One Night Out


luther_icon.gif ff_miles_icon.gif

Scene Title One Night Out
Synopsis Luther and Miles go on a guys' night out in Tokyo and …
Date June 19, 2019

An AirBnB outside of the Tokyo Restricted Zone

Though it’s the likely scenario that Miles could go anywhere he damn well pleases and doesn’t have to stay with the rest of the “Americans”, Luther is quietly glad that the teleporter hasn’t completely forsaken them. Not yet, anyway. There’s still time. But again what is time to a man who can instantly disappear and reappear where he wishes?

It’s that little reason, among many other reasons, that has been sitting in the back of Luther’s mind. A bothering concern, one restricted by willpower and a wish to honor Chess’ request about avoiding an uncomfortable topic. At least, around her. The topic of Miles is taboo until otherwise spoken, and he’s holding on as much as he can bear.


That makes it significantly harder to avoid when Luther shows up where Miles is as the evening begins, looming in the background and pushing his presence into Miles’ attention, not unlike a curious but needy cat.

“Hey. You wanna go grab a beer?” The man rumbles his question, a brow ticking up with hope sketched in his features.

Miles has taken to Japan like a duck takes to the La Brea tar pits. He has almost exclusively kept to himself, except when he’s needed for this or that thing, and even when he is, he hasn’t said much. So it’s rather surprising when he suddenly looks up and hey, there’s Luther in his field of vision.


He reaches up to scratch his head, eyeing Luther with all the wariness of someone who does not, in fact, like cats — which is, of course, the person who the cat always chooses to go to. Not that he doesn’t like Luther. But it’s surprising, and immediately somewhat suspicious.

“Sure,” he says eventually, “why not?” Why not indeed. “You can be my buffer, and I can just hide behind you if shit goes down.” He grins, though he’s probably not actually joking, and stands up. “You get to pick the place, though.”

Luther can’t argue with that logic, and in fact doesn’t. He returns that grin with one of his own wry, crooked smile back. And a nod. “Alright then. C’mon.” He tilts his head to the door and off he goes. They’ll walk, not jump.

For all the buffer Luther can be, though, the pair of them don’t really escape from the side-eyes and sometimes outright stares of the natives who have the luxury and attention to do so. Far too often, sharper ears can hear the tittering and other murmurs in a language neither of them are familiar with to fluency of the gossip. What they say is all a mystery.

No matter. In a way, all cities are the same because humans are the same. In the urban environment, a shining surface by day turns into a darker underbelly at night, and every city has windows of time where it’s exposed. Luther navigates them with the sense of a man examining the world through the eyes of a seeker. Whether it’s seeking shelter, company, or in this case, something to drink, they find it in the form of a narrow alleyway lit by hanging red lanterns with calligraphic letterings and electric lights casting long shadows on wooden slatted, sliding doorways. Some shopfronts are closed off with rolling metal cages, but others are open. The advertisements are told by the lights.

Luther leans to a side as he watches a trio of salarymen exit one establishment swaying and chatting amongst themselves. After a pause they bow briefly to each other and two break off in the opposing direction of the third. With an indication to Miles to follow, they head for that bar.

For its size, the izakaya is considered medium. But for the two men, it’s tiny and barely fitting of ten patrons at its capacity. A hearty “Irasshaimase1” is called out from one of the servers with a force of habit, only to stop and gape open-mouthed for a scant, embarrassing lapse of the polite face. That server hurries off towards the back kitchen, not bothering to further confront the pair of foreigners that have come in.

“Guess we’ll seat ourselves,” Luther observes after watching the server retreat. He nods towards a pair of open stools at a small square table.

Once seated, they only wait a short while before a different young woman sidles up and with a tentative bob of her head, offers the men a couple menus. The majority of it is in Japanese. At least there’s pictures! “Welcome. What to drink?” The server’s English is thickly accented. But she is trying.

True to his word, Miles is using Luther as somewhat of a human shield. He can’t be totally shielded, of course, because the man only has one side that he can block, but hey, at least it’s that one side. He doesn’t pay too much attention to those who stare, but then, he hasn’t this whole trip. Maybe he’s used to it by now.

