It was started, like many of Madara’s best ideas tended to be, by a conversation with Hashirama. After Hashirama had refused to take ‘no’ for an answer and bullied his way through the Uchiha compound to Izuna’s deathbed in order to heal the mortal wound inflicted by his own brother, even the staunchest objector to the proposed peace had to admit that Hashirama was serious about his dream. That being said, despite Hashirama and Madara rekindling their epic friendship, there was still obvious tension between their Clans.
It had not been so bad while they were planning out and building their Village, but now that things had settled down again people had more energy and attention to spare for maintaining their grudges. The two Clan Leaders were sitting on Hashirama’s veranda overlooking the garden when they came up with their next great plan to encourage peace in their time.
“We should set an example!” Hashirama flung his arms out wide, by some miracle not spilling a single drop of tea from the cup in his hand. “Show everyone that they can get along if they try!”
“I’m not sure how much more of an example we can be.” Madara’s words were dry despite the grin he was wearing. “Your wife has already told me to tone down our ’star-crossed bromance’ because some of the new arrivals are assuming she’s available for a dalliance.”
“WHAT?” Sputtering in offense, Hashirama choked on his custard bun. “Who’s been hitting on my wife?”
“No one important, husband.” Mito called from inside the house where she and Touka were having their own conversation over tea. Hashirama turned around to pout at her through the open shoji as Madara snickered. Flicking her fan in dismissal Mito smiled slyly. “I’ve already defended your… honour at length and volume, husband. You needn’t worry.”
“Ah.” Revelation dawned in Touka’s expression. “So that’s why everyone knows my cousin growls instead of moans.”
“Quite.” Mito primly sipped her tea.
Hashirama froze and crumbled to the ground as he realized what the ladies meant. “Nooo~oo~oo…”
“Stop that you overgrown fool.” Madara kicked Hashirama away from the table before his agonized writhing could knock over the teapot. “You love your wife. She tolerates your asinine self for some godforsaken reason. Everyone in the Village knows this. I don’t see why you’re whining now since this has been going on for years.”
“Why do you all do this to me?” Hashirama flopped over onto his back to gaze soulfully up at Madara. “So cruel! I bet you don’t treat Izuna like this.”
“No.” Madara paused for a beat before smiling serenely. “I’m much, much worse to Izuna. He can’t blame his actions on bad breeding, after all.”
“Rude!” More offended squawking from Hashirama had Madara rolling his eyes.
“I should honestly be glad I only have to deal with one of you at a time.” Madara grabbed Hashirama’s hand mid-flail and hauled his friend back upright. “There’s only so much dramatic wailing and romantic babble I can handle at once. Drink your tea and try to remember that you’re an adult shinobi, tree-man.”
“Huh…” Hashirama looked thoughtful as he tried to get his disheveled hair back into order. “So… Izuna’s like me?”
“Hm?” Madara handed Hashirama a refilled teacup with a quizzical look. “I’m not sure what you mean. I suppose you have some similarities when it comes to how you act, but Izuna’s also a selfish brat and he’s still against peace with the Senju.”
“That’s great!” Grinning, Hashirama leaned forward and grabbed Madara’s sleeve. “Madara, I know what we can do! We should make friends with our little brothers!”
“… Ah?” Leaning back to keep Hashirama’s face at a reasonable distance, Madara raised his eyebrows. “I’m… going to assume you mean that you want to make friends with Izuna?”
“Yeah!” Bouncing a little, Hashirama released a little ‘whee’ of excitement. “And you should be nice to Tobi! I don’t know if you’ll actually be able to make friends because Tobi’s a little antisocial but just seeing you trying to be nice will show everyone you’re committed to the peace too!”
“Hm.” Madara pursed his lips thoughtfully. “Izuna does need to get over himself and actually give you proper thanks for saving his life. And I suppose I could tolerate your fussy little ice-cube in small doses.”
“Yay!” Hashirama clapped his hands and wiggled in place, graciously ignoring Madara calling Tobirama names. “This will work! You’ll see!”
Let it be known to all that for the next few months Madara had an unending stream of entertainment as he watched Hashirama bull-rush over all of Izuna’s screaming objections to the Senju Head’s overtures of friendship.
