In the mid-morning rain, the colosseum screams. Crisp white walls, inlaid with marks of the wild hunt, tower over an empty, muddy field. Empty of all life but one, a not-quite-man with the blood of a beast, ichor gold and slick across broken skin. Silver hair gleams, limp and plastered to his head, lightning crackling around and around like a halo. Muggy, damp air presses down on the lungs.
Toshiro swallows it.
Clasps his hands tight before his chest, mouth trembling with relief. On his feet he remains, high above the field and the Lightning Beast who stands in a mockery of a battlefield, knee deep in gore and gold. Toshiro’s throat is sore from yelling, just another cry among the millions in the colosseum. They who stamp their feet, hooves and tails and scream to the Great Heavens for more violence, more blood, more death.
The Lightning Beast looks up, so distant that it’s impossible to make out where his mismatched eyes fall. But Toshiro knows, can feel that steady gaze on his flesh as clear as the rain that soaks his clothes. It steals his breath, flushes his sun-kissed skin to shades of rose and summer evenings. Vines creep along his legs, twining and blossoming shimmering petals of deep rouge and electric blue.
“You have fought well, Lightning Beast.” The rumbling voice of the Great Sage booms across the air like cracking thunder, silencing the howls of the crowd. Ringed eyes peer in grandfatherly compassion down at the silver-haired man drenched in rain water and power. “State your prize. Whatever you wish, within the known parameters. As victor, you shall have it.”
Eager eyes press upon the lone man, who walks through the downed monsters he’s gored to approach the walls. Toshiro does not know him. They’d passed on the way in, where Toshiro had been bashfully captivated by smiling eyes and steel-colored hair, wild with static. He’d pressed Sweet William’s into the man’s hands and bounded away, the bundle of small, boldly red-white flowers clashing with the shades of gray and blue the Lightning Beast swathed himself in.
Barring that, Toshiro has never met the man—if he can be called such. A tall, lithe body, two arms and legs; built in a humanoid shape, but radiating the kind of godliness that mortals do not possess. From his soaked, slick hair stands two equally soaked ears befitting a wolf. The mask covering the lower half of his face is intricately carved to replicate the snarl of the very same canine, inlaid with metal and splattered with gold and red blood. He wears his status in the quality of his clothes, the glimmering gems sewn into his overcoat and the beautiful sheen of tempered, ethereal ore his carried weapons are crafted from.
A Hatake. Of the Godly Clan of Wolves that wield lightning as easily as one breathes.
Very few look upon them in battle and live, as proven by the overwhelming victory displayed below.
“The Summer Druid. The one who bears the crest of the Swamp Lands, with eyes the deepest shade of coral rose.” The Hatake says, his voice smooth as a bubbling brook over sanded stones. A clawed hand rises, nails black and dangerous. Gesturing. At Toshiro. “As my bride.”
A gasp at Toshiro’s side, a hand against his arm. Inoka trembles in excitement but does not speak. Cannot, until the Great Sage completes the Gifting. His own tongue is stayed by his shock, by the blooming of lavender roses across his flesh.
“As you wish.” The Great Sage slams his staff upon the carved white stone, standing from his throne. “You there, Summer Druid, descend to the gates.”
Toshiro jolts, movements slow and uncoordinated. Inoka pushes him, urging and eager, her azure gaze wide with delight. To all, this is an honor. To be chosen as a prize. He dashes from the stands at her insistence, bare feet slapping against the rain-slick stone. His summer robe swirls around him, the deepest of reds to the honey-rose hues of sunset, impervious to the drizzle. (He is of the Swamp Lands, used to the damp.) He takes a breath as he descends the stairs, the rejuvenated cries of the crowd at his back, as are the gazes of all who can make him out. The vines and flowers sink back into his skin as he calms himself. In their place, a tangle of thoughts make their home in his head.
Me? Of all the Druids, of all those who attended the Games today. Why me?
He has many suitors, but all within the scope of his home. As a Druid, he means nothing to Godly Creatures of higher standing. He means nothing to a Hatake Wolf, a beast of legend, of war. These skeptic thoughts do not stop the blossoming hope and curiosity, the delicious weight of caramel-sweet desire seeping into every atom of him.
The stairs end. He finds himself before the gate that separates the viewers from the tunnel leading to the colosseum grounds. From the gloom strides the Hatake, the snarling mask glinting in the flare of torch light. It sends shivers down Toshiro’s spine. Rain slides down his cheeks, wets his cherry red mouth.
The Lightning Beast steps through the gate, tall and looming. From him rises the metallic scent of blood, twisted with the honey-salt of godly ichor. As Toshiro noted before, one of the man’s eyes is dark as obsidian, while the other blazes red—pinwheels. The eye of the esteemed Uchiha, children of the Great Sage himself.
“I won, because of you. I won, because I have you by my side, cheering me on and driving me.” The Hatake says, voice mellow and kind, the very opposite of his feral appearance. His cheekbones are soft pink, fingers trembling. “I am Hatake Kakashi, of the Storm Lands. May I know your name?”
Oh, Toshiro thinks, oh.
Across his freckled cheeks bloom the lavender roses he’d thought he’d gained control of. “Aikawa Toshiro, of the Swamp Lands.”
“Will you accept me as your husband?” Kakashi asks, though he need not. Isn’t expected to, rather. For Toshiro is the prize he claimed. “I’m ignorant of the laws of Druid courtship.”
His arm is offered, wet with rain and gore. Armor gleaming under it all, gifted Uzumaki seals painted in lightning blue.
“That’s okay,” Toshiro takes it anyway, and vines curl around their connected limbs, peonies spilling from his flesh. “I shall teach you, husband.”