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i'm on all fours (willingly damned)

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tobira doesn’t know what happens after the flash of yellow light interrupts his day, but he’s trapped in a sensation of falling, falling, falling, and he just can’t get up. he always lands on his feet, but this time – this time he is having the doubts about whether or not he will be able to. not even his impeccable sense of direction can help him when he’s lost, and oh, he is so very lost.

very lost, yes, tobira thinks, rising groggily from his falling-spot and noting the scents of anija-hashirama and pack-tōka nearby, and the sounds of their voices in the air.

they seem to be distressed, and they are not understanding that their distress is something that tobira can smell, and that smelling the distress makes tobira unhappy; his precious persons and packmates should never ever ever be unhappy, and it hurts him when they are.

“…don’t know what the fuck is wrong with him, Hashirama, he’s acting like a goddamn animal!”

tobira doesn’t know what pack-tōka means, but her voice-tone is scary-mean-scary, and he decides to calm her by rubbing his scent-glands against her. pack-affirming, very good, solid ground beneath his paws; scenting always calms tobira, and it frequently calms pack-tōka, who is known to be the irritable, sometimes.

“Aw, I dunno, Tōka, he looks awfully cute just hugging at you like that. Ooh, Tobi, will you hug me too? Hug me, too!”

anija-hashirama reaches out for tobira with grabby hands, but tobira does not like the grabby hands, so he sends out a warning-hiss: if you touch me with the grabby hands, his warning-hiss says, i will bite the grabby hands off and away so that they cannot touch me anymore.

anija-hashirama slumps at his refusal, but tobira knows that this is not unusual. anija-hashirama can have many of the emotions very frequently, and sometimes he just needs to ride them out. tobira will scent him, too, and that should help him.

“Tobirama, no, what are you doing, cousin, stop that-!”

tobira is good boy, and so he scents anija-hashirama.

or, well. he means to. but then he gets right up and close and the personal with anija-hashirama, and then he smells the it.

the mate-smell.

it’s the most amazing thing he’s ever ever ever known before, and he can’t keep himself from nuzzling into anija-hashirama’s collar, where the mate-smell is strongest. it barely clings to his shirt, meaning that anija-hashirama must have been near mate at some point earlier in the day, but – that doesn’t give any clues. tobira cannot sense the mate-smell anywhere in the compound; his nose is more than sharp enough to account for that, and there is no shred of delicious woodsmoke-sunset-starmetal that digs deep into his brain and unsheathes addicting claws.

“Oh, my god, Tōka, are you seeing this? He’s cuddling me! Kinda creepily, but still! This is so adorable—

“What I see is my baby cousin, who appears to have gone fucking insane and apparently grown – snow leopard ears and a tail while he’s at it. This must be a jutsu accident of some kind, Hashirama, it must be. Look, there are the remains of a transportation seal right over there… it’s possible that he’s accidentally swapped himself with some kind of alternate dimension Tobirama without meaning to. This certainly isn’t normal behavior.”

hmm. tobira is very smart.

tobira will figure it out.

observation: pack and anija react poorly to tobira’s affectionate behavior, with the yelling and the grabby hands. right now, tobira is being patted by anija-hashirama.

secondary observation: this feels very nice.

it makes something deep in tobira’s throat go rumbly-rumbly-happy, which in turn makes anija-hashirama squeal in delight, which makes the happy-rumbles stop; tobira hates loud, sharp noises, and he detaches himself from anija-hashirama so as to separate himself from the noise.

anija-hashirama makes a small, distressed sound, but pack-tōka sighs in weary gratefulness, so… 

logical conclusion: tobira should not scent his anija-hashirama anymore.

the two pack members leave tobira’s nest, which makes him do the happy-rumbles again. he likes it when his den smells like him and only him, and if there is no trace of mate-smell with which to add variety, then there should be no variety whatsoever.

observation: tobira loves the mate-smell.

logical conclusion: tobira should track the mate-smell.

tobira is very smart! he did it! he arrived at a logical conclusion that can and should and must be acted on!

good job tobira, tobira thinks with satisfaction, filled with the urge to groom his tail and flick his small, spotted ears. tobira is the smartest.

so smart. there is no way this could possibly be the wrongness; it is simply not possible.

 

 

When Uchiha Madara wakes up at ass o’ clock in the morning to discover a strangely feline version of Hashirama’s baby brother sitting at the foot of his futon and staring at him hungrily with large red eyes, he writes it off as a weird-ass dream and he goes back to sleep.

When he rises later in the day, the other man is gone, with only scattered silver hairs left behind in his wake and – an open dresser drawer?

