You’re sad, says a little voice, in the back of his head, at the edges of his mind, his own conscious.
He doesn’t know where that voice came from or why it sounds the way it does, it doesn’t sound familiar in the least, but he finds that he doesn’t know how to react to that thought. He taps his fingers against his cheek, his chin in his palm, and he hums low in his throat. An agreement or an acknowledgment, he couldn’t say. Maybe a bit of both. Maybe neither. He could care less at the moment, either way. He’s busy, a book open on his desk and paper next to it, notes, a study of something, and his brush in the other, dipped into the inkwell.
The candle at his desk flickers, shadows dancing across the room, across his face, angular and sharp and quick. It reminds him of someone, someone he won’t say. His chest aches for a moment, the mere thought of him crossing his mind hurting just a little bit. He’s not ready to admit that, that ache in his chest, the feelings he holds for another man, not yet. One of these days, but not today. Not when he’s busy. Maybe when he’s old and retired, but not when he’s young, twenty five, and running a village alongside his brother and his friend and many more people.
He huffs, and goes back to his notes, red eyes moving over the letters of the book and his own written words.
The voice doesn’t come back, but it feels like there’s something lurking now, in his head, a feeling, a predator in waiting.
Perhaps I am sad, he thinks as the brush glides over the papers. He won’t deny it, has never been one to deny many things about himself, and sadness is something he recognizes, unlike the ache.
But there isn’t anything I can do about it now.
Eventually, he comes to the end of his book, his notes, and by then the sun has begun to rise. He’s an early waker, he knows, and today had been no different. His fingers are careful when they stack the papers, leaving the last one on top to let the last letters dry. He then closes his book, softly, and drags the brush against the lip of the well, a rag already in his hand to clean off the rest of the ink. He’s just as careful doing that, he’s always been a man of great care when it comes to things that are his. Outside, a bird chirps, it’s song coming through the open window, carried along by the warm summer breeze that drifts in with it, moving his sheer white curtains. It smells sweet, like a peach tree.
He breathes it in, deeply.
Yes, perhaps he’s sad. But like he said, it can wait. He has work to do.
He blows out the candle, it’s smoke dancing in the air, graceful and fluid much like the water he wields. His hands find the edge of the desk, pushing up. Standing, he looks over the room.
It’s bathed in soft blue shadows and the beginning rays of sunlight peeking through his window, to the right. It’s a neat little office, tidy, with a couple shelves for books and scrolls and cabinets for his files and a lovely dark rug on the floor in the middle, and in front of his own desk are two chairs, both cushioned with velvet, gift from Mito. The office reflects him perfectly, as Izuna would-
He stops that thought. He doesn’t need that today. Time to head to the tower.
He grabs what he needs for the day, files he brought home with him and paperwork he completed last night, and he doesn’t stop for anything else. He already ate, already showered, dressed, happuri on to keep hair out of his face, all of that. Well, he does stop for one thing. The fur collar hanging on his door by a hook, he grabs that, slings it and secures it over his shoulders. Now he’s ready.
He doesn’t take the door, no, instead he hops straight out of the open window. He’s on the second floor of his home, but he’s done this so many times already that it comes to him as naturally as his element, to flood his legs with chakra to make sure the impact of the ground doesn’t hurt him. He lands with a soft thud on the dewy grass that kisses his feet, and he wishes they had better sandals for shinobi, ones that didn’t expose so much. He puts a pin in that thought, it sounds like a good idea.
The village is beginning to wake up by now, vendors setting up their stalls, employees heading to work or opening up shops, shinobi running across the rooftops, mothers hurrying to get their children out the door and to school on time. It’s something he sees everyday but it still doesn’t stop bringing a warmth to his heart.
Knowing that someone with hands like his and a reputation that precedes him built something so peaceful will never get old to him.
The walk to the tower is just as peaceful as the village. Yes, walk, he doesn’t always like to run on the rooftops with the rest. Sometimes he likes to bask in the peace around him. It’s good for him, he thinks, refreshing.
The tower stands proud in front of him, tall as ever, and inside he can sense his brother there already. Somehow, reflecting in his own chakra signature, Hashirama is already sulking. It makes him roll his eyes. And along with that signature . . .
He swallows, rough. His heartbeat quickens as his fingers curl into fists, nails digging into the meat of his palms.
He prepares himself for what will happen next, as he always does, probably, hopefully, always will, and he runs up the wall at top speed straight to the window of his own tower office. Perhaps he’s a little too rough when he comes inside, the force of his land shaking a few things in the room, but it works. Perhaps he slams the window shut a little too hard, as it hits the frame with a bang, but it works. His hands feel a little colder, damper, as they shake a bit.
