Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ The Amorous Adventures of Ayame the Ramen Girl ❯ The Trouble with Henge ( Chapter 10 )

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

Chapter 10: The Trouble with Henge

Despite all that happened between his sensei and the ramen girl, it was still Naruto's favorite place to eat. And the turbulent affairs of adults did not concern him. So the next day, Naruto returned to eating lunch at Ichiraku. At first he was afraid Ayame would treat him as she did last time - serving him the crappy noodle dregs. But to his surprise, the ramen was even better than usual, especially the texture of the noodles. And unlike last time, Ayame didn't seem to be mad at him and all men.

“I don't understand it. What is it with your sensei? He's like so…insecure, especially when it comes to Kakashi,” Ayame said while serving Naruto his roast pork ramen. She sniffed and blinked back what few tears had remained from a night of sobbing into her pillow. She couldn't even say Iruka's name. To keep her mind off her break up, she had worked extra hard on kneading the noodles - slapping, banging, tossing the dough with all her strength.

“Well, you certainly can't blame him considering what hap…”

“What do you know about this? Tell me!” Ayame practically jumped out from behind the counter on top of Naruto.

“Huh? Nothing! I know absolutely nothing about anything! Wait, that doesn't sound right.”

“Tell me or…you'll never be allowed to eat here ever again! No ramen ever! Just think about that!” she threatened.

Naruto now had to choose between his loyalty to his favorite sensei and ramen. It was not a terribly difficult choice - he chose ramen in about one nanosecond.

“Well, yesterday, Iruka-sensei wanted to know if you were 100 percent over Kakashi-sensei so I transformed into Kakasei-sensei and you…”

“Yesterday? I didn't see Kakashi at all yesterday. What are you talking about?”

“Yesterday, mid-afternoon. There wasn't anyone else around. I don't know where your dad was but you wanted to go to the back and make noodles or something with me. Er, I mean with Kakashi-sensei.”

Realization dawned on the desperate young woman on what truly transpired yesterday:

Ayame 's father was not feeling well. She decided to take him home but was loathe to close down the ramen stand as she was already preparing a new batch of stock for the evening rush. Then she spied Anko walking by. Though Anko frequented the dumpling restaurant, she did pick up ramen takeout every so often, so Ayame knew her by name, though not of her reputation. “Anko-sensei!” she called. “Can you please do me a favor?”

Anko looked over at the ramen girl and nodded cautiously.

“Can you just watch the stand for a few minutes? It's the slow time of day so there probably won't be any customers. Just keep an eye on the stock for me, okay? I'm taking my dad home since he's not feeling well, but I should be back in just a few minutes,” Ayame said
. She really thought it would take about 20 minutes, but she didn't want Anko to refuse.

“No problem,” said Anko
. “I can handle just watching the stock. Just don't expect me to serve anyone. That's not my style.”

“Thanks so much!”
Ayame said as she helped her father onto his feet. The two left Ichiraku and returned home where Ayame gave her father some medicine for his headache.

Meanwhile, Anko began to get bored after five minutes. She waited impatiently for Ayame to return. Several people had called out to her, “Hey Anko, what are you doing here? This a mission for you? Ha-ha! Protect the ramen stand from thieves or from Naruto?” She started to get tired of the jokes and decided to transform into Ayame. That way, people would no be wiser and would leave her alone. She busied herself by snooping around the stand and saw the bottle of sake that they kept for their regular customers. Anko could not resist helping herself to a cup or two or more of the sake. Then she spied Kakashi approaching…

“…so that's what must have happened!” Ayame explained.

“Now that makes sense,” Naruto nodded. “Anko-sensei is such a psycho bitch. No wonder she said those terrible things about Iruka-sensei. I'm sure once I explain things to him he'll…”

“No! Forget it! I'm sick of his insecurities. I don't want him back even if he were the last man on earth. Well, maybe only in that case. I want someone who's confident, someone who's never weak but always strong, someone who'll defend me whether I'm right or wrong, someone to open each and every door…” (Note: from Bob Dylan's “It Ain't Me Babe”)

Despite Ayame's decision not to take back Iruka, Naruto immediately headed over to the Academy building after lunch. Iruka-sensei had to know the truth - that it wasn't Ayame who thought he was a loser and it was all a big mistake. Iruka was in the middle of teaching his class, but this could not wait. Naruto transformed himself into one of the other teachers, Suzume. He-she entered the classroom confidently and asked Iruka if he-she could have a word with him.
Iruka couldn't help but hope Suzume was interested in him. Maybe she would ask him out. She wasn't all that pretty, but maybe if she took off her glasses she would look better. He figured he best way to forget about Ayame was to start dating someone else. But his hopes were soon dashed when Naruto transformed back to himself.

