Shino, as a child in the academy, had never been exactly shy or timid, just rather quiet and watchful. He still had a small group of people he considered his closest friends despite his closed off nature and silent judgement.
Metal Lee, however, being the youngest of the class as well as an anxious ball of nerves, hadn't yet found his clique.
Being a teacher meant loving your students equally, even if one of them happened to be your son who looked like a literal mirror image of your husband. So Shino could not, in fact, force the other children to include Metal in their groups or invite him to play after school or eat together at lunch or.... include him in any other activities. Shino tried his best to find a compatible squad for Metal; he'd stuck him with every possible pair there was for training exercises, but none of them seemed to really accept Metal as anything more than a classmate or temporary team member (Iwabe and Denki seemed to be the best for him, but the two still preferred each other's company over a trio). There was only so much he could do while still remaining professional.
It frustrated Shino, to say the very least.
Not many students were aware Metal was Shino's son, most of them assuming Rock Lee was the father and the mother was unknown. Perhaps it was better that way, because there was sure to be a handful of students who would cry wolf, or, favoritism. To be quite frank, Shino was just as strict with Metal as he was other students. He graded his papers the same, punished him the same, and gave him the same amount of attention.
So why did he feel so guilty, seeing his son sitting alone outside during lunch hour while the other students mingled and enjoyed each other, as if this was Shino's fault? Even Boruto and Shikadai, two kids Shino knew for a fact were aware of just who Metal Lee is and what he's capable of, chose to sit with Orochimaru's child rather than Lee's.
Jealousy. And on his child's behalf nonetheless. He scoffed.
Shino's gaze returned to his desk from where his eyes were glued to the view out the window. However, now was not the time to sulk over his son's lack of popularity; he had papers to grade and a class to prepare for. This could be discussed with Lee later.
Class resumed just as Shino added the last paper to the finished pile. Slowly, the class began to trickle in, Metal being first as always with Boruto and Shikadai closing the pack in last. Metal sat in the front row, smiling nervously when Iwabe took the seat next to him with a grin, Denki taking the other side.
At least there was that.
The rest of the day went as a school day normally does; Shino struggling to remain dominant as the class fought back and downright ignored him (with the exception of the few rule-lovers) mostly thanks to Boruto's gang's antics and Sarada's equally snappy side of girls.
After another tiring day, school was finally over, and the students all but ran out of class, save for Metal, who waited in the classroom as Shino packed his bags.
"Um, dad?" Metal said, and Shino wouldn't have even heard him if he had been even an inch further. Shino sat up from behind his desk with a small smile (they came easily when with his family) from where he was gathering the day's worksheets and gradings. Metal was clutching his arm with one hand - a nervous habit of his - and skirting his gaze everywhere that wasn't Shino's visor. He looked more troubled than usual.
"What is it?" Shino asked gently, not wanting to pressure the boy. He obviously had something important to say, hence the nervous ticks showing themselves.
Metal shook his head, expression downcast and shoulders sagging in defeat, mumbling a broken nevermind. Shino sighed, slipping the shoulder strap on and standing, walking around the desk and resting a fatherly hand on Metal's head.
"Is there something bothering you in class, Metal? You can talk to me about anything. Why? Because I am your father and I love you." He crouched down slightly, the hand dropping down to rest on his son's shoulder. Comforted, Metal finally attempted eye contact, his bottom lip bright red from being chewed on by his fanged molars, and spoke up.
"I-Iwabe and Denki wanted to know if I could go to the shopping district w-with them..." he stuttered, tears already building in his eyes. Shino wanted to grin at that, but instead he remained relaxed, because he wasn't Lee and someone had to be the sensible parent.
"Do you want to go with them?"
An eager nod.
"Do you promise to train and do your homework as soon as you come home at a reasonable hour?"
Another nod, this one more confident.
Shino chuckled, mentally directing a nearby crane fly to keep a close watch on Metal just in case (one could never be too careful). He stood back to his full height, giving Metal one last tender pat on the head before sending him off.
"Be safe, have fun, I love you," he said.
Metal cried in exclamation, quickly hugging Shino before dashing off the meet up with his friends. Shino took his time leaving the classroom, the crook of his lips slanted upwards as he slowly walked the length of the halls.
Metal has joined the two boys, Shino-san. They appear to have welcomed him with open arms.
Shino shook his head good naturedly at the crane fly's report, allowing a small toothy smile. Perhaps he had misjudged Iwabe and Denki, as well as Metal. Shino decided to instead worry less about his son and more about himself.
Why? Because he still had so much to learn.