He does seem thankful when they get to the bar, though, and he takes a seat as quickly as he can. The waitress’ words get a look her way, and he says, “Kirin Ichiban, please.” He’s been here long enough to know how to order at least something, so that’s good! His gaze returns to Luther, then, who he is still regarding as one might some sort of very large potential predator who one does not want to annoy in any way.

"Two," Luther clarifies for the waitress, waiting until she confirms with a polite nod of thanks and heads off to grab their drinks. The man's gaze returns down to the menu, perusing the offered pictures along with esoteric letterings.

"What's with the look?"

He himself doesn't glance up until after the question is pushed out into the open space between. "Is it 'cause we're not with the girls?"

At the question, Miles looks around in exaggerated apprehension, as though he’s afraid of being overheard, before he leans in a little bit and lowers his voice — though the lowering is still quite audible, more of a stage whisper than an actual whisper. “It’s because I’m afraid you might have asked me to come out with you so that you can get me drunk, kill me, and then dump my body. I’m not sure whether I’m liked in this group or not.” He sounds like he’s joking…maybe.

However, he does laugh a moment later, and he shrugs. “It’s nothing. Don’t mind me. I’m just so far out of my element I feel like boron in a uranium world.”

Luther stares in silence for a long time at his drinking companion, so long that it might feel like the set Miles has released for humor has gotten too real. Or landed flat on its face.

So long, that the server comes back with their pair of opened beers and two chilled glasses. Luther nods his head in thanks.

The young woman looks nervously between the two, settling in on Miles as the lesser of two awkward foreigners as she dips her head. "Would you like to order?" Her English, heavily accented though it is, at least sounds practiced. She's trying to be conversational. Unlike the man sitting across from Miles at the moment.

But, Luther cuts in with a point to the menu, sliding his finger down a list of items. "Kore kara, kore.2 One, each."

Japanese? The server looks astounded, and quickly schools her expression back to composed. "H-hai!3" she chirps, scribbling on her order pad.

Luther looks back up at Miles, fingers gesturing to the menu. "Whatever you want. It's on me. You sick of fish yet?" Miles may not feel like he's liked yet, but at least at the moment he's getting treated to a free meal from the serious man. A man who might obliquely hint at the other dimension from whence the teleporter came.

Miles watches Luther in that silence, and as it grows his eyebrows raise, before he finally says, “Nothing? Tough crowd.” He shrugs, though, looking up when the waitress comes back to take their order. He looks from her to Luther when the other man starts speaking Japanese, and there’s some surprise from him, as well, though maybe not quite as much as the waitress.

There is more surprise at the offer. Not that Luther hadn’t already invited him out, so it makes sense, but still. “Thanks,” he says after a moment, reaching for the menu. “Honestly, yeah, I kind of am.” He does not bust out some Japanese, but instead just points to one or two of the pictures that they have on there to show their tourists some mercy.

The toughest crowd, yet. Luther notes once their server's headed off with the order in hand, "I bet. Can't complain that they make it pretty tasty, though. Besides the food, what do you make of all of this?" It's hard to say for sure whether he means only their immediate surroundings. The man leans back with hand scrubbing at his beard and attempting to appear casual, to mask a deeper restlessness and unfocused attentions.

The hum of the bar noise continues on. The beers come fast, thankfully. "I mean, it's really different where you're from." From what he's heard of it, anyway. Luther returns his gaze on the man across, and his brow arches. "And to leave all that behind?" While he doesn't say it, there is finally sympathy that softens his expression. Understanding, even.

“Well, where I’m from all the fish are alive,” Miles quips, with a smile that tips crookedly on his face, before it breaks into a little huff of wry amusement. “I don’t know,” he admits after a moment. “Kind of hard to tell, yet. I’m not hating the less likely to drown thing.”

He glances away at the sympathetic look, though. It’s not a pointed look away, not sharp or obvious. Subtle. But it may convey his feelings about it. Or maybe he’s just curious about what’s going on around him. As the other man has said, it is quite different from what he’s used to. “Not sure how I feel about everyone knowing me when I don’t know them, but really it’s not me, but now it is me because I have all his ID cards and I’ll probably end up picking up his identity.”

