Wait For Me
By K. M. Washatka

Kiba was extremely late coming back from Shino's place. They had spent the evening studying together, and drinking a little, it was true. He had planned to stay there until about ten, but it was almost midnight as Kiba hurried along the quiet Konoha streets.

Mother will kill me. He thought with a gulp.

To make matters worse, it started to rain. Kiba swore loudly and broke into a run, pulling up his hood around Akamaru to try to keep his furry companion dry. It was still quite a ways to his house, and all in this damned freezing rain. Just his luck.

It slowly gained force; eventually reaching the point where it seemed he was being pummeled by several fire hoses at once. Cursing violently every other step, Kiba made his way, every second that went by one more reproachful word from his mother.

"Kiba?"

He skidded to a halt in the mud and squinted through the rain to see who had called. He saw a rectangle of light from a doorway, but besides that could not make out who it was through the thick sheet of rain.

"Kiba! Get in here!"

Sounds like Kurenai-sensei…he thought, and then remembered that this was indeed area she lived in.

He hurried over to her, stepping inside Kurenai's doorway and instantly soaking her welcome mat. Akamaru jumped off his shoulder and shook himself ferociously, splattering the walls and a good deal of Kurenai's robe.

"Akamaru!" Kiba scolded.

Kurenai just laughed. "It's all right. But what were you doing out so late Kiba?"

Kiba took off his soaking coat and Kurenai took it from him as he slipped out of his shoes. "I got caught up studying with Shino…"

"I see, well, you can't go home in this rain. You can spend the night here."

Kiba blushed furiously and muttered his thanks, following her as she headed into the kitchen, dropping his coat in a laundry basket as she passed it.

"Do you want some tea?" She asked, pouring some water into a kettle for herself.

Kiba nodded. "Yeah, thanks."

Kurenai put the kettle on the stove and turned on the burner. "I'm going to go call your mother." She nodded towards the kettle. "Turn that off when it whistles."

Kiba nodded again and then Kurenai left the room. His pants were still dripping slightly, and Akamaru lapped at the water pooling on the floor. Kiba sat fidgeting on Kurenai's kitchen chair, feeling odd inside his sensei's house, worried that if he made one move he would break something or mess something up to get himself in trouble. The kettle whistled and he turned it off, wondering what was taking Kurenai so long to talk to his mother… Only a few moments later Kurenai came back in and tossed him a t-shirt and some shorts.

"Change into those." Kurenai said. "Sorry you have to wear girl's clothes, they're the best I have."

"S'okay." Kiba said and shuffled out of the kitchen.

"My room's up the stairs to the left get changed in there." Kurenai called after him.

"Thanks."

Kiba got into Kurenai's room and hastily slipped out of his wet clothes, dropping them in the hamper by the door. After getting into Kurenai's clothes he looked around the room. It was sparsely decorated, but nice, a dresser and mirror on one end, her bed on the other, with a few pictures of family and friends on the walls. He glanced briefly at one of the pictures, a shot of her and Asuma-sensei standing together, his arm around her companionably and she was holding…a rose? Kiba looked a little closer at the picture and noticed both she and Asuma were wearing something he had never seen them wear before…wedding rings. Kiba's jaw dropped for a second and then he decided to head back downstairs; lest he find out she had married Kakashi too.

When he got back in the kitchen Kurenai had tea waiting for him on the table. He sat down and sipped it slowly, his mind still on the picture in Kurenai's room.

"Hey, sensei…" He said slowly.

"Yes?"

"Were you and Asuma-sensei ever…?"

Kurenai sighed, and despite the seeming randomness of the question, merely answered him without prodding his motives. "We got married once, for about a year or so. I wanted to wait to get married but…he's never had much patience. It just didn't work out."

"Oh."

Smart, Kiba. Could you have made it any more awkward?

Akamaru yawned and curled up by the stove, the only real movement for a few odd seconds before Kurenai spoke again.

"Well, your mother said she was fine with you staying. Drink up your tea and we should get to bed. I don't have a guest room, so I guess you can have mine…"

"What about you?"

She shrugged. "I have a couch."

"No, I don't want to kick you out of your room. I'll sleep on your couch."

"You're my guest Kiba, I won't hear of it."

"Kurenai-sensei…"

"Drop it Kiba, you're staying in my room."

Kiba sighed and scowled as he sipped some more of his tea, A sensei was a sensei, she commanded even with the most menial of things. Kurenai drank the last of her tea and put her and Kiba's cups in the sink.

"Come on, Kiba. Let's go." She said.

