Victim @thiccanko
Chapter 1: Right Place at the Right Time

Panting was heard in the northwestern portion of Konohagakure as Naruto Uzumaki sprinted down its wide streets. The sun had just finished setting, and the street lamps posted throughout the village provided adequate lighting to help its citizens see where they're going. Most people were either at home or heading home, unlike the blonde currently zooming through the streets at top speed.

The thing about taking naps is that sometimes you never know how long the nap will end up being. Naruto fell victim to this when his fifteen-minute nap turned into a three-hour snooze. And it was for this reason that he ran down the streets to his favorite place to eat, Ichiraku Ramen. Ichiraku's usually closes just after sundown, and had Naruto set an alarm for his nap, he wouldn't currently be in the situation of having to hastily run to Ichiraku's to provide dinner for himself. Naruto ran out of instant ramen at his house, which usually held him over if Ichiraku's was unavailable, and Naruto refused to resort to a Plan C if he could help it.

After skidding around a corner, Ichiraku's was in sight. The lights in the bar area were off, but the ones in the kitchen were still lit, which meant that if he acted fast, maybe he could convince Old Man Teuchi to fix him a bowl or two.

"I still got a chance!" Naruto said to himself as he approached the establishment.

However, as he got closer, he heard some very strange noises coming from the back of the restaurant, making him slow to a tiptoe. He could hear what sounded like a concerning amount of shuffling and clattering, as well as grunts from both a male and a female voice. It was also then that he noticed how this area of the village was pretty desolate, as he couldn't spot a soul within a mile of his vicinity.

Being precautious, Naruto was just outside the entrance, peeking through the curtains of the shop to see exactly what was going on. Naruto had been there more than enough times to become familiar with Teuchi's and Ayame's voices, and he identified Ayame's voice, but knew that the male voice he heard most definitely wasn't Teuchi's.

With his hunger currently forgotten about, the Uzumaki shifted himself into 'stealth mode', as he quickly entered the area, setting himself low to the ground behind the bar counter. Now that he was closer, he could hear the conversation going on in the kitchen, and Naruto was not happy with what he heard.

"P-Please, just go!" He hears Ayame's panicked exclaim, which was immediately followed up with more shuffling and clattering.

"Shut up! Make one more outburst like that and I promise you'll regret it..." Was the response from the unknown voice that sounded aggressive, but hushed, "Now tell me where your hidden stash is. I know you guys are loaded with the business you bring in, and I'm not taking no for a fucking answer."

"I told you, we don't have a hidden stash!" Ayame cried out before she let out a loud exclaim that sounded as if it were in response to a nonverbal warning for her to lower her voice, "N-Now please go! I'll do anything for you to leave me alone...!"

There was a brief pause before Naruto heard a very disturbing chuckle, "Hm... anything, you say?"

"Y-Yes! Take whatever you want from here, I don't care! Just leave me alone!" Ayame begged. Naruto heard more disturbing laughter, which made Naruto grit his teeth.

"Maybe if you can service me as a 'customer' until I'm satisfied, I'm sure we could work something out..."

More shuffling was heard within the kitchen, followed by Ayame's distressed yelps.

"H-Hey, don't touch me! G-Get the hell away from me! Get off!"

Naruto heard enough.

"Didn't I tell you to shut the f—?!"

"HEY." Naruto called, stepping into the kitchen with a kunai grasped firmly in his hand, "This is your first and only warning. Get away from her."

Naruto caught the invader with his hand on her breast, pressing the chef's daughter against one of the walls in the back of the kitchen. The obese man looked over his shoulder at the boy, grimacing before he quickly grabbed a knife from the sink beside him and placed Ayame in front of him, the knife placed right in front of her throat.

"Kid, you'd better mind your own business before things get uglier than it has to." Grunted the man, placing the blade of the knife against Ayame's skin, "Trying to be a hero could get this woman killed. Do you want that on your conscience?"

Naruto shook his head. This man wasn't a shinobi. He was a villager. One that looked as though he spends a majority of his time reading and looking at explicit material for hours on end. For this individual to think that he could try to get away with robbing his favorite restaurant when he was equipped with many different techniques and methods to handle regular villagers was something that made Naruto wonder if the guy was more stupid than he was creepy.

