Back inside her apartment, Reiko had heard Haruhi’s boisterous ultimatum as she made her way to her bedroom. “What was that?” the man on the phone asked. “Er, nothing, nothing Higa. Just some noisy neighbors…” Reiko’s disdain for Yuki and her friends seemed to only increase with every encounter. “So, you were saying?”
“I talked it over with some of my contacts. From what you’ve shown me thus far, I’d say five million yen is a decent estimate.”
“F-five million?” Reiko breathed. ‘I’ll be able to pay off my debt and have plenty of money to spare!’ Something else about the price had the woman thinking. ‘Higa was probably trying to act nonchalant and business-like, but all of those questions…’ “So, you’re that interested in the girl, after all? Five million sounds a little low, don’t you think?” There was a pause on the other side of the line. “…heh. Look, Reiko, you’re in a bad spot right now. Need I remind you that you’re the one who’s in debt with us right now?” Reiko winced at that. “This bunny of yours, we don’t precisely need it. We can afford to skip out on this deal entirely. You? Oh, you’d be stuck with your debt with an…acquisition you gained through dubious means, with no other feasible way of unloading her elsewhere. She’d be your little problem, a time bomb waiting to go off until you’d likely get caught.”
Reiko fumed. “You’re in no position to negotiate. We’re going to need to set up an auction for this, which requires time and money in itself. So, like I said: Five million yen. Believe me; I’m practically doing you a favor here.”
“…alright, fine.” ‘So much for bartering,’ Reiko grumped. “Good. I need to make some final arrangements. I’ll be by in a few hours to pick up the package and inspect it in person.” The line went dead. Reiko stared at her cellphone for a moment. Shaking her head, Reiko put it aside and walked back to where she had left Yuki. The prone girl was still out cold, but Reiko realized that there was something that needed addressing. “Guess I better muzzle her again,” she muttered. “Last thing I need is her waking up and mouthing off like that bratty friend of hers.”
Reiko grabbed the handkerchief again and slipped it back into place over Yuki’s mouth. Much like before, she grabbed the second roll of duct tape and began to wind it tightly against the circumference of Yuki’s head until the cloth was pinned in place. Reiko thought back to Yuki’s loud-mouthed friend, a tinge of annoyance filling the petulant woman. Rather than stopping off where she had when gagging the unconscious girl before, Reiko continued to wrap several more strips of tape around Yuki’s mouth. The handkerchief, pressed tighter than ever, began to force its way into Yuki’s mouth; her soft, supple lips parted with little in the way of resistance. Soon, her mouth was partially filled by the cloth itself. Some of it still spilled out, poking out above and below the collocation of tape adorning Yuki’s mouth and face.
“Well, that takes care of that problem,” Reiko concluded, feeling somewhat satisfied. Her mood soured when she ventured back into the living room. “Those girls aren’t really going to just stand around my place all day, are they?” She thought back to their set-up in front of the café. “…they were planning on standing around showing off all day anyway. No, they’ll see this through, and they know I have something to do with their friend ‘s vanishing act…they’re practically witnesses! Why does this have to be so complicated?”
Padding softly and silently to the front door, Reiko peered through the peephole. The other girl – Miku-something, Reiko thought – was standing further away from the door. Her annoying friend, however, was nowhere in sight. A stray thought came to Reiko. Against her better judgment, Reiko found herself acting on it by opening up the door slightly. “Hey, kid.”
Mikuru jerked to attention, clearly not expecting the sudden reappearance of the rowdy woman. “Y-yes?” Reiko studied her carefully through the gap of the door, before opening it slightly and looking around. “Where’d your other friend go?”
“Sh-she, uhm, went to – “
“Whatever, I don’t care.” Reiko paused, taking in Mikuru’s nervous fidgeting. “Look, I feel bad for letting my sour mood get the better of me. I’ve had a rough time lately. What happened to your friend sounds terrible, so I’d like to help out however I can.”
“Sure. Why don’t you come inside real quick while we wait for your friend? I’ll fill you in on everything I really saw.” Mikuru glanced around nervously again, clearly wary about entering a total stranger’s apartment by herself. “I…I don’t know about that…” Reiko scoffed. Undoing the chain, she opened the door fully, allowing Mikuru a glimpse of the apartment’s interior. “C’mon in, I’ll prepare you a quick snack, even.”
“I’d rather wait until Suzumiya returns!” Mikuru squeaked. “Nonsense,” Reiko interjected, grabbing the tiny girl’s wrist, “This is a very important matter, so let’s address it right away!” Stammered protests ignored, Mikuru found herself being dragged inside. She even tried digging her red heels into the ground, to no avail; the tall, toned woman was easily overpowering her. “W-wait, hold on, please…!”
The second Mikuru cleared the doorway and was inside the tiny space just before the living room, Reiko reached behind her and closed the door. The clicking of the locks made for an ominous noise to Mikuru’s delicate ears. “Wh-why are you…” Mikuru’s question trailed off as she was led to a simple couch in the living room. “Sit down,” Reiko commanded, “I’ll get you something to snack on in a moment.” Disconcerted, Mikuru simply nodded shakily. “Uwah…” she mewled, startled by the sudden turn of events. If the lady truly wanted to help, it surely could have been done in a less aggressive manner, Mikuru thought. Left to her own devices – and wondering if she should make a dash for the front door – the time traveler found herself peering nervously around at the apartment. It was rather sparse, she found, but what was there had a surprisingly feminine touch. ‘Maybe we’ve been misjudging her this whole time?’ Mikuru wondered to herself, feeling slightly more relaxed at how mundane the apartment appeared to be. She continued to crane her head around and spotted a nearby open room. ‘Ah, what am I doing?!’ the redhead suddenly felt admonished. ‘I feel like I’m peeking at someone’s private stuff without permission – ‘
Mikuru’s breath hitched. From where she sat, she could see something, sitting on the floor of the bedroom – a white heel, identical to the ones Yuki had worn. Mikuru bolted upright, a startled gasp escaping her lips. “O-oh dear, oh dear, what should I do?”
