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Chapter 1- Cabeceó

There is music playing, soft jazz, the background kind that you only ever hear at events like this or in tiny hole-in-the-wall cafes, barely audible past the murmuring of voices. The clink of champagne glasses, the chink of expensive jewelry, the occasional hiss of a whisper, the swoosh of elegant cocktail dresses and the clack of high heels on marble.

The entrancing harmony to a song of meaningless words and meaningful silences, Tobirama reflects, glancing around the high ceilinged, expensively-though tastefully, of course-decorated room, eyes trailing over the small groups of people and charting the movements between them, ears catching the murmurs of those closest to him, lipreading the others' words-Hashirama may have made fun of him for it at the time, but it is a skill that has paid off well in this world of thinly veiled insults and rampant whispers, where saying the wrong thing or not knowing the right thing can be your metaphorical end-construing from what he notices all the latest gossip, what will be gossiped about in a week, and what might take weeks to be noticed.

He glances at the clock, six thirty, fifteen minutes left until the first tanda of the night, but the gossip mongers have been busy tonight, and already he is hearing only repeats of tales that grow steadily wilder. He idly fiddles with his ruby cufflinks-easily worth more than twice as much as his blue Armani suit-for a moment as he deliberates over his next choice. He could go speak with his cousin, Tōka, maybe hint at Hashirama’s hopes for a second term as mayor, or go and speak to his brother in the flesh and deal with all the dramatics that come along with it. Definitely his cousin, he decides, after all, she can partner with him for the tanda when it comes easily, as they’ve been dancing together for years.

With long strides-carefully walking not too fast nor too slow, as either has unfortunate connotations-Tobirama slips through the crowd like the ghost his brother used to call him, all silent footfalls and smiling intangibility, dodging the grasping hand of a woman who’s had a bit too much drink-and that’s going into his blackmail folder immediately, because that was the leader of the Shimura’s wife, and that’s a powerful clan right there-and reaches the drinks table with ease. He grabs his first drink of the night-not champagne, but sparkling white grape juice, because even if he has a high tolerance his brother does not, and that overgrown child of a man always steals his drinks-and spots Tōka at the other end of the room lingering at a small bistro table close-but not too close-to the main hors-d'oeuvres buffet with Mito. It’s a good spot, easy to get more food from, and more importantly, easy to see-and-be-seen by almost everyone who will be attending.

Tobirama had heard the whispers about Tōka’s dress earlier while he was listening, but none of them-too long, too short, stunning, a-little-too-daring-were enough to prepare him for this. She looks like a goddess of war, hair up in a knot and dress decorated with kikko inspired plating, quite fitting for a head of security. Mito looks stunning as well, as elegant and perfectly poised as always, the antithesis to her husband. Tobirama stops next to them, nods at Tōka’s searching look, and returns to his people watching.

Well, Hashirama calls it creeping, but it is both interesting and useful, so Tobirama’s hardly about to stop doing it. Interesting, useful, and vastly entertaining, he mentally corrects as he watches a man who’s almost certainly the second Uchiha brother-and, therefore, the head of the police academy-nearly faceplant at the sight of Tōka in her gunmetal grey sleeveless sheath dress, the man’s eyes focused on the lean muscles in her arms, rather than the legs that have captured the eyes of most of her admirers so far. Tobirama snorts almost inaudibly at the sight, then instantly regrets it when he hears his older brother’s absolute crow of delight.

Hashirama throws himself at his stoic younger sibling like a distraught widow who has seen a specter of her lost love, which is to say he hug-tackled his little brother into submission. Tobirama absolutely did not squeak. Such a thing was hardly composed, after all. Not that anyone would’ve heard him under Hashirama’s loud exclamations of joy at his supposedly emotionless brother’s slight smile. Personally, Tobirama’s fairly sure his expression was far closer to a faint smirk than a faint smile, but Hashirama’s an unbeatable optimist. Ah yes, his unending joy is truly a wonder to behold-is he crying?

“What are you doing brother? Weren’t you overjoyed just a moment ago? What small slight has decimated your fragile ego this time?”Tobirama questioned. Just in case his brother couldn’t tell that Tobirama was judging him, he arched a snow-white brow at the mess currently occupying his shoulder.