“…so that's what happened, Iruka sensei,” Naruto explained how Anko was really Ayame and how it wasn't Ayame who called him a loser.
“So it was that psycho bitch Anko! No wonder! Geez I can't believe this. I have to get Ayame back.”

“Well, she says she doesn't want you back unless you were the last man on earth. So that's pretty hard to do I think.”

“She's just upset right now. I'm sure by tomorrow some flowers will do it,” Iruka said with a confidence he did not feel.
Naruto shrugged. He did not think some silly flowers would make everything all right, but what did he know. “Well, let me know how I can help,” he said. He still felt a bit guilty that it was his plan that blew up.
“It's all right, Naruto, I can handle this myself,” Iruka said kindly. But he did not want any more help from Naruto. Although it really wasn't Naruto's fault, things always seemed to get worse when he was involved.

The next morning, Iruka immediately headed over to the flower shop with lots of cash in hand. He found Ino misting the flowers with a spray bottle.

“I'd like three dozen…” he was about to say when Ino cut in.

“Sorry Iruka-sensei, if that's for the ramen girl, it's no sale.”

“What do you mean?”

“She's paid me NOT to sell flowers to you if it's for her,” Ino explained.`Saving the flowers for another sale means double the profit! And what kind of man would repeatedly dump a girl? Everyone thinks Iruka-sensei is such a nice guy. Wait till this gets out! ' She then added to Iruka's horror, “Now if you'd like to send flowers to someone else, like Kakashi-sensei, I'd be more than happy to help.”


Ayame was over being angry. Now she was just depressed despite agreeing with her father that there were plenty of noodles in the vat. She had resolved that even if Iruka were to beg on his knees, she would not take him back. But was she wrong? After all, it was an honest mistake, sort of. Actually, it wasn't. He was testing her and it was just a fluke that Anko had taken over for that short period of time. Ayame was certain she would have passed the test and be no wiser and right now maybe she'd be happily engaged. But engaged to a man who would desperately stoop to deception because of his own insecurities. She wasn't wrong in her decision, but…

Ayame spied Sakura passing by the ramen stand on her way to training. She called out to the pink haired girl and waved her over. Sakura had heard the latest gossip, from Naruto of course, but was not in the mood to listen to more of Ayame's troubled love life, considering her own was no better, or rather, even worse. But she walked over anyway, thinking maybe she could learn something from the older girl, like how to not screw up a relationship.

“Sakura-chan,” Ayame began, “I hope you don't mind if I ask you something, maybe personal, girl talk, you know.”

Sakura smiled weakly, thinking `You can ask, doesn't mean I have to answer. And now that you're free, as long you keep your hands off Sasuke, we're fine.' She said aloud, “Sure, no problem. What is it?”

“You like that boy Sasuke, right?”

Sakura nodded cautiously. `Hands off Sasuke! Or prepare for a kunai in your gut!'

“Actually, you love him don't you? For a long time?”

Again Sakura nodded, wondering where this was headed.

“But he barely deigns to give you the time of day, right?”

Sakura frowned. She did not like where this was headed at all.

“But you still love him anyway. Why?”

Sakura sighed. Sasuke was always a touchy subject with her. Despite her academic excellence, she never analyzed why she loved Sasuke, she just did, with all her heart. Trying to explain this would take some time, so she took a seat at the counter. “Love isn't something you can explain is it?” she asked the older girl.

“Sure it is. I thought I loved Kakashi because he's so cool and good-looking. I loved Iruka because he was such a sweet guy and was so considerate and nice. Until what he pulled yesterday! Did you hear about that?” Ayame narrowed her eyes slightly, wondering if Naruto had already spread the word.

