The first time he meets him Tobirama is in a, well, as the Nara clan would call it, troublesome situation.
Somehow, after he had completed his mission which was to negotiate with the clan head of one of the possible future allies of the Senju, he had the rotten luck to run into the wandering Kaguya clan.
The Kaguya clan, with their bone manipulation kekkei genkei coupled with their bloodthirsty personalities that seem to be their clan trait, are dangerous opponents and no one with a sane mind would ever confront them. Not unless they were looking to go out in a gruesome way.
So he had hidden his presence and hoped against hope that none of those creepily grinning Kaguya clansman spotted him.
Because if one of them took notice the rest would soon follow.
One of them draws in close to his hiding spot and there is a brief flashing images of Tobirama’s body being pierced through with rib cages. They’re horrible images that make him nauseous.
The Kaguya doesn’t seem to take notice of the sensor, however. In fact, their aura was focused, searching, specifically for something… or someone. Tobirama frowns, thoughts racing through his head as he tries to recall if there were any recent news to justify this behavior, before he remembers the shinobi in the tavern he had taken a brief stop at two days ago whispering about a ‘prey’ the Kaguya failed capturing and killing, even losing a huge amount of their numbers to him.
A brief check with his senses and, yes, they seem to be lower in numbers. Well, seemed to be, because all clans preferred to avoid the Kaguya to the point that they don’t actually have any exact details regarding their population.
Then the unexpected happen.
He felt an amount of killing intent he had never felt anything like before press against his entire being, appearing suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, and making all the chakras of the Kaguya spike in....
What sort of monster can make the Kaguya fear of all things?
Not unlike cornered wild animals, the wandering clansman screeches, already pulling out bones from their forearm like some deranged gigantic spider that’s flexing out its several limbs as they all rush towards the source of the killing intent, while some of them rushes away.
Tobirama considered. Perhaps the Kaguya weren’t looking for their escaped ‘prey’…
They were running from it instead.
Damn his curiosity but he had to see who or what this creature was.
Ignoring the voice of Hashirama in his head whining about his curiosity possibly getting him killed one day, Senju Tobirama made his way through the bushes and trees.
Silently, slowly, chakra drawn in as much as possible but not overly so.
And his heart almost stops at what he witnesses.
A man stood there.
Stood there, nonchalantly, calmly despite the waves of killing intent leaking out from him.
His chakra reserves were impressive, seemed to move in an expertise that told Tobirama of great chakra control.
He wore a black cloak, and had his hand on a chokuto strapped to his hip, with dark hair and a dark eye....
But the most blood chilling of revelations...
That distinct chakra signature and physical features screamed Uchiha.
The Kaguya's anguished screams as the man dealt a whoke group of them a killing blow with a swift swipe through the air with his chokuto-he was doing something insane with his chakra there-fell like static to Tobirama's ears.
Why had he never seen this powerful monster of an Uchiha on the battlefield before?
The Senju Clan would have lost in an instant if such a soldier was sent out on the field, or at least they would have lost quite a bit in numbers.
Theories and possibilities raced through his head.
If he looked closely the man looked like a traveler, perhaps the Uchiha had sent one of their own out for special training?
And they planned to use him on the battlefield now?
Troublesome troublesome horrible situation.
Tobirama needs to get out of there, now, and warn the Senju clan-
Because he was so focused on the fight in front of him he failed to register the presence behind him before there was a tap on his shoulder that made him draw out his kunai and stab his assailant-
Well, try and stab his assailant.
Instead his wrist was caught.
“Hello there stalker, enjoying the show?”
In front of him, perfectly solid, was the man that was still slaughtering the Kaguya behind him.
Two of them.
T-There’s two of them-
This is a clone?!
It’s too solid for a clone!
No the chakra is completely the same even twins have differences-
“Closing your mouth will prevent flies from flying in.”
The comment makes Tobirama realize that he has been gaping not unlike a blubbering fool at the enemy, and tries to rectify his mistake by swinging out with his other hand, only to be bodily thrown out into the clearing with a move that he wasn't able to perceive quickly enough as to what it was- or the man was simply too quick for him to be able to properly see what he had done.
