Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to Naruto or anything pertaining to the manga or anime. The characters, places, etc… are not mine, nor do I lay any claim on them. This is not an attempt to infringe on any rights or copyrights, as this is purely for entertainment.
Authors Note: Excuse the arrangement and description of various homes and etc. I have no idea what Kiba's house and backyard look like, nor do I know where in Konoha it is located. If, by chance, somewhere in the back of my mind, I do know, from manga or anime, I've forgotten it.
Everything else, by way of affiliation, or job (such as promotions, joining Oinin, etc..) is pretty much entirely invented. Consider this Naruto future in an alternate universe.
Also note, I'm sure the characters are totally out of character. I've no grasp of personality. I apologize.
Title: 'To Wolf's Flesh, Dog's Teeth'
Author: run dog run
Characters/Pairings: Inuzuka Kiba, Nara Shikamaru / KibaShika (Kiba x Shikamaru)
To Wolf's Flesh, Dog's Teeth
"Last night, I dreamed that I was chasing a pack of wolves, trying to belong."
Chapter 1: What is a dog but a domesticated wolf?
Autumn had, with its soft whispers, set sleep upon the trees; their leaves drying like paint, nature's pallet of color changing to suit the mood of slumber. The whitewashed sky, swathed with thread-bare linen and thin cotton clouds, was devoid of the bright colors of warmers seasons, and the sun, small and distant, strained just above the horizon. Shikamaru lay on his roof, eyes half lidded, watching the red-gold orb of the sun sink below the edge of trees that surrounded Konoha.
The wind, growing chill in honor of the season, brought the scent of the forest with it; moist and earthy, the smell of decaying flora rich, and almost sweet. Head loose of profound thought, Shikamaru contented himself with idle reflection. Musing, he decided, was something he would never tire of, something that lended its careless nature to balance the stress that life seemed to bring with each new day. Life, it seemed, preferred spontaneity and activity and constant tending, to the ease of peace and stillness and blessed moments of undisturbed languor. How most of the world could so easily dismiss such a divine pass-time, he could not fathom.
His calm was disturbed by the soft rhythm of footsteps, a quiet progression that led someone to his side. He did not greet his guest; instead, he lay still, aware but uninterested. The soft rush of cloth whispered of movement, and the subtle vibration in the surface beneath made evident that the guest had decided to sit. Drawing one dark eye open, Shikamaru rolled his head to the side, only mildly curious as to whom his companion might be. Shaggy brown hair, dark with moisture, hung before two feral eyes, slitted pupils gazing back intensely. Shikamaru knitted his brows and pushed himself up, elbows resting on the rough surface of the roof tiles.
"Ah, so you're not asleep." Voice even, Kiba raised one eyebrow; both disdain and mild surprise in evidence.
"It wasn't far off." Shikamaru frowned.
"Good thing I came by when I did, then." A soft laugh of self satisfied amusement slipped from Kiba's throat. Shikamaru narrowed his eyes. "You waste too much time dreaming."
"You waste too much time talking." Kiba grinned, lopsided smile revealing one sharp fang, giving a ferine quality to the gesture.
"What are you doing up here, anyway?" Kiba glanced around, eyes sweeping the tree line boredly. Shikamaru lay back on the roof, arms folded behind his head.
"Watching the sky." Head turned toward the sky, Kiba leaned back on his hands, his arms stretched behind him to support his recline.
"For what, exactly?" Brow furrowed at the darkening heavens, Kiba searched for whatever it was that might have captured Shikamaru's interest.
"Idiot." Shikamaru sighed. "Nothing, I'm just watching." A soft bark of contemptuous laughter followed Shikamaru's words.
"You're just lazy." Shikamaru attempted a shrug.
"Ah." Kiba glanced speculatively over at Shikamaru; the latter's eyes slipping closed once more.
"You're even too lazy to argue with me." Kiba sighed. "But then, you've always been like this… I don't know why I keep thinking you might change."
"You haven't changed much either." Shikamaru peeled one eye open to glance at Kiba, a slight smile playing on his lips.
"If by that, you mean I'm still the adventurous, energetic, and has-better-things-to-do-than-lie-around-dreaming, guy I've always been, then you're right." Kiba leaned over to grin at the prostrate 'dreamer'.
"What I meant was, you're still obnoxious and bothersome… and loud." It was Kiba's turn to shrug.