“Just stand right there and enjoy the ‘snack’,” Reiko grunted, appearing behind the frightened teen. Two things happened simultaneously; Mikuru found herself pinned against Reiko’s towering, toned body by one of her long, sturdy arms…and the feeling of a single strip of tape being plastered over her lips and smoothed over. “MMMPHH!” Mikuru tried to struggle with all of her might. Her slim, girlish build was nothing compared to Reiko’s; every squirm and motion proved futile. Horrified, Mikuru felt herself getting pushed face down onto the floor. Reiko’s hands grabbed her arms, pulling them behind her back. Mikuru shivered at the sound of a roll of tape being tugged upon. “Nhh…ssphhh, phhhshh…!” the red-clad bunny feebly protested. ‘Not again…this can’t be happening again!’ Mikuru could feel tears threatening to well up as her wrists were bound together.
Her ankles came next, wrapped up as tightly as her wrists had been. There was nothing she could do but whimper piteously at the mistreatment she was enduring. Unbeknownst to her, Reiko was actually going about it as gently as she could afford. ‘This one isn’t like the other two,’ Reiko noted, ‘She definitely screams “I’m too meek to speak up for myself”; how else would someone clearly as shy as her get dragged into something like this?’ Reiko couldn’t help but feel bad about having to do this, but she had committed to the plan; there was no going back now. ‘Can’t leave behind any possible witnesses, and there’s also…’ Reiko swallowed a lump in her throat as she hoisted Mikuru up and onto her lap, to wrap her shoulders in orange. ‘…wow. I’m really in it deep now, aren’t I? I’m even thinking like a full-blown thug.’
With Mikuru’s shoulders secured, the second roll of tape had been spent. Reiko eyed the frightened girl critically, trying to push aside her lingering thoughts. ‘Yeah, I don’t exactly see her causing much of a fuss. This’ll do.’ Reiko couldn’t help herself; her eyes lingered on the girl’s body, the squirming bunny’s bare legs and hips in particular. ‘This one has the right body for flaunting around like this, but she doesn’t seem to be into it – go figure.’ Though envious, Reiko couldn’t quite find it in herself to be as angry at Mikuru compared to the other two. However, upon hefting up Mikuru into a bridal carry – and inadvertently noting the girl’s ample, perky breasts, accentuated by the corset and the bindings across her shoulders – Reiko’s jealousy wasn’t at all quelled. ‘She’s, what, almost a foot smaller than me, but her chest practically matches mine in size? Where’s the justice in that?’
Those grouchy thoughts were pushed aside – momentarily. “Look, I’m sorry about this,” Reiko informed the squirming girl, “but I can’t have any of you running around and ruining things for me now. Not when I’m so close to getting myself out of this mess!”
Mikuru whimpered feebly, aghast at her position. “Mmpff…” Now a squirming, helpless captive, Mikuru found herself being carried into Reiko’s bedroom. The sight that greeted her there confirmed her suspicions, but it only served to send her into a bigger panic. “Yhhphh…” Mikuru mewled, greatly disheartened to see what had become of the interface.
“Yeah yeah, I had your friend the whole time. What a twist. I’m not usually like this, y’know,” Reiko grunted, setting Mikuru down onto her futon. “But desperate times call for desperate measures and all that. Look, here’s the thing: I don’t know what your deal is, or why you decided to throw in your lot with those two friends of yours. Maybe you were forced into all of this, and if so, I’m sorry. But…you two got on my trail pretty fast, and this is something I absolutely cannot get wrong!”
Reiko watched Mikuru sniffle dolefully, an utterly frightened look etched on her face. Mikuru’s eyes managed to widen even more when she realized what this also meant. ‘Suzumiya’s in danger, too!’ “Look, I…I have to think about what I want to do with you. So for now, sit tight, while I go entertain my last guest…” A series of rings and knocks filled the apartment. “HEY, OPEN UP! YOU DID SOMETHING TO MIKURU, DIDN’T YOU?!” Reiko scoffed. “Case in point…” Reflexively, she reached around Mikuru – ignoring how the girl flinched – to grab her purse from the futon.
“MMPFF! NHH!” Mikuru squirmed about uselessly as she watched Reiko step back into the living room, shutting the door behind her. The newest captive glanced frantically at the tightly bound strictly gagged and thoroughly unconscious form of her alien friend. Left to her thoughts, all Mikuru could wonder was, ‘What…what’s going to happen to us?’
On her way to the front door, Reiko paused and considered her approach. ‘She’s making far too much noise…a direct approach, then.’ She changed direction, walking towards her small kitchen. “Something I won’t mind using…ah, this will do.” A fresh, clean dishrag was plucked. Sitting her purse onto a counter, she opened it up and took out the bottle of chloroform. The last of its contents were emptied out onto the rag; as it turned out, she really did go through most of it on Yuki. ‘Good thing I didn’t bother using this stuff on little miss meek.’ Considering how much it took to knock the smaller girl out, Reiko questioned if the tiny dose applied to her now stained dishrag was even workable.
