Kind Of


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Scene Title Kind Of
Synopsis Chess and Miles run into one another while trying to get away from their crowded living conditions.
Date June 25, 2019

Tokyo Restricted Zone

There are a lot of bars in Tokyo, even outside the city’s heart where the gaijin aren’t allowed. Despite efforts to come up with themes or gimmicks that make them stand out, many seem identical, at least to the undiscerning foreigner’s eye. Without knowing, as locals do, who has the most generous pour or is friendly to outsiders, choosing one is basically a lottery draw.

Perhaps it was the English title or pun that drew Chess in to the establishment Bar None, or that it looked like it might be cheaper than some of the competition. Perhaps she was just tired of walking.

The interior is what one might call rustic, with unfinished walls and exposed pipes and electrical wiring overhead, but not in a way that’s meant to be artistic. A glass of sake sits in front of her as she sits at the corner of the bar. It’s a crowded place. But it feels less crowded as the Airbnb she and her fellow travelers are living in — mostly because she doesn’t have to care about anyone here. Or pretend not to, for that matter.

It seems that Miles has had the same idea, because he appears in the door about a half hour after she does. He hasn’t gone out much since they’ve been here, so it isn’t as though he knows whether this is a place she hangs out while they’ve been here. He doesn’t seem to be looking for her, either, because the gaze that drifts across the bar is certainly not pointed, or really even that curious. The fact that when he does see her, he looks like he might just turn around and walk out cements that impression.

However, he does not, though he does stare for a few seconds before he starts that way. Sort of. Mostly. “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world,” he comments when he gets close enough, a little wry smile pulling at the corners of his mouth, and he nods to her. “Hey.” He has chosen to take a spot that has a person in between them, though, so he has to lean a little bit. Maybe it’s by design.

Chess doesn’t notice him at first, and luckily doesn’t see that hesitation on his part. When he speaks, she doesn’t look his way at first, but a small smile pulls at the corners of her mouth as well. She turns to look at him, catching the hint of a smile on his face, and she glances down to stare into her sake glass. Looking for a witty reply, maybe.

“Hey,” she says. Super witty.

She lifts her glass in a small gesture toward him, head bowing slightly, perhaps a gesture picked up from the locals. “I like sake better than gin. If you went to a gin joint, you might’ve been safe,” she says lightly.

“I guess you got lucky, then.” Miles manages to snag a seat when the person who had been the buffer in between them gets up to leave frees up a seat. Of course, it means he’s sitting right next to her, but he’s over here now. Might as well, even if it’s awkward. She’s also the only person he knows in here, and it’s pretty depressing to be drinking alone, even if you’re not technically ‘alone.’

“So.” He looks forward, lacing his fingers together and resting his hands on the bar. “How goes the mission?” His tone is a little wry there, though not particularly pointed.

“Not recently,” is a dumb joke, but something to fill the space, anyway. Chess takes a sip of the sake and looks over her shoulder at the exiting patron, then back to Miles sitting so close to her. It’s the closest they’ve been since she bumped into him so many months ago at the Benchmark and made a fool of herself. Even in the tiny AirBnB there’s been a few feet’s buffer.

“The mission,” she repeats with a huff of a laugh. “I don’t even know, to be honest. I haven’t done anything yet but a few sightseeing outings.” She lifts a shoulder, setting down her glass as she looks up at him. She hesitates. It’s already awkward, so she may as well go the full mile. No pun intended. “Hey, I’m sorry you got roped into helping out, but if my insane sisters or Eve didn’t say it, thank you.” She tips the glass back for another swallow. “I appreciate it. Even if you didn’t do it for me, I mean. It was nice of you. I know it’s a lot.

It might be dumb, or it might not, but Miles does let out a little laugh, and it doesn’t even sound forced. Just then, the bartender comes by, and he orders a beer, which does at least give him a few seconds to not focus on her.

Of course, it’s not that long, and he did ask a question, so he turns back to Chess then when she answers. And then the awkward moment comes. He clears his throat, reaching up to run a hand back through his hair, but he stills when Chess goes on. He glances away, but it helps that his beer has been brought right then and he needs to go about the business of drinking it. Maybe it helps, because when he’s swallowed, he replies, “Sure. It’s no big deal. Not like I was doing a whole lot else, right?” He shrugs, smiling a little bit more widely at that. “It’s a lot, but it helps that I don’t have to understand any of it. I can just relax and enjoy the ride.” His tone is a little wry, though. He hasn’t actually been doing much that could qualify as ‘enjoyment,’ since he’s mostly been sticking to the apartment.

“It is. A big deal. And you don’t owe it to any of us,” Chess says simply.

There’s a small awkward silence that she fills with another sip of the sake, before she turns to look at him through a lock of the honey blond hair falling in her eyes. There’s an impatient shove of that behind one ear, before she nods to him.

“What was Eve like where you came from? Luther and Lynette? Did you know anyone else?” she asks, brows lifting. “I don’t even know if I’d exist there. So weird to think about that. Or maybe if I did I’d still be in China.”

“I know.” Miles doesn’t try to say anything when that silence falls, though, just takes a sip of his drink, too. He doesn’t look at her when she looks toward him, but he does when she speaks. “I didn’t know a Luther there,” he says with a shrug. “Lynette…I don’t think she was from there. I don’t really understand it, but her and her husband were like…jumping through all the universes, or something. It’s confusing.” No kidding. “Asi, I knew.”

