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Learned: Essence of Wingmanning

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Rina opened the door to Club SHINE and walked in. Her break was over. She didn’t expect to find her manager, standing before her. 

“Rina? I know you just got back, but I’m telling all the girls this. There’s this guy, here. He’s a Tojo Clan patriarch and–”

Rina tilted her head. “Don’t we have yakuza customers pretty often? Think I had one myself just last week.”

“You don’t understand. He’s not here as a customer. He’s- listen. Let’s just say he paid the owner a lot of money. He’s gonna be a hostess here. Just for tonight. I don’t know a lot of the details, and frankly – I don’t want to, but. I’m giving all the girls the option to take the rest of the night off. And if you do decide to keep working, just stay out of his way, alright? We don’t want any trouble.” 

“And he’s here right now?” 

“Yeah. He’s getting ready in the back.” 

Rina nodded. “Gotcha. Thanks, boss!” She headed to the back room anyway. Like hell she was gonna go home. Yakuza patriarch hostess ? If nothing else, she was curious. And she wasn’t gonna let some crime boss ruin tonight’s paycheck. She needed the cash. In a few days she was gonna ask out that cute girl who always seemed to be in her favorite coffee shop at the same time, so she had to be prepared to pay for her food! If she said yes. But why wouldn’t she? 

Rina entered the back room, cautious. Sitting in one of the makeup chairs was– well. Yakuza patriarch hostess described the look pretty perfectly. The guy stared back at her with one eye, his left covered by an eyepatch. His strapless, metallic pink, snakeskin print dress revealed his elaborately tattooed shoulders. Black fishnets. Cheap-looking blonde wig. Looked like he’d just gotten the hot pink stilettos on. She knew the boss had said not to get in his way, but the poor guy looked lost

“Hey, welcome to Club SHINE! My name’s Rina,” she said. Nothing wrong with a little friendly conversation between hostesses, right?

He seemed to relax a little. “Hi, Rina. My name’s Majima. Or, well. Tonight I’m Goromi.” 

“Goromi? That’s a pretty name!” 

“Hah, ya think so?” 

“Yeah!” Rina chirped back, “Hey, you want me to help you out with makeup? You got these gorgeous cheekbones that are just itching for blush!” 

Goromi smiled. “Sure thing, doll!” 

Rina started right away with the makeup. This Goromi had that kinda face that could be drop-dead gorgeous on a lady or stunningly handsome on a guy, in that intriguing androgynous kind of way, facial hair notwithstanding. She’d dated a girl like that once. Beautiful, rare type of lady that guys really never gave enough credit. 

“You’ve got a really interesting style. Very… ‘80s bubble era kinda feel,” she remarked, applying foundation. She wouldn’t have even known where to come by a dress like that outside of a vintage store. It was kind of tacky, if she was being honest. But she also figured that might be the point.

“It’s inspired by someone I knew back in the day. Real cool gal. Quirky, though. I hear she does furry manga now.”

That was a sentence , alright. “Back in the – hold up. How old are you?” Rina asked. Didn’t look 40! 

Goromi grinned. “A lady doesn’t reveal her age.” 

“Alright, alright,” Rina shifted gears. “What kind of look are you going for with the makeup? And- oh– before I forget, would you like to be referred to as she right now?” 

“Yeah, that’d be great,” Goromi said, a little surprised, “And as for the makeup, nothin’ too dramatic. If that makes sense? I’m okay with flashy but. I ain’t tryin’ to hide my face from him or nothin’. Goromi’s face is…” she took a thoughtful pause, “this one, but just presented a little different, ya get me?” 

She nodded. “I gotcha! Wait a second, though. Who’s him?  You all dolled up for a special guy?” Look. Chances were, if she was getting all dressed up like this, she was like her. 

Goromi looked to the side. “Guess ya could say that. Kiryu-chan’s… special, for sure.” 

“Hold on. Kiryu?” Could it be? He was ex-yakuza after all. “He tall and handsome? Big, threatening eyebrows over the kindest eyes? Suit straight out of an old crime drama movie?”

“Sounds like him, alright. Ya know him?”

“Yeah! He's one of my favorite customers!” 

“Huh. I wouldn't have pegged him as someone who'd frequent a place like this.” 

“That's exactly why he's my favorite, though. He's not like most of the guys who come in here. For one, most guys don't request me again after I tell them the truth about myself. But I just can't bring myself to lie about that kind of thing!”

“Ya got some kinda secret, Rina-chan?” 

