Sore wa Himitsu desu


kay_icon.gif marlowe3_icon.gif

Scene Title Sore wa Himitsu desu
Synopsis Drinks are shared, souls are unburdened, and a good time is had.
Date October 16, 2019

Yamagato Park: G2G Bar (Gin Tsu Gon)

In the streets of Ginza district in the heart of the Tokyo Restricted Zone of Japan, the Dai Ginza Matsuri held every year since 1968 is still rife with festivities and the populace clad in happi coats and other celebratory outfits fitting of the timing for the cultural touchstone. Almost 7000 miles away, the same level of celebration can’t quite be said for the degree that Yamagato Park takes, but the people - for those whom the culture would apply - make the best of their resources to try and make it close to what happens in the homeland.

Kay may have wanted to stay home in the relative quiet, but that’s not where the invitation to meet Marlowe has brought her. She’ll have to make her way through blue, purple and red neon-lit yokocho-like alleys with their patches of warming yellow light spilling from the windows of the commercial district izakaya bars and restaurants, and not a small number of throngs of revelers to finally find herself staring at the digitally lit lanterns scrawled on with calligraphic kana. These lanterns in particular bear the signage: ジンツ艮 G2G BAR glowing down upon her features.

If it weren’t for the memory that she was actually in New York City, she could swear she was in Japan. Given the Yamagato Ventus motorcycle parked across from the G2G Bar’s entrance - a cyberpunk version of it.

A step through the sliding door of the bar causes the ambient silver glow of the front entrance lights to fade on and provide ample lighting for her to see in. It’s no dive bar that’s for sure. And if she really thinks on it, somehow the bar looks much bigger on the inside. The fully stocked bar is busy tonight packed with locals sitting or leaning against industrial modern wood and concrete, brick and metal furnishings and decor, and taking respite from the festivities outside. The escape is not complete; on the multiple screens mounted along walls at strategic intervals, satellite feeds of the matsuri happenings are covered over Japanese news networks. But inside, the atmosphere is calmer with the addition of green, live plants and normal people drinking, eating skewers of grilled things, and almost generally completely ignorant of the Yamagato PR head’s entrance in their midst.

Almost, because a voice pipes up from the entryway’s small-statured hostess that greets her with a bright, “Irasshaimase. Welcome to G2G Bar. How many in your party?”

Frequently, Kay feels like an intruder in her own neighborhood. Like a tourist, a voyeur. Her daughter tends to enthusiastically throw herself into festivities, getting dressed up with her friends in traditional garb to go out and observe customs. She, on the other hand, is dressed down in black jeans and a simple sweater of antique gold. She has enough experience with drinking and dining in Yamagato Park that she’s not surprised when she’s enthusiastically greeted at the door.

Kay smiles politely to the hostess and glances around the space. “Thank you. I think it’s just two of us tonight. I’m meeting someone here. Terrell-san…” She doesn’t need to stand on tip-toes in her heels, but it’s a habit. “Ah! I think I see her.” Again, Kay smiles, resting her palms flat against the front of her thighs and dipping forward into a short bow.

Honestly, it’s hard to miss Marlowe’s presence. Between her fashion and her personality, she seems to glow.

“Ah yes, Ms. Terrell,” chips in the hostess as she gathers up a couple menus and counter-bows with a gesture to follow. She leads Kay through a short weaving path around the customers until they arrive at the smaller private booth where Marlowe sits. Indeed the woman appears to glow, but that’s mostly the faint backlighting creating a halo around the profusion of curls making up her hair and glittering off the dangling golden hoop earrings. It’s like somehow she psychically knew to match the PR director in color choices in the form of a long black turtleneck sweater. Gold and black, all done up to match with the smoky wings and golden eyeshadow enhancing the almond-shape of her eyes. Glossy natural pink lips twist upwards to smile and she waves greetings with bedazzled nails and glimmering rings.

Once Kay’s settled and the hostess heads away, Marlowe motions to the menus provided. “I’ve got a tab running,” the woman notes over the music and soft din of people. “How are you? Is Ella out having fun? She better be.” It’s like she’s putting the onus on the parent to push the teen out there, even if the reality is a one-eighty opposite.

“You make me look drab, as always, Marlowe.” Kay teases as she settles in on the opposite side of the booth from her companion. “Good to see you.” She takes one of the menus and grins at the notion that there’s a running tab already. Good, the night is off to a great start. “It’s been too long.” For real.

