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Masquerade Retaliation

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* Emi “Ms. Joke” Fukukado *

 

Emi stared in the mirror, attempting different expressions to match her new look. The curly black wig itched slightly, but she made sure not to touch it to prevent it from slipping. She wondered if she should try to be more seductive or coy. She glanced at the plunging neckline of her form-fitting red dress. Seductive, it is . She applied another layer of dark scarlet lipstick before leaving the hotel bathroom.

The lights around her were dim and moody, and she wondered if the main ballroom would be a little brighter. She checked her phone. Still no message from her partner.

She wondered what he was like. This had been something of a last minute case, and all she knew about her partner was that he had the ability to erase peoples’ quirks and his name was Eraserhead.

Emi supposed that she wouldn’t recognize him even if she’d met him before - she’d made sure she was unrecognizable, and figured he’d do the same in their stealth mission to infiltrate a business party and discover who had been spreading a massively dangerous quirk-explosion drug.

Her boss had given her the quickest run-down known to man before pushing her toward the party, so she wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but from the files, it appeared to be an injection that caused peoples’ quirks to power up then attack the user. She trembled slightly, remembering the photographs of the bodies it left behind - when it left any behind. They called it Retaliation on the deep web, and Emi didn’t want to see it in action. She hoped that Eraserhead’s ability to erase quirks could also erase the effects of Retaliation and assumed that that was the reason he was put on the case with her. Emi figured that they picked her because nobody would recognize her face. She was brand new to the pro-hero world at 19, and her charming personality and ability to make anyone laugh would make it easy for her to get into tight circles.

The adrenaline of being chosen for such a dangerous case made her eager to please. Emi took deep breaths as she wandered into the ballroom, elegant music and scents pervading her senses. This was much more beautiful than she’d expected. She had a hard time keeping her mouth closed and back straight. How could an atmosphere like this, with a live classical band and lights like twinkling stars, hide such a cruel drug?

She felt a hand on her back and flinched before glancing to see a tall blonde man, an absolutely radiant smile on his face.

“Isn’t it dazzling?” His voice was barely a whisper above the dark chords of a cello. She couldn’t place his accent, but she knew that she liked it.

“It is - It’s incredible.” He pulled her to the side of the entrance, allowing more couples to trickle into the space.

“Don’t tell me you’re here alone?” His smile was even more charming than the sculpted glass ornaments adorning the room.

“I… I am. I was sent as a representative of the Yaoyorozu household. I’m Ari Yaoyorozu.” She gave him the lie she was told to tell with a brilliant smile of her own. “I’m only a cousin, but events like this still blow me away.” She hoped her twinkling laugh came off as more refined than her normal gutsy laughter. She’d practiced in the car ride over - it almost got her into a wreck. The man bowed, then kissed her hand, sending shivers up her spine.

“I’m Stefan Svenderson, from the Danish Heroes Alliance. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Ms. Yaoyorozu.” She fought off a wild blush, wondering if it would be inappropriate to ask for his number.

“The pleasure’s mine.” Suddenly, her eyes caught a glance of a man who clearly didn’t belong anywhere near the expensive hotel. He was in a suit, with his long black hair tied back, but his eyes looked exhausted and a little wild. He had a bag slung over his shoulder, and her eyes narrowed. Emi usually wasn’t one to judge based on appearances, but a man who looked like a crack addict at a fancy party? While she was trying to find a person who was trafficking illegal drugs? “Pardon me, Mr. Svenderson-” She turned to glance into his silvery grey eyes. He smiled reassuringly.

“Stefan is fine.”

“Stefan- do you happen to recognize that man?” She tried to keep the worry out of her voice.

“I do not, but I also don’t know a great many of the esteemed guests here, Ms. Yaoyorozu.”

“Oh, Emi’s fine- Ari. Ari’s fine.” She caught herself with an awkward laugh. “I guess I had somebody on my mind.” Luckily, he didn’t seem to care.

