Kiba came to the Academy the next day dressed in all black. He was so depressed... their pack's numbers kept falling one by one... and now there were only three members left in the entire Inuzuka clan. What was far worse, was he was the only male remaining... there was going to be a lot of pressure on him now, for in due time he would be the head of the clan.

What had been waiting for them at the hospital was not a welcomed surprise. He entered a room with the rest of his family, and on a table there was a large bag. Kiba had thought that perhaps there were some sort of tools in there at first... but he was totally wrong.

The medic-nin unzipped the bag, and the worst scent filled the air. It smelled like something was rotting... it smelled disgusting...

Kiba followed his nose to the bag... there lay his father. Bloodied, beaten, bruised... pale. Oh, so very pale and lifeless. He looked cold. Kiba's father had always been an active man full of life, not to mention he'd had an incredibly tanned complexion from all the time he spent outdoors.

It was all just a memory now. Kiba would never hear another word of praise from his father's mouth; not even the words "I love you, son." Kiba never had a chance to say goodbye to his ol' man.

As he stared in horror at his father's expressionless face inside the body bag Kiba said, "Dad... you suck."

Kiba would soon learn to hate his father for leaving them... for leaving him.

"Kiba, are you paying attention?"

"What?"

"I'm sorry about what happened, but please try to stay focused."

"Sure..."

Iruka sighed and repeated what he had previously said, "Okay... You are all here to learn the foundation of becoming a ninja and serving your village. We're going to start with the basics... are there any questions?"

Shikamaru raised his hand.

"Yes?"

"I'm bored... when can we do something fun?"

"Fun?" Iruka asked the boy incredulously, "Being a shinobi is not all fun and games... with time, I hope you all will learn this."

Sighing heavily, Shikamaru muttered under his breath, "How troublesome..."

The bell rang... that meant that it was time for a break.

Chouji brought his bag of potato chips over to share with Shikamaru. "Seriously, Chouji... not every break has to be a snack break, if ya know what I mean..."

Shikamaru glanced over at the boy sitting by himself in the back of the room. Standing from his seat, Shikamaru sighed, and began to casually walk over to the boy, hands buried deep in his pockets. Chouji followed Shikamaru.

"Hey."

Kiba remained silent.

"I heard about what happend..."

"Go mind yor own business and butt-out of mine." Kiba told him coldly.

"Just hear me out... my mom said that your dad was really cool... or something... Konoha's top tracker..."

"Yeah... he was... so why don't you leave me alone now..."

Shikamaru smiled, "Sorry, I can't."

"Why not?!" The mutt asked angrily.

"Because I don't like it when my friends are upset... Kiba."

Kiba stared at the deer boy for awhile. Why was he so hooked on making Kiba feel wanted... make him feel like he wasn't alone? What motivation could this boy possibly have for that? He certainly never had much motivation for anything else.

Shikamaru sighed, "Well... whatever... you can come cloud watching with me... if you want... Chouji and I always go there in the afternoon."

"What about your schoolwork?" Kiba asked curiously.

The Nara gave a nonchalant wave of his hand, "The work isn't hard... I just don't feel like doing it."

Kiba knew that if his mother ever found out that he wasn't doing his schoolwork that she'd probably make him sleep outside with the dogs. Of course... she'd been called away for a tracking mission early this morning, and Hana wouldn't be home from her medical training until later that night... So the question was... did he want to go hang out with some of the guys?

xXx

Kiba opened the door quietly, hoping his sister wouldn't notice that he was home after curfew. He tiptoed into the room and closed the front door without making a sound. The inside of the house was dark, covered in shadow. Kiba couldn't even make out the sofa that he consequently ran into.

The lights suddenly flicked on, and Kiba stared at his sister who'd been waiting for him. She glared at him while running her hand over her wolf companion's head. The reddish brown mutt was also glaring at him, but seemed to be enjoying Hana's touch too much to move.

"Do you have any idea what time it is, Puppy?!"

Puppy... he hated that nickname. Why couldn't they just call him Kiba? If they were going to call him "Puppy" his whole life, then maybe they should have just named him that. The word just irritated Kiba now.

"Look... I-"

"I don't want to hear your excuses! Mother left me in charge, but just because she isn't here and Dad is... gone... that doesn't mean you can just run off around Konoha by yourself!!" Hana slapped Kiba's face, leaving a red mark in the shape of her hand across his cheek.

He didn't flinch. He didn't wince. He didn't cry. He just stood there and accepted his punishment. Kiba didn't know that his sister would just let him off the hook so easily... it was probably in light of the events that had taken place recently, Kiba thought. Hana and his father hadn't been especially close, but Kiba knew it still cut a deep wound.

"Go finish your homework, and I want to see you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning without complaints!"

He nodded and headed up the stairs. Kiba smiled to himself. He'd gotten that Nara kid to give him all the answers to the homework... it was only a matter of copying down the answers. Shikamaru and Chouji weren't so bad... they were kind of nice to hang around, in fact. Kiba tured out his lights and rolled into his bed. Although he came home late, and Hana had punished him... and had his mother been home he would have been punished to a much higher degree... Kiba decided something...

He yawned turning onto his left side, "True friends are worth the trouble..."

Hey! Lookit! I finished! lol XD Sure took me long enough. Been kind of busy as of late... completed some other story, started a few others, began writing a sequel to one, and am in the process of writing my very own story... I'll be sending it off to the publishers as soon as I finish writing the next chapter. So yeah!

Oh and then... next week I'm off to camp... I might write something while I'm there... but it won't get posted until I get back the folllowing week. Well... Adieu!