A/N – Apologies for my very long delay on this and other stories – Life and Kishi's disappointing handling of the Founders Flashback (IMO) got in the way. Also I have been playing around with this story and have decided to change it from being a short fic into something a little more substantial to flesh out some of my old theories about the Founding Era.
With that in mind you may see more focus on other characters and relationships than just Madara's obsession with Mito but it is very much the core of the story. Another small note is I've changed the timeline a bit - the Clans have now been here for a number of months rather than a month.
M rating is for language and continuing adult themes. It doesn't necessarily mean anything too explicit so don't be too disappointed. I think good writing wins over gratuitousness every time although whether it's good is totally up to you.
Thanks to all those who took the time to favourite/review the 1st chapter.
Naruto still doesn't belong to me...
Chapter 2 - The Power of Dreams
'Following the roads
Of dream to you, my feet
Never rest. But one glimpse of you
In reality would be
Worth all these many nights of love.'
Ono No Komachi
'All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.'
T. E. Lawrence
Delicate fingers trace over his shoulder and down his back, sending warm shivers through him. Madara stirs slightly and feels lips press against the column of his throat. They move upward to nuzzle at his ear and he growls softly in appreciation. Faint perfume fills his nostrils as he breathes in the scent of her and their lovemaking. Madara smiles in his sleep and turns to capture the object of his dreams but she melts away from him.
"Mito." He demands huskily. "Come here." Why is she running from me?
But before he can recapture his beauty, the sunlight hits his sensitive eyes like senbon and Madara stirs fitfully. It couldn't be more than a few hours past dawn and he had been up for most of the night. Grinding his teeth, the Uchiha screws his eyes shut and tries to block out the insistent chirping of birds and the dull hiss of cicadas. The morning chorus continues unabated and after a few minutes he realizes it's futile.
Well, I can think of other things to do…Madara smirks as he reaches instinctively for Mito.
His hand stretches out, seeking soft skin, only to be met with cold, bare sheets. Coal black eyes flare open and he remembers.
Mito - Hashirama's wife…
Madara lets out a long breath as he leans back, alone in his bed.
Pathetic. He thinks, disgust covering the yawning hole of isolation. I can't believe I sank to that again.
Raking a hand through his spiked hair, he rises angrily and stalks towards the bathroom. Sleep was beyond him now and he has better things to do than waste time in lurid fantasies. He splashes cold water on his face, and glares into the mirror.
You are Uchiha Madara – a legend. He thinks, Sharingan boring into Sharingan. Uchiha Madara does not pine after women; he takes them and throws them away after he's done.
His natural self-assurance should have kicked in by now but all he can feel is a lingering silence that nags at him.
If I am so powerful, why isn't she mine? It seems to ask.
"The woman means nothing." He says aloud to himself. I only want her because she's the only one worth having in this wretched place.
And she's Hashirama's…The darker side of him whispers.
Yes, he couldn't deny the pleasure he would feel at taking something precious away from the Senju leader. The triumph when Mito succumbed to his seduction, as he knew she would if he ever determined to take her. For a moment he allows himself to imagine Hashirama's reaction to being supplanted – the generous laugh dying in the throat, the desolate look in those trusting, brown eyes…
It might break him. Madara realizes with an odd, twisting sensation in his throat.
Why am I still thinking about this nonsense? He almost spits as he turns away. This is why I detest rumination.
The scent of aromatic soap fills the air he busies himself with washing. The Uchiha scrubs vigorously, skin turning red as if he could literally wash away the persistent mood. Drying himself harshly with a towel, he runs a comb through his tangled mane, enjoying the twinges of pain as he works through the knots. It is a minor punishment for his lack of discipline. His body clearly still aroused by the night's activities, protests at his repressive attitude.