"If I am really such a pain in the ass, you could always tell me to fuck off, or you could find a better hiding place." Shikamaru raised his eyebrows, pretended to contemplate the possibilities. Kiba used his foot to kick Shikamaru's leg; a friendly reprimand for the false consideration.
"That takes too much effort." Kiba laughed, nodding to himself.
"I figured. And besides, then what would you have to whine about?" Pause. "Oh wait, I take that back. You have an uncanny talent for finding things to complain about." Shikamaru watched Kiba's animated conversation with mild interest; the feral boy talking with gestures as much as with his voice. "It's like a sixth sense." Kiba pulled his knees to his chest, crossed his arms over them and rested his chin there.
"You know, if I am really such a pain in the ass…" Shikamaru was interrupted as he began to speak. Kiba turned his head toward Shikamaru, eyes fierce, yet amused, halting Shikamaru mid-quote.
"Exactly. Too lazy to even think for yourself." Kiba sighed and flopped back ungracefully onto the roof, his shoulder blades striking the roof with a soft thud. "And I never said it bothered me." Kiba opened his mouth in a yawn. "You've taught me a valuable skill. According to my sister, I'm not some cute kid anymore, so I had to come up with another way to get what I want from her… she's got a very low tolerance for whining, so she usually caves." Kiba grinned up at the sky.
"I'm glad I was of some use." Shikamaru's sarcasm only earned another laugh.
"So, you been lying up here all day?" Shikamaru frowned, thinking.
"Since I finished my errands. The Hokage had me tied up with troublesome matters most of the day." Sitting up, Shikamaru scratched at the side of his head, thinking. "I suppose I've been here since just after four." Kiba lifted himself from the roof as well, propping himself up on his hands again.
"The sun's almost set, it's nearly seven…!" Shikamaru stared at Kiba blankly. "You've been up here for almost three hours." Kiba's brows were knitted together, face plainly displaying mild incredulousness.
"Ah." Shikamaru shrugged.
"You need a fucking hobby." Kiba rolled his eyes.
Companionable silence fell as the sun dipped below the horizon, the red glow barely peeking over the edge of the earth. Overhead, stars winked with pale light, dulled only by the closer brightness of the streets below, awash with lamplight that flooded into the street from shops and windows. Kiba shifted restlessly, as if anxious to move; the idleness wearing on him. Standing, he stretched his back, the bones cracking, releasing stress built in inactivity. Shikamaru glanced up at the bent form of his friend, and, not for the first time in his eighteen years, studied Kiba's shadowed figure.
The years, Shikamaru noticed, had been kind to the other boy; drawing fine lines of maturity into his face, and etching age into the feral boy with delicate strokes. It left Kiba with a youthful quality that, no doubt, would shadow him his entire life. His body had grown tall, and lithe, and he was muscled like an animal; lean and wiry like a hunter, with obvious strength. His eyes, bright and intelligent, spoke of the wild and spontaneous quality that was as much a part of him as of any wolf or wild predator. His hair had changed little, still an untamed mess of brown; strands hanging over his forehead to obscure his eyes and lend a sadistic quality to his darker expressions.
Rising to stand beside his friend, Shikamaru measured himself against Kiba. The fanged boy stood nearly three inches taller; his shoulders broader, build more defined. Glancing down at his own form, Shikamaru noticed the thinness of his own frame and frowned. The difference was not overly obvious, both of them being slim, however, to Shikamaru, it seemed to lend credence to Kiba's opinion on sedentary lifestyles. Shikamaru ran his hand through his unbound hair, pushing it back from his face, and tied it off in a tight, though slightly messy, ponytail.
"Shit!" Kiba's curse drew Shikamaru from his reflection. "My sister is gonna beat my ass. It's my night to tend the dogs." Kiba sighed and leaned over to look Shikamaru in the face, eyes narrowed in false annoyance. "I blame you. I'm late because you drew me into your web of laziness." The harsh nature of the words was contradicted by the grin that tilted Kiba's mouth. Arms tucked in and hands in pockets, Kiba leaned back, head tilted toward the stars. "You're a bad influence. I need to stop hanging out with lazy jerks like you."
"I've said as much…" Shikamaru raised an eyebrow and glanced at Kiba's profile.
"Well, whatever." Kiba turned his head, eyes meeting the shorter boys. "You wanna come with me?" Shikamaru felt Kiba's elbow nudge his ribs just before the taller boy turned to walk to the edge of the roof.
"I have some things…" Kiba snorted, interrupting the words.
