Just Because
By Dreaming of Everything

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto (and this includes characters, settings, events and what-have-you) in any way, shape or form. I merely borrow, all for my own nefarious purposes.

Timeline: Nothing specific, nothing too spoilery. Placed when Shino and Kiba are somewhere between 17 and 19, approximately. Set in a hypothetical, non-specific post-ending type situation, but (as I said) it's not particularly essential to the plot. (One of the many, many joys of more minor characters…)

Author's Notes: This is the fic that would not end. No, seriously. (Okay, there's at least two more that did the same thing to me at the same time as I was writing this piece, and this is the only one I've finished so far, but still.)

The longest of my Naruto oneshots so far, around 27 pages, and my first foray into Kiba/Shino.

Read and review, please? Your support really means a lot to me, especially when I'm not used to writing the characters… (Okay, I've written Shino before, but not Kiba.)


Shino hates Kiba's pack-status mentality, his attempts at dominance, so when Kiba kisses him, Shino kisses back.

This is a challenge, as much an attempt at dominance as a dog humping its packmate, if slightly more subtle, and Shino has bowed to Kiba's insistence that he is the team leader, unwilling to fight over something so trivial, but he has his lines drawn, and this is clearly over most of them.

And every teenage boy can only resist a challenge for so long.


Kiba wasn't sure why he kissed Shino, but he's never put much emphasis on analyzing his thoughts, so he ignores the how and why of things and concentrates on the immediate.

He won't let the Aburame win this. He kissed him almost on accident, running on something more automatic than thought and more thoughtful than instinct, but the cocky bastard took it like a challenge, threatening his position—

All of a sudden he's all teeth and tongue and insistent hands, pulling the Aburame closer and pressing him into his mouth, aggressive and pushy because there's only one person in charge of a pack, and he's not letting the bug boy rule this one.


Shino knows he's in over his head as soon as Kiba reacts to his unvoiced challenge. He's forced closer, his tongue forced back by Kiba's more forceful one, he's drawn back by the utter closeness of the boy, more than any sparring match has been—

He doesn't know what to do with his hands, so they dangle uselessly for a brief minute while he rallies his thoughts.

It's too late to turn back. Nothing to do but forge on ahead.

He can live with that.


Kiba had started smirking when he felt Shino withdrawing back into himself, and is prepared to break away and start gloating at his victory when Shino presses himself against him, and god, he had no right to feel that good against him, challenging and trusting all at once. His teeth scrape against his lip, just hard enough to hurt, and he withdraws slightly in shock before returning the favor.

He moans, low and needy and nearly a growl, as Shino works a leg between his thighs, pressing even closer. He's never been this close to someone—the Inuzuka are tactile as a rule, but nobody's done this to him, not like this, no kiss has been like this before, no one's kissed him hard and long and visceral, until his lips are swollen and now Shino's arms are around him, one shoulder held nearly hard enough to bruise and the other hand cupping the back of his head, a gentle contrast to the other, but pressing hard enough to keep his mouth glued to Shino's—

And where the hell did he learn to kiss like that? Kiba's clearly been missing out, whoever it is.


Shino is inordinately proud of himself when he figures out what to do with his hands, and Kiba has suddenly become frighteningly arousing when he's growling and his lips are moving against his like that, one hand drifting down to cup his hip, tightening as he sucks hard at his lower lip—

He can only guess it's a good sign. This is his first kiss, and nothing like he would have imagined, if he had been the sort of person who imagine first kisses.

He knows Kiba isn't a virgin, several times over, and certainly has had his fair share of kisses. It was a subject covered between them a while ago, when Kiba still had a crush on Hinata—funny to see where that's gone—but then, it's expected. He had been 16 or so when the conversation had taken place, but shinobi grow up fast or die fast.

He can only assume he's doing the right things, of course. Kiba seems to think so, but he can't be positive. Kiba's a teenage boy—he understands what that's like—and an uninhibited one. And this—this kiss—will be laughed off later, played off as a joke or an accident or, if he's unlucky, as his own fault. It's happened before—that sort of thing, at least.

It's unexpectedly painful to think of Kiba snickering at him like that, from a group that probably thinks of themselves as 'the guys' without any sense of irony, all too ready to make him even more of a freak than he already is in their eyes. Not that it will matter, if it does happen. The Aburame pride themselves on their reserve, and Shino has inherited all of the important family traits.

He's not ready for this, but there's only so much he'll back down for. And to withdraw now—

It's not that he wouldn't hear the end of it, it's that he'd lose whatever ground he's won, in the bizarre power struggle he's found himself in. It's that he'd lose Kiba's respect. Not that he'll have any for him, after this, because to respond to a challenge like this is one thing, but to live with the aftermath is another.

And it's not because he likes it…

But now's not the time to think about this, about all of this. What's happened has happened and is happening, and the damage is already done, even if he were to back out now.

So he shifts his hands again, still inordinately happy that he's figured out what to do with them, and draws back a little to breathe.

He can imagine what he looks like: slightly stunned—assuming you knew him enough to recognize the expression for what it was—and breathing harder than normal, face barely flushed and lips reddened. His hair will be disheveled, and his glasses knocked askew, with red lines where the frames have pressed into his face.

And all of a sudden it hurts. Because this is his first kiss, and likely to be his last for some time more. He's the most inexperienced in this sort of thing of all his year, he doesn't know what he's doing, and he never should have kissed back. This is all—all something, he's not sure what, but it's nothing he should have involved himself with, ever. This was all a mistake. He never—

should have enjoyed it

—should have responded to that stupid, stupid challenge of Kiba's in the first place. Kiba's an Inuzuka, that's all the excuse he'll ever need, but Shino… Shino is an Aburame, and there is no excuse for being so headstrong, so reckless, no excuse for not thinking of such obvious risks, such obvious outcomes—

He can tell that his mask has slipped, at least a little. Kiba's reading—something on his face, and his own has lost some of that hungry look and is more…

It's not anything Shino can identify automatically, but that's always been a weak point of his, reading expressions. It's one of his greatest failings, as a shinobi—that's always been a source of shame to him, but this is the first time it's been painful. Clearly, it is also a great weakness in these sorts of interpersonal matters. He would have realized that if he'd thought about it, but he—hadn't.

Kiba's backed away a little, as he's been thinking, though they're still essentially wrapped around each other. Shino breaks away first, though, and he's surprised to realize that he's so not-in-control that the movement's rougher than he meant, as if he's desperate. As if this matters—because it does, but he can't show Kiba that. This is—this is bad enough as it is.