Kiba followed her upstairs, scooping up Akamaru to bring him with him, and into her room, where she pulled an extra comforter onto the bed and turned down the sheets. The storm was still raging out side, battering the walls and lighting the room briefly as lightning split across the sky.

Kiba walked over to the bed, glancing at the other pictures on the wall and smiling as he noticed one of Kurenai and her three students, and slid under the covers, Akamaru curling up on the pillow beside him.

"Is that good?" Kurenai asked. "Anything else I can get you?"

Kiba shook his head and smiled as Kurenai ran her fingers quickly through his hair.

"Well then, sleep tight, Kiba-kun."

Kurenai started to walk away but met resistance as Kiba grabbed the hem of her shirt. She looked back at him quizzically and noticed a slight reddening on his ears.

"Uh, would you mind staying?" He said. "Just until I get to sleep?"

What are you doing Kiba? He scolded himself. You're either going to come off as a baby or some filthy pervert kid…

Thankfully, Kurenai only nodded slowly and sat down on the edge of the bed. "So long as you fall asleep quickly."

Kiba smiled in relief and closed his eyes as Kurenai swung her legs on to the bed as well, leaning against the headrest. Her fingers absently twirled through his short brown hair and he snuggled against her side a little, breathing in her scent. It was a nice smell, earthy and solid, something to rely on…he wrapped his arm around her waist and cuddled closer. There had always been…something there whenever he was with Kurenai. Something he couldn't explain, but that had often made him do random and almost crazy things such as his latest actions.

After a while of drifting in and out of sleep he opened his eyes again and looked up at Kurenai and saw that she had fallen asleep already. Chewing the inside of his lips nervously, he slid up the bed so he was even with her, looking at her face cautiously. He realized only then that it was the first time he had seen her without makeup on—she wasn't half bad.

Not bad at all, really…

Next thing he knew, he was leaning forward and kissing her mouth gently. She tasted as great as she smelled… He jumped back when she stirred, biting his lip hard as if to hide what he had done if she woke up, but instead she just nestled down further along the bed so she was actually lying down.

"…Asuma…" She muttered as she curled onto her side.

Kiba frowned as he watched her, feeling rather rejected as he thought about if she would ever say his name in her sleep, if she would ever even imagine they might make a good pair…while he would think about her all the time, like he had been doing for the past few years.

"Kiba?"

He gave a small jump as he noticed Kurenai's eyes were open again, looking up at him curiously. With a small yawn she sat up again, once more face to face with Kiba.

"You aren't asleep yet?" She said.

Kiba shook his head. "I can't."

"Why not?"

Kiba shrugged. "Just can't."

Kurenai laughed softly. "You're a silly kid. But I've got to sleep Kiba. May I leave?"

Kiba nodded slowly and she got up, heading towards the door as a very quiet roll of thunder sounded. The storm was almost over.

"Sensei." Kiba said just as she reached the door.

Kurenai looked over her shoulder at him. "Yes, Kiba?"

"Do you still love Asuma-sensei?" he asked, cursing himself for it afterward.

Kurenai walked back over to him slowly. "A little. Why do you ask?"

"It's nothing. Sorry."

Kurenai looked at him for a few second long before starting to go again. He couldn't take it, he didn't want her to leave, he wanted to tell her…

"Sensei."

She looked back at him yet again; her lovely red-brown eyes making his throat go dry as he whispered out the words.

"I love you."

She stared at him for a long few second, her face a perfect picture of shock as she took a few steps forward and sunk slowly to the bed her hand going to her forehead as if to stop a headache.

"What did you say, Kiba?" She said quietly.

Feeling as though his whole body had turned into solid wood, and his stomach were full of fighting grasshoppers he said the words again.

"I love you sensei."

Kurenai closed her eyes, muttering 'oh my god' as she fell back against the headboard for support.

Kiba hung his head and moaned quietly, cursing at himself repeatedly for ever saying anything. Why had he been such a fool?

"Kiba," Kurenai said.

He looked up slowly, afraid of what she would say. He met her gaze evenly, somehow and felt as if he had been punched hard in the stomach after seeing the way she looked at him. It seemed almost as if she…but no…she couldn't…

"I love you too."

She did.

Kiba's mouth fell open as Kurenai pulled him into a tight hug, kissing the top of his head as she did. Hesitantly he put his arms around her waist, hugging her back, hardly able to believe this was happening, expecting himself to wake up and find out he had passed out at Shino's house. But then she tilted his head up, and with the way she kissed him, the way it tasted and the way it made him feel, he knew perfectly well he was awake. When Kurenai pulled back Kiba was nothing but a poor mess of surprise and confusion and overall happiness.

