Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ The Amorous Adventures of Ayame the Ramen Girl ❯ Love is Like a Bowl of Ramen ( Chapter 1 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Summary:Will Ayame, a civilian, be able to find love with a shinobi?
After seeing Kakashi's face, Ayame becomes obsessed with Kakashi and enlists the aid of Sakura to win his heart. Naruto mistakenly assumes she likes Iruka and does some matchmaking of his own. Takes place soon after episode 101. I have the genin as 12 years old, but they're probably 13 already.
Disclaimer: I don't own “Naruto” or any of the Naruto characters. I have nothing against yaoi, and I love both Iruka and Kakashi! I don't own Ayame either, but I feel I should since she has maybe three lines in the entire series while I've made her the principle character here.
Notes: Stuff in italics within single quotes denote thoughts. To prevent overuse of italics, I use CAPS once in a while for super-emphasis. I don't abuse caps. I just prefer them to bold or underline because they look cleaner and sometimes when I cut and paste, bold, underline or other special font format gets screwed up.
CHAPTER 1:  Love is Like a Bowl of Ramen
Ayame never believed in love at first sight, but that was before last week. That was when she saw Kakashi-sensei's face. She had seen him around before, but she always thought he was a bit strange, yet in a cool mysterious way. He had interesting hair and one nice dark gray eye, but as everything else was covered up, she thought no more about him. Once in a while he would come by and order ramen to take-out, but he never ate at the stand until that day. Since that day, she could not get him out of her mind.
Even her father would comment every so often, “Naruto's sensei sure is something. He's the top Konoha jounin you know. Quite a catch for…anyone.” Then his eyes would glaze over and a sigh would pass his lips.
Ayame found herself spacing out at work - over-cooking the ramen, over-seasoning the stock, and breaking the dishes. The only one who didn't notice the deterioration in the quality of their food was their best customer Naruto, who would eat anything no matter how hot or bland.
As she served the steaming hot bowls, with white vapor obscuring the faces of the patrons, she imagined each customer to be Kakashi, and imagined he was the one thanking her for her fine service. She eavesdropped on conversations, hoping someone would mention his name, just so she could glean the smallest particle of information about this mysterious man. It was becoming an obsession.
For the past week, she had been waiting and hoping Kakashi would come back to the stand, but she hadn't seen him since. How could she, a regular civilian girl, get his attention? She was nothing beautiful or classy or mysterious or exciting. Nothing like some of those kunoichi she saw around the village. Maybe she should wear more fishnet - that seemed to be quite popular. She was pretty enough under her plain yellow-stained white robe and kerchief, but no one ever noticed.
Ayame knew nothing about love strategy. She only had her father, whose advice on love was equating everything to ramen. “Love is like a bowl of ramen. Sometimes it's finished in seconds; sometimes it lasts much longer. Sometimes the noodles are short and sometimes they're nice and long. Some bowls of ramen have lots of variety, with roast pork, seaweed, egg, vegetables, tofu…but some are standard and boring with only one position…er, I mean top... er, I mean condiment…”
If only her mother were still around, perhaps she could have given Ayame some real advice about men instead of some half-boiled philosophy based on egg noodles.
Who could she get to be her ally, to help her gain his attention? Forget about Naruto - if he had any idea of her feelings, he would exclaim so loudly that everyone in the village would know in seconds. How could she find out whether Kakashi would be interested? Whether he had someone already? Maybe that girl Naruto liked, the pink haired girl on his team, the one with the funny forehead. What was her name? Something boringly common…Sakura, that was it. Maybe she could enlist her help…
Naruto noticed that his ramen had not been as good as usual. In fact, his cup ramen was better! What was going on with Ichiraku? For the past week, their ramen had been downright bad. And that's saying a lot coming from he who would eat mint bubblegum flavored ramen. Finally, he couldn't take it anymore. “What's going on here? I pay good hard-earned money for this ramen! It sucks!” he complained, being his usual tactful self.
But Ayame had her back to him. She was thinking about how luscious Kakashi's lips looked, so she didn't hear him at all.
Her father looked up in surprise from cutting up some daikon. “What's wrong Naruto-kun?” he ventured to ask.
“What's wrong? What's wrong is your ramen! It's been terrible all week!”
“But you ate it all and didn't complain once. In fact, you had several bowls each time. Is this an attempt to get a refund or a free bowl?” He frowned at Naruto suspiciously.
“You try it! I'm not crazy!” Naruto insisted.
The old man tentatively took a pair of chopsticks and tried a few strands of noodles. His brow furrowed; his nose twitched; his mouth grimaced and then he spat out the noodles onto the countertop. He took a small sip of the soup and immediately coughed it out - all over Naruto's bright orange jumpsuit. He then turned to address his daughter, “What the hell is wrong with you? These noodles are sweet! Ugh, you used sugar instead of salt!”
