Malin - The Curious Case of the Kidnapped Princess[Toggle Names]
Description: Locked away by wily kdinappers, Mitsuru Tokugawa is a Princess in a tower held by her erstwhile saviors. Enter Malin, the one who seeks out the lost and lonely girl(and may also be interested in the money offered by Tokugawa's father). But what she finds when she discovers the lost and alone Princess throws the whole situation into upheaval like a bowl of cold ramen.
Mitsuru Tokugawa woke up, afraid.
She hardly let herself be afraid anymore. Not since the Gears War. But when she woke up, she didn't understand anything. The last thing she understood was pain, and fire. Now, it was just pain, and cold, and dampness, and a strange man, and an all too familiar man. She responded the same way she responded whenever she felt afraid: With anger, and rage. She tried to fight them. But she couldn't even make her legs work. The boxer, Steve, the same one she beat in the tournament tried to explain to her. But when they were distracted, she tried to run away. But her legs wouldn't work. And finally, she was screaming, nearly screaming herself into unconsciousness again.
And then Bob had her listen to the recording.
The teenager listened to every word from her butler. She listened, and gradually, the anger faded. She heard about how this was all a set-up from her parents. How she ruined the plan by stupidly going to the wrong tournament. How they wanted to make sure she learned her lesson. And how they would keep doing it, over and over again, about how he made sure that she would lose in the Neo-League, when it was possible to do so. How everything has been arranged to make her life miserable. It was a fantasy, it had to be. But she stopped trying to escape.
Because she knew it was all true.
She knew every part of it was true. Bob and Steve had kidnapped her now. Rescued her? It was somewhere in between. Now, at this abandoned shrine, forgotten on the outskirts of Southtown, she waited. She was lying on a dirty futon, rolled out. She couldn't walk. Her body was too broken. But Steve and Bob were out looking for help. Mitsuru already had some dried ramen. It wasn't bad, in the damp dirty place. She did have to shout at a mouse, that was getting too close. Maybe nobody heard that. But she wasn't bored at least. She just had to trust the strangers who saved her. In the meantime? They got her the satchel back. So Mitsuru sits in the dim light of the shrine, the sunlight pouring in from the too many holes in the roof. She was reading a notebook.
And writing down something.
News travels fast. Money, betrayal, crime lords and kidnappings. All of it kept off the official channels and down low on the hush-hush. A lost girl, stolen by the very man that was hired to rescue her. Syndicate lines calling for their heads as well. And what of the girl? The Tokugawa princess all wrapped up in everything. Pining, or panicked? Staring longingly out at the world as she's taken captive by criminals, and the men meant to save her. It was dashing. It was daring. It was terribly romantic.
It said MALIN in a grand marquee with a sea of lights visible from the very moon itself.
Not literally, because that would be ridiculous, but it called to the young woman on a deep and impactful level. Of course she had to get involved. If it had just been a run-of-the-mill kidnapping by the Syndicate, she'd probably get herself involved. Enough time had passed since her escapades with Hayley Bretherton and bashing up that one single Syndicate hangout that her wounds had healed and she felt unseen again. So she naturally felt she must find a new way to be seen. And this Princess was just the ticket.
Swoop in, rescue, abscond into the night with sweet stacks of cash. Easy peasy.
Malin was good at investigating. She knew good places to hide. She knew where to watch and she knew how to keep herself unnoticed. Raised on the streets, raised by thieves. Taken in by the super secret society that is completely real just sealed this deal. She kept watch and snuck around the known spots. She checked several of them that had no one at all. But eventually, with clear logical reasoning and only about fifty or sixty percent trial and error, she found the shrine.
The sad, unkempt little shrines abandoned even by their local spirits were always a place prone to criminal activity. Of course Malin should've gone here first. But as she watched through the lenses of her binoculars, from the vantage point of a terribly thin tree branch, she spies the movement she needs to confirm her suspicions.
The roof shakes shortly after. A lithe little body landing alight the rooftops after leaping a great distance. A crouching Malin creeps about on the roof, peering through the various holes to spy on the potential captive in the shrine.
She really hopes it's not an angry homeless guy this time.
Mitsuru freezes, as she hears the sound overhead.
The situation of being found was a consideration. A lot of risk management was discussed. Ultimately, it was pointed out, that the Syndicate wasn't looking at Mitsuru, they were looking at Bob and Steve. If Mitsuru was discovered by the police, or 'bounty hunters?' Well, they had that conversation. And a decision was made for Mitsuru: she would get rescued. The message was made, and right now the biggest people in trouble right now was Steve and Bob. They would do whatever they could to help and protect Mitsuru, but the best way to protect her right now -wasn't- drawing in the Syndicate to leave her as collateral damage. So they were gone, looking for allies and help.
But Mitsuru didn't -want- to get rescued.
When someone was up on the roof, she locks up. Not making a sound, barely making a breath. Was it a ninja? A darkstalker? A Gear? Or one of those bounty hunters that Bob and Steve were talking about? Would he try to interrogate Mitsuru? Beat her savagely, despite her weakened state? She needed to hide. She thinks, thinks quickly. What would Jotaro do, the ultimate guile hero?
"Arf!" She grunts in a deep voice.
Crouched on the roof, Malin peers through the holes. She scrabbles here and there trying to get a bead on what was inside. She couldn't quite tell what it was, but it wasn't screaming at her and throwing things or ranting about little men that want teeth for their soup. So, all in all, a plus compared to her morning thus far.
She wasn't expecting it to bark. Not that she thought it was a dog, dog's don't go 'arf-arf', they go 'wan-wan'. So it was pretty clear this was an imposter. But, it also meant she might be right where she needs to be. So she sits, butterfly, on the roof of the shrine.
