[url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Forum/Post/257262473/0/0]Table of Contents[/url]
It’s the small paper Ghost that catches her eye.
Mina stops to inspect the small decoration dangling delicately from a string. Every bend and fold is as close to perfect as possible, made with precision and care. A true work of art. The Titan raises her hands, carefully cupping them around the beautiful creation without touching.
“Really? Fawning over that little thing when you’ve got the read deal right here?”
A simper plays at the corners of Mina’s lips as she replies to her Ghost, “Oh? Are you jealous of a piece of paper, Ghost?”
His shell scrunches up in imitation of a frown, but he decides to ignore the taunt. Enjoying her small victory, Mina gazes past the paper Ghost and through the window behind it. A number of people are seated at tables, chatting over drinks. It’s a bar.
“Care for a drink?” She inquires.
“Do you [i]hear[/i] the words coming out of your mouth?” The Ghost questions in disbelief. Right, Ghosts can’t drink. No mouths. Oops.
Mina runs a hand through her hair and sidesteps to the doorway. Unlike the exterior, the interior of the building lacks the charming decorations of the Festival of the Lost. But that doesn’t make the atmosphere any less pleasant. The sound of the bar’s patrons talking and laughing and drinking happily is music to the Guardian’s ears. It warms her heart, knowing that even the losses of the Red War and fear of the Darkness and super weapons lighting up the sky on crash courses have only succeeded in bringing the people of the City closer together in the last few years.
Not drawing attention to herself, Mina slips over to the counter and takes a seat on a stool. It rocks over onto an uneven leg as her weight settles. After a moment the bartender comes over with a smile that appears strained from overuse but genuine, “Welcome, Guardian. What can I get you?”
“I’ll need a minute to think about it,” Mina replies politely, scanning the half-stocked shelves lining the wall to see her options.
“Of course,” the bartender nods, backing away to attend other customers. One of them catches Mina’s eye. A Huntress, seated farther down the bar. The Titan hadn’t expected to see another Guardian in this quiet, out-of-the-way District. Even she had only ended up here by chance wandering through the City.
The Huntress is slumped forward, idly using her fingers to spin an empty glass on the counter. Her posture and downcast eyes are dead giveaways for a poorly-concealed sadness. Mina frowns, concerned. The Titan immediately knows exactly what’s affecting this Guardian. During the Festival there’s only one thing it could be.
“You gonna talk to her?” Mina’s Ghost suggests, giving his partner a sideways look. He knows what she’s thinking and he’s got her back. Mina turns in her seat to study the dejected Lightbearer, planning out the best way to approach her. Something that could get her spirits up.
An absurd idea crosses the Titan’s mind and she smiles. “Ghost, spot me a candy.”
A small, plastic-wrapped treat materializes in her open palm, one of many she had gathered while out celebrating the Festival of the Lost. She sets it on the counter then rests a hand behind it, taking careful aim. Luckily no one is between the Titan and her target.
“Are you-“ her Ghost begins but isn’t given the time to finish. Mina flicks the candy, sending it skidding across the bar. But the treat tumbles off course, rolling right to the edge of the counter and falling off. It clatters on the floor, drawing the attention of a nearby patron and making the Huntress jolt in her seat.
“F***!” Mina curses, too loudly. Everyone in the room looks at the Titan. Hot blood rushes to Mina’s cheeks. Panicking, she avoids making eye contact with anyone and stands, awkwardly shuffling over to where the candy lies.
“She just dropped something!” Her Ghost announces in an attempt to satisfy their curiosity, floating above his counterpart’s head. Mina’s embarrassment reaches its peak as she bends over to pick up the treat. Thankfully the other customers dismiss her, going back to their drinks.
Mina finds herself standing face to face with the Huntress. She’s staring at the Titan, silent with sharp eyes that take in everything they see. Her face is very young, but being near her Mina gets the feeling that she isn’t young at all. The Huntress slowly raises her right hand back up to her empty glass. It had instinctively gone to her sheathed knife when the candy startled her. Mina hasn’t been alive very long, but she’s attentive enough to detect how skittish this Lightbearer is.
“I, um…” Mina mumbles. After the failure of her little stunt she’s too flustered to recover for a decent introduction. “I tried sliding this over to you…”
The Huntress looks down at the candy in Mina’s upheld hand. She thinks over it for a second, then looks back up with a deadpan expression, “Did you seriously just offer me floor candy?”
“I-“ Mina starts, then laughs heartily when she realizes how silly the question is. “Yeah. Yeah, I did. If it makes you feel any better, I originally pulled this off of a Fallen corpse.”
The Huntress doesn’t smile, but Mina suspects the humor isn’t lost on her. The Titan pulls up the closest stool and sits beside her, “I’m Mina.”
The Huntress picks up her glass, tapping it against the counter. Hesitant. “…Ayane.”
The bartender passes in front of the pair, making a show of giving Ayane a pointed look. The Huntress responds with a subtle wave of her hand, holding up a solitary finger. They must know each other well. Mina wonders what silent conversation they’re having.
“So,” Mina ventures, daring to lean a little closer, “Been enjoyin’ the Festival?”
Ayane glares daggers, but she’s more weary than hostile. She already knows what Mina’s playing at. “If I say yes will you leave me alone?”
Mina grins shamelessly, “Probably not.”
The Huntress lets out a long, heavy sigh. She runs a finger down the side of her beverage, tracing a line through beads of condensation. “I don’t wanna talk, so give it a rest. Please.”
The please is added as an afterthought, a halfhearted attempt to peacefully stave off this good-natured nuisance. But Mina can already tell she doesn’t have the heart to keep resisting. “Okay, no talking. I’ll just share a drink with you.”
“Know what you want?” The barkeep prompts, waiting patiently behind the counter.
“Um…” Mina takes a look at her options, still undecided. She can’t even tell what drinks there are. The complicated world of alcohol is mostly a mystery to her.
“Oh, I just remembered,” the bartender interjects, not giving Mina a chance, “Ayane, they put up some amazing decorations a couple blocks down, just past that shop with all the tables and the green canopy. All the streets are lit up, it’s beautiful. Since you’ve finished your drink you should go check it out. A walk around’ll do you some good. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. And if you come back later I’ll even give you somethin’ on the house.”
Ayane’s eyes narrow. She studies the bartender, sensing some kind of trap. Her glass taps a steady beat on the counter. Mina watches curiously. Eventually the Huntress gives in, looking away irritably and brushing her hair out of her face. “Sure, I’ll give it a look.”
“Great,” the bartender smiles, then addresses Mina, “Decided yet?”
“Not yet,” the Titan hums.
“Hold on!” The barkeep feigns a sudden realization, but now both Guardians can see it’s clearly an act, “Here’s an idea. Mina, this is your first time here. You haven’t seen the neighborhood, right?”
“That’s correct,” Mina affirms, beginning to understand. Ayane’s jaw tightens as she clenches her teeth in silent fury.
“This is perfect,” the bartender continues, holding up a compelling hand, “Ayane, you can show her around the District. She’ll love it. And I’ll have a drink for each of you when you get back, on me. It’s the holiday, after all.”
Mina bubbles with excitement. What a brilliantly sinister trap! “Sounds fun!”
Ayane’s anger has been replaced with panic. She looks at her two oppressors, desperate for a way out. Both smirk at her, knowing they’ve won. The Huntress slowly calms herself and accepts her fate. She stares at her lap and mumbles under her breath, “Fine.“
“Great,” Mina chirps, rising from her stool, “Let’s get goin’!”
The Huntress stays seated and holds a hand up to Mina, looking away bashfully, “I’ll take that candy now.”