"Give me chastity and continence, but not yet." -Saint Augustine

Author's Note is here because I don't want to ruin the mood at the end of the story (Wow, that sounded professional! Freaky). Those of you who review get cookies, and everyone likes cookies. Those who give constructive criticism get two cookies, because I seriously appreciate it. Those who flame will get the happiness of watching me roast marshmallows over the fire. Enjoy!

(PS: I was forced to put this on with out beta reading it; my printer's on the fritz!)

Dear Hinata,

You scare me.

I think you should get a pin or a plaque or something, just for having achieved that previously impossible feat. It would be engraved with the words, "I Scared Aburame Shino And LIVED!" Then it would sit in the bottom of the drawer with all the other ribbons and medals you're ashamed to put out because they say something like, "I'm A Super Star!" or "I'm A Stellar Reader".

But I'm rambling now, aren't I? My apologies.

It occurs to me that this is probably the most candid you will ever see me. Writing this letter. Maybe it crosses your mind that Kiba's playing some stupid joke to make me (Shino) angry. Hm, what can I do to assure you that this isn't a joke? I could tell you about the most embarrassing moment of my life. You know the one– little Aburame's first day in the Academy.

Or not.

Let's get back on topic.

I used to wear the sunglasses and the high collar for others. Bugs aren't like dogs or pigs, you can't wave them around. When I was little, I'd make faces at people behind the jacket and laugh hysterically inside. Yet another oddity, Shino laughing hysterically. It took me quite a long time to build up this stoic exoskeleton and now you can tear it down just by looking at me with your pearl eyes.

There's another reason why you scare me. Every time you glance at me, look at me, study me– something happens. I'm not really well-versed in these sort of things: when your stomach flutters, your face turns red, and your heartbeat suddenly seems very loud and out of place. Maybe you could identify these symptoms better, Hinata, being a girl. Girls are generally good at these types of things.

Now I wear the sunglasses and collar partly for me. If I didn't have the glasses, there wouldn't be a barrier between my eyes and yours. If I didn't wear the coat, there'd be no barrier between my mouth and yours. That could have severe repercussions, don't you agree? Especially since I'm Shino, the Impenetrable Wall, Shino, the Boy With No Emotions, Shino, The Freak.

I'd come to accept that long ago, being a freak. But when you're a freak among other freaks, as we are in Team Eight, your views are a little distorted. Are we all freaks? And in being so, would being freakish be normal? Will I ever stop using the word 'freak' multiple times in a paragraph?

The answer? A resounding, hearty 'maybe.'

See, now I'm rambling again. When I think about you my thoughts have a life of their own. Do you see why you scare me?

Every curve of your body throws me for a loop. Number one, because I actually notice, and number two, because there are so many and they are all absolutely, indescribably perfect. I'm afraid to take off my glasses because if I see in any more clarity, I don't know what will happen because I don't really know who I am anymore.

Did you know that you have the power to make me shake? Every time we accidently brush together, training or relaxing, I shiver a bit inside. I doubt you notice though, and even if you did, Hinata, you'd probably just account it to the kikai under my skin. Is this how you feel around Naruto? No wonder you blush. I would too.

Every time I look at you, it's like my insides have flipped. It's a good thing I have the outer shell of Shino-ness (as Kiba has so kindly dubbed it). Better known as apathy, indifference, or the general qualities of a boulder. So I push my glasses up the bridge of my nose and stick my hands in my pockets, where I've hidden little pieces of paper that say "SHINOBI CODE OF CONDUCT: RULE #25" in black marker. Grip them tightly and curl up in my emotion-less Shino shell.

Other people are so lucky, really. They can cry, laugh, get angry, show emotion. But I, oh so lucky Shino, am the heir to the Aburame clan. In case you didn't know this– but of course you do– that means every action I perform, good or bad, is recorded not as Shino's Acts but as Acts Of The Aburame Clan. Having a temper tantrum or randomly kissing you wouldn't exactly help our reputation, would it?

So what do I do?

I sit here and write fictitious letters to you. It's midnight and I can't get you off my mind. I'm afraid to go to sleep because I'll have to douse myself in cold water in the morning and concentrate on nice, clean thoughts before I meet you in training.

Now I sound like a pervert. Honestly, please bear with me, Hinata. I apologize again.

Why do you like him? You know who I'm talking about, of course. Now, don't get me wrong, he's an okay guy and all (sort of). But why do you adore him like you do? Naruto's never going to return your affections, and I can't believe I'm writing this. I'm a soulless wonder. Good going, Aburame. This is why Rule #25 is in the book. Because ninjas like you are stupid.

Hinata, you amaze me and you deserve someone better. Someone who will smile and laugh without hiding behind a collar and sunglasses from the rest of the world. I can't give you what you need. I wish I could. But I'm taking a page out of Neji's book and blaming fate for wanting something I can never have.

So now I will fold up this letter that I will never send, retract into my stoic Shino shell, and hope that perhaps fate will allow our hands to brush again in training tomorrow.

Excuse me as I throw this into the fire.


Aburame Shino