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return to innocence

Chapter Text

 

 

Nagato could still feel the blood on his hands, an odd pin-prickle sensation in his eyes that felt almost like tears but, at the same time, undeniably not

 

Mother... Father...

They were dead.  Gone.  He had seen the men - shinobi, he thinks - kill them in front of him, as they sacrificed themselves so he could live.  But he hadn't ran, frozen in his place even as the shinobi came toward him, their eyes wide and saying something that he couldn't hear, their voices drowned out by the dull roar that had built up in his ears as he stared blankly at the bodies on the ground and -

He hadn't been thinking after that, just that soul rending pain within him driving him forward, and he had... killed those men, those shinobi with the swirl shape on their forehead protectors.  He had slumped down then, a sick squelch as his hands pressed into the warm blood pooling from the cooling bodies, his hair moving again to cover his eyes... when he wasn't there anymore.

The sticky blood that had covered the wooden floor was gone, but his hands were still covered with it.  He was kneeling on a dirt ground, and everything was dark.  He gets up, trembling, and tries to squint into the darkness.  

The sound of footsteps.  Nagato falls to the ground again in a rush of panic - he had killed the shinobi who had slaughtered his parents, but he didn't have a weapon anymore, and he couldn't imagine killing again - when he hears the voice of a boy maybe just a bit older than he was go, "Oi, Nagato, you in here?"

He knew his name.  How did he know his name?  He had never - 

A light illuminates his face, and he peers up into the shocked, wide-eyed visages of two older children - a boy and a girl.  "...Nagato?"  The girl asks, unbelieving.  "You're so little!"

"Did you shrink?"  The boy demands, eyes narrowing.  "Just when I thought you couldn't get any smaller -"

"I don't know any of you!"  Nagato screams at the two of them, scrambling away from them the best he could.  "I - I don't - How do you know my name?"

The boy and the girl share a look.  "He's younger," the girl says.  "When I found Nagato and Chibi in the first place, this was how he looked."

"But that doesn't make any sense!"  The boy exclaims, obviously frustrated.  "How did Nagato turn back into a little kid?"

"We have to find Jiraiya-sensei and ask him," she replies surely, before turning back to Nagato, holding a hand out to him.  "Hi Nagato.  I know this sounds really crazy, but we're your friends.  I'm Konan, and this is Yahiko.  We know you when you're older."

He looks up at them suspiciously, and makes no move to take her hand.  "Believe us!"  The boy - Yahiko - cries at him, a bit desperately.  "You're my best friend, Nagato, and we can't find out what's going on if you don't come with us, because there's no way we're leaving you in this weird place."

"What's the last thing you remember, Nagato?"  The girl - Konan - asks kindly.  

He replies, despite his initial reservations.  "M-Mom... D-Dad... They -"  His voice cracks, but the two other kids seem to understand what he means, especially after they stare at the blood on his hands.  

"Crap," Yahiko says bluntly, and Konan turns to glare at him.  "I'm sorry!"

"Yahiko and I met you a year after that happened," she tells him.  "A lot of stuff has happened since then, we went through all of it together.  The three of us worked together to survive.  A while ago, a man named Jiraiya-sensei took us on as his students.  We've been training under him for more than a year now."

Nagato pushes himself up and eyes the two of them suspiciously behind his bangs.  "...Why should I believe you?"

"Ugh, why are you always such a paranoid bastard,"  Yahiko bemoans.  "Come on!  We're not gonna hurt you, I mean, if we were, we would have done it already!  Just come with us and we'll find out how to turn you back to normal."

Nagato swallows, wipes the tears from his eyes, and realizes that he believes him.  "Okay," he says shakily.  Konan smiles prettily at him even as Yahiko bares his teeth into a huge grin.  

It is surprisingly easy to get out of the weird room they were in, but they soon found themselves in an even more unfamiliar building.  Yahiko ran to a window, pressing his nose up against the glass to stare at the outside.  "We're in Ame!"  He shouts, awed.  "See, it's raining and everything!  But everything looks so much newer."

