The air in the room was completely still, seeming almost to hold its breath as Tobirama furrowed his brow in concentration. His hand was steady as he used his brush to make precise stokes on the scroll in front of him. The design had to be exact or he wouldn’t know which area had been incorrect, which area needed more work for the seal to be successful. As always, he was extremely meticulous while trying to invent new things. Tobirama was well known for his creations but few realized just how much effort went in to each new jutsu or how much trial and error lay behind every successful invention.
His latest experiment was in trying to create a new method of infiltration. The idea was to have the person activate a seal which would hold them in a prolonged henge as an animal and suppress their chakra. In such a state they would be able to slip behind enemy lines, travel unscathed through enemy territory, even walk right through a hostile encampment with no one the wiser. Who would suspect an animal? The problem he was currently having was that he couldn’t seem to lock down a specific type of animal upon activating the jutsu. He had been using himself as a test subject as he usually did and the transformation seemed to happen at random with no control over which form he would take. He’d been forced in to the body of a snake, a raccoon, a monkey, and a moose all during different testing phases.
He’d had to replace several pieces of furniture after the moose debacle.
Today he was trying something different. He had sacrificed some of the autonomy granted by the seal in an attempt to further specify the focus of the transformation. It was risky. There was a chance that he would be left with only the brain capacity of his animal form and not remember his human self. He had a backup plan in case that happened, of course. Tobirama never did anything without a backup plan. He had a timed scroll that would appear before his brother if he did not stop it which would inform Hashirama of what had happened to him and implore him to have someone figure out how to reverse the effects since each new version of the seal required a new seal for reversing it as well. Technically he really shouldn’t be attempting what he was without the ability to reverse it himself but he had been working on this for months now and the lack of progress was frustrating him, driving him to willfully ignore some of his usual safety measures.
His brush lifted away from the page as the final character for the seal was completed, leaving nary a drop of ink out of place. Tobirama set the utensil aside with excitement gathering inside him and the shadow of a grin tugging at his lips. He adored the rush of new discovery, of trying something just to see what would happen. He rubbed his hands together briefly before slowly reaching out, preparing to activate the seal. All it would take was a single touch.
His hand jerked and his body jumped when the door to his work space suddenly slammed open without warning. The scroll rolled away, knocked sideways by the twitch of his knuckles, and headed dangerously close to the edge of the desk.
“Senju!” Madara’s angry voice boomed. “You colossal idiot! What’s this I hear about your proposal to have the Uchiha act as a police force? Just when I think you can’t insult my clan any more than usual you go and do something like this!”
Tobirama reached desperately for the scroll, his heart clenching as hours of meticulous preparation threatened to go up in flames right before his eyes.
“You blundering fool!” He snapped back. “Uchiha, don’t let that fall!”
Reacting instinctively to a possible danger, Madara reached out a hand to snatch the scroll out of midair. Only as his fingers closed around the parchment did Tobirama realize what an awful idea that was. He cried out in dismay as bright light filled the room, stepping back and throwing up an arm to cover his eyes.
When the light faded he lowered his arm and blinked the spots out of his vision, looking around less than hopefully. There was no sign of his intruder in the room.
“Madara?” he called out. Perhaps the man had simply fallen down? A worrying amount of silence greeted him. “Madara answer me, damn it.”
Just then a rustling sound accompanied by a light skittering noise came from the other side of the desk. With dread building in his gut Tobirama slowly stepped around and peered at the spot where his work had fallen. Then he swallowed hard and wished very much that he had never gotten out of bed that day. Surely what he was seeing could not be real.
“Madara?” he asked plaintively. The tiny dog on the floor turn to him and yipped, lolling its tongue out to pant and then turning a cheerful circle. It yipped again.
The scroll lay on the floor, its seal smoking slightly after having been activated and the characters gone now that their purpose had been served. Next to it stood the small black dog that was, supposedly, Madara. He looked to be a Pomeranian, a particularly fluffy one, and his fur perfectly matched the color of his long wild hair. There wasn’t a single patch on him in another shade. The dog yipped again as he dashed forward to run once around Tobirama’s feet before stopping in front of him and rising up to rest his front paws on Tobirama’s knees, panting in a happy manner while his tail wagged messily back and forth.
Tobirama reluctantly leaned down and caught the dog underneath the front legs, lifting it up and frowning at it.
“Madara, can you understand me?” he asked. “Do you know who I am?” He had little hope of a positive answer but he needed to be absolutely sure. He spluttered indignantly when the dog leaned forward and licked a stripe up the middle of his face. “Hey!” His arms extended and he held Madara out as far from him as possible. The dog wriggled and barked a few more times, clearly thrilled and wanting to play, not an ounce of remorse for spreading saliva all up his face.
A sigh escaped him as he realized that Madara had been left with the mind of a dog and would have no ability to help himself out of this situation. It would fall to Tobirama to fix his own worst case scenario. And on top of that he was being forced to fix it for someone he would really rather just leave this way. He gave himself a quick moment to enjoy the fantasy of letting Madara stay trapped liked this. His own life would certainly be a lot quieter, if nothing else, and it wasn’t like the idiot would even know. The thought of the chaos this would cause both with his brother and the entire Uchiha clan, however, was enough to convince him he would need to restore Madara to his original state. It was just such a bother though. Clearly this was the fate Madara deserved.
When his door opened a second time Tobirama couldn’t help but to automatically roll his eyes in exasperation. Did no one understand the concept of a private work shop? He was certain he had asked his brother to leave him be for at least a few more hours without interruption.
“Brother! Have you seen Madara? He stomped off in the middle of our conversa- PUPPY!” Hashirama’s steps faltered just before his face lit up with joy and he hurried across the room to pet the Pomeranian being held in the air. “Did you get a puppy Tobirama?”
Looking at the creature he was holding, the younger Senju brother frantically searched his mind for a believable excuse. He couldn’t keep this dog forever – it was Madara – so he couldn’t say it was his. But that very small voice in his head that he was pretty sure used to be his conscience asked him if he would want people knowing he was stuck in a state like this and his teeth reluctantly ground down on the truth. He wanted to sigh but resisted. He was going to have to be a decent human being right now and he kind of hated Madara a little more for that.
“He isn’t mine,” he said while Hashirama cooed over the tiny black ears he was rubbing. “He belongs to a couple down the street. They’re both away on missions and I said I would watch him.” As he had hoped, his brother was too distracted with having his fingers licked to point out how unusual such acts of altruism were for him.
“He’s so adorable! What’s his name?”
Tobirama felt the corners of his mouth turn up. He didn’t have to be completely nice.
“His name is Fluffers,” he replied smugly. In his hands, ‘Fluffers’ was wriggling in ecstasy over receiving so much attention.
He let Hashirama pet and play for a little while longer before putting the dog down. Madara immediately took off to do excited circuits of the room, sniffing absolutely everything he could and practically vibrating with happiness. It was strange to watch. Madara was usually much more dignified than this and he was surely going to enjoy the memory of this once the older man returned to human form.
After easily lying to tell his brother that he hadn’t seen Madara and chatting about the latest stupidity from the council of elders, Tobirama shooed the older man out of his work shop. He had meant to be alone and experiment further today. After sparing a thought to deactivate the timed scroll that would have alerted Hashirama in case something went wrong with himself, he delved in to his notes about the seal he had just created. He would need to create a reversal jutsu now which created the exact opposite effects of what had happened. Which meant he needed to memorize the characters he had used and the precise order and patterns they had been laid in.
He had immersed himself in his fūinjutsu notes for a solid hour before he was brought back to reality by high pitched barking. He looked over with a frown to see what the ruckus was. Madara was bouncing up and down near the door, yipping and scratching at the wood in a bid to escape. Tobirama’s scowl deepened.
“What do you want Fluffers?” he asked flatly. Madara turned to bark at him and make pleading puppy eyes. Tobirama refused to see it as cute despite visual evidence. “What? Oh. You probably need to urinate don’t you.” Feeling very much like the universe was against him today he rose and lifted the dog in to his arms. With a single hand sign the both of them disappeared, reappearing in the backyard of his own home. His work would have to wait for tomorrow if he was only going to be continuously interrupted.
Madara’s paws swiped at the air until he was let down. Then he took off running for a random patch of grass to relieve himself. After that he flitted from here to there in the fenced garden, almost going in to paroxysms of joy with each new smell he discovered. Tobirama watched in morbid fascination and told himself it was for no other reason than to add to his notes about this experience. In no way was he entertained by seeing a small fluffy version of his biggest foil running about his garden as an actual happy puppy. It took ten minutes for Tobirama to admit that he didn’t have the heart to disturb Madara’s play and fetch a notebook to scribble more thoughts in while he sat on his back porch.
Madara ate his dinner from an old bowl with an ugly pattern that Tobirama had never liked anyway. The set had been a gift from Hashirama that he’d never had an excuse to throw out and he happily relegated two of them to the fate of dog dishes. He himself enjoyed a late meal before folding a few blankets in the hallway as a temporary dog bed and turning in himself.
He had only just closed his eyes when he heard light panting and felt the bed dip ever so slightly near his feet.
“Oh no you don’t,” he growled, sitting up and squinting in to the darkness. By the moonlight he could just make out the shape of a dog standing on top of his comforter. He threw the covers off and stood up, walking around to lift Madara back to the floor and shoo him towards the hallway. Once the creature had settled on to his own nest Tobirama returned to bed.
He was only moments away from sleep when the bed dipped again. Growling low in his throat he kicked out with his foot, grinning viciously when he connected with something and heard a yelp. Then his grin faded back in to a scowl when Madara only scurried farther up the bed, sniffing around his hip. Tobirama sat up and shoved the dog away – three times. ‘Fluffers’ didn’t seem to want to take no for an answer. After a five minute struggle Tobirama flopped down and rolled over, burying his face in the pillow and pulling his blankets up over his head.
“How are you even more annoying as a dog?” He grumbled. “You can’t even talk. This isn’t fair.”
Madara made no reply, only turned a few circles before settling down right up against Tobirama’s side. His tiny head stayed upright to bark a few times, presumably as a good night, then he laid down and closed his eyes for sleep. Tobirama sighed and tried to sink further down in to the pillows. He had a little too much pride to fight with a dog so he resigned himself to having a fluffy addition to his bed for the night.
“I’m never letting you live this down, I hope you know,” he said sleepily, fighting a yawn. “I should take pictures and blackmail you with them. I wonder what you would be willing to do to keep this from public knowledge, hm Madara? Or should I call you Dara-chan?” He didn’t really realize he was still murmuring to himself as sleep wrapped its dark fingers around him. “Y’know, ‘cause you’re such a cute dog.”
He fell down in to dreams then, blissfully unaware of the fact that he was about to have the most restful night of sleep he’d had in months, the small warm body at his side providing a comfort he would never have thought to look for.
Chapter 2: Whatever They Say About Old Dogs And New Tricks
Chapter by raendown
Art by my darling @thetoxicstrawberry. Show love!
Being woken from the middle of a nice dream was always bad enough. Tobirama’s morning was further worsened by the wet tongue enthusiastically lapping in to his ear, dragging him away from a fictional world in which he was cheerfully dumping water over the heads of the entire Council of Advisors. When he regained enough consciousness to realize what was happening he shot up out of his warm blankets with an indignant roar, swinging out a hand on reflex and knocking Madara’s tiny body clear off the bed. He heard a yelp and a light thump but ignored both in favor of scrubbing the moisture from the side of his head, face scrunched in disgust.
“Just because you’ve been turned in to an animal does not mean you need to act like one!” he growled, distantly aware of how ridiculous he was being yet not caring at all.
He threw off the blankets and stormed from the room without bothering to change out of his sleep pants, Madara trotting behind him with his head hanging low and his tail between his legs. Tobirama banged about the kitchen shirtless, grumpy and disoriented from being woken in such a manner. He refused to look at the dog skittering around after his every step until he had consumed the entirety of his first cup of strong coffee. He knew exactly what he would see when he did and hoped that giving himself time to prepare would help soften the blow.
It didn’t. When he finally did look down two glistening, pleading dark eyes were staring back up at him, ears dropping with sadness above them. The pure canine sadness in those eyes packed a punch he wished they didn’t, tearing at his heartstrings and digging up feelings of guilt. Tobirama held on to his frown with every scrap of willpower he had in his body. It still wasn’t enough.
“For god’s sake…” He slowly knelt down and reached out a hand for the dog to sniff. “Would you stop looking at me like that, Dara-chan?” It was hard to picture the man he knew was trapped inside that body when the tiny thing before him looked so disgustingly adorable.
The pup came closer and sniffed his fingers before gently prodding him for pets. With a reluctant sigh he gave in, rubbing Madara between the ears and stroking down his back until his small frame was once again wriggling happily. Then he snorted and scratched under the fluffy chin just because he could. Madara yipped and flailed about until he found Tobirama’s fingers again to lick them.
After both of them had had their breakfast Tobirama dressed, tucked Madara under his arm, and stepped out of the house by the back door. He crossed the yard and passed through the gate at the other side, walking a well-worn path into the woods behind his home until he came to the building his brother had kindly build for him to conduct his experiments at a safe distance from others. Apparently other people found it off-putting to hear small explosions coming from inside his home at infrequent intervals. He was just as happy to have his private space however because he found it off-putting to be interrupted repeatedly by nosy neighbors.
Not that his self-imposed seclusion had ever stopped Hashirama or Touka from barging in whenever they felt like it. If he didn’t love his family as strongly as he did he would regret them twice as much.
Once the door was shut to close them off from the outside world and all its stupidities Tobirama sat down at his main work station, still spread out with the papers from yesterday, and sank down in to his notes. Fūinjutsu had always held a special appeal to him because of the intricacies involved. It held his attention much better than other, simpler things. It was, however, easy to become frustrated with the near limitless possibilities when facing the question of what had gone wrong. In trying to figure out how to reverse the effects on Madara he needed to consider each individual kanji he had laid in the seal, what order he had laid them in, and what their positions relevant to each other were. That wasn’t even going in to which base design he had used and the interactions between the base design and the kanji. Fūinjutsu was incredible fun when his questions were academic curiosity. It became less fun and more work when he needed answers to solve an immediate problem.
While he pored over notes and filled several pages with new ones, Madara spent the first few hours of the day sniffing around again and having a nap in one corner of the room. Tobirama was barely aware of the passage of time until the dog under his care began to scratch at the door and whimper.
“If there is one thing I am thankful for,” he said while letting Madara out to relieve himself, “it is that you remained housebroken. If you piddle on my floor I may have to sell you to the Inuzuka clan.” Happily ignorant of his threat, Madara finished his business and began chasing the butterflies flittering above a nearby patch of flowers. It wasn’t something one could easily picture Uchiha Madara doing and Tobirama was unaware of the smile that softened his face as he watched.
“Come back inside. I can’t have you out here on your own,” he called eventually. Madara turned to look at him with perked ears and gave a slight whine. “If I don’t work then you don’t get returned to human form.” He wasn’t particularly against that, to be fair, but he didn’t really want to listen to Hashirama crying forever about the loss of his best friend. So he herded Madara back inside and returned to his work desk. He spent the next hour being continuously distracted by paws tapping at his ankles and a bored puppy constantly asking for attention. There wasn’t really anything for him to do in here.
At first he tried to combat this and buy himself time by balling up a blank piece of paper and tossing it across the room. Perhaps Madara would like a toy to play with. This immediately came back to bite him in the ass when Madara brought the balled up paper back and stared up at him with a furiously wagging tail, floofy fur trailing wildly in both directions. His next mistake was to take the item and toss it again. Only when it was brought back to him a second time did he realize that he had willingly engaged in a game of fetch – worse, he had instigated the game himself. He tried his best to ignore the hopeful barking at his feet when it came back again, staring hard at the notes in front of him. It was for Madara’s own good after all; he could stand a little misery for now.
Tobirama was still a little shell-shocked forty minutes later to find himself sitting on the floor, back against his work station, waiting for Madara to bring back the little paper ball. He wasn’t really positive what had inspired him to cave and start playing with the dog, pretending to wrestle the ball from his playfully growling mouth. Only in the deepest recesses of his mind would he deign to admit that he was having fun and feeling more carefree than he had in years. He couldn’t remember the last time he had stopped to do something simply to entertain himself, something that had no added side benefit for the village or his clan or his brother. Playing fetch with a little puppy served no purpose other than to elicit happy little barks every time he tossed the ball again. Not to mention what a cute picture he made when he pounced on his crumpled ball. It was obviously meant to emulate a vicious attack. It looked anything but vicious.
“Good boy Dara-chan,” he said upon having the now thoroughly chewed toy dropped in his lap for the thirtieth time. Madara bounced in to his lap after it and nuzzled his hand, asking to be pet. “I wonder if I could teach you any tricks. It would be most satisfying to watch you roll over for me on command.” Madara didn’t answer, too busy with cuddling his stomach.
They continued to play until both of their stomachs were growling. Neither of them had eaten anything since morning and it was getting close to dinner time so Tobirama cast a guilty look at his work before leading them both outside and back to his house. He hadn’t gotten nearly as much done as he should have but that would have to do for the day. Madara danced around his feet while he prepared his evening meal and begged with large wet eyes while he ate it. His little dance continued until Tobirama finally knelt down on the kitchen floor with a small bowl of chicken cutlets in to one hand.
“Alright, let’s see if I can’t teach you to do something fun.” The light of humor flashed in his eyes, returning to his thought from earlier. “Like roll over. I think I’ll teach you how to roll over.” Madara tilted his head and yipped, very interested in the bowl he was holding. Tobirama smirked widely. “You’ll have to earn this, I’m afraid.”
Madara didn’t seem to get what he wanted at first. He tried to go for the food right away whenever Tobirama held up a piece of chicken. It took a few tries before the fluffy dog understood that he was supposed to do something to unlock his treat. Tobirama spent a few minutes physically rolling his tiny body and giving him a bite after each rotation before finally it seemed to click. Whenever a piece of chicken was held in the air Madara would yip, then flop on the floor and flutter his legs until he managed to get them up in the air. Then they would drop down the other side of him and he would leap up to get his reward. It was, without question, the most hilarious thing Tobirama had ever seen.
Eventually though he ran out of food and he didn’t want to have to clean up after a dog he’d made sick with overfeeding. So instead he retired to the living room and settled on his couch with a novel he had been reading on and off. Since he usually got so lost in his research that he quite often forgot to sleep, he didn’t normally take a lot of time to simply sit and enjoy himself. It seemed having another body around was having an effect on his usual habits. He’d slept wonderfully last night and now here he was taking time to himself today. If he grew anymore carefree he might mistake himself for his own brother.
Tobirama’s attention was pulled away from the book when Madara hopped up next to him and attempted to crawl in to his lap. He looked down at the lump of fur on top of him and scowled halfheartedly.
“You…should not be allowed to look adorable,” he grumbled. He gave some thought to removing the idiot but he was warm and it was comforting. Not that he would ever admit that. In the end he sighed and left Madara where he was. It wasn’t as though he was likely to remember any of this. The two of them passed the rest of the evening curled together in silence until it was time for bed.
Tobirama made sure to deposit his charge on the folded up blankets he had meant to be used as a dog bed and pointed a stern finger at Madara with a warning to just stay there. Then he got ready for bed himself and slid between the covers. When he rolled over, however, he got a wet tongue in the face and a bark to greet him. He growled low in his throat and stomped as he carried Madara back to the folded blankets. Once released Madara shot past him and was back on top of his bed before he’d made it there himself. Tobirama wished he weren’t so paranoid about sleeping with the door closed, all escape routes closed off. If he could just lock the mutt out of the room this fight wouldn’t have to happen.
It took ten minutes, three times carrying Madara out of the room, and two times shoving him over the side before Tobirama simply gave up. He resolved instead to tease the absolute shit out of this man once he was human again because evidently he was a closet cuddle-monster. As soon as he settled down to lie still, on his back with his arms spread wide in defeat, Madara trotted up and climbed on to his stomach, turning a few times before curling up and tucking his head in. Tobirama sighed, lifting the tiny body on his abdomen, and closed his eyes.
His last thought before drifting off was a plaintive, yet strangely soft, “Why me?”
Chapter 3: Hair Of The Dog
Chapter by raendown
Some of my favorite art in this chapter. I promise it's amazing!
The next couple of days were rather tranquil and followed a similar pattern to the ones before. Tobirama attempted to devote as much attention to his work as he normally did – he really did try. It was hard, though, when he was constantly accompanied by a fluffy puppy who would much rather entice him in to games of fetch and rolling in the grass outside. He considered leaving Madara inside the house so he could concentrate but had discarded the idea almost as soon as it occurred to him. A dog left alone in his meticulously clean home for hours at a time? The very thought of what he might return to made him shudder.
Today, however, Tobirama realized he could no longer stay cooped up just the two of them. He hadn’t been to his office in the administration building in almost a week and, while he didn’t have an official village position that he would be missed from, he was certain that the paperwork he usually did which Hashirama forgot about would have piled up to the point of being nearly unbearable. So it was that Tobirama left his house after breakfast with a tiny little dog tucked up under one arm and made his way towards the Hokage Tower. He attracted many a strange look but thankfully no one asked him any questions. He was well aware of how intimidating his scowl was and it did wonders for keeping curious villagers at bay. No one wanted to cross a supposedly angry Tobirama. Not even if he happened to be carrying a fluffy animal.
