The morning after Saburō and Kamui's visit Tobirama wakes early to find a familiar white cat grooming herself by the bedroom's closed fusuma. It is one thing for a cat to let themselves into a room, but letting themselves in then closing the doors behind them is… a bit much, for a regular cat.
Then again, this cat is responsible for the death of his uncle Chirinma, making it a summons and therefore far more dangerous than any ordinary cat. In Tobirama's arms his wife stirs in response to his sudden tension and twists around, blinking at the small intruder.
The cat purrs, rises and stretches, her unusually long body indicating a possible source for her name, then minces across the tatami and steps fussily onto the futon to press herself against Izuna's face.
"Yes, yes, you have my undying gratitude for your most excellent advice," his wife croons fondly, scratching the cat behind the ears as her face is vigorously scent-marked. "Surely I would have been lost without the wisdom of Cats, as would so many generations of my ancestors."
"Quite," says the cat smugly, her tail waving in satisfaction. "Is your mate keeping you well-fed, or is he only good for breeding?"
Tobirama sits up and glares down at the impudent feline, fiercely offended.
"Oh he is satisfying my cravings most ably, Udon-chan!" Izuna replies easily. "All the mushrooms my heart desires, prepared deliciously every day."
The cat sniffs. "He's not hunting for you? Kittens need meat to grow strong."
"Are you offering to supervise a hunting trip, Udon-chan?" Izuna asks lazily, scratching the snobbish feline under the chin. "I've never seen him use a bow, so it would probably be snares and throwing knives or possibly a spear."
"I know how to use a hunting bow," Tobirama interjects firmly, "and I would be honoured to hunt for you, Lord-Wife, if the seals will stretch that far." It is one thing to go mushroom-hunting with Umeno-san, but quite another to set out into Uchiha territory with actual weapons and the intent to kill. Killing animals with the intent to eat them, but it is still killing and not simply harvesting. So many ways that could go terribly wrong for him, with few or no witnesses while out beyond the clan compound and surrounding fields.
His wife flops onto her back to smile up at him. "You'd probably have to take somebody, so as to make sure you stick to the game trails and don't accidentally cross paths with the charcoal burners or blunder across somebody else's hunt," she says comfortably as Udon the cat steps up onto her ribcage and curls up, closing her eyes. "But if it would please you to go hunting it can easily be arranged."
He told Izuna that he wanted to hunt for her, back when she bared her soul to him and revealed both the depth of her regard for him and the steadfastness of her principles. Now she is offering to allow him to do just that.
"It would please me very much to hunt for my wife," he tells her, lying back down again and bending over her face so as to kiss her on the mouth, mindful of the purring cat occupying much of her chest. "There are a few of my mother's recipes I haven't tried yet, and it is late enough in the season for deer now." It is the first day of August, the month of falling leaves, and in less than two weeks Obon will begin. While the does will still be nursing their fawns right now, this is the perfect time of year to be hunting newly-matured bucks, young and incautious and wandering far from their home ranges.
"Hn, it sounds like this morning while I am studying with my father and Kiso is with Midori-chan, my treasure will be up in the woods looking for deer," Izuna murmurs against his lips, wrapping an arm across his shoulders and pulling him closer so as to kiss him more deeply.
"Probably be away for the afternoon as well," he warns, smoothing wayward spikes of hair back from her face.
"Can't rush a hunt," she agrees softly, leaning up to lightly nip the tip of his nose, "I know, Treasure. Let Kiso know over breakfast and I'm sure everything will be fine."
Tobirama glances quickly over at Kiso –fast asleep– up at the carved ranma letting in the dim morning light –still at least an hour until the toddler is likely to wake– then lifts the white cat off his wife's chest –Udon yowls but permits the indignity– so he can untie her nightshirt and pull her into his arms, his hands caressing her revealed skin with firm purpose.
"My spouse is seducing me this fine summer's morning?" Izuna asks a little breathlessly, head rolling back on the pillow as her back arches and her hips rock up to meet him.
"Yes," Tobirama confirms, kneeing her legs apart and nibbling at her throat as he unties his own nightshirt. "Don't want my wife to feel neglected in my absence."
"Nothing at all to do with ensuring I look smug and sore during my Lineage lessons with my Lord-Father?"
Point; he needs to put a bit more effort in for the effects to linger beyond bathing and eating breakfast. "A happy coincidence," Tobirama rumbles, enjoying how his wife shudders as he firmly presses his way inside her. "I want my beloved to feel cherished."
