Post by Emiko Okita on Jul 4, 2023 20:27:46 GMT -6
Warabi, Saitama, Japan
It’s just about the best way that a morning can start. Or at least, the best way a morning can start after a whirlwind of unforeseen life events. So much has happened such a short window that Emiko’s lost track of time. At first she thought she could handle it, that soon enough she’d be back on track and back in the ring without incident. Just a few days to get things sorted out with her family and it’d be back to the crazy life she’d chosen. But something funny happened in the midst of it all. Something changed. It’s overwhelming and she’s only now starting to be able to process it all. Given all that, it’s quite the relieving change of pace to be staring down at the motorbike sitting in front of her.
Emiko: <”Hookay then. That’s bad news. Really friggin’ bad news.”
She stares down at the engine, open to the elements and under the close scrutiny of her well trained eye. When you’re just trying to ride around day to day and the thing sputters you only get a general idea of the problem. It’s when you get your hands dirty that you realize what’s really causing the issue. Normally this wouldn’t be the kind of thing that you just fixed at the drop of the hat. It’s an older bike, which means certain parts are hard or impossible to come by. But failure’s not an option. This bike belongs to Arisa’s sister Koharu, and Emi will be damned if she’s not going to get it fixed. Not only out of gratitude to her former leader, but in aid to a young woman who needs the vehicle for her work. No driving around means no money. Luckily for her Emi’s stockpiled parts for these older bikes. Misfits on roads full of gleaming modern powered steeds. She’s got a soft spot for them; they’re better than normal.
Emiko: <”But good news? Emi’s got just the thing to fix this baby right up.”>
Perhaps it’s her captivated audience that leads her to provide some narration. Koharu watches on from the other side of the garage, eyes glued to Emi’s every movement. Emiko’s hands work deftly as she removes the offending piece and then cleans up the mess around its former housing. Got to get it good and cleaned up. Eventually it’s as squeaky clean as it’s bound to get and she begins to install the replacement piece.
Each little adjustment reminds her of one of the things that’s piled up in her life. Turn. The gaping hole in her heart left by Megumi’s sudden retirement. Turn. Expectations the world must certainly have of her as the sister of the golden soul of Shinijoshi. Turn. Her family’s concerns over her chosen career, heightened now that she’s been home for the first time in months. Turn. Reality hitting her in the face, reminding her that she doesn’t fit the mold of what a Shinijoshi ought to be. Turn. Her dramatic failure on Prime making her wonder if this is really her place in the world. Turn. All of these things replay in her mind when it has idle moments, so she’s tried hard to keep herself busy. And in the midst of that? She’s spent several weeks away from her teammates, afraid to show her face and uncertain if she even belongs. But this? This bike speaks to her. And helping out her friend’s sister does as well. When the piece is fully secured she closes things up and wipes some sweat from her brow.
Emiko: <”’Kay, go ahead and give it a try.”>
Koharu cautiously takes a seat and turns the key. Emi’s ears are wide open, on full alert for any unexpected sounds that could indicate further issues. After some grumbling from the bike, the engine comes to life and begins purring. A smile crosses her lips as Koharu looks up thankfully.
Koharu: <”Thank you Okita-san! I can not thank you enough.”>
Emiko just gives an awkward thumbs up.
Emiko: <”Don’t worry ‘bout it! My pleasure.”>
If only fixing her life was as easy as this. Thoughts pass through her mind about perhaps reaching out to her teammates to check in. But these are dashed as she reminds herself they’re all very busy women. Narumi is the Undisputed Champion. Aiya and Sonya are fighting important battles across multiple brands. They’ve got much more important things to worry about than what Emiko Okita is up to. She’s not sure if she’s going to get back to fighting, or if she even should. Sure she misses it, but she’s got other stuff going on right now. And she’s not really feeling like she belongs anywhere but here at home working on bikes. Maybe a local promotion might have use for a weirdo like her. That’s about all she sees herself as in the moment - a weird girl who doesn’t fit where she did before. It feels pretty empty there but that may also be because she hasn’t come clean about her feelings to any of the other Shinijoshi. How can she when they all have way more important stuff to worry about? They’re probably all on a flight somewhere else by now, and that suits Emi just fine. Maybe she’ll catch up with them, maybe she won’t.
Koharu: <”Are you sure?”>
Emi waves her off.
Emiko: <”Yeah! It’s nothin’. If it gives you any more trouble lemme know and I’ll have another look.”>
And if her Shinijoshi partners do ask for her, she knows what she has to do. She can’t just be this violent biker girl who stands out like a sore thumb. If they come calling she’s got to do better. As if on cue her mother calls out to her.
Mrs. Okita: <”Emiko-san, there’s someone asking for you.”>
Probably just another former Ponytails girl whose bike needs a little tender care from the Abnormal girl.
Emiko: <”Thanks, tell ‘em t’ park it in the driveway and I’ll be out soon.”>
She clutches the spanner in her hand and smirks. No better way to spend a morning.