“Huh? Oh, yeah, sorry dad. I'll use more sugar next time…” his daughter replied as if in a daze.
“Sigh, I'm sorry Naruto-kun. It seems that my daughter has fallen in love with your sensei. She's had her head in the clouds for days. I'll give her a thorough scolding later. Here's a couple of free coupons…”
Naruto assumed he must have meant Iruka-sensei, since he was a regular customer. And he could see how a girl could fall for Iruka-sensei - he was such a great guy. It never occurred to Naruto that anyone could possibly mean Kakashi-sensei, who was incredibly weird, lazy, perverted - no girl would fall for that.
“Ayame, what the hell is wrong with you? Thanks to your incompetence, sales have been down 20 percent this week. Tips have been near nonexistent. Are you trying to ruin us?” her father reprimanded after all the customers had left.
“I'm sorry Dad. It's just been hard to concentrate lately.” Ayame apologized, but appeared not to be sorry at all. She still seemed very distracted.
“I know how you feel about Kakashi-sensei. I mean, who can blame you. He's really…sigh…if I were…sigh…but if word gets out that our ramen's no good anymore, do you think he's going to come by here ever again?”
That shocked Ayame back to reality. If Kakashi were to think that she couldn't cook, she would have no advantage over any other girl. If he didn't come by the ramen stand anymore, what chance would she have at all? In fact, she must double her efforts to be the best ramen cook in all of Fire Country!
“Dad, you're absolutely right. The way to a man's heart is through his stomach, right? I'm going to be the best ramen cook ever!”
“Well, maybe second next to me. Just remember that life is like a bowl of ramen - it's served steaming hot, but if it sits around too long, it gets cold.”
“Umm, I think I missed the analogy there.”
“Well, you know, it means…it means that you can't sit on the shelf too long or you'll be an old maid.”
“Gee, thanks dad. I'm not that old yet.” Ayame shook her head at the old man's strange sayings.
“Time goes by fast. If you find someone you like, go for it!”
“Dad, you're absolutely right. That's exactly what I'm going to do starting tomorrow!”
It was near the end of the day. Classes had already been dismissed and most of the Academy teachers were gone. Iruka had just finished marking the homework and was getting ready to leave the classroom when a tousle of blonde hair appeared by the door.
“Hey, hey, Iruka-sensei!” Naruto said with a sly look in his fox-like eyes.
“Hi there Naruto-kun. How's the training going?” Iruka replied as he placed his papers in the briefcase.
“Oh, forget that!” Naruto was so excited, he wanted to burst out the information, but he also wanted to stretch it out, and make Iruka guess. “I know something you don't.”
“Hmmf, I somehow doubt that,” Iruka said with a good natured laugh.
“Yes I do,” Naruto insisted. “I know someone who likes you.”
“I'm sure lots of people like me. I'm such a great guy.”
“No, I mean, like you like you.”
“What do you mean? You know I don't speak tween.”
“Grrr, I mean I know someone who wants to date you.”
“Oh,” Iruka blushed, “umm, guy or girl?”
“A girl of course!”
Iruka sighed in relief, “Well, who is it?”
“Just tell me, I don't have time for guessing games.”
“Ask me three questions and take a guess.”
“Sigh, fine. Is she of legal age?”
“At least eighteen.”
“Hmm, I'm not sure. I think so.”
“Okay, is she a kunoichi?”
`Good,' Iruka thought, `most of them are kind of bitchy. All right one last question.' “Hmm, is it someone I know?”
“Well…what do you mean by know?”
“Do I know her name?”
“I don't know if you know her name.”
“Sigh, what's her name?”
“I don't know her name.”
“Wait a minute. You're telling me you know a girl who likes me, but you don't know who she is?” Iruka was getting annoyed.
“I know who she is, but I just don't know her name.”
“Grrr, just tell me!”
“It's the ramen girl at Ichiraku.”
“The ramen girl?” Iruka's eyebrows rose up in surprise.
“Yeah, her dad told me.”
“Hmm, well, she is pretty cute. And she's sure a good cook. Well, at least her ramen is good. But…I don't know…”
“What's wrong? Don't you like girls?”
“Sure I do!” Iruka's face turned red. “It's just that…I'm pretty busy. I don't know if I have time right now for a girlfriend...”
“That sounds like a fishy excuse! You have time to spend with me, right? Just go for it!”
“Girls require a lot more time and effort. I'm not sure how to approach this…”
“Just send her some flowers,” Naruto suggested.
“Yeah, all girls like flowers, right?” said Iruka thoughtfully.
“Unless she's allergic.”
“Allergic? Is she allergic?”