“It's not really a secret! But I like girls! Not guys!” 

Goromi smiled. “Ah! Actually, the top girl at the cabaret club I used to manage back in the '80s was like that too… Helped her figure that out, believe it or not.”

Rina giggled. “Dating you was that bad?” 

Goromi feigned offense. “Hey! It ain't like that at all! I wouldn't date my gals! It's been a real long time since I've seen any of them, though. I miss ‘em, to be honest.”

“Didn't mean to imply anything about you! Sorry if I made you sad.”

“Oh, no! I figured you were just teasin’. And I ain't sad. Just, nostalgic I guess."

“The good ol’ days?” 

“More like the only good part of the bad ol’ days, but who's keeping track anymore?” Goromi sighed. 

Rina changed subjects again. One of the best tools in her hostess arsenal, if she had to be honest. “Yknow, Kiryu-san really doesn't seem like he comes here to feel like he has a chance with the girls. It always feels like he just wants to have a nice talk.” Rina gave her a sly smile, “You gonna test Kiryu-san's gentlemanly resolve?”

“Oh, no, no, ya got me all wrong here.” 

“Oh? So your intentions are more pure? Gonna have a nice date with your Kiryu-chan?” Rina inflected Goromi’s accent a little on that last word. 

“Now, hold yer horses. This ain’t as sweet as ya think. I ain’t after the man’s heart. I’m after his fists.” 

Rina raised her eyebrows. Damn.

“I meant like a fistfight. Christ. Ya got a dirty mind for a little lady.” 

Rina giggled. “I’m only teasing! But I don’t really follow. How does a fight play into this?” 

“Well, see, it ain’t important why . But I’ve been tricking him into fightin’ me all over town. And the plan for tonight is, he’s gonna come over here ‘n’ be mad at me for trickin’ him into thinkin’ he was gonna get to sit down with a hostess. So he’ll fight me.” 

“But isn’t that what you are tonight, Goromi-san? A hostess?” 

Goromi rolled her eye. “I appreciate your support but I guarantee ya that ain’t what Kiryu-chan’s gonna see standin’ in front of him. He’s gonna see the most annoyin’ guy in Kamurocho in an unflatterin’ dress and a cheap wig.” 

“And you really think he’s gonna be so mad he wants to punch you? That’s not the Kiryu-san I know.” They sat in silence for a moment. “And I have a sneaking suspicion it’s not the Kiryu-san you know either. You can tell yourself whatever you want, but you know what I think? I think it takes a lot of trust to show someone this side of yourself.” 

“Pity more dudes don’t come in here and request ya, ‘cause I gotta say, ya got the whole readin’ people thing down to a T.” 

“It’s easier when we have something in common!” Rina stepped back to admire her work. Pink was the name of the game– eyeshadow, lipstick, and blush all to match her dress. Pretty good if she said so herself. And Goromi seemed miles more comfortable than when Rina first walked in. Good. Moving right along.

“Goromi-san? Could I make a suggestion? For this look?” 


“I have the most perfect acrylic nails in mind– pink with little sakura blossoms. It would be a crime not to with fingers like yours.”

“Knock yerself out, kid,” 

When Rina returned with the nail kit she felt Goromi’s eye on her. “Can I ask somethin’?” she said, softly. 


“Has Kiryu-chan ever talked about–” her voice faltered trying to find the right words, “–an annoyin’ fight goblin? A guy who just can’t get enough street fightin’ with him?” 

Oh. “I’m sorry, Goromi-san. Kiryu-san hasn’t mentioned you yet, that I know of.”

Rina felt Goromi’s pang of disappointment like it was her own, watching her deflate. Maybe she should’ve just lied. But it wouldn’t feel right, lying to her, especially not after how much trust they’d built in a few short minutes. 

“Hey, don’t feel too down! I’m sure he’s on the verge of telling me all about you! Come to think of it, he has seemed like he’s been sitting on something that he’s not ready to talk about yet.” 

“He’s got a lot goin’ on right now. But I guess ya could be right.” She presented her hand to receive the acrylics with surprising grace and daintiness for someone whose day job was being a yakuza patriarch. 

For someone who hadn’t been able to sit still the entire time she’d been in the chair, Goromi managed to hold together and make applying the nails pretty easy. 

“You ever get acrylics done before?” Rina asked.

“Yeah, once. Back in the ‘80s. Long time ago but right about now, it feels like it was yesterday.” 