Fine…perhaps I do just need a woman. Or several…
He tries to smirk at the thought but his mind turns restlessly back to the dream despite his best efforts. Lashes flutter closed involuntarily as he feels the press of loving hands again. For some reason the sensation feels more profound than any physical satisfaction. How long has it been since he'd felt that? Like he actually cared about a person beyond their usefulness to his ambition? Not since…
A warrior has no need for affection, Madara. In this world it will only be used against you. Put your feelings into gaining status for the Clan instead. That is the greatest form of love. His father's voice echoes in his head as Madara represses the tide of emotion that threaten to bubble up.
I don't need reminding of that. He thinks viciously as he strides back in to the bedroom and grabs his clothes. Power is the only thing that matters in this world, no matter what that idiot Hashirama believes…
Face still thunderous, the raven-haired man drags an Uchiha branded mantle over his head and straps on his blood red armor. The snap of each buckle feels like another layer of pride fixing onto him. He welcomes it like a mother's embrace, the weight and press of the metal comfortingly familiar.
This is the only reality. Madara thinks as the Sharingan glows from under shadowed lashes. With this, I will bring honor to my family's name. Anything else is a distraction.
Pulling on his usual fireproof gloves he flexes his hands and smiles. He might have finally given in to this foolish childhood dream but he would be damned if he let his people fall because of the Senju's softness. He has to be harder than granite if he is to protect them from horrors of this world. Let Hashirama have his pretty wife; Madara's sight is set on greater things.
The air is filled with the controlled shouts of men at arms as they practice their katas in row upon row of deadly, rhythmic precision. It should fill Madara with a surge of pride watching his soldiers flow through the moves effortlessly, but instead he glowers at them. They are good but that goes without saying - they are Uchiha. With that in mind this display is average. And with the enforced Alliance always at the back of his brain, average is more unacceptable than usual.
Those bastard Senju could do better with their hands tied behind their backs.
"Put more effort into it!" He shouts.
His ruby eyes pick out the defectors. Hiruko, Akito and more behind. They avoid his gaze, focusing on the taijutsu, blending in as if they were still part of the Clan. His hands curl into fists before he consciously relaxes them. By rights they should be dead by his hand, but Hashirama had insisted they be spared as part of the peace treaty.
It disgusts him to have them here mixing with their betters, but it keeps the traitors under his eye.
"Change!" He bellows from his vantage point above the regiment. "Form ranks five ninja across. I want to see Grand Fireballs the size of a house. When the last rank has finished, repeat the jutsu until I tell you otherwise."
They hurry to obey his commands but his eagle eyes notice the lurking resentment, however well hidden. Hiruko's eyes flicker to Takashi - a tall, silent man who barely acknowledges the new order.
So that's how it is…Madara thinks grimly. The worms seek shelter under the larger vermin.
Takashi hadn't deflected but he and his little clique had done everything they could to undermine Madara's leadership under the veil of obedience. Memories of the whispers, accusations and his brother's blindfolded, dead face begin to rise again. Forcing himself to focus on his promise to Izuna, the past fades and the feelings become part of the ever-present miasma within him.
It will be your turn to dance soon, Takashi…and then you will know who is the real Lord of the Uchiha.
The breeze has become ripe with the smell of smoke and the latent heat of fire chakra. More dark, mantled figures replace the first row and barrage of flames continues. A few glance up briefly as if to gauge the reaction of their taciturn leader, before joining their fellows at the back of the group.
Did you expect me to be impressed? Madara thinks acidly. They were producing this in my father's day; surely there must be an improvement by now?
There had been, he remembers it. He also remembers endless lines of coffins – most of his best fighters. All that remain are these dregs.
Is this fulfilling your promise, brother? Making sure our Clan survive even in this crippled state? He shakes his head. This can't be what you wanted.
"Pathetic!" He shouts and they stop to look at him, some impassive, others almost sullen. "Don't stop, you fools! And put your hearts into it! Is this how you would show pride in your heritage?"
His pupil Setsuna steps forward and Madara notes with approval that his blaze is larger than the rest. Following his example, his peers increase their chakra flow to match his.
The boy is young, but he has a bright future.
Madara picks out more promising youths interspersed with the mediocre crowd. At least they were assured of the chance to hone their skills properly unlike the gory lottery of his childhood.
