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At the Center of the Wheel

Chapter Text

Madara didn’t remember it all at once, it came in flashes and suspended moments (his brother dying in a war at the hands of-) flickered through his dreaming and waking hours like flashing lighting (a blade made of lightning flashing through the sky/shattering light and the thunder god jutsu in a dozen different moments) and illuminating the world with emotion he didn’t know here. (He remembered more vivid than anything, dark water and a manGodSage sitting if judgement, a voice like time you have destroyed everything and sought to bring back that which I banished remembered anger so bright and terrible it was nothing more than a grief, remembered “we can have tea now” remembers being youngold UchihaŌtsutsuki loving one brother and a father more than anything and seeing that brother chosen over him when all he wanted was to protect – remembered (Indra?) looking into the red eyes of his brothercousintaildbeast and – remembered the manGodSage you have broken everything and brought only misery into the world movement, a hand on his shoulder glimpsed out of the corner of one weeping eye you are nothing and not my son, and I banish from you all that is good, if you cannot love without hate than you shall not love a voice “No-)

Madara was young when he left the orphanage- why wait where he wasn’t wanted?- when he walked away from that without regret and tried to find something better (“we can make something better!” “Not if you continue to push down my clan’s traditions and expect us to leave our identity behind!” “He is right brother, there-) in the world- he had low expectations- tired to ignore the blank space where the chain of his soulmate should have been (you shall never love). He wore gloves that covered the unbroken skin where the golden chains should have wrapped around his hand and fingers in a shadow under the skin, a promise and a guide; a firm knowledge that he would never be alone and there was someone out that that would love him, but his skin was bare- for who could ever love a monster?- clean of the promise of affection from any other soul; Madara was alone in this world, agony enough without dream of family haunting his every step (“Maaaddddarrraaa get up!! It snowed!”). He wandered in his youth, avoided the call of crime by the skin of his teeth as a young child- had the scars to show from it- took up the mantle of bounty hunter as a thin vail for vigilante when he was seventeen- he might not have fire at his fingertips but he was no less dangerous for it- and hunted down the worst of the worst for money from the slightly better (never took a good man’s life for standing in water with his best friends sword though his chest “You are no good man”) trying to eke out a living and trying to feel like it was worth it without knowing why he couldn’t quite bring himself to lay down and die (“so stubborn cousin”).

He wandered back to his ‘home’ when he was twenty-five, broken and worn down and empty to his core (desperate for “I will make a better world”) and there he found something that shattered whatever he had left and stitched him back together. He was wandering and wondering what to do when he saw him, saw Izuna walking across the park hand in hand with a tall dark haired woman and laughing bright and free and unfettered; Madara started to his feet, desperate, this was his brother – and Izuna turned, glanced in his direction and his eyes slid over Madara like water, like nothing was there (you shall never be loved). Madara staggered, ducked behind a tree and tried to breath; that was not his brother, not Madara’s brother for all that he was Izuna’s, he was alone here and what if Izuna remembered? What if he knew that Madara had gone against his wishes? Knew that Madara had taken his eyes? Knew what Madara had done to the world? (monster) would it be worse to see his brother’s eyes fill with hate and disgust than to see then empty of any recognition at all? Madara didn’t want to know. (had Izuna chosen to leave him behind?)

After that it was like Madara could turn a corner without seeing them, without seeing the five four Uchiha siblings moving through the city; Kou was living overseas married to his soulmate- an English duchess of course- it suited what Madara remembered of his half-brother only two month older and not bloody enough for father but in this world he was happy. Kuro was Kurohime now to Madara’s pleasure- black princess indeed, it suited her much better than being a man ever had- and working as the top editor of a fashion magazine even though she was only twenty-four; Izuna was modeling, finally finding a use for his vanity, and then littlest Togakushi was wrapped up in grad school and already a singing sensation. All the brothers that weren’t his grown strong at old and living in the hearts of the city as the creme de la creme of society, the leaders and movers of Konoha that they should have been and if it took Madara being gone for them to be that then he would never claim the Uchiha name and count himself lucky no matter how much it hurt ( “Mads father’ll be so mad-“ “I’ll cover for you Kou” Kou was only four when he died). And after that, after finding out that his not-family was here he couldn’t leave no matter how much he wanted to; so he stayed and watched- Izuna had a soulmate (a tall kunoichi with hearts blood lips and a stern face), a Senju because the world was strange- Kurohime was still looking for hers and decorated her soul-chain by wearing rings and gloves made of thin chains and set a fashion of reveling in the promise on your skin, and ever if it ached Madara was just so damn happy for her.

And then there was the Senju more movers and shakers because of course they were, Hashirama the CEO of an eco friendly company dedicated to creating spaces that were filled with plants and using organic materials to do amazing new sustainable things with sharp eyed Mito at his side soul-chains twining together whenever they were near; Itama was away working with Mito’s charity as a doctor in war torn countries after the troops moved out though he was coming home soon and Kawarama was working his way up the ladder in the air force. Of Tobirama Madara knew almost nothing, he didn’t want to know (“Are you alright Uchiha-sama?” “Shut up! You killed-“) and the tabloids knew almost nothing about the most reserved of the brothers. Madara couldn’t leave, not with almost all those he loved- all but Kou with whom he had never been as close- here in only place, he couldn’t; so he gave up his work and his contacts and found a place to land in a tattoo shop, inking seals and the sun and the moon and dragons of fire and water on his skin until he felt like his memories meant something in the world- he always hoped that he was the only one to remember, the idea that others did and wanted nothing to do with him, never looked, never cared, Madara knew how well he handled grief (you shall-).

Madara found himself slipping into the back of a concert- packed, as it should be- on his twenty-sixth birthday to watch as Togakushi took the stage to screaming fans with Izuna sitting on the edge of the stage laughing; it was fantastic- Madara had know it would be- bright and warm and filled with the pounding Uchiha beats he hadn’t ever heard in Konoha (“your clan festivals would make the village feel separate since they can’t come” “Brother! That’s fucking idiotic-“) and it filled him up with warmth and light and seeing them together, Izuna and Togakushi and Kurohime all laughing and bright Madara thought he could weep. And then Touka- Izuna’s Senju soulmate- showed up with Kawarama as the Uchiha stood laughing on the Grecian colonnade in front of the venue; the Senju stepped closer to shake hands and when Kawarama and Togakushi touched the soul-chains leapt from their skin and twisted together into one whole chain and – and Madara saw his youngest brother (dead at four just like Kou) fall in love in a moment- fall in Uchiha love, that grasping consuming all-encompassing love- with a boy he once would have tried to kill and their combined joy light up the night. Madara couldn’t stay, not when he was the only one that remembered.

(“Kuro? What’s wrong?” she glanced at Izuna with a frown, “I thought I saw…” she looked back at the shadowed arch of the colonnade where it opened on to the street, but the person she thought she had seen was gone, no broad shouldered shape with smoke cloud hair standing and watching and it should have been unnerving but – but all she wanted was to follow them, to catch the edge of a sleeve in her fingers and say “Mad-“ but they- whoever they were- were gone and they were probably a creepy and maybe they hadn’t been there at all. But, still… “Do you remember how you used to try and set the table for six instead of five?” she asked, Izuna- predictably- flushed “I was bad at counting!-” “Until you were eight?” she asked dryly “I just wonder sometimes if we’re….missing something” Izuna’s face fell in serious lines something tired and shadowed “I still have the dreams sometimes” he told her and she frowned; Izuna never remembered what he dreamed of but the loss, the ache of something missing the – Touka laughed, bright and warm and Izuna turned to her like a mirror to light and Kurohime reluctantly let it go.)

Madara curled into the shit bed in his shit apartment and breathed out the miasma of his jealousy; it made him the worst sort of person he knew to see his brother find his soulmate and feel the burn of his blank hand even more strongly than the effervescent joy at his brother’s happiness, but he wanted, wanted to know there was someone at his back that would stand behind him and care and (No, you will not do this to him.” and do you intend to stand against me child of the winter? “If I must”) – this was foolish. There was no soulmate for him, not with the crimes he had committed before, he was alone and always would be and he would learn how to take joy in his brother’s happiness and have that be enough. He would. He had too.

Chapter Text

Madara sighed tiredly, shoving at his hair with the same anger he was tying not the take out on the other passengers on the train, glaring at them until the fainted did no one any good even if it felt amazing for about ten seconds; giving up on his hair he yanked a leather thong from his pocket and twisted his long hair back into a messy tail and tied it there, huffing out a sigh of relief at the air now brushing against his back. It was too fucking hot for this, way to hot to be riding in the fucking train to the dog park up town just because he knew Kurohime went there with her silly fancy long legged hounds every day around this time and he wanted a chance to see her with being a giant creepy stalker; there was a soft woof at his feet and he glanced down at the dog tucked almost under him- hidden by the distraction of his sharp glare and intimidatingly large hair- watching Madara with understanding eyes. Madara snorted and leaned down to rub the fluffy fur, rolling his eyes when the American Eskimo- yes he had looked up the breed, fuck off- leaned into the touch with a silly dog smile; fucking dog should never have followed Madara home from the alley even if Madara had kept giving it food, didn’t she know that was how you got hurt? At least having a dog with him in the dog park was a lot less creepy than without but still, the fact that Susanoo had just decided Madara was hers was a little galling and not at all touching. It wasn’t. really.

The loud chime of the train reaching the station made Susanoo perk up and when Madara stomped to the door she was right behind him taking full advantage of the way people got out of his way in a somewhat frantic scramble- he had noticed it with the Senju and Uchiha as well, the way people just moved for them, though not normally with as much alacrity as they did him- to dart out right after her person and give a good shake to get the feel of overfull train car out of her fur, right next to her Madara did the same with a startling resemblance before he lead her out of the station and into the cooler air of the nice uptown district where his sister’s office was. Madara ignored- as he always did- the stares, he knew he didn’t fit this shinny chrome and tree filled area with it’s clean(er) streets and lovely floral beds tucked around soaring skyscrapers and tall fire trees; not in his battered boots and dirty dark jeans, not with the sleeves of his thin indigo long sleeve shoved up to his elbows and baring the expanse of tattoos covering them from his wrists up, and especially not with his wild cloud of hair knotted back the way it was. He looked out of place for all that he didn’t feel it much (the streets were clean and new and the main house was large and every bit as nice as it ought to be for a clan head and founder and Madara hardly cared for the emptiness) in another life he had been the closest thing to a lord and barely cared what he wore then so it hardly mattered now.