"Kiba, how old are you?" Kurenai asked as he leaned against her shoulder.

"Fifteen." He muttered into her hair.

Kurenai moaned and leaned her head back, closing her eyes and sighing deeply.

"Are you all right?" Kiba asked.

Kurenai looked back down at him. "Kiba, you're too young. I'm almost twice your age."

Kiba played with the collar of Kurenai's shirt nervously. "What are you saying?"

Kurenai cupped his chin in her fingers and made him look up at her. "I can't do this. We can't have a relationship Kiba."

Feeling tears welling behind his eyes Kiba turned his face away again. "Because I'm too young?" He asked bitterly.

Kurenai's hair rustled past his face as she nodded.

"Then, will you wait for me?" He asked softly.

Kurenai's hands massaged Kiba's neck gently. "What do you mean?"

"Will you wait until I'm older?"

"Kiba…I don't know. By then you'll have changed so much, I don't want to tie you down by thinking I'm waiting for you.'

"It won't weigh me down. I'll always love you Kurenai-sensei."

Kurenai didn't answer. Instead she unwound Kiba from her arms and stood up, sighing slightly as she did. She and Kiba looked at each other for a moment before she turned away.

"I'm going to bed. I'll see you in the morning." She said, and left.

Kiba fell into his pillows and snuggled into them as deeply as he could, Akamaru waking briefly and coming a little closer to Kiba, his small body's warmth ignored in favor of the memory of Kurenai's.

She lay awake on the couch all night, thinking about Kiba's request. He was too young…he could never stay in love with her that long, even Asuma couldn't. She sighed and turned onto her side, folding her arms in a self-hug. She had felt lonely ever since the divorce. She didn't regret it, things could never have worked out, but still she was longing for another human's touch at night, for someone to care for her the same way Asuma had during those two years before and during the marriage. But Kiba…could she really steal the opportunity for romances with girls his own age away from him? He said he would never love anyone else…but he was young, he would change his mind. But would she? She really loved him; she had for a while, would she be able to forget him? Could she be selfish enough to keep him for herself and not let anyone else have a chance with him? Did he really love her that much? She moaned and looked out the window. The sun was rising. She may as well get up. She reluctantly rose off the couch and headed into the kitchen to make some tea.

That morning Kiba awoke late, and found his clothes washed and waiting for him at the foot of his bed. He slid out of bed and into his clothes slowly, as the memory of the night before solidified more deeply in his head. He sighed and headed downstairs, his feet dragging slightly, Akamaru whimpering as he followed his depressed master. He found Kurenai in the kitchen, along with a plate of food waiting on the table for him.

"Eat." Kurenai said, gesturing at the plate.

Kiba nodded and muttered his thanks as he shuffled over to the table. He sat down and ate slowly, glancing at Kurenai occasionally, but she was never looking in his direction. He fed Akamaru a few scraps of his plate, the pup barking happily as he chewed the eggs, tasting it far better than Kiba did, as he chomped away miserably. Once he had finished the meal Kurenai cleared his plate without a word, only speaking once she had washed it and put it away.

"You should head home soon, Kiba, your mother's waiting…" She said, not looking at him.

"Yeah." He said quietly.

Kiba gathered up his bag by the door, and slowly put his shoes on, mind still only half-focused, playing over and over again what had happened the night before. He didn't even notice Kurenai saying his name until she said it three times and then he turned around to meet her lips on his cheek. He blinked in surprise and looked up at her, her chest swelling at the smile she gave him.

"I'll wait for you Kiba." She said softly.

Kiba stared at her in shock for a moment and then jumped into her arms, hugging her close, and laughing happily, as Akamaru started turning happy circles and yipping energetically.

"I promise I won't ever love anyone else!" He said. "So long as you're waiting for me, I will be too. And when I'm old enough I'm going to marry you, Kurenai-sensei!"

She could only smile and hug him back, small tears forming under her eyes. So different from Asuma, who had rushed right into everything, this boy was willing to wait as long as it took. This boy was what she had really needed all along.

Kiba kissed her quickly before heading out the door, waving goodbye happily before dashing down the road. His mother would scold him when he returned, he would probably be punished, but he didn't mind. Nothing else mattered now, all that mattered was the passage of time until he could be with Kurenai for good, when he could honestly show her how much he cared. Unable to control himself, Kiba gave a cheer of glee, and then hurried all the faster as if his energy could make the time between him and Kurenai pass sooner. But until it had passed, he would live his life as well as he could; become a good man for Kurenai, as she waited for him all the while.