A faint snort breaks around the lip of Luther's glass. He'd almost forgotten that implications of living in a water world until Miles makes the quips. "I'm not going to have to check you for gills, right?" he replies, side-eyeing the other man. But reassuringly, Luther doesn't make any sort of moves or grabs for throats to do so. He remains ever nursing of the beer glass in hand. "It's real fucked up in its own way. He," the man pauses, glancing away to the decor despite obviously recalling a memory of the other Miles, "had his own spark and energy. That, and he knew a lot of Shakespeare."

Luther peels his hand away from the glass long enough to scratch at his jaw and turns his gaze back to Miles, looking him over. "Don't feel like you gotta be him, though," comes careful, cautioned words from the man. That being said, however, he nevertheless tries to fill in the gaps with a curious, "What'd you do before?"

Probably not.” As though he’s being serious, though there’s some amusement lurking underneath the surface of Miles’ tone. He reaches for his beer, taking a sip as he scans the room again, then looks back to Luther in time to catch the little bit of information offered. It’s probably appreciated. “Yeah?” He sets the drink down again, turning the bottle around in his hand absently as he considers. “I used to have the complete works.” A pause; then: “It was missing some pages, though, so I guess it wasn’t really complete.”

He lets go of the bottle then, shifting back in his seat and letting out a sigh as he reaches up to run a hand through his hair. “Yeah. Probably good advice. It’s hard enough figuring out what’s going on without having to really pretend to be someone else.” As for what he did, he shrugs, glancing away again. “I got things for people, sometimes. Hopped around, brought people where they couldn’t really get to otherwise. Things like that.” It certainly sounds like the truth, and it makes sense, but he doesn’t elaborate. Instead, he says, “What do you do? Besides go out on jaunts to foreign countries.”

Luther considers his answers around the mouth of his glass, choosing not to reply right away until he's had that moment. "Well, before I quit my position at RayTech to become a world traveler," the man says wryly at the start, "I worked security. Was a janitor before that, and before that I went around 'getting things for people' too." A low grunt escapes him, his brow pinching in a furrow at memories of the past. Some things he's clearly not proud of. The glass in hand tips back. When his gaze lifts to Miles again, the other man can tell there's some comparison to a memory being made. Even if it is a subconscious one, it's as if Luther can't help the similarity to another face identical to the current one, if a bit younger.

The gaze drops back down to his emptied drinking vessel under the weight of guilt, though pulled away willfully. Luther works his jaw. "Guess we both do some of the odd jobs, or did. Pretty sure you'll find plenty of that sort of work, even without the complication of the Waterworld setting." People being people, and terrible people being terrible, he implies. Not much has changed from timeline to timeline. "But tell me somethin'. You could go anywhere. Do anything. You could teleport to the Caymans and just sip mai tais on a beach." The next look draws a curious uplift of his angled eyebrow, an invisible question mark over Miles. So why's he here, in the random bar in Japan, drinking with a man he barely knows at all?

That question hanging, Luther leans back and hails a server with a wave and a point to the empty bottle. Even in the land of the rising sun, the language of drinking patrons seems universal.

Miles sits back as he crosses his arms over his chest, eyeing Luther in an appraising manner. “Security, huh? I could see that.” Miles is also tall — though not as tall — but he is not built very solidly. More rail-like. He probably would not be very good at security. He quiets then, though the look lingers even as Luther returns it similarly. It’s not challenging, though that sort of look for very long may be interpreted as such. Before it can, though, he also looks away, reaching for his beer again. He doesn’t seek to clarify anything regarding that less than proud expression. They all have demons in this day and age.

Instead, he just nods. “Yeah. Probably. Lynette’s place is fine for now. If I get antsy, I’ll figure something else out.” One long finger taps against the neck of the bottle in consideration of that tacit question. Whether he’s gathering his thoughts, or figuring out the best way to deflect, is anybody’s guess — either way, he does not answer immediately. Deflection becomes less and less likely the longer that silence draws out, though. It does not do to wait too long to deflect things, as we know. It’s already hit long since.

