A/N: Hey, there. Hope ya'll enjoy my little take on the world of Sakura.
I do not own the characters from this, or any other, anime. I am not nearly cool enough to take that blame.
Tsunade sat at her desk glaring out the window. She was beginning to feel irritated, but she knew that she could not lash out at the woman sitting across from her. She sighed and ran a hand through her long blond hair. She had so much work to be done, not that she wanted to do it. But she needed to get started at some point. The sooner she got her work done, the sooner she could crack open the bottle of sake that had taken up residence in her desk. Besides, her work would also be a welcome distraction to the nonsense that she was having to listen to at the moment.
"Let me get this straight," she spoke coolly, wanting the woman opposite her to catch her annoyance. "You are asking the Hokage to become involved in your clan's politics? Do you realize what a move like this will cause with the other clans? They'll think I'm playing favorites." Her honey-colored eyes flashed with angrily. Her apprentices knew this look, and they would have known to back down. Unfortunately, her guest did not know her moods.
"Hokage-sama, we are not requesting you get involved in our politics; it's just that...well, he refuses anyone we offer, and we are out of prospects." The woman spoke sharply. She had obviously caught onto the Hokage's anger, and was having difficulty quelling her own. Her son would pay for making her grovel. Tsunade sensed the woman's distress and slumped back into her chair. She reached into her desk and brought out her hidden stash of sake.
"Tsume, have a drink with me and explain your situation." The residing head of the Inuzuka clan relaxed in her chair and looked to her companion who sat on the floor beside her. Kuromaru gave one deep bark, then stood and trotted out of the room. Tsunade glanced at Tsume with an arched brow.
"He is going home; he'll let the pups know where I'm at, and to not wait up for me." Tsume grinned a sly wolfish grin. She had heard of the Godaime's drinking prowess and wanted to test her. She hoped that by loosening the old woman up, perhaps she would be more receptive to hear about the Inuzuka clan's plight.
"Now, Tsume," Tsunade grinned back as she poured their first drinks, "tell me what Kiba has done now."
"Man, am I worn out..." a rather disheveled brunette threw himself to the ground at the foot of a tree at the edge of the clearing that acted as his team's training grounds. He was breathing heavily and sweating profusely. There had been an unexpected heat wave in Konoha, and it was terribly hot even for mid-August.
Inuzuka Kiba had shed his ever-present fur-lined coat long ago, and was now contemplating removing his mesh shirt. However, he knew that this show of skin would not bode well for his more sensitive teammate. Hyuuga Hinata, probably the meekest kunoichi to ever live, should be glad that he was so thoughtful, because he was dying. The sweat was pouring from his head into his eyes, even with his forehead protector in place. He rubbed his hand across his face, feeling the sensitivity in his two triangle-shaped facial markings, and let a low huff escape his lips.
"Quit your whining, it's not that hot." Shino, the heir to the Aburame clan, landed near him to lean back against another tree with his arms crossed over his chest. He had not shed any of his layers of clothing and was still covered by his heavy coat with the hood raised to obscure his hair and most of his face.
Hinata plopped down next to Kiba. She too had shed her purple and tan coat and had trained in her mesh shirt. Much to Kiba's surprise, the shy Hyuuga had worn shorts that came to just above her knees instead of the usual blue capris. "I-It r-really is h-hot out", she stuttered. Kiba couldn't tell if she was blushing or if she was flushed from the heat.
"Yeah, bug-freak, just because your scary ass can't feel the heat doesn't mean we can't."
"Well, then, shall we call it a day?" Shino asked calmly. Of course he wouldn't rise to Kiba's jabs; his attempt at baiting the bug-trainer into an emotional display fell on deaf ears. The biting comments had ceased to bother him long ago. That, and it really was too hot to fight.
"Shino, are you going to give Kurenai-sensei a report on our progress?" Kiba asked suddenly.
