ELEMENT [M] Apr 18, 2019 14:31:53 GMT
Post by roule on Apr 18, 2019 14:31:53 GMT
THE GIRL FROM DON QUIJOTE
Mizuki doesn't know why she's bothering.
The painfully bright lights of Akihabara flash around her, cars zooming past as she walks down the street, loud cries of "ALL DOUJIN 50% OFF!" and "JAPAN POKEMON LEAGUE TICKETS HERE!" humming painfully in her ears, and large, elaborate signs for arcades and comic stores hanging over her. As she moves, she tries her best not to bump into hip-looking teenagers walking with pikachus crawling up their shirts, and lonely, geeky looking men who she can smell even from a distance, pokeballs visible on their belt, who practically leer at her and her pokemon.
The white cotton mask itches on her face, but she doesn't dare take it off. If she takes it off, some fan will probably recognize her and start a huge hubbub, again. Akihabara is her stomping grounds, and being here makes her extra paranoid.
Why does the most reliable shop to get albums have to be right under her stage?
And why does she have to get the stupid album, anyway?
Riorin asked for someone to get it for her so that she could send it to her parents back in Sapporo. But, she couldn't get it herself, oh no, because she was scared of being stalked this late at night. And she couldn't wait for tomorrow, either! She had to get it now! Right, fucking, now!
To be fair, she should cut her some slack. Riorin is only seventeen. Mizuki used to be scared of being stalked too when she was her age.
However, in this job, you get used to it quickly.
So, naturally, she walked over to her senior, batted her dark eyes and smiled her sweet pink smile, and begged her to go get it for her. Mizuki probably should have told her to wait until morning, but the practice room stank of sweat, she had nothing better to do and she itched to step outside and focus on something other than dancing the same three songs.
She regrets saying yes now, 'cause the city smells worse than sweat. Oh sure, it reeks of sweat, but out here, the smell of sweat mixes with piss, pokemon feces, cigarette smoke, and booze. It's nearly un-fucking-bearable.
Atsuko is still hiding her disgust, looking at her with a curious look in her eyes, and waving her blue-and-white flippers at people. The seal pokemon rests heavy in her arms, and her owner's arms wobble with the effort of picking her up. Mizuki almost wishes that her brionne would show her true emotions, but she doesn't either, so why should she care?
Why should she complain in the first place, her mind asks, millions of girls would kill for your job, and yet you're angry over errands that can be done in about thirty minutes tops, and dancing? You literally sing and dance for a living, do you even realize how easy that is?
She sighs and shakes her head as if to dismiss the argument, long strands of dark hair brushing against her face. Up ahead of her a large skyscraper, the Don Quijote building, juts forth, its LED screens displaying a large pink sign reading "AKB48 THEATER 8F", and displaying a large picture of about ten girls smiling warmly from the chest up, all wearing the same uniform of a plaid jacket, white button-up shirt, with red and yellow ties.
Mizuki sees herself in the middle, with long dark hair down to her back and surrounding her round face, her bangs cut straight and swept to the side. She's smiling, warm and sweet for the camera, her dark crescent eyes looking down upon the street like she's watching the people passing by. Atsuko spots her owner, and makes a happy squeaking noise, waving at her like she could respond. Mizuki feels a chill run up her spine as she walks past the picture, even though it's the hottest day in July, and adjusts her grey t-shirt as she steps into the building, a blast of cold air greeting her.
Don Quijote is an ugly, garish department store, with signs for literally everything covering the store, makeup, jewelry, chocolates, and an oddly named thong brand made specifically for men, you name it. The signs are bright colors, yellows and reds, blues and pinks and purples, that blend together into a blob of nothing in a person's eyes after about five minutes of looking at them. The aisles seem to always be overflowing with all sorts of crap, almost everything is up too high for anyone to reach without an assistant's help, and the aisles are practically maze-like, almost impossible to navigate, all while a chirpy, annoying jingle plays endlessly in the background...
Mizuki loves it.
Over the years, she's found a meaning to the madness of the store, and fell in love with its tackiness and confusing aisles selling literally everything. It's pure chaos masquerading as a store, and probably the most convenient place to shop at, by far.
