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The fact that Mito was chanting fuinjutsu standards under her breath was mildly hilarious.

“Never cross layers one and three together,” the woman muttered, looking like she wanted to be pacing. “The juxtaposition of odd and even chakra points causes an explosion-”

“Normal people bite their nails or perhaps fidget when they’re nervous,” Madara suggested innocently, inwardly snickering when she turned to glare at him.

“I’m not nervous,” she retorted. He stared at her with a blank expression or a few moments. “Very well, I’m nervous. I don’t even know why. It’s just- it’s just Toka,” she said as she began to flush. “There’s just something about it all that’s nerve-wracking.”

“So there are things that crack your composure,” Madara said victoriously, practically beaming when she glared at him again.

“Just you watch,” she warned, “when you get married I’m going to mock you. You’re going to be pulling your hair out.”

“Good thing I’m never going to get married, then.”

A glint appeared in her eye. “Are you sure?”

Mildly unsettled, he stared at her as the grin fell off his face and his eyes narrowed. “…yes.”

She hummed as if she knew something he didn’t and smiled secretively. “Of course.”

“I’ve already told you-”

“Yes, yes, we know, that the Hokage couldn’t possibly want you naked and writhing in his bed,” the just arrived Izuna interrupted with an eye-roll, making Madara turn scarlet. “Honestly, aniki, you should just proposition him at the reception tonight and get it over with.”

“I do not know why you two are so stubborn and insist on making comments with no evidence stop laughing, you two,” Madara hissed, interrupting himself mid-sentence as they giggled at him. He huffed and turned away, stubbornly ignoring them. They were even worse together.

“He’s pouting now,” Izuna whispered, making him twitch.

Mito hummed. “He does that a lot.”

“Ooh. Striking,” Izuna said when Madara turned to glare at them again, accentuated by the kohl lining his eyelids- although the shimmery green on them wasn’t the most intimidating. “That was a good fashion choice.”

“It’s an Uzushio tradition,” Mito said, preening. “Each member of the bridal party wears an eyeliner and pigment such as this.” She’d chosen a pretty shade of mulberry for herself, a deep azure for Izuna, and lavender for Naori. “Traditionally only women have worn it, but you two do look quite spectacular.”

“Anything that accentuates the eyes looks amazing on any Uchiha,” Izuna said, pretending to be smug as he smiled and closed his eyes to show off the subtle sparkle his eyeshadow gave off.

Madara grumbled and looked up when he spotted the other bridal party walking towards them on the path that led to the area they’d chosen to perform the ceremony at. There were a few other Senju and others following both parties, including Hikaku and Inoue, but it was a small amount overall. More people would be at the reception afterwards.

Mito froze and started to blush when she saw Toka, adorned in her own wedding attire and her hair pulled into a ponytail rather than her usual bun. Tobirama, her own man of honor, walked alongside her as Hashirama led them towards the other group with a blinding grin.

Madara’s eyes fell on the Hokage and narrowed. He wore a black haori over a mint green kimono that was the exact same shade of eyeshadow he was wearing. He cut a glare at Mito, who only hid behind her kimono sleeve and smiled as she watched Toka approach them.

“Good morning! It’s a lovely day for a wedding, isn’t it?” Hashirama exclaimed when they met at where the path split, chipper. His eyes lingered on Madara in his formal attire a moment longer than necessary. They all had on a few extra layers underneath to combat the cold, but it didn’t take away from the image at all.

Toka moved to take one of Mito’s hands, trying to remain composed, and failed as a rosy hue began dusting over her face. “Are you ready?”

“Yes! Of- of course, I am,” Mito stammered, turning redder at her fumble. Madara smirked in amusement as he stepped into his place on her right, cutting an amused glance at Tobirama on Toka’s left; the Senju looked a bit amused by his usually unflappable cousin’s demeanor.

Hashirama smiled at them both before turning to lead them up the path. Madara glanced back at the rest of Toka’s attendants, curious to find a Nara he could have sworn he’d seen Naori hang around with and Tamaki, dressed in black like most of the men there. Miki, from the back of the line with the few other guests there, kept shooting her glances with a reddened face. He turned away with another smirk.

They reached the shrine and filed up the steps, taking places on the ground in neat rows as Mito and Toka stopped at the front. The wedding was a mish-mash of Senju, Uzumaki, and Uchiha traditions that had been absorbed into the event; Hashirama began reading from an Uzumaki marriage rite, setting out cups for the two to drink from that were carved with the Senju emblem around the rims.

The two turned to each other after they’d drunk to present their vows. Mito withdrew her comb from her sleeve, holding it with both hands, as a flush overtook her face.

“In Uzushio,” she began quietly, eyes drifting to her hands, “women who fell in love and chose to live truly with each other carved combs for each other, as they couldn’t be so obvious to give each other rings. However, in the same way, it represented their bond and a promise to stay together. When I first came to Konoha, I…didn’t believe that I would ever find the happiness I wanted, but everything changed for me when I met you. You mean more to me than anyone ever has, and I want to stay with you for the rest of my life. Please accept this.”

She gingerly held the comb out, having turned beet red. Toka stared at her in adoration for a moment until Hashirama reached over and nudged her and she jumped, flushing. “O-of course,” she said in a hushed tone, reaching out and taking the comb. She stared at it for a moment before lifting it to her hair and carefully inserting it into the base of her ponytail. “And, for you, ah…”

Mito glanced up at her curiously. Toka cleared her throat and reached into her own sleeve, pulling out a comb carved a bit less intricately and with a slightly darker wood but with no less effort put into it. Like Mito’s, it was painted with violets. Mito’s eyes went wide, startled.

“I know you’ve given up many things to stay with me. I’ll do whatever I can, for the rest of my life, to make sure that you’re happy, for better or for worse,” Toka said, resolutely ignoring her own blush.

Mito’s eyes started to look watery. She glanced quickly at Madara- who else could have told Toka what to do?- something appreciative in her gaze as a small smile settled on his lips. She placed the comb in her hair and savored in the feeling of cool spikes resting against her scalp, thinking of the times she’d seen them- rare as it had been- as a child, wishing she would one day get to experience the same thing, how long she’d spent thinking she never would.

Madara glanced at Hashirama. He was staring at the couple with a soft expression, eyes warm; he would have been happy for anyone, but seeing his cousin find her happiness made him feel giddy. “The rings, please?” he asked. Normally he would have had them, but Toka had told him Mito wanted one particularly Uchiha tradition very much.

All eyes turned to the aisle created by the guests sitting in two groups. A moment passed in silence. Madara raised an eyebrow.

“Kagami!” Miki whispered frantically from the back. “That means you!”

“Oh, right!” A dark head of curly hair popped up from behind Inoue’s back. Kagami stepped out from behind her with a cushion in hand and ran as quickly as he could without dislodging it, passing by the front row as they smirked to themselves and Izuna grinned at him.

“Sorry,” he said with a blush as he stopped before the brides, blushing heavily and holding up the cushion.

