Ch 6 : Aburame

It was with hesitancy that Sakura, having returned home with her mother, turned to Hikari.

"Kaasan..." she started quietly. "My friend at school invited me to his house for supper." Hikari watched her daughter carefully. Sakura seemed torn between reluctance to leave and excitement to go.

"Who is your friend, Sakura?" Hikari asked gently, with a reassuring smile. Sakura smiled as relief passed through her. She smiled sweetly at her mother.

"Aburame Shino, kaasan. He invited me to dine with his family tonight," she replied. Hikari raised her eyebrows in surprise. "The Aburame clan is fairly reclusive," she considered. "I understand if they'd be uncomfortable with me being there."

Sakura nodded in response. "Hai kaasan, that's why I'm asking." She wrapped her Rms around her mothers waist, who pet her hair. "I'm glad I have my kaasan back...but I really want to spend time with Shino-san." Hikari smiled mournfully. Her little girl was so grown up now.

"Does Aburame-san know where we live? " Hikari questioned her daughter. At that Sakura pulled back, pulling her hair from her neck, exposing the kikaichu. "No," she admitted. "But he will soon."

Hikari realized her too grown up daughter was dismissing her, and didn't want to push anymore. She left the entry hall to the kitchen, to prepare dinner for her and her late working husband.

Sakura gently pushed some chakra into the kikaichu, opening up the connection. 'Shino-san?' she questioned curiously, unsure if the message would pass that sort of distance. She felt startlement, before a unsure response got back to her.

'Is that you, Sakura-san?' and embarassed Shino got back to her, after a mental stutter. Sakura repressed a pleased giggle, but it was easily translated over the connection. She head up to her room, and unpacked her luggage from the rune on her wrist. It was unneccesary now, but would come in later.

Sakura let the embarrasment fade from the connection as she sent emotions of apology to her friend. She felt a mental sigh. 'It's okay Sakura-san, I was just surprised.' Despite his attempt to block it she felt the feel of heat and dampness that had Shino's kikaichu buzzing happily.

'I need to wash up too,' Sakura admitted with a severe lack of modesty. Shino, in the bath, blushed and sunk under the water.

Sakura shook her head mirthfully at poor Shino. 'I can't see you Shino-san, so don't worry.' She considered for a long moment. 'Is there anything special I should wear to dinner tonight? ' Sakura asked. Shino considered himself, sitting up again.

'Somewhere in between casual and semi-formal would be logical,' he admitted. 'My family does not stand highly on dress code, but Chichi-ue is the clan head.' She sent a feeling of acknowledgement.

'How were you able to contact me through the kikaichu from a distance? ' Shino wondered, slipping out of the bath. 'The kikaichu can tell a general impression of what is going on, but direct communication between the Aburame has always been in close contact.'

Sakura considered. 'I've never let anyone tell me something was impossible,' she admitted. 'I've always believed at least six impossible things before breakfast.' A vague sense of incredelous humor hit her and she pouted a bit.

'Sakura-san, you redefine impossible each time I meet you,' he replied. 'There is nothing logical about you.' Sakura broadcasted pride. After a long minute she spoke again.

'I need to wash off so I'm placing the kikaichu down,' Sakura told Shino. An embarassed affirmative reached her. 'How long until I should pick you up?' he asked.

'About a half hour,' Sakura replied, her eyes shining in delight. Shino paused in his drying. 'It will take me that long to finish up here and come get you,' he acknowledged.

A smile drifted over her face. 'I will see you then.' She carefully slipped her finger under the kikaichu and placed the insect on her open windowsill. As she retreated into the shower she quickly washed, her pink hair finally rid of its grime.

She glanced longingly at the bath. The active taijutsu had made her a little sore, but she knew the hot water would put her to sleep from the fatigue and that's the last thing she wanted. Still, a shower with proper washing was much nicer than casting cleansing charms on herself.

Sakura had never been so thankful for her past mothers book of grooming charms, as she dried her hair and spelled it silky. Luna, as she was then, had only found the book years later, when refurbishing the Rook for sale.

