Description: It's not often that the tech-ninja decides to ditch her bumblebee-themed outfits and dress to impress, but some occasions call for it. A night with the big boss Duke at one of his favorite steakhouses -- what could go wrong?
The Sinzan Bistro.
The Steakhouse in Downtown Southtown was an elegant affair; popular with the businessmen retiring for the evening for dinner dates with their loved ones, it was decorated with rich red silks and brightly lit atmosphere. The tinkle of glasses and the chatter of patrons run through the resteraunt. Well-dressed waiters pass by, as they quickly serve the rich meals and fine wines. But in a corner, it is very quiet; silk walls were set up around this section, to give a level of privacy for the single patron. Within, there is only a single table.
And alone, at this small table, was Duke Burkoff.
The Crime Boss of the Southtown was sitting at the table. Garbed in his sinister red and black overcoat sits on his shoulders, with a red waistcoat underneath. Black trousers with red cuffings sit as his ankles, with a pair of beetle-black shoes. He stares ahead with yellow eyes, a grim state of calm about him. He was waiting now. He had denied wine. He had denied food.
The truth was, this was a dinner for two.
Two sets of silverware were placed. Two fine crystal globes were in place. Napkins were placed, and the candles were lit. But the other chair was still empty; it had been so far. The single waiter, who comes frequently enough, made the dangerous gambit of asking Duke if this was a date with a lover; perhaps she was showing up late. But this was not a date with a lover, nor was it a date with a client. He had a date with an employee tonight.
And there was some serious business to discuss.
Ninjas must be swift, silent, and invisible, capable of disappearing into thin air at a moment's notice. Their early lives consist of brutal drills intended to hammer these points into their growing minds, such that every action, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is predicated on enhancing stealth.
This goes so far as to include diet. As the new arrival to the Sinzan Bistro enters, she is unaffected by the heady aroma of steak which suggests a superior taste. Her nose wrinkles once upon entry, and that is all. Her diet includes fish and vegetables -- not steak. It's not that she doesn't appreciate the atmosphere, just that the flame-haired kunoichi is immune to the herbs and spices which appear to be intoxicating the other denizens of the steakhouse.
She's dressed for the occasion, so as not to stand out. There's no cause for showing up for a public meeting with Duke in a baggy t-shirt and jean shorts, after all: a strapless black dress with finely ruffled hems will fit in nicely. Ochre leggings are matched by the fashionable bracelets jangling about upon her wrists. The ninjette's star-shaped earrings flutter about as she bows respectfully to the maitre'd, making his acquaintance.
A few moments later, she slips inside the curtain as it is parted for her. The shinobi's alabaster skin has been lightly kissed with rouge and eyeliner, making the dimunitive woman look wise beyond her years. She bows in Japanese fashion, and curtsies in Western fashion.
Taking her seat, she breaks her stoic neutrality with a pleasant smile. Nothing overbearing -- it's all professional for now.
"Wow, this place is -fancy-..." she admits with lowered eyes. "Thank you for meeting with me today."
She has much to discuss, but formality is key, as she folds her hands pleasantly in her lap.
And she finally arrives.
Duke's expression is still grim as his eyes lock on the young lady entering the Bistro. He was a little surprised; he had half-expected her to show up in a t-shirt and Japps, and maybe a pair of Cruggs to boot. She could almost pass as a proper lady right now. As she takes her seat across from the great, dark-skinned man, his yellow eyes still fix themselves on Nagase. His lips are tight, his brow furrowed. As she lowers her eyes, the Duke finally
"It is passable."
That was the rumble from the crime boss, his yellow eyes drifting from Nagase to around. The titanic man does not so much smile, but grimace less. Looking above Nagase now, he nods his head softly. "I have eaten at better, but unfortunately... I seemed have destroyed my favorite resteraunt. Alas." With both people sitting down, the reaction is swift. In a flash, the waiter appears, hovering over the pair, passing a wine list to Duke. "I should thank you for your excellent work." He begins, looking over the wine list steadily. But before we get down to business..."He looks up from the list.
