The days are quiet. Broad strokes of sunlight fall onto green hills, and tall grasses bend serenely in the wind. During the war, the valley had been dark and covered with dead bodies, the choking stench of sulfur and smoke clogging a cold and overcast sky. The breeze mocks him. He stands, pulling his cloak over his shoulder.
He does not win the war.
She finds him two months later, deep in a cave nestled between the mountains of Takigakure. Weak, right arm torn and nearly blind in his remaining eye, Obito looks up toward the sound of her footsteps - the sound of which he would recognize anywhere - and lifts his face toward the splash of filthy light filtering through the corners.
"They told me I died," Rin says, and she sits heavily beside him. She doesn't ask any questions, just waits with him, two silhouettes at the mouth of the cave.
Because she has nowhere else to go, Rin follows him. Obito tries telling her flatly that she is a nuisance to him, she should go somewhere else, but Rin looks at him with hurt in her eyes, and he turns away again, angry and disgusted with himself.
"You're not going to tell me what happened, are you?" she says, and Obito realizes he owes her at least that much. That if he tells her, she might just go.
He looks up at her, and through the haze of his vision, he can see the rectangle of light that slowly drifts over her, framing her body like a portrait and her hair catching the muted light. If he had his sharingan, he would tip her head back, would push himself into her senses and pour into her all his memories, his heartbreak. All the pain and uncertainty and things that he has seen.
But he doesn't. Words do not come easily to him, sticking to his throat as if swallowing pieces of old dried bread, and it's only when Rin sits close to him, her hand pressing against his shoulder, that he speaks:
"I loved you," he says.
"And then I saw you die."
She doesn't say anything. Silently, she sits as close as she dares to his broken body, then leans against him, closing her eyes.
Hashirama's cells don't grow back.
The days after the war are quiet, and Obito retreats back into himself, silent in the face of his greatest failure. The world believes he's dead, and shinobi across the allied nations rejoice, lighting fireworks and tossing paper confetti into the air.
He does one-handed pushups and tries to get back a modicum of his former strength, but his body fails him, and without the sharingan, he cannot do even the simplest of ninjutsu. Rin watches, heart in her mouth, as Obito tries and trains even as his wounds split and seep blood underneath his bandages. At night, he sleeps for hours, his body exhausted from the years spent without rest. Sometimes, he wakes and feels Rin's fingers gently combing through his scalp; other times he opens his eyes and sees her sleeping on a chair across from him.
"Why are you here?" Obito says, and Rin looks up at him, bitter, broken man, leaning against the tabletop and trying to preserve what little dignity he has left. "Why have you not left?"
Rin says nothing, just rises to stand beside him. "I do not want your pity," Obito says.
"It isn't pity," Rin says, and she proceeds to ignore him, leaving him to stew in his own thoughts.
That night, he limps back to his room and sees her lying in his bed, back toward him and staring resolutely at the wall.
"Remember when we were kids?" Rin says. "You cut yourself and you pretended not to get hurt. I was the only one looking out for you."
"So is that what this is?" Obito asks, and after a moment gingerly climbs into the bed, careful to keep their bodies from touching. He lies stiffly beside her and Rin doesn't turn or scoot closer to him. The whole thing, Obito realizes, is pointless, and he turns and tries to go to sleep.
And then he feels it: a hand, small and uncertain, hesitantly reaching out, before carefully touching the side of his waist.
His muscles tense, but as soon as Rin slides closer and her arm drapes around him, he feels himself relax. She feels warm and comforting and good and Obito hates himself for his weakness, feeling as worthless and prostrate as he did when he was a child.
"You're not going to cry, right?" Rin says. Teasing him. "Because I remember the last time we did this, you cried like a baby."
"I was just a child." Obito's voice is tight. Angry, even as old wounds split and tears start to prick at the corners.
Rin says nothing. He feels her relax at his back, hugging him close and bumping her nose into the space beneath his scapula. "I miss that child, you know?" Rin says, finally, and Obito says nothing, feels the slow-boiling rage start to fade and dissipate, until nothing is left except that old longing, sorrow and uncertainty and suffocating loneliness, until he realizes too late that he is crying, old tears and old habits dripping silently down his face.
