Ayame Takes Charge
Ayame barely slept that night. `Why? Why hasn't Kakashi asked me out? Sakura said he's free. Unless.unless he doesn't like women.but that's impossible!' But after hours of analysis, Ayame realized she had been handling it all wrong. `He likes assertive, aggressive women. That means I have to ask him out!'
It was just beginning to dawn. The sun rose into the sky like a poached egg rising to the soup's surface. The obsessed young woman had developed another plan. `I don't know much about being a shinobi, but I'm determined to find him and ask him out!' Ayame had the day off so she made her way to Kakashi's abode.
Last night she followed him home at a distance, but was too shy to say anything, so she just watched as he entered the building and then returned home.
His light was still off. She waited for a couple of hours before she saw him exit the building. `I'm not ready yet. I need to get up my courage first. I'll just follow him for a while.'
Kakashi walked slowly while reading his book. Somehow he managed to avoid bumping into anything. Ayame followed him but kept out of sight. Kakashi made his way to the shinobi memorial. He just stood there, apparently thinking, for over an hour. Ayame patiently waited behind a tree. `How.honorable.and sentimental,' she thought.
Kakashi finally moved; this time quickly since he was apparently late for something. Ayame couldn't keep up but she followed him in the general direction of the training grounds. She came upon his team while training and nearly got hit by a stray shuriken! She ducked behind a tree again. She looked around and saw Kakashi in the branches above her reading his book!
It was well past lunchtime and Ayame was starving, but she waited until the team finally broke for lunch. Kakashi left the training area and headed towards town. Ayame followed discreetly with a rumbling stomach. He entered a sushi restaurant and ordered a bento box then sat in the corner facing the back so no one could see him eat, plus he held his book in front of him.
Though tempted to go in, she waited outside the restaurant trying to gather her courage to ask him out. `I think I can, I think I can, I think I can .'
Meanwhile, Kakashi thought, `She's pretty good for an inexperienced civilian. At least she's dressed in plain brown robes. The idiots on my team tried to follow me in their regular clothes, bright orange, red, blue - what a bunch of bozos. Maybe they can take lessons from her. Good thing Naruto didn't hit her with that shuriken (he thought it was an enemy sneaking up on them), else the academy could be held liable.'
Ayame took a deep breath and entered the restaurant. She ordered the extra large lunch special bento box and looked around casually. "Oh, hello Kakashi-sensei," she said as if she were surprised to see him there. But Kakashi had already finished eating and stood up to leave.
"Hmm? Oh, hello," Kakashi said pleasantly and turned to the door.
"Are you here alone?" `I think I can.I think I can.I think I can.'
"Yes, I'm about to leave."
`Do it! Do it now! Or regret it forever!' Ayame took another deep breath and without looking at him said, "Umm, if you're not doing anything tonight, would you like to accompany me to a movie?"
Kakashi said nothing but just scratched his head as though seriously thinking about it. "My treat," Ayame offered. That seemed to spark a response and Kakashi finally nodded his head. "Can you meet me at the theater around six?" Kakashi nodded again. "Is there any particular movie you want to see?"
Kakashi immediately said, "Make-Out Violence!" even though he had seen it ten times already, but hey, she's paying!
Ayame's First Date with Kakashi
Ayame arrived early and waited for half an hour, while trying hard to ignore the itching all over her body from her kunoichi outfit, which felt as if it shrank after washing. Kakashi was late. The movie had already started when he finally arrived.
"Sorry I'm late, but don't worry, we just missed the opening credits." Kakashi was in a hurry now and quickly entered the theater without holding the door for Ayame. She nearly walked into it as it closed. Luckily, they found some seats near the rear of the theater.
During the movie, Kakashi appeared to be transfixed. Ayame paid little attention to the movie, which was something about a sadomasochistic relationship between this easygoing guy and a rather crazy, violent woman. They broke up and got back together repeated throughout the movie. Ayame looked over at Kakashi every few seconds and saw his mouth moving in rhythm with the characters' lines. `How many times has he seen this trash? Is this what he likes in bed?'
Ayame waited for Kakashi to make a move like placing his arm around her shoulders or holding her hand, but he didn't seem to remember she was there at all. He just stared at the screen, rarely blinking. After the movie, and all the credits, Kakashi abruptly got up to leave. Ayame hurried to follow him.
"So that was a.an interesting movie," Ayame said, trying to start a conversation.
"One of my favorites," Kakashi said, almost to himself.
"So, uh, you've read the whole series of books?"
Kakashi nodded. He kept his hands in his pockets and walked quickly in front of her.
