Mint - Agni, God of Fire

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Description: A sushi date night between Katashi and Minal provides the perfect place setting for relaxing and chatting about current events.

It's not exactly an uncommon occurence, anymore. Granted, the entire presence of the Neo League has certainly helped build much of the excuse for a certain Marine Corporal's extended stays in Southtown-- but that excuse only lasts for so long, now. And with the processions of the League's finals, it may well be running it's last course.

Perhaps that only means a new excuse will have to be come up with.

But for now? The instant Minal Panesh is back on her feet, there's an invitation extended to her. To a certain high-grade sushi restaurant in the center of Southtown. It's... probably an edge more expensive than what she would normally frequent, but at least the man he's meeting there now isn't so crass as to reserve the place purely for the two of them. Just a table reservation in the expensive restaurant will do.

And it's right outside the restaurant proper where she finds Katashi Tairyu, with his trademark (slightly outdated) suit, waiting for her. THough he seems... a bit distracted, for some reason or another. Staring off into the distance with a faint, thoughtful frown. Enough so that despite usually being rather perceptive of his surroundings, she might very well end up calling out to him before he realizes she's approaching.

Or even sneak up on him if that's the kind of approach she wanted to take.

Stealth isn't Mint's style, unless she's got a fire team at her back and intel in front of her. And besides, it would ruin the point of the attire she'd picked out for this event: an off-the-shoulder evening dress, white in color to bring out the richness of her skin tone. The outfit is a bit daring in itself, but she has brought along a shawl of translucent fabric, trimmed in gold lace to act as a radiant counterpart. It's showy -- and it brings a giddy, euphoric smile to the Marine's face, so it was worth every penny.

So, it's fair to she wants to be noticed. Especially when she waves her prosthetic right hand high in a wave; it's made out of a matte white plastic to match the dress.

But... well. Tairyu is preoccupied, and the Marine isn't deterred by the fact that he didn't notice her first wave. So she ambles closer, still with that ineffable grin on her face.

Okay, she -does- know how to sneak. And she approaches him from an odd angle, sticking to his periphery. Waiting until she's within ready earshot before trying the wave thing again.

"Hey, handsome! Waitin' for someone?" Her lips, painted a pale shade of green, pair nicely with glittery forest green eyeshadow. If he's gonna be fancy, she sure as heck is too.

She steps past the artifice quickly, wrapping her arm around Tairyu's and holding him close. "Miss me?"


Distracted with some internal thoughts as Tairyu might have been, her efforts in getting his attention from that close are not going to go unnoticed. His distraction *does* mean that it takes a second or so for him to properly regather his focus...

But he's perhaps not entirely unhappy to have been brought to reality like this, either. For when he turns to settle his eyes upon her? Well...

After all this time, Mint would certainly know that it is not easy to render Tairyu speechless. But right now he is pretty remarkably silent.

And even when he does finally speak up - prompted by her more serious followup question - it's lead up to with a vaguely stuttery "I, uh..." while she's draping herself to the japanese man's arms.

"I did," he manages then, after his usual composure has been at least nominally rebuilt. And his head goes craning to the side with that, to level a smile down to the smaller woman. "I think even more than I realized. You look really good, Minal."

Katashi draws his opposing hand over with that, to briefly squeeze on the arm she has wrapped about his own.

"Sorry if I was... a little out of it there. Something on my mind I want to run by you. ..Shall we, though? Don't wanna make them think we forgot about the reservation."

While Katashi's response might not win any poetry awards, it's clear from Minal's smile that she's happy to give him bonus points for his sincerity. She gives his arm a careful squeeze as he closes his hand over hers. And when a question is asked, she nods amiably. "Hmm, something good, I hope?"

Minal is happy to allow herself to be led into the fancy restaurant, through doors of wooden slats and shoji screens. Subdued lighting makes for a perfectly romantic experience, as the couple is welcomed at the lobby, then led through the large room, full of hustle-and-bustle, before finding a small passage to the side. There, an impressive wall of windows welcomes them, and beyond them, the glittering lights of Southtown Harbor. The room is filled with smaller tables, about half of them occupied with similarly fancily-dressed people, and a wide sushi bar for the chefs to do their work.

Mint smiles as she takes her seat, flashing a toothy grin up at her charming dinner companion. "Y'know, I'd seen -signs- for this place, but didn't ever think I'd find out what it looked like inside. Pretty upscale!"

As the host departs, her hands fold atop one another. Not one moment later, a server arrives with hot towels for the two to clean their hands - though the server pales when he realizes Mint's hands are plastic. She offers a small chuckle, responding in Japanese, "<It's fine, thank you!>" And cheerfully goes through the motions of cleaning her own hands.

Once the two are alone again, Mint leans forward with an eager grin; content that, for now, the two have a moment all to themselves.

"I don't know for certain if it's 'good' *or* 'bad'." Which probably isn't really a particularly reassuring answer from Tairyu, all told. But he does add in, with another light squeeze to her hand, "But it's not urgent... I think we're allowed to enjoy ourselves for a while, first."

Implication that whatever he has in mind is at least somewhat serious. And a distraction from the much more romantic atomosphere he has ended up providing for her tonight.

Once the table has been reached and the two seperate from each other in favor of settling down to opposing seats, he gives a wry smile to his companion in the space between the departure of the host and the arrival of the server. "Yes, well... Hole in the wall places might be kind of more our style, but I thought it would be nice to do something fancier with you for once."

And as for the little moment of fumbling akwardness on part of the server who brings the hot towels over? Katashi does have the decency to *not* say anything on it, even if he does level both the server and Mint herself with a faintly knowing look.

There might have been something else he was intending to say, but Minal has a way of distracting his thoughts. Even with just the smallest things. That smile of hers is one that consistently throws his thoughts for a loop for a few seconds -- and it's the same now with her grin and forward lean. So whatever else was in his mind? Promtly pushed aside while his hands fold together over the table, and he lets himself lean forward a bit, too, as much as the table in between the two allows them to.


Mint grew up on the streets. If someone doesn't say it's 'good,' then she's accustomed to expecting that it's not, in fact, 'good.' But since Tairyu's waving it off, she figures she can do so too.

Besides. There's a very much not a hole-in-the-wall restaurant to enjoy. It took a while for the New Jersey native to get used to the idea of uncooked fish, but once she has, well, there's no turning back.

Minal suppresses a giggle at the audaciously simple greeting. "Hi," she echoes, with a twinkle in her eye. The silence that follows is... unusual, but suggests she might be a little disarmed by the honesty. "You... look great, as always!" she blurts out, once her brain finally decides on a forward trajectory. Though, as soon as she starts, the engine grinds to a dead stop again.

Mint knurls one thumb over the other, sucking in her breath. And, with a small cluck of her tongue, starts again.

"Like, it's weird, I have like -all- these things to tell you, but now I'm like running in place." One hand extends towards Tairyu: "Hot date. Sweet venue." She then points to her head. "Blank mind. How's that even work, right?"

And then she breaks into a contagious smile. "Oh, so maybe I'll just start. Lyraelle. Just a bitch, or -queen- bitch?"

