TITLE: Majority Rule

AUTHOR: Sharkbait

RATING: PG-13 for drunken teenage antics and Kiba.

PAIRING: Hinata / Kiba / Shino

CONTINUITY: During the Time-Skip


DISCLAIMER: All characters belong to Kishimoto Masashi. Who I'm not. Surprise!

NOTE: Second in a series of Hinata-centered fics. Prompt - Smooth.

o o o

clear liquor and cloudy-eyed

too early to say goodnight

o o o

Late July, two weeks after Kiba finally turns fifteen, and they stop teasing him (for awhile) about being the youngest. It's their first solo mission together since they made Chuunin, escorting some silk merchant to a city on the Fire Country border. Just another C-Rank babysitting job, and they breeze through accordingly, get their client there a full day ahead of schedule. "You kids are good," the merchant says, and hands a small money pouch to Hinata.

"Who you calling 'kid'?" Kiba sneers, before a discreet elbow from Shino can shut him up.

Then he gets a look at the size of their tip, and suddenly he's just fine keeping his thoughts to himself.

The trip back to Konoha is a long one, and the weather is hot, clear-skied, so they decide to make camp a few miles outside the city, in a field on the edge of the forest. Hinata builds the fire while Shino spreads their bedrolls out in a ruler-straight line, ten precise inches apart. Kiba rummages through his suspiciously clinking knapsack.

He pulls out a bag of yuzu-flavored candies and a bottle of shochu. "Who's up for a little celebration?" he grins.

Shino raises an eyebrow, but accepts the bottle anyway. "Nothing says 'fun' like metabolizing an overload of toxins," he removes the cap and takes a cautious sniff, eyebrow creeping higher. "Good quality toxins."

"My sister only poisons me with the best," Kiba unwraps a candy and bounces it off Shino's chest, then offers one to Hinata. "What do you say, Hinata-chan? Feeling adventurous?"

"O-Okay," she smiles, tucking her hair behind her ears, and pops the candy into her mouth.

"That's the spirit," Kiba plunks down next to her by the fire, and after a second's hesitation, Shino joins them (as if he would really refuse - as if the three of them weren't joined at the stupid idea as much as at the hip).

It's a nervous, exciting moment, standing at the edge of first and forbidden. None of them know quite what to do except plunge right in, hacking and shuddering and coughing. Hinata chokes so hard on her first swallow, her eyes water. "Are you sure Hana really isn't trying to poison you?" she asks.

He laughs. "Probably," he takes another gulp, pulling a face. "But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? It's like a character building exercise or something."

"Somehow I don't think Kurenai-sensei would agree," Shino says, but he's already reaching for the shochu again.

They take turns drinking straight from the bottle, passing around and around until they hardly notice the harsh taste, and their mouths burn tangy yuzu and liquor - until the shochu is half gone, and their heads spin like planets rotating, eyes full of supernovas, festival lights, fireflies. The night air is warm and soft, their mission is a success, and they are young and gloriously, dizzyingly drunk for the first time in their lives.

Everything is good. Everything is right.

Hinata and Shino sprawl giddy-fizzy-breathless on the rumpled pile of bedrolls, and struggle to identify constellations that won't hold still. Kiba is both too drunk to stand and too drunk to realize it, and staggers around after an unimpressed Akamaru, shouting something about wrestling and manhood and quit running away already, goddammit. "Kiba, please be careful!" Hinata calls out when he swerves a little too close to the fire again, then trips over himself and tumbles face-first into a heap. Akamaru gives a disgusted huff, and uses the distraction to vanish into the underbrush.

Kiba is unfazed by the escape of his target. He lurches up, and cheerfully barrels over to tackle Shino instead. "Your ass is mine!" he howls, rolling Shino right over the top of Hinata ("Oof!") and onto the lush green carpet of sweet grass.

They fall in a jumbled, gangly tangle of bodies, all legs and arms and rampant, drunken silliness. Shino is thinner, but taller and unexpectedly strong, and pins Kiba onto his back, glasses hanging askew. "My ass," he says with the careful precision of too much liquor. "Is not up for having. Especially by you."