There had been too many bad memories there, although she hated to leave her painted room. The surprise of a safe in her mothers destroyed workroom had availed her to many experimental spells and theories. Her father hadn't touched the room after the accident, leaving it as a painful reminder of her mothers death.

But that memory was far faded, comforted by the memories of her new mother. She shuddered as she watched herself in the mirror. We almost lost our mother again, she told herself. Be very grateful that we didn't. Her reflection nodded at her, acknowledging the original Sakura's wisdom.

We need to protect our mother, the reflection told her. Something big is going to happen. Sakura considered that. We can make a amulet of some sort, with runes and magic and chakra.

What about seals? Her reflection asked. It is something we can ask about, she admitted easily. We have many friends. The reflection seemed to See something. She shared it with the original Sakura.

Naruto-kun needs to learn seals and runes too, they both said at the same time. With that thought in mind, she slipped into her room. She wasn't sure what to wear for a first meeting.

Finally, she decided on a simple yukata, comfortable and soft cotton. It was light blue and had silver stripes up the curve of the opening. She slipped on some white slippers as she noticed the kikaichu flutter out the window.

A knock was heard, followed by tbeir creaky front door opening. A soft murmer from a male voice was barely audible.

"Sakura!" Hikari called. "Your friend is here! " A happy smile stretched across her face. She had friends. Ino had been her only friend for so long, much like Ginny but only so much better than Ginny had ever been to her. And now she had lots of friends, even though they were all new.

She slipped down the hallway, swift but graceful. As she approached the foyer she slowed. Hikari had a small frown on her face. She had the hardest time breaking Sakura of the habit of keeping her shoes in her room instead of in the shoe rack in the foyer. But generally Sakura enjoyed going barefoot and their relationship was still a little raw so she decided not to nag.

Hikari watched her daughter's eyes light up in happiness at the sight of the quiet and odd boy and she felt a bit of joy in her heart. Sakura's oddity had pushed children away for so long, except for sweet little Ino-chan.

Sakura Felt Shino's happiness at seeing her, despite the stotic facade. They slipped out the door and walked quietly side by side. She could Feel overwhelming curiosity from Shino. Her green eyes shined in joy as she gave Shino a shy smile and slipped her hand into his.

The startlement faded into embarrased pleasure as his palm vibrated slightly under hers. Shino was surprised to have a friend that was a non-Aburame girl on the first day of Academy. His father had warned him of the general population's distaste for bugs, especially girls.

But she didn't let his hand go as the tempted kikaichu swarmed over their connected hands. She giggled and smiled at Shino. 'It tickles!' she told him. His lips quirked in humor.

'And they don't bother you?' Shino asked hesitantly. Sakura shook her head. 'They are kind, like you are.' she told him. His face warmed. 'You barely know me,' he told her. 'Its illogical to believe that.'

Sakura only shook her head again. 'No, I can Feel it,' she told him. This form of communication was impossible to lie over, and he knew she was being honest.

'I thought you were going to be emancipated,' Shino mentioned idly. A mix of remorse and hope touched him. 'I thought I was too, but the Hokage helped resolve things.' A curiosity was felt before they fell into a comfortable silence.

It was only minutes later that they approached the Aburame clan complex. The vine covered gates were guarded by a single Aburame, whom let them in easily.

'Be careful to stay on the path,' Shino told Sakura. She spent a long moment admiring the seals that were invisible to the eye but easily revealed through Mage sight. 'What do the seals do?' she asked, her slightly glowing eyes meeting his.

The glow was beautiful in the shade of the heavily wooded Aburame complex, Shino thought, wondering more about his friend constantly. 'The seals warn the many varieties of insects in our complex not to land on the path,' he admitted easily.

Sakura turned her gaze on the forest, the chirping, buzzing, and other insect calls relaxing her. "It's wonderful in here," she whispered in a melodic voice. Shino enjoyed the sound of her voice, which was slightly sing songy and distant.

