Welp. It happened. I got hit with... something, and, much like an unplanned pregnancy, this chapter came screaming into the world. Anyway, congrats to RobertCop3 and Rex Madison for guessing who this chapter would be about with only the title to work with. You get... satisfaction! Maybe a doodle of your respective bae(s) if I get bored, Idk.

Onward~


"You're fucken ridiculous."

The boxer-slash-housewife-slash-mercenary agent named Vanessa crossed her arms over her chest and gave her friend and very occasional co-worker, Mary Ryan, a supremely disapproving look. Mary, however, didn't seem at all fazed as she trudged out of the Southtown PD building, jacket slung over her shoulder, her gun conspicuously absent from her shoulder holster.

"You're the best," the detective sang with an infectious smile.
"Yeah, well, Seth and I had to pull a lot of strings to get you out of this little mess with just a suspension. Right, Seth?"

Vanessa's partner, a very quiet, very intimidating man (who was actually a big teddy bear) nodded at Mary.

"A lotta strings," he confirmed.
"I owe you guys," Mary told the duo as she pulled them into a hug.
"Damn right, you do," Vanessa said while she wriggled out of the smaller woman's grasp. She took a moment to really look at her and frowned.

"You look like hell," she observed before turning to Seth, who was casually smoothing his clothes. "Doesn't she look like hell?!"
"Doesn't she always?"
"I'm right here you know."
"Girl, I'm just playing," Seth said with a wry smile.
"I'm not," Vanessa remarked.
"Well, do you wanna just play over some drinks?" Mary asked, ignoring Vanessa's comment. "I could really use some hard liquor right now…"

Vanessa pulled her phone out of the inside pocket of her blazer to check the time.

"Well… kiddo's with the grandparents for a few more hours and hubs thinks I'm off at the gym so… yeah. I can get a drink. Seth?"

The large man shook his head.

"Nah," he said. "Gotta get home to the wifey so we can keep marathoning The Circle. She'll kill me if we don't get at least three episodes in tonight."
"You poor bastard..."
"Next time, then?" Mary called to Seth as he started walking away.
"Next time," he replied with a salute before casually making his way down the steps toward the street.

Once he disappeared Vanessa turned back to Mary and furrowed her brow. This wasn't the first time she had to help her out of a tight spot thanks to her tendency toward brutality when things got personal. And, evidently, things had gotten personal.

...Again.

"What were you thinking?" She asked the detective matter-of-factly.

Mary put on her jacket and pushed a lock of chin-length hair behind her ear.

"I wasn't thinking. You know how it goes when I get like that."
"But why did you get like that in the first place? Terry doesn't need you to fight his battles for him, you know!" Vanessa scolded.
"It's not about Terry," Mary stated.
"Then who the hell are you risking your career and your freedom for?! If not Terry, then who is so important to you that you would —"
"King."

Vanessa instantly froze at the mention of the fighter and bartender whom she had had a short, but wholly satisfying fling with when it looked like she was on the cusp of getting a divorce. She hadn't been around King one-on-one since they ended their… thing, but she had seen her in passing: In the stands during the last King of Fighters, or across a crowded room (that was also at KOF, wasn't it?) where all they could do was smile and wave, almost as if nothing ever happened between them. Honestly, it was a little sad; despite her intensity and somewhat imposing presence King was actually a very sweet woman, and if things had worked out differently Vanessa would have considered pursuing an actual relationship with her… but she was younger… and, quite frankly, the very definition of "disaster bi." Of course, that wasn't her fault; PTSD did things to people — did things to her. However, much like Terry Bogard, she, too, was capable of fighting her own battles.

Wasn't she?

Suddenly worried, Vanessa placed her hands in her pockets and looked at Mary intently.

"What happened to King?" she probed, maybe a little too aggressively if Mary's expression was any indication.
"Okay, Pushy," the cop stated while sitting down on the cool, concrete steps. She zipped up her jacket and wrapped her arms around herself, as the temperature was rapidly dropping now that the sun was going down. Vanessa stood over her and waited.

