Sorry for the short hiatus! School and tests and finals and whatnot.

How was everyone's winter break? (if you had one)

Good, good.

Well, here's something surprisingly different, actually. It sort of just came out...

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, because NejiTen is not canon, and Tobirama doesn't appear any more than Konohamaru does. Actually, less. Ha.


Chapter 28: And then he smiled.


Sleepless nights haunted him, a specter of misery even greater than that of death. It was then that he found how grief and suffering was a punishment even greater than death, and that he'd rather die than continue through this endless cycle. His reflection in the mirror was gaunt and pale, eyes bearing dark circles from cold, sleepless nights. At first, his stomach had growled insistently, but by the fourth day, the aching gnaw in his pit was reduced to a hum in the background. He accepted no food until the sixth day, when he made a breakthrough in his work.

"Tobirama, if you don't eat, I'm going to murder you," Mito hissed, eyes flashing red.

"I don't care. Kill me if you like."

"Tobirama, consider someone other than yourself for once!" Mito shouted, grabbing him by the collar and shaking him. It was then that she realized how much weight he had lost in that week, from eating little to nothing—maybe an old loaf of bread he found in the old room's cabinets—and never sleeping. He was prominently thinner, though his muscle mass remained hanging onto his skeleton. If he would only eat a bit and come outside, everything would be back to normal…

"I am considering other people, Mito," Tobirama answered flatly. But the look in his eyes was dead, and Mito knew then that nothing she did would change that.

"If you leave that girl alone, I will never forgive you," she spat in his ear. Turning on her heel, Mito exited the old study. She didn't once let her gaze linger on the old mahogany desk, a work of art created by hand. It held too many memories for her to face at the moment. She understood why Tobirama was secluding himself, but it didn't mean that his grief had to affect others. She herself had placed too much burden on others by holing up in her room, with only a few Senju relatives and Mariko dropping in from time to time. She had seen, then, that Mariko had lost far more weight that Tobirama had in a week. Nowadays, she systematically moved from place to place, whether it was taking care of her son or making the dinner that Tobirama never touched.

When the blue-haired little boy was tucked into bed, satisfied with his nighttime story about daddy and uncle, a kiss on the forehead to wrap up the ceremony, Mariko was found every day, without fail, in the kitchen, at a table set for four. Alone. Eventually, Mito joined her, and took away the fourth plate, but the third seat remained empty. Even before the Second Hokage locked himself away doing Hashirama-knows-what, the table had been more and more desolate, more and more lonely as the days crawled by.

One day, Mito softly suggested that they have a conversation, to brighten up the meal. Late as it was, it was still dinner, and a dinner conversation was called for. So, for the first time in a long time, Mariko spoke to Mito. The first and only words she dared utter to Mito, in fear of breaking down, saddened the Uzumaki greatly.

"I feel like he's dead, too."


The peace treaty between the Leaf and the Cloud was supposed to go off without a hitch. The infamous Gold and Silver Brothers weren't supposed to cause problems. One would think that the Uchiha would pull a coup; no, Ginkaku and Kinkaku's coup d'état disrupted the peace alliance between the nations, and left the two kage near death. In the end, their goal ultimately failed, seeing as they attacked their own kage and were forever looked down upon. The Second Raikage made amends with Tobirama, after both healed completely of course.

A panic-stricken Mariko had followed the first fleet of shinobi to Kumogakure, despite Mito's attempts to restrain her. She had burst into hysterics upon seeing Tobirama in the hospital, telling him that he wasn't supposed to die on her.

"I won't die on you, silly," he promised, words strained through labored breathing. She could hardly look at the portion of his chest that was blown away, despite the blankets covering his body.

"You weren't supposed to do anything stupid," she sobbed pathetically. "You're supposed to come back to me, and Mito, and our son, and our—" She cut off suddenly. Tobirama's interest was piqued, and he glanced over, weakly turning his head.

"Our…?" He prompted.

"Our daughter."

