Ichiraku

Summary: It was supposed to be another usual day at the Ichiraku Ramen Stand. It was supposed to be another usual day with customers coming and going. It was supposed to be another usual day with a young blonde-haired genin coming to eat. It was supposed to be another usual day at Ichiraku… But when a question was asked, a whole slew of events began to occur. Memories, promises, battles, and people of the past came flooding back as stories began to unfold in this tiny little ramen stand. Today was just not another usual day at the Ichiraku Ramen Stand.

Pairings: It changes in certain chapters, but the major pairings to look out for in this story are: Sasuke/Sakura, Naruto/Sakura. Which will it end with? I won't ruin it for you, so just read on.

Please note that the romance develops very slowly in this story so I ask that you please be patient. It will come.

Disclaimer: I do not, nor will I ever own Naruto.

Chapter 1:

Just Another Usual Day

The sounds of hissing from the stove and the chattering of people could be heard in one particular ramen stand. It was bustling with commotion as a young waitress served the orders of several people. For the Ichiraku Ramen Stand, it was always normal for it to be busy during this time of the day. But, as the owner of the stand already knew, it was also normal for the commotion to abruptly stop whenever a young, blond-haired genin stepped foot inside the tiny restaurant. The whole place would then be filled with whispers and glares before the visitors made their leave. In the end, only the sizzling sound coming from the stove would reign over the ramen stand. This never stopped the young waitress from greeting their customer, however.

"Ah! Naruto-kun! Welcome!" The young woman greeted the blond.

"Hey, Ayame-neechan…" Naruto replied.

"Eh? Is something wrong, Naruto-kun?"

Naruto seemed to break away from his thoughts and rubbed the back of his head.

"A-Ah… Hehe… Sorry about that, Ayame-neechan. I-I was just thinking that's all, hehe…" Naruto replied, a little embarrassed at his behavior.

Ayame giggled. "Well, come in and have a seat. What would you like for today?"

"I want some spicy shrimp ramen, old man!" Naruto exclaimed to the burly man cooking on the stove.

"Oi, Naruto! You gonna pay, this time?"

"Of course, old man! I just got paid for my recent mission! Besides, you shouldn't be complaining! Without me, you're business would've been gone a long time ago!"

The owner smiled. "Always full of energy, aren't ya, Naruto? Haha, well I wouldn't expect anything less from my number one customer, after all."

Naruto grinned. He sat down on a stool and waited before Ayame came back with his order a few minutes later.

"Here, you are, Naruto-kun. Enjoy!" Ayame said with a smile.

"Thanks, Ayame-neechan!" Naruto replied as he started to gulp down his ramen bowl immediately.

The young waitress couldn't help but giggle at his behavior as she watched him eat his food energetically. To think, that this young man had always been coming to this ramen stand since he was very little. Ayame couldn't help but wonder.

"Umm… Hey, Naruto-kun? Why is it that you always come here everyday? There's a lot more ramen stands in Konoha than just us you know," Ayame suddenly asked.

The question seemed to surprise Naruto as he began to choke on a ramen noodle.

"Ah, sorry! sorry!" Ayame exclaimed as she handed Naruto a glass of water. "Here, drink this."

Naruto drank the water in three gulps. "Hah… that felt good."

"Sorry about that Naruto-kun," the young woman apologized.

"Eh? Ah, don't worry about it. I just ate too fast is all." Naruto replied.

A moment of silence seemed to pass between them before Ayame finally broke it.

"Umm… about the question I asked earlier... You don't have to answer it if you don't want to." Ayame told the young man sitting in front of her.

"It's alright, Ayame-neechan… I can tell you why. Actually, it was one of my happiest memories when I was still little." Naruto replied with a small smile.

The blonde's reply seemed to get the owner's attention as he immediately stopped whatever he was doing.

"But before I can tell you the story, I have a favor to ask..." Naruto began.

"Sure, Naruto-kun. What do you need?" Ayame asked with a smile.

Naruto leaned in closer and whispered to the waitress, "Can you give me the next bowl of ramen for free?"

Ayame couldn't help but laugh at his request. The owner also seemed to have heard as well and began to chuckle to himself.

"Oi, Naruto! You may be keeping this business alive for now, but I swear that it'll also be you who'll make me go bankrupt someday, always asking for free ramen..." the old man started to say to the genin, "…But for today, I'll overlook it…" he finished as he set down a new bowl of ramen in front of the blonde.

"Haha! Thanks, old man! You haven't changed a bit since I met you all those years ago." Naruto smiled at the burly man.

"And you're attitude's still as childish as before," the old man retorted back with a grin.

Ayame looked puzzled as she watched the two in front of her talk to each other.

"Ah, well, anyway, it looks like you better answer her question, Naruto. It looks like she's getting more confused," the old man said, pointing to Ayame with a befuddled expression on her face.

Naruto gave a light chuckle at the young woman's state. "Well, Ayame-neechan. I'll answer your question now… It'll be better if I tell you what exactly happened that day, a few years ago…"

Ayame listened carefully as Naruto began his story—the day he chose to come eat at the tiny ramen stand known as Ichiraku.

A/N: I know, I know… this chapter's very short, but I intended it to be that way. Read on if you want to know why.

I was playing the song Piano Man on the piano, when I thought up of this idea of stories at a bar. I thought it would be pretty cool if I could do it with the Naruto cast, so I started doing some outlines and this is what I came up with.

Anyway, expect this story to be going from past to present from now on. The chapters have been outlined in a way so that it will not confuse the reader. This chapter, for example is actually supposed to be longer since it contains the flashback with Naruto, but I wanted to make it so that the flashbacks would be in different chapters so I separated them. Also, there will be short chapters and very long chapters depending on the story being told. Just so everyone knows, the whole story has already been written on an outline. The individual chapters just have not been written yet.

Also, concerning the pairings… Please read above the disclaimer. Everything is explained there. And once again, I must stress that the romance will develop slowly. So I ask that everyone to please be patient with it.

Well, 'till next time!

This chapter has not been beta-read.