Another birthday-related one! :)
Note: I received a kind review(s) from a guest! I'm not sure if it's from the same guest, but THANK YOU, LOVELY ANON! You (all?) have made my day(s), really. I'm truly glad you like this story...
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, because (SPOILER) who else is adfhging excited that all four Hokage are back?!
Disclaimer 2/ Second Note: Any music from Les Miserables or The Lion King doesn't belong to me, but to their respective owners. But the Shinobi Tree...wellllll. :
Chapter 7: OH! Shinobi Tree, Cakes, and Songs.
Oh Shinobi Tree, Oh Shinobi Tree, thy leaves are so unchanging! OH Shinobi Tree, OH Shinobi Tree, the old man does not like Hashi!
For he is the one who is a tree, and the Shinobi tree is a song of he,
Oh Shinobi Tree, Oh Shinobi Tree,
We have lived through Ninja World War Three!
"That was pitiful."
"And tell me again, what it is you're doing?" Kabuto said nonchalantly, twirling a scaly finger in the air. He knew full well that he'd receive meager answers, but he asked nonetheless.
"I'm turning hope into despair," Obito answered simply, glaring through his one eyehole at the serpent of a man. Kabuto's tongue flickered in and out of his mouth, a patient expression of a king cobra in waiting. However, he said nothing more, and simply walked—slithered, really—away.
Zetsu eyed the masked man, running a hand through his grassy hair.
"You're a funny guy, you know that?" he said.
"And why's that?" Obito, a man grown stony and cold, with taciturn expressions and little to offer in conversation.
"You said that you were turning hope into despair," Zetsu replied simply. Obito nodded, impatiently gesturing for the pale man to continue. "Yet, if I remember correctly, you swore that you'd turn despair into hope."
"Not I, Zetsu," Obito sighed, suddenly tired. Which wasn't quite right, because Uchiha Obito, nowadays, did not simply just tire. "Kakashi. With my eye, Kakashi would turn the despair of my death into hope."
"Funny people, all of you are," mused Zetsu, ambling away to mingle with his multiple clones. "You were always the funniest, you know."
Obito had to disagree; his two old friends, with their crazy antics, had always been the light of day in that musty cavern.
A whisper in his hear.
A more insistent whisper now, but the boy rolled in his sheets and tucked his ears under his pillows, curling into a ball. Whoever was trying to wake him sat patiently, poking him from time to time. Obito was growing annoyed, but did not answer.
Do you hear the people sing? Singing the song of angry men—
Obito whipped an extra pillow out of nowhere, presumably Kamui-land, and slapped it against the whispering alarm clock, with swirls for clock hands and a mysterious eyehole on one side.
…Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful phrase!
"Ah, Obito, such fluffiness to your pillows," rasped a second voice, cackling. Obito didn't even have to turn to know that a green head was peering over him.
Caaaan you feeeel the love tonight?
"For the love of Rin, you two, leave me alone!" Obito spun around so quickly, he nearly rammed heads with Zetsu, who shot back, alarmed. "Let me sleep!"
"Go sleep in Kamui-land," suggested Zetsu. "Unless you wanna help us."
"Help you do what?!" hissed Obito, throwing Tobi a look so sharp that the swirl-face yelped and ceased his singing.
"You'll see, if you follow. And be more quiet!" Zetsu stood then, quietly padding across the uneven cavern floor, towards the big wall. The gigantic boulder had long since been pulled back into place, somehow, but Zetsu melded into it easily. Tobi skipped after his companion, merging himself with the earth just as naturally, and disappearing. Obito glared, rubbed his good eyes, and sat up. He brushed his long, wild hair out of his face, hair that resembled Madara so much, they could be mirror images (except Obito was far younger, and by his standards, far handsomer—not that he'd ever let the old man know, of course).
Kamui brought him from the cave to ground level, where he looked about and focused his eyesight in the dark to find his two friends. Zetsu waved. Obito followed, and ducked behind the copse of trees that shielded a small, bushy alcove. It was a decent hiding spot, had it not been freezing with a light layer of crunchy snow underfoot.
"What the hell, guys, I wanted to sleep in!" Obito crossed his arms, guarding against the cold. The half of his transplanted body felt little, but his still-human portion shivered fiercely. This was also a few months prior to his receiving of a warm, comfortable green scarf, so Obito had little more than the patched up jumper he'd picked up quickly to shield him from the falling snow.
The Uchiha grumpily studied the uneven clan crest he'd sewn himself onto the coat's breast pocket, rather proud of his work, but unsatisfied with the lack of insulation the coat provided. Mostly, he blamed Zetsu and Tobi, so he continued glaring at them with an intensity surpassing that of an angry Hyuuga.
"All right, Mr. Grumpy-pants, we need your help," Zetsu said matter-of-factly. "First, fire, second, ice cream."
"Why do you need my help?" Obito spat, before realizing the rest of Zetsu's statement. "What the heck? Fire and ice cream?"
"Precisely," chimed Tobi, trying to sound like a neat and tidy gentleman. He took on the accent of a snotty Konoha councilman, chin up, (nonexistent) nose in the air. "We require your services, my dear boy."
