Rei

Challenged Recovery

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Things seemed to have a turning point for Rei. The last thing he had remembered, was leaving the cave in the tundra from a mission he and Takara had. Both he and her had been injured, his a physical injury and hers a head injury. She was quite stubborn at the time, so he had insisted on carrying her back to the village. Throughout the trek back to the village, his own injury had worsened until he had passed out from the pain. That was when he had woke up in a comfortable clean bed, in a quiet room connected to a busy hallway. It was a hospital room. His clothes had been stripped and his ribs were set back into place and healed by the medical shinobi. I must have passed out before we got back to the village... he thought to himself as he jumped up from the bed, fully naked and quickly finding his clothes. They had not been difficult to find. His clothes had been watched and mended with sewing and then placed in a chair across from the hospital bed. 

 

It was an odd sensation and he didn't personally care for the smell. He had never been in the hospital before. Growing up homeless in the slums, he had never been afforded with an opportunity to be treated in such a fancy place. Ever since he had become a shinobi, he had let his summonings do all of the heavy lifting for him with little danger involved to himself. His first time in the shinobi hospital and it had been for taking damage for someone else. He shook his head, regretting how foolishly he he tried to save Takara. Not so much in his decision to save her, but because his body had moved on its own without him consciously willing it. He grabbed his pants from the chair and began to put them on, his upper body still wrapped in heavy white bandages as he grumbled a bit. Though his body had healed, he was still in a fair bit of pain. "I need to know how long I was unconscious..." he would say absently to himself as he pulled his pants up and buttoned them. He didn't like being in an uncommon environment and not knowing what had occurred while he was unconscious. Had Takara been okay? How did they get back to the village? He had several questions but first he needed to get dressed and find someone to ask. His eyes scanned the room for any odd details, but all he could see was a bottle of sake beside the bed on a table. Why was that there?

WC-446

Edited by Rei

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Takara had found herself falling asleep. She had been told she could leave the hospital as of the day before, but with Rei here still, she chose not to leave. She had gone home, showered, redressed in a flowing blue dress with a broad leather belt. Wearing simple flats, and letting her long hair hang loose (doctor's recommended she not put to much pressure on her head), she had spent every moment by Rei's sleeping side. After several hours, simply sitting near, his body wrapped and concealed under a sheet, she had started to fall asleep. Her blue orbs had closed as she dozed off and with a start she woke herself up. "I need a little coffee," She murmured to herself.

 

She had been going through the mission forward and back, reasoning, doubting, and then justifying before starting the cycle over again. Mentally she was tired, and physically, she wanted to sleep and rest more. But Rei had saved her life several times over and she needed to be there when he finally awoke. After all those pseudo-surgeries, where professional medical nin kicked her out of the room and closed the door, Takara wanted him to see her friendly face. She wanted to offer him comfort, food, anything he might need as he went through his healing process. But at that moment, she needed coffee. So she stepped out. And in her absence, Rei had awoken, standing up to find his clothes.

 

Takara walked back through the closed door and saw a flash of pale skin, dropping her coffee to the floor and hiding her eyes. "Sorry, sorry, oh... Shinigami!" Still hiding her face, Taka stood there, remaining without leaving, unsure of what to do or say and having so much to do and say. After a moment of stuttering, cheeks redder than fruit, she finally back stepped, bumping into the door, and exited the room. She stood on the other side of the door, berating herself for walking in on him. With her back to the wall, Taka mumbled to herself about proper etiquette and responsibility. But how the hell was she supposed to know he would wake up? How the heck was she supposed to know he would be naked!? She thanked her lucky stars that she had shielded her eyes the moment that they caught sight of his pale skinned back, at least affording him the privacy that he deserved at the last moment. Takara had no idea that Rei had actually been wearing pants. But the young woman was utterly shocked and embarrassed; she might not have seen anything, but what if Rei thought she had!?

