Description: Coco is convalescing after a devastating finish to her second-round Finals match with Junko. Hawksley comes to offer support. Ariastra comes to offer healing. Chevy comes to offer flowers. Junko comes to offer apologies. Abigail comes to offer protection. In return, Coco can only offer venom.
*****SUNDAY NOVEMBER 5TH: 1OPM*****
Final signatures and selfies sorted, Hawksley Moore makes his way backstage in The Arena. Somehow, despite all that he'd had to deal with since yesterday afternoon he managed to win his match. Alone at last he rests his head in his hands and allows himself some time to try and process recent events. In the lead up to the fight with Nixie, he'd banished all thoughts of Coco's fiery fate from his head. He'd focused on other things about his time in Metro City, because he knew that if he allowed any of that pain and concern in, it could scupper his chance of success and he now has more reason than ever to continue in the competition. He wants to face Junko.
The adrenaline in his blood and the soaring support from the crowd had carried him through the combat in the ring. To his fans, he probably seemed like the same cheeky and cheerful fella as always, landing his blows with confidence and cleanly securing his victory. Perhaps some people will have found his calm appearance callous, given that rumours about his rekindled relationship with Coco were rife. Stories of her horrific injuries have travelled far beyond those present in the venue and spread like wildfire across websites and social media. Some comments suggested that the Blaze brawler should have dropped out of the competition to be by the Brit's bedside.
He had gone with the girl to the hospital after her battle, permitted to journey in the ambulance as they worked on her the best they could on the way. He'd stayed with her for a few hours before returning to his apartment by Blaze HQ to shower and change and then head back to The Arena. It wasn't till he was waiting to make his entrance that he realised he hadn't had a drink all day.
*****MONDAY NOVEMBER 6TH: 2PM*****
Still sober, Hawksley has been back at the hospital since this morning, sitting in one of the chairs by the window of Coco's room. She's been resting the whole time, showing no response to either him or the medical staff that stop by to visit her. She's got a Venflon on her hand and a ventilator and monitor set up by her bed. Her body and face are both covered in bandages.
Who knows what dreams may have been coming to the British heiress as she's laid in bed, a steady stream of fluids flowing into her veins? Whatever they've been, they've given her a fitful rest - which has meant signs of life, at least. The bandages on her body are mostly concentrated around her feet and arms like casts, but perhaps the most necessary are the ones wrapped around her face. They may well act as a mercy for anyone observing the British fighter. Only her mouth and nose and eyes are uncovered, giving the appearance of wearing a balaclava, though her purple hair can be seen on the pillow. At least that didn't catch too badly.
As Hawksley is waiting, there's another fitful twitch from the Brit, followed by a deep and shuddering gasp as she jerks, her eyes opening wide. She tries to speak, but the attempt results in her coughing instead. Fighting it down and swallowing hard with a whimper, she finally manages to rasp out her words as her eyes slowly search the room:
"Morgie. Where's my... bearcat?"
Hawksley is on hyper alert, so when Coco twitches, he's immediately on his feet. "Ah feck, Coco! You're awake. Let me just fetch the doctor and then I'll explain about Morgie."
He rushes from the room, returning with a petite dark haired woman in medical scrubs. "Okay, Constance" she says in a soothing voice. "I'm just going to run some checks on you."
As she performs the tests, Hawksley prattles on in the background. "Morgie is with one of those en eff gee handler types. The fella has taken quite a shine to him. Don't worry though, he promises to give him back once you're ready."
Satisfied for now, the doctor departs, promising to return in an hour for further observations.
Hawksley sits back on the chair with a sigh. "You scared us all, Coco Pops. I didn't think you were gonna wake up. This is probably a really stupid question but how are you feeling?"
The signs show that Coco's vitals are stable. Like most fighters, she's not easily put down, even by the likes of a hellfire-wielding miko. The more concerning news are the burns - but the doctor deigns not to get into much detail on that with the girl having just awakened.
"I just want some water," is all that she musters for a response to Hawksley's question. And once she's had that, she can't help but drift back to sleep.
The next several hours see Coco waking up on occasion, wanting to know about the result of her match as well as the others that had happened later that day. At some point when it gets late, Hawksley is asked politely to leave by the staff and to come back in the morning.
Afterwards, left alone in the darkened hospital room to her own devices, a restless Coco searches the bedside cupboard of her belongings and finds her phone. She dares to open the camera app and take a look at herself in it before closing it quickly with a shudder as the feeling she'd felt from those who'd seen her is confirmed.
She opens a browser and starts looking for footage and news and social media commentary on the match from earlier, losing herself in it until her phone's battery runs dry.
Coco is quiet the next morning, dividing her concentration between a liquid breakfast and her recharged mobile as visiting hours re-open. The medical team seem to have found the correct dosage of pain medication to keep her in a slightly hazy but lucid and low-pain state.
Ariastra didn't want to do it. What happened was a tragedy, and everyone could fuck right off She's so tired. So tired of seeing this. No one was made to see so much of it. She should have said not to Hawksley, tell him she's not a portable healing station. But Hawksley didn't deserve this. So she relented once he got through. Once she finally answered her phone.
It's morning. Coco is in the hospital. Ariastra is not in the mood to see many people. She's not even in the mood to see a hospital proper. But she promised. She teleports and she ends up in a bathroom. If she did it right, that's the bathroom of Coco's hospital room. If not, she will probably give someone else a heart attack. She opens the bathroom door. "I am here. Let's get this over with." Today she's wearing all black, that's not usual for her. A sign of mourning?
The British burn victim's immediate instinct to having a woman in black emerge from her bathroom in the middle of sucking down some kind of spinach puree is to scream. However, between the fact that she's in the middle of said suckage and the fact that she's not especially fit for screaming at the moment, all she manages to effect is a violent flinch, a whimper, and sputtering and coughing.
"What are /you/ doing here?" she manages to ask weakly, attempting to muster defiance in her features - an expression that is impossible to see through her bandages. "Aren't you from Team Thunder?" she asks, continuing to cough, before adding the further question, "What, did she send you to finish the job? Security!"
Her shout isn't nearly loud enough to actually be heard by the hospital's security staff, so she tries to lean over for the nurse call button, groaning as the effort proves painful.
"Oh chill out, I went out of my way to come help you. Hawksley called me. Bloody persistent bastard." She moves closer to the bed. "So here, ready to cure your sorry ass. After this, Hawkley owns me a big one." Ariastra is not in the mood, and it shows.
She moves even closer to Coco. Until she's right beside her, "There isn't that much of a difference. Ok, let get this done with." She rubs her hands together, getting ready.
Wandering through the hospital room door comes Hawksley, carrying a couple of carrier bags full of items for Coco.
"Sorry I'm a bit late. cailin. I stopped by the shop to get you a few things, so I did. There's two pairs of loose fitting pyjamas, some cotton underwear, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a deodorant and some snacks in case the food in here is shite. I mean, once you're able to eat again and all."
Looking towards the bed, ready with a smile he spots that Coco already has company. "Ariastra! You made it" he beams brightly. "Fecking brilliant. Now you can help her like you helped me when I fecked my face up. Isn't it good of her to come to help you, Coco Pops?"
Apparently he hasn't overhead any of the immortal's begrudging words.
As painful as it may be to huff indignantly under the circumstances, Coco makes the effort, though it results in an involuntary wheeze immediately afterward. She clutches her bag o' spinach and her phone tight to herself. She knows what Ariastra is capable of - she saw what she'd done when Hawksley had made that brilliant decision to headbutt explosives into the crowd at the RUMBLE - and the idea of instant relief, a miraculous return to the status quo, is tempting. On the other hand...
That's when the Irish fella barges in on their encounter, causing Coco's attention to shift toward him. He arranged for this, did he? Part of her balks a little inside at the speed with which he's arranged to magically erase the unsightly injuries inflicted on her. Thoughtful, maybe, but who is he thinking of?
"- Lucky, did I ask for this?"
She gives a slight loll of her head to indicate Ariastra as she edges back to sit up slightly more.
"No, I didn't. In fact, I don't need it. I can fix it myself."
As if to demonstrate, she closes her eyes shut tightly. She imagines herself with nothing more than a little too much sun, that the bandages are just there for show. She imagines that all she needs is a bit of aloe vera and a day or two to recuperate. She imagines that she was never burnt that badly in the first place.
When she opens her eyes, nothing has changed.
Her imagination can't stand up to the reality of the situation, no matter how much the drugs may dampen the pain, it's an inescapable fact of her present existence.
Eyes welling with tears of anger, she turns her gaze on Ariastra directly.
"If you wanted to do something about this, you should have done something before it happened. It's your fault for not putting a leash on that rabid b-word in the first place. You are supposed to be teaching us. Is this what you taught her to do?"
She crooks a bandaged finger toward herself.
"Just... sod off."
She looks at Hawksley. "The fuck man? She didn't ask you and you did ask her if she wanted it?" She moves away but it the wall with her hand, hard."
She takes a deep breath. "I have better things to do than just come here to heal someone who has more brawl than the brain and is about as nice as a pack of hyenas. Her only redeeming quality is that you're in her life." She rolls her eyes. "You still owe me that Favor Hawksley and you better own to it when I request it."
She then cracks her finger. "My dear Coco, right now, I wish I had taught her to go all the way. So continue to use the power of delusion to imagine you're a good person, and then kindly fuck off. It's certainly not fun when you're at the receiving end of things instead of being the bitch who delivers."
She looks one more time at Hawksley. "Going to defend your girl? Or we're still on 'good terms?'"
"No, you never like, but I thought it would be grand if Ariastra could help you. She's a very talented woman you know."
Hawksley watches as Coco works on fixing herself. He's not too confident she can. Sure, she's one of the most strong willed and stubborn people he's ever encountered but she can't just wish herself better can she?
It seems his suspicions regarding Coco's capabilities are correct. He may not be able to experience emotions like she can but he can feel her frustation when it fails.
He turns his gaze on the Thunder sponsor, setting down the bags and shrugging his shoulders at her. "Why would she even consider rejecting your healing? I didn't think there was any doubt she would want it." Truth be told, he's totally baffled by the Brit's decision.
"Course I haven't forgotten about the favour. Just let me know what you need when it's time" he assures Ariastra.
Hawksley's dark eyes dart between the two women and he seems to hesitate before speaking. When he finally does it's to address Ariastra. "You're being a bit bloody harsh on her, so you are. She's just been through a trauma, so she can probably do without the character assassination. I appreciate you coming over here and all but just give her a fecking break, yeah?"
Coco sneers at Ariastra from behind her bandages. It's not a pretty sight.
"Oh yes, you know me so well, don't you? You've written me off completely as a person because I kicked a girl who was literally begging for it, yet when one of yours decides to try and kill me, all you can say is 'should've finished the job.' Better get her in here quick, because that's going on public record. And then you have the audacity to /insist/ that you're owed a favour for coming in here and telling me I deserve to die? God, you couldn't see daylight from your moral high grou-"
She breaks off her tirade to fall into a fresh coughing fit, reaching toward her water again. As she's reaching, she smacks the call button for the nurse before taking the liquid and raising it to her mouth. Once she's managed a sip, she murmurs coldly, "Don't worry, Lucky. I can survive another assassination attempt by their lot."
"I just think it's unfair someone like you manages to survive, yet a little girl fighting with all her strength to beat cancer for the longest time... loses and dies. So yeah, I think it's unfair. So excuse me if I don't give a shit at something happening to you."
