Tatsu sat transfixed by the faint cloud of vapor that wafted up from within the depths of her rather shallow cup of black coffee. The white plume moved around and through her fingers as she danced the digits of her left hand over the air above the cup her thoughts drifting as they often did, At least until the well meaning but unappreciated arrival of her waitress brought her mind back to the present.
“Want me to top you off dear?”
The woman whom had earlier enthusiastically introduced herself as Bunny asked.
Tatsu still mostly caught up in the memories brought on by the ethereal spasms of the coffees escaping heat only raised her hand to wave the woman off. Her father would be appalled at her distinct lack of manners. Or so she assumed she had not seen or heard from the man in many years. Did she still blame him for his part in setting her on the path she found herself on? A matter more for a mind more prone to introspection perhaps. Does it even count as introspection if your mind forces you to dwell?
“Suit yourself honey. Change your mind just me a yell.”
Nodding at this Tatsu then shifts her gaze to the front of the diner a small bell dinging at the entrance of a middle aged man and an energetic young boy wielding a foam sword. Despite herself Tatsu can not help but to smile as the child swings his weapon about wildly with little concern for proper form.
It reminded her of herself and the play she engaged in to gain the attention of Maseo and his brother Takeo. Little tag along Tatsu they often called her, at least before they began to call on her much later in the day. Few girls are ever so blessed as to find a single worthy suitor and Tatsu had found two. How lucky she had felt back then.
Again her mind had drifted her thoughts were so easily pulled down that particular path. Still she found her focus again when the tip of the boys sword swept her coffee cup from the table and on a path of certain destruction toward the floor. Had another sat in her seat perhaps this fate would be unavoidable, Tatsu though simply moves her hand with grace and precision to catch the cup and gingerly place it back on the table top.
“COOL! Dad did you see…”
The boy yells to his distracted father who doesn’t even bother to turn away from the menu he’s buried his head in since sitting at the counter. The boy rolls his eyes but does not look away from Tatsu.
“It didn’t even spill…”
The boy pauses as Tatsu raises a finger to her lips offering the child a small smile. This boy reminded her so of Reiko the more energetic of her twins with his endless enthusiasm for annoying his sister Yuki. Like her father she had not seen either child for many years though unlike him they were never far from her thoughts. Nor was the moment she had last seen them the terror of it had not lessened it’s hold on heart even now even after all this time.
Were she another Tatsu might have found the pain unbearable, she might have let herself be lost to the fires of her past. They had left her for dead amongst the corpses of everything she had held dear her home, her husband and her…
Catching her thoughts again Tatsu turns to look out the diners nearest window letting the sights and sounds of the passing cars take her away. She could not let herself be so distracted she could not be anything but as sharp as the blade she wielded. No sooner had she thought about the sword then she heard the whispers of its victims. For death upon the edge of Tatsu’s blade meant forever being trapped within it. For one such as Tatsu whom the sword had chosen this could be beneficial the dead had much knowledge to offer. For any other it only led to madness.
Thinking back on her life Tatsu could see how some might think she had been driven to madness. Those she had fed to the sword were numerous and she had only just begun to exact her vengeance. But these were troublesome thoughts and she sought to calm the storm her mind had become so Tatsu stands and slowly walks the length of the diner to stand before its aging but still hopefully functional jukebox. Placing a hand on its faded red neon top Tatsu adjusts her view to look over the limited catalog within, her eyes widening as an old favorite jumps out from among the songs.
Using her free hand she fishes a quarter from within the inner pocket of the vintage leather jacket she wore and promptly slides it into the coin slot. A moment passes and the song begins causing Tatsu to close her eyes and just take in the brief joy Patsy Cline could bring her.
“Craaaazy…craazy for feeling…so lonely”
Following along in perfect time Tatsu sang the words and thought of Maseo and his love for the older songs. A love he had imparted to her in particular with Johnny Cash a man she had developed a surprising fondness for. Perhaps one of his would be played next she thought.
As she reached for a second quarter and moved to place it in the slot something bumped her elbow sending it flying to the wall and behind the machine. Uttering a low curse in Japanese she turns to see the young boy standing before her his back turned to her still swinging his sword but now with a bit more purpose. He likely had not even noticed he had bumped her.
“Your form needs work.”
Tatsu says to him having leaned in closer as she did, the boy jumps and turns seeing her he smiles wide. Turning the sword about he holds the weapon out to her grip first. Offering him a small bow she takes the foam sword and takes a step back. The sword being foam and her audience a child she does only a few basic moves which nonetheless delight the boy.
“The key is practice and patience…”
She says to him as she turns back to the jukebox and places another few quarters in the slot. This machine had more then a few old favorites and she would listen to each , then she would resume her path toward Gotham. A last moments respite before vengeance would again consume her. Looking to the child before resuming her oath back to her booth.
“Patience will come with age and I’d not be in a hurry to gain either.”
Offering him a small smile she resumes her path to her booth where she sits and again stares out the window as the next song begins to play. For now she would not think of Yakuza, the Sword Clan or her dead husband no she would only think of the man in Black. And then when the last selection had ended then she would move toward the next name on her list.
“Bunny. More coffee please.”