There was never a time that Konoha hadn't loomed large in his life, even in Sunagakure.
News was always about what the Hokage had done, what was going on in Konoha, no matter how likely the information that filtered out was probably propaganda or censored in some respect.
There were entire departments and experts dedicated to Konoha intel.
Growing up, he hadn't quite noticed, because that was just how it was - but it took him curiously browsing the library to notice the huge stacks that were about fire, water and earth jutsu, and how so many of these examples were Konoha shinobi.
In fact, quite a few of them were invented by Konoha shinobi.
One, in particular.
A lot of the jutsu that they learned were either emulating these jutsu, or counters, particularly the use of wind and particle manipulation to obscure sight.
It wasn't a surprise, really, why.
He was perhaps twelve, when he saw his first Uchiha.
Not those Uchiha on their terrifying Monument, no.
(The tales of the Gods of Konoha were already scary enough, and of course Konoha would put them on a benighted huge bare cliff-face with all six of their faces, as if no one in the entire world didn't already know who the fuck they were, and couldn't name them off by heart by the time they could speak more than 'tou-san' and 'kaa-san'.)
It was in Suna, he had just finished school for the day, and then noticed that there was an oddly silent spot in the market.
The First Market-day of the month was always rowdy, with the tradesmen coming in from Grass, and normally would have been full of everyone trying to shove their way to see the latest goods from Lightning and Grass.
But there was this weird spot right in the front of the Marketplace and all the adults were a good three feet away from the one weird guy at the stall full of glassware.
All the kids, except for the absolute tiniest babies, were silent too, catching it from the adults around them, and Baki couldn't see the problem at first.
It took a bit before he realised that the guy standing there wasn't wasn't wearing a Suna shinobi vest - the colour was too green, almost olive, compared to the typical sandy beige.
And while the black hair was common, the pale skin - without any of the protective veils or hats! - was almost blinding in how pale he was.
Baki edged closer and realised that on the back of that flak jacket was the Uzumaki spiral, and the weird star shape on the bicep? A red and white fan.
Konoha. And not just any Konoha nin - it was an Uchiha.
Baki had ran all the way home, heart beating in his throat and not entirely sure why.
The Uchiha Clan was one of Konoha's founding Clans - see the three terrifying Uchiha on that monument - and whenever Baki's team ever encountered a Konoha team in the wild, all of them had to check whether an Uchiha was present first. Baki wasn't that great a sensor, but the crackling fire of them - nothing like the controlled oven fires, nothing like the few fire affinity shinobi Baki'd worked with in Suna - was distinctive, they had even different colours that half terrified, and half fascinated.
Because when an Uchiha used katon, they were terrifying in their grace. The sheer control in controlling flame, the temperature - the colour - there was legend that the Uchiha Clan's smithwork was the finest in all five Great Countries - and the Kazekage's family's heirloom was said to be an Uchiha-made War-fan from before the Founding.
Who'd be surprised? Their minute and precise control of temperature and scope was to be admired.
Preferably from a distance.
From a very, VERY long distance.
The devastation their best Clan Leader had ever laid to that Village whose name no longer existed was just one showy example.
No. Baki had heard a story from his sensei's colleagues - an Uchiha had laid their hand on their mark's chest and the man had died.
There had been no blood, because every vein and artery, down to the smallest capillary, around the heart, had been precisely and perfectly cauterized.
The first time he'd talked to an Uchiha in their natural habitat, he was facing off a baby-faced Uchiha girl in their arena.
"Hey, what's your Clan name?" She'd said, straightening her navy jacket, the uchiwa embroidered proudly on her shoulder and flashing in Baki's gaze, dusting silvery-white sand off her hands.
She was pretty, had thick black hair that curled a little on the ends, and large, pale brown eyes.
"I don't have one," Baki said.
"That sucks," she said. "You could come meet my family afterwards."
Baki who had one year of missions and had encountered Konoha Uchiha five times, all of which had him waking up for a week after in a cold sweat, said, "No, thanks."
"Pity," she said, "You're cute."
And then the entire space between her and him caught fire.
