The Right Gift
Posted on 02/18/23 at 4:28am by Kohime Mori
Event: ReVival 23
After Revival 21
In a small Japanese restaurant, one Kohime Mori sat at a counter. Flaked to her right was her mentor, RAIKO. Sitting in front of her was a large bowl of noodles. It’s a bowl of ramen. This is Japanese style ramen, mind you, not that cheap shit you buy at a grocery store. An eager Kohime slapped her hands together in prayer.
“Itadakimasu!” Mori declared before grabbing the chopsticks to the right of the bowl. She slurped away at the noodles, gorging herself on one of her home country’s delicacies. RAIKO partook in a cup of black coffee. Contrary to her student, the teacher excused a lower level of energy. No words were spoken for a few minutes, Mori chowing down on the ramen while RAIKO nurses her warm caffeinated beverage. It’s RAIKO that ended up breaking the silence.
“Mori…” RAIKO said, her volume lower than usual. Kohime gazed over at her senior, looking like a human chipmunk trying to store the noodles for winter. RAIKO herself stared down at the porcelain cup holding her coffee. She speaks in Japanese. “I’m sorry. I was hoping to do something more grand for your first victory. Forgive me.”
Kohime unpacked her cheeks, struggling a bit to do so. A winded gasp came from the young woman. Eating ramen isn’t supposed to be exercise, yet Kohime had found a way to make it more difficult than necessary. With her attention still focused on RAIKO, Mori did one of the things she does best; She flashed a smile that would make the sun jealous.
“It’s fine!” Kohime said, also speaking in their native tongue. “I haven’t had good ramen in awhile, so this is a treat for me. Plus, even though I’m super pumped about the win, I know I can’t get too caught up in that. I have a long road ahead!”
These words were what finally drew the older woman to look at her charge. Mori’s attention was back on her food, so she didn’t see the way RAIKO was looking at her. When did this happen? When did the crybaby that ran out of her dojo after one hard chop start to mature? Mori was right, she did still have a long road ahead. But there was a chance she’d be traveling that road at high speed, even if the girl had no idea of it herself.
\ (•◡•) /
It was a few days after ReVival 22. Kohime had been doing two things in this time: Researching what the hell a cassette tape was and trying to figure out a return gift for Mortimer Knightingale. There was a good chance the large masked man wouldn’t expect such a thing, but that wasn’t the point. He had done something nice for her, so Kohime wanted to return the favor.
On the cassette front, Mori found out a few things. The tapes stopped being produced in 2002… The year Mori was born. She was a bit worried this would make it hard, if not impossible or incredibly pricey, to enjoy the gift given to her. Much to Kohime’s relief, it turned out cassette players were both available and affordable. No, seriously. Go Google it, they’re all of twenty bucks. One Amazon PRIME order later and Mori could enjoy some sweet tunes.
The Spice Girls were who Mori was most familiar with, mainly due to her mother. The musicals would be next on her known list, though Kohime was only vaguely knowledgeable of the actual plot of some of these. She was more of an anime geek than a theater nerd, though she did respect the arts. The older artists- Sinatra, Dean Martin and Ella Fitzgerald, were a new listening experience for her. Kohime hadn’t made up her mind on how she felt about them, but she’d probably seek out more of their stuff on Spotify.
With the cassette crisis solved, that left one big task. A monumental, gigaton sized task. What the blazes was she going to get Morty as a thank you? She could make a mixtape in return. Again, surprisingly, blank tapes are not only still around but don’t cost an arm and leg. Who knew? The availability of tools and resources wasn’t the problem. No, the issue laid in know-how. At twenty years old, Kohime had absolutely no idea how to even go about making a mixtape. She YouTube’d it but couldn’t quite wrap her head around the process.
This wasn’t the only issue. What music would she even include? Her tastes were in Japanese pop and video game music. Was Mort a gamer? How hardcore of one was he? Had he played anything newer than Super Mario Bros on the Famico- er, Nintendo Entertainment System? Japanese pop also seemed like a risky choice. Mori wouldn’t expect others not from her country to enjoy such music. Another direction was probably the best idea.
The mall would, Kohime hoped, be the cure for her gifting ailment. In particular, Macy’s was the top choice. What, you thought she’d go to Target? This girl has class, thank you! Maybe you want her to go to Walmart next? Pleb. Anyway, the scavenger hunt for present perfection was afoot. There were options. Many options. Dear god, options were not a problem. It was rather what direction to go in, what choice to make, that was going to make this difficult.
How about a toaster? Does Nightingale eat toast? How about Pop Tarts? Perhaps an English muffin was more his speed? Two slots or four? Sure, four sounds like the logical choice. That could be excessive though. She might have class, but Kohime isn’t bougie. Morty might get the wrong idea if presented with the extravagance of a four slot toaster. No need to insult the man or show off when this was supposed to be an act of kindness.
