A/N: This is a one-sided Hashirama/Madara fic. It's stuffed with angst and occasionally sprinkled with (mostly dark) humor, it thrives on a crazy borderline stream-of-consciousness style, it has a pretty darn unreliable narrator, and it attempts to be fairly canon-friendly. Rating is for cursing, some semi-graphic sexual stuff, eventual alcoholism, and a freak-ton of despair—you know, all the good stuff.
This fic also is a bit of an attempt to deconstruct common slash fic tropes (and if that sentence didn't make sense to you, I recommend googling for "TVTropes" and you'll never again be bored). Particularly, I'm throwing out some assumptions a lot of slash fics have, such as the main characters even knowing what homosexuality is. Mainly because I love writing stuff that royally screws around with gender/sexuality dynamics, and also because things aren't as interesting when everything's easy. It's gonna be exciting, folks!
The whole fic's already written. It's 24 chapters and about 83,000 words. Since it's already finished, I can guarantee this fic shall not spontaneously die in the middle, go on endless hiatus, and never be updated again. So you readers who worry about starting to read an "incomplete" fic for fear that the author will give up before the end? Not a problem here, I won't leave you guys hanging. I plan on posting a chapter a week, preferably on Fridays, because I like Friday.
Reviews are greatly appreciated, as are any other thoughts, comments, or critiques.
Disclaimer: Naruto and all associated characters, story elements, and so on are property of Masashi Kishimoto. I own only this particular story, although I doubt Kishimoto would want it anyway.
Man of Dreams
Romantic Meets Cynic
They knew every inch of each other's bodies. They knew each other's bodies as well as they knew their own.
Each knew the other's skin, his eyes, his hair. Each knew the other's voice, what he sounded like when he murmured, what he sounded like when he screamed himself hoarse.
Each knew the other's sensitive spots. Each knew how to make the other sweat, how to make the other pant, how to make the other moan.
Each knew—as no one else in the world could know—how the other one moved. Each knew how the other's muscles flexed, slackened, tensed. Each knew the other at his very best, breathing hard, limbs trembling, every muscle moving and pulling, that unending and exhausting and intoxicating rhythm.
They knew how to respond to each other, how to move as one, how to compliment each other exactly. Perfectly.
They knew each other thoroughly, consummately, and intimately.
On the battlefield.
And only on the battlefield.
This is a discussion of their combat tactics.
It didn't mean anything else. One must know one's enemy; the better one knows one's enemy, the better one may fight him. If they hadn't known each other so well, neither could have survived so many battle with each other. It was a matter of survival. It was a matter of necessity, of life and death. In order to protect themselves and their clans, they had needed to have that knowledge of each other.
So was it really so strange—
Oh, please, please, don't think of that, don't think about...
... Was it really so strange, even now, even when they were allies, even when they hadn't fought each other in so, so long...
Was it really so strange for Hashirama to still have that same obsession? Was it really so strange for that too, too intimate knowledge to rise up in his mind, with such alarming frequency, whenever the co-founder of his village was around, and whenever he wasn't around?
And was it really so unusual if he woke up, night after night, from dreams about that body he knew so well, too well? And was it so unusual if he woke up from those dreams hot and sweaty and sticky, just as if he had returned from a battle, only... different?
Was it so unnatural if he still found himself studying that body, because what's the point of knowing so much and not knowing everything? Was it so unnatural if he wanted to know everything, even if it had nothing to do with battle anymore, even if he didn't want use it for battle?
And was it so unacceptable, if, if he, if he... if he wanted, if he longed to put that knowledge to good use, because what's the point of knowing so much and never using it? Was it so unacceptable if he yearned to put it to some other purpose?
And then, and then, after all of that, was it so abominable if he wanted to, needed to, lusted to—
No. No. It was not. It was all perfectly...
Oh please why why why couldn't he get these thoughts out of his—
No. No, there was nothing wrong with it! They had been enemies! They had fought each other and fought each other and fought each other dozens and hundreds of times! Of course there would be some effect on the way Hashirama thought about him now! It was all perfectly normal! There. Was. Nothing. Nothing. Wrong. With. Him.
This is what Hashirama told himself, over and over. So he would remind himself as he sat, for minutes at a time, on bad days for hours at a time; so he would remind himself, just to keep himself from going crazy with horror and disgust and self-loathing (because wasn't it abominable, wasn't it abhorrent, wasn't it atrocious and appalling and nauseating).
So Hashirama told himself whenever he woke up in the middle of the night from another dream and found that in some half-doze, when he was aware of his body but not of his actions, that somehow his hand had drifted down to—
So Hashirama told himself whenever that man (on some rare, rare occasion) actually smiled, and something light and shivery and shimmery shot up from below his stomach and some rebellious delirious voice hissed that smile that SMILE I think I'm in—
So Hashirama told himself whenever someone asked him when he would settle down and was it true he hadn't been with someone yet and he had to stop himself from saying of course he had been with someone, but how could anyone else's body compare to—
So Hashirama told himself whenever his enemy, his co-founder came up to him and said something and the words disappeared and all that was left was the mouth moving moving and all he wanted to do was lean towards that face and that mouth and—
This is what Hashirama told himself. Over and over. And over and over and over. They had been enemies. To ensure their own survival—and the survival of their families, their friends, their clans—they had needed to understand each other on a level far deeper than any normal human relationship.
