Magical Juggernaut Heather Crunch versus Magical Guro Amber Nakajima

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Heather guarded.png

So, I have found both Nakajima and Other Nakajima. I do not know where they were before now, but, currently, the both of them are in my living room and wearing their maid attire. Nakajima has now perched herself on the back of the sofa, and is tugging at her apron while staring intently at me. Other Nakajima is seated in an easy chair, her dull gaze boring into me.

Why is Nakajima back? What are they doing here? This isn’t something I was ready for. I am actually more uncomfortable now than I was with the Soul Temperer. And it is not simply from the lack of swords. The conversations about ‘love’, and the last incident with Nakajima, appear fresh in my mind once more, stirring unwanted emotions.

I can’t let this get to me. I’m better than this.

“So, uh,” Nakajima begins, returning me from my brief reverie, “you’re doing okay now?” I give a very small nod after a moment’s hesitation.

The smallest traces of a smile appear on her face, and she gestures towards the couch behind her. Beckoning me to sit in my living room, on my couch. Cautiously, I walk myself over. It’s not that I want to join them or anything like that, but rather I need to regain control here. I need to show that I am unafraid, that I am not going to let my feelings from before allow them to walk all over me. In spite of my nervous expression, I am resolute in my conviction. I must steel my will. If I let my guard down, then this devious maid would have me wrapped around her finger. Something that I cannot allow, for both my sake and everyone else’s.

I sit on the opposite end of the couch, erecting a pillow barrier between her and myself, and say nothing.

“Do you, like, need a hug or something?” Nakajima suddenly asks. I look incredulously at her – not believing she said something so ridiculous - so she clarifies: “Do you need a hug to make you feel not mopey?”

“No, I do -not- need a hug!” I exclaim insistently, standing up and knocking my pillow to the floor. “I am –fine-!” Somehow, this assertion brings much of her normal, coy smile back to her face, as though this played into her plans. I point a finger at her accusingly. “What’re YOU doing back here anyway?” I demand, wanting to know what she’s SCHEMING. “When you departed, there was a certain -finality- to it. Did you –somehow- change your mind?” Not that I care especially that she’s back! I’m more interested in –why-!

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“Pfft, we never left,” Nakajima says. The shifty snake of a girl slides headfirst down onto the couch cushions, and then flops into a sitting position. “We were hiding. Like ninjas!” She emphasizes the ninjas part, somehow, by waving her hands.

“We were observing you remotely the entire time,” the Other Nakajima explains, viewing her sister’s antics with all the expressiveness of a shell-shocked eggshell. “It allowed us to keep an eye on you and find the perfect opportunity to strike.”

So I –was- right after all. It wasn’t just my desperation, but my INTUITION. They were still here! And they didn’t even show themselves when I called them out on it! I settle back onto the couch and regard Nakajima with ANGER! But this only makes her even MORE pleased!

“Yeah, we were gonna do stuff that would make you all frustrated and angry,” Nakajima jeers, “like, make some of your stuff disappear and make all the pictures crooked. Then replace your toothpaste with glue, cut off your hot water, switch your underwear out with stuff that’s too small…”

“You FIEND!” I yell at her, pointing EVEN HARDER! And ONCE AGAIN, she derives AMUSEMENT from my display! As though she is FEEDING on my SPIRIT! A –TRUE- SUCCUBUS!

But then she stops laughing at me, and takes on a sullen expression.

“Then you shut yourself in your room and got real quiet,” she says in a small, quiet tone of voice that makes it hard to hold on to my anger. “And then you started acting weird and creepy, making calls and crying and running out into the rain.” Nakajima’s not even looking at me anymore – she’s staring off into space, clutching one of the couch cushions. “You got all sad and desperate and... and it wasn’t fun anymore,” she finishes.

“For what reason would you even DO that in the FIRST place?” I ask of her, genuinely curious. “Why did you go through ALL this trouble?”

“Because you made me feel thiiiiiings, Crunchy!” she confesses. “I don’t like feeling thiiiiiings! So I –had- to get revenge for that, y’know?” I nod at this in an almost-understanding way. I cannot –approve- of it, but I get it. Her making me feel “things”, as she put them, certainly vexes –me-.

