A/N: I blame the DLC, leave me alone.
During the early days of their debut, there was a clear clash of how critics and netizens regarded Marina and Pearl. Marina was a sure fire hit, her beauty and talent made her popular almost instantly but with Pearl it was mostly divided.
While a good chunk thought she was cute, there was a pretty vocal front that thought compared to Marina she was ugly and then there was the small bit of fans from her old rock days bashing her for being a sell out and becoming an idol.
Those comments hurt Marina more than they did Pearl who brushed them off pretty quickly, "I've been in the entertainment business for awhile Mar, I'm used to it."
Pearl scoffed from where she sat on the sofa, they had a busy schedule today and were unwinding at the Inkling's mansion. Usually they would've been watching movies or reruns of dramas on tv, but with a live coming up soon, Marina felt like checking online comments to temper fan excitement and well…
She should've known not to.
"Honestly calling me ugly is weak," Pearl stopped to look up at her from her phone, "they should come up with something more biting, like a death threat."
"Pearl!" Marina really didn't want to think of anyone going so far as to want to kill her friend or even try to do it.
"What, come on that won't happen. My dad hired like crazy good security, plus like hell I'm gonna let anyone ice me." Pearl pushed off from her seat and plopped down next to Marina.
"Come on, it's not like I don't have fans and stop reading online forums. You'll just bum yourself out." She emphasized her point by closing Marina's laptop. "Look, it'll be fine. How about we order take out and watch a movie, make you feel better?"
Marina nodded, but the problem still stuck around in the back of her mind.
As the night progressed, Pearl passed out on the couch and Marina was left to clean up their empty takeout boxes, she made a promise to figure out a way to prove those antis wrong.
The sun had already set when they made it to Inkopolis, they had made sure to land somewhere inconspicuous but kinda hard when their helicopter was decked out so ostentatiously. Their agency had called once they stepped off the chopper and Pearl was stuck having to explain why every inkling in the city thought they were having a guerilla live.
Marina hung back a bit but was waved off to go ahead by Pearl, she walked with 8, Cuttlefish and Agent 3 into their agency building and was immediately intercepted by staff asking questions a mile a minute. 8 hid behind her and Marina tried her best to come up with excuses and practically pushed everyone into their dressing room.
Marina sighed, leaning against the door, "Our manager is not gonna like this at all…"
Agent 3 wobbled where they stood, "Ugh Cap, I think I have a concussion."
Cuttlefish stroked his beard, "Ah then we should take you to the hospital, then I gotta get home for dinner."
"I'll call you a cab, and there's a privacy exit you can take too."
After Cuttlefish and Agent 3 left, Marina was left with 8 who had been quietly standing off to the side, trying to hide next to the giant racks of clothes. They looked so small and lost, Marina was reminded of how she felt when she first left for the surface.
She smiled, "How about we dress you in something more comfortable, at least so you don't draw too much attention."
8 just blinks up at her and nods shyly.
Marina scanned over the clothes in the room, "I think my clothes would be too big for you, Pearl's might be closer to your size maybe…"
She pulled out an old outfit Pearl had stowed away for whenever they were at work and wanted to go out incognito for breaks.
"This might be a little tight, but I think it'll be fine." Marina handed the clothes to 8 and directed them towards the room divider they used to change behind.
A moment later, Marina could hear Pearl's voice coming down the hall and stopped before entering the room, she looked annoyed. "Okay so I talked down our manager and producer, but now we kinda have to hold a live to make up for it. There goes our day off…"
She plopped down in one of the chairs, pulling down her hood and setting her crown on the table.
Marina sat across from her, grabbing for the crown and running her fingers over the gem embedded in them, "We knew there was no hiding taking the helicopter, especially since we did sort of hijack it."
The gems were real, she knows because she was there when Pearl picked it up from her family's jeweler. Marina really didn't know the vastness of Pearl's wealth, she just enjoyed the perks when she could.
"It's technically our chopper, I mean I bought it."
"Your DAD bought it for the company for us to use."
Marina sighed but smiled, Pearl's impulsive ridiculousness always made her smile even when it exasperated her.
Both girls turned to see 8 peeking out from behind the divider, they gingerly stepped out in front of them, pulling at the hoodie's sleeves.
"Oh hey, my clothes actually fit you?" Pearl got up and moved over towards 8, picking a bit of lint off before pulling the hood over their head. "Looks good, you can keep them."
8, stunned, pulled at the clothes, "R-really?"
