It was four years after Toka's near death experience and Sakura was sixteen now. She didn't feel sixteen though, she felt decades older. It was always that way after a bout with her master. Compared to when she was twelve she was strong now, able to hold her own against enemies.
Back then it seemed to take forever, but Toka did start to teach her how to fight. At the beginning it was strictly defense, another thing that irritated her, but that was just one of her master's rules. 'A good defense is the foundation of a great offense.' Just like her strength training, this took about a year and a half.
In the last year she was finally able to learn offense and surprisingly Toka had been right. She was nearly untouchable with her defensive speed. It made a hit and run strategy just her style. Specialized in chakra-less taijustu, she was better than most of the Senju troops in this regard. Though they still kicked her butt in a regular spar.
Being unable to use chakra appeared to be something that would stay with her for life. When this got her down her brothers were always there to raise her spirits. Hashirama often told her that out there in the 'real' world she'd do just fine, that she would be classified as a stealth fighter. Her ability to hide enabled her to attack an enemy before they could employ their chakra.
Tobi was quite different in his attempts to cheer her up. He didn't even like to talk in the hypothetical about her going out to fight. Instead he would bring her all kinds of sweets. You get caught dipping coco bread in sweet sauce one time and you are branded for life. Didn't matter that it was true that food comforted her, her brother was still a sexist jerk. She still ate the chocolate though. Couldn't let it go to waste.
The only one unkind about her insecurity was her guard, Sai. She was fairly sure that he didn't know how to be kind so she didn't take offense. She'd seen a whole new side to him the first time she had a nose bleed. He had a nervous cuteness about him that surprised her. Even now if her nose started to bleed he freaked out. There was no training for that kind of situation, at least none he had taken part in.
Plus her nose bleeds did increase. Lately it was happening more and more. Sometimes she'd wake up to a bloody pillow. It always followed a sudden instense pain in her head, but the occurrences were at random intervals. She couldn't figure out what had caused it. A few times it happened in front of her siblings and it had worried them. When that did occur she blamed it on her etiquette studies or an intense training session.
They were gullible enough to believe her. God, she loved her boys. Body tensing, an image of a picture of three children and an older masked man flashed across her mind. It was quickly erased by a severe pain behind her forehead and the feeling of an oncoming nosebleed. Rolling over in the dirt, she rose to her beat up knees. Coughing, small speckles of blood dripped out of her mouth and hit the ground.
This was also a new development. For the last six months or so it wasn't just nosebleeds anymore. She was vomiting up blood at alarming rates compared to the few times it happened in her childhood. Usually it was just a few spots of blood as it was now.
Her cough caught Toka's attention and her master sat up to look over at her. The woman was still catching her breath, fighting Sakura on equal chakra-less ground was hard even for her. "Are you okay? Did I hit you in the stomach too hard earlier?"
Sakura shook her head and settled back down, sending a smirk Toka's way. "Like that pitiful strength of yours could have hurt me." Tucked by her side was her hand, blood wiped on it from her earlier nosebleed.
Sixteen felt ancient.
Later that day she was sought after by Tobirama while she was enjoying her time in Toka's teashop, as her grandmother passed away two years back. Her brother didn't seem bothered that she wasn't finished with her tea, ordering her to come along with him. Not having anything better planned today, she went along with him. Sai followed behind them.
Noticing this, the white haired man glared, having never forgotten when the other man was first assigned to his sister. "You can take a break. I'll be with her so you aren't needed." Her guard nodded and flash stepped out of sight. Sakura took hold of Tobirama's arm as they walked towards their home together, as she was taught to do when a man her rank or above was escorting her.
"Brother, what is it you need me for anyway?" It wasn't often he sought her out this deliberately. In fact the last time he did it-she pulled on his arm, forcing him to a stop. He looked down and saw her staring up at him with sparkles in her eyes. "Is it a new jutsu you wanna show me?" She was jumping in excitement, her ladylike façade completely vanishing.
When Tobi invented a jutsu it was always cool. He even once told her that he came up with his shadow clone technique when he was cleaning up the mess he made in getting to her to give her that dreadful spanking, which she'd rather forget. The mention of that had made her turn bright red, but it was interesting to hear how he came up with his jutsu ideas.
