Disclaimer: Naruto, his friends and the world he lives in don't belong to me but to Masashi Kishimoto. I write this story only for my pleasure and I don't make any money with it.
Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Seven: See you in Konoha!
They embraced the Ph.D. student because they saw that he was too shy to do this from his own accord.
"Come back and tell me about the insurgency when it's over!" he said. "And remember: for this you need to stay alive."
They thanked him and left in order to see the experts of the university. They gave them the letter of the experts from the police, and also the Ph.D. student's regards. To their relief the experts did not cast a glance at the documents and declared that they were faked, but explained to them that they were printed on the right kind of paper, with the right typeface, in the right colour.
"If they're fakes, they are well-made fakes, forged by experts." they said, but they also told them that they would have to do some more tests. They would inform the experts at the police and the publishing-house, meaning that Sasuke and Naruto did not have to return there themselves and tell the news to the journalists.
"It's out of our hands now." Sasuke said when they left the experts. He had been carrying the documents all day, but now his hands were empty, and he felt weird. "There's nothing to do for us any more except picking up the copies of the newspaper tomorrow morning."
They went to visit Juugo's fostermothers. Sakura was there, too, and they told her to visit the Ph.D. student and gave her one of the keys to their flat. They told them about their change of plan, and Naruto told them about his intention to distribute the newspaper among the people of Konoha to encourage them to stand up against Danzou. The women had prepared a meal with several courses, and also some food for the journey.
"Come back!" they said when they parted. "Take care of yourselves!"
They embraced, and then Sasuke and Naruto embraced the little girls, and also their older brothers. The latter were a bit stiff at first, but then they decided that on such an occasion it was okay to be embraced by men. They also embraced Sakura, but this felt very awkward.
They visited their class: they had never thought that saying good-bye might take a whole day. Their classmates wished them luck and a quick victory, and even those who weren't close to them seemed impressed by their intentions to participate in a real insurgency, and they were genuinely concerned and told them they hoped that they would not get hurt.
It was time to visit the guy from Earth Country and his husband. It felt weird to have breakfast in the afternoon, but it didn't really matter. Both Sasuke and Naruto were very emotional by now. They felt their friends' sadness and despair and were affected by it. Suddenly their departure began to feel real. They tried not to show their feelings: they exchanged gossip, and Naruto spoke about his intentions to change Konoha. In the end the two men told them to accompany them to the gay community center so that there they could say good-bye to their fellow dancers. They felt overwhelmed by people's emotions, most of all those of the people they had not really been close to. They did not know what to make of them.
"We can't stay to dance with you tonight." Naruto said. "There's some other people we also need to say good-bye to."
The guy from Earth Country and his husband accompanied them outside. One time after the other they embraced them, holding them tight. It was dark, so Sasuke and Naruto could not see their tears, but they could feel them. They kissed them on their cheeks and even on their mouth, but without using their tongue.
"Come back! Stay alive! Take care of yourselves!" they said one time after the other. "We'll miss you!"
"We'll miss you too." Naruto answered, feeling his own tears now on his cheeks. "We'll return! Definitely!"
After a quarter of an hour they parted. Both Sasuke's and Naruto's hearts hurt. They'd miss Music Town, and they'd miss the friends they had found here.
They knew where to find their friends from the riverside: now that it was too cold to hang out at the river they normally met in some pub in the vicinity of the university (most of them were students.)
"We've been talking about you." they said when Sasuke and Naruto entered the pub.
"What? Why?" Sasuke asked, wondering how and when they had heard of his and Naruto's intentions to leave Music Town.
"We've been discussing the article you wrote for the newspaper."
Sasuke felt blank. He had almost forgotten about the article.
"The picture you paint of Music Town is quite flattering."
"Yes, really. You still havent't understood anything. It's all nice and shiny on the surface, but you haven't seen the dark side."
"I've seen a lot of Music Town, and compared to the dark sides of Konoha it's all a light gray. Really, it's you who haven't understood what your town looks like to people like us, from Konoha. You spend your time discussing what's wrong in Music Town, but you have no idea what's right here. I mean, even that you have leisure to hang out and discuss the shortcomings of Music Town is one of the things that's right here. Go to Konoha, then you'll see that your lives here are easy and bright compared to what people go through there."