“COME ON, I KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE! OPEN UP ALREADY! DON’T MAKE ME SIC THE POLICE ON YOU!”
“...should probably play it safe,” Reiko concluded, glancing around her kitchenware for inspiration. An unopened sponge packet caught her eye. Groaning, Reiko reflected on all the things she’d have to restock on. “Well…if this goes as planned, I guess money won’t be too much of a problem.”
Opening it up and taking the sponge within, Reiko made for the door; sponge and rag held in one hand. “Hold your horses, geez!” she called out, undoing the locks. Reiko opened the door, putting her hands behind her back as she nudged it the rest of the way with a foot. “What’s all this racket about now?”
There she was, the bunny in black. At her feet was the duffle bag Reiko vaguely recalled seeing at their table. But what truly caught the shift-eyed woman’s attention was the piercing look she was receiving. Haruhi’s accusatory glare trumped the others Reiko had received; in fact, she was pretty sure that she had never seen anyone look that furious at her before. “You know exactly what I’m talking about!” Haruhi hissed, pointing a finger up at Reiko’s face. “I left Mikuru here for two minutes and she’s all but vanished! There’s too many things about this that add up to one conclusion – you kidnapped Yuki and now Mikuru, didn’t you?!”
“Is that what you think?” Reiko asked. “That’s what I know!” Humming, Reiko smirked challenging. “Well, what I think is that you’re an uppity, vain brat who goes stomping around looking for attention in all the wrong places.”
“What’s that supposed to –“ Haruhi’s shrill protest was cut short when Reiko abruptly shoved the sponge into her opened mouth. “WHH?!” Just as Haruhi made to spit it out – sputtering incomprehensibly all the while – Reiko shoved the dosed rag over her mouth. Holding it firmly, Reiko slowly stalked around Haruhi, until she stood directly behind her. Wrapping an arm around Haruhi’s violently jerking waist and arms, the toned woman began to exert her inherent strength by pushing Haruhi along towards the apartment. “NHHHH! LHHH MHH GHH!” Haruhi dug her heels into the ground, slowing Reiko’s progress. All the while, Haruhi was forced to inhale the faint, alarmingly sweet scent that had made itself home on the rag. Had it been any point in her life prior to the past hour, Haruhi wouldn’t have been able to identify it as immediately as she did now. ‘This is chloroform!’
“NHHH!” Her struggles only increased tenfold at the realization. “Hey, stop struggling so much!” Reiko complained. Switching tactics, Reiko began to hoist Haruhi up in the air with some effort and spun around. Both of their backs now faced the doorway, giving Reiko a somewhat easier time to drag Haruhi inside.
Haruhi could feel herself getting slightly lightheaded – it seemed as though this rag hadn’t been dosed as heavily as the one they had found in the alley. It didn’t make it any better on her – light dose or not, the chloroform’s adverse effects were slowly making its mark on her. ‘I can’t let that happen! There’s no way I’m letting this sleazy, no good, creepy thug lady get the better of us all!’
They crossed threshold into the apartment proper. Haruhi kicked her legs around, hitting Reiko’s longer limbs. “Y’know, all you’re really doing is telling me exactly what kind of treatment I should give you,” Reiko growled. Managing to maneuver her leg a round Haruhi’s kicking limbs – a small feat of its own – Reiko reached out towards the opened door and pushed it forward with a foot. Haruhi watched as it shut before her very eyes. “MMMPFFFF!” She continued struggling aggressively as her captor lead them towards the supply closet. Switching tactics, Haruhi began to stomp her feet around. One of Haruhi’s heels managed to catch Reiko’s bare foot, rewarding her with a string of curses. Reiko’s grip around her waist slackened slightly, and Haruhi began to worm her way out. “Oh no you don’t!” Reiko grunted. Unfortunately for the besieged teen, Reiko had recovered quickly. Her grip around Haruhi’s waist tightened once more, and their progress continued. “That hurt, you lousy brat!”
“GHHD!” Reiko saw it coming this time, when Haruhi made to stomp her feet again. Reiko moved her feet away before the heels could hit them. They reached the closet; bending a leg backwards, Reiko planted a foot against the sliding door and began to awkwardly push it to the side. “GHH OFPPH OPH MHH!” Haruhi was thrashing her head now, trying to get loose and away from the disgusting rag covering her mouth and nose. Reiko led them inside of the now opened closet and walked them both inside. Within the cramped space, Reiko shuffled them around, so that their backs faced the doorway. Hurriedly, she let go of Haruhi’s waist and grabbed the roll of silver tape. Freed up significantly, Haruhi immediately reached for the hand gripping the rag to her face. Reiko winced, feeling the teen paw at her wrist with a maddening determination. “MMMPH!” Haruhi was still at a disadvantage; stuck in a closet with Reiko blocking the way and her strength slowly leaving her with every passing moment, the solitary grip Reiko held over her face was all that was needed. Haruhi watched, incensed, as Reiko reached around her and began to fumble with the tape in one hand.
Haruhi stopped pawing at Reiko’s wrists and went for the tape. “Hey, knock it off!” Reiko warned. The brigade chief’s delicate fingers managed to grab hold of the tape, and a vicious tug of war began. “Enough!” Reiko hissed. As determined as Haruhi was, even at her best Reiko had the superior build. Her dwindling strength at the hands of the chloroform only compounded the issue. With a fierce tug, Reiko tore the roll out of Haruhi’s hand. “Nhh!” Reiko brought the roll of tape to her mouth and used her teeth to pull it the rest of the way. The hand pinned over her face was replaced with tape, faster than Haruhi could react. Reiko began to aggressively wrap it tightly around Haruhi’s head and hair, pinning the chloroform dosed rag – and the sponge lodged underneath it – firmly in place. “Nhhh!” Haruhi whined again, once more pawing at Reiko’s arms. Once Reiko had wrapped several layers of tape around Haruhi’s jaws, she shoved the teen forward, forcing the brunette’s body up against the shelves lining the closet.
