Madara lay on the floor, staring at the ceiling and burning a figurative hole through it. He attempted to sit upright, but failed miserably. Lilith had maneuvered her way onto his chest in her sleep and was now using him as her personal mattress. The all-night decoration spree had tired her out and now she was reaping the effects of such an endeavor. He couldn't find it in himself to move her.
"Oh how the mighty have fallen…" he thought sardonically. "I've killed hundreds of people and I've fought with Hashirama for a full day straight. How can I not move one woman off my chest?"
He frowned when her head nuzzled further into his ribcage. He truly had no idea what to do in this situation. He silently wished he had listened to his mother more often when it came to the topic of women. He was completely inexperienced on how to act around them or how to converse with them, much less American women. He sighed, placing his hand on her head. He eyed her peaceful expression and scowled when he remembered her words.
"I want the person I care about most to love me. But I know he never will."
Who was it? He racked his brain to figure out that mystery. He hadn't been involved with her personal life much, so the possibilities were endless. He already dismissed himself as one of those options. She would never love a murderer. She was too sensible for something like that. While it was a rational reason she would have, he found himself...troubled by that fact.
"No! Snap out of it! This is madness!" he mentally scolded himself. "You are an Uchiha! You are not jealous and you do not care about her!"
"…Who am I kidding?" he muttered, turning his attention back to Lilith. "How did you manage to worm your way into my life and become such a significant part of it?"
He got no response. Instead, she increased her grip on his shirt. He tightened his hold on her form as he lay his head back down on the floor.
"I will protect you," he swore to her immobile form. "And this time, I will keep my word."
I was so warm and comfortable. I didn't want to leave the couch. However, I knew that there was no way in hell that my couch was this comfy nor did it smell like forest trees and ginger. I struggled to open my eyes, attempting to see what I had fallen asleep on. I jolted when I spotted Madara looking at me in the eye. He smirked at the deep blush that came across my face when I realized I was on his chest.
"Good morning," he jokingly greeted.
I shrieked, immediately pulling away from him. I was breathing harshly as my heart pounded fiercely against my chest. How stupid was I to fall asleep on Madara Uchiha!? EXTREMELY SO, YOU IDIOT! I began smashing my fists against my head, reprimanding myself for my utter stupidity. One does not fall asleep on a ninja; it's common sense, you moron!
I felt two hands take hold of mine, stopping me from hitting myself. Once he let go, I turned around and bowed to him.
"I am so sorry!" I apologized. "I didn't mean to fall asleep on you!"
"It's alright," he said. "Staying up twenty-four hours does that you."
I raised an eyebrow at him. It was rare for him to be understanding. I briefly wondered what caused him to say that. Madara opened his mouth to say something else, but he was interrupted by the sound of my doorbell ringing. I quickly rushed to the door, opening it to reveal a decked out BaD. She held a gift in her arms, wore a Santa hat on her head, and was dressed in elf clothes.
"Joy to the world, the Beth has come~!" she jokingly sang. "Merry Christmas, Lil!"
"Merry Christmas, Bethany," I replied with a smile, taking the gift from her before she walked in.
"Merry Christmas, Uchiha-sama!" BaD cheered as she tackle-glomped Madara.
Madara merely grunted his displeasure at her actions, pushing her away from him once she loosened her grip. Beth turned to me, hopping in place like a giddy child.
"Open it, open it, open it!" she demanded as she pointed to the gift in my hand.
I decided to satisfy her plea, tearing right through the paper. I let out a sharp squeal of delight, hugging the DVD to my chest as if it was a missing puzzle piece to the picture of my life.
"It's Frozen!" I shouted happily. "I wanted to see this again for sooooo long! Thank you, Beth!"
She rubbed her nose, looking quite proud of herself. "I figured it would be a good choice since you're such a big Disney lover. I remember back in the day you wanted to be a princess so that your Prince Charming could cart you off to his magical kingdom of wonder and happiness."
"It was a childhood dream that never will be realized," I sighed. "Kate Middleton was blessed when she fell in love and she basically became a princess. I know I'll never get that lucky."
