Chapter 8: A Change in Circumstances

The soft and rhythmic beep of a heart monitor echoed throughout the hospital room.

Naruto sat on a chair beside the bed that the Godaime Hokage lied in, her sheets pulled up to mid-stomach. She had been moved here a day after being put in the coma nearly two months ago. She was transferred here to be put on an IV drip so she did not die from malnourishment. The doctors said that her vitals were getting better. It was evident from her youthful appearance that the seal on her forehead had automatically repaired once it knew she was stabilized and healthy enough to withstand it. So it was a good sign that she could possibly be waking up soon.

Nevertheless, Naruto knew this world was cruel, and anything could happen.

However, that did not stop the hope Naruto held out that she would return to them sooner rather than later. Naruto held the previous Hokage's hand, rubbing the back of it with his thumb. He stared at her slumbering and peaceful face. He was smiling at her, but it was slightly crestfallen as he told her, "I think you have gotten enough beauty sleep Baachan."

Naruto's mind was soon drawn elsewhere, thinking if he had made the right decision on who he picked to go to Amegakure in order to protect Konan. His personal Anbu team would be fine and probably be way too much for even Obito, especially with Konan on their side. He did not need to send the other person with them, but he could not help but do so. The man needed to know who Tobi really was, and he would never believe Naruto unless it was proven. This was the best chance he had at discovering the truth, so the Uzumaki took it.

Naruto just hoped he did not end up regretting it.

Naruto stood, saying his farewells for now to his surrogate grandmother.

The Uzumaki had another old friend to visit.

\/

Tobi stood atop one of the tube like pieces of ruined building that protruded from the large lake around him. The heavy rain that had become a trademark of Amegakure did little to deter the Uchiha from his objective. Standing a good distance across from him was the former Akatsuki member Konan.

"I see you have no intention of telling me where you hid my Rinnegan." Tobi stated coldly.

Konan replied with a straight face, "I knew you would come find me eventually. I've been waiting for my chance to destroy you."

"Don't expect me to go easy just because you're a former member." Tobi said, "One question. What was it that convinced the two of you to betray me?!"

"…" Konan remained silent.

Tobi's Sharingan spun, his irritation at people's silence of late building his anger, "Do you truly believe that Uzumaki Naruto is really that special?!"

A small smile played onto Konan's face, remembering the man that resembled Yahiko. She quickly went stoic, knowing where she was. She extended her hand out as it started to turn into paper, "He is light personified. That's why everyone he meets carries the flower called 'Hope'!"

"Hah, you bare your fangs at me but you still wear that cloak. Perhaps you miss Akatsuki?"

"Akatsuki was founded by Yahiko. The red clouds on these cloaks are a symbol of the wars that rained blood down on Amegakure." Konan clarified, her body turning to paper, "You are just riding Akatsuki's cocktails. These cloaks represent justice to us. They don't belong to you. And the Rinnegan belonged to Nagato, a Hidden Rain ninja. His eyes don't belong to you either."

Konan created several paper shuriken and threw them at the Uchiha, "His eyes are our country's treasure!"

Tobi let the shuriken phase through him like they were nothing as he chuckled, "Hmhmhm… wrong on both counts my dear. I may as well enlighten you, since you're about to die."

His words made Konan fall silent.

"I was the one who spurred Yahiko to form Akatsuki." Tobi spoke, shocking Konan, "And… I was the one who gave Nagato the Rinnegan."

Konan's eyes widened, finding no words. She could not believe the man.

Tobi shrugged with his arms slightly bent outwards, "So really, I'm only taking back what was mine to begin with."

Konan said nothing, no longer wanting to talk to the man.

Her paper body began to change. The square parcels of paper that composed her body shifted, removing her legs and creating large wings to allow her flight.

Tobi saw this, but continued on with what he was saying, "You were just a foolish little girl who knew nothing. But now you're a foolish little girl who knows where Nagato's Rinnegan is hidden, and all I need to do now is capture you. Don't underestimate the eye powers of an Uchiha, child!"

Konan launched from her position towards Tobi and their battle began.

\/

Sakura walked into the Yamanaka flower shop, hearing the light ding from the bell above the door. She spotted Ino's mother just as she greeted her with the traditional flower store introduction.

Ino's mother, Yamanaka Ayaka, smiled brightly when she realized it was her daughter's best friend, "Oh Sakura-chan! How have you been?"

Sakura smiled back, eyeing the middle aged woman.

Ayaka was like a late-thirties version of her daughter, except her hair was a darker shade of blonde and her eyes were hazel in color. She wore dark purple pants and a matching long-sleeve shirt with the cuffs rolled back some. Over her base attire was a light green apron with several dirt smudges covering it.

"I'm great. How are you Yamanaka-san?" Sakura greeted back, walking up to the counter Ayaka stood behind.

"I'm fine deary, and for the last time just call me Ayaka. You make me feel so old otherwise." Ino's mother whined, continuing with, "So what can I do you for?"

