AN: Well, it's baack! REPOSTED and REDONE!
You all are probably sitting around scratching your heads. I'm sorry for depressing you all by removing this story. Let's just say, I took it off for reasons I can't explain and I put it back up for more reasons I can't explain. But, it's back. And it's probably not going anywhere. And, to further appease everyone, I'm going to continue Strings. The sequel. And add something new, Seasons of the Heart, which is a series of one-shots about Team Yellow Flash, spanning the gap between Shards and Strings and beyond, into the regular Naruto timeline (with some changes of course, I can't resist screwing with the canon world a bit. grins)
Without further ado, here's Shards. Again.
The ground shook so hard, Obito thought his bones would rattle out of his skin. The earth roared with fury, deafening him. Dust swirled everywhere, stinging his eyes beneath his goggles, filling his mouth and nose so he could barely breathe.
Somehow, as boulders fell on every side, he managed to run, heading for the small glimmer of light ahead. He could feel his teammates beside him, running with the same desperation. The opening got closer, the light got brighter. They were going to make it.
Then, everything fell apart.
A cry from his left made him jerk around only to watch with horror as Kakashi stumbled to the ground, clipped by a small rock. Then, there was a deafening crack from above and half of the ceiling broke loose, tumbling downward … toward Kakashi.
Obito didn't have time to think. Instinct and his heart told him what to do and he obeyed. With speed he never knew he possessed, ignoring Rin's shouts, Obito dove toward Kakashi and grabbed his teammate's shirt, hauling him upright. Kakashi's eye fluttered and he began to stir but there was no time.
The rock was almost on top of them.
There was no other option. Only one of them could live. And it had to be Kakashi. Because Kakashi needed saving, needed a second chance, and if Obito had to die to give it to him then so be it.
So without second thought, Obito shoved Kakashi as hard as he could, hoping it would be enough.
Then, he closed his eyes and waited for the pain.
Kakashi dimly felt Obito's hand tangle in his shirt and haul him off the ground, heard the angry roar of the rock descending, and felt Obito shove him in a desperate attempt to get him clear of the boulders. The small functioning part of his brain realized with horror what Obito was about to sacrifice and screamed in alarm and denial. It couldn't end now, like this. There was a life waiting for them, all of them, and he was going to make sure they lived it. They needed to try again as a team, to work and fight, and push forward until they got it right.
So, using all of his strength he managed to grab Obito's sleeve on his way to the ground.
Then, he pulled with all his might.
Pain shot through him as he hit the ground and something heavy smashed into his stomach, forcing the air from his lungs in one violent gasp. The earth heaved and dust filled the cave as the boulder landed with a monstrous crash that nearly shattered his eardrums.
For a few long moments, Kakashi lay still, struggling to draw air into his aching lungs and combat the sting of dust in his eye. When his vision clear and the dirt settled peacefully back onto the floor of the cave, sunlight hit his face from the newly created hole in the ceiling of the cave.
Kakashi blinked at, attempting to reel in his dazed, wayward mind.
I haven't seen the sun for a while… It wasn't a very impressive thought, but it was his first complete one and therefore a start.
His second was unfortunately less focused than the first.
The rock on my stomach is moving…
Then the rockgroaned and Kakashi jolted quickly back to awareness, trying to reign in his surprise and lift his head to see just what was on top of him.
Seconds later, Kakashi found himself nose to nose with Obito. The two boys blinked at each other for a moment before realizing how close they were and remembering to be uncomfortable about it. Obito blushed and rolled off Kakashi quickly, sitting up and checking himself for injuries.
Kakashi managed to push himself into a sitting position a moment later. Pain rippled through from his shoulder down to this torso and he winced involuntarily. Obito noticed.
"Are you all right?"
"Yeah," Kakashi murmured through gritted teeth, stubbornly ignoring his throbbing shoulder, "Where's Rin?"
A panicked look crossed Obito's face as he realized the third member of their team was nowhere in sight.
"Oh no," he breathed, struggling to his feet. "Rin!" he cried—his voice echoing hollowly off the walls. "Rin!"
"Over here," a muffled voice came from their right. A pile of rocks shifted and a grimy, small hand broke through, reaching for help. Obito ran over, grabbed the hand, and pulled.
The rocks fell away, revealing a dirty, scratched but otherwise unharmed Rin. She pushed her hair out of her eyes and smiled at the two worried boys.
"I'm fine," she assured them, taking a few steps back and forth to demonstrate. "See."
Kakashi breathed a sigh of relief, unable to believe that they were all alive and uninjured.
Maybe miracles existed after all.
"Here." Kakashi looked up to see Obito standing over him, his hand extended. "Let me help you up."
Kakashi took the hand and let Obito pull him to his feet. "Thanks," he murmured, saying it not just for the simple gesture but the sacrifice Obito had been willing to make.
Obito's eyes told Kakashi he understood when he smiled and answered. "You're welcome."