“Happens to the best of us, Ari. I see some of my friends over there - I’d love to introduce you to them.” Her eyes were trained on the black haired man, taking a cautious sip from a cocktail.

“That’d be lovely, but go ahead… I’ll… catch up.” She gave him a quick, fond smile, then started to walk for the black haired man. She needed to know what was in that bag of his, and she expected it was a whole lot of Retaliation. His eyes kept darting around, and locked on her as she approached. He didn’t smile. A shiver ran down her spine. He was definitely suspicious.

How was she supposed to get to his bag? She threw ideas around in her head as quickly as possible, throwing each of them away as quickly as they came up.

“Good evening. Are you here alone?” She gave him a bright smile and he held back a scoff.

“Not if you’re here. You planning on trying to change that?” What- What the hell?! Diplomacy, Emi, Diplomacy. Remember that.

“I just might.”

“Then you have terrible tastes. Yaoyorozu, was it?” Great, so he’d been listening in, too.

“I’ve the worst tastes, apparently. What’s your name?”

“Sakamoto. Your friend’s looking a little worried for you.” Emi glanced back at Stefan and smiled with a small wave. Sakamoto meant absolutely nothing to her- it was a pretty common name, but didn’t ring any bells.

“He’ll be fine without me. Why don’t we try the bar?” She tilted her head towards the crowded bar, hoping it’d give her a chance to dig into his bag while he was inebriated.

“How about we don’t.” God , he was impossible-

“Why don’t we try a room, then?” She forced her face to remain calm and pleasant. That got his attention.

“What?” His voice was dry and eyebrows narrowed.

“A room. This is a hotel, and there are several rooms open currently. We don’t have to take long.” She dialed up the seductive Ari from the mirror. He looked incredibly uncomfortable. Probably about as uncomfortable as she felt. She just had to keep the goal in mind - she was going to save everyone in that hotel one way or another, and she’d find Retaliation and maybe her boss would treat her a little more seriously. Emi touched his hand and she noticed the panic in his eyes. Goal.

She tugged his hand and he had no choice but to follow her if he didn’t want to make a scene. His eyes kept darting around, and his grip on his bag tightened. If she ignored his personality and the fact that he was likely a murderer, Emi found him surprisingly attractive. She just had to focus on that rather than her fear that he would likely attack her if she wasn’t careful. She wondered where Eraserhead was, and hoped that he had his wits about him in the slim chance that she’d made a mistake.

Emi dragged Sakamoto to a nearby room and closed the door. If there were any sounds outside, she’d have to make a swift retreat, but at least she’d be close enough to hear them.

“Why did you drag me here?” His voice was cold and he was on the alert. She kicked off her shoes and pushed him onto the queen bed - his bag fell next to him. Just a little more, and -

She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him. He made a sound against her mouth, but she pressed forward, ignoring him. He didn’t close his eyes when she kissed him. Dammit . After a few more moments, it appeared like he gave up resisting her, and instead tugged her waist closer to him. She felt his tongue and tried her best to keep herself on track.

For being a murderer, he was a damn good kisser. She almost wanted to visit him in jail.

She gasped for breath and his lips trailed down her neck, his fingers sliding up her thighs. Emi was no stranger to kissing people, but the way he touched her was very new. He grinned at the blush that spread across her face. His hips against hers weren’t close enough. Shit- she needed to focus . Her eyes glanced at his bag and he followed them, starting to connect the dots. He pulled her down and pinned her against the sheets - so close, but so far from the bag. His breath was hot against her neck.

“What’s your game, princess?” He asked, lips against hers. She froze. Maybe now would be a good time to use her quirk - dash it all.

“I have a job to do.” Her eyes narrowed and she activated her quirk.

Nothing happened.

She noticed his eyes glowing red, and her face paled.

“Oh god, no-” Realization hit her slowly and painfully. She brought her hands to her face in shame, swears dropping from her lips. She tried to get up, and he stopped her, one hand holding both of her wrists and the other holding her waist. Emi sighed. “I ruined everything, didn’t I, Eraser?” He twitched.

