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Abomination.

Unnatural.

He shouldn’t be here.

Izuna tried his best to ignore what Inoue called his intrusive thoughts and thought instead of the hilarious look on Tobirama’s face when he’d managed to throw the Senju into a pond. “You’re a Suiton user! You should like it,” he’d cackled as Tobirama emerged, glaring.

He slipped his hand into his pouch as he walked, feeling the piece of paper Madara had given to him. An Akimichi, a Shimura, and Kagami. He was going to get to be the one who brought them up as shinobi the right way, instead of as war fodder. He would have a place with them.

He paused when he spotted a familiar face rounding the corner. “What happened to you?” he asked, arching both eyebrows, genuinely curious. Kenichi’s face was covered in bruises. Or, more accurately, it looked like one giant bruise. He looked as if he’d run into a tree or stone wall or possibly had that giant dog Mito had taken to taking care of stomp on him.

An unpleasant glare appeared on the other man’s face. He drew up and visibly curtailed whatever he’d been about to say, though it still came out ruder than Izuna felt the situation called for. “That’s no business of yours, Uchiha. Keep your nose out of my business.”

“My, my, it was just a question,” Izuna said coyly, raising his hands in mock surrender. The other man’s forehead twitched. “Though with an attitude like that I’m not surprised someone punched you.”

“Watch your mouth,” Kenichi hissed at him, and Izuna smirked inwardly because he knew he must have hit a nerve. “I don’t need admonishing from a freak of nature like you.”

That made him bristle a bit. Izuna folded his arms and tried not to let his temper react too soon. He shouldn’t goad people like Kenichi, he knew, like Inoue had told him, it wasn’t worth it. “Freak of nature, a bit harsh, wouldn’t you say?” he said, trying to make his voice light but just sounding irritated.

“You were dead. Do you really think you aren’t something unnatural?” Kenichi snapped at him. “As far as I’m concerned, something like you can’t have a place here. Tobirama-sama could have chosen anyone- anyone- to bring back, yet he chose you.”

Izuna gritted his teeth. Just take the high road, a voice that sounded like Inoue and maybe a bit like his mother’s said in his mind. It wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t worth it.

“I don’t care what you think of me. Sounds like you’re just mad he brought an Uchiha back,” Izuna said, eyes narrowing into a glare. “If your dick’s so wet for the Senju, go spend time with them rather than standing here bothering me.”

He saw Kenichi seethe, a little, before his fist struck out and clocked Izuna in the nose. He stumbled out of sheer surprise and raised a hand to his face, biting down on his tongue and the urge to light Kenichi on fire as the man stormed away, stewing in anger. His eyes begged him to release them but he restrained himself. Just take the high road.

“I-Izuna-san!”

He looked around for whoever had called out to him and turned just in time to see a small woman running up to him, amethyst eyes wide in concern, before she reached up to his face and laid a glowing green hand over his nose. He jerked in surprise but repressed the urge to pull away. “Er-”

“I’m so sorry about Kenichi,” she rambled, looking humiliated and bowing her head as her hands hovered over his face. “I swear he doesn’t speak for any of the rest of the Senju! Even if he does feel that way, he was just- incredibly angry- there was an incident this morning and- I know that’s not an excuse, but-”

“Um,” Izuna interrupted her as his nose slid back into its proper place, not even noticing the blood that had coated his hand, “who are you again?”

“What? Oh, right!” She withdrew her hands so she could fully bow, placing them together in a sorrowful gesture. “I-I’m so sorry, I must have looked so strange running up to you in the street like that. I’m Senju Hitomi. I apologize for my clansman’s behavior.”

“It’s, uh…fine. Can you…maybe finish my nose, though? I have an event in a few days,” Izuna said, poking at his tender face. She looked up and jumped.

“Of course! Please, come sit down,” she said hurriedly, grabbing his sleeve and pulling him to the outdoor area of a teahouse. She sat him down and leaned over his face again, eyebrow furrowing in concentration. Her chakra had a pleasantly cool tinge to it that helped with any residual pain.

