Note: written for dear Adrien, who wanted some KibaHina for his birthday. Reviews would be lovely, as always!
"You've changed, Hinata," Shino said nonchalantly, when she met with him on their old training ground. "It's good to see you again."
Hinata made a soft, embarrassed sound in her throat, tugging at her long hair. "It's…nice to see you as well, Shino-kun…I wish we hadn't waited so long to meet again."
The stoic Aburame nodded, then turned his head to look off into the distance behind her.
"Oi! Shinooooo!" Kiba's bellowing could be heard a mile off. "You better have gotten stronger, bug boy!"
Shino's brow twitched behind his opaque shades, nose burrowing deeper into his enormous coat.
"Kiba-kun hasn't changed, has he?" Hinata ventured with a slight smile.
"He has. He's gotten even louder," Shino said bluntly, nodding in acknowledgement when the Inuzuka came jogging over, with a pony-sized Akamaru bounding after him.
"Shino, what the hell happened to you?" Kiba asked in surprise, looking at his cloth-swathed friend up and down. "What's with the hood? Oh, hey, the new shades look better than the old ones. You looked like a blind fart in those old things…"
Shino's brow furrowed further.
"Hinata is here too, if you didn't notice."
"Oh!" Kiba flushed, putting a hand to the back of his head as he turned to face the blushing Hyuuga.
"Hinata, you—" he stopped abruptly in mid-sentence, smile freezing on his face as he took in her appearance.
Shino stood between the two, suppressing a sigh as Kiba continued to stare at her in dumb silence, and Hinata turned various shades of red on the spot, pulling nervously on the hem of her shirt.
"It's…nice to see you again, Kiba-kun," Hinata finally said, breaking the silence and smiling awkwardly.
Kiba blinked, then lowered his eyes as he turned his head away.
"Yeah, ditto. You look…different."
Despite feeling severely self-conscious, Hinata still managed to be surprised by his detached greeting. Almost immediately, she wondered if she had done something wrong, totally oblivious to the helpless look Shino was giving her.
You're an idiot.
"Let's go. Kurenai-sensei is waiting for us. Hinata?"
"H-Hai, I'm coming."
She blinked when Kiba walked briskly past her, jumping on Akamaru's back and taking off behind Shino without a backwards glance.
Kiba-kun…she thought inwardly, following a close distance behind. Did I do something wrong?
She never received an answer, because he didn't even look at her the rest of the day. When Kurenai decided to start their day with a traditional student VS teacher exercise and put them together, Kiba abruptly cut her off, insisting he was fine with just Akamaru.
When Shino suggested he test some of his new techniques on Hinata's, he muttered something about having to go to the bathroom and disappeared for two hours.
And when he returned, Hinata shrank into a ball of self-doubt when he turned his back to her.
By the end of the day, Shino felt extremely tempted to punch his friend in the face.
But the sight of a downcast Hinata lagging behind the group as they headed home made the anger ebb away, replacing it with extreme irritation. They paused at the end of the street before parting ways, and Shino calmly walked up to his friend, stopping only when his shades were three inches from Kiba's surprised face.
"Inuzuka Kiba," he said, quietly enough so Hinata wouldn't hear, his voice still as deep and nonchalant as ever. "You are an idiot."
Kiba narrowed his eyes, opening his mouth to retort, but Shino continued, cutting him off.
"Yes, you are an idiot. You do foolish things. That is an unchangeable fact. But if go home today without saying anything to Hinata..." he paused, raising his head to look at the dejected girl behind him.
"…I would think of you as heartless."
Kiba pursed his lips, opened them to say something, then cast his annoyed gaze to the ground, cheeks tinged pink.
"Shino, you don't understand"—
The Aburame didn't bother sticking around to hear the rest. Raising a hand, he bid Hinata a silent goodbye and walked away, leaving Kiba mouthing wordlessly like a fish out of water.
Kiba put his hand to his head in dismay as an uncomfortable silence reigned for a full thirty seconds, and Akamaru offered no help by wandering off to find a fire hydrant.
