Chapter 1 - Divergent

"We can't stay here! Hurry, grab on!" Rin exclaimed, shaking her head. She glanced up at the trees worriedly. "Kakashi..."

"I can take them. Right here." Lightning crackled around the boy's hand with the sound of a thousand birds. "Come out, Rock coward."

"That's the jutsu you completed..." Rin said hesitantly. "Be careful..."

"Hoho, so you're still showing the will to fight in this situation..." The tall Rock ninja appeared from cover, his hands raised, ready to attack. "You've got a strong will – but you will not survive."

"You should not have come out to challenge me at all," Kakashi said in response, raising his Chidori. "Say your last words."

"As if that attack would ever hit –"

Kakashi nodded in satisfaction as the Rock ninja suddenly froze, his breath caught in his throat. Very slowly he toppled forwards, his eyes wide in disbelief. A kunai was lodged solidly in the back of his neck.

The boy standing behind the fallen ninja still had his hand outstretched, and stuck out his tongue to Kakashi as he relaxed. The Sharingan blazed in both his eyes. "Well, how was that, Kakashi? Assassination, Uchiha style!" He smiled as he stepped forward, almost tripping over the body. "Whoa!"

Kakashi rubbed his single eye. "...Obito."

"And don't you forget it!" Obito exclaimed. "Do you remember my promise, Kakashi? I am Uchiha Obito of the Uchiha clan! I will surpass you!" He tapped the side of his head. "And I have awakened the Sharingan now..."

"You're still an idiot."

Obito pointed at his teammate, enraged. "You're going down, Kakashi! Just you watch!"


The old man sat in darkness, staring darkly at the ceiling as the ages seemed to pass him by unnoticed. He should have been dead, a long time dead. Here he was, instead, living like a parasite on borrowed years.

He gazed at his wrinkled hand, thinking back to a time when he was strong, capable. He would need that body again, to make change. If he stayed here, he would simply remain a relic, a slowly decaying part of history.

He raised his hand carefully, attracting the attention of his creations. They were crude and imperfect, but that was irrelevant. They could move outside.

"Bring me Nagato."


Some things never change. They are as immutable as the sun or the stars, constants. Others – are less settled. They might upset the balance, and change things dramatically. Sometimes even a pebble in a pond can have large repercussions, and it was often hard to tell what those pebbles were.

"Danzō-sama!"

Shimura Danzō glanced at the door with a frown, stretching his limbs that protested the movement. He was getting old – he had long admitted it to himself, though he rather disliked the idea. "There is such a thing as knocking."

"I did knock."

Danzo rubbed his forehead tiredly. "I apologize, then. I must have been dozing off." He rubbed his eyes tiredly, wondering idly whether or not the fact that he had been less than needed of late was the reason he was so careless. Even for him, years of prosperity had eroded away some of his passion for the job, indulging himself in enjoying the stability while it lasted. "So, what is it?"

The boy in the door smiled thinly. "The Sandaime is here to see you, as per your appointment."

Danzō nodded then. "Right, right. Send him in." He waved the pale boy away. "Off with you."

"Yes, sir."

Things had changed a lot since he was younger, he had to admit. War had been on everyone's mind, and Konoha was always under threat; Root had been his ruthless tool for ending those threats, his covert army to end enemies before they ever became a threat to the village itself. Even if relationships with foreign states remained tense, Konoha was well-known to be the strongest village, with the most powerful Kage. The roots had retracted, he supposed, until such a time when the flourishing tree was once again in danger.

The Sandaime walked in with his cane, smiling congenially. "Hello. My – you're beginning to look old!"

"Not like you, Hiruzen," Danzō said as he snorted. "At least, I hope not. I intend to keep my hair for a while yet."

Hiruzen raised an eyebrow, gingerly checking to see if he had suddenly been shaved. "Are you calling me bald?"

Danzō looked on as the other man settled into a chair with a contented sigh. He picked up his glass and took a careful sip. "What are you doing here, old man Sandaime?"

"I had hoped for a nice game of shōgi," Hiruzen admitted, shrugging. "I have found myself without someone to play against, of late. With my duties so lightened, boredom does begin to creep up on me."

"Isn't the brat keeping you busy?"

"Not really," Hiruzen responded with a grin. "It's obvious why that is, I'd think. We're at peace; things run themselves for the most part. He's got plenty of advisors around, so he doesn't need to call up his predecessor all the time."

Danzō frowned. "This might just lead to complacency."

