So A Guy Walks Into a Bar

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So this is, you know, totally Chevira's fault. I was reading her recent fic "Cure My Tragedy", remarked I'd like to see the scene afterwards where Kakashi gets himself good and drunk, and she's like "Write it!" So here it is. With spontaneous Asuma. You can consider this an unofficial sequel to Chevira's fic, which you should read because oh my she's VERY good. Look up Chevira Lowe in the FFN search box.

Chevira's fic could be set anywhere you please, but this sequel is set in the narrow space between the Chuunin exams and when Itachi comes to Konoha. Basically, in anime terms, we'll pretend a significant amount of time passed between episode 80 and episode 81.

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Asuma is passing by the hospital when he sees Kakashi on his way out, hands shoved in his pockets. They pass within a few feet of each other, and Kakashi looks like he could use a drink right about now. So Asuma offers.

"Oi, Kakashi, you headed home? Not busy? I could use a buddy for the evening," he says with a wide grin, making a motion as if tipping back a sake cup. Kakashi appears to consider the offer for a moment before shrugging a little.

"That depends. Are you buying?"

Which means he's accepted. Asuma laughs as he leans over to clap Kakashi companionably on the shoulder. "Hah, you wish."

Kakashi laughs once in return, and they head down the street together. Asuma observes the other man surrepititiously, or as much so as it is possible to be from one Jounin to another. It may just be his imagination, but he thinks Kakashi's dark eye looks a little red-rimmed.

Even when that single eye has the look of a man who would really like to forget the rest of the world exists right at the moment, Kakashi rarely agrees to go out drinking with Asuma, or anybody else, as far as he knows. That he's actually tagging along tonight makes Asuma even more glad he asked, because Kakashi rarely wants to get himself drunk enough to unwind that careful self-control while there are other people around, and if the prospect sounds acceptable to him tonight then he's in a state of mind in which Asuma wouldn't feel comfortable sending him home on his own. They've learned over the years that there are times when it's better to just not let Kakashi be by himself, no matter how much he insists.

But he's not insisting now, and Asuma will gladly supervise as he drinks himself into oblivion. Maybe it's not the most healthy coping measure, but damned if he can think of anything better for a guy like Kakashi. And it's not like he's one to talk, either. The first opportunity he got after his grandpa died - after Konoha lost its Hokage - he went and got himself thoroughly sloshed. Kurenai had to carry him home. Lucky she's a very strong lady.

They find themselves eventually on Konoha's main bar street and duck into Asuma's favorite little dive, a place on the corner where the music isn't too loud and the customers aren't too obnoxious. The Yamato-ya is a favorite of many shinobi of his acquaintance, and their influence keeps it quiet and dark and secretive, just the way the ninja like it. If he was here by himself he'd just sit down at the bar, but since he's with Kakashi, they take the booth in the back corner. It's out of the way, which Kakashi likes, and there's a clear view of the front door and most of the other tables from here, which Asuma has to admit he doesn't mind much either. A Jounin is never really off-duty.

They order their sake and some appetizers, which he doubts Kakashi will touch, and Asuma leans back and stretches out his arms, resting his elbows atop the back of the booth in a relaxed pose. Kakashi slouches a little, crossing his arms over his chest, and looks off to one side as though expecting their waitress any moment.

"So, what was the big deal today?" Asuma asks, gently but not too gently. There is a certain way to handle Kakashi.

"Not until I'm a lot drunker than I am now," Kakashi refuses him bluntly, looking irritated or perhaps almost disgusted, leaning his head back against the seat to gaze up at the ceiling for a moment.

Asuma laughs a little, to hide his wince. "Got it. In that case, uh, how're your kids? Haven't seen 'em recently." He'd caught glimpses of them at the funeral, of course, but it's been a few weeks and he'd had other things on his mind at the time. "Naruto and the Uchiha kid still at each other's throats?"