Sakura waved off the flowers around them, "Sorry, nothing today. I just wanted to know if you know where Naruto is?"

"Naruto?" Ayaka repeated, the name coming up blank for a few seconds, before a light bulb popped up over her head, "Oh! You mean Hokage-sama!"

The Haruno smiled and nodded. She had not seen him ever since their mission to the Land of Snow and that really annoyed her. She had told herself that they would see each other more, but that did not turn out the way Sakura wanted. The Haruno had thought that Naruto would have made more of an effort to hang out with their friends and, most importantly, her. However, she was once again proven wrong, predominantly shown when Naruto did not show up to their get-together even after learning about it yesterday.

The Konoha 11 were greatly saddened when the man did not arrive.

Ayaka scratched the side of her head, not understanding the pinkette, "Well why did you come here to find out where he is?"

"Well I talked to Ino and she said that he comes here weekly from what you tell her. She only saw him here the one time you asked her to watch the store and she forgot what he had bought the flowers for, so I figured I would come here and ask you. I went to his office and his secretary told me he was not in, but she would not tell me where he went so I was hoping he had come here." Sakura told her before adding in under her breath so Ayaka did not hear, "The purple haired bitch."

"Well you're in luck because he just left a few minutes ago." Ayaka spilled, surprising the Haruno.

"What?!" Sakura exclaimed, putting her hands on the counter in anticipation, "Where did he go?!"

Ayaka looked around nervously. She did not think Sakura would react in such a way, "U-Um I don't know. I'm not a nosey person so I didn't really care."

Sakura mentally cursed, her hopes falling. She had forgotten that Ino had gotten her snooping personality from her father, the world renowned interrogator, and not her civilian mother. Aside from their appearances Ayaka and Ino had almost nothing in common. It was quite the anomaly.

"I may actually know where he went now that I think about it." Ayaka said quietly, not being a loud or outspoken person like her daughter.

"Really?!" Sakura's face got inches away from the elder woman, her hopes returning, "How? Where?"

"Well the type of flowers he always picks symbolizes gratitude, and is usually brought to cemeteries for a lost loved one." Ayaka said, remembering the flower the Rokudaime picked every time he came.

"Oh thanks soooo much Ayaka-san!" Sakura said embracing the woman in a tight hug. Ayaka was surprised by the sudden contact and just kept her arms at her sides.

The Haruno pulled back and made a break for the exit, bidding Ino's mother a goodbye as she went to find her old teammate.

Ayaka just stared at the girl's back as she left. She would never understand some ninja.

It was just a good thing the Haruno's parents were civilians, at least then she could bond with them whenever their families got together.

\/

Konan made it to land just as her Paper Angel Technique wore off, dropping her onto the concrete. She was heavily panting and her sweat was washed away by the rain.

"I did not think I would need so much chakra, but it's finally over.' Konan told herself in silent victory.

She had used all the time waiting for Madara's arrival to Amegakure to create a sea of six billion explosive tags to counteract the Uchiha's time and space technique he was so keen about. They had done their job splendidly. Madara had only been able to remain untouchable for about six minutes like she had hypothesized, leaving the last four minutes worth of explosive tags to do their job.

Konan looked up, saying to herself, "Madara must be-"

"Dead, right?!" A dark voice questioned directly behind Konan, sending a chill up the female's spine.

Konan said nothing, her shock at the man's survival silencing her. She could barley move her body, so she knew she was at his mercy.

The right half of Tobi's Akatsuki cloak and the black long-sleeve shirt he wore underneath, which covered his upper body, was blown off. His right arm was still intact but the exposed skin was severely burnt. The most notable damage was the state of his spiral mask. The entire upper half of the orange covering had been blown off and it was a miracle the thing still clung to his face. The broken part of the mask reached up to just below his eyes, exposing them and their three tomoe Sharingan.

"I took you too lightly." Tobi growled out, "You were one of the original Akatsuki members after all. But to think you could do this to someone like me."

"How? You should be dead!" Konan realized her time on this world would be short, so she had to know how the bastard survived, "I went over this plan, and did countless simulations. It should've worked. It should have killed you."

"Izanagi!" Tobi told her just as his left eye began to shut, blinding him in that eye, "The forbidden Uchiha technique that has the power to connect illusion and reality at the cost of the eye losing its light permanently."

Konan could not believe such a technique existed, but then again she had seen Nagato's powers so it was not the most farfetched thing. Konan slowly turned her head to look at the man over her shoulder. She was losing consciousness and just as she was about to pass out she asked, "What the hell are you?!"

Tobi watched her body fall onto the ground with a thud. He did not care. All he had to do was look into her mind to find out where Nagato was located so he could get his Rinnegan and then kill her.

Tobi reached down for Konan, eager to get back his possessions.

The sound of a thousand chirping birds caught Tobi's ear and forced him to dodge the incoming attack. The Uchiha moved backward, toward the noise, letting his attacker phase through him as he jumped away once the assailant went all the way through. Tobi landed on the waters near the land, eyeing this new arrival.