The nails really completed the look. “Okay!” Rina said, “The nails should be all dry by now! Just try not to do anything too crazy with ‘em, okay?” 

Goromi smiled. “No promises.” 

Someone knocked on the door. “Come in,” Goromi said. 

It was the manager. “Sir– uh, Ma–jima-san. Kiryu-san is waiting in front.” 

Goromi beamed and stood up with a flourish. “Excellent. Tell him I’ll be right out.” 

“Of course.” He bowed and left. 

Rina watched her check herself out in the mirror, that old confidence returning in bounds. 

“Remember, Kiryu-san is expecting me out there. I trust you to do me proud as a replacement. And you look stunning. Bet Kiryu-san’s gonna be all flustered!” 

Rina could detect a hint of natural blush under Goromi’s makeup. “You're flatterin’ me. My game ain’t that strong.” 

“Go gettem, girl! Unleash the dragon! ” Rina replied, giggling. 

“Hah. You have a nice night, Rina-chan. Thanks for everythin’.” And with that, the most unique hostess Rina had ever seen was gone. 


Rina sat down to join Kiryu at their usual table. He seemed a bit dazed and there were visible bruises on his face. His cheek looked like he’d hastily wiped blood off of it.

“Oh, hello Rina. You’re here,” he said, looking up.

“Of course I am! You look rough . Like, rougher than normal.” That ugly suit he insisted on always wearing was smudged with dirt. “Are you hurt? In danger? Are you sure you should be here?” Maybe those were questions she shouldn’t ask an ex-yakuza, but he was her best customer! He deserved concern and care. 

Kiryu took a deep breath. “I’m fine.” 

“What happened, Kiryu-san?” She paused for a moment. “You don’t have to tell me if it’s some dangerous yakuza thing.” 

“It’s not that… it’s Majima-san. He attacked me again on my way here. And he was way tougher than the last time we fought. Wait– Have I told you about Majima-san?” 

Rina shook her head. “I don’t think so!” 

Kiryu sighed. “ Oi oi… How does one even begin to explain Majima-san?” He took a thoughtful pause. “He’s my aniki from back before I went to prison. Before I went in, he seemed really fixated on getting into a fight with me, for some reason. And he didn’t forget, even after ten years. And now… I’d almost say he’s obsessed with fighting me? He keeps saying he wants me to be at my former Dragon of Dojima glory because prison made me weak.

“Which I might sort of understand if he just wanted me to train with him, but it’s not really like that. I have to always be vigilant on the streets because he could ambush me at any time. He even hides in trash cans. But the ambushing isn’t even enough for him.” 

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“Well, he seems to take great pleasure in tricking me into fights. He’s posed as a police officer, and a bartender, among other things, just to try and trick me. It’s annoying. Although, honestly it’s impressive.” 

“What else has he posed as?” 

Kiryu’s eyes went to the table. “He... ah... Threw me a welcome back party.” 

“But that sounds nice!”

“In theory, yeah. One of the only people who gave a shit about me coming back. But in practice… He… Y’know Asia?” 

“The strip club down on Pink Street? Yeah, I have a few friends who work there.” 

“He… ah... Rented out the entire club for my ‘party.’” 

Rina could just see it. Kiryu-san, flushed red as his shirt, stammering, while Majima clapped him on the back and tried to get him to throw money at the dancers. Too good for this world. “Not your kinda scene, huh?” 

“No, but especially not… um… see… There weren’t any girls… just Majima-san.” 

Holy shit. “Did he perform for you?” 

Kiryu couldn’t make eye contact even if he wanted to. “Y-yeah.” 

Rina couldn’t help but giggle. “How was he?”

Kiryu’s eyes were huge and his voice was indignant. “It wasn’t like that. He didn’t take his clothes off or anything–” 

“Disappointing, huh?” 

“No! Who would want to see that?” 

“I dunno. If he’s fighting you every single day he probably keeps in pretty good shape, doesn’t he?” 

“He is quite the excellent fighter, and I admire that about him. I actually had a really good time fighting him that night. I felt very connected to him, physically and spiritually, when we fought.” 

“What?” Men are so weird. 

“It was like the thing he said about being able to touch the dancers all I want clicked. It was what I was meant to do.” 

“Wait. Hold on a second. He said that? Majima said ‘you can touch the dancers all you want? Referring to him?” 

Kiryu nodded. “Yeah. It was gross, and I told him I wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole.” 

“But then you did?” 

