It all started out as a bet. Well, that wasn't entirely true. It started out before that as mutual frustration between Ryuko Tatsuma and her girlfriend Usagiyama Rumi. They had been dating for some time and loved one another, though it was in a quiet way. One was more reserved while the other was more openly aggressive than affectionate.
That changed when the two had an argument at the opening of one of Best Jeanist's newest boutiques. He might have been a pro hero, but he was also a fashion designer.
The image of the two pros restrained by Jeanist's quirk was a sight to behold, though Rumi got the brunt of it. Snap back to the present and the two were in Ryuko's office, plans for an eventual partnership were on the desk. Moondragon was the name they had decided on for the joint agency, but for now, that was a future thing. They were currently in the present.
“Alright. I know this is a wager, but I see no reason we cannot help each other out. After all, I am knowledgeable in being more dignified while you are”
“A total badass! You get! Also no way in hell am I getting into a dress. I'm a prize fighter, not a princess.”
“How do you act all hoighty toighty anyway? You dress like a college student, Ryu. I'm pretty sure I own a similar jacket.”
The dragoon hero sighed at her partner, well aware if the work she had cut out for her.
“I am not “hoighty toighty”. I just have good manners. As for my outfit, I hardly need to dress in the height if fashion to buy groceries, Rumi.”
“Whatever. I still say helping each other out totally contradicts this stupid bet. Damn Jeanist.”
“I suppose it is ridiculous. I already know I can be quite formidable when need be. After all, you and I are in the top 10 on the hero billboard.”
Rumi scoffed, placing a hand on the dragoon hero's shoulder. “Babe, if it weren't for that dragon form, you wouldn't be much more threatening than one of our sidekicks.”
“Is that supposed to be an insult? Because Battle Fist certainly has a lot of potential, and that Nakagame girl--”
“Yes. She apparently did such a good job interning with you that I had to take her on as a sidekick. So far I am very impressed. She and my other new recruits are doing quite well. I have to say, I love the fact that they all worked together to get my attention. They even have a theme going. One of my former interns even--”
“Don't change the subject, Ryu. No offense, but I can probably do a better job being like you than vice versa.”
“Full offense taken, dear. So, shall we begin?” It annoyed Rumi to no end how cordial her fellow hero could be, in no small part because of how it was both genuine and a bit of a mask. She knew just what a force the dragon lady could be and that she did have to hold back. However acting more confident and less like a giant nerd would be a major improvement in her eyes.
“Ready when you are, Ryu. I'll train you first, as I have the best footing in this wager.” The hero known as Miruko smirked, earning a friendly eye roll from the other woman.
“If you say so. Please proceed.”
“Don't you sass me!”
“Now now. We are both learning. Besides, I assure you. I am merely being polite.”
“Stop being so wordy! You sound like a villain!”
“I wasn't aware good diction was evil. I apologize.” the short-haired pro closed her eyes and poured herself some tea.
“What the fuck did I just sa--”
Miruko was cut off by several sprays of a water bottle her girlfriend had pulled from a nearby cabinet in her office and kept in her purse for such an occasion.
“Are you sure you are the one who will have the easiest time with this challenge
“Fuck you, Ryu!”
“Manners, Rumi. And also, later.”
The Rabbit hero blushed and slouched, not finding it particularly fair that her more sophisticated partner had the edge in this case.
“Dammit, Ryu. You have no right being so sexy.”
“Now now, we have to work on slipping into our roles a bit better. Besides, isn't your intern coming around later?”
“Battle Fist? Yeah. She has a great hero name. Straight to the punch. Hah! Plus she dresses like Chun Li, but she goes by Ken. We should all spar together.”
“Maybe later. Nakagame is likely very promising as a sidekick. She really flourished under you.”
“Well yeah. Tortoise and the Hate. It's so natural, even a solo act like me was swayed. Besides, Ketsubutsu pride. We can't all be UA nerds.”
“I suppose not. Anyway, given your love of martial arts, poise should be no issue. After all, balance and form are common between the two.”
“What the fuck is poise anyway? It's a gross ass word. Like moist.”