Obito was not surprised to see the man that had for so long plagued his nightmares, having heard that attack before, "Hatake Kakashi!"

\/

Sakura arrived to the cemetery to find her Hokage standing in front of the tombstone of the Sandaime. She stared at his back in slight awe. It was nighttime and slightly windy, so the man's cloak was slowly waving in the breeze. The scene was serene. It captivated Sakura for a few moments as she thought to herself, 'When did Naruto's shoulders get so broad?'

She was surprised to see him here to say the least. The Haruno had never known that Naruto and the Third Hokage were this close. Sure her, like many others in her age group, were devastated when they discovered the Third's death. However, they never came to see the old man's grave, as far as she knew. Hell she had only visited the grave once since his death and that was only after she started training with the Fifth, and Tsunade came to pay her respects. So to see Naruto of all people here was surprising. The Haruno then remembered what Ino's mom had said, and she realized Naruto had been coming here on a weekly basis.

At this point she wanted to know what was going through Naruto's head, so she walked up to the man, trying to conceal her presence as his back was to her.

She did not make it far before she heard Naruto's say, "It's good to see you Sakura-chan."

The Haruno hid her shock at being so easily discovered as she walked up to the man.

He turned to look at her, smiling. She held out her arms and Naruto realized she wanted a hug. The Uzumaki blushed and was thankful Sakura did not see it as he embraced the girl for a short moment. The intimate action went unnoticed by Sakura, because she saw it as nothing but a greeting between good friends.

They pulled back, their arms dropping to their sides.

Sakura smiled brightly, punching him lightly in the bicep, "I'm getting tired of having to ask how you have been, Naruto."

Naruto smiled solemnly, knowing she was talking about how much time it had been since they saw one another. He rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. No matter how powerful he became, or how old he got, Sakura always had a way of making him feel like a child who was caught with his hand in a cookie jar.

He figured when you loved a person like the way he did for her, the feeling was common. He gave her a toothy grin, "Sorry. I have just been really busy. Preparing for war and all that."

Sakura took the last bit gingerly, her smile faltering at the mention of war. It was an inevitable outcome with Akatsuki still roaming about. She could not even imagine how much pressure Naruto had on his shoulders, being the leader of the Ninja Alliance as well as the main target of the organization they were going to war with.

Sakura was a moment from saying something encouraging, like how she would protect him from Akatsuki, which she would. However, she was a good enough friend to see that Naruto did not want to talk about anything Akatsuki, or war, related. He probably came here for more than just paying his respects. This was probably a means to get away from it all, so she would not take away his small moment of peace.

She wrapped her arm around his and turned him so they stood side-by-side, facing the Third's grave. She stared at the tombstone, while Naruto's curious look went from her to the grave. She kept her grasp on him, thinking nothing of it. Naruto on the other hand got a little redder in the cheeks, feeling the heat from the girl's body that was warming up his arm.

Sakura spoke softly, "I miss him."

Naruto knew who she was talking about. His embarrassment faded as he stared at his grandfather's tombstone with a sad smile, "Me too."

Sakura looked out the corner of her eyes at the Uzumaki, trying to analyze his face. She had been coming increasingly aware of the man's sexual appeal, mostly due to Ino and Tenten's constant blathering. She had not been affected at first, only seeing him in a brotherly light. However after hearing her girlfriends' detailed and explicit descriptions of him, it would be a lie to say she did not think he was good-looking.

A small red tint appeared on the cheeks of the emerald eyed Haruno as she realized she was staring. She shook her head hurriedly; glad all of Naruto's attention was on the grave in front of him. She looked back to the Third's grave, telling herself, 'Stop that. He is your best friend and more like a brother. You love Sasuke-kun.'

Sakura felt the silence that followed was a bit awkward because of her previous thoughts, when in actuality it was not. However, she felt she needed to say something, so she said the first thing that came to mind.

"He would be proud of you."

Naruto's eyes widened, but he did not divert his attention from the stone tablet. A genuine smile crossed Naruto's lips.

Sakura saw this and was elated that her words had affected him in such a way.

The following silence was a lot more pleasant.

Some time passed and the two enjoyed each other's presence. Sakura wanted to talk to Naruto a lot more and learn what her best friend had been up to, but did not want to interrupt their peace so she remained silent.

Naruto made it easy on her, speaking first, "Sorry for not showing up to the meeting yesterday."

It took a moment for Sakura to understand what he was talking about. Remembering about their get-together, the Haruno waved him off, saying, "It's fine. I'm just glad you know about it now. It's not that important, just something to do so we can all get to know one another better."

"That's very important Sakura-chan." Naruto corrected her, his eyes shifting to meet hers, "I will definitely come see you guys eventually, but right now I-"

The pinkette put her finger on Naruto's lips, smiling, "It is fine Naruto. There is no need to for you to explain yourself. I know you will show up when you can."

