Shino walked at the very back, behind Chuusha. She was behind Hinata, who in turn was behind Kiba, who was following Kurenai. She was leading them into the village from the training grounds, to Ichiraku's Ramen Shop. Shino had to admit, he wasn't usually one for ramen, but this was his new sensei and his new team, so he'd be polite.

After a few minutes, Chuusha drifted back to walk in step with Shino, but still the both of them were behind Hinata. "An Aburame," she said softly, obviously speaking to him. "This should be interesting, don't you think? Both of us on the same team should make for a bit of competition."

He glanced over at her once, but then returned to looking straight ahead as to follow the others. "Should it? I hope you and I can spar sometime."

"You do? I have to admit I would enjoy that. I'd like to see what kind of techniques you use."

"The same goes for me."

They both fell silent again, walking so in sync with each other that it was almost eerie. Both sets of eyes were turned to the ground, both sets of hands shoved comfortably into their respective owners' pockets.

At last, Shino broke the silence again. "Is your clan based here in the Leaf? I don't think I've ever heard of you."

"Oh." She tilted her head to the side, looking almost... in pain. Like she didn't want to talk about it. "Well, why should you have? We're not very big, or powerful. But yes, we live here."

"What kind of physical manifestation do you have? Of your Kekkei Genkai. You mentioned it earlier."

"Ah, that. I consider it interesting, though some people find it annoying. Technically anyone could learn it, but we guard it very closely."

"You mentioned it was called Sansei Semi. 'Acid Cicada'?"

"Well..." A light blush freckled across the bridge of her nose. "The name is a bit misleading. The Sansei are a special breed of cicadas that my family controls."

"I see. I would definitely like to battle against them sometime... see your fighting style."

"Mmm." She glanced down again, refusing to look at him. "With all due respect, Aburame-san, I don't believe that would be a wise idea."

"You don't? You just said a moment ago that you would like to fight against me."

"And I would. But... there are..."


"Yes. Complications. My clan must be very careful with our insects. Only if Lady Hinata's life is in danger am I allowed to unleash their full power."

"Your clan cannot control whether or not you choose to enter a battle with no limits, Hae-san."

"It is true, my clan cannot. But we serve the Hyuga clan. They have full say over what techniques we are permitted or prohibited to use. Most of our deadliest techniques are reserved only to protect the Hyuga."

"What would happen if you were to violate that? Surely they couldn't do anything about your choice."

"Of course you would assume not," she said quietly, looking down. "Most people would think we receive no punishment for using them."

"You are punished if you use them?"

"Only if I use them in any way other than to protect Lady Hinata."

"I see. Forgive me for being intrusive."

And he left it at that. He could tell by her breathing, body language, and facial expression (mostly her eyes) that he'd ventured into a sort of no-man's-land in conversation with her. He didn't like questions or comments that were too personal; apparently she was the same way. He'd made her uncomfortable, so he just dropped the subject.

The rest of the walk to the ramen shop was fairly quiet, save for Akamaru's nigh-constant barking or growling. He was out of Kiba's shirt now, walking alongside his master.

As they entered the ramen shop, Chuusha immediately took her seat next to Hinata. They sat mostly in the same order as they'd come in, with Shino at the very end next to Chuusha.

"So your clan serves the Hyuga clan. Am I correct?"

Chuusha let out a small sigh. "Yes, you are. We have been for a long time."

"How long? If you had to estimate?"

"Mm." She picked up a menu and pretended to be interested in it. "For how many generations? My father serves Lord Hiashi, and my mother serves his wife. My sister serves Lady Hanabi, my cousin serves Neji-san, and I serve Lady Hinata. I was told my grandparents served Lady Hinata's grandparents, and their parents before them. We have been with them for more than a century."

"Do you know how it came about? It isn't as if one day your clan simply began to worship them."

"I'd have to do some research, ask my father. He might know. I was never told the story."

"I see."

After Ayame, the shop owner's daughter, had taken their orders, Chuusha suddenly got very attached to her water, keeping the straw in her mouth at all times, even when speaking to Shino. "You haven't told me much about your clan. I've told you a lot about mine. I think it's a fair trade, ne?"

"I suppose. What would you like to know?"

"Why do you wear sunglasses?"

"Over time, our eyes have evolved to be somewhat similar to our insects' eyes. They're very sensitive, and most light is harmful to our optic nerves."

"Has anyone in your clan ever gone blind from staring at a light bulb?"

"I've heard of my great-aunt going blind from going into the sun without her glasses... but no, I haven't heard anything about light bulbs."

"Oh. Well, insects die when they go into light bulbs, so I had to ask. I'm curious like that. I take every opportunity I can to learn more about anything having to do with bugs."

"So do I. You should see my room... my father says he wants me to get rid of the ant farm, or at least give it to my cousins."