"How did we get here?"  Konan wonders.  "Jiraiya-sensei would definitely notice if we got kidnapped, and he would have come for us - he would have.   Even if he's off with his teammates right now -"

"He is?"  Yahiko exclaims.  "But I just saw him yesterday, when he was teaching Nagato about another way to use those weird eyes of his!"

"No, Yahiko..."  She says slowly, "that was last month.  Jiraiya-sensei left yesterday."

Nagato looks between the two of them worriedly.  "What's the last thing you remember, Konan?"  Yahiko demands.  

"The three of us were attacked when Jiraiya-sensei wasn't there.  I... I used the new technique I developed,"  Konan replies shortly.  "He - He was a bandit, I think, he was trying to rob us -"

"What the hell, that didn't happen!  The last thing I remember was -"  His expression tightens.  "I killed a guy who was trying to take you away from us."

"That was last month,"  Konan repeats, sounding even more sure.  "I... I think I'm from a little bit more in the future than you are."

"I don't get it!"  Yahiko groans.  "Nagato's a little kid, you remember stuff that I don't remember, and Jiraiya-sensei's disappeared.  Where the hell are we?"

"We'll find out,"  she decides.  "It doesn't matter from when we're from.  The three of us are still friends, and we're gonna work together to find out what happened, right?"

"Yeah," the orange headed boy agrees.  "Nagato, stay close to the two of us, alright?  We don't know who else is in this place, but Konan and I can beat them up before they hurt us.  So don't worry, alright?"

To his own surprise, Nagato realizes that he doesn't.

Chapter Text

Obito opens his eyes, which is pretty normal, except – when had he closed them in the first place?  He had been with Kakashi in the heart of Iwa territory, moments away from rescuing Rin and getting the hell out of that place, when… 

Holy crap!  He blinks, and he can suddenly see the chakra pathways moving through his hand, and everything around him looks so much clearer, albeit with a slight reddish tinge.  This was the Sharingan!  He, Uchiha Obito, dead last of the Uchiha Clan, had finally activated his Sharingan!  Let’s see the bastard call him a crybaby now, huh?  Hell, he had saved Kakashi’s life, hadn’t he?  He had been the one to see the disguised Iwa nin, he had been the one to stab his kunai forward and –

He swallows, looking down on his hands, horror replacing excitement.  He just killed a guy.  That wet squelch when the blade of the kunai pierced into the man’s back, the warm blood that had sprayed onto his hands… it had been because of him.  But… he had been an enemy!  He was gonna kill him and Kakashi if Obito hadn’t killed him first, and then Rin would have been captured by the enemy, and then their mission…  He did the right thing.  He did

He buries the lingering doubts in the very back of his mind, because he did not have time for this right now.  Where the hell was he?  This sure wasn’t the cave in Iwa that he had just been in… or really, anywhere close to there.  The air was clean and there was no sound to be heard, except for quiet snoring coming from…

What, what?  As quietly as he could, Obito turns to look for the source of the sound. 

…It was a kid, a little blonde girl – boy? – with long hair tied in a ponytail.  The kid didn’t look older than ten, but there was a hiti-ate tied around their forehead nonetheless.  Obito squints, and then freezes in shock.  That wasn’t a Konoha hiti-ate, no familiar spiral engraved into the metal.  No, of all the villages the kid could be from, it was Iwa, and Obito backs away as slowly as he could because this was an enemy, and if Kakashi was here he would be telling him to attack before the enemy could fight back, but he couldn’t.  He had already killed someone today.  He… really didn’t want to do it again, especially if the other person was so much younger than he was.

Unfortunately, he backs up right into another bed, making a slight creaking sound.  But even that was enough.  The blonde’s eyes flash open, a brilliant blue, and fixate on him almost immediately.  No matter what Kakashi likes to say, however, Obito wasn’t a bad shinobi.  Those seconds of warning was enough for Obito to snatch a kunai from his pouch and deflect the shuriken that came flying toward him.

“I’m not your enemy!”  He shouts angrily.  “Hey, if I was gonna hurt you, I wouldn’t wait till you woke up, alright?”

The blonde stares up at him suspiciously.  “Where the hell am I, un?”  And, okay, not a girl then. 