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So engrossed in his thoughts of concern, that he hadn't noticed when the door had opened. His back had been turned to the door and as Takara entered the room, he heard her voice before he had even turned to see her. As she stuttered an apology, Rei turned his head casually, his long green hair trialing down his back as he turned to look at her. She averted her eyes and backed up before exiting the room. All the while, if Takara had actually looked up instead of averting her gaze, she would have seen that he already had pants on and his face was blank. she hadn't noticed however and exited the room. He blinked his eyes a couple of times, trying to understand her reaction. He shrugged and then continued getting dressed. He left out his tundra clothing, it was much too warm currently to wear snow gear So instead, he wore only his flak jacket over his bandaged chest. He put on his boots and left his other clothes sitting on the chair as he walked over to the door and opened it.

 

There, Takara was facing the wall, her face all red for some reason. He would step through the door, somewhat concerned about her health. He wasn't a medical shinobi and he hadn't much of a clue about medical conditions or trauma... but he did remember how his mother used to check him for a fever. "Come here." he would say, accidentally giving a misleading statement, followed by his subsequent action. He would grab Takara if she didn't resist him and turn her to face him as he stepped closer and moving his head closer still towards her own face and closed his eyes. He would place his forehead against hers with his eyes closed, focusing on checking her temperature for a fever rather than paying attention to her reaction. After a couple of seconds, he would pull back a bit and look at Takara with his yellow eyes. "You don't have a fever. Is something bothering you?" he would say. Unusually concerned. She had hit her head after all.

WC-355

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Takara heard him step out and didn't resist him when he turned her around to face him. When she tilted her head up a little to look at him with embarrassed red cheeks and wide blue eyes, Taka tried to find the right words to say. She heard him in her mind, his voice saying "Don't resist, you'll only cause me pain". Although it was a memory, it was still fresh enough in her mind that she did what he had once told her to. However, Taka hadn't planned on being quite so close and with his forehead touching her's and her back to the wall, her face got only more vividly red. She heard footsteps and knew nurses could see. What were they thinking? Two shinobi like this? She didn't have a fever but when she felt him pull away and looked into those bright golden hues, she thought she was dying of the heat that came with embaressment.

 

She opened her mouth, closed it and then tried again. "N-nothing, no! I uh.. sorry I walked in before you.. you were dressed.. I swear I didn't see anything!" Her words tumbled from her lips without grace and her ears even matched her face now. "I wanted to stay and see if.. I've been here this whole time.. I just.. coffee and then.." Taka sounded like a real lunatic, still positive that she had walked in on him naked. She had never seen a naked man before and her youthfulness and her complete and flagrant shyness might have conveyed something on the matter if Rei could decipher what she really was so worried about.

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Stuttering again and now her face was even more red than before. Curious. Maybe it was just the hospital atmosphere? A couple of nurses nearby giggled at the scene and started whispering as they moved away. Rei stepped back and turned to his room and grabbed the rest of his clothing up under his left arm and left the room to meet back up with Takara. "I was only getting dressed. It's fine. I'm a bit hungry. Let's go find something to eat. Maybe that will help you relax." he would say to Takara and begin walking down the hall, holding his clothes in one hand and sake bottle in the other.

 

Assuming Takara followed him, Rei would walk back the distance to the shinobi barracks and place his belongings back into his room. "I just need to change clothes, you can come in if you want." he would say to Takara, leaving the door open to Takara as he would set his stuff down and go to his room to find some civilian clothes.

WC- 174

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Takara followed behind him, her face slowly starting to normalize, pretending the giggles of the nurses were not for their benefit. When he walked down the hall, proclaiming hunger, she relaxed a little an nodded. In the hall, she filled the silence between them with a few details to questions he had not asked her. Talking was what she was good at, making people feel comfortable and at ease, and doing so helped her to refocus and relax. "Oh, yes, I uh do owe you spicy curry. There is this place a block or so away from my parents' sake-house. Korai to Kowaii, "Scary Spicy"," Taka glanced at him while speaking, "Sometimes its so busy but I am sure you have been there. Best spot in the village if you want something done hot. I went there once with my father and we had a spicy food contest. I couldn't use my tongue for nearly a week!" Taka bit her lip.