Tairyu's own smile tends to be a rare one in public-- but again, Mint has a way with him. And her behaviour now does a good work of bringing it twitching subtly to his lips, first, and then growing even further while she speaks.

"You are absolutely adorable sometimes, you know that?" Tairyu points out with a faint chuckle of amusement. He drifts for a moment, while the server comes to hand out menus for the both of them, before leaving them to their own devices for the time being again.

"You're not used to this kind of thing, I'm guessing? Don't worry about it, I..." His eyes drift down from her, drawing the menu handed to him open, emerald gaze slowly turning to scanning the contents. "...I'm not either, really. I never really told you, but I... I never really 'dated', before you."

The reading of the menu goes on hold when she brings up a certain 'demon' girl, however, and his eyes flick up to look to the Marine past his dark brows.

"Sounds about right," he says with a low snort, shaking his head before lifting it up more upright, letting the menu be forgotten for a while longer there. "She is... the only way I can come up with it politely is that she is an... unique personality. I didn't have a chance to look at the match, unfortunately, but just judging from your expression, she tried to get a rise out of you?"

Eyes promptly lid right after that question, and he adds in, quickly, "And you wouldn't have any of it?"

Mint smiles back in the flickering, faux-candlelight, a very slight blush on her cheeks. Normally she'd have -something- to say, but the compliment hits her in just the right sort of way that the flustered Marine finds herself speechless. Her gaze droops towards Tairyu's hands, deciding on a faint snicker. "Awwh."

Though, as Tairyu hides himself behind his menu, Panesh seems to earn her confidence back. "Oh? Dang, I'd have figured you'd had tons of dates by now. It makes sense though! You give yourself so wholeheartedly into everything you do."

She picks up her menu, browsing through it as her comment on Lady Darkheart lands true. "... Yeah, that's pretty close to it. She was trash talking like it was intern night down at the burn ward, and like, seriously, honey? I'm from Jersey." She rolls her eyes, reliving the moment with a sigh.

"Oh, it was all fun and games till she got serious. She, uh..." Minal shrugs faintly, resting her finger on a few lines of the menu. "I did my best. It wasn't anywhere close." She gives a mirthless smile. "And I'm over it."

Without missing a beat, she turns the menu so Tairyu can see it. "So, like, I want a miso soup, and like, one of each thing in this column." For the most part, she's singling out eight nigiri, and five of them are marked with three chili peppers of spiciness.

Shifting gears, she leans close with a glint in her eyes. "... and... I wanna try the Godzilla roll and the God of Fire roll."
Five out of five chili peppers.

"Did I really seem like that much of a casanova?" Asks Tairyu with a suspicious narrowing of his eyes back to Minal's way. "... Even if I'd had much time and focus for things like that, honestly, the company I kept a lot of the time wasn't really... the type you take out on dates, I guess."

He listens to her recounting the story - or the broad strokes of it anyhow - while sipping on some of the water that the server left behind for them to keep themselves refreshed with until the actual food is served. He watches her carefully-- almost like he's trying to gauge how she actually feels of every word she gives.

...As far as he can tell, though, she seems sincere. No hidden meanings behind anything. After all the people he's had to deal with since taking over the Aizawa-gumi who have ulterior motives and hidden intents behind every word, it almost feels weird talking with someone like Minal again. Not in a bad way, mind you-- even if it is a necessity of the job he *despises* dishonesty like that.

"She's strong," is all Tairyu has to say about all that, since-- well, shes over it. No need to linger on it.

And for that matter, even if he did have something to say about it, she sure isn't giving him a chance to His eyes are thus brought to following along while she indicates the sushi, and--


Slooooowly, his eyes lift up from the menu, upon her final statement of desires, to set his gaze directly on hers.

"...Were it any other person, I would say 'you definitely dont want to do that'. But I'm going to at least ask, just in case: ARe you *sure*?"

Mint shrugs in response, grinning up a storm. A Casanova? "I'unno. I didn't have a lot of time to really feel you out, t'be honest." Considering the two went straight from a Neo Fight to sharing a small hotel room together.

There's a lot Mint -could- say about her fight with Lyraelle. About how she felt outclassed in just about every way, not to mention -totally- freaked out about the way that weird little tail made her feel. But, no, it's very easy to be sincere when you don't use a lot of words.

Still, she is a little curious. And she saves that thought for later.

Mint looks at Katashi as if he'd grown a second head. "Am I sure? Of course I'm sure. With all the spicy stuff you've seen me eat, you think I can't handle it?" It's not a -real- snapback -- just one of her typical defanged rebuttals that Tairyu is undoubtedly familiar with by that point. "My mom blows through ghost peppers like they were green peppers. If it's even a seven of ten on her meter I'll be happy."

Confidently, she sets her menu on the table, lacing her bionic fingers together and leaning forward. "Eh. She was fake-moaning about how you never called her back, tryin' to get me to buckle. Not gonna lie, it was pretty sad." She snickers impishly. "Was she the one who made a mess in the bar the other day?"

Even with Mint's assurances, and his understanding that she would probably be *much* more capable with spicy food than him, Katashi seems vaguely concerned regardless.

"If you're sure..." He relents at least, snapping the menu closed in his hand. "I'll keep the fire department on speed dial just in case, though, alright? I can't have you immmolated from the inside now can I?"

He doesn't try to wave the server back for their orders right away, though. He's not terribly eager to speed this up or anything. The more time he gets with her the better. "She always stroke me as the type who didn't know what to do with people who don't outright adore her," he offers as his take on the Matter Lyraelle. "Or... what is it the kids these days say? 'Simp' for her? Since she's got that whole social media thing going on."

And as for the mess in the bar? The owner of the aforementioned bar... wrinkles his nose. "... To be fair, I *did* prepare for that possibility when I lined up the place as a venue for the League. But yeah, that was the match before yours. Though judging from what you're telling me, I'm not entirely... sure if that wasn't deliberate on her part."

A shrug, and "Tch, whatever..." are how Mint brushes off the comment. "If I'm on fire you're just gonna have to smother it out." She offers a tart little smile.

Minal listens as Tairyu talks more about the succubus, nodding enthusiastically as he gives his own take on her. "Yeah, that's pretty accurate. There's a few who -can- keep that shit together, and those're the real ones to watch out for. Actin' like the big tough "bad girl" is kinda her thing. When she's really just showin' she's damaged on the inside."

As for the possibility that Lyraelle trashed his place on purpose? "What, did you do somethin' to piss her off? Bet you she just does it for the ratings. Has more than enough money than she knows what to do with, and wrecking places gets a lot more people talkin' than just visiting nice-nice."

Mint reaches for her water glass, taking a sip. "She's just a frickin' child, really. I had way more fun tusslin' with the other finalists. Roland."

Her eyes cast down to the glass of water in her hand. In particular, the ice cubes tumbling around. "... And that big Finnish guy. Tarmo, I think his name was?"

"Do I now?" Some mischief plays in the Yakuza's eyes, and even he can't help but let his teeth flash out briefly in an utterly *wicked* smile sent back to her. "I'll have to make sure to be thorough with that then..." Good thing there's no one in immediate earshot here.