Izuna drapes an arm around his neck, her other hand gripping his bicep. "I have never," she murmurs heatedly, "felt less than cherished in your arms, Tobirama."
"Even when I was trying to kill you?" Tobirama teases her, flattered and delighted and trying not to let it show too much. The cat is now perched on top of one of his tansu, pointedly ignoring them, but it's a cat –summons or not– so Tobirama doesn't particularly care that Udon is getting a show. He's sure she's seen worse.
"I have always had no less than your full attention," his wife teases back, her teeth scraping over his collarbone and startling him into bucking against –and into– her. "Hn! Lovely vigorous husband."
"Not your husband yet," Tobirama reminds her, picking up the pace a little.
"But no less lovely and vigorous for that," Izuna insists, voice hitching as she presses herself up against him.
"How could I possibly give my delectable wife less than my best efforts?"
"Oh Treasure," his wife's eyes are dark and she smells delicious as she grins artlessly up at him, "I enjoy all your efforts, rest assured."
What can Tobirama do or say to that, except try to press her beyond words?
Hunting up in the mountains above the Uchiha compound is soothing, even though he is wearing indigoes for safety's sake rather than his own clothes and has Izuna's mentor Takao pacing tirelessly a body-length behind his right shoulder, chakra dampened almost to nothing and feet soundless, armed with a bow slung across his back and a knife tucked into his belt.
Tobirama has a borrowed bow –Izuna's bow, which has a heavier draw than he'd expected if still within his ability to bend– and his own hunting knife –which had been his mother's; he almost cried when Izuna casually handed it back to him, clean and oiled and recently sharpened– and the ever-present sleeve-knife for surprising assassins with, but nothing else beyond his wits and what little chakra Izuna has permitted to flow under his skin. It makes the hunt more challenging; it makes it more exhilarating.
Here he is, hunting with a senior Uchiha warrior shadowing him more to reassure the rest of the clan that he's not getting up to mischief than to offer him any kind of actual help, no Leopards to help him track or corner his prey and limited weapons and chakra to bring his quarry down with.
He is going to kill a deer for his wife, but he's going to have to be smart about it.
The hardest part, however, will be finding one.
Two days after his successful hunt, on Izuna's next prayer-day, Tobirama leaves Kiso playing in the garden after breakfast and heads out towards the craft district, wearing his pink-striped jōfu with the greenfinch obi and grass-green obi cords. Yesterday morning, while he was cooking and preserving the venison, an Uchiha smith had stopped by the back door to express a willingness to make him a gunsen and a tessen. Examining his hands and measuring them out against her own, Naeba-san has promised him the gunsen would be ready in the next day or so –although the tessen will obviously take longer– and given him the dimensions so he can start looking into paper mountings.
He will get paper prints for the gunsen, seeing as it is not intended for use as a weapon, but he is pondering maybe getting a silk mounting for the tessen. Of course the advantage of paper is that if he ends up using the tessen he can just replace the blood-spattered print afterwards, but silk is stronger and can be reinforced with chakra, even though it will require careful cleaning after use.
Naeba-san the shuriken-smith gave him a list of names of clansmen who make fan-prints professionally, along with general instructions for finding their workshops, while also 'idly' commenting that there are a number of Uchiha who draw and paint recreationally, warriors as well as civilians. Tobirama had thanked her dryly, well aware that there is a good chance that none of those print-making Uchiha will want to deal with him despite the certainty of being paid for their trouble. If he must resort to amateur work he will probably ask Izuna, although that carries the very real risk of her hiding a risqué visual joke in the design. Which might be worth doing eventually, once he feels comfortable enough to have both fan and joke within view of others.
First on the list is Naka-Two, whose name is vaguely familiar. He can't quite place it right now, but he's sure it will come to him; he knows a lot more Uchiha names than he can put to faces at the moment, his wife talking rather freely about her kin and those other Uchiha willing to put up with his company doing likewise. It's a large clan; he's not expected to remember everybody. In fact nobody is expected to remember everybody, which is part of why leadership of the Uchiha is split between warriors and civilians, and then further into Lineages: that way no single person is expected to remember the needs and grievances of everybody within the clan.
