“Whatever you're thinking of, it’s not going to work,” Madara says sharply.
Hashirama laughs, glancing up from untangling two of Tobirama’s lines. “You don’t know what I'm thinking of,” he reminds Madara. “And if you did, it would be part of your plan.”
Madara harrumphs, folding his arms over his chest. “You never follow my plans,” he retorts.
That’s patently untrue, but before Hashirama can remind him of all the times he has, in fact, gone along with whatever ridiculous thing Madara's brain has spat out, the door opens.
“—didn’t actually need to manhandle me, you know. That was not necessary, and you're—”
“I saved your idiot life,” Tōka snaps, and shoves Izuna into the room. She pushes him down into a chair, shoves it over in front of his computer setup, and says, “Now stay there.”
Izuna makes a sound of soul-deep offense. “Madara! She—”
“He,” Tōka interrupts, “almost tripped face-first into Mito’s chest.”
Pulling a face, Izuna sinks down further in his chair, until only the very top of his head is visible. “I didn’t know she was going to be there,” he mutters. “And it was just as traumatic for me, have some sympathy. I can't believe Hashirama ever married her.”
For a long, frozen moment, Madara stares at his little brother. Then, with a sound of dismay, he slumps forward, burying his face in Hashirama’s shoulder.
Chuckling, Hashirama raises a hand to stroke over his wild hair, not trying to hide his amusement. “Did she see you?” he asks Tōka.
Tōka rolls her eyes, flopping down on the couch and stretching her legs out in front of her. “Only from the back, and I had my hair down. Plus Izuna was wearing a hat. It should be fine.”
From the sound Madara makes, that’s as good as a death sentence. “This is never going to work,” he bemoans, still into Hashirama’s shirt. “Your ex-wife is the director, and there’s that bulldog in security, and our idiot cousin is the manager—”
“You’ll make Kagami cry if he hears you talking about him like that,” Tobirama says, right behind them. Hashirama’s had enough exposure to his brother’s ability to appear wherever he wants, whenever he wants, that he doesn’t jump, but in his arms Madara squawks and jolts, all but climbing into Hashirama’s lap in one blur of nerves.
Tobirama snorts derisively, but Hashirama can see the way he’s smirking. He gives Tobirama an exasperated look, even as Madara tears himself free, and says, “It’s not a disaster.”
“You!” Madara snarls, and shoves himself into Tobirama’s space, clearly not listening to a word Hashirama is saying. “This is all because you can't get through the vent route we planned—”
Tobirama manages to look down his nose at Madara, even though he’s only a bare inch taller. “Izuna is the one who can't disable the sensors,” he retorts.
“Hey,” Izuna snaps, spinning around in his chair. “Even I can't hack everything, okay, this is not all on me—”
“Of course it isn't!” Madara hisses, puffing up like he always does when his brother’s honor is impugned. “It’s—”
“Who,” Tobirama bites out, “is the one who almost upended the whole operation because he was too busy staring at Mito's breasts—”
“Oh boy,” Tōka murmurs, deserting her spot on the couch to lean against Hashirama’s desk. Her smile is ruefully amused at she looks down at him. “I don’t know who I should be rescuing from who here.”
Hashirama chuckles, tugging the hair tie from around her wrist. “They’ll all get over it,” he says. “I think they just need to yell a bit first.”
Tōka rolls her eyes, but at least she looks amused. “Plan?” she asks, raising a brow at him.
“I would never undercut our mastermind like that,” Hashirama says loyally, and Tōka laughs in his face.
“Half our jobs only work because you’re in the background, planning around Madara,” she retorts, and nudges him with the toe of one stiletto heel. “Well?”
Hashirama laughs a little, leaning into her hip. “All the main players have seen some of us,” he says, “but Mito is the only one who knows me. if you distract her…”
Tōka’s smile turns wicked. “Distract? I can manage that. But are you sure you can get past Madara's new favorite roadblock?”
“The head of security?” Hashirama tips his head, and smiles. “I think he’ll be quite agreeable, honestly.”
Kakuzu is absolutely going to kill someone before his contract is up. Possibly the art director, but more like the gallery’s owner. Indra is a bastard at the best of times, but since his falling out with his brother, he’s turned into the kind of person Kakuzu wants desperately to stuff down a toilet in a public bathroom. It would probably be good for him. Character-building. At worst it would get him out of Kakuzu’s hair for a few hours, and at this point he’s willing to take what he can get.
