“Ah! Yes, Lady?”
“Have you seen my latest experiment?” Lady murmured in concern, her delicate hand over her mouth. “I went to check on it, but it seems to have gone missing...”
Tamora just sat there, a cookie halfway to her mouth, a frozen smile on her face. “Ahhhh...”
”'Can't have any more cookies, can't have any chocolate, punishment for not dealing with Pretty Cure,' blah blah blah...” Tamora grumped as she stormed down the hall. “If they're not gonna give me any sweets, I'll have to steal some then! I bet Lady's got some!” She grinned as she came to Lady's door, turning the handle--
--and then screaming as something large and black bowled her over, breathing heavily on and batting at her face before taking off down the hall and out of sight.
“Th-That wasn't chocolate!” Tamora squealed.
“N-Nope, haven't seen it~!” Tamora said, too loudly as she popped the cookie into her mouth.
Lady frowned, her expression clearly saying she didn't believe Tamora. Despite this, she turned and moved on to the next room. “How very peculiar...”
Miho stood outside her house, checking the mail that'd come in. “Let's see...Electric bill, reminder for our yearly check-up, cable bill, Beat magazine – oh hey, our subscription's about to run out...” She frowned at that last one. “Hm...I better hurry and--”
Something was running towards her.
She looked up.
They locked eyes.
Miho was knocked to the ground with a loud, shrill scream.
OP: "Love and Joy PreCure" - Entwined Hearts Duo
“Miho, what's wrong?!” Nana yelled, running for the door.
“Get off me! Get off, get off – Nana, help me – Aaaaah!”
“Miho!” Nana shrieked as she ran outside, skidding to a halt just beyond the front steps. She stared in stunned silence at the sight before her: her sweet, baby cousin on the walk outside their house...
...laughing and holding back a large dog-like creature's head with one hand as she tried to sit up beneath him. “Ahahaaa! G-Get off me, silly, you're heavy!” she laughed as the creature barked and licked her cheek. “Haha, yuck! Okay, okay, I like you too, get offa me!”
The...creature, because it only barely looked like a dog, backed off just enough to let Miho sit up and wrap her arms around its neck. “Ahaha, Nana, look, I made a friend!” she called over.
Nana just stared, speechless.
TODAY'S EPISODE: Miho's New Pet? Oh No!
”What the heck is that thing?!”
Miho grinned at the girls and their fairies, her hand resting on “that thing's” head. “This is my new dog! His name is Pochi.”
“D-Dog?” Hiromi squeaked, half-hidden behind Aki.
Indeed, the creature in Miho's sitting room certainly didn't look like any dog they'd ever seen. It was large, stood on all fours, and was somewhat canine in appearance, yes, but it also had large red irises – they'd never seen that eye-color on a dog! - with tiny pupils, too-large fangs with a too-red tongue, its body was pitch-black, and the claws looked a bit too sharp for a canine. Its ears stood straight up, coming to a sharp point, its wagging tail was just as sharp at the tip. Ti swore he could see something rippling along its silhouette, like tiny flickering, barely-perceptive flames. And it just...
It just felt wrong.
The thing – er, Pochi – barked, making the two girls jump a little.
“He's uhm...i-interesting!” Aki managed to say. “He won't bite me, will he?”
“Pochi? Naaah, he's nothing but a big sweetie-bug!” Miho giggled, hugging the dog around the neck.
Pochi barked and turned to lick her cheek - and holy crap he had a long tongue. Like a snake, or a lizard!
“So uh--” Coffee held Ti behind her, as if to shield him in case Pochi decided he liked to eat mice and rats. “What breed is he?”
“I dunno. I think he's a Doberman. He kinda looks like one, except for some...oddities, but maybe he's a mix...” Miho muttered, frowning somewhat. Then her frown vanished, replaced by a big smile and she hugged him again. “Ooooh, but I don't care either way~! I love him to bits! Nana wasn't too pleased at first, but when I showed her Pochi was already so well-behaved--” She gestured around the room, showing that nothing had been knocked over, or broken, or urinated on between that morning and her friends coming over. “She said it was okay for me to keep him! I just have to remember to keep him fed and take him on walks – he's my responsibility!” she said with an air of pride. “He's already got a collar, see?”