Tobirama stared at her, then. She was unchanged, after all these years, still the sweet, petite little beauty he had fallen in love with. Even with her runny, red nose and her puffy eyes, tear streaks down her face and presenting him with a blubbering mess, he hadn't forgotten that he had another person in life to whom he owed something. He couldn't just leave her, and he'd never intended to.

"Our daughter," he echoed contemplatively. His eyes dropped to her midsection, doubtfully. She had always been a slim girl, but he saw no indication of the bulge that would indicate pregnancy. With their boy, he remembered that they discovered his gender when she had a rather prominent, round belly at the time.

She nodded insistently.

"You know it's a girl already? How many weeks in?" he demanded quickly, wincing at the searing pain that tore across his abdomen when he tried shifting position.

"Stay still!" snapped Mariko, pushing him back down. He grunted in discomfort, immediately producing a horrified expression on the blunette's features. "I'm so sorry!"

"No, don't be. Just tell me about the baby," Tobirama insisted. "You know for sure it's a girl?" Just the thought of a daughter lifted his spirits.

"Mmmm, we don't know yet," Mariko admitted. Tobirama gave her an exasperated look; sometimes, the suspense was not good for his health anymore, especially with Mariko. "But I just know it, I feel it. You know, the others have been telling me that sometimes you get these feelings, and it just clicks. I felt a click. This time, there's…"

Tobirama found comfort in her familiar rambling, and soon, at ease, fell asleep to the stories of Mariko and the new baby.


Tobirama returned home safe and sound, with both Mariko and their baby. The Senju celebrated the announcement of the new child, and the village rejoiced.


Then, that day came around again. It had been little over a year since the date, and it seemed as if everyone had come to terms with the tragic event. The ones who had it the hardest, however, had not healed completely after a year. Tobirama, especially, lingered around the graveyard well past the memorial service, often camping out for lunch and dinner. Mariko and Mito dutifully joined him for dinner, contemplating the picturesque garden surrounding the First Hokage's grave.

We brought your favorite today. May you rest in peace, Hashirama.


But this time was different. Last year, they had spent Hashirama's birthday at the memorial, a date merely a week after his passing. This year, Kirigakure had other plans in mind. In a message depicting the Mizukage's level of hatred towards Konoha, twenty Leaf citizens—not shinobi—were brutally massacred just outside the village. Shinobi were sent after the perpetrators, but they had disappeared into the rising mist. Suitable for mist shinobi.

"Kill them," was the order. The ANBU who stood in front of the Hokage trembled, and their knees quivered. "Kill them and gut them, then tie their heads in their intestines and string them back to Kirigakure. And then we'll see what the Mizukage thinks."

The ANBU captain didn't dare raise his head. He'd spent many, many years with Tobirama, but at this point, he dared not make a smart remark. Even after both the Second, Third, Fourth, and possibly the Fifth passed their reigns, one glance at Kirigakure evoked a pit of emotion so deep he couldn't possibly name it.

But Danzo was silent. His team was silent. He watched their fingers quiver, and sweat roll down the backs of their necks. The black aura that Tobirama-sama emitted was beyond terrifying; it was the aura of a man who could kill Konoha's elite without even breaking a sweat. There was no defying this man.

The last time anyone had seen Tobirama so angry was when Mariko was kidnapped. Back then, even Hashirama hesitated upon the anger that Tobirama emitted. Konoha nearly thought the world was ending.

"They have disrespected the First Hokage, and for this they will—"

"Calm down, Tobirama." Konoha's most well-known source of authority, the other half of the First Hokage, Uzumaki Mito. "Deal with this properly. What would—"

"What would Hashirama do?! Is that all you ever ask me?! What my brother would think?! What would he think?!"

The four-man cell of ANBU in the room were terrified to the point of pissing their pants. No, they were in danger of melting straight into the ground, reduced to puddles of traumatized tears. Konoha's most brilliant, emotion-killed shinobi were quaking to their cores. The Second Hokage was a composed man. He was a composed man of knowledge, power, and leadership. To hear him scream in rage was a memory forever ingrained into their minds.

