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 The Red Salamander (Night) [WORK THREAD] (Complete!)

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PostSubject: The Red Salamander (Night) [WORK THREAD] (Complete!)   Wed Dec 28, 2016 11:48 pm


Song and chorus and shouts and foreign instrumental music echoed off the walls of Little Tokyo as their festival carried on in the Tokyo Strip all the way to the back alleys. As those sounds of joy and merriment traveled would they twist and contort into mocking laughter and imposing noise. For everyone in the dark shadows of the back streets such sounds were insults and putrid filth, the pathetic inhabitants of the underground finding such extroversion and bliss abhorrent. The bright red passionate colors just a stone's throw away from the main street turned an imposing, bloody, washing crimson bathed in neon the further one travelled away from the safety of the crowd. One such establishment attempted to throw off the dark shackles its surroundings had so readily plagued themselves with. Its exterior was lively in comparison, with bright Japanese lanterns flanking the carved wooden door with ornate designs. The light cast from those lanterns and the signs stood like a beacon in the night, the last bastion against the dreary back alley atmosphere. It's sign glowed with weary stalwartness, being wrapped with a winding fiery dragon, jaw open with what appeared to be a grin of triumph.

The Red Salamander, unofficial title holder of "Most Depressing Drinking Establishment in Little Tokyo". Although, not to the owners' lack of trying. The interior was similarly decorated with items of oriental influence, lending it a moody sort of atmosphere. A torii stood proudly within the entryway, nearly ironic in retrospect to the grim reality inside. The dim lighting from hung lanterns, intended to offer a mysterious, romantic atmosphere instead served to make everything seem bleak and forlorn, the decorative wall scrolls, paintings, and ferns almost seeming like a parody of themselves in attempt to lighten the oppressiveness that swirled thick like fog within the restaurant. Kano sighed a deep, tired sigh. The barman stood behind his post, prepared to serve his poison to the damned. A real Charon of Styx, not that he intended to be. It wasn't his choice of atmosphere, that much was for sure.

Back when The Calamity happened and Endymion was trying to rebuild the scruffy businessman had put his hands to work along with it. Endymion was his home for thick or thin and he hadn't been one to lose hope or become deterred by hardship. After the reconstruction was mostly complete and the city started to flourish he took his opportunity when property ownership was still cheap and realistic. He built The Red Salamander with his own two hands, the dreams of entrepreneurship lighting his way like stars... but no matter what he did a dive it would remain. It wasn't the most ideal of locations, a plot on the Tokyo Strip was rather pricy, but he hoped to draw the crowd away with a welcoming atmosphere and cheaper prices. That was way back before his establishment became a parody of itself. Cheap prices brought in the lowlifes, the forlorn and outcasts filled his bar with the dark cloud that followed them. It floated through the air like smog, and while he could be proud to be a business owner struggling in the rough market nowadays he was sad to see what reality his dream had brought.

The toil, the work, the commitment he gave was all given to mend the spirits of the people, a safe bastion of carousing and fine dining nestled away from the cruelty of the devils had bestowed to the city. A place that could show you that "anyone could make it", that a man with a plan and a dream could follow that star and get what he wanted from life, tragedy or no. Funny thing how that never worked. Kano would be undeterred by it. Try and fail and try and fail again, it never embittered him or left him jaded like his patrons. Life had never given him a damn thing, the barman earned it all on his own through blood, sweat, and tears, grit and determination. A comfortable home, reliable truck, an education, a beautiful and wonderful fiancé, and a shop to his namesake. Dark clouds would pass, even if they didn't the whipping wind and driving rain could never stop him anyhow. There was always a silver lining. Best of all, Kano knew he made a difference, no matter how small. Sure, some would balk about supplying alcohol to boozehounds and fractured people, but they were missing the point. He could listen. He could care when no one else would. What he could provide instead was a place to drink without judgement where people could be looked after, where they could imbibe until they were useless without getting into fights, beating their kids, or giving into dark urges like self harm or acts of extreme violence. So yeah, maybe he was doping people up with numbing poison they bought with their own free will, but better here than at home left to their own devices. Speaking of which... Kano cricked his neck a bit and clomped across the bar to check on his problem child. He was thankful for the quiet, Zayasu spitting in his face and being a nuisance not anything he enjoyed after all, but the silence was beginning to worry him. Best to check up on the little troublemaker.