“Focus, Rumi. Now then. I want you to walk this line. I won't put books on your head or anything cliche. Just walk the line delicately.”
“Pffft. You make this too easy. Just glad I don't have to do any of that princess SHIT!”
A tail sprouted and knocked the muscular woman to the ground, leaving her to rub her sore bottom.
“Your form was off, dear. Less talk, more walk. Any fighter worth their salt knows this.”
“God damn, stop being so smug! I have to teach you how to be tough.”
“I can turn into a dragon. I am tougher than you give me credit for.” Ryuko sighed
“Well, tough girl? Get up. Remember. No dragon powers. If you can't handle a brawl on your own, how tough are you really.”
Ryuko was sore. She had seen battle more times than she could count, had her own agency in her 20s, and oversaw several sidekicks and interns. And now she was lying on a training mat, practicing kickboxing.
“We don't all take pride in our legs. Besides, is this really a street brawl?”
“Less talk, more Sock” the long-eared champion slammed her fists together in a display of nihilistic enthusiasm
“I am not enjoying your take on my advice.” her more dignified partner groaned.
“And I don't appreciate people who are all talk but can't eat what they can dish out. Get up, Ryu.”
The short-haired heroine brushed the saliva from her mouth and assumed a fighting stance, preparing to counteract anything thrown her way. Sure enough, she dodged the first kick and rolled under a second one to deliver a vicious uppercut, but Rumi dodged by a hair.
She tried to use it as an opportunity to send Ryuko to the mat again but it wasn't happening. The dragon lady showed fierce dedication in this sparring session and would not he bested. She shot out a leg at just the right moment and managed to knock the unexpected brawler bunny on her back
Smiling at the challenge before her, as well as her girlfriend's resolve, Rumi sprung to her feet, deciding to switch things up ever so slightly.
The fight waged on for half an hour until it ended in a stalemate. Both combatants were drenched in sweat and gasping for breath. Sessions like this were nothing new for the two, but the focus was to bring the beast out if the beauty in regards to Ryuko.
“Not bad. This calls for a celebration.”
“Does it involve a shower? Because we could both use one.”
“Easy tiger.” the rabbit lady growled and winked seductively, earning her a flustered shove in response.
“Not what I meant and you know it. And before you even thing of rolling your eyes, I must remind you that you still haven't mastered your diction, dear.”
“Get off my diction!” Rumi spouted rudely, pouting at the short-haired heroine in front of her, glistening with perspiration yet acting like an old-fashioned schoolmarm.
“Cute, Rumi. You were saying something about celebration?” The dragoon hero pouted back, not putting up with her girlfriend's nonsense for even a second.
The rabbit hero grinned, wiping herself off with a towel as her rippling muscles listened like freshly polished bronze. She was truly statuesque for a woman who was shorter than some high-school students.
“Oh yeah. I know just the place.”
“Drinking contests? Really? You take your idea of “toughness” seriously.”
The two sat at the bar of the Bendu street club. It was a regular haunt of Runi's, though she clearly looked uncomfortable out in public while wearing the yellow hundreds Ryuko had picked out for her. It was nothing a few shots couldn't fix though. Nothing crazy though. Just enough to get her buzzed and to demonstrate her lesson.
“It comes easy to me. It's like an extension of my soul.”
“I think you will find you can be more sensitive than you think. You cry during animal deaths and are a very generous lover. I think you can be more formal than you think.”
“That's not me. And if you bring it up again, you are dead.”
“True. And I am not you. Maybe this whole silly bet is ridiculous and we were bickering over nothing.”
“That is quitter's talk, Ryu. Highly accurate and insightful quarter's talk. Now finish your drink. You have more shots in front if you.”
And thus the competition began, with one drink multiplying by 10. Despite being able to transform into a mighty dragon, Ryukyu was bested in the field of battle. Having proven her toughness, Miruko lifted the number 10 hero and called a cab, taking the two of them to Ryuko's quarters.
The inebriated picture of grace unloaded her inhibitions like a moving crew, chiding herself for both being to weak to tough out the booze and too stupid to avoid this clearly terrible decision.
