Hanako walked few blocks while holding onto her nose. Her clothing was long ruined by the dirt as well as her own blood that was dripping from her nostrils. She was desperately trying to stop it from bleeding, but with no success. How did she get herself in such a mess in the first place? Today was like any other, and she was rented out by one of her regular clients. Everything seemed to go fine, just like always between them. However, it would appear as if she said something that displeased the man. She wasn’t sure what it was, but she was quick to understand that he was unhappy with her words — once his fist made a contact with her face that is. At first she felt the pain of the impact itself, and then she felt what she assumed was shock. Truly, she didn’t know what pushed the man to such lengths and she wasn’t able to find out since he wasn’t listening. No matter how much she tried to reason with him, he didn’t stop until her nose was bleeding, and her cheek was swollen.
A sigh escaped her as she continued walking home. She thought about calling her adoptive father Osamu, but for some reason she didn’t want to bother him. Why would she not call him, when her nose was possibly smashed and bleeding? Why would she not call him when she really could use a ride about now? Why would she not call him the minute it started raining and she was soaking wet? She didn’t know. Perhaps it was her not wanting to rely on anyone. Maybe it was the fact that she never felt close to the man and just didn’t want to ask him for any favors. It was a mystery even to her, just like many things about herself. As she was about to wipe the excess blood dripping down her face, she noticed a taxi driving beside her. Then she saw a man calling out to her from said taxi with an offer. She stared at him with her cold and distant eyes while remaining silent. She was hesitant to agreeing to his offer, since she was quite untrusting in general but even more so now that she was beaten earlier. However, she started to feel numb in certain places, and ultimately decided to get in the car carefully closing the doors behind her.
She was quiet for a while, not being particularly ecstatic about interacting with another person. Although on her dates she appeared friendly and sociable, she was the total opposite of that in reality. However, after settling down for few moments she finally forced herself to speak. “…do you usually pick up random girls from the street like that?” she asked in a monotone voice before wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. “Either way… thank you. How much for the ride?” she asked while rubbing her arms for some warmth. She really was starting to feel quite cold now.
Eiji watched the female quietly as she got into the taxi and sat down in the passenger seat next to him. Around the same time, realization hit him like a brick. What am I doing? That was totally weird and creepy! He wanted to hit himself for not thinking this through. But since she got in without complaint and accepted his offer willingly... it couldn’t be that bad right? After all, he really wanted to help her, since she appeared to be in trouble. Whatever happened, it caused a bloody nose. He didn’t want to get involved in her private business, it didn’t matter much to him. What he cared most about though, was to get the other out of a possible dangerous situation. Maybe she got into a fight with someone, a boyfriend perhaps? Then things escalated. If that was the case, did this mean that she was in an abusive relationship? Wait — he was still staring at her. He blinked and quickly averted his gaze, followed by clearing his throat. Eiji could feel the heat rising up to his neck and ears, why was he suddenly getting flustered? He then rubbed his nose in a rather bashful manner before turning the engine key a second time, breaking the awkward silence inside the vehicle.
The young woman eventually began talking. He listened while tapping the lower part of the steering wheel with his cold fingers. Though, upon hearing her words, the movement abruptly came to an stop. ‘... do you usually pick up random girls from the street like that?’ He was so caught off guard that he almost choked on his own saliva. Small coughs escaped him as he tried to process what the female said. Eiji then quickly turned to her, waving both of his hands in front of his face. “N-No! No, no! That’s not the case! I swear!” Now he really felt like he had committed a crime, despite having no hidden motives for his actions. He had only been acting out of the goodness of his heart. But he couldn’t deny that it was weird and random and maybe even crazy and strange and creepy and — and yet, he didn’t regret it. Actually, he would do it again in a heartbeat. With that in mind, his arms fell down to his sides and he gave an apologetic smile. He didn’t do anything wrong and yet he was feeling guilty.
Before he could pity himself though, the female thanked him, which made him feel a little better. Squishing the napkin in his hand, he absentmindedly handed it over to her without making any eye contact. “... Don’t mention it.” He spoke with a soft voice while turning on the heater. Next, he checked for oncoming traffic before he continued driving down the road. “Ah, don’t worry about it. After all, you didn’t ask for a ride, so see it as an free invitation out of kindness, no charges. Where can I drop you off?” A smile formed on his lips. He paused for a second, then he eventually added. “There should be a water bottle inside the glove compartment... if you’re thirsty, go ahead.” Would this have any bad consequences for him? Like getting fired? Well, if so, then it must be fate. He was planning to quit anyway.