The blonde met Ayame's panicked gaze and sent her a look of reassurance that told her that he wasn't going to let anything happen to her. This allowed Ayame to feel a lot better about the situation, despite still being immensely terrified.

"I told ya, that was your first and final warning. You should have listened." Was all Naruto said from across the kitchen. This seemed to anger the man with two chins, as he gripped onto the knife tighter.

It was then that the man realized that he wasn't even holding a knife anymore.

As he began to wonder exactly how the hell he managed to lose track of a knife that was just in his hand, his eyes fell upon another blonde boy wearing an orange and black jumpsuit that looked exactly like the one in front of him. This copy of him was holding the knife he had, shaking his head at the poor fool.

"This is the last time I'm going to say it." Naruto said, cocking the knife back to ready himself to throw it right at the man's forehead, "Let her go. Now."

Frightened at the boy's abilities, the robber released the girl and placed his hands in the air. Ayame ran over to the real Naruto, shakily clinging onto him from behind.

"A-Alright kid, you win! I let her go! Now put the knife down, nobody has to get hurt here..." Said the frazzled man. Naruto thought for a second before nodding and placing the knife back into the sink. While the man breathed out a sigh a relief, Naruto and his clone both shook their head yet again.

"Nah." Said the real Naruto, crossing his arms as his clone cracked its knuckles, "You're still gonna get hurt. Just not by a knife."

Twenty punches later, the man had been beaten into a black and blue mess before ANBU ops had found them and detained him. Once the man was taken away, Ayame and Naruto were left just outside the ramen bar, alone.

"Thank you for being there, Naruto." Said Ayame as she fixed and adjusted her clothes, "I don't know what would have happened if you didn't show up..."

Naruto smiled, "I guess I was just at the right place at the right time."

"That, you were." Nodded Ayame, "Seriously, I appreciate it. I'll be sure to tell my dad to give you free bowls of ramen on the house for the next two weeks."

As much as Naruto loved to hear that, he found it was best to stay modest, "That's not necessary, Ayame."

"It's the least I can do." The brunette insisted, "That guy was crazy, and if you hadn't have shown up, he might have hurt me... or would have tried to r—"

Ayame cut herself off, choosing not to say the word. She simply closed her eyes and tried to stop herself from tearing up. Naruto noticed the shift in the atmosphere and did what he could to console her.

"Hey hey... It's alright, Ayame. I know its scary, but I protected you and you won't be hearing from that guy ever again." Naruto reassured her. Ayame's only response consisted of stepping forward into Naruto's chest, using his jacket to soak up her tears.

The Jinchuuriki placed his arms around her comfortingly, sighing as Ayame began to gently sob into his chest.

After a few minutes of Ayame getting her emotions out, Naruto suggested that he walk her home so she can rest. Ayame agreed to the plan and walked with the boy to her residence in near silence, as her sniffling would break the quiet air every so often.

Soon enough, Ayame navigated Naruto successfully to her apartment door, standing directly in front of it.

"Thanks for walking me home, Naruto." She said without looking at him, "I don't know, I just... My dad isn't as young he used to be, and this job is taking a lot out of him. He's been leaving the shop earlier, leaving it up to me to close at night. I don't mind it, but I know that's when the 'weirdos' come out." She then sighed, "I just wish I wasn't so defenseless."

Naruto thought to himself for a second before an idea abruptly interrupted said thoughts, "Hey, tell you what; if you're really that adamant on giving me free ramen, in exchange, I could serve as your bodyguard! I'm always here just before you guys close anyway." He proposed.

Ayame looked up at him, shocked, "You'd do that for me?"

"Of course." He nodded, "I'll do whatever I can to make sure something like that doesn't happen again."

The cooking assistant looked at Naruto with happy but concerned eyes, "Only if it's not too much trouble..."

Naruto shook his head, "Not at all. It's like I said, I'm always there anyway. Not only that, but you and Old Man Teuchi were the first two people to have ever treated me with kindness..." He stated before giving her a serious look, "You guys are precious to me, and I'll protect you no matter what."

