A/N - Not super long, even though I promised, but its a good solid length!

Sorry, but I figured I should post this now!

Here you go. An early new years gift if I dont post again before then.

DISCLAIMER - I do not own Naruto

Songs used for this chapter - Sharon Van Etten - Love More (LuQuS Bootleg) & The Neighborhood - Silver

I sat on the curb on some abandon street smiling, Kankuro chattering away in my ear next to me while boasting about all the new tricks he managed to learn over break. He seemed proud as he informed me of numerous trick names, knowing that I hadn't the faintest idea what any of them were and simply looking over the fact. He didn't seem to care to the slightest, far too happy with my approving nods to mind that I was absolutely clueless and merely kept on with that childlike boyish smile of his.

If I hadn't known better, I would find myself thinking he was a bit cute.

But I couldn't do that, I couldn't even look as if I was overly enjoying myself with the conversation, not with Tayuya wandering about and occasionally giving me a glance. I hadn't quite figured it out, but I think Kankuro made her slightly wary. Of what; I couldn't say. Still, in the very most private of my mind, I would like to entertain myself that she was just the least bit jealous of the small amount of game that Kankuro seemed to spit unknowingly. Sitting here, with his eyes sparking and searching for more approval, there was no way for me to believe that he was trying to capture my heart on purpose.

Yet the more he spoke, the more I wanted to pinch his cheek.

I guess it was more out of appreciation than me actually finding him charming. Kankuro never allowed me to go wandering about alone; he always attempted to keep me company. He must worry with all the new people around me, and in truth I didn't feel comfortable around any one at all. These few days of hanging out with the real full gang, I realized there were so many of them. And though most were nice, I felt like I wanted to shrink and sneak away half the time. Being around so many new faces was a bit nerve wrecking, so you could imagine my relief whenever I saw Kankuro strolling towards me in the most desperate moments. He saved me more than I could count with Tayuya too far out of my reach on rare occasion and me unknowingly looking completely lost.

He was my little buddy, there was no denying it.

"And then this other one I've been trying to learn for weeks now! You have to do this twitching thing with your feet, and I swear I wiped out more times than I could count doing it over and over and over again," Kankuro went on, knees bent up as he saw with me while giving me another smile.

I returned his in amusement and went on in mild fascination, "Ooh, what was it called?"

He tossed another name I didn't recognized, but I merely raised my eyebrows with impressed features. Giving me another grin, I continued on listening to his tale.

Apparently today was one of their skating sessions that Tayuya countlessly mentioned to me, but most of the time only brought up in conversation when explaining she skipped the event. Seeing how many people walked about, but more passing by on their boards, it honestly felt like a major occasion. They took turns showing off tricks, flipping and twisting their boards so easily all I could do was watch in amazement. But what caught my attention wasn't the show of skill all around me, but what Kiba had so casually slipped to me.

Apparently Tayuya was really good, and everyone always looked forward to seeing what she learned.

It never crossed my mind that Tayuya could pro at boarding, but then again I never bothered in taking an interest in seeing this side of her life. We usually did our own thing, hung with our own friends, and then at the end of the day kept each other company. Now, sitting here, watching her skate occasionally and talk to different people, I began to realize how popular she was with her group. Watching her on her board she seemed so graceful, and seeing her talk to the different skaters seemed just as effortless. She knew everyone by first name, boarded down the street without a care, and seemed to truly enjoy herself.

I wondered if she was like this all the, then questioned why I never bothered to tag along in the first place.

"Tayuya!" Someone called from the far end of the street, "Let's see what you got new, bro!"

I blinked at the call of her name, my eyes wandering to the boy who had called her out. Tayuya, who was talking with a small group near the dead grass and grouping of small trees stopped what she was doing and looked towards the boy as well. Then, as if reluctant, she stomped her board into her hand and began walking over. Unsure grin on her face, she began rubbing the back of her neck.

"I don't know man, I haven't been practicing at all," she admitted as people began paying attention. Even Kankuro and I stopped mid conversation to see what was going on.

"Don't give me that shit," the boy challenged with an easy smile, "I know you have something up your sleeve."

"Nah seriously," she went on with a small laugh, "I've been busy with other shit."

"Why do I feel like you're involved with her being so busy," Kankuro accused in a quiet tone.

"Don't look at me," I whispered back with a jab to his rib, "I hadn't been keeping her away from anything."

