hi there. black panda here. this is a story I've been thinking of for a long time. I've always been a fan of Naruxhina, but after watching an amv... i was inspired.
Read carefully people. Cookies for those who get all of the hidden meanings. ;)
NOTE: this is the rewritten version. Thus, why some of you may think, "Hey! I've read this story somewhere before..." I apologize for all those who favourited this before and hope you enjoy this version.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any of its characters.
Thanks for reading! :D
-black panda OTL
Dogs will declare their unending loyalty to its master.
It was a concept I've had been musing for the past few days, after years of watching. A concept I've always feared to be true, watching them, or more specifically him.
Inuzuka Kiba, my feral and obnoxious teammate.
It had started small, during the academy days. Occasional glances at his purple haired classmate, or a small smile so uncharacteristic of his clan as he would watch her blush at the other side of the room.
Then after Hinata's match with Neji, he wouldn't leave her side. He wouldn't eat, or sleep, and only went away for personal hygiene and bathroom breaks. It was insane. As his fellow teammate, I felt responsible for his temporary lack of common sense, and would nag him all day.
I haven't talked so much in my life.
When did it grow into something bigger, bigger than a crush, or a simple attraction? When did, during the 3 years Naruto was gone, it intensified? Over 75.8% of his injuries can from being too distracted protecting her. From that overwhelming desire to prove himself to her, that there was more than one shiny knight in armor in the world.
I'd find him training at 4:00am, during my early morning stroll, practicing even after Akamaru had fallen asleep with exhaustion. Keeping himself conscious from soldier pills, and caffeine. He was a power-hungry monster.
I guess both of them were obsessed with Naruto, each in their own way. One was hopelessly in love with him, determined to prove herself to him when he returns, and completely blind to everything else around her. And the other was desperately trying to make her look around. A dog trying to prove that he could be just as good as him. It would faithfully follow her, and protect her, seemingly content despite the fact that she hasn't once looked back at her unknown companion.
There was more than one time when he would break, when his courage would stir up, and he would walk up towards her, a determined expression on his face. But then, he would see her train, would see her strikingly familiar, determined expression, as she would practice her gentle fist style. But then, he would remember her shyness, slowly melting away, only to return at every flash of orange she would see.
And he would always stop, before walking towards her again, a mischievous grin plastered on his face as he would offer to be her sparring partner. And she would always smile radiantly back at him, and shyly accept.
And as I watched them sparring, my fist would clench, and I'd turn my back before sparring with Kurenai-sensei.
Things past in a blur when he finally returned. I don't know how he managed to look casual, as Hinata began blushing again a thousand suns. How she would smile more, and look happier, something he could never do.
So many things happened. Team 10's jounin leader, Asuma-sensei, had died fighting an Akatsuki member. His killer and partner were both killed a few days afterward. Our platoon had encountered and were soundly defeated by an Akatsuki member. The Uchiha had finally defeated his brother, only to disappear before we could find them.
Then that incident happened. The leader of Akatsuki, Pain, had invaded Konoha. Our home was reduced to a large crater on the ground by the time Naruto came back. And then, the unthinkable happened. She confessed. Hinata had finally told Naruto her feelings, just as she began battling Pain. She lost, but survived. Naruto had made a peace treaty with Pain before he died, and all the dead were brought back to life.
Naruto was dating her now. And she looked happier than I've ever seen in her life.
And as I was helping Yamato-san with construction, I realized I couldn't find Kiba anywhere. With a jolt, I looked for him. It took hours and hours to find him, only to see that he was helping his father look for some missing civilians.
He looked all right, on the outside. But in reality, he was drowning himself in the work, taking so many sleepless nights that even his family became worried. But he would shrug off our concern with a smile.
I could see through it though. He was lost. He simply had no idea what to do. The dog had followed its master to her destination, and had no further use anymore.
Years later, I would look back at those memories, and swear. Because I would've done anything, anything to stop that question she was going to ask him.