Madara squirmed in his arms as they travelled, his head whipping this way and that as he tried to look at everything they passed, smell every person they walked by. Tobirama hefted him up closer to himself and patted his head absently.
“Easy Dara-chan. You can run about the office when we get there.” Surprisingly this seemed to pacify him and he settled down, simply wagging his tail and letting his tongue flop out in a silly doggy grin.
When they reached the Hokage Tower Tobirama stayed as out of sight as he could. He still felt many eyes on him as he made his way to the top floor and slipped in to the office, closing the door behind himself and letting Madara leap to the ground. The pile of reports and folders on his desk was even bigger than he had feared, he noted with a groan. While his companion explored he sat down and began to sort out which things were most urgent. Might as well get the most important documents out of the way first.
Surprisingly he was able to get a good amount of work done. Madara climbed in to his lap at some point and curled up for a short nap. Tobirama was concentrating much too hard to pay attention and barely noticed either the weight on his legs or the way his free hand reached down to stroke the soft black fur there. He worked his way through some forms that should have been taken care of by Hashirama several days ago before going over a few proposals that had been submitted concerning the Academy which was being built. He looked over those with a particularly sharp eye. He wanted each child in the village to have an equal opportunity to enter and learn at the academy, to receive equal treatment whether they came from a powerful clan or a civilian family.
Only after he had gone through almost a third of his work did the creature in his lap finally stir, lifting his head to gaze up at him with a curiously tilted head. Tobirama failed to notice until Madara was standing on his back paws and stretching up towards him. He only just managed to dodge the incoming tongue.
“Hey!” He dodged again. “No! No licking! Stop it!” Madara barked and wagged his tail, his feet dancing a little bit. Tobirama smiled despite himself. “Don’t look so happy. You’re going to have quite enough of this to deal with yourself when you get back to normal. See that desk over there? That’s your mountain of paperwork. And I shall enjoy watching you flounder through it as you usually do. Useless Uchiha.” The sting of his words was missing its usual sharp edge and it was further dulled by the way he couldn’t resist ruffling those fluffy ears.
Now that Madara was awake he started up a one-sided conversation with him, reading his work out loud and voicing his thoughts on each one as if bouncing ideas off a silent audience. Madara peeked his head up and snuffled at the papers, sometimes licking at Tobirama’s wrists or turning around to chew on the edges of his shirt. Finally he had to stop working and admit that what he truly wanted to do wasn’t read through these papers. He just wanted to play with his dog. He’d always wanted a pet, although he’d always thought he would have been more of a cat person. The reports lay forgotten for a bit as he played and petted, dragging his hand against the natural fall of Madara’s fur to make it all stand on end so he looked like a large black cotton ball. Then he squished Madara’s face between his hands.
“Ha! And you can’t do a damn thing about it! How do you like that, Dara-chan?” He chuckled as Madara wriggled and barked, looking anything but displeased. “I suppose you do like that. Are you a good boy, Dara-chan? Who’s a good boy? Is it you? Is it?”
The door to the office made a click and a squeal as someone turned the handle and stepped inside. He froze in place, looking up with wide horrified eyes as Hashirama stood in the doorway and stared back at him with an equal amount of shock. The two brothers regarded each other in silence for a full minute with Madara staying suspiciously still but for his wagging tail.
“Brother…did you just…” Hashirama began in a quiet, stunned voice. Tobirama braced himself. How much had he heard? Had he figured out who this animal really was? “Were you just speaking to Fluffers in baby-talk?”
His sigh of relief was choked off by the raging blush that shot up in to his cheeks.
“I absolutely was not!” he vehemently denied. Hashirama was practically glowing with silent laughter.
“You were! That’s so adorable brother! Oh but who could resist you, right Fluffers? You’re so cute!” Hashirama let the door swing shut and came over to pet Madara. Tobirama’s hands fell away from the dog’s face as if he’d been scalded and he huffed while pretending to return to his work, using one hand to scribble on some forms as the other balanced Madara so he wouldn’t fall off due to Hashirama’s overzealous petting. Really, there was no need for his sibling to make such a fuss over the little idiot.
He waited for the heat to slowly recede from his face before asking, “Did you have a reason for coming in here? I thought you had a meeting with the Hyuga.” He stood from his desk, pushing the chair back with his legs and cradling Madara in his arms. The dog simply curled up and let himself be held.
“Ah, I thought I heard you speaking to someone-” Hashirama winked ostentatiously at him “-when I passed by and thought I’d come see if you were in here. I got you something. Well, actually, I got something for Fluffers!” He reached inside his official robes to rummage through the pockets of his outfit underneath. His tongue poked out the side of his mouth and his eyes looked up at the ceiling in concentration until his whole face lit up with delight and he exclaimed “Ah-ha!” When he managed to extract his hand he was holding a small piece of rubber shaped liked a chicken drumstick. Tobirama raised one eyebrow.
“I fear to ask but what on earth is that?”
“It’s a squeaky toy!” Hashirama said, waving it about. Tobirama sighed.
“Brother, perhaps you forgot the part when I mentioned that this is not my dog. I will not be keeping him.” He waited for a show of pouting but Hashirama only scoffed and held out the toy insistently.
“It was too cute to resist!”
With another sigh Tobirama nodded for his brother to set the toy on the desk. For some reason he felt like pouting himself. He managed to swallow the strange urge, however, and tried to talk his brother into leaving. He’d realized he wouldn’t be getting any more work done until Madara had at least been entertained for a while. He wanted to go home and allow him to run around in the backyard for a bit before attempting to put some effort in to finding a solution for this whole situation.
“Aww do you really have to go?” Hashirama whined when asked to go. “I was hoping to play a little longer.”
“I suppose you could come by tomorrow; maybe keep him occupied for a while so that I can work undisturbed,” Tobirama offered reluctantly. For some reason he didn’t want to share his little Dara-chan. His brain did its best not to examine why – or even think about it at all really. Hashirama looked delighted at the prospect. He had probably just mentally cleared his entire schedule for the next day to make room for pet-sitting.
“I would love to! He’s such a cute puppy!” His brother gave the dog in question one last little wave as a goodbye. Tobirama eyed the mutt in his arms, feeling mischievous.
“Of course he is,” he said with a straight face. “He’s from a champion bloodline. I remind him of this every time he shits on my floor.”
With that he snatched up the gifted toy and swept from the room. Let Hashirama worry about having to take care of a barely housebroken animal. Madara hadn’t had a single accident yet but he didn’t need to know that. Tobirama snickered quietly to himself as he made his way down through the Tower halls, this time not even noticing the eyes that followed him.
After letting Madara play in the backyard while he himself ate lunch, Tobirama sat down and devoted the rest of his day to a first attempt at creating a reversal seal. It had several flaws and he knew that even as he created the template but it was important to have a starting point to work with. By the time he had finished and left himself enough notes to be able to start fiddling around with it tomorrow the sun had already sunk below the horizon and his stomach had been trying to remind him to eat for several hours. He was surprised Madara hadn’t been scratching at the door, asking to be fed.
Tobirama carried the little fluff ball back home, waiting for him to relieve himself in the back yard before leading him in to the house and heading straight for the kitchen. As a reward for being so patient he slipped his puppy little bits of dinner as it was cooking, laughing at how ridiculous he looked up on two paws and dancing for a treat.
After he had eaten his own meal he sat down with Madara’s dish and played trainer as he had been every night. Madara was good at rolling over on command now and he had begun working on teaching him to shake hands. It was slower going because Madara seemed to want to leap up and try to cuddle him every time he offered his hand. It was not made any easier by his reluctance to scold the idiot nor by how quickly he usually gave in and simply let him cuddle. Cuddling was more fun than learning tricks anyway.
Tonight he justified giving in by finally allowing Madara to play with the little toy chicken leg that Hashirama had bought for him. It garnered quite a bit of suspicion at first and got sniffed end to end three times before Madara attempted to play with it. He started off by cautiously batting at it with one paw. When nothing awful happened he batted it harder. The muted clunking noise it made when rolling over appeared to please him and he spent some time nudging it over and over with his nose, rolling it in a circle around his caretaker. Tobirama smiled indulgently and watched without saying anything. He snorted in amusement when Madara stopped to bark at it and then looked at him almost as if asking for approval. He wasn’t expecting for anything to go wrong but he had forgotten what Hashirama had called it.
A squeaky toy.
Madara’s teeth clamped down around the rubber drumstick with a vicious joy which immediately became fright when it let out a high pitched wail. Tobirama would have laughed to see him leap a full foot in the air and start yapping in fear if it weren’t for the small puddle that was suddenly spreading out from between his tiny little legs and the acrid scent that rose in the air.
“Madara what the fuck!?” He shouted. Madara froze and looked up at him with wide eyes. “Did you actually just-? I was joking earlier, I didn’t mean to encourage you to actually have an accident in the house! Bad dog!”
Mumbling darkly to himself, Tobirama rose from the floor to fetch something to clean the mess with. He soaked the urine up and threw out the towel, then he sprayed cleaner on the wooden floorboards and scrubbed it back off with a sponge. All the while his face stayed pinched and dark like thunderclouds as he continued to snark under his breath. Only when he had finished cleaning, put everything away, and washed his hands did he think to notice that Madara had completely disappeared. He stopped and looked around until he spotted a fluffy shadow under the couch. Still scowling he dropped down to peer underneath.
Guilt immediately clenched his chest as he saw Madara cowering in the darkness, whimpering and scampering away from him a bit more. All feelings of anger drained out of him at the sight. He’d scared the poor thing! He forgot sometimes that little to none of Madara’s usual intelligence was left in this beast. Other times he forgot entirely that this was anything but a simple dog. At the moment he was thinking only of how that small body shook with fright.
“Dara-chan?” he called softly. “I’m sorry Dara-chan. I shouldn’t have gotten so angry. You didn’t do it on purpose. Come on, come out now.”
He reached a hand out and let Madara sniff his fingers, stretching to be able to rub at his fur a little. Bit by bit he coaxed the dog out from below the couch and in to his arms, calming his shaking with gentle touches and quiet words. Madara looked up at him with shining wet eyes and Tobirama felt a part of him melting.
“Stop looking at me like that,” he said. “That’s hardly fair. Haven’t I told you to stop being cute? I already said I was sorry, didn’t I?” He got to his feet and simply stood there for a while, rocking the animal back and forth until the pout went out of his eyes and he seemed to finally forgive Tobirama his indiscretion. The Senju very deliberately did not give voice to just how relieved he was. Seeking forgiveness from an animal? Apparently he was going soft.
To distract himself he decided it was about time he headed to bed. Madara seemed in a good mood again when Tobirama let him down to the floor to go change and brush his teeth. By the time he got back to his bedroom the little puffball was already making a nest out of his second pillow. He rolled his eyes but, for the first time, didn’t even try to put up a fight. He never won anyway. What was the point?
“You’re not really a bad dog are you, Dara-chan?” he muttered as Madara changed places to curl up by his hip. He got a single muffled bark as a reply, sending him in to dreamland with a smile.
Chapter 4: With A Tail Between His Legs
Berry's wonderful art now added!
Leaving his little Dara-chan alone with Hashirama for the day was strangely difficult. His brother had burst in to his home that morning in a whirlwind of smiles and loud noises, sending Madara leaping off the bed to go bark at him in greeting. Tobirama sat up with a groan, blankets sloughing off his form to reveal hair that stood on end and eyes that squinted at the lack of light in his room.
“Hashirama!” he shouted through the house, voice hoarse with sleep. “It’s barely dawn you imbecile!”
He heard unrepentant giggling coming from his living room. Paired with the excited snuffling it made it obvious that he was being ignored at the moment. With a huff he rolled out of bed and shuffled down the hall to the kitchen. He noticed that Hashirama had at least set the coffeepot brewing on his way by as an apology. His brother and Madara continued to play until he rattled the dog bowl against the kitchen floor and sat down at the table to eat his own breakfast. Immediately after there came the skittering of tiny paws and a dark ball of fluff came flying around the corner, skidding on the floor and crashing against the cupboards before rushing over to his food dish. Tobirama didn’t bother to check and see if he was alright; it was hardly the first time he’d done that. Right behind came Hashirama with a smile much too bright for the early hour.
“Good morning brother!” He chirped. Tobirama scowled in to his coffee.
“It is not a good morning. It hasn’t even reached morning yet! And when it does you will have ruined it.” He continued to pout until a large hand landed on his head and began smoothing down his hair. He gave some thought to fighting it but his brother knew his weaknesses well. He’d always enjoyed having his hair played with, though he was loathe to admit it out loud. So instead of ruining his rare treat he simply hummed and kept eating.
The squawk his sibling made when he spotted the bowl Madara was eating out of only helped to improve his mood. Tobirama smirked and didn’t bother to duck his head to hide it, feeling no shame. Served the older man right for buying him such ugly dishes. Of course he’d used them as dog bowls.
After breakfast he dressed and sat Hashirama down to go over a few instructions, things like remembering to let the dog out to pee, not to let him chew on the furniture, not to feed him too many treats. The older man pouted at that last one but he firmly put his foot down about it.
“You’ll overfeed him and his dinner might make him sick. If he throws up in the middle of the night, don’t think I won’t march over to your house to wake you and make you clean it up!” He waited until his brother nodded before continuing, keeping up a running commentary of instructions until he noticed the way large brown eyes were being rolled at him. Then he glared.
“Brother, we’ll be fine!” Hashirama insisted. “Go! Go work on whatever it is you needed time to do!”
Tobirama did leave but only after bending down to pet Madara a final time and whisper soft reassurances that he would be back soon. Then he glared meaningfully at his brother once more and left. His arms felt strangely empty as he made his way through the backyard and when he sat down at his workspace he was surprised not to have something running about in his peripheral vision. The lack of distraction was oddly…distracting. Only for the first while though, up to the point when he set his worries aside with the assurance that he would see his little Dara-chan after he’d done his duties. After that he was able to sink down in to his work as he usually did and lose himself in the prototype seal he had created yesterday.
With fresh eyes he was able to tell that some of the kanji he had used were in direct conflict with each other and if he tried to test this out it would either blow up in his face or have no reaction at all. It took a while to come up with alternatives, which in turn changed the order in which he would need to lay them. After two hours of rearranging and substituting he realized that the base array he was using would not provide enough power for what he was trying to do. He took a slow deep breath and told himself that a small annoyance like this was not worth crumpling the notes he had spent hours creating. His notes were always carefully preserved in case someone wished to learn from them some day or wanted to take his work in a different direction. Being annoyed did not mean he should ruin them.
Instead of having a temper tantrum, Tobirama began sketching out a new seal using a more powerful base. He laid the kanji, noting the fluctuations in power which hummed with each addition and whether it seemed a negative or positive effect. When all were laid he was happy to say that even though this was far from perfect he could already tell that he’d made progress. There were much fewer obvious conflicts and much more potential.
Which meant he was much closer to turning Madara back in to a human.
Tobirama’s hand paused above the scroll, his eyes staring at his work without really seeing it. He’d been working toward this for more than a week and only just now did he realize what it meant. To return Madara to his natural state meant to lose him in the form he was in now. It meant losing ‘Dara-chan’. And that bothered him.
Why did that bother him? He scowled, forcing his hand to move, to finish the sentence he had stopped in the middle of. It shouldn’t bother him. It was his duty to fix the mistake that he had made and Tobirama had always done his duty. Even when it cost him.
Except that it shouldn’t cost him, really. If he wanted a dog that badly he could always get another dog. Or a cat, perhaps. Cats were more independent and could largely take care of themselves, something which would be quite important if he were to actually get himself a pet. There was just something that bothered him about the idea of replacing little Dara-chan and he couldn’t figure out what.
It was late evening by the time Tobirama finally stopped working, long after he would have gone home to make dinner if Madara had been there to whine and nip at his feet. The thought had made him frown and stubbornly hunker back down to his task in defiance. Now he was paying for it as his stomach yelled at him that he’d had no food today other than a tiny breakfast which he hadn’t even finished, too annoyed at being woken early. He made sure to pack away what notes he wouldn’t need tomorrow and organize the ones that he would before locking the door behind him and making his way back to the main house.
As he trudged through the backyard he saw that almost all of the lights were on inside. It was strange to him, seeing his home lit up when he wasn’t inside. He hadn’t lived with Hashirama since long before they’d built the village, not since his brother had gotten married and being around him and his new wife those first few months had been nauseating. He was no longer used to having someone waiting for him to return home. Even now that he had some company in the house, it wasn’t as though Madara could be left alone and greet him with lights on and dinner made when the day was done. The thought of it was pleasant, having that sort of companionship, but it had never been something he’d seen as available. Where would he find someone not just willing but capable of keeping up with his personality and lifestyle?
The idea of it seemed a distant dream to him and Tobirama had to shake his head to clear it before approaching the house.
When he pushed open the back door and let himself inside his ears were immediately assaulted by sharp barks as Madara came charging around the corner and started circling about his feet, yapping up a storm. Tobirama stared down at him for a long moment, just watching and letting his thoughts roam. He’d grown attached, he realized, to someone who couldn’t stay; someone he couldn’t keep. And when this tiny fluffy idiot was once more a tall fluffy idiot he would go back to hating Tobirama the way he always had. The thought of it was like a knife in his chest.
“Hello Dara-chan,” he said softly, kneeling down to allow the Pomeranian to sniff and lick at his fingers. “Did you miss me?” He supposed all he could do was enjoy the time he had left and treasure the memories; memories that only he would have. He might have once considered holding this over the older man’s head afterwards but now he realized that the time they were spending together meant something to him. He knew he would hold these days close to himself, think of them fondly and never share them with anyone. These days were his and his alone. When little Dara-chan leapt in to his arms he laughed quietly. He was glad for what he had been given.
Seeing no sign of his brother, Tobirama stood and brought Madara with him as he made his way in to the home. He found Hashirama sitting in the living room, frowning deeply as he stared off in to space.
“Brother?” he called out, catching the man’s attention.
“Oh Tobirama.” Hashirama shook his head and sat up straighter. “Sorry, I was…lost in thought.”
“Is everything alright? What happened?”
Hashirama’s whole body rose and fell with a deep sigh. He looked sad. Not in the way that his overdramatic fits of depression left him drooping with a dark cloud nearly visible round his head. He actually looked serious in a manner not many had seen him. Tobirama had only seen him this somber on a few occasions himself and it usually indicated that someone had died.
“Nothing happened,” his brother tried to reassure him. “I’m sorry to worry you. I’ve just thinking of Madara a lot today.”
Tobirama stopped walking, hovering with one foot still in the air as his eyes grew wide, staring at the man on his couch while searching for a way to respond.
“Madara?” he choked out, suddenly much too aware of the puppy which panted happily in his arms.
“He’s been missing for a long time now,” Hashirama said. “He hasn’t been seen for a week and a half! At first I thought he was simply dealing with clan issues and that I should leave him be – until I spoke with Izuna and he said Madara hadn’t been at home in days. I thought he might have gone on a mission and I had forgotten him mentioning it. But there’s no record anywhere of him accepting a mission. No one knows where he is.” Tobirama flinched when his brother looked at him with such sorrow in his face. “I’m getting really worried.”
“I’m sure he’s fine brother. There are few that can take Madara by surprise, fewer still who can match him in battle. Where ever he is, I’m sure there’s no reason for you to fret.” In his arms, Madara yipped almost as if in agreement. Tobirama shifted guiltily, feeling uncomfortable. It had never even occurred to him that he would need to cover his tracks this way. Madara had been here at his side the entire time and it had simply not occurred to him that everyone else would think him missing. Which was strange. Usually he was so good at covering all the details and thinking of every possibility. How this had slipped his mind he wasn’t sure.
Hashirama sighed despondently, sinking back in to the couch and crossing his arms like he was trying to hug himself. Tobirama hovered, wondering what he could do to make his brother feel better. He wasn’t good at this. He would normally send the man home to Mito and leave the comforting up to her but he felt responsible this time. He was responsible this time.
“If it will ease your mind, perhaps you should send one of the Inuzuka to look for him?” He suggested. Even as he said it Tobirama realized he was walking a thin line. He wanted his brother to be comforted by the idea of sending a tracker but he didn’t want his brother to realize that sending a sensor would work just as well. Because he himself was the best sensor in the village and surely Hashirama would ask him to go. How could he, in good conscience, go looking for Madara when he knew that the man was currently curled up in his arms and panting softly like a good dog?
“That’s…why didn’t I think of that?” Hashirama sat up, his face brightening. “That’s a great idea! Thank you! What would I do without that big brain of yours?”
“Probably lose your head,” Tobirama mumbled just loud enough to be heard. His sibling only chuckled, his mood already turning around now that he had a direction in which to go.
