Description: Even in the heart of war-torn Southtown, the restaurants of Chinatown are still needed to keep the populace from rebelling outright. Two individuals from different walks of life just happen to strike up a conversation there -- a wanted criminal, and a well-meaning NOL officer.
A night away from work, and this time it isn't a fact-finding mission. It's just a trip to Chinatown. A night among the sights, the sounds, and the smells of the little slice of Hong Kong inside of japan. The cluttered streets, the people out in the night, it's all a bit of home to the girl from Metro City. She walks under red lantern and gold fortune symbol, looking at the sign for a ramen shop that extolls itself as being better than the ramen one can pick up from the shops just a few blocks away. Even living within Japan with the sword of war overhead, small cultural posturing exists.
And for Clio St. Jeanne, it's silly things like a ramen shop's advertising ego that makes everything worth it. Normally on a night like this she'd be out toward the outskirts, looking for stars, the night sky here drowned out by the light pollution of near a billion bulbs. But there's a vibrancy of life that, while detached and isolated in her personal bubble of apparent ennui, fills her with a hope and happiness that she simply doesn't let show. This city is why she's in the NOL. Why she wants to be that azure flame burning in the darkness.
And yet she's not in uniform here. She's in her hoodie, hood up, wearing that oversized spiked collar that hides her chain weapon as a fashion accessory. For a given value of hiding the spiritual energy that bleeds from Clio that the chain was built and arcanely etched to contain. She's ditched her short shorts for a warmer set of leggings taken from her usual uniform. Though the heavy boots remain, those are good year round.
Dressed as she is, she gets ignored by virtue of wanting to be ignored. And it makes her happy. Left alone in a crowd, enjoying the night, and reminding herself why she fights. And so far, not a monster in sight, it's been a good change of pace from worrying over threats coming and going. Maybe that back alley brawl with a good friend burned off more worry than she thought it would.
Chinatown -- an oasis of delicious food in the midst of an active warzone. Even with the occasional armored vehicle rolling up and down the streets, and the city practically walled off from the rest of the world by a number of barricaded cordons, there is still a need for the harried citizenry to eat, drink, and be merry.
Jubei likes to cook -- and he's quite good at it, actually -- but with NOL posting an S-Class bounty on his head, the samurai can't afford to stay in one place for any extended duration of time. As Terumi already found him at Castle Alucard, the itinerant warrior is loathe to threaten the sanctity of that hallowed ground any further. Which is how he ended up here in Chinatown.
The old warrior had no trouble bounding over the defensive lines. Where the Mishima forces saw the agile cat as a threat, the samurai master saw their anti-personnel gunfire as little more than encouragement to move even faster. His iai strikes carried him right past the cordons before they could even acquire a target lock.
"Jubei, you still got it..." he hums to himself, brushing loose bits of road kibble off of his bright orange robes as he pulls himself back to his feet. His twin tails swish back and forth as he makes his way down the back alleyways of Southtown Village. Mindful of the constant camera surveillance, he nonetheless makes no attempt to avoid the watchful electronic eyes.
No -- he'd heard of a ramen shop in Chinatown that he just -had- to try out. Not surprisingly, the same one Clio had chosen. He appears rather abruptly from a side alley not far from the red lantern and gold fortune symbol.
The cat scans the area with his lone eye, acknowledging that the street is clear of military forces, before making a sharp turn to his right, and a beeline for the ramen store.
The beastman is well aware that there might be some issues with accepting a credit card from one who might be classed -- in vulgar fashion -- as a Darkstalker.
That is why he brought cash.
He walks up to the counter, places a 1,000-yen bill and a 500-yen coin upon it, and points to the menu.
In perfect Japanese, he orders the shrimp ramen, not even caring about the stares leveled his way.
Jubei knows what he wants, and he intends to order it.
Once the reluctant worker takes his money and logs his order, he idly looks around the restaurant -- his eye falling on one person, then another. Simple glances, not to be rude.
He doesn't just -glance- at Clio, though. Something about her makes the old cat's tails lift upwards, into the shape of an upside-down letter J.
The more-than-a-glance lasts only a moment, though -- before he starts to look away. Maybe it was just a hunch after all.
Lieutenant Clio St. Jeanne, NOL, Magic Formula Troop, Formerly American Branch, now Japanese Branch, is a little late in walking into the ramen shop. She pauses, and then she watches the short figure scooting in before her. A short figure in a hoodie. She watches the figure. He has her attention in full as she slinks after him, hand casually resting on the chain to give it tension and cut its sound.