“Who are you?” It sounded like he was starting to understand the situation.

“I’m right, you’re Eraserhead, aren’t you? God, I’m such an idiot… I thought-”

Ms. Joke?” His voice was cold. She nodded, a hard blush across her face. He dropped her immediately and she collapsed into the sheets, bringing her hands back up to her face. He swore. “What the hell did you think you were doing?!”

“Listen- I connected some really bad dots and thought you were the dealer.” A dry laugh escaped his throat.

“Forget this happened. We need to get back to work.” As if to make things better, he opened the bag, revealing a large amount of binding cloth before going to the bathroom and cleaning the lipstick from his face. Ashamed, Emi got up to do the same.



* Shouta “Eraserhead” Aizawa *

 

The lipstick was almost as hard to remove as the shame Shouta felt for getting side tracked. When the dark-haired woman with the ridiculously nice figure pulled him away, he assumed that she’d caught onto him, that she was one of the dealers’ sidekicks. Who else would immediately try to get him away from the place he was surveying? Then Shouta figured the quickest way out of the mess was to play along with her.

All his boss had told him was that they’d sent him a partner who would be able to pull the dealer out of hiding, and it would be up to him to protect everyone from Retaliation. He didn’t expect Ms. Joke to be so young - or so bold . She fixed her lipstick quickly and pulled back on her heels and left the room while he was still on lipstick-removal duty. How strong was that stuff? If he ever had the chance to kiss her again, he’d ask her to kindly do without it.

He coughed awkwardly. Did he really just- he fixed his hair and pulled his bag over his shoulder. Good enough. She would likely be doing twice as much work after the five minutes they lost making out. He didn’t know if he was glad or upset they didn’t get farther. He pushed it from his mind.

Shouta had work to do. Now that he knew who his partner was, he felt a little more confident trying to find the people behind the gruesome deaths. But at the same time… a young partner who tried to sleep with a possible killer? He felt more worried than he did at the beginning of the night.  He wondered if it would work on anyone other than him, and mentally swore at himself, not wanting to picture the girl attempting to sleep with half the ballroom. He glanced in the large room, noticing her by her red dress immediately. She was back to talking with the Danish guy and his friends, a bright smile on her face. Shouta figured he should check out the premises. He made a loop around the outside of the ballroom halls, listening for damning whispers that would lead him to a deal or the source. A speech must’ve started in the ballroom, since there was a sudden rise in laughter.

Shouta went to check it out and found the room in hysterics, but with no feasible source. Then, he noticed her.

Ms. Joke was crumpled over, her laughter hoarse and rough, blood pooling from her mouth. Shouta raced to her side in a millisecond, and activated his quirk. She coughed up a bit of blood, and the laughter in the room immediately ceased, instead giving rise to shrieks and commotion. Even after he erased her quirk, Joke was twitching in his arms, green eyes wide and terrified, gasping for air. He kept his eyes locked onto her as he pulled out a phone, dialing for backup.

“Stefan Svenderson. It’s probably an alias. His accent dropped - he’s not with the Danish Heroes Alliance.” She immediately gave him the information through ragged breaths and he wiped the blood from her lips. “I took a picture, so-” She trembled and reached for him. Shouta pulled the phone from her bra and sent the picture to the agency. Joke was young and bold, but she shocked him with how seriously she took her mission, as he noticed that there were several pictures on her phone and most were blurry. She must’ve taken them after the drug kicked in. The laugh bubbled back up into her throat and he erased it again. It looked like he’d be staring at her for a long time, not that he minded too terribly, though the lack of blinking gave him a nightmarish dry eye.

Ingenium was the first to arrive and his sidekicks split up, helping the terrified guests and searching for the dealers. Shouta took the chance to carry Joke out, stepping carefully as his eyes remained locked on her. Her breathing was still ragged, and she clung to his shirt like it was her savior. He frowned slightly, wondering how long the drugs would stay in her system.

