He Ain’t No Florence
Posted on 03/30/23 at 1:47am by Kohime Mori
Event: CULTURE SHOCK 2023 NIGHT ONE
The room was quiet, dark. That’s how she wanted it. It matched her mood, it reflected the current state of her heart. Kohime Mori had barely crawled out of bed in the days after the assault by Mortimer Knightingale. The mood would pass, but that day wasn’t today. Depression was still on the menu, no other courses served.
There had been an outpouring of support in the days after Mortimer’s actions. Kohime absolutely appreciated it, but it was tough to look past the dark clouds in front of her. Mori had received a number of texts; some encouraging her to keep her head up, some threatening bodily harm to Knightingale and a particularly fun one from Nate Colton. It just felt like none of it mattered, unfortunately.
On this particular day, it was a knock at her apartment door that drew Kohime out of bed. She wasn’t particularly keen on having any interaction with anyone, but her natural politeness forced her body up and out of bed. Opening the door a good minute or two after the knock, she found no signs of humanity. Instead, what she found was a large box. She slowly picked it up, the container a bit heavier than expected.
Half-heartedly closing the door behind her, Mori carried the box over to a low sitting Japanese heating table in the living room. She demurely peeled the tape off the top, slowly pulling the cardboard flaps back. The box was packed nearly to the brim with something wrapped in plastic. What initially caught Mori’s attention though, was a piece of paper sitting on top. She reached for the paper carefully, face riddled with concern. She held it up and looked at it. It was a note, one written in Japanese.
I saw what happened. Rarely have I been as angry as I was that night. However, there’s little I can do. This has to be your fight. You have to be willing to fight through your sadness. I know there’s a chance you may not face him in the finals. Regardless, I got you a gift. Wear it with pride. You’ve shown so much growth. Don’t let one dickhead ruin that for you. I won’t be there in person, but you know I’ll be watching. I’m proud of you.
Caution shifted to curiosity. What could her teacher have possibly gotten her? She pulled the item encased in plastic from the box. It was a large garment of some sort on a hanger. Clumsily pushing the plastic upward, Mori finally revealed what was underneath. It was a long, thick kimono style robe. The base was white satin. It was trimmed with a heavy amount of purple synthetic fur around the edges and the bottom of the sleeves. On the back was her name, written in kanji in purple.
Kohime held the coat and stared for a beat. She soon pulled out close to her, hugging it tight. It was not just a gesture of kindness, but one that showed belief in her. Still holding the garment close, Mori noticed there was something else still in the box. Slinging the kimono over her shoulder, she dipped back into the package. What she found was a bag with a replica of her ring gear. Instead of rose gold with white trim, it was white with purple trim. RAIKO had really gone above and beyond for her.
She carried the items back to her bedroom, flicking a light on in the process. Mori opened the door to her closet, pushing hangers of shirts, pants, dresses and skirts to the left. She reached with her right hand to grab her gift off her left shoulder, holding it by the hanger. Kohime gently placed it on the metal bar running across the length of the closet. She used her right hand to smooth out the plastic, wanting the item to stay pristine until it was time.
The Moé Monster then made her way over to her dresser. Having been clutching the alternate attire against her body with her left arm, Mori used both hands to put the bag down. She opened it up, spreading the items across the top. She gazed at the outfit. Though Kohime loved her usual ring gear, this was certainly crisp looking. RAIKO had even gone to the trouble of getting her white kneepads and white wrestling boots. Normally, she would be excited with such a gift. Right now? She could only feel a deep pit in her stomach.
The thoughts she had done her best to repress came to the forefront. There was a 50-50 chance she’d have to face Mortimer in the Alias Title finals. Even if Darin Zion triumphed, that didn’t let her off the hook. There was still the battle royal as well. The probability of having to face him was going to be hard to avoid. Could she really do it? Could she look into those eyes that had gazed into hers with love and kindness before doing battle with their owner? Did she really have it in her?
