The ground was wetly cool to the touch as if rain had recently broken the barrier between the sky and earth. His scarred skin braced against it, cheek digging into the strange soil that felt so lacking in something his fuzzy mind couldn't place. An unknown material scraped his palms as he slid his arms to try and lever himself into a defendable position.
Pushing off the hard ground made muscles protest with a fiery ripping, sending him crashing once more into the strange earth. Biting back the groan that wanted to leave him the Uchiha gritted his teeth and forced sore limbs to move. He couldn't stay face down on the ground. His instincts wouldn't let him; raging too loudly at how vulnerable the position left him to attack.
It took embarrassingly long to move his aching body to lean against the wall to his right, his lungs heaving with the simple effort. Scanning what looked to be a deep alleyway the Uchiha was grateful for the lack of any other presence. His situation was humiliating enough without an audience; an s-class missing-nin capable of taking on Biju, downed in the back allies of some civilian town. (It couldn't be a largely shinobi village, for the distinct lack of chakra signatures in the surrounding area was too great.
Abnormally so, in fact.)
Prodding at his own chakra stores, Obito found them lacking. Suitable to last him in a fight long enough to escape but no more than that; not nearly enough should a formidable opponent come.
Though if anyone with even a trace of chakra entered into his range of sensing it would be a bright beacon with how deprived of energy the area was. Even the very earth seemed to disappear from beneath him when he sent out inquisitive bursts of chakra.
But he still needed to move, staying in one place for too long would risk discovery more than he already had. He needed to move and get back to the base, back to Madara and Zetsu because he couldn't leave them on their own to... No, that didn't sound right; why didn't that sound right?
A hand went up to clutch his head, tangling in dry white locks while his mind blanked as to what had last occurred. The lack of moisture shocked him; if it had recently rained then why was he dry? And why couldn't he remember how he ended up in this strange place?
A flash of a field over pouring with hundreds of anonymous faces filled his mind, a rushing of confusion followed soon after. A flash of orange, blue the colour of the sky and a personality rivaling the sun. A smile, a grey eye. A mask, and purple marks on soft cheeks that he wanted to reach out and stroke but something too similar to guilt pulled his arm back. The images disappeared before he could fully grasp them.
His breathing quickened as he realized the gaping wound in his memories, the missing pieces that fall out of place in the puzzle around the time he felt himself wake up – his old self, the self that was all but destroyed under Madara's tender cares and that accursed seal.
The smells that met his nose due to the vicious onslaught of panicked breathes gripping his torso in spasms were all foreign. A thickness to the air that polluted his lungs and forced him to cough to rid his body of the stale presence.
Minutes passed with the only sounds distant and unimportant as they never seemed to come closer. It was then that he felt his limbs lesson in pain, his healing factor finally having kicked in – slower than normal, but everything in him felt sluggish.
The ach slowly disappeared and by the time he was able to remove his hands from their state of tearing at his hair the Uchiha's breathing had evened.
He needed to move. Find out where he was and then work from there.
Staggering to his sandal clad feet Obito leaned against the wall for support till his addled mind could find its balance. One step at a time he followed the rough building side to the exit he could barely see from his position in the darkness.
All the while pulling incessantly at the cloak of a wall blocking out the most recent events. The events that would tell him how he went from a world of shinobi and battles, with a war laid out at his feet of his own making, to this. How he went from fighting by the side of one Uzumaki Naruto, the boy who awoke a long lost part of him he thought buried and dead, to weakened limbs and stumbling muscles.
He needed to know so that he could go back, go back and help the shinobi alliance… yes, that sounded right. But so wrong at the same time, so wrong because the memories were rushing back, rushing like a damn had burst and the great whirlpools of Uzushio were raging in his very being.
A bright light swallowing, decaying, crumbling the very fibers threading his soul together. Untangling the strings that stuck his body to the earth as an existence and erasing their hold.
He should be dead.