"Like what? Lay up here and do noting for another three hours?" Shikamaru frowned. "Come on, it's not like it's gonna kill you to come watch me feed some damn dogs." Kiba stepped off the roof, an almost inaudible thud sounding as his feet touched earth.
A sigh of resignation escaped Shikamaru's lips as he stepped to the edge of the rooftop. He crouched low, one hand on the tiles, then dropped from the roof, landing noiselessly on the ground beside Kiba. The feral boy grinned his approval, raising one eyebrow in satisfaction before his fingers wrapped about Shikamaru's elbow, intent on dragging him if need be. Shikamaru allowed himself to be towed along, accustomed to the overanxious boy.
The streets were still busy; shopkeepers still peddling to customers, eateries still serving food to the late dinner crowd. Leaves littered the ground beneath their feet, crunching dully as they walked, the colors of autumn mixing and melting together to decorate Konoha in all the dressings of the early season. The activity wore away the further they got from the inner city, crowds thinning, shops fewer and farther between. Kiba's house edged the busier parts of Konoha, backed against trees and neighbored to a broad field. The light in the street grew dimmer until the two were walking in relative dark, the glow from houses along the way cast pale patches onto the ground; Shikamaru counted them as they passed.
The night's quiet was broken, suddenly, by thin and ethereal howls echoing through the night. Shikamaru shuddered inwardly, the sound sending shivers through his bones. The feral song seemed at once intimidating, and mournful; Shikamaru found himself unsure if the creatures calling into the night were Kiba's dogs, or wolves deep in the forest, trailing some unfortunate creature. Kiba's fingers tightened on Shikamaru's elbow as the sounds grew, the tense energy in the fanged boy bleeding through with the gesture. Shikamaru's eyes found Kiba's profile in the dimness, caught on the glint of white teeth, the sparkle that was, even in darkness, evident in the slitted eyes.
"They're calling me." His words were quiet, as if Kiba were entranced, caught up in the otherworldly mood. "They're pissed 'cause I'm late." Kiba's laugh broke the moment, diminishing the haunting air. Shikamaru frowned, pulled his elbow free from Kiba's grasp; albeit belatedly. Kiba looked over, eyes finding, first, his own hand, now empty, and then Shikamaru. One fine eyebrow arched in mockery. "What?"
"Nothing." Eyes deliberately forward, Shikamaru tucked his hands into his pockets and allowed the gap between him and Kiba to widen.
"All of the sudden you don't want to be too close to me, eh…?" Kiba sniffed the air. "I don't stink… just took a bath." A lopsided grin split his face. Shikamaru was reminded of the 'big bad wolf' of fairy tales. "So, either I creeped you out… or all this sexual tension is getting to you." Kiba's voice was low, suggestive. Shikamaru frowned at the taller boy.
"You have a very strange sense of humor, Kiba." A sigh punctuated Shikamaru's words.
"Yeah, well… strange is better than none." Shrugging, Kiba led them both toward the Inuzuka home.
The house was dark, only one light at the back of the house cast illumination into the darkness of the yard. The quiet, ominous growl of the Inuzuka dogs rumbled in a chorus, tumbling like a fog to overlay the entirety of the place. Shikamaru glanced about nervously, wary of teeth and claws. Kiba, at ease, stepped around Shikamaru's lingering form and slid the front door open, disappearing into the darkness. From inside, Kiba's deep voice seemed to mingle with the growls, his words too quiet to hear as he conversed with the dogs. Shikamaru frowned, straining to make out what was being said.
Kiba returned moments later, arms weighed down with what Shikamaru was sure could only be the meat the Inuzuka clan fed the strange Nin-dog's. The feral boy emerged from the dimness of the house, gracefully balancing his own weight and that of his load, and wandered around the side of the house, Shikamaru in tow. The house, Shikamaru had found before, was much larger than it had first appeared; extending back by many rooms, large in part because of the meager wealth the Inuzuka's held claim to, and part to house the many dogs they shared residence with.
The back porch was littered with the lounging bodies of fierce dogs; large and battle scarred canine's that seemed, to Shikamaru, to look more like wolves. The backyard sloped downward at an angle, giving rise to a rather large porch that jutted from the back of the house. The veranda dropped off to a rather well kept garden, a large spring bubbling with water spread across the center, leading up to the edge of the terrace. Despite the many dog's, the entire grounds were as well kept as any respectable household. Kiba climbed the stairs effortlessly, his boots echoing against the steps. He was greeted with vicious growls and unsettling barks. Shikamaru could feel the hair at the back of his neck standing on end, the sounds disquieting; Kiba merely laughed or returned the fire with a fierceness of his own.