"Thanks for asking us to compare Music Town to the worst dictatorship on the continent."
Sasuke was silent. He felt angry.
"There's other places on the other side of the world." one of the young women said. "There they have real democracy. There, power and wealth are not concentrated in the hands of a few families. That's what we should aim for. Here they think that rule of law and trying to do what people want are substitutes for real participation."
"So why do you spend your time hanging around, discussing what's better on the other side of the world? Why don't you do anything? Why don't you participate?"
"Discussing is participating. Words change the world."
Sasuke fell silent. Fortunately Naruto now joined the conversation.
"We stumbled upon one of the dark sides of Music Town when we went to the newspaper to get Sasuke's article published." he said. "We needed the consent of the higher-ups of Music Town because we already got into trouble when we gave that interview to Urban Lady."
"You shouldn't have asked for the higher-ups' consent, nor should the newspaper have asked them for their consent. That's censorship, after all." one of the young women said.
"They gave their consent." Naruto answered. "There was nothing offensive about Sasuke's article. On the contrary, as you said it was rather flattering. Even when they complained about the interview in Urban Lady they didn't consider it offensive to Music Town, but they feared that it might offend Konoha. Sasuke's new text is even more offensive to Konoha, but the higher-ups of Music Town don't mind. They think that they're able to fight off Konoha, with me, the Kyuubi's jinchuuriki and also the Hachibi's jinchuuriki defending Music Town."
"So why do you feel surprised?"
"I thought that people in Music Town did not believe in violence. I thought they trusted in a complicated system of peace treaties to keep them safe."
"That's just a euphemism for trusting in the other ninja villages' ability and willingness to protect them. They trust in military strength, just as everyone else, and now that they feel strong themselves, with the Kyuubi and the Hachibi within the walls of Music Town, they trust in their own strength. Their trust in peace treaties was just the consequence of their own weakness. They're not better people here than elsewhere."
"But they expect me to fight for Music Town if Konoha asks them to extradite me. How should I fight my own friends?"
"Are you still loyal to Konoha?"
"I'm not loyal to Konoha, but I'm still loyal to my friends who live there. I don't want to fight them. I don't want to fight at all. I don't want to use the Kyuubi. I'm glad I was able to befriend it so that it's at peace now."
People went silent. Naruto wondered whether they understood his position.
"You might flee westward." one woman finally said. "When Konoha threatens to attack Music Town, and Music Town puts you under pressure to use the kyuubi against your own friends, you may leave Music Town and search for the countries beyond the mountains, beyond the desert, beyond the sea, and find refuge there. Konoha can't attack them. There you'd be able to learn more about the people in your book. And one day, when the situation is safe again, you'll be able to return and to tell us about life in those places."
Naruto considered it: Being a refugee again, in a place that was even stranger than Music Town. He still remembered his first weeks in Music Town, when everything had been strange and when he had felt lonely and desperate and longed to be at home. This time it would not be that bad: this time he would have Sasuke at his side. Still leaving Music Town and all the people he knew here in order to search for the mysterious places that had inspired the changes in Music Town seemed like an act of desperation and not like an adventure that might be a lot of fun.
"It doesn't matter." he said. "We won't flee westward. We'll join the insurgency against Danzou."
"You're returning to Konoha?"
"We are. We came to say good-bye."
They saw the admiration in their friends' faces. They were no longer teenagers who needed to be taught about politics. After some time people started to whisper among each other.
"We'll come with you." one of them said.
"To Konoha? What for?"
"To participate in the rebellion."
"We too want to make this world a better place."
"It's too dangerous for you!"
"It's not more dangerous for us than for you."
"We are ninja. You aren`t."
"Still we can contribute to the rebellion."
They were good at talking, Sasuke thought. If Naruto wanted to stick to non-violent tactics they might be useful. The problem was that they themselves did not believe in non-violent means as Naruto did, and that their theories were beyond the understanding of the inhabitants of Konoha.
"When do you plan to leave?" people asked.
"At five a.m. We need to pick up the newspaper first."
He explained about the documents Sakura had brought to Music Town.
"We'll leave before daybreak. When I came here from Konoha the journey took me three days. This time we hope to make it in two."
Again people were whispering, discussing Naruto's announcement among themselves.