His kikai bugs are rattling, noisy to his own ears. A few have left him, and are hovering in the air around him, roused by his tension. By his pain.

"I'm—late," he says, simply, and he honestly can't think of what he can be late for, so he leaves it at that. Too late for damage control, all that's left is a tactical retreat, and take the wounded with you only if you can. He flees, and hopes he doesn't look too desperate, too vulnerable. Because he is.


"Fuck," says Kiba, almost conversationally.

Akamaru whines.


It's cold out, and Shino's shivering.

If anyone asks why, 'because it's cold out' will be his excuse. It's a lie.

He was never supposed to get attached to someone. Not like—that. The ideal Aburame…

The ideal Aburame is—asexual.

Asexual until his parents start tactfully inviting young ladies of suitable age and ability over. It's not exactly an arranged marriage, but it is a—an intellectual activity. Much is, with the Aburames. And usually the young ladies are not only a good match in terms of the clan, but nice enough. Aburame households aren't loveless, no matter how restrained they are, and it's not unheard of for a young Aburame to find a girl of his own to start tactfully inviting to dinner. Usually the parents listen.

But it's never… Never an Inuzuka. The two clans' abilities compliment each other—they are both designed for tracking, for recovery, for finding—but their personalities do not. And it's not a boy, because Aburame children are the driving force behind Aburame marriages—that, and custom.

And Shino has always been the ideal Aburame.

It's more than that. Kiba… Kiba has tolerated him, over the years, and a certain amount of camaraderie grows up when you fight together, rely on each other for survival, for life and living, but there's nothing more than that.

There are a few likely reasons why Kiba—why anyone, especially any boy—would kiss him: dominance, blind curiosity, a dare or mockery. It is possible he's overlooking something, but unlikely, so he simply holds the idea in his mind for now.

It had started out as another way to prove dominance. Shino can guess at that much fairly accurately. And then, when he hadn't backed down, Kiba had almost drawn back—much like he had, a moment of give before the take—and then pushed forward again; it had remained about equally heated and Shino had drawn back for breath, and… Fully realized what had happened. What had been happening.

Shamefully, his eyes are prickling with tears.

The motive had changed somewhat by the end of the kiss, he decides. Kiba had seemed to be enjoying it, but if option D, mockery, was one of the causes, then that could have been merely to egg Shino himself on. Even if he had been enjoying himself, if the end result was some sort of… sick joke, played on him for later amusement when related to friends, then his own enjoyment would be changed for the retelling, and his own probably played up. Exaggerated.

Blind curiosity is unlikely: Kiba has certainly kissed before, and Shino can't imagine that kissing another male is all that different—even if it was, Shino's not likely to be an obvious choice for that sort of experiment. He had clearly been expecting Shino to back down, and if he was curious, he'd want someone who would kiss back; therefore, it was an unlikely reason.

A dare was more likely: Kiba had certainly taken them before, but they hadn't been that—dramatic. It was also odd that his name had come up; he knew that he was undesirable, in terms of the Village's dating pool, but there were others, including other males—especially males—who were probably ranked lower. Lee came to mind, and Neji and Sasuke were more likely to become violent, and were therefore more likely choices. He and Kiba were teammates, but that wasn't likely to raise the chances of him being mentioned all that much. Furthermore, dominance was probably the cause of the kiss—they had been arguing over something petty, possibly a leadership issue—and since a dare would need to be an initiating cause, it was unlikely. Still, it was possible that he had misread the challenge in the kiss, and that the history to it was unconnected, so he couldn't rule it out completely.

Dominance was most likely the cause, but the kiss had been heated by the end, a different sort of heat. Mutually so, Shino thought—that meant he was probably missing a cause, or misreading the situation altogether. Maybe the person being kissed was utterly inconsequential to Kiba, and the mere act of kissing on its own was enjoyable, without the person—without Shino—being sexualized in any way. Or, again, Shino was simply wrong.

It apparently didn't work that way for himself. He—

He had enjoyed it, not because it was a kiss but because it was Kiba who was kissing him. He hadn't thought about kissing, and he hadn't thought about who he would kiss, because he needed to be an Aburame, and they didn't do that sort of thing.

And maybe—maybe—it was because he was afraid he'd find out who he would want or not-want. Maybe some part of him had known.

It had been easier, like that. It would be easier if he just—forgot this. It was what Kiba would do, assuming that he didn't portray it as some sort of trap, something to make Shino do something laughable, to everyone else.

But at the same time, he doesn't want to forget, even if it makes things easier, even if it makes this hurt less.

The feeling of Kiba pressed against him, his warm body and the slight prick of too-large canines, is haunting him. It was challenging, yes, but not in a way that would prove dominance. There had been no bite to challenge, whatever it was; nothing was being decided. And it had been trusting, at the same time, being that close to someone, and he had felt safe despite the press of teeth, even the canines, and the challenge, and the slight prick of claws into his back.

He has to keep reminding himself that it won't happen again. That it's unlikely that Kiba will ever mention it at all, no matter how obscurely referenced, unless it's open, far too open, because what better way to defend yourself than make it a joke? Shino immediately rejects the idea of doing it himself—he can't do that, won't, even if it was possible that he could convince somebody, anybody, at all, that it was planned, even if he had someone to try to convince—but he doesn't know if Kiba will. He has to remember that there's a more-than-fair chance that Kiba will never associate with him socially again, no matter what he does.

That hurts most of all. Shino had always thought that he was immune to those sorts of mistakes: everyone knows the old adages to appreciate what you have because nothing is definite, and you never know what tomorrow will bring, not when you're a ninja, but Shino had never thought it applied to himself. He had thought he had, and wasn't it a cliché to find out he hadn't like this?

Shino's always valued Kiba's companionship, to a certain extent, but it's only now that it is—quite possibly—gone that he's realizing just how much. He'd always been independently-minded, and he'd always been a loner, an introvert to Kiba's extreme extrovert, and it had been easy to make that all there was to himself.

But really, it wasn't a true part of him at all. Or it was, but there was more to him than that, much as he didn't like that fact. Kiba was the only thing approximating a friend he had had, Kiba and Hinata, and Hinata didn't challenge him. It was too easy for the two of them to remain locked up in their own individual shells, too shy to force the other one out. Kiba was his opposite, in that, and Hinata hadn't needed it like he did, Shino's forced to admit to himself, because all that Hinata needs is age and experience to force her confidence.

But himself… He'd have been content to spend the rest of his life the way he was expected to. Not happy, but content.

