A/N: I'm so sorry for the long wait. I was busy with my other fics, but I finally came around to posting this. As I mentioned before, I changed a few things with how the Third Shinobi War Ended, but since Narutoverse's timeline is pretty much messed up, I hope that this is an acceptable change.
Before going through the chapter, I would like to thank my beta's
EDITED: october 18, 2020
The Future in Our Hands
Chapter 3: Namikaze Minato: The Yellow Flash of Konoha
The refreshing blue color of the sky was replaced by gloomy ashen grey, the sun refused to provide its usual shine, with only a rough, woollen blanket of mottled grey covering the land. The usual virescent hues of the trees and mountains were muted to the point of dullness; the air was heavy with the dampness of a coming storm, and even the animals knew to seek shelter.
The weather itself seemed to sympathize with the tragic event that transpired a few hours ago that changed the whole life perspective of a 13-year-old Jounin and traumatised a Chunin medic. The sky started to cry, soaking the three bodies who were tree hopping at moderate pace towards the Village Hidden in the Leaf.
Namikaze Minato briefly chanced a glance at his remaining student, noting the tears that continued to roll down the face of his female student and the hunted look in the eyes of the last Hatake. He grimaced and felt his chest constricted in pain as his stomach dropped further down. The lump in his throat seemed to get bigger as they neared the village's gate, he clenched his fist to the point of drawing blood and bit the inside of his cheek to prevent the tears that were threatening to spill from within his tear ducts.
When Obito died, Minato had only shown a brief expression of pain before he quickly hid it with a well-practised poker face.
'It's not yet time to mourn.' He told himself repeatedly while they travelled back to Konoha in a solemn silence. He still had his two students to take care of, and he would make sure that they would make it back home alive.
He had already failed them as their sensei, he didn't want to fail them more.
So Minato endured the pain, holding it in like a dark cloud, heavy with impending rainfall. Eventually, it would be too big of a burden to carry, and everything would crash.
He put on a brave face in front of his students until the three of them arrived and walked back through the gates of their village, finished their report to the Hokage; and sent his two students back home after Kakashi went to the hospital. And when he was finally in front of the apartment he shared with Kushina, he just stood there – not knowing what to do.
The feeling of failure, pain and loss had suffocated him. Even the need to breathe seemed to escape him. Staring unseeing at the door in front of him.
He couldn't do this anymore. He couldn't keep this facade, this… this false image of bravado, acting as if he was okay and he wasn't feeling the loss and failure of losing one of his students. As a Jounin Sensei, he was supposed to take care of his students. He was supposed to guide them – to make sure of their survival, but he failed.
Obito was dead.
Dead because he wasn't fast enough to arrive there on time.
Why was he even called the 'Yellow Flash of Konoha' when he couldn't make it in time to aid his students? What good was it for him to learn the 'Hiraishin' when he couldn't even rescue one of his kids?
There was a faint click and the door in front of him abruptly opened.
Kushina had just opened the door, nearly bumping her face on his chest in her haste to get out of the apartment. She was now standing right in front of him, apparently about to go shopping, given her attire.
The redhead gaped at the man in front of her, having a hard time processing the state that he was in.
"M-Minato?" And there was the horror slowly appearing on her face as she looked at his blood-soaked vest and his dead-looking eyes.
She looked at him with widened eyes, and then it morphed to something akin to understanding. Eyes softening, she proceeded to hug him.
"Come inside, dattebane," She had softly said, and before he realized it, he was crying his eyes out on his girlfriend's shoulder, clutching her to his chest for dear life.
He vaguely registered her guiding him inside the privacy of their apartment. Her removing his clothes and helping him inside the bathroom; tossing his dirty clothes into the laundry box. She cleaned his bloodied hands and face, and towelled his hair and body dry. Then proceeded to dress him like a toddler who had yet to learn how to function properly.
He just stood there while she cleaned and dressed him up. Tears were continuously rolling down his cheeks without him realizing it. Eyes lifeless and expression dull; he felt hollow, dead inside.
Before he even realized it, she was already guiding him to their bedroom, laying him down and embracing him to her chest as she rubbed her warm fingers on his hair and back.
After feeling the suffocating guilt, the choking grasp of disappointment and failure … now he finally felt comforted, cocooned by her familiar scent, and embraced. Safe. He was finally in his safe haven.
Minato let go of his pent up frustration, wailing unabashed as he clung to her for dear life. With her, he could be all that he wanted. He could express everything, he could let go. He didn't need to pretend. She was here, she would shield him from prying eyes. He could finally be vulnerable. He could show his weakness. Because it was her, Uzumaki Kushina.
She started to hum a soft melody as he cried into her chest. Clutching her clothes tightly in his fists, trying to bury himself in her comforting scent. She hadn't asked him what happened. She hadn't said anything at all. She just embraced him and let him cry his eyes out while softly humming a soothing tune under her breath. He hadn't needed words. He just needed her to be there. He just needed her presence. She would understand, she always did.