“Would You really kill me?” The inebriated card vulnerable dragon hero pouted, her constitution compromised by the alcohol in her system.
“What the fuck? No! Of course not. You're with me whether you like it or not.”
“Ok. Good.” And with that, Ryuko fell asleep and ended passing out in Rumi's arms
The ebony brawler sighed, stroking her drunken girlfriends hair. Maybe being gentle wasn't such a bad thing, especially if it involved Ryuko. She could turn into a dragon. Toughness was a given with a quirk like that. And yet She was reserved and kind and the the most sophisticated person Rumi knew. She would never be caught dead saying it, but she drew inspiration from her girlfriend. She was willing to give This fancy lady shit a go for her.
After nursing a nasty hangover, the Dragoon hero decided to give her girlfriend both a lesson and some comeuppance. She sent her team of interns off with her new sidekick. Even in a bringing and harboring a migraine as sizeable as her dragon form, Ryuko had to appreciate the team name her charges had picked: Team Her-petology.
Even if there was one boy involved (a transfer student from China) their commitment to theme and their ability to work together was laudable. Froppy and Tortugal were ones the pro had experience with, as was Basilisk to a small degree. However they all were exemplary.
Which made it all the more frustrating that her girlfriend was not as avid a learner as a bunch of teenagers.
“Feeling better, my lady?” The rabbit lady bowed sarcastically.
“Please focus less of your efforts on sass and more on class, Usagiyama.”
“Ouch! Last name. I guess I am really in for it, huh?” Rumi laughed softly, her ava dotted lightly with sweat from some warm-up exercises. After all, she liked to be in tip-top hip-hop shape.
“Get dressed. We are headed to a press release party for a new book on the top 10 heroes throughout the history of the billboards.”
“I have clothes on already.”
Ryuko merely glared while drinking a bottle of water. Perhaps the polite professional was tougher than she was given credit for.
“ That you may have but not to my specifications.”
“Damn, you're picky, Ryuko. Can we just save the “My Fair Lady shit for another day? I don't do dresses.”
The fighting pro pouted, ears twitching. She had been in pretty clothes before and admitted she looked damn good in a slip. She felt like a panther, if a panther was a rabbit. But it still wasn't exactly her and as juicy as the bet was (Jeanist relinquishing his hero spot to the winner and taking theirs, as well as offering a trip to his summer home once the season was right)
“I am merely doing my duty.” Ryuko took a deep breath and changed went pick out an outfit for herself from the clothing racks.
“Oh no. If I am doing This. So are you. Wear that one.” Rumi grabbed a sparkly dress out of her girlfriend's hand and pointed to a white tux with a dragon adorned on the back. The dragoon hero winced. She knew her partner was right, but She was looking forward to wearing a flower in her hair again. Another time, she supposed.
Jeanist was not at the event, due to prior engagements. However he sent a few of his sidekicks to attend and to give his best wishes. The fashionable pro had already given his interview for the book and would have one of his sidekicks pick it up. For now, he had other business.
Rumi fidgeted but stiffened up whenever Ryuko looked at her. She wanted to avoid those damn comments. They weren't even mean it pointed, just annoying.
“Don't be so stiff.”
“Don't be such a mom. You sound like my mom and it's weird. Also you are supposed to be acting tough.”
“We are supposed to be on our best behavior.”
Ryuko chided quietly. She knew that she was in the right. Unfortunately, so was Rumi. It was time to strike a balance. The hero known as Ryukyu was not opposed to suits.
She certainly owned a few. However, the woman wouldn't exactly describe her style as “butch”. For a dignified professional, the truth was that she wasn't quite sure she could put her style to words. There was a scale for these things but Ryuko preferred thinking if things as a color wheel rather than a spectrum.
It depended on the situation. Her intern Basilisk once described it over lunch as “College student in the streets, Dazzling Dragon queen with the elite.” The things her interns and sidekicks would say. It was certainly amusing but surprisingly apt, Or as apt as it could be.
