Sake Session

Participants:

asi_icon.gif chess4_icon.gif yi-min_icon.gif

Scene Title Sake Session
Synopsis Three friends get together to discuss a wide range of problems, from existential crises to a certain DOE agent.
Date November 20, 2020

Williamsburg Bar None


Sake Session? 🍶 8 p.m. @ Bar None in Wburg.

Chess had sent the text earlier. She’d be drinking tonight whether alone or with a friend or two. Paying for it in a bar surrounded by people gives the illusion that it’s a perfectly acceptable way to numb the feelings she’s trying to deny, and the cost will keep her from passing out in a ditch somewhere.

She got here early to secure a table; as usual, she sits so she can see the front and back of the small bar in her periphery, her back against the wall so she faces the bar across from the tables. While Chess is only sipping a glass of water so far, the table has already been set with sake glasses, but she hasn’t chosen the bottle yet. She peruses the list in its black vinyl booklet, but now and then her eyes drift over to the phone she’s set on the table face-up, though no notifications have lit up the device to grab her attention. It seems it has her attention regardless.

"Quarter for your thoughts?" The smile Asi has for Chess is visible only in her eyes, expression flat and verging on tense. She pulls out a chair on the opposite side of the table, the legs of it screeching against the floor. Her helmet goes into the seat beside it with a clatter, and with a shrug of her shoulders, she frees her arms from her coat and tosses that on top as well.

She really looks like she could use a drink. Were one here, she might pull the bottle to herself before she even sits— but the table is dry, metaphorically speaking. Maybe it's nothing, but maybe…

Sinking down into her own seat, Asi fixes Chess with a look suddenly more pensive to her friend's situation than her own. "Something on your mind?"

The younger woman smiles when she hears Asi’s voice, but it fades fairly quickly as she senses that tension in every motion that leads to her taking her seat.

“My thoughts are worthless bullshit and traitors. Keep your money,” Chess says, tossing the little drink menu Asi’s way. “Your turn to choose. Yi-Min said she’d try to make it but I’m not sure if she’s in the city tonight. She might still out communing with bears or nature or whatever.”

Providence is a mystery to Chess.

She props a foot up on the chair next to her. It’s a nice place, but she never seems to sit properly in furniture. “You doing okay? You look like you could use a drink tonight, too. How convenient. Aren’t you glad I didn’t ask you out for frozen yogurt?” They have never met for frozen yogurt. Not once.

Asi lets out a small, incredulous laugh when Chess theorizes just what Yi-Min may be up to instead of being here. It sounds so unlikely, and yet…

But even focusing all her attention on the menu doesn't help her avoid Chess seeing right through her, seeing how badly she needed a night where she could drink and feel safe with friends. She purses her lips into a thin line, looking over her shoulder to gesture with a murmur to the peach-flavored sake because a) the taste, and b) the size of the bottle. Then she has to face things.

And there's no sense in not just ripping the band-aid off.

"I have vanishing levels of confidence I am myself anymore, Chess," Asi says, lifting her small sake glass in cheers even though it's still empty. "I don't mean just that I have trouble knowing who I am without my ability. I mean that I think whoever the fuck stole my ability stole everything else about me, too."

"So I'm trying to decide just how I feel about that," she admits dryly.

Chess’ brows draw together in confusion, first, but then lift in surprise at Asi’s revelation. Finally they settle in an angry scowl on her friend’s behalf, and she glances over to the bartender as if to signal him to hurry — his back is to them, though, because he’s getting the bottle already. Thank God. She turns back to face Asi, one hand stretching out to touch Asi’s wrist in sympathy.

“Shit, Asi. I didn’t know you were among them. The plane crash, yeah?” The Deveaux Society was poking around in that, but Monica hadn’t given her the list of the affected.

“What do you mean, they stole everything else about you?” she asks, but the question is genuine, not some lead-in to an argument on Chess’ part about how the ability doesn’t make the person. “Because you don’t sound like you’re speaking metaphorically.”

The flicker in Asi's eyes that happens in lieu of a wince does little to mask her guilt at having hidden her condition for this long. Somehow, she assumed that by osmosis Chess would have known, but— no. No, she'd done exceedingly well at hiding her loss from everyone around her who she hadn't explicitly told. And that's what she'd wanted, right?