Naruto's smile returned as Sakura's finger left his face.

"How about this." Sakura started, before saying, "After you win the Hokage Vote, which I know you will. We celebrate. All of us."

Naruto's smile widened. Part of him, the stern and militaristic Hokage side of the Uzumaki, told him not to indulge in such activities. He had a village to run and one event, no matter how monumental it would be for him, should not stop him from performing his job to the best of his abilities. However, the Naruto of old needed this. He had become disconnected with his friends, save for a few, over his two month tenure as Hokage. Naruto was becoming more work prone, like the guide had said could happen if the person did not have a strong enough personal connection with others. The Uzumaki could see this and knew he had to relax and have fun when the opportunity arrived.

He smiled warmly at his beloved, "Deal."

Sakura's smile grew, "Great!"

Sakura was silent a few seconds before the main reason why she had come looking for Naruto popped into her head. Her realization was evident from her expression as the Uzumaki stared at the girl in confusion.

"Sasuke-kun was at the Kage Summit!" Sakura exclaimed, surprising Naruto.

The Rokudaime had only told the elders of the Uchiha's surprise attack, and he had made Neji and Sai swear upon their silence. He grabbed her shoulders, startling the Haruno at the sudden action, "How do you know that!"

Sakura opened her mouth to tell him about their get-together the previous day.

Neji's head rocked back and forth in lightheadedness as the room spun around him, the amount of alcohol he had consumed so far taking its toll. There was a deep red across his cheeks, showing his intoxication.

The other members of the Konoha 11 sat around him, eyeing the Hyuuga with anticipation. The others had hoped Naruto would show up after he found out about their meeting, but their anticipation were dashed when Shikamaru arrived and told them about the Uzumaki's current obligations.

Most of them had wanted to know about the Kage Summit more in-depth from what Naruto had announced to the village and this had been their one opportunity to get it from the main source. However, their hopes of discovering the truth had not disappeared just yet because one of Naruto's bodyguards was there with them. The only problem with that was Neji's adamant demeanor regarding the summit.

It did not take long for them to come up with the idea of getting the man drunk. They had been sly about it, slipping him drinks. Tenten had been the one doing the most work, making sure her friend had been keeping up with her. The others chatted with one another, making it seem like they did not care about the information Neji held while Tenten played the sacrificial lamb, drinking as much as her teammate to make it seem like it was not that much. Before long Neji was in the state he was in while Tenten had passed out.

Once the others saw Neji's hazed state they began asking him simple questions that pertained to the summit. He answered them and the others started to believe they had heard everything there was to know just from Naruto's announcement the month prior when he returned.

However, everything changed when Neji brought up something entirely unknown.

Neji's eyes were shut as his head lurched forward, and then back, before he said, "That was, um, hic, until Sas…Sasuke showed up, hic!"

The Hyuuga's eyes shot open as he slapped both hands over his mouth, immediately realizing what he had just let slip. At first he had believed he had only thought it to himself, but from the shocked looks of everyone around him, he knew he had fucked up.

Tenten remained passed out, unaware of the bombshell that had just been dropped, mumbling to herself, "But I don't wanna be a panda, hic!"

"You have got to be shitting me…" Naruto deadpanned, his eye twitching in irritation. They had gotten Neji to spill the beans by getting him drunk. The Uzumaki thought to himself, 'Un-fucking believable.'

Sakura fidgeted nervously within Naruto's grasp, realizing she might have put herself in trouble for discovering something that was meant to be kept a secret.

Her worries were alleviated when Naruto let her go and sighed heavily, saying, "Well there is no point in getting worked up about it. Hell I'm surprised it remained a secret for almost a month."

The blue eyed Hokage glanced at Sakura, "I can go ahead and assume half the village knows by now since Ino was there, correct?"

The Haruno nodded dumbly, not getting the joke. Her mind was elsewhere. They had been able to get from Neji that Sasuke attack the Kage Summit, but no details followed, leaving them without a leg to stand on.

Sakura saw her chance to know more and took it, "So what happened? Why would Sasuke-kun attack the summit?"

Naruto diverted his glance from the pinkette, staring at the Third's tombstone, "He apparently joined Akatsuki and came to capture me."

Sakura's green eyes widened at this news, her heart dropping and her stomach churning. She could barely even get out, "W-What are you talking about? Sasuke-kun would never do something like that!"

Naruto's eyes slightly furrowed at her delusional words. It was one thing to forgive the Uchiha for his actions. It was another thing to foolishly deny the reality of what he had done, or tried to do. Naruto's eyes shifted to meet Sakura's, as he said with a slightly angered expression, "My mistake. I meant to say he came to kill me! At least that's what I think he wanted to do from what I heard him shouting."

Sakura blinked really hard as the man's words registered through her head, and her delusional state eased. She loved Sasuke, but she also loved Naruto in a brotherly kind of way. It was that feeling for the blonde that knocked her out of her stupor. Her expression softened as she spoke up clearly, "I'm sorry Naruto. I should have asked if you were alright."