"Hey, love comes from strange places. Your true love could be staring you right in the face without you realizing it; or even if you do realize it, you don't want to acknowledge it."
"Blond one," I heard Madara say. "May I speak to you? Alone?"
Beth perked up. "Oh sure! No problem! Is there something you want to ask?"
He said nothing, taking hold of her arm and dragging her off to a different room in the house. Jasper the cat was going to get killed again. The curiosity became too much for me, so I quietly trailed after them. I stood in the hallway, straining my ears to listen in on whatever they were going to say.
"So, what is it?" asked BaD.
"As much as I loathe asking others for help, I'm afraid I have no choice in this situation," I heard Madara growl under his breath.
"Wait…the great Madara Uchiha is asking me for help!? My life is partially complete!"
"Will you focus, you moron!?"
"Alright, alright!" Beth replied. "What is it you wanted help on?"
There was a pause. "Well…I, uh…it's Christmas and Lilith told me that people give gifts to the ones they care about. So…I was wondering…"
"Let me guess: you want to give Lilith a gift but you have no idea what to get her, much less how to get it without stealing it, am I right?"
There was another pause, so I assumed he had nodded reluctantly.
"Wow…I never thought I'd see the day where Madara Uchiha came to care for someone other than himself. I'm shocked, really."
"I may be a shinobi, but I still have some humanity left in me," he snapped.
"Well, there are the usual cheesy gifts men give their girls: flowers, chocolates, beauty products; the list goes on. But for your case, I think you should give her something from the heart."
"The best kinds of gifts aren't the ones you can buy at a store and cover up in fancy wrapping. They're the ones that come from the soul."
"…I'm still confused."
"Just spending time with the ones you love or sharing a special event together to convey how important someone is to you; gifts from the soul. Understand?"
There was another pause before I heard Beth let out an exasperated shout.
"You're considered one of the greatest ninja to walk the earth, but you don't have any idea when it comes to dealing with women or romance!? What's wrong with you!?"
"I don't deal with women often!" he retorted. "How am I supposed to know what you Americans think and feel when I barely understood females back home?"
"You, sir, need to be schooled in the art of romance!" Beth declared. "I gotta break out Lilith's Disney DVDs and make you watch them so you can at least get an idea of what she would like!"
"No!" he exclaimed. "They're so...overly happy."
"Just consider watching one with her. She would be happy with that. Watching a movie together is infinitely better than watching it alone."
I heard Madara groan before the sound of a palm making contact with a forehead sounded out. I walked away, feeling I had heard enough. I was touched that he actually cared enough to consider getting me a gift. I personally didn't care if he did give me something or not. I was happy enough with the feelings I felt for him. Even if he never returned those feelings and even if I was miserable for the rest of my days, I would still have an idea of what true happiness was.
I placed the DVD down on the couch, making a mental note to watch it later. Madara and Beth returned to the living room, the former looking rather annoyed while the latter looked as happy as a clam. I raised an eyebrow at the suspiciously large grin on BaD's face. Whenever she smiled really big like that, she usually had something devious in mind. One time she smiled like that, a bully who picked on me when I was young got kicked off the monkey-bars at school. I could only imagine what was going on in her mind at that moment.
"Well, I gotta get going now," she said, walking by me and heading towards the door. "By the way, I'm having a New Year's party at my house. If you want to come and bring Madara, I'll be fine with that."
"Oooookay…?" I replied confusedly. "Have a good Christmas?"
"You too!" she said before leaving out the door.
If I ever felt more confused than I did when Madara first arrived in my life, it was right then and there. BaD had something planned and I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. I redirected my attention to Madara, who was crossing his arms and looked like he had just chewed on nails. He seemed…anxious for some weird reason. What did Beth say to him when I went out of earshot?
"Lilith?" he began quietly.
"It's Christmas Day, correct?"
"Yeeeeeah…where are you going with this?"
"Well…I was assuming you would be doing something today since—"
"Yeah," I said, cutting him off. "I was thinking about spending today with my parents. Why do you ask?"
"I…that is, I mean to say…"
He sighed deeply, as if he couldn't figure out how to voice his thoughts. It was quite cute actually; it was like he was a shy schoolboy attempting to ask his crush to the prom.
