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Author Topic: Sinking Ships (Chapter 3: Everybody's Talkin' Dec. 6)  (Read 3938 times)

Offline Mucca

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Sinking Ships (Chapter 3: Everybody's Talkin' Dec. 6)
« on: October 13, 2014, 05:10:03 AM »
Blame Estrea for this. She forced me to write it, then forced me to post it.  :nervous


---------------------

Sinking Ships - Chapter 1: Hitorihoriho No More?

"Haru-chan, what is this?"

The voice asking was bright and upbeat; the question was not. Riho Sayashi stood in the middle of a messy hotel room; clothes and takeout food containers were spread throughout the room. She was holding up a small paper which, on further inspection, was a photograph of two people - two girls - taken at a purikura booth.

Stretched out on the nearby sofa, wearing a Morning Musume '14 tour shirt and a pair of grey sweatpants, was the one Riho was directing her pointed query toward. With her lanky frame and shaggy mop of hair atop her head, Haruka Kudo was often mistaken for a boy, which was something she didn't necessarily dislike. Haruka was also known amongst her colleagues in Morning Musume for having a wandering eye when it came to attractive women.

Taking a moment to brush some stray bangs aside, Haruka opened one eye and looked at Riho. Once she saw what Riho was talking about, her other eye shot open and Haruka quickly sat up. "That's-"

"Wada-san," Riho finished, referring to the beautiful leader of S/mileage. "It's you and Wada-san." Studying the picture further, Riho squinted. "You two sure do look happy," she noted. Pushing her hair behind her ear, Riho eyed the tomboy on the couch. "Is that where you went after the concert yesterday?"

Her face quickly reddening, Haruka sprung to her feet. "It-it's not like that!" Kudo's normally husky voice cracked like that of a pubescent boy; Riho usually found it cute when Haruka's voice did that, but not so much this time.

"I thought you said you and Wada-san were over after Lilium," stated Riho, her voice eerily calm. "Sure doesn't seem to be the case." She shook her head. "I can't imagine what Iikubo-san will think of this; remember how torn up she was while the musical was going on!"

"I'm allowed to have friends!" retorted Kudo, stepping toward Riho.

Riho waved the purikura around. "This looks to be a little more than friends."

"Oh, like you and Fukumura-san?"

Riho stopped and glared at Kudo. "That's...different."

"Yeah. I don't molest Wada-san in public."

As soon as the words left her mouth, Haruka knew she had screwed up. "Wait..." she began, starting to wrap her arms around Riho, hoping to defuse the situation before it spiraled out of control.

The agile ace of Morning Musume was too quick for the would-be lothario, however, and slipped away from Kudo's grasp. Riho quickly made her way to the door, slipped on her shoes and an overcoat, and left the hotel room. Deftly avoiding managers and other members alike, Riho stealthily made her way to the ground floor and, from there, out of the hotel. Outside the sun had already set, but there were still a large number of pedestrians lining the street. Stuffing her hands into her pockets, Riho did her best to disappear into the crowd of anonymous people, occasionally looking back to make sure she wasn't being followed by Haruka, who was pretty athletic (and could probably catch up to Riho quickly without much effort).

Riho eventually ducked down a series of side streets and alleyways; despite the haste in which she left the hotel, an outside observer would note that she now seemed to have a set destination in mind. After several more minutes of walking, Riho spied that which she was seeking: a sign indicating a coffee shop of no particular notoriety. Increasing her pace - and checking once more to make sure no one was following her - Riho ducked into the cafe.

Once inside, the young pop star scanned the immediate area, seemingly looking for someone in particular. Riho was about to give up when she saw the one she sought: in a corner booth sat an elegant young woman with long, flowing brown locks. Sipping a cup of tea, the young woman seemed far too refined and upper class to be seated in a mere coffee bar. Yet there she was, drinking tea all alone, emanating a quiet aura of affluence and dignity as she did so.

Smiling, Riho swiftly made her way over to the young beauty sitting all by herself. As she saw Riho approach, the young woman gave a small smile and waved.

Riho made her way to the booth and sat across from the girl, setting her bag down at her side.

"Fuku-chan!" Riho exclaimed happily, rubbing the other girl's forearms.