Appliances were probably just a bad idea in general. Something else was needed. But what? Inspiration was soon found thanks to a pushy sales associate. This woman was hocking perfume to any unfortunate person that ranged into her vicinity. Cologne! Maybe not the most original idea, but it could work. It was at least a better idea than a blender that may or may not end up as the home of all the kitchen dust. Kohime approached the other side of the scent section, hoping to avoid detection.
“Hello! Can I help you?” A rapidly approaching associate asked. Solid Snake, Mori was not. Kohime smiled politely, but it was the polite kind of smile that said ‘Please leave me the hell alone.’
“No!” The Moé Monster said, probably more emphatically than she intended. A calm course correction was in order. “No thank you… I’m just looking.”
“Yes ma’am. Just let me know if you need anything!” The woman working the cologne portion of the store advised her. Unchained from the shackles of mediocre assistance, Mori goes about searching. There were a lot of choices: Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, some other dude that does things most likely related to fashion. She had no idea who any of these people were or why their products were so damn pricey. It was obvious what needed to be done… Check out the cool or pretty looking bottles instead of brand names.
First up on the docket, a blue bottle with a gradient into clear. Finding a sample next to it, Kohime gave the test paper a sniff and it smelled… like paper. Maybe it was like a scratch and sniff deal? Turns out that action didn’t help much. She unscrewed the top of the display bottle and gave it a whiff. Still nothing. Was this water?! Were these bastards selling subpar wares?! Or maybe the contents of the bottle were defective? Either way, better to move on.
Behind door number two was a frosted black bottle with an inverted triangular shape. It certainly was a very cool looking bottle. One check of the sample? Disastrous. Kohime about fell on her ass. It was strong. Stupidly strong. Maybe Mortimer would like to smell like there was five of him all in the same general area? The safe bet was probably no to that. Who is he, Kenny Freeman? One was too mild. One was too strong. Would this next porridge smell just right?
A plain glass bottle with black text on the front. This vial was neither cool, nor cute. The name was L’homme naturel. If Mori was so compelled, she could pull out her phone and look up what that meant. This was no time for a Spanish lesson though. The name wasn’t important, it was the jar’s liquid that was. Kohime cautiously sniffed the example. A promising start. Off came the top and on with the real test. This stuff? This stuff was good. Masculine, but not overpowering. Rustic without shoving a pine cone up your nose. We had a winner.
There had to be something else, something more. The cologne idea was good, but Mori really wanted Mr. Nightingale to know how much she appreciated what he had made for her. She had good fortune stumbling onto the scent idea. What else could she get? The first gift made her think of her father. What would he like for a present? The answer was obvious. A tie. Who doesn’t need a tie? Probably a man that never seems to wear anything but a tracksuit. Ignoring this fact, or more likely never even considering it, Kohime marched forward.
Challenge met her head on. Did she want a standard tie or a skinny one? Maybe she could be bold and get him a bolo or bow tie? The standard tie was the safe option. Even then, there were so many options. Did she want a solid color? Stripes? Polka dots? Maybe a print? It was the prints that drew her attention. One was blue with little alligators on it. Irritation. It made her think of her upcoming opponent, a clearly deranged and blood thirsty woman named Violet Samuelson. More like Violent Samuelson!
How could she not be considered as such? CROCODILE DEATH MATCH. What the hell would that even entail?! Now sure, it was her daughter that suggested such a thing. Come on, though. There had to be some culpability as a parent. Her daughter learned that crap from somewhere! It could have been her father’s fault. No free passes here, though. You live by the child proposed death crocodile, you die by the child proposed death crocodile.
Enough about that, though. Alligators and crocodiles aren’t even the same anyway. Gift. Tie. Focus. As previously stated, there wasn’t a lack of options. One particular tie caught Kohime’s attention. A black tie. Satin, slick, clean, classic. It was perfect. Versatile to go with about anything, with just enough flash to stand out if such a thing was wanted. Mori eagerly snapped it up. Pleased with her combo of presents, she headed towards the checkout counter. Kohime was going to knock Morty’s socks off. At least he’d have a tie still on.
Kohime stared at her phone. She had just gotten off the device with RAIKO. Between their travel schedules and some personal issues in SHOOT Project she was dealing with, the teacher would not be making the trip to New Orleans. Kohime would be on her own and it would most likely remain that way going forward. It was bound to happen eventually, but this early? Was the baby bird really ready to fly on her own?
She knew she didn’t have much of a choice. Really, this wasn’t all bad. Standing on her own, using her own strength, that would make things mean more going forward. Kohime had come to the United States to better herself, after all. If she was constantly under her sensei’s guidance, there was a chance she might not grow the way she should. Her upcoming match was now even more important than it was prior. She had passed her first test, but now she faced a bigger one.
There was, of course, sadness. Though RAIKO had always been hard on Mori, she was also her biggest supporter. When she shied away from confrontation on Jabber, RAIKO was quick to defend her instead. Kohime felt like she had a second mother… A hard drinking, cigarette smoking, foul mouthed mother, but a second mother nonetheless. It was going to be hard being away from her. A phone call, a text message, they weren’t the same as having a conversation in person. Not for someone as sentimental as Mori.
