Shikamaru no Go
Nara Shikamaru fiddled at the shougi board in front of him. His mother was shopping, but he had been able to get her to leave him at the public park for the time being. More like he asked and she relented. Putting effort into convincing his mother was too troublesome.
Anyway, she had pointed out the other kids playing games, but he wasn't particularly interested in that right now. He gazed down again. The park had a couple of tables with old men playing shougi. His father had always beaten him in the father-son bonding matches they played. Maybe he should think up a couple of strategies, see if he could find some way to get one over him.
A shadow fell across the board, and he looked up slowly. A tall, bearded man was gazing down.
"You play shougi, kid?"
Shikamaru's eyes narrowed. Most ten year olds didn't play strategy games, true, but why else would he sit in front of one? He nudged the board questioningly towards him.
The man took a seat across him. "Do you mind?"
Shikamaru shrugged apathetically. It wasn't like he'd come across the random stranger again. A game would be nice.
More than an hour later Shikamaru stretched. His mother should be done by now. The laidback man that was his opponent was staring slack-jawed at the shougi board. If he thought this was a challenge, heaven help him if he went against Nara Shikaku. Now he was a great shougi player.
He could see his mother motioning to him with plastic bags in her hands.
"Thanks for the game," he murmured as he stood and ran to his mother, hands shoved in his pockets.
Maybe I can watch clouds for a while he thought to himself.
Sarutobi Asuma wasn't sure what to expect when he sat himself in front of the shougi board. He had been killing time after he left one of his usual salons, when he caught sight of the kid. Brown hair in a spiky ponytail, and black eyes staring at the board.
Somehow he found himself in a game with a ten year old. And he was losing.
This child had some mannerisms akin to that of an old man, taking things slowly. Most kids were energetic balls of mischief, like Konohamaru, Asuma's young nephew, not the lazy youth in front of him that hadn't spoken much.
He gazed, calculating, at the younger boy, and promptly created a tricky little problem. He then sat back, waiting to see how he would react.
The boy stared at it for a while, frowning slightly, and then pressed the tips of his fingers together, holding his hands in a position in front of him and closing his eyes in concentration.
Asuma just watched on for a while, perplexed at the action, until the boy opened his eyes. This time they were dead serious, and the game picked up rather dramatically, and with a series of moves he proceeded to capture pieces and use them with devastating effect.
He didn't know how long he stared down in shock at the board, his mind comprehending just what had taken place before him. His ego was a bit bruised too, he had to admit. While he wasn't a pro at strategy games, he was no novice. He had competed in amateur tournaments before, though it was more for fun.
When he finally snapped out of his funk, the kid had already run off. He didn't even have a name. When he realised the missed opportunity, he had looked down at the game again. It was a great game, but he had been outclassed.
Who the hell was this kid?
Yuuhi Kurenai sighed as she readied herself for the meeting. It probably wouldn't be the first time she had had a word with a family, but she was one of the teachers delegated with the task this time around.
Normally Iruka would be handling this, being in charge of Shikamaru's year group, but he was sick today.
"Kurenai?" a female voice interrupted her thoughts.
She looked up and saw Nara Shikaku and Yoshino. They had talked a few times, enough that Kurenai was comfortable in their presence, and had struck up a friendship of sorts with Shikamaru's mother.
"Sorry, Iruka's sick today, but he didn't want to cancel the talk. He asked me to fill in for him," she admitted sheepishly.
Shikamaru's complaints painted Yoshino as a nagging, formidable woman. He definitely took after his father – they both shared that calm, laidback demeanour, as well as the black eyes and hairstyle.
"We know Shikamaru has never been the most…motivated of students," Shikaku spoke calmly, as he began a conversation that wasn't the first of its kind.
Yoshino glared at him. "We know whose side of the family he got that from!" she declared. Shikaku might have flinched, Kurenai wasn't sure.
"Well, the motivational part is true. His grades are the lowest of his class, almost failing, and barely average in other subjects. I'm worried that when he goes to high school it'll be too late for him to learn to persevere in his studies." Kurenai flipped through the papers. "Shikamaru's best results are in Japanese and literature, and aside from lack of effort he does very well. If he applies himself, I'm sure he'd do better."
