Author's Rant: I think you're going to like this chapter. Enjoy!


Pleasant Connections


Friday arrived with a gloomy cloud hovering over Hinata. She wasn't an entirely naïve child, not being able to comprehend the happenings around her. Kiba is packing up his clothes in that big suitcase he rolled up to the front door with, days ago. Daddy didn't need him anymore. The time has come for him and Akamaru to go back home. Daddy always tells her to be a strong, proper young woman with manners and acceptance of other people's decision.

Did she have to like it though? It was so hard, watching from behind the door as Kiba put the last of his things in his bag. Hinata quietly sniffled, rubbing her pink cotton sleeve under her nose. Tears bubbled in her eyes as thickly as the lump in her throat. When she woke up again, he wouldn't be there. Akamaru won't be here to color with her either.

Hinata squeaked when a firm hand landed on her shoulder. She spun on her heel, fear gripping her vocal chords as she gazed up at her father, but the apprehension vanished when, instead of seeing the usual sternness in his eyes, there's sympathy. Hinata shyly stared down at the tips of his sock-clad feet only inches from her tiny toes.

She sighed and held up her arms. Neji bent low, kissed her brow and picked her up, and started down the hall to the living room. He chose the loveseat parallel with the patio, which the sun seemed to gleam at its finest from behind the cluster of trees in the backward. Sitting first, he gently eased her down next to him and lowered his arm around her shoulder, wiping his thumb under her eyes.

"You're upset about Inuzuka leaving," he said softly.

Hinata bumped her little shoulders, staring sadly at the carpet.

Neji sighed. "You knew he wasn't meant to stay. His time here was only temporary, to help me take care of you. I'm well enough to do that myself now."

"I wike Kiba," she murmured softly. "He stay wit' us."

"No, that's not how it works, Hinata. Look at me." She didn't. Neji gently cupped her cheek and turned her face him. He couldn't stand it, seeing the despair and anguish reflect in the eyes so much like his own. Like all things, this too shall pass. It's another hard lesson Hinata will come to realize, no matter how heartbreaking it is. "Want to know a secret?"

Hinata sniffled, nodding in his hand.

Neji leaned in and whispered, "I don't want him to leave either." Truth be told, he would prefer the young man stayed a while longer if it could help with their budding—whatever they wanted to call it. Decisions were made last night, but it's a new day now. There's no telling where the lad's mind is. He could've easily said what he wanted just to pacify Neji.

It didn't seem so though. His reaction did appear genuine at the time. Neji blamed himself for being so careless and antsy to get things started between them. Now, he wishes he'd been a bit more patient, perhaps got a better feel of where Kiba's feelings lied.

During his quiet thinking, he hadn't noticed Hinata moving until the weight on his lap stirred him and he found her looking up at him with wide, pleading eyes.

"Make K'ba stay, Daddy," she pleaded quietly. "Make stay."

Neji shook his head. "That's not possible, my love. Kiba's a grown man.

"But you wike him, Daddy."

"I do."

"Then K'ba stay he'e wit' us always."

Neji thinned his lips. "This isn't up for discussion, Hinata. Don't be difficult."

The tears slowed, and Hinata's face scrunched as tight as her fists. She suddenly crawled off the couch and stood before her father, chin high. He'd seen that stance before. It's the same one he's taken when challenged.

"No! K'ba stay!" she loudly protested with an added stomp of her foot. "K'ba stay, he stay, he stay, he stay!" she shouted, getting increasingly fussy.

"Hinata—"

"No! I want K'ba to stay!"

Neji narrowed his eyes. The warning gaze wasn't enough. She returned her own glare. It didn't deter her from what she wanted. Inuzuka's company was what she wanted. She intended to keep it that way.

Neji silently lifted up his hand, five digits sticking out. As each second ticked off, he slowly lowered one finger. Hinata's eyes widened in fright and she was fled away down the hall, crying. She knew what that meant. In her whole life, Neji's only struck her once. It was right after counting down from five with his hands. She knew there was no escaping from it, even if she ran.

Neji climbed to his feet and trailed after her. He knew her feelings weren't misplaced, but he could not allow such behavior to go unpunished. An example must be made. As he suspected, she'd hid away in her bedroom, beneath the safety of her covers. Neji entered, closing the door. He leaned his back against it, folding his arms.

