He ran. And ran. And kept running, running away, as they leapt at him, clawed at him, cried out for his blood, and chased him.

Aburame Shino was young. He was six, in fact. And young people don't exactly understand a lot of things are necessary. Especially if those things hurt.

What many people don't understand is that the Aburame don't wear their trench coats for secrecy. They don't wear them because they hate the sun, or because their bugs crawl all over their bodies constantly, or even because it is clan uniform.

They wear them to hide their scars.

Not horrid battle scars, long scratches inflicted from kunai or burns from only slightly dodged Katon. Scars from the kikaichu beetles that live in their bodies.

The secret technique of the Aburame begins with the beetles converging on their hosts and burrowing into them. They bite into their skin and infiltrate all those little nooks and crannies in your body and make their homes. From there, they siphon off chakra and blood, sucking it into their little bodies and growing bigger and stronger, evolving and acclimating to their hosts body.

But in doing so, while the blood does not leak out and the wound is not infected, the holes cannot clot over and heal. Eventually, the body gets used to having holes in its forearms, neck, in between the scapula, around the abdomen, and calves. But no one wants to see them. Or to see people's reactions to them.

After adapting, however, the kikai still need to take blood and chakra from the host. Though the Aburame pride themselves on their lack of emotion and constant logical viewpoint, even they cannot hide behind a fa├žade of emotionlessness forever.

Which brings us back to the original topic. The vampiric feed of the kikaichu is painful, and young Shino does not like pain.

At a level of maturity beyond his years, he understands the reason for the pain. He gets that the kikai, in order to accept that he is their leader, must take an offering of life sources. He knows that this is needed.

But he doesn't have to like it.

It is inevitable, that he will exhaust himself and feel the full brunt of the feeding pain, but he cannot help but be afraid. And at the tender age of six, fear commonly overrides logic. It is like a shot at the medic-nin's office. You know you will have to take it, but you put it off for as long as possible, delay the hurt with all your half-baked excuses, your whining and screaming and thrashing and crying. Shino runs and runs away from the pain, procrastinates, and tries to escape.

But of course, at some point, he falls, and the kikaichu beetles converge.

And eat.

/

When Shino is thirteen, Team 8 departs from Konohagakure no Sato for a nearby village to eliminate a group of bandits. Shino knows he must be in prime condition for the incoming battle, so he allows his friends, his little soldiers, to feed on his chakra but not his blood. His blood does not replenish as fast as his chakra, so he can only provide them half of a meal.

Team 8 engages the bandits. Once again in their lives, Kurenai gives them an order that translates into the execution of all enemies:

"Let loose."

Kiba tosses Akamaru a soldier pill and the two tear into the bandits like devils. Hinata activates the Byakugan and begins to decimate all those around her with the ultimate Hyuga taijutsu, Jyuken. Their jonin sensei spreads a simple confusion genjutsu and begins to strike her foes down with no mercy. And Shino...

Shino spreads his arms and utters, "Go." His insects fly out of his sleeves and collar faster than he has ever seen, and they fly out to their targets as blurs of black. They amass on each one that they encounter and begin to suck out their chakra reserves, however feeble, with a gluttonous hunger. Shino does not notice; he is too preoccupied with the bandits he has descended upon like a predator upon his prey. His taijutsu is more than a match for the bandits' drunken brawl, as he reaps the conciousnesses of those he attacks. His attacks cut swathes into their forces as his teammates obliterate all they can reach with their own techniques.

Soon, few bandits are left standing. Not one of them had even caught any of the Konoha in, not a single blow landed. Shino is now the only one left fighting. As the last bandit realizes he is alone, the nin-bugs return to their host for a moment.

"Surrender now," he orders him. "Come quietly and we will not harm you." But contrary to that statement, his bugs float out of their shadows once again, like menacing hazes of death. Shino blinks; he did not release them.

"Stand down," he commands calmly. He expects the bugs to return to his coat.

They don't.

The vampiric beetles cover the man, and begin to drink his blood. They no longer care for whos blood they take, for they thirst and their master will not give them drink. Shino stands in shock as his genin teammates watch in horror and their squad captain shouts for Shino to withdraw. The Aburame tries to recall them, but they no longer respond to his calls. All he can do is watch as his little comrades devour the man alive as he screams in agony.

