There are days when Obito thinks he’s being melodramatic. After all, nothing bad had happened in the cave. Madara had never hurt him. There was no reason to be so anxious around people, no reason to be so damned jumpy, no reason to hurl Rin across the room just because she hugged him.
But then he goes to bed at night and he dreams.
He dreams of boulders and a lack of pain that was more terrifying than agony would’ve been. He dreams of waking up to a combination of oh god, it hurts so much and why can’t I feel my right side? He dreams of Madara, telling him that he can’t leave, he can’t even walk, that Obito owes him his life.
He dreams of Guruguru taking his bandages off and seeing his new arm for the first time. Sometimes he dreams of a sword stabbing through his heart and a pink-haired woman wondering idly if he deserves it.
Some nights are worse than others. Some nights, the rush of terror and grief and crippling agony of his dreams are so bad he wakes up already vomiting on his pillow. Some nights, it’s so bad he wakes up feeling drained dry and left empty inside.
Those nights, Minato stays with him.
He knows why. He knows Minato’s terrified of him doing something, of him killing himself or maybe even killing someone else in his state. He did almost throw Rin out a window from ten stories up, so he can’t really blame Minato.
The problem is that on those nights, he doesn’t care. He can’t. He can’t care about anything, and all he can do is let Minato gently direct him to eat, to drink, to take this pill and that and to try, try to get some more sleep, please?
Kakashi avoids him. Rin avoids him.
It should hurt. Maybe it does. Maybe it’s a new kind of pain that just leaves him feeling colder.
He wonders if he should do something. He tries to apologize to Rin, at some point, but she just gives him a horrified look and bursts into tears. “Don’t say that. It was my fault, Obito, I’m sorry.” She tells him, and then flees when she can’t stop crying.
Kakashi, he can’t ever keep in one place long enough to even say ‘hello’ to. It’s alright, though. He doesn’t force it, because he sees it sometimes, when Kakashi thinks he isn’t looking. He sees the guilt twisting Kakashi’s face, the small portion of it that’s even left bare to be seen, and he gets it.
No one’s pushing Obito to get his shit together at anything but his own pace. He figures he’ll return the favor and leave Kakashi alone until he’s ready.
In the end, that seems to be the best decision. In the end, the both of them show up in his apartment, four months after his ‘rescue’. (Is it really a rescue if they do it by skewering you and dumping you in a forest?) “We’re going to stay with you a while.” Kakashi says by way of hello.
It’s shocking for a number of reasons. One, he hadn’t seen either of them so closely in a while, so it’s a little surprising to open the door to both of them right there. Two, Kakashi was supposed to be out of Konoha on some retrieval mission. And three, it’s the first time Kakashi’s spoken to him in the last year and a half, and that’s a pretty painful way of thinking about it.
He can’t speak, his throat working painfully, and for a moment, the idea of them being in his personal space is horrifying.
But that’s ridiculous. He lets Minato in all the time, and they were his teammates. He literally died for Kakashi, he can let the kid in his damned living room, so Obito firmly but silently steps back and pulls the door open a little further.
Rin leads the way, flashing him a strained but warm smile before she goes for the sofa. Kakashi follows a hesitant step behind, and Obito forces himself to close the door and follow them. They both sit on the sofa, so he sits in the armchair and tries not to let his discomfort show.
“You’re walking better now.” Rin acknowledges, and somehow manages to sound sweet and warm without being condescending.
He doesn’t smile, but he does feel a little cheered up at that point. “I am.” He confirms, and it’s only when he hears how raspy his voice is that he realizes how long it’s been since he’s spoken.
Days, now, at least. Minato hadn’t come by in two weeks, out on the same mission as Kakashi, and the only interaction Obito had really had had come in the form of Kushina dropping off food three days ago. “I can walk a couple of miles now,” Obito says when he realizes it’s gotten awkwardly silent. “I still can’t run, though.”
‘His’ thigh - it doesn’t feel like a part of him, even after over a year - is still a little too unstable, still adapting to the body it’s supposed to be a part of. Too much force and it still gives.
But it’s better, he supposes. He can walk, after all, and that makes the lingering sense of overwhelming helplessness from the cave ease a lot.
“How about the arm?” Rin asks curiously, leaning in a little to peer at the abnormally white hand resting on his knee.
He can’t help the way he flinches and clenches it into a fist, fighting the urge to throw something over it, to hide it from sight. It’s unnatural, and while his thigh doesn’t feel like a part of him, at least he can ignore the strangeness of it. His arm, not so much. Just one glance at it screams unnatural, alien, diseased.
Obito takes a deep breath and relaxes his hand, then lifts his left one up to gesture at the wall next to the front door. “Haruna,” Obito starts to explain, then blinks and glances at Kakashi, “he’s a Yamanaka, he’s been… well. ‘Handling’ me, I suppose.”