Rumi had kept her phone on to send pointers to her fellow pro/ girlfriend, but did her best to act the way Ryuko would. Rumi had only ever been herself, so this would be a pain. However, if she had the chance to channel her impression of the station hero, perhaps it would not be all bad.
“Miruko? You ok? You seem...different.”
A voice spoke out. It was her fellow pro, Crust. They weren't exactly best buds and more like coworkers. Rumi was hardly one for teams, though she had begun making exceptions for sidekicks and interns lately. Still, she could get along with Crust well enough. They both liked tough things but she wasn't as prone to crying.
People were asking questions. Was it bad form to do a Swanton bomb at a book release party and run for the door while your girlfriend was chatting up the author?
“Dammit.” The rabbit hero grumbled and tried to compose herself. This was the trial of the dragon and by god, she would conquer it.
“Oh. Hello, Crust-san. How are you this evening. I Hope you look forward to reading the book.”
A strained smile indicated that things were not alright, but the bunny-eared heroine was none to keen on being interviewed again, especially not right now. She hoped the smile would be enough. Unfortunately it was not.
“What? Are you sure you are ok? You sound like a Stepford Wife. You are kind of dressed like one too.”
Oh, there would be stepping, alright. On his dumb lunchbox head. Now now. Calm down, Rumi. Remember what you learned from Ryu.
Taking a deep breath, the heroine smiled and took out a notepad, scribbling a short message that read “It's a bet. Blame Jeanist. Now fuck off.”
“Hahaha. So funny, my friend. Anyway, I must find my darling girlfriend, she is around here somewhere. I shall see you shortly.”
Giving a cutesy this time, the rabbit hero sped off as faintly as she could while almost knocking down a waiter, leaving Crust even more confused than before, even with the context of the note.
The part went on like this for some time, with Ryuko gaining several stares and questions herself. She had been involved in the Yakuza raid only to be dressed like one herself, albeit as they were portrayed in the titular game. Her sidekick Tortugal was a fan of that series, as was her boyfriend.
It was an alright event, however it was getting tiresome being looks if confusion while she tried her best to channel Rumi.
Sure enough, the rabbit hero herself showed up and linked arms with her. They were both ready to head home as soon as possible. After picking up their copies of the book, the two did just that
When Jeanist next saw Rumi and Ryuko, it was like something out if science fiction. The normally reserved and polite dragoon hero was wearing a leather jacket over a black tank top, with ripped jeans and combat boots while Rumi was wearing a rather fetching turtleneck and a nice pencil skirt. Her hair was styled into braids. She had done them herself. It was something she used to do since middle school. If only those nerds at Ketsubutsu could see her now. She would have to kill them. It was not the path of the hero but it was the path of not having to answer unwanted questions.
That wasn't true.
A bun had been suggested in terms of hairstyles, but one of the interns called It A “bun bun” and it made Ryuko giggle in the cutest way. No way in hell the rabbit hero was reminding herself of that adorable tidbit right now. They were on a mission and her feet were feeling sweaty in these weird fancy candles that her girlfriend let her borrow. They were even in her size. That was certainly a question for later. Both women seemed relaxed in their roles. Perhaps too relaxed.
As a pro hero, Jeanist knew to look for anything that was amiss. As a gay man, he knew when he was dealing with spiteful lesbians who wished to make him eat crow. In particular, that crow would be wearing jorts
“Sup, BJ? How is it going?” Ryuko went for a handshake, gripping her fellow pro's hand tightly and flexing a bicep, encased in leather.
“Ryukyu? Are you well? You seem…”
“Just collecting on our wager, denim daddyo. How is it hanging?”
“Now now, Ryuko, dear. Where are your manners. Let me take your jacket.” it took Rumi everything not to burst out laughing and go “that is your idea of tough? Really, Dragon dork?? It kind if suits you.” However, that was a conversation they could and would have later. For now, they were here to impress and to collect.
Ryukyu almost felt bad. After his nearly life-ending injuries at the hands of All-for-One, this was like salt in a gaping chest wound. She supposed this was a trifle compared to that so she continued.