He says it mostly just to have something to say - silence is far too awkward for his tastes - though he's not entirely sure he'll get an answer. When he's in a good mood, Kakashi tries to be polite and make conversation, and maybe even enjoys it, but a people person he is most emphatically not. Asuma decides he won't feel particularly offended if Kakashi just sits there and stares at the ceiling beams for a while longer. Something big obviously went down today.

Kakashi shrugs and looks back at him. "...Sometimes. They seem to be getting better about that the longer they're stuck around each other. I've been stressing the teamwork aspect since I first started with them." Some unreadable expression flickers across his single eye for a moment, and Asuma knows he's thinking about something painful and regretting it, and probably beating himself up for it, and Asuma valiantly resists the urge to smack him upside the head and tell him to stop being so damn... what's the word...

Hell, so damn Kakashi. Yeah, that about covers it. The guy can mood-swing like nobody else Asuma knows, and that includes Kurenai on her favorite week of the month.

The drinks and the food show up about then, and as predicted Kakashi completely ignores the appetizers, pouring himself a cup of sake. He waits until the waitress is gone to pull down his mask, and gulps it like it was water. This time Asuma hides his wince by turning his face toward the table, reaching across it for the tray of appetizers. Something really big went down today. Asuma has never asked why Kakashi visits the hospital regularly once or twice every month, but he's starting to think maybe the problem is Kakashi doesn't have a reason to go visit anymore.

They don't do too much talking for a while after that; Asuma eats and has his drink - not too much, though, he has a feeling he's going to have to drag Kakashi home afterward - and Kakashi proceeds to polish off most of a bottle of sake by himself. He's not exactly a lightweight, but the guy's pretty thin and he doesn't really drink much normally, Asuma doesn't think, so by the time Genma saunters over to their booth Kakashi's well on his way to not being able to remember this outing come morning.

"Well, what have we here?" Genma says, grinning good-naturedly as he invites himself to sit down next to Asuma. The ever-present senbon hanging out of his mouth wobbles a little as he talks. "Hatake Kakashi, actually out on the town? I'd better check for flying pigs on the weather report tomorrow."

"Fuck off, Genma." Kakashi gives him a half-lidded, and rather half-hearted glare, but Genma just keeps grinning back. Kakashi's voice isn't slurred but his face is noticeably a little red without the mask. "Go find somebody else to hit on. Hell, maybe Asuma'll take you up on it."

Asuma can't help but laugh at that, as Genma pulls a face. "Hey, that was only that one time! And I was kidding anyway. You know I'm all about the ladies, my laconic friend." He signals a waitress for more sake as she passes by, apparently intending to make himself at home. Asuma minds a little, but only because he's trying to coddle Kakashi; he and Genma are regular drinking companions. They used to like to drag Hayate here. The guy was completely sickly, so he couldn't handle getting drunk very often, but he was a riot after you got a bit of booze into him.

Instead of sighing, he takes another sip of his sake, slaps Genma's hand away from the remainder of his snacks, and watches Kakashi. After all, he's doing more than enough brooding for the both of them.

"So, what are you gentlemen up to on this fine evening?" Genma inquires, helping himself to Asuma's bottle of sake. Asuma rolls his eyes.

"In the process of getting completely drunk off my ass," Kakashi declares, raising his cup in something like a toast. "Shitfaced. Plastered. Hammered. Whatever. Pick a euphemism."

"I've always been partial to shitfaced, myself," Genma says with a grin, flicking his senbon onto the table before he takes a drink. "Has such a nice ring to it." Though Asuma's sure he's curious, he doesn't ask about the why. Genma likes to pretend he's a ladykilling asshole, but he's got a few shreds of tact.

Kakashi snorts and downs another gulp. "Yeah, you would be."

"Aww, what's that supposed to mean? Don't you like me anymore, Kakashi?" Genma says, throwing the back of his hand theatrically against his forehead. The waitress comes over before too long and much to Asuma's relief he wastes no time in switching to his own bottle.