“Well, yeah. We fought because he insisted that I didn’t appreciate his ‘entertainment’ enough. Which was part of the scheme to fight me, obviously.” 

“And what was that you were saying about connecting physically and spiritually to him?” 

Kiryu sipped his drink and put it down with a distinct clink . He looked up with that Kiryu intensity of his in his eyes. "I don’t mean any offense to you when I say this, but I think it’s something a woman can’t really understand. When two men come together in the throes of combat our bodies share a special bond.” The look on her face must have been too apparent, because he added, “It’s- it’s hard to explain, okay?” 

“And this happens with everyone you fight or–?” 

“Just Majima. He’s– if I’ll be honest– he’s incredible. He moves so fast a good quarter of the time I barely know what he’s up to. As irritating as it is to be constantly on the lookout, learning the ins and outs of his style is… thrilling .” 

“So… Kiryu-san. Remember our talk the other day? When you said it would be nice to be pursued for a change?” 

“Yeah. I– no. This isn’t–” 

“Isn’t it? Isn’t that exactly what Majima is doing? He’s literally chasing you.” 

Kiryu’s brow furrowed more than normal. “He’s flirting with me to make me mad.” 

“Does it make you mad that he’s flirting with you?” 

“Yes.” His stern expression didn’t waver. “I think it’s messed up to do that to someone. People should be honest with one another.” 

“But in order to be honest with other people, you have to be honest with yourself first, wouldn’t you say, Kiryu-san?” 

“What do you mean?” 

“How do you think Majima feels about you? Genuinely.” 

“Majima’s hard to read. It’s his whole thing. I think… It’s a game to him.” He paused to stare into his drink. “But sometimes, I’m not sure. Like, I’m pretty sure he’s hiding things for me in places he knows I’ll look. Energy drinks, weapons. Maybe his game is too advanced for me.” 

“Or maybe he likes you, Kiryu-san.” 

Kiryu shook his head. “If he likes me then why the hell did he kidnap my niece?” 

“Hold up a second. What?”

“She’s not… quite my niece but it’s close enough and I’ve been taking care of her.” 

“I mean the kidnapped part.” 

“Oh. Yeah. He kidnapped Haruka and made me come fight him in the batting cages to get her back. And then, uh, he got stabbed for me?” 

Stabbed!? ” 

Kiryu’s voice remained deadpan like it was nothing. “After we fought, one of his men came at me with a knife and he stepped in front of me and got stabbed instead. He yelled something about being the only one allowed to kill me. Why would he want to kill me if he likes me?” 

“He’s the only one allowed to kill you? That sounds like a line from a manga . Holy crap, Kiryu-san.” 

Oi oi … You might be right. My life has felt like a weird fighting manga lately.” 

“No, like a manga where the two rival yakuzas fall in love.” 

Kiryu stared back at her with huge eyes. “ What? ” 

“Does that sound like a man who wants to kill you? Are you sure you guys aren’t yakuza married now? It kinda sounds like that’s what happened at the batting cages.” 

“Yakuza married?” Kiryu looked bewildered. 

“I don’t know how it works! You guys have all kinds of weird rituals… I dunno, maybe you have to cut off your ring finger if you break your vows to your yakuza-betrothed, or something!” 

“What kind of manga do you read, Rina-chan…”

“The kind where the fighty guys kiss at the end!” 

“But I thought you weren’t into guys?” 

She smiled. “I don’t read them because I’m into the guys! I read them because I love the stories… Overcoming all the obstacles to find love. It’s sweet and inspiring even if being a hostess who likes girls isn’t the same thing.”  

Kiryu took a thoughtful pause. “I guess gender doesn’t always matter when it comes to true love.” 

Rina smirked. Getting somewhere. 

Kiryu furrowed his brow again. “What? Why are you looking at me like that?” 

“Does it matter to you , Kiryu-san?” 

“What do you mean?” 

“What if Majima were, say, a hostess… Blonde… legs for days… looks great in pink?” she asked, giggling. 

Color crept into Kiryu’s cheeks. “You’ve met Goromi?” 

“Met? I did her makeup! My boss lied to you, I was in that night. But I’m not one to stand in another girl’s way when I can see her pure heart so clearly…” 

Kiryu flushed deeper. “Do you really mean that?” 

“Of course! Call it a woman’s intuition.” 

He looked at the table. “If you see her again.. Could you tell her I’m sorry for what I said?” 

“What happened?”