Acting as a therapist and also acting as a poorly hidden threat investigator at the same time. Kakashi arches an eyebrow and offers a small shrug. “I had to deal with that once, after Dad. They never left me alone.” He bitches, and Obito can’t help the way his lips twitch, just a tiny bit.
It feels weird after so long, but it also feels pretty good.
“Yeah. I’m getting more and more alone time now, so I guess I’m getting better.” Obito shrugs and looks at the wall again. “He told me I can’t cover my arm anymore. That it’s a part of me, and if I ever want to be a shinobi again, I need to embrace it instead of shunning it.” Obito says mildly, gesturing at the wall.
There’s an ugly, misshapen Konoha symbol traced out of kunai. The first half of it is almost unrecognizable as the symbol, but the other end steadily gets clearer and clearer. “You’re practicing with it?” Rin asks, surprised, and Obito nods, glancing down at the unnaturally white limb.
“Yeah. It still shakes, though I think it’s more from..,” He trails off and gestures vaguely at his head, lifting his shoulder in a small shrug.
“Hmph. Sounds like it’s time to stop slacking off, then.” Kakashi says almost lazily, but when Obito looks at him in surprise at the tone, his eyebrow is arched in a familiar, challenging way.
Like he thinks Obito’s a complete moron and wants to see how long it takes him to figure that out.
“Some things don’t change.” Obito snorts softly, but he can’t even fake any heat in his tone. Kakashi rolls his eye.
“Come to training with us next week. We’ll start small.” Kakashi says suddenly, dead serious.
It’s… weird, seeing Kakashi like this.
The Kakashi he knew was disdainful and severe. This one is… drawling lazily and being bizarrely supportive.
“What?” Is all he can offer, feeling lost, and Kakashi huffs softly and holds up a kunai.
“One eyed kunai melee fighting.” Kakashi says, like that’s an actual title for a genuine training method, and Obito blinks at him incredulously. “Practice your depth perception, defending your blind side, and strengthening your arm all at once.”
...Well, Kakashi was still a genius, apparently. “I’m not sure my arm can take much damage.”
“So we’ll start small. Practice katas. Remember those, or has it been too long since you left the academy?” Kakashi asks with that stupid raised eyebrow again.
He can’t help it. “Of course I remember!” Obito snaps defensively, though he isn’t entirely sure what he’s defending, to be honest. “We graduated at the same time, you asshole.”
Rin bursts into giggles, Kakashi looks at him smugly, and only then does Obito realize.
He feels more like himself than he has in months. He’s not sure what it says about him as a person that it takes him desperately wanting to choke out a ten year old to make him feel normal, but he doesn’t care. For a moment, he’s able to smile again.
Nothing, not even the realization that the pink-haired woman was in Konoha, and was breaking out of prison for that matter, and not even the faint sensation of evil chakra in the distance is enough to take that victory away from him.
It’s the small things, he starts to realize, that mean the most when you’re at your lowest.
They vanish off the face of the earth, and they take the evil mystery chakra with them.
“They’re just gone.” Minato says helplessly two months later, when they’re all gathered in his home.
It’s the first time Obito’s able to stay for more than an hour before he’s itching to escape to his apartment. Kakashi and Rin are there, Minato is there, and even though the topic isn’t a pleasant one, Kushina’s bright attitude and delicious cooking is enough to keep him from…
From losing his shit, as he’s started to call it. Now that it’s happening less and less often, he’s able to talk about it more, and sometimes, he even cracks a joke about it.
Okay, so it was only the one joke so far, but he’s getting there. It was worth it to see the way Minato had looked like he’d just been punched in the gut, and definitely worth it to see Kushina actually fall over from laughing so hard at Minato’s face.
“No one’s seen any trace of them.” Minato sighs heavily, glaring down at his plate like it had just insulted his family or something.
Obito opens his mouth and almost says something completely stupid (“Isn’t that a good thing?”) before he catches himself. Kakashi’s foot jabs his and Obito looks over to see him arching an eyebrow in his usual, bitchy judgmental way. Obito glares at him. Rin catches both of their eyes and glances pointedly at Minato, who has apparently chosen his dinner as tonight’s target to brood at.
“I jumped off a tree today.” Obito informs the room at large.
There’s a short pause at the sudden and unsubtle change in subject, and then Rin beams a surprised grin. “Really? That’s great!”
“He barely wobbled.” Kakashi says, but manages to still sniff in such a way to make it judgmental instead of complimentary.
“You try jumping around on a thigh made of alien jelly.” Obito snaps at him, kicking his foot under the table.
Kakashi retaliates by sliding down his chair for extra reach and kicking Obito hard in the knee cap.
“You little-” Obito jerks upwards and goes for the throat.
Rin yanks Kakashi back and Minato grabs the back of Obito’s collar, laughing sheepishly. “Hey, hey, calm down you two.”
Kushina just sits there and grins, stupid with happiness at their well-missed interactions.
Some things, at least, never change.
“You and Konan, huh?” Jiraiya asks slowly, four months after the Mystery Quartet’s disappearance.