Mizuki Fukumura was Riho's generation mate in Morning Musume, though she was slightly older than Riho. Mizuki - Fuku-chan to her friends - came from a wealthy family, and her lack of common sense about certain things was a source of amusement to fans and Morning Musume members alike. Riho looked up to Mizuki as a senpai, and perhaps more -- she loved rubbing Mizuki's arms, for example.

"I was wondering if you were coming," Mizuki said clearly, yet shyly. One of the criticisms concering Mizuki as a pop star was that her public persona was too reserved and shy; these traits often showed themselves in her private dealings as well. "Mizuki was afraid you'd forgotten."

Riho stopped rubbing Mizuki's arm and grasped her hand. "Don't be silly!" she said, grinning. "When have I ever forgotten anything?"

The corners of Mizuki's mouth curled upward. "I can think of plenty of times you've forgotten things," she giggled, using her free hand to cover her mouth.

Waving a hand dismissively, Riho shook her head. "Only my bag. And my phone. And..." She shrugged. "Okay. But I've never forgotten to meet you!"

"So what kept you?" Mizuki asked, rather pointedly.

Riho shifted in her seat uncomfortably. "Well..." she began hesitantly. "Haruka and I...we...well, we sorta had a fight."

Mizuki raised an eyebrow. "You...you told her?" she asked, her voice rising slightly. "About us?"

Sighing, Riho avoided looking directly across the table. "Not...exactly," she confessed. "It was...something else."

"Oh." Mizuki's eyes darted away as her shoulders dropped.

"But I will!" Riho exclaimed, clasping both of Mizuki's hands in her own. "I promise!"

Before either girl could say anything further, however, Riho's phone buzzed, signaling an incoming text message. Letting go of Mizuki's hands, Riho fished around in her bag for the device. Within seconds she had it in her hand, and was checking the message in silence.

As Riho occupied herself with her phone, Mizuki spoke up. "Who is it from?" she asked, her voice hesitant.

Riho looked up from her phone. "It's from my manager-san," she explained. "About extra dance lessons."

"For you?" Mizuki asked in surprise. "You hardly need them."

Shrugging, Riho looked back down at her phone. "If I don't keep honing my skills, they'll wither. I need to stay sharp, especially so I don't mess up our routines."

"You're so diligent, Riho-chan," sighed Mizuki wistfully. She then grabbed her own phone to toy around with as Riho tended to her business.

Looking at her own phone, Riho's eyes once again scanned over the text message on the screen before her. Swallowing hard, her heart skipped a beat as she read the lines once more.

"Riho-chan,

I'll be back in my hotel room after 9:30. Would you care to join me? We could practise our dance moves...

Love,

Ayumin."


Swallowing hard again, Riho's fingers trembled slightly as she replied to Ayumi Ishida's text in the affirmative.


---------------------


Apologies for any misspellings/grammatical errors; it was written in a rush over two days. More to come at some point, since Essy demands it. She's a harsh mistress.  :cry:

« Last Edit: December 07, 2014, 04:07:01 AM by Mucca »

Offline Estrea

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Re: Sinking Ships (Chapter 1: Hitorihoriho No More? Oct. 12)
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2014, 05:16:21 AM »
Muahahahaha. You need to continue, my minion!

*rubs hands gleefully at the trainwreck to come*

永遠に咲き続ける花なんていない、すべてはいずれ枯れて朽ち果てしまう。

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Offline Yuuyami

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Re: Sinking Ships (Chapter 1: Hitorihoriho No More? Oct. 12)
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2014, 06:18:39 AM »
Holy crap what an intense situation xDDDD

DOES OUR LITTLE RIHORIHO HAVE A HAREEEEEEM???? : D

Can't wait to see how this ace manages her flags uhehuehueheuheeuh

Offline XxRoByNxX78

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Re: Sinking Ships (Chapter 1: Hitorihoriho No More? Oct. 12)
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2014, 10:09:09 PM »
Is our little RihoRiho a player!? Please update soon!

