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How To Survive The Weirdest Experience Of Your Life

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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.”

That…

...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…

Well.

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.

Somehow.

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.

Totally.

...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.

Subtle.

“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.”

...Well, shit.

“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.

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.”

What?

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.

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.

Kind of.

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…

Well.

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.

Go team.

Minato sits down. “What.”

“A little bit of an ability. A small hint of a kekkei genkai.”

“The Mokuton.”

“Presumably.”

“Oh my god.” Minato covers his face with his hands.

Chapter Text


 

Surprisingly enough, the whole Mokuton revelation doesn’t actually change anything.

At least, not on Obito’s end.

He’s pretty sure it’s giving Minato grey hairs dealing with the fact that Orochimaru has access to that kind of science, though. “Apparently it’s even worse than you think. We already found out from his lab that he’s got access to Mokuton from a source other than yourself.” Minato had muttered, and Obito could see the stress lines forming.

But it doesn’t change Obito’s life like he’d feared it would. He’s not forced back into the shinobi lifestyle. He’s not turned into Konoha’s newest S-Rank ‘secret’ (ANBU were really just a bunch of highly paid gossips, honestly), or forced to undergo experiments or anything like that. They don’t even test him to see how much he can do with his bastardized Mokuton.

In fact, Minato’s method of handling the news is…

Well, it’s unique.

In that they literally pretend nothing ever happened.

Officially and unofficially, Obito doesn’t know jack shit about the Mokuton and if anyone asks, he’s going to pretend he actually doesn’t even know what it is.

If anyone asks Minato, he’s going to suddenly become entirely too engrossed in his fascinating paperwork to listen to a damn thing anyone’s saying at him until they go away.

All in all, through the unstoppable power of denial, Obito’s totally normal.

Except for the alien arm thing. The totally not kekkei genkei granting alien arm, nope.

“I am so lucky I spent so long in therapy.” Obito confides in Kakashi some weeks later, when they’re both released from the hospital (prison) and are feeling well enough to actually go out and meet for dinner.

Kakashi gives him a judgey, arched eyebrow for that.

“I’m actually coping pretty okay after the whole kidnapped-from-my-own-home-and-thoroughly-experimented-on thing.” Obito explains, snatching a particularly charred piece of barbeque before Kakashi can get any ideas about it.

He actually likes the charred pieces. Kakashi just eats them to be a little bastard.

“Perhaps it’s just delayed and it hasn’t sunk in yet how completely useless you are.” Kakashi says idly.

Obito tilts his head to the side and studies him intently.

“...What?” Kakashi asks after a few, uncomfortable moments.

“I’m trying to picture what you’ll look like after I use these chopsticks to fuck up your remaining eye.” Obito explains calmly.

“If you blind me, I won’t be able to save you the next time you get captured like one of those girls in Jiraiya-sama’s books.” Kakashi points out blithely.

Obito twitches hard and struggles against the desire to actually use the chopsticks to-

He pauses.

“...What.” Obito demands flatly, looking at Kakashi in dawning horror, and the boy’s eye widens as he suddenly realizes the same thing Obito has. Just exactly what it was Kakashi just said to him. “Oh my god.” He breathes out, eye wide.

“Shut up.” Kakashi hisses, slamming both hands onto the table and leaning forward like a super intimidating fifteen year old.

“OH MY GOD!” Obito half-screams, and the restaurant falls uncomfortably silent around them. “WHAT DID JIRAIYA DO TO YOU, KAKASHI?!” Obito shrieks, leaping to his feet and lunging at the boy, fully intending to grab him by his shoulders and search him for any damage.

Kakashi dodges. He flings himself away so violently that the table flips over, and Obito nimbly leaps over it to chase the white-haired teen out of the restaurant. “GET BACK HERE AND TELL ME HOW HARD I NEED TO KICK HIS ASS!” Obito howls, following the teen as fast as he possibly can.

Later on, when Obito’s finished crying for his innocence and checking the teen for any trauma, when Kakashi’s done thoroughly kicking his ass (he’s small and scrappy, damn it), Obito will sheepishly return to the restaurant and suffer an incredibly awkward conversation with the owner.

He’ll also be out ten thousand ryo, but that’s alright.

He beats compensation out of Jiraiya a couple weeks later.

 


 

 

Obito’s twenty, and he has the cutest godson a guy could ever ask for.

Usually.

“Tobi!” Naruto squeals out his first word gleefully, and the blood drains from Obito’s face.

“No, oh god- no, Naruto, please don’t say that.” Obito hisses, grabbing his adorable godson’s chubby hands and looking at him pleadingly. He risks a quick glance over his shoulder, but no one’s coming storming over to the nursery, so he has time.

Time to beg his one-and-a-half year old godson to shut up.

“Don’t you dare. If you love me, don’t say that again.”

“Tooobi!” Naruto sings, innocent and overjoyed.

Obito’s touched, he really is.

The kid got his name wrong, but he’s still touched, because hello, that’s his first word and it’s a variation of his name!

On the other hand.

“If you don’t stop your mother is going to kill me right in front of you.” Obito hisses urgently.

This was a mistake.

Naruto might not have a grasp for human language yet, but the toddler had zeroed in on the pleading tone and did exactly as he was born to do.

Act like a complete bastard about it.

“TOBI!” Naruto shrieks happily.

Fuck. “I knew I shouldn’t have let you meet Kakashi. How’d he corrupt you so fast?” Obito wonders distractedly, quickly depositing Naruto into his crib.

“TOBI, TOBI!” Naruto hollers utterly gleefully, grabbing his favorite toy to offer it to his favorite person.

By then, Kushina’s kicking in the nursery door, her hair waving wildly and her eyes wide and furious, and Obito’s thrown himself full force out the window. “Obito! You little bastard!” Kushina shouts out the window and Obito doesn’t stick around to hear the rest. “I raise this baby and you couldn’t even let me be his first word?! I’m going to KICK YOUR ASS!” Kushina shrieks.

Obito retreats to the best place he can: Rin’s house.

“What did you do?” Rin demands the second she opens the door, long-suffering already, and Obito shoots her a wide-eyed, harried look.

“I genuinely didn’t do anything, it’s not my fault. Naruto is an evil, evil child who’s already devising clever ways to murder people.” Obito says anxiously.

After a moment, his own words hit him and his anxiety bleeds away into god fatherly pride. “He’s going to be a great shinobi one day.”

Rin rolls her eyes and closes the door behind him. “Alright, but really, what happened?”

“Naruto loudly and cheerfully yelled my name as his first word.” Obito explains and Rin winces.

“Oh, ouch. Kushina’s going to be furious. She spends all this time taking care of him, and anytime he does something new, it’s with someone else.” Rin sighs in amused sympathy.

Naruto had crawled for the first time towards Kakashi. Then he’d walked for the first time towards Minato. But put him in a room alone with Kushina?

Apparently he does nothing to try and impress her.

“On one hand, I feel bad for her, because she is his mom and she does take care of him. On the other hand, I’ve never seen someone act so betrayed by a sixteen month old before.” Obito considers and Rin offers a small hum of agreement, leading him into her kitchen. He leans back against her counter while she puts on a pot of water.

“Really, it’s just surprising it’s taken him this long to talk, considering how his mom is.”

“Probably explains it, actually.” Obito counters. “With how much she talks, it probably never occured to him to try and respond.”

It startles a bright little laugh out of Rin, and not for the first time, Obito feels a little like his insides have turned to goo. He looks sideways at her and can’t help the warm smile that pulls at his lips, watching her lean over the teapot and smile softly herself.

Sometimes he wonders if he’ll ever love someone half as much as he loves her.

He reaches up and scratches lightly at his scars. “Did you hear about Tsunade-hime?” He asks curiously and Rin blinks up at him, startled.

“No. What about her?”

“Jiraiya ran into her on his way here the last time he visited. Said she’s sobered up seemed actually willing to come back to Konoha for once.” Obito explains, then folds his arms across his chest and leans further against the counter, arching an eyebrow at Rin. “Apparently, a few years ago she ran into a weird, pink haired girl, who lured her into the forest and then up and vanished.”

Rin’s smile vanishes, her brows pulling together worriedly.

“Jiraiya seemed pretty disturbed when he talked to sensei about it, but neither of them would tell me what exactly happened. Whatever it was, it got Tsunade-hime to get her shit together. Supposedly she’s been working with her apprentice to overcome her phobia.”

“Wow.” Rin says, her eyebrows rising, and then falling again in deep contemplation. “You think she’s going to come here?”

“Jiraiya says she probably will eventually.” Obito shrugs lightly. “I thought I’d give you a heads up, since you’ve basically overthrown the entire hospital staff.”

Rin immediately gives a disdainful sniff and tosses her hair back. “It’s their own fault for needing to be overthrown. You should have seen the state of the ORs, Obito, you should have seen.” Rin hisses at the same time the teapot does, and she carefully removes it from the flame and starts to finish up the tea.

“Honestly, you’ve described it so many times, so thoroughly, that I pretty much have seen them.” Obito muses.

“It was worse in person, I assure you.” Rin huffs. “Anyways, I think I know what you’re getting at, and no - I won’t mind her taking the hospital over.” Rin says, then pauses to pass him a tea cup. She perches across from him on the little island, cradling her own cup and frowning. “Well, I might. I’m sure she’ll make even more changes, and some of them might undermine mine, which would really irritate me.”

“It’d irritate me too. It will irritate me too, actually.” Obito says sympathetically and Rin makes a quiet sound of agreement, staring thoughtfully at her tea for several seconds.

“I don’t know. Sensei’s been pressing me about taking on an apprentice lately, and I guess this is probably why. Lessen my attachment to the hospital so I won’t be as irked when someone comes blowing through after abandoning us for twenty years and then acting like they know what’s best for the place.” Rin says darkly.

Obito raises his eyebrows at her, and it takes her a moment to notice and duck her head, blushing a little.

“Shut up.” She mumbles, sipping at the too-hot tea. “Great, now I’m annoyed about something I literally just imagined in my head.

“Good thing you revolutionized the mental ward. At least you know you’ll be treated well.” Obito says sagely.

“I said shut up.” Rin huffs without any heat. “Fine, fine, I’ll give this apprentice thing some consideration. I’ve heard some things about one of the academy students. He’s an orphan of Nono’s, and apparently he has some excellent chakra control and already knows some medical ninjutsu.” Rin admits thoughtfully. “I brushed it off since I’m so busy with all this damn paperwork,” Obito had noticed her table was masquerading as a pile of paper, “but maybe if she comes back and I don’t have so many responsibilities…” She trails off, brows furrowed in consideration.

“Well, for what it’s worth, I think you’d make a great sensei.” Obito offers up.

Rin blinks hard once, then shoots him a weirdly sad smile. “I think you would, too.” She says, and Obito’s mouth goes dry for a second.

He’s better, now. A lot better.

But some things still rub him the wrong way, and being a shinobi is one of them. He’s paid enough for that life - more than enough - and he’s happy to be with the police force now.

It hurts a little to think about it. He’d grown up so eager to become a shinobi, so optimistic about helping people. He wanted to become Hokage so he could help people. But Konoha has a Hokage, now, and she doesn’t need another, so he doesn’t feel too guilty about his retirement.

He’s learned the hard way that sometimes you really do need to let yourself be selfish, and if being retired means he can be happy, then he’s going to do it.

He just really wished Kakashi would at least retire from ANBU so he didn’t have to worry about the kid so much.

Obito clears his throat, belatedly remembering Rin was actually talking to him, and takes an awkward sip of his tea. It’s good tea, too. “Thanks, Rin.” He says quietly, and doesn’t say ‘fuck that, I’m happier without that creative level of jounin hell’.

She grins anyways, wry but happy for him, and he takes what he can get.

Sometimes that’s all you can do.

 


 

 

Obito’s twenty one, and Lady Luck has him on her shitlist.

It’s Hinata Hyuuga’s third birthday, and the Clan throws a party to celebrate the fact that they’ve shamelessly branded all the Branch cousins close to her in age.

...Well, it’s more complicated than that, but basically.

Almost every Branch child in the single digits of age have their foreheads freshly wrapped. Some of them are old enough to hate Hinata for it, though they do it as stealthily as they can. Some of them are too young, and have fallen for the shtick about it being something to be proud of.

Whatever his feelings on the matter are (general disgust, loathing, a healthy amount of hatred aimed at Hiashi, a sickening amount of sympathy for Hizashi and his adorable four year old son) Obito is the Uchiha Clan’s unofficially official PR guy, so he goes and hangs with ol’ White Eyes for the evening.

The birthday happens to coincide with the day the Kumogakure sends their Head Shinobi in to sign a treaty to officially end the Third Shinobi World War. (It only took three years of nothing more than petty border skirmishes for them to call it a quits.)

By some unspoken agreement, when the children’s party has long since ended and the adults’ party draws to a late close, those still sober enough scatter around the compound, just to keep an eye on things.

And thus, Obito is the unlucky bastard who stumbles on Head Asshole trying to sneak off with an unconscious Hinata over his shoulder. “What, really?” Obito groans, and then flicks on his Sharingan. He goes straight for Hinata, teleporting behind them and grabbing Hinata’s shoulder before the man can even realize he’s there. He starts to pull Hinata into his kamui and the Head Shinobi whips around, kunai shining, and Obito suddenly realizes three things.

One, this guy’s called the Head Shinobi for a reason. Two, Obito’s a complete idiot for having not thought of this fact beforehand. Three, apparently he can only use kamui on one target at a time.

He realizes all of this approximately .4 seconds before the kunai is hilt deep in his stomach and the last of Hinata’s unconscious body is pulled into kamui.

...Fuck, Obito thinks emphatically, then tries to throat-punch the Head NInja as hard as he can. The guy lurches backwards to avoid it and Obito follows him step for step, pulling out a kunai of his own, and very firmly filters out the pain screaming at the back of his mind.

The Head Shinobi ducks and twists under every one of Obito’s stabs and swipes, and Obito does the same to each of the Head Shinobi’s attacks. After a few seconds, Obito huffs out an irritated breath, goes completely intangible, walks right through the asshole, twists around, and then solidifies just in time to wrap his arm firmly around the guy’s neck. He slams his knee in the back of one of the Shinobi’s knees, taking him down to a hard kneel, and then uses his entire body weight to choke the fucker out.

He doesn’t let go until the Head Shinobi’s completely limp.

Then Obito carefully adjusts himself until he’s holding the guy’s unconscious body up by the back of his vest’s collar, carefully pulls Hinata back out of his kamui, and settles her gently on the ground.

Just in time for Hizashi to rush out of the house with a katana in hand.

“...Ah.” Hizashi says and Obito snorts in dark amusement.

“Take Hinata-sama. I’ve got a delivery for our Hokage.” Obito says grimly.

“Perhaps you should deliver yourself to the hospital first.” Hizashi says with a frown aimed at Obito’s abdomen, still holding a kunai stuffed deep into it.

“It’s on the list.” Obito assures the man as he strides over, eyeing the Head Shinobi darkly before he very gently lifts Hinata up into his arms.

“I will report this to my brother. Get yourself treated, Uchiha-san.” Hizashi says formally.

Obito huffs out another quiet breath, pain starting to trickle back in now that he’s not fighting anymore, and Obito kamui’s them away before it can fully sink in.

He reappears in Minato’s office, and thank god, the man himself is in - and looking really alarmed at his arrival. “Obit-” Minato cuts off, his eyes widening at the sight of the kunai in his student’s gut, and Obito quickly bows his head to the man.

“Hokage-sama,” He begins formally, because he hasn’t been a civilian long enough to forget proper procedure. “I have foiled an attempted kidnapping at this hands of this man. He broke into the Hyuuga Compound and I caught him carrying an unconscious Hinata Hyuuga out of her home. Then he stabbed me when I successfully liberated her from his grasp and I made the executive decision to choke a bitch.”

Okay, maybe he’s a little rusty at this thing, but whatever. It’s not like he’s getting paid anymore.

Minato grimly nods and lifts a hand, flicking his index and middle finger. Two ANBU immediately shunshin to Obito’s side, grabbing either arm of the unconscious Head Douche. “Take him to T&I. No Yamanaka’s yet.” Minato commands and they shunshin away just as suddenly. Minato immediately crouches down in front of Obito, worry crumpling his expression. “Can you get to the hospital?” He asks urgently and Obito nods, too damn tired to do much else.

Seriously.

Why couldn’t peace ever be easy?

He silently kamui’s into the hospital lobby and lets Rin flip out and rush him into surgery.

Obito just really, really hopes he didn’t just help start another war, justified or not.

 


 

“Well, the good news is, you didn’t kill him.” Minato offers a week later when Obito’s been released from the hospital and they’re all - all of them, even Kakashi who hasn’t been home in like four months - in his home.

“Head Dickbag would’ve deserved it.” Obito informs the world at large, bouncing Naruto gently on one knee. Kushina whaps him (lightly) on the back of his head.

“Language.” She scolds, and Obito can only shoot her a completely incredulous look that she doesn’t even notice, already turned around to start picking up their dishes. Obito turns his incredulous look on Minato instead, who just shrugs and makes the universal face for ‘eh, just go with it’. Like that woman didn’t cuss five time more often than anyone else did.

“Bad news is, I just gave Inoichi a free pass to do whatever.” Minato says with a small frown.

“Is that wise?” Rin asks uncertainly, keeping an eye on Obito as he continues to bounce a giggling Naruto.

“Well.” Minato starts, a little uncertainly. “It’s frankly a lose-lose situation right now. Either we let the guy go and look weak to Kumo, which guarantees another attempt at one of our kekkei genkais, or we take what information we want from our captive.” Minato sighs heavily, rubbing at his forehead, and Kushina silently sits down next to him, tucking her head against his shoulder. He wraps his arm around her shoulders to pull her close, relaxing against her. “We’re risking war, yes. Technically, Kumo very blatantly violated our terms first. No other country is going to question that we’re completely within the right here.”

“But that doesn’t help when we’re going to war.” Kakashi concludes darkly and Minato nods once.

“Exactly. We’re still pissing off Kumo, and they’re the ones itching to fight some more. We’ll get whatever information this guy has, and depending on what that information is, we’ll either release him and let Kumo know exactly how much we know. In theory, that’ll be a pretty effective deterrent. But if the information leads to… worse implications, then…” Minato trails off, pressing his lips together tightly, and he looks sideways at Naruto for several seconds. “I have a plan for that, but it’s nothing pleasant.”

“How unpleasant are we talking?” Obito asks cautiously, catching Naruto’s hands when the three year old tries to slam them against his bandaged gut. Obito distracts him by wiggling his arms around wildly, making the toddler giggle gleefully and struggle against his hold.

“I’ll take a team to the Kumo border, deposit the Head Shinobi - alive or dead - at Kumo’s feet, and if they try to do anything, I’ll kill all but one of them and send them home with a very poignant message against trying to steal our three year old children.” Minato informs them in a perfectly calm tone of voice.

For a second, Obito’s having flashbacks of a certain pink-haired psychopath.

“...Uh.” Rin starts, seems completely at a loss, and then just falls helplessly silent.

“Like I said. Nothing pleasant.” Minato says grimly. “But if it’s brief brutality versus war, I will pick the brutality.”

“Well, it’ll certainly send a powerful message.” Kakashi allows, but Obito can tell he’s a little uneasy, too.

“Damn, sensei. If this is how you are now that you’re a dad, I hope no one ever looks at Naruto funny.” Obito huffs.

His attempt at making things a little lighter fails, because Minato looks at Naruto tensely.

“It’s not just him, Obito.” He says quietly. “Every one of my villagers are my responsibility now, just as much as Naruto is. Hinata isn’t the three year old daughter of Hiashi Hyuuga - she’s the three year old daughter of Konoha, and I will defend her just as fiercely as I’d defend my own child.” Minato says, then pauses for a moment to exhale slowly through his nose. “And I’ve defended you the same.”

...Suddenly, Obito’s wondering how many abdominal wounds their Head Dumbass has acquired since joining T&I.

“Uh. Thanks, sensei. I mean, it’s kind of violent, but we are shinobi.” Obito says, then pauses. “You are shinobi.”

“Oh, please.” Kushina snorts, rolling her eyes. “You’re a shinobi too, Obito, you proved that and more last week. You just aren’t active duty anymore.”

True enough. “Hey, that reminds me, Kakashi - want to spar when I’m cleared?” Obito asks, then glances curiously at Rin.

“I’ve seen how you two spar. Wait a week.” Rin instructs firmly and Obito nods, looking back at Kakashi.

Four days it is, then.

“Sure. Any particular reason?” Kakashi asks in that weird, lazy way he’s starting to get worse and worse about.

“I discovered a limitation with my kamui during my fight.” Obito explains, clearing his throat when suddenly everyone’s staring at him. “I think I can only use kamui on one target at a time. It’s why I got stabbed - a stupid oversight on my part.” Obito confesses with a wince. “I was grabbing Hinata with my kamui and tried to make my stomach intangible at the same time. Man did I fuck up.”

