For much of his life, Kiba has thought that there is no one in the world he could love as much as he loves his dog.

But he's gone and done it now.

He's met the one person that could give Akamaru a run for his money.

And he knows that he can't come back from this.

Her name's Sakura.

Sakura introduces herself to everyone on the floor with a smile like she's known you forever, and a friendly wave and shiny eyes behind thick, dark lashes and he's always had a weakness for pretty eyes. Anyone can be pretty with the right makeup or decent haircut, but you can't fake pretty eyes, and Sakura's are gorgeous. Green with darker green and yellow-gold, big and beautiful. They're the first thing he notices about her.

She's out of this world hot. That's the second thing he notices about her. She takes his hand to shake it and instead he pulls it to his lips and kisses it just to be silly, and when she blushes as pink as her hair, it hits him like a kick in the gut. If he ain't careful here on out, Sakura's the kind of girl a guy like him could go ape-shit over.

Sakura's shit at videogames.

This is one of the things Kiba likes most about her. She sucks worse than anything he's ever seen at not just one or two, but every videogame they play together. She has absolutely zero hand-eye coordination, she's easily flustered, she can't distinguish X from A buttons and she squeals and shrieks and hollers and talks shit.

She also plays him every single time he challenges her. The fact that she's garbage doesn't seem to affect her. She's in it for the fun of it, for the competition, and even if she can't remember how to switch guns or reload, she's so goddamn good at insulting him that he has no choice but to keep her around.

You wouldn't expect it, he thinks, coming from a girl like her, all the horrible things that come out of her mouth. She looks sweet and angelic, like a fairy tale fucking princess come to life with her pretty green eyes and her pretty pink hair that looks natural and her smile that lights up the fucking city.

Then she'll call you a bitchass motherfucker and he finds himself falling just slightly in love with her.

It's impossible not to notice the way Sasuke is around her.

He grew up with Sasuke, and even if they were sort of borderline friends, he knows Sasuke pretty well. And he sees the tenuous connection forming between Sasuke and Sakura and, just like his dog, he grows territorial.

Sasuke begins to notice Sakura. It's subtle at first. Kiba will happen to see Sakura on her way down to the gym, and then he'll look up again and there's Sasuke in his workout clothes right behind her. And they'll eat breakfast together sometimes, not talking, but sharing a table, and Kiba can't remember a single minute back in high school that Sasuke would have willingly shared anything with a girl.

Kiba feels territorial.

But he doesn't act on it. Because one look at Sasuke's eyes (which seem warmer lately) tells him Sasuke has staked his claim first.

They start dating.

He can tell before they reveal the news to anyone. There's a happy glow in Sakura's cheeks, and she smiles easily at almost everything. And Sasuke's marginally less of an asshole, more relaxed than Kiba's ever known him to be.

Kiba tries not to think about how happy they are. He dates other girls, cheap imitations of what he really wants: a redhead with a smart mouth, a girl with green eyes, a girl with a dancer's body. And he discards them almost immediately, tells himself they're just interim girls, and he won't say he's pining for the prettiest girl on campus, but everyone else just doesn't compare.

There's trouble in paradise, it seems.

Kiba thinks he should be happy, seeing the dark circles under Sakura's eyes from where she hasn't slept. He thinks he sould be happy seeing the pallor of Sasuke's skin, how much more reserved he is than ever before. He thinks he should be happy, knowing their relationship is about to come apart.

He isn't.

He doesn't like the way Sakura's smiling bravely but her pretty green eyes are full of fear and sorrow. He doesn't like the way he hears them arguing over things and he definitely doesn't like the sound of quiet sobbing from her room he can only hear because the walls are so thin.

And it's then he realizes he's in way over his head.

Because he's putting Sakura's happiness before his own, and that is the end of Kiba Inuzuka.

Sasuke leaves. Everyone is shocked.

Sakura is heartbroken.

She won't speak of it, not to anyone. No one knows what happened between them that led to such a harsh break, because Sasuke's gone (no one knows where he is) and Sakura's silent (no one will push her on it.)

She doesn't cry, not that he sees anyway, and he's paying attention. It's like her sadness goes beyond that. There is no more sparkle to her pretty green eyes, no shine of happiness, and Kiba gets the sense that she's laid an electric fence around her heart.