"Yeah, it's a jutsu. One that has no match in this world." His chest seemed to be puffing up. Rarely one to brag in front of others, he saved his true need for reassurance with people he was closer to. Laughing at this display, Sakura started to walk forward again, pulling him along with her towards their house.
"Yes, yes. You're amazing." They made it to the house and she opened the door and pushed him through. "Now show me!" Leaning forward on the tips of her toes she waited in anticipation.
Chuckling, he shook his head. "Not here." He eyed the entryway as if just the thought was ridiculous. "Let's go to the backyard. It will be easier to see." Giddy, she rushed to the sliding door that lead to the yard. This was the most excitement she'd had in a while. It felt like forever since Tobi had shown her any new jutsu. When he did it was always the favorite part of her day, week, month.
She lived vicariously through him or at least his jutsu. She didn't have any of her own and was rarely used in a spar where her opponent used them. Only when Tobi showed her his jutsu did she get to see any up come and personal. Hashirama's didn't count. Having lived with him so long his wood style had long ago failed to fascinate her.
Once they reached the enclosed backyard, Tobirama wandered over to the pond and tossed a three pronged kunai into the water. Sakura's forehead wrinkled in confusion as he walked away from it. "What are you doing?" He had a little smirk on his face but didn't bother answering her. When he was on the edge of the yard he told her to watch him closely.
Training her eyes on him, she didn't even blink, waiting for something incredible to happen. Then, suddenly, her brother disappeared. She didn't even see the movement that usually accompanied a flash step. Eyes darting around, she tried to find him. Nothing, there was no sign of him anywhere in the yard. Just as she was considering checking the house, she noticed the water from the pond shift.
Tobirama rose from the water and she gasped. "How did you get in there?" The water hadn't made any sound at all. If he'd flash stepped into it she'd surely have noticed. She didn't know of any jutsu that would hide someone in water without using any hand signs at all, especially being so far from the water source.
Red eyes started to move involuntarily and her kunai shot out of his hand at the same time, shocking her. She made to dodge it, but before it even reached her, a pale albino hand was around it, stopping its forward movement. Closer to the kunai now, she could see the fuinjutsu seal on it. "What it is you're doing? You are fast. Faster than I have ever seen you."
He nodded, his face set in a tight frown. "Fast enough to save people." While he stared down at her with meaning she remembered what happened four years ago. He must have been coming up with this jutsu since way back then. That day she'd said he was probably the fastest man alive, now she was certain that he was.
"It's amazing!" She couldn't help but stare at him in awe, considering all the complexity of a jutsu that seemed to teleport him. Her brother was smart, unquestionably so. A genius. How was she related to such an amazing man? Shaking her head, she tsked, mumbling to herself. "He got all the good genes."
Being chakraless was hindering her more than ever as she was faced with her sibling's accomplishments. He was continuously progressing, but she was stuck in limbo. It felt like she'd never be talented enough to call herself a Senju proudly, as if she was a disgrace to her clan.
She knew she was strong now, but apparently not enough to be allowed on the battlefield. Hashirama was alright speaking of her hypothetically fighting in the real world because he was certain she'd never see the warfront. They were too protective of her and it was holding her back.
Even with this feeling of inadequacy falling over her, she still congratulated her brother on his jutsu. Sitting back, she watched as he practiced it more. Deep inside he was such a show off. Hashirama had gotten so much attention in their childhood that it had always overshadowed the talent and hard work Tobirama had put into his shinobi training.
He secretly loved it when others took notice of such things. Sakura was his biggest fan in this regard. Just like with Itama all those years ago, Tobi enjoyed the attention. Her brother's would always be equal in her eyes. Neither could ever be better than the other, even if she was fascinated with ones techniques more than the others.
As he played around with the new jutsu he created, Sakura watched and started to get the gist of it. If his enemy didn't know how it worked it would just be like he was traveling at the speed of light. He'd be even more of a terror on the battlefield with this.
Finally, he stopped his teleporting as he appeared in front of her. "I want to discuss something with you." Lowering himself in the empty space next to her, he sat down. "I can mark people with this formula." He lifted the kunai in his hand, showing off the seal on it.
"So you can teleport right to someone?"
Nodding, he shoved the kunai back into his weapons pouch at his side. "Yes and it can't be erased. It will be there forever unless they rip the skin off that has the seal on it."
