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  After his third drink, Lan presses his hand on the bar, and none of the fingers twitch. What was three drinks in for him was normal sobriety for anyone else.
  
He spins the cordial glass in a slow circle, the now-melting sphere pooling water at the bottom. Things were starting to pick up in the late afternoon, and the bartender paid less attention to Lan as he services other customers.
  
Reaching into his jean pocket, he pulls out the valet's ticket, thumbing over it idly. 03521. Lan taps it on his other hand, looking towards the lobby, then back down to his empty glass. Would she be able to tell?
  
Don't talk, breathe through your nose, it's only a few kilometers, he thinks. And in his mind that was convincing enough. The lack of a tremble in his hand reinforces his thought process. Speed limit, you know the route.
  
The bartender finally makes his way back to Lan, tapping the counter towards the empty glass. “Another, sir?” he asks.
  
Lan leans back on the stool and waves a hand, shaking his head. “No, I'm alright. Just the bill, if you would.”
  
The bartender nods and walks over to a point-of-sale, tapping out the receipt, hooking it and a pen in a black tray, setting it beside Lan's glass.
  
“It's been a pleasure, sir, do come visit us again,” he says, as Lan looks over the damages. 4,800 yen for three drinks. “Still prefer beer,” he mumbles, signing the bill with his name and marking out Saya's room number, 14th floor, 14.. 30.. 32? 36? Who gives a shit, they know the name.
  
Lan tosses the pen onto the tray and pushes off from the bar.

--

  Saya tugs down on her skirt, even split at the leg, it was awfully tight around her waist. But after gauging herself in the mirror, she felt and looked damn good. Professional. Professional casual.
  
She held her clutch in both hands, containing lip gloss, tissues, a few thousand yen, and her ID. Saya hated carrying these things, they never had any strap – or if they did, they were truly gaudy. But a skirt meant no pockets, and no pockets meant carrying this.
  
The elevator set her down in the lobby as her awkward heels carried her towards the front desk. Saya didn't know where Lan was until it occurred to her, turning and looking towards the bar. There he was, sitting alone as the afternoon crowd started in.
  
He was looking at an empty glass with ice in it, but she wasn't sure how much he had drank. The bartender didn't make any motion to refill his glass, though, which was not the best sign. Bartenders do that before they kick you out.
  
Still, they had an appointment to keep. Tea, dinner, it didn't matter as Saya walks towards the bar, her clutch in her right hand as Lan turns and looks at her.
  
His hand covers the glass as he twists in his seat to face her, glancing from head to toe, shaking his head with a bit of a mile. “You look.. fantastic,” he says, resting an elbow on the counter, “you want to impress her, don't you?”
  
Lan stands up as the bartender clears the glass and the tray with the bill out of the way. “Aiko, I mean. You looked.. great before, though, don't get me wrong.”
  
If he was drunk, he hid it well, Saya observes, watching Lan's movements. Like on the plane, his movements were slow, methodical, but didn't betray that he was on any substance.
  
“Thank you,” Saya finally answers, “I thought this was somewhere between casual and business. Plus, I didn't really know what to expect when we get there.”
  
Lan nods, looking over at the front desk, then out the window towards the valet kiosk. “Right, it's..” He hikes his hand up so his watch shows, 5:00. He looks around at the people drinking tea rather than what he had at the bar, his free hand tapping rapidly against his thigh.
  
“So.. I guess.. we should get going, then.” He digs in his pocket and pulls out the valet ticket before Saya plucks it out of his hand, flicking open her purse and dropping it in.
  
“No. We're taking a taxi.” she states. Lan opens his mouth to protest, but closes it quickly realizing she could probably smell the liquor on his breath.
  
He follows behind her as they exit out of the hotel, Saya asking the valet to summon their ride. He jumps out towards the sidewalk and holds up an arm, a for-hire car squealing to a stop under the awning of the hotel's entrance.
  
She even opens the back door for Lan, which gives him pause as he looks down at her. He crawls in and waits for her to follow as Saya closes the door behind her. Leaning towards the driver's window, he looks back at Saya before announcing to the driver:
  
1 Chome-18-2 Ushitashinmachi.”
  
The driver turns and looks at the two of them as if they had no business at their destination. Lan in jeans and a t-shirt going hiking, maybe; but Saya with her hair, makeup, and clothes done..
  
Shrugging, he thinks, a customer is a customer, the driver flicks down the fare counter and starts off.

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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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