Tobirama had taken his punishment with more grace than could be expected, silent and agreeable as if he hadn’t been leading a war against all other clans, hadn’t been ripping the kekkei genkei from their bodies and twisting Senju DNA with it. They didn’t trust it. Tobirama was too different from Hashirama, not at all the type to let his enemies have an advantage even if it meant peace and the lives of their people. He’d die first. Wasn’t that what Butsuma had said? But Tobirama didn’t. He let them seal his chakra, accepted the poverty and shoddy weapons and mistreatment with nay a word.
But he kept to himself and stayed his distance from the other Senju except...except for the children.
“We don’t know what he wants with them, Hashirama,” Madara pointed out. “He doesn’t interact with anyone except those guard dogs of his--”
Hashirama bit back the correction on his tongue. Not guard dogs. Touka and Hitomi, his cousin and kin. His family . But he didn’t, couldn’t.
Not when he’d given them up. Not when they hated him more than he resented his clan and the man they had run themselves to the ground following.
“--and the children. You know he can’t be trusted.”
The former Senju could almost hear Izuna’s name, could hear the singing for Tobirama’s blood that thrummed through Madara’s veins. But he couldn’t argue with it either. What Tobirama did-- Hashirama hates that he can’t remember if the younger boy had always been so heartless-- but it’s enough to drive anyone insane. It would have been enough for Hashirama at one point, too. But he’d long lost his faith in Tobirama.
He sighed, already feeling tired. “I’ll check up on him.”
The Senju wouldn’t want to see him but if it were he and not anyone else to trespass, there would be no insult that could be given that would beg the response of genocide as the other clans had wanted. He had tough enough skin. Whatever they said would not matter now.
The sun was well on its way into the sky, the burn of early morning settling on Hashirama’s skin like the prickling of discomfort and impending trouble. He’d had to fight Touka back, flaring his chakra when she refused to step down and let him be on his damn way. He didn’t want this anymore than she did, didn’t want to look into those pyrope eyes and see that godforsaken cruelty that Tobirama soaked up from Butsuma.
His mind whispered about little brothers, ones that Tobirama once held close and played with, ones that made him laugh and smile but not shed a single tear on their graves.
Tobirama’s house was quiet-- unusually so. The younger one had always been early to rise, early to train and obey like a well-bred animal. The hour wasn’t late but for such a man, it was terribly tardy. Hashirama knocked once, twice, thrice even, before the aggravation started building behind his temple. He was in no mood for this casual rebellion, annoyingly passive-aggressive the way the Senju seemed to be born emulating. Tobirama had done nothing to afford his patience, let alone the respect to stand and wait for his permission to enter a home that was, for all means, lent to him.
He let the door seep away before him, using Mokuton to draw the wood back, and ignored the protests arising behind him as the door meshed back together once he passed through. The house was empty, cold. Detached and impersonal. The rational part of him remembered that Tobirama couldn’t afford anything, not with the restrictions placed on him. The other thought that it didn't matter, not really, because Tobirama wouldn’t care for the warmth of a home either way.
He must have been still sleeping, Hashirama thought. If he wasn’t, he would have been at the door already, weapon drawn if he had any.
Hashirama walked further along the tiny hallway, steps purposefully loud, pausing at the single bedroom with its door just barely cracked open. When was the last time he’d woken Tobirama up? The last time he checked up on him when the boy was in bed?
Never, his mind said. Never could Hashirama wake early enough to best Butsuma’s perfect little soldier.
He pushed the door open and he felt his breath catch painfully. The messy white strands hanging messily about Tobirama’s face almost gave him an appearance of innocence, soft and open like those years ago when the boy would lean against him sleepily after a long day of training, days gone that Hashirama had never thought would cease to exist before he even had a chance to ingrain it in his memory. There were futons on the floor, blankets strewn and bunched up the way only children slept, too tiny and too energetic to lay still.
Why would Tobirama share a room with children?