And he'd still have to be. Because even if Kiba still— If Kiba was—interested—and he wouldn't be—it still wouldn't be something he could do, because he was an Aburame, and he lived his life by the rules. Even 15 seconds before time was on time, to him, because, technically, it was, and it mattered because punctuality was important. The letter of the law, not the spirit.


Kiba was growling softly to himself, he realized, as Akamaru whined at him.

"Heh. It's okay, Akamaru. Actually, it's not, but it's not anything we can fight. Or we could fight him, but it wouldn't help."

Kiba's—troubled. Not that he had kissed Shino—that had just been some sort of weird mistake, an impulse not really thought through, an urge to see how the bug boy would react, a muddled-up urge for dominance—but because he had liked it.

He had enjoyedkissing another boy.

And it had been enjoyable because it was Shino. Not because he was a damn good kisser, but because Shino had been the one doing the kissing. It had been… It had been a challenge at first, yeah, and Shino had to go and rise to it, for once, and so he had needed to respond to that, and he was teenage boy (meaning that lampposts were enough to get him aroused some days) but this—had been more than that.

He liked girls, damn it!

What he doesn't know is who Shino likes. What Shino thought of The Kiss, and Kiba's mind supplies the capitals unnervingly easily. It's not like he's some blushing 13-year-old girl talking about what she wants her first date to be like—I mean, Kiba's not even a virgin. He's kissed before, to put it mildly.

But Kiba's been working with Shino for years. He knows how his mind works as much as anyone does. (At least, anyone who's not Shino or another Aburame.) He may be an Inuzuka—quite possibly the clan least qualified to provide insight to any of the bug users—but those years of training and missions and, yes, social-type events, count for something.

He knows that Shino's not interested. That's a pretty intuitive conclusion to come to. He'd basically ran away from him at the end of the kiss. He'd never showed any interest—and Kiba was good at figuring out these sorts of things—in anyone, not even that one time when he had had whores of all genders and then some throwing themselves at him, on that undercover mission in that port town. Even Hinata had been a little flustered by it. (And by 'flustered' he meant 'aroused.')

So no, if he had been into any part of the kiss, Kiba wasn't that part. There's no guarantee that he was into it at all—this is Shino, after all, and he was the one who had broken the kiss, not Kiba.

That basically summed it up: Kiba had liked it and Shino hadn't, so Shino broke off the kiss and fled, whereas Kiba would have continued.

But what was Shino thinking?

Kiba can guess. Knowing Shino, he's—not ashamed, not embarrassed, but— He's something, probably not something that there's a word for. He's got this thing where he needs to be all emotionless and reserved and calculating and shit all the time, and yeah, his whole clan does, but he asked around—a lot of his family's worked with Aburames before—and their experiences seemed to be that they were a little too reserved, but decent enough once they stopped pretending they weren't human.

Shino doesn't do that. He's always the stereotypical Aburame, cold and analytical and competent but not passionate. It kind of pisses Kiba off—not enough to keep him from kissing him, apparently, but now that's it's so, so… immediate it's pissing him off even more. Maybe because it kind of hurts, that Shino clearly isn't in to him—and he's not saying that he's interested in Shino, just that maybe he might be, kind of, if Kiba weren't straight and if it would be okay at all and if it wasn't like this—and maybe because he fucked up so badly this time, because Shino can be more annoying that Kiba has words for, with his attitude and all, but they're still friends. More than that, they're teammates. It's not anything that non-shinobi would ever understand, but nothing builds a bond like fighting together does, and Kiba knows that he'll fight to the death and then some for the lives of anyone on his team.

How will Shino react? Well, he'd already done more reacting than he usually does—pushing away and then clumsily leaving in an obvious escape attempt is pretty out of character for Shino. Just how disturbed was he by all this? Yeah, Kiba's freaked out by the whole he's-a-guy thing, but he didn't make a dip towards total breakdown before cutting and running.

Of course, he was also having a much more interesting (or, you could say, heated) time than Shino was. There was that.

Kiba thinks that he'll probably ignore that this has ever happened. Shino totally buys into the whole 'mysterious, emotionless killer' aspect of being a ninja, and responding when your best guy-friend kinda-sorta-accidentally kisses you is not a part of that, unless you're in a bad boys-love manga. It's not like Shino to make such a blatant, humiliating mistake, so Kiba'll be surprised if he brings it up again.

Assuming, that is, he brings up anything ever again. It's one thing to be friends, it's another to be friends after one of the two kissed the other, they kinda made out and then one ran away.

Of course, he'll still deal with him. Shino's professional when it comes to this sort of situation, refusing to let personal feelings get in the way of duty.

But he doubts they'll hang out, do anything together. Not with The Kiss looming over their heads. It'll just remind Shino of it all, in all likelihood, and he'll want to forget it.

Kiba can only hope that's he's not actively angry with him, though that might be a bit much. Kissing a guy out of the blue? He certainly wouldn't react well to that, even though he had already done it himself.

He's such a hypocrite.

And he'll miss Shino, if the ways things go means that they stop hanging out together.

The guy needs a friend, and Kiba does too, in a way. They're opposites, but in the sort of way that not-really compliments each other, clashing but understanding each other at the same time.

That basically summed up the kiss itself, actually. That, and a lot more sexiness. Much as he hates to admit it.

Kiba wishes he had someone to talk to about this, but there's really not. His mother, his sister and any of his guy-friends are out of the picture because of the whole 'I kissed Shino' thing. The girl-friends (friends that are girls, that is, he doesn't have one of the other type at the moment) are out for essentially the same reason, and you just can't go to your teacher with a question like this. Well, maybe if your sensei was Kakashi—he had his suspicions about what he was up to with Gai, God forbid, and all those Icha-Icha Paradise novels had to be good for something.

And usually he goes to Shino with this sort of problem—when he has them, anyways, though they've never involved boys before, except for jilted boyfriends, ex or otherwise—and that's absolutely out of the question right now, for obvious reasons. Hell, at the moment he's inclined to think that he'd be lucky if Shino didn't attack him on sight, or at least send him away forcefully.

He's not sure that he could talk about this with Shino even if it was another guy he had maybe-accidentally kissed, because the whole I-kissed-a-guy-and-liked-it thing is still pretty much freaking him out, let alone somebody else. Even if that someone else is Shino, who's less given to freak-outs than anyone else Kiba knows.

So it's just him on this particular 'mission.' The whimsical idea's enough to make him smirk slightly, despite it all.

