Description: Ken hunts down the better member of the Howard family to offer them some new excitement in their life!
Speed, power, class.
The Porsche 911 GT3 RS is one of the most valuable cars in the world. Superiour handling, smooth aero dynamic lines, an engine that is strong enough to teach Grandma how to suck eggs, but quiet enough to make a vow of silence seem like a screaming match. Enthusiests want this car. Collectors need this car...
But Ken Masters? He goes through them like crazy.
His newest 911 -- a light powder blue with golden streaks slowly pulls to a stop infront of Taiyo High, displacing a good number of students who are filing out of the gates to head on to the rest of the world to do whatever it is good kids do these days after school. Of course, as there is now an expensive imported car sitting out in front of the school gates, the traffic seems to have crawled to a stand still.
As the students surround the car (either to gawk at it, or just simply move around it), the drivers side window rolls down half-way, for the master of Masters to beckon forth one of the students.
"Hey, you. Can I ask you a question? Can you tell me where to find Rock Howard?"
While Ken may be internationally famous and one of Fighting Monthly's Top 10 Hottest Fighters in the World, it seems he's no match for the Taiyo High Rock Howard Fan Club, who immediatly swirl around the car, surrounding it in a wave of skirts, homework, and insanity. The sheer volume of the rabid fan club members is enough to drive most men insane, but after a few minutes, Ken is finally able to catch a clue...
Eventually, the porsche is able to break away, onward to The Split Bean.
Ken startled the Witch(es)!
Flee, while you--... Okay, they're not quite so horrible, although the female horde of admirers certainly does handle personal information with the hilarious disregard like a bull in a shop of expensive, hand-painted china. Chattering, nattering, flitting about as hummingbirds in order to see, once the porsche cuts away from the gaggle, one girl has the sense to ask, "Rock isn't in trouble, is he?" A moment of fretting commences. What to do?
Adjusting her spectacles, the president of the Rock Howard fanclub is the voice of reason. "Ladies, that was Mister Ken Masters."
Oooooooooooooooooh, goes the group altogether, perfectly in sync.
"Want to follow him?"
"I dunno, I don't think Rock-chan would appreciate that."
Torn, but deciding that Rock's privacy is their first priority (now), they disperse after making a solemn vow to quiz him about it the next morning. The ward of the Legendary Wild Wolf may not be able to hold a candle to Ken's international fame, but here, he reigns as the Angel of Taiyo High, much to his chagrin.
At the Spilt Bean, the sought after son of Geese Howard currently organizes a display at Sugiwara's behest. Sleeves rolled to his elbows, Rock swaps out matcha macaron gateau with multiple little cakes of chocolate ganache. The silver cart next to him holds even more sugary decadence, and his stomach is not in the least bit pleased as he's able to smell the fresh blueberries and other fruits constantly.
Wearing an expression of grim determination, he must soldier on, warring with the desire to ask his employer for a break this early in the shift. It's really his own fault for skipping lunch... "Dammit," Rock still complains softly, reaching back for the next lot.
Just as he's in the midst of adjusting a tray of Strawberry Napoleons to exact specifications, a powder blue 911 rolls up. More motorcycle enthusiast than car, Rock can tell that he'll never have that much disposable cash in his entire life, so get the hell back to work. There are no questions why it's here, who the owner is... Sugiwara was a famous patissier in the 1970s, and now that he's retired, visits from the rich aren't exactly uncommon.
The sun beats down on that blonde head while air conditioning keeps his back cool. Placing the last of pastries out to tempt those window shopping, he rolls the cart away. Rock leaves the macarons on a baking tray, packing up the rest for staff to take home and enjoy. This is what he does, this is his job, and while the perks aren't much and the Howard scion typically just lets Terry have everything, it's the sentiment that counts. That's why the boy is the senior employee at a place that his father would no doubt consider beneath him, because it's not terrible.
Not to mention, he probably should've been fired during an incident last year, but wasn't...
Might have something to do with the situation in Southtown around then, but shh. Don't jinx him.
As Ken parks his car directly outside the shop, he looks into the store from the street, watching Rock from afar (it seems, at this moment in time, Ken and the ard of Legendary Wild Wolf are in sync, as the younger man may be truly appreciated from a distance). The car door opens, and the famed blonde Ansatsuken user steps out. His hands idly smooth out the creases on his clothes -- a simple dark gray silk shirt with a deep crimson vest. Matching gray trousers complete the outfit.