She finds the music section after a few minutes of aimlessly browsing through t-shirts with weird designs, Atsuko singing along to the jingle and swaying with it. Thankfully, there's one copy left behind, the picture of her jumping the air, wearing an all-white dress and looking childishly innocent tormenting her. She imagines, for a brief moment, that the Mizuki on the cover is laughing at her, mocking her. But, Mizuki shakes her head and ignores the thought, as Atsuko clamors over her shoulder, squeaking loudly.
"Whaddya want?" Mitsuki smiles, patting the pokemon on the back, trying to stop her from slipping off her body and falling to the dirty floor. Atsuko slaps her back, and squeaks, gesturing to the shelves behind her. Following her flipper, Mitsuki rolls her eyes at the sight of the bright metallic pink packaging of strawberry pokepuffs and stuffs them into her basket.
"Now, don't say I never did anything for you," Mitsuki grumbles, a hint of a smile hiding under her mask. The brionne hums triumphantly, placing her flippers on her imaginary hips the best she can while being held, and smiling smugly at her owner.
Mitsuki clicks her tongue almost in a chiding manner as she walks out of the music aisle aimlessly, not paying attention to where she's looking, mainly looking at Atsuko looking happily at her. When she finally looks up, she's close, mere inches away from collision close, to another customer. She's about to bow and apologize as she steps away, but she stops halfway through, staring in awe.
The person in front of her is a tall, lithe woman, white t-shirt showing off her moderately muscular, yet pale arms, and… not so flat chest. Mizuki notices that white cloth bandages cover her knuckles and part of her index fingers, possibly from a fight. Her black Adidas sweatshirt wraps around her waist, like some sort of skirt, and she's wearing dark jean shorts, tight around her legs. Her dark hair twists and turns over her shoulders like waves, reaching to her back. However, what confuses Mizuki the most is that the girl is wearing some sort of red, possibly religious mask, completely obscuring her face. However, she cannot see the rest of the woman's mask, only the mask's mane of wooden black hair, the sharp red curve of its cheekbones and red horns protruding from her forehead.
In the woman's hands, Mizuki notices a glossy pop culture magazine, open to some sort of gossip column, chattering about the current Prime Minister's bachelor status. Despite her best efforts not to intrude upon her, the idol finds herself watching as the woman turns the page. A picture of Mizuki looks up at the mask-wearing woman with an almost innocent look on her face, wearing only a black-and-white bra with a floral pattern, and lacy panties. The Mizuki on the page has one of her bra straps in between her fingers as if she was fidgeting with it. The real Mizuki feels her face burn red, and Atsuko shifts in her arms, squeaking softly at her owner. She vaguely remembers the shoot a few months ago - all her shoots tend to meld together nowadays - and she feels a mixture of discomfort at seeing the pictures again, and a weird feeling in her belly she can't quite pin down.
The woman next to her lets out a sudden breath, as if she's been holding it for a long while, and stares at the picture. She's unmoving for a moment, and questions churn in the idol's head. Then, Mizuki watches as one of the woman's fingers reaches out to the page, and traces the outline of her body slowly and methodically, starting with her chest.
Mizuki shudders, but before she can analyze the weird feeling coursing through her, a person wearing all red standing next to her steps around the woman. It walks towards Mizuki, and the idol realizes that it's not a person, it's a pokemon, a bright red insect about her height, with a thin abdomen, large oval thorax, thin red legs, and massive round pinchers, with black circular markings that make them look like heads. It looks at her with thin, orange eyes peeking through its metal carapace, almost studying her.
Mizuki flinches away, trying her best to soften her posture and not provoke an attack from the scizor. That's what you should do, right? She tries to remember the guidelines for preventing a pokemon attack, taught to her in a pokemon training course that everyone who gets an ownership license has to take. However, she can't think of anything, the stare of the mantis too intimidating. It's focusing more on Atsuko, who is cowering in her owner's arms, with her head in her t-shirt and squeaking loudly.
Before Mizuki can bolt away to safety, she sees the woman's hand tap the scizor's shoulder gently, mask still not visible. The woman speaks a Slavic-sounding language to her scizor in a low, raspy tone, and the scizor glances over at its owner.
It nods and follows her out of the aisle, and Mizuki sighs in relief, before fuming internally. Why would that woman let such a dangerous pokemon out to roam in a department store full of people? What if it suddenly attacked her, or anyone in the store? Mizuki shudders at the thought of all that destruction and death and hugs Atsuko closer to her chest.
