Title: "A Slice of Dreams"
Timeline: shortly after the Senju/Uchiha truce; Konoha construction
Summary: 'He wants to possess Hashirama's thoughts as much as Hashirama possesses his.' Snippets of the Founders' life on and off Konoha construction site. [Madara/Hashirama] Please R&R!
Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Kishimoto Masashi.
A/N: This ended up twice as long as I'd anticipated. It features slightly more plot than the previous MadaHashi I wrote. Also, beware of the alternation of tenses! Muhaahah!
A SLICE OF DREAMS
The house was small, barely a house at all, with a holy roof, a squeaky floor, a shaky door and various other inconveniences. It had no furniture whatsoever, and the only thing that stood out against the background of wood of an indefinite colour was a heap of blankets in the farthest corner of the room. The house looked abandoned, but the problem, however, was not that it was too old.
It was too new.
Hashirama cleared his throat. His initial attempt to knock civilly and come in with an invitation ended up as a failure, so he pushed the door open and stood in the dull empty room, fixing the blankets with a searching gaze. A few tousled strands of raven-black hair, visible here and there, told him he was looking in the right direction.
Hashirama coughed again, this time louder.
"Get lost!" the blankets barked at him suddenly.
The man chuckled, amused, and tugged at one of the blankets to pull it down. A foot showed in the formed gap. It twitched irritably, and the body it belonged to shifted heavily. Black spikes resurfaced, followed by a high alabaster forehead, then slanted eyebrows, and finally a pair of pitch-black angry eyes, still veiled with the haze of drowsiness.
"When will you finally get off your high horse, Senju, and learn that it's impolite to enter other people's houses uninvited?"
"I did knock," Hashirama noted. "Got a whole tirade of colourful curse words in response. How come I don't even know what a few of them mean? Do you make them up?"
The heap of blankets rippled slightly as the man beneath it shrugged.
"You live, you learn."
He vanished into his nest of fabric again, indicating the conversation was over. Hashirama squatted at his bedside and rummaged through the blankets decidedly. He was able to dig halfway through them when they parted on their own accord, and Madara's seedy face greeted him with a scowl radiating sheer exasperation.
"People talk, you know," Hashirama remarked. "Sleeping at day, strutting around at night; keep doing that, and you'll just give them more reasons to–."
"I don't give a damn about what you and your flunkies gossip about around campfires," Madara said listlessly. Hashirama wrinkled his nose at the strong smell of cheap alcohol that cloyed the air.
"I'm not doing you a favour," he said sternly. "But we could use some help at the construction. I had to send Tobirama on an errand, so…"
"So what, am I now officially invited into your cheery happy kingdom of teamwork, camaraderie and free hugs every hour? I think I'll have to decline the offer. Thank you very much."
Hashirama watched him crawl back into his hideout with an air of supremacy that could not be debated, and decided that Madara could not be reasoned with by words. He formed the necessary seals fluidly; sleek branches glided by the floor and knocked Madara out of the blankets. He jumped up and collapsed on the floor, rubbing the back of his head and glaring daggers at his unbidden guest.
"What the fuck, Hashirama!" he spat, infuriated.
The other's smile enraged him even further. His eyes flared crimson, and he rushed at Senju, and had his attack blocked and parried swiftly, and executed another one in a blink of an eye. They rolled across the floor and collided into the wall, Madara pinning Senju down and snarling angrily.
He had a pleasant laughter, deep, absorbing, contagious. It rolled through Madara at the lowest pitch, exorcising his morning peevishness, and soon his mouth twisted upwards in a semblance of a smirk, and he rested his elbow against Hashirama's chest and drawled:
"If you simply couldn't deal without me, should have just said so."
Hashirama pushed him off and scrambled up on his feet. Even his clumsiness managed to look dignified. Madara pulled a face at that.
"I expect you to arrive at the construction site within five minutes," Hashirama said in his leader-y voice. "Oh, by the way, from now on all the hugs are sold at fixed rate."
The first time they fight is the first time they lose.
Madara has been obsessing about facing off with Senju ever since he learnt of the potency of this clan. Their paths have crossed numerous times, but each and every time the Senju leader was like an evasive shadow. The Uchiha came too late or too early; the result was essentially the same: they never met.
When their meeting finally happens, it is purely accidental, unplanned, and if Madara believed in fate, he would thank the stars for it. It takes place on a battlefield after a particularly messy showdown between a few small clans. Bodies, broken and larded with arrows and kunai, are scattered all over the meadow. Bloodied shuriken glisten dimly amidst maroon grass.
