AN: I tend to start a lot of little things that don't quite see completion outside of single-standing chapters. So I decided to start a drabble collection. These will primarily involve Kenshin and Kaoru but I can be bribed or inspired to write other things, too. (:

This piece was the first attempt for a bar scene before I wrote Encounters. Wrapped up the last paragraph or two from where I left off so it could stand alone.

Warnings: Language.

Amber & Jasmine

1. Mixology

XX

Kenshin sighed softly, hands shoved in the pockets of his jeans. He had not been really as interested in going out as his peers had, but lacked a good reason to actually decline. And they were... persistent. All of them. In a very exasperating manner. It was not that he did not enjoy their company; in fact, they often had him laughing and smiling, but tonight he was feeling almost... melancholy. He had wanted alone time, to sulk in the quiet confines of his apartment, but they were having none of it. He had only been back in town for a month now, and they were quite happy to monopolize his free time.

Sanosuke's hand on his shoulder stirred him from his thoughts and he glanced up at the much taller man. Brown eyes twinkled down at him in amusement, "You're too quiet, Kenshin. You should contribute to the conversation."

The redhead's lips quirked up in response, "You three do not leave much room for me to pitch in, that you do not."

Laughter was his response as they moved down the sidewalk to their destination. Although it had been a while since he had lived here, he still remembered the street names quite well. He had not been to Tir na Nog in years, honestly, but they certainly had very good shepherd's pie last he checked. Although, he suspected the outing was less for food and more for alcohol. Then again, with Sanosuke being part of the group...

They came to a stop at the building, which stood on the corner of two streets. The lamps lit up the wooden doors that were muffling the music and noise within. The building was black with antique gold accents, and Chou was already pushing the door open, leading the way inside. Kenshin waited until Kamatari and Sano had stepped in, letting the smell of cooked food greet his nostrils before he followed in behind him.

Not much had changed, honestly. They had rearranged some of the tables, and added a few new wide-screens, but otherwise, the décor was still very similar, reminiscent of old Ireland. His lips twitched slightly, recalling a time during St. Patty's day he had carried Sanosuke—yes, carried—back from here, completely and utterly trashed.

He hoped tonight would not be a repeat of any such events. For one, it wasn't St. Patty's. Two, he had absolutely no desire to be around Sano, or the other two, when they were that drunk. It usually meant singing was involved, and none of them could carry a tune if their lives depended on it. And if you tried to tell them that after inebriation, they would be very adamant about proving otherwise.

The bar only had a few patrons right now, though Kenshin still was surprised that his friends did not go for a table. He blinked, following them up to the bar and took a seat next to Sano, glancing over at him. "Seems a little difficult to talk..." He commented idly.

Sano waved his hand. "Bah, it'll be fine. Besides, it would be hard to talk to Missy, otherwise."

"Who?"

Chou jabbed a finger in the direction of the person moving toward them. "The cutie with the magic tumbler," He drawled.

"There are better ways to describe me." The female voice was dry, but tinged with amusement. Kenshin blinked, letting his eyes focus on the young woman who had stopped before them. She wore her hair in a messy bun, loose black strands curling around her face and neck, with some pieces falling over the dark green bodice she wore. The white sleeves of her blouse were rolled up to her elbows, and her pink lips were twisted upward in a smirk. "Haven't seen you guys in a while. Thought you'd forgotten about me."

"We could never forget about you, love," Kamatari purred, batting his eyelashes at her.

Kaoru grinned back, eyes drifting over to the fourth member. She blinked at him curiously, taking in the long red hair framing his face. "Wow, with that hair you fit right in with the theme!" She grinned, winking at him, and Kenshin found himself momentarily at a loss for words.

Sanosuke slapped him on the back. "This is our friend, Kenshin. Moved back into town a few weeks back. Kenshin, this is Kaoru. She's a friend of Megumi's and wicked at mixing things that will knock you off your feet." He leaned in almost conspiratorially, "She's also feisty."

"Um..." Kenshin's eyes crossed at such implications, and he was not quite sure what to say to that.

Kaoru scowled, smacking at Sano's arm. "As if you would know."

Sanosuke broke out into laughter, Chou and Kamatari chuckling along with it. At the request of Kamatari's usual, Kaoru began to deftly mix liquors together with practiced ease. "You know," Chou started, arching a blond brow at the bartender, "How did you get so good at getting us shitfaced without us even realizing?"

"You're lightweights," Kaoru sniffed, placing the glass in front of his friend.

Kenshin bit back a grin. Feisty indeed.

"Ouch, Kaoru! I'm hurt," Kamatari whined dramatically, clutching at his chest.

The girl shrugged and gave him an innocent, wide-eyed look. "I can't help you boys can't hold your liquor." She paused, looking at Chou. "What do you want this time?"

"A Quick Fuck." He grinned.

Kaoru rolled her eyes. "You only want that for the namesake."

"It's Irish!"

"You are such a thirteen year old," Kaoru exasperated.

"That's giving him a lot of credit..." Kenshin supplied helpfully. Chou merely laughed.

Kaoru slid the drink to him, poured Sanosuke his requested Three Wise Men that he proceeded to chug, and then turned her attention to the redhead. "Well, Kenshin. What can I get for you to drink?"

"Woodchuck, please." He had every intention of not letting alcohol get the best of him. Besides, hard cider tasted quite nice. And he noted she seemed to appreciate the fact he was not acting like, well, an idiot. Curiously, as Kaoru placed the chilled bottle in front of him, he inquired, "How does one like yourself end up as a bartender?"

Kaoru gave a wry grin. "There was a bet I could not create anything fit for human consumption. I won." She did not elaborate, and Kenshin felt it best to not press for more information on that subject. The banter continued on, mostly thanks to his three companions, and Kaoru frequently pitched into the conversation when she was not helping other customers.

She also kept darting her eyes over to him whenever she had a chance, casting slight smiles and tossing innocent questions his way. And he knew his two bottles of Woodchuck were not making him that suggestible. By the end of the night, and in no part thanks to the drunken declaration from Chou that Kenshin needed a sassy little thing like Kaoru in his life, the redhead had acquired her cell phone number.

Maybe tonight had been a good night to go out after all.

~Fin

XX

AN: There is a wonderful Irish Pub by the name of Tir na Nog in the city I live in. I don't get to eat there nearly as often as I would like. Also, woodchuck is tasty.

Comments are appreciated.