Offline kuro_808

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Re: Sinking Ships (Chapter 1: Hitorihoriho No More? Oct. 12)
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2014, 04:05:30 AM »
Frickin Riho, I would only imagine how much more intense it could get  :lol:

Poor Duu trying to protect her interests and using her gun :lol:
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Offline Mucca

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Re: Sinking Ships (Chapter 1: Hitorihoriho No More? Oct. 12)
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2014, 03:23:43 AM »
Thanks to all that commented! Honestly, I was expecting (hoping?) this to die a quick death, since then maybe Essy would stop prodding me to write. :lol:

Essy-sama: This is all your fault! I hope you're happy. :P

Yuuyami: Yup! Little RihoRiho has a harem...and it's going to get bigger! Hohohohoho

Robyn: Hope this update is quick enough for you! I can't guarantee they'll all come this quickly, though... :lol:

Kuro: Let's just say it's gonna get a lot worse before it gets better...if it gets better...

Anyway, without further delay...

Offline Mucca

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Re: Sinking Ships (Chapter 2: Jump Into The Fire Oct. 19)
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2014, 03:26:40 AM »
Sinking Ships - Chapter 2: Jump Into The Fire

The door to the dance rehearsal space opened up, and two black-haired young women - one with her bangs combed forward, the other with her bangs pulled back, exposing her forehead - appeared in the hallway.

"Th-thank you so much for your help, Sayashi-san!"

Riho held the girl's hand. "I told you, Sakura, call me Riho." The older girl grinned. "Especially when we're alone."

Sakura Oda, the vocal ace of Morning Musume, blushed and looked away. "Y-yes, Saya-I mean, Riho-chan."

Letting out a giggle, Riho released her grip on Sakura's hand, then patted the younger girl's head. "You're so cute when you're shy," she proclaimed, smiling broadly.

Still unable to meet Riho's gaze, Sakura nodded her head quickly. "Y-yes..." Now completely flustered, Sakura quickly disappeared back into the dance rehearsal space, closing the door behind her.

Alone in the hall, Riho allowed herself a brief smug smile before walking away. As the young ace walked along, the hallway opened up into an atrium; sitting on a nearby bench eating rice balls was Kanon Suzuki, aka Zukki, aka the closest thing Riho had to a best friend in Morning Musume. Kanon was often made the butt of jokes for being chubbier than the rest of her group mates, but she took it all with her trademark good humour.

Kanon smiled broadly when she saw her friend approach. "Riho-chan!" she exclaimed happily, putting down her snack.

Sitting down, Riho wrapped her arm around Kanon. "Kanon-chan!" she replied, equally happy. "Your voice lessons are over, I take it?"

Kanon nodded. "Yeah. I have a little time before dance practise, so I came out here for a snack and to people watch." She giggled. "It's amazing who you can see walking around sometimes."

"Really?" asked Riho.

"Yep," nodded Kanon again. "Matsuura-san came by earlier; she was in a rush, but she still stopped to say hello to me."

Riho looked impressed. "I've always heard good things about Matsuura-san."

"Oh!" Kanon exclaimed suddenly, causing Riho to jump slightly. "I forgot; Eripon came by earlier." Eripon was Ikuta Erina, the derpy ikemen of Morning Musume, and a generation-mate of both Riho and Kanon.

Riho's ears perked up. "Oh?" she prompted, trying to not seem too anxious to hear what Kanon was about to say.

"Hmm," nodded Kanon quickly. "She said she tried texting you, but you never replied, so she asked me to relay the message." A sideways glance. "I'm guessing you forgot your phone at home again?"

Blushing, Riho nodded her head slightly. "Yeah. Everything I was supposed to put in my bag, in fact." Smiling sheepishly, she added, "I remembered the bag, though!"

Shaking her head, Kanon allowed herself a smile. "Anyway, Eripon she said she was really looking forward to going to the movies with you tonight." A beat. "She seemed really excited."

Grinning from ear to ear, Riho couldn't contain her glee. "I'm really excited, too! Like, Eripon is always hanging out with Fuku-chan and Niigaki-san, so I was so surprised when she mentioned she wanted to hang out with me!" She was talking a mile a minute.

"...Ayumi-chan also stopped and said to thank you for a wonderful time last night." Kanon added. "Then Fuku-chan and Haruka-chan each came by, wondering where you were last night."