Senju stands in the middle of the field, proud and still like a tree. Reserved curiosity is written all over his noble face. Madara likes that.
He flings himself forward speedily, his hand shooting up for the sword. Senju doesn't flinch, but when Madara is close enough to strike, the Forest Clan member dodges and comes up with a last-minute attack. Madara barely has time to avoid the blow.
The battle is short, though to them, it seems like it drags on for hours. Fire splashes all over them. Madara's Sharingan reads all of Senju's moves, but hardly does it in time. The man is fast and efficient, undeniably lethal if he wants to be. Madara has to admit: he is impressed.
By the end of the fight he feels completely wasted. So does his opponent, of that he is sure. They stare at each other, panting heavily. The battle is unquestionably lost; they will collapse if they take another step. Madara revels in this newfound feeling. There has never been anyone who could leave him so jaded.
"Uchiha Madara," he says, giving voice for the first time. Ah, so he knows the name. The small nod of acknowledgement that he gives afterwards both flatters Madara and enrages him.
He comes back to the Uchiha camp exhausted, covered in blood and grime, and achingly aroused. He nearly snaps at Izuna who approaches him with a war communiqué. But his brother is not suicidal; he knows when to back away.
Madara confines himself inside his tent and begins pacing nervously, despite being barely able to breathe. The highlights of the fight are racing through his head. Every rapid, clean-cut move devoid of any signs of haste; every fluid interlacing of fingers to form a seal… Senju is a genius. He is by no means a parvenu and his fame is not exaggerated.
Madara wipes the sweat off his upper lip briskly. He tries to recollect the sensations brought about by being so close to Senju. His breathing pattern was perfectly even up until the culmination. Madara should like to feel his heartbeat, to see him lower his guard. Perhaps he could subdue him through genjutsu. Dozens of worthy opponents have fallen before his eyes.
Anxiety sweeps through him. He trembles like his body is in the grip of fever. He wipes his palm against his trouser-leg and accidentally brushes it over his crotch. Dried blood drops off of his skin in tiny red flakes.
Madara arches his back and thrusts hard into his hand. Tugs at the fabric that is becoming a hindrance and runs his hand over his length. He grits his teeth, tilts his head back and alternates rough strokes with squeezes, the tension within him building up. It is a combination of all that happened earlier that is so exciting: a good fight, an interesting opponent, the clingy smell of blood and sweat and the common battlefield dirt – but other scents have been added to the mix, too. Freshly loosened earth; bittersweet juices running through the tiny leaf veins in spring; newborn twigs sprouting from the ground.
Senju's mysterious jutsu is that of creation. Things grow around at his command.
Madara's breath catches in his throat as he tightens his grip around the shaft inadvertently. He fists the linen wall, struggling to keep but the semblance of balance. Drops of white fluid sprinkle the katana that lies on the floor, half-drawn from its sheath. Madara releases a slow, steady breath.
He collects himself in a few minutes and emerges from the tent, looking around in search for any of his aides. One of them is found smoking impassively by a tree.
"That Senju leader," Madara wonders, having heard out the man's report. "What's his name again?"
The aide puts his half-finished cigarette out and replies coolly:
Hashirama was lying on the half-finished roof of the main Senju building, bathed in the soft pinkish glow of the setting sun. It was a moderately warm summer evening, unexpectedly mild and relaxing after weeks of drizzling rain. Smears of gold rippled over the dark-blue sky.
The village was so young, yet already brimming with life. Every random sound, be it the rhythmic tapping of a shadoof, or the Suiton breaking over rock, or a melodious song drawn out by the weary men, composed a complex pattern of the newborn's heartbeat and breathing.
"You overshadow the sun," Hashirama said sluggishly, feeling somebody's shadow come over him.
The shadow laughed and replied in Madara's voice:
"That is the most flattering thing I've ever been told."
Hashirama squinted, a small smile creeping over his face, and hit Madara's ankle with his feet, knocking him off balance. Uchiha collapsed on the roof near him, cursing under his breath.
"You look like a brat who's been given a new toy," he commented on the serene look on Hashirama's face.
"Sometimes it's useful to be a child once more. Children possess exceptional wisdom in their own way. They know what holds true value in this world."
Madara closed his eyes. Beneath this roof, the Senju were playing go. He could hear the stones move and collide from time to time. The players were laughing.
"You do realize that your dream borders on the impossible, don't you?" Madara murmured. "World peace and all. You'll have to teach mankind not to fight. But sometimes it is all they know."
