A/N: Happy birthday, Missa! I hope that this is okay and not too angsty for you. Um. Yeah. (Everybody, we sing on one…two…three!)

Anyhoo, I'm glad I don't own Naruto, because then the fangirls would blow my stuff up. And I also don't own When You Were Young by The Killers, which makes me sad.

Read, review, and enjoy. XD

something beautiful


This is not a love story.


(you sit there in your heartache)

It's been three (two and a half, she used to think, when she was optimistic and life was, if not roses, then at least lacking thorns) years since he left them (left her).

Sometimes, she thinks there's hope, and Naruto smiles more often, clenching his fists and hitting the targets harder, because maybe if he trains hard enough, he'll bring him back this time. When he goes away, she smiles, and waves, and allows herself to think that things might work out, maybe, this time (and she pleads with the walls, pleaseohplease can he come back please please I'm begging you please).

But this is not like her fairy tales. There are no knights to come in and save the day, and the dragons are a little to close to home for anyone to slay. The hero has tarnished armor, the princess is bandaging wounds and sewing up gashes in stomachs and arms and heads, there isn't any time for waiting any more, and she doesn't think that there will be a happy ending (there are never any happy endings).

She slams her book shut and throws it against the wall.


(it ain't so sweet, you don't have to drink)

Someday, she will walk towards him, and she will see him as he is, not as she thought he was.

The resulting explosion of all her thoughts will bring down buildings, at the very least—because she has a wall separating the rational and the emotional in her head, a thick line drawn across cerebrum and cerebellum, and this wall could fall down at any moment when it comes to him, and it always comes down to him, doesn't it (she screams that she wants him out of her head, and it's like he's laughing, and dammit, why won't he just get out?).

Someday came sooner than she thought, though, and she is seeing him as he is, and she knows that this contradicts all the images of him she has catalogued inside her head (with notes like "I'm sure he'll get better", and "there's an explanation, I swear", or "really, he's not like that"), and down goes the wall.

She doesn't bring down buildings (he doesn't leave).


(and sometimes you close your eyes)

Avoiding him is easy.

She knows his schedule like the back of her hand, and even if she didn't, she could always get the answer out of Naruto (he's always with him, isn't he, always trailing and being loud and boisterous, as if that's all it'll take) or Ino (of course she'd know, that's what gossipy best friends are for), which would enable her to figure out the best route to the hospital that definitely wouldn't cause her to cross paths with him.

Yes, she knows that it's denial and it's useless and she'll have to deal with him eventually, that you can't skirt around the people that are technically your teammates forever.

No, she isn't prepared when it actually happens.

It is barely even a confrontation, if that. Just a passing in the street, maybe even some eye contact, before she jerks away so she doesn't have to look at him.

She's not sure if she's forgiven him or not, now that it's been almost half a year, and perhaps she should feel more solid about what she feels about him. Maybe she feels guilty for the look on his face, maybe not. How she feels isn't very clear at the moment.

All she knows is that she doesn't want to face him, look at him for longer than a few seconds before turning away.

Not yet.


(waiting on some beautiful boy)

In a roundabout way, she hears what he says.

He never says anything important when she's around, because she's never around, and yes, she means for that to happen, that's exactly what she wants. So she never hears anything directly, but instead hears from Ino (who got it from Shikamaru who was talking to Kakashi who was training with Naruto who was there when he said) that he thought that they might have been beautiful.

It takes a while for her to process this (she sits and stares at the wall and laughs and cries until her throat hurts) and Tsunande-shishou thinks she looks like death warmed over when she walks into the hospital room—she thinks she does too, but she doesn't care, as long as her hands are busy and she can't think beyond her chakra control.

When she gets ready to go home, it's late o'clock, and she really should have gone home three hours ago. Now it's dark and it takes her two tries to walk out the door, she's so worn-out and emptied and tired.

He catches her when she falls out through the front gate.

After she pulls away from him (she can walk by herself, and if she weren't exhausted, she would think about the implications of that and laugh until she cried) and stands up, he walks behind her, hands in pockets and head down slightly—because something has changed, and they are reversed, and yet the same.

They reach her apartment, and he helps her up the steps before beginning the walk to his home, and then she remembers.

"If you really think that…" she starts, and pauses, trying to get the words right, as he turns around slowly to face her again, "That we could have been beautiful, well…" and he is watching her now, studying her face as she pauses, one hand turning the key in the lock so she can go inside (irony has a bitter taste in her mouth).

"I'm tired of love stories."


(save you from your old ways)

They are eighteen, and she still avoids him.

She thinks that Tsunande-shishou knows this, and that's why she chose this mission, this particular one, to forego a buffer between him and her and send the two of them alone (she had been counting on Naruto or Kakashi-sensei to be there, stupid boy-men).

The mission is simple on paper—go in, seduce, go out—and no unnecessary shinobi will be sent, so she has to admire the efficiency. After all, she just has to look pretty and slip a senbon in the man's heart, while he will be standing by in case of… complications. Everything will work out perfectly.

Or, at least, that's what she keeps telling herself.

But now it's close to the time, and she is preparing herself, with knock-out lipstick and poisoned-tipped senbon in her hair, kunai hidden in holsters on the insides of her thighs. Green fabric that gleams under the lights is wrapped around her in some semblance to a dress, accenting and diminishing as fit for a kunoichi mission. Winding her hair around her head, she sits in front of the mirror, trying to ignore his silent presence behind him.

When she stands up to go, high heels click-clacking on the floor, he doesn't say anything, and she thinks that that is even worse than if he had.

Later, she is asked if she remembers when things went wrong. She tells them that she can't recall.

What she doesn't tell them is that she does remember him carrying her, as if she were nothing but a doll leaning against his chest. She doesn't tell them that she knows how angry he was, that she knows that he killed the man who stabbed her, and a good dozen others besides, because he thought she was dead (at first she thinks that it's irrelevant, but then she doesn't want someone to manipulate him any more).

She doesn't tell them what his face looked like.


(we can make it if we take it slow)

In the end, it is messy.

They are tangled together, with his hands around her and her hands in his hair and lips and legs twisting and turning into one big knot of him and her.

She is still hurting, and he doesn't ask, and maybe someday (she's always liked somedays) they will work things out, and things will mesh—the broken little corners and the sharp edges will slide together, if not perfectly, then good enough. But someday isn't right now, and there are places where he won't say anything and where she won't try to understand, where all they can do is offer a shoulder and wait out the storm.

Together, they are just one big mess, and maybe that's how they need it to be. Other people will have their happy endings (and she hopes that someday there'll be one for them as well), but that will be a while yet, and for now it's just the waiting and the fixing (they have a lot of broken hearts and burned bridges between them) and the hoping.

Eventually, the roles will shift (this is like in science, she thinks, everything must be equal, push and pull, reverse polarities, and if one changes, so does the other), things will change, and there will be different looks and different needs.

This is not eventually, though, and he still thinks they could be beautiful, and she's still tired of fairy tales.

(She tells him, almost asleep and her mouth by his ear, that this is not a love story.)

(like you imagined)


(when you were young)

Review, people. Please.