Hikaku knew exactly what Hashirama was going to question him about when he turned around. His thoughts were confirmed when he spun and saw the Hokage walking towards him, holding Madara’s choker carefully in his hands. He sighed at the headache he was surely about to induce and left Naori to clean up the last of the large leaves they’d used as fans the night before.
“Hokage-sama,” he greeted as neutrally as he could. He might as well see if the man had at least spoken to Madara yet. “What brings you by today?”
Hashirama’s eyes darted around the compound. Several Uchiha were giving him smirks as they cleaned up. Thinking back on what happened in the light of day brought a hot flush to his neck. “Ah, well,” he began, “I had some…questions. I also thought that Madara might…want this back.”
He held up the collar, just a bit, and Hikaku raised his hand. “I’m not permitted to touch that,” he said, face blank.
Hashirama’s brow creased. “You’re not?”
“No one is but Madara. And you.”
Hashirama frowned. Hikaku could see the mental gears turning in his head. “Because he gave it to me?” he questioned, glancing down at the collar’s gems.
“Well, what does it mean, then?”
Hikaku mentally sighed. Of course Madara hadn’t spoken to him. “I can’t tell you that either,” he said, going on when Hashirama opened his mouth. “And neither should anyone else. That’s something Madara needs to do.”
Hashirama let out a light sigh. “So that’s why Izuna laughed at me,” he mumbled, half pouting and half exasperated. Hikaku felt some small tickle of amusement.
“Look, Hokage-sama,” he said, deciding to try and nudge the two forward. “Ask Madara about it when you see him. I assure you that, though I can’t tell you what it means, it’s very important, especially to him.”
Hashirama frowned at the choker, looking mildly concerned. At least Madara had fallen in love with someone kind, Hikaku thought, and not someone he would be obligated to cutting the hands off of if he mistreated the collar.
Just get it over with, Madara told himself as he stormed down the road towards his street. He would go, apologize, get it over with, and they would both forget about this. He was simply intoxicated; surely Hashirama would understand. Surely.
His throat closed up when he glanced up and saw Hashirama walking towards him. The man was distracted, staring at the collar in his hands with a thoughtful frown, and the sight of it made Madara’s heart race.
“Ah,” Hashirama said as he paused, glancing up in surprise. His eyes landed on Madara’s neck. “Madara.”
“Hashirama,” Madara mumbled, eyes on the ground. He cleared his throat, even though he didn’t need to, and tried to ignore the heat traveling up his ears. “I came to, uh…about the…bonfire…”
“Right,” Hashirama agreed, staring at him. Part of him wasn’t listening and instead stubbornly imagining Madara greeting him with a smirk instead of bashfulness, edging the man into the trees to murmur in his ear that he wanted another dance in private, being able to reach out and touch all the places he had last night. His own ears turned red at the reminder of what he’d done.
“I was, ah…very…very intoxicated, and had inhaled some- smoke-”
Madara wasn’t even looking him in the face. Hashirama cringed to himself, wondering if he was uncomfortable by his previous touch, and couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. Madara’s intoxicated mind had seen an attractive man who was his friend and nothing wrong with having some…fun, and Hashirama had been the opposite of unwilling, but he obviously felt bad about it now. He’d hoped…well, it didn’t matter now.
“I apologize,” Madara mumbled. “I was…er…”
“It’s all right! Don’t worry about it!” Hashirama exclaimed, eager to get past the awkward moment when Madara so clearly wanted to. He plastered on a smile. “It’s…it’s fine.” It absolutely was not fine. “Did, um…”
He held up the collar. He saw Madara’s eyes widen slightly as he looked at it, and the man so desperately wanted to snatch it back from him it was almost painful. He knew that it was worth something- it was made of fine, dark leather, inlaid with white and red stitching around the edges and in the shape of feathers, and the missing space between the two red gems on the front had to be on purpose and waiting for a new stone. There was such care put into the detail it had to have great significance.
“N…no,” Madara stammered, nearly whimpering at his own inability to just reach out, take it, and forget the entire thing. Yet he couldn’t just ask for it back now that he’d given it. It would be paramount to retracting his feelings- and even though Hashirama had no idea what it meant, he did, the rest of the Uchiha did, and something in him just couldn’t bear to do it. He had been brought up to learn that giving away that collar was something far more important and weighty than giving someone a simple bauble, that it was an expression of the deepest sorts of feelings, and it was too serious to simply forget he’d done.