SHe takes a deep breath. "in the end, it just means Junko was stronger than you, and to be fair, you've been begging for something to happen to you in forever. So, in short, it's not because I am immortal that I have time to lose with someone like you. Hawksley is a very decent guy, and I truly believe he meant to help you, but you truly are making me lose my time. He owns me that favor, because if it wasn't for you, you would be healed. I came despite my better judgment. Now, for Hawksley's sake, I am going to leave.
SHe then looks at Hawksley. "You will excuse me if I am not in the mood for her shit. If she changes her mind, I don't want to hear it. If you need healing sure, I will come for you, but don't even bother calling for her again. I don't have your eyes to see what you're doing with her."
She then moves toward the door of the room, about to leave on foot this time, because she doesn't trust where she will teleport herself right now with the foul mood she is in.
And, right outside the door, with a bouquet of assorted get-well flowers, is a very confused Chevelle Beaumont.
Ariastra is here.
And she's wearing black.
Chevy stares wild-eyed at her mentor. It's been... a while since she'd had a proper conversation with her, and even then -- well, the circumstances were similar. Kinda.
Chevy looks nervously to the door, and then to the lady dressed in black. Panic starts to set in.
"... Oh no... am... am I too late?"
And accompanying the flower-wielding water bender is the source for all of this strife and chaos.
Junko stares down at the floor, her expression somber. Even through the heavy privacy door she can hear the shouting going on inside the hospital room. She's been the cause of enough anger and fear over the past few years to recognize the familiar emotional notes behind those raised voices. While she can't make out every little word being said, she picks up enough to realize that whatever differences the people inside have they're being enflamed because of her.
In the back of her mind she can feel Suzaku practically preening over the misery its influence has wrought. Even more so because it hadn't been required to lift a single feather in effort. The mere presence of his persistent unnatural hatred has tainted the miko deeply enough that it's hard for her to tell whether or not she's just an extension of the malicious god at this point.
Her uncle had sent her out into this tournament in the hopes that she would learn to control that fiery temper. But thus far all she's done is burn down the lives of yet more people who didn't deserve to be put to the corrupted flames.
Her first victim was Ichika, who only wanted to be her friend and include her as part of her little dream for a better world. The people who had come to witness her fights, expecting to have a good time. The owners of the restaurant and the bar. Now Coco, someone she barely knows, who wasn't expecting the sort of fury that the miko had brought with her into the arena.
How long until she adds Chevy to that list?
At least someone had intervened before she was able to do any real damage. Perhaps Zander might have eventually found his way through the flame and smoke to pull her off her fallen opponent once again but who knows how much of Coco would have been left by then.
Her fingers clench tightly, the freshly healed pale skin turning even whiter around the knuckles at the memory. She'd just been so damn angry! Even more so than usual. It doesn't make any sense. Suzaku has been quiet for weeks now, hardly even bothering to stir despite her blatant violation of its warnings against fraternization with others. Her mind has been constantly alert, almost gripped by a paranoia of the inevitable ambush she expects from the cunning demon.
And yet, here she is, sitting outside of the hospital room of a girl she'd beaten half to death.
Junko sighs quietly and closes her eyes. Maybe she shouldn't even be here. With things in this state, showing up in person might just make everything worse. It's all she's good at, apparently.
The opening of the door causes the miko to flinch instinctively. She shuffles a few steps closer to Chevy, clutching her hands to her chest as she hides behind the taller American girl. Unable to see the state of the figure that emerges into the hallway, she merely waits to see how the other react.
Her teammate's worried question sends a chill down the priestess's spine, the color draining from her face. She suddenly finds it hard to breath as fear grips her heart like a cold icy claw, squeezing hard enough to strangle her words into a pained whimper.
"N-no...! Not again..."
Hawksley is dumbfounded by Ariastra's mean spirited attitude. "Someone like her? You seriously think Coco has done something so bad that she deserves to die for following her dreams? She's a fighter, the same as the rest of us, so yeah, she puts herself at risk but I'd hope and pray that none of us would ever lose our life doing something we love. As for the little girl, I don't know if you're talking about someone specific. If you are and she's someone you care for, then that's fecking awful. Eternal peace to her soul but I don't see how Coco dying would help bring the bairn back."
He makes no attempt to stop Ariastra leaving, regretting that he'd rang her in the first place. Then again, it had been worth a try. His eyes move towards the door as she exits and he hears voices on the other side, though they aren't loud enough for him to make out the words being spoken.
"I'm sorry" he says to Coco. "I was trying to help but it looks like I fecked up."
Coco just snorts when Ariastra starts going off seemingly at random at her about some theoretical child with cancer.
"Just fuck off back under whatever rock you've been spending your millennia already. Lucky's no fucking saint either, and neither is Chevy. All it comes down to is you don't like me standing up for myself, and I don't fucking care what you think. And as for your straw-angel cancer baby, why don't you go and fix them then? At least I donate!"
Certainly, the sound of Constance Coalbridge's voice cannot be mistaken for that of someone who has recently expired to anyone just outside the room when Ariastra opens the door. She slumps back against the pillows as she turns her head up to the ceiling.
"It's not your fault, Lucky. Well, other than the part where you all decided to cancel me. That's just what I get for having a backbone, I suppose."
She closes her eyes as she's pretty sure she recognized a voice just now. "Lucky, please tell me the nurse on duty has a Southern drawl."
Blinks seeing Chevy and Junko, coming face to face witht hem. Chevy and Junko seem worried she is dead... "No, she isn't dead..." She admits.
She takes a deep breath she doesn't want to snap at those two. "Congrats on your victory Chevy and same to you Junko. I am proud of you both.
Even when Hawksley speaks, she's ready to go after that, but Coco... Coco had to bring the little girl. The air becomes electric. A small ball of electricity appears in Ariastra's hand, and it's growing. Her hair are moving on its own for a moment, and her eyes also change, showing electricity as well. She turns around, it looks like she's going to do something to Coco.
But instead, she whispers something, Hawksley. She tells him quite a few things and she contains her electricity, as if calming down at least enough. Then she moves back to pass both girls. Finally. "It's good you didn't kill her Junko. But, it's also ok, don't beat yourself too much over it. You didn't do it on purpose. That's the difference between you and her."
Then, unless stopped by someone, she leaves.
Chevy -had- heard some commotion from before -- but it wasn't until she was standing in the open doorway that she could realize that it was coming from Coco's room. Particularly when she hears her own -name-.
Chevy pivots backward, not wanting to block Ariastra's exit, especially as the hayseed is now in a prime position to see just how much anger the elder is holding back upon spotting the Team Thunder fighters.
"Oh, thank goodness," she answers, breathing a sigh of relief. And when she is congratulated, she bows back to Ariastra: "Thank you, sensei. Y'all have taught me so much, I guess it was only a matter of time before it finally started to show, heh..."
When Ariastra ducks back into the room, Chevy turns back to Junko. The waterbender would probably show up as a cold spot in contrast to the other humans in the area -- but she doesn't make any -immediate- motion to startle the miko with a touch at this point.
As discreetly as she can, she confides with Junko: "It'll just be a moment... I don't know if we should stay too long though."
When Ariastra turns back, Chevy bows her head again. Smiling as Junko receives praise -- though the hayseed also finds cause to look down at her sneakers, mostly biting back her urge to say something in response. She won't get in Ariastra's way.
"Take care, sensei..."
Once the coast is clear, Chevy shuffles her way inside the room. Always crowded, these things are...
"Gosh, I hope not --" she answers, barely visible behind her floral bouquet -- chock full of all manner of flowers, with almost half of them purple in consideration for Coco's apparent favorite color. "-- I warn't signed up to give out sponge baths."
She smiles faintly, bowing her head with a shy smile.
"Hey Hawksley. Hey Coco." She coughs lightly. "I know we ain't the folk you wanna see right now, but I promise we won't be long. Miss Daidoji's here to say somethin'."
She glances over to Junko, motioning her inside. She whispers, "C'mon in..."
Hearing confirmation that her victim had in fact survived their encounter causes Junko to slump against the wall with relief. Only now as a semblance of calm returns does the girl realize she's been holding her breath. Inhaling slowly, the miko just gives a non-committal nod towards Ariastra.
Being congratulated for her viscous display isn't exactly what she expected to hear. Then again, all of her mentors except the xian have thus far proven to be bafflingly intent on trying to poke her with a stick. It's like they want her to lose her temper and tear the place up. The so-called Darkstalker Queen's motives were fairly transparent if not what she expected to gain from it except perhaps more chaos in the world. Damned yokai.
'You didn't do it on purpose.'
If that isn't the most blatant lie anyone has told about her thus far...
She absolutely had done it on purpose, that's the problem. Though Suzaku's corruption influenced her actions, it did not control them. At least, most times it didn't. Junko had been fully aware of what she was doing that night in the arena. Pushed to behave in ways she wouldn't normally consider, perhaps, but ultimately all of that ugly darkness was hers. The demon god simply peeled back the layers of decorum and restraint that were usually in place, lit the fuse on the powder keg that was buried deep in her subconscious. In some ways, what Coco had faced was a more genuine version of herself than the miko wanted to admit.
And, if nothing else, Junko had known what would happen when she started to wield those corrupted flames. Channeling the raw essence of an eternally pissed off god for any reason other than the annihilation of monsters went several steps beyond foolish. The sort of power she wielded was never meant to handled by someone so young or inexperienced. It wasn't meant for mortals to dally with at all, honestly, but someone has to make the sacrifice.
But to use it for entertainment purposes? If it weren't for the debt she owed her uncle, she would have refused him outright from the start. This entire venture has been nothing but trouble - mostly for everyone around her.
Junko's quiet self-reflection is interrupted by the soft call of the only person foolish enough to consider her a friend. Well, no more turning back. She'd look even more foolish if she were to turn tail now. Lowering her head, the small girl takes a steadying breath and shuffles into view.
The miko hesitates at the door, unsure she should approach any closer. Her crimson eyes, no longer burning with supernatural hatred, focus pointedly off to one side of the room unable to meet Coco's gaze. Her mouth opens as if to speak but nothing comes out and after a moment or two she closes it again looking flustered. Eventually, she clenches her trembling hands into fists at her side and gives a deep bow towards the bed-ridden girl, practically folding down until her back is parallel with the floor.
"Hontou ni gomen nasai!"
Unable to find her courage, the foreign girl's mind defaults back to what she knows under the strain. Her soft voice trembles as she apologizes, her head remaining low so that her hair shields her face from view lest her victim be troubled by the emotion she's trying to contain.
"Yurushite kudasai, Coco-san!"
"I didn't cancel you" Hawksley defends himself to Coco. "I just didn't like your behaviour and told you as much. You were ghosting me for ages when I tried to explain everything."
He suddenly feels tired at the thought of going over old ground again and he could really do with a drink. As for the nurse, he hasn't noticed which one is on duty today, so he can't be sure about their voice. "I suppose they could well do. Why? Do you have a fancy for the accent now? I wouldn't have thought you'd be a fan."
As Ariastra turns back towards he and Coco, Hawksley sees the electricity held in her hand. When she approaches him, he's on alert, ready to react should he need to but instead it seems she wants to whisper some words.
He can feel her hot breath in his ear as she tells him exactly what she thinks of Coco and reveals her requested favour from him. He stays silent but when she's done, he does nod his head. He watches her walk away and hears her chatting to people in the hallway. It's then that he realises who is outside the room and he doesn't think the purple haired patient is gonna like it one bit.