"My dear boy your foot," snarled Obito, shoving the swirl-face. Tobi broke into uncontrollable giggles, and his hysterics were rather contagious, seeing as a smirk had caught onto Obito's features. The smile stayed, despite his violently chattering teeth, and the horribly stuffy, red nose he was developing out in the cold. "Must I remind you that I'm not all plant-man?" he added out of the blue, shifting from foot to foot in an attempt to produce some body heat.
"Ah," Zetsu said. "Anyway, this, right here, is our project."
"Project? What could you guys be working on?" Obito laughed dryly. "I'm seriously wondering why you two yahoos woke me up at like, two in the morning, on Christmas Eve."
Obito knew nothing of the time, only assumed it was far too early to be awake, but he was well aware that today was Christmas Eve. Moments after Tobi had disappeared into the wall after Zetsu, he'd had a sad memory, a brief one, of pulling the annual mistletoe trick on Asuma and Kurenai, who from then on stayed at opposite corners of the party, poor things.
"Christmas Eve? Pshh, that's nothing. We're talking much bigger, 'Bito." Zetsu reached under an impressively sculpted dome of soil, tree bark, and leaves, and produced three pans, each a different size, and filled with a batter that should've been frozen.
"Ice cream," Tobi said bluntly, pointing to the biggest pan. Obito could only assume that the inside had ice cream, and was perfectly chilled in the current weather. Oh, how the ice cream fared better than he did.
"Oookay," replied Obito, arching a curious brow. "A cake?"
An ice cream cake?
"Yeah, stupid," Zetsu snapped. "It's the old man's birthday! How could you not know?"
"…Maybe because he's like 100 years old, and probably related to my great great great great granduncle or something," drawled Obito, rolling his eye. Zetsu waved him off, shaking his head.
"I need you to bake this."
"In this weather?"
"C'mon, man, it'll warm everyone up." Zetsu gave Obito a rather sardonic pout, eyebrows comically arched at different angles; the meaning of the expression, however, was clearly sarcastic and rather insulting, in Obito's opinion, of Uchiha fire prowess.
With an adept display of chakra control and precision, Obito evenly heated all three pans of batter, and then afterwards, kept the entire area warm so that Tobi could slather on some icing (pulled from his eyehole, suspiciously), and Zetsu could layer the cake's tiers. More icing from what was to be dubbed Eyehole-land, in contrast to Obito's Kamui-land, and a pretty, though slightly messy, Uchiha clan crest was painted on top.
"Should we have enough candles for his age?" Tobi asked, licking icing off his fingers. Well, more like he dipped the digits into his eyehole, and they came back clean. Obito, to this day, still wonders what hid behind that eyehole—as far as he knew, nothing, because Tobi had been capable of opening himself up and encasing Obito inside of his shell.
"That's too many candles," Obito deadpanned. "I could just light a huge Katon, and he'd have fun Katon-ing back at me. And then I'd fly into the wall, because the last time I tried that, he seriously blew me out like a candle."
"Weak," jabbed Zetsu.
"Not as weak as you," Obito retorted.
"Tobi is…strong," Tobi decided, flexing a nonexistent bicep muscle. "Tobi is strong, like a tree."
"Yeah, because trees are all-powerful," Zetsu snorted, shoving the swirl-face. If only they knew that the shinobi world in which they existed had once enjoyed the reign of the First Hokage, strongest ninja in history, famous for his power over…
"So, what do we do with this cake? It's still freezing out here," Obito complained.
"You're so whiny," Zetsu shot back at him.
"I'm not whiny, you're just annoying," Obito snapped.
"I'm the smart one, here, he—" Zetsu pointed a pale finger at Tobi "—is the annoying one. Seriously Obito, get your head on straight. You can obviously see that, you know."
"I don't think he can see me," Tobi pointed out. He highlighted his position on Obito's far left, out of his one eye's range. "Maybe it's because he has that hair over his face, you know? He looks just like the old man, only a mirror picture. Can you see through that hair, Obito?"
"You idiot, he doesn't have an eye," jeered Zetsu, elbowing his fellow tree clone again.
"I'll get one," Obito announced. "…eventually."
"And then what, collect eyes? Keep them in rows and rows of jars for you to watch over and preserve?" Zetsu laughed at this notion.
And he would gape at the room full of Sharingan eyes, stacked in bubbling containers of preservatives, soon after Obito's return from the Uchiha Massacre. As he incredulously stared at all the floating eyeballs, lopsided in the greenish liquids, Obito, with two eyes this time, would say,
"I can see clearly now, the rain has gone."
"Oh shut up," Zetsu snapped. "Tobi would've done that so much better."
"Care to explain why this morning, when I awoke, you three were gone?" Madara said. He ticked off a few things on his fingers. "And care to explain why Tobi's mask has a crack in it, your fellow Zetsu's are snickering at me, and Obito looks like he's sick?"