"It's entirely possible," he suggests once she's given her estimation on her -- though he doesn't do it without a shrug and an admittance of, "There is still a non-zero chance that she's still vindictive over me not buying what she was selling way back when. Both our takes on her kind of... seem to line up with that too. I might be just overthinking it though."

His own glass is left alone for now, and he leans a bit closer towards her, over the table. Eyes particularly settling on her glass, while the ice cubes clink against each other on the surface of the water. "I saw that one. It was a pretty good fight." He keeps his gaze on her glass for a few seconds more -- before meaningfully guiding it up to her face.

"And I saw what happened with your hands, too."

Minal still seems to be in a fairly good mood about Lyraelle. The battle's over, and, well, it wasn't -her- bar that got trashed. She's betting Tairyu has insurance for that, anyway.

She asks without thinking: "Oh, what was she selling?" Either she's deaf to the undertone of what he was saying, or she just... isn't clear on what deal was being made. Either way, she doesn't seem particularly concerned, after the flattery he's been beaming her way thus far in the evening.

When she senses his eyes lifting back to her from the glass of water, though, she lifts her gaze to match. "Mm. Yeah... it was close. Photo finish and all that." She gives an uneasy laugh -- both her matches with Tarmo were very, -very- close and could have gone either way, she feels.

Her nervousness is eclipsed by the mention of what happened to her hands. And that's what causes her smile to fade. "... Ah, did you?" She sets the glass down, pulling her hands back, and clasping her right in her left. "What, uh... what -happened-, from your point of view? 'Cause." Minal winces. "I'm still not really sure."

"Absolutely nothing I was interested in," Tairyu answers first-- blunt as a hammer. But, perhaps considering that answer to be potentially inadequate, he lets out a low grunt and straightens up in his posture some-- leaned back to his seat and with arms crossing over his chest. "Honestly? I think she was looking for a new underling or something. I wasn't... Quite in the same position back then as I am now."

The reaction that he ends up prompting from her with the pointed comment on her hands sees Katashi narrowing his eyes slightly. This might very well already confirm his suspicions here.

"It didn't look like anything unusual from the outset. At least not for people in our kinds of circles... Chi takes all kinds of forms afterall, no? However..."

His fingers drum along his opposing forearm, and for those few seconds of pregnant silence, the expression on his face takes on a much more concerned look.

"...But you don't really work with chi, do you? ...Do you remember what you saw happening with my flames during the finals?"

Minal seems to be okay with a second refusal; after all, there are things that she'd already told Katashi that she did -not- need him to explain. But when he follows up with the idea of becoming an underling of Lyraelle's, Mint actually breaks into a fit of snickering. "Hahaha, she offered -me- a job too, can you believe that? Writing joke material for her or something..."

Having said that, she hesitates for a moment. Wouldn't... -that- get her closer to the Midnight Channel? Wouldn't -that- help her mission? The thought is played off with a shake of her head, and quietly filed for later.

Though, when Tairyu starts talking about her icy touch, Mint is a bit more... concerned. Since she'd had trouble putting it into words, which is a sign of just how confusing the event -was-. "Y-yeah, I don't... It isn't something I can just do on command. I thought it was Tarmo hitting me, really. Makes sense, y'know, guy from up north country makes things colder." She shrugs noncommittally.

On thinking back to the match, her expression grows pensive. "Oh. Where it was out of your control, a bit, yeah. Flames a different color." She scratches her temple with a hand, her stole shifting upon her shoulders in the process. "So you think it's like that? But it's -cold- for me, it's not... hot. Like what was burning you."

She leans forward, coiling her hands about her elbows. Just talking about it makes a chill run through her once more.

Tairyu's right brow slooooowly arches upwards. "...Was she actually serious about that, or was that supposed to be another dig at you?" He asks, looking thoughtful for a moment afterwards with a wrinkle of his nose. "I'm not sure which one should be considered more insulting..."

As amusing as it might be to keep shittalking Lyraelle between the two of them, there is that... other matter. And Katashi's expression grows all the more concerned himself, watching those little behavioural cues in the woman while she speaks on it all. All the way to that telltale signs of a shiver, an uncomfortable chill when she leans in to the table.

His further thoughts on their seemingly-shared issue is pushed away for just a moment longer. For the sake of him leaning forward in turn, and reaching his hand over across the table. Palm up, in silent offer of some physical comfort-- a refuge from the chill.

"It might be," he murmurs, in a low rumble meant just for her -- not that there's much in the way of eavesdroppers in a restaurant like this in the first place. "But we'll figure it out. Alright?"

"I'unno. From the way she treats people just in general, her pay's gotta be shit anyway. Hard pass." Mint sticks out her tongue at the mere thought.

Really, though... Mint's a bit more worried about the development of this... 'chi' thing, whatever it is. She knows it's been something of an issue for Tairyu, but it was always... distant. Detached. But now that she's experienced it in the middle of one of her own fights, it's got her more concerned.

She isn't sure what sort of response she expected from Tairyu. Words, probably? But when she sees his hand raised up, welcoming hers...

She reaches out and places a slightly chilled plastic hand in his. She scoffs lightly. "This is good for warming me up on the inside, so thanks."

Still. She -is- smiling, so that's a step up. And she looks back at Katashi with brighter eyes, and a slight cant to her head. "Have you talked with anyone about it? The fire bit. Like, it it a disease, or sickness? Do you think it could be, like, something to do with all the crap at Mount Fuji a few years back? Stuff didn't act so weird before that business."

A light squeeze. It's a gentle one -- and even after all this time, Katashi's touch to her hand when she's wearing the 'casual model' of her prosthetics is perhaps a bit too careful. He isn't assuming that it's going to break or anything, but... Instinct takes over, regardless.

"At least as good as the peppers you're ordering?"

Maybe she's having a bit of an effect on him, too. He didn't quip like that so much before he met her.

But on a more serious note-- "Not really. I don't know anyone who is... proficient in the particular set of skills that would help in lookiing into that," he explains, while his thumb idly rubs itself along the more fleshy part of her hand. "... Someone from NOL did offer to have their medical department take a look, but... Mmmh. In my kind of circles there's... not exactly a lot of trust towards that particular organization, you know?"

"Mmm..." Minal considers that question, looking down at her thumb as it presses into Tairyu's. And, belatedly, brings her left hand forward so that she can feel a bit more of her boyfriend's warmth. Lifting her eyes back to katashi, she concludes with a chuckle, "... I'd say better. Lasts longer."

Though, on the matter of feeling unnaturally hot and/or cold, Minal seems a bit less confident. She nods slowly, listening. Her eyebrows droop when the NOL is mentioned, but it's clear her distrust of them isn't quite as pronounced as Tairyu's. "Huh, well... yeah. I don't know much about 'em, they're fine as long as we're on the same side an' all. But, hm. I could probably ask around, send off a few emails. You said it's... chi, right?"

And after not too much longer, a server comes around to take orders. Mint doesn't seem put out over the interruption, putting a cheerful facade back on for the server as she repeats her order.

Katashi's eyes lid slightly with her answer to the first question. It's just enough to give a vaguely meaningful look-- but not something he will give a verbal response to anymore. There's been enough of a mood whiplash here as is.

