A/N: KibaShino. Because though it has now been written, we need MORE of it, dammit. And also because Shino's hair looks like a federal disaster area half the time, if that makes any sense. ^_^;;

. . . I have a hair obsession, 'kay?



"The Normal Euphoria"



Shino's hair is a frizzy, rumpled mess. It looks like he got struck by lightning and never bothered to brush it out after he recovered. Even Kiba's own tousled locks are nothing next to the horror of Shino's bedhead.

But Shino doesn't care about such things. He is no Ino or Sakura who primps and fusses, nor even a Neji who at least brushes and binds. His hair is all tangles and snarl-balls and, if he even gave it that moment of consideration, could probably easily be persuaded into dreadlocks. He doesn't, of course, so it most likely never will be.

It kind of annoys Kiba, though, which is something no one expected. Kiba doesn't mind getting messy, after all; it's just the sight of the perfectly stoic Shino with his finger-in-the- wall-socket hair that bothers him. Not all the time, true, but today . . . today it does.

"Sit still," Kiba orders, brandishing fingernails that are more like claws. Shino is rightfully suspicious, but does as told (since he was already doing so anyway and doesn't want to move). Sometimes he feels that Kiba orders him around simply to enforce the fact that Shino does whatever he damn well pleases and they all know it, but doesn't actually care enough to be boss. Kiba can be strange like that. Shino thinks Kurenai said something about hierarchy or pack mentality once.

Shino does not understand much about the way a pack works. A beehive, a wasp nest, an anthill? Easy to comprehend. But the reason that Kiba is Kiba? Such a thing is beyond Shino and his hive-mind.

So he sits, and Kiba's claws-but-not-claws rake through his hair, impatient and rough but never really painful. Never really anything but there.

There is a flea on Kiba's neck. Shino beckons it away before Kiba forgets and scratches. They have a sort-of agreement. Kiba doesn't squash bugs, Shino doesn't kick dogs, and neither of them deliberately upsets Hinata.

There are other nuances to it, but that is the basic idea. It is really almost all that matters to either of them.

When they made the agreement, though, Kiba did not feel calm inside like his soul was being stroked when he was around Shino and Shino did not feel like his heart was darting around his chest like a drunken dragonfly every time that Kiba touched him. Neither of them felt any need to hide any part of themselves out of any reason besides habit.

Now, both would quite willingly stab themselves in the eye with a kunai before they spoke of this thing. It has become "taboo," like the way that certain things are for Team 10. It is like that word about Chouji or talking bad about "Sasuke-kun" or asking Shikamaru why he REALLY doesn't care about anything at all. It is understood.

And what is love, anyway? Kissing and hugging and saying it all the time? There's not much better than throwing yourself between, say, a set of acupuncture needles and the object of your affection to prove the depth and sincerity of your feelings. Flowers pale in comparison to the well-thrown shuriken.

Emotions do not need to be stated; familiarity does not need to be sought. There can be no awkwardness between those whose lives depend on each other. If there is doubt, there is death.

Shino and Kiba both know this. They also know that they have a B-rank mission coming up and that they could quite possibly die on it. And really, what is worse than the word unsaid?

Kiba's finger-claws and Shino's snarl-ball hair, and everything they want that is nothing like but still the logical continuation of what they'd had before. A lifespan as short as a shinobi's does not wait for love, fussing and complaining because one party is too loud or the other too distant and distracted.

Kiba wants to feel all these things that the stories talk about with Shino. To wake up with him and go to sleep with him and catch him between those times and kiss him blind. Shino wants to feel those things as well. He wants Kiba's touch and Kiba's smile and the ability to command the other's full attention with a word.

Kiba's fingers finally slow. Shino looks in the mirror out of politeness.

It is still his hair, really. Still all split-ends and frizz, heat damage and whatever else. Slightly neater, of course, but only barely. Still his hair, and still Kiba's hands in it, doing more stroking now than untangling. It is a nice enough feeling, so Shino lets him keep doing it.

Kiba is barely awake, a drowsy content feeling having settled over him. Shino's scent is everywhere around him and Akamaru is sleeping beside him. Really, he doesn't remember ever feeling so . . . so "normal" without Shino around. So pleased and calm and happy.

Neither of them is a "cure-all" for the other. Kiba still gets mad with or without Shino. Shino still is much quieter than necessary with or without Kiba. Both feel love and hate and apathy in those emotions' due times.

But this is, more or less, what both feel life ought to be like forever.



* finale *



. : this is my perfect, perfect life : .