"So, uh, you want to get a bite to eat or some drinks? I could use something besides ramen."
"Actually," Kakashi started to say while scratching his forehead protector, "I have an early day tomorrow so I really should get going."
"Oh, well, okay, um, I'll see you later then." Kakashi gave her a wave and ran off, without offering to walk her home. Ayame sighed, `He's so shy, what a sweetie.'
What the Heart Wants
After the day's mission, Sakura and Naruto lingered to discuss Ayame's romantic problems while Sasuke, finding the whole situation incredibly inane, went off on his own. Normally, Sakura would have hurried after him, but this situation with the ramen girl was getting serious.
"So the ramen girl likes Kakashi-sensei and not Iruka-sensei?" Naruto was horrified! He astutely decided to avoid Iruka for a while until he calmed down. "What's the matter with that ramen girl? She should go for Iruka-sensei. It's obvious he's the better choice!"
"Well, the heart wants what the heart wants, there's no rationale for it," Sakura said wisely.
Naruto, in a low voice, but not low enough, muttered "Yeah, like you and Sasuke."
Sakura hit hard him on the head saying, "What was that?!"
"Nothing! I just said Iruka-sensei is such a great guy."
"Yeah, but look at it this way, she promised to get me a look at Kakashi-sensei's face."
"Really?" That thought was enough to make Naruto seriously contemplate switching sides. "Maybe we should both help her. Like you said Sakura-chan, the heart wants. whatever."
Naruto's and Sakura's Alliance
Naruto and Sakura then dropped by the ramen stand to see how Ayame was (not) progressing. "Have you given up on Kakashi-sensei yet?" Sakura asked Ayame.
"Of course not! In fact we went to a movie yesterday," Ayame answered.
Naruto had to have his input. "Let me guess, Make-Out Violence?"
Ayame turned red and nodded. Sakura said encouragingly, "We've decided to join forces to help you."
"With Kakashi-sensei or Iruka-sensei?" Ayame's eyes brightened.
"Whom do you want?" asked Sakura.
"Kakashi of course!"
"Are you sure? He's incredibly weird and Iruka-sensei is such a great guy!" said Naruto, who refused to give up all hope on his favorite teacher.
"I'm determined to have Kakashi-sensei, no matter what! So do you guys have any plans?" "
Well, you already went to a movie. What's next?" asked Sakura.
"I'm waiting for him to ask me out. If not, I'll ask him out again." (Inner Sakura: `What? She asked him out? How shameful for a woman to ask a guy out! How desperate!') Sakura nodded and said, "I have an idea that should work out for all of us."
Ayame's Second Date with Kakashi
The three genin and Kakashi arrived at the ramen stand late in the day, after their mission, which involved recovering a stolen set of family heirloom antique katana. (It turned out that the feudal lord's six year old grandson had taken it to use in his play therapy sessions.) Ayame had given Sakura and Naruto free ramen coupons good for dine-in only without her father's permission.
"Ayame, this is going too far - handing out free coupons!"
"Sakura-chan has a plan. This will work! At least we'll get to see Kakashi-sensei's face again."
"Well, that's something.yeah, that's worth four bowls of ramen."
Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke waited with bated breath as they did nearly three weeks ago when they almost saw Kakashi's face.
Kakashi, apparently oblivious that everyone was staring at him, picked up his chopsticks. "The ramen I had the other day was quite excellent. I hope this is just as good. Thanks for the coupon."
"Oh, no problem. It's a special we're running for our best customers," Ayame explained.
Everyone fell silent. The tension in the air built up. Ayame and her father had the best view while the genin were craning their necks. Kakashi's hand moved to pull down his mask. Suddenly there was a loud crash! The genin turned their heads in the direction of the noise. Ayame's soup pot had boiled over and the lid crashed onto the floor! She had adjusted the heat to achieve the perfect serving temperature, but in her excitement forgot to turn it down and the lid was placed precariously. The genin turned their heads back to Kakashi, but it was already too late. They missed seeing his face again! Ayame and her father were completely oblivious to the soup accident. They had that silly love-struck look in their eyes again. But not to worry, time for phase two of Sakura's plan.
"Umm, Kakashi-sensei. Your team told me you're off tomorrow.so you have time tonight to go for a drink?" Ayame asked tentatively. Kakashi said nothing but just scratched his head as though seriously thinking about it. "My treat." That seemed to spark a response and Kakashi finally nodded his head.
They went to the sake bar where Ayame ordered a drink, but Kakashi declined, saying he wasn't thirsty yet. Instead he took out his book and started reading. Ayame tried hard to start a conversation. "So, are those books really that good? Can I borrow one?"
