Tee Off

Summary: AU. Shikamaru has to suck up to Ino's father in a game of golf if he ever hopes to have a harmless relationship with her.

Shikamaru sighed as he watched another one of his golf balls soar against the blue sky. He lost it quickly, as others got in the way. That was the typical habit of the driving range, you couldn't always catch the exact distance you gain in a shot, but you always see enough to make it count.

It was a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon; the perfect day to be taking a nice nap outside on his favorite hill, watching the clouds floating by. But instead, he had to spend it outside in an uncomfortable polo shirt, hacking away golf balls with his girlfriend's father. It was a necessary evil, impressing her father by playing his favorite sport with him, but he really would have preferred to stay home.

Speaking of polo shirts, Shikamaru pulled at his collar to air it out. It was the most uncomfortable thing he'd ever worn; he didn't know how all these people could stand it. Who was the wise guy who decided you had to wear a Polo to play golf? What was wrong with a plain t-shirt?

It was his father's idea. The day Shikamaru broke the news to him he was dating Yamanaka Ino, his father turned around to face him in that large armchair of his in the study (Shikamaru always swore that he constantly expected his father to suddenly appear as a sinister villain, softly stroking a cat in his lap and smiling evilly). He raised an eyebrow, laughed, and asked how Shikamaru planned to jump the obstacle of her father, Inoichi. Shikamaru had shrugged, saying he didn't know and didn't care, but his father told him otherwise. The second Inoichi knew his daughter was dating the Nara boy he'd be out to kill him instantly. The best and quickest way to get on his good side and prevent certain death was to play a game of golf, eighteen holes, at the country club.

Shikamaru didn't know what was with rich people and golf. Inoichi was the CEO of some major jewelry company (or something expensive like that). He played golf all the time. Shikato was the head of medical corporation, and was Inoichi's best friend since grade school. He played golf occasionally with him, when Inoichi proved to be annoying to ignore when it came to invitations. But when Shikamaru asked if Shikato would accompany him to his certain doom that Sunday, Shikato refused and said there was no way in hell he was golfing with Inoichi if it could be helped; that man was a golf guru. Honestly, Shikamaru couldn't even see either of them ever playing golf in their lives. They were both tall, muscular, and looked like they had been in gangs in their teenage years. In fact, judging by the scars on Shikato's face, he probably had, but that was an entirely different story.

When Shikamaru passed on to Ino that he wanted her to tell her father he'd like to play golf with him earlier in the week, she stared up at him in disbelief, then proceeded to ask if he was feeling sickly and compared his forehead temperature to her own. He wasn't feverish, it seemed, and Ino asked why he would ever want to play golf with him.

"To be able to spend more time with you, since I know your father will oppose our relationship," he had said, smiling genuinely and instantly sweeping her off her feet. Score one for Nara.

Shikato had obliged, at least, to teach Shikamaru how to play golf and train him well enough to at least not be killed by Inoichi. "Once you learn the basics, you'll be good in no time. You're a sharp kid, you'll be fine," he had said. Shikamaru did catch on quickly, and supposed he could face up to Inoichi well enough to not be ridiculed. Ino still worried about him, however, and promised to be there with him the day he golfed with her father.

He hit another ball across the golf course, making great distance. Maybe this day wouldn't be too terrible, but he couldn't be sure.

"Shikamaru!"

He turned his head and smiled at the approaching beauty, clad in purple. "Hey Ino," he spread his arms and embraced her in a tight hug, and she giggled in reply.

"How do you like my new golfing outfit? Daddy just bought it for me yesterday." She stepped a foot away and spun around once, letting her short skirt billow in the wind. When he looked at her, he thought her polo looked a hell of a lot more comfortable than the one he had borrowed from his father for the day.

"Very… purple."

"Haha, thank you." She slapped his arm teasingly, then looked out into the range, "Hitting them hard?"

"Hard as I can." He sighed and readied another ball on the tee, "Where's your father?"

"Getting a golf cart. He said he'd meet us here."

"Joy." He whacked the next ball and beat his last distance by a good fifty feet at least.

"You're a lot better at this than I thought, Shikamaru," She grinned, "Better than me, at least."

Shikamaru smiled lopsidedly, "And you're second only to your father, right?"

"No. I'm average."

He sighed, but laughed, "Well, that's one step accomplished."

She managed a smile, "Look, just make sure at least you score at par, and not so much about beating him. He's tough, but he'll at least give you some respect for being competent."

A high-pitched beeping sounded behind them, and they both twirled around to see Inoichi driving up in the golf cart, swerving around numerous people, trash cans, and other golf carts to get to them. He came to an abrupt halt about a yard from their feet and parked, "Ready to tee off, kids?"