She lets out a harsh sigh, her shoulders dipping. When Chess reaches out to provide comfort, the only thing she can do is shake her head and pull her hand back closer, arms folding over her chest. She looks off for a moment, brow knitting in a silent apology even as she closes herself off. "The plane crash, yeah," she confirms quietly, distractedly. She takes in a deep breath before she looks back.

"Medically speaking, I have not been right since that event. We—" Her voice lowers even quieter and she leans closer so make it less difficult for Chess to hear her even if she wants to cut everyone else out of hearing. "Our blood has been analyzed repeatedly. The levels are wrong. The— the red blood cells don't die. The white are high enough we should be dead. We can't be scanned by MRIs to find out what's wrong with our brains— because there's something there that shouldn't be— because we're emitting an EM field that prevents the machines from working appropriately."

"A-and what's worse—" because that's apparently not bad enough on its own, and it's enough it breaks her voice. "One of the affected elected to have a brain biopsy to try and get around that, and they found a growth with…"

Asi trails off rather than finish. She's leaning far over the table now, her hands having shifted at some point to be clasped tightly in her lap underneath it. Her eyes close hard, and she murmurs almost incomprehensibly, "Chess, I don't think I'm human anymore. I don't think I'm me."

What a moment for the bartender to bring their drink. The former technopath straightens upright in her seat abruptly, once more putting on a normal face. She pulls her expression from despair back to something more neutral as the bottle is left, then slowly looks back to Chess as he leaves. Asi arches both brows, speaking softly and with an attempt at humor. "Couldn't let you have all of the mystery science project fun, now could I?"

Chess’ hand retracts, and she stares at Asi as she speaks, eyes growing a little wider with each symptom the other woman lists. She opens her mouth to respond, but stops to smile at the server, reaching for the bottle to pour for them both, first in Asi’s glass and then her own. This, she does a little more slowly than is her usual casual splash method — to give herself time to think of what to say or to preserve as much alcohol as possible, or possibly both. The bottle she sets aside for the inevitable refills.

She brings her worried eyes back to Asi’s face and offers a small smile at the attempt at a joke. “I don’t even know what to say,” she murmurs, despite the extra time taken to pour. “You feel like you to me, but…” She shakes her head. The scientific possibilities are all those she knows are already being studied and addressed, from what she’s heard of the situation, unaware it was one of her friends Monica was trying to help.

“Cloning shouldn’t explain those differences, unless whoever did this is really bad at cloning. Whatever else it might be,” she trails off. “What makes us us — personality identity,” she begins again, “is something that’s been debated a long time, and something that I’ve studied a bit, especially when I had my own crisis of identity thanks to mystery science projects.” Chess’ offers a small smile at that. “But there are people who argue about continuity of body versus continuity of consciousness, and I think the latter is more important, you know? John Locke said our selfhood ‘depends on consciousness, not substance.’ Meaning if you have your own memories and thoughts and are in control of your own actions, you’re still you.”

She reaches for her glass to bring it to her lips. “You’re… I heard some of the people had strokes or something?” she says softly. “You’re okay? You look okay.”

Oh look, Yi-Min is done communing with bears.

And she appears none the worse for it, judging by her totally offhand entrance through the door of the establishment a minute later, brushing a slim shoulder with the departing server on his way to another table down the line. In fact, there is no stress at all in the advance of the Taiwanese woman that would suggest she's been keeping the company of either deadly wildlife or people having strokes.

Then again, it tends to be hard to tell with her.

Blissful ignorance extends both ways— at least at first. There is no way Yi-Min can know of what had transpired in the conversation she had missed, but she picks up something in the depths of the look Chess is giving to Asi. From there, it isn't hard to gather that the territory she’s wading right into is, perhaps, a fraught one.

"Both of you okay?" she echoes as her sole greeting to the table, glancing from one woman to the other as she pulls out the chair next to Asi's so as to ease herself into it.

Asi shakes her head as her sole answer, picking up her glass to drink from it. "No," she answers Yi-Min, taking her first shot of the sake whole and swallowing it in one, pleasant burn.

"My latest running theory is we're not clones, we're some highly-advanced type of android that somehow receives all of ourselves, those bits of identity that make us us. The strokes? I don't know if they were time releases meant to kill us that just went wrong because of how resilient these bodies are, but if we'd been silently replaced and we had not all known of each other, known everyone who was affected…"

Asi's shoulders tent in a bitter shrug. "Well, it would have been a shame for us to have passed so young, but in a perfect world, we'd be presumed dead while whatever happened to us us…" But then she winces, closing her eyes. This sounds ridiculous. She leans forward to take hold of the sake bottle to pour for Yi-Min, her own, and then Chess' again too if there's room.

