Okay, this is my first attempt at a KankuriKiba pairing, please, don't bother me with flames, they'll just keep me warm on cold nights. Constructive critic and pointers are always welcome.
Maybe you didn't realize it you, but this is SHOUNEN-AI, which means maleXmale, don't complain to me afterwards, I did warn you.
There is supposed to come a sequel (or something similar) but that'll be a HPNaruto crossover. Some things you might not understand probably will be answered in it, but feel free to ask questions anytime.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, if I did, it would involve more interesting scenes, but one can't deny that the creator (I don't remember his name right now) was a freakin' genius!!
On with the story
Never Felt This Way
Kankuro couldn't exactly pinpoint when his crush had begun. At first they had been enemies, and he couldn't say he liked the brash attitude of the other or his mutt. In general he disliked the kid. Afterwards he had saved said kid, not because he wanted to, it was a mission, an order from the Rokudaime of Konoha. So he had departed together with his brother and sister to save the apparently incompetent ninja's of Konoha. He was forced to rethink this an hour later when he saw the obvious dedication of the kid towards his dog and the destruction they had left in their trail. Maybe they weren't that stupid, it might be their age … right?
Anyway, he had saved the kid, his brother and sister had saved the other kids and the alliance between Sunagakure and Konohagakure flourished from that point on. Gaara became Kazekage, he and Temari became Jounin and a little bit later even Anbu. His missions removed every chance of a normal social life, but he couldn't really say he cared. He never had had one anyway, thanks to everyone's fear toward Gaara. The interaction between him and Gaara improved and he no longer had to be afraid of the other. So he could easily say that his life went for the very first time in the right direction. That's of course until his next mission was announced.
Hinata winced at the shout, her eyes darted nervous to the emotionless face of the Godaime, although she was developing a growing twitch. The one who'd caused the rapidly increasing irritation of the powerful sannin remained obvious to it, or so it appeared, maybe he just didn't care. It was quit sad to realize it was probably the last option.
"What's the problem, brat. I give you a mission; you accept it, complete it and return here."
Hinata glanced in the direction of her teammate. Shino stood, like always, immobile and was completely emotionless. Although the respect he had for the Godaime could be felt, it was impossible to read any kind of facial expression. But that was probably just because he had his whole face covered, although she couldn't be sure. Hinata though that the only one who might have seen Shino's face beside his family was Kiba. The same Kiba who didn't want to accept his next mission.
"Listen brat, I'll only explain this once. This mission is essential for the alliance between Suna and Konoha. Two persons are needed to complete it, which means one ninja from each village. Considering the advantages and disadvantaged it was decided that the two of you would go. Which part of the explanation you don't understand."
The sarcasm could be heard quit easily and Kiba reddened. Eyes narrowed and clearly displeased he attempted to answer. Luckily Shino intervened. He overpowered Kiba quite easy thanks to his bigger build and the other's inability to use Akamaru in the Godaime's office.
"He will be present tomorrow at the meeting point, Hokage-sama, now if we may be excused?"
She smirked and nodded.
"Make sure he realizes the importance of this mission. The mission itself might be stupid, but it is very important that the other Villages realize the existence our alliance; otherwise they might think we're weak enough to attack because we haven't got any allies. We do not need another war upon our hands, Orochimaru alone is quite sufficient."
Shino nodded, Hinata bowed respectfully and they exited the office, manhandling their struggling teammate with them.
The next morning Kiba was still snarling, but the presence of Shino and Hinata's comforting smile made sure he arrived at the meeting point. One solitary figure was already there, sitting on one of the fallen trees and looking up in the sky. He didn't acknowledge their presence, but it was impossible for him not to notice. His eyes remained on the sight of the sun, slowly rising above the high trees. When the sun had appeared completely above the tree line, the Hokage appeared in a swirl of leaves. Hinata and Shino disappeared soon after.
"Right, everyone's here? Your mission is to escort this little one to her father who's in Kumogakure at this very moment. She is to be unharmed thorough the journey, the mission is completed when you have brought her to her father, Raito Shinji."
After the explanation she turned around to a small girl who had hidden, small hands clenched the Hokage's clothing.
"Well, little one, why don't you present yourself to the big boys over there."
When there was no reaction, she smiled gently: "Don't worry, they won't hurt you, they're going to take you to your daddy."
