Description: It's been months now, since Mitsuru was captured by Grandpa Mishima as leverage against her father. Of course, Mitsuru knew any moment, her daddy was going to rescue her. But until he came in with his special ninja assassins to break her out, she needed to survive. And to survive, she needed to do her homework from Seijyun High. When she is introduced to Miss Sakamoto, a young and helpful instructor, it seems like the banchou will only struggle against her chains. But the hopeful teacher finds a way to reach out to Mitsuru. Could this be the start of a new friendship in a dark and lonely imprisonment?
Daddy hadn't called.
The long-haired japanese girl grunts as she continues her situps. She wasn't wearing much. Slacks, and bandages around her chest, She was barefoot, and her hands and shoulders were bound. She had a lot of scars still. But it wasn't hard to do a situp. She didn't have many amenities in the bunker that she was in. It was three rooms; A sleeping space, a kitchen dining space, and a bathroom. There was also a kind of extended hallway piece connected to the dining area, so it made it a kind of greeting room. There was a fridge, and it made a good brace for situps. It wasn't made to be a prison. It was made for those that Heihachi wanted to survive, to survive.
He wanted her to survive.
And that was about all she was going to cooperate with. He already dislocated her shoulder. She got better. She hadn't heard from him at all. He was going to threaten daddy. So Mitsuru knew that Daddy was going to come and rescue her. That was a few weeks ago. There was nothing but Fujimura, the relentless, emotionaless woman thing that gave her instructions, and expected them to be followed, and when Mitsuru didn't, she would get privilages taken away. The last one was hot water. That was miserable. Almost as bad as the lack of laundry service. But the real bad thing now was brought up just this week. It bothered Mitsuru. That's why she was exercising.
Because they were trying to make her take her classes.
It wouldn't be worrisome to Mitsuru if it was just obvious Heihachi Mishima classes. Business economics, archaeology, genetics, and of course how to mist step. That was so obviously Grandpa Mishima. But no. No no no. It was Seijyun High classes. Lessons on how to be a proper, prim woman. Cooking. Cleaning. Japanese History. Basic Mathematics. -Tea Ceremony-. She wasn't doing any of it, of course. She never did her homework, except when she was bored. She was bored a lot more often though. No books. They make her use a tablet now, because they won't give her any more paper. No television, at least, the only screen they had was a communication one. The only thing she could was exercise sometimes. And sleep. And it used to be showers but they took away the hot water so now she just... does everything she can to not do what she was supposed to do. The hot-blooded teenager grits her teeth as she goes up and down. Was it 100? 200 now? She stopped counting as she surged through the sheer audacity of Fujimura presenting the syllabus. Of how she was going to learn. What was -expected- of her. It meant something.
Grandpa Mishima wouldn't just... make her into a woman. But she hadn't heard from him for a while. Did something happen? Mitsuru would kill him if he had the audacity of getting himself arrested, or worse, instead of coming down and fighting her first. She wanted to fight him, and then make him take her to Steve, and she would save Steve, and then she would go home to Daddy and apologize and then he would apologize and then everything would be fine. Of course, that was silly to think about. Because Daddy was going to break her out soon.
Any day now.
There's the faintest of high-pitched hums as the screen in the bunker comes to life.
"Oh, my. How many sit-ups is that, Ms. Tokugawa? You should be careful! Too many of those could cause lower back strain."
The voice belongs to what appears to be a comely young Japanese woman with brown hair worn in a long ponytail braid; the screen shows an intense close-up of her face before she seems to step back from the camera, revealing that she's wearing a blue cardigan over a white blouse; the sort of thing that one might expect of a young teacher, perhaps?
"I'm surprised that you haven't had time to do your homework, with so much time to exercise. Managing your schedule might help you find time to be productive and maintain a healthy fitness regime."
That's a new voice.
Mitsuru narrows her brown eyes, as the lanky teen's lips curl into an instinctive sneer. She turns over, as the screen comes to life. It was not a great idea while doing situps. But as the new face actually showed -concern- for her, with that dumb plastic smile, Mitsuru gets goosepimples. She remembered teachers like that when she was younger. There none of them at Seijyun High. BUt in the lower grades, there were everywhere. Those nice teachers that would be nice to her, and then all the other students would tease her, and then Mitsuru had to beat them up, and then the teachers would talk with Mitsuru, and then the cycle would continue. Mitsuru hated them. And they would always be nice, no matter how mean Mitsuru was. Until they snapped. Mitsuru never made them snap. But she always wanted to, just to prove how bad and dumb they were for making those students pick on her. So when that sweet lady shows up, the first face she had seen in about 3 days? Mitsuru turns up her nose.
"Oh, I'm not doing my homework." Mitsuru responds in the most matter of factly manner which, at some point, might have sounded intimidating in her head. She certainly practiced it enough. But the trouble is that she doesn't really hear her own voice that well anymore. Or anything, really, being alone. Without any social environment to respond to, it actually would come across as exceptionally bratty than the tough delinquent tone she hoped for. "You'll have to reschedule those demonstrations and presentations too. And give me an F! Yeah. And then you'll have to punish me. I guess you'll cut the power next, huh? Or maybe you'll have your big dumb stupid boss come down and try fighting me again!" Mitsuru had the plan of luring Heihachi down here, and then while he was distracted, she would jump into the elevator. She might even punch him in the stomach in the process. Mitsuru fails to conceal how excited she was at this plan. "I don't know if the hag lady told you, and the hag lady is Miss Fujimura, but you're supposed to make me do my stupid homework, and not let me train." She continues to a repetition of situps. "Looks like she gave up, cause you're new!" The teenager sneers. "I guess I'll have to grind you down too. I chew up dumb adult likes you, and spit you out like wads of spit paper! Like chewing gum!" Mitsuru goes up, and down, not missing a beat, as she turns.
Suddenly she stops, as she locks up with a groan.
She quickly falls silent, the squeak coming short. But her expression was tight. She has stopped doing situps. And she hasn't quite untwisted herself. Shutting her eyes, she curls up her lips and squeaks at the video. "You dumb- you dummy dumb dumb! I'm not doing homework, I'm going to just work out, and you all can go and kick yourselves for I care! Cause when Daddy finds out, he's gonna make you all pay for your insole- for being dummies!" Mitsuru lays on the ground. She would stand up. But she can't. But she wouldn't share that to the new jerk who Fujimura or Heihachi or whatever. So she just menacingly lays half-twisted on the ground, struggling to untwist herself secretly, as she sneers.
The pretty face on the other side of the television monitor only smiles with sweet patience in response to Mitsuru's initial outburst, perhaps the sort of smile that the girl might remember from those childhood teachers.
"Oh, Ms. Fujimura is still very interested in your progress, Ms. Tokugawa."
It may be subtle, but there's a certain egalitarianism in respect to the terms of address.
"My name is Miss Sakamoto. Think of me less like a teacher and more like a counsellor. I'm here to help look after your well-being and your motivation and take feedback on your time here on behalf of your father."
The head tilts a little as the camera in the bunker home tracks toward Mitsuru, whirring as it zooms in to inspect the banchou.
"Oh, dear. It looks as though you've injured yourself, Ms. Tokugawa. Would you like for me to come in and help you with that? I'm only next door."
If there was one thing worse than a teacher, it was a counsellor.
Oh, when she talks about Miss Fujimura still being interested in her progress, Mitsuru fumes. Or rather, she would be fuming more if she could move properly. Still, it gives her a chill when she calls her Miss Tokugawa. It wasn't pleasant. She remembered how counsellors were when she was younger. She remembered them bitterly. Always prying about her, and her family. She knew they were spies for Mommy and Daddy. She never have evidence, but she knew. They were always reporting back about how bad she was doing, how she had so much trouble making friends, and how she would sometimes be found crying and that time where she found a razor blade and wanted to see if anybody would notice and they did. She learned quickly that you never tell them anything, except lies and fighting with them. She wanted to make this one's life hell. And she would! Except for a problem.
Her bandages were bleeding again.
It's obvious as the cameras zoom in. Mitsuru grunts and groans as she turns over, trying to hide the spreading crimson. She had gotten a lot of burns, which were almost healed. But the wound on her chest was really bad. And Grandpa Mishima really liked it on her. It was another reward she could work towards. She didn't work towards it. But as she tried pitifully to hide it, she snarls out loud. "Go away! I'm fine! And even if I wasn't, I'll just put on my -dirty clothes- and then if there was a boo-b- an injury then it would get dirty, and infected, and then I would be sick and die and then you would all be sorry because Daddy and Grandpa Mishima would kill you all and you would be so sorry!" Mitsuru felt it was a good act of intimidation, in her addled mind. She was trying to hide her face from the camera now. Just not very well. She was checking the bandages.
Because she really, really was worried about reopening that scar.
The camera lens telescopes closer for scrutinization. A sympathetic frown crosses the young brunette counsellor's features; the woman's eyes seem like a natural home for compassion.
"Oh, Ms. Tokugawa! You're certainly in some distress. It's very brave of you to want to take care of your own needs. I'll let your father know what an independent young woman you are. However..."
Miss Sakamoto seems to be jotting down some notes, then walks off-screen. There's a sound of some rummaging, running water filling a vessel - likely a kettle - and then starting to heat. When the counsellor returns to the screen, she has an empty hot water bottle resting on a first aid kit held in the crook of her arm. "...Sometimes, even the bravest people need a little help. I'll be over in just a minute; we can continue our conversation while we make sure that you're okay. Until then, try not to move, and if you're scared, take some nice, deep breaths!"
The screen goes back off, and for a minute, Mitsuru will be left to her own device.
After that minute, though, a buzz will come from the door, along with a voice over the intercom:
"Ms. Tokugawa? It's Miss Sakamoto. May I come in?"
For many professionals, it's hard to understand why Mitsuru hates them so much.
It's not like they are doing anything wrong per say. Miss Sakamoto does say the correct things to say to an ill-tempered teenage girl with independence issues. She even encourages Mitsuru by emphasizing how brave she is. Of course, for the jaded princess obsessed about phonies in her life, she was always especially hostile to anything nice or unfriendly, adding to the general unpleasantness of dealing with the bratty banchou. So when Sakamoto demonstrates the effort to respect Mitsuru's boundaries?