"Well…my son did show some interest in writing, I suppose," Yoshino remarked.
"I see." Kurenai looked up at Shikamaru's parents. "He falls asleep in class, but you've told me before that it's quite normal, so it's not from lack of sleep. It was Iruka's idea that if you can find something he is genuinely interested in, maybe you can encourage him to work harder."
"If that's the case, maybe some shougi games could help, seeing as how it's one of the few things Shikamaru actually does," Yoshino said to her husband.
"Shougi?" asked Kurenai. She hadn't known that the boy was interested in games like that.
"It's worth a try. Shikamaru wasn't really one for physical effort, so I tried to develop his intellect and strategic thinking by teaching him shougi. He picked the rules up very quickly, but he hasn't really shown much effort in other aspects like schoolwork," Shikaku answered.
Well, aside from running away from something, then track is always an option, if Yoshino nags enough… he thought to himself.
Kurenai pursed her lips in thought.
"If he enjoys shougi, maybe I can introduce him to Asuma. He's a friend of mine that enjoys strategy games – he's entered a couple of amateur tournaments in shougi and go before. Maybe he can introduce Shikamaru to some children tournaments, make him a bit more competitive and motivated."
Yoshino sighed in exasperation. "If he can get Shikamaru to work, then it's all the better. I can't nag him all the time."
"If you trust the man and think it's worth a shot, why not?" Shikaku said. If it made Yoshino happy, and it had to do with shougi…
Asuma let out a trail of smoke, and then crushed the cigarette. He ambled through the deserted corridors; Kurenai should be finishing up soon.
He smirked. Kurenai was talking to a couple in one of the classrooms. The wife was a headstrong woman, if her gestures and sharp tone was anything to go by. But the man was awfully familiar.
Eyes widening, he spun in the direction of the opposite classroom room, where kids were often kept while their parents and teachers talked without any sugar-coating in similar circumstances. He focused on a spiky ponytailed head resting on the table.
It was a hell of a coincidence.
"Asuma?" Evidently, Kurenai had finished up.
He shrugged. "I came early, so I thought I'd wait for you." He turned to the kid's parents. "Nice to meet you. I'm Sarutobi Asuma."
"We were just talking about you actually," the man continued. "I'm Nara Shikaku, and this is my wife Yoshino. Kurenai was just telling us that you play shougi; maybe you can have a match with my son. I've been playing shougi with him for about three years now."
The kid had been playing since he was seven?
"Actually, there's no need. I played a game of shougi with him just last week at the park. I was defeated too."
While Kurenai and Yoshino blinked at the unexpected news to the impromptu shougi game, Shikaku just smiled. He then knocked on the wooden frame of the door.
"Shikamaru, you can wake up now."
The kid stirred and raised his head from the desk, stretching slightly. When he noticed the four adults loitering in the corridor, and focused on Asuma, he gained a 'deer in the headlight' kind of look. Asuma suppressed a smirk and raised a hand in greeting. "Hey."
"Shikamaru, this is Sarutobi Asuma. Apparently you played shougi with him." Yoshino had a slight glint in her eye that meant trouble.
Shikamaru groaned inwardly. So much for not seeing him again, eh? What a drag.
While he looked laidback and reserved, inside Asuma was grinning. He knew a few places where Shikamaru could play against a whole bunch of opponents – the old geezers were always complaining about today's youth; lets see how they take to a ten year old wiping the floor with them.
Who knows, maybe he could even introduce Nara Shikamaru to Go…
Well, my first attempt at a fanfiction. My main concern is that the idea is ok, but the writing is terrible, in which nothing can really be done except practice on my writing style. Don't be surprised if I tweak things around though – I can just feel glaring plot holes ahead…
My knowledge of Hikaru no Go isn't very good, as well as my understanding of shougi or Go, and I apologise in advance. Things will probably be a bit OOC, but I'll go with the flow for now.
Many thanks to all who review, as well as my friend etowa-ru, whose encouragement and persistence paid off in the end. Cheers!