Black Coffee
Part Four: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Summary: The obligatory bar scene.
Rating: PG-13

A/N: This piece requires a willing suspension of disbelief: imagine there's a bar in Tokyo – one of the seedier ones – where the bartender's from Brooklyn. No, really, work with me. An Army brat, some guy who moved there to be with his girlfriend, whatever, I don't know the backstory. I'm not the one in charge here.

The entire PM/BC sequence (maybe I should just call it "Miho's Side of the Story"?) is still in a state of flux. Pieces will be added, revised, etc.

So, a man and a woman walk into a bar.

No, I don't mean a couple. When ya see a couple, nine times out of ten you can tell. Not like anythin' physical, but it's the looks on their faces, the way the walk ... a kind of awareness of each other. These two didn't have that vibe going. I wouldn't say they were strangers, exactly – but they didn't have that thing between them, ya know? That thing that makes the air crackle.

Not to say they were perfectly at ease. The man, especially, walked on his toes. You ever seen the way boxers move, even when they're out of the ring? Up on their toes, like. What's the word – oh yeah, poised. You can sometimes tell a cop by that walk, but this guy was no cop. Even cops go off duty. This guy? Tense-like and watchful, 24-7. Plus, no cop wears all black and a trenchcoat, like someone from a Matrix movie. Kids who do that are mostly skinny Goths. He was the real thing. Not someone I'd want pissed at me, if you know what I mean.

The woman with him was a bit of an oddball, too. Oh, she looked all right – red hair, big blue eyes and these legs that just went on forever – but she was wearing another of those damn trenchcoats and a power suit. And she had this air to her, like those chicks you used to see downtown on weekdays, headed down to Wall Street. Cool and calm, ice water runnin' in those veins. Matter-of-fact and practical. Those big eyes were taking in everything, filing it away for future reference. Like I said, not the kind of woman I saw much of, in Japan anyways.

Anyway. They sit down at the bar, and order coffee. Nothing else, just coffee – and what're they here for, if they just want to sit and sip java like a couple of college kids? This ain't that kinda joint, we mainly lean towards the late-night heavy drinkers. Depressed businessmen, the high-end hookers, guys and the women they cheat on their wives with. Class ain't our strong point, see? If you plan on going home sober and alone, you'd be better off elsewhere.

Well, I drift off to tend to someone else – they sure as hell don't look like big tippers, and there's a drunk pouring out his woes at the other end of the bar, listening to that type is always worth your while – and next time I glance over, they're still sitting there. He's smoking and brooding like nobody's business, looking like he just stepped out of some foreign film. Just then he looks up, and makes this little motion with the hand that isn't holding the cigarette, and I gotta say, maybe he does belong here. Because that look says he's been in joints like this a million times before. I head over there, leaving Mr. Twelve Steps to talk to the empty glasses, he's drunk, he ain't gonna notice and I know a command when I see one.

"Scotch." He don't waste words, not this one. I'm turning around when the woman pipes up.

"Two." Brooding Guy looks down at her, for a minute his eyes kinda soften, and she touches the back of his hand, reassuring-like. Maybe this one's human after all. "And more coffee, please."

Have I mentioned this chick's got a voice straight outta a forties nightclub? Low, almost sultry, and warm. Not clipped, like a career woman. His is, of course – dead-sounding, and I'm wondering who the hell these two are. Like it or not, I don't get to wonder long.

Because the just then, the door opens, and in walks – no, swaggers – Synji Nagira. Or Nagira Synji, whatever, I never said I understood this damn country, I just work here. How do I know him? What kinda stupid-ass question is that? Every bar in this part of Tokyo knows that guy. Probably every strip club and pachinko parlor too. If you're gonna be an asshole lawyer, you might as well be like this guy – he does it right. The pimp coat, the Ferrari – he's like a cross between James Bond and Puff Daddy, with a law degree thrown in there.

And behind him, is the kicker. Now, like I've said, Nagira's no stranger to women – every time I see him, he's with another one, and I see him a lot. I ain't never seen him with this type of girl, though In fact, I don't think I've seen anything like this girl ... well, since my days in Brooklyn.

For starters, she's another redhead. Strawberry blonde, you'd call it, if you were bein' picky. She can't be more then sixteen or seventeen – if she weren't with this crowd, I'd walk her right out that door myself – and the way that hair of hers falls in her face, she looks even younger. And remember how I said that other woman, the one in the suit, had big eyes. She's got nothing on this girl. Eyes big and green like nothing I've seen before, and with this look in them, like my kid sister taking her First Communion.

She's a little bit of a thing, too – no more than five four, and the trenchcoat she's wearing looks like it belongs to someone else. Underneath, she's wearing black pants and a turtleneck, and she's so thin I wonder if I could snap her in half. Willowy, like a kid that suddenly shoots up and suddenly his wrists are four inches outside his shirt cuffs, but he still weighs the same. Her face is kinda wistful, kinda delicate, but that look in her eyes ... it's like a candle flame, still and pure and intense.

And that's when I realize that I'll be workin' late tonight. Real late.