Scooching toward the edge, she pulls her yo-yo out and begins to play with it, dropping it in sight over the edge of the roof. "Hey little puppy," she says, "I'm going to sit here and visit awhile. My name's Malin, and you can trust me."
She hums to herself, letting time play out to see what happens.
Mitsuru averts her eyes, face burning.
She wanted to run away now. Or fight. Or both. Except, of course, her legs were too weak to stand. As Malin peeks over, she just tries to pretend she isn't there for a moment. This was bad. Dangerous. Or just annoying. She didn't know who this person was, and she felt a trap was nearby, or -something.- And yet, she felt so humilated. And she never liked that feeling. "I'm not a puppy." She mutters out, scowling.
Think of a better lie than being a dog, Mitsuru.
"I'm a runaway, and I don't trust anybody!" Mitsuru blurts out. "Especially not blonde haired bimbos! Did you forget to get a tan?" She snaps at the stranger. "You should go away, I'm a very dangerous person you know. I'm really tough and can't stand dumb blondes!" Mitsuru definitely tries to make herself sound bigger and tougher, as she lays on her back. She pulls a blanket up over her, trying to hide the notebook and pencil. "I am going to count to three! And if you aren't gone, I'm going to, well, I'm going to pound you senseless, because I am very dangerous and unhinged! Ready? 1! 2?" She pauses a moment, a moment too long, to make sure Malin has plenty of opportunity to leave.
Mitsuru lays there, unable to stand up.
With each thwip of the yo-yo going up and down. Time does her work for her. The grin on her face a sign of how proud she is of her plan to simply wait out and let the Princess expose herself. So proud, in fact, she allows herself a little complimentary snicker.
The snickering stops at the name calling. Bimbo? She scoffs. And it isn't very long after Mitsuru begins her counting that the sound of a relatively small girl falling to the ground breaks the sanctity of of the shrine.
"Bimbo? Who are you calling a bimbo, Princess Puppydog? You're the one out here going 'arf-arf'. Alone. With no one." She snaps, arms crossed, sneaker tapping impatiently as she doesn't exactly darken doorways with her standing in them. But she kind of fills most of the doorway.
"So let's see it, huh? How dangerous are you?" Malin asks, flipping a blade in her hand in place of the yo-yo that was there just a moment before. "Do you really think you have what it takes to get away from the master of Malin-style? I've taken on bigger Syndicate goons than a couple of kidnappers, you know." To say nothing of having help in said instances.
The stranger wasn't running away.
Instead, she was teasing Mitsuru more. She wasn't keeping away, and -snickering- at her. As she fills out the doorway the best she could, Mitsuru was going to make a comment on how -small- she was, especially with the yoyo like a kid. Mitsuru beat up kids like that in middle school. And a knife comes out. Mitsuru's eyes go wide. That... happened once at school too. She didn't bully him anymore after that. Mitsuru considers carefully, with her bluff already called.
"There are no kidnappers."
Mitsuru lies harder, crossing her arms, looking away from Malin and her blade. She was breathing hard now. Afraid? How can she be afraid, when she had such a big and strong front. But Malin didn't look scared of Mitsuru. "Why would you think I am kidnapped? You need your eyes looked at, because I'm definitely not being kidnapped. I'm just a nobody runaway, who is very tough. I've fought Syndicate goons before too!" She objects, looking back at the stranger. "I beat them up so bad, that I snapped their sunglasses! I bet you haven't snapped any sunglasses! And I didn't need a yoyo, or a knife, or- or anything but my fists!" She demonstrates, holding up her fists. "And it's not Princess Puppydog, it's... it's...." Mitsuru thinks of a madeup name that was not suspicious in the least.
Malin isn't running at all. Quite the opposite, inf act, as she moves into the shrine proper to poke and prod around at the set up that Mitsuru has. The careful eye of a person who, despite her youth, is already more than acquainted with sleeping as she can in wherever she can. So she takes this moment to be both snoop and judge. Complete with stuff lower lip and trying her best to look down her nose in a literal sense.
"Because your parents said so, Princess Puppydog," she says, sticking to her given title. Truth is, she isn't really certain who Jolyne Joestar is, but she's guessing it must be a pseudonym. "They're offering a fat sack of cash for your rescue." She rolls the knife between her fingers before sleight of handing it away so that she can to a two-handed hand on chin pose of thoughtfulness.
"Buuuut, if you're saying you're a runaway, and not kidnapped and needing someone particularly awesome and badass to rescue you, then. . ." Long pause, long consideration.
stars flash in Malin's eyes. "Ooooohohohohoho!" she laughs, rubbing her hands together. "You /are/ a runaway. This is all a frame up. The syndicate steals the princess. The heroic detective and his sidekick rescue the princess. But then, plot twist, it turns out that the parents are the real villains this whole time and so now they all run away and become outlaws!" Malin's voice nearly squeals as she pieces together her version of events with a fiery glee.
"This is even better!"
Was she mocking her?
Mitsuru felt insecure enough as it was. But when she makes it clear that her lies were failing, and yes, she was looking for the reward, Mitsuru felt herself churn. There is a building volcano of rage, of anger. She wanted to beat Malin into a pile of hamburger. She wanted- she wanted to fight again. Like fighting Bob, or Steve, or anybody. She wanted to fight and fight and escape and run away and then she can be free, and free, and...
Mitsuru goes limp.
She exhales, defeated. "Yeah. It's like that. I guess. ANd I guess you're another person who wants to rescue me. Well, I can't walk." Mitsuru says, flatly. "I don't- I don't even know. I'm hurt really bad." She pulls away the blankets, revealing the notebook as well... well, the best that Bob and Steve could do, with store bought antiseptic and bandages. Mitsuru looked more like a mummy than ever before; but the scar, the suture was very clear through the bandages, they didn't want to do that tight. Mitsuru averts her eyes, jerking the blanket back over her. "I'll get better, though. Then I'll be a real runaway. I'm never going back to Mommy ANd Da- to the old woman and old man. They did this. This is all their fault!" Mitsuru slams a fist down beside her, before wincing in pain... everywhere. "I... I hate them. I really hate them, I hate them so much, and- and I don't know why. I don't know why they have to do this to me." Mitsuru sniffs hard, grabbing her face with both hands, staring intensely forward. "I don't understand, I don't understand."