It's still fairly early, but despite Izuna very meticulously setting this day of the week aside as a rest day, doing so is not a clan-wide practice but a personal choice. Everybody else is treating this as a day like any other, although Tobirama has noticed that all the workshops close up once a ten-day, so it seems to be that the civilian side of the clan do take scheduled rest-days. Fewer of them than Izuna does, but no less clearly-defined and potentially legally reinforced.
Those days are the first of the month, the eleventh of the month and the twenty-first of the month; the first day of each jun. The first day of each sekki, the seasonal changes, are also half-days off work –at least– but those tend to be marked by visits to the clan's large shrine and associated socialising rather than rest per se, especially since many of the seasonal days coincide with other festivals.
The first day of the month was the day he went hunting, and the change of season –the first day of autumn– will be on the seventh, which is the day after Izuna will have received her promised restitution from the Senju for his attempted murder. A new start for the new season, then a week later there will be Obon and a week after that, as the heat truly begins to fade, the peace treaty negotiations will begin.
Naka-Two's house is a two-storey town-house facing one of the main cobbled roads running north-south through the middle of the compound; the house itself faces east and Tobirama comes at it from behind, walking up the narrower and less-trafficked path marking the end of the gardens where they border a field of millet. Unlike Minami-san's –admittedly larger– garden however, this one has no quail: simply a storehouse acting as a boundary to wall off the path at the end, low-lying and sturdy shrubs and paving stones filling most of the space between the garden gate and the back of the house and a large number of troughs full of annual plants attached to the boundary fences at various heights, as well as a large trellis over the middle of the garden with several different vines climbing over it, both for shade and for fruit. Tobirama identifies a melon, a squash and a kiwi vine, little net bags hanging from hooks at various points to support the heavier fruits.
Mostly however this garden is full of children: a boy of maybe nine, a boy and girl who both look to be about five and a toddler girl, all wearing jinbei and playing with woven grass toys. There is also a gangling teenager in a checked yellow jōfu tied with a half-width woven obi decorated with a complex indigo and white pattern, hair pinned up lopsidedly on the back of her head as she works her way around the troughs with a watering can, regularly passing between the playing children to fetch more water from the pump by the back door.
Tobirama leans on the gate and watches for several minutes, enjoying the opportunity to observe without being watched in turn. Then the younger boy pulls the younger girl's hair, the older boy wades in to end the budding fight and the toddler notices him, sticking a hand in her mouth as she wanders closer to stare at him.
The quarrel firmly broken up, the older boy looks around for the toddler. "Nee-san, there's a guest!" He calls, also noticing Tobirama.
The teenage girl turns and walks towards the gate; her skin is rather more tanned than the average Uchiha, her jaw is squarer and her eyes are unfocused and hazy as she looks in the general direction of Tobirama's shoulder rather than at his face.
She's blind. Tobirama never expected to meet a blind Uchiha.
"Are you here to see Naka-ba?" The teenager asks, voice harsh and irritable.
"Yes, I wanted to ask about fan-prints," Tobirama replies, doing his best not to stare and biting down his questions. This is not the time.
"You go around the front door for business," the teenager retorts irritably, casually picking up the toddler and kissing the top of her head. "Everybody knows that."
"It's Tobirama-sama, Nee-chan," the older boy says matter-of-factly from further inside the garden, still standing over the two younger children who are now also staring warily at him; "he probably doesn't know."
The blind teenager sighs and points northwards. "Up the path to the end of the row, turn east between the top house and the weaving barn on the corner and then south down the road; we're the sixth front from the top on this side. It might only be her apprentices in the front of the workshop but Ba-san is in."
"Thank you very much," Tobirama says, not commenting on her brusque tone; she might just sound like that and he's honestly heard far too much 'you should be less harsh, Tobira-kun' from different aunties to ever inflict it on others. The teenager hns, turns her back and puts the toddler down, the interaction over; Tobirama steps away from the gate and heads further up the path.
The middle girl had also been darker-skinned and rounder-faced, but the toddler and the two boys had more standard Uchiha looks; the teenager had also referred to Naka-Two as 'aunt', so maybe two families sharing a home? Or several warriors' spouses sharing, to ensure consistent childcare and mutual support? He's remembered now where he's heard 'Naka-Two' before: she is married to Haruto's younger brother Sukeari, who is a mentor in the Outguard.
Letting himself in the front door of the workshop, it's a woman vaguely his own age who walks over to greet him; there's also a pre-teen pinning up prints on lines near a small press and a woman in a matronly summer kimono carving a wood-block, an infant tied to her chest, who must be Naka-Two.