"Hinata Marie Hyuuga, come here."

Hinata peeked from under the sheets before diving back inside.

"If I have to come to you. . ."

Whimpering and crying began to leak from under the blankets. Hinata knew better than to challenge her father further. With a heavy heart, she slipped from her blankets, wiggling her feet over the side of the bed before hoping down and taking her time to get to him. Bottom lip poking out and tears tumbling down her face, she tip toed up to him and extended her trembling hand.

The strike came fast and hard. Hinata recoiled, clutching her sore hand to her chest.

"Go to your bed," said Neji. "You're not to leave your room until you think about your actions."

Hinata gave a feeble nod, unable to speak and did as she was told, hiccupping and sobbing quietly to herself. She crawled onto her mattress and buried her face in the pillows to cry. Neji sighed again, reaching out, but held his place by her door. He turned the doorknob and stepped out.

Inuzuka stood on the opposite side of the wall with his arms folded and foot braced against the wall behind him. He had a disapproving glare in his eyes, but Neji couldn't help that now could he? He kicked off the wall and shoved by without a word.

Neji caught his upper arm. "Don't."

Inuzuka shot a wicked look at the hand around his arm and the person it belonged to. He smacked it away with the same force he'd clearly heard used on Hinata and Neji watched stunned, as Kiba walked into the little girl's room. He didn't close the door, as if wanting Neji to see what happened.

Inuzuka sat on the bed and reached out to rub Hinata's back. She flinched, looked from the pillow and as if the world had become right at last, she launched into his arms, wrapping her legs around his waist and arms around his neck. Inuzuka rocked her back and forth, cupping the back of her head and whispering sweet promises that everything would be all right.

Neji couldn't walk away from this scene if he wanted to. He wasn't sure if Inuzuka was about to undermine his authority or enforce, but the sight of how gently he held his daughter left a strange tug in his chest. For a brief, the briefest of brief instants, Neji figured he wouldn't mind seeing this more often. It'd be another scent he missed seeing in this house.

"Listen baby girl," Inuzuka started once her sobbing faded, "I know you're upset, I know why." He swiped his thumb under her eyes and stroked her hair. "But regardless, that's no excuse to talk back to your dad. He's still a grown-up and what he says, goes."

Hinata rubbed a fist over her eye. "But. . . but, K'ba. . ."

Inuzuka silenced her with a finger. "No buts, you're still a child. Your dad's a great guy. He would never hurt you on purpose. Neither would I." He went quiet, staring down at her round face. "I gotta go home though. I enjoyed staying here with you, but I have some things to take care of."

She didn't like it, but Hinata nodded in understanding.

"I won't be gone long though, just a day or two to catch up on stuff, then I'll be back to cook and play with you and your daddy. How's that?"

Hinata pouted, but her mood brightened. "Pwomise?"

Inuzuka chuckled, "Yeah, pickie promise." He wrapped his long pinkie around hers and brought the coiled digits to lips to kiss. "Sealed with a kiss."

Blushing, Hinata happily hugged him tight, all the worry and fear leaving her in waves. Inuzuka hugged her back and stood, carrying her over to Neji.

"Now, say you're sorry for being naughty."

Hinata lifted her head and blinked at her father. Neji lifted an eyebrow at Inuzuka, more than surprised at his actions.

"I sowwy, Daddy," Hinata whimpered.

Neji looked between the pair, lingering on Inuzuka longest. "Apology accepted." He held out his arms and Hinata slipped from Inuzuka's grasp to her father's. Inuzuka lightly touched her head as Neji cradled her to his chest. "Thank you," he mouthed over Hinata's head.

Inuzuka shrugged and winked. He parted from the father-daughter family and returned to his room to finish putting up his clothes. Neji's eyes followed the young man to the guest room and in silence, he watched Kiba grab his gear and give one final look at the room.

Hinata wasn't the only one going to miss him.


Kiba vaguely wondered if others went the same trials and tribulations as he did, making vows and then later having second thoughts on them. The quiet ride home back to his apartment gave him too much time to think, too much time to doubt. Last night was, well, it was disorienting.

Every time he thought about Neji's light kisses on his face, a faint red tint would appear on Kiba's cheeks. He didn't know if he should be angry with himself for liking or at Neji for confirming a tough realization for him. Whether Kiba would ever be ready to confess it or not, it was a fact that he was indeed attracted to Neji.

