Mariko's next stop was Tokyo strip, where they were preparing for their nightly festival. There had been an add online for someone who knew a bit about traditional japanese festivals, that Mariko had contacted. She wasn't necessarily sure what kind of festival attraction they were attempting to create, but she was being compensated handsomely, so she had agreed in advance. When you've killed people for money, nothing else is really below your standards, she thought. Or maybe that was just her. "Group...mock dating?"
Mariko stared blankly at the anime-T shirt wearing boy who was enthusiastically gesturing toward the tables and chairs they had set up beneath their tent. She put her hands on her hips, staring incredulously. "They aren't really all that popular."
The young-looking boy had a devious expression, "But what you don't understand, Mariko-san, is that americans love all this crap. Why do you think we have a whole asian themed part of the city??"
His enthusiasm was almost infectious, if he didn't come off as rude. She sat her back down on one of the benches and sat beside it, putting a little distance between herself and the boy. He wasn't wrong
. But she had a sinking suspicion that her dignity was going to suffer from this. "we've even got a couple of biiig chests worth of cosplay implements for people to wear for their "dates."
He motioned to a series of clothing trunks sitting at the edge of the tent. Mariko was impressed by the sheer cringe-level of his investment to this horrendous gag. It couldn't possibly be anything else.
She was worried before she asked the question, "You look like you've got a handle on everything you want. What...is it exactly you want from me?"
The boy took a moment, put a thumb to his chin and looked at her, and Mariko could swear he was appraising her as if she was a piece of antique crockery. It wasn't a wholly unflattering kind of attention. Certainly she'd had boys eye her before, but few were quite so brazen about it. "Cosplay."
He said simply, after a moment. "What?"
That was absolutely not
what the add had entailed. "Your add didn't say anything about--""I know it didn't, but I also had no idea I'd snag a stone-cold fox with it either, did I? You gotta learn to adapt to the situation. Roll with the punches."
The sentiment of his statement was ruined by his playful shadow-boxing routine. "Anyway, I'll pay you double-no-tripple what I promised in the ad. And all you've got to do is dress up and hand out our flyers for a few hours. Easy peasy."
He grinned at her.
Mariko looked around at the tent, the decorations in it which were already fairly authentic. How much had he already paid to arrange this much space for this ludicrous event? Money really could buy anything, couldn't it? Mariko liked money, and this was something she could scarcely pass up. Normally, she suspected, most girls in this situation would be bashful, but Mariko had always wanted to be an idol, and cosplay was two steps from the normal wardrobe of most idols.
She stood up from her place at the table, folded her eyes and looked at the boy. The hope in his eyes...she could crush it right now if she wanted to. She thought about it. It would make listening to his ridiculous plan worth it. But it wouldn't get her money, and at the very least, she wouldn't have to be here for the event itself. The thought of whoever she'd passed out flyers to, arriving to this event thinking she would be there, and then leaving it empty when they realized she wasn't, made the deal all the sweeter. "Deal. But I'm nobody's dress-up doll. I get to help pick the outfit."
The boy nearly squealed. "Yes! Awesome! I'm down with that, come on."
He led her over to the myriad trunks by the far side of the tent, and opened them. To Mariko's surprise, there were several tasteful outfits among them, along with every skimpy outfit she expected to find. Honestly, wasn't it a little cold to be wearing most of this stuff. She was almost sorry for the boy. This event of his was going to flop so hard. Thankfully, Mariko had no reputation in town to ruin just yet, so doing this for him cost her nothing.
It took nearly 20 minutes to pick the proper outfit for her escapade. She let him talk her into a low-cut dress that was probably a half-size too small for her, that billowed out on one side but left her thigh exposed on the other. It was...tasteful to as much of an extent as she could have expected. She didn't know what character it was, but she was sure once she started this, that plenty of people would be inclined to inform her about it.
"You've got me for two hours. What do you want me to do?""Go out, promote! hand out flyers! If they like you, say you'll be there! Whatever you've got to do to make them come! You get 'em in here, and I'll make sure they have a good time!"
The kid put his hands on his hips and smiled wide. Mariko still thought he was probably going to have a terrible turn out, but she was beginning to think he was impervious to shame, so it would probably turn out alright. His determination was almost admirable - if his whole idea didn't reek of fanboy trash."Alright. I can do that."
She nodded, taking a large stack of flyers from the table where he'd stacked them.
It would have been humiliating if she didn't have the money to think about while she got strange glances and snickers. But for every snicker and judgemental glance, she got just as many stares of admiration or astonishment. A couple people she approached said they weren't interested in the event, but they were curious if she did any other events. One thing led to another, and she managed to get a few people to promise to swing by All Night Long to watch her perform that evening.
For every person who refused to accept a flyer, Mariko threw one away. And by the time the two hours were up, it certainly looked like she'd done a fair more amount of leg-work than she'd actually done. She was surprised how many people - because of politeness or otherwise - had genuinely accepted the flyer. She was vaguely curious how it would go. Maybe his silly event would actually get somewhere...
But it was not for her to find out. "Hey, looks like you got rid of lots of 'em. You know, if you wanted to come, I'd be happy to pay you."
He said when she returned, and set her flyers on the table. "Thanks, but no thanks. I have a prior engagement."
She said truthfully, politely, as she headed towards the storefront whose restroom she had used to change. She changed in short order, and, after collecting every penny she was promised, moved on from the booth. She had some time before her third job started, and it was time for some much needed rest and recuperation. What a strange and interesting day it had been so far.