Beside You In Time 

Act I - Karma vs. Fate


Karma's visit was as swift and cruel as it was completely unexpected. In its wake, the promise of a brighter future crumbled before Kiba's eyes as time slowed and his body froze behind the Castile Hill QuickStop's front counter where he'd only just begun his Friday shift. The teen's horrified gaze absorbed every detail of the grey and black clad; pipe, bat and bike-chain wielding thugs barging their way through the entrance of his job en masse. Scattering both merchandise displays and panicked customers as they went.

Unbeknownst to him, the events unfolding had begun a week earlier when some of his old "associates" caught wind of where the reformed Inuzuka was gainfully employed. Since Kiba was the next best thing to getting even with their real target - who'd been nabbed on weapons charges for a seven year sentence. The gang eagerly proceeded to converge upon, pilfer and deface the store where Kiba worked ... All in the name of retaliation for some stupid hustle that his best friend/ex-boyfriend Shino Aburame had pulled before he'd gotten locked up. Shino - an eerily quiet youth of nineteen who dabbled in many shady endeavors, most of which were highly lucrative, none of which were legal - was well known in the underbellies of Castile Hill. It was common verity that his silent mysterious nature only served to mask a dangerous violent streak. Simply put, Shino was not one to be fucked with. He'd left plenty of blazing vendettas, broken pride and equally mangled bodies in his wake supporting that fact ... However, even the Aburame's daunting reputation couldn't stretch beyond the bars he was now locked behind.

Fuckin ass, left me and I STILL have to handle his shit?!

Kiba groused bitterly to himself. Knowing instantly from the familiar combination of colours what the attack was about; and hating the pathetic part of his heart which swelled at the thought that twisted as this was, at least him and Shino were still linked in some way. In the midst of that thought and without conscious intent, his body suddenly moved on instinct. Knuckles curving through the air then connecting with the nose of a guy he vaguely remembered was called Zaku, as the kid (who apparently was too dumb to think of wearing a mask) made a grab for his register. When the unlucky bloke on the other side of the Inuzuka's oncoming fist dropped out cold, Kiba looked over to find the shop's elderly owner slumped on his knees by the front door in devastation. The majority of the group had already torn down the security cameras and fled with their spoils, and the last of the assailants arrogantly ambled past the quaking proprietor with a cruel chuckle, callously tapping his bat over one shoulder.

"Aye Mr. Manager ... lemme tell you somethin good." He paused then leaned in towards the man whose striped shirt bore a pin ostentatiously emblazoned with the word: MANAGEMENT. "You've got that Inuzuka and his ass lovin boyfriend to thank fer all this."

The masked youth then straightened up and turned to Kiba. "Yo bitch, tell your man that the OTO's 'll be waitin to snuff his ass soon as he cops paro-"

"Sakon, hurry the fuck up son!" A random yell cut in from outside and the shaggy tressed attacker cursed then spun around to take off at the sound of approaching sirens.

Kiba agilely hopped the counter and rushed after Sakon with a snarl, but faltered and nearly tripped through the front door at the feel of a bony hand gripping his leg.

"Stop!" The owner hissed in Japanese, still kneeling as his obsidian eyes narrowed spitefully.

Kiba looked down in confusion. "But Mr. Lee ..."

"Haven't you done enough! Now you're trying to escape! Don't think you can fool me, you tipped them off didn't you?! I should've known ..." The man sneered, shaking with his misdirected rage. "I should have known that you damn delinquents never change, treking dirt over honest people's hard work everywhere you go!"

The Inuzuka had no reply to the unfounded accusation. His own guilt wouldn't allow retort or justification. Like most of the bodegas in Castile Hill the QuickStop was family owned and operated, not to mention probably only marginally insured against theft. Meaning that Mr. Lee's entire family would take this blow. Kiba swallowed hard at that realization. The man had given him a chance, the first in a long while and whether the Inuzuka had set it up or not ... the fact remained that all of this had happened because of him. There was no running from that truth.

Hours later, after the cops arrived, took their reports, carted off the kid Kiba punched and cleared out of the wrecked store ... It came as no surprise to the Inuzuka when he was coldly told not to bother coming back. But even knowing that he was most likely going to be fired ... hearing the words still hurt. He was crushed. Kiba had fought for the job. To anyone else it probably seemed like some worthless part-time. But for the Inuzuka it had been incredibly hard to come by because of his probation, which required him to tell prospective employers that he was currently serving before they even hired him. It was crazy, but as things turned out apparently people were more likely to hire a quote unquote 'reformed' middle aged ex-con, than they were to trust a seventeen year old Juvie-rat on probation with their cash registers. He'd learned that the hard way.

