A/N: Er, my first invasion of the Naruto category. Absolutely no idea where this came from, but it's been an idea floating around inside my head for a while, and I finally decided to sit down and type it.


This didn't make sense.

None of this did.

On the other hand, Kabuto reasoned, not a lot of things made sense anymore anyway. So why bother to think through this too much? He watched her move her silver general diagonally forward and to the left. As he raised a single eyebrow, he pushed his glasses up his nose, as he often did when he thought.

"Impressive." He said simply, definitively, as though he weren't actually complimenting her, merely pointing out a fact. He sniffed slightly.

"I could say the same, Kabuto." Tayuya said, her dark eyes following his long, pale finger as he slid his bishop back, so as not to be captured by her silver general. She made a noise as a cross between a scoff and a chuckle. Such a thing was signature of her, the demeaning, sarcastic nature. "That's what I thought." She moved her own knight forward, without a moment of thought.

Thinking he sensed a moment of weakness, a slip up in her plan, he moved his bishop back to capture the knight. As she moved her silver general to capture the bishop, he realized a moment too late that he had fallen for her plan.

"You would sacrifice your knight, to capture my bishop?" He asked, cocking his head slightly.

"I can deal without it. It's all about having your priorities figured out." She moved a pawn forward.

"Oh, yes, you've got everything figured out." He said, not bothering to suppress the nastiness in his voice. Why was he here anyway, playing shogi with the kunoichi of the Sound Four, in the middle of the night? Nothing made sense anymore, and he certainly wasn't going to waste anytime figuring this one out. He knew he wouldn't come up with an answer, anyway. He moved his lance two squares forward.

Tayuya narrowed her eyes further. "It's none of your business what I do or don't have figured out." She rested her finger of the top of her pawn for a moment, but thought better of it and moved her rook a space to the left.

"I never said it was." Kabuto said, moving his pawn another square forward, his dark eyes never moving from hers. Anyone else, save for Orochimaru himself, might have turned away or shuddered, but Tayuya stared back with the same intensity that he offered her, if not more. Even in the middle of the night, playing shogi by the light of a single candle, her bright hair framed her face like flames, as if she was so overflowing with determination and passion that she was figuratively on fire. She moved her gold general forward and promoted it.

"You're aggressive." Kabuto pointed out, moving his lance once more.

"In shogi?" She asked, raising her eyebrows in a slightly amused way.

"In general." He said, after thinking for an instant. He moved his king one spot to the right, sensing the danger of her newly-promoted gold general.

"You're not." She said flatly, in a two-dimensional way he couldn't quite read. "You always have your foolproof strategy." She pointed out, rolling her eyes, "Not the kind to take risks, are you, Kabuto?" She moved her lance one space forward.

"I suppose you could say that." Kabuto replied, a slight edge to his voice. Why did she say that? Why were they talking about this? Why were they even up at this hour, playing shogi by candlelight? It seemed like a childish, foolish, senseless thing to do, an activity without purpose or direction. But, he reminded himself, not a lot made sense these days. She would put him in checkmate if he didn't pay more attention to the game at hand, as opposed to the mind games they played with each other, each night over shogi. Normal teenagers went out to bars and taverns and drank until they didn't remember who they were, he and Tayuya stayed up all hours of the night trying to outsmart each other in every way possible. He moved his remaining bishop diagonally and took her lance.

Tayuya made a face, a look of disgust plastered on her head, as though the expression were slightly displaced. But in an instant she regained her focus, but Kabuto could still sense that she was disgruntled by the fact that he had caught her slip-up. If she had anything to do with it, it was not going to happen again. She moved her gold general one space closer to the king. If she had been aggressive before, now she was acting recklessly, in a crazed sort of way. She had been ruffled by the temporary defeat brought on by the loss of her lance. Perhaps it had been a vital part in her plan, he speculated.

"You're feisty." Kabuto said, his king retreating once more.

"Excuse me?" Tayuya looked up from the board, as if unsure of whether to be offended or—well—offended.

"I said you're feisty." He repeated, smirking slightly, as if insulting her intelligence as opposed to complimenting her.

"You're not." She repeated, like earlier, only this time with a little more life, a little more meaning in her voice. She moved her rook forward, to occupy the space now vacant, left behind by her gold general. As if suspicious of him, she moved her piece without ever taking her eyes off of him.

"I like that in you." He said, aware of the danger of his statement but not making it known in his voice. He did his best to sound daring, like the risk-taker they both knew he wasn't. As expected, Tayuya was at a loss for words, searching her mind for something witty, edgy and brilliant to say, but when nothing came to mind, he soon found that she came up with another solution that was better than anything she could have possibly said. Within seconds, she had discarded all care for their shogi game and closed the gap in between the two, toppling Kabuto himself and startling him like never before.

After a long moment, Tayuya herself broke the kiss and looked at Kabuto, having recomposed himself. He stared at the flaming haired girl before him, with a smirkish grin on her face that could belong to no one else. Their shogi game may have reached a stalemate, but she had won. She always did. Even when she lost, she always won. She was part of the Sound Village. She was a kuniochi. She was a shinobi.