Hashirama swallowed roughly. He’d heard some rumors, that the depravity of the Senju knew no bounds, not after he left. Disgust settled low in his stomach. Had it been true ?
He felt his lip curling, anger making his chakra lash out, heavy and oppressive and even he could feel it suck the air from the room, stifling.
Tobirama stirred then, shooting up in his bed to stare at Hashirama, wide-eyed. He froze, uncomprehending, blank in his drowsily confused state.
“Tobirama--” Hashirama needed the truth. He wouldn’t tolerate Tobirama brushing him off or finding loopholes, not anymore. Not in this. That tremor of rage in his voice seemed to snap Tobirama out of his daze.
It was like the ground fell out from beneath him. Even after all this time, after all the work to make things amendable and more courteous than the Senju deserved, Tobirama still thought of that monster.
“ No-- ”
“I’m sorry,” Tobirama gasped, stumbling up from his sheets. “I had no choice, our people were dying. I had to save them.”
“Save them?” This is what Tobirama called saving? Making them fight until there were no fighters left? That was their saving?
“I know you’re upset--” he stepped closer, reaching for Hashirama, posture changing with a startling swiftness. Abrupt, like falling into a kata outside of training. The sway in his steps almost looked-- no .
Tobirama curled closer, body relaxing into something seductive, and he cupped Hashirama’s face, leaning even closer, eyes fixed on Hashirama’s lips.
Hashirama pushed him away, reeling back in horror. “Don’t touch me, Tobirama!”
It was true, it was true. His brother was, is-- God, Hashirama felt sick. Torn between wanting to tear the depravity from Tobirama’s bones and cleanse that sick perversion and running away, running far from the thing he doesn’t want to accept. He can’t look at his brother’s face, not when Tobirama’s staring at him like that, and he lets his eyes fall. And freezes again.
On Tobirama’s collarbone, three cuts were scarred across. Cuts that were too straight for battle, too well-placed for Tobirama to carve into himself. Something seemed to tug at his senses and Hashirama reached. Seeds? Were there seeds beneath Tobirama’s skin? Hashirama searched, urging the seeds to respond to his Mokuton.
Tobirama gasped, falling to his knees and clutching at his chest desperately, nails digging into his skin. “Father, no! Please, I’m sorry, I--”
The seed had sprouted, long since grown and as much a part of Tobirama as was his veins, weaving through his bloodstream and-- and curling around his heart.
Takeshi was the most loyal to his father, a vile man who relished in death and pain and everything that was “better for the clan”. He walked as if he himself held the power while still kissing the ground Butsuma had walked, a devotion that knew no bounds. While the rest of the clan seemed to have grown to favor Tobirama-- (because he was so much like father or something else?) Takeshi had a perpetual sneer writ across his ugly face, far too disobedient to his new clan leader to hold any loyalty to him.
It’s what made him the one to question.
The man seemed to have expected Hashirama, perhaps because of the storm in his chakra, building and rising and suffocating everyone around him, or because he intended to spill his guts any day now.
“Hashirama- sama .” The address sounded sarcastic, a mock as if Hashirama didn’t deserve his title or position.
Perhaps he didn’t.
Looking at his people, his once clan, and seeing the hate they held for him, the whispers of kinslayer leaving their lips or the children huddling away from him, hiding behind their parents when they once used to flock to him, burned like acid down his throat.
“I have a few...questions, Takeshi-san. If we may take this inside.”
The man snorted and shrugged. Hashirama felt uncertain as the man led him into his home. How was he to phrase this? To ask anything? And why would Takeshi answer honestly regardless?
“I would offer you tea but…” Takeshi gestured to the emptiness of his own home, disgust not even hidden under his snide smile. “It’s a luxury I do not have.”
“That is fine, my purpose here doesn’t require hospitality.”
