Description: Late at night, high above the world, Scratch finds it hard to sleep. Her KoF partner, sponsor, and all-around well-meaning pain in her butt, Ken Masters, has several suggestions, some worthwhile, others not so much
It's probably an unusual amount of bustle, the schedule Ken keeps. Or at least, the schedule he's keeping getting himself back in shape for the tournament-- he earns his months off, damnit. While no one is going to stand there with a cattle prod forcing her to keep up, the sheer amount of fighting experience available to Scratch is somewhat legendary. First, there's the gym time. Ken seems to be filming some kind of documentary around his quest to become the King of Fighters, and he and Scratch have been interviewed by newscasters around the country on their private plane and luxury RV accomodated jaunt hither and yon; when not training or sparring with this celebrity, or that.
They did weight training AND cardio with Johnny Cage at his Hollywood compound -- They flew Fei Long out from China to spar with Ken and philosophize for the cameras at a gym Masters rented in Metro, and definitely enjoyed some sake -- They hit up every lesser known competition spot along their stops, looking for worthy opponents, and winning some money. All of it captured, edited by professionals, to be put to a kickin' soundtrack-- the next great fight DVD.
Less prolific in the footage are the workouts, the daily spars and training drills with some of the best physical trainers in the world; as free to access for Scratch as the rest of it. Culture shock, indeed-- Ken does his best not to treat Scratch any differently for being brand new to the world, and that likely just makes it weirder.
She's his partner in King of Fighters, and while Ken's confidence in his own capabilities seems bottomless, it's never an attitude of condescension towards the up-and-comer: just a definite, sure-footed push to fight harder, train harder than she ever has. To do better than his best seems to be the Blonde Battler's own goal when competing. Granted, it might be more efficient without all the glitz and carousing; but that's just not a life Ken wants to live, man.
Current time, it's dark outside the windows as the luxury airliner wings its way high above the cloud ceiling currently obscuring the darkened ground below them, reflecting formless, ever-shifting silvery shadows back upwards when illuminated by the plane's lights.
The two-decked plane is big enough that Scratch has her own cabin-- lounging party zones are on both levels, sparring down below. It's the lounge next to that finely finished circle of hardwood where Ken reclines now, a towel draped around his neck post-workout, though he has yet to trade out the previously fresh black gi.
This...this is just too much. It really is too much.
Sure, this isn't exactly Ms. Carter's first rodeo on the fighting circuit, sure. But this is an entirely different beast. She had no idea that the big time was this...suffocating. The first time she was interviewed, she nearly piefaced someone trying to get away, not out of meanness, but because she was that close to getting an anxiety attack. The fact that she actually saw her name in TMZ was about as mind blowing as anything could be. Sure, it was forgotten the next day, but...
It was a testament to things where the training was the most..cathartic part of it all? Sure, she was getting knocked on her ass often enough that she thought to herself that her guest coaches may as well have just cut out the middle man and spanked her. But...she was learning. She couldn't argue that. And being able to use a gym, an honest to god gym that wasn't rat infested was a hell of a thing. But again, it was just more culture shock.
And at the time where she could actually have some downtime to relax and get some time to actually mentally recover, she simply...couldn't. How could she? She was on a fucking private 747 with a personal cabin that was larger than her aunt's apartment. This was just....
It was enough that she could do nothing but stare out the window, bags under her eyes, body still wrapped nearly neck to toe with bandages underneath her workout clothes. It still doesn't seem real at all, and for a moment, the roughness, the cynicism, the street smartness is tucked away, and a normal teenage girl out of her depth stands, looking down above the world from high above in awe of its size.
As with everything, there are relative measures; and as with most things, Ken doesn't do much in half measures. It's probably a bad precedent to set, given Scratch's dirty sneak thievery when they met, but! As established, what looks on the surface like a gilded reward and opportunity can be the most strenuos thing in the history of ever. No one ever promised it'd be easy, or comfortable. Still, there are the silver linings: like the real chance to improve, make a name, and hell, even the cabin as big as an apartment in Metro. Then again, no low ratio rats to grind.
That, and even with the in-flight wifi, it can be a bit lonely for those not used to it, even with the staff and guests onboard. When Ken stands and stares pensively at the view out the luxury jet's windows, it's probably a somewhat different experience; though perhaps not always.
Once he's recovered from his own workout to end the day, a quick spar in the reinforced room designed just for that purpose, Masters meanders along the aircraft's corridors to raid the leftovers from the microbuffet set out for the passengers' dinner. He hovers like a vulture surveying and taste-testing for some moments before snagging another pork bun for the road and wandering off towards Scratch's cabin. It's no secret to him that the situation is stressful for her-- it's kind of designed to be, even he's felt the proverbial burn. There's that, and when someone coops themselves up in their room and the proverbial party bus, it's usually not the -greatest- sign.
The knock at Scratch's cabin door is quiet enough to sleep through if she managed to pass out early, accompanied by a projected whisper, "Hey, want some tea?" It's what takes the edge off for him at the end of the day... sometimes with a bit of extra kick, but that's neither here nor there. It's a lesson the Japanese learned long, long ago: tea fixes -so many things-.