Now that he looked closer, he could have sworn he’d seen her before. The shoulder-length umber hair adorning her head made the purple of her eyes pop behind the rims of her glasses. He could faintly remember catching a glimpse of her on the battlefield a few times. “Thank you,” he said as she pulled her hands away, feeling his nose with the hand not covered in streaks of blood. He offered her a small smile. At least this Senju didn’t seem to be a bastard. “Good as new.”

A grin blossomed on her face. “You’re welcome, Izuna-san, it was the least I could do.”

“Just Izuna is fine,” he said, relaxing minutely. She had such a friendly face he couldn’t help but feel a bit more at ease around her than some of the other Senju. “Are you a medic nin?”

“And a jounin!” she returned chipperly, clasping her hands together. “I’ve gone on a few missions with Naori…san. Naori-san.” Her cheekbones gained the faintest tint of red. Izuna immediately noted it and smiled thoughtfully.

“Well, at least some of the Senju aren’t punchy,” he joked, waving one hand in a what can you do? gesture. “You should come to the Uchiha’s bonfire on Friday night.”

She paused. “Oh. Really? Isn’t it…only for Uchiha?”

“Not at all! Everyone’s welcome. Feel free to bring some Senju friends,” Izuna said with a smile. It was a good idea, to invite Senju, wasn’t it? It had to be a fine idea. It would be fine. “As long as they aren’t Kenichi.” That drew a laugh out of her; she could laugh at things, it seemed. “There will be plenty of beautiful dancers. Naori, Kotori…the cold doesn’t stop us from getting heated.” He winked and inwardly giggled at the way her eyes widened.

“Oh, well, uh, maybe I can…find time to swing by…” she mumbled. “It seems like it would be fun…”

“Of course it’ll be fun!” Izuna shouted, waving his hand again. “Alcohol, sweat, and naked flesh! What more can you ask for?” Hitomi’s eyes got even wider.

A perturbed voice from a mere few feet away interrupted his spiel. “Izuna?” Tobirama asked, sounding mildly befuddled. “What happened to your face?”

Izuna glanced away from Hitomi’s quietly excited expression and found the other Senju standing in the street, a scroll in his hand, holding it as if he’d been reading as he walked.

“Uh…” He realized he looked as if he’d eaten a pig raw and smiled sheepishly, trying to wipe at some of the blood on his chin and just smearing it more. “This? It’s nothing!”

Twitching, Tobirama placed a hand on the fence and swung himself over, walking up to him and narrowing his eyes as he examined Izuna’s face. He swallowed nervously at the sheer level of scrutiny on Tobirama’s unnerving face and averted his gaze, smile wavering. “Did someone break your nose?”

“It got better.”

Tobirama frowned. “Who did this?”

“Tobirama!” Both he and Tobirama flinched at the sudden rage in Hitomi’s voice. Izuna leaned back onto the table in startled surprise as she stomped up to Tobirama, glowering thunderously, voice hard and stern. It was such a stark switch that Izuna was left gaping a bit. “I’ve told you before that Kenichi doesn’t have good self-control. See what happens when you don’t listen to me? You should have assigned him to an integration program or disciplined him before this.”

Tobirama winced, actually leaning back away from her an inch or two. Izuna was fascinated. “I realize-”

“He punched him for no reason!” Hitomi insisted, throwing up her hands. “They were arguing a bit- an argument he started, I’ll have you know- but that’s no excuse!” She stepped closer and pointed her finger in his face, scowling. “Deal with him properly!”

“Of course, Hitomi, I’ll take care of it,” Tobirama gave in with a wince. Hitomi pulled away from him with a frown. He glanced over at Izuna and found him sitting on the table, chin in his hands, watching with a delighted look on his face, and twitched. Damned Uchiha.

“Good.” Hitomi nodded and turned to Izuna again, anger disappearing in lieu of a friendly smile. “I’m so sorry, again. I can go get you a towel-”

“I’m fine, I’m fine!” Izuna flapped his hands, struggling not to laugh. “Just show up on Friday and that’s good enough for me.”

“Ah.” It was like he’d flipped a switch; her face went pink again and she folded her arms, starting to chew on her thumbnail. “Of…of course. I’ll be there.” She exchanged a nervous smile with him and walked away, eyes going distant as she did. Izuna could take a guess at what she was imagining.