“Madara isn’t here!” Hashirama wailed.

“Doesn’t he avoid these events like the plague? I’m hardly surprised he broke your plans.”

“Tobi!!! Besides, I know you’ve already heard he’s here tonight, just like I know you know I meant he just abandoned me!”

“Or he decided he’d rather now be seen with an overly emotional wreck like you brother.”

“Or maybe he just wanted to stay away from an unemotional robot like you, Tobi! How could you drive away my friend? At this rate, he’ll never meet you!”

“Two minutes left,” Tōka interjects, looking both faintly amused at Hashirama’s dramatics and faintly annoyed at his lack of formalities at one of the most important gatherings of the year.

“You’ll be with me, Hashirama,” Mito states quietly, though from the enamored look that crosses his face there was never even a question.

“For every dance for the rest of our lives, as long as you’ll have me,” Hashirama agrees, entirely besotted. They set down their drinks and start to make their way to the center of the room, turning heads the whole way. It was not very surprising really, that they had everybody’s attention, they are important with a capital I. The mayor of the largest city in the country, his brother the actual genius inventor, investor, and city planner, the mayor’s wife, and more importantly, a coding revolutionary and noblewoman, and the mayor’s cousin, head of security for what is now the safest city in the world. Not to mention they all have money in spades, even if most of it is hard earned. Then again, he’d mentioned his thoughts on why they were always seen to his cousin once, and she had laughed at him.

“We’re good looking Tobi, we could be literally hobos with all the intelligence and power of rocks and people would still look at us.” That had been ages ago, and he could see now that she was right, the upper class was normally prettier than anyone else by virtue of being richer, but even among them his family stood out, all effortless elegance and innate grace, even Harashima at his most hyper never looked less than imperfectly perfect. One minute left. People were setting down their drinks and migrating towards the dance floor, the symphony of murmurs reaching a crescendo as spectators edged around the fringes, eying the people pairing up.  Fifteen seconds. Tobirama meets Toka’s eyes for the cabeceó, and she nods once. The first beat, then the first measure, a salon song, formal enough for the social event they’re at.

It’s always salon style for the first tanda, and it’s considered rude for the more important people to not partake in at least one of the three tandas average to such events, so the first is the most danced. The floor is packed, and Tobirama is exceedingly glad for the respect of distance and space between pairs integral to salon tango because it keeps the crush from being actually, well, crushing. Of course, the embrace in this type of dance is remarkably close, with Toka’s nose just centimeters from his face.

Toka tapped her fingers imperceptibly against his back in their bastardized version of Morse code, which used phonetics rather than being letter based, starting the real gossip of the evening.

The Sarutobi are allying with the Shimura against the new tax and budget plans . She indicated, with a minute nod towards where two of those clan’s members danced.

No , he tapped back, at least not for long. The Sarutobi girl’s infatuated with the Yamanaka heir’s sister and has ring indents on her pinkie and middle fingers, and the Shimura care about their image too much to be perceived as greedy by the civilians.

    So there won’t be any resistance?

They pulled apart and faced each other as the first song ended, coming together moments later as the first strains of a slightly more upbeat song began.

    I wouldn’t say that, I heard the Hyuga and Nara talking, and they want to discuss the effect it will have on the price of medicine and healthcare.

    Makes sense, that is one of their largest incomes, not to mention the problems that increased prices for those will have on the city . A minute crease forms between her perfectly shaped brows, You did check that before proposing this, right?

    Yes, he replied with a faint huff, both exasperated that she thought he might not have and slightly proud she thought he would’ve. The prices will probably raise fractionally, then level out. I’ve already got the PowerPoint written up.

   Toka huffed back at him, although hers was much more amused than it had any right to be. Just for that Tobirama dipped her dramatically as the second song ended, eyebrow quirked in an obvious challenge. She stood up, stepped back, and smirked. There was no more covert planning in the third dance of that tanza, only the enjoyment of swirling across the floor, the old amusement of two cousins trying to show each other up in the most subtle ways possible, and the fun of showing off while appearing to not care a whit. It was great.

