" The memorial service will be held next tuesday.", read the daily newspaper in reference to a Kanoha ninja who had lost his life on a mission. Shino had heard of the ninja before, although he wasn't familiar with him personally. He was said to have been quick to act without thinking, and prone to unneccisary aggression, but was also a very skilled, dedicated and friendly. Shino was sure there would be a lot of crying at the man's funeral. It was very common, however, for ninjas of that personality type to die out on missions as opposed to sickness or old age. This was because people like that were usually very willing to die if it saved the life of another person. Shino knew a person like that. Inuzuka Kiba. Kiba was loud, pushy, short-tempered, often leaped before he looked, and could become very violent, very quickly. At the same time, though, he was friendly, charismatic, very loyal ( perhaps because of his family's affiliation with dogs, Shino mused), and if you caught him at the right moment, much more intelligent than most people would give him credit for. Kiba would gladly lay his life down if it meant saving a friend, or even someone he didn't really know. He was just that kind of person. Which, although he wouldn't admit it out loud, worried Shino a lot.

Shino didn't like it when Kiba was assigned missions without him. He was afraid his friend would get himself killed on behalf of someone else. At least if Shino was there, he could look out for Kiba and help him (or hold him back, if the situation was hopeless) when someone got in trouble and he jumped to try and help. Shino wasn't sure too many other people would think to watch Kiba like that. Or if they were capable of watching Kiba and carrying out a mission at the same time without getting themselves killed. Not everyone could multitask like that. And it was also possible that the other ninja would be too busy concentrating on keeping themselves alive and getting the mission completed to worry about the other people on assignment with them. Either way, Shino didn't like not being there to help.

Kiba was on a mission now, in fact. He had been gone for several days already. It was a find and retrieve mission (or maybe 'fetch' was more appropriate), to which Akamaru's nose would be very helpful. It wasn't a particularly dangerous mission to Shino's knowledge. It wasn't terribly high-ranking or anything. The fact that it was taking so long had Shino somewhat concerned something had happened. After all, it may not seem to be too dangerous, but one never knows. Clients have faked out the village before, and ended up with a D-rank mission that -should- have been an A-rank. Even if Kiba's mission was properly ranked, there was still a chance Kiba would end up in a situation where he'd get seriously injured or worse. So, even though there wasn't to much reason for it, Shino worried for his teammate. More than he wanted to allow himself to.

It had been nearly two months now since Kiba had made a confession to Shino. Well.. more like a statement. Shino and Kiba were just sitting in a field and enjoying eachother's company after training while Akamaru terrorized small woodland creatures. Completely out of the blue, Kiba told Shino he loved him. No nervousness or strange behavior, or working up the courage. He just let the words fall out of his mouth like he were sharing a simple fact. Our last mission went well, Naruto has a big mouth, the weather is nice today, I love you. Kiba wasn't at all scared to share the information, because he trusted his teammate, and knew he wasn't the type of person to turn around and punch him in the face for making a love declaration. It caught Shino off gaurd, and even though you wouldn't be abel to tell by looking at him, he was pretty shocked. He didn't really see himself as someone Kiba would be interested in romantically. He always took the Inuzuka as someone who'd go for a slut-ish party animal type of person. Learn something new every day, huh? After the initial shock wore off, though, Shino was pleased. He had admitted to himself that he loved the crazy dog boy a while ago. Shino had decided at the same time as admitting this to himself, however, that it would be a dangerous distraction during missions should the two get involved. So, Shino thought for a moment as to exactly how he should respond, and concluded to tell his friend the simple truth, excluding the part about the feeling being mutual. Shino knew that Kiba wouldn't take no for an answer if he knew he felt the same. And Kiba wasn't happy with that answer. As soon as it came out of Shino's mouth, Kiba was pissed. Not at the rejection, but just at the fact that Shino didn't bother telling him what he thought about the matter. Kiba almost would have preferred Shino tell him he was useless and obnoxious and undeserving of affection than to have him not really react at all. In a rare act of self-restraint, Kiba forced himself to calm down. He knew Shino was right. His face drew into an expression of obvious disappointment (which, all though he couldn't say anything about it, made Shino feel a small tinge of guilt), and slowly nodded his agreement before flopping down on the grass and trying to regain his pleasant mood. They had been behaving normally with eachother since, as though it hadn't happened at all, after maybe two days of slight awkwardness.

Shino was starting to re-think this now, though, after being reminded that every day might be the last time he sees his friend. Risking your life was a regular part of being a ninja, after all. He was now realizing how much the idea of Kiba or himself dying without Kiba knowing that he loved him as well displeased him, and he frowned slightly to himself. He hadn't considered that two months ago. The prospect of keeping the secret seemed less and less logical by the minute now. Life was short, able to s,and most probably shorter for them because they are ninjas. They made a living out of thrusting themselves into dangerous situations. It was silly to make himself and his best friend/the object of his affection less happy while they were still in the realm of the living. Certainly there would be arguments, because the two boys were very different people, but the way Shino was now seeing it, chances are that they would argue just as much not being in a relationship as they would be in it. They had always done a perfectly fine job watching eachother's backs on their missions even while they were angry with eachother. It was decided then.

