Madara had made friends with a Senju of all people. Not just any Senju, but his mortal enemy's son. Tajima would have to talk to him about it later. He knew that the boy and Madara were rather close... but it was for the best that they separated here and now, rather than his eldest getting betrayed on the battlefield.
Still, it was upsetting to have to see his son's eyes swirl red for the first time.
As he faced off against Butsuma on the riverbank, he heard the gasp of his second eldest son.
Tajima let his eyes wander to Izuna's opponent. Glancing over to get a good look at the young Senju, he made eye contact with fierce red.
"Shit," Butsuma cursed under his breath, "Tajima, I'm warning you...!"
That poor Uchiha boy must be so lost and confused. Those red eyes were so steeled and hard.
He quickly threw out a flash bomb and scooped up the boy in the confusion.
"Let go!" the albino growled and tried to stab him with a kunai, but Tajima easily disarmed him and went on their way.
"Tobirama!" the boy with a bowl cut called out.
Maybe once they were home, his new son would feel better.
"Why couldn't we chase after him?" Hashirama sobbed, "that's three brothers I've lost now!"
"He isn't gone," Butsuma said stiffly, "I thought it was some kind of joke..." he quietly said to himself.
"What joke?" Hashirama growled, "Tobirama is gone," his voice cracked on the last word.
Tobirama had been so precious. He couldn't believe Madara would so easily hurt him... when he knew that Hashirama only had one last brother. And now, Hashirama was left with nothing.
Their bedroom, which housed four, now only housed one.
"A few years ago there was a Nara named Shikawa, he was the clan head," Butsuma started.
"What does that have to do with-"
"He was an albino," the clan head continued, "and for the first time in a decades, the Nara and Uchiha clashed. Do you know what happened?"
Hashirama shook his head.
"The Uchiha took him. Called him their missing brother, housed him and loved him like any other," Butsuma finished, "Shikawa told me it was 'just a drag' at our last meeting."
Things began to link together.
Uchihas were notorious for their sharingan, with crimson eyes swirling with tomoe. Tobirama, with his own bright red eyes would be...
Did Madara really think...?
Hashirama went out to find a brush, ink, and a messenger hawk. He needed to test something.
Please return Tobirama. He is not your brother.
No. Stay away from my brother.
(Somewhere in the Senju compound, Hashirama wept in relief. Tobi, his last little brother, was alive and well and being taken care of by Madara. He was safe. Everything else could come after.)
Tobirama was confused when the Uchiha didn't immediately tie him up and question him. Instead, Tajima Uchiha, feared Uchiha clan head, left him alone in a room with Madara, the boy from the riverbank and another boy that was roughly his age. None of his weapons were taken away, which was foolish. And not only that, but Madara and what looked to be his kid brother were watching him with an odd grin on their faces.
They waited in silence as Madara and the other (Izuna, if he'd heard correctly earlier) kept looking at him and exchanging glances.
"So, Otouto," Madara said something else, but Tobirama was drawn into the first part.
Otouto. Little brother.
"I'm not your brother."
"Yes you are."
"No, I'm not."
"Dad said you might be confused. Don't worry, Tobirama-nii, it'll be okay," Izuna set a hand on his arm in what was supposed to be comfort.
Suddenly, he recalled that time when Shikawa, the Nara clan head with similar white hair and red eyes, came to visit his father and spoke about the Uchiha and their fixation on red eyes.
This was, as he'd called it, 'troublesome.' (He hoped Hashirama would be fine for a while. He couldn't run away, not when he was surrounded by Uchiha.)
"Happy birthday, Otouto," Madara beamed.
"It's not my birthday," Tobirama deadpanned. He didn't even bother on the whole 'otouto' part. He'd tried earlier and was refuted at every corner.
"It's the day you've come back to the family, son," Tajima ruffled his hair until it messily stuck up everywhere.
They were all hopeless.
"Now, dig in!" Izuna said, shoving a bowl of noodles into his hands.
Tobirama looked down at his bowl, felt expectant dark eyes on him, and his stomach twisted in apprehension.
They only eat spicy food. I don't like spicy food.
I've enclosed a slice of chocolate cake to help. Unseal it with some chakra. Please come home soon.
"Where did you even get that?" Madara asked him.