“It’s complicated.” Yahiko shrugs, but there’s a too-warm smile tugging at his lips and it gives away his real feelings.
Jiraiya watches Konan leave, a gently guiding hand pressed to the back of the seven year old his two students have apparently adopted. “He’s sweet.”
“He’s tortured.” Yahiko corrects, pulling a bitter face. “Kiri definitely deserves their little nickname, don’t they? Bloody Mist.” Yahiko snorts the words and then sighs heavily, rubbing at his eyes. “How’d you find out they were here?”
Jiraiya has never heard him sound so exhausted. Responsibility was good for him, but trying to rebuild an entire country from the ground up while still in the middle of a war? He didn’t envy his old apprentice, so it’s out of sympathy that he immediately offers up, “I’m not here to take them or anything - and this stays between us if you want it to.” Jiraiya promises, making Yahiko jerk his head up in surprise. “I mean it. I’d like to tell sensei, but, well. He’s a Hokage first, so I’d understand if you’d rather-”
“It’s fine.” Yahiko cuts him off dismissively, pulling another displeased face. “It’s just… complicated. And unbelievable.”
Jiraiya waits for a long moment, but Yahiko doesn’t offer any elaboration. “What is, exactly?”
Yahiko presses his lips together hard and then huffs out a breath, pushing himself to his feet. “Wait here. I’ll let them tell you themselves.” He says before heading off after Konan. He returns a few minutes later, flopping back down onto the sofa and huffing. “Han and Roshi are on the way. It’ll take them a few minutes, they live on the outskirts of the village for now. Their choice.” Yahiko adds at Jiraiya’s raised eyebrow. “I guess they lived the secluded life before, so they’re easing into things.”
“Ah.” He pauses for a moment, groping for some delicate way to put this. “How’s Nagato, ah… adapting?”
Yahiko’s lips press together for a whole new reason now, and that reason is desperately suppressed laughter.
“Oh, no. How bad is it?” Jiraiya asks mournfully, and his precious student gives up and outright cackles.
“He tried- he-” Yahiko howls and Jiraiya groans, covering his face with his hands while he waits for Yahiko to get a grip on himself. “Oh, gods, it was hysterical. A house caught on fire last week and Nagato was the first shinobi there. He decided to put the fire out with a quick water jutsu.” Yahiko giggles - giggles, as a grown man! - and swipes at the tears under his eyes. “He blew it up.”
The laughter returns full force, and Yahiko ends up doubled forward with the force of it. It’s too much.
Jiraiya snorts softly, and then snickers into his palm.
“He blew up a house with a water jutsu!” Yahiko crows, clutching his stomach.
They end up spending several minutes snickering and cackling at Nagato’s misfortune.
Eventually, when the sheer ridiculousness of it has run it’s course, Yahiko takes a deep, shaky breath and wipes at his tears again. “He’s doing fine. He’s still getting used to having to be so careful with his chakra, obviously -” another snicker -”but overall he’s not too bad. The eye thing, that kept him down for a while, of course, but those weirdo’s…” Yahiko shakes his head and offers a small shrug. “They left some pretty crazy jutsu scrolls for him and Nagato’s been entertaining himself by playing with them since.”
“What kind of jutsus?” Jiraiya asks curiously and Yahiko offers a small shrug.
“He won’t let us see most of the scrolls, but I’ve seen him use two of the jutsus, and it was pretty intense. He might’ve lost the Rinnegan, but that asshole can still use every damned element.” Yahiko snorts loudly at that, reaching up to scratch at his cheek. “And call me crazy, but I’m almost certain he’s been fucking with the weather somehow.”
“The weather?” Jiraiya echoes, startled, and Yahiko gives a sharp nod.
“The weather.” He confirms like it’s a curse. “It’s always been rainy here, of course, but the last two weeks the rain has been just plain bizarre. Unpredictable. Appears and then completely vanishes at random. I don’t know, some of it I can’t explain, it’s just intuition. Something’s weird with the rain, and Nagato’s been looking strained recently, so it’s probably him dicking around somewhere.”
“Yeesh,” Jiraiya murmurs, shooting a thoughtful look out the nearest window. It isn’t raining now, but… “That’d take a hell of a lot of chakra, and control…”
“Yeah, well. Knowing Nagato, he’d probably decide controlling the rain would be a good way to train his chakra control.”
“To be fair, he probably wouldn’t be wrong.” Jiraiya says, then pauses and lifts his eyebrows. “He might end up dead doing it,” he adds consideringly, “but he won’t be wrong.”
“Oh, well, so long as he’s right.” Yahiko mutters dryly.
Jiraiya turns back to him, but that’s the moment the doors swing open and their conversation cuts off. Two men walk in, one of them in a suit of armor that’s reminiscent of the Land of Iron’s samurai, and the other dressed much more casually. “Han, Roshi, this is my sensei, Jiraiya.”
