A.N. Happy New Year, everyone! Chapter six is finally complete, and I hope all of you enjoy it!
[Edit] Sorry if you thought this was a new chapter! I found a few typos that both me and my beta missed, and they were bugging me. I tried to just replace the chapter with an updated file, but the site was being wonky. I had to delete the chapter and re-upload the tweaked version. It was down for a few minutes, but it's back up now! No need to re-read if you already read it, I just had to fix a few words/tenses. Sorry again!
Disclaimer: The number of people who have read this fanfiction so far is OVER 9000! But...The number of people who read/watch Naruto is quite a bit larger than that(maybe two or three-hundred more...Kishimoto is doing pretty good), so I suppose ownership remains with him.
Chapter 6: What I've Done
...ammit, Naruto! If...don't...soon...miss...first event...
The voice vaguely registered in Naruto's hazy mind as belonging to Kurama. He tried to focus on it, but everything was moving further and further away. His brain was throbbing in his skull; that, coupled with the burning sensation that he could feel from the side of his face all the way down to his shins, made it hard to concentrate on any one thing. In an attempt to alleviate the pain, he tried to roll over onto his back, but the shredded muscles of his left arm protested the movement loudly. He collapsed on his stomach, struggling to draw breath into his burning lungs. It wasn't long before he completely lost consciousness again.
Kurama paced nervously around the confines of his seal, water sloshing noisily under his paws. "Dammit, Naruto! If you don't wake up soon you're going to miss the first event! You said you wanted to change things, and you're sure as hell not going to do it in your sleep!"
It was no use, the blond brat was gone again. The Kyuubi cursed, its voice reverberating off of the sewer-like cell. He was about to begin shouting at the man once again, but was silenced when a new feeling washed over him. Not only was the brat dangerously low on chakra, but he was losing even more as time went by.
Kurama reached out, feeling for the source of the drain. What he found made him groan internally. The brat had theorized that something like this might happen, but neither of them had put much stock into the idea. Why would the natural chakra be harmful to a human, even if he was from another world?
But there was no denying the fact that the blond was losing chakra by the second; and it was clearly being drawn out from every part of his body that was in contact with the ground. The Kyuubi himself wasn't feeling the effects; which could only be attributed to the fact that he was still within the confines of the Fourth's seal. The moment he sent out tendrils of energy into Naruto's chakra coils, he could immediately feel the drain on his own dwindling reserves. His chakra was beginning to be absorbed the moment it left the seal.
He redoubled his efforts, using his chakra to give himself more of a voice. "Naruto! Wake the fuck up, you stupid little bastard! If you don't, you'll have a lot more to worry about than missing your chance to save your former teacher's eye!"
Naruto's eyes snapped open as more of Kurama's chakra flowed into his body, knitting his shredded muscles back together. He jumped to his feet, the burning sensation that had been plaguing him for hours shifting from all across his front to only the soles of his feet. Adrenaline flooded his bloodstream, clearing the fog from his mind. "How long has it been?" he asked, shifting from one foot to the other in an attempt to lessen the pain.
'Finally!' The volume of Kurama's voice made the Uzumaki wince as it echoed through his aching head. 'You've been napping for almost two hours!'
Naruto frowned, chewing on his lower lip as he continued to do his foolish little dance. "And the burning sensation? Is this world trying to erase us?"
'Yes! And thanks to your inability to stay awake, I had to waste even more of my chakra keeping you alive! Are you trying to get us killed, you fucking brat?'
"Of course not!"
'Whatever you're going to do, you need to do it fast! I don't know how much longer I can keep you alive! My chakra levels are at less than thirty-percent! Now stop dancing around like a naked fool and get to work!'
Naruto glanced down, for the first time noticing his lack of clothing. It was a good thing he had prepared for the possibility that inorganic substances could not pass through the gate. He bit his thumb, pressing the bleeding digit against a swirl of ink that had been burned into the flesh of his shoulder. A cloud of smoke erupted from the seal, and a bag of supplies materialized out of thin air.
The first thing he grabbed was the shoes. He jumped up and down on one foot as he struggled to slide one of them on. He lost his balance, arms cartwheeling, and fell backwards onto his ass. "Agh! Hot!" he quickly managed to get the first one on, then the other. Jumping to his feet, he sighed inwardly as the chakra-insulated material slowed the energy drain to a crawl. One hand came back to rub his still warm backside, "Wow, glad no one was around to see that one..."
A cough echoed through his mind.
"Oh, shut the hell up." He growled as he quickly got dressed.
Obito's eyes flickered over to focus on the young man standing to his right. What had caused his change of heart, the Uchiha couldn't really say; but he was glad that the silver-haired jounin was still human under his cold exterior. "Thanks, Kakashi."
Kakashi finished adjusting the bandages that crisscrossed over what used to be his left eye. He smirked, the gesture hidden by his mask. "You don't need to thank me, Obito. It's like you said, those who abandon their friends are lower than garbage." He paused, embarrassment plain in his voice. "I'm sorry for what I said. Thank you for knocking some sense into me."
The Uchiha grinned, "Of course, what else are friends for?"
Kakashi's eye widened. Friends. "Y-yeah." He scratched the bridge of his nose. "Let's go save Rin!"
They moved as silently as they could through the noise-amplifying cave, Obito taking point so that he could use his Sharingan to detect any more camouflaged enemies. A hand on his shoulder made him pause, turning to look back at Kakashi. "What is it?" he asked, using hand-signs to communicate.
Kakashi answered using the same signs. "Rin and at least one enemy are around the next corner." He pointed at his nose, indicating that he had smelled them.
Obito nodded, showing that he understood, before motioning for them to continue. Their enemy was skilled with cloaking techniques, so Kakashi's sense of smell could not be relied upon for enemy detection. His Sharingan would be the only way for them to know if anyone else was guarding Rin. He peeked around the corner, scanning the room.
Rin was bound in ropes, her captor's fingers tangled in her hair as he questioned her. Cold rage settled into Obito's gut, and it was all he could do to stop himself from rushing blindly to her defense. He managed to control his violent urge, instead searching the room for signs of an ambush. "Nothing," he signed. "Rin and one enemy. Ideas?"
