Description: At the behest of her father and a school assignment, Mitsuru Tokugawa attends to an interview with artist and competitive fighter, Fumiko Abe. Fumiko has twice bested Mitsuru in combat, but with this third time, deep in the heart of Fumiko's personal studio, finally where the hot-blooded delinquent will get her rightful revenge?
Steady rhythm plays out on a small radio sat on a stool in a converted apartment on the outskirts of Southtown. The walls and ceiling are stark white, the floor is covered in layers of paper and plastic and spattered with an array of drips and drabs of various colors. This is where Fumiko Abe spends most of her days when she isn't embroiled in fighting circuits. This studio is the most full reflection of a life before the Gear invasion. This studio is where she is most at home.
She is there today. The floor crinkles with each of her steps as she sets up a small wooden cutout silhouette in front of a footlight so that it's shadow fills a nearly wall-sized canvas. Back and forth, back and forth, she moves the cutout until it's in the perfect position. Her eyes narrow and focused, she holds the same look of intensity she does before the heat of a fight. But the look is fleeting and passes away to a peaceful smile of success at the plans coming together.
She is here, in this moment, at a serenity not felt since before her last round in the Neo-League. While she hasn't fought in a fair length of time, the money won in her league runs has allowed her to take time and focus on the bulk of her artwork. And to reflect on just what lay ahead of her. After all, she still cannot look into Southtown without seeing the tower erected by Jedah Dohma for his Darkstalkers.
Fumiko reties the bandanna that hold her long hair up and semi-safe from her own art as she prepares for work. As she does she reflects on that tower and on to the pair of swords that never sit too far away at any given time. She knows it isn't long now until she will pick them up again, but she cannot help but wonder if this time it will only be for sport and honor.
"I don't want to go."
That was the words from the lean, scowling girl in the back of the limousine. Mitsuru was crossing her arms, actively ignoring the hand picked snacks and bottled water carefully arranged to subtly invite her attention. She was dressed in her 'delinquent' uniform; baggy slacks with an open coat, with her commissar cap pulled over her eyes. At her side was her plain blue school satchel. It wasn't her usual one. That one had been gotten a hold of by her students in Seijyun High, and she didn't want to be caught dead holding that Spangles-studded abomination now. She was looking away, as the limo pulls up the street, approaching the apartment complex. Her driver, a handsome man in a flawless suit, looks up to the rearview mirror.
The faintest smile on his lips.
"If it was up to me, Miss Tokugawa," He begins, with almost a bilious air, "then I would be driving you to a delightful gambling house near Gedo Street. I heard they have daily fights between delinquent students, and the prizes are liquor, cigarettes, and respect! But humbly, your mother and father has insisted that you focus on your studies, and that you should do your report on Fumiko Abe. She has sacrificed a lot to-"
Mitsuru stomps her sandled foot in the car, knocking over a bottle of water, letting it spill in the back of the car. "She cheated to beat me twice. And she cut me. She hurt me, and now daddy wants me to have tea with her?"
"Miss Tokugawa, we are here."
The car comes to a stop. Mitsuru crosses her arms, rolling over to the side, bringing her legs to her chest. "I am going to stay in the car. I am not going in."
"It's not fair. They are doing this to humiliate me! They want to embarrass me!"
"Stop it! Just stop it! I hate you! I hate all of you! I don't want to be in here with you!" Mitsuru unleashes a frustrated shriek as she grabs her satchel. Kicking the door, she finally opens it, bursting out of the car. She reaches in, clenching a paper with the apartment number, striding towards the complex. The driver sighs, bemused.
And then, stepping out, begins to head to the back seat, to clean up the mess.