When they are finished with their meal, a thin, bony, and dry corpse falls upon the ground, littered with little pockmarks and holes. There is no more blood left, the autopsy team reports after Team 8 returns with the body in tow. Kurenai asks Shino if he is okay.

"I am fine sensei. Why you ask? Because a ninja's profession is killing." But Shino is becomes more withdrawn after the incident.

He has taken his first kill, the first in his class to do so. And he didn't lift a finger. He didn't even try.

When Sasuke hears this, he is jealous. He was Rookie of the Year! He should be much better than this low-level clan child!

When Ino hears this, she only reaffirms her opinions on the bug boy. Creepy and disturbing.

When Iruka hears this, he only wishes he had the time to comfort his old student. He makes a note in his mind to visit the Aburame Compound and check on him.

When Naruto hears this, he feels sympathy. He remebers the time he had given in to the Kyuubi no Kitsune within him and attacked Haku. He shudders at the memory and pushes away the nightmares of bloody villagers and a deep crimson chakra.

/

Shino is sixteen when the Fourth Great Shinobi World War begins. He and his division head out to battle the horde of Zetsu clones. He doesn't feed his bugs this time, knowing that if they are ravenous, they will make short work of the clones.

He again releases them after engaging. They fall upon the Zetsu and they siphon their chakra and inhuman blood. But a feast is a feast, and the Aburame kikai have always been known to never waste food. Iwa nin remember their own weakened bug clans, and avert their eyes from the scene. Their bugs had always attacked and killed, but they had never fed on their enemies.

Dry Zetsu dropped to the forest floor all over the field. Soon there were no enemies left alive, and the bodies began to decompose into plant food. A Naruto kage bunshin soon arrived, but he dispersed as soon as he found that he was not needed. As Shino walked through the clearing, ninja from other villages looked on in respect at his ruthless attack. But the Konoha nin observed in fear, shying away at his presence. They had never seen an Aburame this bloodthirsty. Other clan members glanced uneasily at each other, worried for the teen's mental state.

Shino ignored all of this and focused on crushing the small whisper in the back of his mind, telling him to suck all of them dry...

/

Shino is twenty-four, and one of ANBU's finest commanders. Rokudaime Hokage Uzumaki Naruto only sends him on assassinations now. Though he worries about his friend's almost monstrous killing appetite, he knows that if he doesn't direct somewhere, Shino will lose control and the shinobi would lose a valuable asset.

The now adult Aburame walks calmly through the bloodless hallways of the target mansion. The guards lay about, pale and gaunt as dead trees in the scorching desert, and the ceiling began to fall in, revealing blazing flames all over the building. His kikai had long stopped buzzing, satisfied with the massive amount of blood and chakra they had taken in. The daimyo of the Land of Frost would no longer be ruling his country with an iron fist.

Shino is walking through the forest when he comes across a little girl. She is only four, drawn by the great flames devouring the mansion.

She asks him, "Mister, why is there a fire?" Shino only looks at her, silent, his ANBU mask off. A buzzing erupts, the kikaichu hungry once again.

"Mister?" The girl pokes the strange man and realizes he is covered in bugs. She pulls away quickly but a firm hand plants itself on her shoulder. She looks up again to see Shino smiling, his collar unzipped by is free hand. He opens his mouth. And bites down.

When the rest of the villagers come minutes later, they find the girl's body drained of all her blood. They also find her neck pierced with four small holes.

/

Naruto is worried. The population of Konoha has once again reached overload, and they need to cull the population. This was one of the major reasons why the Senju had been massacred, he had discovered, as most of them had been civillians and none of their ninja bore the Mokuton.

"Hebi."

Shino, his snake mask on, stepped out of the shadows. Naruto sighed. He hated assigning missions like this, but he had learned these were necessary evils to keep Konoha alive. After all, it wouldn't do to allow the tree to become overgrown.

"Hebi, execute Mission: Pruning Season."

Shino grinned behind the mask and collar, bearing his fangs.