“At least you didn’t forget to bring them entirely,” Mito teased as she bent down, picking up Toka’s ring as Toka plucked up hers. She ruffled Kagami’s hair with a smile and he reddened even further, turning and running back down the aisle clinging to the cushion.

She straightened and held out her hand, her smile practically sparkling as Toka placed her own into her palm. She placed the ring on her finger and held out her own, watching Toka place her ring with a face that matched her hair.

“With the authority of the Hokage, I now pronounce you to be married,” Hashirama said, sounding delighted. “Brides, you may kiss.”

Toka turned to her with a shine in her eye. Warmth blossomed in Mito’s chest as she leaned in, cupping Mito’s face between her hands, and she grasped Toka’s waist as they pressed their lips together.

The guests and the Hokage began clapping, both Inoue and Naori calling out congratulatory yells, and Mito reached up to grasp one of Toka’s hands. “To the banquet hall, wife?”

Toka grinned down at her. “To the banquet hall, my dear wife.”


 

Tobirama’s face was stony as he stood up in between Toka and Hashirama, a glass of wine in hand, and it was mildly hilarious because Madara could see he clearly thought Hashirama more suited to this task. He could make a speech to shinobi on a battlefield well, but social situations- much more troublesome.

The banquet hall- the very same they used to welcome large foreign delegations, now filled with many Senju, a slightly smaller amount of Uchiha, and a few guests from other clans- went quiet as one of the men of honor from the bride’s table tapped a spoon against his glass. As was Tobirama’s nature, he kept his speech succinct and to the point, and Madara thought that was much better than if he were to try and make something long, drawn-out, and overly sappy that would end up looking awkward and ridiculous.

“A toast to you and your marriage, cousin,” he finished as he raised his glass. “I wish you and Mito a long and happy life together. May your pursuits be fruitful and blessed.”

The room erupted in quiet applause as they took their toast and Tobirama sat down, giving Hashirama a dull look when he elbowed him with a grin. The guests quieted again a few moments later as Madara stood up.

“Good afternoon, everyone,” he greeted, and paused to take a sip from his wine. That was everyone’s first warning. “Do I have a story to tell you.”

Beside him, Izuna giggled and quickly folded a hand over his mouth to suppress it.

“Oh, no,” Mito muttered.

“You may not be aware,” Madara continued, tossing his bangs out of his eyes with a flick of his head, “but, when these two first initiated their relationship, there was a certain incident that involved Mito knocking down my door at around…what was it, one in the morning?” He tapped his chin and Mito knew for a fact that he could remember correctly- he was just being a jester. “That was it, wasn’t it?”

He directed the question to her and thus everyone’s attention her. “Yes,” Mito mumbled, covering her eyes with her sleeve as Toka gave her an inquisitive glance.

Madara hummed. “Yes, one in the morning. A rapid knocking, you see. Could have awoken anyone.” He reached down with the hand fan everyone in Mito’s party carried and rapped it quickly against the table to demonstrate. “Of course, what do I find when I greet her? A woman inconsolable. Hair half out of her bun, kimono hastily tied, absolutely frazzled.”

Mito bit her lip and struggled not to let her shoulders shake. She could not believe Madara was telling this story. He was- utterly shameless. Despite the short-lived embarrassment it prompted, she couldn’t help but want to laugh.

“What could possibly ruffle Uzumaki Mito’s legendary composure? She had, by her own words, gone on a walk with her to-be wife, and it was…” He flicked open the fan and turned his face aside, closing his eyes as he pressed it against his cheek. “Amazing, Madara,” he said, mimicking the breathlessness of her tone. Mito let out a hysterical giggle at the same time as several guests did. He opened one eye, smirking, though his tone didn’t change. “She has such broad shoulders and beautiful hips and I want her to have me for brunch.”

Toka clapped a hand over her mouth in mirth, glancing at Mito, whose eyes had started to water as she quivered and tried not to laugh.

Hashirama…couldn’t help but stare, because while he knew it wasn’t wise to operate under stereotypes- and he wasn’t- but Madara made quite the image in his kohl and green (why didn’t he wear green more often? It complimented his skin beautifully-) and with his fan mimicking his friend- and he knew many men in the Senju who would never dare do something that seemed feminine. Madara didn’t seem to care.

“Thus, in case you ever happen upon a clearing by a pond in the forests with a few broken branches, an odd symbol carved into the bark of a tree, and an odd lack of fish, you can make a guess of your own as to what transpired there,” Madara finished with a smirk, raising his glass. “A toast to this joyous and exciting union. May you never part ways even into death.”

“May you never part ways even into death,” every single Uchiha in the room murmured as they took a sip of their drinks, startling the other guests and gaining a few confused looks.

Hands shaking, Mito raised her own and uncovered her face long enough to catch a glance of the watery-eyed grin Toka wore. She burst into a giggle fit as Madara sat down with a self-satisfied expression and not one person in the room could keep from snickering or smiling in amusement.

“A wonderful speech, aniki,” said Izuna as he stood up, somehow on his fourth glass of wine yet still not showing even a small sign of being tipsy. “And now for another tradition of ours. The first dance goes to the happy couple.” He gestured at Mito and Toka with his glass, smiling, and motioned for the band to start playing the first of their music.

The Uchiha in the room stood and began dragging tables away from the center of the room, assisted by the others when they understood why. Those behind the brides’ table stood and shuffled out into the crowd, letting Mito and Toka walk to the center of the floor as a slow tune began to float through the air.

Mito held out her hand with a sparkle in her eyes, pulling Toka close and setting a hand on her waist. They shared a smile as they began a slow circuit around the dance floor, in complete rhythm with each other, staring into each other’s eyes the whole time. It felt as if it were something out of one of the few fairytales Mito had found in the Uzumaki archives as a young girl, buried beneath scrolls and countless books about history and fuinjutsu, a few ill-kept stories that had been tossed into the bottoms of bins without care.

The music sped up to a moderate pace; they twirled and changed leads as Toka wound an arm around her waist and Mito moved to grasp her shoulder. “You like my shoulders, hm?” she teased in Mito’s ear, grinning cheekily as her wife’s face heated up.

“There is no part of you I don’t like,” she murmured. “In fact, I find I love it all very much.” She waited until they’d spun again and leaned her forehead against Toka’s, closing her eyes. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Toka whispered in reply, breath catching. “And I’m very glad right now I asked Madara to show me how to dance.” It had been…a little weird, leading Madara around the odd, large empty room the Uchiha seemed to keep for no purpose, but he was strangely forthcoming with it.

A giggle erupted from the Uzumaki. “I’ve told you he’s so much nicer than he seems.”

Standing among a few people in the crowd, Madara watched them dance with a smile. He had not seen Mito so uncontrollably giddy for so long. She was, perhaps, his first true friend after Hashirama, and he would let nothing ruin this moment for her.

“Wonderful, isn’t it?” Hashirama’s voice murmured into his ear, making him go rigid. “A happy day for everyone.”