Riho froze. "Not...all at the same time, I hope?" she squeaked.

Kanon was silent for a moment, letting the awkwardness hang in the air, before letting out a belly laugh. "No!" she finally answered. "Lucky for you, though!"

Riho exhaled loudly and smacked Kanon's bicep, causing the larger girl to laugh even harder. "Don't do that!"

"Sorry!" Kanon apologized, still giggling. "I wanted to see how you'd react."

Shrinking in her seat, Riho wore an expression of both relief and exhaustion.

"Oh, and Akari-chan from Juice=Juice came by too, saying she'd love to hang out with you when your schedule permits." A pause. "You know, Riho-chan...I'm not sure it's such a good idea, juggling all these dates-"

Raising a hand to silence her friend, Riho shook her head. "It's all right," she said flatly. "It's not like I'm married to any of them. It's just for fun."

Arching an eyebrow, Kanon gave a sideways glance to the girl next to her. "Perhaps to you, but they all have feelings, too. And I'm pretty sure none of them will like it when they all find out you've been...what? Four-timing? Five-timing?" She bit her lip and looked to be thinking of something. "What would you call it?" she wondered aloud.

"I don't see what the big deal is!" complained Riho. "Look at Fuku-chan. She goes out with me, and Eripon, and Take-chan from S/mileage, and no one cares!"

"Because they're not actually dating," Kanon pointed out. "That's why everyone was so mad at Duu during Lilium; Wada-san and Harunan are dating, so Duu was seen as...well...like a homewrecker, so to speak." She narrowed her eyes as she looked at Riho. "And it seems like everyone thinks they're exclusively dating you in this situation, so if it comes out that you're going out with four or five girls at once, well..." Her voice trailed off.

"But I'm not 'dating' anyone," Riho pointed out. "That would be against the rules of the company!"

Kanon rolled her eyes and sighed loudly. "Of course!" she said sarcastically. "How could I forget?"

"...And if we want to talk about the one person who pervs on everyone the most, it's...Michishige-san! Eep!" Riho squeaked.

"Well, sure," Kanon snorted derisively. She looked to her side to say something else, but Riho was suddenly not there! "Riho?" she queried, looking all around, to no avail. However, the young woman did see something, or rather someone down the hallway: Michishige Sayumi, the glamorous and beautiful leader of Morning Musume - and, indeed, all of Hello! Project - was walking in her direction.

Stopping in front of Kanon, Sayumi brushed her luxurious locks of black hair behind her shoulders, and smiled. "Kanon-chan," she cooed sweetly, every word smothered in honey, "have you seen my dearest RihoRiho?"

Stumped for an answer, Kanon sat there with her mouth agape. "I, uh, erm..." she stammered.

"Well?" Sayumi prompted, her eyes narrowing to slits. "It's not a difficult question."

"Ah, erm, you see..." Kanon struggled to find the correct answer. "I mean, she was here but...I...don't...know...where...she...is...now?"

Frowning, Sayumi crossed her arms in disappointment. "I see," she said, her honeyed tone suddenly turning icy. "Well, if you see her, tell her Sayumi has pressing business with her that must be seen to." With that, Sayumi sharply turned and walked away, grumbling to herself. Kanon could have swore she heard the words "upskirt" and "RihoRiho's thighs" muttered in there somewhere, but couldn't be sure.

"That was close!"

"Eh?" Kanon bent down and looked under the bench - and was stunned to see Riho's head poking out! "R-Riho-chan?" she stammered.

"She's gone, right?" Riho inquired. Her nose twitched, which reminded Kanon of a frightened, hunted bunny. This struck Kanon as funny - a bunny hunting down another bunny! - so she let out a small giggle.

"Glad this is all so amusing to you, Kanon-chan." Pulling herself out from underneath the bench, Riho sat back down next to Kanon and brushed herself off.

Shaking her head, Kanon tried suppressing her laughter. "It's not that," sheh said between giggles. "It's just...never mind."

"You think I'm bad?" Riho moaned, ignoring Kanon's giggle fit. "Try having Michishige-san stalk you everywhere you go." She shook her head. "She's relentless."

Kanon chuckled. "Michishige-san has always been like that, though; you know that. Ever since we joined, you've been her special pet."