"Sure," he mumbled. I ignored him with a small glare.

"I hope whatever girl has you stuck is damn cute, because today you're going to look like a pure scrub if you can't pull off something decent," the boy joked, as Tayuya finally reached him.

The comment made her laugh, and with a shrug she replied, "I don't know Sasori, the girl I have in mind can take away my board any day."

Blushing, I bit my lip and drifted my eyes to the smooth concrete road underneath my crossed legs as I sat on the curb. For a second my stomach churned, but then with a cold thought Karin came floating past my mind. I wondered which one of us she was talking about.

But then again I was just being conceded and was hoping I was even an option.

"Fuck you man," Sasori replied, punching her shoulder, "Stop messing around. Let's see the works."

Sighing, she gave a smile, shrugged, and dropped her board on the road. My eyes wandered and caught that some people were around watching with interest and some weren't. Kankuro seemed mildly curious on what Tayuya was about to pull, so I kept quiet and watched as well. She put her foot on the board and started drifting away from the boy named Sasori slowly.

"Watch the board," Kankuro mumbled from beside me.

I raised my eyebrows slightly, but otherwise stayed quiet and watched.

As Tayuya slowly glided on her board, she began bending her knees, as if prepping up for whatever she was about to do. Then, so quick that I could hardly catch it, she flipped the board under her feet in a way that must have been absolutely impressive because a couple of people cursed in amazement.

"What the fuck," Kankuro commented mostly to himself, "Haven't been practicing my ass; takes me weeks to figure that out and she gets it in two days."

Blinking, I glanced over and asked, "Has she been practicing that?"

"No," he grumbled in response, "She saw me wipe out doing it, hasn't even bothered trying, and out of fucking no where she nails it tonight. What a bitch."

I smiled slightly at his annoyance, but my eyes wandered back to Tayuya as she kicked with some pace. I realized the first trick was probably just a warm up; she was now in full motion. Bending her knees again, she flipped her board and this time landed on only the front two wheels. Rolling on the road, seeming to balance herself effortlessly, she kept us in suspense because I knew there had to be more. Then even with my eyes completely trained on her she did another trick in a flash.

"No seriously, fuck her," Kankuro muttered in absolute distaste.

I laughed a bit as everyone began cursing again.

Tayuya continued on with her tricks, but I don't think she was doing it for the attention. She was in her own world, boarding by herself because in her mind we weren't even there. I guess that's why she was doing so well, how effortless it all seemed. To her this was second nature, to the rest of the skaters this was absolute skill, and to me…It was indescribable.

Then, out of nowhere, she looked over at me. Mid trick she caught my eyes, brown ones steady on mine. I was trapped, simply watched her, and for a moment the world paused. It felt like an eternity, I wondered what caused her to seek me out in the first place. But the moment was only a split instant in reality, and with a sickening snap I watched Tayuya miss her board and fall to the ground.

I instantly stood up, my heart sinking at the fall. The memory of the first moments of when we met came sweeping by, and a recalled that a similar scene of the falling from her board had caused the same stomach-turning reaction out of me. But unlike before, Tayuya didn't hop right back up. Instead she laid there, and everyone flinched and 'ouched' in pain.

Before I could think better of it, I found myself right next to her on the ground worriedly looking down at her condition. Nothing seemed broken; she simply laid there with beanie beside her head and hair tangled onto the street. Her eyes were shut though, I could see the pain twisted on her face and how hard she struggled not to vocalize her obvious discomfort. Eyebrows furrowed in absolute concern, I asked, "Are you alright?"

Her hands curled into fists and for a moment she didn't move. Just as I was about to panic, she slipped her eyes open and relaxed her fingers. Swallowing, she gave me weak smile, and in a soft joke she replied, "Besides feeling completely embarrassed, I'm perfectly fine."

I opened my mouth to say something, but just then Kankuro and Kiba showed up. They didn't look at all concerned; actually Kankuro looked beyond pleased about the situation while Kiba simply looked amused. Relaxed with no real urgency in his town tone, Kiba inquired, "Now how the hell did you manage to fuck that one up?"

Tayuya sighed as she laid in the middle of the street. Shrugging, and then flinching her eyes shut in slight pain, she mumbled back, "I got distracted."

"By what?" Kankuro taunted with a knowing grin, "See something sweet in the distance?"

"Shut up," she growled with a glare, but that only seemed to provoke him even more.