Their conversation turned to lighter topics then and he thanked Hashirama for allowing him some peaceful time alone to get some work done. He set Madara down as he listened to the fun they had gotten up to without him – playing in the backyard, practicing tricks to earn dinner. Then he shooed his brother out because it was late and he wanted to get the sleep he had been denied at the beginning of the day. Hashirama was smiling when he left, upbeat and enthusiastic with a plan in mind.
Tobirama sighed as he headed down the hall toward his room. When he didn’t hear the skittering sound of tiny paws following after him he turned to see Madara standing just at the edge of the living room, watching him with fluffy ears perked up.
“Well?” he asked. “Are you coming?”
Madara barked once and rushed past him, leaping up on to the bed and snuggling in to his pillow to wait while he changed and performed his evening ablutions. When he slid in between the sheets Madara slipped off the pillow to curl up by his hip, his nose burrowing in to the fabric of Tobirama’s pajamas. Tobirama looked down at the small creature cuddled against him and, no matter how much he tried to fight it, a smile crossed his face. It stayed there as he fell asleep, carrying him in to gentle, happy dreams.
Chapter 5: Digging A Hole In Your Own Backyard
Berry's art suddenly hits us right in the feels!
Tobirama stared at the page in front of him, his calligraphy brush hovering less than an inch away from leaving a large blot of ink on his desk top. No matter how much he stared, however, the scroll in front of him didn’t change. He blinked, wondering if he might be hallucinating, but it still stayed the same. It was perfect. It was ready. It was the solution to all his problems.
He didn’t want to use it.
Hashirama had sent a team of Inuzuka out to search for Madara only two days ago and Tobirama had since buried himself in his seal work out of guilt. Now here he sat with the finished product, the jutsu which should return Madara to his human self, and he found himself wishing he had never created it. Stupid though it might be, he wanted more time. He wished he could have dawdled, could have ignored the unhappy feeling that gnawed at his stomach whenever he thought of his brother’s sad expression. Instead he had achieved what he had set out to do – and in the process incidentally created the answer he had been looking for before this mess had even started. This wasn’t just a reversal for the problem he had created. It could also function as the infiltration jutsu he had originally been trying to create.
The problem had been solved by a particularly clever invention he wished he had thought of at a different time: double layered seals, one visible seal which activated another hidden seal underneath. It took quite a long time to inscribe and it was surely not something that would ever be used when speed was necessary. But if one had a proper amount of time even he had to admit that the uses for this new method of seal activation were nearly endless.
His eyes turned to the fluffy Pomeranian chasing his own tail as he thought about how sometimes his own genius came back to bite him in the ass. Madara stopped spinning circles when Tobirama stood from his chair. He barked a few times and came over to dance up on his paws, asking for attention. Tobirama bent down to pick him up, cradling the small body gently against his own chest.
“I suppose there’s little point in delaying the inevitable,” he murmured. Madara looked at him with his tongue lolled out, his doggy grin bright and happy. “You won’t remember any of this but I will. I’ll never forget a minute of it. Thank you – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – but thank you for making my days a little less lonely. It was nice, you being here.” He stopped for a moment when Madara squirmed around and licked him right up the center of his face. Instead of jerking away like he normally would he simply stood still with a wry expression and let the puppy shower him with affection. When it was over and Madara yipped at him he smiled. “I’ll miss you Dara-chan,” he whispered.
With those words he set the puppy down on the ground and lifted the scroll from his desk. He squatted down to lay it flat on the floor, hesitated one last time, and then called the escaping Madara back over to him. The last image he had of his little Dara-chan was a happy face rushing towards him, puffy fur flying out in all directions. He would have given absolutely anything to have possessed a Sharingan in that moment so he could immortalize it in his memory forever. Then tiny paws stepped down on his carefully prepared seal and a brilliant light flared.
Tobirama closed his eyes against the light, his heart clenching at the terrified bark that slowly turned in to a disoriented groan. When he dared to peek Uchiha Madara sat sprawled on his backside, his head hanging low and his eyes closed while he swayed from side to side. He looked just as he should and no worse the wear for his furred adventures. Just as the older man lifted a hand to the side of his head Tobirama stepped around him and pressed two fingers in to the base of his skull, sending a quick pulse of chakra behind them. With a soft sigh Madara slumped back to the floor, blissfully unconscious.
For a minute Tobirama simply stood there and stared, taking in all the features of the man at his feet. It had been almost two weeks since he had seen him in human form and he always seemed to forget how pouty his bottom lip was, the curve of his round chin, how long his hair had grown. His locks swirled around him like spiraling pools of ink that – were he standing – would nearly reach the back of his thighs. Tobirama could not honestly say he had missed this face but he could admit to himself that he didn’t see him quite the same way anymore. It was regrettable that he could think of no way for him to cultivate a friendship with Madara. It seemed impossible now after so many years of constantly being at each other’s throats.
Before he could stop himself Tobirama found his knees bending, his hand reaching down to stroke the hair from Madara’s eyes and softly pet his head one last time. When he realized what he had just done he forcibly shook himself from his reverie. Then he hefted the unconscious man in to his arms and left his work space.
Sneaking through the forest that surrounded Konoha was easy when Tobirama had been the one who created the patrol routes and schedules. He knew exactly who was on duty today and where their laziness would provide him with an opportunity. Perhaps he should bring it up to them but that would have to wait for another day when it would not call in to question just what he was doing out here at the time. He carried the unconscious man in his arms to a spot where he would be found soon and turned to leave. Then he stopped. He eyed the body and tilted his head. Something was off.
Kneeling down, Tobirama grabbed up a handful of leaves and ground them in to Madara’s hair, snarling the locks in to impossible tangles to give the effect of strenuous activity with no time for grooming. He darted a good distance away to gather a few handfuls of dirt and artfully smudged them in to the man’s armor and across his face. Surveying his work, he decided that it looked much more believable now. Obviously Madara had been wandering through the woods and passed out here, so close to home. As an afterthought he took a kunai from his thigh holster and made a few scratches in the dull red armor, giving Madara the appearance that he had seen battle. Partly because he knew it would make the deception more genuine. Partly because he knew it would drive Madara crazy not knowing what had happened despite the fact that something so obviously had.
Just as he started to rise back to his feet, Tobirama sensed the patrol coming his way. Knowing he could feel them long before they could feel him in return, he turned and hurried back the way he had come, slipping out of the patrol’s range and heading back home.
And he didn’t look back once, no matter how much he wanted to.
Hashirama was in the archives having a lively argument with the Hatake woman whose file system he kept messing up when the news reached him that Madara had been found unconscious only an hour from the east gate. He didn’t even hear the woman screeching about the papers he knocked over as he flew out the door, blood thundering in his ears. Fear and relief filled him in equal measure. Madara had been found; his friend had come home. But was he okay? The messenger knew little when he questioned them as they raced across the rooftops, only that Madara had been found unconscious and looked ‘a little banged up’.
He made his way to the hospital where Madara had been taken. His first order was to send out trackers with instructions to find out what direction he had been coming from and if there had been others present. His second order was for someone to tell him his friend’s medical status.
“He’s being examined as we speak, Hokage-sama,” one of the medic-nin told him. “He has no obvious physical wounds but he was found unconscious and has not awakened yet. We’re checking for poisons and other less obvious ailments.” She reassured him that the most likely scenario was a simple case of chakra exhaustion. Hashirama thanked her and settled himself in the waiting area until he was given the result of their examination.
They came less than an hour later. No wounds, no poisons, only a thoroughly ruffled and exhausted man who passed out when he was almost home. Hashirama was overwhelmed with relief that his friend appeared to be uninjured. Still, the situation struck him as strange. Madara was a stubborn man and a strong one as well; he was the kind to keep pushing forward until he reached his destination. It wasn’t like him to almost make it. It made little sense and he was impatient for the Uchiha to wake up and tell him where the hell he had been for the past two weeks.
After sending word for the Inuzuka search party who had been sent out two days ago to come back home, Hashirama settled himself at Madara’s bedside. He looked peaceful in a way the Senju had never seen him, completely relaxed without a single stress line between his eyes. As if he had been on some secret vacation instead of missing who knows where doing who knows what. It was odd to look at considering his usual expression even in sleep was furrowed brows and a downturned mouth, anger shadowed behind every expression even in the rare moments when he found happiness or amusement. Hashirama loved his friend dearly but he did know that he was not a happy man. His life had no peace, no center. For Hashirama, he found peace in his wife and his family. After Izuna had moved out on his own Madara had seemed almost set adrift, wandering through each day as if searching for something to build his life around. He was a man who needed purpose – a personal one, more than just the village.
Shaking these thoughts from his head, Hashirama cheered himself up by chatting out loud to the unconscious man in the bed before him, telling him all the latest gossip that he would have no interest in when he awoke. He tried hard not to worry about what answers might come to him when his friend was finally able to tell him where he had been. Worry, he knew, would not change things and so Hashirama prattled on.
When night fell across them all, fingers of darkness closing over the sky and cooling the temperature of the air, the infamous Senju brothers were sitting at opposite ends of the village feeling very opposite things. Where Hashirama was trying hard to be hopeful and positive, Tobirama was instead striving to close himself in and forget that the past two weeks had happened. The infiltration seal had been only a pet project and not really meant to take precedence over his other duties. Now with it out of the way he had been trying to spend his time catching up with all of the things he‘d been falling woefully behind on. The trouble he was having was that he could not concentrate.
His work space and his home were both so distractingly quiet that he had actually dug out the radio Touka gave him years ago as an unwanted gift. Music wasn’t really what he wanted to listen to but it covered the sounds of silence where his ears strained for the skittering of tiny paws or the panting of a small wet tongue. He was frustrated with himself, angry that he couldn’t seem to get any work done.
He gave in only when midnight had passed and he was forced to admit that sitting there and staring at the paperwork before him would accomplish nothing. When he stumbled through his house and fell in to bed his limbs sprawled to take up as much space as possible. He wasn’t sharing his mattress with any tiny nuisances now and he didn’t have to worry about accidentally kicking any fluffy bodies. He almost defiantly claimed his own space again. Then he stared up at the ceiling, eyes wide open as he avoided thinking about the disturbingly empty sensation in his chest or the cold feeling of his hip.
Despite how late it was, sleep eluded him. Tobirama shifted and squirmed, tossed and turned, ending up on his side with a spare pillow clutched tightly to his chest. But no matter what he did he couldn’t seem to sink down in to restful oblivion. Something was missing and knowing what it was didn’t mean he was willing to think about it. Just because he had admitted to himself that he would miss his little Dara-chan didn’t mean he would also admit how it was already affecting him.
His sharp ears could pick up the ticking of the clock in the hallway, counting each horrible second until finally he sat up and glared through the open doorway, squinting in to the darkness and waiting for a beam of moonlight to fall across the clock face. It was three o’clock in the morning. He had been laying here for a little over two hours and yet he was no closer to sleep than if it were three o’clock in the afternoon.
With a snort of disgust, Tobirama threw the blankets off his legs and got out of the bed. Even the false illusion of productivity was better than staring aimlessly in to the shadows and letting the loneliness gnaw at his heart.
Chapter 6: Like A Dog With A Bone
Just the one art piece for this chapter but still well worth it! Look at that face!
Three days after he had awoken in Konoha’s hospital Madara still had no memory of the two weeks during which he’d been reported missing. It was incredibly disorienting to wake up with Hashirama hovering over him, peppering him with questions as he slowly realized he had no idea how he had come to be there. His friend had been both disappointed and worried to hear about his memory loss, immediately launching in to a long rambling dissertation on the few facts they did have so far.
The area where he was found had been searched to no avail. If there had been another person present then they must have had incredible chakra control to leave no residue of themselves. They also would have had to have been smart enough to remove their scent from the area and he doubted there were many who even had the skill to do that outside of his own village. Certainly the Senju brothers and he or his own brother could do it. Possibly a few of the stronger Inuzuka and a Hatake or two. However, he could think of no reason for one of his fellow shinobi to be involved with his disappearance in any way.
It didn’t take long for Hashirama to start theorizing reasons behind his disappearance, each of his ideas descending deeper and deeper in to the realm of absolute stupidity. And of course his mind had fixated on the stupidest theory of all as the one he thought must be the truth. Three days later and Madara was still rolling his eyes as his friend waggled a half-eaten plum in his direction.
“I don’t understand why you won’t give me a few details!” the other man was saying. “It’s not as if I’m going to judge you for it. I’m happy for you!” Madara resisted the urge to bash his head against the desk, tempering it by allowing himself to rub at both of his temples.
“For the love of – Hashirama, get this through your brain: I was not hidden away with some secret love affair!” Why did he have to be best friends with such a walking headache? “I have no memory of where I was. The last thing I remember is leaving the tower to go yell at that insufferable sibling of yours. Which reminds me, where the hell is he anyway? If I can come back to work already then he should have to come in too. He wasn’t the one hospitalized.”
“He should be here soon,” Hashirama murmured, hunching down with a hurt look and a pouting lip, nibbling on his plum. Madara ignored him. Honestly, what had given this man the impression that he was out meeting up with some woman? If he wanted to have a relationship he couldn’t imagine why he would feel the need to hide it. And then, of course, there was the fact that he simply wasn’t attracted to women.
His thoughts on Hashirama’s stupidity were derailed when the door opened and the younger Senju brother strolled in. Well, more like shuffled in. His white hair seemed slightly messier than usual and his skin a shade paler than normal. He looked as if he hadn’t had much sleep the last few days but Madara found he had no sympathy for that. He hadn’t been sleeping well himself for some reason and he, at least, was managing to function just fine.
“Brother! You don’t look too well.” Hashirama peered up at his sibling with concern as he approached the desk the elder Senju used when he wasn’t in the office of the Hokage. The room was quite large and all three of them had a desk in here to use whenever they wanted to get some work done at the Tower but didn’t wish to drown themselves in formality. Tobirama grunted.
“I’m fine,” he snapped irritably. “You wanted these papers and I brought them. A simple ‘thank you’ would have sufficed.”
“Thank…you? You don’t have to be so grumpy, brother.” Hashirama wilted in his chair.
Madara snorted across the room. He watched Tobirama turn to glare at him. Curiously, as soon as the younger man actually looked him in the eye he seemed to flinch – just barely but Madara was an observant man no matter what people said about him. He watched those red eyes flicker away from him and dart about the room before narrowing at their village leader.
Hashirama had just enough time to lean back out of the way before Tobirama unceremoniously dumped the papers he was carrying on to his brother’s desk, scowl firmly set in the creases of his mouth.
“I am busy so if you don’t have any more of your own work that you need me to do, I’ll be going.”
Without waiting for an answer the tired looking man spun on his heel and all but stomped from the room. He didn’t quite slam the door but he did close it with slightly more force than absolutely necessary. For a few moments Hashirama and Madara looked at each other in bewilderment.
“What’s his problem?” Madara asked. Hashirama gave him a baffled shrug before tossing his plum pit out the window and pulling the papers towards him, movements cautious as he looked them over in suspicion of booby traps.
Neither of them saw Tobirama again until the end of the day. They had heard a couple of clerks wandering past the room and gossiping about how Lord Senju had made a fully grown man cry earlier with just a few waspish comments, dangerous irritation nearly bleeding from his every pore. By the time he returned to the large office they all shared he looked so rigid he might have snapped in half if he tried to bend over.
Madara had never been Tobirama’s biggest fan, for obvious reasons. They clashed on the best of days and neither was ever willing to give the other the slightest quarter. His typical reaction to seeing the younger man was a stiffening of his spine and a curling of his lip, bracing himself for the impertinence surely about to be thrown his way. He was therefore absolutely mystified to find his body actually relaxing the moment that the other walked in to the room. It was similar to that feeling of knowing something is missing but not knowing what it is until suddenly you’ve found it by accident.
A scowl wasn’t quite enough to wash that thought from his mind but it allowed him to concentrate enough to listen in as the two Senju quibbled back and forth. Tobirama’s bad mood had not dissipated in the slightest, something Hashirama didn’t take in to account when he brought up the incident they had heard the gossip about. He watched them bicker with morbid amusement until Hashirama slumped in his chair and crossed his arms. At his own desk, Tobirama continued writing out a set of forms, not caring in the slightest to watch the pouting happening to his left.
“Both of you are being so mean to me today!” Hashirama wailed dramatically. “Tobi’s yelling at me and Madara won’t admit to a secret that I’ve already figured out!” Amusement fell away with a twitch of Madara’s brow.
“Are you still on about that? How many times must I tell you that you are being an idiot?” Madara huffed. Hashirama sat forward and raised both of his hands in the air with an exasperation he didn’t have the right to feel.
“It’s so obvious!” he said. “I know you were off seeing a woman! Why can’t you just admit it?”
“I was not with a woman!”
He wasn’t sure what drew his attention but in the midst of his own turn for bickering Madara noticed the way Tobirama glared daggers at the both of them, sinking further and further in his seat. Even more odd, the greyish pallor of his skin gained a little color in the form of a light flush. Madara wondered if he didn’t have a fever. It might explain his snappishness.
The insults he flung at his best friend were only halfhearted as he wondered why he was paying so much attention to an idiot he didn’t even like. Why should he care what Tobirama was doing? He didn’t care! He had never cared before and he certainly wasn’t starting to now. Except, every time Hashirama blabbered about his nonexistent affair Tobirama seemed to sink deeper and deeper in to his bad mood until Madara was worried that the furrow on his brow might never smooth over again. And why did he care about that?
In a mystifying turn of events, that became a theme which would follow him for the next few days. Madara couldn’t seem to stop himself from paying just a little bit more attention to Tobirama than he should have been, watching the man whenever he entered a room and keeping an eye on his reactions to what was going on around him.
What he learned from these observation was that Senju Tobirama needed a nap. Badly. The man only looked more tired with every day that passed, his temperament ranging wildly between waspish, obsessively concentrated, and so unfocused that he appeared absent from the very chair he sat in. If it were anyone else it would have been incredible to watch yet something about it happening to Tobirama made it more concerning. Tobirama was the epitome of self-control. He was a standard against which others measured themselves. For him to be acting this way was, in a poorly chosen word, unusual.
Yet, as he had already asked himself at least a hundred times over the course of several days, why in Sage’s name did he give a crap? Madara blamed it on his own lack of sleep. Ever since he had awoken to discover that two full weeks of his life were missing from his memory he had been having his own troubles sleeping. He found himself feeling cold at night even when bundled in three different blankets. He felt as though something else should have been there and he awoke every morning to find his arms reaching out for something he couldn’t identify. It was frustrating and confusing but somehow he wasn’t nearly as worried for himself as he was for Tobirama. He was almost to the point of conspiring to force the man to nap.
If asked, Tobirama would have been in favor of that plan. A week and a half after finishing the seal and losing little Dara-chan, Tobirama found himself deeply ensconced in the files he had neglected during his brief time as a dog owner. Or dog babysitter he amended, thinking of a conversation from just the night before. Hashirama had shown up unannounced and asked to see “Fluffers”. He had been disappointed to hear that Tobirama had – ostensibly – given him back only a day ago. That was a flat lie, of course. The tiny fluff ball had been gone for several days but the younger brother knew it would seem suspicious to have Madara and the dog appear to change places on the same day twice.
He had still been forced to listen to Hashirama moan about not getting a chance to say goodbye and come up with some interesting excuses as to why he couldn’t say who the puppy had gone back home to.
Tonight found him avoiding home, sitting up late in a large office with two other desks that had no bodies behind them. The moon had risen hours ago and nearly every citizen but the night watch had long since sought their pillows. He knew he should have done the same. Every time he thought about it, however, he thought about the wide empty expanse of his bed and snorted. There would be no sleep for him tonight, just as there had been no sleep for him any night since the last time he had laid down with a tiny body tucked up against his hip.
Tobirama growled and reached up to tug viciously on his own white locks. It was a recently formed habit, born of desperation and an inability to concentrate. Nothing seemed to keep his thoughts at bay for long, no matter how much pain he caused himself by tearing hairs from his scalp. Still the image of a tiny little puppy gamboled behind his eyelids every time he closed his eyes. Still he found himself looking around and wondering where the small idiot had gotten to. He had even found himself walking through his house whistling and calling out, holding a bowl of meat scraps for Dara-chan’s dinner – more than once.
It was all so ridiculous! How had he allowed himself to become so dependent on the company of another? And a mere dog at that. He had known the whole time who it was that was hidden under the guise of black fur and pointed ears; he’d known and still he allowed himself to get attached.
Tobirama winced as he gave a particularly violent tug on his own hair. The stinging in his scalp cleared his mind just enough for him to see that he had written his own name incorrectly on yet another document. He was supposed to be reviewing these and approving or disapproving them. They were important. These were priceless rolls of parchment upon which he was shaping the future of the village they had all spilled so much blood to build.
With a vicious snarl he scribbled his writing out, tearing a hole in the page and leaving blots of ink over some of the words. His breath was thick and heavy in his chest but he didn’t seem to realize he was panting slightly, the heat of his irrational anger rising red on the back of his neck.
Tobirama reached his bed only three hours before dawn that night. He did not sleep.