The park wasn’t as busy as Madara had feared it would be with the nice weather, dogs running here and there but not overflowing with them so much as to make Madara’s skin itch and when Madara opened the gate Susanoo darted in with a happy wriggle, fluffing around sniffing things before turning to him and waiting, “Go find her” he sighed under his breath; as helpful as it was to have Susanoo learn to find Kurohime it always made him feel like a fucking creep and he hated that a lot. He ambled after her fluffy white shape breathing in clean air that still tasted a little like trees and a little like the after image of wild things when a familiar rich voice shocked him out of his calm “I’m not sure how you think I can help Kurohime, I know our families seem-“ “Tobirama, come on, it’s only one shoot and you look so exotic, people will love it” his sister said in a wheedling voice and Madara watched in horror as the man he had yet to see in person walked into sight next Kurohime. Tobirama was just as Madara remembered him, of a height with Madara or a few inches taller but lithe and slim, narrow hipped and china pale (huh, albino maybe?) the red slashes of his tattoos a shock on the vulpine face; but – but he wasn’t wearing any armor, dressed in loose dark pants and a kimono shirt the looked so much like what he wore then that Madara couldn’t breathe. Kurohime shot him a friendly smile but there was no sign of any greater affection than that of people that had sibling soulmates and Madara felt relief shoot though him (why-?); his eyes dropped to the pale hands and he froze, wrapped around Tobirama’s hand where a soul-chain should have been was a chain the same brilliant scarlet of his tattoos almost double the length of a normal soul-chain, Madara had never seen anything like it and he couldn’t—(If I must, Sage or no this is a travesty” Once you would have condemned him “That was a long time ago” He destroyed what you gave up everything for “you started it when you couldn’t let your sons be free of your heavy hand” a deep wrath filled snarled What would you give for him? “To keep you for condemning him to this? Anything that is mine to give” a hand in his hair soothing him “I will find him Sage, in every world and every turn on the wheel I will find him and when I do if I give myself to him then your curse is broken, that is my bargain” You DARE another voice calm and cool and echoing with death Brother, I stand with winter’s child in this. It is a fair bargain and you cruelty is at an end, you started this perversion of the natural order and it is time to stop someone kneeling before him; hands, elegant and strong pushing his hair back, breath on his ear “I’ll find you Uchiha”)

Madara turned mechanically, the tumble of thoughts and memories and something he could almost remember “I’ll find you-“ slipping away in stabbing pain, he would see his sister another day. ”Susanoo” he called over his shoulder without looking back as he hopped the fence and his dog bounded over after him.

(Tobirama whirled at the familiar voice, the voice he had searched the entire world for calling a word only they two knew- fuck, how much did he remember? If he did how much must it have hurt…- catching a glimpse of dark hair and white fur through the trees before it was gone. Tobirama didn’t think, didn’t hesitate, taking off after Madara at top speed and leaving behind Kurohime without any reservations ignoring her surprised shout; he wasn’t going to let Madara get away, not when he had had twenty five years to think about their last life and the bullshit that was the Sage’s parenting plan- who does that to their kids? Who forces them to kill each other for centuries just to feel better about themselves- and had already decided that he was going to love Madara, who was very much worth it- Tobirama wanted that passion and devotion to be his, craved being the focus of dark eyes and having the Uchiha’s warmth turned to him- all he needed to do was find and catch the man. He flew over the fence in a easy vault- he had spent enough time running around in charge of security in fucked up places to be almost what he once was even if he missed chakra- and hit the concrete at a dead run, racing after the tail of dark hair only just whipping around the corner ahead of him; Madara was headed to the train and though he probably had no idea Tobirama was after him he was still moving fuck all fast. Tobirama was faster.)

Madara turned the last corner trying to blank out the roar in his mind “I’ll find you Uchiha” only to let out a shocked breath when he was hit hard in the side the the wight of a full grown man and thrown into a garden nook between two buildings, pinned to the steel and granite by pale hands, Susanoo panting at his feet. “Fucking finally, I’ve been looking for you for years Uchiha” said Tobirama Senju and Madara felt his breath vanish “You- you know” Tobirama pursed his lips “You do remember then, how much?” he asked. Madara floundered “I – all of it “ he hesitated “except I think there was something about meeting – were you there when the Sage…” Tobirama’s jaw went tight “Cursed you? Yeah, old fucker. I told you I’d find you, I’m sorry it took so long” his words were soft and gentle at the end and Madara shivered “I didn’t know you were looking” he whispered back, the memories coming clearer now (“I know it’s not perfect but a police force should allow your clan to stay together in a way brother can’t argue with” “Do what you need to do” “I know you hate me, I’m not asking you not to”) lines through moments of his other life unraveling and showing the times the albino had stood up for his clan even with his weariness, had pushed against Hashirama’s overbearing nature to get Madara room to breathe even when he didn't trust the Uchiha in the slightest, had stepped between Madara and the Sage himself.

Tobirama shifted back a bit and Madara bit back a whimper at the loss but all he did was take one hand off the wall and hold it out to Madara, the hand with the red chains “Take of your glove and take my hand Madara” he said softly and Madara – Madara hesitated for a long moment, blew out a shuddering breath and did as he was told. Instantly the red chains, the red soul-chains sprung to life and wrapped around their clasped hands, twisting under Madara’s skin and tethering him, settling him and holding him up, a sweet relief from a life with no support. The soul-chains rattled and shifted and Tobirama tugged his hand away, Madara did whimper then terrified that the soul-chains would leave but – they stayed, sunk beneath Madara’s skin the way all soul-chains were except for the brilliant red of them and between their barely parted palms the soul-chains twisted together the way he had seen between soulmates a thousand times before. “You’re my soulmate?” he whispered shocked, Tobirama’s lips quirked in a small smile though his eyes never stopped roving over Madara “I chose you Madara, I stood in the center of the wheel of souls and chose you and you alone. I would take no other, not when my self was promised to you” Madara shuddered collapsing over the weight of that promise, it was better than soulmates he thought better because Tobirama had chosen him as he was at his worst and made good on a promise he never had to keep.

The younger man stepped closer, wrapping an arm around Madara’s waist when he sagged “Come on, I’m going home with you” he said his voice a rich purr and Madara let him. Let Susanoo lead the way to the train with Tobirama’s arm around his waist, let himself lean into the slimmer man and rest as the train swayed under the city, let himself trust that someone would take care of him, would get him home and have his back and support him and not let him fall; Tobirama, he knew, had never once turned his attention to anything he didn’t intend to finish or made a choice he didn’t follow through. If he said he was with Madara he was, and Madara could trust that at the very least. The way home passed in shifting daze, Susanoo leading them and Tobirama’s strong arm around his waist holding him up and close until he was fumbling for his keys and stumbling into the shit apartment he hated; Tobirama hummed and walked him to the bed settling Madara there and as he pulled back Madara went stiff with fear “Trust me” Tobirama said and even as he pulled away the soul-chains remained, even as he walked across the apartment- past most chain connection radius- the soul-chains remained connected, sunck deep under both of their skins and tethering them together. “They are as much a part of you now as they are of me, the Shikigami forged these and they will hold true” Madara relaxed, “You always did have to know more than the rest of us” he huffed, Tobirama snorted from the kitchen, filling a glass with water and digging out a box of dry crackers from Madara’s merger pantry. “Not my fault I was always the smartest one in the room” he muttered a little sullenly and Madara laughed for the first time in a long time (several lifetimes).

The rest of the afternoon was that, Tobirama flopping next to him and coaxing Madara into loosening up enough to slowly wrap around Tobirama like an strangling octopus- the albino looked smug as shit with his placement, Madara found he didn’t mind- and tapping away in his phone to make excuses with his brother- which one Madara didn’t ask- and order food letting Madara settle. He had a soulmate, after thinking he had no one for his entire life he had a soulmate; one that had chosen him, one that had tried to have his back in the other life even when there was hate and death and grief between them; he had a soulmate, someone who would never leave him, someone who would love him, who could love him, who broke a gods curse with sheer bullheaded determination just as he had broken time and space to make jutsu. He had not only a soulmate, but he had Tobirama as his soulmate, the only person Madara could honestly say had ever really matched him, not in power maybe- though that was close- but in sheer personality; Madara had loved Hashirama and found him a great friend but he had never been able to spend much time around the effusive man, Hashirama was just…so much. So loud and bright and headache inducing, but Tobirama – Tobirama never flinched from his temper or bowed to his rage, never let him get away with anything as infuriating as that was, never thought him stupid for his emotions or flailing, never backed down, never walked away, never turned away when Madara wasn’t what he wanted and that, that was what Madara craved. Not any soulmate, this soulmate, he one he had right here, the one he knew he would love in the world where blood had not filled a sea between them neither would touch; this time Madara could have this and if he never had anything else it was enough.

Tobirama stirred after a while “Food’s here” and moved to get up, Madara bit his lip but didn’t stop him, letting the younger man slip on Madara’s house slippers and grab his key, pat Susanoo on his way to the door and step out, the soul-chain still bright and strong between them. And it stayed that way far longer than Madara had expected, binding them together until Tobirama must have almost been at the front door before it pulled apart and curled warmly under his skin, still with him, still marking him as someone with a soulmate, still part of him even without Tobirama; proof that the bond was not one-way and was as much a part of Madara as it was Tobirama, made of both of them for all that the albino had carried Madara’s part for him until he could give it back. Madara blew out a relived breath and collapsed backwards onto the bed, he could have this, and he would do almost anything to keep it.

The soul-chain reached out and connected again after a few minutes as Tobirama made his way back up the stairs and Madara watched it shift until the younger man shoved the door open and kicked off the slippers, dropping one of the bags on the table by the door as he locked it and then bringing it back to drop down next to Madara and shoving food at him “Eat Madara, I hope you still like this” Madara gaped, it was udon, an old favorite from the other life, one he had hadn’t had in years and had no idea Tobirama knew he had a preference for “How…” he asked. Tobirama hummed “I had a whole lifetime till now to go over old memories, I knew once I found you I saw keeping you so it seemed good to know as much as I could in light of that” Madara shuddered and stared fiercely at his food to hide his prickling eyes. Tobirama it turned out had no intention of going anywhere and when the food was done and Susanoo fed he flopped down next to Madara, rolling easily with it when the older man tugged him closer and closer still until the albino was happily sprawled over Madara’s chest; he shifted comfortably and perched his sharp chin on folded hands to protect Madara’ sternum “So” he said “I thought you should know, the bargain I made, this” he wiggled his finger and the soul-chain shifted with a soft clink “it counts for any life, any turn around the wheel. Where your soul goes so does this, you will never live a life where I am not out there looking for you” something playful shifted in red eyes “though in the future if you could help a little I would appreciate it” before they went dark again “I don’t know if the curse will restart with every life but probably it will until I find you.”