He had screwed himself over yet again. The possibility of him ever finding anyone other than Hashirama had been less than nothing anyway, but if, for the sake of the example, he did, he had no collar to bequeath to them. Now real life lined up with his feelings, and apparently the universe wanted to see him suffer.
A furrow developed in Hashirama’s brow. “But- don’t you want it back?”
Madara licked his lips as he glanced at the leather again. “…yes,” he admitted quietly.
“I can’t,” he blurted out, feeling more irritated with himself than Hashirama, turning away. “Just- just- just…take care of it,” he said, voice soft as he stared at the ground. He’d had that choker since he was a boy and he would probably never see it again now. He would have no collar to wear at the Uchiha gatherings now and everyone would see his naked neck and the pointed lack of a lover at his side. He gritted his teeth and whirled around to stalk away.
“Madara,” Hashirama called after him, but didn’t follow as he watched the man flee in concern. He was upset- that was obvious, and he felt horrible at being the one who’d caused it.
He looked at the choker in his hands. All the Uchiha had one, and apparently they couldn’t simply ask for them back after giving them away and now Madara would have to return to his clansmen and they would all probably know exactly what had happened even if Hashirama himself still didn’t fully know. Was it a cause for shame? Had he caused something horrible? Was the Uchiha clan going to be back to giving him sullen glares?
He looked up at where Madara had disappeared around the corner and wilted. Nothing felt right. He turned to return to his house and his bedroom and ended up gingerly folding the collar in a piece of cloth, setting it in the locked drawer on his desk, feeling guilty and as if he’d stolen something dear from Madara without meaning to the entire time.
Madara was avoiding him.
Hashirama tried to give the man his space, but the longer he sat there knowing Madara was upset the more upset he himself became. He decided to go find him and try and smooth things over, to at least try and regain some normalcy, and perhaps he’d be able to find out the meaning of that choker and a way to return it over time.
“Ah, Madara,” he said when he’d found the Uchiha in the market, and tried to ignore the wince Madara gave at his presence. “Want to go spar?”
Fighting was easy. Fighting was routine. Surely it would help get their minds off…this.
“I suppose,” Madara murmured, and began to follow him to the training grounds. Hashirama felt some small measure of relieved that he did.
Neither of them said anything, pretending that everything was normal and nothing had happened as they readied themselves and lunged at each other to start. Fighting with Madara was a familiar pattern to fall into. The Uchiha’s eyes became narrow as they fought, his expression becoming focused, and to Hashirama’s even greater relief he could feel something regular and normal replace the awkward tension in the air as they scrapped. So focused on that relief, he was, that he only paid half attention to the fight and didn’t notice when a smirk overtook Madara’s face.
Sparring made him feel as if the day was just any other, not the morning after he’d given the love of his life a lap dance, and Madara couldn’t help but feel grateful Hashirama wasn’t bringing it up. He lost himself in the fun of the fight and felt something ornery rise up in him when he noticed Hashirama’s divided attention.
He went for a strike against Hashirama’s chest and feinted, nailing the Senju with a kick to the abdomen and sending him flying into the air, and summoned his Susanoo in the same breath. Getting knocked through a few trees would wake the man up.
He saw Hashirama’s eyes go wide in surprise, and then the Susanoo’s arm had lashed out and slammed into his crossed arms and sent him flying. He catapulted through the air, over the treetops, and then he was out of sight.
Madara hovered there for a moment, frozen, and thought that he’d perhaps struck out harder than he’d meant to. A hysterical urge to laugh bubbled in his chest as he landed and pushed off to go after Hashirama. He heard the man slam into the ground and snickered as he ran through the trees.
Madara touched down where Hashirama had landed and gazed at the man in amusement when he saw him laying in the middle of a small field of cabbages, which were now ruined and strewn about due to the shinobi who’d made a crater upon impact. Hashirama groaned as he sat up, rubbing his head, and looked around with a sheepish wince. He was sure whatever farmer lived out here wouldn’t be happy to see what they’d done.
“Looks like you have a few things you need to patch up,” Madara sniggered.
Hashirama groaned. “Madara,” he said with another wince. “That was horrible.”