Biting his lip, he turned to Tobirama. The Senju watched him with a bland expression. “So…the great Senju Tobirama, cowed by a medic a full head shorter than him-”

“You are three inches shorter than I am. You have no room to talk.”

“-chastised like a child,” Izuna crowed, ignoring him.

Tobirama scowled and crossed his arms, most definitely not pouting. “That’s the woman that taught Hashirama medical ninjutsu. She does not trifle with injuries.”

“Really?” Feeling a sudden interest, Izuna sat up. “She taught Hashirama?”

“Someone had to. We’re not related, but she might as well be another cousin.” Tobirama grimaced a bit, as if thinking of how similarly Toka and Hitomi could chastise either him or his brother. It was hilarious for everyone but Hashirama whenever they did it to him. “What did you ask her to show up to?”

“The Uchiha bonfire!” Izuna exclaimed, grinning entirely too smugly for someone with blood covering their face as he preened. “We’re all going to dance.” A devilish smirk slithered onto his lips. “Including Madara.”

Tobirama’s eyebrow shot up. “I get the feeling you’re going to ensure that Hashirama is there.”

“What kind of a little brother would I be if I didn’t?”

“A normal one?”

Izuna stared at him for a moment before a pitying expression crossed his face. It made Tobirama feel a prickle of exasperation. “You poor, poor man,” he said, shaking his head, and Tobirama wasn’t sure if that felt more irksome or foreboding. “I’m going to teach you how to meddle.”


 

Tamaki had never had many possessions.

She had been younger at the time, but she still remembered living with the clan; they’d always been wealthy, but due to their wandering and the need to leave an encampment quickly if a threat arose, none of them had kept many personal items. A few other children in the clan had favorite kimonos, or perhaps combs, or small toys or objects that could be kept easily, but Tamaki preferred to have not much of anything at all. It was easier, that way, so she would never feel disappointed if she forgot or lost something.

Living in the village- in an actual house- provided more opportunity, but she still felt no need to buy much. She had simple needs: a few batches of clothes, her tantō and katana, and a good pair of sandals. However, there were…a few things she’d become attached to. A necklace carved in the shape of bird wings that Miki had given to her that wound around the bird head necklace the Uchiha had. “It’s, um, symbolic, y-you know? So we’ll…always be together.” The wrist bracers Toka had given her for her birthday. A hair tie Miki had given her that she’d worn every day since.

She fiddled with the necklace as she walked away from her front door, a churning in her stomach. Her father may have been distracted momentarily by the village-wide effort to retrieve Miki’s sensei, and the wedding of one of their clan head’s lieutenants afterward, but she knew he would confront her eventually, especially since she’d made no secret of being with Miki. Especially since she’d danced with Miki at Toka’s reception, wearing hakama and a haori like the men there instead of a pretty kimono like Miki had been wearing, and had just given her father a blank, challenging stare when she saw him glaring.

“Tamaki,” his voice called out from behind her, making her pause. She turned as he walked across the yard towards her, arms folded across his chest, a frown on his face as he examined her. She was dressed as any other day, in trousers and a sleeveless shirt with a rope around her waist, with a coat to combat winter. She knew he was thinking of her stubborn refusal to wear anything else, to make her attractive to a suitor, as even many kunoichi did. “Go back inside.”

“I have an engagement I need to get to. Can it wait?”

He scowled, even though she’d made a point to keep her tone polite. “Engagement? You mean going to see that Uchiha girl.”

Tamaki slowly folded her arms and forced her heart rate to slow down. Getting angry would only make him get angrier, she knew from experience. “She’s my girlfriend,” she said, and that was a rather new term, leaking into the shinobi’s vocabulary from civilians, and it felt good on her tongue.

“Listen, girl,” he began, his frown growing deeper. “I don’t care about this phase of yours, but there are certain things you must understand. You’re not to- to marry some Uchiha girl-”

“Why not? Toka got married to a woman,” Tamaki challenged, and took a small amount of enjoyment in the way he pursed his lips. He couldn’t argue with that. “And I’ll marry who I want.”

A few other Senju in the area, a more densely populated area of Senju housing, were starting to glance at them now. A few of the women were wincing, as if pitying her.

“You’ll marry who I choose,” Kenichi retorted. It was something he’d said before and he emphasized it again with a low, irritated sort of anger, as he was tired of saying it.