At the end of the song Toka dipped him, and he laughed for the first time that night. A quicksilver smile flashed across his features, then disappeared, leaving only the amusement in his eyes as evidence of its appearance. She tugged him back to his feet in one smooth movement, then glanced around as if just noticing the stares. Tobirama, of course, knew she was nowhere near surprised, they had been trained to understand body language and in acting at a young age, and hers was just a second too slow to be completely accurate. He always had been better at those lessons than her, just like she was better at empathy than he could ever be. Everybody had their strengths and weaknesses, after all.

The stares followed them to the edge of the dance floor as the cortina began, and then to the low couch where they joined Harashima and Mito’s discussion of the school curriculum and how to modify it. The break would only last for a minute or so, but they would probably not participate in the next tanta unless invited. Tobirama was mid definitely-not-a-rant about incorporating the recent advancements in technology into lessons without making it feel forced, and allowing students to gain skills that would give them a competitive edge, while also motivating them and reducing stress and improving productivity-with things like relax days near exams, homework limits, nap times, study halls, and more classes so they can do what they’re interested in-when he feels someone’s eyes on him.

Now someone looking at him isn’t that strange,  it happens all the time, what with him being rich, powerful, well known, an albino, and also-according to Toka-handsome as hell. She made jokes about him being a literal demon for weeks after that, though that was probably more about him forcing her to do paperwork-gasp of horror-than that joke. Then again who knows, Toka’s sense of humor is layers and layers of inside jokes, cultural things, irony, and puns, all wrapped up until it’s near impossible to figure out her exact meaning like a puzzle ball, or a knot. To be honest, his sense of humor is quite similar, except his puns are made in a plethora of languages and he is also slightly more sardonic and sarcastic.

He glances up from the glass of ‘champagne’ he’d had in hand while gesturing-that Hashirama was trying to steal again-and let his eyes flit around the room, taking in everyone even looking in his general direction, but when he reaches the culprit Tobirama realizes he hadn’t needed to go to the trouble. The man-and boy is he a man, hot damn-is not looking away. Tall-dark-and-handsome meets Tobirama’s wine red eyes with a pair of onyx irises, so dark it’s nigh impossible to see his pupils from here. Tobi drags his gaze across his body-well muscled, this man obviously works out, but they’re not for show, more like he uses them, which in a place like this can only really mean law enforcement, since his black Tom Ford suit is too expensive for a bodyguard-then meets his eyes once more. He’s only slightly surprised when the man tilts his head in an obviously questioning way, and pauses for only an instant before giving a single, quick, decisive-and rather subtle-nod, never pausing in his outline of possible modifications.

Not that that fools Mito, though luckily Toka is busy making eyes at the Uchiha from earlier, or at least Toka’s version of such a thing, and Harashima’s much too besotted with his wife to look away from where she consideringly nods in all the right places and eats strawberries one by one. His sister-in-law catches his eyes and raises a single perfectly sculpted eyebrow, the very image of easy elegance. In response to her silent query, Tobirama gives her a look that clearly translates to, he asked first, and I would hate to be rude, besides, he’s hot, and if you say a word I’ll tell my brother about your pregnancy before you go on that business trip and then go in your place so you can’t get revenge . Mito blinks in slow acquiescence, and while the albino isn’t surprised, exactly, he could very easily carry out his threat, and revenge while a worried Harashima is hovering and the target is across the globe would be difficult, it wouldn’t be impossible, especially for someone with Mito’s skills and connections. The redhead must be more excited about that trip than she’s revealing, or maybe she’s just in a particularly good mood.

Tobirama stands up in the considering quiet that has fallen around them as people think over his ideas, making his way through the growing throng at the edge of the dance floor, all excited about the tango orillero that will happen next. Honestly, the orilleros have always been one of his favorite parts of these events, and he is far from the only one to feel that way. Being less formal and a lot more showy, orillero is a favorite among the young elites,  and even a few of the elders occasionally take the time to show off their retained skill. He can already feel the eyes of the crowd turning towards him, can hear the whispers as they start to hypothesize about his taking part in this with someone not family, since none of his family members are standing.

