A/N: For those of you who have read 'Master and Apprentice Volume 2,' you've probably noticed that Junko is - to put it lightly - not very well-developed as a character. There's a lot of instances in the series where her actions or the events just don't make sense (like becoming a geisha to avenge her parents' deaths instead of trying to become a samurai or something). Thus, I've decided to try and fill in the holes in her characterization. So if you're a big BIG fan of M&A II Junko and will get offended by her change of past, personality, or intentions, then perhaps you're better off reading something else.
Also please remember that this is an attempt to flesh her out, meaning that her way of thinking and actions at the beginning will not be the same as at the end.
It did not make sense.
None of it made sense.
This wasn't supposed to happen. She was supposed to be over her parents' deaths. Hyata was supposed to mean nothing to her. She was supposed to still be in the building, chatting with the clients for the night. And yet she wasn't.
Because Hyata had led her into his private office. Because he had laid his hand on her cheek like he had at her father's funeral. Because she had panicked.
The small dagger she always carried had never been meant for use this way. It was for protection - for an emergency. There had been stories on the news of geisha being stalked and sometimes grabbed at while on the street. When the okaasan of her house declared that they couldn't afford a security escort, Junko had taken her safety into her own hands and obtained a forearm sheath. It was small, easily hidden, and gave her a sense of security, even if she remembered little to nothing on how to properly use it.
Cursing quietly to herself, Junko frantically started hacking away at her kimono with the dagger, trying her best to ignore the warm, sticky blood of her victim on her hand and the blade. Why she'd taken the weapon from the man's body, she didn't know. She could hear shouting behind her, followed by the dreaded words, "THERE! She's over there!"
Her head felt light with sickness and panic, and her legs almost gave away. A final slash, and a puddle of silk fell behind her. A part of her - probably the part that couldn't believe this was happening - felt guilty about the ruined kimono. The damn thing was expensive.
She had only managed to slice off half of one layer, but it was enough to give her legs more space. She ran faster as she grabbed and tugged at the various pins and ornaments in her hair. She flung them behind her without looking, and heard a yakuza curse as a pin hit him in the face.
Still quietly cursing, Junko continued hacking away at her dress. Although she had always admired the geisha dress, currently, it was her worst enemy. Not only was it practically impossible to run in, but the silk was thick and hard to cut through.
She screamed when a hand clamped down on her arm and made a wild slash behind her with the dagger. The blade connected with flesh, and she felt warmth on her hand. The grip on her arm loosened.
Her stomach roiled at the pained cry that followed, but she kept on running. I'm going to die. I'm going to die. The words repeated themselves over and over in her head. It brought back memories of that fateful day, the dagger in her mother's chest. It was like the intervening years hadn't happened. She was fifteen again and they were right there, out for her blood. And this time they'd seen her. Junko wasn't afraid of dying; she'd come to accept the fact that she was going to eventually. But it was an abstract, peaceful death. Anything to do with the yakuza brought that same terror into her throat. She knew how they tortured and slaughtered people.
Headlights suddenly filled her vision, and she heard the screech of tires. "Sorry, sorry!" she blurted as she hurried across the street. Too late, her mind piped up that being hit by a car would be a quicker death than at the hands of the yakuza.
Tommy blinked in confusion and surprise as he watched a dozen or so men run after the woman with the tattered dress. After a second of contemplation, he decided that a bedraggled-looking woman chased by a man wasn't an unusual sight in this big city, however disgusting the reality was. But by that many men? Good grief, either the woman had done something to royally piss them off, or she just so happened to be at the wrong place at a very wrong time.
He stayed where he was, with a foot on the ground to steady his motorcycle. It would be absolutely wrong to leave, but at the same time, he didn't exactly think of himself as the hero type. He could call the police, but they wouldn't be able to get here in time. But if he saved the woman, he would have to deal with her after the confrontation.
The sound of bodies being hit reached his ears, and his blood briefly ran cold before he heard a harsh male grunt. Interesting. He pulled his motorcycle to the side and went to investigate.