Kiba waggles his eyebrows. "That's what they all say."

"You're a pervert," Shino pushes Kiba away, and sits back next to Hinata. "And insane."

The moment seems to need more wild pointing, so Kiba obliges; Shino and Hinata have to lean away to keep their eyes finger-free. "No, YOU are insane, because YOU are the one who's bundled up like we're on some goddamned mountaintop in Snow Country. News flash: it's summer! It's hot out!" to illustrate his point, Kiba rips his shirt over his head (his jacket is long lost in a tree somewhere), and flings it away.

Into the campfire.

"Kiba!" the air sizzles with the heat of Hinata's blush. She covers her eyes, and reaches blindly to catch a sleeve with the tip of her fingers, fumbling his shirt to safety.

It's only a little on fire. Kiba nonchalantly beats it out, then continues his thought. "Seriously, you guys, ditch the coats. I'm getting heatstroke just looking at you."

Crazy or not, Hinata has to admit he's got a point; it is hot out, and she and Shino are maybe a little overdressed. She lowers her hands and checks to see if anyone's watching, then tentatively unzips her heavy jacket - and sighs in relief as a breeze hits her undershirt and fishnet.

"You should listen, Shino," she says, all self-consciousness forgotten as she fans herself. "It really feels a lot better."

"Yeah, bug boy," Kiba chimes in, slurred around the edges. "Don't be shy. It's just us out here, and I promise not to look at your titties or nothing."

"How thoughtful," Shino drawls, but he's eyeing Hinata, how happily she's basking in the cool night air. How un-sweaty and un-miserable she and Kiba look. He sighs, and strips off his green outer jacket, folds and places it neatly out of harm's way, then lies back. He's slightly less stiff than a corpse. Slightly. "Satisfied?"

"Oh baby, you know it," Kiba clambers over with a grin. "Getting you down to only, like, nineteen layers...it's like a wet dream come true. In fact, I - I can't take it anymore!" he hurls himself back onto Shino, straddles him in such a clumsily pornographic way that Hinata goes strawberry red all over again. "You're just too sexy to resist!"

"Idiot," Shino says simply, and locks Kiba around the neck with his legs, yanking him backwards.

Kiba slams flailing into the ground, yowling as hundreds of kikaichu swarm over his worst ticklish spots. "Th-That's - agh! - that's right, you kinky bug freak! Give in to your twisted d-desires!" he's breathless, laughing helplessly, clutching Shino's legs like they're the only things anchoring him to the world. Hinata is giggling beside them, and Shino slides her an amused look, escalates the attack until Kiba is in convulsing hysterics. "All right, all right! I give! Stop, I give!"

"An unusually wise choice," Shino smirks as the kikaichu retreat into his body.

"Yeah, well," Kiba digs the shochu bottle out from underneath his back, and lays breathing hard, head propped limp against Shino's shin. "Your bugs may say no, but," his eyes glitter, wicked, as he rubs his cheek against one unsuspecting calf. "Your silky smooth legs say yes, yes, yes."

"Ugh!" Shino jerks his leg free. "That doesn't even make sense. And you're still an idiot."

"Tell me, big boy, you shave 'em just for me?" Kiba flutters his lashes, laughs when Shino shoves him all the way to the other side of Hinata.

She glances back and forth between them, more than a little alarmed at her new position as barrier / shield. "What...?"

"It's nothing, Hinata," Shino says. "Kiba has trouble accepting that some people are happy without any gorilla-like pelt."

Kiba wobbles to an upright seat, hands-raised, the image of fair and innocent debate. "Hey, hey, no reason to get uncivilized. I mean, WE certainly aren't here to judge your weird and unmanly lack of leg hair. Are we, Hinata?"

"Oh, um, w-well," Hinata smiles uncomfortably up at him. "If that's the case, I'm afraid y-you're on your own, Kiba."

He chokes on a mouthful of shochu. "What?"

"I...I don't have a-any hair on my legs, either," she stammers.

"Bullshit!" Kiba jabs a finger at her, and blindly thrusts the bottle toward Shino, who grabs it in absent self-defense.