Out of the corner of his eye, he looked at the regal man as he drove with concentration, paying mind to every detail on the road. It wasn't hard to see why Kiba became captivated. Neji's the prime example of what GQ looks for in a man, tall, smooth skin, elegant, poise, well spoken, intelligent, but as far as body, well, that's a whole other story. Kiba hasn't ever seen Neji in the buff—not that he'd had a reason at the time, but curiosity was getting to him.

What lied beneath those expensive, tailored shirts and pressed slacks? The body of a Greek God, perhaps a slender more toned build? Or were his flawless, good looks compensation for a flappy body? Kiba snickered. Wouldn't that be a laugh?

"Something funny?"

Oh damn, busted. Kiba looked over at Neji's profile. The guy just refused to take his eyes off the road. "Yeah, just thinking," he answered, though he'd be damned if he told Neji what he was thinking about. "It's gonna be weird being back home," he said, switching topics.

"You can visit whenever you want. I insist, for all our sakes." Neji directed it toward the backseat where Hinata had fallen asleep in her car seat and a tiny bit of drool leaked from her mouth. "She'll miss you."

"I'll miss her more." Kiba cleared his throat. "You too. You're, uh, not as bad as I thought, you know, not all stiff and boring."

"Is that how you thought of me before?"

"Oh trust me, I thought way worse. Pushy, arrogant, rude, stuck-up, the kind of guy who enjoyed that stick being up his a-hole and just ugh, you frustrated the hell out me," Kiba said, laughing. "I couldn't stand you, it's like you lived to irk me."

Neji smirked. "Funny, I thought the same about you."

"I did, I knew what pushed your buttons and made it my mission to rile you up. I guess back then. . ." 'Maybe back then I've been trying to get your attention too,' Kiba slowly confessed within as it dawned on him. Sifting his fingers through his hair, Kiba chuckled again, gaze softening. "I guess back then I was just nuisance to ya."

Neji didn't reply and for a long moment the only thing that splintered the silence was the occasional hum and stir of the vehicle. Neither of them spoke a word or moved until Kiba finally faced Neji and found the car had stopped and that Neji's piercing eyes were settled on him, overbright and completely readable.

"Not entirely," he replied finally and Kiba felt the sudden catch of fingers coiling around his wrist; just touching, warmth soaking into his skin. "I suppose it may have come off that way. In the beginning, I'd only been looking for a way to repay Naruto for the hardship I caused. It seemed the only logical thing to do."

Kiba gave him a disgruntled stare. "Is that the real reason?"

Neji gave him a leveled look. "Would you prefer I lie?"

Kiba raised an eyebrow. "Well, no." then he shrugged. "I don't think you've ever lied to me anyway. As long as you don't hate me, I guess I can deal with knowing the truth." He was drawing away from Neji when the hand around his wrist tightened, halting him from putting any distance between them. Kiba glanced up at Neji in question.

"I don't hate you, I never have," Neji said patiently. "Quite the opposite actually. It's vexing, but I find I'm unable to remember. . ."

"What it was like before," Kiba finished quietly, heart wildly thumping in his chest. "Yeah, I know. We were always at each other's throats. Sometimes we had our civil moments, but . . . maybe . . ." he shook his head, chuckling. "We've come a long way, huh?"

And what a journey it's been to reach this point, especially in Kiba's case. Somewhere along the line Kiba had stopped looking to Neji as being a stuck up person who thought everyone was beneath him. He stopped seeing him as a pain and more of a human being. It had all changed around, until he'd just wanted to be around Neji more often. He'd had that moment and many more.

Maybe, just maybe for all Kiba had learned in the few weeks spent with Neji, he knew there were some things about him worth holding onto. Being near him was addicting, consuming. Kiba closed his eyes and turned away.

"This is my stop," Kiba said abruptly, starling Neji out of his stare. "We're burning gas sitting here."

Neji blinked slowly at the younger brunet. Then, just as slowly, he sat away. "Yes," was all he said before letting go and stepping out of the car. Kiba opened the passenger door, being mindful not to slam it too loud and wake up Hinata. Neji popped the trunk, lugging out Kiba's suitcases. When Kiba reached for them, Neji silently declined and carried the bags for him toward the front entrance.