She grimaced, imagining that's just what an enemy shinobi would do in that case. The fear of Tobirama Senju being able to pop in whenever he pleased and possibly invading their compound would force their hand. "Wait, how large of a distance can you perform this jutsu?"
His red eyes peeked out at her from the side. "Very large distances, but the chakra cost increases as the distance does. The size seal varies that too though." A burst of air left his mouth, as if he was preparing himself to say something she wouldn't like. "I wanted to ask you if I could place the seal on you."
Instantly, she stopped all body movement, even breathing. He quietly tried to explain himself, voice hardening as he attempted to convince her that his opinion was the correct one. "If you are ever lost or kidnapped I'll be able to find you this way. It isn't good that I can't sense you. That could be used to an enemy's advantage. Anyone else I'd be able to find easily, just not you. This seal will solve that problem." Knowing where she was at all times would reassure him. He already knew where everyone else was anyway, this would just be fair.
Sakura was disgusted that this was even an option for him. "You want to brand me like cattle."
"Of course n-"
She stood up, furious. "That wasn't a question. That is exactly what this is, don't try to disguise it as anything else." What was that word Toka had used for her once upon a time? Oh yes, she remembered it now. "That is behavior like a stalker's. Knowing where I am at every moment of every day!"
Her hands went to pull at her hair, destroying her neatly put together bun as she dug her nails into her scalp. "My every move is already being watched. I can't even eat a cookie without the elders knowing I broke the diet they put me on. Do you know what it's like, not being able to do anything without someone else being told about it? It's awful. It's suffocating!"
She glared up at her brother who had stood up along with her. "And yet you want to cage me even more. Take away the one piece of freedom I do have." Tears had sprung to her eyes as she yanked the sleeve of her kimono down, a left over from her etiquette class earlier that day. Baring her wrist to him she yelled, "Fine, take it away, Brother. Put the last shackle on and strip me of everything I have. I'm just property to you anyway!"
Tobirama staggered back, not at all prepared to be hit with her sister's repressed feelings. "You aren't property. I care about you. You're my sister for god's sake!"
She pushed at his chest to create even more distance between them. "That there is the problem! I'm the Senju sibling's little sister. I'm Butsama's daughter. I'll be someone's wife. Someone's mother someday. Why is my existence always tied to someone else's?! Can't I ever be an individual? Just be Sakura Senju?" Her tear filled green eyes stared up at him pleadingly.
As he looked down at her scrunched up face, he couldn't come up with anything to say to answer her. How could he when everything she had said was true? He supposed the only thing he could say was a simple concession. "I won't ever use this seal on you, Sakura."
He pulled the sleeve of her kimono down, hiding her wrist again. With that, he walked away, leaving her alone so that she could calm herself. He didn't think she'd be able to do that with him there, hovering over her like a threat. In the end he didn't understand her at all, the only thing she wanted was a hug.
Crouching down, her hands covered her face and she wept.
In the coming days Sakura sunk into a depression. Nothing seemed to be going the way Toka had said it would. She thought that she could be a good enough asset on the battlefield, more useful there than married off. That hadn't changed the elders' decision though, they were still set on getting her hitched to a big fish. In fact just the other week they had tried to get her to meet with the Daimyo's son.
She didn't even bother to hear them out before she turned their suggestion down. The only reason it was put on hold was due to Toka's interruption. It seemed her own opinion meant less than nothing to them. If only she could prove herself, prove that she was better warrior material than wife.
That thought had been nagging her for a while. All she had to do was sneak off from Sai and join in a battle. There weren't any planned ones in a long time though, the fights being mostly sudden. So when she heard Hashirama discuss an upcoming one with Tobirama at the dinner table, she listened closely.
Two days from now their troops would run smack into the Uchiha's and they weren't going to avoid the confrontation. Her one worry was Madara, she didn't want to run into him out there. If he found out she was a Senju it would be from her lips. In the end she decided this wouldn't be much of a problem. She would join the fight late and go to the back of the battle. She would make sure to stay clear of her brother's along with Madara.
With this idea in place she started to come up with a plan to escape Sai's watch. This would be easier than before as they'd developed a bond. She hadn't ever tried to hide before in fear that the council would increase her guard. It was already bad enough, she didn't need to be observed any closer. This would be worth it though, it had to be. Only at the end of the battle would she reveal herself so she could take credit.