"Damn dogs." Kiba spat the words as he flung the meat at the dogs unceremoniously. Large, sharp teeth snatched at the food, greed and hostility driving their predatory voices up in volume as they tore into the meal. Kiba growled back at them, his voice rumbling in a perfect mimic. "I already said I was sorry! I'm not that fucking late you ungrateful beasts!" He turned to grin at Shikamaru, teeth flashing in an amused parody of the angry nin-dog's.
"Aren't you worried that mocking them will make them angry?" Shikamaru cleared his throat.
"Nah, their bark is worse than their bite." To make a point, Kiba reached down to pet one of the large dogs, tousling the fur about its head roughly. A fierce growl was the only forewarning to the flash of teeth; the great dog's lips curled back to show large fangs, dripping with saliva and the dark blood of the fresh meat Kiba had served. Kiba's hand darted away as jaws snapped closed loudly on air; laughing amusedly as he swiftly reached to tug roughly on the dog's ear in reprimand. "See?"
"Of course… they don't look angry at all." Voice dripping with sarcasm, Shikamaru took a step back, leaning against the side of the house; more wary of the dog's he'd yet to see, than the ferocious animals noisily wolfing their food on the porch. "Where is Akamaru?"
"Oh, him? He's inside, ruining the carpet with his dinner." Kiba shrugged. "These guys don't like to eat inside… say it's unnatural for a dog to eat indoors like a human." The feral boy swatted at another of the dogs for snapping at him. "Something about weakness or fear, hiding in the den like scared cubs. I guess it makes them feel more important, eating out here under the sky, like pack, having to protect their food from any animal stupid enough to try and steal it." Kiba grinned.
"What are you feeding them?" Shikamaru squinted at the large chunks of meet the dogs were worrying into shreds. Kiba's face took on an apologetic cast.
"You don't wanna know, trust me." Shikamaru frowned. "I'll be right back. Gotta wash up!" Kiba held his hands up before him; they were covered in smears of blood. He cast Shikamaru a lopsided grin before ducking into the back door, leaving the dark haired boy alone with the dogs.
The sound of snarling dogs seemed to drive into Shikamaru's ears, the low whine like an engine, throttling and ebbing away into a sound more unsettling than the louder, more obvious warnings. The eyes of the dogs lingered on his form, glances cutting and full of mistrust; intimidating. Shikamaru tried to remain unmoved, to appear unintimidated and uninterested, but the nervous energy that flowed through him seemed to bleed from him like from a wound; the dogs, he knew, could pick it up like the strong, fresh scent of prey. It seemed, to Shikamaru, that they enjoyed his unease.
The dogs on the porch suddenly grew restless, the chorus of their voices growing louder and more urgent. Shikamaru tensed as one of the larger dogs rose, eyes seeming to stare through him. From behind him, Shikamaru could hear an echo of movement, and suddenly, his senses perked, picking up a presence, strong chakra flowing in untamed pulses; negative energy full of threat and hostility. He knew instantly that it was another dog, the territorial feel of the presence resembled that of the nin-dog's on the porch, but the power was much stronger, much more menacing. Shikamaru turned slowly, hoping to appear unthreatening, yet building his chakra to defend himself if he had to. Having long since mastered many useful Jutsu, Shikamaru knew he could at least hold off the dog until Kiba returned.
The large hulking form was closer than Shikamaru had expected, having moved more swiftly, more silently, than seemed natural, and less than a meter separated human from beast. The gap closed slowly as the nin-dog moved closer, eyes narrowing, lips drawing back with each slow step. Bursts of carrion scented breath puffed against his face, foul and hot against his skin. The dog was large, much larger than the others. His fur was bristled, hackles up, and he was poised to attack; eyes more fierce for the glowing reflection of the dim light, seemingly full of murderous intent. Shikamaru froze, eyes locked with that of the Inuzuka's alpha male, Kuromaru. The dog pulled its lips back into a snarl, teeth dripping saliva, eyes narrowed; stretching the scar that sliced across one cloudy blind eye. A second fierce snarl sent flecks of spit across Shikamaru's face.