 

That wasn't really sending the best impression of her strength or capability. She saw the sake bottle in his hand and as they left the hospital, Taka continued speaking. "Oh you were asleep when they came! My mother was a mess thinking I was going to die or something so she brought you those big fresh flowers. How she gets things like fresh flowers out here in the cold, I'll never know I guess. Oh and my father, even he was a mess of emotion when they came to the hospital. I had a concussion and memory relapses and some mild frostburn on my feet, but everything is fine, fine. There's a little scar on my hair line though, can you see it?" Taka lifted her bangs slightly to show the cut that had been bleeding down her face on their mission. She didn't wait for an answer as they walked through the village to the barracks nearby. "Sorry, it doesn't matter. Anyway that sake is from my father. He says he'll give you a night on the house if you ever want to stop by. And you should take him up on that, the sake we serve is real high class stuff for high prices. There are some low rated drinks, but I am telling you we have incredible tastes."

 

Now what was she doing? Trying to sell product? She was using her active cheerful customer voice. She bit her lip again and decided to stay quiet for the last minute or two before they stopped at the barracks. Too shy to enter or watch him change, if that was what he was implying, Taka waved him on and let him go inside the barracks to change. She smoothed her blue dress and adjusted her belt. She silently toyed with her long hair, rolling over her shoulders and chest in long lush jade waves.

 

While she debated if she had said too much, she waited for Rei to return to her, hoping that her jabbering and nervousness hadn't given a poor representation again of herself. She wanted him to like her, to see potential in her, and to believe in her. Taka thought he was harsh, but she owed him her life and she had to find a way to make it up to him. Her blue eyes flicked to the door, her mind wandering back to their mission and all that she owed him. She had no idea what he recalled, what he knew of his own condition, and she had spent all the time talking about her parents instead of checking in on his health. Nervousness had stolen her tongue and made her look a fool. She looked towards the door and asked herself, Was he still mad? Rei hadn't said a word, but whether he had been taking in her jabbering or repulsed by her, she hadn't stopped to notice.

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Rei had remained mostly quiet on the walk to the barracks. He listened to Taka when she mentioned the spicy curry, he remembered that he had told her she owed him. It seemed like a good opportunity to take her up on her offer. The two of them were currently not included into any mission responsibilities due to healing injuries. It was a good time as any. She mentioned her parents owning a sake house and automatically his mind put the pieces of information together even before Taka had verbally confirmed his suspicions. He had turned his gaze to see Taka's scar when she had mentioned it, though he hadn't said much. When they had arrived at the barracks, he quickly went to change his clothing. He may be socially awkward, but at least he knew enough to know that keeping someone waiting was rude.

 

He would call out from inside the apartment as he changed, "I will keep the sake then and sample it later. My thanks to your father for the generous gift." The day was a big more warm than usual, which offered the rare opportunity to wear more relaxing clothing. He had noticed Taka's dress, but he had said nothing about it because his own clothing at the hospital was not appropriate to match her choice of clothes. He put on a fresh pair of blue jeans, grey converse shoes and a mathcing grey sweater. He brushed his long green hair neatly and then brushed his teeth. About five minutes passed since he was rushing himself to not keep Taka waiting. Finally, he left the apartment and met Taka back in the hallway. "Sorry for the wait. Let's try out that curry shop you mentioned. I'd like to see how good it is. I'm not sure where it is though, so I'll follow you there." he would say and then lock his apartment door.