The whole night, he had cried himself to sleep in the comforts of the woman he loved. And when the next day came, he put on a brave face again. Acted strong and confident even though the boulder that was his student's death weighed down on him; he kept on moving forward. Fighting to end the war to protect his village so that no more 13-year-olds like Obito would need to go on a mission, only to die because of an illogical conflict between nations. No more innocent lives would take the debt known as harsh reality and pay it with their lives.
Obito was still so young. He was supposed to have years ahead of him; to explore the world, pain, and love. He was supposed to make his dreams come true. He had a promising future ahead of him – but this war took it from him. This war killed him.
As Namikaze Minato sliced through his enemies mercilessly in battle, using the Hiraishin to its fullest, he had his team's wellbeing in mind; his village and the innocent children that were forced to endure this devastating war.
'I will end this.' He thought like a mantra.
'This war will end here.' A promise that he intended to fulfil.
Then he did it.
He had ended the war.
"Obito, I did it. I hope you can finally rest in peace," Namikaze Minato uttered to the sky, eyes swimming in unshed tears.
This was the end of the Third Shinobi War. Hundreds of Iwa Shinobi were killed that day, by only one ninja. Namikaze Minato. Kumo retreated upon witnessing how one Konoha Shinobi had crippled Iwa. Suna was just defending their territory and was in a neutral alliance with Konoha so they automatically backed out once Iwa and Kumo did. Kiri was already suffering their own problems from their tyrant Mizukage, so there was no one willing to fight anymore. No nation wanted to try to step up to the mighty power of Konoha.
He was hailed as a hero – The Yellow Flash of Konoha – but the blond himself begged to differ.
He wasn't a hero, he was a failure. One who had failed his whole team.
'The war ended, but it cost us Obito's life. The war was over, but Uchiha Obito stayed dead.'
The Third Shinobi War had finally come to a close, and he had vowed that he would never need to feel the pain of losing another student, ever again. He would make sure that his students were safe and alive — but then, maybe fate really hated him.
Maybe he was really destined to fail. Maybe he was cursed to always disappoint the people he cared for. Maybe he wasn't able to truly protect what was important — because a week after he had finished a mission outside the village and returned to the Hokage tower to report the success, he was greeted by the horrifying news of Rin's kidnapping. And that Kakashi had gone to rescue her on his own.
Minato felt his entire body go numb, his brain malfunctioning.
"I'm sorry, what?" He asked the Sandaime with a deadpan expression, blood going cold as the beating in his ears became louder and louder.
"I'm sorry Minato, it was supposed to be a simple mission… " He zoned out the Hokage's explanation as he excused himself, bowing in front of the Kage before he walked out of his office without a word.
He hadn't needed to ask the Sandaime for permission to rescue his remaining students. He hadn't needed his approval. He would go rescue them with or without the Hokage's consent.
Sarutobi Hiruzen sighed heavily as the blond turned his back on him, not saying more than necessary to excuse himself out of his office. Eyes turning deadly cold, he walked out the door.
The Sandaime hadn't stopped him then.
He knew, just by seeing those eyes, that the man wouldn't wait for his consent. He would rescue his students no matter what he said, even if the entire world disagreed with him. And so, Hiruzen had let the blond go without fuss. He just sighed heavily, massaging his forehead as he felt the headache throbbing on his temple.
He had looked older than he really was by then. The war had taken its toll on him and it tired him. He couldn't do this much longer.
He had to admit it though; he had committed a lot of mistakes as a Hokage. He had too many regrets, too many wrong decisions. However, leading a Ninja Nation wasn't easy, and Hiruzen wasn't getting any younger.
"I hope you succeed, Minato," The Sandaime murmured, looking outside of the window to stare at his beloved village.
He would need to choose a successor soon. Someone who inherited the Will of Fire stronger than he did. And he already had a suitable candidate in mind.
When Namikaze Minato flashed to his student's location, he readied himself to see the worst. He stilled himself to another sight of his failure. To another corpse of his student. Or worse, both of them were gone. Forever haunting his soul for failing them repeatedly.
He, however, hadn't expected to encounter the most bizarre thing that ever happened in his life.
Minato's feet landed on the ground. A fire had illuminated the place like glowing lanterns in Konoha's most prestigious festivals, revealing that the place he had landed in was a cave.
Upon arriving, he immediately saw his unconscious students and the four unknown people situated around them, who – he took note – wore Konoha's ANBU masks that he knew for sure hadn't affiliated in the Konoha's ANBU Black Ops. That alone raised warning bells to Minato's ears, enough for him to instantly stiffen and stand in a battle stance.
"Who are you?" He asked icily, eyes shining with a dangerous glint that could make any normal Shinobi run for their lives.
"And don't try to fool me with those fake ANBU masks, I know for a fact that there's no ANBU in Konoha who had a fox mask, or a snake or a slug for the matter, and Dog was a mask that hasn't been taken for ages," He said.