Mrs. Okita: <”She doesn’t have a bike.”>
Emi glances over at her mom, who’s standing just inside the doorway leading into the house.
Emi: <”Then what’s she want?”>
Mrs. Okita: <”I’m not sure.”>
Emi frowns, tapping the spanner on her chin thoughtfully. Is she expecting anyone? With the way the days have melded together in her mind’s eye, it’s possible. But no, she doesn’t think so.
Emi: <”Who is it?”>
Mrs. Okita: <”Cute girl with blonde hair. She says her name is Tsutsumi-san.”>
Oh damn. That can only be one person - the ace of Shinijoshi has tracked her down! Briefly she debates asking for the Onihime to come back another time, but it’s not like she’s doing anything. Maybe they need her back. Emi nods to Koharu, then rushes into the house to begin executing her next master plan. She only stops briefly to look to her mom.
Emi: <”Tell Tsutsumi-san I’m gonna be a few minutes. I wanna get cleaned up.”>
While her mother looks a little confused, Emi bolts into the house. Her powerful legs carry her up the stars two steps at a time, so eager is she to get this right. Soon she’s reached the bathroom, where she goes about removing the traces of the abnormal biker girl. Grease smears her cheeks and forehead, so she scrubs at these extra hard. Slowly but surely her face cleans up, the biker girl disappearing. In a series of movements she’s practiced the past few weeks, Emi changes out of her overalls and into a feminine white blouse and flowy skirt. The same precision which guided her hands in engine repair now guides them in the expert application of light makeup. No trace of abnormality. Just a good, presentable girl who’d fit in well with the premier group of Japanese talent in her sport. A few steps later she’s standing in her old bedroom, and her eyes catch sight of a fancy school uniform hanging up in the closet. A reminder of how she learned how to do all of these things which seem to be incongruous with her typical nature. The uniform of Kawaguchi Girls’ High School; the place where she first learned how to be a 'good' girl. It was tough then, to do it now is insane, but she has to try.
Downstairs, Mrs. Okita sets a platter of light snacks and iced tea for her daughter's guest.
Mrs. Okita: <"Tsutsumi-san, thanks for coming to visit Emiko. I've been wanting to meet her co-workers for a while now.">
Narumi: <"Oh it's no big deal! We're Emi-san's friends, and we started to get worried about her. I thought I'd stop by to check in on her.">
Mrs. Okita: <"I'm so glad that my daughter has nice friends now. Even if she's been fighting, it's wonderful that she's got proper role models.">
Narumi hesitates to reply.
Narumi: <"I'm not sure what you mean by that, Okita-san.">
Meanwhile Emi descends the stairs as gingerly as possible. Crashing up them isn't what a Shinijoshi does. Grace, poise, idol worthy femininity. These are what will make her a proper Shinijoshi. It's kind of funny - so many of the girls she thought were boring in school had looked like this. Yet the struggles of her school years prepared her for the needed change. Emi stops just shy of the living room and inhales deeply. Here goes nothing. As soon as she rounds the corner she's met by a concerned gaze from Narumi. Before the Onihime can say anything, Emi bows.
Emiko: <"I'm terribly sorry to keep you waiting, Tsutsumi-senpai. May I get you some tea or refresh-">
Her brilliant use of the overly polite keigo speech is interrupted as she spots both items on the table. Mrs. Okita smiles appreciatively at her daughter and then silently sees herself out.
Narumi: <"Emi-san, how are you? I haven't seen you for a while, and we all got really worried about you.">
Emiko: <"I'm deeply sorry to have caused you concern. But rest assured that you need not worry about me. 'Tis nothing serious.">
Emi bows slightly and has a seat on the small sofa next to Narumi. This close, she's reminded just why she decided to change herself. No way a messy delinquent would look right next to her.
Narumi: <"Emi-san, can I ask you something?">
Emiko: <"But of course.">
Narumi: <"Why are you talking like that? And dressed like that? Wasn't this just for a prank at Megumi-san's retirement party?">
Time for Emi to prove her dedication to this path.
Emiko: <"I hath realized that if I am to be a proper member of Shinijoshi, I must change. The girl I was before is no fit for this team, so I hath made myself a lady.">
Wait, Narumi doesn't seem impressed. What's going on?
Narumi: <"You don't need to change yourself, Emi-san. Did we make you feel like you had to?">
Emi shakes her head.
Emiko: <"Nothing of the sort. I simply saw the way everyone else carries themselves and how they look and decided to evolve. If you wish me to rejoin you, I shall be the most fitting member of Shinijoshi that I'm able to.">
Narumi sighs and locks eyes with Emi.
Narumi: "Can you at least stop that weird formal talking? I want to talk to you as a friend, not your senpai."
The switch to English catches Emi off guard, and she's unable to maintain the fancy facade.
Emiko: "Really, Narumi-senpai, there's nothin' t' be worried about. I'm just levelin' up. I mean, with everythin' goin' on I have to change. Stayin' the same ain't gonna make it better."
