Description: Tairyu has found himself drowning in a pit of despair, and it may just be up to bratty Corporal Panesh (Mint) to help get his head back above water.
Now that she has a more personal reason to travel to Southtown, Minal Panesh had a booked a flight. She'd planned to show up in the late evening, just about the perfect time for a rendezvous with a certain yakuza man as he was leaving work for the day. And, as she hadn't wanted to complicate the busy man's life any more than she had to, the trip had been planned several days in advance, leaving him plenty of time to take care of whatever business needed to be taken care of.
And then the airline offered her the irresistable temptation of leaving -early-, to make room for an overbooked flight, with the added benefit of a flight voucher. And, as Mint plans to be traveling more often, she jumped right on that.
Which is why she's stepping out of a taxicab, a couple blocks away from the two clubs owned and operated by Katashi Tairyu. She'd already made a stop at her hotel to drop off luggage, leaving her unencumbered as she steps out onto the sidewalk, two plastic fingers raised to the side of her face. A blue light recessed into her prosthetic hand blinks in suggestion of its alternate mode of operation as simple cellphone.
Brrring. The South Asian's hazel eyes flit back and forth as she strolls down the Southtown street. She'd picked out a grass-green shrug, tied loosely over a pale off-white camisole top, the hem just low enough to hang over a pair of mouse-grey slacks: a cute look with enough strong verticals to subtly suggest a bit of additional height to the brawler's diminutive frame.
Brrrrring. Her right hand vibrates subtly with the sound of a phone ringing on the other end. The dusky-skinned pugilist grins as the distinctive lights and signage of the Mars and Venus clubs come into sight.
"Katashi? Hey... guess who's already in town!" She pauses, taking a moment to picture the expression on the stoic gangster's face, the way he managed to smile so adorably whenever they were laughing together.
She doesn't wait -too- much longer though: impatience cut that wait down to about 1.2 seconds. "Surprise! It's -me!-"
The response she gets through the speaker of her... uh, hand, may not be exactly the eager kind of response she was expecting, even taking into account Katashi's typical stoic disposition. Just that single sound alone already sounds a bit... off, even. And when it's followed up by a "You're early," the man's voice sounds... tired. Not necessarily 'in need of sleep', but certainly lacking in energy.
When it inevitably becomes clear that she is not only in town, but closing in on his workplace (or one of them, anyway...), he provides her with instructions to circle past the entrances of both clubs, and make for the employee entrance, instead, where she is met by a bulky japanese man in dark clothes. Security for the clubs, most likely. Yakuza? Possibly. Whichever the case, the particular fellow doesn't seem particularly intent for idle chatter with his boss' guest, instead treating her with all the due professionalism of leading her silently two floors up, and to a door to an office. Knuckles knocked agains the wooden frame in a potentially very particular rhytm, before stepping back to clear way for Minal herself to step up when the door opens.
And again, she may well immediately notice that something is *off* when she sees Katashi on the other side. His clothes are still the same (great shock there) though he's lacking in the jacket right now, but that's not the important part. What would strike her more immediately is that the green eyes that look to her from the other side of the door don't seem as bright as before; subtly reddened, and with bags underneath his eyes. His usually clean-shaven face, too, holds the darkened shade of a 5 o'clock shadow with the growth of a stubble that hasn't been attended to.
"...Come on, come in," he murmurs, stepping back enough to let the small pugilist slip inside the office. It seems just as lavish as the rest of the club, really, though in a more 'classy' kind of way. Hardwood flooring with expensive red carpeting layered over it, with a mahogany desk on the opposing end acting as the centerpiece of attention. Behind the desk, there *is* a liqour cabinet, and the walls are lined with a few shelves filled with record folders and the occasional decorative book. Closer to the door, opposing a flatscreen tv, a long, cushioned dark-red couch, with...
Oh. There's a pillow and a blanket left bunched up there. Did he sleep here? As Minal's eye wanders, there's a takeout box or two left near the desk, too, and an empty bottle of whiskey fallen onto the floor.
"...Sorry," Tairyu breathes out while bringing the door to a close behind her. "I, uh... I wasn't expecting you for a few more hours..."
Minal's enthusiasm dampens at Katashi's overly subdued reaction -- though the upbeat pugilist is careful not to let that particular poison reach the tone of her voice. Who knows, he could just be tired, right? People sound like that after working double shifts. She reminds herself of these thoughts as she looks down at her left wrist -- noticing that 1400 hours is -way- too early for someone to be that sort of run down.
