Hello hello! Updates, yey!
A couple of things:
1) Yes, I know that "Tobi" is known as Swirl Zetsu. Thanks for telling me, but for the sake of writing and names, he will be Tobi here.
2) BEWARE: CROSSOVERSSSSS. (still in the Naruto fandom, though, lol)
3) RIN, YOU HERO.
Basically, long story short about this chapter: There are references to other stories, but if you didn't read them, it's fine too, because it just sounds more like funny chaos if you don't know the references. And funny chaos is good. If you DO know the stories, and I think you should go read them (bwahaha), then it's...hehehehehe. /laughs evilly/
REFERENCE ONE: comes from my own story, Emeralds,just briefly. Kind of. Lol.
REFERENCE TWO: comes from Phoenixyfriend's story, Gender Confusion,which is great! GO CHECK IT OUT! :'D And this is a rather big reference...if you don't get it, this will come across as just funny fudge that the gang likes to mess around with.
REFERENCE THREE: is teeny tiny. Something about pigeons, yeah?
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, because...MINATO WAS ON TIME, YEAAAAH!
Chapter 12: In which dimensions cross, and Rin sings.
"So you're trying to tell me that there's a correlation between the number of people killed each year in this village, and the sales production of the local choco-banana shop?" The very mention of chocolate-covered bananas drove Tobi, simply put, bananas, while Obito folded his arms and sneered skeptically at the pale, grassy-topped Zetsu before him.
"Yep," affirmed Zetsu, grinning and tracing his unevenly plated chest, sharp teeth glinting.
But Obito was unconvinced, quirking a brow at his plant of a companion.
"And when the number of people killed goes up, the choco-banana sales skyrocket," Zetsu continued, gesturing wildly — it was either that, or he was trying to smack Tobi out of the way — with eyes growing wider and wider, "and on top of that, all the Uchiha children win their piano competitions."
At this, Obito burst into laughter, because he knew for sure that that last portion of the tale was completely false. He had never, not once, in his career as a genin-wannabe-student-pianist, won any sort of piano competition. Good ole Obito, confident and grinning, would walk up to the stage, bow, sit down, and turn into a quaking mess of jumbled fingers. Oh sure, he was a good pianist; he just couldn't perform in front of people. It was one of his most hated activities.
"That is, unless you're Uchiha Obito," corrected Zetsu, as if reading the boy's mind. Obito glowered, elbowing Tobi when the swirl-face bobbed his way.
"It's still not true," insisted the Uchiha, smoothing out his ragged cloak. He'd abandoned his neat chuunin uniform a while ago, mostly because it was ripped on one side and he'd never bothered to clean it. Try as he might, the nearby creek was not as efficient nor was it as effective as his mother…or the Laundromat.
Zetsu shrugged, and pointed at the old, slumbering Uchiha on a bench, "You can ask Madara. I bet he played the piano well."
"I'm sure he did," snarled Obito, rolling his good eye.
"Tobi plays the piano," said the swirl-Zetsu, sticking a finger into his eyehole. The leg of a piano bench suddenly slipped out of his masked face, and following it, the bench itself, and then an entire grand piano. "Watch!" exclaimed Tobi, plunking himself down and wiggling into a comfortable position.
Besides the fact that Tobi was playing some epic sonata strung together by the Senju clan, Zetsu and Obito were marveling at the fact that an entire piano had just been produced from seemingly nowhere.
"Who is playing that?!" hissed Madara, jumping up from his seat. Or rather, his old, frail body remained in a deep sleep on the stone platform, while the very realistic, very lifelike genjutsu of his young self sprang to his feet. Madara was a menacing nest of black hair stalking their way, and while two of the youngsters cringed, Tobi continued scaling away on the piano without a care in the world. Madara scowled and snapped, "Obito, what are you playing?"
"It's not me," said the boy, wrinkling his nose and jabbing a finger at Tobi. Madara turned to the swirl-face and coughed loudly, folding his arms and waiting until the masked Zetsu slowly and hesitantly swiveled in his seat to face them.
"Didya like it?" he whispered. If he'd had a face, Tobi would've giggled like a schoolgirl and smiled so brightly that even Madara's eternal Mangekyo would have gone blind.
"That was a Senju piece," Madara stated flatly.
"So? Tell him to play an Uchiha one, then," Obito drawled, plopping down cross-legged on the floor and rocking back and forth. Zetsu somewhat hung around behind the boy, a strange, pointy grin plastered on his face.