By the time Chevy has made her way in, the Irish fella has fixed a smile on his face. "Hello!" he greets her cheerily. "Oh how lovely, you've brought flowers. Isn't that kind of her, Coco?"
There's a slight manic energy to his tone as he talks. It's bad enough that her red haired rival has showed up but the company she is keeping could be enough to drive Coco crazy.
Junko shuffles her way in and against his better judgement, Hawksley feels a semblance of sympathy towards her. His own troubled adolescence is still recent enough for him to remember the fear he had felt when he discovered his own inner fire. Then there is Ariastra's favour, of which she had technically asked two things of him. One of these was not to be too mad at the miko. Turning off emotions is easier said than done but she has at least had the decency to show up here today and face the music. What she says, he does not understand. He may have finally mastered the correct greeting towards his Japanese fellow fighters but any other knowledge of the language is very thin on the ground.
Though she can hardly move, there's a sense that Coco is bristling as Ariastra acts as though she's going to attack her again. She keeps her eyes locked on the immortal, scowling as she starts speaking to Hawksley. The intensifying venom in her eyes suggests that she suspects that the Team Thunder sponsor is pouring poison in the Blaze brawler's ear. She has enough composure to realise that saying anything else would only serve as an invitation to Ariastra to stay longer, though, so she bites her tongue.
Unfortunately, from her perspective, the next person to enter the room is, as she suspected, not her nurse, but her nemesis. The ironic thing is that she was starting to forgive the redhead, just a little bit, before all of this happened. Even for that vicious kick, which, really, she couldn't help but admit was slightly justifiable, if totally mean, so basically something she'd have done in Chevy's shoes. Those who were paying attention to her last interview with the New Fighting Generation might have even realized that she'd hinted at a certain reverence for the farm girl.
All that has shifted after what happened in her fight with Junko.
"Oh, hello, Chevy. That's too bad, really. You're such a deft hand with a water bucket; I'm sure you could have done me a world of good."
She takes a slurp from her water to wet her throat, clearing it before continuing.
"I saw your video on FightTube. It was all very nice. Clever, too, using the victorious hashtag and wearing the t-shirt after I lost. It's a very good coverup for the hit you arranged with - oh right, you've brought her with you."
Coco's eyes drift toward the miko, lingering on her as she stops speaking to listen to Junko, to watch her apology. She shows no emotion on her face as she does - it's fairly hard to read anyway, with the bandages, but she seems able to make her feelings shown regardless.
It doesn't matter much whether the miko hides her face or not. Coco can read the feeling coming off of her. It feels genuine. But she remembers this person, and how quickly she became the other person. The miko is likely either good at hiding her feelings or simply so chaotic that she can flip at the ring of a bell. Does it really matter which?
Finally, Coco speaks.
"Daijobu desu, Junko-san," she replies with a soft, papery tone. Then, voice dropping, she adds, "You don't have to apologize for doing what you were told."
She shifts her eyes to Hawksley at his praise of the flowers, then sniffs. "I suppose it's a nice thought, if they let them in here. If she was hoping to trigger an allergy attack, she'll be disappointed. I'm only allergic to star anise."
As soon as Ariastra turns a corner, she is nowhere to be seen in the hospital. She was done with this. She shouldn't even have come. But at least she got to see a few Thunders. Which was nice enough.
Chevy was feeling butterflies in her stomach earlier, to be sure. Filming the video for FightTube was one thing -- as Dev had recommended, it was not only a nice gesture for Coco, but it was an easy way to get in front of the narrative before every Tom, Lou, and Kitty would have had their opportunity to weigh in on the matter. The fact of the matter is -- she -was- concerned for Coco, and there just isn't a good way to -say- it.
Other than, well, with flowers. That'd be something her momma would always suggest.
Normally, she had noticed that Hawksley seemed... well, if not completely -oblivious- to any strife that might occur between herself and Coco, then certainly he seemed to want to keep it on the down low. This time, though, that manic edge of his manages to keep the hayseed's jaw clamped shut. Message received!
Returning her attention to the bandaged star of the hour, she smiles and nods. She certainly takes no offense at her buckets being called out -- was it supposed to be an insult? She can't tell, half the time.
She doesn't miss the intimation on the followup though.
"The hit I arranged?"
Eyelashes flutter for a moment, as she looks over to Hawksley for guidance. It's a brief look, though, and Chevy turns her blue eyes back to Coco. Directly.
"Well, that wouldn't be real sportin' of me... I was lookin' forward to us facin' off in the tournament."
She lowers her bouquet slightly -- edging a bit further into the room to make way for Junko. Here, Chevy can practically feel her friend's nervousness. She makes a small hum of support -- letting the miko know that she's standing right behind her, encouraging her every step of the way.
It's just that, like Hawksley, she has only a brief guess of what was said. Gomen nasai, yes, that means sorry. Kudasai, give. Past that...
Luckily, Coco seems to be able to understand even more than that. ... And still laboring under the idea that Chevy -- or -someone- -- has it in for her.
"... I don't -think- there's any star ani--"
Cutting herself off, she shakes her head slowly. "Ah, you! Even when you're bedridden I still cain't keep up with you, Coco. These nurses sure got their work cut out for 'em..."
She squishes in a little closer, as she can hear from the presence in the hall that quarters are about to get even tighter in this little hospital room -- though at this point, she's looking for a clear place to put the flowers in her hands...
Fortunately, reading faces is a skill that Junko no longer cares much about by virtue of not being able to see them any more. Perhaps the stony expression is meant for the others. The crispness in the Brit's voice is something she does pick up on though.
The miko winces. Well, what did she expect? That Coco hasn't started screaming and throwing things at her is a step up from the usual reaction she gets from the people who experience her flames. But who knows, the day is young and the tension in the room is thick enough to swim in. There's bound to be a land mine or two for her to stumble over sooner or later.
After receiving the dismissive reply, the priestess slowly stands upright once more revealing her miserable expression. Her gaze remains turned away from Coco, fixated on a random point on the opposite wall. Her shy behavior is mostly a result of the awkwardness in the room. It's been a long time since she had to do so much socializing. It's still a bit of a strain to resist the impulses to drive everyone around her away, especially now considering what she's done.
But it's also because she doesn't want to draw attention to the fact that her busted face is more or less already healed. Only a bit of dark bruising around the nose and a few faint traces of small cuts on her lower lip remain as evidence of the punishment her opponent managed to mete out. Even those will be gone before the evening comes. She's not sure how the other girl will react to that aspect of her powers considering how badly Chevy said her condition was in after the berserking shrine maiden got done with her.
However, there is something that Coco says which confuses the girl. She peers at the Brit sideways with an obvious lack of understanding then turns to Chevy as her friend moves closer, looking for clarification.
"What I was told...?"
Hawksley is on edge. Perhaps it's the peculiar party of people in the room or maybe it's the fact he's missing the buzz of the booze he's used to having in his bloodstream. His phone acts as a brief distraction when a message comes in and he swipes the screen to view it.
"Djamila sends her best wishes" he reports to Coco, slipping the cellphone back into his pants pocket.
He hasn't seen any video posted by Chevy, so he's unsure of the contents. He's certain it will have been meant well though, even if the chances of it winding Coco up are probably pretty high. Especially since she seems to think that Chevy and Junko have arranged some sort of assassination attempt on her. "You think someone asked her to harm you?" he questions the Brit, his expression one of disbelief.
As Chevy speaks up, he seeks out her face and their eyes briefly connect, his own full of concern. "You've been through a lot, Coco" he says with a sigh. "I'm guessing things aren't making much sense right now. I don't think there was any sinister plot to set you up though obviously Junko's conduct was questionable."
He turns to the youngest teen now, explaining himself further. "I wasn't angry at you for doing what you could to win. We all push ourselves and our opponents to their limit. It was more the way you mocked her, like you took pleasure in her pain. It sickened me to my stomach. It seemed, well...evil."
This is the second time he's said such a thing about someone he's encountered since joining the New Fighting Generation and it didn't feel any easier this time. On the previous occasion the word had been spoken to Honoka when discussing the force of nature that is Frost sponsor Juri.
Is this a fair judgement of the girl's actions? She certainly seems contrite as she stands before them now, shy and shamefaced and lacking in confidence. At least that's his perception. Who really knows what's going on inside her head?
Like a true millennial, Coco seems to get distracted by her phone as the other two girls left in the room are reacting to her words. Her tapping is much more sluggish than it normally would be, thanks to the wrappings around her hands and the generally ginger touch she takes. It's about this time that the nurse finally comes barging brusquely into the room.
"Ah, hello, Miss Coalbridge. I see you've got a lot of visitors today! Oh, Chevy! It's so lovely to meet you! And Junko, too. Here, I'll just take those for you."
The man reaches out to remove the bouquet from Chevy's clutches, turning around to place it on top of a shelf across from the foot of the bed.
"Here we go, now Constance will be able to see it first thing whenever she wakes up. Was there something you needed, Connie?"
Constance looks increasingly aggrieved by the nurse's demeanour and terms of address, fingers wanting to curl involuntarily into fists but not quite managing it. She adopts a formal tone and a fake smile.
"Oh, I was just wanting to report an intense pain in my backside, but it's gone now, actually."
The nurse looks somewhere between amused and bemused by the comment. "Well, I'd say that we could up the drip a little, but it seems like you might actually need it turning down a tad. We get this a lot with people on pain meds." The last part is a little bit quieter and directed mainly at the other three in the room.
"Oh, I'm quite lucid, babes. My pain number's been creeping up a bit this morning, though, so I'm round about a seven, if you want to crank it a bit."
"I'll just have a word with Doctor Davies. We can check if there's any ongoing bowel issue while we're at it," the nurse says as he starts for the door.
"Thanks, no, nevermind," Coco says with a faint air of exasperation. "I'm quite alright. Go on, I'll ring again if there's a problem."
The nurse pulls a face and shrugs his shoulders before heading back for the door.
With all that dealt with, Coco turns her attention back to the others. She holds up her phone, which has a bit of footage from FightTube loaded up on it. It shows a shot of the arena floor full of smoke and debris from the destroyed ring.
"Observe, Exhibit Number One."
It seems that the cameras were recording the after-action, and here, there's one focused on Chevy. The video is a bit hazy, what with all the smoke, but the sound picks up well enough.
==*== FOOTAGE: EXHIBIT #1 ==*==
"Hey, congratulations on your win, Junko!"
Chevy glances over at Hawksley -- estimating that he'd probably notice her blue-eyed gaze more than the firebrand. She flashes him a half-smile -- with a tinge of apology. She casts her voice to him -- a little more quietly. "Y'all take good care of 'er, okay? Lemme know how she's doin'..."
The hayseed may not be on the greatest terms with Coco, but she still has some concern for her well-being. Enough that... well, she turns her attention back to Junko. She may have shed some clothes -- but she does sound like she's getting a bit big for those britches. The battle's over -- the best she can do is to help convince Junko to take a break.
"C'mon, girl, let's mozy on outta here. I think you done earned yourself a slice of strawberry shortcake, at the very least...!" She smiles, hoping that the emotion carries through her voice even if Junko can't see her face. "My treat."
==*== END FOOTAGE ==*==
Coco stops the footage there, setting the phone down on her bedside table and closing her eyes.