Naruto's head snapped back to the grave, his annoyance still there, but slightly lessened, "Of course I'm alright! It's whatever."

She grabbed his hand softly, gaining his attention, "It's not whatever Naruto! You don't have to shoulder this burden by yourself. I'm here too. Don't leave me behind like Sasuke did."

Naruto mentally cursed at the girl's underhanded tactic of guilting him for something the Uchiha had done. He knew she had him though, causing his anger to disappear as he looked into her green orbs, "Sakura-chan, you know I would never do something like that."

Sakura smiled sweetly at the blonde's words, "I know."

She let go of his hand as she looked away, in her own thoughts about Sasuke. So many questions plagued her mind. Why did Sasuke attack the summit? Why did Sasuke try and kill Naruto? Where was Sasuke now?

Was Sasuke beyond the point of return?

That last thought left a nasty taste in Sakura's mouth, but she did not say anything. She remained silent, falling deeper into her own depressive ideas.

"Can I ask you something Sakura-chan?" Naruto suddenly said, awaking Sakura from her thoughts. Naruto wanted to redirect the topic from the Kage summit, not wanting to go into any more detail about the incident.

"Of course. Go ahead." The Haruno said a little quieter than she would have liked.

Naruto eyed the Chuunin for a moment before saying, "Be honest with me. If the circumstances should arise, where Sasuke forces my hand and I have to kill him. Will we still be friends?"

Sakura's eyes widened as she stared at the Uzumaki's face. What kind of question as that. Of course they would! The Haruno opened her mouth to tell him that, but stopped as her mind slowly processed what the world would be like without Sasuke in it. She could not think of such a thing, showing that she could not live in a world without the Uchiha. Her words died in her mouth, even after seeing the expression her blonde teammate gave her. She loved Naruto, but she loved Sasuke more. Because of this, she became conflicted in her feelings, leaving her to say, "I don't know Naruto."

The Sixth Hokage closed his eyes, sighing through his nostrils. He had feared where her feelings still lied. He did not let it get to him. There was still hope. There was a possibility that his words had reached Sasuke during their battle near the end, and if they did then this issue would never have to be discussed upon.

Naruto turned his attention back to the pinkette, who stood there while feeling a little uneasy. He went on to ask another question, "Well what if the circumstances changed, where Sasuke returned to the village. What then?"

Sakura looked at Naruto slightly confused, wondering where he was coming up with these ideas. She thought about it nonetheless. She stared at Naruto's expression for a moment, seeing the downcast way he looked at her. She understood his feelings. The two had been very separate as of late, and the return of Sasuke would make their interactions almost nonexistent. The moment Naruto had asked what would happen if Sasuke came back, Sakura's mind was instantly full with things she would want to do with the Uchiha.

The Haruno immediately regretted thinking that, wanting to be a better friend for Naruto. Her smile returned as an idea came to her.

Naruto's heart slightly fluttered for a moment when he saw Sakura smile.

"How about this!" Sakura started excitedly, "Once a week, on the same day and time, when I'm not on a mission, I will come to your office and we will have lunch together. This way you can keep working and still have a meal to eat, while we get to catch up and see each other. It won't be anywhere near the same amount of time we used to spend together, but this will be something!"

Naruto's smile slowly returned, the idea sounding better and better as he kept playing it over in his head, "That sounds perfect!"

"Great!" Sakura smiled brightly before seeing the position of the moon in the sky, "Crap! I have to get home or my mom is going to give me so much flack for not helping her with the groceries."

The Haruno turned and began jogging away as she waved to the Uzumaki, "Later Naruto! I'll see you soon!"

Naruto waved back. When you were in the presence of the Hokage, you waited to be dismissed, but Sakura was a close friend, so Naruto did not care about the informal way they interacted.

Naruto attention was drawn elsewhere as he turned away from the Sandaime's grave, "You can come out now."

Sai appeared on his knee with his head bowed, stoically saying, "Hokage-sama."

"At ease." Naruto waved the boy off.

Sai's usual smile appeared as he stood.

He remained silent for a moment, prompting Naruto to ask, "What can I do for you?"

"I was just wondering…" Sai began, eyeing his Hokage as the man turned away and stared at the place Sakura had left, "Do you love Sakura-san?"

Naruto's expression did not change, "Was it that obvious?"

"You exhibit similarities to this book I am reading about love." Sai informed the man, before asking, "Why have you not told her?"

Naruto smiled solemnly, cuffing his hands behind his head out of habit, "How can I? I'm a guy who can't even keep his promise."

It took a moment for Sai to remember the promise Naruto had told the art user he had made to Sakura years prior. Sai did not really understand why Naruto tried so hard, never being in love with someone the same way the blonde did. However, he did ask, "So if you do keep your promise and that shit-for-brains traitor somehow returns… will you tell her then?"

Naruto ignored the man's derogatory terms when referring to Sasuke, and thought about his question.

