Jasmine of the Black Lagoon

Chapter Ten

This morning when Airi handed each member of the Lagoon Company a short stack of pancakes, Rio nearly spat coffee all over them "what?!" he yelled standing up suddenly, hands banging against the kitchen table. Dutch sat back, eyeing the maroon haired man across the table as Rio stiffened with rage "I have to work on the boat all day, and Benny's going to be busy with the electronics'. You need to let Jasmine out into the world sometime, besides, many are curious about the women you've claimed; and our newest employee since she isn't a native to the area". Both men turned to glance at the women in question, she had her back turned to them and was humming quietly doing the dishes in the sink across the kitchen, probably not even listening to their conversation. Dutch lifted a fork to his mouth, satisfied that considering Airi couldn't hold a gun, she at least was a valuable member of their team by feeding them, handling public relations and good at paper work, something the rest of them lacked almost completely. "That's what I'm worried about" Rio growled, his spiky maroon hair almost seeming to stand on end. Rio knew of the rumours, but after seeing that scar-faced bastard Balalaika seemed to be drawn to her as well he wasn't risking the chance that she had that effect on the other inhabitant's of Roanopurar.

"That's not my problem. It's got nothing to do with me or the job. Start in this neighbourhood. First head to Roan 'Jackpot' Pigeon's place on Rachiada Street" Dutch grinned as Rio bristled at the name, hissing he pushed away from the table, stomping over to Airi and lifting her a foot off the ground and started carrying her towards their room. "Wh..? Rio? What's wrong? Where are we going? Rio?!" Airi cried out in surprise, soap suds still covering her arms as he carried her past the kitchen table, where Benny and Dutch watched amused, and into their room.

Sitting her on the bed Rio turned his back on her and walked towards his closet, falling to his knees and riffling through the debris "Dutch is sending us on an errand". Airi stared wide eyed at his back, from the way he growled his reply he didn't sound very happy "and that's a bad thing because...?". He paused, lifting his Cutlass and stuffing bullet clips into his pockets "Because the people of this town are filth, and you, you shine like a light in a coal mine. They'll flock to you. Try to take you from me". Airi shivered from his snarl of rage, standing she hesitated for a moment before touching his shoulder, stiffening when he suddenly turned on his heel and buried his face into her stomach, his arm's going tight around her back. The Japanese women didn't move for a moment, taken aback, before one arm went around his shoulder and a hand threaded through some of his hair "you know it wouldn't be by choice".

Rio growled, it slightly muffled since his face was pressed tight against the white cotton dress she wore "yeah," he paused for a moment, snarling lowly "nobody will ever fucking take you from me, willing or otherwise". Airi frowned hearing the double-edged threat in his voice, slightly concerned by the undercurrent of chaos in his words. The maroon haired man pulled back slightly, and bending he softly brushed his lips against her knee, his hand's clipping an anklet on her left leg. Standing up he watched her, astounded by the ecstasy he received from her simple happiness as her eyes widened in surprised and she gave him a heart-warmingly genuine smile.

Airi sat on the bed, lifting her leg up to get a better look at the silver chain. She could tell the links were real silver, and the clasp was a gun, remarkably like Rio's Cutlass, and a silver wolf the size of five cent piece. Grinning up at him she tugged him forwards by his hand, pulling him to her until he was standing between her thighs. He smirked bending down to her level while she cupped his face and kissed him sweetly, laughing when Rio pushed her onto her back and lay down on their bed between her legs. One arm went under her head while his other hand reached up and lightly traced her lips "you like it then?". Airi smiled at him, noticing the almost insecure hesitation in his under tone she pulled him down to her lips again by the back of his neck "I love it".

Soon after Rio walked with his arm around Airi's shoulders into a strip club. Rio glared at anyone that so much as looked at them, Airi huddling into his side slightly as some of the patrons' eye's undressed her even though she was sure out of all the women there she was wearing the most clothes. She still had on her white cotton dress but with black tights' that went to her knees and another one of Rio's black dress shirts covering her arms. Rio stopped in front of a laughing afro haired man sitting with his arms around two scantly glad girls "welcome sweet Jasmine of the Black Lagoon and Rio Two-Hands! And here I thought I'd never get the chance to meet the newest employee of the Lagoon Company you've been hiding away!".