"Ladies and gentleman of the jury, I put it to you that one Chevelle Beaumont did conspire with her mate Daidouji Junko to have my face irreparably damaged in order to ruin what she perceived as the only thing keeping Hawksley Moore from leaving me to get with her: my supreme hotness. So no, I don't have any problem with Junko, but babes, your bargaining needs work. You could have at least asked for the whole cake."
The poise of her recitation suggests that she's been considering this speech for some time.
"I rest my case."
Chevy can't really... object to what Hawksley is saying. She'd gone back to watch the footage several times since then, and she finds herself nodding in agreement.
Though, before she can say anything in regards to that, there's a nurse working his way in. She smiles and bows her head to him in greeting, handing over the flowers as need be.
And then comes the presentation of evidence. She sighs and rolls her eyes as Coco plays back the scene -- she's been over it more than enough times to know every slip-up by heart, by now. Though, once that's done, she remembers she needs to be acting her age, and draws in her breath. It may take the others a moment or two to notice, Junko ought to be able to tell that the air outside her has chilled about ten degrees F.
"Uh, objection?" she states, when she has the turn to speak again. "Bless your heart, Coco, you done got yourself all worked up over this."
Resting one hand on her hip, she trades the attitude for a sincere, heartfelt apology. "I'm sorry for not jumpin' up there -sooner- to put a stop to it. It was a good fight, it didn't click that you mighta been hurt -- because you'd been dang near invincible in every other fight I done watched -- but that's on me. You wanna blame someone, fine. Guilty of that."
But then she points her finger towards Coco's cellphone. "But that? That's a girl who's gone out of control. Pardon me, Hawksley, but you don't fight fire with fire -- an' it looked like you was about two shakes from goin' nukular."
Chevy hooks her thumbs into her shorts pockets. "So that was me congratulatin' a teamie on her -first win-. I cain't blame you for forgettin' what a rush that is. But it'll give you a big head if y'ain't careful. Like you -saw-."
She draws in her breath. A fresh wave of frost crystals ripples outward.
"I ain't tryin' to call anyone out here. I'm just sayin', if anyone's got a better way to calm down than a slice of cake, I'd love to hear it."
She tilts her head towards her miko companion. "I ain't gonna talk over Junko though. Suffice to say -- there's a big story there you ain't hearin'. And I cain't rightly blame her if she don't wanna share it."
She glances over to Junko. "You said your peace, Daidoji-san. It's fine if you wanna keep it to y'self."
She pauses, looking back to Coco -- realizing she hasn't addressed the core accusation yet.
"But naw. I ain't here to hurt you now, Coco,, and I didn't want to then. You're good folk." She clears her throat. "Usually."
Junko finds herself being pulled in three different directions at once as everyone chips in to give their two cents on what went down. Seems like there are a lot of different opinions about the outcome of that fight.
The Irishman draws her gaze first. To her surprise, he seems to be against the idea that she had intentionally tried to bring permanent harm to Coco. When he had rushed her up on the stage Hawksley had seemed just about ready to square off. Then again, that was -after- she had allowed the hatred flowing through her to pour out of her mouth instead of her flames.
The miko's head lowers in shame as he more or less points out the same thing. She knows what she did was wrong. Under normal circumstances, she would never have spoken that way about anyone without a very good reason. Even with a good reason, she'd probably have found a more diplomatic way to say it. She was raised better than that and she knows it.
But circumstances have not been normal for a very long time in her life. The last five years have changed her in ways that she is still learning about. Without much human contact to draw experience from the NFG has challenged the girl just as much socially as it has physically. There are reasons for that, of course, the details of which only one person in this room is privy to.
Before she can think of anything to say in response, the miko finds herself being crowded further into the room by the arrival of the nurse. A momentary look of panic takes over her face as the man tries to edge past her. Not knowing what else to do, Junko presses herself up against the water-bender in order to make room for the unwitting orderly before he accidentally burns himself by brushing up against her. At least she knows Chevy can withstand the heat.
Once the awkward exchange with the nurse sees him shuffling back out of the room, Junko gives her friend some space again and turns to regard the injured girl. She can't see the display on Coco's phone re-enacting the tail end of their match but the sound of Chevy's electronically warped voice is easy enough to identify. This must be a recording of the fight then.
Not quite sure what point Coco is driving at, the priestess just watches silently until the footage stops. It isn't until her former opponent lays out her insane conspiracy claims that it finally sinks in what she's implying.
Junko's eyes go wide in surprise, her mouth hanging slightly open in a silent stupor at the sheer lunacy of that idea. Chevy had barely even spoken to her about Coco before the fight. Even if she had, the very idea that someone like her would even suggest such a thing is complete nonsense. And while that accusation is rouse her ire, the accusation that she, the scion of the Daidoji clan, would dare conspire in such a dishonorable fashion for the reward of a mere piece of sweet bread is... -infuriating-!
Close as she is to the water wizard, Chevy would be the first to notice the sudden shift in temperature as her own aura of wintry cold starts to rapidly turn the other direction. Junko's jaw clenches as her eyes start to glow, her tiny fists balling up in fury at her sides. It's only the farm girl's quick attempt to explain matters that keeps Junko from losing her temper.
By the time Chevy turns to glance her way again, the miko's contrite look of shame has morphed into a mask of barely restrained fury. She struggles to fight back against the tide of anger that having her honor questioned in such a blatant manner has stirred up, but the corrupt hatred of the demon flows through her veins like a drug, permeating her down to the core.
"You..." the small girl hisses, her voice low and dangerous. "You dare...?!"
The voice is unmistakable. A growly rumbly gravely engine of a voice that somehow manages to vibrate walls even when deliberately trying to be quiet. This is a hospital after all. He's got some sense.
"Whaddya mean this isn't Section C10! I got told to go to Section A14 and then down the hall to Section B88 and then double back to E92 and take the escalator up to C11!}
"Okay maybe not that much sense after all.
"Miss Coalbridge is in A44."
"Keep it down you lunkhead! This isn't a Monster Truck Derby! We have patients here! Shortcut your way through this hallway and don't let me catch you causing trouble!"
And so the conversation goes. The gigantic hallway filling Superhuman Hot-Rodder, Abigail, looming over a nervous nurse and a petite but defiant head nurse who is wagging her finger and shaking her fist at him as he hunches back away from her fury.
Mad Gear and hospitals don't mix. They just respawn on the streets or something, as the legends go.. So he's not exactly comfortable here..
"Fine, fine! I'll keep it down. What you wan't me to whisper or something?? Sheesh!"
With that he turns, following her pointed gesture to begin to step down towards the hallway leading towards the volatile gathering To his credit - he actually considered the fact that he was going to a hospital and cleaned up his usual oil and grease stains and has managed to shake that perpetual Scrap Yard like smell of metal and engines off of him. Still has the deathmetal make up on which crinkles on his scowling bearded visage as he prowls his gigantic figure closer and closer...
Having previously met this male nurse, Hawksley is aware he's an avid New Fighting Generation fan. He already provided him with a selfie and signed photograph when he was visiting yesterday and he wouldn't be surprised if by the time Chevy and Junko leave the building, they have had the same requested of them. Whilst the nurse busies about sorting the bouquet, the Irishman listens to the interactions between he and Coco, finding himself flinching on a few occasions. When he finally leaves the room, Hawksley breathes a sigh of relief but his relaxing comes far too soon.
It appears the court of Constance Coalbridge is now in session and she's ready to state her case. Squinting at the screen as the post fight footage plays, Hawksley flashes back to Sunday afternoon and the aftermath of the action. He sees the prone form of the purple haired posh girl on the ground, whilst himself, Chevy and Junko surround her.
The Southern girl's offer of a sweet treat to her team mate had jarred with him at the time but he never suspected she had a more sinister motive. He figured she was trying to avoid upsetting the apple cart and keep things as calm as possible, albeit in a clunky way, from his point of view. Of course the Cork lad has no clue that the two teens had previously connected in this way and when Chevy asks for alernative approaches, he honestly has none to suggest.
What Coco is accusing Chevy of is horrific and hateful. How could she think that Chevy would be capable of such a thing? "Jesus, Coco. This is getting out of hand now" he pleads. "Why the feck would Chevy want to sink that low? What you're claiming is something that's not only criminal but also cruel and cold. Does that really make sense for the girl you've got to know? Okay, so you two aren't the best of buddies but bloody hell."
He feels goosebumps start to form on his forearms and he reaches for his Metro City sweater to pull it over his head. "If you do wanna share anything with us, I'd be happy to listen, Junko. Hell, it might get me to understand what the feck got into you. Not that you really owe me anything but perhaps it could help Coco."
Hawksley follows his words with a soft smile that soon slips from his face as he recognises the rage that's returned to Junko's small form. "I mean the lass does have a point, Coco. I like cake as much as the next man but who's gonna maim someone for a slice?" He starts to mumble before tugging off his sweater again. There must be something wrong with the heating system in this hospital. The temperature is all over the damn place.
At the sound of Abigail's voice, the Blaze brawler fixes his focus there. He can make out who it is from down the corridor. It seems that Constance Coalbridge could be about to get another visitor and where the feck is he gonna fit?
Coco sniffs as Chevy raises her objection, then continues on with her explanation of the events on the recording. The bed-ridden Brit throws herself into another coughing snit with her derision.
When she finally recovers with the aid of yet another glass of water, she retorts. "See, the problem is, Chevy, that's all exactly what I would say if I were you and I'd done exactly what I said you've done. And we both know you're not anymore above taking a free shot than I am. Admit it, you were wanting to celebrate a win for yourself. Also, a Xanax works better. And as for the 'big story,' I'm a psychic. I saw it. And you knew about it, and Team Thunder still lets her fight anyway. So either you didn't tell them because it was part of your plan, or they knew and they let it happen."
She draws in an angry breath.
"And after my conversation with Ariastra, I wouldn't put that past them in the slightest."
She doesn't need the heat to be aware of Junko's anger levels rising nearby. She turns her attention in that direction.
"What is it, Daidouji-san? Are you objecting to the notion that you could in your sheltered naivete be convinced to help your friend win the affections of the bloke she fancies for a slice of shortcake? Would you prefer the narrative where you did what you did for no reason at all, and that it's nobody's fault but your own? Or maybe you're just going to go with the Thunder party line, which is that I deserved it?"
She turns toward Hawksley, her breathing becoming increasingly ragged.
"Lucky, to be honest, it hardly even matters. Whichever way you slice a shit cake, it's still shit. Somebody's fucked up -"
She's interrupted by a rumbling sound approaching, then carries on:
"- and if nobody is going to admit it, then I'm going to -"
She's cut short by the shaking room once more, causing her to take a consternated look.
"- demand an inquiry into the entire en eff - seriously, is somebody driving a motor in here?"
Chevy sweeps her ice-cold hand close to Junko's shoulder. Not touching her -- but keeping close so that any contact she might seek to bring wouldn't feel so... sudden. Or alarming. Because she feels like... it's just going downhill from here.
The hayseed gasps, as Coco quickly and efficiently spells out her worldview as plainly as she can. The levels of accusation and projection are -completely- off the charts, and it shows with each brutal denial of... well, common sense.
"-Xanax?- That's a drug, right? Is that what you've been poppin' for all these insane theories to actually make sense? That you even believe -half- the nonsense tumblin' out of your mouth is what scares me the most, Coco."