The girl's head whipped up at that statement and she peeked around Tsunade.
Kiba smiled for the first time that morning: "Don't worry; we'll get you there in no time."
This was a side of Kiba he hadn't seen before. The other crouched down, at eye level with the kid, smiling friendly.
"Now why don't you tell us your name? Then we can leave."
The girl released her death grip on the Hokage's robes and approached Kiba shyly.
"I'm Tenshi, Raito Tenshi."
Kankuro couldn't deny her resemblance to one. Big green eyes peeked out from under her sun colored bags, a lithe figure covered with a light green dress and a dark green jacket completed the picture.
Kiba just grinned: "Well, I'm Kiba, but you can call me big brother if you want. The silent one over there is Kankuro. We'll take you to your daddy."
At this very moment, Kankuro realized he really didn't know how to treat a child. He would have thought the girl wouldn't like the affectionate way Kiba treated her, because they'd just met. He was wrong. She smiled brightly, eyes sparkling and hugged him tightly.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!"
Kiba just smiled and stood up, taking the girl with him and let her rest on his hip. The Hokage smiled, tossed Kankuro the mission scroll and disappeared: "I think you'll manage just fine."
At first she had been afraid of the big doggie, and when it approached she had been afraid. But onii-chan had smiled and allowed it to come closer. The white dog had been very careful when it had snuffed at her. It tickled and she couldn't help but giggle. Then the other onii-san spoke up: "Are you finished already, we don't have all day and I'd like to start this mission as soon as possible… That way it'll be done earlier too."
Tenshi sniffled and teary eyes locked on Kankuro's figure: "Onii-san doesn't like me?"
It was clear that Kankuro wasn't used at dealing with children. Kiba grinned, but helped when Tenshi's teary eyes threatened to spill and the Sans nin didn't seem to be able to get his mouth working.
"You know Kankuro; I didn't know you were this bad with children. And don't worry Tenshi; big brother just wants you to be with your daddy, just like you want to. So why don't you sit on Akamaru's back, then we can leave and that way we'll reach your daddy faster. The little girl nodded and when seated on the big dog she grabbed the white fur tightly.
"I won't let you fall, and neither will Akamaru, so enjoy the ride."
They left, jumping in the high trees and disappeared quickly out of view.
It was late in the evening when they stopped to make their camp. Tenshi had already been sleeping on Kiba's back for a few hours. The excitement of being able to piggyback ride Akamaru had tired her out. Kiba rolled their sleeping bags out while Kankuro occupied himself with a fire. There hadn't been much interaction in the last hours, the both of them didn't really know why they had been teamed up and except for their interaction at the Chuunin Exams they didn't knew each other at all. When their camp had been set up, the silence was broken.
"So…What do you think?"
Kankuro redirected his eyes from the stars to Kiba: "What do you mean."
His voice was gruff, but not unfriendly. Kiba grinned and nodded in the direction of the little girl, who snuggled closer to Akamaru. The big dog was curled around her little figure.
Kankuro frowned: "She's okay I suppose…I mean, it's not like she irritates me."
"You don't like kids?"
The question hung in the space between them, the other didn't answer.
"You've never hung out with little children before then."
Kankuro didn't really know what Kiba was trying to do. The questions weren't meant to hurt, nor to make fun of him, he was just … curious? Not wanting to destroy Kiba's attempt of a conversation he shrugged.
"Not really, our family was quite unusual, so we weren't able to treat Gaara that way. I suppose I've never really tried to play or interact with children… Most of the time they're a bother anyway."
Kiba's grin widened: "Maybe, but sometimes they're cute, and somehow that makes it up for all the times you could have strangled them."
He grabbed his backpack and searched something eatable. After a little while the smell of food spread through the camp and Tenshi stirred.
This time it was Kankuro who answered, still sounding a little gruff, but less then before: "If you wait a little bit it'll be ready."
Tenshi nodded happily and seemed to forget the harsher words from before: "Ok, Kankuro nii-chan."
He grumbled, somehow the nickname made him sound girlish, and Kiba's laughter resounded through the camp.