While the gossip is, perhaps, understandable, seeing as he’s only ever danced with family-or on the rare occasion someone important asked him to and refusing would be horribly rude-at these events, and even then only with Touka, Hashirama, or Mito, seeing as his littlest brothers are both too young to attend events such as these and he’s not very close with any of his other family members, it is still annoying. He can’t even meet somebody new without some gossip rag insisting that he’s participating in an illicit affair, and he doesn’t even have a spouse to be cheating on. While there are laws that limit the paparazzi in Kohona that keep his family from being stalked, there are only so many times you can sue for libel before it becomes obvious that taking legal action is not going to a thing to deter the repeat offenders. At some point he had just given up, and now the worst rumormongers never stopped.

Not that this was going to change that. If anything, this was going to explode their corner of the Internet. Tobirama starts counting down in his head, ten, nine, eight. Oh look, he was right, that Sarutobi girl is talking to that Yamanaka, not enough for her to join in this tanda, the next one then-so this will have to be a one time thing, even if doing it twice would send the gossip rags into a flurry-and it would be discourteous to steal their thunder, an engagement is a big deal, and they probably planned this ahead of time, seven, six, five. Though, maybe, the impending announcement will keep people from thinking too much on this dance, and he can have an actual discussion with his partner (prospective relationship/definite future-present dance partner) about where this is going to go, or whether it is going to go anywhere at all, four, three, two, one. He meets Uchiha-his brother’s best friend, ex-Black Ops member and now the chief of police-Madara’s eyes across the dance floor, flashes a smirk, and steps forward as- zero -the music for the tango orillero tanda begins. And so they dance.