He senses the twin that had bodily thrown him to the feet of the other man disappear before he was being looked down by the man himself and-
"What in Sage's name was that?" He asks, almost numbly.
Because this is definitely how he dies, might as well ask.
The man cocked his head to the side, studying him a bit before answering “I don’t see how I’m obligated to tell you.” He says before turning away from him and dashing off into the direction that Tobirama senses the other Kaguya are running away in.
Tobirama was an exceptional sensor, exceptional to the point he can sense the entirety of the Land of Fire.
Moments later there is no traces of any Kaguya chakra signature left, and the man’s chakra signature continues on its way, uncaring, calm, and now that Tobirama focused, there were edges of amusement curling around.
…Tobirama had been spared.
He had, of course, reported this incident to clan head Butsuma. There used to be a time where he would refer to him as father in his head, and he still does out loud, but the mad gleam he sees in the current Senju Clan Heads eyes, the memories of all those children sent into battle for the sake of a meaningless war including his too young brothers…
Referring to this man as his father left a foul taste in his mouth.
Tobirama cared. He is human, and he is not unfamiliar to the concept of hate.
His loyalties lied to his clan.
“This Uchiha… hm. It may be a far fetched conclusion but there is a chance that he doesn’t affiliate himself with any clans.”
The Senju heir blinks his red eyes at his father before he questions.
“And how would you reach this conclusion father?”
The clan head taps his fingers with a frown to his knee, brows furrowed as he stoically seemed to turn over the information he has on mind before revealing it to his second son.
“According to my informants and spies, the Uchiha Clan seemed to have sought after this nomad continuously only to either be avoided or fought off.” He pauses for a moment, a smirk adorning his face. “Some of their scouts even have been scared off by him.” Then he frowns, continuing to tap his fingers onto his knee. Tobirama briefly entertains the thought of slicing the others hand off before banishing the morbid, intrusive thought away. As much as he hates the older man he’s regretfully a good leader. “However, there seems to be no records of this mans existence prior a year ago, which is around the time he seemed to have came to existence. For now, the nomad Uchiha doesn’t seem to be a threat, or at the very least has shown no interest in the war between us and the Uchiha.”
‘Strangely enough.’ are the unspoken words that follow, and Tobirama agrees with…
“Has he also left his Uchiha pursuers alive?” He asks.
Butsuma inclines his head as answer, a brief nod.
Tobirama gets dismissed after briefing Butsuma on how the Hatake clan head had decided to ally with them.
“Ah, so we meet again…” an eye blinks down at him as the owner almost lazily flicks the blood from his chokuto before sliding it back into it sheath by the side of his hip, dark traveling cloak parting slightly to reveal a light colored shirt underneath- which was disconcerting because Tobirama never before met an Uchiha wearing light colored clothing, perhaps except for light blue.
“Do you have something you want from me?” The Uchiha asks him as he turns towards the fallen bodies of bandits- clanless man who have been known for robbing here and there for a while now.
Tobirama stays silent at first watching the man step over the bodies until stopping in front of the dead leader of the bandits, pulling out a scroll from underneath him.
“When you were fighting the Kaguya’s, there was a strange technique you had used…” his voice drifts off as uncertainty settles into him. Against his better judgement he had followed him, leaning towards the possibility that if the man in fact had no care for their war, that he would probably not care if another person learned some of the techniques he used.
“…Oya Oya youngsters these days have so sense of self preservation do they?”
Tobirama wasn’t sure if that was hockey, threat, or both. It was hard to tell when the voice of the owner was so expressionless.
“Which technique are you referring to?” The man speaks again, turning back towards him as he tucked away the scroll. Tobirama takes notice of how the bandit leaders body was now missing his head, but doesn’t comment on it.
What bounty hunters do is none of his business after all.
“That clone technique…”
“Ah, that? It was a very common technique from where I come from.”
He feels his chakra waver with a deep, melancholic emotion, betraying the expressionless voice and face.
“And… where would that be?” Tobirama somehow doubted that it was the Uchiha clan he knew.