She's watching him because he has a need coat and she wants to ask about it. It's only when she pays a little more attention that she realizes he's a darkstalker. And one that has a nice voice. Now Clio's the curious one and she lingers about behind him, watching the darkstalker pay in cash and order shrimp. She sort of finds the choice a bit stereotypical, but who is she to complain.
She steps up to order not long after Jubei, and she's stared at in turn. She orders chicken. She likes chicken.
The stare from Jubei is just ending when Clio returns it to him. She's been after Ragna the Bloodedge, searching for information. And now, staring her in the, well, chest since he's about a foot shorter than she is, is an S-Class bounty.
A dozen thoughts run through Clio's head. He's a prime target, wanted by her organization. He's a dangerous target surrounded by people who have enough to worry about than her causing havoc. He's worth S-class bounty money. Clio isn't in this for the money. She'd go vigilante if she wanted cash. He has a really nice jacket. He's just trying to eat. And finally; he's actually really, really adorable.
She steps aside, tugging at her hood when she realizes she's been standing in the way of the guy behind her just trying to order his dinner. So she steps over to the side to wait, stepping near Jubei. S-rank bounty Jubei. Who was staring at her.
And now, damn it, she couldn't help but stare at him. How no one could be drawn to the feline, but were seemingly avoiding looking at him, she couldn't quite fathom.
So Clio meets his gaze? He flashes a friendly smile back at her, because that's what you do when pretty girls are watching.
Jubei -expects- to be stared at. He's old, and he's not wearing pants. No place -demands- pants, anyway -- it's always 'no shirt, no shoes, no service'. ... Heck, he doesn't wear shoes either. But he's a cat. No one expects cats to listen to any damn thing that gets said.
Which is why the old cat has learned to give people just enough time to acclimate to the shock of his presence before doing whatever he wants to do. Which, in this case, is to clamber up onto one of the tall seats by the counter. The cat stands just over 123 cm on his hind legs, and seats are 92cm. So when he sits on one of them, his fluffy legs hanging over the edge, it means he can actually meet people's stares at eye level.
And that's when he leans his sleeved paws on the counter -- and they -thud- in the process, which indicates they're quite heavier than they look. His tails level out once he gets settled, charcoal colored from the base to the tip, with a light lilt from side to side. And without turning his entire hooded head, he does tilt sideways to meet Clio's eye.
"... I know, I know what you're thinking, miss," he offers in a thick, brusque Kansai accent.
"You're thinkin', how can a cat like me possibly pick up chopsticks with these meathooks... right?"
Well, considering sweatshirt length and the usual length of her shorts, and the NOL uniform, Clio herself is not normally the most pants wearing individual to be around in Southtown. And she doesn't have the benefit of being a cat. That chain is only wrapped around her waist and hanging similar to a tail, it isn't really one.
And she's still watching him, turning around with him, almost following his movement when he clambers up onto the stool. She leans forward onto the counter, staying standing rather than sitting. The nails punched through the toe of her boot scraping at the ground.
She rests her weight on the counter, forearms down, and she looks at the thudding sleeves. Yes, that is a pretty cool jacket.
And then she's called out. And she pauses at the way she's called out. She looks down, hood still up, making for two hooded individuals next to each other in a ramen shop in this side of Chinatown on a dark night in wartime.
"That's a legitimate question," she says, "And it wasn't what I was thinking, but I am thinking it now. How do you? Do you at all?"
For what it's worth, the cat can put on quite a beguiling smile when he wants to.
Which is now, as he swivels upon his seat so that he can more directly face Clio.
His oversized jacket sleeves stay put for the motion, as it becomes clear that the sleeves are mostly hollow, with the claws being weapons of a sort. Pretty standard fare for anyone who's met a member of the Kaka clan, but... they tend to stick to their own villages as a general rule.
But as he inclines his head downward, the front panel of his jacket begins to rustle.
After a moment, two of the six ties come undone from the inside.
And two cat paws jut out from the jacket, matching the typical feline proportions suggested by the cat's furry haunches and face.
"Practice. People get impatient if you can't do people things. Twice as fast, if you're not a human."