Bloody, crimson fire.
Because she'd seeded the entire arena with fucking. Powdered. Lithium.
When he made Chuunin at fourteen he got the first half of his tattoo, fought against a Konoha team with an Uchiha medic, and his first wet-dream.
First of all, Konoha shinobi were all incredibly pretty, somehow, probably because of their immense power.
The Uchiha were the worst, stupidly lithe, tremendously powerful, and alluringly lethal. Someone had cocked up real bad with Intel which meant that they'd ended up on the same mission competing with the Konoha team, and Baki's team leader had been a complete idiot to try to insist on continuing with the mission anyway.
Baki would spend the next week questioning his loyalties to stupid people in charge, while recovering in medical, fresh tattoos burning his face and his hip permanently ready to tell him about barometric changes.
And also dreaming of that Uchiha medic and the way his hair was constantly on ghostly blue-green fire.
His touch had been oddly cool, for an Uchiha, feeling like that burn of ice before Baki's hip had cracked under his goddamn punch.
Everyone had stories about the Uchiha.
Almost every Konoha team had at least one Uchiha - and they all kept track of them.
"I think I met your goddamn Hoshi, Hai!" Ryuusha said, sitting down heavily next to Baki.
Hai rolled his eyes and shoved his flat bread into his bowl of stew. "Why'd you think that?"
"Tiny little quick fucker?"
Hai's flat gaze told him it wasn't informative. Every other Uchiha was tiny and quick. They all were fuckers.
"She used YOUR wind-blade jutsu against ME."
"Ah," Hai said. "Sorry."
"You should be! There's a whole reason we have that obscuring jutsu in the first place-!"
"Next time I'll bring my chakra-storage scrolls." Hai said, sarcastically.
"Bastard," Ryuusha said. Everyone also knew that chakra-storage wasn't exactly cheap. "Next time kick sand in their faces."
"Sure, in the middle of Grass. That'd work great."
"Throw cow dung at them, then!"
"You throw cow dung!"
Baki huffed and continued eating, updating his mental list. Uchiha Hoshi, now a proud possessor of Wind Blade jutsu, as well as a few horrible lightning jutsu.
Suna was technically one of Konoha's allies. They had a history, going back to even before the establishment of Villages. It was probably a time of lawlessness, all the way before the Founding, centuries of different tribes in Wind allying with various clans from Fire - some of the tribal dialects actually sounded a lot more Fire than Wind, at some point.
But that shared history would probably never be able to prepare Baki for one of their combined escort missions - if only because Suna-nin had experience in the geography of their own borders. While many of the Fire clans had eventually migrated towards Konoha, lush, protected, terrifyingly forested Konoha, there were still many of Suna's tribes that spread out amongst the vast desert geography of Wind.
Even the mighty Konoha nin had to take help from them sometimes.
But just because they were allies, didn't mean that they loved Konoha.
"That Hyuuga's creepy as fuck," Hai muttered to Baki.
Baki said nothing.
"And arrogant, too," Hai continued, voice low.
To be honest, that Hyuuga was kind of arrogant, but then Baki heard that they were some sort of noble clan. It was something that Baki still had trouble understanding, because what he could tell of the Hyuuga they didn't have much fostering going on with the actual Daimyo, nor were they directly related to the Uchiha unless in the very, very distant past. Still, that was Fire politics for you, Baki didn't want to know too much.
"If they don't wish to set up patrols," Baki said, "that is their prerogative."
"Creepy eyeballs," Hai muttered.
Not, Baki thought, as terrifying as the Uchiha sharingan. The Hyuuga's eyes merely looked creepy, and in the grand scheme of everything shinobi, barely visible irises weren't that huge a deal, really.
But if the Hyuuga didn't want to take their advice on how to run patrols in this area, with the local risks? Well.
It wasn't within their job scope to baby-sit obvious greenhorns.
And then one of the non-allied tribes attacked that night.
Suna's history was … a little looser in terms of nation building than Konoha; not every tribe was perfectly happy with being Suna, as opposed to "I just live here, and this is my hunting range, fuck you." Some of those tribes had closer fosterage ties to Grass than to the Suna main tribes, and took their nomadic lifestyles very seriously, down to the raiding for goods, animals, and sometimes brides.