So what does he actually do the next time the team meets for practice? Since he can really only guess at Shino's thoughts—the guy's so damn ineffable sometimes—it would probably be best if he took what clues the guy gave and improvised from there. That's good—Kiba's good at improvisation.

It's funny, though… Shino really had seemed enthusiastic, and he had looked kind of—weird as he had pushed Kiba away from him, at the end. But no. Kiba shakes himself. Enthusiasm could be easily explained by his own feelings—which certainly were 'enthusiastic'—coloring his impression of Shino's, and by Shino rising to the challenge he had originally presented: not unlikely, considering his track record. It had to be one of the two, or a combination of both, more likely.

Seriously, though, where the hell had Shino learned to kiss like that? Because Kiba's jealous.


He'll ignore the whole thing, for Kiba's sake, Shino decides. It's the most logical course of action.

Since Kiba is a group-oriented person, he will want to avoid what's not considered normal, to remain within that group. That will be that much harder if Shino brings it up again.

Also, bringing the event to his immediate attention, more so than it likely already is, is likely to cause him to need to reject it—and, with it, Shino—openly.

Shino tells himself that it has nothing to do with how hard it would be to confront him over this, not when there was, so clearly, no emotional ties involved in the event for Kiba. It's—daunting, to think of opening up to someone, to anyone, especially when that person's so intimately involved in the event, and when you're not even entirely sure of your own emotions.


Team practices had, inevitably, forced Kiba out of his room and the places he'd deemed likely-enough-for-Shino-not-to-be-there-for-him-to-be-there: a training field and a section of street in the center of Konoha that was a known teenage hangout, mostly.

Even then, he really only risked that much to keep his mother off the scent, and he really didn't want—even if maybe he needed—her involvement.

Shino's been keeping to his own safe ground as well, but it's less noticeable than it is with Kiba. He's been training with his insects on the Aburame grounds—perfectly normal—and other than that sticking to his room, sneaking meals back to it whenever he can get away with it. He knows he's being ridiculous, even if nobody really notices what he's doing (introvert tendencies seem to make sulking pretty unnoticeable and, therefore, ineffectual; Shino's relieved, more so than he normally is, because he has suspicions that what he's doing is, in fact, sulking.)

But there's no excuse to skip team trainings, short of an enforced hospital stay or your own funeral, and so Shino will show up for it. So will Kiba. And anyways, skipping training would be a definite warning sign that something was wrong to anyone who heard about it—Kiba could probably come up with some sort of Kiba-appropriate excuse, but no one would believe that Shino skipped training for nothing, or for anything, in fact—so really, if he's downplaying this whole event, there's no choice but to show up, and to hope for the best.

Shino arrives exactly 45 seconds before the arranged meeting time. He'd selected it carefully, so that he was not suspiciously late—he is known for following deadlines to the second—and so that he wasn't too early, which could be equally suspicious if done wrong, but also because Kiba could quite easily arrive early, which would leave the two of them in each others' company with no training to distract them, and potentially—depending on exactly how early they were, in this hypothetical situation—no Hinata or Kurenai to serve as a buffer between the two of them. The fact that they are likely to be ignoring each other would only do so much, and it would still attract suspicion—and unless Kiba actively initiates something, it really is best to avoid him, Shino knows, but he doesn't want it to be the best course of action. It's irrational, stupid and a little silly, he knows, but knowing has kept him from feeling it.

Shino never thought he'd be so caught up in something like this. He's seen the other ninja in their year go through their romantic trials and tribulations—mostly the former, rarely the latter—but he'd never really thought it would apply to him. He'd always had too much self-control to be involved in something so messy, but apparently it wasn't as good as he'd thought it was. Apparently, he wasn't even as self-aware as he'd assumed he was, because this sudden welling up of all these difficult, painful feelings is totally unexpected. He really, truly, honestly hadn't thought he cared this much. He hadn't known. And it had taken a kiss to break the seal, start to open him up.

He's not sure he's happy it happened. In fact, he's sure he's not, and he's less sure, but still fairly positive, that he's also happy that it happened. He's not used to dealing with anything this contrary, this undefined.

He's not sure what, exactly, he feels for Kiba.

(He enjoyed the kiss, but what does that mean?)

Shino's not sure he'd kiss Kiba again, not sure he wants to explore the newly-discovered, instinct-driven, mystery-laden undefined layers of his mind at all. He can control them, has controlled them, so it isn't a problem, right?

He doesn't know what it means, that he still doesn't want to kiss anyone, really—except maybe Kiba—at all. Especially not when he considers the lengths he went to, the events he participated in, even unintentionally, to realize what he did want to do.

But in the meantime, there's training.


Kiba thinks that it's awkward, being this close to Shino again. The sparring match they're in isn't as heated as it usually is, both holding back emotionally, if not physically; mentally, Kiba knows, they're on opposite sides of the court and Kiba, at least, is licking his wounds.

He was somewhat satisfied by the fact that his predictions had been correct: Shino was pretending the event had never happened. At least he didn't look any angrier, any more annoyed, than he usually did—not that it was easy to tell, with Shino. Damned emotionless bug boy—it would be far too easy for Kiba to convince himself that he actually has forgotten all about what's happened, that it's not something that matters enough to pay any attention to it at all.

Okay, there's a bit more heat in his blows now.

Kiba can feel that there sparring is slightly off, though. He's not sure quite how at first, but it slowly dawns on him.

He's doing his best to not touch Shino, who seems to be returning the favor. Yes, there's the necessary contact—blows and parries and collisions—but it's hesitant, avoided where possible. Their match must look strained and stilted, not quite natural.

Kiba's also realizing that he ends up touching Shino a lot, maybe more than is usually normal, when they spar. He hadn't realized… Hadn't thought to realize. It had been utterly subconscious…

It's not just him, at least. At least, he thinks so. Shino's hard to read, though, and he can't be sure. The coat and the glasses, the immobile face—he has the opposite of a transparent personality, whatever the word for it is. Every thought, every emotion, every reaction, is filtered. There's no way to really figure out reasoning, or motive, or predict future reactions or behaviors.

In a battle, it's a strength. At the moment, Kiba kind of wants to punch him for it.

At least it would be a more normal reaction (to anything) than kissing him is.


Hinata is worried. She thinks—she is pretty sure—that Shino and Kiba are fighting again, and that always makes her worry. And this time, it is worse, because Kiba isn't being loud and obnoxious about it, and Shino isn't just-barely-but-not-really goading him on, or responding to outraged snarls with cold reason and slight, if sharp, sarcasm.