It was all... perfectly... normal.
Therefore: because each had needed to analyze the other's tactical procedures and combat capabilities, Hashirama now wanted to fuck Uchiha Madara six ways from Sunday.
... Somehow, when he looked at it that way, even Hashirama couldn't buy into his own reasoning.
The Year He Met Madara
It is a little-known fact that Hashirama founded Konoha not to save his allies from death on the battlefield, nor to save his friends, nor his family—but to save his enemy.
After all, as long as Hashirama lived, he would give everything he had to protect his allies, his friends, his family. He would give his own life. But how could he save his enemy, the man he was ordered to kill, the man who threatened the safety of Hashirama's own family, friends, allies? The only way to save him was by making him an ally as well.
Of course, there was always more than one enemy Hashirama had to consider. But anyone who has gotten this far should know damn well which enemy he really wanted to protect.
It didn't begin like that. When Madara first showed up on the battlefield against Hashirama, he was just another one of many ninja, just a stranger with fiery eyes, so young, too young for war in Hashirama's opinion (never mind that they were probably about the same age, if he had to guess). That stranger with those so bright Uchiha eyes might survive this encounter with the Senju, but he would not survive many more, for nobody ever did—their clan were just too strong, Hashirama was just too strong.
But he kept showing up. And very soon and all too fast, he was not just another child thrust into a warrior's costume. And then Hashirama started hearing details about this man, rumors and legends about this Uchiha, this Uchiha who was even more powerful than the others—a prodigy among a clan of prodigies—and at last he heard a name. Madara. Madara.
And he kept showing up. And fairly soon, when preparing for combat, Hashirama could no longer come up with a battle plan without specifically coming up with an anti-Madara plan. And from the way he fought, Hashirama soon realized Madara was doing the same thing.
They weren't the only two involved in this rivalry. Naturally. Tobirama spent all his free time learning and mastering new Water Release techniques specifically to counter the Uchiha clan's Fire Release. The Uchiha clan took to razing all the plant life around their outposts just to make combat more difficult for the Senju clan to use their beloved trick of vanishing among the trees.
But through all of that, it always felt like only the two of them mattered. At least, it did to Hashirama. They reached a point where, whenever a battle began, neither would jump right in; they would scan the battlefield, searching for each other. And when their gazes inevitably locked (when Hashirama found those red eyes), they would head straight for each other. Nothing else existed.
Once, someone tried to take advantage of this—someone attacked Madara while he was still making his way across the battlefield to begin the real fight. Hashirama was almost as surprised as Madara, but Madara turned and immediately attacked his assailant. For one crazy moment, Hashirama almost attacked the assailant, too. And he probably would have, if he hadn't noticed just in time that the assailant was Tobirama.
It was lucky Madara was the one ambushed; if it had been Hashirama, he never would have noticed. Afterward, even when fighting each other, both (barely) remained aware of the possibility of outside opponents cutting into their dance. (For that was what it was; despite the complexities of battle, the other combatants, the mission objectives and the desperation of the struggle and the fight to survive and the need to be victorious, in Hashirama's mind, he always thought of his little part of every Senju/Uchiha battle as a dance. When he would later see performances by civilian dancers, he would find them wholly uninteresting, and he wouldn't understand why.)
Hashirama spent a long time wondering what that meant, that Madara had still been aware enough to notice an assailant, whereas Hashirama knew quite well he himself wouldn't have noticed a thing until it was too late. He eventually decided it was a Sharingan thing; Madara must have better peripheral vision. It certainly wasn't that Madara didn't care about Hashirama as much as Hashirama cared about him.
... "Care"? Where had that come from?
That evening, Hashirama had barely been able to speak to his brother—not from anger, not from embarrassment, but... he didn't know why. Even when Tobirama chided him for being so unaware on the battlefield that he hadn't taken advantage of Tobirama's assistance, he didn't say anything in return. What could he do? Scold Tobirama for attacking Madara? Scold his brother for attacking their enemy?
Hashirama and Madara never (really) spoke to each other. But before long Hashirama was sure Madara just... nodded, slightly, in recognition, sometimes, when their gazes locked, when the dances started.
Then one day, before a battle—Hashirama still remembered the day almost perfectly, of course this was a day he'd remember: it was cloudy, they were between two hills, both had small squads, four-on-four—Madara let out a huge sigh, and, with exaggerated exasperation, shouted (it could only have been to Hashirama), "What? You again?"
Hashirama couldn't sleep that night. He stared wide-eyed into the dark, trying to figure out what Madara had meant.
Surely he wasn't that annoyed to see Hashirama again—well, sure, they were enemies (technically?), but why bother pointing it out? It had sounded like—like teasing. Like a joke between old friends.