Last edited by Daichi on Fri Jan 27, 2017 2:18 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: The Red Salamander (Night) [WORK THREAD] (Complete!)   Tue Jan 24, 2017 11:47 pm

The wood on the top of the bar felt cool across Ritsuko's face as she lay across it, hands folded across her splayed raven hair. She had begun work on building her booze fortress again, surrounding herself with the clear, glassy carcasses of drinks long imbibed. It hurt to be her, it never stopped. She was always angry and when she wasn't angry she was incredibly depressed. Or afraid. Or bored. Case in point, tonight. More specifically today. A crappy day at work with the judgy bitches she called coworkers, an afternoon spent being pestered and teased, on constant guard, never being able to relax or recharge or escape. Fucking stupid people, couldn't they find something better to do than to invade her personal space? None of it was welcome, she had absolutely no desire to be bothered or stared at or spoken to and communicated that clear as day, yet still everyone persisted. Ritz couldn't fathom it. It was obvious to anyone with ears and eyeballs and a sliver of a brain that she wished to be left to her own little corner of existence yet no one could pick that up, and those that spoke to her just caused her problems and grief. But that wasn't the real reason why she was sitting at the Red Salamander attempting to drown herself in cheap gin and vodka with other unfortunate souls.

Actual grief was the real reason, a bleeding heart torn down the middle she was attempting self-medicate with stitches made from cocktails. She'd made a mistake that night, one she'd swore up and down she'd never make again yet she'd done it anyways. No, not the drinking, Ritsuko had long made peace with the fact she needed society's most acceptable drug to function day in and day out. The small Japanese woman had put her faith in people and they let her down again. It was a monumental task to do so that most everyone took for granted. To them it was easy as opening their mouth and speaking, they weren't burdened by the trauma that she was, weren't immobilized by the scars that scoured every free inch of her psyche. It was always dangerous for her. Every conversation or word spoken was a risk that she was forced to keep up her defenses for. Everyone had it out for her or such was the stance she took, none of her experiences spoke otherwise.

But tonight was different. She didn't push people away, she made an attempt to talk to them and connect with them just like a normal person did with ease. In the end she was gutted for it, a knife ripping down the center of her chest. It was worse than normal, Ritz had even found someone she liked. Maybe it was that attraction that made her break away from her stoic existence for a bit, the sullen musician didn't know, but it ended the same way anyway. She made an ass of herself and got hurt, further reinforcing why she was better off on her own. Her eyes felt wetter the more she contemplated it as every little mistake or misstep weighed in on her.  Ritsuko couldn't help but imagine all the things she did wrong and all the bullshit she tried to pass off as truth. If she hadn't opened her stupid fucking mouth perhaps things could've gone more her way. And so, predictably, it bit her in the ass. Her face still felt raw from the biting breeze on her wet face, a long walk spent crying with her head to the sidewalk was to blame from that. She wouldn't be so foolish as to get idealistic ever again, at least until she'd long forgotten the girl at the coffee shop. If only there were some sort of magic potion that could make you forget the bad shit that happened to you.

As if on cue Kano's clomping footsteps signaled his approach to the angsty little drunk. Her head lay bowed down deep into the bar top, her form draping over top of it like a limp, discarded overcoat. The burly barman sucked his teeth at the sight. Passed out already, huh? Strange... usually she could drink twice what he could before starting to lose it, even with her tiny size. Some liver on the upstart, that was for sure. The muscular gent reached out a meaty hand to gently nudge her unmoving body. No response.
"Hey. Ris. You can't sleep here, wake up," the business owner urged. A lazy hand rose to wave him away, batting at the stocky man while knocking over a nearly empty cocktail glass. Kano cringed. Cleaning up after the kid again. At times it escaped him why he made an effort but he was nothing if not persistence. He shook her again, this time a little less gently.
"Ris, wake up! You're a big girl, you can take yourself to bed. C'mon Ris, rise and shine." His turbulent shaking would be met by a steely grip, her nails digging into his forearm.
[color=#660033]"Knock it off, asshole! I'm not in the mood!" growled the layabout, tossing his tree trunk of an arm away with surprising strength.
"Welcome back. Thought I was gonna have to knock fifteen percent off my mortgage payments for a minute there," joked the larger man dryly. Her head sharply ripped upward, exposing the rage within her eyes along with their wetness.
"Go fuck yourself, asshole!" Ritsuko exclaimed, her voice cracking with emotion.