Hoping to avoid Knightingale wasn’t an option. This wasn’t high school anymore, she couldn’t run to an empty stairwell to cry because bullies were picking on her. She was a professional wrestler now. She was an adult. Mori dreaded the potential confrontation. She couldn’t run, at least not away from it. Kohime knew that. The problem was finding the strength and motivation to instead run towards it. She had the support of friends and fans. She had the confidence of her sensei. That was all nice. Unfortunately, Kohime had to find confidence in herself… And she wasn’t sure she could do it in time.
ReVival 25. Kohime thought it best if she didn’t attend in person. Instead, dressed in a tank top and jammy pants, the cloth of the heating table covering her legs, she sipped hot tea in the comfort of her apartment. She wasn’t exactly focused on the show, her mind wandering to other things. At least, that was the case until the interview. Said segment had Simon Tiller on the mic. Standing with him? Mortimer Knightingale.
Kohime was no longer distracted. Like a robot with specific programming, Mori locked her gaze onto the screen. Her ears took in everything he had to say, blocking out all other noise. Nothing else mattered right now, only what she saw in front of her, only the words Mortimer spoke. By the end of the talk, there was really only one thing that stuck with her. One sentence, one word in particular, had lodged itself into her brain.
Her. That’s what he said. Her. He didn’t use Kohime’s name. Sure, one could argue Mortimer’s statement was vague enough that there’s a chance it wasn’t directed at her. Anyone that would argue that is an idiot, of course, but the world is full of them. What did this mean? Why couldn’t he use Mori’s name? She could only think of two possibilities.
Was it shame? Was he embarrassed and hurting, hiding that pain on the inside the same way his mask hid his face? Was there suffering that he chose to ignore? Maybe Mortimer did have a broken heart and speaking her name would only fracture the pieces further? It was what Kohime wanted to be true. She wanted to know that it wasn’t just her in agony, that what they had really did matter to Mort. That being said, there was the second possibility…
Mortimer Knightingale was selfish. Whatever you want to call what they had, it mattered less than his own success and wants. If this was true, it meant a lot of the words spoken, the gestures of kindness? They were fake, a smoke screen to hide his true character. Mori didn’t want to accept that. She didn’t want to believe that the joy they shared, the kindness shown to each other was just a game of some sort.
Kohime couldn’t decipher the truth. His body language, his words, his attempt to completely ignore her… It all made a pretty strong case for option 2. Even the tiny bit of light she could hold on to, that he’d give her an explanation, had a tinge of selfishness to it. After all, it wouldn’t come until HE was ready, when HE decided it was time. Mori’s feelings, her input, that didn’t matter.
Her mind waffled back and forth. She had tried so hard. She wanted to believe there was goodness in everyone, that there was no such thing as a lost cause. The problem is you can only be lost if you’re of course from your desired destination. If you choose to take a detour and ignore your original plans… Well, you’re no longer lost then, are you? That seemed to be the choice Mortimer made. You can’t help those that don’t want it.
While contemplating this conundrum, the match between Darin Zion and Mortimer started. Robot mode, re-engage! Mori found herself cheering for a Mortimer victory. From a tiny piece of her heart, she was genuinely cheering for him to win. That piece wanted to see his hand raised, see Knightingale jubilant after a victory. Even after everything, Kohime struggled to show the same callousness that was shown to her.
The larger piece, coming from her brain, wanted a Mort victory because it meant he had to face her. He couldn’t hide. He couldn’t run. Even if he wouldn’t give her an explanation that night, he’d have to at least deal with the wrestling side of her. Mori wanted to believe it would be her anger he’d be dealing with. She was being honest with herself though. Anger, rage, it didn’t come naturally to her. Even after being wronged, she couldn’t guarantee she was capable of conjuring up such emotion.
Then Mortimer kneed Zion right in the no-no spot. That was it. That was the sign. This was who Mortimer really was. The man that treated her with kindness, that wooed her with words and gifts… That may have been a piece of him, but it wasn’t who he was. Kohime’s eyes were open now. She could feel it in the pit of her stomach. A burning, as if she were going to vomit fire. Her face was warm, blood not just rising upward but figuratively boiling.