“Fuck!” Naruto echoes brightly.

Oh, god, Obito thinks in horror, the blood draining from his face violently fast.

Too fast.

He almost passes out, but Rin quickly slams a hand to the back of his neck and does something that makes him feel a little less like he’s dying.

“Oh my god, Obito, I’m not going to kick your ass when you’re already so beat up.” Kushina huffs, having apparently gotten to her feet, because she’s silently yanking Naruto out of his lap and carting the giggling toddler back to the sofa. She sits down and curls into Minato again, settling Naruto on their laps, and only then notices the incredulous stares everyone is sending her. “...Okay, I totally would, but not when you’ve only just gotten out of the hospital!” Kushina says defensively. “Even I have some standards.”

“Oh, clearly.” Kakashi agrees dryly.

“Watch it, whitey, I’ll put you in the hospital.” Kushina warns.

Obito grins a little to himself, still a bit too dizzy, and allows himself a moment to relish the sensation of Rin’s hand against his neck.

 


 

Kumogakure reluctantly backs down. Whatever Inoichi’s interrogation revealed, Minato keeps it close to his vest, and he personally escorts the Head Shinobi to the Kumo border.

Whatever happens, Minato returns looking confident but tired, and there’s no war on the horizon.

Tensions are still incredibly high, though - enough so that, for the moment, no genin are taking any missions that would take them too close to the north-eastern border.

“You’ve been doing good work, Obito.” Fugaku tells him one day when they’re switching out for the night shift. Obito looks at him in startled confusion and Fugaku frowns softly. “Tensions between us and the Hyuuga’s have always been exceptionally high. That won't change overnight, but your actions have… eased it, somewhat.”

“Oh. Thanks.” Obito says, more than a little uncertainly, because he has no real idea how to respond to that.

“Hn.” Is Fugaku’s response, which Obito’s much more comfortable responding to.

“Aa.” Obito says sagely in Uchiha-speak.

Fugaku nods curtly, then walks away.

 

Nailed it.

 


 

Obito’s twenty two, and life is peaceful.

It feels really weird.

There are days, still, when he wakes up and has no idea how any of it is real. How he can be in Konoha, alive, healthy. How he can be okay with having a quarter of his body made up of weird alien goo stuff. How he doesn’t feel like throwing up every time he gets out of the shower and sees the way his left eyelids sink in, and the scars on his face. How he can go to work every day and be happy.

There are days when he wakes up and none of it feels real at all - but for the most part, overall, Obito’s at peace, and it’s the weirdest damn thing.

“I can’t believe you took an apprentice.” Obito says in wonder, eyeing the twelve year old boy, who eyes him right back.

“I’m right here.” Said apprentice says.

Obito looks at Rin incredulously. “He’s tiny.”

“Kabuto’s twelve.” Rin huffs, scowling at him. “And you’re the one who told me I’d be good at it.”

“You’re the one who told me you had no time for one. Last I checked, you’re only more overwhelmed.”

“That’s because no one else is competent!” Rin snaps, folding her arms across her chest. “It’s just a trial run right now. Besides, sensei thinks Tsunade’s going to come around any day now. I just wish she’d hurry up so I could have someone with two braincells around.”

“I’m offended.” Obito informs her curtly.

Twelve year old tiny nin mutters something under his breath and Obito snaps his head around to squint at the kid, making him instantly blush and look at his feet.

Haha! He’s the adult now.

“I get enough of this harassment from Kakashi, you know.” Rin frowns at Obito, who looks away from tiny-medic to look at her questioningly. “He’s constantly needling me about how much work I do and telling me I need to be less controlling. Kakashi, Obito. KAKASHI is telling me to be less controlling.” Rin emphasises, her offense reaching new levels.

“Yeah, so, hey, I gotta go do a thing for a guy over there somewhere.” Obito says casually and then kamui’s away.

Yeah.

All in all, life’s pretty a-okay.

 


 

 

Then he’s twenty-four and things get weird.

Mini-Minato turns six and officially starts at the academy.

He is, in Obito’s opinion, dumb as a box of rocks.

“He’s just scatterbrained.” Kushina says defensively. The problem is that she says that without any prompting at all, which is basically an admission in itself. Her child is, in a word, a moron.

He’s cute, though.

Then after two months, Obito picks him up from the academy so Kushina can have some ‘girl time’ with Mikoto, and things… well.

Like he said.

Things get weird.

“Sakura-chan is soooo cute, Tobi-nii.” Naruto says brightly, because somehow he never managed to shake that nickname out of the goofy child.

The name automatically makes his insides cringe a little bit. “Oh? Who’s Sakura-chan?” Obito asks curiously, swinging the kid up onto his back to give him a piggyback ride.

“That one, Tobi-nii! With the pink hair. Isn’t she pretty ?” Naruto sighs happily and Obito follows his pointed finger.

Pink hair.

Cotton fucking candy pink, to be exact, and even from the distance, Obito can see the bright green of her eyes.

For a second, all he can do is stand there and stare blankly as a blonde woman takes Sakura’s hand and leads her away.

Sakura.

 

Sakura.

 

“Tobi-nii?” Naruto asks anxiously.

He… doesn’t really know what to do.

So he just kind of kamui’s them to Minato’s office, gently sets the kid down, ignores Minato talking at him, and kamui’s home.

Then he sits down at the side of his bed, tilts his head back against the mattress, and stares at the spinning ceiling fan.

What the fuck?

What the fuck.

He-

There was no doubt that was her. The eyes, the damn hair, that was her, the psychotic crazy bitch who basically murdered him and-

And what the fuck, she was six years old?

What the fuck.

He… he never met any of the others, not even the one who stabbed him, really. He never read their articles in the bingo book, either. But he’d asked, about the man that’d been there. That had stabbed him.

He’d asked, and Minato had told him.

‘Sasuke,’ he’d said. ‘We suspect he’s an Uchiha, or at least has a transplanted Sharingan.’

Sasuke Uchiha, who happened to also be six years old and starting this year. Sakura, who was in the same class as Naruto.

As Naruto, who shared the name with another one of their team.

Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura, the mysterious trio renowned for their terrifying teamwork on top of their already terrifying power.

“Fuck.” Obito breathes out shakily, squeezing his eye shut.

How had he never noticed? Sure, he never met that Naruto, but his Naruto - that wasn’t exactly a common name, and Sasuke Uchiha certainly wasn’t either. And that Naruto, his name has been Uzumaki, if Obito remembered right. Kushina’s name.

Kushina’s god damned son.

What the fuck.

 

Later, Obito won’t be able to say how long he sat there.

All he knows is that, eventually, something other than ‘what the fuck’ breaks through his mind.

“-48 in the evening. You’re in your apartment just outside the Nara Compound in Konoha. It’s Thursday at 5:48 in the evening.” Kakashi’s saying, low and monotonous.

He’s in a bad way, Obito realizes very, very, very belatedly. For a second, all he can do is blink up at the ceiling, and until that moment he hadn’t even really realized his eyes were open to begin with.

“You’re in your apartment just outside the Nara Compound in Konoha. It’s Thursday at 5:...49 in the evening.”

Obito swallows hard and rolls his head to the side, just enough to see Kakashi leaning in the doorway, watching him with a narrowed eye. He pauses immediately, squinting hard at Obito.

“You there?” He asks mildly.

For a second, all he can do is swallow roughly again. He feels like his entire body - brain included - is trying to work through sludge. “Yeah.” Obito eventually manages in a low, strained croak.

Kakashi slowly and carefully creeps into the room, kneeling down in front of Obito. “I thought you stopped that.” He says quietly, and for a second Obito thinks he means the… PTSD or whatever.

But then Kakashi reaches out and grabs Obito’s hand, and he belatedly realizes just how much it hurts.

Damn.

He’d been squeezing a kunai again, apparently, and there’s blood all over his carpet.

Again.

“Thought I did too.” Obito mutters bitterly. Once upon a time, when he’d first started having his episodes, the pain of rhythmically clenching his hand around a kunai would snap him out of his… daze, or whatever. Now, not so much. Kakashi glances up at him for a moment, eye heavy lidded and unreadable, and then he looks back down at Obito’s hand.

“I’ll be right back.” Kakashi says softly and stands back up.

Obito drops his head back to stare up at the ceiling, feeling the sudden, overwhelming urge to cry. His eye burns furiously for a moment before he squeezes it shut again.

“I’m back.” Kakashi announces a few seconds later, which is good, because Obito hadn’t heard him and a second mental breakdown in six hours would be an extra shitty end to that three year streak he’d had going on.

Obito doesn’t open his eye. He’s exhausted, through and through, and all he can do is let Kakashi maneuver his limp hand around as he treats it. Kakashi does it all in silence.

He doesn’t bother asking stupid questions. If Obito wanted to talk about what happened, he would. If he thought he needed to tell someone about it, he would as well.

Plus at the moment he’s not entirely sure he's physically capable of explaining shit.

“Sensei’s coming by soon. Is that alright?” Kakashi asks mildly, like it’s just another Thursday.

Like his best friend isn’t a complete fucking wreck.

The thought makes his throat ache painfully, and the first tear breaks free without him even noticing it. Kakashi doesn’t make a damn sound, and that almost makes it worse, because Obito can’t tell how much he’s judging him for this.

But it doesn’t matter, because there’s no stopping them now that they’ve started, and he can’t even lift his damn hand to cover his face. He’s too exhausted, so all he can do is sit there, collapsed against his bed, and let the stupid tears slowly creep down the scarred half of his face.

Kakashi silently finishes wrapping his hand, tying the bandages in place.

He doesn’t hug Obito. He doesn’t say anything.

But he does brush the bloody, discarded kunai away and sit down next to him, inching over until their shoulders and legs are pressed together.

From Kakashi, that’s a hell of a lot.

 


 

 

It takes him a full day of drifting, Kakashi hovering the entire time with random appearances from worried Minato’s and Rin’s, and another full day of recovering to get his mind around this-…

This-… crazy bullshit that is his life.

Okay. Deep breaths.

So Sakura, Sasuke, and Naruto became time travellers, for reasons unknown.

Fuck it. Obito’s got the god damned Mokuton via freaky alien goo. Weird shit is his life, so Obito decides to just roll with it.

Of course, it isn’t that easy, so he also mostly avoids the hell out of Sasuke and Sakura for a while. Anytime Fugaku’s family visits at the station, Obito suddenly finds himself urgently needed elsewhere. Anytime Naruto needs someone to pick him up at the academy, he deflects the responsibility to Kakashi or Rin.

He knows it hurts Naruto, but he just had his first ‘episode’ in years and he needs a bit more time before he can consider himself okay again.

He can’t pretend to shake it off, either. The feeling of moving through sludge doesn’t fully leave him, not for a while, and it’s exhausting getting up and working every day. By the time he gets home, he usually collapses on the sofa and stares at the ceiling until he eventually falls asleep.

Unless, of course, Kakashi’s around.

In which case the silver-haired asshole drags Obito off to ‘spar’.

Frankly, at this point in his life, Obito’s forced to admit that Kakashi kicks his ass.

“I hate you.” Obito mutters emptily from the soft, grassy ground. After he’s hit it for the thirtieth time.

“Somehow I think we’ll both survive.” Kakashi drawls blandly, stepping up to hover over him obnoxiously.

“Kakashi.” Obito says as seriously as he can muster, and the twenty-year old (jeez, he’s an adult, and it makes Obito feel old because that little bastard used to be five and he remembers that), arches his eyebrow in that damn judgey way of his. “You need to sit down.”

“Actually, the opposite, all the way around. You need to stand up.” Kakashi ‘corrects’ him.

Obito responds by lunging for his ankle. Kakashi nimbly jumps away like the monkey bastard he is. “I hate you.” Obito groans, his efforts awarding him nothing but a possibly strained back muscle. “I feel so old.”

“You act old, Obito.” Kakashi huffs, dropping back down and crouching low so he can lecture Obito extra closely this time. “Any time you get lagged down, you go with it. You let it lag you down. Do you really think I never get weighed down like that? Do you ever see me lay there and take it?” Kakashi demands, arching his stupid eyebrow again.

He really hates that damn eyebrow.

“I killed a five year old girl last month.” Kakashi informs him, completely calm and dead serious, and Obito’s eye snaps to him, wide and alarmed. “It was my last mission. I was given two weeks off to ‘cope’. Then I asked for an extra two because you weren’t ready for me to go on another mission.”

“That- That’s not fair, Kakashi, you can’t hold yourself back because of me,” Obito protests immediately, forcing himself to sit up. Ouch, there’d been a rock shoved in his ribs and he’s only feeling it now that he’s off of it.

“You’re my friend. It’s for a good cause.” Kakashi counters dryly, sweeping on before he can press. “You had Madara himself and his alien minions fucking with your head for a year straight, and then your ‘saviors’ came in the form of two psychopaths who fucked your head up even further.” Kakashi informs Obito, and then stares at him for a long moment.

“...Believe it or not, I’m actually aware of this fact.” Obito says slowly.

“Uh-huh. And you’re also aware that you will never be a hundred percent again?” Kakashi asks.

Obito blinks at him, frowning in utter confusion. “Obviously, Kakashi, or I wouldn’t have retired. My sanity’s fucked enough without me going around… killing five year olds, apparently.” He offers a tiny, apologetic wince at that, but it’s not wrong, so Kakashi just shrugs.

“Then don’t argue with me about it, because I’m well aware of it, too. Which is why I have days saved for when that happens, like it just did.” Kakashi says mildly. “Now, get up. You diverted me from my point, which was to stop letting the mentality drag you down physically.” Kakashi says, pushing himself to his feet and then staring down at him with a frown.

Obito stares back up at him, defiant for a long moment. “...Oh, god damn it.” Obito groans and forces himself to his feet. “Alright, fine, but if we’re doing this, I’m using-” Kakashi swings at his head and Obito kamui’s his fist harmlessly through him.

Kakashi’s eyebrow shows itself again, and Obito twitches with the urge to commit violence.

...Oh, what the hell.

“I’m going to RIP THAT EYEBROW OFF, KAKASHI!” Obito screams and charges.

 


 

 

“Itachi’s been offered an ANBU position.” Kakashi tells Obito and Rin a few weeks later, when he’s mostly back to normal again.

Well. His normal, Obito supposes. Probably wouldn’t match up with the definition of normal from any well adjusted human ever, but whatever. They can be stuck with Madara for a year and tell him how it feels.

“What, really?” Rin asks incredulously and Kakashi can only offer a small shrug, picking at his dinner without actually trying to eat any of it - yet. The little creeper has a tendency to wait until no one’s looking and then vacuum it all up in seconds.

It can’t possibly be good for his stomach.

“Isn’t he like ten?” Rin adds and Obito shakes his head, pausing the conversation until he can swallow the stupid shrimp he’d bitten into at an inconvenient time.

“Just turned eleven.” Obito corrects belatedly. “And very gentle. It always funny having him visit at the station, because he walks around and subtly reminds everyone that he’s a giant pacifist while Fugaku slowly gets redder and redder in the face.” Obito explains thoughtfully, remembering the last time he’d visited. It had actually been a couple of months, ever since Itachi was made Chuunin. “Last time he and I actually had a pretty interesting debate over the merits of kunai versus shuriken when attempting to deal the least amount of damage on your target.”

There’s a moment when both Kakashi and Rin stare at him strangely.

“...Kunai wins, if you were wondering.”

“But the blades on shuriken are narrower and shallower. A kunai would go three inches into whatever it hits.” Rin argues instantly.

“True, but if you’re aiming to do the least amount of harm, you wouldn’t aim for their body - you’d aim for loose clothing to pin it to something. Thus, kunai. Easier to aim like that, pins deeper, and kunai are scarier looking as well, so if you’re after a civvie, they’re more likely to give up the second they see a kunai sticking the collar of their shirt to a tree.” Because that would be literally a centimeter from their neck, if you didn’t catch that.

“...Anyways.” Kakashi drawls slowly, while Rin looks stuck between arguing further are just being mad that Obito had won the argument so quickly. “Minato-sensei had no choice but to offer it to Itachi.”

“Why not?” Rin asks after a moment, shooting Obito one last, squinty-eyed look before turning her attention to Kakashi.

“ANBU can ask for whoever they want. Unless the Hokage has a genuine reason to think the shinobi can’t do it - either for weak mentality, lack of morals, or they don’t believe they can be trusted with the kind of secrets we have to keep - then he has to pass on that recruitment offer.”  Kakashi says, shrugging and then reaching up to pull his mask down. “Itachi’s a pacifist, but that’s never even slowed him down. He definitely doesn’t have a weak mentality, and he most certainly can be trusted with secrets.” He adds, not seeming to notice the way Obito and Rin are staring at him.

More likely, he does, and is silently judging them for it while blatantly ignoring them.

Obito watches him take a perfectly normal bite of his food and holy shit the dude has perfect teeth, what the fuck.

There’s literally no reason for him to be hiding his face, and Obito kind of feels like his mind has been blown.

“Well, I think it’s a terrible idea.” Rin says firmly, apparently recovering way faster than Obito. “And I can only guess sensei does, too, or you wouldn’t be sharing this right now.” Rin adds suspiciously and Obito blinks, then frowns at Kakashi, who-

Oh my god he frowns back and Obito can see it, and what the fuck.

They should all be very glad Kakashi covers his face, because none of them would ever get laid if he didn’t.

“Sensei wants you to, and I quote, ‘do what you can to fix this’, Obito.” Kakashi informs him dryly.

Uh. “Wait, what? Why is this my responsibility?”

“Aren’t you the Uchiha’s PR manager?” Rin points out, a hint of amusement dawning, and Obito looks sharply at her.

“It’s not my job!” He protests. “What would I even do? Frown disapprovingly and expect Fugaku Uchiha to bow down to my whim?”

For a second, Rin taps her chopsticks consideringly against her plate, and then she frowns over at Kakashi. “Alright, he has a good point.”

“I have no idea how sensei thinks you’ll do it, but he seemed very confident you’d convince Fugaku not to push Itachi into the position.” Kakashi shrugs unhelpfully, and then apparently decides to just wash his hands of the situation because he tugs his mask back up and stands. “Well. Later.” Kakashi offers a lazy wave and shunshin’s away before either of them can do more than blink at him.

“...Do you ever get the feeling we’ve become his minions?” Obito wonders.

Rin laughs softly, and crap, now his heart is goo again.

“Obito, at this point, I think you’ve pretty much just become a professional minion for hire.” She giggles.

 

He can’t even be mad at her when she’s being so cute, damn it.

 


 

Somehow, Obito finds himself sidling into Fugaku’s office the next day. “You know what I bet would reflect terribly on the Clan?” He asks casually, leaning against the doorway and looking thoughtfully out the window. Fugaku pauses mid-scribble on a sheaf of paper and looks up at him, his brow furrowing.

“Has something happened?” He asks doubtfully.

“No, no, I was just brainstorming. It occurs to me, though, that if someone were to upset one of our clan members - someone with a lot of friends in a lot of various places, for instance. If someone was to, just as an example, do something that they disapproved of, maybe in regards to a certain eleven year old, that person might be irked.” Obito says blandly, gesturing vaguely with his hand as he does. He doesn’t look at Fugaku, just continues to idly gaze out the window.

It would, he thinks, really suck to be thrown out of that…

“They might be inclined, even, to discuss the matter to those many friends of theirs. Just as an example.”

There’s a long, tense pause, and then Fugaku sets his pen down. “Just as an example.” Fugaku repeats flatly.

Obito turns and smiles at him warmly. “Just as an example. I’m sure that, knowing how bad of an idea that is, someone would try to avoid that unless it was really necessary.” Obito explains reassuringly.

Fugaku stares at him through dangerously narrowed eyes, but only a faint touch of killing intent brushes against him, so Obito figures he probably isn’t going to get chucked out that window.

“Hmph. I’m glad you’re so eager to lend a helping hand, Obito-san.” Fugaku says dryly. “I hope you enjoy a month of night shifts.”

Fuck damn it.

Obito smiles widely at the man. “I love night shifts, Fugaku-sama.”

“It’s a good thing I’ve heard how much you enjoy morning shifts, as well. You’re on those as well. Dismissed.”

Obito doesn’t let his smile go, even if he does spend the next month working non stop with only six hour long sleeps in between. The exhaustion doesn’t touch his good mood at all.

Because Itachi stays a Chuunin, and the boy hunts Obito down to give him the most sincere thank you he’s ever gotten in his life.

 


 

Except then Obito’s twenty-five, Tsunade's back, and Rin has enough free time to start dating Genma.

Genma.

“Of all people.” Obito mourns.

“He is on the Goei Shotai.” Kakashi points out boredly, flicking through one of Jiraiya’s damn books.

He’s so punching that guy again.

“But Genma.” Obito whines. “The serial datist. Why couldn’t she choose Raidō? ” He asks pathetically.