Chapter Text

Uchiha Madara is going to throw up. He’s been psyching himself up for this for years now, but all he can think of is every reason why he should just walk away right this very instant: Senju Tobirama is way out of his league, and even if he weren’t their families have been at odds for generations, Madara’s best friend is infamous for being bot diligently overprotective of his little brother’s virtue and also a diehard romantic who planned a wedding for his brother and the barista at a coffee shop a gossip magazine caught him not frowning at, and, also, just in case he forgot to mention it earlier, the second eldest Senju brother is way, way, way out of Madara’s league. Tobirama is a famously good looking guy from a family famous for being good looking. Not to mention that he’s a certified genius who not only revolutionized medicine but also literally invented an instantaneous teleporter(out of a broken microwave and an old smartphone)that is powered by shaking, like some sort of high tech maraca, while drunk and with only two hours of sleep in twice as many days. Though Madara was probably the only one who knew about the second thing who was not part of Tobirama’s immediate family-including Harashima’s terror of a wife and that fearsome cousin in charge of security-due largely to an incident with a diplomat from Taki, a night spent drinking and complaining about their problems in his office, and Harashima’s incredibly low alcohol tolerance. The other man had told Madara the whole story after one too many shots-which for Harashima was any shots at all-and complained about his brother’s rather understandable reasons for not commercializing it(the destruction of every single other transportation industry, the unwanted attention, and the fact that there was no way yet to keep a place from getting teleported into; which had made an admittedly slightly buzzed Madara simultaneously glad that Tobirama wasn’t more criminally inclined, because he’d be hell to stop, and slightly disappointed, because the white-haired young man would look ravishing in a skintight black bodysuit) and how his brother never got the attention he deserved.
Unfortunately, Madara hadn’t had much time to contemplate what a pretty picture that was, because he had to stop his best friend from going on another drunken rant about his father Batsuma, and every single one of the man’s many flaws. Not that he disliked disrespecting that particular dead man-that toxic waste dump of a human had tried to kill the Uchiha’s brothers too many times to deserve anything more than an abandoned grave, if that. But despite the bad blood, literally, between their families, Madara has somehow managed to gain a crush the size of his city, and the years of denial and avoiding every single possible interaction he could with the man, it was probably time to do something about it, because this thing was not going away anytime soon, not if things kept on like they were. Also he had maybe possibly been threatened into it by the Clan Elders, who kept pressuring him to “settle down already and make some heirs,” which was a) rude to his brother and current heir, though Madara maybe possibly agreed that Izuna wasn’t the best for the job, and b) probably not something that he would be getting with Tobirama, unless the genius decided that kids were very much something he wanted, in which nothing would stop him, not even the universal laws like time and space, much less genetics or parenting.
Either way, nothing will happen unless he does something right this second. So he slips through the mingling crowd occupying the opulent entrance to the event hall, expertly dodging conversations with social hangers-on and butterflies alike. Well, his expertise stems from a childhood of combat training and a lifetime of training, but Madara is nothing if not flexible in his application of the skills he has gained through sweat and blood. If the strength of his arms-gain by waving around a giant fan for hours of a time-is good for lifts, well, there’s a reason he enjoys orillero more, and it isn’t just because he’s a showy person.
Dodge that girl, duck around that old man, and-woah. There’s Hashirama, and his target is locked. There is no escaping him, Madara would know, he’s had years of practice being around this oaf. Luckily they are still in the entrance area, so most of the masses moving past don’t bother with more than a passing glance at what has become a common spectacle, their esteemed mayor making something of a fool of himself. Nobody has ever succeeded in taking so much as a bad picture of him, at least not one that lasted long enough to reach the press or the public at large, so nobody even bothers pointing him out. Everybody always knows where he is either way, or at least that’s what people like to think, though Madara knows from personal experience that Hashirama can disappear into empty air in an empty room on a sunny day. Then again, there are very few things that Hashirama abhors as much as sitting inside on a sunny day.
It was too late to dodge the instant Hashirama caught a glimpse of him, so it’s much too late now to escape. The Senju doesn’t quite push his way through the crowd so much as he bulldozes his way. Not that people don’t get out of his way, he is the mayor, but unlike everybody else at social events like this, there is not dodging and weaving in a delicate dance of propriety and politeness, not for him. Within moments of spotting his best friend, Hashirama had already reached his side.
“What are you doing here, you never come to events like this?” the oaf inquired, looking more than a little bit surprised. Madara was slightly offended, he wasn’t that bad, was he? Okay, so he definitely was, but that didn’t mean Hashirama ought to point it out!
“You said you’d do a month of my paperwork if I came to this, and who would I be if I refused so generous an offer?” the Chief of Police replied, schooling his features into the very picture of innocence.
“I didn’t think that you’d take me up on it!” his fool of a best friend lamented, “You never have before!”
“Please, every time before it was a day’s worth of paper week, or at most a week, nowhere near enough to even tempt me to think about it, and even a month of no paperwork is just barely enough to make this torture worth it. Don't worry, I won't make you do it all at once, probably.”
“Prob-Oh look Madara there’s my brother! Come let me introduce you to him!”
“I’ve met Tobirama before you idiot.”
“Going to the same events doesn’t count as meeting someone!”
“We were both groomsmen in your wedding. I had him edit my best man’s speech to make sure it appropriately embarrassing. We’ve definitely talked before,” which is even technically true, even if it was in a series of slightly stilted emails, “Speaking of talking to younger brothers, I’ve got to go talk to Izuna before he becomes even more of embarrassment.”
“Yeah, sure, whatever, talk to you later?”
“Certainly, I’ve got to give you some of that paperwork soon, right?”
And with that final parting blow Madara had made his escape, and Hashirama was properly distracted from the topic of Tobirama, now concerned with Izuna’s obvious crush on that Senju cousin and the extra paperwork that would be piling up from his first successful bribe. And honestly, the fact that Hashirama of all people noticed Izuna’s crush says quite a bit about how obvious the younger Uchiha brother is being, which is to say, very obvious indeed, seeing as the normally observant but romantically blind mayor has actually figured out what’s going on there. Which, really, why can’t his brother be more discreet? Madara has been all mushy-hearted over Tobirama for going on a few years now and nobody has even suspected anything more than a mild dislike for the man, which can be easily excused by the age old grudge between their families that was only ended recently, but Izuna noticed that Senju woman a month ago and has been trailing after her like a lovesick fool ever since. At least the woman is interested back, Madara’s little brother has never fallen this far before, and if she had hurt him, well Izuna is the only close family Madara has left. And beginning another blood feud with the Senju so soon after ending the last one probably wouldn’t end well.
“Hanging out with Hashirama again? I would have thought you would have gotten over him when he got married. His wife doesn’t seem the type to go for an open relationship.” And the Chief of Police going to prison for fratricide would also be bad. No murder Madara, no murder. At least not right now anyway.
“Do you want me to show that Senju witch pictures from your scene phase? I’m sure she’d love to have the blackmail.” Madara fired back quickly. There, that would shut Izuna up right now, and keep Madara from having to kill him in front of witnesses. Izuna’s past fashion choices were beyond questionable, if not in their inspiration than definitely in their execution, his hair had just not worked the way it was supposed to, and the black makeup with his onyx eyes made him look possessed, it was a mess. Madara’s teenage years had at least been too filled with training to make sure his last brother stayed alive to do much more than cut his hair when it started getting in his eyes and wash his face once in a while.
“Woah, I didn’t mean to make fun of your crush bro!” Izuna put his hands up in a pantomime of surrender. The gesture rang as false as his platitude. Really, why people thought he was head-over-heels for the elder Senju brother would never make sense to him. Hashirama is like a brother to him, and incest is just wrong.
“Isn’t the first tanda starting soon? Are going to make a move today, or are you going to wait again?” He asked his younger brother sarcastically, the answer was obvious after all, if Izuna hadn’t moved yet he wouldn’t be doing it today.
“Are you kidding me? I’ll do a tanda with Izumi later, can you imagine if Touka said no? Hell, can you imagine even picture her saying yes? She’s way out of my league.”
“Whatever you say Izuna.” It was definitely a good this that the Senju security head was both braver and bolder than Madara’s younger brother. She’d get bored at Izuna’s inaction and do the asking out soon enough.
“And who are you going to dance with? You know not participating is rude, and even if you never show up to these sort of things, I don’t think that’ll let you get away with sitting on the sidelines the whole time.”
“We’re standing right now.”
“Really? Are you planning on standing the whole ti-”
“And anyway, I’ll be fine, you’ll see. The music is starting, shut up.”
Izuna signed forlornly as Senju Touka made her way onto the floor. Madara scoffed quietly and pretended to be glancing exasperatedly between his brother and the subject of his brother’s obvious infatuation in order to disguise the fact that the Police Chief was ogling his best friend’s younger brother. Best to keep up the act, no matter what else might happen later tonight. Not anything obscene, Madara was far too much of a romantic at heart to do anything like that without even going on a date first, but hopefully an acceptance of his feelings and an agreement to begin courting. To be honest he would be happy with even an agreement to a first date at this point. Maybe a museum? With lunch first and dinner after. Yeah, that was a sound plan, which museum though? He had signed the papers approving extra security at the science museum recently due to a new exhibit that would be opening next week, so that might work, but what had it been about-no, he was getting ahead of himself. There was might be no reason to plan a date at all, depending on how the next few minutes went. The first tanda was over, and the first orillero was up next. Madara took one last deep breath, steeling himself, and stepped out towards the dancefloor, leaving his brother behind to stare wistfully at the low couches were the main Senju family had gathered during the cortina, even as Madara made his way to directly across the room from them, preparing for his first cabaceó where refusal could very well be the response. There was no backing down now, this is no time to relent, it is a time to dance.

