Title: When a BAMF Can't get Laid

Summary: "Dude, Shino! I still don't know why a bad-ass-mother-fucker like you isn't getting laid!" "Kiba. Shut up." How will Shino and Hinata survive the Hokage's wedding? With a little help from their friends—and a ginormous bottle of sake. ShinoHina four-shot.

This fic is dedicated to Secretly Insane, who set her rabid ShinoHina plot bunnies after me:)

Well folks, I'm taking a small break from "Song of Aether" and "Better Off Dead" with this delightful and humorous four-shot. Will update when each chapter hits ten reviews:) Enjoy!

Chapter One: I Prefer Arthropods

Shino is avoiding his mother.

He is avoiding his father, his teammates, his sensei, his second cousin once removed—especially his second cousin once removed—and anything vaguely humanoid.

From his vantage point, high up in a conifer outside of the village gates, he contemplates his miserable existence with only various and sundry arthropods for company. A spider, hairy-legged and oblivious to his presence, scuttles up the rough bark of the tree. Shino stares at it until finally, the spider blinks up at him with myriad beady eyes; it beats a hasty retreat under the furrowed bark.

An army of ants march, single-file, up the side of the tree, looking for sticky-sweet resins or dead insects to take back to their nest. They are industrious, and pay him no mind, despite the fact that Shino's dour gaze bores into their thick exoskeletons. At last, Shino tires of watching the ants and peers down, through the thick evergreen boughs, to gaze at the clearing directly below him.

It is a beautiful field full of wildflowers, though the flowers in and of themselves are not interesting to Shino; no, it is the butterflies that flit to and fro between the scented blossoms. The sight makes Shino's heart squeeze in dread: not for any sentimental reason, but because his mother is a premier butterfly wielder, and she has been trying to locate Shino all day.

Not likely, Shino muses wryly. His mother may be a formidable tracker, but Shino is in the ANBU Black Ops; Shino has single-handedly dismantled over one-thousand zombies in the last war, and even—

"Shino-kun, get down here!" his mother barks.


He peers down through the branches of the tree, only to find his mother staring up at him. Shino thought he was being clever, skirting the flower-bedecked meadows and sticking to the trees, using his insects to form a chakra field around his person. Alas, his mother has found him despite his best intentions. Why? Because Shino was careless, and let his distraught emotions disrupt his carefully constructed chakra flow. His mother has taken advantage of this.

She is a calculating and cruel opponent.

Chagrined and left with little choice, Shino descends into the bright meadow. The sunlight hurts his eyes, even behind his sunglasses, but his mother's shrill tone hurts even worse.

"Shino-kun," she snaps, arms crossed and covered in treacherous, garish butterflies. "Akemi-chan has been waiting for you all day. I told you to show her around the village; you were supposed to help her buy a dress for tonight's festivities!"

Shino sighs, utterly defeated. The celebrated war-hero of Konoha, Zombie-Slayer, Demon-Tracker, Sharingan's-Bane—

"Shino, are you listening?"

—Stands, shaking like a disturbed spider on his web, in front of his mother. Shino sighs. "Yes, mother, I am listening."

"Good," she spits. "Go home and meet Akemi-chan." Her voice takes on an almost musical lilt as she says Akemi-chan, who is Shino's second cousin once removed from his mother's side. "And in case you even think about shirking your host duties, before you even think of bringing shame onto our family, take Tassa with you." A yellow-swallow-tail butterfly alights from his mother's arm and lands on Shino's shoulder; this, he assumes, is Tassa—the butterspy.

"There's nowhere to run, Shino-kun," his mother states. "All your little friends are getting paired up; and it's high-time you preformed your duty—"

"I know, I know," Shino grunts, his voice pained. "Grandchildren."

"Exactly," his mother smirks.

Shino resists the urge to hit himself in the face and shishuns away from his mother. His heart drops into the soles of his shoes, like Mayfly eggs sinking to the bottom of an icy cold stream.

He is not looking forward to tonight's festivities. And there are so many reasons why.

Akemi is oohing and ahhing over silken dresses and bedangled hand-bags. Her shining black hair is pulled into a loose knot at the nape of her neck, and her wide black eyes shine like obsidian in the sunlight. "Shino-kun," she practically squeals, "what do you think of this one?"

It is a question he has been asked many times. "It's very nice," he replies flatly, as if by rote.

"I like it because it has butterfly patterns on it. Because of my butterflies! Do you think it will be fashionable for the wedding? I do so want to be fashionable," she babbles.

