"Shino, I would be delighted to spar with you on such a lovely night, almost as lovely as yourself!" Lee had declared, standing at Shino's side on one of Konoha's many busy streets. The two were currently taking a stroll on one of the few nights both of them were free from missions and training of some sorts. It was always pleasant to walk with his boyfriend, and Shino could feel the bugs inside him buzzing positively to his heightened chakra rush every time Lee would bump their shoulders together or squeeze his hand softly in a fleeting moment so as to not draw attention to their relationship. Shino often found himself filled with indescribable energy when Lee was with him.
Lee was so considerate, passionate, and patient with Shino, and because of this he was almost always flattered underneath his cool exterior. His bug friends enjoyed teasing Shino the most about his ridiculous increase in chakra flow and heartbeat when around his boyfriend, but who didn't feel more alive when Lee was present? Lee, who was grinning at him expectantly as he waited for Shino's answer. The walking hive smiled slightly.
"Sure," he answered after a beat of consideration. He doesn't recall ever sparring Lee before, even as far back as the Chunin exams when they had first "met", so this was sure to be interesting. Lee grins brightly, the giddiness in his expression reaching his legs as he begins to hop in excitement.
"Let us relocate to the training grounds then, my love!" He manages not to shout at full volume, but still loud enough to catch the glimpses of a few passing civilians. Shino resists the eyeroll, even if Lee wouldn't be able to see it.
So, they casually hop the rooftops until they're well outside Konoha's populated area, now in an open field surrounded by the forest's trees. Shino recognizes this as Lee's prime training ground, as Kurenai had often taken Shino and his teammates out here to train alongside Team Gai in their younger days. Coincidentally, however, Shino had never sparred with Lee, simply alongside him.
Now in the privacy of the village's outskirts, Lee presses a loving kiss to Shino's headplate, right on the leaf symbol - a silent yet powerful reminder of Lee's everlasting love for him. He cracks an irresistible smile at that, reaching up to trace the imprinted leaf symbol where the other man's lips had just been. Lee is grinning as he begins hopping backwards, creating distance between them before the fight starts.
"How hard would you like to spar, Shino? I am open to any level of intensity!" Lee calls from his side of the clearing. Shino knows for a fact that Lee will fight with his all should Shino request so, opening the gates and all, but he's not sure he wants to go so hard on such a peaceful night. That, and Shino doesn't particularly want to face the power of the gates head on. Not that he is afraid he can't beat Lee - they're pretty evenly matched - but he would rather not see Lee harm himself just for a friendly sparring date, especially since opening the gates lead to such pain and damage to the body. Shino wants everything for Lee but suffering.
So he shoots for something he thinks will both satisfy himself and Lee.
"We'll fight until we're about halfway out of chakra. Don't open past the third gate. Why?" He lowers his chin, feeling a bit of a fool for saying so, "Because I do not wish to see you in pain..." It's basically a mumble, but Lee manages to hear him even past the cloth of his jacket and throw up a bandaged thumbs-up.
"Of course, Shino, I would not wish to burden you with such a sight! However, I am completely fine with opening up to the fifth gate without too harsh of injuries-" Shino's expression or posture must have hardened subconsciously because Lee cuts himself off and apologizes, and a sigh escapes Shino's lips. He could be so insistent sometimes (all the time). Thankfully, Lee focuses and gets into position, waiting for Shino to prepare himself as well.
Fighting your boyfriend? One bug buzzes near his ear. Shino scoffs. It was always the most aggressive ones who enjoyed banter before battle, even if the enemy could not possibly hear them.
We promise not to eat too much of his chakra.
Just don't blame us if we get greedy. You haven't fed us properly in days.
"You'll do no such thing," he whispers, eyes widening in alert as Lee suddenly disappears, leaving only a trail of dust in his wake. There's a green blur to his left and Shino barely reacts in time to duck below the swipe that is a kick aimed at his head. Lee's obviously holding back, because that kick would have definitely landed if Shino had not been his ally or had they not been sparring for fun (resulting in a broken neck, for sure).
Shino tucks and rolls, creating a barrier of sturdy bugs around him while sending more agile and attack-suited bugs to the outskirts of the clearing. He can hear Lee outside his barrier of buzzing bugs, shouting his own playful banter about Shino needing to wake up and fight him for real (which would soon prove to be hypocritical of him to say).