One furred paw reaches out for the cup full of paper-wrapped chopsticks nearest him, drawing a voiced disgust from one of the customers about. He used to care about such things. He doesn't give it any mind now, as razor claws peel the paper away, splitting the chopsticks apart and positioning them between the toes of his right paw.
"That, and there's only one right way to eat ramen, for civilized people." His crimson eye twinkles with delight, as he looks back to the chef-slash-host, hesitantly placing the bowl between his claw-laden sleeves.
"Quick service," he notes, turning his gaze to the host, and bowing his head and thanks. "Your sparkling reputation is well-deserved," he comments, drawing the bowl closer with his left paw.
And without any real hesitation, aside from the customary "Itadakimasu," he digs in -- the chopsticks propped at improbable angles, seeming as if they'd snap right out of his non-opposable-thumbed grip at any moment. He manages to twine a sizable lump of noodles around the chopsticks before raising it to his mouth.
"So what -were- you gonna ask? If you don't mind answerin' questions from a weird old cat like me."
His tails droop slightly, curling around the legs of his seat as he returns a curious glance to Clio. Sure -- he'd taken his eyes off her for a moment. But it's unlikely anyone brazen enough to carry around two immensely intricate swords on his back -- in the same scabbard no less -- is going to be worried about casual bystanders taking a swing at him.
Coat has weaponized sleeves. Weighted, clawed. The cat's hands, paws, are standard, but he's skilled with them. He speaks well, or at least she likes it, she was never one to really understand Japanese regional dialects or be much for understanding their subtleties. Though she didn't expect the Japanese branch of the NOL to understand the differences in State-Side dialects. Also, the cat is polite, and the cat is open with carrying weaponry.
Clio jangles the heavy chain that hangs from her neck and about her waist. Not like she is any different from the cat when it comes to parading about weapons.
As she ordered after, she gets her bowl from the chef next. Along with it a fair stare. After all, she is conversing with and sat next to the cat. So how difficult is it to presume more familiarity than there might be.
"Thanks," she says, slipping into English before she tries out the chicken and immediately burns herself on the heat.
She sucks on her lip to dispel the pain, and to listen to the wanted fugitive talk to her. When the pain subsides, she answers him. "I like your jacket. Did you make it yourself?" It was the first thing on her mind after all, opening questions are surface, being friendly lets you know more about the potential dangers. Even if dangerous didn't mean monstrous.
The next target of Jubei's chopsticks is one of the many shrimp -- well-seasoned, cooked to perfection. He spends a moments admiring the excellence before casting his gaze back to Clio.
"Oh, naw. Everyone in my family grew up with one. Me and..." He trails off for a moment, his pleasant expression growing distant -- before he decides to pop the shrimp into his mouth. If it's hot, he doesn't seem to show it.
"... My brother, he made his own modifications here and there. You'd probably like his better, it's dark colored like yours. Bit niftier design around the claws. Nothin' like mine, haha, he always wanted to show off."
He fishes out another tangle of ramen noodles from his bowl, pausing to savor the aroma of the broth before raising the chopsticks to his mouth again.
"But yeah. Ya swing the weapons around from childhood, ya tend t'remember how to swing 'em as a grown-up. But you probably know all about that, hm?"
The jangle of chain did not escape the furred predator's notice. A chuckle might be heard from the depths of his throat.
"What about you, miss? Haven't seen an ankh pattern around these parts all that often."
Family, a brother in this case. Clio doesn't recall seeing anything about a brother, and not one that's alive at least. Deceased? She notes that the cat had paused when remembering. Maybe he had died. Clio taps the length of her chain and listens intently.
"He's gone, isn't it?" Clio asks, drawing patterns in her noodle bowl, ear bent to the cat, sympathizing. "I like the jacket, I'd have liked to see his work if he did style like that." She takes a bite of chicken and thinks to herself.
"I never had any family besides my mother and she was, well, she was mother." Her statement carries a faint huff of incredulity.
"You seeing more to me than I let on?" she asks, fingertips running along the length of her chain. "Cats can wear coats, why not a person a chain for the sake of fashion?" There isn't a shred of duplicity in her voice, she's being facetious, and laughing just a bit. "Always wanted a sword, thought it'd look better for a hero, but chains are easier to hide in a backpack before they start letting you just carry one around."
