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Title: The Art of War
Author: Makoto Sagara
Series: Naruto
Archive: the usual suspects; anywhere else, please ask first
Category: drabble, angst
Rating: PG
Characters/Pairings: Shikamaru, Itachi
Warnings: angst, slight humour, ooc, twt
Disclaimers: I don’t own Naruto. No money is made from this piece of fanfiction or copyright infringement intended.
Words: 502
Prompt: Naruto: Shikamaru/Itachi- There were prisoners and there were puzzles. Somehow, he was both.
Author’s Note: Thank you, Skeren, for yet another list of prompts that my muses won’t leave alone. I’m going to stop asking you one day.

~ * * * ~

When he’d been assigned to watch over the latest batch of prisoners, Nara Shikamaru did it very reluctantly. Guard duty was boring. It was time he could have spent doing other things. But, when Tsunade-sama gave him that assignment, he had to do it. He dragged himself down to the holding area and looked over his charges with a sharp eye.

However, he was unexpected.

“Uchiha Itachi,” Shikamaru said slowly, watching the captive. The notorious missing nin only stared at him with those eerie Sharingan-red eyes, looking dead while alive. Of course, perhaps what he’d heard—that Uchiha Itachi had been revived from death by Yakushi Kabuto and had helped Naruto during some parts of the battle—were actually true, but if that was the case, why was he a prisoner now?

No matter how he tried to get the other man to talk to him, nothing seemed to work. The older brother of Sasuke only stared ahead, lifeless and unmoving. Normally, Shikamaru wouldn’t have really minded. A prisoner who acted as a doll would have been great. He could have found a spot to nap in while keeping an ear out for any trouble. However, nothing about this was normal and he couldn’t shake off the feeling that Itachi should be more active than this.

The first day passed by uneventfully, and when Shikamaru was assigned to the prisoners the next day, he took his Shoji board with the idea that he could at least do something entertaining while bored out of his mind. He had just taken up a seat with his board between him and the bars of the cage. When the tiles were set out and he was ready to start his one-sided battle, a slender, pale arm reached out and moved a piece on the opposite side, forcing him to think about his own opening move.

By the time his relief showed up, Shikamaru and Itachi had played five games, with him barely winning the last of them. Choji had only giving him a confused look at the board as Shikamaru gathered it up. He didn’t answer the unasked question from his teammate.

For the rest of the week that Shikamaru was assigned guard duty, he always had his Shoji board with him. Really, Itachi was turning out to be the only person who could even pose much of competition with him. However, he had yet to say one word or look anything but half-dead.

When he found out that Naruto had taken up guard duty after him, he was almost disappointed. Between his rounds he snuck down to the holding area, and heard Naruto speaking with someone with a deep, resonate voice. He came closer and was hurt to see that Itachi was conversing with Naruto as if they were old friends.

Perhaps he was never meant to understand everything in the universe, but the Uchiha clan was one that he was destined to be stumped by. He guessed there were more important things to do.

June 2015

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