By Kiba's guesstimation it was a quarter to three. Maybe he could call the old man and see if he had a few hours to spare for the time missed. Looking around him at the familiar setting, worn bricks, shabby neighbors and overflowing trashcans, something inside relaxed Kiba. It wasn't perfect, but it's home, despite knowing that it'd be a while before he saw Neji again.

"I won't stay long," Neji said quietly, glancing over his shoulder at the car. He shut the car off, locking it from here with Hinata asleep inside.

"No, I get it, go on. I'll be fine." Kiba replied, flexing his fingers around the keys in his pocket anxiously. He shrugged jerkily. "I'll see ya later." Neji had things to do, no sense in prolonging the leave. Kiba respected that and grabbed his things in a hurry toward the stairwell.

Long fingers gripped Kiba's shoulders before his foot could touch the bottom stair, scaring him shitless.

"Jesus man!" he gasped, going stiff with fright. "Whistle, ring a bell or something! You scared me—"

"You didn't give me a chance to say goodbye," Neji smooth cut through. "You stormed off before I could. Such a temper." The hand on his shoulder squeezed to convey his displeasure.

Kiba rolled his eyes. "Why say goodbye? I'm gonna see you later, right?"

Neji didn't respond immediately, frowning pensively as he studied Kiba's expression. It gave the younger brunet enough time for a sobering thought to enter his mind. He swatted Neji's hand away and turned to face him.

"What, you're having second thoughts now?"

Neji's eyes flashed. "No, of course not."

"Pfft you better not. If I'm willing to take this step, you sure as hell better."

"That's not it at all."

"Then what is it?"

"It's just—I want—if only a small one," Neji stammered all over his words. It was so unlike him.

"What?"

Neji's cheeks, pale as snow, for the first time ever developed a soft peach pink. He cleared his throat. "Why bother waiting," he grumbled to himself before taking the one-step separating them.

Kiba swallowed hard, the dark ominous glimmer in Neji's eyes like a lit fuse to something explosive. His back hit the rail. His heart thundered in his chest, his breathing labored. Cool, dry hands cupped either side of his face and like a deer caught in a front of a spotlight, Kiba could only look on as Neji dipped his head low.

Warm breath fanned his lips. Kiba jerked. "Wait," he gripped Neji's wrists, but didn't pull them from his face. "Just, just wait a minute," he whispered. "I'm not, I dunno . . . that's fast Neji. . ." His stomach churned and flipped with the bundle of nerves roaring inside. A part of him wanted that chance to see what it's like, but he still held on to those small protesting vermin in his mind that screamed it was wrong. So very wrong.

"Look at me," Neji murmured, waiting until Kiba looked at him. "Don't feel embarrassed. Forgive the hurry, but I can't bear the thought of leaving without tasting your lips, just once." He spoke huskily, lowering again to nose Kiba's jaw affectionately. "You make this difficult for me you realize. The way you look at me, I want to be sure. . ."

"I'm freaked, man" Kiba whispered, nervous. "This is weird, so weird. I-I've never kissed a guy . . ." Breathing has become a thing of past. All Kiba could inhale was Neji's fresh soapy scent and the feel the streams of Neji's long hair brushing Kiba's cheeks.

"There's a first time for everything."

Kiba's high, awkward chuckle was cut off as Neji lowered his head and pressed their lips gently together. Kiba gasped, and Neji curled his tongue into Kiba's mouth with a neat little flick and then out, as if he didn't want to overstay his welcome. A series of tingles raced like violent heat waves throughout Kiba's body, beating like waves crashing on a shore.

Kiba shuddered and whimpered before he could stop himself. Neji's hands and lips burned with feverish flare, and so potent was the touch, Kiba felt every single thing; all the lines in Neji's palm, the manicure cut of his nails, digging the skin beneath his ears. There was so much wetness building between their mouths, a surging, unavoidable hunger.

What should've been a simple farewell kiss escalated further than anticipated. All the moist taste, and fire, this was what Neji felt only when he was naked and lying on top of a lover. His hands tightened and he realized his hands were gripping spikes of Kiba's wild hair, so tightly it must hurt. But Kiba only leaned in, pushing forward, grasping Neji's hips in return and the delicate touch of his erection to Neji's slowly arousing one contrasted beautifully with their meshing mouths.