Kakashi signed back, quickly going over a basic strategy that they could use to separate Rin from the enemy. "You got that?"
Obito nodded once more, and they both stepped out into the open; purposely allowing their footsteps to echo throughout the chamber.
The Iwa ninja glanced up at their arrival. He groaned, slapping a palm to his forehead. "Ugh, why am I the only competent one around here?"
The two Konoha shinobi ignored him. "Rin's chakra flow is disturbed," Obito whispered.
Kakashi's voice was a growl. "She's been put under a genjutsu. They tried to force her to talk."
"I suppose you're here to save her, eh?" the man chuckled. "Hmph, some kids..."
"Careful, Obito," Kakashi warned, drawing his father's blade. "We fought earlier, he's quick."
"Gotcha," the Uchiha answered, falling into a fighting stance next to Kakashi.
The Iwa ninja launched himself forward in the same instant as his two opponents. Blades extended from holsters fixed at the tops of his forearms. He aimed for the dark-haired youth, swinging both arms in a wide arch.
If it wasn't for his Sharingan, Obito would not have been able to dodge the man's initial attack. As it was, his eyes gave him just enough foresight to fall backwards out of the blades' trajectory. At the same moment, Kakashi rushed over Obito's parallel form and swung his blade at their startled enemy. He wasn't quick enough, and the man began to swing his arms back in for a counter-attack.
"Die!" he cried, but his attack was stopped when Obito swung his legs up; interposing them between the older man's arms and stopping them in their tracks.
With nothing in his way to block his attack, Kakashi brought his arm down unimpeded; feeling the blade scrape across the enemy's scapula as it sliced into his shoulder. He continued with his forward momentum, kicking off of the Iwa ninja's back and causing the man to face-plant into the stone floor. The silver-haired teenager landed in front of Rin, already gathering his energy for a chakra pulse. "Release!"
Rin's blank eyes suddenly gained focus as the wave of chakra rushed over her, disrupting the hold of the genjutsu that had been gripping her. She was staring into the face of her sloppily bandaged teammate. A moment later, the winded Uchiha joined them. "Kakashi...Obito...You came."
"We're here, Rin. You're safe!" Obito said between gasps for air.
"Yeah, now let's get outta here." Kakashi said, his smile visible in his one remaining eye.
The Rock ninja struggled to his feet, one hand pressed over his shoulder to staunch the bleeding. "That was a pretty good combo for a couple of kids." Kakashi and Obito turned to stare at the man. "But now, you're standing in the palm of your enemy." He released his shoulder, flashing through hand-signs. "Earth style! Rock breaker!" He slapped his palm against the stone floor, sending out a shock-wave that shook the cave violently, even as a protective dome of rocks sprouted to protect the technique's user.
The ceiling began to crumble as the walls of the cave wobbled and buckled under the influence of the jutsu. "This is bad!" Obito yelled, his eyes wide.
Kakashi began to move, his voice snapping the other two into action. "Come on, guys! Head for the exit!"
They had almost made it out of the death-trap that had once been a cave when the unthinkable happened. A rock, no bigger than an apple, fell from the ceiling and smashed into Kakashi's head on his blind side. The blow momentarily stunned him, causing him to stumble over his own feet and come crashing down to the floor in a heap.
Rin heard her teammate's grunt of pain and looked over her shoulder to see his motionless form. "Kakashi!" she screamed, beginning to turn around.
"I've got him!" Obito cut her off, dashing back to their fallen teammate. "Keep going!" He snagged Kakashi's hand, looking up in time to see a massive boulder falling from directly above them. He had a split second to make his decision; save himself or save his friend? The choice was clear for the young Uchiha, and he pivoted, using all of his weight to sling Kakashi clear of the falling rock.
He clenched his eyes shut, waiting for the inevitable. Something jerked him back by his collar, and the next moment he felt a crushing pressure all over his body. He couldn't breathe. What was happening?
The pressure abruptly vanished as Obito was flung forward into the blinding sunlight of the outside world. He stumbled and fell, his hands and knees scraping painfully against rocky ground. He scrambled to his feet, his eyes wild. "What the hell? Where am I?"
"Safe, for now." Obito spun around to face the unknown speaker. "Whether or not you stay that way remains to be seen."
"Who the hell are you?" The Uchiha cried, pointing a finger at the old man before him. "Why did you save me?"
The man darted forward, grabbing a fistful of Obito's shirt and jerking him up off of the ground. "My name is Naruto," he whispered harshly, his face inches from Obito's own. "As for why I saved you, you'll just have to see for yourself." As he spoke, his eyes began to glow a crimson red. Try as he might, Obito could not tear his gaze away from the man's eyes, and he soon felt his mind drifting away.
Images flashed through the Uchiha's head almost faster than he could comprehend. He saw a man wreaking untold destruction; raising an army and bringing it to bear against the Leaf Village. He somehow, inexplicably knew that the man was an older version of himself. He saw his doppelganger face off with the adult form of Kakashi Hatake, and he saw himself strike down the silver-haired man with his own technique.
"What are you showing me?" the Uchiha groaned, his hands coming up to grip the blond's wrists. "Stop!" More death, some faces familiar and some not. The man who Obito would become was then fighting a man who strongly resembled the Fourth Hokage. The blond, who Obito now recognized as the one who was currently holding him aloft, defeated the specter.
"To show you what you would have caused if I hadn't saved you!" the graying ninja shouted, spittle splattering Obito's face. "Because I know you have good in you, and I think you'll be of more use to me alive than dead!"
Obito clenched his eyes shut, but the images didn't slow. "This is too much! Stop!" If anything, they continued to surge faster. Tears welled in the corners of his eyes, spilling over to cut clean tracks down his dirt-coated cheeks. More scenes, more dying people. The hilt of a broken sword. The pale, dead form of a pink-haired woman...An empty Konoha, and graves...So many graves.
"You will know everything I know. You will feel everything I felt!" He dropped the Uchiha, who landed hard on his side, arms curled protectively over his head. He rested a hand gently on Obito's shoulder, "Do you understand? Do you know why all I really want to do right now is strangle the life out of you?"
