A girl looked on worriedly as her two teammates looked at each other measuringly.

"I told you that I'll save her!" yelled one male.

"She was going to fall already. Gravity won't wait for you," replied the other male calmly.

"But you weren't able to save her still!"

"Which is due to your dog that got in my way and tripped me."

"Don't blame my dog, damn it!"

"I blame you then."


"A-Anou…I-I'm fine…no broken bones."

Usually, training sessions between the three were generally peaceful, with one loudly yakking on, one silently going about his own affairs, and one trying to bridge some amount of friendship between the two. The two would usually respond to her pleadings, but she was unfortunate; today, their argument was about her.

"I-I better go back to the training posts…"

"No way will you train again! You need rest!"

"If you think you feel fine…"

Deathly silence, and the girl sweatdropped once more.

"She's hurt!"

"Staying in bed would just give her time to notice her pain."

"And if she trains, she won't notice that she's dead!"

"She's not dead."

"She isn't! Did I say anything about her being dead?"

"Yes, you did."

The girl got up, although her back was still hurting from her fall on the tree in an effort to avoid some kunais. "I-I'm fine…s-see?" But barely a minute had passed when her knees buckled.

"Damn!" The male and his dog rushed for her.

The other boy with dark shades muttered something, and then hurried towards her too.

And before the girl landed on the grassy field for another painful encounter with the ground, a pair of arms caught her.


"Heyeyeyey, guess who's here…" Inuzuka Kiba waved cheerfully at the silent man standing by the doorway, both hands buried in his pockets. Eleven years may have passed since they last saw each other, but he could still recognize the smell of the various species of bugs residing within Aburame Shino.

The same unfathomable dark shades shield his eyes from the harmful ultraviolet rays the sun gives off. His coat still covered a good half of his face, and his hair was still a mess of dark mane, although it had now enjoyed freedom from the Konoha forehead protector that used to hold it up in place back in their genin days. Where the hell did those eleven years go anyway?

His hand raised slightly to acknowledge him. Kiba slowly smiled. Maybe it wasn't so bad—time had softened him; he actually greeted him back, even in his own unvocal way. Years ago, they would always clash, especially on decisions involving missions. If not for Hyuuga Hinata's intervention every time, one of them would surely be in the hospital already.

The bug boy wanted strategies; he wanted action. Hinata wanted everyone to return safely from the mission. In the end, they would both obey Hinata.

Which was funny, since he considers himself as the leader, while the bug user is a loner who refuses to take orders. But when it comes to their shy, soft-spoken teammate, their pride loses its meaning.

"I was greeting Akamaru, but since you're here too, I might as well greet you too." Shino cocked his head sideways. "It's been a while, Kiba."

He smirked—indeed, eleven years was too short a period of time to forget the quirks of Team 8. Exchange of fondness disguised in acerbic remarks was one of them. "The sun's still shining too much, eh, Shino?"

"It never shined any brighter than the way it's doing today." His gaze went to the locked door at the end of the hallway where almost an hour ago, a young raven-haired woman went inside.

Kiba had to grin at that. "Yeah…radiant." He gestured to his can of beer. "Want some?"

Shino made a "Heh" sound. "That's a peasant's spirit. If you have some chilled red wine though…"

The Inuzuka ninja snickered. "Just because you suddenly became the fire country's hottest image model doesn't mean you can go act like a sassy primadonna on me, Bug Boy." He watched his former teammate sit down in front of him. "How did a freak like you get involved in a world of aesthetics? And why?"

"Because I'm a freak." The Aburame heir shrugged. "Everyone is secretly fascinated with freaks."

Kiba arched his brow. "Really?"

"Wipe that hopeful look on your face though. They don't want ugly freaks."

"Huh? Then why would they want freaks if they don't want them ugly?"

"X appeal."

Kiba groaned and chugged down on the can. "Heh. You've gotten more talkative than usual."

"Communication is an art learned in my job. The pay is too good."

"Never thought you were the money type of guy."

Shino shrugged. "I want to gather enough money for me to retire on as I travel the continent, training, as well as completing my bugs collection."

"You didn't bring it along, I hope."

"Hmp." Shino decided to touch the beer already. "I brought a minimal amount. My collection is housed in the mountains."

"That big already, huh?" Kiba aimed the can at the trash can and released it. The can thudded off the rim and dropped down the floor. Akamaru, now grown, jumped towards it dutifully and bit it. It took care of throwing it properly in the garbage bin. Kiba turned his attention to him once again. "Aren't you even going to ask what happened to me?"


Kiba grinned. "Well, I'll tell you anyway. I am now the leader of our clan, and through my initiative, our own canine friends guard the Godaime in her travels abroad!"

"Congratulations to your dogs then."

The Inuzuka male snorted. "Fine. Let's talk about Kurenai-sensei then."

"She married Asuma?" guessed Shino.

"Yep!" He smirked. "And since we're on the topic of weddings already, when are you planning to settle down?"

"I'm not interested, if you're proposing."

"For bloody Pete's sake, quit it with the annoying quips!" Kiba leaned back on his chair and sighed. "Besides, I'm not proposing to anyone else except…"

"Her," finished Shino, pushing the bridge of his shades up.


"You love her, don't you?" It was the Aburame male who spoke first.

