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  The elevator thumps down on the ground floor as Lan walks out into the lobby, walking out towards the middle until he finds what he's looking for.
  
The bar was unapologetically western, no cushions or knee-high tables, which suits him just fine. There were a few business-types at the tables to the right, but Lan sidles up in one of the chairs at the bar.
  
The bartender walks over to his only customer, and rests his hands in front of him. “Afternoon, sir,” he says in an English lilt, no doubt hired because of it. “What can I get you?”
  
Behind the tender were top-shelf liquors, placed in between backlit accents to make the bar seem more sophisticated. The architecture he likes, but the rest was lost on Lan.
  
He rest his elbow on the bar and pointed at a nearly full bottle of Jameson Bow Street 18 set in the wall as if to advertise itself.
  
“Three fingers, ice, if you would.”
  
The bartender nods and pulls out a hard metal cylinder, wedging a brick of ice in between the top and bottom parts. Lan watches as water drools down the bottom section before the bartender speaks up.
  
“A.. laziness of mine. A luxury.” He holds up a chisel and taps the handle on the top of the sinking cylinder. “I could chip a sphere for you, absolutely. Took months of training.”
  
The bartender sets a cordial glass in front of Lan and pours out his three fingers before twisting the top of the cylinder slowly, lifting it up, revealing a clear, perfect sphere of ice.
  
Using a set of tongs, he eases it down into Lan's glass of Jameson, the liquor rising up around the ice.
  
“But that would take longer, and wouldn't be nearly as perfect, would it?” The bartender smiles, pulling the cylindrical device under the counter and setting the Jameson back in its place, leaving Lan to look down at a small glass, a brown liquor, spread out by a perfectly formed sphere of ice.
  
He picks it up gingerly and rolls the liquor around as it pools in the corners around the sphere of ice. Were it not cold to the touch, it could pass as a wet glass ball. Connoisseurs swore by it as it melted slower, resulting in less dilution of the liquor that you actually want to drink.
  
Lan tilts the glass back and takes a mouthful of whiskey as the ice bumps against his upper lip, feeling it burn down his throat and spread out in his stomach.
  
Connoisseurs, he thinks, shaking his head. If it was alcohol, Lan drank it. Taste mattered little these days, but a drink always tastes better when it's on someone else's tab. Especially a 1,600 yen drink.
  
Lan tips it back as the bartender hears the clink, starting back over to where he sits.

--

  Up in her room, Saya was indeed decompressing. She knew she would be meeting Lan's family, and dressed in a nice skirt and blouse for the flight, so she wasn't embarrassed about that. Between his father and Reo, they took care of the 'looking good' side of business.
  
Unzipping her carryon, Saya looks down at her choice of clothes, thinking. She has a choice – she could go as she was, which was bright and summery, but she also packed a more serious, more adult, she thought, black skirt split up the thigh.
  
Picking it up, she walks around to the bathroom and looks at herself from thighs up, turning to look at herself from the side. Saya frowns a bit at her own face, though, she still had that complex of a cherubic face, because of which she wasn't always taken seriously.
  
Instead, she holds the black skirt in front of her waist, weighing her options. The yellow blouse didn't help, but it did give her an idea.
  
Stripping out of her clothes, she wiggles into the black number and picks out a white pseudo-button-up shirt with a smaller bow below the neck. The blouse was solid white but the from the shoulder to her arms were slightly translucent.
  
Saya hikes it over her head and doesn't bother tucking it in as she returns to the mirror, pulling on the shirt from behind to judge the contrast.
  
It's not formal, but it's not a sun dress, either, she muses, turning to the side again. You're a professional, right? Right.
  
Considering what Lan told him about where he lived, his house had to be old. Chairs weren't a guarantee in traditional homes, and a skirt any tighter would limit her ability to kneel should she need to. Her mind skids sideways as she looks at her leg through the split up the side.
  
Mentally she counts back to when she last shaved her legs. Better safe than sorry as she lays the skirt and the shirt out on the tremendously large bed, grabbing her toiletries from her suitcase and heading into the bathroom.
  
Professional tonight. Sightseeing tomorrow.

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About the author

drac

Bio: apologies for everything about me, it might get better.

updates will be once a day for the next seventy days since i am migrating from another platform and have those chapters - and more - ready to go. (from 8/9)

feel free to come hang out in the discord, if you like.

[email protected]

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