Soulmates are found in a special way. At a certain time in a person’s life, they will switch places with their soulmate, becoming immersed in their match’s physical body and their characteristics. Everyone’s experience is different, but it gives the couple a chance to learn about and start to love each other.
But Obito’s never thought about it, because he’s sure he lost his soulmate years ago.
Obito blinks, and instead of Konan, he finds himself staring at a page of words:
Tsukiko sidles up behind Jiro, pressing her supple breasts into his back—
He pulls the book immediately away from his face. In front of him are encroaching oceans and a clear sky. Not rain. Not Ame.
Alright. Something's really fucking wrong here.
"Uh, Sensei? You okay?" asks a brash, boyish voice in front of him.
He looks down to see three children staring at him. Whiskers, pink hair, baby Uchiha—oh no, he recognizes these kids. Aren't they all Kakashi's students?
Obito then looks at the book in his hands and almost drops it when he sees the cover. Oh fuck, what, no, this can't be happening. If he’s here—switched—then Bakashi is his soulmate? He thought Rin was—this can't be possible, can it? And why are they switching now of all times?
He's screaming in his head when he realizes one of the brats is still talking to him.
"Sensei, did something happen?" It's Pink-hair. She looks worried.
Obito’s not a shinobi for nothing. "Maa, I'm fine—" He recalls when he last stalked Kakashi. Pink-hair is Sakura, he thinks. "—Sakura."
"But you're not reading," the baby Uchiha—Sasuke, adds with a suspicious squint.
"No." Obito’s not reading this garbage. He’d burn it first. But that's a bad move, because that just causes all three to stare at him in growing suspicion and alarm. Fuck.
"Because," Obito quickly amends, "I want to first hear what you all remember from our mission briefing." He needs to figure out what the hell is going on, and fast.
He and Kakashi can’t be soulmates. This all has to be a mistake.
This mission is a mistake, and Obito’s been left to clean up the mess. He has the worst soulmate ever.
Apparently, they’d just been attacked by bandits, like, five minutes ago. Obito would have liked to have known that before he opened his mouth and nearly compromised himself within two minutes of swapping with Kakashi, but thankfully Sakura and Naruto took it as a trick question. Thank kami for Kakashi’s underneath-the-underneath bullshit.
Sasuke is still looking at him funny, though. Whatever, it’s not like Obito can’t take a genin in a fight.
But still, this mission. Obito squints at Tazuna. “You realize you lied to a Hokage. That you lied to some very powerful shinobi.”
“Like I said,” Tazuna grunts, “this bridge could do more than you know for the economy and stability of our country. We could finally gain autonomy out from under the thumb of criminal syndicates. Besides,” he adds, with crocodile tears in his eyes, “what would my poor daughter and grandson do without their dear ol’ Grandpa?”
Obito can’t believe the gall of this asshole. But if Bakashi already agreed, Obito’s just going to have to run with it.
Of course, they have to run into Momochi Zabuza next. Obito is a bit familiar with him; Zabuza had tried to overthrow Yagura and failed miserably. It’s a bit of a surprise to see him skulking around Wave, and some of the gears are turning in Obito’s head as to why, but no matter. This irritant should be a piece of cake.
But then Obito nearly loses Kakashi’s head to that giant sword when he realizes he can’t use Kamui. The Sharingan doesn’t even want to whorl to Mangekyo in the first place, with Kakashi’s chakra so meager against Obito’s own.
And it’s even worse when Zabuza actually catches him in a water prison. Annoying. It’s fine, he can just command mokuton roots to punch from the ground to crush Zabuza’s arms and—
Nothing happens. Obito frowns, ignoring whatever taunts Zabuza is spewing. He tries mokuton again, willing vines, branches or anything to crash up from the ground, but no dice.
He stares out at the ground harder. Glares at it. A blade of grass wilts.
Obito feels so betrayed.