To illustrate this, Miho reached down and grabbed a pink collar, gently securing it around Pochi's neck. Pochi didn't seem to mind, barking joyfully again and wagging his tail harder, making Miho laugh. “What a good boy!” she cooed.
Aki and Hiromi exchanged wry looks. “Uh...so you seem busy with Pochi there,” Aki said. “You want us to leave?”
“Oh, that's right!” Miho gasped, eyes wide. “Ohhh, we were supposed to go to the arcade! I'm sorry, but with my new dog...” She began, pouting a little.
“It's cool, we understand!” said Aki.
“Y-Yeah, we can uh...d-do something else,” added Hiromi, shuddering a bit as Pochi yawned and gave them an impressive view of all his teeth. “L-Like...anything else.” She gulped loudly and seized Aki by the elbow, dragging her out of the house. “S-See you later, Miho! C'mon, Aki!”
Miho kept smiling as the door slammed shut, then sighed and looked at Pochi. “They must not be dog-people...” she muttered.
Pochi lowered his head and whined.
“Awww, but don't feel sad! I love you just the way you are!” she giggled and hugged him again. “Hey, you wanna go to the backyard and play with the ball? You wanna play ball?!”
Pochi barked loudly.
Aki and Hiromi walked down the street to the arcade, trying to calm down and get the image of that dog out of their minds. Coffee shivered and hugged Ti close, petting the back of his head. Ti, for his part, looked up at the others in concern.
“Was it really okay to leave her with that thing, datchu?”
“Well, you heard her...” Aki mumbled, a bit nervously. “He's her new dog, and he hasn't done anything to hurt her. Or break anything, or pee in the house.”
“That last one's kinda weird...” Coffee muttered.
“And it seemed happy...so, as scary as it looks, I guess we can trust her with it?” Hiromi shot Aki a nervous look. “A-And she's Pretty Cure! If something happens, she can stop it!”
“Are you suggesting Miho transform and attack her dog?!” gasped Coffee.
“N-N-No, not that! I mean, she can handle it! Bop him on the nose or something!” Hiromi said hastily.
“If you say so...”
“You want the ball~? You want the ball~?” Miho held the tennis ball above her head, shaking it tauntingly. Pochi barked and jumped up, but Miho pulled the ball away again. “You want it? You want it? Okay, go get it!” she laughed and threw the tennis ball as far as she could.
Pochi barked and raced after the ball, effortlessly finding it in the bushes it'd landed in. Miho's laughter didn't last for very long, as Pochi brought it back – at top speed.
“Wh-whoa, Pochi, hey wait -- oof!” Miho was bowled over, skidding a few inches and sending up blades of grass in her wake. The ball was dropped next to her head and Pochi began frantically licking her face, much to the girl's amusement. “P-Pochi! Pochi, stah-ah-ah-ahp!” she laughed, trying to shove the big dog off. “Okay, okay, no more ball!”
Pochi finally stepped back to let Miho stand up, his tail still wagging and his tongue still out. When Miho tensed, he stopped panting and tilted his head, ears perking slightly.
“Instead...” Miho grinned deviously, flexing her fingers. “It's belly-rub time~!” And with a hearty laugh, she fell atop Pochi, scratching furiously at his sides and belly as his legs buckled and he rolled over.
“Okay, Pochi, now Nana hasn't driven out to get the kibble just yet – she promised she would this evening though! - so you can have people food.” Miho turned away from the fridge and winked, a finger to her lips. “Just for today though! As a special treat!”
Pochi barked, eyes lit up.
Miho chuckled and turned back to the fridge, a large bowl already in one hand. “Let me see now...Something a dog can eat...”
Moments later, the bowl was half-full of baby carrots, a few leftover pieces of chicken, and a few slices of cheese. Miho wasn't sure she'd ever eat them together, but Pochi would probably enjoy it! And apparently he did, because while Miho sat on the counter top eating peanut butter from a jar, Pochi was happily (and messily) devouring his lunch. Then he licked up the mess he'd made, licked his chops, and finally sat back on his haunches to watch her eat.
Miho blinked, glanced at the jar in her hand, then held it protectively to her chest. “Oh no!” she said. “This is my peanut butter!”
Pochi whined pitifully.
“Nope! You're cute but you're not that cute!”