"What kind of wine do you prefer?"
Nagase is quick to note the glimmer of surprise flickering across the crimelord's eyes. Maybe she imagined it, though. She looks to a spot just past Duke's shoulder, half-expecting to see the vital statistics readout lighting up in her eyewear. It's a force of habit, though she's left her wrist-mounted Battle Disc System somewhere safe for this rendezvous.
No, now she's forced to read eyes directly. And Duke's not giving her much in the way of information with his expression, nor in the way he negates her compliment upon the restaurant.
"Alas," Nagase responds, pressing her lips together in a commisserating half-smile. This is going to be a tough negotiation, if he can't even...
Wait. He -did- compliment her, just then! The kunoichi's eyes twinkle, and her lips lift into a more wholehearted smile as she bows her head in thanks, not wanting to interrupt the train of thought.
Luckily, she's researched the menu options before her arrival. Thoroughly. "Chardonnay, please." A crisp white wine, for the seafood she's had her eye upon.
Once the waiter exits, she inclines her head in an attentive posture. "Tragic, the number that was done on that restaurant." She smiles inwardly, as if she's about to tell a joke and just can't figure out the wording. In lieu of humor, she asks simply, "It's being rebuilt, I hope?"
Nagase must feel naked to be without her Battle Disc System before Duke.
"Good choice." The Duke growls briskly. "But are you really going with seafood at a steakhouse?" The deep, mirthless laughter that rumbles out showed that he was not serious about the question. "The loss of L'Amour is a temporary issue. It will be built, with the money from those tournament people." He shakes his head now, the scowl deepening on his face. "It should have been a simple arrangement, and one that they should be following through on without a hitch."
"But now they've made things difficult for everyone."
The waiter returns with the wine, pouring it into each glass. Duke waits a moment, silent, until the waiter leaves again. There would be no flourish with the scent of wine, of tasting it. As the waiter leaves again, the Duke growls again. "As I understand, they were trying to repay the favor of our arrangement, and interfere with our business operations." The rumble of Duke turns a shade darker. "And someone is starting trouble with the standing order of things as well. I do not appreciate people interfering with our business." A dark cloud seems to come over the table, as the furious temper of the crime boss is barely kept in check. The tempest dies down, a moment, as does brighten slightly. "Fortunately, you have been working very hard at resolving that issue. And doing a very good job, as I understand." Duke leans forward, his very presence enveloping the table as he looks down at the red-haired shinobi.
"The trouble is, though, you've begin to understand just how good of a job you are doing, is that right?"
Laughter, even of the mirthless variety, is enough of a sign for the mischievous kunoichi that she's made a positive impression on the man, even without her technological crutch. Her laugh merges with his, though she makes only a mediocre attempt at concealing her own mirth. "Mmm... Don't get me wrong, I -will- be trying the steak. But it's a bit of a shift from what I normally eat, so..." In typical Japanese fashion, she leaves the rest of her reply to be inferred from context, offering a diminutive shrug.
She listens quietly as the L'Amour restaurant's fate is spelled out for her, weathering the storm that follows. She has plenty to contribute as it regards the group causing trouble with their operations -- it's clear in the way she nods knowingly along with each of his words.
She opens her mouth as if to speak, only to hesitate upon seeing the brightening mood. It's not happiness, per se; not quite. But it is... approval.
She holds her ground. She buckled too much last time, settled for too little. It's with quiet resolve that she laces her fingers together, looking up at Duke with the innocence -- or is it petulance? -- of a child that smiles in the face of an angry parent's diatribe out of sheer ignorance of the words being shouted.
She mentally runs down the list of things in her head that she's done.
The lockbox she was hired to retrieve: Retrieved.
The mastermind responsible for the lockbox's theft: Ended.
The organization who hired that mastermind: Humbled.
And then there are the loose ends she's dug up for free -- and the gleeful manner in which she's deflected multinational investigators from the Syndicate.
"I think I've acquitted myself well, yes."