"Perhaps," Hiruzen agreed as he set up the board that was stored next to the seat – this wasn't the first time that he had come by for a game. "Perhaps you're right, but we cannot always keep our guard high," he added. "Things will work out, and you know it. The next generation is taking over from us old fogeys, and they're doing fine."

"Would you say the same if you were still wearing the hat?" Danzō wondered idly.

Hiruzen smiled. "I don't know, but Minato wears it better than I ever did."


"I'm definitely going to pass!" Naruto exclaimed. "Honestly, after the amount of work I've had to do for mom, I should be ashamed if I can't pull off a few simple jutsu." He scratched the back of his head as he glanced at Chōji. "How about you?"

"My Kawarimi is a bit shaky," the robust teen admitted nervously. "I've been trying to get better at it, but I have a lot more mass to exchange than most of the rest of you, so I need to use more chakra. I suppose it'll get better the more I practice, though. Dad's helping me to perfect it when he's free."

"Ino?"

"I'm fine with all of them," she said easily. "I've had these particular skills perfected for ages, you know. Training my family's special techniques is much more important for me, now." She glanced at Shikamaru across the room. "Unlike some people, I actually care about that."

"Not this again," Naruto muttered. "Not everyone's just as fast with training their techniques, you know. Mom's been trying to teach me some stuff for ages, but I'm not too great at some of these techniques." He shrugged. "Well, at least I can kick ass."

Chōji rolled his eyes. "Shino's with his parents, where are all the others?"

"Probably late," Naruto said lightly. "What I'm wondering is, where's the stuck-up freak?"

"Sasuke's already passed," Chōji responded morosely, shaking his head. "I don't get it – why would the police force get special permission to pass someone to Genin rank, outside the academy tests? Isn't that cheating?"

"Not really," Ino said, frowning. "They test for different things. I mean – they have that dōjutsu, right? And I'm sure there are the fire techniques too. I'm pretty sure you need both before you are allowed to graduate. The Uchiha clan is elite like that - even their kids are held to a higher standard."

"He'll still be on one of our teams, probably," Naruto observed. "I hope it's not mine. Can you imagine?"

"Yeah, can you imagine being in one team with someone from an incredibly famous family with special techniques?" Ino said, smiling. "It'd be horrible!"

"That's different," Naruto responded with a scowl. "Mom and Dad never make a big deal out of that, and neither do I!"

The girl raised a sceptical eyebrow. "Really? So you don't get private lessons?"

Naruto became flustered at that. "So do you! Chōji too, for that matter, and Shikamaru if he can be bothered to actually attend them!"

"I heard that," Shikamaru said from across the room, barely audible. "You're an ass, Namikaze."

Naruto plucked at his orange vest with the symbol of Uzushiogakure on it. His mom had made it, and he had actually gotten rather fond of it. She regularly joked about him inheriting the yellow from his father and the red from her, so they blended together in him. She called him an Uzumaki as well as a Namikaze, and he was never sure which one to go with.

It was tough, being the Hokage's kid. Though he certainly wasn't a slouch – like some people – he had a lot to live up to in any case. Not just his father's side, since the Yellow Flash of Konoha was famous across all the nations, but also his mom, who was probably the last of the Uzumaki clan. She was also famous for other reasons, though those weren't spoken about in public.

"So, who will be our sensei, you think?" Naruto said at last, frowning. "Who's getting the job this year?"

"I hope Yūhi Kurenai," Ino said immediately, winking. "She knows a lot about Genjutsu, you know. I could probably get really good with my techniques if I learn that."

"Genjutsu." Naruto scowled. "Those are hard. I'd rather have someone who kicks ass with Ninjutsu."

"Hatake, maybe?" Shikamaru said as he approached, dropping lazily into a seat next to Chōji. "He's supposed to be a really strict guy, though. He's been in ANBU for ages, so I guess that's not a surprise, though. I suppose we'll have another Ino-Shika-Chō trio, so that's probably settled…"

"Isn't there a Sarutobi sensei, this year?" Chōji asked. "He's family of the Third Hokage, right? That would be interesting…"

"Maito Gai already has a team, I believe," Naruto mused. "Well, there's Tobi, of course."

Chōji blinked. "Tobi?"

Naruto smirked, glancing over to Ino. "Right – I'm at the tower a lot more than you guys, so you probably don't see him much. Tobi's my own nickname for Uchiha Obito, my dad's old student."

Chōji gasped in recognition. "He's going to be a sensei?Why? My dad thinks he'll be the next Hokage!"