Unfortunately for Minato, he wasn't dealing with any normal shinobi.
To his astonishment and slight disbelief, the four shinobi hadn't reacted the way he expected them to react. The four of them just looked at him like they hadn't deemed him a threat to their lives.
'At least they had acknowledged my arrival.' Minato sarcastically mused.
"You're finally here, we can now wake up your students." The man with a fox mask said before he gestured something to the person with the Slug mask.
Minato's body became rigid as the person, a woman, walked beside Kakashi with a glowing green aura in her hand.
"A medic?" He thought.
She was probably a medic, but he didn't trust her. Minato moved in front of her with a Kunai in hand.
"Don't move." He whispered, voice deadly as his cerulean eyes narrowed.
The woman rolled her eyes. She rolled her eyes at him! He could clearly see it in the holes of her mask. Minato couldn't believe what he just saw, but he tried his best not to show his surprise. Inside, though, his mind was in utter disarray.
"Oh please, I'm just going to wake them up, feel free to slit my throat if I do otherwise." The woman snorted at him.
"What? What?" His mind reeled back at the woman's attitude.
No foreign Shinobi had ever talked to him like that! Was he losing his touch?
The woman knelt beside Kakashi and positioned a glowing hand on the teen's head. Minato was still too shocked at her attitude towards him to react again.
He opened and closed his mouth like a dying fish as he stared at the masked woman. Then he heard a giggle, and his head snapped towards the sound and found the man with the fox mask giggling at him. Giggling! Wasn't he intimidating enough? What was so funny?
He was about to question the man, but his student had stirred awake and distracted him enough to forget the man in the fox mask. He immediately knelt beside Kakashi when the medic walked around to Rin's side.
The young Hatake groaned as he put a hand on his head.
"Kakashi? Are you alright?" Minato worriedly asked his student. Rin also started to stir, moaning in pain as she held her head, the masked medic stood up after her job was done and returned to the side of the man with the dog mask.
"Rin!" The blond Jounin exclaimed, eyes worriedly darting from Kakashi to Rin.
"Minato-sensei?" Kakashi murmured as he blinked his blurry eyes open and was greeted by his Sensei's worried face hovering over him.
"Kakashi! Are you hurt anywhere?" The blond asked, helping the teen to sit up properly. On the other side, Rin's eyes shot up, and she frantically tried to sit.
"Ah! W-why am I alive? S-someone needs to kill me!" Rin desperately yelled, hands clutching tightly on her stomach.
That unusual reaction shocked the living daylights out of Minato and teen Kakashi's head.
"Did I hear her right?" The two men thought in disbelief.
"W-what!? Rin what are you saying?" Kakashi asked, looking horrified at his teammate.
"No! There's something-" She tried to argue, but someone cut her off.
"You don't have to worry."
Minato's head snapped at the new voice and saw the man with the fox mask kneeling in front of the frantic girl, putting a gentle hand on her shoulder to try and calm her down.
'When did he get there?' Minato hadn't even sensed him move!
Rin looked at the masked man with tears streaming down her cheeks, hands placed in her stomach. The Namikaze frowned, 'Why is she putting a hand on her stomach?'
"Rin, what's wrong?" Kakashi asked worriedly, putting a hand on his teammate's shoulder. He cast a brief, suspicious glance at the masked stranger before he focused his full attention to his panicking teammate.
"I-I… t-there's something inside me… " Rin murmured, frightened beyond belief.
"As I said, you don't have to worry. Isobu is not inside of your body anymore, and I have also removed the seal on your heart," The masked man assured, and Rin stared at him with widened eyes. It was then that she realized that she hadn't known who this masked man was.
Minato frowned. "...is he implying that…"
"Isobu? Seal? What are you talking about?" Kakashi confusedly asked as he glared at the man.
"Isobu?" Minato asked with a raised brow. "Care to explain that?" He said, expression relaxed and calm, but no one failed to notice the dangerous glint in his cerulean eyes.
Naruto sighed, he had been trying to calm himself since his father had appeared, but it was hard for him. It was his dad. He missed him and seeing him once again after so many years triggered a lot of emotions in him.
He knew that his former sensei felt the same. After all, seeing his dead sensei alive and looking much younger than his own age was much more mind-boggling than seeing the Edo Tensei corpse of his mentor. Speaking to Namikaze Minato while he was trying to intimidate them all didn't help their case at all.
"Before I answer your question, let's wake up your other teammate, shall we? I don't want to repeat myself," Naruto said before he stood up and started walking towards the big rock that he was sitting on before.
And that was when the conscious members of Team Minato finally realized that someone else was laid behind the rock, one whom they couldn't identify yet because of the shadow that was looming over the person's form from the rock that he was leaning upon, the person's feet and legs were the only visible part that Team Minato could see. Beside the unconscious body was the woman with the Slug mask, standing silently with her arms crossed over her chest.
