She had that look again. The same look she wore whenever she stared at him fell across Hinata's face the second he walked into the room and it drove Kiba crazy. Wrinkling his nose in disgust, he ground his teeth together while growling low in his throat. What's that little squirt got that I don't? he wondered.
The dog curled up on the floor at his feet sensed his anger and loosed a nervous whine. Kiba Inuzuka placed a calming hand on his best friend's head and turned away from his teammates, Hinata Hyuga and Shino Aburame, as they greeted the new arrivals. Naruto Uzumaki had his usual dopey grin plastered across his face and Kiba didn't even want to look at him. He'd arrived at their favorite nightspot with Sakura Haruno, who only accompanied him because they were on the same team and couldn't stand to be around him otherwise. With them were Shikamaru Nara and his teammates, Ino Yamanaka and Chouji Akimichi, and Rock Lee, from Gai's squad.
"What's she see in him Akamaru?" he whispered, stroking the dog's cream-colored fur. Akamaru yipped, a reply Kiba interpreted as a vocal shrug of the shoulders. Kiba sighed and took a sip of the beer growing warm before him. She's fawned over him since we were kids and he still barely even knows she exists, he brooded as their friends approached.
"Hey guys! What's up?" the squirt beamed, leading the pack and waving to Hinata and Shino. No, not really waving to Hinata, Kiba amended, just at her. Naruto was too dumb to realize how much a genuine acknowledgement would mean to her. Even now he still carried a torch for Sakura. "Sorry we're late; those directions Kiba gave me were really confusing."
"Naruto got us lost three times on the way," Sakura pointed out in a haughty tone.
The squirt struggled to hide his embarrassment and Kiba couldn't help but grin. Thank you Sakura.
One-by-one they slid into the big circular booth they had reserved for their party, the cushioned vinyl squeaking with each movement across the seat. Somehow Kiba found himself sandwiched between Ino and Naruto. Great, he thought sourly as he gazed across the booth at the blushing beauty he longed for while his rival for her affections chuckled like an idiot beside him. Now she won't even look my way the whole night. He took a much longer swig of his beer.
They made small-talk at first, mulling over what they'd like to have; Chouji wasted no time ordering a platter of chicken wings for himself. Lee, ever the gentleman, ordered a drink for Sakura. Naruto spent ten minutes cajoling the waitress into letting him get a bowl of ramen. Kiba ordered another beer and snorted. Idiot.
Eventually the conversation wound its way into the realm of work and they regaled each other with tales of their latest missions in the time-honored tradition of friendly one-upmanship. Of course Naruto's story had been so full of boasting and exaggeration, Sakura had to fill in the blanks with all his bumbling and how he inevitably just made things worse. In Kiba's opinion, there was a point where never giving in just made Naruto look like a bigger idiot. Too bad Hinata doesn't see it that way.
"So Shikamaru," Sakura began slyly, "I hear you've been spending a lot of time with that girl from the Sand Village. Could there be romance blossoming?"
"No way!" Ino interjected hotly, nearly sending her daiquiri across the table. "He only does that because he has to."
"Whatever," Shikamaru sighed as he crossed his arms with characteristic disinterest, dismissing his teammate's outburst. "Dating's too much work; it's such a drag."
Kiba rolled his eyes; that was a hell of a statement coming from a guy who practically had to beat the ladies off with a stick ever since Sasuke jumped ship.
Hinata spoke up then, her soft voice trembling slightly. "W-what about you, N-Naruto?" Her cheeks flushed. "Is there… someone you're seeing?" The hope in her lilac eyes broke Kiba's heart. When was she going to get tired of waiting for him to notice her, really notice her, the way Kiba had?
"Well… not exactly," Naruto answered, still wearing that same goofy grin he got whenever he talked about Sakura. "But I do kind of have my eye on someone…"
"Oh." Hinata looked crestfallen as her eyes turned downward to the tabletop, and that hurt Kiba even more to see. He'd have killed to be sitting next to her then. I'd take her hand and give it a reassuring squeeze, he told himself, gulping down his beer.
