Luke had encountered his fair share of nomikai before. So far, it was one of his favourite parts of Japan - he enjoyed going out with his coworkers, even if it was kind of weird at first to be encouraged so strongly to get very drunk. He didn't exactly mind. Drinking was fun and being around other people was fun, so the two combined was awesome. The izakaya was nice, if a little dimly lit, but he was glad it at least held all of them in the same general area. The last place they went to had separated them and he hadn't been able to talk to any of the people he was becoming pals with!
He wasn't quite drunk yet, but he was approaching it. Luke was trying to go at this with a slow burn or something, there was no use in getting drunk before everyone else... but honestly, he doubted he'd get drunk before any of his coworkers did unless he did some serious fratboy chugging. They all seemed to be sort of lightweights. Not that there was anything wrong with that.
It didn't help that he was a literal giant compared to... pretty much all of them.
The conversation had lulled, so Luke focused on his drink - someone had ordered it for all of them as a break from endless beer. It kind of tasted like alcoholic Sprite. He loved it.
Ayame was nervous. She'd managed to get out of one nomikai by faking sick. It had worked and gotten her to her editor's on time. Today, she couldn't skip it. Thankfully she had expressed the need to run an important errand and that she'd meet up with them after it was done. The meeting with her publisher ran a little late, but she'd managed to get there after making them wait only ten minutes. Of course, she'd apologized profusely. She knew this was the school's way of getting them all better aquainted.
The problem was, Ayame wasn't very good at the social thing and right now seemed to be smushed together with a bunch of men. Ayame didn't MIND drinking, but she didn't have much of a tolerance. She had barely touched the beers that had been brought to them, explaining that she didn't much like the taste. Thankfully, this time, they'd settled on something that didn't taste terrible. In fact, it was rather lovely.
For a moment, she caught the eye of the teacher across from her. Oh, what was his name? Why was she so bad with names? Luke.....Luke....Reznik? That was it! Ayame remembered his name being fairly hard to pronounce the day they'd met. She gave him a brief, shy smile, then went back to staring at her lap.
As always, Hana slinked into the izakaya with a carefully guarded expression and stood in the corner, waiting for everyone else he had arrived with to sit down before taking a spot at the far end of the table. He hated having to attend these nomikai. It wasn't that he didn't like crowds; he actually enjoyed the feeling of becoming lost and indistinguishable inside the large crowds at malls and shopping districts. It was when he was expected to be an active participant of said crowd that the walls seemed to materialize and clamp down around his heart. He never said a word to anyone, and no one said a word to him. Not that his proliferous male co-workers were worth talking to anyway. And it was impossible for him to feel comfortable trying to talk to any of the women who showed up outside a one-on-one environment. It was just more time out of his week he had to waste when he could've been doing something else at home, like writing or recording or getting actual work done.
And yet, here he had to be if he didn't want to lose his job over not keeping up appearances. Of course no one would ever describe these nomikai with such an 'ugly' word as 'mandatory' out loud, but that's exactly what they amounted to. Not that it mattered to anyone else, since to them it was apparently more than a pointless exercise in discomfort. A chore. That's all it was to him. Pretty much the last socially acceptable behavior of the Japanese salaryman that he bothered to keep up. Sometimes he didn't know why he did bother anymore though, since he figured his introverted nature must already make him look suspicious enough in the eyes of his peers. He imagined several among them were just counting the days until he succumbed to karoushi.
At least this time they had picked a place with decent food. Hana didn't even look at the menu, ordering his favorite meat and rice dish when asked. He also ordered a soft drink, setting his still full beer glass further back on the table. That was another thing: the drinking. Hana refused to drink anything on principle. He simply didn't see the inherent appeal in getting drunk that everyone else seemed to, unless of course it involved the convenient opportunity to be an asshole to your senpai and harass the women under the excuse of bureikou. But that was just because they liked to be assholes, and Hana wasn't that kind of person; that's what he thought.
