Prompt from a Discord server member:

Kyoko is exposed to the former gang member side of Junko by way of Madoka knowing how to do crimey stuff and is flabbergasted.

Kyoko stared at a wall. Well, a shelf. But she didn't really see it. Everything they had learned earlier was still making her mind rearrange itself. Too much fantastical spirit bullshit she would have dismissed as insanity just a week ago. Even though she had been losing her mind as she descended toward being a Witch, she still would have known it was ridiculous. But it was really real and everything about her mind was screeching around accepting it.

The others were similarly... not overwhelmed, just... thinking. Yeah. Like she was. Just thinking. Or trying not to think. They had all been staring around in silence. Sometimes one of them tried to start conversation, but it sputtered out. The girls who had already known sat around with them looking awkward. Homura had the bonus of looking exhausted as she leaned into Madoka, her role in the explanation having been rough on her.

Kyoko was reminded of things she had said and skittered away from thinking about them.

"Hey," Karin said loudly. Everyone turned to her. "Let's talk about something normal."

Everyone looked around at each other. Sayaka quietly said, "Like what?"

They lapsed into silence again.

"Oh!" Madoka said. Everyone looked at her. She looked at Kyoko with determination. "There was something I wanted to talk to you about, Kyoko!"

Kyoko shifted uneasily, not liking the attention. "Yeah?"

"I noticed you trying to slip the magic rope like cuffs before everything went weird," Madoka said with a frown. "But dislocating should be an absolute last resort when in immediate danger because you'll break other things. Mama's left thumb and wrist hurt bad when it's raining because she did it once when she was in the gang. She said she regrets it."

Kyoko stared at Madoka. What the entire fuck. When Bosslady Mom was in the what? And this was something normal?

She faked nonchalance and shrugged. "I just heal it with magic."

Madoka pouted. "Mama says you always need to know how to do things in different ways. And if there are ways that don't hurt yourself you should try those first. You should learn other ways."

Kyoko snorted. "I'm fine doing it my way."

Sayaka straightened from her slump. Her mouth turned into a sly little grin. "What, think it'll be too hard for you?"

Kyoko glared at her. Sayaka's grin widened. Bitch. Now she couldn't refuse to learn without being mocked. Which Karin looked like she was going to do in short order.

Kyoko rolled her eyes and snapped, "Of course not." She looked at Madoka and airily said, "But I doubt your mom has time to teach me anything."

Madoka perked up. "Oh, no, I can teach you!"


Madoka looked aside with a pout and mumbled, "I'm not very good with the paper clip shim method." She faced forward again and looked cheerful. "But I do know others!"

Everyone but Sayaka stared at Madoka in disbelief.

Kyoko looked at Sayaka sideways. "Why are you not surprised by this?"

Sayaka smiled. "Mrs. Kaname taught me, too. She said sometimes burglars have cuffs so I should know how to save myself."

"Mama said it's a necessary life skill," Madoka chirped.

Kyoko and the others stared. Right. Sure.

What even was with Bosslady Mom.

Madoka frowned and looked at the ceiling, thinking. "Where would I get handcuffs, though? I don't think Mama would have brought hers..."

"Your mom has handcuffs?" Yuzu asked in confusion.

"Mama keeps a pair of handcuffs to practice with to keep her skills sharp," Madoka confirmed with a nod.

Sayaka hummed in doubtful thought. "Yeah, they definitely wouldn't be important enough to bring here."

"Homura," Karin gasped, "Homura. Do you have some in your bag of tricks?"

Kyoko scoffed at the idea but Homura didn't say no. Instead, she avoided eye contact.

Mami's eyes widened. "Really, Homura?"

Homura looked at them defiantly. "What? They were just laying there in the yakuza armory so I took them just in case."

"The what," Kyoko said flatly.

Karin rocked in place like an eager child with a story to tell and gleefully crowed, "Homura stops time and steals weapons and stuff from the yakuza and JSDF!"

"WHAT?!" Kyoko shrilled along with most of those present.

What was with these weird people?

Sayaka looked torn. "The yakuza, yeah, but the JSDF? That's... that's like... big crime."

Homura shrugged and pushed her hair behind her ear. "I need the weapons to fight Witches and they can get more."

Kyoko wondered how much of that "more" also ended up in the girl's shield.

Sayaka looked uneasy, but reluctantly nodded.

"Besides, I make the bombs myself," Homura said with a touch of defensiveness.

Kyoko's brain just flatlined. Who the hell had she fallen in with? Shinigami bullshit aside.

Karin clapped her hands sharply and loudly said, "Okay! We're getting off-topic! Handcuffs!"

"You're the one who went off-topic," Kyoko grumbled.

Homura sighed, manifested her shield, reached into it, and pulled out a pair of handcuffs. She handed them to Madoka, who thanked her as if this was totally normal. Then she asked if Homura had paperclips and of fucking course she did. Did she have bobby pins? Of course she did.

