Madara was at the end of his rope. Ever since they had founded Konoha (after Tobirama had wounded Izuna and then healed him right after, taking a shallow wound himself- the fact that Izuna had struck Tobirama as he was healed still bothered Madara a lot-) something was wrong with his brother; oh Madara had always known Izuna was against peace- he had stopped listening when Tobirama proved he was the better shinobi- but he hadn't anticipated exactly how rabid that hate had grown. Izuna was unmanageable, even as everyone else moved on with all evidence of relief he refused; even as Tobirama came to every meeting with papers upon papers for peace and was the one to draft the first treaty, Izuna wouldn't take his hand off of his sword whenever the albino was around, and Tobirama must have the patience of a saint to ignore Izuna's muttered bile. If there was anything Madara was taking from this it was that Tobirama was amazing; oh it had taken him time to see past the White Demon (he couldn't keep thinking the man cold and empty after seeing his stern face unwavering while listening intently to a small Hyuuga quiz him about tenketsuin points and answering questions with every bit as much thought seriousness as he did any council members- rather more really) but as soon as he had he found a complex, thoughtful man rather too prone to accepting slights he shouldn't - though only against himself, never others, with an habit of falling asleep in odd places- the higher the better (he had asked Hashirama about that and the other man didn't know what he was talking about, Madara noticed that he was one of the few people that could get at all close without him snapping awake in a too quick rush).
It was therefore even more infuriating that Izuna refused to see reason no matter how often Madara tried to talk sense into his brother; bizarrely it even seemed to be getting worse as time went on, when it ought to be getting better (and Madara was ignoring that a good portion of his frustration came from the fact that Tobirama just took it like it was normal, what the fuck?!) and asking discreetly around the clan hadn’t illuminated the problem at all; though it had seemed to make them look at Tobirama a little more closely and Madara had been thrilled to see a reduction in the cold distaste on his clansman faces at the sight of the albino (had noticed the corresponding release of tension in the mans slim frame, slight though it was…. it was possible that Madara was watching him too closely). Basically Madara had no idea what to do with his brother and he knew he had to do something soon before Izuna created a rift in the clan or problem in the village (or his words sunk into the minds of the people that lived here and made Tobirama more ostracized than he already was- White Demon after all); even if that hadn’t been true he didn’t want to watch his brother decline into bitterness and paranoia, that was no way to live and Madara feared that being his fate (a fate he would wish on no one after seeing his father die).
So. what could he do about it? No Uchiha knew what was wrong, Izuna never spoke to anybody else really (except people Madara really didn't want him to), Madara was not going to ask Hashirama, but he could… he could ask Tobirama. After all Tobirama seemed to be part of whatever was going on and had fought him since they were children- and he was a genius, (Madara loved it when Tobirama started explaining a theory or experiment he was working on, he almost never had a chance though, Hashirama would get bored and there wasn’t really a way for Madara to ask) so hot- so he might have an idea about what was going on (help his brother and talk to Tobirama more? Yes please)! Mind made up Madara shook himself and stood from his desk, if he hurried he could walk to Tobirama’s lab with him and ask him there where there was some privacy and he didn’t have to worry about anything getting back to Izuna (Tobirama was working on privacy seals amongst his other projects but hadn’t had time to do them yet- Madara was pissed about how ashamed the albino had looked when he admitted that, as if it was somehow a failing to not have done everything at once, as if he didn’t already work far to hard. Which also worried Madara a bit, he had taken to leaving snacks for the younger man to make sure he eat, his favorites- Touka had helped- so that he would actually eat them even while busy).
So, Tobirama. Madara strode into the Senju’s office (ohmygod eternal flame why did he have to be bending down?!) and cleared his throat smiling when Tobirama looked over at him (ohmysweetfire) and straightened up “Madara” the Uchiha couldn’t fight the pleased expression on his face at the calm welcome, such an improvement on the earlier days; oh Tobirama had always been polite but now he seemed to relax a little when Madara was near, like he felt safer with the Uchiha and that was wonderful in this careful man. “Can I walk you to your lab? I have something I would like to speak to you about in private.” Tobirama blinked at him looking surprised, but nodded easily enough as he finished gathering his things before leading the way out the window and dropping down to the ground from there rather than take the stairs and all the staring (Madara hated that). The walk was easily filled with conversation about their respective projects (Madara wanted to talk to him about non work things…) and the Uchiha enjoyed the calm between them and the way that neither of them got half as many wary looks when they were together (maybe they canceled each other out?), clearly they had never seen it when Tobirama and he got into a shouting match over an issue, arguments that were reconciled easily enough at this point (that wasn’t how it had been at the beginning, but as Madara had gotten to know the other man it had shifted from anger and dislike to passionate ideas and enjoyment of the argument, well, and making Hashirama wail. Sometimes when he was driving both of them nuts they argued just to get back at him. Madara loved those arguments).