He’s kind of running out of air (stupid normal lungs) and it’s up to the baby brats to rescue him. It’s an admittedly clever plan of perspective, using shadow clones to hide their true attack. Obito refuses to be happy about it as he pushes as much chakra as he can into his gifted eye. Stupid Bakashi wouldn’t have had this happen to him , Obito just knows it.
They play copy-cat, Obito content to beat Zabuza at his own game. But Obito’s chakra is sputtering out, and he’s about ready to simply fight Zabuza with his bare fists at this point to end this shitshow, when the cow-print fucker is skewered with senbon.
What? Obito’s brow furrows. A Mist hunter nin flickers in, coming to a stop by the body. He moves to pick Zabuza up. “I will take care of this.”
That... makes no fucking sense. And Obito should know; he’s practically the shadow Mizukage. He knows how Kiri works, how hunter-nin work. They don’t take bodies off site. Obito takes one step forward to confront this fleeing imposter and instead crumples into a heap.
Oh, Obito thinks, as he blacks out. So this is chakra exhaustion? Wow, it sucks.
Obito grunts as he attempts to sit up from the futon he’s lying in, eyes squeezed shut in a sad effort to stave off the shooting pain up his limbs. He’s aching in ways only won out by the boulder, his head pounding. Chakra exhaustion is bullshit. This bodyswap is bullshit.
He tries to think. They must have made it to Tazuna’s house if he’s waking up indoors. Obito risks opening his uncovered eye and focuses, noting idly that he’s in a cheerful little bedroom, and that the kids have him surrounded.
“What,” Obito grits out.
"You're not Sensei."
The baby Uchiha pulls out a kunai, but Sakura and Naruto both holler, "You're his soulmate!"
"Uh," says Obito intelligently.
"Wow, a soulmate..." Sakura swoons. "It makes sense, your body language was off from Sensei's."
"Yeah! And you stopped reading Sensei's porn!" Naruto adds in, excited.
"So what's your name?" Sakura chirps, as the kids all stare intently at him.
Obito just stares silently back. There's no way he's telling them.
After a few awkward beats, Naruto folds his arms and glowers. "Geez, you're really gonna be like that?"
Yes, he is going to be like that. Three baby genin aren’t going to break him.
So the little shits start to deliberate as if Obito isn't there. Despite the pain, Obito can’t help but roll Kakashi’s eyes in exasperation. It probably looks stupid with only one eye visible.
"Maybe he's superstitious?" Sakura muses, tapping a finger to her chin. “Some people think that can jinx it.”
"But this Not-Sensei soulmate guy could be anybody," Naruto whines.
Sasuke narrows his eyes. "No. He tried to act like Kakashi, use his techniques. He must be familiar with him already..."
"They could be childhood friends!" Sakura gasps.
"Sensei has friends?" Naruto asks, squinting at Obito.
"Or he's a stalker." Sasuke grips the kunai he still hasn't put away.
"I'm not a stalker," Obito lies, pushing away the kunai edging towards him. "I do know your sensei, but that's not important right now. You're all still on a mission. It's better that we just pretend nothing's wrong and get through this first."
The kids all frown at him, entirely unimpressed with that excuse. Shit.
"Fine. If you actually help me to stay undercover," he grasps for a good bribe, "I'll show you what's under this mask—"
"DEAL," all three of them immediately shout.
Obito finally escapes the brats, cursing his lack of Kamui as he resorts to locking himself in the bathroom while they help out Tsunami downstairs.
Obito looks at the mirror, at Kakashi's face.
Obito's going to probably find out what's under there anyway in this farce of a bodyswap, so he might as well see what the fuss is about while he's alone.
(And he might still be desperately curious about it after all these years.)
So he takes a deep breath, hooks a finger over the lip of the mask, and pulls it down.
Obito's chest stutters. Kakashi is...