“The Toad Sage of Konoha.” The casually dressed one says by way of greeting, pausing at the sofas and arching an eyebrow at Jiraiya. The armored one comes to a stop beside his fellow shinobi.
Ex fellow shinobi? Still fellow shinobi? When you both desert from the same village, what does that make you, exactly?
Ah, right, of course. Fellow ex-shinobi is the wording he’s looking for. ...He thinks.
“It’s a pleasure. I don’t know if it’s worth much to you, but you have my word that I won’t sell you guys out. Your location is safe with me.” Jiraiya promises.
The armored man doesn’t say anything, but he shifts his orange eyes towards Roshi, who glances at Yahiko questioningly, who shrugs at Roshi in response, who then turns at Han and shrugs at him.
Then they both sit down next to Yahiko.
It’s weird, and slightly eerie. “Right.” Jiraiya says brightly, clapping his hands together. “I’ve got a couple of questions that need answering. I swear to you, I won’t tell anyone your locations - but I do need to hunt down some information for my Hokage, and I was hoping you’d provide it.”
“I suppose that depends on what information you’re looking for, Sannin.” Roshi offers blandly and Yahiko sits up before Jiraiya can respond to that.
“He wants to know about the two months you spent alongside them.” Yahiko informs them, and Han folds his arms across his chest, making a small sound of displeasure behind his mask. Roshi glances over, doing another silent communication somehow with a man whose only body part you could see were his eyes, and then looks back at Jiraiya.
“I don’t promise to answer it all, but ask away.” Roshi says invitingly.
It’s a warmer start than Jiraiya was expecting, and he’s not about to waste it. “First off, Sakura Uzumaki claimed that all of you but Yugito came along willingly, and that even Yugito stayed with them willingly. Is that accurate?”
“It is. Yugito Nii did choose to stay in the end, as did we all.” Roshi confirms with a small incline of his head. “However, things did not progress as planned.”
The story is, to be frank, an insane one.
Roshi refuses to share why they all chose to go along willingly. The answer, which they will take to their graves, is that Naruto Uzumaki had simply pressed his hand to theirs and they saw the end of the world.
Naturally, they were all in agreement about stopping it.
The story is that after Sakura Uzumaki and the Nara - whom he refuses to name for Jiraiya - were captured, Sasuke and Naruto led the jinchuuriki to a cave with a strange, unnatural, monstrous statue within it.
The story is that they fed the statue the two sealed Bijuu - the Ichibi and the Sanbi - to the statue, and then they all touched it to bring it back to life. Then things went wrong. Sakura Uzumaki returned to them, appearing in a method similar to a reverse-summoning, and used her implanted Rinnegan eyes to teleport them all into another land.
The story is that the statue-turned-creature then drained the jinchuuriki dry, stealing away the bijuu for itself.
The story is that the jinchuuriki then woke up as normal, bijuu-less humans, right back in that cave, hearty and whole but with no memory or idea of how.
The truth is that they all, each and every one of them, even seven year old Utakata and ten year old Yugito Nii, put their hands to that statue knowing it was their deaths.
The truth is that they didn’t know if Sakura would succeed.
The truth is that they remember all too well when she did.
They remember Limbo, they remember meeting lost friends or family, and they remember the beam of light that came down to guide them back home. They also remember, all too vividly, the sound of Sakura’s agonized screams as they travelled back to their bodies.
Sakura was only a quarter Uzumaki. Her chakra was more abundant than an average shinobi’s, but it wasn’t close to even a half Uzumaki’s chakra reserves, like Naruto’s.
She was never going to survive the Rinnegan for very long, even with her Yin seal, but she didn’t have to. The plan, for each and every one of them, was to die. The only important part was when.
And, well, it was also pretty important not to tell anyone the truth. Knowledge about time-travel? Now that was a dangerous thing to go spreading. So they keep their silence, and they spread a lie instead, and all of the ex-jinchuuriki are in agreement about taking the secret to their graves. Just in case.
Though, no one would believe it, anyways.
They hardly even believe the lie.
When Obito’s sixteen, he’s reinstated as a shinobi and is sent to the Kiri front lines with Kakashi and Rin as his side. Minato marries Kushina and a week later he goes to the Iwa border and singlehandedly wins that part of the war for Konoha.
When Obito’s seventeen, the front lines have eased, replaced by half-hearted border skirmishes, and Sarutobi signs an official treaty with Iwagakure, ending part of the Third War.
He steps down, Minato steps up, and Obito steps away. “I’m done.” He tells Minato tiredly and apologetically. “I’ll stay in shape. I’ll keep working with Kakashi whenever he’s here. I’ll practice, I’ll train - I’ll be here, if you need me. But I’m done.” He says quietly, and tries his best not to feel like he’s giving up.
He isn’t, not really. He’s just… tired.