“Did you come after me alone?” The nomad asks curiously, though his chakra pulsated with a deep sadness and longing that Tobirama ignored, just like how he had learned to ignore all the other emotions his surrounding would pulsate, no matter how hard it is.
If not mentally trained properly, a day in the battlefield for a sensor would make them mentally insane from all the fear, pain and hatred.
“Yes.” he doesn’t mention how poorly disguised that conversation changing was.
“Huh.” The single black eye studies him for a moment and Tobirama automatically casts his eyes down, a reflexive reaction when confronting an Uchiha, and a spark of curiosity went through the shinobis chakra. “Even though you know I am somewhat related to that Clan… do all Senju like gambling?”
Tobirama keeps the silence before it’s broken again. “Senju Tobirama, right? My name is Sasuke.”
“I will show you how to do the Kage Bunshin.”
The following months Tobirama found himself sneaking out of the compound whenever he got the chance, looking out for the times he could Sasuke was somewhere near the area of the Senju compound.
Each visit to the traveler he comes back with new skills regarding unorthodox techniques, and a surprisingly pleasant feeling in his chest whenever he talked with Sasuke.
Other than the techniques that Sasuke had allowed him to call his own when he got to teaching them to the other Senju when he can, no matter how queasy it made him feel to practically steal another technique, Tobirama had also noted down other things regarding the other.
Sasuke was completely uninterested in whatever went on with the Uchiha clan, and had nearly beaten him black and blue in a kenjutsu spar when Tobirama had ‘accidentally’ referred to him as an Uchiha, telling Tobirama that he is possibly an… well, inbred Uchiha.
The man is used to correcting stances, to teaching, and that told him that either the man was a teacher from wherever he came from...
And to Tobirama, that thought made the melancholy he feels in Sasuke's chakra more noticeable.
If he was allowed to become a teacher then he doubts Sasuke was treated badly, and possibly had close friends from wherever he came from....
Or perhaps he found out his heritage through upsetting means.
He snapped himself out of these thoughts as he dodged an incoming fist before he ended up being kicked aside.
"You're too distracted today." the center of his thoughts says with a narrowed eye, Tobirama still couldn't manage to get him to activate his sharingan no matter what he did, "We're ending it here." Sasuke says with sure decision.
Tobirama hides the brief warmth he feels at the pulsing bits of concern from the others chakra with his grimace of the pain that kick had given him.
His sort of mentor-slash-friend helped him up before making him sit down to check for injuries. "I'm not having the Senju clan after my hide just because of your carelessness."
Of course, Tobirama knew better. He managed to grow on him.
Not that he will tell this discovery to his sort of mentor.
“Is it my carelessness or because of how harsh you are?” He says instead, shoulders relaxing slightly at the feeling of the iryou-chakra- another thing unusual, a healer Uchiha. Ex-Uchiha. “Because I will inform you that you are worse than some of the instructors I know at the compound."
"Less pampering you mean." Reluctantly amused voice answered, too focused as Sasuke was on making sure his ribs wouldn't be cracked.
Quite fell upon them, then Sasuke announced his leave, snuffing out his fire and automatically erasing traces of where he had set camp while Tobirama took his leave back towards the compound.
Neither of them exchanged much words beyond small talk, silently laying ground rules through experiences.
Tobirama wasn't much more communication himself in the first place, thus he found these nearly once a month interactions to be a breath of fresh air.
"Why is it so hard for your lot to take 'no' for answer?" Sasuke stoically tells the Uchiha heir approaching him. Should he take the fact that Izuna only came himself as a sign of understanding?
"You're too much of a threat for us to ignore." The heir bites back instead. "And you are clan no matter how much you don't use our gift bestowed from Amaterasu."
"I would have thought shinobi life taught you not to show all the tricks up your sleeve." He cocks his head to the side ignoring the smaller man who pouted at him and glared at him harsher in frustration and anger. "Sorry, you had more to say?"
There seemed to be 'But' to Izuna's words.
"Yes." It was weird to see that cherub like face sneer. No, not weird. Creepy. Creepy is the word he would use on this... teenager.
God he couldn't believe his own great great whatever grandfather was making him feel old.