"W-what do you mean our other teammate? We're the only members of Team Minato," Kakashi asked. Hands suddenly became clammy, and the loud thumping sound of his heart was becoming louder and louder in his ears.
The denial was on the tip of his tongue, but for some reason, the implication behind the fox ANBU's words lingered in his mind; strongly pushing through his thoughts of denial. His eyes were wide with suppressed hope.
The man in the fox mask loudly snorted at the teen's denial and gestured something towards the man in the dog mask. The brunette quietly complied with the silent command. Walking behind the rock, the dog ANBU crouched and picked up the unconscious body lying there.
The person had long raven hair, and the distinct colour of the Uchiha visible under the illuminating light of the bonfire.
As the masked man walked towards Team Minato, the team of three couldn't remove their gaze from the unconscious figure, eyes unwavering and had long since widened.
Minato's thoughts were frantic.
'It can't be… NO! He's dead! He died because you failed him!' He tried to argue with himself.
Clenching his eyes shut to push away the sudden hope.
'No, you can't think that he's… because if he really did survive that… then-' His eyes snapped open, intensely staring at the figure in the arms of the fake dog ANBU.
Future Kakashi quietly laid his unconscious best friend in front of his past team. The older Hatake couldn't help the frantic beating of his heart as he felt the raw emotion clawing in his chest, down to his flipping stomach, and the sudden lump in his throat.
He swallowed the overwhelming emotions, trying to hide his trembling hands as he stood up and retreated to his previous position. He shoved his hands inside his pockets to hide their shaking, shoulder slumped in his usual lazy posture. He looked calm on the outside, but inside, his emotions were choking him, threatening to drown him. He clenched his fists in his pockets. He was reaching his wit's end.
Naruto crouched beside Obito's unconscious figure, and under the intense stare of the shocked Team Minato, he gently brushed aside the hair draping over half of the Uchiha's face.
Rin's startled gasp and Kakashi's sharp intake of breath echoed throughout the cave. Minato went stone rigid, eyes wide as saucers as he stared in disbelief at the revealed face of the unconscious person.
Because here was their worst nightmare – Obito's face greeted them, showing the disfigured right side of his face as proof that he was buried under the rock where they left him.
'Left him… they left him.' The three of them shakily thought.
"O-Obito… " Young Kakashi hadn't even realized his breathless voice as he whispered his supposed dead teammate's name.
"I-is that really..." Rin whispered in disbelief, unable to continue what she wanted to say as she started to sob, putting a hand in her mouth to try to stifle the noises that were coming out of her mouth but failing miserably. Tears were streaming down her cheeks like waterfalls.
"Wake him up, Rin," The man in the fox mask urged softly. Rin looked at her sensei pleadingly, silently asking for permission.
It was fascinating to see how much respect his students gave the Namikaze.
'No matter how much the girl wanted to wake up her lost teammate, she still remembered to get her sensei's permission,' Naruto mused as he observed their interactions.
That was when Minato snapped out of his stupor.
"Kakashi-" Minato called out to his other student, trying to ask him to use the Sharingan to check if this was a Genjutsu or not, but his student understood him immediately. He cut him off before he could ask him to check.
"I already did Sensei, the first thing I did when I saw his face was to check him with the Sharingan. And there's no Genjutsu, Sensei. He really is Obito. His chakra seems a bit different from before, but it's definitely Obito. It's... Obito… he's… he's been alive all this time! And we… we left him there! We abandoned him! We abandoned him like he was some sort of trash to throw! We're worse than scum, damn it!" Teen Kakashi choked as he punched the ground in frustration, he couldn't help the struggling sound of his sobs as his tears dropped to the cold floor of the cave.
Future Kakashi watched his younger self in sympathy. He understood what he felt, he had the same sentiments when he found out. But compared to what he was feeling when he first laid eyes on his alive best friend after so many years of grieving his death, he was at least lucky to not be able to witness Obito's betrayal. At least now, Obito was saved.
Minato clenched his fist, trying his best to contain all the overwhelming emotions that he was feeling.
'I'm their Sensei damn it! I need to be strong!' It was not yet time to wallow in self-pity. 'Your students needed you, Minato!' He mentally screamed to himself. The Yellow Flash took a deep breath and closed his eyes before he nodded at Rin.
"O-Okay Rin, wake him up." Rin hadn't needed more prompting. As soon as Minato gave his consent, her hand immediately glowed with the faint green color of the medical ninjutsu. She hovered her shaking hands in the unconscious Uchiha's face and waited with baited breath until he stirred.
Obito groaned as he felt the throbbing pain in his head.
"Argh! What hit me?" He questioned himself as he rubbed his head to soothe the pain and slowly blinked his eyes open, only to be greeted by Rin's tear-streaked face. The Uchiha abruptly shot up, grabbing the girl's face between his warm hands.
"Rin! Why are you crying? Are you okay?" He frantically questioned, trying to check her for injuries, unaware of the two shocked gazes directed at him.
Rin cried harder.