Madara kept himself from jumping and swallowed. He hadn’t heard Hashirama approach or even noticed that he’d ended up in the same area of the room as him. “Yes,” he said, trying not to stutter, and he shivered when Hashirama placed a hand on his back- a motion he’d done a thousand times before, but this time lower than what seemed appropriate, just over his hips. It made a pleased sensation flow through him even though he knew he shouldn’t feel as such. Did Hashirama not even think about where he touched him? “I suppose you have a new cousin.”

He shifted, just slightly, to the left, but Hashirama seemed to follow him. It delighted Madara’s subconscious to have him so close but he knew he would act stupid if given the chance. His face was already heating up.

“I love gaining new family,” he told Madara with a grin, and the Uchiha cursed the fact that he was standing on the side he didn’t have any bangs to use to avoid looking at him. “Mito’s party looked dashing. You cut quite the figure, Madara.”

“Oh,” Madara muttered, feeling like he could hear his pulse beating in his neck. “Right.”

“Especially this,” Hashirama said, and Madara again cursed the total lack of boundaries the Senju had as he reached up and brushed the back of his fingers against Madara’s face. He was hardly remembering to breathe, now, and he could feel his flush spreading to his neck. “You look handsome in green. You should wear it more often.”

“Is that so,” Madara said distantly, wanting to permanently slide into the floor. He wondered if Hashirama realized that shade of green was the exact one he himself was wearing. He risked a glance at the man’s smiling face and immediately regretted it when his grin widened. “I, ah…”

He trailed off, not knowing where to go with his train of thought. Hashirama, however, was delighted. He hadn’t quite known what to expect when he’d thought to close in on Madara and voice what he’d been thinking for a few hours, but the man’s reaction seemed coy.

Madara had never spoken about anyone he liked, but Hashirama’s gut was telling him his interest lied in men rather than women.

Across the room, Kotori watched the Hokage stroke her former clan head’s face while he did his best to stare a hole into the floor, standing there with folded arms and a face that resembled a tomato. “Are you seeing this? Are you seeing this shit?” she hissed, flapping her hands in Madara’s direction like an angry parrot. “He’s flirting with him! He’s clearly flirting with him! How has he not noticed yet?”

“I’m in pain,” Futoshi muttered, slumped over in a chair. “Someone stab me and put me out of my misery.”

Hikaku watched Hashirama as he moved close enough he was practically breathing into Madara’s reddened ear and cringed. “I thought if Hashirama realized his feelings this would start moving along more quickly…”

Kotori groaned. “Someone please just tell him already.”

“It isn’t our place, Kotori…But I have been tempted.”

Izuna wandered the room, keeping one eye on the dance- he could mingle, but it was respectful to pay attention- and shuffling through the Senju in the crowd with a bit of awkwardness dogging his path. He still couldn’t make himself engage in- god forbid- small talk with any of them, complete strangers, and it was a bit suffocating to be in a room with so many at one time. A select few- including that man, what was his name? Kenichi?- eyed him as he passed and moved out of his way, so obviously avoiding him he had to try not to be offended.

His gaze caught on stark white hair in the room. He never thought he would feel relieved to see Tobirama, but at least he knew him.

“Tobirama,” he greeted, trying to look unbothered as he stopped near the table the man leaned against.

Tobirama glanced away from the newlyweds as if he wasn’t quite startled at his appearance, but hadn’t been expecting him to talk to him. “Izuna,” he greeted, with a politeness that was both weird and unnerving. “Enjoying the festivities?”

Izuna shrugged. He took a sip of his wine as he watched Mito and Toka dance. “Festivities are always enjoyable.”

He noticed Kenichi in the crowd, staring at something- or someone, probably- with a frown. Their eyes met and the man’s gaze narrowed into a glare. He turned and disappeared into the crowd.

Izuna pressed his lips together and decided to ignore it. A small crease formed in Tobirama’s brow as he stared at him, wondering what his sudden dissatisfaction was about.

“It’ll pick up in a few minutes,” Izuna said with fake cheer to avoid addressing it, draining his glass and twirling it by the stem. Tobirama stared at him for a moment more before deciding to simply nod and turn away, and they stood there in mutual silence that was at least more comfortable than wandering the room.

Izuna, who had the great fortune of being closest to the door, looked up when a flash of red caught his attention. A man entered, a mere few feet from him, standing out due to his shinobi attire in a room full of wedding-goers. Madara had already thought to warn him about any Uzumaki who thought to show up.

“Something you need, sir?” he purred with fake politeness, stepping into the man’s path and causing him to draw up with narrowed eyes. He looked Izuna up and down, from his blue eyeshadow to the small heel on his sandals.

“I’m here for my cousin,” he said, tone clipped and short. “Out of my way, abomination.”

All right, that’s uncalled for, Izuna thought crankily to himself, ignoring the way the word stung and reminded him of weary nights spent wondering if he was alive or not or simply a corpse that looked very convincing, and covering the feeling up with sarcasm.

Some of his distaste must have shown on his face, however, because Tobirama descended upon them a moment later with something disparaging on his face and in his voice. “There are no visits from any Uzushio shinobi scheduled,” he said, and to a stranger it wasn’t aimed at he might have sounded completely polite. It was a bit impressive how rude he could sound without sounding rude. “I’m afraid this is a private event.”

“Oh? The bride’s family isn’t welcome?” the man prodded, lips pressed into a thin line.

“Not if you don’t have an invitation.”

Hashirama had, by now, drifted to a blessed arm’s length away and was rambling about something to do with how much he liked the Uchiha’s ringbearer tradition when Madara noticed who his brother was standing beside. His eyes narrowed as his Sharingan flickered into view.

Hashirama paused when he noticed his sudden venomous stare. “Madara? What’s the matter?”

Madara, however, barely heard him for how livid he was as he started to stalk across the floor. A few people gulped and edged out of his way, gawking curiously after him and pitying whoever had earned his ire as Hashirama darted after him.

Kenjin,” he simpered as soon as he’d gotten close enough, smiling with an ominous red glow in his eyes. He knew the names of all Mito’s cousins and siblings now and wasn’t particularly happy with any of them. “How nice to see you again.”

The Uzumaki’s head whipped towards him as he gritted his teeth. “Uchiha, I have no plans of speaking to you-”

“Why, too busy trying to ruin what should be the happiest day of your cousin’s life, make a fool of yourself in front of a large crowd of people, and further paint those in your family as the callous, unfeeling, contemplable people you are?” Madara tittered, smile widening when the Uzumaki’s face erupted in scarlet. Izuna bit his lip to contain a grin and drifted back to watch while the Senju stood there with wide eyes and open mouths.

Seething, Kenjin lifted one hand, looking halfway ready to threaten him, and Tobirama tensed. “As if I need the words of some slovenly degenerate who opens himself to men-”

“What, are you afraid I’ll rub off on you?” Madara said with a tilt of his head, smirking. “As I apparently did to your cousin?” Behind him, Hashirama stared at him in surprise at his instant admission. Likes men indeed.

