Sorry for the delay! I've been working on a million other things, and stress levels are high!
Hope you enjoy, though!
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, but there better be a double chapter next week! Rahh.
Notes: There are random references in there that you may or may not get.
1) Uzumaki Honoka is from a filler, lol.
2) I don't expect you to know where the cat comes from...
3) This totally makes sense. Totally. /slinks away
Chapter 11: A Case of the Haunted Idiots in a Cave
"I don't know about you, but this tastes awful." Obito waved a spoon pointedly at Zetsu.
"Don't insult my cooking," said the pale boy, hands rolling a blob of dough into something that roughly looked like Tobi's face.
"Swirl-swirl-swirl," said Tobi. Being the Swirl-Zetsu, he was fond of his own image, but Obito began to wonder if he could actually see himself in the mirror. Did he even have eyes?
"You guys don't eat, you wouldn't know," Obito accused, glaring with his one good eye. Madara, using a lazily cast genjutsu, appeared as his young self across the table, silent. "Hey old man, try this?"
Obito wiggled a spoon of potentially toxic soup at the man.
"Obito, I'd rather you refrain from waving food at me," sighed Madara, folding his arms and lounging back in his chair.
"Old man, what did you look like when you were my age?" Obito asked.
"OH! Good question!" exclaimed Tobi excitedly, pressing his hands together and spinning a circle. Obito swore that a low, breathy voice said swirl as Tobi danced around. The voice came from the eyehole.
"I'd rather not," said Madara.
"PLEASE," said Tobi.
"Okay, old man," decided Obito. "It's either you EAT THIS SOUP, or show us your YOUNG SELF."
The spoon was dunked maliciously into the somewhat green, sickly liquid, withdrawing with a chunk of something that probably only Zetsu could eat. Eat it, said the eyehole. Madara began to think that there was something wrong with his swirl-faced creation, because the dark voice that emanated from the eyehole was nothing like Hashirama and more like a second Orochimaru.
Madara grudgingly performed a Henge, turning himself into what appeared to be his younger self. Had he voiced his opinions aloud, Madara would've called himself the "tall, dark, and handsome" type.
"You look just like me!" crowed Obito, slapping a hand down on the table. Unfortunately, the soup bowls filled to the brim sloshed over and allowed Zetsu's heavily seasoned, monstrous kitchen vomit of a creation to glob over on the table. It seemed that the heaviest ingredients had sifted to the bottom, leaving a molasses-like substance mucking in the bowls. The rest of it was a frothy green soup, some of it almost clear and like broth, while the majority of it contaminated with what appeared to be scrambled eggs and corn.
"I do not," defended Madara, wincing as the slop trickled over to him. "Clean this up," he snapped, before adding, "You've got a much more childish face."
A smirk crossed the older Uchiha's lips, and he folded his arms. Then, to his dismay, Zetsu said:
"You two are like mirror images. Seriously."
Madara threw Hashirama's pale, clammy-skinned clone a death glare. Zetsu brushed it off without much care, sidling away from the Uchiha's crimson gaze. When it didn't lighten, the grassy-headed boy spooned some of his concoction into Tobi's bowl. The swirl-faced one stared at it in awe, before inexplicably slurping the whole thing — bowl and all — into his eyehole. Bewildered, everyone gaped at him.
Good boy, Swirly-one, I wanted to taste the soup.
"Yum! Zetsu's a good cook!" cheered Tobi, gleefully clapping. Madara told himself that he had not heard the voice again. "Tobi also thinks that Madara-sama looks just like Obito!"
"Other way around," growled the elder Uchiha, returning his attention to Obito. He released his Henge and returned to his adult form while his real body lay elsewhere, an old skeleton in hibernation.
"Does this mean I'll get bags under my eyes?" whispered Obito to Zetsu. "Because that would be awful."
Zetsu sniggered, and then dodged the incoming barrage of utensils. Unfortunately for Madara, spoons did not make for great weapons, especially when one of his targets was very attentive and dodged easily, and the other was practically a ghost, becoming transparent to allow the spoons to fly straight through.
Tobi, once again, inexplicably sucked things into his eyehole. He stood directly behind Obito, and when the spoons flew through the young Uchiha, he practically inhaled the spoons into his eyehole.
Good, good, building an arsenal. I can now both attack and defend!
Madara, for a third time, pretended he did not hear the voice. It was oddly familiar, this voice. It was not a deep tone, but a quiet man's voice, as if telling a secret to someone close. However, there was a particular rasp to the voice that made Madara wary of it; the voice cackled as if it was about to take over the world.