@bkerchick — a fated encounter.
Eiji sighed as he leaned back in the driver seat of a taxi, taking a break from his current shift. Silence surrounded him as several thoughts began to cloud his mind. Ah, overthinking again are we? Are you that bored? His own voice spoke to him inside his head. His hand reached out for the radio but he stopped himself from turning it on. He remained in this awkward position as he pondered whether or not it was even worth it. Music was a great escape but sometimes it could trigger even darker thoughts and emotions. With another sigh his hand fell onto his lap. His gaze shifted to the window next to him before he began to space out. He had been working as a taxi driver for a few months now, after he quit his job at the cafe. Maybe it was a mistake. He loved driving around, especially with company, But sitting alone, waiting for a call, waiting for movement, waiting for something to distract the noise inside him — it was hell.
As a waiter, there seemed to be constant movement, there was no time to think. Why did he quit? He enjoyed the work there. And yet, he always seemed to quit when things seemed to go too smoothly, as if he was trying to sabotage himself. Was he running away from something? Or maybe... he was still searching for that something he wouldn’t mind doing for the rest of his life. But so far nothing truly sparked his interest. He was just a lost boy looking for a place he truly belonged to. He remained deep in thought as raindrops began to hit the surface of his car and rolled down the windows. He blinked at the sudden sound, then his gaze followed one of the droplets running down the transparent glass. In the same moment he caught sight of a person, his eyes now changing focus to see more clearly. Eiji squinted, now sitting up in his seat. It was a young woman.. holding onto her nose? She’s bleeding. His eyes widened as soon as the realization hit him. Without even thinking twice, he started the engine and slowly approached the female with the taxi. When he got closer, he rolled down his window to stick out his head.
“... Excuse me! Miss?” He took off his seat belt so that he could reach the door of the passenger seat and opened it. “It’s raining and... ah... how about I drive you home?” He asked, waving a napkin in front of him, a warm welcoming smile gracing his features.
With her elbow still resting on the bar top, she couldn’t help but let out a quiet sigh. The weird atmosphere of their exchange was slowly but surely setting. Although she didn’t know much about this mysterious man that her best friend Naomi works with, she still thought that his behavior was, well, odd to say the least. Whenever she’d come over to Naomi’s workplace, she’d see him around. Unfortunately she’d hear from him too from time to time. Do not get her wrong however, she had no ill opinion about the man. In reality, she wanted to befriend him or at the very least be on friendly terms with him considering his connection to Naomi. Additionally, Hiroko was naturally a person that tends to make friends with as many people as she can. Thus, it was no surprise that when she saw him at that tattoo parlor she was on her best behavior. However, the same couldn’t have been said about the man named Hayato, who found a new hobby.
It seemed like in a heartbeat he’d call her names, which she was never sure whether or not were intentionally hurtful or not. Considering that “baka tako” wasn’t exactly the sweetest of nicknames, she assumed they were. This realization didn’t sit well with her, because of her determination to be friendly with him. Nonetheless, she wasn’t willing to give up… yet. Though, instead of worrying how to approach someone who went out of their way to be ass towards her, now she had to think differently — how to approach a guy who’s clearly putting on an act, for whatever reason? One thing she hated more than him calling her an octopus, was when people pretend to be someone they are not. This feeling could have been caused by the fact that she herself wore heart heart on her sleeve. She saw no point in being dishonest or hiding your true feelings and intentions. It was hard to keep the act up anyway, far too exhausting. On other hand, her opinion could have been caused by an incident in high school. Namely, confessing to her crush, getting rejected and seeing his true ugly colors. Perhaps it was both.
She was brought out of her thoughts by his words. Immediately, a pout formed on her face. The audacity of this man. “Do you follow this, sir?” she spoke while her hand reached out to his face. She had an urge to poke him in the eyes with her index and middle finger and she was close to going through with it. Surprisingly, she stopped herself in the last minute. As a result she prevented herself from acting on a random urge for once. “Nevermind” she said with a laugh. However, it came to a stop at his next words. I’d love to share a drink or two with you. She visibly gagged and almost choked in the process. Where did that come from?! He knew he didn’t have to try THIS hard with her, right?! She shuddered. “Oh dude, don’t say that ever again. Even if you look good, that was still so gross coming from you, bleugh.” she said dramatically and without even thinking of what she was saying. “Not to mention that’s actually hard to believe coming from you of all people.” she huffed out and looked down at her hand. “Alright. It better be as good as you say though.” she might need therapy after all of this.