From his hips, Kiba's hands curved around and clutched his fingers beneath the under plump of Neji's ass, shamelessly squeezing and kneading to his heart's desire. It was perfect, firm and round. A new discovery Kiba learned.

Neji pulled back. His eyes were ablaze, his voice rough as he whispered against Kibas's mouth, "Nice," and hummed pleased, "very nice. There's more to you then imagined. What else lies beneath this rough exterior?" His thumb traced over Kiba's swollen lips. He pressed another kiss to Kiba's mouth before the younger brunet could reply and backed away, eyes half-lidded, licking his lips as if Kiba's taste was strong and would linger. "I'll see you soon."

Kiba swallowed, and straightened himself when he realized just how much of a slouch he must've looked. He probably had that 'just-kissed-senseless' look too. Neji sure as hell looked fine; in every sense of the word. Kiba shook his head and cleared his throat to form a coherent reply.

"See ya too," was all he could pathetically come up with Neji turned and started toward his car. Kiba's eyes floated down to Neji's ass and watched the mold and fold of the muscles there flex. His mouth went dry. Damn, he had it bad. He smacked his face and bent over to gather his belongings.

Standing up, he glanced over his shoulder and blushed when finding Neji only staring at him, but directly at his ass with a filthy glint in his gaze. Now that was going to take some getting used to. Still, Kiba felt a stir of excitement knowing he had that effect on the old man and proceeded to wiggle his butt a little.

Neji narrowed his eyes. Kiba would regret that later, he bet. Before sinking inside the car, Neji smiled and waved. The car purred to life and drove off down the road. A gust of satisfaction left Kiba's mouth. It's been so damn long since he felt gitty over anyone. Who would've thought it'd be a man and Neji Hyuuga of all people

Tsk, what will Naruto say when he finds out? Kiba snickered. He'd probably pull an ulcer trying to fathom how this came about, even if he had a bit of a hand causing it. Kiba checked over his shoulder again. Akamaru hadn't made it back yet. He probably took a break on the way back. Poor dog. Kiba corralled his things in the stairs and to the front door. If Akamaru wasn't back by sunset, he'll go looking for him.

Sticking the key in the lock, Kiba stepped into the quaint apartment and inhaled the same old smells. The air conditioning was on? He thought he'd left it off. He flipped on the light switch and almost shitted on himself when he found someone sitting in the living room.

Not a robber, not a stranger, but none other than Itachi dressed like the millions of dollars he was worth; a smoke grey Kiton Napoli Super Wool suit, a solid black tie and a powder blue undershirt. Kiba didn't know whether to be offended, surprised or pissed that this fool had the audacity to be sitting in his pad, checking his nails with his legs crossed like he owed the place.

Kiba gawked and pointed. "Most burglars have enough sense to hide when breaking and entering and—and how the hell did you get in here?!"

"Good to see you too, Inuzuka," Itachi answered passively. "You've kept me waiting. I despise that."

"You despise—hello, invading private property here! Don't you know I could've capped you without thinkin'?" And he was still debating on whether or not to get his gun out the closet and do just that. Kiba blew out a heavy sigh, dragging a hand down his face. He really didn't have time for this. "You know what, I don't even care anymore. Go out the same way you came in."

Itachi re-crossed his legs, dark eyes following Kiba's slow track toward the hall. "Have you forgotten what's today?"

Kiba paused in thought. "Yeah, I remember. It's the same day I declare war the next time you welcome yourself in my space. Peace, dude."

"We have a scheduled date this evening, if you recall agreeing to it a week ago."

Kiba froze. Shit. Those calls, the text messages, he hadn't answered a single one. He braced his hand on the wall, lips thinned. He faced Itachi slowly. "Yeah, about that." His eyes shifted. "Things have, um, changed since then. I can't go."

"Why not?"

"That's my business. The point is, I can't go and don't want to. Take someone else."

"You realize I've made changes to my busy schedule for this arrangement," Itachi carefully stated. "Changes I can't go back on."

Kiba frowned. "Tough cookies. I'm not gonna apologize for that. You're the one who set me up."

"I didn't make you agree."

"You," Kiba paused. True, he hadn't. He rolled his eyes and dropped his face in his palm. "We can't do this another time? I'm tired."