Deciding to go in for the kill, he slammed the bottle down, turned to Naruto, and asked, "Oh yeah? What's her name?" A predatory smile spread across his lips as Akamaru yipped encouragingly, sensing his companion's hostility. "Do we know her?"
Naruto fumbled for words. "Oh, uh, y-yeah… you know her…"
"So what's her name then, squirt?" He injected his voice with sarcasm. "She must be someone real special for you to notice her."
Naruto fiddled his napkin, trying to avoid their scrutiny while throwing furtive glances in Sakura's direction. Of course he was too chicken to speak up. Hinata's eyes shimmered in fearful anticipation of being forever snubbed. I'm sorry Hinata, Kiba thought at her, but you have to realize the truth about him. He'll never love you like I do. Naruto was saved, however, and the moment was gone as the waitress brought another round of drinks to their table. Kiba took a swallow from his beer, tasting only the bitter disappointment that his rival still endured in Hinata's heart.
Eventually, after several more rounds, the conversation wound down as the buzzed girls started to notice the music more and more. Ino slammed down a shot of rum and leaned over the table to expose her cleavage. "Hey Shikamaru, you want to dance?" she asked, eying him seductively. As if the bird's-eye-view of her knockers wasn't invitation enough; she'd been getting soused all night.
"Are you kidding?" he asked, rolling his eyes. "Don't be an idiot."
"Fine!" Ino frowned and the next thing Kiba knew, she'd grabbed a hold of his jacket and dragged him out of the booth onto the dance floor, eliciting a whine from Akamaru. "Come on Puppy Boy, I'll just have to sshow that lazy bum hwhat he's missing!" she growled and slurred at once.
With those words, she smiled invitingly at Kiba and started to grind on him to the beat of the music. Uncomfortable at first, he soon relaxed as some of the others ventured out after them. He could smell the lust boiling up from her, mixing with the alcohol-induced haze that made his head feel like a balloon, and he felt himself stirring as Ino rubbed against his crotch. That deep-seated, instinctual part of him cried out for satisfaction. He was too buzzed to try to suppress it and found himself enjoying her erotic movements.
He didn't much care for Ino; sure she was hot, but at any other time Kiba thought she was kind of a bitch. He couldn't always fight animal instinct, though, and each time he felt her press herself against him, each time he felt the soft swell of her breasts or curve of her rear brush over his body, he found her more and more sexually desirable. By the time the song was over, he was totally into her.
"You want to get out of here?" she asked, her slender hands on his belt.
Without thinking, he answered, "Oh yeah."
Evil rays of sunlight stung Kiba into wakefulness the next morning. Cracking one eye, he found himself staring at an unfamiliar clock reading nine thirty a.m., on an unfamiliar nightstand. His eyes snapped open and he sat straight up, feeling nauseous as his throbbing skull threatened to implode in protest.
He lay in a strange bed in a house that was definitely not his own. Scattered about the floor were his clothes, strewn amongst torn open condom wrappers, a woman's bra and panties, and a dress crumpled up in one corner. Kiba's heart raced as he surveyed the room.
"Mmph… what're you doing?" someone groaned tiredly beside him, nearly throwing him out of his skin. The shape of a head rose up from the pillow next to him, beneath a wild tangle of long blonde hair. A thin hand brushed a strand aside, exposing a single, pale blue eye, and brought memory rushing back into Kiba's mind.
They'd gone stumbling out of the bar last night, groping and grabbing each other, until they'd arrived at Ino's home. No sooner had they entered the front door than he was all over her, stripping her down and covering her with wild, lustful, drunken kisses. His lips wandered blissfully over the smooth curves of her breasts as he played his tongue over her nipples, eliciting gasps of delight from her.
They'd barely made it to the bedroom before she produced the first rubber for him and he eagerly pushed her down onto the bed, spread her legs apart, and penetrated her. The sensation of being inside her, feeling her every pulse and shudder around him, had been incredible. He could still hear her moaning and gasping as he thrust over and over again, putting her on her hands and knees and taking her from behind as the bed rocked noisily. They must have gone through at least a whole box in the heat of passion.