The youth slowly turned his tear-streaked face to look up at the man kneeling beside of him. He took a deep, choked breath; then nodded, moving to sit up. "Yes, I understand. In the world you come from...I became the bad guy. I killed my friends...I led to the death of yours." He scrubbed the tears from his cheeks, his eyes hard. "But that won't happen here. Not this time. You've given me a chance, and I'm going to take it."
Naruto locked gazes with the humbled Uchiha, his stony expression showing no indication of the feelings underneath. After a long pause, the corners of his mouth pulled up into a smile. He extended one hand, "I believe you."
Obito grinned back at him, taking the proffered hand and allowing the man to help him to his feet. "Thank you, Naruto. I-" The Uchiha made a noise, somewhere between a yelp and scream as his hands flew to cover his suddenly burning eyes. Images of the confrontation between the would-be-Obito and the man before him flashed unbidden through his mind. "What are you doing? No, don't take my sight! I said I'd help you!"
Naruto, for his part, was just as surprised as the young Uchiha. What could be causing him to be experiencing such discomfort? A thought came to his mind, "I wonder..." he muttered. He reached out, grasping one of Obito's wrist.
"Back off!" Obito shouted, jerking away from Naruto's touch.
"I'm not doing this, Obito! Let me see your eyes, maybe I can help you!"
The dark-haired youth pulled harder against the blond's unrelenting grip. "I...Said...Back...OFF!"
Suddenly, Naruto's fingers balled into a fist as they passed through the space that had once been occupied by Obito's wrist. The blond's eyes widened as Obito stumbled backwards; unable to control his momentum from his sudden release. He lost his balance, and fell hard on his back; the air rushing out of his lungs.
Naruto rushed to his side. "Are you okay?"
"Your memories..." Obito said, his voice choked. "They showed me killing Kakashi..." He lowered his hands and stared up at Naruto, who was at a loss for words at what he saw.
"You activated your Mangekyo..." Naruto murmured, stunned. He put his hand down to help Obito back to his feet, but their fingers phased right through each other's. "Can...Can you turn them off?"
Obito's face scrunched in concentration, and several seconds passed without anything happening before he let out of frustrated groan. "I don't think it's working..."
Naruto looked thoughtful for a moment, then held out a hand. "Give me your goggles."
A confused expression plastered over his face, Obito pulled the eye-shields from their place on his head. The instant the material of the band lost contact with his hair, the goggles fell through his hands to land on the ground with a clatter. "Dammit!"
The graying ninja knelt down, retrieving the goggles and hefting them in his hand. He was silent for so long that Obito began to think he was sleeping with his eyes open.
"Well, are you actually going to do anything, old man?"
Naruto hushed him, holding up one finger accentuate the notion. "It's been a while since I sealed away part of a person's Sharingan. Unless you want to lose them completely, I'd suggest letting me concentrate."
"Seal away?" Obito demanded. He crossed his arms in a symbol of his denial. "No way! I can use these!"
The Uzumaki sighed, giving Obito an exasperated look. "Not permanently, you idiot. You're in enemy territory, and you don't have time to learn how to control them right now. They'll only stay deactivated as long as you leave you're goggles on. Once you take them off, you'll no longer be under the seal's influence."
Obito blushed, scratching the back of his head in embarrassment. He chuckled softly, "Ah...Makes sense, I suppose."
Naruto shook his head, forming seals with one hand. He pressed one finger against the eye-wear's frame, burning a seal into the hard plastic. He held them out, offering them to the Uchiha. "Here ya go."
The Uchiha raised an eyebrow. "I think you're forgetting something," he said, gesturing with his hands.
"Oh..." He spread the out the elastic band and leaned forward, trying to place it on Obito's head. Unfortunately, the instant the material touched the young man's head, it passed through as the Mangekyo's automatic defense activated. "Oh, fuck me," he muttered.
"Sorry, I'm not into dudes." Obito's response was automatic, a mechanism developed by his constant back-and-forths with Kakashi. His cheeks tinted red, and he shifted his gaze from Naruto's. "I'm sorry, that was rude."
Naruto stared at him for a long while, his gaze incredulous. Then he started laughing, the sound beginning as a choked gurgle; before long, he'd erupted into full-fledged guffaws. He doubled over slapping his knee with one hand as his body shook with laughter.
Obito was too shocked to do anything but stare at the older man at first. Slowly, he found himself joining Naruto in his mirth, chuckles bubbling up out of his throat.
They laughed together for several minutes until both were doubled over and gasping for air. Naruto wiped a tear from his eye, still grinning ear-to-ear. "Oh boy, I walked right into that one. Thanks for that." Obito could only smile in response. "Now, do you wanna see a magic trick?"
The Uchiha raised a brow, then slowly nodded. "Sure."
"Too late to see the trick, but I can show you the results." He held up his hands, both of which were empty. Obito had time to realize that the goggles were no longer in his hands, before Naruto's fist shot forward and softly clocked him across the jaw. "Ta da!"
Obito blinked, his hand rising to cup his jaw in surprise. "What did you do?" His free hand went up, feeling the goggles that had been placed on top of head. "Rather, when did you do it?"
"During our little bout of laughter," Naruto explained with a grin. "Your ability only works when you're aware of the imminent danger. If you're not expecting it, you can't dodge it."
"Considering you were the one who stopped me, I suppose it only makes sense that you understand my abilities' weak points." He looked around, wincing as the light stung his eyes. "It's bright..."
Naruto knelt down, examining Obito's eyes. The swirl of the Mangekyo had vanished, replaced instead by three tomoes."I suppose experiencing my memories forced your Sharingan to evolve in more ways than one..." Naruto clucked his tongue, "Lucky you, I suppose. Just remember not to overuse them, otherwise you'll destroy your vision."
Obito nodded, remembering that detail from his trip through Naruto's memories. "What now? What are you going to do about your problem?" he asked, referring to the steady drain of Naruto's chakra.
"What I'm going to ask next is completely optional, you don't need to feel any obligation to go along with it." He took a deep breath, trying to decide how best to word his question. "This...deterioration of chakra caused by this world's natural energy will affect me no matter where I go. I've taken precautions to slow it down, but if I remain on this plane of existence I probably have about a month before I'm destroyed..."
