Disclaimer: not mine

Chapter 5

Hiro landed shakily, forcing down the urge to be sick. With the barriers back up it was not a pleasant trip…and he'd landed nowhere near Konoha, wonderful. Going by the heat and sand he was somewhere in the Land of Wind. It could be worse, a lot worse. Suna and Konoha were allies…although at this point Gaara was a psychopath and his father was Kazekage so that alliance wasn't incredibly strong. It still beat landing near Otogakure.

He was too shaky to attempt apparating at the moment, and he knew he couldn't make it all the way to Konoha either. Which left walking. He transfigured a head scarf to keep the sun at bay, applying cooling and sunscreen charms as well. He then lay his wand across his palm.

"Point me Konohagakure," he murmured, watching as his wand spun before finally settling to point towards the Village.

He returned his wand to the holster and began walking, he'd travel at night o avoid the heat except it got too cold in the desert, he'd be safer just keeping hydrated as he walked then trying to make his way at night especially since the animals including predators would be out at night. Sadly, he couldn't manage the animagus transformation at the moment, he'd have to re-train his body and magic to do so. The same with so many skills he'd taken for granted as an adult.

That night he slept in a magical tent, hidden behind a notice-me-not ward to be safe. He slept well and got an early start the next day, the sun barely peeking over the horizon as he checked the direction and started walking again. He was about to stop for lunch, when he felt…something. He turned, hand going to his sword only to feel the blood drain from his face. Shit! This was not happening, how? Why? He'd never met Obito the first time till the war and he'd been playing Tobi then so what were the odds of running into the currently controlled and partially insane Uchiha in the middle of nowhere? At the moment, he was no match for the older man! He gathered magic, ready to risk apparating, to go as far as he could.

He watched warily as the man raised his hands and then realised, he could see his face when Obito had always worn a mask before the big reveal. Why…no, it wasn't possible, he'd been long dead…

"Easy Hiro," Obito called, and he froze, there were only two ways he could know that name. Either Sasuke had come back and Obito had tortured it out of him or…

"Obito?" He asked warily, and the older man smirked.

"Even had Sasuke shove a chidori through my heart to deal with the seal."

"Sasuke," Hiro whispered. For him to know that jutsu…he'd come back too, he wasn't alone. The idea that Sasuke might remember too had kept him going while he hunted down the Death Eaters but to have confirmation… "He's okay? You're okay?"

"He's frustrated at the limitations of a twelve year old body," Obito chuckled.

"And you?" Hiro pressed, just what wasn't Obito saying? He looked healthy enough, better than he had during the war but he was in his younger body. And he'd said Sasuke had already dealt with the seal that Zetsu and Madara had put on him which was very good. But there as definitely something off…

"We should get out of here, we're too close to one of Suna's outposts," Obito said instead and the world twisted around them.


Kakashi was stuck in the water prison, cursing himself for falling for the trap, unable to do anything but watch as his team fought Zabuza. Seeing Sasuke and Naruto working so well together made him proud even as he was terrified for them. They weren't ready to go against a jōnin, wouldn't be for years! Even with Naruto's 'prisoner' and Sasuke's blo…his eye widened as Sasuke suddenly began moving more fluidly, dodging and attacking much better…like he could tell what Zabuza could do before he did. Sasuke ducked and twisted, his face visible to Kakashi and he saw it, the Sharingan.

The Council would be pleased, unless they could keep it quiet, just between the team? Sakura would be easy enough to convince to keep quiet, but could Naruto keep quiet even if he agreed to? Many were desperate to have the Sharingan back in the ranks, without considering the boy behind the eyes. Kakashi himself would never be as good as someone born with the bloodline, couldn't pass it on. He'd have to find a way to warn Sasuke without actually saying anything concrete. The boy had to stay in the public eye as much as possible, it'd make it harder for him to be disappeared into something like Root. Of course, all of that depended on them making it back to Konoha alive. He shouldn't have let the kids talk him into continuing the mission…even though he'd agreed due to his own suspicions about things in Wave.