"And you're awfully quiet, too." Genma nudges Asuma in the ribs, raising an eyebrow. "What tragedy has befallen you now, dear buddy of mine? Goldfish die?"

Asuma snorts with a combination of laughter and absolute mortification, shaking his head. "Sure, something like that."

"Ahh, it's all so terrible." Genma clasps one hand against his chest, shaking his head as he continues to ham it up. Asuma can't think of a subtle way to tell him to shut his trap. "Little Swimmy-chan left us far too soon, but fear not, my dear friend, for he has gone to a better place!"

"Yeah, I'm sure Asuma's fictional goldfish will be real happy off in fictional goldfish heaven somewhere," Kakashi mutters bitterly into his drink. Genma raises an eyebrow at the weird statement while the other man's gaze is elsewhere, throwing Asuma a questioning look. Asuma raises his eyebrows in return, trying to arrange his expression to convey something along the lines of Kakashi's just trying to get pissed to hell and back and forget about something he's not gonna talk about, as usual, except it seems like it's even worse than when he normally gets this way, so just treat him with kid gloves and don't make a big deal out of it. As usual. And maybe you should leave off the jokes about stuff dying too. Please?

He is pretty sure it's not actually possible to make one expression say all that, but Genma frowns a little and glances away, so he seems to have gotten part of the idea.

"You know, I watched her bring a goldfish back to life once," Kakashi mumbles like they ought to know who he's talking about, one elbow resting on the table and the side of his face propped against his outstretched hand, gazing blankly into his drink. "Medic training and all that stuff. They always start practicing on fish. Why fish, I wonder. Are they easier?"

Asuma blinks, caught a little off-guard, but Genma just takes it in stride. "Well, their little fishy brains are tinier. Maybe that makes it less hard," he speculates, sipping his drink. He's got a weird expression on his face as he looks at Kakashi, and Asuma recalls it's the sort of look he used to wear when Hayate would tell them he was going to have to go back to the hospital for another week so they could do tests. Asuma never knows what to make of Genma when he's looking halfway serious.

"Maybe that's it," Kakashi agrees gamely, not looking up from his drink. The hand that's curled around the cup taps at it idly for a little while before he picks it up to take another gulp, and reaches over to refill it. Asuma's really starting to feel the awkwardness of this situation, but hell, he knew it would be awkward when he offered. It's the least he can do.

For a moment, none of them speaks. Even irrepressible Genma is silent, just sitting there and sipping at his sake.

"She liked the little birds better, though," Kakashi finally continues in his mumble, oblivious to the uncomfortable pause that's just passed. "I was gonna bring her one once, but I was afraid she'd bite the head off or something."

Asuma is in mid-swallow when this matter-of-fact statement is made, and it's all he can do not to choke on his sake. Sputtering a little, he's about to try and steer the conversation elsewhere, but Genma just nonchalantly raises an eyebrow at Kakashi as if this is a perfectly normal thing to talk about and says, "Oh?"

"Mm." Kakashi nods absently. His gaze seems to have fixed permanently onto his sake cup. "Also tried flowers once, but hell, she musta fucking ate those or something, the way everybody in the ward was glaring at me when I came back. So, I started just coming with me." He smiles bitterly as he takes another long drink. "Except you know, now I'm not me, I'm Obito."

Asuma knows just enough about Uchiha Obito to know that anything having remotely to do with him is liable to put Kakashi in a dark mood, but he's still not sure what the hell Kakashi is talking about. A crazy chick in the hospital that knew Obito? Well, obviously it can't be an Uchiha, he thinks with a mental shudder. Though if it was, that would sure explain the crazy.

"And Obito's still a fucking crybaby, and she's- She's just-" Kakashi stops abruptly, and looks down at his sake, and shakes his head a little, taking a big gulp before leaning over - more like half-collapsing, really - to lay the side of his head against the table.

