There is going to be a sequel! It's called Direct thee to Peace and will start updating on Monday next, the 16th. In the meantime, enjoy an omake.
Omake: Izuna's Senju Escapades
Izuna was expecting to die.
It's not that he wanted to die! It's just… well, he's seen a lot of people die, hundreds of injuries etched in his brain by his sharingan and he knows what a lethal wound looks like, okay? He knows. He knew even before Yori told him, although he was trying to deny it, and coming to terms and then having to deal with his big brother not coping was… hard.
Izuna loves his brother. Adores every single part of him, from the incredible strength to the soft heart and all the awkward pieces in between. Some of those pieces are deeply irritating but that doesn't mean he loves Madara any less, or wouldn't miss them if he changed. It's just… he worries about his brother. It's that heart of his; he's too careless with it.
Kita's been good for him there; she's helped him make more friends and somehow managed to call him out over his obsession with Hashirama in a way that Madara both actually listened to and then did something about. It's a relief; now Izuna doesn't have to worry about his big brother doing something dumb over the asshole Senju who very blatantly doesn't give a shit about him or about the peace he keeps blathering about.
But. Izuna was expecting to die. Kita's hostage exchange was incredibly well thought-out: Hashirama would have to accept it or else lose all credibility due to his continuous claims to want peace –ha, ridiculous when he's killed so many so cruelly and the only peace offered them was found under a clansman's knife– and then Izuna would die knowing that Tobirama would not outlive him by more than a few minutes at the outside. He could die knowing he wasn't leaving the clan vulnerable, that his brother was well cared-for and the Senju would not have the upper hand in the war.
Except he's not dead. The Senju have, somehow, managed to put him back together and while there have been complications, they've all been very swiftly and permanently fixed the instant the healers noticed them. He almost wishes they were less attentive; no, actually he really wishes that because he hasn't had a single night's uninterrupted sleep due to Senju coming in to check on him at least twice nightly. Waking him up is probably unintentional, but Izuna hasn't lived this long by not reacting to Senju chakra trying to get up close and personal, so he's wide awake for every visit regardless of how little he want to be.
He has at least finally been allowed to eat actual food and get out of bed. Which he'd foolishly believed was a good thing, until it –very rapidly– became clear that now he is no longer in medical isolation Senju Hashirama wants to be his friend.
How on earth can his brother look at this, this moronic disaster and think, 'oh yes, we're friends'?! What has Izuna done to deserve this?! Is this karmic punishment, for greedily keeping all his brother's attention to himself when they were younger rather than helping his self-conscious older sibling make real friends, so Madara would have had actual real experience of what proper friends were like before he met this aggressively and manipulatively cheerful avalanche and would have known better than to latch onto it?!
But no, the suffocating humanoid kudzu had latched on right back, hadn't he? Izuna has never felt such profound, pained kinship for Senju Tobirama before and never wants to again; the man lives like this? He shares a home with this sickeningly cloying chakra soup clogging up his lungs and hasn't murdered him yet? How?
At least most of the Senju want nothing to do with him and the only one who stops by regularly is the genjutsu specialist with the fancy topknot who usually fights Hikaku; she seems to be high-ranking and to have made it her responsibility to ensure he doesn't slit his wrists to spite her Clan Head, which lately has started looking very tempting.
His brother's letter on what Tobirama has been getting up to back at home has at least made her settle a bit; it's fairly obvious that they're friends. Possibly even family, which Izuna knows is different to just being clan.
Then again, the Senju don't seem to do clan the same way the Uchiha do. They don't have a manufacturing sector –which does explain why they're always looting Uchhia wire; their own is utter shit and do not get him started on those stupid kunai– and buy everything from civilian craftspeople. Izuna's amazed they've not run out of money yet; then again, they do grow their own food –all of it, not just most of it– although it's fairly clear that the Senju don't consider those clansmen who grow their food to count as Senju.
To be a real Senju you have to be a shinobi, which is a puddle of pig shit. No wonder they're all such unmitigated assholes.