“I don’t know,” he admits after a moment. “I left everything I knew behind. Everyone I knew. Or, most people. It’s weird to have people who I don’t know, know me, but it’s also like…a connection, I guess. Do you know what I mean?” Probably not. “I’m still on the fence about whether it makes it easier, or harder. But I don’t want to burn all my bridges before I figure it out.”

Assessment reflected, Luther sits up a touch taller in his seat under Miles' appraisal. But there's respect for the other man's choice as well. "Can't fault that. You'll find the Benchmark's a good place to be, as long as you want to be there," he determines with a nod of understanding. Expression shifting as a faint worry wrinkles a frown into it, ultimately he casts what internal concerns he has aside. "You weren't there when the others crossed," he recalls. Not that he was right there either, technically being outside of the Sunspot building when the portal to worlds beyond opened.

The conversation skips around the presence of the server who comes by, this time with a renewed set of drinks - an extra bottle for Miles as well - and the food ordered. Plucking up a small skewer, the man twists it in examination and stalling on the thought that ultimately comes out. "But I understand, in a way. When there's nobody you know around, everything you knew, gone." He sets the skewer down in favor of a fresh swig of beer. "That must come pretty heavily to think about. And not something easy to think about either." A long exhale later, Luther sits back and snatches up the skewer again. "What was there to do, you know, over there? For… for fun?"

“Nope. I found a couple after, though.” There’s a brief flash of a smile at that, not quite going all the way up, but almost. It’s close, anyway. Miles nods again then, letting out a breath that’s a bit louder than a normal breath, though not quite loud enough to be called a sigh. It’s directed inward, though, whatever it is. He looks over at Luther again, this time not the long study from before. Just a look, like one gives to one’s conversational partner. “But yeah. It’s weird. I didn’t have a lot there but…it still kind of sucks.”

As for what he did for fun, he laughs. It’s not a bitter laugh, though, just truly amused. “Not a lot,” he admits. “I had some friends, we’d hang out. Listen to music. Scrounge up some video games, play those. That kind of thing. We had tech, just not like what we had before. But you could still find things to do.” Another sidelong look as he smiles more naturally, adding, “What do you do for fun here?

"Eh, what're you askin' an old man like me for about fun," Luther counters, dropping a vacant bamboo skewer neatly on to the plate, its contents having been plucked off in one fell swoop. "Same things you're thinking of, probably. Hang out. Music. I'd like to claim I can keep up on the video games, but I'd be lying." He ruminates on both food and the subject, finishes with a swallow of his beer before he levels at Miles. "I'll admit I was concerned when you popped up." The admission is half-confession, half-neutral notation.

Luther follows it quickly, "You've probably already gotten that feeling of comparison. And y'know it's going to happen, at least around us." It's harder for him to say in regards to the world in general, but at least for the members of BOOM, their experience with the teleporter in this timeline paints a unique picture.

"I just… don't want you to feel judged by the shit you don't know about. The war you didn't fight in. The life you didn't live. And not to diminish your own experiences, in your previous time, or in this one. 'm sorry about your friends, though." Feeling the heft of the topic weighing down again, Luther shakes his head and tips back the beer.

“Come on. You seem like a fun-loving guy.” Miles grins widely at this, though that grin fades pretty fast at the statement about how Luther felt when he popped up. Figuratively and literally. He does pop up places.

He looks down at the empty bottle in front of him, and reaches for it again, grasping it by the neck and starting to twirl it around in one hand. The smile returns at Luther’s clarification — sort of, anyway. It’s a mere ghost of the previous smile, a half-formed thing that doesn’t really give the impression a smile ought to give. But still.

“Thanks,” he eventually says, and he does, at least, sound sincere in his thanks. “I appreciate it.” There’s a pause as he stares at that bottle in his hand, turning it around and then back again before he continues. “I know I’m the knock off,” he eventually admits with a shrug. “You know. Off-brand. Your mom tries to convince you it’s just as good, but it never is. It breaks easier, and it’s always the wrong color. Just…disappointing.” He says it lightly — or tries to — but it’s not really a light statement.