“Like any extradimensional creature of darkness,” the other Nakajima dully quips, drawing a glare from Nakajima, ”the notion of love confuses and infuriates her.”

“Oh, screw you, Jade!” a VERY upset, red-faced Nakajima yells. This is followed by a muffled thump as she throws her cushion at Other Nakajima and it hits her in the face. THEN a thud as the chair tips back and hits the floor. Other Nakajima looks MILDLY ANNOYED by this.

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“But why wait until now to return?” I inquire inquisitively, grabbing Nakajima’s attention again as her sister rights the easy chair. “Why didn’t you appear sooner?”

“It wasn’t a good time?” Nakajima admits, UNABLE to look me straight in the eyes. “All that pleading and crying made us feel awkward as heck.”

“She felt ashamed,” elaborates other Nakajima.

“She felt ashamed?” I ask, and she nods at me. “-You- felt ashamed?” I inquire –incredulously- of Nakajima.

“Is that what it was?” she asks, seemingly confused. “Because I totally thought it was heartburn.”

…I don’t have any response to something like that. So I ignore it, grabbing the pillow off the floor and fluffing it, while Other Nakajima reseats herself. Before I can put it back where it was, though, something silky brushes my lap. Peering down, I find Nakajima resting her head there, her face scrunched up in irritation. I return the look.

“Okay, you’re still being way too sulky and quiet,” Nakajima remarks dryly. "Can you, like, act like you again?” she requests, sitting upright to better gesticulate. “Yell out something silly or loud! Get hot-blooded and do something stupid! I mean for chrissakes, you got so sad yesterday it stopped being funny and just…” Nakajima leans too close to me, slumping forward slightly. “Just… gawd, are you really, really sure you don’t need a hug or something?" she asks, still looking irritated.

“I said no hugs!” I insist.

Nakajima doesn’t move, other than giving a dismissive wave of her hand. "Fine, fine, I don’t care,” she grumbles. “Just… just stop doing this thing you're doing. I don't like it.”

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I snort, and put the pillow back where it was – between her and myself. “What, being remorseful? Reflecting on things?” I growl.

“Yes, whatever! Cut this sobby stuff out! I hate seeing you doing this!” she yells. “It’s not cute!”

I don’t let my surprise register on my face. The way she put it, it actually almost sounds like she’s concerned. Or maybe it’s just self-interest. It HAS TO BE the latter; she’s upset that her favorite toy isn’t working the way she wants it to anymore. Somebody so EVIL could not POSSIBLY be concerned about ME.

She probably noticed my sour look after I came to that realization. “What’s got your panties in a knot anyway?” she asks, trying to pull away the pillow. I hold it fast until she stops.

Hmph. So she wants to play that game? Fine, then. I’ll humor her. If only to make her leave me alone.

"Did you ever try to help somebody,” I ask her, “sincerely WANT to help somebody... And then you end up just making things even worse?" Because that’s how things went with Slam and Miss Valnikov.

"Not even once," Nakajima immediately answers, shrugging. "I don't... like... help people? I guess? It's not really my thing." She doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, though.

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"Okay…” I say, realizing this might be trickier than I thought. “You have friends, right?” I ask Nakajima, getting a nod from her. “Suppose you did something that hurt them."

"I probably wouldn't let them find out it was me,” she states with casual indifference. “Is that not an option here?" I shake my head at her, and she starts shouting, "Jade! Jade, have you ever tried to help someone and made it worse?"

The Other Nakajima sinks into her chair and takes a deep breath. When she speaks, it is in the quiet, defeated tone of one who has lost all hope: "You mean by passively enabling someone's sociopathy in helping them achieve their goals in hopes that maybe they'll eventually start to understand basic human empathy, and slowly sinking into a pit of despair as I come to realize that not only are they as ignorant as they've ever been, but I've also probably helped them murder and break dozens of people by being complicit?"

"Um, maybe?” Nakajima replies, oblivious to her sister’s intent. “I was thinking more, like, ran over their dog, or something?"