Naruto scowled. "Of course not, that'll be me! Dad's not going anywhere for a long time, anyway." At the looks he received, he rolled his eyes. "Fine, yes, it's probably true. Tobi's around all the time and he gets lots of dangerous missions. Once he went out with dad and Shisui of the Body Flicker, and he was the only one to return unhurt!"

"I want him as my sensei," Chōji declared. "He sounds awesome!"

Naruto frowned. "Sasuke will probably be on his team, now that I think about it. Sharingan, you know? There's only one Uchiha student, and I bet he goes to the only Uchiha teacher."

"Ugh." The rotund boy got up, stretching. "Never mind, then."

Unfortunately, Naruto already knew what his team would be, given that his dad couldn't stop informing him about the details with a certain amount of glee, aware of how much his son loathed Sasuke. He seemed to find it amusing, sharing it as some private joke with Tobi.

The first on his team would be Uchiha Sasuke, whose parents were killed by his brother a few years before. The other member would probably be whoever passed with the lowest score, to balance things out a little. Possibly it would be Shikamaru, since there were more male graduates than usual, but he figured that his dad had long seen through the lazy guy's test scores. He would get stuck with Hyūga Hinata, Sakura, or even Shino, who had been far too busy with his family jutsu to pay much attention during the school year. Honestly, he wasn't half as bothered by any of those possibilities than the fact that he would have to be decent to the bastard Uchiha.

"So, since you know him so well, what's this Tobi-sensei like?"

"He's a pain in the –"


"-ass!" Obito exclaimed, fuming. "Honestly, he's been avoiding me all week. Can you believe that?" He paced through the room, eyes flashing. "Here we are, both sensei, and now he chooses to stop talking to me?"

"Obito…" The Fourth Hokage, Namikaze Minato, leaned back in his chair with a sigh. "Kakashi is free to go where he pleases while he's not on duty. He's just come off four years of ANBU service; I think he's entitled to a little freedom."

"Oh, that's just an excuse, and you know it." He glared at the Hokage, his Sharingan active. "Ever since that incident, he's been nothing but trouble. Honestly, how can you tolerate it? He's one of the strongest shinobi in the entire village, and yet he can just go and do anything without repercussions?"

"I let you do the same thing," Minato replied simply, raising an eyebrow. "Kushina has told me plenty of times that I shouldn't be sending you out on A-rank missions by yourself, you know. Yet, I indulge your requests. Is it so strange that I do so for others? You know Kakashi is more than capable."

"Yes, but…" Obito paused. "It's Kakashi."

Minato smiled. "Kakashi will be in town for a while now, you know. Assuming his Genin team passes its test, he'll train them up to be just like him, I'm sure. You'll have plenty of time to speak to him and to try and prevent him from corrupting his students."

"They'll be little masked barbarians," Obito agreed darkly, shaking his head. "I really don't like masks," he added with a sigh. "I could never be in ANBU like Kakashi. Anyway, what's that going to change? You know he'll still give me the cold shoulder, like he's been doing since forever. It's even worse now that I actually see him with any regularity."

"It's his right to ignore you," Minato said lightly. "You know that it's far better than your relationship before, right? I remember that rivalry all too well." He ran a hand through his hair. "Far too well. Honestly, you wrecked seventeen houses in that last all-out fight."

Obito rolled his eyes. "Really?"

"I counted."

"…Fine, then. I still think you should talk to him about this."

"Why not go directly to him?" Minato blinked lazily. "He's still a loyal shinobi, you know. He wouldn't kill you. If you visited him when he was off duty, I'm sure he would listen to you."

Obito shuddered. "And get that expression aimed at me again? I'd rather not."

Minato leaned over his desk, sighing deeply. "Is that still haunting you, then? All those years have passed and still Rin…"

"Don't mention that," Obito snapped. "That is private."

"She was my student, Obito."

"Yes, but you weren't there when…" The Uchiha sighed tiredly as he stopped himself. "Never mind. I'm probably just nervous over this change in my routine. Teaching – can you imagine it? I can't figure out how you managed to seem so calm, back then."

"The key word is 'seemed', Obito." Minato said easily. "Just treat them like any other co-workers, if ones you need to help get to your level. You'll have Naruto in your team; he'll listen well enough to you. He probably wouldn't admit it, but I think he's fond of you, in his own way."

"He's a stubborn brat."

"That he is," Minato agreed. "Not too different from me at that age, though he got that temperament from Kushina, I think. Still – I think he'll work well with you. Then there's Sasuke; well, you know your little clan mate better than I do."