And then twenty Naruto's dog piled Zabuza's clone, burying kunai in it until it burst apart, leaving Naruto's clones damp but grinning as they and Sasuke turned to face the real thing. Twenty became something like a hundred, a war cry sounding, and then they launched at Zabuza who sneered, swiping through them one handed with his sword…only for the Fūma Shuriken hidden behind them to fly through the smoke and slam into Zabuza, driving him back, breaking the technique holding Kakashi, dropping him into the lake.

Kakashi quickly stood on the surface and then leapt back to solid ground to find Naruto grinning at him and even Sasuke had a small smile on his lips for a second. He was proud of them as he watched Zabuza stumble from the water, obviously injured from the force of the blow not to mention the sharpness of the blades. He was bleeding and some impressive bruising would be coming up if he survived, not that Kakashi planned to allow him to get away. If he did, he would be prepared to face them next time and that wouldn't be good.

He stepped forward, making sure the boys were behind him, checking that Sakura was still guarding their client and thankfully she was, though she looked pale and the bridge builder seemed frozen in terror, wonderful.

"Round two?" He asked cheerfully, to ensure Zabuza focused on him. He didn't doubt the missing-nin was the kind to want revenge on the kids for the humiliation of taking a hit.


Obito took a seat and Hiro sat opposite him, watching him. He couldn't keep avoiding the teen's question on how he was. He didn't want Hiro to blame himself for his issues.

"Obito?" He may be years younger than when they'd met the first time, but the glare was the same.

"I have…gaps in my memory," he admitted. "Anything from the time period post waking up here, I remember everything before that, I suppose because it isn't influence by the future."

"How can you even remember at all? You, well, you were very much dead when we were sent back."

"Sasuke figures it's because of you, he said you were trying to protect both of us."

His frowned, thinking, and Obito let him. He might have gotten used to being around magic in the war but he didn't know much about it. And then Hiro swore softly, grimacing.

"Hey, whatever you did, it means we've got an advantage. If not for it, you'd be facing my younger self," he reminded the now teenager.

"Intent is important in magic," Hiro murmured, "and my intent was to save you and Sasuke. Your body was dying so my magic saved what it could I guess." Hiro moved closer and then reached out to touch his chest, and Obito stayed still, he trusted him. Green eyes closed in concentration and then Hiro sat back. "Your soul is the you from this time," he explained, "your memories seem to be no more than an imprint from the future, which explains the gaps."

"So if something damaged my memory…"

"You'd be back to the you that existed here, minus the seal and that did influence you. I'm still getting my mental protections back to normal but once I do, I can see what I can do to make sure your memories can't be erased."

Yeah…that wasn't exactly good news. There were far too many ways of messing with memories, even outside the Yamanaka clan. The idea that Hiro could tell the age of his soul, that still freaked him out a little. That had actually been harder to accept than the magic, there'd been other magical who'd joined in the war after all. Then again, even Hiro had seemed uncomfortable with his own powers, and Sasuke had explained that they'd been more recently gained and that was why. Something about gaining some items that gave him a connection to death. It had come in handy, allowing him to know the runes to protect their dead from being brought back to fight against them. He'd even managed to undo the Edo Tensei a few times as he got better control of those powers. Did he still have them?


Naruto stretched out on the bedding, staring at the ceiling. He was just glad they didn't have to camp again and the old mans' daughter was nice. He was still buzzing from the fight, even hours later. That…had been scarier than fighting Mizuki or even finding out about the fox. But fighting beside Sasuke…it had just worked, it felt right. Almost like he'd done it before which was really weird.

He glanced over at where Sasuke was curled on his side, asleep. Sakura was sharing Tsunami's room with her, apparently it was okay to share a tent with them but not a bedroom? Girls were kind of weird. Kakashi-sensei was in the room next to them, he hadn't woken up yet since he'd collapsed beside the lake. Hopefully he'd wake up in the morning and tell them what to do. If Zabuza came back before he did…it'd be up to Naruto and Sasuke to defend the house. Maybe it was time to dig out some of his meaner pranks again? They might not stop Zabuza, but he had caught the occasional Anbu in some of his better traps and pranks.

