I had a thought that maybe the series would suddenly switch to end in a perfectly happy note, with Team Seven reunited and everyone saved. And then we'd wonder how the battle was won, and it would be revealed in the very last scene that it… wasn't. But I know that won't happen. (At least, I hope not.)
Writing music: Piano version of Bokurano's 'Uninstall'. It's so beautiful and elegiac I can't even.
"This is all I ever wanted," Madara gestured freely with one arm, sweeping the landscape with his elevated touch. He stood balanced on top his own head carved into the Hokage's mountain.
Izuna stood next to him. His face shone with a strange kind of youth, unlike his older brother's, and it was completely refuted by the knowledge in his eyes. He stayed stock-still beside his creator, fingers curled into the fabric of his fake clothes. "Nii-san, please."
His brother's questioning gaze turned to him, almost unrecognizable beneath his storm of white hair and the sprawling markings of the Sage along his skin. The five bells on his staff clinked in the wind and he'd long lost the ambivalence of his Uchiha features. Izuna disliked it, and he disliked more that he could never be sure if he were real.
"Foolish otouto, there's still much for you to learn. You cling to romanticized ideas."
It was false, his brother's words were false. Izuna couldn't help but love him anymore, now. It was no longer his choice to love Madara. Nii-san had made it something inevitable, a mere consequence of his existence. It felt unreal.
He looked up into Madara's violet glare. "This is different, nii-san. You don't know what it feels like to not be sure of one's life. I feel… one-dimensional. Like there isn't anything of me that someone somewhere hadn't already known."
"Of course." His brother's voice dropped and the sudden difference scraped across his nerves. "You weren't a very sociable person, Izuna. There was not much to draw from while re-creating you, since we could only rely on the memories of the living." He turned his eyes back to the village where no one died. "Others were easier. Obito's lover was formed perfectly." A slight frown pulled at his lips, and Izuna knew he was thinking of how unfair it was that the creator of the new world would receive an imperfect prize for his efforts.
"I'm… sorry, nii-san," he said softly. "But I don't think I can ever feel real."
"Hn. If you truly aren't real, I can remake you. I… I have the Shinju's power in my hands," he looked down, examining the small crevices of his fingers.
Fear rose quickly in Izuna's mind and he rushed to clasp his brother's hand in his own. No matter how unreal it felt, no matter how strange it was to see again, nothing could stop the fear of death that caught up to him within seconds. "It's fine, nii-san. I will learn."
The 'for you' went unsaid, and Izuna wondered how true it was when Madara's eyes suddenly shone with a contentment he hadn't felt in over a century. Sometimes he even wondered why his brother told him the truth, why the two of them were the only ones who knew.
"You're acting strange. Do I look that different? I can change that, too."
Before he could speak a word of protest, nii-san was standing before him, and the rock head below them shifted imperceptibly. Izuna had always thought his brother's looks unique, because even among the uniform black of the Uchiha there was a wildness to him that no one else ever had. Now they were back, and Madara's lips were quirked into the bare bones of a smile.
"See? You recognize me now. I was glad to be rid of those eyes before, as the Rinnegan was much more useful. But now the entirety of the Uchiha consists of the two of us and it's fine to prefer your last gift to that of the Sage." His eyes spun red as the Mangekyou sighed once again and Izuna saw his own pupils staring back at him.
He nodded methodically. The curve of Madara's hand around his arm was sudden, and he felt himself walking, one foot before the other, as Madara pulled him away from the village's sight. Where were they going? The air shimmered around them, rife with the discrepancies of the illusion that only the two of them would ever see, and Izuna could feel none of it. His brother's hand was tight, curling around his wrist with a viper's grip, and they moved quickly. They were at the Nakano, which had once flown red and was now so startlingly clear that he could see the bottom from where they stood. Day turned to night before their eyes.
"Nii-san, what are we doing?" It took minutes to scrape together the courage to ask, because maybe if he pushed too far, Madara would create another sibling and it would be over for him.
"Anything," he said. "Don't you remember what I said? This is a perfect world, no one ever needs to do anything. You were more clever than this."
Izuna resisted stepping back at the curiosity in his brother's look. "Of course, nii-san," he said quickly. "I'm just… not used to not having clan duties."
Somehow that seemed to be perfect. The contentment returned in one surge and Madara's hand was tightening further, causing his hand to fade white. So he didn't flinch at what came next, because the fact of Madara's lips against his was a known constant, as were the shaking fingers around his wrist. He stayed still and let his eyes fall shut in acceptance.
His love for his brother had been a love for duty and for the clan, and now Madara had taken it and evolved it until it no longer protested, relented to the powerful warmth of his brother's mouth pressed to his.
When Madara drew back, the seriousness Izuna knew so well had already returned.
"This world is filled with wants, otouto. Nothing but wants. Perfect, isn't it?" he leaned in to kiss his brother again, pressing forward in a purely liquid desperation, opening his eyes to observe every lint-like fleck of Izuna's red irises.
They were chaste, still. Nii-san was holding back, testing the waters he'd created. Izuna could feel it along with the forlorn thump of his heart, buried behind layers of first-war style clothing under red armor under Shodai Hokage robes. It was strange of him not to take everything he wanted like he usually did, but in some twisted way this was how he tried to express that one emotion that had escaped him.
"Do you like all of this?" Madara's breath was hot, almost delirious against the shell of Izuna's ear as he whispered. "Do you like what I've created for you? Is this enough, Otouto? Was I able to protect you after all?"
There was nothing else to say but "yes".