Scratch might have been cooping herself up a bit, but at this point in the night, she was kind of done with people. She already had more people training her and prodding her than she dealt with at an average day at school, and the party scene there...the kind of parties she was used to involved smuggled 12 packs and a classmate running off a playlist and pretending he was a DJ. It was just too much of a jump.
Her vigil on the outside broke for just a moment as Scratch...well, Cadence now, with all her attitude stripped down, saw her reflection and the bags in her eyes. "Christ..." she muttered, rubbing her eyes with one hand before she heard a knock at the door. "What is it?" she said, sounding as tired as she was. The voice was thankfully a recognizable one, albiet one she was tempted to punch in the throat at least 3 times earier in the day. "Tea? Now?" she said, only barely able to get a sliver of the incredulousness she wanted into her voice.
It's a bit of a far cry from a fully integrated sound system and several bars soundly stocked with the finest, that's for sure. It probably doesn't help that while punching Ken in the throat is a training option he's frequently up for, it's not quite as gratifying in practice as in theory when squaring off against the world-class martial artist. Still, there's no denying the guy's sense of sportsmanship... not just in the ring, in the entire affair, really. "It's for relaxing." Ken explains without missing a beat, or any hint of defensive ire.
It's really not THAT out of the question to think he's showing up with caffeine to pitch an all-night cram session, maybe-- though such pushing has been dramatically lessened since the brutal collision with Oboro. Luckily, medical staff and access are other things that qualify as 'the best available' amongst Ken's entourage. It's nowhere he hasn't been, after all. "Can have some just sent up, if you'd rather." Because that's what luxury is -about-, of course. She probably can't see the easy shrug, but. Shrug. Whatever.
Scratch rubs her eyes a little more, walking toward the door and peeking her head out. Her hair's no longer bound up in that high ponytail, now hanging down in a streaked sort of mess. She just kind of stares at him a little like he just suggested she try and rodeo ride atop a wild grizzly.
"...you know what, fine, send some up. I'm not getting any sleep tonight anyway," she says, sighing resignedly, rubbing her face, and wincing visibly as she moves her arm just a little too much for her current bindings.
Ken grins a little bit of a lopsided grin at Scratch's surrender, and shakes his head. "I don't think you're quite getting the point, here." But then, that's probably integral to why he's here making the offer he's making. Even if it's a bit surreal to suddenly be the centered one; too much time spent with Gouken and Ryu. In that sense, his teammate for this King of Fighters is something of a remix of experiences, to say the least. He steps back from the door and turns towards the bar, taking a moment to consider which shot, exactly, belongs in tonight's tea.
"Unless you don't -want- to sleep, in which case you shouldn't take the offer." He observes with a smirk, turning back slightly to wiggle the bottle, "In yours?" He offers, completely unconcerned that /some/ in both his dual nation-states think she shouldn't. "Home stretch now, one way or the other." It's no secret that Ken wants to go up against Charlie in the finals-- but after the show Twilight Star put on, his paranoia over powerfully psychic girls he's not really familiar with is through the /roof/. Athena could be enough to give the poor guy full on PTSD.
Walking out of her cabin, Scratch rubs her face a little more with her other hand, watching after Ken as he makes his way over to the bar. She's not exactly a stranger to alcohol. Putting it in tea that wasn't 'Iced Tea' was a new one though for her. "...what IS the point, then?" she asks , brushing some of her hair back before taking a seat at one of the stools.
"You're taking lead next match, right?" she asks, wincing again as she tries to adjust into a more comfortable position on her stool. Things are healing, sure, but there's still a lot of scars and stitching to be worried about. "...what do you know about the guys we're up against next anyway?"
"To /help/ you sleep." Ken reiterates directly, with a quiet chuckle. "Bunch of sedating herbs, touch of liquor, helps a ton. Basically mom's recipe; minus the booze." He drops half-into, half-onto a finely upholstered sofa built into the plane's wall, draping one arm over the back and nodding. "Wouldn't count on me being able to take them both, though. At least you should have another week or so to rest up. Everything I can find on Athena suggest she's just as strong as she seems to be-- just damn new for that kind of skill."
She's clearly the one that worries Ken most. "Footage never tells the whole story, but she's won uphill more than once. Not least of all against that ninja she took down last round. I've heard some crazy things about him." Which just makes her accomplishment all the more impressive, in Ken's book. "We've got footage of the other three, too. You should look it over... no telling how they'll play it, but we have to expect them to send in Asamiya." After all, they're facing Ken Fucking Masters.
"Everyone you want there got tickets? Transportation?" Ken may take that kind of thing for granted, but he's at least in touch enough to know not everyone can. There was a similar offer for their fight in Mexico. Ken's apparent resolution to do absolutely nothing about the tea proves to bear fruit-- a fine china pot and accompanying tray and cups is brought to them by Ken's chef, an affable middle-aged fellow named Bobby.