Nagase exudes confidence. She knows that the intimidating crimelord could snuff her flame with the blink of an eye. But she also knows that to do so would be to willingly sacrifice the last bits of information she has, and to lose out on the benefits of her prodigious abilities.
"Your time is valuable. There are things only you can do, and there are tasks I can handle for you." Her smile grows. "I'm just happy to know that you're looking out for me."
The ninja plays with fire -- it's part of her job description.
"I've... turned up some interesting information on the folks responsible," she chirps, drawing her purse into her lap. Casually, she keeps her eyes locked with Duke's as she withdraws a cellphone from the purse. "Wanna hear it?"
Nagase smiles back expectantly at her intimidating employer. Again, the Japanese woman opts for inference, rather than risking a vulgar request for the remainder of her fee.
It would be like crushing a fly.
Duke was pure power. Anybody in his presence would recognize that staggering power. He was, after all, the one that nearly brought the HitBit server to its knees by the sheer strength and energy. He was a powder keg, a volcano ready to go off at the blink of an eye. As Nagase holds her ground, he does lean back, slowly.
"At this point, your time is valuable as well."
The crime boss rumbles. There was no happiness yet. Only business, pure business. Nagase would be asking for her actual value. But this was normal. This was expected. A successful employee had every right to ask to be paid in her actual value. The expression was still grim, still barely contained. Those yellow eyes were not breaking. "I would like to see just how valuable it is, though. Or rather, -listen-"
And Duke reaches out, to take the phone from Nagase, to hear the fruits of her labor.
With her confidence rewarded, Nagase quickly unlocks the phone by tracing a complex kanji pattern on its face -- one she'll be replacing at her next opportunity. She hands the phone over -- it's already keyed to a photograph of a katana. It seems perfectly normal, except for the geometric patterning which is -not- a staple of traditional Japanese swordsmanship.
"The sword is of Ainu making. The man who possessed it was a reclusive man from Hokkaido, with some Ainu ancestry -- though that doesn't -quite- explain the big to-do about it. This is the sword, if you recall, that was being stolen during your fight."
She makes a 'swipe' gesture with her hand to suggest that there's more pictures on the phone. "If you browse through you can see my other data. The sword is largely ceremonial, and while I have not been able to definitively verify it, sources suggest that the sword once belonged to an Ainu chieftain named Shakushain, killed by the Matsumae clan in the early 1670s."
Included is a photo of the Statue of Shakushain, and some additional research. "So this sword... was of value to the Yamaguchi-gumi yakuza who attempted to steal it. What I've -not- been able to figure out is why he wanted it... because when he was later questioned, he claimed to know nothing about it. Or anything about the theft entirely."
Nagase looks up as the server comes around, smiling cheerily up at him. "I'll be having the surf and turf. Medium rare on the steak, if you please?"
She waits until privacy is granted again before continuing. "Attempts are being made to steer us in the direction of the Yamaguchi-gumi in almost every instance -- to make it seem like the yakuza family is trying to implicate us. But there are multiple parties in play here. The Yamaguchi-gumi is in turmoil right now -- members are abandoning the clan in droves and joining others. The two major rival clans are the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi and the Akatsuki-gumi. The Kobe group's been around a few years -- they're above-board. But the Akatsuki-gumi... "
Nagase's smile grows tight. "I don't have much to go on there. They're not semi-public like other yakuza groups. They don't use landlines, fixed IPs, or any of the normal methods that normal people use that would let me locate them."
Also in the phone's photo gallery: proof of her deeds against Skull Cross and the so-called Dungeon Master.
Duke explores the phone pictures, as Nagase narrates.
A smile does finally spread on the Duke's face, as he sees the aftermath of Nagase's work. The information about the Ainu sword was... broad strokes for the crime boss. Duke himself was Russian. To him, the background of the sword was a mere footnote. What was important was that it was the Syndicates, and it was taken. As the server comes around, he turns the phone face down, looking at the waiter with yellow eyes. The waiter takes down Nagase's order, but as he turns to Duke, the crime boss states firmly.
"You already know my order."