It had been a mess.
For all that the Hyuuga and his team were technically accomplished, and the Hyuuga's lauded wide field of vision, they were taken by surprise anyway.
Even their vaunted speed couldn't outrun wind if it attacked them from behind, and in the dark, it was hard to anticipate wild combinations of wind, sand, and explosives.
Baki's team had constantly trained in the dark since they were knee high to sandcats, and the moon-less night wasn't terrible, though Baki could hear his team curse the explosives (both from the raiders, and the idiot young konoha) ruining their night-vision.
Right until one caught that arrogant Hyuuga in the side, blasting a full quarter of his lower body away.
… That was a leg, over there.
Baki witnessed it - the explosion, the fire, the screaming.
Well so much for the vaunted Hyuuga, he remembered thinking. They still died like any other human.
Baki's team was taking care to chase the raiders away (who knew who was fostered to a tribe with ties to a tribe with that tribe? The negotiations and ties of relation was a mess no one wanted to mess with), and Baki expected the Konoha team to put the whimpering Hyuuga out of his misery.
The Medic ran to his side, and just. Started doing something incredibly nausea-inducing with a kunai.
"It's growing back wrong," he said, and Baki had no idea what that meant until.
Another explosion and he could see the Hyuuga, grabbing his medic and.
There was a lot of blood but.
That was a - a - leg. Growing. growing right in the glow of fire strong enough to melt sand into glass.
In the morning, the Hyuuga was walking with a limp, and Baki's entire team avoided the Konoha for completely different reasons.
He was leading his own permanent team when he met the end.
It had been more than a handful of years since that Uchiha girl in the arena - he'd boned up on his chemistry, and using obscuring jutsu, as well as whatever was around on hand, had long since become second nature.
There had been no point trying to figure out how on earth the Uchiha were related - they all were related to each other, all of them were perfectly able to face you with your own goddamn jutsu, because one jutsu shown to just one meant that eventually every other Konoha team would beat your ass with your own goddamn jutsu.
And all of them made a point of wearing fire somewhere on their person.
Because they were shits.
(They thought it was hilarious when most Suna nin took to carrying bags of sand with them. Once, once, Hai resorted to using flour when he was in a mill.)
(After the resultant explosion, one out of five Konoha teams started setting sand on fire, resulting in terrifying rains of molten glass. )
But this one - the end...
Was sitting on Baki.
"Hi," Shunshin no Shisui said, blinking huge eyes at him while perched on his chest from where he'd barrelled straight into Baki.
And Baki, unfortunately, hadn't detected him fast enough because Shunshin no Shisui had apparently taken his clan's vaunted speed and dialed it up to a thousand because he was Uchiha.
"We aren't on any competing missions," Baki said immediately, while the rest of his team ran the fuck away.
"Um, yeah?" the Uchiha said, blinking his stupidly pretty eyes at him, and Baki couldn't help but think of that girl from long ago, the way she'd smiled when she'd said, You're cute.
"I knew that," the Uchiha continued. "But. But! You're perfect."
"Why?" Baki said, trying to remain very still, keeping his gaze on the boy's - no, young man's - chin.
He knew what Shisui's reputation was. He'd seen his work and Shunshin no Shisui didn't need a team to clear a town - all he had to do was walk in.
"I've heard of you," Shisui said, leaning down, and this close, Baki couldn't help but note his ridiculously long eyelashes. The way they curved up, and he definitely had delicately arching cheekbones.
"You have," Baki said, and he wondered what it'd feel like to have his heart burned out from inside out.
"Yes," Shisui said, and then suddenly Baki had a mouthful of Uchiha.
He was going to die now.
It was less an affair than some sort of weird illusionary dream.
Baki had checked if it was a genjutsu many times, but if anyone was trying to get information from him, it wasn't working, unless they wanted to know how that Uchiha jutsu worked.
Which, Baki most definitely didn't know.