Maybe Minato can see that. Maybe he just understands, because he doesn’t argue, he just offers Obito a sad smile. “Alright. I’ll put you on reserve.” Minato says, then ducks his stupid, Hokage-hat covered head, and scribbles something out onto a piece of paper. “You aren’t giving up, Obito.”
He really isn’t, but it helps to hear Minato say that, so he offers him a small grin.
“No. I think I’ve earned a nice retirement, though.”
“Well, you did die for us.” Minato points out with a grin of his own, and Obito can laugh at that now.
It makes him feel even more confident in his decision. “I’m thinking Police Force. I know, I know, it’s not very creative for an Uchiha, but.” Obito shrugs, and doesn’t want to outright say that he has literally no clue what else he could do with his life.
He’s always been a shinobi. Always. At least with the Police, he’d be with retired and reserve shinobi just like himself.
“If you do, I want you to do me a favor.” Minato says, lifting his dumb hatted head again. “I’ve noticed an increase in hostilities between shinobi and the police again, now that the war efforts are dying down a bit. Tensions are too high without an enemy around to take it out on, and I’m worried they’ll turn it on the Police.”
“It makes sense.” Obito agrees with a sigh, rubbing at the back of his neck. It only feels a little sickening to use his right arm for normal things like that, now, and he tries to do it as often as he can stomach it. “The Military Police Force, well, polices the military. Sure they only go after criminals, but they go after shinobi, and that’s enough for some people to see them as a target.”
“Yeah.” Minato exhales a heavy breath, leaning back. “I want you to help with that. You’re nice, unlike- well, unlike Fugaku, to be frank.” Minato mutters that last bit but Obito still hears it and snickers a little. “Do some PR. You’re friendly. People like you. Use that to help out their reputation a bit, eh?”
“I’ll do what I can.” Obito agrees.
And then Obito’s eighteen. He’s just turned eighteen, he’s in the Police Force, and for the first time in his life, he actually has a bearable relationship with some of his family members. It’s nice.
But Kakashi’s fourteen, and he’s ANBU now, and that’s not nice.
Half the time when Obito sees him, he’s broken and battered and smug about it. “If you think I look bad, then it’s a good thing you quit, because you wouldn’t be able to stomach what happened to the other guy.” Kakashi snickers, and Obito kicks his ass for that.
...Okay, no, he doesn’t. But only because Kakashi’s small and he’s scrappy, okay?
But anyways, Obito’s life is pretty okay. Kakashi’s life is, too, considering. Rin’s is great - she’s already conquering Konoha’s shinobi hospital one department at a time, and she’s only eighteen as well.
And then Kushina gets pregnant, and things get weird. It isn’t until the end of March that Minato tells them, and while the man is clearly thrilled, it’s a subdued kind of joy.
He smiles brightly, but fleetingly, and when he thinks no one’s looking, he looks troubled and distracted. They all notice of course, because Minato’s almost as bad as Obito at hiding anything from their team, but none of them press.
It’s not until July that Obito even feels the need to ask about it. It’s at a party to celebrate the birth of Fugaku’s second son, Sasuke, who is utterly adorable and already an expert swaddle escape artist. Obito’s actually invited, which speaks to just how much his bond to his family has grown, and so is Minato.
Halfway through the event, Sasuke starts crying, and five year old Itachi wanders over and taps him on his little forehead. It startles Sasuke into silence immediately, and after a moment, Itachi starts tickling him and he giggles instead. It’s adorable.
It’s adorable, yet when Obito turns to look at Minato, the Hokage has gone stark white. “Are you alright?” Obito asks instantly, alarmed, and he jumps a little.
“Huh? Oh, yeah, I’m fine.” Minato says quickly, blinking hard and trying to turn towards Obito, but his attention keeps going right back towards the two brothers. “Yeah, I just…” He trails off and Obito frowns, looking at the brothers.
Nope. Nothing suspicious. Still just utterly adorable. “What’s gotten into you lately, sensei?” Obito asks hesitantly, and the man’s head snaps around to look at him with slightly too-wide eyes.
“You seem pretty stressed out.” And weirdly negatively affected by cute babies.
“I’m not.” Minato denies.
It’s very convincing.
To the dirt on the ground, maybe.
But if Obito’s learned anything from the last several years of his life, it’s that you don’t press when people look freaked out by something. So he lets it go for as long as it takes to hunt down Rin and Kakashi and relay the event back to them.
“New father cold feet?” Rin suggests uncertainly, chewing her lip. “He is pretty young.”
“He’s twenty-four.” Kakashi argues, which is weirdly adorable. Aw, he thinks twenty-four is old. Just wait till you turn eighteen you little bastard.
“Still pretty young.” Rin offers with a shrug. “I know I won’t have kids until twenty-six, minimum.”
“Really?” Obito asks, startled, and she frowns a bit at him. “I just mean, you’ve got the right, uh. Mentality for it, I guess? You’re pretty patient and warm.” He explains honestly, and really hopes he doesn’t accidentally insult her somehow.