Mitsuru stands in front of the door to the apartment. She thought about just pretending she went to Fumiko. And hide somewhere. Maybe smoke a cigarette by a fire alarm. Maybe she could pull the fire alarm and then she didn't have to talk to her. But then Fumiko would find out. And she would ruin everything by complaining to daddy and then daddy would make Mitsuru have to take her out or something stupid. She takes a deep breath outside the studio apartment, pouting furiously. Finally, she reaches out, and gives a swift rap on the door once. Maybe she was stoned out of her mind because she's an artist. Daddy would -love- that. Mitsuru pulls her hat down, smirking to herself.
Maybe she was as drunk as her roommate right now.
Fumiko Abe is, some would point out, a painfully sober person that could probably use a drink or two in her system. Today, however, the only drink in her is one of several canned coffees she's had that are now in a pyramid of boredom on a workbench next to Fumiko's jigsaw. The artist herself works at the shadow on the canvas. Sketching the outline and jotting measurements. The shape is, roughly, that of the living mountain known as Abigail. Here reflected in shadow and marked up from small scale to large in order to make cutting a figure easier. All part of the overall plan for the piece. One destined to be shipped to Metro City.
When Fumiko was contacted by Mitsuru's father, she was uncertain over whether or not the girl would actually want to see her. But the insistence was all too clear, and Fumiko had a distinct interest in meeting with the girl. Tea was brought up, and Fumiko did plan for such things by having an electric kettle on, but she was busy with her work and didn't want formality to get in her way. Still, it surprises her when there's a knock at her door.
The pencil in her teeth bobs up and down, chewed on while Fumiko looks at the door and then to the time on the cell phone she's using as her radio. "Already?" she mutters to herself, realizing how little of the Abigail piece she finished in the morning. It looked like art would have to take a delay.
Hair tucked, pencil chewing, paint stained Fumiko Abe opens the door to her studio and looks up at the younger woman. Fumiko take the pencil from between her teeth to waggle between her fingers. "Welcome, welcome," she says, offering a slight bow before backing up. "I apologize for the informality, but this is my workspace," she explains her and the converted apartment's appearance at the same time.
"You don't mind if we bypass tradition, do you?" she asks with a somewhat expectant smile. She's taken in the dress and the delinquent's attire. The cap especially drives a thought home about how at one time Fumiko herself thought they looked good. It's hard for her to avoid laughing even a little bit at the memories.
"Good grief." Mitsuru fumes, as she stomps into the room.
Despite herself, she does take off her sandals, keeping her hat low as she forces in. "Why would I care about traditions?" She scoffs, as she accidentally leaves the sandals neatly in place. She doesn't waste time as she peers out from under the bill of her hat. Scanning the studio, she doesn't even look at her host as she turns her nose in disgust. It was a pigsty! Probably an effect of being born in poverty. As she looks at the kettle, she spits out a 'tch.'
"What a dump!"
She blurts out. "Whatever. I want this over with." She snarls, trying to find a couch, a futon, a chair, anything to throw herself over that wasn't a table. Mitsuru ends up leaning against a stand, near a canvas, just to be contrary by her own means. She wanted to show that she wasn't going to do what an adult wants.
Even as she was doing what an adult wants.
"I'm not here for tea, but I have to do my stupid school project. I'm going to ask my questions, you are going to answer them, and I am going to leave. I still haven't forgotten all that you've done to me! Gosh darn psychopath!" She promptly moves to begin rummaging through her satchel. She stops, squinting at the sketch near the canvas. "Wow, that's disgusting!" She states, before suddenly turning red.
"H-he's not naked, is he?!"
Fumiko doesn't speak up when Mitsuru takes off her sandals. She just quietly wonders if the girl noticed that Fumiko was wearing sneakers as she walks over the crinkling plastic and paper floor protection. So long as Mitsuru doesn't care about possible paint problems when it comes to her socks, it doesn't matter much to Fumiko what she does.
"It's a workshop," Fumiko reminds as she winds her way around to the electric kettle. Two cups, plastic, baring very marketably cute character designs on them, are the drinking vessels of the day for the tea. "What kind of tea did you want?" she asks, popping open an infuser. Realizing something, she amends, "We have strawberry and strawberry."