“Sorry I'm late,” he says grimly, all but hurling himself down into the uncomfortable metal chair this café seems to think counts as chic. There aren’t even any cushions, though, and Kakuzu calls bullshit. His ass doesn’t give a damn about how a thing looks, he just wants to be comfortable.
Across the table, the book drops, and his date looks up with a smile. “Kakuzu!” he says, like being in Kakuzu’s presence is something wonderful, something to be celebrated. It makes something in Kakuzu’s chest turn, makes him have to catch his breath.
Maybe, he grudgingly admits, Hidan putting up a joke dating profile on one of those hookup websites wasn’t such a tragedy after all. He’s still going to kill him for it, though.
“Boss caught me,” he says, gruff, but his eyes catch on the way Hashirama has braided his hair today, the thick plait of black that falls over his shoulder and almost into his lap.
Hashirama’s smile takes on a touch of sympathetic grimace as he tucks his book away. “Mine, too,” he says, inviting Kakuzu to share the joke. “I only just got here myself. Bosses who yell are the worst.”
Kakuzu pulls a face in agreement, though he can't quite imagine anyone going so far as to yell at Hashirama. The man seems perfectly sweet, even if his taste is suspect; Kakuzu has no illusions about his own worth as a date. He’s crochety, usually some shade of angry, and he’s stood Hashirama up four times in the past two weeks. Putting up with that just to get a second date seems a little bit like self-flagellation on Hashirama’s part, and Kakuzu’s pretty sure no one who looks like Hashirama actually needs to go that far for sex.
Maybe he’s just a masochist. It’s not Kakuzu’s thing, usually, but he can work with that.
“That asshole should just call his brother and get it over with,” he mutters, but he takes the menu Hashirama offers him with a sound of thanks.
“Family trouble?” Hashirama asks, and this time his grimace is a little deeper. “I work with brothers, and I don’t envy you.”
Kakuzu rubs at his temple, exhausted just from thinking about it. “I only work for the one, but Indra's a shithead about it. Apparently his brother took over their father’s school, and now he’s up in arms about it. Not that I blame the dad. Indra's got a temper like a rabid wolf, and I guess he put Ashura in the hospital once. Training accident, but…”
But Indra has a bad habit of not containing his temper the way he should, and Kakuzu’s pretty sure that’s what happened there.
“Family,” he says disgustedly, and Hashirama laughs, offering him a hand across the table.
“We can change the subject?” he asks.
Kakuzu grunts, more than ready to do just that. He eyes Hashirama’s hand for a long moment, then raises his gaze to that handsome face, and—
Fuck it, he thinks. It’s been a long day, and a longer week, and Kagami knows he left early. Kakuzu can just take the rest of the day, and call it a mental health day. screwing a beautiful man with a mouth like Hashirama’s probably good for some part of his brain, at least.
Instead of taking Hashirama’s hand, he reaches out, curls his fingers around Hashirama’s wrist and tightens his grip, just a little. Hashirama freezes, breath catching, and Kakuzu pushes up to lean over him.
“I know exactly why you picked me,” he says, and dark eyes flicker up to him, sharp. He’s always hiding that sharpness, Kakuzu thinks. After this many conversations Hashirama is still playing the fool, but Kakuzu can see that he’s not. “And I know what you want, Hashirama.”
Hashirama swallows, lashes fluttering down for half a moment. “Do you?” he asks softly. “And what is that, Kakuzu?”
Kakuzu uses his grip to pull Hashirama to his feet, around the edge of the table, and then right up to him. “Sex,” he says bluntly, and watches Hashirama’s gaze flicker back up to his face, intent and far too pretty for Kakuzu’s peace of mind. He presses his thumb to Hashirama’s lips, watching them part just a little, and says, “Four missed dates is a lot of time to hold out for a hookup.”
“Well,” Hashirama says, and his voice is a little rough. “That picture of your abs was enough to convince me it would be worth the wait.”
Kakuzu’s definitely going to kill Hidan, but—
Hashirama leans in to kiss him, and his mouth is soft and sweet and warm, and Kakuzu thinks that maybe he can make it a quick death, just because.