Kano recoiled at the sight, certainly not something he expected. He could've sworn she was a little gone or tired, tears weren't on the list. It wasn't unusual for her to cry in his own bar, an exhausting, time-consuming task he was more than familiar with, but he had never seen her quite this sort of angry and malcontented at the same time.
"I've already told you, I don't wanna play! Just leave me alone already!" she screeched to the stunned barman, his countenance turning from surprise to shock to concern. He could see the hurt in her gaze, he could feel the cries for help in every word she spat at him. The tension in the air was thick enough to cut with a knife, yet he wouldn't back down. Not this time. She was a tortured soul, a broken little thing and as much as her angry facade belied that presumption he wouldn't be one to shy away.
"You... you okay, Ris?" Kano asked with a lack of other options to say. She never made things easy for him, that was certain. The girl was always so... cryptic and unapproachable, but she could be reached with enough perseverance and effort. He was the type to try, after all. Not even her pestilent, abrasive attitude would change that.
"No, I'm not okay! Because you're bothering me, so go the hell away!" she shot back, crossing her arms over the table and burying her head in them.

"That's a shame, then. Because I'm not leaving until you tell me what's wrong," the surly barman remarked. His comment was met an extended silence. For several minutes the two of them remained in absolute quiet, either side refusing to give in and admit defeat. The stubborn young woman with a chip on her shoulder and her face into the bar sat with her watchful companion, the determined and caring business owner.
".........if I tell you what's wrong will you go away...?" mumbled the alcoholic delinquent from beneath her forearms.
"...sure thing, Ris," the gruff bartender responded with crossed arms. She laid on the bar top with her head in her arms for another few moments before responding again.
"...whiskey sour, get me one."
"One whiskey sour, comin' up," Kano sighed as he stomped away to make the drink she asked for, disappointment clear in the weight of his gait. Nothing was ever easy with her, not a single conversation nor a single exchange could escape the sheer venom that was her toxic attitude. Nevertheless... he'd give it a shot. Kano wasn't one to give up trying after a set back, be it the first or the first of many.
Grabbing a bottle from the bottom shelf of the bar, the business owner brought out his shaker and got to work.


Last edited by Daichi on Fri Jan 27, 2017 2:12 am; edited 3 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: The Red Salamander (Night) [WORK THREAD] (Complete!)   Fri Jan 27, 2017 1:31 am

The barman kept a careful eye on both his best and worst customer as he shook her the cocktail she'd asked for. Ritsuko always found a way to stir up trouble no matter what was happening, slippery little girl that one. The first time he'd met her she tried to pick a fight in his establishment. Thinking back... he could've saved himself a lot of worry and work if he'd have just kicked her out right then instead of taking pity. But someone with her kind of problems wouldn't last long anywhere else. Sometimes he felt that if he didn't make any attempt to keep her in his establishment she'd pop off and get shot or stabbed or in some other kind of danger. Midori wasn't terribly fond of her, for one, and normally that was enough for him. He couldn't help but pity her anyway. No one else he'd met was that dedicated to their own self-destruction. Rustling into the ice bucket to grasp a few cubes he would plunk two of them into her venomous concoction, grabbing the drink from the bar with his stubby fingers as his work shoes clomped across the hardwood flooring to complete his task. She was still laying with her face in her arms, and if he hadn't known better it'd appear she was already three sheets to the wind. Yet again, he checked, and it appeared that this was business as usual yet again.