The Rokudaime Hokage instantly knew his answer.

"Yes."

\/

Kakashi gazed through the heavy rain, eyeing his opponent dangerously with his exposed Sharingan. He could see the damage the man had sustained from his battle with the fallen Akatsuki member beside him. The Hatake made his way over to the blue haired woman, being cautious and watching the enemy.

He made it to Konan and checked her pulse. It was faint, but he could feel one.

The four Anbu from Naruto's personal guard landed around the Hatake. Kenta, the one with the most medical knowledge among them, walked up to the woman and began administering first aid.

The rest of them turned to the fake Madara as he made his way towards them, taking a slow pace across the wavering water.

Tobi knew that his best bet at staying alive was to retreat back to his hideout and merely come another day. However, he had waited long enough to get back the Rinnegan. That, and Amegakure would be more prepared from this day onward for his return, which did put him at a disadvantage. Plus he knew Naruto would do the unacceptable if it meant keeping his village out of harm's way, so Tobi would not be surprised if Naruto destroyed the eyes after this incident. Tobi had to retrieve his eyes now or he might never get them back.

Tobi was closing in on the Anbu group when they made their move.

Kenta kept healing Konan while Kakashi and Natsumi stood side-by-side in front of them. The first to act was Peacock and Armadillo as they rushed forward, running across the waters with the speed of elite Anbu.

Izumi began doing hand seals, creating a Genjutsu.

From Tobi's point of view, the two figures running at him shimmered and distorted. The Uchiha's single Sharingan eye instantly saw through the Genjutsu, dispelling it.

The two Anbu members came at the man from both sides, their small swords drawn. One attacked low, the other attacked high. Neither of them made contact as their weapons phased through the man as if he was not really they. When their weapons had fully passed through him, Tobi grabbed hold of their shoulders.

'Two down.' Tobi thought to himself as a whirl in space began to form with his right eye being its centre. He was moments from pulling them into his own dimension when he caught glimpse of a lightning attack headed his way from the shore. Tobi did not have the time to pull them any further so he cancelled his Jutsu and let go of the Anbu. The two jumped away just as the tiger-like lightning attack was upon the masked man. He reversed the chakra flow to his feet, causing him to sink into the water unexpectedly fast, dodging the attack.

There was a silence in the air as Kakashi's lightning attack went into the distance before disappearing. The four looked around, trying to find their target.

Tobi's head peaked out the ground just behind Kenta and Konan. His body continued to materialize out of the concrete as everyone else's attention was on the crashing waters, awaiting his emergence. When his body was fully surfaced, Tobi reached for the back of Kenta's neck. He was a hair's length away from grabbing the Anbu when he was forced to use his Kamui, allowing the kick that would have knocked his head off to phase through him. His hand went through Elephant's neck and body, alerting him to the man's closeness.

Tobi looked over his shoulder, his lone eye spinning when he saw the female Anbu that had been standing next to Kakashi from the start in midair, her leg still hovering from her previous attack.

"Nice eyes." Tobi commented, even though the woman's mask hid her features. The Sharingan wielder turned on his heels, grabbing the woman by the throat with his unharmed hand. Just as he did so, Kenta spun too, unsheathing his weapon and aiming for Tobi's side. The weapon phased through him like the previous attacks.

Kenta's eyes widened from behind his mask when he saw that his attack did nothing because the masked man was still holding Bear up when he did so.

Tobi made himself solid and bent forward, bringing his leg back and kicking the large Anbu away. He felt Bear grab hold of the arm choking her with both her hands, but did not think anything of it. The space around Tobi began to distort once again as he tried to pull Natsumi into his realm. However, he was forced to abruptly stop when he heard the faint hissing of an explosive tag. He cancelled his Jutsu before he could capture the Anbu member. Tobi saw the two tags the Anbu member had placed on his arm. He let go of Natsumi and dematerialized, the explosion doing nothing to him. On the other hand, Bear was forced to take the full brunt of the explosion, being so close to its proximity. She crossed her arms to lessen the impact, but was still sent flying with smoke trailing off her body.

Daisuke caught the woman and put her down gently. She gained her bearings and pushed him away, saying she was fine.

Tobi scanned the area, realizing there was a body missing. He mentally cursed when he realized one of the Anbu members had concealed the missing person with a Genjutsu. He expelled it too late as Kakashi grabbed the man from behind, putting him in a full-nelson.

"Now!" Kakashi ordered.

Tobi was not impressed when he saw Daisuke and Izumi running at him. He merely made himself and Kakashi intangible, and waited for the two to phase through them.

Peacock went high, aiming to punch the man's face while Armadillo had gone lower, his sword posed for the man's stomach. The two Anbu members went through them just like Tobi foresaw. However, the most unexpected thing then happened. Tobi felt what remained of his mask beginning to crack as pressure landed on his face, like the punch had actually hit him. His stomach was also set ablaze as he felt something stab into him, even though the sword had at first glance gone right though him. The force of the attacks sent Tobi to the ground and out of Kakashi's grasp.