"Ano… Kiba-kun? Will you be best man for my wedding?" Hinata asked shyly, although the excitement was clear on her face. Naruto grinned at Kiba, his arm held possessively on her waist.
Kiba froze for a split second, before laughing sheepishly. "Sorry, Hinata, I have a mission to do. It's going to be a long one. Sorry, sorry!"
Hinata looked crestfallen, and Naruto bristled.
"Hinata-chan is more important than some mission, Kiba!" Naruto exclaimed angrily. "You could find a replacement! Hinata-chan is choosing YOUfor best man, why aren't you being happ-"
A deep anger filled me. My eyes hazed over. My nails were digging into my palms. Naruto's voice was an annoying buzz in my ears. I've always loved bugs. They fascinated me. Their steady hum in my ears never failed to comfort me. But in that very moment, I hated that sound with utterly the darkest contempt I've ever felt in my life. There was a bug here. It stung my friend, and it needed to be squashed.
There was an intensely satisfying crack of bone against bone, a stinging pain in my knuckles, and suddenly, a tense silence.
Eyes swung around to face me, and suddenly I was in the spotlight. My breath was ragged. My palm was throbbing were the nails dug into the skin. My gaze flittered to Naruto, who was clutching a broken nose in one hand, blood streaming down his face, blue eyes wide.
Did… I do that?
"S-shino!" Hinata stuttered in shock, looking at me with such deep betrayal and confusion that immediately pulled me into shame.
"Shino… why?" Kiba whispered, close enough that only I heard him.
I looked at him then, adrenaline pumping in my veins. I took in his shocked face, the startling revelation forming on his face. Did you know? His expression seemed to ask. All this time?
I remember all those years ago. The hidden smiles. The hidden tears. The glances. The whispers. The hurt. The pain. And now.
Anguish filled me, contorting my face. You coward! What are you doing? Why are you still putting yourself up for this torture? Why couldn't you just tell her? COWARD! YOU DAMN COWARD!
I didn't trust myself to speak. Willing on a calm expression, I turned around and walked on. Past Kiba's demanding stare. Past Naruto's gaping look. Past Hinata's tears. Past the murmuring crowd that was beginning to crowd around the scene.
I closed my eyes, not wanting to see anymore. But I could still listen, as much as I didn't want to.
"Hinata… I'll check with the Hokage." Kiba's voice echoed reassuringly from behind. "Sorry Naruto, I guess I'm just being selfish. I'll be best man."
Eyes on my back. Hesitantly. Briefly. "Thank you, Kiba-kun." A whisper on the breeze.
It was the day of the wedding, and I haven't gone yet. I expect Naruto to bear a grudge against me for that punch. Hinata? She's too forgiving to hate me. Maybe I went too far. Hinata was my teammate too. She's probably confused.
But right now, Kiba the most messed up of our team. With a sigh, I dressed in some passable formal clothes, before going to the wedding.
Since Hinata was the heir of the Hyuga clan, the wedding was very elaborately decorated in one of the Hyuga clan's main rooms. Small and delicate lavender colored roses decorated every single table, and, to my relief, the ceremony was already done, and Hinata and Naruto were happily chatting with some of the other rookie seven.
Hinata looked beautiful, in a long white kimono with elegant purple designs. Her long purple hair was shiny and combed, and framed her face nicely. Naruto was, typically, wearing a black kimono with orange linings and white linings.
And Kiba? I couldn't see him anywhere.
Naruto's eyes hardened when he saw me, and Hinata looked up as well, smiling nervously. I walked casually up to the two, the other people not taking notice of the hostile air, and chatting energetically with each other.
"Congratulations," I said, risking a small smile. Seeing it, Hinata's own smile widened, and she sniffed audibly. Naruto sighed dejectedly, apparently willing to pull aside the incident for his wife's happiness.
"So, what was up with the punch, dattebayo?" Naruto asked quickly. Or maybe not. Hinata looked up at me as well with large lavender eyes, as if slightly afraid of my reaction.