Outside the doorway, Team Tobirama, and the two others from Team Toka sank to the floor, glancing at each other with wide-eyed stares. Kagami swallowed hard, and Hiruzen tried to quiet his pounding heart. Homura clenched the cloth of his shirt too tightly in his fists, and Koharu's nails dig so deeply into her skin that she drew blood. Torifu was too terrified to even eat, and the sound of his food pack dropping to the ground caused all three of them to leap three feet in the air.

"Understand, Tobirama, that the Second Mizukage is trying to provoke you on purpose," Mito emphasized.

"I understand more than anyone, Mito," hissed Tobirama.

All four ANBU winced, then, and the five young shinobi outside cringed. They prepared themselves for the shinobi apocalypse.

One could almost hear the demon fox inside of Mito growling. She cast a menacing glare at the ANBU, who retreated respectfully to the doorway, exiting quietly.

"Did you just say that to me? Did you just tell me that I don't care about my own husband?"

"Mito—"

"Don't take back your words, Senju Tobirama! You've hurt far too many people already! If you want to hurt this village and this country, then go ahead! I'll be long dead by then, and I'll leave this damned beast for you to clean up!"

Mito slammed the door shut, storming past the ANBU, past the two teams, and outside. None of them were sure, but it was almost as if the stream of shine down Mito's cheek had been a runaway tear.


Kirigakure received nothing for an entire week. The assassins of the Mist rejoiced, cackling horrendously at Konoha's inept ability to deal with threats.

That is, until Tobirama himself walked into the Mizukage's office, stopping when twenty men armed with spears pointed their blades at his throat with the intent to decapitate him. Unfazed, Tobirama brushed past the soldiers, the same icy glare the ANBU had witnessed set on the guards. It seemed that the guards understood fear, because Tobirama's glare was accompanied by what they claimed to be the Death God. All twenty soldiers backed away abruptly, leaving the Second Mizukage to an interesting discussion later. The Hozuki grinned sadistically at the approaching Senju.

"How can I help you, Hokage-dono?" he smiled, teeth glinting. The edges of his lips curled up in a condescending smirk. Tobirama accepted none of this. To the Mizukage's surprise, when the Senju slammed his hand down on the desk, none of guards moved a muscle. He soon found out why.

All twenty guards fell down dead upon the impact of hand on wood.

"You will sign this peace treaty, or you will drop dead."

"Those are big words, Senju," mused the Mizukage thoughtfully. He choked on his words, though, when he felt his heart twinge. Whatever Tobirama was doing, it was not good news. "I'll consider, Senju, without the threats." Now, this was being diplomatic. The pressure on his chest lessened. "Good, good, let's talk."

"You are to make amends for the civilians you killed—"

"I think you just killed the same number of my guards, Hokage-dono—"

"Don't interrupt me."

Silence.

"You are to make amends, and then agree to a peace treaty with the Leaf. Until Kirigakure is eaten by Uchiha Madara and children grow wings, you are to abide by these rules. Appreciate your luck—if no one had interfered, you would've been dead the second I decided it in my comfortable bed at home."

The Second Mizukage decided then, that the Second Hokage would by far be the darkest Hokage of them all. The fact that he was summoned, generations later, by the Hokage's own forbidden jutsu, only fortified his opinions.

"Do you agree?"

A curt nod. "That doesn't mean I like you, Hokage-dono."

"I don't like you either."

"Ah, then we're on the same page. Good."


The Hokage had mysteriously disappeared, and when he returned, he casually told the ANBU to relax, which frightened them just as much as his earlier rage had.

"Treaty of Twenty Lives, he decided to call it," Tobirama informed Mito that afternoon. Mito stared at him incredulously, and read the document that stated the Konoha-Kirigakure Peace Treaty would stand under so-and-so conditions, and that should one village disregard this treaty, the consequences would be severe.