"... I can't claim I have dealt with them in any real capacity either," he admits, for the matter NOL, his frown turning a smidge more thoughtful, and with it his eyes drift down from her face, too, to idly settle on their held hands instead. "My old man did not... hold a high opinion on them, however. He never elaborated much, but in all the time I knew him, he never had opinions like that without a good reason."

The arrival of the server urges him to draw his hand away from Minal's for now (not that he looks the least bit ashamed for having been caught holding hands with her). And for his part, his order more or less involves a sampling of most of the different brands of sushi on the menu... except for the ones with spice. He'll work on his taste on those with Minal some other time.

Once the orders are all taken up, Minal's companion deliberately waits long enough for the server to be out of earshot again before he tells her, with a nod of his head: "That... might help. Someone over on your end might know someone who knows about these things a bit more, at the very least. And as far as I can tell, it... Mmmh. It's felt the same as my own 'chi' yeah, but... different. Intrusive."

Minal is perfectly happy sharing her time with Katashi, whether alone or with other people in such a setting. If she were even the least bit shy, well, she wouldn't be wearing such a fancy dress. Or holding his hand as securely as she does.

And while she may not have a strong opinion on the Librarium, she's receptive to the suggestion that they might not be as much a force for good as she thinks the US military is. Painted lips purse in understanding. She knows how much old man Aizuki had to share with Katashi, after all -- and the old man did a great job. "Ah, that's good enough for me, heh." Not that she has -too- much reason to seek out the NOL, herself.

She grins as she catches the pattern to Tairyu's sushi selections. And, as if by reading his mind, she notes quietly, "Oh, we'll get you used to the hotter stuff one day or another." She winks at Katashi with a renewed grin.

And, in another good sign, she keeps that grin, even as Katashi tells about how this weird chi is different than his own. "Well, if it sounds familiar to you, then that makes some sense. Maybe it's just something I'll get used to too. Like, not having a right hand. Or the idea of eatin' raw fish. Or having a wonderful boyfriend who'll be goin' head-to-head with me on the spicy tuna in a year or so."

Here, too, she sticks out the tip of her tongue, teasingly.

Tairyu's eyes are quick to narrow at the Marine sticking her tongue out at him. Both over that gesture, and the words it happens tob e punctuating. "... I give you absolutely no promises on that endeavour," he rumbles, wincing just a little bit at the thought of even trying to be in the *vicinity* of the spice Minal hoovers up. "I might be made of a dragon's flames sometimes but I don't put those into my *mouth*."

Not that he's entirely opposed to the idea of trying these things out, mind you.

"That being said..."

And just as quickly, he's switching right back to a more serious tone, concern playing over his eyes while he regards Minal, even while she's still grinning at him.

"Did it hurt, when it happened?"

Mint raises a bionic finger -- though, like him, her initial thought is caught before it makes its way out the door. "Hey, I'm just sayin', spice is the door to a brand new world in cooking. Once you can handle the spice, you'll be ready for my parents' home cookin'." She closes that thought with a wink."

She.. seems a bit more perplexed on the question of whether it hurt, though. "... I mean, -everything- was starting to hurt at that point in the fight. It started off cold, and like..." She surrounds her left hand in a 'shell' around her right, leaving a gap of about 3 centimeters. "... my first sign something was weird was when the -inside- of my KNUCK felt cold. Like, that never happens. But then..."

She frowns. Shaking her head. "It's hard to explain. My nerves are fucked up there all the time just to get the system working." She sets her prosthetic on the table and pushes a small release switch, and the plastic hinges open to show a series of gold-plated contacts lined up on a plate embedded high up on her right forearm.

"I guess I mean to say, I'm used to a -little- signal noise. It was super weird feeling /cold/, since I'm used to -ignoring- those nerve signals when I'm fighting."

She points at the contacts. "These are all pressure inputs. Not a single one is wired for heat or pain."

"No offense, but I kind of fear to think how hot the food served on your family table is if you have a taste like this...." Yes, that's the part he's concerned about rather than the notion of meeting Mint's parents to begin with.

A slight scooting with his hair guides Tairyu closer still, so he can try and lean close enough to get a good look at her hand. Some people might be put off with the sight of her hand opening up, but not Katashi. If anything, it's kind of intriguing, even if his technical knowledge is... much more limited in comparison to the engineer who designed her own prosthetics.

"So you probably didn't get feedback the same way as another person might have..." He muses, nose scrunching up briefly while he considers this information. "With me... WHenever that happened, it... Definitely hurt. At worst it's burnt at my skin. Which is... Not something that should ever happen."

Mint laughs, scratching the back of her head. "Pain from my arms, even above the elbow, is just something I learned to tune out. You've heard of phantom pains, right? It's not good or bad, just a part of life."

Mint wiggles her fingers, lighting off a display of small micro-LEDs associated with her synapse connections, amidst the soft sound of servos whirring and clicking.

Minal adds, "I could wire something up for it, but getting this crap to happen on -command- is the tricky part, I guess, huh?"

Mint closes up her arm. She's noticed that people from other tables were starting to eavesdrop -- but rather than show any kind of alarm, she just stays quiet for a moment, in hopes they go back to minding their own business out of boredom.

"I'm not gonna lie, my parents like their food super hot. They went -easy- on us as kids. But once we grew out of mac-and-cheese and got to eat the grown-up India-style food, uh..." She laughs softly. "You learn to adapt quickly at the Panesh household."

"Phantom pain..." Tairyu repeats the words, clicking his tongue to punctuate them-- like it would speed up the process of drawing information from his memory, somehow. "That's what they call it when someone who has lost a part of their body gets a sensation like that part is still there, right?"

For whatever it's worth, he doesn't seem to grow veyr self-conscious either over the realization that people had, in fact, been looking while Minal more or less was exposing the innards of her arm to him, beyond a brief sharp look sent to some middle-aged couple two tables over.

"...Yeah. The unpredictability is part of the problem there, I would say. ... If you know someone over in your organization who could take a look at you with chi in mind specifically, that could potentially be helpful." Of course, he's not going to suggest that they have *him* be looked at by this potential person. There might be some choice words said if Minal was to haul a Yakuza over to some military research center or whatever.

The story of Panesh Family's culinary habits is... not particularly reassuring for Tairyu, judging from the renewed wince in his expression. "It... sounds to me like you're going to have to train with milder spicy food, first."

"That's it, yeah." Mint smiles; it's nice that Katashi is able to spare her from explaining some terms. It takes the edge off of the other things -- like unwittingly becoming the center of the room's attention, for instance. She knows she won't ever be 'normal' again, but it pleases her to know that it doesn't really bother at least -one- person in the room.

"Mm. Yeah, the past few months we've been working with a lot of sensory specialists. Not sure which of 'em would be able to help -me-, really, but I also know they wouldn't pass at the chance to jolt me with electric shocks for 'science.'" She puts that last word in finger quotes, grinning. And -- no. The less Tairyu has to be involved with her work, the better.

The corporal laughs when Tairyu suggests training with milder food. "Oh, of course. We gotta build your tolerance up. The good thing is, we can try right here tonight if you want! Just start off with a tiny little bit of wasabi."