The mention of her daughter draws a chuckle. “Yes. Her friends helped her shop for her very own happi. She sent me something like 36 firework emojis in a text, so I think that means she’s having fun.” Either that or something exploded. But Eizen hasn’t called, so everything’s probably fine. “Remind me later that she demanded a selfie. Proof that I left the condo and actually went out and interacted with another human being not in my office.”

Marlowe waves off the tease even though her expression clearly recognizes and accepts its complimentary nature for what it is. The recounting of Ella’s textmoji tsunami draws a gasped giggle of delight, and a hand over her heart. Marlowe is So Proud of your daughter, Kay. “Demanded a selfie?” echoes the engineer, eyes lighting up. “Abso-freakin-lutely you need selfies. Night’s just started, too. In fact.” Promptly pulling out her own phone, an Awasu model, Marlowe uncurls the device to sit it on the table. After a few swipes and taps, she’s set the timer and scooted closer to the PR director so that they’re both in shot. Get ready Kay, because the countdown flashes over the screen. 3… 2… 1…

There’s no click-shutter sound, but the portrait appears moments after, ready for filters and hashtags alike if wanted. Marlowe’s phone has no lack of selections and options. “Hm… looks good enough to post. And look at you, not drab at all in this lighting. You want to choose something extra?” she invites the woman. Almost too late to back out.

Great idea,” Kay declares, running her fingers through her hair quickly to make sure it’s fashionably dishevelled. If she looks too corporate, her daughter will accuse her of having the photo staged. “Best to do it now, before I have too much sake and my face turns all red.” And she’s pale enough that it doesn’t take much before that happens.

She gives a very mom-like thumbs up to the camera, leaning in toward Marlowe with a big smile. She can be plenty photogenic. But then there’s the question of filters and extras. “Oh, gosh. I usually just put on the Greetings from Yamagato Park border when I send photos to my parents.” She’s not very creative on that front.

“How do you like that, anyway?” A nod of her head means to indicate the phone. Kay’s quick to grimace and shake her head. “Right. Stupid question. I suppose I should get over myself and upgrade.”

Marlowe's look of skepticism at Kay's reluctance to upgrade does give the woman's ultimate opinion on the matter, but polite society dictates she shouldn't judge. "Backwards compatibility will always be a feature of future models, for… as long as it's needed," she replies with a wry smile. Oh Kay. Picking her phone back up, she takes over with the choices of additions to the selfie, her fingers and thumbs tapping, swiping, and ultimately posting.

Yamagato know where the party's at! #G2GBaa🐐 #LiveUrBest ✨ #MatsuriLyf ✨🎆#YamagatoPark #NYYP #YamaPRnD 💜🍢🍡💚🍻

Once Kay's parental obligation is thus satisfied, Marlowe leans back to a more conversational distance and relaxing back in to the booth, looking out over the people. "It's all so convenient, isn't it," she muses aloud, her volume only loud enough to share between the two of them. "But, I worry, too. What it does to the secret keepers." She lifts an accessory adorned hand to flag down a server, a friendly smiling face put on for a moment that wanes only slightly when she's turned to Kay, studying the other woman up close. "I meant it, when I asked how you were," she notes.

“Tomorrow,” Kay promises, holding her hands up in surrender. “Tomorrow, I’ll get one of the fancy new models and catch up with the times.” The fact that she’s not already riding the cutting edge of her own company’s technology is a failure. “Maybe I’ll even get one for ‘Ella too.” That ought to score her more than a few points with her daughter. She’d be on a roll after going out tonight.

But the subject turns from phones to reality. Kay settles back into her seat and allows herself a rare moment without her mask of professionalism. Her head tilts to one side as she watches the patrons of the bar passively. “I’m used to it by now,” she says of how she is and what her position does to her. “I keep my chin up and I do my job without asking more questions than I need to. Without letting anyone get close to the inner workings.” Which explains why she seems to have virtually no friends.

Ashita, ne,” Marlowe teases on the subject of upgrades. Kay may wonder if there won’t be a special delivery awaiting her and Ella at the apartment tomorrow. But on that same future facing outlook, Marlowe faces Kay, skepticism evident. “And what is it that you’re doing now?” By her tone, she’s clearly digging for those inner workings. Unlike others though, the interrogative nature of the question is not to strike in malice. Rather, Marlowe digs because of concern. Because virtually no friends doesn’t mean that Kay doesn’t have any. At least, there’s one woman who considers her within a certain inner social circle.