Down the hall, footsteps, coming closer, and the same chakra signature he wished he could avoid, wished he hated, but can’t and doesn’t despite it all.
He breathes in to steady himself, and when he turns around with one hand left on the windowsill, he looks as put together as ever, face relaxed. The door to his office opens.
Madara stands there, tall and proud as ever and just like the flame of his home office’s candle in every sense, stares at him with a smile, warmly. It makes Tobirama’s heart hurt and flutter at the same time, something that always feels odd, but he returns a smaller one nonetheless, one that he knows Madara sees. The older man’s dark eyes crinkle at the edges, sparkle. Madara looks at him like one might look at the night sky for the first time, in wonder and in love with the stars that are his face and the space that is the rest of his body.
“Tobirama,” he mutters, soft, full of nothing but love. Tobirama wishes he wouldn’t say his name like that, but a smaller, greedier part of him relishes in the attention.
“Madara,” he says back, just the same.
Madara steps into the office, closing the door behind him, and comes to stand in front of him. One of his hands, gloved, finds its way up to his face, cradling his cheek, tracing the red line on the bone of it, and the other one winds around his waist. They’re chest to chest now, with Madara leaning against him, and he’s still looking at him like he’s everything that was, ever will be. And he looks back at him with the same indulgence. His own pale hands, paler than Uchiha skin surprisingly, snake their way up and into Madara’s hair, holding him by the scalp.
“Hello, love, good morning,” he says, voice low, because he knows Tobirama doesn’t like it when people are loud early in the morning, and Madara’s default volume is but a shout half the time it seems, and oh, that pet name does something to make his heart feel so much better.
“Good morning, Madara,” and then he leans forward, placing a kiss on the man’s forehead.
Madara preens under the attention, like a bird, proud. It makes his smile a tad wider. Madara always looks so beautiful when he’s proud, happy.
Madara is always beautiful, period. To him at least. He couldn’t imagine a single soul who didn’t think so, and if there is one, then he obviously hasn’t met them yet.
Madara stands up on his toes, just to plant his own kiss, a simple peck, onto his lips. They’re soft as ever, they always are, plush, heavy, and so very beautiful.
The moment ends all too soon. But that’s okay, they still have this. And he doesn’t want it to end, wishes he had a sharingan to capture this moment in clarity for eternity.
Of course, life deems that he’s had enough comfort for today, as he feels another signature coming down the hall, footsteps loud.
He tenses up, and Madara must think it’s because he doesn’t like being seen while being physically intimate, a well known fact, so he moves away. Really though? It’s because he knows what will happen next. As it always does.
Hashirama bursts through the door as soon as Madara settles by his side, not too close but close enough to feel the heat of his body.
“Tobi!” yells the taller man.
Though he knows, he smiles, because Hashirama is his brother, and he loves him almost as dearly as Madara.
“Anija,” he says, quiet and polite but if you knew him for a while, you could detect a fond note in his voice.
And then his brother’s eyes slide over. And they land on Madara, who’s eyes meet his.
He can practically see the hearts dancing in the brown irises.
“Madara!” he yells, louder this time, if only by a little bit.
Madara relaxes beside him, an exasperated sigh leaving his lips.
“Hashirama,” he says, “don’t you have work to do?”
Hashirama, of course, pouts. And in the blink of an eye he’s hanging off of Madara’s neck, wailing excuses about wanting to see his baby brother, crocodile tears pouring out of his eyes like a waterfall. And Madara flails, yells, insults, like he always does, but there’s no real heat behind any of it, there hardly ever is. He can see it in Madara’s eyes.
They end up leaving the office together, Madara and Hashirama. They always do.
Madara may love him, love him more than anything like an Uchiha does, but he always naturally gravitates towards bright, happy people, towards Hashirama, and he attracts them too. Hashirama was simply the one that stuck, that stayed, that latched on like a leech and never let go and-!
Even though he has Madara’s heart now, Hashirama was the first one to have it willingly. And he’ll always carry a piece of it in his own, the fool.
The same can be said for Mito. She and Hashirama may be the happiest married couple there is in the village, especially for an arranged marriage, but Madara will always have Hashirama’s attention first.
They like to bond over this, their little bit selfishness, every time they have tea together. They own just enough of their lover’s hearts to keep them anchored, but they know it will never truly stop them.
“Back to work,” he says, but there’s no one around to hear it.
Deep in his chest, something aches. Again. He doesn’t want to think about it. He feels that presence in the back of his mind and it feels . . . . smug? No, not the right word, but it’s all he can think off at the moment. Oh, he doesn’t know.
All Senju Tobirama knows is that he always aches, his heart, his bones, and the one thing he can do about it is ignore it because he has better, more productive things to take care of.