As the waiter retreats, the ganglord turns back towards Nagase, turning the phone face up again. "Yamaguchi-gumi has been running itself poorly in the last few weeks." Duke rumbles low, his brows furrowed furiously. Looking back at the phone, he narrows his eyes. "And if they are stupid enough to steal a mere trinket from us? It would be an invitation to war. A war the syndicate would win."They are collapsing right now..." Duke mulls, reaching the pictures of the Skull Cross gang and the humiliations. A smile returns to his face, the depravity and violence in full display and documented. He considers careful, on the next action.
And he finally just shakes his head.
"What you suggest makes sense. Yamaguchi's leadership is clearly in shambles. They're weak. And there really is no way they would be so stupid as to draw our ire." The titan growls. "And the fact the leftovers are being herded to the Kobe Yamaguchi and Akatsuki? Somebody's hoping we'll smash the Yamaguchi, and whoever survives will end up fleeing to them." Duke balls up a fist, bringing it softly upon the table. The silverware and glasses rattle. "We've done work with the Kobe Yamaguchi-Gumi before; we are not on good terms. But not bad terms, either." Duke mulls a bit on that front.
"So there is nothing you can do, to get more information on what the Akatsuki is up to?"
Nagase has a few things to learn about Duke -- particularly regarding the extent of his wrath. One small trinket here, one small strongbox there... as invitations to -war?- The flame-haired kunoichi's smile dims in that regard. That's a... Machiavellan approach, and yet, as long as there's profit on it, she -should- be happy about that. But it does take her a bit longer to nod in reply to that particular statement.
She shows slightly more interest in the interplay of the yakuza factions. The Yamaguchi are falling: "Well. Akatsuki... I'm not certain. I'm going to need more time. And... possibly more resources." She laces her fingers together, pressing her index fingers and thumbs together as she considers her words. "I... think we need to set a trap, really. We know they want the sword, so leave it somewhere that it can be taken easily. Then we track it, and see where it goes. That lets us know who this other party is."
She looks over at her Chardonnay, thoughtfully, before tearing her eyes away again. "But for now, I guess you've been workin' damage control on what's been discovered. I don't know anythin' about that political stuff... all I know is that the Southtown PD doesn't give me any guff." She smiles faintly at that, lifting her hands so that she can rest her chin on her thumbs.
"Whoever's runnin' this thing -- Akatsuki, or Kobe, or whoever the heck -- wants to make it a Yamaguchi versus us thing. Interpol's involved. Some... weird... British group called Delta Six is involved. So the clock's ticking there. So if we don't want their best and brightest folding to the new crew..." She splits her hands apart, shrugging. "We clean our noses, get the Yamaguchi taken care of, then we just arrest the bastards for theft as honest business folks. Seems good enough to me."
If you let people get away with the little crimes, they'll try for the big ones.
Duke was a ruthless crime boss. But he was still practical. "If you need more resources. You will get them. I want to know who is trying to start a war. And I want that person to be torn apart by every single member of both of our groups." A brief flare of crimson energy flashes from his neck, as the man's arms spasm violently under the suit. The table rattles again; this time Duke was not even touching it. The raw power of the crime boss was barely contained. carefully regaining his composure, he finally speaks with a cool tone to Nagase.
"Southtown PD will not be giving you any trouble."
The damage control was already being acted on. "We'll make our sacrifices to Interpol. They found our caches. We will let them have them, and they can check their boxes on that. As for Delta Red, I'm well aware of their presence. They are limited to what Interpol is limited to, and Interpol cares about commerce, and terrorists. We deal with commerce. And we will give them the commerce they found. That will be their trophy, and that is all they will take from us. They are looking at the Yamaguchi alone, and are hoping to take as many people with them as possible. As for Yamaguchi..." He scratches his neck
"... I think we can help them out."