WC-315

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The moss haired female looked visibly surprised, her shoulders pushing back and her chin jutting forward for a half second before she composed herself. "Korai to Kowaii, you like spicy food but you've never been!? All right, then we have to go!" She bubbled up with energy, positive and delightful in nature, the young woman led the way with a broad smile on her pink lips. She was in a good mood after all and the shop was not very far. She led him down the path a ways and said, "How are you feeling? Doctors said they had to heal a small internal wound and your two broken ribs, but that you would feel fine after a few days. Something about how your mind will feel and remember the pain, but your body will have been healed." Takara shrugged lightly. She wasn't sure if he remembered so she felt prompted to explain.

 

"I didn't want you to carry me, you know, but I am thankful for it. You walked the whole way and  as soon as the village gates were in sight you collapsed. I rolled away so I didn't land on you, and I waved and called the medics over. I kept trying to tell them about your ribs, but well.." Taka looked a bit dismayed and her shoulders fell. She still felt guilty that he broke bones while her mild concussion had merely removed her ability to help him when he needed it. She swallowed and tucked her green hair behind her ears as they walked on. She looked up and saw the shop up ahead. "You are okay, aren't you? I mean, you aren't.. angry with me are you?" For once, she didn't care how juvenile the question was. It was honest and she wanted an honest answer. His opinion and his feelings meant something to her and she was prepared to do just about anything to pay him back for his rescue, for the way he saved her life, twice, and probably a third time by carrying her. She imagined she might have been a dead body in the tundra if she had tried to walk on her own. Her eyes flicked back up to the shop and she glanced at him, slowing her speed, wanting the answer before they sat down in a more public appearing forum.

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When they set off to find the curry shop, Rei could tell that Taka was feeling troubled. The moments between their discussions were filled with awkward bits of silence. Not that he minded silence, but it was unlike Taka to be consciously aware of such circumstances. Initially when they set out to find the curry shop, she was full of energy and bubbly with excitement. As they walked though, she talked, explaining to him what had happened after he passed out. He touched his ribs subconsciously as though he was testing if they were repaired or not. "My body is fine. I still feel a bit weird I guess, but it could just be my nerves sending wrong signals to my brain." He removed his hand from his side and continued to walk by Taka's side as she led him towards the curry shop. It was good that she explained to him what had happened. He had wanted to know, but didn't remember enough and felt that asking her would have been embarrassing. She had unwittingly saved him from embarrassment.

 

"It's fine. I knew you might have had mixed feelings about relying on me to bring you back to the village... but head injuries are delicate business. Had you refused my help, I would have had one of my serpents paralyze you to not resist." he would say all too casually. Tact was not one of his strong points, at least not in social situations. Rei knew that Taka was distraught about the whole ordeal even if she was grateful for his help. It was in her eyes, when she looked at him. When she thought on it, her body language revealed how troubled she was. He didn't want to respond right away, in fact he had purposefully not discussed it in length due to not having an appropriate reply for her just yet. Then she asked him directly, if he was mad at her. He interrupted her though, having arrived at the curry shop. "A table for two please. A corner away from others. Sweet tea for me and whatever the lady wants as well" he would say to the waitress who approached them and immediately took down his order of drinks before leading them to a far corner away from most of the other groups.

 

Rei placed his back to the wall, his front facing both exits of the building and every person in between. After sitting down and ensuring that Taka sat as well, he would place his elbows on the table and cradle his chen between his hands. He stared at Taka, more so trying to gauge her current emotion rather than anything. He could use his eyes to tell him a lot about her, but he felt that it was unfair at the moment. After a whole minute of silence, he would speak. "I said a lot of harsh things in the cave. I meant every word of it, but I could have been more understanding." he paused as the waitress would approach with their drinks. He didn't break his pause in speech until he had placed his straw in his glass of sweet tea and began to stir it absently. "I have experience a lot of dark things in my younger days and I get the feeling that you have been sheltered from a lot of the atrocities in the shinobi world. You became a shinobi anyways and that is admirable. But you have a lot to learn still. Not only learn, but become stronger. If we are comparing ability as a shinobi, I would win in a mock battle and even a real battle between us."  he would pause again, this time just a short pause as he would look directly into Taka's eyes to see if she either agreed or disagreed with the harsh statement he had made.