"I don't -deserve- this!"
Malin's already sliding down to a butterfly sit when Mitsuru flops into her limp bodied lament. Leaning forward, listening, fist at her chin, Malin's eyes still sparkle with the romanticism of everything, but she's considering just how kind of sad and puppyish that Princess Puppydog truly is.
She winces at the sight of the bandages. This place might not be the best for someone so beat up as Mitsuru. "I, yeah, who wouldn't want that money? It's a lot of freaking money," she says, not much up for defending herself beyond abject need of dosh.
She sighs, puts her hands behind her head and rocks back and forth for a moment making a small and concerned grunt of a hum before she breaks with a, "Yeah, okay," to herself and a blunt, "I don't know how parents are supposed to act. I don't have any. But yours are probably pretty bad if you're going to all this to get away from them."
She exhales quickly, nodding, inwardly priding herself on being open about that. She leans forward now that that is done, and tries to sneak a look at the notebook. "Whatchu writing in there?"
"Not that much money." Mitsuru sighs.
Her face was red. It really wasn't that much money. MItsuru kinda hoped that instead of someone like Malin was coming, it would be like the TEkken Force, and the army, and the police coming in with millions and millions of dollars to make sure Mitsuru was safe before they would rescue her and Mitsuru would know how important and special she was. But instead. It was Malin. "Well of course you have parents. Unless they died!" Mitsuru interjects to herself. "It's worse though. My parents used to be good, but then, but then they became bad. They used to... not... try and get me killed?" Mitsuru exhales so hard. "And I don't know why anymore." She didn't know why she was opening up. Maybe because she didn't -like- talking to hairy old men.
But she mentions the notebook.
Mitsuru looks over where it was hiding. And then, eyes wide, she scoots, trying to hide it underneath her. She winces in pain. She pulls up the blanket more, trying to seal the top off. And then, blanket to her chin, she stares out at Malin.
"Nothing." Mitsuru lies.
"Money's money," Malin insists. The amount is a lot to someone in her position. It's more than enough to keep her going just that little bit more that she needs to stay alive and to continue to break into school as she needs to to attend her classes. So even if it wasn't a lot of money to Mitsuru or her clan, it's more than Malin has in her pockets.
She knows she had parents. That part is obvious. She knows they're not alive anymore. She knows she doesn't have anyone, really. But the girl didn't have to point it out so bluntly. So she jerks Mitsuru around on the matter, "Nope. Born in a jar, created at the behest of a secret organization. No parents." She holds a sharp, sly grin on her face to bolster her lie in absolutely no way whatsoever.
But she is genuinely interested in the notebook. She leans forward, craning her neck, scooting ever so closer to Mitsuru to look at the book. "C'mon!" she presses. "I wanna see."
Mitsuru tries to scoot again. She actually pulls it out from under the blanket, and puts it under her pillow. She then promptly lays her head on the pillow, laying down and crossing her arms. "That's private." MItsuru says, pouting. Before she turns that pout into a grit-teethed scowl.
And she -growls- now.
She looks straight at Malin now. "You are lying, nobody is born in jars. People aren't like pickles. I don't like phonies, you know that? I hate fakes and liars; I ought to punch you in the nose for being a scound- a phony!" Mitsuru scrunches up her nose menacingly. "I bet you aren't even a bounty hunter. You're probably some kind of runaway..." Mitsuru pauses a moment. And then, slowly it dawns on her. Her face lights up, as she sits up.
"You're a runaway!"
Princess Puppydog has bite.
Malin leans back to her cross-legged sit again. Her hands are up in the air, even if her grin hasn't left her face. "Okay, okay, it's private stuff. Geez." She snaps her yo-yo out again in order to flit it between hands as something to occupy herself.
"I am," she admits. "But people are totally born in jars. There's a lot of stuff out there people like you don't know. I do work for a secret organization and we do collect all sorts of information. And that's how I found you so easily."
She snaps back down, closer to Mitsuru, eyes narrow and challenging. "And I didn't runaway. I didn't have anyone to run away from." She crosses her arms. "Can't run away if all you got is the street. Ever think of that?"
"Yes." Mitsuru states defiantly.
Mitsuru didn't like how she was making fun of her with her lies. But Mitsuru snorts, nostrils flared, as she corrects Malin. It was the strangest thing, though. The more she talked to Malin, the less gruff she sounded, and the more... airy she came across. "If you ran away from the street, you'd runaway into a home, or school. Duh." Mitsuru menacingly sticks her tongue out at Malin. "I bet you dress up like those dumb empty-headed Seijyun High princesses, so you can pretend you are rich and fashionable and all so prim and proper. That's why- that's why you call me Princess Puppy, you are just projecting! I bet you spend your free time practicing tea ceremony with the rats and pigeons!"
And Mitsuru stone-faces right straight back at Malin.
Impeccable logic from Mitsuru. Quite hard to disagree with. And while Malin, of all things, simply nods and grins with the utmost confidence in herself. "Of course!" she says. "Then you're right, I am a runaway. I'm so good at what I do outside of school, I had to break in to learn things. You know how many people just show up to classes and get all that? I had to earn it."
He chuckles to herself, rocking side to side, pleased with herself. "And I go to Taiyo, not Seijyun. . .Waitaminute, do you go to Seijyun?" her head cocks as she puts the complaints together. "I guess it makes sense. Cause you're a Princess and all."