The minute her brothers knew what she had done they'd lock her up and throw away the key. Whatever she did would have to make an impression on the council because she wouldn't be getting another chance to show what she could do in a real battle situation. If they weren't going to give her permission to join the fighting she'd do it on her own. Following Toka's orders were getting her nowhere, she needed this. No one would say no to her afterwards.
When the day came, Sakura watched groups of shinobi leave the compound in their assigned units to join the forces already close to the battle location. Each would leave around an hour apart as not to draw attention to themselves. A large mass of chakra would be easily noticed by sensors and immediately taken note of.
It wouldn't take long for a shinobi using chakra to get to the point of confrontation, but it would take Sakura at least two hours. She left shortly after the second group of Senju warriors. While traveling to her desired destination, she started to consider what she was doing. If things didn't work out she would be in a lot of trouble.
She may even be blamed for any deaths that happened, that her presence had been a distraction. Of course she had thought of this before, heaving realized her hair would be very noticeable. To fix this she had stolen one of Tobirama's happuri, asking Toka to get it modified to cover the back of the head like a helmet. It had been fairly simple, lying to her master that it was a surprise for her brother.
He recently had suffered a head wound while sparing with Hashirama. They had once again gone too far and ended up injuring one another. Hashirama had been able to walk it off, but Tobirama was forced into a two day long bedrest. He hadn't been happy about it and consequently neither had the rest of the compound. Misery loved company and Tobirama enjoyed it more than most.
If he wasn't content, everyone knew he was displeased. It was a chain reaction of sorts. The people who were forced to take care of him, be near him, were directly affected. Their moods would plummet and then anyone they were in contact with got upset with their poor temperament. It went on like that until the whole compound was consumed by Tobirama's black aura of displeasure. It spread like an infection.
It was quite a sight to see as a bystander, though Sakura was rarely a bystander. She lived with the overgrown brat and was often charged to look after him. If only they could force him upon the infirmary, but they wouldn't take him anymore. Recently, they took turns, Hashirama, Toka, and Sakura.
They'd rotate their shifts so that none of them had too much contact with the man. It was a police put in place when everyone else refused to interact with him and Hashirama along with Toka were busy. Three days of being near her bedridden brother and Hashirama walked into Tobirama's room to find Sakura trying to suffocate him with a pillow.
Thinking about it now made her chuckle darkly. Either way Toka gladly modified the happuri so that it would be one less way for him to be injured. When Sakura got it back she had been surprised at the quality of the work, wondering who Toka had brought it to. She was certain the amount of money she'd given to Toka wouldn't have covered this.
Her master had seemed unsettled when Sakura asked her about it. In the end she'd told her that it was a gift from her to her student. She'd been pleasantly surprised by this and hugged her mentor before taking off with her prize.
Now the happuri surrounded her own head, hiding her colorful hair. Unless someone caught a good view of her face, no one would know she was there until intentionally revealed herself. Even if someone did see her and recognized her face they were unlikely to truly believe it was her. Perhaps they'd think it was just someone who looked like the Senju princess.
After traveling for a while, Sakura came across the sounds of battle. Smiling, she picked up speed. Finally, she had reached her destination. Finally, she'd get to see Madara again. The thought had hit her out of nowhere. In the last few years she desperately tried not to think about the older man.
Still without meaning to his image would surface in her mind. Whatever she felt for him hadn't faded, but she was more weary than not. Madara had asked her to marry him, told her he wanted to create a safe place for her. Yet the fighting was still ongoing years after the fact. There was no effort on his part to find peace with the Senju.
Maybe she was naïve but she just couldn't understand why this would be. Hashirama was completely willing to form a peace treaty, he even had most of the clan on his side. If Madara just gave the word peace would be possible. All clues lead to his desire for peace being a lie. It wasn't something Sakura found herself believing in, but still it was worrisome. Hard enough to ignore that she didn't attempt to contact him.
All that ended now though. While he wouldn't know she was here, she would be able to see him once again. In fact when she finally came across the battlefield, Madara was the first thing she took notice of. From the treeline, hidden from view from the fighters, Sakura watched the man she loved viciously attack her brother.
She knew enough to realize that Hashirama wasn't in any danger though. Her eldest brother was strong, many from their clan considered him on the level of a god. She was confident that Hashirama would hold his own even if it didn't look like it. Madara was pitching fireballs at the other man that were several times bigger than herself. She could feel the heat from where she stood, at least 150 feet from their position.