Chevy huffs. She feels the temperature spike around Junko. She may not know the shape that Junko's answer will take yet, but with the air starting to ripple in Junko's vicinity, it won't be long before Chevy finally plants an ice-cold hand on her shoulder.
Once Junko has a chance to react, Chevy clears her throat. The universal sign for 'I have something to say.'
"Constance Coalbridge, I'm only gonna tell you this once." She keeps her tone level -- mindful of the agitation in the room. She's the water-type, she's got to keep her cool.
"Time and time again, people've give up literal -days- of their personal time, all so you can just reach back an' -spit- in our faces. You keep this up an' you're gonna die old and alone at thirty-two, and not even Amazon's gonna deliver to you any more 'cause they're gonna be sick of your -shit-."
She lets her breath out -- ice crystals sprinkle onto the floor a moment later.
And with that, she gives Junko's shoulder a small pat.
"C'mon, Junko, let's go. You said you're sorry. If you wanna talk to Hawksley -- as he's the only one with a workin' set of ears -- let's bring this out in the hall."
"Get some rest, Coco. Don't blow another fuse tryin' to figure out what -you- woulda done in my shoes.
She steps out of the room, hoping to encourage Junko to join her -- just as Abigail appears.
"Hey Mr Abigail. We're just on our way out." She offers an exasperated smile -- silently twirling her index finger around her temple, now that she's safely out of the patient's eyeshot.
"Heeeeeey.. Hawksley!" Abigail's resonate voice vibrates up and down the hall despite his previous promise to 'keep it down'. His good cheer is not so easily contained however as he sees the irish brawler and levels the weight of his full attention on him. "How ya doin'?" He spreads his massive arms to the side as he greets the irishman but then lets them drop. More of a 'Hey what's up' sort of movement as opposed to him coming in for the hug. He then notes the brawler's struggles with his sweater and it's then that he himself takes into consideration the rapid changes in temperature that seem to be taking place the closer he's drawn to the entrance to Coco's room and where the burly fiery boxer stands.
"Whose in there--and whose messin' with the thermostat!" His deep resonate voice at its most 'dad' voice possible as he demands an answer to the varying temperature here.!"
He slows his approach versus just barging right into the room and instead begins to learn forward to peer past Hawksley into it. After all, not even the legendary Mad Gear Titan can simply command space to exist that does not exist -- well he could but it'd involve commanding with his fists and walls coming down and - again - hospital. Thus he's forced he's to concede to the fact that there are others dominating the major space in the room.
He simply expects to be given priority.
"Who in here.....?" he begins only to find his words ripped from his mouth as he sees the answer to his question for himself as Chevy exits the room and his eyes widen. Time seems to freeze for him. He sees Coco of course, behind the other two girls. He came to see her and 'cheer her up', after all, with news of him promising to visit violence upon the NFG organizers and any of Team Thunder that look in his direction. Bodyguards included. He heard there was a minotaur following Junko around which means that as far as he's concerned, steak's back on the menu.
But actually -seeing- Team Thunder present? Well that wasn't on the agenda or planned for. The very culprit that helped trigger his rage is standing -right there-....but not even that is what fully commands his attention:
It's Chevy. It seems that in his furious Fighttube message and threat..he neglected to remember that Chevy is on Team Thunder and seeing her here has now reminded him of this fact. He does not want to hurt Chevy. This is an issue. So he just stares at her and as she greets him so cheerfully it suddenly dawns on him.
She hasn't even seen the video yet.
"Wha....what..." he stammers before finally managing to belt out, "What're -you- two doin' here??" He blinks, so utterly thrown off he's forgotten that he was angry about it all until a few more secondds pass and he truly takes note of Junko, "What the...what's -she- doin' here?? Aint this place got security?!"
To Coco's fortune, the convoluted nonsense spilling out of her mouth actually ends up just confusing the miko more than it makes her angry.
As a new-comer to this giant clusterfuck of a relationship web she has absolutely no idea what's going on between her new friend and the Team Frost duo. Junko had never even heard of Hawksley until he rushed to the Brit's rescue the night of their match. And Coco herself was little more than a name until they introduced themselves in the ring. Whatever rivalry or competition they have going on amongst themselves, she isn't privy to it.
However, even her short time spent with Chevy has convinced the girl that any accusation of dishonorable intentions must be an outright lie. No one who would take the time and effort to reach out to a walking disaster like herself could harbor an evil bone in their body. The very idea that the water-bender had risked her life just to dupe the priestess into taking a shot at someone she didn't even know was the hayseed's enemy is beyond absurd.
The sudden reassuring presence of Chevy's cold hand at her shoulder only barely manages to defuse the explosive outburst welling up inside of the miko's chest. Her head whips sideways at the cold touch with a snarl, that furious glare boring into her teammate for a few heated seconds. When she realizes that the hate welling up inside of her has latched onto a new entirely undeserved target, however, she manages to wrest control back at the last second.
Still angry, the priestess begrudgingly lowers her head and glowers at the floor again. Whatever she was going to say it would do nothing but make matters worse. That's all she good at doing, stirring up strife and chaos. Chevy's pointed words are surprisingly harsh but still delivered in a level-headed manner. In many regards, they probably hit a lot harder for that quality of cold composure than whatever pointed retort she had planned to unleash.
Despite the cue to leave, Junko remains where she is, stubbornly unwilling to just walk away without getting at least a few words out. Not only has her own honor been slighted but that of her only friend who did nothing wrong save to be associated with the calamity that is her existence. She can't just let that slide unanswered.
"At this moment, I would -prefer- the narrative where I burned you into a pile of smoldering ash up on that stage."
The miko's voice is soft and unusually calm - her attempt to mimic Chevy's composed and mature attitude. But all it ends up doing is making her sound threatening and dangerous. Her head lifts enough to fix Coco with her hellish gaze, her eyes aglow like twin circles of heated iron.
"But what I want and what is true are rarely one and the same. Because you are correct - what I did to you was entirely my choice, Coco-san. I am a dangerous and often uncontrolled flame of destruction. I hurt people. Sometimes, I even enjoy it."
Closing her eyes slowly, Junko sighs and crosses her arms over her chest. Most of her anger has been diffused by the calming presence of her friend and the rest is just irritation now at the situation that has resulted from a misunderstanding.
"However, know this - I swear on my honor that Chevy-san gave no such order to harm you. In fact, I had no intention of inflicting the amount of injury upon you that I did. I had hoped that my ability to control my temper was such that I could keep the worst elements of myself in check. I was wrong and you suffered for that."
The miko bends slightly at the waist, briefly bowing to Coco without uncrossing her arms. She's already given the battered girl a proper apology and it was clearly undeserved. This token gesture is all the courtesy Junko can muster up this time.
"I am sorry. If you want to hate someone, hate me. I will take all of your scorn without complaint."
She turns her back on the room and opens her eyes, whispering one final condemnation of herself as she stalks out into the hallway.
"Kami know I deserve it and more."
Rejoining Chevy outside of the hospital room, the miko stares pointedly at the floor in brooding silence. She's done with this place. It was a mistake to come here. Even when Abigail's monstrous form lumbers into view, the small girl ignores him, though her fists slowly clench at her sides in a subtle indication that any attempt to pester her at this point is likely to result in her finally losing her temper.
"You're a psychic too? Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I've heard it all now" Hawksley exclaims. "What exactly did you see with these psychic powers, Coco?" he questions. "Why don't you share it with us all. We can have a good old laugh at your latest conspiracy theory."
When she looks at him he stares back. "I agree it's a total shit show and if there's been negligence of some sort then it needs sorting. Do you think they're all sat around in The Thunderdome plotting your damage and demise though? I'm not buying it. I've been to the place and it's mostly just friendship and cookies."
It's obvious that Chevy has reached her limit for now. Her words to Coco are cutting and full of the frustration she feels. It's probably a smart move that she and Junko make their exit from the volatile space. "I'll catch you two some other time" he suggests when Chevy mentions chatting to Junko in the hall. The Irishman has no intention of leaving Coco in the lurch. He's scared for the state of both her body and mind.
He's actually feeling pretty desperate right now so the distraction of Abigail is desirable. "Hey yourself, fella" he greets the gigantic guy with a grin. "Good of you to come out and see Coco Pops. It's grand for her to have support from a sponsor."
He's a little startled by the enquiry regarding his own welfare so he answers with a simple "Ah you know. I'm getting by." It's very rare for the man to answer with any response other than grand, so it may seem out of the ordinary. "How about yourself? I'm sorry your whole team got wiped out of the contest."
Hawksley moves closer to the window, sitting down on one of the chairs by it, to allow some extra standing room. "The lasses came to check on Coco and apologise. They weren't after attacking her, so they weren't."
Junko's parting words hopefully clear things up for Coco as to Chevy's lack of involvement in her extreme match violence. When she says she enjoys hurting people, perhaps some people would find this chilling but he'd be a liar if he claimed he didn't feel the same at times. The Irish inferno doesn't think he's ever lost control to the extent the miko did but who's to say it couldn't happen when caught up in the thrill of a fight? Besides, she does seem regretful of how far it went.
"There is nothing insane about anything I've said! I've provided actual evidence, and all you can do is claim I'm crazy! Do you know what you're doing when your defense is to undermine someone's mental credibility? We have a word for that." Strangely, Coco's upset doesn't seem to be abated by the implication that she's off her head on drugs.
Then, Chevy starts talking about giving up days of personal time.
"That's a load of rubbish. I have never spat in anyone's face. Spitting is for poor and uneducated people who otherwise can't express themselves. Don't blame me just because you botched this so-called well-wishing just as badly as you botched that so-called rescue. Don't expect me to thank you for swooping in when I'm vulnerable to do more damage."
Her throat catches, and the wheezing between her words is wet.
"I've had my absolute fill of the lot of you. You're not my friends and you're not my family, so stop acting like you fucking know me."
Abigail's arrival cannot go ignored by the Brit, regardless of the vitriol seething out of her veins. It's the first person that she actually looks somewhat happy to see out of those who've arrived in the room.
"It's okay, Abi. They're just leaving. It's not as if they would try to murder me in my hospital bed. There's no plausible deniability, like when you're in a professional fight. I'm glad you're here, though. I feel much safer."
Coco turns her attention to Junko. She allows her to speak, her expression scornful. Once she's finished, Coco reaches for her water cup. "Another Team Thunder death threat. Time for a drink."
She chokes on the liquid when Hawksley starts expressing incredulity at her psychic powers and makes his crack about laughing at her latest conspiracy theory. She puts the cup back down and sits up, pressing a hand against her chest through her hospital gown. Once she's finally managed to clear her throat, she speaks up, more calmly this time, and more firmly, making eye contact with no one.
"Abigail, would you please do me a favour and escort everyone to the exit? I didn't invite any of them in."
She gives an indicative look toward the backs of Chevy and Junko, then finally to Hawksley, before looking back at the muscle mountain.
Chevy narrows her eyes as Coco answers each and everything she has to say... in a completely different direction than she's got a retort for. She's familiar with the concept of gaslighting, but vocabulary isn't one of her strengths. And neither is... dealing with Coco completely and (presumably) willfully misinterpreting the core of her meaning.
She'd already delivered the hard truth she'd -wanted- to convey though. And even with the strength of Coco's rebuttal, it feels just as opportunistic as delivering a kick to a downed opponent to continue debating someone (presumably) hopped up on morphine.