"Rin! What-oof!" Obito was barely able to put a hand on the ground to steady the two of them as Rin suddenly launched herself at him, hugging him tightly like a lifeline. He blushed as he put a hesitant hand on her back.
"Obito!" Rin cried on his shoulder and the Uchiha was lost. He didn't know how to comfort her.
"I-It's alright Rin, I'm here," he whispered quietly. Feeling the lump in his throat, he swallowed it, as Rin moved away from him. He was tempted to grab her back to his chest but he refrained.
"Obito…" His eyes snapped towards the voice and his eyes widened when he saw Kakashi and his sensei looking at him as if he was a ghost. He vaguely registered the tears streaming down the Hatake's face and his eyes lit up.
"Bakashi! Minato-Sensei!" He happily greeted the other members of his team, but he was beyond surprised when Kakashi suddenly grabbed the front of his clothes – "Oi!" – and abruptly hugged him.
Obito's mind short-circuited as his teammate, who was supposed to hate him, hugged and cried on his shoulder. The Hatake Kakashi hugged him. Obito couldn't believe the sudden turn of events.
"O-Oi! Bakashi-" The Uchiha tried to protest, but he was cut off when the Hatake shoved him away so suddenly and started pointing at him.
"Obito, you asshole! How could you do that to us! How could you? Stupid dead last!" And Hatake Kakashi cried harder, like a toddler.
'What the hell happened to you!?' He wanted to ask frantically. Somehow, seeing a wailing Kakashi was a lot more horrifying than seeing a crying Rin.
He wanted to joke around, but he restrained himself. He needed to understand what his teammates were feeling right now. After all, they thought that he was dead all this time. Obito took a deep breath and put a hand on his teammate's shoulder.
"I'm sorry, but you know I'm back!" He sincerely apologized and tried to lighten up the mood as he chuckled awkwardly.
"Asshole," teen Kakashi murmured with a watery smile at his teammate before the two of them fist-bumped. "Welcome back, dead last."
"Obito." That was all the warning that was given to him before someone else pulled him again for another tight hug.
"S-Sensei!" Obito squeaked, startled and beyond embarrassed from all the hugging he was receiving from each of his teammates and Sensei for the span of a few minutes.
"I'm glad that you're alive Obito. Thank Kami." Minato mumbled as he clutched his lost student in his chest. A few tears slipped from the blond's eyes as the overwhelming emotions of guilt, regret, failure, relief, and gratefulness clouded his heart and mind.
"S-Sensei…" The young Uchiha blurted out before the stinging in his eyes finally burst and tears rolled down his cheeks.
All the suffering that he had endured for months finally caught up to him and he suddenly clutched his Sensei's flak vest like a lifeline and started crying like he had never cried before. Kakashi and Rin followed suit, and Team Minato huddled and hugged each other after the tragic experiences of their team.
The survivors of the war-torn future quietly watched in the shadow, hearts clenching in pain at what they were witnessing right now. This was what was supposed to happen the first time around. Rin wasn't supposed to fall victim to suicide, and Kakashi wasn't supposed to be traumatized for killing his teammate. Obito wasn't supposed to turn evil and punish humanity, his father wasn't supposed to die and leave his only son orphaned.
There were so many things that went wrong. So many lives thrown away and destroyed, and this second chance – this opportunity gifted to them by the Sage of the Sixth Paths – was a gift: a miracle that they would take advantage of.
Naruto was suddenly filled with overwhelming satisfaction and utter happiness. His eyes stung as the tears threatened to fall, but he held it in. It was not yet time.
It took Team Minato a couple of minutes before they recovered. They were still sitting close with each other, but Minato had finally managed to compose himself and regain his serious expression.
"Well Obito, I'm glad that you're back, but we wanted to know what happened to you," Minato finally spoke after watching his students quietly with a small smile in his lips. Sadly, he needed to ask one of the most important questions.
"And do you know who these people are?" The blond added as he gestured towards the unknown people with them.
'Wait! Those masks!' Obito thought as his eyes widened in recognition.
"Y-you're the people I saw there! Who saved Kakashi and Rin! You're Konoha ANBU right?" He yelled in surprise at first, before a tone of uncertainty laced his voice at the end of his sentence.
"No, they're not." His Sensei denied, and the Uchiha's eyes widened.
"What? Then who are they? Why did they help us?" He rapidly questioned, "Wait, where's the person with a Bear mask?" He added confusedly, and Minato's eyes turned sharp.
"There's more of them?" He solemnly asked Obito as the masked figures stayed quiet, watching them in silence.
Obito squinted his eyes at the masked men, and abruptly widened before pointing a finger at the man in a snake mask.
"Hey! I didn't see any snake masks there," The teenager revealed and Minato's eyes seemed to gleam dangerously, but the masks Shinobi stayed relaxed. The young Namikaze's eye twitched.
"Bear is around, you'll see him later," The fox man said nonchalantly.