As for Eve, well. “Eve was crazy,” he says after a moment, looking away from her again. “Like, really crazy. Honestly, I didn’t understand half the stuff she said. And she was old, way older than here. An old woman. We weren’t really…friends.” There’s a little pause before the last word, as though he might say more, but after a second he shakes his head, and just falls quiet, though he does take another sip of his beer to mitigate that silence as well.

“Weird,” says Chess, frowning as she tries to wrap her head around all of that. She doesn’t seem to have follow-up-questions, at least none that would be polite to ask.

So instead she sits awkwardly for a moment, before reaching for her glass to swallow down the rest of its contents. Given the flush of her cheeks, it’s probably not her first, though she’s not slurring her words or wobbling on her barstool.


“Can I ask you a stupid personal question that I’ll probably regret?” Chess asks, turning to look at him again, as she gestures to the bartender to keep ‘em coming. Some gestures are universal, after all.

She doesn’t wait for permission, making the first question a little moot. “If you had met me in your own time stream and didn’t see me lose my shit and know that I got the other you that isn’t you killed, would you have wanted to talk to me?”

Miles doesn’t say anything else about people he may or may not have known in his other life. What else is there to say about it, really? It isn’t as though he can go back to that life, even if he wanted to. Which he does not, for the record.

Her question, however, has him looking over that way again, and his eyebrows raise. He may have been ready to answer her question, but she does not give him time to do so. So, instead, he waits for the question, and when it comes, he takes a few seconds to think about it. “Yeah,” he says after a moment, “sure. Why not? You’re cute. You have that tough girl thing going on that’s pretty appealing. I feel like you’re kind of mean, but I could be into that.”

Each qualifying statement draws her brows up a little further and she finally huffs a breathy proximation of a laugh. “Kind of mean,” she echoes, but she sounds amused rather than angry.

She reaches for the refill the bartender’s brought, turning it in her hands and staring down into it for another moment, before her dark eyes glance upward again, as if trying to read the lines of his face for the answers to the questions she hasn’t asked.

“The other Miles always saw through that. Told me I was projecting or deflecting or some other form of -ecting. Asked me what was really bothering me,” she says after a moment, bringing the glass to her lips to take another healthy swallow. “Not that he didn’t usually know what was really bothering me. We were pretty much together 24-7, especially once the war started. Sometimes I wonder-”

She cuts off her words, and shakes her head, tipping her gaze upward to examine the ceiling. She makes a face and looks back down. “I think I just saw a rat,” she says. “So long as everything’s coming out of sealed bottles I guess.”

“Yeah. Just a little bit mean, though.” Miles smiles at this — not miles of smiles, though. Just a little smile. It fades when she talks about the other him, but at least he doesn’t turn away or try to leave. When she stops, however, he tips his head to the side, glancing up when she comments on the possible fauna in the establishment. “You saw a rat on the ceiling?” he asks. “Are you sure it wasn’t a bat?” It’s a lame attempt at a joke, but hey, at least he’s trying!

“Sometimes you wonder what?” It’s said after a little pause, and his tone becomes more serious then.

“I’d prefer a bat. But no, this was running across one of the beams,” Chess says with a nod upward - the ceiling is unfinished with woodwork, piping and wiring exposed.

The question quiets her and she reaches for the glass, taking another swallow. “I don’t wonder. I know, actually. If I hadn’t gone off on a mission without him, he wouldn’t have died,” she says, eyes on the bottles behind the shelf, the mirror reflecting back the bottles and their own reflections.

“Sorry. I shouldn’t have brought it up. I know you don’t want to know,” she says, her gaze flicking from her own reflection to his in the mirror, and back down to her now empty glass.

“Ew.” Though Miles doesn’t actually look like he’s that bothered by it — maybe where he was before was worse. Better a rat than a shark, right? Probably, anyway.

He takes a drink from his beer, studying her as she answers his question, and while he doesn’t laugh, there’s a little skeptical look at what she says. “So your superpower is, you can protect anyone just by being in their presence?” he asks, his eyes widening as though he’s impressed, though that same skepticism in his tone kind of ruins it. It’s not sharp or derisive, but it’s certainly present. “That’s pretty cool. I would’ve asked for that if I’d had a choice.” As for whether he wants to know, he shrugs. “It’s fine,” he says. “If I get enough beer in me I’m going to be crying on your shoulder, too, so feel free.”

She rolls her eyes at his words as she pulls out a wallet, checking the bills in there and the number of empty glasses she has, along with the ones she ordered for him. Not enough to keep drinking. She tosses out a few of the bills before she answers.

“He was in my presence,” she says, brows drawing together. “Just not until the last minute. If I hadn’t’ve gone…”

Her lips press together and she shakes her head. “Fucking sake,” she mutters, before standing. Wobblily. She’s definitely drunk.

“Thanks, though. For being nice.” She heads toward the exit, trying to make it there before the tears come.

“Ah. Well, sure.” Miles might have said something else — or he might not have, too. Whether he would have or not, though, she preempts it by standing up to leave. There’s a moment of slight surprise, before it fades. “I don’t know if I was that nice,” he says, “but you’re welcome. I’ll see you.” He doesn’t try to keep her there, or follow her. Instead he just turns back to his beer. He’s got a ways to go if he wants to be crying tonight, too.

“Just kind of nice. Like I’m kind of mean,” Chess manages to quip over her shoulder. Her voice even sounds kind of normal. But then she pushes the door to step out into the Tokyo night outside, and her walk quickens into a run.

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