The distant voice of Rumi in her head told her that was the best course of action while the real Rumi was striding on her long, toned legs around the room and pretending to be impressed. Well, pretending at first. There were admittedly some designs she didn't recognize that were more avant garde and up her alley, just not tonight.
The rabbit hero smiled softly and gave a courteous bow.
“Your coat?” Reminded the darker skinned woman, the powerful form of a determined warrior disguised in a facade of fashion and pleasantries. It chafed at first, but she was getting used to it for now.
“Sure thing, bunny babe. I need to let the pythons get some air anyway. Can't lay the smackdown on neerdowell without them, now can I?”
“Ok. I think that is quite enough, you two. This is too unsettling.”
“On the contrary. This is too good to pass up.” a voice called out as a figure stepped out of the shadows, dark skin painted with vibrant colors as they had just finished unveiling their latest line.
“Michi, must you really take such pleasure in these confusing shenanigans?”
“Someone has to, dear. Besides, you started it. These ladies are merely finishing what you set in motion.”
“They…Oh dear. I really did almost say that didn't I.” the blonde man pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Go on, Mr. Professional hero. You can finish it. Or did I marry you for nothing.”
The two girlfriends could not help but share in a laugh as Best Jeanist was roasted by the villain he had wound up marrying.
In a weird way, two fashion designers on the opposite side if the fence made sense. Rivals to lovers was a common trope in some of the books Ryuko tended to read (as did heroes and villains falling in love) and opposites attract was a theme that persisted even in this moment.
“ I like them. Who would have expected that of me?” Rumi gave off her best ojou laugh, trying to keep up appearances for the bet. She was starting to enjoy this role, even if it wasn't exactly her thing It was still a interesting to get into the head of a woman she admittedly allowed herself to go soft for.
This was still filed under “never again!” In her mind however, and she couldn't help but think.
“Let's get you outta those clothes and get you somewhere comfortable, like my bed.”
Ryuko blushed as she tried to maintain her girlfriend's attitude. It was starting to come easier but was still embarrassing. Rumi bit her lip and felt her left foot tap rapidly, a tell for those closest to her that she was actually starting to feel a bit bothered. In this case, it was a good thing.
Her heart was racing. Damn girly emotions. Damn hot girlfriend being egregiously hot. Damn girlfriend drilling words like “egregious” and “consummate” into her head. This shit was far from “exemplary”. Stupid sexy nerd. Stupid jorts and his bet. At least she could buy takeout and some wrestling merch with her half of the winnings. Or maybe a decent date with Ryuko. It had been a while.
“Thank you for inviting us, Hakamata-San, but I am afraid we must be going. We have business to attend to” The rabbit hero bowed. Ryuko followed up with a curt wave, her real self shining through for a brief glimmering moment before mowing Jeanist and Michi down with two finger guns.
Jeanist was absolutely stunned and could have sworn All For One had put another hole in his torso from the utter shock this jarring behavior had given him. His partner could only laugh. They could only hope more heroes acted like these two women. It made things more interesting.
Heading back to Moondragon HQ, which was at Ryuko's agency, Rumi sighed and relaxed her shoulders.
“Glad that's all over. Jeez Louise!”
Ryuko smiled and flexed her neck.
“I don't know. It was admittedly enjoyable. I know what it's like to be you and it gives me a better appreciation.”
The rabbit lady scoffed and grinned.
“Pffft. Like anyone can replicate the true Miruko experience. Besides you should already appreciate me. C'mon, Ryu. Let's go home. You know the way.”
Not having time to smile teasingly yet affectionately at her partner, the Dragoon hero darted her eyes back and forth. This was a rather gross misuse of her powers wasn't it?
“Are you sure?”
Rumi merely grinned enthusiastically. That was all she needed. As her girlfriend conceded, the long-eared heroine pumped a fist in the air and cheered as she boarded the draconic form of her fellow pro.
“Fuck yeah! I'm riding on a dragon! YEAH!”
She screamed as the two soared through the air. She held on for dear life but there was no better way to travel as far as she was concerned. In the end, this whole ordeal was worth it, as long as the two were together. And Ryuko could only smile in agreement.