“Like I know!  I just woke up here too, okay?  Look,” he says, a bit quietly, “I know I’m from Konoha and you’re from Iwa and there’s a war going on, but… we’re both stuck here.  How about a truce until we find our way out?”

All that gets him is an odd look.  “The war’s been over for years, un,” the kid says.

“The war’s –“ Okay, screw it, it didn’t matter if the brat was behind the times.  That just made it even better.  “Yeah, uh, my mistake, haha.  But that’s just more reason for us to not fight, ya know?  Look, I’m a chunin of Konoha, and –“ He activates his Sharingan, and okay, he takes some pleasure from how the kid immediately shrinks away, obviously reconsidering the situation.  But he had earned it, alright?  “Either we can walk out of here and get back to our own teams, or we can fight right here.”

The blonde drops the kunai in his hand wordlessly, and it clatters as it hits the ground.  “Fine, un,” he mutters rebelliously.  “But if you attack me, I will explode you, un.”

Obito catches a glimpse of the chakra concentrated in his hands – oh god were those mouths? – and decides that he didn’t want to know more.  “Yeah, okay,” he says, and then turns off his Sharingan (holy crap did that feel cool.)  “Um.  I’m Obito.  What’s your name?”

The kid gives him a blank look.  “Look, I’m not gonna call you ‘blondie’ for the next few hours, or however long it takes us to get out of here,” Obito reasons.

“…Deidara, un,” he says grudgingly. 

“…Okay, Deidara, what’s the last thing you remember before you got here?”

“I blew up several enemy nin.”  Shit, he wasn’t kidding. 

Obito stares for a second.  “Uh…”  This kid gave him the creeps, especially when he said it so nonchalantly.  Not even Kakashi was that casual about killing people.  “Unless it happened near Kannabi Bridge, I don’t think we have that much in common there then…”  Other than the whole killing people thing.

“I don’t know where that is.”  Okay, so geographically challenged as well. 

“Not important,” he replies quickly.  Not because he forgot where exactly Kannabi Bridge was other than ‘Iwa Territory,’ or anything like that.  No way.  “Look, I’m older, so I’ll lead the way, okay?”

Deidara nods, and Obito really hopes it’s because of the obvious leadership the kid sees in him (and not because he wanted a meat shield.)

Obito exits the room, his Sharingan activated as he scans the surroundings for any signs of chakra.  Nothing in their close proximity, but… there were a few relatively small chakra signatures on the floor above them, as well as a huge, malevolent ball of chakra somewhere… underneath…  He makes the decision to get out of the place as soon as possible, and not head downstairs.

“This way,” he says randomly, hoping that he sounds more confident than he feels.  Obito keeps his hands free just in case he needs to fire off a fireball or something.  It doesn’t take long before the two of them reach a window to the outside. 

It takes Obito less than a minute to realize that, one, they were in a shinobi village, and two, it wasn’t anywhere near Konoha, judging by the thick rain pelting the ground outside.  He reads a distant sign in barely hidden disbelief.  Amegakure.  Amegakure?  How the hell did he get to Amegakure in less than a minute?  Not even Sensei could travel that far, that quickly, and he was the Yellow Flash!

“Shit,” he says blankly.  Distracted as he was, he only notices the heavily hidden approaching chakra signatures when Deidara whirls around with a hiss. 

Obito-nii?”  He hears, and only one person called him that, and why was Itachi-chan here too –

 “Don’t do anything, Deidara!” He calls out as quickly as he can, before squinting in shock at the newcomers.  One of them… what the hell, a blue fish guy?  But the other…  “I-Itachi-chan?  Is that you?”

“I’m Uchiha Itachi,” the boy says, but – Itachi-chan had been four the last time Obito saw him, and that had been last week.  He didn’t look much bigger, but it was obvious that he wasn’t a four year old kid, with his hiti-ate and blazing Sharingan.  “But – you can’t be Obito-nii, Obito-nii died – otou-san said so.”

