Under the Rabbit Moon
Recap: "Tobirama?" He arched a single brow. "What are you doing here?"
"I thought it was obvious. You're only going to grow so much if you're only exposed to your own techniques. You lack variety."
Sakura ducked her head, eyes narrowed. She felt suspicion in her bones and it made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. He was poised for combat, dressed for a mission, waiting for her outside the forest of death.
"I'm here to train with you and I don't plan on dancing."
Sakura slouched against the tree trunk and then started to laugh at how sore she was all over. The sight of Tobirama across from her, looking only a fraction less winded made her soul sing. "Look at you," she gasped in delight.
"Of course!" Sakura let herself fall down onto her rump, not minding that she was too tired to stay upright in front of him. Her hair was a little messy, half hanging out of the braid she had put it into hours earlier. "I haven't been able to do so well yet."
"It was only a matter of time," Tobirama explained. "You know techniques well, but your body just needed to adapt to better suit them."
"Still…" Sakura closed her eyes and let the words trail off unfinished until the chirping of birds returned. When the bees came back she opened her eyes and found Tobirama wiping the sweat off his brow. "It's only one win against your hundreds."
"For now," Sakura agreed, thinking Tobirama too kind for how serious he normally was with his words.
They had been sparring for several weeks together, and Tobirama was a cruel teacher. Sakura had thought Tsunade vicious but now she knew where the Senju got her monstrous mentality from. Tobirama had been honest with her when he said he would not go easy on her. He had been fair and adjusted so that she was not overwhelmed right from the start, but he never let her feel like she was being catered to or teased. It was night and day compared to how Hashirama had trained with her. Tobirama wasn't scared of breaking her.
The Senju lifted his head and took a step closer to where she sat, one hand untying the stings around his arm gauntlet until it came undone. He looked at her with an open expression, encouraging her to speak.
"Why did you agree to help me?"
"To help you train?" he clarified.
Sakura nodded. "You didn't have to. I didn't ask you. Why?"
"Because I love you."
The dragonflies flew overhead and Sakura could hear the leaves brush up against each other as a breeze moved through the rest around them. There was still the smell of sweat and dirt heavy in the air between them, but there was a lazy sort of atmosphere that settled between them after their exhaustive set of sparring rounds.
Sakura swallowed and then nodded. "What…does that mean for you?"
Tobirama looked away and then crossed in front of Sakura before sitting down, legs crossed lotus style like he intended to stay in front of her for a while. "I love you. It is as simple and complicated as that. For others, I understand there are other motives and desires that come next, but for me, this is all there is."
"What do you mean?" Sakura asked.
She suspected and she had heard it from his brother, but she wanted to hear Tobirama tell her plainly where he stood. She knew where Izuna stood, he had been the first to confess, and her night with Hashirama and Madara wasn't something she could so easily forget.
"Plainly?" he asked.
"Plainly," she nodded.
"I love you. I want to be with you. I want to kiss you, to hold your hand, to hug you, and be beside you when we walk down the street. I don't want…" he looked away and then cast his eyes down to the space between them before lifting his chin again and staring at her through his bangs. "I do not have any confidence in myself to take it further."
"You don't want to have sex with me."
Tobirama flushed but Sakura wasn't sure if it was because of her boldness or the truth of her assessment.
"I do not want to have sex with anyone. I have never had that appetite and I had always assumed that I wouldn't…develop a taste for the more carnal side of my human nature with another person, man or woman. I never expected to fall in love."
Sakura sat up a little and folded her legs so that she sat in the same lotus position. He smiled fondly when she leaned towards him with an open expression. Hesitantly he reached for her hand and she reached back, letting him take it.
"Thank you for talking to me about this. I want to hear everything you have to say."
Tobirama quirked a brow. "No holding back?"
"No holding back."
He made a sound of understanding and there was a new light that came into his scarlet eyes when he watched her. It was different from how he watched her across the field during practice or during their sparring sets. His look could be cold and hard, a suit of armor, or soft and inviting, a fur cloak to warm up in out of the cold.
"I hadn't intended to let you know, and I was mad with Hashirama when I heard he had let it slip, but maybe I shouldn't have been. If I couldn't satisfy you as a man I didn't want to try and woo you no matter how painful it was to realize how deep these feelings of mine ran. It wasn't fair to chase you with an inadequate promise."
Sakura frowned and ran her thumb over the side of his hand where he held her. "What do you mean by inadequate?"
