This was supposed to have stopped years ago. Mari promises she'll give it all up each time she's discovered, but she always falls back into the habit. Again and again she's spotted with a cut or bruise, and Moe knows she's been out playing cops and robbers once more. Moe didn't mind at first, she was a willing participant for so long, but it's come time to put a stop to it. They're getting too old, they're not the agile teenagers the once were, and close-calls have become the norm. But Mari's still Flamenco Diamond, going it alone in secret without Sapphire or Ruby, without anyone to back her up, without anyone to restrain her.
Mizuki had once suggested that someday Mari would go too far, but Moe had brushed aside that comment. And if she had any doubt, she left those fears unsaid, locking them away in the recesses of her mind where she wouldn't have to dwell on them.
Why did she have to be wrong ?
It's 4.49am when Mari shows up at Moe's door, still dressed like Diamond, with blood caked on her knuckles. Moe knows instantly that something isn't right, Mari doesn't come looking for help, Mari doesn't make that expression.
Moe takes her by the hand and pulls her inside before someone catches a glimpse of her, unlikely as it is, and sets her down on the couch. All the while, Mari looks soulless. Moe makes her way into the bathroom to fetch the first aid kit, and Mari stares on ahead, like some blank unfeeling zombie.
"What happened ?"
No answer. Not even a flinch when the antiseptic stings her hands. Only now in the well-lit sitting room, can Moe see that the blood is not restricted to Mari's hands. It's dripping from her baton. Her dress is mostly red now, and when Moe gets to her knees to tend to the wounds on Mari's legs, the stench of iron fills her lungs.
"You don't have to tell me but..." She pauses there. "Please don't shut me out." She chooses not to add 'again.'
"He wasn't breathing when I left." Mari doesn't say anything more than that, she doesn't know anything more. She doesn't know if she's a killer or not.
Moe smiles, weakly trying to seem comforting or empathetic. Her bottom lip covers her top to keep it from shaking, but eventually the tears start falling. They land in Mari's lap, wetting the blood all over again. It only makes her tears flow faster. She doesn't allow herself to cry for long; she's needed for Mari's sake. She needs to be brave, she needs to clean up this mess.
She guides Mari into the bedroom, where she offers her a spare set of pyjamas to change into, and takes the Flamenco Diamond outfit in exchange. Mari climbs into bed, and Moe doesn't follow, as much as she wants too. She'd like to lie beside her to comfort or her, or maybe she'd just be soothing herself, but she thinks it's best that Mari gets some time to herself. Hopefully her tiredness will allow her mind to shut off, and she'll get a good night's sleep.
Unlike Mari, Moe has already had her night's rest, and she heads to the kitchen to fetch a pair of scissors. She cuts the jewels from the dress' neckline, one by one. They won't burn, nor will the baton, she'll have to find another way to dispose of those. But the dress, that will, and the evidence will turn to ash.
Moe knows that Mari will be caught in time; this isn't the type of problem that goes away if you ignore it. But Moe will hide that skeleton in her closet for as long as she can. If anyone asks, Mari spent the night with her. She'll be her alibi, she'll bury her secret.
This will catch up to Mari eventually, but Moe will be alongside her running until then.