"How was that helping them?" Other Nakajima asks in the same tone of voice.

"Maybe the dog was barking a lot," she suggests. Other Nakajima looks like she needs a stiff drink or ten, and buries her face in her hands.

I remember my first encounter with Nakajima, and feeling certain that she was evil. I also thought she could still be redeemed and work toward noble causes. But after hearing Other Nakajima’s testimony, and Nakajima’s callous response, I’m beginning to seriously doubt any reform is possible.

"Alright,” I start out again, trying to draw the conversation away from how terrible Nakajima is, “suppose you did something to somebody-” again, Slam and Miss Valnikov come to mind ”-and then your friends all got mad at you for it.”

Nakajima shrugs again. “They’ll deal,” she states matter-of-factly.

“This… might be a dry well, Miss Crunch,” Other Nakajima murmurs through her hands, drawing an odd look from Nakajima.

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“NOT DONE TALKING!” I shout, getting the attention of both of them again. I don’t even know why I’m still talking to her. "You tried to do something to make them stop being upset at you, but you managed to screw that up, too, and make even –more- people upset." That brings the Spiritual Liege and Miss Marigold to mind.

Nakajima appears ready to say something, but I cut her off. "Then you tried a different tactic, one that REQUIRED their help,” I continue, as I picture the Soul Temperer’s face of sad disappointment, ”but then they wouldn’t speak with you."

Without even a pause, Nakajima answers: "Um...maybe they should recognize that I gave enough of a fish to try and make things better, even though I'm hypothetically a colossal screw-up. Maybe they're the jerks.” Nakajima backs off (finally) and lays back. “Nobody's perfect, y'know? People screw up, and sometimes you just try your best to fix it, and it's not good enough, but if people pretend you didn't even try, then they're the A-holes."

She’s absolutely not concerned. And it’s NOT the case anyway! "Except they did NOT abandon me!” I shout back, growing more incensed at her OBVIOUS false sympathy. “I merely allowed myself to BELIEVE that they did! And now I'm even MORE upset because I did not have FAITH in them! I SHOULD have KNOWN better, and yet I ALLOWED myself to BELIEVE that EVERYBODY I cared about, EVERYBODY I was friends with, had COMPLETELY ABANDONED ME!”

I point at the bewildered Nakajima yet again. “And YET, ALL OF THEM, YOURSELF INCLUDED, proved that in SPITE of their irritation, they have NOT left me alone,” I scream angrily. “I am NOT upset with them, Nakajima! I am not even upset with YOU! I am upset with MYSELF! THAT is what ‘HAS MY PANTIES IN A KNOT’."

…That may have been harsher than I intended.

Even so, it appears to be working. Nakajima has sat up and is staring at me with silent contemplation. Yes, think on that, why don’t you, Nakajima? Don’t have anything clever to say to that? Nope, she springs to her feet now, no doubt departing for real this time. Good. That’s good.

I already feel better for having gotten all of that off my chest. I’d actually thank her if she weren’t so irredeemably, unfathomably-

“Then... You should stop?" she says out of the blue.

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…There’s nothing significant behind what she’s saying, I’m sure. But just for the sake of erasing any doubt, I tell Nakajima, “Explain.”

Nakajima stands over me, forcing me to sit upright, so as not to appear weak. "Stop being upset with yourself," she orders. "Make like a Canuck princess and just let it goooo." She wiggles her fingers to emphasize this, as though that explained anything at all. "You were feeling bad and you misunderstood the people around you?”

I could just not respond any further… but I nod back at her, and she shrugs. “Whatever,” Nakajima says, launching into her lecture. “I get that way too. You doubted them, that's okay, because sometimes friends are jerks that doubt each other." Making wide gestures, she continues, "you hold yourself up to this bonkers standard like you have to be better than everyone else ~in word and deed~-“ now she’s acting like she’s crying “-and then when you mess that up you get all weird and sad."

She has a point. She actually has a point. Amber freaking Nakajima is giving sensible advice!

