Title: Outside of Convention.

Author: Lell.

Date of Completion: 08/12/2005.

Written For: angstyalex.

Summary: There isn't space in this world of metal and murder for the storybook romance of this guy and that girl. (NejiTen.)


It's a story of a guy and a girl.

It's a story of a guy who looks like a girl, but has a heart too jaded to be mortal and a disposition to match.

It's a story of a girl who does a man's work and a man's deed for the man in her heart.

It's a story that was never really a story, never made it into history, never became a fairytale because fairytales have happy endings and this one's only bittersweet.

She was a girl and he was a guy, but they never really understood how such things were supposed to work because she was as fine as tempered steel and he was a God on a mountaintop. Unattainable.

They were teammates, but the word meant little. She wanted wonder and he just wanted the sky – neither gained it.

She was the girl who longed to be renowned, a name of legend. Instead she became a killer with her blades and her bows, all the softness that might have made her love him erased out of necessity.

He was the guy who saw the sky beyond the bars and stretched for it…but fell short. Far too short. Scarred lines burnt into skin sealed his mind and soul and heart – Tradition's sacrificial lamb.

There was a guy and a girl who together made the world spin round. She held death in her hand and he held it in his eyes, so they dealt it to those who deserved it and sometimes to those who didn't.

In a story, orders can be negated. When day banishes dreams, the words on that scroll are law. Diamond-like – unbreakable.

He was a guy and she was a girl, but they were both blind where the other was concerned. She tried to love him once, but her heart was too broken by then, too hemmed in by death and destruction and blood to let in a little glimmer of quiet night. He might have loved the girl he used to fight by, but this creature of metal and murder is too much like what he himself became for camaraderie to turn to tenderness.

He, she, they were shinobi and shinobi was code for death. It licked at their lives and they knew it was a friend they would meet before long. He accepted it; she fought it. Both found it inevitable.

She was a girl who nearly died once, found herself broken and bleeding on the ground because there was always someone stronger out there. He patched her up – not out of affection, but because too many people had already died and, dammit, she was useful.

He was a guy who saw too much to be able to come close to death. Part of him was curious as to what the darkness would feel like, but with his eyes, there was always light. Painful light. Light that would never leave.

They were the ones who took the backseat. She wasn't as famous as Sakura or flamboyant as Ino. He wasn't the Kyuubi's host or the sole survivor of a powerful clan. Neither cared because neither felt much anymore.

There was a time when the story could have been a fairytale, when she broke down, shattered into pieces and he had the option to be the one to fix her. He could have held her and loved her, let his barriers down and forced her own to fall. He could have gentled and sweetened and loved and lived.

Instead, he looked into her dry eyes (because, even when broken, she was a shinobi and shinobi never cried) and told her to get up, to brush herself off because he needed her.

And the need he had for her was not the one that made dreams come true. She still wanted greatness and he still wanted freedom and both of them accepted what it was that they had which was nothing.

Except each other and they didn't fit together – too different, too real and, by now, far too late.

She was a girl who once might have loved him, drawn by his elegance and his power.

He was a guy who once might have loved her, a woman with strength to support his own.

She was a girl.

And he was a guy.

And they lived in a world where girls and guys were irrelevant and all that mattered was the steel in her hand and the sight in his mind. A few worlds over, maybe there was love everlasting or even gentle affection or at the very least some sort of fondness that stretched beyond the 'I need you and you need me and death needs us both' that they had.

It's the story of a guy and a girl and how not loving sometimes makes a story a story.

Even if they wanted to.


Author's Comments:

Old stuff again, and my first NejiTen piece, I think. I like the general tone of the piece, but I may want to rewrite it some day. You know. When I have time.