"This plane of existence..." Obito repeated. "I suppose that means you have a plan on how to get to another one?"
"Yes," Naruto answered. "Kurama, the Kyuubi, has noticed that the drain does not affect him as long as he remains within the confines of the seal. He's only drained if he pushes his chakra out into my chakra coils."
Obito nodded slowly. "So if you can seal yourself away..."
"I can avoid the effects of this world's natural chakra. Yeah." Naruto finished for him, his face grim. "I would just seal myself into a scroll...But for this to work, it needs to be rooted in blood."
"Sure, you can seal yourself into me."
Naruto looked taken-aback by Obito's forwardness. "Are you sure?"
Obito held up a finger. "On the condition that you don't go and possess me, of course. A man has his pride."
"I wouldn't dream of it."
The Uchiha shrugged. "Well then, what are we waiting for?"
"Damn it!" Kakashi screamed, slamming his fist onto the ground next to the rock that had crushed his teammate. "Damn it! That idiot! Why did he do that! Damn it!"
Rin slowly approached him, a concerned expression on her tear-streaked face. "Come on, Kakashi," she whispered, her voice hitching with sorrow. "We can't help him!"
She grabbed him by his shoulder, but the grief-stricken Hatake jerked free. "Why would he sacrifice himself for scum like me? I tried to leave you, but he insisted that we come back! Why would anyone save someone as awful as me?" A single tear ran down his face as he stared Rin in the eye.
She reached out, taking hold of his hand. "Because that's the kind of person Obito is...He's selfless."
"He was..." Kakashi corrected.
Rin scrubbed the tears from her cheeks with the back of one hand. "That's enough, Kakashi." Her voice was harsh, snapping Kakashi back into awareness. "Obito didn't sacrifice himself so we could stay down here and be overrun by the enemy. I know you feel them too, there's no way we can fight them all."
The Hatake knew she was right. If nothing else, he had to at least get her out of there. Afterward, who knows? Maybe he would follow in his father's footsteps one last time...
He rose to his feet, a motion that Rin copied. "Yeah," he murmured, and they both leaped clear of hole that had been opened up by the cave-in. After they had made it several dozen meters into woods, Rin's hand caught his own, giving it a reassuring squeeze. He turned his head, nodded in her direction. As he returned his gaze to the trail that they were following, he stopped suddenly, pulling her into a prone position in the middle of the path. How had he not noticed them sooner? "Down," he growled, rolling into the underbrush with her in tow.
A group of half a dozen shinobi jumped out of the canopy, landing in unison on the forest floor. One of them stepped forward, his arms spread in invitation. "Come out, come out. We know you're here." He grinned, "Do we really have to waste our time with this cat and mouse bullshit?"
If he could just move fast enough...
Kakashi dashed out of the bushes, a chidori crackling in his fist. The speaker, too slow to react, was speared through the chest by the mass of lightning. The squelch of his fist being jerked out of the other man's sternum was drowned out by the chirping of his jutsu. He pivoted, launching himself towards the closest enemy.
Unfortunately, this man had time to prepare for Kakashi's next attack. Clearly a master of taijutsu, the man's hand struck like a viper, snagging Kakashi's wrist and snapping it as if it were a piece of kindling. The jutsu faded, and Kakashi's scream overpowered the man's dying gurgle as Rin appeared at her teammate's side, burying a kunai into his assailant's throat. She grabbed Kakashi, yanking him back from the enemies that were now fully aware of their presence.
Kakashi was cradling his wrist to his stomach, his vision hazy with pain. "Damn," he said with false mirth. "I thought for sure I'd get at least three of them..."
The one at the forefront of the group slung his arms forward, sending a hail of senbon at the Konoha nin. Rin jumped in front of Kakashi, raising her gore-covered kunai to deflect the needles. She noticed too late that the man had attached chakra strings to his weapons. Their trajectories changed in mid-flight, weaving past her kunai and piercing her body with dozens of senbon.
She fell back, falling into Kakashi who barely managed to catch her. "Rin!"
She shrugged him off, returning to her battle-stance and doing her best to ignore the fact that she'd been turned into a human pin-cushion. "I'm fine! Nothing vital!" She looked sideways at the Hatake. "Alpha, Charlie, Foxtrot," she whispered, before rushing towards their enemies.
Kakashi darted to the left, following her attack plan. He threw a brace of shuriken, thankful that sensei had insisted that they all be ambidextrous.
The one who had thrown the senbon moved to meet the medic ninja as she closed the distance between them. Her left hand shot forward, aiming for his solar plexus. He batted the blow aside with ease, but was left with barely any time to block a shuriken sent his way by the silver-haired boy. He returned his gaze to the girl in time to see her fist flying towards face. He clenched his jaw, preparing to take the punch and then return the favor.
It was a mistake. Her first blow had been harmless, but the one that she had sent towards his cheek was sheathed in a chakra-scalpel. It shredded his face, slicing through his mandible and sending his lower jaw sailing across the clearing. He screamed in agony, even as his fingers flashed through signs. Rin didn't notice; she was too busy drawing a kunai to launch at another Iwa ninja, assuming that her opponent would be in too much pain to fight back.
Kakashi immediately recognized the signs as those used in a common Iwagakure suicide jutsu. "Get away from him!" Kakashi screamed, abandoning the attack plan and sprinting towards his unaware teammate. He close-lined her, his wrist crying out in protest as his arm curled around Rin's waist. She was surprised; and, thinking she was under attack, buried the blade of her knife into the shoulder of Kakashi's good arm.
He ignored the pain, continuing his forward momentum. They were still too close...
A boom echoed throughout the clearing, the shock-wave catching Kakashi in the back and hurling him and Rin off the path and into the woods. They rolled down a hill, tumbling over each other. He lost his grip on her, and the next moment he felt his head smash into hers, making him see stars.