"You trying to rack up another high score there, Ris?" he announced with a casual joke, gently placing the drink on the bar beside her. She responded with silence, wrapping her tiny hand around the cool glass as she kept her head buried in her arms with her hair splaying across the top of the counter.
"...what's eatin' you, Ris?" inquired the burly man in a softer tone, leaning over the bar toward her.
"...I don't wanna talk about it..." Ritz mumbled through her forearms.
"C'mon Ris, that wasn't the deal, y'know? I got your drink, let me know what's bothering you." The prodding from the gentle giant had no effect on the sullen little women. She didn't even move her head to down her drink, just held the cold glass within her tiny palm.
"Alright, tell ya what. You tell me what's wrong and that drink won't cost ya nothin'. We got a deal here, little lady?" Ritsuko was silent for another few moments before mewling a soft "...Mhm..." Kano waited patiently for his misguided customer to speak rather than tend to anyone else. The night was slow anyway. It was early, most folks didn't drop by until later in the evening. Most action happened around 10, he'd only get a few more paying visits before the magic hour anyhow.

Ritsuko unveiled her flush, wet face long enough to lift her drink to her lips and swallow half of it in one go. The sweet poison bit and clawed at her throat, fighting back against the sorrow that threatened to erupt from it. She could feel her consciousness swim a little as the drink went down and raised her eyes to Kano. His face was rough but warm with inviting eyes. No matter what everyone else saw of him the troubled musician knew he was a teddy bear for better or worse. It was something she kept taking advantage of. Ritz could never be anyone like that, it was exhausting to care, which is why answering his question was all the more unbearable. If it were up to her she'd never answer it... and she could make that choice. It was her life to live, unwanted, undesired... The familiar sting began to bite at the back of her esophagus again and she slammed down the rest of her liquor. Answering would be painful, but like a bandage it was better to just get it the fuck over with.
"I... I got dumped. That what you wanted to fuckin' hear...?" spat the vengeful wretch. She'd expected him to guffaw in her face or wave her off... but she underestimated how willing he was to listen and not just so he could shoo her away.

"Awww... I'm really sorry to hear that. You feelin' okay about it?" Not even a hint of condescension, pity, or sarcasm lined his words leaving the spiteful young lady at a loss for reaction. No one really asked her how she felt at all. Everyone asked her if she was okay. Those were two different things in her mind, you could be okay and still feel terrible about yourself and everyone around you. Her lip began to quiver as her vision blurred with yet more tears.
"*sniff* N...No... *hic*" Kano laid a heavy arm lightly on the tiny girl's shoulder as she began to sniffle and cry.
"I-I fucked everything up! It's all-*sniff* ...it's all my fault...!" Wet trails began to wind paths down the pale face of the heartbroken artist, her body trembling with a piercing sort of discomfort.
"I was, just, I wanted someone to like me a-and I fucking blew it...! *sniff* She was... she was perfect and nice a-and *sniff* ...I just kept... telling her fuckin' lies like it was no big deal!" Ritz motioned towards the air flippantly, smiling sadly through sniffles and tears.
"I... I told her I was some kind of fucking rock star or some shit... *hic* ...a-and she looked like she wuh... was really impressed, I even played a song for her! *hu-hup!* A-a-and then she humiliated me...! Sh... she saw straight through my fucking bullshit the whole time, she wuh-was playing mental games with me...! *huuuup!*

The surly barman listened intently with a stony face, raising an eyebrow and nodding slightly now and again. He honestly wasn't surprised that Ris tried to take advantage of someone and it backfired, in his experience she wasn't very capable of thinking farther ahead than a few hours and the "woe is me" attitude was pretty standard for her... alternating with her "go screw yourself" attitude. What shocked him most was that she batted for the other team. Or, y'know, was interested in human connection at all. Most of the time he'd been in her... social graces she was much less than pleasant and kept to herself. "White can appear black as long as the light is blinding" or so the saying went. Guess maybe she wasn't a complete and total outcast. If not, y'know, the getting dumped thing. Truth be told she shouldn't have lied like that, but Kano would keep that to himself. He didn't know the whole story after all.
"*hic!* I just... I just feel so goddamn stupid! *huuu-hup!*" she wailed, becoming more hysterical. The stoic barman rubbed her shoulder slowly in an attempt to calm her down.
"Theeeeeere theeeeeeere, Ris. She was playing head games with you, she wasn't worth your time anyway. You're a good girl. You can find someone that likes you," reassured the stocky man.
"Don't be *sniff* fucking stupid Kano, nobody likes me *sniff* ...that's why I have to lie to them."