Hayato turned around as soon as the female finished talking. He made his way towards other guests and wrote down more orders, his smile fading ever so slightly. For some reason it was harder to keep the corners of his mouth up. Something was wrong but he couldn’t decipher the source just yet. Was it because the girl showed up? Maybe..? Though, it was just half the reason, the other half was probably because his secret, which he had tried very hard to keep hidden, was close to being discovered. The secret being his past. To his co-worker Naomi and her best friend Hiroko, he was just some ordinary young man working some ordinary job at an tattoo parlor. He didn’t have many friends... actually, he got none. He was taught very special rules, the golden rules given to him by his former mentor. And while he cut ties with him a long time ago, his words and the training he was put through to become a tool, an assassin — everything was deeply rooted in the back of his head. Don’t ever form any deep relationships with others. Don’t form connections with people unless it’s for the job. Don’t get attached, it’ll turn into a weakness.
He tried to break free. He tried to be more than just a tool, a killer, an empty puppet. He wanted to be like the people around him, but nothing seemed to fill the void inside of him. So... she thinks I’m creepy. Hayato spaced out while he grabbed some glasses to fill them with beer. His body running on autopilot without much trouble, after all he was already accustomed to the movements. Now that he thought about it, he already broke the golden rules, in fact, that’s what saved him from a path of utter demise. He was attached to Big Mom, probably more deeply than anyone at the bar. It took him a while, but he eventually realized it, she was like a parent he never truly had. The moment the thought crossed his mind, he could feel the warm sensation of a hand touching his back. He didn’t flinch nor feel any discomfort, he could tell by the feeling that the palm belonged to his former guardian. “Yato-chan, are you feeling alright? I got so distracted by chatting with our guests... but earlier I noticed that you seemed a little tense. Is everything fine?” There she goes again. She was the only human being in this world that could read his expressions perfectly like no other, even if the change was minimal.
“... Well.” Hesitating, he thought for a moment. There was no point in finding an excuse to avoid the conversation nor did he need to lie, she could read people too well and would surely call him out on it. He glanced at the beer before turning to face her. “I am feeling a little overwhelmed. I’d love to take a smoke break actually.” Big Mom blinked rather surprised as she counted the amount of words the young man had used in his sentences. That’s more than usual, she thought. Her gaze wandered past his silhouette and landed on Hiroko. She quickly smiled and patted his back a few more times. “Of course, honey.” She paused as she hesitated to continue. “... We’re closing soon, it’s fine if you go home. Just make sure to deliver the ordered drinks before you do, Yato-chan. Deal~?” Hayato eyed the other with caution. That was... random. Kind without a doubt but... out of nowhere? As he was trying to figure out what to do, he could feel someone’s gaze on him and it did not belong to Big Mom. The male didn’t want to turn around to check since it would be too obvious, but Hiroko was probably the one staring at him from afar.
“Alright.” Without waiting another second, he grabbed the tray with the ordered drinks and made a round through the bar to serve the customers. He made sure to arrive at Hiroko’s seat last, even though he didn’t quite know why. After checking if Big Mom was out of reach, he approached the girl a second time and placed her drink in front of her. “... Here’s your Lemon Sour.” Now time to leave! Or so was the plan but impulsivity already took control over his mouth and tongue. “I’m tired of calling you ‘miss’ and this play pretend, so I’m going out for a smoke.” He spoke while taking off his apron and grabbing a pack of cigarettes from his pocket. “Meet me outside after you finish your drink, baka tako.” And with that said, he left, his words sounding more like a command rather than an invitation.
@bkerchick — continued.
He was sitting in the driver seat, which he had perfectly adjusted beforehand to feel the most comfortable during long rides, long rides like this one. Next to him sat no other but one of his best friends, Hiroko. She would often join him on random car rides through the city and beyond, especially at night. They’d often talk about this and that, sing along to his classic rock & pop playlists, and nap together. Sometimes, on clear nights, they’d even go on the roof of his van to stargaze. As they drove through the night, street lights and some random cars would occassionally pass them. The songs playing in the background went from ‘Southern Sky’ to ‘Happy Together’ ... and eventually ‘Night Fever’ began playing. Shunpei was bopping his head to the beat of each song, humming and singing along from time to time. While doing so, he would often glance over to the female, who was sitting rather stiff in her seat, squirming from one side to the other.