He whined and pawed at her shin.
Miho stuck her tongue out and ate another spoonful of peanut butter. “No way~” Just because he was cute and she'd spoil him rotten didn't mean he could get away with begging!
Pochi made a mess again that evening when Nana brought the kibble and a new dog dish – among other necessities - home. And as before, he ate the kibble off the floor, then begged for the girls' food.
Nana nervously held her plate at arm's length, eyeing the dog warily. “M-Miho, you think he needs a vet?”
“How come?” Miho asked around a mouthful of salmon.
“W-Well, look at those eyes! And his tongue! Th-that isn't normal!”
“But he seems so healthy...I'm sure he's fine!” Miho said. Then, before Nana could say anything more, she added “I think he just needs to sleep it off, have some food and water, maybe a bath... Once he's fed, cleaned, and rested, I bet he'll look much better!”
“W-Well, he did come off the streets...” Nana admitted. She yelped when she saw Pochi had suddenly moved to her other side, and held her dinner the other direction. “M-Miho, please put him in your room til after dinner!”
“Yeah, sure. C'mon, Pochi!” Miho stood up and left for her own room, Pochi excitedly following her.
When Miho entered her room and flicked the light on, Pochi immediately ran for her futon, flopping onto it and rolling onto his back as if expecting treats. His happy smile faded when Miho knelt sternly in front of him. “Now, Pochi,” she said. “You shouldn't beg for food, okay? You have your own food, and it's rude to do that. Okay?” She paused, as if waiting for an answer. When she didn't get one, she went on. “You can paw at your dish if you're still hungry, but no begging. 'kay?”
“Good boy~!” Miho laughed and scratched Pochi's exposed chest. “See you later, Pochi!”
As she left the room and shut the door, Pochi rolled back onto his paws, staring at the door. After a moment, he huffed and laid his head down to nap.
Shortly after that, however, he was awoken by Miho, pulling at him to go into the bathroom with her. Much to her surprise, he leaped into the bathtub instead of trying to escape, and sat quietly while she scrubbed his warm body and dried him off with a large, fluffy towel. Even Nana was surprised at how well-behaved he was at that point, and made a mention of picking up dog treats tomorrow.
“Oh, I can do that! I'll walk Pochi tomorrow morning and we can pick some up together!” Miho said.
After bathtime, Miho got a few thumbnails sketched out, Pochi gnawing on a thick rope behind her all the while. No playing together, no conversation, just enjoying each other's company.
And then late that evening, Miho slept under the covers of her futon, using Pochi as a pillow. The dog snored softly, his leg occasionally twitching as Miho snuggled against him. He shifted a bit, briefly disturbing Miho's rest.
Her eyes opened a crack, blinked, and then she closed her eyes to sleep again. “Hmm...Pochi...” she mumbled.
In Heartbreak Manor, Lady had still not found her experiment. She sighed quietly as she stood before a large mirror, smoothing down one of her ringlets. “Well, if it's not here...”
She held her hand out, palm-up, and briefly flexed her fingers. Instantly, a Heartbreak Marker appeared in her hand.
“I suppose I will have to search the human world.”
Eyecatch 1: Hiromi and Aki pose back to back, forming a heart with their arms while Miho feverishly sketches them. Finally she smiles, and turns her sketchpad around – to reveal she's been drawing Coffee and Ti the whole time. Hiromi and Aki gape at her for a second before all three start laughing, and the Entwined Hearts logo appears in the corner.
Eyecatch 2: Miho, Hiromi, and Aki hold a large heart-shaped cookie between them; Hiromi taking the left, Aki taking the right, and Miho holding the bottom corner. They pull, and as the cookie comes apart there is a bright pink flash of light. When it fades, the trio are in their Cure forms, happily eating their cookie pieces. The Entwined Hearts logo appears in the corner.
Miho woke up early, before the sun had fully risen. Hey, Pochi deserved to have treats early as possible, and the store was open 24 hours, so why not? She yawned, stretched, and threw her coat on over her pajamas. “Pochi, come here,” she called, smiling when he immediately approached her. “Aww, good boy! Okay, leash...and there, let's go, Pochi!”
Pochi barked loudly, making Miho jump.
“P-Pochi! It's still early, Nana's asleep! Sssshhhh...” she whispered.