“Why, so you’d know she’d date someone with prominent scarring?” Kakashi asks with a snort, and Obito blinks up at the ceiling, feeling weirdly hurt by that implication. Was his scarring really so bad? “Besides, I’ve slept with him. Pretty sure he’s entirely gay.” Kakashi adds offhandedly.

Obito breathes in so sharply he chokes on his own spit. He jerkily sits up, hacking violently, and Kakashi stares at him with one flat, judgey eye.

WHAT?” Obito eventually manages to choke out, high-pitched and strangled.

Kakashi rolls his eye, snaps his book shut, and shunshin’s away.

 

Chapter Text

 


 

For several days, all Obito can think about are two things.

Holy shit, Kakashi’s bisexual, and apparently Obito’s the only one who didn’t know. Even Kushina looked at him like he was an idiot.

Kushina!

The other thought stuck in his head is a renewed amount of doubt about his own face. He finds himself staring at his reflection in the mirror, considering the scars.

They are prominent, and they are pretty ugly. They take up half of his face, as well - everything from the right side of his nose over. Thick, wrinkled, discolored and alternating between shiny white on the smooth parts and angry red on the undersides of the wrinkles. His lip was so bad that it had split all the way down to his chin, and hadn’t healed together properly, so there’s a small v in his bottom lip any time he speaks too emphatically...

...No, Obito couldn’t claim to be an attractive man. He was hard to look at, and that was just his face. The few times he’d taken anyone to bed over the years, he’s had to keep the room almost completely dark. One time, he didn’t even take his shirt off. No, if his face was hard to look at, his messed up patchwork body was downright impossible to stomach.

But, well.

It’s his life, now, and he’s long ago accepted that fact. It kind of hurts to have had his best friend casually point out his hideousness like that, but to be fair, that's how Kakashi is.

Even at twenty-one, he still tended to miss that he could be blatantly offensive when being as matter of fact as he was.

State fact: Obito’s face is fucky =/= I just insulted Obito.

Poor, socially inept Kakashi.

Then again, apparently being the socially well adjusted member of their team was Obito’s main purpose in life, so Rin and Kakashi apparently got free passes.

Which is what leads to Minato calling him into his office a couple weeks later.

“I’m sorry, what?” Obito asks Minato blankly.

“I want you to be our ambassador to Suna.” Minato repeats, frowning a little.

What?”

“Ambassador. It’s when you go to foreign nations to serve as a diplomatic-”

“Sensei, come on.” Obito interrupts weakly and the blonde flashes him a quick, amused smile. “I know what it means, I just… you what?”

“I. Want you. Obito Uchiha. To be an ambassador.” Minato says slowly.

“I’m retired.”

“You’re on reserve, actually.”

“I thought that was just until the end of the war?” Obito protests and gets a casual, helpless shrug in response.

“Oops, I forgot.” Minato lies shamelessly.

“I bet if I’d stayed in that cave, my life would be way simpler.” Obito says mournfully, and gets a hilarious twitch from Minato for that.

“I hate it when you joke about that.” Minato mutters, then huffs loudly and folds his arms across his chest, fixing Obito with a serious look.

“Alright, what’s really going on?” Obito asks tiredly, already resigning himself to the fact that he’s apparently now an ambassador.

Damn it.

“We’re having difficulties with Sunagakure. Their Daimyo keeps shelving missions off to us and our Daimyo keeps accepting them. I’m sending Shikaku to politely tell our Daimyo to fuck off, and I’m sending you to deliver our sincerest apologies to Rasa, explain our position on this matter, and assure him that we have no need for conflict about this. Do what you have to to fix relations between us before it gets too much worse.” Minato sighs heavily.

“Why me?”

“You’ve got experience. You’ve got the charisma. You’ve got the social expertise.”

“I have a job!”

“Fugaku owes me one. You’ll still have it when you get back.” Minato waves a hand dismissively at that.

“I don’t even know what our position on this matter is!” Obito argues desperately and Minato huffs, looking up at him with a frown.

“Obito. Our position is that we don’t need money. We don’t need extra missions. We don’t need strife between our people. We’re dealing with it on our end, and would like to extend a sincere apology for the misfortune of our Daimyo’s irritating existence.”

“I-” Obito struggles, groping for something. “I’ve never even been to Suna!” He blurts.

And, yeah. He definitely deserves the Minato version of Kakashi’s judgey eyebrow for that stupid attempt at an excuse.

“Damn it.” Obito slumps in defeat.

 


 

Suna’s not that bad.

It sucks, but it’s not that bad. It’s hotter than hell, the wind feels like you’re sticking your face in an oven, and every day Obito has to very gently wipe sand out of his scarring, but over all, it actually isn’t terrible.

“So, this might be out of line, but I’ve got to ask. Is he next on the list?” Obito asks Rasa curiously. It’s taken two weeks of effort to get the guy to warm up to him, but he’s finally extended the hand of mildly-friendly-acquaintanceship and has led Obito to some training ground. Suna’s method of handling genin teams - or maybe it’s just for those of the Kazekage clan - is to have three siblings to a team whenever possible.

And Rasa’s children’s team is impressive to say the least.

Rasa sends him a narrowed eyed look, but doesn’t immediately go for the throat, so Obito counts it as a win.

“He is being considered.” Rasa allows after a moment and Obito nods, watching Gaara effortlessly maneuver shiny black sand through the air in various strikes at their sensei.

“He’s very skilled.” Obito notes, genuinely impressed. “He’s the same age as sensei’s son, isn’t he?”

Rasa shoots him another, unreadable look at that, and gives a short nod. “He was born several months before Minato’s.” He confirms and Obito’s even more impressed at that.

“...You have scary children, Yondaime-sama.” Obito informs the man a few moments later, as Temari promptly rips the entire training ground apart with one swing of her fan. “Sensei’s kid isn’t even out of the academy yet,” Because Naruto was soon to turn eight years old and still as dumb as a box of rocks, and even less dangerous, “and yours looks like he’s close to chuunin level. Your daughter is terrifying me right now.” Obito adds the last part belatedly as Temari does the same move again and Baki barely dodges in time.

“Yes. That would be why she is the current next in line.” Rasa says, and that expression is definitely a smug, proud one.

“Yeah so, please can we not go to war?” Obito whines, and actually gets a tiny little twitch of the lips from the man.

It only lasts a moment, and then he looks troubled, and the atmosphere is grim again. Rasa watches the training continue with narrowed eyes, his lips pressed together, and Obito does the same.

“...At this point, it’s up to our Daimyo.” Rasa says grudgingly and Obito frowns.

“What possible benefit could war have for the Daimyo?” He questions and Rasa exhales softly through his nose.

“I can’t answer that. I wish I knew myself - but he resists any attempts at a diplomatic resolution. We’ve failed at every turn to convince him to cease his actions, even when it’s clear that his poor decisions are crippling his own source of defense.” Rasa shakes his head angrily. “And we can’t do anything more. In the end, he’s still our Daimyo, and that means we can’t take action against him.” He huffs out a harsh breath.

Obito pauses.

After a moment, Rasa looks at him questioningly, and Obito looks back with a sly expression he can’t quite stop from pulling at the left side of his face.

Your Daimyo, you say?” He asks innocently.

Rasa blinks very slowly at him, the cogs almost visibly turning in his head. “...Yes. Yes, I suppose it’s quite the conundrum... for those of us who have sworn loyalty to the man.”

Ohohohoho. “Perhaps we could meet for dinner tonight, Kazekage-sama, and speak more about the impressive team your children make?” Obito suggests.

Rasa lifts an eyebrow slightly, then nods once. “I see no reason not to.”

And thus, Obito has the perfect alibi, full of witnesses, when he’s later questioned.

 


 

“WHAT DID YOU DO.” Minato’s shout is more of a demand than an actual question, and Obito bites his cheek to keep from laughing.

“No idea what you mean, Minato-sensei.” Obito protests idly, leaning back in his seat and dangerously tempted to prop his feet up on Minato’s desk.

But Kushina’s there, and while the woman is looking at him in utter awe, he’s pretty sure she’d still hit him if he tried that.

“I sent you there to make friends, Obito!” Minato yells. “You were supposed to help our diplomatic relations with Suna! Not- not-” Minato struggles for a moment, and Raidō makes a soft, muffled sound in the left-back corner of the room. And that’s why Raidō’s Obito’s favorite. “Not kill their Daimyo!”

“Hey!” Obito protests, offended. “I was proven innocent! Slandered, by my own Hokage!” Obito accuses and Kushina slaps a hand over her mouth, still carefully standing behind Minato so he wouldn’t see her smothered amusement.

I know what you did! ” Minato shrieks accusingly. “You assassinated the Daimyo of a foreign country! Damn it, Obito, do you have any idea what Rasa will do if he finds-”

“Rasa and me are bros now.” Obito informs Minato matter-of-factly, cutting the man off, and for a second, Minato can only stare slack-jawed at him. “We have a secret friend code and everything, and the code is ‘gee I sure wish our Daimyo was suddenly less alive’.”

Minato makes a high-pitched strangled sound and Kushina gives up. She laughs so hard she has to sit on the floor.

In the end, Minato quietly sits down, cradles his temples with his fingers, and Kushina howls with laughter.

 


 

Obito’s twenty-seven, a highly accredited member of the Konoha Military Police Force, and he’s well known for his brief but infamous reign as Ambassador to Sunagakure.

It’s a matter of great smugness to all. (Except Minato.)

He’s also eating dinner with Minato, Kushina, nine year old (and still pretty dumb) Naruto, Rin, and Genma (hate that guy) when Lady Luck decides she’s given him enough of a break.

He’s carrying a bowl of hot soup towards the table when, suddenly, his eye socket hurts like hell. Enough so that Obito doubles forward with a gasp and jerks his hands up to clutch the horrible, stabbing thing. He doesn’t notice the bowl hitting the floor or the way the soup burns his legs. He doesn’t notice the way the others jump up in alarm and rush at him, because for a second, he’s completely taken off guard by the pain.

It takes his breath away with it’s intensity.

And then, inexplicably, he sees Orochimaru standing over him, hand extended and closing in and Obito screams. The pain takes a whole new height, and he feels it, he feels the tearing, the snapping, the-

He took his eye, Obito realizes. He doesn’t understand how he’s seeing what he is, but he understands what he’s seeing, and that- that motherfucker took my eye from him.

Pain throbs viciously through his skull, but Obito flicks his Mangekyo on and lifts his head. Minato and Rin are right there, hands reaching at him with concerned expressions, and Kushina’s standing back with Naruto half-way tucked behind her, his eyes wide in fearful alarm. But Genma - Genma’s just a few steps away, his brow furrowed in concern, and his tanto peeking out from behind his back.

Obito lunges, fury overtaking him, and the surprise of the move is evident because Genma can barely jerk back before he’s grabbed hold of the hilt.

And then he’s gone, kamui’ing straight to what he’d seen last, leaving a slightly terrified Genma standing in confusion.

When he reappears, Orochimaru’s right in front of him, leaning over a collapsed, blood-soaked Kakashi. His ANBU team lies still all around him, and Obito’s eye socket burns.

Then he punches Orochimaru with his right arm, so hard the asshole’s spine and ribs shatter. Orochimaru crumples with an echoing, wet crunch, and then-

Oh, what the fuck.

Orochimaru’s body splits open vertically and a second Orochimaru slithers out, moving so fast Obito barely goes intangible in time to avoid his weird, stretchy katana thing. Obito twists as the man goes through him, solidifying the second he’s through and stabbing at Orochimaru with the tanto. The Sannin’s body stretches to curl around the sword, laughing darkly at Obito’s efforts. His sword shoots out ot stab at Obito’s stomach but kamui sends it harmlessly passing through, and Obito takes the opportunity to stab Orochimaru’s shoulder.

The Sannin’s laughter grows and he starts to slither away, the tanto leaving a long gash in his chest as he goes, and Obito jerks to his feet to give chase. The stupid snake is fast as hell, though, so Obito teleports in front of him and stabs his face on his tanto and-

Come on, really?

Orochimaru ditches another body, literally slithering away from it like a snake, and Obito throws his right arm out - silently praying Kakashi’s unconscious so he doesn’t see this.

Roots and branches shoot out, curling up and barely catching the legs of a surprised Orochimaru, but he’s not quite fast enough, and the Sannin gets further away, and Kakashi’s eyeball (his eyeball) is in his hand, so Obito teleports again-

And discovers another limitation of his kamui, because apparently he can’t be intangible while he’s teleporting and Orochimaru’s stupid sword stabs through his ribs on his left side.

Obito punches him straight through the chest in return, and branches explode out of his hand to skewer Orochimaru’s insides like if the man had swallowed a porcupine. Obito teleports off the sword and right behind Orochimaru, punching him again, and-...

 

...“OH COME ON!”

 


 

When Obito finally returns to Konoha, he’s utterly exhausted, covered in blood, and still really pissed off. Luckily, his adopted family had done the smart thing and relocated to the hospital, where they were anxiously waiting for his arrival.

Obito reappears in a rush of blood, blood, and more blood. One hand is carrying an unconscious, one-eyed Kakashi, and the other’s carrying a… thing.

A bloody, bloody thing.

“What the fuck is that!” Kushina cries out as Rin and the hospital’s receptionist rush forward to grab Kakashi from Obito.

“Here.” Obito holds his hand out to Rin and she pales at the sight of the eyeball held inside. “It’s Kakashi’s, put it back.” Obito instructs hoarsely.

Rin swallows thickly but delicately takes the eye, then crouches over Kakashi while the receptionist sends out a code of some sort. Obito takes a deep breath and teleports into kamui, then grabs the three unconscious (but still breathing, thank god, Kakashi wouldn’t be able to handle anything else) ANBU, and reappears in the same spot with them all around.

“What happened, Obito?” Minato asks anxiously - but severely - and Obito swallows hard before he deposits the bloody mess at Minato’s feet.

“That’s for you.” Obito explains, pointing at the damn thing. A wide variety of sticks, with bright green, blood splattered leaves, stick out of the form that had been very thoroughly, very methodically pulped to an unrecognizable mess of boneless flesh. Boneless, because the bones it once had are now literal dust.

“Uh?” Minato offers blankly, staring at the slightly puddly… thing.

“It used to be Orochimaru. He really pissed me off.” Obito informs him breathlessly, then takes a step back and sinks to the floor.

Several medics rush down the hallway in response to the code, and Obito patiently waits for them to reach him before he finally lets himself pass out.

 


 

It says a lot about Orochimaru’s lifestyle that his own teammate highfives Obito within minutes of him waking up.

“I have no idea how you did what you did but god damn you did a good job at doing it.” Tsunade applauds, patting him on his shoulder. “I mean, you took a few good hits, too, but seriously. I had to identify that thing by blood alone. All of his bones were dust. The only other person who could do that would be, well, me.”

“You’re welcome.” Obito offers tiredly and hoarsely. The woman nods, absentmindedly passing him a cup of water while running a glowing hand down his chest.

“And you did it with a collapsed lung - I’m not sure if you realized. Which goes from being impressive to frankly confusing when you consider the fact that you only have approximately fifty-percent capacity in your other lung.” Tsunade adds with a considering frown. “Might be explained by the cells, somehow, though. Grandad could walk off getting half his chest blown off, after all.” Tsunade shrugs as he sips weakly at the water. “It took us twenty-one hours to do your surgery, if you were wondering. For the lung and, well, for the fact that you were almost bisected. Did you even notice that?”

“...Truthfully, no.” Obito admits and Tsunade makes a soft, amused sound, then points a finger from the edge of his right ribcage down to just below his left hip. “Oh. Huh. He did get me with that stupid sword of his near the end.” Obito remembers belatedly.

He’d had to teleport in front of Orochimaru again when the guy realized he was losing and tried really hard to get away.

“Probably thought it’d kill me.”

“Definitely would’ve killed you.” Tsunade informs him. “Luckily for you, you can teleport directly into my workplace, and I happen to be the best medic-nin in the world. Even then, it’s only because I had my apprentice and your teammate - and her apprentice, for that matter - on hand that you made it. You were pretty messed up, kid.”

“Yeah, but I fucked Orochimaru up.” Obito points out. “That’s the important thing. Kakashi’s saved, I lived, and Orochimaru’s a puddle.”

“You mashed him up like bloody, bloody potatoes.” Tsunade agrees solemnly, patting his shoulder again. “Anyways, you’re basically in tact. I’d say your lung scarring would be a bitch if you ever got sick, but, well, granddad’s cells. You probably haven’t even run a fever since getting them, have you?” She guesses knowingly and makes a small, exasperated sound when he nods. “How the hell granddad ever even managed to die is something I’ll never stop wondering.” Tsunade mutters before apparently deciding their discussion was over and abruptly walking away.

Obito doesn’t mind. He finishes up his water, too drugged out to do much else, and then passes back out.

The next time he wakes up, and irritated Kakashi is standing over him and glowering.

“Creepy bastard.” Obito accuses drowsily and Kakashi huffs, his left eye firmly swathed in bandages.

“You’re an idiot.”

“What’s it say about you that an idiot had you save your ass?” Obito wonders dryly, reaching back with his right arm - because using his left makes his side flare up with holyshitowthathurts - to stuff his pillow under his head a bit further. Once he’s settled back again, he looks up at Kakashi with a grimace. “I am in pain.” Obito informs him tiredly and the younger man huffs again, reaching out to hit something in Obito’s blindspot. Whatever it is, it beeps in response.

“There. Give it a second.” Kakashi says, then finally sits down in the chair at the bedside instead of looming. “How’d you know where I was?”

“I have no idea.” Obito admits groggily, reaching up to rub at his achy, exhausted eye. “My- it was really weird.” He says, turning his head to look at the younger man. “My- uh. My eye socket,” he explains awkwardly, “hurt like hell. Then somehow, I was watching Orochimaru reaching towards me and I, I felt him tear your eye out.”

Kakashi cringes at that and Obito nods sympathetically.

“No idea how, but I did, so I grabbed Genma’s tanto and used my kamui to what I saw through your eye. Then I kicked his fuckin’ ass, if you haven’t heard.” Obito adds with weak, but genuine smugness, because hell yeah. He beat a Sannin to a literal pulp. And he’s been retired for ten years! Who wouldn’t be smug about that?

Kakashi goes silent for a moment, head tilted down to stare at Obito’s hand on the blanket.

“Are you alright?” Obito asks him, a little worriedly. “Your team?”

Kakashi blinks hard and looks up at him, his eye weirdly soft. “Yeah. You saved them, Obito.” He says quietly. “Thank you.” He says, and then stands up and leaves before Obito can respond.

Not that he’s sure he could respond, because for a second there…

For a second there, that softness in his eye…

Obito swallows thickly, looks up at the ceiling, and is completely, utterly, at a loss.

 


 

It takes him two weeks to get out of the hospital.

In that time, Kakashi doesn’t visit him, and that makes it harder to deny the… weird conclusion that Obito has come to.

That Kakashi was looking at him just like Obito looks at Rin and Rin used to look at Kakashi.

Obito is not equipped to handle this situation, so on the day he’s released, he waits for Minato to pick him up like the blonde always does when he or Kakashi have gotten messed up. Then he lets Minato walk him home, taking the time to figure out how to even begin to touch on the subject at hand.

When they get there, Obito breaks the usual routine and asks Minato to sit down for a second instead of rushing to do his usual neurotic assessment of Obito’s entire house. “I need to talk to you.” Obito says uneasily and Minato immediately helps him sit down (because holy fuck does his gut still hurt like all hell) and then sits across from him with a concerned expression. “How-” Obito starts, winces when the word catches, and then swallows hard and tries again. “How long has Kakashi been in love with me?” He forces himself to ask, and he wishes Minato looked at him weirdly or laughed or something.

Instead, the man’s expression becomes serious and he eyes Obito intently for a long moment. “I’m not sure, Obito. I don’t believe he did in the beginning, but…” Minato rests his elbows on his knees and laces his hands together, thumbs shifting restlessly against one another. “He hated himself, after we thought you died. You saw, I think, the way he’d changed in your absence.” Minato starts quietly, blue eyes locked on Obito’s black one, and he nods slowly at that. “He hated himself with an intensity that changed his entire personality, and it took years after your return for him to learn to stop that. I don’t know when he fell in love with you, Obito, but for him to hate himself that much, there had to have been a lot of love first.”

Obito blinks hard at that, then leans himself back into the couch cushions and frowns hard.

Well, shit.

“I never even noticed.”

“Does it make a difference?” Minato offers softly, and it’s not a question - it’s a point, and a fair one.

“No.” Obito says, but god damn, that makes him feel like dirt. “Does that make me a bad person? He clearly cares about me a lot, if he- He clearly loves me, and I don’t-” Obito cuts himself off, feeling like the lowest of the low, and he blinks hard against the weird emotion twisting his chest. Guilt, he thinks. A lot of guilt.

“Obito.” Minato says firmly, but when Obito looks at him, his expression is still gentle. “Do you think it makes Rin a bad person that she can’t love you back?” He asks and-

Well.

Ow, first of all, blunt much? But also - also, yeah. That’s probably a fair point.