Now that he thought about it, she seemed kinda weird today. She didn’t even sing along to ‘What is Love’ earlier, something that was completely out of character for her, since the two would always recreate the scene from the movie ‘A Night at the Roxbury’ when it started playing. He frowned as he tapped his fingers against the steering wheel. Eventually he spoke without thinking. "Keep your head up.” He didn’t even know if she was feeling down but something felt different about her, maybe something was upsetting her... or maybe someone broke her heart? If the latter was the case, he needed a name and address right now. He didn’t expect her to talk about what’s been going on inside her pretty head but to his surprise she actually seemed to open up about it. At the same moment, his hand reached to the volume control to turn it down a little. Now the music was just background noise, like in those slice of life tv shows.
He listened while keeping a straight face, though, ‘Stayin’ Alive’ made it rather hard to not move a muscle and to appear serious. He glanced around the streets and eventually found a nice spot to park his van off-road. ‘We are friends, right?’ Just as he was turning the vehicle to get it in the right position, Hiroko’s words hit him. His grip on the steering wheel tightened. Then in the next moment, he abruptly hit the brakes, causing some snacks to fly around, before the van stood still in place. So... we are the reason she feels down? Some friends we are... for not even realizing such a thing. Shunpei remained silent even after the girl had finished talking. Removing the seat belt, his hand reached under his seat to take out a bag of cheetos. Was he hungry or did he need to eat because of the stress he felt inside? He didn’t know but that didn’t stop him from eating like a maniac anyway. While each bite caused a crunching noise, he spoke, though he never managed to face her.
“We are friends. A hundred-percent. And stuff.” He trailed off and fell silent again. Lord. He was so bad at these kinds of things. He didn’t know how to cheer someone up even if it was a friend. All of her worries... he couldn’t relate to them. He never thought much about how others felt, or how his actions could affect them, thus causing many people problems. Licking his fingers, he thought about what to do. All the while, he opened the door, allowing cool fresh air to go inside the usually stuffy vehicle. ‘Never’ from Footloose ... bad timing. The bag of cheetos was thrown behind his seat before he took out a pack of cigarettes. Shunpei made sure to face the outside and began smoking. The smoke went past the front window and up into the dark sky. “Some people prefer to deal with their problems alone. There’s not much you can do, except be there for them when they eventually need someone. It’s... not dumb to feel upset. It shows you care.” He inhaled and exhaled slowly. “Doesn’t mean you’re worthless either, or that the friendship means nothing. It just means that humans are different.”
At first she didn’t take a proper look around, being far too uncomfortable in a new environment. Usually it wouldn’t have mattered to her — one could say that she simply went with the flow of life. She tried not to worry her little head with anything really, enjoying her life to the fullest. This philosophy of hers seemed to develop back at the beginning of high school. After being stripped off any confidence and enjoyment for life during middle school, because of excessive bullying, that is. Since then, she kept at it strong deciding that she will enjoy whatever life would bring her. However, she had to admit she hadn’t been to such a busy bar before. It far exceeded her expectations, or rather lack of them since she went head first. It seemed quite busy and lively. It was filled with a mass of people, but everyone seemed quite friendly and approachable. Even…
Hayato, was it? She thought to herself. It was a surprise to see him in a place as such, let alone working in one. He just didn’t seem like the type of person. Not to mention that friendly smile that adorned his face. He looked so inviting, and somewhat sweet to the eyes ( to her own surprise ) that she had to take a second look at him to make sure it really was him. Even his words didn’t match him! Referring to her as “miss” just seemed out of character. She anticipated the moment he would call her some names as he always did, which would annoy her to no end. Only he seemed to be able to play on her nerves, and she truthfully disliked it since it reminded her of her rather unpleasant past. Yet — he never said it. Her eyebrows instantly raised, and scrunched up slightly at his behavior.
“What happened to ‘baka tako?’“ she couldn’t help but ask, even if it could have possibly prompted him to start calling her this dreaded nickname again. With her elbow on the bar top, she put her chin in her hand. She thought about whether or not she’d rather order something or simply walk out right the door and call it quits. Ultimately, she spoke up again. “Well… I think I’ll start with a Lemon Sour then, my friends said it tasted nice…” now to survive this weird encounter. It should be easy right?
How troublesome. His shift only just begun, so he still had to endure this play pretend for a while longer, which was quite exhausting. He really really wanted to comment on other people’s ugly personalities and their weird sense of fashion or point out little flaws on their faces, but he couldn’t. He had to force himself to be a good boy and it was truly torturous. Bottling up his true self so that he could fit into a place full of people he didn’t even care about, just so that his favorite person, Big Mom, wouldn’t look at him with an expression of disappointment and sadness. Even if she wasn’t around, he would still behave like a well trained dog. And he would continue to do so, as long as her name was involved. Be it the bar, or people he bumped into that could possibly know her, Hayato would put on the mask of a charming, well-mannered, young man.