Frowning to herself, she listens carefully as Tairyu walks her through directions. She takes heed of the direction to step around the main entrances, taking caution to keep her proverbial head down in the process. And when she encounters the big burly security guy, she puts on her brightest smile, holding her arms out for the professional patdown she'll inevitably receive. She's unarmed, and all of the ID cards that aren't already digitized are kept in a small wallet in her shrug. No muss, no fuss...
As a path is made for her, she steps up eagerly, bowing her head in thanks to the stoic security guy. The door creaks open, and Mint leans to the side, eager to catch the first look inside...
Blink, blink, blink. Rose-painted lips purse as she takes in Katashi's disheveled appearance. It's either that, or the New Jerseyan could say what's -actually- on her mind. She passes on that option until after she steps inside, and the door closes with a quiet click. The room is scanned, quickly and efficiently with the eye of a combat tactician.
The faintest hint of a laugh precedes her comment. "Jesus, you look like shit, Katashi." And that was when Corporal Panesh got promoted to Captain Obvious.
But she's not judging, really -- just stating facts. And she's quick to knock the edge of that comment by insinuating her arm beneath his, wrapping it casually around his waist. And resting her head against his heart.
"Yeah, I know," she chirps out, a beacon of good cheer despite the blunt dose of reality from a moment prior. "I couldn't wait to see you," she notes, slipping her other arm about the yakuza's stomach, locking her arms about him in a chaste embrace.
She listens to the man's heartbeat, th-thump, th-thump. She breathes in his scent, tinged as it may be with the scent of alcohol. Her eyes dart around, once more, to the pillow and blanket, to the take-out boxes.
"Hey, uh, my bad, dawg. For... showin' up early." She gives Tairyu a tentative squeeze, before looking up to the tall man towering overhead. "But I'm here for you, okay? Unless you want me to snag s'more take-out or somethin'." The kind alternative to say she can leave him alone if he needs some more time.
But she won't let go. Because, as she looks up into those eyes, she can feel -something's- not right.
"... I know..."
The words come with a quiet sigh from the Yakuza, while his eyes flicker off to the side, averting his gaze in a brief hit of shame. Truth be told, he didn't want her to see him like this. But he couldn't exactly tell her to come back later either, really.
The tall man remains still for a moment, like that. But it's when she feels her arm sliding about his waist, feels her warmth against him while her head rests to his broad chest, he lets out a hefty exhale of air. But tension doesn't leave him, not with just htat.
"...No, it's... it's okay," he whispers, and after roughly two seconds more of delay, he finally draws his arms up to coil around her. The grip of his strong arms is a tight one -- not quite enough to hurt, but enough to signal that he has no intent whatsoever to let her slip away from him, right now.
"Stay," comes out further, the whispering voice now... shaking, faintly, while his head tilts down, as low as he can manage, just to get his nose brushing to the top of the corporal's head, into her hair. The scent of alcohol in his breath is barely there now-- noticable, perhaps, but faint. It may have been a good long while since that bottle was demolished and he just never didn't to get rid of it. He might well have a shower to use somewhere in here, too.
"I need you right now."
Tairyu may not have wanted her to see him like this -- but she did. There's a time to look tough, and that's public -- on the field of battle. But there's no need to hide behind a false facade behind closed doors, with people who are willing to face the true and honest self. She's been upfront with him about -her- insecurities, and as long as he's holding them in -- as long as he holds -her?- She's not going to let go.
"I'm here for you, Katashi."
The scent of orange and mint is strong upon the pugilist, though there is also the slight hint of coconut as well.
She has absolutely no idea what's going on.
And for now, she's okay with that.
For it's clear she's having a positive effect.
The sigh she releases is the audible equivalent of the reassuring smile on her face -- the sign that yes, she'll be here for as long as he might need it. She can still hear his heart, even over the stoic rumbling of his voice -- and she nods sideways into his chest. The heels of her plastic-enshrouded hands knurl into his side -- simple touches, nothing more.
She holds silent for a good few moments, not wanting to disturb the tranquility. Holding out hope that he might speak up -- but not wanting to force the issue, despite her earlier blurt-out.
It's... definitely something bad.
It could be anything, knowing his career path.
And for now, she's okay with that.
... though she might want to sit soon.