Instead, they are quiet, and that scares Hinata, just a little. Not so much with Shino, but Kiba isn't supposed to be quiet. Not that he is never silent—it just isn't how he reacts to things. It shouldn't be.

And Shino's behavior is just slightly off. Nothing she can pinpoint, nothing that most people would notice at all, but as close to glaringly obvious as Shino ever gets.

So she's worried, because they've had their arguments before, but it's never been like this. Something must have gone wrong, or it's worse than it's ever been before, or it's something else, but whatever it is can't be good.

And then there's the fact that they're both having the sloppiest, most distracted practice she's seen either of them do for years, and it's worse when they're facing up against each other.

So Hinata's worried.


As both boys prepare to depart—hurriedly—from the training field, Kurenai cuts them off.

"Whatever it is you're fighting about," she says, "deal with it."

Kiba looks slightly panicked.

"If you don't, I'll tie you into a genjutsu until you do."

Both of them know her well enough to know that she's not joking.

She departs at that, leaving the two of them alone.

Shino's suddenly aware of the acute silence two people can create, even in a fairly loud,

noise-filled area, like an outdoor training field.

"Um," says Kiba. Ordinarily, Shino would be thinking something disparaging at that sort of display of linguistic skill, but it's more than he can manage at the moment, really.

The kiss keeps on repeating inside his mind, over and over and over. It really won't let him be.

"Uh." It's Kiba again—Shino wonders if he actually has something to say, or if he's just stalling until something comes to him.

"Yes," Shino manages—brilliant move, there.

"Okay—yeah. I'm really, really sorry, it was just a sort of—stupid thing I thought of doing, not that I was really thinking at all. And it was to, to see how you reacted, kind of, I mean, I do that all the time—not that I'm always kissing guys! But that I wanted to see you do something. Um. Not like that. And I didn't mean it. And I really didn't mean to— I shouldn't have— I didn't try to— I didn't mean to drag you into the whole thing. And I sometimes do some kinda stupid things—okay, maybe I don't do stupid—even though this was—but yeah. Uh. I'm sorry?"

Shino's poleaxed. Too startled to move, to react at all. It's exactly the sort of trait that drives Kiba to even new heights of 'aggressively annoyed.'


"Yeah. This is fucked up. You don't wanna talk about this and I sure the hell don't. I'm leaving. See you. Or not. Whatever."

And then Kiba's gone, leaving Shino with the shocked impression of irritation, embarrassment and—something else. Maybe.


The red tattoos on Kiba's cheeks make him look weird when he blushes. It's all Shino can really think of, right now. Because that had been totally unexpected.

He hates it when it's like this: he doesn't know what might happen next, and it's not something he can guess at, because he's so far out of his league…

And he'd only managed a single word throughout the entire— (not confrontation, but not discussion) ordeal: 'yes.'

Just 'yes,' added where it didn't make any sense to say it at all. Not in response to anything serious. No real reason to say it, really. It had conveyed no meaning, served no real purpose but to reveal his nervousness, potentially—he was slipping. He never should have let down his guard like that (because every weakness is a thousand more potential ways to die) and it's shameful, really, even though Kiba had been worse than he had been—not that those rules really applied to Kiba. A lot of rules didn't. And he was inscrutable, if only because any halfway-watchful ninja quickly realized that he showed most of what he felt (not all) but you could never be sure of the extent of the emotion: simple displeasure or simmering fury? Mildly satisfied with a job well done, or ecstatic? How powerful, exactly, how likely to kill someone, was the jutsu he was about to release—moderately so, or extremely? Was it just a cover for something?

Kiba's a loose cannon, and even more dangerous because of it.

And he had just apologized to Shino for a kiss.

Not attacked him, or threatened him, or blamed him. He hadn't even denied that it had ever happened. He was guilty

Maybe. Maybe not. He had been angry, at the end. This is fucked up. You don't want to talk about this and I sure the hell don't. I'm leaving. See you. Or not. Whatever. What had prompted the apology, then? His pride wouldn't allow him to apologize for something he never did—not something so shameful, certainly. And he had been shamed. He had to have been shamed…

Shino's never seen him blush—not like that—before, either.

He had apologized. Therefore, it could be safely assumed—within a reasonable margin of error—that he is unaware that Shino had enjoyed the kiss. Or found it pleasurable—an important distinction. Shino's not sure which one (or both) is the actual truth of the matter, though.

He's afraid he might know, though…

It's safer, with things this way. Kiba's unaware that it evoked any unexpected emotions in Shino, any enjoyment or desire, so things are less likely to change as much as they would otherwise. He is less likely to take offense, or react with revulsion, or push Shino away from him entirely. Kiba will be able to move beyond it, now that he's apologized, and forget what was (in his own mind) an unpleasurable experience—a mistake, an urge that should have been smothered, some strange sort of urge to once more prove his dominance gone somehow wrong.

He's not sure he wants that, and as much as he knows he's deluding himself (he had to remember it was over and done with, it wouldn't be mentioned or referenced or repeated at all, ever again, Kiba didn't want it, his apology had proved that, and that was for the best, really, Shino should feel the same) he still thinks it felt like Kiba had responded in turn, enjoyed it as much as he had… but he's so inexperienced, and he doesn't know how much of that was challenge, how much was misinterpretation, whether Shino himself had anything to do with his pleasure—he doesn't know much of anything, right now.

But it's over and done with. Kiba had made that clear. See you. Or not. And Shino will be introduced to a girl, or find one, and he will marry her and have Aburame babies and be an attentive father and a dutiful husband and grow old with them, and nobody will ever know that this has happened. Know that the only person Shino has ever really wanted to kiss is Kiba, an Inuzuka and someone who doesn't care for him and, most of all, another boy. Nobody who will ever continue the clan, or do suitably as a devoted wife, or fit seamlessly and smoothly into life at the Aburame compound, assuming Kiba would even consider moving there, assuming that Kiba would ever want to be involved with Shino at all—which he probably doesn't. Almost definitely doesn't. For his own sanity, he should convince himself that he doesn't, at all, but it's hard. Kiba had kissed Shino, and Shino had kissed back, and he had done the same, kissed him in return to the kiss Shino had responded to in the first place—

At least it had happened. At least he had figured out this much, figured out that he had liked kissing Kiba, whatever that meant. And he could resign himself to a dutiful wife, in a few years' time, and a seemly number of children, probably two, a few years after that, depending, really. He had done it before, after all. He can do it again


Kiba growls as he hurls himself into another combination of punches, feints and kicks, even though his breath is already coming fast and the sweat is dripping off him.