"As I was saying, you are a threat, and you are clan… but the Uchiha will leave you alone depending on certain conditions.”
Sasuke’s lone eye blinks once, twice. Then he sighs, shifting to make room on the worn mat he had laid out on the ground in front of his makeshift fire, offering one of the two roasted fishes he had manages to catch for todays lunch.
“I’m all ears.”
Anything is better than having Uchiha following him around. Seriously, they were almost worse than his fangirls were.
“So I might have ended up with another apprentice.”
Tobirama blinks his red eyes once, then twice. He doesn’t think he has ever seen Sasuke looks hesitant before.
“…Why do you look like I’m about to bite your head off?” It’s rather silly if Tobirama were to be honest. Sure, he was holding out longer against the man now in their Kenjutsu, Taijutsu and Ninjutsu spars, but he was at most a harmless kitten compared to the man that practically massacred the entire Kaguya clan.
And has also hunted down several bounties, and has more than once fended off Uchiha Madara from taking him back to the clan.
"Whoever this apprentice is it's not like I would be able to do anything about the decisions." Even though, the reminder that his mentor had a lie going on outside of their monthly meet ups, to the point that he wasn't the only one Sasuke had a close relationship with....
Tobirama couldn't say why, but that bothered him just the slightest bit.
But he wouldn't have time to dwell longer on that feeling during the time Sasuke isn't around. He would be too caught up with the Senju clan's state of affairs, making sure Hashirama wasn't shirking off duties, preparing the children to become soldiers, running missions given by Butsuma...
....Perhaps he should look into summoning scrolls.
Sasuke sighs using one hand to pinch the bridge of his nose.
"The Uchiha offered a few conditions in return of ceasing their persuasions of me."
And Tobirama was smart enough to know what that meant.
"I-" he began, feeling a unmistakable feeling of pain curl up in his chest, clenching his fist and gritting his teeth. "You didn't pick any sides to begin with."
It was easy to forget, but Sasuke had nothing to do with the feud between the Senju and the Uchiha.
Sasuke hadn't picked a side when he had decided to show Tobirama a few techniques.
Tobirama knew that.
And yet he... felt unpleasant.
It felt unfair but there was nothing unfair about this at the same time.
"You're not leaving." Touka observed quietly.
Tobirama's hand momentarily stopped writing out a reminding note regarding one of the seals he was working on before continuing. "Yes."
"Did you have a fight with the lucky kunoichi?" Touka mused and Tobirama spluttered making a mess with his brush and ink before he managed to compose hismelf.
He groaned burying his face into his hands at the revelation he just had while his cousin watched in amusement.
"Touka I'm not interested in that."
A weak lie.
He has just now realized he is very interested in that, just not with a kunoichi.
His cousin, the only Senju kunoichi and third strongest Senju next to Hashirama and him, hummed with narrowed eyes.
"Perhaps my dear cousin is interested in boys?"
"Someone I know? No? Oh my! Not even a Senju! Who might this be?..."
Tobirama groaned. Touka was too damn good at reading him.
"I'm not seeing him right now." He finally revealed with a huff, inventions completely forgotten as his cousin openly beamed at the reveal of information. "And he doesn't know, and is most likely not interested in a relationship with me."
Touka frowns with interest, leaning forward away from sharpening her own weapons as she metaphorically perks her ears. "You've started disappearing once a month after..." she trails off, eyes widening. "Oh Tobi."
"He's not with them." He continues subtly checking if his privacy seals were activated with a sweep of his chakra, satisfied when he realised they were, just as always whenever he occupied his room. "He has no wish in having a part in our war, it's only because I've pestered him long enough that he started teaching me the techniques he knows..."
"You've persuaded the definition of a walking volcano to teach you?!" She hissed with alarm. "So that's where all those techniques were coming from..."
"Yes, as I was saying."
She quiets, looking apologetic.
"He's been mentoring me for quite sometime now and... recently he has gotten an additional apprentice."
"...Is it an Uchiha?"
Tobirama sighs. "Yes."