It was early the next morning; the sun had barely risen, when they continued their journey. Tenshi squealed from her position on Akamaru's back. Kiba and Kankuro kept up easily. The conversation still remained scarce, but now the silence wasn't as hostile as yesterday. They made process according to schedule and nothing had happened yet. Somehow these thoughts seemed to attract problems as Kiba had to leap out the way of a kunai.
They reacted immediately, Kiba grabbed Tenshi out of harm's way and Kankuro assumed a defensive position. Clasping a hand over Tenshi's mouth to quiet down her surprised shriek he disappeared. Within seconds he was back, without Tenshi and Akamaru.
"Where is the girl?"
The voice came from in the trees and Kiba threw a kunai in that direction. Somebody cursed, but was apparently able to evade it, because they could hear the dull sound of the kunai slamming in the tree trunk.
"You know, it would be easier if you'd just handle her over. That way we don't have to fight."
Kiba growled: "Yeah right, dream on and come and get her if you can."
Someone approached and attacked, the sound of two kunai clashing against each other rung through the trees. The unknown ninja grinned: "Not bad."
In the meanwhile Kankuro was engaged in his own battle with two other ninja's. He held his own quit easily. He hadn't been promoted to Anbu just because of his connections, namely Gaara, but because of the skills he had with his puppets.
He summoned Karasu and Kuroari. The puppets had changed a lot, although this wasn't visible on the outside.
It was a difficult fight; the both of them had the disadvantage of numerous opponents. Kankuro managed to remain relatively unscratched, but Kiba had more trouble, mainly because of Akamaru's absence.
His chakra coursed through him to his nose, fangs and claws. His stock of kunai was depleted to he was forced to use his long nails to tear through his opponents. This wasn't a big problem, it was just bloodier. The red substance managed to cover him almost from head to toe. He evaded his opponent's katana, crouched low and tore his claws through this stomach. A kunai tore through his shirt, leaving a shallow wound, he winced, managed to leap out of the range of the next one and his claws met their next victim. There was next to no resistance when they cut through the other's trachea and he was splattered with new blood. There was no difference visible. Suddenly it grew quiet; the only thing he heard was the uneven heaving of his chest. Thoughts flashing to the little girl he didn't even wait to regain his breath. They tore through the forest, Kankuro right after him in the direction where he had left her.
When they finally reached the little cave it seemed as if an eternity had come to pass. But Tenshi was still there, cuddled closely to Akamaru, her face hidden in the thick fur. Kiba slumped against one of the trees, reassured. His breathing pattern was uneven, but he seemed relatively unhurt.
"It might be better if you didn't saw you this way. Blood is quite frightening to little children."
Kiba nodded and attempted to rise, but a blur knocked him back. He groaned softly when his head connected not too softly with the tree. It seemed he had been wrong, the only emotion on her face was worry, but that might have been because she was used of living with ninja's.
"Are you okay, nii-chan, are you hurt?"
Kiba managed a soft smile and nodded, although his head had to hurt.
"Why don't you let me help him, you can get some water together with Akamaru."
The little girl nodded, her face held a grave expression. They left together to a small stream close by. Kankuro crouched down next to Kiba.
"Where are you hurt?"
"For the most part it's not my blood, but I have some scratches and a deeper wound in my shoulder."
Kankuro pulled the shirt away, uncovering the wound. It was quit deep, probably a kunai, but not deep enough to need stitches. Tenshi returned. She skipped closer, the water bag proudly displayed in her small arms. He cleaned the wound easily, thanks to years of practice and Kiba left to bathe quickly. Ten minutes later he returned, bloodless and in clean clothing. Kankuro bandaged the wound. After they had praised the little girl for her help, who had given them an eye blinding smile, they continued their journey. Because now, thanks to the attack, they were behind schedule.
It was late when the finally stopped from sheer exhaustion. Kiba, once again with Tenshi on his back, collapsed. They had already eaten so they went to sleep immediately, Kankuro had the first watch. He sat against one of the trees. Kiba, Akamaru and Tenshi were sleeping a little bit further. The little girl cuddled against Kiba whose arm was wrapped around her. Akamaru curled himself against Kiba's back, one paw laid protectively on the young adult. Something, a feeling, flashed through him, but he ignored it, like he had always done with almost every emotion. His gaze focused on Tenshi. They had wanted her. Why? Tsunade-sama hadn't said anything about this. But she had given them a scroll, maybe there was more information in the scroll. Kankuro frowned. Next question, where had he put said scroll. She had tossed it to him and he had…put it in the backpack. He stood up noiseless, and crossed the little distance to the bag.