“Listen, Uzumaki,” Madara interrupted as the man opened his mouth again, his Mangekyo whirling into his eyes as he leaned forward and grabbed a handful of the man’s collar. He froze when he looked Madara in the eye, fully aware of just what he could do to him with just a glance. “You aren’t welcome here. Whatever you came to do, be assured that if you try to make trouble, if you do so much as harm a single petal on that woman’s decorations, the only incident that will unfold will be your mind shattering into a thousand little pieces as I break you. Do you understand?”

He said it all in a quiet tone, looking at Kenjin through half-closed green eyelids with such a surety he hardly needed any intent to make a threat, and Hashirama felt like the breath had left his body.

“U…understood,” the Uzumaki whispered, pale. Madara released him and he stumbled back, staring at the Uchiha shakily for a few seconds before turning and walking out, abandoning whatever he’d wanted to do. Tobirama watched him go with a frown and motioned to one of the Senju lounging near the border of the room to follow him; he was probably already being tailed by security anyway- he’d most likely claimed to want to congratulate his cousin to gain entry- but a little overkill didn’t hurt anyone.

“Well, he was nice,” Izuna said cheerily when the man had gone, folding his arms. “Just in time, too. You’re up, aniki.”

Not knowing what he meant by that, Hashirama watched Madara look at the dance floor with a smirk and merge into the guests again, still feeling a bit out of breath from that display he’d just seen. Madara was so much more than could be put into words, he thought- he was deadly, dangerous, like a gorgeous new naginata glittering in the sunlight that could slice anyone who touched it the wrong way into ribbons. Hashirama loved his friend’s kindness and the gentleness he could display, but something about the deadliness was breathtakingly exciting and made him want Madara even more.

On the dance floor, Toka led Mito towards the center as the music reached its end and spun her into a dip. She smiled as their guests clapped for them and leaned down to press a kiss against Mito’s lips before pulling her up. The redhead sent her a mischievous look with a familiar glitter in her eyes.

“Let me guess,” Toka chuckled. “You want to dance with Madara.”

“A little differently than last time,” Mito told her with a secretive smile, making her raise a curious eyebrow. She let go of Toka and gestured for her to retreat towards the brides’ table, stepping back and turning to meet a smirking Madara as he emerged from the guests and holding out her hands.

The band began to play a livelier tune. Madara set a hand on her waist and began leading her around the room, their steps clean and precise as if they were following a pattern to the smallest detail.

Unlike the last time they’d danced in public together, when Mito had taken the lead part of the time, she let him guide them around the room so she could focus on how she moved instead of where they were going. They both, after all, wanted the focus on her.

The music picked up and her steps became quicker. Madara spun her and she untied her sash as she went, letting him pull her outer kimono off once she’d stopped her rotation and cleanly hand it to a smiling Naori in the audience. They merged back together and began again, moving faster and removing her second kimono without stopping this time.

Mito twirled and tossed off the last of the most restricting of her clothing, leaving her in a shorter kimono that was easy to dance in and a shocking deep red. Madara guided her into a dip that left her leg hooked over his arm, completely bare and looking, to Toka, like it stretched for a mile.

Mito resumed her footwork again with a smile when she saw Toka watching, eyes trained on her legs as they moved. Madara kept pace with her, his movements no less impressive but less flashy than hers; the all-black attire he wore made her pop from head to toe as if she were a mere flash of red fluttering across the floor.

He led them to the center, in front of Toka, and Mito bent herself back and let her kimono fall suggestively from one shoulder, smiling at her wife with every sultry bone in her body. A few people in the crowd whooped and hollered encouragingly as Toka turned the color of her wine.

Grinning, Madara took her waist and led them into a fast circuit that would put everyone else’s attempts to good-natured shame, and they flew about the room with the grace of two falcons circling each other in the air. Mito threw herself into every move with the notion that Toka was watching, appreciating, thinking of running her hands under red fabric in a different kind of dance that would leave them both breathless.

Madara spun her into a final dip as the music came to a thunderous stop; the room erupted in applause and they gave each other a smile, panting as they straightened up.

“Impressive as ever, dear,” she murmured with an amused glance, leaning up- though she didn’t have to lean far, considering there was barely three inches between them- and pressing a kiss against his cheek.

He chuffed out a laugh as Toka came up to them, eyes sparkling. “I’m a lucky woman,” she said lowly, winding an arm around Mito’s waist. “You’ll have to continue teaching me so I can be worthy of your skill.”

The joke prompted a laugh from her wife. “Of course, darling.”

A slow, quiet tune began to drift from the violinists, prompting others to start drifting onto the floor and pairing up. Madara caught a glance of amusement on Mito’s face before a hand tapped him on the shoulder, and he spun around not expecting Hashirama to be standing there with a grin.

“You were incredible,” he said, tilting his head a fraction with an odd look in his eyes. “As always. I’m afraid I can’t keep up with that, but I can manage something slow, like this, hmm?” He chuckled when all Madara did was blink at him. “Dance with me?” he asked, holding out his hand.

Madara’s eyes widened. Hashirama had no partner to dance with, his mind theorized, so of course he was turning to his friend- but dancing with Hashirama. Oh. That might kill him.

“Of course he will,” Mito said cheerfully, giving him a shove that made him stumble towards Hashirama.

An expectant look appeared on the Hokage’s face. “Uh…right,” Madara muttered, not willing to disappoint him. He hesitantly took Hashirama’s hand as the man grinned over his shoulder at Toka, who winked at him before leading Mito away to dance on their own.

Hashirama grasped his hand and pulled him close- closer than even some of the actual couples on the floor- setting a hand on his waist before Madara could say anything. He swallowed the lump in his throat and placed his hand on Hashirama’s shoulder. At least with their height difference and his hair he could avoid looking at the man when they were this close.

“I’m happy to see people forming bonds like these,” he said, his breath hot on Madara’s ear and neck. His whole body felt warm; Madara wanted to wrap himself around it and absorb that warmth into his own skin.

Unable to think of anything to say in reply, Madara simply hummed and hoped Hashirama didn’t notice how flustered he was. Hashirama’s presence was as soothing and relaxing as ever and he had to physically stop himself from leaning his head on the man’s shoulder and closing his eyes. Whoever Hashirama chose to spend his life with, he thought, had to be the most fortunate being on the planet.

“Have you thought about it?” Hashirama murmured, and Madara couldn’t see his face and wasn’t sure what he was getting at. “A bond like that?”

It took Madara’s brain but a moment to comprehend. Was Hashirama curious about whether he was planning on getting married? Did he think Madara still needed more ties to the village? Did he think Madara should find someone to spend time with that wasn’t himself?

He realized he’d been drifting in silence for a minute and cleared his throat. “I…don’t know,” he mumbled, feeling frazzled. The music was so slow they were hardly moving, practically just swaying together, and he felt as if he were about to combust. Hashirama’s hand felt heavy on his lower back and the one grasping his hand felt like he wasn’t planning on letting go of it anytime soon when the song ended.

“I have,” Hashirama whispered, startling him. Madara hoped his body wasn’t as tense as he felt it was. “I think someone like that would have to be my best friend. Wouldn’t you?”

“I…” Madara was at a loss. The conversation felt out of nowhere, and he couldn’t fathom why Hashirama had switched from Madara’s marriage prospects to his own. “I suppose.”