Chapter 7: Sick As A Dog
As always, much much much love to the wonderful thetoxicstrawberry for her amazing art for each chapter!
It took a great deal of internal convincing for Madara to talk himself out of bashing his head repeatedly against the nearest wall. He had thought that having to deal with Hashirama’s stupidity was awful. What he hadn’t anticipated was for the senseless man to drag Izuna in to his insanity. Now he was sitting at his desk in the Hokage Tower contemplating how many objects within arm’s reach could be used as projectiles while his last living sibling paced around the room ranting.
“It just isn’t like you brother!” Izuna was saying, one hand flailing aimlessly. “It’s just not...your kind of thing!”
While he appreciated his brother’s nod to discretion there really wasn’t any need for it. Madara had had a conversation with Hashirama about his preferences a long time ago – which, incidentally, was half the reason he found the other man’s claims that he had been off gallivanting with a woman so irritating. Madara sighed and forced himself to lower his head to the surface of his desk slowly with no bashing and no head injuries.
“Shut. Up.” His eyes closed against the onslaught as his brother flagrantly ignored him. His usually short temper was made even shorter by the ever increasing lack of sleep. It had been nearly three weeks now since he had been found outside the village and at this point he was down to about four hours of blissful unconsciousness a night. He could never quite shake the feeling of being incomplete somehow nor the strange chill in his chest and limbs.
Hashirama and Izuna distracted each other with mindless prattle for a while, discussing his standoffish and reticent tendencies as if he wasn’t right there to hear everything they said. Madara simply let them, allowing the words to become enough of a background buzz that he could lift his head and attempt to get some work done. From the corner of his eye he noticed Izuna pacing over to Tobirama’s desk and lifting himself up to perch on the edge of it. He scowled. Then he scowled even deeper because it bothered him that this actually bothered him.
Even his own mind made little sense these days.
Partly he was bothered because that was Tobirama’s space and Izuna was so casually invading it. He felt strangely territorial on the absent man’s behalf and that was a bizarre concept to wrap his head around. The other part which bothered him was that the desk was empty. And it had been empty for three days in a row. No one had seen hide nor hair of Tobirama since the last time he had visited their shared office. It wasn’t truly so odd – Tobirama had a history of holing up in his workshop for days on end while he worked on some project or another – but Madara’s newly developed obsession with the man had him chomping at the bit to see him again.
His lips tightened and thinned when he realized that his thoughts had once again gone down the rabbit hole in to ‘Tobirama Territory’, as he had dubbed it. The Senju was taking up entirely too much of his mental time and he had yet to figure out why. So many mysteries had cropped up after his disappearance and if he could only get a decent amount of rest he might have the energy to actually figure some of them out.
When the door to the room cracked open and swung slowly inwards, the attention of the room’s occupants was diverted to seeing who was there. The hinges creaked with an almost ominous sound as the dry wood opened at a sluggish pace, like there hadn’t been enough force behind the push that propelled it. Then three jaws dropped in unison as they tried to process the sight before them, the very man Madara had just been thinking about.
Tobirama had a beard. Perhaps not so much a beard as what appeared to be three days’ worth of stubble but it was still a horridly fascinating sight. Madara had been half convinced the man was incapable of growing any facial hair at all and now here he was with a good start on an honest to kami beard. The hair on top of his head was standing out at so many different angles that it resembled the mad scientist label he had been given many times before - but that wasn’t the most incredible thing about his appearance.
His eyes were so wide that white was visible all around his blown out pupils and the bags underneath were so dark that they looked like black bruises. His jaw was slack, his posture hunched, and his gaze feverish and unfocused. The armor he customarily wore when attending his duties was missing entirely, revealing that the belt on his usually hidden tunic was tied incorrectly. One shoulder was dangerously close to slipping off and there was a pattern of ink blots running through the creases of his pants. Madara had the fleeting thought that he should stop complaining about how tired he was when it was fairly obvious that Tobirama was even more so. Then the worry set in anew.
Hashirama was out of his seat faster than most people had ever seen him move. He dashed to his brother’s side, hands reaching out though carefully not touching.
“Tobirama are you okay? What’s wrong? What happened to you!?” His voice was frantic and he fluttered about in obvious distress. Tobirama listed dangerously to one side before his foot came out to catch him and take a wobbly step.
“I…I ran out,” he murmured distantly, unsteady legs carrying him on a swaying path across the room. “No more ink.”
They watched the ashen-faced man stumble to his desk and slowly sink down in to his chair like he wasn’t sure this was really where he had meant to end up. Then he simply sat there and stared aimlessly in to the empty space in front of him, his too-wide eyes unseeing. His hands sat limp on top of his thighs, fingers twitching. They waited for a few minutes but he continued to just sit there and do absolutely nothing.
“Tobi?” Hashirama ventured finally. “Tobi are you okay?”
Tobirama’s eyes slowly meandered downward until he was staring at his desk. He didn’t answer.
“Brother can you hear me?” Hashirama’s voice had a slight edge of hysteria to it.
“Looks like he’s completely checked out,” Izuna said with a snort. “I always did call him crazy.” He dipped his head back and laughed harshly until Hashirama and Madara both turned to him with heated glares. Then he recoiled from the anger in both of them, subsiding with a dark face and a pouting lip.
When they turned back to Tobirama he was scratching at the handle of one of his desk drawers like he wanted to open it but couldn’t remember how to. His fingers scrabbled until they caught on the handle more by accident than by design, causing it to drift open lazily for him to stare at the contents within. Hashirama clasped his hands to his chest, watching breathlessly to see what his brother would do.
“Ink,” Tobirama declared vaguely, his voice sounding very far away. Hashirama whined piteously.
“Something’s wrong!” the man wailed. “He’s sick! There’s something wrong with my brother!”
Izuna scoffed and muttered, “He’s always been a sick bastard,” under his breath. Madara gave his sibling a venomous look as he rose from his seat and walked past both him and Hashirama.
“We’ll need to get him home. Hashirama, quick flittering around like a fool.” He bent over to look at Tobirama, whose face was slowly lowering down to rest on top of the pile of paperwork in front of him. He didn’t seem to notice that his body was gradually collapsing in on itself. Madara shook his head. “Ugh you look even more a ghost than you normally do. To bed with you, do you hear me?”
The pale man didn’t answer, barely even reacted as Hashirama and Madara helped him stand from his chair and ducked under each of his arms. It wasn’t until they were out of the building and supporting him in an awkwardly coordinated dash across the rooftops that he managed to let out a faint “Hey…” then fell silent again. By the time they had reached his home, Tobirama had let them take all of his weight and dropped his head back to stare upwards at the sky.
They marched him through his front door and deposited him on his living room couch. Madara left the two brothers there and stepped through to the kitchen, trying to keep himself in a spot where he could still see through to the living room to keep an eye on what was happening. He was exasperated to watch Hashirama wring his hands and flutter about inside his sibling’s personal space.
“Would you give him some air?” he growled out to the other room. Hashirama looked on the verge of a full blown panic attack.
“He’s sick! He’s not well! What’s wrong with him Madara?”
“You’re the healer, you idiot,” he pointed out. “You tell me! Whatever is wrong with him, a hot meal will do him some good.”
At last his friend seemed to remember that he was useful in some way and his hands began to glow green, scanning his brother’s form and checking his vitals. While he did that Madara rummaged through the contents of the kitchen to throw together a simple pot of broth, surprised by the ease with which he found everything he needed, almost like he’d been here before. He continued checking on the dysfunctional pair as he worked and waited anxiously to hear the diagnosis.
“Nothing is technically wrong with him. His weight has dropped and his chakra feels very strange,” Hashirama called over to him after a while. “He’s not responding to me at all; I think he’s…seeing something else.”
“Hallucination?” Madara asked while returning to the living room, his hand protected from the hot bowl of soup he held by a folded towel. Hashirama was shifting his weight back and forth so much he looked like he was dancing.
“I – I don’t know!” the man simpered. “What’s happening to my baby brother!?”
“You know-” Madara set the soup down and sat on the coffee table facing the blankly staring Tobirama “-hallucinations are a common symptom of sleep deprivation. Just look at him, you idiot. He’s tired. He probably hasn’t slept in days and we’re lucky he’s this calm.” Madara blew on a spoonful of broth to cool it. Tobirama’s eyes were looking right through him but he obligingly opened his mouth when the spoon nudged his lips, allowing Madara to tip the contents inside.
He placidly allowed himself to be fed, a bit of color slowly returning to his skin. Hashirama waffled around being loud and annoying until Madara snapped at him to be helpful or get lost. At which point, of course, he went to sulk in the corner. Madara took deep breaths and brought the soup bowl back to the kitchen.
He convinced Hashirama to help his brother change clothes before they both wrestled him in to bed. Previously docile, Tobirama’s unfocused gaze sharpened the moment he sat on the sheets and his bloodshot eyes narrowed at them in a wild glare. He spoke for the first time since arriving at his house, demanding that they let him up because he was busy and he had things to do and what did they think they were doing in his bedroom anyway? It took Hashirama crying and Madara yelling for the tired man to relent and sink back down to the bed, huffing and rolling over to put his back to them.
He was muttering nonsensically to himself like he didn’t think they could still hear him but he was, at least, in bed. Hashirama declared his intention to stay and make sure Tobirama didn’t try to get up as soon as they were gone. Madara was contemplating doing the same and trying his best to ignore the voice in his head asking what had gotten in to him; since when was he such a mother hen over someone he was supposed to hate?
“Dara…” Tobirama murmured fitfully, his hands clenching and unclenching and his eyes focused on his empty bedroom wall. Madara turned his head sharply.
“What did he just say?” His voice croaked out as an urgent whisper.
Hashirama didn’t answer him, already trotting out the door and down the hallway. Madara waited in silence, not quite sure why he was all but holding his breath. He crept closer, trying to distinguish the slurred babbling coming from the man on the bed.
Madara’s entire body froze as that one word, spoken almost longingly, slammed in to his brain with all the force of an overzealous earth jutsu. He reeled, swaying stiffly as memories flooded in one after the other.
“Or should I call you Dara-chan?” He was happy and safe. Nothing bad could ever happen to him here.
His human was so good at playing. “Good boy Dara-chan.” He wanted to play forever.
“Haven’t I told you to stop being cute?”
His human was so warm and perfect to curl up against. He would never sleep anywhere else again.
“You’re not really a bad dog are you, Dara-chan?”
Sad eyes were looking at him as he curled in his human’s arms. “I’ll miss you Dara-chan.”
Madara staggered as he shook his head, clutching at his chest with one hand while Tobirama continued to twitch and grumble. His eyes were drawn to the younger man’s hip, where he had laid his head down and slept knowing there was nowhere else he could possibly be more safe or more happy. His heart thundered behind his ribcage and suddenly he felt as if the room were much too small.
A dog. He’d spent those two missing weeks as a dog under the care of Senju Tobirama – who hadn’t spoken a word of his misfortune to a single person since. He couldn’t process this. He had no idea what to do with this information, what to feel about it or how to react to it. On the verge of panicking, Madara did the only thing he could think of.
Now alone in his room, Tobirama rolled on to his back and stared at the ceiling. His scattered concentration rallied just enough to tell him that his brother’s chakra remained in his house, puttering around the kitchen doing something or other. He lay still and stared at the ceiling, wishing for sleep and knowing that it wouldn’t come. He knew very well that it was possible to die of sleep deprivation and wondered if he might follow that path. Should he ask Hashirama to drug him? That seemed a very temporary solution if he was going to slip right back in to the same cycles.
As the hours wore on and it became clear that his sibling was not leaving, Tobirama resigned himself to a night of empty stillness. He lay on his back with his limbs sprawled out, watching the room spin in lazy circles. The only thing he found he could think about was how cold he felt, and how lonely.
Chapter 8: Snapping And Snarling
Delightful art by thetoxicstrawberry now added!
Madara had thought he wanted his memories back. He’d thought that he wanted to know what had happened during those two weeks when he’d been missing, vanished from under everyone’s noses without a single trace. Now that he had finally found those memories he wanted to give them back again. He wanted to cast them away and bury them in a hole so deep they would never see the light of day.
What the hell was he supposed to do with the memory of Senju Tobirama smiling at him like he was the only light in the man’s life? What was he supposed to do with the echo of carefree laughter or the ghost sensation of a hand stroking absently and soothingly down his back? He had no idea how he was supposed to forget the absolute mortification that came with the knowledge that he had danced for his food, rolled over for his dinner!
He wanted to scream, to break things, to rage through Konoha with fire and vengeance because now he understood his new fascination with Tobirama and he realized that he actually missed the infuriating ass! Yet he could do none of those things because it would draw attention to himself and if anyone ever realized that he had spent two full weeks in the form of a tiny Pomeranian puppy he would absolutely die of shame. Then he would have to come back as an angry spirit and haunt Tobirama in to his own early grave just for getting him in to this stupid mess. His memories of the exact moment he’d become a dog were still somewhat hazy, the things he remembered with the most clarity were always Tobirama.
He remembered balancing on his back paws while the young man smiled at him, leaning down to feed him a cut of beef out of one hand. He remembered being so delighted to play fetch and the way Tobirama had pet him and told him he was a good boy after every successful retrieval. Madara shivered with a mixture of emotions each time he remembered how nice it had been to curl up next to a solid body and fall asleep with the feeling that he would never be alone again. It was no wonder he felt so alone when he tried to go to bed now; he’d been unconsciously yearning to go back to the place where he had been happy, peaceful.
Madara closed his eyes with a deep sigh and then opened them again to stare over the small pond he was sitting at the edge of. It was ironic, he thought, that he had insisted on having a koi pond when his home was built yet Tobirama hadn’t thought to add any water to his own landscape. Of course, the other man didn’t have any younger brothers anymore and dunking Izuna in a koi pond had been a pleasure he was unwilling to give up in the move from the Uchiha clan encampment to the newly built village. Madara let himself sink in to calmer memories for a moment, thinking of the place he had once called home. His life had been less safe and less happy when he lived there but it had also been less confusing.
At the very least as a child he hadn’t been questioning how he felt about a man he thought he hated. Now he was dipping his toes in the water of his backyard pond and thinking about how he kind of missed seeing Tobirama’s smile. He thought about how worried he was to see the other man slowly fall to pieces – and for what reason? No one had any idea what was wrong with him. Well, they might by now, actually. Madara had run away the moment Tobirama had triggered his memories last night and he hadn’t spoken to Hashirama since then. Now it was late evening so surely Tobirama must have slept, surely he was coherent enough to communicate what was wrong? Madara growled quietly in indecision. Did he really want to know? Yet again, why did he care!? He couldn’t possibly feel beholden to the man for keeping his secret or for taking care of him when he’d been vulnerable, could he?
Madara went to bed that night furious with himself and confused. He found himself tossing and turning almost until dawn, nearly decapitating one of the lesser clan members when they came to wake him a scant couple of hours later with council business.
He managed to avoid Hashirama for only the one day of moping. After his kin left, Madara was further exhausted to have his best friend appear on his doorstop already halfway through a panic attack. With a roll of his eyes he let the man in and sat him down with a cup of tea, not really listening to him babble as he made his own cup and sipped it quickly, hoping to absorb some of the caffeine and wake up properly. When he finally tuned in to what his friend was talking about, he stiffened.
“What do I do Madara? He won’t listen to me! Even Mito is starting to think we should drug him just to make him sleep but I like living. The last time I tried to do something like that he–” Hashirama stopped himself in midsentence, shuddering at something he couldn’t bring himself to say.
“Your brother has still not slept?” Madara demanded. Hashirama blinked at him.
“Weren’t you listening?” He pouted a little. “No! Tobi still won’t go to sleep! When we took him home from the tower I ended up falling asleep on his couch. When I woke up the next morning he had slipped right by me and gone back to his workshop! He was still out of ink so I don’t know what he was using to write with. I don’t think I want to know.”
Madara looked down in to his mostly empty tea cup, thoughts muddled and dim. He wished just for a moment that he wasn’t Hashirama’s best friend so that the other man wouldn’t have come to him specifically just to talk about how worried he was. As he hummed and searched for a response, his fingers twitched around the floral patterned porcelain in their grip. Now he was even more worried as well and he didn’t even have enough energy to be annoyed about the fact that he was worried.
“I don’t know what to tell you,” he said at last. “I’m not a healer. How should I know what to do?”
“You’re really smart, though! If anyone has a good idea it’ll be you!” Hashirama dredged up a friendly smile and Madara rolled his eyes.
“I am not all-knowing, despite your childish insistence on thinking so.”
“I know that!” Hashirama’s smile turned teasing. “There’s probably lots of things you don’t know. I’ll bet you didn’t know that Mito agreed to try for a baby!”
Madara stared at his friend with a gaping mouth for a few seconds before groaning and slapping a hand over his dry, sandy eyes. “That is disgusting. I do not need to be informed of your sexual habits with that harpy!” He ignored Hashirama’s half-offended protest, lowering his hand back to the table and twisting his mouth in to a wry expression. “Congratulations,” he added quietly.
Hashirama beamed with pride and Madara tried not to snort. He could definitely see this man as a father, although one who would heavily rely on his partner to be the disciplinarian. He wasn’t sure how he himself would handle a child and supposed it was a good thing that he would never be in a position to accidentally find out. It would indeed be hard for him to knock up some poor unfortunate girl when he’d never so much as kissed a woman in his life. His tastes ran in a different direction.
The two of them chatted for a while now that the Senju was calmer, although the conversation still centered uncomfortably on Hashirama’s worries about Tobirama. After he eventually left Madara spent a while longer simply sitting at his table and staring at a new cup of tea, trying not to think about all the things he couldn’t seem to stop thinking about.
So distracted was he that his brother’s arrival fifteen minutes later didn’t even stir him. Izuna found him frowning at the wall on the opposite side of the room with a faraway expression and it took three times of calling his name for him to answer.
“You’re starting to look like Albino Boy with how pale you are,” Izuna said to him when he finally realized he was being spoken to. “Maybe you should go back to bed.” Madara frowned at him. Though they no longer lived together, Izuna could still be found in his older brother’s home with a predictable frequency. He had shown up today at just the right time – or wrong time, depending on who’s point of view you looked at it from.
“We’ve been at peace for years. Why do you still hate him so much?” he asked without stopping to think about it. His younger sibling gave him an incredulous look, one which suggested he had lost what little intelligence Izuna thought him to have before.
“He tried to kill me, in case you forgot!” The other man’s face darkened in to a glare. “He put a blade through my chest! Is it possible you don’t remember that?”
Madara pinched the bridge of his nose. “As you put a blade through his. We were at war, Izuna. You tried to kill him just as much as he strove to kill you. That is what one does in a war: kill one’s enemy. Even Hashirama and I tried our hardest to best each other in every battle we fought. The rest of the village has put down the sword; when will you?”
“When did you!? Since when do you defend him?” Izuna looked at him as though his words had been a deep betrayal. Madara opened his mouth to say something but was waved off with a sharp gesture. “No, I got it. You’ve already been buddy-buddy with one Senju for years and now they’ve infected you with another. Well fine then. Go make doe eyes at all those tree freaks. See if I care.”
“Hashirama is the only Wood Style user!”
“Oh whatever!” Izuna shouted. “Don’t forget Madara, you’re supposed to be the head of the Uchiha clan, not the bloody Senju!”
“I am the head of this clan! And I do my duty just as much as anyone else!” Madara fisted his hands and resisted the urge to throw his cup. “If you are implying otherwise then I suggest you think very carefully about your next words.”
“Well I suggest you think carefully about where your loyalties lie!” The instant the words left his mouth Izuna seemed to realize exactly what he’d said. Rather than take the damning implications back, however, he spun on his heel and stormed towards the door without another word.
“You’re upset and I will let that comment pass this once,” Madara called icily at his brother’s back, “but you will not speak to me again until you have calmed yourself and are ready to apologize. I have neither the time nor the inclination to deal with your childish tantrums.”
Izuna’s only response was to make a loud noise of disgust as he slammed the door after himself, rattling the picture frames on the walls. Madara sighed explosively and let his head sink down to the table.
It wasn’t wrong to get closer to members of the others clans. That had been the whole point of making peace with them all and building a village together. As one of the most prominent figures in said village, he was expected to build relationships and forge bonds, to provide the example for others to follow. He wasn’t wrong. He didn’t want to think he was wrong.
Okay, so yes. Tobirama had indeed put a sword through his brother’s chest in that final battle between their clans. Something he knew that most did not, however, was that Tobirama had done it to save Izuna’s life. Madara had seen the blow. He’d seen where it had been aimed and the way Tobirama had changed his trajectory just enough to avoid a fatal injury. The move had left him open for Izuna to strike him in return, chest wound for chest wound. Madara had spent a long time sharing Izuna’s attitude about it because he was an older brother and a very protective one. Now, though, he was starting to see things from another perspective.
Could he really hate a man who’d had the opportunity to kill his brother and instead chosen to spare his life? It was Tobirama’s decision that day which inspired him to finally accept Hashirama’s offer of peace despite Izuna bleeding in his arms, begging him not to trust them. He’d never bothered to admit it out loud before but that didn’t change the truth of the matter.
