Mitsuhide stands behind the Unity Speakeasy's bar, drying off a glass with his hand towel. He scans the room as he works and his eyes catch hers as she walks in the door. She confidently saunters across the room, her peacock blue dress glimmering in the light as she looks for her first victim. He eyes her knowingly, an amused smirk creeping onto his face. She gives him a quick wink and slides in at the far end of the bar by placing her hand on the shoulder of the man sitting there, sliding it around to loosen his tie too. Mitsuhide notices her wild grin and he takes a sip of the martini he made for himself, then begins making the drink he knows will be going her way shortly.
The man she's buttering up shouts from the end of the bar, and before he even finishes calling her drink, Mitsuhide slides "one whiskey, on the rocks" down to them. The man looks shocked, but Mitsuhide does not meet his expression and turns away to the other end of the bar. He knows her game; she'd milk as many drinks out of that poor man as she could, then she would move on to the next man willing to buy her off. He could afford to take his eye off of her for a while; it was only her first drink and she was only warming up. It usually took at least three patrons before things got more interesting. Plus, the speakeasy was filling up and he had plenty to do right now.
He turns his attention briefly back to her when her drink order changes from "on the rocks" to "straight up." She's only on her second sucker, but he knows that means that she is about to change up the game. He raises an eyebrow at her as he slides her fourth drink down to her. She just takes a sip and gives him a wide grin before slips away from the bar towards the card tables. She lingers at the edge for a few more sips of her Scotch, then wedges her way in to play. She would be there for a while, likely until someone kicked her out. She's safe there for now; she would make some good money tonight based on the looks of the others at the table with her. So Mitsuhide returns back to the people lined up at his bar as he took another long sip of his martini.
Every now and then he hears her shout at the cards, smack talk the others at the table, or be sickeningly sweet to get them to drop their guard. She's very good, and he gets some strange satisfaction from watching her play better poker than anyone else in the house. Except maybe himself. He also makes sure that her drink is steadily refilled; one cannot play cards well with an empty glass.
When she finally gets booted from the card table, she has a playful pout on her lips even as she tucks her $50 winnings into her dress. She leaves her empty glass on a tray and he notes that it was her ninth drink of the night. She wanders slowly through the room, the smoke and the noise giving her an almost ethereal effect that he thought suited her. She makes her way back up the bar, hips swaying, and leans over to look at him. The speakeasy is starting to empty, with only the hard drinkers to remain until closing. He gives her a sly smirk, but this time it is softer than his usual. He knows what game she is about to play now, and while he knows she can handle it, it always makes him just a little uneasy. She swivels herself into a seat, placing herself just off center, and looks to the man in the seat to her immediate right. The man eyes her suspiciously, and Mitsuhide tenses. Her eyes dart over to Mitsuhide so quickly, a normal person would have missed it. But he knows she saw his discomfort.
Now her eyes are full on the stranger sitting next to her, and after a long moment, he offers her a bet.
"Hey gal, you look a little out on the roof. How's about this? I'll bet you a quarter, that this next drink will knock ya down. What say ya?"
"You're on, pal."
Mitsuhide slides two shots of good quality moonshine towards them. He eyes them both warily as two glasses clink down on the counter in unison. And the strange man shouts, "Another!"
Three shots later, she is still standing tall as the man slumps down onto the floor. She looks down at the man, whose laying out cold, with an expression that says, "what a pity." She casually reaches down and takes a dollar from his pocket. She did win the bet, after all.
Another man, a larger man, comes from further down the bar to stand next to her. "I'll bet you a whole dollar that I can put down more than a looker like you." He places the bill on top of the bar.
"You really think so? Ok, let's try it."
Mitsuhide quirked an eyebrow that could have been aimed at either of them. He leans back on the bar, arms crossed over his chest, and just watches.
The man lasted five shots before he too passed out.
She reaches over him and collects her dollar.