“Eraser?” Her voice came out in a tremble. He hummed in response. “Did I… do well? Did we get them?”

His lids lowered ever so slightly and he stroked her hair.

“You did a great job, Joke. We got them.” She gave a soft sigh and nuzzled against him, the tremors in her body beginning to relax.

 

Shouta breathed a sigh of relief as the doctors injected Joke with a quirk-suppressant and he was finally able to close his eyes. The two drugs counteracting each other were taking a toll on Joke’s body, so they put her under a sleeping gas as well. With her wig removed, and dark lipstick wiped away with the blood, it was hard to tell that this girl was the same woman from before. She looked so much smaller and weaker in her current state. Shouta began to stand up, then noticed that he was still holding her hand from when they originally put her in the ambulance. He sat back down with a sigh. He wasn’t in the mood to let her go.





* Emi “Ms. Joke” Fukukado *

 

Emi didn’t know how long she was out, or how much of the drug she’d thrown up once she was back in one piece. Luckily, the doctors told her that they’d secured samples of the Retaliation, and were working on creating antidotes. Her boss sent her a congratulatory text, letting her know that due to her efforts, Ingenium was able to catch all of the men behind the drug. Her body felt incredibly fuzzy, and she lost the confidence to try to get up from the hospital bed. There were flowers in the window. Her heart twitched a moment, wondering if they were from Eraserhead, but with a glance at the tag, found that Ingenium had sent them.

She wondered if she’d made up for her mistakes in the hotel room, or if she was going to be walking on thin ice around Eraserhead for years to come. She blushed at the memory, trying to push it from her mind.

There was a soft knock on her door that sounded more muffled than the crisp knocks of the doctors.

“You can come in.” Her voice still felt scratched from all the forced laughter. She had no clue how powerful her quirk could be if overused. She silently swore to never use it to that extent on another person in the future. She glued a bright smile to her face in case her boss walked in.

The man who walked in was definitely not her boss, with an uncomfortable expression, a serious case of dry eye, and a bouquet that she couldn’t imagine he initially walked into the hospital with. Her smile fell slightly into an expression of wonder. He looked nearly the same as he did before, except with his long waves freed from their half-bun. He… seriously hadn’t put on a disguise for an undercover mission?!

“You’re looking well.” Eraser’s voice was as awkward as his expression. Would it be considered… a pleasant scowl? The corners of her mouth twitched upwards slightly and she had to hold back a laugh. The doctors had told her to keep laughter to a minimum to protect her vocal chords.

“It’s thanks to you.” He nodded slightly, then handed her the bouquet, his other hand rubbing his neck.

“We couldn’t have caught the dealers without your quick thinking. You did a good job, Joke.” Her face flushed a bright red and he noticed, choosing to glance at Ingenium's flowers instead. She leaned forward, trying to force the blush away with a mischievous grin.

“I look forward to working with you again! Especially now that I know who to expect.” He pointedly ignored her insinuations.

“Depending on what the doctors say, we have a patrol scheduled for tomorrow evening.”

“That soon? Don’t tell me you’ve fallen for me, Eraser!” He choked and stared at her with a horrified expression. She covered her mouth to keep back the laughter. “I’ll make sure to get back on my feet as quickly as possible, then!”

“I kept our… interactions out of the report. Please don’t bring them up.” Eraser sighed, rubbing his forehead and trying to keep the blush at bay. Emi sighed in relief. He didn’t miss that. It was too bad for him that she just discovered the most interesting person to tease. Her mischievous smile returned to her lips.

“So maybe… we can continue our…interactions after the patrol?” She gave him a sly wink and he grimaced.

“I’ll let the boss know that you’re still recovering and won’t be able to make the patrol.” He was about to leave and she took his hand. He glanced back in surprise to see a soft smile on her lips.

“I look forward to working with you, Eraser.” He gave her a playful smirk. That’s when she knew it was all over for her.

“Don’t make me regret saving you, Joke.”