Madara considers inspecting it, but he doesn’t sense any chakric bombs and he’s pretty sure he hallucinated the presence of the Senju heir in his room anyway, so he shrugs and goes to get breakfast. He does not notice the missing shirt, nor does he ever see Tobirama snuggling into his nest at home, draped in a stolen robe and purring like a thunderclap.

After all, it’s just a coincidence; it must be. There’s no way he didn’t imagine Tobirama in his bed with leopard ears and a long, spotted tail tipped in inky black. He’s vaguely aware of the man having snow leopard summons, but that’s the deepest thing he knows about him – he can hardly blame himself for thinking that he dozed off and, for some reason, dreamt that Senju Tobirama was part cat and also oddly obsessed with him in the manner of felines.

The village has only existed for barely a year, and though Madara may have a small crush on him, just because he’s so ridiculously pretty, no one is allowed to know; he made a point to buy an apartment outside of the Uchiha compound where he can spend lonely nights by himself, thinking about Tobirama and admiring the long, lean elegance of his wiry frame and the gem-like sparkle of his ruby-red eyes.

If he would want a feline Tobirama to be obsessed with him, well. 

It was just a goddamn dream, and that’s it. 

It takes a second incident to make him open his eyes to the truth, but even then, he can’t really bring himself to mind, for some reason. 

Madara wakes to the sensation of a hot, heavy warmth rumbling above him, a body splayed spread-eagle above his chest with the head tucked into his neck and the steam of the person’s breath blowing into his throat.

It’s… not entirely unpleasant, actually, but he’s still a ninja, and the intruder is still an intruder; he doesn’t immediately recognize the chakra signature that’s plastered all over him, and so he bolts up with a yell, reaching deep within him for his Fire chakra and preparing to char-broil whatever idiot decided to sneak into his room

When he looks down, the wide-eyed face of no one less than Senju Tobirama looks back up, and the disappointment there is palpable. Something – something about the chakra of one of his bitterest new allies seems almost soothing, and when the man rolls off of him with a pathetic-sounding whine, something deep and broken in his chest pulses in dismay.

“What the fuck,” says Madara to the open air, gazing down at Tobirama and fighting the ridiculous urge to smooth a hand over those strange, curious animal ears. He can’t see any human ears at the joint of his jaw and throat where they would normally be, but the base of the leopard ears runs down to meet them, meaning that the ear canal is likely in the same spot and that the ears are just connected to the sides of his head as well as the top—

“Prrrrhrhrhrr,” goes Tobirama, and it’s possible that Madara’s heart stops in his chest, because holy shit, that noise was – a purr.

He’s purring.

“Holy shit,” Madara tells his crush, trying and failing to glare at him when the man is currently doing his best to glue himself to his side like he’s secretly wanted for nearly a month now, “you’re purring, Senju bastard. Purring. Like a goddamn cat.”

Tobirama keens, high and loud, and nuzzles into his shoulder. His tail thrashes and coils about his legs, and when it brushes against Madara’s bare ankle, he can’t help but note that it’s one of the softest things he’s ever felt.

“You’ve got to stop,” he tells Senju, feeling the shards of his composure crack and shatter. “You’ve got to stop, Senju demon, or – or I don’t know what will happen. Something bad, probably.”

He might kiss him. He might kill him in his embarrassment. He might even, in a worst-case scenario, confess his feelings, and then he’d have to die.

Tobirama just mashes his cheek into Madara’s arm, purring louder and more decisively than ever. It would seem that he’s chosen to sleep in Madara’s bed, curled up next to Madara himself, and he doubts that any force in the universe could move the other from his spot now that it’s been settled.

Secretly, he doesn’t mind at all.

Chapter Text

mada wakes up to the sight of otouto-izuna crushed into his nest, curled up tight into a small black-brown ball with his tail twitching in his dreams and his pale human paws tucked beneath his sweet, round face.

very good, thinks mada, letting the happy-rumbles rise up in his chest. it’s a rare day when otouto-izuna will indulge in his instincts and sleep with his aniki for protection and for pleasure, instead of pretending that he’s not still an overgrown cub. very good indeed – mada revels in the way his den smells like home-family-pack, rolling in the concrete proof of his competence as a clan head and an aniki. to preserve his pride, he puts on his scary-scowl, but the happy-rumbles are still bubbling up in his throat, so he isn’t sure that his passing packmates are fooled.

hmmph. mada is the leader of their pack and a mighty warrior, and he commands respect; if his family thinks him soft for carding his long fingers through his brother’s silken mane of hair and for rubbing at his twitching black ears in a gesture of affection, that’s their problem, not his.

