chapter 1At this time on a typical night, Kiba would be playing video games on the TV, probably with some snacks strewn around him and with Akamaru on his lap. His eyes would be stinging, and the bags beneath them would be heavy. Eventually he would give in and stumble off to bed, and then he’d be wrapped up in 4 different blankets, out like a light. But, of course, tonight was not a typical night. Nope, this time he wasn’t disobeying his mother and making his morning a chore. This time, tonight, his whole life seemed to be left behind him in the dust of a 2007 Honda Civic.
“How ya holdin’ up back there, buddy?”
Kiba begrudgingly looked up from his phone screen to make eye contact with his mother, Tsume, through the rear-view mirror. Odds are that she’d barely be able to see him, but maybe the headlights of a car would shine through their windows long enough for her to be able to catch a glimpse. He huffed, his voice scratchy with how tired he was. “I’m fine.”
“Alright, just checkin’.” She turned her attention back to the road swiftly, with his sister Hana doing the same only a moment later.
He looked back down at his phone to see that neither Shino or Hinata had responded to his texts in their group chat. He couldn’t bring himself to be too upset over it; if he couldn’t get any sleep at this point, then at least they could.
With a click of a button, his phone was off. A little bit of maneuvering under a sleeping Akamaru so as not to wake him when putting the phone back into his pocket, and then he was finally ready to get some sleep. Well, he was at least ready to try.
Before heading out on the road, he had tried to fight Hana for the front seat, but unfortunately due to the rules of Shotgun, he lost. Kiba was realizing, however, that being stuck in the back seat seemed to be a blessing, when he was able to swing his legs off the floor and onto the seat beside him. Of course, he still had to curl his legs up a ton to make enough room for Kuromaru, who was laying on the other side. It was at least somewhat like a bed. He slipped out of his jacket and rolled it up, then ruined his lovely rolling work by haphazardly stuffing it behind his head to use as a makeshift pillow.
In what felt like only seconds, Kiba joined Akamaru and Kuromaru in their snoring.
Instead of the morning sun greeting him, Kiba was woken by a nasty headache and his sister shaking him by the shoulder.
The headache was most likely just because it was still the middle of the night, but the shaking didn’t help him out at all. “I’m up, I’m up, you can cut it out!”
Despite how tired and sore he was while speaking, the look on Hana’s face made it apparent that he got the point across pretty well.
She shook her head quickly and stepped away from the car door. “We’re just stopping for a second. I can watch Akamaru for you if you wanna head in to use the washroom.” She tossed her head back to the main building of the gas station they’d parked at while he was sleeping.
“Nah,” Kiba rubbed his eyes and sat up. “I’ll take Akamaru with me.” Akamaru seemed to have woken up too, but was still chilling out on Kiba’s lap.
Hana just sighed and walked away into the void of night.
Kiba peeked around the edge of the car door. The bright red lights all over the sides of the gas pumps and on the front of the main building shone out far enough for him to see Tsume and Hana letting Kuromaru out on the grass.
Akamaru leapt off of his lap and onto the cement.
“Hey, wait a second.” Kiba chuckled softly. Akamaru obviously was in as much need of fresh air as he was. He grabbed his jacket and slipped out of the car, shutting the door behind him. Kneeling down next to Akamaru, he put on the jacket. “You ready to go?”
Akamaru did... whatever it was that he did, and gave the response ‘Yes’.
“Alright, buddy.” Kiba ruffled the white fluff on Akamaru’s head. They walked to the area where the cement paving ended and the grassy expanse began, where Hana and Tsume were letting out Kuromaru.
Hana looked at him skeptically. “You change your mind or somethin’?”
He shook his head. “Nah, I’m just lettin’ Akamaru do his thing first. I’m still gonna bring him in with me.”
She sighed again, with that same disappointed, condescending look on her face. “What are you gonna do if they see him?”
She raised her eyebrows. “But what if they do?”
“I said,” his eyelids snapped back, and he stomped his foot, “they won’t!”
Akamaru whimpered at his side. ‘Not good. Carried away.’
Kiba knelt down once more to face Akamaru, exposing his sandaled feet to the dewdrop covered grass. His tense shoulders fell limp. “I’m alright. You just go do your thing.”
Akamaru implied ‘Not sure’, but went off to go do his thing anyway.
“You can’t outrun the rules forever, you know,” Hana said.
Kiba didn’t bother turning away from Akamaru, but could tell from her voice that she’d eased up a bit. “I know,” he repeated back to her. “It just sucks.”
“Yeah,” she said, “it does.” She sat down next to him, turning to face him. “But hopefully with the new job and stuff, Mom’ll be able to get him registered.”