Then again, Madara was going to take over the world too.
"Do ya still have a bag of chips in there?" asked Obito, though he didn't hope for much. To his surprise, Tobi regurgitated a perfectly new, unopened bag of chips. Eagerly, Obito reached for it, but Tobi shook his head and waggled a forefinger.
"That'll be 125 ryo," Tobi informed him.
"What." Obito stared at the swirl-face, mouth dropping into a rather comical sort of pout.
Charge him more for it. 350 sounds like a good price.
"If you don't pay up in five seconds, the price will go up to 350."
Tobi's body language told them all that he was smiling, despite the lack of facial characteristics to show such an action. Madara stood from his seat, ignoring Obito's call for money — "Why would I give you money, you brat?" — and sauntering over to where he kept his weapons. He glanced at his battle fan, but decided that today's training was not going to require its use. Instead, he chose a strong blade, an old katana that was still in good shape.
Take that one, too.
Tobi looked confused. He whispered, to himself, "But that's Madara-sama's."
Madara was not enjoying this inclusion on a relatively private conversation. He hefted the sword in his hand and tilted it upward to admire its gleam in the dim cavern light. Lanterns along the walls lit up the wide, dark space — he usually discerned the location of objects with his Sharingan, while Obito worked similarly and the Hashirama clones were practically the earth itself — and decently allowed a good fighting area.
"Old man, what are we practicing today?"
"Grab a kunai," ordered Madara. "You will parry this sword."
Take the sword, give it to me.
Tobi shook his head, and Zetsu gave him a funny look.
Do not be intimidated.
"But he's Madara-sama," Tobi whimpered to nobody in particular. Zetsu decided that the swirl-boy was clinically insane and might someday require the help of a psychiatrist. Then again, Tobi didn't even have a human body, so Zetsu supposed that that idea was useless to begin with. Not only that, but no one knew what was in that eyehole of his…
It doesn't matter. Madara's not that scary, silly.
Madara swore he heard the voice laugh, and it sent a chill up his spine. The laugh was so familiar, yet he was so old — he hated to admit this — that he was too confused to place a face or a name. In his slight, elderly confusion, Madara was having a tough enough time believing that he was hearing a voice, let alone acknowledge the fact that he recognized it.
"350 ryo," Tobi repeated to Obito, before beginning to cautiously pad towards the older Uchiha. "Um. Madara-sama?"
"You can't have this sword," blurted the man, recoiling with the blade. Surprised, Tobi paused and clutched his hands to his chest nervously.
"Hey, Tobi, can you move? I want to train."
Obito was duly ignored. Besides that, however, Zetsu had crawled into a nest of tree branches, watching this exchange with his thousands of sleeping clones. He quite enjoyed the view from the arms of the Gedo Mazou; well, it was a little chilly, but the shell of the Juubi had a natural warmth that nullified the cavern's cold air.
Take it. I need more than just spoons and potato chips and this jacket.
Madara realized he was speaking to the eyehole.
No, not speaking — listening.
"I-I c-cant," stammered Tobi, clutching his hands harder.
He's not scary.
No, no he's not. Let me tell you a story. One time, he ran so fast that he didn't realize he was running on water, and when he finally saw that he was in the middle of a lake, he fell and sank almost the bottom.
At this, Tobi giggled, and Madara brandished the sword. Whoever was in the eyehole knew far too much about him, and needed to be — wait a minute.
Another time, he lost to a Senju racing up a tree.
"Senju," snorted Tobi, finding the name entertaining.
Okay, now get the sword.
Tobi's giggles turned to silent horror, skittering sideways and shaking his head vehemently. He nearly ran into Obito, who leapt out of the way and tried to keep Tobi from absorbing his beloved green scarf in his panic. Honestly, Obito wanted to know if his Kamui could reach Tobi-land, because if he ever lost something — Rin's ribbon, his scarf, maybe that old pair of shinobi-issued sandals that his father had given him, his team picture with Rin, Bakakashi, and Minato-sensei… — he would want to find a way to get it back.
"I don't care about this, but I won't let you have the sword," Madara said, waving the blade in the air. Its tip snaked an S, rising up and leveling with Madara's chest.
You know, I need something to attack and defend with. For example, should someone use a Flying Thunder God Slash, perhaps I shall be able to attack and defend.
Madara stared at Tobi, who twiddled his thumbs sheepishly.