He was silent.
“Good boy!” Miho smiled again, and off they went.
The streets were quiet under the dusky, purple-pink sky, a few stars still twinkling above. A few streetlights were still on, but they were almost unneeded, with the sun rising. Miho jogged down the quiet, empty streets, Pochi trotting ahead of her. This was a nice time to walk, she thought to herself as she looked around. Quiet, the scenery was pretty, they wouldn't run into a jogger or anyone, so she'd get to be alone with her thoughts – and Pochi, of course.
Yeah...yeah, she'd definitely make this her time for walks.
Pochi suddenly stopped, and growled.
“Eh?” Miho stopped, eyeing Pochi in concern. “What's wrong, boy? Huh?” She lifted her head to see a woman walking down the street. At first, she thought maybe the woman was picking up the mail or newspaper, but she was already dressed and made-up. And...rather elegantly, at that. “No one wears something that fancy to bed...” Miho mumbled to herself.
Then she noticed the woman was walking right towards her.
“Ah! You've found my Usotsuki!” the lady gasped, clapping her hands together and running for Miho and Pochi.
Miho drew back, gently tugging Pochi's leash to take him with her. “U-Usotsuki?” she murmured.
“Well, there's no reason I should hide it, yes?” the lady said, tilting her head. “I recognize you – you're the Pretty Cure who awoke in the shopping district.”
Miho reached into her pocket, staring at the Cure Signet in astonishment.
“How do you -- You weren't even--?” Miho gasped. “You're the one who made the Usotsuki!”
“Yes, that was me. Lady, of Shitsuren, at you service,” the woman – Lady – smiled and curtsied. “It wasn't my best work, but...” She smiled down at Pochi. “I was hoping this one would be better.”
“Pochi's not an Usotsuki!” Miho snapped back.
“I know he looks very much like a dog, but I assure you, he is. I made him in my labs, you see. I admit, he isn't perfect, and not quite finished – my poor daughter let him out by mistake before I could add the final touch.” She flexed her hand, and a Heartbreak Marker appeared in her hand. “Speaking of which...”
Before Miho could react, Lady had uncapped the Heartbreak Marker, drawn the symbol, and shot it Pochi.
He let out a shrill, fast cry as it struck his forehead, pulsated once and enveloped him in dark purple light.
”Pochi!” Miho shrieked.
Before her eyes, the light flashed, and Pochi's form grew fifteen feet tall and mutated. He was still canine, but more monstrous – black flames flaring all along his spine and tail, sharp claws digging into the sidewalk and breaking it apart, fangs that protruded past his lips and went beyond his muzzle, and, as Miho saw when he briefly whipped his head around to look back at her, soulless red eyes with no pupils.
“P-Pochi...” Miho whispered.
“My, my...” Lady exclaimed softly, approaching Pochi and guiding his head back towards her. She smiled sweetly at him as if she were dealing with an adorable kitten and not a monstrous dog. “What an adorable Usotsuki...”
“A-Adorable?!” Miho yelled back. “This is not adorable! Look what you've done to Pochi!” She pointed at him as she spoke, her hand trembling a bit. “You're hurting him!”
It was true. Pochi was still growling, yes, but there were whimpers beneath that. He was trembling faintly, as if in pain but trying to suppress it. He was turning his head a bit, trying to get out of Lady's grasp but unable to.
“Hm?” Lady murmured, brows furrowing in concern. “What's this? He doesn't seem to be attacking...How very strange, most of the Usotsuki begin attacking immediately – even Shylock's ferret-Usotsuki made a token effort.”
“Let go of him! Change him back!” Miho screamed.
“I wonder if something went wrong when I created him? Ah, but that can't be...” Lady murmured, ignorant of Miho's cries and the way Pochi was whimpering in agony. “I used only the freshest bit of heartbreak and despair in my supply...”
After a particularly loud whimper, Miho yelled again, tears collecting in the corners of her eyes. ”Let him go!”
“Pretty Cure, Love's Song! The steadfast love in a maiden's heart, Cure Portia!”
Portia charged forward, fist ready--
--and shot right past Pochi, driving her punch into Lady's wrist.