Obito, miffed, rubbed his stuffy nose and grumbled. The Zetsu's hanging on the Gedo Mazou were cackling now, and the original Zetsu cracked a smile. Finally, Tobi's mask was yet another mystery to him. Was it the icing? Maybe Tobi was allergic to icing, for some reason, and his mask cracked in an allergic reaction. But then again, hadn't he been storing all the icing? What then? Was his mask so full that it threatened to break? Was his entire body hollow so that he could store things (like Obito's jacket and a bag of chips)?
"Perhaps I should send you snow shoveling," Madara said, pointing to Obito, "and you to floor mopping." The expression he received from Zetsu was plain out horror. Nobody likes cleaning the floors anymore, especially with this snow and mud and snow-mud guck.
"We don't have a driveway," deadpanned Obito. But then again, what kind of shinobi would have a driveway? Shinobi don't have cars.
"No, we don't," Madara agreed, "but we have an Iwa-nin trap. Go clean that."
"Aww, man!" all three chimed in unison, though the punishment seemed to be exacted on Obito only.
"You shall overcome your fear of gigantic rocks of doom," Madara decided rather casually. Several years later, upon a discontent revival by Edo Tensei and the return of the Ten Tails, Madara would find that his darling little boy had never overcome this trauma-induced fear. The moment that the entirety of Iwagakure sent huge stones and whatnot raining upon them, the slight flinch in Obito's stance denoted an everlasting fear of falling rocks. He used to be afraid of ghosts, Madara recalled, but Madara himself was a ghost, and he seemed to be fine. But the rocks, still the rocks.
Oh rocks, boy, can't you harden yourself?
"Punny," Zetsu said.
"What's punny?!" demanded Tobi.
"Oh, that's just the icing on the cake," Obito added flatly.
"Shut up," muttered Zetsu, shoving the swirl-face away again. "If you don't stop bugging me, I'll leave in you in tears!"
"Wow, Zetsu, I never knew you were a tough guy," Obito said, observing the grass-topped boy wrestle with Tobi. "And you made a pun."
"Leave you in…tiers?"
"Boys?" Madara was impatient now. "Obito, I don't care if you're sick, I'll throw you back out there anyway."
"I see why you never had kids," Obito quipped, before ducking a quick few strikes from the old man. He grinned, and Madara relented, sighing and shaking his head. It was true, he'd never had children, but he had them now, didn't he? Three of them, no less. Well, unless you counted the myriad of creepy Zetsu's hanging from the even creepier statue.
"And we present to you…" Zetsu prepared to pull out the cake from Tobi's eyehole, but Tobi danced and jiggled uncontrollably.
"You made a pun!" he squealed. "It's Christmas Eve, and also a special day, and you said present!"
"Shove it!" Zetsu snapped, reaching for the eyehole. However, Tobi waggled his finger back and forth, as if to scold the grass-topped companion and say no. This proceeded to kicks and scrabbles and both of them dragging Obito into the fray, until Obito slipped through both of them via Kamui, and used Kamui to extract the cake from Eyehole-land.
"Happy Birthday, old man," Obito finally managed. The two others hung off his arms and grinned cheekily—one, a sharp-toothed smirk, and the other, the biggest smile a mask could smile.
Madara, legendary Uchiha Madara, heart of stone, will of fire—wait, scratch that, that's Hashirama's description—a diamond-solid resolve…was touched? He suddenly questioned if he was going soft with old age, but then shrugged it off; if he was becoming shallow and loving, he supposed he would've done so a long time ago. He was so old, that it was too far past the "becoming-a-friendly-grandpa" stage to go back, really. But indeed, it warmed his icy heart just a little bit to know that his "children" had cared enough to present him with a birthday cake.
"Where're the candles?" he joked.
The wide eyes that looked back up to them (one of them a wide eyehole), were so shocked, so incredulous, they almost looked terrified. Madara wasn't sure if he should've been pleased or offended.
"Did you just make a joke?" Obito said under his breath. Madara quirked a brow, and Obito fought the urge to burst into laughter, while Tobi cowered behind his shoulder.
"Well, we don't even know how old you are," Zetsu continued. "So Obito's gonna throw a huge Katon at you, and see what happens!" he concluded, to the utter dismay of the younger Uchiha.
Madara waited expectantly. Obito sighed, drew in a breath—moved the cake aside so their hard work in the freezing snowstorm would not be in vain—and spat out the biggest Katon he'd ever made in his whole life. Pleased, Madara returned it with an equally large fire jutsu, cancelling out Obito's.
Would it be cheesy to say that Madara's gift was Obito's improvement?
Ah, well, that's up to Madara.
The old man clapped Obito rather harshly on the shoulder, but the boy understood it to be an affectionate motion.
"Now, let's see how good this cake of yours is," Madara declared.
Zetsu's face dropped, and Tobi, somehow, turned blue. Obito's stomach lurched, suddenly suspicious of what had been in that batter. Zetsu spared a teeny smile.
"Well, if he survives this, then we'll know for sure that he's immortal…"
Raising children is no piece of cake, Maddy.
Be careful, Tobirama may accuse you of pink eye, but really, you're just stressed.
(love ya, wisdom-jewel! :D)