Madara tried to restrain a grin and held out his hand. Hashirama grasped it and rolled to his feet as Madara pulled him up. He dusted his training clothes off and looked around with another cringe. “I’ll ask Tobirama who lives out here,” he sighed. “And send some money for this later.”
Madara folded his arms with a smirk. “The great and powerful Hokage, ruining some poor farmer’s cabbage patch.”
A pout crossed Hashirama’s lips. “It was your fault!”
“It’s not my fault you couldn’t even block a little swipe from my Susanoo.”
Hashirama was interrupted mid-sentence by someone from above, someone, Madara presumed, who had to be the owner of the field.
“Look at what you did!” an upset voice shrilled, making them startle in surprise. “My cabbages!”
“Uh-” Hashirama whirled and noted the short woman standing on one of the trees overhead, staring down at them with an upset expression. She had on a strange pointed hat and had purple markings on her face, along with weird charmed jewelry on her wrists and ankles. “I’m terribly sorry,” he called up to her.
“You humans are always doing this!” she shrieked. “You just bowl down everything in your path and don’t care about anyone else who lives here!”
Madara raised an eyebrow. “You’re human too,” he noted.
“I most certainly am not! I’m a witch!” she shouted, as if that explained anything. She pointed at them with fury making her face twist up and seethed. “You’ll pay for this!”
Hashirama raised his hands. “Please, we only-”
She lifted her hands towards the sky and lightning cracked in the clear sky overhead. Leaves from the nearby trees were yanked from their homes and wound themselves into weird dog-like beasts all around them, thrumming with a strange energy that set Madara on guard.
Several of them ran at him. He let loose a wall of flame that engulfed nearly all of the beasts on his side of the clearing, making them let out high-pitched yelps as they burned to a crisp.
“We don’t want to fight!” Hashirama yelled out, ducking under one as it leapt at him.
“You destroyed my cabbages!” the witch shrieked from somewhere nearby. The beasts were reforming out of their own ashes and doubling every time one went down and Madara busied himself with striking down the ones that neared him; they weren’t all that threatening on their own, but the sheer number was a bit overwhelming to deal with without being able to take them all out at once.
“I can replace them!”
“No! You dumb humans don’t know how to properly cultivate them,” the witch shrieked.
“They’re cabbages,” Madara called out, annoyed. “How much could they possibly be worth?”
“Oh!” Her howl made him wince just due to how screeching it was. “How important!”
A fine purple mist burst from the ground and swirled through the clearing. The entire thing was ridiculous, Madara thought, and if Hashirama would just let him finish it in one go, they would have no trouble.
The beasts themselves were more irritating than her. They held more weight than what their composition seemed to allow and stared at him with fire for pupils and he wondered just what this woman was that he’d never encountered before.
Madara whirled when he heard Hashirama shout his name. No sooner had he done so that he saw a blur of brown and tan as the man dashed in front of him. His expression curled into a wince as he pitched forward, and Madara realized, with a start, he couldn’t catch himself.
Madara’s eyes went wide. He lunged forward and lowered himself so he could catch the other man on one shoulder, falling to his knees in the grass to ease his fall. “Hashirama!”
A groan slipped out of the Hokage’s throat. There was blood streaming from a wound on his right shoulder where an arrow had pierced his body. Madara could only see the shaft. He hadn’t seen the witch fire from any point and it had to have been poisoned, because Hashirama wasn’t responding to him.
Madara saw red. He whirled back towards where the witch had been standing and unleashed black hellfire on everything he could see, scorching the beasts and landscape and surrounding them all with a tornado of flame. Their shrieking filled his ears as his Mangekyo whirled around and around and around in fury, burning everything in a two-hundred foot radius to ashes.
He pulled the arm on Hashirama’s unstressed side over his shoulders and pushed off. There was a cave mere steps from where they’d been sparring, and it would be suitable to defend from any more of those creatures as his kage bunshin searched for ingredients for first aid.
It took him less than thirty seconds to reach it and slide Hashirama down to lean against the cave wall. He stripped the man’s yukata top off and tossed it onto a small boulder, swearing when he saw how deeply embedded the arrowhead was.
“That damned witch,” he hissed, unable to let go of his anger. It was the only thing distracting him from how Hashirama, invincible, more powerful than Madara could hope to be, was unconscious, hurt, and how terrifying it was to feel the man’s pulse quickening under his touch and his body heating up.