The defiant bunnygirl’s wrists were forced behind her back and pinned together horizontally. Reiko began to wrap the silvery adhesive along Haruhi’s boxed together wrists. The brigade chief was starting to feel a good deal more woozy, all of her struggling having forced her to inhale much more of the chemical. “Nhhh, shhph iphh!” Haruhi tried stomping her feet around blindly, but each strike was weaker than the initial volley she had thrown on the way into the closet. When Reiko finished with her wrists, they were pinned tightly together. Like this, Haruhi’s arms were forced into an uncomfortable box tie. Her chest heaved as she thrashed madly about, her bust more pronounced with the pressure of the tape on either side. “NHH!”
Reiko took a step back, out of the closet. Haruhi spun around, wobbling slightly on unsteady feet. ‘Can’t…can’t let this stuff throw me off!’ the teen thought, feeling the effects of the chemical worsening with every passing moment. Haruhi attempted to make a run for it, hoping to slip past Reiko. The taller woman moved aside, confusing the fleeing girl by the offered opening. Reiko stuck out one of her long legs and tripped Haruhi before she could take three steps. “GHHHHH!” With her arms tied behind her back, she had no way of bracing herself. Haruhi screwed her eyes shut, tensing and waiting for the impact. Instead, she felt herself fall into the fast-acting arms of the insidious woman. “Mmmppf!”
Though the rough fall had been prevented, Haruhi found herself pressed face-down against the ground in a not so gentle motion. Reiko straddled the bunnygirl and pinned down her kicking legs with a forearm. She began applying tape to the backside of Haruhi’s ankles, removing her arm and forcefully bending Haruhi’s legs up to wrap it around. Keeping her legs bent up in the air – and ignoring how much Haruhi tried to struggle – Reiko began to wrap tape just below the teen’s knees. Growling, Haruhi fumed angrily as she was easily repositioned again. Now her thighs were being ensnared by the silvery material. “Shhph, shhph ihh thhph ihhsphhmh!”‘I can’t believe this is happening! I can’t be the damsel in distress; I’m the one who goes out to rescue them!’
Haruhi wanted to put up a valiant fight, but the fumes continued to be a hindrance. The chloroform had slowly ebbed away what energy reserves she had, and all of her struggling was expending much of it. ‘I…I can’t just let her win, though! There has to be some way out of this…think, Haruhi, think!’
Reiko finished binding Haruhi’s thighs together. Looking the girl over, the woman acknowledged that the binds would likely suffice. ‘There’s still some tape left, though…’ Reiko thought, a cruel grin forming. She wrapped a strip of tape around Haruhi’s feet and heels, preventing the teen from so much as moving her feet around. ‘That’ll teach her to stomp around in those things.’
There was still some left over. Reiko began to wrap some around the tape already adorning her newest captive’s ankles. Rather than circuit it around the ankles as before, Reiko instead continued to unwind the tape until she reached Haruhi’s bound arms. The teen in question looked behind her, desperately trying to glimpse at what was happening. “Mmmmph!” Reiko looped the tape through the space between her left elbow and side the box tie created, bringing it around and through the opposite gap. The tape was rejoined at her ankle; now, Haruhi had been hogtied as well. “Annnd that does it for that roll,” Reiko mused, tossing it aside. Looking over her handiwork, she couldn’t help but feel smug. Taped up tightly and gagged with a drugged rag, her third and final guest of the day certainly wasn’t about to go anywhere.
Haruhi’s fiery glare had lost some of its luster as telltale signs of invasive drowsiness made themselves known. Reiko did have to give her credit; for someone so tightly packed up and clearly growing groggier by the second, the kid still found it in herself to struggle like a champion. “And that takes care of the last brat,” Reiko taunted, ruffling Haruhi’s hair. “Ghhhrr…!” Haruhi protested weakly. ‘No…I can’t fall asleep now! I have to stay awake!’ Reiko then switched targets, delivering a quick, meaty smack to Haruhi’s cottontailed rump. “MMGHH!” Haruhi jerked bodily, glaring weakly at her tormentor. Reiko merely smirked.
Reiko scooped Haruhi up and walked towards her supply closet. “As nice as it is seeing you all helpless, you’re still kind of annoying me whenever I look at you…” “Mmphhh!” Haruhi weakly rocked herself around, trying to escape from Reiko’s grasp. The teen found herself trapped inside the closet once more when Reiko sat her down into its cramped confines. “Now, be a good girl and stay put for a little while. Consider this…time out.” The door slid shut, engulfing Haruhi in darkness. “Nnnggh…!” Drowsily, Haruhi tested her restraints, straining and pulling against them. ‘That woman…ohhhh, I should have seen it from the start! She clearly had kidnapper written all over her! Stupid, stupid, stupid!’ Haruhi wasn’t about to let any of this get her down. ‘I just…need to figure out a way out of this mess…’
Meanwhile, Reiko made her way outside and grabbed the duffle bag Haruhi had dropped. Depositing it into her living room, she then went for her cellphone. “C’mon Higa, pick up, pick up…” The phone rang several times, with no answer. “Hey, Higa! Pick up your dang phone! I have an important update on the goods, so get back to me!” For good measure, she sent a text as well. Poking her head back in her bedroom, she eyed her other two captives; Yuki stirred slightly, but seemed to still be unconscious. Mikuru was still sniffling over on her futon, looking worriedly at her slumbering friend. Reiko’s gaze lingered on the redhead for a moment, conflicting emotions dancing around in her head. She walked over to her living room’s couch and plopped down.