"Please, drink me out of this notion. Otherwise, the dysmorphia might do me in before the stroke does."

Yi-Min’s question is answered with a look of wide-eyed uncertainty by Chess, but Asi’s answer is even more terrifying than what Chess might have been imagining.

“Androids,” she echoes. It might seem at first like she doesn’t believe the theory, but as Asi pointed out earlier, she’s all too aware of various mad science experiments, so what’s one more?

“Fuck.”

That about sums it up.

Chess falls back against the wall her back is against, brows drawing together. “If they really wanted to test and stay off the radar, you’d think they would have picked more random people. Less important people, yeah? So whatever they’re doing… do they want you to figure it out — maybe not enough to solve it, but enough to drive yourself crazy and see what you do about it, how you deal with it all?”

Unaware Yi-Min is included with the ‘we’ that Asi discusses, Chess looks back to her. “Do you know about this?”

The utter lack of initial change in Yi-Min's expression answers Chess's last question before she herself does. "I've been riding this crazy train since the very day it left," she affirms as a dry-sounding half-sigh, the Americanism becoming oddly clipped in its interaction with her accent.

Yi-Min is comfortably seated at the table by the time she finishes delivering this, a contrast to the distinctly less comfortable subject at hand, and she delivers a rather pointed look of gratitude to Asi for the glass of sake that had been poured for her. Drinking isn't a request she'll turn down. Oh no.

"Well. I shall say this. Of us all, you are the technical expert, after all. If you tell us that we are androids, who would I be to argue? Especially given, ah. The extra tech that has been discovered inside our skulls." That's accompanied by a casually shrewd glance back to Chess, as though to gauge just how much of this implausible nightmare the young woman is now informed of.

"And if you are correct, Chess, I think that they— whoever 'they' are— will be quite entertained by the next step I intend to take, if they are not so already. Because I have just finished making plans with Yamagato to have mine removed."

Asi looks from Chess to Yi-Min and back again, her look nothing but apologetic. "This has been a lot to process," she tries to justify her silence. "And to be honest, I've not done a great job at it. Clearly. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have just…"

She waves the back of one hand loosely over the table in a vague gesture to signify just blurting everything out at once. The sip she takes of her next shot of sake is a much smaller thing.

Glancing to Yi-Min, Asi lifts her glass a little higher. "If you're taking the initiative, I salute you. Given I suspect it may be one of the pieces of tech keeping us alive, given our synthetic parts and nanobots and who knows what else, I lost my nerve on requesting mine out. DoE involvement or no." She looks of two kinds about that, disappointed as much as other types of conflicted, before setting her glass back down.

"But for what it's worth, I think the crash was never supposed to happen. Whatever they had planned on doing to us, it was interrupted in some way. We weren't seamlessly integrated back into our lives without anyone noticing, after all." She can't help the frown that comes. "And whatever their plan was, we won't solve it right here. We might as well drink, right?"

Asi looks back to Chess. "Please, feel free to drop any bombshells you might have been holding out on so I feel less like a fool." It's a joke made at her own expense, but it also isn't.

And she has no idea just what's waiting to be said.

At the casual way that Yi-Min announces she’s going to have something in her brain removed, Chess tips back her glass and reaches for the bottle to pour into it. Still, she shakes her head at Asi’s apology for being so blunt, waving it off as she bends one knee, resting her arm upon it, loosely holding the newly-filled glass in an attempt to pace herself.

“Nanobots. In your brain,” she repeats, just to make sure she got it correct. Her gaze moves from Asi to Yi-Min. “Please be careful? I mean, I get not wanting weird tech in you, but is it possible you’ll do yourself worse damage? Just…”

She sighs, a heavy thing, and takes another swallow from the little glass. “I’ve lost enough people to weird science experiments.” Never mind she exists because of one.

Asi’s question — and word choice — draws a smirk from the youngest of the trio. “I am good at bomb dropping, but you’re not a fool,” she says, then shakes her head. “Honestly, my life is almost normal these days. The only thing causing me loss of sleep is boy problems.”

She rolls her eyes at herself, shaking her head as if to clear her head from such notions. “I suddenly feel like I’m in junior high while you guys deal with real shit, so that’s fun. It’s not important in the least.” The lady doth protest too much.