He sterilized a kunai with a hot burst of fire. Hashirama groaned in his sleep as he widened the wound, cursing his need to do so to get the arrowhead out. It was hooked in Hashirama’s muscle like a vice and he wanted to burn it until it was nothing but a tiny pile of oozing metal.
His first clone returned with a carved-out stone to boil water in as his second started to grind the small amount of herbs it had been able to find in the forest. He shrugged off his outer yukata and ripped it into strips, wrapping them around Hashirama’s shoulder and chest to serve as bandages as one of his bunshin spread the paste it had made onto another. He wasn’t skilled in the medical field, but most Uchiha knew a few emergency recipes; he layered the strip with paste coated onto it over the wound in Hashirama’s flesh and tied the makeshift bandages over it, hoping it would draw enough of the poison out for Hashirama’s body to combat it easier.
Taking a shuddering breath, Madara stood and walked back to the mouth of the cave to check and see if any trace of that witch or her guard dogs were around. He was half sure he’d burnt them all, but he hadn’t devoted too much of his attention to them when Hashirama had fainted into his arms.
He froze mid-step when he reached the entrance.
The forest around them was gone. Instead, he could see a beach stretching out from the cave mouth, where a cliff on the left cut it off and it ran out of sight to the right. He could see an island in the distance, covered by a fine mist that hung over the water.
“What the hell?” he breathed, activating his Sharingan again. “Release!”
Nothing happened. He tried to release the genjutsu again and looked around, looking for any sign of reality with his eyes, as something like panic grew in his gut. He took a step back and tried to ignore the pointedly ill sensation assaulting him. How had this happened?
A groan caught his attention. Madara whirled and nearly ran back to Hashirama, the only thing still familiar and sensible, and pulled back the bandages. The paste was stained with an ugly black liquid.
He switched it out for another strip and went back to pacing. Was this another of the witch’s tricks? Had she somehow cast a genjutsu that even his Sharingan couldn’t detect or break?
He stopped and paused to take a deep breath, running his hands through his hair as he looked back out the opening of the cave. It was all still there.
He didn’t know what to do.
The only thing he could do was do his best to ensure Hashirama woke up (of course he would wake up). He would decide what to do when he was no longer in danger. If Hashirama could just wake up and get back on his feet, Madara could deal with all this without losing his mind.
He was switching out the second strip of paste when a sudden bout of dizziness hit him. He at first thought it was from the exertion, and the fact he was still suffering through his hangover, but it continued to ail him after he’d fastened Hashirama’s bandages again and sat down. There was an odd stinging on the outside of his wrist that made a frown tug at his lips; he rolled up the sleeve of the thin yukata top he was left in and grimaced when he saw a small cut, no larger than three inches, running across his skin. It had started to leak puss as the same angry black liquid festered on the surface. When had he been grazed?
He tore off a strip of his other sleeve and ripped it in two, spreading a small amount of paste on one and wrapping the other around it and his wrist. It would have to do; he needed to keep most of the medicine for Hashirama.
He went to stand again and found his legs had gone a little too weak to do so. Taking a deep breath, he sat there for a few minutes, listening to his heart pound a little faster than before, waiting until the wave of nausea had passed. Hopefully, most of the poison was being drawn from his body.
He looked over at Hashirama. There was sweat on his forehead, and a crease had developed in his brow as he grimaced in his sleep. Madara could see a slight flush had spread across his skin from the point of impact, and the man’s breath had gone a bit shallower.
He couldn’t die. Madara couldn’t handle it. Not after he’d finally fixed his mistake- not before Hashirama got to see his dream flourish around him. Madara wouldn’t let it happen.
He watched Hashirama’s eyelids twitch, a bead of sweat running down his forehead, the way his lips tugged downwards as if he wanted to frown. There was a cold fear in the back of his mind and he couldn’t stop thinking about it. Not Hashirama. Not him.
He scrubbed at his eyes when he realized they’d become damp and berated himself as he forced himself to stand. He ignored the soreness that hadn’t been there before and made himself start to move. He would have to deal with it. The only thing that mattered was making sure Hashirama didn’t die.
Madara couldn’t handle it if he did.