“Oh? What then, Hashirama-sama? Information?” the man smiled. all teeth and vicious. At Hashirama’s silence, Takeshi’s smile grew wider. “That’s rather audacious of you, is it not, Hashirama-sama? That I would betray my clan--”
“Not your clan,” Hashirama interrupted, and he had to speak fast because his chest was tightening. He couldn’t get the image out of his mind. He needed it gone, needed to know the truth so that the spiralling thoughts couldn’t keep dragging him deeper into what had to be an abyss of lies. It had to be. All he could think about was Tobirama’s face and actions and the beds on his bedroom floor and--and-- He couldn’t believe his mind, not now, not when each thought worsened from the one before it. “Tobirama. I wish for information on him.”
But isn't that a betrayal to the clan? Anything against the clan head, any delineation from their wishes or disobedience, was a betrayal to the clan. Any associating with Hashirama-- traitor even in their newfound peace-- outside of what was necessary was a betrayal to the clan. And yet Takeshi humored him.
Takeshi’s expression darkened, the jeer in his voice crawling along Hashirama’s skin like many-legged bugs. “You want for me to go against my clan head, despite my own precarious position in your village?”
A question rests in the air. Incentive. If it wasn’t for Butsuma, Takeshi wouldn't do anything for anyone without some self gain. The man wasn’t a fool-- cruel-hearted and half-crazed in his foaming loyalty and--
Hashirama steepled his fingers, leaning forward conspiratorially, as if sharing a secret. He lowered his voice to barely above a whisper, forcing Takeshi to move closer. “My allies want your clan erased. We feel Tobirama hasn’t been honest-- I’m trying to convince them but…”
Takeshi snarled. “Then question him! Surely your allies have some interrogation techniques!”
“Even if I told you anything, you cannot be certain of my honesty, Hashirama-sama, so search for them yourself,” he hissed. “You will see yourself out, yes?”
Without another word, the man stood gracefully, turning on his heel and storming down the hallway. Hook, line, sinker. Word would travel to the elders, to the small faction of dissenters that remained in the clan, Hashirama was sure of it, and when it did, Tobirama would seek him with the answers.
Madara was silent, staring at Hashirama contemplatively. “Is this really what you want?”
“What do you mean?” the former Senju had spent the morning pacing. Tobirama had agreed to a meeting with the other clan heads without much discussion or hesitance but Hashirama caught the glance his younger brother sent him. He had to find the timing peculiar and yet he still agreed.
But he also didn’t know what they had in mind this time. He probably thought he’d be able to talk out of it again-- find another solution or bribe or...Hashirama swallowed harshly. Bargain.
Would Tobirama do that? Would he do what he did to Hashirama and offer himself to the clan heads? No, no he wouldn’t. He couldn’t. It just-- it was a misunderstanding, surely. Tobirama was too clever to resort to-- he had jutsu and weapons and skills to offer. And the clan heads wouldn’t ask for anything else.
(Hashirama wouldn’t let them. He couldn’t. Could he? He doesn’t know anymore.)
“--ama. Hashirama!” Madara snapped his fingers in front of his face, startling the brunette.
“Huh? What?” Hashirama floundered, stumbling back a bit. God, he was losing his mind. He hadn’t slept, not really, since that day. And now, now it was all coming to a head and he just--
“Would you stop getting distracted?” Madara snapped. He rubbed a tired hand over his face. “Listen, I don’t give a damn for your brother. None of the clan heads do, so what are you playing at? What do you think will come from this other than a louder cry for his head?”
Madara paused, something odd crossing his face. “Unless..unless that’s what you want?”
The Uchiha looked almost disgusted and Hashirama was suddenly reminded of the man’s own staunch loyalty to his family, that fierce determination that awoke his sharingan when Hashirama was too busy trying to find ways to escape, too busy to keep his Mokuton in control when all it wanted was to wrangle some sense into the monster that stood where his father was. When Hashirama’s own hands are covered with his father’s blood.
Madara had no place to judge, though. His family wasn’t-- isn’t anything like Hashirama’s.