“What,” Zetsu snarls, even as one of the security guards hauls him back. “You can't do this! You're implicated as well!”
Indra gives him a cold, cutting look as he passes. “I think you’ll find I'm not,” he says, and Ashura smiles at him, bright and relieved. Indra stops several feet away, doesn’t reach out, but his eyes are on his brother and don’t waver.
“I knew,” Ashura says softly. “I knew it wasn’t you.”
Indra's expression twists, gaze flickering to where Ashura is still hiding broken ribs under his suit. “It was me,” he says flatly, and then takes a breath. “Just—not entirely.”
Adorable, Kakuzu thinks viciously, rubbing his wrist where the bruiser girl with the topknot put him in a joint lock. He turns away from the touching scene of brothers reuniting, looking around the gallery, and wonders what he can possibly put on his resume about this. Head of security for what was actually a drug-smuggling operation operating out of an art gallery probably isn't going to put him at the head of the line for future employment.
Deciding he’d rather be anywhere other than here, Kakuzu turns on his heel and stalks past the cops swarming in the lobby, past the wide glass doors thrown open and the pair of officers wrestling Zetsu into a squad car. There's a circle of onlookers, curious about the spectacle, and Kakuzu snarls, shoves through them without pause, and—
A familiar face. Familiar faces, leaning back against a van that’s parked beside the kerb. The man in the middle is the one Zetsu chased out of the gallery three weeks ago, and the woman is the bruiser Kakuzu tangled with less than an hour ago. Leaning into her side is the asshole thief’s kid brother, another one they were warned about, and on Madara's other side…
“Hello again,” Hashirama says cheerfully, and the white-haired bastard beside him, who stole Kakuzu’s keys right off his belt this morning, snorts and looks away.
Played. Kakuzu was played. He looks from Hashirama to Madara to the bruiser, and scowls.
“You slept with me for information?” he demands.
Hashirama grins, bright and unrepentant. “We didn’t actually sleep together,” he says. “Tobirama interrupted us.”
The white-haired man makes a sound like a cat with a hairball, and vacates Hashirama’s side, moving over to the bruiser.
Kakuzu might still be a little bitter about that; he gives Tobirama a dark, narrow look, then turns his gaze back to Hashirama, trying to work things out. “You got Ashura to come back,” he says. “The note Indra found from him, and the note he got from Indra…”
“Too simple,” Madara mutters. “Where was the drama? Where was the heist?”
“Excuse you,” the bruiser says, draping her arm over Izuna, “just because you didn’t get knocked out this time doesn’t make it any less of a heist.”
Hashirama laughs over the sound of Madara's spluttering. “That was us,” he agrees easily, and pushes away from the van, approaching Kakuzu with a smile that’s entirely unapologetic. “I did use the information about Indra and his brother that you gave me, but…” He waves a hand at the rest of the team. “It was a group effort to work everything out.”
Kakuzu stares at him for a long, long moment. It’s probably at least a little inappropriate to think a band of thieves robbing his place of (former) employment is hot, but—
Hashirama is wearing his hair in a braid again, and that makes it all too easy for Kakuzu to step close, wrap it around his fist, and haul Hashirama down into a bruising kiss.
“You owe me a fuck,” he tells him. “Your brother’s a cockblock.”
The bruiser woman groans, and Tobirama pulls a face of pure disgust. “Brother,” he complains, but Hashirama just laughs.
“I suppose I do,” he says, and that smile is a fucking tease. “Now that we’re not undercutting your employment.”
“I think I just got fired anyway,” Kakuzu mutters, casting a glance back to where Ashura and Indra are walking out of the building together. “Indra's going back to that school his family started.”
“Well,” Hashirama says judiciously. “If you're looking for employment that doesn’t involve quite as many drug deals, we could always use a man of your talents.”
“You don’t know a damn thing about my talents,” Kakuzu says, pointed, and pretends it doesn’t feel like a victory when Hashirama’s breath catches. “But I can show you, if you really do have space on your team.”
“My team,” Madara says loudly. “This is my team, and you had better be asking me for permission to date that idiot, because he is on my team and—hey!”
Kakuzu flips him the bird and kisses Hashirama again. It’s pretty much a job interview, so he puts in some effort.
Given the way Hashirama goes a little weak at the knees, he’d say it’s worth it.