Maybe.

“To be fair, sensei, my opinion on that is obviously biased.” Obito points out and Minato’s lips twitch in spite of himself.

“True. But no, it doesn’t. It does make you one weird little group, though. I mean, talk about a triang-” Minato breaks off with a laugh when Obito’s couch cushion hits him in the face.

 


 

Kakashi doesn’t show up for a while after, so Obito spends that time thinking.

He might even say he was contemplating.

“Are you sulking?” Naruto asks suspiciously.

“Shut up and enjoy your piggyback.” Obito commands as he carries the little bastard home from the Academy. “How was your progress report?” He asks, and it’s risky as hell, because one of these days-

“Dead last!” Naruto proclaims cheerfully.

...One of these days, Naruto’s bound to realize that’s not a good thing.

“Huh.” Obito responds as non judgmentally as he can.

Obito thinks, and Obito contemplates, and yes, fine, Obito sulks a little bit.

But that’s mostly because he went so damn long without noticing.

It wasn’t that he was oblivious. He’d put solid gold on Kushina having never noticed, and he was pretty sure most of their friends hadn’t, either. Rin had to have, of course. And Gai, he was sure.

But still. Rin and Minato had noticed, and Obito hadn’t, and that makes Obito feel like the shit someone’s stepped in.

Because once he starts thinking about it, he can’t stop thinking about all the times Kakashi’s been there for him. And there are a lot of them. In fact, Kakashi was the only constant during his episodes, aside from those first four months when he went guilty AWOL after Obito’s return to Konoha.

Kakashi has always been there, and even flat out told him that he had an entire savings worth of days off waiting, just in case Obito ever had another episode.

And sure, Obito was there for him anytime he was hurt. He’d stay with Kakashi when the younger man was too injured for him to be comfortable leaving him alone. He made sure Kakashi knew he could, and had, come to him any time he needed anything.

But he wasn’t there for Kakashi on the same scale that Kakashi was there for him.

“You are sulking!” Naruto shouts like an accusation and Obito flinches a little bit because it’s right in his ear.

How come Naruto had to go and only get his looks from Minato?

On the other hand, at least he does look like Minato, because it means he's ridiculously cute.

“Tooobi-nii, teach me kunai!” Naruto begs, draping himself all over Obito’s head and even blinding him with a finger to the eye.

Ow, Naruto, watch it, I only have one of those left!” Obito yelps and Naruto hastily yanks his hand back.

“Oops, sorry. But Sasuke says his Itachi-nii,” Naruto sings mockingly, “is teaching him kunai. Teach me kunai, Tobi-nii? Pleeeeeease?”

Guh.

“Alright, alright. Lucky you’re so damn cute.” Obito mutters the last part, turning on his heel to head towards the training grounds instead.

“YAY! Training!” Naruto cheers from his back and Obito rolls his eye, but he can’t quite stop his grin.

It takes fifteen minutes of throwing kunai for Obito call the shittiest of bullshit. “Okay how the hell did you fail this?”

“Eh? I don’t know. Mizuki-sensei said I never adjust my stance like he tells me to.”

“Huh. Throw shuriken.” Obito commands, absently reaching into his thigh pouch to offer some to Naruto.

His eyes go big and round. “Real shuriken, Tobi-nii?”

“A-yup. Go ahead, same target.” Obito instructs, then crouches down to observe Naruto’s stance.

It isn’t perfect, but it’s not very far behind what Obito’s had been at that age, and he graduated. Granted, that was during wartime, but that wasn’t so much a lowering of standards as it was an increase of pace in learning. They had to learn things faster, not learn less.

The shuriken isn’t quite spot on and Naruto cuts the flap of skin between his fingers a tiny bit, but it’s definitely a good throw. “Okay. First off, the problem there was you held your fingers too stiff, and you curled them just a tiny bit too much. Here, mirror me.” Obito draws another shuriken of his own and demonstrates, and Naruto watches intently before he carefully adjusts the shuriken in his grip. “Throw with the wrist.” Obito reminds him quietly, and then watches Naruto take another shot at it.

It’s a tiny bit off, but it’s definitely good enough. “Nine out of ten, Naruto.” Obito praises sincerely, and Naruto looks far, far too shocked.

Yeah.

Something’s fucky here.

“Show me your taijutsu.” Obito commands, climbing to his feet and imitating the typical instructor’s form for it.

His taijutsu scoring isn’t as far off. He demonstrates enough for a five, maybe a six - sloppy, too slow, but with a lot of force and he has the movements down solid. He just isn’t very good at actually performing them. Yet, he’s given a three on his report.

His ninjutsu is…

...Well. The zero is a little harsh, because he can actually perform the three jutsus, they’re just… really, really, really bad. Except of the kawarimi, but that jutsu is super simple stuff.

He’d probably only get a one or two anyways, but zero? No. Definitely not a zero.

“Alright, wait here just a quick second, Naruto.” Obito instructs, then kamui’s to Kakashi’s place.

Because in spite of his uncertainty about this whole thing, he knows he can turn to the guy with this. He reappears in front of his door and knocks quickly, and it only takes a few seconds for Kakashi to open the door, his damn eyebrow already judgmentally raised. Like he totally hadn’t just spent weeks avoiding Obito.

“Something's fishy about Naruto’s grades and I need a second opinion.” Obito says by way of hello, then offers his hand in invitation.

Kakashi blinks slowly at him and then, looking supremely unimpressed as he does, sets his hand in Obito’s.

It takes a quick swish of chakra and then they’re both a few feet from a surprised Naruto.

“Kakashi-nii?” He questions and Obito flashes him a grin.

“Sorry, sorry, Naruto. I just wanted him to see your skill in kunai and shuriken real quick. Will you show him the method I taught you?” Obito asks and Naruto shoots Kakashi another confused look before shrugging and picking up the metal armaments. Kakashi makes a soft noise.

“Kushina’s going to kill you.” He murmurs to Obito, who shrugs helplessly.

“It was last minute. Shut up and watch.” Obito hisses back, and then waits.

Naruto throws two kunai at once and Kakashi straightens up abruptly when they both hit. They aren’t bullseyes, but they’re just barely off. Definitely good enough for a pass. “Spot on, Naruto. Now do shuriken!” Obito encourages and Naruto gives an excited cheer before he throws a shuriken - just one this time - the way Obito had showed him.

“...Yeah. I see what you mean.” Kakashi says after a moment and Obito gestures at Naruto in a ‘see?’ kind of way.

“Great job, Naruto. In fact, I’m so impressed, I’m teaching you something your mom’s going to kill me for.” Obito says brightly and Naruto’s eyes go huge and his face breaks into a beaming smile.

“I’m leaving before I get dragged down with you. I’ll talk to sensei.” Kakashi says before bailing out with a shunshin.

Obito proceeds to help Naruto destroy a training ground.

 


 

Why,” Kushina growls, low and furious, “would you ever think it would be a GOOD IDEA, to teach MY SON, a FIRE JUTSU?!”

 


 

There is something fucky with Naruto’s grades, and it leads them straight to Mizuki.

Obito takes it upon himself to play bait while Kakashi waits to strike, and starts dropping hints about their suspicions. Subtle little comments about Naruto’s grades and ‘Oh don’t you just love the new changes Minato’s been making to foreign policy?’ that never fail to make Mizuki’s jaw tick.

He clearly doesn’t like Minato or Naruto, but Mizuki doesn’t fall for it and let any of his guilt slip out.

Mizuki, instead, goes straight from perfectly innocent, super not shady instructor to poisoning Obito on his third not-an-interrogation.

Mizuki, you might have guessed, is a fucking psycho.

Luckily, Kakashi realizes quickly enough. Unluckily, that’s because Obito takes three sips of his tea and then he suddenly can’t stop coughing. Mizuki drops the innocent act, gets all cold-stone-bitch faced, and then Kakashi cuts his fucking head off, grabs Obito, and hauls ass to the hospital with Obito gasping like a fish out of water.

He wakes up feeling fine only an hour later, but he passed out on the way to the hospital, and it’s obvious that things were a hell of a lot more terrifying for the guy who had to carry him the whole way, not even able to stop and check if he was still breathing.

“Well at least you killed that dick.” Is all Obito can really offer to reassure him.

“On the bright side, you only died for three minutes.” Is Kakashi’s instant, bitchy response, glaring at him like he poisoned his own tea.

“I didn’t realize the dude was fucking psycho. We were only investigating him for fudging school grades for crying out loud.” Obito says defensively.

“Actually,” Minato starts in the reluctant tone of someone who knows he’s about to get hit for it but needs to say it anyways, “Mizuki was suspected of killing a teammate during a mission the first time he attempted to become an Academy Instructor.”

Kakashi, reasonably, throws a chair at him.

“Oh, wow, okay, uh. How about we all just stop and take a deep br-...” Obito belatedly realizes the poor choice in his phrasing when Kakashi whips around and Minato, crouching under his newly acquired chair, starts to shake his head. “Oh crap, I just remembered I left my house on fire!” Obito says and kamui’s the hell out of there.

 


 

Then Obito’s twenty-nine, Kakashi retires from ANBU, and Naruto graduates from the academy a year early.

He’s still not the sharpest kunai in the pouch, but he’s not dead last, either, and when he absolutely insists on taking the graduation test a year early, he passes.

Sasuke Uchiha also graduates a year early, and where he might’ve been Rookie of the Year in his group, the title is stolen with his advancement by one Neji Hyuuga, son of Hizashi, who is no longer so cute or proud about his seal brand.

For a while, Minato struggles, and Obito guesses why. There are two problems with the group up.

It’s normal for the dead last and Rookie of the Year to be teamed together. This is solved with Naruto no longer being the deal last, and with Sasuke’s early graduation, he’s no longer the Rookie of the Year.

The other problem is Sakura.

Sakura is the best kunoichi in her age.

That doesn’t mean she’s very good on her own, though. She’s not book smart, she’s book brilliant, but her practical skills are lacking. The only thing she has going for her is textbook, weak taijutsu and above average aim.

Yet they knew.

Obito knew, which meant Minato - and probably Kakashi - definitely knew as well, so Minato struggles, and Obito knows why.

His theory’s confirmed when Sakura’s suddenly slipped ahead a year and manages to pass the test as well.

And then Minato somehow manages to completely trick Kakashi into being their dedicated sensei.

It’s hysterical.

And with Gai getting the Hyuuga and his team that same year, well…

It sets off a genin-team war that is legendary.

Obito can honestly say he has never seen Kakashi so motivated about anything.

“You manipulative bastard.” Obito accuses, completely awed, as he watches Kakashi harass his students into line.

“I don’t know what you mean.” Minato says dismissively.

Manipulative!” Obito repeats, stunned, and Minato just smiles under his stupid Hokage hat. “You- this is a three fold manipulation, isn’t it? You passed them this year, so you could manipulate Sasuke and Neji into an ultimate rivalry, so you could manipulate Kakashi and Gai into using this as part of their ultimate rivalry, which would manipulate Kakashi into actually teaching your child.”

“You know, if you never retired, I wouldn’t have had to do this.” Minato informs him with a superior sniff.

Obito blinks hard once, then looks sideways at him. “Really?” He asks, startled and… touched.

Minato offers him a soft and slightly sad smile, nodding. “Really. I’m glad you’re his godfather, and Kakashi will make an excellent sensei - but you would’ve been the best choice for Naruto, I think. You’re the same type of person, you know?” Minato shrugs slightly and looks back at his son, who’s yelling at the Uchiha and getting yelled at the pink-haired girl for it, and frowns softly. “You know?” He repeats in a much different tone, and Obito snorts softly.

“Yeah. I know. Remember that last, er... Episode? Five years ago?” Obito asks and Minato blinks a few times before looking at him a little incredulously. “I caught sight of that one.” Obito jabs a finger at Sakura, and Minato blinks a couple more times. “Yep. That’s right. It’s okay, you can say it. I was messed up in the head by a six year old girl.”

Minato lifts a hand to his mouth, making a weird expression that’s a combination of guilt, regret, and amusement all rolled into one.

“It’s fine. It sucked at the time, but it’s pretty funny now. Just like all of Kakashi’s asshole ‘caveman’ comments.” Obito says dryly, and Minato finally allows himself to grin a little.

“Still. I probably should have thought to share my… realization, at least with you so you wouldn’t be caught off guard.”

“Eh. I didn’t need to know.” Obito offers a small shrug. “There would’ve been no mentally preparing for that, anyways. I mean, come on,” Obito gestures at the group incredulously, and doesn’t say out loud, ‘time travel?’

But Minato gets it anyways, because he huffs loudly and throws one hand up. “I know , right? I figured it out after Shikamaru’s birth, actually. He’s the fourth.” Minato explains to Obito, who makes a small ‘oh’ in realization. “I know you never really saw any of them but Sakura, but the other three - their resemblances scream out at me as well. Especially Naruto.” Minato adds, making a little slashing gesture at his cheeks.

Oh. Yeah, that makes sense. I got it from the Uzumaki thing.” Obito explains and his sensei nods at that. “I’m sure Kakashi figured it out before me, too.”

“Shikana - she was a Nara on the same team as Kakashi and I, when we brought back you-know-who - she figured it out shortly after I did. Made a comment on the jutsu the mystery Nara used - apparently it’s a variation only taught to the main family.” Minato explains, frowning thoughtfully. “Inoichi knew the first time he met Sakura as well - she’s a friend of Ino’s. Shikaku probably knows about these three as well, but… not about the Nara. He never met him, and I’ve ordered everyone to keep it from him. I’m ordering you, as well.”

It takes Obito a moment to gather why.

Shikaku was their best and brightest, and the man was absolutely phenomenal at compartmentalizing, but his family… he loved his family more than anything in the world, and anyone who ever saw the man around his wife or son knew that. He’d be alright if he knew, but… it would cause him an incredibly unnecessary amount of grief. Their Nara had, after all, killed himself to prevent the Yamanaka’s from seeing his memories.

“That can’t be easy on Inoichi, either.” Obito realizes quietly and Minato exhales a heavy breath.

“It wasn’t, at first, but… I pointed out to him why he did what he did. For the same reason we’ll likely never speak about this again, no matter how privately.” Minato says quietly, and Obito glances at him darkly. “It can never get out that this is possible. Never .”

Well.

He couldn’t really argue about that.

“So, anyways, I hear some kid’s got the Mokuton.” Obito changes the subject super casually and Minato snorts, startled.

“He’s a little minion of Kakashi’s. He found him right after your rescue from Orochimaru’s grasp, actually.” Minato explains, shaking his head in dismay. “He was another one of Orochimaru’s little test subjects. He’s a cute kid. Followed Kakashi everywhere. He captain’s their ANBU team now that Kakashi’s retired.”

“Oh? How come we never heard about him before?” Obito asks curiously and all Minato does is stab a hand pointedly in Kakashi’s direction. “...Oh, right, he is pretty protective, isn’t he? Hmph. Well, at least the kid doesn’t have to worry about Orochimaru anymore.”

“Yeah, no kidding.” Minato huffs softly. “I still can hardly believe that. You realize people harassed me for months afterwards about making you my successor? You aren’t even a shinobi anymore!” He bitches.

It takes Obito four solid minutes to stop laughing, and by then, their lurking cover has been blown and Minato has long since beaten a fast retreat to avoid his own excitable son.

 


 

“I’m both proud and irritated.” Rin complains as she watches Minato award Kabuto with official status as a tokubetsu jonin.

“Why the irritated part?” Obito wonders.

“It took him seven years of training to surpass my twenty-three.” Rin huffs. “I’m proud. I also kind of want to yank his hair out.” She quickly flashes a bright smile when Kabuto glances her way, and then returns to sullen glaring.

“I miss when you were nothing but sweet and adorable.” Obito lets her know, and gets his foot stomped on.

He’s consciously tried to tone down on the moon-eyes now that he’s aware of Kakashi’s feelings towards him, because that couldn’t feel any better for him than how it feels for Obito when Rin sends Genma of all people those pretty smiles of hers.

He’s also tried to get along better with Genma. He’d worried, for a second, that the man would be prickly over the fact that Obito had stolen his tanto that one time. But when he’d returned the bloodied sword to him, Genma had just taken it with a strained smile and muttered about never pissing him off.

And he hadn’t pissed Obito off, so they’re pretty much okay.

“You know what makes me angry?” Rin demands, and Kakashi sighs.

“What?” Obito’s left to be the one to politely ask, before Rin can turn and hit Kakashi or something.

“He can use the Mystical Palm jutsu. From a distance.” Rin hisses, stomping her foot a little, and at least this time it isn’t on Obito’s foot. “A distance! Even Tsunade-sama can’t do that.”

“Poor thing.” Obito says sympathetically.

“You’ve gotten very bitter.” Kakashi offers unhelpfully, with all the social tact of a drunk walrus.

“I-” Rin whips around, looking offended. “I have not!”

Damn it, Kakashi.

Brocode initiate: Rescue a bro in social danger.

“Uh. Actually, maybe a tiny bit.” Obito cuts in, before Kakashi can get shanked, except then she’s whipping around to glare viciously at him instead. “Tiny bit, Rin. Maybe just… try to focus on the positives?” Obito suggests desperately because her eyes might actually set him on fire. “I mean, Kabuto’s officially finished his apprenticeship! Be happy for him, and for your newfound free time!”

Rin looks murderous for a second, then pauses, takes a deep, deep breath, and tries again. “Right. Okay. I didn’t think hormones would hit me that way.” She says the last part under her breath, but not quite quietly enough.

Obito blinks at her for a long moment, takes in the mental equivalent of getting punched in the face, and then turns forward and shuts up as he tries to process that.

Did she just imply she was pregnant?

Suddenly, he’s remembering that he actually loathes Genma from the lowest depths of his soul.

Kakashi catches his attention over Rin’s head and makes a quick, subtle twitch of his finger along his own throat.

Obito nods sharply, and they silently plot to hunt down Genma the second Rin’s distracted.

 


 

Obito’s thirty, Rin’s definitely pregnant (and not a widow because Genma’s like a cockroach and just won’t die), and Fugaku makes him his successor.

“Please god no.” Obito pleads, because for fucks sake, he’s seen the amount of paperwork that man tackles on a daily basis.

Fugaku does it anyways.

Obito would quit if he had literally anywhere else to go. “I’m going to hire a Hyuuga. First thing I do, Fugaku, I swear on my last damn eye, I will do it.”

“I suggest Ko Hyuuga.” Is Fugaku’s bland response, not even lifting his head from the mountain of paperwork he deals with everyday.

Obito gives an angry scream and kamui’s away.

He reappears in training ground three, where Kakashi’s in the middle of throwing himself at his genin’s in one of his undoubtedly demented training attempts, and seizes the man right out of the sky. “You have no idea how angry I am.” Obito informs the man, clinging to his shoulders and resisting the urge to shake him.

Kakashi takes a moment to look startled at his sudden captivity, and then gives Obito a supremely unimpressed look. “Oh, don’t worry, I wasn’t in the middle of anything-”

“Good, because I am so angry. Guess what Fugaku just did. GO AHEAD, GUESS!” Obito shrieks, making the man lean his head back in a vain attempt to protect his eardrums.

“Uh. Tobi-nii?” Naruto asks uncertainly.

“Not now, adorable otouto, I’m talking.” Obito cuts him off. “Fugaku just made me his successor for the Force!” Obito snarls, shaking Kakashi once for emphasis - and then he has to leap back to avoid the chidori suddenly being driven at his face.

The resulting spar is mostly them leaping all over the place, Obito kamui’ing a few melee hits, Kakashi attempting to chidori him, and random bursts of fire just to keep things fresh, mingled with Obito screaming about future paperwork hell every chance he gets.

Naruto cheers ‘Tobi-nii’ on, Sakura watches in awe, and Sasuke observes with narrowed eyes and tries to memorize what little of the fight that’s actually slow enough for them to really see.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

Obito’s thirty, he’s the godfather of a twelve year old Namikaze (Minato 2.0 with extra stupid), and he becomes the godfather of an adorable, brown haired little girl, too.

“She’s even cuter than Naruto was!” Obito exclaims, lifting the tiny infant in awe, and ignores the way Minato sulks at that.

“Don’t kill that, I just spent three days getting it out of me.” Rin warns hoarsely as Obito holds the baby high over his head.

“Oh, right, sorry.” He cradles her the way you’re actually supposed to, and frowns a little at her wide, unseeing eyes. “Seriously, it’s unnatural how adorable she is.”

“I’m going to need katanas for both hands once she starts school.” Genma predicts miserably. Rin pats his hand.

Katsumi yawns, big and wide, and it is the cutest damn thing Obito has ever seen in his entire life. Even Kakashi’s face softens at the sight.

“Alright.” Obito decides, giving Genma a considering look over that has the man sweating a tiny bit as his temple. “I guess you can live, for now.”

The man looks ridiculously relieved by this, and Minato gives a soft sound of amusement at that.

“Yay.” Genma says shakily, gnawing on his senbon.

