Naruto wants to be Hokage.

Minato supports her ambition (though he does make sure she knows everything of the pain, burden, restriction, horror that come with the hat to the full extent that her security clearance level allows).

So Naruto is spending time that COULD be spent eating ramen, or baiting various Uchiha, or relaxing at the onsen with the girls, or challenging Fuzzy Brows to stupid battles his youthfulness prevents him from realizing are full-on prank wars... playing shogi.

With Nara Shikamaru.

"Troublesome," moans Shikamaru.

"You just won," points out Naruto. "AGAIN. How is that troublesome?!" her lips stick out and her arms fold under her breasts in a pout so classically cliched it really shouldn't be as effective as it totally is.

Shikamaru looks longingly to the clouds, wishing they would draw his attention and provide freeing space for thoughts like they always do. Always... unless he happens to be within sight of Naruto. Or within hearing.

Or just thinking about her, really.

Useless, traitorous, troublesome clouds.

The corner of his eye catches the shift of pout to pre-battle stretch.

"Whatever, Cloudboy! I'm not losing to you!" and she's setting up the board again with near-genuine enthusiasm, proving that she has taken her father's admonishments very much to heart. In spite of her strong natural aversion to any and every quiet, concentrated, seated, thinking exercise. "This time I'm gonna last a whole THREE minutes! WATCH OUT!"

Shikamaru retreats behind his eyelids with an earnest sigh. There are far too many blondes in his life.

If only he could bring himself to avoid any of them. …Particularly this one. Getting out of 'friendly' spars with the supremely annoying Uchiha Sasuke is just one of the many ridiculous side affects of associating with the Tremendously Troublesome Namikaze Naruto.

Who has already made an opening move and is taunting him expectantly (adorably). If he didn't know she would know through that supernatural extra sense she possesses, and be utterly furious to hide how deeply hurt she is every time she is coddled or patronized or shown any type of preferential treatment, he would go easy on her and let he reach her goal of lasting three whole minutes.

Then again, she has never played the same way twice, so whatever unexpected tactic she tries this time (once he reminds her how the rules work when she inevitably tries to break them) just might work.

"Ne, Shikamaru," she says, and he glances up at the weight of her tone. "Can't you just play shogi for me?"

Shikamaru frowns.

"I mean when I'm Hokage," Naruto continues, as if that should be obvious. "Tou-chan says I have to play shogi 'cause that's what Hokages do. With politics and stuff. You could be, like, my super-advisor! Always by my side, out-maneuvering all evil plots, super badass advisor-man! YEAH!"

Scenes of 'always by her side' fly through his mind faster than he can redirect them. Shikamaru looks at her and says: "No. That would be dangerous to my health."

She scowls at him. "EH?! What's that supposed to mean? You know I'll always protect you!"

This is true. Too bad there is one person in the shinobi world who can still beat Naruto every time.

"Fine," grumbles Naruto. "Be a jerk. But if you won't help me with that, help me with my other problem!"

He raises one eyebrow, uncommitted, and listens warily.

She leans forward, intent cloudless-sky eyes, mischievously pursed lips, metal-soap-ramen-orchid scent assaulting all at once. "Tell me how to get a date."

Shikamaru stares. Blinks. Glowers. Moves a shogi piece. Frowns defiantly at her accursed adorableness. "No."

"Whyyyyyy? Shikamaruuuuuuuu! Help me! Help me help me help me—" somewhere in that entreaty, she moves a shogi piece of her own.

Shikamaru answers the move, not seeing the board even as he stares fiercely at it. "I won't aid you in courting other men."

A whine breaks off into a giggle. "Courting other men? Hehehehe. That sounds so weird, Shika. No no no, I just want to go on cheesy, romantic dates, with cute guys like you!"

There is nothing appropriate he can say to that.

"P.S., I win," crows Naruto.

A/N: I read the latest manga chapter (649) and then I came up with this. Thank you, Kishimoto-sama, for inspiring once again :) (Anyone else's ninja-love re-invigorated by recent chapters? Oh Naruto, the cannon and fannon that I simultaneously love and am irritated by more than any other... but seriously, tell me what you think about how things are wrapping up! One of my life goals is to become friends with a fellow Naruto fan in real life. Everyone I know and love, while wonderful in many other ways, is utterly bewildered by my obsession and pretends it doesn't exist.