"I would like to spend today…with you," he finally managed to say.
There was a brief silence as my mind slowly comprehended the words. "…HUH!?"
"I can't make it any clearer, you idiot…" he snapped, a blush briefly flashing across his face before it disappeared. "Use those ears of yours for once."
"No, I heard you perfectly! It's just…I wasn't expecting it from you," I said, poking my fingers together awkwardly. "I figured you would have wanted to stay away from me after yesterday."
"Why would you think that?"
"Well…just the fact that you're antisocial and prefer to be alone. Not to mention you're probably sick of my idiocy and incompetence."
"I find your idiocy bearable."
"Oh, thanks…" I sarcastically stated, narrowing my eyes at him.
"What? That was a compliment!"
I palmed my face. "You really are a hopeless case…"
"What!? What'd I say?"
"You may be kinder than when I first met you, but you're still a jerk," I said, walking away from him.
"EH!?" he exclaimed. "Lilith! Don't just walk away! What did I say!?"
"Normally, honesty is a good thing for a man to have. But in your case, it's a double-edged sword," I explained, looking back at him. "You need to learn to watch what you say."
He gave me a perplexed look, probably still wondering what it was he did wrong. I shook my head at him, smirking a bit. It was nice to know he was still naïve in some aspects of life. It cemented the fact that he wasn't as perfect as he thought he was.
"You know…now that I think about it, I really don't know much about you," I mused aloud. "It's also true vice versa; I'm sure you don't know much about me."
"Do you want to spend today…just getting to know each other better?" I proposed. "I've never really asked you about Konoha or your personal life and I'm not the type of person to snoop around the internet like Beth. I'd rather hear it from you."
He ran a hand through his raven-colored locks, pursing his lips in frustration. He let out a sigh, giving me that soft look he seemed to only show around me.
"Alright…" he said.
"Great!" I squealed, snatching his arm and dragging him to the couch.
I had been waiting for the moment when he would reveal more about himself. I wanted to know everything: his family, his village, his ideals, his clan, and the ever mentioned "idiot" he dealt with. I sat down on the couch, yanking his arm to bring him down next to me. He gave me an odd look as I placed my elbows on my knees and held my head in palms, waiting for him to begin his tale.
"You seem overly enthusiastic," he noted as he gave me the stink eye.
"How can I not be?" I countered, giving him a smile. "I want you to tell me as much as you're willing to tell me. In return, I'll tell you about me. Fair deal, right?"
He shrugged. "…I suppose."
"Tell me about this 'idiot' you keep referring to! That's been bugging me the most!"
"That 'idiot' happens to be my friend Hashirama."
"The same friend you formed Konoha with?"
"He sounds like he's an interesting person."
"You call someone who gets depressive moods swings interesting?"
"Of course. I have Bethany Dale for a best friend. You can't get more bizarre than her."
He smirked. "I suppose so. The blonde one is definitely one of the strangest people I have met. Not one person greets me in the same way that she does."
"What about Izuna?"
A dark shadow drifted over him as he lowered his gaze. His bangs seemed to hide the inner torment he felt inside. I immediately regretted what I had said.
"I'm sorry for bringing him up! Forget I said anything!" I hastily apologized. "It's just…you've mentioned him a few times. I know he was very precious to you. You must have loved him dearly."
"…I did," he replied quietly. "But I…"
"Look…whatever happened, I'm sure he wouldn't have wanted you to blame yourself."
He said nothing, still looking dejected.
"You know…I'm sure you did your best to protect him. So why don't you move on?"
He jerked his head towards me, giving me an angry look. I winced at the intense fire burning in his visible eye, but I held my ground. I began twirling my hair in an effort to relieve the tension I was feeling.
"I just don't want to see you suffer anymore," I said honestly. "I know we can never forget and sometimes we may never forgive, but we all need to learn to move forward in life. The past is in the past and we can't do anything to change that; we live and we learn."
I turned my head, looking Madara straight in the eye. "Don't hurt yourself by thinking about the things you could have done. Live for Izuna in the here and now. Make a new start for yourself. Discover what it is that is most important to you."