They reached the bottom, Kakashi landing on his back. All of his weight, combined with force of the fall, slammed into the hilt of the kunai Rin had inadvertently lodged in his shoulder. The knife slid under his shoulder blade, its tip lodging into the head of his humerus and forcing it out of its socket. It took every ounce of his self-control not to scream as the ligaments of his shoulder joint were torn apart. He writhed in silent pain as Rin slowly regained awareness of her surroundings.
"Kakashi, oh god I'm sorry!" she whispered, her voice panicked. "You surprised me!"
Kakashi held a finger to his lips, hushing her frantic words. "Be quiet," he whispered as soft as he could manage, unable to sign without the use of either of his arms. "It's dark down here...They might not be able to find us right away."
He was right, this far down in the thick foliage there was almost no sunlight to speak of. Rin bit her lip, her eyes surveying the damage she had caused. She was powerless to help him, too, as the glow of her medical jutsu would give away their position. If they didn't do something soon...
"Hello, sweet one."
Rin's blood ran cold as the unknown man's breath tickled her ear. She spun, bringing her fist around to slam into his head. He caught her by the forearm, bringing the blow to a sudden stop. She formed a chakra-scalpel, plunging it towards the man's throat. "Kakashi, run!"
He caught her fist with his hand, snuffing the chakra that suffused her hand as if it were a candle's flame. "Wow, looks like we've got us a feisty little flower here." He clenched his fist around hers, the crackle of breaking bones filling the air.
Rin screamed even as Kakashi threw himself at the man, his one eye showing nothing but rage."Let her go!"
Kakashi was met with a boot to his gut, sending him catapulting into the trunk of a nearby tree. The taste of copper filled his mouth. The back of his head bounced off the wood twice; his vision grew black around the edges as his body threatened to lose consciousness.
The man spun Rin around so she was facing his two approaching teammates. "She's a pretty one, isn't she?" he asked, a wicked grin on his face. One hand drifted up to grip her jaw, and Rin whimpered as he began to put pressure on it. "What do you say I do to her what she did to Yuuma back there?
One of the others licked his lips. "I don't know, it'd be a shame to waste such a pretty mouth. Besides, I didn't like that prick anyway."
The medic ninja yelped as her captor pulled down her jaw, forcing her to open her mouth wide. "I can't say that I liked him, but he owed quite a bit of money. Where am I gonna get it now?"
"You could always make her work off the debt. I can think of a few things I'd pay for..."
"There's an idea."
Kakashi locked his gaze with Rin's, who was staring back at him. He had never felt so helpless, what was he going to do? Tears of frustration and fear welled up in his eye, cutting a track through the grime on his cheek as they fell, quickly absorbed by the material of his mask.
"What's this little boy doing here anyway? Ninja's don't cry, kid." The man made the mistake of allowing his thumb to rest inside Rin's open mouth. Taking her opportunity, she used a surge of chakra to temporarily override her brain's limitations on muscle strength in her jaw. Her mouth closed with far more force than was normally possible, severing the sinew and bone of her captor's thumb as if it wasn't even there. Her teeth came together with an audible crunch as several of them were pulverized by the pressure.
The man yelled in pain, releasing his hold on the woman's head and staring at his bleeding appendage in shock. Rin's jaw, its ligaments and muscles badly torn, fell open as if unhinged. The man's thumb, as well as dozens of shards of teeth, tumbled to the ground. Unable to speak, she held up one hand to convey her feelings. The meaning of the gesture was universal.
"You crazy bitch!" he screamed, lunging towards her with a kunai in his hand. Rin could only watch as her death approached.
A figure fell from the canopy above them, burying a kunai to its hilt in the top of the Iwa ninja's skull. Sharingan glinted angrily in the eyes of the boy that they immediately recognized as Obito Uchiha. He spared them a grin. "Sorry I'm late. I met an old man, and I had to save his life."
Kakashi stared at the specter in shock. "Obito..."
Obito locked gazes with him. "What's the matter, did you lose your nerve? You spineless crybaby."
Before Kakashi had a chance to respond, Obito's swung his head around to stare at the remaining two Iwa ninja. They stared back, dumbfounded. After a moment's pause, both drew a kunai from their respective pouches and slit their own throats.
He turned back towards his teammates, the hard edge no longer tinging his gaze. He was concerned, but it was clear that he was trying to hide that fact as he approached them. "Can you heal yourself?" Obito asked, kneeling in front of his brunette teammate. His eyes were flickering rapidly between her own and the bloody mess of her mouth.
She stared back at him, shocked. How had he survived? It didn't take her long to decide that it would be better to wait for an answer to that question. Slowly, her uninjured hand drifted up to sign her affirmation. As Obito moved on to check on Kakashi, she turned her attention to her left hand. Gingerly, she touched each of the fingers, healing the ones that had been broken during her fight. Once she was satisfied that all of her digits were in working order, she moved on to yanking the senbon needles free of her flesh. When she was done with that, the brunette reached into her medical pouch and pulled out a strip of white cloth.
Taking a deep breath to steel herself, she looped the material under her jaw and pulled up. Immediately, she felt sick to her stomach and her vision swam as her she fought her body's urge to lose consciousness. She pressed on, tying the two ends of into a knot at the top of her skull. A muffled scream bubbled out of her throat as her teeth ground into each other.
Obito rushed to her side, but she waved him off, struggling to her feet. "What are you doing? Shouldn't you fix your mouth?"
She shook her head gingerly. "No," she signed, "I'm a medic not a dentist. I'd do more harm than good." She looked him up and down. "Are you okay?" It was clear that the young woman before him was in full medic ninja mode right now.
Obito nodded, "I'm fine, doc. Mr. Rule Book over there might need your help though. He looks kinda rough."
Kakashi shook his head, doing his best not to jostle his limbs, and sighed in exasperation. "Honestly, you just get back and you're already giving me a hard time."
"If I didn't, who would?"
It took Rin close to half an hour to get Kakashi to the point that she dubbed him travel worthy. The hardest part had been the removal of her kunai and the return of his arm to its socket; Rin had been genuinely impressed that he hadn't passed out during the procedure. As it was, both of his arms were in slings, and his shoulder was heavily bandaged, but he could walk without being in constant pain, which was the important thing.
"You know, I was gonna pat you on the back; but...I figure you might take offense to that at this point."
