The girl was sopping wet, covered in seaweed. Her green and black dress and matching jacket were torn to shreds and covered in blood. Whether it was her own or someone else's, she had no idea. She couldn't remember much of anything, except for waking up on the beach. She didn't remember how she got there, how old she was, or even her name.
That was the way Ace D. Copular found her, the girl with fierce green eyes and a short bob of ebony hair. She reminded him of someone he'd lost so long ago it felt as though another lifetime, but it couldn't be her. He remembered vividly the day in which Buttercup had been hurled into the ocean by Mojo Jojo. He had expected her to burst up through the water's surface, a cocky grin on her face and hands clenched into fists, ready for another round. Instead, he and Buttercup's sisters, Blossom and Bubbles, had waited in stunned silence for two and a half hours.
A sinking feeling had washed over Ace and he knew that the last sight of the green Powerpuff he would ever see was of her being hurled past the horizon, and landing in a tsunami like splash in the ocean.
Blossom, usually cool-headed and collected, had flown into a blind rage, lifting the evil little monkey into the air by his throat. The pink Powerpuff had nearly choked the life from his body before Bubbles could restrain her.
"How could you do this? I always knew you were evil, but I thought deep down I-You killed Buttercup, you killed our sister!" Blossom had sobbed, thrashing wildly as she tried to loosen Bubbles's grip on her arms.
Mojo couldn't speak, let alone defend himself. He'd gasped for air, panting and wheezing. The force behind Blossom's grip should have crushed his larynx, but he was no ordinary monkey, having been exposed to the same batch of Chemical X as the Powerpuff girls themselves. He would live, but the girls would hate him for it.
Later that day, a search party, consisting of the two remaining Powerpuffs, the samurai known only as Jack, Ace, Professor Utonium, a large group of KND operatives, Ben and Gwen Tennyson, and even the Grim Reaper, had set out looking for Buttercup. They found not a single strand of her hair. Even Gwen, the party's best tracker, hadn't been able to get a bead on her.
"Is she-is she dead?" a tearful Bubbles had asked.
"No, I tink I woulda remembered if one o' da Powerpuff Girls had shown up on me list." Grim had said in his out of place Jamaican accent.
"Well, what does that mean then, Grim? If she's not dead, what the heck happened to her?" Gwen had asked, frowning.
"It means she's gone. Perhaps she slipped into a vortex leading to another dimension. Perhaps she has slipped into a state between life and death, it's notoriously hard to track people tat way. Maybe Fuse has her. Heck, she might've been dragged off by da Undertoad."
"It's all right, Professor. We can't give up hope. We're triplets, if Buttercup was dead, I would feel it." Blossom had said soothingly to her father.
"Sure, I'm just da Grim Reaper. How could I possibly know anyting about life and death?" Grim had muttered under his breath. If anyone other than Ace had heard him, they didn't acknowledge or reprimand him.
Several months passed, and only vague rumors or Buttercup's whereabouts surfaced. Someone had insisted she'd been spotted in Canada, fighting the good fight against Lord Fuse with the Royal Canadian Kids Next Door. Another said her body had washed ashore the beach of her native Townsville. Several witnesses claimed they'd seen Buttercup waitressing at a tiny little diner just outside of Endsville. All the reported sightings, even the most ridiculous, were investigated. As Mandy put it "We need all the good soldiers we can get right now."
Ace was strolling across the beach, a sad smile on his face. Most people would be content with the kind of fame and success the Gangreen Gang had attained as a punk rock group, but then again, most people don't lose the girl they love before they can tell her how they feel. Songwriting and playing sold out concerts didn't put the same spring in his step as it once had. Food didn't taste as good. And any time he saw someone with eyes the same lime green as Buttercup's or with the same cocky, determined smile, he went misty eyed behind his shades. Ace wished he would have managed to pluck the courage to tell her how much he liked her before she'd gotten into that fight with Mojo. It felt like so long ago. He couldn't even remember what Mojo Jojo and the Powerpuffs had been fighting about. He hoped it was worth it.
"Here's ta you, Buttercup, an' whatevah ya life coulda been." Ace said, toasting the fallen Powerpuff Girl with a water bottle he'd pulled from inside his leather jacket.
And that's when he heard it. A choking, gasp breath, as though someone had been underwater for far too long and was now reemerging from the depths. Ace hastily jammed the bottle back in his pocket and went over to investigate. He ran, following the spluttering, and after about ten yards, he saw...her.
His breath caught sharply in his chest. The girl, lying on the beach, sopping wet, and covered in wet sand and dried blood looked a lot like...
"Buttercup?" Ace said softly.
Almost as soon as he spoke, the girl leapt up. Her fists were clenched and there was an almost feral look in her large green eyes.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa. I ain' here ta hurt ya. Honest." Ace said, holding his hands up to show he meant no harm.
Her eyes softened, but she didn't lower her fists. "Who are you? Where am I?"
"The name's Ace an' you're in Townsville Harbor."
"Townville, huh? Weird name...but familiar. Tell me, Mr. Smarty Pants, if you know so much, answer me this: just who the heck am I?" the girl asked.
