A/N: slice of life silliness.

Chapter Nex: Ramen A-Go-Go!

The sun was just starting to set, the usual signal for shops and side-booths to start winding down. And that applied for all of them except one. Never in the history of Ichiraku had they seen such a huge turn-out. The humble ramen shop, owned and operated by Teuchi and his daughter Ayame, was positively buzzing with passerby and onlookers.

Of course, on this day, that was to be expected. And why? Because today was the much talked about ramen eating competition between Naruto Uzumaki and his sensei, Karachi Hatake.

How the bet even started was anyone's guess but that didn't stop the gossip-mill from churning and making its usual rounds throughout the streets and homes of Konohagakure. Pretty soon, within the span of a day, it seemed everyone knew. And everyone got excited.

Which led to the massive crowd gathered around the ramen stand, spectators ranging from men, women and children, old and young, some of them even carrying flags and posters of their pick to win.

The two contestants, Naruto and Kakashi, stood just opposite one another before the empty bar.

A mischievous grin lit up the blonde's face and he folded his arms confidently. "Today's the day, Kaka-sensei."

"It most certainly is," Kakashi agreed with a small, acknowledging nod. The glow from the shop mad him look more impressive than he normally did and he glanced out at the cheering crowd. "Pretty big turn-out for such a thing, don't you think?"

To that, Naruto only rubbed under his nose with a finger, smirking still. "Heh, if the stakes weren't so high this prob'ly woulda remained low-key."

The 'stakes' were indeed the main draw for this crowd. While the start of this bet was a mystery, the wager itself was what had a majority of the Konohagakure swarming the ramen shop. Because if Naruto won tonight, Kakashi promised to finally reveal the face behind the mask. But if Kakashi prevailed then Naruto would have to dye his hair silver for half a year.

Regardless, whoever lost, Konoha won. Even Tsunade was anxiously watching from her office, her face suffused in the afterglow of the crystal ball she was so close.

"You don't know how long I've waited for this moment," Naruto began with a tone of hunger and he clenched a fist at his side. "Rumor has it you haven't shown your face since you were my age for Kami's sake!"

"Hey, hey, hey, it hasn't been that long," Kakashi said, his only visible eye giving a smile of its own. "Or has it…?"

Naruto had only opened his mouth when another voice proceeded him. "If you can't remember Naruto's probably right, sensei," Sakura chimed in. She, along with Sasuke stood closest to contestants than the crowd what with being teammates and all that.

Sasuke snorted. "Since when is Naruto right about anything?"

"I'm 'bout to rightly boot you in the ass, you jerk," Naruto growled over his shoulder. Then he faced Kakashi again with his trademark grin. "You ready?"

"Born ready, my favorite little dunce."

"Then let's do this!" Naruto yelled and his shout only served to amp the crowd up.

Almost as if summoned by his words, Teuchi and Ayame appeared behind the bar, each holding a fresh bowl of steaming ramen. They were smiling, clearly feeling the intensity of the crowd who collectively let loose a roar that could have eclipsed the Nine-Tails at its angriest.

As Naruto and Kakashi took their reserved seats right next to one another, Teuchi lifted a pair of unopened chopsticks. Ayame mimicked her father and together, they broke them apart perfectly and laid them over the bowls.

Slowly, as if preparing to run through a string of handsigns, Naruto and Kakashi brought their palms together. They closed their eyes and bowed their heads.

The noise died away into hushed murmurs as the two contestants uttered a single word.


And it began.

A great wind was born, strong enough to ruffle clothing, when Naruto and Kakashi snatched their respective chopsticks and set to eating. It was like listening to a symphony of savagery with the way they chewed, snarfed, gulped, swallowed, and slurped their ramen.

The cheering had picked up again. Flags waved sporadically. Names were called.

But then suddenly, Naruto reached over mid-bite, took hold of the bottom of Kakashi's mask, and gave the hardest tug in all of tug history. So hard that he fell out of his chair and took the bowl tumbling down with him. As it splattered to the ground, thereby all but cementing his loss, a shocked hush clutched the crowd by the throat.

For even though he was face-down, ass-up in the air, Naruto had an arm extended skyward. And in his fist, fluttering softly in the breeze, was Kakashi's mask.

In his disbelief at being rendered maskless, Kakashi was left looking quite silly. Frozen with a river of noodles hanging from his mouth and his cheeks bulging, his entire face was on display.

And then a great majority of the females simply passed out.

Followed by a great majority of the men suddenly rubbing their chins and muttering ruefully under their breath.

But it was Naruto who laughed. Long and hard, victoriously. "HA! Even when I lose, I WIN!"

~~~The Next Day~~~

Still beaming, Naruto gladly hung upside-down by his ankles far above the ground. Still beaming, Naruto gladly accepted the fact that his hair was now a bright sterling silver, probably for the rest of his life. And, still beaming, Naruto didn't mind the occasional kunai or shuriken that came whizzing his way, intent on embedding itself in his flesh.

No, he didn't mind any of that, and why? Because he—indeed nearly half of Konoha —had finally seen Kakashi's legendary face.

Another kunai came whizzing in his direction and he pivoted, avoiding a pierced kidney.

"Still enjoying that victory, deadlast?" Sasuke asked, scoffing at his miss.

"You damn straight I am, jerkbait."

Sakura rolled her eyes as she half-heartedly flung another kunai, purposefully missing. "What an idiot…."

Naruto's smile grew ear-to-ear. "An idiot who pulled off the perfect plan, don't forget that part n-"

A shuriken pinged off Naruto's forehead protector.

"And that's once, you're dead," Kakashi said with some twisted mirth, casually twirling a kunai around his finger. "Let's see how many times we can kill you."