By: Rael

Hinata didn't wake for a week after her fight with Neji.

It had taken a team of medics working through the night before anyone could be sure she would live at all. Kiba remembered Kurenai-sensei's face in the sterile light of the waiting room, all shadows and stark, strained lines. They were her first genin team, he'd heard. It wasn't until dawn that the doors had opened, a medic smiling weakly at Sensei as the old woman said her condition was "stable" now. Kiba would have stormed right in to see for himself, but Shino had turned up at the opportune moment to hold him back. Then they'd gone home.

But Hinata didn't wake.

Kiba felt trapped in the hospitals walls, with their stink of drugs and blood and disease, with their too quiet stillness. He couldn't even kick a wall and swear because they'd throw him out. Shino and Kurenai-sensei came by every other morning, and Kurenia-sensei would talk to the medic for a few minutes. Kiba didn't see why she bothered. It was always the same thing - "condition stable, can't be sure of anything until she wakes". He wanted to grab them and shake, yell at them to do something dammit, why hadn't she woken up yet? Why did she look so pale and weak if her condition was stable, her breathing still hoarse and pained, and stinking of blood?

Kiba had known the smell of blood all his life. He'd never hated it so much before.

Shino said that he'd know if she woke, and he'd tell them, so Kiba didn't have to keep hanging around the hospital making the staff nervous. He knew Kurenai-sensei eyed him warily sometimes, but he managed to refrain from damaging anything; only snarled under his breath and wandered in and out of the hospital as often as six times a day. He'd happen to be passing by, or have nothing better to do - it wasn't like he had to train for the exams anyway. He never stayed for long, only looked in, sat down, fidgeted, then left.

Akamaru didn't like the hospital anymore than Kiba did, but he never made a sound about it.

He ran into Neji once, a couple of days after the exam. He hadn't bothered to visit Hinata, never mind that he'd put her there, and would have passed Kiba without a second glance if the boy hadn't come to an abrupt stop, eyes narrowing as he glared at the older boy. Neji had met his glare, eyebrows raised as if he couldn't recall - understand - the boy's blatant animosity - then he had. His lips curled in a smirk. "How touching." Kiba would have hit him, hands clenching into fists, but Neji stalked past him and the moment passed. He should have hit him when he had the chance, he thought later, sitting by the bed.

Her family never came. Some family they were, he'd thought to himself. So much for the Hyuuga name.

The days passed and Kiba felt the frayed edges of his temper part, split, snap, one by one. Akamaru, who wore his moods like a second skin, was quiet that week - didn't even whine, never mind that Kiba wasn't giving him half the attention he was used to. Oh, he still scratched his ears and fed him and threw sticks and trained, but his heart wasn't /quite/ there - Akamaru could tell. He didn't complain though - he worried about the girl too, and he could cut Kiba some slack.

On the seventh morning, she looked better.

The face was still hollow, still ashen, but when she drew breath, it was quietly, easily, the scent of blood almost nothing but a memory. Akamaru nipped Kiba on the leg. The boy smiled, and scruffed his fur, smoothed it. "She looks better." He said, then settled himself in a chair, a hard, uncomfortable thing that he'd become far too familiar with in the past week. Kiba was not patient - he'd barely managed to sit through school when he'd had a whole class of kids his age to distract him - a hospital room, with its plain walls, delicate equipment and suffocating silence, was worse.

He waited anyway.

He also got up, paced the room, wandered into the corridor, bought himself two cans of soda... Sat down again, arms crossed as he glowered. "Come on, it's been a week... That bastard - if I..." Akamaru heard him mutter. Then he got up to toss the empty can into a dustbin. When he came back, Akamaru leapt into his lap with a soft yip, and he scratched his ears. An hour passed.

Before he knew it, Kiba was asleep.

"Ki... kiba-kun...?"

He woke with a start as hesitant fingers brushed his cheek, coming awake at once.


"Kiba-kun? How long have you been here? ... How long was I asleep...?" She asked, then coughed, even as she struggled to sit up.

He didn't know how long he'd been here. Damn, he hadn't meant to fall asleep like that; why didn't Akamura wake him? He stood. "I just dropped by to see how you were - don't do that! Lie down!" He said, brusque, when he saw what she was doing, reaching to catch her shoulder, help her lie back down. "I'll go get the medics - you've been asleep for a week, they thought you were going to die - dammit, I told you not to fight him!"


And he was out of the door, only to return with a medic firmly gripped by the collar. The medic glowered at Kiba and his rude treatment, but turned to Hinata with a polite smile, checked her vitals, questioned her.

She looked past the young man to Kiba, opaque eyes large and worried. "I was asleep for a week...?"

"Yeah." He glowered at the medic's back. "They said your condition was stable but you didn't wake up." He would have said more, but the medic was there, listening, and he wasn't that stupid.

She looked down, fingers clasping, then unclasping again. "But... but you still bothered to visit..." She said, quiet.

"Eh, I'm not the only one... Sensei and Shino drop by in the morning too... even that jerk Naruto came once, with Sakura..." She jumped at that and blushed. He scowled and looked away.

"Ah... but Kiba-kun." He looked up. She smiled, a small, shaky thing. "Thank you. For visiting." She said, the words soft. "I didn't think anyone would."

"... What? That's stupid. Why wouldn't anyone visit? Everyone worried about you -" He snapped without thinking, scowling at her.

Shino and Sensei would probably show up soon enough, and there was bad news waiting to be told - Rock Lee, Naruto's coming match... He sat down again and muttered. There went his day. Not that he was sorry about it... He watched Hinata sit up with the medic's careful help.

Kiba was not patient; he'd probably never be. But hell... he could learn.