Tobirama’s lab was mostly the same as it had been last time Madara was there (not as recently as he would have liked), clean and though clearly organized it was with no pattern that Madara knew and gave it the look of neat chaos, Madara thought that it must be a bit like Tobirama’s brilliant mind (there was what looked like notes on healing of chakra tenketsuin points, definitely a spread of academy related work over there, notes on other clans, and a spread of little things that marked his family, a little misshapen wooden horse, a drawing of his younger brothers, a large seashell), but Tobirama cut short his fascinated observations about the room as he spoke from near the main bench “What did you need to talk to me about Madara?” (he loved the fact that he had successfully convinced Tobirama to use his name without any formality, it had taken him almost nine months, but it had worked). Tobirama raised an eyebrow and Madara cleared his throat, suddenly uncertain how to broach the subject, “Um, so- well- ah. SO, Izuna. He’s… not doing well.” Tobirama snorted a little and Madara sent him a chastising look “I think there’s something wrong but I can’t find anyone that knows what it might be, so I need some help fixing him, you know that he could do a lot of damage with his paranoia- could fracture the entire clan if not the village.” Tobirama rifled through some papers on his desk, hiding his face by half turning away from Madara the silence stretched for a long moment before the younger man spoke “You think something has happened to him? What sort of thing?” Madara shrugged helplessly “I don’t know Tobirama, but he’s not acting rationally.” A faint smile slid across the albino’s pale face before sliding off “And what makes you think it’s not something else? He wouldn’t be the first to be unable to let go of wartime fears and grudges. He has always been deeply afraid of me, you know that.”
Madara stomped his foot in frustration, “Yeah, he’s fixating on you, afraid that the White Demon will use the treaty to ambush us all- even though it’s been a year- and convinced that the ‘Senju freak’ will destroy us all with some demonic jutsu to raise the dead or something-“ (Tobirama’s hands fisted on the desk, well hidden from Madara’s sharp eyes) “-he thinks you’re going to kill us all because you hate any clan that isn’t your own and especially the Uchiha, and even your own clan seems a little careful around you and fucking Hashirama makes so much noise about your forbidden jutsu and Izuna-“ Tobirama stood up abruptly and shoved deeper in to the lab, the sudden movement startling Madara and giving the Senju a chance to speak in a strangely detached voice “So we agree that Izuna’s problem is with me? And that he’s too important to let his… hate continue? Well given that the way the Uchiha remember and your ‘curse of hate’ (which is a stupid name for it by the way) we need to cut it off in the bud.” Madara nodded slowly, he had a bad feeling in he stomach, why was Tobirama not just tidying but looked be putting things away- shit was he setting his notes on fire!?
“Good, then there is a very simple fix as far as I can see. If he needs me dead to be happy then we’ll just let him kill me and that’ll take care of the problem, I just need to take care of a few of my more dangerous experiments and we need a cover story- a mission is probably easiest” if Tobirama kept talking Madara couldn’t hear it over the roaring in his ears (“we’ll just let him kill me, we’ll just let him kill me, we’ll just let him kill me”), what? He- what? what? He was joking right? Right? There was no way he could be serious, but- this was Tobirama, he never joked about anything (dry wit yes, jokes? No) and he seemed completely serious now, was even going around his lab burning his notes –
sometime between blinks Madara crossed the lab, gabbing the slimmer man by the arm, spinning him around and shoving him against the table (had to make sure he couldn’t get away), catching narrow shoulders in his hands “NO” he rasped (Madara realized distantly that he was shaking), Tobirama was staring at him with wide shocked eyes (did he not see how messed up it was to just offer to let someone kill him?!) “…Madara?” He sucked in a deep, shaking breath through his nose “You- you- why would you offer that?” Tobirama’s head tipped to the side and he examined Madara with critical eyes “It seems the best way to fix things to me, if we remove the source of Izuna’s madness then we should remove the madness. It is the fastest and least wasteful way to do it.” Madara wanted to hit something “It never occurred to you that Izuna isn’t really involved in the village at all and you are? You’re an integral part of almost every department in the village and you think you can just die?!” Tobirama’s face went remote and he looked away, voice cold when he spoke “And isn’t any other ways of measuring worth? Izuna is dear to you. You love your brother; I think that is a worthy thing to die for.”