“I am Obito, and I’m not dead!”  He swallows heavily because – what the hell? – and continues, “Look, Itachi-chan, if I wasn’t Obito, how would I know that your favorite food is dango from Hiro-san’s stand near the Hokage building?  Your mom made me babysit you for years!”

“But Obito-nii did die,” Itachi whispers, eyes wide.  “He died four years ago, I went to his funeral, I saw his name get engraved onto the Memorial Stone…”

The blue shark guy eyes the two of them cautiously, and steps in front of Itachi meaningfully.  “Look kid,” he whispers to Itachi, “if this guy’s bothering you –“

“Oi!”  Obito shouts, bristling.  “Itachi-chan’s my baby cousin, okay?  If it’s anyone who’s gonna protect him from weirdos, it’s gonna be me, not some – blue shark guy!”

Said blue shark guy fixates him with a look of utter disbelief.  “Are you serious –“

“It’s okay, Kisame-san,” Itachi says.  “I think… Obito-nii – if that’s really you,” he turns to face Obito again, “who’s your best friend?”

Obito opens his mouth to say something to the effect of, ‘Everyone knows that, ask something harder!’ and… stops.  It was… a good question, mostly because Obito didn’t really have any friends.  Kakashi was an asshole, the other Uchiha kids (except for Itachi) treated him like how their parents treated him, and Rin…

Nohara Rin was the girl he crushed on for as long as he could remember.  But despite all of his failed romantic overtures, she was more to him than just a pretty girl.  Over everything else, Rin was his friend – he might love her, but she was still his –

“Rin,” he says.  “Nohara Rin.”

Itachi’s eyes widen slightly – and Obito has a brief moment of panic, because what if Itachi expected some other answer like… hell, Kakashi? – but he nods slowly.  “Obito-nii,” he breathes, “then you’re… before you left on your mission to Kannabi Bridge?”

“I’m… already on my mission, actually,” he admits.  “How do you know?”

Itachi turns off his Sharingan, but doesn’t reply.  “Kisame-san, Obito-nii won’t attack us.  I think we should work together to find out how we got here.”

“I’m alright with that,” Obito says quickly.  “Uh – Deidara –“

The blonde, evidently not relishing the possible three versus one odds, answered, “Whatever, un.”

The shark guy - Kisame (seriously) - glances between the three of them.  "I'm guessin' none of us know how we got here?  Because I don't know how I got from my Academy graduation exam to here "

"A-Academy graduation exam?"  Obito blinks.  "Wait... how old are you?"

"Ten."

"Y-You -"  What the hell, the guy was taller than he was!  "I thought you were older!"

Kisame eyes him with his creepy shark eyes.  "I get that a lot."

"I am eight," Itachi adds.  "Eleven," mutters Deidara.

"How am I the oldest here?  I'm thirteen!"  Obito wails.  Why did he get kidnapped with a bunch of kids straight out of the Academy?  He was an elite shinobi now, now that he finally awakened his Sharingan... right?  

And, as if he wasn't sure the universe had it out for him already, it was at this instance that the floor behind them exploded.  Obito did not promptly scream like a girl.  "Holy shit!"  He scre- shouts loudly, jumping away from the huge hole, hand already raised in a seal.

Three figures emerge, a girl with blue hair with... giant paper wings (what the hell) holding onto a orange haired guy with both arms, who was also clinging to a really small red haired kid.  As graceful as their entrance was, they ended up crashing to the ground right in front of the hole from where they came.  

The orange haired kid springs up first.  "Run!"  He shouts, pointing directly forward.  

"Hey, who are you guys -"  Obito stammers.

"It's not important!  We just need to get out of here now, we're being chased!"  As if on cue, a single inhumanely pale hand grabs onto the edge of the hole.

"There is a wall," Itachi observes, eyes wide.  

Next to him, Deidara grins hugely.  "Not for long, un."


The villagers of Amegakure would later testify that yes, the building in which their God and his Angel resided exploded outward with seemingly no cause, showering debris onto the streets below.  Luckily, no one had been killed, though only a few civilians had been hit and mildly injured - a fact that they attributed to their God.

