"So…" said Naru, putting down her third bowl of ramen. She had, despite Kurenai's suggestions, had Shino take her to the ramen stand. It had been somewhat awkward to sit there, not knowing what to expect. " What do we do on a date?"
" I do not know." Shino replied quietly. " It is not a tradition within my clan and I have no experience with the subject."
" Me either." said Naru with a sigh. She had thought it was sweet of Shino to ask her out, but she was really hoping he would know what to do. " What was that thing your mom said about the elders?" she asked, trying to make conversation.
" When pursuing a relationship outside of the clan, the clan elders permission is required. Only so many outsiders can enter the family and have our bloodline stay strong." explained Shino with a blush.
" Oh." Naru said, taking a bite of noodles. " That sounds like you plan on getting married with me."
" That is one of the goals of dating." said Shino, adjusting his glasses. " To see if marriage would be possible."
" I think your kind of young for those thoughts." said the ramen chef, giving them a smile.
" I think it's romantic." said the ramen girl, giving Naru a jealous smirk. Naru and Shino blushed deeply.
" Uh…and…one more question?" Naru said, twisting her tail nervously. " Um…when your mother was giving you all those orders, she said not to 'attempt copulation' or something? What is that?"
Shino blushed a neon red and began sweating profusely. The ramen girl giggled and the chef gave Shino a sympathetic look.
"I-I…" Shino stuttered, unable to form a word. Naru giggled. He was cute when he was nervous.
" Never mind, I guess." said Naru, returning to her ramen. Shino sighed, calming himself down. " So what do you want to do?" she asked. " Since we don't know what to do on a date, we could go train or go on a run or go bother Iruka-sensei or have more ramen or something you want to do or talk or something."
" I believe that it is traditional to talk." said Shino. " What should we discuss?"
" Hmm….ah!" said Naru, a longstanding question popping into her head. " How do you control your bugs?"
" There are various techniques." Shino explained, face lighting up. Naru thought he would be more comfortable discussing bugs than anything else. " The most important is using chakra to guide them, which is used to direct the swarm at close range…."
Shino launched into a lengthy explanation of the techniques, with Naru listening in fascination. It had always looked so easy, but there were many steps and techniques. While she listened, every few minutes or so a small bug would fly to Shino and crawl down the neck of his coat, departing a minute or two later.
" What's with them?" interrupted Naru, pointing our a arriving bug.
" You can detect it?" said Shino in surprise.
" Yeah. I can see it and hear it flying." Naru replied.
" They are messenger bugs, the smallest insect used by my clan." explained Shino. " They carry information and messages between us, allowing for communication between the entire clan at once. I am currently carrying out several conversations, being briefed about our new insect supplies, and being told by my mother to let you talk about yourself."
" You want me to?" asked Naru. Shino had seemed to be enjoying talking about the bugs.
" I believe I should let you." said Shino, adjusting his glasses. " It would be impolite for me not to listen."
" I'll try and go slow enough to make sense." said Naru, smiling.
" Slow enough?" asked Shino, confused.
" Since I move quicker I talk quicker. Unless I talk slow, even with my chakra stopped, no one can understand me." explained Naru, a twinge of sadness in her voice.
" If you would…could you demonstrate how quickly you talk?" said Shino.
" OkayItalklikethiswheni'mnotslowingmyselfdown." said Naru.
" Thenwewillbeabletocommunicateeffeicently." said Shino, surprisingly matching her speed. It took her a moment to get used to him. " My clan uses faster vocalization for more efficient communication with our kikai. I was also slowing myself down."
" Really?" said Naru, smiling brightly.
After a conversation to fast for others to understand, Naru felt thrilled. She'd never been able to talk normally, and she found it very enjoyable. They talked about how fast she could go, the First Gate, how she had to shampoo her tail or it got matted, her claws, Shino's kikai, ramen, how Sasuke was stuck up and Kiba smelled bad, training, ramen, how strict Toumusi was, and ramen. It had gotten late, so they decided to go home. Shino was told by the ramen chef it was a good idea to walk Naru home and did so, continuing their conversation.