“How would I know? Why are you even taking advice from a twelve-year-old…”
Sakura was not a frequent Ichiraku customer since she had a mom who cooked her dinner and packed her lunch. So on her day off, Ayame tried to bump into Sakura by loitering around her house. “Hello, Sakura-chan,” she said pleasantly when she saw the pink haired genin returning home from training.
Sakura stared at her blankly and managed a weak, “Er, hello…”`Who the hell are you?! Some kind of stalker?!'
Ayame realized she was in her normal street clothes, not her ramen stand waitress uniform, so Sakura did not recognize her. “It's me Ayame.”
Sakura continued to stare at her quizzically.
“From Ichiraku,” Ayame said patiently.
“Oh! Hello, how are you? I'm sorry, I didn't recognize you,” said Sakura in embarrassment.
“That's all right. I get quite a lot of that,” Ayame said with a smile, while thinking, `What good is that big forehead of yours? Does it even contain a brain? Why can't you recognize someone out of uniform?' “I was wondering if you could help me…” Ayame said while blushing.
Sakura saw her face turn red and deduced it must be about a guy. She automatically became interested, then suspicious. `It better not involve Sasuke, or I'll help you with a kunai in your gut!' But she said sweetly, “Sure, if I can. What kind of help do you need?”
“I'm afraid that ever since last week…I've had a crush on…” the ramen girl hesitated and blushed several shades darker.
`Last week? It better not be Sasuke! Would Sasuke go for an older woman? She does have a better figure than I do,' thought Sakura in a panic. `I'll kill her first!' But Sakura smiled and said, “Yes? Go on.”
“I'm in love with Kakashi-sensei!” Ayame blurted out.
`Hey that's right! She got to see Kakashi-sensei's face. Damn, and we didn't!' “So what does Kakashi-sensei look like? We didn't get to see him without his mask.”
Ayame gushed, “He has the most perfect nose. Not too long or short or narrow or broad. It gives him a perfect profile. The tip is slightly pointy, but not sharp. His mouth is perfectly shaped in a slight smile. His lips are sensuous but not too full. His teeth are white and perfectly aligned. His chin is not too strong or weak and gives him such a distinguished air. His whole face has such character. He's absolutely perfect! Sigh…”
`Geez, she's got it bad. It's sickening the way she's gushing over him. Wait, I don't do that, do I? Of course not!' “All right, I'll help you on one condition,” Sakura proposed.
“Anything!” replied the desperate young woman.
“You have to help me get a look at his face!”
The next morning Sakura found her sensei sitting by the riverbank reading a book with a banned symbol on the back. `Does that ramen girl know what kind of books he reads? Hey, whatever, to each her own.'
“Good morning, Kakashi-sensei,” she said in greeting.
The masked shinobi looked up from his little red book. “Oh, hello there Sakura-chan. Umm, we don't have training scheduled for today, do we?”
`You should know, you lazy idiot!' Sakura replied, “No, I was just taking a walk. I saw you here, so I just wanted to say `Hi.'”
“Oh, okay.” Kakashi went back to his book.
`So much for a meaningful conversation, let's try this again.' “Umm, Kakashi sensei, I was wondering…”
“Well, when you were in the hospital…I'm sorry I didn't visit you as much as I should have. Was there someone who visited you regularly?”
“Yeah, the nurse and the doctor.”
“No, I mean was there someone special who visited you?”
“No medical specialist until Tsunade-sama arrived.”
“Grrr, no I mean, is there someone special in your life?” Sakura blushed.
“Oh.” Kakashi noticed her blushing and thought, `Well, these things happen. If it weren't for her Sasuke obsession, it probably would have happened a long time ago. After all, I am really cool, though maybe not quite as cool as Sasuke, but I could have whooped his butt at the same age. I'll have to let her down delicately ' He hesitated before he answered, “Don't you think you're a bit young for me Sakura-chan? I mean, I know I read these books, but they only involve consenting adults.”
“What! You think… I…! Ewwww!” (Inner Saukra: `No way old man! This is sooo not worth the humiliation! I don't care if I never see his face! Forget it!') Sakura ran off in a huff.
`That was kind of strange. I wonder what's going on,' Kakashi shrugged and went back to reading his favorite book.
After escaping from such an embarrassing situation, Sakura found Ayame taking inventory at the ramen stand before the lunch hour rush.
“I found out for you that Kakashi-sensei is unattached. The rest of it is up to you,” Sakura said abruptly.
“What do you mean? That's it? You're not helping me anymore? Can't you find out if he likes me at all?” Ayame was near hysterical.
“Uh, things got a bit a complicated.” `No more humiliation! Go find out yourself you pathetic wimp!'
“Please Sakura-chan. Please just find out if he's the least bit interested in me. I promise I'll get you a look at his face…Plus a ramen coupon!”
`Like hell! It's not worth it!' After some thought, Sakura finally conceded. “Uh, all right. I'll try again. But it better be a good look!” `I'm such a sucker for romance. Sigh, if only I could get Sasuke to like me. Well, if I can get these two together…I'll just have to live vicariously.'
