Timeline is not important…

It was the usual good time down at the pub on this late Saturday evening where the alcohol continuously flowed from bottles and laughter rolled from patrons. Genma and Raido provided most of the entertainment, the sexual jokes flying faster than the shots could keep up. Just about everyone gathered at the table gained up on them. Asuma's cheeks burned red, flushed from both drink and joy as his deep laugh barreled at the expense of Genma, whose latest act of stupidity sent a fresh and painful additional round about the table. They all laughed.

Kakashi fought the good natured urge to rub a knuckle against the tenderized ear drum, smiling deeply underneath his ever-present cloth. He was listening intently even if eye contact was foregone. He favored the light drinking and sparse inputs and barbs, preferring to remain aloof and soak up the atmosphere, the companionship. As it was, his sensitive ears recorded everything as he watched the fingers of his out-stretched arm twirl the little sake cup in circles on the table, the limb resting heavily on the counter as if the consumed liquor weighted it there.

The activity contented him and the conversation fed the smile on his face and so he relaxed in the pastime, focusing on the commotion of the table. A motion slightly off the center of his vision towards the bar teased his gaze up and away from the circle of friends. The fingers hesitated before halting at the scene; his hearing faded and the smile died. There they stood, Innocence and friend Trouble, at the bar. Innocence was presenting an unknowing profile for his sight, eyes and features scrunched up in wide-grinned giddiness as she waved off Trouble. He wondered what the joke had been. A shot glass was set upon the bar among several more, Trouble having taken Innocence's flippant hand and dragging her out the door.

His gaze fell back to the delicate porcelain between the hardened fingertips, its life spinning away once more.

Asuma sobered – well, grew briefly serious he would later admit – at Hatake's abrupt demeanor. The fingers and hand loosely palmed the stein, playing almost nervously with the beverage before him. His eyes trailed the lingering stare as Hatake's followed the lithe figure weaving to the freedom of fresh air. His lips pursed, forcing the cigarette up at a tilt and he tongued it in thought, contemplating, comparing memories as his subject absently played with the sake cup in front of him.

Asuma had seen many expressions in that eye over the years, but this was the first time he'd seen Kakashi Hatake in love.