" My apologies for not knowing what to do. Social situations are not my forte." said Shino as they arrived at Naru's apartment building.
" Well, I'm a girl. I should have known what to do." said Naru, giving him a supportive smile. " I had fun talking, though. Next time we should go running too."
" That would be acceptable." said Shino. They stood for a moment in silence.
Naru may not be well versed in relationships, but she knew that you kissed at the end of a date. Unfortunately, she was the shortest girl of her class and Shino was the tallest boy, which meant it would have been awkward even if Shino made a move, which he didn't seem to be doing. Naru sighed. She wanted to get one part of the date right, even if it was only the last part.
" Goodnight, Naru." said Shino in his detached voice.
" I-uh, there's one last thing we have to do." said Naru before Shino turned. " At the end of a date your supposed to kiss me."
" Oh." said Shino, tensing visibly. He leaned over awkwardly, pulling his high collar down. Naru stood on her tiptoes, meeting him partway. Their lips made contact and for a moment, Naru felt a pleasant cold shiver run though her. She pulled back, smiling.
" G-good night, Shino-kun." said Naru, blushing deeply. She walked up the stairs towards her apartment, leaving Shino standing there. Had she waited a moment she would have noticed he fell sideways to the ground.
It was nearly midnight when Shino arrived home. He made his way towards his room, but found his mother and father waiting.
" I assume it went badly." said his father.
" No." replied Shino, curious to why he would believe that.
" Then how did you injure your cheek?" asked his mother. Shino put his hand to his cheek and winced. There was a bruise on it.
" I believe that I sustained this when I lost consciousness." Shino stated. His patents looked at him confused. " We were not sure of custom, but Naru believed that a kiss was a traditional ending to a date. Likely due to stress, shortly after the kiss I lost fainted."
" I see." said Toumusi. " Was the attempt successful?"
" I…believe so." said Shino. " She stated that she enjoyed the experience and I found it to be acceptable."
" Are you sure that you would find her an acceptable mate?" asked his father. Shino fell silent for a moment, considering his response.
" She is, unlike most females outside our clan, not afraid of our insects. I find her presence pleasing and believe she feels the same. And, finally, her genetic advantages would be highly beneficial to the clan. My conclusion is that she is a likely prospect." he said definitively.
His parents nodded in agreement, validating his argument. For the Aburmae, what he had just said was highly romantic.
" How do you think it went?" Sakura asked Ino. " I doubt Shino was very interesting."
" Yeah. He probably got bugs in the ramen." said Ino. " I hope Naru's not too put off."
" It's too bad bug-boys so lame." said Sakura, sighing as they arrived at the training grounds. " Naru could have used a boyfriend."
" We could too." said Ino. Sakura and Ino looked downward and gave heaving sighs.
" Sasuke-kun…why?" Sakura said in despair.
" She's the only girl that doesn't want him." Ino replied. " I guess he likes being snubbed."
Click, went the lights in their heads.
" If we snub him too…." said Sakura excitedly.
" He'll fall in love with us like with Naru!" said Ino, squealing giddily. " We'll have to completely ignore him!"
" But Naru did better than that!" said Sakura, thinking back. " She punched him! What will trump that?"
" Kick him in the crotch." said Naru, landing by them. " You two seen sensei?"
" No." said Sakura. " How long were you there?" she asked, hoping Naru had not overheard them talking about Shino.
However, Naru didn't seem to hear. She simply walked over and lay in the grass, staring upwards with a contented smile. Ino and Sakura could swear they could see hearts forming over her head.
" Bug-boy…did that?" whispered Sakura in disbelief. " She looks like she just got kissed by Sasuke-kun or something."
" Don't forget, she's weird." Ino whispered back.