Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

Here is a multi-chapter drama exploring the KakaAya possibility. Through narrative, The Pickle Jar explores Kakashi's newly acquired rank of Hokage, Ayame's civilian status, and how the two social classes clash with mistakes, romance, spirituality, and pickles.

This fanfiction pairs Kakashi with Ayame, the Ramen Girl. Since Ayame is such a minor, un-flushed character I basically develop most of her background and idiosyncratic traits. Because she's such a miniscule part of the manga/anime, to create a "realistic" life for her I had to create some OCs. The plot is definitely fluff and romantic drama between the Hokage and the Ramen Girl but there is a tiny mission plot that's mostly to flush out Kakashi's role as the Hokage and present a possible idea how it can affect a romantic interest/partner in his life. But it is very minor!

But primarily I wrote this because Kakashi deserves all the fluff!

Chapter 1

Blue and black galaxies were not enough to encompass the entire human condition nor could one night with a beautiful woman compensate for a lonely childhood.

Kakashi awoke and touched his temple, cognizant of the forming headache. Without effort, his mind placed the spicy scent that roused him. The scent. It was tinted with salt and blood and—no. His whole body tensed. It coiled tight and he slammed an arm down. The wooden floor creaked under the pressure. He winced.

The previous Hokages were probably rolling around in their graves. Except Tsunade, of course. She would be rolling her eyes.

His hand was perfumed by a blood-tinged aroma. Heat crept up his neck and he was embarrassed. God help him, he was the Rokudaime Hokage. The entirety of the present situation was absurd and unwarranted and—it was improper. Impropriety: something he never thought he would feel as a man in his mid-thirties. Being the leader of the continent's most powerful village never felt so daunting until that very moment. The steps that would need to be taken—she was gone.

He lay on unfamiliar carpet warmed by his flesh, half covered by a decorated quilt and surrounded by pillows and blankets. She was probably just as embarrassed. Perhaps even overcome with hatred and regret. This was her home and she was not there to kick him out. She would not do that to her leader, now would she? He had not drunk much sake—of course the Hokage wouldn't—but just enough. It had been enough strong drink to convince himself that following Ichiraku Ayame home after the Uzumaki wedding was a perfectly acceptable idea and—

Kakashi sat up.

The world did not spin and his head did not hurt half as much as he would have preferred. He glanced left. The sofa. It was plushy white and on it rested a ridiculous flower-shaped pillow, his stupid, stupid formal attire, and a tell-tale stain.

Ichiraku Ayame hung her apron on the rack. It was closing time and Otousan had gone home. She had finally, finally finished cleaning the catering equipment after they closed up the ramen bar and sent the employees home. She should have done it all by midday. Well, that certainly had not happened. She had arrived after midday. She sneaked out of her own home at sunrise and done the mother of all walks around the village. Returning home in the afternoon, she had avoided eye contact with the living room and washed up for work.

Otousan had been upset at her tardiness. However, when he had seen the miserable mood she carried, stumbling in, he sobered and told her to go home. She mumbled the standard "I'm okay" and proceeded to the back of the shop and cleaned everything. Twice. No one bothered her. Although, it was hard to miss the fleeting looks of concern and curiosity, because Ramen Girl was never down in the dumps and really, what could have happened?

Ayame sat down on the terracotta tiles. She pressed her back against the storage door, where all serving equipment was kept. She felt so…so sore. Biting her lip, she remembered. Oh God above, she remembered what she'd done with the Hokage of all people.

He had been so sweet at the wedding, having been assigned to the same table as her. Apparently, ramen and ninja nobility were equal in value to Naruto.

Naruto thought of her and her father like family, he said so when they had been amazed at the seating arrangements. It had only made sense that Naruto sat them with Sakura and the others. Hatake Kakashi sat to her left. He made pleasant small talk with her. Twice he'd made her snort in laughter. Sitting side by side, she had noticed him pocket a trembling hand as he gave a speech of how proud he was of Naruto. Mid-wedding, many got up to dance. She squirmed in her seat, working up the courage to ask him, when he beat her to it. He had smelled so nice—at the end of the slow dance she dared to kiss him on the exposed part of his cheek before stumbling away, pink faced when he had stared at her a little too seriously.

She had been crushing on him for the past year.

Ayame covered her face with her hands, unsure of what to do. She wanted to take it all back. She hadn't drunk at all because she didn't do that. Not even at weddings. Sake was super gross. Yesterday, she had gone home a couple hours early. Too early, really. She started feeling bad about the fact that Naruto was getting married at nineteen and she was twenty-three and never been kissed. And…and she had felt rejected by the tight-eyed smile Kakashi forced after she pecked his cheek. So she had left. She had left with her tail between her legs and chagrined. She had no right taking such liberties with the Hokage of Konohagakure, in public no less.

But then he showed up with a tired look and a shrug of the shoulders. Just like that.

Imagine her surprise when she got out of the shower and Kakashi was knocking at the door. She opened and he asked to come in. She let him, of course. He was the village kage and she couldn't say no—nor did she really want to say no. After all, this was Kakashi—witty, clever, strong Kakashi. And even if she had initially been half convinced he was there to scold her, the ludicrous thought of him wagging an angry finger at her vanished the moment he kissed her and kissed her good.

Her eyes watered at remembering the whole debacle, but she did not cry.

She had let him. Yes. She had let him kiss her because she wanted to kiss him, even if she had trouble keeping up and he tasted like sake. She had let him lay her on the couch because it made the kiss better. And…and she didn't stop him from touching her more because if she told him to stop, if she asked him to wait—to leave her robe on— he'd go away and never come back and never, ever return her feelings. And if she said, no, please—I'm not ready—she would be fifty by the time anyone loved her.

I broke my heart this mornin',

Ain't got no heart no more.

Next time a man comes near me

Gonna shut an' lock my door

Cause they treat me mean—

The ones I love.

They always treat me mean.

-Langston Hughes, 'Cora'