E m i l y
"Feeling down but not quite out."
Penrose was a city that never slept and neither did the monsters that prowled in it, meaning that even when the big players were making their moves, a lot of monsters simply didn't care to wait their turn, or maybe even used it as an opportunity. But Emily was vigilant, especially now that most of Penrose had returned.
Besides that, she would find herself occasionally joining Jonald and his pomegranate-hating 'friend', Laughable-Laura, as they continued their investigation into the whereabouts of the monster that took the lives of the people they loved. But she was no detective and felt rather useless most of the time, with the two others doing their own thing more often than not.
Today was just like many others had been since the party, with her finishing a job against a forgettable monster or two and now heading home. Jonald had left by this point, and Hilaria had not mentioned stopping by her apartment today, so there was no need to rush home. So Emily didn't. She decided to walk, but maybe that wasn't for the best.
Jonald had been assuring her that it was only a matter of time before they could take revenge, but Emily's mind wasn't really on vengeance. It was this weight that sat on her chest that grew heavier each day, ever since that Christmas party.
She had lost two friends that day. Tragically, Samantha had seemingly passed away due to her injuries during the intense Keijo match with Penny. And while that was heartbreaking, while it did cause her grief, it sadly didn't compare to the pain she felt when thinking about Sakura, whom she felt responsible for.
Oh, Sakura... I am so sorry...
How many times had she apologized by now? She felt like a broken record by this point. Each time she thought of the girl, guilt ate at her and she couldn't help it. What else could she do, now?
Needless to say, Emily's flame had begun to dim lately. She could not justify bothering her other friends, like Connie, when she was so disgusted with how she treated Sakura. She wasn't sure she deserved friends if she was going to treat them so poorly over a misunderstanding.
She couldn't even apologize. Sakura was gone. And by the time she came back in about a decade, she would probably hate Emily for not even having the decency to be there as her guardian. For failing her. After all, that's what happened last time she waited for someone. It would be no different now. As long as she kept failing her friends when they needed her, it would always be like that.
But by chance, Emily was brought back to more tangible concerns when she noticed something falling from the sky out of the corner of her eye. "Is that a tombstone?" It was a lot bigger than necessary, but yeah that was. As it neared the ground, it disappeared from view behind buildings separating Emily from where it was going to land. Figuring this could be a fight between magical girls, and naturally wanting to break it up, Emily rushed to the scene.
What she was met with was confusion. No tombstone was anywhere to be seen and nobody was there. It was a vacant street on Penrose, as far as looks were concerned. No, something was off...
And as she thought that, she saw a blurred streak of crimson dart down a nearby alleyway. "Hey, wait up!" Emily cried out, boosting her way over as quickly as she could, reaching it a few seconds after losing track of the person.
When she turned down the alley, she became aware of just how dark it was compared to the street, but even still, she could make out the silhouette of a dark figure in the back of it. She hurriedly entered the alleyway, attempting to grab its attention. "S-sorry if I startled you, I just wanted to make sure everything was okay! I saw this gia-" as Emily took a step, a chill ran down her spine as she noticed there was no heat coming from the figure and she realized that whatever that meant, it probably wasn't good.
Confirming her suspicions was the sudden pain in her back as she was grabbed and slammed against the wall, having been ambushed from behind, despite her not seeing anywhere to hide. But how they got behind Emily wasn't as important as what they were going to do. Emily assumed the worst as she felt something press against her neck, and attempted to bring her gauntlets up in defense, only to notice just how familiar the two red orbs she was now looking into were. "S-Sam, is that you?"
The figure who until now had been strongly pressing Emily into the wall of the alley, and an object into her neck, let up a little bit in response, and the intense shine of her eyes seemed to lessen within seconds. "Sam?" she... questioned. "Yes. You're right, that's right. And you're... Emily?" her eyes widen a smidge as she recognizes the girl. And then a second or two later, she realized she still had something pressed to Emily's throat and backed away, giving her a bit of space.
"Oh!..." Emily sniffled, before breaking out into tears. "I thought you were dead!" Wasting no time getting rid of that space Sam gave her, she gave the assassin a strong hug, which Sam reluctantly accepted. "What happened to you?" she asked between joyous sobs. Pulling away due to a discomfort in her side, Emily realized she just impaled herself on whatever Sam was holding... or would have, if it was sharp. "*sniffle* and what is that...?"
"Dead... no, not quite," she answered. "Closer than I'd like over a stupid game though..." she bit her lip in frustration as Emily brought up what was poking her. It wasn't her knife, obviously, but instead, it was the canister that Bonnie had left her. "Oh, this? It's..." Sam seemed to struggle to come up with an explanation. In fact, she seemed a lot less... 'sure' of anything at the moment, she sounded like she wasn't entirely there yet. "...a problem, I think. You don't need to worry about it."
When she could finally calm herself enough to let Samantha out of the hug, Emily took a step back and apologized for the outburst. "Um... sorry, it's just that after the party, and after what happened to Sakura, I'm just so glad to see you're okay!"
"Sakura?" she repeated, but the look on Emily's face seemingly told Sam all she needed to know. "She's...? I see... It seems I've missed more than a few things in my absence."
Emily tried to smile as best she could. "...a lot goes on in Penrose. Sometimes it feels like you can't blink without something big happening here. Were you... sleeping this whole time, then?"
"I think that's the best way to put it," she nodded. "And... I haven't been awake for too long." Sam rubbed her temples, then looked around the streets. Spotting nobody nearby, she sighed. "...Would you mind catching me up on anything important that's happened recently? Nobody is returning my calls right now."
"Um, I don't mind at all! But... well, I haven't been social recently so a lot of stuff I know is just what I've heard," she pushed her two index fingers together sheepishly.
"...I would take even gossip at this point over being left in the dark," Sam admitted, raising an eyebrow at Emily's words. "Guess I'm not an expert at it... but what is rushing into an alleyway after some stranger if not social?"
"O-oh, umm! See, there was this really big tombstone falling from the sky and I didn't get a good look at you, so I was wondering if you needed help!" she explained.
Sam shrugged. "Well, it's gone. That's all that matters. You do-"
"Sam?" Samantha seemed to suddenly pause mid-sentence, causing Emily to worry. "Hello?"
"Oh, my apologies... Just a bit of deja vu. Don't worry about it..." she glanced around the alley one final time before looking at Emily. "Mind if we move this somewhere more... pleasant?" she pinched her nose and looked at a nearby trashcan.
Emily nodded. "Yeah, we definitely can. Um, I was headed home, so do you want to stop by my place? I can make quite the mean lasagna if you're hungry."
It seemed Samantha's stomach was quicker than she was with its response. Emily could swear she saw a shade of pink cross Sam's features for a moment. "...if you're offering. I don't think I realized how terribly famished I am." she said, turn away from Emily and exiting the alleyway.
Emily stifled a happy giggle, wiping away the last remains of the happy tears she had cried earlier. "Anything I can do to help!"
Samantha's head tilted downwards, and though Emily couldn't exactly what she was looking at, she felt like it might've been that canister she was holding. As her curiosity led her to wonder what was inside, she just barely caught the end of something Samantha said quietly.
It was so difficult to hear Emily wasn't sure if Sam even meant to speak at all. Emily was no mind reader, even if sometimes her power of friendship could look like such. Was there something Samantha wanted to say? Well, whatever the case was, Samantha didn't look like she wanted to wait in this alley any longer once she turned around to see why Emily had quieted down.
"Oh, sorry! Yeah, lets go!"