Tommy had been in a lot of fights and battles, and he knew how instantaneous his actions could become when he had adrenaline running through his veins. Every move was pure reflex; there was absolutely no time to think. For someone in a torn dress with strands of hair flying everywhere, the woman was fighting back well. To any other person, she might have appeared to be actually winning, but Tommy's ears and experience told a completely different story.
The woman had absolutely no idea what she was doing. She stumbled, looked around frantically, and let out a short yelp every now and then whenever a man charged at her. Her heart-rate was through the roof, and her eyes were wide with panic and fear. It was obvious she was out of shape and had never been in a real fight before.
And yet... she wasn't bad. At least it was clear she had had some form of martial arts training in the past. With help, she could improve greatly. And the Arashikage badly needed more members...
When a kick to the ribs sent the woman sprawling to the ground, Tommy snapped out of his musings and stepped into the alleyway. "HEY!" Several heads turned to look at him. He noticed the tattoos peeking out from under their collars. Yakuza, huh? That cleared things up a bit. Sort of. "What's the deal here?"
"None of your business," one of them spat as he brandished a knife. "Move along."
Tommy leaned against a wall and crossed his arms. "Yeah, I don't think so. Tell me, I'm curious - what did this woman do to get-" He paused as his eyes darted around, counting. "-fourteen of you to go after her?"
"I said none of your damn business." Knife guy started approaching. "Scram, before I cut your intruding face wide open."
"It was a simple question." Tommy rolled his eyes. "Jeesus, why are questions like these so difficult for some people to answer? Maybe that kick she gave you knocked loose a few brain cells."
"Wise guy, huh?" The man sneered. "You're going to pay for that!" He thrust his knife at Tommy. Or at least where he thought he was.
Junko was in more pain than she had ever experienced in her life. She gasped for breath, yet every motion brought on a wave of pain in her side. With a sense of dread, she decided that the yakuza who kicked her had done more damage than she thought.
She closed her eyes, half-begging for death to come and half-wishing for her parents to materialize in front of her and make things alright.
An unconscious man tumbled beside her, forcing her to open her eyes. What was going on? She couldn't quite see. All she saw were... motions, then bodies slumping or flying to the floor. Blinking rapidly in an attempt to clear her vision, she made out a human form sort of... disappearing and materializing between the yakuza like a ghost.
How strange. A supernatural being coming to her aid. Perhaps her parents were coming for her after all. She watched, blank-faced, as the form weaved and flew before her eyes.
Then, as quickly as it had started, the fight was over. Thirteen unconscious bodies lay scattered in the alleyway as Tommy pulled the last yakuza up. "Perhaps you can answer what your buddy failed to."
The man went white. "She killed our boss in his own office! We were just trying to avenge him, that's all!" he blurted.
Tommy grinned. "Thanks for the info." He pinched a sleeping point on the man's arm before carefully lowering him to the ground.
With the fight over, an uncomfortable silence filled the air. Tommy found himself trying to look at and away from the woman at the same time. It was obvious that, during the scuffle, the men had grabbed at her torn dress in efforts to keep her still and ended up ripping pieces of it off. Although she was still more or less covered, the amount of exposed skin did not help to make the situation less awkward.
Taking a deep breath, Tommy slowly walked over to the shaking woman. "Hey... um... are you alright?" He asked lamely, despite already knowing the answer.
"No, I'm n-not alright." Well, there was his answer. "I-I can't... n-no, I cannot-" She was stuttering and couldn't get much out.
Tommy listened patiently for a few minutes. It did no good. All he got was that something was gone, and it had deeply affected her. She was a trembling, crying mess on the ground, and he wasn't sure what he was supposed to do. He couldn't just leave her - that would leave her to the mercy of the police or any more incoming yakuza. The yakuza would kill her, and the police would arrest her for murder. Either way, it was a waste of potential.
But he'd be utterly lying to himself if he said he liked being in this position. He wasn't used to comforting people, especially those crying or in shock. It wasn't his specialty; in fact, part of his job description involved shocking people or make them cry.
He should have thought this through more carefully. This was a horrible approach.