"Know your history, Obito," Zetsu said, "the Uchiha don't have piano pieces."
"Well then, how do the Senju have piano pieces?"
"Actually," Tobi broke in, "this isn't a Senju piece."
"Yes, yes it is," Madara said dryly.
"Uh, no, no it isn't," returned Tobi. If the elder Uchiha was getting annoyed at the swirl-face, he was doing a fantastic job of not showing it. Unless you counted the dark aura that was seeping from the back of this neutral-faced man. "It is," Tobi continued, "a traditional islander's piece from the land of—"
"If you say poop, I will kill you," hissed Obito under his breath.
"Don't remind him!" exclaimed Zetsu and his Zetsu clones in unison.
"POOP?! WHO SAID POOP?!" Tobi completely forgot that he was explaining the origins of his brilliantly played piano piece, and instead began giggling like an idiot and flinging his arms about. Madara looked like he wanted to hit something, very badly.
"I kind of want to know where the song was from," mused Zetsu.
"Ne, 'Bito, you said poop," cackled Tobi.
"Okay, forget I said anything," growled Obito, hunching over and crossing his arms.
"It's a Senju song," Madara told Zetsu flatly, disregarding the other conversation.
"Poooop," sang Tobi.
"It is? But Tobi said it was—"
Obito leapt to his feet and closed the gap between himself and the piano bench with one stride, vehemently grabbing Tobi by the shoulders and shaking the poor thing. "STOP IT WITH THE POOP."
"You brought it up," Zetsu supplied flatly. Tobi whimpered and cringed, attempting to sidle over to Zetsu, but he was firmly held down on the piano bench. Obito's Sharingan swirled, but to his shock, all he saw was a current of chakra running down in a spiral into Tobi's eyehole. Immediately, he leapt back, and barely managed to escape being sucked into Tobi-land.
"TOBI IS SORRY!" The spiral-face slapped hand over his eyehole, distressed. "They are calling Tobi, but Tobi is a good boy, so Tobi won't answer them…"
Without further explanation, Tobi turned around and continued playing his piano piece.
"To be honest, this is rather nostalgic," Madara said to himself quietly.
"Is everyone here bipolar or something?" shouted Obito.
"I don't think that's the correct term. Actually, I think—"
"MAY THE STARS CROWN YOU WITH EMERALDS," sang Tobi far too loudly to be appropriate. "AND THE—"
"Ah," said Madara, nodding in realization. "Now I remember where this is from."
"SHUT UP!" screamed Obito and Zetsu and the same time, tackling Tobi to the ground. First of all, Tobi had the most grating voice on the face of the earth, and secondly, there were things seeping out of his eyehole with every single word. The two watched in horror as Tobi's eyehole widened and random items/creatures started pouring out of Tobi-land.
The scariest thing was a hand with a ring on it. But the hand was enclosed around a box, a ring box. Tobi, curious, paused the flow of things from the other dimension, and pried the box from the hand. It was small, blue velvet, and brand new. Zetsu ooh'd and ahh'd at the box just for the giggles. Tobi flipped the small box open, and they were amazed to find a beautifully cut sapphire ring inside, mounted on white gold and surrounded with glittering diamonds.
"Are those real?" Zetsu asked, amazed.
"I think so," Obito said, one eye widening.
Madara peered over, and frowned. "What is that doing here?"
"Tobi pulled it from his eyehole," explained Obito. "We can make a fortune off of that, hand it over—"
"NO!" Tobi jerked way too violently, leaping to his feet, dropping the severed hand and skittishly hopping away with the ring box clenched to his chest. The old, rotten piece of human corpse fell to the ground with a disgusting plop and squish, but no one flinched. Madara, rather amused, stared at the hand for a good moment or two. Those rings look familiar, he thought to himself. In fact, didn't I buy those rings way back when from some dealer named Kakuzu?
Madara frowned some more. He was onto something, something important, but in his old age, he supposed he was bound to forget something or the other. Meanwhile, Obito had taken to chasing poor Tobi around, who protectively kept the ring out of reach. Not the ring on the severed hand, the other one — the pretty sapphire one.
"Guys." Zetsu was not one to get scared, but he swore that he'd seen… "Guys."