"Yeah, consider it a gift."
One of many, Marina thought as she smiled.
They were able to leave through the privacy of the company parking lot, heading towards their shared apartment instead of Pearl's mansion, Marina couldn't help but watch how 8 stuck close to Pearl through the rest of the night until they fell asleep.
8 was able to integrate as well as the other Octolings that made it to Inkopolis, there was some small bit of hubbub among adults but honestly it wasn't that big of a deal and it died down pretty quickly.
It was an interesting change though, the Square was now filled with Inklings and Octolings alike, hanging out, even joining teams for turf war and doing jobs for Grizz (but that was debatable because honestly working there was still sketchy as hell).
And while they had been busy with their schedules, they still made time for 8 no matter what. While everything seem to go back to normalcy, there was a significant change that was noticeable and that was how Pearl's popularity surged quite a bit. She always had a decent amount of fans, a bit of a slow crawl in the beginning but as of now whenever they did handshake events or concerts, the amount of pink lightsticks and merch sold between them both was about equal.
"We're just hitting our prime, Marina. See what I mean about worrying over nothing." She knew Pearl was happy about it, but also she was too much of a "professional" to really show it, at least between them both (she bragged a little during MCs and variety shows).
It at least eased Marina, she never really let go of the thought of the comments she had read so long ago. Knowing that, she was really curious since it happened so suddenly, she would get the answer during one of their rare day offs.
"All the Octolings I know really like Pearl."
8 sipped their drink, kicking their feet under the table.
Pearl had left to go outside and answer a call from her dad leaving them both inside the cafe they were in.
8 nodded, "A lot of them say she's cute and they like her rapping, also she's fun to watch during concerts."
Now that Marina thought about it a bit more, there were more Octolings in Pearl's lines during handshakes events. Was it an Octoling thing? No that didn't make sense, she already liked Pearl but they were friends and other reasons like basically taking in a complete stranger and opening up her home to her. Either way, it was nice to know.
It was then Marina had a stroke of genius.
"Hey 8, we have a concert coming up, do you think you can do me a favor?"
Marina and Pearl stood side by side in their ending poses, breathing heavily as the last beats of Muck Warfare tempered off.
Pearl jumped up and yelled, "Hope you enjoyed that one, everyone! Unfortunately, our next song is our last one for tonight."
The entire crowd groaned in disappointed, but she waved them off, "Yeah I know, we'd love to do this all night but we gotta prepare for tomorrow. We'll see ya at Tower Records! Got anything left to to say Marina?"
The Octoling nodded, she had been waiting for this moment for weeks, 8 and her planning were finally about to pay off.
She just needed to play it smoothly and hope Pearl's improve skills handle her going off script for this. Marina moved out from behind her turntables, "I have one thing left to say Pearlie. EVERYONE ARE YOU READY?!"
She looked out of the corner of her eye, seeing Pearl's confused face as the crowd yelled out a booming yes.
Marina grabbed Pearl's hand, flashing a quick smile before turning back to the crowd. "1, 2, 3!"
The entire crowd in Budokan lit up with bright pink lightsticks before they and Marina both yelled out together, "PEARL WE LOVE YOU!"
Both girls could feel the sound rumbling even from the stage, Pearl was stunned and gripped Marina's hand tighter as their fans cheered, the entire venue bathed in a pink glow.
The Inkling turned towards the other girl, fighting back tears that were close to spilling down her face. Marina smiled, "I know you always said it never bothered you when antis and critics were harsh about you, but I couldn't let it go." She threaded their fingers together, the crowd dying down a bit as she spoke. "Besides, the only one allowed to be mean to you… is me."
The crowd ooooh'ed at that, fanservice was always something to throw out from time to time, even if it had more weight than Marina would like to admit. "What do you think?"
Pearl cleared her throat and turned away from the crowd and Marina, waved her hand in the air. "It was okay."
The crowd laughed, their fans were used to how Pearl acted, but Marina could see the tips of her ears turning red.
"But y'know Marina, maybe I like it when you're mean to me."
The crowd exploded into loud cheering and whistles, Marina could feel her face flush hot as she gazed at her friend's smug grin. This was why Pearl was so much better at improv than her.
"Ah-ah right.. we should get to our last song."
"Hey, did you guys know sometimes Marina asks to sleep in my bed with me."
Their fans had a field day after that night, but it was worth it. Riding back home to their shared apartment, Marina couldn't help the warmth of seeing Pearl's smile and feeling her thumb brush against her knuckles.