 

"You have an unusual nindo. But if you want to prove me wrong, then you are going to have to become stronger than even me. I'm not mad at you, no, not in the slightest. Just understand that I'm holding you to a tough standard and if you fail my expectations, you might end up like one of those less than fortunate shinobi who disappear in the slums." he said. It was not a threat and in no way malicious. He said it casually while looking her straight in the eyes. He had all but said as much before in the cave when he promised to bite her to death if she betrayed his expectations. He was just clarifying now of how serious he was. If all of this was just a game to her, then she would be the one to run out of lives. With his heavy statement given to the girl, the waitress arrived, ready to take their order. Rei glanced at the menu. He hadn't looked at all, much too focused on the discussion with Taka despite how it might kill the mood. "I'll take your spiciest curry, a plate of fried octopus, a salad... and a small bottle of sake. She will have the same as my order." he would say and then looked at Taka expectantly. If she was going to treat him, then he as going to order as much as he wanted.. but she would have to eat too. It was only fair and polite. He wanted to see if his words had stirred the fires within her enough to truly prove to him that she could take anything he threw at her. More than he was willing to admit, he was unnaturally curious if she could.

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Taka had allowed Rei to take the lead, going with his choice of drink and even agreeing to the meal with silent little nods. But the green haired woman was not completely silent. She made soft sounds as thought, as she bit her, and as she narrowed her eyes. Firstly, she was relieved that he felt physically fine, and the idea was reinforced by his unusual order. Not even her father could order or handle the spiciest curry made in this shop. It's name was derived of the dish Rei had just ordered,  Korai to Kowaii: Spice of Fear or conversely, Fear of Spice. It was no joke and sent even the most gutsy of men crying. It had sent people to the hospital, which is why the kitchen staff had hired a medical training student to stand by for emergency. It had even been rumored to be used in a gang initiation a year or two ago. Taka didn't think Rei knew what he was getting into, but she doubted she could talk him out of it.

 

Taka considered his snakes for a moment, and whether or not he would have used them on her. The snakes had seemed to be interested in attacking so it was likely a true statement, and yet, as hard and cold as he seemed, it only made Taka more concerned for him. Trust was paramount, trust was real strength. Not every shinobi knew that, but it was almost always depicted in the way the teams of shinobi went out and returned successful. Rei wasn't cruel, not to her, but trust and lack of it was going to hold him back. He had significant power, but his downfall would be the very lack of trust, the insistance on independence about him. The lack of trust in a companion would surely bring him down. And that worried her because she liked him, and she owed him her life. Taka wanted to help.

 

She showed no fear to his half-threat of his snakes and when he mentioned her strength, she stiffened somewhat. Taka knew she had farther to go because she was starting later than most genin, but the woman had no concern about getting to where she needed to be with training with the Mizukage and her indomitable constant desire and determination to be an ANBU someday and protect and serve her own sensei in that capacity. It was her goal because she thought it was the best way to protect the ideals that he represented. Despite the edge in her body, annoyance at being called weak again, Taka didn't move to defend herself, because how could she when as of yet he was still right in his assessment. But when he considered a mock or serious battle, her eyebrows pinched together. It was not fear on her face, not anger, but one of determination and one of confidence. Seeing how Rei was being particularly vocal, she kept her reply quiet and let him finish first.

 

When he placed the order, she was not surprised, but she was not dismayed. Filled with the yearning desire to prove that she was stronger than she looked and had more potential in her pinky finger than most of the genin in the village simply because of how much she desired to be an ANBU, Taka nodded slowly. "Korai to Kowaii for me please. No octopus for me, and I would like two bottles of sake." Taka might have been stupid to rise to his challenge and she knew her parents would have cautioned her against it, but life was not about being cautious. She was a risk taker, a fearless adventurous risk taker, and now after 7 years of serving in the sake-house, Taka was going to show it. As the waitress left the table, Taka moved her blue eyes to meet his gaze, a "challenge accepted" look on her face.