"Yamaguchi doesn't want a war. At least their members, certainly. They just want to do their jobs, and have a natural order to work within again. A war would be too chaotic... and would take away everything they own. They are afraid, Nagase. The forces of law are descending on them at their weakest. There is no security being a member of the Yamaguchi. And right now, there is an opportunity that we need to take advantage of." Duke leans back in his chair, looking upwards in thought. "We'll politely extend the offer to them that we understand the difficulties they are going through, and that we understand that they are falling apart. And we are willing to prop them back up again, and reorganize them back into the same strong, centralized organization they were before." Duke clasps his hands together, fingers interlocking.
"As the newest members of our syndicate."
Nagase is pretty good at handling operations, but her rundown of everything she's found out is... chaotic, at best. It's good to have focus -- and this is one thing she gives the big man props for. He's angry -- she gets that, choosing -this- moment to shrink back in her seat. She knows he's not mad at -her-, but unlike the negotiation on her own worth, she has no dog in this fight.
She'd really feel bad if she'd let herself get burned for -no- good reason.
"... Right. Want to know who. Torn apart. Got it." She holds out her empty left hand, her right pantomiming a pen jotting down the information for future reference.
The cooler tone is definitely appreciated, as she scoots her chair closer to the table. She also seems pleased that the man's on top of the issues she's brought up -- issues a younger, more naive, mob boss might have found alarming.
The idea of the Yamaguchi being -helped-, though... she smiles cheerily, eyes lighting up. "That's... that could work." The assassin's tool is murder, and the ninja's tool is misdirection, but the tool of the leader is negotiation -- and it's one she can now appreciate a bit more. Bringing them into the fold? That's -beautiful-. "Yeah, that's a brilliant idea, boss-man! Two birds with one stone!"
Nagase had raised her hands in her giddy excitement -- but the chaotic sound of her bracelets clinking together draws her attention. It feels -weird- having these trinkets on rather than the wrist device that keeps her defensive and aware... but she does get the sense that she's being treated well now. She's more comfortable than the last meeting, to be sure. Duke does still seem to have a temper problem, but...
That just brings something else to mind.
"Come to think of it, I was wonderin', boss. I was watchin' your heartrate all throughout your fight with that one guy -- he's still missing, b.t.w. -- and..." She balls her right hand into a fist, bumping herself just above the heart. "So like... you're not even the least bit afraid of your ticker tocking out. That's... is it cool for me to even ask about that?"
It -seems- appropriate for her to ask, considering that even -without- her Battle Disc System, she can tell he's... combustible? But in a way, she looks less scared now than... envious, really.
Helping was only better than the alternative.
The truth of the matter was that Yamaguchi was going the way of the dodo. The question was whether or not the lieutenants would go with it, or go with the stable power structure of the Syndicate. The Syndicate could take a few blows to the chin. The difference between them and Yamaguchi was that the syndicate had the right people in its employment. People like Nagase, like Duke. As Nagase becomes more excited, however, the crime lord gives a.... strange look, away from the ninja.
"You sound concerned for me."
Duke turns his head around, his yellow eyes transfixed upon Nagase. They were not cruel now, though. But they were not kind. A curious stare comes from the crime lord. The waiter finally returns, with a platter of food ready to share. One was heaped with a fine cut of beef tenderloin, heaped with tiger shrimp tastefully arranged around it with a side of broccolini. The other? Heaps of russian cutlets of beef, a strange and esoteric cut, outside the scope of common cuts. Duke takes his wine glass, and raises it to Nagase. "I hope you aren't starting to develop feelings for me. If you are, however..."
"I would assume that would provide a discount for your services?"
Nagase doesn't, in the grand scheme of things, care about the branches of the yakuza. Some of the Yamaguchi-gumi worked with the Iga-ryu, once a long time in the past. But with the professionalism of the yakuza came a reduced need for the assassins' services, which meant a breach that couldn't be easily mended. Right now... she'll take a paying job over languishing in boredom -- or, gasp, taking up a job like a normal person.
It's not a life she'd wish for.
But then Duke, either willfully, or deliberately as another hard-sell bargaining tactic, completely misconstrues the kunoichi's understated emotions. Her lips press into a thin line, and she's just about to give voice to the multitude of thoughts on her mind, when a plate with a delicious aroma is placed in front of her nose.