 


 

Obito’s thirty, and Kakashi accidentally takes his genin on their first ever A-Rank mission.

It starts, naturally, with Kakashi taking his team on their tenth C-Rank - a perfectly innocent escort mission to Wave. It starts with Obito sitting at his desk, minding his own business, when his eye gives a faint itch he’s starting to understand signals Kakashi using his own Mangekyo. It starts with Obito giving a loud groan of exasperation in the middle of the Police station, standing up, and kamui’ing to go find out how they managed to fuck up literally just an escort mission.

It ends with him and Kakashi facing off against an explosion-happy nutcase who screams a lot about art and then self-destructs and takes a square mile of water and forest with him. Luckily, Obito manages to grab Kakashi’s team and their escort in time to kamui them all a good three miles further into Wave.

“So anyways, I have paperwork.” Obito says to Kakashi, and then leaves again before he has to deal with the shellshocked genin staring at him.

He reappears in Minato’s office.

“I really wish you’d stop doing that.” Minato curses, frantically dabbing at the ink he’d just spilled on his paperwork.

“Guess who just finished their first A-Rank mission ever?” Obito asks brightly, and the joy in his tone probably gives him away, because Minato instantly freezes with an expression of dawning horror.

No.” He breathes out.

Ah, the voice of a man who knows he’s about to get fucking slaughtered by his wife.

Naruto-chan! ” Obito sings, throwing his arms out like it’s something to be thrilled about.

He kamui’s back to his office before Minato can start crying on him or something.

Honestly. His Mangekyo was the best social evasion ever. “Guess who just finished their first A-Rank mission?” Obito cheerfully asks Fugaku.

The man freezes mid-scribble.

No.”

 


 

See, the thing that’s so weird about this all is that anyone who ever met any of those four could take one look at Kakashi’s team and immediately be convinced, one hundred percent, that they just looked eerily similar for no apparent reason.

This is because none of them act the way their counterparts had.

Especially Sakura and Naruto.

The Naruto with the bizarre kekkei genkai (and when was that going to make an appearance? Ever?) had been brilliant and deadly, even if he did resort to some familiarly goofy behavior when he helped attacked Suna all those years ago.

The Naruto they knew?

Quite possibly the worst prankster ever. He had the creativity in spades, but none of the genius or subtlety for it.

And Sakura…

Eugh.

Sakura was just… phenomenally different, and in a really bad way.

Luckily, one good thing that came out of the Surprise S-Rank Wave mission was that they’d all three gotten a bit of a wakeup call. Naruto was putting more effort into actually using his brain, Sakura was putting more effort into actually… well, being useful in any way at all, really.

And Sasuke was being a dick.

“Seriously, I don’t understand.” Sasuke complains after Obito’s made the tragic mistake of visiting during one of their training sessions, a month after the Wave mission. “You’re ridiculously strong. Itachi swears you’re the best Uchiha that’s ever come out of the clan!”

That was a surprise, and a very touching one. Obito blinks at Sasuke, frowning as Sakura and Naruto sparred in the background under Kakashi’s judging eye. “I don’t understand either. What are we talking about? And your brother’s biased, we’re bros.” Seriously, the teen makes some of the most interesting anti-shinobi arguments Obito has ever heard, and the fact that he insists on making them whenever his father happens to be in earshot never fails to be hysterical.

“Why the hell aren’t you still a shinobi?” Sasuke demands.

It’s a testament to how well he’s recovered that he’s able to instantly fire back with, “Because I lost my arm and the right half of my chest in a mission gone wrong, got immediately kidnapped and held captive in a cave for a year by a complete and utter madman while his minions chopped part of my leg off so I couldn’t leave, which left me with crippling PTSD for about five years after.” Obito says blandly. “I was thirteen at the time, if you were curious.”

It takes Sasuke a second to recover from that one.

“But-”

“But nothing.” Obito cuts him off, sitting up and setting his elbow on his lifted knee, resting his chin in his palm. He squints hard at Sasuke, who rocks back on his heels, seeming uncomfortable with the scrutiny. “Exactly what do you think the shinobi life is, Sasuke? Power and glory? Cool weapons and badass jutsus? Sure, that’s all well and good. But that’s not what shinobi life is - that’s just a positive side note in the life.” Obito explains harshly, gesturing to the distant KIA monument from the Third War. “That’s shinobi life, Sasuke. It’s blood, it’s pain, it’s loss, it’s murder. It’s knowing that the only way out is either surviving it and living with the guilt, or dying before you have to. I don’t suggest you ever judge another person for their choices until you get a better understanding of your own damn ones, Sasuke.”

There.

Sasuke stares at him with wide eyes, and Obito doesn’t even notice he’s started to leak killing intent until Kakashi makes a vague hand gesture in the distance.

Oops. Obito flops back onto the grass and cuts the chakra flow, then gives a nice yawn to express to Sasuke just how done he is with this conversation.

Luckily, the bratty Uchiha slinks quickly back to his confused teammates, looking at least a little quelled.

“That was excessive.” Kakashi notes a few minutes later, dropping down to sit beside Obito. He cracks his eye open and looks at the white-haired man, then scowls.

“He got all judgey about me being retired and was a little too blunt about it. Kid’s gotta be less of a dick or he’s going to actually set off someone’s PTSD with that kind of callous questioning.” Obito huffs plaintively.

“You’re being an old man again.” Kakashi warns him. “Next you’re going to start yelling at them to get off your lawn.”

“Bullshit, I’ll start throwing shuriken at their trespassing little toes.” Obito corrects with a sniff.

Mask or no mask, Kakashi can’t quite hide the twitch his lips give.

“Then you’ll start yelling at clouds.”

“I’ll yell at Kumo, does that count?”

“Good enough.” Kakashi shrugs, then adds blandly, “or you’ll just go straight to killing their Daimyo.”

“Rasa and I are bros, god damn it!” Obito shouts, jerking up into a sitting position to glare at his best friend all the better. “We had an arrangement!”

“Ah, but it’s off the books, and therefore, it was murder.” Kakashi corrects him sagely.

“Okay, fuck you, Kakashi. There is a reason I’m not a diplomat, okay?”

“Does it have to do with the fact that you have a tendency to murder -”

“ONE TIME!” Obito screeches, attempting to punch Kakashi with his right arm - but the stupid jounin dodges, and Obito just ends up shattering the ground he’d been sitting on instead. “GET BACK HERE!”

 


 

 

Something goes wrong on their next mission, and somehow, they managed to turn another C-Rank into something way worse.

This time, it doesn’t go so smoothly.

Once more, Obito’s alerted by his Sharingan tingling - but this time, it’s accompanied by a sharp stab in his empty socket and a very short flicker of-

Oh, god, no, Obito thinks, stomach lurching even as he jumps to his feet and kamui’s out of his apartment.

For a brief second, he saw a flicker of Naruto, collapsing with a hole punched through his chest.

And then he’s there, seeing it in reality, appearing just beside the boy’s fallen form. “GO!” Kakashi shouts instantly, locked in melee with a sword wielding man, and Obito grabs hold of Naruto as one of the other two shinobi turns and points a finger at him.

He kamui's away with Naruto, even as the ridiculously fast water bullet shoots from the finger and brushes past his arm. The second Obito reappears, he’s already yelling, “Get me Tsunade! Now!”

The startled receptionist takes one look at the blood soaking Naruto’s chest and immediately punches something at her desk that sends a sharp ringing throughout the hospital. Obito’s never heard that code before, but blood’s already soaking through the hand he has pressed to the hole in Naruto’s chest, so he hopes it means ‘hurry the fuck up’. The receptionist is at his side in a second, her hand covering his and glowing a warm blue.

“It nicked his heart, keep pressing down.” She says urgently.

Obito nods quickly and takes a deep breath that makes his chest ache, trying hard not to pass out at that. “Is-” he starts to ask, but how the hell do you even finish a sentence like that? It’s his godson, his stupid, idiot godson who takes too damn much after his damn mother, and he’s-

He’s going to make it.

He has to.

Tsunade charges into the reception area mere seconds later, eyes wide and harried, and the receptionist instantly jerks back so the woman can take her place. “Shit,” Is Tsunade’s instantaneous response, Kabuto hurrying in a few seconds behind her. “Get over here!” Tsunade barks at him and Obito moves back to make space for the medic-nin.

His hands are soaked in blood, and he has no idea how to handle that, so he pretty much just doesn’t for the moment.

“Damn it, we can’t move him, we need to-”

“Move where?” Obito demands instantly and Tsunade shoots him an angry look.

“We can’t just- oh, damn, right.” Tsunade realizes his intention and jerks her head at the boy quickly. “Take us, OR Three is open.”

Obito drops down so he can grab Naruto and Tsunade, hooking his arm around Kabuto’s, and drags them all into kamui and right back out in the OR in question. “Get out of here.” Tsunade barks the second they’re back in the world.

Right.

He kamui’s back to the bridge, reappearing next to the puddle of blood left behind from when he took Naruto, and then he zeroes in on the fast one who grazed him with the water bullet.

He’s clearly the one giving Kakashi the most trouble, darting between attacking him and going after the two remaining genin, and Obito arrives just in time to see him shoot another bullet, this time at Sakura.

Obito’s there in an instant, kamui’ing right in the way, and takes the hit to his right shoulder. No harm, no foul - he can't even feel the damage - though it makes Sakura gasp in shock.

“That was my godson, you mother fucker,” Obito snarls, and then teaches the fucker what happens when you piss him off.

The man might die fast, but he doesn’t die easy.

When it’s all over, Sasuke has his Sharingan, him and Sakura are both beaten to hell, and Kakashi is almost as chakra exhausted as Obito is. For a long, long minute, they all just kind of stare at each other tiredly, and then they sit down on the random bridge they’d been fighting on.

“...So where are we, anyways?” Obito asks eventually, still trying to catch his breath.

“Just outside Takigakure.” Kakashi answers, and that explains that.

“No wonder I’m so exhausted. Too much kamui for one damn day.” He pants out, reaching up to rub at his face, only to jerk his hand back down. Right. Bloody.

Naruto’s blood.

Fuck.

“Is he still alive?” Sasuke asks, tight and strained, and Sakura makes a quiet sound of grief from Kakashi’s other side.

“He was. Tsunade-hime had him, and Kabuto.” Obito says, and that’s enough to make Kakashi relax.

“Good. He’s fine, then.” He says confidently, tilting his head back to rest it against the concrete barrier at the edge of the bridge.

Obito does the same, taking a moment to just breathe.

“We seriously need to stop taking C-Ranks.” Sasuke huffs out and all of them laugh weakly at that.

 


 

Things change, after that.

Naruto recovers fully, but the impact of that failed mission stays for some time. Sasuke is a lot less bratty, Naruto is even more focused on becoming a better shinobi mentally (and becoming frighteningly calm in combat, finally showing some similarities to his father), and Sakura…

Well.

Sakura walks up to Tsunade and talks the woman into taking her in as her apprentice, pronto.

Suddenly, there are a lot more similarities between Team 7 and the old trio of chaos-bringers.

Shisui takes Sasuke under his wing and Minato does the best he can to do the same with Naruto (the kid’s still pretty dumb, but he’s getting better), and Kakashi torments ultimate teamwork into them whenever they make the mistake of having free time.

The thirteen year olds fly through the Chuunin exams, and then Jiraiya comes into town, takes one look at Naruto, proclaims him to be Mini-Minato, and spends a month teaching him to be the next Toad summoner. With Tsunade using their month of free time between Chuunin stages to beat medical knowledge into Sakura, Kakashi has no choice but to make Sasuke his victim.

He kidnaps the unfortunate Uchiha and they disappear for the entire month.

It’s the most peaceful month of Obito’s life.

Unfortunately, it ends in tears.

Gai’s tears.

Because Kakashi’s entire team gets promoted and only Neji from Gai’s team does.

Obito would accuse Minato of favoritism if they hadn’t just been that good.

The only other person to get promoted is Shikamaru Nara, as well.

And then, well.

Jiraiya takes Naruto. “Special grand-student training.” He says, flashing Minato a beaming grin, and then makes his grand escape before word can reach Kushina.

God knows he’ll never walk again once she gets her hands on him.

Which leaves Sakura and Sasuke, and Obito does something that makes him incredibly uncomfortable, but he knows it’s the right call.

“I bought you two something.” Obito starts uneasily when he crashes their first team meetup after Naruto left, and sets two wrapped items on the grass in front of him. Sakura and Sasuke look at them in confusion, but Kakashi snaps his book shut and steps over, eyebrow lifted.

“Are those-”

“Mhm.” Obito confirms, which only makes their curiosity grow.

“And hers?” Kakashi asks, jabbing a thumb as his pink-haired student.

“Uh-huh.”

“Huh.” Kakashi offers after a moment, looking impressed.

“What are we missing?” Sakura asks uncertainly, crouching down across from Obito to eye the long, wrapped objects.

“Sakura, this one is yours. Open it first.” Obito instructs, passing the longer of the two towards her. She takes it warily, carefully untying the bindings and then peeling the paper away.

She blinks, shocked, at the object left in her hands - and even Sasuke can’t help but lean in, impressed.

“That’s a chakra sword,” Sasuke says, startled, and Obito nods.

“This- this had to have cost a fortune!” Sakura cries out, looking at Obito with huge eyes, and then back to the sword again. It gleams too much for a normal sword, and the metal is unnaturally reflectionless, which gives it away as an uninfused chakra sword.

“It’s a gift. Don’t think about the price.” Obito warns her, and sweeps on before she can protest like she seems to dearly want to. “I’m giving you this because you have a fire affinity. That makes a chakra blade incredibly useful for you, especially with as careful chakra control as you have. It’ll take you years to infuse it, but once you have, you’ll be able to kill with the smallest cut.”

It also did cost a fortune. Which is why Obito may have stolen a little bit from the Wind Daimyo when no one was looking so he could afford the damn thing.

...He’s the only reason the Daimyo was even the Daimyo, damn it, the man owed him something.

“But- But you don’t even like me!” Sakura protests, stunned, and Obito blinks at her.

“I- uh.” Whoops, was he that obvious with his discomfort? He glances up at Kakashi.

Kakashi offers a one armed shrug and doesn’t help in any way.

Damn it. “It’s not… that I don’t like you, Sakura, it’s-” Obito struggles, unconsciously clenching his left hand into a fist at his side. He doesn’t even notice he’s doing it until Kakashi rather abruptly cuts in.

“You look similar to someone who killed him once.” Kakashi informs Sakura.

Obito takes a deep breath and forces himself to relax his fist, loosely curling his fingers around his knee instead. Arg, he might not have had an episode in years now, but this situation was still really stressing him out. “Temporarily.” Obito clarifies when Sakura stares at him with wide eyes. “She had pink hair and green eyes.”

“And then left him unconscious outside of Konoha so he had to crawl the rest of the way home.” Kakashi adds darkly.

“I didn’t crawl!” Obito protests instantly, glaring at Kakashi. It’s easier than having to look at Sakura’s still shell-shocked expression. “I- I limped. Slowly.”

“And then crawled.”

“There was no crawling!” Obito hisses, his voice rising in pitch. “I limped. And then I- I laid down to catch my breath.” He concludes, glaring balefully at his stupid teammate.

Kakashi lazily shifts his gaze to Sakura. “He crawled.”

“Okay, give me that.” Obito grabs for the sword, but Sakura jerks it back and holds it protectively to her chest.

“No. It’s mine now.” Sakura argues, still looking a little uncertain as she does.

Obito huffs and forces himself to settle back down. “Fine, fine. Anyways - I’m going to be blunt with you so you understand exactly why I got you that sword. You have remarkable chakra control. You also have below average chakra reserves. Now, when you’re teamed up with powerhouses like Sasuke and Naruto, that means you’ll fall behind on your own.” Obito informs her, Kakashi finally sitting down instead of looming over them all. Sakura grimaces, looking hurt by the bluntness but smart enough to understand it, so he continues. “Now, you’re becoming a medic-nin, and since you’re training under Tsunade, that means you’ll be learning more than just healing.”

“Tsunade, you’ll remember, was teamed with two powerhouses as well.” One of whom Obito liquified with his fists. “But she focused on healing, and she’s the best at that - but I get the feeling you want to be more in the thick of it than on the outskirts?” Obito arches an eyebrow questioningly, and gets a firm nod from Sakura at that.

“I don’t want to just be picking up the pieces after they’ve fought - I want to be fighting with them.” Sakura says firmly. For a moment, Sasuke looks torn between scoffing and looking mildly impressed by her determination, at least.

“Figured as much. That’s why I picked this type of tool for you. It takes incredible chakra control to infuse a chakra blade, especially one that’s a full sized katana like this one. But once it’s infused, it’ll amplify any of your attacks, to the point that lacing it with even the smallest amount of chakra can leave your enemies with third degree burns.”

Sakura and Sasuke both look duly impressed by that. “I’ve only ever heard of someone using a fire chakra blade once before, and I only heard the aftermath of it.” Kakashi says blithely. “In fact, it was Jiraiya who reported the incident to us. Needless to say, you could completely incinerate someone if you used enough chakra.” Yeah, Hanzo’s forces had been pretty… completely fucked by the time travellers.

“Holy shit.” Sakura blurts, then shoots Kakashi an apologetic look - and the man shoots Obito a condemning one.

He didn't cuss that much, jeez.

Obito ignores it and looks at Sasuke instead, reaching out to tap the other wrapped gift.

“Now, in comparison this gift might seem a little like you’ve been blatantly disregarded or something, but I can explain, it’s not as boring as it looks.” Obito says, and Sasuke shoots him a dubious look before he takes the wrapped object. Just as with Sakura, it only takes a moment for him to unravel it and pull out-...

“You didn’t.” Kakashi protests.

“I totally did.” Obito says proudly, not even trying to deny it.

“You told sensei it was lost!”

“It was. It was just… lost in my kamui, is all. Still technically counts.”

“I’m glad you’re retired if this is what you pull when you aren’t even active duty.” Kakashi bitches, then goes so far as to turn his head away from Obito in disgust.

Obito grins widely at Sasuke and the very plain looking tanto he’s holding, ignoring the doubtful expression the thirteen year old is wearing. “So here’s the thing. Lightning types don’t get as much use out of chakra blades as wind and fire types do. Yes, it’ll amplify lightning chakra as well, but it won’t make quite so much of a difference for you. That’s because all swords, even plain old boring ones, are obviously made of metal, which is conductive. So you can spark with your fingertip, and anything you’re sword is touching will get shocked. Maybe that doesn’t sound as impressive as being able to incinerate people, but you can use even a plain katana to great efficiency in different ways as it is.”

“For example, you can stab someone in their hand and easily channel electricity through them to paralyze them. Luckily for you, though, I figured you wouldn’t be satisfied with just that bit of usefulness, so this isn’t just a regular old katana.” Obito holds his hand out invitingly, unable to fully stop the grin still pulling at the left half of his face, and Sasuke warily sets the katana in it. He immediately stands up and turns. “Watch and learn, Sasuke - and then be very, very careful not to do this accidentally.” Obito adds the last part warningly, then aims and reaches with his chakra.

The blade shoots forward to embed itself in the tree, hilt still nestled in Obito’s palm.

“It really is.” Kakashi groans, covering the small amount of his face that wasn’t already covered with his palm.

“What the hell?” Sasuke demands, startled, and Obito pulls the blade back to the length of a boring old tanto and offers the hilt to Sasuke. He takes it with wide eyes and raised eyebrow, looking almost afraid of holding it now.

“That, Sasuke, is the famed Sword of Kusanagi. I stole it off Orochimaru’s still warm corpse.” Obito explains smugly.

 


 

There’s a second reason behind giving them both swords, as well. Given her… weaknesses, Sakura was the outcast of Team 7 when it came to teamwork.

She wasn’t as fast as Naruto and Sasuke, so she slowed them down. She wasn’t as strong, so she made them weaker. While she usually pulled her own, there were many times when, in spite of how well they were trained in teamwork, they simply had to leave her behind in combat and deal with their enemies on their own.

But she and Sasuke learn kenjutsu at the same time, at the same rate, under the same teacher - Hayate, who apparently had owed Kakashi one hell of a favor - and that helps them work on their teamwork. And thus, somewhat indirectly, their friendship.

“I let him marry one of my ANBU students.” Kakashi says with a disdainful sniff when Obito asks about it.

“Aw, that’s so cute.” Obito cooes, and it actually kind of is, especially when Kakashi shoots him a vicious glare and then sulkily holds his book in front of his face.

Damn book.

Damn Jiraiya.

Meanwhile, Kakashi takes on training Sasuke in lightning jutsus, while Shisui trains him in speed, and Itachi trains him in taijutsu.

Sakura trains under Tsunade in every way. Chakra control, speed, taijutsu, evasion, and, of course, healing jutsus. Kakashi trains her during her nearly nonexistent free time in fire jutsus, and her sword slowly progresses from nearly colorless to a darkish pink.

When he feels mentally up for spending so much time around them, Obito helps Kakashi train them in fire jutsus.