Mitsuru scoffs a cackle out loud, without getting up.
"Good grief, is there a sock on the handle?" Mitsuru snarls abrasively, still trying her best to hide her injuries from camera. "If I said no, what's stopping you from coming in anyways? It's a free country, idiot! But do you really think I would like you better because you pretend to- nnnnunh." Mitsuru's rant falls away to a pitiful squeak, as she tightens herself into a ball.
Well, she did say yes Miss Sakamoto.
"I don't believe that there's a sock on the handle. Are you running low on closet space?"
The door slides open a few moments after the voice speaks over the intercom, and then in comes Miss Sakamoto - even less imposing in person, she's a woman of average height, predictably wearing a long blue cloth skirt to accompany her green cardigan. She's managing to balance a fresh, steaming electric kettle, the hot water bottle, a fresh and neatly folded white robe on top of the first aid kit that was visible on the screen before. She finds space on a nearby surface to set down everything but the medical box before making her way to where Mitsuru is curled up.
"I'm sorry that we've had to meet for the first time under these circumstances, Ms. Tokugawa. I was hoping to spend our time listening to what you have to say without imposing on your space. Now, don't try to get up just yet! I have first aid training. I was actually a nurse, for a little while."
The counsellor steps around to the side of Mitsuru that the banchou girl is protecting and kneels next to her, setting the first aid kit down beside herself and beginning a tentative, contactless inspection of the potentially aggravated injury.
"Do you mind if I take a closer look? I promise, I'll be gentle."
"I am sorry we had to meet at all!"
Mitsuru unleashes the scathing rebuttal with a husky 'hmph' confirming her rough thug like reputation. She doesn't do anything to stop the intruder though. And for Mitsuru, she was an intruder! She doesn't struggle when Miss Sakamoto begins her work though. In fact, she takes a rather slug like performance, all her body going limp at every limb. It was an art well perfected by toddlers across the country, though Mitsuru herself was arguably not a 3 year old. When she is asked about a closer look, she just pouts harder and looks away.
At the very least she doesn't actively lash out as Miss Sakamoto reviews the injuries.
RThere are hardly any bruises left. The burns from before seemed to be only shades of freshly healed skin now: the brutal laceration across her chest was the actual problem. The nasty puncture wound was purple and stitched up. It looked like it was supposed to be on track for recovering, but the added exertion had pulled apart the scabbing. It wasn't serious yet, but would need to be resealed. Mitsuru gives an annoyed grunt. "Enjoying the show? I bet you aren't even a nurse. Just some pervert they let in because they don't care anymore!" There is a moment of pause.
"Well? Aren't you going to fix it?"
Miss Sakamoto is professional in her examination, though with perhaps a less detached, scientific air than that of the typical Mishima employee.
"I think it would be rather inhuman of me to take any pleasure in seeing a young woman in pain, Ms. Tokugawa. Don't worry, though - we'll get this fixed. It shouldn't even hurt."
The counsellor-nurse smiles.
"The good news is, you stopped before your stitches got pulled. We just need to freshen up your bandages. With that, a hot bath, and a water bottle, you'll feel as good as new, as long as you take your time. I can show you what you need to do to dress it again, if it's more comfortable for you."
The woman starts taking the necessary remedies and fresh bandages out of the first aid kit as she speaks.
Mitsuru's hackles were rising worse now, as she felt more and more uncomfortable. She didn't like adults in general. But this was a new thing she didn't like about adults. Instinctively, she recoils a bit from the touch of the woman. But she was treating her, she had to trust her, right? But she didn't. She didn't trust anybody except maybe Steve and Bob. But the discomfort as she is worked on at least jostles her out of her slug-like reaction. She was moving now. Especially on the comment about not taking pleasure in her pain. She seemed nice.
And she didn't like nice anymore, either.
"Miss Fujimura said that I wasn't going to have any more hot water until I did what I was supposed to..." The teen responded skeptically, squirming a bit as she moves into an upright sitting position, working with the strange lady a little bit. "And I wasn't going to get any more bottled water until I finished my homework. That I have to drink tap water like a filthy peas- like a poor person!" She halts. "I mean, I would prefer hard liquor from the can, because I'm a real hooligan, and this whole bunker stay has really gotten me mad because I am getting detoxed!" As the wound closes up, she looks away. "Ugh, I bet you want a favor don't you. Hot baths, sparkling water, you are tryin to butter me up?" She sneers at Miss Sakamoto, as her legs squirm a bit.
"Don't deny it, what do you want from me?"
Miss Sakamoto just smiles when Mitsuru mentions Miss Fujimura's intent to deny the teenager hot water.
"Don't worry about Miss Fujimura for now. I've been given discretion to observe and act on your well-being. I can have the hot water turned back on, at least for now. In fact..."
While thorough, the cleaning has gone perhaps faster than Mitsuru may have noticed, especially with as much as the girl has on her mind to speak. The counsellor offers the two ends of the bandage to Mitsuru to finish binding.
"If you don't mind finishing with these, I'll go ahead and make that call right now."
Miss Sakamoto takes out what appears to be a company cell phone and starts typing a message out to someone - presumably whoever is responsible for the maintenance of the bunker's living facilities.
"Now, I don't need any favours. The only favour I would be interested in is if you could consider spending less time doing sit-ups and a little more time working on your homework. Oh! And if you could, please write down a list of anything you need to help you feel more comfortable and focused on your studies, then give it to me next time I'm here, that would be a big help with my job."
She gives a little smile as she puts her device away.
Was this a carrot approach?
Mitsuru was trying to understand what this meant. What was the angle? She didn't trust Miss Sakamoto. She wouldn't trust her. They had abused the teen savagely, and now, all of a sudden, they had this nice sweet nurse lady who was taking care of her, and mothering her. As the binding is completed, Mitsuru scowls, blushing, as she averts her eyes. "Yare yare- good grief! What a useless waste of time. You think you can save my life, and I'll just do my homework? I don't care about your job, lady. I only care about myself!" She slams a palm on the floor of the bunker, before bringing her fingertips to her chest. Of course, it sounded like she was getting hot water again.
Not that she wanted a hot soaky bath or anything.
In fact, she sneers at that smile. "Come on, you think you could give me anything I wanted on my list anyways? I'll write down a whole bunch of stuff I need. I bet you'll read it, and blush!" Mitsuru huffs as she crosses her arms. "I'll take a long hot bath, and then, when I am done, I'll just do my push ups! But I'll fill out that list, for sure! I'll treat it as a ransom!" A ransom. "You'll read it to Grandpa Mishima, and he'll beat your head so hard that you'll cry or something! I'm a real tough girl, you know!" She rambles on, as she averts her eye. There is a pause as well. "What an idiot, too! I don't even have any paper to write down on either, because they give me those stupid tablets I don't even charge in!" Which was true, it was uncharged. But the teenage girl was blushing harder, as she keeps her eyes averted. "So maybe if you were serious, and not some loser, you would start by giving me some paper, like I'm saying please or something."
Which if Mitsuru is challenged later, she will point out she didn't actually say please.
"Oh, I don't know about saving your life," Miss Sakamoto says with a self-effacing, mirthful laugh. "You're a tough young lady. I'm sure that, at worst, I saved you from a little unnecessary pain and scarring."
By the time that Mitsuru is 'asking' for a piece of paper, the mothering counsellor-nurse is already removing several sheets of paper from her notepad. She even hands over the nice-looking pen that she's been using to write down her notes.
"Here, you can go ahead and keep this. If you run out of things to put on the extra sheets, you can always use them for doodling or something like that!"
With that, Miss Sakamoto gets up and starts setting up the hot water bottle with the help of the kettle. "I would suggest waiting until tomorrow to get started on push-ups, but if you get impatient, just remember to take it slow. Let's see if that hot water is working, yet!"
The brown-haired woman turns the faucet to hot and turns it on, before waiting expectantly.
Mitsuru was feeling funny again, when the invitation to the bath is finally made.
Up to that point, she felt actually pretty fortified against whatever this Sakamoto was going to cook up against her. She was resolved against these adults, especially the ones who were pretending to be nice to get to her, in order to manipulate her. In fact, she was going to ora ora ora her! Give her a good kick and punch, probably. Of course, she was going to keep the papers. Of course, she was going to enjoy the kettle, and have some tea.
But a bath?
Her mother hadn't given her a bath since she was a little girl, before she was never talking to her and always bullying her and threatening her. Which was a strange thing to think! Mitsuru didn't know why she thought about that. Because she had servants bathe her when she was older, until they became, well, until Mitsuru became a liability to the servants, always bullying them and losing her temper. And Miss Sakamoto was basically a servant, wasn't she? She didn't really have any authority per say. So what was wrong with her letting her baby her a bit? Hah. Baby her. It was funny to think of it like that. It's not like she had to really do anything about it. Mitsuru stands up, bringing a hand to the freshly stitched wound. She was averting her eyes, her face crimson. "I-i-i Guess- I mean, whatever, sure. You're lucky I'm feeling pretty gross. Okay, I'll let you set up a bath." She squeezes her eyes shut as she doubly averts her eyes away from her counselor.
"But don't expect me to get attached to you or anything!"
################## ONE MONTH LATER ##################
The bunker had changed slightly over the few weeks. There were more snack wrappers than ever before; though it isn't hardly messy. The main table of the dining area was now mostly stacked with books and notebooks; Mitsuru herself was dressed in clean slacks and a dress shirt; she wasn't going to be in any school uniform just yet, but she liked the new clothing she was getting. As she finished writing in her journal, she gave it a shut. Moving over to the tablet, she taps on it, activating an alert as she calls in. "Miss Sakamoto, I finished my math assignment. You're not going to find any mistakes." The teenager states with an arrogant huff.
"So you better not be thinking about backing out of your promise!"
It's a matter of about seven seconds before the television screen in the bunker activates and Miss Sakamoto's face appears. She's wearing a smile and a similar outfit to before with a red cardigan instead of green, and she has the faintest sing-song in her tone when she speaks.