Luther lets out a snort of disbelief with the phrasings of knock off and off brand, leveling a long stare at his drinking companion wallowing in self-deprecation. "Shit," he grumbles after a pause, dropping the stare down into the empty beer bottle in his hand. "So that's how it sounds, huh." The statement turns introspective. Luther blinks once and flicks a glance back up to Miles, a wry and dry twist of a mouth corner up accompanying the explanation, "All that time the counselors at the Benchmark, the girls at Hands of Mary talking about… not focusing on the negative and looking at positive traits and accepting oneself. Doin' too much with the former, not enough of the latter."

A fair amount of Luther's order arrives amidst the man's building of what sounds like pep talk. The server sets small plate after plate down until their tiny table is virtually covered. She's even brought another freshly opened beer for the larger man, unbidden this time, as if to ply them with good eats and alcohol.

Luther spots the newest replacement, then turns and nods his thanks to the server who hurries off again. "She seems nervous," he observes a beat after her back disappears around a half height overhanging curtain. "Anyway, point is, give yourself a break. You haven't done anything disappointing, if anything, you've been amazingly helpful this whole fuckin' time. Not sure on the why of it, but I'd like t' think you're actually… just a fuckin' decent guy. Maybe that's a commonality with you, across all your… other selves." So concludes the man as he swigs his third bottle in.

The sudden arrival of the server to interrupt Luther’s words gives Miles a chance to argue, and so argue he does. “It’s not how it sounds, it’s how it is,” he replies. “Compared to the one who was here before? He was obviously better than me.”

And he might have said more, too — or maybe not, who knows — but the observation of the server’s demeanor has him looking that way instead. His eyes narrow briefly as he cranes his neck as though to see her, but she’s already gone. “Does she?” He doesn’t sound totally convinced, but he also does not argue with that part, since…yeah. By the time he turns back, Luther is going on, and his mouth pulls to the side in a shadow of a smile that doesn’t make it there, really. He opens his mouth to say something, but before it can quite get out, he seems to think better of it, and closes it again, shaking his head. Instead, a moment later, he says, “Maybe. Maybe the feeling will go away. Probably just…residual weirdness. I’m sure I’ll settle in better at some point.” Will he? Well, maybe.

"That's a lot of maybes," Luther rumbles behind a dry humored look returning to his scruffy features. He breaks eye contact long enough to assess the food placed before them. It's unlikely he knew exactly what was on the menu he managed to order to begin with, but there is a variety in the mystery. Most of it looks harmless enough. Although, is that a gizzard? Possibly. It's the harmless looking ones he nudges with his finger on the edge of the serving plate towards Miles. It's an unspoken hint, an insistence, for him to partake.

This Miles might not know the exact depths of the gesture as it comes from this iteration of Luther, but the bond of sharing food and drink, breaking bread with another, should be universal in its meaning of acceptance.

"You don't gotta figure it out right away," agrees the man once he plucks up some grilled and lightly sauced chunks of the yakitori. "And know that if you're in trouble any time… you come find any one of us. It's what we'd do. For any one o' you." A bite taken, a moment to appreciate and let his words hang in the air between them. "Tell you what though. We oughtta pop out of here and just… I don't know. Go somewhere, do something fun. Think you'd be game?"

“Hey, it took me a while to even get to ‘maybe,’” Miles says with another little laugh, though it probably can’t quite be called a laugh. It’s tending toward that direction, though. Somewhat. “Last week I was resigning myself to just being a loner the rest of my life. But I guess better alive than dead.” Perhaps slightly maudlin, but at least he’s moving up. And he does not necessarily recognize any deeper meaning in the gesture, but he’s appreciative of what it represents on the surface — he’s probably hungry. He does not go for the gizzard, but he does go for one of the others, reaching out to take it with murmured thanks.

As for the end, that has his smile pulling wider, and his head tips to the side before he says, “Yeah. I think that sounds like a plan.” And that is, precisely, what they do with the rest of their night. The exact details are lost to time and alcohol.

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