Akamaru forced out a sigh as he looked up to watch Kiba grin and laugh as he picked up his date for the evening. Akamaru hated that woman.

Sasha was gorgeous for sure. And she knew it. And it wasn't that she was arrogant or snobby. In fact she was the perfect alpha female…except she sort of hated dogs. She was strong and recognized by many villagers - civilians and combatants alike – and her hair had the sleek appeal of cared for beauty without reaching the point of obsessive vanity like he had seen on many a kunoichi.

Akamaru sighed again and flopped into a laid out position as he turned his head away. Kiba had become smitten and Akamaru was certainly not going to get in the way of his partner's first love. Not this puppy.

He loved his master too much.

And Ino had set him up with the odd woman because she thought his master was feeling lonely- and Akamaru didn't want his master to feel lonely, ever.

Kagome was gorgeous. Akamaru knew it was so. Men of the village pack seemed to always pause and smile politely at her when she passed or they took the time to perform their gentlemanly duties like opening her door or helping her with her bags. He didn't understand how she was so shy, but he supposed that she was just like that.

And Akamaru loved that woman.

He had first met her one day while he was moping about the village on a self imposed guard duty. Kiba had gone out with Sasha and Akamaru had been relegated to filthy dog instead of beloved ninken once again. He had seen her stumbling about the seedier part of town, where the rude, homeless and desperate spent their days.

He had decided to watch her, walking along with her hands occupied- completely vulnerable.

He had been surprised to notice that the normally curt scavengers smiled and lit up when they saw her, laughing and calling out greetings to which she replied in kind. She gave kind words and even brighter smiles out to them, promising to bring them their breakfast tomorrow when she got the time and getting good natured responses instead of jeers or scowls, like Akamaru expected for their pride being infringed upon.

He had curiously followed her to a decrepit building, the perfect definition of colorful poor. With his eyes he could clearly see the falling steps and the crumbling mortar just as he was almost blinded by the fresh white paint and the obvious attempt to brighten up the yard with a garden. He had remembered the pressure of his ear as he twisted his head and it flopped against his neck, and he had just as easily remembered the laughter of children as they seemed to detach from parts of the building and rush to greet the bright woman.

She had laughed and gladly dropped her purchases onto the worn grass, opened her arms and hugged each and every child to her as they giggled and told her about their day and the funny little thing Blondie had done to keep them entertained.

Akamaru sat back and grinned, letting his tongue wag out of his mouth before he tensed when they all noticed him. He had very bad experiences when he was on his own- being such a big animal most adults were wary to let him around children, and most females were scared of his size. He sighed and turned to go, but then the woman smiled again and called him over.

He barked happily and loped over, his tail wagging as she laughed and held out her hand for him. He sniffed it excitedly, licking her wrist as the children's questions sounded in his ears and the woman patiently explained that he had feelings too and there wasn't any need for them to be so cautious.

He loved that place.

Akamaru got a tour of the orphanage, for that's what the poor house was, and he made many friends in the children that lived there under the woman's loving eye. Kagome Higurashi was a darling that snuck him cookie dough when the kids weren't looking- she didn't want them learning her bad habits. And she cared for each and every single person she met with this overwhelming warmth that left many stunned after meeting her, and Akamaru couldn't get enough of her.

Akamaru slowly got up and shook his head, the konoha hitaiate around his neck jangling and heavy as he lumbered to his feet and then looked around morosely. Sasha had been encouraged by Kiba to give him some affection, but Akamaru didn't like her scratching his ears. Her nails hurt since she didn't bother using the pads of her fingers like Kagome did.

He lumbered his way out of the inner courtyard, halfheartedly glaring in sullen dejection at Kiba as he practiced his accuracy, the older ninken gave him pitying looks as he made his way into the streets of the town, his eyes not needed for the familiar path before he ended up in the yard and then on the porch to push the door open with his nose.

Kagome smiled as he entered, but her smile was quickly lost to concern as she took in his dejected form. When he settled himself near the hearth she actually came over to sit on the floor beside him, and his eyes closed as she used the pads of her fingers to gently massage the flap of his ear, taking care to watch her nails as she neared closer to his sensitive eardrum. He wuffled out a sigh and turned his head more into her touch.

She gave a low murmur, soothing to his ears as she shifted to pay more attention to him. "Poor baby, I just might have a treat for you if you're up for it." And she gave him a gentle smile, her eyes closing before she levied herself up and made her way to the kitchen.