"I'm afraid not, other matters will require my attention. Depending on how this evening goes, you may be one of those pressing matters to attend to frequently."

Either Neji's kiss was getting to him, or Kiba thought he heard a husky hint to Itachi's voice. That was very, very, very unlikely. It was by some miracle that Neji found him interesting. Pigs will fly over Muggle homes before Kiba believe Itachi did too.

Kiba sighed again and shrugged. He didn't have the energy to deal with this. "Itachi, look bro, some stuff happened," he scratched behind his head, unable to form the correct sentence. "Stuff that says I can't go out with you. It'll look bad."

"Do I look like the man who cares about other's opinions?"

"You should. It'll probably make you a better human."

"I can't leave without your consent to this."

Kiba sighed, long and hard. "Damn," Itachi had a stubborn streak too it seemed. "Fuck, fine, whatever, just get out."

"Very well," Itachi smirked, satisfied and rose from his seat. "Your suit will be here momentarily."

"Suit? What suit?"

"Why, the one I specifically ordered for you. Your waist measurement is thirty-four inches, yes?"

Kiba blinked owlishly, mouth jarred. Shaking his head, he held up his hands. "You have a key to my apartment and know my measurements. You've officially reached a new level of freaky, bro. I don't even wanna know how you came about all this, but I really need you to make a fast stage left up outta here."

"I have a way of analyzing the finer things," Itachi's smoothly trailed off, allowing the obvious show of his eyes sweep up and down Kiba's body, "especially when my interest is piqued."

A chilly shiver went up his spine. He was definitely creeped out now. He took a step back when itachi advanced toward him. "I'll be ready, now will you leave?" Kiba said, suddenly noting that he was being backed into a corner.

"For now," Itachi leaned forwards, bowing his head. Kiba swallowed. What the hell was he doing? He drew his hands back and shoved at Itachi's chest. He didn't budge and Kiba knew he'd used a good bit of strength. Looking up, he noticed the liquid smirk on Itachi's lips and that his face was getting much too close.

All the will to get away, evaporated into thin air as the pull of those hypnotic eyes kept Kiba rooted. This overwhelming aura emitted from Itachi in throes, as if an unseen power he alluded was able to chain Kiba right where he wanted him and he was helpless to stop it. But Kiba recognized easily enough. It's the same way he'd seduced women, looming ever so close that his sex appeal alone could speak for itself.

Itachi's was so potent and thick that Kiba could build a bed and sleep on it.

Two fingers gently pinched his chin and angled his face up. Kiba couldn't look away, he couldn't speak, couldn't breathe. If only he could remember how his body parts moved. Itachi's gaze was steady, but out of the corner of Kiba's eye, he saw movement and then the touch of Itachi's hand landing on his hip.

"I suspect this to be a lavishing evening." An airy, moist touch slid over Kiba's mouth in an almost faint matter, not a kiss, but something different that left his face warm and his stomach fluttering. "We'll both see to that, won't we?"

Kiba gave a breathless gasp when a gentle brush feathered over his pants. His eyes fluttered, he gritted his teeth and with a heavy heart, looked away. Itachi chuckled deeply, pulled back and went for the door.

Kiba's heart drummed in his chest with a viciousness. The door opened and closed. Kiba hadn't moved. He couldn't if he wanted to. He wanted to punch a hole in the wall. When he had gotten so weak-minded?

And, and what the hell just happened?


"I still can't believe you're so worked up over a date."

Kiba rolled his eyes at Sakura. He was standing in front of his dresser mirror in his bedroom, so he could make sure he didn't look too strange before he left for this 'date' and Sakura was flopped on his bed, balancing a basketball on her feet, watching his image upside down. It'd gone against his better judgment to invite her over for advice after learning she had the day off. Involving Naruto was absolutely out of the question and besides the blond, Kiba didn't really trust anyone else.

"I'm not worked up," he argued, fastening the tie around his neck, and turned slightly to the side to get a better view of his profile. He growled frustrated, and whipped the tie off, tossing it on the floor.

The suit Itachi sent wasn't a bad looking piece. A three piece outfit colored solid bark brown, a red tailored long sleeve shirt and brown gator skin shoes. All of which were courtesy of some Italian company downtown. It wasn't a bad fit, but the material made his skin itch and to be frank the color was too dull.