“No, I won’t,” Tamaki snapped, letting her voice grow louder. If her father really wanted to drag this out, she was going to make sure everyone heard it. “I’ll marry who I want, and I don’t need your permission. And who I want is Uchiha Miki. If you have a problem with it, you can go back to the warring clans era where you belong.”

The yard was dead silent as everyone there now blatantly stared at the drama unfolding. Tamaki glanced to the side with her eyes when she heard a small noise; Anya, a woman who’d taken care of her when she was a child and her mother had passed, was staring at them in horror with both hands folded over her mouth. Beside her, her own daughter looked oddly thrilled and fascinated.

Kenichi reared back, momentarily stunned, before his face twisted in anger. “You- you- you incorrigible child,” he breathed, shaking from head to toe. He took a menacing step towards her that made Anya suck in a sharp breath. It took only another to close the distance between them. “You do not speak that way to your father!”

He raised his hand to her. It was the first time he’d done so, but Tamaki had been expecting it regardless; her father was often stressed and dissatisfied with the events of his day since the village had been founded. Her heart may have been racing in apprehension but it was blocked out by the deafening rush of fury in her mind as she ducked under his swing.

She raised her fist and reared it back, watching his eyes widen in surprise at how easily she had dodged his blow before she slammed it into his face.

He flew back, across the yard, and slammed into their front door, taking it off its hinges. The first wall of their front room crumbled beneath his form, then the second, then his own bedroom wall. He crashed into a fourth, putting a dent in it as he crumbled to the floor.

The silence now was even more pronounced. Tamaki looked around and saw familiar faces around her, staring with open mouths and wide eyes. Some were too stunned to do anything; some looked horrified and dismayed.

She looked back at her father as he coughed and wheezed. Her anger was gone, and she just felt…pointedly sad. He was still stuck in an era gone by as everyone around him moved forward.

He looked up at her, one hand holding his bleeding face as it curled into a snarl. There was such a lividity in his eyes that it made her irritation rile again.

“If you like our house so much,” she spat, “you can have it all to yourself.”

She had everything she needed on her already.

She turned and stormed away from the yard, leaving her father in the wreckage.


 

Madara stared at the blonde Senju girl his student seemed to like so much as she left and glanced at the hole in her home, whose foremost feature was now the broken wood and shattered windows. Something hysterical bubbled up within him. The girl had knocked him through three whole walls and almost taken out another. At least Miki had good tastes.

His laughter broke the silence of the yard and made every head swivel to look at him. He laughed harder than he had in a long time, cackling so intensely it made him sway on his feet and move to rebalance himself. He wheezed out a breath and tried to quell himself but started guffawing again a mere moment later.

He stumbled over the edge of the roof he’d been standing on as he’d come to find Hashirama’s chakra signature and toppled over the side, laughing the entire time he tumbled into the bush near the house.

The house had belonged to Toka, who was still enjoying honeymoon bliss at Mito’s home and had asked Hashirama and Tobirama to pick up a few of her belongings and bring them there. They stood on the porch, staring at the incident in the yard, and they’d both gone tense when Kenichi raised his fist, ready to intervene before the girl had handled it herself. Hashirama wondered how a young kunoichi with such raw strength had gone unnoticed.

He whirled around when he heard Madara’s laughter and rubbed his forehead sheepishly when he spotted him on the roof and Tobirama gave him a dry stare. Then he went tumbling over the side and, even though he knew it would take an angry rhinoceros to do Madara damage, he ran over to make sure anyway.

“Madara!” he chastised, reaching into the bush and pulling his laughing friend out. There was a wide grin on his face and a sparkle in his eyes and it made Hashirama’s heart skip a beat. He swallowed the sudden lump in his throat and kept his hands on Madara’s arms as he pulled him away from the house. “What are you doing here?”

“I-I came to f-find yo-ou,” Madara wheezed. Holding a hand to his gut, he took a few moments to calm himself, breathing deep breaths. “I- I had a- voucher- but this was- so much better.” He paused to giggle under his breath again, thinking of the stunned expression on Kenichi’s face just as Tamaki’s fist rammed into it. He wasn’t much familiar with the man himself, but he’d picked up on the fact that Izuna didn’t like him, and anyone Izuna didn’t like was worthy of amusement.