Madara gaped at him, “And you think no one cares about you?” Tobirama wouldn’t met his eyes and Madara’s stomach sank, “…you don’t think that. Please don’t say you think that.” The albino shrugged “It’s not as though Hashirama and I are… I know he loves me, but he doesn’t like me very much and my death would grieve him but not past recovery. The loss of Izuna would cause you deep pain Madara, I know that. That’s why I healed him on that battlefield.” Madara swallowed “That’s why you didn’t move when he tried to stab you” he whispered, the day gaining clarity in his mind (he had always wondered a little about what was going through Tobirama’s mind that day, had wondered ever since he had forced Izuna’s blade away from the albino when he didn’t move leaving Tobirama with only a shallow wound and Izuna healed as Madara held him still – he had never let himself think of what might have happened if he had been a little farther away that day and lost the beautiful, caring man before he knew him, god he never wanted to think about that). Tobirama shifted uncomfortably and Madara, Madara wondered when the hell everyone lost their blessed minds!
Tobirama was getting frustrated, honestly all he had done was give Madara what he wanted! A solution for his problem. And the Uchiha was just leaning closer (it wasn’t making Tobirama feel warm all over, it wasn’t) and beginning to look a little wild eyed, his hair (so fluffy!!! Tobirama wanted to pet it…) seeming to bristle with his anger even as he started to get red in the face (why did even that have to look good on him? Tobirama should be used to this after a year), it was a look Tobirama had only ever really seen on him when he was really pissed. Maybe he was unhappy that Tobirama had brought up the time he almost killed Izuna? He had never seemed that mad about it before… And now Madara was spluttering and beginning to look like he might start going into a full Flail (Tobirama loved those, it was so entertaining and adorable and never ended making Tobirama uncomfortable or give him a headache the way Hashi’s wailing suffocating hugs did when he went into the equivalent, and Madara’s hair got so fluffy and floofy and he stopped hiding his face as he got mad and stood up straight and waved his arms around like he didn’t care about dignity or how much space he took up and he was so honest about his emotion that it made his chakra dance and he seemed so alive and Tobirama loved it). Oh right, Madara looked like he was headed into Flail and it didn’t look like it wasn’t going to be a fun one given that he looked honestly angry (what had Tobirama done?) and the albino couldn’t keep himself from shrinking back against the table a little, afraid of feeling his favorite chakra lash out at him.
Madara paused for a moment and took a couple deep breaths before stepping even closer (Tobirama’s mind took a break for a moment), cadging Tobirama in with his arms on either side bracing himself against the table even as Tobirama recoiled farther to try and give the other man his space, “You. Don’t. get. To. To. Do. That. Damn it!” Tobirama blinked confusedly at him, and Madara made a wordless sound of deep frustrated rage “You are amazing-“ “What? You just said- I’m the Senju freak, you think I hate your clan and that my own clan- and even my brother- find me distasteful and frightening and you just said that!” Madara made a high whining sound and tipped forward until his forehead landed on Tobirama’s collarbone. (Madara wanted to bite it) Tobirama froze, all the wind going out of his sails. hesitantly he raised a hand and passed it careful down the length of his (amazing, soft, fluffy) dark hair, releasing a soft breath when nothing happened and letting the next pass fall a firmer and relaxing into it as Madara leaned more heavily on him (was he purring?); honestly this was the best Tobirama has felt in a long time, with Madara a heavy weight on him and that wonderful hair under his fingers he was happier than he could remember being in a very long time (since Itama died probably).