Why wasn't it in it? Maybe Kiba had had the same idea?
Kankuro looked to the ones asleep. They had changed position. Somehow Tenshi had managed to squash herself between Kiba and Akamaru, so he should be able to see whether the other ninja had it. Otherwise they had a problem. He crept closer, not making any sound and lowered himself next to Kiba. The scroll wasn't visible so he allowed his hands even so carefully, trail down Kiba's smaller form. His eyes remained on the sleeping face, checking if he remained asleep. He finally felt something which had the right contours to be the scroll. Kankuro scowled when he saw just where the damned thing was. This'd better be worth it. Careful not to wake Kiba he zipped the shirt open and inserted his hand. If Kiba would awaken now it would appear as if Kankuro was molesting him. Don't wake up, don't wake up, don't wake up. The thought kept on spiraling in his head. It seemed to take an eternity before his fingers touched the familiar feeling of paper. He maneuvered the scroll out of Kiba's shirt and zipped it close. Kankuro straightened his prize in his hand. His heart leaped when he heard some mumbling: "It's my turn already?"
Sleepy eyes looked up, completely unfocused.
"No, I just thought I heard something, but it's nothing, you can go back to sleep. I'll wake you when it's your turn."
Kiba nodded and drifted back to sleep. His heart still thundering in his chest, he returned to the tree. He had never felt this relieved before when he finally sat down. Kankuro opened the scroll, eyes trailing down the page. The unbelief, clearly showing on his face, continued to grow. His eyes shot between the little girl and the paper. Well, no wonder they had attacked them. The girl was the daughter of the bloody Raikage who was at this very moment in conflict with one of the surrounding ninja towns. He was at loss why they had to bring her back now, in the middle of an impending war. Tsunade-sama had said that thing about showing their alliance, but this really wasn't the moment to travel with a little girl to the heat of the battle. Probably some completely incomprehensible reason which had to do with politics. Just great.
Kiba slowly ascended to the realms of the awakened, he didn't like it. Someone was shaking him softly, as to not awaken their small companion.
Kankuro nodded, he looked completely exhausted. Kiba sighted, but moved aside, allowing Kankuro to lie down next to Tenshi, and moved to the tree. He yawned, but managed to remain awake. Tomorrow in the late afternoon they would reach their destination and they would probably stay there a night to regain their lost sleep.
He kept himself busy to make sure he wouldn't fall asleep. He counted leaves, pebbles, the breaths of the others. When it grew lighter he started to count clouds, birds and even animals. When the sun rose above the trees he stood up and approached the still figures. He crouched down next to Kankuro.
Someone came closer. His early life in Suna seemed to have permanently scarred him. He didn't even think before he acted, reflexes had the complete overhand. Kankuro grabbed the other, twisted and forced the other under him, a kunai to the throat. Only then he awakened completely. Kiba was sprawled out under him. One hand pinned above his head with the hand that supported Kankuro's weight. His other hand held the kunai threatening to Kiba's throat. Claws dug in his forearm, preventing him to cut in the soft, venerable flesh. Kiba was shocked, confused, completely helpless and at his mercy. Kankuro couldn't quite follow, he had only just awakened. Kiba's mouth opened shakily and tried to speak without cutting his own throat: "Let go, please."
Suddenly Kankuro realized just what he was doing.
He removed the kunai immediately and released the pinned wrist.
"Are you okay?"
Kiba moved shakily: "I'm okay.'
His hand moved to his throat, checking for a wound, but finding none. When he saw the other's fixation with his throat, he shook his head: "Don't worry, there's no wound."
In the meanwhile Tenshi and Akamaru had awakened too. It was difficult not to with Kiba's loud yelp and the thud right after it. Akamaru had growled warningly when the kunai had touched Kiba's throat, but hadn't moved. This partly because Kankuro was an ally and also because he'd only make the situation worse. His best friend had been completely at the Sand nin's mercy. Tenshi looked surprise clearly visible in her big green eyes. But before she could react Kankuro had already released Kiba and was apologizing profusely.