Kakashi rolled his one remaining eye, which drew the young Uchiha's attention. "Good call, I'd probably have to kill you if you did."
Obito clucked his tongue, "I don't think a cyclops without the use of either of his arms would be much of a challenge, even for the Uchiha failure like myself." He added the jab at the end to lessen the sting of his words. "Speaking of cyclopes, aren't you in the market for a new eye?" He tapped his chin. "If only we had a fresh supply of donors around... Oh wait!" he cried, spreading his arms to indicate the dead ninja around them. "Looks to me like you've got three volunteers!"
A look of distaste crossed Kakashi's face. "I think I'll pass, I'd rather wear an eye-patch than walk around with one of their eyes."
Obito chuckled softly at the thought of the boy in front of him wearing an eye-patch. Instead of arguing with the Hatake, Obito decided that it would be easier to prove his point with a demonstration. Swift as lighting, he drew a ration bar from a pouch on his hip and tossed it at the other boy. "Catch."
Instinctively, Kakashi moved to grab the object sailing towards his face. Instead of his fingers closing around the bar; however, he closed his fist too late, allowing the bar to pass through his fingers and hit him dead-center in his forehead.
"A ninja's not much good without depth-perception, Mr. Hatake," Obito admonished, wagging his finger in Kakashi's direction.
Kakashi growled low in his throat. "I'll learn to cope."
"He's right, Kakashi," Rin broke in, signing with her hand in his face. "You need two eyes to function properly, and if I don't do it soon I won't be able to do it."
Kakashi's brow furrowed, a look of disgust plastered over his face. "You're not going to let this go, are you?"
Obito grinned, shaking his head. "No sir, Captain Obvious. Sir."
"Fine," he grunted through clenched teeth.
Obito jumped to his feet, "Great! Do you have a preference in color?"
The surgery that followed took considerably longer than the ones that Rin had administered earlier. The eye was delicate work, and Rin had to call on all of her training to successfully perform the transplant.
"Well?" Obito asked cheerily, his face inches from Kakashi's own. "What do you see?"
Kakashi's mismatched eyes -one black and one blue- stared back up at him, clearly not amused by his antics. "An idiot." His brow furrowed. "Why do you still have your Sharingan activated? Aren't they draining your chakra?"
Obito smiled back at him, standing up straight and walking a few steps away from Kakashi. "Oh, lots of reasons. I guess the biggest being that we're in enemy territory and I'm not sure I could reactivate them if I turn them off right now." He buffed his fingernails on the front of his jacket. "I'm also using them to keep an eye out for enemy ninja," he said, his tone nonchalant. "Like the one hanging in the canopy above us."
As soon as the words left his mouth, Obito dodged to the side to avoid the bladed arm of the man who had caused the earlier cave-in. "You're observant," the man noted.
"And you're about to be in a world of hurt."
"Secret Art: One Thousand Years of Pain!"
The man's eyes widened as he turned his head to face the source of the voice, which was coming from behind him. The next moment, Obito's hidden shadow clone was shoving something very sharp into a very sensitive part of the man's anatomy.
Obito grinned, standing up after putting the screaming ninja out of his misery. "Ah...That was satisfying."
Both Rin and Kakashi looked quite disgusted. The silver-haired youth coughed, scratching the side of his head. "I've...Never seen you use that technique with a kunai before."
The Uchiha shrugged, "He pissed me off. Who knows what would have happened if I hadn't managed to save your ass and dodge that rock...I shudder to think."
"What is it with you and asses today?"
Rin exhaled loudly through her nose, gesturing wildly for them to change topics. "What are you, eight?" she signed in annoyance.
"Fourteen...But I like to think I function at a sixteen-year-old level." When she didn't follow up on his baiting, Obito continued in a more serious tone. "Hey, Kakashi, do you still have the kunai Master Minato gave you?"
Kakashi nodded, "Yeah."
"I'm sure you recognized it as the type he uses in his Flying Thunder God technique, and I'm sure he only wanted you to use it under the most dire of circumstances." Obito scratched his nose thoughtfully, "Two completely incapacitated teammates, and one who's quickly running out of chakra. I think that this constitutes an emergency, don't you?"
Kakashi shifted his gaze towards Rin, "If you don't mind?" he asked, nodding towards the kunai pouch on his hip.
Rin stepped towards him, her hand disappearing into the holster as she carefully dug around for the three-pronged kunai. After a moment, her hand emerged with the weapon clenched between her fingers.
"Throwing it should activate it," Obito suggested.
Rin nodded, and sent the kunai sailing into a nearby tree trunk. The instant the blade's tip touched the wood, the three were temporarily blinded by a flash of yellow light.
A dangerous looking Minato Namikaze appeared in the middle of the trio, a three-pronged kunai held in each hand. He blinked, his expression changing to one of surprise as he realized that the only people in the clearing were his students. "What's going on?"
Obito scratched his nose, grinning sheepishly. "We ran into a couple of snags...Wanna help us out, sensei?"
It took several minutes for them to give their teacher a full status report; Obito did most of the talking, with Kakashi occasionally speaking up clarify things the Uchiha glossed over. As he heard the story, Minato's expression grew more and more drawn.
When the dark-haired youth was finished speaking, Minato gave him an appraising look. He was silent for a time, and when he finally spoke his voice was stern. "You three have failed to complete your mission in the set time limit." Each of his subordinates looked back at him, their faces conveying only shock. "You acted outside of the mission parameters; taking time that could have been used to advance and using it to turn around and chase after a teammate. Some would call it treasonous."
"What the hell?" Obito cried, his voice incredulous. "If we hadn't gone back for Rin, there's no telling what they would have done to her!" He advanced towards his sensei, pointing an accusing finger at him. "Fuck the mission! I would never leave my friend behind!"
Kakashi's expression was a mixture of surprise and fear as their master spoke, but his eyes narrowed after Obito's exclamation. "I stand by my decision and my allies, sensei. As acting commander, I am willing to accept any repercussions for our actions today."
Minato strode forward, his gaze locked with Kakashi's, until they were only inches apart. "Is that so? Am I to believe that another Hatake has turned his back on what it means to be a ninja?"