The answer seemed to please Hashirama, if the way he felt him almost preen was any indication. It felt like they’d been dancing for an eternity. “I think you should think about it,” he breathed into Madara’s ear. “…carefully.”

If Madara was confused before, he was befuddled now. He couldn’t tell if Hashirama was just trying to make idle talk or if he was trying to give him advice. Did he think Madara was lonely and needed to find someone? Or that he needed help? He could manage on his own, despite what everyone seemed to think.

Hashirama pulled him closer, pressing them flush together. Madara tried not to choke on his own tongue. He was sure it was because others were coming onto the dance floor and leaving less room for everyone to move about, but it felt too close.

Hashirama’s index finger began tracing a circle into his back. He was fidgeting, probably, not thinking about it, but it made Madara want to collapse into a puddle on the floor. The entire situation was too intimate, too comfortable, too pacifying. Hashirama’s chakra was a warm concentrated mass that was sluggish from the cold and it made him feel lulled to focus on. He couldn’t help it and slowly ended up with the side of his face pressed against the man’s haori, listening to the sound of his breath as a long tendril of brown hair tickled his cheekbone.

It was both comforting and a slow torture, reminding him of how much he loved Hashirama and how much he wanted to feel this sensation every day- how much he wanted to get this close and be able to stay there. He was a bright light and Madara a moth, and he gravitated towards him even when they had been enemies.

He loved him so dearly, but he couldn’t have him. The universe was cruel in every iteration.

The arms wrapped around him and the body pressed against him made the rest of the world fall away, and it made him want to retreat into his own bubble again, or perhaps go fling himself off the Hokage Monument, or perhaps just sit down and work on the hideous knitting creation he’d made purposefully hideous for Izuna and ignore the urge to shed tears.

“All right, everybody!” Izuna boomed, leaping into the center of the dance floor and banging, of all things, a stick against a cow bell. He had enjoyed seeing his brother become so flustered due to Hashirama’s advances, but he could see it was staring to become too much- for now, at least.

Everyone in the vicinity startled, including Madara, who ripped himself away from Hashirama and jumped about half a foot in the air. “It’s time for our brides to get to the real fun of the evening and all of us get to the second reception. If you had a red tag on your invitation, that means you follow me,” he said with a charming smile, spinning around and banging the cow bell intermittently as he headed for the door.

“I…guess that means we follow him,” Madara muttered, glancing at Hashirama and looking away just as quickly. The peacefulness of the moment being broken was both a disappointment and a great relief.

“I suppose so,” Hashirama said with a sheepish smile, running a hand through his hair. “Where did he pick, anyway?”

“Hopefully not somewhere like the last time,” Madara grumbled, turning away to find some fresh air. “I’ll kill him if he did.”


 

Madara had a pleasantly airy feeling occupying his mind as he leaned against the bar, unworried about the morning considering he’d actually remembered to stay hydrated that evening and Mito had given him some sort of herbal pills that worked wonders on hangover symptoms. He was pacing himself, as he didn’t really want to go home blackout drunk and not remember anything.

“See? I told you I’d pick a nice place,” Izuna said from the stool beside him, smug. The bar was considerably nicer than the hovel he’d taken them to that Madara would never stop poking him about. “Going to get out there and socialize, Madara?”

“Hmph. Silence, nymph,” Madara grumbled as his brother snickered.

“You’re supposed to find a match after the party.”

“That’s just a saying,” Madara scolded him with a huff.

“Yes, yes, we all know. You aren’t going to find a match because you’re still too hung up on someone else,” Izuna said with a roll of his eyes, making Madara turn pink, just as Hashirama walked over and caught the tail end of his sentence with a raised eyebrow. He smiled. “Good evening, Hokage-sama. Looking to mingle?”

Madara about swallowed his own tongue and straightened, folding his arms tightly against his chest. “Hashirama,” he muttered in greeting, looking anywhere but Hashirama’s curious face.

“Madara. And no, not particularly,” Hashirama replied as he leaned against the bar beside Madara, much too close for the man’s peace of mind. He eyed the flush on Madara’s skin and the way he’d jumped at his secret almost being ‘discovered,’ wondering who on earth was letting the man stand there alone at the bar on an evening he was supposed to mingle with others. “What about you?”

“Oh, I think I’ll go find Hikaku and Naori,” Izuna said as he stood up, chuckling when Madara glared at him. “You two have fun.”

He waved without any further ado and walked off, leaving Madara swearing at him in his head. He huffed and pushed it from his mind, thinking it was silly to be unhappy about being alone with Hashirama- the Senju was just being…oddly close this evening.

It was probably the alcohol. Perhaps he’d had a few too many drinks. Now that he thought about it, Hashirama was probably the affectionate type when he drank.

Hashirama straightened and gestured at the bartender to bring them something to drink. He grinned down at Madara and reminded him, again, of how much being around Hashirama felt like being around the actual sun. “Having fun?”

Madara shrugged, reaching for the martini that was slid his way and taking a sip. It was sweet- almost too sweet, because by now the bartender knew his tastes. “I don’t have much use for being here.”

A chuckle rumbled in Hashirama’s chest. Madara tried not to focus on the sound of it. “You’re supposed to have fun. Have you not met anyone?”

The question was innocuous, and he probably didn’t meant what Madara thought he meant, but he found himself off caught off guard regardless. “No. Frankly, I’m a bit bored; I’d rather go home.” And he was; what was there to do with Izuna off doing whatever he was doing at the moment and Hashirama, who would probably go be the social butterfly he was and find a group to talk to? Socializing.

Hashirama eyed him speculatively. His earlier attempts had obviously had some kind of effect, he thought to himself, yet Madara still hadn’t picked up on what he was trying to infer. Had he been too subtle? Perhaps being more overt would work in his favor instead.

“Understandable,” he said, lowering his voice as he moved closer to lean on the bar again, leaning in so he could speak into Madara’s ear without anyone hearing. “We do live right across from each other. It wouldn’t be out of our way to go home together.”

He held his breath when the words had left his mouth, wondering how Madara would respond.

The Uchiha turned his head, just slightly, and gave him a confused stare. “Yes,” he said slowly, as if Hashirama was dull, “obviously. We can walk back together if you want.”

Hashirama stared blankly at him. Surely…surely he didn’t misinterpret that. The longer Madara stared uncomprehendingly at him, the more it became apparent that yes, he did misinterpret Hashirama asking him to let him take him home.

Had Hashirama somehow not been apparent enough all night long? Was Madara just that oblivious?

“All right,” he said at last, voice a bit distant to his own ears, “I’d rather go home too. Are you ready to leave?”

And, when they returned to the path leading into the Senju compound, standing in between their houses, Hashirama turned to his best friend with the most suggestive look he could muster and leaned in far too close to be platonic and spoke in a low tone that any other person would have blushed at. “You’re welcome to spend the night.”

And Madara simply stared at him, brow pulled together in confusion. “Why? I have a bed of my own.”

Hashirama despaired.