Restless and agitated, Madara left his home and sought out the training fields. There was no one for him to spar with but that was fine since he didn’t really want to spar anyway. He wanted to crack trees and pound the ground, to scorch the earth and just let loose some of the confusion running through him. He wanted to be a good brother but, even though it had taken him probably too long to see it, he felt Izuna was wrong. What good did it really do to hold on to pointless anger about things that should have been forgiven a long time ago? He loved Izuna. He would shift the entire world for him. But that didn’t make him right.
Several hours after he started he found himself standing alone amidst smoke and dust, heaving for breath and not really feeling any better than he had before. His brother was angry now, Tobirama remained ill, and his heart was still conflicted. After all his self-reflection Madara was left with one disturbing truth. He was lonely without Tobirama. The question was: what did he want to do about it – and would Izuna forgive him for his decisions?
Chapter 9: Fur Heaven's Sake
Art's up! And such amazing artwork it is! I love the pieces Berry did for this chapter! ^^
He felt, admittedly, a little ridiculous. It was just a door. There was nothing inherently scary about a simple wooden door. Yet here Madara found himself, standing in front of it with his ears turning red and his throat closing up. He told himself to just lift his hand and knock because that was the only way the door was going to open and yet both of his arms stayed stubbornly by his side, frozen just like the rest of him. With a huff of disgust Madara turned away and stomped down the road, abandoning the front door to Tobirama’s home without having knocked for the second time that day. He wondered when he had become a coward.
Dust kicked up under his feet and he stomped his way through the village, giving very little thought to how much he probably looked like a child in the midst of a temper tantrum. That’s how he felt so it was only appropriate that he look that way as well. The frown stayed stuck on his features all the way to the Tower, marching in to the Mission Room and right up to where Hashirama sat behind a desk sorting scrolls. His friend jumped a little when Madara slammed his hands down on the desk.
“Ah…you don’t look so good, Madara.” Hashirama said. He was probably right. The bags under Madara’s eyes had their own bags by now. His hair was wild and uncombed. His forehead was wrinkled with a frown line he feared might be becoming permanent.
“A mission, you blithering idiot. Give me a mission.” Madara leaned on his hands and let his head fall a fraction lower. “I need a distraction.”
Hashirama opened his mouth, probably to ask more stupid questions, but Madara snarled at him through clenched teeth making him squeak and shove a hand in to the pile of scrolls he had just organized. He pulled one out at random, unrolled it, and perused to contents. A second squeak escaped him and he tossed it unceremoniously over his shoulder, lunging for another without pause. This one seemed more to his liking and he handed it over with the slightest bit of terror creeping over his features. He’d always hated it when Madara was angry with him.
Madara snatched the offered scroll and read through it for himself. A simple retrieval mission – perfect. Not much thinking involved but he would need to concentrate on not walking in to any traps, keeping his mind occupied and away from the problems currently running through his thoughts on loop. He signed for the mission and left without another word, blithely ignoring his friend’s questioning expression.
The item he was being sent to retrieve was a pearl encrusted brooch which had been stolen from one fat overfed noble by another. He was to break in to the thieving noble’s mansion to remove the item and leave behind evidence which would frame the original owner. Their client was actually a man who was hoping to elope with the daughter of the thief and he believed that a distraction such as this would cover their escape for just enough time that they could make the marriage official. After that there would be nothing the girl’s father could do.
Madara didn’t particularly care for being pulled out of his own personal drama just to become embroiled in someone else’s but he reasoned that he wouldn’t really be a part of it. All he was doing was the dirty work, the sneaky bits that involved no actual human interaction. That suited him just fine at the moment.
It took only him a couple of hours to reach the manor, forty five minutes to creep around and find the item amidst some admittedly impressive traps, five minutes to lay evidence and scale the side of the building back to the woods, then a couple more hours to return home. Truly the entire charade was beneath him and should have been taken care of by one of their less skilled ninja, perhaps one of the ones holding the recently dubbed rank of chūnin. Still, it felt good to do something productive instead of wallowing in his own self-misery. At the very least it had given him an excuse to stay far away from Izuna for almost half the day. Even when they were avoiding each other Izuna had ways of making his annoyance well known, the dramatic brat.
Upon his return Madara trudged back in through the village gates and wove through the streets without paying much attention to where he was going, mentally writing his brief report in his head for lack of anything else productive to focus his mind on. He didn’t realize his error until he was nearly tripped by a small child laughing and running in front of him. It forced him back to reality enough to see that he was nowhere near his intended destination. He was, instead, standing once again in front of Tobirama’s front door. He blinked rapidly, fists tightening at his sides. It would take so little to simply knock, to just talk to the man as he had already admitted he wanted to do.
He whipped around instead, forcing his legs to move towards the administration building so he could pick up the correct paperwork and fill it in. Hashirama eyed him warily when he walked in and Madara sneered at him, snatching the form he needed off a nearby stack and throwing himself in to the chair next to his friend.
“Everything went well?” Hashirama ventured.
“Shut up,” Madara snapped back.
“I see.” Hashirama folded his hands in front of himself, watching Madara out of the corner of his eye. The Uchiha harrumphed and began writing out the report he had already composed in his head. It didn’t take very long since the mission had been a simple one and nothing had gone wrong. He hadn’t engaged in any confrontations. He hadn’t even had to disable a single guard.
When the form was filled out he signed his name at the bottom and shoved it across the table to the Hokage. Hashirama pinched it between two fingers and pulled it closer with such an obvious look of reluctance that it gave the impression he suspected the paper might blow up if he moved too suddenly. After a quick read he added his own signature at the bottom, stamped it as complete, and set it in the correct pile to be filed by some young genin later.
“Did you…want another one?”
“Do you have anything else quick like that?”
Madara sighed. “I’d better not. I’ve been shirking my duties these last couple days. If I decide to disappear on a three day mission now then the elders will complain about it for the better part of the next century.” He heaved himself out of his seat with a great deal of reluctance. “You should be attending to your own duties at the moment,” he pointed out, eyeing the nearby stack of papers waiting for the Hokage’s attention. Hashirama grinned at him.
“But I always have time for my best friend!”
It wouldn’t do to show that fool how pleased he was by those words. Madara scrunched his nose and left the room without replying.
As he had told his friend, the elders were indeed unhappy with him for being so absent for the last while. He had worked as much as he could in the weeks after waking up in the hospital, trying to catch up on the paperwork and clan concerns that had piled up in his absence. It was hard, though, when he never seemed to get enough sleep to concentrate as well as he should have been able to. Not that the old crones in his clan seemed to care about such trivial things as memory loss or health concerns.
They met him at the entrance to the clan compound, already chittering away before he had even reached them, complaining about this and that. All of them followed as he made his way back to his home and invited themselves in to continue badgering him about a handful of issues that he tried – and failed – to care about. Madara listened as much as he could, reining his wandering mind back in again and again. Elder Miyako told him of the small disputes within their clan, petty little things that he was often called upon to make a ruling for. He made snap decisions one way or another for most of them, giving silent apologies to the people he should have been paying more attention to.
Elder Kazuhiko brought up bigger issues. This clan member had been caught stealing from another. That clan member was involved in an altercation with a Hyuga. Someone had put in a formal request to marry and have their civilian husband take their clan name as his own. Someone else wished him to ask the Hokage for funds to build more wells within their compound. These requests he could not make snap decisions on. He asked Kazuhiko to leave the papers with him to look over in more detail later. The wizened old man gave him an evil look, one that promised to make his life hell if he continued to put off his work.
Tired, grumpy, and with absolutely no patience left, Madara allowed his chakra to flare dangerously in response. There were times he thought these old windbags deserved a reminder that they served on the council of elders only at his pleasure. He was the head of this clan. He was the one who commanded obedience. The respect he chose to show them was no shield against the insults he usually chose to bear in silence. Both Kazuhiko and Miyako fled his home so fast he half expected their walking sticks to catch fire. It was a cheering thought and he happily imagined it for a short while, sitting in his living room and trying very hard to convince his body to just melt in to the cushions.
The rest of his day passed in a blur. Izuna came and went, storming in to the house with a wicked glare only to snatching up whatever he had come for and storm out again with eyes so sharp Madara actually checked himself for tiny little cuts. He did manage to make his way to the small study next to his kitchen and deal with some of the papers that the elders had left for him but he could not have said afterward what decisions he had made or why. He felt like he was just floating along through the hours, only half present inside his own body.
When evening settled over him Madara made his way to bed – and stared blankly at the ceiling. He was exhausted, so why couldn’t he sleep?
Is this what Tobirama felt like?
Madara rolled on his side with a scowl. Could he not go half a day without thinking of that man? Determined, he forced himself to go through some beginner’s meditation exercises to clear his thoughts. It worked for a while. His mind was pleasantly free of thoughts, his concentration wholly taken up by feeling the world around him. He could feel the blankets, slightly scratchier than Tobirama’s. He could feel the pillow under his head, not quite as squishy as Tobirama’s. He could feel the air on his skin, cold where it would have been warm if he were–
With a noise of disgust Madara sat up and threw off the covers. That was it! He was sick and tired of having his thoughts invaded every moment of every day! He was out of his room, through the house, and out in the street before he even realized he’d made the decision to do so. The thought that he should have properly clothed himself did not occur. Just as the thought that it was the middle of the night also did not occur. It was a good thing not a single person was awake in the wee hours of the morning to witness Uchiha Madara parading through the streets of Konoha in sleep pants and an undershirt with thunder on his face.
He stormed right up to Tobirama’s front door, raised his fist and – and stood there like a complete fool. What did he think he was going to say? ‘Get out of my head’? ‘I can’t stop thinking about that time I was a dog and you took care of me, please help’? He was an idiot sometimes, Madara was man enough to admit that, but he was certainly not that much of an idiot.
All of the fight went out of him and his arm fell back to his side yet he couldn’t seem to make his feet move. He stood still, wondering where to go from here. He wanted so badly to just sleep, to forget Tobirama’s laughter and how it felt to be praised for something as simple as rolling over on command. Humiliating, of course, but also nice. Madara was well known for his strength and no one had thought to praise him for his accomplishments in a very long time, not when such feats were simply expected of him now. Some other part of him didn’t want to forget these things but to experience them again. It was that part of him which confused him most.
Madara was only moments away from dropping his forehead against the door in despair when it suddenly swung inwards without warning. He blinked in surprise at Tobirama, the one who consumed his every waking thought, standing right before him. The younger man looked terrible, although slightly less so than he had when he had wandered in to the office babbling about being out of ink. His eyes were dull, his face had so little color he appeared translucent, and his hair was…interesting.
The two men stared at each other in silence for moments which seemed to stretch in to forever. Madara didn’t bother wondering how Tobirama knew he was there. He was a sensor and Madara was stupid for standing outside the door of a sensor who he knew wasn’t sleeping.
He nearly choked on his own tongue when Tobirama reached out and took hold of his wrist, wordlessly turning and leading him back in to the house. Madara followed helplessly, the front door swinging shut behind him as they trekked down a familiar hallway. He could tell where they were going; he’d taken this path many times in the two weeks he had possessed fur and a tail. Obviously he hadn’t thought he would ever do so again. The shock of it rendered him silent as Tobirama led him in to the bedroom and let go of his wrist to crawl in to the bed, curling beneath the rumpled sheets.
The invitation was clear; he had very deliberately left a spot just big enough for another person to slip under the covers behind him. Madara swallowed thickly, his mind as blissfully blank as he had been trying to accomplish less than half an hour before. He could no more resist what was offered to him than a starving man could resist a three course meal.
A please hum sounded from Tobirama as the bed dipped under Madara’s weight and the older man would blame his next action on the sleep deprivation. It was the only thing he could think of to excuse the arm he had wrapped around Tobirama’s hip without a single thought.
He was asleep in seconds, warm and content and feeling strangely as if he had finally come home.
Under his arm and at last calm inside his embrace, Tobirama closed his eyes and finally – finally – fell asleep.
Chapter 10: Speak Fido, Bark Bark
Almost forgot to post today! Whoops! Art now included. Just the one this chapter but of course it's just as amazing as always!
Madara woke to afternoon shadows. For the first time in a long time he felt well rested, not to mention more peaceful than he could recall ever being. The aches of exhaustion had fallen away, the tension in his head and his body had released, and he no longer had that strangely frantic feeling which had been buzzing constantly in the back of his mind for days.
Instead he felt simply content. The mattress underneath him was soft and the blankets around him made a heavenly cocoon. Whatever that was in his arms was warm enough to nearly lull him back to sleep and fit wonderfully against him. And also smelled a great deal like Tobirama.
His eyes popped open to see a shock of white hair just in front of them. As he came more awake he registered the feeling of being curled around another body, one of his arms slung across a trim waist which seemed built to cradle the wayward limb. Tobirama was obviously still sound asleep, breathing softly and steadily, entirely unconcerned with who was sharing his bed.
Memories of the night before trickled in and Madara let his body relax again; his eyes narrowed as he tried to decide how exactly he was going to react to this. He remembered that Tobirama had been the one to invite him in, heavily implying with his actions that he wished for them to spend the night sleeping next to each other, so obviously he wasn’t going to be upset to find someone else in his bed this morning. Madara wondered what context that invitation had been made in and what the reasons were behind it.
Is this why Tobirama hadn’t slept? Had he been kept awake by the same reasons which had plagued Madara each and every night? It was mind-boggling to consider that Tobirama might have gotten so used to having him around that he could no longer remember how to function without him, the same way Madara felt about the younger man in return.
A rumbling purring noise interrupted his thoughts and Madara blinked at the man suddenly shifting in his arms. Tobirama shuffled himself about, still just barely within the clutches of slumber. When he stopped moving he had turned round to face the other way and pressed his face in to Madara’s chest with a tiny smile lifting the corners of his lips. Madara stared and dared not to move. The afternoon sunlight fell at just the right angle to light his bedmate’s face, pale skin glowing and red markings stark in contrast. His hair was wild and fluffy, giving him a look slightly reminiscent of a dandelion, and the messy locks somehow softened his sharp features. He was beautiful.
When Tobirama nuzzled in to him he heard the man give off that deep purr a second time and realized it was him humming contentedly as he slowly rose to consciousness. Madara watched ruby red eyes blink open to greet the day, staring absently at the material of his shirt for a moment before his brows came down in a frown of slight confusion. Then Tobirama looked up.
“Oh,” he rumbled faintly. “Good morning.”
“It’s afternoon, actually,” Madara replied, his voice just as quiet. What exactly was one supposed to say in this situation? ‘Thank you for finally allowing me to rest’? He felt like that was more Tobirama’s line, actually. Sage knew the man had desperately needed some sleep.
“Ah.” Tobirama rolled on to his back and stretched like a cat, all long limbs and relaxed expression. Then he sat up and rose from the bed with effortless grace. “I’m hungry.”
The way he said it, it seemed as if he were surprised. Madara sat up as well, remembering that Hashirama had mentioned how his little brother hadn’t been eating very much as he went longer and longer without a proper night’s rest, a common symptom of sleep deprivation. He supposed it must be a little surprising to feel hungry again after so long.
Madara wordlessly followed his host in to the kitchen and stood in the doorway to watch as a simple breakfast was quickly prepared. He had the strangest feeling that he was up too high, watching from the wrong angle, and rolled his eyes internally when it clicked that he was remembering past mornings when he’d sat his fluffy butt on the kitchen tiles and wagged his tail while waiting for a meal. How humiliating to know that Tobirama had been the one to see him in such a state. Yet, the memories also brought a whole other train of thought to the forefront of his mind, one which he’d been extremely curious about ever since he finally realized the truth of his two week disappearance.
“You’ve said nothing to Hashirama about my…predicament,” he noted. Tobirama paused in his movements but didn’t respond. “If you had I’m certain he would have mentioned something by now. Which means you’ve managed to resist a practically gift-wrapped opportunity to mock me. Why?”
He didn’t mean to sound so caustic but it was his natural state and he supposed Tobirama knew that. Half the squabbles he got in to with his dunderheaded best friend were because he said something too harshly without meaning to and Hashirama took offense, the child.
“If it were me in your place I would not wish for such an occurrence to be made public knowledge,” Tobirama said, his body returning to the motions of food preparation. “Do unto others, as the old saying goes.”
“You’ve never missed an opportunity to mock me before,” Madara pointed out.
“With new information comes new conclusions. I am allowed to change my opinions when convinced otherwise.”
He frowned, trying to work through that. Tobirama could be ridiculously wordy when he was hiding something, be it information or simply emotion, and it was always a struggle to figure out what he was really trying to say. If he’d interpreted correctly this time then Tobirama had just told him that he thought of Madara differently now. Was it possible that the younger man’s feelings had changed to reflect his own? He thought of the smile on Tobirama’s face as he woke up, the blithe acceptance in his eyes when he registered that Madara was there in his bed. The idea didn’t seem too far-fetched – although some solid confirmation might be nice.
He fell silent for now. Neither of them spoke again until food had been set out and they had sat across from each other at the dining table. Tobirama seemed wholly consumed with getting actual sustenance in to his belly and Madara looked on with slight amusement. The usual grace in his movements wasn’t dulled but it was in direct contrast with the way he was nigh on shoveling food in to his mouth.
“You really were hungry,” he noted in a teasing tone. It was a tone he never thought he would use with this man, fond and confident that no real insult would be taken. More incredibly, Tobirama barely seemed to react to it more than to flick his eyes up for a brief wry look.
“I can’t recall the last time I was able to hold down more than few mouthfuls at a time,” he managed to say between bites. Madara opened his mouth to say something – probably something scolding – when his now-rested brain finally caught up and he realized something he had not before.
“You’ve shaved!” he exclaimed, then flushed when Tobirama paused to give him a strange look. In his mind he always pictured Tobirama with a clean-shaven face so seeing him that way hadn’t really registered as abnormal until he remembered the ghost of a beard he’d seen growing before.
“I believe Hashirama did that at some point,” the younger man admitted. “My memories of the last while are not the clearest but I think I remember him telling me I looked something of a caveman with facial hair. I’ve never grown it out before and as I understand it, it didn’t suit me.” He rumbled out a low chuckle as he went straight back inhaling more food.
Madara quietly inspected the barely-there morning shadow on Tobirama’s jaw and muttered under his breath, “I didn’t think it looked awful.”
Whether or not his comment was heard he didn’t know. He dropped his gaze to his own plate and resumed eating in silence. He was, to his luck, granted just enough time to finish swallowing the last bite of his breakfast before Tobirama rose with his now empty plate and spoke casually over his shoulder.
“I may have not had all of my faculties in perfect order but I know I felt you outside my front door more than once yesterday.” Madara was thankful there was nothing in his mouth to choke on. “Yet not once do I recall hearing you knock. Care to explain?”
“Not really,” Madara answered honestly, crossing his arms and jutting out his chin. Tobirama snorted as he filled the kitchen sink with water. Madara dropped his chin and sighed. “I…wished to speak with you. But I did not know what to say.”
“You’re here now. Speak.”
“I’m not a dog!” The words came out reflexively, without much thought. Then they hovered in the air as Madara watched Tobirama’s shoulders quiver tellingly. “Shut up! Don’t laugh, this isn’t funny! And it’s all your fault anyway!”
“I fail to see how you barging in to my workshop when you know exactly what sort of experiments I run in there is my fault.” Tobirama peeked over his shoulder at last, letting Madara see his amusement.
The Uchiha huffed and crossed his arms defensively. Alright, that was a fair point. But he wasn’t any less offended by being asked to speak like a dog, especially considering their circumstances. Even if Tobirama might not have meant it like that, it had still struck a very sensitive nerve. And when Madara was feeling sensitive he had the unfortunate tendency to lash out at anyone within reach.
“I didn’t see you complaining very much. You’re the one who insisted on playing with your new little puppy so much. And taught him tricks. Don’t think I don’t remember the baby talk.” He noticed Tobirama trying to hide a wince but strangely enough it came before he had even mentioned the baby talk which surely had to have been embarrassing for both of them. The younger man turned around with a frown, rag in hand to dry his fingers.
“Would you rather I had thrown you out to live on the streets until I found a solution?” he asked. Madara sniffed.
“Maybe if you had spent a little less time bonding with your new puppy then you could have worked harder and found a solution quicker.”
Tobirama narrowed his eyes, visibly insulted. “That puppy was you! Would you have preferred that I neglect you? I didn’t have to be nice!”
“Maybe you were a little too nice!” Madara could hear the words coming out of his mouth and he wished he could stop them but they just kept coming out anyway, his foot-in-mouth syndrome showing up at the most inconvenient of times. “Maybe you got a little too attached!”
The flinch on Tobirama’s face was much more pronounced this time. In an instant it was gone and his face darkened with a thunderous expression, one which Madara had seen directed at himself time and time again as the two of them clashed over the smallest things. This was the first time that seeing such an expression felt wrong, hurtful, and he knew it was because it hadn’t been directed at him since this whole drama started. But it was too late now; he had already dug himself in to a hole with his snappish, fiery personality. All he could do was weather the storm he had created.