Ace tried to convince her to come back with him to the junkyard where he and the Gangreen Gang lived, but she refused.
"Well, where ya gonna stay then?" he frowned.
"I dunno, around. I don't trust you yet." she said defensively.
"Can I at least bring ya some food or somethin'? Take my jacket, your clothes are shredded, ya gotta be freezing in that lil' number." Ace said quickly, shrugging off his jacket and handing it to the green-eyed girl.
The girl pulled the jacket on, though it was a good two or three sizes too big for her small frame. She wrinkled her little button nose.
"Ugh, when's the last time you washed this thing? It smells like a locker room."
He blushed a little, embarrassed. The truth was, he had never washed it, not even once.
"Oh, um, and thanks for your help, Ace," the girl said grudgingly. "You don't have to, you know, help me. I can take care of myself." She blushed a little, brushing a strand of hair behind her ear.
"It's no problem. I'm kinda loaded these days. An' you remind me o' someone...someone who I used ta care 'bout." Ace shrugged.
" "Used to" ?" she noted the past tense.
"She's been missin' for three months. She's probably dead." he said, trying not to choke up, but he felt tears pooling up in his eyes anyways. It made him glad to be wearing his sunglasses so she couldn't see.
"Oh, sorry." she said lamely.
"'S'all right, ya didn't know."
"Who was she?"
"Her name was Buttercup Utonium. She was one o' the Powerpuff Girls. You look a lot like her, ya know."
Over the next few weeks, Ace and the mysterious green-eyed girl developed an uneasy alliance. He brought her food and clothes and spoke kind words, but she still refused to come back with him or tell him her name or anything she might've remembered. However, she did agree to meet up with the Gangreen Gang at the local arcade.
"D'ya know where that is?"
"I don'-I do, actually. Weird. Maybe, it's muscle memory or something. I've been flying around town and every once in a while, I get this freaky deja vu feeling and I remember... flashes, but I still don't remember who I am."
"Sssssooo, you're the little chick Acccce won't ssssshut up about. The one without a name." Snake hissed, never looking up from the screen of the deer hunter game he was so enraptured with. The girl assumed he must see her reflection, either that or the green skinned teen had eyes in the back of his head.
"It's not that I don't have a name, I just don't remember it. (I have amnesia, duh.) I think it was something with a "v"? No, a "b"." the girl said, straining to think.
"Maybe it was Billy!" Big Billy, the Gang's resident Cyclops, said eagerly. Ace elbowed him in the ribs, shaking his head at the big oaf. Snake just rolled his eyes.
"No, I think it was...a plant or maybe a flower." she said, absently.
"Like, Begonia or sssomething?"
"Ugh, definitely not."
"Bluebell? " guessed Billy.
"Blthtthbllblthblth." Grubber said nonsensically.
"Way off the mark there, hunch-back."
"What about Buttercup?" Ace asked hopefully.
"No, that doesn't sound right at all." she shook her short black bob.
"Oh, " his pale green face fell. Ace wondered if she'd even remembered their conversation about Buttercup (he had only spoken of her once) or if she'd just asked to be polite.
"Cheer up, bossss, I'm sure you'll find her eventually." Snake put a hand on his shoulder, though it was hard to tell if he was being sincere, as his other hand was still mashing buttons and wiggling the joysticks.
"Senorita, may I make a suggestion? Why not Belladonna? Not only does it mean beautiful lady, which you clearly are, but it is also another word for nightshade." Lil' Arturo suggested. It was the first he'd spoken to her all night.
"Yeah, Belladonna. I like that." she mused.
"Then it's ssssettled then. Belladonna it isss until you remember your real name." Snake said.
The newly christened Belladonna smiled as everyone in the Gangreen Gang cheered, all except for one.
"What's the matter?" Belladonna frowned at him.
"Nothing... I, um...I was wondering if you...we need another lead singer and I was wondering if you'd like to join the band. If you can sing, that is." Ace lied hastily.
Belladonna belted out a few verses of an old Simon and Garfunkel song. "Does that answer your question?" she smirked. She thought it was odd that she didn't know the first thing about her past, yet she could still tell you that she had sung "The Sound of Silence."
"That was buono , senorita." Arturo said.
"Not too bad, ya know, for a chick." Snake said approvingly. Ace elbowed him in the ribs. "Ow!"
"Can we keep her, Ace, please?" Big Billy pleaded, doing his best puppy dog eye.
"That's up to her. What do ya say, Belladonna?" Ace asked.
"Sure, why not. I don't have anything else going for me." Belladonna said in a mock casual voice. Yet you could see the excitement in her bright green eyes...the eyes that were hers and hers alone...the eyes that Ace would have to realize were not staring back out at him from Buttercup's face. Belladonna had known that he had only taken an interest in her because she looked like his ex, but she hoped that the reason she was being invited to join the Gangreen Gang was because of her own merit, and not because of her resemblance to a missing girl.
The Gang cheered loudly, even Ace, (causing the few other people at the arcade to loudly shh them in response) but on the inside he wished she would've said no.