At least for a while, he's more than happy to stay like that, if she allows that much, too. No sound comes out, save for the telltale hints of his breathing and the thump of his heart -- that paces a bit faster now than a moment earlier.
It may well be a bit akward to be maintained for a longer time, but undoubtedly this is what he needs in that moment. Just to feel her closeness to him, to feel at least a measure of comfort from whatever has brought him to be like this, now.
"I... I'm sorry..." He mumbles eventually, and his hold loosens up on her so that she has some room to move around with. His head lifts, so that she may lift hers to look up to him and meet those fatigued eyes filled with worry. "You came all the way here to see me and I'm... I'm like this..."
His eyes close for a few seconds, and one arm is drawn fully away so that he might rub his index finger along the corner of one of them, grunting low in his throat. "I must be horrid company right now."
Minal doesn't mind. She's dealt with standing still for long periods of time without complaint -- that's the whole point of basic training.
"Don't be," she insists, without sparing the time for a second thought Though, when he does relinquish his hold on her, she uses it to scoot around to face him more directly, plastic hands hooking themselves upon his hips, as her bright hazel eyes look up at him.
"I came here to be with you," she corrects, "in whatever state of mind you might happen to be in." She smiles -- though it's not so overwhelmingly bright so as to be condescending or anything. Just enough to present the calm reassurance that she doesn't mind being a friendly shoulder to lean on.
"Well, look at it this way, Katashi -- if it bothered me, I'd just drink my misery away with one of your employees." She gives another one of those reassuring sighs. "But nah. I get bonus time with you this way. Bet you're lucky I'm so damn selfish, right?"
Her thumbs knead gently at his hips for a moment -- but with a sharp intake of breath, she scolds herself silently. And tilts her head, as she releases the hold -- clearly aiming to backpedal towards the couch.
But then she scans sideways, towards the mini-fridge instead. Looking back up to Katashi's sullen eyes, she chirps: "C'mon, let's sit down a bit. All this cranin' hurts my neck, ya big oaf." She grins, clearly meaning the comment in friendly humor. "Can I fix you something?"
"I..." As occupied as Tairyu's mind might have been with... recent events, in the end, there's still one thing Minal manages with him. And though it's subdued, and still painted over by the leftover worry within his eyes, he does still allow a small smile to subtly tug at the corner of his mouth, upon her words.
"That's a way to look at it, sure..." He mumbles thus, with a quiet sound that *might* have been a chuckle somewhere in the back of his throat.
Once their respective holds are fully released, he does trail shortly behind her, on the way to the couch. Even if he does purse his lips slightly in a (completely feigned) pout at her comment. "Ain't my fault they put growth hormones in the whiskey here."
Assuming she does, indeed, make her way for the mini-fridge, Katashi takes the freedom to turn to the couch and let himself just... *slump* down onto it with a groan, leaning his weight into the backrest enough that his head is left leaning back against it and eyes peering up at the ceiling.
"Something without alcohol," he groans out his answer. "Probably wouldn't be good for me right now. Should be soda or orange juice in there."
Well, she got a quip out of him; that's progress as far as Minal is concerned! And with that, the corporal decides to keep the levity rolling with her own flavor of sarcasm, flashing him a lopsided smirk: "Uh, yeah, -that- explains why I'm able to -almost- look everyone else here in the eye." Though she's quick to punctuate that with a sidelong wink just to make sure it's taken with the correct humor.
Twisting her wrist side to side in an idle gesture, she cracks open that mini-fridge and crouches down to take a better look. Yes, if Tairyu looks closely, he might be able to hear her slight giggle at realizing there's at least one appliance in the room shorter than her. The sounds of plastic touching bottles can be heard as she sorts through the various items therein -- and she eventually decides on the pitcher of orange juice.
"Virgin screwdriver it is," she comments wryly, rising to her feet. She closes the mini-fridge with a bump of her knee. And without too much trouble she finds two short glasses, pouring orange juice for both Katashi and herself.
She makes a point of exaggerating her strut over to Katashi with the two drinks -- the snug fit of the camisole top and the billowy fabric of her slacks were picked with his gaze in mind, after all. "Your drink, sir?" she offers, with an overly wide smile -- an overdone pantomime of a little kid -trying- to act grown-up.
She sits down next to him afterwards, making sure her leg is nice and cozy up against his. She lifts a glass for the toast -- "To... the amazing sets of abs we can visualize whenever we close our eyes!"
"Eh, or, like, /friendship/ and /comradery/ or whatever floats yer boat. Cheers!" And clink!
