He could hear her when she slipped back into her sleeping bag. This was the second night that Hinata had snuck out of the tent for a few hours, coming back damp and breathing hard. Shino knew that as long as Hinata wasn't too exhausted in the morning, Kiba wouldn't say anything. It was a given that he would say nothing either.

Shino knew that Hinata's resolve had toughened recently, and she'd intensified their training sessions to the point where Kiba was holding himself back from rushing to her side every time they threw her to the ground. But Kiba could understand her desire to be stronger, to not be useless. So they pummeled her poor, fragile body into the grass, and she got up and took some more.

Shino could hear Kiba shift over subtly, allowing Hinata space to flop down and get comfortable before he shifted closer to her, sharing body heat to warm her up and giving the comfort of closeness. Naruto's soft snuffling snores echoed in the quiet of the tent, almost relaxing, like the ticking of a clock. Shino didn't move, staring up at the canvas ceiling of the tent, feeling the edge of Hinata's sleeping bag brush against his. He didn't pull back from the contact.

When they'd first become a team, he couldn't understand Kiba's need to be loud, his unnecessary movement. Hinata's need to disappear into herself, to hide behind her stutter and her shy finger-poking. Shino understood quiet, he understood stillness, and he understood the need to be with others. His teammates, he didn't understand. And Akamaru was completely out of his league.

He'd never really interacted with a dog before, never having had circumstances that would've allowed contact. He knew things about dogs, like that their fur was soft, or when they growled you needed to back away quickly. But he never knew that they made so much noise, or that they smelled strangely when they got wet, or that they loved to chase bugs. He learned that on their first mission, when he'd sent his kikai bugs to lift some lumber for him while he held open the heavy door. It was… a learning experience for the entire team.

Now, after months of hard work and dull missions, a failed chuunin exam and a defection of the number one rookie of their year, here they were, trying to find the only insect in the world that would help them find Sasuke, and by default, Orochimaru. The legendary Bikoujou. Naruto had, of course, insisted that he be allowed to go with them, despite the fact that he had no skills useful for such a mission. Shino got the feeling that the Godaime Hokage had simply shoved Naruto off on a next-to-impossible mission just to get him out of her hair.

It was the second night they'd been traveling, and Shino knew that Naruto had left the tent about a half hour after Hinata had. Five minutes later, Naruto had come back with a thoughtful look on his face. Shino suspicions had subsided, and his desire to kill Naruto passed. Naruto had spent ten minutes staring at the ceiling, much like Shino, then had sprawled out half over Kiba, and had fallen asleep.

Shino had turned his head and met Kiba's eyes, and a silent conversation took place with slight facial movements. Shino finally convinced Kiba not to rip out Naruto's throat, and they both went back to a half-sleeping state. It was Shino's turn to keep watch, and when his kikai bugs came back reporting that Hinata had entered the perimeter, and was heading back to the tent, he was relieved that she was only tired, and not bleeding anywhere.

When their team had been formed, Shino hadn't understood his teammates. Now they could speak to each other without words, know what the others needed without having to ask, work together and move as a cohesive unit, as a team.

Shino shifted slightly, worming his way closer to Hinata's side. Her breathing was just starting to steady, and he knew that her eyes would be half open, and Kiba would be smirking a little. Naruto's snuffling snores kept the night from being oppressively silent, and Akamaru stretched and stood up. The small white dog walked over his and Hinata's sleeping bags, heading out to take his turn at watch, and to chase his bugs in the moonlight. Shino went to sleep.