Akamaru couldn't help the uplifting of his spirits- Kagome was just like that. He walked into the kitchen only to be engulfed in the smell of meat and sauce- the famous BBQ she created from herbs she grew in the back garden.

He barked quietly, pleased, and padded his way to sit beside her legs and watch as she cut the meat into strips and glanced covertly around before slipping him the raw meat.

He wolfed it down quickly, licking his maw to get more of the spicy sauce that tasted too good to be true.

He woofed his thanks and licked at her hand. Her giggle was very welcome to his ears as he lay himself down over her feet, snickering as she lifted her toes to tickle at his underbelly and then huffed at him.

"You are one big lazy mutt, hmm? I think I feed you too much if you expect to just lay there."

Akamaru turned large eyes up to her, his ears drooping as he leaned his head against her calf.

She laughed. "Who could scold those eyes? But I need my feet- lunch needs to be ready soon."

Akamaru sighed and rolled off her feet, woofing out an exasperated breath because the floor was cold.

Kagome laughed as she set about tinkering in the kitchen- "So what has you so down today hmmm?

He didn't bother looking at her, starting at the old wood grain of the cupboard near him.

"What about…messed up training?"

Akamaru snorted.

"Okay, no then. What about screeching banshees of doom interrupting something? I saw a bunch of fan girls running around earlier today."

Akamaru snorted and rolled to look at her, amused but unwilling.

"A little close? What about…" her brows drew together and she stared at him. "Did you miss breakfast because they interrupted?"

Akamaru softened at her consternation, her scowl taking over her face because she was always one to worry about proper feeding. She muttered something about stupid chits and meal schedules as she plopped down a bowl of raw meat in front of him.

He enthusiastically finished it in a few bites before looking up into her worried eyes- "If you ever need anything, honey. Just come on over alright?"

Akamaru grinned and pounced on her, listening to her laughter as they wrestled on the floor (though he was very careful not to use his nin strength). Their laughter and happy barks were what greeted the children as they came in from playing outside.

And they joined in.

Kiba moped about the house, Akamaru didn't know what was going on, but he carefully avoided his friend as he snuck out. Kiba had recently been ignoring his advice and sometimes not even seeking it- Akamaru didn't think he'd want it now. So he usually left when Kiba was home (and the added threat of Sasha being around).

He had taken to spending a lot of his time with Kagome and the kids, and the other ninken had been amused at his devotion to the strange woman (she having passed by the fenced yard where he pointed her out- and she had a scent not many would forget) but they had accepted his need to feel needed.

Besides, Kagome had snuck in a slab of jerky.

Even the elders liked her.

So as he shouldered his way out of the compound and started his loping gait to the orphanage he gave no thought to his muttering partner and the glares the man was receiving from his pack.

Once he was far enough away he barked happily and jumped to where he saw Kagome- happily rubbing up against her as she smiled and scratched his ears. He was careful not to push too hard against her torso (she was saving money for the kids by eating less, he was sure, and it wouldn't be good to push her over and injure her since she was so fragile) as he basked under her affection and then set off to guard her on the way back to the orphanage from the market.

They walked happily together like this- a common sight now to the other market goers at this time of morning. Akamaru woofed out and pranced forward happily, making Kagome laugh as she shifted her basket to her other arm and reached out to grasp his hitai-ate. He suddenly pulled up short, feeling the small woman crash into his side with a gasp.

But he couldn't move.

Kiba stood feet in front of him, eyes dark and wondering as they stared at him and tried to apologize the best way they knew how. Akamaru and Kiba had always been the strange partnership under the Inuzuka roof- and they had developed differently for it. Akamaru had marked Kiba as surely as his owner had marked him. They were partners with a deeper communication- even with Akamaru's faltering human speech (he was working on it). And now Kiba was returning to their communication, asking for forgiveness because they'd been without each other's company for the longest ever (even when they'd been pulled apart for some punishment from a prank).

Akamaru nodded his head and watched as Kiba's shoulders relaxed, his dark eyes closing before he smiled.

When he opened then again Akamaru watched him start and stand up straighter- the canine grew confused as he turned to look over his shoulder- at Kagome. Akamaru blinked. She had become so much a part of his time that he never really realized that she was there, they were comfortable with each other.