She didn’t have to wait long for her phone to ring again. “…this better be as important as you proclaim, Reiko. Talk. Did something happen to your offering?”
“No, no, nothing like that. Y’see, I got my hands on…” Reiko hesitated, thinking of the girl clad in red. ‘I’m sorry, but you’re in this too deep now for me to just let you go…damn, I sorta feel bad about this one…’ Taking a breath, Reiko continued, “…two more high-quality bunnies for you! Interested?” The woman suppressed a grimace, feeling somewhat sleazy for bundling Mikuru with the other two. There was a pause on the other line. “…I see. You realize we were making arrangements for one, right?” Reiko scoffed. “Yeah, so?”
“So,” Higa stressed, “We’ll have to make additional preparations. Tell you what, though; you already have at least one sufficient thing on you, this much we know. I’ll just inspect the others in person, when I arrive, and we can hammer out the details from there.”
Something about that seemed off to Reiko, but she couldn’t quite place her finger on it. “…you’re not trying to rip me off, are you?”
“Need I remind you again that you are not in any position to talk like that? The addition of more to move changes things. I’ll see you in a few hours, and we’ll work things out from there.” He hung up at those words, leaving Reiko to mull them over. “Well, nothing to do now than wait…” As she sunk into her couch, the events of the day began to fully sink in. “I’ve really gone to a new low, huh…but there’s no going back now.” For better or worse, she would have to see this through.
Mikuru had heard everything had had transpired in the other room, whimpering all the while as she listened to Haruhi getting dealt a similar fate. The sniffling girl wasn’t sure how long it had been since then. It had certainly felt like hours had passed, but when every second of her captivity seemed to drag on for an eternity, it was hard to tell. Bound hand and foot, all she could do was squirm about feebly. Their captor had occasionally poked her head in to check on the two; presumably to make sure they weren’t up to anything. Mikuru thought that there wasn’t any need for that; she was utterly powerless within her restraints, and the one person who might have stood a chance at escape was still unconscious.
“mmmh…” the redhead mewled, dejected. She had overheard some of the one-sided phone conversation Reiko had, which had sent the meek girl into even more of a panic. ‘How long is it going to take before someone notices we’re missing?’ she thought fearfully. ‘What…what’s going to happen to us?’ With Haruhi and Yuki incapacitated with her, their current predicament terrified her more than the other time she had been snatched up.
On the floor, Yuki shifted again, moaning softly. “nnhhh….” Mikuru glanced over to the prostrate girl; for the duration of their shared captivity, all she had seen Yuki do was occasionally shift around and mumble incoherently. Mikuru was used to Yuki being a silent observer, but seeing her so thoroughly silenced and cruelly subjected to bindings disheartened the doleful girl.
“nnnh…” Yuki mewed weakly once more. Slowly, her eyes fluttered open. Though heavy-lidded and fatigued, her eyes managed to stay open. Blinking hard, Yuki tried to ascertain her current predicament. Through her hazy, fleeting moments of awareness, the interface already knew that she had been bound and gagged; only now, though, was she privy to the full extent of it. Yuki experimentally tugged at her restraints with weak motions. Tightly trussed as she was, movement proved to be hindered significantly.
“Yhhphh!” Mikuru cried, relieved to see the otherworldly girl finally awaken. Groggily, Yuki tilted her head towards the sound of Mikuru’s voice. ‘I am not alone…’ Yuki realized. Her assailant had subdued more than just herself; the redhead had fell victim as well. It did not bode well for the safety of her primary monitoring subject. Yuki took stock of the room they were in to the best of her ability, drowsily tilting her head around and scanning as much as she could. Idly, she made note that their captor had taken possession of her book as well; it sat on the futon, alongside Mikuru. Yuki continued to test her binds a little more, mumbling incoherently into her thick gag.
Mikuru watched on, the slight surge of hope that had come with seeing Yuki awaken dim when she realized just how powerless Yuki had been rendered. Mikuru could only recall one other time when Yuki looked this helpless, and it was an equally worrisome situation.
It was on that note that Reiko ambled back into the room to check on the two. She spared Mikuru a quick glance, before turning her attention towards Yuki. “Huh. You actually woke up.” Yuki turned her head around to gaze warily at the woman, towering over her more than ever. “I thought your other friend was spirited, but you managed to shake off that sleep pretty fast. …well,” Reiko amended, looking at Yuki’s drowsy eyes, “sort of shook it off.”
“Mnngh….” Yuki quietly fluttered her eyes. “That’s a nice look for you, ice queen,” Reiko sneered, “Not so high and mighty now, are you?” Reiko planted one of her bare feet on Yuki’s head, ruffling the purple tresses with the sole of her foot. Yuki shifted around uncomfortably at the mistreatment. “Mmgh...” Watching helplessly, Mikuru whimpered loudly. Reiko stopped and pulled her foot away, sparing Mikuru a quick glance. “...hey, don’t look at me like that,” she growled. Cowed, Mikuru turned her fearful eyes away. “Man, the sooner I get you three out of my hair, the better…” they heard the woman mutter as she left the room.