Kankuro realized he couldn't continue with their mission before he had given Kiba the reason of his reflexive behavior.
"Sorry about that. I just don't seem to support people touching me when I wake up."
Kiba blinked: "Okay, so how am I supposed to wake you up without touching you or screaming?"
Kankuro grinned: "I think it's sufficient to call my name or something like that. Just don't touch me when I'm asleep unless you've no other choice."
Tenshi frowned, clearly not comprehending something: "So I can't sleep next to you?"
Kankuro smirked reassuringly: "Don't worry; I'm able to handle little girls."
Tenshi beamed: "I want two pigtails."
Kiba and Kankuro looked incomprehensive: "What?"
"In my hair, you sillies."
They continued, Tenshi once again on Akamaru, this time with two pigtails. It had taken the two men quite a while to make them. And Tenshi hadn't helped with her comments of 'Onee-chan who had made them in five minutes'. But anyway, they were almost there. A feeling of déjà vu ruled when they had to evade an attack once again.
Apparently Kiba thought the same: "Honestly, you'd think they'd try to be subtle."
Kankuro smirked at the comment: "Why don't you go and stand there, by that tree, Tenshi. We're right back."
This time Kiba remained with the little girl and allowed the attackers to get close before killing them, with the help of Akamaru. Kankuro summoned his puppets once again and attacked vicious.
He threw a kunai in the direction of one of the attackers and was already moving before he heard the body drop. Next to him, Akamaru attached, using his claws and fangs. He bit easily through someone's leg, ignoring the screams of his victim. This time it was Kankuro who was unlucky. The number of the attackers, no names, no identities, no way to know who sent them, was vastly superior to them. One of them managed to sneak behind him and thrust a katana in and through his low back. Kankuro didn't scream, he didn't allow himself to. Karasu finished the fool, piercing him completely. He felt a grim satisfaction at the deafening screams.
Akamaru finished the last one. While they were fewer in number, they were clearly stronger it appeared. Kiba checked if Tenshi was still there, which she luckily was, and searched for the distinct form of the puppet master.
He gasped when he saw him. Kankuro was leaning heavily against a tree, trying to get a katana out him.
Kiba ran towards his ally, comrade, friend?
"Wait; let me help you with that."
He removed Kankuro's hands and pulled with the utmost care, to make sure he didn't worsened the wound. He kept on cursing while doing it. When it was finally removed, he forced Kankuro to sit down. His hands pressed on the wound, making sure the blood loss was as minimal as possible.
"Akamaru, Tenshi, go look for water, fast!"
Tenshi looked at them with scared eyes, nodded, and grabbed the water bag.
"Don't worry, he'll pull it through. Just get some clean water."
She nodded again; her little face determined and followed Akamaru. Kiba continued to apply pressure to the wound.
"You can come closer, you know."
Kankuro's voice rasped, but he succeeded in sounding a bit amused.
"I thought you didn't like people coming close to you?"
"That's when I'm asleep…"
Kankuro gasped: "When I'm awake it doesn't matter. It's just a habit from when I was young."
"You don't have to tell it if you don't want to. You should spare your strength."
"I'm sure I manage, besides it allows me to order my thoughts and think about something else than the pain. Anyway before I was so rudely interrupted."
Kiba smiled weakly.
"When I was young, there were a lot of murder attempts at Gaara. I was convinced that one day they'd kill me too. Because I was way easier to kill, I mean, I didn't have any dirt to protect myself with. I always feared that maybe one day they'd have had enough of all the failed attempts and that they'd murder me, just to succeed once. Actually when I think back at it now, I realize that would have been impossible. In order for Gaara to survive, he killed those who tried to kill him. So it was impossible for them to kill me."
Kankuro laughed softly, but stopped when it made the blood flow faster.
"Don't do that!"
"Yeah, I kind of realized that too."
Tenshi ran, the full water bag was clenched tightly to her chest and she could feel the water beat against the fabric. Akamaru urged her on and she continued. Even though her little chest heaved heavily and her breath escaped in harsh gasps. For the first time she pushed herself past her limits. She threw herself through the bushes. But when she saw Kiba nii-chan's warm smile, even with the situation at hand, she felt herself calm down.
"Can you get the bandages and needle and thread?"
Tenshi dived in the large back pack and finally found the said items.
End Part 1