Title: Project O.B.I.T.O.
Characters: Obito, Rin
Disclaimer: Naruto and its entire portfolio of characters belong to Masashi Kishimoto. I do not own them, nor do I make money off of this piece of fiction.
Author's Note: This story is the first in a five-part anthology of ficlets starring Obito. The entire premise was inspired by an anonymous prompt request over at naruto_meme's What If? Meme. I take my hat off to you, dear prompt requester; you managed to spark the Obito fan inside me.
Orange and Purple
Uchiha Obito had quite the colorful and naïve impression of what afterlife was like, if there was one. He had imagined it to be some sort of utopian paradise – probably complete with lush green meadows, silhouettes of rolling hills over the horizon that accentuated a crimson sunset, and a picturesque vermillion sky dappled with hues of rosy pink to boot. It was truly a sight to behold and experience. Truly a fitting setting for a hero's final resting place.
And there he was. It was just like what he envisaged it to be.
Was he dead? A mere soul now? An immaterial specter hovering between life and death? The wounds from his last battle barely registered, after all. Obito didn't really know. Frankly, he didn't really care. There was absolutely nothing he could do about it. All that mattered to him was the here and now – his eternity in this wonderful, yet strangely lonely and isolated, state of nirvana.
Finding his bearings in the area, he plopped himself down under the shade of an enormous oak tree, palms tucked casually behind his mop of jet-black hair. He closed his eyes, remembering his final moments before he wound up in this place.
It had been a blur, really. All he could remember was the imminent numbness on the right side of his body, the bitter and metallic tang of blood that dribbled in torrents over his mouth and chin, and the way Rin's petite hand trembled as she gripped his own. He recalled the way his voice crackled - feeble, broken and fading - as he uttered what seemed to be his final words to Kakashi.
The last vestiges of his consciousness then slipped away into painless bliss. The next thing he knew, he was already standing on this grassy field, alone.
It was right at that moment where Obito came to the conclusion that this place sucked. There wasn't even anyone there, let alone someone to talk to. He had been there only for a measly ten to fifteen minutes, and he already wanted to be out of there! On the forefront, perhaps it was paradise indeed, or something remarkably close to it. Yet, it lacked something; it was bare and incomplete.
Of course, being the hero for once already gave him a feeling of edifying satisfaction. He was able to overcome all those damned labels – the loser, the reject – and became truly something of worth. Then again, it wasn't enough, it seemed; there was a certain dead weight in his chest, a nagging feeling that was indescribably hard to pinpoint.
As a guy that always wore his heart on his sleeve, Obito knew exactly what was plaguing him after a few moments of intense mental deliberation.
He realized that he wanted to go back. To see Kakashi, Rin, and Minato-sensei again. To get an opportunity to kick some more ass. To spend more time with them and getting stronger together and making more cherished memories that will last him forever.
His own reputation was less important to him now. Deep inside, he knew he was worthy of the Uchiha name, and his whole team had already acknowledged that fact. None of the others mattered now. Still, it was too late. Perhaps he could never return.
Now, he only had sweet and bitter memories at his disposal. The way Rin's fragile hand clamped onto his was startlingly fresh and vivid; her phantom touch seemed to send his senses ablaze. He imagined Rin calling out to him. Her echoing words sounded relieved and resolute, as if she saw him for the first time in forever.
That wasn't right. The sound of Rin's voice that resonated in his head seemed panicky; an unnatural shrill rattled uneasily in his ears. He scrunched his eyes tighter. Maybe he could conjure up a better version.
There it was again. She sounded afraid and frenzied.
"Open your eyes, Obito!"
And he did.
His sight was met with a blinding flash of white and a medley of different shades of mossy green. After the glaring light that seared right to the very back of his eyes had subsided, Obito shook his head vigorously to alleviate the migraine that now threatened to split his head into two.
Apparently, he was lying in a quaint, little hospital room, and not in some foreign, uninhabited grassland. He spared a glance over to his right side. Equipment of different shapes and sizes were there – pumps, monitors, gauges, everything. He couldn't even fathom what every single one of them was used for.
Obito felt a wave of discomfort wash over him. Some were unknowingly attached to his body in a number of different places. Uncomfortable places, in fact. The innumerable cords of every color gave him just a tiny inkling of the gravity of his physical state. Only their intermittent beeps and tinkles could only be heard in the deathly silent room.
