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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Akamaru Gets a Girlfriend

Akamaru Gets a Girlfriend

By Malignant-Librarian


“Hey, guys!” said Kiba.

It was one of the team’s days off. Kiba had just been in Sunagakure for the weekend on a short escort mission, and he wouldn’t shut up about it. Apparently, the pony-sized Akamaru had found a girlfriend while there.

In Sunagakure, there was a ninja clan known for raising high-quality dogs, not unlike the Inuzuka clan of Konohagakure. They were called the Ryoukoji ‘Racing Hounds’, and they supplied Sunagakure with 50 of its big game income. The dogs were given to one of two places at a young age; to a genin, to whom they’d spend the rest of their lives with as the ninja’s partner and tool, or to the kennel itself. The kennel raised the animals to be swift sight-hunters, catching the elusive prey available on the scorching desert sands… and, they raised them to run. Tsunade herself had lost a significant amount of money betting on the annual Sunagakure Sight Hound Races – one of the most talked-about events of the year.

Turned out, Kiba had run into the proprietor of said kennel.

“She said, “Ah, this one’s a fine-looking dog,” to me!” said Kiba. “Did you hear that? About Akamaru! Right, boy?”


“And then, then, she invited me over for tea – the kennel was huge -- and we talked about dogs nonstop, and I asked could I see the dogs, and she said sure, and she asked was Akamaru good with other dogs, and I said yes, and she said he could go out and play with them, and—“

At this point Hinata was simply politely nodding. Shino was trying to listen, but found it increasingly difficult as Kiba’s words slurred together more and more the faster he spoke in his excitement.

“AND THEN HE MET HER!” said Kiba loudly. He paused for effect.

Shino tried not to snore. Hinata cleared her throat and asked graciously, “Er, who, Kiba-kun?”

Tsuki-hime.” Kiba breathed this last word as though speaking of Kami-sama himself. Shino and Hinata exchanged looks.

Kiba looked vaguely disappointed. “Tsuki-hime – ‘Moon Princess’ – only the most famous race hound in the history of nin-dog racing!”

Hinata listened politely as Kiba spoke on and on of the bitch’s qualities and lineage. Apparently, the dog was fairly young for a racing hound – most of the animals from Ryoukoji Kennel raced when their age hit the double-digits. She had an amazing track record thus far, apparently absolutely flattening her opponents in her first race – the famous Chishiomaru – ‘Blood Boy’ – her senior by four years. Hinata couldn’t help but feel excited along with Kiba as he spoke reverently of the animal, never mind that the details of the mission had been lost amongst dog-fancier talk.

Shino looked as though he would be drastically more interested had the conversation been about insect racing.

Which apparently, in the Village-Hiding-in-the-Grass, was a pretty big deal.

“Anyways, Akamaru and Tsuki-chan –“

“Tsuki-chan?” said Shino. It was the most he’d spoken that week.

“I know, Ryoukoji-san said I could call her that, since she and Akamaru hit it off so well. I tell you, she took one look at this face –“ Kiba put out his hand and pulled Akamaru’s leathery black lips into a smile for him, “—and she was hooked. That princess was just waiting for her prince to come along, eh, wasn’t she, Akamaru?

(Akamaru grunted and wagged his tail.)

Shino sweatdropped. He hadn’t known that Kiba’s voice was capable of going that high.

So, that was how they ended up at the Sunagakure Sight Hound Races four weeks after Kiba’s declaration of Akamaru’s love for Tsuki-hime. The sun was blinding, but because of his connection with the Ryoukoji Kennels Kiba had managed to get front-row seats. Hinata had worn a hat to cover her hypersensitive eyes, but Kiba and Akamaru were staring intently at the track, babbling nonstop to a stoic Shino. He’d bet a month’s salary on Tsuki-hime, and seemed quite confident that she would win. Hinata had politely placed some money on the Moon Princess as well, but mainly to appease Kiba, who was pissed when Shino told him ‘I’m not a gambling man’.

The race track was long; the dogs were barking furiously behind the tightly enclosed metal gates that prevented them from running out early. The animals were coaxed into running by a little fuzzy strip of fur tied to the end of a zipline. The lure was the big motivation for the dogs.