 

"You say that I will become like one of those missing shinobi, those jounin I assume you somehow dispatched. You threaten me with your snakes and try to get me to back down on my nindo. Now let me tell you something," Takara said in a steely voice, one which remarked familiarity to the same Taka he had seen outside of the cave before going in. "But hear me, you, that I am not afraid of you. I am not afraid of your snakes. I am not afraid of anything. And while my nindo might change, my title, my dress might change, and for Shinigami's sake I hope my experiences will change me too... while all of those things change, Rei, I will still be the strong one in the end and I will never be broken." Takara had meant this dinner to be a thank you and she worried that her strong words might put him off. She doubted it would put him off enough to refuse an all paid dinner tonight though, and so she looked to him for a response. He had challenged her to be stronger, to prove her nindo, and to eat the most ridiculously painful spicy meal in all of the Water Village as almost a pact to secure her word. And she had not only accepted, but Taka had thoroughly issued him a challenge as well. She was practically daring him to battle, or to some way prove that fear, caution, and cruelty was a better way to be a shinobi than to be led forward by your heart and trusting in your comrades.

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He was glad that she had not interrupted him, not even when he stepped on her pride as a shinobi. He could he cruel and harsh most of the time, but in his own way, he was being kind to her. He had the sense in the back of his head, that she knew it deep down. Begrudgingly, he felt like a charity case to her: a lost sheep with bad ideas that needed to be guided to more wholesome pleasant thoughts. As much as she wanted to prove to him that she could become strong, he wanted to show her that he was a person of iron will. Unbroken and unchanging. Yet even as she spoke, she talked about changing through her experiences and becoming stronger. With his own personal thoughts, she had already defeated him, though he wouldn't openly admit it. If I am so unchanging, then how would I expect to become stronger than I currently am?... he couldn't help but ask himself while he listened to the fiery green haired girl as she challenged him in the most basic of ways. Rei was a strong shinobi, even for a Genin... but his skills and ability were limited. If Taka felt so strongly about her desire to prove him wrong, then her determination would lead her to become stronger than him if he didn't learn to change himself. It was an unpleasant thought: not one that he wished to contemplate on currently.

 

He sat quietly and waited for Taka to finish her declaration of a friendly war. Luckily, he had chosen the corner table in the room just because of this. The two were far enough away from others to cause alarm, but many people still looked up in curiosity to the green haired girl who talked loudly and aggressively to the green haired man. Were they siblings? Were they lovers?

 

After Taka finished speaking, she had returned to a more calm and passive state, probably self-aware that her outburst could ruin the mood for a friendly dinner. No, it would't. Instead, Rei did something again that would probably catch Taka off guard. He laughed. He laughed like he did in the cave, the uncertain tone whether he was happy or if it was the laughter of a villainous character. He didn't care that others saw him, no, he laughed for a good several seconds until the waitress arrived with their food. As the waitress began to serve the dishes on the table. she pulled up a second table and places all the extra dishes on top of it. The medical shinobi standing idly by, watching the green haired man's tense laughter, most likely followed by an embarrassed Taka. He wouldn't eat just at the second, he had something to say. "Bravery is a good start Taka. Fear is for the weak. Stay strong and I look forward to you trying to surpass me." he would say in his typical casual tone and then pour a small glass of sake into his cup and took the whole shot in one gulp. He pursed his lips a little bit, the sake at this place wasn't very tasty.

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Takara sat there stunned, like he might have dumped a glass of water on her instead of bursting into laughter. Again, she was magnetized by the sound. Drawn to it, and yet pushed away at the same time. The depth and the layers of darkness, but the light, soft, and almost hopeful tones were in there as well. It was fascinatingly compelling and she had half a mind to ask a medic to examine his vocal cords. As the food was laid out and both of them started to regain composure, Takara relaxed.