He had sat there, awkwardly fiddling and babbling like an idiot, while Shino had stared blankly at him, cool and collected and uncaring and fuck, this was far and away the stupidest thing he's ever done. There are not words to describe the level of idiot he is right now.

And Shino. He's—

Kiba kind of hates him right now, the bastard, for just not caring. It pisses him off. It shouldn't, but—much as he hates to say it—it's just not fair, that he can so utterly and entirely brush it off, or at least not let it bother him. Or haunt him. And yeah, the bastard had to have not liked it—not that he had ever expected anything else, he hadn't let himself—but he could at least have acted human about it. But no, he'd just stood there, watching Kiba make a damn fool of himself, except for one word, 'yes,' said to egg him on at the beginning, the sentence indescribably sarcastic when combined with Shino's perfect deadpan and flat voice.

Clearly, he couldn't care less if he tried.

So now he's out here, ostensibly training, but really he's just exhausting himself to keep himself from thinking. It's not working, but at least it might make up for today's abysmal training, somewhat.

And at least it's getting rid of some of the tension. Kind of.

Okay, not really. But still. It's a good way to think.

He's shifting his weight, one leg flying up—a perfect arc, he thinks he's finally got this down—to slam into where his nonexistent opponent would be, and maybe it's Shino, but he doesn't want to think about Shino's body sliding against his own, perfectly matched to his movements, the two meeting each other in the perfect synergy of a fight, entirely too reminiscent of other situations, so he's not sure—but he's knocked to the ground by the sudden, heavy weight of another body crashing into his.

Kiba looks up into his sister's eyes from his spot on the ground, his mouth curving into a wicked smile at the challenge.


If Kiba was tired, sweaty and dirty before, it's nothing compared to what he is now. He's a long ways from the point where he can really challenge his sister, but he's in top form today—or at least, he is now—so she's panting a little as well. They're on the ground in the puddle of shade an old maple spreads on the ground, already long with the setting sun.

"So what's bothering you?" Hana says conversationally, out of the blue. Kiba chokes on the water, and she smirks back at him, her face more feral than his own, when he shoots her a look that's attempting to be partly aggrieved and partly uncomprehending of what, exactly, she means by 'bothered.'

He would say nothing, but his sister's grin is showing teeth, and she's beaten him around for avoiding issues she's brought up before.


"Is anybody pregnant?"


"Is anybody dead?"

Kiba just gives her a look, this time.

"Has anybody taken out a bounty on your head, exiled you from the village or vowed to never rest until they've destroyed you and your clan?"

More peeved silence.

"Well, it can't be that bad."

"Hah! I wish." Kiba's voice is bitter.

"I doubt it. You're a teenager, everything's an inter-village scale disaster to you."


"And with eloquence like that, I'm sure you're a hit with the ladies, so that surely can't be the problem."

Kiba starts laughing at that, bitterly. Hana's just close enough to be in the ballpark (romantic issues are, technically, what this would fall under) but ladies liking or not liking him is hardly the issue at the moment. Him liking the ladies, maybe, or the gents liking him. But seriously, how the fuck do you say that to your sister?

"I did, on the other hand, hear your sensei bemoaning teenage boys in general this afternoon, so I'm guessing it's you and your teammates, yeah? Are the Hyuuga out for your blood because you deflowered their innocent and virginal heir before she could be married off to some ass from a family with either genealogies or bank statements a size usually considered more appropriate for a small country than a clan?"

"…'s not Hinata."

"Sooo. Shino. Did you actually piss him off this time or something?"

No answer.

"C'mon, Kiba, give me something to work with here."


"I mean, if anyone's going to understand issues with the Aburame, it's another Inuzuka."

Still no response.

"Kiba? You at home?"

He had his face contorted into a ferocious scowl, and was staring firmly at the ground.

With a whirl, Hana has him pinned up against the tree trunk they had been leaning against, snarling.

"Whatever's bothering you isn't going to be improved by moping you numbskull, and don't think your little stunt the past few days has gone unnoticed. I want the whole story now."

Kiba knew better than to question his sister in this.

"I-accidentally-kissed-Shino-and-I-didn't-really-mean-to-but-I-liked-it-I-think-and-now-he's-angry-and-I-made-an-idiot-out-of-myself-trying-to-apologize-and-this-all-sucks! There! Are you happy?"

"Wait, that's it?" Hana is on the verge of laughter.

"Shut up," Kiba mutters.

"You think you liked it. So you don't remember it or you were pretending he had tits or something?"

Kiba's blushing furiously again, he knows it.

"I liked it but he's another guy and he's Shino and I kind of want to do it again but I don't at the same time!"

"I'm going to translate that as 'I liked it but I'm an idiot.'"

"Bitch," Kiba mutters quietly. Hana laughs, but doesn't deny it.

"So I don't really see what the problem is. You liked it, so kiss him again."

"But he doesn't want to."

"Don't talk to me like I'm stupid, puppy-boy. And he told you that, yeah?"

"…no, not really. But I tried to apologize 'cause of course he's not going to like it and yeah, okay, I was being stupid but he just stood there like I was— was—was something, like he just didn't care, the ass, and just watched me while I made a total idiot out of myself—"

"Stop talking and wait a minute. Shino's an Aburame, Kiba, if he's hungry he'll mention food politics in the Grass Country, not actually ask for a sandwich or something. If you told him you were secretly the Fourth and marrying Tsunade to breed super-children to defeat the Akatsuki, he wouldn't actually have any outward reaction, except to maybe mention that unless you apply time-lapse jutsu, it's going to be a while before the kids are going to be very effective, unless you're hurling toddlers at them."

"But he's a boy!"

"Yep. So are you. I'm not, thank God."


"Kiba. You do know Aunt Sachiko isn't actually related to us, right?"



So Auntie Sachiko and Aunt Yuki aren't spinster sisters living together for convenience and company. Oh. It explains a lot, really, but it's still kind of shocking. Kiba had just thought that the clan traits hadn't carried through to Auntie Sachiko very strongly. He hadn't realized that they had been—

Kiba realizes that he's blushing again, which is kind of embarrassing. He's been doing it a lot, it seems. He really needs to stop.

It's weird. He hadn't ever thought about what his clan would allow, or approve of, in terms of relationships before, because it hadn't been an issue. Then it had been, and he hadn't realized that it actually wasn't. An issue, that is. Kiba's afraid he's not making any sense, even to himself, right now.

This whole thing's made him even more irrational than usual, he thinks. It's kind of obnoxious.

