Tayuya felt an itching desire to glance at the rather heavy net bag of weapons the guards lugged up onto the table; pride forced her to keep eye contact with the inquisitor.

The clothes they had provided, or rather that she had woken up in (her normal clothes were nowhere to be found), consisted of only cotton Capri pants and a cotton, long sleeve shirt. It reminded her of the outfit she slept in.

The inquisitor didn't blink. She guessed he trained himself not to need to. Tayuya blinked rapidly, recognizing the inquisitor's pose; elbows on the table, fingers laced together, thumbs supporting the chin; that was the same way that Orochimaru's new favorite had liked to pose.

She leaned further away from the table, shuddering slightly at how cold the metal back of the chair was. He perked a minuscule amount, flashing black eyes catching the small spine spasm. The flash was enough to send another tremor down her spine.

Tayuya broke the eye contact, fixing her stare onto the dark bricks of the wall. She let her gaze flicker to the two-way mirror once or twice. He was still staring; his posture suggested nothing of the bemused glint in his eye. He thought it was him that was making her nervous.

The door abruptly opened inwardly, two shinobi stepped in, pushing a covered slab on wheels, followed shortly by a woman with vibrantly gold hair and a full bust. The inquisitor shifted out of the seat and the woman took it. She settled into it comfortably, putting her feet on the table.

The woman grinned in an almost warm way, but it stopped cold by her eyes. Tayuya focused on the purple diamond mark on her forehead to avoid looking into the coldness. The woman coughed.

"I need you to explain something to me." A large amount of authority seeped into her voice, betraying the young, firm face she wore.

Tayuya unintentionally rose her eyebrows. "What? Why I'm still alive?"

One of the ninjas that had come with the woman was gaping at her, eyebrows furrowed and his mouth crevassed open in the slightest bit.

The woman motioned with her hand to the other shinobi; he grabbed the white covering material and yanked it back.

Tayuya found herself looking at her own corpse, two years younger of course. The chakra swirling inside was keeping it from decomposing. Her eyes roamed the crushed body, absorbing in as much detail as possible.

"I want to know about that!" The woman waved her hand in the direction of the corpse.

"Oh," Tayuya didn't look away, "We always thought that, if we failed, you'd try to retrieve the bodies. You know, to hack them up or something, for Sound secrets."

The woman sighed, the heels of her shoes making a screeching sound as she dragged them off the table top. "The other corpses are goop by now. Yours is the only one that didn't disintegrate."

Tayuya shrugged, still focusing on the diamond. "Well, you have to leave something behind when you want out."

The woman gave her a look. "You wanted out of dying?"

"The Sound Four," Tayuya resisted the urge to insult the woman. "The only way to get out is if there's something to take your place that looks like you, walks like you, and fights like you. A simple clone wouldn't cut it."

The woman cocked an eyebrow. "Why would you want out?"

"Because I knew he was going to fail and it wasn't exactly my choice when I joined."

There was a silence then. The woman appeared to be appraising her now, evaluating her worth.

"How did you know Orochimaru was going to fail?" The woman seemed more interested than she did before.

"He had three bodies on reserve, not counting your psychopath, and wanted to make sure we'd be willing to die for him. Then, he set up seals all over the village to keep everyone out," Tayuya explained.

The woman didn't look surprised. "Seals?"

"Yeah, the complex ones you have to decode separately before you can even open the first one," Tayuya said.

"You wouldn't do that to a village unless you were expecting war," The woman said. Tayuya chewed on her tongue and shook her head. She thought for a moment. "Do you know how to decode these seals?"

"I only know the basic system for figuring it out," Tayuya answered. She looked back at the corpse again. The chakra was practically pulsing out to her. She couldn't remember the energy that came with a full chakra core. Tayuya slid both of her hands beneath the table to resist from reaching out to touch it, absorb it.

"Why…did you go to so much effort to hide the fact that you'd escaped? Wouldn't just running away work?" The woman asked. She sounded so sincere that Tayuya again resisted the urge to insult her. She breathed deeply.

"Because," Tayuya answered after a moment, "you're less likely to be found if they don't know they're looking for you."

"Ah, so the clone was to fake your own death," The woman waved her hand at it, "I mean, I doubt this thing would have been able to trick your team mates for long."

Tayuya gave the woman a smirk. "It only had to work for a few weeks. Orochimaru was planning on sacrificing us anyway."

The woman furrowed her brows at this. "How long did you serve him?"

"Ten years," Tayuya answered without hesitation.

"Did you enjoy being away from him?"

Tayuya smiled. "Yes."

"Well," The woman said, leaning to rest her chin on her palm. "I think I can cut you a deal, if your memory of the decoding system is as good as you say it is. One that doesn't include your execution."

"How could you make me a deal like that?"

"I just have a lot of influence," The woman, who she would later find out to be the Hokage, said, smiling. "I could argue that you had absolutely no involvement with the Sound attack on this village. It was all this' work."

The woman waved at the clone.

She gave Tayuya a lazy-eyed smirk, but her voice held absolute power.

"You just have to do everything I tell you to."


Author's Note: MY GOD, This spent a whole year on my hard drive before I found it again (when I was moving all my files from the family computer to my new laptop), so I finished it. I love this one for some reason… Reviews are my equivilant to white blood cells, without them, my work would perish.