Little Gifts

Disclaimer: These characters belong to Kishimoto-sensei, not me. No money made, spent, or rolled in naked.

Written by request for Rondaview.

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He bought it two weeks in advance, just so he wouldn't forget, but it sat untouched in his top dresser drawer until almost three days after the event.

Akamaru had tried to give him advice on the matter, but as much as Kiba valued his partner's opinion, he knew that some things just didn't translate between dog and human. For example, he doubted that Hinata would appreciate him showing his affection for her by getting down on his knees and sniffing her crotch.

At least, not until after the wedding.

So that's where the necklace came in. It wasn't anything flashy, just a little crystal pendant on a gold chain; almost invisible next to the more colorful jewelry, but beautiful when the sun hit it. Of course, two days after buying it he'd been sorely tempted to go back to the jewelry store and replace it with something more expensive. It was only his woefully short funds that had prevented the venture.

Yet, despite all his careful planning and late nights spent composing exactly what he would say to her, when Hinata's birthday finally rolled around, Kiba choked.

It wasn't entirely his fault! Hinata, after all, celebrated (if that was the right word) the occasion with her family, and far be it from them to let her invite anyone she considered a friend. Obviously his gift had to wait until he could see her again.

But then the next day they'd had mission after mission, trying to lessen the backlog that had been piling up recently. Of course he couldn't give it to her in front of Shino and Kurenai-sensei, even if they were on the same team. Not that Kiba really cared, but poor Hinata would probably drop dead of sheer embarrassment and that would totally ruin the moment.

So here he was, on the third afternoon after Hinata's birthday, standing in front of his dresser and trying to goad himself into taking out the present. It was the prefect time to give it; Hinata would be down at training ground twelve, working herself into exhaustion. He could bring her something nice to drink and they could sit together on the grass, watching the sunset. He would give her the necklace just as the first stars came out and she'd look up at him with her big beautiful eyes and throw herself at him and then they'd...

Akamaru barked in annoyance. Kiba came back to himself with a start and quickly wiped his mouth off. "All right, all right, we'll go!"

He yanked open the drawer with more force than necessary, making stuff scatter across the top. The box looked small and meaningless tucked between his boxer shorts.

"I'm going to do this," Kiba said out loud, shoving Hinata's gift into his coat pocket, "This'll be easy, right Akamaru? No sweat at all."

Akamaru panted encouragingly, taking a practiced leap at Kiba's chest. The boy caught him with equal ease, arm cradling the warm little body as Akamaru licked his chin and huffed.

Kiba grinned rakishly. "Yeah, yeah, I know. Come on, let's go!"

*******

"Hah! Hah!"

Sweat flew as Hinata spun, bringing the top of her foot hard against the wooden post. She recovered quickly, pulling her body back into guard position and then springing into another kick almost before her foot touched the ground. One kick flowed seamlessly into another and another, each slightly faster than the previous, even though she was obviously tiring.

Kiba paused in his approach and smiled in pride-tinged admiration. Her attacks had nowhere near the strength that his own did, but with the Hyuuga family fighting style that kind of strength wasn't necessary. Speed was more important and Hinata's had been improving noticeably these past weeks. It pleased him to see her doing so well.

Taking a breath and wiping his hands off on his pants, Kiba stepped out from the trees and onto the brown, beaten down grass of the training area. He didn't get more than a few feet before there was a sudden break in her rhythm; her leg losing its lift on the recoil and forcing her to bring her foot down in front of her body to regain her balance. He could clearly see her shoulders hunching under her shirt as she returned to guard.

Kiba's slight smile turned wry. Well, apparently she'd spotted them.

After a moment's hesitation---indecisiveness, he suspected----she relaxed her position and turned to greet them.

"Kiba-kun," she said quietly. The warm gold of the afternoon sun slanted across her face, glowing on the soft line of her cheek and jaw as her lips turned up into her familiar, shy smile.

Kiba swallowed twice before he could make his throat work again. "Hey, Hinata. How you been?"

"I'm all---all right," she said, fiddling with the string on her jacket and looking confused, "Uh, were you---were you coming here to train?"

He resisted the sudden urge to say 'yes!' and then go bash his fists against one of the poles until the butterflies taking over his stomach went away. "No, I just, uh, came to say hi." Arrgh! No, you coward! "You looked really good there! Your speed, I mean...it's really improving."

Hinata started slightly and looked down at the ground, hair not quite long enough to hide the blush darkening her cheek. "Oh...thank you, Kiba-kun. But---but I messed up and I wasn't quite fast en---"

"Stop that!" Kiba yelled without thinking. She jumped, hands lifting protectively to her chest. "You were doing just fine and don't stand there and say that you weren't! Jeez," he continued, gentling his tone when he realized she was practically cowering in front of him, "Just take the compliment, okay?"

"Ah, y-yes, I will," Hinata said a little shakily. Then she smiled----a warm, bright, genuinely happy smile that alternately took his breath and left him completely baffled. He had just yelled at her and she was *happy* about it?