Madara shuddered “I will never be reborn with my brothers? Ever?” he was almost pleading, to live over and over and over again and never have them back in his life… Tobirama touched his cheek drawing back his attention “I don’t know, but that doesn’t mean you have lost them Madara” his eyes glittered “the Sage missed something you see, I didn’t bargain your capacity to love- that has always been far to great for him to remove- I bargained your ability to know love, which is different. Madara, Izuna set an extra seat at the dinner table everyday until he was eight, with the curse broken there is no reason they cannot know they love you again” Madara swallowed he could believe this not “The Sage said ‘shall not love’ ‘shall never love’ ‘shall never be loved’-“ Tobirama snorted “And that’s bullshit, you love your brothers, I know you do, he can’t change that and the wording is ambiguous anyway. More than anything, Madara it’s broken” he held up his hand “whatever the Sage said isn’t true anymore in this life and I’ll break it in the next one too” he shifted up and looked Madara dead in the eyes “trust me” and Madara nodded. (Trust he found was like cool waters after standing near a burial pier, like the weight of someone dear after a life with nothing grounding, like the promise of a firm back against his on the battlefield, it was breathing again and water washing away ash.)

Chapter Text

Morning was bright and sharp and strange with Tobirama grumbling where he was still spread across Madara’s chest and pinning the older man down “To’ra, Tobirama, hey, I need to let the dog out, let me up” Madara pushed and poked until Tobirama let him up and admired the red soul-chains as he took Susanoo down and out and the dog pissed on the corner of the building, watched them fascinated as he walked back up and they suddenly writhed into movement and connected him to Tobirama bringing with it the faint sense of the other person that he had heard came with strong bonds- why was he not surprised their bond was strong? It was Tobirama after all, all that fucking conviction. Tobirama was grumpy in the way night people always are to wake up but there was a deep thrum of satisfaction underneath it that warmed Madara to the core, that was for him, that was Madara that was making him feel like that, like he had won a war. Madara paused at the door until Susanoo shoved at his legs impatiently and opened it up to the albino filling the dog dish and yawning in one of Madara’s shirts though he still had on his own pants; “Morning” the older man said softly and Tobirama grumbled wandering over and slumping onto Madara like a tired cat, forcing the other man to brace as he took the albino’s weight- less than Madara would like even as it felt amazing to be trusted with this, to be trusted to be stable enough to carry someone he cared about was a gift- “Oof, come on pretty eyes, inside and then you can go back to sleep” Madara said as he steered them back into the room, Susanoo giving a happy woof and jumping on the bed after them to dance around them until Tobirama was willing to open is eyes all the way.

Madara put down his phone and looked at the younger man still draped over him “What now?” he asked quietly. Tobirama shrugged “What do you want? We can stay here or move to my place or get a new place or rotate- no Madara you’re staying where I can keep you close fore a while-“ he really didn’t mind “if you like your job you keep doing it, if you don’t you come help me drive special forces insane by running Mito’s dubiously legal search and rescue department with me and jumping into war zones after people- I made sure it would be easy for you to join me if you wanted- , you don’t have to decide now. In the meantime I keep my ears open around your family and when the curse weakens and you’re ready we bring you over.” Madara reeled from the information and possibilities- and from the way Tobirama had clearly thought about this, had left space in his life specifically for Madara- but latched on the last, his brothers “How do you know they’ll remember?  Most people don’t” he asked, Tobirama smirked “Most people don’t have souls as strong as our blood lines do, charka is souls after all, and the Sage insured it with his curse. He rigged the system, broke the cycle and therefore left a hole, a hole in which fragments of past lives can seep through; he wanted you to remember to hurt you and that meant I could remember because I am tied to you, but your brothers are tied to  you as well and your absence from their lives was not natural- another hole that memory can slip though. I’m not positive they will but I would bet on it.” Madara couldn’t breath and Tobirama must have seen that because he shifted until Madara could tuck his face into the pale neck and shiver, not crying but wanting to, “Why does hope hurt?” he asked in a small voice. Tobirama’s hands tightened “Because it is a flighty thing and keeping it close mean braving the talons” he murmured back.

(Hashirama would never say that his brother was an open man, always far eyed and keeping a watch on the world Hashirama didn’t understand; some times as they grew up he felt a though they were at war with the way his clever younger brother looked at the world and waited like a leopard about to pounce- sometimes Hashirama dreamed of his brother playing with snow leopards, dreamed of seeing his brother grow cold and stern and blood covered, sometimes Hashirama felt like they were at war- but now it was like his brother wasn’t even bothering. He came to work in his lab on the security gadgets and rescue equipment his team needed- Hashirama refused to think there was guns in there, lalalalalalala- or to run training from the hub but he stayed in city for longer than a week for the first time in years and vanished every night into the city with a little smirk; if it weren’t wildly out of character Hashirama would have thought he had a lover. As it was Hashirama could hardly bring himself to worry about his brother no matter how much he wanted to because he couldn’t sleep; both he and to his worry Mito were having dream, vivid painful dreams of a world that over lapped and though hers weren’t as strong as often or as powerful she dreamt the same things he did- Tobirama wreathed in water fighting Izuna  and Hashirama facing a man he had never seen before, a man that was Izuna’s brother and yet not- and the sixth day Hashirama woke up with a sob on his lips and fumbled desperately for the phone to call his brothers, to make sure Itama and Kawarama were ok. And they were after a fashion, but they had been unnerved and stressed by faint dreams; though much, much less powerful than Hashirama’s or even Mito’s they none the less echoed them, dreams of a world where Senju was a clan not a family. It was terrifying and when he asked Tobirama his brother examined him for a long time before asking if he believed in reincarnation and vanishing before Hashirama could find an answer.)

Madara looked at his bright eyed soulmate and hesitated, it had only been a week and a half and though Tobirama spent every night with Madara in his apartment and lounged at the tattoo parlor when there was no one else there Madara still felt off balance, unaccustomed to the steady strength at his side it was hard not to think of the world as a place he had to face alone. “’dara, you know I’ll be with you all the way, if you want to leave we leave, if you want to leave the country we leave the country, but if you don’t try you will never forgive yourself and if Hashi is remembering- if Mito is remembering- Izuna at least will be” Madara shivered and looked away; cool hands framed his face tugged him around to where Tobirama had kneeled in front of him “I am with you Madara, always” he sighed and leaned forward to press their foreheads together. “Ok” he whispered “ok, Izuna I can do” Tobirama leaned up fast as lightning and bussed a kiss over Madara’s lips sending the older man reeling back in shock even as he pulled out his cell phone and dialed “Touka? Do you mind if I come over for dinner with you two? I have someone to introduce you too – yes – alright then – see you at six” “Tonight?!” Madara yelped; Tobirama grinned at him, “Tonight, before you can change your mind” the older man whimpered and just for that he didn’t tell Tobirama the other things he had been thinking, thinking that the job Tobirama had prepared for him sounded fascinating, that Tobirama’s apartment was probably a lot more comfortable for two grown men and a dog than Madara’s, thinking that maybe - maybe he wanted to try something new now that he had someone to watch his back.

Madara took it back. He was wrong, he was so fucking wrong, there was no way he was ready for this, what if—“-he looks at me and his eyes slide right over me again and-“ “’dara, ‘dara, there, calm down dear heart, there, ok. Listen, things were different then, that was years ago things have changed, and even if they haven’t you will never forgive yourself if you don’t try” Madara slumped pressing closer into his soulmate and breathing in the faint scent of the mint shampoo Tobirama used as well as a hint of Madara’s clove cologne in an odd almost clashing scent. “Alright, ok” he whispered and looked at the door to the fancy looking townhouse tucked away in a tree covered street most of the Senju and Uchiha lived on, “ok” he said and took a deep breath as he stepped back, following Tobirama up to the ugly door knocker. Tobirama pressed a fast kiss to Madara’s lips, nothing more than a brush of skin, as he had started doing recently and turned to the door before Madara could do more than freeze in shock and flush; the door knocker was fucking loud and there was loud voices (Izuna yelling “Senju monsters!” overlapping with “Senju wentch!” in his ears) and then the door was thrown open by Touka and Tobirama was stepping closer to her; but he didn’t hug her and he didn’t release Madara as he maneuvered them in the house without letting her get a good look at Madara (it was always, always amazing to have someone do this for him, someone standing by him). The was a sound and Izuna popped into the hall “Tobi! Touka said you have” Tobirama shifted with a squeeze of Madara’s hand “some…one…to.          Madara?”

Chapter Text

(Izuna had lived all his life with the sense that he had lost something important, it had been so bad as a child they had all believed he had an invisible friend with how often he turned to talk to someone who wasn’t there; his siblings had it a little- Kuro more than the others- but  it was Izuna who was tortured by it. Hounded by dreams of blood and agony and a man he could never quite see holding him and teaching him and picking him up; waking up somedays was agony with the pain of missing them and other days it was like nothing was wrong at all and Izuna never knew. And it got better for a few years, he learned not to talk to people that weren’t there and how many places to set at the table and he met Touka who filled his world with all the sharp edges he craved and for a while it was fine until it wasn’t. The dreams came back, the sense that he could turn and talk to someone, the feeling that he had seen someone he knew out of the corner of his eyes- Kuro felt it too, and Toga a bit- and then, a week ago he dreamed his brother was sitting at his low desk, a pinched look in his eyes as he read over reports and Izuna knew he was thinking of peace with eh Senju again “You can’t do it brother, they will never accept it” Madara set down the paper shoving his hair over his shoulder and looking at Izuna with tired eyes “We won’t have a choice if we don’t get more food, starvation will kill us as fast as anything Izuna” and Izuna’s jaw was tight and hard when he replied “I will never advocate for peace with the Senju” and something in his brother’s face broke as real and bright as anything and he sobbed in Touka’s arms for this brother- best and dearest of all- that he had helped break and that he didn’t even know if had ever existed.