Even though she's sad and even though he hates Sasuke for doing this and even though he knows it's Bad News to get swept up in this whirlwind, Kiba's always been very, very good at getting under electric fences.

It starts off slow.

She's in no place to date anyone right after the break, but she's in the market for a new best friend (besides a pregnant Ino, of course) and Kiba fills the void as best he can.

They do homework together even if Kiba's never cared a lick for school before, but Sakura's the studious, responsible type (he can't believe he's into her) and she makes him want to be a better person, a better student, so he cracks open his Biology books with less enthusiasm than she does, but his grades are improving so maybe she's a good influence after all.

They play videogames, too. She's not improving in any area but swearing, and she's starting to laugh again, really laugh, with her head thrown back and her eyes full of mirth and there's that shine again, that shine he loved from the first time he kissed her hand.

They go on adventures. Trips to the city, hikes through the nearby woods, shopping excursions at the bohemian stores in town. He doesn't really care what they do, as long as she's doing it with him, and it's easy in those moments to forget that another guy has ownership over the heart he's fighting so hard for.

Sakura cuts her hair three months after Sasuke's gone.

It's shocking, but it suits her, the angled bob that's longer in the front than in the back, the sweeping bangs and layers; she looks amazing and when he tells her, she kisses him.

It knocks him off his feet. It's a sweet kiss, and he's never had one of those before, the innocent, tenuous kind that's the first step to Something More. And when she pulls back, she's blushing like she did when he introduced himself and biting her lip and the words are out of his mouth before he can think.

"You wanna do somethin this weekend?"

Sakura hesitates, green eyes contemplative, even worried, before a smile spreads across her face and she replies, "Okay, yeah. Sure."

It feels like victory.

They aren't together.

Not officially, anyway. Dating, yes. But Kiba can't call himself her boyfriend. Can't call Sakura his girlfriend.

To her credit, she's been very clear with him that this is not a serious thing. It's something fun, it's a nice distraction, but her heart's locked away somewhere Kiba can't find it. And he'll take what he can get from her, every little bit of herself she's willing to give, because he thinks maybe if he works hard enough at it, she'll give him what she gave Uchiha.


But he knows to take his time with her. He takes her out to the movies and to dinner and for long romantic walks. And they go fun places, too, like laser tag and roller skating and rock climbing. And she laughs and teases him and he laughs and teases her and pretends like there's no Sasuke at all, there never was.

He's head over fucking ass for this girl.

They're drunk when they have sex for the first time.

Kiba thinks it's for the best. He's too much of a coward to make a move on her, too afraid of rejection, so the handle of vodka lends him some courage. And she's too delicate, too fragile from her horrible breakup to even consider something like that so soon.

Till there's alcohol in her blood and color in her cheeks and something wild in her eyes as she pulls him to her from across the party and kisses him like an inferno.

He loses it.

Kiba's no innocent virgin. He's been having sex since middle school and with more girls than he's cared to count, because before this moment, sex was just sex. It wasn't anything more than that.

But Sakura's not that kind of girl.

They're back in his dorm at lightspeed. He barely kicks the door closed before he has her on her back, her legs wrapped tight around his waist, animalistic in their need to be close to one another.

The phrase 'making love' crosses his mind through the fuzz of alcohol and sex and Sakura, but he doesn't voice it aloud.

Because he might love her, but she's made no such promise to him in return.

Still, she fucks like a rock star and he's hit rock bottom at this point.

It's the moment he realizes he's going to have his heart broken, but he doesn't know when it'll happen: the moment when Sakura opens her mouth and screams out his name and pulls his hair hard enough to hurt, the moment when he sees stars and planets and colors outside the rainbow. He knows that it won't happen right away, but it will happen soon.

She's gonna destroy him.

And he doesn't care.

Sakura's getting more and more comfortable with him.

They babysit little Hana together. She cooks for him and smiles for him and they keep fucking (he calls it making love in his head) and kissing and sometimes, it's like she never met Sasuke Uchiha at all. Sometimes it's like she isn't this wounded little creature with a broken heart.