"No, honestly, I don't - none of the Hyuuga do," she says quickly, redder by the second. "I-It's genetic. You can ask Neji."

Shino and Kiba exchange a look. Yes, that was right at the top of their to-do lists: go ask Hinata's genius, sometimes homicidal cousin about the state of his body hair.

"You're serious?" Kiba eyeballs her suspiciously. "You're not just saying that to stick up for the Hairless Wonder, are you?"

Hinata shakes her head and sits up, too fast. "No, really!" teetering, she pulls one pant leg up above her knee, and sticks her leg in his face, close enough he has to go cross-eyed to look at it. "See?"

Her skin is milky quartz pale, smooth as polished stone. Soft-looking. Without any real thought, Kiba reaches out and touches it. To steady her, of course. She takes a startled breath. "You're right," he says in amazement, hand curling around her thin, bony ankle. "I really do lead a team of hairless freaks."

Fingers a shade of pale just darker than Hinata slip alongside his. "Technically, since we outnumber you, you're the freak," Shino murmurs, hesitantly tracing the line of her shinbone. "And who says you're the leader?"

Hinata is flushed all the way down to her neck, lightheaded and wide-eyed. Their hands feel hot on her skin, calluses whispering against it. "Don't worry," Kiba grins, and the firelight gleams off his fangs, off his bare chest, Shino's glasses, and she has to look away or faint on the spot. "We're just verifying. For, you know, science."

Shino chuckles, dry as sand, and she can't help but smile along as well. The bottle is pressed into her hand, and she drinks slowly, deeply, eases herself back with tingles dancing up and down her leg. The smell of crushed grass and clover rises strong from beneath her, green and fresh, honey sweet.

This is the first time anyone's touched her like this. The first time Shino and Kiba have touched - intimately touched - a girl's bare skin.

It's unexpected and kind of weird, but it's nice, too.

Above her, the sky is so clear, it's unreal. Layers upon layers of stars are visible, bright next to faint and all shimmering together. She gazes up at the pearly trail of the Milky Way as Shino carefully skims long, slender fingers over her naked calf, as Kiba slides his hand up under the hem of her pants, to just barely touch the back of her thigh.

Their hands brush exploring the scars on her knee, and a heavy, neck-prickling moment ticks by. She feels the point where their knuckles intersect, feels one's gentle nudge against the other, the answering slide, the slow curl of fingers beginning to hook around one another. Then Kiba pulls away to ruffle the back of his hair, and Shino straightens his glasses, tucks his hands into his sleeves. Hinata ping-pongs a dazed look between them as cicadas screech in the background, blinking her way back to coherency.

Everyone is suddenly a lot more sober.

"Well, uh," Kiba clears his throat. If his face is a little red, well, that's just the liquor. "I think that's good and...verified now."

"Scientifically," Shino's eyes glimmer with reflected firelight, or maybe...humor? Kiba gets the distinct feeling he's being made fun of somehow. The giddy rush of shochu and girl-skin (boy-skin) softens that edge, though, and so he only punches Shino's arm lightly.


Hinata, a skilled diplomat, clears her throat. "Is that Cassiopeia or Cygnus?" she asks, louder than necessary, pointing up at a constellation. "I-I can never remember which one's the W."

A bald-faced lie, but she knows very well what intellectual bait Shino can't resist. "Cassiopeia," he says, and lies back next to her to outline its shape with a finger. "Cygnus is on the other side of Cepheus. See?"

Kiba cranes his neck to squint up at the sky, unable to stand being left out of anything (...which she may or may not also have known). He shakes his head.

"Shit, I suck at astronomy even when I'm sober," he grumbles, and flops down on Hinata's other side. Pride swallows almost as rough as the shochu. "Okay, okay, so where's this Cassio-thingy you guys are looking at?"

Awkwardness melts into the familiarity of Shino explaining things to Kiba, leaning in close to help him trace Cassiopeia's zigzag crown and the Northern Cross. Neither moves all the way back into his own spot afterward, lying instead with shoulders and hips brushing Hinata, who pretends not to notice and dozes off to the soothing drone of their endless, comfortable bickering.