Chapter Text

People are Talking and it is making Sarutobi Akio Worried. Yeah, this is a political function with debatably vital effects in Konoha, but it is also the day that she is going to announce her engagement to Yanamaka Mayeko and their clans’ subsequent informal alliance. And sure, the alliance was nowhere near as big a deal as it would’ve been a decade or even a few years ago, what with the whole peace-being-made thing, but it was her engagement and therefore still a big deal to her. It ought to have been the most talked about thing that night and for the rest of the week at least, Mayeko was the Clan Head’s sister! But no, instead something else was happening and people are already gossiping.

Akio needs to find out what they’re talking about. She needs to have found out about it yesterday. So she listens, drifting just outside of the circles of murmurers as she ostensibly makes her way toward the refreshments table, careful to never get close enough to draw attention while staying near enough to hear every word being said. And oh, that is a surprise, no wonder none of her family or her future in-laws mentioned anything big happening tonight, they wouldn’t have known.

Uchiha Madara and Senju Tobirama are dancing a tanda together! The two are almost infamous for the animosity between them, or what looks like animosity from the outside. Everyone was sure the Uchiha Head, at least, was still holding onto a grudge about that time the younger Senju brother almost killed the younger Uchiha brother, what with the fact that the two had never been seen talking outside of exchanging the necessary pleasantries or planning how best to overhaul whatever new problem had been discovered in Konoha's mess of a government.

