“He’s not going to thank you for this,” Tobirama says.
Hashirama ignores the weight of his brother’s eyes on him, keeping his attention focused on the still body on the futon in front of him. “I’m not doing it for thanks,” he says firmly, and breathes out carefully when another small bit of flesh mends. Not much, but—it’s a start. Anything is a start.
“Four Senju died in that battle,” Tobirama says, and his voice is what most people might mistake for flat, but Hashirama can hear the bullish edge to it.
“And I mourn for them,” Hashirama returns, and means it. He hates the thought of any of their clan dying; it’s what he’s been working so hard to stop for years now. “But if you can’t see that preserving the life of the Clan Head’s little brother is vastly important in the scope of this war, you’re not as sharp as I thought you were, Tobirama.”
Tobirama huffs, but under Hashirama’s hands Izuna moans, twitching in unconsciousness. His fingers open, close, and his lashes flutter, but he stays asleep.
Hashirama doubles down, watching the deep tear in his side close just a little more. Strange, not healing a Senju—Izuna’s body reacts differently, with a strange sort of resistance. If Hashirama didn’t know better, he would think Tobirama’s sword had been poisoned. But—it wasn’t, Tobirama was sure of that. Swore it to him, and Hashirama believes his little brother. Maybe, in the time between the wound being given and Madara finally caving and bringing Izuna to him, someone poisoned Izuna? It wouldn’t be inconceivable, given the competition between shinobi clans and the number of enemies the Uchiha have outside of the Senju.
“He still won’t thank you,” Tobirama says, pointed, and straightens up from where he’s been leaning. “And there’s every chance he’ll try to remove your head from your shoulders. Should he get to it before the elders manage.”
Hashirama sighs, but he can’t spare any attention for the thought of the clan’s advisors. “Make up something that will distract them,” he tells Tobirama. “Just—whatever excuse you think they’ll accept for why we have Izuna right now. I trust you.”
Tobirama is silent for a long moment, then snorts. “I’ll send a tray up for you,” he says, and then the door slides shut, no sound of footsteps to mark his departure.
In the silence, the rasp of Izuna’s breaths are too loud, to haggard. Pressing a hand against his chest, Hashirama lets a portion of his attention move to Izuna’s lungs, trying to stop the creep of blood into them. Tobirama was thorough in his work, and it’s reasonable, expected—they were enemies on the battlefield, trying equally hard to kill each other, and it was down to Tobirama’s greater skill that he managed to wound Izuna so deeply. But—
“I hate this,” Hashirama confesses to the still body before him, and curls his fingers. Careful, delicate work, mending lungs, and he’s already tired from battling whatever is wound through Izuna’s system, from the fight this morning, from trying to heal the Senju who were wounded. If Madara had come to him even an hour or two later, he might not have had enough chakra to even get this far.
He means it, though. All this fighting, all these politics getting in the way of what they could accomplish in peacetime, in the way of the lives they should be leading. Hashirama is a soldier, and a good one, but—
If he had the choice, he would be anything else.
“I am sorry that waking will be such a shock for you,” he tells Izuna, some thread of humor slipping through as he knits veins back together, chases down the little bits of infection that are already starting. “You were so adamant that Madara couldn’t trust us, but—I think he loves you too much to listen to you.”
It’s a familiar sentiment. If Tobirama were hurt and dying and only an enemy could save him, only an enemy wanted to help, Hashirama would agree. He’s lost too much, seen too many chances for peace fall through, and at this point he has to have faith in something.
If Madara feels the same, Hashirama is just glad that Madara has faith in him.
Another soft sound of pain, another twitch, and Hashirama very carefully keeps his eyes down, attention on his healing as he feels Izuna’s consciousness surface. Tobirama had wanted to blindfold him, wary of the Sharingan’s power, but Hashirama had refused. Still refuses, because this will already be terrifying enough for Izuna; he doesn’t want the man to assume the worst immediately.
That might be wishful thinking, though; there’s a low groan, an aborted jerk like Izuna wants to reach for the wound, and then all at once Izuna stiffens. He jerks, like he’s going to twitch out from under Hashirama’s hands, and then freezes.
“Madara,” he rasps.
“He’s with the Uchiha,” Hashirama says soothingly. “He brought you to the Senju compound under a temporary peace agreement, but we thought it would be better if he didn’t stay. I can—”
“I,” Izuna says, precise, “am going to kill him.”
Well. Not quite the response Hashirama was expecting. He blinks, casting a quick glance at Izuna’s face, and is almost startled to see the fury there. Carefully, he lifts his hands, sitting back on his heels, and pauses, looking for words.
“You were dying,” he says. “Madara just wanted to save you.”
Izuna’s fingers curl into the futon, and his breath shakes as it emerges. “How dare you,” he hisses, and the venom in his tone is colder than a midwinter night. “How dare you save me, you bastard, all you want is a hostage—”
Ah. Reasonable, Hashirama thinks, and closes his eyes, smiling wryly. That would probably be Tobirama’s first thought after waking up in the enemy’s compound as well, and Izuna and Tobirama are alike in many ways even if they would rather not acknowledge it.
“Not a hostage,” he says, and ignores the angry, rasping breath Izuna takes. Looks up, and—
Dark eyes are resting on him, heavy, furious. Izuna’s face is pale and lined with pain, every inch of him braced for a blow or a betrayal, and Hashirama’s smile slips sideways into something sad.