SEAN nights should have shown that much.

And speaking of sake, the first drinks arrive not long after the server flag down. Marlowe having pre-arranged some list of alcohol, most likely, and there’s enough for them to get started. “Hai, douzo, please enjoy,” bids the server, who also lingers a few moments after the drink drop off, looking at Kay also in anticipation of a possible order. Even the service is more Japanese than New York.

Kay seems about to answer more seriously when the drinks arrive. Uncertainty is banished by a friendly smile. “Arigatou!” She bobs her head politely, then turns her menu around so it’s facing right-side-up for the server. “Can I get this one?” A manicured nail taps to indicate her drink choice on the laminated page. “The Shiso Fine?” Again, she repeats her gratitude, “Arigatou gozaimasu!

When the server has taken their leave, Kay sags back into the booth. Like it’s exhausting to try and keep up this pretense that everything’s fine. It probably is. “Trying to keep things… under control. We have enemies.” That much is plain to anyone within the company. To anyone who reads headlines. “I’m trying to keep them at bay. It’s… tougher without Monica around.”

Since her departure, Kay has almost never mentioned Monica. She’s avoided the topic of her entirely as much as she can. This is a bit of a breakthrough.

Smiles all around. The server takes the drink order along with some skewer-type appetizers and departs, not lingering given the busy night.

To the note of having enemies, Marlowe only utters an agreeing noise. She reaches for the recently arrived bottle and sake cups first, pouring the both of them a serving - Kay first, as is polite tradition. “Moni - Monica - kept a lot of things together,” she adds in more verbalized sincere agreement. “Company veneer shattering revelations aside.” There was a lot Marlowe had to learn yet. To do so, though, she takes the first drink from the sake after a wordless toast. “I want to help,” she continues after the drink, “but, Kay. I can’t do what you do. Did? I don’t even know where it all comes from, your capacity to…”

To kill? To order a hit? Whatever Marlowe’s trying to wrap her head around, it falls off her statement as her eyes dip down to the liquid in the tiny cup. “But Kimiko,” yes Kimiko, “said we were infiltrated. By someone she had trusted.” She glances up. “You probably know the rest of what happened to Kam Nisatta.” She doesn’t repeat the circumstances, in that case. But, she does confide an underlying worry. “I’m afraid that going against Kimiko might have the same results.”

It’s bold of Marlowe to assume, she notes silently with an arch of her brows, looking into the very face of the woman who might receive such orders from on high.

Bold of Marlowe to assume that Kaydence has enough of a conscience as to not eliminate an immediate threat to Yamagato’s secrecy. Fortunately, the assumption is also a correct one. Kay is slim on allies, and Marlowe is a good one to have. “You’re best off doing what you do best, which is… I don’t know, literally anything you’ve ever put your mind to?” She laughs quietly, wearily.

“I don’t need you to step into Monica’s shoes. I would never ask that.” Kay reaches up and scratches at her eyebrow absently. “It’s my failure that I didn’t…” She swallows uneasily and takes a drink of her sake. “I’m lucky Nakamura didn’t just clean house.” It wouldn’t have been a stretch to assume she’d been part of Nisatta’s treachery.

“You know, I used to be a cop before the war. A detective with the NYPD. Vice for a time, homicide, then Evo cases. My department was scrapped in favor of SCOUT.” It’s not hard to see that Kay feels slighted. An SLC-Non-Expressive cop sidelined because she can’t shatter glass with a scream. “I guess I was used to making tough decisions.” If they want to call ordering a hit a tough decision. “Some days I don’t know how I got here.” The implication is that there’s nowhere else to go now that she is.

A softer laugh accompanies Marlowe’s gratitude, accepting the compliment first with a nod and subsequent refill of drinks. “That’s not what I was implying. Even though I’m weirdly flattered by your confidence in me,” she says to the notion of filling Monica’s role. As Kay goes on, Marlowe nods to the background she receives. It furthers some lines of questions, although her indecision on which to ask next becomes evident when Kay offers the mild lament of her situation.

Marlowe drinks in the moment of silence. “It’s okay. If you look back too much, you’ll miss the future throwing a pebble at the back of your head,” intones the engineer in a manner that sounds like she’s quoting someone else. “And for what it’s worth, I’m glad to have you along for the ride. You, and Ella.” Speaking of, it’s a reminder to check the post that she’s put on the Yama-gram. The woman turns the phone so Kay can see the likes and comments.