Kiba began picking at the blades of grass and slicing them with his fingernails. “I hope she can.”
A short moment of silence went by, until they were cut off. Kiba quickly whipped his head around to find the source of the noise, knocking his hood off his head in the process.
It was Tsume speaking.“Alright, I’m takin’ Kuromaru back to the car. We don’t got all day, so hurry up.”
He stood up. Hana did the same, dusting off her pants.
Akamaru came and sat down in front of him. ‘Am done.’
Kiba grinned. “Good, cause we’ve gotta get a move on.” He took a few steps forward, but paused when he heard Hana speaking.
“I still don’t get how you can do that,” she said, her tone making it clear she found it a bit funny. It was good that she’d gotten into brighter spirits, even if it was just for a second.
He kept going, not sure how he could really show that he got the message without being awkward. Akamaru easily kept pace with him, prompting Kiba to slowly pick up into a jog until they finally reached the main building.
The glass door swung open smoothly, setting off something to make the iconic ‘ding dong’ noise. Quickly, he shuffled down one of the aisles so that the person at the counter wouldn’t see Akamaru.
When he took a second to look around the aisle he was in, he couldn’t help but get distracted by all the candy racks and fridges lined with energy drinks and soda.
“Nope,” he whispered to himself. “Gotta be quick.”
The first order of business was to bring Akamaru into his jacket with him. The sound of his claws on the floor tiles were very recognizable, and that wasn’t a risk worth taking.
‘Comfy,’ Akamaru implied. He’d always liked that jacket.
The next order of business - and likely the last before Kiba retired this metaphor - was to get to the men’s room. Easy peasy, it was clearly right in front of him. After checking both left and right, then left again, he slipped in through the door and locked it behind him.
He let Akamaru down onto the floor, who implied ‘gross’ upon touching the white tiled floor. Then, he sat down and checked his phone. Immediately the harsh sting of blue light hit him hard, causing him to wince and look away.
Akamaru brushed against his leg. ‘Okay?’
“Yeah, I’m good,” Kiba whispered. He looked back at his phone to see that he’d missed texts from his group chat with Hinata and Shino. He swiped the screen to check it out.
11 minutes ago
hinata: how far along are you now?
Kiba scoffed and quickly typed up a reply.
You: didnt your therapist say that youre supposed to stay away from electronics and stuff before bed????
hinata: maybe if certain people didn’t text me at 3 in the morning i would not feel prompted to look at my phone… >:(
hinata: i am only kidding! :)
You: ok but you gotta listen to your therapist tho
Kiba shook his head. He was mad that Hinata wasn’t putting her health first, but he had to admit, he was missing her, so it was kinda nice that she was online.
hinata: anyways… how far along are you guys?
You: idk were just like at a gas station somewhere. ill ask my mom in a second
Kiba turned off his phone and tucked it in his pocket. Time to finish what he came here to do.
Getting back out into the car was easy enough. He used the same ‘put the dog in the coat’ method and got the same results.
His mom had moved the car to be right in front of the door for him. Kiba would have taken a moment to be glad about that if it weren’t for the frown she was giving him through the driver’s side window.
Sheepishly he opened the back door and got into the suddenly uncomfortable car seat. He looked up to make eye contact with his mom through the rear-view mirror, but quickly looked away, holding an awkward grin.“Sorry I took so long.”
“Oh, heh,” He flashed a more genuine, toothy smile back at the mirror. “That’s a relief!”
She remained unimpressed, for whatever reason. “Good.” She focused her attention on what was ahead of her as she turned back onto the road.
“So,” Kiba let Akamaru onto his lap and pulled his phone out of his pocket. “How much longer will it be till we get there?”
“Like, 3 hours, I think.” Her words seemed flat.
“Kay.” 3 hours was still a long time to be stuck in the car. He forwarded the message along to Hinata.
hinata: oh that’s still a while!
shino: What’s the name of the town you’re moving to? Just asking because I don’t remember.
You: its called konoha
hinata: is akamaru doing alright?
He glanced down at Akamaru who was still all curled up and comfy on his lap. Kiba stroked his hand along his fluffy white fur and smiled gently.
You: yeah hes all good!
hinata: that’s nice :) give him a big hug for me!!!
You: i will, night guys
hinata: have a good sleep!
Luckily, he wasn’t waking up to whiplash-in-progress. No, this time he woke up to radio hosts chatting about the weather and Hana and Kuromaru’s snoring. Finally the sun was rising, and guessing by the apple-blossom trees and rural houses, they had finally made it to Konoha.
Kiba yawned and stretched his arms over his head, arching his back. Akamaru woke up in the action, and implied ‘Mad now’.