Again, he could really care less about whether or not others accepted him. However, if it’s Big Mom... his only true parental figure, he found it hard to act up since he didn’t want to cause her a hard time. He had already managed to be a problem in the past and he no longer wanted to add more to the pile. The black haired respected his former guardian too much to destroy whatever she had build over the years. Deep down, he feared that not even Big Mom could accept him, let alone love him, if he took off this mask. He knew this fear was unnecessary, since the barkeeper proved that she deeply cared for him more than once, and yet he couldn’t control these thoughts. Hayato viewed himself as nothing more but an outcast no matter where he found himself in society. All he could do, was to become the chameleon he was trained to be, to drown in the crowds while slowly but surely losing his true colors and face.
‘What happened to “baka tako”..?’ Hiroko’s voice reached him just in time to disrupt his rather dark thoughts. Though, it almost made him crack a smile, he managed to hold himself back... on the outside at least. On the inside, he was quite frankly dying. Lord. He’d love to throw a nice comeback at her but she’d have to wait for next time. “Excuse me? I’m not sure I follow.” Hayato spoke while casually spinning his pen in his hand. Upon hearing her desired drink, he smiled and wrote down her order before glancing at her. “Your friends are not wrong. I can confirm that it does indeed taste nice. If I wouldn’t be working right now, I’d love to share a drink or two with you.” Wow. Maybe he should start working at a host club or something. That line was so good he almost couldn’t believe himself. Sadly, he could believe himself, and thus he quickly felt rather disgusted by his own words. “.. Your drink will be ready in just a moment, miss.”
Although she wasn’t big on bars, she couldn’t ignore a good atmosphere and some drinks. The place she arrived at was recommended by her girl friends. Thus, Hiroko assumed they knew what they were talking about, and decided to check it out. Putting on her favorite ripped jean shorts and loose shirt that seemed still wearable ( after performing a sniff test that is ), she eventually left her apartment. Once her foot stepped into the area, she noticed that the place was oozing with people and music. Slightly intimidated by the new surroundings, she made her way to the bar rather quickly and situated herself in one of the chairs.
The bartender soon arrived and she immediately eyed him before snapping her fingers. “Hey, aren’t you that pole dancer?” she laughed it off quickly. “I am kidding.” she reassured him before leaning on the bar top. Then, as if it JUST hit her, she slumped in her chair with a sigh at the sudden realization. If it is who she thinks it is, then she should probably prepare herself to be called “octopus”, “fish lips” or something along these lines. Considering his tendency to tease her, it felt inevitable. Hopefully it wouldn’t ruin her mood too much.
It was the weekend and as per usual Hayato was helping out at Big Mom’s bar. He didn’t really like being around many people at once, it was tiring to put on all these different personas to match any type of customer like a chameleon. At the same time however, it granted him the perk of learning trivia information about random topics. Like, the latest trends and the latest gossip. Not that he really cared much about either, but it was nonteless usefull for future conversations, in case he needed it. Plus, he owed Big Mom too much that he could ignore her need of help. He was standing behind the counter, cleaning dishes as he scanned the bar and it’s customers. Big Mom stood next to him, chatting and laughing with her regulars. His expression was rather stoic compared to her warm and smiley exterior, he almost seemed like he didn’t quite fit into this establishment. Even though his body was there physically, it seemed that his mind was somewhere else completely.
“You’re going to scare people off with that face, Yato-chan~” The voice of Big Mom and a gentle pat on his back suddenly brought him to reality. “We got new customers, how about you go and give them a warm welcome?” He didn’t say a word and simply put the clean dishes away before he turned to the other and nodded with a smile. His eyes wandered around for a bit, searching for new faces. That’s when a familiar face at the bar top struck him by surprise. These lips... what’s baka tako doing here? He thought to himself as he casually approached the female from behind the counter. Why was she here? How did she find out about this place? Why now? Why during his shift? Why did she have to find out about his second job? Would she tell other people? Would it destroy the relationships he had build up with oh so much trouble and care? Would he have to adjust to a new persona yet again to match the shaken up connections or would he simply drop them, abandon them and move on?
He really wanted to leave his shift early now but he couldn’t betray Big Mom like this. And while he didn’t want Hiroko to discover him in such a place, he chose to take her order anyway. He put on his usual smile and tried to appear as clueless as possible, pretending that he didn’t know her. “I’m not a pole dancer... I can be whatever you want though, since the customer is king here.” He replied with no sign of hesitation before he took out a notepad from his apron. “... until then, what can I get you, miss?”