She was mesmerized by his fire, amazed at his battle prowess. With ease, he swung his gunbai around as if it weighed less than nothing. It was incredible to witness the two of them fighting. They had a wide empty area around them, everyone too afraid to approach them. Anyone who got too close were quickly forced away by Madara's intense flames.
It was as she stared at Madara that she suddenly heard a clash of weapons. The sound was strangely close by as anybody close to her was also within the blast radius. Looking around she spotted the source of the noise. Tobirama was clashing swords with a Uchiha less than forty feet from her.
Apparently he had met his match in sword play. The dark haired man wasn't pushed back, blocking and striking effectively. It wasn't as fascinating to watch as Madara's fight, but it took skills to do what they were doing. The speed and accuracy was stunning, it created a beautiful dance from the motions. She was about ready to move from her position to join the forces in the back when Tobirama's opponent jumped back to escape the swing of her brother's weapon.
Her breath seemed to leave her when she caught sight of his face. He possessed a delicate beauty even thought that wasn't what caught her attention. Sasuke…images shot through her mind, all of a man who looked so much like the Uchiha before her now.
An intense feeling of longing socked her in the stomach out of nowhere. She felt a need to be close to this Uchiha, even if it wasn't a reasonable feeling. Within a blink of an eye her brother crossed swords with the man one more time. As close as she was to them, she could see Tobirama twitch.
That wasn't a normal motion for him, he was always disturbingly calm during a fight. No movement was unnecessary. It was strange for him to have twitched in the general direction of his kunai pouch. Without warning the memory of her brother showing her his newest jutsu came zapping through her mind. He was going to use it against this man! He was going to use it against Sasuke.
Before she even realized her own intentions she was darting off towards them. If she'd been anybody else Tobirama would have sensed her, even if he couldn't see her. Just like always she could see his red eyes darting around widely because of his condition. He looked right at her as she approached but he could see her.
The other man didn't notice her rushing towards them as his back was turned to her. He wouldn't be able to sense her either. She was just about there when Tobirama let his kunai fly. The Uchiha didn't even pay any mind to it as it wasn't even close to hitting his body. There wasn't a need to dodge. He had no idea what was about to happen.
Before it reached his side Sakura was throwing herself in front of him, attempting to save a man she didn't even know. Tobirama teleported himself to the kunai without realizing anyone had intervened, still only sensing Izuna. Within a second of her placing herself in front of the Uchiha her brother was at her side. His sword cut into her and she cried out in pain.
In her sudden agony, Sakura' head had reared back. The happuri fit loosely on her skull and with the jerking motion of her head it came tumbling off, hitting Izuna in the face. It hurt, but he was far more unsettled by the bright pink hair that now blocked his view. Without meaning to his next breath brought the smell of the woman's hair into his nose.
Cherry blossoms, he groaned in distress, pulling back, not having expected her body's reaction to the smell. His jerking back hadn't helped matters though, the female in front of him staggering backwards until she fell into his arms. There hadn't been a reason for him to catch her but he did. He even lowered himself down so her body could rest comfortably against his.
Finally his eyes raised to look up at his opponent, slightly surprised to see an actual expression of emotion on the stoic man's face. It was an expression of complete and utter despair. His pale lips seemed to move slightly for a moment before he got out one gasp of a pain filled word. A name. "Sakura."
Tobirama thought long and hard about whether to use his new jutsu on Madara's little brother. Hashirama had always been insistent about not harming the duo and stupidly he'd listened while hoping to convince his brother otherwise. While Hashirama might be able to fend Madara off without any intentionally lethal blows, it was harder for him.
While their fights always looked intense he was sure Madara was also unwilling to kill the other man. Izuna didn't have this issue, he was always out for blood. As thirsty for it as water. It was hard to keep such a vicious man back while systematically attempt not to kill him. He was working with a handicap, one his opponent didn't possess.
Over the years he'd obtained injuries just because he hadn't gone at Izuna with full strength. While he never told Hashirama this, he was sure his brother knew. Sometimes when he treated his wounds he'd find the brunet watching him, his moth twisted with an ugly pained expression.