Naruto was slightly surprised when Ayame ambushed him in a tight hug, "... Thank you, Naruto. That means more than you think."

The genin smiled as he hugged her back, "Don't mention it."

The hug lasted longer than both of them would have expected, but neither of them complained. They then separated, and Naruto began to take his leave. He may still be hungry, but he couldn't make Ayame cook for him after what happened.

"I guess I'll let you rest up." Naruto started, "If you need anything—"

"Don't go." Ayame mumbled hesitantly, interrupting him, "I mean... I just don't feel safe after what happened. I know that ANBU took the guy away, but... I don't want to be alone. Not after how he..."

Naruto nodded as her words died in her throat, understanding her point, "Er, I understand. If that'll help you feel safer tonight, then I don't mind at all."

Ayame smiled, thanking Kami for making it possible for them to have crossed paths. Naruto's warmth and energy was something that she felt drawn to, and it was actually a phenomenon that started to occur when Naruto returned after his training trip. He got older, more mature. Obviously, Naruto will always be Naruto, but even when he was a kid, she enjoyed his company. Now, she enjoyed it in a different way that she couldn't particularly describe. She may still be a bit older than him, but Ayame found a lot of things in Naruto that she would probably never be able to find in men her age, or even older.

The pair entered the apartment, and before Naruto could even comment on how nice her home was, he was interrupted by a very loud and questionable sound coming from the pit of his stomach.

Both Ayame and Naruto were silent for a second before Ayame seemed surprised, as if just realizing something.

"Oh gosh, Naruto! You must've come to the restaurant to eat, right?" She asked.

Naruto nodded sheepishly, "Aha... yeah, kinda."

Ayame immediately turned around, going off into one of the rooms, "I'm gonna change out of this uniform and make you some of the best ramen you've ever had."

"That's not necessary!" Naruto said politely as she turned into her room, "You must be tired. I don't want you to—"



"I'm going to make you some ramen."

Naruto laughed to himself nervously due to the playful, but not so playful tone that he heard from the other room, "If you insist."

Two minutes later, Ayame emerged from her room in nothing but a red oversized t-shirt that reached the middle of her thighs and a pair of knee-high socks. She looked over at Naruto and stated, "Please, get comfortable. Take a seat and get settled in while I make dinner."

Ayame blinked as Naruto didn't respond, almost as though he didn't hear her.

"Um... Naruto?"

The blonde genin was too caught up in his very loud thoughts upon seeing Ayame in something other than her kitchen uniform. The first thing he noticed was how smooth her legs looked. Ayame was a short woman, standing at a proud five foot, two inches, and before Naruto's trip, she was known to be very thin. However, as she began to hit her twenties, her figure had filled out more, particularly in her lower body region. Her thighs looked as soft as pillows, and while they weren't particularly meaty, they were thick enough to where they would touch when she walked. And in combination with her wide hips and slim waist, it would make one wonder how her figure could look so appealing for someone who works around food all day.

Not only that, but Ayame seemed to have discarded the white bandana that she wore with her uniform, and tied her hair back into a low ponytail. Her hair was longer than it looked in her uniform, as her shiny brown hair reached straight down to her backside. The ponytail also managed to accentuate her facial features, as Naruto was caught off guard by how much prettier she looked when she was already pretty in her usual attire.

Ayame walking over to him slowly seemed to have snapped Naruto out of his mental block, shaking his head, "Err, sorry... I spaced out there for a second."

She seemed concerned, "Is everything okay?"

Naruto nodded, "Yeah, everything's fine! I just, um... I've never seen you outside of your uniform..."

"Oh." Ayame said with a slight blush, "Is... what I'm wearing bothering you? I admit that I just threw this on without thinking because I'm not used to having company." She confessed.

Naruto shook his head, even though he knew that Ayame walking around in her current attire was something that he was going to struggle to deal with, "N-No, you're fine! You're just... very pretty."

This made Ayame's blush a lot more profound, "O-Oh, thank you." She then decided to tease him a bit, "Wow, Naruto, I never suspected you to be a flirt."

The embarrassment seemed to have shifted over to Naruto as she said that, "I-I wasn't flirting! I—"

"I'm just kidding." She stated with a laugh, "But I genuinely appreciate the compliment."