A small slurp of noddle and Clio nods to her chest. "Maybe, maybe not. But life is life. I like to live it. More people should wear one." She spins her noodles down, hunting for the chicken she's lost in the bowl with her spinning. "So why do you cart all that weaponry around? Can't be to make sure your noodles come out faster."
Jubei gives a quiet nod to the assertion that his brother has passed. And from the way his whiskers bristle, it might be clear that he doesn't want to dwell on it.
The cat's been through enough of that recently, anyway.
"... Eh. Family's nice to have around," notes the cat, stirring his noodles around with his chopstick. "If I had it to do over again, I'd choose family, rather than wanderin' around like I have been."
He draws in his breath, shoulders rocking back ever so slightly in his chair, with the sweep of his two tails compensating for the new balance. He thinks for a few moments before replying.
"Fashion? I dare say most people who would wear that much chain would accidentally garrote themselves." He chuckles, flashing a world-weary smile. "Oh, don't get me wrong -- I'm no judge of fashion. Just utility. ... Though I always did like the ankh. Reminds me of Egypt. Dunno why, I always liked Egypt. 'Specially the art."
He plucks a shrimp out of the soup bowl, quietly nibbling off a bite.
"As for these... well. They're mine, I gotta carry 'em with me wherever I go. Ain't got a home or nothin -- whenever I try to lay down roots, some young scrapper tries to claim a bounty on me."
The cat turns his head sideways, the humor draining from his face. With regret in his eye, he shakes his head slowly. "Never... never ends well for 'em. Damn shame."
"Family's good," Clio says with a hefty hanging clause in her voice. "But it doesn't have to be blood." She slurps her noodles. "Maybe you find family wandering, maybe you don't."
She spins her noodles, looking at the cat and his twin tails moving about. "Really, you appreciate the culture that worshipped cats? You are full of surprises," she says, looking amused. Even if she is biting back an urge to ask to pat him. She just likes cute animals.
And then he drops the reality of the situation and she turns back in on her bowl. "Going to cut out the games, I like a good fight, but I'm not blood thirsty enough to think I could take you." she spears at her bowl so the sticks stand up. "You have a bounty on you, Jubei. Yes, I know who you are. Vaguely. No, I'm not fighting you." She draws a pattern in the countertop with her middle finger, mulling over conflicting thoughts in her head.
"Dispatched in mankind's darkest hour. We are knights of the blue flame," she speaks the creed in somber tones. "It's only fair you know me. Lieutenant Clio St. Jeanne. I believe in that creed, you know. Despite the look and jokes. A knight is supposed to mean something, and there's no meaning to it if I acted like an idiot and tried to fight you here with all these people, clearly outclassed." She takes her chopsticks from the bowl and sets them gently across the top of it.
"If you threaten anyone, though, I will put everything on the line. Even if it doesn't end well for me. There are things I care about." She taps at the ankh emblazoned on her chest.
The cat agrees with the sentiments about family, and friendship. Family -doesn't- have to just be related by blood. And his own actions have shown a preference for fighting for matters greater than family bonds, anyway.
"So I'm that transparent, mm?" He chuckles back -- of course he likes Egypt for that reason. "Life is a good cause to fight for. So many people these days don't treasure theirs enough."
The matters of real import, though -- the reason Clio's here, and the threat which hangs over Jubei's head like Damocles' sword...
He did warn the young woman in however a roundabout way as could be considered polite; he nods slowly as she lays her position out clearly upon the table.
There is a brief smile as she states that she's not fighting him. At least that message, he won't have to repeat.
He swirls up a bundle of noodles, silently considering his response as he lifts the noodles up to his mouth.
Chewing thoughtfully, and swallowing, he finally responds.
"Well, Lieutenant... You won't hear any threats from me. I may not have any fancy words to champion, no broad agenda to save the world. I'm just a cat, mindin' his own business. There's only one person in this world I could name a grudge against, and he ain't here right now."
He chuckles softly, afterwards.
"I ain't tryin' to start a fuss. Just talkin'. I like talkin'."
He pauses, angling the non-business end of his chopsticks towards Clio's bowl.
"Don't let your soup go cold."
The cat's reasonable. He's just there to talk, and Clio's fine with that. She turns back to her bown and nods. "People just minding business don't end up with bounties like yours. You made someone hate you."
She is in mid soup swirl when she's told to eat. She pauses, and she looks at the cat next to her. "Thanks, 'dad'," she comments with a smirk, even if she does start eating regardless. He's right, the food could get cold and then it'd be awful.