Tobirama was a distraction, even if in his dreams they were always trying to kill each other here he knew that the other man barely cared was Izuna did as long as he didn’t hurt his family; Tobirama’s eyes were always focused out, looking for something with a look in his eye that Izuna almost recognized. And when the Senju stepped in the house Izuna went to go say hello- he did to have manners Kuro- and then, and then he moved out of the way and Izuna saw the man he had brought with him and everything shattered. “some…one…to.” Broad shoulders and that wild mane of dark thigh length hair, dark deep eyes watching him warily “Madara?” Izuna whispered, breaking at the seams at the sight of the brother he had destroyed with his hate.)

Tobirama’s fingers tight in his and the soothing hum of the soul-chains felt like the only thing holding Madara down as he looked at his little brother’s face when Izuna shattered “Hello Izuna” he said, at a loss for what else to do; Izuna whimpered, swaying on his feet “brother?” he asked and Madara didn’t know what– Tobirama stepped forward and out of the way, letting go of Madara’s hand and sliding his long fingers up Madara’s arm and shoulder as he urged the older man farther into the house, “I think he needs a hug dear heart” the albino murmured, Madara shot him a glance then looked at his brother, shocked to see tears on his cheeks. It was enough, Madara stepped forward and raised his arms and Izuna threw himself down the hall into his brother’s arms, sobbing deep out of his chest as they sank to the floor together. Madara was shaking, feeling like he was going to fly apart at the seams, how was he supposed to– hands on his shouldered and warmth as someone settled behind him, Tobirama sliding into place at his back and holding him up with a hands on Madara’s hips and a chest pressed to his back; Madara firmed, steadied, held his brother a little easier, glad when he felt the movement of Touka dropping down at Izuna’s back as well. Gods but they were lucky to have such people behind them. It was then, with his brother sobbing into his chest and his soulmate at his back on the floor of an entry hall that Madara found he could cry, shoulders shaking and water slipping silently down his cheeks; the tears of a hundred years of hate twisted grief and almost twenty seven of crippelinging loneliness shuddering through him in a moon wrought tide that carried him into deep sorrow.

(Touka looked over her sobbing husband who she had never seen so distraught, had never thought too see so, wrapped around a man she thought she should know that he called brother, it took long moments before the worst storm of emotion was passed and she and met her cousin’s eyes “Tobira” she said darkly and he flashed her a predator’s smile, touch him, it said, touch him and I will rend you limb from limb. She raised an eyebrow but nodded all the same- she knew Tobirama could make good on the promise if he really wanted to, there had always been something a little more animal about him than the rest of them- and his smile gentled “It’s a long story” he murmured back to her “Help me get them into the living room? I didn’t realize Izuna would recognize him quite this fast” Touka frowned but did as he asked, coxing her soulmate to let go of his brother(?) and into her arms so she could lead into the couch though he twisted to see his brother even as he walked. Touka glanced over her shoulder only to stutter in her steps; Tobirama was leaning over the other man with a look that could only be called consuming as he stroked back the dark fringe, the man turned into his hand and his eyes were worshipful on her cousin. Touka had never seen the like and it made her shiver, caught between the loveliness of their affection and a cold chill down her spine at the overwhelming connection, people did mad things for emotion like that.)

Madara turned into Tobirama’s hand with a shiver “I told you he would know you,” he said and Madara snorted weakly, Tobirama coaxed him into looking at his soulmate and smiled “and I told you he wouldn’t be angry” Madara shuddered, “He might be later” he pointed out thinly and Tobirama hummed “Maybe, but that will pass, his first reaction when he saw you was to hug you, that means something ‘dara. Come on, he looks pathetic, let’s get you some place more comfortable to have this conversation” Madara nodded and allowed himself to be helped to his feet and follow his brother into the sitting room. Tobirama led him to the couch and dropped into it, sitting sideways against the arm and tucking one leg up so that he could pull Madara down right after him where he could lean on his soulmate; Madara pressed backward into the albino with a sigh as Tobirama tucked their chained hands against Madara’s stomach under the fall of his hair over his shoulder, opening his eyes to Izuna looking at him with a strange expression between shock and hope and – well Madara had no idea what Izuna was feeling but he cleared his throat anyway “You going to sit?” he asked roughly and Izuna jumped, flushing a little and hesitating clearly wanting to sit with Madara but uncertain of his welcome. Madara sighed and held out his unoccupied hand, waving it at the couch; Izuna darted forward and threw himself at Madara again in a tight hug while Touka slid in behind him like Tobirama was with Madara.

How?” Izuna whispered and Madara sighed, “It’s a really fucking long story, how much do you remember of the other life?” Izuna shrugged a little, his dark head shifting on Madara’s shoulder as Touka smoothed a hand down his spine “I didn’t know it was another life until things got weird last week, but… I’ve had this sense my whole life that something was missing” Izuna’s voice hitched and Madara tightened his hold, this sucked and they hadn’t even gotten to the hard stuff yet “and there were dreams and things I would do without thinking- setting the table with an extra spot, turning to – to say something to you and –“ he was shaking now, crying again with the force of the emotion. Touka gathered him up in her strong arms, pressing his side into Madara but all but pulling him into her arms otherwise and Tobirama brushed the hair away from Madara’s neck to murmur in his ear “If you get overwhelmed tell me, we can leave or go into the guest room and get you space if you need it. Izuna isn’t going anywhere and neither are you” Madara swallowed, squeezing the long fingered hand “Thanks, I – I might, this is….a lot” the albino hummed understandingly and shifted to look at Touka with his chin on Madara’s shoulder “Long and complicated story that will need to be talked about properly later very short reincarnation is a thing and our past life sucked, do you remember anything of the waring clans era” Touka’s eyes went wide and she nodded, Tobirama continued “so that actually happened elsewhere in the wheel and things went bad, cataclysmically bad, in the prosses Madara did some bad shit after he was basically driven mad and the, um, god? the Sage was a fucking jackass- and was a big part of why the clans were even fighting- and decided to take his hissy fit out on Madara and basically curse him to never be loved in any reincarnation” Touka went rigid, stiff with fury as Izuna went still in her arms and Madara turned farther into his soulmate (you shall-) “I wasn’t having any of that shit and the Shikigami agreed with me about the Sage’s BS so I got in the middle and made a bargain. It’s a little complicated but I basically promised to find him in every life and that when I did and if I wanted him the curse would break for that life” Touka frowned and then her mouth dropped open in a shocked O “Your soul-chain, it’s never been normal” she whispered. Madara tugged their clasped hands out where she could see but shut his eyes so he didn’t have to know what they thought of him and his- literally- chaining Tobirama down.

Teeth on his neck jolted him out of his darkening thoughts and he hissed a little as he twisted to look at Tobirama who raised an unimpressed eyebrow at him “None of that, I’m quite happy with where I ended up. Next time just make it a little easier to find you please” Madara frowned, about to launch into another round of their familiar and grounding squabble about his being hard to find when Izuna spoke “This is going to happen again? Next life I’m going to forget him until you can find him and break the curse” and all the fight drained out of Madara as he responded “We don’t know but, yeah, probably” Izuna made a choked sound and Madara made space again for his little brother to tuck close. It was, as he had told Tobirama, a lot with Izuna clinging to him and Touka rubbing her hand down his arm on the other side of the cuddle pile, more affection and closeness in this moment and the last week than in the rest of his life combined (and a large chunk of the last); a lot but in the best way and he fought to keep the anxious buzzing in his skin under control, leaning more and more heavily on the hum of Tobirama’s ever moving mind across the soul-chains to stabilize himself; he didn’t want to move but after a while it was just too much. Tobirama hummed against his throat and lifted his head to speak to his cousin “Touka, we should eat before the food gets cold. Madara and I can stay the night as long as you don’t mind if we bring the dog in from the car” Touka nodded and started standing up, shooting Madara an evaluating look and tugging a reluctant Izuna up after her and murmuring in his ear before turning to them “Izuna will get the dog, I’ll check food and we can eat in here once it’s ready” Tobirama nodded and Madara smirked after his reluctant little brother “Her name is Susanoo” he called and Izuna yelped “Of all the fucking thing to name a dog you chose a giant skeleton?!” he yelled even as he opened the door.

Alone Madara turned and yanked Tobirama down on top of him, relaxing under the familiar weight even on his little brother’s couch in a house he had never seen before “You ok?” Tobirama asked and Madara shrugged a little. The albino hummed thoughtfully but didn’t push, letting Madara be until the door opened again and excited dog nails skittered across the floor; Tobirama reached out to pet her as she streaked into the room and Madara grunted when she leapt on top of them instead, trying to shoo the dog off with little luck as Tobirama went as limp as a cat and just as hard to move “Fuckin’ dog, get off, To’ra you are not helping – no that was not an invitation to make it worse damnit!”

(Izuna shivered standing in the door looking at his older- dearest- brother flail under to combined weight of a full grown albino and his excited fluffy dog jumping on Tobirama’s back; he shuddered as Madara swore at Tobirama and tried to swat the dog because no matter how happy the scene he couldn’t unsee the look on his brother’s face when Izuna had said his name, the look that said that Madara had never really expected Izuna to recognize him. He had been so uncertain to touch Izuna, leaned into Tobirama’s hand like it was the only thing holding him up, watched the world with the tired wary eyes of the beaten, somewhere along the line life had broken Madara and Izuna didn’t even know which life it had been (untrue, an entire lifetime alone was too much for one person, Izuna owed Tobirama for being willing to go so far for his brother). Madara snarled and wrapped his arm around Tobirama’s shoulders, cupping the white head in one broad hand, and rolled them off of the couch in a worryingly martial movement knocking the dog off and making Tobirama give a rumbling laugh as he was tucked under the broader man when they hit the floor; in the next second Tobirama twisted and threw Madara under him until they were wrestling on the floor in front of the couch with the dog panning happy as it watched. Izuna covered his mouth, torn; he was so happy to see his brother relaxed and fucking off in the way he had less and less the longer the war ran on but at the same time….he knew Tobirama knew how to fight and was damn good at it and Madara was keeping up- honestly would probably be able to win if Izuna was seeing it right- keeping up in the way that only extensive experience would let him and it broke Izuna’s heart to know that the brother that had always wanted peace had ended up at was again anyway.