"He's a little Kakashi," Obito muttered. "As flexible as a log, short-tempered, and way too focused on one thing."

Minato leaned back in his chair again. "Itachi."

Obito nodded. "Almost killed by his own brother, and both his parents dead at the traitor's hands. I can understand his rage, but he hasn't channelled it in a productive way. He has plenty of family left, including me, but all he seems to care about is to track down Itachi and kill him. Though as you know, he never says it like that."

"Yes, he seems convinced it was someone else." Minato observed. "Did you ever find out why?"

Obito shrugged helplessly. "Seven ANBU and lots of citizens saw him when he escaped, before people knew what had happened. There was even a Hyūga among them, and even he said the same thing. It was Itachi. Sasuke was clearly under a genjutsu of some kind. I have my suspicions, but without finding him again..."

Minato nodded in understanding, steepling his fingers as he frowned. "I hope that you will be able to break him out of this cycle. Like it or not, you helped Kakashi do much the same thing."

"If there was anyone that helped him out of his idiocy, it wasn't me," Obito said at last as he turned for the door. "I will hear the third as soon as you have decided?"

"Of course. Obito-"

"There is still some time left before the exams," Obito said simply. "If you wish to be at your son's graduation, I suggest that you hurry." He vanished with the next step.

Minato looked into the empty hall contemplatively. "S-class shinobi or not, you're still going to be late yourself, aren't you?" He shook his head as he glanced at the Hokage Monument, each of the four faces gleaming in the sun. "I hope you survive my son."


"You're here already, Ami?" Naruto wondered as he dropped down into his usual seat. "Earlier than usual…"

"Yeah, whatever." She shrugged, standing up. "I'll go sit somewhere else, then." She quickly walked off, and Naruto glanced between her and the five or six other students that had already gathered in the classroom just as a few more trickled in. Ami was an odd one – always picking fights with Sakura or Ino, and extreme disrespectful of almost everyone.

"I suppose you passed," Naruto muttered to himself as he glanced at the other arrivals – Shino, Chōji, Shikamaru, Ino, Kiba… "Oy, dog breath, how did you do?"

"Fine," Kiba replied, glancing behind himself. "Haven't seen anyone that failed from our group, actually."

Naruto nodded as Sakura walked in, quickly slipping into her seat as well; Sasuke was close behind her, and Sakura had probably waited for him to arrive. The Uchiha glanced over the class with derision; he had already been a graduate for a day, so he had come explicitly for the teams, then.

Hinata was among the last to enter, her eyes sliding across the people present as she nodded confidently. "Seems like that's everyone, Daikoku sensei."

Daikoku Funeno nodded with a smile, making his way to the front of the class. "Well, since we're all present and accounted for, this can be pretty quick. This year we have an unusual number of children from clans, so team formation was quite a chore, let me tell you."

"As if you did any work," Naruto muttered as he glanced to Chōji who had plopped down next to him. "Honestly, dad's been checking over the plans for a week."

"I believe you," Ino chimed in from his other side. "Dad says that Daikoku-sensei always was likely to be lazy, that's why he's not a Jōnin…"

"Wish Iruka-sensei had stayed," Naruto agreed. "I liked him. Then he had to get promoted…"

"… Team 7, then." Daikoku said, glancing towards Naruto. "This team will consist of Namikaze Naruto, Uchiha Sasuke-" Naruto groaned audibly. "- and filling out that team is Hyūga Hinata."

"Oh hell," Naruto said, sighing. "This is going to be torture."

Ino snickered at his misfortune. "Well – I supposed you should feel glad. Imagine if it'd been her." She glanced at Sakura with a frosty look. "At least the Hyūga isn't useless."

Daikoku frowned. "Wait, is this right? Your sensei is … Uchiha Obito?"

Naruto cheered suddenly, and smiled widely. "The universe has pity on me!"

"Great, now I'm jealous again," Chōji muttered.

"Team 8 will consist of Aburame Shino, Haruno Sakura, and Inuzuka Kiba. Your team leader will be… Yūhi Kurenai."

"Well, that leaves Ino-Shika-Chō under the Sarutobi, I guess," Ino lamented. "It could be worse."

Naruto blinked. "Wait, what about Hatake?"

"They were one of the first teams mentioned; you must've missed that," Chōji said, sneaking a few crisps from some forgotten pouch. "It's Ami and the two freaky kids."