“I just want answers! You heard the rumors.” Hashirama cried, wrenching his hands through his hair. His voice fell. “The children sleep in his room, Madara. What if he--?”
He couldn’t say it. Bile was rising in his throat and he just--
Madara scowled, nodding, hands clenching on the hilt of his gunbai. Hashirama knew how the man felt, knew he was trying hard to maintain his calm as a leader for all that he wanted to kill Tobirama the moment his eyes fell on him. After all, he was the one to find them in the compound before the move to the village-- he knew it wasn’t just a newfound habit of poverty. But those children loved Tobirama, defended him. They couldn’t make sense of it.
“And if it’s true? What then, Hashirama? Will you let your brother be slain? They will not settle for less.”
Madara meant that he wouldn’t. It didn’t need to be said though, wasn’t said only to save Hashirama’s feelings, really.
“I don’t know.” He felt helpless, broken. Nothing had ever, he had never thought that his defecting would lead him here and now that it has, he had no plan. He just wanted it all to stop . Stop the horrible infestation that rotted the core of the Senju and made him run when he should have wanted to stay.
A knock rang out and Hikaku peeked in. “The clan heads are here.”
Madara nodded, gesturing for Hashirama to settle with him at the council table. From there, everything was a blur-- the discussion, the arguments-- he was silent through them all, his mind still reeling, still pondering. What was he going to do? He killed Butsuma, would he be able to-- if Tobirama really was as bad as the rumors said, could he…?
Tobirama stepped through the door, bowing just slightly, the barest hint of respect and Hashiram could feel the other clan heads bristling in indignation.
“You have further questions,” the younger man said. Not asked, because Tobirama didn’t question, he knew . Something like annoyance shot through Hashirama but he forced it down. He had to stay calm. This was going to get messy quickly and he needed to stay in control.
Someone, an advisor or second to a clan head, Hashirama couldn't remember, dragged a chair beside Tobirama, making as if to push him into the seat.
“What is the meaning of this?” Tobirama asked, side-stepping, no shying , away from their touch and lowering himself into the seat. He stayed near the edge, barely sitting in it, ready to run. Hashirama could see the tension stiffening his brother’s body, almost openly nervous in a way his closed off emotions never allowed. Something shot through Hashirama, a heady mixed weight of anger and pain and... protectiveness . “We’ve been cooperative.”
Was the younger man nervous? Scared that he’d been found out or that he would be? Hashirama wasn’t sure it mattered, all he knew was that this overly cautious man sitting in front wasn’t his brother. Tobirama wasn’t like this. Tobirama didn’t need him. Hashirama gripped the arms of his seat tighter. Tobirama wasn’t Itama or Kawarama. He didn’t need him.
That didn’t stop Hashirama from wanting to stop this meeting, to just let Tobirama go home and keep his eyes closed.
“I could read his mind,” Yamanaka Inejiro said casually, the falseness of the forcibly calm expression slipping through the cracks of his mask. “I could show Uchiha Kaoru-san what I see and they could cast a genjutsu so that we can all see what goes on in a Demon’s mind.”
Tobirama froze. “My chakra has already been sealed. You confiscated all of my research and notes. There is nothing more for you to know.”
But the clan heads weren’t listening, murmurs of their agreement muffling Tobirama’s argument.
“Hashirama-sama, if you could?” Nara Shikomi drawled.
Madara nodded his assent and Hashirama ignored the sick feeling roiling in his gut, twitching but a finger and letting the Mokuton shoot up to tie Tobirama in place. The vines wrapped around his forearms, sprung up around his feet and kept him rooted to the ground.
Tobirama thrashed and Hashirama could feel the muted sense of Tobirama’s chakra pushing at his seals, fighting them. He needed to stop. He was going to hurt himself. But Tobirama just forced more and more of his chakra against the seals, writhing and tugging his limbs fiercely. The Mokuton held tight, the rough bark scraping skin and raising blood to slick the surface.
