Meet team Kurenai
Chapter 3: Meet Team Kurenai
Once again, this story starts off at a training ground; but this time, it's Kurenai's training ground - which totally makes up for my lack of research on the different parts of the Leaf Village.
Kiba was stroking and hugging his favorite pet Akamaru in one area of the training ground. He loved animals. Even before joining the series, he had been a huge animal fanatic. Kiba loved every kind of animal and even chose to become a vegetarian because of his obsession. Shino stood under a tree, talking to a fly that he had named Clint.
"You're my best friend," he whispered lovingly.
Hinata was with Kurenai. The two of them were training by trying to break apart logs with their bare hands. Kurenai had convinced the love-sick girl that as long as she could build up enough strength, Naruto (the guy of her dreams) would finally notice her.
Kiba saw Shino talking to the bug, so he and Akamaru went to go see the two.
"Aww, that fly is so cute!" he said, grinning in admiration.
"I named him Clint," Shino said with a small smile behind his collar.
"WOOF!" Akamaru barked. He wagged his tail and gave a happy doggish grin.
This sudden noise was apparently too much for the bug; it flew away in a panic and landed on a surprised Hinata, who promptly fainted. Unfortunately, Clint surprised Kurenai as well, whose first reaction was to whip out a gun and fire several shots, killing the small target. By chance, one of the shots misfired and hit Sasuke, who had just walked by. The boy died instantly.
"Clint!" Kiba and Shino cried at the same time. Tears gathered in Shino's eyes, though his glasses hid that fact from his teammates.
"Clint was my only friend!" Shino sobbed as he ran away from the horrible scene. Kiba stood next to Kurenai in shock.
Kurenai winced, feeling slightly guilty for the bug boy's loss. "Sorry, but how many times have I told you that the fly could have been a spy, sent to us from the evil Akatsuki? You never know who could be in the distance listening to our every word," she warned.
"Believe it!" shouted a faintly familiar voice in the background.
Kurenai swiftly pulled out a kunai and tossed it at the bush, hitting goodness-knows-who in the arm.
"See, this is what I mean: Akatsuki spies are everywhere!" Kurenai complained. "These days, you can't even use the washroom without running into one of them. Now, if you don't mind, I need to go foil Dr. Evil's plot of taking over the world, then I'll be with my love Asuma." And with that, she jumped into the sky and flew away, because she's just that talented.
"Don't forget to bring him lots of smokes! Asuma really likes them! Believe it!" The voice from behind the bush meekly called out, before groaning in pain. "Why'd she had to hit me so hard with the shuriken? Hey Kiba, it's stuck in my arm, can you come and help me pull it out?"
Kiba stood still for a moment, trying to wrap his head around the fact that he was having a conversation with a bush.
"...Uh, sure, sir ... or ma'am." He paused for a moment. "Do bushes even have genders?" Kiba asked, tapping his chin in deep thought. This was a serious matter. Who knew how many plants were called by the wrong gender due to some sort of careless mistake.
"No, Kiba, look inside the plant! Believe it!" the voice said.
Kiba shook his head. "Nu-uh! You heard what Kurenai said! You could be an Akatsuki spy!"
"A plant working for the Akatsuki... Seriously, Kiba, what's the likelihood of that happening? Now just come here and help me with this shuriken. It's lodged in my arm and I can't get it out! Believe it!"
Kiba nodded timidly and obeyed the supposed bush. However, when he pulled back the branches, he saw Naruto, and a giant smile appeared on the Inuzuka boy's face.
"Hey, Naruto, it's good to see you!" Kiba said cheerfully.
Naruto frowned. "Kiba can you just help me remove this thing already? Believe it!" The blond asked, referring to the shuriken.
As Kiba bent down to aid his friend, he chuckled to himself. "Funny thing is the bush was also saying that he had one of those things stuck in him! Talk about a coincidence, huh?"
"...Yeah, that's a real knee-slapper. Believe it!" Naruto replied with an eye roll.
As soon as the blond was taken care of and bandaged up, Naruto noticed that Kiba's expression seemed to change, almost as if he wanted to ask something, but was silently debating whether or not it was the right time to ask.
"Hey, uh, Naruto?" Kiba started shyly.
"What is it?" Naruto asked. "Believe it!"
"Well, I was wonderin' - if it isn't too much trouble - can I play with Jiraiya again today?"
This 'person' that Kiba called 'Jiraiya' was just an ordinary toad. However, the real Jiraiya had mysteriously vanished without anyone realizing it, so everyone assumed that toad was really Jiraiya training in sage mode.
Naruto let out a sigh and shook his head. "Pervy Sage is a very busy man. All day he does important ninja work that if you even tried to do yourself you'd want to quit because it's just that difficult! Believe it!"
"Not just that! He eats flies too! Believe it!" Naruto said, making a disgusted face.
Kiba cringed and even teared up a little. "Poor flies."
Naruto nodded. "Speaking of which, wonder what happened to Shino. Believe it!"
Meanwhile, somewhere else in the village, Shino was holding a small, bug-sized funeral for his friend Clint. Kakashi, Chōji, and Shikamaru had kindly agreed to attend to help ease Shino's pain. (Chōji had to carry Shikamaru to get him to show up, since Shikamaru was still asleep.)
The four of them stood beside Clint's casket, but the respectful silence was broken only by Chōji's noisy chip-eating. As for Kakashi, he stood over the casket and was looking at it blankly, wondering why he ever agreed to this idea when he could be reading Icha-Icha Paradise. And, of course, Shikamaru was still sleeping.
"Clint was a good boy. He lived a very short life, but I loved him for every second of it," Shino mumbled, trying for Clint's sake to keep his tears in check. "I remember back as a kid, I'd love to read Clint bedtime stories. Rest in peace, Clint; we'll love you forever."