He's beautiful, and Obito can't help but stare, pour over every inch of his face. He expected the sharp teeth, but he stalls on the beauty mark. That's all Bakashi was hiding?
Obito suddenly wonders if Kakashi is pulling off his own masks. Oh, he's going to find out, isn't he? Discover everything.
He'll see how twisted and broken Obito is, inside and out. The rivers of scars and cells and modifications that hold Obito together in a mockery of a person in the aftermath of that boulder.
It's one of the few things that Obito's never regretted. Obito suffered for it, yes, it was unending agony, but for it he saved him, them. His team.
He grips his fingers in a tight fist.
Only for them to kill or be killed, to still be wrenched asunder with no recourse in this damaged dream. What even is the point of soulmates in a world so painful?
He stares back up into the mirror again, at a face not his own, just like how Kakashi will look into a mirror and see Obito instead.
And... Kakashi will know, now.
Maybe that is the point. Maybe now Kakashi will begin to understand, will see everything broken about the world, too. He'll see what Obito is trying to achieve. Maybe he'll even agree.
...But why does that now sit so heavily in the pit of Obito's chest?
Obito tries to think. What would Madara do?
But the taste of the question is bitter in his throat, burns his chest. He needs to replace it.
What would Rin do? What would Bakashi do?
“Is he okay?” Tsunami asks as she sets down the hotpot in front of them.
“Oh, he’ll be fine,” Sakura covers for Obito. “He likes to, um, brood?”
“Kind of like Sasuke-jerk,” Naruto whisper-shouts.
“Shut up, Naruto!” Sakura yells, her hands slamming the table.
Sasuke clenches the chopsticks in his fist like a weapon, glaring daggers at Obito.
“But he really is a bit like Sasuke, isn’t he?” Sakura mutters to herself, a bit too loud. Sasuke glares harder.
Obito tries not to sweat. “Zabuza is still alive,” he blurts out as a distraction, and everyone gets in a tizzy. He probably should have mentioned that earlier, anyway.
What should Obito do?
As Tazuna said, and as the sorry state of the village shows, some asshole named Gato is really running roughshod on Wave's economy. It’s one thing to hear about it, but another to see in person. Obito's not surprised; he's heard of the grifter before, but Gato and this country are incidental to his plans. Obito had left it up to Kakuzu to extort the idiot if the he had any free time.
What would Kakashi do?
Really, Obito's still stuck on the fact that Kakashi actually went along with the bridge builder's sob story to begin with. Kakashi wants to help these people, despite their deceit. Despite putting Kakashi in danger. Obito pokes at his chest to stop whatever fuzzy feeling is bubbling up about his stupid former teammate.
Anyway. Obito supposes he's here now, Zabuza and Gato are still an irritant, and Obito's not going to sit here twiddling his thumbs waiting for his legs to slowly knit back together.
(Kakashi could really benefit from mokuton, Obito thinks. And chakra in general.)
It’s not a total loss to play along. It might be fun to take over Wave. Obito looks to where the kids are making towers out of empty sake bottles. "Any of you brats ever overthrow a crime syndicate before?"
“Sounds fun,” says Inari from where he’s making a pyramid, before he remembers himself. “Can you even do it?” he sneers.
“We so can,” Naruto argues. “Will that help me become Hokage?” he asks.
“Will that help us become better shinobi?” asks Sakura, elbowing Naruto in the side.
“Will it help me kill my brother,” Sasuke asks, blunt.
“...Yeah, sure,” Obito lies. “Get ready, you three, we’re heading outside today.”
Now look at him, playing teacher in Kakashi’s stead. Hilarious. Now to give them some actual skills.
What would Bakashi do?
It’s official: Kakashi has taught them Jack and Shit.
“We’re changing that,” Obito says to himself as he looks around at the river path, at the trees, and thinks. He has an idea, but he needs an extra set of hands.
Obito snakes a hand into the pocket of the flak jacket, fumbles his fingers together on the scroll while trying not to fall over on his crutch, and prays he doesn’t get one of the mouthier ninken.