While Yi-Min lets out a laugh at the unfinished entreaty to not die, she also looks genuinely touched, as evinced by the small smile that tugs at one side of her mouth for a moment. "Nanobots, and apparently some kind of implant," she verifies without emotion, picking up her own full glass. "Whether the crash was intentional or not, I do not think it matters. Our trials only appear to be getting worse with time, not abating. I would much rather cause damage to myself in the controlled environment of an operating room, than be taken by complete surprise later— with god knows who around me."

Clearly, given her proposition and brief explanation, the effects on herself aren't the ones that she most fears.

"Anyhow, please. Importance is relative. I would not mind hearing about these boy problems." She slides a lighthearted look to Asi and back, setting her elbows on the table and quaffing her first gulp of sake expectantly.

"If I'm an android, I've been an android for six months already," Asi handwaves in a further attempt to dismiss her own state. Never mind she was visibly on the verge of existential crisis minutes prior. What's shoving it down another night longer if it's been this long already?

Besides, there's Chess's heart to discuss, a far more important matter.

Pouring a refill again for them all, Asi's eyes begin to narrow. She knows after the terrible loss the youngest of them went through how hard it must be to break out of her shell again. "Who hurt you and how many bones of his need broken," she queries, perfectly deadpan.

“I too am perfectly capable of doing terrible things to myself without intervention,” Chess says with a small smirk to Yi-Min, but she shakes her head to dismiss the ‘boy problems,’ followed with an eye roll — directed at herself.

Asi’s question draws that huffed-out laugh from her as she lifts her glass slightly in a silent cheers for the refill. “‘Problems’ is probably an exaggeration. I don’t ever date anyway, you know? That door closed. And I’ve, you know,” her cheeks flush a little, because this is not the type of thing the three usually discuss, “slept with some pretty shitty people without really caring?”

Chess takes a sip of the sake, slowing a little now she’s begun to feel its warmth seep through her veins. “So yeah. I slept with someone and it was a mistake, but I keep thinking about his dumb face anyway.” She peers down at the fluid in her glass, then back up to Asi. “You actually met him at the gala. Castle.” She closes her eyes, perhaps awaiting a barrage of protests. “It was before I knew Eve was going to actually stay in prison. I thought they were going to just hold her like they did me.”

Yi-Min is midway through another swallow of sake when the name of Chess's latest paramour catches her off-guard. Whatever fragments of unspoken commentary had been drifting together in her mind are driven right off by the mention.

"Agent Castle?" she queries as she clunks her glass back onto the table without letting it go entirely, quirking a glance at Asi again.

Chess’ eyes open and snap over to Yi-Min, before she nods slowly.

When Chess says she knows who the person was, Asi begins to arch an eyebrow. Her expression shifts after that, her shoulders sinking back. Her head has to follow that backward pull in order to hold her tongue. Well, beyond saying:

"You did what?"

She's at a loss for further words, whirlwinded. Of course, Chess can't possibly know of Asi's mistrust of that organization— she'd not even mentioned their various, suspicious appearances related to the crash victims. Because of course, that she numbered among the victims wasn't even known until just now. But— even then, Chess knew there was something off about those people. After all, her and Yi-Min's interviews when they were held…

Asi blinks a look down at the table and shakes her head. "Holy shit, Chess." She picks up the rest of her small glass and downs it, letting it hold in her mouth, letting it burn the whole way down and the sweet infusion in it be left on her tongue when that fades.

It gives her enough time to give a more measured response. "If he slept with you, who knows how many protocols that breaks. You're someone they're likely still keeping tabs on, if they know the Entity still roams the Earth. So unless the Department of the Exterior condones sleeping with suspects in order to gain their confidence…"

She shakes her head, trying to indicate she doesn't mean to sow doubt in this case. Her chin lifts a little as she glances back up to Chess. "Do you think he misses you?" Asi wonders with a tilt of her head. "Too?" she adds, like it might make the tone of her cautiously worded question any clearer.

Asi’s words serve as a catalyst to shift Chess’ embarrassment to something else. Her brows draw together and then one arches at the suggestion Castle may have slept with her to spy on her.

“I’m not a suspect of anything,” she says, tossing her hair over her shoulder and setting her glass down with a sharp clink. “And he didn’t even know who I was until later, I’m pretty sure. It’s not like we talked a lot about the Entity or Eve or androids or whatever else they are looking into.”