A little chuckle made its way out of Kiba. Akamaru was always a grumpy one, even if he was just kidding around.
“Sleep well?” Tsume said, clearly not having gotten a nick of sleep as evidenced by her especially rough voice.
“Well, I mean, not really.” Kiba gave a forced laugh to make it clear that he wasn’t trying to start anything. “Next time I think I’ll go for a mattress.” His neck felt like a rubber band that had been pulled too tight. He’d have to get some heat on it - that had always worked like a charm for sore muscles. “Anyways, how long till we get to the new place?”
Tsume yawned, then spoke. “It should be about five, ten? Five or ten minutes.”
“Good, I was gettin’ sick of this car.”
“Oh, awesome!” Finally he could get some fresh air going again - it’d still felt like a long time, even if he was sleeping.
‘Phone.’ Akamaru looked up at him.
“Hm?” Kiba tugged his phone out of his pocket. Sure enough, he’d just missed a text. “Nice one, Akamaru.”
shino: Are you up yet?
You: yea i just got up, why
shino: I was just curious.
You: anyways arent you walking to school now or whatever
shino: Yes, we are. Hinata says “Hi.”
You: oh tell her me and akamaru say hi back!!
shino: Will do.
shino: She wants you to send a picture.
You: of me or the town
shino: It remains unclear.
Kiba shook his head, not sure whether to be frustrated or entertained.
You: then ask her!
shino: She said “Both.”
“Alright,” he whispered to himself. He opened the camera app and turned in front of the window, sicking his hand up in a cheesy peace sign.
Once the picture had processed, he realized the background was out of focus. He wasn’t surprised - taking a picture from a moving car wasn’t all too bright of him. Oh well.
Akamaru looked at him with a mocking grin. ‘Peace?’
Kiba gave a jokingly offended look back at him. “Whatever.”
You: [44524463.jpeg] ill get another when i get to the new place
Kiba propped his hand out from his forehead to block out the morning rays of sun slipping through the tree branches. It was still pretty early in the morning - maybe around 7:30 if he had to guess, but with where the car was parked and the angle of the windshield that little bit of sun was blinding. Looking at the house, he felt his heart go cold. “This is it?”
“You,” Tsume was interrupted by a yawn. “You betcha. Help me get the stuff out of the car, now. I need a nap.”
A wince broke out across his face. The house was - to put it gently - damn awful. It looked like the sort of thing that a hoarder or a drug addict would live in all by themself - cramped and falling apart. Somehow, though, this was supposed to house him, Akamaru, Hana, his mom and Kuromaru. Overgrown bushes lined the sad excuse for a patio, clearly stuffed with ticks.
Akamaru shivered from his perch on Kiba’s shoulder. ‘Gross.’
Kiba spoke quietly in contrast to his anger. “I know, buddy.”
“Look,” sighed Tsume, “It’s a fixer-upper. But, we’ll manage. Once I start getting the paychecks here we’ll paint it up and stuff, or maybe we can move into a nice apartment or somethin’.”
Kiba raised an eyebrow at the chipped red walls that looked like they were from a barn and the one boarded off window. “Yeah, can we just skip to moving? CPS is gonna be hightailing it for us if they see this dump.”
Tsume turned to face him. “Look,” She jabbed her finger out at him. “I don’t like it either. But we’re gonna give it a chance. We don’t have any other options right now.”
He just looked off of his non-Akamaru covered shoulder and frowned, silent.
She sat back in her seat. “Let’s just get unpacked.”
Akamaru whimpered and leaned into Kiba’s face. Kiba stroked him along the back, feeling the fur sliding between his fingers. It was soothing, really. ‘Course, that couldn’t go on for too much longer, though, because what wasn’t soothing was when Tsume got mad at him for not helping out. He popped open the car door and stepped out, letting Akamaru sit on his head.
Tsume was already trying - and failing - to wake Hana up, so he went for luggage in the trunk. It was already popped open, so he pulled out a couple suitcases and went for the door.
He turned around quickly, almost launching Akamaru off. “Oh, sorry bud,” Kiba said, putting his hand on Akamaru’s back.
‘Not cool,’ Akamaru pouted.
“Here,” Tsume gestured her arm up. “Take the keys.” She tossed them to him, to which he caught with ease.
“Thanks.” He turned around and jammed the key into the doorknob. It was concerning how difficult it was, but Kiba didn’t bother to stop. “There.” He flung the door open and stepped in, taking a deep breath of the new house air.
It smelt… awful. It didn’t look too great, either. The stairs to his right were all broken down. In front of him was a ratty old mat, visibly chewed up by mice or something. Great, that meant there were mice, too.