It nearly slips, but he manages one summons. It’s not Pakkun, thank everything, but Bull. But then Bull curls his lip in a sneer and Obito realizes he’s not fooling the silent dog for a single second on his identity.
“A puppy!” Naruto and Sakura both gasp and squeal. Even Sasuke looks excited, if Obito tilts his head and squints hard enough at him.
Bull ignores them instead for Obito, pulling his ears back and frowning at the crutches.
“What? ...Hey! This wasn’t my fault!” Obito claims, pointing at the offending leg.
Bull gives him some serious stink-eye. Forget Pakkun, they’re all judgmental.
“Okay, maybe it was, but it was an accident, ” Obito hisses lowly, trying to defend himself against a skeptical dog. “Kakashi’s chakra reserves are seriously shit.”
Bull huffs at that, and it almost sounds like an agreement. The dog steps forward, leaning his entire weight against Obito. The crutches creak in protest.
Bull finally lets up after a minute, and goes lumbering over to the kids. Obito blinks as he watches the kids clamor around and climb on the dog. What the hell was that about?
Naruto eventually looks up from where he’s scratching under Bull’s chin. “So what are we learning, Not-Sensei?”
“Watch.” Obito hobbles over to the riverbank, taking one step, and then another, before he’s reached the middle of the rolling water. He pivots on a crutch to see the kids gaping, stunned, and he smirks under the mask.
“Water walking,” he says, sweeping a hand out. He has to admit, teaching has its moments.
“Oh wow, cool!” Naruto hollers. “Best Not-Sensei ever!”
“Wait,” Sakura protests, “we’re learning that in just a week ?”
“Yep,” says Obito. “You do it or else.”
“But what’s the dog for?” Naruto asks, having moved on to scratching Bull’s ears.
“Hands-on teaching,” Obito says, leaning on his bent crutch. Bull shakes the kids off, grabbing Naruto by the collar as he drags the boy onto the river. Bull walks easily along top the water, dropping Naruto straight in as he reaches the center.
“Bull will show you how it’s done. Get moving, or he’ll just grab you next!” Obito calls to Sasuke and Sakura. The scramble over to the river. Satisfied, Obito hobbles off to the treeline. He saw a perfect patch of sun for a nap.
Thirty minutes later, a shadow casts over Obito’s face. He cracks his right eye open. It’s Sakura.
“I’m finished, Sensei!” she says, smiling. “Or, Not-Sensei—would it really hurt to tell us your name?”
Obito ignores the question. “Show me,” he commands, sitting up. She goes, taking one step and another before she’s standing proudly on the water, her teammates flailing along the shore ten feet away. Bull wuffs in approval.
“Now what?” she asks, jogging back over to Obito.
He never expected any of them to figure it out so fast. There goes his afternoon nap, but he considers her for a moment. That innate level of chakra control for offensive use... “How’s your taijutsu?” he asks.
What will Obito do?
The week is up, and Obito and his team are standing at the bridge site.
Zabuza swings his sword down from where it’s resting on his shoulders. “It seems it’s time for a rematch, Hatake,” he says, grinning under the bandages. “How about a fight to the death, this time?”
Obito doesn’t move. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you—you want Gato’s money for Kiri, right?”
Zabuza pauses. “What?”
“You’re hoping to overthrow the despot that currently runs the place,” Obito continues, “and this your ineffective way of gathering funds for that revolution.”
“How the hell do you know that?” Zabuza asks low, in a near growl.
“I have my ways,” Obito winks. It definitely looks stupid with only one eye visible. “You can’t think Gato’s going to keep his word, are you? I know the type.”
Zabuza opens his mouth to retort when Gato comes marching out into the clearing, the fog obscuring his army of bandits lifting. “So, you two are in cahoots, huh?” Gato sneers. “You shinobi can’t be trusted.”