"That's great to hear, Ms. Tokugawa. I'll be right over to check your work, and then, if it turns out that you're telling me the truth, then of course, I'll keep my promise."
The brown-haired woman smiles before the camera turns off again.
When the door chimes a few minutes later, Miss Sakamoto is standing behind it, with a cardboard box carried by a handle in one hand that's slightly on the large side. While the box itself is unmarked, there's a definite promise of a treat implied by its very presence.
Telling the truth.
Mitsuru winces hard at the comment. Of course, there was a reason why it was brought up. Mitsuru was good at lying sometimes. She just pretended she wasn't. Mitsuru pretended a lot of things still. And Miss Sakamoto was learning more and more what Mitsuru would hide, and what she would reveal only under duress. It was enough to start a fight, over the fact that she would even mention it to the teenager. Undo all the progress, and just start ripping things apart.
But she can bury that hostility down for a little bit, over her reward.
"I think you will be utterly humiliated when you look at how good I did with my work!" Mitsuru states haughtily. She forgets to correct herself. She's been forgetting that more and more these days. It juts seemed like a lot of work to do, especially when you audience was just Miss Sakamoto. A lot of Mitsuru's hostile urges seemed to be resolved over this arrangement. Mitsuru would do what she supposed to, and Miss Sakamoto would give her privileges and rewards. Treats. Mitsuru never compromised her dignity of course. Her overwhelming strong sense of self, with that hardcore thug exterior. Mitsuru always reminded herself that she never had to compromise anything. In fact, it was Miss Sakamoto and Heihachi and everyone else who had to compromise for her sake. Everyone... everyone else. "Hmph, that's all?" She repeats as she eyes the box. "Well, it will have to do I guess." And she lowers her voice to a whisper, hiding her mouth as her eyes go wide.
"And can I ask you about the 'thing' too?"
If the counsellor's words cut at the teenager, there's no evidence of malice or falsehood in the smile with which she greets Mitsuru.
"On the contrary, Ms. Tokugawa. I would be very proud if you've done well with your work. Of course, I already am. You've come a very long way toward becoming an independent and responsible young woman already."
She leans in conspiratorially in response to the last question, glancing askance as if to check whether teacher and student are being observed, in the manner an older sister might check if mother were around.
"And we'll discuss the 'thing' after I've reviewed your assignment."
She gives a discreet wink before carrying on into the bunker dwelling.
A few minutes later, Miss Sakamoto sits at the table, now sporting a pair of black-framed reading glasses as she pores over the latest contents of Mitsuru's work journal, a red pen sitting like a scalpel between her fingers, she herself possessed of all the warmth of a vivisectionist. The cardboard box is sitting in the middle of the table, its fate hanging precariously in the balance.
These were the only times in Miss Sakamoto's interactions in which she showed complete emotional neutrality, pitilessly correcting and annotating in the margins where necessary. Earlier work was fraught with such clipped messages as 'SHOW YOUR WORK' and 'EXPLAIN' and, of course, the simple yet ever-fearsome 'X.' While she was always willing to discuss ways to improve and offer support after the fact, there was something very clinical about her methodology when it came to the actual grading of coursework.
One by one, Mitsuru's answers to the math problems are judged and found satisfactory, the only sound made by Miss Sakamoto the brief double-stroke of pen on paper with each check mark.
The woman straightens up, clicking her pen off and removing and folding her glasses before tucking both into the pocket of her cardigan and smoothing it down.
"I'm sorry, Mitsuru. On problem twenty-nine, you followed all of the steps correctly. You appear to have just miscalculated the final result."
The look that the counsellor gives Mitsuru is hard to read, eyes indistinctly expressive and the corners of her pursed lips slightly downturned. It's sympathetic, or apologetic, or disappointed, or perhaps all of them at the same time.
The teacher's hand grasps the handle of the cardboard box and pulls it toward herself.
Miss Sakamoto's head tilts to one side as she suddenly gives a sunny, toothless smile. It might give the subtlest sense of deja vu.
"...Since you obviously tried your best, I think we can bend the rules just this once."
It isn't the first time that Miss Sakamoto has overridden the rules, to note - though it is the first time that she's done so with one of her own rules. She slides the box across the table toward Mitsuru.
"Now, if we hurry, we'll still be able to catch that concert you've been wanting to see while it's still live. By virtual attendance, of course."
There was a kind of game in place, when Miss Sakamoto begins the grading.
When she arrived, of course Mitsuru put all her attention on her. Why wouldn't she? It is not unusual at all for the teenage girl report to her instructor. She wasn't a teacher, she was more of a grader. Like a hamster eagerly waiting for the food pellets to be refilled, she smiles smugly as she turns over her notebook, all her work, as she stands up. And she is quiet, actually quiet as she waits. Because why should she distract Miss Sakamoto confirming the obvious. And she confirms her hard work. She confirms her flawless execution, as befitting a real banchao. A prissy pampered princess wouldn't successfully eviscerate homework assignments back to back, right on time. No, Mitsuru can do it because that's what a hardened thug would do. She was dominating every expectation before her. And then. And then.
There was a cross.
Mitsuru's blood runs cold for a moment. Then fiery hot. The teenager's temper starts to flare, even before Miss Sakamoto confronts her on it. Mitsuru puffs up her face a moment. First of all, when she describes how Mitsuru followed the steps properly? She was either lying on that, or lying on the answer. Lying, lying, lying. Mitsuru was convinced of it instantly. Why? Was she really that self-assured on her work? Was she really that confident? Well, it's a strange thing now, Mitsuru was finding. Being alone, where the only person you had to prove was one person, where everything was just yourself against one other person. It was like a fight! You didn't have to worry about other people jumping you from behind, tricking you without you knowing about it. It was just one on one, it was so simple. And yet, when Sakamoto yields?
Mitsuru audibly relaxes, as she exhales.
"Thank you, Miss Sakamoto." Mitsuru says almost breathlessly, almost modestly as she bows her head. A thank you? Well, Mitsuru was grateful for it. The rules weren't just there to be broken of course. But when Mitsuru tried so hard to follow the rules, and was recognized for trying so hard, how could she help but be grateful. And Miss Sakamoto was so understanding. Mitsuru didn't understand why she was being understood. She didn't really dwell on it too long every night, and sometimes a few times over the day. But it felt good to be understood, where you didn't have to fight and explain everything that mattered to you, and someone could be able to decide what's fair and unfair. Miss Sakamoto was reasonable and fair, which was more than what any adult did for her. Maybe more than Steve. Steve, steve, how could she forget Steve? She had to get out to save Steve. It's only been a few days though, hasn't it? A week? She couldn't remember the time. How many assignments has she done so far? But how could she think about that now. She was actually going to get to see the concert. That concert. The one concert. She barely could keep herself from squealing with excitement. Of course, she had to, because she was cool and collected and didn't get flustered. But there was a squeak. She didn't care if it was virtual as she scrambles to open the box.
Of course, she had to do it with Sawamoto.
She stops her opening of the box, and looks back over to her instructor. "Are we going to watch it together?" Mitsuru asks brightly, before blushing. "I mean, you obviously have to supervise me. It's your job and everything to pay attention to me- to watch me." Mitsuru turns brighter red. "But you don't have to report it or anything. This is our little secret! I don't want anybody getting the idea I am getting soft." She was speaking faster and faster, as she was getting nervous and unconsciously preparing two cups. "I mean, have you even heard about the band 'CYS?'" She idles aloud, as she gets everything ready, brushing off a stool chair with her hand.
"They were one of the new faces of rock and roll before I was, um, put away."
Inside the box is a takeaway meal, the highlight of which, for Mitsuru, is likely to be the pearl milk tea that accompanies it.
"Of course I'll watch it with you, Ms. Tokugawa. It's important that I keep abreast of what sort of music you're listening to, after all."
She's already started to casually emerge from her chair, smiling at Mitsuru as she pushes it back under the table.
"I've read a little about them, but I've never heard their music for. I'm looking forward to hearing them, to be honest. Do you know any of their songs that I might have heard?"
Mitsuru starts to grab at the meal, before halting.
"We should share this! But not the tea, please." She insists, as she prepares her spot neatly. While she hates tea ceramony, she wanted it to be properly arranged. It was only polite to her teacher. As she mentions strangely and off-handedly about keeping abreast of her music tastes, the teenager unconsciously puts a hand over her chest. Her wound was healing much better now, since Miss Sakamoto took over her care. Now, the teacher asked her about her music tastes, and of course, about the CYS.
And she almost immediately starts telling everything.
"I'm not what you would call obsessive, I mean, I am just causal, but you might have heard their song 'Bloody' at some of the intros for Saturday Night Fights; they are really close to the fighting circuit because they aren't just musicians, but also fighters. You know how the Psycho Soldiers also are professional fighters, but also Athena Asamiya works primarily as an idol, with another one of her teammates acting as the bass player, I'm not sure which one. But they are CYS because it's the name of the members, and they have a kind of cross between classical music styles with more hard edge rock, a kind of mix of the old and the new, which I think is very promising for their future!"
Mitsuru starts hopping, as she frisks out the earlier flier she asked for on them.
"Anyways there is Yashiro, that's the hot one." She explains, as she points to the taller, muscled man amongst the trio. "He plays the guitar. There is Shermie, she's the girl, she plays the keyboard, and Chris, that's the guy who looks like a girl, he is the one who plays the drums. In terms of fighting techniques, Yashiro does a modified Capoeira style, with a focus on power; Shermie, she is such a dumb tease and she does a kind of modified joishi wrestler style, her signature is a bridging german suplex I think, she's such a total showboat. Oh, and Chris, he does a kind of northern chinese boxing style, you know Shaolan? Very acrobatic and fast." Mitsuru was talking extremely fast now, as she runs through the statistics and fighting knowledge like breathing. "When were were in the Fight Club, they came up because any time there is a fighting team it's important, but we couldn't find any of their official matches, and there was a lot of thought, a lot of anticipation, um." Mitsuru catches her breath, shaking her fists coyly together as she taps them.