Touka hums contemplatively. “You feel betrayed.” She offers. “Were there set expectations?…”
Another deep sigh, this time added in with a hand rubbing his face as he realized the stupidity of it all.
“There you have it, communication problems.” It was unfair how his cousin sounded so dry and uncaring now that there was answer.
"Not going to tell me on Butsuma?"
"Hell no. Go and have a proper chat with your mentor."
Senju Touka was a dismissive creature when it came to problems that in her opinion had simple solutions, especially when she trusted her two cousins to be strong enough to handle them. Senju Tobirama, was in return, grateful for the simple but sound advice she gives.
Izuna was a determined student that took everything Sasuke said a bit too seriously for his tastes. So, of course, he had took a leaf from his own sensei’s book.
By messing with the younger Uchiha.
Sage, did watching the others expression morph into incredulous before resigned made him feel old. And it was strange, feeling older than his own ancestor.
Nonetheless he understood the fun Kakashi-sensei must have had as he watched Izuna run away from a horde of savage squirrels- types of squirrels that were particularly vicious. Izuna would certainly have an easy time to collect that particular gemstone, after all, the squirrels no matter how vicious were nothing compared to the apex predator the Shinobi were. Mindless creatures that unlike Summons would not think to escape, would not think to deviate from their main goal…
And that is where the challenge comes.
Steal the gemstone Sasuke had hidden among their food, without killing them.
His new student wasn’t one to back down from a challenge, thankfully. Sasuke might intervene at some point, but for now he was entertained to watch the Uchiha snarl and curse.
He hears the sound of footsteps, made purposeful, before out of the corner of his right eye he sees shock of white hair.
"Torturing your new student I see."
Sasuke carefully remained calm as he answered Tobirama.
"It will be troublesome for me if you attempted to kill him."
"Are you allies with the Uchiha now?"
"No. I do not go so far as to care what Izuna, nor you do outside of our lessons. Though it would be disappointing if you died after all the hard work I put it."
Sasuke was never good at reading people. Sure, he can tell what they are planning, calculate what their end goal behind their actions may be, but he can never understand why.
It's a truth he had came to understand when he had reached adulthood. Everyone was too different from each other to truly understand. Even if a Yamanaka may know what goes through another ones head, and have the knowledge to help another ones mind, they cannot understand, though they cannot certainly be the closest to do so.
Humans can't form hiveminds. Not even the Aburames were able to achieve such a technique.
And Sasuke cannot tell why his possibly ex student seems to be a mixture of disappointed and relieved, judging by the small tells in the others body language.
"...Can I see you next month then?"
Sasuke feels an ache he didn't realize he had subside, and feels himself breath easier as a small smile tugs at his lips.
"I will come on by. Maybe I will bring Izuna as well." He makes sure his face stays stoic at the sight of his Senju wards expression. "Kidding."
"You better be." Huffs the younger man before he dissapears with a shunshin.
"HERE IS YOUR STUPID GEM!" Sasuke catches the thrown gem with his hand effortlessly.
"Finally put them under a genjutsu I see." Sasuke says in a bored tone, thoroughly enjoying the glowering face of the Uchiha.
Tobirama was 20 years old now.
He wasn't one to celebrate his birthday, though Hashirama would still do his best to find a way to get Touka, Tobirama and some of his students to get the chance to surprise him somehow.
While he would find it pleasant, he can’t also help but frown at the time wasted when the children could spend that time improving themselves.
He has long since learned to not voice these thoughts however.
The next day, the day after Hashirama had dragged him to celebrate, he sensed Sasuke's presence and thus decided to make his swift getaway from the compound.
Of course, it was getting harder to leave, especially with how more mad Butsuma seems to be getting, eyes completely trained on Tajima.
If the situation wasn't so disturbing he would tell his father face to face he should elope with the other clanhead, considering how much alike they seem to think.
Seriously though, this is the most bloody horrific romance novel he has ever been a part of.
'Well' he thinks the moment he sees his mentors face, watching as the single eye the other shows softens upon catching sight of him. 'Maybe not so horrific.'
Of course, blood was still involved because what is shinobi life without blood?