But Akamaru sat confused; wondering why his partner gaped at Kagome so strongly, wondering why Kagome blushed and fidgeted and held none of her usual cheer and grace.

He suddenly, painfully, understood as she spoke. "I'm very sorry…for keeping your companion so busy." Her eyes squinted in regret- "I didn't even think to talk to his familiar before spending so much time with him."

Kiba continued to gape, his wide eyes almost insane with something feral as he watched Akamaru's friend. Akamaru finally growled and walked in between them, staring at his ninja before wuffing exasperatedly and nudging into Kagome. She recovered herself enough to scratch the pad of his ears, and he settled finally assured that she would be okay.

Kiba continued to stare, and then slowly it seemed that his faculties returned to him- his eyes narrowing with thought (Akamaru felt Kagome tense before she released a shaky breath, her instilled behaviour since he was certain that she'd once been in a battle and maybe even under the dubious care of an abusive male). His partner finally completely recovered, and he took in a breath before stepping forward. "My name's Kiba." He closed his mouth to regard her, and Akamaru grinned as he realized what Kiba was realizing.

Kagome was perfect.

"How did you meet Akamaru?"

Kagome completely relaxed, and Akamaru let a k9 grin form because he was what made her so happy and carefree. "Akamaru is wonderful, he actually escorted me through town before- and he comes to the house all the time. He's great around the kids."

Kiba startled, and Akamaru let his snout drop to his paws to withhold his human like laughter- as if Kagome could have birthed all the children she had in her house.

But now his partner was more tentative, and Akamaru could only hope it meant he was far more aware of Kagome's every action and would take greater care if he took to courting her. He needed to work for her affection after all- she wasn't used to people wanting to care for her on such a basic level. "Just where do you live that he feels you need escorting?" The worried note was blatant, and Akamaru smiled as Kagome blushed prettily and Kiba reacted to her shyness.

"I live in Sector D, on Toutoii, it's really not so bad." She rushed to finish as Kiba tensed. "We're in the better part actually, and some of the storeowners took a liking to the orphanage kids so we get pretty good protection."

Akamaru watched with a careful, gleeful eye as Kiba eyed the female predatorily- his very real canine instincts coming to the fore because this female was everything one should look for in a mate. She took care of the pack cubs and protected them- endeared the usually rough occupants of her neighbourhood to protect her and be loyal to her.

He watched Kiba swallow and take a step forward- "I don't really mind if he's been with you- he's been really lonely lately."

Kagome looked down at him, his puppy eyes looking up at her dolefully as she crouched and set about ruffling his muff- "Yeah," she said softly, showing how aware she was of her closeness to his ears, "I was getting worried that he wouldn't get out of his slump- the house just isn't the same without him and the kids playing."

Akamaru whined in regret and stepped into her body heat, carefully nuzzling against her to say he was sorry.

"Oh don't be like that." She chuckled, "It's not your fault. Everyone gets lonely sometimes."

Kiba cleared his throat, his heart speeding up to a steady thump in his hearing. "Was that where you two were headed?"

Kagome blushed, "Yeah, I hope you don't mind."

Kiba grinned, full out and fanged like he used to before he had to play pet poodle to that damnable woman. "As long as I can come along."

Kagome smiled. "That would be nice."

Kiba grinned and paced up beside them, walking along with them with alert senses and Akamaru. The ninken felt his muscles roll and stiffen with pride as he loped between the two humans - his partner was walking beside him again. He settled when they got to the grungier part of town, his amusement both clear and pained as he watched Kiba stiffen and regard the mess that had become of this sector since the invasion.

No konoha citizen wanted to bother cleaning the place back up.

But as they got closer to the orphanage Kiba would be witness to the shopkeepers and the attempts of the residents to brighten up their streets-

A shopkeeper hailed them, a bat in his hands as he glared at Kiba. "Kagome-san, are you alright?"

Kagome smiled- "Ii desu, Nagato-san. Kiba-kun was kind enough to escort me home."

The man nodded, keeping a wary eye on Kiba as the trio set off.

Akamaru grinned as Kiba tensed his muscles with awe and realization- endeavouring to keep his reaction from Kagome's awareness. His partner had decided then.

The thing that had always given Akamaru hope was that Kiba had taken things with Sasha slowly. It was one thing to fight your very instinct to resist mating and let your chosen one adjust to the inevitability- it was another thing entirely to waste all the time you could be mated in by going on civilian dates.

