In High Spirits

[A/N: The day is here, Suzukaze Aoba’s birthday. Our little girl’s 20th. I don’t drink, have never been truly drunk, nor am I particularly comfortable being around alcohol and drunk people. Yet still I went ahead and did a story about Aoba’s first time drinking. It feels appropriate for the characters, so I wanted to try. Another challenge to myself, I suppose. But since I have so little experience here, I apologise in advance if this comes off as incorrect. And I’m sorry for my poor attempts at giving Yun an accent.]

Finally she was 20 years old, the big Two Oh, and the others couldn’t make fun of her any longer. Or so she thought.

Very carefully Aoba stuck her tongue into the sake cup, and tested it out. “Ugh, it still doesn’t taste good…” she said without thinking. It had been a year, but somehow she hadn’t quite forgotten that taste. Could she have imagined back then where she would be now?

“Still? Aoba-chan, are you admitting to being a criminal?” Hajime sounded far more amused than surprised. The grin on her face certainly suggested as much.

“Eh? I-I-I-I mean…” Aoba sputtered, a moment of panic seizing her.

“She’s just pulling yer leg, don’t listen ta her,” Yun cut in, poking Hajime in the side. “But maybe ya shoulda started with something lighter, like beer?”

Aoba let out a sigh. Her hopes and dreams of no longer being teased had been dashed on the rocks so quickly.

They had all gone out to eat at the usual place after work to celebrate Aoba’s birthday. Well, not all, but Hajime, Yun, and Nene had come along, and they had even roped Momo and Naru into it. Umiko had decided to skip this time, which was fine. Apparently she was heading into the mountains to prepare for some “field exercises” with her buddies, while Nene had elected to stay behind. It was a bit too cold for her.

And it turned out that Momo was actually a couple of weeks older than Aoba, which they had found out when Naru had burst into their part of the office to announce it on the day. Momo hadn’t said anything on her own. In all honesty Aoba found that a little disappointing, since she had secretly wanted to be the older one. It was hard to think of herself as the senpai when she knew she was the younger one.

She looked at the beers Hajime, Yun, and Momo had gotten. Aoba had asked for a cup of sake from Hifumi, but maybe that was a childish impulse. If beer was easier, maybe that was a better starting point, but she hadn’t actually tried it before. “Can I have a taste?” she asked Hajime, who was sitting directly across from her.

“Sure,” Hajime said, and pushed her mug over towards Aoba.

Aoba gently lifted it up. It didn’t seem like she could take a sip without getting any foam with it, but maybe that was part of the experience. She went for it, and then slowly put the mug back down. The grimace she made reflected her inner feelings. “That wasn’t any good either…”

Hajime laughed, and took her mug back. “You get used to it, especially if you find a type you like.”

Indeed, Momo seemed to have no trouble with hers. Aoba felt a stab of envy. Maybe she might as well stick with the sake tonight if she found neither of them tasty. Hifumi had told her the trick was to take small sips, and remember to eat. Apparently it went well with fried foods, so maybe that would make it better. A glass of soda stood at the ready should she need a palate cleanser. She could learn beer another time, if she felt like it.

“You don’t have to force it, Aocchi,” Nene said. If there was any person that knew Aoba better than she knew herself, or even better than Hifumi did, it would be Nene.

“Don’t worry, Nenecchi. I’ll be responsible,” Aoba said with a smile. It wasn’t that she was forcing it. At least she didn’t think so. But she wanted to be able to join in when the others were doing… well… adult stuff. If nothing else, she felt she should try it out. If it wasn’t for her, then at least she’d know.

The celebration got underway, even if it wasn’t massively different from any other night out. As had basically become tradition, cake and presents had happened at the office. Hazuki was nice enough to grant them a little extra break time when it was someone’s birthday.

Aoba thought it felt nice to gather like this. Though even on these outings they sort of ended up divided into their usual groupings. Aoba, Hifumi, Hajime, and Yun interacted much like normal. While Nene would join in every now and again, she was mostly occupied chatting with Naru. When programmers talked amongst themselves, it was like it was in code, and Aoba couldn’t really follow along. Momo seemed quite content focusing on the food, and rarely spoke if not spoken to. Though she seemed to loosen up a bit as the night went on.

It didn’t take long before Aoba became aware of how she was feeling strangely warm. But not unpleasantly so. Maybe it was the atmosphere warming up as everyone got more into it. Everyone looked like they were having a good time, and Aoba was glad. She also started thinking about how cute Hajime and Yun were looking together. It wasn’t entirely clear exactly when they had formally gotten together, but something had obviously, finally changed between them sometime last year.