Tobi tripped and went rolling. He slammed into a wall of the cavern but scrambled to his feet, just escaping Obito's grasping hands. At one point, Obito attempted to Kamui himself over to some other end of the cavern, but his timing was off — note to self: Obito needs some more practice with mid-air Kamui, Madara thought — and he simply tumbled past Tobi in a heap of ragged Uchiha boy.
"No, you can't sell this, it's important!" Tobi hollered, tightening his grip on the box.
"GUYS!" interjected Zetsu, skittering to his feet and backing away from the hand.
"What?" asked Obito dryly, tired of all the chaos.
"The hand… moved."
"Don't say something so ridiculous, it obviously can't move," replied Obito, stalking over to where Zetsu was. "It's not connected to its body."
"Speaking of which," Madara cut in, "will someone turn the hand over so I can see that ring?"
"I WON'T LET YOU!" Tobi screamed, shaking and petting the blue velvet box with a strange sort of adoration for it.
"Not that one, this one," sighed Madara, jabbing a thumb at the decaying wrist with a couple of grossly eaten fingers. "Turn it over."
"I ain't touchin' that," Obito said immediately.
"Fine," sighed the grassy-topped Senju DNA clone, bending over and picking up the corpse's hand. "You know, on second thought, this actually looks—"
"Don't eat it," interrupted Madara snappishly. Zetsu gave the old man a demure smile and held it out for him to see. The ancient Uchiha peered over the rotting hand, taking note of the familiar, round ring bearing the kanji, san, meaning "three", on top. Wait a minute, don't I have these in a box over there…? Madara frowned harder. If he frowned any harder than that, Obito feared that the eyebrows would fall past his nose.
"PUT IT BACK, PUT IT BACK!" Tobi suddenly came screaming his mask off (almost), and snatching the arm from Zetsu. With a bewildering shloop noise, the detached arm was sucked back into the eyehole. Obito came running, making one last dash for the sapphire ring. He managed to grab the box and pop it open, almost reached the ring itself, but fell short when Tobi tackled him to the floor.
In an instant, everything began to become distorted. Obito's vision began to twist towards Tobi's eyehole, and in an instant, he knew that if he didn't use Kamui, he'd be dead meat. Luckily, his Mangekyo saved him in time, teleporting him in a similar fashion to a safe distance beside Madara, but Tobi snapped the ring box shut and pulled it into his eyehole without hesitation.
"I WON'T LET YOU HAVE IT, IT'S IMPORTANT," cried the spiral-Zetsu. "THEY'RE GOING TO DIG HIM UP AND FIX IT! IT'S IMPORTANT, YOU'LL SEE!"
"Okay, okay, whatever," sighed a confused Obito, slumping down onto the ground again. Suddenly exhausted, he laid back and tried to figure out what exactly just happened. Finding himself unable to focus, he frowned in a Madara-like fashion and attempted to analyze what just happened with Tobi.
Instead, he had a flashback.
"You know, I really don't like choco-bananas," said Rin.
"You don't?" Obito was dismayed, because he loved choco-bananas, despite the fact that they meant imminent heartburn. But he tagged along with her anyway, eager to please. He never faltered, because this was the Rin that let him buy choco-bananas even though she disliked them, the Rin that bandaged him up when he was sore and tired, the Rin that watched his piano recitals and clapped even when the rest of the Uchiha clan sat in somber silence. This was Rin, after all.
"Nah, not really," she replied, shrugging. "You knew that, didn't you?"
"Haha, yeah, I did," Obito replied, somewhat bashfully. He knew for a few reasons: One, he was a stalker. Two, they were like, best friends. Three, well…they were teammates, after all. And four, he was a stalker — "I am not!" — or maybe just a creeper. Probably both.
He added, "I just never knew why."
"Maybe it's the thickness? I don't know, chocolate-covered bananas makes my stomach upset," Rin reasoned, smiling sweetly. She tucked her hands into her pockets — she was wearing an overly large sweater that belonged to Minato-sensei because it was cold — and hummed a tune. Obito laughed, then.
"I like'em, but they give me heartburn," he exclaimed. She burst into laughter, and he wished he could just take a snapshot of her right then and there, to keep with him forever.
"But you eat them anyways, right?" Rin grinned, and a lock of beautiful brown hair slipped from behind her ear and framed her face. Obito wanted to reach over and brush it back for her, she was so beautiful.
"Of course I do! I'm Uchiha Obito, after all!" He made a show of puffing up his chest and striking a pose; she laughed, just like he wanted her to. A small portion of him bitterly thought, Kakashi never makes her laugh. Why does she like him? But that didn't discourage him, not that much on the outside.