After a moment of thought, Malin gives Mitsuru a big thumbs up and a grin. "That's really cool!"
Mitsuru pouts harder.
"Why are you here to bother me." Mitsuru groans, snuggling down in her blanket. "If you want to rescue me, then just get it over with! I can't move. And you're too small, you couldn't carry me. So you would call the police or something? Maybe you are just -bored- and annoying!" Mitsuru sighs, exhaling. "I don't even like Seijyun High. I hate princesses. I hate hate hate hate hate them!" She actually gives a feeble kick, that barely lifts the blanket. "I just- I just want to be rough and tough! You know how hard it is to be a rough and tough girl at Seijyun High? It's impossible!" Mitsuru pulls the notebook out from under her pillow. "They don't even do humanities right. I was supposed to do an interview with some war widow. And now I'm going to get a zero, and it's all daddy's fault!" Mitsuru smirks at that. "I bet he's going to feel so embarrassed. Oh oh did you talk to him?" Mitsuru state brightly?
"Is he crying?"
Malin is still in good cheer. Because this find is proving even more interesting than just getting the cash. Also, Mitsuru makes a good point; she's a big girl and Malin probably couldn't just lug her off. That was perhaps a bit of shortsightedness on her part. But she had to confirm, and this is all just confirmations.
And maybe she's also bored. She normally is.
"I've seen some of the girls at Seijyun. Some of them can fight," Malin says, considering things. "But I haven't seen your dad. I just caught wind of the prize. He didn't really hire anyone, just kind of put the bounty out there. That's kind of how it goes."
She frowns, mouth quirking, "You're running away from him just to make him upset, aren't you?"
Mitsuru's face changes.
She makes an expression that isn't quite a pout. It's more like, she ate a rotten lemon. A mingle of sour, and disgust. There was a tremble, as she averts her eyes. She grips her notebook tight in one hand. She didn't like that question. She hated that question. She would beat up that girl for that kind of question. Of course it was wrong and stupid. MItsuru was running away because, because she was a tough girl who couldn't walk, couldn't stand up for herself, and couldn't do what she always wanted to do without two strange adults making the decision for her.
"He deserves it."
Mitsuru snarls. "Look what he did to me. I mean, he didn't do it, he just- he just let it happen! I told him I wanted to go to Gedo High, and he sent me to Seijyun High to be a stupid Princess Puppy! A dumb lap dog for some rich nobody with a vice president position. So I did what I wanted! And he keeps trying to force me, he made those girls bully me and pick on me and HUMILATE ME, he made sure that that stupid old widow beat me over and over and SHE RUBBED MY FACE IN IT!"
MItsuru blanket shakes again, as she makes more kicking.
Mitsuru throws the notebook away. "And now he's- he's making me get kidnapped, so I get beat up by ADULTS so he can make me learn my lesson. That's what he wants! He wants me to run back to him, and roll over like a- like a stupid dog and beg forgiveness! Well now he has to do it. Because he has no right to treat me, like, treat me like I'm a," She gives a furious seeth. She knows what she's about to say now. She trapped herself. ANd now, unable to move, or ANYTHING, she has to just admit it. Face scrunched up, she sticks her tongue out as she practically vomits it out.
"Like I'm some kind of delinquent!"
A sourpuss of a look, and a lot of problems. Runaways, detectives, conflict. This was all so very interesting. It was like watching a storybook unfold in front of her. It's making her love what's happening here. Even if, somewhere, somehow, she finds herself having a degree of empathy for Mitsuru's problems.
"Did he make you get kidnapped? Wasn't this, like, a way to get away from everything?" Malin asks. She rolls forward and rests her chin on her fist. "He sounds like the bad guy in all this. Why bother with any of it?"
Mitsuru's scowl intensifies. "This was an accident. Because two... STUPID adults, felt sorry for me. They heard what Daddy wanted, from that stupid Hachiko, and... and they wanted to save me from him. It was, I guess, it was all Hachiko's fault, But Daddy told him to do that. I think. That's what Hachiko said. And, and he's a dirty liar too." Mitsuru was feeling less and less secure with her, the more she left exposed. But who else can she talk to now? Just a notebook?
Mitsuru grabs her elbow, embracing herself.
"He... He pushed me away. Daddy. He's always been pushing me away, since the Gear Wars, since I started school. He doesn't -want- me anymore, but he spends so much time trying to decide what he wants from me. Like I'm not good enough. I- He is the bad guy, he's a very sick and bad man and I hate him, and, and, I wish he would see how -mad- I am him. How much he's hurting me, because he's so stubborn." Mitsuru begins to deflate a bit, her tone growing more and more formal by the minute. "He doesn't even let me see him anymore, I haven't seen him in months, or heard from him in months, or anything. Not since the Gear Wars ended. He told me..." Mitsuru pauses a moment, taking a stifling sniff. "He told me that he will come and see me,"
"When I prove that I am behaving like a good young lady."
"Like, the dog statue?"
Malin shakes her head. Of course Mitsuru is talking about some stuffy butler or something. Not a dog statue. But by the sounds of it the dog statue would be kinder. And then Malin thinks about how awesome a metal dog would be as a sidekick. That could be fun.
She blinks and watches Mitsuru. The hugging, the voice. This isn't the Princess Puppydog snapping. And so Malin curls her legs up closer to herself, and watches with her chin on her knees. "He's a bad guy," she says again, agreeing.
A quiet moment, thinking. Some scooting. And then Malin's hand goes for the tossed notebook. Now is her chance to see inside. "Iunno. I think a good young lady is smart enough to not care about what a jerk thinks of them."
It was a distraction.