Lady stumbled back, one hand lightly rubbing the injured spot, but aside from that she displayed no outward signs of pain. “Oh my,” she tutted. “You'd attack me?” She lifted her head a bit, her smile growing a bit colder. “So you do recognize the enemy, then. That's good, I was a bit worried, all you ever did was attack the Usotsuki instead of aiming for one of us.”
“Yeah, sure, we'd totally aim for the person who's just standing around and not the monster trying to destroy something!” Portia shot back, running forward and trying to kick Lady's shoulder.
Lady effortlessly caught her by the ankle, stopping the attack. She smiled still, serene as Portia tried to push her back and land a hit. “The last Cure did not like to attack us either... I was a tad worried; I thought, 'What if the legendary warriors can't stand to actually fight back?'” She casually tossed Portia's leg away, stepping backwards as Portia scrambled to regain her balance and charged towards her again with an angry roar. Lady simply gathered her skirts and took several steps to the side.
Portia ran for her again, Pochi's shivering and whimpering form in the background only fueling her rage. She tried to delivery a flurry of punches and kicks at Lady, but Lady just continued to step aside, moving in a wide circle and speaking as if they were chatting about the weather.
“Not that it'd be a problem if you couldn't attack us, it would make our job so much more easier. But, it's not exactly sporting, wouldn't you agree, my dear? And I was honestly afraid you didn't have your priorities in order...But it appears that I was wrong, and I'm honestly quite delighted by this! So go ahead, my dear, keep trying to attack me!” Lady said with a smile.
Portia shrieked and ran for Lady again, not noticing until Lady teleported out of the way just where she was. She gasped, skidding to a stop, her fist just centimeters away from Pochi's nose. “Pochi--! Kyah!” she shrieked as Lady kicked her in the back, sending her against Pochi's snout.
Pochi growled loudly, then roared, the force of the expelled oxygen sending Portia flying backwards. She brought her arms up to shield her face, leaning forward against the wind as her heels dug into the road. When she finally stopped, she lowered her arms, staring wide-eyed at what had once been her dog. “Pochi...”
“Hm...but you know,” Lady said conversationally, checking a pocket watch she'd pulled from nowhere. “I would dearly love to continue our battle, or stay to see how you fare against my failed experiment...But I'm afraid I'm running behind schedule. If you'll excuse me, we must continue this another time. My apologies.”
“Wait, you can't--!”
“Goodbye,” Lady said with a curtsy, and then she teleported away.
Portia didn't notice or care. All she could focus on was... “Pochi!” she screamed, running towards him. She slowed to a stop just in front of him, her hands held up in a placating manner as she looked at him in horror and despair. “Pochi...”
Pochi whimpered as he looked at her. His eyes were still blood-red with no pupils, Portia could see her reflection in them, but his brows were lowered. His brows were slanted downward, his body heaving, breathing ragged between whimpers.
“Oh, Pochi...I'm so sorry...” Portia whispered, choking back a sob. She reached a little more, resting her palm on his large, wet nose. “I should have gotten you away from her the minute I saw her, I should have gotten in the way instead, I should have...”
The dog-Usotsuki whuffed, ruffling Portia's hair and skirt. He gazed back at her, looking as if he wanted to cry but was unable to do so.
“I'm sorry...” Portia choked on her sobs. “I'm so sorry, I don't know how I can--” But that wasn't true. There was a way. Portia's free hand curled over the brooch on her chest.
...There was a way, but she wished it wasn't so.
“Pochi...” she sobbed, eyes closing, a few tears trickling down her cheeks. She tensed up, gasping quietly as Pochi lifted his large head and gently licked her cheek with the slightest touch of his tongue. It's okay, Miho... Portia sobbed again, opening her eyes. Though she was still crying, there was a small, soft smile on her face. “Pochi...Pochi, I love you...No matter what, I'll...”
Pochi looked at her still, but the sad and scared look had been replaced by gentle understanding, relief, and trust.
Portia's breath caught again. “No matter what, Pochi...I'll always, always, always love you.” Gently, she leaned forward to kiss his nose, then stepped back, wiping her eyes with a fingertip.
”Sound of the Bells! Chest of Revelation! Pretty Cure Bronze Truth Shoot!”
The glowing heart hit Pochi in the forehead, the soft glow enveloping his body as he closed his eyes.