He was referring, of course, to the insane amount of vouchers and coupons that restaurants and venders tended to give the Hokage- and him, for some reason- that they often used to eat out.

Hashirama gazed at him as he laughed and couldn’t find it in him to chastise him. He looked so bright, his smile large enough to dazzle, and it made something joyous fill his chest. Even Tobirama’s expression had softened some as he restrained a small smirk and pointedly didn’t look as Kenichi dragged himself out of his house.

“You’re hurt,” Hashirama said, eyes drifting to the tears and cuts in Madara’s clothes the bush’s thorns had caused. He stepped closer than what was appropriate and set a glowing hand on Madara’s stomach, placing the other on his lower back. “Here.”

Madara had opened his mouth to respond but clamped it shut as he choked on his words. His laughter faded and his face began to turn red as Hashirama stood there, leaning close to him to look at a few small cuts on his shoulder. It felt entirely unnecessary. “You- you don’t have to-”

“Checking for thorns,” Hashirama told him with a smile. His chakra was spreading all over Madara’s body and it made him shiver. “Now that I think about it, you’re overdue for an exam, as well.”

“I’m…sure I don’t…need one.” His touch was as gentle and easy as ever but there was something…charged and intimate about it that Madara couldn’t grasp. He turned his eyes away and stood there with a vermillion face as Hashirama healed the cuts on his body. It felt like it took much longer than it should have.

Hashirama simply stood there staring at him, but looked up and let his chakra fade when they heard a rustling from Kenichi’s house. Madara took the opportunity to step away and cleared his throat, folding his arms and trying to appear normal. His body simply couldn’t stop betraying him whenever Hashirama came too close and it irked him to no end. The absence of Hashirama’s chakra folding around him felt cold and empty.

Tobirama just rubbed his forehead, because the Senju around them had taken to staring in fascination as their leader blatantly made a pass at the old Uchiha patriarch and he couldn’t find words for how ridiculous his brother was.

Madara glanced over at Kenichi as he stumbled from the rubble, took one look at his bloodied face, and lost it again.

Kenichi turned and glared at him as he laughed. They weren’t standing that far apart, and it took only a few unsteady steps to come closer. “What are you laughing at, Uchiha?” he hissed, blinking blood out of his eyes. His free hand clenched into a fist when Madara continued to laugh at him, obviously not taking him seriously. He went to step closer again and Hashirama stepped between them, expression solemn and serious.

“Kenichi,” he greeted with a small nod. “You should head to the hospital.”

“Bu- you-” Kenichi glanced between his stone-faced leader and the laughing Uchiha behind him, disbelieving. “He’s-”

Madara quieted some as Hashirama stared at him. “You’re quite injured,” he said, completely avoiding the question as if he hadn’t implied it at all.

“Wh- you’re just going to let him sit there and cackle at my expense?!”

“It may be inappropriate, but there are no village rules against laughter, Kenichi,” Hashirama told him serenely, making Madara shriek behind him.

Kenichi twitched, because he knew the other man knew he meant chastise Madara as his supposed friend rather than order him not to laugh as their kage.

A spasm developed in his brow as he looked at Madara again, who’d become unsteady on his feet and stumbled a bit, and moved to lean on Hashirama’s back as he wheezed, struggling for breath as he clung to Hashirama’s haori.

Very well,” Kenichi hissed. He could clearly see where his leader’s priorities were. He turned and stormed off, ignoring the limp in his step, all while Uchiha Madara laughed at him.

Hashirama calmly watched him go and glanced at the Senju still gawking from their porches. “It’s all right, everyone,” he called out. “Go back to your business.”

He took half a step forward and turned to catch Madara before he stumbled, wrapping an arm around him with a smile as the man let out another wheezing laugh into Hashirama’s shoulder. “Are you done?” he asked, his tone full of amusement.

Looking as if he was struggling to not grin, Madara pulled away from him and swept a hand over his ponytail to try and get it back under control. He was sure it was full of thorns by now.

“Come on, let’s go get something to eat,” Hashirama said, motioning to follow him, still with amusement in his voice and expression. He smiled as Madara fell into step beside him, his countenance more muted than before but still pleasant, and relished in the feeling of contentment it gave him. He imagined how much more contented he would feel when he was able to call the man beside him his lover.