Hashirama smiled, thinking that if Madara and him had ceased fighting, then the rest of the world definitely had hope. He refrained from saying it out loud, unwilling the disrupt once more the frail balance they had managed to create. In time, perhaps…
Hashirama liked Madara. He didn't trust him one bit, but that was a whole different story. Madara reminded him of a dangerous rattlesnake. But the harder he spat and the more venom was seething on his fangs, the more Hashirama grew attracted to him.
"Haven't done any work-out for ages," Madara sighed. He probably considered it to be a subtle hint. Well-well. "What say you?"
Sparring, eh? Hashirama nodded, chuckling at his overly formal tone. The Senju hadn't been engaged in any battle activities for quite some time; he was beginning to miss the feeling. With Madara, he was always guaranteed the excess of adrenaline.
They raced to the barren field just outside the village and lunged at each other. They hadn't had a serious fight in eternity, but their sparring sessions made up for it pretty well. They always came out messy, rough, fiery. Madara's Sharingan blazed with some deep-seated furious passion as he parried Hashirama's attacks and executed his own with enviable precision. No one had ever been a better match for Hashirama.
Swift, flexible stems shot from the ground around Madara. He darted backwards, the tomoe in his eyes spinning. Hashirama had had a Genjutsu master who could rival the Uchiha even without those remarkable eyes, but she had been dead for a long time now. He couldn't say why he suddenly remembered about it.
The branches wrapped themselves around Madara's body and rendered him immobile. Hashirama's lips curved into a smile. He approached leisurely, amused by Madara's exasperated scowl. It occurred to him that Madara wasn't trying to pry the branches loose. Bad omen.
The branches brushed his torso fluidly, going upwards, getting beneath his clothes. He bucked towards Hashirama, as hard as the grip allowed, his teeth clenched defiantly. Hashirama's fingers glided randomly over the relief of muscles down to Madara's abdomen. He leaned forward, almost staggering like he was intoxicated, and clamped his lips over Madara's, his hand sinking lower at the same time. Madara gasped into his mouth.
The branches crawled over Uchiha's body, exposing more and more of his skin, leaving reddish marks on its pale smoothness. Hashirama ground his groin against Madara's, causing him to growl in a low, dangerous voice. Seeing Madara restrained and so deceptively helpless excited him. Madara had always been the fire to his forest, unpredictable, scorching, lethal, alluring…
The first time they have sex is the first time they almost die.
Madara doesn't remember the details of the battle. It takes place in the mountains, and both the Uchiha and the Senju are pissed off because of the previous assignment that was nearly failed: their target slipped away while they were too busy machinating against each other. They clash after the mission is finally completed, and their leaders end up falling off a cliff into the swift current that carries them far from the battlefield. They are exhausted and utterly powerless when the river tosses them out on the rocky bank.
Panting heavily, they lie a few metres apart, restrained by their heavy armour and wet clothes that cling to their wounds, causing ever more pain. Minutes wear on.
"Uchiha," Hashirama croaks. "Do me a favour…"
'Kill you because the disability is too much to bear?' Madara arches his eyebrows and ponders if Senju deserves a mercy kill. Looks like he is in a pretty bad shape, but Madara isn't sure that he wants him to die like this.
"Light some fire."
Madara stares at him, dumb.
Hashirama performs his Wood Release and glances at him expectantly. "I'm cold," he elaborates nonchalantly.
Madara is too stunned to refuse. Wasting his chakra to help a Senju is hardly his idea of a good deed, but then again, he is cold too. (Then again, it is the Senju.)
He props up on his elbows and blows out some fire. It pounces on the kindling, consuming it insatiably. Madara lies back on the hard bedding, with a tired sigh. His body feels numb.
He doesn't know how much time has passed when Senju gives voice again. The fire is out, so it must be a while; but Madara cares little for the cold now.
"I'm out of chakra," he breathes, letting him know there will be no fire.
"I wouldn't say that in front of me if I were you," Hashirama chuckles.
"What'll you do? You're just as weak…"
Madara stirs and growls in pain. His hip appears to be broken. He cannot say what exactly is wrong with it, but it hurts like hell, and when he presses his hand against it, the pain shoots in his head, and he winces and opens his mouth wide like a fish out of water, takes a deep breath and nearly succeeds in stifling a moan.
Things look black.
He spots Hashirama forming seals. Does he want to fight now? That's insane! Madara bucks, trying to push himself away, but the wood is released and it is aimed at him.
"What the–?" Madara bellows and attempts to activate the Sharingan.
The wood lies flat along his leg, straightening it, fixing it. Like a splint.