Because it wasn't like Shisui ever showed him the jutsu, just sometimes showed up in that inn his crow would tell Baki to come to, already female and ready to pounce.
Baki was tracing down Shisui's spine, after one time, and wondered out loud, "Where's your flame?"
"Mm?" Shisui turned, blinked cat-like at him. "Oh. That. That's too dramatic," he said, "I'm subtle."
Baki choked a little, but didn't explain when Shisui asked.
The end came when Baki showed up for their regular rendezvous and Shisui said, "I'm pregnant."
"Shit," he said, immediately wondering when Shisui was going to eviscerate him. Or his clan. They weren't going to be happy about the whole, bloodline stealing thing.
Everyone knew about how bloodline stealing was taboo as fuck.
"I'm sorry," Baki said before Shisui could try to rip out his guts - as pretty as Shisui would look doing it, he valued his internal organs inside himself.
"Huh?" Shisui said, blinking at him. "That's not bad news! Oooooh. Right. You don't know."
"Don't know what?" Baki said.
"I'm Clan Heir," Shisui said, and while Baki's brain liquified a little, because Clan heir, he'd been screwing the Uchiha Clan Heir for how many months?! "So it's Great news!"
"How is it great news?" Baki croaked. No one was going to be happy that he'd screwed a child into the Uchiha Clan Heir.
The Kazekage was going to murder him. And then Hokori-sama was going to skin him and make him into a puppet.
And that was going to be the least painful because -
"Now I can't be Clan Heir," Shisui said cheerfully. "I'll tell my Father that I want to marry you instead."
-- because the Uchiha were going to rip him apart with molten glass for defiling their clan heir.
"-- and," Shisui said, "I'm pregnant."
The silence after that was equally pregnant; that is, small, intense, and extremely precarious.
At least on Baki's side.
"How long," Shisui's father asked.
"How long have I been with Baki, or how long am I pregnant."
There was a slightly complicated expression on Shisui's father's face, and Baki would commiserate except that was the Uchiha Clan Head.
"Both. In that order."
"Eight months," Shisui said. "And seven weeks, respectively."
"And you're… pleased with that," said an older Uchiha, who was wearing his curly hair in a short braid - he was shorter than Shisui, and quite a bit older but something about his eyes told Baki that he was related to Shisui.
(And how terrifying it was, that he knew precisely Shisui's features so well, that he could guess who were his direct relatives.)
"Yes, I want to be his Wife," Shisui said, a little defiantly, and Baki was very, VERY sure he was going to die, because that older Uchiha was now LOOKING at Baki, intently. And even without his sharingan activated, Baki felt like his brain was being rifled through. Or maybe just his soul. Either. He felt Shisui's hand tighten on his.
"You want to be his Wife," the older Uchiha.
"There's never been a Wife be a Clan head before," Shisui said.
"True," Shisui's father said, and he was looking at Shisui. "What better time than to start now?"
"What," Shisui said.
"It's high time we had any inter-village unions," Shisui's father said, ignoring Shisui's wailing with an ease that said he'd had plenty of practice.
"I think so too," said another Uchiha, her smile exactly like a shark, and terrifyingly familiar, and whom Shisui's father had introduced as his Father, and Baki had only suffered a slight hint of dissonance.
(Because everyone knew how Konoha was, what with that Jutsu that Shisui had been using to get himself pregnant.)
"It would be good for Shisui," Shisui's… grandfather(?) said blithely. "A bit of a shake-up from the usual run of things. Always knew he'd be a bit of a wild-child, and he can settle down now."
"I was not a wild-child, grandfather!" Shisui yelped. "And no one's ever - ever - no one would agree to me being Clan head now!"
He sounded a little desperate. Baki patted his shoulder in consolation.
"You're not very traditional, are you, Baki-kun?" Shisui's grandfather asked, ignoring Shisui. "I know some of the Wind families still stick with these… biological normativity."
"They're a minority, Uchiha… san." Baki said stiffly, still trying to place where he'd seen her smile. "I am not one of them."
"Good, good. Because we all know Shisui isn't really going to leave the Clan."