Sakura shook her head innocently.

“He put me through a test because he didn't trust me! He thought I might still have some lingering feelings for Kakashi so he had Naruto transform into Kakashi and try to seduce me. Except it wasn't me, it was actually Anko who was me. Anyway, how do you forgive something like that? If Sasuke did that to you, would you take him back?”

“Yes. It just shows how much he wants you to love him.”

“But love is about trust isn't it? I trust him. I really don't think he has any feelings for Kaka…er…you didn't hear that last part. (Ayame didn't know that most of Konoha had already heard about Iruka's crush on Kakashi.) He should love me no matter what!”

“Well, I love Sasuke unconditionally. I don't need him to love me back, though I wish for it with all my heart. Even if he couldn't love me, or if he loved someone else, it wouldn't change my feelings for him.” Sakura felt happy about being able to discuss her feelings freely with someone. There was no one else she could really talk to about Sasuke. All the other girls envied her and hated her for being on Sasuke's team. Her parents would just laugh it off as a silly crush. And forget about Naruto and Kakashi, those idiots didn't understand anything.

“Even if he did something bad? Really bad?”

“I would forgive him, if he's sorry for it.”

“And if he's not?”

“I would still love him and help him. You can't just change your feelings so easily.”

“So you think I should forgive Iruka-sensei?”

Sakura shrugged and said wisely, “That's up to you. Everyone is different.”

Later that day, after their morning's training session, Sasuke went to Ichiraku for lunch while Naruto had to go elsewhere to meet with Iruka and Sakura was off running errands for her parents.

Sasuke was tentative about eating lunch there after Naruto had told him the latest gossip, whether he wanted to hear it or not. The ramen girl, he noticed, tended to let her emotions affect her ramen, a very bad habit. But he was in a hurry and had little pocket money today, so he resigned himself to ordering ramen with beef balls. To his relief, the girl took his order and served him in silence.

But she seemed to be studying him and after a while, Ayame presumed to ask him, “You know Sasuke-kun, all the young girls in Konoha seem to have a crush on you, but you don't seem to be interested.”

Sasuke ignored her and concentrated on eating his noodles without spilling a drop of soup. `Busybody bitch.'

“What do you think of unconditional love?” she asked.

He continued to ignore her.

Ayame persisted, “You know, sort of like what a mother feels for her children, among family…”

Sasuke abruptly looked up from his noodles to say, “Unconditional love is a fallacy. Nothing like that truly exists. There is always something that is unforgivable. Like a massacre.” His words and tone were cold enough to cool down the bowl of hot ramen.

“Yeah…er…I see your point.” Ayame sighed. She should have known better than to ask his opinion.


Meanwhile Naruto was having lunch with Iruka at the dumpling house. Naruto scarfed down his dumplings a bit reluctantly, missing his usual ramen, but since Iruka was paying, he didn't complain. Instead he uncharacteristically remained silent thinking about his poor sensei's situation and guiltily about how it was his plan and his fault. He resolved to come up with another plan to help when he heard about Iruka's latest issue with floral arrangements.

The two ate in sad silence for a while until Naruto suggested, “I have another plan…”

“Please, no, no more of your plans,” Iruka replied with a frown.

“But I swear this is a good one! It'll work!” Before Iruka could protest again, Naruto launched into his new great idea, “I'll pretend to kidnap her and you'll come to save her and she'll forgive you!”

Iruka shook his head in disapproval, “That's too drastic and underhanded. I can't do something like that. Though it's not really a bad idea.” He added the last part in desperate consideration.

“It's a great idea! Trust me!”

“That's what I thought the last time. Forget it, I'll work this out myself. Just need some time.”

“Some time for her to fall for someone else! Remember, a stitch in time saves…eight or nine?”

“Yes, but haste makes waste.”

“Sigh, why do they teach us those contrary things in school?”

“Well, it depends on the situation. Whatever, I just need to go talk to her again. She's probably cooled off by now.”

“Yeah, cooled off toward you!”

”You're not helping me by saying that!”

“So why are you hanging around and asking help from a twelve year old?”

“Good question. This is an adult problem and I'll handle it myself, like an adult,” Iruka said with determination.