Not that it would come to anything. (Not that he's interested! But he might be, maybe. Kiba doesn't know what he wants right now, not really. Because he had liked the kiss, because it was Shino. But it was Shino.)

So yeah. Maybe he's over-thinking things, for once. And that's Shino's job, in their team dynamics. His is to react without thought, or at least not much thought. And he's not dead yet, right? So it must work at least a little. And Shino's way has its downsides as well.

For example, Kiba's kind of tired of debating this. Because he's not really getting anywhere, and nothing is annoying like running in pointless mental circles. Except maybe trying to think like Shino, which is pretty much the same thing, when you think about.

Fucking hell. And fuck Shino (and that idea shouldn't have any appeal) for not caring, because if Kiba's going to suffer, he should too. It's petty and childish, yeah, but that's not stopping Kiba right now. It's been far too long for this to have gone on, all this doubt and second-guessing and trying to figure out the utterly inscrutable pathways Shino thinks in.

So what does he want? That's something worth figuring out, Kiba thinks.

He wants to see Shino again, but not with all this awkwardness, all this guessing and discomfort and doubt.

He wants to kiss him again. Or at least, he wants a kiss like that to happen again. Because it had been really damn good.

But does he want to kiss Shino? He knows he likes to spend time with him, as friends, as annoying as he sometimes—maybe even usually—is. Despite it all, Shino's probably his best friend.

But there's a difference between best friend and boyfriend, and Kiba doesn't know what he thinks about that. Even knowing his family wouldn't care, not all that much, there's still that revulsion at the idea, even when the thought of kissing Shino (and it says a lot, that he can even think that now) isn't all that repulsive, and there's this inexplicable draw to the idea of Shino as a, a potential romantic partner. The idea is seductive, and kind of scary.


Hinata's worried. She doesn't know what was going on between Shino and Kiba, but it can't be good. Relations between them had been tense for a long time—they're opposites in a lot of ways, and it's always been hard for them to understand each other.

But she had thought they had mostly been over that. They still clashed over little, stupid things—that might be because they were teenage boys, though, Hinata has come to realize—but they understood each other. They were friends. The arguing was harmless, because it didn't really mean anything, and it takes a lot to break the sort of bonds teammates end up forming.

But they had never been like this before, even when their arguments had been at there worst. For a while, Hinata had been afraid that they would tear the team apart with petty bickering and a refusal to cooperate.

She had thought that that was over.

And now she's really scared. Shino and Kiba need each other, and she doesn't want to see them hurt like that, and that's even worse than the team being torn apart.


It is late, and Shino had thought that he had had the house to himself. He had crept downstairs to make himself something to eat—he still couldn't bring himself to attend meals with the family. There was just too much going on, too much that he had to deal with, and he didn't really feel like maintaining his poker face. Like this, he could do whatever he wanted—within reason—while he ate.

"Shino?" says a voice—he recognizes it as his father's—softly.

"Yes," he says, another useless answer to something that's not a real question. He can't seem to get things together, recently, and this whole nightmarish thing seems to be haunting him. He can't get it out of his mind, and he can't help but be reminded—over and over—that he's woefully unprepared, incapable, of dealing with this.

A hand falls softly on his shoulder, and he keeps himself from jumping, barely. He stills, and it lingers another moment, is withdrawn.

"I just wonder how you're doing, some days," his father says.

And Shino knows everything that means that went unsaid. It's a mild reproach (you never spend time with me anymore) and an expression of worry (Is something wrong? I think something's wrong, and you're not telling me) and a reminder that he is there (It's your duty to report an inability to work and If anything is wrong, I'm here and you can talk to me.)

He is used to his parents, to his family, not to Kiba. Not to misunderstandings, maybe or maybe not, and kisses he liked, but shouldn't have.

"I'll have to find some time to spend with you," he says.

"I know what it's like to be young and a ninja," his father says in return, leaving. It softens the blow of his previous sentence, says that he knows Shino's young and preoccupied with all that being a teenager is, understands. It says that he's worried, but that he trusts Shino to do the right thing. Under shinobi law, Shino has been an adult for years, and he will be an adult by civilian standards soon.

For once, Shino is almost disappointed that his father won't force him to accept his help. He doesn't feel ready for this, doesn't feel old enough, or mature enough, or capable of making the right decision, capable of being rational and reasonable and logical.

He realizes, with a start, that he doesn't want to. He wants to, for once, do something irrational, unreasonable, just because he can. Just because he doesn't.

And because he wants to kiss Kiba. Because he wants to feel like that again, connected and challenging and trusting and strong and vulnerable and aroused, and because it's Kiba, his friend and challenger and teammate, and just Kiba.

And he doesn't want a dutiful wife and a couple of children, a caring but passionless marriage. He wants— He wants—

Energy and unbridled emotion and enthusiasm, thoughtless statements rarely regretted and never dwelled on, caring and being cared for but also being loved, he wants to be challenged, wants to challenge, wants to give and take and wants someone he can imagine kissing, he wants—

Shino realizes he's shaking. He stops, and the kikaichu are buzzing underneath his skin, loud in his ears, the vibrations seeming to shake him to his bones.

He can't do it, do this. Can't break the expectations, his own and others', he's formed his life to. Can't break them at all, let alone so utterly and thoroughly, for something so stupid, something he knows he can manage without. Not for something like this when he knows, knows, that he's probably alone in his feelings, that he'll only get hurt worse by this, in the long run and the short run, that this is a vulnerability, a weakness, something to be denied, cut off at the source, eradicated, not encouraged and indulged—

He can't.

Or can he? He hasn't done anything like this before, not really. It's almost like he hasn't dared.

He doesn't know if he's never really wanted to, or whether he's just denied wanting to so much, so thoroughly, wiped it so utterly from his mind, that he wasn't aware of it at all.


The thought of Shino just won't leave Kiba alone.

It's making him grumpy and preoccupied. People are noticing, but, then, it's not like he's not trying very hard to hide it.

He really doesn't want to be here right now.

"I'm— I'll catch up with you guys later, okay?" he says, standing up to leave.

"Okay, sure," the group choruses.

"You've been a little out of it," someone says to his back as he leaves. They don't know the least of it.

Of course, they also don't know that he's kissed a boy, and been dwelling on it, and might (maybe, maybe not) want to kiss him again.


It's a hot day, and Kiba's splashing around a stream in the forest surrounding Konoha when Shino finds him.

"Hello," he says quietly as he jumps down into the slight clearing from his branch, landing lightly.

Kiba bristles, but responds. "Hey." His tone is guarded.