While he waited for his food, Hana made a show of moving his head around to stare at something else every so often so as to not appear dead to the world, careful to avoid looking anyone in the eye. Once in a while, when he had a clear line of sight to her, he would turn his gaze toward the pretty red-haired woman to his left, but only when she was looking away from him. The instant he saw her start to turn her head towards him, he would turn his own head away with a reaction time that would make a mongoose jealous; a practiced technique. But even that little game could only hold his interest for so long. He sighed, trying to tone out the clamor of voices around him. It was going to be a long evening.
Luke met the gaze of Ms. Washio - Ayame? He smiled at her in return, leaning slightly forward. "Hey, how are you?" She didn't look like she was having the greatest time of her life. One of his strengths was getting people to talk to him - maybe that was just a trait of the Reznik clan in general. Either way, he was good at it, even if he was sort of struggling to speak in Japanese.
There was someone else nearby... one of the other quiet teachers. Had this been strategic? Luke nodded at him. He'd seen him staring at Ayame all night. He'd been about as subtle as a train. Luke couldn't figure that dude out. Almost every day, Luke would say hi to him in the staff room, but Hana never responded. Maybe he thought Luke couldn't speak Japanese, that assumption happened a lot, but Luke was speaking in Japanese! It was maddening.
Luke sipped his drink. He wasn't sure how to talk with these guys. Luckily, there were other teachers around, and hopefully they'd be more receptive to his attempts at conversation. How had he ended up in the Introvert Corner?
Post by Reiichi Murakami on Jun 8, 2015 3:14:55 GMT
Reiichi didn't enjoy these functions, most of the time, but went along because it was expected. Sometimes, once everyone had loosened up a little bit, the conversation got interesting. Or maybe the conversation seemed more interesting because he was as tipsy as the rest of them had been. He remembered the Chairman being absolutely ridiculous at a nomikai held for a retiring teacher and going bar-hopping with a handful of the music teachers afterward--ah, to be young(er) again and more impervious to the aftereffects of a night of drinking.
He'd meant to take his usual seat at the far end of the table, but found that Uta had beaten him to it. Reiichi offered the other man a curt nod and took a seat near him anyway, simply because he didn't quite feel like sitting next to Washio or the strange English teacher with the difficult to remember surname. Uta had the right idea. Reiichi would have engaged him in conversation, but the man hardly spoke to anyone. Rumors swirled around Ouran that Reiichi was an android, and it always made him chuckle--Uta would have been a better android than Reiichi. Outside the classroom, it seemed like the man never spoke. Or did anything but work. (Not that Reiichi was one to say anything about being a workaholic. He'd kept long hours more days than he should have, as well.)
He eyed the crowd while he nursed his first beer. Washio wasn't speaking. Uta wasn't speaking, but Reiichi noticed the way he kept looking over at Washio. If he'd been the more outgoing sort, he might have nudged Uta and encouraged him to go talk to her. He wasn't, though, and once he'd finished his beer he gladly accepted a whiskey sour from...whoever it was had bought it. Probably Waka-sensei.
The poor English teacher looked absolutely confused, and by now, Reiichi was relaxed enough to feel a little bit sorry for him. "So." He said it in English. "Uh. You are enjoying the evening?" Again, in English. Maybe hearing his native language would help or something.
She wanted to be home, writing. She had four chapters left until the end of this book and she NEEDED to get them to the editor within the next month or the book would be postponed again. She couldn't have that. She needed the royalties.
She HAD noticed who else was sitting with them. Murakami. To be honest, he kind of intimidated Ayame. She always felt like she was a student again under his commanding gaze. Hana was there, too, and seeing him made her feel a little more comfortable. He was cute....with how shy and quiet he was. Part of her wanted to pinch his cheeks. The other part wanted to hug him. She felt her cheeks growing hot for a minute. What the hell was in these drinks!?
I think they're trying to drug me, she thought to herself. That, or her romance novels were getting to her. Could be either at this point. Could be both. She spared a glance at Hana again, hoping to catch his eye this time. If she did, she'd offer him a smile, reassuring and genuine.
