Two years can change a lot in someone, even when it seemed that nothing changed at all.
Case in point--Mojo Jojo.
Just two years ago, he had an encounter with a certain blue-eyed heroine; an encounter that completely changed his paradigms and priorities. He had found perhaps the best thing to happen to his quest for meaning to his existence. Nowadays, meaningless destruction and chaos meant nothing to him. Since the encounter two years ago, he began to crave something...more. He didnt want the old song-and-dance he'd been playing for twelve years with the Powerpuff Girls. He wanted an all-out epic battle that would once-and-for-all determine the victor. And he wanted to do it himself, with no help from anyone or anything.
And he wanted it to be between himself and just Bubbles.
Two years of personal study had brought him to that conclusion. He had fought both Blossom and Buttercup, and both times, used half of what he had in his personal arson. It had been tough, but by just using a combination of his own new found gift of martial arts and a bit of technology, he found what he had confirmed two years ago--neither of the two were a true challenge for him anymore.
Quite on purpose, really, he had avoided any form of conflict with Bubbles. It wasnt that hard, considering that each time he attacked the city, Bubbles was never once called to save it. That actually fueled a bit of contempt for the city inside of him that caused him to cause more damage than he actually meant. He gathered that even in two years, Bubbles still had not revealed her true strength. But he was just fine with that.
Now, two years, four months, and two days since Mojo last spoke with Bubbles, he was in his observatory, overlooking Townsville with sharp eyes. He knew that around this time, all three girls would be making their final rounds for the day. Three streaks of pink, green, and blue would wind around the city like protective ribbons of justice...pah.
As he watched, noting absently that it was about to rain, he finally saw the streaks of light, right on schedule, but immediately noticed something...off.
The blue light was absent from the sky.
Mojo made a thoughtful sound and continued to watch, expecting the blue light that was Bubbles to appear a little later, to make the final sweep before returning home. But after five minutes of watching, he saw no blue. The pink and green lights made a final sweep and then vanished to the outskirts of the city, not to appear until the next emergency.
Still about fifteen minutes after the pink and green lights faded, Mojo kept looking over the city. It wasnt like Bubbles to miss an end-of-day sweep of the city; perhaps she was sick? It was the only logical explanation he could think of. Finally, after nearly a half-hour of fruitless searches for a blue light, Mojo turned from the window to focus on his own tasks--dinner and a quiet evening reading.
Among his more practical skills developed outside of fighting, Mojo couldnt help but think that night, was his culinary skills. Tonight was roasted chicken with an orange and ginger glaze with boiled garlic potatoes, and chocolate and vanilla mousse for dessert. Pair it off with red wine, and it was a perfect Friday night dinner.
He had everything set nicely on the table and was about to sit down when he was snapped out of his happy mood by the sound of his doorbell ringing. He ground his teeth together and waited for whoever it was to go away. There was a twenty-second pause, and then it rang again, this time accompanied with a loud, insistant knock.
Cursing the fact that he even had a doorbell to begin with, he growled and stalked toward the door and swung it open, prepared to give whoever it was a very harsh verbal berating, when he froze.
It was Bubbles.
At very first glance, it was difficult to tell, because it was now dark and the rain was pouring down hard, but also because her soaked golden hair was in her face and her raincoat was wrapped tightly around her. But he could in fact tell that it was her. And he couldnt bring himself to yell at her, eight at night and pouring outside be damned.
Bubbles raised her head and with a shaking hand pulled her hair away from the left side of her face to look at him without hindrance. "Um...h-hi, M-Mojo," she stuttered, her voice not sounding at all like she was about to turn 18; it sounded like she was just a little girl again, and that bothered Mojo for some reason. She shivered and gave him an innocent smile through what was obviously a pained expression. "I'm...I'm not b-bothering you, am I...?"
Without a word, Mojo stepped aside and gestured for Bubbles to come inside. She did so immediately, and stood stock still next to the door as Mojo closed it and looked her over. She looked terrible, like she had been thrown into a pool and then drug through the street. What was worse, he could tell just by looking at her bare hands that she was freezing cold.
They stood in silence for a few moments before Mojo finally spoke.
"...Are you alright?"
He almost regretted speaking up when Bubbles began to cry. And not just cry, but all-out bawl. She buried her face in her hands and sobbed as Mojo stood a distance from her, not knowing at all what to do. He wasnt accustomed to this kind of situation, and was unsure of what to do to make her stop. He almost sighed with relief when Bubbles pulled herself together with some difficulty and wiped at her eyes.
"I'm....I'm so sorry," she apologized, trying to dry her eyes with her still wet hands. "I...I didnt mean to b-bust in on you like this...I'll...I'll just go..." She reached for the door, but was stopped when Mojo grabbed her wrist to stop her. She looked at him in surprise.
