The end of the month comes all too quickly, and before I know it, the grand reopening of Lady’s Bar is upon us. I’m both looking forward to and dreading it; I kinda already know it’s gonna overstimulate me, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make once in a while for someone I care about as much as Lady.
When the time for opening starts to approach, I throw on an outfit that Krystoff was… generous? enough to hoist upon me and head over early, just in case Lady needs any last minute help.
CALISTO: Jun! Long time, no see!
JUN: Hey! It has been a while, hasn’t it? I guess I don’t really have any particular reason to hang around a bar, haha, but I missed seeing you. How’ve you been?
CALISTO: Good! Working a lot, s’all. You know how it is. I kinda had to find other side hustles while the bar was under construction, so it was kinda chaotic for a sec there—oh, to clarify, Lady was still paying me while the bar was closed, but I was bored having nothing to do.
JUN: You’re a real go-getter, Calisto. Make sure you don’t overdo it.
CALISTO: Nawwww, I’m fine. Look at me! I’m in top form today!
He does indeed look nice today, his usual shirt and vest exchanged for something a little more festive. I feel like Calisto was probably one of those jocks in school who everyone wished they could date, but he was just too dedicated to his classes to give anyone a second glance. That’s probably not actually true at all, but that’s the vibe he gives off.
CALISTO: Are you gonna be drinking tonight? Lady gave me the go-ahead to give you whatever you want on the house.
JUN: Yeah, I’ll take a sweet tea if you have it.
CALISTO: Wow, sweet tea! Someone’s feeling randy. Alright, coming right up. You’re funny, Jun.
JUN: So I’ve been told.
I perch myself on a seat at the counter and take in the sight of the bar before it’s officially open and a total madhouse. Lady—or whoever she hired to do it, I guess—did a nice job with the renovations; the once-ratty booths have been replaced with sleek new seats and shiny tables. The walls have been repainted, and a good handful of mysterious stains and holes are long gone. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before wear and tear buffs off the sheen of newness, but in the meantime, it feels like a brand new establishment.
Other employees bustle about, getting things in order for the huge crowd they’re expecting all night. Calisto comes back with my tea, and I take a contemplative sip as if it’ll help me brace myself at all.
CALISTO: …Are you ssssuuuuurrrreeee you don’t wanna pre-game before it starts getting crazy in here?
JUN: Yeah, I’m not huge on drinking in public places. Thanks, though.
CALISTO: Yeah, no problem. So how’ve you been, Jun?
JUN: Oh, I’ve been fine. Just trying to make the most of my time. Trying some new hobbies, familiarizing myself with the area.
CALISTO: Yeah, Lady mentioned you’ve been up to all kinds of things. I could escort you to a few choice places if you ever wanted someone to see the sights with. I know a lot of cool spots along the coast. It is summer, after all! Might be fun!
Is he flirting? He’s certainly leaning across the counter to talk a lot closer to me than strictly necessary. It doesn’t bother me, but his confident smile and effortless ability to just… ask me out is kind of incredible. I’m usually the type who’s painfully oblivious when it comes to flirting, but he’s so forward it’d almost be abrasive if he wasn’t so affable. I have to commend his technique.
Before I have a chance to piece together a polite rebuff that doesn’t completely preclude the possibility of us hanging out platonically, cus I do like Calisto from what little I know of him, a pair of arms materialize seemingly out of nowhere and wrap around my shoulders, which, of course, scares the shit out of me.
JUN: AGHHH, KRYSTOFF.
KRYSTOFF: You two aren’t going to just head off somewhere fun without me, are you?
KRYSTOFF: Right, Jun? You’re not gonna leave me all alone, right?
JUN: I leave you all alone literally all the time. Also hi. Any reason you’re clinging to me?
KRYSTOFF: Because you were gonna abandon me… and go enjoy the beach with the indecent busboy…
He can be annoying and needy sometimes, but I think this is the first time he’s straight up manhandled me like this. Krystoff is mostly hands-off with others when he can afford to be, so any irritation I might feel towards this unprecedented bout of grabbiness is overridden by the confusing novelty of it all.
CALISTO: What are you doing here?
KRYSTOFF: Here for the grand opening.
CALISTO: Are the front doors already open…?
KRYSTOFF: They are if you’re not bound strictly to the material world, Calisto.
JUN: Do… you guys know each other?
I sense a strange spark of animosity between these two. Krystoff’s voice carries an edge that it usually lacks when he’s just antagonizing for the sake of generating negative energy or amusement. He also still hasn’t let go of me, and I’ve yet to determine if he thinks he’s shielding me from Calisto… or if I myself am the shield.
CALISTO: Yeah, I know this headache. I didn’t know you knew him already, Jun.
KRYSTOFF: Not only that, Jun is my greeted one.
JUN: Your what now?
First time I’ve heard that term, but Calisto seems to know what this means and scowls darkly at the apparition. I find myself withering a little at the sight even though it isn’t directed at me. Krystoff being behind me kinda makes it look like it is, though.
CALISTO: You’d better not hurt them, Krystoff. Jun’s too good for your bullshit.
KRYSTOFF: I’m taking plenty good care of them. Don’t you worry your pretty little head about matters that don’t concern you, Calisto.
CALISTO: Jun matters a lot to Lady, so they matter to me, too. Don’t act like everyone works the way you do, you selfish—
KRYSTOFF: As if you even have any clue what it actually means to look after anything, you ignorant—
JUN: Guys. It’d be nice if you didn’t argue about me like I’m not sitting literally between you.
CALISTO: …Sorry, Jun.
They both back off a little and look away sheepishly, like they really did forget I was here for a second.
JUN: What is a “greeted one”?
CALISTO: It’s when a magical being leaves a mark on you for other magical beings to see. Like a dog marking its territory. Being “greeted” has connotations of being cursed or inflicted with sickness by a magical being.
KRYSTOFF: It is no such filthy thing.
JUN: Oh, so it’s the contract-bond-thing we made. You could have just said that.
KRYSTOFF: That’s right. I haven’t cursed Jun. I “greeted” them to protect them. We made a deal.
Calisto picks up a glass to clean while this conversation happens, assumably to divert his anger towards Krystoff elsewhere, though he does lift his eyebrows at Krystoff’s words.
CALISTO: You’d better mean that. I’ll be pissed off if you’re just messing with them.
KRYSTOFF: I never mess with Jun. Tell him, Jun.
JUN: Hmmm, you did call me a “repugnant creature” yesterday because I eat food and you don’t.
KRYSTOFF: Well, it’s gross.
I laugh, and Calisto casts me a pretty baffled look for it. I guess that’s what it takes for him to process the idea of Krystoff and I actually getting along with each other, because he immediately eases off after that.
LADY: Hey, everyone, I’m unlocking the doors and putting up the “Open” sign now! Flag me down if anything goes horrifically wrong in your station, okay?
CALISTO: I gotta finish getting ready for the rush. I’ll talk to you later, okay, Jun? …And Krystoff.
JUN: Sure thing. Good luck manning the bar, Calisto.
KRYSTOFF: Later, peasant.
I give him a ‘was that really necessary?’ look, but Krystoff shrugs, and Calisto seems wholly unbothered. I guess they did say they already know each other, so… maybe they’re on a level of familiarity with each other that I just can’t comprehend. Or maybe they just equally lack respect for each other.
Krystoff moves over to one of the booths, so I join opposite of him. It’s not the worst idea to grab a table now before it gets too crowded for anyone to be able to sit.