"I'm not a good young lady though. I'm a rough and tough lady. So what if I am better at being a good young lady than- HEY!" Mitsuru is not fast enough. Flailing her limbs, she lacks even the basic precision to stop Malin. And Malin can see, in its full glory, what Mitsuru was doing:
She was writing a report on her interview with some Abe Fumiko, based on detailing out her responses to her questions. And she was coming along pretty well too. "Give that back!" Mitsuru shouts. "That's mine! I need it-" She lowers her voice, her face just falling into a self-pitying droop.
"Just in case I can turn it in for partial credit."
It was a good distraction. Malin flips through the notebook with little nods and hums. "I'm just checking it," she dismisses Mitsuru's complain for long enough to finish and determine that there's nothing else better toward the end. When she's done, she offers the notebook back to Mitsuru. "Here. I'm not going to steal it. I just wanted to read it a little."
She returns to her sitting position. "It's not super interesting. But it's good." She looks at Mitsuru and her state. And then she grins. "So, what are you going to do? You think you're going to go back? Because if you run away, you can't go back to school to get partial credit."
Mitsuru cannot even bring herself to pout.
By herself, without anyone to prove, what does she prove to herself? To quietly work on her studies. Malin was right. She was probably going to be expelled. Her project didn't matter. And yet, what's the point to work on it? Mindless, rote repetition? A need to prove something?
Or maybe something else.
"It is interesting! She... she lost a lot. Because she didn't do what her family wanted. But it wasn't the end of the world. It hurts, but, I guess sometimes life is unfair, and it hurts, and if you really love what you do, you will keep doing it no matter... no matter what." A moment of grim silence. "You want to know a secret?" Mitsuru says, meekly.
"I think I killed her husband."
A little trite of a lesson to Malin. She's never had much of a choice to just keep doing. And she's perfect for it. But, people can't be as wise and capable as she is, or at least shows that she is. But not everyone could be Malin.
But then the dramatic bombshell gets dropped. And once more Malin is interested. "How?" she asks, looking a little less like a listening friend and more like the girl who has found an endless font for entertainment. She really, truly wishes she had popcorn in this moment.
"You're, you. Do you go out and kill people like a secret nighttime assassin or something?"
Mitsuru wasn't feeding off the bubbly optimism anymore. She wasn't... she wasn't angry anymore. She had no anger left. And she was now wallowing. She wasn't laughing. There wasn't any funny. She was trembling more and more. And her voice was soft, neutral, and with a too formal air now. "When we were having the Gears War, they- I was sent to a special bunker. We were supposed to stay in the bunker, Daddy was friends with the Mishima Zaibatsu, he sells coffee to them. So we were staying in the bunker, mommy and me. And daddy, well, Daddy was away; he had to stay with Heihachi. And we had the Japanese Defense Force there. The idea is that it was supposed to be out of the city, you know, because it was going to be destroyed by the... the thing. Justice or whatever. So in case that happened, we would be safe. And we were supposed to be too far away from the Gears Army to attack."
"But apparently we weren't."
She was drawing her legs up, very slowly, very carefully now. She was staring, very far away, as she relives it. "And I was panicking, and I was afraid, and I- I snuck out. I don't know why, I'm so stupid. I felt like we were trapped, and we were going to die. That's what happens to people in the bunker, and we weren't in the safe city, the city was at least fortified, we only had soldiers as guards. And I was running, and they- they were like dogs, or people, like human dog people, and they found me. I was grabbed by some soldiers, and I was brought back, and I was saved. And, and we waited for them to come back to the bunker, and none of them."
%Every moment in that bunker, was relived in her head, burning into her brain. She felt numbed. "So, I killed soldiers. Maybe one of them was an Abe. And, and if the Gears came to us, nobody would have protected us. I don't even know what my mother and father think. They... they stopped talking to me after that. They never were the same after what I did. But that's what being afraid does. It makes you stupid. I... I killed people. And now, I'm going to kill people again. Or have already. How many people did Bob kill. Or Steve. Or those gangsters. How many will die because mommy and daddy are finding me?" Mitsuru falls quiet, her knees to her battered, torn chest. "I don't like thinking about this. I never do. But that's what being a princess really means. Daddy talked about this about our grandpa. When you are a leader, when you are a princess, you are responsible for everyone. It's your duty. So, that's what being a princess means. But if I am angry, I never have to think about what happens afterwards. I never have to be." There is a heaving sob, as the waterworks finally break. As the tear finally come out, as there is no anger left, only helplessness.
"I never have to be like this!"
This was a much less fun and enjoyable story than the secret assassin's lifestyle. It was just a girl that made a mistake. Her dad was a drug smuggler for the Zaibatsu's, that was pretty clear. Malin's bubbliness covered a reality that she is all too aware of. She knows a number of details from a youth among criminals, from the surroundings that lead her to her crimefighting ways. And she knows of buying off authorities for personal protection and such. And in all of it, Mitsuru just panicked.
Malin hugs her knees and she lets Mitsuru talk herself out. And afterward, she doesn't talk for a while. She doesn't have many, or any, answers. She doesn't think that there was much death happening with what Bob and Steve were doing. Or really that it was all that important in the grand scheme of a lot of schemes. The Syndicate had a bounty on the two, but it was kind of small in comparison and really not something most people with any skill would try to collect. But, as Malin looks at Mitsuru, she knows it's not really the best time to just poo all over the other girl's fears.
So Malin finally asks, after a time of thinking. "Why don't you think you can do it?"
Mitsuru stops her tears for a moment, choking on the venom pouring out from her. "Because you are right, I was a Princess Puppy. Whenever I cried, they would say 'Oh who is lighting the cannon again?' Because I always -worried- about things. Oh, will everyone want to be my friend at school? Oh, was I rude when I was talking over them? Oh, did I hurt her feelings when I complimented about her dress? It's- it's always in my head. It's always there. You -always- worry about everything you do is the right thing to do. And if you mess up, then no body -wants- to be around you. Always, always worried. It makes you never want to go outside, never want to meet people, and, and, and I tried to find a way to stop it. Other people don't have it! Other people don't have to worry about how -they smell- around other people because you took too many baths, or maybe you used a soap that's offensive?" Mitsuru stares forward into infinity, as she -stares- at the people who never have to worry.