Her gaze alights on her nearby phone, and she lifts a shoulder. “Maybe. He was hurt when I yelled at him for what happened to Eve,” she says more softly. “Apparently it’s more for her protection than punishment, so she doesn’t get possessed again.”

Chess covers her face with the palms of both hands, breathing in deeply before dropping them again. “Whatever his agency does, he does his job because—” he wants to stop an apocalypse? She’s probably not supposed to know about that, and she has no details to share, so she stops short. “He cares. About the weird shit and trying to stop it. That much I do believe, I just… I don’t know.”

Reaching for the sake glass again, she huffs a small, sad laugh. “Is there a thing like Stockholm Syndrome but for someone who saved your life instead? Maybe it’s just that.”

"Fraternizing with the enemy." Yi-Min adds to the end of Asi's observations with a laugh too light to indicate she actually means that. The unbroken informality in the way she takes her next gulp of sake, then sets it down, contrasts with the deep thoughtfulness that has appeared in her eyes.

As such, the look she fixes on Chess is a rather keen one, but with empathy more than with judgment.

"Of the two DoE agents I have met, Castle was certainly the more charming," she offers up as a wry personal appraisal, perhaps to ease down some of the cloud of uncertainty that has been piling around the subject. "That aside, regarding his motives, you have come to basically the same conclusion that I did several months ago. That this agency hopefully really cares about preventing whatever mysterious vision of destruction that they alone can see. And that their agents are, above all… human."

Human. Perhaps this desire for physical company was nothing more than that.

Despite more or less having settled the worst possibilities of her assessment, Yi-Min is still filled with a sense of curiosity, which reflects in her next question and quirk of a brow. "So. Are you still talking to him?"

Asi lets out a short, possibly involuntary laugh at the mention of some kind of Savior-sourced Stockholm Syndrome. She looks away to avoid it feeling like she's laughing at Chess, hopefully, shaking her head at the whole notion. "Given that the only people I've ever felt something for have tended to be persons who have saved my life, I feel uniquely unqualified to…"

She laughs again, rubbing over her face with her entire palm. "Judge." Asi sounds like she's chastising herself at this point, for nearly doing just that to Chess.

Her existential crisis is most certainly temporarily forgotten by this point.

"As someone who has never been able to turn that brand of appreciation into a lasting relationship…" She takes the bottle to pour again around the table, far less formal in the action. No second hand supporting the sake now— just a ham-handed grab of the bottle neck to guide it.

"Did he break it off, then?" Asi asks warily. "Or you?"

She's trying to reserve from further assumptions or judgments.

“I’m not the enemy! I told them I wanted to help fight the Entity back in March!” Chess protests to Yi-Min’s words, but it’s a little less defensive in tone, and she leans back, smile returning at Asi’s confession. “Oh, really?” she says, stretching out the word as she studies the other woman, her brows lifting curiously. “Who?”

But the spotlight is back uncomfortably on her, and Chess shakes her head at Yi-Min’s question, her brows drawing back together as she looks into the sake glass. “Me, I guess. I just walked away from him and haven’t talked to him since,” she says, lifting the glass to swallow all of what's in it, then closing her eyes as the liquid burns its way down to her core.

“This just isn’t like me, to,” she gestures vaguely as she looks for a word, “wallow. I mean, none of it was like me. I just — it’s not like it was going to be anything. I just haven’t…” she trails off and leans forward, crossing her arms on the table so she can lay her head on them.

Her shoulders rise and fall in a mock crying sound that ends in a rough laugh. “I haven’t like liked a new guy since I was 16 and met the other Miles, and I’ve never been through this stupid shit before and I don’t know how to deal with it,” her muffled voice explains.

Lifting her head, Chess sighs, face flushed. “I told you it’s not important, not compared to being androids. You two win. Hands down.”

Seeing all of that, Yi-Min can only shake her head at Chess with the lightest snort. "Don't be foolish," she reprimands almost gaily, though her volume is tempered by a greater gentleness. "I just finished saying it, no? Importance is relative. There is no 'winning,' and this is not the stupid consequence Olympics. If it were, I think I would give you both an amazing run for your money." With that, she lifts her glass back to her lips and lets it hover there for a few purposeful moments, her air of mild, waggish nonchalance still visibly softened by commiseration. "I take it you are close to Eve, then, to let it become the dividing issue in your time together. I am sorry."