Naruto nodded, glancing to Sasuke and Hinata, his new team, as the predictable last team was announced. Having Tobi as his teacher would be great; he was an actual expert in Space-Time Ninjutsu, maybe even more so than his father, and that was saying a lot. Naruto could barely wait to get started, since Obito would know exactly what he would need to work on. He would need to remember to drop by the Hokage office later to thank his father.

At Naruto's curious look his way, Sasuke just glared back, his eyes red with the Sharingan. Sasuke loved showing it off, ever since he had first activated it the year before. Almost nobody really knew how those dōjutsu were activated – the Uchiha clan was pretty secretive – but Obito had seemed to disapprove of the method used, so Naruto was pretty safe in suspecting it was cruel. The Uchiha clan was a powerful force in the village, and technically Sasuke was supposed to be its head, with his father dead, and his brother a traitor. His cousin, Uchiha Shisui, would hold the position until his cousin reached maturity or a high rank.

Hinata was perhaps even stranger than him, Naruto thought. As heir to the prestigious Hyūga clan, she was taught primarily within the compound, and frequently it seemed like she didn't care about anything else but working for her clan, particularly when Hyūga and Uchiha clashed, a frequent occurrence. She had a close relationship with another member of her clan that had graduated the year before, Neji, though Naruto had no idea whether she would open up to others too, or just family. Whenever she looked at him with those milk-white Byakugan eyes, Naruto felt like he was being judged silently, and he turned away.

"Have you ever even spoken to her?" Ino asked as she noticed Naruto's look. "She doesn't bite, you know."

"Once," Naruto said, scowling. "Wanted to tell her I was glad that she was alright after that Hyūga compound thing happened."

"The kidnapping," Ino realized. "You knew from your dad, right?"

"Yeah. She punched me when I mentioned it," Naruto muttered, rubbing his wrist. "Couldn't use my hand for a whole day… Honestly, I gave up after that. If she can just assume I had something to do with a potential kidnapping because I mentioned it, she's clearly not in her right mind."

"She was very stressed," Ino defended Hinata. "She didn't remember, that's all."

"At least she was grilled over it," Naruto said with a smile. "Remember her father, storming in here? I've never seen someone so angry…"

A man stepped into the room, drawing all attention. A tall man with a puff of white hair and a dark eyepatch over a masked face, Hatake Kakashi looked the part of a Jonin. "I am here for Team 3."

"That's us!" Ami exclaimed, and she and two boys quickly walked over to the man; Naruto didn't even know their names, and he felt momentarily ashamed about that. Kakashi glanced over the room one more time, and then left with his team without another word.

Both Asuma and Kurenai, sensei for Team 8 and 10 arrived next, taking the rest of the people that Naruto cared about, which only left the three of them in a quickly emptying classroom. Naruto sighed and juggled with a shuriken, effortlessly flipping it into the air and catching it easily until he didn't even need to think about it anymore. Somewhere along the way Daikoku had left them alone.

Nobody talked. Naruto had expected as much; Sasuke wouldn't start a conversation, and Hinata probably didn't care about either of them in the least.

Finally, after almost ninety minutes, the door opened again.

"Tobi! You're late again," Naruto said lazily as he stuffed his four shuriken away – he had made his little game a little more difficult as he waited.

"I came here via a pocket dimension where time flows differently," Obito said with a slight smile. "Seriously."

Naruto just stared at him. "So, what did dad bribe you with to put me on your team?"

Obito chuckled nervously, glancing at Sasuke and Hinata. Both gave him icy looks, though Naruto wasn't fooled. Uchiha Obito was a living legend – one of the strongest members of the Uchiha clan, in fact; they would be fools to dismiss him. Obito dropped onto a chair himself with a sigh. "Must you use that nickname, Naruto?"

"Yes."

"Well, as long as you're sure about that. Sasuke, Hinata, please join us at the front."

With some grumbling the two clan members made their way to the front as Obito nodded cheerily. "Right, right. There we go. I am Uchiha Obito, as you have already heard. I'm new to being a sensei, so forgive me if I screw up…"

"Which you will," Naruto added.

"Thanks for the vote of confidence, brat. Anyway, I want to start with a test for you tomorrow morning so I'd suggest that you all get a good night's sleep."

"The bell test, then?" Naruto inquired. "Uncle Jiraiya told me about that…"

"Maybe not, then," Obito said, tapping Naruto on the head. "Don't eat too much, and take your weapons with you. I want to see what you can already do, since I know you're all a little more advanced than the Academy."

"Yes, sensei," Hinata said simply, and Sasuke nodded.

