Noriko Kakyoin blinked, trying to situate herself. "Welcome back to the world of the living, Noriko." She turned toward the voice, and after a moment, recognized Thelesa. "How do you feel?"
"I've been better." The redhead admitted, sitting up. She felt one of Hierophant Green's tentacles slither up her arm, and she gently clutched it, feeling the familiar coolness wrap itself around her arm in an imitation of holding it. It felt good to have her oldest friend back to her side.
"So, being a puppet, what did it feel like?" The gamer asked, pulling herself a chair to sit down next to Noriko's bed.
Right. The experiment.
"Well, for starters, all of my senses got downgraded." Started the redhead as more of her Stand's tentacles started slithering up her limbs, both to see if it hadn't weakened while it was out-of-service and to help Noriko, who wasn't quite used to a body of flesh anymore, move. "My hearing was like if I was a few places away, my vision was kind of blurry, my sense of touch felt muted, and I simply couldn't smell or taste. I also didn't feel the urge to eat, but I did feel sleepy at times. My motor skill were also limited." A pause, and then "By the way, you're a shitty puppet caretaker."
Thelesa looked at her, unimpressed. "And you're saying that because?"
"Well, for starters, you left me out on the table for everyone to see while the newbie made me a makeshift bed, so that's already a minus for you." Noriko snarked, earning herself an eye roll from the older woman. "After that, the souls you keep captive. Locked in a dark closet all year with nothing to stimulate their already fucked up senses? No wonder they start crying when you let them out."
"...That is a possibility, yes." Thelesa admitted. "I just thought they wanted to go back to their bodies."
"It's because they do , you freaking sociopath!" Noriko exclaimed before throwing a pillow in Thelesa's direction, who simply took a step to the left to avoid it, still looking at Noriko as she slowly moved her limbs, letting all sensations return to her body while she, ironically, let her Stand puppet her around. "Still, thanks for holding your word. I thought I was supposed to be released on Friday, though? It's only Thursday."
"Yeah, well…" Started Thelesa as she looked off to the side. "Remember Jotoka?"
"I've spent the last three days or so in her bag, so yes."
"She… threatened me into putting you back in your body." The gamer admitted, pulling a surprised snort from the redhead. "Hey, I can't read her soul properly, okay? It's constantly covered by stress static. And she caught me off-guard!"
"What did she even threaten you with? Breaking your Playstation?"
"To get her Stand to rip off my arms and beat me to death with them herself." Oh.
"Dear god…" muttered the redhead. "She wanted me back in my body that much? Why? Does she want to talk to me?" The redhead wasn't exactly used to being wanted.
The gamer just shrugged. "Meh, I don't care about her reasons. But you do have some responsibilities to fulfill around here, since, ya know, you're the only one beside Lord Dea to be able to get close to Haruko without the kid bursting into tears, for some reason." Noriko nodded, remembering the newborn.
"Alright, I'm gonna go check on Haruko later. But before that, can you let Jotoka in? And leave, too. I want to talk to her alone." Noriko asked. Thelesa groaned, but acquiesced, leaving the room. After a moment, the other teenager came in, and nothing, not her first sight of the girl through blurry puppet eyes or her wildest dreams back when she wanted a friend before everything else, did her justice.
Puppet Noriko did not do Human Noriko justice, Jotoka distantly thought. Beside the fact the fact that her eyes were a shade of purple and not two white dots on an endless void for a sclera, her hair looked softer, the freckles were much more subtle, the angles of her face weren’t as prominent, her miko uniform (if we forgot the fact that it was green and black instead of red and white) looked authentic and not like something out of a cheap halloween store, and it wasn’t set in the expression of despair the doll constantly had. Proof: the redhead was currently looking at her with an expression that wasn’t despair.
Fuck if Jotoka knew what emotion it was, but it wasn’t despair. Her purple eyes were wide and focused on the teenager, her mouth was slightly opened and her thin eyebrows were slightly raised, but not in the way someone would do if they were surprised. There was no wrinkle in her forehead.
Jotoka turned her head, avoiding the purple gaze. “Hi.” She offered to the redhead, who closed her mouth. There was a short period of awkward silence.
“Hello.” Noriko answered. “I think you already know, but I’m Kakyoin Noriko. It’s nice to see I’m not the only japanese teenager in this flying circus anymore.”
“Yeah, I guess it is.” Jotoka said as she turned toward the teenager, before deciding that fuck it, she didn’t want to speak english right now. “I’m Kujo Jotoka.” She said in japanese.
“It’s nice to officially meet you.” Noriko answered, also in japanese and with a smile. She then gestured to the chair on the side of her bed. “Why don’t you sit down?”
Jotoka nodded, sitting in the chair and keeping her eyes tracked on Noriko’s face, which had a faint smile on it. “I, uh…” what do people say for compliments. “I like your hair.” That’s a compliment, right? And her hair is pretty, so it’s not like I’m lying...
