Well, hi. Mary is still going through it. Notes at the end.


It was 1:54 AM when King sprinted through the underground parking lot in her apartment building, weirdly sweltering heat, pandemics, and curfews be damned. Clad in just her pajamas, sneakers, and a thin hoodie, she hopped into her car and sped out of the lot, concern overshadowing everything else.

King had always made it a point to be there for her friends when they needed her — particularly Mary, whom she had known longer than anyone else (the two or three sentences she said to Yuri Sakazaki when she was kidnapped by the Big Bad notwithstanding). Throughout the years Mary had been her rock — just as she had been Mary's. She knew sides of the detective that few people did; sometimes she wondered if even Terry was aware of certain aspects of his girl's personality. Namely, the ugly depressive episodes she was prone to.

All of a sudden King was hit with a profound sense of sadness: She had known Mary long enough to realize that, if she wasn't calling Terry about whatever it was that was upsetting her, then that meant it was something she either didn't feel comfortable discussing with him (which was precious little), or... it was something she couldn't discuss with him.

Specifically, the incident. Or anything involving it.

Positive that the things that happened to her were more than likely at least part of whatever it was that was clearly causing Mary so much distress almost made King want to change course and drive her car into the ocean just so people would be able to go on with their lives without having to deal with her bullshit anymore. No more drama, no more lies. Relationships and jobs would no longer be at risk of imploding because there wouldn't be a need to keep her secret.

Of course, she'd personally still be dead, but maybe that was —

"Arrête!" King commanded herself out loud while shoving the dark thoughts aside. She couldn't afford to go down that road. Too many people depended on her — needed her. Like Jean, whom she promised she would never, ever leave. Or, at the exact moment, Mary.

King sighed as she navigated the roads until she reached the familiar street. Predictably there were no open spaces for her car, so she had to drive past the high rise and parallel park around the corner. She didn't bother to put on a mask as she exited the safety of her vehicle, ran into the building, and then up the stairs because the elevator was too slow.

Even though King's cardio was great, she still found herself a little winded by the time she reached the fifth floor apartment. She pulled her phone from the small bag that was slung over her shoulder, typed, "Here," in iMessage, and waited. It was only a moment before the ellipses popped up, followed by, "It's open."

With a frown King entered the dwelling, which was fully lit up despite the hour. She approached Mary, who was sitting in her recliner holding a glass of bourbon, and, right away, noticed how terrible she looked. The overtired detective always had subtle bags under her eyes but, at the moment, they were so severe that she almost looked like she got punched in her face, which was stained with tears. Her hair, which was always perfect, was a little disheveled (King didn't think Mary was even capable of having a "bad" hair day), and her overall posture just screamed "defeated."

"Mare," King breathed as she knelt in front of the recliner, "What happened?"
"I'm not a good person, Céc," came a choked answer.

King couldn't help it as her breath caught. Mary didn't normally call her that; it was always "bb" — which meant that whatever was going on was bad. She took note of the items scattered on the coffee table: Mary's badge, her gun (which was in its holster) a bottle of Zoloft, and a bottle of Xanax. Mary must have noticed when King's eyes went wide because she took a sip of her drink and said, "I got this way after I took those. I just forgot to put them away."

"Oh… Okay. Good…"
"Anyway," Mary began. "I know you're gonna ask me what I mean when I say that I'm not a good person. Go ahead and ask."

King made a face as she moved over to the couch and slipped off her shoes.

"...What do you mean?"
"Glad you asked…!"

Mary let out a small hiccup; she raised her glass, not unlike someone who was about to give a toast.

"I! Have used my position to bend the rules…! Like, a lot. Which means that I'm no different than all of those other officers all over the news. All the ones who are being filmed left and right? I'm just like them after all!"
"You know that's not even remotely true."
"Do I? Do you? Because I used my clearance to walk straight into the state penitentiary to shoot —"
"If you're telling me you feel guilty about kneecapping the son of a bitch that —"
"Let me finish, Céc," Mary said sternly.
"Then finish," King replied, a little colder than intended, as she placed her small bag off to the side.