Kakashi was sent the opposite way, grabbing his side with one hand and his face with the other. Izumi and Daisuke went to the Hatake's side, making sure that he was alright.

They saw the way Kakashi's Sharingan had changed, now in its Mangekyou form. His head dropped, bearing through the pain as his eye became dull, realization hitting him, "So it worked."

His words carried more weight than it appeared.

Tobi got to his feet and jumped away, his hand covering his face as the last of his mask crumbled away. His Sharingan could be seen through the cracks of his fingers. The man looked angered as he yelled, "How?! How did you hit me?!"

Kakashi made it to his feet, allowing the two Anbu members to hold him partially up. Kakashi's gaze slowly met Tobi's, "We had been watching your fight with Konan to discover your abilities and any of their weaknesses. We were able to exploit some of them, but even then it was quite difficult to find a way in harming you. However, I noticed that our abilities were extraordinarily similar. So I became the sacrificial lamb to see if our techniques corresponded. Seems I was correct. Isn't that right, Obito?"

There was a short silence before a low and deep chuckle began. Obito's body shook as his laughter grew louder, until it was near hysteric. Obito swung his hand from his face and away to the side, his mutilated face appearing as his laughter reached new heights. The left side of his face was fine, but the right side of his face had heavy wrinkles that had formed from the pressure of the boulder that had crushed his face all those years ago.

The crazed display kept everyone quiet.

The Uchiha slowly calmed himself, his laughter turning back into a dark chuckle, "So the great Kakashi finally figured it out, huh. I have to say though; I'm kind of disappointed this is all you can do with Kamui, the gift I gave you."

Kakashi remained silent, his worst fears having come to life before his eyes. He felt sick and did not want to speak as he gave the man a saddened expression.

"You should be thankful. Kamui's dimension is quite the asset nowadays, since we are the only ones with its ability." Obito said, a sick smile crossing his lips, "Now that the Uchiha clan is virtually nonexistent, that is."

Kakashi ignored the man's words, his shaking red eye meeting Obito's. The Hatake asked weakly, "Why?"

Obito scoffed. Kakashi did not deserve to know, so he did not answer him. The Uchiha would let Kakashi fester in his own misery. Obito knew the predicament he was currently in and trying to get through all of the adversaries currently in front of him would be foolhardy, especially with the fact that Kakashi could not counter his intangibility. He could surely outlast Kakashi's use of Kamui, but doing so would be hazard and could get himself more hurt than need be.

Obito knew when it was time to retreat, so he did not waste any time doing so. Kakashi was too distraught to do anything for the moment, and the Uchiha would not pass this opportunity up. The space around Obito began to spiral, sucking the man into his altered dimension.

Obito's laughter made Kakashi understand that this was all the more real, "Until next time, Kakashi."

The man disappeared before the other could do anything.

Peacock turned her attention to Kakashi, "What the hell man?! Why didn't you use your Sharingan thingy to stop hi-"

She stopped short when she felt Kenta's large hand on her shoulder. She glanced at the man and saw his masked face shake, silently telling her to stop. She sucked her teeth, but did not say anything further as she let go of the silver-haired man.

Kakashi kept his head down while Daisuke continued to hold up one of the men he considered a hero, feeling terrible from the state the Hatake was in. The blue haired boy did not know the story behind Kakashi and Obito, but he could tell it had a big impact on the man.

Kenta walked over to Konan, making sure she was still alright.

Bear saw the state Kakashi was in, and decided it would be best to rest within Amegakure instead of trying to return to Konoha.

"Grab the woman and let's get to the nearest hospital. We will stay in Amegakure for the time being." Bear ordered robotically, causing everyone to go about their business, no matter how one of the individuals felt.

Kakashi felt the full weight of his body as the youngest of the Anbu members let go of him. The Hatake looked up at the area that Obito had once been at, his mind racing. Kakashi needed to talk to a certain someone about this, even if that person had not looked at him for almost two months.

\/

Obito slammed into a desk in his personal living arrangements within Akatsuki's hideout as he emerged from the spiral of his technique. The man cursed, not realizing how much damage had been done to him. He pulled his body up with the one arm he had atop the desk. He grabbed one of the scattered syringes that lined the wood surface, a green substance thrashing about within the container. He managed to make it to the chair in front of the desk before tying an elastic rubber tube around his right bicep. He flicked the prick several times before finding the correct vein in his arm. After doing so he plunged the needle into his arm and injected himself with the substance. Obito pulled the syringe out and untied the rubber elastic, allowing the medicine to do its work as it flooded his body.

His charred arm began to heal itself while a portion of his chakra reserves returned.

Obito sat and let the medicine do its work for several seconds as he breathed heavily. Before long the Uchiha bent over and opened a drawer. The objects within it rattled about at the sudden movement. Obito pulled out one of the containers and eyed the object that floated in the blue substance. A fully matured Sharingan eye.