"Where's Kiba?" I asked, ignoring the question. Naruto scowled.
"He left…." Hinata whispered, and I could practically hear the hurt in her voice. Kami, I hated all this drama. "I think he went home already…"
I nodded briskly and turned to leave. Stunned at my rudeness, Naruto paused before bristling.
"Oi, you haven't answered the question yet!" He exclaimed loudly from behind me, making heads turn.
I ignored him. I had to find Kiba.
Hours later, I found him, in one of the training grounds. He was training with Akamaru, throwing shuriken at the target post. I approached him slowly, hands in my pockets.
"Kiba." I stated. He glanced at me and snorted, and threw a vicious volley of kunai. They imbedded hilt-deep into the wood.
"For team work to actually work, we must be in touch with each other. It would not be good if one of the members is distracted." I said, heart pounding.
"Is that your way of asking what's wrong?" Kiba growled, and he looked at me. "Because-" he walked over to me until we were about face-to-face, teeth bared in a snarl. "Nothing's wrong."
He whirled away, and walked off, Akamaru at his heels. Concerned, I walked quickly over to him, pressing a hand on his shoulder.
"JUST FUCKIN' LEAVE ME ALONE!" He snarled, his voice breaking at the end. Brushing my hand off, he leaped onto Akamaru and they both vanished into the trees.
I remained there for a few minutes, motionless. Struggling to decide whether or not to go after him or not. Finally, shoulders slumping, I turned around to go home.
I should've gone after him that day.
Things were breaking. Team 8 was nonexistent. And they stayed that way… for a long time. Kurenai was off duty; busy taking care of her baby with Shikamaru's help. Kiba? We've had passing conversations, but nothing serious. I learned later on that he joined ANBU, and actually became a captain.
Hinata? She had a baby, a girl. Her name was Hikari, and had the same bright blonde hair of her father's and grew long and straight like her mother's. Although her eyes were blue, they were vacant like a Hyuga's. The village adored her, as the daughter of the village hero, of our Hokage.
It's true. Long after Sasuke had murdered Danzo, and rejoined Konoha, Naruto became Hokage at the age of 19, the youngest ever. Hikari became the light of Konoha. But that wasn't always a good thing.
She was kidnapped by missing-nins the day after Christmas. The village was in uproar, and the Hokage was prepared to bring the entire shinobi population out to find her.
But our strongest ANBU captain, Dog, interfered. He said that he would bring the ANBU retrieval squad, along with himself, out to find her. The mission was dangerous, as the missing-nins were fully expecting a retrieval squad. It was a heated yet short argument that the Hokage knew he had lost. Sasuke, although strong, wasn't one for stealth, and more for head on battle. The Hokage couldn't leave his village; it wouldn't look good to the other villages.
The ANBU were the best of the best, and they were finally getting the chance to prove it.
They left the next morning, to the cheers of the entire village. I was there too, hidden among the crowd. It was only when I was about to leave when I noticed it. My heart stopped. Next to the ANBU captain leader was Akamaru. He was larger and had red-tinted fur but it was him. My old team mate's companion and friend. To think, that the most strongest and loyal ANBU shinobi was Kiba himself. I wasn't sure if anybody else noticed. Hinata and Naruto were busy worried about their daughter. I couldn't see many familiar faces but I did see Neji's widening eyes, and Shikamaru's clenched fists in the crowd.
They were worried. But so was I.
And that concept that I had thought of, years ago, came smacking into my face again. But it was years ago…. The small and lonely dog had to have found another master…right?
I didn't know how long I stayed out in the entrance gates, but it must've been a long time, since by the time my father practically forced me back home, the stars were already in the sky.
The next day, when I went back to the entrance, I found another person there already. To my surprise, it was Hinata, wearing the same purple coat she used to have worn all those years ago. She glanced at me when she saw me coming closer, but kept her eyes focused on the road outside.