"I don't feel bad about that — I don't. But I didn't… I should have been locked up right then and there, right? Instead, I spent the whooooooole day talking about it with the Chief, and the DA, and what did they do in the end?"
"They suspended you for six weeks. Without pay."
"Because of who I am. I got off lightly because of what I am."
"Which is…?"
"A dirty cop."

The bitterness in Mary's voice was almost jarring, as she said that last word — "cop" — with so much venom that it made King recoil. She briefly pressed her lips together and watched as Mary took a massive gulp of her drink.

"A dirty cop is someone who takes bribes," King started, "and does things like actively interfere with the law, Mare. Drugs, prostitution, money laundering… What you did was obviously much different — and justified."
"But still a crime. And you can't deny that."
"No, but it —"
"Was highly illegal and makes me no better than all of those other abusive badges."
"You shot a violent rapist," King exclaimed, unable to keep her own feelings over the matter at bay. "After everything he did to me?! He deserved it! He deserved more than just a couple of busted knees!"

Mary appeared to consider that carefully as she drank some more.

"Okay, yeah, that's true. But what about hiring Yamazaki to torture Gun Guy while turning a blind eye to it? I mean, I'm supposed to arrest people who do those things, aren't I? Or what about Pao Pao?"
"What about Pao Pao? That's not even —"
"You know, Takuma Sakazaki threatened to sue me over it," Mary interrupted with a tiny hiccup.

King sat up a little straighter.

"Takuma?! When —?!"
"I had to answer a call and he was there with that silly mask of his. He's pretty pissed about the whole situation. Because I misused my authority and got off without any sort of punishment."
"That's bullshit! You were out for a month after that," King exclaimed.
"Doesn't matter..."
"Of course it matters!"
"But he's right, though. I constantly use my position within the police department to my advantage."
"And why, exactly, is that a problem?"
"Céc. Don't be —"
"Don't be what?! Mare, you haven't done anything wrong!"

Mary looked over at King, a pointed expression on her face.

"Fine," King conceded with a grimace, "The thing with Ryo was a little much, but I understand why you did it."
"Understanding why I did something doesn't make it okay."
"Well, no… However —"
"Whatever with your however" Mary stated. "Papa Sakazaki is right about me."
"In what way?!"

Mary paused so she could polish off the last of her liquor. She took a very deep breath, placed her glass down, and wiped a stray tear from the corner of her eye.

"I'm… ...There's no such thing as a good cop, Céc."
"You know that's not true," King told her quietly.
"Ugh, please," Mary groaned with a dismissive wave of her hand. "You should see how people look at me. There's so much animosity. Anger... and fear… maybe even outright hate, I dunno. All this time I've been doing my best to help people but it doesn't even matter. Civvies see the badge and just lump me right in with all the other officers. You know, the bad apples? But they're not necessarily wrong."

King stared at Mary, almost unable to process what she was saying.

"Those people don't matter, Mare! They don't know you!"
"Pfft, that's not important —" Mary plucked her badge from the coffee table — "I'm still not fit to keep this damn thing."

The detective fixed her eyes on the shiny metal object in her hand, a huge frown on her face.

"You know, I rejoined the force to help the people out there, and to stop the corruption from spreading," she said thoughtfully. "I thought I'd be able to do some real good since things were cleaned up a good bit while I was doing the PI thing..."
"And you did do good! You still do good!"

Mary placed her badge back on the table, sighed, and locked her eyes directly on King's face.

"Cécile. I love you, but you're biased. Big time biased."
"In what way?"
"Because I've done a lot of this bad shit for your benefit."

King involuntarily let out a loud gasp and stared at Mary incredulously, her mouth wide open. It was a true statement… but...