"So I found those people."
"Other people like Athena Asamiya. Lightning Spangles. Jotaro. Really- really cool people, you know? And if I just pretended to be like them, then I could pretend I didn't have those voices. I didn't have that -pressure-. But Athena was too -nice- I couldn't pretend to be happy all the time. And Lightning Spangles, Lightning Spangles could always be a hero, always helping people, and I couldn't, I'd screw up and people would laugh and laugh, and it wouldn't ever stop, and, and then I was Jotaro. I was a really mean and tough delinquint, that -nobody- would look at, and it worked. You -never- have to worry about what people think when you are angry. And when they think bad things, well, that's because they are losers and jerks, and you can just fight them. See? See?" Mitsuru touches her face, wiping away the tears. "It's drying up. I'm so -strong- now, and I can't feel it anymore. I just always have to be angry, I always have to be tough. It worked... it worked so well in Middle School, and now, and now..."
"And now in Seijyun High, it doesn't work."
Mitsuru sighs. "I... I don't want to be a Princess. I don't want to have everything attacking me, just because I can't turn off the little voice in my head screaming about every single mistake I make. I can't live life like that. I never want to live a life of that. I just- I just want a life where I don't -care- about it. And I can't have that at Seijyun High." Mitsuru goes silent, her legs hurting so bad from holding them. She relaxes them, and -glares- at Malin the best she could.
"I bet- I bet you didn't get that through your head, you stupid blonde bimbo."
Princess Puppydog was a sad Princess. And Malin was here to get information enough to get her home and for her to line her pockets with a bit more cash to make another day. And the sad, sad little girl could go back to being a sad sad little princess and just hate herself unto oblivion. And Malin could just go away, and not care, and just go about her life of beating up the Syndicate and taking on her missions for the Organization.
But the sad sad Princess Puppy was right here, and very present, and very much accusing Malin of being a dumbo. Something that makes said blonde girl cross her arms and huff. "So you don't want to care? Sounds like you're the one that /wants/ to be the dumb bimbo. Just giggling and laughing and having everyone just coo-coo up to you." Malin taunts, flicking her wrist and flashing her knife before slipping it away. A check down at her shoe just because she needs to to make it clear she has hidden blades down there as well. A not so subtle flex of her tools of the trade. "I'm not so dumb that I'm all beat up and left alone in a shrine somewhere while my drug dealer daddy is offering chump change for my return."
Malin pops up, standing up and setting her hands on her hips. "No matter what you do, you'll always care. You'll always worry." She flips one of her long bangs and huffs, leaning toward Mitsuru. "And that's why I see your little trick," she whispers, showing teeth.
Malin chuckles to herself and stands up fully, procuring her yo-yo. Thwip, slap, thwip, slap. Down and up it goes while Malin looks down at Mitsuru triumphantly. "You think you're so, so clever, do you? If you insult everyone and tell everyone to go away and 'rar, I'm just a stupid donkey jackass' at everyone they'll be mean to you or leave you alone and then clever Princess Puppy is all right and no one's going to help her so the world is mean and I get to be mean back." Malin once more laughs, and sets her arms akimbo. "But that won't work this time. Because I'm not going to fall for it. And I'm going to prove you wrong."
She leans over and with one deft affront to a knowingly wounded and battered girl, Malin reaches out to tap the end of Mitsuru's nose. "Boop. It's Malin. She's going to be here to annoy you until you like it."
Maybe that wouldn't be so bad.
"If I was a dumb bimbo like you," Mitsuru says firmly. "Then I wouldn't have to worry about any of this stuff. Then Daddy wouldn't be mad at me, and Mommy wouldn't be mad at me, and nobody at school would be mad at me. And then I could be a perfect little princess puppy. I would marry some short- some short rich idiot. And then I would have lots of kids and then I would be old and die. Feh. Good grief, what a waste of time it would be. Besides, Daddy isn't a drug dealer. He sells -coffee!-" Mitsuru insists.
"Good coffee, too."
"And no, I don't think I'm clever." Mitsuru sighs hard, looking at her notebook. "If I was smart, I'd be in Justice High at least. Then I wouldn't have to worry about those awful, awful tea ceramony classes. You should go away though, you are pretty anno-"
And she is booped.
Mitsuru bristles up, face turning red. She actually -throws- a punch. Not a very good one. Even her very good ones weren't very good. But it was a sign she was healing. "That's just a -taste- of what's going to happen if you stick around. When I get my legs working, I am going to kick you so hard." She throws up a leg. It goes 'floop' on the futon. Mitsuru sighs. "Do you want to eat something? I have... ramen." Mitsuru gestures at the cup noodles, and a thermos. "The water is cold now. But I found out if you wait long enough, -any- noodles will become soft!" The brawling princess's eyes almost sparkle at the discovery.
She was truly ready for the runaway life.
All of this is just a back and forth. And Malin had made it perfectly clear that she was not going to let herself be beaten by a mouthy Princess. Malin takes the insults in a stride to show off how little it bothers her. All through to the punch. Malin's a quick person and she's already skipped back from the big heavy blow to giggle and rock back and forth on her heels.
"Told you, not going anywhere right now. And if you want me to be around when you can kick again, then I will, just to show you you can't kick that hard," Malin taunts, sticking the tip of her tongue out before she whirls on heel and falls down to a butterfly sit again. "But yes, I would love some ramen. Thankyouverymuch, ms. Princess Puppy."