"Fuck it," he grunted, irritated and shrugged off the blazer. "I'm not wearing this." He sat on the edge of the bed, folding his arms.

Sakura rolled onto her stomach and pulled the blazer's price tag to her. Her green eyes widened. "Uh, for this price, you sure better." She righted herself to sit next to him, shaking her head. "Seriously, who has the time to spend money on one suit? I could buy twenty outfits, pay rent and have enough left over for my children's tuition. At this one has cash to burn."

"But it's ugly. Rich people like to use money as an excuse to be tacky," Kiba shrugged. "I'm not about to follow that road. I'll wear my own cheap gear before walking around in that get-up."

"Then do it. You have plenty of cute stuff in your closet!" Sakura sprung up cheerily and made a dash for his closet. Kiba shook his head and waited to see what she'd come out with. It wasn't a long wait either. Four polo shirts flew out with two pairs of acid washed blue jeans, some graphic designer socks, chained belts and a spiked wristbands. She stuck her head out, cheesed and went back inside, this time returning with her arms full of wrinkled dress pants, dark orange, a black and white button up shirts, and a pair of shiny church shoes.

Kiba helped her arrange everything in whatever fashion went best with what and when done, they stood back to admire the array. Sakura leaned on his shoulder. "Now, if I were trying to impress this girl, I'd go with whatever makes me comfortable, that way I'm guaranteed to be myself and not put on the act."

Right, he'd left that bit of information out about his date being male. He did trust Sakura, would even take a bullet for her, but her mouth was a whole other issue. Telling her a secret was equivalent to sharing it with entire country.

But she had a point. Why should Kiba go out of his way to make sure Itachi was happy with how he looked? If he wanted this damn date bad enough, Itachi will accept Kiba wrapped in a trash bag and duct tape. Kiba nodded to himself and pointed at the outfit in mind.

Together, he and Sakura shared a grin.


It's getting late and he still hadn't made it room. Kiba was worried. Pacing back and forth outside, he checked both ends of the street, hoping to see that familiar figure in white fur. Each time he came up disappointed. He just knew he shouldn't have let Akamaru go on his own. He's been so tired lately. What if he'd gotten lost on the way back or been picked up by some random driver?

Kiba sat on the first stair and checked his watch. It was close to the scheduled time. A few seconds more. The moon was up, the stairs twinkling to life with a few wispy clouds swaying across the cool sky. It was a fine night, quiet, illuminating. This part of the city had the sky compensate for its lack of proper streetlights. Would it be enough to lead him home? God, he hoped Akamaru was OK.

Not a minute past nine o'clock, a black Rolls Royce with tinted windows, custom dark rims, mercury blue headlights and tails, slowed in front of him. Kiba stood up. Who once in this side of the woods would ride up in something this expensive? It was all Itachi, it screamed his style.

True enough, the window slid down and there he was smirking with the contentment of a panther ready for its prey to get in striking range. The driver stepped out and opened the back door. Itachi scooted to the far side of the car, leaving only a view of his hand patting the space next to him. Giving the streets one final check, Kiba sighed when the same results came. No sign of Akamaru.

He trotted over to the car and slid inside, pulling his leg in before the driver slammed it with the door. The car was off, and Kiba kept his eyes looking out the window.

"That's not the suit I sent for you."

Kiba couldn't resist smirking at the stiffness in Itachi's voice. "No, it isn't," he'd picked this outfit in hopes that it'd discourage Itachi from wanting to repeat this night. He wet his hair with water and gel, running a fine toothcomb through to provide that extra spiky look. The rest was all Sakura's idea. She managed to find a black leather jacket and a white V-neck t-shirt to wear with a pair of grey cut jeans and biker boots. The jacket he buttoned up left a view of the shirt out for anyone wanting a gander of his chest. "I like this better." Kiba looked over his shoulder.

He didn't think Itachi ever went a day in his life without a suit to pair with the day of the week. This time he sported an all-black scheme, with a gold embroiled design of a green Japanese Dragon wrapping around his upper torso. He ditched his tie to leave the first buttons of his shirt open. The rest of him seemed as pair as his face and hands.

"It's a better look on you, regardless. A bit rebellious for my taste," Itachi hummed approvingly.