"I'm one of the very few locals who drink whiskey, clearly," claims Tairyu. He tries to keep up some good humor, at least, but... It all has the unfortunate overlayer of sullen paint, shown in the hoarseness of his own voice. He can't quite manage the energy required for summoning the usual gravitas in his voice.
Still, he smiles faintly when she brings the drinks over in such a manner (and his eyes wander, because *not looking* would be an insult, clearly). "I didn't realize I sat down over at Venus' club floor," he murmurs in a tone that subtly hints at some sauciness, before he accepts the drink. "Thank you very much."
The instant she's settled to the sofa and comfortable, she finds his arm draping over and along her shoulders, tugging her in closer against his side. The comfort of her closeness is still needed, afterall.
"...Abs, huh?" Brows lightly lifting upwards when he peers down to her, glass brought in closer for the clinking. "I think I can toast all those things. ...Kanpai."
Mint chirps, "Kanpai!" and then takes a sip of the completely normal orange juice. It might not be the best cocktail -- it's just juice, after all -- but for the moment, it's something she can indulge in with a clear conscience.
She leans into Tairyu's web of comfort with a peaceful sigh.
The silence lasts about... 3.6 seconds.
And then the floodgates are opened.
"Oh my god, so like... the flight was so cool. The first flight I took was super overbooked, right? So normally when this happens they send out a little notice that, like, if I give up my seat they'll give me a guaranteed seat on the next flight and a little voucher, but like, -this- time, =this= time, they texted me first thing in the morning and were like, 'Hey, hey, -hey-, if you act now we'll get you a flight on -this- plane' and I'm like, 'Sold!'"
Mint glances over to Tairyu with enthusiasm. It stands to reason, from her warm smile, that she -knows- she's babbling. And yet, maybe it's just something she's got to unburden herself from.
"So like, I -get- to the plane, and they're like, 'whoa! Thanks for helping us out of this overbooking problem that we could never have foreseen happening!' And I'm like, 'Sure, no probs, where's my free stuff!' And they're like, 'Here you go! And would you like a free upgrade to first class while we're at it?' And I'm like, 'Hells yeah! Let's do it!'"
Mint crosses her legs, enjoying in -no- way the sensation of being so close to a Tairyu who asked for her companionship. Propping her knee on Tairyu's, and her ankle on the other knee, she continues. "So yeah. That's me, just kickin' back in first class style."
She opts not to mention that she'd had a non-virgin screwdriver on that flight. That's something that goes through her head as she takes another sip.
"... But that was my day." She closes her eyes, drawing in a long breath to recover the spent breath. She openes her eyes -- but rather than force direct eye contact, she makes a point of looking at the orange juice swishing around in her glass. "So ... ... ... Long night, huh?"
It's not exactly the most usual drink for a toast, no. And it's not that Tairyu is having particular difficulties with a hangover, either.
...But after a night or so spent in indulging too much in alcohol, he's come to the conclusion that it has the exact opposite desired effect. Now is not the time to have an unclear head, no matter how much it hurts.
The Roughly three and half seconds of silent cuddling are relished in happily, too... and then broken up with a rapid blinking of green eyes down at the blabbering corporal. The surprise on the speed at which she goes off with passes quickly, however, and he just... listens, with a faint little smile. It's a good distraction, truth be told.
But then comes, first, the akward silence... and then the inevitable prompting for a response.
The smile fades away, and Tairyu's green gaze wanders off to the side with it, unable to quite even attempt to meet her own eyes directly.
"...It kind of has, yes," he rumbles, in a low whisper while he just... stares off into space, more or less.
Another akward stretch of silence passes, worth a few seconds or so, before he allows a heavy sigh to flow past his lips.
"I... Things aren't great, Minal."
%Silence is something Mint's used to. It's not an ideal -- she prefers to fill the void with random background sounds as much as she can. Silence can be valuable when she's trying to puzzle out something difficult from the ground up. Or when... she's trying to assess the full emotional state of someone she cares about.
She watches the orange juice roll around in her glass as she tilts it. Silence amplifies the sounds of micro-servo motors enabling such a technological feat. And silence allows her to hear the low tones of voice -- hoarseness tainting the graveled voice she'd come to adore.
It's not the silence she minds. It's the words that aren't giving her as much to work with that bring a small frown to her face, and a nod.