Shino went silent then, while beside him Chōji broke open another bag of chips to devour loudly.
"Okay, time for the burial," Shino said, grabbing a shovel. "Kakashi, can you help dig?"
Kakashi sighed. Although he still wondered what had led him to come to the funeral in the first place, he did feel a little bit of empathy toward the bug boy. He always seemed like the loner type, never had any human friends.
"Don't worry, buddy; I'll help you," Kakashi said.
"Shino, if you're really lonely, nothing makes as good a friend as a tuna fish sandwich. I know I've never argued with my tuna fish friend," Chōji added with a smile.
"I don't like anybody. Only like bugs," Shino mumbled.
"Don't be like that, Shino. You know, Ino's good with making friends; I'm sure she'll help," Kakashi told him.
"Yeah, Ino's like ice cream in that sense, because everyone loves ice cream." Chōji said cheerfully.
"I don't like ice cream," Shino replied dully. Chōji nearly choked on his chips, he was so shocked.
"Okay, fine; let me rephrase that. Everyone likes ice cream except for you, you... monster!" Chōji yelled.
Pretty soon, the Kakashi, Chōji, and Shino Team were gathered at Ino's house. They stood by the door for a long moment, unsure whether or not it was a good idea to knock.
"Chōji, why don't you go in and we'll wait for you in the car?" Kakashi suggested, gesturing toward a black 2010 Corvette, which the group had driven to Ino's house in.
"No way!" the Akimichi retorted. "Ino's a girl! I've never even talked to one before, much less been to one's house!"
"But you two are on the same ninja squad!" Kakashi pointed out.
"True, but that doesn't mean we talk to each other! Look, get Sasuke or Jiraiya here; they know more about girls than I do!" Chōji said.
Shino sighed. He knew nothing would get done if the group kept fighting like this; so without saying a word, he took the liberty of ringing the doorbell himself. When he did, Kakashi and Chōji gave him a look like he had just set off an explosive.
"WHAT DID YOU DO?" they yelled in unison.
"I rang the doorbell. I don't see what the big deal is," Shino confessed.
At that moment, Ino's father Inoichi walked out, looked at the three boys standing in his front yard, and without saying a word, went back into the house to get his daughter.
Once Ino showed up, the group went to her bedroom where they explained to her their predicament. Needless to say, Ino didn't look pleased. Shino would be a challenge. She looked him over and suddenly got a brilliant idea.
"I know what you need! Shino, I want to give you a makeover!" she announced, grinning. "You see, you're just so hideous. At times, I think most people are just afraid to talk to you. Let's start by taking off your glasses. You look like Ozzy Osbourne in them."
"Now, Ino, there's nothing wrong with dressing like Ozzy. In fact, I was thinking of going for that look someday," Kakashi lectured. "That or David Bowie."
Ino sighed. "Kakashi, you don't know a thing about fashion." Then she reached out for Shino's glasses, but the boy slapped her hand away.
"No! Don't touch! The sun - it burns my eyes without them!" he cried dramatically.
"Okay, Shino. Well, at least change out of your jacket!" Ino told him, eyeing it suspiciously.
"No! The air is cold!" Shino protested, sounding panicked.
Ino sighed again. "Shino, please try to cooperate. I have your best interests in mind."
After a couple more seconds of silence, Shino gave in, somewhat. He rolled one of his sleeves about half an inch up.
"Happy?" he asked bitterly.
Ino slapped her hand to her forehead. "Okay, let's try something else. Anyone have an idea?"
The big group now sat around a large, empty table in Ino's kitchen.
"Okay, consider this a social experiment," Kakashi said. "Ino, I want you to start talking to Shino as if it were just the two of you on a date together. The object of this experiment is to try to keep the conversation going for as long as you can without one of you losing interest or running out of something to say. Any questions?"
"Will there be food?" Chōji asked.
Kakashi shook his head. "No, this experiment simply revolves around them talking. While food wouldn't be a bad touch for making it more like an actual date, it could just as well be a distraction."
Chōji frowned. "Darn, then I skipped my fifth dinner for nothing."
Kakashi's eyes widened. He was tempted to ask Chōji how he could manage more than one dinner with the amount he ate, but dismissed it, deciding some secrets were better left unshared.
"Um, okay, let's get started," Kakashi said. "Shino, how about you start the topic off?"
"I like bugs," Shino said.
"Hmm, good conversation starter. Ino, what is your reply?" Kakashi asked.
"Um, I find bugs gross," Ino said back. "I prefer Sasuke much more."
"I find Sasuke gross," Shino replied casually. "He is not a bug."
"Yes, Sasuke isn't a bug. That's why I love him." Ino explained. Then, attempting to sound a lot wiser than she really was, she added, "It's good to keep an open mind and not hate anything unless you really hate something, just like I hate Phantom130 5 for disliking Sasuke."
"Phantom130 5 killed a bug once. I hate him, too," Shino added.
"Oh, good, looks like we have something in common after all! What else do you hate?"
"I don't like people who wear white after Labor Day," Shino said.
Ino smiled wide. "Oh my gosh, me neither! What else?"
"I hate it when men wear tube socks with shorts or sandals."
"Wow, Shino, you're like the awkward twin brother I never had!"
Kakashi gave Chōji a confused look. How had Shino gone from being completely unsociable to some sort of fashion genius? Then he caught a glimpse of Inoichi in the distance. He stood behind Ino, holding up giant cue-cards for Shino to read off of.
So that meant he was really the fashion genius, not Shino. It was a funny thought that any of the men in this room would know anything about clothing. Kakashi knew it was probably best for the experiment that he should try to say something, but just for fun he would let this carry on and see how long it took for Ino to notice.
Phantom130 5 (August 2010)