She makes a gesture as if pinching off a tiny little bit, as she says. "Wasabi knocks out the fishy taste. Some chefs will go ahead and add some wasabi just for that reason. So you can try my spicy tuna and see how it compares with your regular tuna, yeah?"

Mint sits up a bit more straight in her chair at this point. She can get a little animated when she speaks, at times! "So spice can knock out the less favorable flavors like fishiness. But also, in my case I just crave the spiciness itself. But you won't see me just take a whole bite of horseradish, that's... somethin' Mom might do. So I want the taste, just not all at once, y'know? It's like... you eat tonkotsu ramen a lot, right? But all the good stuff comes out of pig bones, and you wouldn't just sit there gnawing on 'em all day, right? You want that rich taste just... balanced out with the rest of the meal." She leans back, proudly. "That's all it is with spiciness for me!"

"Uh..." If there was any doubt left of Minal's ability to regularly break the stoic appearance Katashi usually maintains, his expression turning into a twisted mix of both concern and confusion in this instant likely throws the rest of it out the window now, too. "Shock therapy was, uh... n-not exactly what I had in mind..." He even stuttered!

For just a moment, he might actually be genuinely concerned that she might actually go get some lab rat to do some questionable experiments with her. She... she wouldn't actually though, right? Right?

"W-well, anyway... We can probably try to touch base with both our contacts and see about sharing information we gather if we manage to gather any..."

That issue can probably be shelved for now. He might still have thoughts on the matter, but Minal's good mood is too infectious for him to linger too much. And besides, there's... clearly another, more immediate battle that he has to contend with now.

The battle of spice.

"... I don't have anything against the 'fishy taste', you know?" He points out, some wariness in his tone over this whole concept. But the comparison she makes to his favorite kind of ramen does earn an understanding nod (the brief mention of her mom taking bites of horseradish nonwithstanding).

"I understand that concept, at the very least... Even if I feel like usually I end up tasting very little *but* the spice if I eat something strong. Maybe that's just because my tongue isn't used to it?"

Mint breaks into snickers. The idea that her lab rats would take out their vengeance on her is amusing -- and Tairyu's take on the matter just makes it moreso. That cute little stutter! "Ahahaha, they'd still need me to sign their timesheets, so they'll go easy!"

She considers letting Katashi guess as to whether she's serious or not, but the fact that he -was- stammering was a point of concern. "Ah, like, I wouldn't worry about it much, okay? No one's gonna really -hurt- me. Too much paperwork." She may be kidding on that. May.

Spice is the spice of life. Whoever said it was variety wasn't raised in the Panesh household. "Oh. Well, I just mean, like... some people -are- against it?" She laughs weakly. "I mean, you grew up in a country where it's totes normal to eat fish every day..." She laughs softly, only a little wary for making sweeping generalizations.

"Aaaanyway, like, yeah, you -need- to start small, get used to it. Spice -is- a mild poison, y'know? Your immune system flags spice as an urgent priority, since that's how we're wired -- 'Oh no, even the tiniest taste of spice could mean the rest of the food is gonna kill you!' You gotta build up a resistance, till your immune system can just decide it's only a minor threat, like, 'Oh, fine, it's just that stuff.'"

Mint clenches her hands into little fists. She's fired up about the idea of showing Tairyu a great new world in cuisine! "So yeah! You've probably already tasted -some- wasabi in your sushi anyway, they put a little dab on the back, yeah?" She lays her right hand on top of her left, then lifts her hand off, to suggest -where- the dot of wasabi would be. "So it's best to 'train' with stuff where you're already kinda familiar. The devil you already know, yeah?"

"Well... that's good...?" He does still seem *vaguely* worried. Just a little bit. If only because of the potential notion that the amount of paperwork required is what would keep human experimentation off the table. Oh well.

"I mean, a little..." Tairyu allows, on the subject of wasabi. He's definitely had some-- but not in any kind of large amounts with anything, so he's still *wary*. Who'd have thought the badass Yakuza's undoing would be some food?

"I'll take a bit of wasabi to go with nigiri at the very least... I'm not going anywhere near those war crimes you ordered, though, just so you know." He's positive his tongue will actually end up melting if he attempted to devour any of those right now.

But now he does give a mildly amused look to the Corporal, even with the corner of his mouth twitching subtly upwards. "So... Looking to get me introduced to your folks, are you?"

Panesh's eyes half-lid at the pushback she's getting from Tairyu. Her voice drops low as she mumbles back, "Now Katashi, what's gotten into you? You didn't have a problem with experimentation -last- night." Leave it to Mint to dodge the -real- questions. Though, in this case, she sticks out the tip of her tongue to show she's joking. And follows up with a more sincere statement: "It's nothing that'll hurt me. Seriously. Okay?"

Now, as hypothetical pain thresholds are concerned, it's easier for her to speak with authority on the matter of wasabi and her choice of sushi. To which she breaks into a laugh more like her usual. "Oh, going with the plausible deniability route, I see." She curls knuckles beneath her chin. "The spicy tuna's really not -that- bad, as intensity goes. That's about as far as I'd want you to try, Godzilla's way off the table. If we hit the palate -too- hard it takes longer to acclimate, and that's no fun."

Though when Tairyu calls her out on the mention of her parents, the Marine's confidence level wavers. Her cheeks flush dark, as she bares her teeth, air hissing between the tiny gaps. "Ahh.... uh... well..."

She sits up straight, tapping her index fingers together with a small 'clack' of plastic. "Yeah, in a year or so, I said?" The corporal pointedly glances elsewhere. "It's not even gonna be worth it if you can't taste their cooking..."

But... even then, she purses her lips, lost in thought for a moment. And she snaps her gaze back to Tairyu. ".. Okay, so -maybe- I do." Even now, exaggerating for comic effect is just part of her DNA. "I think they'd like you. 'specially how you do your best to keep lookin' out for me."

Oh, look, Minal found another way to break Katashi's composure for distractive purposes. Her answer to his concerns quickly has him letting out an akward cough, with his fist brought up to his mouth just in time to at least try to muffle it up, lest he attract some looks from the other restaurant-goers. Is... is that just a hint of red on his cheeks, too. "I mean... That's *different*..."

He's adequately pacified by the more sincere words she has to offer right after.

And as for *her* reaction to the brief teasing question regarding her parents? After the rises she managed to get out of him already today, he can't help but look just a *little* satisfied while he watches her flush and avert her gaze, even leaning back a bit with his arms folding just below his ribcage.

But, even if he is satisfied by the reaction he got from her, the words he has to offer to her are entirely sincere: "I think I might enjoy that." So it's not off the table as far as he is concerned, then.

"...Although... a year might be a good time to wait on that. Sounds about how long it will take for me to build up resistance..."

Minal does so enjoy watching Katashi squirm on the hook, confident that if anyone actually -did- hear her remark, the legendary Japanese courtesy of a restaurant such as this would keep folks from saying anything about it.

Though, yes. It would seem turnabout is fair play, as Mint's cheeks still aren't fully back to normal. She nods with a muted smile: "Well, if you want to visit sooner, I mean. We can go to McDonald's or something." Beat. "Or, y'know, a -fancy- place up in Ridgewood. Anything in between!"