"Now before we explain our part, why don't you tell us your story Obito-chan?" The fox ANBU gleefully said.
Obito spluttered indignantly at the nickname, he could practically see the man's eyes smiling behind the two holes of his ANBU mask. And Obito was sure he heard the man in the Dog mask snorted loudly and tried to hide his masked face behind a green book.
"Oi! I'm a Konoha Shinobi! Don't make fun of me!" The 13-year-old Uchiha shouted and the fox man snickered.
"All right, let's move on to business, shall we?" He urged, laughter still dripping on his voice as Obito grumbled.
Minato's eye twitched twice at that. 'They're not taking me seriously. Who the hell are they to dismiss me as not a threat!?'
"Why can't you explain first? You're more suspicious than my student," The blond Jounin asked, eyes narrowed but voice nonchalant.
"Well, our story will make more sense after Obito told his story," Obito frowned at the statement.
'What did they have to do with my predicament?' He thought confusedly before he sighed.
"Okay, I will tell you what happened to me. But you need to believe me even though it sounded so bizarre and unbelievable," Obito said nervously, fidgeting in his place.
His teammates and Sensei exchanged glances before they nodded. The Uchiha took a deep breath before he started recounting his story.
"I thought I was dead, you know. Being buried by those rocks. The pain had already numbed me, and I knew that I already lost a lot of blood. I was ready to die, and I was happy because I managed to save my teammates," He briefly paused to smile at his teammates who gave him a sad smile.
"I lost consciousness at some point, and when I woke up, I was inside a cave. My whole body was wrapped like a mummy. Since I just woke up, my mind was a bit fuzzy and incoherent, but I still remembered to check my surroundings to assess where I was. In the dark corner of the cave, I saw a man," He fidgeted uncomfortably in place, and Rin put a hand on top of his cold one. It gave him the courage to continue.
"He was sitting on a throne of some sort-" He frowned as he tried to picture the exact moment that his eyes landed on the man, "-I thought I was dead then, and the grim reaper had come to send me to the afterlife, or that I had met the Shinigami himself and was going to be guided to the realm of the dead. I even asked him if he was there to take me away. I tried my best not to show it, but I was already scared shitless." He visibly shivered as he recounted the very first time he blinked his eyes open and found himself in that cave.
His teammates let out a small snicker at that, commenting that: 'Only you, Obito would say something like that!' He grinned at them. His Sensei even gave him a fond smile.
"Then he told me that I wasn't dead yet and he had saved me. I was shocked and happy at the same time, and so I thanked him sincerely," Obito trailed off and he grimaced. He unconsciously tightened his hold on Rin's hand, seeking comfort. "But he told me that it was still too early for my gratitude and that his services were not free."
Minato's heart started beating rapidly inside his ribcage as his student continued his story. Somehow, he had a bad feeling about Obito's story.
"I asked him if he wanted help in scratching his back and getting groceries since he's old, but he told me that he didn't need that. I asked him his name and he answered the most bizarre and unbelievable thing," The teen indignantly said, as if he himself was still bewildered by what he found out.
"W-what's his name?" Rin whispered, her voice shook as she felt her hands become clammy. She squeezed Obito's hand as she felt it turn colder.
Obito stared at them seriously, and solemnly answered – "Uchiha Madara." Rin gasped, Kakashi gaped, Minato looked alarmed.
"What!?" Minato couldn't help but to shout in disbelief.
'Did I just hear my student said that he was saved and healed by the most notorious missing-nin, traitor and enemy of the Leaf?' the blond thought incredulously.
"But he died ages ago! Hashirama-sama killed him! Are you sure that you're not just pulling our legs here?" Kakashi refuted his teammate's claim, forehead creased in disbelief.
The Uchiha shook his head, "No, it was him. Uchiha Madara. I can recognize that face anywhere I see it. Though he looked old, it was definitely Uchiha Madara."
Konoha's Yellow Flash felt his body go cold. His student spent months inside a cave, alone with Konoha's most notorious traitor, Uchiha Madara. What had his student undergone in the hands of that Uchiha for months?
Minato didn't want to think of anything. He really really didn't want to think of anything.
The blond Namikaze mentally shook his worries away. 'Obito is not yet done retelling what happened. I'll listen to the whole story first before I conclude anything,' He tightly clenched his fist as he waited for his student to continue.
"D-did he do something bad to you?" Rin asked in a whisper and Obito frowned.
"That's what confused me. He told me that I will need to pay for his services. But he never asked me to do any of his biddings. Aside from him helping me train my limbs so that I could walk again, he had never asked me for an errand or for a favour. Not even once. Though he never allowed me to go out of the cave, aside from that, I spent my weeks there trying to recover. I could never go out of the cave even if I wanted to," The Uchiha said, grumbling at the end.
Kakashi frowned in worry, "Why couldn't you get out?" He asked.