This scent, she is -not- immune to. She offers silent gratitude to the waiter in the form of an ebullient smile and a bob of her flame-orange head.
She reaches out, and grasps the goblet thoughtfully. She's all set to raise the glass to the hulk of a man.
And then... -that-. She responds as if she'd been slapped -- by a glove, not his quite-formidable hand. Her cheeks redden, and her nostrils flare.
"Don't take this the wrong way, boss-man, it's just professional interest." She raises her glass, clinking it against Duke's. "I don't want you croakin' before I get my pay." Inclining the goblet towards Duke, she then draws it to her lips and takes a brief sip.
"But no, seriously, is it technology, or are you some kinda darkstalker?" She sets her plate down, clapping her hands together with a forced recital of 'Itadakimasu~' before reaching for a fork and knife. "'Cause you ought to be dead like a hundred times over just from the times I've -watched- you."
The blush seems to be lingering across her cheeks. Maybe it's the alcohol -- Asian flush syndrome is, after all, a documented condition.
It was an innocent enough mistake.
Duke's calmness on his face remains as he sees the girl blush. As she quickly defends herself on the question, just innocently continues to ask about it. And the calmness fades. The glare hardens. And the spasms come. There is a crack, as the goblet is crushed into his palm, his hand turning into a fist. Wine and blood oozes out from the hand as he stares into Nagase. Flames raise up around his skin again, boiling out.
And he brings his fist down.
The restaurant falls silent as the blast comes. The silk lined walls around them are blown apart. The table that was once between Nagase and himself was shattered into pieces, the plate of steaks, the utensals, the candles, everything fallen on the floor. Lingering crimson flames pool around the remains of the dinner, as Duke keeps his seat. Almost immediately, the waiting staff makes their move, picking up the debris. Already, a new table was being fetches. Duke stares directly across at the ninja.
"I don't think that's any of your business."
Never let it be said that Nagase wasn't always on the lookout for herself -- for as soon as that goblet cracks, she's already making a move.
The chardonnay can crash with the rest of the table -- it was never a selling point for her. The surf and turf? She's clutching the plate close to her. As much as she's done, she's canny enough to never let a perfectly good dish go to waste -- even as crimson flames reflect against the lenses of her glasses, the sudden heatwave tousling her frost-tipped hair about at its mercy.
Her bracelets continue jangling, even as the girl spares her plate from Duke's wrath. It isn't any of her business, he says.
"Fine," she snaps, balancing the plate atop her purse and spearing a shrimp with her fork, keeping her eyes fixed on Duke so that she doesn't have to look down at the carnage, or meet the gaze of any of the other guests who now have a -direct- line of sight to the young woman in black. "Forget I asked."
The kunoichi is trembling. But she has no intentions of yielding, or fleeing, from the ferocious temper of her employer. Didn't she -warn- him not to take it the wrong way?!
Duke was free to take it any way he wanted.
The rest of the patrons was not looking towards the duo, in fact. They were all actively looking away from the eruption; maybe Duke made a habit of frequenting here in the past. The yellow-eye man inhales slowly, his chest expanding. And with a rumble, he exhales. "I think I will forget." The crime boss rumbles.
"For your sake."
Duke looks to the waiter, who was almost throwing himself at Duke's feet with apologies. Desperately, the nearby waiters struggle to get the walls back up again, to return some moment of privacy between the two. Another goblet is placed before Duke, as well as a linen napkin held out. He wipes the wine from his hand; there is no blood now. Returning it to the waiter, his glass is refilled. And like that, the waiters leave, making themselve scarce with the skills that might even give Nagase pause. "So." The crime boss growls, his temper dying down.
"What will you need, in order to investigate further?"
Nagase just stares back at Duke, nostrils flaring with barely-contained anxiety. The ninja can disappear in a heartbeat -- and she's -prepared- to, now that her host has demonstrated his propensity to be -much- less hospitable and gracious than she'd expected. The fact that the staff are apologizing to -him- for his outburst just speaks volumes to the Iga-ryu ninja.