It was hard for them to look at each other after a battle. Hashirama was ashamed of his own request and Tobirama was frustrated with his limitations. The only thing holding him back was a weakness he wished he didn't have. He cared about what his brother thought of him. It was hard to stomach it, but he knew that was the only thing preventing him from striking Izuna down.
He'd always been their strongest fighter against the sharingan, his mental fortitude along with his blindness were helpful against genjutsu. Visual cue jutsu did nothing to him, he didn't have to worry about being pulled in just by looking into the sharingan by accident. What he could see couldn't hurt him.
If Hashirama hadn't wanted him to let the kid live he was sure he would have been able to get one lethal blow in. It was his brother's request that put a strain on their relationship. Tobirama hated lying to his cousins that he'd just been unable to complete his task. The shadow of a hateful plea would always haunt the siblings.
The worst it had ever been was when Toka got hurt because of Hashirama's insistence upon Izuna's life mattering. It had been a hard pill for the brunet to swallow. One of his best friends had nearly died and his own brother blamed him for it. In fact he blamed himself. In the years following Toka's accident it had been hard to keep his promise to Hashirama. Very hard.
After coming up with the flying thunder god technique he'd always figured he would use it against the Uchiha eventually. It was perfected now and he had no other excuse besides his weakness for Hashirama's approval to not use his most powerful weapon in what was a battle of life or death. It was the only way Izuna ever fought.
Before the fighting even began he had decided to use it today. Except using it hadn't been as easy as he'd thought it would be. When he went to grab his kunai with the formula written on it, Hashirama's pleading suddenly came to mind. His brother's belief that Izuna's death would ensure that the war never ended.
In the end it took another minute for him to hype himself up enough for a second attempt. It needed to happen, with Izuna out of the way it would free him up to help the rest of their troops. The longer he waited the more casualties he could have prevented happened.
With the lives of the Senju this attack would save in mind, he finally let his kunai fly. He let his senses be sharpened by his battle instincts. His chakra sensing was active and he kept it locked down on one signature in particular, making sure Izuna stayed in position was essential. No one else got in the way, the kunai was going to be dodged, not knocked off course. Everything was perfect.
He could feel his eyes wildly darting around as if he was taking in all of his surroundings, even when he couldn't see a thing. Within a moment he let himself be drawn to his kunai, sword held firmly in his hand. His plan was to appear beside Izuna and slice into him with the sword before he could get out of the way. It was a pretty flawless plan. The flying thunder god technique was deadly even if someone knew what to expect. With Izuna completely unaware of the seemingly harmless kunai his victory was assured.
What he hadn't expected was to hear a feminine gasp of pain after he teleported. With the new closeness, he squinted his eyes to be able to see better. He didn't know why he did it, he was already quite sure of what he would see and it wasn't a pleasant image.
The gasp had sounded familiar but more than that was a smell that caught the breeze. Before he even saw her he knew, he knew what he had done. Yet her name still left his lips with a painful shock when pink hair came into focus. As she stumbled back into Izuna, going to the ground with him, a shout escaped him. "No!"
It was disbelief. This wasn't possible. Denial firmly embedded itself into him. Tobirama's outburst caught Hashirama's attention. His head turned along with Madara's to see what the commotion was. His breath seemed to catch at the sight of a sword rooted into his sister's chest. "Sakura!" Before he even realized what he was doing, he rushed to her side.
Madara didn't move, couldn't move, at first. There was a heavy pressure on his chest, a deep shock that paralyzed him. All he could think was one name over and over again. Sakura, Sakura, Sakura, Sakura! Use of his muscles suddenly kicked in again and he was running towards her. Hashirama had always been a bit faster than Madara.
In this case he'd even had a head start, but within a moment he felt Madara breeze passed him. His gunbai flew out of his hand as he went to throw himself to the ground beside her. He didn't even make it that far. The albino bastard grabbed him by the front of his armor and pulled him away. In an instant they were in each other's faces, practically frothing at the mouth in rage.
While he was being pulled away from the woman he lied, he'd managed to grab Tobirama by his armor in turn. He couldn't deal with this right now, not when Sakura was bleeding next to him. His mind was filled with panic and wonderment. Sakura was alive. Why was she here? Why had she so obviously jumped in front of his brother, taken the hit meant for the younger man?
