Next Time

She leaned against the compound and took a deep, deep breath.

Okay… knocking is obviously out of the question. She held the breath and glanced sideways at the door handle. How many doors had she seen in her lifetime for Kazeka…Hokage's sake…whatever. She hung her head and released the breath, deciding to ignore the fact that she had taken the care to lure sensei out of the compound for two hours and twenty-one minutes exactly, ensure that her brothers were sufficiently preoccupied without the distraction seeming related to her, develop a plausible excuse for not being at home if they wondered, and sneak entirely unnoticed to his compound just to stand in front of the door, hand trembling over the handle, and spaz out about talking to his sensei and his team so badly that she ran and hid in these flower bushes. What am I going to do... okay, chill out, umm…options. Her practiced gaze scanned her surroundings, counting entrances, landmark proximity, estimating heights and accessibility to tenths of inches. She clutched the jacket and closed her eyes in concentration. First option: back door: risks- premature confrontation, locating room… spazzing out again, pluses- straightforward, safer. Second option: windows; risks- finding window without apprehension, accessibility, perceived as, well, a stalker I guess, uninvited company, pluses- less risk of undesired encounters…I guess that's all. Third option- she sighed, wrung the poor jacket in distress- run away. She let her head flop to her knees. "Okay," she muttered, "let's see who sleeps on the ground floor."

"It's been a loooong time, well, okay, so a week, but, that's seven days, right, so that's…a hundred fifty…"

"Yip! Yip yip yip!"

"thanks, eight, a hundred fifty and eight hours…is that right?…who cares," he rolled over to his stomach and let the pillow share his anguish.

"Whine, yip, yip?"

"Yeah, I guess so…I'm a little worried…" KNOCK KNOCK. "Yeah?" No answer. It had to be Shino. He kicked his legs off the bed and went over. "Whad'ya want?" They stared at each other and then Shino stepped forward. Kiba stepped back. Shino stepped forward. Shut the door. "Uhhh?" Kiba stepped back.

"We need to talk. Sit down."

"Whine." Akamaru walked sideways, keeping Shino in view, and hid behind Kiba's legs. Truthfully, Kiba wanted to hide under the bed too but he risked a response instead.

"'Bout what?" He shivered as Shino's glasses caught the light.

"I got a memo from the Kazekage."

"Who knew…" Temari was strangely entranced by the scene in Kurenai's room. "He sure knows what he's doing," she though it courteous to turn away at this point and cast her eyes up. "Okay…second floor," her eyes drifted to the tree again. The little, fragile, twig of a tree. Damn. Then there was the wooden arbor on the other side. The flower laden, plywood, flimsy arbor. Damn! She chewed her lip and hiked her skirt up. I need to invest in some shorts. She mounted the arbor in a single leap. It creaked and sagged slightly. 5 seconds tops…4…3…2… she jumped for the roof.

Silence spread between them. The additional red on his cheeks continued to deepen and he squirmed.




"you clearly have feelings for her."

"Uh, well, yes, but…"

"Kiba." Kiba shut his mouth and gulped. "I'm not trying to rat you out. It's not like you're going to do anything irresponsible together. I just wondered if you wanted to…" Shino gulped too, "discuss it or anything."

"Did sensei?-"




"Heh heh heh!"

"Yip yip!"

"Hm hm hm!"

"Ha ha ha!"

They all laughed together for a few minutes and then sat there smiling.

"Sorry, I'm too weak-hearted to listen, Kiba."

"Hey, no worries! I can talk to Hinata, or sensei, or Kankuro, or Akamaru, of course."

"Hmm…by the way, Kiba, you haven't been carrying…" The other boy started and stared at his teammate. "Where's your ja-" THUD! The two boys turned their heads to the roof slowly and then to each other.

"I'm not just…"

"No, I heard it too."

"Wait!" Kiba's eyes widened as he dropped fluidly to all fours and his nose twitched. Shino rolled his eyes behind his glasses.

Wag your tail now, loll your tongue out. As if on cue, Kiba opened his mouth slightly and squirmed about, still sniffing.

"Yip! Yip yip yip yip yip!" Kiba squinted and crawled towards his open window.

"Are you sure?" he turned towards the dog and then back to the window forelegs…arms…up on the sill. A canine grin flashed across his upturned face as a nose met his and a startled aqua gaze connected with his slanted pupils. "Temari!" he picked her up around the waist and set her down.

At least he didn't howl. Shino remained silent as Temari's head whipped around and she spotted him.


"It's okay, Shino's not as…protective as Gaara. Oh, hey! You brought my jacket back!" His overwhelmingly pleased grin distracted her from Shino for good.

I wanted to bring you something else too. Kiba looked slightly puzzled when she didn't offer the jacket.

Oh, yeah…He leaned forward, cupping her face in one hand and finished their interrupted kiss.

Oh good god Shino looked away quickly, focusing more intently on Akamaru (who was stalking a sock) than he ever had in his life.

"Thanks," Kiba whispered against her cheek. They sat down on the windowsill and were quiet for a while, smiling and blushing.

"Temari?" She looked up.

"Would you like me to show you the front door?" Kiba laughed and she blushed and escaped to a careful examination of her feet.

"Yes, please, Shino."

Epilogue: She closed the door quietly behind her and glanced at the clock. Sensei would be back in eighteen minutes. She padded towards the kitchen, not sure whether or not her brothers would be back yet. She was getting orange juice out of the fridge when something caught her eye.

"Aah!" she spun around. "Ga- Gaara?" She squinted. He was sitting stock-still. She took a step forward. "GAARA!" She was right! There was lipstick on his cheek.

"Hey sister," he blinked and smiled. "That date you arranged for me with Sakura went really well."

How did he know it was me…He got up and walked out,

"Thanks," he added over his shoulder.

"You're…welcome?" she asked the dark kitchen.