“I shall think better of being kind to you in the future, if that is your wish,” Tobirama growled.
“Arrogant Senju!” His mouth demanded he respond with an insult and it was all Madara’s poor heart could do to soften the blow to the weakest one he could think of. He stood from his chair so quickly that it skidded backwards along the tiles of the kitchen floor.
“I don’t think I need to show you the door,” Tobirama told him in a deadly quiet voice. Madara was grudgingly impressed that the other managed to hold back from making any further implications about him obviously knowing his way around. He certainly wouldn’t have been able to resist.
Without another word he was spinning around and marching from the kitchen, down the hallway and out the door. It wasn’t until he had slammed it behind himself that he cared to remember that he was still clad in nothing but yesterday’s sleep clothes. Across the street, a young woman out sweeping her front stoop stared at him with a great deal of shock and Madara took a moment to glare at her, daring her to make a comment. Then he made a seal with his hands and used a body flicker to send himself as far across the village as he could, making the rest of the way back to the Uchiha compound by stealth. Getting spotted in his pajamas by anyone else was not high on his to-do list.
Madara made it home feeling like the biggest ass that had ever walked the face of this planet. What was wrong with him? He had woken up this morning feeling happy, content, like things were finally going right and making sense.
Then of course he had to fuck things up like he always did, his temper getting the best of him. Madara stormed around his house feeling angry and guilty – and angry because he felt guilty. He hated it when things were his fault and he hated it when there was no way to avoid admitting it. Worse was knowing that Tobirama’s good opinion of him may be hanging by a thread and that he may have ruined the fragile peace they had carefully built between them.
He spent the rest of the afternoon and the evening sulking, beating himself up in his head and wondering how to fix this, hoping that it could be fixed. Most of his time was spent wandering from room to room of his empty home and bashing a fist softly against his own temples. It wasn’t the first time someone had tried to beat some sense in to him. When nighttime came around he skipped dinner, unable to eat with all of his emotions churning away at his stomach.
By ten o’clock he found himself standing outside a familiar door, properly dressed this time, with one hand pressed against the wood. He had made a fist and brought it up and yet his arm simply wouldn’t knock. How does one apologize for one’s entire self? Of course he wanted to say sorry and explain but he didn’t want to say exactly why he had been so insulted. Did Tobirama only see him as “Dara-chan the dog”? Or could he see him as a human too, a person with feelings that begged for a little reciprocation?
He really should have expected the door to open again. Sensor, you asinine waste of space, he silently growled at himself. Tobirama was dressed for bed and wearing a very tired expression. For a long time they did nothing but stand there and regard each other in silence until at last the younger man turned and walked away without even closing the door. Madara had a moment of confused panic before he heard Tobirama speak quietly, not bothering to turn his head.
“Are you coming?”
He lunged anxiously through the door as though Tobirama might change his mind if he took too long. If he thought he was being invited in for conversation he was mistaken as Tobirama led him right to the bedroom the same way he had the night before.
When he reached the bed Tobirama fell in to it and curled on his side. Madara swallowed nervously as he sat down on the other side of the mattress, unsure if what he had in mind was okay. He wanted to ask, but should he? Was he reading the situation correctly? He deliberated for nearly a full minute before deciding that this risk was one he was only just barely willing to take. Tobirama didn’t so much as twitch when Madara laid a hand on his shoulder but he did look surprised to be rolled on to his back, shocked when Madara laid down to rest a head on his pale chest and curled around his lithe body.
Both of them lay quietly while Tobirama figured out where he wanted to settle his limbs. Eventually he decided to wrap them around Madara’s shoulders in a light grip.
“I’m sorry,” Madara said shortly, his low voice muffled in the shirt his face was pressed against.
“I know,” Tobirama answered him.
“I didn’t mean it.”
“I know that too.”
His mind boggled that Tobirama seemed to just accept his apology without a fight, without even needing an explanation. He offer a paltry one anyway.
“I wanted to thank you, not yell at you.”
He felt something pressing against the top of his head and realized that it was Tobirama’s face pressing in to his hair. Although he couldn’t actually feel it he still imagined that the other man was smiling as he replied, gentle humor in his tone.
“All bark and no bite.”
Madara growled but the chuckle reverberating through the chest beneath his head soothed him before he could even think of being truly annoyed. He’d learned his lesson this morning.
So instead he closed his eyes and let his body relax against Tobirama’s, feeling his companion do the same as well. His heartbeat slowed as the anxiety he had created for himself seeped away and he fell in to an easy slumber, dreaming that he could feel a strong hand carding through his hair.
Chapter 11: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Art included now! Two pictures this time and aren't they a delight? :P
Izuna was not, by anyone’s definition, a calm person. He was an Uchiha and he had been afflicted with all the fiery tempers one would expect from someone of his clan. As such, he was quick to anger, quick to assume, and quick to judge. He was also quick to love and quick to grow attached to things, if those could be said to be redeeming qualities. None of those better qualities mattered right now, however, because if there was one thing that he was not quick to do it was to forgive. Izuna would never forgive that bastard of a Senju for sending him so close to the Shinigami.
And now that same idiot Senju was rumored to have been caught in flagrante with his brother. Izuna ground his teeth together as he stamped through the village streets. He was lucky to have overheard the young woman whispering with her friends, giving him the opportunity to cut such nasty rumors off at the source. He had threatened her in to silence before heading to confront the one person he had been searching for a good reason to confront for years.
Tobirama’s front door, he was amazed to discover, was not even locked. All the better for him; he had been planning to simply kick it open anyway but letting himself in quietly gave him at least a passing chance at the element of surprise. Surely not even that white-haired devil could feel someone approaching in his sleep.
Izuna slipped down the hallway with a dark expression on his face. The rumors weren’t true obviously. There was no way his brother would stoop so low. But the fact remained that Izuna had picked up enough clues over the past while to determine that Tobirama must have had something to do with Madara’s still unexplainable two-week absence and he was determined to shake the man down for some answers. How dare he attack the head of the Uchiha clan? How dare he hurt Izuna’s most precious person? Madara hadn’t been himself since he had been discovered in the forest, memory gone, and Izuna wanted his big brother back, damn it!
It didn’t take long to eliminate all other destinations, narrowing it down to one room left which had to be the master bedroom. Izuna let a feral grin bare his teeth as he reared back and delivered a solid kick just beside the door handle, bursting in to the room with the dramatic sound of rending wood.
Two men shot up in bed.
One of them was Madara.
“Izuna what the fuck!?” Madara screeched at him. Izuna gaped like a fish, unable to believe his eyes.
“Me what the fuck!? You what the fuck!” he shouted back. “What the hell are you doing here? You’re in – this is – I’ll fucking kill you Senju, you gods damned bastard!”
With an enraged roar he threw himself bodily at the other man in the bed. Tobirama, unfortunately for him, apparently had some damn good battle instincts even only moments after being woken by someone kicking their way in to his bedroom. The Senju rolled off the mattress and out of the way, kicking off the wall to rebound and shoulder Izuna back in the other direction. Madara caught his flying brother by the scruff of the neck and though Izuna managed to land on his feet he was bent backwards by the grip of his sibling’s hand.
“What in the name of the sage in wrong with you!?” Madara demanded.
Izuna twisted away and straightened up, turning to see where Tobirama had gotten to. The idiot hadn’t moved very far, only to the end of the bed where he stood with his arms crossed and a violated expression on his face. (Which, yes, Izuna had invaded his personal space in one of the worst ways but he deserved it, okay?) With another growl the younger Uchiha launched forward, fists swinging low and jerking up in an attempt to break Tobirama’s jaw with a vicious uppercut. It was deflected, as were his next three swings, and his temper did not improve for how effortlessly Tobirama seemed to evade him.
A moment later his head snapped back from a blow he hadn’t even seen coming. He heard the crunch of breaking bone and pain exploded in his face. Izuna groaned and tried to blink through it, blood trickling down from his now shattered nose to drip over his snarling lips. Spots swam in his vision as he licked at the droplets and tried to firm his stance.
“Stop this now!” Madara was suddenly standing in between him and his target, arms spread wide in a strangely open gesture, like he was willing to take the next blow unto himself. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Izuna spit blood to one side and ignored his sibling, yelling past his shoulder.
“What have you done to my brother?” he demanded. “What have you done, huh? How dare you touch him! He’s not some conquest for you! He’s not just some lay that you’ll be able to toss off to the side once you’re done!” Madara’s horrified face and Tobirama’s absolutely floored expression only seemed to Izuna to confirm his theory. “Don’t give me that innocent face, I know you’ve done something! I know you had something to do with his disappearance! You’ve changed him! Give me my brother back!”
Blind with rage, Izuna made as if to bowl straight through the person he was trying, in his own misguided way, to protect. Apparently, however, Madara was done with him for today. His sibling caught him and suddenly the world went flying past in a riotous blur of color. When everything steadied again he had landed face down on the floor and a heavy weight was settled across him.
He struggled reflexively, his thirst for violence not yet slaked, and found his arms being pinned behind his back, a knee pressing itself between his shoulder blades. He tried to buck his hips and felt the weight on top of him shift with the movement, undisturbed.
“Stay. Down.” Madara’s voice growled in his ear with short, clipped syllables.
“You’re still defending him,” Izuna snarled back, thrashing. “Let me up! I’ll kick his ass!” A large hand gripped the back of his head, grinding his already broken face in to the floor.
“Eat carpet, you little shit!”
Izuna screeched in pain and forced his body in to stillness, knowing it was the only way his brother would stop. They‘d wrestled many times over the years, as brothers will do, and he knew exactly what position he had found himself in. As he’d thought, the pressure on his head let up the moment he went limp and he was able to turn his face, to his great relief. Madara was huffing wildly behind him until soft footsteps approached them and then suddenly his breathing sounded much steadier, calmer.
“Hmph,” Madara grumbled, as if in reaction to something. Then he lifted his weight off of Izuna’s midsection and hauled his younger brother up off the floor, arms still held behind his back. Izuna grimaced and tried to struggle now that he had slight freedom of movement but Madara’s grip was as strong as ever and he remained facing the wall. His brother growled in his ear again, “I don’t know what the hell has gotten in to you but you can snap right the fuck back out of it any time now.”
“He did something to you,” Izuna insisted, his eyes rolling from side to side, trying to glare at either of the men still out of his sight. Madara sighed and when he spoke again his voice was sad but steady, with a core of steel that demanded obedience.
“You are embarrassing yourself and me right now. I have already told you I have no patience for your childish ways, so pull yourself together!” Izuna let a snort escape him – regretting it when his broken nose screamed at him – and it was apparently the wrong move. Madara shoved at his back and he found himself being marched out of the room, back down the hall he had crept along before and led to the front door. “Time for you to leave, little brother. And I do not want to see your face again until you are ready to beg for forgiveness. Mine and his! Your behavior is unacceptable!”
The next thing Izuna knew he was standing outside of Senju Tobirama’s home with the door slamming behind him, the morning breeze pulling at his ponytail. His clouded features only darkened even more at being unceremoniously shoved away when he wasn’t even truly doing anything bad. What was so wrong about worrying? What was so wrong about protecting? Whatever that bastard had done to his brother he would be keeping a close eye on them both to figure it out – whether Madara knew it was good for him or not.
As the door rattled in its frame, nearly splintering with the force Madara had used to throw it closed, Tobirama hung awkwardly back a small distance, his arms crossed and his feet set apart like he was still ready for battle but trying not to show it.
“I should perhaps not have broken his nose,” he admitted reluctantly.
“No,” Madara waved off the hinted apology. “He attacked you. It was only instinct that you respond that way. I…cannot apologize enough on his behalf. I can’t imagine what has gotten in to him.”
Tobirama looked a little amused as he began to answer. “Obviously he is bothered by our…” Amusement dimmed then as his features took on a vaguely confused look. “Whatever we are to each other. He seems to think we are in some sort of romantic relationship? Or at the very least a physical one.”
“Eh-heh…” Madara was appalled by the awkward laugh that slipped out of him. “I’ve no idea where he got the impression.” He wanted to wince but held it in. Of course he’d gotten the idea from them lying in bed together! Tobirama gave him a considering expression.
“Do you wish to be?”
“I – what?”
His heart nearly stopped at the contemplative way Tobirama watched him, eyes slowly drifting down his body and back up. He seemed to be thinking deeply, possibly going back over their interactions in his mind, the memories they shared now.
“I asked if you wished to be in a romantic relationship with me. You seemed more embarrassed than upset by his assumptions and that’s unlike you – unless they’re true. Were you hoping for that?” His eyes widened with sudden realization. “Is that what you wished to speak with me about yesterday?”
Madara only barely held in a mortified whimper, closing his eyes in an attempt to will away the blush that was steadily darkening his cheeks.
“I…I may have…a certain…curiosity…towards the possibility…”
“Of romance. With me.”
“Curiosity towards something is not always indicative of a willingness to partake.”
“Would you talk like a normal human being for five minutes!?” Madara’s eyes flew open to glare at Tobirama, feeling like the younger man was simply jerking his chain around and not appreciating it. Tobirama blinked slowly at him, expressionless.
“You’re intrigued by the idea of fucking but are you interested in an actual relationship?” The younger man’s tone was dripping with attitude and if his arms weren’t crossed already he likely would have done so then. Instead he simply tilted his head and fixed Madara with a look that said ‘answer the damn question’.
Madara gaped, blindsided by the blunt phrasing, getting right to the heart of the matter with no beating around the bush. His cheeks darkened a few more shades and he had to force himself not to look away as he answered with nothing more than a faint, “Yes.”
Tobirama hummed, not saying anything at first, and Madara honestly worried that his heart might beat its way out of his chest. When the other man stepped forward to slowly close the few feet of distance between them he felt rooted to the spot, wanting to run but not daring to do so. He couldn’t bring himself to move as Tobirama approached him, step by step, with a face that was disturbingly empty of anything except a vaguely thoughtful expression.
He wasn’t expecting the hand that carded softly through his hair or for it to cup the side of his jaw. He wasn’t expecting the shine of those deep red eyes, nor the way his breath caught in his throat. He certainly wasn’t expecting Tobirama to kiss him without warning, simply leaning in and pressing their mouths together, effectively ending the world as he knew it.
It started slow, tentative, explorative, until Tobirama’s second hand came up to hold the other side of his jaw, framing his face and holding him still so Tobirama could tilt his head and use a new angle to deepen the kiss. Madara’s entire body felt suddenly weightless as he desperately kissed back, his arms encircling Tobirama’s waist and holding on as tightly as he dared to. He couldn’t think, couldn’t even be bothered to try. He wanted to disappear in to this moment and never have to face reality again.
He was utterly disappointed when Tobirama separated them, thumbs caressing the sides of his face to sooth the little noise of protest he couldn’t hold back. He opened his eyes to see the younger man now wearing a fond, indulgent expression, a secretive smile just for him.
“I find myself amenable to this,” Tobirama said quietly.
“Talk normal,” Madara grumbled at him. His companion chuckled.
“My apologies, allow me to try again.” He swooped in and startled Madara with a second kiss, swift and barely there before he was gone again. “Good morning. I like you too. Would you like to stay for breakfast again?”
Madara very much hoped that he wasn’t glowing or spilling out rainbows anywhere, though it certainly felt like he was. He didn’t even try to hide the besotted expression that fell over him as he nodded slightly.
“I’ll try to be less offensive today.”
The sound of Tobirama’s laughter was sweet; hearing it again was nearly a greater reward than the kiss.
Chapter 12: Puppy Love
Madara floated through two or three days as if he were walking on clouds, high up in the sky without a care in the world, and he truly did not care to come down. In fact, he didn’t until he was forced to.
Now well rested for the first time in a long time, he and Tobirama were both able to return to their usual duties and perform them without any danger to themselves or others, actually accomplishing things which had fallen to the wayside as their own personal drama unfolded. Madara found himself smiling during odd points in the day and it appeared to terrify those around him, though he wasn’t sure why. He wasn’t naturally the most cheerful person, he was very aware of that, but surely he should be allowed to smile once in a while?
At night he found himself drifting back to Tobirama’s home as a magnet is drawn to a lodestone. They shared nothing beyond a few kisses but being able to curl up with their bodies pressed together at night was like dreaming before he had even fallen asleep. Neither had ever slept so well as when they were comforted by the other’s presence and waking to Tobirama’s gentle smile directed at him was so very different now, as a man. Tobirama was smiling at him, not at him-as-a-dog, and it made all the difference in the world.
He was aware that Tobirama had not entirely come around to his feelings yet, not the same way that Madara had. Neither of them were particularly well versed in the art of emotions and if he was being honest Madara would admit that he was surprised that it had taken so little time for him to accept what was in his heart. On the other hand, he was not all that surprised at his own willingness to be patient as Tobirama explored those feelings. When an Uchiha loved, they loved completely and utterly. Having accepted the emotion he had now dedicated himself to it. He would give Tobirama all the time he desired and happily accept the small doses of affection bestowed upon him.
On the fourth day after Izuna had so rudely awakened them, however, reality butted its way in to his little bubble of happiness once again in the form of another sibling. He had been sitting in their shared office in the Tower for several hours, head bent to his paperwork and doing his best to ignore the conversation between the two Senju that were also present. He had snuck a glance over at Tobirama only ten minutes ago and was trying very hard to scold his brain in to accepting that it wasn’t absolutely vital that he do so again – not for another fifteen minutes at least; he wasn’t desperate.
He’d been losing this same battle all morning.
When Hashirama excused himself to go speak to one of the various secretaries that worked on the lower floors, Madara found he couldn’t help himself. He peeked up through his mass of spiky hair to find Tobirama looking back at him, both embarrassed to have been caught. The younger recovered more quickly, however, and he was smirking a bit as he slipped out of his desk and around to Madara’s, perching himself on top of it right next to the Uchiha’s knee.
“Hello,” he said in a quiet rumble. Madara fought back a sappy smile.
“What do you want, Senju?”
Tobirama didn’t buy his pretense at being annoyed for even a second. He crooked one finger and Madara was helpless to do anything but obey. Rising to his feet and leaning in close, he let his body slip in between Tobirama’s bent knees so they were flush against each other. Tobirama hummed in approval and pulled him in for a slow, deep kiss. Madara slid his fingers in to his partner’s hair, shivering under the hands that caressed his waist, and returned the kiss with as much enthusiasm as he dared.
What he really wanted was fingers gripping tightly, teeth biting, voices breaking. He would have swept the painstakingly organized stacks of paperwork off his desk in a heartbeat and pressed Tobirama down on to it if he were so bold – but didn’t. Instead he let Tobirama take his time, let him tilt their heads and gently run a soft tongue across Madara’s lips.
He had only just darted his own tongue out in response, trying to draw the other in to the fun kind of battle, when the door opened and both of them whipped their heads around in surprise, bodies freezing in place.
Hashirama made it four steps in before spotting them and the absentminded smile on his face slid off like water, replaced instead by over-dramatic shock.
“WHAAAAA?” The folder in his hands dropped, spilling its contents across the floor as he reached up to grip his own hair and tug on it in despair. “Madara what are you doing!? That’s my baby brother! Tobiramaaa!” Hashirama let out a strange wail that had both men wincing and pulling apart.
“You didn’t sense him coming?” Madara hissed as Hashirama waved his hands uselessly in a gesture that was apparently meant to encourage them to stand a little farther apart.
Tobirama gave him an amused look, only slightly bothered by the interruption. “I was paying attention to you.” Madara blinked, stunned in to momentary silence with how touched he was by that statement. He smiled at the younger man and, entirely forgetting Hashirama for a moment, moved to step closer again.
“NO!” Madara jumped at Hashirama’s voice. “No, no! Not my innocent little Tobi!”
Suddenly there were hands pulling him away and both of them rolled their eyes.
“I am twenty-five years old, brother,” Tobirama protested. “I’m hardly an innocent virgin.”
“Ahh! I can’t hear you! La la la!” Hashirama’s eyes looked a little wild as he took hold of his brother’s sleeve and pulled him off of Madara’s desk, attempting to hide the man away behind his own body. “I don’t want to see that kind of stuff! Not in front of me – never – not ever – no!”
“Don’t be such a child, brother. I am a grown man and my relationships are my own business!”
The two of them glared at each other until Hashirama seemed to realize that Tobirama would not bow before him – as if he ever did. So instead he rounded on Madara and raised an accusatory finger, mouth opened like he was going to make a point. Then he stopped, jaw snapping shut and chin wibbling.
“Wait…since when are you attracted to men? How did I not know this? Madara, I thought we were friends!” His wobbly pout was accompanied with his signature puppy eyes, wide and watery in an instant, and Madara fixed him with the most unimpressed look in his arsenal.
“I told you I was attracted to men years ago, you jackass,” he grunted. Tobirama lifted an eyebrow. Hashirama shook his head vehemently.
“You did not!” he denied. “I think I’d remember something that important!”
“Did so! When you were trying to set me up with that insufferable Yamanaka woman!”
“You just said she ‘wasn’t the type that you are attracted to’.”
“Because I’m attracted to men!”