"Okay then," he said, trying to sound firm about it but ruining the effect by blushing.

Hinata pressed her fingers against her mouth, one of her nervous fidgets he thought, but this time it seemed more like she was holding something back in. For some reason, that made Kiba feel even more uncomfortable and he looked away from her, rubbing at the back of his head.

Silence stretched between them. It was in Hinata's nature to be quite and normally Kiba didn't mind, easily filling that empty space with his own loudness. But right he couldn't seem to force out the words. Hinata seemed to feel the difference too, her fingers pressing and moving against each other in increasing agitation.

Imagining he could feel the weight of the necklace getting heavier every second he shoved his hand into his pocket, coiling his fingers around the hard shape of it. His mind was a humming blank; the entire planned speech had gone flying right out. Akamaru was making exasperated little noises into his chest and there was bag of drinks and snacks going to waste behind a tree and any minute now he was going to burst into flames, or Hinata was going to curl into herself and vanish if he didn't DO something----

"Ah, Kiba-ku---" Hinata began.

"Here!" Kiba said forcefully, yanking his hand out of his pocket and thrusting the gift box right into her face. She jerked back in shock at the perceived attack.

They both froze that way. Kiba holding his burdened hand out; Hinata staring at it as if surprised that it hadn't been a punch. And maybe she was at that. Hinata always acted as if waiting for the next blow, whether from friend or enemy didn't matter. It hurt Kiba to think about. It hurt less to think about being the one to change that forever.

A few quick blinks, like she didn't believe her eyes, and then Hinata blushed again. "For---for me?" she asked uncertainly.

He nodded once, sharply, not trusting himself to say anything that wouldn't make him look like even more of an idiot.

"Oh, you---you didn't have too," she said desperately, her expression so earnest you would have thought she was begging him not to jump off a cliff, "There---there's no need for you to go out of your---your way for me, Kiba-kun."

"'S'okay," he mumbled, tightening the muscles in his arm to keep them from trembling. Oh please, Hinata, please just take the present. If you reject it now I'm going to have crawl under my bed and never come out again, and that would just suck. "For your birthday. Sorry I didn't give it to you sooner."

Hinata, if possible, looked even more terrified. "But---but you signed that nice card," she said imploringly, "And wished me well----that was more than enough----"

"No it wasn't!" he snapped, closing his eyes so he didn't have to see her face, "Even this isn't enough. You deserve more than…more than that. You deserve..." He swallowed thickly, feeling his ears burning, but making himself finish, "You deserve everything, Hinata."

A soft gasp, audible only to his sharp hearing and then nothing. No walking away, but no moving forward either, no sounds of rejection or acceptance. He tightened his fingers around the box, feeling the cardboard give slightly.

"But this is all I have to give you right now," he said, "So, I want you to have it, for your birthday. Please."

Calm down, he thought. Open your eyes; take it like a man. Remember, this is Hinata; at least she'll be nice about it.

Kiba felt the urge to smirk despite the roiling nervousness in his gut. That last thought wasn't very comforting. He opened his eyes.

And---

Oh, wow. He hadn't known that a facial expression could make his heart stop.

...did her eyes always have that light in them?

"I'd--I'd love to have it, Kiba-kun," Hinata said, still smiling in that wonderful, new way that made the rest of the world fade away into unimportance. She reached out and closed her warm fingers around his hand. A swell of heat rose up from his stomach to his chest at the contact and it took an effort of will for him to release the box into her hold.

There was no ribbon or wrapping around it; she removed the lid and pulled aside the cotton batting, revealing the glitter of gold and clear crystal.

"Oh," she breathed, "It's so beautiful. I love it, Kiba-kun. I'll---I'll put it on right now." She removed the necklace from the box and began fiddling with the clasp.

Kiba smiled in relief and delight at her pleasure. She liked it! She liked it!

Score!

Biting his tongue to hold back the yell of joy that wanted to come out, Kiba fished the gleefully wiggling Akamaru out of his jacket. The puppy looked up at his master and barked once, smugly.

"Shut up," Kiba ordered good-naturedly and watched as Hinata got the necklace secured around her neck. With her jacket zipped up it would be hidden, but right now it rested visibly against her collarbone, casting a small rainbow on her pale skin. "Nice," he said quietly to himself.

"Ah, it fits," she said, delighted. Then she realized he was still looking at her and blushed, titling her head down to hide from him.

Feeling massively better about himself and the world in general, Kiba grinned. She was cute, he thought, when she looked like that. But she's way cuter when she smiles.

"Hey, you hungry? Thirsty?" he asked cheerfully, letting Akamaru jump free to the ground, "I brought some stuff if you are. It's back over here. Come on, lets eat and then we can train together."

"...all right," she said, falling in beside him as he lead her into the trees. Her hand swayed out and she coiled two of her fingers around his. "Thank you."

He smiled and squeezed her hand.

"Happy birthday."

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//end.file