He wanted to rage, to scream his questions to the sky as to why he had survived. He was ready, so very ready to die, to let the life force drain from him with the insurance that those he was leaving behind would not fall, could not fall. He was happy to perish in that moment, having stood beside those he called precious for one last time, having done something right before he said his goodbyes.
He was ready to see Rin once more.
Squeezing burning eyes shut the man stumbled another handful of steps, trying to deny the stain of wet tracks down his face even as they multiplied.
'Rin,' his mind begged, prayed, whispered, 'Rin.'
The ghosting of a gentle touch ran over his cheek, the scent of home covering the stench of this strange place. The fingers began tracing the path of his tears before finally the feeling of a hand cupping the side of his face with tenderness snapped him back into reality. A pair of eyes shot open wide, he knew that scent, knew those fingers – had felt them prodding at his wounds enough to recognize them anywhere.
"Rin?" His throat quivered out with a hopefulness that he would have never let his heart feel had it not been for Naruto. A hopefulness that burned bright for all of a second before sputtering back into an ember resting over his heart when there was no trace of the girl to be found. Only cracks in the foundation of the building he leaned on, the corrosive feeling of not-right air entering his lungs. Only the sound of feet hitting earth muffled by a strange roar that passed with a flash of brighter light from the entrance to the alley.
Gritting his teeth against the familiar, painful throb in his chest Obito stumbled across the last remaining portion of his path, leaning into the building and shadows to remain unseen to anyone walking past.
The sight that his eyes fell upon left him speechless.
Strange contraptions wheeled past at speeds greater than any civilian pulled cart he had seen, they were driven by no animal and yet they moved forward as if through their own free will. He sensed no chakra powering them. The few glimpses he managed to grasp of their insides as they passed showed people seated. The exterior shined, and seemed to come in an endless array of colours.
While many rolled across a peculiar black substance spread over the ground others were motionless, pulled up to what he presumed to be a pathway. Lighter in colour than the black road the wheeled machines pulled themselves across, and filled with a few scattered people; from whom he could not sense even a civilian level chakra signature.
As one strolled near his spot of observation Obito took note of the strange clothes these people seemed to favor wearing – certainly civilian in style, and looking to give minimal movement in a proper fight.
Glancing down at his own garbs he noticed their ragged appearance. Dried blood caked in spots, his pants were missing one leg from the knee down and the other had a large smear of brown dirt caking up the side. His shirt missing entirely. Not a look he would want to be caught in.
However, he would concern himself with that later, when he wasn't more troubled with what place he had landed himself in. It couldn't possibly be Kaguya's infinite genjutsu, if it were then his friends would be surrounding him, pulling at him and laughing. Dragging him along with smiles and cheer, tugging at his Hokage robes. If it were to be his perfect world then where was Rin, Sensei, Kakashi? If it were a genjutsu based on the knowledge he held then how would these unknown machines march through it with such precision?
The possibility that this sight was nothing but falsities drawn up from the basis of his dreams and hopes was too demeaning to think further on. Too painful, because it would mean he had made a mistake leaving Naruto and Sasuke to take care of their other-worldly threat. It would mean that the Child of Prophecy failed.
This wasn't the Mugen Tsukuyomi.
It was something else, something wholly different. A thing that he had played with before, and if events persisted, would do so again. It was an alternate dimension, a step across the streams of reality like skipping-stones thrown to the other side of a riverbank.
He needed to know where he was; what world he had managed to hop to through the dimensional rifts his eye somehow opened. And how he went from deadly impalement to light wounds. He almost groaned in annoyance at how slow his mind was working as realization hit him; he could simply make his way back through opening a door to his world. Or perhaps rest in his personal dimension to regain some strength before re-entering the battle.
A small, nostalgic smile tugged at his lips with such a thought; after all, heroes always did arrive at the last minute, right? Maybe he could truly serve his home properly if he allowed the fates to claim his life once and for all through such an act - like they were meant to when he took Kaguya's attack before he woke up here. (It would make everything so much easier for those that survive the war after all - because Naruto wouldn't stand for his execution should he survive, while the other nations would demand it.)
