Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. I just have too much time on my hands.

second place


Tenten has spent her life in second place; she was born to a life of silver medals and a pillar just a bit smaller. She has always been almost as good. She has never been the winner, nor has she been the loser. She has just been there, almost at the top, fighting for the gold, but never having quite enough.

Lee has spent his life in second place; but he was born to a life of last place, he has grown, he is greater, his slightly-smaller pillar is so high he cannot believe it. He lives willing to come in second, willing to lose to Neji, Naruto, Sasuke, because he knows that this betters him. He is willing to wait for his time for the gold, and works for it.

Lee is willing to come in second in Sakura's heart. He is willing to be loved just a bit less than Sasuke. He is willing to strive for silver, if that is truly what Sakura wants for him. But he wishes for gold.

Tenten hates coming in second place. First in the heart of Neji to his ambition, again in the heart of Kakashi to one long dead and gone, and again in Lee's to Sakura.

Second ambition, to someone gone, to Sakura.

She knows how Lee feels, and somehow he stands it. He is a saint, she decides. He is so good that as long as Sakura is happy, he is happy. Well, Tenten is not a saint. Second place does not suit her. She has been pushed aside by Neji, by Kakashi. She has surrendered her second place spot to someone else, someone willing to come in second to aspiration or a dead being.

She finds it ironic, almost, that she should come in second to a woman who holds Lee in second place in her heart. She hates the thought of Lee in second place. She hates the thought of herself in second place. In fact, the irony hurts. Why hadn't she noticed Lee back when they were young, back when he would have been willing to relinquish his second place spot in the heart of the girl he loved for the second place Tenten, willing to live a life with Tenten, willing to know that while Sakura still held him in second place, he would always be first place in Tenten's.

They are all, in the end, second place. Sasuke is second in the heart of his brother to ambition, and Sakura is second to Sasuke's rage. Lee is second to Sasuke, and Tenten is second to Sakura.

She wonders how Lee lives in second place. How did he stand it for so long? It is tearing Tenten apart. It is a physical pain almost; it rips and tears in her heart. She cannot believe Lee did this for so long.

Lee may be willing to come in second in Sakura's heart. But Tenten's not ready to settle for second in Lee's heart just yet.


A/N: Exactly 500 words. And, Kakashi's 'one long gone' is interchangeably Rin or Obito.