The knob of unit six, building C, floor three rattled as someone struggled with the lock. The door shook in its frame and someone uttered a long string of curses on the other side, still barred from entering.
“Just – hang on a minute!” said an exasperated male voice.
“I don't need your help!” spat a female voice, and the knob rattled even more vigorously than before. “This – stupid – lock – is!” There was a loud thump that shook the door again, and then a sharp cry of “Itai!”
Bolter jumped down from Kyoko's shoulder as the brunette hopped on one leg, clutching her foot in pain. A human-sized door wasn't very friendly to a small, stubby Digimon like Lopmon, but the rabbit made due with what he had.
Kyoko thudded back against the opposite wall, hands still clenched tightly around her battered toes. Her eyes watered and she sucked in hissing gasps of breath through pain-clenched teeth. “The doors in Onee-sama's lair never -” she began, but Bolter cut her off.
“I've got it, Haruko,” he said, trying to remind Kyoko that talking about such things was inadvisable. Though they'd procured items for her disguise, they were in a shopping bag currently leaned against the door frame.
Bolter pushed the key fully into the lock and twisted it. The door popped open, and Bolter spread his ears before letting go. He dropped lightly to the ground, and nudged the door further open. “There we go,” he said, looking back and forth down the hallway. Good, empty. With any luck, no one will get a good look at Kyoko before they learn Haruko lives here.
Kyoko gingerly put her foot down on the ground, and moved with a slight limp as she picked up her shopping bags. Moving to the threshold, her immediate thought was the sad notion that it was nothing like her apartment in the Ebon Hold. It had taken her months to get what had once been a dull stone cubby to feel like the perfect home. This place didn't have her lacy curtains, her familiar bed, her favorite blanket, her kooky alarm clock, her stuffed animals, and it wasn't just a quick elevator ride away from Onee-sama.
Why did they think I did it? Kyoko wondered, standing trancelike just beyond the doorway into the apartment. Bolter stared at her for a moment, but she didn't even seem to notice him, and so he pushed the door shut behind her. He then scrabbled up the door, and set about closing every last lock on it. I would never hurt Onee-sama.
Ah, but you hurt Kyra-chan, whispered an impish voice from the back of her mind.
I – I didn't mean to! And when I did, I did everything I could to fix it. I apologized and promised to go away until she came to find me, so she would believe I didn't want to hurt her. Her lips thinned, but she remained otherwise still as a post. I'll bet those two bug brains killed her, and then tried to blame me for it. No... they're too stupid to do something like that...
“Digital World to Ky – Haruko,” Bolter's voice brought her back to the present. “If you don't mind, I'm a little hungry. Leave the bags on the kitchen table. I'll get the food ready and you can take a look around.”
Kyoko didn't really want to take a look around the apartment, her mind basely refusing the possibility that this could ever be her home. But lacking anything else to do, she grudgingly did so. The apartment spread out from the entry hallway, with a coat closet to the right and a bedroom to the left. Down from there was the bathroom, and at the end of the hall lay a large entertainment room. A flat-screen TV dominated one corner, and green curtains were currently drawn across the windows that dominated the far wall. An assortment of chairs dotted the room, and a large sectional sat in the corner opposite the TV. On one side of the entertainment room was another bedroom, this one seemed to be slightly larger. All the rooms save the kitchen and bathroom had the same rather generic light brown carpeting, and walls painted an assortment of neutral colors. On the other side off the main room was the kitchen Kyoko was searching for, and so she dropped the food bag on the table.
The other bag contained new clothes and a few other things to try and make the apartment livable for her. “Why don't you go change?” suggested Bolter, waddling after her into the kitchen. Hands at his waist, he looked around. The kitchen's surfaces all gleamed as though they had been cleaned just minutes ago. The refrigerator was a stainless steel side by side, the oven gas with a microwave installed into the cabinetry overhead. A toaster oven and a toaster sat side by side on the counter, and the sink sat under the room's one external window. “Well, it's never gonna be this clean again.” Bolter chuckled to himself. “But this will do nicely.”
Again, Kyoko complied with Bolter mainly because she didn't know what else to do at this point. Howling at him every time he gave her advice only stayed entertaining for so long. Plus, trying a new look was always fun. She disappeared into the bathroom, the door shutting behind her with a bang. Marring the finality somewhat, there was another door leading to the main bedroom to shove shut as well.
It was somewhat mournfully that Kyoko removed her old outfit, tattered, singed and dirty as it was. It was another connection to the life she'd had, but did no longer. She looked at her d-ban again and huffed. “Maybe I am Haru-chan now,” she leaned on the sink, staring hard at her reflection in the mirror. She didn't like having to hide. But she liked the idea of being found again by Onee-sama's enemies even less. Spiting them would be Kyoko's gift to her late mistress.
What had started as a simple change of clothes turned into a full length shower, and it was most of an hour later that Kyoko finally examined her completed guise in the mirror. Styling gel had lent some spikiness to her normally straight auburn hair, and her rabbit earrings were gone. A leather choker hung a curious-looking metal charm against her collarbone, and she wore black leather gloves that stopped at the first knuckle. A pity they hadn't had the same style Kyoko had seen before. Her tank top was a vibrant orange, and her pleated skirt a powdery blue. Ankle socks didn't emerge above her high tops, which were silver-trimmed gray.
The most jarring change however came from looking at her face, specifically her eyes. Her blue eye wasn't anymore, covered by a brown contact lens. She pirouetted in front of the mirror, examining her reflection from every angle. “Gu!” she said, rather liking the makeover even if it hadn't been entirely her choice to go through with it. “Onee-sama would recognize me. Kyra-chan might, too. But I bet all those stupid Digimon and light tamers out there won't know it's me!”
There was a knock at the door. “Hey Kyo, you coming or not?” Bolter called teasingly. “If you dawdle any longer I might not leave any food for you~”
Kyoko tugged the door open and shot a dirty look down at Bolter. “Well, what do you think?” she said testily, glaring at him even as he looked at her in surprise. Even though she knew the notion was silly, she somehow correlated the need for a disguise with Bolter.
“Not bad,” Bolter's expression relaxed slightly. “It was hard to picture what it would all look like together, but this is good.”