Maybe Kakashi would find peace.
Maybe Minato-sensei would forgive him.
The same brush of fingertips trailed across his shoulders and Obito whipped around faster than an eye could blink, sharingan spinning.
Nothing was there. His eyes narrowed, but he had no time to wonder at the obscenely familiar touches with the weight of an entire world resting on the shoulders of two young boys. No time to spend committing any further ministrations in this dimension, not if he wanted to catch his breath for even a minute prior to his grand entrance to his own funeral. Slipping silently back the way he came Obito stretched his now only mildly-sore body. The healing factor doing its best to right whatever wrongs his sudden and unexpected detour into an alternate reality constituted.
It comes as naturally as breathing to pool chakra into his eyes, allowing the organs to twist the energy and pull at the doors built from the very fibers weaving this universe together. He ignored the small rolling burn that came from doing so, but stored the information away for analysis on the matter later, perhaps explained by the strange thickness he felt from the rift he was opening to slip through. As if he was trying to drag himself over blood-soaked earth turned to mud. Nonetheless he swirled into existence within his world of stacked pillars and grey darkness. Relishing in the comfort that being in such a well-known place brought him – a safe place, his own place.
Taking a breath deep into his welcoming lungs that wasn't filled with the disconcerting pollution in the other reality calmed the last of his frayed nerves. Let him focus clearly on the situation at hand.
Settling on the ground cross-legged he centered himself, nudging tentative strands of chakra outward in a spiraling search for the correct dimension – he can't afford to aim wrong. And maybe this was taking precaution a step too far, but when the future of his home may rest on his ability to return he thought it was completely warranted. Not at all a result of a childish shyness at facing his old teammate again after such a sentimental farewell.
He found it easily – within one breath and the next. Drawing back the other strands from his spider web of chakra Obito rose with deadly grace to his feet. He paused then, because his chakra stores were low, low enough that he won't stand a chance against Kaguya and her rage at humanity. And even though the knowledge that going into this with his body in the state it was now he won't survive made the larger portion of him relieved, another, traitorous part of himself wanted to live.
If he were to look too closely at how easily that portion was squashed to sit next to his ember of hope resting like a scar on his heart Obito might find it terrifying.
He didn't look too closely.
Pushing chakra to his eyes once more and focusing on the last remaining strand connecting him to the very door he needed to push through the Uchiha took one final breath and activated kamui.
Or, more precisely, it felt as if he had been smashed into a wall by one of the Kyuubi's many tails and yet as he opened his eyes he found himself still in his own world. Staggering to regain the balance he lost from the unforeseen backlash of his jutsu, Obito rubbed at his aching orbs – a feeling they have not experienced since the integration of Senju cells.
Letting out a growl at the failure he pushes back against the door once more, his sharingans spinning as they lock more forcefully on the pathway to his home.
It hurts worse the second time.
Letting out a noise of frustration the white-haired man delicately tested the door that should be opening for his entry. It snapped back at him, a vicious attack against the chakra that demanded it give way.
He didn't know how much time passed. It was all irrelevant in his kamui world where there was no sun, no moon or stars to mark the ticking of passed seconds. Time acting as just another dimension that, if only he could grasp how, he could reach out and manipulate. If only – a wishful thought, one that Naruto no doubt would hold should he have known the full extent of Obito's abilities. One that the brash blonde would act on because he 'didn't want to ever say 'should have''. One that would willingly be granted for the fates have always loved the fools driven by their objection to giving up. But his powers were now restricted for reasons he couldn't determine. As if seals had been placed to lock him out and he had not been offered even a riddle for discovering the key.
All doors had been shut.
Only one was left for him to reach and open without protest from an ungraspable force. Only that one which communed to a world he did not know, did not want to know – if only due to a bitter revulsion based on biased standing, because he had placed that reality as a scape-goat for his own imprisonment inside of it.
