Shhhh. I'm still on hiatus but I wrote this months ago - MONTHS! - as a snippet that ended up on tumblr, dead in the water. I think it was posted to Discord in its original form, too, but I don't remember. And that's the key phrase: original form. I went to this and fleshed it out a little more because, well, why not.

Anyway, I know anyone who has been with the so-called Kingverse wants to know what's going to happen next... but right now I'm hitting the rewind button, going back to where this whole series originated from: Much Like Suffocating — or, rather, the events that happened between chapters because I'm a wordy bastard who can't stop elaborating on this shit.

Anyway, onward~

Mai Shiranui was in big trouble.

Seated in an uncomfortable plastic chair, she watched nurses and doctors make their way to and from the various rooms and curtained off spaces scattered throughout the long, noisy hospital corridor, some with a little more urgency than others. Of all the days of the week, she never would have pegged Thursday as one of the busiest in the ER.

"Stop looking around and focus on what I'm telling you!"

With a deep breath Mai turned her attention to her friend (and probably future sister-in-law), the police department's Detective "Blue" Mary Ryan, who was standing over her with her arms crossed. Her demeanor was somewhere between furious and... defeated?

"What you did back there could have gotten you in some serious shit! It doesn't matter if it's justified or not — if you had done that in front of anyone else, your ass would be in custody, right alongside them! Not only would you be in custody, but you'd also be in danger of being kicked out of the country and banned from coming back indefinitely!"
"But it wasn't in front of anyone else," Mai retorted. "It was in front of you!"
"That's not the point!"
"What is the point then, Mary?! Because you shot him!"
"This isn't about me!"
"Oh my god! You're being such a hypocrite right now!"
"Maybe so, but I made an informed decision, whereas yours was totally spur of the moment," Mary started. She set her jaw and uncrossed her arms so she could place a hand on her hip. "I thought about the consequences before I pulled the trigger. You didn't!"
"Consequences?" Mai quirked a perfectly shaped brow. "What consequences?"

With that, Mary exhaled through her nose and slowly lowered herself onto a chair next to Mai's. She rested her elbows on her knees and held her head in her hands.

"I can be kicked off the force... maybe even do some time," she answered. "But, real talk, there's this thing called 'white privilege' that'll totally get me off the hook. I'll be investigated and suspended for a week or two but that's probably it. You, on the other hand… you would have been thrown in the back of that car and hauled off to county prison for assault with a deadly weapon."
"But... I'm not —"
"I know what you're gonna say —" Mary put a hand up — "but that doesn't matter. There are people out there who are still pissed about Pearl Harbor."

Mai didn't respond. Instead, she pulled one of her folding fans out of the back of her shorts and started to open and close it over and over.

"What we did — what you did," she said, changing the subject. "Do you think it was over the line?"
"Absolutely not. I'd do it again in a heartbeat."
"I wish I could have done more," Mai lamented. "I wish I could have been there sooner, or —"
"Don't. Don't think like that," Mary started, her voice suddenly shaky, "because… because if you do, then… I'll start… and..."

Mary slowly trailed off. She placed a hand over her mouth, took a deep breath, and shut her eyes, very clearly trying to keep from breaking down. It was a sight that stunned Mai: the cop had always been extremely cool and composed no matter what; she would break bones and brutally beat criminals and opponents without batting an eye, and then go get a beer and laugh and sing karaoke afterwards as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

Mai didn't know what to do, especially since she felt like breaking down as well. How could she possibly be of any comfort right now? Nevertheless, she had to try: she placed a reassuring hand on Mary's shoulder and gave a light squeeze.

"Hey," she said gently. "It's… it's gonna be… she'll pull through."
"...I know."

After a quiet moment Mary took another breath and brought herself completely upright in her seat. She grabbed the hem of her shirt and used it to gently dab at her lower lash lines, which were wet with tears she had almost successfully held back.

"Sorry," she said, her voice back to its normal clarity.
"Why sorry? You can't always be Robo Cop."

Mary wiped a stray tear from her lightly freckled cheek and sighed.

"You said you wished you could have done more," she commented.
"Being there for her… That's doing more. That's… all we can do."
"Speaking of which —" Mai stood up and stowed her fan in the back of her shorts once more — "Can I go back in there now?"

Mary ran her hands through her hair and rose from her seat.

"Of course," she said with a sigh. "Tell her I'll be back in a little bit. I have to handle a couple of other things."

Mai nodded. She started toward the small room marked "Levasseur," thoughts racing, before abruptly turning around to face Mary, who was already halfway down the hall.

"Are you gonna be alright?!" she called after her.
"Don't worry about me," Mary answered easily without even turning around. "Just go to her, okay?"

Mai nodded. She started toward the small room once more but, after a moment, turned around so she could call out to the detective again.


Mary stopped walking but didn't turn around.

"Yes, Mai?"
"Are you sure I can't go hit him some more?!"

And now you know what the Fatal Fury gals talked about when Mai was called out of the room in Sleep Apnea. And, if you're part of the Discord group, then you now have a little more insight to what happened to get Mary to where she ultimately ended up in that one thing I posted that I will not be fleshing out because reasons.

Anyway, thanks for reading, reviewing (if you choose of course), and sticking with me!