"…I think…I already know what's most important to me," he said with a soft, but sincere voice.
"Well, that's a start! Cling to that reason and live for it!" I shouted cheerfully. "Create a dream focused around that important thing and go all the way to achieve it!"
"A dream, you say? What's your dream?" he asked.
"Well…" I said, a blush forming on my face. "Once I get my degree, I'm gonna find a man and start a family. After all, I promised Phoebe."
I smiled sadly. "Yes. It was her last wish for me before she died. 'Live a long and happy life. Hold onto your dreams. And find the one just for you and only you. Find someone that will hold you close to his heart, just like I held you close to him with all your soul. Love him just like I loved you. After all, isn't life wonderful?'; those were her exact words. I remember them clearly even if the rest of my memory of that day is hazy."
"She sounds like she was quite the sister."
"Oh, I know she sounds all nice and sweet like candy when I talk about her, but believe me when I say she was everything but."
He raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"
"She teased me every day. She would play pranks, she would get filthy and wouldn't care, and she took crap from no one. She was a real tomboy, through and through. She got into trouble often and she wasn't exactly the brightest bulb in the closet either, if you get what I mean. But she was my sister. We did everything together. Even when I got angry with her, I loved her to bits."
I sighed. "I really miss her at times, but she wouldn't have wanted me to mourn her forever. I know I won't ever forget the pain or the sorrow, but I can move on from it. I want you to be able to do the same; live your life without that grief holding you back."
"Live for the thing that's most important to me…" he repeated, seemingly deep in thought.
"Aaaaaanyway…" I drawled, deciding to change the subject. "What's Konoha like?"
"Konoha? It's still far from finished, but we've set up a number of houses for everyone to live in. Hashirama helped with supplying the wood necessary for all those buildings."
"He must be strong."
"If only you knew," he replied knowingly. "There's also a school being built for children aspiring to become shinobi."
"You teach kids how to kill people!? Haven't you ever heard that 'innocence is bliss'!?"
"They're learning self-defense," he reasoned. "Despite the fact that the village is a safe haven for civilians and shinobi alike, there are still those who would try to upset that. Everyone must be prepared should the inevitable happen."
"I suppose you're right," I huffed. "Doesn't mean I approve of it though…"
"Once a child is fully capable of holding their own they are considered an adult, no matter their age."
"Well here in America, a child isn't considered an adult until they hit age eighteen," I snapped. "Children are a special gift and they are the future of the world. Driving kids to their deaths is inexcusable."
"Hashirama thought the same thing," he said. "That's the main reason he strove to create Konoha: so children wouldn't have to die needless deaths."
"Well, it's nice to know there are sensible ninja like you in your home," I said, standing up and began heading towards the kitchen. "Hopefully Konoha remains a safe haven for those kids."
I turned back to him. "Hm?"
He got off the couch and walked up to me. "I…don't want to do anything to hurt you. I hope you realize that."
"I wish you could have said the same thing when we first met," I responded dryly, looking up at him. "It would have made things a whole lot easier on me. I had those bruises for a good week."
I then stiffened when I saw it. Anger flared through my being and a bright blush appeared on my face. Madara raised an eyebrow at me before looking up at the ceiling too. A small batch of mistletoe had been hung precariously there. I pointed at the offending object.
"Not today!" I snapped at it, as if the mistletoe could hear my words. "There's no one around to force me! I will not fall for your evil tricks!"
"What's wrong?" Madara asked me.
"I am going to kill Beth for this! This was not here before she came over!" I muttered to myself. I then took a breath to calm myself, though the blush on my face hadn't receded. "She had to place it here of all places…"
"What is it?"
"It's mistletoe. According to Christmas tradition, when a man and a woman stand under a batch of mistletoe…they're…supposed to…um…"
"Supposed to what?"
"Gah! I can't say it! It's too stupid!" I yelled, pulling on my hair in frustration.
"Just tell me."