Those index fingers stay pressed together -- a self-reminder to stay focused on her current train of thought. "I just love that you're a part of my life, now, Katashi. You've been the missing piece of the puzzle, and I wanna keep -doin- stuff for you. With you."

Her gaze flicks away from Tairyu, to her water glass, and then back to him.

And then she takes a sip of her water. Hard to keep that focus when she is also, oddly, thirsty all of a sudden.

"Mmm, I think it would be disrespectful towards your family to not be able to accept what they have to offer." The argument from Tairyu comes with a slight shake of his head, before he leans back in towards the table -- bright, emerald eyes setting to meet Minal's gaze rather intently.

"I would hope you are doing it all for yourself, too," he tells her, in a low whisper -- and then, after roughly two seconds of silence, he... actually gets just a hint of shyness on his own part, and his eyes drift downwards, suddenly not quite able to directly maintain eye contact. Good thing shes having similar difficulties, then, so that it's not one-sided!

"...But otherwise, I-- I do feel the same."

His Old Man might have left with him a great deal of wisdom to lead his life with, but apparently talking directly about things like *feelings* ends up, in the end, being a much more difficult affair than he expected.

How fortunate, then, that a server comes along with the timing of the century to lay down platters on the table in front of them. That'll provide at least enough of a delay for him to not have to deal with copping up to the mushy feelings he's admitting to for a few seconds longer! He is prompt to give words of gratitude for the waiter, and--

Yes. He does give Minal's food a *look*. Like he's halfway expecting flames to spontaniously blaze into being on them.

Mint smiles warmly. It is, in fact, possible for to respond positively -without- a smart-aleck remark -- as it is now, when she shares Tairyu's sentiments one hundred percent. "Yes! And I'm glad for that, of course!" The blush fades, but the emotion is no less real.

Feelings, nothing more than-- Oh good, sushi's here! The South Asian woman's eyes light up at the arrival of the orders, some of which really -do- look to be glowing, with bright colors as a definitive marker for 'yo, this stuff is hot!' One roll really -does- look like the Godzilla of the plate -- twice the diameter of the rest, stuffed full of spicy tuna, cucumber, and cream cheese, topped with a generous carapace of avocado, eel sauce, and bright red hot sauce. The God of Fire roll, in contrast, is a little smaller: -something- spicy wrapped up with cucumbers wrapped in rice and topped with salmon and a 'volcanic' plume including orange (spicy) mayo, a jalapeno pepper, and a generous helping of spicy roe.

Mint rubs her hands together as if warming herself up, nodding enthusiastically to both the server and to Tairyu! Taking chopsticks in hand -- something else that causes a notion of surprise -- she thanks the server with an "Itadakimaaaas~"

She leaves the two marquee rolls alone for now, readying a small plate with a helping of soy sauce. She plucks one of the simple spicy tuna rolls up with her chopsticks, douses it in soy, smears it with light green wasabi paste, and samples a bite.

And she watches Tairyu with an expectant grin!

"... You are *absolutely* sure that that stuff isn't radioactive?" Tairyu asks, with a hint of suspicion to his voice that is reinforced by the narrowing of his eyes directed at the spiciest of all the rolls waiting to be devoured by her.

Whatever her answer to that (not entirely serious) question is, he *still* looks a bit wary. But it doesn't stop him from taking hold of chopsticks for himself. He's *just* about to be content with dipping his nigiri roll in soy sauce and popping it into his mouth--

But she's watching him. So he can't really get away with that, can he?

So he relents. And reaches over with the chopsticks to dip the roll to get a light coating of wasabi. He hesitates visibly, though -- but with a quick look sent back to her, he does eventually make the plunge to popping it into his mouth.


He tries to keep a straight face. He puts his best damn effort into it. But he can't stop the red color from spreading along his features, while he shakes his head slightly.

"Th-..." He hisses past his teeth, after managing to swallow the 'treat' down. "That's... pretty okay..." Is he sweating? He is!

Mint arches an eyebrow. "Now, I never said anything about -that-..." She clenches her left fist into a fist. "I mean, geez, I ordered the Godzilla Roll, if it's not 100% authentic I'm just gonna leave."

There's a 100% chance that she's being sarcastic here, even though her face is giving zero indications otherwise. But it would be a moot point, because when Katashi veers the roll away from her mouth, and swings it towards the wasabi, her face melts into a proud smile. She even lifts her left ring finger to her eye -- she's tearing up, either in a literal or a figurative sense.

"Wow, Katashi! Way to go!" She indicates another one of Tairyu's rolls with the back end of her chopsticks: "Now, chase it down with one of the other fish rolls. Water doesn't help as much as you think it would."

And then Mint bares her teeth, her smile growing wider than it has all night. "Haha, man. It stings, right? It's a good burn though, opens the sinuses up!" She sniffs, in commisseration with the burn she knows has to be working through his system.

And then she reaches over for the 'radioactive' roll. The big one, with eight slices, swaddled up in avocado. She picks off a slice, dips it in soy sauce, and sets it on the plate. "Don't feel like you need to follow me," she notes with a sincere tone. "One step at a time. But, uh, wish me luck?" She flashes a brief smile, knowing what she's in for.

Her chopsticks knock off a small chunk of wasabi. She prods it into the center of the slice of Godzilla roll. And with a snap of her jaws, she bites the slice right in half.

Her eyes close. And she breathes in the spice, sweet and savory tastes melding together.

She nods with satisfaction afterwards, humming with a cheerful, content tone.

And then she blows sharply into her left hand. "Oooooh. There's that kick. Oh man. Oh man. It's... it's..."

She stops moving, freezing in place. The words fall dead in the air, as she stares at the center of the table, motionless.

One second. Two. Three. Four.

She looks up at Tairyu, and cracks a smile, as she relaxes the rest of her body. "... It's great! But wait, like, what did you -think- was gonna happen?" It's only -now- that she slips into her usual joking demeanor, right on the verge of laughter.

"S-...sure..." Katashi just barely manages to hiss out coherently enough past his teeth -- and already, he's snapping his chopsticks out to catch another bite of fish in following Mint's advice. Trying to soak up the spice with it doesn't help terribly much for someone as unused to spice proper like him, sadly. "B-by... some defintion of good..." He's even left fanning the lower half of his head with his hand, out of some instinctive desire for cooling off -- nevermind that such a thing isn't going to be helpful in any way or form with spice burning through the tastebuds and sinuses.

But he goes silent and still while he watches her take the Roll of Death. He has half the mind to even ask her one more time if she's sure about this, but in the end he says quiet. She assured him she's good with this kind of stuff, right?

And attentively he watches -- even if his eyes do narrow the instant he notices that motion of her jaw that suggests teeth snapping through the 'treat'.


And then she *stops*. It's not a long span of time, but it's enough for Tairyu to suddenly straighten up in his seat and call out "Hey--?!"

And then the facade from her breaks. Tairyu himself is left frozen in that briefly-tensed posture, before he finally lets it go with a defeated slump of shoulders. "...You bastard," he grumbles while she's holding back the fits of laughter. "You almost gave me a heart attack there."

The dam Mint had built up to keep her laughter contained finally cracks; the Marine pitches forward with one hand over her mouth, snickering contagiously. "Oh my god, your -face- just now..."