“You’re not perfect,” Nakajima explains to me, “if you were perfect, you’d never have become a magical girl.”

And that is also true. Why the hell was I still beating myself up for being fallible? Was I just looking for somebody to vent at?

And why was she so persistent?

Then it clicks. “You really –were- worried?” I ask her, slightly awed.

Nakajima cants her head, looking upon me with BEWILDERMENT, as though I had asked an EXCEEDINGLY OBVIOUS question. “Yes?”

“You were worried about –me-?” I ask again, just to make sure.

“Uh, duh!” Nakajima exclaims as though this were perfectly normal. “I think I already said that!”

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I feel my cheeks glowing slightly at her response. The only SENSIBLE thing to do is hide half my face behind the pillow, and then inquire, “Why?”

Nakajima giggles. “Because you’re fun, Crunchy!” she chirps, beaming at me. “I like the fun you, and I want that you back!”

This entire time, she has actually been trying to make me feel better. She could have been bitter about me ruining her prank, but instead she tried to lift me out of my slump. Even though I kept trying to push her away, she still sought to bring me back to one hundred percent.

She might be beyond redemption, but I rather like her enough that I think it’s still worth trying.

“Hey, what are you smiling like that for?” Nakajima asks of me, getting in my face yet again. I wasn’t even aware that I’d been smiling, and yet there it is.

“Ah, it's nothing~,” I say, adding a tilde to my voice for extra –mysteriousness-.

This, predictably, upsets Nakajima. “Jade!” she shouts, “Crunchy’s acting weird again!”

“I thought you liked when she acted weird,” the other Nakajima, Other Nakajima, remarks, to Nakajima’s exasperation.

“This is a totally different kind of weird!” she exclaims. Then she hastily adds, “And oh my gawd I do not!”

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“NAKAJIMAAAA!” I bellow, my SPIRIT RESTORED and my COMMANDING CHARISMA drawing the full attention of BOTH Nakajimas! “In SPITE of your NOTICEABLE NEFARIOUSNESS, I ONCE AGAIN grant you and your sister the PRIVILEGE of sharing this domicile with myself!”

Nakajima throws her hands in the air and CHEERS, “Wooo! No consequences!” Other Nakajima does a less enthusiastic gesture, and deadpans a SIMILAR burst of exuberance. I, of course, outdo BOTH of them in enthusiasm!

“FURTHERMORE,” I continue, smiling wide, “I express some measure of GRATITUDE for ROUSING ME from my stupor!” However, I do have to STERNLY REMIND HER, “even if it was PARTLY YOUR FAULT!”

“Wooo! Still no consequences even when directly involved in causing chaos!” Nakajima cheers AGAIN, followed once more by Other Nakajima doing the same with little vigor.

“And as for OTHER NAKAJIMAAAA!” I shout to grab the other sister’s attention. This surprises her, as though she did not EXPECT to be sighted by THE CRUNCH TRAIN! “Remind me sometime in the next few days to find an EXTREMELY POTENT ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE for you,” I order her, offering a sympathetic smile, “because it sounds like you need one BADLY!”

This makes the corners of her mouth move, forming the tiniest of smiles. “Thank you very much, Miss Crunch,” says Other Nakajima, bowing slightly. “That is most generous of you.”

“I didn’t know you drank,” Nakajima says to her sister, scratching at the back of her head.

“ANYWAY,” I yell to distract her from probing her sister and creating an AWKWARD SITUATION, “that is all taken care of and DEALT WITH! Evening activities may NOW RESUME!” Which means I can go make that FEAST I wanted earlier! I might even share it with them!

”Soooo,” Nakajima asks me, batting her eyes, “do you still need that hug~?”

"Yes,” I state with a smile. Nakajima grins and draws closer, and I realize what I just said.

“WAIT, I mean NO!” I exclaim, but she does not CEASE coming near me! “I mean I'M FINE!” I reiterate, and YET she KEEPS GOING! “DAMMIT, NAKAJIMAAA, stay OUT of my PERSONAL SPACE!" I order her!

"My apologies," Other Nakajima apologizes, falling into that –silly- routine again, and making Nakajima LAUGH!