As the dejected Inuzuka trudged through the last rays of dusky fading sunlight, past graffiti masked walls and the familiar urban landmarks which dotted his route home ... Kiba found himself longing for the comforting furry warmth of the canine who he'd been forced to leave behind at his mom's place when Tsume kicked him out. He wondered how big Akamaru had gotten in his absence, if he was eating his food properly, if he still had a bad habit of jumping all over people as though he was the size of a normal puppy rather than a bear cub. Aside from missing his dog to death, the only other thought filling Kiba's hazy mind was: What the hell am I gonna tell K. The condemning disappointment he imagined filling Kankuro's green eyes at news of his latest blunder only intensified the pain Kiba already felt, causing it to burn as though acid was trapped in his chest. A small voice tucked somewhere inside his head argued that the Sabaku would never judge him so easily ... but mistrust smothered the faint hope before it could gain any ground.

That night as Kiba laid atop a half deflated air-mattress staring numbly into darkness, the Inuzuka prayed for the first time in his life. Begging the powers on high to allow the earlier events to just be a passing set-back ...

However, whether his prayer had gone unheard or he'd simply been deemed unworthy of divine intervention, Kiba would never figure out. All he knew was that the cursed fallout only continued into the next morning. Which by stroke of misfortune, happened to be the day he had promised to pay his rent. The rent, that was already three and a half weeks behind. A promise which - considering the Inuzuka had about thirty dollars to his name after paying damages to his boss, in return for the suspicious man not pursuing charges - he was in no position to keep. He could've simply refused to cough up the hush money and made his rent. But innocent or guilty, getting dragged in by the police as a suspected accomplice to robbery constituted a probation violation. And the Inuzuka couldn't afford that, not unless he was ready to head back to the detention center.

After mulling over his lacking options all day, that night Kiba finally mustered his nerve to face facts and laid out the truth for his landlord in a bid for leniency. Unfortunately, the only mercy that the scary Russian landlady (who'd illegally sublet the minor a room) afforded him, was allowing Kiba to pack up his shit into tattered boxes; before she locked him out and said he had a week to either payup OR come get his things lest they ended up in a dumpster.

Standing there in front of a dead-bolted tenement door, on a cold November night beneath pouring rain. Homeless and clad only in the thin hoodie he'd been wearing when he was forcibly shut out ... The small part of Kiba which had been valiantly holding him together, finally tore apart. It wasn't fair. It wasn't fucking fair that he was expected to stay above water when everything in the world was constantly trying to drag him back down!

Screw this play it straight crap ... I ain't taking the fall by myself!

Consumed suddenly and completely by a blinding bottomless need to hurt the ones who'd caused his present situation, the Inuzuka tightened his hood strings with a snarl and took off. Stopping briefly at a nearby scrap yard. After scaling the high fence Kiba deftly snuck past the dogs and procured the first semblance of a weapon he could find: a warped slightly rusted prisebar with enough weight to sufficiently crush a skull. He clutched it in a tight fist, climbed the fence again then set off downtown to his old stomping grounds in search of the infamous Sakon and Ukon. The same sadistic twins who fronted the crew known as the OTO's. Despite ducking into alleys every now and then to avoid patrolling cop cars, Kiba was making good time in his incensed haste. But just as the brunette turned onto Main Street, and by some omnipotent machination of fate ... Kankuro Sabaku, out on a rare late night snack run. Happened to be leaving the 7-11 at the opposite corner.

Unaware of the Inuzuka's proximity, the carpenter swore loudly at the disagreeable weather and pulled his grey parka in tighter around himself as he hurried down the deserted block. Clutching his newly acquired paper bag against his chest in order to shield it from the elements, and wondering why the fuck he'd thought that just wearing a raincoat would be enough in this downpour. Kankuro glanced to make sure his Krispy Kremes were relatively dry and then looked back up ... only to promptly smack into an oncoming and equally distracted pedestrian at the very same time.

"Oh shit!" He cursed, reaching out quickly to steady the shorter figure. "I'm sorry I wasn- ... huh Kiba?"

Kankuro squinted through the heavy rain at the familiar crimson fanged face, which he probably would've recognized from a mile away. His surprised gaze then drifted south, taking inventory of the Inuzuka's soaked clothing and finally coming to rest on the steel bar gripped in the teen's white knuckled hand. Kankuro's stare returned to Kiba's face and upon reading the murderous intentions clearly etched there, his jaw clenched.

Kankuro nodded towards Kiba's left hand. "Where you think you're goin with that?"

"Mind your own business." The Inuzuka growled darkly, far too agitated to be shocked by their unexpected run-in.

"You are my business, and that business - which lemme remind you is hanging onto his probation by a thread - looks like it's headin for a night in fucking jail or worse right about now." Kankuro shifted his cargo into the crook of his arm and placed a hand on Kiba's head. Silently thanking luck or destiny or whatever crazy coincidence had caused him to be in that precise spot at that moment. "I dunno what's up ..." He said softly but firmly. "But I'm sure we can talk about it later. Let's go."

