Just a quick thing to shake off this massive writer's block about these two.

Aburame Shino was a genin.

This in itself was not a surprise; he had been training toward this rank for twelve years, and it had never truly occurred to him that he might fail the final exam.

No, what made Shino so, for lack of a better word, unsure, were the sleeping arrangements.

Shino knew how to sleep in any situation – Father had helped him train out the need for such comforts as being horizontal during a REM cycle – but this was one for which he was unprepared.

Inuzuka Kiba, sans canine (now standing guard), was crouched on one end of the two-man tent, facing Shino with free access to weapons and no apparent intention to get his sandal, caked with an amazing amount of mud, off of Shino's neatly laid-out standard sleeping roll.

Shino sat cross-legged the open end of both his sleeping bag and Kiba's. He had rather conscientiously removed his sandals before entering.

They sat staring at each other in the nearly complete darkness of the tent. They were shinobi; they could see well enough to pick out the more helpful muscle junctures and arteries with the smothered star- and moonlight.

Uneasily, Kiba said, "Listen. Just because we're on the same team doesn't mean we're friends, bug freak."

Shino, behind his dark glasses, blinked in mild confusion. "I made no move to insinuate such a thing."

"And just because you were, like, one of the wonder kids that got top scores on everything doesn't mean I have to be nice to you."

"No, it doesn't," Shino agreed.

"Or that you're the boss around here or anything."

"No. That would be Kurenai-sensei." The lady herself was on the other side of the banked fire, sharing a tent with Hyuuga Hinata. The female third of their group, Shino was confident, would not have wasted time stating the obvious and soaking Shino's sleeping bag with various pieces of decaying foliage.

"That doesn't mean you can be a jerk to me, either," Kiba said quickly.

"Yes, that seems fair."

"I mean, just because it's like the first night of the first away mission that we've had since becoming genins doesn't mean that you have to be all weird about this."

"I understand."

Suddenly, an unidentified object struck the side of the tent and, through it, Kiba's skull. He pressed the side of his head and growled, "Ow. Teach'? That you?"

Kurenai's voice carried clear through the night air. "Shut up. Go to sleep. Or I will personally remove your tongue with the bluntest object I can find. Right now it's looking to be a twig."

"We should sleep," Shino said.

"You're being all weird!"

This time, the side of the tent was punctured, as well as the opposite side as the object traveled through.

Kurenai accompanied this one with, "You're the one being weird! Now just make friends and go to sleep!"

Kiba yelled back, "Was that a kunai?"

"Yes! The next one isn't going to miss, I promise!"

"Well, he's refusing to act normally!"

Shino said, "This is, to my knowledge, my normal behavior."

Kiba said, "Well, I don't trust it!"

Shino processed this. "Ah. You cannot sleep next to someone that you don't trust."

Kiba nodded quickly. "And you're… like, not even getting ready for bed or anything… it's just weird… like an alien. Or something."

"I also do not trust you." The jacket and glasses were going to stay on. "I am more prepared for sleep than you."

Kiba sighed and removed his sandals, tossing them out the entrance. Next, he shed his thick jacket and bunched it up.

They were at a stalemate again.

Kiba sighed with aggravation. "This would be a whole lot easier if you were, y'know, human."

That made no sense to Shino. "Explain."

"That! Things would be a whole lot easier if you would just, well, if you would just fight with me a little."

"We have sparred during training in the two weeks since this team was formed," Shino reminded him.

"No, I mean if you would argue with me. Instead of just saying that I'm completely wrong on something quantitative, have a debate over something qualitative. Just so I can sort of get the measure of you."

Shino needed to confirm that he had heard correctly. "To be able to trust me, you need to have an argument with me?"

"Well, yeah. Just so I can get a feel for what kind of guy you are."

"And the subject can be anything?"

"If you have enough of an opinion of it."

Shino thought for a moment, and then said, "If, as I have assumed, all of your behavior is based on the traditional attitudes of the Inuzuka clans, it is a miracle that any member survives to reproduce."

Kiba made an odd sound in his nose. A short distance away, Kurenai began laughing, and only stopped when Hinata whispered quickly.

After two seconds, Kiba said, "Yeah, well, Aburame are all so uptight that it's a miracle any of you know how to reproduce. Or that you can get mates!"

More laughter from the women.

Shino assumed that more was required of him. "You lack a fully developed sense of public decency."

"You have no emotions!"

"You have no self-control."

"Hey, now, that's not nice. I do so!"

"Name an instance in which you displayed it."

"There was that one time that I didn't punch you."


"A few sentences back."


"So? Will you take it back?"


Kiba didn't answer back this time. He studied Shino a moment longer and then mused, "You're the kind of guy that says what he means, and nothing more, right?"

Shino didn't give an opinion on this assessment.

"Of course, that would mean that you expect other people to do the same. You'd never be able to tell when someone was picking a fight, or something. And you'd be brutally honest all the time, even when it might piss some people off."

As Kiba continued mulling over his epiphany, Shino said, "Get off my sleeping bag. I'm going to sleep."

Kiba put out his hand. "Before that, here."

Shino looked at the proffered trained weapon as though it would burn him.

"Look, just shake it, okay? Means I trust you."

Shino shook it, and then began to negotiate his way into the sleeping bag with a bulky jacket.

"Don't trust me yet, then?" Kiba laughed.

Shino paused. A fair trade was in order. He decreed, "You usually mean more than you say. I suspect that you also communicate physically – though I will need further investigation to understand the language. You are a sociable person and are accustomed to communicating with people who understand every nuance in your speech. At this point, evidence would suggest that our personalities are far from compatible for a fighting force."

He then began to remove his jacket – definitely not his glasses, though – and used it as a pillow, as Kiba was doing.

Kiba said, "Fair enough. You'll be surprised how well I get along with all kinds of people."

"I will wait until after sleeping to find out."

"Right. Okay." Kiba slithered into his sleeping bag and fell still after a few moments of tossing and turning.

Breaking the silence, Kurenai said, "Did you two kiss and make up?"

Hinata whispered, "You shouldn't be mean, Sensei…"

"Hey, chick, I'll betcha five bucks that they get together down the line."

Kiba said, "Now who's being loud?"

They settled down.

A few more moments passed before Kiba shifted and said, "Why's my sleeping all muddy…?"

Shino was a genin. He was even coming to terms with the sleeping arrangements.

Life was probably going to become more interesting, from now on.