Rating: PG-13. Nothing contrary to laws, morals, good customs, public order, or public policy. All except shounen-ai.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, in matter or in form.


Monochrome Squares

by F. Montserrat

Kakashi munched his fish crackers as he pondered his next move, drumming his fingers in contemplation. The man opposite him couldn't have been a grandmaster, he could only hope.

The jounin rested his finger on top of a pointed statuette, then hesitated. Nope, that wouldn't do. Darn it, make up your mind, Kakashi.

He has had some difficulty, having been given himself only a few days of practice. And with 'funeral music' rattling his ears, he swore he'd strangle the next person to piss him off. He darted the black piece onto the fourth tile. You're going down this time, Iruka, you hear me!

He felt relieved. The chuunin didn't do anything yet to harm the prized rook of his. Iruka nonchalantly sipped the hibiscus tisane. How he envied him.

The jounin wondered how on earth he had been dragged into this. A game without any use of jutsu wasn't any fun at all. Blame it on the man who posted the challenge. Mental note: Never let your guard down, especially when it concerns a pony-tailed fellow with scar across his nose. He had to admit he had a certain weak spot for this man when he blushed. He remembered being invited one afternoon for tea and a quiet game of chess. The next thing he knew, he was dragging himself onto Iruka's doorstep, like some mindless zombie.

Anyway, he had plenty of reasons to make merry. Notice how he held five wooden pieces more than the other. He smirked. He certainly had an advantage. But winning the game relied not on mere quantity. As Yondaime once said, the art of war is the art of deception.

The scarred man retreated his white stallion away from the front line. Then he excused himself. It was apparent that the phonograph echoed its last pianissimo. Iruka replaced the disc with another, until rich sounds of a stringed instrument found their way into his ears.

"Like that one?" asked the raven-haired sensei. No. Kakashi could bring himself to say it. Then again, maybe he'd pardon this one. It somehow soothed his nerves, unlike the previous one which nauseated him with discordant sounds of the orchestra.

He nodded. "What's it called?"

"Suite in D minor for unaccompanied cello." The brunette chuckled at the other peering naively at him. "Your turn, Kakashi," reminded him.

The Copy Ninja's mind sank in deep thought. It was not until his inner Archimedes cried a heartpounding euruka! Now why didn't I think of that. He substituted Iruka's white queen with his own grand executioner. I think I'll call this move "The Assasination of His Majesty". He seemed amused.

Somehow, it didn't affect the chuunin to the least. How was it that he still kept his cool when he lost a valuable chess piece? And the more Iruka breathed at a moderate pace, the more the jounin cursed his silence.

Again, Iruka caused his 'shinobi' to retreat, this time a bishop taking three steps back.

Kakashi smirked, placing his queen within the enemy's range. "You're letting me win, are you? Check!" His uncovered eye glinted the unrealized triumph.

The jounin decided to perform Kage Bushin until tiny clones of him, about a size of a thumb, marched across the tiled chessboard. "Charge..." they squeaked. He certainly had a peculiar sense of humor.

But the triumph would be short-lived.

"Guess again, Kakashi." The chuunin smiled, shoving a lowly pawn into position. "Checkmate."

"A#$&"

Kakashi stared dumbfounded. It was bad enough that he lost for the sixth time, and even worse that he hadn't worn his mask to cover the humiliation. It just wasn't his day.

"What the...how did you...?"

"It was easy. And besides, you weren't paying attention, sempai." The chuunin need not remind him of that. Kakashi perfectly knew that he was. Iruka laughed.

But as he took away the wooden pieces that littered the chessboard, he paused curiously, a gloved hand cupping his fingers. Kakashi took it into his lips and sealed the young man's knuckles with a kiss.

"Ka-ka..." Iruka could only stutter, his cheeks swelling in slight embarrassment.

"I think I win this time." Kakashi smiled. "Checkmate."