Just a little something to prove to myself I can write characters other than Neji and TenTen for once.
Disclaimer: All characters/settings belong to M. Kishimoto, the creator of Naruto. I make no profit from writing this.
The sake was the best thing to dull his senses these days.
Missions had long ago failed to strike any semblance of concern into his bones, and after his charges outgrew his tutelage, the silver-haired shinobi found he had nothing left to care for.
He retired as a shinobi after Naruto took the honored title of Hokage.
For a while, Kakashi found ways to occupy himself—tend to Mr. Ukki, visit the memorial site of some of his comrades, read Icha Icha. But even these things were not enough to stop the assault on his brain.
"Another, Kakashi-sama?" questioned the bartender.
Kakashi nodded morosely and accepted the new cup with possessiveness.
Like many others, the Fourth Ninja War had done a number on a Kakashi's mental health.
So many dead shinobi brought back to life had seemed like a cruel joke, but it was a certain reality, as the shinobi who fought in the war came to discover.
The mass disturbance of the dead's eternal rest was disrespectful to all, both living and gone.
Kakashi downed the new cup of sake in one swallow, ignoring the worried look on the bartender's face.
His inadequacies as a leader, a shinobi, a person, were amplified during the Fourth Ninja War, serving as glaring reminders that he had failed many times before and would continue to fail many times after.
Kakashi's posture slumped a little more, the alcohol seeming to seep into his veins, numbing his skin.
Behind him, Kakashi vaguely heard the door to the bar open. The customers were greeted by the bartender, who seemed to be familiar with them both.
"Kaka-sensei? Is that you?"
Kakashi willed himself not to greet whoever seemed to know him; it was disgraceful for friends to see him in such a depressing state.
The speaker entered his blurred vision, a woman whose pink hair he knew well.
Kakashi smiled clumsily behind his mask, his expression softening despite his unwillingness to see her.
"Sakura-san," Kakashi greeted, being careful to speak past the alcohol.
Sakura smiled, but her expression quickly changed to concern as she appraised his visible bloodshot eyes, diluted from alcohol.
"Kakashi-sensei, are you alright?" asked the girl, green eyes confused.
Kakashi frowned, realizing his stupidity.
"I'm fine, Sakura-san. In fact, I was just leaving—!"
Kakashi made to stand, his grip shaky and falsely firm on the bar counter.
He stumbled as he slid off the stool, one hand still clenched around his sake.
Sakura reached out hurriedly to save him from his fall, managing to get her arm around his waist to support him.
"Kakashi-sensei, I'm going to help you home," Sakura said determinedly.
Kakashi opened his mouth to say he hardly needed his student's help, but closed it just as quickly. When Sakura set her mind to something, there was no swaying her decision. And clearly, Kakashi was in no position to get home without the assistance of someone, and Sakura was offering. It would be rude not to take her up on it.
Kakashi almost rolled his eyes. The alcohol seemed to be seeping into his brain, muddling his thoughts into things he would never think.
How ridiculous, Kakashi thought to himself. I'm being helped home by my own student because I'm too drunk to walk by myself. Pitiful, aren't I, Obito-kun?
His escort was silent the majority of the walk, only having to struggle a little because Kakashi was determined to assist her as best he could in his insobriety.
Sakura found Kakashi's apartment key under his instruction and half-carried the man into his apartment.
She set him down on his single-person bed, and considered him.
"Kakashi-sensei, are you alright? I've never seen you drunk like this."
In his right mind, Kakashi knew he merely had to brush aside her question. But with the liquor in his veins, Kakashi wasn't thinking entirely like he would usually.
"Sakura-san, don't I look alright?" he slurred, leaning his head back against the wall to appraise her. "I'm healthy as a horse."
Sakura's emerald eyes foretold her doubt.
"Kakashi-sensei—," she began.
Kakashi shook his head to stop her.
He looked towards the window sill where Mr. Ukki sat.
"How is Naruto-kun?" Kakashi asked softly.
"He's as busy as he can be," she answered.
"And the hospital?" Kakashi prompted.
"I work a lot, but I love it," Sakura responded.
Kakashi mulled this over in his muddled brain.
"Thanks for helping me, Sakura. You were always the responsible one." He turned an eye onto her. "Don't say anything to Naruto or Sai?"
"Kakashi-sensei, if you have a problem you should get help—!"
"I'm fine," Kakashi firmly interjected.
Sakura sighed and sat next to her teacher, watching him.
"I'm sorry that we're not around more often. Otherwise, I'd feel you wouldn't be like this."
Kakashi closed his eyes briefly, reaching out a hand to finger some strands of Sakura's pink hair.
Sakura stilled under his touch.
"Kakashi-sensei, I could help you. Cases like yours come into the hospital all the time—!"
Kakashi leaned forward slightly, brushing his face against the back of her shoulder.
"I'll be fine, Sakura. Don't worry your pretty head about me. I can take care of myself."
Kakashi fell away from her, slumping against the back wall as the alcohol pushed him into slumber.
Sakura stood, glancing at her former teacher.
As she left, she found it difficult to suppress her blush.