Firefly in Japan, Part 13: I walked up the stairs surrounded by 100 people, but I felt alone.

Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 10a, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14

A short while later, we gathered at an all you can eat Western food buffet restaurant for my farewell party. Even Shane turned up, and quickly went to the bar to order a beer. The frequent action of raising the bottle and taking a swig gave him something to do, and minutely eased the awkwardness he exuded from every pore of his skin. Bill didn’t even come, saying he was busy. I guessed it would just be too uncomfortable for him to show up after illegally docking my pay 50,000 yen and then failing to pay my small amount of overtime. I didn’t miss him.

We sat down at a table, and started going back and forth to the buffet, scooping up Western food. It was a rare chance to stock up on plentiful, tasty, well cooked Western food, and we all took advantage of it. I registered on some level that this was my farewell party, and everyone else would pay for me. This somehow made the food taste even better, and I wolfed it down.

We all chatted, and laughed, and talked. Shane continued to drink his beer, gulp after gulp. We mostly ignored him, until he tapped his glass with his finger and cleared his throat. We all fell silent and looked to him.

His awkward vibe intensified as everyone’s attention focused on him. His face seemed to take a fuller shade of red as the blood rushed to his head.

“So err.” He began. We waited patiently.

“This is Firefly’s farewall party. It’s a shame he has to go, because he has done a lot of really great stuff for the team, but I’m sure he’s moving onto bigger and better things!” Shane awkwardly quipped to a table full of silent people.

Shane coughed.

“Anyway Firefly, you’ve been a good guy. I wish we could have spent a bit more time with you and training you up, but that’s how things turned out, eh.” Shane attempted a friendly smile, but generated a half scowl instead.

I stared back at him, suppressing a shrug.

“As a token of my uhh, appreciation, here is something I want you to have.” He opened his jacket pocket, took a swig of his beer, and retrieved a long, thin envelope.

I regarded it with disinterested. I looked over at Moeka. Her eyes had lit up, and she was following the path of the envelope as it arced over to my extended hand. Shane pushed it into my hand, and then tapped it twice with his finger.

“That’s just something I wanted you to have. Hope you appreciate it.” Shane’s beer ran out, leaving him with no action or routine to hide his nervousness. He immediately stood up, and walked to the bar.

Once I confirmed his back was turned, I looked at Moeka. She was grinning like crazy. I angled the envelope up, and cracked open the top. The unmistakable woody aroma of 5 crisp 10,000 yen notes hit me. My eyes involuntarily opened wide in shock. I looked at Moeka who was bouncing up and down in her seat with her hands clasped together. Very cute.

“Moeka. How did you do this?” I asked.

“Secret dayo !” She responded half in English, half in Japanese.

“You didn’t do anything weird, did you?” I asked with half a smile on my face.

She clenched her fists in mock anger and irritation. “Never!” She said indignantly, but with the hint of a mischievous smile played across her features.

I grinned, and dropped the matter. I’d ask her later how she managed this minor miracle.

Shane came back with his Corona, sat down and resumed regular swigging. We resumed regular conversation, and were talking and drinking well into the night. Finally bill time came around. Everyone else chipped in, so I didn’t have to pay. Moeka went around to 7 people collecting money. Shane arced an eyebrow, but reached into his wallet and pulled out his share.

“Oh shit, I only have a credit card,” one guy said, holding up his credit card in resignation.

“No problem!” Said Moeka suddenly. She makes a lunge for the card and grabs it. She sticks out her chest and slides the card between her breasts, like shes processing his credit card transaction. She looked up at everyone else and smiled. Everyone stared back in shock, but I started laughing. Goddess.

Everyone walked outside, feeling fat and happy – except for Shane, who felt 53,000 yen lighter. Everyone went their separate directions, but as it turned out, Moeka and I were going home on the same train line. We walked together to the station.

“I have no idea how you managed to do that. Shane is one of the stingiest people I know.”

Moeka said nothing, but smiled coyly as we walked down the stairs into the station.

“What a great night.” I said. “Thanks a lot for everything.”

Moeka shook her head, as if to say ¡Æit was nothing’.

We got on the train together, and laughed, and chatted and reminisced. I had mixed feelings about leaving Systech. I couldn’t stand Bill and Shane, but I couldn’t stand not seeing Moeka. I felt a knot in my stomach as we hugged goodbye. The hug lasted a split second longer than it should have, and we made eye contact for a moment. The train door alarm started ringing, signifying that the doors were closing. We quickly broke apart. I waved goodbye, and the train left. I walked up the stairs surrounded by 100 people, but I felt alone.

Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 10a, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14