"Right – I expect you all to excel. If you don't – well, there's always next year." He smiled deviously. "Don't think your presence here is certain, you know. Kakashi tested his new team right after he left here. I hear he's already failed them."

"What?!" Naruto exclaimed.

"Don't be cocky, and remember the essentials of a ninja," Obito said as he smiled. "Jiraiya might've told you a few things, but I'm sure he's left enough for you to puzzle out for yourself."

"Just you wait, Tobi-sensei!" Naruto declared. "I'll beat you into the ground!"

"Maybe." He winked, waving. "Well, I have an appointment at the hospital that I shouldn't miss. Be punctual, alright? Even if I might get distracted helping out some old ladies along the way." He stuck out his tongue as, within an instant, his body vanished as if into a maelstrom; he was gone.

"Hn," Sasuke vocalized, apparently surprised. "…Mangekyō?"

Naruto tried to ignore the headache that he knew would soon come; this was going to be a pain, he knew it. Tobi would make things way more difficult than they should be.


"Obito-sama!"

"It started a few hours ago," Obito said, rubbing his eyes. "I figured it would be fine. Get the machine and the donor, alright? I'm sure he's not too busy."

"Nonō isn't available right now," the medic said carefully, frowning.

"Oh, that's fine, someone else can do it." Obito said lightly. "I'm sure that there are enough of you who know how to use her technique by now, given how often you have been observing."

The medic nodded, frowning. She looked quickly into Obito's eyes, and scowled. "You shouldn't use those techniques so much. If you moderated yourself, you'd only be here once in a few months," she said irately as she activated a warning seal on her belt; it was specifically designed to call a certain ninja, wherever he might be at the time. "Twice in two weeks, is it?"

"I finished an A-rank only a few days ago," Obito explained. "It took a little more force than I'd anticipated. Honestly, I'm fine. You know that I could walk with this kind of strain for days without any permanent damage."

"Doesn't mean you should."

"You medics are always so serious," Obito complained. "Shisui barely leaves the village now that he's clan head, so it's no wonder that he doesn't abuse those eyes of his so much. The moment that Yakushi-san finds some more permanent solution, I'm going for it. These eyes are my ticket to awesome, you know."

"Yes, Uchiha-san, I know." The medic shook her head. "You're almost as bad as the Hyūga about those things. Except they come for every single little thing, instead of waiting till they almost lose their eyes from incremental damage. Honestly, you clan types are all insane."

"You're pretty candid for a Chūnin," Obito said, smirking.

"When you're Hokage you can boss me around," she said sharply. "Until then, this is the hospital, and there the medic rules supreme. Go get on the bed."

Obito flipped onto the stretcher without a word. His eyes were only aching dully, a vaguely uneasy sensation – as if he had been reading too long, or glared into the sun. He knew what the reason was, though, and what it meant. It was a portent to nasty things – severe pain, the disintegration of his power, the loss of his sight. Yakushi Nonō's treatment for the dangerous side-effects of the Mangekyō Sharingan were a life-saver, almost literally, even if the secret of the dōjutsu had been revealed to the Hokage as a consequence.

Most of the Uchiha clan despised him for various reasons, Obit was well aware. Firstly, because he had been a failure until he got his second wind with the discovery of his talent with the Sharingan. Secondly, because he had effectively demystified one of the biggest secrets of the clan. Thirdly, because he honestly didn't like most of his family much, preferring to stay closer to his other friends and the village. The fact that he could get along with the current clan head was a small blessing, at least.

Despite all of that, the clan couldn't dismiss him outright, or disown him as they had threatened in the past. He was the most powerful Uchiha alive, even including Shisui, and he was very close to the Hokage. He was their best ticket to having actual input in the way the village was run, and the only one who could reasonably become Hokage in the future.

"Obito-san. I didn't think I'd see you again so quickly."

"Stressful week?" Obito tried as he turned to the door, smiling in recognition and giving a friendly nod. "I'm sorry if I pulled you from your work."

"Oh, no, that's fine." Yamato walked in, already rolling up his sleeve. "I am glad to be of service, of course. I consider it a blessing of my particular condition, that the horrors that caused it can be used to help others. Mokuton is remarkably versatile like that."

Obito nodded as he removed his vest. "I still thank you for your charity."

"Oh, it's not charity," Yamato replied immediately, giving a creepy stare that Obito knew all too well. "Keep the village safe, and I'll keep helping you. Call it insurance."


Author's Note: An offshoot from a plotbunny, this is an AU based off of the recent manga chapters. Hope you like it. :)