Until Next Time

"Yip, yip, yip!"

"Mmmm… not now, I'm sleeping…"

"Grrwl… Yip!"

"Hmm…aaah. Okay, okay I hear you, stop." He yawned, stretching.


"I know I promised. Come on now. Get off and let me get dressed."

"Hmm…" She blinked herself awake from her previously half sleep state to look at the red numbers in front of her. 5:59 they read. She sat up stiffly. Time to get dressed… I did promise. Mumbling, she flung herself towards her closet, hating every cold step.

"Chill out or you'll wake up Shino. He hates being waken up before 6:30 and you know that. He'd kill me if you woke him up." He shivered as they passed Shino's closed door before persuading the back door gently open and stepping out into the golden-blue dawn. "Hmmm," he sniffed, filling his lungs. "What a good smelling morning."

She tiptoed down the hall, painstakingly careful as she passed Baki sensei's room. She let her held breath go as she reached the back door. She looked at the table, wondering if she should leave a note or not. She decided no, she was probably late already, it would be time wasted.

"Hey… sister." She whipped around to see a bleary Kankuro at the kitchen door.

"Where ya goin'?" Was he even aware of what he was saying? He had this goofy grin and his purple accented eyes were slits. She was surprised he was standing.

"I'm going out, Kankuro." This was better than a note. "Tell Baki sensei, okay? I'll be back before noon, alright?"

"Out where?"

"On a date, Kankuro."

"A date, huh…" he yawned. "Okay, I'll tell sensei. Have fun."

"You too, Kankuro." Grinning, she slid their back door open and let the bright, damp morning embrace her.

"Get that corner, will you? Do something helpful and stop bossing me around. You sound like Mom." He cast the white dog a rueful look as Akamaru primly took the said corner of the tarp in his mouth, pulling it taught. "Good." He stood. "Now all we need is the tub."

"Yip, yip, yip-yip!"

"Oh please. There is so not a difference between the tin tub and the green tub. I mean they're both made of tin, you know that right, they're the same size, and the green one's inside anyways. I'm not going to risk going past Shino's-"

"Whine, yip, whine whine."

"It is not deeper!"

"Whine, whine?" He sighed, glaring down at the large, pleading eyes. "Whine?"

The walk was pleasant enough. She just wanted to be at her destination desperately. She hadn't gotten a chance to see him, really see him, in weeks. That was too long for her. She sighed at the sun-speckled path as she tried to shorten their distance.
"Akamaru! Can't you wait? The tub will never fill up if you keep drinking from the hose!" Akamaru pranced over to him, deserting the hose to finish filling the tub. The green tub. "Which shampoo is it you like again?"


"I thought so!" He took the shampoo bottle and Akamaru's scrub brush over to the quickly filling tub. "You know… I think it is deeper." He scratched his wild hair, bemused.

"Kiba!" He turned towards the gate, canines becoming visible in an excited grin.

"There you are! Glad you could make it!"

"Sorry I'm late."

"You're just in time."

"So, what can I do?" She leaned over, hands on knees, while he kneeled on the tarp. He smiled again.

"Do you mind getting wet?"

"How wet?" Kiba was taking off his jacket and tossed it far from the tarp. He whistled, short and high. Akamaru came bounding from the shed with a towel between a grin like Kiba's. He tossed the towel to Kiba and leaped into the tub with a splash. "Wet, wet." He replied.

Temari ended up in Kiba's jacket because Akamaru soaked her with his first cannon ball. The jacket was warm but cool at the same time. It was also surprisingly smooth against her skin. Kiba turned from an even whiter, sud-soaked Akamaru.

"Do you want to try?" He was covered in soap himself and his arms were completely sud-gloved up to the elbow. "That's what you came for, right?" To learn how?" She nodded, rolling up her sleeves and kneeling next to him. He smiled and nodded encouragingly. She plunged her arms into the warm, soapy water. Kiba stood. She felt him standing over her as she scrubbed Akamaru's fur. "That's good," she said kneeling directly behind her, arms overlapping hers to guide her hands. "Now you just go like this…"

An hour of splashing, shampoo over-dose, and squealing later, Akamaru was lifted out and dried (more by shaking than by towel). The dog licked them both in thanks and excitement of being clean before running into Kurenai's plant beds to investigate the fauna life smaller than him. They were both slightly panting due to the sheer effort of wrestling with the small dog.

"Heh. You did pretty good for your first time. You did really good actually." He smiled. "You're better than me even."

She tried to focus on the smile instead of his slowly rising and falling chest, covered only by his mesh undershirt. "Hardly," she smirked.

"Well, I should clean up now before I forget, again."

"I'll help." They both tried to stand and both tripped on the slick tarp, landing hard in a tangled heap. Kiba raised his head.

"Oh!!! Sorry! Sorry-" he was lying on top of her, his head at a very awkward location on her upper half. He tried to push up, only to have his knees and hands slip, and fell onto her again. He scooted forward desperately, trying to escape their embarrassing position. Their noses touched. He tried to stand again. This time, gentle arms around his waist prevented him from rising. He was painfully aware of his chest pressed to her…. "Temari?"

"Kiba." It was not a question as his had been. It was a statement, as even as her aqua gaze along their noses. He felt her warm breath on his lips and her heart beat pulsing against his own. He turned his head to the side slightly, running his nose down the side of hers. The breaths got faster, closer. Closer, closer-

"TEMARI!!!" They both bolted upright, slipping and sliding in an insane attempt to get to their feet. A turquoise glare bored into both of them, an accusing glare set off by narrowed black outlines. " Temari." This one was meant to be sinister and guilt inspiring. It was both. Kiba winced. Temari was blushing in fury. "Temari what were you doing," his red hair bristled as he jerked his head at the ground, "down there," her blond head bristled too, Kiba whispered "sorry" again and a whimpering Akamaru ran up to him and leapt into his arms, "with him?" This was why Gaara could be Kazekage. He certainly looked it, arms crossed, looking down his nose at them.

"You don't need to be sorry," she muttered. "Gaara, it's none of you're freaking-"

"Oh, yes it is! Yes it is!" Gaara was leading her away now, grabbing her drying clothes as he stormed off with her. "It's Baki sensei's business too, and I want the-"

"I'M SORRY KIBA!!!" she shouted. Her eyes said maybe next time.

Will there be a next time?

I have to give you your jacket, don't I? He smiled.

Next time then, somewhere safe from little brothers. The last he saw was her content smile. The last he would see. For now. Until next time.