 

She didn't like how he wanted her to aspire to be better than he was, when all she wanted was equality for now. She wanted him to think of her as an equal someday. But as he drank a sip of sake, she arched a brow. She lifted up her cup, and with her other hand she poured the glass to the top. "You don't have to wait long. I can handle sake better than most sailors. I am certain I have already surpassed you in that," Takara said to him in a haughty tone. When it came to the meal, she was terrified and uncertain, though she was damn sure she would do it. But when it came to the sake, she put the cheap muddled liquor to her lips and drank it all down in one go. Taka didn't flinch even a little, giving him an exotic and arrogant grin.

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Well, she could handle her alcohol. That was apparent enough for the green haired man. Truth was, he hardly partook of the stuff himself. He preferred to keep his mind sharp and his senses keen to be wary of danger. So learning that Taka considered herself an expert alcohol drinker, Rei felt a bit insecure about victory over this dinner. Maybe she's a better drinker... but I have a really high tolerance for spicy food! He responded to her arrogant grim with his own soft confident smile as he took a large bite from the spicy curry. He could feel both Taka's and the medic's eyes on him as he took the bite. Four chews into the bite of curry and he could feel his skin tingling. It really was spicy, but then again- he loved that sensation. One bite was nothing to him, this was exactly why he loved spicy food. Two bites, three bites and then he could feel his skin starting to sweat a little. His little grin turned even bigger as he relished the feeling and the challenge. He didn't bother taking another sip of sake. He wanted to show Taka that even if she could hold her alcohol, he didn't need alcohol to chase the spicy food away. "Don't forget that there is more than just sake to have here." he wold taunt her, pointing to the curry as he took a healthy bite of fried octopus, his eyes dancing as he monitored Taka to see just how she fared against the curry. The medic looked at him constantly, both fearful and in wonder. 

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Takara curled her upper lip as she watched him eat. How? That many bites and eve the burliest of customers needed a drink. Even the medic looked confused by his eager eating and more confused by how he could still speak after. Takara poured herself a second cup, drank it down, letting the alcohol numb her mouth and insides for a temporary protective coating. She blinked and set the empty cup down, showing she was two cups in compared to his one sip. Then Taka glanced at her salad, knowing it would be there to save the day, provided the spice did not literally burn a hole through her digestive tract. She pushed her long willow-hair behind her shoulders and then broke apart her chopsticks.

 

For a second, she glanced at the medic who was giving her a "what are you stupid?" look, a warning against what she was about to do. Taka had loved and eaten spicy food since her youth so she knew it would take more than this to stop her. She pulled the curry and rice bowl closer, plucking up a large helping with her chopsticks, easily eating half of what he consumed in one single bold bite. She took a couple more bites, putting her just one bite past him, and she chewed. On the upside, it was delicious and she could taste every flavor like a magical adventure in her mouth.

 

On the downside, her face turned red and beads of sweat gathered on her brow and neck. As she swallowed the last bite, she coughed a little, her whole mouth tingling with sensations. "You forget, I am the one who told you about this place." She felt her throat constrict and locked her jaw to prevent from her from starting up with coughing. She cleared her throat as the spice clung to her mouth and she could feel the tingling turn into  scratching, a more painful feeling.

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He watched her, both intrigued and eager. Curious. Could she eat spicy food just as well as drink alcohol? No, surely not! He watched with a small grin on his mouth as she took one bite after another, followed by another cup of sake. That reassured him a bit. He hadn't taken another drink of the poor quality sake since he started eating. Taka had eaten one more bite than him and was already downing a second cup of sake. At this rate, she would end up drunk and on fire. She was right though, she had more experience at this place... though Rei didn't figure she ate the spiciest curry here regularly. He chuckled a bit as she tried to intimidate him with the "home field advantage" but the truth was, Rei ate spicy food all the time. While he hadn't personally been to this curry shop, he was a frequent customer at many of the other shops closer to the slum. His stomach was much more accustomed to spicy food, even if it did began to burn a bit as he started breathing from eating.

