38 – The Dive

“We are not selling drugs.”   You have enough trouble being a thief.  No need to add Drug Dealer to the list.

“You are going to turn it into the Chuzei.” Aiko says in disgust.

“We are going to throw it into the sea?” Masaru asks hopefully.

“No.  I’m going to track Ika down and see what she was going to do with the cocaine.”   You gingerly pick up the packet in your hands and close your eyes.  You relax your mind and the thread of fate come into focus.   You search for the one for the cocaine packet.

“I have an address.”  You hear a rustle as someone gets some paper. You recite the address and open your eyes.   “Did you get that?”

“Yes.”  Aiko reads to you the address that she wrote down.

You nod and notice that Chiyoko seem a bit uncomfortable.    She gets up from the bed and picks up her jade sword.  “What is it?”  you ask.

“It’s nothing.”    She says as she belts on her sword and grabs a long hooded cloak.  “Let’s go.”

The address leads you to a dive bar at the outskirts of the city.   It is a two story building made up of weathered grey wood.   The peeling paint on the glass window declares the bar “The Sailor’s Grotto.”   You attune yourself to the fate threads in the area to be given Prior Warning of danger.

“You guys wait here.  I’ll see if she is in there.”  You start towards the bar, when Chiyoko grabs you by the arm.

“Yeah…. You aren’t going into that place alone.   Aiko, you and Masaru stay out here and let us know if this Ika person shows up.”   Aiko nods.   You and Chiyoko head towards the bar.

“I could have handled it.”

“I’m sure you could have, but why go in without a second set of eyes if you don’t have to?”

You shrug and open the door and find a man sitting in a chair by the door.  “Heeyyy.  The Fruit Cup Stand is five blocks down, kiddos.”

“We aren’t here for Fruit Cups.”   You say annoyed.  “We are looking for someone.”

“Trust me, you don’t want any of the lot who drinks here.”  The bouncer waves his hands dismissively.  “Now scat!”

You open your mouth to say something, when Chiyoko lowers her hood to reveal her aspect marks.   “I think we can take care of ourselves.”  She ignores the bouncer and heads into the bar.   The bouncer doesn’t even try to stop her.

“We were never here.” You add belatedly and hurry to follow Chiyoko.   “Revealing yourself wasn’t the smartest idea.”

“Why?  No one knows who I am here.  I’m just another Dragonblooded student.  This place smells awful.”   The bar stinks of mold, piss, and liquor.   You look around for Ika but don’t see her.

“Are you sure she is supposed to be here?” Chiyoko hold her hand against her nose.

“Hopefully.   I wasn’t able to get a time frame.”  You and Chiyoko sit down at one of the small tables in the back.    You realize that have what you wanted – You and Chiyoko alone.

“This place is boring.   I don’t know why adults like to hang out at bars.” You comment.

“I don’t think any of these adults actually want to be here.”  Chiyoko points out.   Every adult in the bar seems to be unhappy and staring down at their drink.   You watch the bar fill up as the evening turns into night.

“Do you do a lot of waiting as a Sidereal?”  Chiyoko asks.

“I don’t do much of anything.” You admit. “Akachi won’t let me go on any more missions in case I get hurt.  Everyone treats me like a kid.  ”

“You too?!   My father is the same way.   He actually sent bodyguards to the school with us.   It was so embarrassing.   The Chuzei had to send them back.  “

“Maidens. I glad Akachi didn’t think of the same thing.”

“Svante?”  Chiyoko asks timidly.   “When you use your information gathering charms, do you ask about me?”

Where did that question come from?  “No.  Well… once.”

Chiyoko seems disappointed.  “What did you ask?”

“I don’t want to tell you.  It’s stupid…. But I asked if you liked Fruit Cups.”

“What?”  Chiyoko laughs.   “Why didn’t you just ask me?”

“I told you it was stupid!  I just really wanted to make sure you like them before I offered you one.”

Chiyoko grips your hand.   “Svante, can you promise me something?”