 

The nice, mild haze he’d been enjoying had faded by the time he got home. Madara shuffled upstairs, wondering in the back of his mind what had prompted Hashirama’s weird exchange outside, and counted the cats as he went; Hachi was asleep in a pot he’d left out on the kitchen counter, while Toba was laid out over his other sandals beneath the coatrack and Zunu was out on the coffee table upstairs.

He’d left his window open, as he was wont to do sometimes during the day- he didn’t have any possessions he was particularly attached to anyway, and there were none who would dare steal from him regardless, if they could even get past Mito’s wards- and his room was cold when he entered. Shivering, he quickly shut the window and searched out all his extra blankets- he liked cool weather, but no one liked being so bitterly cold they couldn’t sleep.

He settled in for the night and shut off his lamp, laying there in the darkness as moonlight shone in from the window.

The air had a bite to it, even with his blankets. With a grimace, he stimulated his chakra a bit until his room would start to heat up again, and glanced over at his nightstand. Almost hesitantly, he reached over to the drawer and pulled it open, withdrawing the haori he’d been given to wear when he’d lost his eyes. He’d realized he still had it when he had gone home after getting them back and had…neglected to return it. Hashirama must have had ten more just like it, and he hadn’t noticed or asked for it back, and it smelled of earth and spring and Hashirama himself.

He pulled it beneath the covers and draped it over himself, closing his eyes with a sigh. It wasn’t Hashirama, but it was comforting nonetheless.

He drifted into sleep, and into a familiar dream that involved wooden hands on Hashirama’s bedroom floor.


 

Hashirama stood outside a bit longer than he cared to admit and watched Madara’s window until the Uchiha appeared in it, taking only a minute or two to find extra blankets before going to sleep. Hashirama retreated inside before the other man’s lights had gone off, repelled by the cold, and sighed at his own uselessness.

He wished it could be his body Madara used for warmth as they curled up together under the covers. Hashirama had never liked the cold- it was bitter and unforgiving and made his chakra feel as if it had the slightest brittle quality to it- and he liked to imagine how warm Madara would feel, as a fire element who burned so bright, if he could chase the cold away with just a flare of his chakra. It would probably be hard to leave their bed in the morning.

His mind drifted as he slid into bed, thinking of the days they’d spent by the river in summer and the warmth of the sunset as Madara smiled at him and how it felt like sunshine breaking through the treetops to shine on Hashirama’s soul. Of how blissful it had been to have Madara in his arms and to finally get the man to just relax and let them be so close together. He didn’t know how he had ever managed, in that first life- had he realized how he felt too late and simply suffered for years in regrets and guilt? Had he lived out his whole, entire life without Madara, without ever realizing he’d loved him?

The idea of living his life without Madara was…frightening. Hashirama didn’t wish to give it too much thought.

He thought, instead, of that night, when he’d managed to bring a pretty blush to Madara’s skin that was even more apparent due to how pale he was, accentuated in the winter months when there was less sun. They’d been so close together, and Hashirama knew he felt something there; he wanted to get even closer.

He thought, instead, of being reminded how dangerous Madara could be, of how he was the only rival Hashirama had ever met, how even when they were fighting it felt as if they fit together like two pieces of a puzzle.

He imagined Madara taking his offer- how would he be? Would he smirk and lead Hashirama along with a taunt in his eyes? Would he become quiet and avert his eyes and silently lead him out?

His eyes were the best part. Hashirama imagined them looking at him with love and affection as he tugged Madara towards his room, imagined how warm they would look as Madara ran his hands over Hashirama’s body.

The image of Madara sliding down onto his thighs filled his mind; how he would smile as if he had a secret and pull Hashirama’s kimono from his shoulders and lean down to kiss him. How Hashirama would finally get to feel- to touch, every part of him that was barred from him as long as he was only Madara’s friend.

He ran his hands up the backs of Madara’s thighs, the hakama he’d been wearing gone, reveling in the warm skin beneath his palms. A mischievous pair of eyes stared down at him as Madara pulled his kimono off him and leaned down to bite his neck. It sent a jolt through him and he surged up, and the bed was suddenly gone from beneath them and replaced by the floor and he hardly even noticed. There was wood within reach and straining against the surface and curling around Madara’s thighs, drawing them open as a long tendril slivered up and wrapped around his abdomen and two others wound around his wrists to keep them down. There was greenery and wooden spikes extending from various points in the room and Madara only looked at him with excited, thrilled eyes. Sometimes, deep down, Hashirama had been afraid that whoever he ended up marrying would look at the plants that sprung to life without his direction and turn away from him.

Madara arched his back and took in a slow breath as a vine curled around his chest to tease one of his nipples, staring at Hashirama with half-lidded eyes and flexing his trapped feet to test the strength of his binds; he tilted his head, slowly, and let out a smile that looked knowing.

“Hashirama,” he whispered, and the man hovering over him paused and stared down at him, feeling as if he almost couldn’t continue forward, “I love you.”

Hashirama’s breath caught in his throat. How he wanted to hear Madara say that. He loved so deeply and so intensely and the only thing he wanted was to know those he loved felt the same.

I love you.

Hashirama jerked awake with a harsh breath, having not realized he’d fallen asleep. The bedframe he’d only recently installed was humming, pulsing with his chakra; he glanced around his dark, empty room, devoid of the lover he’d dreamt of, and let out a slow sigh.

He sat up and shuffled back until he could lean against the headboard, running a hand over his hair and trying to calm his racing heart. Just a dream, he thought, feeling a bit disappointed. A dream that had left him aroused and wishing Madara was in his bed with him.

He couldn’t get that image out of his head. He couldn’t stop thinking of Madara curling around him and whispering in his ear and letting Hashirama’s Mokuton touch him, so very trusting to let down his guard completely and let Hashirama have what they both wanted.

He was so very gone, Hashirama thought, sliding a hand beneath his robes. He didn’t think he could get over Madara if he wanted to. How could he ever be with anyone else, knowing he loved Madara so deeply? It didn’t matter if it was for the village, for politics, for an alliance- it was Madara or no one. He was so very gone.

He let his hand seep with warm chakra as he took ahold of his dick, thinking of Madara’s deft hands removing his clothes and the Uchiha’s teeth sinking into his flesh. He thought of how it would feel to let the man take him apart and make him wait; of how it would feel to have Madara writhing in pleasure in his lap with his head thrown back and Hashirama’s name on his lips.

A vaguely sticky sensation on his hand caught his attention. Puzzled, he glanced down at his erection and paused when he found it beginning to leak a clear, viscous substance with an orange tint. He had seen it before, occasionally, on the trees he grew, and thought the presence of tree sap was just a natural part of controlling nature, but apparently he could…spawn it from his chakra alone. He suspected he could produce it from any part of his body, but a flush overtook his cheeks when he realized how...racy it was to be able to do this. But he couldn’t deny it was convenient, at least, and kept him from chaffing in the cold as he let himself fall back into his fantasy, thinking of how that dream version of Madara hadn’t looked at the plants around them with fear or derision or confusion, and how the real Madara had only ever looked at his Mokuton with wonder or admiration or excitement.