"I would! I could! I am a Wife!"
"No Uchiha leaves," the older Uchiha who had not been introduced, but Shisui's grandfather had just reached over and curled her hand in his, so Baki had an inkling that the man might well be Shisui's grand… someone, said.
"But then I can't be Uchiha clan head!" Shisui cried desperately.
"Don't be silly, boy," said a NEW voice, a much OLDER voice, and Baki straightened a little when he felt a huge, crackling chakra fill the room, even if no one else seemed to react more. "You have a million cousins. Any of them can take the position."
"Oh," Shisui said, stymied.
"Tou-chan," Shisui's grandfather said long-sufferingly, "You're spoiling our fun."
When the white-haired old man chuckled, moved into the better lit area of the room, Baki almost felt his heart stop.
Because suddenly he remembered where he'd seen that smile.
It was the same smile on that old white-haired man's face.
And the exact same one he'd seen carved on Konoha's monument.
"I live to spoil your fun, kiddos," Uchiha Fucking Madara said, and grinned wide at Baki.
The wedding was terrifying.
Everything about being in Konoha, surrounded by every Uchiha ever, was terrifying. Every one of them came up to smile at him, shake his hand, and then linger, while Baki braced for something to catch fire.
Nothing did, but they all had this knowing smile.
The only one who didn't was this little one dressed like a priest, who only came up to Shisui and knocked him lightly on the temple and said, "I told you so, didn't I?"
"Shut up, Tachi-kun," Shisui said, but at least he didn't look like he was panicking anymore.
No, why would he be panicking? He was surrounded by his Clan, his family, and while Baki had had months of getting used to Shisui, the immunity didn't extend to the rest of his terrifying and gorgeously lethal family.
He was fairly sure he'd probably seen that girl from the Chuunin exam again, a stately woman now who had smiled knowingly at him and brushed glittery fingers across Baki's palm.
(She said she was Shisui's aunt. And then had smirked while Baki tried to fit her into his rapidly expanding mental map of Shisui's stupidly complex family tree.)
At the centre of it all, Uchiha Fucking Madara sat, white haired and smiling at the children - but every time Baki looked towards him, he had that shark's grin just for Baki.
All he'd said before the wedding, besides spoiling his daughter's fun, was, "You look like a good one."
And Baki hoped he'd never have to hear him say ANYTHING again.
The wedding ceremony - when they had to offer the sake to the head of the clan?
It wasn't to Uchiha's Father, nor to Shisui's grandfather.
Because the world's most terrifying Uchiha was still fucking alive and tapping his cane against his leg…
They offered the sake to HIM.
And because Baki's immediate family had passed away, and he was apparently marrying into the Clan…
They offered Uchiha Fucking Madara the sake twice.
"Welcome," Madara said, to Baki, accepting the first cup from him and his smile was as white as his hair. "To the Clan. You're going to treat Shisui well aren't you?"
Baki dropped the second cup of sake on his lap, his fingers had gone so frozen.
There was a very expectant silence.
I have dropped sake, Baki thought, and it was a very loud thought, on the Demon King's lap.
"Tou-chan," Shisui's grandfather said reproachfully.
"What, sweetheart?" Uchiha 'Eradicator of Villages with a blink of his eyes' Madara said.
"Stop giving the poor boy a heart-attack, Otou-sama," Shisui's other grandparent said reproachfully.
"You used to be such a disrespectful brat, Kagami-kun," Uchiha 'I razed Yamagakure down to make a point and I'm not afraid to raze yours down too' Madara said. "Where did that go?"
Kagami - oh, OH it was Uchiha 'I melt brains' Kagami! - frowned slightly. "I apologise for my rudeness of my youth, Otou-sama."
Madara opened his mouth, and Baki said, hurriedly, without thinking, "I apologise profusely, heika."
Madara stared at him.
".... I'm going to just say," Uchiha 'there are villages who don't exist thanks to me' Madara said, gaze darkening "we should skip to the shrine visit. Right now."
He stood up, barely leaning on his cane, his white hair a huge sweep of dismissal as he left, clearly and utterly offended.