“Plus, it’s really hard to go back to a typical New York apartment now, isn’t it?” Marlowe adds, knowing how privileged and superficial the idea of living in luxury while others are pitched in FEMA tents sounds. She shakes her head again, sighing. “The rebuilding progress, I feel, could be going faster.”

“I can’t even imagine trying to do what you do. I think ‘Ella would like to job shadow you sometime, if you’re up for it. I can’t believe we’re approaching college applications.” It’s still a couple of years before the girl graduates, but openings are limited and applying early is key.

Kay leans over to look at the phone and the post. “Wow. That’s a lot of likes already,” she boggles quietly, scrolling through. “Ah! She’s seen it!” She taps the screen with her nail to point out the user Colella DeVil. “Hottie alert,” she reads out loud and laughs. “Hashtag like FedEx.” Her brows furrow and she shakes her head. “I have no idea what language she speaks when she gets on the internet, but it’s not English.”

Her own response to Marlowe’s assessment of the rebuilding process is a sigh. “There’s so much red tape, you wouldn’t believe it. We can’t just do things, because someone has to approve. And someone above them. And someone above them. It’s like no one can get their shit together and just let us rebuild the damn city,” she laments. “But they will pry the keys to my apartment out of my cold dead fingers. I’m never going back.”

"Shit, 'Ella? College? Uso… Has it been that long already? Well I mean, hell yes she could come down to the workshop and check out what we do, see what she can put her mind to." Marlowe's surprise shows genuinely, her expression showing calculations visibly in the way her face scrunches. The expression stays until she turns the phone to look back to the pointed comment. The smile returns as she chortles for the hashtag. "Mm, don't worry about it, Momma Kay," Marlowe covers for the teenager. The comment gets a Like anyway.

As far as bureaucracy woes, Marlowe shakes her head in equal lament. "It's ridiculous, and I've had to tell the teams that we might say to spare no expense when designing the solutions we have, but beware, because what if Accounting has someone with the ability to control bears." Beware of bears. This is something Marlowe has mild concerns about.

She might already be a bit tipsy.

Which, with impeccably good timing, the first of the ordered tapas arrive along with the next round of drinks, the Shiso Fine. There are still many questions yet, but Marlowe takes a moment to simply enjoy food, drink, a friend. "You know what though? I miss SEAN nights," she eventually confesses. “Can’t put that back in the box anymore though, can we.” She slips a look to the other woman, and a wistful sigh escapes.

Sou desu ne?” Kay responds easily. While her Japanese isn’t the strongest, some turns of phrase have integrated into her vocabulary just fine. If still tinged with her natural accent. Her daughter is getting older and there’s only so much she can do to hold on to her youth. The comment is forgotten about. Whatever her daughter’s alluding to, it’s over her head, and she’s accepted that’s just the way of things. Marlowe would tell her if she needed to be concerned. Surely.

Kay sighs heavily and shakes her head. “I don’t know. Probably not. But I still feel like we can manage to appreciate Eizen in a suit.” She raises her brows to her friend, corners of her mouth turned downward thoughtfully. “Or Wells. He’s not too bad either.” She takes a sip of her drink and hums approvingly. This is shaping up to be a very good night indeed.

A counter hum resonates around Marlowe’s lips, altogether in agreement with Kay’s assessments of the mentioned men. “Or yourself, Hottie,” her words slip through, caught too late and suddenly the tech director chortles. “Kōkai nashi,” murmurs the woman as she slides a sly look to her, then away. No regrets. At least, none for harmless flirting.

“What’s your plans after this?” Marlowe plucks a skewer up off the dish, waggling it in Kay’s direction. “I can’t in good conscience release you to your fortress of solitude until at least…” She pauses, glances to her phone for the time, then resumes, “1 A.M.? ‘Ella needs a good example of her mom’s ability to have a good time. Or, a bad role model.”

Again, the crooked smile returns. “We could go spy where Mr. Wells has run off to.”

Kay checks the watch on her wrist, assessing how many hours lie between them and 1 A.M. The answer is so many and it shows in the way the woman’s cheeks puff out with an exaggerated exhale, her shoulders drooping. Those chipmunk cheeks are just the faintest shade of pink, and it has nothing to do with the sake.