Shino can feel a shift in his bugs' positioning to his five o'clock and he acts accordingly, launching three shuriken as well as an army of attack bugs in the direction. Lee appears from out of his green blur, easily evading and landing kick upon punch repeatedly on Shino's bug shield.
The fight lasts for roughly one whole minute before Shino realizes they might as well be slapping hands like children, because Lee is holding back all of his blows and Shino is holding back all of his bugs. Lee, being the loving person he is, obviously does not wish to harm his precious person's small companions, and such is apparent on his face where a worried smile is present, and in his movements where he's beginning to slow down and back off from Shino's barrier.
They both realize the fight is pointless.
Finally, Lee launches himself back several meters and clenches his fists in frustration, and Shino knows the spar is now over.
Already? But his chakra is so delicious... A large portion of his bugs complain and resist as he directs them back into his body. But he knows how disappointing this must be for them, so he quietly promised to take on an A-Rank mission soon so they can feast to make up for this unfortunate occasion.
His bugs are not Shino's main priority at this moment, however, because Lee is glaring at two clenched fists meters away from him, very much in need of some consoling. Shino approaches him silently, surprised to find tears forming in his boyfriend's eyes. Although, it was not uncommon for Lee to cry.
"Rock..." he starts, brow creasing in concern. Lee's laugh cuts him off and the handsome devil rubs at his eyes roughly, a deep blush decorating his cheeks- half out of frustration, the other embarrassment. He looks truly disheartened by the results of their short-lived match.
"I apologize, Shino, but I cannot bring myself to harm your precious bugs for my own indulgence," Lee admits, sniffling and forcing a small laugh. Shino is frowning now, touched deeply by Lee's compassion for his bugs but also concerned that he would beat himself up so harshly over something so trivial.
But perhaps this was not trivial to Lee, the man who showed his love most vividly through physical contact. That included sparring, among the hand-holding, kissing, and back-breaking hugs. Shino, being one for more subtle acts of affection like small gifts or unspoken actions, couldn't possibly understand how important something like was to Lee. But he wanted to, so he did what he could.
He pulled Lee in closely, ignoring the chants of hunger from the bugs within him, and wrapped his arms around the other's waist in a tight embrace.
In the many months the two have been dating, Shino doesn't ever recall initiating the physical contact, just accepting it. That was before this, however, and Shino decided that he would be the first to initiate intimate moments more often from this point onward; Lee couldn't be expected to do all the work, that was just unfair.
Lee, being the sap he is, melted into the hug immediately, crying on about how sorry he was for not being able to provide Shino with a fiery intense battle of the ages. Little did he know, Shino didn't mind at all, and just enjoyed spending time with Lee however he could (which is why he'd agreed to the spar in the first place).
"I have never been able to turn an opponent down, my dear beloved Shino, and you have my deepest apologies!" Lee cried into his shoulder. Shino chuckled, shaking his head lovingly. Only he would say something like that. Well, maybe Gai Sensei as well.
"It's fine, Lee, I don't mind." Lee stops crying but remains in Shino's arms, the grip on his outer jacket loosening and morphing into something more relaxed as he calms down from his emotional outburst. Sometimes Shino feels guilty that he can't match Lee's enthusiasm, but he supposes being a grounding weight is what Lee needs more. He has Naruto to match his excitement, anyways, he didn't need Shino for that, too.
They stay locked in place for a few moments before Lee pulls away, a newfound light in his round eyes. The thank you is unspoken, but it feels warm nonetheless, and Shino clings to that emotion just as tightly as he does every other time he feels it.
He suspects the feeling is (falling in) love, but he can't be too sure yet. They've only been dating for half a year, minded.
Instead of an all-out brawl, Shino suggests they do some light taijutsu training; he'd been meaning to sharpen his close combat skills anyways. Lee agreed with the biggest smile on his face, immediately jumping into Teacher Mode as they began their small session.
"Would you like to come to dinner with Gai Sensei and me?" Lee asks an hour later, his arms wrapped around Shino's waist from behind after just having repositioned the Aburame's stance. Lee's breath is hot on his bare neck- Shino had shed his heavy jacket near the beginning of the session to allow for Lee to examine his form (they both knew it was an excuse for Lee to shamelessly feel up and drink in Shino's physique, because although Lee might be sincere and sweet, he was still a boyfriend who loved physical contact- every kind).