“Well. I had a really good evening. It felt like Goromi… and I… really connected, like she wasn’t afraid of just talking and opening up the way Majima-san might be. And I felt – no offense to you – at ease with her… more than with most women. But I screwed it all up. Everything was moving too quickly at the end…” He fidgeted with his glass.  “She was suggesting moving to a … uh... second location and I panicked and I… hurt her. I must have. I said I wouldn’t go with her and that... she wasn’t even a girl, and then she fought me on behalf of all hostesses, for leading her on. And it was a great fight. But I can’t help but think of how disrespectful that was of me.” 

“Kiryu-san… You said you see Majima all the time, right? Couldn’t you just tell him that next time you see him?” 

“I could, but it doesn’t feel the same. Regular Majima would brush it off. Maybe even laugh at me. But also I know that I don’t deserve to see her again, not after that.” 

“Don’t be so hard on yourself, Kiryu-san! I’m sure once he understands what happened and how you didn’t really mean that, you’ll be okay!” 

“I guess so.” Kiryu finished his drink and stared into the middle distance. “I just hope I get another chance to really talk with him again. I… um…” He ran his finger idly around the rim of his glass. “... thought about what you said about being honest with myself about this and, I’d say that sometimes I worry about him. Does he sleep? Does he eat? One time he ambushed me in line at Smile Burger and after we fought he left without eating…” 

“Maybe pick him up a bento! And if he won’t eat it, you can give it to your niece!”

“Hrm… That’s a good plan.” 

“How is she, by the way?” 

A softness Rina had never seen before crossed Kiryu’s expression. “Haruka… She’s so smart. Smarter than me, definitely. And so strong... “ he trailed off. “I just hope that, soon, we’ll find her mom, and she won’t have to be strong all the time.” 

Rina patted his hand. “I’m sure you will! It sounds like you’re really doing your best for her, and that’s what matters.” 

She’d lost track of time listening to Kiryu and didn’t see the manager standing next to the table with the check. 

“Oh, sorry, I guess our time’s up now! Do me a favor, Kiryu-san, and keep being honest with yourself about all the stuff we talked about! You can’t go wrong following your own truth.” 


Requested, again? It wasn’t like Kiryu to come back again so soon. She supposed it could be a new regular. She made her way to the table and found her eyes immediately assaulted with this guy’s getup . This guy made Kiryu look well-dressed! Snakeskin blazer. No shirt. Leather pants. Bowl cut. Eyepatch over his left eye. Wait– hold on.

“Rina-chan? Do ya remember me?” he said.

Kansai accent. Yup. Definitely. “Goromi-san?” 

He grinned. “Yeah! But right now I’m just Majima, alright?” 

“What brings you back to Club SHINE, Majima-san?” 

“I’m here to order the most absurdly expensive drinks so your earnings’re way up as a thanks for everything ya did back when I was here on the other side of the table.” 

He sent a waiter off to fetch them the fancy champagne. He must have picked up her grimace when she first walked in. “Sorry to break it to ya that Goro ain’t got a much better fashion sense than Goromi,” he said, chuckling. 

Rina shook her head. “You really stick to the snakes theme, huh?” 

“‘Course I do! They’re beautiful animals and they got a whole lot of meanin’.” 

“Well, Majima-san, last time you were here you got me thinking… If I had to get a tattoo I’d want something cute like a bunny! Snakes are scary.” 

“That’s nonsense! They’re pretty ‘n’ smooth ‘n’ they got cute puppy faces!” 

Rina squinted and tilted her head. “Puppy faces?”

“Yeah! Lemme show ya!” He produced a cell phone from inside his jacket and flipped it open. He tapped away at the keypad and then he turned it around to show her. “Ya can’t look me in the eye and tell me this little guy ain’t a little cute.” 

Rina could see what he meant. The snake in the picture looked almost friendly. If she didn’t know better she’d say it was smiling. A far cry from the one threatening to strike from inside Majima’s jacket. “I guess so. I still wouldn’t want to run into one.” 

“Fair enough! So. Any interestin’ customers come in here recently? One of my favorite parts of managin’ the old club was sittin down with Yuki while she ranted about the weird customers that came in.” 

Rina inhaled. “Well, Kiryu-san came back.” 

Majima perked up, as much as someone who came in with such high energy already could. “Oh?” 

“And he mentioned you this time. We actually had quite the talk.” 

He sipped his drink. His eye got shifty. “Hope he wasn’t too harsh.” 