Tobirama’s mind drifted a little, lulled into warm happiness by the clovesheatsteam and ash soft hair he couldn’t even stress to much about his undone projects and how disappointed people would be if he didn’t get things done on time and- Madara’s arms slid loosely around his waist (ohmygodwhat?) and all he melted a little, sagging into the comfortable embrace. Tobirama lost track of time, focused on gently finger combing the dark hair and was a little surprised by a knock on the lab door, stiffening sharply and suddenly realizing that he hadn’t been paying attention for the first time in a long time; “Who is it?” Madara grumbled (Tobirama must be confused, he would have sworn he felt a brush of teeth. And no it didn’t make him shiver. It didn’t) “One of Hashi’s minions, doesn’t seem to be urgent.” Madara sighed in response and drew away (no! tobira want hair!) and dragged his finger through his fringe “I was trying to tell you what Izuna thinks, Tobirama, I don’t see you as any of that. Truly. I know you don’t hate my clan- so does much of my clan- you spend way too much time with the children to hate us, and you always try to be fair for us. I don’t know why your clan acts like that, or why Hashirama doesn’t treasure you as he should; you frighten me, but only in the best way, only because you are amazing and I adore watching you work on jutsu- or any of your experiments- it’s astonishing to watch your mind work. There’s nothing distasteful about you at all.”
Tobirama swallowed and ducked his head, abruptly wishing he could hide in Madara’s hair, he… didn’t understand why Madara was saying any of that and- Madara hooked his finger under Tobirama’s chin and raised his head, “You can’t just go and die, loosing you would- it wouldn’t be an improvement over loosing Izuna and that’s not about what paperwork you do. Tobirama, however you measure worth, for me you weigh more than any gold, matter more than even my Sharingan; there is nothing I would ever trade for you.” Tobirama could feel heat creeping into his cheeks but… he searched Madara’s eyes for a moment, bit his lip, watched Madara’s eyes follow the movement and slowly leaned in to press a soft kiss to the Uchiha’s lips, which OH. Oh wow. Tobirama suddenly got what the point of kissing was, this was…. Wow. One of Madara’s hands came up and framed his face gently, leaning on the other hand braced on the table behind him a little more heavily when Tobirama curled the fingers of one hand in the ends of that long hair. Well. now that he might have a chance to have this more often he never wanted to stop, not when he knew there was more to kissing than this slow movement, not when it seemed like Madara wanted him back.
Tobirama drew away, licking his lips and chasing Madara’s taste (Madara made a pained whimper), “So,” he murmured roughly “are you- do you- you mean to- I used to wrap myself in your chakra when we were at war when I was upset or hurt, I always felt like I was taking advantage of you a little but you comfort me so much and- I, you are so passionate about your clan and you’re kind and smart and- I. I don’t know how to tell you…” Madara smiled at him and pressed a fast kiss to his lips, “I think I get it, for now at least. But no more talk of dying for Izuna or anyone else ok? We’ll find a different way.” Tobirama blew out a slow breath, examined Madara’s dark eyes and nodded slowly “Ok, but you’re going to take me to dinner.” Madara blinked at him looking taken aback and Tobirama backpedaled “oh- I- you don’t- you probably don’t want to be seen-“ the Uchiha yelped, eyes going huge as he slapped a hand over Tobirama’s mouth “NO! It’s not that at all, I would be so fucking proud to be seen with you, you have no idea. I was just surprised, and happy, I thought I would have to work harder to get you to let me have a bigger place in my life. Though, maybe we should sort out Izuna first” he admitted reluctantly.
Tobirama couldn’t help the mischief that bubbled up in him “You can have as big a space in my life as you want as long as part of it is in my bed” he said, looking at Madara though his lashes; Madara made a pathetic little noise and yanked Tobirama into another long kiss before drawing away “Ohmygod, you are going to kill me dear heart. But yes! Oh eternal flame I am never leaving your bed once I’m in it though, so you had best be sure.” Tobirama smiled “Please don’t, I don’t think I could bare that.” Madara brushed his fingers over Tobirama’s cheekbone “Perfection.”
The Izuna Problem didn’t get addressed until much later, but when they got around to talking about it it was decided that what they needed to do was lock Izuna in a room with both of them and see what happened; Madara was quite convinced that there was some kind of outside influence going on here (Tobirama seemed to think that it was normal for people to hate him like that- Madara had so much work to do) and this was a way to discover it. Honestly after they locked him in Tobirama’s office with him he was inclined to agree, Izuna was acting weird, and there was something…. something about his chakra that was subtly wrong, like mildew spreading through his chakra; some sort of vaguely plant like rot or mold. Huh. “Madara hold him still I need a better look at this.” Madara nodded firmly and grabbed his brother in a tight bearhug, Tobirama dragged chakra covered hands down the younger Uchiha’s body trying to find…. Ah! There. Something unnatural to Izuna’s chakra- unnatural to anything actually- that was seeping through him like a quiet rot; there was a reason chakra depletion could kill for all that most shinobi forgot it; chakra was in a very real way a piece of their spirit and abusing it did more than just effect their power, if could corrode the mind and soul, turning good men against even their dearest family while allowing them to believe they were in the right the entire time.