 

Madara was still tugging at a particularly stubborn thorn several hours later, after they’d gone to lunch and spent some time sparring in the woods. Hashirama had wanted to check up on the girl he’d seen stomp out of the Senju compound, but Madara already knew she would head straight to Naori’s home. Naori herself had a spare bedroom empty in hopes that she wouldn’t have to use it but knowing she might if Tamaki’s father was as strict as she’d heard.

The sun had started to dip below the horizon, leaving an even colder bite on the air as they walked down the street towards the compound. Madara wondered if his mantle, full of various cuts and tears after their fight, was worth trying to save before deducing that it was probably less effort to simply make a new one.

“It’s rather cold, isn’t it?” Hashirama asked, glancing up at the sky. Madara thought that was rather obvious. Hashirama glanced over at him with a smile that felt pointed. “Want to take a dip in the springs before going home?”

Madara hummed affirmatively, because a hot bath did indeed sound very nice, and followed him as he turned down a side street. There was a hot spring close by, but Hashirama plotted a path past it, making Madara’s brow furrow in confusion as he followed him. A minute or two passed and he was about to ask where Hashirama was leading them before he abruptly turned down a street with trees hanging over it, beaming at Madara over his shoulder and walking towards a quaint little hot spring with a sign over the door with a green carnation painted onto it.

Madara shrugged to himself and followed the man inside. The man behind the counter nodded at him with an odd smile before going back to his newspaper. It was a bit strange, but not altogether very concerning.

He folded his mantle and trousers and placed them into one of the cubbies in the changing room, winding a towel around his waist and retreating into the springs before he could get a good look at Hashirama. He wasn’t too interested in finding out if he became even more flustered around the man when he was naked.

He could see why Hashirama liked the actual spring- it was shaded by dense trees overhead, lit by the lanterns by the door and steps leading into the water. He felt natural stone underfoot as he stepped inside and let out a pleased hiss as he sank into the water. The heat instantly chased away the cold. He moved himself to the second step so the water came up to his pectorals and closed his eyes, listening as Hashirama came through the curtain and walked towards the stairs, humming under his breath.

Unable to repress his curiosity, he peaked one eye open as Hashirama sat down. He glanced at him with a smile. “Why are you sitting over there? It’s warmer over here.”

He was right, technically, since there were more shadows on Madara’s side. “I’m fine,” Madara said, eyes flitting down to a bead of sweat dribbling down Hashirama’s collarbone. He watched it slowly slide down brown skin and disappear into the water and realized he was staring, averting his gaze and hoping that any flush Hashirama saw he would attribute to the heat.

“Oh, come now, come sit by me,” Hashirama coaxed, a grin in his voice. “We did come together.”

Madara responded by barely muttering under his breath. “I’m sure you don’t want to be-”

A vine wrapped around his ankle and yanked him across the step. “-Crowded-!” Madara yelped, flailing briefly and struggling to regain his balance as the vine slithered away from him. He heard Hashirama laughing and glared at him, at his shining smile and the sparkle in his eyes, and his irritation wavered in the face of it. “Idiot,” he mumbled, turning away so at least he wasn’t facing the man. They were hardly half an inch apart and it was making a flush spread over his whole body. He could feel the warmth of Hashirama’s thigh next to his, he could feel the water ripple as he laughed, and it was overpowering.

“I may be an idiot,” Hashirama joked, leaning back against the wall of the steps and hooking his arm over the side. “But you love me anyway.”

It was an innocent expression, but he said it as he folded his other arm over the step, over Madara’s shoulder, his hand trailing in the water beside it and boxing him in. Madara took a moment to take a deep breath and mustered his best glare, which came off as mildly pathetic compared to what he was usually capable of. “You’re too touchy with people.”

Hashirama’s grin widened and took on a weird gleam. “Am I? I don’t really notice.” He shrugged and closed his eyes, tilting his head back. “It’s better than being too stoic, though.”

His fingers landed on Madara’s shoulder. He tried not to jump and a lump lodged itself in his throat when they started tracing a circle pattern into his skin. He couldn’t even tell if Hashirama was doing it on purpose to jest or if he legitimately didn’t notice- or if he just thought it was normal.