Besides, she thinks, that woman was generally pretty creepy. The mask covering her face, tracing her semi-nude body… What was she, some sort of perv? It's tempting to just call the police, but Mizuki decides against it. Not worth the trouble, not worth the potential media coverage. Still, what did her mask look like? The idol feels curiosity bubble underneath her skin, and she tries to whisk the thoughts away, but the curiosity still remains.
After a little more browsing, she ends up walking towards the front, by the counter, which seems to be overflowing with cigarette containers towards the back and duty-free goods for tourists. The woman is standing in front of her, the scizor by her side, shifting from one foot to the other. The cashier, a short man with a round face and a fake smile, attempts to engage her in conversation.
"Are you a fan of AKB48, miss?" he asks, smiling up at her, as he scans a package of cookies.
The woman shrugs.
"I'm more of a… casual listener," she grumbles, her Japanese fluent to the surprise of Mizuki. "I have too much shame to be anything more."
It didn't look like she was a casual listener back there, Mizuki growls to herself.
The cashier laughs and reads her final price. She pays, and tears at the paper receipt, placing it in her bag with a quick motion. Slowly, Mizuki watches with anticipation as she turns around to leave, letting her get a tantalizing glimpse of her mask.
She almost jumps out of her skin.
Her mask is a deity's red face, his eyes wide open and staring at her, two eyes where they normally would be, and one open sideways on its forehead, between its eyebrows. Its mouth is open wide in a grimace, long white fangs visible, and Mizuki can just make out the woman's eyes peeking out in the gap of its mouth. Mizuki can't bring herself to say anything or move out of the way, just stares at the woman. The woman stares back, hand clutching her plastic bag, scizor by her side.
"Sorry," the woman says, her hand twitching nervously. She slides past the idol, scizor close behind her. Mizuki stares incredulously at the woman as she walks out of the building, the door shutting behind her.
"…Alright," Mizuki mutters to herself, before shaking her head. The cashier just shrugs his shoulders.
"After working here for two years," he sighs, as he scans her items, Atsuko squeaking at him and waving, "you just kind of accept the crazy ones… Not like she's hurting anyone."
"Is she allowed to have a scizor in here?" the idol asks in her best 'concerned consumer' voice, her eyes wide. The cashier shrugs, a smile on his face.
"She has a license and a permit for it," he says, reaching out to pet Atsuko, who sings happily to herself. "And it's one of the better-trained ones I've seen. Most of 'em that come out will see themselves in the mirrors by the cosmetics section and try to fight themselves, and some of them cause a big mess. This one just kinda looked at itself, then walked past."
"Huh," Mizuki hums in response, before the cashier thanks her, and she walks out into Akihabara, the loud street noise almost overpowering her. Atsuko snuggles into her t-shirt, eyes slowly shutting, and she smiles and pats the seal pokemon soothingly.
The idol spends almost the entire walk to the subway station thinking about the woman in the terrifying deity mask. What the fuck was her deal? What did she get out of wearing a mask that scares the shit out anyone who looks at her? She's seen her fair share of weirdos, but none have gotten under her skin like this. Why? Why does she care so much?
Probably 'cause she looked at that picture of me like a starving animal, she snarls.
She shakes that thought from her mind.
Mizuki climbs down the stairs to the train station quickly, scans her pass absentmindedly, and sits down on a bench, waiting for the train to arrive. Her mind floats back to the woman, but she closes her eyes tight, trying not to think about her. No point in getting angry over some nameless person, it'll just waste her energy away. What was the point of lingering on her anyways? It isn't like pontificating about her will make her stop somehow...
The train pulls into the station with a screech, thrusting the idol from her thoughts. She steps on the train, sitting in an empty seat. Mizuki fidgets with the mask on her face subconsciously, the cotton itching and feeling unnatural. The phantom feeling of eyes staring at her itches under her skin, a burning, searing sensation, and she shivers. Briefly, the idol wishes that she brought a coat to hide into, but deep down, she knows she wouldn't end up using it.
During the trip to Shibuya, the train teeming with people standing in front of her, she mainly stares at her feet and picks at the fuzz on her dark yoga pants, Atsuko asleep in her arms. Mizuki cannot bring herself to look up, afraid that someone will see her here, and try to talk to her, ask for an autograph, or make a move on her. Still, she feels someone looking at her, but she brushes it off as paranoia.
