll wear himself out eventually. Just be patient, and watch your line!”
Intensity now tinged with worry, Reiji does his best to follow the instructions. His little hands shake as the line sways this way and that, reeling whenever he feels the pull slacken. Bit by bit, the line approaches the shore until they can see flickers of fish.
“You’ve almost got it!”
“Hngh…!” Giving one last pull, Reiji brings his catch up from the water.
It shakes and flails on the line, Obito setting aside his own to help grab it. It’s a rather decent size, and he grins ear to ear. “Reiji, look! You did it!”
Panting in both effort and nerves, the boy manages to perk up, watching as Obito frees it from the hook. “I...I did…!”
“Now, er…” The hard part. “You, uh...you check your hook, all right? And I’ll take care of the fish.”
Once the boy’s attention is elsewhere, Obito puts the fish out of its misery and into the bucket of ice. “Want to try again?”
They pass another hour, Reiji catching another two fish, while Obito manages a few of his own. By the time they’re done, there’s more than enough for dinner.
Poles put away and bucket in hand, Obito ruffles his son’s hair with a wide grin. “You did well!”
Reiji, in turn, beams happily in pride. “Thanks for taking me, tōchan! It was fun! Can we...do that again sometime?”
“Of course! You just let me know, all right?”
“Well...I have a job tomorrow. But maybe my next day off, hm? Then we’ll have more fresh fish for supper.”
Ryū meets them at the door, praising them both. “Look at all these fish! You did such a good job, dear - I’m proud of you.”
“Thanks kāchan! Can we eat now? I’m starving…!”
“Well, we have to get the fish ready first, but then I’ll get them cooking! Why don’t you wash up, and you can help me, ne?”
“Mind handling the dirty work?” she then asks Obito with a smile.
“So, did you have fun…?”
“Well, we couldn’t talk much without scaring the fish, and…” He gestures to their son. “He was far too focused, anyway.”
“I’m sure he just wanted to do a good job. He’ll relax the more you take him...then you can talk a bit more.”
Hand on his shoulder, Ryū lifts to give her husband a warm press of her lips to his cheek. “Thank you for taking him. I’m sure it’s all he’ll talk about for days.”
That brings a pleasant swell to Obito’s chest. “Hn...yeah! He already wants to go again.”
“I’m sure! Now...get those gutted and scaled, and I’ll handle the rest...unless you want to lend a hand in the kitchen, too?”
“I could do that.”