“Um…  What?”

“If you want to know something about me, can you just ask me?” She blushes.  “One of the things I …um… like about you is that you don’t know everything about me.   In Meru, everyone knows every detail about my life.   Everyone talks about me, but no one talks to me.  You are one of the few people I can actually tell things to. “

You hesitate. “I’m not sure.  What if…”

“Please?”

It seems to be really important to her.   “Okay.   I promise.”

Chiyoko smiles and squeezes your hand.   You sit together in the dive bar, holding hands.  You wonder how to go from holding hands to kissing.  At the Yu-Shan Gate and the beach, Chiyoko made the first move.  She wasn’t doing anything now.  Was it your turn to start the kissing?  Do couples switch off?

Maybe you should have paid more attention to Akachi when he tried to give you advice earlier.   Though most of his advice seemed to be about listening, and manners, and being polite.  You’re pretty sure he didn’t say anything about kissing.

“I wouldn’t worry too much.”  Chiyoko says.  “You didn’t know that this woman put the stuff into your bag, so it isn’t your fault.”

“I wasn’t worried about that.”  You admit.

“What are you thinking about then?”

“This.”  You decide to just go for it.   What’s the worst that could happen?

As you lean closer, you recognize that the worse that could happen is that Chiyoko could ignite her anima and set you on fire.   You decide not to push your luck and very carefully press your lips against hers.   You start to move away but stop yourself.

“At least she didn’t set me on fire.”  You hear Chiyoko giggle and realize you said that out loud.

You can’t think of a clever way to cover for your slip-up, so you kiss her again.   This kiss was more involved than the previous one, so at first you are unsure what exactly to do.  Then a shadow of an old memory comes to you and you use that as a guide.   You relax and begin to notice little details about Chiyoko.  Like how she tastes of taffy.   You gently run your fingers through her orange ponytail.

You don’t know how long you have been kissing when Chiyoko suddenly breaks off.  She presses her forehead against yours.  “He’s so annoying.”   She whispers.   “Masaru says that a feathered woman is heading towards the bar. “

It takes you a moment comprehend what she is saying.  “Maidens.”  You scoot your chair away from Chiyoko’s.  You fold your hands on the scratched up table in front of you, hoping that it makes you look more mature.

Ika enters the bar, looking disheveled and discouraged.  The feathered haired woman is carrying a heavy bag.  She searches the bar for an empty table and is startled when she sees you.   With a relieved smile, she walks over.  “I’ve been looking for you all over the city and when I give up, here you are.”

“You left without paying for your food.”   You remind her.

“I figured with your big Yu Shan salary, you could cover it.”

“I don’t get a big Yu Shan Salary.  I have an allowance.”

“Oh.”  She sits down at the table, placing her heavy bag on the floor.   “To be honest, I didn’t have the money to cover the food anyways.”

“Then why did you order three espressos!?”   That was excessive, if you weren’t planning on paying for the food.

“I have a late night ahead of me and needed them to stay awake!”  Ika settles in her chair.  “Fine.  Give me the dust and I will pay you for the fucking espressos and get out of you and your girlfriend’s hair.”

“Not until you tell me what is going on.”  Obviously she was up to something.  If she gets into trouble, it could put the Owl in a bad mood.

“What?  You going to mother me now?  You really don’t want to get involved in my business, kid.  Give me back my dust.”

“If you didn’t want me involved you shouldn’t have put the dust in my bag.”

“I wouldn’t have if I had known you were my mother’s new incarnation.”  She throws her hands up.  “What are you, thirteen?    What are you going to do with the dust?   If you were going to turn it in, you wouldn’t be here.”

The bottom drops out of your stomach as you feel the thread vibrations that herald violence.    You are in danger!

“There are three armed mercenaries heading towards the bar,” you hear Masaru’s voice whisper in your ear.

What do you do?

  • Leave the bar with Chiyoko
  • Hide and see what is going to happen
  • Stay at the table and try to defuse the situation
  • Other
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