"Do you follow the professional fighting circuit, Miss Sakamoto?"
Miss Sakamoto folds her arms across her middle as she leans in to study the figures on the flier as Mitsuru gives the guided tour of the band's members. She nods along attentively, finally straightening up as Mitsuru delivers the question to her.
"Oh, I must admit, I do watch the occasional match on Saturday Night Fights now and then. It's so crazy how they suddenly decided that so many fighters couldn't compete anymore. Have you watched that new fighting channel that started up because of it?"
She tilts her head to one side, then smiles apologetically.
"Oh, I suppose you won't have had a chance to, since it only started since you've been in here, hasn't it? Perhaps I can convince your father to let you watch some of the matches, since you've been doing so well."
Convince her father to watch some of the matches.
It was supposed to be a good idea. In fact, it almost would be. Mitsuru nibbles on the bait, looking at Sakamoto with big, eager eyes. First she was getting so close to Mitsuru, and she was helping her, and she was talking about the fights. In fact, she recently was getting some of the news from Miss Sakamoto about the SNFs, and the rumors of the competition for it. And now, she was offering to work with her -father- to let her watch some of the matches. How wonderful. How wonderful. Why would she be able to do that? Mitsuru almost latches on to that, the meaning behind that. But something was wrong. The Darkstalkers. SNF. Matches. She felt so natural and normal around Miss Sakamoto. She felt so normal. Because when this had happened before, she could always fight it. But she didn't have those defenses up right now. She was just so happy. And in a flash, that real Mitsuru suddenly comes out.
"I'm glad that those Darkstalkers are banned."
Mitsuru states coldly and bitterly. She glances around the room warily. Was that movement? "They're monsters. They are awful, awful monsters. They tried to kill me, they- they shouldn't be allowed to be treated as people. I mean, I don't know how I would feel if I was made to fight them on TV. It's not a fun fight, it's kind of sick." She mutters, feeling actually sick. She looked at the tea, unable to touch it. "Really, really sick. Like the Gears, or the wolves-" She looks at the door suddenly. Her stomach was feeling worse now. "I- I had to be in a bunker like this, for the Gears War, and I had- I made- I ran off, and then the wolves came- no the wolves came at the bar, the werewolves, they came after me, and Steve, and they- they were everywhere. And I- we were trapped, and I ruined- I ruined everything, so we ran away, we ran away, and-"
"And then -she- showed up."
Mitsuru hugs herself, trembling. Why was she trembling? Was she sick? She must be sick. Because she couldn't be scared. No, she was sick. "The creepy lady with the whip." She murmurs, staring off into space, numbed. "I hated her. She attacked us before- before Grandpa rescued us. Kidnapped us. We were kidnapped, Grandpa Mishima tricked me, and abused my trust, but- but if he didn't, then she would come and find me. The creepy lady with the whip. The hussy, that- that nasty woman, that monster." She goes on and on, the horrors flooding over her. "with her perfect body, her perfect confidence, she just- she just made Steve into putty. Can you imagine that, Miss Sakamoto? A horrible monster that just takes men like that, and makes them into animals. To trick them, and lure them away from me, like dadd- like Steve. Any men. I- I just barely stopped her, I think- I hope. But she called me a nemesis, Miss Sakamoto." She was shaking badly now. But she was drinking the pearl tea now. She was drinking and drinking. "I mean, if I was like that, then I wouldn't be afraid. But why would I want to be like that? Why would I want to big some fat chested leotard wearing hussy that all girls are jealous of, and all men want to pay attention to and do anything for, and never having to feel fake. Never ever fake. Just a real bad lady, a really bad lady, a real bad monster, that can do anything." The teenager falls silent, staring at the screen. Her tone was flat. "Is the concert starting soon, Miss Sakamoto? I-I don't want to think about bad people and monsters, I don't want to think about Daddy, or Steve, or- I don't want to think about what's happened to me, or what's happening to men now."
"I just want to watch Shermie, and Chris, and Yashiro just... just play."
While attentive, the counsellor is also busying herself with arranging her portion of the takeaway as Mitsuru begins to bare all of her resentment and trauma at the hands of the Darkstalkers. Miss Sakamoto has just picked up a piece of salmon roll between two chopsticks and is about to pop it into her mouth when the mysterious whip-wielding hussy-monster is brought up. She twirls it slowly back and forth, lowering it from her lips as she listens. The side of her face that's nearer to Mitsuru holds a neutral expression, but on the other side, the hidden one, there's a faint twitch at the corner of the lips that can't quite be suppressed.
When Mitsuru finally falls silent for a moment, the brown-haired mentor pops the piece of sushi into her mouth, chews, and swallows. She smiles.
She dabs at her lips, then clears her throat, turning an apologetic, compassionate expression toward Mitsuru.
"Oh, sorry, honey - I mean, Ms. Tokugawa. I hope I didn't seem callous just now. It's just that, well, I know that you're safe now. It doesn't matter how pretty or clever or strong this monster lady with the whip is, there's no way she could get into here - even if she knew where you were, there's no way she'd get past all of the security. You might as well forget about her."
As she's saying this, a perhaps distressingly familiar face comes on the television screen.
The pink-haired, black-horned and green-eyed visage of social media celebrity-monster Demon Queen Lyraelle appears, smiling brightly as a creepy musical track plays.
"I'm Demon Queen Lyraelle, and this concert has been spons-ert by Darkheart Productions and the Midnight Channel! Come check us out at The Midnight Channel dot com, where you can see the best matches you won't get anywhere else, hosted by Your Majesty truly! Enjoy the show~"
The demonette strikes a pose, looking over her shoulder at the camera and winking before the picture fades and returns to the logo for the concert.
For some reason, rather than CYS, the logo seems to be advertising something else.
"Oh! Do you think this 'Iori Yagami' is the opening act?" Miss Sakamoto asks, dabbing soy sauce from her lips with a napkin.
For a moment, Mitsuru felt better.
She felt safe, when after exposing herself, exposing her naked soul, Miss Sakamoto didn't just rend her. She even called her honey for a moment. It was a sweet. That maybe, maybe Mitsuru was slowly learning about the real Miss Sakamoto too. That underneath that restrained warmth, there was a real motherly love there, ready to take care of her. Wanting to take care of her. An authentic realness of humanity that Mitsuru felt was so missing from everywhere. She had been an ever-present beacon of life for the teenager. She felt happy now, she felt safe. The horrible hussy demoness wouldn't get her. She wouldn't even get Steve. No matter how awful Grandpa Mishima was, at the very least, he wouldn't let her have Steve. It was a cold comfort, but a real one as she settled in, and looked to watch the beginning of the show. Mitsuru feels the ice surge in her veins.
The shape of horror spreading totally over her screen. She's there. She's everywhere. She's taking away Saturday Night Fights. She isn't a nightmare anymore. She's a reality, she's part of the new reality. The Darkstalkers won. They had taken over. And now, Mitsuru was one of the last holdouts of the old humanity, hidden away in the bunker. When Daddy and Grandpa talked about how Japan was falling into decadence, ever since they forced the shogun out, Mitsuru would listen. And she would see it all around her. Everywhere. Even Seijyun High was crawling with pathetic shells of Japanese greatness. Everywhere. Every single person. And now, the demoness was there. Penetrating the sacred realms of fight culture. Honorable combat, soiled forever. Mitsuru felt a disgust so overbearing, she kind of just wanted to vomit until she died. It was a yawning, howling madness, a profound abomination against reality that violated the teenager's senses. It couldn't possibly get worse.
And then it's Iori Yagami instead.
Mitsuru's despair is overwhelming, as she falls completely silent. There is nothing under that face. Nothing for a moment. No words. No spirit. No passion. Just the numbness, as she stares into the lack of CYS. Just some... some shitty jazz band? Mitsuru instinctively leans into Miss Sakamoto, her expression faraway. Desperate for support, any support. Kindness. She needed the kindness of Miss Sakamoto to ease the endless misery and suffering. Endless, truly endless. Her father had not come to save her. And when he did? It might be with his new monster girl wife, replacing her mother. Replacing her. Maybe he would be replacing them both. That's the future now, wasn't it? That's what was waiting for her outside. A new world, where Darkstalkers and Humans would be mingled together. And there would be no place for Mitsuru out there either. She turns into Miss Sakamoto now, to hug her. She wanted the pain the stop.
Maybe if she got question 29 right, maybe the pain wouldn't have even started.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Mitsuru. I wish I had known about the concert," Miss Sakamoto is saying as she turns toward Mitsuru. When the hug is sought, the counsellor seems slightly surprised, eyes widening - but then she smiles and places an arm comfortingly around the teenager's shoulders, stroking the girl's hair lightly.
"There, there. I'll make it up to you. After all, this was supposed to be a big day for you."
The woman's head cants a little to the side as she tries to get a better look at Mitsuru's face.
"You know, I was going to wait until after the concert to tell you about that 'thing' that you wanted to talk about... but it seems like you could do with some good news right now."
Miss Sakamoto's lips turn slightly upward at the corners.
About one minute ago, Mitsuru would have wanted the thing more than anything. It was a secret she was sharing piece by piece with Miss Sakamoto. A kind of compromise with her imprisonment. A kind of acceptance. She nuzzles into Miss Sakamoto a moment, like she used to when she was a little girl with her mommy, with her mother. When she could still have love and attention and affection that wasn't slimy and disgusting, when it was okay and innocent. When she was young. The thing. It seemed so long ago, when she was so excited for the thing.
But her current feelings now could be seen clearly on her face.
Despair. A constant, unyielding despair. Mitsuru was so desperate for hope and human affection, she didn't know what she would do. That bait was now dangling in front of her, swaying side to side. The thing. Good news. There was that flicker of hope. The only hope left in this miserable existence of Darkstalkers and terribld jazz rock. Mitsuru looks back towards the television and moment. Good was relative now
But it was probably better than whatever the heck this Arashi no Saxophone crud was.