‘Three,’ Yuki repeated to herself. The worst case scenario had been confirmed. The question now, then, was what they could do. Bound and gagged as tight as she was, the interface realized she couldn’t rely on her abilities in her current state. The adverse effects of the drug she had been thoroughly dosed with lingered, rendering her cognitive capacities sluggish and sedate. Furthermore, it appeared as though their captor made routine checks on them. ‘Escape will be problematic under these conditions,’ she concluded.
Yuki dazedly scanned the room once more. Settling her attention on the futon, a course of action was settled upon. Struggling to focus, the slip of a girl began to worm her way towards the bed. With her legs pushed backwards, movement proved difficult; each motion was jerky and awkward. “nngh…” Yuki breathed, pausing. She still felt somewhat light-headed. Waiting a moment, she continued her journey across the floor, eventually reaching the futon. Mikuru watched, wondering what the interface had planned. Yuki began to push herself onto the futon next to the red-clad bunny.
Mikuru grew confused when Yuki seemed to ignore her, focusing on – of all things – the book. “Yhhph?” Undeterred, Yuki began to nudge the book with her chin until it flipped open. Delicately, she began to flip through the pages with her chin, until she reached where her bookmark had been placed. The sight of Yuki with her nose in a book was a common one; seeing Yuki with her nose literally in her book, now of all times, left Mikuru flabbergasted. “Yhhphhhhh!” she whined. ‘That’s her first reaction to this?’ “Nhhw ihhsphht phh phhm phrrr bhhphs!” Yuki didn’t so much as spare her a glance, her drowsy eyes managing to focus on her book with rapt attention. At that precise moment, Mikuru didn’t even need a gag; she was at a complete loss for words. Incredulously, she watched on as Yuki sleepily continued reading, as though nothing was wrong with their situation. For the life of her, Mikuru could never figure out the alien.
When Reiko entered the room again, she immediately noticed the change in position. “Well well, what’s this? Trying to cuddle up together? Or maybe…you two are planning an escape?!” she accused, stalking forward towards Yuki. “Maybe I should toss you somewhere nice and cramped like…your…other friend…” Reiko came to a halt, seeing just what the newly awakened captive was doing. “Wait, are you reading?”
“Mmnh.” Yuki didn’t bother looking up. “Who reads a book in a situation like this?” Reiko wondered aloud, shaking her head in abject confusion. For once, Mikuru found herself agreeing with their captor. ‘This is a bit much, even for Nagato!’
“Huh. Maybe I read you wrong. Haughty, cold, snobby and…weird. But if you’re wasting your time reading that book of yours, I guess you’re a bit more harmless than I had thought.”‘That, or she’s still somehow taunting me,’ Reiko eyed Yuki carefully, wondering if it was some elaborate ploy. The girl in white was clearly still groggy; perhaps the chloroform was adding to the strange behavior, Reiko figured.
“Well, whatever. It’s pretty clear that neither of you two are going to be much trouble. Try anything funny, and I’ll punish you.” The statement was directed more to Yuki, as Mikuru seemed to shrink into herself at the words, just as Reiko had expected. ‘What a pushover.’ Yuki continued to ignore her, however. “Did you catch that?” Reiko growled, somewhat annoyed. She patted Yuki’s butt a few times, causing the girl to squirm around uncomfortably. “Mnnngh…!” Poking the soles of Yuki’s upright, pantyhose clad feet a few times – and getting a few more muffled, delicate noises of protest – Reiko felt appeased when Yuki finally tore her gaze away from the book to look back at her. “mmmghhhh....”
“There we go. Now if you’ll excuse me, I –“ Reiko’s stomach growled loudly, causing her to flush. “-think I’m going to go make something to eat.” The woman had skipped out on eating lunch, figuring it to be better to keep a watchful eye on her captives. But with Haruhi stuck - still complaining if the muffled noises she heard when she passed by were any indication - and heavily bound and weak in a closet, Mikuru meek and cowering and Yuki surprisingly passive, Reiko felt assured that everything was under control. She walked out of the room, closing the door behind her.
Mikuru looked over to Yuki again, watching as the interface promptly dove back into her book. ‘Is…is it really that good?’ Mikuru wondered, trying to take her mind off of the terrible situation they were in. Soon, noises could be heard from the kitchen; it seemed that Reiko was preparing to cook something, after all. ‘I wonder if I’ll be able to cook anything again…’ Mikuru though miserably.
Yuki’s ears twitched at the distant noises. Blearily, she turned her attention away from the book and scooted closer to her fellow captive. “Hmngh?” Mikuru questioned, wondering what had caused the quiet girl to finally tear her attention away from her novel. Her confusion only multiplied when Yuki began to worm her way towards Mikuru’s feet. “Yhhphh?” Yuki began to rub her cheek against the pointed heel of Mikuru’s red shoe. Understanding dawned on the time traveler. ‘Is…is she trying to get her gag off?’ Yuki attempted to fit the bottom of the heel between the tiny gaps the thick cloth pinned underneath the tape created. Inspired, Mikuru began to tentatively position her feet around to best aid in the effort. After a minute, it became apparent that there seemed to be a problem; the heel was just wide enough to be too big to squeeze underneath the tape wrapping.
“Whh nhhw?” Mikuru tried to ask. Yuki paused, staring contemplatively at Mikuru’s red heels with her heavy-lidded eyes. “Rhmmph phhm,” Yuki mumbled, rubbing her face against Mikuru’s ankle and shoe. The time traveler wasn’t sure what Yuki was going on about this time. She watched as Yuki continued to rub her cheeks and chin against the top of her shoe. “Yhhr hhhhls…rhmmph phhm.” Yuki gestured her head behind her, towards her own exposed feet.