Naka-Two looks up sharply, sets her woodworking tools aside and stands. "Higashi-chan, the press."
The woman stops mid-greeting, stilling in confusion before bowing in apology and retreating back towards the pre-teen, removing the block from the press and setting it down beside a sink, presumably for cleaning.
Naka-Two stands in front of him, chin high and hands on hips. "Please leave, Tobirama-sama," she says firmly.
Naka-Two. Naka-Ni. Naka-Ni-ba, not Nakani-ba; this is the woman caring for Kamui's cousins. Takomi and Naka-Three and Sayomi: the three girls in the back garden whom he has personally orphaned, the oldest of whom is blind.
Tobirama bows wordlessly and sees himself out. It seems he will have to try one of those other print-makers rather than commissioning work from Haruto's sister-in-law.
He is grateful that Kiso was not with him for this. The toddler would have found it very upsetting.
The Aburame return a few days before the handover of the agreed restitution is due to take place, ten of them in identical pearl-grey silk coats with deep pockets and high collars. In addition to Shisaki, Shibun and Shijō, whom Tobirama met over tea, there are Shīka, Shino, Shishū and Shiori, who made up the Senju half of the initial mediating group, now joined by Aburame Shijin their Clan Head along with Kyōshi and Shao, presumably junior clansmen going by the absence of the 'shi' character in their names, although Kyōshi's grey hair suggests they are no less a respected elder than Shisaku.
It is very clear that this negotiation is being taken extremely seriously, for it to be hosted and overseen by the Aburame Clan Head. Tobirama sincerely hopes this will prompt Tajima to be less overtly ruthless than his evident preference, but he's not got particularly high hopes of that. Tajima will do as he believes is best for the Uchiha, as ever.
Izuna hosts their kuge guests in the Amaterasu Residence while Kiso is spending the afternoon with Naka-Scallion, serving tea and light snacks with the help of Hayami-chan and playing her koto. Tobirama helps for the first hour or so, offering inconsequential conversation and allowing a degree of light interrogation over his living conditions and general welfare, but then he retreats back to his own living room for some quiet and the freedom of reading away from nosy shinobi nobility and their equally nosy insect partners.
The two kikaichū he later detaches from his kimono collar he traps under an upturned teacup; the chakra-eating insects are relatively short-lived, but that does not mean he is willing to permit ongoing espionage for however long that may be. Izuna's improved insect-screen seal tucked under his zabuton for good measure, he settles into reading 'The Chronicle of Enki Palace'. 'Crane Startles Kunlun' had been… interesting, in that he can see it is an early work in the long literary tradition to which many more modern novels belong, and having read it he can also see more clearly how 'The Great Sage Of Evil' is a subversion of the genre.
'The Chronicle of Enki Palace' is in some ways more interesting, because it's a new genre –well, new to him at least– and an interesting fictional riff on the pillow-books he read in Uzushio. Read for the politics specifically; if he re-read them now as a married man he suspects his focus would be slightly different.
So far the story is a murder mystery and a very compelling one, as the charmingly ruthless protagonist Lady Wei infiltrating the Imperial palace is realistically flawed –as are indeed all the other characters– and every individual has their own agenda, most of which are as yet unknown or merely assumed. Given that he has another entire volume of this story waiting on his shelf and Naka Two-Swords assured him she has a further three for when he gets that far, he is unlikely to run short of reading material any time soon.
He's grateful when their guests finally leave, and feeling gracious enough by then to lift up the teacup so the bugs can fly out after their owners without making a fuss to his Lord-Wife. If it comes to it he can always use this instance of excessive nosiness as something to bargain with, in exchange for something he wants put on the agenda for the peace treaty.
Tobirama has sent several letters containing his notes on professions the Senju might investigate that would not terminally antagonise any of their neighbours –the craftsmen in the neighbouring town as much as the Uchiha– to Baasan, and with Izuna's permission he's even had a letter sent to Uzushio –specifically to Kei-sensei– which, even though Tajima read it first, did not get censored or edited before being sealed and handed over to the hired messenger.
He is going to have to get more into the habit of writing letters. He will not be able to go anywhere until the peace treaty is finalised and even after that he will not be able to take missions, so he needs to keep up communication with family and acquaintances in other ways. Which would admittedly be easier if more of his kin were literate in more than the very basics of katakana –in the case of most of his warrior kin– or hiragana –those of his female kin who are not medics.