Kankuro leaned towards me with a small nudge, "You know I've only seen her wipe out this hard doing simple tricks over a girl," he then turned to Tayuya and continued, "And since Karin isn't here this time around, I'm guessing you got a bit preoccupied eyeing someone else?"

A small frown pulled at my lips as I glanced back down at Tayuya, noticing the way she was now burning a hole in Kankuro's head. Kiba then nudged Kankuro hard in the ribs, and with a slight 'umph' in pain he was then dragged away, "Let's go Einstein. Show me what new tricks you managed to learn."

Tayuya sighed out as we were left alone, and with a glance around I realized that everyone didn't seem concerned with her anymore. Except Sasori, who walked over and gave her a grin. Tayuya lifted up her arm straight up and the red head boy slapped his palm against her hand in a high five before saying, "Nice wipe bro, but even nicer moves. Was good into you turned into a scrub."

"Thanks," Tayuya replied simply, taking the awkward compliment with a grin.

Sasori waved her off while walking away, "But you should show board some more love, she was your first after all."

Tayuya sighed as she dropped her arm back to the ground, flinching again in pain. As Sasori left, we were left in silence, the words of Kankuro still sitting heavy between us both. Biting my lip, I tried to push past it, instead I asked a bit quietly, "Are you sure you're alright?"

"Yeah princess, doesn't hurt too bad," she replied in a mumble, eyes careful to avoid mine.

Sighing, I sat back and replied, "You should be careful."

"Yeah I know," she muttered back without moving at all.

My eyes wandered her body, her smoky breath slipping up into the cold winter night sky. Seconds later I caught something red and stated in disapproval, "You're bleeding."

Tayuya blinked and lifted her head, looking down at herself to try to figure out where. Soon enough she realized it was elbow, and with a raise of her eyebrows she said in surprise, "Hm, would you look at that."

Not at all impressed, I shifted to stand up, but she caught my hand. My eyes rose to hers, but she didn't speak right away. Instead she just watched me for a moment, swallowed, and looked away. Sighing, she dropped my hand and sat up as she mumbled, "Tell Gaara to get me the kit from Kankruo's car so I can clean up this cut."

Standing up, I replied, "Sure, alright." But otherwise didn't bother questioning whatever she was obviously struggling to say. Half because I didn't want to know, it was most likely over the trivial comment, but I think we both knew she didn't have to bother. Not because I was too angry about it, even though it was slightly annoying, no I think she knew it didn't matter. Whatever she said wouldn't comfort the minor blow, and it was possibly best to just leave it alone. So she did.

I'm glad we understood each other, at least to an extent.

Finding Gaara wasn't too hard, he always seemed to stick to one place and that was near a comfortable looking tree. Shikamaru was hanging out with him as well, putting out whatever they were smoking as soon as they saw me walking up. I liked that they tried to accommodate for my lack of tolerance to drugs, but I stated so many times before that it hardly mattered. Still they tried their hardest to make me comfortable, and that's what I loved most about the close gang that I knew and loved.

"Um, Tayuya said she needs the kit from Kankuro's car," I informed when I reached them.

Gaara silently got up without a word, but Shikamaru's eyebrows rose in surprise as he asked, "She wiped out?"

"Trying a trick, yeah she fell," I answered, watching as Gaara walked over to the car that wasn't very farm from the tree.

"Huh, that doesn't happen often," Shikamaru mumbled with scratching the back of his head, but otherwise losing interest fairly quickly, "How is your night going, by the way? Like our lame skate session?"

I smiled and taunted, "I absolutely adore this lame skate session of yours"

"That's good," he replied with a small tugging smile, "I figured it was only a matter of time until you were invited to one. Tayuya missing skate sessions sure gets everyone bummed out."

Understanding what he was saying, I simply gave a small laugh and nodded, "Yeah, seeing as so many people know her here. Has it always been like this?"

"Well, for some reason Tayuya seems to pick up tricks faster than the rest of us, but she never shows anything off unless she absolutely has it down. So her bailing is rare, and we only ever get to see how good she's gotten, it makes her a tad bit famous in our small group," he explained as Gaara came walking back up, handing me the small little metal box.

"She is pretty good, even though I don't know half the things she's doing," I agreed, taking the metal box with a smile of thanks to Gaara.

"Just know half the shit she pulls off is pretty mind blowing," Shikamaru replied with a shake of her head, "Fucking insane. She isn't hurt too bad, right?"