‘Something about my heels…does she want me to remove them?’ Tentatively, Mikuru began to rub her bare legs together, testing the bonds that ensnared them. Unlike her friends, Mikuru had been spared a harsher treatment and was sparsely tied. She found that she could move her ankles around a bit, stretching the tape a little in the process. The redhead managed to maneuver one heel above the other. Working at it uncomfortably, she began to push at it. Giving it her best, the shoe began to slowly slide off, until it popped loose entirely. Reflexively, Mikuru began to wiggle her freed toes around before looking at her other heel. “Phhs ohhn phh?” Yuki shook her head; she wanted the other heel to remain where it was.
With her right foot completely bare and her left still clad in her heel, Mikuru wondered just what the interface expected her to do. Yuki gestured to her own pantyhose clad feet, making a point to wiggle her toes. She began to rub her face up against the now bared foot before her. It took her a second, but Mikuru caught on. ‘Ah, she wants me to use my toes, then. Will…that work?’ There was only one way to find out. Mikuru hesitantly planted her dainty foot onto Yuki’s chin. ‘Still…putting my feet on another girl’s face seems rude, even in a drastic situation!’ “Ihhm shhry, Yhhph!” The apologetic redhead began wiggling her big toe around Yuki’s smooth jaw, attempting to worm it underneath the tape around her friend’s cheek. The thick cloth over Yuki’s mouth served as a buffer, stretching the tape away from Yuki’s face. Mikuru wondered if she’d have been able to do this if not for that.
Her big toe finally slipped underneath the tiny opening. “Nhh whh…” she mumbled to herself. Experimentally, she began to test manipulating it with her big toe underneath the tape, and her index toe above it. ‘This doesn’t seem to be doing much at all…’ Mikuru thought, feeling discouraged. She caught Yuki’s eye, who shifted her golden pupils down towards the crimson heel still fitted to her other foot. “Mmm?” Mikuru pondered what Yuki meant, looking between her heel and the gag beyond it. A sudden stroke of realization hit her. ‘Oh! If I can keep the tape lifted up a little with my toes, I might be able to use my heel to push the stuffing out of the way.’
She wasn’t sure if that was what Yuki had intended, precisely, but Mikuru figured it was worth a shot. Awkwardly, the time traveler began to move the point of the heel up against the bottom of the cloth rag. It proved difficult, multitasking while she held the tape between her two toes. Yuki’s droopy eyes managed to keep Mikuru focused.
Together, the pair worked in tandem, with Yuki pitching in and rubbing her head at times to help Mikuru push the cloth. With it partially lodged in Yuki’s mouth, getting it out would be no easy feat. Worse yet, Mikuru figured that it couldn’t be pleasant for Yuki having her foot rubbing up against her face like that. But all they could do was continue on. The meek bunny stilled whenever she heard Reiko cease making noise in the kitchen, terrified that their captor would walk back in. The noise would continue, however, and likewise, the time traveler would pick up the pace.
The frustrating process dragged on, each tense second filling Mikuru with dread. ‘Come on…come on!’ On the other end, Yuki tiredly worked her jaw, pushing against the cloth with her tongue. Finally, after working at it continuously from both sides, the cloth found itself removed from Yuki’s mouth. Her job made slightly easier, Mikuru began to push at the cloth with a newfound vigor. Moving it still proved difficult, with how tightly packed the tape was and the sticky nature of the adhesive. Her labor was rewarded when it was finally pushed up a tiny fraction. Mikuru began to start sweating when she realized that if she moved her heel now, it would likely fall back into place thanks to the tape. “Yhhph, hhrrhy!”
Yuki worked her jaw and attempted to speak an incantation. Weak, disorientated and partially muffled, it came out disjointed. “Nhh!” Her foot slipped, and the gag fell back into place. ‘Now I’m going to have to try again!’ Mikuru thought, wondering how much time they had left to themselves. Pausing, she realized something strange was happening; the tape binding her wasn’t clinging as tightly as before. “Mmm?” Slowly, the adhesive properties began to vanish. Furthermore, the tape itself seemed to loosen up a bit around her wrists.
Moving her wrists around, Mikuru was able to slip them loose of the binds entirely. Arms freed, she reached up and worked on removing the wrapping around her shoulders. The tape was still tight against her mouth and ankles, even without the adhesive quality. Picking at it for a moment, Mikuru was able to tug her gag loose. Not even bothering to undo her ankles just yet, Mikuru scrambled over to Yuki. “H-hang on…” she whispered, tugging at the interface’s gag. Working with her delicate fingers, Mikuru began to slowly peel the thickly layered gag off of her companion’s face. Yuki winced slightly all, earning an apologetic look from Mikuru. “S-sorry…”
With the tape gone, the thick handkerchief fell uselessly onto the futon. “…thank you…” Yuki mumbled. Softer, Yuki began to incant. Like magic, the tape thoroughly binding her came loose, until it removed itself from her body as though possessed. The tape still adorned around Mikuru’s ankles joined the swirling gathering. With a slow, precise grace, Yuki began to push herself upright onto her feet. She wobbled slightly as she stood, still feeling lightheaded. “What now?” Mikuru whispered, also clambering to her feet. “Let…me deal with this,” Yuki whispered. Mikuru noted that the tape had never stopped floating around. “U-uh, Nagato…?” The interface whispered another incantation, gesturing weakly towards Reiko’s carpet. It gradually floated up in the air with halting, jerky motions.