"Five a.m. Is a bit early. We need time to pack. If we leave at ten or eleven we'll still be in time."
"You can't come with us. You'd slow us down. We are ninja. In wooded areas we travel by jumping from tree to tree."
"Then we'll follow you at our own pace."
"It's still too dangerous."
"We'll join a revolution. It may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
"You'll have to face Danzou! You'll have to face Root! You may die."
"We can look after ourselves. You can't tell us to stay – it's our own decision."
Someone asked who was going to come with them the next morning, and about half the group decided to go. Without believing their ears Sasuke and Naruto listened as their friends discussed the details of their adventure: where and when to meet, what to pack, how to travel. At least, saying good-bye was not as sad and heart-breaking as saying good-bye to the rest of their friends.
"See you in Konoha!" they said. "Don't defeat Danzou before our arrival!"
Sasuke and Naruto hoped to be able to take him out of office before their friends joined them. It was too dangerous to have them with them when the rebellion was still going on, but they and their ideas might be useful when they were reorganizing Konoha.
They went home without talking. They kissed and made love when they went to bed, but they did not go over three rounds. Afterwards they stood in the living-room completely naked, holding each other in their arms, just feeling each other's bodies.
"It's like a dream." Naruto said. "But I am also sad to leave Music Town. We'll come back, however, at least for visits."
At five a.m. in the morning they arrived at the publishing-house of the newspaper. People had been considerate: instead of ten copies of the whole paper they gave them a hundred copies of the article.
They left Music Town before daybreak.
Epilogue: So that's it. I want to thank all of you who followed the story, those who read only the love story, and also those who read the rest. I am fully aware that the story is too long, but there was a point when I decided to go on and to continue it the way I started it. I thought that cutting it short, or that changing to a faster style might ruin it. If I wanted to shorten it, I would have to do it after the story was finished, so that I had an idea how long every part had become, and which parts had really become dead ends that were not needed for the rest of the plot.
So what have I learnt: that I should not use too much plot. My writing style will turn even a small plot into a long story, mostly because I love to write dialogue. (But there's other reasons too.) Maybe I also should learn to cover long stretches of time in only a few pages instead of writing "scenes".
At the moment, however, I don't think that I will rewrite and shorten the story. I have worked on it for almost four years, it has been a lot of work, and now in some way I am glad that it's over, though I am also a bit sad. Thinking about my story was something I might do when I had nothing else on my mind, and all in all I enjoyed it (and this last chapter expresses my sadness about saying good-bye to the characters). Now I have to find something else to do with hours of leisure. On the other hand I have moved on: Maybe not only from the story, but also from the manga. I also realize that I could not again write a love story as the one that is covered by the first third of the chapter: my mind is elsewhere now.
I think there was a time when I considered writing about the rebellion/revolution itself, but only a few weeks after starting the actual writing of the story it got clear to me that it had to be only about the boys' stay in Music Town. I am now rather glad that I did not take it upon me to write about a revolution: mostly because we have seen quite a lot of revolutions in the news these last two years. I would not have wanted to compete with them.
I have some ideas about what happens after the revolution: how they deal with Danzou, how Konoha is reorganized, and most of all what our heroes do when the revolution is over. (Yes, I think it will be successful.) I considered writing about it, but now I think it's better if everyone has her or his own dreams
I have had a lot of sources of inspiration for this story, but my main inspiration was "From Dictatorship to Democracy" by Gene Sharp. It can found here: www. Engaged- / PDFarchive /From_ Dictatorship_to_ Democracy. Pdf (without spaces – it's a rather lengthy , so be careful). Of course I have also been influenced by the real revolutions I witnessed in my life, though not so much the Arab spring but rather the revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe and also the revolutions against "Western" dictators in Latin America or in Indonesia and the Philippines. The Arab spring had not started when I began to write my story, and I was a bit at a loss about how to deal with it, but then I decided to stick to my original concept. We still have no idea how things will work out in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya or Syria...