Rio scowled at him, not even bothering to look at the girls. Even before he meet Airi Rio had never had an interest in women, for sex or otherwise. Now, in the risk of sounding superstitious, he guessed he's been waiting for her all along. "Fuck off will you Roan! The only reason I'm here is because of my job!" Rio said, snarling when a man came to close to Airi and his hand twitched towards his Cutlass before he backed away from her. "Well you haven't changed. So, what brings you fine young people here today?" Roan said, hand rubbing one of the girl's shoulders almost nervously. Airi was silent as she handed Rio a piece of paper "you ordered booze for this place right? We've got fifteen hundred bottles for ya, they're in warehouse five at the harbour".

"Now this is what I'm talking about! What?! Tax sure has sure gone up on these, it's killing me, how's a brother supposed to make a dime? Shit!" Roan said, making Rio scowl in disgust. Shaking his head he involved Airi into the conversation "looks like you're in for a rough ride, girly. You ever need anything, don't be shy. Hell I would give you a job in two seconds...". Rio sneered at the afro haired man, ushering Airi towards the door "shut your mouth Roan, she doesn't need to hear that shit from you! Don't forget about the money alright?!".

Next was Hotel Moscow and Rio and Airi both looked disgusted as they stood behind a completely miserable looking Balalaika as he edited amateur porn movies. "So the shipment's going to be late is it? You could have told me that over the phone instead you came all the way here? Makes no difference I gotta finish fifteen of these today so I won't be getting out of here anytime soon. Yep, I shoulda gotten a part-timer to do it. I'm seriously losing my mind. I have a meeting tonight too; another idiot's selling drugs without permission again. Oh if you guys hear anything about that I'd love it if you let me know, I'll thank you properly. Maybe take you out to dinner Jasmine, show you that not all Roanopurar is about gun battles and death" Balalaika didn't even have the energy to make his taunt even remotely serious sounding, yet Rio knew from the way he glanced at Airi out of the corner of his eye that he was telling the truth.

Airi looked very uncomfortable as the women on the screen's cries grew louder, her cheeks had a slight pinkish hue and uneasy himself Rio put an arm around her back "yeah, if we hear anything, I'm sure we'll be back pretty soon. I'll skip on the taking me out to dinner part though" Airi's shoulders shuddered slightly "good luck with the rest" she added hesitantly. The Russian Mobster sighed in pain "somebody shoot me" not impressed at all by the videos.

Lastly on their list Rio and Airi came to the Rip-Off Church, standing next to the Lagoon Companies car she watched Rio bang loudly on the chapel doors "hey you old bitch! It's Rio from the Lagoon Company! Open this fucking door you old skank! Hello?!". Airi raised an eyebrow as a parrot nearby copied what Rio was saying, laughing to herself when Rio squinted his eyes at it like he was planning on shooting it for its insolence. "You've always been too damn loud" a voice said from the side, a priest with purple sunglasses chewing gum loudly yelled at him, he lowered his glasses seeing the maroon haired man wasn't alone while Airi just bowed slightly to him in greeting. "Just put those in the shed for now" the priest continued to someone behind him, and Airi tilted her head when a unsure voice replied "but these are clean items, are you sure that's where you want them?".

The priest popped his gun loudly "it's okay, it's what the Sister wanted". Airi's eye twitch when she saw this man too had a shoulder holster and a gun. "Hey! Two-Hands! That's the chapel. I can't let your kind walk through there, over here" he said pointing his thumb to the building behind him. Airi waited till Rio stalked to her side before following the blonde priest.

Inside Airi and Rio sat on a couch side-by-side while across from them an elderly nun sat with the priest who showed them in standing behind her back; face blank. "Oh my, this certainly is a surprise. I'd never thought I'd see the day when Dutchy-Boy would send you on an errand" the elderly Sister with an eye patch over her right eye said with quiet humour. Rio scowled at her, slumping in his seat but he never lost sight of any of the occupants in the room "that's none of your business. Why don't you tell us if you got the good's we ordered, Sister?" he asked mockingly.

"Right, new items from Eastern Europe arriving by way of Cambodia. All but one item. Unfortunately we're still waiting to receive the armoured thirty-seven grenade launcher you ordered" Rio narrowed his eyes at her, Airi going still hearing the chaos in his words "now don't kid around, Sister. The reason we ordered everything through you is because we need all of those items for the next job". The elderly Sister sighed "well frankly we do have the item it's just that a different customer is saying they need it immediately. I'm sure you can see my dilemma here" she continued on after a pause "however, Lagoon is a good customer so I wouldn't mind handing it over to you despite the inconvenience. But I'd like a better deal for us or a discount on your services".