...Me, give me strength.

“Hee, I was just teasing anywayyyy,” Nakajima tells me, GIGGLING at my missteps in this CONVERSATIONAL TANGO! GRRRRR!

“You should KNOW BETTER by now!” I warn her, as OTHER NAKAJIMA disappears into the kitchen.

“That’s why I keep doing it,” insists Nakajima, leaning in WAY too close and getting a much-deserved SHOVE BACK! “You’re cute when you’re mad, you know~.” As if that justified ANYTHING!

“I am –NOT- CUTE!” I huff, my goodwill EVAPORATING like FRESHLY FALLEN RAIN! “I hope you’re HAPPY, NAKAJIMAAAAS! With THAT and EVERYTHING ELSE you’ve done, you’ve gotten me TOO RESTLESS for sleep.” And it isn’t that I LACK for things to do that upsets me, but rather it’s the PRINCIPLE of the thing. “TAKE RESPONSIBILITY, NAKAJIMAAAA!” I order her!

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This, SOMEHOW, causes her to smile widely, as though she just thought of something EXCITING and NEFARIOUS. “Well,” she begins, “we could go to my room and-“

I stop her right there with a stern glare. “Are you REALLY about to suggest something PROMISCUOUS?” I question. She should KNOW the answer to such queries by now! Truly, TRULY she is no better than the Soul Temperer at having RESTRAINT of her LIBIDO!

And then she has the gall to look CONFUSED, and POUTS CU- EVILLY, stating, “actually, I was gonna say we could watch Tonosaman, bu-“


The LAST thing that I expected to do today was sit on Nakajima’s bed, IN HER ROOM, and marathon a tokusatsu show with her and her sister. And YET, HERE we are, IN our pajamas, EATING popcorn, and WATCHING an entire series she has saved on her hard drive. Perhaps MOST shocking is that Nakajima hastily AGREED to respect personal boundaries, and hasn’t tried to touch me at all!

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Then again, maybe she’s simply too enthralled with the program.

“Ugh, I don’t like how they keep shoehorning in this love triangle stuff,” Nakajima remarks as the scene cuts away from the latest plans of the Evil Magistrate, to Onnasaman thinking about Tonosaman. “Like, can they do something other than obsess over the main character?”

“Agreed,” I say through a mouthful of popcorn. “The WHOLE SHOW feels like it’s LOSING its focus since THEY were introduced.” It’s not that they weren’t amusing at first, but now they show up in EVERY OTHER SCENE!

After giving me a dirty look, Other Nakajima states, “I think the contrast between Himesaman and Onnasaman is interesting.” Grabbing the bucket OUT of my hands, she sifts through it and idly ponders aloud, “I wonder if they’ll ever interact.”

Nakajima blows a raspberry in response to that. “Interesting, shmintersting, who cares about them?! I’m here for Tonosaman!” she asserts.

“Hear, hear!” I cheer in agreement. And, speak of the devil, the –actual- star of the show comes back on screen, just now confronting the villain of the week in their CLIMACTIC BATTLE!

“Love is stupid, anyway,” Nakajima says after a while, yawning quietly.

“Love IS stupid,” I agree. This gets me another look from Other Nakajima, but I’m focused on the aftermath of the fight, where the Evil Magistrate vows to exact REVENGE on Tonosaman!

In SPITE of its aforementioned flaws, it still managed to be an enjoyable episode.

Something gently presses against my arm and shoulder. I look over and find, to my dismay, if not to my surprise, Nakajima leaning against me!

“Na-“ I begin to exclaim, a blush INVOLUNTARILY spreading to my cheeks. However, the words fail me when I notice she has her eyes closed. She’s already nodded off!

I was kind of a jerk earlier, anyway, so…

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“…never mind,” I murmur, deciding not to push the issue. It’s probably too much effort to move her.

Besides, she feels… well, warm. Her head’s resting on my shoulder, and it’s close enough that I can smell her shampoo again.

And the pleasant look on her sleeping face makes me smile…

…JUST this once, it’s okay. JUST this one time.