“You can’t do this!” Tobirama gasped, and his mask broke. The impudent calm he was known for was gone, replaced by...by fear and Hashirama wanted to scream. Why couldn’t they see this earlier? Why couldn’t Tobirama have acted more human earlier? Now it was too late, the others were cruelly amused and they weren’t going to stop. “Let go of me!”
The clan heads were sneering at him, moving closer despite Tobirama’s struggles and protests. Hashirama had brought them here. He was putting Tobirama through this.
“Stop this!” As if unable to help himself, Tobirama looked over at Hashirama desperately. It was for but a second, not long enough for anyone else to notice but Hashirama and just long enough for Hashirama to remember a soft voice, quiet and childlike, calling “ Anija ”.
Tobirama, whenever he let himself be human, used to come to Hashirama, whenever he was scared or hurt or---
How could he try to come to Hashirama now? It was too late, their distance too far now.
Tobirama’s chest was heaving with rapid, shallow breaths and he tore at his bindings. “Let go, let go, let go--”
He wouldn’t stop struggling. Hashirama had to turn away.
His eyes fell onto Izuna. The younger boy had healed well since the incident, growing stronger daily, but today he looked ill and weak, like he might vomit. His hands trembled on his lap and he too would not look at Tobirama. But that didn’t make sense. Why would he feel anything other than hate for Hashirama’s brother?
“I--” Izuna paused, eyes avoiding everyone else’s. His hands were trembling and now Tobirama seemed to be trying to catch the Uchiha’s eye, something like a plea glistening in the red of his own.
“Izuna?” Madara asked, touching his brother’s shoulder and pulling him closer. “Is everything alright?”
Tobirama and he used to be like that. That monster trying to weasel out of retribution and consequences used to lean on Hashirama like nothing else would keep him standing. Hashirama wanted to look away, ignoring the burn of jealousy that always accompanied the thought or sight of Madara and Izuna’s relationship.
Izuna shook his head, muttering, “Never mind.”
With a nod, the Yamanaka took his stance, positioned before Tobirama and focusing.
Suddenly the room changed, the council room disappearing. Instead, the scent of Tsubaki filled the room, mixing with dust and alcohol. Tobirama, young as the year that Hashirama left was sitting beside Butsuma, head bowed.
“But tell me Tobirama: Were you trying to persuade that traitor to return?”
This was after his return to the battlefield, the first time he’d gotten out of that cell and seen his family-- And Hashirama knew that tone, the one that always made him flare with rage and argue-- Tobirama flinched. Flinched , like he was scared or hurt.
How had Hashirama not noticed that before? But it didn’t matter now. All he could hear was Tobirama, could see him standing with his sword lowered and begging--
“Anija, come back home.” And he’d stood there even though it was dangerous, even though everyone was still fighting, still aiming to hurt him and pleaded with Hashirama to listen, to look at him and return…..Hashirama had said no.
And now, in the genjutsu, Butsuma was reaching for Tobirama and that look-- Hashirama froze. That look in his eyes, he shouldn’t be looking at Tobirama that way. He shouldn’t be but then Butsuma yanked and Tobirama had fallen into Butsuma’s lap, body stiff in discomfort, fear.
Hashirama couldn’t breathe. No, no Butsuma shouldn’t be looking at Tobirama like that! He shouldn’t be so close to him, not like that. That’s his son! Hashirama’s little brother--
“Let’s not pretend that Hashirama cares. Nonsense…..he didn’t see--”
And now the man was touching Tobirama’s thigh. Hashirama wracked his brain. Did Tobirama get hurt during that battle? He hadn’t even noticed-- and, and Butsuma was right . He didn’t see--
“I will teach you so you don’t make any more blunders.”
No, no wait. He had to let go. Butsuma needed to let go. Hashirama reached out, reached to grab Butsuma and throw him away from Tobirama but his hand passed through air. No .