Hashirama came too quickly for his tastes; he had never had ideas that excited him this much. He didn’t think he’d ever looked at anyone and wanted to do the things he wanted to do to Madara to them.

A pulse of chakra exploded from his body. The bedframe curled every which way, creaking as a tree formed in the wall behind him and plants sprung to life on the floor and across the doorway. Hashirama lay there panting, unaware of just what he’d done for a moment, before realizing an important detail: he didn’t exactly live alone.

“Anija?” Tobirama’s startled voice called through the door. He tried to open it, but the wood on the wall kept it bound shut. “Hashirama, open up.”

“O-one minute,” Hashirama called back with a stammer, frazzled. He yanked his robes shut and quickly tied them up again, sliding out of bed and pulling the blankets up to hide his mess. He couldn’t believe he lacked subtlety so badly and that he’d lost so much control.

He removed the plants over the door and slid it open, beet red as Tobirama stared at him with an alarmed expression. “S-sorry, Tobirama,” he muttered, unable to look his little brother in the eye. “I was, uh…”

Tobirama stared at him, still on alert, before freezing as his eyes drifted around the room. He examined the plants, and how they seemed to be growing outward from the bed, and paused, heat rising to his cheeks. “I see,” he uttered, and it made Hashirama cringe. “…apologies. Just…try to be more quiet,” he said with a grimace, wondering if Hashirama would take it too personally if he just moved out. Having both him and Madara so close by was ridiculous and he was going to strangle himself if he had to live through more incidents like this.

They were both startled by a rapid banging on the front door. “Oi, Senju!” a familiar voice hollered, and Hashirama’s red face got even redder. “What the fuck are you doing over here?”

Hashirama looked at Tobirama helplessly. He crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow. “Well, go explain.”

Hashirama wrinkled his nose. “Mean,” he pouted under his breath as he passed him by, heading for the front door as Madara began knocking again.

He yanked it open just as the Uchiha was about to knock again. He looked ruffled head to toe, as if he’d been woken up. “U-uh, hello, Madara,” Hashirama stammered, smiling unconvincingly.

“Hashirama, what the hell?” Madara demanded, glancing past him as if to find something he was hiding. “What was with that chakra surge? Are you trying to wake up every sensor in the damned neighborhood?”

“Sorry,” Hashirama mumbled. He looked away from Madara’s eyes to his collarbone, which was a mistake, since his robe was loosely tied and left much of his chest bare. He gulped and turned his head away, trying not to think about the fact this was the man he’d been fantasizing about not five minutes before and how much Madara could make his chakra lash out if he put his mind to it- “I, uh…had a nightmare!” he exclaimed, plastering on a smile again and rubbing the back of his head. “Don’t worry! Everything’s fine, I’m sorry for waking you up.”

Madara eyed him suspiciously, clearly not believing him fully, and folded his arms. “Very well,” he said after a moment, staring at Hashirama’s twitchy expression. He seemed to be satisfied after a moment and his expression softened. “Are you all right?”

Hashirama tried not to choke. Madara was…concerned for him, and the softness in his gaze- “I-I’m fine, I just need to go back to sleep,” he stammered. “I’ll see you in the morning!”

Madara opened his mouth to respond and clamped it shut in surprise when Hashirama quickly closed the door. He seems bothered, he thought with a frown, turning to go back to his own home. He could have sworn that Hashirama was hiding something.

Perhaps he really had just had a nightmare, he thought. In that case, he would ask the man how he was again the next day. He knew how unsettling dreams could be.


 

“Are you all right?”

Hashirama jumped when Madara addressed him, not realizing for a moment what the man was referring to before realization hit and he smiled anxiously. “O-of course! That was just a fluke, ahah. I’m fine now.”

Madara raised an eyebrow at him for a moment before nodding. “If you say so,” he said, and set the clipboard in his grasp down on the stump beside the one he sat on. They had been going over standards for jounin sensei, ironing out what the first batch’s responsibilities would be, but Hashirama hadn’t been able to get much work done, glancing at Madara whenever he became distracted. The man was in nothing more than a training yukata with no sleeves and a pair of trousers that went to his knees, and it was odd sometimes to see him bare so much skin, but Hashirama loved it. Not only because he loved seeing any of Madara’s skin, especially the parts he normally couldn’t, but it showed that Madara really was comfortable where he was to go so unguarded.

“Want to spar?” Madara asked him with a challenging smirk, and something in Hashirama thrilled at the goading.

He stood with a grin and set his own clipboard down. They retreated to opposite ends of the clearing, a glitter in their eyes, with no weapons or armor to come between them.

Madara leapt at him first. Hashirama met him head-on, ducking beneath his first blow and coming up with a kick that might have taken someone’s head off if it connected. They blurred together as they fought, kicking up to a speed most of the village’s shinobi wouldn’t be able to match.

Madara couldn’t help but love their confrontations and how far Hashirama pushed him; no one else could exhaust him so completely and leave him panting and barely on his feet. Hashirama was reminded, again, why the dangerous part of Madara attracted him so as the Uchiha kept him on his toes and came close to hitting him just as often as Hashirama did to him, making a sense of fervent excitement bubble under his skin. The idea that any moment, Madara could pull out a trick or flash of skill to give himself the advantage and get ahead, leave Hashirama at his mercy, was enthralling.

Madara pushed off a tree and came flying at him. Hashirama leapt back behind a tree to avoid it, beaming when Madara’s strike nearly buckled it in half. Madara descended from the canopy above a moment later, coming close to getting in a strike on his collarbone that probably would have broken a few bones.

Hashirama leapt into a tree further above and dodged. Madara darted further into the forest and they began a match of surprise, trying to catch each other off guard as they used the trees to hide behind.

Madara landed on a tree branch hard enough to make it rattle and groan dangerously, glancing down at where Hashirama stood on the forest floor below. A smirk overtook his lips as his Sharingan spun lazily, a clear challenge on his face as he abruptly turned and pushed off, darting into the woods. Catch me if you can.

The game was on. Hashirama grinned to himself and clapped his hands together, summoning his chakra in one fell sweep that left a forest exploding from the ground at his feet, rolling outward and enveloping the woods already there. Madara was already at a disadvantage due to their surroundings, but there would be no hiding from Hashirama now.


 

Cheating bastard, Madara thought as a veritable wave of wood erupted behind him and swept out in every direction. He knew Hashirama could easily knock him unconscious at this point with his pollen, and he knew Hashirama knew that, and the fact that he wasn’t but probably knew exactly where Madara was, was his way of teasing him.

He picked up speed, intent on putting some distance between them, and did his best to suppress his chakra to the bare amount he needed to run. Hashirama may have created the forest, but he wasn’t the best sensor out there, despite his odd and uncanny ability to be so attuned with Madara’s chakra.

He paused when he reached a clearing and took a moment to search out Hashirama’s signature. He was taking his time, probably another way to taunt him, leisurely making his way towards Madara’s location.