And if some had attested to the appearance of several screaming children from the gaping wreckage of the building, along with what looked like a younger version of their Angel - well, there had been no evidence to support something so far-fetched.  

Instead, the villagers of Amegakure awaited the presence of their God and his Angel, to give an explanation.  When none came, they returned to their daily routine, with the utmost belief that they would soon return.

 

 

Chapter Text

“Holy shit,” says Obito, as he sags against a nearby rock.  He gasps for breath for a few moments, and tries to ignore the sensation of the cold water seeping through the back of his jacket.  Oh kami, he missed Konoha so so much.  “Holy shit.  I – What – How did we – “

 

He puts a hand to the ground to push himself up, and freezes at the unmistakable feeling of cold, gloppy wet mud.  A single adventurous worm made its way slowly up his wrist.  “Oh no,” he moans.  “Okay, that’s it.  This is seriously the worst day of my life.  What the hell.”

 

“Hey, no one likes a whiner!”  The orange haired kid from earlier shouts at him.  Even as tired to the bone Obito feels, he tries to give the guy the deadliest glare he can manage.  To his utter and complete lack of surprise, it had exactly no effect.  “Hey, whining guy – your headband – you’re from Konoha, aren’t you?  You and the kid over there.”

 

“Yeah, I am!”  He shouts back angrily.  Whining guy?  Seriously?  “My name’s Uchiha Obito, and I’m a chunin of Konoha!  And that’s my baby cousin.  I don’t know who you are, but –“

 

“Well, my name’s Yahiko!  These are my friends, Konan and Nagato.  We’re from Ame!  Do you know someone called Jiraiya?  He’s our sensei, so we’re looking for him.”

 

“J-Jiraiya?”  Obito repeats, completely thrown off guard by the Ame weirdo.  “Like the Sannin?  …Well, duh!  Heck, he’s my sensei’s sensei!  Wait…”  He squints.  “…You guys are his students?  Look, no offense, but I have never heard of you in my life.”

 

“Eh, typical Jiraiya-sensei.  He probably got distracted from telling his village about us because he found a women’s bath house or something.  He’s done it before.”

 

“T-That… actually does sound like him…  Obito could still remember the one – one time, because Minato-sensei was a kind man – his team had been put under Jiraiya-sama’s care.  He couldn’t look at his teammates for a week.  Strip poker was quickly added to his list of ‘Things I will never, ever do again, ever.’  “Hey, then that means – if you’re looking for Jiraiya-sama,” he says confidently, “Minato-sensei can definitely help you with that!  Like I said, Jiraiya-sama was his sensei too.  If anyone knows where the guy is, it’s my sensei!”

 

“This sensei of yours… is he in your village?”  The blue haired girl – Konan, he thinks? – says.

 

…He actually had no idea.  Minato-sensei was still in Iwa territory, last he remembered, but so was he, so it wasn’t like his memories were particularly accurate…  But then, this was probably his best chance of making it back home in one piece from fricking Ame.  “Yeah, yeah he is.  You can’t miss him!  He’s –“  Obito suddenly remembers that there’s an Iwa kid standing right behind him and even if the kid was a bit confused, he was pretty sure that any mention of the Yellow Flash, or even blonde hair and blue eyes, was a really bad idea under the circumstances.  “He’s unmistakable,” he finishes lamely.

 

“I’m still not sure what the hell is going on,” says the blue shark guy.

 

“Yeah, good idea, blue shark guy,” says Yahiko.  “Now that there’s no freaky plant things coming after all of us, we should probably figure out what’s going on.  I don’t know any of you people, and my best friend’s like, ten years younger than he should be.  It’s freaking me out.”

 

“Freaky plant things?”  Itachi pipes up.

 

“My name is Kisame, what is with you people?” asks the blue shark guy, the same time as Obito blurts out, “Holy shit, I thought I was the only one!”

 

He exchanges a high-five with Yahiko.  Forget what he said about Ame weirdos.  This guy was the best.

 

Deidara glances at his surroundings, as if silently calculating how much of the surrounding foliage and people he could blow up without killing himself. 

 

“…Does anyone know where we were before he –“ Konan looks pointedly at Deidara.  “Deidara,” he says.  “Deidara blew it up?”