So she's okay with letting the void stay empty for a bit longer. There's a reason Tairyu... isn't talking about whatever's bothering him. And she's been around him enough to know ... that she's made statements which pretty much -urge- him to keep his silence. To keep her ignorant of the inner workings of the Yakuza engine of madness.
"I'm sorry. I'm not trying to make light of that, at all." She tells this to the glass -- at least, that's where she's looking.
Minal rests a hand atop the arm Tairyu had draped around her shoulder, squeezing firmly.
"It's one of those, 'If all you got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail' things. And the only way -I- know how to get rid of bad stuff is to talk it out."
Minal takes a sip of her drink.
She turns so she can catch a sideways glance at Tairyu's face.
She holds the drink up for demonstration.
"But hey. Screwdrivers, right?"
The corporal cracks a smarmy smile. And she gives the dorky humor a few moments to work its magic.
"If you wanna talk about it, I'm listening. I'm not gonna 'wrench' it out of you though."
If the initial word of apology didn't draw Katashi's gaze down over to look to Minal, then the squeeze from her hand does, at least. So once she's looking up over to him, she'll find his emerald eyes peering right back down to her.
"I didn't really feel like you were," he assures her, the hand settled onto her shoulder sliding smoothly up over to brush the backs of his fingers to the curve of her cheek.
"I know. But it's okay. I'm glad to just have you here, right now."
The attention brought to the... well, virgin screwdrivers does actually remind him to sip at the orange juice... though after the words that *follow* that from her almost make him cough right into the glass.
"*Ugh*!" He groans out after making sure he doesn't accidentally cause a spill, and his eyes roll in their sockets. "That was *bad*!"
Nevermind that though he may complain, there is a smile doing it's damnest to try and make it's way to his lips.
However, after a few seconds, once he's shaken off the effect of the Corporal's pun, his expression turns towards something more solemn again. "... Believe me, I... wish I could... Though..." His eyes close, while he ruminates, silently, on something particular. SOmething heavy on his mind.
"... Truth be told, Minal, I... worry you may end up in danger, because of me."
Minal makes the best of her cozy boyfriend-slash-nest, all but melting into his arm. Her cheeks flush with warmth as he brushes against her.
All the more for him to feel the pint-sized pugilist's small frame quake, as she breaks into laughter from the reception to her pun. "Hahaha! Oh, you -loved- it, don't even play!" Snickering impishly, she gives an extra 'bubble' of space around her orange juice so neither one of them can knock it over.
Her smile fades -- though not quite as quickly as Tairyu's. For she knows this... isn't just something he can surface, for whatever reason. She acknowledges his statement with an alert nod of her head. "Mm-hmm...?"
Her brow furrows as he falls silent; her lips purse as he warns her of danger. And she gives that a few moments to sink in, biting her lip to keep from blurting out her first, second, or third thoughts on the matter.
After a few seconds of working the puzzle, though, Minal just shakes her head. "It's... business. I mean, maybe not -strictly- so, but... I get it. No skin off my back."
She pauses, eyes screwing shut as she chokes back a laugh at the minor inside joke. One eye pops open as she explains, with an apologetic look: "... I can't just shut off the puns, sorry -- it's how I'm wired."
It doesn't take long for her to rturn to seriousness. "A-anyway, I understand. But I'm a big girl, Katashi, I can take care of myself. Shadaloo didn't break me, and I don't know a lot that can be more scary than those creeps."
She bumps her shoulder into him, cracking into a smile. "You're not gonna get rid of me that easily."
"No, I absolutely *hated* it!" Tairyu protests, possibly just out of principle more than anything. Even if he knows that kind of reaction will just inevitably fuel the pun machine inside Mint even further.
And that little fact is proven the instant she lets that one particular joke slip. THere's no groan from him over it this time, at least, but he does draw his hand up to the top of her head to ruffle her hair indignantly. "You're incorrigible, you know that?"
As much as he complains, that too is a pleasant distraction. It makes him think about something else for a while, at the very least.
What ends up distracting him even more than any of that is what comes when she speaks more seriously, however. She'd probably not ice that, too. The hoist of dark brows and the subtle widening of eyes, when that one word slips out.
"...I'm sorry," he whispers, with that little bump of shoulders, and his arm tightens up around her. "I didn't mean to make it seem like I might be trying to drive you away." His head tilts over with that, enough to bring his cheek to the top of her head momentarily.
"...So, is that classified information? Or can you tell me about it?"
