AN: So. This is another one of those tackle-POUNCE fics - you know, the ones that just grab on and won't let you go until you write 'em? Yeah. Fun stuff. At any rate, this was spawned shortly after reading up on shougi. Beware the metaphors. And don't step in the death, it's still sticky.

"You can't hide forever, you know."

Shikamaru closes his eyes and controls his breathing, pressed flush up against a tree. There's blood oozing steadily down his leg, and his hair is a little more frazzled than usual from a too-damn-close chidori.

The voice is getting closer. Not for the first time that day, Shikamaru is glad he's only (only? Ha!) up against a sharingan, and not a byakugan.

"I know you haven't run away," Sasuke continues, voice carrying eerily through the quiet woods. "I thought you were good at running away."

Shikamaru tilts his head a little, trying to tell exactly where the Uchiha is. Impossible to pinpoint him, but if he can just get an approximate direction or something…

Tell-tale chirping, and he surges to his feet, catching a branch and swinging himself up as Sasuke buries the lightning jutsu in the tree-trunk.

And then fuck, the tree's falling!

He makes a desperate leap and manages to make it clear of the mess. Unfortunately, this also puts him almost nose to nose with Sasuke, and he drops and rolls to avoid the characteristic Uchiha fireball, wondering just how crazy Sasuke's gotten, to blow a fireball in heavy forest, in the middle of summer.

There's uncomfortable heat across his back and an extremely unwelcome crackling noise. His flak vest is on fire.

With a somewhat embarrassing yelp, he flips over onto his back and smothers the flames.

And then there's a kunai at his throat. Sasuke is standing over him, triumphant. Shikamaru sighs. Resigns himself to the inevitable. Tilts his chin up a little, because it'll hurt a lot more if Uchiha somehow manages to botch this.

"Why didn't you run?" Sasuke asks, tilting his head. "I might not have bothered to go after you."

Shikamaru dredges up a tired smile. "You play shougi, Sasuke?" he asks, finding a loop of twine in his weaponspouch with singed fingertips, carefully winding a finger around it.

Sasuke frowns at him, shakes his head. "It doesn't matter anyway," he says quietly, adjusting his grip on the kunai slightly in preparation for the kill.

Shikamaru has slit his fair share of throats over the years since becoming a ninja. And he's had more than his fair share of sharp pointies leveled at his throat. No matter how well-trained the ninja, no matter the consequences lying in the balance, there's always a moment of hesitation.

He times it carefully, and takes a certain amount of vicious satisfaction in the look on Uchiha Sasuke's face as Shikamaru's elbow takes him solidly in the nose.

Sasuke is one of the strongest opponents Shikamaru's ever had to go up against. The kunai manages to draw a long line of blood from his throat, stinging painfully but not deep enough to kill.

He continues his upward lunge, yanking the flash grenade from his weaponspouch by the twine loop, catching the pin between his teeth and shoving the flashbang into Sasuke's face.


He squeezes his eyes shut, lets go. Feels himself fall and brings his hands together. The shadows surge forward in the sudden light, and he winds them tightly around his opponent.

They strike the ground together, falls uncontrolled, hard enough on Shikamaru's burned back to make him gasp a little in pain.

Sasuke is one of the strongest opponents Shikamaru's ever gone up against, but he's far from the smartest.

He relaxes his hands from the final seal of the kagemane (he's too low on chakra to use anything more deadly) and turns to look at Sasuke. Face down in the dirt as he is, the movement and the kagemane drag Sasuke's face forcibly through the leafmold.

Shikamaru smiles a little. He's broken Uchiha Sasuke's nose. He can die happy now.

"Don't you know, Sasuke," he says, reaching a hand down to his own kunai holster, closing burned fingers around cool metal, "in shougi, each piece has moves it can and cannot make." He draws the weapon back up, watching as Sasuke (resisting all the way) does the same. He eyes the kunai in his enemy's hand. It looks sharp.

Sasuke is a mess, all covered in blood and dirt and soot, teeth bared in a grimace, shaking with the effort it takes to resist Shikamaru's jutsu as much as he's able.

"You, I think, are a lance, a kyousha," Shikamaru says, testing the sharpness of his own weapon on his thumb and smiling in satisfaction at the ease with which it parts the skin. A glance at Sasuke confirms that the other shinobi keeps his weapons with the same fastidiousness Shikamaru remembers.

Good. This should proceed smoothly.

"You move in one direction, and one direction only," he goes on, looking up at the sky. "You allow nothing to get in your way." It's a pity that the day is so gray and overcast, he thinks. "I am somewhat jealous, Sasuke. I am only a pawn."

Then he looks over at his temporary captive again and smiles a little lopsided smile. "But you know something about pawns, Uchiha Sasuke?" A quick movement, and the kunai is pressed to his own throat. Black eyes widen as Shikamaru's intent sinks in and Sasuke opens his mouth to say something.

"Pawns can't retreat," Shikamaru says, and slits his last throat.

Endnotes: I'm aware that you can resist - and even break - the kagemane, if you hit level two on the curse seal. Sasuke never did. He underestimated the opposition, because he's smart like that. And probably didn't know that you could break it - the only person who found out is buried under several tons of shattered trees.