Author's Note: Written in the "20 Truths" format of the said LJ community, though I'm actually still waiting for my claim to be approved before it gets posted there. In the meantime, I thought I'd go ahead and share it here since it was completed a while ago (and knowing me, if I wait too long, I'll only grow to dislike the fic).

A Kiba/Hanabi one-shot. An obscure pairing, yes, but the idea popped in my head and latched on quite tightly. All 20 truths are connected to form one story.

Simply Unspoken
by Téa

The first time Hanabi saw him, she was standing behind a pillar watching quietly as he and another boy came calling for her sister at the Hyuuga main house. His dog had leapt into her sister's arms, and Hanabi couldn't help but notice the way he grinned goofily as he said something that made Hinata's cheeks turn pink. For reasons she never bothered to decipher, the sight made her frown as she slipped back into the shadows.

Hanabi decided she hated him then.

The first time Kiba saw her, sweat was rolling down the side of her face as she sparred with the intimidating head of the Hyuuga clan. When she suddenly stumbled and fell on her knees from a particularly nasty blow, he took a reflexive step forward until he caught the sidelong glare she shot him from behind the long curtain of hair that hung limply around her face. It had completely taken him by surprise, but before he could react, she had already gotten on her feet and attacked her opponent in such a vicious manner that all he could do was stare.

Kiba learned a moment later that she was Hinata's younger sister, and he wondered why he had never seen her before.

After that brief encounter, it didn't take Kiba very long to realize it was her who always stood in the shadows when he and Shino went to pick Hinata up at the Hyuuga house. He had always known someone was there, and it satisfied him to finally figure out who it was.

Kiba wondered what she would say if he told her he recognized her scent. Moreover, he wondered if she knew she smelled like the forest at the break of a storm.

For a long time, Hanabi hated the way her sister's face lit up the moment her teammates showed up at the house. She hated the loud manner in which he always seemed to present himself in, with no regard whatsoever to the fact that he was disrupting the peace and quiet of the house whenever he came by. Most of all, she hated the way her heart clenched tightly whenever she watched them from the shadows as they left the Hyuuga grounds while chatting easily amongst themselves.

It took even longer for Hanabi to admit that the only peace and quiet Kiba had disrupted was her own. That somehow, with his carefree demeanor, he had managed to leave behind in her, an ache for something she never knew she lacked. Hanabi was content before he came along, and for that, she felt justified in hating him even more.

Kiba honestly hadn't meant to startle her the way he did. It was, after all, only a decision he had made on the whim as he and Shino stood waiting for Hinata on the courtyard of the Hyuuga house. Looking back on it, Kiba thought he may have been too rash in approaching her when he popped his head around the pillar and grinned cheekily at her. Yet the remorse at scaring her refused to stick whenever he recalled the way she yelped and tripped on her own foot.

Of course, he would never forget the words she spat at him when he reached out to steady her. 'Get your filthy hands off of me!'

It was truly nasty, that tone of voice, but he thought the faint flush that dusted her cheeks as she tossed her hair in haste and hurried away made it all worth it.

To his credit, Kiba did regret his actions for the six long months that immediately followed the incident. It had taken only a moment for him to notice her absence when he arrived at the Hyuuga house again, though the feeling of something missing always lingered long after he left.

The day he caught her scent once more, he couldn't help grinning at the shadow in the far corner of the courtyard as his regret finally lifted. And when Akamaru gave a short bark with his tail wagging in full glory, Kiba could only look down at his dog in surprise.

The next time Kiba visited the Hyuuga house, he made another decision. The first time he did it, Hinata had asked who he was waving to and Shino had raised an eyebrow at him. Kiba, in turn, had only responded with a feral grin.

It took only three more visits for his friends to stop looking at him strangely whenever he lifted an arm up in a casual wave with his back turned as they strolled away from the courtyard.

The first time Hanabi caught his wave, her pale eyes widened in shock before they abruptly narrowed in cold fury. How dare he mock her?