He'd seen Sasuke's eyes, they'd been red and spinning, and he'd suddenly been fighting even better than normal. Naruto wasn't dumb, no matter what his Academy scores said, he knew about the clans and bloodlines, knew about the Uchiha massacre when they were little. And he was a bit scared, would the guy who killed them all come back now to kill Sasuke? He knew the other Villages would be after Sasuke because of his eyes too.

How could he just sleep like that after everything that happened. Naruto wanted to sleep but he couldn't, his mind wouldn't stop spinning, adrenaline still going through him. He shifted restlessly, rolling onto his side to face the small window, and then nearly jumped when a hand gripped his shoulder.

"It's me," Sasuke murmured, and Naruto swallowed. "It's okay, we're safe."

"Are we?" He couldn't help asking, then he heard Sasuke shifting, tensing as he felt the other teen lying right against his back, almost touching.

Which put Sasuke's back to the door and anyone else in the house, something he never did. "Breath with me," Sasuke whispered, his breathing slow but loud in the small room, and Naruto was soon following the pattern. "That's it." A warm hand moved firmly up and down his back and Naruto realised he was shaking. It was so stupid! What was wrong with him. "We've got traps and your pranks all around the house. And Zabuza is hurt, he's going to take at least a few days to recover. It's left over adrenaline and fear, it's normal."

"Not scared," he tried to deny. He wasn't a scaredy cat, he was going to be Hokage!

"I was," Sasuke admitted, shocking Naruto. "Kakashi-sensei was too, he was terrified Zabuza was going to kill us. But we did it, we beat him bad enough to force him to retreat."

Sasuke talked more since graduating but never this much. So…maybe he was rattled and just better at hiding it. The talking was helping, so was the hand, he wasn't shaking so much now, be he was still cold.

"That's it, you're okay," Sasuke told him, and Naruto managed to nod. They were okay, they were safe for now, his body was just being stupid. And then Sasuke tugged him back, wrapping an arm around him, their bodies pressed together with only the then blankets between them. Naruto tensed, not used to that much contact outside of a fight. No one but Iruka-sensei ever really touched him. "I won't hurt you," Sasuke whispered. "I'll protect you," he promised.

He didn't want to be protected…did he? But it seemed his body disagreed, relaxing. He realised his face was wet, he was crying and it was stupid. It'd been hours since the fight, he should be over it, but it was hard. He hated admitting it, but he did feel better with Sasuke holding onto him, he was really warm.


Sasuke was relieved as he felt Naruto go limp, falling asleep. He had been surprised by Naruto's reaction to the fight, he hadn't reacted like that last time…but Kakashi had passed out quicker last time so they'd had that time of thinking Zabuza was dead, had it made that much of a difference? During the war, there hadn't really been physical barriers, it had been normal to share sleeping spaced and bedding even with strangers. It was why Sasuke had had issues sleeping since arriving in the past, he wasn't used to sleeping in an apartment alone.

After a while he got up carefully and left the room, moving silently down the hall, checking into the other rooms. Thankfully, Sakura was sleeping seemingly peacefully. She'd only really been in danger for that first bit of the battle, hadn't had to fight, so it made sense that she'd not be reacting as strongly. He moved on to see Kakashi lying still on the futon he'd been given since he was 'injured', his chest was moving steadily with every breath so Sasuke retreated to re-check the traps, smirking as he realised what some of Naruto's would do to anyone who triggered them.

Satisfied, he slipped back into their room to find Naruto had curled up a bit, hugging himself in his sleep. He winced at the sight and slipped back in behind him, holding him, feeling him slowly relax again. He'd kind of forgotten how bad Naruto had been at this age, unused to anyone wanting to be near him. They'd spoken a few times of their childhoods in Konoha, and while there'd never been mob beatings or anything, there had also been little kindness. He knew how Naruto saw the Sandaime at the moment, and how crushing it had been to find much of that relationship was one-sided. It was another reason to hope Hiro would show up soon, to get another positive influence in Naruto's life. Team 7 could only do so much, especially when Sakura still didn't really like Naruto all that much.

