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To you I may be very small

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There are very few duties which Touka dislikes as much being stuck on desk duty outside of Hashirama’s office. As Hashirama is the Senju Clan head, there’s usually a fairly steady stream of people meeting with him. Checking identities and making small talk gets irritating exceedingly quickly.

Unfortunately, Touka’s last mission had ended with several poisoned senbon imbedded in her arm and Tobirama razing a slave trader’s hideout to the ground. Although not fatal, the effects from the toxin still linger and the medics have confined her to non-combat activities until further notice. Hence her current situation, playing secretary for her cousin. Still, if one more person with an inflated sense of self importance comes to the desk and start whining at her, she may just end up drop kicking them out of the building, medic’s orders be damned. 

Fortunately for her health, the next group of shinobi to approach the desk are her cousin’s students. Hiruzen appears to be currently acting as the spokesperson, as he steps forward and asks, “Is Hashirama in?”

Touka raises an eyebrow at the quintet. She’s seen them in various stages of disarray before - her cousin has no qualms about running his students ragged if he feels that the situation warrants it, but it’s somewhat early in the day for them to look quite this battered.

“He is.” she replies, and watches in some bemusement as a resigned sort of apprehension spreads across their faces in unison. “Although I believe that Mito just arrived for lunch - can it wait?”

Hiruzen pulls a face. “Probably best not to.”

“Very well then.”

She rises from behind the desk and steps over to the office door, throwing it open without bothering to knock.

“Hashirama! Your brother’s ducklings are here to see you!”

From behind her, Kagami squawks in protest, which turns into a yelp part way through as someone kicks him in the shin. Touka is willing to bet that it was Koharu.

Hashirama looks towards the door from where he’s seated at his wooden desk next to Mito. The papers have been cleared to the side to make room for a collection of dishes and a pot of jasmine tea. “I supposed you’d best come in then.” he says. “You can close the door behind you, Touka.”

Scowling, Touka exits the office and pulls the door shut. Gossip is almost a form of currency in their village, and Touka hasn't had any interesting pieces to barter with for weeks. There's no hope of attempting to listen through the door - when closed, the solid wood door muffles the conversation behind it to little more than indeciferable murmers. Touka considers sneaking around the outside of the building to listen at the window, but eventually decides that she'd be unlikely to make it there without being detected.

Grumpily, she sits back down, eschewing the seat behind the desk in favour of sitting cross legged on top of the desk itself. Abruptly, a loud wail emerges from the office. The door flies open, hitting the wall with a loud thud as Hashirama comes barrelling through it. Touka jolts to her feet in alarm, but Mito has already moved to interfere. Darting across the length of the office, she hooks a foot around her husband’s ankles and sends him sprawling face down on the hallway floor with a shriek.

“Mito!” Hashirama wails, rolling over onto his back. “What was that for?”

Mito’s facial expression doesn’t change, but manages to convey deep disapproval all the same. “Husband, dearest,” she begins, “What exactly were you planning to do? Wander around the entirety of the forest surrounding Konoha, yelling your brother’s name?”

Hashirama waves his arms around, looking rather like an upturned turtle as he denies, “I wasn’t!”

The collection of teenagers peering into the corridor look exceedingly doubtful at the denial. 

Mito takes a sip from her teacup, still miraculously unspilt, despite her movement across the office to intercept her husband. “Your brother is a sensor. I have no doubt that he is fully capable of finding you. And you’ll make it much easier for him if you stay in one place.”

Hashirama blinks up at her, then beams.

"Wait one moment," Touka growls. She's missing part of this conversation, and she's not all that happy about being currently out of the loop. “Why does Tobirama need finding? What happened to him?” 

Hashirama opens his mouth to reply, but at that point Madara comes barreling around the corner, only to come to an abrupt halt when he sees them. He looks somewhat surprised at the odd gathering of people - Hashirama, still flailing on the floor; Touka and Mito glaring at him and various teenaged heads peering through the office door - but ploughs on regardless. “Hashirama, a distress signal just came in from our eastern most patrol - they’ve clashed with an enemy force.”

“That’s where Sensei was!” Koharu blurts, eyes going slightly wide with panic.