She must have known who Izuna was to him. That he was the precious little brother he spoke so often about. He couldn't even fathom that she'd do such a thing for him. It seemed to make the years of living without her disappear, as if none of it mattered because she was willing to sacrifice herself for someone he cared about.
Still he hated her a bit for it too. She was willing to leave him all alone again. It wasn't possible to rank his love for Izuna and Sakura, but he didn't want to lose one to keep the other. He wouldn't be able to deal with that kind of loss. It was this slight resentment that powered his fury at Tobirama.
This combined with the fact that he recognized the sword in Sakura's side as the Senju's he was willing to kill him to get to the pink haired girl. So focused was he on Tobirama that he never noticed the look of enchantment upon his little brother's face as he looked down at the young woman in his arms. All he paid attention to was the stone cold face of Tobirama Senju, sneering at him.
"Stay away from her, Uchiha." The man spoke his clan name as if he was saying scum. It appeared that they were synonyms in the Senju's mind. This was when Madara really began to see it, see that no matter how much he had wanted it peace would be impossible. The Senju would never cease hating the Uchiha. Hashirama was an exception, there wasn't a single other Senju that didn't see them as demons.
Whether he desired it or not a village between the two clans would never happen. It felt like he was choking on a stone, but he had far more important things to pay attention to than an old dream with Hashirama that was falling apart before his eyes. Pulling the white haired man closer to him, he spoke. His voice was like gravel as he said, "You feed you are allowed to say that when it's your sword sitting in her chest?"
Honestly he had no idea why Tobirama cared about the girl when she'd saved a Uchiha but perhaps he felt obligated to protect a civilian. Something nudged at the back of his mind though. Hashirama knew her, he'd shouted her name, terrified. This was only just starting to sink in as Sakura attempted to sit up.
Izuna held her close to him so she couldn't', but she did manage to gasp out a word that sent chills down his spine. "Br-brother. Don't." Without any thought at all, Madara would have seen him process it if there had been, Tobirama released him. There hadn't even been a need for consideration, the man's body had reacted automatically to the request. It was immediately apparent that he hadn't meant to listen, but that it had just been a habit. Something he did regularly.
The sight had something tightening in his chest and Madara knew it was his heart constricting. He was halfway to wondering how intimately they knew one another for him to just react like that when his brain finally caught up with the rest of him. Brother. She'd called him brother. Something fractured in his mind as he tried to rearrange everything he knew.
Blankly, he watched as his brother's expression turned to disgust, seeing it but not really taking it in. Hashirama rushed into the space between the two groups, breaking him out of the fog that was clouding his mind. It was then that he realized the battle had paused all around them. It felt similar to four years ago when Toka had thrown herself on his gunbai.
He needed to shake that thought though. That woman had died due to his attack, but that couldn't happen to Sakura. He still hadn't rationalized her betrayal with everything that had come before it. Coldness didn't set in yet, his heart still yearned for her. Just like four years ago he'd hold the battle so that Hashirama could get Sakura the hell out of here. She needed the medical attention the Senju could give her.
Izuna didn't get the chance to toss her away from him like it looked like he was willing to do. The brunet pretty much crashed into him to get a hold of the girl in his arms. "Oh, Sakura. Little sister, why are you here?" It was only then, hearing Hashirama say the words little sister that Madara even recalled that the man had such a sibling.
Their last talk had been years ago and remembrance faded long ago. Now though he did remember his friend having spoken of the two siblings he had left. Tobirama and a little sister who'd been ill many times. This brought back the memory of the boy's mother dying. The brunet's grief had been fresh, but Sakura's pain at losing her mother was more subdued.
He'd thought she had lost the woman long ago not shortly after he met her. How unusual. The girl was emotional, he would have expected her to have a bigger reaction all those years ago. Still what concerned him most was that Hashirama's sister had been a weak child with a poor immune system. Even if Sakura miraculously survived being stabbed, infection was known to be just as deadly.
Trying to answer her brother's question, Sakura opened her mouth, lips parting to say something. All that came out was a gasp of pain. It took a moment but she did managed to get something out again, "Tobi…wo-would have…killed him." The white haired man at his side visibly tensed up. No one besides Madara noticed and he felt a vicious hatred for the other man creep up on him.
Yes, suffer. You did this to her. You killed her.