"What…did you do?" whispered Mito, reading all the documents. The Civilian-Shinobi Laws were revised? When did this happen?

"Nothing."

"Tobirama, you always had a tendency towards revenge. You are more easily provoked than your brother."

"So?"

"Please be careful."

Tobirama paused, deciding his next plan of action. His next project would be one carried out alone, and no one was to know. Mito's words, warm and forgiving, were tempting him to rethink his plan.

"I will, Mito." He would be careful. But it didn't mean he was going to backtrack; he'd already found enough information. All it would take was putting it together.


The night of the fifth day, Mariko knocked softly on his door. Their own bedroom was inhabited by one, sometimes two, when their little boy had nightmares, but nowadays, just Mariko. The bed was cold, and she often had trouble getting around with the growing baby. The time was close, and yet no one ever seemed to care. Only Mito kept a careful eye on her, on call at all times of the night and day.

No answer.

"Tobirama, I have some dinner, if you'd like. It's the Whirlpool cuisine we had last time, remember? I've got some of your favorite stuff in here, like—"

"I'm fine, Mariko." This was one time he didn't want to hear her run-on sentences and incessant chatter. He was so, so close.

"Are you sure?"

No answer.

Mariko pushed into the room, then, and the sight that greeted her eyes nearly made her faint. There stood Hashirama, alive and well, a shimmering coffin just behind him. Tobirama was reveling at his work, but his expression fell when the "revived" Hashirama failed to respond. The soul. It must've needed a stronger link to the body, was his hypothesis. A final connection to the mind and emotion was needed to bring the real life back to Hashirama.

"Tobirama…"

Tobirama whipped around to see Mariko, who had dropped the platter of food. She ignored the fact that a bowl had broken upon contact with the floor, and now the ceramic shards had cut up her ankles.

"What are you doing?" she asked softly.

"Nothing. It's none of your concern, please," Tobirama told her urgently.

"None of my concern?"

"You didn't see anything," Tobirama said, taking her shoulders gently. Hashirama, or the shell of him, anyway, retreated into the coffin and disappeared. Mariko began to panic, shoulders shaking. "Mariko, calm down."

"You, Hashirama, w-what is that, Tobirama, explain, right now—"

"NOTHING."

"Don't yell at me!"

"I'm not yelling, Mariko, just understand—"

The terrified emotion reflected so clearly in Mariko's green eyes was tearing him from his secluded state. It was then that he realized she was in the middle of a panic attack. It was also then that he realized that he had missed the growth of his own daughter, and had lost track of all time. When was the due date? July…July 15th?

That was a week from today.

"Mariko, calm down, please," he begged. She shook her head violently and pushed him away, stepping on another shark of broken dishware in the process. And then she ran. How she ran, with such a big burden on her, Tobirama hadn't a clue. All he knew was that there was no way that was good for the baby.

He caught her before she fell.

He cradled her gently and rocked her like he would their child as she slowly came back to a stable state. The light layer of genjutsu he cast on her made him feel slightly guilty, but there was nothing he could do.

When Mito demanded to know what happened, the only explanation was that she dropped the bowl, cut her feet, and fainted from the pain. Tobirama received dubious looks, but the fact that he was outside that accursed room was enough for Mito at the moment.

"I'm disappointed, Tobirama."

The first words of his creation, and the first day of success. The sixth day of starvation and seclusion had brought Tobirama a wealth of new knowledge and a breakthrough in the jutsu. Here stood Hashirama, alive and well and colored with life.

But he wasn't at all happy to see Tobirama.

"Don't mess with death, Tobirama. I've told you far too many times," Hashirama said gently. Before him was his little brother, five years old again, asking why their mother wouldn't wake up. The tears that gathered at the corner of Tobirama's eyes spilled over, and he choked back a sob.

"I just wanted to see you, Hash," he managed to say in the middle of his chest-wracking, quiet sobs.