Shino nods, taking Lee's hand as nonchalantly as possible and pocketing his own. Lee's smile grows at the answer, interlocking their fingers, and begins to lead Shino back into the village.
It's the evening on a Tuesday so not many people fill the streets leading to Gai's apartment, but there are some stragglers here and there that give Lee a wave and their greetings for Gai Sensei - since they all seem to know exactly where he's headed. Thankfully, they are polite enough not to draw attention to the interlocked hands between the two shinobi, as they are Gai's neighbors and therefore Lee's neighbors as well.
Shino has been inside Gai's apartment exactly twice before tonight, and both times were after he'd offered to walk Lee home after a late night date (as he does every time like a good boyfriend should) only to find he was staying the night with his Sensei. What Shino was not expecting was for Captain Yamato and the Hokage himself to be inside the apartment as well. Nor was he expecting them to swing open the door in greeting before Lee even had a chance to knock, much less disconnect their hands.
Shino was shocked and downright flustered, to put it plainly.
"So our little Lee invited Kurenai's boy over for the family dinner, did he? Are things becoming serious between you two?" Yamato teases as they enter the apartment, the captain reaching up to poke Lee's forehead playfully as Shino watches in silent shock. He hadn't a clue that Yamato was so informal with Lee, much less referring to him as our little Lee. Kakashi shut the door behind them, watching in lazy amusement as Lee was subjected to Yamato's teasing while Shino trailed behind them helplessly.
Lee was blushing visibly now, a bit taken aback himself.
"I did not expect you and Kakashi Sensei to be here as well, Yamato Taichou..." Lee mumbled, coming the closest to bashful that Shino had seen him since he first asked him out on a date. Yamato laughs, hands on his hips looking like something akin to a proud uncle or elder brother, and apologizes for embarrassing Lee in front of his boyfriend (the statement just proves to further embarrass the two younger shinobi).
Kakashi insists they wait in the livingroom for Gai to finish up dinner before leaving to join said husband in the kitchen. Yamato remains with the red-faced pair, a small knowing smirk on his lips.
Shino sits on the couch next to Lee, still stunned by the unexpected encounter.
"So, Shino, has Lee been treating you right? Or will I have to beat some sense into him?" Yamato asks, sitting opposite to them behind the coffee table, a genuine fist in the air. Yamato was very unsettling when he wanted to be.
Shino would admit he'd barely talked to Yamato at all before the war, much less after it, but something in the man had definitely changed because of it. He was looser now, and more expressive, like a set of imaginary chains had been detached, thus finally setting him free from whatever was holding him back.
Shino was happy for him, if nothing, but still surprised by his familiar tone he used when talking to Lee, as if he were talking to a little brother or younger relative. Just when had this development taken place? If anything that tone should be directed towards a certain Uzumaki.
"He has been nothing but a delight, sir," Shino answered honestly. Lee grinned, as expected, and Yamato seemed satisfied by the answer enough to smile as well.
"Just 'Yamato' is fine. You too, Lee, drop the Taichou already. I swear, Gai raised you way too strictly," the man mused, frowning at Lee with an accusatory finger. Lee laughed, straightening his shoulders and fluffing his chest out with pride.
"Gai Sensei is the best teacher a shinobi could ask for! He raised me to be the youthful man I am today, Yamato Tai- Yamato! No offense to Kurenai Sensei, of course." Lee defended, but he wasn't so much defensive as he was downright proud. Shino felt the same about Kurenai, everyone knew, even if he didn't shout it to the whole world at every opportunity.
Yamato rolled his eyes, the smirk never quite leaving those cat-like eyes of his. He pushed himself out from under the table, cracking his neck and stretching his thick limbs.
"Well, I'm going to go help those two idiots set up the dinner table, please make yourself at home, Shino," Yamato announced, turning to leave the room. Shino shot out an arm towards Lee before he could stand up and offer his help as well, earning a questioning look from the other boy.
Shino waited until Yamato was in the kitchen before turning to Lee, one imposing question on his mind.
"What is Yamato to you?" He asked a bit too boldly for his own taste, but his curiosity was too strong this time to hold back. Lee chuckled, not at all surprised by the sudden inquiry.
