Title: Checkmate
Author: desolate butterfly
Genre: Gen, drabble
Pairings: ShikaAnko, ShikaTem, implied NaruSakuSasu
Rating: PG -13
Summary: Shikamaru, shogi, and the many playing fields of Leaf.


Shikamaru has played shogi with every ninja in Konoha.

He played with Chouji, who, when they were both seven, once swallowed the rook piece and had to be seen by a medic-nin. Chouji claimed he had eaten it because it was shaped like a potato chip, but really it was because Ino had dared him to and no one wanted to rat on her. They all knew what happened when Ino didn't get her way.

Shikamaru played with Ino, but it wasn't worth the trouble to lay out the pieces because she never cared, either way, where they went, and half the game was always spent dodging nosey questions Shikamaru didn't feel like answering.

He'd spent a few years routinely beating his father, and Ino's father, and Asuma, until they started to get tired of losing and found other things to do with their time. When he was made jounin he played a couple games with Kakashi. The copy-nin had played one game with him and lost, and then Shikamaru was never able to beat him again.

Shikamaru claimed that the use of the Sharingan to copy shogi moves was cheating, but he could never quite catch Kakashi at it and soon he gave up trying.

On the day Shikamaru completed his first Anbu mission he'd played with Anko, for shots of sake, and they both ended up sore and naked the next morning, wrapped around each other near the front hallwayin Anko's house. Shikamaru remembered almost nothing of that night, but the splitting headache the next morning and the imprint of the bishop's piece on his left buttock gave him more of a clue than he needed.

Now whenever he sees Anko in the street she leers at him and asks him how his game is, and Shikamaru can't quite keep an irritating blush from his face, no matter how hard he scowls.

He'd spent almost an entire summer trying to teach Naruto how to play, but had to give up. The blond never understood the concept of abandoning the lost pieces to their fate and keep on attacking, despite their loss. Naruto claimed it was stupid to give up. Shikamaru tired of trying to explain to him that it wasn't so much "giving up" as it was giving a partial advantage to an enemy in order to make up ground later.

Naruto never liked the word "later".

Shikamaru had played with Neji, and lost as much as he won. He played against Lee and won, and had to watch the other man perform a ridiculous amount of push ups on one finger to make up for his loss. Shikamaru played TenTen in several matches while they waited for Lee to finish.

When Shikamaru broke his wrist and bruised three ribs he ended up in the hospital and persuaded Sakura to play with him, to stave off boredom. The games were always interrupted by sucking chest wounds, punctured femoral arteries, and other numerous emergencies that called the pink-haired girl's attention away. When that happened, Shikamaru finished the game by himself and it always ended up in a draw.

He only played with Sasuke once.

It was right after the Uchiha had been dragged back to Konoha, still wet with his brother's blood. Shikamaru had been assigned guard duty at the prison while Tsunade and Kakashi pleaded Sasuke's case in front of the Council. Sakura had taken Naruto back to the hospital to rest, as he had refused to leave Sasuke earlier, and the dark-haired man sat in the corner of his cell staring at his hands.

Shikamaru hadn't been sure what Sasuke kept seeing on those white palms (perhaps the blood that Sakura had wiped off with her skirt) but he thought it might be helpful to fill them with shogi pieces to pass the time.

Playing Sasuke was a bit like playing Kakashi, only Sasuke moved much more relentlessly, giving up every knight, every pawn, and every lance to get to Shikamaru's king. It was a brutal assault, but Sasuke ended up losing anyway. Shikamaru had to remind him that perpetual check was a forbidden move. Sasuke only stared dully at him in response and Shikamaru shivered and felt a strange sympathy for this man who had continually put his team mates in danger.

He wondered just how much Sasuke had given up, only to find out that he would always lose in the end.

The one time Shikamaru had challenged Temari to a match, she had quirked an eyebrow at the board and told him that those weren't the kinds of games she liked to play. When Shikamaru had, rather peevishly, asked what games she did like to play, she promptly pushed him to the floor and straddled his hips.

As she spread him out on the board and unfastened his pants, Shikamaru reflected that he rather liked Temari's version of shogi.

It was a game in which they both won in the end.