Akamaru, being a scent-hound and not a sight hound, wasn’t that intrigued by the lure. It didn’t smell interesting to him, so he ignored it. The dogs preparing to race, though, were doing nuts.

“Ah, Kiba-kun, the race is about to start,” said Hinata.

Kiba finally shut up. The announcer came on.

Kunoichi and Shinobi, please turn your attention to the track. Welcome to the sixty-first anniversary of the Sunagakure Sight Hound Races!”

Everyone cheered. Looking around, Hinata saw that all sorts of people were present at the race (though, she noted, most of the people who looked like they were dog-fanciers were sitting up front in the best seats). Everyone was rustling about in their wallets, finalizing last-minute bets.

“… The race will begin in five… four… three… two… one…”

DING! A bell clanged. They were off. Never had Hinata seen such speed in animals before! Fourteen pairs of bronze paws slapped the dusty earth simultaneously, and moments later there was a deadly silence as the animals charged off. Sunlight gleamed over short gold fur, highlighting the bunching and stretching of muscles built to propel the animals at astonishing speeds over the sand. The dogs ran in a pack at first.

They were about a fourth of the way down the track, and it was beginning to become clear who would take the lead. A few of the dogs had become uninterested in the lure, and were veering off to different sides. People who had placed bets on those animals let out wails of despair.

The race was a blur. The dogs were as quick as ninja. Their legs tangled and untangled themselves as they ran, becoming a slurred-together mix of sparkling white claws and lean brown legs. Soon, only two dogs were in the lead, both staring at the lure with an intensity that would put even an assassination-squad ANBU to shame.

A big red male was running neck and neck with a smaller, more orange female.


They were close to the finish. There was just one more stretch to go! The two animals pounded along the track. Their tongues hung out of their mouths like wet slices of ham, slapping against the sides of their faces and splattering bits of lather onto their squinting faces. Shino sat up in his seat. Hinata leaned forward. Kiba almost fell off of the railing he was bending over.

Suddenly, the bitch pulled ahead of the dog, letting on a sudden burst of speed that forced her quivering muscles into overload. She pulled ahead by one… two – almost three lengths!


The crowd erupted into screams of delight and fury. The crowd roared and roared until Hinata had to cover her ears, and Shino had shrunk so far into his collar that only his dark glasses were visible above it. Kiba was screaming so hard that Hinata suspected he might go apoplectic, if the veins standing out on his neck were any indication.

It had been a very exciting race, though, Hinata had to admit.

Afterwards they met up with Ryoukoji-san behind the racetrack. The crowd had thinned considerably, and the racing hounds were being let loose to walk around the track and work their bodies back into a normal rhythm. Ryoukoji-san was sitting on a bench, watching the dogs play. She was an older woman in her sixties, with grey hair scraped back into a bun at the back of her head and wise eyes. “Ah, Kiba,” she said. “Would Akamaru like to play with Tsuki-hime this afternoon? She likes to wind down after a good race.”

Kiba looked delighted. “He’d love to!” he told Akamaru.

Akamaru wagged his tail and tilted his big head to the side.

Tsuki-hime was let out of her kennel.

The bitch was elegantly built, with a sleek rise to her thin bone structure and short, silky orange fur vacuum-tight on her body. Her tail was bony and long, her face tapered into a tight right triangle, with a pair of the most astounding golden eyes Kiba had ever seen on a dog – they shone with almost human intelligence. Everything about the animal was made for speed, from the chiseled head to the perfect, razor-honed anatomy. He recognized her breed to be an Ibizan Hound.

Kiba smiled broadly. “We’re thinking about breeding them,” he whispered to Hinata. “Isn’t she gorgeous?”

Akamaru woofed – finally, the gates were no longer separating them! Tsuki-hime ran to Akamaru, whip-like tail thrashing about behind her excitedly. Akamaru ran. Tsuki-hime ran. It was a beautiful sight to behold, the two animals coming together…

… Until Akamaru ran right past Tsuki-hime and right up to her brother, the studly Taiyo-kou. And began to hump him vigorously.

“… Looks like Akamaru likes ‘Sun Prince’ better than he likes ‘Moon Princess’,” said Shino simply.

Kiba looked mortified.


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