Three waves later, she considered that mocking may not have been his motive.

Ten waves later, she wondered why he was doing it at all.

Twenty waves later, she realized he wasn't going to stop.

And yet, after thirty waves, Hanabi began to fear that he would.

Akamaru was the one who found her at the village's New Year Festival, though it was Kiba who would always remember the expression on her face as she stared down at the dog that insisted on planting its large paws on her hips.

Years later, Hanabi would still say it was a frown. Kiba, on the other hand, had always thought it was his favorite smile of hers. He told her just as much, which did make her frown- but only dubiously.

When Kiba really thought about it, he realized he shouldn't have been surprised when Akamaru started barking in time with his waves. A man knows his own best friend after all, and Akamaru had always gone for the pretty ones.

In those moments, Kiba felt strangely proud of his dog.

One afternoon, when Team 8 took a short break after a morning of rigorous training, Kiba asked Hinata a question that had always been nagging him at the back of his mind. That day, he learned that Hanabi rarely left the house because Hiashi had insisted on training her in the Hyuuga ways himself, less she turned out too soft like Hinata.

It was then that Kiba decided Neji was insane for thinking he was the caged bird.

Kiba didn't know it at the time, but that was also when he vowed he would smash her cage to bits so that he could watch her soar.

It would be hard to say if it was Hanabi or Kiba who was more shocked when one day, Hinata suddenly paused and lifted a hesitant hand up in a small wave of her own as Team 8 was leaving the courtyard of Hyuuga house. When Kiba looked down at her in question, she only gave him a timid smile but it made him happier than he could've imagined. Kiba had hoped it made Hanabi happy too.

Two months later, Shino joined in without even the slightest warning, and Kiba was found unprepared for the sudden surge of possessiveness that crept up. He insisted that it wasn't jealousy. Still, Kiba hoped it made Hanabi happy.

Yet another month later, Hanabi finally stepped out of the shadows and graced their waves with her presence. Though if one were to look carefully, they would notice the faint smile that ghosted her lips whenever Kiba grinned openly at her as Akamaru gave one of his happy barks.

The day Hanabi was freed from her cage, Kiba had nothing to do with it. Rather, it came with the announcement that Hinata would be pronounced as the official heir of the Hyuuga clan. As a result, Hinata was unable to join many of Team 8's training sessions nor was she allowed to go on some of the more dangerous missions they were assigned to. Instead, Hanabi and her Byakugan was offered as a replacement on those occasions.

Hinata was caged as Hanabi became dispensable, and Kiba went through moments where he was torn between feeling guilty, furious, and selfish. Strangely enough, it was Shino who helped him find a balance between his warring emotions when the ever-silent bug user commented blandly that Team 8 now operated as a 5-member platoon.

After Kiba had time to mull over those words, he made two more vows. Hinata would always be considered as part of Team 8, and dispensable or not, Kiba would make sure Hanabi was never dispensed.

It also became a widely known fact, that Kiba loved bragging to anyone who would listen, about how his team consisted of two Byakugan users.

When time and circumstances permitted it, Hinata still trained with Team 8, now with the addition of Hanabi. On those days, Hanabi often watched in dismay as her sister frequently cast furtive glances at Shino. She would frown at how silly Hinata looked with her face turning several shades of red in the process. Sometimes, when her nerves felt too delicate, she would scowl and criticize her sister for being so ridiculous.

It made people think Hanabi remained the cold, unfeeling kunoichi that she had come to be known as. No one knew that watching Hinata's obvious reactions made her afraid of looking at Kiba.

There was a time when Hanabi was positive she hated the sight of Kiba's grin. Too arrogant and impudent, she had thought. Too playful and too open.

But then there was also a time Kiba lost his smile for days when Akamaru had to be hospitalized for the critical injuries the dog had suffered from a mission gone wrong. She had watched him wander the streets, never too far from the hospital, offering his friends the kind of smile that looked much too humble to be on Kiba's proud face. Even his voice barely rose above a pained murmur.