With little to sit on besides Fumiko's singular working stool, standing and leaning is one of the only ways to go, thankfully the Abigail work is the main drive for Fumiko at the moment and that leaves mostly sketch canvas and untouched bases to lean on. The confusion, the decisions, the dance of finding comfort in the uncomfortable amuses Fumiko, and she watches it with a half-smile while preparing the only flavor tea she actually has.
"I haven't forgotten our bouts," Fumiko says, walking over toward Mitsuru, placing the cartoon covered cup near her. Passing Mitsuru by, Fumiko walks to the life-sized Abigail shadow with it's dimensional sketching. "Nudes? No, not with this work. This one is in Abstract. Or it will be when I'm done."
She sips her tea, looking at the set up. "I'm taking dimensions for a cutout. I'll place it here to give a silhouette of the figure so that when I spraypaint around it, it keeps the form underneath clean and untouched." Her eyes track over to the cans over by the window to Southtown. "What class is this for again?" she asks.
Mitsuru fumed at the restrained nature of Fumiko.
She wanted to annoy her. She really did. But as Fumiko 'corrects' her, Mitsuru remains red, pulling her cap nearly over her face as she fumes. "Culture Studies" Mitsuru sneers, grunting as she tries to lower her voice. "It's the stupidest class at Seijyun High, and that's really saying something. You can imagine how they dress it up." Mitsuru's voice suddenly changes, lifting into a high and haughty tone, lifting her head up from behind her hat. "That a proper Japanese lady should not only learn about the rich culture of our country, but master it, acting as a shining beacon for the provincial peasants that lounge the pachinko parlors of Southtown. Mo ho ho!" She mimes a haughty laugh, to complete the illusion of being a proper Seijyun High princess.
She acts the role a little too well.
"Daddy- my father-" She clears her throat, trying to get the growl in there again as she takes the cup. "THe old man says that flavored tea is a bad joke. Coffee is better anyways. But I don't care about what kind of darn tea you have!" She gives a little stamp, rattling some of the pencils and pens. "And I didn't ask you about what you were doing! THis interview is going exactly how I want it." She takes a sip of the tea, gives a little squeak, and puts it down on the ground. Then, she frisks out of the satchel a pen, a notepad, and a paper. Putting the paper over the sketch, she reads the first question, her notepad and pen ready. She responds as snarky as she can. "Well I don't care about your name! Uh..."
"What do you do for a living?"
Fumiko watches the city in the distance. She sips the tea and thinks to the cold-edged arguments of her own youth. Born to comfort, she had expectations on her that she dashed for her own heart. To marry a "provincial". To become the wife of a man without near the means needed to match her family. She closes her eyes to remember her Kenji. A moment to linger on the past's better aspects.
"You're right," she says, "I was never the best at it when I was a student, either." She looks over when Mitsuru mentions coffee. "Oh, did you want some? I have a few cans left," she says, offering a short gesture in the direction of her swords, where the coffee mingles with the spray paint cans.
Fumiko's legal surname remains Sato, after her former husband, she simply uses her birthname on all personal uses. And Mitsuru's declared lack of concern just warms Fumiko to the young woman. Even if it's all for reasons unintentional. So she's forward and open, "I'm a professional fighter, lately," she answers. A long sip of her tea while she considers and consults the work around her. "But I am also an artist, I have gallery space in Tokyo currently and am working out a small showing in Metro, where I hope to open with this piece. Formerly, I gave demonstrations in Iajutsu technique as cultural exchange."
She looks at Mitsuru and smiles in a way that hides entirely the woman that faced Mitsuru down twice. It's a woman that, for a rare moment, is not holding a poisonous rage at herself.
"Really, you earn a living from that?"
