Shikamaru ducked his head as entered the dingy, smoky bar. He wrinkled his nose and spied out the person he was looking for in the far corner.

The back of a shaggy brown head of hair was sitting in the far most corner from the door. As he approached the table he noticed it was littered with empty shot glasses with five full ones sitting in front of the occupant. He slid in the bench across from him.

"Kiba, you were supposed to meet the Godaime three days ago. Why are you still here? Don't you realize the risk you are taking? Staying in a town where a major mission has gone down?"

Kiba looked up from the glass he was staring into, gulped it down, and smiled wolfishly. "You know why I love whiskey?"

"Kiba," Shikamaru sighed, "I hardly think this is the time-"

"I love whiskey because of the way it makes me feel: warm, everything more reasonabbble. I love whiskey." He laid his head down on the table smiling sloppily.

Shikamaru had noticed something was off about Kiba as soon as he walked into the bar. The village had sent him to discover what happened to the dog-enthusiast and bring him back home for a sound thrashing.

"Friends are lot like alcohol." Kiba said, his smile now gone. "You, Shikamaru, are not whiskey."

With that Shikamaru suddenly realized what was missing. "Kiba, where is Akamaru?"

"Shikamaru, you are like tequila. I like you, but I can never really get you. Tequila always makes me sick, but I love it too."

"KIBA! Where is Akamaru?"

"Naruto is like sake, rough going down, but a means to an end so-to-speak." He waved his arms in circles.


Kiba looked at him in question. He tossed a shot back as he thought about it.

"Akamaru? Him? He's definitely whiskey," Kiba looked at Shikamaru, his eyes started to well up, whether from the alcohol or the memory Shika couldn't tell. "A brother, always there to carry you through the hard parts of li-ife." He choked on his last words as tears started to run freely down his face.

"Kiba, you need to focus." There was a hard edge to Shikamaru's voice.

He glowered and slid a shot closer. Furrowing his brow he continued in his non-sequitor rant. "Fuck fucking missions." Shikamaru was taken aback by his reaction. Kiba downed a second shot.

"Kill you… killed and maimed… crushed under jutsus until you suffocate and die." Kiba let the pent up tears run.

"Kiba," Shika tried once more softly. "Where is Akamaru?"

"Where do you THINK?! He's gone and I have two shots left to drink."

"Where did he go?" Shika pried gently.

Kiba looked at Shikamaru like he was crazy. "The same place I'm sure anyone else goes once their lungs are crushed, their legs and head are torn from their body." Then Kiba started to laugh and laugh a hysterical laugh.

Shika choked inhaling his breath. Many believed Inuzukas often lose their minds after losing their dogs, the special bond between the two of them being so strong.

Using a soothing voice he tried to calm down the potential bomb he had sitting across from him. "What's so funny, Kiba? Why didn't you come home?"

Kiba stopped laughing abruptly and downed the second to last shot. He looked at Shikamaru really hard from his side of the table and said, "I wonder if you think I'm crazy too."

"Of course I don't, why didn't you come home?"

He looked at him again as if he didn't believe him. "To wait for the nine cocksuckers that killed Akamaru. To wait for them here, to try to come back and kill me, so I can get them first or go meet Akamaru."

Shikamaru watched and really saw who was sitting across from him. He saw his good friend coming apart at the edges, like the bar, creaking boards, rips in his sleeves, with smoke stains in the roof and burns across his skin.

Then in the door burst fifteen ninjas.

Kiba looked at Shikamaru with a pained expression. Shika grabbed the last shot. He downed it quickly and made a face. "You, Kiba, are indeed whiskey. Always more than I can handle, but always worth it."

Kiba grinned wolfishly, looking like his usual self. They both jumped into the fray.