Kakashi raised his chin. "No, another Hatake has only rejected the foolish notion of what a ninja is supposed to be."
"So have I," Obito spoke up, interposing himself between his sensei and his teammate. "If abandoning his friends is what a real ninja would do, than I suppose I'll have to turn in my headband when we get back to the Leaf."
Rin joined Obito in his defense of Kakashi, signing angrily at Minato.
Kakashi, for his part, was clearly stunned at his teammates' support for him.
The blond-haired jounin looked at his team; he saw the medic and the loud-mouth standing side-by-side, defending their actions and the actions of their friend against the accusations of a superior officer without any hesitation. His lips curled up into a smile, shattering the cold demeanor that he had been plastered over his face. "I'm glad to see I've taught students such as you three." His smile split into a grin at the sight of their startled expressions. He reached out towards Obito, ruffling his hair affectionately. "I'm so proud of all of you."
The Uchiha boy glared at him, "What? You mean this whole time you thought we had done the right thing? What's with the whole 'you're treasonous scum' talk?"
"Because," Minato began, "There are people who would say what you did was the wrong thing. You must be prepared to defend your decisions if you want to go against the grain." He grinned, shrugging. "Also, I'm your teacher. There's never a bad time for a trust exercise. It's clear that you three have gotten over whatever issues were plaguing you up to this point."
The Uchiha and the Hatake looked at each other, then looked away quickly. Both were blushing, but Minato could see that both were smiling as well.
"Now, if the three of you think you're able, how about we finish this mission?"
Obito waited outside Konoha's hospital, leaning up against a wall. His arms were crossed over his chest, and his fingers drummed a nervous tempo against his bicep. His mind was racing, trying to sort through all the information Naruto had given him.
There was so much that needed to be done, but he would have to walk on eggshells the whole time. If he changed too much too quickly, he could change things to the point that Naruto's foreknowledge would be useless to him. He could even cause the blond not to be born in this time-line if he wasn't careful. He had to make sure that Minato was left in the dark, at least until after his son was conceived.
Which led Obito to another question. Who could he tell about this? He sure as hell wouldn't be able to do it alone. Not to mention Naruto had fallen silent after he'd sealed himself into Obito's stomach. He had said that he would need to sleep for at least a couple months before he and the Kyuubi would be fully recharged, leaving Obito at a loss as to what to do.
The biggest issue presented by Naruto's memories, at least to Obito, was the imminent destruction of his clan. He had to find a way to stop it; or at the very least, stop it from being a near-total genocide. If he could get close to the elders...If he could become an integral part of the coup...
He was broken from his musings when Kakashi emerged from the hospital, his wounds re-bandaged and with only one arm in a sling. Obito was by his side in a moment. "How is she?"
"She's gonna be in the hospital for a few days while they work on her teeth. After that, she'll have to spend several weeks with her jaw wired shut while the muscles mend and the repairs set. She's in for a painful recovery, but she'll be fine." He rolled his eyes, "I'm fine, by the way."
Obito waved him off, "Yeah, yeah, I already knew that. You're walking, aren't you? It can't be that bad if you're up and about."
Kakashi sighed, "You're concern for my well-being is truly touching, Obito," he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
"That's what I'm here for!" He scratched the back of his head, his tone becoming nervous. "Hey, do you think we could talk about something... It's important."
The silver-haired ninja looked slightly concerned by the Uchiha's tone. "Is something wrong?"
"No," Obito replied, shaking his head. "But I have something to show you. Do you mind meeting me at your apartment in an hour?"
Kakashi stood in his bathroom dressed in the only non-sweat/blood stained clothing he had; he stared at himself in the mirror, pulling down the skin under his new eye to get a better look at it. It was sore as hell, and its vision wasn't quite as acute as the one he had lost during the mission, but it was certainly better than walking around half blind for the rest of his life.
The doctors had insisted that he take two weeks off of active duty while he adjusted to the transplant. They had also suggested that he exercise the eye during his time off; apparently reading would be a good way to help him familiarize himself with any of his new eye's quirks.
He had decided to stop by a bookstore on his way back to his apartment; the ninja scrolls that he normally read had detailed instructions written inside of them, and he didn't want to risk misreading a line and inadvertently turning a harmless jutsu into a deadly one. He figured the best thing to do was grab a fictional book, something he hadn't read in years, because it didn't matter if he misread a sentence here or there. The bookstore had been packed -the last thing Kakashi had wanted to deal with at the time- so he had grabbed the first book he saw and paid for it as quickly as he could.
He hadn't even thought to wonder why the clerk had asked to see his identification before he would let him have the book.
He stared down at the little orange tome, turning it over slowly in his hands. What kind of a name was Make-Out Paradise? His musings were interrupted by the sound of someone knocking. Kakashi glanced up at the clock on the wall. Obito was on time, whatever he had to tell the Hatake must be rather serious.
The silver-haired boy walked over to the entrance of his apartment and opened it. "Come on in," he called over his shoulder, already walking towards his kitchen. "Want some tea?"
"Yeah, that would be..." Obito's sentence stopped short, and Kakashi turned back to see the Uchiha clearly fighting not to laugh. "Nice pajamas."
Kakashi glared death at him, suppressing the vehement reply that immediately came to his lips. Obito had done a lot for him in the past couple of days. "Shut it," he snapped, continuing on his path towards the kitchen. "It's laundry-day and this is all that's clean right now. I could walk around in my underwear if you prefer."
"Uh, no thanks, Hatake. I think I'll pass. I don't know what you're into, but I don't swing that way."
Kakashi had to dig to the back of his cabinet to retrieve his rarely used teapot. "I don't know," he answered, "Sometimes you make we wonder." He put the pot under the faucet, but could still hear Obito's answering raspberry over the sound of running water. He put the pot on to boil, then made his way back to the living room to find Obito lounging unceremoniously across his couch. He was holding the book Kakashi had purchased earlier, scanning the pages with a grin on his face. "Oh no, don't mind me. Please, make yourself at home."
"'She moaned his name, her fingernails digging into his back as he entered her,'' Obito read aloud, fixing his teammate with a look. "I didn't know you were into these kind of books, you closet-pervert."