"Not a problem!" Naruto said, rubbing his head again.

Ayame smiled and began walking to the kitchen, "As I was saying, make yourself comfortable. Ramen doesn't take very long to make, so dinner should be done momentarily."

Naruto nodded and decided to take off his jacket, revealing the black t-shirt underneath. As he did so, an idea came to him just as Ayame began bringing out her cookware.

"I can help you make it if you want!" Naruto proposed. Ayame turned back to look at him with surprise evident on her features.

"You know how to make homemade ramen?" She asked.

"No, but I can learn!" Was Naruto's reply, "If you're willing to teach me, of course."

The brunette tapped a finger against her chin in deep thought, "Well... I want to make it for you myself as a token of gratitude since you've done more than enough for me today. But I can teach you if you really insist."

"I do insist." Naruto said with a smile, "At least this way I can learn how to make it myself when I'm at home instead of relying on instant ramen."

"I feel as though that would hurt my dad's business." Said Ayame with a teasing tone, "If I teach you how to make ramen yourself, you might never come back to Ichiraku's."

"Doubt it. Not only would I not be able to make it as well as you and your dad, but I'll always go just to be around good people."

Ayame blushed and smiled. She was beginning to really wonder why it was that Naruto's energy made her feel so... warm.

Doing her best to shake her nerves, Ayame decided to disguise her flustered feelings with playful humor, "Well then, get your butt in here. And wash your hands before you touch anything!"

Within the following forty-five minutes, Ayame spent her time giving Naruto step-by-step directions towards making his own bowl of ramen. She coached him through the process while being sure to tell Naruto to keep his wrist steady when adding certain seasonings to the dish. She was patient and gave detailed instructions that ultimately caused Naruto to make a near perfect bowl of ramen, as if it were made by Teuchi himself. She even went as far as to teach him how to cook the pork strips, considering how pork ramen was his favorite.

"Wow, good job, Naruto!" Complimented Ayame as she hovered her nose above the big pot to inhale its fumes, "You did great! I give it an A plus!"

Naruto grinned cheesily, "Ah, well, you guided me through the steps so I can't take all the credit."

"You did better than me when my dad first tried to show me how to make ramen." Ayame said.

"Yeah, but I'm sure you were a lot younger than me then."

"That's beside the point." Chuckled Ayame, "Either way, you did a good job! Let me make our bowls while you get the table ready."

Pretty soon, Naruto had set up the dining table while Ayame placed the soup in two separate bowls and placed them on either side of the table. After a quick 'Itadakimasu!', followed with a separation of their chopsticks, Naruto and Ayame began to dig in.

After taking his first bite, Naruto sighed as his stomach was finally getting what it wanted, "Man... this is really going to hit the spot. As good as it is, it doesn't taste as good as yours and your dad's!"

Ayame had just taken her first bite as well, and Ayame nodded, "It's actually right on par, in my opinion! You did really well, Naruto."

Naruto grinned, "You're just saying that to make me feel better."

"I don't care to spare your feelings, Naruto-kun. If it sucked, I'd be sure to tell you." She teased jokingly, taking another bite.

"Well, I appreciate the honesty." Replied Naruto with a small huff of a laugh. The pair then continued to eat in comfortable silence, and before too long, Naruto was finished with his bowl in about ten minutes. Shockingly, Ayame wasn't too far behind him, as she finished eating her noodles just as Naruto finished drinking his broth.

A loud burp came from Naruto just as Ayame finished drinking her broth. Ayame followed suit with a burp of her own that was boisterous, yet dainty.

"Wow." Naruto commented, wiping his mouth with a paper towel, "You put it away almost as fast as I did."

Ayame reclined back a bit and patter her stomach, "Yeah, I was pretty hungry myself. I didn't even realize exactly how hungry I was until I started eating."

"You mean to tell me that you don't eat some of the ramen when you cook?" Asked Naruto, eliciting a laugh from Ayame.

"Of course not. When its time to work, it's my job to help make the food, not eat it." She sent him a teasing smirk, "I take it that you're not the type to wait for a lunch break, huh?"