But apparently, Konoha’s esteemed mayor has finally got his message of peace and forgiveness through to both his little brother and his Uchiha best friend, if they’re tangoing together. It is certainly enough to make people talk, but her engagement will hopefully be enough that people start talking about that instead. Her hope that the pair doesn’t dance a second tanda-something that would definitely make them the talk of the town for the rest of history, probably-starts warring with her appreciation for art the second she reaches a vantage point from which she can see the dance floor.

They are poetry in motion, and Akio might be about as straight as a highway on-ramp, but she can still appreciate the aesthetic. And these two look like the imaginings of some artist’s overactive brain when learning about tango for the first time, like watching a demon and an angel dance and not being able to tell them apart. Kuso, Akio needs a drink, she’s getting overly dramatic with her metaphors and that’s always a sign that she’s nervous.

By the time she makes it back to where people are crowding at the edge of dance floor to crane their necks to try and get a glimpse of the people actually dancing, and by the time she elbows her way back to her vantage point from before her quick quest to the drink tables-there used to be an open bar at these things but that got shut down after three people died from “alcohol poisoning” in the eighties that was probably just actual poisoning (they switched to Amichiki catering because the Amichiki belief in the sanctity of food is as dependable as the Nara’s laziness, which is to say very) and these days the drinks are served by the glass (and poured in front of you) at a couple a tables near the food-it’s been a couple of minutes and the last song of the tanda is finishing up. She arrives just in time to see Senju Tobirama somehow twist what was obviously Uchiha Madara trying to dip his partner into a far more low-key spin that ends with them facing each other again right as the music fades out.

Maybe this whole make-sure-people-don’t-talk-about-what-should-be-the-biggest-gossip-of -the-year-thing-and-talk-about-your-engagement-instead thing will be easier than Akio had thought if the Senju genius is going out of his way to try to be less memorable. It’s still something she wants to talk to him about, but one of Mayeko’s aunts is headed straight toward Akio with a look in her eye that means a last-minute shovel-talk is imminent, so there might not be time before the last cortina ends to even make an attempt at approaching the two most unapproachable men in the city-who are now talking to the mayor, great-much less make obvious hints about how she wants people to gossip about her existing engagement to an amazing woman, not the possibility of them having a secret one.

It’s a few minutes later-only fifty-four seconds before she can finally wear her ring in public-and Akio is still nodding along with whatever her future aunt in law is saying (something about destroying her life, as though if she hurt Mayeko that badly her life wouldn’t already be destroyed-both by Mayeko in revenge and just because she would’ve hurt Mayeko) when she accidentally makes eye contact with one of her newly mentally declared nemesis. The infuriating Senju only raises an eyebrow at her glare.