Madara grinned sharply as he pinned Tobirama, settling over his hips and pinning his arms next to his head- not the best hold Izuna’s last life told him- as the albino went loose, relaxed and calm under the man who once would have been nothing more than an enemy; Tobirama smiled a little with a sharp edge tucked in the corners of his lips and Madara softened as well, murmuring something Izuna couldn’t hear and flexing the red chained hand. Tobirama laughed just at the edge of hearing and then lunged up, bussing a kiss over Madara’s lips and sending the other man reeling back in shock releasing Tobirama’s arms and letting the albino wrap him in a tight swift hug before eeling out from under Madara and darting out of reach to pet the dog. Izuna felt unsteady and frightened, the memories had ached when he thought them the fragments of some bad dream but now… Madara stretched shoved his sleeves up his arms revealing swirling tattoos covering his arms in shades of red and blue; a water dragon and the left and fire on the right? how fitting… Izuna froze, he didn’t know why this hadn’t occurred to him before but, how much did Madara remember and when did he remember? Clearly he knew everything or almost everything about the last life, but those tattoos weren’t new so when did he remember it? Was he an adult and saw them in a magazine? Had he met Tobirama and remembered- Tobirama he felt sure had always know-? Or, please god no, or had he known since before then, had he grown up knowing that he should have had brothers and they weren’t there? Had he had a family? Except ‘curse him to never be loved in any reincarnation’ so no, until Tobirama had found him there would have been no love in Madara’s life at all; nothing but the memories Izuna was increasingly sure he must have had since he was a child.

Izuna spun and dashed into the bathroom on the ground floor, collapsing in front of the toilet and retching as the idea hit him; had Madara- who had grown up alone and unloved with horrifying memories- come here and seen Izuna? Had- no, wait, Izuna remembered now, his to good memory- Sharingan leftover maybe- pulling up the image of Madara in battered clothing looking worn and like he had just stepped off the battlefield in a park as he walked with Touka, he remembered seeing his brother- his brother- and his eyes sliding right over him, remembered later being bother by the sense that he had missed something he should have known. “Izuna?” Touka asked gently behind him and Izuna spat, flushing the toilet before he tried to speak “I think Madara had always remembered” he whispered and Touka sucked in a tight breath “I think- I know that we saw him in the park and I didn’t even recognize him. I think it happened other times, there’s no way Madara didn’t keep an eye on us and – Touka, what would it feel like to see us happy and together and all alive and without him”)

Madara sighed, ruffling Susanoo’s fluffy ears and listening to Tobirama set the couch to rights; “It’s going better than I expected” he admitted without turning to look at the Senju, Tobirama hummed a little and after a moment Madara continued “I think – I think maybe he wont even be as mad as I thought about everything else” “What is he supposed to be angry about?” asked Tobirama calmly “The fact that you were forced into making peace when his last words were to never do that? The fact that you took his eyes as he told you too? The fact the you missed him so much that you tried to destroy the world to get him back even as an imperfect memory?” Madara went stiff, the last words striking like a blow. Tobirama sighed and slipped up around him, eeling into Madara’s arms and hooking their fingers together with a soft clink of insubstantial soul-chains “You know I didn’t mean it like that Madara. If I can forgive you for that than anyone else can, there was little affection between us ever-“ “You tried to make things better, you were always trying to keep Hashirama off me and help the clan” Madara interrupted “-you maybe not have believed it but I did like your clan even if your emotion worried me. As for helping you, Madara I never blamed you for hating me after I killed your brother, I was only grudgingly fond of you for most of the time anyway, but you made sense to me and I understood you, far better than Hashi. I didn’t have to like you to want you to be better treated.” Madara disagreed with that but held his tongue “And I gave everything I was to the damn village, trust me, if I can forgive you for trying to wipe it off the earth no one else that might remember can hold it against you.”

Madara shivered, pressing closer and tucking his head tighter to the pale neck; he wanted to believe Tobirama but… “Obito” he whispered and Tobirama gave him a little shake “I doubt he will remember, my guess is that it is our sibling and us alone- Touka counts as a sibling, as does Mito I guess- that will remember and only you, me, Izuna, and maybe Hashirama that will remember enough to understand. The hole in the wheel that the Sage made it’s that big, Itama and Kawa only get flashes, enough that they will believe us when things are explained but nothing more than strange dreams, I think Touka and Mito are much the same.” He drew back, tugging on Madara’s hair until the older man met his eyes “Madara, the past is the past for them, let it stay that way.” He sighed, drooping forward into the strong shoulder again and nodding tiredly; it wasn’t going to be easy, not when for him the other life wasn’t really the past, but Tobirama remembered every bit as clearly as Madara did and that meant, that meant Madara wasn’t alone for the first time in any of the lives he remembered. “Ok, ok, fuck this is hard.”

Chapter Text

Dinner straddled the strange line between awkwardness and too much emotion; neither Madara nor Izuna knew what to say to each other and Touka was to busy keeping and eagle eye on how they were interacting to help much, the only person that seemed unbothered was Tobirama. In his usual willingness to discard normal social rules he was ignoring the tense uncertainty and playing with Madara’s fingers where their hands sat together on the table as he snuck treats to a happy Susanoo, and when he got up to take his dishes into the kitchen he brushed his hand over Madara’s shoulders as he passed but left him alone to squirm under Touka’s wide eyes when she took in the way their soul-chain was still connected even with him moving around at the far end of another room; the Senju- had she taken Izuna’s name? Madara realized abruptly that he didn’t know- opened her mouth to ask just as Tobirama came back in the room and he sent his cousin a sharp look “Madara and I are going to bed. Neither of use has to be anywhere tomorrow so you can ask your questions then- Izuna stop pouting, you do not get to sleep with us- but Madara doesn’t have to answer anything he doesn’t want to and he gets to choose how you tell the rest of your siblings and in what order” Izuna subsided pouting but let Tobirama tug Madara up by way of pulling on the soul-chain he seemed able to make somewhat physical when he wanted Madara’s attention (Touka’s eyes went huge, she had heard of bonds strong enough for that but never seen one, even Hashirama and Mito’s wasn’t this strong) and lead the other man out of the room with a whistle for the dog to join them in the guest room,

Madara looked around, it was every bit as nice as the rest of the house, an odd mix of old world heavy woods and light colored paints that mixed to give the impression of strange hybrid style of old-fashioned crispness; Madara liked it even if it through him a bit not being what he would have expected from his brother at all, even taking Touka’s preferences into account it was clear that “Izuna is different isn’t he?” he asked Tobirama where the younger man was digging in the bag Izuna must have brought in with the dog curled in the corner. Tobirama set down the sleep clothes he had pulled out and looked Madara in the eye “Yes. He was raised differently this time, with a living family and no war to fight he will never be who he was there” Madara blew out a sad laugh and rubbed at his face “I’m glad he’s not, I want him to be happy and he is so clearly happier there but I don’t…” he trailed and Tobirama nodded “It’s different for us Madara, we grew up knowing everything we knew as children, we know about the wars and what it was to be child soldier and that has shaped how we have lived. We will always be a little closer to how we were there with those memories, it shapes us” Madara frowned and sat on the edge of the bed, “You think we will always be shinobi?” he asked. Tobirama smiled a smile that turned wry at the edges “Can you imagine being a pencil pusher? An architect? A banker? I don’t think we’ll ever outrun some of what we were, not really, we’ll always need something to fight against to not get bored” Madara’s jaw went tight, this wasn’t what peace was supposed to be. Tobirama must have seen it  because he continued “That doesn’t mean you have to carry a gun in every life Madara, being a doctor is plenty of adrenalin and you fight against death every day; it can be better than it was this time, we just have to figure it out”

Those words calmed Madara, though Tobirama would probably be surprised to know it wasn’t the promise of other options as much as it was that the albino called everything ‘we’ like they were and already given team, like there was no doubt that whatever happened they would do it together. And as Madara looked down at the soul-chains he thought maybe that was the point, that whatever happened in this life or any in the wheel they would eventually be a ‘we’ in every world “Hey” Madara said quietly as Tobirama went back to pulling clothes out, tossing Madara’s too him “next time I’ll do my best to find you too” and the lithe figure froze; there was moment where Madara was confused- had he said something wrong?- before Tobirama turned to him with the brightest sweetest smile on his face that Madara had ever seen, he stepped closer to where Madara sat on the edge of the bed and cupped the older mans face in his palms searching Madara’s face for something. Whatever it was he must have found it because his smile glowed even brighter and Madara’s breath caught in his chest when the albino- his soulmate- leaned down and pressed a lingering chaste kiss to Madara’s lips “Thank you” he whispered and pressed his lip to Madara’s forehead as well for a moment before pulling away and vanishing into the bathroom faster than Madara could keep up. Madara sat there on the bed like an idiot for a long moment, reeling from shock (that smile needed to be illegal) and the sudden realization that he would rather like it if the next kiss was somewhat longer please; fuck, when had that happened and how had Madara missed it?

(Tobirama looked at Izuna and Madara talking quietly at the table over their coffee and the remnants of breakfast long over; it was good to see the older man talking to other people, something Tobirama had seen very little of in the days since he had found his Uchiha- Madara might not claim the name anymore but Tobirama was of the opinion he still had it-. It worried Tobirama that Madara seemed to spend so much time alone but for the dog, even the people he worked with in the tattoo shop seemed to have very little interaction with him and Tobirama had a bad feeling that wasn’t something new; he might not have had a chance to sit Madara down and really talk about the other man’s past in this life but from what the albino had gathered from passing comments it hadn’t been easy. No family wasn’t a surprise nor was hearing that he had ended up bounty hunting- war was still written in Madara’s bones even deeper than Tobirama’s- and it was pretty clear that said bounty hunting was all but vigilante work, rather like being a shinobi really; but the details were missing and as far as why Madara had given up career that was lucrative and probably as close to fulfilling as Madara knew Tobirama had only his own suspicions, ugly though they were. “They seem to be doing better this morning” Touka’s voice drew his attention as she walked up to him in the kitchen glancing at the insubstantial soul-chains stretched between them; he hummed a little, it was true, the worst of the tumultuous emotion had passed for now though Tobirama was sure that it would be back “You did a good job settling Izuna down” he told her and she snorted “Right, like you’re one to talk about high strung soulmates” she snarked.

He glanced at her out of the corner of his eyes “Are you going to tell me that he doesn’t have the right to be traumatized by everything?” he knew his voice had dropped into something a little too calm and threatening but felt no need to correct it. Touka swallowed, her eyes on the Uchiha- so clearly brothers like this- when she responded “No, no I can’t. god I can’t image the cruelty to do something like that to a person…” her voice trailed off and Tobirama relaxed, observing her as she searched for the next words “I don’t remember much more than flashes but what Izuna told me about him – Tobi did he remember from the beginning” her dark Senju eyes were serious on his and he nodded tiredly “Fuck” she whispered and Tobirama nodded.)