Bandages covered most of his right arm, snaking up to his shoulders, to his neck, up until the right side of his face. The dressings were horribly bloodied in some places, the huge crimson blots a stark and sickening contrast to the immaculate white. Obito gingerly caressed the cottony gauze that covered his right eye. Apparently, even that was damaged as well.
Fiery pain shot to the ends of his fingertips as he attempted to nudge his battered hand. He could feel his fingers twitch as he tried to move them, meaning he still had little muscle control over at that mangled physical region.
He heaved a sigh of relief.
Out of nowhere, something gently squeezed his good hand.
Before Obito looked at the other side of the bed, he already had a pretty distinct idea who that mystery person was.
He had hoped to see a welcoming face. A relieved and charming smile, maybe. However, as his head swiveled around to take a good look at her, he got a rather unpleasant surprise. She didn't look like the Rin that he remembered. That couldn't be her. Silhouetted by the mid-afternoon sun behind her, she looked like an ephemeral apparition.
Her longs locks of brown hair were highly disheveled, bangs hanging willy-nilly all over her pale and solemn face. Her eyes, no longer alive with tender kindness and meek admiration, were red and puffy. Red lips were no longer curved in a reserved smile; they were pursed with anxiety and helplessness. She stared at him in a trance-like state.
He didn't need perfect Sharingan-enhanced vision to see that Rin's condition was as nearly bad as his. Not physically, of course, but it was equally distressing to see her like that as well.
"Are you okay, Obito?" Her voice rose to that frenetic pitch again.
That didn't matter now, did it? Her current state was probably more disturbing than his was. It was damn obvious that stress incarnate was eating her alive.
His nerves continued to burn; his arms constantly ached; his entire physique was in a topsy-turvy mess. Even though the list of his bodily aches increased exponentially by the second, he instantly ignored his body's consistent clamoring for more time to recuperate. There were more important things to worry about.
Of course, Obito knew exactly what to do and say in situations like this. He was a natural at this sort of thing. Mustering his guts, he put on the goofiest grin he had in a long time – the one he was absolutely sure that would instantly lift her spirits.
"Rin, you're a mess!" he joked.
She raised an inquisitive eyebrow. After what seemed hours of silence and awkward staring on end, she finally burst into peals of laughter. The sound of her in hysterics was enough to brighten up the gloomy and morose atmosphere within the room. It was cherished music to Obito's ears.
"I don't see why I should worry about your condition now," she said, wiping tears from the corners of her eyes.
At this point, seeing Rin's spirits being lifted aroused a bubbling burst of adrenaline within him. It rudely yanked him from the euphoria of his little success of cheering her up back into the dreadful and conflicted present. A multitude of questions suddenly detonated in his head like innumerable exploding tags. Mental images flickered through his mind at light speed.
"Rin, what happened back there?! All I remember was that giant rock and the landslide and those Iwagakure shinobi and…"
His words trailed off into a quiet murmur. How did he get out of that one? Surely, Rin couldn't have lifted that rock off of him. (The image of a supremely muscled, broad-chested Rin coming to his rescue brought chills down his spine.) Kakashi wasn't exactly equipped with the strength of a thousand men, either. Obito doubted that even his newly acquired Chidori, with its immense piercing power, could do that much damage to a crusty boulder that weighed over a ton. So that left…
"Minato-sensei Reverse Summoned you out of there," answered Rin promptly.
Well, that seemed reasonable. Even though Namikaze Minato wasn't quite the effective brawler type that could smash away mountains, his speed that earned him a prized and legendary moniker and an unrivaled repertoire of space-time ninjutsu had surely done the job. Other than his heavily bandaged arm and damaged right eye, everything seemed to be still intact and working - which will probably heal over time.
"Oh, I see," he chortled, scratching his head bashfully. "I'm glad that Sensei didn't leave any of my body parts behind or anything."
Obito scanned the room again. It was startlingly close to being empty, save for Rin, himself, the medical equipment, and stacks of stray lunch boxes thrown askew on a lonely coffee table. The unusual silence made him realize that something was off. There was still that empty void in his chest.
And then, the truth hit him. It was rather hard to admit it to himself. Ironic, even.
Where was Kakashi? Even hearing one of his shallow jibes and sarcastic remarks seemed like an ethereal blessing right now. Their dynamics could never be the same again after this absurd chain of events. (Although Obito thought that things had actually turned out to be better for the both of them.) And what of their sensei? He was a strong and comforting presence in their little team, their stronghold, the pillar that held them together when everything was crumbling and falling apart.