Kakashi heard someone approaching again, someone disturbing his reading again. He looked up from his book in annoyance. His sole female genin stood a few yards away. She was staring at him. “Sakura-chan, I'm sorry about earlier. Ha-ha, my mistake,” he said in greeting.
`He hasn't budged in like three hours. What the hell does he do all day when we're not training?' Sakura thought but she said, “Uh, Kakashi-sensei, what I meant to say earlier is that I know someone who likes you.” `Why beat around the bush? Mind as well just tell him. That way he won't make the same mistake again.'
“I'm sure lots of people like me. I'm such a cool guy.”
“No, I mean, like you like you.”
“Huh? You pre-adolescents sure have a peculiar way of speaking.”
“Grrr, I mean I know someone who wants to date you.”
“Oh really? Hmm, guy or girl?”
“A girl of course! “
Kakashi sighed in relief, “Well, who is it?”
Sakura realized she had forgotten the name. “Uh…her name is…you know her …she's the ramen girl at Ichiraku.”
“Hmm, well she does make good ramen, and she is pretty cute...but…”
“What's wrong? Don't you like girls?”
“Hmm? Of course, it's just that… women require a lot of time and effort. I don't know if I have time right now...”
“You've been sitting and reading here at the same spot for hours! You mean you're just too lazy to pursue her.”
“Well…” he shrugged.
“Why don't you send her some flowers to show you're interested. That takes minimal time and effort.”
“I'll think about it…”
Iruka was not normally a man of impetuous action. He liked to think things through first, but he was also not the type to procrastinate. He had plenty of time last night to think about whether he liked the ramen girl enough to pursue a relationship and he decided he did. She seemed like a nice pleasant girl. And since he knew that she liked him already, he did not have to worry about being rejected. So at Naruto's prompting, Iruka slipped away from the Academy during his lunch hour in order to pay a visit to the flower shop. He found a pretty blonde girl sitting idly behind the counter, playing with a strand of hair that strayed from her bun.
“Hello, Ino-chan, you're minding the shop today?” Iruka said in greeting.
“Good afternoon Iruka-sensei. I'm just here for a little while. My mom had to run some errands. If you need any help, please ask.”
“I'd like to buy some flowers…” Iruka blushed.
“Yeah, that's why you're in a flower shop, can you be more specific? Who's it for?”
“It's for this girl…” Iruka turned redder.
“Well, I sure hope so. You wouldn't send flowers to a guy, would you?”
“No, well, maybe, but I want to send some flowers to the ramen girl at Ichiraku.”
“Okay, what kind and how many?”
“I don't know - that's where I need help.”
“You should have said that in the first place,” Ino said impatiently. “All right, tell me about her. What's her favorite flower, favorite color, favorite scent…”
“I really don't know anything about her.”
“Just send her a dozen long stem red roses. A guy can never go wrong with that.” `Plus it's the most expensive item here. Mom will be pleased!' “What about her name? How should I address the card?”
“The card?”
“Yeah, you know `To so and so, from so and so…'”
“Oh, that would be a problem. I don't know her name.”
“Do you know if she likes you?”
“Yes, Naruto told me that her dad told him that she told him that she's in love with me.”
“Perfect! Then you don't need a card. She'll naturally assume it's from you. Plus the added mystery of a possible secret admirer will make an even better impression! Sigh, how romantic.”
“Are you sure?” Iruka asked with a note of doubt in his voice.
“Trust me, I'm a woman, I know these things,” Ino replied confidently.
“But you're twelve years old. Should I be taking advice from a twelve-year-old?”
“Of course! By the way, we have a special package plan…”
Meanwhile, after her second meeting with Kakashi, Sakura returned to the ramen stand to inform Ayame of the current status of the Kakashi-sensei mission.
Ayame interrogated her immediately. “So? So? What did he say? What did you tell him? You didn't tell him I was in love with him did you? I'd die of embarrassment!”
“Of course not! I just told him that if he's unattached, and if he's looking for someone, that I happened to know that you were available. And if he's interested, I suggested he send you some flowers.”
“Hmm,” Ayame thought this over, “that's good, very good. It doesn't make me look desperate and the ball is in his court. You are indeed really clever, just like Naruto-kun says. Thanks so much Sakura-chan!”
“Hey, no problem, just remember your promise.”
“Huh? Promise? Oh, here's the ramen coupon.”
“Hey! I meant his face!” Sakura said angrily as she grabbed the coupon.
“Oh, yes, of course! I'll be in touch,” Ayame said excitedly.
Later that day, Ayame received a dozen long stem roses with no note. She naturally assumed they were from Kakashi. `Wow, he sure went all out! These are expensive. What a great guy!' she erroneously thought.