“Thank you.” Rin cheers up a bit at that, and Obito mentally claps himself on the back for being such a social success, “But yes, really. I have a career, you know. Plus I’m not even interested in anyone like that, and I’d definitely have to date someone for at least three years before I made that kind of commitment.”
“You sound like your expectations might be too high, Rin.” Kakashi says mildly, picking at his nails.
“And you sound like you actually have any idea how relationships work. Offer advice when you’ve actually dated someone, squirt.” Obito snaps, dropping a fist down on Kakashi’s stupid, gravity defying hair.
There’s a short scuffle, and then Kakashi’s wrapped on his back like a spidermonkey, using his entire body to yank Obito backwards into a choke hold, and Obito’s frantically slamming the little shit into the nearest wall as hard as he can.
Rin, having learned at some point over the last six years, just sighs and starts painting her toes.
It isn’t until September, a couple days after Shikamaru Nara is born, that Minato finally fesses up.
(At least Obito thinks he does. In reality, Minato only shares the reason for half of his stress. The rest of it is because of a secret that he will take to his grave.)
He called them into his office, seals it up tight, and grimaces at his former students.
“What I’m about to tell you is Above S-Class information. It never leaves this room,” Minato says, and Obito tenses immediately at that, feeling Rin and Kakashi do the same at either side of him. “You’ll never speak of it. Not with Kushina, not with me, and not among yourselves, unless we are in this room with these seals activated.”
“Yes, Hokage-sama.” They recite almost as one.
“The bijuu are gone.” Minato starts with grimly, pushing himself to his feet. “The Unknown Team sealed them into an object I won’t describe and vanished with it. We’ve been on guard for several years since, waiting to see if the bijuu would reappear, but they haven’t. What this means is…” Minato rounds his desk and stops, taking a deep breath before meeting their stares. “Kushina Uzumaki is the jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi, and that makes her the only thing standing in the way of anyone getting their hands on the last bijuu left.”
“Another Above S-Class secret is that one of the most dangerous things for a jinchuuriki to experience is, unfortunately for us, childbirth. With most of her chakra going towards the infant, her seal will become unstable, and if anyone knows these two facts, then Kushina’s at an incredibly high risk right now.”
That explains a few things, Obito reflects.
Yeesh, no wonder the guy was so stressed out!
“We’ll be taking her out of the village on October 9th to induce labor and deliver the child in a prepared, secure location, away from any potential collateral damage. Rin.” Minato begins severely, looking at the kunoichi. “I want you to help with the birth. Biwako’s taken on the role of midwife, but I’d feel better with you there on hand, just in case.”
“Of course!” Rin says instantly. “Of course I’ll be there, sensei.”
Minato’s expression softens a little with gratitude, and then he turns his attention to Obito and Kakashi.
“I want you both there to protect the outside.”
Obito blinks hard at him, hesitating only as long as it takes to wrap his mind around this flood of information, and then he grins and bumps Kakashi’s elbow. “Is that even a question?” He asks Minato cheekily, Kakashi giving a sharp nod at his side.
It’s the brightest he’s seen the man smile since Sasuke’s party.
Obito’s nineteen and he’s the godfather of a stupidly adorable whisker-cheeked baby.
“It was going to be Jiraiya, honestly, but… he travels so much, you know? He’d never settle down, not even for my son.” Minato says sheepishly when he asks.
“Yeah, but Jiraiya’s never been told by Yamanaka’s that he’s actually, genuinely, literally insane.”
Minato just shrugs at that. “You got better.”
There’s no denying that, to be fair. Even if he does still have a fair amount of bad days, nearly five years after his return.
Of course, he’s nineteen, and he’s gotten comfortable.
He’s gotten comfortable after two years of easy living. Technically, the war is still on, but they’re locked in a stalemate cold war with Kumo and only the occasional border skirmish with Kiri, so he hasn’t been ordered back to active duty. So he’s been a police officer, and he’s become a member of his family, and he’s become godfather to an adorable blonde with lungs way too big to be good for his parents hearing.
Most importantly: He’s become relaxed.
Which is why he doesn’t notice the snake until it’s bit his ankle. He kills it instantly, jumps to his feet, and promptly crashes into his own coffee table. Fuck, Obito thinks, his head spinning violently, and he reaches up in a vain attempt to find some sort of purchase on the nearby arm chair. Instead, his hand gets halfway there and then his arm gives out, dropping onto the painfully sharp shattered glass.
God damn it, no, Obito thinks miserably before he falls unconscious.
He doesn’t wake up again until Kakashi rips the IV out of his hand and hits him with a weak lightning jutsu. His sharp inhale is muffled by Kakashi’s hand slamming over his mouth, and holy crap.
The fifteen year old looks more furious than Obito has ever seen him.
He doesn’t say anything, but he slowly pulls his hand away from Obito’s mouth and presses a finger to his own masked one.
Right. Duh. He got kidnapped. Enemy fortress or something.