Kakashi stopped reading and looked at her with his one exposed eye. `Lend my precious book to someone else? Is she nuts?'
Meanwhile the three genin followed through on their plans.
Naruto: "Ok, time for phase 2. We need to transform to adults so we can enter the bar."
Sakura: "Right, I can look like Kurenai-sensei."
Sasuke: "There's no one cool I want to look like." `I can't believe I'm going along with this inane plan, but I have to see Kakashi's face!'
Naruto: "How about Gai-sensei?"
Sasuke: "You have got to be kidding."
Naruto: "Hey, he's a good guy. He gave me a nifty green jumpsuit. I'll show it to you sometime. It's.aerodynamic!"
Sasuke: "Fine, you be pageboy. I'll be.hmm."
Sakura: "What about Asuma-sensei?"
Sasuke: "No, he smokes. Filthy habit."
Naruto: "What about Ebisu-sensei?"
Sasuke: "I don't want to cover my eyes with sunglasses."
Naruto: "What about one of the examiner guys?"
Sasuke: "No, one's dead, one's got an oral fixation, and the other's got too many scars to duplicate easily."
Naruto (in jest): "What about the other examiner.Anko-sensei?"
Sakura: "Look, we'd better hurry up. We're wasting time. Who knows, Kakashi-sensei may have finished his drink already."
Sasuke: "Fine, I'll go as Anko-sensei. At least she knows some cool techniques." `And I look good in fishnet.'
But then while walking to the bar, Sakura wondered, "You know, Kurenai-sensei and Anko-sensei are friends. But I don't know if Gai-sensei would hang out with them. Do you think it's suspicious?"
"A guy hanging out with two women. What's wrong with that?" asked Naruto.
Sasuke replied,"Don't worry. In Gai-sensei's case, it'll appear perfectly normal."
The bouncer barely looked at them when they enter the bar. A waitress came up and showed them to a table.
Naruto-Gai remarked, "Hey, this is working out pretty well. We have a clear view of Kakashi-sensei over there."
"Looks like he hasn't ordered a drink yet. Guess we'll have to wait," said Sakura-Kurenai.
The waitress came back for their drink orders. "Your usual Gai-sensei?" she asked with a coquettish smile and a flip of her red hair.
Naruto-Gai replied, "Oh, uh, of course."
Sakura-Kurenai said, "Just tea for me please."
"Your usual Anko-sensei?" asked the waitress, looking at the woman in fishnet. Sasuke-Anko just nodded. The three said nothing as they waited. They concentrated on looking at Kakashi, willing him to order a drink and pull down his mask.
The waitress returned after a few minutes. She placed their drink orders down, but before she left she stopped and stared at Sakura-Kurenai. "Kurenai-sensei, that's a good color on you. I thought you were more conservative but the pink highlights suit you." The waitress smiled at them and left. Sakura couldn't hold her transformation any longer!
Naruto-Gai whispered, "Hey Sakura-chan, your hair is turning from black to pink!"
"What? My hair? What's going on?"
Sasuke-Anko explained, "You just don't have enough chakra to hold your transformation for very long. You better get out of here before you completely transform back. No minors you know."
(Inner Sakura: No way in hell! I'm not going to miss this!)
Naruto-Gai said, "Sakura-chan you'd better go, don't worry, we'll tell you all about it."
(Inner Sakura: That's not the same! No, not when we're so close!) But then Sakura felt the transformation unravel as her chest started to deflate. She quickly ran out of the bar, her arms folded over her chest.
After a few minutes, the waitress came over again and asked, "Is there something wrong with your drinks?" when she saw they were untouched.
"Oh, no, nothing wrong at all," Naruto-Gai said as he gulped down the large cup of sake. What Naruto didn't realize was that Gai, a master of the drunken fist technique, liked his drinks 150 proof! The bar kept a special bottle just for him. The alcohol burned Naruto's epiglottis, esophagus, and abdomen immediately! He coughed and sputtered sake all over Sasuke-Anko. The alcohol was quickly absorbed into his blood stream and he started to feel sleepy...
Sasuke-Anko carefully took a sip of his drink and frowned. He didn't know what it was, and something told him he didn't want to know. It had alcohol in it, but also weird floating pieces of something. He looked over at Naruto-Gai and realized that in his drunken state, Naruto could no longer hold his transformation. `Crap, why am I stuck with two useless idiots!'
Naruto-Gai's hair started to lighten and his eyebrows thinned out. Sasuke-Anko dumped some money on the table, grabbed Naruto-Gai and carried him out the door. `Damn, another failed mission.'
