This idea came to me at Thespian Festival while I was playing sudoku in-between workshops. Enjoy! Please comment, and criticism is welcome.

Ryou's eyes scanned the page quickly, studying his challenge. His brow furrowed, and his eyes burned with an unwavering concentration. He smiled cunningly as he found the first number.


His concentration was broken by the sudden shrill cry of "RYOU!" compliments of one red-headed catgirl. He heaved a sigh and replied, tiredly, "What could you possibly want now, Strawberry?"

"I think you know, Ryou! I am the only one who ever does substantial work around here, and I think that my paycheck should reflect th-What's that?" She said, pointing at the odd skew of boxed in numbers. "It's sudoku."

"And that is..."

"Jeez...See this big box? Each, row, column, and smaller box has to have the numbers one through nine in it. None of the rows, columns, or boxes can repeat numbers. Get it?" She cocked her head to the left. "Oooh, I see. So, that right there is a five, right?"

"N-Well, yeah it is."

"So that's a four."


"And, that's a nine."

"Okay, if you're such a prodigy at this, why don't you do it?" Ichigo opened her mouth to shoot back a retort when she came up with a wonderful, awful idea. "Fine. But, if I can finish by the end of my shift, I get my raise." Ryou smirked, unimpressed. "All right, fine. However if you can't, I get to keep your paycheck for the rest of the month."

Ichigo smiled, confident. "Deal." After shaking on it, Ryou left the room, assured that he would not lose.

"Ryou? Ryoooooou? Where are you?" The catgirl looked around the café for her boss. After going down the stairs to the lab, she found him sitting at the large computer, sleeping. She sat in the chair next to him, staring at the calm that was his face. She was so perplexed that she began to lean forward, eventually falling out of her chair, causing the sleepy Ryou to wake from the racket. "Lord, Strawberry, must you mess everything up?"

"I DO NOT MESS EVERYTHING UP! For your information, I finished your dumb sudoku, so THERE!" She threw book at him and started to storm off. Ryou scanned over her answers, suprised and impressed that she managed to finish it.

You're not the one who messes up everything, Ichigo, thought Ryou. I am. "Ichigo, wait!" The girl stopped where she was, pivoting on her feet to squint angrily. "Good job. You've earned the raise, okay?" he said as he walked toward her. "However..." Ichigo visibly slumped at the words. "Let me finish. You see, I paid good money for this sudoku book, and I had intended to be the one to finish everything in it. Since you've taken that chance from me, I believe that reparations are in order."

Ryou looked down at Ichigo, standing not half a foot from her, causing the poor confused girl to blush. Without further delay, he gently took her face into his calloused hands, and brought her face to his, pausing momentarily before carefully covering her lips with his. All at once, a warm feeling began to spread through Ichigo, starting with the tips of her fingers and traveling in all directions like a multitude of fireworks. Her lips and arms seemed to move of their own accord, the former moving in time with her heart, the latter snaking their way around Ryou's neck.

After a few minutes of almost flawless bliss, they pulled apart to stare at each other, neither of them quite grasping what had just passed between them. After a few minutes of silence and staring, Ichigo began to chuckle softly. "So Ryou...what did you have in mind?"

Ryou laughed with her, feeling a strange combination of content and euphoria. Who would have imagined that a strategy game would have earned him Ichigo's heart?

I hope you like it! Again, please let me know what you think!