"It's because of my limbs. I couldn't do anything but crawl for a few weeks, and there was a big boulder blocking the main entrance of the cave. Oh, and he replaced my limbs with the same body as the Zetsu's… " Obito said as he lifted his right arm and showed the white skin there. His team looked closely at his limbs and Rin even poked it.
"What is that?" The girl asked and Obito shrugged, "I don't really know. Before coming to rescue you, I used my artificial arm to punch the boulder. It only created a crack, and that arm was destroyed. It's a good thing Guruguru offered to use himself as my artificial limb-Ah! Where's Guruguru?" The Uchiha's eyes shouted in sudden realization.
His partner was not with him. Where was he? Did he return to Madara? Obito's mind suddenly became frantic. 'Did he report the events that transpired to Madara?'
"Guruguru? Who is that? And how did you know that we were in danger, Obito?" Kakashi asked, narrowing his eyes at his teammate. Obito's expression immediately shifted from frantic to thoughtful contemplation.
"Well, I was training my body to move properly with the artificial limb that Madara put on my body when another of the Zetsu appeared and told me that you were in danger," The Uchiha said, forehead creasing in thought.
"Come to think of it. It's surprising that they would let me out of the cave to rescue you when they wouldn't even let me go back to Konoha to be with you guys, no matter how loud I shouted and demanded for them to take me back to Konoha, " Obito said with a frown, and the rest of Team Minato went silent.
The blond Jounin's mind was running a mile a minute as he thought of the distinct possibilities. When the man in the fox mask suddenly spoke.
"That's easy, he orchestrated Rin's kidnapping and freed you to 'rescue' your teammate. When in reality, he was hoping for Rin to die in front of you, knowing that her death will make you go insane, easy to manipulate, and definitely willing to follow through his plans." Team Minato snapped their heads towards the Fox man when he suddenly intervened.
Obito, Kakashi, and Rin's jaw went ajar at what the man had said, eyes widening in horror. The blond Jounin narrowed his eyes at the fake ANBU. 'What does he know about this?'
"What do you mean? Why would I follow any of his plans if Rin died?" Obito demanded a bit frantically, bordering on hysteric.
"Obito…" Rin clasped both of her hands on his panicking teammate's, squeezing his hand in silent comfort.
'We're still here,' Her eyes seemed to convey. Young Kakashi put a comforting hand on the Uchiha's shoulder and clutched it tight.
Obito stared at both of them with tired, frightened eyes. 'What does he want from me? Why me?'
"Because you're an Uchiha." A deep baritone voice of a man echoed throughout the cave, and Team Minato was startled. For the first time since the team's reunion, the man with a snake ANBU mask spoke.
"W-what do you mean? Why would me being an Uchiha matter?" Obito's voice became small. His anxiousness was engulfing his whole being. "Why me? Why me?"
"The Uchiha blood is cursed. And it's called 'The Uchiha Curse of Hatred', as ancient as our ancestors, from our blood's real origin, Otsutsuki Indra. The second son of the Sage of the Six Paths." The young Uchiha couldn't do anything but gape at the masked man. It was the first time that he was hearing something like this.
"The Curse of Hatred was both an ideal and a curse of some sort that was common among the members of the Uchiha Clan and those of Uchiha Blood," The man said.
He walked towards the huddled members of Team Minato and situated himself beside the Fox ANBU, sitting with one knee propped up and an arm resting on top of it. Team Minato quietly watched the snake ANBU settle down before them..
"While the Uchiha are capable of being devoted to the ideals of love and friendship, they tend to hide these traits by being aloof and indifferent to those around them." His deep obsidian eyes shifted and bore through Obito's, "Maybe you're the anomaly of the clan, Obito, since you didn't act the same way as a normal Uchiha would." Obito's ears turned red in embarrassment at being addressed, and he crossed his arms in indignation.
"There's a lot of other things to do than mope around. And being a jerk like Bakashi is something I will never do," The young Uchiha huffed as chibi Kakashi hit the back of his head.
"Oi, that hurts!" Obito loudly complained, rubbing a hand on his aching head.
"Serves you right dead last," The 13-year-old Hatake deadpanned.
The fox ANBU let out a snicker, and the man in the Snake mask coughed once under his fist.
"Sorry, please continue," Obito apologized, glaring at his teammate in accusation. Kakashi shrugged as he focused his attention back towards the snake ANBU.
"As I was saying, because of the Curse of Hatred, when the object of an Uchiha's affection or obsession dies, the Uchiha in question will lose their love instantly and turn it into hatred. When this happens, the Uchiha will do anything and everything in their power to achieve their goals and to show off their superiority, regardless of the consequences and repercussions of their actions." Obito's eyes widened as realization slowly dawned on him.
"The despair and hatred of these experiences that the Uchiha gain over time will soon cause a chemical reaction in the form of unique chakra within their brain, affecting the optic nerves of their eyes and creating the fabled, yet dreaded Sharingan eyes of the Uchiha." Obito couldn't move as the man continued to speak.