"I forgot to mention," Ino said, pointing out the two-seated golf cart that likewise only held two golf club bags, "You have to walk and carry your own bag."

"Yeah." He sighed, shoved his driver in his bag and swung it over his shoulder, "I figured as much."

"Hole one! Ino, dear would you like to tee off at the reds as always?"

"No, Daddy," she smiled sweetly, "I'm teeing off at the whites today."

"'Atta girl." He grinned at her and parked the car next to the tee. Shikamaru trudged on behind them a little ways off and caught up only a few seconds later. Inoichi waited smugly by the cart as Shikamaru reached them and put down his golf bag, rubbing a hand against lazy eyes as was custom. "Would you like to go first, Shikamaru?"

"Er…" Shikamaru's eyes darted to Ino, who looked back at him sweetly, her driver already clutched in her hands, "No, sir. I thought I'd let Ino go. Ladies first, after all."

Inoichi stared him down sternly, as if judging him, making Shikamaru feel like a measly ant at the foot of an elephant. After a split second of awkward silence (which felt like an eternity, of course), Inoichi flipped his gaze over to Ino, "Is that okay with you honey?"

"That's fine!" She smiled, both to Shikamaru and to Inoichi. Inoichi nodded.

Shikamaru sighed in relief, Good going.

Ino grabbed a golf ball out of the pocket of her bag at once. She hopped along up the hill and prepared to tee off. She took quite a few practice swings, leaving Inoichi and Shikamaru standing side-by-side by the cart, which caused time to pass by excruciatingly long for Shikamaru. Why did she have to leave him here beside a man who was probably plotting his demise right then and there?

Or maybe he was just overreacting. Time finally sped back up when she whacked the golf ball across the green. He didn't bother to note the exact place it landed; he was too nervous about his own turn.

"Good shot honey!" Inoichi clapped his hands together and grinned widely. Ino beamed at him and pulled her tee out of the ground, then hopped back over to the cart. Inoichi smile instantly dropped and he looked expectantly over to Shikamaru, "Your turn."

He gulped and grabbed is driver and a golf ball. Here, he was in a predicament. When practicing with his father he teed off at the whites, but Inoichi probably expected more from him, a lot more. He would have to push it a few feet and go for the blacks.

He placed his tee in the ground at the black posts and looked over to Ino. She smiled and mouthed him a Good Luck. He quickly glanced at Inoichi, whose arms were crossed in impatience.

As Shikamaru readied his golf ball and took a few practice swings, his brain got to work. He considered the length of the hole, the shape of the green, where it curved, where the sand dunes were, everything. Math equations started to stream through his head as he angled himself correctly with the tee and prepared to swing. He needed only just the right amount of power…

Swoosh!

The golf ball soared through the air, down towards the hole behind the trees that the fairway curved around. It hit the ground just past a water hazard and rolled its way to a stop about twenty feet from the putting green. He grinned; pretty good for a Par 3 hole.

Inoichi watched the area where the ball disappeared for a moment. Shikamaru grinded his teeth together and hoped he wasn't about to criticize him for poor workmanship, or something. However, after another eternity of waiting, Inoichi nodded and said "Good shot."

Shikamaru let out a great sigh of relief and retreated to his bag.

Inoichi's time shooting went surprisingly fast compared to the rest of that hole so far. He made it about has far as Shikamaru had, perhaps even five feet less. The Nara boy didn't dare stand closer than three feet to his girlfriend as they waited, though, due to his fear.

Inoichi smiled smugly as he returned to the cart and put away his driver, and then looked to Shikamaru with a raised brow, "Not already off to your golf ball, Nara? You have a ways to walk, you know."

Shit, he growled, grabbing his bag and starting off as quickly as he could before the cart was started (Ino took her sweet, sweet time getting into the cart to try and help him out, thankfully), he's right.

Hole 18. As exciting as it was to be almost done, it wasn't at all settling to think about.

Shikamaru had done what Ino had told him too: He kept his score at least at par. However, he was just so close to beating Inoichi, and wasn't quite sure what the outcome would be if he did. If Inoichi scored par on this last hole, and Shikamaru got a birdie or better, he would win. But if he did win, would Inoichi respect him or just want to tear his head off for showing him up? It was a horrible predicament to be in; not even Ino could figure out how to see behind her father's mask and make a suggestion.

Shikamaru would just have to try and forget the score and golf his best.

"Look," Ino smiled as they walked down the fairway to the putting green. Inoichi was driving the cart up on the sidewalk that ran alongside them, "I'm sure it will be all right. He's warmed up to you, hasn't he? I mean, he's not scowling anymore. I saw him smile at you, too."