Ayame stared at Luke a minute. Had he spoken to her? Yup. Oh great. How to respond? "I'm...I'm alright. How about you?" She tried to sound cheerful, but was pretty sure she sounded distracted.
Post by Kouta Kobayashi on Jun 8, 2015 20:45:34 GMT
Having had the pleasure of organizing the monthly Nomikai this year, Kouta was a lot more tired than he usually was at these events. It could also just be that he was getting old. But that wasn’t true so he quickly dismissed it. The welcome speech had been completed, so that just left what they all came here to do! Well… What most of the teachers came to do. He was glad he’d found somewhere with good food though, since some of the teachers seemed… not so eager to participate.
He remembered his first Nomikai at Ouran Academy, those had been the days! He’d gotten so drunk one of the older PE teachers had to drag him home. He’d remember the headache the day after for the rest of time. Every teacher had grinned at him like they knew something he didn’t. It had been embarrassing that was for sure. It hadn’t happened since. Well, not to that extreme anyway. Now he was usually the one helping the younger teachers home, he could see that one of the drama teachers was already lying with their head in their arms.
Chuckling, he looked at the assembled teachers near his table and looked around. The attitude around most of them seemed… somber. It was a shame, that was for sure. These nights out among the staff were supposed to be for getting to know each other and he was sure that if his retirement Nomikai ended up like this he’d finish working on a very somber note.
Now it was time for what he was best at, lightening the mood! Looking around, he noticed all the other teachers sitting nearby, Luke, Ayame, Reichii (He was fond of Reichii, so like himself in his younger years!) and there was Hana. He was always polite enough to him so Kouta found him pleasant enough.
Turning to Hana he smiled jovially, sipping from his beer before placing it back down on the table.
“You don’t like these kinds of get togethers do you?”
It was a familiar sensation by now, but the relative infrequency of these nomikai prevented the sting of it from becoming dulled to Hana. The longer they dragged on, the more the negative feelings started to mount; anxiety, boredom, self-consciousness, isolation, worthlessness. It wouldn't be long before the only thoughts he was capable of would be wanting it to be over as soon as possible so he could go home and drown out those feelings by occupying himself with things that actually mattered to him.
Not helping the case was the man who was now looking straight at Hana and had unquestionably called out specifically to him. The usual trick of assuming that whoever was talking to someone else wasn't going to fly this time. Furthermore, he had asked a question that Hana really didn't feel like answering. Hana turned his head in the direction of the offending voice and let his eyes dance around the man's head, focusing somewhere around the lower middle of his face for maybe half a millisecond. Who was this person? The one who had given the speech earlier? So the organizer, probably. Wonderful. Now a modicum of courtesy was called for. "They don't bother me," he lied. Obviously to him, nothing could be further from the truth, but if he revealed his true feelings to a total stranger, then what? He had no way of knowing, and he refused to go on record saying anything that anyone could and would use against him. Besides, the shorter this conversation lasted, the better.
He turned back to his drink and swirled the straw around, staring at the resulting tiny bubbles. He started listening to Dusk in his head to pass the time and stave off the onset of depression. That was a standard trick of his; playing his favorite video game music to his mind's ear always seemed to help keep him calm. This song in particular was about being separated from a loved one and walking the earth to find them; longing to hear their voice again; having faith that they would some day meet again just as surely as the cycles of nature ran their course. A beautiful yet melancholic melody that matched the mood Hana was in while also making him feel better at the same time.
Hana's heart leapt when he noticed he was looking at the red-haired woman again, but had been too distracted to react to her turning to meet his gaze. For the briefest of moments, they were looking into each other's eyes, and the agonizing, indescribable twinge of discomfort that came with it rushed up and down Hana's spine. But to his surprise, the next thing she did was something he had never expected: she smiled. At him. The sight made Hana's own lips curl into a smile of their own accord before he turned his head away again, more slowly this time. All the doubt and anxiety from before seemed to have faded away into who knows where. A smile. From a girl. Such a small, simple gesture, and yet he could probably count on one hand the number of times he was spared such a thing in a week. Or a month. It was amazing how much it could brighten your day. Hana couldn't help but softly hum out loud a little as the music playing in his head reached its swelling chorus.