Madara felt like his heart had been turned inside out and scraped clean of all the festering agony that had followed him though out the long years last time and started him down the road to madness, Izuna’s face when he had heard what had happened in his name… And then he had apologized, had told Madara he was wrong to fight against peace and that he had never regretted anything more than refusing to stand behind his brother the way he should have, had said that Madara was right (a bitter pill given everything that had come after, it was one thing when he was doing what Izuna wanted but if Izuna thought had had been right and then he had tried to destroy it…a tug on his fingers from the soul-chain broke his dark thoughts and he met watchful red eyes with relief). One talk- several hours long or not- couldn’t clear all that stood between them, but it was a start, a good start and Madara was begging to feel like he might have his brother back after all which was far more than he had ever expected. Strong hands settled on his shoulders and he looked up at Tobirama’s warm eyes as Izuna went into the kitchen “What do you want to do now?” Tobirama asked quietly and Madara sighed deeply, catching a long hand and tugging the albino around and into his lap to tuck his face into the pale neck as he spoke “I – I want to move in with you on this stupid street with all our family and see if that job you  made for me- yes I did notice that- suits. I want to see everyone that might remember and get past this part so that we can move on” he whispered. Tobirama turned his head and pressed his lips to Madara’s hairline “As you wish”.

Chapter Text

(Kurohime tapped out a pleased pattern on the steering wheel of her car as she pulled up in front of her little brother’s house; it had been a good day, the dreams hadn’t been as bad last night and she had gotten all of her errands done without glaring at anyone, getting Izuna’s spur of the moment invitation to a family dinner that night had been the cherry on top as far as she was concerned- even worth putting up with Hashirama for since he had been invited as well. She sighed a little, it was strange the way the definition of family changed as time went on and now it seemed to include the Senju family- Itama wasn’t going to be there to her mild relief, she had met him before and he was lovely, but a bit…much for her- which made since considering that Touka was a Senju and had all but been raised as Hashirama’s sister and of course Toga’s new soulmate was Kawarama Senju so they were all tied together at this point, enough so that Izuna felt Tobirama- who she barely knew no matter how much she wanted to take pictures of him- finding his soulmate was worthy of a big dinner. She sighed as she stepped out of the car and dug in the trunk to pull out the wine and bread she had brought to add to dinner- last minuet might have made it hard to get everything ready and bread never went amiss- pleased that Izuna had asked her to come over early, it would be nice to see him before the hordes descended; the house had plenty of room of course but Hashirama had a way of making any space feel small.

 Kurohime frowned a little at the sound of dog nails on the floor when she hit the doorbell and blinked when Touka opened it with an odd look on her face and a vaguely familiar dog at her feet “Where’s Izu?” she asked and Touka’s brow wrinkled before she waved at the living room “In there with Tobi and his soulmate, here give me the wine before you go say hello” Kurohime laughed as she walked down the hall, “But I want to show him the vintage, it’s his favorite!” she called over her shoulder and turned to the room just as Touka darted to her side and wrapped her hands around the wine bottle as it slipped through Kurohime’s suddenly nerveless fingers. She- he then, Mada didn’t care but father wanted sons- was sitting crying in the mud when Mada dropped down next to her/him, he/she was five and big brother was showing him/her how to hold a blade better so she/he wouldn’t cut him/herself, he/she was looking at blood pouring out of his/her stomach as her/his brother screamed. Kurohime swayed, feet unsteady as she looked at the black-haired man sitting next to a clearly nervous Izuna on the couch Tobirama perched on the arm of the sofa next to the man she didn’t?did? know with a hand on the broad shoulder; “I-“ she stated before running out of words, head aching with confusion, Izuna licked his lips and looked between them “This is Madara,” he said “our brother”.)

The sound that slid out of his little sister’s lips could only be called a whimper and Madara felt his heart tear under the strain, Tobirama’s fingers tight and warm sliding up to curl around the back of his neck grounding him when she stepped into the room on unsteady feet “Mada?” Kurohime asked and Madara couldn't decide if he was relived or so fucking sad that she knew him but when he nodded she whimpered again and threw herself forward into his arms, tucking her trembling form into Madara’s chest like she could make herself as small as she was the last time he held her (this was better, so much better, she was alive this time) “It’s been a while little sister” he whispered and she sobbed, disintegrating into tears as Izuna pressed close on her other side and Tobirama’s fingers gently rubbed at the nape of his neck; fuck he was glad they had had her come over an hour earlier than everyone else (Tobirama had thought she might remember the most given that she had died comparatively old) (Hashirama might- would- but Madara knew Tobirama wanted as many people around as he could for the reunion, Madara would have been lying if he said the protectiveness didn’t fill something old and aching with sharp warmth).

It took nearly the whole hour that they had allotted for Kurohime’s tears to dry (for now, every time she or Izuna looked at him their eyes got wet, Madara understood the feeling) and explanations to be offered- luckily she didn’t really need to know more that the bare basics about what had happened in the other life just how it affected this life- and the entire time Tobirama was a firm presence at his side interjecting when things needed clarification or Madara and Izuna couldn’t figure out how to say something but otherwise letting the siblings sort it out together (were they his siblings still? Again?). When Touka poked her head in a few minutes before Togakushi and Kawarama were set to arrive- a little before Hashirama so that Kurohime and Izuna could explain, Toga might not even remember him much at all after all- Tobirama tightened his fingers a little on Madara’s neck and tugged until the older man looked at him “Come on, Izuna has a garden thing out back, the dog can piss while they explain things to the others” Madara forced himself not to sag in relief at the idea of getting out, even if just for a second, he needed to breathe again.

The cool evening air helped, as did Susanoo’s doggy joy at a new place to explore even if it was really just a nicely decorated courtyard sitting area thing and not a garden, “Are you ok? You only just reconnected with Izuna today- well last night I guess- and jumping straight into this-“ Madara cut off Tobirama’s worried words with a hand over his mouth and a sharp look “I am a grown ass man and have been talking care of myself for a long time, I know my limits” he chastised; but his stern tone had no effect because Tobirama simply raised his eyebrows and licked Madara’s hand- the older man didn’t know if he should curse or be weirdly turned on- and caught Madara around the waist as he reeled back, keeping him close “That’s what worries me ‘dara, I’m sure in a fire fight there’s no one I’d rather have at my back but this is a lot, even for me it’s a lot and I’m not the one  dealing with forgetting things! Practically and physically you would be fine I know but this is different, you’ve been on your own a long time” Madara swallowed and looked away as much as he could when they were still so close, he didn’t…Tobirama wasn’t wrong but he just wanted this part to be over, he wanted to be past this on get on to the less stressful things already and if that meant doing it all at once fine, he could do that. Still though….he sagged forward, leaning on Tobirama and tucking his head into the sharp jaw- he seemed to end up there a lot- “It’s not easy” he said “but it has to happen sometime and I just want it over, just, stay?” Tobirama nuzzled into Madara- he was so glad they were all but of a height but that inch or two Tobirama had was quite handy sometimes- and murmured in his ear “Not going anywhere, I’d hate to have to hunt you down again” Madara groaned “You’re never going to let me forget that are you?” he asked petulantly, “Nope,” said the albino cheerfully “you need to be reminded that you matter so much to me that I went and did it, especially with you making it difficult.” “…oh” Madara muttered, at a loss for words (was this a good time to see about a real kiss? Madara would really like a kiss).

There was a loud squeak at the door before Madara could try though and Madara pulled back just in time to see Togakushi barrel into the two of them at high speeds making both older man grunt as they took his weight “Toga-“ started Madara until he was cut off by his littlest brother’s chanting “We found you! We found you! We found you!” (it was only because they were so close that he heard Tobirama’s mutter under his breath “humph, I did all the work” pouting Tobirama was adorable) Madara laughed softly and shifted to fold around his brother leaning into Tobirama at his back as he had every time this had happened. It was…easier with Togakushi than it had been with Izuna or Kurohime; Togakushi had died so young that Madara hadn’t had as much time with him and even then father had thought his oldest son was ready to be helping out with the clan and running missions at seven so the last years Madara had had a lot less time to spend with his youngest brother still in the beginning of his training. Still, it was thrilling to know that his littlest brother was so clearly thrilled to see him, all but vibrating with excitement against Madara and muttering happily under his breath “Found you! Knew something was missing! Best big brother ever! Way better than Izu. Why’d it take you so long!?” Madara couldn’t get his feet under him to really respond to everything his brother said (best big brother?) and fumbled out the first thing he could think of “I saw your concert at the White Wolf hall, you were fantastic and I’m very proud of you” he murmured. Togakushi froze and then shivered and went quiet “really?” he asked Madara’s chest in a small voice and the older man frowned “Of course I am, you do a fantastic job. What’s wrong?” the youngest Uchiha sniffed and shivered “Dad…didn’t think it was worth much, singing I mean” Madara’s jaw went tight; fucking jackass, he knew his father had died a few years ago in this life, young but rather less lamented than he might have been, but it seemed that he had been as problematic a man this time around the wheel as he was the last time.

“Hey” Madara said firmly “don’t let him control you. You’re fantastic at performing and as long as you are getting satisfaction from it who gives a fuck?” Toga was staring at him with huge kitten eyes and Tobirama hummed behind him a little “From what Kawa tells me you bring a lot of joy to people, he said that you get letters from people saying that your music and the friends they made in your fans kept them from killing themselves; if that’s not something to be proud of I don’t know what is” Tobirama said softly and Madara ginned, fiercely pleased with the way Togakushi blushed and looked at his toes, peering at Tobirama under his eyelashes; it was about time that someone notice how fucking brilliant Tobirama was and appreciate his praise. “Thank you Tobirama,” he hesitated “Kawa thinks the world of you, don’t tell Hashirama but you’re his favorite” Tobirama softened against Madara’s back and he reached around to ruffle the Uchiha’s fluffy chin length black hair (Madara might have despaired over the boy band cut but it really did look nice on him). Tobirama pulled his hand back and as he did Togakushi’s eyes jumped the vibrant red soul-chains dripping from the pale hand and followed them to Madara’s “Wha!?! You’re soulmates!!” Madara rolled his eyes “They didn’t tell you?” he asked and Togakushi shook his head vigorously “NO, I mean, I guess in retrospect it’s pretty clear, but I didn’t realize – this is the best! We’re all going to have  so much fun! Oh my goodness Izu is going to have to have so many kids to let us all have enough to dote on” Madara blinked, thrown by his littlest brother’s exuberance (less trauma thank the flame, a young death was good for something maybe) and then even more by the idea – the idea that - “’dara?” Tobirama asked against his ear while Togakushi raced to the door to get his soulmate. “I just realized… we can grow old together. Even if we’re doing dangerous shit it can’t be worse than a gigantic angry nine tailed fox, this time I might get old the right way. I might have nieces and nephews; I can see my brothers get old. I don’t…” he swallowed hard, breath hiccupping “I don’t know how to do this To’ra” the albino turned Madara in his arms with a soft little sound, cupping Madara’s face and wiping the tears away “One day at a time dear heart, let it come in little bites and take it in one sunrise at a time, when you can’t just try to breath and withstand the tide”.