Hashirama was right about that at least…
The clack of sandals announces the approach of a visitor. Madara feels his brief, positive mood evaporate. He doesn't need to sense the thrum of overwhelming life force to know who it is.
Name the demon and he appears… Madara thinks and recalling the slight of the previous evening, decides to ignore his so-called 'friend'.
"An impressive sight." The Senju's voice observes from behind him.
The words aren't loud but they carry never the less as Hashirama no doubt intends and Madara's temper ignites furiously on seeing the nearest of his men's backs straighten and their chins raise with the compliment as they wait their turn to prove themselves.
"Double speed and no slacking." He barks down at them.
Damn them for reacting to a worthless Senju's praise! I will have the first to fail the jutsu whipped as an example.
The raven-haired man turns and fixes his rival with hard red eyes.
"I'll thank you for keeping your observations of my Clan to yourself." Madara snaps as he moves to pass the other man. "They need no encouragement from you."
Perhaps if I move fast enough I can avoid today's dose of moral platitudes …
Hashirama is too fast for him. "Forgive me." The taller man replies, his lips twisting in a self-depreciating smile. "Old habits die hard and I'll never lose my respect for the damage that jutsu can do." He says indicating the Grand Fireballs still ripping through the area below them.
Madara snorts and crushes the minuscule flash of something he feels at Hashirama's approval. If the man thinks flattery is all it takes to apologize then he is woefully mistaken. Madara neither wants nor needs it. Besides, he is clearly exaggerating – the Uchiha are nowhere near their best and they both know it.
"Is there a reason for your visit, other than to pander to my ego?" Madara bites, repressing the concern over his Clan.
It's Hashirama's turn to snort this time and he is on the edge of poking fun at said ego but catching Madara's mirthless look he wisely decides against it.
"Should I hide in a corner all depressed like the old days?" He jokes, trying to work the chinks in the Uchiha's thorny armor.
"It might get you out of my way." Madara says flatly, although with slightly less venom than he originally intends.
Has Hashirama really forgotten everything that happened last night? That would be just like the simpering dolt, so fixated on their childhood friendship. He might not be so forgiving if he knew Madara had spent the rest of the twilight hours seducing the illusion of Mito.
The Uchiha shifts slightly, remembering the shame he felt upon waking. In the bright light of day and under Hashirama's now friendly eyes, the previous night's actions feel even more repugnant. But the nauseous feeling in his stomach is certainly down to lack of breakfast rather than a more insidious uprising of guilt.
It's his own fault for being so arrogant with me.
Hashirama holds his gaze, his look becoming more speculative as he assesses his friend's mood. Madara refuses to give in to the slightly anxious notion that the taller man can read his thoughts. Senju leader's eyes narrow as he comes to a conclusion but before Madara can angrily refute any nonsense, Hashirama's mouth curves into a smile, his eyes alight with anticipation.
"I apologize for interrupting but there's a counsel meeting being called for the afternoon - "
"To discuss what?" Madara interrupts. "The number of counsel meetings we need to have before we make an actual decision about something?
Hashirama grins despite himself. "I know, I feel frustrated too, but it's the way of things when powerful people with different opinions come together."
Madara snorts again. "Politics bores me." He says, waving a dismissive hand. "You play Father today and chastise them. My Clan needs drilling."
"You complain to me when you feel left out of the decision-making process and yet you don't want to take the time to attend the meeting?" Hashirama's voice is even but Madara doesn't miss the edge of annoyance.
"Please Hashirama, we all know where the real decisions are being made. Why do you think I came over last night?"
It certainly wasn't for your company.
"That's not true, the other clans are important as well you know. And you came over because you enjoy irritating me in a myriad of ways, not least by keeping me up at all hours!"
"Did the God of Shinobi lose his precious sleep? What happened to the Senju's legendary vitality?"
"Don't call me that ridiculous title! You know it sets my teeth on edge."
Mine too, Madara thinks dryly.