She had some decisions to make. She could continue with her old training routine or change it up. In their discussion, it was something RAIKO had touched on. Part of the growing process was figuring things out for yourself. Who one really wanted to be as a wrestler was ultimately up to them. It wasn’t really something Kohime had considered prior to this. In reflection, that was fairly irresponsible of her. It didn’t take long to make a choice. She would keep the old training regimen, but double it. It was a way to honor her mentor while also seeking betterment.
Mori wanted to make RAIKO proud. The older woman didn’t have to take her in as a student. Their first interaction made it clear that RAIKO had a set of standards. Meet them or leave. It wasn’t quite draconian, but the Sadistic Samurai was old school. You earned your wrestling education if you trained under her. Kohime had learned that. Eddie Cross had as well. Her future students would too. Being her very first student gave Kohime a sense of pride. She needed to show RAIKO’s faith in her was justified.
That wasn’t all. This wasn’t just for RAIKO. It was for Kohime. Mori knew she was a gentle, fairly selfless soul. She often tried to raise others, rather than tear them down. It wasn’t easy trying to stay on the high road. It wasn’t a matter of superiority or righteousness. Kohime liked seeing people happy. Bringing smiles to other people’s faces made her smile. She was just a naturally upbeat person.
She couldn’t keep that attitude in the ring. Mori knew she zoned in when she was wrestling. There was a notable shift in her personality when in combat. She needed to push that further, enhance it. If there was one thing drilled into her head in the dojo, it was that weakness in wrestling was punished. You can be a good person while still being a scourge when grappling. Kohime wanted to embrace that Monster part of her nickname. She could save the Moé part for Jabber.
Kohime snatched up her workout gear and stormed into the bathroom. She emerged minutes later clad in black spandex shorts and a sleeveless pink top. Her usual jovial aura was absent, replaced with one of pure determination. Just thinking about it wouldn’t accomplish anything. Action was what was needed. No time like the present. There was much work ahead and Kohime was ready to get to it.
┻━┻ ︵ヽ(`Д´)ﾉ︵ ┻━┻
AHHHHHH! I GOT MY FIRST WIN!!! I do feel a little bad, though. Mr. McGee seems like he glitched out. Someone should see if they can update his software. I know he’s a human, so I have absolutely no idea how one would go about doing that. Maybe turn him off and on again? I don’t know. What do you think, Diary? I’d share that thought on Jabber, but I don’t want to get made fun of… There’s some really nice people in PRIME, but some others aren’t so kind and I feel like I’d get roasted for saying such things.
I don’t think Mr. Gamble likes me very much. I get it, that’s just the way things are sometimes. But I know him and Mr. Nightingale hang out… I don’t want to cause problems there. Morty is my friend, though. He’s really the first person I’ve had significant in-person interaction with. It’s funny to think about… We almost weren’t friends! Thankfully, Morty forgave me for getting him all wet with coffee. I hope it didn’t end up staining his tracksuit. I wonder if those are custom ordered?
He even gave me a gift! I have no idea how he made it, but it was kind of like a personal playlist. I had to buy a cassette player, but I didn’t mind. Have you ever seen a cassette, Diary? These things used to be popular, can you believe that?! Cars could even play them! You know you’ve made it when they’re putting your technology in cars. Anyway, I want to give him my gift at the next ReVival. I hope I bump into him!
Speaking of ReVival, I have another match in my quest to become the Alias champion! My opponent is Violet Samuelson. I wonder if that’s her real last name? Do you think she knows how to make Swedish meatballs, Diary? Those are delicious! Homemade is better, though. Store bought stuff is never quite as good, you know? Maybe if I win, she’ll share the recipe with me?! I’m a pretty decent cook, so I think I could pull them off!
There’s a problem, though. This proposed Crocodile Deathmatch business. I’m told she didn’t say that and she doesn’t condone the idea. I should hope not! Crocodiles are people too! Okay, well, they’re not people, they’re reptiles… But they deserve their reptile rights! Who’s this Violet Samuelson to go around telling crocadillies what they have to do?! What if they don’t want to be in deathmatches where they’d bite me and I’d cry and possibly die?! I’ll tell you, Diary, some people think they can get away with anything!
Being serious though, I have to win this match. I’m on my own now. It’s kind of scary… It’s like when you’re a kid and you have to go to school for the first time without your mom. You have to be strong then and I have to be strong now. I can’t have my hand held forever. This is a chance for me to show everyone that my first win wasn’t lucky, that I deserved it. I want to be respected. Getting as far as I can in this tournament will help with that. I can’t let RAIKO-sensei down. I can’t let my fans down. I can’t let you down, Diary. And I can’t let myself down. It’s time to take a big step forward. Thanks again for listening, Diary. Please don’t be jealous of Morty!