Life is slow, and it continues to be peaceful.

And then Obito’s thirty three years old and Naruto Namikaze waltzes home.

Predictably, it instantly leads to a ridiculously destructive three-way fight between Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke.

There’s nothing left of poor Training Ground Five when they’re done with it.

 


 

“I can definitely see it now.” Jiraiya tells them when they’re all in the room. Minato’s sealed off his office, not even his ANBU inside, and it’s just the five of them.

Minato’s standing in front of his desk, Shikaku to the side of it, and Kakashi stands beside him, leaning back against the wall. Jiraiya stands in front of Minato, arms folded across his chest, and Obito stands between them and off to the side a bit.

“She’s changed a lot, hasn’t she?” Kakashi agrees and there’s no stopping the faint bit of pride that leaks into his otherwise bored tone. Minato exchanged an amused glance with Obito.

“She practically screams Tsunade, except for the sword thing. Subtle, by the way.” Jiraiya adds with a glance at Obito, who shrugs unapologetically.

“She needed it. We could all see how frustrated she was, knowing her teammates were all learning how to excel in combat while Tsunade was teaching her how to avoid it.” Obito points out and even Shikaku looks like he can agree with that, though Jiraiya sighs.

“Yes, well. There’s an exception to even Tsunade’s rules, and she isn’t quite there yet.”

“She’s ready for combat anyways. We all know she’s not your average medic-nin.”

“True.” Jiraiya concedes with a small frown. “And you can really see it, now. In all of them, even, though I haven’t seen a damn thing about that mysterious kekkei genkai the other Naruto had.”

“We still have no idea what it was. Nothing even seems similar to it.” Shikaku grunts irritably. “I’ve scoured all our records.”

“I even asked Mei to check Kiri’s records, and there’s nothing. Rasa already went through his by the time we had the…” Minato pauses to squint irritably at Obito, who puts on his best innocent face, “diplomatic standing to ask him about it.”

Jiraiya subtly offers his fist behind his back, and Obito stealthily bumps his to it.

“As you can gather, he also had nothing to offer.”

“So that’s one of a thousand mysteries about those four we’ll never solve.” Kakashi huffs out unhappily.

“Basically.” Jiraiya agrees, and then hesitates for a moment. “I asked for this meeting because I took Naruto to Mount Myoboku.” Jiraiya says slowly, making Minato’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise. “I know, I know. It was just a brief visit, since I knew you and Kushina would kill me if I kept him for another year just to teach him to be a Sage. Besides, he’s not patient enough. I’d kill him before I’d be able to teach him to actually meditate.” Jiraiya rolls his eyes and Minato’s lips twitch at that.

“Ah… he hasn’t gotten better, then?” Minato asks sheepishly, reaching back to rub the back of his neck.

“Tiny bit.” Kakashi offers, holding up his thumb and forefinger.

Tiny bit.” Obito confirms with a nod, remembering how it had taken all of five seconds for the excitable shinobi to go from ‘Sasuke, it’s great see you’ to ‘I will fucking gut you you red eyed bastard’.

Although, in his defense, Sasuke had bitchily responded with ‘oh god it’s you again.’

...Huh. They were kind of like him and Kakashi, but permanently set to ‘extreme’. How had he never realized that?

“Anyways, while I was there, I went and talked to the Great Toad Sage.” Jiraiya says, his tone going serious, and Obito straightens up and listens more intently. “For those of you who don’t know, the Great Toad Sage is a prophet - and when I first learned to be a Sage, he prophesied that a student of mine would one day bring a great revolution to the shinobi world. That my actions would decide if that revolution would bring the world’s salvation, or the world’s destruction.” Jiraiya pauses for a moment, which is smart, because what?

“Seriously?” Obito asks dubiously, but…

Jiraiya, Minato, and even Shikaku look serious.

“A toad prophet foretold the world’s destruction or salvation?” Obito questions slowly.

“Yeah, I know, it sounds ridiculous - but the prophet’s tried and true, Obito, Kakashi.” Minato is the one to respond, folding his arms across his chest and leaning back against his desk. “It’s not his first prophecy, or his last, and all the ones he’s spoken to the pair of us have come true - aside from this one, since it hasn’t been fulfilled yet.” Minato adds, gesturing between him and Jiraiya.

Obito looks over at Kakashi to see if he’s buying this. The man’s eye is narrowed, but he isn’t arguing, which means he’s at least willing to believe it, but… “I just- a prophet?” He offers uncertainly, looking at the others for… something. Something convincing, maybe?

“He foresaw my invention of the Rasengan.” Minato offers up.

“He foresaw me teaching someone with the Rinnegan. I thought it was bullshit, honestly, but hey.” Jiraiya shrugs.

“He once told me I’d be eating worms just an hour before Shima surprised me with worm soup. Though that might have just been a prank, actually.” Minato frowns thoughtfully at the floor.

“He foresaw me taking on a blonde kid with blue eyes as an apprentice.” Jiraiya adds, gesturing vaguely at that.

“Alright, fine, I believe you. I think it’s weird, but hey, considering who exactly Kakashi’s team is made up of, weird doesn’t really apply here, does it?” Obito sulks.

“Great, can we move on now?” Shikaku asks archly and Obito glances away from him, grimacing.

It’s not his fault this started with talk of prophecies. Like he was just going to smile and nod at that!

“Yes, well. I asked him about the prophecy, to see if he’d seen anything more about it.” Jiraiya shifts his weight to one hip and frowns deeply, the mood becoming severe again. For a moment, Jiraiya goes silent, but it’s clearly out of deep thought instead of for the sake of drama, his brow furrowed.

“What did he say?” Minato prompts after a long enough pause and Jiraiya shakes his head, sighing.

“I don’t understand it. I- I understand the implication of it, but I don’t understand… how, I suppose.” Jiraiya glares at the floor for a moment longer before looking up at Minato. “He told me that there is no more Child of the Prophecy.” Minato blinks hard at that. “He told me,” Jiraiya grimaces unhappily, “that the Children of the Prophecy have already come, and that they died saving the world.”

What the fuck? Obito wonders, and can see the same confusion on Kakashi and Minato’s faces, though Shikaku’s eyes are narrowed in thought instead.

“That it’s our job now to fulfill the second half of the prophecy if we want a revolution. Then he implied to me that someone is already taking the steps necessary, and we need to be doing the same.”

There’s a long, long minute where everyone takes that in.

“So…” Minato starts, stops, pulls a confused and slightly pained face, and then tries again. “The implication there is that the time travelers saved the world and died in the process?” He asks uncertainly, looking at Jiraiya and then to Shikaku, who reluctantly nods.

“That does seem to be. That chakra we felt, right before she vanished and the other killed himself.” Shikaku points out, frowning deeply. “We all felt it. Everyone in the Great Countries felt it. Even Kiri, and we know the chakra originated north of us.”

“It was certainly an evil presence. Worse than the Kyuubi’s, even.” Minato says slowly.

It had been, hadn’t it? It had been strong - and distant - but now that he’s thinking about it…

“You think that’s what they ‘saved’ us from?” Kakashi asks.

“I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have put more credence in Han’s story.” Jiraiya admits reluctantly.

Yes, now that he’s thinking about it, that chakra had been a little familiar. ...Maybe?

“He said she used the Rinnegan she took from Nagato - and we still don’t know who originally had it, either, damn it - to teleport them away. What if that was why the chakra cut off like it did? What if she teleported away whatever would’ve destroyed us?” Jiraiya suggests slowly and uneasily.

“Is that even possible? I mean, it was felt all over the Great Countries. Where could she have taken it where we wouldn’t feel it?” Minato points out doubtfully. “And didn’t Han say it was a statue, to begin with? A-”

“What?” Obito doesn’t even realize how awful he feels until he hears the strangled croak to his voice. He lifts his head, looking at Minato with a wide eye, and the man blinks once before straightening in concern.

“Are you alright, Obito? What is it?”

A statue.

The statue. The… the Gedō Mazō, Madara had called it. That’s what it had felt like - or at least similar enough to it. The damn statue, and… and that chakra had felt like it. He hadn’t realized before, but-...

“Obito?” Kakashi asks cautiously, stepping forward, and Obito swallows thickly before shifting his gaze to Minato again.

“I need to check something.” Obito says hoarsely, and then does something he’s spent the last nineteen years actively avoiding.

He closes his eye and thinks really hard about that goddamn cave.

Kamui sweeps him away before anyone can say anything, and when Obito opens his eye again, his breath catches and his traitorous legs shake.

He’s in the cave.

He’s in the cave, and it looks very different, but still eerily recognizable. All the hair on his body stands straight up and his heart pounds in his chest, and for a second, he’s frozen. His skin feels itchy and too tight, but he’s had nineteen years. He can do this.

Maybe.

Obito swallows hard and forces himself to take a careful look around the cave. The bed is gone, and so is the rubble from the massive boulder Sakura and Sasuke had shattered on their way in. Even Madara’s makeshift throne is gone, and, most importantly, so is the statue.

The Gedō Mazō is most definitely gone, but it didn’t go without a trace. Thick gashes mar the earth in every direction - on the floor, the roof of the cave, the walls. Ashes surround some of the gashes, the very dirt itself burned by whatever touched it, and-

There.

There’s something on the platform behind where Madara’s throne had been.

Obito forces himself to walk. His legs shake, but he takes a deep breath, sets his jaw, and makes them move anyways. It takes a few seconds to scale the platform the statue had sat on, and he confirms that his eyes haven’t lied to him.

There, in front of where the statue used to rest, was a teapot and an oversized urn. And behind it, behind the platform, is a massive, deep hole that goes on farther than his eyes can see.

Obito…

...He really doesn’t want to go down there.

He hesitates, then takes a minute to turn back around and make sure he’s not missing any information from the cave.

Other than a dusty skeleton in the far corner, which he determinedly does not think about, there’s nothing in there but the two objects.

So he hesitantly turns and heads back for the mouth of the cave, needing to confirm one final theory. The cave leads into a long tunnel and he follows it for nearly a mile before he gets sick of it and starts kamui’ing as far ahead as he can see, back to back.

From there it takes maybe six more miles in half as many minutes to reach a branch off in the tunnel. He takes it, following it to the end, and steps out with a deep grimace and a sense of dread.

He’s very far north of Konoha - and almost directly so.

Obito closes his eye, takes a deep breath, and goes back to the cave just long enough to set a hand to each object and kamui away again.

Gah! I hate that!” Jiraiya hisses when Obito suddenly reappears, but he - and the rest of the office - go dead silent at the objects Obito crouches in front of.

Minato’s gaze sticks to the tea kettle, his face pale and his jaw locking. “...Where?” He asks, flatly, and Obito laughs.

It’s not a nice laugh. It’s a hysterical one that pulls at his long-frayed edges, and he lifts a hand to touch his eye. “The fucking cave.” He chokes out and doesn’t see the way Minato closes his eyes, pained, or the way Jiraiya grimaces sympathetically, or the way Shikaku’s eyes narrow dangerously.

He rubs his eye, trying to ignore the way his heart is still fluttering in his chest, the way his hand is trembling, or the way he can hear just how controlled the breaths Minato’s taking are. He tries to imitate that, forcing his heart to slow down. Nineteen years. I can do this, Obito tells himself firmly, and it’s true - but going to that cave again… was pretty way the fuck out of his comfort zone.

“I forgot.” Minato says quietly, but it’s in his calm, emotionally dead shinobi-voice. “You told me, when you first came home. Madara was surviving by staying attached to a statue. I assumed it was something to do with Hashirama cells and brushed it off.” Minato shakes his head.

Kakashi’s hand settles on Obito’s shoulder and he lets himself draw some strength from that. “He felt like it.” Obito says, forcing himself to stay calm. His eye aches miserably. “Madara. He felt like the chakra. I didn’t realize, because I only felt it when I first woke up. He stayed away from me the rest of the time. But he felt like the chakra we all felt.” He falls silent for a second, wondering what else to say, and rubs his thumb along his fingertips. “I didn’t know where the cave was. I had to kamui there, I was never- I was never outside it.”

Damn it. His heart starts jumping again, but another deep, carefully measured breath eases it back down to a more reasonable rate. Kakashi’s hand squeezes his shoulder and that helps a little bit, too. “It’s north of here. It was- something fought there. They must’ve been fighting whatever it was.” Obito informs them, frowning softly.

“They said it wasn’t until Sakura got there that they could teleport it away. They probably fought it until then.” Jiraiya says quietly.

There’s another long minute of silence, and Obito presses his elbow to his curled knee and rests his chin on his hand, his frown deepening in thought.

“...Sarutobi and I kept this close to our vest, but when you told us about them taking Nagato’s eyes, they said they were never Nagato’s eyes to begin with. That the person they claimed was a ‘crazy asshole’ implanted them in Nagato when he was an infant, so that Nagato could be manipulated into resurrecting him when he died.” Minato says quietly. “The timing, the circumstances - they led us to determine that, most likely, the eyes originally belongs to Madara.”

Oh my god, Obito thinks, dazed. Suddenly, a lot of things make a lot more sense, and not in a good way.

“While that may add up, it’s said the Rinnegan is granted to the second coming of the Sage of Six Paths. Madara doesn’t exactly fit the bill there.” Shikaku points out slowly. “So then how did he come to have it?”

God damn it, Obito grimaces, rubbing his face with his hand. “He told me.” He says, feeling like an idiot. I am either the world’s joke or I seriously pissed people off in a past life, he thinks unpleasantly. “He told me he left his ‘real eyes’ to someone else. I probably… I probably didn’t ever tell you that, I don’t remember though.” Obito admits, because there’s a pretty fair amount he didn’t remember from those first few days back in Konoha. Trauma from being killed and all. “When I tried to get away. I… I dragged myself, but I couldn’t go far - he told me I’d…” Obito pauses, grimacing at the shakiness to his voice, and firmly shakes his head.

Yeah. No one needed to know what Madara had told him, or just how horrifying it had been to experience it all. The threat of having half his body slough off had been pretty effective in getting him to stop trying to escape. “Anyways, he said he’d replaced his left eye, and that if I was… insistent, then he wouldn’t mind replacing his right one as well.” He mutters, looking away at the first flicker of horror on Minato’s expression.

For another long moment, uncomfortably grim silence fills the room - and then Obito frowns and looks up again. “He called it the Gedō Mazō.” He remembers suddenly. “I don’t know if that means anything to anyone, but that’s what he called the statue.”

There’s a wide exchange of dark, considering looks at that. Demonic Statue of the Outer Path wasn’t exactly a name that inspired happy feelings, after all.

“Well, that’s definitely ominous, but it doesn’t ring any bells.” Jiraiya admits after a moment, reaching up to rub his chin.

Shikaku straightens up suddenly enough that everyone looks at him, his eyes narrowing in thought. “They sealed all the jinchuuriki in it, you said?” Shikaku asks Jiraiya urgently, making the Sage look at everyone else in confusion, clearly knowing he’s missing something.

“Yes. Well, all but the Kyuubi, obviously.” Jiraiya adds uncertainly. “Why do you ask?”

“Naruto. The Other Naruto.” Shikaku hesitates for a second, then looks at Minato, whose eyes are narrowed in thought. “It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to suggest that if Kushina died in their timeline, he would’ve become the Kyuubi’s jinchuuriki.”

Minato’s head tilts back slightly in dawning understanding.

“That Sakura told us they never were going to come for ‘her’, when we were captured by her.” Kakashi realizes at the same time. “She meant Kushina, didn’t she?”

“She did.” Minato nods grimly. “You believe they sealed every bijuu into the statue.”

“I do.” Shikaku confirms with a tense nod.

“Even the Kyuubi couldn’t be felt for as far as the statue was.” Jiraiya points out darkly. “Gedō Mazō. Demonic Statue of the Outer Path, huh? Yeah, still sounds pretty ominous.” He muses, drawing a soft snort from Minato.

“So what conclusions can we be drawing here?” Kakashi asks, fingers tensing on Obito’s shoulder. “The jinchuuriki you spoke to - Han? You said he claimed the statue came to life with the bijuu infused.”

“He did, but that’s where the story ends. All he could say happened next was that Sakura used the Rinnegan, and then the jinchuuriki died and woke up back where they’d been teleported from. That doesn't tell us much.” Jiraiya says helplessly.

“Except...” Shikaku interrupts slowly, drawing everyone’s attention back to him. “We can draw two conclusions off these facts. To start with - when they took Nagato’s eyes, they said Madara - albeit not by name - intended to have Nagato resurrect him after his death. That alone should tell us how the jinchuuriki are still alive.” Shikaku points out carefully.

“...If the Rinnegan is at all like the Sharingan, then when it’s implanted it someone else, it’s a hell of a lot more draining. That might be what killed her, assuming the Toad Sage is accurate about that claim.” Kakashi says with a considering frown under his mask.

“This story is getting more and more ridiculous the longer it goes on, and we started off talking about prophesied time travellers.” Jiraiya mutters halfheartedly. “So she used the Rinnegan to resurrect the ex-jinchuuriki. Hell, why not. The other conclusion?”

“That the statue absorbed all of the bijuu and came out with a stronger chakra presence than even the Kyuubi has individually. That implies that whatever form of creature that statue was, it was capable of combining the bijuus strength. There no other possible explanation for it coming out stronger than even the Kyuubi.” Shikaku concludes, frowning at the group at large.

There’s another moment of incredibly grim silence as they all try to imagine something worse than the Kyuubi. “Well. That would… probably be something worth time travelling to stop.” Jiraiya admits, his eyebrows lifted and his lips twisted in a disturbed half-sneer. “Hard to even imagine it, but… All the bijuu combined? The Kyuubi alone can destroy entire mountains with one tail. Combine just the Kyuubi and the Hachibi and it’d be something… Well. Something no one would even think of in their nightmares.” Jiraiya shudders, and Obito can’t help but do the same.

It was hard to imagine that. He’d never seen the Hachibi in action, but Minato had, and the man looked sick at the very idea.

Minato clears his throat loudly. “Alright, let’s break this down.” He says firmly, straightening up and folding his arms across his chest again. “We know Madara had the Rinnegan. We know Madara had the statue that apparently could absorb and combine the chakra of the bijuu. Going off it’s name - the Outer Path part - we can also assume it’s connected in some way to the Rinnegan, due to the shared factor of the Sage of Six Paths. Assuming the Rinnegan was originally Madara’s, that means it’s an offshoot of the Sharingan somehow, so it would only make sense that the Rinnegan would be able to control the bijuu just as the Sharingan can.” Minato says slowly and carefully.

“Inoichi’s interrogation of Sakura revealed enough for us to know those four lived through war - and one that was possibly bloodier than even the Second war was. And we can assume it was bad enough that their Hokage decided to send them back in time to outright prevent it from ever happening. Considering their targets… I have to assume that they preemptively sealed the bijuu into the statue themselves, somehow took it to another land, and either released the bijuu someplace we couldn’t gather them up again, somehow destroyed the creature it had become, or outright sealed it itself.”

“It… obviously doesn’t answer all our questions, but I think the conclusion here is clear. Whatever world ending crisis they saved us from, they did it by getting rid of Madara, the Rinnegan, the bijuu, and the statue.”

“And me.” Obito speaks up, taking a slightly shaky breath as he considers what he’s about to say. “You thought I was dead.” Obito points out grimly when everyone looks at him questioningly. “You thought I was dead and I was trapped in that cave with Madara. If they hadn’t killed Madara and let me go, no one would’ve come for me.” Minato looks a little sick at this and Kakashi’s hand spasms against his shoulder, but he can see understanding in Shikaku and Jiraiya’s faces. “Madara and those monsters were the only things I had at that point. Even after a year of hell, I actually missed the old bastard when they killed him. What would’ve happened after two years? Or five?”

Shikaku grimaces deeply. “Stronger men have fallen to that level of social isolation. You were only thirteen, as well, and deeply traumatized.”

Yeah, no fucking kidding. “Still am.” Obito mutters half-heartedly, but it gets a tiny snort from Kakashi, so it’s worth it. Stupid caves reigniting his stupid anxiety. Uhg.

Today sucked.

“You think you would’ve fallen prey to his insane ideas?” Minato asks with a frown, judgement-free but wary, and Obito shrugs one arm.

“He really hated me.” Obito says quietly, shaking his head. “The one - Sasuke. He really wanted me dead. If he hadn’t stabbed me when he did, his killing intent could’ve smothered me. I always wondered about it, but now it makes more sense. You don’t hate a fourteen year old kid that much without a good reason.” He grimaces, staring at the floor for a moment before looking up again. “I don’t know why I would’ve gone along with it, though. He was talking insanity. Wanted to put the entire world in a genjutsu so people could be happy or something.”

“Hmph. Should’ve just looked in a mirror and put himself in one.” Jiraiya grumbles, then fixes Obito with a stern look. “Whatever you might’ve done in that world, it’s not the world we live in now. You’re good people, Uchiha, don’t let the ‘what ifs’ ruin you like they apparently did Madara.”