Kiba almost gawked. He snorted and went back to staring out the window. He wanted to keep the conversation between them at the bare minimum. The sooner this night was over with, the sooner he could go looking for Akamaru and see what Neji was up too. In the few hours they'd been apart Kiba's mind kept returning to their farewell kiss.

What an explosive moment that'd been. Kiba's lips still suffered from tingle sessions and warmth spurts. He looked forward to getting some more of that action again.

"You're awful quiet tonight. The moon's out. Don't feel like barking?"

Kiba bristled. "Excuse me?"

"Ah, much better. Now that I have your attention," Itachi slid along the leather seats and stretched his arm behind Kiba's headrest, "mind explaining why you despise my company so much? Have I wronged you in anyway?"

Kiba blinked, eyes shifty. He didn't know how to answer that. There wasn't a solid reason why he was so hostile with Itachi. He called him names, but then again so did Sasuke and Neji at one point. "No," he grumbled, folding his arms on his lap. "I'm not really cool with rich folks. You're all the same."

"Bad experience?"

"No, yes, I mean, no not really. That doesn't bother me."

"Perhaps not, but something is."

Kiba chuckled bitterly. "Like you'd be able to understand."

"Try me."

Kiba chanced a glance to the side. He blinked once. Itachi was closer than he realized. His voice was just pitched a certain octave that gave the illusion he was at a respectful distance. Kiba squirmed in his spot to inch closer to the window. He scratched behind his head and decided it wouldn't hurt to talk about it.

"Akamaru's not home," he spoke softly. "He went with me to Neji's retreat. I always let him travel on his own to get home. He hates being cramped in cars. This time I wish I'd forced him to ride back with us. . . it's been hours since I last seen him." Here is the part he expected Itachi to turn up his nose and chuckle at the ridiculous connection between a commoner and their pet.

"You're worried about him," Itachi said.

Kiba raised his eyebrows and looked at Itachi. He was wearing a dazzling smile and Kiba didn't think the blue eyes had anything to do with. His expression stayed stunned from the unexpected response. "Yeah," he murmured.

"So, now that we know the root of your worry, shall we fix it?" He leaned toward the front, pressed a button in the dark beneath the tinted window separating them and the drive. "Sai?"

"Yes sir?"

"Emerald Allude can wait, we'll have our dinner in here."

"Any particular place sir?"

Itachi touched Kiba's hand. "Anywhere you want is fine with me," he smirked, bringing that hand to his mouth and leaving a moist print. "Drive until we find something."

"Yes sir." The glass shield rolled back up, providing privacy again.

Kiba slowly withdrew his hand, rubbing over the foreign touch and sunk into the leather cushion. Was he stuck in the twilight zone or something? Since when did Itachi ever put anyone else's concerns before his?

"I'll have some of my men out on the search." Itachi dial several numbers in his phone, texting probably since he never brought it to his ear. "It shouldn't be difficult to find a large sized dog."

Kiba sat up stiffly, as though the seat had poked him in the back. "You have people who'll go out this late for my dog?"

"The allure of overtime is enough to make any man do the oddest requests. As the saying goes, pay a man enough and he'll walk bare to hell."

Kiba chewed his bottom lip, looked to the floor, then sharply to Itachi. "Why help me? You'll get nothing out of this."

"Your mind will split between us and the dog. It's too soon to declare myself equal competition for your attention and as it is, I would prefer your focus be on me instead of elsewhere."

So, he had his own reasons. Kiba pressed a hand over his chest. This was the kind of Itachi he knew and that worked just fine.

Itachi leaned to the opposite side of the car and came back with two wine glasses, both filled with sparkling wine. He held the glass out to Kiba. He hesitated a few moments before grabbing the glass.

"I don't trust you," Kiba said evenly.

"It's a common opinion. You'll do well to follow it," Itachi mused. "I've already made it clear what I want. Any future agendas, well, are to be seen?" He held up the glass, waiting.

Kiba knew what he wanted. He had no intentions of giving it to him either. For now, he'd allow this little party continue until they found Akamaru. That didn't mean he could enjoy himself a while, at least until he was back to his normal life with Neji. He smirked, clicking the edge of his glass to Itachi's. "That works." Of course, this little secret would be just between them.

Neji needn't know. Why bother? Kiba doubted this would ever happen again.


TBC: Their date isn't quite over. I hope you liked this chapter. It's my favorite by far.