As the privacy wall is re-erected and acoutrements are replaced, Nagase's left foot snakes out across the floor. It doesn't seem obvious why until she reaches down, retrieving her (thankfully otterboxed) phone off the floor. She dusts it off with a thumb. Her heartbeat pounds in her ears, and a mirror of the smartphone display reflects in her eyeglasses as she navigates wordlessly through the menus.
What will she need? She exhales -- clearly, she needs some fresh air, among other things. Placing her plate back onto the new tablecloth, she slides her phone over to Duke.
The number on the bottom line is quite a deal larger than the last number she'd asked of him -- of course, the itemized list also includes the tasks the woman has already performed on Duke's behalf.
She neatly saws into her tenderloin, quietly removing a section of it. She takes her damn sweet time eating it, too -- knowing that the risk of another outburst is high. There's plenty of time for him to read the list, and absorb the true import of what she's asking for. "End of old business, start of new. Investigation. Acquisition. Like I said, they work off the grid, I can't just go plucking data out of a hat."
Another shrimp is speared -- the true delicacy of the meal she had been after. She chews on it thoughtfully, looking over the brim of her glasses at Duke.
Her heart is still pounding, her cheeks still a flustered shade of red. Half a second, she reminds herself: all the lead time she needs to be out that door, never to return.
Duke could see the fear.
It was acceptable. The young lady needed to learn that while Duke could be friendly, he was not her friend. He was her employer. Duke glares holes into Nagase, as if his very look could combust her. The phone is slid across to him, and he looks down. Lifting up the phone, he inspects it. He is quiet. Very quiet. Quiet for too long. The man tenses up again, and the relaxes. And finally, he grunts.
No negotiation. No counter-offer. Just a firm acknowledgement. Was she understating her value again? Duke moves the phone back across to her. "You will pick up the payment at the usual location. You have been performing well so far." Another plate of steaks is brought before him, with new utensals. "But don't forget that I expect results. You better hope you keep on being successful."
"For your sake."
No negotiation. No counter-offer. Nagase asked for a lot of money -- enough to spend nine to twelve months in a fancy beachfront condo without a care in the world. Not that she -will-, just that she -could-. But is she undervaluing herself still? The fact that Duke straight out told her she was at the start of the conversation is just a sign that, well, yes. Maybe she is.
But those eyes, burning holes through her. She can't turn away, not now. She continues presenting herself as bold, determined, even as her fork continues to flutter from the adrenaline coursing through her body.
It's not until he's done speaking that the ninjette looks back down at her meal. She's barely even touched it. The meal itself would have been lost if she hadn't saved it herself. Unlike Duke, she did not get a replacement; only a glass of water made its return to her table setting.
The subtlety is not lost upon her.
She eats the shrimp and the vegetables in silence, as her adrenaline begins to ebb away. Occasionally she looks back over her eyeglasses at the crimelord with cold resolve, reaching for her phone and stowing it back in her purse.
She'd tried playing nice, she tried opening up to the man, and all it got her was frizzy hair and a near heart attack. To hell with your steak, old man.
"You'll get results," she concludes, after much deliberation.
And as she dabs her mouth with a napkin, she adds with a wry smirk, drawing her purse close to her: "For -my- sake."
And then, her form flickers away from view.
A few moments later, a steakhouse employee cries out in pain, with the sound of said employee falling to the floor just an instant afterwards.
Seriously. To hell with steak.
And now she was quiet too.
The brutal crime lord's presence was smothering. Duke knew very well he was not treating her kind by her standards. But it wasn't about her standards of kindness, was it? After she reaches her conclusion, Duke doesn't even smile. He just nods. And then, she is gone. The cry of a waiter comes out, but Duke? Duke didn't care about anybody else now. His concern is his business. And his business? His business would be getting very good, very, very soon.
Duke begins to chuckle darkly, as he begins to go into his heap of steaks.
Log created on 10:20:38 03/08/2016 by Nagase, and last modified on 21:54:17 03/09/2016.