Her eyes focused on a wrackspurt. Well...that's different, she thought, looking at the large bee. A insect wrackspurt. 'Thank him for saving my nest from the fire...' the feminine creature buzzed, before disappearing.

The coinnection that was currently open with Shino, mixed with the magic the kikaichu were gently feeding on, caused Shino to hear the voice too, and he tensed. 'What?' he exclaimed.

Sakura smiled at the space the bee had been. 'That was a wrackspurt of a queen bee that passed away,' she told him. 'You saved her hive from a fire?' she questioned.

He considered that. 'There was a time when I was younger that a tree near our honey hives was struck by lightning and a burning branch crashed next to them. The smoke put the bees to sleep, so they were unable to warn us. But a smelled the smoke and managed to smother the fire with my jacket.' He shrugged modestly. 'It didn't seem like a big deal at the time, but logically I assume that she was grateful.'

The idea of his hearing the voice of a spirit of a bee was somehow tame compared to everything else that had happened around Sakura. The insects themselves had never actually used words to communicate with him, instead using impressions and feelings.

He slipped in the front door, parting hands with Sakura and gesturing her in. Shino slipped off his boots, and turned to watch Sakura as she slipped off her slippers and stuck them in the guest cubicle. Shino commanded the kikaichu on her hand to return to him.

They hovered petulantly in the air for a moment in indecision before flitting over to him and crawling up his sleeve. He mentally sighed in relief. Both Sakura and Shino were surprised, however, as the kikaichu leaked magic into his system.

Shino could feel his minimal chakra swell with a tint of different energy. It was very little, but it was refreshing. What was that? he thought. It came as some surprise that Sakura seemed to hear his thoughts.

'I'm not sure,' she replied to his private thoughts. Could his kikaichu had given him some magic of his own? It was a surprise to Sakura, however, that he heard her thought.

'Magic?!' Shino thought incredulously. They met each others eyes and decided to discuss it later, apart from his parents home. Sakura was unexpectedly connected with the Aburame heir. Her green eyes grew distant as she repressed her magic. It would be more than a little awkward if the same thing happened with his parents.

Shino was unable to repress an actual snort. Yes, having his parents share thoughts with his friend would be more than just a little awkward.

'I'm home!' he broadcasted to the household. Sakura took his hand again nervously as he gently tugged her into the living area. Shibi walked out from his office, as Asuna, a second generation Aburame, and Shino's mother, greeted him from the kitchen where she was working.

'Welcome home Shino,' she broadcasted to him. 'Dinner will be done soon.' Shibi eyed the two standing in front of him hand in hand. He noted his son's kikaichu creeping out over the pinkettes hand, who didn't seem to be bothered.

"Greetings," Shibi intoned. 'Well, son, she's cute, but is that a good enough reason to bring home a stranger.'

Sakura flushed and gave Shibi a belligerant look. 'Shino is my friend!' she murmered defensively. Shino's grip tightened on her hand as a wariness passed through his father.

'This girl can communicate with us,' he commented in a deceptively mild tone. 'That shouldn't be possible.' Shino shook his head slowly.

'It's not logical, Chichi-ue, but things rarely are with Sakura-san,' Shino responded. Sakura relaxed. It didn't seem like she needed to defend her friendship with Shino anymore. A flare of delight rose up between the Aburame's in the household.

'A new friend, indeed,' Shibi commented sardonically. 'I understand your attraction to her now.' Shino flushed. 'Not like that! ' he snapped.

'Aburame-sama, no offense but we are eight years old,' Sakura replied mirthfully. A tinkling laughter slipped out her lips and Shibi's mustache twitched in repressed smile. Shino turned further embarassed.

'It's time for dinner!' Asuna called. They filed into the dining area. The table was decked with various fruits, salads filled with edible flowers, and a rich grain porridge filled with honey coating it. The main course was a squash of some kind cooked in butter and slices.

Sakura's eyes lit up. This was practically faery food! Shino unbuttoned his coat so he could eat, his lips twitching in repressing an indulgent smile. Shibi was very good at reading expressions though, and relaxed at their interactions.