Having to keep in mind that none of his kin are likely to know the many new kanji he has added to his repertoire since his imprisonment is frustrating, especially when most of what he wants to talk about involves those characters. A letter written in kanji can be both longer and more detailed than one written in katakana or hiragana while using less paper, but Tobirama can accomodate the necessity if he must. It's just inefficient.
Well, he could talk about the books he's been reading; Tōka would probably enjoy 'The Great Sage Of Evil,' and how the political and the personal intertwine would make it educational as well as entertaining, considering she's Heir now. She would also enjoy the glorious awkwardness of the story's climax, and not be particularly bothered by all the necromancy.
Tobirama gets out his writing desk and sets about grinding some ink; seeing as the peace negotiations are due to begin soon his cousin will likely welcome a letter from him, no matter how inconsequential. Her reply is likely to involve teasing him over 'wasting paper' on such inanities, even though he fully intends to sneak in enough details of the day-to-day to reassure her that he's managing very well. He didn't get to have a proper conversation with her during the building inspections, and she's evidently been a bit too busy for letter-writing. Or possibly just couldn't think of anything to say; well he will try and model that, in the hope that she will reciprocate. Even a paper-wasting list of daily happenings would be reassuring to receive, as conformation that those things are happening even in his absence.
It's Izuna with a tray. "Come in, Lord-Wife."
She makes her way across the tatami and rests the tray on the table, exchanging the empty teapot on the coiled iron stand for the fresh one on her tray and setting out a dish of senbei. "Naka-Scallion tells me that Kiso-kun has been made off with by my Lord-Father, so we have the house to ourselves tonight."
"My honoured father-in-law seems to have perfected the art of doing helpful things in the most irritating way possible," Tobirama notes, setting his brush on its stand and pouring tea for both of them.
His wife snickers. "It's the way he never asks, isn't it?"
"That too." Tobirama takes one of the senbei; evidently Tajima is aware that they will both be tired after their efforts to be properly hospitable to complete strangers, but rather than ask he has simply made a unilateral decision and had somebody else inform them of his choice after the fact. Being Outguard Head means that nobody can step in to prevent this, especially not when Kiso is not only Tajima's great-nephew but Izuna's ward, affording the man grandparent privileges on top of everything else.
If the man had asked, Tobirama might have agreed. However right now he just feels more determined to do something spiteful in the near future, as payback for the high-handed assumptions and depriving him of toddler cuddles after a long and tiring afternoon.
"Will my beloved concubine permit me to console him in this trying time?" Izuna asks, fluttering her eyelashes at him with theatrical winsomeness.
"What kind of consolation did my Lord-Wife have in mind?" Tobirama asks, already anticipating the likely sexual nature of her suggestion.
"Would my treasure like to be kissed before dinner?"
Tobirama smirks. "I would very much enjoy being kissed by my charming flirt of a wife, especially if she happens to be in the mood for kissing more than just my face."
"I am eminently persuadable," Izuna chirps, picking up her teacup and finishing the tea before shuffling closer to him and reaching for his obi cords. Tobirama packs up his writing desk and mostly-finished letter as his wife takes her time untying his various belts, pressing slow, messy kisses to his throat and jaw. Once he has tidied paper and ink away she turns her attention to his hands, then opens his kimono to lavish attention on his chest and shoulders.
It is exceedingly pleasant to be gently but firmly pinned to the tatami and attentively ravished by his eager wife. He will be sure to fully express his appreciation after dinner, when it is time for them to retire to bed.
Tobirama wakes abruptly in the cool dim early hours, feeling disorientated and vaguely threatened for no reason he can pinpoint. He has no chakra –it is the middle of the night and Izuna is asleep– but he's not felt like this since the immediate aftermath of the assassins.
Izuna, curled up beside him with her face pressing into the pillow, is breathing deeply, oblivious of his turmoil for once. Except… he can't feel her usual strong chakra. Carefully sliding a hand down her back, Tobirama tries to get a feel for why.
Ah. Her chakra has pooled; a little early maybe, but that's fairly normal for multiple births. She's almost certainly having twins then. Was this what woke him, the sudden lessening of his wife's chakra presence in order to support her unborn, making the fearful instinctive part of his hindbrain think she had left him to sleep alone?