He didn't stop trying, not until his eyes were bleeding and his body was convulsing with the pain it took to pull chakra into the pathways around his sharingans. And not even then. Not even then did he give up on that world opening its doors to him because Naruto wouldn't give up, and Obito had no right to do anything less when the blonde haired boy's life was on the line.
He didn't stop until his body collapses under him, until he couldn't draw on any more chakra for his reserves had been bleed dry for the first time in years. In one breathe and the next he was closing his burning eyes, pulled into darkness with the feel of a hand running through his white locks – the same that cupped his cheek and followed the tracks of his tears.
The very same that healed him when he was once a young boy with big dreams and bright smiles.
When his eyes pulled open the hands were gone, but he felt no pain for the first time since he woke in that strange world. No ach in his muscles, no lightening jolt in his eyes, no discomfort to taking in oxygen.
Anger was the first emotion that he felt after the rampage of denial. It twisted into frustration before settling on a resignation that had him lying flat on his back arms and legs spread haphazardly around him. The last strands of desperate hope pushed his mind blankly over ideas that were quickly discarded; theories too easily disproved.
One door was all that he had the ability to walk through.
If he were a lesser man then perhaps the state of inaction would last longer. If he were not the man woken from his own flaws by an Uzumaki Child of Prophecy the defaulted hate held for that world beyond the door would rule him. If he were anyone other than Uchiha Obito who raised an organization built with shinobi of all nations and wishes. Who was once a boy of Konohagakure, with the will of fire burning bright, and with the Fourth as his sensei. If he were anyone other than what his life and those experiences to the very end had made him.
This and curiosity. This and a daring hope that that realm would hold the answers to this mystery was what made his decision to open the door.
There was no thickness slugging along his body as he activates the jutsu, no feeling of having his chakra drag him into a river of mud. Instead a bizarre sensation as if a puzzle piece had finally snapped into place pervaded his being. Not unlike when he first activated his sharingan, where everything was finally clear and he could see; like a lost part of himself had finally slotted into its rightful position.
Obito whirled into existence in the same alley as he had exited this reality from, though the position of the sun was evidence that he had spent time from its grasp. Working logically from here was his only option; gather intel, then integrate himself into their society and become a ghost. That was his first mission, from there he can work out how to return, test and stretch his powers to their limits. If need required he could form a group much like the Akatsuki to gather information for him. He may have been enlightened by Naruto but he was still first and foremost a shinobi, a killer, someone to pay for jobs most wouldn't dream of completing through their own hands. And if his speculations were correct than, like any other society, this one runs using some form of currency to trade for goods or services. With that being the case he would require a job to live, to pay for food and shelter, to blend into the masses until he could escape.
The first act of his self-imposed mission was to pinpoint an area of research, while his clones – henged into various disguises – mingled into the crowded streets and listened in on differing conversation. And hopefully locate a nondescript job Obito could take on in order to gain a form of income, or even a place of residence that he could shelter himself in.
Finding a library was easy enough, the public and unrestricted nature of the institute only aiding in his plight. Sending out an army of disguised clones to read as much material as they could and gather as much intelligence on this world's history and contemporary living conditions as possible was even simpler.
By the end of the week he had established the general history of this world, the name of each country and the geography of this Japan that he had apparently landed himself in. Gone over much of what their recent events and leaps in technological advancements had led to, and though none of the feats they can commit were as far reaching as those produced with chakra some were extensively impressive. Cars, for example, being the primary mode of transport seemed wholly convenient and yet from what memories he had of their bulk and their inability to do much else than move one from location to location they were too single-tasked. Their apparent effect on the environment and air quality drew even more cons he surmised, remembering with a frown the way the air used to feel entering his lungs when he arrived in this reality – something he had since become used to. (He wasn't sure whether or not to consider this a good thing or not.)
By the end of two weeks Obito had uncovered the enter underground network of criminals running throughout the area, expertly recognizing those who were amateurs and those with true skill that he would have to look to for aid in building a false identity. By the middle of the third, his clones had already found a suitable working environment for him to take part in, as well as a fairly priced apartment to rent.