"Well…they're supposed to kiss each other…" I explained with a strained voice as I crossed my arms. "Beth, you sneaky bitch! I'm not falling for it! No one's here to coax me into doing it! I'm not gonna embarrass myself or you with—"
I was cut off when I felt lips press against mine. It took a few seconds before my mind registered it was Madara who was kissing me. One of his hands was by my chin, lifting it up slightly for him to have better access to my mouth. The only thing that went through my mind was "oh god, he's kissing me!"
I jerked away from him, a mad blush flushing across my face. He seemed confused by my actions, but my mind was in a whirl. I wasn't thinking clearly. I had the sudden desire to flee. I bolted, heading straight for my room. I slammed the door shut and quickly locked it. I dove under the ginger-scented covers, hiding under them as I attempted to get a hold on the maelstrom that was my mental state.
I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. Madara Uchiha stole my first kiss. He had to be teasing me again. He was ninja, so he was fully capable of lying through his teeth without me knowing. I don't want to hurt you, my ass. He'd leave my life as soon as possible if the opportunity to return to Konoha was available. The universe was working against my existence once again, making me suffer from emotional distress all the time.
I heard a resounding click from my lock, causing me to frown. I swore I had locked that door. I heard footsteps come closer. The bed squeaked as another human body sat down on it. I gripped the covers over my head even tighter, tears coming down my face in rivers. I hated feeling confused. I liked the kiss, but I hated it because of the circumstance behind it. I had a feeling that I loved him, but my mind constantly told me it would never work. It was irrational to feel love for someone you barely knew. I was caught on the precipice of logic and fantasy. I was conditioned to follow through with logic in the end. Reason made the world go round. Rationality is what drove us to make decisions.
The covers were quickly snatched from my grip and thrown to the side of the bed. I buried my face into the mattress. I didn't want Madara to see I was an emotional wreck again.
"Was it really that bad?" he asked.
"No…" I replied, though it came out muffled. "I don't know what to think or feel anymore…"
"Don't ever do that again…ever…" I said, lifting my head up from the bedspread. "It's bad enough I feel for someone that will never love me. Don't make it worse by doing things you don't mean."
"Just go!" I snapped. "Leave me alone."
"I did mean it, you idiot!"
I just raised an eyebrow at him, giving him a skeptical look. He glared at me, frowning at how difficult I was being.
"You don't believe me," he stated.
"Hell no," I answered. "You're a ninja. You're a skilled liar. You expect me to believe that you actually meant to kiss me other than it was just your duty to because of the mistletoe?"
"You are such a troublesome woman sometimes," he said, standing up and picking up a kunai knife that was on the floor. I assumed he had used it to pick the lock on my door. "I meant what I said. I don't want to hurt you, whether through my actions or my words. What do I have to do to prove that to you?"
"Something drastic, I'll tell you that much," I said harshly.
He focused on the knife in his hand. There seemed to be an enlightened look in his eyes, but his expression spoke differently. He grabbed hold of his hair in one hand, pulling it over his shoulder in one big bunch. He held the knife under the raven locks, his hand shaking hesitantly. I sat myself up on the bed, feeling a bit shocked. Was he going to do what I thought he was going to do?
"What are you doing?" I asked.
My answer was the sound of metal cutting through locks of hair. I felt my eyes widen as I saw the black tresses fall to my floor. It coated a good portion of my blue-grey carpet. Madara was gripping the kunai tightly in his hand. He scowled as he turned back towards me.
"Was that drastic enough for you, servant girl?" he asked scornfully.
I had no answer; I was too busy gaping at him and his now short hair. It now reached just above his shoulders and was uneven as fuck. The bangs on the left side of his face seemed so overgrown compared to the rest of his hair. It was a complete hair-don't to put it simply. I stood up, walking over to him. I ran my fingers through his now overly long bangs before reaching his face. I placed my hand against his cheek.
"Beth is going to murder me for several lifetimes once she finds out about this. Your hair was beautiful."
"It's hair. It'll grow back," he scoffed.
"Madara? You really do…?"
"I'm a shinobi and a murderer, but that doesn't mean I'm heartless," he said, taking hold of my hand. "Do you believe my words now?"
"I believe you," I said, smiling a little at him.