His eyes lowered. "I can't have sex with you. It's not something I can force either. I can't give you children and I can't bring you pleasure."
"That's not something that makes you inadequate," Sakura said with an edge to her voice, tugging on his hand so he looked at her. "You're not less because of this, Tobirama."
"I know. If you took Hashirama into consideration or even the Uchiha brothers-"
Sakura tugged a little hard on his hand to get him to stop. "No, I don't mean you're not inadequate because of other people. I mean it no matter what. Tobirama, look at me." When he didn't Sakura lifted his chin with her fingers. "You are not less worthy of love because you don't want to have sex. You are not incomplete and you are not inadequate. I don't care who else there is, but even if it was just you in a wide, empty word, it wouldn't change how I'd feel about you. Your brother doesn't change things."
Tobirama held her stare for a moment longer before sighing and slumping forward until his hair tickled her nose and she pulled him the rest of the way over until his forehead was on her shoulder and her hands were encircling his back.
"Why did you make me fall in love with you like this?" he asked in a quiet voice.
"Sorry," Sakura laughed, pulling him closer. "I wish you would never doubt yourself like this. Truly. You're perfect just the way you are…though I'd appreciate less bickering between you and Izuna. I can see how different the two of you are but…"
"He's not so terrible, but admitting that to him would make him insufferable," Tobirama grumbled, turning his face to the side she he could look up at her. "But thank you."
Sakura bit her lip and nodded, scratching at his skull through the tangle of his wild hair. "But I haven't even told you my answer."
"You have't told anyone their answer, have you?"
Sakura made a dissatisfied sound. "I know I'm being selfish in delaying it so long but, I don't want to rush into something so new and make a mistake."
"You're not being selfish. This is a big decision," Tobirama said before closing his eyes and turning his face back into her shoulder. He inhaled and seemed to relax from the scent even though Sakura complained about being sweaty and dirty.
"I'm having dinner with Izuna soon. I can talk to him about it before I bring it up around the others maybe. He…I had asked him to talk to your brother about it, actually."
Tobirama hummed. "He might have mentioned it, but it would be better if you were the one who addressed this, since it is about you. Be responsible, Sakura."
"I thought you said you were in love with me."
"I love you, flaws and all, but I still will correct the errors in your stance and holes in your form. I'm not blind and I want to help you be your best self just as you have helped me be my best self."
Sakura smiled coyly to herself. "Thank you for that."
Tobirama kissed her shoulder. "Of course."
Summer was gone, but in the land of Fire, autumn came with less chill and more food. It also made heatstroke less prevalent and Sakura's job as director of the hospital a little easier.
She managed to balance all her job's responsibilities with her training and all the council meetings she could afford to attend. Her days were tightly packed, but not so much that she had to cut out her evenings socializing over dinner with friends and family. It was a personal priority that she not give up her time with the Senju and Uchiha males since their confessions. She was still a bit on the fence about moving forward, but she knew she needed to move, and that her inability to match them in terms of skill was turning into a paper thin excuse.
"Did you get a chance to speak with Hashirama?" Sakura asked aver another set of side dishes she moved across the table to make room for her drink.
Izuna sighed, shoulders going slack. "It's exhausting trying to talk to him about some things. He's too optimistic about everything we discuss."
Sakura hummed sympathetically. "I'm sorry I pushed that onto you. I mentioned it to him but then he took it like I had already made up my mind and it was not a fruitful discussion after that."
"How is he a functional Hokage if he can't even have a discussion about something so basic and personal?" Izuna bemoaned. "He knows the Hyuga clan is going to get pissed, doesn't he? They're patriarchal in nature and have done the same thing, but just with sister wives. They're rotten about it though if you ask me. The Uchiha managed to have offspring in the same family from multiple sires but do you see us creating a branch house system of slaves? No."
"The Hyuga are a problem for more than one reason. If there is any issue with their branch members integrating into the village they'll use this as ammunition against the Hokages being biased," Sakura sighed. She poked at some of her for with her chopsticks before moving it onto Izuna's dish to try. In turn he exchanged one of his foods from his side of the table for her to try.
"They don't strike me as the power hungry type. They're just horribly entitled and want to have their way in everything without assuming any of the responsibility. Bigots, the lot of them."
"You're kind, Izuna."
He chuckled, flushing more from her words and less from her drink. "You're the only one who says that and means it."