In the end, Hanabi decided that she hated this Kiba more. To rectify the problem, she gave him a hard punch in the face and took great pleasure in the way that he shouted a string of obscenities, loudly and indignantly.

She gave him a full minute to vent and rant at her. Then Hanabi turned and walked away, tossing over her shoulder what she had wanted to tell him ever since the first day Akamaru was admitted into the hospital.

'If you can't smile, then don't smile at all.'

Five minutes after she was gone, as her words sunk in, Kiba smiled for the first time in days. Hanabi didn't see it, but a few of his friends nearby did. Shikamaru was the only one who caught on, but he thought it was too troublesome to explain something that would soon become public knowledge anyway.

After Akamaru had fully recovered, Kiba brought him to Team 8's usual training grounds where his teammates stood waiting for him. Hanabi was the person Akamaru ran to first. The hound had tackled the young woman and earnestly licked her in the face while Kiba chuckled to himself.

That was until Shino said, in that expressionless voice of his, "Your dog moves faster than you, Kiba."

For one brief moment, Kiba only looked at his teammate dumbly. Then, slowly, his slanted eyes widened. Whipping his head around, he pointed at Akamaru and blurted, "Oi Akamaru, you're stealing my kiss, you lucky bastard!"

Suffice it to say, Kiba hadn't really meant for it to come out that way though he did mean every word of it.

The day would go down in history as the first Team 8 training session where Hanabi's face was the one that resembled a tomato as opposed to Hinata's.

Hyuuga Hiashi paid no special attention when, one evening, he found the Inuzuka boy standing at the front door asking for his youngest daughter. Hours later, when he found her room empty, he would see at least ten different outfits scattered all over her bed- none of which were fit for training. He would then remember, all of a sudden, that the boy's messy hair had looked suspiciously tamed when he came by earlier.

And ten blocks away from the Hyuuga compound, as Hiashi stood in his daughter's empty room with a disturbed frown on his face, Kiba would summon up enough courage to move faster than his dog.

Akamaru would be nowhere in sight.

Seven months later, both Kiba and Akamaru were banned from setting foot into the hospital by Haruno Sakura. That was after Kiba broke a door and Akamaru bit one of the medics in the leg. The pair became a permanent fixture of Konoha Hospital's front entrance for six days. That was the length of time Hanabi laid unconscious in a room on the third floor while medic nins worked hard to treat her injuries.

Kiba did not try to smile, and his friends finally understood what Shikamaru had not bothered to explain all those months ago. To say they were surprised would be an understatement.

That surprise paled in comparison to the one caused by Hyuuga Hiashi when he led the Inuzuka man-dog unit into the hospital, blatantly ignoring the ban that was placed.

For the better part of the few weeks after Hanabi was released from the hospital, Kiba's friends watched the newly discovered pair like hawks. Having found nothing noteworthy, most of the males gave up observing them. Instead, they wondered if Shikamaru was smoking something other than cigarettes. The female population, on the other hand, had to agree with the lazy nin. It was entirely too troublesome to explain such a thing. But amongst themselves, they murmured, 'Who would've thought?'

Naturally, it was also the women who first noticed the simple, silver ring that hung on a delicate chain around Hanabi's neck as it glinted under the sunlight.

A few years later, their friends were still expecting to hear a marriage announcement from them. But by the time it was their generation's turn to take on a genin team of their own, no one would remember that the formidable woman with pale eyes and the man with an ever-faithful dog were never officially married. And those who did remember had never corrected the younger ones who assumed otherwise.

It simply didn't matter either way.

Inuzuka Kiba and Hyuuga Hanabi just were, and one look at them was all anyone ever needed to do.

I realize Kiba/Hanabi is a virtually non-existent pairing in the Naruto fandom, but I hope at least a few of you had found this fic enjoyable. I couldn't resist giving them a try. :) Reviews and feedback are all very much appreciated. Thank you!

Finished on: December 11, 2006 (2332 words)