No. No, what woke him is that Madara is wandering slowly around the eastern side of the engawa, chakra disconcertingly flat. Tobirama tracks his progress around the stumpy unused east wing to the back of the kitchen, then his unhurried about-face and return. This is not normal. Not remotely.
Madara sleepwalks; Izuna said as much. Is the man sleepwalking around the outside of the Amaterasu Residence? Why? And can Tobirama somehow get him to stop?
He crawls off the futon and shuffles across the tatami to the shōji, sliding one open. He gets a split-second view of his brother-in-law ambling down the engawa –in his nightshirt with sharingan glowing in the gloom, why– then the seal on his back flashes with sudden heat and his chakra returns in a chilly wash.
Tobirama throws himself backwards into shunshin –the downward sword-stroke embeds itself deeply into the threshold and tatami– but his chakra cuts out again in the next instant, leaving him to trip over the edge of the futon, topple backwards and land on his ass on top of Izuna's legs, jerking her into abrupt wakefulness.
"Shikii? Nii-san? What–"
In the doorway Madara sways, sharingan snuffed out, staggers back a step then collapses forwards onto the boards in a heap, body and chakra shuddering.
"Nii-chan?" Izuna asks again, voice small and wobbly. The sword embedded in the open doorway is clearly visible even to Tobirama's unenhanced sight; to his wife's keener gaze it must be even more unforgivingly recognisable.
"I'm sorry imōto," Madara chokes out, curling up into what is now clearly a prostrate bow, "I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm so sorry–"
Izuna crawls out of the sheets across the tatami, carefully pulling the sword out and setting it well out of the way on one of Tobirama's shelves before edging out to where Madara is having his unsettlingly contained emotional breakdown just beyond the open shōji. Tobirama knows Uchiha now; loud outbursts that blow up and blow over are considered indicative of healthy processing. That is not what is going on here.
"You were sleepwalking, weren't you Nii-chan?" Izuna murmurs, lifting the loose braid that has flopped forwards over Madara's shoulder and smoothing it down his back; her brother flinches violently. "You didn't mean to do it."
Tobirama could have gone his entire life without learning that 'sleepwalking' covered things like coming at people with a sword and been perfectly happy. He now feels far less safe; how can they be sure Madara won't do this again sometime?! Possibly when Kiso is here, even? No, this time he didn't try to actually open the shōji by himself but the man still armed himself and got out of his own home somehow so that was purely luck, or at best some quirk of Izuna's security!
"Meaning doesn't –I still did it Ii-chan!" Madara bangs his forehead on the boards, shoulders trembling. "I won't do it again, Ii-chan, I swear, even if–"
"No." Izuna's tone is suddenly steely, as though she knows what her brother is offering. "No, Nii-chan! Never that. I know you're not Tou-san, 'Dara-nii; don't leave me, not like this."
Tobirama is abruptly and sinkingly certain that 'leave' in this instance is a euphemism and that his wife and her brother are currently hip-deep in unpleasant family history. He tries to sit still and not remind either of them that they have an audience.
"But what else can I do?" Madara finally allows himself to be dragged up from dogeza, shrinking in on himself with his forehead resting on his sister's shoulder as she finger-combs his hair in a way that is clearly intended to be soothing, possibly as much for her as for him. Tobirama is reminded again that until Izuna moved out, these two siblings had shared a futon all their lives. "It's not like I can just stop sleepwalking. If I could I would." His voice is thick, but it still cracks twice before he gets to the end of that admission and Tobirama can smell his tears even without chakra. Along with the self-loathing.
"Saburō's not home tonight, is he."
"No. But that's not fair to him."
Izuna sighs. "Shikii, do you mind my spending the rest of the night in my room with my brother?"
"I don't think I'm going to sleep at all without you there for quite some time," Tobirama admits flatly. The tatami, doorframe and possibly also the floor of his bedroom are all going to need replacing from where Madara's sword cut into them. He was just attacked by somebody who was asleep. The seal on his back recognised it as an attack even, seeing as he was given back access to his chakra for the split-second needed to evade harm despite Izuna's restrictions.
Izuna sighs again as her brother continues to sob near-soundlessly against her shoulder. "Nii-chan, I'm going to bind your chakra; that way the field is vaguely level. Treasure, you may join us or not, and I'll call a Cat in either way so that if 'Dara-nii tries anything they can squish it, and once the weather turns we can invite your Leopards to also stand a guard."