He had made a fool of her. Maybe it wasn’t intentional, but it happened regardless. She bought into his act, his pseudo-caring falsehood. To think she disliked the way Tony Gamble and his goons treated Mort… yet he chose them over her. Why? Because it was easy? So he could act like a jerk with little responsibility for his actions? Mori cared. She wanted the best for him. That was apparently too much for Knightingale.
Kohime shot up off the couch, stomping off to her bedroom. She emerged minutes later. She was clad in a loose fitting tank top over a sports bra, spandex shorts and sneakers. She was done moping. She was tired of her heart hurting. There was one solution in her mind. Payback. Mortimer broke her heart… So she wanted to break something of his.
┻━┻ ︵ヽ(`Д´)ﾉ︵ ┻━┻
There weren’t many people at the gym, not at this time of night. It was a bit auspicious that a number of training facilities were 24/7 nowadays. It allowed a pissed off Japanese girl to work off steam. As Mori entered the gym, a worker at the front desk welcomed her.
“Hi there!” The woman offered a cheerful greeting. “How can we help you today?”
The calm of Kohime’s face belied the storm inside.
“Punching bags.” Mori answered flatly. “Do you have any?”
“We sure do!” The worker replied, chipper as she was a second ago. “There’s free standing ones to the back left corner and one hanging one.”
“Thanks.” Mori said, paying a fee before making her way towards the back. Though she had changed at home, Kohime had a gym bag slung over her shoulder. After a short trek, she found the area the woman had spoken of. Mori carefully moved the standing bags off to the side, giving her plenty of room to strike the standing bag.
She walked over to a row of chairs lined up against the wall. She placed her gym bag in one and slowly unzipped it. Reaching inside, Mori produced two items. One was a roll of heavy packing tape. The other was a piece of paper. Printed out on the paper was a picture of Mortimer Knightingale and his stupid masked face. Pinning the paper under her left arm, Kohime pulled out a long piece of tape. She used the teeth on the dispenser to cut it free.
She carefully placed the paper on the bag, placing the tape along the right side. Both hands free now, Mori ripped off 3 more pieces of tape. She placed each on a free side, leaving the picture of Mort secure and in place. She casually tossed the tape back towards her bag. It missed and clunked to the ground, but Kohime paid it no mind. She had her target in her sights.
She stared at the picture for a moment. The good memories, the awkward but enjoyable talks, the mixtape, the compliments, they all came flooding back. Her lip quivers and she could feel her eyes beginning to water. Those good times, the enjoyable memories were soon replaced. The punches, choosing G.A.S. over her… She blinked back the tears before using her forearm to dry her eyes and face. The sadness that riddled her face was replaced.
Kohime hardened, wearing a look of a warrior ready to go into battle. She again stared at the picture. There were no tears this time. Her right fist tightened, so much so her whole arm began to tremble. She slowly raised said arm, bent at the elbow, a surprising sized bicep formed. Mori looked at her arm before shooting a side eyed gaze at the Morty-adorned bag. Her eyes narrowed and her jaw clenched.
With a loud grunt, Kohime lunged forward and smacked the bag with a lariat! It flew backwards before jerking around wildly on the front swing. She grabbed it a few seconds later, stopping its wanton momentum and steadying it. Mori pulled back again, smashing her arm into the equipment a second time. The back swing was even further this time. It came back again swinging in random directions, as if possessed by a drunken ghost.
She again took the time to settle the catastrophic energy of the punching bag. Mori took a few steps back, vision seeing nothing but the unmoving bag and the picture of Mortimer. The mask made him look fat, by the way. Striding forward, she blasted the bag one more time with the hardest lariat her body could muster! The sand filled apparatus flung backward… and didn’t come back.
Between the repeated stress of Kohime’s lariats and the poor, slightly rusted condition of the chain holding it, the bag snapped off from its cable! It slid about a foot before the cold concrete of the floor stopped its journey. Her eyes panned up to the now broken links before lowering to the grounded bag. The Moé Monster calmly approached the battered gear, gazing down at it.