another half hour passes before otouto-izuna cracks one dark eye open and leans up to nuzzle at the scent glands on mada’s neck in a familiar greeting. they spend a good deal of time just reaffirming their scent-markers, spreading around their smells so that izuna carries the scent of aniki-madara and mada carries that of otouto-izuna; by the time mada has settled down and permitted his brother to begin to groom his massive, unruly bush of hair, pack-hikaku is there, emanating his angry-rumbles and clenching his claws into fists.

there’s been a patrol of senju wolves spotted by the border, encroaching on the territory of mada and his leopards. normally this would not be the importance – many clans engage in scent-marking patrols to reaffirm their own lands and warn to others to keep-away, back-off – but rival-hashirama and enemy-tobirama were among them. 

the uchiha are in danger. mada’s pack is in danger. 

this will not stand. 

he growls at pack-hikaku, ordering him to gather their most able fighters and march on the nakano. it takes barely five minutes for him to strap himself and otouto-izuna into their armor, and five minutes more for him to dash to the riverside, where there should be rival-hashirama, as of the usual. 

things do not go as of the usual. 

instead of being met by his former friend and tentative packmate, mada is greeted by enemy-tobirama, earless and tailless and growing at him with a too-soft voice and too-blunt teeth. his fingers lack claws, his forearms lack fur, his eyes are red instead of wintry snow leopard green; something is wrong. something is very, very wrong, and it’s only when mada gets close enough to scent him that he figures out exactly what that is. 

sword clashes against gunbai with the high-pitched screech of steel on steel, and for the first time mada is met in combat not by rival-hashirama but by his little brother. for the first time, he gets within sparring range of enemy-tobirama.

this is important; it changes the everything. 

everything, because enemy-tobirama is mate-tobirama, mada’s destined partner, the being chosen by the kami to complete him and love him and scent him and groom him. he smells like oceanic gales and fresh falling snow and blood-soaked metal.

he smells like home-mate-nest-good, and the ambient sounds of battle fade from mada’s perception. everything but mate-tobirama fades from mada’s perception.

there is only the one. there is only the mate-tobirama. 

he’s dropped his sword, human paws gone slack and weak with shock and pretty red eyes stretched with alarm, like he doesn’t recognize his mate-madara, like he is afraid of the blade of mada’s gunbai, like mada will flash-fry him with a katon if he dares to bear his slender white neck, covered as it is by his omnipresent fur ruff and so soft and velvety and bitable, mada assumes.

everything about mate-tobirama seems to be soft and velvety and bitable to mada, which isn’t the true, and he shouldn’t be thinking of it. mate-tobirama is a fearsome warrior, a strong soldier, a famously intelligent second-in-command, and there are none of the doubts that he will be anything but a stellar bitch when mada finally brings him home.

mada only remembers the existence of the border skirmish when rival-hashirama barrels into him with an outraged howl and snapping jaws, prompting a short but ferocious catfight that ends with rival-hashirama – obstacle-hashirama, now, mada supposes – pinned to the ground, mada’s claws around his neck.

never let it be said that he is not fierce in the defense of what belongs to him. 

it doesn’t go right at all from there, though, because mate-tobirama is upset, and violently so. he flaps about and summons suitons out of the air and screeches in anger when mada tries to get close enough to smell him again, which is very of the bad – mada is his mate, mada is by all rights his new alpha, mada will take him to their nest and keep him warm and safe and pampered and loved. it hurts like the burning, knowing that mate-tobirama would protest this very reasonable plan of action, and mada reluctantly withdraws.

he does not go where he is not wanted, and right here, right now, he is very much of the not-wanted.

 

--

 

Three days have elapsed since Tobirama managed to transport himself somehow to an alternate universe, and his patience is at the end of its rope.

The yōkai-people here, if that’s what they are, are more animal than not; they don’t speak, and it’s possible that they can’t speak, depending on whether or not they are physically or intellectually incapable of evolving language. Hashirama, his beloved anija, acts like nothing more than an overgrown dog with abandonment issues, clinging to Tobirama and wagging his tail and staring at him with adoring brown eyes more often than not. Tōka, usually the most sensible of his cousins, insists on rubbing her wrists against his neck every morning like she’s hoping to infect him with the scent of whatever strange perfume she wears, one that Tobirama’s nose is likely not strong enough to grasp the full body of. Mito, his dearest friend, tends to her three little pup-kits more often than not, keeping them sheltered in the sweeping luxurious shade of her nine fox tails and growling at Tobirama when he approaches too closely.

