A more serious Kakashi/Ayame oneshot. Read the Itadakimasu stories first if you want more background on/a sillier look at the pairing!

Obviously I didn't invent Naruto - I'm not nearly that cool.


Kakashi found Ayame backing out of the shed behind Ichiraku ramen swinging what looked like a bulbous white-feathered purse in her right hand and a butcher knife in her left.

"Hi."

The knife and the chicken flew into the air. The ninja neatly caught the knife midair and dodged the clucking handbag which flapped and flailed at his face once it was free of Ayame's grasp. The waitress rounded on Kakashi.

"Must you keep doing that?"

"What did I do?" Kakashi's eyebrow rose innocently.

"You keep sneaking up on me!"

"Ah, well –" he changed tactics, "I can't help it Ayame-chan, you're just fun to scare. There aren't many people I know who I can surprise like that – Sakura and Naruto don't fall for my tricks as much anymore."

Ayame just scowled at him and sucked a finger that the chicken had pecked in surprise. She didn't need reminded of her civilian status – she knew Kakashi was surrounded by kunoichi who were more wary and wise than she was. Compared to them, Ayame knew she was helpless and clueless.

"Well – are you going to catch it for me, or what?"

When Kakashi merely looked perplexed, Ayame punctuated her question with a curt wave of her hand toward the liberated chicken which was now meandering in circles on the other side of the courtyard.

"Oh – of course." Kakashi handed the knife back to Ayame and made a big show of pushing up his sleeves and turning to stalk the hapless fowl. Ayame giggled at his shenanigans and was on the point of telling him to hurry it up when he dropped the pretense and moved like lightning to seize the chicken. Strolling back to the waitress, he held the bird in both hands at arms length, face cringing away from the panicked flapping of the chicken.

Chuckling, Ayame reached for the bird, fumbled in the feathers for a moment, then took the bird from Kakashi, one handed. She let her arm sag, dangling the chicken upside-down – once again a docile, feathery purse.

Kakashi's brow wrinkled in a confused frown. "How are you doing that?"

Ayame grinned and raised the chicken a little higher in demonstration. "You just hold its feet." The chicken flapped a little at the movement but quieted again. "I can hold three in one hand this way. The blood rushes to their little noggins, so they are too confused to fight much." With a touch of silly pride in her voice, she added, "My father can hold five in a hand."

Latching on to her inflection, Kakashi began to chuckle. "Five chickens in one hand, eh? Amazing."

Ayame rolled her eyes. "Never mind." She began to move toward the butcher block stump behind the shed.

"Hey wait!" Kakashi followed her and the chicken around to the back of the shed. Ayame turned back to him and noticed his gaze flicker from the stump to the knife she still carried in her left hand. His eye widened in surprise, and his voice dropped. "Ayame-chan – are you killing the chicken?"

Ayame raised her eyebrows and let out a short laugh. "Yes, she's stopped laying eggs, so it's time for her to be barbecued. We normally get meat from the butcher, but if a layer gets old… " Ayame trailed off and then frowned – Kakashi really looked troubled at the thought of the chicken's fate. Maybe he was teasing her again. After a beat, she decided teasing back was the best option. "Kakashi – you're a ninja – surely you're not squeamish about a little blood."

But Kakashi didn't laugh back. His brow furrowed and he studied her. Ayame paused again and held up the bird, jiggling it a little. "Kakashi-kun – it's just a chicken."

"It's not the chicken, it's…" Kakashi paused, as if he too was surprised by his feelings. "Just let me do it, okay?"

Bemused, Ayame handed over the knife. "Okay, if you want…"

They both let out nervous chuckles as Ayame awkwardly passed off the chicken into Kakashi's inexperienced grip. Then Ayame watched with a frown as her ninja efficiently did the unpleasant job of taking off the bird's head. As he stood from the feathery carcass, Ayame studied him and wordlessly handed him her apron. He wiped off his fingers, not looking her in the eye.

Ayame walked past Kakashi and picked up the bird, expertly tying its feet to the branch of a tree with some twine to let the meat drain. When she turned back, she found Kakashi watching her. He stepped forward and handed the smudged apron back to her.

"Are you going to be okay?" She absently folded the apron.

His voice held a wry chuckle in it. "Yeah, I'm fine." He paused and raised a hand to stroke Ayame's cheek. "It's just – I'd rather never see you with blood on your hands." He chuckled again as if shaking himself from daydreams. "We still on for tonight?"

Ayame nodded wordlessly, and Kakashi turned to leave.

She frowned at Kakashi's retreating form. Maybe it wasn't so bad being a civilian after all.