When she's implored to stop acting like she knows her, Chevy responds with an ambivalent shrug. "Yuh-huh. Made -that- mistake too many times."
If it weren't obvious to Abigail where the hot and cold were coming from, it might be made moreso as the frostbringer and the firestarter walk past him. She does, though, slow down once Abigail starts asking about Junko as if she -weren't- standing right here in front of him.
"Please, Mr Abigail, just... don't."
She flashes a half-smile -- obviously the -phrasing- could be better, as she doesn't want to presume to give a command to someone much, much taller and bigger than her. But it should be obvious from the weariness on the hayseed's face that she's ... had about enough of this, too.
"We tried to apologize. It just ain't takin'."
She turns back, as Junko says her piece and makes her way out as well. She... frowns, slightly, at the miko's concession that she might -enjoy- hurting other people -- but passions are flaring hot, and Junko's doing a -remarkable- job, considering.
As Hawksley calls out a farewell, she tosses her hand into the doorway to where he can see it. "Seeya around, Hawskley!" As much as she'd want to remain neutral, she can't help but inject some saccharine into her tone, considering who's listening.
But then... well. She barely catches Coco's parting statement, barely. She assumes it's just a restatement of kicking her and Junko out of the room -- which puzzles her for a moment, as she's already left. Maybe she wants him to escort the pair down the hall too?
"Pfft, whatever..." she grouses to herself, turning to Junko. She lets out a sigh; a nice icy breeze follows afterwards.
A passing nurse shivers, wrapping her arms around her from the chill.
Chevy feels some regret at that, but leans closer to Junko, keeping her voice low.
"You did good, Daidoji-san -- I'm proud of you."
The hayseed smiles, staying close. She'd walk -- if Junko wants to -- but she's not in any particular rush now that the pair has left the room and made it out of direct earshot.
"Thanks for comin' with me. I s'pose I shoulda warned you about her... she's..."
She draws her breath in, considering her words for a moment.
She settles for shaking her head, letting out a sigh, and adding with a bittersweet smile:
"Bless her heart."
Junko losing her temper and causing a conflagration in the middle of a hospital hallway right outside of the room of his team member that she put in here in the first place is -exactly- the sort of excuse the Mad Gear Chief would be looking for -- and he doesn't need much of an excuse as it stands the way he's looking at it. however he also has -some- degree of restraint as well and though it looks like he wants to reach right for her head with one of his engine block sized hands ... he simply drums fingers bigger then gigantic polish sausages against the side of his massive leg and eyes Junko with a scathing baleful look. If the temperature in the area raises more it is not because of her.. One can actually see steam starting to rise off of Abigail's body and his Mad Gear print shirt beginning to strain as a fumes and the chill provided by Chevy seems to begin rolling off of him as his internal temperature rises and one can almost imagine it going far, far over the redline.
"When he hears Junko's words and truly processes what's been said... his eyes widen and then narrow, "You lucky I don't reach for your head and twist it right off .. But since I'm such a gentleman I'll count th'hospistal 'ere as neutral safe territory, eh?" He's a polite canadian after all.
He then snaps his attention to Chevy, processing her words to him. His deep voice is direct, firm and commanding as he belts out: "You wait just a second."
Maybe they'll keep walking maybe they'll stop but there's no escaping his big voice. "You two came t'apologize? What do you two think this is? What kinda world d'you two think you've stepped into?"
He jabs a thumb at Junko "She shouldn't even be -in- this tournament with that much lack of oversight. As bad as Zarine and Laurel are in their matches they would -never- push for an unsportsmanlike conduct and then revel in it and then be left uncontrolled afterwards to do it again. What've your sponsors been doing? Nothing from the sound of it. Certainly not gettin' you ready for what the post NFG's gonna be liek. Walked-right- into the NFG organizers traps for you. Settin' you up for maxinium ratings and drama. They -know- this girl's a tickin' timebomb. Now they got what they want and you got busted relationships. Yer sponsors are morons. "
He takes a deep breath and glances back into the room and reaches a massive hand out to gesture for Hawksley to come out of the room, "Let's go Hawksley. You too."
He knows the ladies were leaving anyway but he has every intention on following them out but there's a pause as he waits to see if the irishman will adhere to Coco's wishes.
"...Damn shame.." he rumbles.
This has all gone horribly wrong.
When she had come back to her sense at the end of her match against Coco, the miko had been horrified by the things she had said and done. Granted, she's been responsible for far worse things in the past but it had been her hope that this new outlook on life would allow her to move away from that. She had been trying so hard to behave herself, to push the twisted influence of her headmate down into some deep dark recess of her mind. She had thought the silence of Suzaku was an indicator that she might actually have bested the demon by having its treacherous plans dragged out into the light during the encounter with Rei.
Now she knows better. The demon bird didn't interfere because it didn't have to. Its poisonous presence has been with her so long that she can hardly separate her own thoughts from those twisted by that foul hatred. It hardly takes much of anything to set her off any more. Little things like too much ambient noise or someone making a harmless off-hand remark.
After the shitshow that she just experienced, even Chevy's calming voice grates at her nerves. Being complimented and reassured like she's some sort of child makes her brow furrow with anger. She has to fight to keep from grinding her teeth in frustration as everyone around her talks over her head, acting like she isn't standing right there to speak for herself. Accusations and reassurances start to blend together into a white static that grinds against the tenuous threads of her already frayed patience.
Throwing the aggravated bellowing of the hulking roadster into that cauldron of volatile emotions seems set to see it quickly boil over. The miko's fists clench until blood starts to drip from her knuckles, her unkempt nails biting into the pale flesh of her palms. A wave of heat ripples off the small girl intense enough to make the air shimmer in the hallways with the sudden change as Chevy's frosty aura is utterly drowned out.
Whirling around to face Team Frost's giant mentor, Junko tilts her head up to fix him with her furious glare, seemingly oblivious to the sheer gulf in size and mass between them. The blazing orbs of her eyes swirl like churning lava lamps, small windows into the molten fury threatening to erupt from within. Taking an aggressive step forward, the Daidoji scion stomps her foot on the polished tile floor sending a small but potent burst of scarlet flame out in all directions.
Up until now, Junko has never once raised her voice. Even the many times when she's lost her temper in the past, during her fights or when upset during arguments, she's always kept her voice low and quiet, almost cloud-like in its wispy gentleness. The girl was apparently hiding a set of exceptional lungs behind that demure facade because the sheer forcefulness of her scream is enough to rattle the window in Coco's room.
"Shut... shut up! All of you!"
Turning to glare at Chevy, the girl waves a hand dismissively in her direction. Of all the people here, she is the least deserving of scorn. And yet, in her rage, the priestess can hardly distinguish friend from foe.
"Keep your damn pity! I don't need your approval!"
Her head whips back to Abigail and she jams a pale bloody finger up at his face.
"Or yours! What do you know about me?! Nothing!"
Her lip peels back in a snarl as she squares off with the former criminal, scarlet flame dancing in a faint nimbus around her hands as they ball up at her sides.
"You wish to slay me, gaijin? Do it. DO IT!"
Her eyes narrow in challenge, her expression seemingly that of amusement at the idea of him actually following through on the threat. Her voice drops low and quiet in stark juxtaposition to her previous words.
"You have no idea the calamity you will birth into this world if you try!"
Hawksley seems hurt as Coco claims none of them are her friends. Does that include him too? If so, then perhaps he deserves it on some level. He's hardly handled himself smoothly in this disastrous debacle. He's mostly just confused about Coco's claims but then she has been through a hellish experience by anyone's standards.
His dark eyes shift to Abigail. "It's alright, I can make my own way out, fella."
Then he turns to the purple haired patient. "I'll be back tomorrow" he tells her.
Whether he will actually be welcomed is another matter.
Before he can actually get on his merry way though, Junko decides she can't take any more of the drama. First comes the blood, then comes the heat, then comes the yelling. The Irishman is used to loud voices. He grew up in a house with six kids and he spends most of his leisure time in busy bars. He is surprised to hear it coming from the tortured teen though. Is she violent? Yes. Noisy? Not in his experience so far.
The sentiment she expresses, he can't really disagree with. Maybe they should all just shut the feck up with their petty points and stupid squabbles. Coco is supposed to be convalescing. This stress can't be doing her any good and it's surely not too grand for the rest of them.
"Come on now, everyone" he tries to intervene. "Let's leave Coco with Abigail and take this party elsewhere."
The only other place he wants to go, other than on the first flight back to Cork, is somewhere with a bar stool and a barrel full of booze.
Coco's own heat levels go up when she overhears Chevy saying that they tried to apologize, that it just isn't taking.
Then she makes what is patently obvious to a paranoid Coco as a dig at her by addressing Hawksley in that voce saccharino.
Her voice calls out as the group retreat from the room.
"And what did you bloody well /expect/? That I'd say 'yeah, alright mate, I didn't need my face anyway?' Why would I want to ever see her again?! Face it, it doesn't bloody matter whether you put me here on purpose. Either way, you only came here to make yourselves feel better at my expense! And yet she gets a free pass for saying I deserved to be burned to ash?! How does it feel knowing your little friendship club are the bad guys?!"
Her voice is breaking, not just because she's overdoing it under nasty physical strain, but because she's actually started to cry. Apparently her tear ducts survived the fires of Junko, at least.
But by that point they're out in the hall, out of Coco's earshot as they talk amongst themselves. She does hear Abigail's speech, because it's Abigail and he's not using his inside voice. At least the sponsor's sentiments are similar to her own. In fact, she's more or less ready to forgive him for smashing her first trailer. It seems that she's put herself in such low regard with everyone that the only person actually willing to stand up for her is a reformed career criminal. Even Hawksley, who'd defended her from Ariastra's abuse, has written her off as a crackpot by now.
"As long as you don't invite anyone else, Lucky."
She has a gut-wrenching feeling that this is going to be another Kickgate situation all over again. Except, she was the one who was clearly wronged this time. How has it turned into this?
With the others out of the room, she realises that she doesn't want to end up incommunicado again. She's sure this would have gone better if she'd just discussed her theory privately with Hawksley.
She shouts after him as he heads for the door, "In fact, I'll call -"
Then, she hears Junko blowing up and feels the window in her room rattling. She lets out a sinking exhalation.
"Nobody slay anybody!" she shouts as she starts hammering on the nurse's call button. "This is a hospital, and now is not the time for settling the score! Let them go have their shortcake in peace!"
Standing beside Junko in the hall, Chevy can nonetheless hear everything Coco is shouting out through the open doorway. She grits her teeth, continuing to walk down the hallway. She's mostly okay with the prattle, until Coco suggests that Chevy and Junko are only here to make themselves feel better. After the rollercoaster of Coco's wild, off-base assertions, having something even that -close- to the truth just stabs her right in the heart.
The hayseed to look down, screwing her eyes shut.
"Lord, I wish I were -half- the schemer she thinks I am..." she mutters, not wanting to upset the hospital floor any more than it already is.
But then... Abigail ups the ante. When he says to wait just a second, she stops in her tracks. When he asks what kind of world they stepped into, Chevy turns on her heel. She raises an eyebrow, an exasperated expression on her face.
"Now, I don't mean no disrespect, Mr Abigail, I appreciate all you've done for me -- but if it warn't for Princess Posh muckin' it all up, things were goin' just fine...!"
Abigail's not finished though. And as he talks, it's not just his towering presence that goes over her head -- but the talk about the sponsors and tickin' timebombs and maximum ratings and ... traps? She just stares back at him in utter bewilderment.