The hot spring felt a bit too warm. He shifted his weight and tried not to squirm. Hashirama’s fingers curled around a strand of his hair and started to toy with it. Madara attempted to ignore the pleasant tingle it made spread up his back and neck and focused on a tree on the other side of the springs that extended out of the water and spread overhead.

Hashirama’s fingers brushed over a thorn as he was twirling the strand of hair in his grasp. “Get your hair wet,” he suggested, leaning in. “I’ll get these out for you.”

Madara gulped and froze for a moment, but he figured that would at least be better than sitting there in silence. He leaned down and turned his head, dipping his hair into the water, using both hands to push it down and let it soak for a minute.

Almost before he’d fully straightened, Hashirama threaded both sets of fingers in it and started rifling through for thorns. Madara closed his eyes and let out an uneven breath, turning to the side again to allow him to access all of it. At least, this way, he didn’t have to look at him or his glistening body that taunted him like a siren that knew he couldn’t have it.

Even if the entire situation was a bit…embarrassing, however, the feeling of Hashirama’s fingers carding through his hair was…nice. He closed his eyes and focused on it, on every pleasant tingle every tug on his scalp gave him, of every time Hashirama’s fingertips grazed his skin. It was enough to lull him into a state of relaxation.

He didn’t notice when Hashirama dropped the last thorn onto the tile and continued to stroke his hands through his hair, undoing every little tangle and moving up until his fingers were simply massaging Madara’s scalp. It was a pleasurable feeling, like every worry and stress he had being washed away. He leaned his head back into it and let out a quiet groan.

There was hot breath in his ear and he noted that Hashirama had gotten closer- much closer, half-aware of himself, still focused on the hand rubbing his scalp, as the other had disappeared, and there was a pleasant warmth around him that wasn’t coming from the water.

Madara blearily opened his eyes. It was all enough to almost put him to sleep. He blinked it away and paused, breath catching in his throat, when he realized Hashirama had a hand on his thigh, massaging it with the same rhythm as he was with his scalp, leaning in so close he was breathing into Madara’s ear and he could feel the man’s chest nearly touching his back.

Madara swallowed, slowly, and his lightheadedness was due to more than just the hot water. Hashirama’s breath was low and even and it was all strangely intimate, even for him, and perhaps, Madara thought, the hot steam in the air was making him a little lightheaded and a bit too familiar.

“We…we should probably get out soon,” he murmured, even though he really did not want to move.

Hashirama leaned over his shoulder so he could take a look at his face, having been hyper-fixated on every little sound his friend made, eyes keen as he watched him enjoy his ministrations, and smiled. “We could enjoy ourselves a little bit more,” he said, all too aware of how his hand was mere inches from Madara’s dick, with a note of suggestiveness in his voice. “If you catch my meaning.”

Madara’s eyebrows drew together. No, he absolutely did not catch Hashirama’s meaning. The Senju sighed to himself.

“No use putting off the walk just because it’s cold,” he said sensibly. Hashirama wanted to ram his head into a wall.

“Ah, I suppose you’re right,” he hummed, withdrawing his hands. He noted the way Madara’s eyes trailed after them, looking almost disappointed, and smiled to himself. “No use putting it off.”

Madara turned and reached for the towel he’d folded near the edge. Wringing out his hair before he rose, he stepped onto the tile and wrapped it around himself quickly so as to avoid getting cold. It still afforded Hashirama a pleasant view of his ass before it was hidden from view by deep green cloth.

He licked his lips as he watched Madara head for the door, moisture still clinging to the muscle of his back and arms, a warm flush to his skin. He let his eyes drift to toned calves and the flash of thigh he knew was firm to the touch he could see beneath the towel and wiped a bead of saliva from his lip before it dropped.

Madara himself tried not to think of the way he’d wanted to push Hashirama down on the spot where he sat, seat himself on the man’s thighs and have his way with him until his screams were filling the springs. This was the reason he should have known better, he thought. He simultaneously wanted to be as near as he possibly could but couldn’t seem to stop imagining all the things they could be doing instead that would be even more pleasurable.

They both sighed in frustration, for entirely different but related reasons, and began to pick up to go home.