Rio leant back in his seat; seeing Airi tense out of the corner of his eye he said harshly "don't fuck with us, Sister. Why don't you do the smart thing and play this one by the book? So everyone will be happy" he touched his Cutlass "you wouldn't wonna count your money with your feet would ya?". The nun across from them lifted a tea cup to her lips "I wouldn't make idle threats if I was you, young Rio. If you insist why don't you bring Dutchy-Boy around?". Growling Rio stood, his Cutlass pointing at the purple priest as he also pulled his gun out. "That's all I have to say, there's nothing before or after" the nun continued like nothing had happened. Rio growled, trying to hide his desperation on making sure Airi didn't get involved "step off Edo, you limp-wristed bastard". The priest identified as Edo wasn't even popping his gum anymore "let's see how much you talk with a hole in your head".

The room was deathly quiet as Airi lifted her tea cup and took a sip "this is very good tea Sister..Sister..?". The elderly nun blinked at her seeming to come out of a daze "It's Sister Yolanda, young lady". Airi smiled softly while they both ignored the gunmen still aiming at each other "it's been a very long time since I've had tea that wasn't from a tea bag. Is this W&N, or perhaps this is Fortnum and Mason?". The nun looked impressed "my your very knowledgeable aren't you? Your right this is W&M, there's nothing nicer then a good cup of tea". Airi smiled obligingly "yes, it takes a company with that kind of history and dedication to deliver such flavour without fail. That's true for any company even if their products differ, am I right in saying that?".

Sister Yolanda put down her tea cup, resting her chin atop her hands "I don't quite see it, what exactly are you getting at young lady? Are you trying to imply it's also true for illegal fire arms? I'm afraid we won't have much of a negotiation if you get too hasty". Airi crossed her legs elegantly "I'm talking about the drugs" both men in the room whipped their heads towards her "that's what I'm getting at Sister. Lately drugs are being distributed outside the agreed upon routes. Did you know that? Sister? Hotel Moscow and other mafia in the city have made every effort to find the source. They've looked everywhere they could think of, but the culprits still haven't been found. And that's because there's a blind spot. Somewhere they shouldn't have to look" the Japanese women sipped her tea for a moment "For instance. Those that can freely cross boarders under the guise of the Church, or NGO members that don't even know their being used as mules. It strikes me that these people are being over looked. Brother Edo?". She glanced at him, a soft, un-accusing and harmless smile on her face "why did you have those men put the clean linens in the shed? Aren't cleaned items normally taken to the living quarters?".

Sister Yolanda sighed deeply "young lady, you can't make statements based on mere conjecture. You make it sound like the stuffs coming out of this place". Airi leant her back against the couch, putting down her tea cup silently "it's just a hypothesis. Also, we could talk about weapon shipments. The amount of weapons entering and leaving this place, they don't seem to 'add up' if you know what I mean. That's easy to figure out with a little research. It was dangerously easy to see actually. One last thing. The Lagoon Company is of course on friendly terms with Hotel Moscow, but I wouldn't say we necessarily work together either".

The head nun chuckled, sitting back also and studying the Asian beauty before her "I see your point. Edo, this one's very slick, and she makes a good point. Add the launcher to the list. Dutchy-Boy has a good eye. I can't imagine where he found you" the room became quiet as loud church bells echoed around the grounds "It's almost time for mass, I apologize but you'll have to be on your way. Young lady? Come visit us again sometime soon". Rio hesitated before putting his Cutlass away, and helping Airi up by the hand he held it all the way to the door before he past Edo on the way out "you got lucky this time", yet he was secretly glad. If he was gonna have-at-it with the bastard, he wanted Airi at a safe distance away. It was too damn close today. "Go to hell you bastard" the priest with the purple sunglasses replied, his eyes hesitating on Airi before he turned away. "Young man? You better watch yourself with this young women, she's too good to be stuck with you. You better make sure she doesn't slip through your fingers. We'd be happy to let her in" Rio growled at Sister Yolanda, turning his back he spat "go fuck yourself" before he slammed the door.