Mojo sighed and pulled her further into the observatory and to the bathroom. "...Dry off first," he instructed. "You're going to get sick." Bubbles sniffled and nodded, then went into the bathroom and shut the door. His dinner forgotten, Mojo went into another section of his home and gathered a few things. He went through a bundle of clothes he had bought to tailor to his size--but hadnt yet gotten to it--and selected the only t-shirt he was sure would fit her, a button-up long-sleeved blue flannel shirt, and a pair of pants he really hoped fit her, and headed back to the bathroom.
He knocked on the door, and it cracked open. "Yes?" Bubbles asked. Mojo wordlessly handed her the dry clothes, which she took with grateful-albeit surprised--eyes. When she shut the door, Mojo went into the living room and flunked down on the couch with a sigh.
'What in the world just happened?' he asked himself. Bubbles showed up out of nowhere, and he was now inviting her into his home and giving her some clothes. He didnt even really know why, but for some reason, he knew that something was terribly wrong, and she had chosen to come to him. Why? The hell if he knew. But he was sure he was going to find out.
A few minutes later, he looked up to see Bubbles walk tentatively into the room, wearing the clothes he had given her. They fit rather well, despite the fact she looked like a homeless bum, from his selection choices. Her hair was still damp, but it was neatly combed back out of her face. She spotted him and gave him a gracious smile, though he could see a deep sadness in her eyes. He gestured her over and made room for her on the couch for her to sit down.
They sat in silence for what seemed like hours before Mojo decided to break the silence again. "...Do you want to talk about it?" he asked. Bubbles nibbled her lower lip and drew her legs up to hug her arms around them.
"...I had a fight," she finally said. "...With Blossom and Buttercup." Mojo nodded, knowing that there was a lot more to the story than that. Bubbles took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I...I brought up what I told you...you know? Two years ago, maybe?" Mojo nodded and let her continue. "I told them that I was feeling underappreciated, and that I thought I deserved to be able to take on the serious crimes and attacks." Her eyes hardened. "They told me that...that I wasnt strong enough to do those things!" She wiped at her eyes with the sleeve of the blue flannel shirt.
"I mean, they didnt bother to sugar-coat it or anything just to spare my feelings!" she cried angrily. "I told them that I was powerful enough, and with Blossom going to college next year, Buttercup would need some help! And--and Buttercup said that she could handle Townsville herself and that I should find something else to bother myself with!" She paused, as though she wanted to throw something, but tightened her jaw and continued.
"I shouted back that they didnt know me at all, and that if I wanted to, I would take them both on to prove it, and they...they laughed at me, Mojo!" Bubbles buried her face into her knees and hugged her legs tighter. "They laughed right in my face and..." She choked on her words for a moment. "...And I couldnt help it...I...I told them that I didnt want to do this anymore! I told them that I wanted to quit being a hero, and that being a villain was better than being treated like I was worthless by my own sisters!
"Then they got mad at me and told me that I was...I was no longer welcome as a Powerpuff....that I was as good as a villain to them!" Mojo couldnt help but cringe when he heard her let out a fresh sob. She cried for a few minutes before resting the side of her head on her knees tiredly. "...I ran away from home," she said softly, her voice strained and cracked. "Before they came back from final rounds...I walked most of the way here because they'd be able to see me if I flew."
Mojo stared at her. She had walked up here in freezing cold rain, risking hypothermia and God only knew what else, just to get away from her sisters? Let alone, she had chosen to come here? Once again, he was very surprised at the similarities between them that formed this connection...and dare he say it, kindred sprit? Without even realizing what he was even doing, he reached out and stroked his fingers comfortingly through her hair. If anything, Bubbles leaned into his touch, grateful for some form of affection.
They sat like that for a few more minutes, then Mojo remembered something. "...Are you hungry?" he asked. Bubbles raised her head and nodded, smiling.
Mojo felt almost happy to share a meal with someone, and even more happy that they appreciated his culinary skills. She ate what he cooked gratefully, and complimented him on nearly every bite, and he knew that it wasnt just from gratitude, or to kiss his ass. She really did have a taste for good food. After he shared his chocolate and vanilla mousse with her, he went into the kitchen to find something for her to drink, absolutely refusing to let her have alcohol. He settled on sparkling juice, and she was satisfied with that choice too.
After all the dishes were cleared, they retired to the living room where Mojo had planned to put on some music and read a book, but now that he had some unexpected company, he didnt know what else to do. Bubbles seemed to sense that plan he had, and went over to his bookshelf and selected one of his books--Great Expectations--and plopped down on the couch. Mojo shook his head, amused, and put on some quiet music to read his own selection--Sun Tsu's Art of War.