"I'm telling you, Takenaka, there was more to the ending than that!" Masaru argued as they made their way to the ikazaya. They were late, agh! Chitose had insisted on getting through a little more of their horror movie backlog together, and though he was still as bad with gore and scary things as ever, it had been a really good movie. So much so they'd started trading theories on it afterwards - and they'd both forgotten the time. At least the meeting spot wasn't too far!
"I mean, there's hints throughout the movie that the characters aren't the only ghosts there!"
The izakaya was a nice place - Kouta had done well picking a good one. He liked nomikai functions - it was a good way to bond, even when some of the teachers were sticks in the mud. As he held open the door for Chitose, he grinned. "Think there's anyone already really bad off?" he remembered the time one of the drama teachers had started reciting Hamlet. It had been a riot.
Once they were both inside, Masaru waved to get the table's attention, before heading on over. "Sorry we're late! Hope you guys aren't having too much fun without us!"
...aw jeez, he could already tell Hana and Ayame weren't enjoying themselves. That was disappointing - he'd only been teaching at Ouran for a year now, but he would have thought by now they would have loosened up at least a little!
Okay, now... Ayame was being weird again, too. Luke frowned slightly. "Oh... glad to hear you're having fun, then," he mumbled, turning his attention away towards Murakami. At least he was trying. Luke knew he wasn't the most popular teacher ever at Ouran (unless you factored in the students, at least the female ones) but goddamn. What had he done to make these two so... icy?
"It's alright," he admitted to Murakami. "I think we got stuck in the Sad Person Corner, but you know." He shrugged, the corner of his mouth quirking into a half-grin.
He was about to say more when Masaru and Chitose - yes!!! Some of his buds were here now, finally! - arrived. "Hey!" He waved back. "You have missed nothing. Ah-- here, here," he started scooting over to clear some room for them. "Sit down, yeah?"
Post by Chitose Takenaka on Jun 11, 2015 9:16:56 GMT
Chitose merely shook her head. She'd seen this movie hundreds more times than Masaru; she owned it, after all. She could have very well written a thesis about her interpretation of it.
"Ah, but what about the scene where--"
She swallowed her argument the moment they stepped into the izakaya. Who was calling out to them? It sounded like -- Oh, it was Reznik-san! Chitose shot a smile at him, as well as everyone else who'd shown up, following Masaru's lead and hurrying over to join Luke. He was rather enthusiastic! He must have had quite a bit to drink by now.
"My, it's lively here already!" She swept another look around the group. Half lively. Uta-san seemed to be his usual self, as did Washio-san. "How are you all? Washio-san? Uta-san? Reznik-san, Murakami-san?" Her gaze locked on Kouta. "Ah, Kobayashi-san! Thank you for the invitation. This venue is wonderful."
He smiled back and Ayame felt her heart skip a beat. If only he'd smile more often. He had such a handsome face and a smile made his eyes light up just so. Even in that moment of just meeting his gaze, she could see how uncomfortable he was, despite the shared smile between them. She shared the feeling. She always felt like her colleagues were judging her. They probably knew what had happened in her club, but Ayame stood by her decision. Ageha and Kage needed to learn something about cooperation and teamwork....and Ageha certainly needed to learn something about humility.
But that was a thought for another day. For now, she could drink the problem away and just relax. Maybe even try to unwind and get to know her fellow colleagues a bit more. Luka was certainly trying to be nice to her. She felt bad for not trying to be kind in return.
The thoughts were broken by the new arrivals. Takenaka and Honda. Honda was new and Ayame hadn't really gotten the chance to know him. Ayame always felt Takenaka was everything she wasn't. Ayame wished to be that pretty, to be that confident in herself, but alas, it was something that would never come to Ayame. She nodded her head in greeting.
"Hello, Takenaka-san, Honda-san," she greeted, "I'm doing alright now that you're here. I was almost afraid I'd be the only woman here tonight and I'd have to drink these boys under the table by myself. How about you, dear?" The drink was at least starting to take effect. She felt a little looser now. "How about I buy the next round?" She offered, looking at her colleagues.