"Nope!" Declared Naruto proudly, "If I was working at Ichiraku's I'd be making sure I was getting my fair share!"

"Well then, it's good that you don't work with me then." Said the woman with a light laugh. Naruto shook his head, obviously joking about the matter. Ayame then got up and grabbed her and Naruto's empty bowls and putting them in the sink. When she turned around, she frowned as she saw Naruto putting his orange jacket back on.

"Alright Ayame, it's getting pretty late, and I bet you're pretty tired. I appreciate the food and hospitality!" Naruto started, gearing up to take his leave. Ayame hesitating before walking toward Naruto until she was directly in front of him. Naruto paused just as he was about to zip his jacket, and was shocked to see Ayame looking at him with what seemed like... worry?

"Don't go..." Pleaded Ayame softly, eliciting a surprise from Naruto who didn't expect her shift in energy, "I um... I don't want you to go. I was actually wondering if you would spend the night..."

Naruto was caught off guard by her proposal.

Ayame noticed the shock in his features and decided to elaborate, "If you don't want to, I completely understand. And I know this probably isn't something you'd expect, but... I don't want to be alone tonight. Not considering..."

The Uzumaki's facial expression relaxed as he realized what she meant.

"Yeah." Naruto nodded with a small smile, "I don't mind staying over if you want."

"Really?" Confirmed Ayame, a hopeful look in her eyes. Naruto nodded again, which made Ayame run into him with a tight hug, making Naruto hug her back.

Again, the hug lasted much longer than either of them had anticipated. But neither of them complained.

"May I have a blanket and a pillow?" Asked Naruto once they separated, gesturing towards the couch. To his surprise, Ayame shook her head.

"No need." A light blush then tinted her cheeks, "I actually, um... the couch isn't that comfortable, and I'd feel safer if we shared a bed... if that's okay."

It was Naruto's turn to blush.

He didn't really know what to say. On one hand, he wanted to accept, but felt that doing so might elicit her to think he was too eager to accept if he did it immediately. And on the other hand, he wanted to refuse, but didn't want to offend her in her own home. He also didn't know how to feel about the situation himself. A big part of him wanted to share a bed with Ayame, while a smaller part told him that it wouldn't be morally correct to do so.

Seeing the very evident conflict in his eyes, Ayame continued further, "If it's something that makes you uncomfortable, you can say so and I'll apologize for asking that of you."

Naruto shook his head, "N-No, it's just... I want to if it'll help you feel safer. You'd just be the first girl I'd have shared a bed with." He admitted. This actually shocked Ayame quite a bit. Naruto was young, but he was also a looker, in her opinion, and she was almost certain Naruto would have gotten farther than a platonic relationship at some point with a woman his age.

Unfortunately for Naruto, Ayame used this knowledge as ammo to tease him, "Well, all I ask is that you don't go around spreading rumors. I have a reputation I have to keep intact."

"I could say the same to you!" Naruto shot back, making her giggle. The pair continued teasing each other a bit more until Ayame yawned.

"We should probably get ready for bed, then." Said Naruto, where Ayame agreed. He then followed her into her bedroom consisting of a full-size futon with minor decorations here and there. The room was dimly lit with the moonlight that shone in from the window, a perfect setting to drift off into slumberland.

Ayame excused herself into the bathroom, and Naruto took the moment to undress his pants and jacket, neatly fold them in a corner, and get into bed. The brown-haired Ichiraku employee emerged from the restroom and got into bed with him. She laid down on her side, away from Naruto and the window. Naruto was on his back, staring up at the ceiling.

"Thank you, Naruto. For everything." She said genuinely. Naruto smiled in response, happy that Ayame always treated him with utmost sincerity and kindness.

"Anything for you, Ayame-chan."

Naruto realized that he added the suffix to her name unconsciously. Ayame noticed this too, who was a bit bug-eyed for a quick second until she ended up blushing again.

The air was awkwardly silent until Ayame chose to speak up, "Goodnight, Naruto-kun."

Naruto was very shocked when she followed up by rolling over, giving him a peck on the cheek, and rolling back to her previous position. He brushed his fingertips against the said cheek and smiled to himself.

"Goodnight, Ayame-chan."

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