"Well…?" she asked when Mary didn't say anything.
"Oh, sorry. I was just zoning. Anyway."
"'Anyway' what?"
"King is… my totally platonic lady-bro-soulmate. You know that, right?"
"I think you made that very clear when you threatened to break both my legs if I did anything that would hurt her," Vanessa answered with a smirk.
"I'm protective," Mary said nonchalantly.
"Okay, great, so you're protective. Got it. But how does being protective lead to an off-duty officer assaulting someone at a bar in the middle of the day? In fact, who the hell got you so riled up in the first place? And how does King even fit into it?"
"Sakazaki," Mary growled.

Vanessa quirked a brow.

"You mean Karate Guy?"
"Yep," Mary replied. She opened her mouth to continue speaking but stopped: She looked toward the sky, thoughtful, before setting her pale eyes on Vanessa's face.

"Exactly how much do you know about King?"
"Huh?"
"What do you know about her? Aside from the stuff you found when you were snooping."

Thanks to the aforementioned snooping, Vanessa knew quite a lot about King; Seth helped her find any and everything she could on the enigmatic woman: Her real name, her place of birth, her social, her driver's license number, her rap sheet — to name just a few things. Obviously she didn't know everything about her, but she definitely knew enough to at least partially solve the mystery that was King. Hell… she was even willing to bet that she probably knew some… things… that Mary didn't. Like how she —

"I don't mean that stuff, you nasty heifer," Mary stated with a cheeky grin. Vanessa felt heat creep into her neck and spread to her cheeks as she cleared her throat. Blue Mary was Southtown PD's best detective for a reason…

"What I mean is… like… I know that you know that she was—"
"Hurt," Vanessa interrupted curtly, unable to bring herself to say the actual word. "Someone... 'hurt' her. So you shot him."
"Damn right I did. I'd do it again in a heartbeat."
"I don't doubt that."
"No, but for real, though," Mary went on, "I know you two didn't do that much real talking, you dirty birdies, but did she tell you anything about what happened to her?"
"She told me —" Vanessa held up her hand so she could use her fingers to count — "her scar was from a pistol… that she was damaged… that she was broken and couldn't be fixed… but she never actually went into detail about the attack."

Mary nodded her head, her features revealing a deep sadness that must have been bubbling beneath the surface for a long time.

"The gun thing really got to her. I mean, obviously all of it did, but being held at gunpoint definitely messed with her head because if it hadn't been for that, she would have gone to town on those guys. She actually broke… his nose before she was grabbed by his accomplice."
"There were two of them?!" Vanessa asked, horrified.
"Yeah," Mary responded, "But only the one… Anyway, like, it's been a minute since you guys had your thing, so… she's in a better place now — way better. But sometimes she still thinks of herself as damaged or broken… It sucks."

Vanessa frowned: As hard as it had been for her to see and hear someone like King talk so badly about herself, it was probably a million times worse for Mary, who she knew loved her dearly. The friendship the two had was so wholesome and adorable, but the fact of the matter was that Mary had flipped her shit and attacked someone who was — as far as Vanessa knew — good friends with King.

But why?

"So… what did Sakazaki do that warranted your wrath?"
"Okay, let me preface this by saying that I know I overreacted —"
"You think?!"
"— and I really should have been more rational —"
"Yes, you should have! Because now you're suspended — again! — which means that —"
"Bitch, let me talk!"
"Then talk , bitch!"

Both women chuckled despite their harsh words.

"Okay," Mary continued, "So Sakazaki found out about the incident and pretty much told King that she's damaged goods —"
"What?!"
" — because his beliefs about sex and women are old and out of date and I get that his upbringing has a lot to do with that but he actually fed her a line about being with 'too many men' —"
"'Too many men?!'"
" — and I just… I just snapped when I saw him because… I mean… when she gets hit with those intrusive thoughts about being broken and damaged?! It's tough to see, and I refuse to let him or his words bring her down again, 'Nes!"
"So… you ambushed him at Pao Pao."
"If he hadn't swept my leg I would've just talked some shit and left after I stunned him. He brought it on himself!"
"Ummm. Eye witnesses said you fired your gun."
"Yeah — at a few liquor bottles behind the counter!"