They were in a room, Hashirama’s old room, and Tobirama was sobbing, clawing at his skin. Messy and bruised and Hashirama couldn’t breathe. He grabbed at his own chest. No, no, Butsuma couldn’t have. He wouldn’t have. Not to Tobirama. Not his favorite, his son. His youngest, living child. There had to have been a mistake.
They’re missing parts of the memory, Hashirama thought wildly. That’s it. Maybe a beating? Butsuma could be cruel, maybe he had finally lost his patience. Without Hashirama there, Tobirama would have to meet the expectations and deal with the anger. He’d be on the receiving end. That’s all. He just wasn’t used to Father not giving in to all his whims and spoiling him. That’s all.
“A-Anija. Please. I just want Anija. I... please can’t you get him?”
His voice sounded rough. Hoarse. Like he’d been crying for too long.
Stop. No, please. Hashirama gasped.
Anija. Anija. Anija. Hashirama could hear the whimper of it through the genjutsu and had to fight himself from dispelling the damn thing. He couldn’t look away. He had to find out more.
Touka screaming that Hashirama didn’t want Tobirama rang through their ears just as the scene changed again.
“You never really grew out of running to your brother when pressed too hard.” Elder Himiko was looking at Tobirama unkindly, almost mocking, as if he hadn’t been hurt. He wasn’t used to it, Hashirama wanted to snap at her. He’s never faced Father’s disapproval. And Hashirama always protected him. It's what older brothers did! It was... something he had to give up when Hashirama left. “...what will you tell Hashirama that will not shame you?”
Shame? The word settled in Hashirama’s gut like a weight. But, but he supposed that that would be shameful for Tobirama, not adhering to filial piety as he was wont. It would be embarrassing for Butsuma’s perfect soldier. That’s all. There was no other reason.
Something didn’t sit right with that.
And now they were back in the clan compound, surrounded by a gathering trifled with unrest. Hisashi-- and they saw him for a moment, lain on the cell floor and distorted with poison and Mokuton, saw Tobirama slid his blade into flesh with hands that shook with grief and regret and pain-- back to the gathering and whispers of betrayal and clan heads and then--
“You’re in dire need for a lesson.” Butsuma sounded regretful. And then Tobirama was on the ground, clutching his face and head and screaming as he writhed in pain. Blood began to trickle from his ears and he gasped through his screams, dragged into a hazy unconsciousness as the pain did not stop . The genjutsu’d clan watched with a horror, sickened by what Tobirama’s protests had wrought, what Butsuma’s madness had wrought. It was too much. Too cruel. Tobirama hadn’t said anything wrong! He hadn’t even-- Hashirama would’ve yelled. Would have snapped back rudely and fought.
Tobirama had been polite.
Tobirama had been polite and Butsuma still punished him. But that wasn’t why. It wasn’t Tobirama’s disobedience. Tobirama had been kind, had given mercy to someone Butsuma felt didn’t deserve it and that was his crime. Too weak, too quick to end Butsuma’s sadistic fun, taking from him the chance to keep gloating, keep taunting, to make sure no one could forget his power and what happened when you wronged him.
Hashirama felt something rise in the back of his throat, stomach so tight and head spinning like someone had swept the ground out from under his feet.
The scene changed again.
They were in another room now. Tobirama’s? It looked different, but Hashirama couldn’t focus on the details. Instead, his eyes turned unerringly to Tobirama--
The boy was pressed against the wall, as far from Butsuma as he could be. The man talked of mistreatment, of Hisashi’s ploy to save Tobirama-- and god, how many times, how many people knew what was happening and doing nothing before Hisashi chose treason-- and the Hatake’s death at Butsuma’s hands. Butsuma snatched Tobirama's wrist. Fear, fear, fear. Hashirama could feel it. Tobirama was shaking his head, disagreeing that no, Butsuma was not treating him badly. Fear, fear, fear--
“I won’t disappoint you again.”
The walls seeped away, Tobirama’s lab constructing around them.