Hard to imagine why...

He'd already made his own judgments about her, hard not to after she'd spent more time drinking at his establishment than probably working. The mean little alcoholic was abrasive and antisocial to a fault... but he didn't hate her for it. From all her time spent complaining and moaning and throwing pity parties with an open bar he was well aware she disliked herself and her own situation far worse than he ever could if he did. Anyway, people weren't all bad on the inside, sometimes they just turn out that way. Sum of all your experiences and all that. Ris was traumatized and perpetuating a cycle of hate whether she was aware of it or not, feeding her more hate would only keep that wheel turning. Some compassion... now that was what the doctor ordered.
"You? Lie? Yeah, like I'd believe that," Kano scoffed as he picked up her now empty glass. The jaded artist glared back at the mountain of a man with a vicious scowl before he interrupted her.
"I know you don't lie, Ris. You talk around the truth a lot, but I've never heard you tell an outright lie, you tell people what you think for better or worse. Hell, some people admire that sort of thing."

"Just not any of the people I talk to..." remarked the sullen girl quietly, "...I-I mean, I wasn't sure if she liked me before I... I started talking myself up. I thought she was jus-"

Just trying to sell me coffee I couldn't afford.

Ritsuko's eyes opened wider in a state of panic and she choked on a lungful of air. She'd left all her money at the cafe, right after payday. It was well past sundown, there wasn't any way to get more. She couldn't even pay for what she was drinking, and even if Kano allowed her to hold a tab it didn't change the bleakness of her situation. If she couldn't get her hands on some cash she wouldn't be able to pay for her hotel room the next morning. The delinquent would be homeless again with nowhere to turn. Her shoulders tensed up as she began to shake, the fury painting itself across her face in broad strokes with aggravated tears.
"FUCK!" she exclaimed, pounding a clenched fist on the bartop. The remaining empty glasses rattled as she did so, quaking in fear for their own existence.
"GODDAMNIT!"
[color=#66ff00]"Whoa! Calm down. You're fine, what's wrong?" commanded the stocky barkeep in a firm voice. He'd entertain her misery but at the end of the day he had a bar to run. No violence, no making scenes, no shenanigans. Temper tantrums were right out. The distraught alcoholic dug her fingernails into the bartop as she flexed her digits. She bowed her head deeply, hiding her flushed face with her hair.
"...Kano...Kano, I need money..." announced Ritsuko surprisingly evenly.

"Huh? Whad'you say?" the larger man puzzled, "Look Ris, I know you keep telling me I'm the only friend you've got but I don't think-"
"No, Kano! I can't even afford what I'm drinking, I'm not gonna have a place to live tomorrow...!" she interrupted with a desperate gasp. The look of anxiousness and impending reality could easily be seen on her flighty expression, regardless of how spiteful her words sounded.
"That's, uh..." The barman halted. That was a lot to drop at once. Of course he didn't want her on the streets, but he couldn't just give her a little something to keep her head above water. Well... he had to make money too, and God forbid this became a habit. Kano was about to open his mouth to speak before the tiny little poverty stricken ragamuffin slumped before him made his choice instead.
"I-I'm not looking for handouts, I'll work for it. Can... can I play more music or something...?" The larger gent scratched at his beard in thought.
"I dunno, Ris, that was sort of a one-time thing. I mean, you won't be drawing me any customers, I gotta pay you for a service, y'know?" It was a weak excuse, but Kano didn't want to turn her away. Nor did he want to waste more money on live music. Not that she wasn't any good, but he wasn't going to get any return on investment. No one was here, and it wasn't like word would travel. Again, she spoke up as she sensed his hesitation, further directing his choice.