"Yes Miss Sakamoto." The teenager states distantly, as she pulls away from her suddenly, almost aggressively. Her voice was soft and weak. "You had good news. Can I see him?" Mitsuru was usually more subtle than that, at least, subtle in her own way. But a lot of the nuance was shocked out of her. Mitsuru could barely hide how desperately hungry she was to see him. To reach out to him, to talk to him, to know that he knew that she was okay. To know that he cared. She was waiting for that hope.
She needed that hope more than ever right now.
"Not yet, but very soon," Miss Sakamoto quietly reassures the despondent young woman with a faintly pleasant expression. Just as Mitsuru is direct, the counsellor is direct in her reply. Her tone is even, but there's the faintest edge of contained excitement to it. "Your father has told me that, if you continue your progress and perform well on your tests, he will come to visit you. Perhaps as soon as within a month's time. In the meanwhile, he's asked me to give you this letter."
As she says so, she reaches into her cardigan, removing an envelope from an inner sleeve and offering it to Mitsuru freely.
Mitsuru was familiar with that language. Mommy used it. The butler used it. The teachers used it. Miss Sakamoto, no matter how much Mitsuru made her feel different, wasn't that different from the adults. Not yet. The denial, the delay forever. You just had to do one more thing, before you get what you want. But always one more thing. Mitsuru, even in her despair, could feel the flicker of her jaded cynicism pierce through it. And yet, when the envelope comes out, the despair and cynicism ebb. A note. A letter. Writing. Delicately, she reaches out to the envelope. It was from daddy, right? Daddy, daddy who was supposed to have rescued her. Why was this the new normal? Was it because of the Darkstalkers? Mitsuru was so confused now, but it was so easy to be confused now in the bunker. She opens the envelope. She reads the letter.
And she understands.
################## ONE MONTH LATER ##################
Everything had to be perfect.
The sitting room of the bunker had been transformed into a proper chashitsu. At least, as best as she could muster. Mitsuru was dressed in the traditional iromuji, wrapped in a nagoya obi. The matcha is in place. The scrolls were in place. Everything was cleaned down to the toothbrush and baking soda basics. The tea table was set up. The little snacks, generously provided by Miss Sakamoto, was carefully arranged in a bowl. The chabana, the flower arrangements were in place. Miss Sakamoto generously allowed her to pick the flowers, and they were provided. Miss Sakamoto was always generous. The mats were in place. And she ran through the rituals in her head over and over. The room was perfect.
But the most important thing was her face.
The makeup was the easy part. The white painting concealing her features, making her smooth, making her beautiful. That was easy. What was hard was the other mask she had to put on. She had to be serene. Expressionless. But gentle. She had to make her own face into the mask. That was the most important part. She had to be the perfect model, the perfect figure. A perfect woman doesn't lose her temper. She was steel wrapped in silk, her strength was from within, not a show outside. She had to be perfectly feminine.
And she had to conceal the hatred.
Oh, the white hot loathing, the furious rage. Everything that was a central core of her as a girl had to be as tightly suppressed as her kimono. Everything had to be bound and restricted underneath a mask. Because this was her final exam. This was her final test. This was the final challenge. Everything for the entire month was building to this point. She passed all her other exams. But this was the most important one. Because then Daddy will come to take her home. She wouldn't be trapped in the bunker anymore. This was just one humiliation she would have to endure. Just the one. To prove to everyone that she didn't have to be left in a bunker anymore. All she had to do was to get the perfect grade.
And she would be free.
Mitsuru was all ready, and comes to the tablet. It was a concession to the test. She taps on it, and her tone is as small and demur as she could make it. And as it turns out, when the teenager tried? The Tokugawa was very, very good at making herself sound small and demur. At making herself sound elegant. She was very good at making herself into many things. And one of those things turned out to be a delicate porcelain doll, ready for a husband to keep in the house. Her words make no mistakes, as they use the proper formal language.
"I am ready, Miss Sakamoto."
"Very good, Mitsuru-chan. Expect the door to ring in two minutes. Please be ready."
The intercom goes quiet as Miss Sakamoto's voice fades away.
Two minutes later, nearly to the second, the door buzzes. Mitsuru has been told that she will be tested, and of course, it stands to reason that she will be tested by Miss Sakamoto, who has administered all of her most significant tests in the past months.
However, when Mitsuru approaches to let her examiner in, just before she can reach the door, it slides open, and standing in the frame is a lean, pale and severe man who would be more familiar in a suit but is now instead wearing a kimono appropriate for tea ceremony. He holds his hands conservatively behind his back, his lips betraying no emotion as his dark eyes fall on Mitsuru.
"Good evening, ojou-sama."
Unmistakably, the man in the doorframe is none other than Mitsuru's father - Matsudaira Tokugawa.
Mitsuru thought she was ready for this.
She had repeated the tea ceremony over and over and over again. She molded herself for the tradition, she twisted and strained herself to satisfy the creeds and culture of the old Shogunate. It was an old, old culture, and Mitsuru had to make herself fulfill it. It was how she needed to break out of her bunker, all thanks to the help of Miss Sakamoto. When she came to the door to greet her instructor and caretaker, she felt her stomach leap to her throat. She stares into the shape of a man all too familiar in her life.
Don't break, Mitsuru.
Everything around her is cast iron steel, as the words enter her. The maelstrom of emotions hurl at her. But her mind endures. After the endless hardships she had endured physically and mentally for the last several months, her composure refuses to crack at the sheer surge of a stress test. The letter did suggest that he would be overseeing the final examination. But Mitsuru had imagined that he would be doing from the shadows, like always. Always fall away.
And yet, it's only those three words that almost make her collapse.
It's impossible to totally describe how powerfully she wanted to just stop it. How powerfully she wanted to drop the facade, and run back to daddy. To cry in his lap like she did when she was a little girl, to bawl and sob and let him hold her. Or perhaps even lash out and hurt him, punish him for how long he made her wait. A hundred thousand million things she wanted to do, running through her veins. A hundred thousand million instincts, trying to force her and drive her into doing exactly what she wanted. Hatred. Raw hatred was trying to seize control of Mitsuru. At everything and everyone that was forcing this ultimate humbling, this ultimate insult. But she couldn't. She just couldn't. Because if she blinked?
Then everything would be over.
Mitsuru would not allow herself to lose so late in the game. She was going to win this fight. She was going to pass, and everyone would be at her feet. She would do everythinf she could. And it didn't matter if it was her daddy or not. She would love him, and she would hate him, but only after this stupid, stupid test. It was the rules put into place.
All Mitsuru had to do is follow the rules just this once.
"Welcome, Otoosan." Responds Mitsuru with the training and grooming that only the best money can buy, under the purest form of distress. She goes through the rehearsed bow, the theatrics of the ritual undergoing. After her father removed her shoes, he would be brought to the purification basin; for him to wash his hands. And after that, he would be introduced to the the small low table, to the mat at the most respected position at the table. She would bow again. She would wait for him to be seated. He could be free to make any conversation he pleased. She would answer as a proper Japanese woman.
All while she cleaned the tools to make the matcha.
The head of the Tokugawa clan is not a warm and gregarious man by nature, but he approaches the ceremony with a quiet detachment and sense of traditional protocol exceptional even for his own standards. Still, there's a hint of underlying warmth. Appropriate formalities are exchanged, appreciations expressed; the spirit of mutual charity respected, even in light of the situation. It's not until he is seated that Matsudaira reveals any depth of conversation beyond the tepid surface.
"When Miss Sakamoto spoke of your progress, I thought that she was selling me a fantasy. I will admit, I expected to be received in gusoku rather than a kimono."
The face of Mitsuru's father would be almost as appropriate for a poker table as a tea ceremony, but there's still that faint hint of warmth that suggests that the statement is one made in good humour.
Mitsuru felt the piercing sting of her father drive right through her heart.
It was a cloying kindness, one that Mitsuru had grown to loath over time. That faraway presence that was always part of her father. Daddy's expression was that distant, warm neutral. That playful comment, almost was teasing. There was no kindness more calculating and cold than Daddy Tokugawa. Not Kaicho. Not B. B. Hood. Nobody. Mitsuru could feel that penetrating will slicing through her kimomo, the careful comments delicately aiming her weaknesses with the precision of a martial artist. If anything, daddy was being a bit sloppy. Admitting that he could be wrong about things. And how it wasn't Mitsuru's fault that he came to expect better. She had a lot to say about her father, and what he had to do with her imprisonment.
But she said nothing.
No, just a faint, gentle giggle, vapid and hollow. Beautifully vapid. Elegantly vapid. Upon over 500 years of crafting and directing the whims and ways a young lady should respond to her man, whether a father, a brother, a lover, a stranger. Her guest had said something witty. And Daddy Tokugawa deserved to feel like he said something witty. He didn't deserve Mitsuru complaining about how she would have picked the right outfit if she had known who was coming over. He didn't deserve Mitsuru screaming and howling that, after months, actual months of her being gone, that all he could come up with was that she was wearing the wrong outfit. He didn't deserve having a pot of scalding hot water thrown at the wall, as Mitsuru ran for the door to escape. He didn't deserve any of that.
He only deserved a proper tea ceramony.
With the giggling response, she gives the bow. And the ceramony falls into a gentle serenity. Mitsuru begins to ritually wash the instruments to make the matcha, the powdered green tea carefully selected and provided by Miss Sakamoto. After the pot, the cups, and all the tea making materials were cleaned, she begins to prepare the tea itself. She places the water in the pot, and places the pot upon the stove. And there, she waits. This ritual was supposed to take 45 minutes. It was a gauntlet of the spirit, as well as the body and mind. There is silence, as she shuts her eyes and waits on her knees. She felt weak. Naked. Exposed. But she tried so hard not to snap. She would not snap. She hoped that in spite of how long she wanted to see daddy, how much she wanted to forgive him, and apologize, that he would stay silent too. Every word was an incredible challenge upon her soul. She was almost holding herself together.
She might even make it.
Matsudaira remains placid and impenetrable as Mitsuru busies herself with the responsibilities of the hostess. Much of his time seems to be devoted to studying the girl quietly, observing her practice while passing judgment neither aloud nor through the non-verbal cues that his daughter might easily pick up on.