Then he glances lightning quick at where her left hand is wrapped around her glass of fruit juice spiked with Inuzuka special moonshine sake and then down to the pocket where Akio’s ring is safely tucked away. Akio gapes. The white-haired bastard just winks at her and then turns away, just as the quiet cortina music fades away. The soon to be Sarutobi-Yamanaka takes a deep breath as random Yamanaka aunt number five finally moves away, looking across the dance floor to me her fiance's eyes with a firm nod before downing the last of her drink-she prefers the Aburame’s mead but nothing is a better liquid courage than the Inuzuka’s homebrew-handing the glass to the nearest gaping stranger, sliding her hand into her pocket and her ring onto her finger, then making her way out onto the floor. It’s time.
Mito can hardly believe how obtuse her normally body-language savvy husband is when it comes to the people he’s close to. Hashirama has been crowing for the last five minutes about “Tobirama and Madara’s budding friendship” and how “it’s going to be one for the history books.” Which, well, Mito doesn’t doubt that, but it’s hardly going to happen for the reasons he thinks.
Really, is it even a surprise that the esteemed mayor of Konoha has yet to notice his own wife getting morning sickness? The story of him telling a cousin she ought to exercise more because she was gaining weight scarily fast is an oft-repeated one at family gatherings. It’s quite lucky for him that it is beneficial for all involved if Konoha’s mayor is thought to be perceptive and powerful, as otherwise, he’d be the butt of a great many more public jokes. Honestly, that and his eternal photogenic-ness are his only saving graces. A ‘budding friendship’ indeed.
Hashirama is just so glad his best friend and his little brother are finally getting along, he was really worried they’d never get over the whole our-families-were-sworn-enemies- and-I-almost-killed-your-brother thing. Thank goodness they seem to be getting past that fine.
Yamanaka Hideo is stressed. The one day he promised to only gossip about one thing and Senju Tobirama decides to dance a tanda with the Uchiha Clan Head. Sure, the Police Chief is famously close to the Mayor in possibly the closest thing to platonic soulmates anyone has ever seen, but Konoha's resident genius and Uchiha Madara are almost as infamously frosty with each other as the peace dream team are close. Before tonight the only time they’d been seen in the same room together was at Hashirama’s wedding. And Hideo can’t even tell anyone about it, much less write the post he’s dying to type up for his gossip blog, not when he promised his favorite cousin (and sure, Mayeko is everyone's favorite cousin, but that's because she's a sweet kind angel who does not deserve being overshadowed on the day she announces her engagement). He tilts his camera just so to catch the two maybe-no-longer-sworn-enemies walking off the floor together on tape. Sure, he might not be able to post the video now, but maybe one day he can show it at their wedding. Pfft, like that would ever happen. Too bad, a wedding between those two would be a ringer for the wedding of the century, especially since the presidential family has been more lowkey ever since that coup.
Nara Shikawa can smell change on the wind. Well, not really, smelling things is more of an Inuzuka clan trait than a Nara one, what with the drug-sniffing dogs and all, but he can deduce that change is imminent, which as it happens is a Nara clan specialty. Too bad Mayeko and Akio chose today to announce their engagement, otherwise, maybe the Senju ghost would've let an emotion stronger than slight interest slip past his unfeeling facade. Plus those two now owe Senju 2.0 a favor for toning down Uhichia’s dramatic instincts. Really though, the most unfortunate part is that it looks like both the Senju heir and the Uchiha clan head might be spoken for soon. With them out of the running, Shiwaka is going to move up on the list of Konoha's most desirable bachelors. How troublesome.
Ugh! That upstart Senju was dancing with someone again! One of these days that little brat would get his legs broken by someone who was jealous of those dance skills. Not by Kinkaku, mind, because Kinkaku absolutely was not jealous, no matter what his little brother said! And was the sniveling Senju dancing with an Uchiha? He was already slipping! Soon it would be Kinkaku's time to shine!
And what a beautiful time it would be! Hinkaku hadn’t spent years of his life training for nothing! No, he was one of the best dancers in Konoha, even if he hadn’t yet had the guts to show off in public, he worked for hours every day perfecting his technique, repeating every move until he could do them in his sleep! Hell, he practiced so much he sometimes did do them in his sleep, sleepwalking his way out of bed in the middle of the night to dance around his living room and scare his brother shitless.
Why didn't Uchiha-sama ever come to this sort of event? He seemed to be having fun one-upping the Mayor's little brother right now, maybe if Kaiyo encouraged that rivalry his boss could finally get some good press! It would be nice to not have to answer questions about the Police Chief's 'secluded life' for a change. That sort of thing got tiresome very quickly, especially since Kaiyo didn’t have any answers! But the Chief had never even spoken to the Senju heir presumptive before, at least not in public, so there was no telling if this cheerfully vicious rivalry was their standard mode of operation or if this was a one-off and Kaiyo would be fielding invasion questions from reporters about things he didn’t know about or even want to know about for the rest of eternity!
No! Absolutely not! Kaiyo refused! His very soul rebelled against the idea! No, he just had to figure out how to make it so that his boss ran into the acclaimed genius of Konoha as often as possible in the future, without making either one suspicious! Sure, it might be a little difficult to maneuver and manipulate two such smart and suspicious men, but if he distracted them with one another maybe they wouldn’t even stop to think about their suddenly increased interaction! It was the only viable path going forward, so Kaiyo had to do it! And he would do it! Starting tomorrow.