His trip across space must have brought him across time as well – he’s stuck in the old Senju compound, the one they’d lived in before the war ended, trapped in a house filled with shed fur and the crying of young children and the baying of wolves. All in all, he’s almost thankful for what is a recognizable call to battle, and even more so to discover that the strange not-humans who inhabit this world still have armor and jutsus and weapons like proper ninja, even if they can’t bring themselves to act like it. 

He doesn’t know what force drives him to engage with Uchiha Madara instead of Izuna. He just does, and it’s a conflict filled with perfect mutual animosity for all of two seconds before the Uchiha approaches him, close enough for Tobirama, with his terrible vision, to see the delicate spinning red-black of his Sharingan, close enough to notice his pupils dilate and his long black tail drop to the ground and the small dark ears mostly hidden by his unruly mane of hair perk up in what Tobirama would call interest, were he reading the body language of a normal cat. It doesn’t stop the man from bringing up his gunbai to meet Tobirama’s sword, but their fight lasts for barely a moment before he’s shocked into stillness, because—

Uchiha Madara, scourge of the Senju, a man who famously hates Tobirama for nearly killing his brother, is purring. Actually purring. It’s a deep rumbling noise, echoing up from his chest in a soft thunderclap of sound, and Tobirama must be going fucking insane, because listening to it fills him with the strange urge to drop his sword and go closer, closer, closer, within touching distance, and closer still, to invade what any reasonable person would call personal space.

Thank every god there is for Hashirama, who is the only one of the three of them to possess any common sense. He lunges forward at Uchiha with outstretched claws and Mokuton at the ready, snarling low in his throat and lashing his tail in anger. It gives Tobirama the moment of relief he needs to process what the hell just went on, but only a moment, because Madara, for the first time, is winning an all-out battle between himself and Anija. He flips Hashirama to the ground, pinning him there with unsheathed claws pressed against his bared throat and eyes still locked on Tobirama in unerring accuracy that sends chills running up and down his spine.

Tobirama doesn’t panic, exactly, but his reaction certainly isn’t calm, and the red clears from his field of vision minutes later when a fine mist of river foam settles in the air, revealing the sudden absence of every Uchiha from the battlefield. Either Madara called a retreat, or Tobirama managed to beat them back singlehandedly; he suspects the former, but doesn’t dismiss the latter. His rage is a fearsome thing, and Hashirama could have died.

 

--

 

a week passes as mada mopes around the compound, tail tucked between his legs, growling at anyone who gives him a passing stare and refusing to answer any of izuna’s panicked questions. mate-tobirama did not approve of him, did not want him, was upset at his attempt to impress him; what little thing can he find joy in, knowing that? what can he do to keep his mind off of the depressing, heavy knowledge that mate-tobirama considers him – undesirable?

nothing, as it turns out, but mada digs himself into a rut for no reason, because three more moons rise and set and the miraculous happens.

he bathes for the first time in a week, scrubbing old blood and sweat and dried-up despair off his thickly-furred skin, watching as the filth sloughs away and feeling more whole than he can recall being since the discovery of his mate. he still retreats to bed early that night, but he doesn’t plan on lying awake, agonizing over decisions that were not his to make. his paws feel like they have a firmer grip on the earth, now, and mada has never been the weak type; he will recover, he will grow, he will move on, and he will find a way to get mate-tobirama back into his life. 

he doesn’t expect it to be so easy.

as it would turn out, mate-tobirama is not a patient man, and he wakes mada a few hours before dawn by clearing his throat and tapping his fingers against his (beautifully sculpted) biceps, quirking a slender white eyebrow and giving him a disdainful glare, like he hasn’t just appeared in mada’s nest and essentially offered himself up for the taking.

no, no, no, there will be none of the taking tonight. mada is not in the mood despite the squirmy heat in his belly and there is none of the doubt that mate-tobirama is either, and most important of all is the first step any courting couple will take together; the scent-marking.

mada rolls up the sleeves of his sleeping-robe, draws down the collar, and bares his wrists and neck to mate-tobirama, who does not reject him immediately; he actually takes a step forward, something like interest sparkling in his red eyes, and mada decides to count it as a resounding success. his mate is the skittishness, and to properly seduce him, mada must go slow and steady and

 

--

 

It’s a rash decision that Tobirama makes while the full moon hangs fat and heavy at its apex in the night sky, but once he does it, there’s no going back. He’s been fixated on Madara’s strange behavior – strange even for the creatures of this world, since animal or not, Uchiha should still hate him – for over a week, and he knows that his voracious curiosity will get no rest unless he feeds it evidence.

The only way to acquire evidence supporting and explaining Madara’s apparent lapse in sanity would be to find him and examine him, so that’s exactly what Tobirama does.