Eventually, he does speak again, and this time, it is with a simple question.
"Tell me, ojou-sama. Do you hold Miss Sakamoto in high estimation?"
The patriarch's dark eyes fall on Mitsuru's own, the analytical edge in his gaze seeming to sharpen.
Mitsuru feels the sweat on her brow. It's not the first time she's been under the knife. She knows her father. She would always know her father. Only mother knew him better than her. And she could feel every mistake being torn apart silently. Was he going to fail her? He wouldn't would he? But he would. He could justify a hundred thousand ways to keep her far away in a bunker, where she could be groomed into the perfect young to ransom off to some husband. Never needing to see her. Never needing to care for her. All as a favor from Grandpa Mishima. That's what this all was, wasn't, anymore? Was it all just a favor to fix her?
And he asks about Miss Sakamoto.
"Miss Sakamoto has been a very talented instructor." Mitsuru states with the soft breeze of her voice, the mask running through her lips. It's dangerously honest. She almost cracks, as that flood of emotion surges in the opening. She tenses up, suppressing it. ANother mistake, wasn't it? Wasn't it a mistake. She continues the ritual, as the water heats up. The matcha was nearly ready, with the long pauses. "My work is her work, my performance her performance." She readies the pot, to pour the tea. She almost had it. She almost had control again. Her face was starting to twitch. But she just had to make it to the end. Serve the tea, relaxing, and then clean up, and then he will leave. So close.
So very close.
Matsudaira's expression does not open in response to his daughter's answer. His lips remain tight, though with the gentle grace expected for the tone of the tea ritual. Pot and daughter may both be heating up beneath the surface, but the patriarch remains cool.
"A good answer."
That is all that is said by Matsudaira Tokugawa, until Mitsuru has begun to pour the tea, and the thought is revealed to be one of two parts, the second half sharper than the first.
"But, then, would the same not have always been true?"
No it wasn't true.
The response screams in Mitsuru's head. It wasn't true, it wasn't true, it wasn't true. Mitsuru wasn't owned by Miss Sakamoto. She wasn't owned by her father either. She owned all her success, all of it was all because of her hard work. And if she failed? Then it would be her fault she failed, wasn't it? Mitsuru's hidden rage was beginning to direct inward at making such a stupid mistake. A stupid mistake, that is, unless she could recover. Already, she felt unstable.
But the tea would not spill.
She serves the tea, with the candy in place. And then, her in place. Once everything was placed in comfort, does she make her response carefully, and gently. "It cannot be helped." Was the words of not just Mitsuru, but the whole of Japanese culture. Endurance with grace. That was something Mitsuru could recognize, respect, and cling on too. Gaman. For once, she felt like she made a right answer. The pressure and fear was fading now.
And in its place, hopeful resolve.
For a moment, Matsudaira's eyes close, a slow and steady breath drawing quietly in through his nostrils. The corners of his lips do not betray any emotion, until, finally -
Doubtlessly rare, it seems a serene expression of sincere satisfaction, perhaps even approval. It's a concession, something that might be expected for a respected business partner. He starts to raise his tea to his lips, but stops it just before his chin and lowers it, opening his eyes.
"You have done well, Mitsuru-chan."
The ceremony - and, surely, the test - is not complete, and yet...?
"I have been considering your situation."
The cryptic revelation hangs in the air for a moment as he finally sips from his tea.
"You have truly transformed in this cocoon. And like the butterfly, I believe that it is time that you take flight."
Matsudaira affords himself an interlude for a piece of candy before continuing.
"You have proven yourself capable of the gentle nature expected of a good wife."
'Yamato nadeshiko' is the precise term used by the patriarch.
"However, to deny your talent as a fighter is to deny your true identity. It is my hope that, like a true samurai, you may one day resolve the dual nature of artist and warrior."
It's everything Mitsuru wanted to hear.
She wanted Daddy to tell her the words that were coming out for months. Everything up to this moment was coming. That she -was- doing everything right. That she -was- right, in trying to be a strong warrior. That she was balancing the strength of a samurai, with the spirit of a woman. That she didn't -have- to only be a porcelain doll to sit on the shelf of some rich Japanese businessman. Daddy Tokugawa was revealing the full truth that Mitsuru always knew in her heart. She did it. She won. She won, and it cost her only her pride. Something was wrong with her eyes, her face.
No, there couldn't be any tears. It was a test, even if it was real. A sleeve comes to the corner of her eyes. She tried to be gentle, she tried to be correct. But she couldn't see a reflection of the makeup being smudged, the white paint smeared slightly. She bows her head, as all she could, before she sips her matcha.
"You honor me, father."
Matsudaira's eyes close and his head bows slightly as he raises his matcha to his lips once more.
"You honor me."
He takes a long, peaceful sip, and for a moment there is a pure serenity on the old man's features.
Then, suddenly, something is wrong.
It starts with a cough, a sputtering of tea. Perhaps the drink went down the wrong way. It's more than that, though. The patriarch clutches at his throat, lurching forward.
His face starts to turn red as the bowl falls from his hands, wobbling on the mat as it lands. His wild eyes turn toward Mitsuru's face.
He reaches a hand toward her, fingers curling horribly as his strength seems to be fading fast.
"I should... have... known..."
Matsudaira falls onto his side, rolling over to his back as his body goes limp, eyes staring glassily at the ceiling, unseeing.
Mitsuru had finally won.
She doesn't yet explode in elation, but under her serene mask was the fountain of happiness, as her father heaps the praise on. Her trials were over. She had done it. She had proven herself to her father, her family. She had done so, and as her father words told her, she didn't have to sacrifice her values to do it. She didn't have to be a painted doll, a painted girl. After all her suffering, all her fighting, all her pain and misery, after all her running, after all her imprisonment, after everything that had happened, it was now over. The painful rift between herself and her family was finally beginning to fully and truly heal. There was still a lot to deal with, and it wasn't going to be totally fixed overnight. But Mitsuru could finally see a path forward with her relationship with her family. Finally, she could forgive, and be forgiven, and build into a mature young woman that does what she enjoys to do.
And then her father begins to die.
Mitsuru registers something is wrong when the coughing starts. She tries to stay in character, tries to hide her concern, because a good Japanese woman doesn't get upset and panic when things start to get difficult. You must endure. It cannot be helped. Mitsuru even said it. But when her father lurches forward, Mitsuru can't suppress it anymore. She drops the act, as she rushes to her father's side. Not thinking of anything better, she begins to pat him on the back, maybe her was choking? But he says what he thinks it is, what he knows it is.
Mitsuru feels a ringing sound in her ears. She is at her father, holding his body as she tries to know what to do, try and do something. Except it's too late. In her father's last moments, as she stares into his face, his last words echo around her. He should have known. He didn't think- she didn't- he didn't think Mitsuru was part of this? He didn't think she would have killed him? In only a moment, every second where Mitsuru's fury at her father flared so much flickers before her eyes. The weight of her own guilt descends upon her shoulders, as her father expires before she can save him. In his last moments, Mitsuru vaguely understands what he thought of his daughter, and the weight of the betrayal. No. No.
There was still a chance she could save him!
"HELP!" She screams out loud, the mask gone. "HELP!" She tries again, looking around in the bunker, her prison, her jail. "HELP, PLEASE! MISS SAKAMOTO!" Was she poisoned? No, she drank the matcha, what else, what was different. She looks at the bowl, which had the small bonbons that Miss Sakamoto picked out specially for her… for her…. Everything came from…. Mitsuru freezes, as nausea surges through her body. It was like a light flicker on in her head. She whispers again, her throat hoarse and weak. "Help. Help." But she realized the only person who would have, who could have poisoned him. And how long it would have taken to make the arrangements. She looks weakly to the doorway, jaw slack in shock.
The monitor, previously receded up into the ceiling in the interest of achieving the appropriate aesthetic for the traditional tea ceremony, has descended back into position with a quiet whirr. The gentle face of Miss Sakamoto, smiling in the way a mother might smile at a toddler's overturned spaghetti-os, has appeared on the monitor, against the same backdrop as she always does. The camera beneath it whirrs in turn as it swivels and drops down to zoom in on the girl and her father's body.
"You did so well on preparing the tea ceremony, too! If only you'd remembered the crucial element of a good host: checking for poison. After all, you never know when a naughty ninja might try and slip your daimyo a bad bonbon!"
Teacher, counsellor - killer?! Whatever the woman may be, she tilts her head a little to the side with a deadly saccharine smile.
"Oh, well. You never did like your father anyway, did you?"
There's something... different in Sakamoto's tone as she makes the last statement - something more cutting and accusatory than Mitsuru has ever heard from the woman before. She lets the words hang in the air like breath in an icebox, the room going oddly silent around the teenager.
No no no.
Mitsuru clings her father's head to her chest as she stares into the screen. There was something just so incredibly cold-blooded about what was going on. The sheer detachment was frightening her. Truly frightening her. This wasn't a story. This wasn't a book. This wasn't a fantasy. This was a mistake. This all was a mistake. She felt like she should be doing something. Something to fight back. But all she could do was hold her daddy. That's all the fiesty banchou hellion could do. All while Miss Sakamoto twists the knife in. That she didn't like her daddy anyways. She rocks a bit, as the venom of those hollow words seeps into her soul. She should be stronger than this, she should be able to endure this. She endured it at school, didn't she?
But what defenses did she have now?
Could she just ora ora ora her father back to life? Could she explode through the door and grab this woman, this teacher, this friend, this trusted mentor, and slam her into the earth? Could she scream and rant and rave and do anything to undo this? Could she just dismiss this with a yare yare daze and a hair flip? She was helpless. Now, more than ever in her life, she felt helpless. Felt so small, so useless, so pointless> Her father was dead, or dying, and all she could was cradle him. All while… while Miss Sakamoto….
What could bring her to do this?
