Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. At all. Whatsoever.

Self Deception

The boy (a boy in the physical sense only; he has seen and done too much to be a 'boy' mentally) drags a wooden stool over toward the bars of the cell. The wood makes a harsh noise against the stone floor, pierces the silence violently. The prisoner does not stir.

The boy studies the face of his friend. (He calls the prisoner 'friend' for lack of a better term; he can't use 'acquaintance', because weren't they closer than brothers once? He can't call him 'comrade', because didn't that life-that life where they were comrades-die and rot a long time ago?)

(Can he even call the other boy 'friend', after all they've been through?)

He talks to the prisoner. Attempts a (one-sided) conversation. As he always does. He likes to think that each of his visits chips away a little bit more at the mental walls shielding the prisoner. Of course, that may just be egotistical thinking. But he still hopes. (He can't stop hoping. He can't.)

He rambles about pointless things (he remembers how the other boy used to get annoyed with him for doing that). Simple things. He mentions their friends. He chatters animatedly (if he keeps the cheery mask in place, will it break the prisoner's icy one?) about low-rank missions and awkward dates between unlikely pairs. New ramen flavors and new babies.

He pauses and watches the prisoner's face.

Nothing.

No emotion.

Nothing.

Black eyes, once sharp (sharp and alive and brimming with fire, dammit; so much better than this lifelessness), stare at nothing. Dull eyes, the flame gone. A deadened gaze.

It makes the boy so angry. Then the anger burns out and fades, replaced with a cold, heavy feeling in the pit of his stomach. He arrived at this prison for the first time (it feels like so long ago) full of hope. Now that hope withers away a little more with every visit he makes.

He feels more helpless than anything else.

He wants to reach through the bars. He wants to grab the prisoner by the thin, brittle-looking shoulders and shake him until his bones rattle. He wants to shake the boy he once called a teammate until the ice breaks and they can look at each other like living beings, instead of two boys (so much older inside than they look on the outside) slowly and silently watching each other die.

He wants the silence to break. He wants to be insulted mercilessly, because then he will know that things are back to normal. He wants to feel the other boy punch him in the face without holding back, because pain would be a thousand times more preferable than the morbid silence he continues to endure.

(Answer me. Answer me. Say something. Say anything.)

He slips a flower through the bars-a gift from their teammate, the girl he considers a sister-and stands. He takes a step backwards and knocks over the stool. It hits the floor with a bang that sounds disproportionately loud, a bang that echoes in the silence. A bang that earns him nothing resembling a reaction from the prisoner.

He tries to meet the other boy's gaze and fails, because the black eyes are fixed resolutely on the cold floor. The boy sighs, the familiar feeling of failure settling over him (because once more he has failed to bring his friend back from the darkness).

He closes his eyes. He apologizes. Again.

He is ignored entirely. Again.

He turns away from the dank, depressing cell. He adds one more thing before he leaves.

"See you tomorrow, Sasuke."

(He'll keep coming back. He knows that. He still believes that he can bring back his friend, so he'll keep coming until either the wall around Sasuke breaks…or he does.)

~Owari

A/N: This is what happens when I open up a Word document at one in the morning. Sorry if it's too ambiguous..but I'm pretty happy with the way it came out.