He turned his body slightly, looking at her from the corner of his eye.
"Did I…do something?"
He had to strain to hear her voice, and groaned mentally when he saw that she had bowed her head, her hair curtaining her off from his gaze.
Why, God, why? If I'd known it would end up like this, I would've rather been born into Shino's freaky family…
"No," he finally sighed, scratching at his cheek to hide his infuriating blush. "You…didn't do anything, Hinata."
At least not directly.
"Then…" she fidgeted, raising her head slightly, the look on her face making his stomach wring painfully. "Why…?"
"Hinata," he started, eyes wide and face flaming. "You've changed, and I just…well, I can, er…"
If she was self-conscious before about her looks, she now looked about ready to go live under a rock.
"No! It's not your looks or anything!" he blurted, waving his hands erratically. "I like how you look!"
She went beyond blushing, looking as though she were on the verge of having a brain hemorrhage, and Kiba wanted nothing more than to kill himself on the spot.
"I mean—ah…I…Hinata…" he buried his face in his hands, and Hinata took a step forward in concern.
"Don't come closer!" he all but yelled, stumbling backwards and looking panicked.
Hinata leapt back as if burnt.
"I…can smell you."
Hinata blinked. She blinked once more, then again for good measure.
"You can…smell me?"
Kiba sank down onto his haunches, refusing to look at her as his face glowed red and praying she understood what he was talking about.
"I smell bad, Kiba-kun?" she sounded horrified.
"Ack, no! It's not you, it's…" he buried his face in his arms, his voice coming out muffled.
"You're on it, aren't you?" he sounded physically pained.
Kiba counted to ten, inhaled and exhaled, then squeezed his eyes shut.
There was a moment of unbearable, all-encompassing silence, and Kiba managed to convince himself that he would have gladly given his body to serve as a colony for bugs, if only to forgo this traumatizing experience.
"M-My…" Hinata's voice sounded faint with horror. "How…"
"I didn't want to ignore you on purpose," he blurted, looking desperate. "It's just, I can't stand being around girls when—you know! It makes me nauseous!"
Hinata didn't look any less traumatized.
"I'm sorry," he rambled, getting to his feet and taking a hesitant step forward. "I didn't wanna tell you, either, but Shino—I mean, it's gross…but I'm not saying you're gross! I was really happy to see you"— he went off on another tangent, sounding earnestly sincere.
"But I couldn't…"
Hinata managed to raise her eyes, looking lost as he bowed his head again, face just as red as hers.
"I'm sorry, I really…"
"No, Kiba-kun," she said softly, raising a hand to mask her mouth as she looked at him. "I…understand. I'm just happy…you weren't mad at me."
His shoulders sagged in relief, eyes softening.
"Why would I be mad? I really am an idiot, if I made you think that."
She merely smiled, albeit shyly, the corners of her eyes crinkling slightly.
"Well, ah…" he looked around, scratching his head just because he could. "Want me to walk you home or something?"
"No, thank you, Kiba-kun," she said, slightly surprised at the offer. "I'll…see you next week."
He grinned in return, and she found herself smiling back, finding the familiar feral grin to be just as she remembered it three years ago.
"Listen, sorry again for embarrassing you like that," he said sheepishly, looking uncomfortably at the setting sun. "I"—
"I understand," she said, walking past him and pausing at the foot of the path. "It's okay, Kiba-kun, I do understand, because I…"
She looked at him sideways, a faint smile appearing on her face despite the blush.
"…can see you."
Kiba said nothing, and only waved dumbly in return when she bid him goodbye and disappeared from sight over the horizon. Akamaru returned a few seconds later, looking up at his master when he didn't move or acknowledge his return.
I can see you? What the hell is she—
He stopped thinking, suddenly, eyes growing to the size of saucers when realization hit him.
When they met again next week, Shino was not too surprised to see Hinata and Kiba blushing blood red around each other, stumbling over each other's sentences and avoiding eye contact.
Shino sighed, adjusting his shades and burrowing himself deeper into his coat.
Kiba, you really are an idiot.