Mint's smile just grows larger. Is she going to learn from this and never pun again? Fat chance! "Hahaha! What was your first clue?"
It doesn't hurt, of course, that she's seeing Tairyu smile -- which suggests that maybe there's not a whole lot Tairyu can actually -do- about the situation that's worked him up to the point he can't even share details with her. So when the dark-skinned Marine smiles back -- that's part of the reason why.
Though, it isn't until she answers about her time with Shadaloo that... she realizes just how serious she must have looked just then. Upon that realization her expression softens almost immediately into a slight smile, and a shaken head. "It's nothing like that, really!" She grins to shake past the issue, at any rate. "It's... not much of a story."
She leans back into Tairyu's embrace -- as it is, largely, his concern giving her the confidence to tell her story. "There was some bonkers tournament in Mexico. I got captured in the middle of it... Aaaaand Shadaloo snuck some kind of psychoreactive device into my gauntlets. Powerful tech, way beyond me. And..." She frowns, shaking her head.
"That... thing turned me into a Shadaloo asset." A plastic finger scratches at her cheek. "... And... I did a lot of stuff that shoulda got my ass thrown in prison for life. Instead, I... got stripped of command, and busted down to corporal for the rest of my career." Raising one finger, Minal flashes a mirthless smile: "The -rest- is classified."
She shifts about in her seat. And -- noticing the attention upon her, she feels her cheeks start to warm again. Her left hand is raised up, and the sensitive skin of her last two knuckles grazes along the stubble of Tairyu's chin. The ticklish prickles even elicit a snicker from the Marine.
"Past-me was just a nobody and a fuck-up, Katashi. So things can really only go up from here." She smiles wistfully, as her fingers lazily brush along his chinline.
To Tairyu's credit, he is a pretty decent listener. Even when it comes to things like this. Even when it comes to hearing that the woman held in the embrace of his arm there on the comfort of the soft office couch was... well. For lack of a better description, used in such a manner. HE might never get the exact details there, but between the lines and all that.
And it does make him frown, for a moment. Though that, too, softens up when her hand comes to explore it's way along the shape of his face. He never seemed to mind the plastic so much, but the attention those two fingers in particular bring to him are relished, and his own eyes close while her knuckles sweep along the rougher surface of the now-unshaven jawline.
"Not much of a story to tell, she says," he rumbles out, turning his head subtly to try and rub further into the touch of her hand. "I..."
No. He can't exactly say he can't imagine what that would be like, could he? It may not have been mind control, but he was put into working for the Southside Syndicate through leverage they held over him, before.
And it may be happening again now. Just for a different leverage-holder. Time will tell if it will be even worse. And he can't tell her any of it. Not right now, anyway.
His lips purse at the end of that brief redirection of his mental track before he recollects himself fully. "...I'm sorry you had to go through that," he offers, thus, and tips his head down to brush those lips to the top of her head, instead. "Only one way forward though, huh? ...Yeah, I guess."
Minal puts on a mock pout. "The part I can -talk- about is a short story, how 'bout that?"
She seems satisfied at the Yakuza's response to her touch, keeping her finger pressure consistent so he can scratch whatever itch he might need. The pugilist's eyes soften -- as she knows that he's harboring a secret to safeguard those he cares for. He's putting on a strong front, and if she can, in some way, help him find his equilibrium, help him -rest- and -relax-... well, then that might help him solve whatever problem he's struggling with.
Minal snickers as her crown welcomes a kiss from Tairyu's lips. "Hey, I take it you like the shampoo, but no grazing up there." She laughs, hoping she can evoke the same. It's always been Minal's philosophy that smiles, laughter, and dumb jokes can lift anyone out of a bad situation.
And she'd be happy to continue joking around with him for all afternoon, and all night, if that's what it takes. But, as she lifts her hand, sifting those fingers through his hair, she muses aloud, "... So, just out of curiosity, Katashi... how long has it been since you slept? Do I need to get my Knucks out for a knockout blow?" The way her cheeks dimple as she asks this suggests that she's hoping the answer to her second query is not 'yes.'
"There's still a story behind it all is all I'm saying," murmurs Tairyu, as rueful as the tone might be. "Even if it can't be told."
Of course, her joke earns a quick snort from him (even if it does end up muffled against the top of her head) before he tips his own head upwards, grunting out the single word of "Dork," with a chuckle framing it.