After the robotic announcer reads her station, she slips out of the train, before the train makes a loud hissing noise, and the idol jumps out of her skin. Atsuko squeals, suddenly awake, tugging at her owner's shirt sleeve. Mizuki frowns, and coos comforting words down at the seal pokemon as she leaves the station, stepping out into the bright streets of Shibuya.
Slowly, as she's making her way down the darker residential areas of Shibuya, Mizuki begins to notice a low, clicking noise. It's metallic in tone and follows a strange rhythmic pattern that confounds her. However, what scares her the most is the fact that it's following her, not moving away as she walks down the street, towards the studio. After a little bit, she hears a woman's voice speaking in a low tone, inaudible to Mizuki but… familiar. However, she just ignores it, letting the thoughts of paranoia and "stalker?" roam her mind.
When she's three blocks down, close to the studio's steel building glinting in the moonlight, Mizuki loses her patience. The clicking is closer, louder now, and the voice is lower in tone, as if not to startle her. It's itching at her mind, scratching bright red, and if she keeps hearing it, she'll punch this person in the face and run all the way to the studio screaming.
She whips her head around to see the mask-wearing woman from before, looking over at the scizor, who clicks its pincers in an odd rhythm, left sometimes and right other times.
She wasn't losing her mind, she was being followed! By that creep from Don Quijote! The woman had seen Mizuki's picture in that magazine, and stalked her to Shibuya, and intended on doing dirty things to her!
Mizuki knows that Atsuko holds no chance against the mantis, the brionne being not very fond of combat, much like her owner. So she reaches for her can of mace, always in the front pocket of her purse.
Before she maces the woman, she shouts at her, waggling the can in front of her:
"You think you're really sneaky following me over here, don'tcha?"
The woman looks over, and freezes, hands in her pockets. The scizor doesn't react, just looks over at Mizuki, staring with an unreadable expression.
"Didn't think I'd notice, huh?" Mizuki growls, finger twitching. "Did you really think I wouldn't notice you following me?"
"I'm not following you," the woman says lowly, not moving. The scizor makes a low humming noise.
"Then what are you doing?" the idol snaps, anxiety searing through her body.
"Walking home," the woman says stiffly, and points to one of the pale, modern and fancy apartment complexes, jutting up around them. "I live there."
"Really?" Mizuki asks, anxiety slowly leaving her veins. "You aren't lying?"
"Why… why would I lie about living here?" the woman asks, cocking her head. Her scizor imitates her, crossing its arms.
"You saw me in Donki," the idol says bashfully, darkness hiding her blush. She tucks her mace away in her purse pocket, Atsuko sniffing at her hand. "I-I thought you might've been trying to…"
"No," she says frostily, a layer of venom to her voice. "I'm just heading home."
"Good," Mizuki sighs before a pang of anger comes over her again. "Then, why are you wearing that fucking mask? You do know that wearing a mask like that makes you look more suspicious, right? If you didn't wear a mask covering your whole face, especially one with a screaming demon face, maybe people like me won't think you're a crazy murderer!"
"I can't take it off."
"Why can't you take it off?"
"My face is broken," the woman murmurs, a sad tone to her voice. Her hands fidget in her pants pocket. "I can't take it off."
Mizuki sniffs at that response, rolling her eyes. She should call bullshit, but Mizuki feels embarrassment at randomly yelling at some lady off of the street, and a little bit of… sympathy? The idol sighs, shrugging her shoulders, and the scizor starts clicking her pinchers again.
"Well," the idol scoffs, itching at her elbow. "You should still wear a happier mask. One that's less scary. Why are you wearing this specific one?"
"I thought it was a nice mask," the woman says, a smile in her voice. "It's painted and carved beautifully… The cashier told me it was hand-carved."
"Well, it's scary regardless!" Mizuki retorts, crossing her arms. The woman jumps back a little. "There are young girls living in this neighborhood, and if you keep wearing it, they could call the cops on you, even if you're doing nothing! Would you want that?"
"...No," the woman says glumly, shaking her head. She stiffens, kicking at a rock on the ground. "I wouldn't want that."
"Then, you should buy a new mask," she huffs, adjusting Atsuko in her arms. "You seem like a nice lady, so you should wear a mask that reflects that!"