And she sounds it, too. These things were never easy, and she of all people knew it too well.

But then she allows her focus to trail back to Asi— partly because she seems sympathetic about the discomfort the spotlight is bringing to Chess, and partly because this is just interesting. "And what of you, then, hm. Is there someone you have feelings for?"

Asi's not even sure where to begin passing comment again after Chess's near-swing of the topic back around to her. But she finishes pouring the bottle, sets it aside, and nods in commiseration. Quiet commiseration this time. wouldn't want the topic to—

And then Yi-Min turns on her and Asi's eyes narrow slightly.

Ah, shit.

"That is such a way to put it, Ms. Yeh," Asi balks, sitting properly upright now. "And I am not sure I have had enough to drink to begin to discuss it in detail." Her nose rankles, though, because all she's certainly doing is inviting more of this on herself. "But what I can do is offer advice from my own experiences, or rather, the lack of them."

She lifts up her glass to Chess, brows arching. "Be forward. Do not expect things will just change over time. Either you are the agent of change, or nothing will happen." Her glass slowly lowers more toward the table again as she quietly adds, "And as far as what's happened with Eve…"

That's a harder thing to discuss. Asi shakes her head slightly. "Speaking of the questionable-actions-and-consequences Olympics, what has happened around her was bound to catch up with her eventually. My feelings are just as mixed as yours, but…" Her head quirks at an angle for just a moment. "We should all count her lucky that she's still alive, after everything that happened, and her… cheek."

It's uncomfortable to have to acknowledge, but it is what it is. She glances back up to Chess with a sigh from her nose. "My point is, unless there is a reason Eve should get in the way— don't take it out on him. If you want to figure out your feelings on him, the only way you can do that is by talking with him again."

Chess manages to get herself upright from her mock tantrum, lifting the sake for another sip just as Yi-Min dubs their bad decision making as the stupid-consequence Olympics. She snorts, then whimpers again when she reaches up to rub her nose, now burning with sake.

“Jesus.”

Now their ire and shock over the maybe-maybe-not recipient of her feelings have lessened and both women are offering thoughtful advice, she sombers, staring at the table in front of her quietly for a moment.

Lifting her eyes, Chess looks from one to the other, and offers a small smile, and lifts a shoulder. “I was upset about Eve. I mean, I still am, but he didn’t know that was going to happen, and part of it is for her safety, regarding, you know. Fucking body-snatching bitches.”

She reaches for the bottle to pour herself another glass. The glasses are small, people. “But,” she begins, grimacing slightly, before looking up again, “I think maybe I’m using Eve as an excuse.”

Oh, so now she's 'Ms. Yeh'. A playful sheen of amusement appears in Yi-Min's gaze at Asi's rebuttal, but she does not seem particularly inclined to press.

More drinks first, then.

As for Chess. Well. "So, what you are saying is that you will be talking with him again." It's not a question. If anything, it sounds almost like a directive, offered in her own brand of brighter, much more laid-back agreement with Asi's commentary on the importance of communication.

"Maybe," Asi agrees mildly, more directly to Chess suggesting she might be using Eve as an excuse. Her eyes go to Yi-Min after with her directive, then flit back to Chess with an arch of her brows.

You heard the woman.

"Call him," she echoes, goading the youngest of the trio on. "No, text him," comes the swift correction. Who calls anybody these days if it's not for business? It's at least prefaced by texts first. "You should do it now," Asi suggests, corner of her mouth pulling back in a grin. "So you don't chicken out later."

The advice is followed by a healthy drink of sake to drive home her point.

The youngest of the trio looks from Yi-Min to Asi, then reaches for the bottle of sake to top them all off, finding the bottom of the bottle as the last drops trickle into her own glass.

She huffs a little laugh, then looks over to Yi-Min. “I don’t know. I don’t do real relationships, and he’s actually really sweet, you know? He’s not the kinda guy you just smash and dash, you know? Even if he kinda looks like it.”

Ouch. Sorry, Basil. She’s a little drunk.

“Oh, hell no,” Chess says with a laugh, glancing down at the phone and back over at Asi when she advises texting now. “I have never drunk texted in my life and I’m not about to start now, and with an audience to peer pressure me into making bad decisions.”

Chess lifts the glass and nods to each of them. “I make my bad decisions just fine on my own,” she says, before drinking the glass down to its dregs and setting it on the table.


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