Hashirama threw his hands up in the air. “How was I supposed to know that’s what you meant?” he cried.
“I would have understood,” Tobirama muttered, just loud enough that he obviously meant for the comment to be heard. Hashirama pouted at him.
“Well I still don’t want to see any kissing! No hanky-panky while I’m here!” Their village leader put his hands on his hips as his head swiveled back and forth, trying to eye them both at the same time. Madara sighed and sank in to his desk chair.
“To be fair,” Tobirama said, “you weren’t here.”
Madara snickered, not bothering to hide it when Hashirama glared at him. The glare faded quickly, as they were wont to do with the oldest Senju. Hashirama was not typically given to staying angry for long. Instead Madara found himself being scrutinized, almost sized up, and it didn’t take a genius to guess why.
“You won’t hurt him will you?” the brunet asked eventually. Madara bristled.
“Have you so little faith in your own best friend?” he snapped. “What reason would I have to hurt him?”
Instead of being embarrassed about his obvious lack of trust in Madara, Hashirama went on to give what must have been the longest and most tearful big brother speech in the history of big brothers. Both of the other two men in the room spent the next hour rolling their eyes and sneaking in some progress on their paperwork whenever Hashirama looked away for a moment in his endless soliloquy.
When it was finally over the two of them looked at each other and, without needing any words to come to an agreement, they both stood, gathered their paperwork, and left. Hashirama called after them, demanding to know where they were going. Neither of them answered him.
They brought their paperwork to the workshop behind Tobirama’s house, where an extra chair had already been dragged out for Madara to sit at the main workstation. They both accomplished much more work in the private silence of Tobirama’s personal space than they would have if they’d had to deal with Hashirama eyeing them suspiciously for the rest of the day. In fact, by the time Madara had worked his way through the entirety of the paperwork he had brought with him, Tobirama had begun looking over the notes he‘d jotted down a few days before about an experiment he had been meaning to do.
Feeling fidgety from sitting still for so long, Madara stood and walked slowly around the room towards the other man, fingers running over strange pieces of equipment that he could not fathom the use for. When he reached Tobirama he stopped to press a kiss just behind the younger man’s ear.
Tobirama looked up at him, blinking a few times in the way that said he had been concentrating deeply on whatever it was he was reading. Madara felt a little bad at pulling him out of it.
“My apologies,” he mumbled. “Should I let you get back to that?” He noticed his partner’s eyes tracing over his face, following the line of his jaw and down to his neck. He stayed very still, like movement would scare the younger man away. There was a strange light in those red eyes he had never seen before. When they settled on the pulse in his throat and stayed there, however, he felt a little concerned. “Tobirama?”
“Hungry,” the Senju breathed. Madara tilted his head and Tobirama coughed a little. “Are you hungry? We should get dinner started.”
“Alright…” Madara backed away to allow his partner to stand, eyes narrowed suspiciously. He doubted very much that dinner is what Tobirama had truly been thinking about but there really wasn’t any way for him to confirm that he was actually thinking of what Madara hoped he was. At least, not without being entirely too obvious about his own line of thinking and while he was indeed a blunt man, he preferred not to be so crass when he could help it.
The two of them made their way outside, walking very close to each other as they travelled down the little path which led through Tobirama’s backyard and up in to the house. Since the backdoor opened in to the kitchen Tobirama stopped there to begin preparing dinner. Madara shuffled off in the other direction to leave their completed paperwork in the living room.
With so much parchment in his arms his vison was obscured enough that he bumped his hip on the arm of the couch, making him grumble and pout. Once he had unloaded his burden on to the coffee table he rubbed at the area through his clothing and headed back towards the kitchen. As he passed behind the couch he had just enough time to register the sensation of his foot coming down on something before an unholy shrieking noise filled the air and Madara leapt three feet upwards, a battle cry on his tongue and two kunai appearing at hand out of pure instinct.
When he landed his eyes were wide, his lips pulled back in a snarl, and his heart was racing with unadulterated fear. It was not a sensation that he was used to and it took a few seconds for the surge of blood pounding in his ears to recede enough for him to hear his surroundings again.
What he heard was Tobirama howling with laughter.
The younger man was standing just inside the kitchen, in a perfect spot to have witnessed Madara’s little escapade. He had one hand on the wall to support himself and the other on his left knee as he laughed so hard one might fear he was in danger of a hernia. If Madara were in a better place he might have taken the time to appreciate such a sight – he was fairly sure not even Hashirama had seen the man laugh this hard before – but instead he flushed and looked down.
Not far from where he had hit the ground again there lay a small rubber chicken leg that tugged at his memory. And not in a good way. He remembered his first encounter with this devilry and how mortifying the results of that meeting had been. With all the ire he could muster he glowered at the man still chortling in the kitchen.
“Shut up!” he demanded, re-sheathing his blades. “What is the meaning of this?”
“I wondered where that had gone.” Tobirama only barely managed to stand up straight, wiping tears from the corners of his eyes with an absolutely beatific smile stretched across his face. “I honestly did not know it was there. It must have rolled out when you bumped the sofa.”
Madara chewed that over, trying to find fault in it. “You can stop laughing any time now!” he settled for eventually. Tobirama’s eyes squinted shut like he was trying not to start all over again. He came towards Madara with an affectionate look on his face, only to be rebuffed when the older man crossed his arms and turned away.
“If you’re only going to mock me you can very well stay away from me.”
“Hmm, if it were me you would have laughed just the same and you know that very well.” The traitor didn’t even sound sorry at all. Madara huffed and turned his face even further away, determined to hold on to his anger. His heart was still beating too fast and his battle instincts were still at the tips of his fingers, ready to leap in to action in an instant.
Which is why he was so surprised at his own lack of reaction when two strong arms slid around his waist to pull him back against a solid chest. Tobirama nuzzled in to his neck from behind, humming soothingly, and Madara melted back in to him without a thought.
“I don’t suppose there’s some way I can apologize?” he murmured, sending shivers down Madara’s spine.
“Y-you can’t just…” He trailed off when that nuzzle turned in to soft kisses along the top of his shoulder, making him curse how much skin the traditional Uchiha mantle covered. Tobirama chuckled low in his throat as he tugged Madara around in his arms and drew him in to a slow kiss. When they parted Madara swallowed thickly. “Don’t think you’re going to get out of every argument with just a kiss,” he said, trying to sound upset and failing miserably.
“Of course not,” Tobirama agreed easily. Madara had the impression that he wasn’t all that sincere but he was still a little dizzy from the kiss and so couldn’t order his thoughts enough to care too much. Tobirama placed one last kiss on the corner of his mouth and asked, “So, dinner?”
Madara agreed only to prevent himself from throwing his own body at Tobirama like some desperate lovelorn adolescent.
Chapter 13: Bare Your Teeth And Come To Heel
Madara’s morning started with the sound of Tobirama’s heartbeat beneath his ear. When he managed to shift and look up he was met with Tobirama’s sleepy smile and a gravelly ‘good morning’ which never failed to send pleasant shivers down his spine. They ate breakfast together with Tobirama, who was somehow already coherent enough to pick up the thoughts he had put down the night before, telling Madara about the experiment he planned to work on that day. Madara listened to his partner speak, understanding perhaps a generous three-quarters of what the man was talking about, and smiled like the smitten fool he was.
They parted ways after their morning meal, though not before Madara pulled Tobirama in for a kiss, which turned in to a second kiss, which ended with himself pressed against the kitchen counter while Tobirama ravaged his mouth. He came away dazed, leaving the house with a slight fumble in his step and a goofy expression he wasn’t aware was there.
Before taking care of anything else Madara returned to his own home to shower and dress himself in fresh clothing. Since Konoha had been built and he had gotten used to not having to constantly be ready for battle, he had reluctantly stopped wearing his red armor every day in an effort to show the people that he did truly believe that this peace could last. He had instead taken up the habit of dressing in the traditional high collared robes of his clan, usually in a shade of purple. Today his fingers deviated from their usual paths and only after he had donned his clothing did he noticed he was wearing black pants and a purple kimono shirt. It was an outfit similar to what Tobirama typically wore and he wondered when he had even acquired such clothing.
Thinking that he would match his partner, if only in style, made him grin. He decided against changing again and set about taking care of the laundry that had been building up over the last while. As clan head it would have been certainly within his rights to ask a lesser member to take care of it for him; it was a common chore for the Uchiha children to wash the laundry of their elders. Madara, however, had never liked the idea of another person handling his dirty underthings. He always had the sensation of someone else’s hands upon his body when he wore the clothes afterwards and ended up rewashing them himself anyway.
He barely had enough time to finish his task before he needed to leave again, heading towards the meeting hall on the western side of the compound where he was scheduled to meet with some of the elders of his clan.
When he arrived he was satisfied to see Elder Kazuhiko keeping his eyes lowered respectfully. Evidently the old man had learned his lesson from their last encounter. He was not satisfied in the slightest to see Izuna present as well, arms crossed as he leaned back in his chair and both eyes closed tightly in a manner which did not speak of being tired. The entirety of his body language screamed ‘fuck off’ to anyone who looked at him and Madara could already smell trouble from the doorway.
“Madara-sama,” one of the other elders greeted him. “We thank you for meeting us this morning.”
“Hn.” Madara stepped further in to the room with a stony face, his eyes on his brother. They had all gathered around a large meeting table and Izuna’s seat was almost directly opposite his own, giving him the perfect view of the younger man’s reaction when he opened his eyes and took in Madara’s appearance for the first time. His left eye twitched and the muscles in his jaw jumped as he ground his teeth.
“Disgusting,” Izuna growled. Madara narrowed his eyes while the aged lady next to Izuna laid a hand on his arm.
“Peace child,” she said. “You have brought your concerns before us and as is proper we shall bring them to your head of clan. Let us do this in the correct manner.” As Madara slid in to his seat the woman turned to him with a genial smile. “A member of our clan has brought their concerns to us, Madara-sama, and they directly involve you. We requested this meeting to address those concerns, if you will hear them now?”
Madara was grinding his own teeth as well when he bit out a formulaic reply, “I will hear them.”
“Uchiha Izuna has brought to us the concern that you have been negligent in your duties to your clan. He states that he has observed you being intimate with an individual who is not appropriate for one such as yourself. He is worried that this person has undue influence over you and will encourage you to make decisions which go against the morality and spirit of the clan.”
By the time she had finished speaking Madara was nearly shaking in his chair with barely contained rage. He pulled his chakra in tightly to himself but was unable to help the sharp spikes that lashed out in the space around him, whipping the air with darkness and anger and hurt.
“I have heard the concerns of Uchiha Izuna,” he spat, grounding himself in the formality of the meeting.
“How do you respond?” It was Elder Miyako who asked, her eyes boldly meeting his own. He could see the thrill of petty glee in them. She, it seemed, did not come away from their last meeting fully cowed. She was obviously all too thrilled to have an opportunity like this to bring him down a proverbial peg or two. He was more than happy to disappoint her.
“Has Uchiha Izuna by any chance provided the name of this person of supposed poor influence?” he asked, his voice deceptively mild but with undertones which blazed so hot he might have set the very air on fire with his words.
“He has not,” Miyako replied, some of the glee draining from her eyes to be replaced with suspicion.
Madara hummed. “I shall present my reply without naming this person to prevent a bias.” Izuna’s head shot up, revealing him to be wearing a heavy scowl. “Allow me to start by refuting the claim that I have been neglectful of my duties as clan head as a direct result of spending time with this person. It is common knowledge that in the weeks following my return to the village I was not well. Any failure to perform my duties to the usual standard were a direct result of sleep deprivation and a lack of concentration due to recent memory loss. I also wish to state that these symptoms have passed and are no longer a concern. I have returned to my duties and have not lacked in them for the past week.”
“Your reply on the matter has been noted,” the elder beside Izuna told him serenely. He nodded to her before continuing.
“To the claim that this person has undue influence over me I present the reply: hogwash. This person has no influence over clan matters and has presented not a single opinion on them. Nor have I any interest in the matters of their clan. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this person has had a positive influence on me. It would have been quite easy to observe the changes in myself over the last few days, as I am sure Izuna has done. This person has relieved me of much stress, allowing me to approach my work and my fellow clan members with a clearer head and the sort of cordial attitude I have been unable to attain in the past. This person has made me happy.”
“Your reply has been noted,” the same elder intoned, a smile twitching at the corners of her mouth.
“To the claim that this person will encourage me to make decisions which go against the morality and spirit of the clan I say that this is also false. Never has this person expressed themselves to be an immoral person. There have been, admittedly, things upon which we have disagreed. However, it is a lie to say that they have ever committed an act which an Uchiha would not also have done when faced with the same situation. This person is just, fair, and well beloved both within their own clan and without.”
“Your reply has been-”
“That’s enough!” Izuna leapt to his feet, his chair falling backwards with a loud clatter. “You’re being stupid! How can you stand there and sing his praises like this? You know exactly what he is; he’s a demon!”
Madara fixed him with a flat look, entirely unimpressed with how childish his younger sibling continued to be. He rose to his feet as well yet it was not him who answered the outburst.
“Him?” Miyako parroted. “I formally request that you reveal this person’s identity now, Madara-sama, that we may take all evidence in to account.”
“Evidence,” Madara said darkly. “I am not on trial and it will not behoove you to try and intimidate me by making it seem as though I am.”
“Well maybe you should be!” Izuna slammed one fist down on the table top, causing several elders to startle. “Don’t you sit there and tell me he hasn’t had any influence over you, brother! You’re even dressing like him now, for kami’s sake!”
The old woman next to him patted his sleeve as if that were meant to calm him down and his arms shook like he was only barely holding in the urge to smack her hand away. Madara glared at him, taking a moment to pull a tighter leash around his own temper and trying desperately not to respond in kind to his brother’s heated outbursts.
“The name of this mystery man, Madara-sama?” Miyako prompted him. He cast her an icy look.
“I have entered in to a relationship with Senju Tobirama. Is that noted, Elder Miyako?” He took great pleasure in watched all remaining smug glee drain from her face. Her eyes widened a little in fear.
“He can’t give you heirs!” Izuna suddenly cried. “Ha!”
“As I have already admitted a proclivity towards members of the same sex”–Madara looked his brother dead in the eye–“I declared you heir apparent several years ago and have since been keeping my eye out for someone young to train should you no longer be living or fit for the position. The way things currently stand, the second is looking more true with each day.”
“He almost killed me!”
“He saved your life!”
Madara lost control of himself at last, angry chakra breaking free to fill the room with his rage, with the betrayal he felt. He dare his own brother throw his sexual orientation back in his face? How dare his own brother try to take from him the one thing that had finally made him happy? That had finally given him a sense of peace? From the moment Konoha had been built he’d been restless, a being built for war forced in to the role of peacekeeper. Being with Tobirama made him feel grounded, gave him a reason to keep that peace, to stay still and learn calm.
Now Izuna, the one person he had trusted to watch his back for so many years, had taken a kunai and twisted it straight in to that same back. He relished in the way the younger man took a step away from him, shock open on his face.
“Saved my life? When!?”
“Did you think it was an accident?” Madara demanded mockingly. “Did you think he missed that day? He is the pride of the Senju clan; he never misses. He could have killed you that day and he chose not to. I have wasted too many years with pointless anger on your behalf when I could have discovered him for who he truly is years ago; I could have fallen in love years ago!” He couldn’t remember the last time he’d spoken so much in the space of half an hour. And had he really only been in the room that long?
“Love?” Izuna said faintly. Madara glared, daring him to say something about it.
“Yes, love. I am in love with Tobirama. I will continue to love Tobirama. If I want to I will marry the bloody stubborn idiot and not one of you in this room can say a damn thing about it. Now.” He cast his eyes over the room, noting that many could not hold his gaze for long. “Are there any more…concerns?”
Some heads shook side to side frantically while others simply sat still, like a hutch of rabbits hoping not to be spotted by a hawk.
“Madara-sama has met the concerns of Uchiha Izuna and laid them to rest,” Miyako intoned in a shaking voice. Madara sneered at her.
Without waiting for the official announcement that the meeting had come to an end, Madara spun on his heel and strode from the room. Several Uchiha leapt out of his way when they saw him come storming down the road with such an angry expression on his face. He paid them no mind, his vision tunneled in front of him as he headed straight for the training grounds.
He tore the earth apart with a wicked doton. He razed the grass with the hottest fire jutsu he could think of, the biggest fireballs he was capable of. He tore several trees to splinters with nothing but his bare hands. He decimated the wooden boards meant for light target practice by charging his projectiles with biting chakra. He stomped and punched and kicked and screamed out his frustration and in the end he had ruined yet another training ground and felt no better for it.
In two hours of allowing his temper to run loose he had accomplished nothing more than creating another D-rank mission for the village to task to a team of genin. By tomorrow there would be children scrambling through here trying to set the place to rights again and erase the havoc he had wreaked.
Still feeling dark and angry and tense, Madara headed towards the one place that seemed like a beacon of light in that moment: Tobirama’s.
The new seals on the front door melted away at his touch, recognizing his chakra and allowing him entry. He rearmed them behind himself and made his way through the house, out the back door, and past the back gate. Even following this familiar path was already smoothing the edges of his still spiking chakra.
When he entered the workspace Tobirama had his head bent over a large scroll, painstakingly inking a very precise diagram of whatever was happening in the various glass containers in front of him. Madara stomped around the edges of the room, brow furrowed and body restless. He wanted to be here but now that he was he didn’t know what to do with himself. He looked around at all the things he kept meaning to ask about, knowing it was safer not to touch any of them until he understood what they did. Then he huffed and dragged his chair around to sit on the same side of the table as Tobirama.
He hunched over on his perch, elbows on his knees and chin resting on one fist. His mind whirled in circles around the meeting he had barely escaped without causing significant bodily harm to someone. Izuna, preferably, but he would have settled for maiming one of the nosy elders who had encouraged that farce.
Madara was startled enough to let out a small squawk when his chair began to move without warning. He clung to it and looked down to see that Tobirama had reached out a foot, hooking one of his chair legs with which to drag him closer. The younger hadn’t even looked up, still busily detailing his work with a fine brush and some green ink. When the movement stopped, his chair was right up against the left side of Tobirama’s with their legs pressed together.
He held still and tense until Tobirama’s left hand landed on his thigh, thumb stroking in soothing circles. Then suddenly he was melting, tension running from his shoulders like water and the darkness of his chakra dissipating until all he felt was empty. He expelled his bad mood with a giant puff of air and collapsed in on himself, resting his head on Tobirama’s shoulder and closing his eyes.
Tobirama simply continued to work, his warm smile going unseen. He would ask his questions later.
Chapter 14: In Heat
Amazing art now in place! And oh my how amazing it is!
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Something felt different.
Madara couldn’t put his finger on it but there was just something in the air that felt new, unexplored. They were doing nothing more than eating dinner and it wasn’t as if the two of them had never eaten dinner together. It was becoming increasingly common since Madara continued to return to Tobirama’s home night after night, seeming to arrive earlier and earlier each day. It felt like coming home more so than it did when he returned to his own lonely living quarters in the Uchiha district.
He wondered what people would say if he moved out of his designated clan area. Tobirama lived just on the edges of the Senju housing area where it began to mix with civilians and those who did not belong to the larger clans. Madara was pretty sure that the location was neutral enough. He was also fairly sure that it was a bit presumptuous of him to be thinking of moving in without even discussing it with his partner. Perhaps they really should talk about it soon but he was content to wait until Tobirama seemed comfortable opening the subject. Until then Madara would enjoy this strange in-between stage where he returned to his own house only to change and fetch the occasional book or something, studiously ignoring Izuna whenever his brother happened to be present.
When he tuned back in to the conversation Tobirama was halfway through telling him that he had funny looking feet. Madara scowled, confused and a little affronted.
“I beg your pardon?”
“You stopped listening,” the younger man said with an unrepentant smirk. “You didn’t respond to your name so I thought perhaps a few insults would shake you from your stupor. You didn’t hear the first three but I assure you they were just as funny – and just as true.”
“My feet are not funny looking!” Madara insisted. Tobirama tilted his head to look under the table and gave a slight shrug.
“Long and thin. I’d say they matched the rest of you but I can’t see the rest of you so…” He trailed off with a light shrug, standing and gathering their dishes to bring them over to the sink. Madara stood as well and crossed his arms, unsure how he wanted to respond but feeling that he should say at least something in his own defense.
He hadn’t figured it out yet by the time Tobirama turned back around and he was further distracted from thinking up a rebuttal by hands sliding around his hips, pulling him in close for the younger man to kiss him. He was lost when Tobirama brush their tongues together, emptying his head of all useful thoughts other than ‘he tastes good’. Madara held in a moan through sheer force of will but allowed himself to step closer until the hands griping him had glided around to the small of his back, caressing small circles.
When Tobirama walked forward carefully Madara stepped back in time, willing to be led wherever the other wanted. He found himself up against a wall and gasping involuntarily as Tobirama rolled his hips forward, grinding their burgeoning erections together.
“I think I would rather enjoy seeing the rest of you,” the Senju said, his voice deep and hoarse with excitement. Madara shuddered.