"I know, Tobi. But you know it's wrong, right? You were always more of a…dark kid, I remember."

"Uncle thought I was evil," Tobirama sniffled miserably, suppressing a dry laugh.

"But you're not. You love people, and people love you. You can't possibly be evil." The same words he'd told his ten-year-old brother, when their clan elder of an uncle, a strict, condescending man, had accused Tobirama of bringing blight and failure to the year's crops. It was always Tobirama, the standout albino cursed with a ghost's white hair and the pale skin of the dead. He would forever be marked by the three tattoos some of the older clan members branded him with: ghost child, the evil one.

"You're my little brother, after all." Hashirama tucked Tobirama's head to his chest, holding his brother close.

"I can't do it, Hash. I almost made a war," Tobirama croaked, his voice cracking slightly.

"Almost. But you didn't," amended Hashirama. "Who would've expected Ghost Boy to become a handsome, powerful Hokage? Think about it."

Hashirama, the sensible one. Hashirama, the powerful one. Hashirama, the gifted, blessed by the gods and the angels with the power to sprout life from his very hands, to make the crops grow and save them from famine. One would think that he should shun his counterpart, the ghost child who sucked the life essence from the animals and the plants, destined to bring suffering to the clan. But Hashirama embraced his younger brother, accepting of his rare traits and sad face. He was determined to turn that eternal expression of hopelessness into a smile. Even once.

"The most renowned Water Style User in the world. A master of time-space ninjutsu and the authority of the greatest village."

"I've destroyed it, Hash."

"No, you haven't. You're still alive, aren't you? Mito's alive, Mariko's alive, our children are alive. Your daughter is alive."

Tobirama looked up then.

"Live for her. I'm not about to come back and let you shrivel up in a corner like a demented mushroom," Hashirama said, provoking a small chuckle from his brother. But the deceased Senju took his brother's hands, then, and in all seriousness, gazed at him straight in the eye. "So I want you to do this for me now, Tobirama. Are you listening?"

Hashirama waited for the accepting nod, indication that Tobirama was willing to let go. He knew that if he let Tobirama go without full acceptance, nothing would change. This Edo Tensei would only tear him to pieces.

"I want you to seal this away with the seal Grandpa taught us, add a four-layer self-destructive barrier on top, and after that, one of Mito's Whirlpool seals to finish. You are to never fool around with death again, do you hear me?"

Tobirama nodded, understanding.

"Now, Tobirama, aren't you supposed to make me proud?"

Hashirama smiled, then, and Tobirama watched, partially in shock, as his brother began to fade. He barely choked out "Hashirama", but the older brother shook his head.

"I couldn't tell you that time, but," Hashirama whispered, putting his forehead to his little brother's.


"Goodbye, Tobirama. I love you."


Tobirama would have cried had Orochimaru not placed an emotion-killing seal in his back. He had really killed everyone. What had he done, why had he created this abomination of a technique? He killed his own student.

"That's not true," protested Hiruzen. "I was glad to see you guys, you know? I died protecting the village, just like you and the First did."


"This is the most evil of all jutsus," Muu spat. "Where's the Second Hokage, he should be the caster of the technique."

"I don't know, but I don't mind settling the score with him," the Second Mizukage chuckled, cracking his knuckles menacingly.

"The Second has been dead for a long time," the redhead Sand shinobi informed them.

"And who are you?"

"The Fourth Kazekage."


The healthy baby girl was born right on time, the middle of July. Tobirama had caught up well on lost time, spending hours at a time with a hand on Mariko's belly, feeling for kicks, or with his ear pressed close, listening for the baby. When the baby was born, Mito, carrying the baby, glared at Tobirama and said something about the mother seeing the child first—to which Biwako the nurse's maid sniggered at—and handed the child to Mariko. The blunette was the first to take in the newborn girl's features: A round, pink face, eyes squeezed shut as the child made her first cries of life, and a tuft of snowy white hair, baby soft strands that shone in the light.