“You know what? That sounds fantastic.” Kay nudges her shoulder against Marlowe’s, a genuine smile on her face. “I’ll go anywhere you lead tonight. I promise to loosen up for a change. Maybe we can go find some trouble to get into.” Her brows lift a little at that. “I swear I used to know how to have a good time.”

Damaris Residence, Cresting Wave Apartments, Yamagato Park

3:23 AM

It's far past 1 AM when a green-blue LED flashes and a near silent shush of the apartment door swings open to admit the pair of women into the residence. "Ne? I told you, we were at my apartment," whispers Marlowe within the shadows. Until, that is, the motion sensors pick up movement within and gradually increase the ambient lighting to reveal that in fact, she did not bring Kay back to her place.

"Oh, it's not."

And that is somehow, hilarious. Marlowe stifles her laugh unsuccessfully as she leans against the other woman.

"Close enough," determines the engineer boldly as she guides her companion over to the couch and flops ungracefully onto the cushions. Her head tips back and leans heavily on the backing. She picks at a red glimmering hair clip on her head, set at a jaunty angle. Somewhere along in the night, they'd picked up a number of accessories to celebrate the festival.

Miraculously, neither of them have lost anything but their sobriety. When Marlowe checks her phone for the time, her eyes widen and she lets out a short gasp before devolving back into giggles. "Oh my god, it's late," she notes, then with a softer whine, "Kaaay, can I stay overrr?" Nevermind that her apartment is next door. The pouting, puppy dog look she gives the woman tells of her loneliness.

Haaaaiiiii,” Kay slurs in her liquor-thickened drawl, dropping heavily onto the couch. “You’d’ve let me stay if it’d been yours,” she asserts, just before she buries her face against a couch pillow to stifle her own laughter. “I haven’t been out this late,” she says, muffled at first before she remembers to lift her head to be heard, “since, I don’t know, before the war?”

Staying up late to work doesn’t count.

Carefully, Kaydence slides her shoes off her feet, but they hit the floor with a careless thump! One after the other. “Sssshhhhhh!” she admonishes the shoes for making too much noise. Slumping over slowly, she winds up with her head propped against one of Marlowe’s knees. It can’t be comfortable, but it’s where she’s staying for the moment.

“We sh’do this more of’en.”

Marlowe's head barely bobs despite the seeming gargantuan effort it takes to move it in a slow nod. "Absolutely. I would have," she affirms with the smile spreading across her features. Her head turns towards the stifled laughter and stares at Kay, brows lifting as she adds in a softer murmur, "Would have asked if you wanted to do more than sleep."

Then it's Marlowe's turn to quiet herself, hands pressed to her lips. Oops, said a bit much there. Hopefully Kay hadn't heard, what with the clomping of shoes against the floor. But when Kay's head winds up on Marlowe's knee, she can't help but reach over to gently brush at the blonde strands. "We should. 'Ella wouldn't mind… you having more fun,… in secret…" The volume of Marlowe's words slip away as does her consciousness of them. A contented sigh escapes.

"Your hair's so soft."

Then, quiet.

The following morning…

Footsteps dance their way down the hallway to the tune of some sugary Japanese pop song blaring from the radio in the bathroom, deadened some by the spray of the shower, which is warming up. The dancing stops at the end of the hall long enough for spin that turns the dancer in the direction of the kitchen. On the way there, however, the steps hesitate and falter.

There’s a yelp of fright after the two lumps on the couch are registered.


The teenager claps both hands over her mouth and stares with wide eyes at the tangle of limbs that is her mother and her mother’s colleague/friend. ‘Ella scurries over and drops to her knees on the floor in front of the couch, snatching up her mother’s wrist between her thumb and first two fingers. “Oh, Mom. Please don’t be dead.”

A sudden snort from Kaydence sends her daughter falling back on her backside. ‘Ella lets out a startled breath of laughter when she realizes her mother isn’t dead, she’s just dead drunk. Climbing to her feet carefully, she hurries back down the hallway, to the linen closet at its end. When she returns, it’s with two blankets. Carefully she tucks them around both the sleepers and stands back to smile. She also lifts her phone and snaps a picture of the unconscious pair.

That one doesn’t get a hashtag. That’s just for her.

Pleased that her mother apparently had a good night out for a change, ‘Ella skips back down the hall to finish her morning ritual and let the two of them sleep off the previous night.

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