He rethinks that thought a third time when Sasuke opens his mouth, expression this time twisting into something familiarly mischievous. He had stopped pretending to be stoic after both him and Izuna caught onto his devious, trickster ways.
"So, a little bird told me that both of you have been born on the same day! What a mighty coincidence!" His voice almost sounds like it's singing with glee, and that makes Tobirama wary as he eyes Izuna that stands across from him with an equally wary gaze directed at their mutual mentor.
Neither Tobirama nor Izuna have ever shared the same lesson, being aware of each other but mostly avoiding any interaction as much as possible.
Clearly, Sasuke had tricked both him and Izuna to be staying in the same field together.
"As a birthday present," the older man materializes a scroll with a puff of smoke in his hand “I’ve bought you summons that I feel will fit both of you.”
There is only one scroll in his hands.
Silence descends before Izuna asks with suspicion. “What’s the catch?” And regrets it when Sasuke spends a good few minutes pretending to think before he makes the scroll in his hands disappear and-
“The one who gets the bell gets their reward, the one who loses gets to spend quality time in the river… with some of my venomous snakes.”
Tobirama absolutely loathes the smirk on the others face and absolutely loathes the day he had met Sasuke's snake summons. when Izuna and he immediately dash forward with their swords drown out.
“I think Senju should get the scroll.”
“You came up with the plan-“
“And you contributed to it, and were amazing with your improvisation.”
“We’re shinobi why are you trying to be honorable?”
“It’s not honor when I really don’t want to get a summons I didn't earn. Besides, I don't trust him."
"So you're throwing me to the wolves?!-"
After wryly pondering on wether he should punish the two for talking about him like he isn't there he decides to materialize the other summoning scroll.
"Congratulations, you both win."
"TWO SUMMONING SCROLLS?!" Predictably, Izuna bursts with rage, eyes wide with rage, teeth bared and hands held in front of him like he desperately wants to strangle Sasuke's neck.
"YOU HAD TWO OF THEM ALL THIS TIME?!"
Tobirama looked stoic, the only indication that he was feeling irritated was the twitching of his fingers and the small bits of killing intent he was letting out.
"I never said I had only one summoning scroll." He teased.
If Sasuke were to be honest, he didn't really think the bell test would make them develop a friendship. The thought had cross his mind, but he didn't count on the bell test to work to this extent.
He catches sight of both of his students making quick signs to each other, a macroscopic twitch in the both of their glaring expressions speaking of a promise of combined mischief.
Perhaps he has started something unbelievably troublesome, either for the worst or the best.
"Now, I'm going to guess you know how gaining a summons go?" He prompted. Izuna nodded in answer, but Tobirama stiffened slightly.
Unsurprising, considering that Tsunade seems to have been the only Senju in history to go down the sage path and gain a summons. The Uchiha are more known for their bird summons.
"The Senju aren't ones to call on summons I suppose?"
"No..." he sounded embarrassed, which was ridiculous in Sasuke's opinion.
"There is no need to get embarrassed about that, though I wonder how come you didn't ask me about it the moment I summoned my snakes..." The head of the snake clan in this time period, was more pleasant to talk to, certainly more than Manda was. Though they were still bloodthirsty and loved preying on anyone that isn't Sasuke, or someone that is considered 'his'.
"Not to mention how you seemed quite eager to get that bell despite not having the interest to ask me about it..." he tilted his head to the side. "Are you that eager to please me Tobirama?"
Interestingly enough the Senju heir's pale face turns red before the other splutters "No-I-"
"Just kidding." He says tonelessly before the other could flounder further in embarrassment. His students could truly be cute sometimes.
Izuna, for some reason, seems to have a strange expression on his face.
'I'm sure it's nothing I have to worry about now.' He thinks as he hands each of them their respective scrolls, "Izuna, how about you show Tobirama how it's done? Oh, also, I'd advise you to warn your clanheads before you take your leave."
"We're going to be having joint lessons from now on starting next month."
He leaves with a single handsign, disappearing in a blur.
"You have terrible taste Senju."
"Shut up it could be worse."
"It could have been your brother."
"I hope your summons kill you in the test they give Senju."