Post by Reiichi Murakami on Jun 12, 2015 2:04:57 GMT
"Ah, yes, the Sad Corner." Reiichi half-smiled and tipped his glass. "I seem to find myself there a lot. Perhaps it's me bringing down the mood," he added in a light, teasing tone. He downed the rest of his whiskey sour and chuckled. He hadn't interacted with Luke much, but he was warming to the man a little bit now. He started to say something, but paused when the new arrivals showed up. He didn't know either one, but he did smile warmly and scoot over to make room.
"Oh, would you, Washio? That'd be wonderful!" Reiichi had never known Washio to be the sort to buy a round, but he was always game when it came to free drinks.
The table still didn't seem lively enough. Reiichi rose to his feet with his empty glass in hand. "Is anyone up for a round of Pin, Pan, Pong?" he asked, raising his voice so it'd carry over to the other tables. "If you are, please come this way. If you are not, well. Sit back and watch the show." As he sat back down, his eyes fell on Uta's full glass of beer. "Ah, Uta. Are you going to drink that?"
The music playing Hana's head screeched to a halt with an almost audible record scratch as another teacher rudely asked him about his beer. Who was this now? Ah yes, the one who had loudly called out to the whole establishment for a round of Pin Pon Pan. Not only had he said the words in the wrong order, now he had addressed Hana without an honorific. I am not your buddy, whoever! Hana's inner voice snapped at him. The first sound he actually made was to scoff at the question. Was he going to drink that. As if it wasn't obvious from the half empty soft drink between him and the beer glass. Minus three. And here I thought I was the one with no social skills.
"Knock yourself out," he replied without looking. Not that it'll do you any good. Hana's own life was hardly without its problems of course, but he refused to "drink them away", and he didn't think fondly of people who tried. It's not like your problems won't still be there when you wake up. You're just running away. Of course he would refuse to opt in to the drinking game, but as noisy and obnoxious as it was sure to be, perhaps if nothing else it would be a good opportunity for him. He needed something to focus his brain on, and with everyone else distracted by the game, hopefully no one would notice if he decided to take out his smartphone and work on the last few paragraphs of his current story translation. He scooted his chair away from the growing crowd to his side and dug into his food, waiting for the din to reach its peak.
Post by Kouta Kobayashi on Jun 12, 2015 20:28:06 GMT
When he spoke, Hana didn't seem to show any degree of recognition of who Kouta was. Now how could that be? He was the oldest teacher at Ouran, everyone knew him and he knew everyone. Or so he thought. That was how it was supposed to be, wasn't it? Even if Hana didn't know who he was, he was clearly older than him and, as a result, surely a modicum of respect was due?
Kouta couldn't quite understand it, one minute he'd been talking to him and then next... he was looking at his drink and seemed almost insistent not to catch his gaze again.
His mouth set in a firm line. This wasn't the kind of behavior befitting anyone, elders should be respected! Not simply ignored like nothing had been said! Even if the man wasn't enjoying himself, it would have been good manners to offer to fill his glass up! He was his senior after all! This was really very rude, he'd definitely have to consult someone about that. After all, he'd tried to be pleasant, and if this teacher wouldn't make the effort in return he saw no reason to try himself.
It seems the young didn't have the respect drilled into them that his generation did, it was really a shame!
Draining the last of his beer, he shifted quickly turning to the people who seemed to be having an active conversation. Ah, now this seemed much more friendly, Luke, and Reiichi, and now Masaru and Chitose were here! Excellent!
At Chitose's address he waved a hand with a hearty laugh, "Think nothing of it Takenaka-San!" He shifted so he could smile jovially at the others. At Reichii's suggestion he chuckled. He'd played his fair deal of drinking games in the past and looked around with a laugh. He used to be terrible at drinking games but he had grown accustomed to them while teaching at Ouran.
"I think this is definitely something I might like to see." He smiled, tapping the rim of his glass.