The edge of the forest had to have been near. If Madara could at least exit it-

His train of thought came to a screeching halt as something dripped onto his nose. Frowning, he tilted his head back, removed his glove, and wiped it away with his thumb, staring at it in confusion before glancing up. One of the trees was curled over him, oozing a strange substance he’d never seen before. It was clear, like a gel, sticky but not so much it was cumbersome.

It also had the faintest sweet smell. Madara couldn’t help but be curious. He doubted it was poisonous, if it came from the Mokuton; he cautiously licked the drop from his thumb, pausing when a sweet sensation assaulted his taste buds.

He looked around for a closer tree and found one on ground level, oozing the same sap. That had to have been what it was. He drew his thumb along the bark and reigned in a larger sample, bringing it to his lips and delighting in the downright heavenly taste. It was even sweeter than honey.

He reached out again and took another taste, dousing his index and middle fingers and sucking them dry. Reaching for another, he let it ooze over his whole hand, inadvertently forgetting completely about his and Hashirama’s spar. Let it be said that he did have weaknesses, and sweet things were one of them.


 

Hashirama followed Madara’s chakra signature- calm, unconcerned, even mildly peaceful even though it was still shimmering from the excitement of their fight- through the forest until he’d closed in on his position. The spar had turned into a game, by then, a game of cat and mouse as they skulked around the forest stalking each other; of course, Madara was the superior sensor, but Hashirama’s awareness outdid even his due to the forest around them.

Madara didn’t seem to notice him- he must not have been kneading chakra, or he would have felt Hashirama coming from a mile away. At first Hashirama was confused as to why he was immobile, but he got his answer when he emerged from a denser part of the woods, standing in the shadow of a tree and freezing when he spotted his friend standing by a Mokuton tree.

He found his body frozen and couldn’t manage to make himself move or swallow the sudden lump in his throat- because Madara’s hand was ungloved, covered in Mokuton sap, and he was licking it up as if it were the sweetest honey.

Hashirama watched Madara’s tongue dart out of his mouth to lick at the sap coating his hand, sliding in between his thumb and index finger and dipping into the crease in the skin between them. It dripped from his hand in the most obscene way, reminding Hashirama of not seven hours earlier when the same substance had been dripping from his erection. He imagined Madara sucking that sap from his fingers instead; he imagined that deft-looking tongue teasing and pushing and imagined sealing his mouth over Madara’s so he could bat it into submission.

Madara still had yet to notice him standing in the trees, was still lapping that sap up like he was a hungry cat cleaning its claws, and Hashirama felt a bit like a voyeur but his body wasn’t responding to him. The coolness of the forest was gone and replaced by a sense that everything was much too warm; he could feel his heart racing as Madara let out a groan that sounded too much like the sounds he’d been making in Hashirama’s dream the night before, tilting his head to lick the underside of his hand and baring a tantalizing amount of skin on his neck. Hashirama wanted to press his lips against the other man’s jugular and feel his pulse start to race as he mouthed his neck and left bruises in his wake.

It was almost unbearable. Perhaps growing a whole forest to corner him had been a bad idea.

His chakra coiled and roots moved underfoot, sensing his intent even if he wasn’t consciously aware of it, converging on Madara almost before he had time to be startled. The Uchiha let out a curse when wood and vine emerged from the ground and wrapped around him, swift and unforgiving as it yanked him to the forest floor and pinned him.

He completely forgot about his previous- meal- and began to struggle, trying to pull his arms from the wood’s grasp. It proved unbending and too stubborn for him to break, since it had managed to trap his hands beside his head and his legs bent at such angles he could hardly find any momentum.

He quieted with a frustrated huff.

“All right, Senju, you win,” he called out, sounding out of breath as his limbs stilled. The teasing tone of his voice told Hashirama he thought he’d been ambushed- and he certainly had, just in a different way than he thought- and a bit of embarrassment coursed through him when he realized he’d lost control of his chakra for a moment in time.

He realized he was just standing there and berated himself, for his delayed reaction, and how much he was stuck on how pretty a picture Madara made with the Mokuton holding his legs apart.

“A-ah, sorry,” he breathed out with a nervous laugh, emerging from the shadow that felt like his hiding place and forming a hand sign as he released Madara’s binds.

Madara raised an eyebrow at him from the ground. “Why apologize?”

Hashirama stumbled over his words. There was no real reason to apologize if he had purposefully caught Madara to win the spar. “Uh, well-”

“And besides that,” Madara interrupted him, something mischievous in his expression, and Hashirama jerked to a stop as a warning flashed through his head, “you’re still too trusting.”

He leapt up as soon as the wood let him and lunged. Hashirama reacted on instinct and reached out to the tendrils still there on the surface, simultaneously leaping forward himself as they reached for Madara again.

He could tell his friend was just teasing him, rather than making an actual attempt to win, because he went down too easily for it; before he knew what happened they had landed in the grass and he was straddling Madara’s waist as his Mokuton pinned his limbs down once more, one hand on the man’s chest to keep him from writhing, although he just laid there unmoving.

Madara cast him a smirk. “At least you’re not getting complacent,” he goaded.

All Hashirama could focus on was the feeling of Madara’s ribcage beneath his thighs and the way he was spread out beneath him, completely at Hashirama’s mercy, wrists and ankles bound in wood, and the way he could rend the clothes from the man’s body with a flick of his wrist if he wanted to. It was just like his dream.

Madara shifted as Hashirama stared down at him, expression slightly vacant, and swallowed. Why is he so distracted? “Hashirama, your…” he muttered, barely audible, as his eyes darted to the side. He could feel his face heating up and he prayed Hashirama didn’t notice too much. All he could think of was how this scenario was the start to one of his wet dreams. “Are you…going to let me up?”

No, Hashirama’s mind supplied, not for another four hours, but aloud he jerked to awareness and back with a start. “A-ah, sorry,” he stammered, getting to his feet with a stumble as his roots and vines retracted. He extended his hand and helped Madara up, almost too bashful at his own actions to notice how the Uchiha refused to look directly at him. “I…zoned out.”

“Right,” Madara murmured, pretending to wipe sweat from his cheek to try and hide the scarlet color his face had turned. The action only brought attention to it.

Hashirama paused and squinted at him. His eyes were trained on the ground, anywhere but Hashirama. He’s blushing, he realized with a start, and the mischievous part of his mind lit up with glee as he examined the redness of Madara’s skin that reminded him of the night before. It wasn’t a one-off event, and he’d managed to create the same effect again.

Madara coughed into a fist before nodding in the direction of the village. “We should probably head back,” he suggested, still not looking Hashirama in the eye.

“Of course,” the Senju replied, now wearing a knowing grin. He purposefully moved closer as they started walking back, noting the way the blush on Madara’s face darkened despite the man’s efforts to look calm. The idea that his presence- even if Madara himself wasn’t aware of it- was making the Uchiha bashful delighted him.

He was sure of it now. Madara was a genius on the battlefield and a cunning man; however, he was also a very, very oblivious man- but Hashirama was having an effect on him.

This other man, whoever he was, was an unwise fellow. Hashirama had no guilt about inserting himself into the place he was leaving unoccupied.