From his time he'd spent together with the Uchiha heir, Tobirama could easily see how his brother had befriended him. He was hotheaded, wore his emotions on his sleeve almost as badly as the Senju did, and he had that same spark in his eye.
They were also both idiots. Seriously, having red eyes meant nothing. How did the Uchiha ever come to this conclusion that he was their... family?
"Nowhere, Madara," Tobirama finished the last of the cake. He couldn't see as much as feel the sticky chocolate all over his face, but it couldn't be helped.
"If you call me nii-san or Madara-nii," Madara started looking off into nowhere, "I might just happen to know where a local bakery is," he finished innocently.
"Are you bribing me?" the albino asked.
"Is it working?" Madara asked right back.
He knew they weren't even remotely brothers, but...
"...Do they have chocolate?"
...Tobirama really didn't like spicy food.
"Good morning," Madara groggily got up.
"Morning," Tajima said as he came down the stairs, looking worn out.
"Tobirama-nii," Izuna started, "how are you already up?"
Tobirama stared at the three Uchiha.
They stared back.
The boy looked out the window and felt his brow twitch at the sight of the conpound only now being filled with ravens.
It was literally afternoon. The sun was already high in the sky. By now, the Senju would've accomplished so much and meanwhile this whole clan had just woken up?!
The Uchiha are crazy.
I know. We're working in it, stay strong.
A bush rustled next to Tobirama and he jumped.
"Calm down!" a familiar voice hissed, the bush rustling as the man made to reveal himself, "Remember me?"
Stark white hair and crimson eyes.
"Nara-san?" Tobirama asked.
The Nara clan head nodded curtly.
"Your dad pulled back a favor I owed him," the elder albino scratched the back of his head, "I'm here to get you home."
Home. The Senju compound, with Hashirama and his cousins and his father. They were probably worried sick.
"That's great-" the Senju was cut off.
"Could it be?" someone gasped.
"Welcome home, Shikawa!" Tajima came out of nowhere and hugged the Nara clan head.
"Brother!" another voice rung out, belonging to a lovely Uchiha kunoichi, "I promise to never lose you again!" she cried into the elder albino's chest.
Ah... It seemed the Uchiha still remembered him, and now both of them were stuck with their 'family.'
"Not again... What a drag," Shikawa muttered as he was pulled into one of the houses at the end of the compound.
Well, there went Tobirama's chance at escape.
The high collar would take some getting used to. It blocked him from seeing his feet, when Tobirama was used to using all of his vision at all times.
The Uchiha fan on his back felt uncomfortable, too. But all their clothing had some mark on it so there was nothing to be done about it.
Tobirama looked nothing like an Uchiha, yet he was greeted with smiles and 'hey, cousin's and hugs from others in matching clothes. Tobirama hadn't even realized the Uchiha ever smiled this
much. On the battlefield, they were much colder. They laughed almost as often as Hashirama, encouraged him, made sure he ate three square meals a day (which were thankfully less spicy, once they'd learned of his preferences).
"I brought you some cake, Tobi-nii," Izuna said, with an armful of little treats.
"Just set them over there," Tobirama pointed, "Thanks."
It was kind of nice.
When are you coming home? I've enclosed ninja wire, kunai, and chakra pills for your escape.
Please cease and desist from messaging us.
"Um, Tajima?" Tobirama asked.
"Tobirama, I'm your father," Tajima patted him on the head, "Just call me Dad. Or Father, if you really must."
That was the problem. Tobirama wasn't an Uchiha. Shikawa-san wasn't an Uchiha. Neither of them were, and yet the Uchiha were so insistent that they were family. It was nice and all, but it still wasn't home. (Madara was different. That was for cake.)
"You do know that I'm not your son, right?" Tobirama pointed out.
The Uchiha sighed and sat down beside Tobirama.
"I understand you were raised by the Senju. We all do."
"But, you are quite obviously an Uchiha, Tobirama. I see now that I have failed to make you feel at home, and I will correct this at once," he squeezed him on the shoulder and when Tajima's dark eyes met Tobirama's red, they were serious.
"I hope cousin Shikawa isn't feeling this way too..." the raven continued with a thoughtful expression on his face.
Why was he so close and so far from the mark?!