She tells him secrets.

She tells him she's been raped. She tells him it happened in high school, that they never caught the guy. That it annihilated her ability to trust men for a long time, that it still frightens her to be alone for too long, that there's nightmares to this day and moments she feels like she can't breathe.

Kiba can't believe it. He's never noticed anything amiss about her before, and vaguely, irrationally, he wonders if Uchiha noticed that. Was there something about Sakura Haruno he overlooked? This horrific secret? Did she ever tell Sasuke?

Instead of asking her these selfish questions, he presses a quick kiss to her forehead, ignoring his blind fury at what she's divulged and telling her it doesn't change anything between them.

"You don't mind?" she asks almost timidly, like she's expecting him to turn his back to her.

Like he ever could.

"It happened," he says. "It sucks. It's shit that it happened. But you're not a bad person, Sakura. You didn't deserve that and you're strong as hell for coming through it like this."

He wants to finish with 'I love you.' He wants to tell her how crazy about her he is, but that breaks her most absolute rule:

Don't get too close.

She smiles beautifully and they kiss and she falls asleep in the crook of his arm while he strokes her short (growing) pink hair and wisheswisheswishes that someday she'll look at him the way he looks at her.

Everything falls apart one cold winter's night.

It's the moment Kiba's been loathingdreadingfearing, the moment he realized was an inevitability the first night they fucked (madelove).

Sasuke's back. Whether in words or body or presence, he's reclaiming his spot in Sakura's heart.

He can't be angry with Sakura, but he is.

Who is she to lead him on the way she has? Who is she to sigh his name like he matters, to kiss him like she means it, to give him everything she has except her fucking heart?

He shouldn't be angry with Sakura. She never promised him anything besides a distraction, but she neglected to mention how she'd make him fall in love with her only to back out at the last second.

She doesn't want to hurt him, Kiba knows, as she looks up at him with snow in her hair and worry in her eyes. She needs time, she says. Time to sort things out.

But Kiba knows what that means, even if she doesn't.

So he's got to let her go. Because whether it happens right now, as they walk from Ino's in the snow, or five weeks from now, or ten years, Sakura's going to leave him. She left her heart with Sasuke and he's come back to claim it.

All that's left to do is set her free and move on.

So he doesn't show her how it kills him to kiss her cheek and tell her to have all the time she wants. He doesn't show her how angry he is, how disappointed, how frustrated, how sad. He doesn't show her how it feels like he won't survive this breakup, because that's what it is, even if Sakura can't define it.

When he turns his back on her, their tenuous bond broken like his heart, he wonders if this is how she felt the night Sasuke left.

Like there was nothing left inside of her to break.


She's happy now. Again. Really, truly happy.

Sasuke's staying. His stuff is moved back in from Oto and his arm is draped around Sakura's shoulders and there's so much fucking love in the bastard's dark eyes that he can't even hate him properly.

How can he hate someone who makes Sakura shine like starlight?

The gang's all back together. When they gather in Sakura's dorm to watch the first baseball game of the season, it feels like everything's right again.

Everything, of course, except the way that numbness never left his heart.

It doesn't ache to look at Sakura and Sasuke together. It doesn't ache to picture the way she must look when Sasuke moves inside her the way Kiba used to. It doesn't ache to hear they're moving in together over the summer and it doesn't ache to realize that Sakura doesn't even miss him.

It's just numb.

And in so many ways, it's worse than the ache.

So he has girlfriends. Fucks them and leaves them when he's done because making love is for saps and it only breaks your heart in the end. They mean nothing. They don't erase this numbness, nothing ever will.

And he loveslovesloves Sakura as much as he ever has.

And he hates her as well.

Because she let him think he was something more than a spectator in the battle for her heart, only to find that in the end…

He wasn't even a contender.

note.. Well hello there, everybody. I wanted to kind of let you all know what was going on inside Kiba's head during the events of 'Horizon', as well as provide a foundation for his character in 'Vista.' I like Kiba so much and I feel like everyone, at some point in their lives, has been in his shoes more or less: loving someone who can't love you back the same way.

Enjoy! (I hope.) Title from Regina Spektor's album of the same name. -Daisy