"Um." Obito wiggled his kunai in front of Tobi's face. To his horror, Tobi grabbed his arm and nearly took off his hand. The kunai slipped through the eyehole with a satisfying pop, and would have taken off Obito's hand had he not activated his Kamui. "HEY!"
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm really, really sorry!" wailed Tobi. "Tobi didn't mean to! Honest!"
Madara was going mad. He just knew it. After all these years…Cursing to himself, Madara folded his arms. Why were the Senju always right? It was like talking to a woman — even if they weren't right, they were always right. He cursed the fact that Senju Tobirama's foreshadowing words — "You Uchiha are crazy," said in a casual, fond manner to Uchiha Kagami when the poor child ran into a door because Hiruzen was chasing him — turned out to be true in the long run.
"Izuna! Get out of there, now!" hollered the old man, waving the sword dangerously close to Tobi's neck. "I will cut off his neck."
"Whoa, whoa, old man, what's the big deal?!" Obito leapt in front of Tobi, only to awkwardly dodge an annoyed swing. The blade flicked back to its original position.
Oho, brother, you found me!
Madara glared, and Tobi cowered.
Just kidding. I'm actually the Second Mizukage.
"You've got to be kidding me," hissed Madara under his breath.
You just got trolled. Epic fail!
Immediately, Obito grabbed Tobi's arm and sucked him into Kamui-space. He stumbled backward, unable to absorb Tobi for some unknown reason, and staggered into a chair before spitting out the swirl-face in a rush. Nonetheless, the poor, confused boy with the eyehole was safe and in one piece.
Wait, wait, wait. If this was the Second Mizukage, how did he know about the one time Madara fell in a lake…
"Hashirama!" screamed the old man.
"The world is ending," Zetsu deadpanned, crawling up the arm for the Gedo Mazou. He knocked on its wooden bicep. "Hey, hey, are you going to revive now, or what?" No answer. Zetsu crawled into some stray branches and melded into the tree, hoping to stay out of Madara's way.
Oho, my friend! You've found me!
Madara stared at Tobi; Tobi stared back blankly, the eyehole a hypnotizing abyss of nothingness.
Obito snorted with laughter and fled to a safer place.
Madara slashed at Tobi, and the swirl-face screamed and began to run about the cavern. He crashed into the table, sending the bowls of unfinished green soup flying into the distance. It ended with a painful splat on the uneven rock floor. Obito grimaced; they'd be cleaning the stupid floor again, soon.
A mud pie was pulled from his eyehole, and Tobi chucked it at Madara, who slashed through it angrily.
I'm actually, continued the voice, Senju Butsuma!
You're right. I'm YOUR FATHER.
Madara caught Tobi by the arm and grabbed his throat. He peered into the empty eyehole, and emitted as much anger as he could. He wanted to express, clearly, to the eyehole, that he hated it. He hated his own creation.
"What is in your eyehole? Who is talking to you?"
Tobi, whimpering, pulled out as many things as he could. A candy bar, a diamond ring, more mud cakes, potato chips, a jacket, a blouse, an old samurai's armor, a couple of spoons, some green soup, a patch of grass, colored pencils, a water bottle, an Iwa nin's sleeve, withered flowers, a ribbon — "Hey!" exclaimed Obito at the sight of Rin's old ribbon (that he totally hadn't stalked her to get) — one sock, two eye-patches, a gold watch, a couple of frogs, a garden snake, some snails, a slug or two, a parrot, a teeny dog, a pony, someone's dishwasher, a bathtub, a baby giraffe…
And then out popped Senju Itama, having the time of his non-existent life.
…cup ramen, some paintbrushes, an old Academy textbook, an Icha Icha novel, a pair of Gai's old green tights, some dango, Uchiha Kagami's winter gloves, Uchiha Tajima's shoes, Obito's goggles, Sasuke's dinosaur toy…
I'm leaving, I'm leaving! Jeez, Tobirama-nii-san was right. I can't have fun with Uchiha…sulked the ghost.
"Lies!" barked Obito.
...Kushina's wallet — Tobi was making a third pile now — Tsunade's lucky dice, some soda cans, a couple more snails, a suspiciously blue-haired doll, a cat — "Her name's Maia", Zetsu whispered to Obito — a shark, an emerald necklace, an oversized shoe, a Shiba Inu dog, a bewildered gray squirrel that had an explosive tag on its back, Shisui's glasses…
My grandnephew told me that there was something interesting around here….what, why are you looking at me like that?
"His name wasn't Nawaki, was it…?"