It's a few seconds before she's able to rein that back to something resembling her usual conversational composure. "Oh man, whew... I told you I'd be fine, ya goof! It's like... -hot-, sure? But it's not even in the top ten I've ever tried so far as -spiciness- goes."

She chews it around for a bit -- and then notes with her chopsticks: "The avocado here, and the cream cheese here, kinda work to take the heat off. So like, if you're feeling super adventurous, you could even try this one, it's a perfect example of the spicy flavor really bringing out the richness of the not-spicy. Very good!"

She pauses a beat, eyebrows lowering. "Though, like, I wouldn't do more than two spicy rolls for the night. Too much too fast and you might get an allergy, okay?"

"You are having way too much fun with this..." Tairyu complains with a low huff flowing past his lips to punctuate the statement with before he jams another nigiri roll into his hungering mouth. He might not be exactly pouting, but the bite *might* have held just a little bit of indignation to it.

", I think I'm okay for now," he politely rejects the notion of further adventurousness. "I am still feeling the burn from the last one."

So, the dipping of fish is restricted strictly to soy sauce for the time being, while the japanese man's eyes focus his further curiousity on the south asian woman.

"Putting the spice and even the chi problems aside... What are you thinking of doing now, now that the League is coming to a close? Going to focus on work in your lab, or you have some other project in mind?"

It's true. Mint thinks Katashi's concern is endearing in the long run, but also incredibly hilarious in the short term. And it's with that in mind that her expression softens and she looks genuinely apoletic for a moment. "Aww, okay. I'll make it up to you later." And a wink from puts a bow on -that- particular gigglefit.

When Tairyu asserts that he's done with their little experiment for now, Mint continues a soft, reassuring smile. "Yeah, just take it easy! I definitely want you to be able to enjoy the food here. It's some top-shelf stuff, fresh ingredients, just excellent all the way around..." She grabs another roll of spicy tuna. "The tuna is -en pointe-," she comments with a hearty nod of approval. "I can't remember, did you say you'd eaten here before?"

Though, the subject of the Neo League comes up -- to which Mint shrugs faintly. "I'll be around for next season, for sure! But I'm going to keep signing up for that Midnight Channel thing. I wanna push myself harder against non-humans, see if we can't close some gaps in our tactics. I know Lyraelle doesn't like... totally -hate- me, so there's that, y'know?"

"Make it up t-...?" Tairyu starts, only to end up letting out another brief, akward cough in the very second she directs that wink at him. Well, at least this time he can make the excuse that the spice is still getting to his throat, right? Right?

Tairyu, for his part, is perfectly happy to enjoy the high-quality food brought for them. But while he clearly *does* appreciate good food, his attention isn't taken away by it to the point he can't consider Mint's answer to his question with a curious quirk of his brow.

"... I had half the mind to try that for the same reason," he confesses. "But... Despite all the media attention I've gotten since my stint with the League and the reconstruction efforts of Southtown... I actually do not enjoy being put in front of a camera in any capacity. That being said, though..." His yees narrow, slowly-- and something fierce lights up in the emerald orbs briefly. "If she tries any bullshit, you'll give me a call, yeah?"

Mint's boyfriend-tormenting antics have yet to come to an end. She sets her chopsticks and raises her thumbs and index fingers perpendicular to each other, making a rectangular frame in front of her face. "What's that, you don't like being in front of the camera?" It's a callback to another special feature of her bespoke prosthetics, but... it's not one she's going to utilize at the moment. There's no click, or beep, or any noise whatsoever -- just another wink. "You make such a great subject though..." she notes, moving her cropping fingers from a landscape to a portrait frame.

With a wistful sigh, she lowers her fingers after the joke runs its course. "But, yeah. You spend so much time thinking about stuff, I can see how you might feel like you're bein' judged. But I think that's part of why people like watching you -- because they're not in your head."

She rearms herself with chopsticks, snaring up one slice of the God of Fire roll. "To the audience, you look like a total badass. You do know that, right?"

She grins, at the suggestion that she might -not- call Tairyu. "Of course I'd give you a call! But I'm not goin' in over my head. Or in any sort of one-on-one, middle-of-nowhere deals. So it shouldn't be -that- big a worry."

Offhandedly, she bites the God of Fire roll in half.

Her eyes go wide. And after another few chews...

"Whoo whoo whoooo, -whew- that one is hot..."

Eyes lid at the mimicing of a camera. "Yours is the exception," he rumbles, just a faint suggestiveness in the tone of his voice. He lets it linger in the air, while he pointedly snaps a roll of sushi between chopsticks, and then betwixt his teeth.

"It's not about... feeling judgement," he offers in an effort to start some kind of further explanation to his feeling on the matter of being in front of cameras. "Someone in my line of work... we have to be used to judging looks and thoughts from people around us. ... And on the flipside, we also have to look strong. Both to people relying on us, and people who are against us. It's a... different kind of show we have to put on."

The very tips of chopsticks catch another roll, and he holds it up ahead of him. Not going in for the bite, merely turning it over -- like somehow, that bundle of seaweed, rice and fish might have the answer to all the mysteries of the universe in it.

"...But something like that, going in front of massive audiences for entertainment like I'm an exhibition piece? That... I have no taste for." And only after saying that, does he take a bite out of the roll.

And then he gets to witness her taking some more spicy sushi into her mouth. His eyes widen first, and then-- he *does* actually look smug for just a few seconds. "Found a worthy opponent, there?"

Mint has a few more seconds worth of funny faces in response to the heat. "It... it was a bit unexpected! But they found some really hot chiles and peppers for this one. /Zow./" She reaches for the water she said was not that useful, and gives it a good long draw to wash the heat away. "Mark my words, I -will- finish though. That was great!"

Though, for the moment, she's chosen to attack one of the more neutral pieces as she considers a more thoughtful response to Tairyu's exhibition piece concerns. She holds the selected roll up in her chopsticks, weighing it out as she talks her way through her thought: "Is it, like, something you changed your mind on lately? Because it seemed like it served a purpose. You brought lots of attention to Southtown, and lots of donations came in. But Southtown's not totally fixed up yet, so... would you want to give it another try later?"

"I'll be rooting for you," Tairyu promises, with just the briefest flash of the whites of his teeth. If she's going to have more faces like that to show with the continued devouring of her choice of sushi, he's definitely going to look forward to seeing the rest of that culinary battle.

And for her question... he shrugs. "... That was... a pleasant, but somewhat unexpected side-effect," he says, shaking his head. "I don't think I ever told you, but I did not really attend the League last season by my own choice in the first place. By the time the chain keeping me to it was gone, the points for the finals were already getting tallied up. At that point, it did not feel right to leave things unfinished anymore, no matter how much I might have disliked that kind of 'show'. ...And indeed, that's still, in my mind, different from the kind of 'show' that comes from... fundraising events, marketing for charity funds, things like that. But now that you ask..."

The half-devoured roll is given a long, scowling look again. "... I do not know. Fights, for me, are... either a highy personal matter, or a matter of duty."