"Now," Kakashi drew himself up, once again assuming the role of team leader. "Let's get out of here."
"How?" Obito asked, glancing around. The exit was blocked with boulders and every other route appeared effectively sealed.
In response Kakashi pointed upward. The sky was still visible through the gap in the roof, which was now big enough for them to fit through.
"Oh," Obito mumbled, embarrassed.
"I'll go up first," Kakashi said, every inch the commander again. "If it's clear I'll signal for you."
For once, Obito didn't argue. There simply wasn't time.
Kakashi leapt upward, grabbed the edge of the hole, and pulled himself through, vanishing from view. There was a minute of tense silence before his head reappeared and he waved at them. "It's clear."
Obito came next, clambering out of the hole. Then, he reached back and helped Rin through. The three teens huddled close together, tense, scanning the clearing for any signs of the Rock nins who had been there minutes before.
"I don't see them," Rin whispered.
"That's what worries me," Kakashi replied, tightening his grip on his kunai.
Suddenly, something moved at the eastern edge of the clearing. "Obito," Kakashi hissed.
Obito's eyes swirled red and he frowned. "I see two of them, heading this way."
"Don't let your guard down," Kakashi warned, getting into a defensive position.
Obito glared at Kakashi's back but held his tongue. Less than a minute later, two Rock nins tore from the woods, bearing down on the ragged teens. A clang echoed through the woods as kunai met kunai, and Kakashi struggled to hold his ground against the stronger enemy.
Obito moved to meet the second one. With the speed of the Sharingan, the Uchiha was able to end the battle with a powerful kick to the man's stomach, followed by a blow to the head. He was heading over to help Kakashi and protect Rin when the clearing exploded.
Rock nins came from all sides, swarming into the clearing like ants.
"Back up!" Kakashi cried in horror.
Obito swallowed the fear blooming in his chest as he was surrounded. The enemy nins leered at him, but he was determined not to give in like some weakling. Gritting his teeth in determination, the chuunin pulled out a kunai and lunged at the first Rock nin to approach.
If he had to go down, it would be fighting.
Five minutes later, the battle was over, it's end announced by a cold voice that grabbed Obito's attention and sent shivers down his spine.
"Drop your weapons."
The Uchiha turned and gasped in horror when he saw a Rock ninja holding a kunai to Kakashi's throat. Rin was on the ground at another one's feet, hands tied behind her back.
Kakashi shook his head. "Don't listen! Run!" The man snarled and clamped a hand over the jounin's mouth, silencing him.
Obito hesitated, unsure of what to do. Abandon Kakashi and Rin or be captured. Impatient the Rock ninja pushed the kunai harder against Kakashi's throat. The silver-haired teen winced as blood trickled down his neck.
Obito made his decision and threw his weapons to the ground, raising his hands in surrender and trying to ignore Kakashi's disappointed, angry gaze. A third Rock ninja came forward and roughly tied his hands behind his back.
As he was shoved forward, Obito realized that there were only five of the twelve Rock nins left. He got a measure of grim satisfaction from that. But it soon turned to fear he wondered what awaited them at their destination.
Torture? Death? Interrogation?
He bit his lip and tried his best not to think about, focusing instead on the ground or Kakashi's back and they were marched in a single file line through the woods.
It didn't work.
After about an hour of walking, the small group came to an expansive clearing in the woods where a base had been set up. Rock ninja were everywhere, sharpening weapons, moving in and out of tents and buildings, but all stopped and stared at the prisoners, grim smiles on their faces.
Obito felt like his heart was going to leap out of his chest.
They were led to a large wooden building at the far edge of the clearing, up against a low cliff. It was dark and dank inside and Obito shivered when he saw chains on the back wall. A glance to the side let him know that even Kakashi seemed afraid.
The ninja chained them to the wall and left. They sat in darkness for a while, too scared to speak. Then, the door swung open and large ninja with cruel eyes stepped into the prison. The three teens shrank back from his gaze and the cold smile that widened at the fear in their eyes.
He walked up to Kakashi, grabbing his chin. Kakashi flinched and the man made a thoughtful sound when he saw the bandages tied around the silver haired jounin's left eye.
"What happened to you?" Kakashi didn't reply and the man shook his head. "I'll just have to see for myself then." He yanked of the bandaged in one rough motion and clucked his tongue at the cut underneath.
"Hmm…" Kakashi shivered when the man ran a finger over the cut, pressing down to cause pain. "… can't use this eye, eh?"
A dark chuckle echoed through the room, making the teens shudder. "Well, you're the leader, are you not?"
Kakashi nodded. The man chuckled again and undid Kakashi's chains, dragging him into the center of the room. Obito and Rin watched with wide, terrified eyes as the man grabbed a handful of silver hair and pulled out a few senbon needles. The objects glittered in the dim light, reflecting in Kakashi's frightened eye.
Another sadistic smile twisted the man's face.
"Let the games begin."