"That's not fair," she murmured.
"Huh?" Mary asked absently.
"I said that's not fair," King repeated, louder. "I never asked you to do those things! I get why you did them — and you know I would do the same for you — without question! — but I never… I never wanted you to do any of it! I never wanted you to do anything to compromise yourself or your relationships with other people because of me! But you did! You made those choices, Mare, but only because you were trying to protect me! Because you care that much! And that's what sets you apart from all of those baton-waving, trigger-happy assholes out there! You actually care enough to put yourself on the line for someone else! Surely you see that, right?!"

Mary glanced at the empty glass in front of her before locking her eyes on King once more.

"Pfft, that just makes it worse. I've used you as a crutch to inflict pain on people that I think deserve it. Ryo, and Gun Guy, and —"
"Mary!" King nearly shouted, shocked by what her friend was saying. "The guy — he helped kidnap me! He got out early, and what did he do?! He went to the bar! Who knows what he had in mind?! And the other one beat me up and fucking raped me! They are less than human and deserve nothing but pain!"
"And Ryo? Because all he did was make a shitty comment."
"That was just you looking out for me," King stated with a deep sigh. "You weren't even on duty."
"Still a cop. By the way, you've been shockingly cavalier about it," Mary noted.

King let out a half-hearted chuckle while shaking her head.

"That's because if the tables were turned and Terry said something like that to you, I'd end him."
"Which is very nice of you."
"Don't mention it."

Mary took a breath before leaning forward in her seat so she could place her head in her hands.

"Anyway. Nothing matters and I'm still the worst."
"What? Why?"
"Don't make that face at me," Mary said without even raising her head.

King pressed her lips together yet again while she thought about what she could even say. She needed to snap Mary out of this funk; she had been in it for months, and it was only getting worse. But what could she possibly do…? There was a short lull in the conversation as she tried to think of the perfect thing to say. However, Mary's unusually monotone voice broke the silence.

"You know, I've been lying to Terry this whole time," she lamented, her face still hidden. "He's always been so good to me, but... obviously, I can't tell him this stuff. Not because of what it means for you, but, like, if he knew about Yamazaki he'd see me as the monster I really am and leave me on the spot."
"You're not a monster," King responded.
"That's cute," Mary deadpanned. She raised her head, narrowed her eyes, and continued.

"'Not a monster.' I hired a lunatic to torture someone I couldn't hurt only because I'd lose my job and I attacked a person and even discharged my firearm in a public place just because he pissed me off. Then I come home and cry because the public hates me and I act like I'm some sort of victim even though I've been the one dishing out pain and getting off scot free — because I happen to have friends in all the right places. I'm… I'm not good enough for Terry. He deserves so much better than some violent, secretive, lying pig. Dad and Butch must be rolling in their graves stabbing themselves in their faces because of how I've turned out."

Suddenly upset, but also a little desperate to make Mary see that she wasn't an awful monster, King jumped to her feet; she stepped in front of the recliner where the other woman sat, took a very deep breath… and slapped her across the face. Not hard, of course… but enough to really get her attention. Wide-eyed, Mary instantly brought a hand to her cheek and stared up at King, slack-jawed.

"Did you just —?!"
"I will not let anyone talk about my best friend like that," King scolded. " You're one of the best people I know and I'll be damned if I let you sit here and do this to yourself! You are considerate, and caring, and you do your best to help and protect people — especially the ones who are close to you! You and I both know that everything you've done — every last bit — hasn't been because of some desire to abuse your authority! You did what you did because you didn't want to see me hurt!
"And Terry?! If it means that you guys can be happy I will call him myself — right now — and take full responsibility for everything! Your secrets, your lies — even Yamazaki! I'll shoulder all of the blame — I don't care! Because I love you, Mary Ryan, and I'm done watching you put yourself in these positions for me!"

King forcefully exhaled as she watched Mary, who was staring at her in disbelief, one hand still on her face.

"I can't believe you actually hit me…!"
"And I can't believe I had to," King retorted. "Where's your phone?!"
"My phone? Bb —?!"