And so the moment lingers and she eats and, frankly enjoys the quiet company of interacting in a non-interacting way. But there's a question lingering on her mind, something Jubei brought up that tugs at her curiosity.
"Who?" she asks him, putting the bowl down again. "The grudge, and, yeah, just Clio is fine. I'm not working right now."
"My 'business' just happens to intersect with the NOL's interests. And hate..."
Jubei draws the bowl closer, nostrils flaring as he inhales the pleasant aroma of his soup bowl.
"Hate might have something to do with it, I guess."
'Dad' glances over, taking note of the lieutenant's resumed eating. No sense in rubbing it in, but he does appreciate that she's able to enjoy the food she'd come here for. For a few moments, he enjoys it as well -- just the clink of chopsticks against a plastic bowl, the swirling of soup and noodles. The remainder of the restaurant's patrons seem to have come to the collective understanding that the cat will just up and leave when he's done, making him just like any other customer.
"Now, now. A cat's gotta keep some secrets if he wants to keep sharing a sunny disposition. It's probably no one you know."
Some part of the cat wonders if she -does- know him, but... why ruin a good dinner?
Clio nods, mouth too full to talk when Jubei mentions the hate. Cross purposes tend to cause enough of that, and throw in a darkstalker vibe and yeah, it makes sense to her. Clio is someone that's put a lot into fighting monsters, and she's figured out that not all of them are obvious nonhumans.
"Eat fast and getting out?" she asks, still with some to go. "Hope you don't need to run off too much, still have some to go," she comments, pointing at her own remnant meal. "And like you said, I like talking."
She slurps, and puts the bowl down again. Her hand goes to her chain, running along the arcane etchings on the links. Linking. All the things that's she's overheard and she's looked for. S class bounties and small worlds converging on Southtown. "Bloodedge or a man with chains," she says, somewhat distantly before she looks sidelongs to Jubei to gauge his reaction.
Jubei peers over the lip of his bowl at the comment -- perhaps he had eaten a bit more quickly than he would have preferred, as his chopsticks have plenty of room to swim around unopposed. A frown tugs the corners of his mouth downward as he hunts for noodles solid enough to be lifted out with his chopsticks.
"I'm in no rush, Clio." he adds after a moment, mouth lifting back into a smile.
Jubei plucks out a couple green onions, nibbling on them thoughtfully as Clio considers her thoughts. But when she speaks, there are definite sparks.
Bloodedge -- that name evokes a twinkle in his eyes and a halt to the swishing tails.
And a man with chains -- that mention evokes a furrowed brow, and a tensing of the chopstick-clutching paw.
And yet, the smile doesn't disappear -- only darkens a few shades.
"I won't lie... those were good guesses."
The chopsticks clack as they are placed alongside the bowl, as the cat takes a healthy slurp of his soup. Once the bowl is sat back down, he nods quietly. "So what do people like you... -do- in the NOL, anyway? Surely there's more to it than hoping to catch bounties on your off-duty time."
Clio tilts the remains of her bowl into Jubei's. She's not had the greatest of appetites tonight anyways, and she doesn't mind feeding kitties. Even if they act like dad's and tell you to finish your food.
"Here. Take your time, I have a paycheck," she tells him with a small smirk and a wave of her hand. Open, friendly, gauging the receptance of her suggestions.
"I pay attention to things," she tells him. "Chain guy comes up a lot lately. Had a run in with Ragna the Bloodedge. Good friend of mine, my family, got caught up in the crossfire and hurt bad." she puts the now empty bowl of hers closer to the far edge of the counter. "I'm not his friend," she assures and uses the word with a heavy weight of fury. Along the lines of the etchings in the chain, dark violet chi embers glow before they're tamped down again.
"You don't know?" Clio asks, her energy sapping at being blindsided by the question, and then, she does indeed listen a bit more. "People like me," she says, nodding. "You know more in general, don't you? I'm just a soldier. They give me the opportunity to fight, to use something like this," she touches her chain, "They gave me an outlet to go after the monsters in the dark. I like the night, I think more people should too, so, I like trying to keep it safe and being a knight? That's one way to do it."
Jubei blinks downward as his bowl is filled up, before glancing back to Clio with a questioning look. Once she explains, he can't help but give a half-smile and a half-wave of his left paw in return. He flashes an open smile, nodding back to the young woman. "... Well, thank you, Clio. I appreciate that."