He feels her shift upwards, dropping a soft kiss at the nape of his neck, before reaching up to brush back the errant strands of hair from his face. He doesn't remember his mother, but her touch feels maternal, gentle and soothing. He falls asleep like this, nestled up in Rin's arms.
She takes to sleeping in his bed. At first it seemed to be out of pity, or out of a strange sense of practicality, two bodies sharing warmth to spite the cold. Soon enough, though, he is used to her pressing up against his back and nudging at the empty spaces between his shoulderblades. Rin has kissed him before, the way he'd seen her kiss the heads of wounded animals or kiss the scraped knees of little boys. He doesn't question it, and he does not take advantage of her kindness. So when one night, she reaches over to kiss the side of his face, it doesn't quite register, not until she tugs at his shoulder until he turns, flat on his back, to face her.
The kiss is gentle. Her lips are soft, and when the kiss deepens it surprises him. He looks up at her and she smiles down at him, and soon enough she's lying on top of him, cradling his face and kissing him again.
Later, she asks him, "You've never kissed anyone before, right?" and Obito just stares at her, caught somewhere between humiliation and a blistering rage, when Rin just laughs at him and bumps her head against his shoulder. He doesn't know how to explain it to her: how the years spent working toward his goal were the only thing to him, knowing she would be alive in a world without pain, how that was enough to fortify him.
Rin touches the scars on his face, then says something teasing about how such a badass ninja keeps blushing in front of her, and Obito just stares up at her, flabbergasted and unsure how to respond, when she rocks against him and breathes into his ear.
If Obito is grateful about one thing, it's that those boulders didn't quite crush the entire right side of his body, more like the right third of it, and Rin giggles and laughs and then gasps at the feel of him, before laughing and telling him to be careful, his cock might fall off the way his arm did, and Obito decides he should work a little bit harder.
(She is mid-sentence, about to ask wickedly if there is a reason why Zetsu has nothing down there, when he gives her one harsh thrust that makes her mouth pop open, and she just gasps and groans and clutches at him after.)
Years pass. Pretty soon the allied nations stop looking for him.
He is still on wanted posters. His face, scarred and menacing, is still plastered on the front page of every bingo book in every country. The perpetrator of genocide. He is a ghost, a specter, sightings of a man robed in black appearing every once in a while, a bogeyman that keep children from falling asleep.
"I saw him," the shopkeeper says, a whispered confession, as Obito stands impassively and pays for their meal. "He was dressed in black and he was roaming the fields to the west of us. They say he weeps tears of blood."
"How awful," Rin says, and Obito doesn't quite roll his eyes.
Later, he sits in the dark and thinks of the people he's killed, when Rin stands beside him, leaning his body against her belly and chest and lets her arms fall across his shoulders. Before, it didn't matter who he killed, because in the next world, they would all be brought back. But he's failed, and he cannot bring anyone back.
It is the only thing that tempers their happiness. Sometimes, he lies awake at night and thinks about the things he's done, and it's as if the weight of a thousand boulders comes crashing down on him. "I can still try," Obito says.
"I can still save them."
"Just stop," Rin says. "Stop."
And Obito looks up at her, one milky eye turning upward.
"You don't have to keep fighting anymore."
It isn't her place to forgive him, though she's sobbed and raged for days.
Beyond the window, the sky is an agitated gray. Rain falls, and soon the staccato sound of precipitation overtakes the silence, thunder rolling, a deafening sound.
They make love in the shadows of the raindrops. Pleasure crests and ebbs, a constant movement of muscle and damp skin, when he feels her reach out a hand and cup the side of his face. Dry thumbs catch the raised marks of scars in a motion like turning fans, and it's a gesture more intimate than this, two souls converging in the dark.
He watches her sleep. He places his hand at the center of her back, the soft landscape of skin and old memories, the only mote of peace in an imperfect world.