Mitsuru tried hard to be rude. When Fumiko 'implied' that she had experienced the same things Mitsuru did, that made the teenager mad. It offended her. She didn't know why, but she just felt offended. She wanted to make a swipe at her. She gets a dirty thought, and before thinking of the consequences, decides to make it, to feel better.
"I thought you just lived off your husband's pension."
It was subtle, by Mitsuru standards. But she gives a nasty smile to herself when she says it, dipping down to grab the tea, to take another sip. "I don't drink coffee. Daddy- my old man owns a coffee company, it's the family fortune after all." She replies, mocking the very essence of it as she sips the tea. She had a way to go, though she seemed to handle the hot water. The girl can't help but give a flat toned question again, putting it down and asking it before she even gets the notepad ready.
"How do you feel you contribute to the cultural well being of Japan for your work?"
Wonder at how Fumiko makes money is not something that surprises her. This would hardly be the first time she was asked that by people incredulous as to her means. She simply enjoys a long and indulgent sip of her tea, taking in the sweet scent of the strawberry, before lowering the cup and nodding. "I can now, but I have had a great deal of support from my family when I was starting," she admits, feeling the need to pay some service to her parents' bankrolling the start of her career.
And then comes the question and Fumiko turns away, toward the window again. The grip on her cup grows tighter and tighter. "Kenji," she says. She stops. She closes her eyes and breathes deeply. "The government." Another pause. She opens her eyes and looks back toward Mitsuru. Fumiko hurts. She has to admit things, realities that she could ignore when he was alive. Things that strike at the odds and the desires she had, and run harsh against the prideful reality of the woman's existence.
How to react? Fumiko was uncertain. She wished she could have been a proper widow. She wished she could have been taken care of. But she balked at the idea. She loathed every moment of weakness that came with it. "Kenji did not serve for the money," she says. She finds solace in combining her answer with her sorrows. "He contributed to the safety of our nation. I safeguarded our artistic practices and spread awareness of our martial arts to other cultures. I continue to showcase our practices around the world through combat demonstrations and competition. My contribution in the world of art is demonstrable in itself."
She shudders a sigh and looks at Mitsuru and at the notepad. "What questions do you really wish to ask?"
Mitsuru shakes her head, as her temper boils.
SHe was writing down the notes. Fumiko had done nothing but treat her with respect and patience. And for some reason, that was making Mitsuru more and more on edge. "I told you, I don't have of my own questions!" She spits out. I am just doing this because I have a project, and instead of letting me make up my own interview answers, dadd- my old man thought I should talk to you because I would learn and appreciate something. Good grief, what a load of garbage." Mitsuru snarks, shaking her head as she walks. "I don't have anything to ask you! I don't know why you would think that. Is it because I'm so annoyed with you? Good grief!"
There is a pause, as Mitsuru fumes.
"It is just so annoying to me that you act like you are so much better than other people being a sad artist instead of admitting that you made a huge mistake!" Mitsuru rambles, scribbling on her notepad. "I mean really, why is everyone treating Kenji like he's some kind of damn hero? Why are they treating -you- like you are some kind of hero? Because he died? Because you lost someone you love? Who cares! If your parents really cared about you, they would have kept you both safe in a bunker! It's a load of garbage that he died for the safety of our nation, I mean, who cares about safeguarding our stupid culture, or drawing stupid pictures. It's just trash! If you had a real job, he might not have joined the military, and he if cared about you, he would have run away instead of fight those stupid gears! Maybe you shouldn't have even bothered! He didn't die for anybody, we were safe in our bunkers! He just died!" Mitsuru rambles on, her face getting brighter and brighter red. She was sweating, her leg was trembling.
"Why do you have the nerve to think you are anything special!?"
A cold fury meets the heated bitterness. Stone-faced, Fumiko stands while Mitsuru gets the heated weight off her chest. In Fumiko's grip, the plastic cup begins to quiver. The flippancy is fine. The flippancy is relatable. Fumiko always strived to be good, and do right by her family; it was that her path in life put her at odds with the expectations. Mitsuru is someone that Fumiko sees a great deal of familiarity in, and that familiarity earns a great deal of patience.