It doesn't take Ken long to enter the store, his nose being assaulted instantly by the sugary sweets and gently roasted coffee. It's a wonderful thing, and Ken takes a few moments to truly savor it. Once the moment is over however, his eyes fall upon Rock Howard as he busily moves the desert into the refrigerated display case. Now's the time to strike, and the older blonde moves to the register, casually waiting to see just how long it will take Rock to notice him, and possibly stop salivating over the delicious treats that're currently being handled.
Who's drooling? Him, Rock Howard? No way, never. His stomach may grumble, but the teen shows remarkable restraint. A drink of water also helps. He emerges from the bakery kitchen where Sugiwara slaves over sweet creations, bottle in hand...
As if to spite him, that's when the bells sing sharply at the entrance to herald the Ansatsuken fighter while a coworker arrives in tandem. Frozen halfway to his chapped lips, Rock must lower the wannabe carafe out of sight. He cuts a bow, greeting clearly and politely in Japanese, irregardless of the fact that this particular customer looks American. It's only customary. The other staffer echoes him before skirting around Ken to disappear into the break room.
Rock seals the bottle with a cap and places it under the cash register. In deep crimson eyes, recognition starts to bloom upon further examination of the new customer, who idles to enjoy the smells all around the room. The girl joins her fellow employee within a minute, loudly pointing out, "Hey, that's Masters, isn't it?" Her head turns to the handsome boy for confirmation.
"This is the Spilt Bean. How may we help you?" Instead of discussing Ken when he's standing RIGHT THERE, Rock shakes the cobwebs from his brain, immediately professional. He lists off drink specials and the fresh pastries that have neat hand-written labels in katakana. His measured cadence possesses a dour, broody quality, and the lack of lines suggest the kid doesn't smile often. Explain to me why he's so popular, again.
Anya, the complete polar opposite to Rock, bounces forward to the counter. "Oooo, so it's your car parked outside?" Her sigh is breathless. She always crushes on older men, which is a godsend to the Howard scion. Being around women is uncomfortable...
Worse when they hail him as the heartthrob of Taiyo High.
At least Sugiwara won't hire any of his fans.
Wondering if this should just be left up to the one keenest to serve, to walk off when Masters has yet to reply would be beyond rude. Rock shifts a little bit, his blue apron rippling against the button-down shirt of white. Give him another moment and he'll just awkward slip away. Fingers close over the wrist of the left arm, to wait. Folding arms is against the rules.
"I'll take an espresso with..." Ken glances at the case, idly stroking his chin as if he were having difficulty deciding on what he'd like to snack on. "Whatever pastry you think I may enjoy, Mr. Howard." Ken's eyes narrow slightly as a mischievious grin replaces the casual smile that adorns his face.
As Anya starts to inquire about his car, the blonde Ansatsuken practicioner fires up the charm, quickly delivering a smile to the young woman that would melt most women (and a good number of men!) into a pile of goo, ready to do whatever it is he wants. "It is, and its a favorite of mine. However.."
Ken once more turns his attention to Rock, quickly giving the young Howard a casual wink, speaking once more to Anya. "If it wouldn't be too much trouble miss, if you could, would you mind inquiring with your manager if I could possibly borrow Mr. Howard here for just a few minutes? I promise it won't take too much time..."
The charm(smarm) is kicked up to 11 as Ken frowns slightly, a low pout taking the place of the heart melting smile. The man knows just what he's doing, and if he's playing his cards right, Anya should be wrapped around his finger and ready to do just whatever it is he wants.
As much as the girl itches to climb over the cash register to fall head over heels into Ken's smile, his charms mean squat when he wants /NOTHING/ to do with her. The disinterest is so apparent from the word go, Anya pouts an incredible, exaggerated pout, turning big brown eyes to Rock. 'Why is it always you?' says the accusatory glare.
Poor guy, chastised just for existing. For being Rock Howard. The teen's cheeks redden with embarrassment, but he acquiesces to the request, "I'll do my best to find something suitable."
Masters gets his espresso and a nicely decorated bag containing two of the macaron gateau that Rock had set aside earlier. While he's sealing the paper fold with a sticker bearing the Spilt Bean's insignia, the one-sided conversation alights on his ears. Unable to keep a sour expression at bay, the young heartthrob has the sense to hide his grimace.
Anya, who had hoped to gain a foothold somewhere in the interaction, pales. What's that this pretty much stranger wants? She worries against her lower lip. "I could, but..."