He kneeled on the ground to appear less intimidating and licked his lips before speaking, "Look, I know you're scared, but you need to stay calm. Do you hear me? You have to stay cal-"
At that moment, Junko made the bad choice of looking at her blood-covered hand. She started swiping her hand on the shreds of her dress in a futile attempt to get rid of the blood. "Hey! Calm down, you'll make it worse." Tommy stilled her wrist and inspected her hand. He had been expecting an injury of some kind, but there was none. The skin on her knuckles was a little peeled, but not enough to cause bleeding.
Sighing, he wished for his aunt. She would know what to do.
He glanced upwards at the moon. It was getting late. They had to move. At least the woman wasn't crying anymore, just whimpering and staring at him with glassy eyes. He fought the urge to groan. At the way things were going, he was starting to regret his decision to intervene. Maybe he should knock her out and carry her to the nearest hospital. That could work, until the police decided to look there.
A hand on his knee made him look down. "Who..." her voice came out as a weak, grainy whisper, and she cleared her throat before trying again. "Who are you?"
He paused for a second. "You may call me Thomas. Can you stand?"
She gave him a blank look before nodding hesitantly. "Thomas," she pronounced with some difficulty.
"Or Tommy. Up to you." He watched as she began the slow process of getting her feet under her. She raised her head, took one look at the bodies strewn around, and paled.
"Not dead, not dead, not dead," Tommy said hurriedly, grabbing her arm as her knees buckled. "They're not dead. Just knocked out."
Junko stared open-mouthed at him, then back to the yakuza, then back to him. "Did you...?"
"... Maybe. Do you have a place to go? Friend's house, maybe? Or a relative's?" She shook her head. "No? Alright. Uhh... home, maybe?" He noticed the ruined white makeup on her face and the pins left in her sweat-matted hair. Nobody wore those unless... "Or is home not a preferable option?"
She shook her head again.
"Right, then. Well... I can take you somewhere safe, but only if you trust me."
As soon as the words left his mouth, he realized how stupid he sounded. The chances of her trusting him after seeing him take down more than a dozen yakuza were slim to none. And he wouldn't be surprised if his offer to take her to safety made her highly suspicious of him.
She blinked several times, gazing at him, before slowly nodding her head.
Never mind, then. Forget physical injuries - maybe her brain had taken a harder blow than he thought. "Can you walk?"
Another nod, then, wrapping her arms around herself, she took a few steps. Tommy nodded approvingly before slipping out of his jacket and draping it across her shoulders. She obviously wasn't prepared for the weight, and gasped.
He watched her wince, favoring one side. Broken rib, probably. "Relax. Nothing sets off an alarm like a disheveled woman dressed in bloody rags. Put it on."
Shaking a little, she obeyed. The jacket was warm and unusually heavy. When she patted around in confusion, Tommy reached into unseen pockets and pulled out a considerable number of sharp, pointy objects. "Sorry." With care, he separated the weapons and shoved them in compartments on the motorcycle.
All Junko could do was stare in surprise. She could have sworn she saw a shuriken, like in those museum exhibits. Nobody used those. That said something about him, she just couldn't think-
Tommy firmly grabbed the handles on his motorcycle and lifted the kickstand. "Let's go."
"Aren't we r-riding?" she asked as she hurried to keep up with him. Her side protested, and she had to keep herself from grimacing.
He looked at her as if she'd suggested they jump off a skyscraper. "If you pass out while walking next to me, at least I can catch you. If you pass out while we're on a motorcycle going forty kilometers an hour, there's not much I can do to keep you from falling, is there?"
Ducking her head, Junko continued walking in silence. Her mind still felt a bit fuzzy from the events of the night and her side throbbed. It was hard to imagine that, just a few hours ago, all she had to look forward to for the day was keeping the clients entertained with banter. Now she was following a stranger to who-knows-where. She supposed it was an idiotic choice on her part, but at the moment, she wanted nothing more than curl up, fall asleep and forget about everything.
Clutching the front of the jacket close to her chest, she muttered a quiet plea for her parents to watch out for her. In front of her, Tommy's grip on the handlebars tightened slightly as he listened.