Shino wanders over to the water, dips his fingers into it, feels the kikaichu rumble and buzz at the sudden, shocking cold. He wonders what he's going to do. For once, he doesn't know.

It's a strangely peaceful state. Analytically, he knows that that's probably just panic, or shock, taking the edge off his emotions. He'll deal with the inevitable backlash later.

"How are you?" he says finally, because niceties are easy to fall back on, when he's not sure what to say, what to do. He's never been good at reading emotions, learning how to respond to what he can see.

Yet another reason why he shouldn't be here, why he's in over his head.

He makes his way to a large rock half set into the bank, takes off his sandals and socks (ignores the dotted scars on his feet from the kikaichu bugs leaving his system, because there's nothing he can do about them, is there?) and lets his feet trail in the water running past the far side of the boulder.

Again, the cold makes the insects suddenly slow and buzz, the cold leaching into his limbs. The heat's made them restless, like any other insect, and the cold slows them down, makes them mutter. It's soothing.

Kiba flops down on the rock beside him, looking vaguely belligerent, daring him to say something.. Shino ignores how the damp from his clothes starts seeping into his own, cold and damp. He ignores the sudden proximity of another breathing body, warm and solid next to his own.

He can't—

(But he can, and this isn't about what's possible, or reasonable, or logical.)

He turns his head, his glassy-eyed stare at the shifting water of the river hidden by the dark lenses of his glasses, habitually worn, refocusing on Kiba.

Kiba's looking at him, and he looks shamed and embarrassed at being caught staring (at the boy he had kissed) before it shifts into something challenging, something saying "I am doing nothing wrong, nothing that you can prove, and who are you to stop me?"

'Who am I indeed,' thinks Shino. He's not ready to do this, but that's not going to stop him now, not after all this, so he leans forward and presses a kiss to Kiba's lips—

And he knows it's clumsy, fumbling, he's not used to this—not used to doing this sort of thing and not used to kissing anyone, not used to kissing Kiba at all. And he can feel himself shivering with nerves, just a little bit. He had done it (he hadn't thought he would, hadn't thought he was this daring, this stupid) but that isn't going to be the end of all this, it won't solve anything, really, will only make a thousand more problems, maybe some he won't be able to fight or talk or force his way out of—

It's awkward, an arm trapped between their bodies, the rock entirely wrong, Shino's body twisted uncomfortably, his feet still chilled almost to numbness by the cold water of a fast-flowing stream in the woods somewhere outside Konoha, where he's kissing his best friend.

But he's still pressing his mouth against Kiba's, still wrapping his arms around his body despite it all, and no matter what he's ruined he's glad he's done this, no matter that Kiba's stiff and unresponsive against him, no matter that he's not reacting, which can't be good, can't be good at all—

And unreasonable grief pours through him, even though he knows, he knew.

So he pulls back, and talks, doesn't keep his own peace, for once. "I'm—sorry. It was a mistake, I didn't really mean it, I was—figuring something out. There's not really an excuse. That wasn't really an excuse. I was—testing, rechecking my response— I don't know what to say—

"I'm sorry, Kiba. It was all a mistake."

And then he's gone, the phantom sensation of a body next to his still haunting him. Shino's running, and he knows it, and he wonders if the tangled sensations of hurt and aloneness and happiness and success and sudden belief in himself are normal, are something other people feel, because he's never felt quite like this before.


Kiba's stunned, and he presses a hand to his mouth, where Shino's lips had been, before. Been again.

And apologies, rationalizations, replay in his mind. He snorts. His excuses were better—

even though they weren't any more real, weren't anything more than another excuse

And he thinks of the last week, of everything that's happened, and his mind's made up.

He only pauses to grab Shino's shoes before he's following after the other boy. Following his best friend, his teammate, the boy who just kissed him back.


He's somewhere outside Konoha, Shino knows, and he's sent his bug scouts out, to find out where, exactly.

He's had to stop, to try and bandage his feet. He was moving fast, and he had left his sandals at the beach—his dash through the woods has left the soles of his feet injured, abraded and slashed, and he needs to clean them out and bandage them up before he continues.

His recent break from sanity, from reason, was enough. There's no reason to risk potentially crippling infection, to cause himself even more pain.

Once the water he's boiled has cooled, he'll wash his feet off, then try to bandage them. Then he can try to gingerly pick his way towards Konoha. Shino's not worried about being lost—his instincts have a strong homing ability. As long as their central nest is in the Aburame compound, Shino will be able to find it.

He's doing his best to think of only the practical, only the necessary.

He's trying to think of only the impersonal.


Shino's insects buzz a warning as Kiba bounds into the clearing. Akamaru's with him, had been with him down by the stream as well, and so Shino's not surprised Kiba found him. It's hard to hide from an Inuzuka, when they're with their companion animals especially.. Shino hadn't really tried.

He hadn't really thought that Kiba would try to track him down.

Shino can't see him; he's on a branch partway up a large tree that's formed a natural clearing, heavily shaded, and Kiba's on the other side, with the tree trunk between them. His campfire and small med kit—the one he carried in his coat pocket, so it was always with him—are clear signs of his presence, even without him being visible, and he knows his scent will be clearly present.

"Shino!" Kiba yells to him.

"Kiba," Shino says, tone dull, and he's not sure if he was loud enough that Kiba heard him.

"Your excuse was a lie, you idiot! And a bad one. An obvious one. And who the hell do you think you are, running off like that? Really, just overall, what the hell were you doing?"

'Kissing you,' Shino thinks. He's bitter, he knows, but knowing doesn't help.

"Get your ass down here, bastard!"

Inexplicably, Shino does as he's told.

But he has to swallow his pained hiss as his feet hit the ground. He had forgotten about them—it's funny how well emotional pain works to dull all other ills.

"You fucking idiot," says Kiba, voice laden with disgust and horror as Shino slides down to sit at the base of the tree trunk, taking the pressure off of his feet nearly subconsciously.

Shino snorts slightly. Yes, Kiba's pronouncement would be correct. You fucking idiot

Kiba grabs the improvised pan of disinfected water and the med kit and stomps over to Shino. He's muttering darkly, but he's surprisingly gentle as he wraps his feet back up.

Shino's confused. Whatever he was expecting, it wasn't this. He doesn't know what to do. He doesn't want to hope.

When he's done, Kiba helps Shino up.

"Oh, God damn it," Kiba mutters, and then Shino's pressed up against the tree trunk again, Kiba kissing him, and so Shino kisses him back, just because he wants to. Just because he can.

Just because it's Kiba.