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How Not to Adopt a Child

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Tobirama slams out of the Administration Building in the grasp of a fit of pique he has no intentions of hiding. His chakra seethes around him, a furious tide, and the force of it cracks a wooden bench as he passes.

From behind him, through the open window of the Hokage’s office, a door crashes open, and he can distantly hear Izuna snap, “Brother! Go control your damned Senju before I literally set him on fire!”

Perhaps snarling at Izuna to get out of his way when the Clan Head only said good morning was slightly out of line. Tobirama can’t particularly bring himself to care. Being ambushed by three of the four Senju Clan elders and their increasingly frantic demands that he start planning to produce an heir managed to sour his fairly decent mood in an instant.

He had wanted, as a child, to be seen as his brother’s equal. Now that he’s receiving the exact same hounding that Hashirama was given before Tsunade’s birth, Tobirama wishes viciously that he could be rid of it.

“Tobirama!” One of the more persistent elders stalks out of the building after him, her robes flaring with the speed of her steps. Tobirama is snidely satisfied; he hasn’t seen one of the Elders move quickly since his father’s reign, and to be the one to push them out of their stately glide is more enjoyable than he expected. It does not, however, make up for the overall irritation of the situation.

“I’m going to train,” he bites out, and anyone else would take that as the threat he intends it to be, but Enko doesn’t even pause.

“Tobirama,” she says sharply, and Tobirama wonders half-idly how much Hashirama would yell at him for slapping a reverse-summoning seal on her and activating it. “You have a duty to your clan, and to the strength of your blood—”

Tobirama stops, because clearly there’s no escaping this. Even if he does manage it, next time they decide to press the point Madara might be with him, and if Madara thinks he’s holding Tobirama back in any way he’ll brood for days. There’s no way Tobirama has the patience for something like that.

“My brother has a child,” he points out, and it’s just barely civil. It is, he thinks in moments like this, very good that Madara was picked as Nidaime instead of him; Tobirama has no patience for politics, either. “Our bloodline is continuing. If that is not sufficient—”

“You know it’s not,” Enko says reprovingly, pushing her glasses up her nose with a sharp flick. “As brilliant as your brother is, you have your own skillset, and to lose that would be a low to Konoha in general, as well as the Senju in particular.”

It’s the fifth time in as many days that Tobirama has heard some variation of this lecture, and he’s irritated with it—the type of irritated that generally ends with his genin team assigning themselves missions as far from him as possible, and maybe entire graveyards rising from the dead if he’s feeling really testy.

At the same moment, a flash of dark hair and pale robes catches his eye. The son of the decimated Yashagorō Clan, the snake summoners, is just entering the square, apparently headed for the Administration Building. He looks tired and pale, worn in a way Tobirama is all too familiar with after a childhood spent at war. The boy is one of Saru’s students—Orochimaru, Tobirama thinks—but he lost his parents just a handful of days ago, on a mission that ended in disaster.

Skillset, Tobirama thinks, and then, Aha. Two enemy with one kunai.

“I see your point, Elder Enko,” he says.

There’s a suspicious pause. “Do you,” she answers, more statement than question, and her eyes narrow behind her oval glasses.

Tobirama offers her his blandest, most impolite smile. “Of course, and I agree. Such skills cannot be lost, but also may not be trusted to just anyone. However, I’m sure that you are quite aware of my attachment to the Hokage.”

“Believe me, Tobirama,” Enko says dryly, “no one has missed that detail.”

Ignoring that, Tobirama forges on. “Since I refuse to disrupt our relationship solely for the sake of an heir, we have decided to adopt.”

What?!” Madara half-shrieks from behind him.

Tobirama ignores that as well, reaching out to grab the passing Orochimaru by the shoulder and wheel him around to face Enko. “This is the boy. He will be a great asset to Konoha and the Senju Clan.”

Orochimaru blinks.

When wide golden eyes settle on him, Tobirama very pointedly looks back, trying to make the play along as clear as possible.

A beat. A pause. And then Orochimaru turns to Enko and bows politely. “Good morning, Elder,” he says. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Enko stares at him, one brow slowly sliding towards her hairline. She sighs, pinches the bridge of her nose, and then levels Tobirama with a look of deep rebuke. “I will be by in one month to see how your son is settling in,” she says meaningfully, then turns on her heel and inclines her head to Madara. “Hokage-sama. Congratulations on becoming a father.”

Madara gapes, entirely speechless. Lifting her chin, Enko sails past him like a tiny old battleship, towards where the other two Elders who accompanied her to harass Tobirama are still cowering near the main doors. She collects them the way anyone else might gather up unnecessary luggage before turning back towards the Senju’s area.

Orochimaru looks after her for a long moment, then glances at Tobirama again. “I don’t think that went as you were intending it to,” he says, far more aware than any six-year-old has a right to be.

“Enko is a witch,” Tobirama agrees, though he can’t keep all of the reluctant admiration out of his tone. Enko was one of his mother’s friends, and she hasn’t aged so much as sharpened. “I hope you’re prepared to be the Hokage’s son.”

There’s a wheeze from Madara that both Tobirama and Orochimaru ignore. “Does this mean you’re going to teach me your jutsus?” Orochimaru asks solemnly, and it’s only then that Tobirama remembers Saru talking about how his student was a genius.

Maybe this will turn out better than he anticipated.

“I will,” he agrees. “Did you have business to finish here, before we leave?”

Orochimaru shakes his head. “I was coming to apply for lodgings.”

“No longer necessary,” Tobirama assures him, and puts a hand on his shoulder to steer him around Madara’s spluttering figure. “Our home is nearby. I will take you to collect your things first.”

“Now wait just one minute!” Madara explodes.

Tobirama arches one cool brow at him, pausing agreeably. “Yes?”

Orochimaru glances up at him, then turns to look at Madara with wide, sad, solemn eyes in a pale and too-thin face.

Tobirama can actually see the moment Madara’s will crumples.

Perhaps it’s not how he expected the confrontation to go, he thinks, giving his new son an approving smirk, but it’s not nearly as much of a disaster as it could have been.

“Dinner will be at six,” he tells Madara, already steering Orochimaru towards the street. “Don’t be late.”

Madara huffs something that sounds vaguely like I’m the Hokage, you can’t tell me what to do, you bastard, but for the sake of his dignity Tobirama pretends not to hear it.