Immediately she curses herself and looks away. She can't burden Narumi with all that, so why did she even allude to them? Emi feels Narumi’s hand on her shoulder.
Narumi: “Make what better?”
Emiko: “It’s nothin’, you wouldn’t g-”
Wait, that’s not right. If anything Narumi’s the person who’d get it the most, isn’t she? At least with regards to the loss of Megumi in her day to day life. Emi Bites her lip, thoughts flying through her head at several kilometers a minute. Surely the Undisputed Champion shouldn’t be saddled with the baggage Emi’s dealing with. Yet Narumi’s offer to chat about it wears away at Emi’s stubbornness.
Emiko: “Okay. A lotta stuff’s happened and I’ve been tryin’ t’ keep it t’ myself, but that’s just made me hide away here. You okay listenin’ to a lot of stuff?”
Narumi nods reassuringly.
Narumi: “Of course, Shinijoshi are always there for each other. Lay it on me!”
There’s an eagerness to the ace’s words that convinces Emi it’s time. It’s okay.
Emiko: “Well it’s a lotta things, like I said. Where do I even friggin’ start? Guess - I guess it started when Megu-nee told me she had t’ retire..”
It starts there, and soon her emotional floodgates open. Everything roars out as it escapes her troubled heart. Losing Megumi, her sense of loneliness and being out of place, all of it. The tough girl’s eyes get watery but she doesn’t quite break down in tears.
Emiko: “And I’m wonderin’ if I even belong in Shinijoshi, y’know? How’s the weirdo kid with a bat fit in with three glamorous women? I ain’t an oni princess or a fancy gal with a girlfriend or a beautiful battleship, I’m just friggin’ - weird. And I thought that was ok, but it ain’t gettin’ me anywhere anymore. When I went out on Prime to rep Shinijoshi I got embarrassed and gave us a bad name. And now that I’ve been home I wonder if maybe it’s better for me t’ stay here and fix bikes. Leave the wrestlin’ to you three.”
With that said Emi looks absolutely exhausted from the effort. Narumi’s hand pats her shoulder.
Narumi: “That sounds like a lot. I’m so sorry you’ve been going through this - and I want to help. The choice you make is up to you, but we all want you back. We’ve - I’ve missed you. Do you want to rejoin us?”
Emi’s doubts linger but her heart aches for what’s being offered.
Emiko: “Of course! I wanna improve on what I’ve done. And I’m gonna be the most glamorous good girl I can! That way I’ll look right standin’ next t’ all of you!”
A grin crosses her lips as some of that confidence returns.
Narumi: “Hey, you don’t need to change anything about yourself for that. I like you just the way you are, so don’t force yourself to be someone you’re not.”
Emi shakes her head. She’s decided on this path.
Emiko: “No, I need t’ do this, Narumi-senpai. I need t’ grow up into a proper woman instead of bein’ a violent girl. If I’m a Shinijoshi, I’m gonna do it right. At least I’m gonna try. I wanna - I wanna be the kind of person Megu-nee will be proud of.”
The thought of her sister-in-law brings those tears out suddenly, and Emi starts shaking as she can no longer hold them back. Without warning she throws her arms around Narumi and just sits there, hugging her teammate. She even buries her face in Narumi’s shoulder for a moment as she struggles to regain her composure. In return, Narumi puts her arms around the Abnormal girl and pats her on the back. The embrace lingers on for a while, but eventually Emi starts to get her breathing under control. Those tears lessen as well, aided by her teammate’s words.
Narumi: “Emi-san, you don’t have to worry about that. I know she’s proud of you, whoever you choose to be. I am too. We all are.”
Slowly Emi lets go, her outburst subsiding a little. Maybe Narumi’s right. Maybe she shouldn’t worry so much. But she still needs to fit in with her teammates better.
Narumi: “Of course.”
Emiko: “Then - I wanna try out bein’ more proper. More fancy. Like you! Lemme give it a shot, and if it ain’t workin’ tell me. But let me try.”
Narumi nods in agreement.
Narumi: “Sure thing. Just tell me one thing - are you ready to fight on?”
Emi smirks. She knows the answer to that.
Emiko: “You bet your ass.. I mean, of course. I hath been ready my whole life.”
She affects the fancy accent she’s heard in a lot of western dramas other women she knows seems to like. Clearly it’s how a fancy proper woman speaks. Narumi sighs at hearing it, but doesn’t say anything about it.
Narumi: “Then get packed up and let’s hit the road!”
Emiko: “I can’t wait t’ show you the new gear I designed. It’s gonna look way more awesome when we team up!”
She pauses, then bows a little to her teammate.
Emiko: “And thanks for comin’ for me. I don’t know if I’d be comin’ back if you hadn’t.”
Narumi: “I wouldn’t have forgiven myself if I just left you.”
Emiko: “I’m gonna make you all proud. I promise.”