"And since Madara is an Uchiha, he knew this curse to be true. So he was leaning on the possibility of Obito going mad with hatred because of Rin's death, and finally condemned the destruction of the Shinobi villages and its 'tainted' system," The fox ANBU concluded, and Obito's body suddenly felt so cold.
"How can you know these things? Do you work for Madara too?" Minato demanded as he levelled them with an icy glare.
The snake ANBU snorted, "Not in my life. I will never work for that scum," the raven-haired man answered. If he still had his other arm, he would have crossed his arms over his chest, but since he hadn't, he opted to clench his fist.
"Then how do you know-"
"The Eye of the Moon Plan," Obito's horrified murmur cut off Minato's attempt to interrogate the fake ANBU, and the blond shifted his attention towards his shocked looking student.
"Obito?" Rin softly whispered before she squeezed the Uchiha's hand again.
"Eye of the Moon Plan?" young Kakashi asked in confusion.
"He told me about The Eye of the Moon Plan once. He said that he will cast a powerful Genjutsu on the world using the moon and create a beautiful world where everyone lived through their dreams," Obito said, eyes wide in realization.
"He also said, and I quoted, 'The longer you live, the more you realize reality is just made of pain, suffering, and emptiness.' He told me that the Shinobi World is tainted and that this world will only bring pain and suffering, that he will make a world where happiness is permanent, and no more war and pain will grace humanity. Where true peace will be finally attained."
"That's bullshit. How can a world like that exist?" Kakashi said with a grimace.
"You're right, little Kakashi," The fox man cheerfully said.
Chibi Kakashi let out an indignant squawk. Obito snorted so loud that he choked on his own saliva. The fake ANBU in the dog mask let out a long, suffering sigh. The Fox ANBU didn't pay them any mind and just continued talking.
"A world like that is nothing but a fake world. The Moon Eye Plan would be nothing but a mere illusion. A dream that never existed. Untrue and fictitious. A made-up world created by a coward who refused to persevere, endure and fight through the pain and suffering. My mentor once told me that, 'When people get hurt, they learn to hate… when people hurt others, they become hated and racked with guilt. But knowing that pain allows people to be kind. Pain allows people to grow… and how you grow is up to you.' A world created by someone who refused to grow through pain and fight reality to attain peace can never bring true peace to the world. There is no shortcut to peace." The Fox ANBU's eyes suddenly hardened, and the three teenagers stared at him as if seeing him for the first time.
"Just because you're suffering, you made up an excuse to condemn the world and turn your back from reality. You choose to seek for something immediately attainable, but illusive. As one of my closest friends once said, 'Peace under an illusion is not true peace. It's only meaningful if the real world manages to accomplish it.' I refused to believe in a world of illusion. I'll rather die fighting the harsh reality through pain and suffering to accomplish peace than to rely and live my life in fiction and a nonexistent world," The man stood up, and look down on Team Minato, exuding a powerful presence that caused them to unconsciously listen more attentively and remembered every word uttered in their hearts and mind. Such were Uzumaki Naruto's effects with people.
"Why are you going to turn your back in the real world when reality holds the true meaning of love and happiness, real memories you shared with the important people in your life. Are you willing to exchange your real memories with fakes? I rather treasure them in my heart and fight harder with the memory of them as my pillar in striving for the world of true peace than to live in harmony with them inside a fake world with their fake memories and fake faces." The passionate speech was met with stunned silence. Team Minato stared at the fox ANBU in a new light, wide eyes boring through his mask, body rigid and unmovable.
Then finally, Uchiha Obito managed to speak.
"H-how did you know this? How did you know so much?" The young Uchiha stuttered, and the rest of the Team stared at him expectantly. Even Namikaze Minato was left speechless. He hadn't expected to hear such strong belief with achieving true peace from the fake fox ANBU, greater even than his Sannin Sensei's, Jiraiya.
"How did I know this?" The fox ANBU echoed the teenager's question, "It's because we lived through the horror of this once, and survived."
"W-what?" Kakashi whispered incredulously, his mind already reeling and went on overdrive as he tried to decipher the meaning behind the ANBU's cryptic worlds.
"What do you mean by that?" Minato demanded, voice sharp with fleeting confusion.
"Exactly how it sounds like. We lived through the horror of Madara's Moon Eye Plan coming through fruition, and the world was engulfed by darkness as every single person in the world slept inside a fake world of peace. We experienced first hand the devastating start of the Fourth Shinobi War, where the whole Elemental Nation fought together to stop Madara's plan of casting a worldwide Genjutsu to achieve his fake world. The Infinite Tsukuyomi," The ANBU's voice wasn't too loud, but for the stricken Team Minato, his voice seemed to boom in their ears and around the cave.
"W-What-" Rin stuttered.
"-the hell... " Obito's voice trailed off.
"Yes, you guessed it right. We know this because we came from the future."
To be continued…
A/N: Before you complain about the sudden reveal, I wanted to say that: "Things happened for a reason."