No, but I’m about to be. Rina slammed her hands down on the table and leaned in. “Majima-san. You are giving poor Kiryu-san some serious mixed signals! He doesn’t deserve that! He’s sitting here trying to figure out if this is all a game to you, and I don’t blame him!” 


“I’m not done . That man has as pure a heart as I’ve seen and you will do right by him.” She realized she must be raising her voice because a waiter made his way over, staring daggers at Majima. 

“Is he causing you trouble?” he asked.

“Oh, no, no. I got a little… excited. Sorry about that. But now that you’re here. Why don’t you bring us some sake?” The waiter nodded and was off. She turned to Majima. “That’s part of yakuza oaths right? I’m gonna make you swear on it.” 

Majima snorted. “You’re for real about this, huh?” 

“Of course I am! Gonna make you pinky promise but you gotta cut off your pinky if you break Kiryu-san’s heart! IT’S THE YAKUZA WAY. Or something. I’m not entirely sure how this stuff works, or what the hell you were doing kidnapping his niece, apparently but–” 

Majima sighed and cut in. “That was a little complicated. I was operatin’ on orders from the boss, but I made sure she wouldn’t get hurt. I knew Kiryu-chan would come ‘n’ get her faster than a pussycat on a hot tin roof.”

“Then why don’t you tell him anything? He’s giving you so much benefit of the doubt considering how little you’re telling him.” 

His voice was quiet. “It’s a whole mess. I’m tryin’ to protect him. What he doesn’t know can’t hurt him, yknow?” 

“Which applies to whatever yakuza nonsense you’re up to but you know that’s not what I’m getting at.” 

Majima clanked his glass down and avoided her gaze. “No way Kiryu-chan feels the same way back.”

“What if I told you he was in here getting blushy and stammering over the connection he felt with Goromi?” 

“He did not. You’re yankin’ my chain, Rina.” 

“Could I yank chains at a time like this? With someone as pure as Kiryu-san on the line figuring himself out for the first time? And betray my role as gay mentor? NOT A CHANCE, MAJIMA-SAN.” 

“But… He was only playing along with Goromi. And it all came apart at the end. Which I get. I didn’t expect anything more.” 

Rina stopped herself from grabbing him by the snakey collar. “Only because he panicked because everything was moving too fast. You should’ve seen him in here! Going on about how he didn’t mean what he said and how he didn’t deserve to see Goromi again, not after that disrespect.” 

Majima put his face in his hands. “What the fuck. He’s too good .” 

“He sure is,” she said, resisting the urge to pat him on his weird head. 

“That’s the thing, though. Kiryu-chan deserves better .” 

“Then be better,” she said. “And why not start by taking things slow with the poor guy? He’s old-fashioned. All gentleman-like. You can’t tell me the prospect of him taking you out and treating you right doesn’t sound at least a little nice. We both know you’re only pushing him to make him uncomfortable on purpose to run away from what’s going on.” 

“Christ, kid. I came in here to thank ya, not get gutted like a fuckin’ fish.” 

Rina smirked. “Consider it a favor.” 

The waiter returned with the sake. Rina poured two cups and slid one in front of Majima. 

“Okay, Majima-san, repeat after me.” 

“We’re not seriously doing this.”

“Repeat. After. Me. Majima-san.” 

He sighed and shook his head. “Repeat. After. Me. Majima-san,” he said.

Being a smartass was better than not playing along at all. “I– hold on a second, what’s your given name?” 

“Goro,” he replied.

“Alright. I, Goro Majima, do solemnly swear,” she began.

“I, Goro Majima, do solemnly swear,” he repeated.

“To do right by Kiryu, whatever happens. To treat him how he deserves,” she continued as he dutifully repeated each line.

Now for the real shit . “Cross my heart, hope to die–” Somehow ‘stick a needle in my eye’ seemed a little insensitive to a guy like Majima. “–Kiryu is a special guy,” she finished. 

Was that a tiny smile she detected on that last line? Good. “Now we drink and seal the oath, ” she said, bringing her cup to her lips. Majima did the same. 

“You're real special, ya know that?” he said, setting down his cup, laughing quietly.

“Of course I do. I’m the real special girl who’s gonna hunt you down if you break Kiryu-san’s heart.” 

“Goddammit, I come here to pay ya back and somehow ya make it so I owe you another one?” 

“Don’t worry about it. Just worry about him. The way I know he worries about you.” 

Majima would probably try to say the color in his face was from the sake if pressed, but Rina knew better. Her work here was done.