Zabuza stares at Gato. “You actually think that,” he says.
“Shut up! I don’t need you!” Gato cries, pulling out a small device from his jacket. “And forget about being paid; I rigged the bridge with explosives!”
“Explosives?” Obito repeats. That isn’t good; with Kamui he could just phase around the bridge to get rid of them, but that’s not an option. They’ll have to grab the remote.
Obito doesn’t expect Sakura pop up from the bracketing sea and punch Gato square in the mouth. He goes sprawling, and the bandits gape. Naruto leaps off from her from a backpack henge and kicks the remote away, where Sasuke flies in and grabs it.
Gato, groans, and crawls away towards the forest edge of the clearing. It’s clear Gato’s men are beginning to sweat, shuffling and unsure. Obito starts to hear a clamor in the distance, and smiles. This, he expected.
“Took you long enough!” he calls out.
“Funny coming from that mouth, Not-Sensei!” Naruto’s shadow clone shouts, riding in on a wild boar, Inari sitting in front of him and the irate villagers stampeding right behind them. The fight is about to begin when—
“Whatever!” Gato hollers, mouth bloody, interrupting everyone. “I still have this!” He pulls out a remote.
“How did he get that again?” Obito groans, but no, Sasuke still has the remote in his hands.
“It’s a backup! Now you all listen to me,” Gato gloats. “Back away now, or I’ll set this off—”
A gloved hand pops out from thin air, snatching the remote right out of Gato’s hand. Gato stares at his empty hand like an idiot, but Obito stops breathing. That’s—
Just then, a group of Mist nin roll in from the water, overwhelming the remaining bandits with a tidal wave. A woman in blue steps out from them, a ribbon of lava hissing around her.
“People of Wave! We’re here to offer a renewal in trade partnership!” the woman bathed in lava calls out, as it oozes towards Gato and his men. The villagers cheer and begin their assault again.
“Mei?” Zabuza says, shocked.
“Not so great at the revolution thing, are you, Momochi?” Mei greets. “That’s ok, the important thing is you tried.”
“I could say the same about your marriage attempts—”
She kicks Zabuza hard in the stomach, and Obito turns his attention to look at the giant armored turtle cresting the shore. In the midst of the chaos, atop the turtle, Obito sees himself—Kakashi.
He runs forward, and he watches his own body phase down to meet him. Obito crashes into Kakashi, grabs at his uncovered hand and Obito’s vision shifts, staring right into Kakashi’s face. Now he's himself again, but it’s changed; nothing about it is dulled, muted. It’s like he’s surfaced from underwater himself, awaking from a long dream.
What will Obito—
Obito chokes on a sob, from everything he’s feeling. The dam’s burst. His heart seems impossibly full, so big and broken open and how did Kakashi do that to him?
And Kakashi—Kakashi's pulling down his mask and kissing Obito with everything he's got.
"The Akatsuki? You stupid idiot," Kakashi breathes against his scarred cheek when he finally breaks away. "You fucking dumbass."
Obito trembles at Kakashi's voice brushing against his skin. “Yeah,” he says, absently wondering what the hell Kakashi was up to in Obito's body, all the while ignoring the several clay explosions around them, the crashing waves brought up by the Sanbi, and a flurry of paper.
Obito looks up to see Konan giving Kakashi a thumbs up. Well then. That goes far to explain how Kakashi could overthrow the Akatsuki in under a week. But then Kakashi kisses him again, and Obito decides he’ll ask how that all happened later. Much later.
“Hey!” Naruto shouts in the middle of the melee. “That asshole never showed us what’s under Sensei’s mask!”
Sakura punches a nearby bandit unconscious, and puts a hand above her eyes to cover the glare as she peers over at her teacher and his newfound soulmate. “Wait. Is he… doesn’t he look like an Uchiha?”
“Like a what,” Sasuke says, nearly dropping his kunai.