"No, just a cut on her elbow I think," I assured.

"Good, nothing a small patch and a quick bowl won't fix," he said with a nod, digging in his pocket and handing me out a small red weird looking object. I blinked but stepped forward to grab it from him, curiously examining it with slight fascination. I had no idea what it was, but I had to admit it looked cool, "Give that to her. She told me to hold on to it for her, but I think she might need it now."

"Ok," I nodded while looking up and giving a small wave, "Catch you guys later."

"See ya," Shikamaru replied with Gaara just rose his eyes in acknowledgement.

I wandered back to where I had left Tayuya, but she wasn't there. Even with a quick glance around, I couldn't spot her in the clump of people that scattered the area. Sighing, I took another look before giving up and just walking over to the curb I had been sitting on before. I figured the best option I had was to keep in one spot and wait, I'm sure she'd make her way back eventually.

For the mere moment I was alone, I took the time to fiddle with my phone. Opening it I saw that Sakura had sent me a quick message on how she won a game of monopoly against her family. Smiling slightly, I congratulated her on being the 'boss' she claimed to be. Just as I was putting my phone up, Kankuro had come to save me from solitude.

"You should come by to our skate sessions for now on so you can make Tayuya bail more often," he joked with a grin while sitting down next to me.

"Or Karin, right?" I tossed out with a small roll of my eyes, "She would work perfectly fine."

"Well Tayuya doesn't bring her around anymore; we haven't seen her in ages. I don't even know if they are still talking to be honest," he replied with mild interest while leaning as his arms propped him up.

Blinking because this was news to me, I asked, "What happened?"

"Not sure," he shrugged, "One day she's here, next she's gone. Tayuya hasn't brought her up, so we don't ask questions. I'm sure Kiba knows the dirty details, but last I heard from her was too long ago for me to even remember."

A small frown pulled at my lips as I wondered what could have possibly been the background to the whole story. With Kankuro's vague information, there was a very real possibility that hardly any of it was true. Still I couldn't help but notice how Karin hadn't popped up in any conversation since the night I caught Tayuya kissing her at that party, and the very short argument about it that following day.

"Anyway, what are you doing with Tayuya's pipe?" Kankruo asked, pulling me from my thoughts.

Coming back to reality, I glanced down at the red blown glass with soft spikes all around it and answered, "Um, is that what it's called? Shikamaru gave it to me to give to Tayuya after hearing about her fall. He said that she'd need it."

"That baby fall and they want her to smoke it off?" He snorted with a roll of his eyes, "She's fine, nothing a little walk couldn't fix."

"Yeah well, she disappeared so I can't even give her this or the metal box," I huffed out with a sigh, throwing my hand out to point at the thing, "Don't know what I'm supposed to do with it now. Might as well take it back to Gaara."

"Nah she'll be back," Kankuro assured as I plopped my chin on my palm, "She just got dragged away by some girl for a second, don't think it'll be too long."

"Some girl?" I asked with a small frown.

"Yeah, one of the crew members," he went on with his eyes fixed on some guy doing a trick, "She's always around, digs skating so hard that she breathes it. I think she saw Tayuya bail and is checking to see if she's alright."

"Oh," I replied, feeling even more annoyed but shoving it deep down within me. Maybe it was always like this, but when the fuck did Tayuya get so fucking popular with so many girls?

"To be honest, I think they went to smoke real quick, that's all," Kankuro chimed into the middle of my thoughts. I glanced over at him to see the small tug at his lips, "I doubt she'll be much longer; didn't even look like she wanted to go, but the group dragged her along."

"Hmm," I hummed in response, my eyes drifting away. Soon after we fell quiet and simply enjoyed each other's company.

I lost track of time, but soon enough Tayuya had managed to make her way to us. Gray beanie on, blue sweater snug, and board in her hand she strolled to a stop in front of us. She had definitely been smoking, I could tell automatically; it wasn't by her features just the smell of it lingered around her. I gave her a look, but she tossed me such a warm smile that the cold air around us seemed nonexistent.

Before anything could be said between us, Kankuro stood up, "Was just telling her on how you got kid napped."

"Yeah," she sighed out with a rub of her neck, "They treated me to a quick bowl though, so I can't complain much."

"Speaking of bowls, she's got your pipe," he mentioned with a jerk of his thumb, "You should be careful when you carry that thing around, isn't it your favorite?"