This apprehension doesn't have anything to do with Ken, not particularly; it stems from the last time someone asked around for Rock. You know, before all of Southtown went to hell. The kid wound up in a coma for a few days, and they don't even know why.
Well, Anya doesn't. Sugiwara does.
Speaking of the elderly patissier, he emerges from the bakery covered in flour. Old eyes have not yet spied the customer on the other side of the counter. "Rock, were you not taking those home?"
"No, not these, Mister Sugiwara. They're your top sellers." A few taps upon the computer screen, the price comes to 1,000en. It would be a kindness to give the matcha macarons to Ken for free, but no doubt the Ansatsuken fighter can afford it and greater luxuries besides. Rock slides forward the tray for bills and change, before turning to his employer to allow his coworker to handle the rest of the transaction. By this point, she's not sure if she should be happy or concerned.
Moments later, outside and apronless, Rock can now appear as unprofessional as he wants... which isn't really. After further messing up his disheveled blonde locks, he just folds his arms. Thin brows draw together over those crimson eyes, lips pursed in confusion and suspicion in equal measure. The Howard scion doesn't exactly think Masters came here looking for a street fight, but you never know, right? "..." The boy's real talkative.
While Rock does his best impression of his namesake, Ken merely smiles at the youth, sipping lightly at the espresso. True, he can afford the luxuries that most others cannot, but that doesn't mean he's really apt to flout it around, unless the situation calls for it. This time however, it doesn't.
The bill is paid, and Ken moves to follow the now apronless Rock Howard out the door, carefully watching the boy to try and get a foot hold on just where his head currently is.
"Mister Howard, I'm pretty positive you know exactly who I am, but as this is the first time we've officially met.."
Ken extends out his right hand to the young Howard, ready to grip the boy's hand firmly, truly showing that there is some respect for him even if he still is a kid.
"Allow me to fully introduce myself. I'm Ken Masters, and I was hoping that I would be able to discuss a business opportunity with you, as I believe you would be a great fit when your schedule allows for it."
Wait, you say that Ken isn't inclined to flaunt his monetary status, but what's the cost of a Porsche 911 GT3 RS? According to Google, over $200,000, and that's just to start. Then we need to consider how many Masters has burned through...
I'm reluctant to believe such tosh, and Rock is in agreement with me. He'd never be able to contain a scoff of skepticism if the millionaire (or is it billionaire?) claimed humble spending.
Off to the side, tucked away between the buildings, is his own frivolous purchase: a Honda CBR954RR Fireblade. Years were spent scrimping and saving, foregoing all but the necessities to purchase the bike, and it's Rock's pride and joy. Turns out, the kid is guilty of extravagant spending, too... Just not so frequently.
Since it was Ken who asked him to step out of the shop, it is only natural that he begins the dialogue. Rock nods his blonde head slowly to show that he's indeed familiar with the world famous fighter, the penetrating stare never leaving the older man's face, but his gesture startles the boy. It's always strange to him, whenever he's treated like an equal, or with deference. Blame his father and his upbringing. Respect was earned, never given.
After a moment of hesitation, the Howard scion accepts. His returned grip is strong, communicating the confidence that he tries to emulate in every waking moment. Introducing himself in turn seems redundant when already addressed by both parts of his name, however something doesn't sit well with him, "Rock is fine. Not a fan of formalities."
Gee, wonder why!
Once again, in nervous repetition, he brushes back his fringe. Confusion wins out over the earlier mistrust. "A... business opportunity?" Rock echoes the phrase like the concept was foreign to him. As foreign as he is, as foreign as Ken. The American teen shifts a bit on the spot, trying to find something to do with himself. He offers a seat at an outdoor table, plunking down in the one opposite.
"I'm not against hearing you out or anything, but... I don't think I'm a good fit for something like that, sorry." Whatever he imagines, it's probably far from the truth in store for him. He's of the mind that Ken's plans are better left to those with a sense of 'business' and what it entails, when conducted honestly. Not that Rock is cut out for the illegal side of that coin, either. Yet another reason he was disowned.
There's that broody, dour look on his attractive face. I guess it's almost an impression of his namesake, yeah.
"Oh, if I even thought that for a moment, I would have never even bothered to come Rock." Ken steps back from Rock for a few moments, sizing him up, only to sit down at the proffered chair. The blonde Ansatsuken user allows a few moments of silence to pass, just enough to unsettle a person, before leaning forward to stare directly at the younger man.