“It’s true - there’s no point in speculating how the alternate versions of ourselves might’ve lived our lives.” Shikaku points out with a frown. “Off what we know alone we can assume that our lives would be incredibly different.”

“I’d be dead, for one thing.” Minato agrees thoughtfully. “The only seal I know that could’ve put the Kyuubi in Naruto would’ve killed me to use it. There’s not a lot of reasons to seal a bijuu into an enemy shinobi, so we can assume Rin would be dead, as well. Without Obito to save him, Kakashi would be dead three times over by now.”

Twice.” Kakashi hisses the correction. “Twice, and one of those times I only almost died because I was saving him first.”

Obito jabs his elbow into Kakashi’s side, unable to help himself. “Don’t argue just because you don’t want to admit you. I saved your life, Kakashi - all you’ve done is ditch me in a cave.”

“You deserve this.” Kakashi snarls before he abruptly shifts his arm from around Obito’s shoulders to around his neck, yanking him back into a choke hold. Obito goes with a yelp, quickly slamming his elbow into Kakashi’s solar plexus and then kamui’ing to Minato’s side. He sticks his tongue out at the gasping Kakashi, who glares furiously at him. “Cheat.”

“Children.” Minato says dryly. “If we could continue?”

Obito straightens up with a dismissive sniff at Kakashi, and then pretends he doesn’t feel a bit steadier now.

 

It probably says something about him that the easiest way to comfort him is to have Kakashi try to murder him.

Chapter Text

 


 

“Revolution.” Minato repeats flatly, with just a hint of bemusement, after they’ve exhausted the conversation on the matter of the so called ‘Children of the Prophecy’. All they have is speculation, and all the speculation is telling them is that they don’t even have anything to worry about anymore anyways. They’ll probably never get their answers, no matter how much they pursue them. They just don’t have enough information.

“And who did the Great Toad Sage mean when he implied someone else was beginning one?” Shikaku asks with a deep frown.

“Well he didn’t say they were beginning one, just that they were starting to take the steps towards one.” Jiraiya points out. “But if I had to hazard a guess? Yahiko gave Nagato his blessing last year to start reaching out to other countries. Last I heard, he was in Ishigakure trying to convince their Daimyo and Shinobi Commander to join into an alliance so they could share resources. I guess Ishi has an abundance of stone and Ame has an abundance of metal.” Jiraiya offers a faint shrug at that, then exhales slowly through his nose. “But that would imply that to have a revolution, we’d need to start allying ourselves with other nations.”

“We’re already allied with Kiri and Suna.” Minato points out consideringly. “We could start by bridging the gap between us and Suna, perhaps. Tanigakure is the largest of the minor countries, and they have a respectably sized shinobi force…”

“But why would we need an alliance? If we’re at peace, there’s no reason to combine our forces.” Obito points out, gesturing vaguely with his arm and grimacing at the lingering shakiness to it.

“Well there’s the problem, isn’t it?” Kakashi counters, arching his eyebrow sharply. “We’re still thinking in the same terms we always do, even though the entire point of this is…?”

“Revolution.” Shikaku concludes and Kakashi nods pointedly at him. “If we want a revolution, there must, by definition, be drastic change.”

“What kind of a revolution could bring something like world peace?” Kakashi asks with a slightly wrinkled nose, shaking his head. “It’s not like people haven’t tried that before. So long as there are shinobi in this world, we’re going to have conflict.” Kakashi argues.

Obito blinks, and idea tickling at his tired brain.

“Well, yes, but perhaps there doesn’t have to be conflict between shinobi.” Minato suggests, but he looks uncertain as he does. “Shinobi villages only exist because we vowed to protect the Land of Fire and all her civilians. But we’re also mercenaries, essentially, and that’s where conflict comes in between the Countries. Theoretically, if we all combined forces, we wouldn’t have any reason to fight one another.”

“Sure, that’s a good concept and all, but can any of us really imagine Kumo or Iwa going along with the idea of an alliance, much less a united country?” Jiraiya points out skeptically.

For a moment, silence fills the office.

“We’d need one hell of an argument to convince Ōnoki or A to get on our side.” Shikaku admits with a small grimace.

“What a coincidence,” Obito interjects with a crooked smirk. “It just so happens I know a guy who can make some very convincing arguments against the current form of the shinobi world.”

Kakashi stares blankly at him, no doubt having flashbacks of their various conversations about a certain Uchiha.

“...No.” He says flatly, looking almost horrified.

Yes.” Obito corrects smugly.

“You don’t mean…?” Shikaku starts slowly and Obito’s tired grin widens.

“I do.”

“...Huh.” Minato offers, brow furrowed in deep consideration.

 


 

 

Obito’s thirty four, and he’s smug as hell.

“Take it down a notch, your ego is smothering us.” Rin says blandly, watching the procession with a thoughtful frown.

“I’m allowed to be smug.” Obito says with a sniff, watching Tetsuya, the Shinobi Commander of Tanigakure, slowly lead the march up to the stage. Minato waits atop it in full Hokage gear, his hands folded behind his back, with none other than Itachi at his right side.

Even more interestingly, Rasa’s youngest child - Gaara - stands at his left.

“What’s Tani, Tobi-nii?” Katsumi asks curiously, leaning against his head. He adjusts his hands on her ankles, shooting Rin an irritated look at the nickname. He knows it’s her doing. There’s no way both his godchildren just happened to get his name wrong in the same way and then it stuck.

“It’s a minor country, Sumi-chan.” Obito offers. “They live between us and Suna.”

“Oh.” Katsumi responds, a little uncertainly. Obito grimaces at the tone and braces himself for the inevitable. “...Why?”

Damn four year olds. He shoots Rin an imploring look, but the brunette is suddenly very fixated on something going on in the opposite direction.

Traitor.

“Because that’s where their home is.”

“Why?” Katsumi demands and Obito swallows back a whine.

Why’d she have to go and be a smart, curious kid? At least Naruto had been adorably stupid and easy to handle. “Because that’s… where their parents decided to live.” He offers after a moment of scrambling.

“...Why?” She asks suspiciously.

Damn it!

“Wow, that cloud sure does look like a star, doesn’t it?” Obito suggests desperately, pointing at the sky and then frantically looking for any cloud that even faintly resembles a star.

“It looks like a pony!” Katsumi says gleefully and he quiet gives a relieved sigh.

“Yeah it does, but that one over there looks like a dragon.”

 


 

The alliance between Konoha, Suna, and Tanigakure was expertly orchestrated by the combined efforts of Gaara and Itachi.

Which is remarkable, when you consider the fact that it was a trial by fire for both of them.

While Gaara, being the Kazekage’s son and unofficial heir (he and his sister still hadn’t officially fought for the title, but that was more because they frankly didn’t want to than because there was any real question who would win) had at least some experience with diplomacy, he’d never conducted anything on such a large scale as negotiating an official alliance.

Itachi, on the other hand, had literally no experience at all. Luckily for him, he was surprisingly charismatic, eternally calm and quick thinking, and ridiculously good at negotiating both sides of the treaty.

All in all, he and Gaara were two peas in a pod.

“I’m custom designing the next Gokage.” Minato says sagely during one of their ever expanding team dinners.

What had once been a quiet (yeah right) meal between five people now required them to eat on the rooftop balcony because they couldn’t fit everyone in the dining room anymore.

“Sounds like something an archvillain would say.” Kakashi points out blandly, and Minato looks at him askance.

“Archvillains have already had their run for this generation, Kakashi. Let’s just not even think about a repeat of that.” Minato says sharply, to the shuddering of all.

Obito was pretty sure the world at large would never recover from the mystery villain quartet.

He definitely wouldn’t, and the fact that Sakura was approximately three months away from finishing her chakra sword bought him no favors. Like she wasn’t terrifyingly similar enough without that thing.

“You’ve already got Gaara and Itachi. Who else?” Rin asks curiously, passing the mashed potatoes to Genma, who had made the mistake of sitting across from Obito.

He makes sure to glare extra hard at the guy when he passes the potatoes on. Sure, Genma might make Rin happy and might have had a hand in the creation of his favorite (only) goddaughter, but he still didn’t have to like the guy.

On principle.

“Haku, the Mizukage’s favorite bodyguard.” Minato proclaims proudly.

“The one that looks like a girl?” Kushina questions, and then grimaces when everyone nods. “Damn it, that boy’s prettier than I am and he gets to be Kage?”

“...Isn’t he the one she’s constantly molesting?” Obito realizes aloud.

“Eheh… yeah, that’s Mei for you.” Genma grimaces, probably having flashbacks to the last Chuunin exams when he’d made the mistake of acting as Proctor.

The poor guy would probably never be free of the memory of Mei’s gropage.

“That would be an interesting kekkei genkai combination.” Kakashi muses thoughtfully. “Haku’s ice and the Mizukage’s lava?”

“I don’t know that anything can melt Haku’s ice.” Obito points out skeptically. “So the combo probably wouldn’t be as awesome as you’re thinking.”

“Perhaps, but can anything freeze the Mizukage’s lava, either?” Kakashi shoots back, arching an eyebrow at him.

...Huh. That was… an interesting point. What would happen if-

“No, Obito.” Minato barks sharply enough that he jumps, smacking his knee on the underside of the table.

“Ow, damn it, what sensei? I didn’t even do anything!” Obito protests, rubbing his knee with a grimace.

“You were thinking it! You aren’t allowed to stage a fight between the two of them, I forbid it.”

“But it-”

“FORBID!” Minato bellows, making the kid’s table go silent in the distance. Kushina shoots them a quick wave for reassurance.

“You ruin everything.” Obito sulks, poking at his mashed potatoes.

“That’s not true. Kakashi’s the one that ruined most of you.” Rin points out idly.

He blinks, startled, and then squints at her. Was she actually joking about-

“He did take your eyeball.” Kushina agrees thoughtfully.

“That’s not fair, he gave it to me.” Kakashi protests.

“Yeah, after I got crushed by a boulder because of you.” Obito mutters under his breath. The silver-haired jounin snaps his head around to scowl at him.

“That was your choice. Not mine. You ruined everything yourself.”

You were the one who couldn’t dodge a damn boulder, Kakashi. It wasn’t exactly sneaking up on you!”

You ’re the one who actually got hit by it.” Kakashi shoots back.

Obito grabs his chopsticks and goes for the throat.

“Damn it, Rin, can’t we even just have one dinner where this doesn’t happen?” Minato asks despairingly just before Kakashi’s chidori crashes into the table. Genma hastily leaps away with his plate to save his legs from getting electrocuted off.

“Kick his ass, Tobi-nii!” Naruto cheers from the kids table as Obito kamui’s through Kakashi and puts him in a headlock.

“Kick his ass!” Katsumi echoes just as brightly.

“Oh shit,” Naruto hastily abandons his table, because suddenly Rin’s leaping to her feet as well.

Minato watches it all with mournful eyes, while Kushina leans back and laughs.

 


 

The upside to having the world's most notoriously skilled shinobi as your Hokage is that Konoha is almost universally respected and feared.

The downside is that they’re also heavily distrusted by Iwa and Kumo, who will never quite forget how devastating Minato had single handedly been. It had been wartime, of course, but the sheer damage he had wrought was far from forgotten.

No, you definitely couldn’t deny that there was bad blood between Konoha and the two Great Countries. Which is why it takes almost a full year for the combined efforts of Suna and Konoha - with support from Tani and Kiri - to convince Iwagakure to tentatively join the alliance.

Obito never does learn the full story, but Minato returns home with a proud grin that’s almost blinding in it’s intensity. “I knew I was making the right choice. Gaara was the one who managed to bring Ōnoki around, actually. I thought that man was going to curse us to his grave, but Gaara persuaded him, and then Itachi won over his council.” Minato says, shaking his head in equal parts dismay and joy.

And then Rasa dies.

It’s quick and it’s sudden, but it’s surprisingly enough a natural death - an unnoticed blood deficiency that sends a clot straight into his lung.

He’s probably the first Kage to die of natural causes, honestly.

It makes it no less devastating.

They get the news a day after his death, arriving via Sunagakure’s fastest hawk, and Minato immediately gathers up a group for Obito to transport directly to the village.

Shikaku, to lend the to-be-decided Kazekage (they all knew it would be Gaara, but now the poor kid had to fight his sister in open combat only a day after the death of their father) any assistance he could in easing the change of leadership.

Itachi, both as Gaara’s friend and as a point to remind everyone that Konoha stands - and mourns - with Suna.

Naruto, which surprises Obito somewhat, because the kid only met Gaara three times over the last several years, but the two had apparently clicked better than he’d realized because the blonde insists on going to support Gaara.

And Obito himself, obviously. He kamui’s them straight to the gates of Sunagakure, ducks under a kunai launched by a jumpy (and then very apologetic) Chuunin, and waits for admission into the village.

It surprises all of no one when Gaara’s the one who shows up in brand new Kazekage robes, his sister bruised but proud beside him. Gaara steps forward to greet them and silently accepts a hug from Naruto and a shoulder clap from Itachi before leading them into the village.

The first two hours in the village are mostly spent posturing. Gaara takes them through the scenic route to the Kazekage building, making sure plenty of civilians and shinobi alike see the procession, and then they waste an hour and a half locked in the council chamber, reassuring the old windbags that Konoha is still an ally, and that they do, in fact, understand the meaning of that word.

AKA no, they aren’t going to take advantage of the shift in leadership, we’ve said it six different times now, get it through your heads.

When the meeting’s finally over and everyone starts to trickle out, Obito goes over to Gaara and sets his hand on the teen’s shoulder. “Did your father ever tell you how I helped him solidify our alliance?” He asks him quietly, the young Kazekage’s seafoam eyes darting up to meet his severely.

“...Yes.” He says after a moment. “I know the arrangement you had with my father in the past.”

Take that Kakashi, it was an arrangement.

“You placed a great amount of trust in my father when you took that action, Uchiha-san.” Gaara points out with a small frown.

“I did.” Obito confirms.

Things had gone without a hitch, but at any point in time, Rasa could have thrown him to the mercy of his people and Obito would’ve had no defense.

But he’d known by then that Rasa was a good man. A tough man, one who might have cut too deeply into his own heart to make room for the hard decisions, but a good man. He’d put faith in that, and he’d been right to.

“Konoha was loyal to our alliance. Suna was as well. I respected that, and I knew your father did as well - so we made do with what we had.” Obito offers, a little helplessly. It’s all the explanation he can really put into words at the moment, but it makes Gaara nod consideringly. “Anyways, my point is - keep that in mind, Kazekage-sama, and know how serious I am when I say you have my full support.” Obito flashes him a small grin at that, amused by the way Gaara’s eyes widen slightly in surprise.

“...Thank you, Uchiha-san.” He says after a long moment and Obito nods, pulling his hand away from the young man’s shoulder.

“Now, onto business. Anything you need me to take with me back to Konoha?”

 


 

Obito’s still thirty-four, and Team Kakashi is cursed.

There’s literally no other explanation.

They’ve had so many missions go wrong that Obito sometimes doesn’t even notice the mild ache of Kakashi activating his Mangekyou.

This time, he’s so intent on finishing up the last three sheets of paperwork left on his desk that he doesn’t even realize what he’s feeling for nearly three solid minutes. Even then, he only feels it when the ache spikes a bit, which he’s starting to understand means Kakashi’s using his version of kamui.

Obito pauses for a second, slowly lifting his gaze to the ceiling.

“I hate you.” He informs whatever asshole god is in the sky, because Team Seven is on a god damned delivery mission, for fucks sake.

How do you mess up a DELIVERY MISSION?!

Obito pushes himself to his feet, his chair screeching backwards and making a few Uchiha glance at him questioningly. “If I die, I want it on the record that it’s because Kakashi just fucked up a delivery mission.” He says emphatically, and Inabi blinks at him with an expression that rapidly goes from incredulously confused to downright irritated.

Again with the saving?” He demands.

Obito doesn’t respond, he just reluctantly kamui’s off in Kakashi’s general direction.

He arrives to see Naruto holding a guy around his torso, locking his arms at his sides, and Sasuke cutting his head off in one quick move. Naruto immediately steps back and lets the body drop with a wet thump, both him and Sasuke panting as the head slowly rolls towards Obito’s feet. He looks sideways to see Kakashi slumped back against Sakura’s chest, her arm wrapped around his chest and holding a glowing hand to his bloody stomach, but the man can’t be hurt too badly, because he’s glaring with an impressive amount of hate at the body on the ground.

“What the hell?” Obito asks, feeling oddly cheated by the anticlimactic scene.

“Things got weird, man. Just be glad it’s over.” Naruto huffs out, moving to Sasuke’s side when the kid drops to a crouch. He rests his arms on his knees and struggles to catch his breath, head bowed, and Naruto pats him on the shoulder.

“Yeah, really. Took a kamui just to get his damn scythe away.” Sakura calls her agreement, grimacing deeply.

Obito looks down, takes in the bizarre… rune thing someone, presumably the decapitated man, had rubbed into the earth. With blood. “...Right.” He crouches down and grabs the head, curious to see if the face holds any answers to his many questions.

Except as he’s turning the head around to face him, it’s mouth suddenly snaps open and bites down hard into Obito’s left wrist.

 

He screams like a little girl.

 

It’s only because of the weird ass circumstances that he’ll freely admit it.

He shrieks and drops the head, his wrist missing a huge chunk and gushing blood, and he barely even notices because, “WHAT THE FUCK!”

“Oh my god!” Sakura shrieks as well, the decapitated head snarling up at Obito with blood rushing down it’s mouth, and-

“Take that, fucker!” The head snarls, and Obito steps away because what the fuck. Even Kakashi is looking at it with wide eyes, his lips parted in shock under the mask. “Do you have any idea how much this fucking hurts? Look at my fucking neck you bastards!” The head shouts.

Obito kicks it as hard as he can in Naruto’s general direction, who leaps away from it with a startled shriek of his own. “What the hell, Tobi-nii?!” Naruto wails, pulling Sasuke along with him, and the Uchiha shoots his friend a disgruntled look before inching a little further away from the cursing head.

The cursing, decapitated head.

“WHAT THE FUCK!” Obito shrieks, jabbing an accusing hand at the head and shooting Kakashi a look that demands explanation. He pauses and looks quickly back, because his arm really is gushing blood, and at a very alarming rate. Even Sakura looks alarmed, quickly jumping away from Kakashi, but Obito lunges for the ground before she can grab him.

“Get off me, you motherfucker!” The head roars as Obito grabs it, because there’s no way Sakura can regrow that much flesh. The head had bitten and ripped off a solid inch deep into his wrist! If Sakura healed it like it was, it’d be a hideously deformed scar, all sunken in and disgusting, and he won’t allow that. He refuses.

“Give it back, you freak!” Obito demands shrilly, bracing the side of his foot against the head’s nose and grabbing its chin with both hands.

“FUCK YOU!” The head screams, gnashing violently enough that Obito fears for his fingertips.

“Like hell am I letting you mutilate me even further!” Obito snarls right back, prying as hard as he can with his entire upper body. He hears Hidan’s nose break under the side of his foot, but the head just snarls even louder at that. “I have enough scars already!” Obito screeches, fighting to hold the jaw open long enough to-

Sakura reaches down and punches the head so hard his jaw crumbles.

Obito hastily yanks his blood soaked hands back and looks at her in wide eyes, horrified and kind of awed at the same time. She plunges her hand into the bloody mush she’d made of the shinobi’s lower face, and-

...Oh my god.

Obito leans over and gags, because the bloody mashed face is still making noises, his eyes screwed up in fury, as Sakura pulls free his blood-soaked wrist flesh. “Oh god why did I decide to help you people.” Obito moans, and the gurgling noises get louder and somehow even angrier. “What’s wrong with your missions?!”

“No one in the world is qualified to answer that.” Sasuke mutters unhelpfully, looking as fed up with his team’s terrible luck as Obito is.

“I need to go clean your… chunk of flesh, I guess, off. Don’t bleed out in the meantime.” Sakura warns Obito before she shunshin's away.

“What the fuck.” Obito whimpers, the bloody head bubbling it’s angry agreement. He uncomfortably reaches out to tap it’s forehead, sucking it into kamui as fast as he can.

Then he exchanges a deeply traumatized look with Naruto, Beloved Godson is He, and then shoots Kakashi a betrayed one.

“I didn’t ask you to come here.” Kakashi huffs defensively, pale and still bleeding, but much slower now.

Obito just continues to glare at him, willing him to burst into flames of vengeance. He only stops when Sakura shunshin’s back to his side and wastes no time in smushing his own amputated flesh into the crater it had left behind.

“Oh, god.” Obito moans, and he refused to be embarrassed about the fact that he has to lean sideways and puke.

He’d just gotten parts of him eaten by a decapitated head.

He’s allowed to throw up.

 


 

They never speak of that mission again. Obito forbids it.


He kamui's them all to Minato’s office, all but throws the still gurgling mutilated head onto the Hokage’s carpet, glares accusingly at Minato for giving them so many fucked up missions, and leaves before anyone can rope him into discussing any part of it.