He sighed and drew back, “There is definitely something wrong, I hesitate to call it a curse, but it isn’t native to him for sure.” Izuna’s struggling stopped abruptly and he hung limp in his brother’s grip, “What?” he asked hoarsely, he might hate Tobirama but even so he knew that the other man’s skill with sensing was unparalleled; if he said there was something wrong there was and that…. The idea that something had influenced him like that without him even noticing was terrifying. Madara frowned darkly, as glad as he was that his brother wasn’t a rabid hatemonger- and he was very glad- it was bad that there was someone willing to do something like this to the heir of one of the most powerful clans in the village (probably the most powerful if you took Hashirama an Tobirama out of the picture, they were a substantially smaller clan after all) “Someone is trying to sabotage us” said Madara darkly, but Tobirama shook his head, “Not the village, otherwise there are other ways to do it, the Hyuuga for one are a clear week point, why attack someone so highly watched as Izuna? Someone where it would almost certainly be noticed? Not this is an attack on the four of us though I don’t know what for.”
“Fuck” muttered Izuna slumping to the floor as Madara released him hesitantly “What do we do next? Can you get it out of me? Can you track it?” Tobirama watched him warily, but other than refusing to look at him Izuna (for once) seemed fine to be around him without hateful words or glaring; it was odd, though Madara seemed pleased and walked around his brother to press a hand to the base of Tobirama’s spine (the younger man leaned into the hand gratefully) which was a welcome sign of his comfort with others knowing what they were to each other now (they had only had to pretend for one lonely week to keep it from Izuna, long enough for Tobirama to secure his office and Madara to figure out how to use the suppression seals well enough to use on his bother, but even that time had hurt, made Tobirama feel unwanted and that Madara was ashamed of him – something Tobirama then felt ashamed of feeling, he should trust Madara more he knew, but it was… hard). Izuna was firmly not looking at either of them and honestly Tobirama felt bad for him, it wasn’t like his hate for Tobirama would go away just because he knew his mid was being affected, in fact, “Madara” he murmured softly “perhaps it would be best if he’s… I’m worried, I can feel the chakra shifting in him and-“ Tobirama felt the movement and a spike of intent but Madara saw it faster and lunged in a dark rush at his brother, baring him to the ground and pinning Izuna to the floor.
Izuna snarled and struggled to throw his brother off in a senseless fury “Tobirama! DO something!” Tobirama darted forward and slammed a green glowing hand to the younger Uchiha’s forehead, making him instantly go limp. Madara pulled himself off of Izuna and to his feet with Tobirama’s help, a dark look on his face “Fuck, what did you do?” Tobirama sighed “I put him into a- well into an artificial coma basically, it had to be deep to keep his chakra low enough not to fight against itself. I can bring him out at any time, it really is as safe as anything can be Madara.” The Uchiha sighed and rubbed at his face looking tired, “Thank you Tobira” he murmured and pressed a light kiss to Tobirama’s lips (Tobirama couldn’t help the small smile the easy affection always brought out in him).
The following days and the exhaustive search for whatever was messing Izuna up was mostly missed by Tobirama as he was helping the medics try to root out the malicious chakra from Izuna’s system and find any other shinobi that were likewise effected- there was thankfully few, and none as bad as him- a task that took all of his considerable attention; so it was with great pleasure that he felt strong arms wrap around him as he was watching a Hyuuga carefully pry the ugly black muck from Izuna, a task she had been at for hours, Madara’s chin settling on his shoulder “Did you find it Madara?” Madara hummed and pressed a kiss to his neck “mm, Yup. Mito found it with some of the Hatake- I love them- and Hashirama and I made it go away. Izuna’s going to be ok?” Tobirama huffed a soft laugh, “Yes dear, as I have told you several times already. Everything is going to be alright now.”
(everything but Hashirama, he was having a meltdown in the background. So torn that he couldn’t even wail as he made saplings spontaneously grow oh my god they’re getting along, we all love each other now and then wither oh my god my little brother has a boyfriend! My best friend has someone else to pay attention to now! and bloom my little brother is happy! He smiled!!! and then wilt oh no. no. No.NO.NO!NO! my little brother might be having sex -)