Downtown, fifteen minutes before midnight.
Deidara leans against the side of a building and takes a drag from his cigarette. He’s nineteen, just in his second year of university with two more years to go. He picked up smoking in his first year of university because he wanted to fit in.
He isn’t looking around him, only focusing on the titled bricks that pave the sidewalk. There isn’t much to see in such dim lighting when the orange-tinted streetlights don’t even seem to work properly because of the late hour.
Deidara brings the cigarette to his lips and takes another deep breath.
Someone stands in front of him. The only thing he sees is the other guy’s shoes.
Clean, immaculate. Freshly polished but there’s a spot that he’s missed at the edge of his left foot.
Deidara exhales through his nose. He lowers his arm and raises his gaze.
An average looking businessman, clean shaven and looks as though he thinks beige is too exciting of a color. He’s still in his work suit but his briefcase isn’t with him.
Deidara takes another drag of his cigarette, down to the filter, and then tosses it away.
“Go away, old man,” he says. He shoves his hands back into his jacket’s pockets.
The man doesn’t go away.
Deidara glances to his left. There are other people milling around and it’s obvious what they’re there for. Deidara scoffs and says, “I’m not a hooker, dude.”
The man makes a gruff noise and then takes out a wad of cash from his pocket.
Deidara stares at the money. He worries his lower lip with the blunt of his teeth. No one else seems to notice them. Deidara pokes his tongue out and chews that too. The other guy doesn’t seem to care that he’s taking forever. Eventually, Deidara sighs.
“Fine,” he says and snatches the money out of the guy’s hand before he can change his mind.
The guy rubs his fingers against his palm and then gestures down the street. Deidara lets him take the lead and follows him. As he walks, Deidara sees that the guy has a limp.
The streets seem to stretch too long and the lights are never bright enough. Deidara follows the other guy, keeping his footsteps brisk and his shoulders squared. He looks around him, checking for street names and familiar stores. There is a police station nearby.
The guy stops in front of a restaurant. Deidara almost walks into him. He slides open the door for Deidara and Deidara walks in. The guy gets in after him and slides the door shut. It’s dark inside, probably ambiance, and Deidara follows the guy to one of the back booths. He sits on one side and Deidara slides in on the opposite. They don’t talk.
A waiter approaches them and stares at Deidara for a while, then looks back at the guy. The guy waves his hand and says, “The usual.”
The waiter nods and walks away.
Deidara stares at the other guy until the waiter comes back with two of the usual. He places the plates of dango in front of them. He lays two coasters on the table and places two glasses with ice on them, and two cans of beer to the side.
“Enjoy,” the waiter says and leaves.
“Enjoy,” the guy echoes and takes a stick of dango. Deidara does the same.
They sit in silence as they eat. After he finishes his first stick of dango, the guy opens his beer and pours it into Deidara’s glass with both of his hands.
“You don’t have to drink it,” the guy says when the beer can is empty, twisting his wrist to get the final drops in. “Just formalities.”
He places the empty can back on the table and goes to fill his own.
Deidara continues to eat his dango. The guy doesn’t pick up his second stick. He takes his glass and holds it. Deidara watches him but doesn’t say anything.
“Work’s been tough,” the guy begins to say. Deidara doesn’t know what to do so he just keeps eating.
“I haven’t had time to socialize with anyone as of late,” he says. “Well, not after work, I mean. During work, it’s all fine. We’d talk on breaks and after meetings. They’d always say something about meeting up after work or on the weekends for a gathering, but they never really end up anywhere because everyone actually has plans after work or on the weekends.
“Only, I don’t have anything planned. I’d try to plan something, sure, but I never really feel like going out and actually doing it. The only people I know all moved — can’t be assed to remember where they moved to — but they moved and now we rarely talk anymore, you know? You get the occasional ‘oh, we haven’t talked in a while. We should catch up!’ text but those never really end up anywhere. They’re just words.”
He stops talking to take a sip from his beer.