Madara snarled wetly at Tobirama a little, “Why do you always have to be smart damn it, leave some wisdom for the rest of us!” Tobirama, ok, there really wasn’t anything to call it other than a giggle, he giggled and leaned down toward Madara in a move the dark-haired man was learning to recognized; fast as a snake Madara snapped a hand up and tangled it in the white hair right as Tobirama went for one of his brushing light kisses. The older man tangled his fingers in the fluffy hair and pressed against the thin lips firmly, holding the Senju still and letting it linger before pulling away; Tobirama’s eyes were huge when he examined Madara’s face for a moment before leaning back in. Madara rumbled happily when they kissed this time, lingering presses of lips and warmth; still chaste as far as these things went but so good Madara thought he was going to float away with the shivering joy in his chest. When Madara pulled back he took in Tobirama’s shy look (fuck, he pouted and giggled and now he was shy, Madara was going to die) and the quiet delighted pleasure tucked in the corners of his eyes and the relaxed shape of his mouth “Good?” the dark-haired man asked; Tobirama smiled shyly and nodded, tucking his flushed face into Madara’s neck “Very good” he murmured and Madara laughed, warm and free and glad.

(Kawarama stared, Toga leaning into his side to peer at their brothers- and wow, wasn’t that a trip, another Uchiha- as the stood tangled together in the evening air; Kawarama had never seen Tobirama look like this, this relaxed and focused on the present. Tobi had always seemed to be looking for something, eyes always looking into the distance when he wasn’t focused on them- well him and Itama, he had no problem ignoring Hashi. Kawa didn’t know what it was that kept Tobi from really leaning into Hashi the way he did the rest of them but maybe it had to do with this other world? That would make sense, as did the way he was always looking for something really; Izuna said that Tobi had been looking for Madara his entire life, that would do it in Kawarama’s mind. It was really sweet actually, the kind of love story that hurt and should have swelling music as they exchanged a sweet kiss and—oh, wait, that was Toga humming the score to Princess Bride wasn’t it. Kawarama grimaced and elbowed his adorable soulmate “Stop that Toga, we shouldn’t disturb them” he hissed and Toga giggled in his ear, breathless and glowing with joy; it was amazing really, Toga was glowing, Kuro was tearing up every few minutes but she looked so glad that it couldn’t even be bad even if she looked sad too, and Izuna was…. Kawarama didn’t know how to express what Izuna was. Kawarama wasn’t sure anyone would know how to express whatever Izuna was feeling given how fast he was cycling between aching agony and regret and grief and joy and excitement and mania and Kawarama wasn’t a writer, he had no idea how to put it. Toga pressed a kiss under his ear, ruffling Kawarama’s short cedar colored hair “Go get them, Hashirama will be here soon and I’m guessing that will be dramatic” Kawarama grimaced, yeah, he didn’t really want to see that, he loved Hashi dearly but it was going to be so dramatic.)

Chapter Text

Madara watched the door to the living room from where Tobirama had tucked him away in the chair farthest from the door with a view straight to it (still a shinobi) torn between offence at the way Tobirama was clearly getting in between Madara and Hashirama and a strange warmth that the albino was willing to and thought to do so; in the other life he had been powerful that it had never occurred to anyone that he might like protection (a chance to relax…) and here there had never been anyone until Tobirama had barged into his life and set himself firmly at Madara’s back. It was touching enough- and if Madara was being honest he was stressed enough about this- that Madara said nothing about it when the Senju dropped down in Madara’s lap (Madara would have pulled him to sit there anyway probably so that was fine) in such a way as to block sight of his face from the door but let Madara still see; Madara wanted to purr in pleasure at his clever soulmate’s attention to his needs. The others were arranged around the room in varying amounts of stress with Izuna trying his best not to vibrate at the end of the sofa nearest to Madara and Tobirama; he and Touka both knew about the valley of the end, both knew that Hashirama had killed him (sort of) and even if Hashirama really had had a sort of good reason to and if it had worked it would have saved the world a lot of pain that didn’t seem to make any of them feel better, Tobirama especially because he had been there when Izuna only heard about it second hand in a shorter more emotionally balanced way.

Susanoo nudged at his hand and settled when he brushed his hand over her fluffy coat, watchful at his feet as she took in the emotion in the room; for all that she was regularly a spaz and the epitome of doggy silliness there were times when Madara was reminded of how smart her breed was and right now with her tuned into his uncertainty and Tobirama’s tense watchful demeanor she was quiet and still and waiting until Madara asked her to do something (she was a good dog). Even Touka’s voice at the door and Hashirama’s booming hello (fuck, Madara didn’t know if he could do this) didn’t convince the dog to get up and check it out, flapping her tail once in recognition that she wanted to but wasn’t. Just before Hashirama and Touka came to the door Tobirama shifted and caught Madara’s chin “You ok?” he asked on a mere breath of sound and nothing more; Madara shrugged and shut Hashirama out entirely as Mito glided into the room followed by his big fame as they said hello to Toga and Kawa (neither of which would hear of him using the full name, Kurohime had said he didn’t need to with her either but he liked the proof that she was able to be who she wanted in this world) and Izuna shot out of his chair to say hi and vibrate almost but not quite between Madara a and Hashirama.

(Hashirama had been delighted to get the invitation to dinner from Touka, he saw too little of her these days really without Tobirama there to tie them together and the idea of a family meal with all the Uchiha and Senju in the country was exactly what Hashirama wanted, especially since Touka had hinted that Tobirama had brought someone for the first time ever; so maybe Hashirama hadn’t been wrong earlier and it was a new lover keeping him in town however strange that was- Hashirama had always worried about the red soul-chain even though Tobirama seemed to know what it meant, it wasn’t normal and he wanted his brother to  have what he had with Mito. Touka looked odd when she opened the door but Hashirama was frankly far too distracted with meeting this man of Tobirama’s to notice- Mito did- and followed the women into the living room all but vibrating with joy. And then there it was- huh, Izuna was being odd- his baby brother….siting on someone’s lap? For a long second Hashirama’s brain stalled as he tried to reconcile his reserved cat like brother ever sitting on someone’s lap, much less with the level of ease and comfort that spoke of true closeness; then Tobirama shifted, sending Hashirama a glance the older Senju didn’t understand and couldn’t decipher before he twisted his torso out of the way and let Mito and Hashirama look at the man he was with and Hashirama felt the ground go out from under him. “in the back brother? In the back? He was supposed to be your friend

He knew those dark eyes though they didn’t look like Hashirama had seen them in his dreams, tired and hurt tucked away under the deep wariness, he knew the wealth of dark hair and the way it was pulled forward over a broad shoulder so that he didn’t sit on it,  he knew those broad hands though he had never seen them rest soft on another’s hip as they did now,  Hashirama knew this man. Knew him as a child and a man and a god. The Senju swallowed hard, distracted when Tobirama moved in his line of vision and cut off his sight of Madara- fuck, Madara- again with a dark look of his face and Hashirama struggled for his- never fantastic- stability thanking every god in existence when Mito spoke “…I have a feeling I’m missing something and that it has to do with the way it really feels like I should know who you are” she said serenely “Tobirama introduce us again please” Tobirama smiled a smile of teeth and Hashirama was uncomfortably reminded that his little brother had spent a long time as security for the highest prototypes the Konoha Green corporation made and exactly how many times that job had ended up with his little brother beating the shit out of someone, it was a good thing the company lawyers were so good. “This is Madara- I’m sure Hashi remembers him- my soulmate” and he raised their hands where the brilliant scarlet of his brother’s strange soul-chain was dully glowing and wrapped around both of their hands and Hashirama wavered, dropping into the nearest chair “I don’t understand” he whispered, looking at the man that had once been his bestfriendworstenemy where he was tangled up in protective albino and looking at Hashirama like he couldn’t decide if he was going to get hit or he wanted to rip the Senju to shreds. Hashirama didn’t think Tobirama would stop him.)

Madara was shaking, fine shivers that only Tobirama knew about where they were pressed together- well and Susanoo who was rumbling gently against his leg- and seemed to be only making the albino madder though his hand on Madara nape stayed gentle and soothing as it massaged at the tense muscles there. Madara blew out a stressed breath and tightened his arm around the narrow waist turning into Tobirama’s shoulder and taking a deep breath; he didn’t know what to think about Hashirama’s response- or lack thereof- but he…didn’t like having his former friend’s eyes on him they way they were no matter how well he understood that this must have been insanely confusing for his former friend. Tobirama hummed deep in his chest and brushed a kiss over Madara’s temple as Touka set to explaining the entire two life memories thing to Mito and Hashirama- it had been agreed that she was the best one to do that being in the know and also less emotionally compromised then the rest of them- Madara turned into Tobirama’s neck and used the mass of his hair to shadow the lingering kiss he pressed to the skin there truly not giving a fuck about the other people in the room as he tried to get some equilibrium after seeing the man that was the source of so much turmoil in him (love and hate and regret and betrayal and hurt and shame and --) “Easy now dear heart” Tobirama murmured gently petting Madara’s jaw with the soul-chained hand and scratching at the base of his skull where the other was tucked; Madara blew out a shuddering breath and pressed another kiss to the elegant neck “Thank you” he said leaning back and meeting fierce red eyes. Tobirama smiled a faintly at him and shifted back a little so that he was leaning against Madara’s shoulder and the edge of the large wingback chair (seriously, Madara loved it but why did Izuna have a wingback chair big enough to fit two fully grown men?) letting Madara look at a slightly green looking Hashirama and a thoughtful Mito.