Izuna pouted from his place on the floor.
"That's no fair, Tobirama-nii," he groaned.
Tobirama bit back the 'I'm not your brother' that wanted to spill from his lips.
"You're impatient," he said instead, and offered a hand to the fallen Uchiha to help him back up.
They had been training because Izuna begged and insisted until Tobirama had no choice but to give in and spar with the Uchiha.
Izuna gratefully took the hand, getting back onto his feet.
"Let's go again!" he chirped, getting back into a sloppy fighting stance
(For just a moment, Tobirama was faintly reminded of how Kawarama would do the same.)
Give me back my son.
(P.S. He's not your son.)
A pale hand ruffled his hair.
"I'm proud of you, son," Tajima smiled down at him softly.
Tobirama felt his cheeks heat up. It was rare for anybody to tell him that, much less behave so casually with him besides his Anija. Tobirama hadn't even done much. He'd simply helped heal up one of the injured Uchiha boys (Hikaku, his 'cousin', the raven had introduced himself) from a mission gone wrong.
A part of him wondered if he should be helping out in enemy territory, but then again, Tobirama hadn't done anything too serious, and besides that, Hashirama hated fighting other kids. Tobirama felt the same, and when he was healing the raven, he felt kind of warm.
Tobirama liked that warmth.
"Water Style: Water Dragon Jutsu!" Tajima brought his hands together with the right hand signs.
A dragon emerged from the lake they were sitting by, made of rushing water and releasing waves of chakra.
The impressive dragon was there for about two seconds before it collapsed.
...Tajima was soaked.
"Not a word, Tobirama."
Tobirama couldn't help the small snort that escaped his lips as he saw the Uchiha clan head dripping with water from a failed suiton.
"Come here!" Tajima roared, "I'll get you!"
Tobirama ran away, a few more snorts escaping at the sound of wet footsteps chasing closely behind him.
(It was the Uchiha head's idea to practice jutsu Tobirama was good at, to support him. It didn't work out, with Tajima's very fiery chakra and not a trace of suiton practice in him.
Tobirama appreciated the effort, even if the albino wasn't really his son.)
Perhaps we could organize a play date between my son and yours? Tobirama specifically.
Tobirama was tucked in between Madara and Izuna, who just happened to cuddle in their sleep. It was warm, and kind of reminded him of how he and Hashirama would seek each other out in their sleep, too.
"To...rama!" a voice called out.
Tobirama sluggishly opened his eyes and turned towards the source of the noise.
"Tobirama Senju, you come here right now!" his father (the real one) hissed from his windowsill.
"Hi Tobi!" Hashirama beamed from beside the Senju clan head. The boy ran over to the albino and embraced him in a hug, careful to avoid the sleeping Izuna.
Oh. Something warm settled in his chest.
"Father, Anija," Tobirama said, "you came-"
His bedroom door opened.
"Son?" Tajima called. Then he noticed the Senju on the windowsill, "Butsuma?!"
"Your son? He's my son!" his father retorted, "I'm taking him home!"
"You're mistaken. Can't you tell an Uchiha from a Senju?" Tajima asked, pointing a finger at Tobirama, "my son is quite obviously my son!"
"Only Uchiha have red eyes, idiot!"
"I missed you, Tobi," Hashirama whispered.
"I missed you, too," Tobirama paused, "The Uchiha are actually pretty nice."
The Uchiha head and Senju head were still yelling at each other, pointing at Tobirama every now and then. It was a wonder that Madara and Izuna hadn't woken up.
"Of course! Madara is super nice," Hashirama looked over at said sleeping raven.
"What part of genetics do you not understand?!" their father pulled at his hair.
"They're gonna be like this for a while, aren't they?" Tobirama asked, looking back at his brother.
"Looks like it," Hashirama agreed.
The brunette wormed his way in between himself and Madara.
"Mm?" Madara stretched awake at the motion, "Hashirama? What...?"
"Hey, Madara," Hashirama grinned, "Thanks for taking care of Tobirama, even though he isn't your brother."
"What do you mean?" Madara's brow furrowed, "Of course he is."
There they went again, like the encounter at the river never happened.
"Have you ever heard of albinism?"
"Albino is just another word for Uchiha."
Tobirama went back to sleep.