Akamaru had always thought they resembled their wolf counterparts more than domestic dogs- because the Inuzuka house was able to find their life mate. And nothing would stop them from securing their future with them. Once they knew and decided, their mate was theirs. And no one could interfere- Akamaru only hoped that Kagome would realize this meant she was gorgeous and that it didn't mean Kiba wanted her because he had to.

The thing was your soul wasn't born with a soul mate. Your destiny was determined by your choices and the actions that shaped you; so soul mate's were decided by the personality of the feral one. Their developed soul would cry out when it spotted someone that fit them in every way, someone that would compliment their every virtue and still their every vice.

Kagome was Kiba's match.

He woofed and then loped happily into the yard- rolling his weight under the kids when they squealed and pounced on him. He felt his tail smacking the ground with a dull thump as his tongue lolled out and he watched Kiba carefully close the gate after letting Kagome in.

The kids turned their exuberant attention to her- and she laughed as Kiba had to brace himself since the kids showed no discretion in who they tackled.

"Welcome to New Hope, Kiba-san. Just hope you don't regret it; the little monsters needed some new blood."

The kids whined and cried out plaintively. Kiba relaxed and grinned back at her, swiftly turning his attention to some kids to roughhouse and missing Kagome's reaction.

But Akamaru didn't- he grinned as a very becoming blush spread over her cheeks and her eyes sparkled while watching his master play with the children.

He enjoyed watching the pair dart eyes at each other and the way they communicated how much they enjoyed each other's company as they set about feeding the kids and then cleaning them up for bed.

It seemed that Kiba just fell into place at the orphanage, like Akamaru had, under Kagome's loving eyes.

And Kagome seemed to light up all the more for his obvious care.

It didn't hurt that the kids loved the both of them, and Kiba had quickly awed the boys and endeared himself to the little girls when he helped one of them with her dollhouse.

After the kids were all settled in and resigned to the care of the sandman, Akamaru padded his way into the kitchen after completing his rounds about the house to ensure all was locked down for the night.

He walked in on Kiba washing the dishes and Kagome drying them; their quiet conversation a soothing murmur as they exchanged smiles and gentle laughs.

Akamaru grinned as Kagome blushed while bumping her hip into Kiba's- her quiet voice murmuring a response to his playful inquiry. Kiba's eyes were feral and bright as he looked down fondly at the lady, and his muscles were tense with the very pulling sense of her rightness for him.

His hand quietly caught hers as she finished putting the last dish away, twirling her body into his so she ended up firmly pressed against his chest and locked there by his arms.

Her gasp was soft and feminine as she looked up to him, and Akamaru covered his eyes with a paw as he chuckled- it figured his master would turn into a romantic around Kagome. There was something about her that drew out every bit of one's charm and instincts.

He lay down across the door and watched as he murmured, watched as Kiba carefully lowered his lips to hers with every passing sentence.

When Kagome smiled and whispered her response their lips brushed, and a shiver visibly shook her spine as Kiba smiled and pressed his lips softly against hers.

Akamaru sighed and tilted his head as he watched the two as they shared their first kiss, their bodies soft and embrace warm as Kiba accepted Kagome and Kagome welcomed Kiba.

He breathed out a pleased sigh as he moved with them- they settled on the worn couch in the living room as Kiba carefully pulling her to him as they cuddled. It took a few minutes for Kagome to close her eyes and snuggle deeper into his warmth, Kiba carefully laying them down on the couch as Kagome smiled and kissed the side of his tan neck.

When their breaths evened out closer to the call of slumber, Akamaru growled out pleasantly as he settled at the foot of the couch, pleased when his master's hand reached down to scratch the back of his ruff.

"Akamaru," he spoke quietly, "Thanks."

Akamaru grinned and winked.

As long as Kiba kept Kagome happy he was glad he'd sort of played matchmaker. (And done a far better job than that Ino bitch had done with Sasha, thank you very much.)

The end.

The author has finished this one shot, and hopes that the readers are pleased with the proof that she hasn't fallen off the face of the earth. She would like to remind you all that she owns nothing and has nothing, but enjoys writing and sharing her ideas. She is also currently eating cup ramen and would enjoy hearing your opininions, comments, critiques, rants and/or ideas...

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Yes, it is probable there will be a second chapter or a sequel, but please don't hold your breath.