"You know.." Hinata whispered to me. "I never got the chance to thank them for risking their lives out there…. I've just been worrying about H-Hikari-chan.."
She turned towards me, and, to my shock, hugged me tight, her sobs raking her body. All the emotions she's been bottling up were finally pouring out in her tears, and I found myself wrapping my arms awkwardly around her, desperate to comfort her, to comfort myself.
"That ANBU captain with the large red dog…" she sobbed. "That was Kiba-kun, wasn't it?"
I said nothing, but she took that as a yes, and sobbed harder.
"All this time…. I've been so selfish, thinking about Hikari-chan. W-what if he dies out there? What if-"
"No. He wouldn't die." I said reassuringly.
"How would you know...?" Hinata asked, her large lavender eyes, filled with tears, looked up to me.
"Because… He-" I faltered.
"And Team 8," Iruka called out, his eyes focused on the clipboard. "Inuzuka Kiba, Abarame Shino, and Hyuga Hinata."
I blinked, and stood up. As I passed Kiba, I chanced a brief glanced at him. He was abnormally silent, a large blush evident on his face. He was staring at Hinata, who caught his eye and smiled back. He startled upright and left out the door.
Hinata looked shocked, and I shook my head with amusement, and followed him out the door.
Looking around, I saw, to my surprise, the rest of our classmates here as well. Why? Because it was rare to see us all here together. Kiba and Hinata seemed to have seen them as well, for Kiba nudged Hinata, his eyes on them too. Hinata's eyes widened as well, and we walked up to the group.
"I see," Kiba said suddenly with a smirk. "All 9 of this year's rookie genin are taking the chunin exam… I wonder how far we will get… Eh, Sasuke-kun?" he mocked.
"Pfft… You seem confidant, Kiba." Sasuke shot back coolly.
"We did a lot of training, we won't lose to you." Kiba replied distractedly as he watched Hinata out of the corner of his eye, who blushed seeing Naruto.
"Shut up!" Naruto exclaimed, bristling. "Sasuke might, but I won't lose to the likes of you!"
Kiba scoffed, and was about to say something back when Hinata interrupted.
"Sorry, N-Naruto-kun," she said softly, not seeing the taken back expression Kiba sent her. "Kiba-kun didn't mean it in that way…"
Kiba gave a semi-annoyed look at Hinata, but surprisingly fell silent.
It was raining. My cheeks felt wet. But wait, the sky was blue so how...?
"Man, it's been a while since we saw Naruto!" Kiba said out loud, glancing at the purple haired figure beside him. Usually, I would be annoyed at the exchange… Because they usually forget I'm here, and are off in there little world. But right now, I'm slightly curious to see how this conversation will turn out.
"Hmm…" Hinata said, her eyes on the ground. "He's kind of changed a bit."
"Yeah? Well, he is taller now!" Kiba replied, a hand to his head while looking at the sky and taking occasional glances at the back of Hinata's head. He does that a lot, I noticed.
"It's been two and a half years, after all…" Hinata murmured with a nostalgic smile, a blush evident on her face. "Even I've grown a bit taller..." Without noticing it, her index fingers began fidgeting, twirling around themselves as she talked. "I wonder if I'm a little more grown up now?"
"Nope, you haven't changed a bit." Kiba interrupted, a small smile playing on his lips. Seeing Hinata's shocked face, he continued quickly.
"You still fidget like you used to!" he grinned, gesturing to her hands.
"No way…" she replied, in a daze.
"Well, take a look at me! I'm more wild than I used to be!"
"I don't think you've really changed, Kiba-kun-"
"Oh yeah, Hinata! You always pass out whenever you see Naruto!" he said, interrupting her.
"I-I just wasn't ready to-" she stammered, blushing under Kiba's teasing smirk.
"Hey Naruto!" Kiba called out suddenly, a large grin on his face as he waved at a person behind Hinata.
Hinata jumped visibly with a squeak, and whirled around frantically, missing the downcast look in Kiba's eyes as his grin faltered. My eyebrows furrowed in concern but then it came back in full force a split second later.