“This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life.” Touka stated gleefully as Izuna screamed and flailed ineffectually.
“You should call me ‘nii-chan’!” Hashirama announced with cheerfully deliberate obliviousness as Izuna continued to rage but was unable to escape the much larger shinobi’s bear hug.
“No!” Shrieking his ire to the world, Izuna kicked at Hashirama’s knees. “Aniki! Control your mutant kudzu!”
“He just wants to be your friend, Izuna.” Hands folded in his sleeves, Madara put on his kindest smile just to see the impotent dismay fill Izuna’s eyes. He should have listened to Madara about committing to the peace treaty when he had the chance. Izuna had brought this on himself. “Be nice.”
“… You are an evil man, Uchiha-sama.” Fan held up and open to hide her wicked smirk, Mito glanced sideways at Madara. “I approve.”
Compared to the public spectacle of the Izuna-and-Hashirama show, Madara’s overtures towards Tobirama were rather underwhelming. Given Tobirama’s withdrawn nature, and Madara’s own volatile temper, the Uchiha Leader decided that small steps would work best.
It started with Madara being more careful with his word choices during policy meetings, and it was amazing how much easier it was to get things done while Tobirama was still trying to process the lack of yelling. Madara could put up with funny looks in the office if it meant cutting his paperwork load in half.
Once Tobirama got used to the new status quo, Madara stepped up his game. Offering help where he could, holding the door open, paying for tea or snacks when he got the chance, bringing food and drinks when he knew Tobirama had forgotten to get his own. Little things that gradually built up into a new normal.
Around the time Izuna seemed to give up and resigned himself to weekly hugs from Hashirama (without screaming! Madara was so proud) Madara started to notice that Tobirama was a bit… oblivious. To any sort of social interaction that was not written down or related to fighting. Oh, the man was fine when he was teaching, but the social undercurrents between his students seemed to escape his notice.
Curious, Madara decided to see exactly how oblivious to people Tobirama really was. It was time to step up his game again. This time for Science.
“Madara-sama?” The Uchiha Head looked down as Kagami tugged on his sleeve. The child looked conflicted. “Are you… are you courting Tobirama-sensei?”
Pausing as he looked from tastefully wrapped, very expensive calligraphy set he was planning to throw at Tobirama’s head during their next meeting to the wide-eyed child at his elbow, Madara could only shrug. “I suppose I am, at this point.”
“Does Sensei know that you’re courting him?” They both ignored Izuna as he sputtered in the background.
“Probably not.” Madara admitted with what seemed to be an unusual amount of cheer for the situation. “He’s typical Senju-blind that way.”
“Why don’t you just tell him then?” Izuna grumbled, sneering at the very idea of his elder brother courting a Senju of all people, but unable to stay out of Madara’s love life. “You shouldn’t let him ignore you!”
“I’m not.” Madara smirked arrogantly and tossed back his hair. “I said Tobirama was blind, not ignorant. The longer this goes on the longer he subconsciously accepts the fact that we’re courting. By the time he actually realizes what’s happening it’s entirely possible that we’ll be living together.”
“That’s…” Izuna trailed off, entirely unable to find the words to express his thoughts. Instead he just gestured vaguely with limp hands in an attempt to communicate his confused dismay.
“What if Sensei never realizes you like him, though?” Kagami looked tearful at the very idea. “I don’t want you to be sad, Shishou.”
“We’ll make a deal then.” Patting the child on the head, Madara thought quickly and then grinned. “When Hashirama says something to Tobirama about our courting I’ll say something too.”
“Good!” Kagami nodded in agreement to the deal and left, satisfied with Madara’s promise.
“Aniki… that’s evil.” Looking somewhat faint, Izuna fell into step beside his brother and stared at him with wide eyes. “When did you turn evil, Aniki? Tell me who hurt you enough to make you turn to the dark side.”
“What are you talking about, Izuna?” Blithely continuing on his way, Madara held back his wild cackling by sheer force of will. “I’ve always been this way.”
It took over a year, all told, before Hashirama said anything to Tobirama.