She wakes hours later with Kiba wrapped around her, snoring into her shoulder blade, and her cheek pillowed against Shino's chest. She feels the insects' crawling thrum underneath like a living engine, and presses her ear to the strongest vibration, listens to them swarm around his heartbeat.

Shino's quiet, rumbling voice startles her. "I can move, if they...bother you."

"I don't mind," Hinata says, and her face is hot from embarrassment and humid summer air and something warmly fizzy-sweet. "I think i-it's sort of nice, actually."

A scarred, brown hand materializes beside her face, palm flattening over breastbone with unaccustomed tenderness, and Shino goes very quiet and still. He's never let them feel the kikaichu inside him, not like this. "Whoa," Kiba murmurs sleepily after a second. "That's kind of cool...in a creepy-ass way."

"Your approval is thrilling," Shino says, but affection and a small grain of truth blunt any sting.

"So's your face," Kiba yawns, and carefully doesn't move his hand. Hinata slips hers next to his, not quite touching, and savors this soft, close moment between them all. It's better than the successful mission, the extra money, better than the laughing, drunk fun. It's better than most things.

Morning comes hung-over, sunburnt, and hideously bright. Sometime during the night, Kiba's hand has migrated to just below Shino's navel, and Shino's fingers have tangled inside Hinata's shirt, trapped against her naked back. The boys blink to consciousness, share a groggy look, and then spring apart from each other at the speed of mortification. Hinata wakes up when her face bounces off the ground, and lurches upright, rubbing her cheek in bleary confusion.

Moving turns out to be a bad idea.

Hinata and Shino fumble for jars of aloe and pain remedies of any kind, while Kiba throws up in the bushes. A smug and unsympathetic Akamaru is the only one eating breakfast. "Oh God," Kiba groans, crawling to collapse on the pile of bedrolls. "Somebody kill me."

"Too much effort," Shino grunts, greenish-pale where he isn't scorched pink. "Ask again later."

Hinata sips water from her canteen so miserably, Akamaru gives her face a pity lick, and lets her lean on him a little. She scratches his ear as thanks.

They take down camp in slow motion, moving gingerly around their aching heads and roiling stomachs. Kiba stumbles through the woods hunting for his shirt and jacket, and Hinata's face nearly bursts into flame at the sudden realization she slept with a half-naked boy. Shino shoots her a thin, amused smile, apparently reading her mind (or stricken expression).

Kiba finds the shochu underneath Shino's wadded up green coat. "Hey, there's still almost half left!" he holds the bottle up and gives it a shake. "Hair of the dog, anybody?"

Hinata buries her face and moans. Shino yanks his coat away, and throws Kiba's knapsack at his head.

"I'll take that as a no."

Hinata peeks out from behind her fingers in time to see a flicker behind Kiba's carefree expression. "Maybe next time?" she offers weakly. Shino makes an indeterminate sound that might be agreement.

"Next time," Kiba looks sort of surprised, like he hadn't believed either would willingly ever touch a drop of liquor again. He blinks - then a slow grin creeps across his face. "Yeah, okay. Next time."

It's well after noon by the time they're packed and ready to leave. "We should go," Shino fiddles with his glasses, trying to find an unburnt patch of nose to rest them on (there is none). "We have a lot of distance to cover, and it's only going to get hotter."

"Oh God, don't say that," Kiba hitches his bedroll up higher on his back, and looks like he's going to be sick again. "Kill me now?"

"Still too much effort. But it's getting closer."

Hinata shields her eyes from the sun, and watches them head off toward the road, arguing mildly. Kiba bumps Shino with a shoulder, laughing, and Shino shakes his head, but one corner of his mouth is turned up in the faintest of smiles.

A cool wind blows across the field, ripples the grass like an ocean, sweet-smelling and green. It brushes the hair from her neck, and Hinata smiles, jogs faster to catch up with her teammates. Neither says anything when she slips between them, and shyly takes their hands into her own; Kiba just grins, gives her hand a squeeze, while Shino stares straight ahead and silently twines his fingers through hers.

Some things don't need words at all.

Lyric snippet from "Stolen" by Dashboard Confessional