A/N: Inspired by Shippuden 28. Not to say that all inspiration is happiness, sunshine, and yogurt. Anywho, this is my first submission for the big annual NejiTen community contest on LJ.

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. (Thank goodness; Shippuden would absolutely suck my will to live.)

1: FOIL
Genre: Dramangst
Rating: K+
Song: Linkin Park- In the End

F is for 'Failure to Thrive'

Suffocation via melancholia.

At least, that's what I call it privately. If I ever said it aloud, people would suspect me of being more than just the team's kunoichi-- more than just plain old me. Hell, I'm not even the "pretty one" on the team. I wasn't even allowed that title. That's you, my dear.

(I laugh, a hollow sound. You seem to recoil from its echo.)

I have noticed something. Maybe you have, and maybe you haven't, but that fact is irrelevent. The fact is that it is, and has always been, and I'm addressing it so that it may not always be:

I always seem to find myself drowning.

Have you ever noticed? Probably not. I suppose you are just like the others in the way of placing me as just there. I am not someone special. I excel at nothing; I am not the 'best' at anything. There will always be someone better than me at everything I do, weaponry or no.

I do not pity myself, by the way. I'm just saying.

(You are confused, though you try not to show it. Are you truly blind?)

I am always drowning. That, simply put, is my fate. I wonder if that makes me special. And I wonder why water likes the taste of my flesh so much. I wonder still why I'm never under long enough to expire.

I suppose I have you to thank for that. Once. So thank you for that one time that you truly saved my life.

Was it payment for all the time sacrificed for your benifit? If only I could assume such.

Maybe you were finally able to glance through the window of the soul that you so adamantly stash away. Maybe there, you could see me looking through; maybe you knew that for once, I needed you.

Sort of like I do now.

(I kick at the puddle in the middle of our path. You are as silent as usual. Somehow, I'm not surprised.)

I'm not looking for an answer to an unasked question. I'm probably just talking to hear myself talk. Maybe that's who I am. But you wouldn't know; no one really does. You, as in all of you, can't know anything about me; do you even ask of my surname? My family? You don't know me. I wonder if you'll ever try.

Even so, I trust you.

(You seem to find my change of tone odd. I don't blame you.)

Don't look so scandalized; even if you don't know me, you still know more than most. This automatically gives me the go-ahead to give you all of my trust.

Are you surprised that I trust you? If I were being completely honest (Your normally steady gait is somewhat off. It's not because of me, is it?) I'd tell you just how much I truly feel for you.

(You trip. Funny, there are no rocks marring this smooth path.)

I've surmised that I can't be in love, though.

(No reaction. Surprised?)

I don't know you, and you don't know me. We're just two souls thrown together by Fate. (Laugh.) Is it not a concept you are familiar with? Can you honestly say that you don't understand?

I feel a love for you. I do. But I cannot be in love. Not yet. (Pause.) So please let go of this vice grip you have on my heart. It's quite confusing, and somewhat painful whenever you're near.

What?

Oh.

Well, I told you that I always seem to find myself drowning.

(You're not laughing, and you're not crying, but I think I may be doing a little bit of both.)

Am I out of character? Who is to say? You don't know me at all.

(There is silence again. The same sort that brought on my confession.)

So, Lee. What do you suppose Neji will think of this?

(You shake your head, and reply that you definitely do not know. I suppose that I need a different audience.)

--

You know what's messed up? The fact that Shippuden 29's gonna reveal things that don't happen until a gazillion chapters ahead in the manga. It's WORSE than fillers! GRAWR!