Mito pursed her lips, a thoughtful look on her face before she spoke “And in this other life you, Madara, did something regrettable did you?” she asked coolly (Madara could feel Tobirama starting to bristle) and Hashirama finally spoke up “You tried to destroy the five countries, the entire world” he said in an odd voice. Tobirama stiffened and bared his teeth at his brother “Yes, because you had nothing to do with that, not like your inability to listen to other people and take what they say into consideration had anything to do with that. You being remembered as a saint- the way you wanted- certainly had nothing to do with worsening the cracks in the village and your unbelievably bad idea of giving sentient beings away as party gifts to make other people feel better had anything to do with the four shinobi wars or the ten tails-“ “To’ra” murmured Madara and Tobirama’s muscles jumped when the albino was pressed against him but leaned back and spoke in a more restrained voice “Madara fucked up because something else- the equivalent of a minor god no less- helped drive him nuts and while I in no way I have forgotten, I have forgiven; we were all part of the problem Hashirama, he just blew the most shit up” Madara sighed and dropped his head into Tobirama’s shoulder “That might be too generous, I hurt a lot of people and mess up a lot of things” the albino snorted, “Yes” he agreed uncompromisingly “you did. It’s over. It’s over and the only reason that anyone cares is because the Sage is a giant bag of dicks” Hashirama shifted, a conflicted look on his face “Bag of dicks?” he asked quietly. Tobirama sneered “Mmm, raging asshole? He decided to fuck with the wheel of souls- you know about the Indra/Asura shit show, it was more this time- and put a curse on Madara. The Shikigami and I were having none of it, so I made a bargain with the Sage and broke the curse for this life” he held their soul-chained hands up and something in Madara eased at the words, at the way Tobirama was willing to push against his brother and point out Hashirama’s flaws the way neither of them had been allowed to in Konoha.

(Hashirama flexed his fingers, he…didn’t know how to feel about everything. What he remembered of the last life was clearly less than Tobirama and Madara- some of the things that  Tobirama referenced he only had vague understanding of- though both of them seemed to think he knew more details than he did, and he didn’t know how to feel about any it. It was a lot and he knew that if he fucked up his- slightly terrifying- brother would go for his throat with his teeth; Tobirama looked frightening in his defense of his soulmate and Madara…looked like he needed it really. If you had told him in the other life that he would see Madara looking fragile and willing to let someone else stand in front of him and take hits Hashirama would have laughed in your face; of course Madara wasn’t fragile, there was no way he needed or would allow anyone to take care of him or fight his battles for him! except…he wasn’t was he. And maybe this had been part of the problem, maybe Hashirama not seeing Madara as a person but an ideal was part of how everything had gone wrong; or maybe it was just that Madara had needed Tobirama, Hashirama couldn’t imagine being good for very much without Mito in any world and just because this world was the one where soulmates were made clear didn’t mean it wasn’t true in other world did it? Hashirama looked at his brother’s fierce face and the glowing soul-chains  and nodded; he wanted to know more- what had the Sage cursed Madara with? What kind of bargain?- but it was very clear from the look on Tobirama’s face he wasn’t going to answer anything without a fight, so defensive….how had Hashirama gone so wrong?)

Madara watched Mito look between everyone in the room and sighed “Touka, do you need help in the kitchen? I’m assuming Izuna didn’t cook today” (logical, Izuna looked like he was going to explode) “and Hashirama and I are happy to help you” Touka sent Madara a sharp glance and he shrugged, he knew that Hashirama and Mito would want to know more and he didn’t mind if Touka told them; truly most of his worries about reuniting with Hashirama hadn’t been to bad so far and he was more concerned about the way Tobirama increasingly looked like he was going to commit violence and enjoy it. As Touka led the Senju out of the room followed by Kawa Madara turned his attention to a clearly fuming Tobirama and shifted until the slimmer man stood- still staring after his brother with a dark look- and settling his hands on sharp hips, rubbing his thumbs over the soft skin he could just feel at the edge of his waist band; Izuna looked between them and chewed a this lip before taking a deep breath and stepping forward to throw his arms around Madara quickly and murmur in his ear “Go to your room and figure out what’s wrong, we’ll be fine and make sure everyone knows what they need to. You too take care of each other” Madara blew out a relived breath and nodded as Izuna stepped back before turning his attention to Tobirama and coaxing his tense soulmate away and into the guest room they had claimed (clever Susanoo had stayed behind after trotting over to Izuna and started leaning against Madara’s brother, visibly calming him).

“Hey” Madara said quietly when the door was shut behind them tugging Tobirama around to look at him and settling his hands on the albino’s hips again “what’s wrong? you look like you want to kill Hashirama out there” Tobirama’s jaw went tight and hard and he examined Madara silently for a moment before stepping closer and sliding his arms around Madara’s neck as he leaned in for a kiss. Madara was fairly sure that it wasn’t a way to avoid answering so much as Tobirama not being sure how to say what he wanted so the Uchiha had no problem leaning into the kiss and relishing the soft affection, nibbling on one thin lip and taking full advantage of the faint gasp it got him to deepen the kiss and turn it hotter, wetter, pressing closer together and shivering at long fingers tightened in his long hair. It was so much better than Madara had expected, he didn’t need anything more right now, just standing pressed together with his arm looped around the narrow waist and the other smoothing up and down Tobirama’s spine and kissing slowly was the sort of thing he had never thought he would have in any life and it was hard to pull away eventually and even then only far enough to press his forehead to Tobirama’s and just breathe for a moment. “I hate what happened to you” the albino murmured and it took Madara a second to put together what the other man was talking about, he rumbled encouragingly and Tobirama huffed a laugh “I looked for you for twenty years Madara, and I knew the entire time that you must be in pain, knowing you probably wouldn’t know I was looking, knowing that if I never found you I would never forgive myself and so fucking afraid I would never have this” (the soul-chains clinked softly and Madara swallowed hard) “and when I think about the fact that the Sage decided that you should be cursed but that Hashirama/Asura hadn’t done anything wrong, when I think about that in the light of how much of an ass Hashirama was in the other life I just can’t—” the words choked in Tobirama’s throat and he twisted to tuck himself into Madara’s jaw, the older man rubbed his hand soothingly up his spine “I loved my brother last time; I gave everything I was to his dream and he consumed all of my hopes and dreams and made me a tool and never noticed. When I saw that he was doing the same to you....I couldn’t let him do that to you, even if I didn’t like you I wanted better for you than that and I always respected you. Always admired your passion, especially the way that it was about people – brother would leave behind anyone that didn’t understand his dream and I thought – I thought you wouldn’t.”

Madara swallowed hard and looked at the celling, that was… fuck. Not to surprising really when Madara thought about it- a hundred moments when Hashirama looked though his brother when Tobirama wasn’t being useful flashing thought his mind- but hard “I’ll be fine, as long as he doesn’t say anything stupid about you or try to touch you I’ll be fine. It’s just…the unfairness of it got to me I guess, the way it’s always about him and he’s always the ‘wronged’ party.” Madara forced a chuckle, “Not say anything stupid? This is Hashirama, I wouldn’t bet on that” his voice was more strained than he had expected when he spoke and sharp teeth just below his jaw applied just enough pressure to get the point across; you’re mine, no one else gets you “No one gets to speak ill about you without dealing with me, I couldn’t do much except insist that you be addressed with respect last time; this time I can and will make a fuss” Tobirama pronounced in a deep growl. Madara shivered and slide his hand up and knotted it in soft white hair and to yank the albino back enough that he could give him a hungry kiss, Tobirama melted against him with a pleased hum and tugged fondly at Madara’s hair (it reminded him of a cat kneading their claws). They lingered together for a time, breathing each other in and exchanging soft kisses, feeling the hum-buzz of the soul-chains and the echo of each other’s emotions providing a gentle alternative to the words the two of them sometimes found so hard; “You ready?” Tobirama asked eventually and Madara laughed “No, you” Tobirama bussed Madara’s lips with a kiss before he responded “No” the Uchiha pulled back and smoothed his hands down the lithe back “Well, if we’re together we’ll figure it out.”

(Mito thought that this was one of the most emotionally strange meals she had ever been part of, and she had been there the last time Tobirama had dinner with his father before he refused to keep doing it. Touka was watching her soulmate carefully and Izuna was only barely keeping himself from flying apart at the seams with some combination of joy and heartbreak, Kurohime looked like she was going to burst into tears, Kawa and his soulmate both looked thrilled and all of the Uchiha looked at Madara like he was a miracle. Madara….Madara looked like he wasn’t totally sure he was awake and was clinging to a sharp eyed Tobirama like the other man was the only thing that was keeping him from vanishing; she couldn’t blame him for that, the idea of what he had gone through… Mito swallowed and looked down at her plate, god, that was – she looked at her husband, uncommonly quiet as the pushed his food around and remembered the look on his face when Touka had explained what ‘curse’ meant and what exactly Tobirama had done. Hashirama had gone white as a sheet, all but begging Touka to tell him it wasn’t true- “Not that, please, that’s – I can’t imagine anything more cruel to him! for Madara that is the worst fate I can ever think of, the people he loves are everything to him, far more that any ideal-“ “Unlike you cousin?”- and had spoken very little since then, couldn’t bring himself to look at Madara at all; Mito wanted to slap him on the back of the head there was thick and then there was her husband sometimes… not looking at the other man was only making it worse though him holding his tongue was probably for the best until Madara looked less like he was going to have a breakdown, which might take a while in Mito’s opinion. She looked around at her strange family and forced down a sigh; it would take time and Mito was rarely as patient as she looked like she was, but in time, in time she thought they would all be alright. There was so much unsaid that she could all but see hovering in the air around the table but some conversations couldn’t be forced, somethings took time; Hashirama wasn’t going to be able to apologize tonight- she knew her soulmate-, Izuna wasn’t going to trust that his brother wouldn’t fall apart every time he looked a way, Kurohime wasn’t going to stop wanting to cry and thinking it was a dream, Kawa and Toga would be alright- youth and less history- but even then it was complicated she was sure, and there was no way anyone was getting Tobirama and Madara more than a few feet from each other for a very long time- if ever. But today was a start and Mito had an entire lifetime to sort out how to find the Sage and have a….conversation with him. politely. Very politely.)

Sulfur Sky

Steam billowed up around him and Madara turned his face to the sky, feeling the static crackle of the sky-ship over his skin as dark ripples spread like water through the air and the heavy reassuring weight of the blade on his hip. There was a sound a loud hawk scream and the deck spotter yelled “Hawk rider at the bow!” Madara turned to see the stooping giant bird and grimaced when talons the length of the cutlass bit into the railing on the perch pad- they were going to need to get a new one, the spotter had been wrong, this wasn’t a hawk rider, it was a flacon rider with all the militant power that brought- and looked up as the rider swung off of his bird onto the deck with only a breath of sound. The man turned, insubstantial chains clinked, Madara’s world righted itself “Hello dear heart”