Disclaimer: I don't own any Azumanga Daioh characters.

Note: Just another experiment with form.


Cocktail

Yukari let her chopsticks tap the side of her plate. Her chin rested in her hand. The man beside her was talking of politics now. That usually happened when he had too much to drink. She sighed. Had it really been six years?

Across from her was an attractive woman. Eiko. She seemed to know much about what the man was saying. Enough to debate and criticize, though all in good humor. It was ten in the evening and no time for serious arguments. Eiko's hair was up and her cheeks were slightly red. Yukari had never figured her to be the drinking type. Maybe she was used to it, working in such a large company.

Nyamo was beside Eiko. She hadn't spoken for nearly ten minutes and had long since finished what little food she had ordered. She hadn't come to eat anyways. She sipped from her sake cup. Warm. Gross. But whatever. Eiko was talking again.

"Don't start spouting that damn Bill of Rights stuff at me. It's the Prime Minister's job to-"

"No this is exactly what I said earlier. Since there's no administrative court the processes are-"

"Just what're you saying now? You said it was the Diet, not the courts-"

"But are you talking about that impeachment mess?"

"I never said anything about impeachment."

"You were thinking it. I know you were!"

And so the conversation between Eiko and the man had been going on for the past half hour. Nyamo didn't care. At that very moment she was busy being glad for the restaurant's 'no shoes' policy. So was Yukari.

The light in the place was soft and orange. Everyone was loud and the waiters were obnoxious. The man beside Yukari pressed the button to order another round of drinks. Two Cassis cocktails and another bottle of warmed sake. Eiko had the Kahlua mix; Yukari the Whiskey Sour. Nothing for Nyamo, thanks.

The conversation moved on to education and then to kids. Eiko didn't want children of her own but she enjoyed being a babysitter for her friends once in a while. Nyamo also enjoyed kids but with the way things were these days it would just be too difficult, wouldn't it? Oh, don't look that way Nyamo because you know it's true. Neither of them could risk the repercussions.

"I used to think kids are more trouble than they were worth," the man said. "But now that I'm getting older I'm thinking that maybe it's more appropriate for a man of my age to- Well, it's not about reproducing. It's about responsibility. It's the purpose of starting a family, isn't it? And now my co workers are giving me odd looks whenever I tell them that I don't have any children. I get the feeling that…that… Er. Yukari, are you all right?"

Yukari was gripping the edge of the table now, red from her cheeks to her neck and breathing harder than she should have been. It was a moment before she realized she was the new center of attention. She quickly sat up and disguised herself with a laugh.

"Of course, I'm fine. But isn't it hot in here to you?" She fanned herself with one hand and took a swig of water with the other.

The man, slightly annoyed at having been thrown from his train of thought, considered it and then loosened his tie a bit. "I suppose it is. They always keep these places too warm for me. Just because it's cold outside doesn't mean we need to roast indoors."

The waiter returned and set the drinks to their recipients. Yukari closed her hands around hers and nearly touched her forehead to the rim. She was smiling. Eiko accepted her drink and was halfway through it by the time the bottle of sake reached the table.

The man poured four cups and then started on his first Cassis mix. A sweet flavor, but no kick. He enjoyed a good after-bite to his drinks. No, he wouldn't be ordering this drink again but it wouldn't be in good taste to waste perfectly good liquor. He moved the conversation to sports, just now noticing that Nyamo had been a bit left out. Yet he would find no audience with her, no more than a side-glance and a gentle nod of agreement where he had expected to find confrontation and a little debate. It was Eiko who picked up the ball and tossed it back to him.

"I know it's going to sound quaint but I was always a Lions fan," she said.

"The Lions? Seibu Lions?"

And so they continued until Eiko backed down for the first time that evening. "Should we leave after this one?" she said, waiting as the man refilled her cup.

"No!" Yukari shot up and startled two of three persons sitting around her.

And the man looked at Yukari for the fourth time all evening. He was frowning now and set down the near-empty sake bottle. "What the Hell was that?"

Now it was Nyamo's turn to grin. She watched as the man touched Yukari's arm.

"What was that?" he repeated. "You know, I'm not so sure about this place anymore. You get like this every time we come here. They really do keep it hot in here don't they?"

"No, it's nothing," replied Yukari. She tossed away his hand and sat up straight, making half an effort to fix her hair. She dabbed herself with a napkin and looked at the man with a thin layer of disdain. Six years. Six long years. Gone.

Eiko turned to Nyamo. "What about you? You've been quiet all day."

Nyamo shrugged and sat up. "I told you I've just been distracted."

Yukari looked better for a moment before she took up her drink. In lieu of bringing the glass to her lips, she spilled some down the front of her blouse.

"Whoops." And then she was up with the usual attempts at cleaning herself. "I need to get this out before it dries. Nyamo?"

"We'll be back," Nyamo said as fluidly as though she had expected the spill. She slid from the booth.

Eiko and the man were left alone then. Eiko arched an eyebrow and the man looked at the spot where Yukari had been sitting. It was wet. She must've really been sweating a lot. He looked around the area and undid the first button of his shirt. So it was hot in here after all. Someone should really do something about that. People can't enjoy themselves if they're too hot. It just didn't make sense.


Note: Things would've been a lot more graphic from Yukari or Nyamo's side of things but, meh. I was in class when I wrote this. Gotta love desks with computers.