“You’re not a hostage, Izuna,” he says patiently, quietly. “You’re a patient. Madara couldn’t sit by and watch you die.”
Izuna’s expression twists into something awful, aching, and he brings an arm up. Drops it over his eyes, but Hashirama can still see the way his mouth curves, the anger in it, the devastation.
“No,” he says, breathless, furious. “He was supposed to take my eyes. He was supposed to stay safe. I didn’t want this.”
Hashirama stops. Watches him, for a long moment, as his mind tries to make sense of that. “Your eyes?” he asks, and it’s like icy fingers traced down his spine. “Izuna, Madara wouldn never take your eyes—”
“It’s the only way!” Izuna snarls, and shoves up. He’s hurt still, grievously, and Hashirama makes a sound of alarm, lunges to catch him and push him back down, but long, strong fingers find the collar of his yukata, drag him up and in, right to Izuna’s burning Sharingan eyes.
“No,” Izuna says again. “Madara’s going blind! And once he loses the Sharingan, once he can’t use that anymore, he’s going to be helpless! I won’t let my last brother die!”
Izuna’s skin is hot. There’s a fever rising as his body fights off whatever he was poisoned with, but his eyes are clear. Crimson and coal, burning as he stares into Hashirama’s eyes, and the fury that twists his face is a living thing, dangerous, desperate.
“Izuna,” Hashirama says quietly, and curls his fingers around Izuna’s arm. “Izuna, how will giving Madara your eyes help that? It’s the natural progression of overusing the Sharingan.”
“It is,” Izuna says flatly, though his gaze hasn’t wavered. “But if one sibling takes another’s eyes, the degradation stops. The eye evolves. I was dying, and I could have saved Madara, so how could you—”
Hashirama blinks at him. “Why not just exchange eyes, then?” he asks, faintly mystified. “If you give Madara yours, and take his, won’t that work just as well?”
Izuna stops short, mouth dropping open. Pauses, then scowls, and lets go of Hashirama to shove him back with one hard push. “Shut the hell up, Senju!”
Knowing how Madara always reacts to such things, Hashirama carefully keeps his chuckle to himself. Instead, he sits back on his heels, raising his hands, and asks, “May I finish healing you? Madara will yell at me if I leave the job half-finished.”
That scowl deepens, but Izuna is clearly wavering, getting paler and paler as he sits there. Finally, with a huff, he sinks back onto the futon and says, “Only because I still have to yell at Madara about making deals with the enemy.”
“Of course,” Hashirama says, amused, and lets a flicker of chakra rise again, glowing green. Not a healing jutsu, just his own chakra, and he presses his fingertips to lightly frame the wound. Izuna’s movement seems to have weakened whatever poison was in his system, blood flow diluting it, breaking it down, and it’s easier now for Hashirama to send roots out through his veins, eating away at the remainder. In its wake, the wound heals more easily, and Hashirama carefully stitches torn flesh together, mends muscle, repairs blood vessels. It’s slow, arduous, but when he finally sits back Izuna’s color is better, and each breath comes without strain.
“I’ll send a hawk to Madara,” he says gently, and touches the back of Izuna’s hand where it rests on the futon. “Sleep. You can see him in the morning.”
Izuna opens his mouth to answer, eyes heavy, but before he can manage so much as a word the door slides open. Tobirama stalks in, wearing that particular smug look that makes dread sink down through Hashirama’s stomach. He only spares the briefest, most dismissive glance for the man he wounded, but he’s carrying two trays of dinner.
Hashirama would be touched by Tobirama’s faith in him if he weren’t so busy being terrified of what his little brother has done now.
“Tobirama?” he asks, almost a plea for Tobirama to prove his instinct wrong.
Tobirama levels that smirk at him. “Anija, I spoke to the elders.”
“Oh no,” Hashirama breathes, despairingly, and regrets ever pointing Tobirama in their direction.
This time, Tobirama turns his gaze to Izuna, who’s struggling to sit up, and that smirk is pure evil. “You’ll be glad to know, anija,” he says pointedly, though he doesn’t look away from Izuna’s narrow-eyed, hostile glare, “that they have accepted the Uchiha’s presence in the compound, and extend their congratulations for finding an unorthodox path to peace.”
“Tobirama,” Hashirama says. “What did you do?”
This is purely meant to antagonize Izuna, with Hashirama as unwilling collateral. “I informed them that you and Izuna were planning to marry,” he says, and Izuna makes a sound like a cat choking on a live bird. “Congratulations on your nuptials, anija.”
He slides the door closed behind him, half a second before Hashirama can turn it into a tree around him. Hashirama can hear him snicker to himself, and has to close his eyes, taking a deep breath and reminding himself that he is indeed very happy and overjoyed to have a sibling.
“Izuna—” he starts.
“I,” Izuna hisses, and rises from the bed like a half-dead zombie, staggering once before he grabs for the thickest book on the shelf by the door, “am going to murder him. And this time, I won’t miss.”
“Izuna,” Hashirama says placatingly, rising to follow him. “You should be resting, you’ve only just finished healing—”
There’s no use. Izuna shoulders the door open, says, “Not tonight, dear, I have a headache,” and stalks off to commit homicide.
It’s possible Hashirama waits a second or two longer than he absolutely has to in order to go after him and make him stop.