He bowed a fraction towards Shino. "I apologize for not introducing you properly beforehand, but I truly did not expect Yamato Taichou and Kakashi Sensei to be here tonight! Gai Sensei and Kakashi Sensei are, as you know, married-" Lee pressed the tips of his pointer fingers together before raising a single pinky as well "-and Yamato is married to them as well! They are all married to each other!" He exclaimed, proud of the visual aid he was providing with three connected finger tips.
Shino nodded, previously unaware of this new information. Basically the whole village knew of the Hokage's relationship with the Noble Blue Beast of Konoha, but Shino hadn't a clue Yamato was also in the mix. Lee chuckled knowingly at whatever expression Shino must be making to indicate such confusion.
"Captain Yamato prefers not to be shown to the public eye, just like you, my love!" He offers as an offhand explanation for the secrecy. That came off as a bit of a surprise, considering Yamato's newfound carefree behavior, but Shino assumed there was a valid underlying reason as to why this was the case. Then Lee blushed, raising a finger to scratch at his chin timidly.
"...Gai Sensei is the closest thing I have to a fatherly figure, so Kakashi Sensei and Yamato Taichou have also become parental figures to me, as well," Lee mumbled, both humbled and overjoyed at the confession. He was practically radiating light and floating hearts.
Shino also smiled, glad his boyfriend had a family to support him (besides his fellow young shinobi, of course). The bug user jumped slightly as Lee leaned forward, eyes trained on Shino's lips. Was he planning to kiss him with company present, where anyone could walk in and see them? Just as Shino prepared to push him away politely, Lee grinned and lifted up a finger, and there was a catch in Shino's breath when he realized there were now several bugs crawling up Lee's extended finger from a hole below Shino's lower lip.
Lee brought his finger back, admiring the small creatures with round, loving eyes. This would have been a touching moment, seeing Lee treat a literal part of Shino with such love and care, if not for the fact that the bugs were only trying to eat Lee's appealing chakra. Shino sighed, lowering Lee's hand with his own and directing the bugs into his palm before they could do any real harm.
"Do not be fooled by their innocent exterior, Lee, they are trying to feast on your refreshing chakra," Shino mumbled, mentally preparing a lecture for his misbehaving bugs. They were always so under his control, but with Lee around and constantly scrambling Shino's composure and emotions it was a tad more difficult to keep them in check.
"I apologize for their misbehavior..."
There was a dangerous glint in Lee's eye, and his grin turned as mischievous as someone earnest like Lee could possible make it.
"Does my chakra taste good?" He pressed, completely unfazed by the rudeness of the creatures. Shino's cheeks were brushed with a pink tint. How would he know? He wasn't the one eating Lee's chakra.
Delicious!!! The bugs cheered, buzzing the loudest Shino's heard them since their last S-Rank mission, where they feasted upon a deadly rouge's chakra banks. Lee's mouth formed an 'O' as a small breath of awe left his lips.
"Your bugs are very loud tonight, Shino! Does that mean they like me? Are they trying to talk to me? It is a pleasure to be acquainted with you all!" Lee salutes to Shino's general chest area. And if Shino wasn't so ashamed of himself for not having his bugs under complete control, he would have entertained Lee a bit. Instead he mumbled something about them simply being hungry and focused all of his chakra on compressing the bugs, effectively hushing them. Lee laughed and threw his head back, clurching his stomach as his laughter grew stronger.
"What?" Shino asked through clenched teeth. He wasn't angry, or anything near that - it was impossible to feel that way when Lee's bright voice filled the air - but he was visibly embarrassed by the events of the night so far. How foolish he must look, not being able to control his own bugs - something (honestly the only thing) he was known for.
Lee calmed himself down, wiping a tear from the corner of his eye, unable to stop smiling from ear to ear. If Shino weren't entirely focusing his energy and spirit into restraining his bugs, the next statement would have definitely resulted in a hoard of bugs flooding Gai's apartment.
"I love you very much, Aburame Shino."
Shino didn't know what to say, nor did he have to, because Kakashi entered the room and notified them that dinner was ready and they should wash up. Blessed, Shino made a beeline for the bathroom, locking the door behind him and leaning against it, an actual bead of sweat forming on his temple. He took his time cleaning his hands and composing himself, fearful that if he didn't get himself under control there would be trouble when dinner began. He would be in the presence of not only three respected shinobi - one being The Hokage himself - but Lee's family. As unexpected as this was, it was still an important moment for them both, and meeting one's partner's family for dinner was custom to their culture. Shino rubbed his eyes with damp hands, hoping to calm his nerves.