Kiba smiled wanly. "Ever since. How could one not, ne, Bug Boy?"

The asked male coughed. "I guess."

The dog lover snickered. He didn't know it was this much fun ruffling the feathers of the untouchable bug freak. "Ah, must you deny me some honesty here, Bug Boy?" His hand reached for Akamaru's head and started to scratch its ear. "You were not immune to our little princess' charms too, admit it."

"I…do not hate her," he said slowly.

"Right," agreed Kiba, smirking. "Which is why you silently compete with me every time."

"I didn't know that." And he immediately received a glare from his dog-loving friend.

"And besides, you treat her differently. Kurenai-sensei and I could both see that."

"And where is this leading to, Kiba?" asked Shino, exasperated.

"I was just thinking…" mused the Inuzuka heir. "All this time that we were with her, how come we never told her how much she really means to us?"

"Will it change things?" asked the Aburame descendant back.

"I don't know. And that is one of my life's little regrets." Kiba smiled sadly. "Why didn't I try fighting for her? I know it would be a tall order, challenging the name of the boy she cherished since childhood, but at least I won't have to live in what-ifs."

"You were just gearing yourself for unnecessary pain. She loves him too much," said Shino quietly. "It would be a lost cause from the beginning."

"But still…" His words trailed off.

Only for him to speak once more after some moments of reflection.

"We still have different ways of dealing with the situation, ne?"

Shino smirked beneath his overcoat. "True."

"Do you remember our argument when Hinata fell from a very high tree—"

"It wasn't THAT high, Kiba."

"It is!"


"Anyway," continued the miffed dog shinobi, "we both rushed to save her, but because we were too busy competing with each other, we didn't get to save her. She fell down, and was nearly rendered immobile!"

"She wasn't, Kiba. She was even able to get up on her own."

"Hey, who's telling the story?"

Hyuuga Hinata got up, although her back was still hurting from her fall on the tree in an effort to avoid some kunais. "I-I'm fine…s-see?" But barely a minute had passed when her knees buckled.

"Damn!" Kiba and Akamaru rushed towards her.

Shino muttered something, and then hurried towards her too.

And before the girl landed on the grassy field for another painful encounter with the ground, a pair of arms caught her.

Uzumaki Naruto looked down at the blushing girl, half-smiling. "Hinata, a ninja just doesn't go back on her words. She also doesn't trip easily."

Both their faces darkened at the memory. Since then, the dense Uzumaki Naruto had started to take more notice of Hinata, and one thing led to another.

"You know, Shino, I was just thinking…"

"Stop thinking. You're not being productive anyway." The image model couldn't just tell outright that he was still hurting from that memory.

But Kiba ignored him. As always. "If we didn't get too competitive, then one of us could have saved her, and she wouldn't have the chance to get intimate with that Kyuubi guy."

Silence, and then Shino, now smiling thoughtfully, spoke. "Then she couldn't have been this happy."

Knocks on the door stopped their conversation.

Hinata's face peeked into the room. "Anou…" She blushed prettily. "I'm glad to see you two here!"

Shino's smile widened. "I wouldn't miss it for anything in the world."

"Even for a new species of bugs?" smirked Kiba.

She giggled softly, making both males pause. Her laughter could still command their souls so easily. Now if only she knew that, so she could have used it earlier to her advantage amidst the two's clashes in their ninja days.

The bride, all dressed in silk and lace of white, let herself into the room and sat down with them, eyes dancing.

Kiba couldn't help but agree with what Shino said. Yes, Naruto made her this happy. And it was enough to compensate for his broken heart that he didn't know when would heal, or if it would ever fall in love again.

Her gloved hands reached for the two's own, and then clasped them with hers. She smiled gratefully. "Both of you…I have so many things to thank you for. I owe you both so much…"

"I accept credit cards," said Shino.

Hinata laughed. "With your pay as an image model of branded clothes, you may be richer than me." Her eyes shook, and then suddenly, she threw herself on the arms of both men.

"Hinata!" the two exclaimed.

"I've…been longing to do this to you two ever since our genin days." She wiped a tear delicately. "Do you know that you guys are two of the most special men in my life?"

Kiba grinned, although his casual smile was just a cover for the overwhelming feeling within him. In her own way, she acknowledged him.

Perhaps, this wasn't as bad as he thought.

Shino, on the other hand, smiled too, wondering whether she loved him first or Kiba. He fought the urge to laugh out loud—maybe Kiba was right when he was getting competitive too.

After a while, she pulled back, still drying her tears. But her smile was still as precious as it had always been.

"It's time," she announced.

The two Best Men of the wedding looked at each other, and then smiled inwardly. Kiba took her left hand, and Shino took the other one.

As the three walked down the aisle, the village of Konoha, Kurenai-sensei, and everyone else who knew Team 8 back then had to be amazed by how these three unlikely, completely poles apart children had come together to form their own special bond that eleven years of separation couldn't destroy.

It looked perfect, even with two men handing over the bride to the cheerful blond groom, and later on, two men looking at each other competitively as they both raced for the garter to be thrown in that certain wedding.

the end

There was a Girl, There Were Two Boys

For Takari-san who requested HoroTamao eons ago, but I had not finished yet, so I made a quick KibaHina-hinted oneshot to make up for it. And oh yeah, an excuse to write ShinoHina wakekekeke.