Until he mentions that her sponsors... are -morons-.
And that lights a fuse. Tears start to form in the corners of her eyes, but she staves them off by pivoting into a near rage.
"So hold on now. Hold -on- now, Mr Abigail. Where were -you- that night? I didn't see -you- down there in the ring trying to settle the peace. It warn't till you got up there on FightTube all fire an' brimstone that I even had half a clue you were even standin' by Miss Coco. You wanna talk about -sponsors- bein'..."
She draws in her breath. A fresh ring of frost forms around her on the floor. Sharp, craggy projections of ice erupt upwards, forming a barrier around her. It's impressive in its own right -- but Chevy hardly even seems to notice.
Huffing, she cuts off her own tirade. "... Y'know, forget it! We're all angry here, and--"
A fresh wave of blistering heat crashes into her backside, melting the icicle peaks behind her into puddles of water, and reducing the ones in front into brittle husks.
Chevy grits her teeth, and clenches her fists -- and a wave of frosty energy fights back against the heatwave. She whirls back to face Junko -- and nearly -slips- on the flash-frozen puddle that was left for herself, shaving the surface into a snow-cone-like mess. Her sliding foot is halted by a brittle icicle, which shears off in the process, allowing her to keep her ground.
The hayseed's focus remains on Junko though, as she throws her hands out to either side, willfully turning her back on the big man she'd just been angry with. Here -- she keeps her determined, blue-eyed stare intent on Junko -- frost swirling from her in pulsing waves. She halts in place, listening to Junko's defiant words.
Tension is much, -much- too high, she realizes. The only thing to cut the tension... is hearing Abigail and Hawksley announcing a departure.
"I'm real sorry, y'all," she states, hoping her voice carries over her shoulder. She still isn't wanting to add much noise to the tumult on the hospital floor.
You wish to slay me?
Nobody slay anybody!
Chevy gasps in surprise, shoulders pitching forward.
She takes in her breath, steeling herself.
Tears freeze, at the corners of her eyes.
For once, Coco's said something she agrees with.
"What she said."
Chevy grimaces. And takes one step forward, her shoe crunching into roughly-formed frost.
"We're leaving now."
Her tone is unrelenting, committed. If the waterbender has to fight Junko to get everyone to safety... that's just what it's gonna have to be. But she'd be... more content with Junko falling into line as she walks for the exit.
"Girl please." snaps Abigail as he glares at Junko,, it taking pretty much all of his self will to not reach for her or launch into a unintelligible tirade of engine sounds. As it is he starts sputtering abit as if revving up and then snaps out "You aint got nothin' goin' on that Ihaven't seen before. Who do you think yer talkin' to! Calm all that damn dramatic, self centered, pity party nonsense down."
He points a huge finger at her, " -You- put -her- in here. Period. You don't -get- to play the victim and scream and cry and shout and be mad at everybody else for not understandin' you. It's too late for that! "
Chevy's words do hit him indeed. HE -wasn't- at the match, no...but he was watching, thinking on how to respond and indeed it was her message that sent him over the edge. His back is to her at first as he rumbles out slowly, "...And yeah..your sponsors are morons."
Abigail turns from Junko, wheeling on Chevy, as she steps in to try and move Junko along "And so is the rest of the NFG management!! As soon as it was clear she was havin' problems to the degree that she was with her self control that shoulda been priority number one and if she couldn't reign it in then she shouldn't. Be. -Fighting-. This isn't World Warrior or the like! You guys are trying t'enter this big wide world. You shouldn't be expected to fight t'live! It's easier then adding polyurethane steering rack bushings, Chevy!"
Of course he had to compare it to that. Abigail sneers, body reddening again as his anger boils up, " Folk love to run they damn mouths about Buford's stupid ass but at least he's not tryin' to -kill- somebody! He's just stupid!"
Coco's alarmed cry rings through him though and he pauses long enough to force a calming rush. HItting the brakes on the nitro, so to speak and frowning abit. His massive jaw tightens and his beard twitches before he finally shakes his head. "As much as I'd love to pop her head like a pimple....yer right. I -am- a sponsor...and I do got responsibilities so I gotta display some self control 'ere..."
The raging video on FIghttube was 'Self Control' apparently. Looks like she did see it, contrary to his first assumption. The fact that she greeted him so kindly, if tiredly, at first, does give him a brief pause..
A pause he then follows up with a tired sounding, "I thought you were smarter then this Chevy. You shouldn't have tried t'insert yourself into this... At least not so quickly. You shoulda guessed it might go this way.. Neither of you shoulda come. This is past 'We're sorry'. It's gotta be worked out some other ways.."
He moves to lay a hand on Hawksley's shoulder as he starts to pass to pause him and adds:
"And she -is- a psychic. It's part of why Juri wanted to get her hands on her and Genie - cause there are people out there that want folk like them." he pauses and eyes Junko, "The real type of calamities.." He quiets and then adds, "And I supported Juri doin' that because it was Juri tryin' to do something for herself and others and cause I supported th'idea of keepin' folk like that from bein' screwed over by crazies."
He lets go of Hawksley's shoulders and turns towards the room to for the entrance. "You know...sponsor stuff...." he mutters.
As Abigail snubs her furious outburst with casual disinterest, Junko almost finds herself laughing at his ignorance. The fool thinks she was talking about herself. Of course, he can't really be blamed for that. She's gone out of her way to ensure that no one knows about her secret, about the monster lying dormant and contained inside of her soul.
It truly is infuriating, now that she thinks about it. She's spent the last half of a decade trying to convince everyone that knows her that she's a wandering hurricane eager to consume everything that draws near, actively having to fight to contain the supernatural rage of a corrupted god coursing through her body at every waking moment. That battle has cost her more than these foreigners could ever possibly understand. Her friends, her family, her future... and her soul.
In the grand scheme of the atrocities that she has committed, messing up Coco's face hardly even registers on the scale. That the girl survived at all is a testament to just how much more control the miko has gained since Rei Hazuki's intervention. In the past, she would have simply blacked out and woken up with another charred corpse at her feet. It was all she could do to drive everyone away so that such tragedies no longer occurred.
Junko had tried to protest her involvement in this stupid contest from the very start. Her uncle had insisted, however, and as the current head of the clan she had little choice but to obey. The organizers of the NFG had assured her that everyone who participated in the fights was well aware of the danger they were getting involved with. There were signed waivers and everything. Of course, the people making those promises were likewise uninformed about the true nature of her pyrotechnic abilities. As far as everyone in charge was concerned, the priestess was just another beginner struggling to get ahold of her natural talents.
And now some overgrown blowhard wants to wander up and preach at her about responsibility? As if she hasn't been struggling with the fallout of her own existence for the last five years. As if she hasn't spent literal months without human contact, cloistered up in the dirty little hut that was her home, afraid of setting foot outside for fear of what she might do if someone else happened to be walking through the woods that day. She'd lost track of how often she contemplated hurling herself off the top of the nearest mountain, only held back by the possibility that doing so might unleash the demon inhabiting her flesh.
And he wants to stomp in here and threaten to kill her over a few lousy burns and a busted nose. Self-centered drama, indeed.
Short of spilling her secret to everyone who happens to be in earshot, however, there isn't really any way she can impress upon these people the sheer magnitude of the mistake it would be to make her angry or inflict life-threatening injuries on her.
The former she can somewhat manage - she's been dealing with the mood changes brought about by the demon's unholy rage for quite some time now. But that's usually when people aren't actively going out of their way to push her buttons. A situation like this is a powder keg sitting next to a lit candle; one careless move is all it will take to make some unpleasant fireworks happen. The fact that Abigail could literally crush her into a basketball-sized sphere with his bare hands would do absolutely nothing to deter her rage should it be invoked.
As for the latter - were anyone foolish enough to actually try and kill her they'd find out very quickly just how much of a danger she really is; or rather, how much of a danger the thing residing inside of her really is. Honestly, if they knew, she doubts Coco would have ever agreed to even get in the ring with her to begin with.
The crunch of footsteps in ice and the even frostier voice that accompanies them makes the miko hesitate. Out of everyone present, only one person's opinion here matters to her. A sliver of clarity punches through the haze of angry red clouding her mind and with it comes the bite of shame. She had shouted at Chevy in frustration but she hadn't done anything to deserve it. Like usual, the American was just trying to keep things from getting out of hand.
Closing her eyes, Junko sucks in a sharp breath through her nose, inhaling the frosty air deep into her lungs. Further discussion here is pointless. The Irishman seems completely bewildered. Coco is convinced everyone is out to get her for some reason and even the gentle water-bender is frustrated with talking to her. Abigail's been here for less than five minutes and is already throwing accusations around, pouring gasoline on a fire that was already out of control like it's going to help somehow.
Turning her back on this absurdity, the miko clenches her jaw and stalks after her friend.
So much for a brighter future.
If he'd realised Coco was crying, Hawksley may have been less likely to leave the hospital room. Oblivious to her tears, he continues on, although he does hear her call out that he can come back and see her again, on condition he doesn't bring along anyone else. There's no danger of that happening after the horrors of today.
Chevy answers to Abigail's accusations, seeming to blame the escalation of events on Coco. This seems offsides to him. Okay, so the London lass is making some out there statements but she's lost her fecking face and although she's yet to confront the issue, he knows how much pride she takes in her prettiness. One of their first conversations concerned her fear of him punching her and messing up her looks.
As for the Thunder sponsors being morons? He's only met Lyraelle and Ariasta. The former seemed fun, the latter had been a favourite of his until the events of today. Now the warmth he feels towards the woman has cooled somewhat after the declaration that his girlfriend would be better off dead.
The hospital corridor plays host to a battle of the elements, the environment twisting and turning as the two Thunder females use their force. The Irishman watches his footing, not wanting to slip and risk putting himself out of action ahead of his match with Djamila. "It's just all so fecking emotional" he sighs in response to the redhead's words. "No matter how shite we're all feeling though, imagine what it would be like to have your face burnt off. People bark on about how beautiful she is all the time, so it's gonna be a big deal for her. That's besides all the pain she must be in, medication or not."
Hawksley is happy that Coco has someone like Abigail in her corner to fight for her. He has to hold himself back from cheering him on. The more he talks, the more the sponsor makes sense to him. He starts to flash back to a montage of moments during the contest, including the time he himself headbutted explosives into the crowd. It was a miracle nobody was maimed that day.
As the hand rests heavily on his shoulder, the Blaze brawler looks up at the bigger man. His eyes are wide and though he'd hate for anyone to notice, also starting to fill with tears. "She didn't fecking tell me" he protests. Then things start to switch into a whole new context. Some of the attacks he's seen Coco do more recently in her fights, the conversations he had with she and Honoka asking him to keep an eye out for Genie. Juri kidnapping Coco that day on the beach.
As the miko stalks away, he watches her in silence, slumping against the hard wall for support. So many thoughts fill his head and he doesn't want to think about any of them. He wants a drink and a hug, not necessarily in that order.
All of the action has moved to the corridor. Having delivered her countermand, she's left lying in the bed, only able to hear sounds and not make out the words that are being spoken in the hallway. That's progress, she supposes. She takes another swig of her water and lies back, staring up at the ceiling. All she had really intended was to let the suspicions that had been sheltering in her brain all night out for fresh air and see what the farm girl had to say for herself. She hadn't expected them to grow legs and hands and teeth and arm themselves for war. Of course, she'd been in a mood, with the pair showing up right after Ariastra.