"Then I'll bus tables or wash dishes or something! Damnit Kano, I can't go home without getting paid...!" Ritsuko slapped her hands on the bartop as she spoke with conviction... yet her voice broke at the end of her sentence. It was apparent how desperate she was. These were troubled times, it didn't matter what she did as long as she wasn't back in the elements again. Endymion was more dangerous than the outside, even with all the Demons. They weren't what frightened her. Getting ripped apart was different than being mugged, raped, and left for dead. Human beings were far worse in their cruelty as she'd so often experienced, she'd rather deal with the Demons than expose herself to people hiding in alleyways waiting to carve you up for shits and giggles. The mountain of a man frowned a deep frown, narrowing his eyes in a troubled squint. One could see his stony face crack with the concern in his eyes. After a long while of staring back and forth, one with resolve and desperation, the other with contemplation and weight, the barman sighed.
"*sigh* Alright, Ris. Lemme run it past Midori first. She's not gonna be happy to have you around her glasses so soon." The muscular business owner unfolded his arms and Ritsuko's tension seemed to relax along with it as she slid back down into her seat, averting her eyes again.

Kano didn't get any sort of gratitude, not that he expected any. He shook his head lightly as he clomped toward the kitchen with its clinking clamor.
"...can I have another whiskey sour before you go...?" piped up the pathetic alcoholic behind the man. The barkeep audibly scoffed at the suggestion.
"Nope. You're workin' soon, I'm cuttin' you off," he stated as he pushed open the swinging door and disappeared.
"Tch!" Ritsuko sneered back at him. ...buuuuuut it was something. At least maybe now she wouldn't need to pack up her things and lug all of her stuff across town. Ritz laid her head back down on the bartop, staring at the ground below her, closing her eyes as she rode the fading buzz.


Last edited by Daichi on Fri Jan 27, 2017 2:17 am; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: The Red Salamander (Night) [WORK THREAD] (Complete!)   Fri Jan 27, 2017 1:54 am

Ritz swayed her feet a little as she waited for Kano to return with word from his master. She never liked Midori, probably because Midori didn't like her. She was always so critical and ready to call her out for her behavior. Worst part was she did it with a smile. Two-faced bitch. Even with the cacophony coming from the clashing of plates and tinking of glasses drowning the noise out she could hear them arguing back there. The musician grimaced. Midori wouldn't let it fly. Kano heading off to ask her was his own polite way of saying "no", she knew how much she had him on a leash. But she still needed to make money. If she had to move tomorrow it'd take time, and she could get fired if things took too long. That one little exchange possibly ruined her life, just because she was dumb enough to try to reach out to people in a false hope that someone could enjoy her company. She couldn't blame the bartender, Midori would be the one at fault if she couldn't earn any more income that night... but that didn't mean that she'd take it lying down. Ritsuko's thoughts began to wander, searching frantically for a way out. Working wasn't happening, not with the Smiling Harpy in charge of that decision. She wasn't left with a whole lot of options. Ritsuko rose from her seat slowly as if any noise would give her away, looping her guitar strap around her shoulders as she tiptoed toward the door. Kano wasn't out here. Neither was his pain in the ass fiance. That meant...

The desperate musician's heart began to beat furiously in her chest as her eyes focused on her goal: the unmanned cash box. Kano had left it open as he spoke to her and hadn't gotten an opportunity to close it before he left to get his "second" opinion. She swallowed hard as she stealthily walked across the hardwood with light steps. The Red Salamander was largely empty, yet she could feel hundreds of pairs of eyes on her as she approached the money. Her throat was dry, she could hear the blood pounding in her ears as she took a quick glance toward the back of the bar. The swinging kitchen door stood still, and she could hear the debate between the two continue. Was this right...? No, no it wasn't, but she didn't have any other alternatives. She leaned against the bar on the opposite side of the loose funds, hiding her actions as she reached a shaky hand downward. She hated to do this to Kano, he was a good person. But he had his own home, his own business. He could manage. Ritz wasn't able to do that. This was the best option she saw. Quickly, she darted her hand into the cash box to swipe a handful of bills, stuffing them into her vest before anyone could see. With her ill-gotten gains she slid out the door and into the windy chill of the night. Her steps were quick and with purpose, she was sure even Kano would turn her in if he found something amiss. She never wanted to do it, but it wasn't her fault. Ritsuko didn't have a choice. As her raven hair whipped around in the breeze and she tried to fight the knot in her stomach, the pathetic thief promised herself it wouldn't happen this way again. She'd have more work to do before it went down this way.

END THREAD
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