"Acceptable." He would put good odds on Kyōnari over a sleepwalker, even when that sleepwalker is Madara.
"Hn." Madara seems to find those terms more than acceptable as well; good.
"I'll sort this out in the morning, Nii-chan, I promise," Izuna murmurs into her brother's hair. Madara hacks up something that might be a laugh.
"You always fix everything, Ii-chan; 'm a terrible brother, making you pick up after me."
"Shush, 'Dara," Izuna croons, hauling her brother upright through sheer brute force; Tobirama's libido chooses this moment to make an appearance, purely to let him know that the fact his wife can casually manhandle her older brother even without chakra is the hottest thing he's seen all week. Possibly all month.
She doesn't turn towards the bedroom though, but along the engawa. "You may as well cut through," Tobirama says, deciding to nip this considerate but impractical notion in the bud, "it's faster."
"Yes I'm sure, hurry up; I'd prefer this not turn into a public spectacle, thank you." He tries to stomp down on his lust as Izuna drags her unresisting older brother through his bedroom, past the iori and into her own room, but it resists him with impudent ease. Sighing, Tobirama closes the shōji as far as possible given the damage to the lower track, leaves the sword where it is and grabs his yukata off the end of the byōbu, so he can hang it over Izuna's screen and wear it to the bathroom in the morning.
It's hot enough at night now that he and Izuna are wearing unlined linen juban rather than nemaki at the moment, and while that's fine for sleeping in he doesn't particularly want to be seen walking around the house in one by Naka-Dragon. Yes, Madara's getting an eyeful, but that's his fault for sleepwalking over here when he should be in his own bed and it's not like he's wearing much more.
Izuna's sheets are clean on today –yesterday by now, maybe– but getting them all into bed with Madara still mid-meltdown is awkward and it being some horrendous hour of the night only does so much to blunt that. Izuna thankfully takes charge of sleeping arrangements and they end up with Madara curled up under his sister's chin as she hugs him, Tobirama sprawled along her back with his face pressed against the back of her neck. He's sure that by the time morning comes they'll be all tangled up in some new and embarrassing manner, but that's tomorrow's problem. Thankfully the whole production is not remotely sexy, so his desire is comprehensively dampened by it.
Right now Tobirama wants to rest, and the watchful pair of dark-furred cats that leapt up from under the edge of the iori and followed him into the bedroom to settle on top of Izuna's tansu as they passed through the main room help more than he was expecting them to. Especially with the scent of Madara's tears still leaving a bitter taste in the air.
Tobirama purrs himself to sleep, because he frankly needs the soothing. If it helps his wife and her brother sleep as well, so much the better. They need all the sleep they can get when they're putting off their problems until the morning.
He wakes sprawled across the pillows, curled around his wife's back; she's sitting up against him, Madara's head in her lap, and singing slowly as she strokes her brother's hair and upper back with one hand. Her other hand is resting on Tobirama's thigh just above his knee, the grip comforting.
"Twilight and evening bell, and after that the dark; and may there be no sorrow of farewell, when I embark; when I embark! When I embark; may there be no sorrow of farewell, when I embark. For though from out the bounds of Time and Space, the tide may bear me far; I hope to meet my pilot face to face, when I have crossed the shoal. When I have crossed the shoal! When I have crossed the shoal; I hope to meet my pilot face to face, when I have crossed the shoal."
Madara's fingers are wrapped tightly around the ties of Izuna's juban; she probably can't extricate herself without tearing it, and the lack of accessible chakra makes it even more challenging. Izuna hums for a little while, then starts the song again from the beginning:
"Sunset and evening star, and one clear call to me; and may there be no roaring at the shoal, when I put out to sea. When I put out to sea! When I put out to sea, and may there be no roaring at the shoal, when I put out to sea; but such a tide as moving seems asleep, too full for sound or foam, when that which drew from out the boundless deep, turns again home. Turns again home! Turns again home; that which drew from out the boundless deep, turns again home."
"Twilight and evening bell, and after that the dark; and may there be no sorrow of farewell, when I embark; when I embark! When I embark; may there be no sorrow of farewell, when I embark. For though from out the bounds of Time and Space, the tide may bear me far; I hope to see my pilot face to face, when I have crossed the shoal. When I have crossed the shoal! When I have crossed the shoal; I hope to see my pilot face to face, when I have crossed the shoal. When I have crossed the shoal! When I have crossed the shoal; I hope to see my pilot face to face, when I have crossed the shoal."