So Fumiko smiles politely and listens.
But when Mitsuru continues, the plastic cup cracks in Fumiko's hand, warm tea runs down her fingers.
Fumiko sets the now leaking cup down on the paper and plastic floor. She wipes her hand on her sweater. She turns to take up the daisho set and belt from the floor. She examines the cracked floral pattern of the scabbard. Her hands tremble as she does. Until, that is, they hover over the hilt and her posture locks frozen.
When Fumiko speaks, it's to the window. "I live with my mistake every day I wake up without him. I live my mistake with every victory I have. I live my mistake with the name I call myself and with the very life I live." Fumiko's voice is low, cold, angry. "How else should I admit my mistakes to satisfy you?"
She turns around, the blades and harness hang in her hand. "I earned more. I supported us. I knew I was a stronger fighter than he. I knew I could do more. I let him. I couldn't, as his wife, continue to wound his pride."
Fumiko turns and unceremoniously drops the blades on the floor. "I wanted to be a supportive wife."
Mitsuru was ready for the cuts.
She actually puffs out her shapeless chest when Fumiko goes to the swords. Mitsuru didn't understand why she wanted Fumiko to cut her. Maybe then daddy would know how much of a mistake he made trying to make Mitsuru do something she didn't want to do. Maybe because it gave her the reaction she wanted from Fumiko. That Mitsuru was bad, and Fumiko would punish her, and Mitsuru would be right because punishing Mitsuru was wrong.
But Fumiko had something Mitsuru didn't think about.
Fumiko reacted the exact way Mitsuru originally imagined it. That she was ashamed, and every single painful thing that would come from the loss floods out. Mitsuru isn't smiling now. She was listening. She numb. She successfully hurt Fumiko, and she successfully broke her. She successfully got her revenge for all the times she cut her and humiliated her in fights. Mitsuru had won.
"You don't have to be so smug about it." Mitsuru mutters feebly.
Mitsuru doesn't know what to say. She wasn't thinking what she should say. She just... she just closes the notepad. "He should have been supportive of you. Because that's what daddies do- that's what husbands should do, I guess." Limp and weak. Mitsuru felt... ashamed of what she did? No, when the shame comes, it immediately becomes hopeless anger. She wanted to fight, when she felt ashamed. But Fumiko- Fumiko wouldn't even fight back ,would she. She was not satisfied, or maybe she was. She sits on the floor by the cooling tea cup, knees to her chest, hugging her legs. The teenager waits a moment. "What did your family want you to marry?" Mitsuru says bleakly, her body cold.
"What did they want you do... instead of the thing that you did instead?"
Fumiko lived with shame. She lived with grief and pain and every time she fought and won she was reminded that she did not pick up the sword the one time it was most important. That the one time she didn't break tradition, that she did not live for what she wanted, it cost her the thing she loved the most. Because she was weak. And that weakness, it burned harder against any bit of pride she ever had as a competitor, as a creator. It burned.
But this wasn't a contest. This wasn't a ring, or a fight for money. There was nothing to prove here. There was nothing to stoke the fire of intensity. There was nothing she could do that wouldn't just admit to worse weaknesses. And so she folded before an angry child's ranting. She folds. She folds and leans back against her broad window that faces an adopted home city. One with a great spire to monsters where her Kenji fell. A constant reminder of the wastefulness of that life.
Her head thumps when she leans forward to rest the back of it against the window. She looks to the white ceiling, miraculously untouched and pristinely snow-colored as her own hair. She doesn't know how to answer. She was always supported. Kenji always had thrown everything into her. She only wanted him to rise up as well. She only wanted him to know what she saw him capable of. Only those things got him killed.