Passion was far from what Kiba felt now. He felt ashamed of what he'd done, worried Ino might see more than he did in what they'd "shared", and terrified that Hinata would find out and what she would think of him. She probably wouldn't want anything to do with him; Kiba hung his head and avoided Ino's gaze.
She sat up and rubbed a hand over his bare arm. "You were amazing," she cooed and his shoulders slumped as he felt pressed beneath an inescapable weight. "Something wrong?"
He opened his mouth to speak but any words died in his throat. What could he say? That last night had been a mistake? That she meant nothing to him? She'd feel used if he told her that. Sure, it was true, but even he couldn't be that cruel. He decided to play dumb. "What… what happened?" he said at last, feigning ignorance and confusion. He hoped his voice didn't sound as false to her as it did to him.
"Hehehe…" She nuzzled up to him, resting her hand over his groin and he felt himself stirring anew at her warm, soft touch, like lightning through his nervous system. He fought to control the reaction. "You walked me home…" she said with a sly grin. "Then you showed me your special All-Fours jutsu, hehehe." As she laughed, he felt her breasts brush against his arm, her nipples tickling over his flesh.
Kiba blushed as she began to stroke him. Leaping out of bed, he gasped, "Where's Akamaru?"
"You left him at the club," she said, pouting as he scrambled to retrieve his clothes.
"I have to go find him," he insisted, dressing quickly as she sat up, the bed sheet wrapped tight around her thin body. Without looking back, he raced from the house, thankful for the excuse and leaving behind a very frustrated Ino.
Akamaru hadn't been waiting for him outside Ino's house. Kiba wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not and right now he didn't much care; he wanted to get far away from Ino, and fast. He also wasn't at the club when Kiba arrived. He hadn't really expected him to be, his friend was smarter than that. He raced through the streets to his house, expecting to find the big shaggy dog curled up outside the door, but Akamaru was nowhere to be found.
His heart hammered against his chest. Calm down, Kiba told himself. You know his scent, so just sniff him out. Dropping down on all fours, he snuffled experimentally at the air. A veritable rainbow of smells graced his nostrils, ranging from the familiar tangy, beef-jerky and barbeque of his and Akamaru's home, to the cloying putrescence of week-old garbage a quarter mile away.
Loping through Konoha's streets on all fours, he followed Akamaru's distinctive aroma all the way back to the club and away again, all the while wondering what he would do about Ino. Maybe he could just pretend it never happened? Yeah right, and maybe Naruto would become the Hokage.
Eventually he crossed paths with Shikamaru, walking side by side with Temari, the ambassador from the Sand Village. Skidding to a halt, Kiba vaulted himself back up to his feet.
"What are you doing Kiba?" Shikamaru asked tiredly, hands jammed into his pockets as he eyed his friend indifferently.
"Looking… for Akamaru," he answered, gasping for breath as his heart raced after the sudden stop. "You seen him?"
"Hinata took him home with her after you left with Ino last night," Shikamaru replied with a sly grin.
Kiba's eyes widened with shock. "She… she took care of him for me?"
"Yeah, wasn't that real nice of her?" Kiba felt lower than dirt and his shoulders slumped to show it. "I don't think she saw you walk out," Shikamaru said in his most reassuring voice. "Besides, she's so hung up on Naruto; you really don't have to worry about losing points with her."
Kiba's eyebrow twitched; reminding him of that didn't help.
Shikamaru shrugged his shoulders. "Women are troublesome anyway; fighting for their attention is such a drag."
With that, he and Temari continued past the despondent Kiba. As they receded into the distance, he thought he faintly heard Temari demand, "So, I'm troublesome, am I?" followed by Shikamaru's nervous laughter.
His head hanging low, Kiba made his way to the Hyuga residence, his plodding footsteps feeling heavier by the minute. Hinata, he thought, you deserve better than me. I'll never live down what I did last night. Please, please forgive me.