Fortress? Obito looks around to see if it actually is one, and immediately regrets that decision.
It’s not a fortress, but it’s a very large lab, and it has a lot of very horrible things inside it. Floating fetuses, some of them mutated horribly, preserved organs… the walls are lined with bodies, strapped or hanging, some of them still alive with their chests scarred like they’ve been autopsied.
Obito gags a little bit, but he does it silently. Kakashi’s hand tugs at his shoulder and he tries to obey the silent command. He forces his left arm under him and props himself up onto his elbow.
His entire body aches. Every joint hurts sharply, like the world’s worst case of stiffness, and his bones throb when he tries to get up.
He’s too slow, still drugged up even with Kakashi’s wake up call, and he can already see the frustrated stress developing on the kid’s mostly hidden face.
How the hell am I going to get out of here when I can barely move my feet? Obito can’t help but wonder, a little worried now. Which probably indicates just how drugged he is, because he should be very worried, he thinks. He reaches out to set his hand on Kakashi’s shoulder, the other flat against the mattress, and pushes himself to his feet.
Which is when Kakashi makes a sharp sound and the door flies open.
Orochimaru storms in, snakes swarming out at his feet, and stabs in their direction with a sword.
It’s a lot to take in all at once. A, he’s drugged and everything’s slow. B, Wasn’t Orochimaru friend, not foe? What the fuck is happening? And C, the sword was way too short to do any damage to them.
Except it does.
It does, because somehow, while Obito’s trying to process the information overload, the sword stretches and buries itself through Kakashi’s chest. “I’m afraid I can’t let my newest subject go that easily.” Orochimaru says smoothly, the blade pulling back. It shrinks back down just as impossibly as it had stretched out, but Obito doesn’t notice that, because Kakashi’s dropping to the floor, and he isn’t moving.
It feels like he spends an eternity standing there, gaping like a fish, and Kakashi isn’t moving.
His eye burns. He sinks to his knees, from the drugs or the shock or the something else, and grabs Kakashi’s shoulder, and he. Isn’t. Moving.
“It’s alright, Obito-kun.” Orochimaru says silkily. His eye is really burning. “There’s nothing to fear. You’re far too dangerous to keep awake, so you needn’t ever wake up again.”
Obito blinks hard, but there aren’t any tears - his eye is searing, but there’s no reason for it, and he doesn’t understand.
He doesn’t understand why Kakashi isn’t moving.
“At least now I’ll have the full set. I suppose Hatake was good for something after all.”
Blood is pooling out under him rapidly, soaking into the pants over Obito’s knees, and he reaches down to press his hand to Kakashi’s chest.
He needs the hospital. He needs to be in the hospital right now, because Obito can’t fix this, this is- there’s too much blood, it’s already oozing between his fingers, and he needs the hospital now.
His eye burns, and the world twists sickeningly. For a moment, he’s plunged into complete darkness, but before he can work it out, the world twists again, and then he’s-
Obito blinks at the surprised shrieks around him. He’s at the hospital.
For the first time in what feels like days, this is something that clicks relatively quickly. “I need help!” Obito screams, hoarse and ragged, and he can’t tell if it’s from emotion or disuse. How long did Orochimaru have him? He doesn’t remember anything since his apartment and the damn snake.
Obito shakes his head to clear it, looking around to see a group of medic-nin rushing towards them, and he looks down at the hand on Kakashi’s-
What the fuck? Obito wonders, because his hand isn’t on Kakashi’s chest. His hand is through it. He yanks his hand back quickly, but there’s no hole where it had been, no sudden gushing blood - there isn’t even any blood on his hand above the knuckles, but it had been wrist deep-
The medics are there, grabbing Kakashi and rushing him onto a stretcher.
One of them tries to put a hand on his shoulder. She goes right through and staggers forward, barely catching herself from face planting on the floor. Obito ignores that, looking desperately after the group rushing Kakashi away, shouting urgently in words he doesn’t have the brainpower to comprehend at the moment.
“Someone get the Hokage, now!” Someone yells.
Obito ignores that, too, and pushes himself to his feet. It doesn’t work out well. His head spins and he stumbles, his feet feeling weird on the floor, and the next thing he knows, he’s crashing back to the white tiles and there are two medics around him. Their hands go right through him, and he can’t process that, either, so he doesn’t.
He drifts, eye open but more or less unseeing, and only really comes back when Minato suddenly appears in front of him. He takes one look at Obito, at the medic’s hands still trying to figure out what the hell is happening, and curses loudly before vanishing again.
It takes him about thirty seconds to reappear with Fugaku at his side, and the Uchiha immediately crouches down in front of Obito.
Obito blinks sluggishly at him, wanting to ask what’s going on but seriously lacking the strength to. Before he even could try, Fugaku’s eyes flash red and then change, the sharingan pupil turning into a four-pointed star.
And then he’s out like a light.
“-lucky it gained the ability it did, or he truly would be.” Fugaku’s saying when Obito wakes up, slow and exhausted.