Finally, it's closing time, and all the remaining drunkards are shoved back onto the street. He watches her over his shoulder as he cleans the far end of the bar. She alone remains, still sitting at the bar, her legs swinging from the stool. She folds up the $5 she ultimately earned by out-drinking all her competition, before stretching out and placing it under the bar. She then swings herself up and over the top, landing with a soft, practiced thud on the other side.
He watches her as she carefully pokes around before finding what she's looking for. She pours--not a measurement in sight--mixing gin, bourbon, and a splash of lime juice and seltzer. He hears the tell-tale rattle as she shakes the drink-- their own version of a Rickey--and pours two identical glasses and places them with a light clink side by side on the bar counter.
She walks around the bar back to her seat as he sweeps over to her. They sit down together in comfortable silence. It's their drink-- the gin for him and the bourbon for her-- and he appreciates that she is willing to not only make it for him, but that they drink it together at the end of each night.
"To tomorrow", she toasts as they tap glasses.
He watches her out of the corner of his eyes as he lifts the glass to his lips. He might not be able to taste it, but he can feel the mixture of alcohol-- the smooth bourbon, the rough gin, the bite of the lime juice, and the tickle of the seltzer. She always pours strong, and he appreciates her heavy-handedness with the alcohol; in fact, he finds it rather comforting. Being around her is comforting, almost like they've known each other forever instead of just the last several months. He wonders, as he drains the last of his glass, if that's what makes him feel a bit protective of her.
He looks up when Hideyoshi, the doorman, comes in and starts straightening out the tables. She takes that as her cue to go and it echoes through the silence when she hops down from her seat. Both men turned to look at her, and she blows Mitsuhide a playful kiss before she pushes through the doors. They can hear her heels clicking on the marble floor as she walks down the hidden hallway that leads to the outside world. Mitsuhide watches her go, a soft yet crooked smile on his face.
Nobunaga--with all the air of authority due to an owner--walks in from the back just as she walks out. He takes in her retreating form, Mitsuhide's gentle look, and Hideyoshi's dumbfounded face. Following their gaze out the door, Nobunaga asks, "Mitsuhide, who is that woman?"
"Oh, just another dish."
Nobunaga responds with an unconvinced grunt, before turning to Hideyoshi. "Hideyoshi, go make sure the perimeter is secure."
"Yes Boss." Hideyoshi darts out of the room like it was on fire.
Once Hideyoshi is gone, Nobunaga questions Mitsuhide again. "Is she here often?"
"Nearly every night."
"Why haven't you told me about her?"
"Because she's just another flapper."
"She has your attention, Mitsuhide. That's no ordinary dame. You're sweet on her."
Mitsuhide does not answer. Instead, he walks back behind the bar and with a slight twitch of the lips, he slides the $5 she left him into his pocket.
"What is that?"
"A tip of sorts. What does it matter to you?"
Nobunaga knew that he wasn't going to get anything out of Mitsuhide that he didn't want to divulge. So instead, Nobunaga asked a question purely in line with business.
"What's her tab?"
Mitsuhide takes a beat to respond. "$200."
Nobunaga's eyebrows shoot up so high, they threaten to pop clear off his head.
Mitsuhide replies calmly, "She could pay it off any time she wants. Her family has the bees, they say."
This only manages to add to Nobunaga's surprise, though his eyebrows finally come back from the stratosphere. "If she can afford it, then why doesn't she pay off her tab?"
Begrudgingly, Mitsuhide answers, "So she has a reason to come back."
"What's her name?"
A pause. "Tazuki."
"You seem to know a lot about this Tazuki. Is there anything else you wish to tell me about her?"
Mitsuhide sighs. "Her family may be wealthy, but they have threatened to cut her off if she does not stop her 'wild ways'." He looks up at Nobunaga and continues with a coy grin. "I'm afraid that has only made her worse."
Nobunaga chuckles and turns on his heel; his coat swishes dramatically behind him. He addresses Mitsuhide over his shoulder as he pushes the back door open. "I look forward to hearing more about the two of you in the future."
Mitsuhide tries to hide his smile as he returns to cleaning, alone.