Fumiko's arms cross over her belly. She doesn't fight back, she doesn't even look at Mitsuru. She only answers after wiping at her eye with the corner of her thumb. "I can't really remember," she admits, "I don't think they had anyone in mind specifically. I'm sure they would have preferred a businessman, or a surgeon, or a prosecutor. Someone important and impressive." She shakes her head. "They came around to what I saw, in time. But it wasn't always easy."
She smiles, distant, the pain still holds in her damp eyes but it's tempered by the joy of a memory not tinged with guilt. "They were okay with my art. My sword practice. I could create, or at least perform. It was a good hobby, they thought. I would have been impressive at home. I would've been something to show off." She laughs, hand covering her mouth as she looks back down toward the ground. "But I was a lot better than they expected."
"I was meant to be a pillar in a home. But I won contests, then made connections. My father and mother played along, but then I was traveling the world. I wasn't giving them children. I wasn't tying their name to another successful lineage." Fumiko looks up from the ground, to Mitsuru. "I had gotten too old, and I was too busy and focused on the next thing. Too competitive. Too brash. And then to turn it on them and marry a poor man with no importance to his name."
Fumiko sniffs and blinks back tears. "I pushed the limits of their support with that."
"They -abandoned- you?"
Mitsuru states aloud, incredulous. Mitsuru was staring at a broken mirror, she felt. A future of misery and regret. And why? Why was Fumiko was miserable? Was it because she made bad choices, and was abandoned? And now all she could was make art and fight in public for money? That she was impressive to them once. That she was loved. And now?
Now she was the wretched widow before the teenager.
Mitsuru didn't understand her feelings. Empathy? Pity? "Would you-" She sputters, staring blankly at the cup on the ground "Kn-knowing what you- what you know now..." The teenager gets her notepad out again. This was actually one of the questions, wasn't it. "Knowing what you know now, and what had happened from your choices, would you have done everything you have done already?" She looks up from the notepad.
"Or would you have been happier to do what made your parents happy?"
Abandoned? Fumiko didn't consider it as much. They made decisions. They were disappointed. But by that time she was established. She was her own person. She looks out the window, leaning back. "No," she says. "They knew that I was going to be what I wanted to be and that wasn't what they wanted. I still care for them, they still care for me. But we disagree." A diplomatic answer, but as far as she'll go on that front.
Tucking her hand into her sweater sleeve, Fumiko wipes her eyes and coughs to clear her throat. She pushes from the window and walks now to clear her mind and to look over her upcoming work. A focal point. There she looks up at the work and thinks back to its inspiration. The insurmountable might of Abigail. It proved to her that there were things out there so far stronger than her that for moments she could believe in the impossibility of hope.
But she also stood in the trappings of her own success. It felt good.
"My parents? No. No, I wouldn't," she answers. "I would still be their rebellious daughter, certain of her own success. This I would not give up." Turning now, she looks to the girl who seems to be struggling with her own thoughts. "But I would give anything for the chance to have fought when I should have. I would have done anything to keep him alive."
"I am selfish in that way. But sometimes you need to be."
Sometimes you need to be selfish.
The diplomacy of the answer was evident. Mitsuru wasn't thinking much about Fumiko's situation directly anymore. She was thinking about herself. Mitsuru was always selfish, even just a little bit. It wasn't unusual for children to always be a little selfish. She looked at her words she wrote down. The notes. Was it enough for her to compile for a report? Maybe it wasn't. She didn't know how she was supposed to present this in front of her peers. She wasn't thinking of it as a cultural study anymore.
It was too personal now.
Mitsuru saw herself in Fumiko's situation. Growing up into being a hooligan, finding a tough but cool gangster boyfriend, who gets shot down fighting an evil crime boss who was out to take over Southtown, and then being alone. Her own daddy and mommy being so angry that they don't do anything for her. Where Mitsuru has to keep herself fed and alive by being a fighter, or doing arts and crafts. Maybe the fight club could still be around then, and they can manage her, just like how Lightning Spangles needed to be managed... something, right then, flashes in Mitsuru's mind. And in that same flash, Mitsuru's eyes go wide, as she spits it out.