"She's beautiful," Mariko murmured, and Tobirama came over then, circling both mother and child with his arms.


He always kept a picture of them hidden inside his armor. He gripped the photos in his fist so hard, he was sure he'd destroyed them. It was all right, though. He'd seen the smiling face of his son, soon to be a young man, and the happy laughter of his daughter, a girl whose smile shone brighter than any gem.

Warmth spread through his interior, red and slippery. He swallowed, and his throat balked at the metallic taste on his tongue, the taste of his own blood. He hardly heard or felt the rain; he only heard Mariko, whimpering quietly beside him. She said nothing, none of her usual rambling. She had understood well enough his words—words that he meant for sure this time.

I'm fine, Mariko. Nothing hurts, so don't worry about me.

She hadn't told him to "hang on, Koharu and Saru a-and all of them will be back soon" or "don't talk, you'll be fine". She simply nodded upon his announcement, and cradled his head in her lap.

Watch them grow up for me.

The mud was cold and slick, the freezing dampness crawling past both his armor and the fabric of his clothes. Mariko, no doubt, was freezing, but she neither complained nor shivered. Her hands were warm around his face, holding him so gently. He felt a shuddering breath leave him, then, floating into the rainy, Kumogakure sky. He mouthed his goodbye silently, eyelids fluttering to a close.


Goodbye, Tobirama. I love you.


The warmth of Mariko's hands left him abruptly, and he was gently pulled from his lying position. He was cold, but not for long. A new set of hands reached for him, and lifted him higher. A familiar silhouette led the way, a comforting sight—gentle slope of his shoulders, covered by a cape of auburn hair, and a soft smile—to calm him.

We both died young, Tobirama.

The sad story of the Senju brothers.

No, not sad. This is not a sad story.

Forest-brown eyes met garnet, and held.

This is our legacy.


Tsunade stared at the portraits of her predecessors. She remembered clearly the day her grandfather had died, despite her young age. She also recalled the exact sequence of events upon her great-uncle's passing.

Word had reached Konoha at the speed of lightning, ironically. The messengers posted at the border of Lightning made haste to the village, breaking the all-time Kumogakure-Konoha mail transit record. Not that anyone really paid any attention to such an inane detail.

Shinobi as far as the eye could see lined up alongside the main gates of Konoha; more like they crowded in panicked groups, buzzing around the village edge.

They parted, however, for a blue-haired little boy holding the hand of his little sister. They walked silently towards the gate, hand-in-hand, fitted in the traditional black garb of funeral processions. And they waited, until their mother appeared beside them, taking each of their small hands in hers, leading the way to the burial site.

As was Hurricane tradition, she wore her wedding dress the entire day, her siblings on either side of her, carrying the long, excess tresses of the garment. Several shinobi turned away, unable to continue watching the solemn look of perseverance on Mariko's face. Her lower lip trembled, and tears threatened to spill over, but she walked straight and true, like the princess she was, with her husband's casket.

Six shinobi lined each side of the memorial. A portrait of Tobirama, and a myriad of white flowers, a sea of farewell roses and bouquets. Mariko, again by tradition, set down the only red rose to signify "never-ending love".

The six ninja bowed their heads as she passed, and even the shoulders of the men began to shake. One shinobi, regardless of the crying men and kunoichi beside him, kept a perfectly straight face. Until his name was called, he remained stoic and firm.

"Sarutobi Hiruzen," announced Mariko.

He turned, and the other five watched as he stepped up beside the ceremonial altar. The entirety of Konoha watched as Hiruzen, on the left of the Hokage's portrait, swallowed hard as he glanced over the silent children—his teacher's children. Then, daring to lift his eyes, he met Mariko's steady gaze. And then he realized that she had let the tears stream down her face, and her shoulders were racking with silent sobs. Someone had drawn Koharu away, for she was sobbing pathetically in front of the village, despite her usually stable emotional strength. Danzo covered his face with his hand, and Kagami looked at the ground, both of them with wet eyes and painful hearts. Torifu had long since fallen to his knees in despair, the gentle giant quivering with his tears. Homura took off his glasses and crushed them in his hands, almost angrily.