 

Everyone shakes their heads.  “It was obviously Ame,” says Yahiko.  “But the building was definitely new.  What do you think, Nagato?”

The little red haired kid freezes like a deer who had accidentally wandered in front of a Katon fireball on the training grounds.  “I-I don’t know, I don’t remember ever going into the village itself –“

“It’s alright,” the orange haired boy says quickly, and then whispers to himself,  “…It’s going to take me awhile to get used to this, huh?”

 

“Then,” she continues, “Does anyone have an idea of how we got there?  …Or how all of us are connected?  Yahiko and Nagato are my friends, but I haven’t seen any of you before.”

 

“Well,” Obito says thoughtfully, “the only person I know here is my baby cousin Itachi… but he’s older than I remember.  Why’s everyone from different villages, anyways?  I mean, you guys know Jiraiya-sama, so that makes some sense… But Deidara and blue shark guy here…”

 

“Hey, don’t look at me,” says blue shark guy defensively, and motions to Itachi beside him.  “I’m just with this kid here.  We woke up in the same room, so I’m guessin’ there’s a reason for that.”

 

“I ended up in the same room as Deidara here… Hey, do you think whoever brought us all here did it for a reason?  Like, what if we can’t get more than a mile from each other without us exploding, or something like that.”  Obito swallows.  He didn’t want to explode – but he had a feeling that hanging around that kid psycho would end with grievous bodily injury.

 

“...Please don’t test it,” says the little red haired kid – Nagato, he thinks – after a brief hesitation.

 

“Okay, yeah, I completely agree,” the Uchiha says quickly.  He wasn’t sure how he got here or why, but there was no way he was going to die here – not when his team was waiting for him.  “But, uh, that means we should all be heading toward the same place.  I vote Konoha?”

 

“The three of us do as well,” says Konan, after a moment of thought.  “We need to find Jiraiya-sensei.”

 

“…Yeah, what she said,” Yahiko adds, grin on his face.  “Besides, did he really think he could leave us behind?”

 

“I’ll go with Obito-nii,” Itachi says quietly. 

 

Blue shark guy next to him swears.  “Well, shit,” he says blandly.  “…Doesn’t look like I have a choice, do I?  Not unless I want to try getting back to my village alone… And Konoha and Kiri does have a treaty.  Fine.”

 

All eyes turn to the single Iwa blonde kid.  “All of you are fucking weirdos, un.”  Deidara scowls.  “…Fine.  Same as what he –“  He points at blue shark guy.  “- said. 

 

“Alright!”  Obito cheers, praising any and all deities he knew of.  “Konoha it is!  …But we still don’t know how we got here, and why…  I just don’t get it.  Why -”

 

“I think,” Itachi says slowly, “we have all been taken from different points of times in our lives and put into some unknown future.  The reason we’re connected is because of something in this time, not something any of us remember.”

 

“Yeah, I –“He stops, and then turns to stare.  “Wait, what?  What?

 

“It makes sense,” Konan says thoughtfully.  “The Nagato that Yahiko and I know is our age.  And your cousin mentioned that he remembered you as being much older than he remembered, correct?”

 

“Correct,” says Itachi seriously. “With that in mind… I suggest that we first investigate what kind of future we are in, by visiting a merchant village and getting access to information there.  After that –“

 

The rest of the group could only stare blankly as the two engaged in a conversation that could only be described as incomprehensible.

 

“I don’t understand what’s going on,” Yahiko whispers to Obito in a stage whisper. 

 

“…Me neither,” he admits, and sighs in disappointment, watching Konan and Itachi – an eight year old kid! – hatch out delicate plans for their whole trip back to Konoha.  And for a brief moment, he actually thought that he was the leader here.

 


 

 

“They got away.”

 

“Well.  Obviously.”

 

“We’ll go after them, right?  I’m missing Tobi already!  …I wonder how he’s doing?  It’s been so long since he looked so small and cute!  I don’t think I’ve ever seen him without his scars~”

 

“This organization is indispensable to our plans.  We will.  We must.”