Let's Play A Game

By Hokata Yuy

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He leaned against the wide trunk of the tree, trying to catch his breath from the near-miss he'd just had with a hungry ghost. Ghost or not, the thing had just tried to take a bite out of his soul and that left him a little... confused. His mind was spinning with all the new information and possible tactics to use against this loudmouth.

'Her attack and defense are all flawless, they keep me just far away enough that I reach her with the kage mane. Though I could try and grab those three brutes of her's… but they're bouncing around too wildly to just chance a successful grab of all three. I miss just one and I'm dead.' His mind was buzzing through all of this in the time it took him to blink. The only problem was it kept repeating. As it was, he couldn't think of a way to breach her defense or stop her offense. 'She's good. Wonder if she's any good at chess?'

'Wait. Now's not the time to be thinking of random crap like this! Besides, even if she was, who cares? She's trying to kill you!' his rational mind snapped. Could be the frustration of not coming up with any new tactics against her, maybe it was part exhaustion, but the interesting question wouldn't stop coming back. Leaving half of his brain to spin its wheels about the battle, the other part forced his curiosity into action.

"Hey!" he shouted into the forest, letting the trees bounce his voice around countless times, hiding his position.

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"?" she blinked. Was this guy a moron? Giving her a way to track where the hell he's hiding like that. 'Fucking loser. Must've lost his nerve after having the chakara in his arm turned into a snack for my summons.' she smirked and played a few soft notes, telling her beasts to keep sweeping the area to see where the little brat was hiding.

"Do you like to play games?" his voice echoed out of the forest again.

"?" Once again, she blinked a few times, utterly confused at what he just asked. For a split second, she took her mouth off of her flute to say something, then violently shook her head and put the instrument back to her lips. 'That sonuva bitch just tried to get me to stop controlling my summons!' she snarled some, snapping off a quick quartet to increase their efforts. The giants now jumping from branch to branch like angry spiders, with their 'souls' passing through the trunks of trees in their search.

"Like chess, or go, or shogi?" he continued.

'Ok, now he's just being weird,' she grumbled. 'Who talks about playing games in the middle of a battle for your life? Only someone that didn't give a fuck about what they were doing… or even if they won. As if a dip-shit like that would be out here on a rescue mission like this.'

Oh how wrong she was.

"Guess you're more of a checkers kinda chick aren't ya?" his voice came back after a minute of silence, with a tinge of arrogance. "Maybe tic-tac-toe…?" he added with a sigh.

-snap-

"Oh fuck you! I'm not some goddamn simpleton that can only play with one kind of piece at a time!" she suddenly screamed back at the detached voice in the forest. It took her until the last echo of her voice faded away to realize that she'd done exactly what he'd wanted.

Taken her mouth off the controller for her ogres.

Every muscle in her tensed as she took a deep breath and brought the flute back to her lips. Too late. A kunai flew out of the underbrush and sliced her instrument in half. A spit-second after realizing this, she threw the end of it away and tried to control the beasts with the other half. The noise that came out made her wince.

It wasn't a painful note that made her wince, but none at all, just her own breath blowing straight through the hollow tube. Quickly looking around at her creatures, she confirmed the worst. They were all just standing there dumbly, their 'souls' already sealed back inside their mouths. "Goddamn… cock monkey," she glared out at the woods, just waiting for him to strut out of the brush all cockily and smirking.

A thump off to her left made her spin and look at the little shitter again. He leaned against the tree trunk, arms crossed over his chest lightly and looking at her as calmly as a person still trying to catch their breath could.

She growled and clenched her fists at her sides, "I'm gonna kil-"

"So? Do you play games?"

Bringing that tactic back up caught her off guard, "W-what the fuck is with you and games? Stop asking BS questions! You already broke my flute with that weird shit you keep saying, you can stop now!" She shook her head side to side violently, red hair flying everywhere.

"Because all this combat and life-and-death stuff is too much of a hassle to be worth it. It's easier to settle things with a nice wood table outside a restaurant while having a drink," he said with a light shrug, as if it was the solution for world peace.

She went slack-jawed and just stared at him. "………You're fucking insane… Konohana's full of fucking idiots…" she muttered to herself, putting her hand on her forehead to try and stop the wave of nausea from loosing to this punk from knocking her off her feet. This hurt her pride so much, she lost her focus on not only the summoned ogres, but on her level one curse seal, which retreated back into it's dormant form.

"Well…? You want to be the X's or the O's?" he asked after putting up with another minute of her ghostly mumblings.

"W-what?" she blinked at him, noting that this bastard had a way of catching her off guard. "I said I don't play those little kiddy games," she glared.

"Then what do you play?" he replied with a shrug, sounding disinterested, but still curious inside.

"For your fucking information, I've never lost a single battle in chess, shogi, or go in all of Sound! So suck it," she smirked, emphasizing with a curt nod at the end.

"Oh? Really now?" he smiled and pushed himself off of the tree some, reaching inside on of his vest pockets for a scroll. 'This could be a little interesting after all…'

She saw him move for a scroll and shifted to a ready stance. If he was going to try and kill her, she was going to kill him first. Bare handed if need be!

He unrolled the scroll with a flick of the wrist and bit his thumb just enough to draw blood, dragging it across the scroll's text. Then slamming the paper down on the ground a cloud of smoke filled the air. When it cleared she saw something truly stunning.

A shogi board.

With full pieces on either side.

And two pillows on each side.

"Let's play a game," he smirked at her, as if she'd played right into his trap.

At this point… her mind just clicked off for a while. After the shock of some twerp beating her in such an embarrassing way, then mocking her, and now having a goddamn board game stored in his vest, she couldn't take it any more. "You know what? Fine! Fucking fine! I don't care anymore!" she practically screamed, tousling her hair between her hands, reminding him of an explosive volcanic eruption. "But if I win I swear to god I'm going to kill you in more ways than words can express!" True, her own threat didn't make much sense either, but she didn't care right now.

She slowly walked over to the table and eyed it as if looking for traps. He was already seated on of the pillows, just waiting for her. With a growl she quickly sat cross-legged on the other cushion. For a full minute she glared at him. A glare that, for any man that knew her, would have caused a heart attack. But against someone as uncaring as Shikamaru, he didn't even flinch. Possibly because it's hard to be scared of someone who's face and hair are almost the same color red right now.

"Please… Ladies first," he motioned to her with a smile. It seemed as if he was enjoying this. …no… that's impossible.

Or not.

She snarled and grabbed one piece and slammed it down on the board violently. He silently moved his first piece out after a second's thought. It took a few minutes, but she finally stopped muttering curses and trying to crack the board with each move.

And so they sat there… playing shogi… on a tree in the middle of nowhere… while everyone else was risking their life in this mission.

After an hour of playing, she grinned wide and lifted her final piece into the air, "check-"

WHOOSH!

A gust of wind forced him to cover his eyes for a second, and when he opened them his opponent wasn't there any more. Nor was the board of any of the pieces to the game, instead stood a rather familiar figure with a very large fan in front of him.

"Allies of Konoha, the shinobi of the Sand" she said in a proud voice that echoed on the wind.

"……" He stared at her for a second, wondering if he was suppose to thank her now?

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And bam. The first (and probably only) example of 'crack' you'll get from me. Pretty tame compared to a hyper fangirl's work, but it's very strange for me to write this much weirdness. Also can't be helped since I wanted to write it in one sitting or else I'd lose my interest in putting the idea down.

Well, whatever, I'm just trying to add more Tayuya fics to the very small pool.