Entirely focused on the three Senju he didn't realized when Izuna's expression changed from short lived disgust to a certain kind of fascination. The young man couldn't quite wrap his head around the fact that a Senju had saved him. His gaze was quickly ripped from him though when a new figure joined the group.
With the battle paused all around them, she made it to them fairly quickly, zig zagging between the still bodies of the two clans. Then she was standing beside them in all her glory, Toka Senju. The two Uchiha were clearly surprised, eyes tracking her as she threw herself down next to the dying girl.
Madara wasn't even sure how she was still alive, it looked as if she'd been stabbed directly in the heart. Except now he was wondering how Toka was alive. The last time he saw her Hashirama was carrying her away with her abdominal ripped apart. She'd been so close to death that he'd been sure it would be. Afterwards he never saw her again. Of course he assumed the worst, that he'd killed her. Who wouldn't?
Yet seeing her now, hope filled his chest. If Hashirama had been able to save her surely he'd be able to do the same for Sakura. "What happened?" The Senju woman leaned over the teenager, wearing a matching expression of despair that all the Senju currently showed. Sakura was clearly loved.
After accessing the damage and realizing how bad it actually was Toka sprung up, whirling around to pounce on Madara. Hashirama managed to grab her to hold her back. She screamed at the Uchiha while trying to get loose. "What have you done?!" Her near death experience still fresh in her mind. To her he was still the man who'd attempted to kill the Senju brothers and just got her instead.
No one knew the truth, even if Hashirama suspected that Toka was misunderstanding something. It was hard to refute it thought, with the injury she had sustained. "Toka! Toka, calm down!" The woman was ferocious in her movements, neck stretching, and jaw snapping to bite down when the brunet's hand got too close to her mouth. He pulled it back just in time but couldn't stop the foot that came jack hammering back into his shin.
Still he held on until finally Tobirama stropped the nonsense with his soft words. "It was me."
Toka slowed and Hashirama moved to pick her up to turn her to face his brother better. Her eyes showed her confusion, she hadn't heard what he said. Couldn't have. This time he spoke louder, the guilt in his voice obvious. "I did it." Nothing else was needed. In a blink of an eye Toka stopped all movement, she appeared to sag back into Hashirama's arms. Her eyes never left Tobirama though.
They stared at one another for several seconds and even Madara could see that something was passing between them. As quick as it came it was gone. Toka tossed the older Senju over her shoulder as she pulled her body towards the ground. Her feet touched the ground silently as Hashirama's back connected with the hard dirt with a thud. Swinging around, she brought her hand up to Sakura's face.
The girl's eyes were closed, her face expressionless. "We have to get her to the compound quickly. Hashirama, charge your chakra." The man scrambled to his feet, his hands already glowing green as he splayed them across his sister's chest. Finally, Tobirama stillness fell away as he marched forward.
As gently as he could, he lifted the teenager into his arms. His brother stood with him, hands never leaving her. Pale lips touched the girl's ear as the white haired man lifted her into a more comfortable position. "You'll be okay. Please, be okay." Head rising, red eyes darted around the group. "Grab my shoulder, Toka."
For a moment it seemed like she wasn't going to do it, her lips twisting with something indistinguishable. She didn't know why he requested this of her, but she followed the order in the end anyway. With obvious reluctance her hand connected with the tall man's shoulder.
Madara didn't have the chance to even wonder what the hell that damn Senju was doing while his sister died in his arms, they were gone before he could. Just gone, disappeared, vanished.
His body jerked back in surprise as Izuna rolled away from the spot the group had just been standing in. The rest of the Senju around them seemed as confused as they were, but they fell back. Their leader wasn't here anymore and they didn't want trouble while Madara still stood in the field. They retreated without protest. The Uchiha let them go, too astonished with the events of the day to do otherwise.
With a wave of their leader's arm, they too headed back to their own compound. That left the two Uchiha brother's standing there, only silence accompanying them. Izuna had yet to put two and two together to realize who Sakura was to his older brother. It wasn't even in the cards in his mind for the little civilian girl he'd seen just once to be the beautiful young Senju that saved his life.
All he could think to say was a short but complex statement. "She saved me. A Senju saved me…from another Senju." The wonder was present in his voice. There didn't seem to be any disgust left, only surprise that such a thing could have happened.
Madara was too busy staring off into the distance at the retreating backs of the Senju army to really listen. He nodded slowly, "Yes. A Senju saved you."