-Note- The phrases in italics are the first stanza of the poem Endymion, which was the inspiration for Somebody to Love. The poem itself was written by John Keats, first published in 1818.
A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
It's loveliness increases; it will never...
I am immortal. I cannot die, not even at my own hands.
I know, because I have tried.
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
It is always small at first, and my subconscious mind shies away from it for a small while, but then memories of the lost begin to stack up, leaking past the gatekeeper. Small snippets of recollection that enter my mind of things I shouldn't have known.
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
And always, because I was a ninja, my suspicion comes into play, my evil, errant suspicion, even on those times where I've made it so that I've received next to no training at all. And my path crosses that of the gatekeeper, and I start demanding to know why I am being deceived, and moments later as the clone pops, I curse myself for learning.
I am accursed.
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of inhuman dearth
Six hundred years. Then I went mad.
Then two thousand. I forced myself to sanity.
I've lost exact count, but I suspect that now it is almost ten thousand. Ten thousand years.
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days
Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkened ways:
One hundred centuries of dreaming, of trying to pick up my life where it left off when everything went wrong.
Konoha has been gone for thousands of years, destroyed by my own hands sometime during my year of delusion as I wrestled for control of my body and soul against the Kyuubii.
I finally won the battle- only to learn I had lost the war, as my rampage during that year had extinguished the lives of every soul in the five elemental nations.
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
Learning that in destroying and consuming the last essences of the Kyuubii I had become immortal. A living Kami on the earth, one that has spent all but countless centuries trying to forget, trying with clones and illusions to live again in the world I lost. Trying desperately to feel the wonder and joy of mortality and limitations.
From our dark spirits. Such the Sun, the Moon,
Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon
I cast my gaze around the barren, desolate wasteland. The earth is cracked and dry. What dead plants managed to remain in their skeletal glory after that year or so of destruction I wrought so many years ago have long and long since weathered away into dust. All that remains is the dead earth; even water itself is long since swept away.
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
I spend six months, roughly, recreating all the shadow clones. Giving them the knowledge they will need, and sweeping clear their memories of all else, the roles they will play in my lost world. Kumo nin, and simple farmers, and merchants, and birds, and trees, and everything.
I swore once, as a child, that I would be Hokage, and there I am. One of me. And another that will be Hokage after me, and a third who will be Hokage after me again.
That for themselves a cooling covert make
'Gainst the hot season; the mid forest brake,
Piece by piece my clones work, like ants once did, rebuilding the Forest, and training ground forty four, and Konoha itself, until shaped from mud and clay, held together by chakra, the bricks of my city did stand. And elsewhere in the lands that were once the Elemental nations, my clones work. I look up at the sky, a moment, and see the sun, where it shines, and marvel in my dreaming that I had thought it so awesome.
It grants incredible light and heat, from so far away, but to an immortal of infinite power? I might well be able to craft another one should I so desire.
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms;
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
And I consider to myself, examining a cluster of roses I have made, what story I should dream of next, whether it be of my long dead history, or perhaps I will craft myself a change. Perhaps the villain of this dream should not be Orochimaru, trifling little nothing that he was, but perhaps in my wanderings I'll make the enemy the very trees of the forest itself.
Perhaps my world, I'll change it completely, and examine my world from the perspective of a high school. Populate it with those lost friends and aqcuaintances, the dreamings of a thousand more lifetimes whose tales some distant writers in other places believe they are creating, when in truth they merely watch from the vistas of their minds and record the tales they witness for others to experience as they themselves have.
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
All is set once again, and I have made up my mind: I rewind my memory to the day all hell broke loose, when Kyuubii surprised me after her long dormancy, in the middle of Sakura-chan's wedding, having gathered her remaining strength to take her last desperate chance at freedom. An event that, as in every scenario I enact, will not happen.
On a spur of the moment, as I did the last time, I rewind it another nine hours further back.
I close my eyes.
I open my eyes from my blink and stare at my ceiling, feeling empty inside.
One less than twenty. Nineteen is a prime number. Nineteen marbles can be arrayed into a clean hexagon.
Nineteen, a year older than eighteen.
Tomorrow, I, Uzumaki Naruto, will be nineteen.
Tomorrow morning is a happy occasion. But not for me. Tomorrow morning marks the end of an era.
As of tomorrow morning, Haruno Sakura is getting married.
As of tomorrow morning, I will once again be alone.
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring into us from the heaven's brink.
The final end.
-AN: The epilogue of Somebody to Love underscored for me how pointless the depressingly poignant "happy ending" for Naruto really was. It is, to me, a portrait of what Naruto fanfiction actually is, the dreamings of an immortal god who spends eternity trying to forget his immortality and what it cost him, by pretending that it never happened. One of those, "God created the universe so that he could have friends" kind of deals.
This is the end of Somebody to Love, and I found it wrenching to write, but very rewarding. I hope that you have enjoyed this story as it has been written and look forward to seeing you all again some time, speaking to you all again from the text of another tale.