Portia fell to her knees, unable to watch him disintegrate. Her eyes closed as she began to softly cry – she knew when it was over, she could see the faint light and glimmer behind her eyelids, indicating any damage done to the area had been reversed.
But who cared about that? Pochi was gone...
“I'm sorry,” she whispered, sobbing faintly. “I'm...so...sorry.”
Something licked her face.
Portia gasped and lifted her head, eyes snapping open. Staring right at her was a normal Doberman, happily wagging his tail and panting. A familiar collar and leash was around his neck...
“Pochi?” she whispered.
The Doberman barked.
Portia's eyes teared up again, far more than before, and her expression broke out into a quivering, but large, smile. ”Pochi!” she shrieked, opening her arms.
The dog leaped onto her, knocking her down and licking her face as Portia laughed between her sobs.
How it happened didn't matter. Pochi was still here! He was alright!
“Ehhhh, he looks a little different...” Hiromi mumbled later that day.
The trio stood in Miho's backyard, watching as Miho bathed Pochi in a kiddie pool. He was behaving beautifully, not moving or making a fuss as Miho gently ran the hose over his spine to wash off the soap.
“Well, it's like I told Nana,” she said with a broad smile. “A bath, some food and water, and he'd be fine. Pochi just needed some TLC.”
Pochi barked, as if in agreement.
Aki laughed and scratched the dog under the chin. “He does look pretty handsome now,” she admitted.
“He won't get in the way of Pretty Cure, will he?”
“Shouldn't,” Miho said. “I've explained it to Pochi, and he understands that sometimes I'm gonna have to kick some butt. I'll always be home in time to feed him, and take him for his morning walks.”
The others glanced at each other. “You...explained it, datchu?” Ti asked.
“Sure did!” Miho smiled softly, scratching Pochi's ears and offering him a spoonful of the peanut butter she'd brought out with her. “Pochi understands more than you might think...”
”Shylock! Shylock, look!”
“What is it?” Shylock jogged over to Cure Ariel, looking to where her own gaze was directed. “Oh...it's a bird.”
A baby bird was resting in the grass, peeping miserably and trying to flap its feeble wings.
Ariel bit her lower lip. “The poor thing...it must have fallen out of its nest.” She stood up and looked around. “Aha!” She smiled as she saw a next up in a nearby tree, a mother bird looking around with a worried expression in her eyes. “There! That must be--”
A dark blur shot past her, making her blink in surprise. “The nest...?”
Before she knew it, Shylock was climbing up the tree, the baby bird sitting inside his scarf contentedly.
As he drew nearer, the mother bird chirped loudly and began flapping her wings in alarm.
“Shhh, it's okay,” he muttered as he stopped in front of the nest. Gently and slowly, he reached into his scarf and pulled out the baby bird. He held it out to its mother to show her it was unharmed, then gently deposited it into the nest. As the mother bird began chirping again and nuzzling at her baby, Shylock smiled gently. “There.”
He climbed back down and approached Ariel, who just stood there staring. Shylock looked a little uncomfortable, tugging on his scarf a bit. “What is it?” he asked.
Ariel began chuckling, hiding her smile behind her hand.
“Nothing. I just didn't expect you to be so good with animals, Shylock!”
Shylock turned red and averted his gaze. “I've always wanted a pet...” he muttered. “But Lady and Riche would never forgive me.” He looked back at Ariel. “Is that weird?” he asked. “Someone like me liking small animals like that?”
“Of course not!” Ariel smiled. “It's adorable. Listen, if you want a pet, someday I'll get you one, okay? A bird!”
“You really don't have to--”
“Please?” Ariel clasped his hands, smiling brightly at him. “When we live together. We'll have any pet you like.”
Shylock blinked, then turned red again as he grasped her full implications. Finally, he nodded. “A-Alright...” he whispered.
ED: "Hummingbird" - Mana Ogawa
ON THE NEXT EPISODE:
Hiromi: “I can't take this anymore!”
Aki: “I haven't even done anything wrong!”
Miho: “G-Guys, what's going on?”
Hiromi: “Well...well, fine! If you can't see this, then--”
Miho: “G-Guys?! Next time on Pretty Cure Entwined Hearts: 'Are We Breaking Up? Our Love Story Can't End This Fast!' Let love heal your heart!"