Kakashi actually lent Ayame his book! After Ayame plagued him with questions on the differences between the movie and the book, Kakashi decided it was easier to let her read the book herself. He finished reading it at the bar in between (not) answering any of the personal questions Ayame posed to him: Do you live alone? Do you have any family? How do you get along with your genin team? How long have you been a jounin? Do you like being a shinobi? What would you rather do? Kakashi's answers: Yes, No, Okay, Awhile, Yes, Don't know.
After a few drinks, Ayame started to feel a bit tipsy. Being rather nervous, she drank more than her usual. Kakashi meanwhile finally ordered a drink, but it sat in front of him untouched. Ayame started to yawn. Her conscious thoughts and fantasy dreams started to intertwine. Her inhibitions started to fade. "Kakashi-kun," she said dreamily while leaning forward boldly, "I really.like.your.hair." She crashed against his chest fast asleep. Kakashi finally and quickly pulled down his mask and knocked back his drink. He frowned as he looked at the bill. `Geez, she drinks like a fish. This costs more than the movie and ramen!'
Ayame's Third Date with Kakashi
Ayame felt someone roughly shaking her shoulder. Fighting her drunken stupor, she managed to half open her eyes. "We're closing now," said the bartender. Ayame blinked and stood up slowly. She looked at the clock on the wall. It was already the next day and Kakashi had already left. She stretched her arms and legs and was about to go, but then the waitress stopped her. "You forgot this," she said as she handed Ayame the bill.
Ayame stayed up the rest of the night to read "Make-Out Violence." `We'll have something to talk about now,' the obsessed young woman thought. `It's actually quite well written. The characters are well defined. The sex parts are rather.interesting and detailed. No wonder he likes them. The movie adaptation is watered down and the characters are shallow.'
In the morning, her father asked her suspiciously, "You were out very late Ayame. Anything I should know about?"
Ayame shrugged, "Not really. Except don't drink five bottles of sake on an empty stomach. Nothing happened. I just fell asleep at the sake bar."
"Kakashi-sensei didn't bring you home?" His brow furrowed. "He doesn't seem very reliable."
"Oh, that doesn't matter. I mean, I don't expect him to carry me home. Oh crap, I hope I didn't embarrass myself."
"You know, Ayame, love is like the House Special ramen."
`Oh no here he goes again.'
"You think you're getting something special, something really great, but in reality, it's just whatever assortment of stuff that's left over from the less fancy ramen dishes and it's really not as good in comparison."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Sigh, it means.maybe Kakashi-sensei isn't that great.he just looks heavenly, sigh."
"Take that back! You take that back right now! Kakashi's the greatest! You'll see.he's.he's just not in touch with his feelings.being a shinobi and all."
Ayame's father said nothing in response. There was no point arguing with someone in love or obsessed. "It's getting late. We have to open the stand soon. Let's get going."
As the sun was setting, Sakura and Naruto dropped by the ramen stand after training. Sakura asked, "So how did it go last night?"
"I'm not sure. I can't remember. I had a bit too much to drink. Did you get to see his face?" asked Ayame. Naruto and Sakura both sighed and shook their heads sadly.
"What now? Do either of you have another plan?" asked Naruto. Sakura and Ayame both sighed and shook their heads sadly.
But Ayame did have another plan, one not fit for the ears of children. After closing, Ayame decided to go to Kakashi's home to return his book. She was nervous - her plan should work, but he seemed rather unpredictable.
Ayame rang the doorbell twice. `What if he's not home? Can I get up the courage again?' she thought while waiting anxiously . But Kakashi was home and a minute later, after Ayame rang the doorbell again and again, he answered the door. He looked as if he were ready for bed, but the lower part of his face was covered by a towel (a hot steaming towel makes it easier to shave). He was not wearing his forehead protector, so he closed his left eye.
"I just came by to return your book. It was really good, much better than I expected," Ayame said as she handed it back to him.
"Hmm, glad you liked it," Kakashi said as he took back the book, inspecting it carefully for any sign of damage.
`I can't take this anymore! He's not making any moves. Is he shy or lazy or just not interested? I'm going to have to take the initiative and jump his bones!' "If you're interested.I'm willing to.reenact any scene from the book or movie," Ayame offered while blushing the deepest shade of red possible. Her eyes were lowered as she said this, but with a great force of will, she glanced up at him.
`She's bolder and more persistent than I thought. And it might be interesting. Never had a proposition like that before,' Kakashi thought, greatly amused. Now what man can resist such temptation?
(Insert your own lemon here.)