Shisui's grandfather snickered.
"Oh don't look like that, Baki-kun - it's fine, heh," she said, "Kaga-nii, don't poke me, Otou-chan needs a bit of that now and then."
"Your grandfather," Baki said, very quietly, to Shisui, "calls Uchiha Madara daddy."
"Yes," Shisui said, peeking up at him from under the wataboshi. "She's always done that?"
Baki tried to say how inappropriate it WAS but, Shisui looked like he was going to shrug, so he shut his mouth and followed them all to the shrine.
The shrine visit should have taken place the next day - Baki had hoped for a day's - or at least a morning's breathing space, but because Uchiha 'I probably ate all the prior Kage for breakfast' Madara was upset Baki hadn't apologised fast enough, they were going to do the shrine visit right now.
It was a large shrine - big enough for Shisui's immediate family at once, and the - Konoha's founder was standing there looking at.
The tablet was right in front, right in the centre, and where the others were dark wood with painted gold, this was pale wood, painted red.
He'd known it was going to happen. He'd braced for it.
But it still -
The silence was hushed. Uchiha Madara inhaled, loudly. Shisui's grandfather sniffled quietly.
Uchiha Kagami took a deep, heavy breath. "Sensei…"
"They're always like this," Shisui murmured, very quietly. "When they look at the shrine."
"Why wouldn't they?" It was Uchiha Tobirama. It was the God of Storms.
Paused a little, thinking.
Uchiha Tobirama. That wasn't a common name at all; there was literally only one other instance he'd heard it as … Senju Tobirama.
"Water Country's Hadou no Kami," Baki breathed.
He'd seen the shrines there.
The God of Waves.
"Kiri is full of idiots if they think they can fucking steal him from Fire Country," Uchiha 'I burn with the passion of a thousand suns' Madara snarled.
"You mean 'they're not gonna steal kaa-chan from you, otou-chan'," Shisui's grandfather said mildly.
"Hmph," Madara said.
"They literally have plays," Baki murmured to Shisui. "I've seen them."
Plays of where the God of Waves had arrived on huge tidal waves - from whence, Baki realised that the plays had carefully not said - and taken up residence in the Capital's shrine.
Shisui shrugged. "Don't talk too loudly about those? Not where Jiji can hear anyway."
Baki just looked at him. That was Uchiha 'Demon King' Madara!
Shisui just tipped his head up and snuck a kiss to his chin, grinning while Baki's brain fizzled.
"Well," Madara said, while Baki tried to get his brain back online, "Tobirama. Look who your great-grandson brought back home."
Baki twitched a little.
"He's absolutely terrified of me," Madara said and Baki thought he could SEE the sharp edge of his smile. "It's adorable."
"Tou-chan," Shisui's grandfather said reprovingly. "Don't scare him away. I like him."
"I didn't say anything," Madara said, "It's not like I made him spill sake on me, did I?"
"He's very sorry," Uchiha 'brain melter' Kagami said. "I think… Sensei would approve."
"Yeah," Madara said, after a moment. And turned around to look at Baki. "Well. Short of a tsunami showing up, I think you're good, boy. Welcome to the family."
His smile was still terrifying, even in the soft lamplight of the family shrine.
(Those were two gods, literally, looking at Baki)
"See you in the morning," Madara said, smile sharp and terrible. "If you survive it."
this was written in one sitting on... *check notes* 6 Feb 2020. Fuck. :D
Way before the ending of aSoS was done, so if there's some timeline pokery off, well, i'm not going to edit this Masterpiece lolololol
Technically when Baki first saw his first Uchiha, this is the flak jacket he saw - he's old enough that this was the older version after all. (Baki's 30 at the beginning of the series, and Kakashi's 26/27. I typically pin Shisui as 4 years younger so he's 22 to Baki's 30, so he's merely 8 years younger than Baki. :D)
(Forget the goddamn ages of when he become genin and chuunin - i'd say Shisui is at least 16 when he meets Baki, so that means Baki's at least 24)
Random Suna Nin OCs:
Ryuusha 流砂 quicksand
Hai 灰 ash