Regarding her guesses, his expression softens considerably: the very notion of having to work -alongside- 'chain guy' sounds daunting indeed. His face does not betray any further signs about the man's identity; she may as well be talking about any other co-worker acting in a hostile, jerklike behavior. With furrowed brow and a look of concern, he adds, "Mm. Sorry to hear about your friend, though. That sounds terrible."
As she had with him, Jubei looks further -- open to the possibility of learning more about this friend, or the circumstances, without applying undue pressure.
But when it comes ot hte day-to-day responsibilities of being a Knight, he shakes his head. "No idea. Most of the officers I've had run-ins with ain't exactly interested in sharing their work stories."
He considers another slurp of his refilled bowl, but keeps his gaze upon Clio. "... Just the monsters though? What really defines a monster, for you, Clio?"
An idle smile -- the one of someone who is perfectly content to continue conversation, but doesn't want to keep the young woman from her own leisure time.
"You're welcome," Clio tells Jubei with a shrug over the food. He's talking, she's learning, it's a small price to pay for company. She returns his smile with one of her own, hand resting against her jaw as she watches the old cat continue.
Clio ducks her head a bit, rubbing at the back of her neck, chain and collar clinking. "She's a tough girl, tougher than she looks. She'll be fine if just because she wouldn't want to disappoint us by dying," she says of her friend, having a small yet appreciative laugh at Noel Vermillion's penchant for pleasing others. "Sue didn't deserve what happened. But I'll find the chain man, I'll show him how to use one of these," her voice dips low now and the light flares up again.
She isn't bothered at talking, details can be found and cageyness only goes so far in this world, and when Jubei asks of monsters, Clio gives her answer with a stern eyed look. "They eat people. Not alwayd literally," is her answer, "It's not about claws or teeth or weapons or anything like that. It's someone that can see someone else, take everything from them, ball it up and use it for kindling. Then they move on. Sometimes is stealing money, sometimes killing, sometimes it means something a lot worse. That's what a monster is."
On further reflection as he looks down at the bowl, Jubei realizes that the mention of a paycheck was Clio's way of buying him part of a meal. And with faint, slightly embarassed chuckle, he lifts the bowl for another slurp of soup.
Some part of him wonders if she just did that because she likes watching the cat.
And he decides that he's okay with that.
The One-Eyed Twin Lotus has a quite different response for the flare of energy that begins to envelop the chain. He'd seen and felt the previous burst of energy, but he was still expecting a departure. Now, though... well, he realizes it might be a bit uncomfortable to be caught staring at the chain, so he looks back up to Clio, nodding slowly, smiling when it's socially acceptable to smile at the unnamed Noel's defiance.
And yet, he does not signal his -full- approval of the plan to 'show him how to use one of these.' Because if it -is- the same man...
"... That is one definition of a monster, yes. But if I may... ask another question? Which would give you the most satisfaction -- a world without these monsters, or a world where the monsters are unable to hide from justice?"
While asking his question, the cat's expression grows inscrutable. And when he concludes, he raises the bowl for one last slurp.
Clio only wanted Jubei to not feel he owed her for the ramen. Though it is a bit presumptuous that she presumes a one eyed talking cat with a pair of swords and a massive bounty on bis head couldn't get a job. Yes, presumptuous, but Clio felt comfortable with that.
She does notice that Jubei is watching the chain take on her energy, the glow wanes again and she shakes her head. "It's a conduit, just sort of reacts to me, let's me bleed off a bit. No threat," she says and he grasp on the links wrings as her voice rings a little self conscious.
"Always something I could do," she waves off her talent, it's just her thing, and there are other fighters out there doing things with chi all the time.
"Tough question," Clio nods at the hypothetical. It tells her a bit about the cat, or at least the direction he thinks. "The latter. Getting rid of every monster is impossible, I think sometimes we all have the ability to be a little monstrous at times, so we'd all be gone. But the latter, that's better. yeah. Let them come to justice, or at least maybe have a chance to learn and do better." It's hopeful idealism, but it burns in her as the azure flame does.
Jubei's used to people assuming he's a helplessly adorable cat. In his mind, only one of those words is correct.