The question bursts from Mitsuru's lips, as the tears finally stream, her pancake makeup running off her face. The only question she had now, she could make. She was lost in a sea of despair on this horrible bunker with a murderer and a corpse of daddy. And she wanted some meaning, some flotsom to cling to in the vast ocean of senseless madness. And all she can do is squeak desperately at the woman who destroyed her life with the gentle ease of a schoolgirl prank.
There's a strange pause from the woman on the screen, as if there's a delay in spite of the fact that the counsellor is 'next door' in what is likely one of the most high-tech bunkers in the world. The canary-devouring smile remains on Miss Sakamoto's face for several seconds before she finally breaks into a giggle, her hand moving to cover her mouth.
"Oh, it's a shame you that I can't see the look on your face right now, honey. By the way, have you tried resuscitation yet? Here, I can keep you on beat if you're doing compressions. 'Ah, ah, ah, ah, stayin' alive... stayin' alive...'"
The question remains callously ignored by the teacher as she starts dancing casually, arms pumping in time to her own singing as her hips swing back and forth, the light-hearted disco merriment a cruel mockery of the crisis on the teenager's hands.
There are even more things that don't line up. She isn't hearing her. Mitsuru may be young, but if there was one thing she was more familiar than anything, it was being ignored. And more, when there was a script. And yet, she wanted to wake up. Maybe she was still asleep. She was dreaming, before her big lesson. Before her big exam, her big tea ceremony test. She would wake up, and it would all be a bad dream. Miss Sakamoto would be nice again, Daddy would be far away and alive, and Mitsuru wouldn't feel the walls of her reality were destroyed forever. But it was real. It had to be real, down to the strange, disjointed Miss Sakamoto who wasn't all there-
Something suddenly stabs Mitsuru.
It's something ice cold, extremely chilly. Not the venom, but something startling frigid. Was it the dancing? Why was it the dancing? Compressions, Resuscitations. Poison. Where was Miss Sakamoto? When was she? Where was everyone in the bunker? When was the last time she saw anybody in the bunker with her? To visit her? To mock her? It's only been Miss Sakamoto. Everything for the last several months flashes before her. The show, the gifts, the lessons, the kindness. Nothing made sense. She did everything she was supposed to. But where was Heihachi? Where was her father? Wasn't he supposed to rescue her?
Mitsuru looks to the matcha.
She looks to the matcha, to the screen, to her father, as she holds him tight. How do you do CPR? Why would you do CPR? You can't restart a heart like that, right? The frigid clarity bites hard on her as she tries to find something in this howling madness of cruelty. Was he breathing? Why compressions? Resuscitations? Mitsuru was in a bad dream. She felt like she was in a horrible, horrible dream. And something stabbed her instincts, deep in this bunker. Something awful and bitter. Her painted lips purse together furiously, as finally, she focuses. She didn't know why she did it. Except she knew that she hoped more than anything it did nothing. She lashes her hand out to the pot of boiled water. It hurts horribly on her hand, and she gives a squeak of pain. But she releases her father.
She practically drops it, as she spills the pot of boiled water upon her father's chest.
The oblivious Sakamoto continues her dance on the screen as the pot topples and spills onto the chest of Matsudaira Tokugawa.
And then, a miracle happens.
"Son of a bitch!"
The pallid patriarch sits upright with a bolt, clutching at his chest and pulling at his kimono as the scalding water stains the front of his kimono and sizzles. The cold edges of his features start to warm as the man grimaces.
And yet... it's not the weak, poison-wracked and precarious return that it should be. It's corpsing - a breaking of character by an actor playing a part.
"Ugh, you ruined the surprise, you stupid brat!"
The voice is Matsudaira's, but the tone is alien. It's speaking in English, where the patriarch had previously been conversing in Japanese.
Something is horribly wrong.
"Give me a moment here, I'll have to improvise this next bit..."
Rising up to his feet and quickly stepping away from his daughter, Mitsuru's father turns away, wrapping his arms over his head and bending it down, his features completely hidden from her for a moment.
"Okay! Now, ready or not..."
The shape of the figure in the kimono seems to shift, narrowing at the waist, widening at the hips, and suddenly it whips around, the now-too-loose sleeves of the garment thrown wide.
"...here I am! o/~"
The voice, the face - they are familiar, but they are no longer those of Mitsuru's father. It's a face and a voice last seen a month earlier, haunting the girl from a televised advertisement, now in the terrible and beautiful flesh and beaming a hellishly bright smile.
"Didja miss me?"
The Demon Queen Lyraelle tilts her head to the side, flicking her long, pink mane of hair loose with the motion as she makes a V with two fingers next to her black-horned head. She strikes the pose brazenly, cleavage glistening with the steaming water through the gap in her kimono in testament to the transformation that's just taken place.
Mitsuru did not miss this.
It felt like a fever dream when the water spilled, and with the miracles of miracles, Daddy was alive again. Mitsuru was not overjoyed at the resurrection of her father. No, because for the young lady, the reality of the situation was sinking in. The theater, the play on her emotions. The stake of despair rams through her heart as the illusion is peeled away. This... This wasn't her daddy, was it? What was it then? What was any of this?
And Daddy began to transform.
The teenager stares wide eyed, as her father shifts and changes. Expanding in places, contracting in the middle. The shift was making Mitsuru more uncomfortable, which was honestly quite an achievement right now all things considering. But when her father turns around, she audibly gasps, her legs feeling weak as she falls back on her bottom. Her heart stopped, as her stomach twists into knots.
It was the demoness.
Mitsuru wanted to be dead, or asleep, or dreaming, or still in the moment where her father was dead. Maybe she had a psychotic break. Maybe she had a psychotic break months ago. All these things were better than the revelation of the demoness right in front of her. Each implication was flashing before her. The imprisonment. The months. The schooling. Where her lessons went. The promises. The virtual concert. The gifts. Everything was swirling around her as she struggles to fight back. But even as she forces her arms up, sitting down, everything about Mitsuru radiated ultimate weakness. She answers Lyraelle. "I-i-i Am going to kill you!" She sputters out weakly, arms feeling like rubber, as she stares at Lyraelle's chest.
She couldn't even muster the strength to scowl.
"Let's not kid ourselves, sweetie," Lyraelle patronizes Mitsuru, her tone as sweet as it is poisonous. She straightens her kimono, the gap in the front remaining as she flicks the moisture away lightly with her polished nails. The smile remains on her face as she rights her head.
"I mean, really, you should be grateful! I mean, I've been keeping you company for months, teaching you life lessons, helping you fulfill your destiny, resolving your daddy issues... I mean, sure, there's also the part where it was all a lie, and I did hit you with the most epic prank of all time, but really, I think I've been going above and beyond."
In the background, on the monitor, Sakamoto stops her dancing, picking up a cell phone and checking the screen before looking toward the camera. "Oookay! We should have moved on to the big reveal by this point in the timeline, so I'm gonna stop recording now! See you around, honey!"
Lyraelle pauses to let the woman on the screen speak, smirking smugly in the meanwhile. Her form starts to shift, horns disappearing and body becoming ever-so-slightly smaller as her hair shrinks and shifts from pink to brown, and within a second, Miss Sakamoto is now standing in the Demon Queen's place.
"I guess I'll just put this face on for now, since it seems like it's the one you prefer. By the way, A plus on the timing for the tea ceremony, honey. It worked perfectly with my plan - this version, anyway. You even managed to avoid the real Bad End where Daddy would have been so angry he died of a heart attack. I think I'll take the credit for that."
Sakamoto smiles viciously.
Mitsuru stares a thousand miles away as the screen turns off. She had the feeling where she wanted her skin to melt off, and her bones to run away. She did not want to be alive anymore. Her face was hot red under what makeup was left. She wanted to be angry. She was angry. But she was still responding to the images of the prank. The performance. The theater. It was all scripted, it all... Mitsuru was staring with numb horror about how much of her struggle was just a lie. She had no strength, no spirit. Everything she had come to this point was worthless. Was a waste. Was an illusion. Even the demoness was going away, becoming one of the faces of her torment.
She averts her eyes from 'Miss Sakamoto.'
Twisting herself over, she shudders as she brings her burned hands up to her face. She just digs her nails into the makeup, peeling it off with clawing motions. That, for a moment, felt real. Something she could own, something she could control about herself. The shock of pain at least keeps her from completely losing her mind. She looks back at Lyraelle, no, Miss Sakamoto. Chest pounding as she forces her breaths in. She can't stop seeing her father dying. She can't stop seeing how much she wanted this woman to be her friend. How much hope and faith was wasted, all because it was a prank. And she almost vomits out the question, as she squeaks out "Why?" She asks again.
"What have I done to deserve any of this?"
For the first time since she revealed herself to Mitsuru, Miss Sakamoto looks slightly angry at the teenager, a scowl crossing her face as it becomes the face of Lyraelle once again. Her envy-green eyes flash as she steps up closer to the beleaguered banchou, leaning down toward her face.
The haughty hell-babe straightens back up, hands on her hips as she huffs indignantly, then throws back her hair and strikes an impeccably precise pose in imitation of one struck by Mitsuru some months ago.
"'Nemesis? Good grief. The only thing you're good for is wiping my feet."
She even manages a fairly accurate (if mocking) imitation of the teenager's voice - though fortunately, she stops short of actually using her demonstrated capacity for shapeshifting to transform into the girl herself - if such a feat is even within her purview.
"Ring any bells? I mean, I won't even get into how /rude/ you were before all that."
Her arms fold across her chest as she lifts her chin and turns up her nose.
"If you need me to spell it out for you, fine! Reason one: You humiliated me."
She holds up a hand and raises a finger, then another.
"Reason two: I never turn the other cheek. I'm straight Hammurabic. And reason number three?"
She holds up a third finger, then strikes a vaguely gangster-esque wannabe pose.
"I'm your nemesis, bitch! And like hell I'm gonna let some grandpa stand in the way of me getting mine."
Mitsuru locks up hard, as her words are sent back to her.
For the teenager, she didn't really think that much about what she said. In fact, she rarely did. She just said things she felt that should be said, and if she got the reaction she liked, then she would just use that same spirit again. For Mitsuru, she didn't even care that much about what she said, only how she felt when she said it. But as the last few months are reflected back at her, she realizes what the consequences of her words can be.