Kiba came home two days later, looking tired and somewhat scratched up, but in otherwise good condition. He went home and cleaned himself up, ate, and then left an exausted Akamaru napping to check up on his teammates.Hinata was pleased to see him back and well, but was busy and on her way to spar with Neji, so Kiba didn't keep her for more than a couple minutes before heading to Shino's. It was late in the afternoon, so Kiba guessed that his bug buddy would be basically unoccupied. He didn't even bother knocking on the door, and let himself in with a loud declaration of " Honey, I'm home!" simply because he knew Shino wouldn't be thrilled about it. He liked to mess with his friend sometimes. He found Shino sitting in the living room, reading a book on some sort of recently discovered insect. Kiba grinned and plopped down next to Shino, who instead of making a comment about how impolite it is to let oneself into someone elses house, asked how the mission had went. Kiba went into a long rant about some old lady who damn near got herself killed and gave the opposing ninjas, who were also after the object Kiba was sent to obtain, the opportunity to run. Which meant Kiba, being the stubborn teen he is, had to chase them down, and almost failed the mission. He and Akamaru pulled through for the client in the end, though. By the time he had finished his story, Kiba had gotten himself pretty riled up and angry about the stupid old hag who caused his mission to last three times longer than he had expected it too. Shino was amused at how easily the canine-lover got himself angry, and decided he needed some help calming down. He waited until Kiba had finished babbling, and firmly placed both of his hands on the other boy's shoulders, staring at him square in the eyes. Kiba blinked, confused. "... What? What did I do? ", he asked, assuming he had said something that Shino didn't like. Shino's reply was leaning in and giving the now very wide-eyed boy a soft kiss, lasting only a couple seconds, before pulling back so there was approximately an inch and a half between their lips. Actions had always worked better than words with Kiba, Shino knew, which was fine for a ninja of few words like himself. Kiba was completely shocked, and for once, at a total loss of words. All he could do was stare at the other boy, arguing with himself inside his head as to what had just happened. Shino could see Kiba wasn't sure if he was being delusional or not. To show him that he was not, in fact, dreaming, Shino pressed their lips together again, more firmly, and brought a hand up from Kiba's shoulder to gingerly rub the somewhat rough pad of his thumb over the Inuzuka's cheek.

Kiba's shock was now wearing off as his body responded naturally to this second kiss. He closed his eyes and lifted his hands to rest at the other boy's waist, returning the kiss and deepening it gradually. He ran his tongue teasingly over the bug boy's bottom lip, and was pleasantly surprised when Shino parted them somewhat with a small intake of air. He grinned to himself and bit down gently on the previously licked lip. Shino mentally cursed himself for letting his body's reflexes get the better of him. He really hadn't planned on giving Kiba more than a couple completely chaste little kisses, and it seemed as though the dog ninja was prepared to take things much further. He over estimated the time it would take for the other boy's instincts to kick in. Oh well. It's not as though he wouldn't be abel to stop Dogboy if he tried anything...uncalled for. He parted his lips farther and wrapped his arms around Kiba's waist, pulling him into a tighter embrace and unconsciously rubbing the small of his back while Kiba took the opportunity to slip his tongue into the other's mouth experimentally. Shino, Who had never had someone else's tongue even close to his mouth before now, furrowed his brow slightly at the strange sensation, trying to decide if it was oddly pleasant or just plain odd. He didn't have much time to think about it, though, before the foreign tongue was gone, as was the mouth it belonged to. He opened his eyes and blinked behind his sunglasses at Kiba, who was wearing an ear-to-ear smile. He was surprised the dog boy stopped without being prompted to do so. Still, Shino was glad he wouldn't have to request they stop and then resist the puppy eyes that would have undoubtably fallowed. He was somewhat disappointed that his teammate hadn't pushed a little more, though. Kiba's face took on a mischievous grin, and Shino briefly wondered if the dog ninja had taken up mind reading before he was tackled to the ground, and promptly had Kiba's sharp canine teeth buried in the flesh at the base of his neck. He gasped slightly and shoved the energetic teen off himself. " What was that for?" he questioned, rubbing the starting-to-bleed teethmarks and glaring. He suddenly felt sympathy for the people in vampire flicks. Kiba continued to grin, and if he had a tail it would be wagging like no tomorrow. " That means you belong to me now. I own you by dog standards! " Kiba tossed his head back and laughed triumphantly. Shino shook his head, debating for a moment if he would have been better off having not read the newspaper two mornings ago. "Aishiteru, Shino", the dog nin purred into the Aburame heir's ear and kissed his cheekbone softly.

Shino quickly dismissed the idea and made a mental note to generously tip the paperboy tomorrow.