“Don’t you dare start something you’re not intending to finish,” he growled.
Tobirama practically purred against him and circled his hips again. “Do I ever start something I do not intend to finish?”
Madara’s head thudded back against the wall but he barely even registered the sensation. He was too caught up in the teeth that had just sunk in to his neck and the lips that closed around the area, sucking what was sure to be a dark red mark in to his skin. He barely even heard his own stifled noises as their hips continued to rock together, teasing him through – in his opinion – too many layers of fabric.
Without warning he was suddenly pulled away from the wall. They stumbled down the hall together in a mess of sloppy kisses and groping hands, bursting in to the bedroom and falling on the bed in a happy tangle. Clothes seemed to disappear from Madara’s body without him truly paying attention to who was pulling them off. All he cared about was the pale skin against his own as a naked Tobirama settled between his knees, wrapping his legs around a trim waist to rock their hips together like before.
This time it was a hundred times better. This time he could not hold in the moan as Tobirama’s erection ground down on to his own with nothing to separate them, just hard flesh stroking hard flesh and making him arch his back in pleasure. His eyes stayed open, locked on Tobirama’s face and watching the way that pale skin slowly flushed with arousal. He almost couldn’t believe this was happening, it was all occurring so quickly.
The rhythm of their hips was broken when Tobirama leaned away from him momentarily and Madara growled thoughtlessly, not happy to stop the sensations that had been building up. Tobirama smirked at him and leaned down to bite at his neck again.
“Patience is a virtue,” he heard the younger man mumble. Then, “Dara-chan.”
Madara snarled. “Fuck you.”
“I’d rather fuck you.”
His eyes widened a split second before a slick finger brushed against his entrance. His entire body jerked in surprise and he let out a quiet cry, almost a keen for more. His eyes fell shut against the smug expression on his partner’s face that once again he had been rendered unable to retaliate with snappish words. As one finger slid in up to the first knuckle, he decided he didn’t care. Tobirama could tease him all he liked so long as he didn’t stop whatever was going on down below.
With a whine he pressed back for more and was graciously granted a second finger, both moving slowly in and out of his tight hole – but only to the first knuckle. He pressed back again, panting and refusing to vocalize his desires. He wanted those fingers deeper, harder. Needed it a mortifying amount. He needed Tobirama to stretch him out and fill him, to fuck him and claim him and empty his mind of anything but the rapture in his body.
Tobirama, however, remained as in control of himself as ever and he seemed to take great delight in his ability to tease Madara without repercussion. He spread his two fingers every time he drew them outwards, scissors them to stretch the entrance and yet never delving any deeper. The older man clenched his teeth in an effort not to just beg for what he wanted, instead twisting and squirming to try and force himself down upon the intrusion. Tobirama gave in just as Madara pressed himself back, letting both fingers drive in as far as they could and striking Madara’s prostate firmly.
“Fuck!” The word burst from him, trailing off into an elongated sob as suddenly there were three fingers pressing in, reaching deep inside to impact that delicious spot within him over and over again until his eyes were crossed beneath their lids.
“That’s it,” Tobirama purred encouragingly above him. Madara could feel the other’s gaze on himself, knew he was being watched closely, yet he could do no more than pant and groan while his fingers twisted in the sheets, hanging on for dear life. He bit his lip to stop more words from spilling out, too proud to beg and too embarrassed to say how good it felt. While he was no blushing virgin, he’d only done this a few times before and it had been a long time since his last attempt at a relationship. If memory served – and Madara had a good memory – no one else had made him feel this good before. And this was only with a few fingers. His entire body clenched for a moment in anticipation of what was to come.
He was stretched out by a fourth finger only briefly before he was left empty without warning, his hole twitching in want of something to fill it. He didn’t bother complaining but cracked one eye open to watch Tobirama slick himself with lube. The sight of him wrapping a hand around his own erection did strange things to Madara’s insides and he wondered if the younger man might let him watch just that sometime.
The idea was fleeting though as he was distracted only moments later by the press of a blunt cockhead to his stretched opening. Tobirama reached under his knees and lifted his legs until he was nearly folded in half, sinking in to him at the same time. As the head breached him he heard the younger man moan faintly.
“Should have known you’d have a tight ass,” Tobirama muttered, his voice nearly a growl.
“Bastard…” Madara’s retort had very little edge to it, breathless as he was and unable to concentrate. He may have been distracted by the cock filling him slowly, inch by inch, stretching him just a little wider than he’d ever been stretched before. After Tobirama’s careful preparation it burned only slightly but that small bit made it so much better. It highlighted the bone-melting pleasure running through him, making him thrash weakly and reach up to clamp his fingers around Tobirama’s biceps.
His partner groaned again when he was fully seated, dropping his head to rest against Madara’s shoulder for a moment before slowly pulling back out.
Madara did not expect him to slam back inside with a forceful snap of his hips. He howled in ecstasy, head thrown back to bare his throat. Tobirama immediately took advantage of this with teeth clamping down on Madara’s thundering pulse while he took up a steady, powerful rhythm that shook the bed underneath them.
Pinned and unable to do more than writhe, Madara finally opened both of his eyes again, staring sightlessly at the ceiling. The air was thick with panting breaths and the occasional choked off moan. Neither of them appeared to be the type to be overly vocal in bed but it felt so good; all sorts of interesting noises could be heard from them both, escaping their normally iron self-control. Tobirama grunted and groaned at the tight pressure surrounding his cock. Madara keened for more and gasped when it was given. Together the two of them made a coordinated hot mess.
Still half-blind with sensation, the older man loosened his grip on Tobirama’s arms only to slide hands around his neck and pull him down in to a heated kiss. It was hard to do it gracefully through the almost violent motions of their entwined bodies and it pressed his knees flush against his own chest but he could not have cared less. He bit at Tobirama’s lips, sucking on the afterward to relieve the sting. He took from Tobirama just as he took what Tobirama was giving to him, vicious and demanding and not apologizing for it in the slightest. He’d been wanting this since he first admitted his feelings to himself and by kami now that he had it he was going to enjoy it in any way he liked.
Tobirama broke their kiss after a minute, much to Madara’s displeasure. He leaned back until he was kneeling upright, taking hold of the older man’s hips and driving in to him with even more force than before. Sweat glistened on his forehead and chest and his muscles rippled with every undulation of his body.
“Stroke yourself,” he bit out from between gritted teeth. Madara shuddered and did as he was commanded without question, a testament to how far gone he was over this person. He took himself in hand with frantic strokes, trying to match the faltering rhythm they were rocking to.
Sharp, short cries escaped him with each time Tobirama sank in to him, striking his prostate dead on and making him twitch and jerk. His hand sped up as heat gathered in his abdomen. Madara could feel himself clenching tighter, muscles stiffening as he rose higher and higher, closer and closer to his peak. His undoing was Tobirama dropping his head back and letting out a desperate noise as he neared his own orgasm. Just the sound of it, just the knowledge that it was Madara who had wrung such a noise from him, sent him straight over the edge.
He came with his teeth clenching nearly as hard as his hole suddenly clamped down on the cock stretching him open. Tobirama grunted, thrust twice more, and then shuddered violently with a broken gasp, falling in to his own rapture. He let go of Madara’s legs to set both hands on the mattress either side of the older man’s head, letting his weight drop on to his arms and his head hang low as the waves of bliss washed through him, hips twitching as he milked himself in the ass gripping his cock.
Madara panted underneath him, dazed. He felt drained in the best possible way, body languid as if it had never known tension. Even as Tobirama softened inside him he still felt pleasantly stuffed and he had no desire for either of them to move at the moment. Tobirama seemed to share the sentiment, although he did allow enough movement to lean down and press lazy kisses to Madara’s still parted lips. It took the Uchiha a moment to respond and when he did he released a rumbling, satisfied hum.
“I hadn’t really planned for this,” Tobirama admitted quietly against his mouth. “Well, not exactly. However, I cannot say that I find myself disappointed.”
“Better not be,” Madara mumbled, unable to muster the energy to even pretend to be huffy. Tobirama smiled fondly at him.
“Next time I’ll fuck you in to the mattress and see how coherent you come out of the experience.” Madara was mostly just attempting to be snarky when he didn’t really have the energy for it. He jumped a little when sharp teeth nipped at his ear.
“I would not be disappointed by that, either.”
He swallowed thickly, images of Tobirama bent over with Madara’s cock in his ass filling his inner mind. None of his previous partners had been willing to switch before. The idea was nearly enough to cause him to swell again until his thoughts were derailed with wide yawn. Tobirama chuckled, slowly pulling out of him and causing him to wince slightly at the sticky feeling of it.
The younger man insisted upon cleaning Madara himself with gentle strokes of a damp cloth which he retrieved from the bathroom. Afterwards he collapsed in to the bed beside Madara and pulled the covers over them both. It was perhaps a bit early for them to be going to sleep but the idea of getting up and finishing the day was something that neither of them were willing to entertain. An early night seemed the more preferable option.
Especially, Madara thought to himself, if it meant cuddling. The world as a whole would likely faint with shock to discover how much of a secret cuddle-hoarder he was. It was a good thing that no one else would ever know. His smile was very self-satisfied as he curled himself around Tobirama’s side and laid his head down on a pale chest that was still breathing a bit heavily. It was a special kind of delight to do this naked, to feel their skin pressed together from head to toe with nothing in between their bodies. Nothing existed in that moment outside of their own little world. No worries, no unresolved tension between siblings, no nosey friends asking a hundred inappropriate questions.
Madara felt Tobirama run a hand through his hair and he smiled, letting himself slowly drift off. The next time something felt different at dinner he would embrace it with excited anticipation. Obviously it could only lead to good things.
Ohoho if you did not expect this chapter then either you didn't notice the rating or you don't know my writing ;)
Chapter 15: Give 'Em The Puppy Eyes
The final chapter! All your reviews have been amazing, thank you all so much!
Tobirama muttered lowly to himself as he rummaged through the pages spread out before him. He knew exactly what he was looking for but he couldn’t say for sure where he had left it. He remembered he’d been working on it here in his workshop before Madara had found him and distracted him with a kiss, as the older man had developed a habit of doing. Unsurprisingly, the kiss had turned heated and before either of them had time to slow things down they’d been naked and sprawled across the workshop floor, papers scattered all around them.
He was smirking at the memory, already a little hot under the collar just from thinking about it, when his eyes finally landed on what he was looking for. With a low noise of triumph he snatched it up and eyed the rest of the mess. Difficult decision though it was, he decided it would all have to wait for later.
As much as it irked him to leave his work space in such a cluttered state, he didn’t have time at the moment to set things in order at the moment. He and Madara were supposed to be finishing the paperwork for the new Academy, looking over everything one last time before giving the official approval to begin putting it all together. They’d hit a snag a short while ago when they noticed this form missing but now that he had it he could march himself back over to the main house where his lover was waiting.
Tobirama smiled at the image of his home as he stepped out of the trees and in to his backyard. The windows were lit up from the inside, light chasing away the shadows of encroaching dawn, and the very sight of it warmed his heart. It had been an odd thing to have to get used to, having someone to welcome him when he returned home, someone to pull his head out of his experiments to make sure he ate and slept. Before everything that had happened between them he never would have pegged Madara for the caring type and yet now he was quickly coming to rely on the older man. It was strange – but he loved it.
When he stepped in to the house this time it was to see the back of Madara’s neck as the man hunched over a mound of paperwork on the living room table. He‘d only been gone a few minutes, after all, hardly long enough to warrant an enthusiastic greeting at the door. Madara grunted his thanks as Tobirama strode over and settled beside him, handing over the paper he had retrieved.
Morning slowly turned past the noon hour while they continued to organize, touch up, edit, and debate small details which might seem insignificant now but could have large impacts later down the road. Finally Madara sat back against the couch, looked from one end of the table to the other, and grinned to himself in smug satisfaction.
“I think that’s everything,” he announced. Tobirama looked over the spread before them as well and nodded slowly.
Lifting a nearby inkwell, his hand flitted through several signatures to add the final touch. Then he dropped the brush and set a cap on the inkwell, pushing it farther away where it wouldn’t be in danger of getting knocked over by a stray elbow.
“Excellent,” he said. With a smile he leaned over and circled an arm around Madara’s waist, resting his lips against the man’s ear to whisper in to it. “It took me quite some time to find that paper out of the mess you made. I think I’m going to demand recompense for that later.”
Madara shivered in his hold and Tobirama heard the muffled whimper that he tried to hide. “Recompense?”
“Mm. I want you on your knees like you had me last night. I want to take you from behind and hear you howling my name.”
“I am not a dog.” Madara’s protest was weakened by the hitch in his breath and the flush on his cheeks. Tobirama chuckled, leaning forward to catch his mouth in a kiss.
Then he was pulling away before he could barely sink it, looking down towards the front hall with a suspicious frown. Madara groused, pulling on his shirt to drag him back, but he resisted. “We have company.”
As soon as he said it a knock could be heard from the front door and Madara scowled at having their private time interrupted. Technically they were actually supposed to be working but that didn’t stop him from clenching his fists in annoyance as he rose to his feet and stormed down the entrance hallway, not even bothering to ask Tobirama who it was. The younger man drifted along behind him.
When Madara pulled the door open Tobirama had the thought that he really should have told his partner who was on the other side. Perhaps Madara would have at least been able to prepare himself for the sight of Izuna standing on the front step looking like a perfect crossbreed between sad puppy and angry territorial cat. For a few moments both brothers stood and stared at each other in surprise, neither having expected the other to be there.
Eventually Izuna huffed and looked away, crossing his arms defensively. Madara’s face fell back in to his customary scowl and he crossed his arms as well.
“Can I help you?” he asked. Izuna twitched.
“I came to see Tobirama,” he choked out. It sounded like each word had cost him dearly, to admit to such a thing. Tobirama bit his tongue in an effort to keep his comments to himself. “I was going to go see you after…”
“Well you’re here now. Might as well come in.” Madara turned and stomped back down the hall, leaving Tobirama and Izuna to eye each other in an evaluating manner, sizing up their supposed opponent.
The Uchiha seemed perplexed that Madara was the one inviting him in when it wasn’t even his home. If he were to be honest, Tobirama pretty much thought of his house as theirs now. Madara never seemed to go back to his own domicile anymore and when he did Tobirama missed him. It might be considered moving too fast to immediately jump to living together but neither of them were terribly smart with interpersonal relationships. If this is what worked for them he wasn’t going to throw things in to doubt by questioning it.
He turned and followed Madara down the hall without a word to their impromptu guest, assuming that he would follow. Which Izuna did, muttering to himself the whole way.
Once they had all gathered in the living room Izuna cast a curious eye over the work sitting out before turning to the two of them. He squared his shoulders and took a deep breath, obviously mentally psyching himself up for what he wanted to say, then paused to let his throat work soundlessly like he was choking on the words. Madara huffed impatiently but Tobirama waited with interest. He was only a little surprised when their guest met his eyes head on.
“My brother says he’s in love with you.”
Tobirama stood very, very still. He had come to that conclusion himself, of course, but neither of them had spoken those words to each other as of yet.
“Shut up, I’m talking!” Madara subsided with apoplectic choking noises and Izuna rolled his eyes before looking back to Tobirama. “Hmph. He says you make him happy. And…and that you…saved me. Or whatever.” He made a sound of disgust and looked away, glaring at the wall. “Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that if you hurt him there is nothing in this world that will save your sorry hide. But…my brother hasn’t been truly happy in a long time. And if you’re what does make him happy then I guess I won’t try to kill you yet.” He looked up to shake a threatening finger in Tobirama’s direction. “I don’t like it! But I won’t try to stop it. As long as you treat him nice! He likes sushi and his favorite color is purple and he gets headaches. All the time. So you can’t be loud or anything or you’ll make it worse!”
Tobirama wasn’t really sure how to describe how he felt as Madara dove across the living room to cut his little brother off, the two of them squabbling back and forth. Madara’s ears were a fierce shade of red with matching spots on his cheeks and Tobirama felt a little faint. Had he just gotten Izuna’s blessing or had he just been threatened with death? He wasn’t sure. Both, it seemed.
Madara wrestled his brother in to the kitchen, away from Tobirama, where they stood close and murmured in low sharp tones for a very long time. Both of their faces showed a startling range of emotions and Izuna could be heard muttering a soft “I’m sorry”, to the surprise of all. Tobirama again found himself waiting patiently until the older of the two suddenly pulled his sibling in for a tight hug that made all three of them smile.
Izuna made sure to glare at Tobirama again as he left, of course. And he left only with great reluctance. Although he had professed to being able to accept their relationship – albeit grudgingly – he now seemed to think it was his duty to play chaperone. Madara disabused him of that notion rather quickly by forcefully shoving him down the hall and out the door. He was still shouting a strange mixture of threats and dating advice when the door closed in his face.
Tobirama took a slow breath in, gathering his thoughts.
“Shut up!” Madara groused, stomping past him. Tobirama smiled, catching his lover’s arm and pulling him back until he could wrap his arms around that muscular waist from behind.
“Madara,” he murmured. Something in his tone made the other go still, sinking back in to his embrace. “Was he right?”
There was no need to clarify what he meant. His partner swallowed audibly, the blush returning quickly to heat the tips of his ears.
“Yes. Of course.”
“Hmm.” He rested his forehead against the back of Madara’s head, breathing in the scent of his hair. “I love you too, you know.”
The way Madara’s breathing went shaky for a few moments made his heart clench. He meant it more than he could say, those three little words. By the gods he loved this man. He couldn’t even say for sure when he had fallen in love or when his heart had decided to lay itself at Madara’s feet. Was it before all this had happened? Was it when he realized that there was more to this man than he had let himself see in the past? He had no idea. What he did know was that he was eternally grateful for whatever forced had encouraged him to open his eyes and really look.
“I’m glad you interrupted me that day. I’m glad that we are here.” He smiled as Madara huffed in awkward response. The older man never was good with facing his emotions.
“I don’t even remember what I was there for.”
“You were grumbling about the thought of your clansmen serving as a police force for the village.”
He almost regretted his words when Madara pulled away from him with an offended screech. Almost. The adorably flustered look on his face was worth it, though he would never say so out loud.
“You-! Yes! I’d forgotten that but – ugh! How can you even ask such a thing? It is an insult! My clansmen are worth more than to be used as just a fancy guard system!” He ranted on and on until Tobirama sighed and silenced him with a kiss. Not to shut him up but to remind him that other people were allowed to get a word in edgewise too. When they pulled apart Madara looked ready to steam at the ears, opening his mouth to keep rambling, but Tobirama cut him off.
“May I speak for a moment? Madara, it was suggestion. You are welcome to help me refine the idea. I proposed it because I truly believe it to be something your clan would be good at. Investigations, seeing through deception, preventing injuries and escalations, protection. These are all things that your clan excels at.”
“But we are more than that!”
“I know,” he agreed in a placating manner. “So build on the idea then. Perhaps it should be a joint effort? The Yamanaka and Hyuga clans have much they could bring to such an endeavor, not to mention the Inuzuka. The Nara are famed for their intellect, as well as the Hatake. Each clan could provide a certain number of shinobi to fill the ranks. They could serve on rotation, even, to allow them to also take missions outside the village if they wished. I agree that removing your entire clan from the active duty roster would be a large mistake.”
Madara frowned at him, his lower lip jutting out in a pout. “I hate it when you do that.” Tobirama blinked in surprise.
“Be reasonable. I was angry and then you started making sense. You’re not supposed to do that. You’re supposed to fight me, you nincompoop.”
Tobirama dropped his head on to Madara shoulders and laughed, his chest heaving and his smile so wide it nearly hurt. “You are a ridiculous man,” he said. “And I hope you never change.”
Madara grumbled while color rose on his face again. He squirmed and complained and Tobirama held him tightly, not letting him get away. He rained kisses across his partner’s face until Madara’s grumbling turned in to a needy whine. Only then did Tobirama let their lips meet, ravaging his mouth with heated fervor until they were both groaning and stumbling backwards.
As he pressed the older man up against the wall and started to pull at the edges of his clothing, Tobirama spared a thought for the paperwork still waiting for them in the living room. They really should deliver it. It was important and it absolutely needed to be turned in as soon as possible. Then Madara’s fingers slid below the waistband of his trousers and he reasoned that a few hours couldn’t hurt that much. They mostly just needed to be in by the end of today. Surely no one would really noticed if they showed up late afternoon instead of midday?
Their clothes fell off of them piece by piece as the two of them pushed each other down the hallway and Tobirama reveled in the smile that clung to the edges of Madara’s mouth. It had been an accident that brought them together and a lot of awkward fumbling that kept them together along the way. Only a few months ago he would never have been able to conceive of how happy he would be to have Uchiha Madara in his life like this. Nor how touched he would be to know how happy Madara was to be here with him.
But now, he realized as he pressed his love in to the sheets, he knew that this was where they were meant to be. And he would fight until his dying breath to protect the happiness that they had wrought together.
Not that any of that was going to stop him from teasing Madara with every terrible dog pun he could think of for the rest of their lives.