Set In Stone

Rating: T / PG for now. M / R in later chapters, mostly for violence.
Warnings: Violence, possible angst, genfic (so rare and underappreciated), things seen from Kiba's POV which may annoy some people? Possible yaoi/yuri/het later on.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, or any of the places and characters mentioned in that series and this piece of fanfiction. No profit is being made, I write for free.

Notes: I've had the urge to write something longer for a while now; this is what I came up with. :D Kiba-centric future!fic -- may become AU as the Naruto series progresses, depending. All (and I mean any) feedback appreciated.

Start Me Up

Nose facing into the wind, Kiba padded along the short path away from home and towards the central streets of Konoha. Akamaru nestled invisibly in his jacket, stirring from time to time with the movement of his footsteps. The sky was blue, scuffed white here and there with wisps of cloud; the sun shone through, thinly since it hadn't long been dawn, but enough to make Kiba's skin prickle. It had all the signs of becoming a pleasant day.

Stepping automatically into a side street, Kiba came to the entrance of a familiar building and pushed the door open with one hand. He stepped into the hall, making his way to another door set at the back. Everything -- walls, floor, ceiling, windows -- was quiet, bland, completely devoid of any personal touch, even any sign of what the building could be. Every shinobi in Konoha, all her allies knew already; but there was no such thing as too careful in times of war.

Kiba held up his right hand, fingers curling in on themselves. He pressed his palm against a slightly darker patch of wall, inset just to the side of the door. He had no idea how old the security on this building was, the age-worn tang of tags and jutsus and anonymous chakra pressing in on every wall. Kiba saw it every time he was back in Konoha, but he never thought to ask; it hardly mattered as long as everything worked.

The door clicked open and he stepped through, into another, larger room. There were some shinobi here, most of them napping on worn out couches that sagged sadly towards the floor. The rest stood about, eyes flicking from face to face at careful intervals. One nodded to Kiba as he entered and he returned the gesture.

There it was -- Kiba headed for the coffee machine, yawning behind one hand as he went. He came to a standstill a few inches away and rummaged through one pocket, trying to find change: crumpled piece of paper, lint, jar of Hinata's ointment, plasters, balled up string… ah, coins. Kiba slotted some into the machine and let his finger hover over the choices. Black coffee, coffee with milk, with vanilla, without caffeine; various types of hot chocolate. Kiba pressed the button next to "black coffee". The machine whirred into life, motors spinning the plastic cup out from behind a plastic screen. He picked it up, careful not to burn his fingers, and ambled a few feet across to the nearest seat.

Kiba slumped back and the chair's joints creaked with worry. He folded his hands around the steaming cup, the smell lifting, warm and bitter. It tickled his nose pleasantly; Akamaru stirred again within his jacket.

It felt strange to be early signing in, Kiba mused. It had taken him months to get used to waking up on time, now that he lived alone, and people were always getting at him about it. "Kiba-kun," Hinata had said just last week, worried, pressing a small jar of ointment into his hands. "You'll get yourself into trouble."

Well, he was early this morning. Somebody else could get in shit for a change.

As he waited for the time to pass, Kiba began to wish that he had brought something to entertain himself with. A pack of cards, maybe, or a book -- nothing heavy, something fun to keep him occupied, pass the time. All he had with him was Akamaru and the contents of his pockets, and the little dog seemed to be sleeping. Kiba hit his foot against the floor, tap tap tap, his knee lifting and falling in no particular rhythm and disturbing the dog pressed against his chest.

Time seemed to be lagging. Kiba wondered how early he really was, or if everybody else was just late. It felt like ages since he'd slept, ages and ages; he stretched and leaned further back in the chair. Maybe he could just close his eyes for a minute or two. It wouldn't do any harm.

The coffee cooled slowly in his hands as Kiba slept.

"I take it you won't be drinking that."

Kiba didn't open his eyes when he woke: he didn't quite dare. Looking up would mean that he would have to move, and his neck was already protesting that. Deliberating, Kiba settled for lifting one hand to massage his neck, cracking open one bleary eye with a pained groan.

Kankuro stood over him, arms folded, face shadowed by the poor lighting of the room. "What a waste," he sad, dipping his head at the cup in Kiba's hands.

"I don't even like coffee," Kiba replied, frowning as he sat up. He felt the groan of tension in his neck as he slowly tried to rub it out.

Kankuro lifted one dark eyebrow at that. "Then why did you buy it?" he asked, then seemed to change his mind. He lifted one hand to stop any answer before it could start. "On second thoughts, I don't really care."

The other shinobi in the room had circulated, and the set of sleepers on the couches was new. Kiba stretched as much as he could without spilling his cold coffee, then stood up. He headed towards the bin, dropped the cup into it, and turned to face Kankuro again. "Has the Hokage been here? What's my mission?" he asked, feeling more awake already at the thought of getting a good look at the world outside. "Where's Hinata? Shino?"

Kankuro shook his head. "Not coming. You have a mission, but I'm to accompany you instead."

Kiba's mind buzzed with questions, but Kankuro had turned and gone before he could even begin asking. He followed, confused, sprinting to the door and roughly pushing it open, heading across the hall and making his way outside.

Standing by the entrance and waiting for him was Kankuro, dressed all in black and looking very much like a storm cloud waiting to hit. The full impact of his facepaint was lost in the dim grey light streaming from overhead; Kiba could see the texture of it when he moved, purple smudged carefully on paler skin.

"We're to go there," Kankuro said, anticipating Kiba's question before he could ask it. "Back to the Sand." He shot Kiba a meanful look, lips pressed into a line. "You'd know this if you hadn't slept through the Hokage's explanation. We'll catch up with Hyuuga Hanabi and her two subordinates, and assist them with their mission." He paused, face turning to the sky, eyebrows creasing together. "They've found difficulties."

That was why Hinata wasn't coming, then. It felt strange, not working with his team -- but Kiba had worked with Kankuro not long before, knew enough of his abilities. They were on civil terms.

Kankuro turned to look at him, the puppet on his back clacking eerily; Kiba shook off the feeling that he was being watched. "It rains too much here," he muttered, a distasteful look on his face.

"What?" Kiba looked up at the sky and felt a sudden weight slide into place in his stomach. It had grown overcast while he was inside, the underbellies of once-bright clouds smudged dark with an oncoming downpour. The first sloshes of rain splashed down while he watched, and settled into a steady rhythm on the Konoha roofs.

It had all the signs of becoming a thoroughly terrible day.