“You know… Hajime-san, Yun-san… you two should kiss,” Aoba told them. Yun went bright red, and Hajime nearly choked on the piece of chicken she had just taken a bite of. “You’re very cute,” Aoba continued.

“A-A-Aoba-chan, wh-what are ya saying?!” Yun stammered forth while Hajime was coughing.

“I’m just stating the obvious,” Aoba said, not seeing what was so wrong with that.

“Aoba…” Hifumi said in a cautioning tone, placing her hand on Aoba’s arm.

“Oh, you want to show them how it’s done, Hifumi?” Aoba asked, turning to look at a rather embarrassed Hifumi.

“Aocchi,” Nene said in a similar tone.

Aoba blinked. “No, I can’t kiss you, Nenecchi. I’m already engaged,” she said, hugging onto Hifumi’s arm.

Nene shook her head. “Aocchi, I think you’ve had enough,” she started firmly.

“Eh? No, I feel fhine,” Aoba insisted, but no one seemed to believe her.

Nene looked at Hifumi. “Maybe you should get her home, Hifumi-san,” she said, and Hifumi nodded in response. “Do you need any help?” Nene asked.

“No, I’ll manage,” Hifumi said. “Come on, Aoba.” Her tone was gentle, but firm, so Aoba didn’t resist. Even if she wasn’t entirely sure what she had done wrong.

“Here, drink this,” Hifumi said, handing Aoba a glass of water.

Aoba accepted, as she was fairly thirsty now that it was brought up. She would have preferred something other than water, though.

The trip home had been uneventful, and Hifumi had sat Aoba down on the couch as soon as they got inside. Then once the water was drank, it was off to bed. Part of Aoba wanted to protest this treatment, but something in the back of her mind told her she had better not. Hifumi got into bed with her, so at least Aoba had someone to hug onto. She was feeling a bit needy.

“You know… I’m envious,” Aoba mumbled.

“Hm? How so?” Hifumi asked while patting Aoba’s head.

“You have such a great body, and I… don’t,” Aoba said, a little surly. It was rather unfair.

“I think you’re great the way you are,” Hifumi assured her with all honesty.

“Mmph…” Aoba grunted, but didn’t say anything more. Sleep claimed her quickly while she was tightly hugging onto Hifumi.

The next morning was rough. Aoba didn’t feel great, and her head seemed very unhappy with the decisions that led her to this point.

“Ugh…” Her head was resting on the table as Hifumi provided her with a glass of water and some paracetamol. In contrast to Aoba, Hifumi didn’t seem particularly out of sorts. “Thank you,” Aoba said weakly before quickly downing the pills. “Why do you seem so much better off than me?” she complained.

“Practice, perhaps,” Hifumi said with a smile. “I have figured out some things to do before going to bed that help ease things the next day.”

Aoba wondered how much practice it would take, and whether she actually wanted to put herself through that. Well, she could ask Hifumi for some tips later.

“And how are you able to remain so distinguished while drinking, while I turned into such a disaster?” Aoba had to ask. She could certainly remember enough to be mortified by how she had acted at the end.

“Well, I clearly have a higher tolerance than you,” Hifumi said, quite amused. “But maybe that’s also in part due to practice.”

Aoba stretched out on the couch. Thank the gods her birthday had come on a Friday this year. If she’d had to go to work today, she worried she might have died. She was not sure exactly how much she’d had, but she didn’t think her cup had been refilled. Whether she finished it was less clear. The others had probably been right that she should have started with something lighter.

“I need to apologise to Hajime-san and Yun-san on Monday,” Aoba groaned. “Actually I should text them today, then apologise in person on Monday…” Even if she’d been drunk, she should have known better than to say something so scandalous.

Hifumi sat down by Aoba’s head, and stroked her hair softly. “Want me to help you back to bed?”

Aoba closed her eyes while enjoying the feel of Hifumi’s hand. “Can I stay like this? Your fingers on my scalp feel nice.”

Hifumi gently scritched with her nails. “Alright,” she said. “I’ll have to get up occasionally, though.”

“That’s fine,” Aoba said, though she still moved her head into Hifumi’s lap. Maybe alcohol wasn’t really her thing, but at least she got this.

~Wulf

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Posted on February 2, 2018, in Fiction, Storytime and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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