"I appreciate you having these conversations, even when I'm not present at the council meetings. Honestly, I think you actually get more done and hear more of what's said when I'm absent."
"I wouldn't mind if you were there more often. Unlike some, I know how to balance work and pleasure."
Sakura snorted back a laugh, remembering too well how easily Hashirama, or even Madara on occasion, could become distracted by her insights during such meetings. "Pff, work and pleasure? What is that even?"
Izuna set aside his chopsticks and stared across the table at Sakura, dark eyes soft for her. "What we're hoping to achieve isn't a mere fairytale. It'll be hard work to make this relationship successful as a legit partnership. I'm not sure it should even be a public thing considering Madara and Hashirama's positions. People will think unkindly of you."
"Then let them think. If they challenge any of us formally we will address it as best we can, but rumors are beyond our power now." She sighed deeply. "The people have a right to question those in power. I don't want our people to grow up blindly following their leaders with guilt and doubt locked deep in their hearts. Transparency is the only way we'll make anything that lasts."
"But…to what end? You want them to question and know what we do in the bedroom?"
Sakura flushed darkly. "No, not to that extent."
Izuna swallowed before reaching for his drink to down it all. "I don't want them to talk about you unkindly. I don't want them to talk about you at all."
Sakura remembered Tsunade, and the memory settled into her mind like a lead weight at the bottom of a riverbed. It was heavy and blurry but there. There was no end to the rumors and negative words people had for their first and only female Hokage. Everything that she had was something she worked for, in spite of the act she put up for the greater audience.
Her Senju ancestry helped some, but apart from that people only saw fit to find fault with her taking the position. Many of the original council only wanted her because they thought she would be someone they could easily manipulate or use. That had been their mistake.
"I know a little something about criticism, and I think that if you have a strong foundation and a strong support group around you, none of that noise matters," Sakura said, watching as Izuna finished his drink and smacked his lips for the last bit of taste. His eyes found hers, but there was a familiar haze to the edges of his irises. Color rose high oh his cheeks.
Sakura laughed at Izuna's hopeful expression. "Yes, of course."
The younger Uchiha's face went a little slack and he leaned across the low table, almost unconsciously, to get closer. "I really want to kiss you now."
Sakura's heart fluttered in her chest. "The wine has made you bold."
"Your face is making me bold. It's such a kissable face."
Sakura eyed the empty wine dish and noticed his jug on its side, completely emptied. Oh, and he had been doing so well up until just now. Sakura was hoping that he might have lasted until Madara came to join them. She didn't want him to show up and find Izuna in tears again or think she was bullying his cute younger brother any more than necessary. (Izuna was very easy to bully with only the most minimal amount of flirting.)
"Izuna, what would your brother say if he came in just now and saw the state you are in?"
Sakura snorted into her hand. "Lucky?" she laughed. "Why so?"
"Cause I am."
Sakura reached for some bread and passed it over, filling a second cup up with water. "Here, eat that and drink your water. Maybe I can salvage some of you for the rest of the night. I'm cutting you off."
"That's a shame," Izuna mumbled. "I get away with a lot more when I'm drunk."
"Being drunk is no excuse for the messes you make while intoxicated, Uchiha san."
Izuna flinched at the change in title and his eyes began to tear up. "Don't be so cold with me, Sakura!"
Sakura moved the water in front of him and pointed to it with a hard look that left no room for argument or complaining. "Drink your water."
"Will you give me a kiss if I do?"
"You're not that far gone."
Izuna sighed and accepted the water but not before mumbling about how it was worth a shot. Sakura chuckled, knowing better than to show him any sympathy. He was a weasel about some things and would have her lowering her defenses far more if the night went according to his plans.
The screen door rolled back with a tired sigh and Madara stepped up, looking tired.
"Sakura!" Hashirama cheerful called to her, ducking under Madara's collar only to get caught and held back by Tobirama.
"More company," Sakura exclaimed. "I'm afraid we might not have enough food here. Let me call for some more."
Madara waved for her to stay seated as he moved around his brother. "No need for that, love. Those two already ate when they decided to tag annoyingly along. They can stay on the wall."
From behind Madara Tobirama smirked at her suspicious gaze.
Sakura frowned at the slope to Madara's shoulders. "What about yourself. You look tired. Here, have some food."