Was that what it was? Or was it just mockery? Was this just his way of taunting opponents? But, no, that was just too... ridiculous. Surely Uchiha Madara was above such juvenile gibes. (At some point, Hashirama had built up an elaborate mental image of what Madara must really be like, outside of battle. He was as dignified, as courageous and as earnest as a human could be without ascending to godhood. And now, it seemed, he was the sort of man who could come to treat his enemies like friends. Right?)
After that little event, Hashirama had truly started to obsess over Madara. However, obsession was only appropriate. Madara was Hashirama's eternal rival.
And then each had a mission as escorts to two warlords trying to hash out a peace treaty—one demanded Hashirama as a bodyguard, the other demanded Madara. And they had been expected to stand near each other... civilly. Without fighting. And at some point during the peace negotiations, they had spoken to each other. From what Hashirama could remember, it had been... a year, a year since he had first seen the stranger he came to know as Madara.
A whole year, and they had never once spoken with each other.
"I'll... probably..." Hashirama had said (why had he spoken first, why was it so hard to say this, it had to be because Madara was his enemy that had to be it), "probably never have another opportunity to say this, so..."
Madara had looked at him, eyebrows slightly raised to indicate he was paying attention, meeting Hashirama's gaze calmly but suspiciously.
"I just wanted to say, that..." (why was he stumbling over this he probably looked like an idiot he was making a fool of himself in front of Madara why did he care so much about what Madara thought of him focus, focus...) "You're the strongest ninja I've ever known." (What? After all of that, that was it?)
Madara had stared at him for another moment, but then a corner of his mouth had quirked up. "Except for yourself?" he'd said, a bit bitterly (or praisingly?).
Hashirama had allowed himself to, just as slightly, smile back. (Had Madara just complimented him? Complimented him?) "You're the only one who's ever beaten me in battle." And he had beaten Madara as well, but the contests were always close.
"But it never seems to take." What was that? Resentment or compliment?
"No, I guess not..." And they had started descending into idle chatter. Madara had lost interest, looked away—staring at nothing with those (beautiful, beautiful) red eyes. (Since when had Hashirama thought Madara's eyes were beautiful? ... Or, rather, why had it taken him so long to notice?) He'd needed to say something else. He couldn't have let the conversation end with that. "It makes you wonder what it would take to... end all this, doesn't it?" And now he had Madara's attention again but he just looked puzzled; something else, say something else! "All these fights, this warfare... What will it take to stop it?"
Madara didn't answer for a moment. And when he did, flat, resigned: "One of us has to die."
He didn't know why he was so surprised at the answer—didn't he know it, too? "One of... you mean, you and me?"
"Of course." He smiled sardonically, looking away from Hashirama, staring at something in the distance. "Who else?"
"But why? Does it have to end that way?"
"How else? We would both give everything to protect our... our clans..." His smile faded slightly. For a moment, something close to despair crossed his face. "... Or to avenge them." (Hashirama was taken aback. Surely that could only mean—who had Madara lost...?) But his face hardened, the despair (or grief?) disappeared. "As long as one of our clans exists, the other is in danger. One way or another, this has to end in annihilation."
"That can't be the only option." Madara couldn't be the kind of person who believed there were no alternatives. "There has to be another way out. For both of us. All of us."
"And what way is that?" Madara glanced sideways at Hashirama, scowling. "We all move in together and form a big happy family and never fight again?" (Actually, why didn't that sound like a bad idea?) "There's no other way out, Senju." He added, muttering, "I never expected you to be such a romantic."
"Senju"? Just "Senju"? Not even an honorific, just "Senju"?And Hashirama suddenly wondered—did... did Madara even know his name? (Of course he did of course he did everyone in the ninja world knew Hashirama's name, and how could Madara of all people not know Hashirama's name when Hashirama knew his so very well?) And at the same time he kept thinking, why didn't that sound like a bad idea, moving in together and all, what was wrong with Hashirama to think that sounded like a good idea? (That was the first time Hashirama had ever begun to think—still in a half-hearted way, but growing stronger—that there might something wrong with him, although he had certainly felt unease in the past, certainly been uncomfortable at some time or another, he'd never quite known why.) Maybe it was a good idea—but that was ridiculous, how would that work out anyway, did that even make any sense? Senju and Uchiha, together? Operating as one clan? How, how could they possibly? But wouldn't that fix everything? Hashirama wouldn't have to keep fighting Madara, and he wouldn't have to worry every day about his brother, his family, friends, allies, enemy... (Did Madara even know Hashirama's name?) And Hashirama had never expected him to be such a cynic. Who was it he had lost?
All he said in response was "Maybe."
The peace talks had broken down between the two warlords. Hashirama and Madara had been required to fight again.
A few weeks later, Hashirama had offered his own peace treaty to the Uchiha clan. It had, after all, been Madara's idea. In a way.
So why had Madara been so reluctant to take Hashirama's hand? To shake and officially end the warfare? Or had Hashirama just been too eager? Had he been too eager? Had he held on a bit too long, smiled a bit too wide? Had he...
Not until after Konoha was formed did Hashirama realize that, even when the battles were over, he was still obsessed.