 

All of the spice was circulating through his chest as he breathed more, so he had purposefully slowed down his breathing and began to eat once more. He cleared his throat and denied himself the desire to lick his lips. If he licked his lips, it would be all over.  Licking your lips with such spicy food on your tongue was a good way to burn your lips. He grabbed his chopsticks again and brought his bowl up to his face in a similar manner as Taka did. Except instead of taking bites, he tipped the bowl forward and used the chopsticks to scoop the rest of the whole bowl into his mouth. With an overly full mouth of spicy curry, he smiles at her as though it was his victory- but deep down, he was smiling to keep a tough face. This curry was really spicy and if he kept going on, it was bound to catch up to him. Even if Taka did manage to bet him in eating the spicy food, Rei was already planning ahead. In truth, he saw this as his victory. His stomach was likely more accustomed to eating spicy stuff and so his body would be able to digest it easily. If Taka was not as accustomed to eating spicy food, not only would it not settle on her stomach well, but digesting it and defecating would prove painful with a burning sensation. That thought alone, helped him keep smiling as he chewed thoroughly before swalling the curry and sighing in relief as he looked up at her again with an arched green eyebrow. he plucked from his fried octopus again and quickly finished the whole plate as well. "Do you know the worst part about spicy food?" he would ask and wait for a response. If she hadn't guessed it right, he would enlighten her. "Though you may be able to eat it... if it was that spicy going in. How spicy do you think it will be coming out?" he would ask with a wicked grin on his face.

 

At this point, the medical shinobi was just about to fall over from the crazy situation. Were these friends? Were they competing so badly over something that could send them to the medical ward? He shook his head, wanting to laugh but also very serious about his role in the curry shop. Rei, having finished his curry and octopus first, would place his plate of salad before him. Taka's face was really red and he would tease her as he took tantalizing bites of the salad and made enjoyable sounds. "Sure an glad I finished my other stuff first. Now I can enjoy this nice cool salad~" he would say as he poked at her with temptation.

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Takara tried to maintain a look of nonchalance. Her lips quivered as her mouth burned, her throat ached. She watched him down the whole bowl and her chest had started to burn just watching him. When he made his first comment, the woman looked utterly horrified and repulsed. Talk about not knowing social situations! That sort of topic was never something you brought up at the table, never mind during a meal, never mind to a young woman, never mind to any person ever! Her face betrayed her disgust for a moment, her lips and mouth curling, mouthing the word "ew" but no sound leaving. She coughed a little, poured a third glass of sake, and sipped at it.

 

She had placed her chopsticks down but not retrieved them from the side of her bowl. She gestured at the curry, "Someone who enjoys spicy food takes time to experience the flavor. Shoveling it all in your mouth, Rei, you are a coward!" The way she said it poked more fun at him after he began munching on his salad. She could not deny that she wanted her salad and with her chopsticks she plucked a bite of of lettuce and tomato out to ease and please her tongue. Her eyes closed as the coolness embraced her and she felt momentary rebirth. "Cleansing the palette for more. Like I said, it's my treat to you, so gobble all that salad. But I should tell you, the slower you eat the spice, the easier it is for your body to digest. And the coolness of the salad not only cleanses the palette, it aids in the digestion." The medical nin gave a single half nod; clearly not pleased by their competition, but thankful that the emerald haired woman was not as foolish and audacious as the male.

 

Taka had postponed the curry as long as she could, but her mouth still ached and she had to finish. With her chopsticks and tough talk, she had to now force herself to consume the food as if it were normal every day food. She lifted several bites to her lips, bringing her bowl down to half way and then swallowed thoroughly devastating her throat again. Her stomach didn't feel much of anything, the sake giving her the slight bonus in a slight buzz she had, numbing her pain and encouraging the adventurous nature in her to continue onward. She drank down another sip, raising the sake glass to Rei, and ate two more morsels, hoping she was impressing him so that she could stop eating.

 

WC so far: 3667

Edited by Taka

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