"Two." Kakashi discarded into the pile and slipped the new cards Azuma handed him into his hand. His luck was running foul tonight. So far the best he'd managed was two pair and that was a world better than the cards staring back at him now.
"Anyone want a beer?" Anko called from Genma's kitchen.
Kakashi raised a hand. His fingers closed around the beer that smacked into his palm seconds later. "Nice throw," he complimented without looking up and sighed. "Fold." He dropped his cards onto the table. There went another twenty.
Genma and Raidou looked up as a soft knock sounded from the door, almost drowned out by the pouring rain.
"I fold." Genma tossed his cards onto the table as he stood.
Kakashi glanced surreptitiously around the room, wondering who they were missing. All the regulars were present, scattered around Genma's coffee table. Kurenai sat between Kakashi and Azuma, with Anko watching from the couch. Raidou sat on the opposite side of the table.
The door opened. Genma's body blocked sight of the visitor. Soft words were exchanged and then Genma moved aside, ushering his visitor in. Kakashi blinked. He almost didn't recognize Iruka as he walked in. The scar across Iruka-sensei's nose gave him away, but that was where the similarities ended. Loose, wet black hair hid most of Iruka-sensei's face, clinging to his cheeks. Iruka was drenched, his clothes dripping water onto Genma's hardwood floor.
Iruka glanced into the living room and did a surprisingly good impression of a startled deer before swinging his wide-eyed gaze back to Genma. "I-I can leave. You have company and I..."
Genma's hand was on Iruka's back, guiding the chuunin into the room. "We can talk in my bedroom." Iruka tugged nervously at his sleeves but didn't look over again. Genma shot a look over Kakashi's head. Anko stood and followed Genma into the bedroom. The door shut behind them.
Iruka stared at the closed door, his lips trembling. Genma's fingers moved through a familiar jutsu. Green light flashed along the corners of the room and that was Iruka's breaking point. His breath escaped in a loud gasp. Strong arms came around him, guiding him backwards to sit on the bed. He sobbed into Genma's shoulder, only barely aware of Anko's hand rubbing circles on his back.
"It's okay," Genma murmured into his wet hair. "It's okay."
Anko moved away and then there was a heavy cloth on his head. Fingers rubbed along his scalp, drawing the moisture from his hair before moving down to his shoulders. Genma pulled away to rummage through his drawers. He returned with a faded t-shirt and gray pajama pants.
"Here. You'll feel better when you're dry."
Iruka sniffled slightly in an attempt to pull himself back together. He stood slowly, his body protesting each movement. His wet clothing clung to his skin, reluctant to come off. Genma took the wet items from him and disappeared into the attached bathroom. Anko held out the towel for him and politely looked away. She wouldn't normally but Iruka felt a bit better knowing she was doing so for him. He toweled off quickly and pulled on the dry clothes.
Genma was right. He did feel a bit better, but not by much. Physical discomfort was the least of his problems.
Anko leaned precariously off the bed to grab Iruka's hand and pull him back to the bed. She didn't let go once he was settled, and he let his head fall on her shoulder. Genma returned, flicking off the light in the bathroom as he left, and settled on Iruka's opposite side.
"What happened?" Genma asked.
Iruka stared down at his arms. They had noticed the bruises. The t-shirt did nothing to cover his forearms and they would have seen the ones along his back, the dark marks down his legs. Genma pulled Iruka's hair away from his face, revealing a large bruise on Iruka's cheek.
They were waiting for him. Memories of the fight with Maki pressed in around him and he whimpered, shivering in remembered fear. "I..." He wasn't sure where to start, what to say. They were going to blame Maki, no matter what he said. His instincts screamed to protect Maki, even now, but he knew better than to lie to jounin.
"W-we were alright. He was over for dinner, and things had been... good. I mean he gets a little moody sometimes but he'd never... but he wasn't really touching his food, just drinking sake, and then h-he... he said something about rumors and how he'd heard about Miyuki and Hayate and I..." Iruka shuddered and brought his legs up closer to his chest. Genma pulled a blanket over him. "I didn't know what to say. I mean, some of it was true but the rest... I think he was just making it up because I'd never... and then he said... he called me..." Iruka swallowed quickly and forced himself to keep his eyes open. He could still hear how angry Maki sounded, could still feel his hands and... Anko's fingers entwined with his, grounding him back in the present.
"He said I was a whore and asked me how many other guys I'd slept with before him. It's not like he didn't know. I mean, those relationships ended a long time ago. Did he think I'd been celibate the entire time up until we met? I said as much, and then he got really mad." He remembered the way Maki's face had turned bright red and the table had broken. Then Maki's hands were on him. Iruka tightened his grip on Anko's hand. The fight had been over hours ago but the fear hadn't yet left him. "He pushed me down. I tried to fight him but he was stronger and then he hit me on the back of the neck, did something to my chakra and..." Iruka let the words die of.
He should have fought harder. He should have used jutsu first, sorted out hurt feelings later. They could have fixed that, when Maki was sober. This... he wasn't sure he wanted to fix this.
"Did he... force you?" Anko's face was dark. He didn't have to look up to know Genma was just as angry.
His lack of response told them everything they needed to know.
Raidou stared at the closed door and sighed. "I hope Makitomo likes the cold."
Kurenai snorted softly. "Assuming he makes it that far. Accidents do happen, and it's a dangerous time of year to travel." She took a rather vicious swig from her beer, setting it back on the table far harder than necessary.
Kakashi stared at the suddenly grim faces all around him, confused. "I'm missing something here."
"You know Makitomo?" The name sounded like a curse on Kurenai's lips.
Kakashi nodded slowly. "He's a jounin, a couple years older than me. I may have done a mission with him once, though it would have been years ago."
"Yeah, well, he's a bastard, apparently, so don't be surprised if he's transferred out of Konoha very soon."
That didn't really explain much at all. Kakashi strained his ears but he couldn't hear a sound from the other room. Silencing jutsu, most likely, though Kakashi wasn't sure why they'd need one.
Azuma leaned across the table. "Iruka and Makitomo were an item. Considering Iruka's here, like that, that means things just ended, and rather messily from the looks of it."
"So, Iruka's going to make Makitomo leave the village?" That made even less sense to Kakashi. From what he knew of the teacher, he was overprotective of his children but he'd seemed like a rather pleasant person overall.
Kurenai shook her head. "No, Tsunade is, as soon as she finds out."
This was why he stayed out of village drama, Kakashi thought. Far too confusing. "So Tsunade's going to send Makitomo out of the village because he broke up with a teacher?"
The others shared a meaningful glance.
"Iruka has a type," Raidou explained slowly. "It's hit or miss sometimes, I mean, it's not like Iruka always falls for assholes. There were a few decent guys scattered in there, but when it ends like this..." Raidou pointed at Kakashi with the mouth of his beer. "Don't ask about the bruises."
The door opened again, cutting off the question Kakashi was about to ask. Genma and Anko emerged, trailed by a now-dry Iruka. The chuunin's clothes were different, likely borrowed from Raidou and Genma's collective closet. Dark bruises in the shape of hands decorated Iruka's arms and it looked like he had a rather impressive bruise on the side of his face, mostly hidden under his loose hair.
The chuunin didn't look up as he settled on the couch next to Anko, his head on Anko's shoulder. Kakashi found himself acutely aware of the teacher's presence behind his back.
Raidou set his cards down. "Call."
Kurenai and Azuma echoed it. Cards revealed, Raidou collected chips and added them to his already massive pile.
"Did you want dealt in?" Azuma asked Iruka.
"No. Thank you." Iruka sounded slightly hoarse.
Kurenai leaned back. "Can I get you anything?"
"I'm fine." Anko's arm was around the chuunin, rubbing softly along his arm.
New cards appeared in front of Kakashi. Raidou drained the last of his beer and stood to get more, returning with a full six pack. He passed two to Kurenai, who opened both and handed one to Iruka. He accepted it without a word. Kakashi wondered if he should leave. The others seemed much more familiar with Iruka. He felt like he was in the way, but if he left now, they'd know why he was leaving. He wasn't sure he wanted to leave Iruka with that kind of impression.
Cards moved, more beer appeared. Kakashi continued to lose spectacularly. He blamed it on the beer, like he always did. Kurenai was the first to leave, dragging a drunk Azuma off with her. Raidou took over the deck, dealing yet another round and handing Kakashi back a few of his lost chips when Kakashi ran out of cash. Anko finally uncurled from the couch, ruffling Iruka's hair as she stood and Kakashi figured that was his cue to leave as well. He folded, handing the rest of his borrowed chips back to Raidou as he stood. Muscles popped as he stretched. He handed Anko her umbrella as he pulled his coat from the closet.
Kakashi couldn't help glancing back at Iruka as he left, strange emotions swirling in his stomach.
Iruka said nothing as Raidou packed up the poker equipment, sliding the cards back into their box and sorting the chips into a tin. Genma moved around the room, tossing beer bottles and paper plates into a large garbage bag. Raidou stood and circled the table.
"Up we go." Hands under Iruka's armpits lifted him to his feet and then Raidou was pushing him towards the bedroom. Behind them, lights went out. He could hear Genma locking the door and moving around the apartment, checking to make sure it was secure.
Iruka crawled under the covers while Raidou changed.
"Does he think I'm weak?"
Raidou glanced down at him. "Who?"
The jounin shrugged. "I don't think so. Do you know each other?"
Iruka thought about that for a second. "I... I know Kakashi. He was Naruto's teacher, but... I think we've only ever really spoken twice, and I yelled at him when he nominated Naruto for the Chuunin Exams and..." Was that all there was between them? The list seemed too short.
"He doesn't think less of you, or at least if he does, we'll set him straight," Genma said as he walked into the room, closing the bedroom door behind him.
Cold air ghosted over Iruka's front as the covers were lifted. Raidou's arms went around Iruka's waist, pulling him close. The sheets rubbed against Iruka's bruises, reminding him of Maki. He bit his lip and told himself he wasn't going to cry. He'd done enough of that already tonight. The blankets moved again as Genma settled behind him, draping an arm over both Iruka and Raidou.
"Think you can sleep?" Genma asked.
Iruka nodded slowly and closed his eyes. This wasn't the first time he'd ended up in Genma and Raidou's bed. He doubted it would be the last. But right now, it was warm and comfortable and made him feel safe. As he drifted off to sleep, he couldn't help but remember the way Kakashi's eyes had constantly darted back to him during the night and the way Kakashi had looked at him right before he left.
He really hoped the jounin didn't think less of him after tonight.