"More importantly," Hashirama continues with the smile back on his face. "If the counsel meeting isn't until later on, that gives us time for a spar if you are up for it? After your drills of course."
Madara's eyes narrow as he evaluates the prospect. The training of his troops is a pressing matter and being in Hashirama's presence is grating. However his own advancement shouldn't be neglected. Uchiha led by example and defeating Hashirama is the next step, not only in reclaiming his standing in the eyes of the Clan but in the Village as well.
And nothing would satisfy me more than beating him to a pulp.
His lips curl into a half smirk before he can stop himself. "I think I could spare the time." Madara replies offhandedly.
Hashirama's grin widens and he smacks his friend on the shoulder.
"Fool." Madara bristles, but the other man just laughs at him. How many times do I have to tell him to stop doing that!
"Continue your training!" Madara addresses his men. "Kenshin, supervise them." His lieutenant breaks from the ranks with a bow and takes up position.
"We don't have to go now." Hashirama says. "You've can't have been training them for long."
"Nervous are we, Senju?" Madara needles him as he spares one last glance at his soldiers. "They've been training for four hours already."
Hashirama glances at the sun and back to Madara and his men with surprised unease. Madara dismisses it. Lesser shinobi cave under such pressure but the Uchiha should thrive on it. However, his Sharingan tells him that some of the men are down to their reserves under the extreme regime.
They need to break through their own personal limitations if they ever wish to reclaim our rightful place in this Alliance. But do they have the will to?
He looks into every scarlet eye unblinkingly, searching the depths of their souls, for pride this time, not weaknesses. Madara's long hair catches on the wind and with the sun illuminating him from behind, at that moment he truly looks like a God. Even Takashi cannot look away. Finally he speaks and his passionate tone carries across the large training ground.
"You are the Uchiha - the ones that control the flames in this Land of Fire!" He says, voice alive with the depth of his conviction. "Honor the name!"
"Hai!" They shout and salute him as one, backs unbending in spite of their exhaustion. Feeling slightly more generous he acknowledges it with a short nod before striding off side by side with Hashirama.
I too, have to surpass my limitations... Madara thinks as he cracks his gloved knuckles. But watching his adversary out of the corner of his eye, Madara can't resist the familiar thrill at the thought of testing himself against the Senju leader.
They may call you the God of Shinobi…but even Gods can fall.
The past is done, it's the future that matters now and as a consummate planner, he can deal with the future. The air is warming with the summer heat and he can smell the fresh scents of grass intermingling with cooking from the nearby settlement.
Facing his old foe across a wide field, Madara notices the anger of the last few hours falling slowly away from him. They smile at each other with the same challenge they have for years, but seeing the new buildings behind his rival and the tall mountain beyond, Madara feels a difference.
You haven't defeated me yet, Senju and there's everything still to play for.
A moment of razor wire tension and they are gone, racing towards each other. There's a steely hiss of drawn weapons and then a clash of metal on metal. Fire blooms out of nothingness, a hundred times brighter than in the Uchiha training ground. In its light, Madara sees all that he desires - leadership of this place, his face on that mountain. As the flames darken to red he remembers hair a similar shade, flowing through his fingers in the depths of night.
An impossible dream, he chides himself as Hashirama breaks through the aftermath of the fireball and lashes at him with Mokuton branches.
But wasn't this village too, an impossible dream? That nebulous part of him replies as he flips back, cutting the skyline in a graceful arc. His Sharingan gleam darkly as the village and Hashirama reflect in them.
Yes, it's true. Great things could be achieved through the power of dreams…
Author's Endnote – Constructive feedback/reviews are always welcomed. I really hope you enjoyed this latest chapter - it feels great to finally post something on here again! That being said, unfortunately due to my University course starting soon I'm not sure when the next update will be. Check my profile or Deviant Art for news.
And if you enjoy fanart please check out my Deviant Art account (link is on my profile page.) At the moment it's all MadaMito (and why not?) but I'm hoping to upload some pics of HashiMito and the Founders as a group in the future.