Madoka beckoned Kyoko over with a wave. "Come on, I'll show you."

Karin threw her arm in the air like she was at school and said, "I wanna see!"

They all ended up seated in a half circle around Madoka. She opened a cuff and pointed at parts as she cheerfully identified them. "The swingy thing is the shackle, and there's these clock-gear teethy things on it called a ratchet. Those lock up with the teethy things inside this thick part. Those are the important parts. They way it opens is pushing the inside teeth away from the teeth on the shackle."

This lecture was bizarre coming from the happy drugs magic pink ball of fluff picture of innocence. Like a bonus crack in reality. At least Homura looked as mind-blown as Kyoko was.

"Now, obviously the easiest way is with the key!" Madoka said with a smile as she shut the cuffs. She put the key in the hole. "Turn it this way." Snap. Open.

Kyoko rolled her eyes. "Wow, impressive."

Sayaka smacked her shoulder and glared at her.

"If you don't have a key," Madoka blithely continued, "the stuff from TV like bobby pins and paper clips do work." She closed the cuffs and took a paper clip from the box Homura had set out. "You just put the loopy part in and jiggle it around until it clicks." She did so. It took several minutes of trying, but the cuffs popped open. Then she repeated more quickly with the bobby pin. Then she pouted. "I'm not as good with the paperclip. I can do it like this so I could help someone else get out but I'm bad at doing it while the cuffs are on me."

Homura slowly turned her head to look at Madoka's face. "When... handcuffs are... on you?"

"Oh, yeah," Sayaka said with a nod. "Mrs. Kaname said there's no point knowing how to do this stuff if you don't know how to do it on yourself."

Okay. That made sense. When you ignored that it was these two well-off middle-schoolers who knew how to do it.

"So then there's the stuff without the keyhole," Madoka continued. She looked up. "Homura, do you have a shim?"

Homura looked uneasy. "What is that?"

"A skinny flat metal thing that fits in this part of the cuff," Madoka said, pointing. "Mama said she used to keep one tucked in her shoelaces and had a paperclip she could make into one in the back pocket of her jeans."

"Ah. No."

Kyoko wondered just how crimey Bosslady Mom had been she was younger and how she had gotten where she was now.

...Was she still crimey?

Were the Kanames some kind of crime family? Were they recruiting Sayaka?

Madoka hummed in disappointment. "Anyway. Shimming is riskier because you have to tighten the cuff while sticking the thingy in this hole and getting it between the teeth. And if you mess up and tighten it too much, you'll lose circulation in your hands."

"Getting them too tight hurts," Sayaka added.

"You can bend a paperclip like this," Madoka demonstrated. Then she tried whatever it was and ended up huffing in frustration. "I'm bad with paperclips."

Sayaka silently made grabby hands. When Madoka handed over the cuffs and clip, she did the thing with the paperclip and click! Open.

They were recruiting Sayaka.

"You can wear a barrette like Sayaka's and break it up to be a shim," Madoka said helpfully. "That's why Mama always wears a barrette."

Sayaka reached up and patted her barrettes with a grin. "If I'm ever at one of those bank robberies where they cuff the security guard with their own cuffs, I could get them out!" She turned to Homura. "Hey, Homura. I don't wanna break these. Gimme my hair stuff?"

Homura gave her a look.

"Oh! Please?"

Homura gave her a box. Sayaka shuffled the mess within around and fished out more barrettes. She gave one to Madoka and took one for herself. They both proceeded to bend and break and twist them until they had little flat strips of metal. First Madoka picked the cuffs, then Sayaka did. Both were pleased with themselves. Kyoko just gave up on her sense of normalcy. It must be broken.

Then Sayaka cuffed Madoka and they all sat and stared as Madoka worked on picking the keyhole with the bobby pin. Eventual success. Then Sayaka re-cuffed her and gave her a barrette. Madoka did the bendy-breaky thing and got out on the second try.

"Wanna take a turn, Sayaka?" Madoka asked happily. Then she cuffed Sayaka and they watched her work.

"We can't do it behind our backs but Mrs. Kaname had us practice a lot in front of us so we're decent this way," Sayaka said proudly as the cuff popped.

Kyoko felt dazed. Homura looked dazed. Everyone was dazed.

Except for Karin, who bounced in place. "Ooh! Ooh! I wanna try!"

So Homura got more handcuffs out of her shield and they all sat and practiced escaping them as if this was a perfectly normal, wholesome slumber party activity.

The look on Orangeygo's face when he came in to call them to dinner was absolute gold, though.

They all went in the dining room. Kyoko stopped beside her chair and stared at Bosslady Mom. At her cute black bow barrette.

Was she really Crimeboss Mom?