…a camel, a glacier, the Titanic, Deidara's scope, the Mizukage's underwear, a couple of puppets, a suspiciously red-eyed duck, another Zetsu, Obito's shirt, an Uzumaki ghost by the name of Honoka, a flopping fish…
You know Nawaki?
Everyone looked at Obito, save Tobi, who was frantically trying to chase the fish. Now, was there water in his eyehole, or what?
Nawaki's funny, isn't he? We—
Oh my gosh, Itama, didn't I tell you not to wander off!
Itama the ghost sulked at this new voice, and everyone looked about.
Yeah, but I'm older than you, Itama voiced.
So? We're both dead…
"AH!" exclaimed Tobi, whipping out another ghost. Now, beside Itama and the silent, redhead Uzumaki phantom was a pale, white-haired boy with an x-shaped scar on his cheek. "Found ya."
What the…what was that?
That was the portal, explained the redhead.
I'm a ghost.
Obviously. The new figure rolled his eyes.
You know, you're just jealous you can't seal monsters.
You know, mimicked the white-haired boy, I'm a Senju.
Kawarama, you're a drag.
Says the Oreo, mocked Kawarama.
…a Hokage hat, a pencil case, another Zetsu, another Tobi — who promptly sucked the original Tobi into his eyehole, becoming one with the first one — a couple of spiders, a spider web, dust particles, a flaming ball of burning clothes, a toilet…
Can we just leave? The redhead was bored.
Who are you? Itama asked.
I'm a relative of Mito's.
The copper-haired ghost gave up and sauntered up to Tobi. In a flash, she disappeared through the eyehole.
Well. Anyway, said Kawarama, folding his arms. Tobirama-nii says to come back.
Tobirama-nii-chan is dead.
Yeah. Like us.
Tobirama-nii-chan did not tell you to tell me to come back. Itama sat down, cross-legged, in an act of defiance.
Oh? Kawarama glared.
Tobirama-nii-chan is having fun with his wife.
At this, Obito spluttered.
"So he is married!" he exclaimed. "I thought he was forever alone, and that made him a grumpy guy…"
"He was a grumpy guy anyway," spat Madara, still eyeing the two Senju ghosts that were bickering in front of him. He noticed that some of the green goop soup had wiggled its way over to the scene.
Aww, nasty! Kawarama leapt to his feet.
What you just said about Tobirama-nii.
It's not like Hashirama-nii-chan's any different.
Oh shut up.
You shut up.
I'll tell Dad on you.
Who cares? We're dead. Itama rolled his eyes. Madara, as far as he could recall, did not receive the message that Senju Itama was such a rebel from Hashirama's loving descriptions.
You guys are slow.
And then they all turned to Tobi and the fourth specter, a faded, slim man who was by far the tallest of the ghostly travelers.
…toilet paper, a river, barbecued beef, a steak, chicken wings, an ear of corn, a cow, a peacock, a lamp, a genie, an air conditioning unit, Terumi Mei's favorite shoes, Sasori's pet bunny, Orochimaru's funky purple earrings, an ANBU mask, a tree, and…
Oh fine, Izuna, sighed Itama, getting to his feet. He eyed the now-moldy soup — it was appallingly overgrown with weeds, now, as if it was Hashirama reborn in the form of ugly onion soup — and walked over to Tobi. In a flash, he and Kawarama were gone.
Oh. Nii-san. Hi.
Izuna waved, and then he was gone.
…and a pair of Madara's socks, a CD, a police officer, a—
"Can you just put it all back?" requested Madara, looking tired.
"Of course Tobi can!"
And thus, Tobi began to stuff all his belonging back into his eyehole efficiently. First went the police officer, a CD, a pair of Madara's socks, a tree, an ANBU mask, Orochimaru's funky purple earrings, Sasori's pet bunny…
And so on, and so forth.
Madara's eyes shot open, and his old, frail body shuddered in cold sweat. Terror seized his old, faintly beating heart, and he tried to figure out what had just happened. He'd had a terrible dream, and had been watching Tobi stuff a suspiciously red-eyed duck into his eyehole when he woke up. Now, he could hardly remember the dream. He supposed that it was a good thing, especially if all he recalled was that it had been mentally scarring.
Give me the spoon.
There he was, holding a flashlight by his chin for a chilling light effect. His scarred side let the light play along the lines of his cheek unevenly, and the absence of a left eye provided a gaping darkness for the flashlight to emphasize in shadows.
Madara, who nearly had a heart attack, screeched:
"OBITO, YOU FOOL!"
And it spirals into madness...down Tobi's eyehole.
Is Tobi's eyehole the gate to the world of the dead, or what?