Krystoff crosses his knees and leans against the table, already looking like he’s mentally unplugged himself from the situation. I can’t say I really blame him; the sight of dozens of people already crowding into the bar gives me a small spike of apprehension, but I shift focus to my tea and the one person in front of me instead.
JUN: So… What the hell’s up with you and Calisto?
KRYSTOFF: Huh? Oh. He and I were… involved, in the past.
I almost knock my drink over.
KRYSTOFF: I wouldn’t use a vulgar word like that to describe it, but I guess.
JUN: Whoaaa. That’s nuts.
He folds his arms cross his chest defensively.
KRYSTOFF: What about it?
JUN: I guess it’s just hard for me to imagine you and Calisto together. He’s so grounded, and you’re so… well…
KRYSTOFF: So what?
KRYSTOFF: Hey, don’t think you can just drink your swill and get away without answering. You’ll have to stop sipping eventually.
JUN: …It’s just that you two are very different.
KRYSTOFF: Why do you think it ended so poorly? Look, it was a long time ago… I don’t intend to make a mistake like that ever again.
He looks like the topic makes him want to take a hammer to his face, so I decide against asking him for the gory details, as a kindness.
JUN: Where’s Regenald at today? It’s not often I see you without him.
KRYSTOFF: He didn’t want to deal with the crowds, so I left him at home.
JUN: Ah, okay. Honestly, I don’t know how long I’ll stay, myself. I wanted to show Lady my support, but I’ll probably sneak out if it gets crazy.
KRYSTOFF: Just as well. I’ll leave when you do. I’m only here for energy.
JUN: Speaking of energy, I guess I could stand to eat something while we’re here… I was so preoccupied with getting ready that I forgot to eat.
KRYSTOFF: Mm. You look nice, by the way. Your hair is flattering like that.
He says this quickly and while looking at something on the wall, as if he hopes I’ll miss what he said entirely. But I most certainly heard.
JUN: Oh, thanks… You look nice too.
KRYSTOFF: Of course I do. I handpicked my physical form. I haven’t looked bad a single day in my life.
But rather than bragging, he looks a little despondent about this information. I have no idea what to make of it, so I just blink sheepishly and go back to my tea.
TOR: Hello, neighbors! So glad to see you both!
JUN: Tor! And Cassius?
Now this is an odd pair. Tor seats himself next to Krystoff, crowding the confused apparition up against the wall, and Cassius politely stands at the end of the table until I gesture for him to sit with me. When I glance around us, I see that the bar is already packed to capacity.
TOR: Great to see you two here!! How about this crowd, eh? I thought getting here a bit after opening would be fine, but apparently not! Hahaha!
JUN: Yeah, I had no clue this bar was so well-loved. I take it you’re both here for the discounted drinks and food?
TOR: Already got an order coming my way! That is, if the waiters can find their way through that labyrinth of bodies.
CASSIUS: Ah, I can’t eat or drink. I’m here because I’m an opening act for the live music tonight! Tor and I are just hanging out until it’s my turn to play.
JUN: Whoa, Cassius, congrats! That’s a big deal!
CASSIUS: No, no, it’s really nothing… Lady was super kind to ask me to play a set.
Krystoff has been conspicuously quiet, so I decide to throw him into the fray.
JUN: Cassius, I don’t know if you and Krystoff have met before?
CASSIUS: Um… I don’t think so? No… I’ve seen him around the neighborhood before though! My name’s Cassius Rhodes. N-nice to meet you, Krystoff.
Krystoff puts a hand out, and Cassius visibly flinches at the gesture but reciprocates the handshake anyway. I still don’t know him too well, but man, he’s skittish over the weirdest things sometimes. Regardless, Krystoff looks more on top of his game now; he smirks and leans in to converse with Cassius.
CASSIUS: You’re, uh, you’re our sector’s appointed apparition, right?
KRYSTOFF: That’s me.
CASSIUS: I’ve never met one before… I mean, I never met the one who presided over the previous sector I lived in…
KRYSTOFF: Apparitions are usually pretty uninvolved with everyone, aside from being present to collect energy. That’s why I’m here tonight, after all.
TOR: Ah, glad we’re not interrupting anything, then! Thought maybe you and Jun here were on a private date or something, eh? Heheheh! Ya rascal.
Tor elbows Krystoff a few times, but I don’t think the joviality is reciprocated. If Tor notices the frigid look Krystoff shoots him, he ignores it. Especially once a waitress comes by and drops off his beer and fries. The waitress is a cute dragon who’s struggling to fit in a traditional waitress uniform, but her largeness seems to help her navigate the hectic bar at least.
WAITRESS: Can I get you guys anything else?
TOR: Someone else drink with me!! It’s buy one, get one free—don’t make me drink all alone!
KRYSTOFF: Very well. I’ll take an elderflower collins.
Tor cheers. The waitress smiles reservedly.
JUN: Oh, uh, can I get some fries, too?
KRYSTOFF: Eat more than that. You just said you haven’t eaten all day.
JUN: Yeah, ummm, and some roasted veggies?
WAITRESS: You got it. And you, little guy?
CASSIUS: Um… I’m just here for the ambiance.
WAITRESS: Right. I’ll be back with your orders shortly!
Tor claps Krystoff on the back with one massive paw and starts drinking with the other. If his spirits are already this high while sober, I can’t wait to see what he’s like with his buy one, get one free down the hatch.
TOR: Attaboy! Tonight we’re celebrating Lady’s success! Let’s give it our all!
Reserved though he is, Cassius tries to match Tor’s energy and gives a little, ‘woo!’ We chatter lightly amongst ourselves until the rest of the orders arrives, as if we’re avoiding any real conversation until we all have something to preoccupy our hands with, but of course, poor Cassius is left to just play with his utensils. It doesn’t seem to bother him too much, though. He turns his butterknife and fork into drumsticks and taps along to the overhead music.