With a sigh Vanessa lowered herself onto the steps next to Mary.

"How is King doing then? Have you talked to her since…?"
"I saw her after everything between her and Ryo went down. Poor bb was so wound up. I brought her some of my xanny to help her relax a bit."
"You're still using that shit?" Vanessa asked, concerned for her friend.
"Not that much lately."

Vanessa made a face.

"So... you haven't actually seen King since all of this happened?"
"I called her right before I came here — left her a message explaining the situation. I probably have a very aggressive voicemail from her."

Now Mary made a face as she stared off at something across the street. Meanwhile, Vanessa stared down at her shoes (the shiny leather still looked brand new), all sorts of questions about King on her mind. She wondered if, maybe, she should shoot her a text… or, better yet, go visit her at Illusion: After all, being told something like what Sakazaki told her had probably been something of a mindfuck. And it had been such a long time since she talked to her: A nice, friendly visit wouldn't be a bad thing, though, if she was being totally honest with herself, there was a possibility that she would end up inviting the captivating woman to her home for a threesome with her and her husband…

...before getting knocked out by a swift kick to the head.

"I guess I can see why you did what you did," Vanessa said while she curbed her lewd train of thought. "King is a very special lady."
"She is! And she doesn't deserve to be brought down over something she had no control over!"
"No, I understand. Honestly, if he said that in front of me I would have clocked him. Hell, I still might."
"There's no need, 'Nes," Mary told her. "He got the point."
"If you say so..."

Vanessa propped her elbows on her knees so that she could rest her chin in her hands. She glanced at Mary, who appeared so... depressed. She really hoped she wasn't headed toward one of her spells...

"Why the long face, Ryan?" she asked gently.
"I'm just tired. It's been a long day."
"I bet," Vanessa told her. "You still up for that drink?"
"Oh, totally," Mary affirmed, her face brightening up a little. "But Richard's probably pissed so we're gonna have to go to Illusion. You down for that?"
"I — yeah," Vanessa replied, suddenly a little enthused at the prospect of seeing King again sooner rather than later. "Yeah. I'd like that, actually. A nice, tall beer —"
"A blonde?" Mary interrupted with a cackle.

Vanessa softly punched her companion's arm, though she had to admit that that was a good one.

"Hush," she told her. "I prefer stouts."
"Whatever," Mary said with a grin. "She's not gonna be there anyway."
"What?"
"King. She has the night off."
"Oh."

Vanessa frowned while Mary shot her a devilish sort of grin.

"You seem disappointed…!"
"Well, it would have been nice to see her again," Vanessa answered coolly.
"Sure. You know, if I didn't know any better I would think that you're still attracted to her."

Vanessa raised her eyebrows and flashed a coy smile while she brought an index finger up to her lips.

"Shhhh..."


So now we know how Mary keeps skating by the authorities: her connections! Let's go~!

* The Circle is a reality show on Netflix that revolves around this weird social media experiment. I don't feel like explaining it so just Google it, okay? It premiered in January 2020, so you can sort of ascertain the timeline involved around this fic, as well as Pins and Needles (New Year's), Well Enough Alone (a little after New Year's), and xanny (which was the early morning hours of this one if you didn't quite catch that).
* If you're new, King and Vanessa got very friendly with one another during the fic, Red, which saw King in the middle of a relapse and Vanessa having unspecified marital problems.
* Karate Guy is what I, personally, call Ryo when I'm being a cheeky asshole.
* During Red, Vanessa enlists Seth's help to dig up all the information she can on King because she wants to know more about her. She confessed to King, which resulted in a blow up that turned into something else entirely but you should KNOW THIS ALREADY WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?
* King was kidnapped at gunpoint, which is what kickstarted Much Like Suffocating. She's a Muay Thai expert, not a super hero, and, thus, cannot stop bullets.
* Mary is prone to bouts of depression; her nickname of "Blue Mary" comes from the drink Butch made for her, but, also, because she gets The Sads™.