AN: Wrote this awhile back and figured I'd might as well post it as not. Beware of repetition, allusions to AU or possible Spoilers. This is rather simplistic, and I probably could have deepened the impact somewhat, but I liked the symmetry the way it was. And I'm lazy. One-shot, about 800 words.

I think most of the characters referenced are pretty clear, but if you can't figure one out, just ask and leave your e-mail (or log in to review) and I'll let you know.

Disclaimer: At the risk of negating the theme of my foray into his territory, I make no claim to the genius of Masashi Kishimoto. He rocks. As is clear by my mutating his stuff, I don't.


Genius Doesn't Matter

It doesn't matter if you're the best of your age at everything. It doesn't matter if you can throw a kunai accurately from fifty paces or know fifteen ways to kill a man using only a senbon. It doesn't matter if you can recite all the ninja rules from memory or have mastered the art of kenjutsu. It doesn't matter if you can discover and invent things no one has ever dreamed of. Because in the end, you're going to die just the same as those poor inferior classmates and you could have spent your time in arts and crafts for all the difference it made.

It doesn't matter if you're the smartest girl your age. It doesn't matter if you are renowned as the premier medical ninja. It doesn't matter if you mastered a genjutsu to make you young and regenerate your body. It doesn't matter if you have super strength and extra chakra tucked away in a seal on your forehead. Because in the end, you were still unable to save the people who mattered most to you.

It doesn't matter if you graduate years before your peers. It doesn't matter if you can come up with crazy jutsus and master anything. It doesn't matter if you're fast and strong and feared by the enemy. It doesn't matter if you have survived a thousand missions and copied a thousand techniques. Because your father is still dead, your best friend is still dead, your sensei is still dead, the girl you should have loved is still dead, and you are still waiting to die.

It doesn't matter if you graduate early and become an ANBU captain before you hit puberty. It doesn't matter if you master all the techniques of your clan and become someone for them to take pride in. It doesn't matter if you learn the secret of your bloodline and carry it through. It doesn't matter if you make a name for yourself that is listed in the front of the bingo book. Because in the end, you will never recover the innocence that was stolen from you and you will never be loved by the clan you killed.

It doesn't matter if you can master all the techniques prized by your clan. It doesn't matter if you are quick and smart and deadly. It doesn't matter that your eyes are better than theirs, that your skills are better than theirs, that you are simply better than the ones you have to respect. Because in the end, you can't change which family you were born into, and you can't unlock your own cage.

It doesn't matter if you are beloved by the village. It doesn't matter if you have fangirls with every name in the baby-book. It doesn't matter if you are your teacher's favorite and the rookie of the year. It doesn't matter if you are willing to do absolutely anything to accomplish your goal. Because in the end, even if you succeed, they will still be dead and you will still love the man you have sworn to kill.

It doesn't matter if you've never been beaten at shougi. It doesn't matter if you can come up with a strategy to win any battle, given enough time and chakra. It doesn't matter if your brain is so full of racing thoughts that you have to stop and stare at the clouds to get some peace and quiet. It doesn't matter if you are the first to be promoted to a rank you don't really want. Because in the end, you don't really care what other people think about you, and you don't really think you're all that special.

It doesn't matter if you sound like a walking textbook. It doesn't matter if you know all the ninja rules by heart. I doesn't matter if you have better chakra control than your teammates. It doesn't matter if you follow in the footsteps of a legendary ninja. Because in the end, your teammates are way ahead of you, and you can't catch up no matter how hard you try.

It doesn't matter if you're called a demon. It doesn't matter if no one respects you or loves you. It doesn't matter if your techniques are dismissed as foolish, your abilities relegated to "dead-last" and your sacrifices demeaned as weakness. It doesn't matter that your teacher and team-mate play favorites, you live alone, or that your best friend shoved his hand through your chest. Because nothing, and you mean nothing, is going to keep you from fulfilling your promises. Not genius sannin, or genius teachers, or genius psychopaths, or genius opponents, or genius friends, or genius teammates. Because genius is just a word, and you believe that actions speak louder than even your own vehement proclamations. Because, despite all the supposed "genius" of those that have come before, you are the only one with a dream that you can be proud of.