You never knew what you got 'til it's gone. Uchiha Shuichi reflected for what had to be the millionth time as he drained the last of the god awful cheap grain alcohol that was all he could afford anymore from the bottle. He didn't blame Her for leaving him here alone. Things were different after her reason for smiling had been taken away. She couldn't bear it, and he could only bear it when he was too drunk to remember. The house had been so quiet for years. He never believed that he'd miss the noisy laughter and the constant tromping of feet that he'd so disapproved of and called a disgrace for years until a couple days after the funeral of its source.

The empty bottle had been the last of the alcohol that was left in the formerly well kept house, and normally he wouldn't have gotten off his ass to go and get more at this time of night, but he wasn't drunk enough. He could still hear the faint echoes of the laughter that died years ago. Sighing, he got up to go out not bothering with his coat despite the fact that it was February and barely bothering with his sandals. There was a 24 hour market that catered to the needs of the local Shinobi and the more nocturnal citizens a few blocks outside the Uchiha district.

You wouldn't know he had once been a proud Jounin of the Uchiha clan if you looked at him now. He was worn, haggard, a layer of fat covered the long flexible limbs that were practically as much a trademark of the clan as the Sharingan and there was a rather odd growth of hair on his face that was somewhere between stubble and an ill kept beard. He'd quit caring a while ago though. He'd quit caring when he'd found himself alone with only his arrogant pride to keep him company. That had quickly vanished when he realized that all he wanted was his wife who had gone on missions until she found one from which she would not return and his son who he had constantly called a disgrace back.

It had been as he was nearing the market that he had heard the laugh. He knew that laugh. It had been the laugh he had constantly scolded its source for acting in an UnUchihalike manner over. It had been the laugh of a boy he had called a disgrace for not developing as quickly as he wanted him to, for not being as fast as he wanted him to be, for constantly being distracted by trivial things when he had more important things he should be doing. It was the laugh of the son he had not appreciated until he had been lost. It had been clear as a bell, far clearer than the faint echoes that swirled about his home that he drank to forget.

Tonight was his son's birthday. It made sense that the boy would haunt him tonight. While part of him wanted to forget the laugh that had started up once more, hurry to the market, buy his booze, race home and lock the door, another part of him wanted to follow that haunting laugh to its source and maybe see his son one more time so he could tell him he was sorry. After hearing another peal of laughter, this one from just a little farther away, he made up his mind. Turning away from the market he headed after the ghost.

He found his ghost in an alley several blocks over. It was a toddler with a fuzzy spiky mop of blond hair that was chasing after one of the Uchiha Ninja Cats that usually lived with the wise and seemingly ancient Nekobaa at the supply warehouse a great distance from here. As he watched the cat butt its head against the child's legs and restart the chase when the child fell behind, he saw a smile he could have sworn he'd never see again. How could this small child have his son's smile, his son's laugh? His son had died long before it was born.

His son had died before it was born...

He picked the child up to examine it closer, ignoring its distressed squeals and its squirming in a futile escape attempt, even ignoring the fact that Nekobaa's cat was doing its level best to shred his legs to ribbons. It looked a bit like his own son had at that age, but small children pretty much all looked alike, so it was hard to tell. It had wide eyes like his own son but these were blue instead of the standard Uchiha black. Its chin was narrower than his son's, almost pointed though. If you kinda mentally removed the baby fat, narrowed the eyes and squinted a little, another face came to mind entirely, a face that was carved in stone just as his son's name was. In a way, it kinda made sense. His son had so admired his sensei in his last life, never shutting up about the man, it was only logical that he would want to look like his idol in the next.

It was funny really, the gods had seen fit to return his son during his lifetime and one of Nekobaa's cats had delivered him like a package of spare weapons. He was torn between joy and a feeling of unworthiness. He swore then and there that he would do better this time. He wouldn't try to push his son farther than he was ready to go this time. This time, his son would grow up happy and knowing he was loved.

"Come Obito, let's go home." he said as he carried the small filthy child who looked so much like his son's sensei back to the Uchiha district.