At last he found himself before the Hyuga Clan's estate, staring up in awe at the expansive structure. Summoning up all his bravado, he reached out a hand and casually knocked on the gate. A moment later, it slid open a crack and out peeked Akamaru, poking his large shaggy head through the opening.
Kiba sank to his knees and threw his arms around his friend's neck, hugging him tightly. "Hey boy!" he said excitedly, managing a genuine laugh as Akamaru licked his face. "Did you miss me? I'm sorry I left you last night." He squeezed the dog, joyfully ruffling his fur. "Did you have fun with Hinata?" Akamaru barked happily, an affirmative.
"Kiba?" a soft voice asked. Kiba looked up into Hinata's face and he felt the weight of the world press down on him once more. Akamaru sensed his friend's emotions and let out a nervous whine of his own. "I… I hope you don't mind that I brought Akamaru home with me."
Kiba stared dumbly up at her, into those lilac eyes so open and caring. She blushed under his gaze, turning her eyes away as she chewed nervously on a fingernail. "Th-thank you," he said at last. "Thank you for taking care of him."
"It… it was my pleasure…"
Kiba's vision blurred as he looked deeper into those eyes that haunted his dreams. She was so kind-hearted and pure, he wanted to throw his arms around her and never let go. So he did.
"K-Kiba!" she gasped as he flung his arms around her waist and buried his face in her stomach. "What…?"
"Hinata," he sobbed, voice muffled by her shirt. "I'm sorry!"
"All these years we've been together, I never told you how I feel, and last night I did something bad, something really stupid." Gingerly, she reached down and patted his head, stroking his hair with her gentle hands. "I love you," he blurted out, holding on tighter, as if afraid she would shake him free and run back into the house.
"I know," she said softly.
Kiba drew his face back from her belly and looked up into her face, so full of understanding. "You… know?"
"I could see… with Byakugan… I could see the way you looked at me when you thought I couldn't… I could see the love in your eyes, a devotion you only show Akamaru. It made your feelings clear to me."
His heart sank. So she'd known all along, and she'd ignored him the way Naruto ignored her. What did he expect? That they'd go riding off together into the sunset on Akamaru's back, fade out? Get real. He must really be as dense as the squirt.
"I also know where you went last night," she added, and his heart nearly stopped altogether. "I… I'm not angry," she insisted after seeing his reaction and he could see forgiveness in her eyes. "I know you were drunk, and I know you hate yourself for it. It wasn't your fault."
"Hinata…" he breathed, gazing up at her, his heart tearing itself to shreds inside his chest. She really did deserve better than a dog like him.
She disengaged herself from his arms and went down to her knees before him and she drew him into a warm embrace. Kiba could feel her heart thudding against his chest and her hair smelled like freshly cut flowers. His cheeks burned as she hugged him and, carefully, he put his arms around her, enfolding her slender shoulders. In a voice that spoke of years of withheld emotion, she said, "I love you too!"
He was taken aback. "H-Hinata?" Her small hands clutched at his jacket and her warm cheek pressed against his chest. "You…"
"Yes!" she breathed.
He blinked, unsure if he was dreaming, dead, or something else as hot tears streamed down his cheeks. Regardless, he held onto her tightly, not wanting to give up what she'd just told him. At last, he asked, "What about… Naruto?"
"I… still admire him," she admitted hesitantly. "But a girl can only wait so long…" She gave him a squeeze. "He never once looked at me the way you did… and I realized… if I could get over Naruto… then you could get over me… I didn't want to lose you."
This time Kiba gave her a reassuring squeeze. "Never again… I'm sorry Hinata. I swear… I'll never stray again."
"Good," she said, pulling back and wiping tears from her cheeks. Then a sly smile crept across her soft features, a look totally alien to her. "Now when do I get to see your special All-Fours jutsu?"
Kiba's jaw dropped incredulously as Hinata giggled merrily at him, hiding her smile behind the palm of her hand.