He didnt know how much time passed--in fact, he had almost forgotten Bubbles was there in the first place--but he was halfway through the book when he heard something drop softly to the floor. He looked up over the top of his book to see that Bubbles had fallen dead asleep on the couch and her book had slipped from her hand onto the floor.
Thinking back on it, years ago, Mojo would've taken this opportunity to eliminate one more foe for himself. But right now, he didnt really see a foe. He saw a kindred spirit that bordered on the forbidden title of 'friend'. Besides, he thought as he put his book aside to grab an afghan and drape it over her, what good was destroying her now? He wanted to fight her as her--and his own--fullest. He would make Blossom and Buttercup watch from the sidelines as he and Bubbles would show the whole world that they were not pushover jokes of thier trades. Mojo had learned over the years to stop overestimating himself and underestimating the enemy, and to find a definite weakness to overcome. He didnt have superpowers, but what he did have was the uncanny ability to adapt, overcome, and achieve. He learned years ago that he had strength that rivaled the Girls', but he just didnt know it. He learned to harness it and train it, as well as his speed, agility, and martial arts skills.
He also had his telekinesis that he'd been working on. He now honed it to the point where he could read Blossom and Buttercup's motives and attack stratigies. That was how he stayed on top of their games and made their fights last a fraction as long as they did in the past. Add those abilities of his to some of his own technology, and once he decided to unleash it full force, he'd be a force more than surely to be reckoned with.
He looked down at the sleeping girl, actually feeling her turmoil of emotions she was emitting. It was another side-effect of his telekinesis; empathy. He also used it to his advantage, and when Buttercup was angry or Blossom was overly boastful, he would enhance those emotions to throw their game off. What he could feel from Bubbles was the feeling of angst, anger, betrayal...and more recently, gratitude, contentment, and...an emotion he couldnt quite place.
He shrugged it off and tucked the afghan around her, then turned off the lights and music to turn in to bed. He took one last look back at Bubbles and shut the door.
After he had changed into his nightclothes and crawled into bed, he spent some time staring at the ceiling, thinking. He kept going over the pros and cons of not destroying Bubbles in battle. On one hand, she was--along with her sisters--the bane and cause of his existence (whereas he was the cause of their existence, but that wasnt the point); she was also a 'good' person, a heroine, and overall...another obstacle to world dominance.
....On the other hand, he thought, she was someone to talk to. It seemed that nowadays she was someone he could empathize and compare with. She didnt judge him as quickly as everyone else, and she seemed to empathize with him, too. She was also a worthy rival; someone to have an enjoyable fight with, rather than an annoying one like the ones he had with her sisters that have come to the point where it was no different than swatting mosquitoes out of his face.
Not to mention...she was a genuinely sweet person whose presence he actually found tolerable; enjoyable, even. He snorted to himself, thinking of what a paradox she was--tough, yet lovable; fierce, yet compassionate; brutal, yet merciful; someone who wore their heart on their sleeve, yet was humble enough not to be boastful about how powerful she was. That was someone he could picture being...companions with. 'Friend' was still a foreign and uncomfortable concept to him.
Rolling over, Mojo closed his eyes, his oversized brain still turning over this marvel that was Bubbles as he delved into sleep.
Mojo seemed to have forgotten that Bubbles was there as he went about his normal morning business. It wasnt until he was in the kitchen making breakfast for himself that he noticed the extra plate in the sink, and cursed out loud. He darted to the living room, only to find that Bubbles was not there. Instead, there was a tidied up area, a neatly folded afghan, and a note on the coffee table. He picked it up and read it:
I'm sorry to have gone off so early, but I got a call from Blossom very early, and she was freaking out about where I'd gone off to...(Here, Mojo snorted)...I didnt tell her where I was (as though I needed another reason for her to get on my case) but I told her that I would go home to sort some things out. I dont know how well that'll go over, but I'm hoping things wont get out of hand.
Mojo, I want to thank you so much for taking me in last night. I had nowhere else to go, and for some reason, as I was walking up those steps to your door, something told me that you wouldnt turn me away. I felt that you understood what was going on, and helped me get through it. I'm the most grateful for that.
Remind me to make you dinner sometime, and let me know if you ever want to have a fight. Like, for fun, you know? Something tells me you want some quality ass-beating time with me instead of my sisters.
Your 'Secret' Friend,
Mojo put the piece of paper down and stared out the window. He felt a strange emptiness in his heart, something that twinged at that second-to-last word on the note....'friend'....she thought of him as her friend. They were apparently enemies, but she didnt seem to think of them as such.
Sighing to himself, he tucked the letter on a shelf and turned to set himself up for the day. He glanced out the window again and saw a rainbow created from the rain last night.
He really couldnt help but snort at the symbolic irony.
Well, that was the end of that. I have one more that may turn into a chapter story, but that remains to be seen. Look out for the term "Bittersweet Sugar", though. Ta!