'I hope you do not mind the lack of meat,' Shibi commented. 'We eat very much like the insects we tend, so meat is a rarity.' And its usually raw, Shino thought. Sakura wrinkled her nose in deep contemplation momentarily before flashing a grin at Shibi.

'It looks wonderful,' Sakura told Asuna in compliments. 'I appreciate allowing me into your home.' Asuna was raised with a mother who was not an Aburame, so her expressions were less stifled and she gave Sakura an approving smile.

'You are a very polite young lady,' she responded. 'And any friend of Shino's is welcome here.'

They fell into a comfortable pattern of eating and small talk. They discussed the food, Shino's day at the academy, Shibi's work with the clan, and Asuna's work in the Aburame gardens where most of the meal came from.

Finally they were done eating and Shibi regarded Sakura. The time to question had come upon them. 'Why is it that you can communicate with us?' he finally asked. She tilted her head in indecision. 'Can you keep a secret? ' Sakura asked worriedly.

'So long as it will not harm the clan or Konoha I will do so,' Shibi permitted. She stood up from the table and closed her eyes. A soft white glow surrounded Sakura as she seemed to shrink. It was only a matter of moments before the glow died and Sakura was nowhere to be found. A pink butterfly with green spots on its wings fluttered and landed on Shino's head.

'Probably because of this,' the butterfly admitted. Shock was the only feeling in the room and her wings flapped nervously. Shibi let out an actual chuckle. 'Shino is right,' he decided. 'There is nothing logical about you.'

The butterfly fluttered off Shino's head and Sakura returned, a embarassed flush on her face. She let out a surprised squeak as Asuna wrapped her in an out of character hug.

'She's so cute Shibi-koi!' Asuna gushed. 'Can we keep her?' Shino's eyebrow twitch. 'Haha-ue!' Shino cried in dismay. Shibi's mustache twitched in humor.

'Now now, Asuna, Sakura has her own family to return to,' Shibi scolded. Asuna's hive buzzed in a mix of dismay and happiness as she let the heavily embarassed Sakura go.

'Come over whenever you want,' Asuna demanded. Sakura smiled shakily at the overwhelming familiarity. Asuna had a case of lovebugs for sure, that had to be it. Shino mouthed 'lovebugs?' with more than a little curiosity.

Either that or someone dosed her with a love potion, Sakura insisted. Shino frowned a little. She could just like you, he thought to her. Sakura shook her head. Shibi watched as the two seemed to silently communicate in the span of a few seconds. He wondered how they did that, as Shino wasn't 'speaking' in a way anyone else can hear.

Sakura gave Asuna a timid smile. 'I need to go home Aburame-san,' she told Asuna. 'My family will be waiting for me and its getting dark.' Asuna just smiled. 'Please, there is no need for formalities with me,' she told Sakura. 'Call me kaasan.'

Sakura's eyes brightened and she nodded. 'Okay...kaasan.' Shino stepped forward. 'It's only logical for me to walk you home,' Shino told her. Sakura smiled shyly at Shibi. 'Thanks for having me, Aburame-sama,' she said, bowing to Shibi in gratefulness. Shino escorted Sakura home in a pleasant silence. Sakura's mind wandered to the home in the forest and how Anko was doing, and Shino questioned about those. Sharing thoughts meant there were no secrecy between them. She wondered idly about how he made it past her occulmancy barriers, and he wondered idly what occulmancy barriers were.

That night, with an accidentally shared lesson, he started meditating on working on his own occulmancy. The flashes of magic and disjointed scenes from a past life flit across his mind. Was Sakura really reincarnated?

As he went to sleep he knew he wouldn't be sharing this with anyone. Who would believe him anyway?

A.N. Before you start wondering about pairings, remember they are 8 years old. Shino is happy to have a friend that understands him and Sakura feels comfortable around someone who respects nature and feels kind. As for the butterfly animagus, it made perfect sense to me so I did it. I'm not saying I may not pair them in the end but pairings are not going to be happening at 8.