Part of her misses Chelsea. At least there the people who hated your guts were superficial enough not to say how they really felt about you.
Her phone comes out again. She starts to open her video app. People on her socials need to know what's gone on. But looking at her face in the screen, she falters. Sure, if she were to record her thoughts now, the fresh tears and the bandages would get sympathy. Maybe some understanding. Shares, views, likes. People might even believe what she has to say, even do something about it.
But the two things she least wants to look - least wants to feel - are ugly and pathetic. And until now, confident as she'd grown in the NFG, she'd felt she was neither of those things.
No; she's not ready for a 'Hello World' post.
She closes the video app and opens a browser instead, searching for 'cute bearcat' on FightTube. Pages of videos come up of Captain Morgan. It brings the faintest twitch of a smile to Coco's lips.
Meanwhile, in the corridor, the male nurse from before starts to push past the group, stopping as he steps in a puddle and looking down.
"Oh, jeez. Looks like we're gonna need a Wet Floor sign in here stat. I'll be right there, Coco! Just calling the orderlies!"
For all the world knows, it -was- Junko that put Coco into the hospital in the first place. It's very easy to put that in a box, tape it up, and move on. To Junko and Chevy, the truth is... much more complex than anyone in this fustercluck of a situation knows, and -knowing- that truth only makes it ten times more frustrating.
Coco could have lost a lot more than just her face.
But Chevy won't break a secret. So she's left to weather the verbal abuse as best she can. To stick up for her teammate, and friend. The one no one else will stand up for.
So of course Chevy gets angry. And, lashing out, she blames the victim -- which is the worst part of it all.
Here she is -- letting Coco get to her again.
It isn't the sponsors who are to blame.
Because Ayame warned her about that.
But it's Abigail's words who are hurting her the most right now. She wasn't a fan of Buford, but he wasn't... on a -hate- list or anything. Chevy loves everyone in the NFG, in their own way. But to hear Abigail call him 'stupid' -- to have him lumped in the same category as her sponsors. And to then further aggravate things by placing him -- above Junko.
And then in the next master stroke, to take the parental tone. And to express not rage but -disappointment-.
The tears start to flow.
A sniff of air escapes before she can slam the portcullis down on her emotions.
She's just glad Junko can't see her face, as she starts to walk past.
Imagine what it'd be like to have your face burnt off, Chevy. It'd be a mercy right now, to be the victim instead of the aggressor, the dumb hick girl who can't do anything right. The bleeding heart who should have just left well enough alone and let the grown-ups handle this mess.
It's too much to handle. An icy vortex continues to walk down the hall alongside the roiling heatwave -- a phenomenon that, likely without Chevy's or Junko's knowledge, leaves behind blistering puddles of melted frost in their wake.
She looks over to Junko as she walks. It would've been easier if she'd just kept to herself. If she'd -not- pressed friendship onto the girl. If she'd just stayed ignorant of the curse that Junko had taken upon herself in the mistaken search for a less painful existence.
By the time she's able to find words, Chevy's too far to be heard by anyone else but the miko she arrived with.
"I'm... I'm so sorry 'bout all this Junko. I thought... I thought it'd help."
She wipes tears from her eyes, sniffling slightly as she collects her thoughts.
"Maybe you had the right idea all along. ... Movin' so far away you cain't hurt no one."
He's called Buford stupid and a moron to his face many times when frustrated with him and trying to wrangle his wild opinions or interpretations of matters but that context and ultimate opnion of the guy is certainly not at the forefront here, just his sharp words and implied meaning and right now, if truly asked, the Team Thunder sponsors would be way, way, lower then him on the 'moron' scale for permitting things to escalate as they have. He lays the blame squarely at Junko's, Team Thunder Sponsors and the NFG official's feet so far as order of blame goes. Chevy, unfortunately,to him, is simply unexpected collateral now by stroke of affiliation.
Or so he assumes....
"Don't trip in the shower! I'd hate to see ya 'end the world' on account of a slip and fall!" yells Abigail after Junko, making even clearer his opinion of her words, his deep voice booming down the hallway towards the departing ladies as steam rises from his body once more.
The miko's read on him is only partially correct. He -is- ignorant. But not of the things she presumes. He said what he said but as usual his boisterous bruiser persona has someone on the receiving end of his ire underestimating him and missing the nuance. He's well aware she may very well be linked to something dangerous and overpowering that could emerge upon a mishap. A calamity.
He's also on a first name basis with calamities.
He's fought the likes of Akuma, Azrael, Rugal, Grant and they all now know his name and remember those fights. He's met Morrigan, has an immortal immensely powerful Vampire as a co-sponsor. It's less that a 'calamity' would be bad it's just that attempting to use it as a threat or warning on a sponsor with the power and skill and experience of Abigail is simply not going to work. Some of those self same monsters might have just broken her neck right here and now just to see what would happen and for the thrill of the chaos resulting and he knows that. Humanity has monsters.
He gives Hawksley a look and steps aside as the male nurse arrives to attend to the mess on the floor and then he looks back at the retreating Junko and Chevy. His bulldoggish bearded face crinkles into one of disgust as his eyes rove over the miko and then becomes more neutral as his eyes move to Chevy.
Then more disappointment and frustration "Ugh..." he grumbles, resting his hands onto his hips as his eyes flicker up and down the hallway in search of something else to focus on and then he finally rumbles towards Hawksley, "Maybe just hang out in onna the family rooms for a bit or somethin' or go for a walk. Th'food court or whatever, cool down and then sneak back in to see her after they clean all this up..." he steps towards the room, muttering, "I'll figure somethn' out for the hayseed..." more to himself then anything else.
He leans his massive body part way through the door. Fitting all the way in would be a chore and at this point he figures Coco doesn't need anymore distractions. "Hey. You good fer now? I'm gonna hang out nearby. You probably tired of visitors right now. I guess it's a good thing I aint called Juri yet..."
The walk back to the entrance of the hospital is made in brooding silence. As the avatar of a living god of fury, hatred and malice come easily to her. It's strangely comfortable to wallow in the simmering aftermath of the confrontation, like sitting down in an old familiar chair on the porch after a long day of work. Sure the chair is lopsided and can't fit anywhere except that one spot that lets the sun glare into her eyes and she has to constantly watch out for stray nails poking out from the shoddy construction lest they poke into her legs and back, but she's had the thing for so damn long it feels weird to sit in anything else.
Anger is something that Junko understands well. Coco's anger at suffering an injury that threatens her self image makes perfect sense for a vain and self-absorbed young woman. There were plenty of girls like that back in the village, always staring into their own reflection as if even a single stray hair being out of place would cause the sky to fall down on them.
The fury that Hawksley had displayed at her for mocking and injuring his friend and, from what she could gather, lover, was likewise easy to grasp. The miko had faced down that same sort of outrage from countless family and friends each time someone had foolishly tried to get close to her only to wind up another mangled and burnt husk. Out of all the forms of hate she has received, that one is by far the most common.
The vitriol that had been unleashed by her friend and teammate was something that Junko rarely encountered these days. The last time someone had gotten angry on her behalf was so long ago that she can hardly remember it. Vague flashes of memory dance through her mind, images of people who long since paid the price for their attempt to stand by her side only to learn that she hadn't been worth defending in the first place.
The big man's anger reminded her of the days shortly after her foolish mistake. Entire mobs of people, former friends and distant relatives and strangers alike, all gathered together to demand justice and retribution for her actions. None of them had any idea what had happened or why. All they could see is the destruction and death that followed. All their hearts had room for was anger and disgust.
Though each of these people had different reasons for being angry, all of that emotion stemmed from a single common source - Junko. Which leads her to the final and most familiar form of hate. That kind she has for herself.
The priestess's head bows at the faint sounds of a stifled sob from her companion. That single sound, more than any words or accusations hurled at her in the past few minutes, hurts the most. Chevy has done nothing but stand by her side, offering friendship and understanding where others had only fear and scorn. She didn't deserve what had happened in that room. The only mistake that the hayseed had made was to believe that Junko could escape her fate and become a better person. For a brief time, Junko had believed it too.
Fools, the both of them.
There are no tears shed by the downcast miko as she stalks along in moody silence. The familiarity of this disaster just leaves her hollow and empty inside. Chevy's words, when they finally come, are an echo of the dark thoughts that have been dancing through her mind. The girl just nods once, her empty stare hidden underneath the sheltering curtain of ragged white bangs hanging low over her brow.
It is only once they have exited the building that Junko finally speaks. A hand rummages around in the pocket of her poofy hakama withdrawing a pack of fresh cigarettes. She tears it open with her teeth, casually spitting the plastic wrapper onto the ground and flicks one of the long smoke out of the package and into her mouth. The tip flares brightly with a sudden burst of scarlet flame and she inhales deeply of the acrid smoke, the girl's eyes slowly closing as she leans her head back to expel the cloud up into the sky. It lingers for a few moments, a dark gray mass of swirling fog hovering over her head like a storm cloud until the wind picks up and sweeps it away.
Turning her back to the one person she can call her friend, Junko does the only thing she can think of to keep that friend from ever having to deal with something like this again. She starts walking and doesn't look back.
The nurse pushes past him and Hawksley doesn't even respond. He just watches the man go to call for help to sort out the mess that's been made.
Chevy is crying now too. Maybe he should comfort her but he honestly doesn't have it in him. Pretty soon she's gone anyway, off with the girl she's took it upon herself to protect and guide.
At Abigail's suggestion, the Irishman nods slowly. He had been intending to go to the pub and spend all afternoon and evening getting wasted but what if he just went for a walk around the park instead and then came back to keep Coco company? The thought cheers him somewhat. Besides, he's done without booze for a couple of days now, so what's another one?
"Thanks, Abigail. I'm gonna get some air and then return. I appreciate the advice and you know, everything else."
A brief smile appears on the brawler's face. "If you ever plan another smashing up cars party, be sure to let me know. I reckon I could do with letting off some steam."
With that he pulls on his sweater, pulling up its hood to protect him from the crisp Autumn air and heads out of the hospital, feeling if not happy, then at least a little hopeful.
Coco looks up from her pain-mitigating morphine-and-Morgie mesmerisation when Abigail addresses her directly. She's surprisingly calm at this point. Perhaps she has been popping Xanax after all. Though, she's also looking a bit spaced out.
"Mmm? Oh. Yes. I think I could do with a bit more rest. I'll be wanting to talk to Juri soon. And Angel..."
She hangs on that name, considering for a few awkward seconds. Given the contrast between now and when she'd had that amazing afternoon with Angel, she doubts seeing each other is the best plan right now. It's likely to just be a drag for the Mexican chica, and Coco doesn't have much energy either. Really, it would just serve as a reminder of the state she's in.
"Umm, tell her I said thanks. About the outfit and everything. And I'll see her soon."
The nurse comes in and checks on a silent Coco before helping adjust the pillows and upping the dosage on her drip, having discussed the prospect with the doctor. Coco goes back to quietly watching clips of her binturong spectating fights with different hats on and lets out a wistful sigh.
Then the autoplay takes her FightTube account to the footage from her match with Junko. With no energy left to change the channel, she lets it play, slowly drifting off as it repeats over and over, long after her eyes drift shut and consciousness fades.
Log created on 17:01:35 11/07/2023 by Coco, and last modified on 17:06:44 11/11/2023.