Still, Izuna's learned some useful things here. Like how the only person in the Senju compound whose personal space actually gets respected is Senju Mito, because she knows exactly how to lead Hashirama around by the nose and make him think her suggestions are his idea, and isn't afraid to do so in the name of peace and quiet. He also knows the kudzu moron has a son about the same age as Toshi and Azami –Tsunama-kun's surprisingly cute for having the parents he does, who are both horrific in their own different ways– and seems to think good parenting involves completely ignoring the boy until he's old enough to train.
Mito has her own wing in the Senju clan hall and lives there with her son; Hashirama's in a completely different wing and Tobirama apparently has his own seperate house, which just goes to show he's the one who inherited what brains were available in the Senju line. Not that Izuna gets the impression there were many to spare –Butsuma ordered the assassinations of Izuna's younger brothers then shoved all his own inexperienced young sons onto the battlefield too young to be anything but targets– so he may have got them from his Hatake mother, but most of the rest of the Senju do seem to possess a modicum of sense, even if they're all complete idiots about other things. Who'd live with the human soup cloud if they didn't have to?
Izuna's sleeping in the medical wing still, so if anything goes wrong with his body during the night the healers can fix it before he dies. The healers are all very keen on him not dying, which at least says they value Tobirama; he doesn't get the impression Hashirama does. Wood-for-brains knows Izuna's getting letters from home and hasn't even asked about his brother yet.
No, instead he's barging in on Izuna several times a day and trying to be friends.
Surely nobody will blame him for strangling the man with his own stupidly long hair? And yes, Izuna knows Madara's is probably longer, but all that means is that Izuna has experience so is confident Hashirama's is long enough for murder to be feasible.
One week left. Seven days. Seven days and he can go home.
"Hiding again, niisan?"
Izuna looks down from his rooftop hiding place at the huddle of small Senju at ground level. "Yes," he admits, because at this point he has neither pride nor shame. He's really glad he got Kita to teach him that 'walking up walls' trick he'd caught her using one time, because Hashirama can always find him if he's in a tree and there's not much in the Senju compound that's not either a tree or a building with several storeys. Their architecture is awful, even the half of it not obviously made by the human plant. Why build so tall? It's inelegant! Impractical! How do you add rooms or renovate without disturbing everybody around you? What happens if a ground floor room catches fire? It's all awful and poorly-conceived and that's not even getting into the issue of where you're supposed to store things when everybody's living on top of each-other, as there's no lofts or cellars to tuck inheritances and valuables into for safekeeping.
"Come play with us, niisan!" the girl suggests brightly.
Izuna jumps quietly down from the roof. It's sad but true that hanging out with the kids is the best way to avoid the Senju Head; he just doesn't pay much attention to them. The only people who get less attention are the farmers' kids, who are more clan vassals than actual clansmen and don't even get to call themselves Senju. Only the shinobi families are Senju.
Like any clan would last six months without their farmers. Like Izuna hasn't done his time helping get the buckwheat harvest in and wrangling the pigs, because everybody in the clan needs to eat and there's not enough adults to go around for anybody to get huffy over the prospect of manual labour. Yes, he's one of the clan's best warriors; so what? He still eats and shits as much as everybody else does. His brother does the same; it's how Madara first learned to use a scythe. Of course adjusting his technique for the battlefield came later, but still.
"So, what game did you have in mind?"
One of the boys waves a hand in the air. "Can you teach us a new game, niisan?"
What kind of new game could he… aha! "Can any of you charming little monsters help me get my hands on a brush, some ink, a cheap scroll, a few pretty pebbles and a pair of dice?" Izuna asks. Kita's scroll games are always good for keeping small children busy for hours on end.
The array of excited little grins is rather charming, although Izuna desperately wants to buy them all better clothes. Senju clearly have not the faintest idea of how to dress when out of armour.
Izuna tries to bolt out of the room but the stupid chair trips him as he tries to jump out of it and then the kudzu is upon him.
"Izuna, are you alright? You didn't hurt your head? Here, let me check!"
"Get off me you overbearing bean plant!" Izuna hisses, shuddering at the press of chakra under his skin but not quite daring to push back; Hashirama is too strong for him. He knows it and he hates it, thanks. "I'm fine, let me go!"
Hashirama sets him back on his feet with a chuckle –Izuna hates him– and slings an arm around his shoulders. "Mito told me all about the game you made for Tsunama! I'm so glad you're getting along!"