Then comes the question that... probably could not have been put off a whole lot longer anymore, all things considered. The Yakuza winces faintly when it comes, and he sheepishly turns his eyes... more or less anywhere that isn't her for a moment. Hey, that spot on the wall is really fascinating, isn't it? "I've slept," he claims promptly, though... it may not sound very convincing, all told.
He realizes just as much, too, and his expression falls a bit -- letting some of that fatigue show through again. "... But not very well, honestly. ... I already kind of end up just sleeping here and there because of my work under normal circumstances, but..."
"Mm-hmm." Minal can't really contest that there's certainly -more- to the story -- and she gives a non-commital frown and a defeated shrug of her shoulders there. So maybe there -is- much to tell.
Similarly, she doesn't shy away from the accusation of dorkitude. "Guilty as charged!" is her rapid-fire acknowledgment, followed shortly by a snicker that Tairyu can not only hear, but feel in the small quake rumbling through her shoulders. Perhaps laughter is the best medicine?
Though when she asks her question, and he looks away in response, he can probably also feel her tense up. And then -reach- up, as she walks her fingers back up to his chin -- giving a subtle steering prod to guide his eyes back to her own.
Regardless of whether Tairyu meets her gaze or not, she'll be barking out orders in something more akin to a drill instructor's voice. "Well, /Tairyu-san/, it's sounding to me like you're past due on sleep. I don't see you out on the front lines of a warzone, and your folks obviously have the sitch under control downstairs."
She slips sideways, tactfully disengaging herself from Katashi's arm and standing up fully. She crosses her arms and rocks her shoulders back in a show of authority -- and, being that she's -standing-, she can actually pull this off. "Kick them feet up, soldier. And make yourself comfy, 'cause in five point five seconds I'm gonna join you." Narrowing her eyes, she leans forward -- and in an imposing tone, she threatens: "... And we're gonna -nap-. Because jet lag is catchin' up to me and I -know- you can use the rest too."
Let's be honest here, even if Tairyu had much inclination to resist the guiding fingers upon his chin. His eyes might still wander, but inevitably they, too, direct themselves down to meet her hazel gaze.
And what follows... well. He may have, in fact, been expecting more of the gentle tones that the both of them had been employing (at least when she wasn't firing off some kind of pun). So when what the little soldier releases instead is an outright militant command, the usually-stoic Yakuzas eyes widen out in visible shock. "Uh..."
While he doesn't retreat, he does find himself letting his head recoiling back subtly -- maybe leaning his back against the sofa, too, at that. "... What was your old rank, again...?"
Apparently this works. Because let's be honest here, it's a serious enough matter when your girlfriend is bossing you around. And when that girlfriend also happens to be a military officer? Whoa boy. It takes exactly 5.46 seconds of Tairyu considering his options, but after that, he decides on proper obedience; setting aside the emptied glass and turning himself sidewards, so he can bring his legs to occupy the length of the couch while he scoots his body towards the opposing end.
"...I don't know if I'm the best kind of pillow for taking care of that, but I'll do my best."
When Mint had lured him back to look at her, she hadn't... exactly -meant- to bark those orders out. Certainly not -loud-. But as soon as she'd heard her own voice, and seen their -effect- on Tairyu, the slightest bit of mirth tugs her cheeks up into a smile that she is doing her damndest to -stop- from interfering with the drill instructor bit.
He'd still see signs of that repressed smile as she stands up fully. And she'd... have an answer for his exclamation as well.
"Rank doesn't matter when it's the Fire Team Leader barking out orders! Now get movin', soldier!"
... It's pretty hard to -keep- from smiling at that point, so she just gives up on that act as soon as he repositions himself as 'requested.' Also, well... the 'drill instructor' needs to crouch down to peel her own shoes off. Something she probably should have done sooner, but... well. Formalities weren't on her mind after seeing Tairyu's face.
When she rises again, all traces of the 'drill instructor' persona seem to have faded away into the more familiar Minal look. She paces to the door, setting her shoes alongside it -- and notes, "Hey, I'll be the judge of that."
Seating herself on the couch, she slips her feet up next to Tairyu's shins. And she then moves to wrap Tairyu's arm around her like a blanket, tucking herself inside for the perfect little-spoon fit.
And, after a moment of wiggling into proper comfort, she sighs contentedly. "Little lumpy. Plenty warm. Four and a half stars."
Log created on 19:14:17 04/12/2021 by Mint, and last modified on 10:13:48 04/14/2021.