A/N: I thought about adding this to my story, Eulogy For a Shinobi. In the end, however, I decided that it seems more fitting for this one to stand on its own. I have chosen for a subject this time one of the least known shinobi here: Hatake Kakashi's teammate, Uchiha Obito.
Disclaimer: Never owned, never have, never will. Just poking around in the fandom.
"For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: 'It might have been!'" - John Greenleaf Whittier, Maud Muller
Names normally given to one Uzumaki Naruto. However, did you know that thirteen years before those names were given to another shinobi? Yes, they were applied to another young boy of Konohagakure who became a shinobi. His name was Uchiha Obito.
Obito did not seem like the type of youth who would ever reach great heights in the shinobi world. He played pranks, was constantly late, and his grades were abysmal, barely enough to pass. His instructors believed he would never amount to much once he graduated. Even within his own clan, his behavior and grades were seen as a disgrace to the rest of the Uchiha. His own father felt he would be no honor to them as a shinobi and said so.
But Obito kept trying. Even in spite of bad grades, he managed to graduate from the academy. Due to how teams were arranged, he ended up in the same team as the son of the White Fang, the genius Hatake Kakashi, and a young kunoichi from the Nohara family named Rin. His instructor was Namikaze Minato.
Minato saw Obito's potential and often rebuked Kakashi for some of the disparaging comments he made. He understood that everyone has the ability to grow at their own pace and he believed that Obito could do well as a shinobi given the chance.
He was proven correct, although he did not witness the occurrence. Uchiha Obito started in truth upon that path on an ill-fated mission. A mission which saw the birth and death of a brave young shinobi, and redeemed the ill opinion he was held in.
During the war with Iwagakure, Namikaze Minato was called on a mission of his own one day, leaving his three young genin to fulfill the original mission they had been sent on: destroy a bridge that was vital to Iwagakure in getting supplies to the main force. During the mission they were ambushed, and Rin was captured by the enemy shinobi as they tried to escape. Obito wanted to go back and rescue her. Kakashi, embittered by past knowledge and experience regarding his deceased father, refused to go back for her, believing her to be of no great loss to them. The mission was far more important than one weak comrade. If they did not follow the rules, he said, that would make them trash.
Obito became infuriated by that remark and shot back that it would make them worse than trash if they did not make the attempt to save their comrade, and with the recklessness that accompanied his usual behavior he went off to do just that.
He very nearly paid for that behavior, as he nearly walked into an ambush laid by an Iwa shinobi. Unbeknownst to him, Kakashi felt guilty over his own behavior and had followed him. He managed to protect Obito at the cost of one of his eyes. For the first time, Obito saw what his irresponsible behavior had caused, and vowed he would one day return the favor to Kakashi. Upon making this vow, his dormant Sharingan activated. He had taken the first true steps towards reaching the potential and promise that Minato had seen.
But time was short and swiftly running out.
When they reached the area where Rin was, after a brief skirmish, they managed to rescue her. However, they missed one Iwa shinobi. He attempted to kill all three of the young genin by pushing down rocks from the top of a cave they were near. They managed to avoid all but one.
One that headed straight for Hatake Kakashi.
Obito noticed this and pushed him out of the way, leaving himself in the path of the falling rock. It completely crushed the right side of his body. At this time Obito, realizing he was dying, made the decision to give Kakashi his remaining Sharingan eye to replace the eye that Kakashi had lost while saving him from the ambush earlier. The operation was performed by Rin, and afterwards he asked them to go, as he was dying and there was nothing they could do to save him. They left just as the last rocks fell, burying the young Uchiha beneath them. He died just as he had begun to realize what it took to be a shinobi. He died a hero for saving his teammates.
What type of shinobi would Uchiha Obito have become? It is hard to tell, yet a few clues exist. His one surviving teammate, Hatake Kakashi, understood that Obito realized the true meaning of comradeship and attempted to pass along that lesson to his own students when he became a sensei. He further acknowledged Obito's selflessness and sacrifice by utilizing his Sharingan correctly to become a strong shinobi, and took on some of Obito's behaviors to honor him. Perhaps Kakashi believed he would have been the best of the Uchiha had he the chance to grow.
Perhaps he would have. He certainly had an outgoing nature, and given that he intended to used the Sharingan to protect, it is likely he would have used it as it was meant to be used, a tool, not a crutch. He was also realizing that he just could not act without thinking about the consequences. In time, it is likely he would have become one of the best that Konoha had to offer, and perhaps he could have been a stabilizer within the Uchiha themselves.
Perhaps. However, this is only speculation.
In fact, there remains only one irrefutable truth: we shall never know, as he was cut down too soon.
And that indeed is the greatest tragedy of all.