She slowly reached down with both hands, grabbing the still intact hanger on each side. She pulled the bag upright, pausing afterwards. Mori squatted slightly before flinging the bag upwards! She caught it in an awkward, but deliberate manner; her right arm on the undersize, the left hugged around it near the top. Satisfied with her grip, Kohime dropped back, chucking the bag overhead in a similar fashion to her Exploder Suplex. It landed with a loud smack, bouncing once before stopping further movement.
Mori stayed laying on the ground, staring up at the ceiling. She took a deep breath in, her exhale far more quick. She sat up, swimming around onto a knee before standing. She stalked the broken equipment, again grabbing what used to secure it to the ceiling. Kohime repeated her action from before, jerking it upright. Paper Mortimer was still hanging on, but was worse for wear.
There were now tears in the paper, including a rather large one from the middle edge towards almost dead center of the print out. She bent down to examine further. The sight of knackered Knightingale caused Kohime to close her eyes, an unsteady sigh emanating from her person. Opening her eyes again, she focused on the picture, remorse riddled on her face. Mori leaned forward, planting a gentle kiss on the cheek region of the print out.
Again, her expression shifted. No time for regrets, no time to mourn liars. She had a title to win and an ass to beat. Up the bag went again, caught in mostly the same way as a few minutes ago. Away it went again, looking like a body ejected from a vehicle during a crash. Though still intact, the leather of the bag was now horribly scuffed. Breathing heavy now, Kohime pushed herself to her feet.
She walked over to the bag, grabbing the chain and lackadaisical drug it back close to where it once hung. Mori took one last look at the taped picture. It was practically shredded now, mostly unrecognizable. She strode over to the set of chairs, picking up the tape and tossing it into her bag before zipping it up. The Japanese woman pulled her bag back over her shoulder and started her way towards the front of the building.
“Wow, looks like you got quite the workout in!” The woman from before marveled to the sweat soaked Kohime. Mori chuckled nervously, opening her gym bag again. She pulled out her wallet, securing a card from inside and gently placing it on the top of the desk the woman was seated behind.
“Um, yeah… I owe you a new punching bag.”
I still don’t know how it came to this. I was so excited. I was in the finals! I would get a chance to win my first title! It was a dream come true! I’ve heard the saying to be careful when things are too good to be true. I’m not a pessimist by nature, I don’t like to think that way. Reality hit me quick, though… Twice.
Why do people do bad things, Diary? Why would someone say they adore you before hurting you? I adore my parents. I would never hit them. I adore RAIKO-sensei. I wouldn’t raise a hand to her. I adore my friend, So-jun. I would never think to harm her in any way. So why? Why say such a thing?
I’m not sure I can fully hate Morty. I don’t like what he did. I’m actually pretty mad about it, if I’m being honest. It’s not even the punches that bother me. It’s what the punches meant. He severed our friendship. He chose himself and G.A.S. over me. He broke my heart…
I know I’m being a bit selfish. I’m not sure how he’s feeling now. Mortimer told Tony Gamble no more rude remarks about me. He said he’d give me an explanation when it was time. He’s clearly got something on his mind. But I’m supposed to be his friend! Friends talk about their problems, they help each other out!
Even if Morty is conflicted, he made his choice. He can’t fix it. How could he? An apology wouldn’t be enough. Gifts can’t mend what he shattered. Meals together won’t fill the void he created. That’s what bothers me most. Morty willingly did this. His big speech to Tony is meaningless now. His praise of me, the kind words, they’re worthless now.
You know Dairy, this would be so much easier if Mr. Zion had won. Yes, it would still be the biggest match of my career. I’d still be under great pressure. But now, I have to fight Morty AND myself. I have to fight the feelings I had. I have to fight the urge to just clobber him the moment I see him. The battle between brain and heart is not an easy one.
I know what I have to do. I know what I’m going to do. I’m gonna win the Alias championship. I’m gonna to do it for me. I’m gonna do it for what Morty and I used to be… Even if I have to hurt him to do it. I would say wish me luck, Diary… But I’m not the one that’s gonna need it.
Your soon-to-be Alias Champion,