She writes off her talent -- but the old master isn't about to let her get off the hook so easily. Tilting his snout towards the chains he notes, "You have talents, and I agree, you should use them to serve the world better." Here is this enemy of the NOL, speaking with admiration about the NOL and its officers? Or maybe he's just getting caught up in Dad mode, maybe it's hard to tell.
One paw disappears into the depths of his baggy robes, returning a moment later with a hankerchief, which he uses to dab away the errant drops of soup on his jaw. His tails flick around attentively as he listens to Clio's response -- there is no right or wrong answer to his question, as it was just a prompt after all.
He greets her with a rigid smile and a nod. "That's a pragmatic view of how the world works, yeah. We... all have the capacity to be monstrous. But that's why it's important to listen first, and act second."
His smile grows fractionally warmer as he draws his sleeves off the table, pulling them into his lap. The little feline paws disappear into the folds of his robe, the two clasps pulling themselves shut. "I probably -should- be moving along though. It was a pleasure talking with you, Miss Clio. I do hope this won't be the last of our friendly meetings...?"
Clio would argue that two of those descriptors are apt. She smiles, head lowered, looking down at her hands still on the counter. She draws a figure 8 with her finger, repeating over and over again as she nods. "Thanks," she tells Jubei. "That's the whole point of a talent, isn't it?"
She laughs quietly at the cat's cleaning, she can't help but grin when he dabs at the soup. How can the talking giant cat be seen as anything but adorable, and supportive too. She'll have to really dig into his file to see just why he carries an S-class designation. She might like him, but she's not about to ignore his status just yet.
"I've been trying to do that. So far I've found it works about fifty fifty," she tells him. "But it's sliding to working more often than not. I just wish sometimes people thought of it as we don't have to be monstrous just because we can."
With a sigh, she pushes her hood back and cranes her neck, rubbing at the back of it and rolling her shoulders. "I won't keep you, Jubei. Nor could I." She gives the cat a bit of a smirk. "There's a spot, in the abandoned parts on the outskirts, past some cordons, there aren't any lights. Total blackout. You can see the stars from there. It's a nice spot. You should try there some nights." No, it won't be the last of the friendly meetings so long as he can take the slowest, softest hint that Clio could lob.
The cat glances down to notice the figure-8 pattern -- wondering if that gesture is indicative of something greater.
His response is simple.
The samurai cat is quite pleased that Clio knows that adage about great power and responsibility, and repeating it would just make him look ridiculous. Seriously, she'd just rake the old fuddy-duddy over the coals if he kept it up with tired old lines like that.
"It sure sounds like you gotta good head on your shoulders, Miss Clio. Maybe there's hope for the NOL after all, with bright people like you in it." Coming from someone of a non-feline appearance, that line might start to sound a little condescending, but Jubei's friendly and demeanor is quite sincere.
With a flurry of tail motion, Jubei hops down from his seat, raising his claws up so as not to scrape them across the floor. No -- he silently agrees that Clio would not deter him from his journey, but he's even more appreciative that she didn't try. It would've cast this night in a ... negative light, all things considered.
His whiskers twitch lightly as Clio offers some friendly advice -- particularly with regards to the blackout. An amicable smile stretches across his face, along with a nod; his tails even flutter into a rising twin helix of motion. "I'll keep that in mind. Always did like looking up at the stars."
He turns to leave -- but before breaking eye contact with the young woman, he has one last thing to say:
"I do hope your friends get better soon."
And then he starts to stride his way out of the little ramen restaurant, with all the dignity that a four-foot-tall cat can muster.
Just a gesture, a twitch for when she can't work her chains about her arm. Just, to her, something she's always done. And maybe she would poke fun at the cat for the old canard, but the reality is it's one she's always lived with. Her mother, with her obsession with fighters, had long talked about heroes, warriors, the fate of so much on those that could master the art of fighting. The refusal to talk of her father. The distant behavior yet supportive for Clio's wandering into the night to learn how to fight by her own wits before using connections to ship Clio to the NOL's military academy a world away.
It was always responsibility, but whose?
"So do I, like the stars. That's one thing we all have. The same stars to look at. Same night sky. And thanks. I won't let them know you wished them well," Clio says with a grin and a nod.
She won't leave, not right away. She'll let Jubei disappear into the night before she does as well. Just another crafty escape for the wily S-Class bounty.
Log created on 23:28:13 12/21/2017 by Jubei, and last modified on 01:37:35 12/23/2017.