"How is she d-doing?" Hinata whispered. The team had had little time to practice with their sensei since the birth of her son. And, though the boy was nearing 3 years old, Kurenai was still wary of leaving him for long. Her team often found themselves training and even leaving for missions without their sensei. Naturally Shino had stepped up as team leader, so he was often the one who stopped by her home in order to report on their activities.
"She and Asuma-kun are doing well," was all Shino offered before turning to head to said teacher's home.
"Oh, my, I-I have to m-meet Naruto for d-dinner", Hinata shot up, realizing the time.
Kiba chuckled and waved as she ran off in the opposite direction. It's about time, he thought.
"Well, Akamaru," he glanced down at the large white dog that lay in front of him, "ready to get home and listen to the next round of bitching from mom and Hana."
"If you'd quit being an insolent pup and listen, they wouldn't be so loud," Akamaru stated while standing and shaking his fur.
"Man, not you, too." With that, the two headed toward home, where they knew they were in for a long evening.
Within minutes, the two were traipsing in the front door of Kiba's ancestoral home. "Oi, mom, what's for dinner," Kiba called walking into the kitchen.
He was answered with a loud woof from beneath the table. Kiba glanced over at the gray and black wolf-hound who had been enjoying a nice nap in his favorite place. Akamaru trotted up and reached over to nip at the elder dog's remaining ear playfully and was promptly swatted by a large paw.
"Can't you two pups ever do anything quietly," Kuromaru growled swatting Akamaru again. The younger dog had wriggled his way beneath the table and was trying to groom his mentor's previously nipped left ear. "I swear, I don't know how you two can be considered decent shinobi." The older dog huffed and flopped his head back onto his paws allowing Akamaru to continue his grooming. "Your mother is in a meeting with the Hokage and may be detained most of the evening, and Hana is still at the veterinary clinic. Both say not to wait up."
"Hmmmph, I wouldn't anyway." There was a short silence, in which Akamaru even looked up from his task before returning to it just as quickly.
"You know that they only mean the best for you and the clan."
"No, they mean the best for the clan, then me. They haven't once considered how I feel in this."
"Yes, they have, that is why they are allowing you to choose instead of arranging it for you. Your mother knows all too well that you will not be happy unless you choose for yourself."
"I know that she thinks that she's helping, but..."
"Kiba, you have obligations to your clan. You will head the clan very soon, and you need to be married in order to do so. Our clan works like a pack, and the Alpha male needs an Alpha female to assist in clan responsibilities." Kuromaru sighed. This pup just would not listen to reason. "Your mother has come to terms with the fact that you do not wish to marry within the clan..."
"It's not that, dammit, it's just that none of the Inuzuka girls care about me, they only care about the status they'll gain by marrying me. I don't even want to get married. I like being a shinobi, and being married will only complicate things." Kiba did not like getting angry with his mother's companion, but he sounded just like everyone else, and it was so annoying.
"This is why your mother is meeting with Lady Tsunade."
The elder dog stood and walked over to Kiba. He knew he should not tell the boy this, but Kiba's scent was full of anger, anxiety, and frustration, and it was putting the old dog on edge.
"Your mother has gotten the clan elders to agree to search outside of the clan for a suitable mate. They feel that even a strong kunoichi could possess the traits necessary to assist in heading the clan. Tsume is meeting with the Hokage in order to make a list of suitable kunoichi."
Kiba stood in the kitchen with his mouth gaping. He had never thought that the elders would allow him to marry outside of the clan. This was extremely surprising, but he wasn't thinking about that at the moment. He clenched his jaw and straightened his back. "Well, when mom decides that she is finished planning my future and comes home, tell her that I'm not meeting anyone on her list. I AM NOT MARRYING, AND THAT IS FINAL!!" With that he stormed down the hall to his room.
Akamaru wriggled even closer to his mentor and gave a low whine, "He'll come around."
"I hope, for his sake. His mother will not take this insubordination for much longer, and neither will the council. With each girl that he denies, he forces them closer to not giving him a say at all."