Quietly opening up the door, Yuki peered into the rest of the apartment. From there, she could spot Reiko working in her kitchen, back turned to them. Pushing the door all the way open, Yuki sent the carpet flying towards her target. Caught completely unaware, Reiko found herself getting wrapped up from behind. “Hey, what the – “ The mass of tape trailed behind it. The strips of orange and silver began to wrap itself around the carpet, mummifying Reiko inside of it. Due to her taller stature compared to Yuki, her head and legs protruded from either end. “H-HEY, what do you think you’re doing?!” she screeched. “Which one of you brats is doing this?! How are you – MMMGGGH!” A strip of tape had floated from behind Reiko’s thrashing head and made itself home across her lips. In seconds, Reiko had went from self-assured kidnapper to helpless captive.
Yuki looked at her handiwork with a passive expression. Mikuru stepped up next to her, looking at what had become of Reiko. “W-wow…” she breathed, suddenly feeling both appreciative and apprehensive about Yuki’s powers. “G-good job, Naga- ah! Nagato?!” Yuki swooned, falling to her knees. “…exhausted…” she muttered weakly. “W-what should I do?!” Mikuru cried, grabbing Yuki’s shoulders. Straining her ears, the interface picked up soft muffled noises coming from a nearby closet. “Get…Suzumiya…”
Mikuru glanced frantically between Yuki, the closet and the furiously struggling carpet in the kitchen. “But, what about you?” Yuki curled up on the floor into a ball, mumbling softly, “I simply require…rest…”
Mikuru reluctantly left Yuki’s side, walking awkwardly with her mismatched feet. She opened up the closet and gasped at the sight of their brigade leader. “Suzumiya!” With most of her energy spent, Haruhi could only glance weakly up at Mikuru. “mmkhhruu?” Even then, the bound brunette seemed to have energy to spare to express her shock at her apparent rescuer. “N-Nagato, Suzumiya is heavily restrained! Could you…help me with undoing her restraints?” Even if Yuki couldn’t manipulate the properties of the tape to avoid arousing suspicion, the time traveler figured that she’d still be the best bet in removing the numerous strips of tape winding around Haruhi’s body. No response was forthcoming, causing Mikuru to glance over back to Yuki in worry.
Curled up on the floor, Yuki had fallen asleep once more. Mikuru turned back to Haruhi. “U-um…” It looked like it was up to her, now. “I – maybe I should find some scissors…?” ‘That’s an awful lot of tape…’
After finally freeing Haruhi, the brigade leader set about seeing to three things; making sure that Yuki was okay, shouting at the trapped Reiko and making the promised call to the police. After verbally stripping down Reiko, she had gone through the woman’s cellphone, making note of the various texts she had passed along and feeling thoroughly disgusted all the while. That, combined with the chloroform in Reiko’s purse and other incriminating items to work with, Reiko’s future seemed to be one in a cell. Her contact would share a similar fate, when his number was traced.
Not wanting to make a call on something that would soon be evidence, Haruhi looked around for Reiko's home phone. The brigade chief tried to make a call on it, but the line was cut. ‘What a bum!’ Haruhi scoffed, not knowing – nor caring – about Reiko’s financial situation. Haruhi’s cellphone had been in the duffle bag along with the rest of their SOS promotional material, so she made the call with that.
“…so get over here right away!” Haruhi demanded, finishing up her call. “Now, you!” Haruhi growled, setting aside her cellphone and stalking over to Reiko. “As you can see, the police are on their way here now. But until they get here…I’ll be keeping a very close eye on you!”
“MMMMMGHH!” Reiko seethed uncontrollably. ‘I can’t have been beaten by these BRATS! That Mikuru girl is too docile to have done this on her own…it had to have been little miss sleeping beauty somehow! I shouldn’t have let my guard down with her for one moment! I’ll…I’ll get her back, somehow!’ A part of Reiko acknowledged that she shouldn’t have resorted to such a terribly thought out scheme in the first place; it had always been a long shot at best. Even if she had gone through with it, her rep as a cruel thug would have been cemented amongst the criminal element. As she stared up at the haughty glare of the brunette that towered over her, however, Reiko’s rage overrode any rational thought. “YHH BRHHPH, IHHHL GHH YHH AHHHL FFRR THHHS!”
“Now, how ever shall I pass the time?” Haruhi hummed. Her eyes drifted to Reiko’s exposed feet, sticking out from the other end of the carpet. “Y’know, for a thug, you seem to take care of your feet pretty well,” Haruhi noted, looking at the black nail polish. “I wonder…”
Squatting down onto Reiko’s legs, Haruhi grinned savagely. She dug her fingernails into the exposed soles of Reiko’s feet, racking them up and down their length. “MMMMHMHMHMH!” Reiko shrieked, twisting and turning furiously. “HAH! So the big tough baddie is secretly ticklish?” Haruhi taunted, grinning sadistically. “Well, let’s see how you like this!”
Mikuru sat on the couch and watched as their brigade chief began to mercilessly tickle their former captor. ‘Despite everything, I can’t help but feel slightly sorry for her…’ she thought, wincing at the sight. Her own toes – now clad in both heels once again – curled up as Mikuru thought about how ticklish she was. Despite the terrifying situation they had found themselves caught in, the time traveler couldn’t help but feel somewhat alleviated by the fact that, unlike her previous time spent captured, she had directly contributed to their escape. ‘Though…Nagato did do most of the work!’
The purple-haired interface stirred from her perch on the couch, head resting on Mikuru’s lap. Yuki continued her heavy sleep, heedless of the muffled yet loud laughter filling the apartment. Mikuru could have sworn that the interface seemed almost contented; and for good reason. Yuki could rest well knowing that she had carried out her duty to protect those around her.