Tayuya's eyebrows rose at the information, and when I lifted up the glass object in my hand a smile pulled at her lips. Taking a step forward, she grabbed the pipe and said, "Yeah, Komodo is definitely one of my all-time fav smoking equipment."

"Sickest pipe I've ever seen," Kankuro agreed with a nod, "A bowl that looks like fire with dragon spikes? Luckiest score ever."

"Shit you not, I flipped when I found it," Tayuya laughed.

"Lucky fucker," he said with a light punch of her arm, "Anyway bro, I'm going to try some tricks of my own. Down with keeping Ino company?"

"It's why I came," she answered while waving him off and placing her board on the ground, "Absolutely done with being social for today."

"Cool," he replied, his eyes slipping to mine as he gave me a smile, "Ready to see how cool I can be?"

Giving him a smile in return, I entertained him with a nod and taunting tone, "I hope you don't wipe out."

"Unlike Tayuya, I don't bail when a cute girl is around," he joked with a charming wink, "Keep your eyes on me Kitkat, I just might steal your heart with my moves."

Laughing, I rolled my eyes, "Sure, alright."

Giving a grin, he bent down to grab his board and walked off without another word. Smile still on my face over his childish antics, I merely shook my head and watched him go. As he went, Tayuya sat beside me, obvious distaste on her features. Legs up and bent in front of her, she rested her elbows on her knees as she watched Kankuro get further and further away.

For a moment she didn't speak, but then with a grumble said, "He seriously thinks he can score whatever girl he wants."

Shrugging, I responded, "Last I heard he said he couldn't find a girlfriend, so he sticks with me instead."

Frowning even more, she mumbled, "That shit isn't ok."

A bit amused by her behavior, I asked, "And why not?"

"Because false hope over something that obviously isn't his is pretty unhealthy, I should know," she answered with a bit of a bite in her tone.

Small frown pulling at my lips, I pointed out, "But I'm not owned by anyone; practically makes me free and fair game… for Kankuro, right?"

"I can name a couple of ways on how absolutely tied down you are to very certain person," she muttered while looking ahead, eyes wandering the street and all the skaters flipping their boards, "There is no fair game anymore. At this point, if he wants you, he'll have to take you by force. And the whole world will call cheats, but does it matter if he gets what he's been dying for?..."

My heart sunk a little and my pulse picked up its pace. Minding reeling, I wondered if this was double meaning or was she truly speaking about Kankuro and how badly he wanted me. I thought about his smile, the way he joked and always lingered about- it wouldn't be such a far off statement to say that he really did wish I was his. Still, the slight downward pull at her lips and the solemn look in her eyes- it made me question what she was really speaking of.

Before I could say anything though, she held out her hand and gave me the pipe she named Komodo. I took it with a curious look, but she merely said, "Hold on to that for me."

Blinking in surprise, I held it in my open palm and asked, "But isn't this important to you?"

"Yeah, actually it is," she nodded, but then glanced over at me and gave me a small smile, "That's why I'm asking you to hold it. I trust you to keep it safe rather than me keeping it in my pocket. I always tend to drop and break shit when my board is nearby."

Returning her smile with a weak one of my own, I carefully put the pipe in my jacket and said nothing further. For a while we merely sat in silence, and stayed that way while watching Kankuro did tricks on his board.

The whole time though, I thought about Tayuya and her words.

(1) - Same songs because for some reason Ive been stuck on them for a bit. Idk, I just love the feel and sound of em. I feel like they are the sound track of the mood in these past chapters. Just mellow, floating, all the while turning the wheels of your mind.

There is so much going on, both in this story and my life. Shit I feel rushed, half the time I dont know if I should be sitting on a chapter or just writing what comes up in my head. Either way, here's chapter 48.

Ah Tayuya, I feel like you're floating the most. Some of her actions and words makes me wonder if she's thinking about that kiss as well. And about Ino, and how oh so very mind fucked she is right now. Shit the feels are even starting to get to ME, but maybe its because my head is spinning with ideas of what will happen next.

Read review, tell me what you think. I'm sorry its not as long as I promised, but I finished this yesterday, and with how the scene ended, I didn't know where to go from there. Instead of sitting on the chapter, I figured I'd just post and write up whatever comes up.

Love you guys. Get ready for the new year! Life is fucking crazy, 2014 is such an off the wall number.

Lets get shit done together next year, alright?

Shycadet loves. Out.