“Father, please, I don’t need the sharingan, I--”
Something shifted, they moved to another time and…
Tobirama was being held down onto a bed, face bloody while a sharingan spun frantically where his own red eye used to be, shrieking in pain for them to take the eye out, please . Butsuma stood watching in disappointment.
“Stop being so pathetically weak!”
They left Tobirama to lay in his blood and sweat and tears, curled up as if to protect himself in a palce where he should’ve been safe. This was their home. Tobirama’s refuge. Hashirama had built that lab for him, put up those walls so Tobirama could explore and experiment and follow his mind as he loved to, where he could be safe. And instead it had become a hell.
They left him to Butsuma’s wretched mercy. Left him to hurt more as if he wasn’t hurt enough. And Butsuma gave him no reprieve.
It shifted again and now Izuna was laying in the bed and Butsuma was leaning over to kill him--
“He still has another eye, father, but I want both. I can take both. Please, Father--”
That’s what Izuna said, Hashirama realized, startling. That meeting that made Tobirama look at him in accusation and fear, pulling away from as if they hadn’t already been as divided as could be. He didn’t want Izuna’s eyes. They were wrong. He didn’t want Izuna’s eyes and, and--
Butsuma slowly pulled away from Izuna’s body, blade falling forgotten in favor of losing himself in the...the distraction (God, Hashirama was going to be sick) that Tobirama provided and later-- it had to be, the sun was in a different position-- they watched as Tobirama had Izuna snuck out of the compound with orders that the Uchiha was to be returned safely.
But Izuna wasn’t. Something had gone wrong.
And Tobirama didn’t know.
That’s why he asked at the meeting. He thought Izuna had been fine. He’d, he’d given himself for Izuna to be fine and it didn’t work!
Hashirama wanted to scream. His brother, his baby brother and-- and the memories were still coming. Why were they still coming?
Butsuma was leaning over Tobirama, carving into him and shoving the seeds beneath his skin and Tobirama was limp in pain, barely breathing. Hashirama could almost feel the Mokuton digging through his brother’s veins and--
And the one by his heart. Hashirama fell to his knees, a ragged sob leaving his throat. His heart, his heart . Butsuma took everything from Tobirama and Hashirama had let him . He was supposed to be there--
The genjutsu broke.
Inejiro and Kaoru crumpled to the ground, pale and shaking, their chakra dancing wildly. The Yamanaka leaned over and retched, looking up with indirect hate.
“No more,” he whispered. “I don’t..I can’t .”
Around them, everyone looked on in horror, disgust. Grief.
“That’s what-- oh no,” Kana fell into a chair, heaving. “That’s why-- we didn’t even. Our kin.” She stared at Tobirama in a frantic guilt, eyes gleaming with something wild. “Our kin .”
Her kin? Hashirama laughed, a touch hysterically. Her kin? That was his brother! His baby brother, his--
“He’s sixteen,” Hashirama croaked, deliriously. He pulled himself closer to Tobirama. His brother was staring blankly at them-- not that mask, not that goddamned mask that even Hashirama couldn’t see through. Just blank. Like he’d finally broken. His wrists were bloody, torn from his attempts to free himself. Hashirama laughed louder as he undid the Mokuton vines. “He’s sixteen .”
Madara stepped closer, almost uncertainly. “Hashirama…”
Tobirama didn’t move.
Hashirama slumped forward, collapsed at Tobirama’s feet, and screamed.
His tears were choking him but he couldn’t stop.
“Anija. I just want Anija.”
“I’m here!” he screamed. “I’m here, I’m here, I’m here!”
But Tobirama was bleeding, bleeding from scars that had never healed, torn open again and again and again and it was all Hashirama’s fault.
“Hashirama! Hashirama, calm down!” Madara reached for him and wood erupted from the ground, coiled to strike and Madara froze.
“Tobi, I’m here! I’m here! I’m sorry! Please, Tobi, please!”
The younger man still didn’t move.