With a sharp exhalation, Hashirama passes out.
The cliffs cast deep shadows over the river bank. Somewhere in the middle of the night (or what looks like the night) Madara falls asleep. His enormous chakra builds back up relatively quickly; he feels rejuvenated by morning, if only battered and bruised all over. And with a top-grade headache. He produces more fire and plans to wake Senju up because the original kindling is coal and it barely catches a few sparks.
The leg still hurts, but it is healing fast. He cracks the splint and shoves it into the fire. Any medic-nin would kill Hashirama for such a brusque treatment, but hey, it helped!
Madara struggles to bend the leg to see if it works fine (dull pain shoots through the damaged limb) when he notices that Hashirama's dark eyes are open and his gaze is fixed on him. Madara snarls:
"Don't expect me to thank you!" and falls back, nauseated.
Hashirama grunts. Clearly he has more important things to take care of. He frees his upper body from the clothes, layer after layer: cloak, armour, shirt – and stops at the skin-tight high-collared vest. He rolls it up carefully to reveal a few purple bruises that stand out against his skin. Broken ribs, no less. 'Been rotting there all night,' Madara thinks. 'Nasty.'
Hashirama peels the vest off and binds his hair to keep it from draping around his shoulders, then rips the vest to pieces to make bandages. Subconsciously, Madara waits for him to ask for help; the request never comes. He wonders why Hashirama could ask for fire, but not for this.
Madara would rather die than offer an enemy help.
He turns away, runs a hand through his mane and tries to remember any way to kill the terrible headache that feels like he got extremely drunk the night before. Senju mutters something under his breath; Madara inclines his head to see that Senju is once again watching him.
"I said your hair looks like fern leaves." Madara grimaces at that, causing Senju to smirk. "How's your leg?"
"I heal like a dog. Ready to thrash the life out of you any minute."
Again, Hashirama chuckles. This is what Madara hates the most about him: it is never easy to tell what he is thinking. At the same time, he is never boring.
It begins to rain. The air is moist and heavy, and Madara recalls for an instant that he hasn't had a fever since he was very little. The thought is so random that it tears a chuckle out of him which he promptly masquerades as coughing. His head is buzzing like an anthill.
It rains right down on them. When it becomes obvious the rain will not stop anytime soon, they gather what is left of their strength and crawl closer to the steep slope. There is a small dry cavern there, and they cram themselves into it so that they sit shoulder to shoulder, their backs against the hard wall, and look at the beaten up river.
"I could kill you now," Madara says. Once the thought is voiced, it sounds even more appealing. He flicks a kunai out of his pouch and presses the tip to Hashirama's jugular.
"Sounds like you're choosing your breakfast meal. Do I tire you?"
Madara knits his eyebrows. That's a strange question. He shifts into a less comfortable position, but it gives him a better view of his opponent. He drags the kunai down, watching it draw a vague line along Hashirama's chest. He halts around the bandage and presses the blade flat against his skin, applying soft pressure. Hashirama's breath hitches.
"Does your superlative jutsu heal bones?"
Hashirama grabs him by the wrist, as if suggesting they find out right now. His grip is firm, steady, and he could snap all the bones at once if he wanted to. He wouldn't even flinch. Madara leans closer, scrutinizing his face, wondering if he possesses this man's thoughts as much as he possesses his. Killing Hashirama will not be good enough anymore.
Hashirama's hand slides towards his crotch; Madara's hand mirrors that movement immediately. There is something lewd in the natural silence of the mountains, broken only by rain whipping the river, as it presses down on them. Madara's leg begins to hurt again. Hashirama's chest heaves with every sharp intake of breath, and his ribs probably hurt as well. Somehow they both manage to make it meaningless. Their touches, hasty, rough, through the fabric at first and then skin on skin, are the pinnacle of hateful neediness. Tongues, teeth, hands, raw sighs – harder, faster…
It is what every encounter will end with for them from now on.
Hashirama didn't know why the heavy stone wall began to crumble. One minute it was there, wholesome and seemingly unbreakable; the next, fragments of stone rained on the people that scattered frantically in all directions.
Hashirama piled up wood on the way of the stone avalanche. There were a few casualties, but nothing too serious. One man was bleeding from his head. He must have received a nasty blow. Hashirama looked at the gathering crowd, searching for his brother or his advisors. A low creaking noise followed.
The obstruction was breaking apart. A large crack cleaved the wood.