He’s so tired his eye aches before he can even open it, and so does the rest of his miserable body. He feels like he’d gotten on the bad side of a pissed off meat grinder.
“Was Mikoto-san able to find anything?” Minato, Obito recognizes after a moment.
“Nothing concrete, no. Often times the initial awakening can be very different from the ability when it’s used later on. The emotion makes it more intense, is the reigning theory.” Fugaku shares, sounding weirdly relaxed for the guy who spends most of his time glaring, scowling, and yelling at his coworkers and subordinates.
Obito opens his eye, blinks once, and groans plaintively at the miserable ache in his everything.
“The dulcet tones of someone who’s just been through hell.” Minato says dryly, and then steps into Obito’s line of sight.
“The hell happened?” Obito croaks, and god, he sounds as miserable as he feels.
Minato’s hands twitch in his signature ‘I want to touch but shouldn’t’ motion, and Obito blinks in confusion at that. It’s been years since he had the no-touching rule. “Let me preface with this so you don’t remember on your own and panic: Kakashi is going to make a full recovery.”
It takes him a moment to follow the trail of his latest memories, from the snake and his coffee table to-
“Fuck.” Obito groans, arm jerking up to grab at the bed railing. He might’ve considered sitting up or something, but even just the slightest move has him inflicting a white-knuckled death grip on the poor railing. “What the hell happened to me?” Obito moans pathetically, because holy hell that’s a lot of pain. And he had his arm, thigh, and half his chest chopped off in one go, thank you very much.
...Okay, yeah, this had nothing on that, but it still sucked hardcore.
Minato’s expression twists in dark fury, and it’s quite possibly the scariest thing he has ever seen, because he’s never actually seen Minato not control his expression. But right now, he’s struggling to, and that’s pretty alarming. “Sensei?” Obito asks worriedly and the man reaches up to pinch the bridge of his nose, exhaling slowly.
“Orochimaru betrayed us, Obito.” Minato says finally, shifting his hand and massaging the space between his eyebrows. “He kidnapped you a week ago.”
“A week ago?”
“He had you for five days. The last two, you’ve been here.” Minato lowers his hand and slowly releases another breath. “The reason you’re in so much pain is because he… took samples .” Minato says darkly, and elaborates before Obito’s imagination can run too far. “Biopsies of your everything, really. Your bone marrow, the cartilage in your joints, your arm, your eye, every organ. Even took quite a bit of skin off your back - you almost bled out on the hospital floor before I got Fugaku to you.” Minato shakes his head. “Virtually the only thing he didn’t touch was your brain.”
Fuck, no wonder everything hurt.
“Shit.” Shit, shit, shit that wasn't good, and he looks up at Minato with a wide, frantic eye. “Did you get them? The samples, did you-”
Minato shakes his head before he can even finish, and Obito pales, dropping his head back to his pillow. “It’s not good, but-”
“No, you don’t-” understand, Obito cuts himself off before he can, and crap, he must be on some painkillers because he totally just gave himself away. Obito bites hard on his lip, trying to ignore Minato’s suddenly intense stare.
“...Fugaku-sama, could you give us a few minutes alone?” Minato asks and Obito winces because he’d forgotten his Clan Leader was in the room.
“Of course, Hokage-sama.” Fugaku agrees, pushing himself to his feet and Obito decides he can forgive himself. The quiet man had been fairly far to Obito’s left side, which meant he was in his blind spot, so it was excusable to have forgotten him.
The man quietly closes the door behind him and Minato wastes no time in commanding, “Speak.”
Damn it. He uses his Hokage voice and everything. “It’s bad, sensei.” Obito says apologetically. “I didn’t say anything because by the time it started happening, I was on the front, and I couldn’t even get to a medic-nin in the know until I got home again, and by then I’d already figured it out and I thought- I thought it’d be best, y’know? To keep something like this hidden?” Obito offers shakily, and it’s pretty much the truth.
It hadn’t been until he really started using chakra again, which was when he was on the frontlines with Kakashi and Rin, that the sensation in his arm and side changed. And it changed, in a not very pleasant way.
Well, now that he’d gotten used to it, it wasn’t so bad - but it had been seriously distracting at first. His arm had tingled worse and worse, and then when he’d use chakra, it would feel…
It’d feel like his arm was trying to go off and do it’s own thing, and Obito had to fight against it to get it to do what he wanted.
It was irritating as hell in the beginning, and one time he was too slow to catch it and his arm started to sprout little saplings, and then he understood.
Damn Hashirama cells.
Obito clears his throat, tries to look at Minato, then decides it’s better to just stare at the ceiling. “I might possibly have a slight capability of maybe using my right arm to potentially use Mokuton jutsus.”
There. He did it. He said it out loud.
Minato sits down. “What.”
“A little bit of an ability. A small hint of a kekkei genkai.”
“Oh my god.” Minato covers his face with his hands.