Sneaking into the Uchiha compound is disappointingly easy, since he has the clarity of mind to suppress his scent with a seal beforehand; it takes all of fifteen minutes and a close encounter with a man he recognizes as Uchiha Hikaku to slip into the main Clan house, and only one more to find his way to what must be the Clan Head’s chambers.

The first thing that enters Tobirama’s head as he crawls through the window is shock at how appallingly messy the damn place is; there are blankets and mats and pillows and dirty clothes everywhere, piled up in strategically-placed mounds and nearly obscuring Madara from view altogether with their sheer volume. This must be the core of his den, then, his nest. Hashirama and Mito had something similar, but theirs was much neater, very likely due to her meticulous sealing-master influence.

This nest, though, is very obviously that of a bachelor, which makes Tobirama thrill for some reason – he’s happy when presented with proof that Madara has no one besides him, which is insane and unreasonable and – oh.

He’s been noticed.

Madara looks at him with wide dark eyes, hair tucked back into a braid for convenience’s sake in a gesture that somewhat surprises Tobirama – he didn’t think Uchiha Madara knew what convenience was – and he plays with the sleeves and collar of his sleep yukata, rearranging the hems so that his wrists and throat are tantalizingly exposed— 

Tobirama clears his throat in a poor attempt to flush his mind of distracted thoughts, and predictably, it doesn’t work, because Madara keens softly at the noise, cocks his head to the side, and very deliberately tips his chin up to bare the long pale column of his neck to the night air.

Foolish, dangerous, idiotic, thinks Tobirama, uncontrolled by his lizard hindbrain. Sexy, thinks Tobirama, completely and utterly controlled by his lizard hindbrain. It’s a behavior he’s seen in his snow leopards before; a sign of submission, a penultimate gesture of trust, which objectively makes no sense. Why should Madara ought to trust him? Why is he not raising alarms and fumbling for his gunbai in the dark? Why is he instead practically asking for Tobirama to bite him and claim him?

 

--

 

mada has done good job. mate-tobirama is transfixed, and his too-big brain has been emptied of all the distracting thoughts that are not about mada – useless thoughts, those are, since mada is his mate and therefore the most of importance to him.

he flicks his tail invitingly, but poor mate-tobirama is practically drooling and doesn’t seem to notice it, so mada readjusts his sleeping-robe back to normal and purposefully clears a space in his nest, one that he definitely did not already have cleaned up specifically for the purpose of scent-marking mate. absolutely not.

it would be the ridiculousness to even suggest it. 

mate-tobirama creeps closer, closer, closer, tentative and cautious like he isn’t a predator, and mada pats the bare spot on his futon, gazing at him expectantly and memorizing the way his throat bobs as he swallows. it takes several minutes, but eventually he’s settled just on the outside of their nest.

it’s immensely frustrating; he’s a genius, he should be able to tell that mada wants to initiate scent-marking with him, that mada wants that delicious smell all over him and his own scent all over mate-tobirama, declaring to the world what they are to each other. mada holds back the urge to spit a small fireball in his face. he must be patient – mate-tobirama is very clearly not experienced in the matters of the courting, so mada will treat him like he is a little baby cub who doesn’t know anything better.

 

--

 

Madara’s eyes go red and black and Tobirama braces himself for a genjutsu, but none comes; minutes pass and Madara makes no move to attack him, only toying with the sheets of his futon and patting the bed impatiently like he’s expecting Tobirama to join him in his nest.

“What the fuck,” Tobirama says to him, and in response he makes an exasperated noise and finally, finally stands, rising on legs blanketed in silken black fur and stepping delicately around the walls of the nest to rest his hands – clawed hands, but sheathed – on Tobirama’s shoulders.

He’s… short. Tobirama has to look down to meet his eyes, and it’s foolish to do so while the Sharingan is still activated, but something urges him to do it anyway, and so he does; nothing happens except for Madara reaching down to grasp gently at his hands and tug him over to the nest, urging him to get inside and settle down in the bare spot that has no black hairs coating it.

He does so, and for minutes more there is a charged silence between them, filled with the auras of their chakra signatures shoving and heaving and warping around each other. It’s almost like a conversation; Madara seems to want him here, growls when he makes motions to go, and so he stays, basking in the volcanic warmth of his starmetal energy and slipping his eyes shut despite his shinobi instincts. He shouldn’t be here, vulnerable, exposed, but he is, and he likes it. Something tells him that Madara won’t hurt him, that he’ll defend him and their nest from any interlopers or bothersome brothers, and Tobirama curls up by his side and simply lets the immense supernova of his life force wash over him in gentle, excruciating waves of hot spring-sunset-wildfire.