The wonders of clones would never cease to amaze him.
They had even managed to find a reliable criminal amongst the large network that would create a series of false papers and trails for him so that he could have an established background should he ever need it.
This constant movement and search for information had kept his mind off of the larger picture of his situation and what he had left behind. A nice distraction from everything he had committed in the past, as this dimension knows nothing of his crimes, his sins, his mistakes. A vacation in a sense, one that would end with him returning to a world where he was justifiably not welcomed – one that may very well be destroyed because he was too late getting back.
"You…n't…ink…tha…" the whispering of a soft voice caressed his ear, snapping him from his guilt-inducing thoughts and had him spinning uselessly in a circle. The voice barely there, and the words undecipherable, but he could pick it out nonetheless and he knew that voice, had spent years – a life time – dreaming about it.
The voice didn't come again, and he refused to acknowledge the disappointment welling inside of him, shoving it down harshly and continuing on to his destination.
The Uchiha entered the establishment with no genjutsu hugging his form; if he was to acquire false papers for identification then doing so in an illusion would only lead to him needing to stay within that genjutsu at all times. Something that was not only inconvenient and unconventional but also taxing on his chakra. If he were more skilled in seals perhaps then it would be an acceptable means of living, but as the only illusion based seal he knew was a simple forget-me, the dilemma still stood. That was not to even touch on the simple problem of genjutsu not functioning within the realm of digital recordings. Cameras and videos would not depict the illusion, instead show what was truly present. Something he had discovered through his study of the art while under the tutelage of his ancestor.
This was also the first time since entering the world officially that he had deactivated his sharingans, a disconcerting experience to say the least. But one he had no choice but to get used to should he wish to melt into the background unnoticed. Or, at least, as best as his scars would allow.
The building was a dingy place, connected to an old camera shop that smelled like mold and plastic. An older man with lazy eyes and a put-out attitude stared blankly into space from his position at a dirty counter near the back left of the shop. His mouth moving as if he were chewing, and as Obito came closer the sound of something wet being mashed between teeth became clear. Harsh lines wrinkled his face, and dark skin almost covered sunspots that danced under an emotionlessly hard gaze.
Reaching the counter the man looked up at him, eyes scanning his figure.
Obito nodded once, sharply.
"No contacts," was said tiredly in return, no annoyance present, simply the resignation of someone who had expressed a regulation countless times. Obito blinked in confusion at the man, who promptly pointed with a sigh to his left eye, "bathrooms down the hall and to the right."
Obito frowned but followed the instructions if only to comprehend what the man was speaking of.
The bathroom was even worse, a horrid smell of stale urine that the alcohol just couldn't cover up permitting the entire room. The walls stained a rustic yellow, and the overhead light giving a dull glow. But it had a mirror, however cloudy and scratched, which Obito could utilize.
Peering into the reflective surface he felt a full body shock when his eyes locked onto the sight of a purple orb with spiraling black circles expanding from the pupil. (One he would have seen sooner should he have ever bothered to form a non henged clone.)
His hands lifted of their own accord, forming the proper seal and letting his chakra freeze in his coils for all of a split second before pushing it outward sharply. His eye remained the same.
An event that should be impossible.
That was impossible.
Madara stole his rinnegan, took it from him, and in turn gave him Kakashi's eye – a fact he knows for certain as he had felt both his sharingans come to life when he activated his dojutsu. Unless, through some strange miracle, he manifested the bloodline himself – an improbability so great and only made more so with the fact he couldn't seem to deactivate the purple orb. A feat that was possible for those who awaken a dojutsu of this form; those who gain it through other means cannot, much like the sharingan.
Activating his sharingans now, to see if perhaps the genjutsu was stronger than he originally thought, he found that his left eye transformed into a layering of the two kekkai genkai. The rinnegan circles gaining tomoe, and the two colours coalesce to form an almost amaranthine tone. When he pushed more chakra into his eyes, forming his mangekyou, the tomoe disappeared and his pinwheel becomes overlain by rings of black.