It was morning now though Ayame could hardly sense it through Kakashi's thick dark shades that barely allowed in a single ray of light (that way no one could look through his window to see his face). She got up and picked up her clothes strewn all across the room. She then washed up and dressed. Ayame had spent most of the night awake, thinking about her life. She would have preferred cuddling, or doing it again, but Kakashi just rolled over and went to sleep. He snored, too, very annoying!
As her father would say, the noodles were long enough, but it was just plain ramen, no toppings or condiments, with a mediocre soup base. Boring, disappointing. She wasn't sure what to expect really, just something more. His idea of foreplay was to read his book. His idea of cuddling was to read his book. He did not bother to initiate any conversation. His answers to her questions were monosyllabic, evasive. None of it was what she had imagined in her waking or sleeping hours. She thought they would have these deep philosophical discussions about life and death that had nothing to do with ramen. That he'd be exciting and dangerous. And there was something else.while he was kissing her last night.
She looked over at the well built, but slender, gray-haired, dark-eyed man. He was already dressed in his shinobi uniform and sitting at his desk, checking his calendar. He seemed to be unaware of her existence. "What's my name?" she suddenly asked.
"Your name? Why? Don't you know?" Kakashi casually responded.
"I know my own name, I was just wondering if you do."
"Hmmm." A look of befuddlement came over him.
"You called me Junko last night. That's the girl from the movie.no wait.that was the guy from the movie! What the hell! Do you even know my name after all this time?"
"Umm, guess not. Wait, does it start with a."
"Forget it! You idiot! It's over! I'm outta here!"
`Obsession is like genjutsu, an illusion where you see what you expect to see. The only way to dispel an obsession is to confront it directly, to distinguish reality from fantasy, truth from expectations...'
`Nice girl, but not really my type. It's hard to discourage someone with a crush, but I think I handled it pretty well. It was really the only way to cure her obsession for me. It's best for her to break up with me. Easier for me that way, no "it's not you it's me" speech. Doesn't take much, usually by the third date women get tired of the poor treatment. Hope she doesn't hate me at least. Ayame is a nice girl, but not a kunoichi. Civilians are just not as exciting in bed. It's not like she can do kage bunshin or henge. Well, at least I got a free movie, some ramen, and a one night stand out of all this. Sigh, it's better for her to find someone more appropriate. Iruka is a really great guy.'
Ayame Wises Up
The young woman stared sadly at the roses in their vase on the counter. Some were still blooming while others had started to wilt. `Sigh, I should just throw them out, but they're so beautiful, and expensive. No one's ever going to send me flowers like that again. I'm such an idiot!' Ayame had not seen Iruka since their breakup. Her thoughts still hovered on Kakashi, but now they drifted over to Iruka once in a while. Dates with both of them were disappointing, but at least Iruka tried to be attentive. Maybe if she had given him a chance.
The sun was now casting its last rays over Konoha. The gold streaked sky was reminiscent of yellow strands of ramen floating in a soup base of clear chicken broth. Most customers had already picked up their take out orders. Pretty soon it would be time to close up and end another day of her boring pathetic life. Ayame no longer cared about making the perfect ramen. Since yesterday she had been silent and depressed, refusing to answer any of her father's questions. Her father had taken over the cooking duties again while Ayame sadly peeled and cut the vegetables, thoughtfully eyeing the knife in her hands. Now her father was in the back getting things ready for the next day. Ayame was about to start cleaning up when she heard a hesitant cough. She turned around to see Iruka sitting down at the counter.
"Hello, Iruka-sensei. It's been a while. I'm glad to see you again," she gave him a genuinely pleased smile while blushing a bit.
"Hi, er yes, umm.you're still open, right? A bowl of seafood ramen please." `Glad to see me, yeah right, she's glad to see my money. But I'll have to leave her an extra tip, or she'll think I'm holding a grudge, which I am, but I need to prove what a great guy I am.'
Ayame prepared an extra big bowl of ramen for Iruka with extra trimmings.
"Thank you, Ayame-chan."
"Say that again?"
"No the last part."
"You know my name!"
"Of course, why wouldn't I? It's not like I can just call you the ramen girl all the time."
Author's notes: This story is dedicated to Iruka in the hopes that nice guys don't finish last. In case no one noticed, only her father and Iruka called her Ayame. This continues through the series. Poor minor characters - no one remembers their names! After I finished writing this story, I found out that Ayame is 17 at the start of the series or about 18 in the present timeline, which I think is still underage in Japan, so she should not be drinking at the sake bar. This story does not endorse underage drinking! I thought she was about 22 and I'll keep to that assumption.