Izuna respects Mito greatly –she is a terror and all the more so for hiding it behind polite smiles and impeccable clothing– but right now he hates her too for throwing him at her husband as a distraction. What has he ever done to her? Personally, at least?
"Do you know any more dice games?" Why is the herbaceous moron still talking? "I've always been more of a cards person, but Mito got scary when I tried to teach Tsunama to play koi-koi." He pouts.
Izuna's not surprised; what kind of idiot tries to teach a three-year-old a gambling game? Wait a moment; Hashirama gambles? "Yeah, I know a few more games," he admits, a plan already coalescing in his mind. Kita's not here with her outrageous luck, so he can probably win the fish game even without cheating. Of course he first has to make the flatfish… "I know a fun one, but it takes proper game pieces so I'd have to make them first."
Hashirama beams at him; if Izuna wasn't plotting to fleece him he'd run away. The kudzu's sensory talents are limited to the immediate vicinity of his creations and regular trees –Izuna has tested this extensively– so he's much better at avoiding the wooden-skulled cretin now. "Can I help? Pleease say I can!"
Why not; this way the walking tree will be too busy to bother him for a bit. "I need seventeen square sheets of differently-patterned washi, enough thin board to back all of them, a short length of decent shinobi wire, a sheet of plain washi, glue and a writing set." That was what Kita had used to make the pretty fish set she keeps in a box and brings out to play with some evenings; Izuna watched her, so he knows he can replicate the process exactly. "Oh, and a pair of dice."
"Let's go then!"
What –no! "Let go of me!"
"Come on, I have dice, Mito has all of the rest except shinobi wire and glue and she'll know who to ask! Don't worry about the wood, I can make that!"
Izuna is going to make a point of convincing this oaf to gamble with him for non-negligible stakes and then it is going to be on.
Half an hour later he is sitting at Mito's dining table, demonstrating to his audience of six –Mito-san, her adorable son, her idiot husband, Tōka who supplied the egg glue, the trap specialist who'd been shaken down for Uchiha wire and some other nosy passing Senju– how a bit of wire twined between finger and thumb and a touch of fire chakra makes for an excellent fretsaw, so long as the wood you are using isn't too thick. Yes, it leaves your work with blackened edges, but that isn't exactly a bad thing in this case.
He's already had Hashirama make him seventeen identically thin wooden boards the exact same size as Mito-san's washi and glued the washi to the boards, then neatly drawn the six fish pieces on the back of each board; head, two halves of the body, two fins and the tail. Then while the glue was drying he cut the plain washi into one hundred and two squares and divided them into groups of seventeen, decorating each group with a different number of dice spots. By the time he was done the glue was dry –well dry enough for a pinch of chakra to finish the job– and he set about using his impromptu saw to cut out the pieces.
"This is a flatfish," he says once he's cut out the first one, assembling it and adding the ink dots for the eyes. "The head is worth one" –he glues on one of the little squares with the single dot– "the left side of the body is worth two, the right side three, the left fin four, the right fin five and the tail fin six." The appropriate squares follow. "Mito-san, if you could supervise the gluing while I finish up the cutting, this will go faster."
"I would be honoured to offer my assistance," Mito murmurs, purple eyes sharp and knowing as her husband wails over not getting to help. "Hashirama, would you be a dear and make tea? I'm sure Izuna-san will need a drink after using so much chakra entertaining us."
Terrifying. Izuna is so glad Kita thinks manipulating Madara would be inappropriate, it makes his home life so much less awkward than having to watch this farce every day would be.
The walking tree rhapsodises briefly over how thoughtful his wife is then hurries off to heat a kettle; Izuna keeps his head down and goes back to cutting out fish. He's pretty sure Mito has already divined his scheme to fleece her husband, but she doesn't seem inclined to stop him.
Maybe she's planning on fleecing Izuna right back? If so, perhaps it might be a better idea to keep the stakes reasonably trivial.
"So how does this flatfish game work?" Tōka asks, making herself comfortable on the window sill. That's another thing about Senju houses; they don't have proper shōji or fusuma. Instead it's solid walls and storehouse-style doors everywhere, even between internal rooms, and large, square windows with washi, shutters or occasionally glass in them. Like that's not a security hazard.