“Well, whatever, if it doesn't work, you know where to find me,” Naruto replied as he stuck his chopsticks into his last dumpling.


After classes, Iruka managed to scrounge up some wildflowers to bring over to the ramen stand but Ayame was nowhere in sight. Instead, her father stood guard. He scowled angrily at Iruka, looking as if he wanted to dunk Iruka's head into the boiling stock.

“Look, you've dumped my daughter three times already. What makes you think, I'll give you another chance? Beat it!” Ayame's father said to Iruka when he asked to see her. She had quickly ducked to the back as soon as she saw Iruka approaching.

“I just want to talk to her, to apologize…”

“She's had enough of your apologies and your stupid flowers! Did you ever once think about getting her a freakin' vase for them? Guess who has to buy all the vases? They're more expensive than the stupid flowers! Beat it or I'll report you to Tsunade-sama for harassment! You know how tough she can be!”

Iruka's face blanched and he swallowed hard. Last thing he needed was to get in trouble with the new Hokage. But still he persisted, “If you can tell her it was all a misunderstanding, just a minute is all I need…”

“You have ten seconds to disappear from my sight or else…” He raised the boiling pot of stock threateningly.

Iruka sighed and resigned himself to finding another route of approach.


Ayame was trying to relax, or rather forget her problems, by drinking sake, instead of cutting vegetables, in the room behind the ramen stand. The alcohol just began to give her a slight buzz when she heard a soft knock at the door. When she turned her head she saw a woman wearing a beige trenchcoat over a fishnet top. Her purple hair was pulled back into a ponytail. Despite her fuzzy vision, Ayame recognized the woman as the original cause of her current problem. It was Anko, the snake-master jounin, who was standing before her, looking rather repentant.

“Hi, your father let me back here to talk to you in private,” Anko explained. “I'm sorry about what happened the other day. Hope nothing bad resulted, ha-ha.” She laughed uneasily.

“No, it was actually a good lesson.” Ayame took another cup and poured Anko a drink, too.

“Don't be too hard on Iruka-sensei - he's really a great guy.”

”That's what I thought but…” Ayame handed the cup of sake to Anko.

“There's no chance of you forgiving him? I mean, I feel real bad about all this. It's really all my fault. Maybe you can give him another chance after you've had a chance to think about it.” Anko took a swallow of the sake and started choking.

“Hah! Take that!” Ayame said crossly. “That's for screwing up my life! All you shinobi think you're so much better than us civilians! I can't jutsu you, but I sure can put hot sauce in sake! One with 90 percent capsaicin!”

Anko gagged and sputtered and lost her transformation.

Iruka now stood before Ayame. `Crap, I thought if I transformed myself to look like someone else, then I could get her alone. Hot sauce! Can't believe she would try that with Anko! If it were the real Anko, Ayame would be in the hospital with multiple snakebites by now. Crap, she's really ticked off. I'm done for.'

“You? You used that trick on me, again? Never trust a shinobi! Well, at least you had the balls this time to do it yourself and not enlist your little friend. I originally thought it was Kakashi's fault that we had problems, then I thought it was me, but it's not. It's been you all along! I'm sick of your wishy-washy insecurities! I want someone to love me unconditionally! Get out!” the ramen girl yelled, punctuating her order by pointing at the door. She grabbed a fistful of freshly cut noodles and raised them threateningly.

Her suitor meekly complied without protest. He left Ichiraku as Ayame and her father yelled more insults and threats at his back.
Whom could he turn to for love advice? He had no parents or siblings and shinobi rarely talked about their feelings. There was Naruto, who he suspected really just cared about free ramen for life, and Ino, who he knew cared only about selling him more flowers. Pathetic.

Ayame was right - he was insecure and he did not trust her. But why, why couldn't he trust her when he trusted everyone else? He trusted his comrades; he believed in his students, including Naruto. And he even believed that his friend Mizuki, who had turned bad, would somehow revert back to the caring boy and man he once knew.

Ayame had done nothing deceitful, that he knew of. She had always been honest with him, as far as he knew. But now that he saw the light, it was too late. She wasn't going to speak to him again. Suddenly Naruto's suggestion wasn't looking too bad.