She laughs, a lead on cash, and a free meal. Cannot beat that. She just wishes she didn't waste time on all the other places she checked out first. "But, um, you are kinda really tall. So I think a lot of guys would be shorter than you. I mean, you're model tall." She looks at the laid out Mitsuru, mathing things in her head. Nodding, she does believe she's accurate in her assessment.
"So, are tea ceremonies hard are something? They a lot of your grades at school?"
Mitsuru blushes bright red.
Model tall. For some reason, those words made Mitsuru's face explode into a crimson, impossible to hide embarassment. What's more, she's covering her chest when Malin says that. "I'm dumb, but not model dumb." She mutters softly, releasing herself almost as a jolt of reality. She hastily leans over, as she pours the lukewarm water into a cup of instant noodles. "They... they aren't. The tea ceremonies. They are just a required credit, and it's really, really dumb. All it is rote memorization of the proper way of preparing tea for a variety of events and situations. How you move, how you bow, what you need to wear. It's all cultural studies stuff, and it's like, the crown jewel of Seijyun High. I guess it isn't all bad though." She places a piece of wood on the lid, to keep it down. She forces a smile, as she straightens up. She was still blushing. "I'm part of the Fight Club there. It's okay, though, I guess I'm the only one who actually fights."
"I guess that's the closest things I have to friends now."
Malin chews on her cheek when she sees what calling Mitsuru tall caused. It's everything in her to keep from bursting out laughing. But she wants the ramen, and she likes the idea of getting paid for all this, and she doesn't exactly hate Mitsuru. She can understand her in a way. And she's giving Malin free food, which is always a plus. So she doesn't she manages to not laugh too much more than a small amount when Mitsuru mutters her defenses.
"I'm just saying you're pretty. It doesn't mean I'm calling you dumb," she says, keeping up the relentless positivity that her own ego breeds.
A light clicks in Malin's head while she watches Mitsuru go through the procedure of the ramen noodles while also explaining the process of tea ceremonies. She taps her chin, lips pursing, while she watches the whole of it. "A fight club when you're the only one that fights? So, like, you have a team behind you for it?" she asks, "And it sounds like you can do this ceremony thing. So, hear me out, why don't you just go do super well at it? You're all banged to hell and you just did the ramen perfect. And it's all cold."
MItsuru looks down.
For all the relentless positivity, Mitsuru seemed to be struggling with all her iron will to make herself mope. And yet, a smile still sinks into her face, when the blonde girl calls her pretty. She -is- pretty, isn't she. And how she has a team behind her. And how she is so good at tea ceremony. She looks at it. It couldn't be perfect, could it? She wasn't even trying. Maybe she could just go and be super well at it. She could just go back home, and to Seijyun High, and just be really good at... good at...
And something clicks.
"You're- you're flattering me!" Mitsuru suddenly blurts out, eyes wide. All that forgotten rage was suddenly boiling up. "I get it now, I get it now. You're just- you're just trying to trick me into coming back home! So you can collect the bounty! You don't care about me, you just want money!" Mitsuru grabs the container of lukewarm noodles. And there, she actually -hurls- it at Malin. "You dumb bimbo! You bounty hunter! You ruffian! You low-born or-orphan! You tricked me! You tricked me!" The warmth and growing connection was gone. The facade was gone too. All that was left was a hurt, angry young lady.
Who maybe wasn't as pretty as Malin said she was.
Thunk! Splat! Noodles, water, a mess, all over the place and plenty of it splashing all over the teen that had been conversing with Mitsuru. A butterfly position is not the easiest to pop from when a splash of food is sent at her. And now she's wet, and uncomfortable, and being yelled at by the angry, injured Mitsuru.
And she's being accused of a lot of things. Things that aren't exactly untrue. She would certainly not mind it if Mitsuru went home and Malin got to pick up a packet of cash. And she was flattering Mitsuru, quite a bit. And now she's sitting there, wet, and covered in noodles. And she has to consider the truth that's been thrown a lot harder at her.
Her head drops and she hums to herself. Her eyes close and she nods. "I'm a bounty hunter. Kind of. I don't normally hunt bounties. This just seemed like an easy peasy job." She breathes in and exhales slowly. "And I could still get the money by telling your dad where you are. But I don't know if you should go back, because he sounds like a pretty crummy guy."
She puts her hands behind her head, and sits, and drips. "Normally I just steal stuff from Syndicate guys, or gather information for people, and sometimes I just go beat up gangsters for picking on people. Rescuing kidnapped princesses just seemed normal for that. But, I don't think you need rescuing."
She shrugs. "And I was thinking if you went back home you could just do cool shit like have everyone think you're this tall, pretty girl with all the grace and foo-foo, but then at night you sneak out and do badass stuff like fight the Syndicate. And since I know all about sneaking out and stuff. . ."
"Bad- bad butt stuff?"
Not even a curse word from the princess. But Mitsuru's mood switches were heavy, and fast. She -looks- and sees how Malin reacts, and that voice in her head stabs her right in the back. How -Malin- will see her from now on. She doesn't run away, she -admits- what she's doing. But she talks about 'fighting' the Syndicate. Like she was a real tough kid. Like what Mitsuru wanted to be. Maybe Mitsuru could be just like her. With knives, and short shorts. But... but she wasn't going to do that. Sneaking out. "I... I wish I could sneak out. But- but. Here. this." She adjusts her body, her chest, where the bandages were.
And she wiggles the bandages around a bit.
It was clear, now, to see the depth of the impact, and where it was. How she was impaled through; how the second degree burns weren't... healing right. How it was just sutured together. A lot of burns, and a wound in her chest that... that didn't look like it was healing right. There was too much white mess, too much swelling. It was red, and there was a -smell-. Mitsuru just averts her eyes from it. "I don't want to have anything do to with the Syndicate. They did this. I don't- I don't know what I'm supposed to do anymore. I- I don't know. I can't trust anything, or anyone. I can't trust Steve, or Bob. I can't trust you. I can't trust myself, I can't trust my parents, I can't trust my teachers, my co-students. Everyone is just phonies. Total phonies!" And Mitsuru covers her bandages again, wincing as she pushes them back. She slumps in her pillow. She suddenly sneezes.