If only I had volunteered…ran through the minds of several.

If only we'd called for backup earlier, was the second.

If only we'd reached him sooner

"Sarutobi Hiruzen," repeated Mariko, working up the resolve. From beside the table, she lifted the Hokage's hat and held it before her. A collective murmur ran through the villagers, among the sobbing and the mourning.

Mariko glanced down briefly, only to see the short, curt nod that Mito assigned her. Tobirama had died with a smile on his face; he had not made any mistakes.

You are now the Village of the Hidden Leaf's…


Third Hokage.


It was an inauguration even quieter, heavier, and even graver than the last. The fact that Hiruzen's stepping up as Hokage was an event far more solemn that that of Tobirama's, spoke volumes. The First Hokage's death was the first tragedy, but for the Second's to follow in such a short time…

The Senju were as good as gone.

So the villagers cried.


They ran like the Death God was at their heels. Even if the Ambassador of Hell personally chopped off their arms, their legs, and their heads, they would still make it back in time. Hiruzen led a troop of 24 back-up shinobi, plus their original team of six, back to the site they'd left Tobirama. There had been an argument, a time-wasting argument. The one who ignited the dispute regretted it later. He'd demanded to know why they let the Hokage of all people stay behind.

Simply answered, Hiruzen said "Because he's protecting the king."


We'll make it.

We'll make it, we'll make it, we'll make it. There is definitely time left.

Of course, they didn't. An abrupt cry from Koharu broke Hiruzen's frantic mantra, and he looked up to see the twenty Cloud nin strewn across the field like broken puppets, drained of life and truly defeated. And then, in the center of it all, where the light seemed to glisten and form a halo, two fallen figures.

One, hair broken loose from its tie, sopping wet on her back in the downpour, singing a song they couldn't hear from such a distance. In her arms, a man they knew well, lying perfectly still. Hiruzen couldn't see his chest rising or falling, and he panicked.

It's because I'm still so far away, he thought sensibly.

But his arms were folded across his chest, and he body was laid straight except for his head, which Mariko was still cradling. He noticed, then, that she had retrieved his wedding ring from his pack and had slipped it over her own ring. It was too big, but the way she clenched her fist over it with white knuckles, it wasn't about to go anywhere. Hiruzen recognized the action; Mito had taken Hashirama's ring when he died, as well.

They formed a semi-circle around the two. The silence that fell upon them was deafening, excluding the lightening rain. It had reduced to a small pitter-patter, but the only sound they noticed was what sounded like an angel's wings flapping once, twice, three times. A gentle breeze took the rest of the rain away.

"Tobirama-sensei…?" began Hiruzen, swallowing to keep his voice from cracking.

Mariko stroked her husband's forehead; it was cold, now. Then, she looked up past Hiruzen and smiled. The group of shinobi froze in terror, realization dawning on their faces as clearly as the sun emerging from the storm. Some cried out, and some fell to their knees, and the rest began to cry silently, but Hiruzen paused. He followed Mariko's gaze and looked up at the sky.


There he was, in the free, silver clouds, smiling over the world.


End.


Ah, that was sad... ninja history incorporated with bad Naruto timeline and character death. And Edo Tensei.

No, this isn't the end of the story (the short-story series), just how Tobirama passed on.

At least, in the world that revolves around my head and tells me to procrastinate.

Comments? Like, dislike?

And I haven't named their children. I can't bring myself to... =_=

I might as well call them "Blue" and "Silver".

Haha.

Also! I might start a NejiTen ministory series. Maybe. =3= I don't write them well, so...

Note: Yes. I'm so confused, that I mess up both Naruto timeline and my own. cheers.

Have a great day, wherever you are! ~