"Multiplying too quickly?"

"Yes, it's their mating season."

"As I expected. The only things that breed faster than insects are rabbits."

"Would you like to know anything else?"

"Of course. I do have so many questions about your clan. I believe your clan and mine are the only insect-based clans in the Leaf, after all. Knowledge is power."

"I will answer any questions to the best of my ability, Hae-san."

"Hmm." She took a long draught of her water before pushing her bangs back and leaning forward on her arms. "I'm curious... how do you control your kikai? Where do you keep them?"

"If I told you, I would have to kill you."

She glanced over, raising an eyebrow incredulously. "Are you serious, Aburame-san? Huh." She turned back to her water. "I didn't know how heavily guarded a secret it was. I apologize."

Shino pushed his shades up. "Forgive me, Hae-san. That was my attempt at humor. I suppose I'm not very good at it. My father says the Aburame humor skips a generation." He took a sip of his own water. "I'm just not all that sure he has it either."

"So you can tell me then?"

"Can I? Yes, I'm allowed. Will I? Of course, I would be glad to. We house the kikai in our bodies. They feed off our chakra, and in return we are allowed to use them for offense, defense, and anything else we may need."

"I see. Interesting indeed."

Kiba walked over, halting their conversation. "Hey, Chuusha-chan?"

Shino could almost visualize a stress mark appearing on her head. Her body tensed up, and her hand clutched her glass so hard he thought she might break it. "And who said you could refer to me as that? Call me that only when you have earned my respect."

"Hey, calm down, Chuusha-chan, I was just going to ask you-"

"Kiba," Shino spoke up, not lifting his eyes from the table. "You should give regard to Hae-san's wishes."

He thought he heard Chuusha give a little stifled giggle. "You may call me by my first name, Aburame-san."

"And I can't?" Kiba said, his voice and face conveying his extreme disbelief.

Chuusha took a long, deliberate sip of her water before answering. "I believe that is what I was insinuating, Inuzuka-san."

Kiba growled. "Well, fine! I hope you have fun with the bug freak, 'cause it seems like you're just as bad!"

As he stomped off, Shino could see Chuusha become even more upset, even if it was only internally. Her hand squeezed around her cup even tighter, and all of a sudden it shattered. None of the shards were embedded in her hand as far as he could tell, but her hand was bleeding.

Hinata had heard this, and she looked over with fear in her eyes when she saw the blood on Chuusha's hand. "Ch-Chuusha-chan! A-Are you okay?"

"Yes." She dusted her hands off, grabbing a napkin to clean her hands. "I apologize, Lady Hinata. The plastic cups break too easily and cut deep..."

Shino reached over and began to help Chuusha in lightly patting the blood off her hand, wrapping his fingers around her wrist. "These are not plastic cups, Hae-san."

"I said you can call me Chuusha," she mumbled, yanking her hand away from him. "And I can do this myself."

"Sh-Shino-kun is right," Hinata said softly. "Th-These are glass..."

"I'm fine, Lady Hinata."

"Ch-Chuusha-chan..." Hinata turned and stepped off her stool. "W-Why don't we head home? It's g-getting late... F-Father will be worried."

Chuusha kept her eyes down, so that no one could see them, not even Shino, blond bangs obstructing her eyes even more than they had before she'd drooped her head. "Our food hasn't even arrived yet, Lady Hinata. Are you sure?"

"I-I'm not hungry anyway. P-Please, Chuusha-chan? I-I'm getting... a-a little tired."

Chuusha let out a sigh, and resignedly lowered herself off the stool, not adjusting her hair so that her eyes could be seen.

Hinata smiled shakily, and waved to her teammates. "I-I'm sorry, Kurenai Sensei, but Chuusha-chan and I h-have to be going. Good-bye, Shino-kun, K-Kiba-kun."

Shino nodded, and Kiba crossed his arms. "Bye, Hinata-chan. See ya, love bug."

Chuusha's form stiffened, but then she turned to look back at them. "I will see you soon, Kurenai Sensei." Her eyes shifted to Kiba. "Good-bye, bone breath." She turned to Shino, and simply nodded.

Akamaru barked after her, but she just looked down at him and shook her head. Kiba whistled. "Akamaru. Forget about her, she doesn't know anything."

Shino stared after Hinata and Chuusha for a moment as they left, and then swiveled back to his place at the bar. "I really think you shouldn't have spoken to Hae-san that way, Kiba. She may have punishment waiting for you."

"I don't care. I can take her. I can take anybody."

"Guys," Kurenai called, a warning undertone in her voice.

Okay so... not much of an ending. Sorry? D

But... REVIEWS REVIEWS PLEASE. I LURV THEM. If you read, favorite, alert, please review! I live off dem... *appears with a giant fork*

Hope you liked! ^^