"So. Rock. Your showing in the last King of Fighters was spectacular. You may not really notice it, but you've got a good number of fans around the world now. I ran into your.. uh.. I guess I would call it 'fan club..'"
The blond man even makes air-quotes as he says those words.
"So here's the thing. I'm not trying to upset your life, and take you on a whirlwind tour of each continent, as if I were some Daddy Warbucks who is adopting his very own orphan. There's far to many people who do that crap. What I'm after is this. I've got some surprises in store for the Neo League. Then there is the gameshow... and the new talk show.. Okay look. I have a lot going on. I just would like to ask, that every once in a while, you would consider being a guest commentator on a couple of the shows. Nothing too extravagent..."
And so the conversation, as it begins, gets weirder by the minute. Ken leans forward, the broody teenager bristling. Whatever for, Rock would like to know that himself...
His answer comes when the praise washes over him like cold water, chilling to the bone. Working one mandible against its brother, he grimaces, thin lips barely parted and revealing rows of white teeth. Rock exhales forcefully, loud and unintentional, his nostrils flaring. He doesn't raise his voice to argue, or point out each spectacular loss that cost them the tournament. The blonde boy says nothing at all.
In his mind, being a loser should've cost him those 'fans', were they sensible. You don't cheer for the losing team.
Before he dissolves into a stewing pile, where further down that road lies the blame Howard's heaped on himself ever since Southtown was under siege, Masters carries on without missing a beat. Crimson eyes flash in multiple blinks, the dark lashes fluttering. The young prodigy falls for an obvious manipulation tactic, hook, line, and sinker. Rock, a guest commentator?
Just picture it...
A kid very serious about fighting, who devours all the information he can find about the well-known combatants around the world.
He's memorized their moves...
Rock can describe them in technical detail...
But that handsome face of the Angel of Taiyo High wouldn't be able to save his flat, boring delivery.
Both hands lift to defend, because the idea is so terrible that Rock can't help but want to swat it out of the air. "You're really talking to the wrong person, Ken. Seriously." The Howard scion musses his hair further, sunlight glinting off the strands of flax. "Er, I can introduce you to Terry, he's got the charisma and knows how keep a crowd entertained."
"Rock. If I wanted Terry Bogard, I'd have spent all the time having my people hunt him down, and try to get him into a location where I could have a chance to talk with him."
The older blonde obviously already had thought about Terry Bogard, but dealing with people who are apt to just up and vanish one day out of nowhere are hell on business. It's bad enough that one of the people he'd love for one of these off the wall ventures is just like Terry in that regard, and it'd cost him a good amount of money to just track down his Ansatsuken brother.
"Rock. You're right about the charisma that Terry has, but. Can you tell me that he'd be as reliable as like, you? Someone who would show up? Someone who actually would commit to it? Look. If you don't want to, then it's really up to you and I'll say no more about the matter."
Ken slowly rises from the table, reaching into his jacket to pull out a card, which he then slides towards the Howard scion.
"However, I'm sure that there is a part of you that would love to do it, and you're just afraid to take the plunge. If you change your mind Rock, give me a call. The offer's going to always remain open for you. Sometimes, the only way to grow is to dive headfirst into the unknown."
Hey, for all he knew, Rock could've been the gateway. Hunted down by Ken Masters because he's a means by which Terry can be contacted. It's happened before. The American teen is reliable and hardly prone to wandering the world like his hobo of a legal guardian, as was stated. Any extended invitations thereafter would only be out of courtesy.
That's not the case today; the fact takes its sweet time to sink in. Longer than the Ansatsuken fighter prefers to wait, I assume. His attractive face a blank slate, Rock picks up the card from the table, gently holding it between his thumb and forefinger. Comtemplating, this is where they will part ways.
Does Ken want his show and venture to fail?
He's right, though. If all Rock ever did was shut out any experience that came knocking at his door, he would never grow.
"I'll think about it." Doubts remain, whether this is necessary to development or not. Unable to decide, at least an answer isn't expected immediately. The ward of the Legendary Wild Wolf offers his hand so Ken can leave on amicable terms. "No promises," Rock adds, to avoid having another obligation heaped on his plate that could conflict with everything else.
Once his visitor has been seen off, the business contact number finds a home in Rock's back pocket. Perhaps it will be forgotten...
Yeah, no. The nail was hit on the head. He's too dependable for that.
Log created on 01:31:16 05/31/2018 by Ken Masters, and last modified on 04:45:30 07/05/2018.