You'll be fine, kiddo, an elderly mother bug cooed near his left ear.
We'll be good if you uphold that promise about the S-Rank mission, a more rebellious bug buzzed. Shino sighs, readjusting his goggles and looking at himself in the mirror. Untamed was the only word to describe his hair, but it was impolite to wear a hood when in the presence of dinner and relatives, so he ran a few fingers through his nest of hair and unzipped his jacket collar while he was at it. He frowned at his reflection for his appearnce was a bit underwhelming, but gained the resolve to leave the safety of the bathroom and join his fellow shinobi in the dining room.
Lee bounced excitedly in his chair when Shino walked in, shooting him an encouraging thumbs-up and sparkling smile, Gai with his own Nice Guy Pose. Shino nodded to him, taking his seat to the left of Lee, Kakashi sitting at the head of the table to his right. Yamato was seates across from Shino with Gai to the wood-style user's left, opposite of Lee. Both green, bowl cut bearing men were emitting pure joy and grinning madly at Shino, both overly fond for their own reasons. Shino resisted the smile that wanted to grace his lips and instead turned his gaze to the full plate before him.
"I have prepared plenty enough for everyone, so dig in to your young heart's content, dear Shino!" Gai bellowed, raising a fist as if declaring a major accomplishment. Lee mirrored the pose and thanked him for the meal, of which consisted of hearty curry, an array of vegetables, and udon. Kakashi, who looked on the verge of falling asleep, thanked Gai for the food, followed by Yamato as well. Shino bowed out of respect, giving his quiet thanks.
The meal itself was very delicious, and Shino was surprised to find that the curry wasn't melting his tongue, given Gai's love for spicy foods. In every instance of Kakashi lowering his mask to take a bite, Lee would pointedly look in the opposite direction, even going as far to throw a hand up to block his left field of view. Shino didn't let it show on his face, but he took every opportunity to peer at the Hokage's face for himself, thankful his goggles covered his eyes. Kakashi didn't seem to care; he was either too tired from working all day or he simply didn't mind with the present company.
As for the topics they discussed, Shino kept his comments to a minimum and let Lee do all the talking for him. The taijutsu master was animated as he recounted several missions the two had teamed up for (some with just the two of them, but most of the time they were accompanied by Sakura or Tenten), singing his praises for Shino with the purest adoration in his tone. Shino made sure to fit in his own praise of Lee when given the chance. Even if it was just a small compliment, tears rushed down Gai's face as he sobbed over how proud he was of Lee for finding his "soulmate". Kakashi and Yamato had laughed at Shino's poorly hidden reaction to that statement.
Dinner ends with many thanks to the chef, who accepts them with pride. Shino is very satisfied with the meal, as are the bugs that resonate within his stomach. Lee looks a bit fatigued from eating so much, Yamato and Kakashi are literally nodding off, and Gai whacks Lee upon the head with a wooden spoon, demanding he be a good student and help clean up. Shino offers his help, and is instantly shot down, told instead to relax wherever he pleases while Lee prepares leftovers to-go.
Gai, Kakashi, and Yamato stand/sit in the doorway as Shino and Lee depart, both earning overly paternal sentiments from Gai and Kakashi - the latter being moreso parodic of the former. They bid their farewells and begin walking in the direction of the Aburame Clan's home. Lee's hand is hot in Shino's cold palm, and feeling Lee's hands without bandages is always fascinating, seeing how he was so many nicks and callouses, yet his hands remain comfortable to hold.
Shino stops in his tracks as they reach the street leading to the Shinobi Apartment Complex where Lee lives. He turns to meet Lee's curious gaze, a small curve forming on his lips.
"Allow me to walk you home."
"Walk me home?"
The grip on his hand almost breaks every bone as it tightens, and he allows the deep kiss without a hint of hesitance.
"Your eyes are brown!"
"They are a dark red, but I understand how such a dimly lit setting could cause this misconception. Why? Because-"
"They are beautiful!"
"You are welcome! Why?" Lee giggles at his impersonation, pulling Shino closer under the sheets with lidded eyes, "Because I love you."