Hashirama performed another jutsu rapidly. Sharp rubble burst through the blockage before he could stop it. Someone pushed him aside. Hashirama exhaled shakily past the burning pain that suddenly pierced his hands and could barely move his fingers to create a wooden shell above himself. He could hear the rubble land on top of it with a loud banging noise.
Everything went quiet.
Hashirama opened the shell. His hands were bleeding. One of the rocks must have hit him. Someone (Tobirama, judging by the voice) helped him up on his feet.
"I'm all right," Hashirama barked, inexplicably irritated. It was a silly way to get traumatized!
He looked around and spotted Madara standing by the fallen wall. The sleeve of his pullover was torn and covered in dust. It was him, then. Madara spared him a cold look, which then slid down to Hashirama's hands. There was something feral in his eyes.
He came by Hashirama's lodge later, told the woman who was applying medical ointment on his wounds to leave, and stood opposite Hashirama, peering at him intensely.
"You do realize that you could lose your hands today?" he asked in a voice full of cold fury.
"Rubbish," Hashirama said, reaching for the jar that the woman had left behind. "Just a few–," his trembling fingers knocked the jar over, "cuts…"
A kunai flickered in Madara's hand. He brought it down and halted just short of piercing the back of Hashirama's hand.
"Shall I cut them off right now? You should not be upset, seeing as you apparently hold no value with what they can do. No more neat tricks with trees, eh?"
"Walls fall, Madara," a calm answer followed. "People get hurt. It could be me, or it could have been ten other people. I assume you know what I shall always choose."
He found himself being pushed against the wall, until Madara was leaning heavily into him, lips moving against the shell of his ear:
"I want to be the one who kills you." A sharp intake of breath. Hashirama stiffened. "Did you hear me? Me, not some blasted rock! Without your ninjutsu, you're just a little bit better than nothing."
He pulled away at the same nervous speed, dipped his fingers into the ointment and began to massage Hashirama's wounded hands. Senju's slightly surprised look traveled over Madara's face. It was imperturbable.
"Of course," Hashirama smirked.
The first time they kiss is the first time Madara realizes he doesn't really want Senju to die.
Their battles become ever more fervent and obdurate. They complete their respective missions where they fight out of duty, and then, when nobody is watching, they fight over where to set up camps, over the next client, over who tops, and so on.
After one particularly hard mission they have an arduous conclusion – and once again they are in the mountains, and a small waterfall rolls nearby. Foam-white snowcaps shimmer under the sun. Madara is spread-eagled against the rocky slope, secured in the firm grasp of the Mokuton-produced branches. He shivers, feverish, painfully full of Hashirama, overwhelmed. He has purposefully let him take over this time, or so he likes to think. He tilts his head backwards, his eyes half-shut, and catches Hashirama's glance, fixed upon his parted lips. The Uchiha clan had to spend two months of winter in these mountains. Madara's lips are chapped, bloodied, frostbitten. His mouth twists into a mocking smirk.
Hashirama leans closer and flicks his tongue over Madara's lips. The touch is so tender that Madara can barely feel it. With every thrust, the pace becomes faster, unrestrained, and their lower bodies burst into a variety of sensations whereas their lips are slow and uncharacteristically gentle.
Senju is a creep, Madara decides. But a curious one.
"I know you're in it because you want it," Hashirama said. "You want peace for your people, that's quite understandable. But you also want this for yourself. You like it here. You are going to build this village because you want to see it function. You want to make sure we can pull it off."
They were standing on the edge of the valley, eyeing the magnificent panorama that opened before them. At the bottom of the valley there lay the village, immersed in verdure. All signs of the recent collapse were erased.
Hashirama chuckled. The village was beautiful, still in the making, yet asking so much of them like a wayward child. It must have inherited their insuperable spirits as well as their difficult nature.
"I shan't deny it," Madara spoke quietly. "I'm just not sure I want to do it with you."
"What choice do you think you have, my friend?"
Madara shrugged and continued observing the busy anthill that was laid at his feet. The sun was high in the sky, showering the valley with its much needed light. Madara unfastened a small flask that was attached to his belt and took a generous swig before handing it to Hashirama. Senju drank and grimaced, nearly spitting the mouthful out.
"Tastes like dog piss! Where the hell did you get it?"
"Nicked from your brother."
"That explains a lot."
A smile crossed Hashirama's lips; a small one that he was almost reluctant to reveal in front of Madara. He believed in the future, now more than ever. Debatable alliance, bad alcohol and many beautiful dreams – that was what the road to the future was paved with. In Hashirama's opinion, these were the perfect ingredients.
January 30–February 13, 2009