"You stupid tool!"
"You stupid tool! " Mitsuru repeats again, standing up. She was pointing the notebook at Fumiko. "You don't get it! You don't get it! That's why daddy wants me to talk to you!" Silver energy was boiling over her, as she nearly drops her notebook shaking it. "You stupid stupid tool! He wants me to talk to you!"
"Because he wants to scare me straight!"
Success appears different to different people. There are many, Fumiko knows, that would be envious of her position and her talents. A studio all her own, showings, more than one place to call home. The success of her life is self-evident, but then there are times when certain people don't understand that. Sometimes those people are just angry children that cannot see in front of their own noses.
Were this a competition, Fumiko would have been more charged over the accusations. But here, she finds no challenge and no call to her own failures. She is only being shouted at by a child, one that she's defeated twice no less. Here there isn't even the thrill in the moment. Just a shouty reminder that there was work to be done.
Fumiko tilts her head, thinking about the things she's seen and heard in just this short moment. And she gets a foolish little idea, but decides to run with it in a moment of pique. Consequences be damned.
She crosses the room, steady and flowing. This isn't cold and self-loathing Fumiko's robotic perfection, she moves with the fluid grace of her old demonstrations. All to pick up the swords again and to lift them before her.
"Is that what you believe?" Fumiko asks. "That your father thinks so little of me and my accomplishments that he insults me to use me as an example for his rowdy daughter? If that is what he thinks, then maybe I should meet with him to discuss this insult."
With a light click, Fumiko embellishes her melodrama by slowly drawing the long blade of her daisho.
"I'll fight you, right now."
The reaction was instantaneous. No pause, no hesitation. The moment Fumiko draws her blade, Mitsuru stands up, eyes wide, hands in balled fists, one clenching her notepad Her words are cold, despite the anger over her now. The tantrum transformed, the moment Fumiko gave her threat. "Nobody hurts daddy, and nobody threatens daddy in front of me!" There was no growl either, as Mitsuru's voice rises in pitch "What kind of trash do you think you are, thinking you have what it takes to talk to him. Don't you know who we are! We're the Tokugawa! We ruled Japan when it was glorious! You think you are important enough? You think your family has any wealth, any -culture- compared to daddy? You think I'll be a worn out old spinster that weeps and have bad dead husbands and- and-" Mitsuru looks around.
Chi energy was flickering and flaring at her forearms, her jaw clenched, her eyes wild. Tearing apart her artwork. Hurt her. Why hurt her? To punish her for- for what? The building cataclysm was flooding around her. Was she going to tear up the studio? She felt like it. Was there going to be a fight now? Was she going to rip up her notebook? Was this going to be a mistake? What if she -did- go to daddy? What if she cut daddy like she cut Mitsuru, what if Mitsuru just put daddy's life in danger again-
And it happens.
Mitsuru finally lashes out.
Mitsuru kicks over her tea cup, spilling it on the floor.
And she looks defiantly at Fumiko, daring her to react to such an outburst.
"I've beaten you before, twice."
Fumiko sheathes the sword with a click. She looks at Fumiko. She sees the anger and the rage and the prideful defiance. It's all so, so terribly adorable when Fumiko can see it in its full and unadulterated glory. She lowers the blades to her side and clips the belts around her waist. It hangs, loosely compared to its usual setting, but Fumiko doesn't normally wear the blades with jeans and a messy sweater.
And then tragedy strikes. A cup tips. Tea spills. Tea is slowly soaking into the paper all over the floor.
And Fumiko laughs, it's a rough laugh, the kind Mitsuru will probably sneer at. Fumiko doesn't have much practice with full body laughing, but she cannot keep herself from doing so at this moment. She does, however, catch herself and with a gentle hand over her own mouth to force away a grin, she sighs and looks at Mitsuru.