Airi's wide eyes were sparkling as she put two China bowels onto a table "we should have timed this a little better, its crowed!". Rio's hands were itching to hold his Cutlass' as people everywhere were glancing at the two of them. Seemingly oblivious she pushed a bowel in front of him "let's eat before it gets cold, it's not often I get to taste someone else's cooking. I wonder if they'll give me the recipe?" she asked thoughtfully snapping apart some chopsticks. "I'm not hungry" Rio murmured, his muscles winding tighter-and-tighter by the second. "Try it, good food always makes you feel better. And since when are you not hungry?" Airi said laughing ignoring his mood. Rio puffed his cigarette "why don't we grab these and just go home?". The Japanese women flipped her long hair over one shoulder and quietly slurped some noodles into her mouth "that's not gonna happen. We've been couped up indoors when we're not working since I came here, we need some air to breathe you know. You've been like this ever since the submarine. Was it our talk?".

Rio growled, rage behind his eyes at the reminder "I told you, that conversation's over". Airi was suddenly serious, and she put down her chop sticks "Rio, I won't apologise for having a life before I met you". The maroon haired man was suddenly still, slowly he turned to face her "what was that?" he hissed. Airi emotionlessly glanced at him, even though under the table she was digging her nails into her thigh "I had a life before I met you Rio. Parents. Siblings. A boyfriend or two. Work in the mornings and eating out with friends at night. I need to feel the air on my skin; you can't keep me locked in the office forever".

Rio stomped his foot on his cigarette butt "I'm keeping you safe!". Airi's temper was slowly making its way onto her face "I'm not some fragile little girl Rio! I know exactly what this city is like! And I need to see the city I'm planning on living in with you! Hell it'll be nice to get to know some people and not just be known as 'Mrs Two-Hands' for the rest of my life!". Rio stood up, and with dead eyes filled with rage he leaned over the table growling when Airi didn't back down "it's better this way!". Airi stood also, fists balled by her side's her nails dug into her palm "how? By keeping me on a leash?". Rio threw the tin of chopsticks down at his feet in anger, more angry at himself and his insecurities then her "because you'll see something you're not prepared to see and get scared, you'll realise your too good for me and leave this city and me behind!".

Airi picked up his white knuckled fist and held it between her own soft hands, her voice becoming soft and calm like usual "if you don't want me to see the ugly side of things here, why don't you just come with me and we'll face it together? You coming with me isn't the issue, it's making me hide away from the dark side of your life. I want all of you, not just parts". Rio stared down at her wide eyed, his fist's unclenching and his hand's tingled as the blood rushed back in. The Japanese women massaged his hand soothingly as he continued to stare down at her lost for words before he suddenly said, his voice back to its usual rough timbre, chaos just barely contained "I can't just sit back and do nothing while I lose you". Airi smiled up at him reassuringly "you won't lose me as long as you're always with me".

"Hey you two!", a voiced yelled from behind them and Rio turned snarling "why don't you mind your own fucking business?!". They both suddenly realised the seats around them were empty and cops had surrounded them "surprise surprise, I hear someone's making a ruckus at the market and it turns out to be you again. Rio this isn't your private shooting gallery, flash your weapon and your rage and I'm the one whose gotta put out the fire". Rio bared his teeth at him "isn't that why we give you all those fat envelops? Do I complain to you about my job, Chief?". The apparent Chief of Police sighed, tapping his bat against his shoulder "I'm not saying don't do it, I'm just saying do it when nobodies gonna see ya. As long as you do that I don't care if you kill people or play hide the apple for that matter. Out of sight, out of mind means I don't have to cancel my golf dates and I can work on my short game in peace. Anyway I'm bringing you in, there's paper work to be taken care of on our side".

Airi stood besides Rio, picking up her bag patiently as he replied "fine by me". The Chief walked them to a police cruiser, as Rio helped Airi in he said "hey Chief, don't go stealing our car". He snorted slamming the door "I don't want that piece of shit. Come get it later". As they drove away one police officer lit Airi a cigarette and she settled herself into Rio's side comfortably "Hey Jaz. Just one thing. Let me ask you this. I just wonna know which side you wonna be on?". Airi tilted her head back so it leant against his chest as he put an arm around her shoulders "me? I'm right here where I'm sitting Rio, by your side; I'm not going anywhere else".