Shallow Days, Dead Skies Ahead
Disclaimer:
I do not own Naruto

A/N: Honestly, I don't know why people don't like Shino. He's funny and adorable.

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Aburame Shino
"
Points of Light"

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Shino never understood.

There were kids like Naruto and Sasuke that were always alone, and yet, at the same time, they were the talk of the village. Everyone hated them, despised them, spoke badly of them, but still they were recognized, even if they didn't think they were. Shino knew they were, because everyone around them was talking about them.

His thing was, why were they noticed, just because they were alone? He was alone too, he was always alone – he had no friends, he had only a father who didn't really suffice as a conversation, and his mother never went near him – so why didn't anyone notice him?

The Aburame Clan's Kekkei Genkai chased everyone away. No one wanted their bugs – his bugs – to 'infest them' (as they said), and no one crowded him with praise (not even the teachers), because, really, his bloodline wasn't something to be jealous of. In fact, it wasn't as if the Aburame had any role in Konohagakure's history (the important parts of it, anyway), so he really didn't have any glory to his family name.

Not that he cared, that is. Popularity wasn't really a fickle food that Shino wanted. And even if he did, he wouldn't want it because of his heritage or bloodline limit. He would want it because he was nice, and friendly, and… and… he would want it for who he was, rather than where he came from.

But he didn't want popularity. His goal of being a shinobi was one thing and one thing only – to protect his village. There was really no other reason – he didn't want to prove himself, he didn't want to show off his strength, or kill anyone, he just wanted to protect his home.

That, however, didn't include his life goal: Shino Aburame wanted nothing but to be noticed. No one talked to him or about him at school, and didn't even bother to look at him. Shino sometimes wondered if he were a ghost…

That is, until one day.

It was February ninth, when Shino was six years old, at eight twenty-three A.M. That day specifically was show and tell, something that only came around once.

Shino had practiced and practiced at home what he was going to say. He rehearsed as if it were an audition. He made sure to speak loud so people would hear him, and he made sure to bring pictures so everyone could pass them around and see the insect he was bringing. This was his chance to show the world he was there, and that he existed.

Things didn't exactly go the way he planned.

"This is the extremely rare Cerambycidae, a species that most thought were already extinct. This insect-" Shino was cut off by – no surprise – Uzumaki Naruto.

"Ehhhhhh? We're wasting our time on a bug?" He dragged out, lying his chin on his hand.

"It's not a bug," a six year-old Shino deadpanned. "It's an insect."

"Ah, who cares? Let's get onto my show and tell!"

Iruka slammed his hand down on his desk, "Naruto! You're last name is Uzumaki! You have to wait your turn just like everyone else! And don't be so impatient! Shino is only the first kid to go up!"

Shino was glaring at Naruto through his sunglasses. His fists were clenched, wrinkling the pictures he had brought, and frankly, he felt like crying. This was his first chance to have the spotlight, and Naruto took it from him! No one would remember his carefully planned presentation, all they would remember was Naruto running his mouth (as usual)!

Iruka sighed, "Shino, I'm sorry, could you start over- Oi! Where are you going, Shino?"

Shino made his way to the back of the classroom, laying his head into his arms. It was all over. His chance was ruined… All because of that idiot…

"What's his problem, dattebayo?" He heard Naruto mutter, and just after he heard Iruka screaming at him.

It was all over.

After that, it wasn't long before everyone went up and gave their presentations. Almost everyone was interrupted by the loudmouth Uzumaki, and even the only kid who was after Naruto was interrupted because Naruto was complaining about how everyone kept interrupting him (for revenge, if nothing else). After show and tell was over, there was a quick review on the proper way to handle a kunai, and then it was off to recess.

Shino went outside alone, as always, making his way out to his usual spot, which was over by the river nearby.

He was stomping around angrily on his way there before he heard, "Hey, wait!"

Shino didn't pay any attention. Whoever it was, they were probably just talking to someone nearby, and the misunderstanding would just bring his day down and-

"Hey, hold on, Shino, was it?"

Shino stopped at the mention if his name. Yes, they were definitely talking to him, but who was it?

Shino craned his head, just to see a boy from his class running after him. He knew he sat two desks in front of him, and was the only kid besides him who was allowed to bring his pet to class. He couldn't quite place his name…

The boy had scraggly, dark brown hair and tanned, rough skin. His eyes were a piercing black color, and on each cheek was an upside down, blood red triangle. The boy stopped just in front of him, panting, his small apricot-colored dog padding around just behind him, sticking out his tongue.

The boy stood up, "Hey, you're Shino, right?"

Shino nodded, staring at the boy who actually knew his name.

The boy held out a piece of paper to him, and at first Shino thought the boy was only there to give him something from Iruka, but then he saw it was a picture – a picture of his insect from show and tell.

"I never got to hear it all, because of that loudmouth Uzumaki. I thought it looked pretty cool, because you dropped this by my desk on accident. So, I just, uh, wanted to know what it did."

Shino's eyes stared at the picture, until he slowly took it into his hands and nodded.

The boy held out a hand, "I'm Inuzuka Kiba, and this is Akamaru, my best friend."

Shino stared at his hand as if it held all of life's secrets. His mother, Kikyue, was originally from the Kazuma clan, and was forced to marry his father to keep the bloodline limit alive. In his entire life, she never tried to take care of him, or be near him, or even hug him. To Shino, Kikyue was the woman down the hall who always locked her door, and only came out when she wanted food. Even then, she wouldn't even look at Shino or his father.

And it wasn't as if his father was affectionate. Shino knew he cared about him, but he wasn't someone who would hug or show physical affection like a pat on the head or those 'tickle fights' he had overheard about.

Physical interaction wasn't something Shino was familiar with. Kids his age, of course, avoided him like the plague, so not even as much as a touch on the shoulder was familiar. For as long as Shino could remember, no one would touch him.

Yet here this kid, Kiba, was, holding out his hand to him – willingly wishing to make contact with him, an Aburame.

Shino's hand was shaking as he lifted his own hand, taking Kiba's hand and giving him a firm shake. The warmth of another person's skin was so soft, so inviting. It made Shino feel happy and warm, and to him, there was nothing he'd rather do than shake Kiba's hand again.

Kiba grinned, "Well, then, come on! We can swap lunches, or something. I have some dango and some leftovers from dinner last night, if you want some."

Shino blinked as Kiba slowly pulled his hand away, "…Swap, lunches?" He had heard of this before, but only friends did that. "I thought only comrades-"

"You idiot! We are comrades- I mean, friends! I mean, we're both in the same class, so why wouldn't we be?" Kiba retorted, a smile pulling at his lips as he scooped Akamaru into his arms.

The young Aburame heir was silent for a moment, but after a couple moments he said, "Of… of course."

Kiba began to run past him, pulling him by the arm as they ran (well, Shino staggered at first, but got the hang of it).

Inuzuka Kiba was Aburame Shino's first friend.

And maybe it wasn't a crowd, but Shino liked it that way. Because Kiba was all the company he needed to be content.

There was a lonely, lonely black void at one point in Shino's life. But light quickly came in, and he no longer waited in the darkness. Before he knew it, there were many little lights, and Shino became the black sky, surrounded by a million little points of light.

These lights were what Shino would soon come to know as "comrades".