Shino stifles a sigh. His second cousin once removed would look good clothed in a burlap sack. He knows she is (outwardly) beautiful, and she knows she is beautiful. He doesn't understand the need to try on every single dress in the entire store. No, scratch that, he doesn't understand why she needs to try on every single dress in the entire garment district. Were all kunoichi from the provincial border towns so tiresome?

Just then, who should burst into the store but Tenten, leading a tight-lipped Hyuga Neji and a red-eyed Hyuga Hinata. "Damn it Neji, I need a new dress for tonight!" Tenten screeches.

Shino shivers involuntarily. He supposes that many kunoichi from the Hidden Leaf are just as irksome and vain as Akemi. It was a well known fact that Tenten's tomboyish tendencies had all been ruined by Yamanaka Ino. She had recently taught Tenten the shrewish, tawdry rites of fashionable women—at least when it came to special occasions. Shino bets that Neji regrets the day he ever enlisted Ino's help to make Tenten "presentable."

"Tenten, you already have—"

"But this is the Hokage's wedding!" she sputters. "The Ho—oh," she finishes lamely, for beside her, Hinata sniffles. "Anyway, bonehead," Tenten resumes after her social blunder, "Hinata-chan doesn't have a thing to wear. I hope you brought enough money, Neji-no-parsimoniuos."

"N-no, r-really, I d-don't—" Hinata mumbles, but Neji cuts her off abruptly.

"Hinata-sama, please; your father has written me a blank check for both you and my fiance to acquire new gowns for tonight's affair," he murmurs.

Tenten's eyes grow as wide as a pair of Japanese Giant Hornets, insects as big as human thumbs that spray flesh-melting poison. "A blank check, you say?" she breathes.

Just then, Hinata meets Shino's gaze. She waves, weakly. Shino, thrilled at having female help with his feather-headed cousin, takes Akemi's elbow and hauls her over to the group of Hyugas. "Hyuga-san, Hyuga-san, Hinata-san, a pleasure to run into you." What a pleasure it is, they have no idea. "This is my cousin, Aburame Akemi."

Tenten snorts. "Don't call me Hyuga-san. You make it sound like I'm already an old married lady. Hey Akemi-chan, nice to meet you!"

Akemi grins an ear-splitting smile. "I'm pleased to meet you all! Though don't let Shino fool you, I'm his second cousin once removed!"

"Tenten is renowned for her excellent taste in garments," Shino breaks in hastily, hoping his ulterior motives don't shine through too clearly. "Perhaps she would be so kind as to—"

"Oh, yes!" Akemi squeals; both men wince at the ferocity of said squeal. She shoves her florid dresses into Tenten's capable hands, and the two are abuzz with excitement.

Shino sends a silent prayer of thanks to the gods and sidles up to Hinata, who is gazing blankly down at the floor. "Hinata-chan," he mumbles, "are you…?" He wants to ask if she is all right, but it is a stupid question; he trails off.

Hinata blinks, coming back to reality. She smiles sweetly—though Shino is sure her usual sweetness is tinged with melancholy—and puts a clammy hand on his arm. "Shino-kun," she murmurs, obliquely avoiding his question, "what a surprise to run into you. Your cousin is lovely."

He wants to say that his cousin is a lovely pain in the ass, and that no matter how his mother harangues and harries him, he will not, will not, marry such a fop. But instead, he mutters a noncommittal grunt. There is a moment of awkward silence. They are in the middle of an aisle of garment racks, and flushing, shopping-happy women jostle them in their frantic movements; regardless Shino and Hinata stand as still as assassin bugs.

Hinata is about to move away, but Shino feels unsettled—because Hinata, his teammate, is in pain and he can do nothing about it; because he has been avoiding her for this very same reason when he really should have been helping her—and so, in a motion of guilt-laden friendliness, he places a hand on her shoulder. "I saw a dress that would look nice on you," he blurts out. Hinata is probably the only kunoichi he would ever offer to help in this fashion; but then, he and Hinata had been friends for a long time. Shino muses wryly that Hinata is one of the few humans whose presence he enjoys and appreciates, and he is eager to alleviate her suffering, today of all days.

Hinata blinks up at him, then smiles a slow, weak smile. "I didn't know you liked picking out dresses, Shino-kun," she teases, but her voice is reedy-thin, like a cricket at dawn who is hoarse from chirping.