They continued down the street. Dusk had settled, and it was just past dinnertime, but the main market streets were still bustling with activity, and preparation for the summer festival was underway. Perhaps that was what brought up the choco-bananas.
"You have your piano concert soon, right?"
"Competition," Obito corrected, but not too forcefully.
"Right, that one! When is it?"
"Um," Obito mumbled, because he wasn't too fond of that contest. "It's next Sunday." In a rush, he added quickly, "Youdon'thavetocomethough."
"Of course I'll come! Next Sunday at what time?" Rin threw a glance towards the Hokage Tower. "I'll tell Hokage-sama that I won't be able to work at the hospital then."
"No, your hospital work is important!"
Rin laughed. "But you are too! I wouldn't miss it for the world."
"Well, if you really want to…I start at around noon," he told her. "I'm not good though, so please don't expect much…"
"Obito, I've watched you play every year since we've been on this team! I think you're great." She threw him an encouraging smile and elbowed him gently. "You're Uchiha Obito, after all, right?"
He returned the grin, and was almost courageous enough to ask her out, but then—
"You two. Minato-sensei is looking for you."
Cool and aloof, the masked Kakashi with his silver hair glinting in the nearby lanterns' light. Obito's heart fell when Rin's face lit up, and he clenched his jaw to keep from spitting out any sort of caustic comment at the Hatake.
"Kakashi!" exclaimed Rin, jogging over to him. "We were just—"
"We have a mission. Report in an hour." Coldly, Kakashi turned and stalked off, not really paying much attention to the young kunoichi vying for his attention. Obito said nothing, only watched as the silver-headed shinobi turn on his heel and leave Rin hanging in mid-sentence. He could only see Rin's back then, only her hands as they fell to her sides. She clenched and unclenched her fists, and her shoulders sank just a little bit.
In an incredible effort, she turned around and threw Obito a smile. He did not smile back.
"Well, we have an hour. Wanna go check out the parade preparations?"
"Actually, I think the choco-banana stand is up. C'mon we'll get you one."
"And then it'll be about time to report for—"
She stopped then, her pretty little smile frozen on her face, blinking at him innocently. Obito waited. Rin pressed her lips into a firm line; if she didn't control her face, she would probably burst into tears. Such was the sensitivity of a young girl who simply wanted someone to pay attention to her, but was rejected every time.
Obito readjusted his goggles on his head and opened his arms.
Without waiting, she burst into tears and buried her face into his shirt. Obito drew them to a secluded corner, where no one would really pay attention to them. She was tears and snot and sobs, but he didn't care. He skillfully and gracefully whipped a tissue from his pocket, while his other hand patted her back softly.
Rin accepted the tissue and cried quietly into it for a minute or two.
"Th-thank you, Obito," she finally managed. "You really are my best friend."
Obito didn't really say anything, only kept patting her back and looked away. He suddenly wished he had a tissue for himself, but he'd given them all to her. His heart sank, but he was just a tad bit better at covering it in public; he pulled his goggles down over his eyes. Rin didn't seem to notice how odd it was for him to be wearing them at this time, on a darkening night. She blew her nose and tried to still her remaining gasps and sobs, biting her lower lip.
"How about that choco-banana?" she offered, hooking her arm around his.
"Only if you eat one too," he replied calmly.
"You know I don't like them."
"Then we'll get you taiyaki or something. You really like those, don't you?" Obito's grin was easy, it came to his lips as naturally as breathing. But this one time, it was forced, pushed onto his face by some grand effort, and he hoped that she could not tell.
"You just know me so well," she replied, laughing. Rin's brown hair brushed his cheek when she turned away from him, and Obito stepped back. Hidden in her words, the echo of friend lingered, and he tried not to dwell on it.
They went down the street, grinning and laughing and joking just as they were before Kakashi had come. Rin, slightly red-eyed and sniffling — Obito, characteristic orange goggles obscuring his sad eyes.
Rin began to hum, the same tune she'd hummed before, the whole time with her arm in the crook of his.
"Obito?" Tobi peered down at the boy, who was lying on his back on the cold, cavern floor.
"What," snapped the Uchiha, sitting up.
"I almost thought you were a corpse," Zetsu said flatly, grinning. "I would've eaten you."