"That's not a song about sailing," Tobirama points out quietly, forehead resting against Madara's shoulder. The metaphors are a little unusual, but he's spent enough time with Uzumaki to know what all those words mean and can grasp the sentiment behind them.
"No, it's not," his wife agrees quietly. "But it rings true despite that."
That is a song about dying, the hope for a peaceful death and the reaching beyond it to grasp the guiding hand of the divine. It aches, a bittersweet pain that is half-grief, half-longing.
"Did you write it?"
"It's adapted from a poem," his wife murmurs, not quite answering his question. "I fiddled it rather."
So yes she did write it, ostensibly, although the original concept is not hers. "Why that song?"
"It's what I want for my brother," his wife says quietly. "A gentle ending and a long enough life before it that the departure is not bitter with sorrow, along with the hope that he shall find a new path beyond it."
"Is that what your kami promised you?"
"A gentle ending after a long life?" She sounds amused. "Not even slightly. A guiding hand, firm support through my sorrows and a clear course to the end were what I was promised, along with the assurance of joyful rest beyond it, and that's plenty."
"A pilot you will see after the final crossing," Tobirama murmurs, grasping more clearly the promise of that line.
"Yes. But that time is not here yet, so there is much to do."
"So what is your plan for your brother's sleepwalking habit?" Tobirama asks, aware that Madara is now awake and listening.
"It is as embarrassing as a little sister scheme should be," Izuna says primly, tugging on her brother's braid, "but I am confident that it will work very well indeed, at least until you find a nice partner to settle down and share your futon with, Nii-chan."
Madara stays sprawled limply over Izuna's lap, but his ears and the back of his neck flush pink.
"Oh?" Tobirama asks, interested. Evidently his wife is balancing her deep and genuine concern against the natural sibling desire for vengeance over the fright her brother has given her and has found a comfortable middle ground.
"My Nii-chan," Izuna says gleefully, "is going to get a nice big cuddle pillow, which I will put fuuinjutsu on so it feels like a person. Probably like me, seeing as it is me he's so fixated on. Scent and blood-heat and heartbeat as well as chakra feel, probably; that should be enough to fool his sleeping brain that I've not abandoned him." Her grin is toothy and vindictive. "I will be sure to give it a face and one of my nightshirts to wear as well."
Tobirama sniggers at the mental image painted; Madara's chakra takes on a distinctly pained cast, which is frankly an improvement on the earlier gloom.
"You are an affliction, imōto," he grumbles, letting go of her and shuffling himself over so he's lying on his back over her legs to pout up at her face, red lines pressed into his cheek and jaw from the folds of her juban.
"You deserve me," Izuna retorts, sickly-sweet. "Now let me unbind your chakra and have a think how we're going to explain to the joiners why the bedroom shōji of my concubine's room looks like somebody tried to break in for some nefarious purpose."
Madara covers his face with both hands, ears going redder. "I hate you, Ii-chan," he whines, muffled chakra squirming with how embarrassed he is.
"If you're very good I will lie and say that you tripped over while sleepwalking with your sword," Izuna says, tone making it very clear there will be a hefty price for this mercy as her hands work and her brother's chakra ripples, expanding beyond his skin like a flash-fire then receding again to its usual controlled burn, "but I am going to make it clear to the entire clan what my solution to this particular problem is, because I really do not want you invading my private time with Tobirama ever again unless there's an actual emergency, Madara."
Madara rolls off Izuna's legs entirely to face-plant on the futon, limbs sprawled like an ungainly corpse. "Hn."
"I'm so glad you agree with me, Nii-chan. Be grateful the sheets have been changed since the last time we had sex in here."
Madara groans loudly and slaps his hands over his ears, then staggers to his feet and out of the bedroom fusuma towards the bathhouse. Tobirama sits up, enjoying the distinctly smug flavour to his wife's chakra.
"I'm going to put more security on the house as well, Treasure," Izuna promises quietly, leaning back to rest her head on his shoulder as he wraps his arms around her waist. "I want you to be able to sleep confidently."
"Thank you." He's not sure how much it will help, but he does appreciate it. Having people come at him with a sword while he's asleep in bed is not his idea of fun, and this is the second time it's happened in less than half a year.