"Where're Kakashi and Minato-sensei, anyway?"
"It's been five days since you were unconscious. They're continuing the mission to destroy Kannabi Bridge."
Obito thought that something was particularly wrong there.
"They left you behind?!"
Rin looked taken back by the statement. She hardly maintained eye contact. A few uncomfortable and stifling seconds later, she spoke. Her genteel voice oddly cracked at some places. It sounded like she was in the verge of tears.
"I - I chose to stay. I couldn't leave you. Not again."
Obito didn't know what to say. Surely Rin would have preferred to stay with Kakashi, so she could be instantly by his side when he gets injured.
A surreal fantasy, if one could call it that, immediately began playing in his head. The colors were mellow, the sounds muffled to a low gurgle. Clearly, his subconscious didn't particularly like this recollection.
He could see Rin striding to Kakashi's side at the tiniest hint of blood or an injury; it was a conspicuous trend during missions. After Kakashi would attempt to brush the pain off with one of his collected remarks that Obito had grown to admire and despise at the same time, she would then heal him with her earnest and most valiant of efforts. He could see Kakashi in his mind's eye – fully mended and thoroughly pleased with Rin, ready to give the appreciation and attention she had craved for the longest time.
Yet, she was still here by his side, and not Kakashi's.
Obito was at a loss for words. He wanted to blurt out that she didn't need to be here right now. That she shouldn't restrain herself from doing what she wanted all because of him. That she should follow what her heart actually yearned for – and that was being out there with Kakashi, not being inside this crammed room. He didn't want to be a cage that restricted and suffocated her.
Yet, she had said that she wanted to stay.
There was something in his eyes again. He could only say one thing.
She grinned in return.
Rin must have sensed his sudden change of mood. Women usually had an uncanny ability like that, his sensei had said. From Obito's vantage point, he could see her suddenly fiddling inside what appeared to be rainbow-colored paper bags.
"Obito, I got something for you," she said, handing him something covered in superfluous amounts of crumpled polka-dotted paper. After a few moments of apprehensive unwrapping, he discovered that the mystery package was a pair of brand new orange-tinted goggles, much to his delight.
"Wow, these are great, Rin!"
He ran a thumb over the smooth tangerine-colored plastic. She got this for him. An innocent smile tugged his lips. Needless to say, he was absolutely flattered and grateful that she took some time to get this. These were incredibly hard to find, as they were one of a kind. Then again, he surmised that nothing was impossible with Rin. After all, she was an impeccable shopper.
Squishing, crumpling sounds told Obito that she went fishing into another bag.
"I also got a second pair, just in case that one gets smashed to smithereens again," she said amicably, handing him another one.
He unwrapped the second one with much gusto this time around. When he saw what was inside, it took every ounce of willpower he had to suppress a snort, followed shortly by a surging hoot of laughter.
"Rin, don't get me wrong. I appreciate the sentiment. I really do. But why are these purple?" He motioned to the second pair of goggles, which was identical to his original one in every way, albeit tinged with a garish neon purple tint.
Judging from her childish pout and raised eyebrow, she looked playfully affronted and already raring to bicker.
"What? You could use some variety. And as if orange radiates masculinity."
With that sarcasm, she could already pass off as a second Kakashi. Obito simply loved a good challenge.
"Well, who died and made you the queen of colors?" he retorted.
None of the training he had could ever prepare him for what happened next.
In a flash, Rin's arms were wrapped around his chest tightly, her head resting on his good shoulder. Obito was stunned stiff. He could hear her sniffling, crying.
"I'm so glad that you didn't," she said.
A whirlwind of indescribable emotion laid siege in Obito's chest. No words, no other actions can comparably express it. It was one of those rare moments where he was shell-shocked into an imperturbable silence. The poignancy of her words, the sincerity of them – it took some time for it to sink in, for him to differentiate what is happening now from one of his daydreams that are all too sweet. Rin's next words assured him that all of this was real and genuine.
"And I'll never let go of you this time."
As he breathed in her heady scent that was reminiscent of fragrant sandalwood, and as he basked in the warmth of her arms, Uchiha Obito was glad to be alive.
Author's Note: Thanks for reading! Reviews are lovely and will be much appreciated.