“So when are you and Madara going to make things official?” Direct and oblivious as ever, Hashirama continued to babble as he watered his garden. “I mean, it’s been a long time since he started courting you and you haven’t done anything yet. If you’re uncomfortable I can tell him to back off for you? Only you usually reject your suitors on your own without my help. But you haven’t turned Madara down yet, but you also haven’t accepted him? So I don’t know what you want me to do.”
“Saa… what suitors?” Staring at his brother’s back in blank-faced confusion, Tobirama’s genius mind screeched to a halt and frantically started going back over all his interactions with Madara, looking for some hint about what Hashirama was talking about. In hindsight, the change had taken place around a year previous, when Madara had gifted him with a beautiful sake set and then teased him with a bottle of plum wine he claimed he was ‘willing to share’ in order to break in the new cups.
Granted, the man had slammed the gift down like the very thought offended him and proceeded to disparage Tobirama’s alcohol tolerance, but that was positively congenial for the Uchiha in question. Eyes going wide as realization dawned, Tobirama looked at the calligraphy brush he was holding, which Madara had jammed handle first into his chest with a scathing remark about how much time Tobirama spent doing Hashirama’s work. Then there was the sinfully soft blue yukata he was wearing, which Madara had shoved him into while grumbling about public indecency. His fingers resting on the fine-grained chakra-treated seal parchment he was working with, handed over with a dire warning not to burn down the Village. All examples of the many gifts from Madara he had received in the last year. Heat crawled up the sides of Tobirama’s neck, and he knew he was blushing. “… oh.”
“Tobirama.” The aura of big-brotherly disappointment was only made worse by the watering can Hashirama had to set down so he could prop his hands on his hips. “Please tell me you knew Madara was courting you.”
“… Nh.” Tobirama stared into the distance over his brother’s shoulder and carefully did not wince. “I… know now.”
“… I don’t even know what to do with you.” Hashirama moaned, shoulders slumping as he buried his face in his hands. “The flowers, the presents, the dancing. Tobi, he was sitting in your lap at Mito’s birthday party.”
“Ah.” Tobirama remembered that. It was a very nice sense memory. Madara was warm and his lips had brushed against Tobirama’s ear as Madara whispered catty comments about the guests that had been invited for political reasons. Tobirama’s arm had fit neatly around Madara’s waist under the heavy fall of the Uchiha’s feathery hair, and the plush curve of Madara’s rump and thighs had put the perfect amount of pressure on Tobirama’s lap. It was not possible for Tobirama’s eyes to get any wider, but it felt like they tried. “… Anija. Anija, Madara’s been courting me.”
“Yes, Tobi, I know. The vast majority of Fire Country knows! The only one who apparently didn’t know was you!” Weeping over his chrysanthemums Hashirama pulled on his hair. “How can someone so smart be so dumb?”
“Anija, stop that! I don’t have time for you to be dramatic!” Tobirama was not the type of man who flailed, but he managed to protect the feeling of flailing very clearly as he put his work aside and stood up. “I know nothing about courting! Anija, what do I do?!”
Hands clasped over his mouth as he tried to calm down Hashirama shrieked behind closed teeth. “Well first, why don’t you try telling Madara you like him back!”
While Tobirama was frozen with indecision and gut-wrenching apprehension, Mito leaned out the door with a smirk. “Perhaps you could also present him with a gift? You’re rather behind the curve on that front.”
“Yes! Thank you, Mito.” Blowing a kiss at his amused looking wife, Hashirama turned back to his little brother with a determined nod. “Presents! Words! It’s not that hard, Tobi. Besides, Madara already did most of the work.”
You could see the exact moment Senju Tobirama realized that he was, firstly, loosing in a competition he had no idea was taking place. Then, lastly, not expected to be able to catch up to the other side. His jaw firmed, his eyes narrowed, and his shoulders pulled back to square off to the challenge. Without saying another word, Tobirama spun on his heel and stalked away in a fuming, furious haze of planning.
Watching his brother retreat, Hashirama grinned. “Will it be a summer wedding, do you think?”
“I think you underestimate Madara’s love for petty evil. It’s Tobirama’s turn to do the chasing now.” Mito tapped her fan against her palm with a sly chuckle. “A winter wedding, and Madara will be insufferably smug throughout all of it.”