“I don’t even like this beer,” he says, staring at the glass. “It’s just the first brand I’ve ever had, with my friends, and drinking it makes me think about the times when things actually mattered.”
“Are we not…” Deidara tries to say but the guy shakes his head.
“Just…” the guy shakes his head again. “Just listen.”
Deidara stays quiet and finishes his dango. He doesn’t touch the beer.
“I’ve, uh, I’ve had a pretty rough life,” the guy says. “Had a stroke when I was about thirteen, fourteen — something like that — and then lost all of my friends.
“They didn’t really abandon me more so than I couldn’t connect with them again. I’m sure they would have helped me and accommodated me if I suggested we hang out but I never did. I stopped leaving my room and I guess the habit never died with age.
“I’m like thirty, turning thirty-one, and I haven’t got any real friends since I was a teenager. Pretty pathetic.
“Haven’t had any romantic relationships either,” the guy says. “Thirty-one years… Imagine that.”
Deidara clears his throat. “Yeah,” he says, “it’s pretty pathetic.”
The guy smiles. He raises his glass and says, “I’ll drink to that.”
Deidara stares at his own.
“You don’t have to drink it,” the guy says, putting his empty glass on the coaster. “You’re underage.”
Deidara purses his lips. “How can you tell?” he asks.
“Your posture,” the guy says. “And the fact that you don’t really know what to do at a bar.”
“Hm,” Deidara says.
“How’s your life?” The guy asks. He reaches for Deidara’s beer.
“You really didn’t have a relationship for thirty years, hm?”
The guy nods, swallowing his mouthful of beer. “Well,” he says, “I’ve had a crush back when I was a teenager.”
“Didn’t go well?”
“No,” he says. “She didn’t like me back. Liked my best friend, actually, and I think they’re engaged now. They’ve been dating for… quite some time now. Got together when I was in the hospital.”
“Ouch,” Deidara says.
“Yeah.” The guy sighs. “I’m not mad,” he says. “I know I can’t force her to be with me so I just asked him to take care of her for me, to make sure she’s happy all the time. He’s fulfilling his duty for me and I’m happy about that.”
“Are you, really?”
“Got no reason to be sad,” the guy says.
“I think I’d like to disagree,” Deidara says. “You wouldn’t have paid me to come to listen to you if you aren’t desperate, yeah.”
“Caught on, huh?” he says. “You’re a smart cookie.”
“Smart cookie.” Deidara scoffs.
“This bar,” the guy says, “is where I used to always go to whenever I’m done with my university classes. I’d hang out with all my friends here, back when I had friends.”
“I like it here,” he continues to say. “A small little bubble outside of my social life.”
He watches the guy finish the beer and put the glass back on the coaster.
“I’ve just been so lonely,” the guy says. “I’ve got no one left. Even my grandpa passed away. I’ve got no one.”
The guy puts his head in his hands and his elbows on the table. He holds himself there for a long, long time. Deidara thinks he might be crying.
“It’s nice here,” Deidara finally says.
“It is, isn’t it?” The guy says. He lifts his head and his eyes are bloodshot. It doesn’t look like he cried. He gives Deidara a weak smile and then he takes out his wallet.
“Thanks for listening to me,” he tells Deidara. “It’s been a while since I just let it all out.”
Deidara reaches into his pocket to finger the stack of cash that the guy gave him. “No problem, hm,” he says.
The guy pays for the meal and the alcohol and then stands outside in the cold with Deidara. Deidara stands with him.
“My name is Obito,” the guy says.
“Okay,” Deidara replies.
“Here.” Obito takes out a piece of paper and writes down a username on it. “My Wire.”
Deidara accepts the piece of paper.
“Thank you again,” Obito says. “You don’t know how much you listening means to me.”
“Okay,” Deidara says. He holds the piece of paper tight.
“I hope,” he says, “that we can do this again soon. I would really appreciate it if you can.”
“Okay,” Deidara says.
“Thanks,” Obito says and then he smiles. He turns and leaves Deidara standing alone in the middle of the street.