"It's not your fucking problem. Move." Kiba slapped the Sabaku's hand away with a feral snarl.

Unfazed Kankuro simply placed the spurned appendage right back atop the shorter male's wet hood with a smirk. "C'mon cut me some slack would you, I'm like two seconds away from pneumonia ... your place is around here isn't it?"

"Was." Kiba seethed through clenched teeth.

Kankuro's playful expression became both confused and concerned at the odd answer, his hand fell away.

"What does that mean?"

"What'dya think asshole?!" Kiba shouted, temper exploding. "Means I don't have a place anymore, don't have a damn job neither and I'm bout to go pay those fuckers back triple what they cost me, so MOVE!"

Kankuro immediately grew sobered. Understanding then - as he suddenly connected the dots and recalled news of a crew attacking the same QuickStop where Kiba worked just the day before - that this wasn't the time for smooth coercion. His teeth clenched with frustration and anger at the situation. Jesus, the kid just couldn't catch a goddamn break! But even so, Kankuro would be damned if he allowed Kiba to run headlong back into the same cycle that had gotten him fucked up in the first place. The Sabaku set his bag down on the sidewalk, no longer caring that its contents would be ruined by the rain.

"You're gonna give me that prisebar Kiba, or I'm gonna take it from you. Choice is yours." Kankuro said evenly, squaring his shoulders to let the teen know he was serious.

Kiba glared daggers. Kankuro was by far the larger between them, and the Inuzuka knew well enough that the Sabaku's broad build was far from dead weight. There was only one way he was getting past him without losing his weapon, and that was with brute force ... Kiba's wild eyes narrowed and he raised the bar like a whip. His arm arced in a flash as it swung downwards, cutting air with a high pitched whine ... then came to a dead stop.

The attacking appendage hovered momentarily just above Kankuro's right shoulder, before the steel suddenly dropped from Kiba's shaking hand and clattered useless to the pavement. The Inuzuka's body swayed, both fists balling tight at his sides as outrage screamed and howled inside him like a wounded beast. His head was pounding. Heart equally tortured by the fact that he'd just raised a hand against Kankuro of all people, and the fact that he couldn't bring himself to remove the obstacle currently standing in between him and revenge.

"I wanna kill them," Kiba choked hoarsely; fury, sadness and frustration bleeding through his voice. "I worked so hard ... SO FUCKIN HARD for that shit Kankuro!"

Kankuro simply stepped closer to the Inuzuka and firmly pulled the younger male into his arms. It was neither an embrace of pity or pacification, but one of safety. As if the Sabaku's hold was simply saying 'not on my watch'. Kiba cracked a bit at that thought, he couldn't help but lean into the enfolding warmth. He'd fallen out with his mom and left home so long ago, that the Inuzuka had almost forgotten what it felt like to be held in such a way. Held, not because someone wanted to fuck you, not because they pitied you ... just because they valued you without ulterior motive or gain.

"You did work hard, I know you did ... and that's why I won't let you mess it up." Kankuro murmured.

"It's already fucked up." Kiba rasped.

"No it's not ... we can fix this." The Sabaku said softly in response, inwardly hurting just as much for the progress that Kiba had lost, as though he'd lost it himself. "Where are you gonna sleep?" He asked after a moment.

Kiba only shrugged and Kankuro frowned at the lack of response, inferring what it meant.

"You can't stay out here Kiba." He sighed, letting go of the Inuzuka and stepping back to pick up his now soggy merchandise. "Come on. I got a guest room, you can crash there tonight. It's not the Hilton but it's warm and dry." The older brunette beckoned.

Kiba's brows furrowed at the proposed hospitality, his gaze fell to the ground as he chewed his lip stubbornly. "I'm not a goddamn charity case." He muttered.

"No ... you're my friend. And I'm not the kind of worthless asshole who leaves their friends to sleep on the street in the fucking pouring rain Kiba. It's the middle of November you know that!" Kankuro growled.

Kiba looked up at the sharp change in tone and their eyes met, dark determined green against wild pools of brown.

"Come on." Kankuro said again ... but this time it was a request, almost a plea.

Kiba exhaled heavily and shoved both hands into his front pocket. It was raining even harder at that point. His teeth were chattering, he was already drenched to the bone; and since he'd been talked back from the edge of adrenaline filled rage, the Inuzuka was becoming fully aware of just how freezing cold and sopping wet he was. Being indoors right now sounded like a better offer than he could refuse. Kiba gave a faint nod of concession. Without a word he backed up a bit to allow Kankuro to pass by and lead the way, then followed behind him.

As the two departed in tandem, the warped steel bar the Inuzuka had dropped lingered abaft forgotten. Its rusted lacquer glistening against rain slicked pavement ... the only remnant of karmic disasters narrowly averted.


Prologue ~~~~~~~~ Back to Kankuro/Kiba ~~~~~~~~ Act 2     



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