She reached to prepare him a dish to set down in his place, reaching for another pair of chopstick to lay across his plate, only for his hand to grab at her wrist and hold her in place. She looked down at his grip to watch as his fingers shifted around her wrist to turn it over and hold up. Madara bent down and kissed the skin atop her veins, lips feather soft and tender for her. She held her breath for a moment before his lips kissed the center of her palm and then let her go.
"I'm fine, now," he sighed.
"It's the Hyuga again," Hashirama explained from where he sat next to the window, stuffing his pipe. "They've been putting us through the paces for their extra clan members coming in tomorrow."
"They're little better than leaches at this rate," Tobirama grumbled from where he sat, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest. It was rare to hear him complaining about political work, as he dealt with it so rarely.
"But it's done for now," Izuna interrupted, sounding a bit more like himself and less like the soft drunk he knew Sakura would take care of. "The matters are settled for the night and they can complain all they like in the morning, but for now you should all be putting that out of your minds. If you don't you will have no peace."
Madara stared up through his bangs at his brother. "Why are you spouting off such profound nonsense like a wiseman?" he joked.
Izuna smirked, listing his water in a teasing gesture. "I am your shadow, brother. Don't you remember?"
Madara perked up and then glanced behind him, past his shoulder to where Hashirama was smoking out the window. Tobirama looked up, eyes narrowed in a muted sort of suspicion only Sakura could recognize. Only when he saw the way she smiled he relaxed.
"It's something we want to talk to you about," Sakura said, drawing Madara's attention. "With all of you."
Hashirama looked up from his pipe and Tobirama smirked.
"I thought you were surprised to see us?" Tobirama playfully teased.
"Now, later, its all the same. You're not too far gone to forget this in the morning, are you, Izuna?" Sakura asked, turning at last to the younger Uchiha.
"I'll be fine," he mumbled into his water, flushing more in embarrassment and less from the wine he had been drinking.
"Good, I don't want you forgetting what we talked about tonight."
Madara leaned closer to Sakura, head bent and eyes narrowed. "Sakura?"
Hashirama watched her with wide eyes where he sat and Tobirama listened with a knowing look that took over his whole expression. The attention almost made Sakura nervous, but she had been practicing and rehearsing her lines over and over all morning long.
"I know that between brothers you've discussed the possibility of joint or shared matrimony with me, a-and Hashirama and Madara even discussed it, but Izuna and Tobirama, I wanted to hear what your opinion might be on a…on a relationship shared."
Izuna smiled first and played with his chopsticks. "I've done things I'm not proud of with others who weren't lovers and I thought it didn't matter if I didn't care for them as long as it got me ahead. If you are fine with me, I'll love you as honestly as a man can, no matter what else or who else loves you."
Tobirama watched Izuna from his seat across the room before sliding his eyes onto Sakura. "I would actually prefer it if I know you were being taken care of someone aside from just myself. I trust my brother with my whole soul, and I know the Uchiha care for you enough that I don't have to be against it."
"S-Sakura?" Hashirama all but squeaked out, pipe dipping dangerously to the side off his fingers and spilling. "A-a-are you asking wha-what I think you're asking?"
Madara Uchiha watched on, silently, but with wide, red spinning eyes the didn't miss anything.
"I've cared for each of you four for a long, long time. I was a girl when I admired the stories and the legends. I was a lost ghost of myself when I met you in this world. And then you grew up right in front of me, and you were…I tried to stop those thoughts because I knew you as children and it was wrong and off and…" Sakura swallowed and forced the rest of the words out. "But then I lost Kaguya and I had to start all over and you were still there for me and it got harder to tell myself no."
Madara reached for her first, moving around the table until he was kneeling over her, towering with his heigh while she sat on the floor cushion. He held her hands and she could feel the way he shook while Hashirama hugged her from behind.
"I love you. All four of you," Sakura finished, feeling tears of vulnerability spilling from between her lashes. "I don't know what that means or what happens next, but I love you."
I know that first off, it has been a while. And secondly, this is much shorter than I wanted it to be. Sorry, but this is all I've got right now. I was able to sit down and plan a few more chapters and get a better idea of what happens next with this story, as it has changed so much in my head from day one to now. I want to give Sakura some more fluff moments and then wrap up with the plot, so this doesn't go on forever and ever.
Tobirama's confession and then Sakura's confession finally came out. I'm satisfied for now, even if this is SUPER rough as I just literally finished typing it up five minutes ago. (Eeek)
Thank you for being patient and waiting and letting me know you're still reading! You guys are the best.
Please review and let me know what you thought please!