"Just kidding," he said lightly.
"Really, Kiba-kun!" Hinata exclaimed in embarrassment.
Because he loves you, Hinata. He goddamn loves you.
I closed my eyes then, because my calm façade was cracking. Because I finally understood why he felt that way. It was all the little things, really. The same shade of red she would blush whenever she sees Naruto. Her kind and considerate nature she would always show, especially at that time when she offered Kiba the same medicinal cream she offered to Naruto after his match with him in the chunin exams. Her silky purple hair that grew longer and longer everyday, so enchanting that he would glance repeatedly at the back of her head.
Because the dog will declare it's unending loyalty to the first person to show it kindness. And that loyalty would never go away. It didn't matter how much the master ignores it. It didn't matter how much pain it would get by following its master. It didn't matter if the dog will even get anything in return.
"Because… he.." I choked suddenly as I saw a small figure coming closer out from the road. Only one. Bells rang out across Konoha as the sentries caught sight of it as well. Soon, most of the rookie nine and other faces I couldn't recognize came out, looking desperately at the rapidly coming closer figure.
As the figure came closer, I froze in shock, the world stopping in front of me. Distinctly, I heard people shouting as I fell to my knees.
It was raining harder now… somehow. Wet drops littering the ground below me.
I was depressed. Really depressed. The day Naruto comes back, and you would expect him to remember his comrades at Konoha. Why? Because if he didn't, that would really upset the person he is forgetting. I mean, he recognized Kiba and Hinata right away….
I looked up at the sky. The bright blue startled me enough into distraction. Wow… Why haven't I ever noticed this before?
"Heey, Hinata. Kurenai-sensei will be here soon…" said Kiba's voice as if from far away. "Oi Shino, do you have some water? We could really use some here!"
"The sky is so blue…" I said in a daze.
It was Akamaru, limping visibly as he came closer. His bright red fur was splattered with mangled fur, and dripping blood. Two of his legs were horribly mangled, and in a distant corner of my mind I marveled at the fact that he was still even walking. A wailing sound was evident from on top of his back, the same place where Kiba would normally sit.
Naruto exclaimed a shout of relief as he held the small bundle in his arms, Hikari crying as she held his finger tightly with both hands. Everybody smiled nostalgically as they watched the reunion with father and daughter. Medical-nins came in hurryingly, placing the unconscious Akamaru on a stretcher.
But Hinata clasped a hand to her mouth, her tears falling silently as she practically glared at the road. Pleading silently for another figure to come running. I'm sorry Hinata, he's not coming… not this time.
She screamed in anguish, hands clutching her hair, face twisted in agony. "NO! No. No no no no no…" she sobbed in denial, falling to her knees beside me, whispering to herself.
I heard Naruto hiss in shock, his eyes finally widen in recognition. As everybody's did, when they finally realized who Dog was.
Kurenai was silent in horror, as was everybody else. It was like a switch was finally turned on. Like as if they all just finally realized the consequence of that one innocent girl's survival. The fate of the 12 members of the ANBU retrieval squad… And their captain.
Dog's body was found mangled in the forest, an ugly red smear of a trail easily leading the way towards it. It was later found out that, after giving Hikari to Akamaru, Dog had crawled his way towards Konoha until giving away from blood loss and massive wounds to the chest. He had died with one bloodied hand stretched out towards Konoha, as if he had been struggling to go back even with his dying breathe.
Dog died on the first day of summer. The sky was supposed to be blue, but somehow it poured for days after his death.
Even now, standing in front of his grave, Hinata by my side, and the ground still wet from the rain, I still remember that idea. That concept I've had been musing all those years ago, after years of watching. A concept I've always feared to be true, watching them, or more specifically him. And now I know for certain. It was true. No matter how much I denied it.
Dogs will declare their unending loyalty to its master.
"He loved you, Hinata. And that feeling never went away."