Hashirama jolts to his feet so quickly that Touka doesn't register his movement, just an abrupt alteration in his position. “Change of plan." he says, "I’ll head out there.”

Disregarding (or possibly simply not noticing) Mito’s warning glare, Hashirama darts back into his office and over to the window, slides a panel across and jumps out. Half a second later, the assembled shinobi are left staring at his rapidly shrinking form as he bounds across the rooftops.

The clink as Mito sets down her tea cup on the desk echoes in the vacuum left by her husband’s departure. “I suggest you follow him. The last thing we want is Hashirama over reacting and sprouting a new forest.”

Snapping out a salute, the Tobirama's students form up and follow the Senju clan head out of the window.

Madara turns to the two women remaining in the office. “Would someone care to explain exactly what that was all about?” he enquires. “If Tobirama was in the vicinity then that’d be a very valid reason for Hashirama to stay here, not go tearing out of here like he was trying to avoid the daimyo’s wife’s cat.”

Mito looks unconcerned by his interruption and pours a second cup of tea, handing it to Touka. Touka takes the cup - jasmine tea has always been her favourite - but says, “Bribing me with tea is not going to get you out of an explanation.”

Madara nods in agreement and Touka privately thinks that this might be one of the few times that Madara and herself have agreed on anything.

Mito sits down in the chair behind her husband’s desk. “Tobirama apparently managed to de-age himself. From what his students say, he’s likely around ten years old.”

Madara splutters slightly. “What do you mean, de-age himself? Do you mean he shrunk himself?

Touka had thought that she was done being surprised her younger cousin’s capacity to find trouble. She should have known better, really.

“How on earth did he manage that?” she asks. A second thought arises, and she gives a hoot of laughter. “You mean that he beat his entire team of ducklings whilst limited to the capacities of his ten year old body?”

Mito shakes her head. “It was a more thorough job than just a physical de-aging, according to his students.” She gives Madara a calculating look. “We’re not entirely clear on all of the details, but it would appear that his memories have also regressed.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Touka sees the shock flit over Madara’s face and he seems entirely lost for words.

Mito continues, addressing the both of them, “Hashirama will likely keep both of you informed of how the situation progresses, but for now there is that little any of us can do.”

The words are a clear dismissal. As much as Touka hates it, Mito is correct - even at ten, Tobirama is more than capable of looking after himself, and with his abilities as a sensor, tracking down his brother shouldn’t cause him much difficulty. Madara looks like he'd be willing to stay and argue, but Mito picks up the top sheaf of paper from one of the many stacks in front of her and makes a shooing motion with her hand. The resolution in her eyes, so similar to the implacable will of her husband, is what convinces the pair of them that no more information will be gained from pressuring her. 

Touka is still stuck on the notion that Tobirama is literally ten years old. Because Touka has known Tobirama since he was barely a few weeks old, and she remembers Tobirama at ten. She remembers how her cousin was when Butsuma ruled the Senju with an iron fist. How his father accepted nothing less but utter ruthlessness and Tobirama, with his ironclad will and genius mind, was almost always the focus of his attention. 

With alarming rapidly, the situation loses its humour entirely. “His team are lucky Tobirama didn’t kill them.” Touka says.

Madara gives her a narrow eyed look. “Oh? Care to explain that?”

Dammit. She’d forgotten that the Uchiha clan head was still in the hallway. Still, the conclusion is logical enough to anyone who cares to think about it.

“Tobirama is ten. As far has he’s concerned the clans are all still at war with each other, and Butsuma certainly didn’t raise him to show any mercy to enemy shinobi.”

Madara considers that. “He didn’t though. I wonder why not.”

Touka lifts a shoulder in an approximation of a shrug. “I have no idea.”

Then she scowls, her tolerance for Madara’s presence waning abruptly. “If you’ve no other business here, then I’ll have to ask you to leave.”

Madara huffs at her, but stalks down the corridor towards the exit. Touka watches him as he leaves. She’s not forgotten that Tobirama is the one who mortally wounded Izuna, and there is a strong possibility that right now Tobirama isn’t even aware that fact. Touka resolves to keep a careful eye on her little cousin for the foreseeable future. Just in case.