King spotted the device on the small table beside Mary and hastily snatched it up. She navigated to the Favorites list, pulled up Terry's name, and narrowed her eyes at the little photo of him. This was going to suck: Telling someone else about the incident was going to garner more pity, and more questions, and more changed opinions, but if it meant taking a load off her friend's shoulders, then —

"You can't tell him."

Mary's statement instantly grabbed King's attention.

"Why not?"
"Because if you tell him —" Mary rubbed at her reddened cheek — "then it's all for nothing."

Silence set in as King realized that Blue Mary — ever the Voice of Reason — was right. If she were to tell Terry about everything that happened, all of Mary's efforts would be in vain.

"Merde," she growled while putting the phone back down. She placed a hand on her temple as a stress headache started to set in.

"It's not your fault I did that stuff," Mary spoke up. "Yeah… you're at the center of it. But I did it all. I pulled the trigger, and broke the bones, and called in the favour."
"You should have just let me do it," King sighed while lowering herself back onto the sofa.
"I promised to keep you on the straight and narrow, remember?"

King flashed Mary a wan smile.

"Further evidence that you're not the horrible person you think you are..."
"Well… maybe not to you, but —"
"Am I a bad person?"

The question seemed to stun, and maybe even confuse Mary. She furrowed her brow before hopping out of her recliner so she could sit on the sofa next to King.

"No way," she exclaimed. "Why would you —"
"You know my past," King cut her off. "You know the things I did when I worked for Big. I nearly killed people — for money. I stomped somebody's throat and crushed his windpipe. I broke somebody's face — literally broke it. Knocked out teeth, dislocated things… hospitalized countless men. Do you know how many shirts I had to get rid of because they had blood stains on them? I hurt those guys — really hurt them — so I could get paid."
"But it was for a noble cause…!"
"Noble cause or not, there were some days where I enjoyed hurting my marks," King went on. "It was an outlet. When things with… you-know-who went bad it made my job that much better because I could take it out on those dirtbags. And I did. I made them bleed."
"Do you see where I'm going with this?"
"I mean, I..."
"What you did to those guys was payback for committing a violent crime against your best friend. What you did to Ryo was payback for hurting your best friend. What I did to random strangers was for money. So, again. I'm going to ask you: am I a bad person?"
"Neither are you."

There was a heavy silence as King drew in a very deep breath and looked away. She hated talking about the things she did under Big's employ, but Mary had left her no choice. She just hoped that what she said would actually make a dent this time. She shut her eyes, then opened them so she could see her friend, who looked like she was about to burst into tears.

"Why are you looking at me like that?" King inquired softly.
"Because you had to dredge that up."
"It's for a good cause."

Mary's expression was full of doubt. She wiped at her eyes while King kept talking.

"Terry knows about most of your indiscretions. He doesn't know the exact reasoning behind them… but he knows. And he still loves you. Right?"

A slow nod.

"And, biased or not, I still love you. So…"

King trailed off, unsure of what to say next — particularly because Mary started full-on crying.

"Come on, Mare…"

It was at that moment that Mary's dog, Anton (who had been conspicuously absent since King's arrival) sauntered over so he could nuzzle his head against her bare leg.

"See? Even the dog is trying to tell you that it's okay," King stated while her eyes flicked from Mary to Anton. "Hi, dog."

Mary let out a loud sniffle and pushed a curtain of hair out of her face. She tucked it behind her ear and glanced up at King, a borderline pitiful expression in her pale eyes.

"You really think I'm good?" She asked weakly.
"And you really think I'm good enough for Terry?"

Mary reached for a tissue so she could blow her nose.

"Okay… last question and then I'll stop being a brat," she sniffled. "Do you really think the good outweighs the bad?"

King made a face; that was a question she had asked herself on many sleepless nights throughout the years — one that she didn't really have a good answer to. With that in mind she slung an arm over Mary's shoulders and leaned back against the sofa cushions.

"We've both done some bad things," she stated earnestly. "And, yeah, your status makes it easier for you to get away with it, if you so choose, but… your heart was — is —in the right place."
"That goes for you too, you know..."