Hashirama sighed from atop Hokage Mountain, looking over the village he and his childhood friend had formed together. He wanted some time alone to sort his thoughts. Six months of searching and absolutely nothing had revealed anything towards the missing Uchiha's whereabouts. His childhood friend was gone and Tobirama had suggested they call off the search for "a dead man". Hashirama shook his head. While he did as his brother asked, he himself would never give up. Nothing clouded the small ray of hope in his mind that believed Madara was still alive; somewhere far away and out of his reach, but alive.
He moaned, a large miserable cloud hovering over his figure. This entire mess had to have been his fault. It was shortly after he had spoken to Madara about naming him Hokage that he disappeared. Madara must have known of the distrust everyone felt towards him. Was this his sadistic way of giving payback? Leaving the village without a trace seemed quite unlike him. Madara was the type to show off, not leave quietly.
It was such a horrible time for him to go missing too. He had just found the courage to propose to Mito Uzumaki. He had silently hoped Madara would have been there to help him through that awkward time of debating his romantic feelings for her. Madara was just as clueless with the female species as he was. They would have been incompetent together, making him feel less insecure about making such a decision. Now here he was, planning his wedding with Mito and Madara wasn't there to congratulate him in his typical Uchiha fashion that Hashirama had come to miss.
"Madara…forgive me for being such a shortsighted fool," he said aloud, as if hoping his friend would hear his words.
Much to his shock, he got a reply; but not the reply he had wanted. Several loud bangs resonated through the air and he felt several objects pierce through his body corresponding to those bangs. They all sounded out from distant parts of the forests surrounding Konoha. The pain exploded all at once, causing him to fall to his knees. He could feel his blood staining the Hokage robes he wore around his form. The pain soon numbed along with the rest of his senses.
"Another one down," he heard an unfamiliar voice announce as they walked closer to him. "The boss will be most pleased."
He wasn't sure what the male meant by that. He didn't really have time to comprehend it either since his legs gave out, causing him to fall to the ground helplessly. His whole body felt like a sack of garbage and his mind felt lethargic. His blurry eyes turned as far as they could to see who had issued the attack. He saw blue pants and black shoes unlike any he had ever seen before. A rough hand grabbed a fistful of his hair, turning his head enough so he could look the assassin in the eye. The man wore some sort of formal clothing, a small pin attached to his upper right pectoral region. He recognized the symbols that were on that pin: a half circle, a line, and an arch. The man himself had ungodly white hair, was exceedingly pale, and had deep red eyes that could rival the Uchiha's Sharingan in intensity.
"Thankfully, unlike your friend, I don't have to worry about any eye techniques from you, oh great Hokage," the man spitefully sneered. "Those sedated bullets will prevent you from using those fancy ninja moves of yours. Without your jutsu and speed, you are nothing but a pitiful man like the rest of us, Hashirama Senju."
Hashirama was thoroughly confused. What were "bullets"? He assumed the man meant the sharp objects that had pierced through his body more painfully than any kunai he had felt before. And friend? Was he the cause of Madara's disappearance? Did this man do something similar to Madara? He felt a surge of anger course through his veins. He wished he could have acted out on it if his body didn't feel so heavy.
"Who are you?" he managed to cough out, blood seeping out of his mouth now.
"Who I am doesn't matter. What does matter is you," he answered. "Your friend managed to slip out of our hands due to a marginal error we were not expecting in our department, but you will not be so lucky; that I can assure you."
The fog over his eyes expanded and the sounds of the man's voice were drowning out. The effect of the sedatives in the "bullets" became too much for him. He felt himself falling into an endless pit of darkness.
Speaking of being murdered for several lifetimes…*ducks underneath a manhole to hide from seething fangirls* Please don't kill me! I know Madara's hair is gorgeous, but my mind is evil! It wanted to do it and I couldn't resist! Despite that, I do have many issues with this chapter...
Madara strikes me as the character that knows everything about anything…except women and romance. Hence, we have him learning it the hard way. And what has happened to Hashirama? Who is this new enemy that has shown itself to the Hokage? Stay tuned for the next chapter! As always, please review and thank you for your continued support!