He sent his clones out to look for driftwood on the shore and wet a strip of cloth with the cooled water he’d set on the same boulder Hashirama’s yukata lay strewn across. A small sigh left Hashirama’s lips when he pressed it against his warm forehead. Madara swallowed, kneeling there beside him, and felt guilt course through him as he wiped the perspiration from his forehead. This had only happened because Hashirama had tried to shield him.
He refused to let anything more happen to him. He changed out the paste again; there was a tiny amount on the old scrap, but he used up the last of it to change the bandages again anyway.
He gently grasped Hashirama’s shoulders and moved him away from the wall. He didn’t make a sound as Madara moved him to lay on the ground, spread his yukata over him, and set about to starting a fire.
God, he felt horrible. His head felt like it was filled with pressure that made it hard to breathe, and he felt green at even the thought of going to find something to eat. One of his clones dispelled outside, making him grimace as he sat down, hoping his second would last long enough to make it back inside.
It managed to dump a pile of wood on the ground and arrange a line of stones around it before another wave of dizziness hit him and it disappeared in a puff of smoke. Groaning, he raised his fingers to his lips and summoned a smaller burst of fire than he tried for.
He let himself rest there for a long time. Hashirama was silent, never making a single noise, looking marginally more relaxed due to the coolness of the towel on his forehead. Every time Madara looked at him he felt a lump build in his throat.
This had never happened before. He had no idea what was going on inside Hashirama’s body, how severe it was, only that he still hadn’t woken up, he still had a fever, and it was driving him insane.
If only he’d been quicker. He knew he hadn’t drawn all the poison out. If only he’d seen the arrow in the first place and been able to avoid it. If only he’d burned that witch to a crisp in the first place instead of trying to speak to her.
The sun began to go down. Madara changed his position so he could see both Hashirama and the cave entrance and settled in to wait. His nerves became frayed as night fell, leaving the outside world covered in darkness, and he kneaded chakra to throw his senses out and stay on watch. He couldn’t allow anything or anyone to take him by surprise.
His mouth felt cottony and dry and there was an odd coolness on his skin even though he could feel himself sweating. Madara stubbornly ignored it, not letting himself drift to sleep despite how badly he wanted to.
The minutes ticked by until he knew he’d been sitting there for hours, only moving to re-dampen the cloth on Hashirama’s forehead and to check his pulse and temperature. He could see no change, even as the night veered closer to morning than evening.
The anxiousness in his mind wouldn’t let him calm down. All he could do was alternate between glancing at the entrance and Hashirama’s still expression; his still body; the shallow rise and fall of his chest. Something dripped off his chin and he realized his face was wet, and he wiped at the tears with a curse but couldn’t seem to make them stop.
“You idiot,” he whined, shuffling closer until he was sat beside Hashirama and reaching for his hand. It was warm in his grasp as he pressed his forehead against it. “Don’t die. You’re not allowed.”
There was no response. The cave was quiet around him and left him alone with only this thoughts for company. There was a markedly hollow quality to the lack of sound around him and it reminded him of years spent somewhere else. He didn’t want to be here.
He did not let himself sleep.
He sat there shivering, more due to his own sorry state than the coolness of the night, staring at Hashirama and mentally begging him to wake up. By the time the sun had begun to rise he was left with an all-over ache that hounded his every move and a slight lack of sensation where he’d been cut. Still, he was in better shape than Hashirama, so he considered it inconsequential.
It was cloudy out, and the sun rose from the direction behind the cave mouth regardless, so it was dark and shaded the entire morning. The gloomy atmosphere did nothing to help his state of mind. It occurred to him he could try and leave, to find someone who knew medicine, but he couldn’t leave Hashirama there alone and he didn’t think he had the strength to carry him anymore. He had no idea where they were or what could have been waiting for him outside.
Judging by how bright it had become outside, it was nearing noon when he noticed Hashirama begin to stir. He scurried over to kneel at the man’s side as he turned his head, frowning before his eyes started to creak open.
“Hashirama? Can you hear me?”
“Madara?” he asked, looking a bit confused. A sigh of relief wracked Madara’s body. He slumped where he sat, trying not to let his exhaustion show. “Where are we? The witch-?”
“I don’t know where she is,” Madara replied, unsure of just how to explain their current situation. “When you…fell unconscious, I took you to a cave to deal with the wound. I don’t…we seem to have…” Hashirama’s brow furrowed as he stared up at him. “Been…transported, somehow, to a different location.”