Before Shikamaru could react, the chorus of growls was joined by another; a more human growl. Kiba leapt softly to the ground, one hand bracing against the soft earth as he landed, his eyes never leaving that of the Alpha male. His movements were slow, deliberate, and challenging. Kuromaru jerked his neck in an answering snarl, head tilting to the side, light glinting off of the wetness of his mouth. Kiba continued forward, undaunted by the vicious dog. He stepped closer to Shikamaru, his stance nearly as threatening as the nin-dog's own. His fingers wound tightly around Shikamaru's arm, the grip digging into the shorter boys flesh. The dog, in more of a gesture than a threat, snapped at Shikamaru; Kiba reacted swiftly, forcing himself between the two with uncanny speed, his eyes boring into Kuromaru's. Shikamaru felt himself pulled backward, arm still in Kiba's tight grip.
"Mine!" The growl of Kiba's voice was impossibly fierce; possessive. Shikamaru shuddered; Kiba, he thought, was more like the beasts than he had realized.
The dog growled in response, snarling its contempt; challenging Kiba's authority. The feral boy did not back down; instead he pushed ahead, a threat of his own bubbling from his chest in a rough parody of the dog's growl. He forced the larger dog to take a step backward, a reluctant move. The nin-dog's hesitation served only to draw a depraved grin across Kiba's features, a smile that held nothing of amusement. Kuromaru lowered himself to the ground, eyes cutting as he stared up at Kiba, anger outplaying the dog's tentative submission. Drawing up to his full size, the dog snapped once, head swinging sideways as a malevolent sound escaped its throat, before turning to the side; the beast made a wide half-circle around Kiba, drawing closer to the terrace as he moved. Kuromaru leapt to the porch, paws thudding loudly onto the wood, and took out his lingering anger on the other nin-dog's; snapping and biting as he made his way across the porch to the large and untouched hunk of fresh meat that was his dinner.
Shikamaru drew a long breath; a deep intake of air that shuddered as it escaped his chest. Kiba turned to glare at the dogs on the porch, eyes narrow slits. When he finally turned to face Shikamaru, the feral boy's face held nothing of the ferocity it had only a moment before. His smile bright, Kiba slung a friendly arm over the dark haired boy's shoulders, nudged his face up close; his fist pressed to Shikamaru's collarbone.
"Just gotta let them know who the boss is." Shikamaru knitted his brow, a look of disbelief written across his face. "Ah, don't mind him," Kiba pointed at the large dog with his chin. "he thinks he's Inuzuka royalty, but he's just an old mutt." Kiba's laugh was greeted with a menacing bark, which only made him laugh again. "Kuromaru, your time's almost up, you mangy old wolf!"
"You could have warned me…" Shikamaru calmed himself, shoved his hands into his pockets and slumped his shoulders, annoyed and slightly embarrassed.
"Probably…" Slitted eyes narrowed slightly. "But where's the fun in that?"
"Fun?" Shikamaru lowered his voice. "He could have killed me." Kiba laughed, a short bark, dismissing the possibility.
"I doubt that, you're not some weak little Gennin." The compliment went unnoticed. "Besides, he knows you aren't an enemy… he wouldn't have killed you." A devious grin cocked one side of Kiba's mouth. "He just didn't know who you belonged to."
"Belonged to?" Shikamaru frowned, confused.
"Yeah. It's a pack thing. They're very territorial." The grip tightened. "Don't worry, he won't bother you anymore… now he knows your mine." Shikamaru glanced up at Kiba, wary. Kiba smiled innocently back at the shorter boy, seemingly oblivious to the connotation of his words. Shikamaru frowned, suddenly uncomfortable; all too aware of the possessive grasp Kiba had on him. "So, where to now?"
"Home." Shikamaru glanced down at Kiba's hand, reached up slowly and wrapped his fingers around the taller boy's wrist, lifting it from around his shoulders. Kiba let his arm fall to his side.
"It's still early." It wasn't quite a complaint.
"I'm tired." Shikamaru allowed his annoyance to mix with the words.
"After all that, you're gonna leave me here with nothing but these filthy dogs for company?" The feral teen raised an eyebrow in question.
Shikamaru narrowed his eyes and snorted derisively, and then turned to walk away. Kiba folded his arms across his chest, watched the dark haired boy disappear around the edge of the house.
"Alright, alright… fine!" Kiba's voice carried in the quiet. "Just don't come crying to me 'cause you laid awake all night thinking about me!" Kiba's laughter echoed through the dark, the teasing sarcasm reminiscent of his earlier joke. Shikamaru frowned, his face tightening in irritation.
"Idiot." Shikamaru spoke the word quietly to himself, content in his mild insult, as he made his way home.