It's Bobby's last task for the night, and niceties are short but sincere before the aroma of lavender covering more potent elements drifts from the tea, redoubling as it's poured and set out. Ken is quick to spike his with a smooth spiced rum in a bottle shaped like a sea serpent, before handing it off to Scratch to do the same.
"Sorry if it sounds close enough to a makeshift roofie for me to be totally comfortable with," the Metro teen deadpans, though she is still leaning enough toward taking it anyways just so she can sleep anyway. It's still not a thing that makes much sense to her though, tea to help someone sleep. Her head falls onto the bar, muttering a little. She's clearly worn out and in serious need of rest, but hearing Ken go over the next match is clearly enough for her to roll her head over and look at him curiously.
"You actually sound worried. I didn't think Ken Masters worried about anything," Scratch said with almost complete, uncharacteristic earnestness.
Pushing herself back up, she finally regarded the tea put out there for her, mulling over it like a child would cough syrup. Then again, she got most of her caffeine from energy drinks. Actual tea is something mostly alien to her. "Auntie can't afford to miss work, so no one really jumps to mind," she adds before finally drinking the tea brought out for her. She winces a little, and stares at the bottle of rum more expensive than her Aunt's rent probably...and pours some in. Another sip...and an even more exaggerated wince. "Augh...you drink this to help you sleep?!"
Ken snorts, not derisively, not at all dismissively, it's with a chunk of disdain for the topic. "Yea, no. Enthusiastic consent is the entire /point/." It's not so much that he doesn't get the joke, deadpan is totally his bag. He's maybe seen a few too many wealthy, womanizing assholes in the celebrity world, though, to find it funny. It's left behind quickly enough, either way, with a shake of Ken's head. "Naw, not worried." He'll fight with his all, and that's usually enough. If it's not? Well, that's competition at a certain level, and one more motivation to slack off a little less-- maybe.
"I didn't know Honoka so I underestimated what she could do, even seeing plenty of evidence to be careful. Well..." Ken grins a bit, correcting himself smoothly, "Maybe not /careful/. As ultra-competent and alert as I possibly can be." A waggle of dark brows punctuates the thought, chased by a heartier swig of the hot liquid. "It works." He assures her, "Not made to sate a sweet tooth, though." Maybe it just needs more (or less) booze. "You don't rest, you don't heal." He does note, matter-of-factly.
Scratch sighs a little bit, still reeling back a bit from the tea. The roofie comment wasn't really too joking on her part either, so no point in laughing over it. She's a little more concerned about his reaction to the fight. She's really not sure if that's bluster or just how he is. AFter all, she doesn't know him much except from what she's seen on TV, and the blur of everything since she became part of 'Team USA'.
The teen rolls her eyes at the eyebrow waggle from the senior fighter before looking at the tea again, and taking another sip. The edge is there, but not as bad as before...still clearly not her cup of metaphorical tea though. "You say that like I want to have insomnia," she says with a bit of an edge before sighing. "You try getting to sleep on a fucking flying hotel when you're used to a 12 x 10 room that barely fits a bed in."
"Maybe it'll be enough, maybe it won't, but it won't be a fight anyone forgets soon." Ken seems quite confident of that much. Even if he's less willing to write Athena off compared to the start of the tournament. The reasons should be obvious to present company, given the shape Scratch came out of the Twilight Star bout in. The young champion's smile returns easily, along with a moment of amused laughter, "I'm pretty sure everyone loves stress and sleepless nights." He sarcastically opines. There -is- a method to his madness in this particular olive branch.
"And yea, that's always a problem, being /too/ comfortable." It's not that he doesn't understand the vast change of scenery-- it just doesn't stop him from being a smartass about it. "You could always try the cargo hold." Case in point. A wink precedes a more serious suggestion, "Or the hot tub." He downs the rest of his tea and stands, cracking his neck. "I'm hitting the showers, then crashing. Footwork in the morning." He reminds her, grinning. It's not that he doesn't feel the anxiety-- but he /does/ seem to thrive off that weight. "Night." Ken throws up one hand in a parting wave over one shoulder as he paces leisurely back towards the stairs.
Another sip of the strange drink is taken. Another wince...but she's almost getting used to it. Almost. She's not sure if the tea is helping her relax or she's just hitting that safety zone of being too tired to care anymore, but she feels SOMETHING.
The first sarcastic suggestion, she legs slide. The next...she pauses at. "...I'm going to ignore that last one and pretend that didn't come off as a total creeper suggestion," she adds before another quick gulp. She groans when she's informed of what she gets to look forward to in the morning. /Foot/work. She doesn't care if it's necessary, it's a pain in the ass. "Long as said footwork involves my foot toward your face," she snarks before turning back to her drink.
"...how the hell did I get here?" she asks herself rhetorically, before folding her arms on the bar and dropping her head there...probably not the sleeping spot she intended for the night, but she'll be glad she got some sleep at all in the morning.
"Only creepy if I strip down to a speedo and join in!" Ken observes jovially, without pausing his stride.
The only response Ken gets, even if he probably doesn't see it, is the world's laziest middle finger.
Log created on 21:13:35 06/27/2016 by Scratch, and last modified on 09:45:12 06/28/2016.