And just how much someone will do to get revenge over it.
Mitsuru begins to rock back and forth. This was all her fault, was the white hot illumination on her. Even more so, Lyraelle grabs why she felt so good saying it. That and because she won. She almost could imagine it. A real nemesis, like in her comics. Or in her animes. It was a cheeky pettiness, that was like a villain and hero relationship. It was just like she was the heroine of a story, where she could fight bad guys, and ora ora ora her way out of problems. Where she was cool, and people would admire her, and her rival villain would always show up to give Mitsuru a chance to look so awesome.
But Mitsuru wasn't awesome.
She wasn't cool. She wasn't admired. She was in a world where she was locked far away from people who cared about her, left behind by people who should care about her, and only getting attention from the monster who cares about her for all the wrong reasons. A monster who was so insulted by her, that the demoness went and completely destroyed her hope, her life, her very ego and sense of self. All because of something she thoughtlessly said because she felt like it. Because it made her feel cool. And now she was trapped here-
Mitsuru couldn't help but notice the white makeup running off her face. She had to notice, but she didn't know of any way to stop the tears. She didn't know how to make the stinging of the scratches stop. And she didn't know how to get rid of that pulsing, horrifying thought invading her head. Nobody stopped Lyraelle. Nobody did, because nobody can. Mitsuru was forgotten. Forgotten and alone, a prisoner. And whatever Lyraelle wanted to do, she would. Mitsuru would never escape. She would just be tortured like this forever and ever, until she was no longer fun. And then she would be just left here forever. Until she died. There was no way out. Everyone, from Grandpa Mishima to Steve to Daddy could all be just another prank. Mitsuru would never leave the bunker. And why? Because she said something stupid.
She doesn't want this anymore.
"Okay, you win." She squeaks out. "I don't want to be nemesises anymore." Her words are small and frail, and the tears were only just slowing down as she shakes her head. "I don't want to be in here anymore. I don't want to fight monsters anymore, I- I just want to go back to normal." She bring her hands down, two fists on the floor. "Please let me go. Please."
"I can't bear this anymore."
The pink-haired demon-girl's horned head cants to one side as Mitsuru starts to meekly break down. She lets out a snort of disdain at the reaction, her hands moving to her hips.
"Oh, honey. Don't worry, you're not my nemesis anymore," she coos comfortingly to the teenager as she bends down to put her face closer to the banchou. "On the other hand? I'll be your nemesis for the rest of your life."
She reaches out with the intent of giving Mitsuru's hair a brief ruffle before she straightens back up, then starts pacing around the teenager.
"I'm not going to let you off the hook that easily, either. You don't get to give up! I put so much work into this, you owe it to me to try and get revenge someday. I'm the Rugen to your Inigo, and Inigo isn't a little bitch."
She cracks her neck, then looks over her shoulder at Mitsuru, smirking.
"Not that I had to /kill/ your father to steal his face."
In a moment, she's become Miss Sakamoto again, and the baggy kimono slips slightly down her shoulder as she flutters her eyelashes at the girl, then winks.
Mitsuru didn't know who Inigo was.
She wasn't very familiar with the Princess Bride, which was a shame. Chalk it up to cross cultural limitations. She did, however, pick up enough on the implication to figure out that not only did Lyraelle not even consider her important personally, but wanted to make sure Mitsuru would get back at her. Mitsuru didn't want that, even as Lyraelle ruffles her hair. She just wanted to get away. She didn't want demons in her life anymore, she didn't want monsters. She almost was ready to just roll over and die.
But then the demoness twists a rib about her father.
Through her despair, she bristles. That suggestion, that teasing gaze. What did she mean by that? She didn't kill her father. If she could turn into Mitsuru, she would. But she couldn't turn into Mitsuru, could she? And if Daddy really was alive... The teenager's resolve steels, as she scrunches up her face in disgust, her eyes casting up and down the shape her tormenter. The cloud of misery was lifted, as she gruffly huffs back. "What are you doing with Dadd-" She coughs, instinctively correcting herself.
"What did you do to my daddy!?"
A shift of her robe, a softening in the eyes, and the previously prim, then poisonous Miss Sakamoto has slipped into the role of a seductress like a comfortable glove. The aesthetic may be lost on tthe teenager, especially in light of the current mood, but the woman takes on a new sort of grace and tenderness as she gently lifts her kimono back into place and kneels down on the mat with a warm, knowing smile. She raises a hand to her lips and closes her eyes, almost blushing a little.
"Oh, Mitsuru-chan, I can't talk to you about that sort of thing until you're older. Let's just say that it's a good thing Matsudaira-sama is such a heavy sleeper. Or at least he is after a good workout."
She gives a girlish giggle, propping herself up and resting her hands on her knees.
"It was a lot of work to get to know him so well, but I think it really paid off, don't you? You didn't suspect a thing when I was impersonating him. Not to mention having to write that letter."
There wasn't a lot keeping Mitsuru together right now.
The torment, the torture was warping her senses inside and out. The sheer pettiness was disrupting every thought; she still hadn't gotten over the emotional turmoil of her not father dying in her arms. How everything has been a lie. The ultimate liar had been the one woman that had given her hope so far, the beacon of trust she made the mistake of building. A total betrayal, and the implications of even more betrayals. But when Lyraelle makes that suggestion, that implication? It brings a lot of focus back to what Mitsuru really finds important. She actually filters out that twist of the knife on that letter, that lie of lies. Her pained expression shifts harder into a scowl, a faint twitch coming over her as the telegraph. And when Lyraelle finishes her bragging?
Snarling furiously, the teenager hurls herself clumsily at Lyraelle. It wasn't any sort of proper assault. It was a flailing, furious ambush, well practiced from Mitsuru's middle school days when she really lost her temper. Over something very similar to what the demoness was talking about. Her kimono rips as she lashes her arms at her captor wildly, her daze finally broken as she seethes out loud. "You dumb dumb Demoness hussy! You think you Are so good because you can do those things? You stupid lady! I am going to kill you for what you did to Daddy and Mommy!" While the attack had energy, it didn't have finesse or skill, or even a sense of accuracy as she tries to wallop at Lyraelle. She wasn't thinking very straight, because whenever she thought about the kinds of things Lyraelle would do for dadd- to Daddy?
It became hard to think in general.
The sound of Miss Sakamoto's laughter fills the room as Mitsuru bowls her over and starts lashing out wildly. As much as she looks the part of the ordinary schoolteacher, there's a clear supernatural strength to the woman's arms as she fends the flying fists off, catching and deflecting the blows as Mitsuru's rage burns against her. It's the sort of reaction a dog might get from its owner as it tries to lick their face, or a little sister might get from trying to wrestle with her elder sibling.
"Oh, honey! Trust me, I didn't do anything to Mommy and Daddy that a dozen other girls haven't done before. That's what makes Daddy such an easy mark~"
Apparently tiring of turning aside Mitsuru's spirited, yet undisciplined and inaccurate blows, Sakamoto grabs one of the striking limbs and rolls over, repositioning with abrupt speed to put the reckless teen into a hammerlock, sitting on the banchou's back to pin her down, at least for the moment.
"Now, in the interest of moving on, why don't we discuss how we're going to get you out of here, and what you and your boyfriend are going to owe me when I've rescued you?"
Mitsuru actively shrieks at Lyraelle when she mentions the dozens of other girls.
Not that the sudden surge of added fury does anything to change her fate. Her reckless, unfocused offense is nearly routed and pinned, as the teacher places her neatly on the trapped Mitsuru. The teenager useless struggles as she is captured, that once broken spirit suddenly finding a home and cause worth fighting for. What that cause is, Mitsuru wasn't actually clear on herself.
But would be growing ever more clear to Lyraelle once she mentions the boyfriend.
"No!" The young lady hoarsely snarls out. "You aren't going to do anything to Steve! You can't have him! You can't have him, or Daddy! You just need to stop! Stop, please stop!" Mitsuru's rage collapse again to begging, as the trapped, captured Mitsuru tries to find any kindness in Miss Sakamoto. "Stop taking them away! It's not fair! It's not right! If- if you expect payment from him for saving me, then I refuse!" Her voice bellows, as she fights back.
"I reject it!" Mitsuru's pleading turns into a self righteous tantrum yet again, as she struggles. "I would rather stay here forever and ever than let you steal their hearts! All you awful awful painted ladies. You are just like all of them! You aren't special! And I don't want to be the reason they can't stay faithful anymore! I don't want it! I don't want to ruin people's lives anymore!" Mitsuru's tantrum exhausts itself, as the girl feebly goes limp under the teacher.
"Don't do it to Steve too, I beg you."
The laugh that comes from Sakamoto now is more subtle, deeper - the kind that shakes the core but keeps a card or two held back, the lips sealed with a smirk. The counsellor's normally-pristine hair falls about her eyes as her head tilts forward, her body leaning down so that she can murmur in Mitsuru's ear.
"Oh, don't worry, sweetie. /I/ won't be doing anything with Steve."
As she speaks, she hikes the skirt of her kimono all the way up nearly to her waist, giving room for a long, rubbery purple tail with a spade-pointed tip to slide out from around her hip, then start to slither toward Mitsuru with the menacing deliberation of a serpent stalking its prey...
And then it lunges.
For a moment, Mitsuru was just a tiny bit relieved.
Not completely though. She knew that the mockery only meant something worse.
But what could be worse? What could be worse becomes apparent to the teenager when that tail slithers out. She wasn't planning on doing something to Steve yet, no. No, no, no.
She wasn't done with Mitsuru yet.
Mitsuru begins to struggle, her eyes transfixed on the tip. She was trapped, pinned under the monster. Her heart was racing, body surging with chi. She had to fight. She had to escape, and fight, and she couldn't. It gets closer, closer to her. She flails her arms, her nails snapping as they dig into the tile of the bunker. The tail lashes out at her, snapping at her. She screams. "No-"
And then, everything goes dark.
Log created on 20:36:55 11/27/2020 by Mitsuru, and last modified on 23:10:51 12/28/2020.