“Ah.” The furrow deepened. Hashirama frowned, his eyes becoming a bit more distant, and Madara felt his chakra spike. It was a small change, as it all felt sluggish, but it was better than how dormant it had been while he was unconscious. “Poison. It seems my body’s tried to cycle it out on its own. It shouldn’t take too long for me to deal with it.” His eyes focused again, and he squinted at him. “Are you all right? You look exhausted.”
His gaze roved over Madara’s skin, paler than usual, the way the dark areas under his eyes were more accentuated than they usually were, the tired look in his eyes, the blood smeared across his forehead. His eyes almost looked as if they were rimmed in red- as if he’d been crying- and was he shaking?
“I’m fine,” Madara said quickly, trying to compose himself. “You need to rest. Just…deal with the poison, and I’ll go find something to eat. Spike your chakra if anything happens.”
Hashirama opened his mouth to respond, to ask if he was really all right because he certainly did not look like he was, but Madara was already standing and walking towards the mouth of the cave. There was something in the way he walked, slightly more curled in on himself than usual, that made alarm bells go off in his head. How long had he been unconscious?
Madara let himself groan once he was outside and took a moment to stand there with a hand against his forehead. Slightly warm, but not a fever. At least the worst of his symptoms seemed to be the aching and tiredness.
Hashirama needed to conserve his strength and heal himself, first and foremost, he told himself. He’d already been the cause of his injury; there was no need to make the man worry over him when he was fine…or at least would be fine.
He withdrew a few kunai and climbed onto a rock overlooking the waters. They were clear, crystal-clear, in fact, and it was a bit off-putting. It was as if they’d never seen an ounce of human pollution, yet he’d seen plenty of driftwood and other odds and ends floating around.
The fish were even weirder. They were all bright orange, about the size of his forearm, and he could have sworn they looked just like salmon but for the color. They even had the same texture and shading on their scales. He only hoped they were edible.
It took him three tries to spear two to the rocks underfoot and retrieve them. He picked up a few sticks as he retreated to the cave, grimacing a bit at the fact he had to go back in.
Hashirama had pulled himself up to sit against the wall and pulled his yukata back on. His eyes were closed in concentration and Madara could feel his chakra thrumming in his body, no doubt dealing with whatever effects the poison had on him. He rammed the sticks into the ground and took out a kunai to gut the fish to cook.
He still couldn’t feel the area on his wrist that had been poisoned. He felt the urge to peel back his bandage and check it, but he resolved to do so when Hashirama was either asleep or too busy to notice.
A few minutes passed in silence. Hashirama opened his eyes when he smelled the fish cooking and smiled. “Ah, food,” he said in a light tone. Madara wondered if he was truly so chipper still or if he was trying to be upbeat about their situation. He watched Madara set the fish on a small rock to sizzle and raised an eyebrow. “Not hungry?”
Madara hid a grimace and shrugged. “I ate earlier,” he lied.
“Which reminds me. How long was I out?”
“Er…” Madara turned and squinted at the beach outside. “We…a few hours.” He didn’t notice Hashirama’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise.
Has he rested at all? the Senju wondered with a frown, getting a nagging feeling that he knew the answer already.
“You’re not hurt anywhere, are you?” he asked pointedly, watching for Madara’s reaction.
Madara resisted the urge to wince at the reminder and shrugged. “No.”
Hashirama’s eyes drifted to his sleeve. He’d torn the end off, obviously, and had to have used it for something, but the bandages he wore and the cloth that had been on his forehead were from the yukata Madara had been wearing over his current one.
“Well, I suppose we should go and look around.” Trying to sound casual, he reached for a fish and started to peel the meat off the stick Madara had roasted it on, watching how Madara moved through half-lidded eyes. If he was hurt, surely he would notice where. He could see no blood stains yet he could sense that something was off.
Madara glanced over at him with a frown. “Do you feel well enough for that?”
“Don’t worry. I’ve removed all the poison and healed the wound, I’m just a little sore,” Hashirama said as he smiled again, rubbing at his shoulder. “Walking around would probably help.”
Still looking a bit unsure, Madara nodded. They fell into silence again as Hashirama ate and soothed the soreness in his muscles, eyeing his companion when the other wasn’t looking.