Kakashi's eyes widened as he dashed forward, snatching the book out of Obito's hands. "What are you talking about? Give me that!"
Obito laughed as the other boy chucked the book across the room. "You know, Kakashi, I've got a pretty good collection of those kinds of books as well. I could lend you some if you want."
Kakashi sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "I just needed something for a little light-reading. I didn't bother to check its description."
The Uchiha sat up on the couch, rolling his eyes. "Whatever you say, closet-perv."
"Hey, you said you read these sort of books yourself! Even if I did read them, which I don't, isn't this kinda like the pot calling the kettle black?"
Obito raised a finger, "Ah, you have a point. But whereas I make no attempt to hide my interest in such things, you go out of your way to keep your interest a secret. To the point that you lie about why you're reading such a book. Light-reading?" The Uchiha scoffed, "As if."
Kakashi let out an exasperated sigh, slapping a palm to his forehead. "My god, you're impossible." He shook his head, seeking to get on another topic. "Why don't we talk about why you wanted to meet me."
The Uchiha appeared to immediately sober up; leaning forward he rested his forearms across his legs, his hands folded together between his knees. He was silent for so long that Kakashi began to worry about him. When he spoke, his voice held none of its former mirth. "Is this room sound-proofed?"
Immediately concerned, Kakashi moved to sit in the chair opposite to Obito. "Yes. What's wrong?"
"During yesterday's mission...I wasn't supposed to walk away."
"What do you mean?"
Obito took a deep breath, when he spoke, his voice was thick with emotion. "After I threw you out of the way of that rock, I was caught flat-footed. There was no way for me to get out of the way. I would have been crushed -should have been crushed- had an old man not pulled me away using the Hiraishin."
"Old man? Sensei's technique?" Kakashi was confused. "Obito, what are you talking about?"
Obito continued to speak as if he hadn't heard him. "The man told me that his name was Naruto. That he'd come back in time to save me..." he trailed off weakly. "He showed me things. Things that will happen and things that might happen."
"Obito, you're not making any sense," Kakashi said, incredulous. "Time travel? That's impossible."
"Well...Time isn't really the right word. If you'd let me show you what he showed me, I think it might make more sense to you."
Kakashi stared at Obito for almost a minute; when he spoke, he was clearly skeptical. "He showed you what would happen in the future?"
Obito nodded vigorously, "Yeah. I know what you're thinking, but there's no way it was fabricated. I had my Sharingan activated at the time, and I didn't see any indication that what he showed me was a genjutsu."
The silver-haired boy shook his head. "Obito, your Sharingan is still new. You have no way of knowing that this Naruto didn't somehow circumvent the power of your bloodline limit."
"Kakashi, you don't understand. If you let me show you the visions...You'll know he wasn't lying, I promise."
The Hatake stood, clapping his hands on Obito's shoulders and looking him in the eyes. "Obito, I think you need to talk to sensei about this. Whatever is going on here, it's clearly over our heads."
Obito stared back at his friend for a moment. "You'll understand."
The Uchiha's black eyes flared red for a brief moment, and the next thing Kakashi knew his mind was being assailed by images. "Obito, stop it!" He jerked back, tripping over his coffee table and falling to the ground with a crash. Obito rushed to his side, but didn't lift whatever technique he had used on him.
"I promise you that this is the truth, Kakashi. Just trust me, please."
More images. He saw his own death -at the hand of the boy kneeling at his side- and saw the near destruction of his home. He saw a blond-haired man who bore a striking resemblance to his teacher face off against the aged form of Obito Uchiha. He saw the blond defeat the Uchiha, and saw him seal away his Sharingan. Then he saw the Leaf Village again, this time burning. He saw the Uchiha seal away what he somehow knew was the greatest power to ever threaten Konohagakure. He saw the same blond -the Hokage, he realized- disbanding the former world-power. Then he saw a much older version of the man activating the most complicated seal Kakashi had ever seen.
The visions stopped, and Kakashi was left with a sudden empty feeling as he was left alone inside of his head. His eyes slowly opened, but he didn't immediately say anything.
"I'm sorry, Kakashi. I had to make you understand." Obito's voice carried a tone of concern as he spoke. "The man who saved me is Master Minato's future son. Whatever we do, he cannot know about any of this."
Kakashi nodded, accepting Obito's proffered hand as he rose to his feet. "I get it, Obito. You're right."
He rose to his feet and returned to the kitchen to finish making tea. "We need to discuss what we're going to do with this information."
Minato read over his mission report for the third time, his eyes scanning the words for any missing details. His team had really impressed him during this assignment. Not only had they successfully saved their teammate, they had managed to take down eight enemy ninja; three of which had been listed in the Bingo Book as Class-A criminals.
With his assistance, they had gone on to destroy Kannabi bridge without taking any casualties whatsoever. The Third Hokage had told him that chances were good that without that supply-line, Iwagakure would be much more inclined to an agreement of peace.
It looked like the Third Great Ninja War could very well be over within the next few weeks, and his team had played an integral part in ending it. To say he was proud of them would be an understatement, and he had decided to put both Rin and Obito up for promotion. They clearly had the right mind-set for it, at least in his opinion.
He was drawn from his musings by a knock at his door. "Now who could this be?" He walked over and opened the door, peering outside. "Kakashi?" he asked, surprised. "What are you doing here?"
"Master Minato, we need to talk."
A.N. Many authors fall prey to the easy pitfall that is character bashing/hating. I for one think I've done a good job of avoiding it...Except for this chapter. The end that befell the man who nearly killed Obito in the original series was unnecessarily brutal, and it all due to my personal dislike for him. I'm not sorry.
I hope this story is continuing to live up to your expectations! Several people have asked me to put lemon scenes into the story; it's not that I'm against writing them, it's just that I've never been great at it. I've decided I may try my hand at them. We'll see, if it comes out sounding awkward to me I won't post it!
Don't forget to leave a review and let me know what you think. I love hearing your thoughts on my work; whether they be positive or negative, I want everyone to give me their honest opinion. It's what a fanfiction author lives for, after all!