It takes a moment for Malin to process what Mitsuru means by butt stuff. When she does, she laughs and laughs and ends with a big, sharp grin for Mitsuru. "I like, Princess Puppydog," she says, slapping her still damp leg. "Even if you do throw noodles at your best friend."
She crosses her arms and looks Mitsuru's, everything, over. and all she has is a shrug. "So you got really beat up. Maybe you'll end up with a cool scar to talk about. Maybe there's lots of stuff you can't trust. I sure don't. But that's life." She knows, because she is wise. Or perhaps, in some ways a little wiser than her demeanor suggests.
She takes a noodle off of her and with her tongue stuck out in an overly melodramatic show of aiming, flips the ramen over toward Mitsuru. "I think you need a real doctor. And those guys should really help you there, but they got the Syndicate looking for them - less than your daddy's offering for you. So they might not be the best for it." She hums and rubs her chin. "This is tricky, I won't lie."
But her pensiveness falls away to a thumbs up. "Good think you got Malin on your side!"
"Yeah, until you stab me in the back too."
Mitsuru was a grumpy princess. But even in her bitterness... she was worried. Not afraid, because once she was afraid, she would do stupid things. But she didn't like what was happening. "I think I need a real doctor too." Mitsuru says softly. "But Steve and Bob... they really care about me. I think they are looking for a real doctor, that won't hand me over to my parents instantly, or them to the Syndicate. I just have to trust them. And hope they aren't arrested. Or captured. Because then I would be left here for dead, wouldn't I." There is a moment of silence. "Do you know of any?" Mitsuru asks, clinging to the faintest illusion of hope.
"Do you know of any doctors like that?"
Malin's arms cross confidently. "I am the world's foremost master of Malin style and Malin herself, and I know she's not going to stab you in the back," she tells Mitsuru looking as curiously smug as she can in this information about herself.
The question does throw her off guard. She scratches at her face and she hums to herself. And then her head dips. "No, no I don't. Not off-hand." Her attention snaps up at at Mitsuru. "But I am an expert at gathering information and I will most certainly find you that kind of doctor!"
Mitsuru didn't want to trust people.
Trusting people was how you got hurt. Right? Or was it ignoring people. It was so... confusing to Mitsuru. She wanted Malin to disappear forever and die in a hole and then she never had to think baout her or her smiles or her compliments. On the other hand? She was afraid she was going to get sick and die here now. Killed by kindness. She didn't know. But she would try. She gives a long, shuddering inhale, and a slow exhale. "Could... could you please find one? If- if I am gone, I'll leave a note, okay?" Gone? As in dead? Or- or something else. "I don't think Bob and Steve are very smart. I mean, adults are all stupid!" Mitsuru tries to put up her facade. But she was feeling so... so weak now. She never had the vigor of real fighters. Or the toughness. She just tried as hard as she could.
Trusting people could hurt. A lot of things could hurt. Malin knew this to be true. She knew that right now she had a lot of options to hurt Mitsuru and to make a profit off of it. She could disappear. She could speak up to Mitsuru's dad. She could, in some warped reality direct everyone here at the right time and watch the fireworks while pocketing a bunch of dosh. She could make Mitsuru hurt in a lot more ways than what's happened to her body.
But she wouldn't.
A boop to the nose. Malin standing over Mitsuru with a grin. "You just leave this to Malin," she tells Mitsuru. "I'm the best, and you'll know it. All you got to do is stay okay, and leave me a note if you get off to doing any adventures."
Mitsuru always scowls when she was touched like that. When she was a bully, it was easy to be mad when people disrespected you. Same as being a princess. "I'll... I'll try." Mitsuru says, pulling the covers over her. That was the last step now. She just had to trust a stranger. Everything Malin imagined she could do, Mitsuru was doing the same. But what else did Mitsuru have. She didn't even know if she was going to be okay. She thought the smell was because she missed a bath, but, but that anxiety creeps in without anger to smash it. What if it wasn't? What if she was dying, and her body didn't know it yet. Her face was slate cold. But she felt... she needed to do something, just in case. "Malin?" She says, wrapped up in her blankets.
"I'm sorry I threw the cup of noodles at you." She admits.
Booped again. Malin stands ups, hands on hips, and strolls backwards toward the exit of the shrine. She's putting on a strong show of not being concerned with the ramen water and noodles that were dumped all over herself. It's nothing in the face of a valiant ego. Nothing because a sadsack princess go huffy with her. It's beneath her to even let it get Malin down.
Still, it felt so very good when she heard the apology.
"Thanks," she says, "It was a dick move, but you got angry. Try not to do it again. Or at least let me get up first so I can dodge it." She laughs and then she's outside.
And just like that, her sneakers sound on the roof and with a quick thump of departure, all gets quiet and peaceful for Mitsuru. All alone, with her notebook, and her spilled ramen, and her blankets. And her thoughts.
Alone, with her thoughts.
She hated it. She hated people like Malin, and Steve, and Bob, and her parents, and everyone, and herself. And she especially hated her thoughts when she was alone. Because as long as she was hateful, and mad, she never had to deal with any of those. But when you were exhausted, when you were weak, Mitsuru had few outlets. She had few escapes. Except one. One left. She reaches over, with a groan, for her notebook. And she does the only thing left, to stop those wretched thoughts from hurting her, tearing her apart.
She returns to working on her homework.
Log created on 12:00:08 01/29/2020 by Malin, and last modified on 16:47:05 02/03/2020.