Danzou had gotten most of them after the Uchiha Massacre, but Obito had been smart enough to grab his own good amount for instances like this. The wizened Uchiha pulled the eye out and transplanted it into his left socket. He blinked several times, visibility returning to his left eye.

Obito dropped the container onto his desk and stood, going over to the wall full of masks somewhat similar and exactly the same as his usual one.

The Uchiha reached for an identical mask, but stopped when the earth around him began to shake. It was a short and weak rumble, but it was enough to alert Obito. He stretched out his senses and picked up the powerful chakra that was being thrown around. It was located where his army stayed.

Obito's expression turned to one of absolute hatred as he was pulled into his own realm, ready to kill anyone or anything that had harmed his army.

The Uchiha appeared in a large room a hundred yards below where he had been to see the Gedou Mazou statue, black flames sprinkled over its body. There were more patches of black fire that were sporadically positioned around the room. Obito's anger grew at the sight.

Obito clasped his hands together and reverse summoned the statue to another hideout. The statue had too much demonic chakra in it to be harmed by the flames of Amaterasu, so they would extinguish after a week's time. However, Obito knew he had more on the line to worry about at the moment.

The Uchiha was pulled into his own realm once more. He reemerged a level below, landing on the inch thin layer of water that covered the ground to the large room he was in. The water acted as a repellent to sensor ninjas so they could not sense any of the chakra signatures that lay dormant below. The liquid was also the only source of illumination, reflecting white light even though there was only darkness high above.

There was a single tree that stood tall atop the water. This single tree connected with all of the Zetsu below it through its many roots. Obito walked up to the tree and saw several spots blotted with black flames. The Uchiha began to shake with anger, his worst fears coming true as he reach out and touched the bark. An image of the underground level with hundreds of thousands of Zetsu appeared, all of them covered in a sea of black flames.

The sound of footsteps on water and thrashing chakra awoke Obito, making him turn around furiously.

Out of the shadows came Uchiha Sasuke in his normal attire and surrounded by a perfected Susanoo. In its complete stage, Susanoo's bow on its left arm had grown in size and taken on a more shield-like appearance. It right hand now held an orb made up of the black flames of Amaterasu. The layer of armor worn by Susanoo's final form had changed in appearance. Sasuke's Susanoo was now surrounded by a tengu-like layer of armor with jagged teeth around its hood, as opposed to the straight teeth of Itachi's Susanoo, and wore magatama earrings. The mouth of the armor took on a beak-like shape, giving it an even more menacing appearance. The skin on the right arm and right hand gained additional plating, which gave the appearance of skin peeling off, and the armor itself was more ghastly in appearance.

The darkness caressed the younger Uchiha's face in such a way that his Eternal Mangekyou Sharingan shined with power through his purple Susanoo. A combination of both his and Itachi's Mangekyou stared into the trembling eyes of Uchiha Obito.

"I know I cannot return to Konoha." Sasuke spoke with power laced through his voice. He did not care that Obito was too enraged to even register what he was saying, "Therefore I will sacrifice what I must in order to preserve its peace!"

Sasuke made a move towards Obito, his determination resolute, "Our cursed clan ends with us!"

\/

Author's Notes: Like I said, this chapter was going to be short to lead into the next one. Plus I wanted to leave that cliffhanger.

I may have made Obito a little more demented, but that is for story purposes. I don't intend to turn him like the manga has done, so I made him a little eviler.

The Konan and Tobi fight was pretty much the same so I felt no need in writing it out. Also, in the manga it was said that one had to have both the Uchiha and Senju blood in them to use Izanagi. That is not true in my story. Just to make you all aware, any of the techniques the Sharingan has can be unlocked in any Uchiha as long as they train enough and discover it. It will be explained upon when brought up in the story at different points.

That's it for now. Read and review. Later mates.

Jutsu Description

Izanagi (Man who Invites); S-Rank: When activated, the caster removes the boundaries between reality and illusion within their personal space in a Ninjutsu-Genjutsu collaboration. To a degree this allows the user to control their state of existence, but it is normally active for only the briefest of moments.

Kamui (Authority of the Gods); S-Rank: a powerful Mangekyou Sharingan technique that creates a unique and specialized form of space-time Ninjutsu. It allows the user to achieve two very distinct, yet closely associated feats – teleportation and intangibility.

Amaterasu (Heavenly Illumination); S-Rank: The jet-black flames of the Amaterasu, said to be as hot as the sun, ignite at the focus of the user's vision and are inextinguishable. The flames burn for seven days and seven nights and will turn virtually anything into ash.

Susanoo (He with the Ability to help by All Means); S-rank: an ability granted by the Mangekyou Sharingan to those who awaken the powers of both eyes. It creates a gigantic, humanoid being that surrounds the user. As one of the strongest techniques granted to those that have acquired the Mangekyou Sharingan, it is the user's guardian deity, but at the same time, it consumes the user's life.