"Hrm," the woman nods, and the scizor snaps its claws again. Suddenly, the woman barks out a laugh, and turns towards the insect, chattering in a foreign language to it.
Then, the woman turns towards Mizuki again. The idol raises her eyebrows, Atsuko squirming in her arms, smiling up at the mask-wearing woman. The woman's hands slip to her sides, a pale bluish in the moonlight
"Thank you," she says softly, in a warm, complimentary tone. "You're very kind. I hope this isn't the last time we meet."
Mizuki nods, and her feet itch to leave.
Sure, this lady was nicer and less of a creep than she expected her to be, but practice probably ended about ten minutes ago. If she didn't get back soon, she'll be chewed out by Mii-chan and their manager, and she wants none of it.
"Yeah, you too," she hums absent-mindedly, rushing for the glass door of the studio building. Atsuko squeals in her owner's arms as Mizuki scrambles to get up to the third floor, rapidly clicking the metal up button on the elevator. For a few seconds, she thinks she's free from a lecture, that she's made it back in time.
However, she sees the shorter woman standing to the right, leaning against the door. Her hair is short, only reaching to her round chin, and she's scowling at Mizuki, eyes dark.
"Zuki-chan," Mii-chan says lowly, looking her up and down. "Where were you?"
"Uh, nowhere," Mizuki says, smiling widely. Atsuko smiles up at the idol, waving wildly. "We were just walking around the block, really."
"Don't lie to me, you have a bag in your right hand," the other girl snaps, her eyes wide in anger. "Why did you shirk practice?"
"Riorin wanted me to get a copy of the new album!" Mizuki exclaims with a fake smile, showing off her plastic bag. Mii-chan looks down at her bag, before looking up at her with a bored expression.
"Why did you listen to her, then?" she snaps, pointing her finger into her chest. "You should always be focused on your training! Riorin could have waited, but you took the initiative to skip out on practice!"
Mizuki sighed internally, and prepared for a long lecture about how she should always 'put AKB48 before anything else in her life'. Of course, Mizuki understood why Miichan is always so harsh on her. She'd once gotten caught with her boyfriend at the time, and after a gigantic scandal that involved a shaved head, she was forced to become a trainee again. She worked from the bottom up, back into her current position as leader of team K, and didn't want the same to happen with Mizuki. All her rants came from a kind place, out of protection.
Didn't make it any more fun to listen to…
However, Miichan stops talking, the noise of metallic footsteps filling the room. Mizuki looks over her shoulder to see the scizor from before, walking over towards the girls. The senior idol shouts in horror, dashing backward to protect herself. However, Mizuki stays frozen out of shock, unable to move her feet to run. Its owner is nowhere to be seen, so it must've gone rogue, like all those pokemon attacks shown on TV! What was it going to do? Atsuko squeals angrily at the scizor, trying to wriggle out of the idol's arms to get at the scizor.
The scizor walks up to her, and stops, staring at the two of them again. Mizuki's feet are frozen, and her body shakes profusely. It tilts its head to look at her, before reaching one of its pincers out, towards the idols chest. She looks down and sees the pink metallic bag of her pokepuffs in its round claws.
"Oh," Mizuki says, exhaling shakily. It just wants to return her pokepuffs. She points to her chest, the gesture hopefully visible to the mantis pokemon.
The scizor nods, and nudges its pincer closer to her chest. Gingerly, Mizuki picks the bag of snacks out of its razor-sharp claw, hands shaking. She bows in thanks, and the scizor tilts its head again. Its unmoving for a few moments, before slowly, gracefully curtsying, causing Mizuki to giggle.
With that, the scizor dashes out of the studio lobby, its wings humming softly, moving very quickly. Mizuki can see the red pokemon bolt across the street, probably running towards its owner.
Suddenly, Mizuki notices a dark car sitting in front of the studio, barely visible in the night. She can barely make out the fuzzy, dark shape of a person sitting in the driver's seat, yellow streetlight surrounding their form like a halo, head looking over at her. They look at each other for two minutes, four minutes, eight, then the person turns, hits the accelerator, and speeds away.
The idol blinks in shock, briefly wondering if she's made a serious mistake, before Atsuko's squealing brings her back into reality, as Mii-chan drags her into the elevator to scream at her some more.