"'I'm sorry' just doesn't really fucking cover it, you know?" he mutters, staring at the side of his hand.

"Yeah, I know how that goes," Genma murmurs, twirling his own cup idly between his fingers, eyes downcast. Asuma realizes suddenly that he's barely said anything while the other two have been having their...conversation. This is getting weirder than he'd really anticipated. He sighs as he glances between them.

"...Man, Kakashi, you really look like shit. Maybe you should go ahead and go home." With Asuma holding him up and dragging him there, he doesn't bother to add.

"I'm not unconscious yet," Kakashi says flatly, voice very hard for a moment. "Soon as I'm good and passed out, then I'll worry about going home."

Genma snorts. "Hate to break it to you, but that doesn't really work very well."

Kakashi sits up long enough to take another large swig of sake, then plops his head back on the table again, and makes no reply.

Another awkward silence passes between them. Genma pushes his cup off to one side, and turns an intense gaze on Kakashi.

"So what's her name?"

Asuma winces. That's completely uncalled for and he's about to say so, he's got his mouth open and it's starting on a "Genma, don't you-"

"Rin," Kakashi murmurs.

Genma just blinks once, the name obviously meaning nothing to him. Asuma gapes.

"...Rin?" Shit, this is way more fucked-up than he thought. Is Kakashi serious? He's suddenly a lot more afraid for his friend than he was even at the beginning of this evening. "But... Isn't she..." He hesitates.

"Dead?" Kakashi finishes for him, with a slow, wide, very bitter smile. He catches Asuma's gaze for a moment, then just lets his eye drift closed, and Asuma thinks involuntarily of the time they were on mission together and Kakashi got impaled through the stomach and came a bare inch away from bleeding out right there on the battlefield. The expression on his face at the moment kinda looks like back then.

"Kakashi, I..." He's at a loss for words for a moment, and then he notices that the other man isn't responding at all. "Kakashi?" He reaches over the table to shake Kakashi's shoulder a little, but the single eye doesn't open again.

"Well, hitting 'unconscious' didn't take too long after all," Genma remarks quietly. Asuma glances over and notices Genma's cup is still sitting exactly where he pushed it away a couple minutes ago. He sighs.

"Wanna help me take him home?"

"Sure, man." Genma rises and stretches, letting Asuma out of the booth, and he goes over to Kakashi's side. He turns the other man over, tugging the mask back to more or less where it belongs over Kakashi's face, and he slings one of Kakashi's arms over his shoulder, letting Genma take the other. He tries to remember what pocket Kakashi keeps his keys in as they walk out of the bar. Genma has his senbon replaced in his mouth, and he gives a grin and a jaunty wave to a couple of women they pass as they head down the street and away.

"So who's Rin?" he asks quietly, when they're on an empty side street.

"Old teammate," Asuma says shortly as they trudge along. Roof-hopping would be faster, but not nearly as comfortable for the man-sized burden slung over their backs. "They trained under the Fourth together. I thought she was dead, but..."

He looks down at Kakashi's face for a moment. He didn't replace the mask very well after all; it's beginning to slip off, and he can see Kakashi's nose inside, and make out just a little of his lips.

"...well, I thought she was dead."

Genma is quiet for a moment, apparently taking in this information. Finally he sighs.

"Heh, who's to say she isn't," he murmurs, a brief unreadable smile flitting across his face.

They trudge the rest of the way to Kakashi's apartment in silence. Genma volunteers to stay and make sure he doesn't drown in his own vomit or something equally nasty, and Asuma bids them good night, heading up the stairs to roof-hop his way back to his own house. All of a sudden, he wants nothing more than to hurry home and tell his family how much he loves them.

He passes a big tree on his way back. Up there somewhere in the branches he can see a sparrow, or maybe it's a jay, fluffing its wings and settling down in its nest for the night.

Asuma thinks about little birds, and little girls, and all of a sudden, he's helplessly laughing as he wings toward home.

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