He can tell that Hinata has been crying: her tone of voice and her red eyes say it all. But his concern for Hinata's well-being wars with his utter embarrassment at being caught dress-shopping; Shino blushes from his toes to the tips of his ears. "Ah…my cousin…" he mutters lamely.

Hinata takes his arm. "That would be very kind of you, Shino-kun, to save me from Tenten's administrations. She is very pushy—she is trying to be kind, but… She wants me to wear the kind of dress that will attract…attention."

"Ah. No, this dress is very dignified." Which is why Akemi didn't want it; she would rather dress herself up in the flashiest of fabrics to resemble her butterflies, he thinks waspishly. If only women were more sensible like his longtime partner, Hinata; he would have less trouble accommodating his mother's urging for him to "settle down." His stomach twists painfully at the thought. His mother will never get him to marry anyone as foolish as his cousin; Akemi has about as much sense as a butterfly who is so busy admiring her own coloring, she is trapped in a spider's web.

Forcing his thoughts to still, he leads Hinata to a rack towards the middle of the store. "This one," he murmurs gravely. "Why? Because it is subtle yet beautiful, flattering yet modest. It also matches your coloring."

Hinata takes the proffered dress with a blush, running her hands across the light lavender fabric. The skirt is unadorned, fine silk, but the bodice is filigree, as delicate and beautiful as a spider web glimmering with dew drops. Shino squints, and sees with satisfaction that the precious stones sewn into the tasteful lacework are real, and not glass. Hinata's hands dance over the billowing, belled sleeves and examine the price tag.

"It's not too extravagant…" she mutters under her breath, while Shino silently commends her for her financial prudence. She looks up at Shino, gratitude written across her features. "Thank you, Shino-kun. You saved me from having to shop all day with Tenten-chan. Also…" She plays with the cool, smooth folds of the flowing sleeves for a moment. "Also, knowing that you picked out this dress for me will help me to stay cheerful."

Shino is about to say something, but he is cut off by Tenten's shrill voice. "Oi! Hinata-chan! Do you have a dress yet? Come on, the ceremony is only hours away, and we still need to get these tailored, and our hair done, and our makeup—"

"C-coming, T-tenten-n-neesan!" Hinata squeaks. And then to Shino: "Sorry, Tenten's…glamourous side is coming out again. I think Ino did too good of a job when she helped Tenten dress for Shikamaru and Temari's wedding. Now, Tenten is very fastidious about her appearance for special occasions; it is her way of bringing honor to the family." Hinata looks thoughtful for a moment, then meets his gaze once more. "Thanks again, Shino-kun. I'll see you…tonight."

Were his eyes deceiving him, or did Hinata's eyes cloud just the slightest bit as she said that last word? "See you," Shino buzzes.

"Oi, Hinata—" Tenten cries from across the room.

"I-I'm c-c-coming, T-tenten-ch-chan!" Hinata mumbles as she scurries towards the dressing room.

Why is it that Hinata hardly ever stutters around him? Shino wishes that she could be more confident around other people; though he supposes that she is exceedingly stressed today, and he does not blame her for stuttering more than usual when startled. He lets out a long sigh. At least he, Hinata, and Kiba are all going to be seated together at tonight's event; the Hokage insisted on informal seating arrangements based on teams, just like he had insisted on less-formal attire for the wedding. Shino shakes his head. It would have been more dignified if the event called for traditional kimonos, but Shino is thankful about the casual seating arrangements.

Shino is broken out of his musings by a strident voice. "Oi! Shino-kun, there you are, I've been looking for you all over, I'm ready to buy my dress now! I couldn't decide between the green dress with emerald butterflies, or the peach one with yellowish orangish butterflies, but then Tenten…"

Shino zones out after that. Compared to Hinata, who considers every word as carefully as a merchant weighing gold, Akemi has a terminal case of verbal diarrhea. In a blur of activity, Shino pays an exorbitant amount for a garish orange gown and a matching handbag atrocity. Then Akemi leads him homewards, babbling incoherently all the while; her voice sounds like the incessant whine of mosquitoes.

Shino is not sure that he will survive an entire day with his second cousin once removed; he may have to plug up his ears with insects. However, he feels guilty for complaining. Truly, it is Hinata who is having a harder time of it. Shino worries that he will not be able to protect Hinata sufficiently tonight, what with Akemi buzzing around him like a blackfly. He shakes his head at that thought. I'll just have to do the best I can…

a/n reviews=faster updates:)