It seems that, for at least a second roll, Mint will be avoiding that God of Fire roll. In some regards, she's taking her own advice -- sticking with rolls that aren't -as- spicy so that she can cool off. So, no funny faces... yet.

The Marine seems a little perplexed, as -- for as long as she's known him, Katashi has been the one in charge. But as becomes clear, that may not have always been the case. And she's explicitly asked to -not- be made aware of those details, lest... well, -someone- get involved in interviewing her on said details.

"Mm. So in this case it was more of your 'duty' to see it through, huh?" At first, she seems like she might let that topic go, but then she raises her chopsticks once again, as if plucking that idea out of mid-air. "Fighting's pretty much the -biggest- marketing event of all though, isn't it? If you're not going to get involved in fights yourself, though... would you be up for sponsoring other up-and-coming fighters, y'know, like say Juliet or someone?"

She eyes that God of Fire. And reaches out once more, ensnaring slice number two. Then she looks back at Tairyu: "Like, you could even get a stable of good fighters, with good morals and ideals you support. They could do outreach -for- you."

She takes in a deep breath, eyes crossing at the God of Fire roll. She takes a chomp. And -holds- it, eyes closed for a moment, determined to face the fire and pressure head-on, to the point that it might look as if steam would come rushing out from her ears.

She doesn't die in the process. But she does finally release her breath, her irises small from the exertion. "Whew..."

What Mint has to say does catch Tairyu's curiousity. He does have the time to finally pop the roll he had seemingly seeked answers out of into his mouth in the time between, but after that idea is brought to the surface? He seems to even forget about the entire *concept* of eating, for a moment.

To take other fighters under his wing, to help them in the competetive, sanctioned circuits?

"... Perhaps," he allows, setting his chopsticks now even, instead twining the fingers of his hands together, propped up by his elbows on the table, with his brows furrowed in thought. "I never thought about that. It's not... too different from what I do in my *other* job. Just more... Forward-facing, I suppose. I don't really *enjoy* delegation at all, but... Sometimes it is the better way than trying to do everything yourself, I suppose."

That thought lingers. It lingers now, and will likely linger even after the two seperate again for the time being.

And it lingers enough that he *almost* misses her indulging in the God of Fire. He realizes what happened just after she'd taken the bite -- soon enough for him to lift his head from behind the cover of his entwined hands, and turn his attention fully on her with *great* interest.

He doesnt say anything, though. He lets her work through it on her own-- and only after that breath is released, he lets amusement creep to his face, to glitter in his eyes and tug at the corners of his lips.

"You're sure I shouldn't call the fire department?"

Mint fans herself with her free hand. She's... a little heated, but it only shows in the creases of half-lidded eyes. "Whew. Uh... no, no need for that yet!" She flashes a plucky grin in reply.

Mint is happy to see that Tairyu is grinning. It's a bit of an improvement from the way he looked when she first encountered him. "Mm, yeah, I'm just thinking, you have all this star power and momentum, it'd be a shame to put it to waste. -Especially- if you didn't start Neo League and such with that in mind. This way, y'know, force for good and all that, right?" She flexes a bicep, happy to put a positive spin on the moment, if nothing else.

She lets the silence take over, as she ferries a few of the less fiery rolls over to her staging plate, swishing them around in soy sauce -- and skipping the wasabi for the moment. But then she looks up, curious.

"So you looked lost in thought when I arrived. Did... we already talk over what was on your mind?"

"Alright, if you say so... But I'm still keeping count of just where exactly the fire extinguisher is, just so you know."

Amusement is put aside, however, when Mint says... a very particular thing about Tairyu. One particular thing that seems to mildly confuse him, or at the very least not quite able to take it at face value. "... You really think I'm that much of a... 'star'?" He asks, with a faintly disbelieving tone. "Being known in... my kind of professional circles is just part of the particular job description, but I never thought to... gather more general fame or anything."

Nevermind that the nickname Aizawa-gumi handed to him somehow ended up spreading even outside of the criminal underside of Southtown after the previous Neo League season.

Perhaps the realization that his companion is working through her plates rather quickly in comparison to him, he does now take to working more of his own ordered rolls to close and easy access, too -- and consequently, snatching them rapidly for his hungering maw. It wouldnt do to make your date wait for the end of the dinner.

"I was thinking about the haywire chi," he clarifies for her, in answer to her question, after a quick swallowing of fish. "...I still kind of am. It's... a concern. But we don't need to focus on that any more here today... Probably. Still something to follow on later."

Mint wrinkles her nose at the thought of having a fire extinguisher emptied out onto her. She twitches briefly, edging back away from the center of the table in disgust. "Okay, just a word of advice, the stuff that spews out of fire extinguishers tastes super nasty. Don't ask me how I know this."

Though, even then, she cracks a smile. Self-deprecating humor is both easy and fun in small doses.

Though, at Tairyu's suggestion that he's -not- a star, Minal tilts her head to the side, a disbelieving expression on her face. "Katashi, you -won- -Neo League- and hosted for a whole season. Thousands of people were shouting your name, did you just not hear that part in the finals?" Mint chuckles, drawing her water glass close for a sip. "And you put Daniel Jack in his place, I mean, you got a lil' bit of heat from those creepy-assed Ladykillers too. Which, gosh, that's a -good- thing."

Still, she doesn't press the issue too much further. She shrugs -- which has a quite different look in an off-the-shoulder dress than her usual casual attire. "I'm not sayin' you gotta pursue a career in the lights, but like, you got goals. Everyone's got fifteen minutes of fame, you can either use 'em or lose 'em." She takes another sip, and then rests her glass back on the table.

Though, she does not miss that her boyfriend is doubling down on rolls -- which is what gave the New Jerseyan the opportunity to ramble in the first place. And she moves some rolls onto her staging plate in preparation for catching up. "Oh. That's all, mm?" She gives a brief chuckle -- acknowledging that it -was- a weighty subject, even as she makes as if to blow it off. "Yeah. Only so much we can do for now."

And now, she tilts her eyes towards Katashi's plate. "So, uh... did we have after-dinner plans?"

"Too late," Tairyu snipes back quickly, eyes narrowing with no small measure of suspicion sent back at the Corporal. "I *have* to know how you know this, now."

Trying to make up for the lost ground by doubling down on the eating pace is not something that can be sustained for very long, so the man is forced to slowing down in rather short order again, while she talks on the notions of fame -- and how they happen to pertain to him, in particular. "Well, I mean..." He murmurs, with an uncharacteristically sheepish scratch given to the side of his cheek with one finger. "I may have been much more focused on the fight itself. But... You're right, though. When it comes down to it, making use of those fifteen minutes is better than ignoring it... and even more so than just selfishly soaking in it."

The matter of their shared cases of mysterious chi occurences is allowed to pass for now-- like she said, there's not much they can do about that matter right here and now. The question she presents while eyeing his plate, however...

"Hmm... Nothing specific," he offers first, even as his eyelids droop down slightly, green eyes turned up to peer towards her with a mischievous shade past his brows. "If you're not in a hurry anywhere, I could always see about some more... experimentation."

Apparently *this time* he doesn't seem to worry about being potentially overheard.

Log created on 15:55:20 09/02/2021 by Mint, and last modified on 10:54:33 09/11/2021.