Noriko’s smile faltered for a second. “...Thanks. It used to be longer, though. Someone… someone forcibly cut it before I came here.” Shit, I'm really bad at this.
Jotoka averted her gaze, feeling embarrassment creep up her spine before she sighed. “I’m sorry about that. Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure.” Noriko said, nodding her head slightly. Jotoka nodded back, before pointing to the strange green and white and moving bracelets poking from under one of Noriko’s ample sleeve. "What's that ."
Noriko giggled a little, catching the taller girl off-guard. “That’s my Stand, Hierophant Green. I’ve had it since childhood, and… it’s powers are a little hard to explain…” she admitted, rubbing the back of her head. Jotoka scooted closer, and she sighed, resolving herself to explain it. “My Stand is a long rage one, which means I can control it from afar. While it can take an humanoid form, Hierophant’s real form is a bunch of strings I can control without problems. It also constantly produces a liquid, that I can harden at will to create emeralds. We’re working on making that into an attack.” She said as she brought one of her hands up, smiling as her Stand started coiling up in her hand. Her expression then dropped. “It can also possess people, but uh… I don’t like using that power that much…”
Jotoka nodded. “Does it have, like… a personality?”
“It does, actually.” Noriko acquiesced. “It prefers dark, small spaces to large, open ones, and likes ripping things apart. I know where the first part comes from- I’m slightly agoraphobic -but I’m scared of knowing where the second part comes from…”
“I dunno.” Jotoka said with a shrug. “Maybe you just got some issues to work through.”
“That’s… a possibility…” admitted the redhead as her hand came under her chin, thinking. “But enough about me. What about your Stand?”
"It punches people." Jotoka said with a shrug, because it was true. But Noriko was staring at her with an expectant gaze, the one people gave Jotoka when they expected her to say more, and for once, she found herself being okay with it. "It, uh… it doesn’t go too far away from me, so I guess it's… close-range?" The redhead nodded, edging her on. "It, uh, it either manifests out of my body or like, over it? My arms get replaced by it's, I mean."
"I get what you're talking about." Noriko stated with a nod. "What about it's strenght and speed?"
"It's really strong, and really fast. I don't really have the best control over it, tho. Sometimes, it just… comes out." Jotoka admitted. Noriko looked at her with a tilted head, as if she expected her to say more. "Uh… the first time it came out, I was being cornered." She started. "It wasn't the first time I fought these guys, but it was the first time they brought knives." One of her hand reached for her leather gloves, pulling them off before she started unwrapping the bandages that wound around her forearms and a good part of her hands, leaving her fingers the only thing exposed. "And they… they actually did some damage with them. There was a lot of them- I pissed off a lot of people -and normally I would have seen it coming, but some fuck tried slashing at me from the back. I turned in time to avoid it, but… he still got me." And with that, she raised her forearms, showing the redhead the gasped on each arm.
Noriko gasped. Jotoka expected that reaction, but not for her to reach out for one of her hand to pull it toward her, lightly brushing her fingers against the still-bruised knuckles. God, the first time the spirit came out really fucked up her hands, didn't it? "Your Stand did this to you?"
"Yeah… at first, I thought I was possessed by an evil spirit. I know better know. It's just trying to protect me." Jotoka said with a shrug, remembering her complete breakdown from yesterday. She then remembered the reason why she came to speak to the redhead. "Hey, you're a teenager too, right?"
"Yeah." Noriko confirmed, giving her hand back to Jotoka. "I'm actually 14."
"Cool. Me too. Yeah, yeah, I know. I look like I'm already an adult." Jotoka said dismissively at Noriko’s surprised expression. "But uh… do your parents… know?"
The redhead expression fell down, eyes downcast on the bed with the long curl of her bangs hiding her face. "They don't. It was… it was too dangerous for me to stay with them due to a bunch of things, so I ran away. I lived in the streets or a while, and I came here thanks to another Stand user that was visiting Japan at the time. She doesn't work with Dea, tho."
"Who was it?"
"I don't know, some weird italian pink-haired woman. She told me there were other Stand users in Egypt, and even bought me a plane ticket so I could come here." Noriko was clearly omitting something, but Jotoka decided not to pry.
"So… your parents don't know you here?" The taller girl asked.
Noriko’s answer was to smile sadly as tears started to corner in her eyes. "They probably think I'm dead . I came to Egypt using a fake name the lady who told me about this place gave me. So I'm not seeing them again anytime soon."
Jotoka lowered the bill of her hat, hiding her eyes from view. “Sorry. I didn’t want to pry. It’s just… I need advice on something.”
Noriko wiped the tears from her eyes, before nodding. “It’s fine.” She then got up from the bed, stumbling a bit. Jotoka raised from her chair to help her stand up properly. “Do you mind if we continue this chat in another room? I have something to attend to.”