"So you do have pride in yourself and where you came from," she remarks, "If only your father could have seen this part."
"You ch- you chea-
Mitsuru babbles and sputters, as Fumiko puts her sword away.... and laughs. Mitsuru pouts harder than she has ever pouted before, pursing her mug so hard that she couldn't hide the dimples. And when the grown up says the words. 'If only your father could have seen this part.' She actually swings her fists against nothing. She felt so hot faced. She was being made FUN of. And she decides that she needs to make her point even more clear.
She stomps the wet paper.
"You adults are all the same! You think you understand anything!" Comes the rough voice again. "I don't care what daddy- what my old man thinks! You just are making NO SENSE! You are bullying me! You are awful! Good grief! I- the- Tokug-" Mitsuru turns bright red again, as she becomes caught between impossible stances to hold. And finally, she exhales out her situation.
She shrieks, grabbing her satchel. She stuffs her notebook in. "Whatever. I got my questions, I'll just make up the rest. You hear me? WHATEVER!" She stamps stamps stamps her foot, making the whole apartment shake to prove how tough and not cute she is. "WHATEVER! WHATEVER! GOOD! GRIEF! I AM NEVER GOING TO TALK TO YOU AGAIN! I HATE YOU!" She storms to the door, throwing it open, and running out.
She returns after a few seconds.
Mitsuru pulls her cap over her eyes, as she brings a pen and paper out of her satchel. She refuses to look at Fumiko, hiding behind the bill of her cap.
"I need you to sign this for the assignment."
Being accused of cheating, or at least very-nearly-so accused of cheating brings that heat to Fumiko's eyes again. That taps into the competitive backbone. That taps into the pride and honor and everything that drove Fumiko so desperately mad that she could not stand to lose when all she wanted in the world was to be weak. Her thumb brushes the tsuba of her long blade. She could draw right now, take that silly little hat in half.
But the cut never comes. After all, it's just an angry girl stomping on damp paper and guard plastic. However, Fumiko does need to consider her downstairs neighbors and she's already had enough problems when it came to operating her jigsaw. It's enough to get Fumiko to make some attempt at an in road. "Please, there are. . .," but it's nothing in the face of the raging screech of a spoiled child.
Sweet relief it is when Mitsuru storms from the workshop, and Fumiko to let herself sag with the suddenly deafening silence of her own private spot. Mitsuru had been having a conscientious tantrum. There was little to call damaged. All in all, Fumiko thought with her hands going to her hips, not a terrible afternoon. . .
Mitsuru returns. Hiding herself, or trying to despite being several inches taller than Fumiko. Fumiko takes the paper to look it over. She takes her time reading it, delaying the signing for the sake of it. "Miss Tokugawa," she says, signing, "Thank you for your time. Please stop by again when you can. You're welcome to tea."
Mitsuru pauses a moment, when Fumiko thanks her.
She was angry and ashamed. When wasn't Mitsuru angry and ashamed though? Since she started high school, every day was new ways to be angry and ashamed. She wanted to lash out at people, and whenever she did, she didn't really feel like it changed anything. And with Fumiko thanking her and inviting her to come back, there was only one response.
Mitsuru snarls, trying so hard to hide her face from the shorter woman as she waits for the signature to be finished. She was fidgeting, and when it came back, signed, she grabs it, stuffs it in her satchel, and leaves, without another word.
She returns again.
Doesn't even say a word. Doesn't even look at Fumiko. She just puts her sandals back on, one by one. She walks out, clomping with the heavy footwork. She doesn't return to the limo at least, no. She was already looking for a back alleyway on the apartment. Eventually, her butler would come upstairs to check on the girls. And by then? Mitsuru would be long gone towards Gedo Street.
There was a tournament there, or so she heard.
Log created on 10:25:08 12/11/2019 by Fumiko, and last modified on 01:47:53 12/14/2019.