"It's pretty simple," Izuna admits, most of his attention on cutting out fish. "The aim of the game is to assemble more fish than anybody else. All the fish pieces start off in a pile in the middle, then people take turns throwing the dice. You have to throw a one to get a fish head, and then you can start gathering the matching fish parts according to what you throw; one piece per turn, but the game's played with two dice so you get two chances and two choices, and if you throw a double you can throw again. Most people try to assemble several fish at once. If you throw a one and a six together you can pick up a full fish; the game ends when all the fish are fully assembled."
Izuna glances up from his work just long enough to grin at her. "Except that if you throw a one and there's no fish heads in the pile, you can steal one from somebody else's least complete fish and all their gathered parts go back in the pile. Or if you throw a one and a six and there's no complete fish to take from the pool, you pick a half-complete one from someone else and finish it. Finished fish can't be poached, but everything else is fair game."
"Ooh," he can hear Tōka grinning, "I take it back. This sounds like a very fine game. Can I play too?"
"It's best with four people," Izuna admits, "but more or less can play too. Just, very many more and you start needing more fish."
"I'll make my own set later," Tōka says, eyeing the wire held taut between his thumb and forefinger. "Does that work with pure chakra or does it have to be fire?"
Izuna shrugs. "I've only ever tried it with fire." Well, only ever seen Kita do it with fire; she'd made a tangram puzzle for Benten as a birthday present once, using a leftover square of expensive wood salvaged from some carpenter's scrap heap. It had taken her seconds to make –plus a little longer sanding over the corners– and his cousin still plays with it almost as much as she does the little tea set. He's not sure any other elements would work out –barring wind chakra of course– but pure chakra might. Possibly.
"Is this an Uchiha thing? Using high-level elemental manipulation to make game pieces?" the trap specialist demands. Whatever the idiot's name is, they know Izuna's holding a piece of the good wire and want it back. That they're fretting over something as trivial as him running fire chakra through it and using it to slice wood makes it abundantly clear they have no idea what kind of tolerances Uchiha wire is made to meet.
"What's the point of learning all that if you can't have fun with it?" Izuna asks, echoing the question Kita had put to him about four years ago when Madara started taking an active interest in the whole pottery business. It took him a while to recognise it, but she's got a point there.
The question nets him a thoughtful silence from his audience, making it much easier to cut out the fish. Well, until Hashirama comes back with the tea, at least.
A few hours later Izuna is able to determine that it is indeed a lot easier to put up with the kudzu man when you are thrashing him at the fish game. Especially since Tsunama is also thrashing his father at the fish game. No matter how good the Senju Head may be at cards, his luck with dice is abysmal.
"I really like this game," Tōka says cheerfully, stealing the head of her clan head's only remaining incomplete fish and sweeping the other parts into the much diminished central pile. "We need to play it again. With real stakes." Mito prevailed there: no gambling while her son is present.
Impossibly, this makes Hashirama perk up. "We could play again after dinner! Once Tsunama's gone to bed!"
… is Tōka helping him fleece the tree-brained idiot? "I could play again," Izuna admits. It's been very fun having something structured to keep the moron from manhandling him or asking intrusive questions, as well as actually getting to win for once. Usually he and his brother battle for second place; even when they team up to try and steal all of Kita's flatfish, she still wins the fish game.
"We'll play later for stakes then!" the Senju Head burbles delightedly, clapping his hands and rolling the dice again. He throws a five and a three, subsiding into a slump under a little chakra-induced raincloud. "Why can't I roll a one when I need one…"
Izuna picks up the dice, shakes them and rolls a six and a one. He turns to eye Tōka's fish collection.
"Uchiha, don't you dare."
His eyes slide to Tsunama –and to Mito smiling placidly behind her son– and then back to Tōka. The Senju shinobi huffs, but lets him steal one of her unfinished fish with no further threats. So it's not just him then; good to know that not every Senju is blindly oblivious to how dangerous their Clan Head's wife is.
Even though Mito's husband clearly has not the faintest inkling. Then again, Izuna had already pegged Hashirama as a moron.