"Yeah, right." Shikamaru was sure that smile was because he had screwed up and gotten his ball landed in the sand dunes. However, it was true; Inoichi seemed to be less… horrifying now. He had offered even to squeeze Shikamaru's golf bag in with his and Ino's on the back of the cart once Shikamaru lagged behind too much. Now he just had to walk everywhere.

But the looming final score was still too much to bear: Ino's father obviously didn't want Shikamaru to know how he was judging him in this game, and wore the most concealing mask ever. The only choice was to play as well as he could.

"It's time to putt," Ino grinned, and pecked a kiss on her boyfriend's cheek quickly while her father wasn't looking, "Good luck." She turned and went to retrieve her putter.

Shikamaru smiled smugly and followed her to get his own club. As long as she was there, supporting him, wanting him to be with her, it would all surely work out. Inoichi couldn't said no to his one and only daughter, no matter how he felt about her boyfriend. Ino loved Shikamaru, and he loved her back. That was that.

"I did it!" Shikamaru looked up to see what Ino was squealing about; her father was laughing beside her on the green, holding the flag pole, and she had bent over to grab her golf ball from the hole. She quickly grabbed it and turned to wave it at Shikamaru, "I scored par on this hole!"

"Good job, sweetie!" Inoichi laughed again. Ino grinned and took the flag pole from him so he could write her score down on the score card, "And you've scored only just over par. You're getting better! Just like your old man."

Ino smiled sweetly at him again and laughed brightly. Shikamaru sighed. Who needed the sun when you had her brilliant smile to lighten up the world?

"Shikamaru, it's your turn." Inoichi said simply. There was hardly any expression on his face, save for a lingering laugh from just before. What did this man want from him?

Shikamaru approached his golf ball on the green and analyzed the shot. He could easily make this on one go and win the game. But what would the scary Yamanaka man across the green say? He looked at Inoichi's face, and then to Ino, hoping for one final hint. Both just watched him, waiting.

He took a deep breath, exhaled, and allowed his mind to go to work. Shikamaru readied his club and took a swing.

The golf ball rolled down the green and around the rim of the hole, pausing briefly right at its edge before finally succumbing to gravity and falling in. It made only the lightest tapping noise as it bounced inside the plastic hole.

Ino grinned, "Good job, Shikamaru!" She laughed, "I think you scored and eagle, right daddy?"

"He did," Inoichi hid his face behind the score card as he wrote a number down, "Even if I get this next shot in, I won't be able to beat him." The man laughed heartily, shoving the pencil and card into his back pocket. "Looks like you've beaten me, Shikamaru."

Shikamaru paused as he bent over to grab his golf ball. Did Mr. Yamanaka actually sound… somewhat civil?

He stood up and straightened his back, "Thank you, sir." He dared a glance at Ino. She was grinning.

"No need for the formalities, son." He grabbed the flag pole from his daughter and placed it back in the hole, "You can just call me by my name, Inoichi."

"Thank you… Inoichi." Augh. That was weird. It would take forever to get used to. But that was besides the point; the real thing to be focused on right now was the fact that he hadn't killed Shikamaru yet.

Inoichi returned to the cart, and Ino instantly jumped over to Shikamaru and gave him a great hug, "You did it!" She laughed, "You passed his test!"

"How'd I do?" he laughed also and hugged her back, burying his face into her blonde hair, "Did I ace it?"

"Not sure, you might have to work up to that." She smiled, "But you at least got a B minus."

"Good enough."

Ino let go of Shikamaru and he snaked his arm around her waist as they walked back to the cart. Inoichi turned to them and gave them a slight look, causing Shikamaru to shiver in fear.

"Hey…" Inoichi furrowed his brow, but then smiled, "You want to join us for dinner in the clubhouse, Shikamaru?"

Shikamaru inwardly let out a sigh in relief, "That would be great."

"Good. Call up that bastard father of yours. I'm still waiting for that rematch with him."

This has seriously been sitting on my hard drive for like, a year, lol. I started it after taking pictures at a golf tournament and then never finished it till now. YOU CAN SEE MY DEDICATION.

So despite the fact that I am no longer a big Naruto fan, I will still always love Shikamaru and Ino. And I will always love fanfiction of them. And I will always think about writing fanfiction for them but will ultimately fail in doing so. This is why I am inactive, lol. But I'm trying!

Thanks guys for all your loooooove. Now review.

EVERY TIME YOU READ WITHOUT REVIEWING CAPTAIN CRUNCH'S BOAT SINKS AND ALL THE CEREAL FALLS INTO THE SEA AND IS SOGGY AND GROSS AND SALTY AND UGH.

Save the Cap'n Crunch cereal, guys