He kamui’s back to work, finishes up his small stack of paperwork that had somehow grown from three papers to fifteen, and blatantly ignores anyone who so much as glances his way questioningly.

As far as Obito’s concerned, it never happened.

“So that happened.” Kakashi drawls lazily from Obito’s couch that night.

“I will gut you.” Obito hisses.

Kakashi, of course, just gives him a lazily slow blink from over the edges of his stupid orange book. Obito makes a sound that’s admittedly close to a very pissed off cat and lunges.

He spends five solid minutes chasing Kakashi around his house before he manages to just barely brush against the book. Kakashi’s eye widens in horror as it’s promptly sucked away and flung out into kamui, hopefully to be lost forever. “Haha!” Obito crows, triumphant, and Kakashi freezes, staring mournfully at his suddenly empty hands.

“My book,” Kakashi whines pathetically and Obito huffs, looking at him sideways.

How his stone cold, bitchy little nine year old teammate turned into the man giving him the saddest, most soul crushing puppy-eyes he has ever seen, is something that Obito will never fully understand. “Stop it.” Obito commands.

The exposed eye gets even sadder.

“I won’t apologize.” Obito informs Kakashi, and-

Oh my god, is that a tear?

It is!

There’s a tear in the corner of Kakashi’s eye!

“Cut it out.” Obito says uneasily, refusing to admit that he’s feeling guilty.

He’s not.

He refuses to-

“...Fuck.” Obito curses emphatically, dragging himself into kamui and stomping up to the stupid, orange book, lying pathetically on open pages with one of it’s pages folded inwards. Obito snatches it up, reappears in his apartment, and nails Kakashi dead in the head with the damn thing.

“Thanks!” Kakashi says brightly, pulling the book from his ridiculous hair and smiling, not a trace of his fake tears left.

“I hate you.” Obito complains, glaring sullenly at the man.

Kakashi smiles shamelessly and warmly at him.

Too warmly. Suddenly, he’s hyper aware of just how close he’s standing to Kakashi. His bicep is lightly brushing the edge of Kakashi’s flak jacket, and with his head turned to face the white-haired asshole, their faces are barely a foot apart.

He hastily steps backwards so they aren’t standing so uncomfortably close anymore, lowering his gaze and feeling like his own brain is trying to recoil inside his skull. Obito turns away, blinking hard, and mutters vaguely about tea before he makes a quick retreat into the kitchen.

What the fuck, his brain all but screams at him, and he feels kind of like he’d just gotten punched in the face as he reaches up to absently snag the tea off the shelf. His mouth is dry and his heart beats just a little too hard in his chest, and Obito exhales a slightly shaky breath.

Obito might be slow, and he might sometimes be a little oblivious, but even he recognizes the sensation of attraction. Emotional and physical. It wasn’t like he didn’t feel them enough around Rin, after all, though obviously less so now on principle since she was married.

What the fuuuck, his brain repeats, and Obito frowns hard at the teapot as he sets it on the stove.

This, he decided, was something to give some serious attention to.

 


 

When they part ways that night, Obito heads to bed and ends up staying up all night brooding.

He can’t even deny it. He broods, which is a sure sign he’s been spending too much time at work. “Damn Uchihas.” He mutters, rolling over to press his face into his pillow.

Was he really interested in Kakashi?

He’s pretty sure, but it’s hard to wrap his head around it. When he tries thinking back, tries picturing when it started, he can’t pinpoint one specific moment. He’s always had warm feelings for the man - hell, he’s always loved Kakashi, though it had been a platonic sort. But he thinks it’s been growing. He can’t say for sure, because he’s a little biased now, but he’s pretty sure he’s been falling in love with the silver-haired asshole.

And he only just noticed.

Obito groans into his pillow and slaps both hands on the back of his head.

He feels like a moron.

Okay.

Okay, so. He’s apparently falling for Kakashi. But was he really? What if he was just feeling weirdly lonely, and tomorrow he’d wake up happier and realize he wasn’t, in fact, interested in Kakashi? What if he was, but got… bored of it or something? He’s never been in a long term relationship before. His longest one was two months, and then she’d caught sight of him getting out of the shower, and, well... It was hard to stay attracted to a body like his, to be fair. Even he was grossed out by it.

He literally had freaky discolored alien flesh splotched all over his body with scars from stitching all along the edges. And then the parts of him that had survived without getting replaced were just as rippled and scarred as his face was.

On the bright side, Kakashi had already seen most of his messed up body, so he clearly didn’t hate it too much if he was still in love with Obito.

Which was another point.

What if he wasn’t? What if Obito had taken too long? He was pretty sure Kakashi wasn’t dating anyone, but Kakashi wasn’t very open about that, so he couldn’t really say for certain.

Obito lifts his face from his pillow and takes a deep breath, rolling onto his back again.

“Damn it.” He thinks unhappily.

Too many questions and no answers.

He’ll just have to take things slow and assess the situation as he goes, then.

 


 

 

Taking things slow, in the end, is pretty much forced on him.

In that he literally loses any free time to spend any time with Kakashi anyways.

“I hate this.” Obito whines, dropping his head onto his arms. “I hate all of this. I hate everything. I wish I were dead.”

Inabi, the Mighty Uchiha Douchebag, just gives a distracted hum of acknowledgement at that. “Have you gotten to my vacation request yet?” He asks after a moment and Obito lifts his head from the mountain of paperwork consuming his desk to glare at the man.

No.” He says, very emphatically, and maybe he lets out a little killing intent because Inabi suddenly has very important business outside of Obito’s new office.

“I hate this.” He hisses out through his teeth, and once more tries to spontaneously develop amaterasu.

Unfortunately, Mangekyo eyes were limited to one super cool ability each.

Damn it.

His desk was smothered in papers, and it was a big damn desk. It was a big damn desk because it was Fugaku’s desk, unceremoniously passed down to him when the Uchiha Head literally dropped his dumb skirt thing on Obito’s desk last month and said, “Congratulations,” before shunshin’ing to freedom.

The man was smart enough that he hasn’t left his Manor once since then, spending all his sudden free time with his family in the safety of his own home.

Even Obito wasn’t rude enough to break into the Manor, or he would’ve.

“I hate thiiiiis.” Obito moans, burying his head in his arms again. He prays, no doubt in vain, for the paperwork to have magically vanished by the time he lifts his head.

No such luck. It’s still there, staring at him, mocking him.

He’d ask how Fugaku had ever handled such a ridiculously large flow, but he knew the answer. The man was a chronic workaholic and put in sixteen hour days at least four times a week.

Hell no.

“I,” Obito says decisively, already searching through the pile of bullshit on his desk for a blank sheaf of paper, “need an assistant. Badly.” He gives a small, irritated huff, almost immediately followed by a gleeful ‘aha!’ when he finally finds a paper he can work with.

It’s not blank, but it’s a stupid request for more blue ink in the printer. Like that needs paperwork, for crying out loud. Obito flips over the stupid paper and scribbles out onto the back of the paper, writing the name of every competent Chuunin he knows.

He’s halfway down the page when he pauses, leans back, tilts his head, and squints at the paper.

...Hm.

Obito stares a little longer, gears turning in his mind, and when he comes to a decision, he can’t help the grin slowly taking over his face. “Ehehehe. Oh, I’ll make you regret this, Fugaku.”

He hires Kō Hyuuga. Not as an assistant, but as an officer, and the sceptical Hyuuga hesitates at first - at least until Obito takes it a step further.

He hires Hinata as his assistant, who’s thrilled once he explains that it’s all for the sake of bringing the Hyuuga and the Uchiha closer together, we can end the strife between us, Hinata-chan! You and me!

Which is all true, and he really is enthusiastic about that - he just leaves out the part where he also gets revenge indirectly. And very, very smugly.

After that, Kō - Hinata's ever loyal shadow - doesn’t hesitate to join as well, though he’s still sceptical.

After that, Obito heads to the Inuzuka clan and spews the same filth about clan unity and breaching the distance the Police Force had with the rest of Konoha because of it being all Uchiha. It’s actually something he’s been very seriously considering for a while, which makes him feel less bad about the schmoozing. The Police Force hunts criminals, after all, and an Inuzuka would be unbelievably helpful with that.

He gets an Inuzuka with two ninken and an reluctantly impressed acknowledgement from Tsume for his efforts. He stops with those three, though, instead opting to open the Force to recruits from anywhere - civilian families, clan families, and everything between.

Fugaku emerges from the Manor for the sole purpose of trying to awaken his own amaterasu, judging by how hard he glares at Obito. Obito’s both genuinely proud and vindictively smug of his own efforts.

After a week, though, he seems to surrender to the idea. “I knew you’d change things, Obito. That’s why I chose you to be my successor. You’ve simply taken it farther than I’d expected.” Fugaku informs him as they watch the Inuzuka and Hyuuga pair get trained in how to properly investigate a crime scene. Hinata, while she’d joined as a secretary, still needed to know the basic procedures if she wanted to really help out around the office.

“Eh. It’s for a good cause.” Obito says with a careless shrug, already a lot more comfortable now that he has Hinata to help with the paperwork.

The still insane, ludicrous amount of paperwork.

“The civilians already see the Uchiha clan as their allies because of the work we do here.” He explains, frowning as he watches one of his Uchiha nudge Kō a little harder than necessary. “It’s time that the shinobi do as well.”

Fugaku pauses for a long moment and then arches an eyebrow. “So you make it so they can’t shelve all the blame for their comrades being caught as criminals onto the shoulders of the Uchiha clan?”

“Exactly. You rarely hear people simply hating on the ANBU in general, but if the ANBU were made up of all, say, Hyuuga clan members? No one would trust the Hyuuga. They’d compare all Hyuuga to ANBU and treat them as untrustworthy spies and assassins. But the ANBU isn’t made up of one clan, so they don’t hate a clan in general. We need to get to the same way. Sure, some shinobi will still hate the Police Force for digging up dirt on their comrades, but they won’t be able to hate the Uchiha in general if everyone else is involved, too.”

“Hmph.” Is Fugaku’s expert opinion on that.

Obito doesn’t mind the man being so unimpressed.

He’s the idiot who promoted Obito to begin with, after all. Now Obito gets to do whatever he wants.

 


 

 

Obito’s thirty-five, Team 7 is promoted to Jounin, and Kumogakure finally agrees to the treaty.

It takes the collective power of Haku, Itachi, Kurotsuchi, and Gaara - who refuses to surrender his status as Ambassador in spite of him becoming the Kazekage - to convince A to finally trust in them enough to sign on.

And so, after nearly four years of effort, they establish the Shinobi Union.

It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely a start. The Ambassadors of the Union, now consisting of Gaara, Kurotsuchi, Itachi, Haku, and Darui of Kumo, open negotiations with Nagato and his Shinobi Alliance, as they’ve been dubbed. So far, the Alliance has amalgamated with nearly every Minor Country, sans Tanigakure - who were obviously part of the Union - and Shimogakure. Yugakure hadn’t officially signed on yet, but they unofficially had already agreed to the treaty.

All in all, things were looking pretty okay in the Shinobi world.

They were also looking pretty okay for Obito, too.

It’s three months after his promotion (he’ll never forgive Fugaku), and Obito finally has enough free time to go hunt down his friends and catch up a bit.

Which is how he finds Kakashi creeping around in a dango shop, Asuma at his side. Both of them are staring intently at something, Kakashi’s eye narrowed to a slit and Asuma’s head tilted with a weird expression, like he can’t decide if he’s made a good decision or an outright terrible one. Obito ambles up to Kakashi’s other side, curious to see what’s captured their attention so thoroughly. He almost immediately pauses, staring incredulously.

“What are you, playing matc-” Obito starts to tease, except Kakashi elbows him harshly enough that his breath leaves him in a hiss.

“Watch.” Kakashi whispers commandingly, his eye narrowing even further, and Obito reluctantly stops glaring at him to watch the object of their interest.

Sakura sits across a booth from Shikamaru, absentmindedly sipping her tea while they both stare intently at the shogi board between them.

He watches, and he watches, and then he watches some more.

Sakura finally reaches out and moves a piece.

Kakashi makes a soft sound of interest, Asuma makes an impressed noise, and Obito’s completely confused.

“I’m sorry, what-” he starts to ask, nice and quiet this time, but Kakashi still elbows him. Obito elbows him right back, hard enough that the silver-haired man sways sideways towards Asuma, who inches away and frowns around him at Obito.

“She’s not losing.” Asuma whispers urgently to him.

“What?” Obito demands, still completely lost and now pretty irritated about it, especially since he has to sidestep another elbow jab. He shoots Kakashi a vicious look and the man sends him a judgmental one right back.

To think he likes him. Bastard.

“She’s not winning, but she’s not losing, either.” Kakashi informs him.

This is clearly somehow a big deal, judging by how disturbed Asuma looks and how narrowed Kakashi’s eyes are, but…

“I still have no idea what you’re talking about.” Obito informs them, looking back at the pair like it’ll reveal some clue to him.

Shikamaru slowly reaches out to move a piece as well, and Obito blinks, understanding finally inching its way in.

Sure, he’s never seen Shikamaru play shogi before - but he knows how fast the kid’s mind works, and for him to be taking so much time to deliberate his next move is… impressive.

“He’s never lost to either Kakashi or I.” Asuma informs Obito, which confirms his inkling of thought.

“He’s not going to lose to her, either, but… it looks like it’ll be close.” Kakashi admits with a frown.

Obito settles back in at his side, observing the pair for several silent minutes.

The two sit in complete silence, occasionally remembering to sip at their tea. Sometimes, Shikamaru will look up from the board to squint long and hard at Sakura, and anytime he makes a move, she’ll glance up at him and either smile or frown depending on how surprised she is by it.

Mostly, though, they just sit in silence and stare at the board.

“...You have the weirdest matchmaking tactics.” He informs Kakashi and has to retreat in the face of another jabbing elbow.

It gives Obito an idea, though. Not the weirdness of it, but the fact that he’s matchmaking at all. He drops in on Minato and Kushina that night and innocently comments on how much of a shame it is that Hinata’s so clearly in love with Naruto and the poor idiot boy never even seems to notice.

Sure enough, three weeks later, Sakura’s regularly meeting with Shikamaru to play shogi, and a red-faced Naruto drops into the police force to give Hinata a bouquet.

 

It takes five minutes for the poor girl to wake back up after that one.

 


 

In the end, it really sinks in a month later.

It’s nothing special, really.

He’s just sitting across from Kakashi and Rin, just the three of them for the first time in a long time, and they’re eating barbeque for lunch. Rin had chosen a corner table, tucked away in the back for extra privacy, so Kakashi has his mask tugged down and loose around his neck. He’s actually eating slowly for once, which is a good thing - the man was going to kill himself with indigestion eventually, Obito was sure of it.

It’s one of those nice little reminders, as well, of just how close they are. Kakashi doesn’t do that for anyone - not even Minato and Kushina, and definitely not for his once-genin team. But when it’s just the three of them, he tucks his stupid book away and lowers his mask like it’s nothing at all.

Obito doesn’t even remember what he says, later on. He reaches for another piece of pork and makes some stupid quip that has Rin laughing, and Kakashi looks sideways at her with a warm smile, and Obito thinks, adorable.

He freezes for a second. Then he pulls the pork back, chopsticks trembling slightly, sets it on his plate and pretends like nothing’s happened. Pretends like his heart doesn’t feel like it’s flip-flopping, spreading equal parts warmth and ache through his chest.

It’s what he used to feel whenever Rin smiled like that, and the thought kind of terrifies him. He still loves Rin, but it isn’t as… consuming, as before. He still loves her so much it hurts sometimes, but it’s also a distant, relaxed type of love, always present but only in the back of his mind.

The ache gripping his chest now isn’t like that. It’s like the old love, before he’d gotten used to the fact that Rin would never love him like that, where it’s strong enough to make it hard to breathe and harder still to think.

But there’s time for that later. So he grins when Rin nudges his foot, the silence stretching on too long, and launches into a description of Naruto causing Hinata’s latest fainting fit.

“Honestly, that girl.” Rin laughs at the end of it, shaking her head in dismay, and Obito grins crookedly at them both.

“One of these days, Naruto will learn not to spring things on her.” Kakashi muses and Rin laughs a little harder, because yeah right.

Naruto’s eighteen and a lot more mature than he used to be, but damn if that doesn’t stop him from being downright stupid sometimes.

When they leave, Rin’s the first to break away, because she lives on the opposite side of the Hokage Tower from Kakashi and Obito. When Obito shows no sign of heading from Kakashi’s side even after they pass his usual turn, the white-haired man arches an eyebrow at him. “Bar?” He guesses, since that’s usually what they do when they aren’t quite ready to call it a night yet.

“Eh.” Obito shrugs, forcing himself to be casual. “Maybe after. I wanted to talk to you about something first, though.” He explains, and some of his anxiety must show in spite of his carefully controlled voice, because Kakashi frowns.

“...Alright.” He says slowly, continuing in silence until they reach his house. He guides him into the living room, and promptly perches himself on the arm of his sofa, folds his arms across his chest, and frowns at Obito. He doesn’t ask anything, he just stares, eyebrow slightly lifted in silent demand.

Obito opens his mouth, hesitates, closes it again, and then squints intently at Kakashi.

What if the man wasn’t interested in him anymore? And why was he so damn hard to read? Couldn’t he give Obito a single clue to go off of here?

But no, that would obviously be too easy. All he gets from Kakashi is his eyebrow inching slightly higher, expression rapidly going from slightly worried to slightly irritated.

Obito swallows thickly, glancing nervously down at his hands, and tries not to feel like a gigantic coward as his heart flutters uncomfortably in his chest.

“Obito?” Kakashi finally prompts, and yeah, that’s definitely irritation in his tone.

Oh, what the hell. Actions speak louder than words, right?

Obito pushes himself forward, pulls Kakashi’s mask down, and kisses his brains out.

And Kakashi, the quick thinker that he is, freezes for only a split second before he returns the motion just as enthusiastically. He climbs to his feet, never once breaking the kiss, pulls Obito hard into him, and proceeds to completely blow Obito’s mind.

 


 

“Huh.” Obito muses, staring up at Kakashi’s ceiling with surprisingly energized eyes, considering everything they’d just done.

“Hm?” Kakashi questions, face pressed into the pillow next to Obito, and he turns his head just enough to peer at him with his normal eye.

“Nothing, I just…” Obito frowns softly, blinking at the fan lazily spinning overhead. “I feel like the mature thing would’ve been to not jump right into your bed. Or onto your dick.”

“Or onto your dick.” Is Kakashi’s mumbled response, closing his eye in apparent boredom with this conversation. “Can we sleep now?” He asks sarcastically, clearly intending to do that whether Obito agreed or not.

Obito kind of feels like running circles around Konoha, possibly while grinning like a complete moron.

“You sleep. I’m going to lay here and try to slow my heart rate down.” Obito tells the man, absently inching his leg over so he can press it to Kakashi’s.

It makes him feel giddy, which is not a word he’d ever wanted to use to describe himself, but it’s definitely true. There’s no denying it.

He’s apparently a hormonal teenager again, and it’s all thanks to Kakashi and his dumb face.

Well. That and his other body parts, to be fair. Credit where it’s due and all.

“Stop thinking. More sleeping.” Kakashi says almost incoherently, then when Obito only gives a distracted hum in response, he huffs out an irritated breath and lifts himself up. He only gets to his elbows, inching over so he can drape himself across Obito’s bare chest like a sloth.

It makes his breath catch in his chest, heart fluttering with stupid amounts of warmth and a hint of nervousness, and he can’t help his dumb smile as he sets his arm across Kakashi’s lower back.

“Your heart really is going crazy.” Kakashi notes tiredly, eyes still shut, and he absently drags an arm up to drape it over Obito’s right shoulder, further pinning the man in place.

Obito can’t help the soft noise of amusement that escapes him. It’s ridiculous, seeing the younger man acting so boneless and cuddly . Not at all what he’d expected from him, but all the more adorable for that fact. Kakashi’s breath passes lightly over Obito’s sternum, tickling faintly at the edges of his scarring, and he looks down at his stupid hair with a small, tired frown.

“...It doesn’t bother you?” He asks, immediately wincing at the nervousness in his own tone, but Kakashi just snorts softly against him, not even opening an eye.

“It’s weird as hell.” Kakashi informs him flatly. “So’s the rest of you. So what?”

It startles a soft, strangled laugh out of Obito, his throat surprisingly tight, and he nods once.

“Fair enough.” Obito admits just a little hoarsely, lifting his hand to wrap it around Kakashi’s upper back instead. He curls his fingers gently over Kakashi’s shoulder and basks in the sensation of having a warm body so close to his.

Yeah. His body was pretty weird, but so was the rest of his absurd life.

Obito’s thirty-five, and for once, he’s more than just pleasantly content - he’s actually happy. Thrilled, even.

 

...And admittedly still very tempted to pull a Gai and go flipping across rooftops while grinning like a maniac.