I have heard that the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt were actually influenced by Gene Sharp. I don't know how much of it is true: I only know that one day my Twitter-Timeline was full of comments from Egyptians who were angry about the idea that they should need an "old white man" to tell them how to do a revolution. (But it was not only Gene Sharp himself – I have also heard that they learnt from some kind of "academy for revolutionaries" in Belgrad called Otpor. Now from an Egyptian perspective Belgrad is not West, but mostly North... )
Now I think that this is a bit unjust. I don't know how much they really learnt from him, but they certainly learnt from other revolutions in other parts of the world (they would be stupid if they had not). They also expanded the repertoire of revolutionary activities: putting up tents and demonstrating for several weeks without stop was new (and revolutionaries elsewhere adopted this method.) But what's also important is that Gene Sharp himself learnt from revolutionaries all over the world, most of all Gandhi, who was certainly not an "old white man".
So now I come to speak of a point of criticism that often hurt me: people accused me of racism. Now of course it's stupid to say "I didn't meant it", so I will say: I am ready to answer to any criticism that is based on my story. I don't answer to criticism that is based only on the blurb. To people who criticize me on the basis of the blurb, I only say: please read the precise words I have written. I wrote "modern," not "western".
"Modern" is not the same as "western", even though some identify it with this. I think that "modern" can be most easily defined by its opposite, "traditional", meaning that you do things in a certain way because that's how you always did them. "Modern" means that you reconsider what you have done for all your life and ask yourself whether this is really the best way, or if there are not other, better ways. It also means to accept other ways of doing things, if they are morally neutral – it does not mean to accept everything in an inflated understanding of tolerance.
There have been various periods in history when people questioned their tradition in such a way, and they happened in various areas of the world. It's not a European prerogative. (And it would be a contradiction in itself if it was. It's not "European Tradition".)
Now of course the society the heroes encounter in Music Town is quite close to European society. It's not "Western" - it's definitely not located in the US. My beta liked it – she was not so fond of High School or College AU fics. You can see it from the fact that people play (European) football, the most popular sport of the world, or that the boys walk everywhere. They don't need cars. (That's something I wonder about in fics that are set in the US: all young people there seem to have cars. Here they often cannot afford them, and people who live in towns don't really need them, as you can go by bike or on foot or use the public transport system.)
I also remembered how someone asked me about the chapter "victim, not perpetrator" where the social worker explains to Sasuke and Naruto that in Music Town Itachi would not have been put to trial for murdering the clan. I got a review for this from someone who found that strange. She thought that he should have been hold responsible under juvenile law – which is, as I understand it, even milder than what's normal in the US, namely that children who commit serious crimes are charged as adults.
Now for me it's normal that children who are younger than fourteen aren't charged at all. They are not yet responsible for what they do – not with murder. (Of course they are responsible for not doing their homework, and they should be punished for it in an adequate way.) For me it's not understandable how someone might put a child to trial. But that's culture...
But even though most of the culture in Music Town is based on what I know I did not intend the story to be about "Western" versus "non-Western" values. I intended it to be a story about teenagers from a world that's torn apart by war coming to a place that has enjoyed peace for several decades. I based that place on what I know, simply because it is what I know, and the inhabitants of Music Town are based on the people I live with, and I like most of them, even though I don't identify with them.
(If there's any characters in the story whose views are more or less my own it's those from the university.)
But of course even though some details are based on what I know, Music Town is much better than any real place. Most of all its treatment of immigrants is what is really utopian about it: any person who wants to pursue a musical career is welcomed, and people are easily accepted as refugees on the condition that they learn to dance and to play a musical instrument. (This one was inspired by "Harold and Maude," but I got it wrong: There it's singing and dancing.)
There's other ways in which Sasuke's and Naruto's situation is easier than the situation of real refugees in Europe or elsewhere: they don't have to deal with the problem of not speaking the language, and they don't have many problems with money. Like this they can focus on getting adapted to the new culture and don't have to worry about their survival. This is of course unrealistic.
I got the idea to the story when at some point of the manga (shortly after chapter 400) I realized that the so-called Narutoverse is in fact a very horrible world. Normally escapism is a motivation to read fantasy, but who would want to escape to a world as the Narutoverse? Our own world is much better. So I let the boys escape to a place that resembles our own world, a place where people have learnt about civilian ways of life, while the Narutoverse is dominated by war.
My other motivation was that I wanted to write a story where Naruto finds a way to help Sasuke out of his state of mind where he's only focused on revenge without using violence ("beating some sense into him" - as if this had ever worked.) And from these two ideas an overlong story sprung into existence.