Pulling his energy away from the pathway to his eyes the left returned to a deep slate grey, almost black, while his right retained the rinnegan's light purple.
He gritted his teeth at this; first it was the blocking of dimensional travel, and now this.
Only one test remained.
Tossing a kunai to his left Obito breathed deeply, a part of him hoping that nothing would come of what he was about to try, "Bansho Ten'in (Heavenly Attraction of All Creation)," a purposefully small amount of chakra pulled at his coils and he felt his left eye rush to meet the demanded course of action.
The kunai pulled back towards him and into his outstretched hand. He wanted to yell in frustration, in his lack of understanding and the layers of confusion and mystery piled upon his situation.
However, his priority was to cover the eye, in some manner, as he's incapable of deactivating it much for the same reason Kakashi could not deactivate Obito's gift to him. Slipping a genjutsu over it would do no good as it presents the same issues that he faced before with a full body illusion. That leaves bandaging the rinnegan until he can find a more permanent solution to hiding it - most likely an eye-patch. It may make him more noticeable, but taken from a different perspective it may lead the people of this dimension to not want to look at him for long, for fear of being rude for staring. Especially when paired with the entirely noticeable scars taking up half of his face.
Pulling out a roll of medical tape from his backpack Obito got to work. Wrapping the eye and part of his head at a slight angle to not affect his other orb. Once the process was complete he repacked his bag and left the stench filled room.
Surprisingly enough the man didn't even blink at the new cloth he adorned, only swiveled in his chair and heaved himself to stand with a muttered complaint of effort and what sounded suspiciously like incompetent customers. The click of a latch marked the opening of a box that was blocked from Obito's view by the man's larger form. The flash of something white in colour being thrown at him made his instincts tense like a coiled whip ready to spring and attack. But the trajectory was off for a weapon, too slow moving to be hostile in nature. What landed in his hands was a fabric square, with looping strings falling from its sides as if to tie.
"Wear it until you get a permanent one," the man explained flatly, vaguely gesturing to his own eye and nodding at the Uchiha, before waving a hand haft-heartedly for Obito to follow.
Obito watched in rapt interest as the man before him typed in information on a computer, his hands flying over the keys as Obito answers each of his questions.
He wanted to ask the man to teach him, because learning a skill such as this would only bring profit in the future. Not in the sense of selling his abilities out to the market at broad, but for the simple reason that should he need to create another false identity at some time in the future it would come in handy.
But… he had priorities at the moment, and he knew, on some level, that he could place the man under a genjutsu and extract all of this through shinobi methods. And he knew that using logic to explain his potential course of action here by claiming it would help him create a network of informants, and that it would keep him more anonymous were all lies in the end. But they helped cover up the slivering snake of a part of himself that despaired at the thought of being alone – being left out, an outcast. Despaired at the idea of using and abusing someone so easily.
The part of him that believed, above all else, in Uzumaki Naruto and everything the boy stood for.
But he wasn't Naruto, couldn't find the good in everyone - as the small actions of kindness reach out to warm the Uzumaki's heart, his closed off, perpetually guarded one felt nothing. He was a good judge of character but only in regards to manipulation and knowing just where to push, cut, threaten, humor, offer in order to guide a willing or not victim right to where he wanted them. Where Naruto saw friends, comrades, people to be saved, Obito saw pawns, cannon fodder, people to be used.
No matter how the blonde affected him this had yet to change completely.
Which was why he left, bowed his head in a small thank you out of respectful acknowledgement of skill and offered services. Departed with a promise to himself that he would think on the matter of requesting the man teach him when he returned to accept his new identification. And maybe that showed he had changed, because the past him full of misplaced dreams and fury wouldn't have thought twice about using the man and then promptly disposing of him when his usefulness expired. Wouldn't have thought to request, simply took.
He would think on all that later, though.
Later, when he wasn't on a knifes edge between insanity and complete hopeless despair, with a lingering ghost that seemed too close to a lost love chasing him as he opened the door to a world he didn't know.