Mary curled up beside King; she placed her head on her shoulder but didn't say anything else. Meanwhile, Anton hopped up next to her, draped his paws over her legs, and laid his head down.

"Tell your mommy she's the best," King commanded the dog. His big, brown eyes focused on her before shifting back to Mary, who let out a soft sigh.

"Thanks for slapping me," she mumbled.
"Any time."

After just a few minutes, Mary's breathing began to slow and, all at once, she felt much heavier. King shifted so she could peer down into her face as best she could, though it didn't take a genius intellect to figure out that she had fallen asleep.

King leaned her head against Mary's, pensive. The detective resting against her was so genuinely good; it was a damn shame that, thanks to current events — and the incident — she couldn't see it. It made King so angry; it just wasn't fair…

Meanwhile, she was looked at as decent because… why? Because of the lengths she went to for her brother all that time ago? Why was joining the mob and legitimately hurting people so much better than Mary's status as a cop? She was going out there, risking herself every day; so what if she used her power to her advantage? What was the point of having it if she couldn't actually wield it every now and then? Despite her extreme actions against Ryo (Big's men didn't count, damn it!), Mary was actively fighting the good fight, whereas King was a reformed criminal with a guilty conscience. There was even a part of her that was convinced that her rape was karmic retribution for everything she did while she worked for Big. Mary breaking a couple of fingers — off duty! — was nothing compared to anything King had done in the past.

"Une noble cause," she muttered sadly. She drew in a sharp breath… and noticed Anton staring at her from his place beside Mary. She furrowed her brow, somehow a little uncomfortable under the canine's gaze — which was probably really weird. It was like he knew.

Mommy good, bartender bad.

King hastily turned away from the dog. She pressed her lips together in a thin line while she continued thinking about Mary's dilemma (while trying not to think of her past). She didn't know how long she sat there; all she knew was that the best (and probably only) thing she could do for Mary was just… be there for her. Eyelids suddenly incredibly heavy, she glanced off to the side... and saw that Anton was watching her again. A little creeped out, she furrowed her brow and shifted her gaze toward the ceiling.

"Stop staring at me," she murmured.

Within moments King drifted off, fully aware that Anton's eyes were still on her.

Alright then.

* Arrête = Stop!
* King is not suicidal; she's just prone to some really dark thoughts sometimes
* For any n00bs: Céc. Short for Cécile, which is King's real name in this ficverse that totally plays on the canon "Sis" she's been referred to as in the past
* For anyone keeping score, Mary shot the driver four times: Twice in MLS, then twice in Bang.
* Technically, shooting someone is wrong, but the driver was/is a raping piece of shit. (If you think Mary was wrong for shooting A RAPIST, I don't wanna hear it.)
* Yamazaki tortures the gunman (thanks to Mary's efforts) in Karma Police, which is a collab I did with jojoDO earlier this year. (Go read it and say hi to jojo!)
* The attack on Ryo Sakazaki was in chapter two of Aftershocks. Mary tased him, used Matilda to shoot four bottles of alcohol (Matilda's the gun. RE reference FTW), nearly choked him out, and then broke two of his fingers. Vanessa and Seth give her unspecified aid later on that allows her to keep her job.
* Headcanon! Mary started out as a cop for Southtown PD (that's how she met King), but then left to pursue being a Private Investigator. She then went back to the police department not only for the reasons she lays out, but, also, because she'd get PTO and benefits.
* Merde = shit
* No one ever really gets into King's past as Big's bouncer and enforcer. She's seen as a "good guy" but she's one of the most morally grey characters I have ever fucking seen. She did what she did for Jean, yes... but she DID WHAT SHE DID, and even has a sadistic streak that's alluded to in Capcom vs. SNK 2 (JPN version). Also, "you-know-who" refers to her ex-girlfriend, Jessica, who cheated on her with more than one person and then tried to shift the blame on her. (King's bi and you can meet Jess in R&D and Sad Transmission.)

Is that it? I think that's it. As always, thank you all for reading and hopefully taking some time to tell me what you're thinking! Cheers!