"Delicious," retorted Obito, climbing to his feet. Madara was standing in the middle of the cavern, waiting for him to come and train. Obito was not quite sure how long he'd been lying on the floor, his only indication a sore neck and back. Then, it hit him.
"AHA!" he exclaimed, spinning around and nearly crashing into Zetsu. "I know where that song is from!"
"Tobi already told you, it's not a Senju song," Tobi said.
"No, it's not! It's Rin's song!"
Everyone stared at him incredulously.
"Child, are you feverish?" Madara walked over, and in a shocking act of fatherly care, he pressed the back of his hand to Obito's forehead. "You're a bit warm."
"I'm fine!" exclaimed Obito. "That song, though. It's Rin's song! She was humming it, and—"
"As far as I know, that is one of Hurricane's traditional songs," Madara droned, gripping the boy's shoulder so that he stayed still. "How or why your friend knew it, I don't know, but it's definitely—"
"Definitely Rin's song!"
"No, it is—
Madara paused, taking a breath and pushing Obito out to arm's length. The boy squirmed beneath his grip, but he did not let go. "You are not feeling well," he stated blandly. "Go lie down."
"It's Rin's song," growled Obito.
"Rocks, boy," snarled Madara, snapping, "I heard the princess of Hurricane play it herself, it is not your Rin's song!"
"Where's Hurricane?" blurted Tobi.
"It's now the Principality of Hurricane under Kirigakure rule," Zetsu supplied rather mechanically, plopping a big fat textbook on Tobi's lap. "You dropped this from your eyehole."
"Oh. Tobi thanks you," Tobi said, pouring the book down his eyehole like liquid. If he tried, he could probably suck things through a straw.
"Rin's song!" chirped Obito, blinking several times as a flop of black, mangled hair dropped in front of his face. "Rin's song!"
"Zetsu," called Madara. "Tuck him into bed, will you?"
Zetsu made a face, and Madara sighed. He guided Obito over to his secluded little mattress and made the boy lie down in it. Obito became severely dizzy, as if he'd hit his head at some point in his squabble with Zetsu and was now paying the price for it. He collapsed into the bed and did not protest when Madara grudgingly tucked him in.
"Thanks, pops," murmured Obito hazily. Madara fought the smile that pulled at his mouth, cursing the bubbling warmth that hugged his chest. "G'night, pops."
"It's noontime, Obito," Madara replied.
"Love ya, old man," gurgled the younger Uchiha before the lights went completely out and he fell asleep, head lolling to the side of his pillow. Madara sighed, glancing over his shoulder to see Zetsu and Tobi glancing curiously their way. The elder Uchiha bit the inside of his cheek, inwardly hissing at the smile that curled his mouth up. Then, readjusting Obito so that the boy laid straight on his bed, he ruffled the boy's hair fondly.
"You are the bane of my existence," he said simply, before turning on his heel and trudging back to the army of Zetsus hanging on the Gedo Mazou.
Somewhere, a herd of invisible watchers cooed, "Aww," and assembled themselves into a massive pigeon choir.
It had been maybe fifteen or so years, and Obito found himself using Kamui so easily that he could've done it in his sleep. From here to there and there and back, with the swirl face of Tobi slipped over his scarred features, he traveled. Blending in and out of the mountains and trees, he could get anywhere without ever crossing the in-between. And here he was, musing over the current situation.
He slipped out of a tree, dropping nonchalantly beside the exotic, blonde bomb specialist that was the target of today's mission. What was today's mission? Well, besides the fact that there was—
He nearly stumbled, but fixed his path and landed lightly beside Deidara, who sitting on the ground and admiring a ring on his finger. Sapphire, white gold, lots and lots of diamonds that were so bright they could've blinded Madara. The last time Obito had seen that ring, he'd wanted to sell it for a fortune.
And then, he realized, that he had a couple of new revelations, and one gigantic question.
First of all, the severed hand had been Hidan's. And now, evidently, the pretty ring in the blue velvet box was Deidara's. Huh. How nicely that worked out, he thought, mulling over how strangely it was that Hidan's death had somehow been known to him years and years before, and Deidara would happen to wear this ring (for the most unexpected reasons, really). Puzzle pieces floating around in the air seemingly locked into place, fitting quite nicely until his last question stomped by and ripped it to shreds.
What in the world did Tobi's eyehole — Tobi-land — have to do with this?
In the end, Obito could only awkwardly manage: