I'm not really sure what inspired this, or where on earth KakaIno came from. But I had fun writing it and hope you enjoy it. Please note this takes place many years in the future when our pretty little rookies are in their twenties and aren't really rookies anymore.

The Mask

Having not found an exciting accomplishment to celebrate this week, Ino and Sakura were at the bar for the sheer fun of it. Since drinking was discouraged for shinobi, they usually found a reason to go to their favorite Konoha bar. Last week it had been finding an especially good sale, and the week before that for Ino dumping a boyfriend. (They never claimed to have good reasons; they just liked to rationalize themselves.)

"My excuse is that Konoha has gotten so boring," Ino said loudly as she slammed her stein down on the table. Ino liked steins. And slamming things.

Sakura rolled her eyes as she nursed her own mug. "If you want exciting, you should take more shifts at the hospital. Never a dull moment there."

Ino huffed and picked at her coaster, which she had missed with her stein. "I don't want to be stuck in the hospital– I'm only a medic-nin on the field until someone better comes along. Other than that–" she raised her hands and wiggled her fingers– "I'm all about espionage."

Sakura snorted. "Tipsy espionage."

"I am NOT tipsy," Ino replied, tossing her coaster at the other girl like a frisbee. It missed, falling to the grimy floor with a splat. Sakura raised her eyebrows. "I meant to do that."

"Riiight. Just like you meant to possess that shoe salesman instead of the target on your last mission."

Ino scowled. "I was confused by a very complicated genjutsu; don't you give me that look, Sakura, even Shikamaru was tricked it, and if Shikamaru gets tricked, then you know– What?"

Sakura had suddenly jerked to her left, leaning out of their booth to stare at the door. Her brow furrowed.

"What?" Ino repeated, louder.

"Shh," Sakura chided, sending her a brief, weak glare. "Kakashi-sempai just walked in."

"So?" Ino could not understand why Sakura was staring so conspiratorially at wherever Kakashi was behind her. "Just because a ninja's s'posed to lay off the booze, it isn't like we're not here every weekend."

"No, it's not that," Sakura replied, leaning back into the booth as Kakashi came into Ino's view, seating himself at the bar. "It's just that…" An embarrassed look came across her face. "I'm curious."

"What?" said Ino. "Everyone knows Kakashi has a thing for warm sake."

"Not about that." Sakura was being very confusing tonight. "You know I've known that man for over ten years, and I've never seen his face?"

Ino laughed, an obnoxious tone to what she usually considered sexy and alluring. "That's why you freaked out when he came in? Do you do that every time he walks into a room?"

"No!" Sakura looked really embarrassed now. "Look, he has to take off the mask to drink, right?" She swung her legs over the side of her seat, turning so she could she the bar. "I'm going to watch him, and I'm going to be the first to see his face."

"Why are you suddenly fixated on his face now?"

"It's always on my mind," Sakura snapped back, not turning from her view of Kakashi.

Ino was starting to wonder if Sakura was the tipsy one, even if she had only consumed half the amount of beer Ino had.

They sat in silence, watching as Kakashi ordered and a small cup and jug of what they assumed was sake was placed before him. In the mean time, Ino finished off her beer.

"You really know how to be a buzz kill, y'know that?" she said to Sakura, who turned around to frown playfully at her.

"Oh, shut up, Ino-pig. It just occurred to me when he walked in that I might have a chance to see his face if he was drinking without knowing I was there."

"Geez, forehead girl," said Ino as she crossed her legs under the table. "You may be a genius with the medical jutsu, but you really suck at spying."

Sakura's sensibilities as a ninja were offended. "Am not. He hasn't even noticed us."

"He's former ANBU," said Ino, leaning forward across the table. "He can innately sense when people are watching him."

"He's in a BAR. You don't innately sense anything in a bar. At least not accurately."

"Trust me." Ino waggled her eyebrows. "I do this for a living. Now, we have the advantage because he's probably off guard, all safe here in warm and friendly and boring Konoha. All we need is a little distraction and he'll be ours." She smirked and wiggled her fingers in the air as she had before. Apparently when slightly under the influence of alcohol, her brain matched spirit fingers with tricky behavior.

"So what is your plan, oh wise spying ninja?" asked Sakura in bemusement.

"I shall sacrifice myself for you, dear fixated friend," said Ino in a dramatically hushed voice. "In getting another beer, I shall perform the necessary distraction. Soon, fair Sakura, you and your most wide forehead will be gazing upon the mysterious face that is Kakashi-sempai."

"Inoooo," Sakura half laughed, half scolded in the same way she had said Ino's name when the blonde had bought a pair of tiny white shorts at the sale last week. ("You slut," Sakura had gone on, giggling. Ino then proudly proclaimed they couldn't let Karin get ahead, and they had picked out a teal pair for Sakura.) "How many have you HAD?"

"Not nearly enough," Ino replied as she kicked her bare legs out from under the table and fluidly stood up. Coincidentally, she was wearing that exact pair of white short shorts, and they had the horrible habit of giving her a wedgie. She grimaced in annoyance and pulled at the back of her shorts.

"That's not very lady-like, dearest Ino," Sakura laughed.

Ino playfully stuck her nose in the air. "To expose the general public to the sight of such thin fabric molded so closely to my fine buttocks would cause much too powerful an explosion of semen."

Sakura choked on her beer, years of ninja training saving her from spilling it down her front. "INO!" She was pleasantly scandalized.

Ino smirked back at her and practically skipped over to the bar.

"Oi, Okazaki-san, I'm not nearly drunk enough yet," she yelled toward the apron-clad man currently engaged with a group civilian men across the bar. She slammed her stein down next to Kakashi's sake bottle, because she liked steins and slamming things.

"Hello, Ino," said Kakashi, looking up at her as if he had not expected to see her, though he must have realized she was there beforehand.

"Oh, Kakashi-sempai!" Ino returned, acting just as surprised. "What are you doing here?"

"I find that obvious," answer Kakashi raising his sake cup to her. The both stared at it for a brief moment. He brought it to his masked face, sniffed it, and put it down.

"Um," said Ino. That had been strange. The bartender presented Ino with more of her delightful drink.

"So," said Ino, casually leaning against the empty barstool next to her, her back toward Sakura and their booth. "How have you been?" Equally casually, she stretched out her leg, hooking her wedge sandal on the middle rung of Kakashi's stool, effectively giving him full view of her shapely leg (Karin had nothing on her).

Kakashi did very little to hide examining her leg with his exposed eye.

"Oh, you know, just doing this and that…" He absentmindedly picked up his sake cup again.

This was exactly what Ino wanted, and she used the support of her leg on Kakashi's stool to push herself onto the high seat of her own stool. She then transferred her weight to her arm resting on the bar, allowing a better view of her chest. Kakashi's eye slowly wondered up from somewhere around her knee to said chest. There were two things you could expect from him: tardiness and a certain level of perversion. Not that Ino wasn't blatantly exposing herself.

"You're always so vague. Your team always complains about that," Ino teased.

Kakashi's hand wondered up to his mask and he brought his cup closer to his face with his other hand. Ino smiled inwardly to herself. Show a guy a little skin and he forgets what he's doing.

Then suddenly Kakashi was putting the cup back down and he had locked eye with her, and it took all of Ino's self-control to prevent her sexy fake pout from collapsing into a not-so-sexy real pout.

"Ino, what do you want?" his tone was more serious than before.

"Nothing," she whined, leaning forward a bit more. "Just catching up."

"Sakura's practically dying behind you," Kakashi pointed. This gave Ino an excuse to turn around to shoot a warning glare at Sakura, who was red in the face and giggling hysterically at the scene. That traitor! Espionage had morphed into a comedy show.

Ino straightened abruptly, fighting back a blush and frowning at Kakashi. A cute frown, though. Just because she was giving up the seduction to save her own dignity in front of her best friend didn't mean she had to go and do her embarrassing nostril-flaring thing in front of said best friend's former sensei.

"You know," she said bitterly to Kakashi, who also seemed highly amused by her little act, "they say the more your hide your face with your hair and clothes and such, the lower your self-confidence." She knitted her eyebrows in a piteously worried expression. "I'm worried about your self-esteem, Kakashi-sempai."

"That was all for my self-esteem?" Kakashi asked flatly.

"Of course!" Ino stood, spread her arms as if welcoming Kakashi to a hug. "A gorgeous young woman advances on you, and you're too shy to take a hint! What kind of a sad, shy man is hiding behind that tattered mask?" She dropped her arms and patted him sympathetically on the shoulder. Well, she meant it to be the shoulder, but it somehow turned into the upper arm and slightly toward his chest– maybe she had had too much. "I'm sure we'll be able to coax him out some day. But tragically," she placed the back of her hand on her forehead (much more petite than Sakura's), hamming it up, "today is not that day. Good bye, you poor man."

She turned swiftly to go back to her and Sakura's booth. Sakura was full out guffawing over her drink now, and hopefully Kakashi would interpret it all as a complicated prank instead of, you know, hitting on him. It's not like she had wanted anything from him; just to distract him long enough for him to accidentally reveal what seemed to be his most guarded secret. No biggie.

She had barely taken a step forward when he grabbed her elbow, stopping her.

"So that's what this is all about," He said as if she had any idea what he was talking about.

"Yes, Kakashi-sempai." She throwing her free arm out again and praying he had fallen for her… ploy, she guessed she could call it. Whatever she had just done. "When you are ready to show your true self, your inner, suffering child, we will he here for you." Maybe she would be lucky and he'd brush it all off as "oh, she's drunk."

Kakashi had not let go of her elbow. He took a step toward her and, to her horror, his face was coming closer to her face and the hand that wasn't gripping her arm was hooking its index finger under his mask. Ino turned, panicked, and she broke her arm free of his easily enough, but somehow he ended up in front of her anyway, all shadowy in the bar's poor lighting, and his face was still coming toward her­– was the mask off?

But then his lips were pressed roughly against hers, and she was shocked. He was­– he was kissing her and– how the hell had he been sneaking sake when she had been watching him the whole time?

Not to be outdone, Ino flung her arms around the back off his neck, pressing into him. (She had meant it to be a dainty gesture, but somehow it had turned into flinging and she hoped it had hurt him somehow.) They stood there like that, listening to the other occupants of the bar ignore them. Ino hoped Sakura had seen her get the mask off and hoped she hadn't died of astonishment.

Then Kakashi ducked his head away from her (the most awkward way to break a kiss ever, Ino noted) and pulled his mask back into place as she blinked down at the top of his head. Then he straightened, Ino taking an unsteady step back to avoid his head hitting hers. She wasn't sure if the wobbling in her legs was due to the booze or the kiss.

"What was that?" She demanded, putting her fists on her hips and sending Kakashi the pissiest glare she could muster.

"I'm not sure," he answered a bit sheepishly. "Did you want sexual favors or to see under my mask?"

"I­– you– what was that?" Ino sputtered and repeated, at a loss for words that wouldn't involve committing the purpose of her actions to anything below her admittedly tipsy dignity.

"Well," said Kakashi mildly. "I wasn't sure if you were aiming for sex or my unmasked face, so I gave you both."

Ino fumed. She hadn't even seen anything due to the stupid lights, although she had at least confirmed he had a mouth. With teeth, too, and a hint of a tongue, although she wasn't one hundred percent sure about that.

"I have to go," she said lamely. She thought about slapping him, but her aim hadn't been too good that evening. Instead, she forcefully shoved by him, hissing as she went:

"Don't you dare speak of this to anyone else."

She made her way back to her booth in a daze, analyzing Sakura's gaping face. Stunned. Amazed. Shocked. Speechless. But not dead of astonishment; that was good.

"So did you see his face?" Ino asked coolly as she sat down across from Sakura.

Sakura blinked and shook her head as if to clear her mind. "No, the bastard turned around when you started to pull way. I just saw the back of his head­– I can't believe he did that!" She paused. "I can't believe you went along with it!"

Ino shrugged and mournfully realized she had left her beer on the bar. "It wasn't the best kiss I've ever had. But it wasn't the worst."

Sakura winced. "I could never imagine doing that with… with him."

Ino snickered. "That's because he's your old genin sensei. Sakura, we're twenty-three. It's not a big deal."

"Still," Sakura scowled. "What a jerk!"

The two spent the rest of the night recounting every personality flaw Kakashi had. The next day, Ino happily told Shikamaru and Chouji every detail of the event over lunch; she was pretty sure she was the first girl to get that far with Kakashi in a long while. She had decided it was something to be proud of, and at least something exciting had happened to her. Two days later she told Naruto and Sasuke, who both seemed as sickened as Sakura had been, but she insisted it was her greatest achievement that week.

That Saturday, she and Sakura found themselves using it as an excuse for their weekly drinking session.