"Then stop running around and have a bath!" she snarled.
He yelled around the tree, frustration and indignity lacing every sentence. "I just had a bath!"
"Five days ago!" One of her wiry arms snaked around, and Kiba ran for another tree. "Plus, you're bringing fleas into the clan! I won't have one of my pups bringing fleas into our clan!"
"They're not fleas!" he yelled. "They're Kikaichuu!"
She appeared in front of him. He yelped--nothing like a little girl, thank you--and skidded to a stop. Small bits of bark and leaves scattered everywhere.
"I don't care what you want to call them," she growled. "They're bugs. Bath. Now."
He almost managed to dodge again, but she was too quick. A hand clamped around his arm, hauling him toward the creek.
Kiba grumbled under his breath, dragged along behind her. "I bet no one else's parents drag their kids around like this," he snarled, a bit louder.
"I bet no one else's kids have to be dragged around like this," his mother countered. Then she shoved, and he dropped off the side of a short cliff and into the water.
Kiba surfaced, sputtering. Akamaru splashed in beside him. "Ma!" he shouted again, the picture of bruised pride.
Her response was to pour shampoo on him.
He glared up as it dripped down into his face. "I think I'm old enough to decide when I should have a bath!" he yelled.
"At fifteen? I'd thought so too. Except you *don't,*" his mother barked back. "Now strip down and finish bathing."
Kiba watched her walk away from the cliff, disappearing from view. He debated just jumping out of the creek on the other side and running away, but . . . well. She'd dribbled shampoo on him, and if he didn't get it out . . .
Kiba stripped down and scrubbed quickly, giving Akamaru a quick once-over as well. The still-growing pup whined, then finally doggy paddled over to the shore and climbed out.
He swished his hair through the water, then headed out himself.
He hated baths. He really did. They made you wet, and it took forever to dry, and he always smelled like wet dog--a scent he really didn't like so much.
Kiba stomped back to camp naked. After all, his clothes were soaked.
The girls tittered. He glared at them. No one else seemed to notice as he wandered around, laying out his things where they would dry, hanging them over branches and spread across boulders. "Happy now?" he muttered to his mother, who didn't bother looking up.
"No," she said calmly. "Now you smell like wet dog."
Kiba glared at her, but she still didn't look up. He stormed into his tent.
"Hey, you bathed," Shino said.
Kiba scooted onto a stool, glowering. "How can you tell?"
"You don't stink," Shino answered without looking up from his ramen.
"I did not smell!" Kiba nearly shouted.
Shino's eyebrows rose at the yell, and he looked at Kiba calmly.
The teenager's hair was damp, and Akamaru--too big to carry on his head anymore, but small enough to stuff down his jacket--was leaving a growing wet spot on his shirt.
"Yes, you did," Shino responded.
"Yeah? Well, you have fleas!" Kiba yelled.
Shino just stared at him for a moment, then turned away. Fleas indeed.
"I did not smell," Kiba muttered again.
"Hinata?" Shino asked. "Did Kiba smell?"
She blushed. "Oh, well," she said slowly, playing with her chopsticks. Her voice dropped. "Yeah. A little."
Shino just looked at him.
"I did not," Kiba muttered again, and dug into the ramen the restaurant owner brought him. He slurped it up, finally sitting back with a drop-jawed expression Shino was certain he'd seen Akamaru wearing. "Right. Well. I’m headed home. I do not stink."
Shino just shrugged as Kiba swung off his stool and sulked his way out of the shop.
"Did we hurt Kiba-kun's feelings?" Hinata asked anxiously.
"He'll be better soon," Shino said. Kiba was nothing if not predictable. Fast to anger, but fast out of it, too.
They ate their ramen quietly, at a more reasonable pace than Kiba had.
"Shino?" Hinata asked quietly, twisting her fingers. "Can I ask you something?"
Shino looked at her expectantly.
"Did you put fleas on Kiba so he'd bathe?"
He considered the question carefully. "Well. He did stink."
Hinata ducked her head, and when she looked up, her cheeks were pink. "Shino, that's not nice." Then her cheeks turned even pinker. "But thank you."
Shino smiled. "Anytime."