Kurenai fell on her bar stool with a gracelessness Asuma would have expected to see at the end of the evening, not at the beginning. She barely acknowledged them, immediately catching the barman's eye and demanding quietly to be served.
"Planning on getting drunk tonight? It was Asuma's turn," Kakashi commented from Asuma's other side.
Asuma shrugged. "I can pass it over. Next week can be mine."
"But it means I'll have to wait until the week after that."
"I'll be coming back from a week of diplomatic missions."
They kept debating. Kurenai emptied her glass, and then a second one.
After the third, they grew concerned enough to steal her glass and blackmail her into telling them what her problem was.
"Guys... have either of your kids ever..."
She was looking so uncomfortable, it could only be for one reason.
"Is it in any way related to sex? Because if that is, I feel for you. Naruto asked me about the interest of BDSM once." He was glad that the brat was Jiraiya's responsibility now -- the man would have no problem answering that kind of question.
Asuma nodded sympathetically. "And Ino cried on me about her breasts being too small at least a dozen times. She wouldn't let go before I assured her that they weren't. I kept looking over my shoulder for a week after that, watching out in case word had come back to her father."
Kurenai barely cracked a smile, which was more an acknowledgement of how nice they were than any real amusement. "But has either of them ever -- uh. Had any... inappropriate attachment? Because I don't know how to react, what to say, what to do..."
Asuma blinked. "Nah, can't say mine did."
Kakashi shrugged. "It did, but I ignored it and it stopped on its own after a time. It was just a crush. Happens at their age."
He didn't precise which kid it had been, which was enough of a clue in itself.
"But I can't ignore it!" she protested, and stole her glass back quickly. "I mean, she actually told me, I can't pretend I don't know, and she's so shy and frail and no one's ever loved her, and she needs to be loved so much, but --"
Asuma blinked, then winced sympathetically. "Hinata? Ouch."
"Even if she wasn't my student and so much younger than me, I'm still straight. It doesn't make me that uncomfortable, but..."
"It doesn't? Mm, guess Hinata isn't that likely to use her Byakugan like that," Kakashi commented innocently. "Must be nice to have such a trustworthy student, even at such a... difficult age."
Asuma and Kurenai both paused, then Asuma arched an eyebrow and Kurenai glared. "I hate you."
"... Okay, okay, I guess it isn't the end of the world, but she's so sensitive and I ... I worry. I didn't even know that she liked girls. I was pretty sure she was after Naruto. Now I keep wondering if I led her on..."
Kakashi shrugged. "If that can help, I don't think she's really a lesbian. She's either bisexual or confused -- she's only fourteen after all. And like you said, she's not used to people actually bothering to be nice to her. Even Naruto was only nice when he noticed her, which wasn't that often."
"How can you be sure, though?"
It had been a general question, but Kakashi was too much of a jerk to pass it up. "Well, the third time I caught him jerking off, moaning my name, I felt pretty sure it wasn't just innocent hero-worship. Of course, the way he kept glancing at my ass was also a good clue."
Asuma blinked again, then shook his head as if to dispel the bad mental picture, and Kurenai turned a deep red that made her eyes look pale in comparison.
"Anyway, if you don't want to hurt her feelings, just use the teacher-student relationship as a reason. You don't have to give the others."
"She will know," Kurenai replied in a tired voice. "She always knows. Hyuugas are frightfully good at reading body language."
"Then you'll be her first heartbreak. Had to happen to her one day anyway. At least you'll let her down gently." He downed his drink. "Gentler than Naruto would let her down. Gentler than Sakura was--" Once again, the most recent of Kakashi's shadows stayed unnamed.
"Here, have another drink," Asuma commented quietly as he pushed a drink in front of both of his fellow teachers.
"It's not my turn this week," Kakashi commented.
"I'll swap with you," was all that Asuma replied.
He kept sipping at his glass of water, watching over his friends.