In some ways, his own childhood had been just as bad as Naruto's after the massacre except the cause was the opposite. He'd been given far too much attention, too much praise, and it had done its own damage to him. He'd become arrogant, sure that he deserved the attention because he was better than others. He'd pulled away from others to keep himself safe and because they had overwhelmed him, but he'd still thought he deserved the praise. That on top of Itachi's torture that night and then again after the chūnin exams had really messed him up when it came to human contact and interactions.

Hiro too had a similar background to both of them, it was why they had gotten on so well after Sasuke'd been healed from Orochimaru's seal and two exposures to Tsukuyomi. But Hiro had made two good friends younger than they had and that had helped him with his healing, even if he had been sent back to his abusive relatives every summer and been attacked by a mad man or his flu kids every year. The three of them would likely be able to keep a whole company of trauma therapists in business for years.


Hiro leant back on his arms, staring out into the creepy world of Kamui. It wasn't exactly a pleasant place to stay but it was great for hiding and planning. The only other person with access didn't know he did at the moment, making the security excellent. Thankfully, Obito and Sasuke had been working on a plan since they had met up just after the bell test. The plan wasn't a bad one, but if they didn't believe them then they'd be forced to run from Konoha, not something they wanted to do.

Knowing Sasuke was on the Wave mission again had him a bit worried, but they'd done it the first time so they should be fine, right? Obito had mentioned Sasuke's mess up during the exam but had promised things had improved between the team since then. Still, he wanted to see it for himself.

It was risky, tying Obito back to Konoha so soon, it would cut him off a lot from Akatsuki. Sure, he could use kamui to get to them, but he'd be under high surveillance for a while surely. And it would make Zetsu question his actions if the plant creep could sneak into Konoha to speak with him. Though they would kill Zetsu first chance they got, even if it was only by sending him into kamui until the three of them could get together to end him. And what would Nagato do without Obito pulling the strings into the background?

But it wasn't fair to Obito to make him remain in the shadows and mostly alone. Hiro could tell it would be dangerous too, his mental health had never been good, even years after the seal had been removed. Holes in his memory were not going to make that any better, he'd need to be around allies to help him heal and stay stable. It was why Harry's feet were over Obito's legs, proving he wasn't alone or imagining things.


Kakashi groggily stared up at a ceiling, struggling to remember what had happened. He recognised the symptoms of chakra exhaustion, though not an extreme case which was good, especially since he didn't recognise where he was. Though he wasn't restrained and didn't appear to be under guard…and then a door opened and Sasuke stepped into view, shoulders slumping slightly, in relief?

"You've slept for three days," the young Uchiha told him, turning to call out something outside of the room. He then moved to kneel beside Kakashi. "Any injuries? We could only check for obvious signs."

Kakashi checked out how he felt, carefully testing his body without moving too much. "Everything seems fine," after three days he'd be In trouble if he had had internal injuries the kids couldn't find.

And even if they had, they would have had no way of treating him or contacting Konoha for aide without one of them risking the run back. Huh, how did other genin teams deal with that?

"There's been no sign of Zabuza, we've set up traps around the house and they are undisturbed but he is a jōnin."

Kakashi was pleased that Sasuke had understood the circumstances, that traps set by genin, even ones like him and Naruto, might not stop someone like Zabuza. He struggled to remember exactly what had happened before he succumbed to chakra exhaustion, it always made the last minute or two hard to recall. They'd gotten the man good with the hidden Fūma Shuriken but it wasn't a debilitating injury, depending on what support he had Zabuza could be back on his feet in another day or two…Kakashi would take longer. No…he'd clashed with the other man again, that was why he'd collapsed. Add those injuries in and they had a week, maybe two if he had little medical help. Those were much better odds.


A few people in a distant village stared in fear as smoke rose in the distance, hearing what sounded like an explosion. A few hours later, a farmer saw two people moving at the edge of his field one leaning heavily on the other as they vanished into the jungle. When he looked later, he found a few drops of blood, smelt lingering smoke. But who would they tell?

They knew of some kind of Shinobi base, had seen ninja on occasion, but those who grew too curious tended to vanish and so they remained silent, happy when no one disappeared again and there were no more ninja sighted. No one was brave enough to head to where they thought the base was though.