Rolling her eyes, Riho sighed. "Yeah, and she's worse now, if that's possible."

After checking her phone, Kanon started to pack her snack away. "While this has been fun, I should probably be going," she told Riho. "It's almost time for my lesson."

"Okay," Riho yawned, then grinned. "I've gotta get ready for my date with Eripon tonight!"

"Good luck," Kanon deadpanned. "You're gonna need it."


* * *


That evening, after the late movie at a theatre not too far from the Up Front offices, among the throng of people leaving the theatre were two young women wearing surgical masks and baseball caps to conceal their identities. One had long black hair peeking out from underneat the back of her cap, while the other had shorter, spiky, bronzed hair. It was Riho and Erina, of course. They were chatting and giggling with each other, seemingly oblivious to the world around them. Their arms were also linked together.

"...Why in the world did you choose that movie, Eripon?" laughed Riho.

Suddenly shy, Erina blushed. "I dunno...I thought you would like it!"

Riho grinned devilishly. "You sure it's not because Niigaki-san had a small role in it?"

Erina's eyes widened. "No! No, of course not!" she stammered. As Riho started laughing uproariously, Erina punched her in the arm.

"Hey!" groused Riho, rubbing her arm with her free hand. "Ow. Those arms of yours should be registered as lethal weapons."

In response, Erina laughed and flexed her bicep in an exaggerated manner. Then, as if she'd just thought of something, she grabbed Riho's arm with both hands and dragged the helpless girl in front of a well-lit storefront. From there she pulled out her phone. "Smile!" Ikuta commanded to Riho, holding her phone in the air with one hand while simulatenously putting up a peace sign with the other. Before she could protest, Riho found herself also putting up a (half-hearted) peace sign as Erina took a picture with her phone.

After the picture was taken, Riho turned away momentarily to gaze at the storefront she and Erina were standing before. As she did that, Erina quickly found the snapshot amongst her picture, and pulled up her contacts list. Catching a glance at Riho to make sure she wasn't paying attention, Erina quickly drafted a text message and added the just-taken photo as an attachment.

"Ishida!

OI! LOOK WHO I AM ON A DATE WITH! ARE YOU JELLY?

Love,

Eripon."


"Kekekekeke," Erina giggled to herself as the text was sent.


-----------------------------


The plot thickens! Hohohohohohoho

Offline kuro_808

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Re: Sinking Ships (Chapter 2: Jump Into The Fire Oct. 19)
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2014, 03:37:12 AM »
Wow do we have more kindling for this :lol:

I'm going to say Zukki being the voice of reason is awesome and hopefully she'll help Riho with her issues of controlling the harem before it bursts into a big bonfire XD
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Offline Estrea

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Re: Sinking Ships (Chapter 2: Jump Into The Fire Oct. 19)
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2014, 07:03:36 AM »
Well minion, you have earned yourself a dark side chocolate chip dino cookie! It's dark chocolate (because white chocolate is not real chocolate, dammit).

Thank you for adding the hunted bunny line. :P And I'm glad Kanon is the rock on which Riho gets to rest from all her dates. lmao. Can't wait to see the shit hitting the fan from Ayumi finding out -- even better because Eripon accused Ayumi of acting like a jealous girlfriend when they discussed the movie incident on All Night Nippon, because YES, THIS WAS ACTUALLY A THING.

Long story short:
- Eripon was supposed to go watch Maleficent with Ayumi
- Eripon ends up going with Riho
- Eripon says Riho said that Ayumi wasn't coming
- Ayumi says Riho never told her about it
- Riho says that Eripon just rang her on the morning of the movie to ask if she was free, so she didn't know Ayumi was involved at all

The truth is...where? XD

Anyway, minion, keep up the good work and you'll earn another digital cookie. XD

永遠に咲き続ける花なんていない、すべてはいずれ枯れて朽ち果てしまう。

Currently writing:
- Lilium-related things. God save my soul.

On Hold:
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I'm also on AO3!
http://archiveofourown.org/users/Estrea

Offline cmze

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Re: Sinking Ships (Chapter 2: Jump Into The Fire Oct. 19)
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2014, 02:51:36 PM »
I wonder who will win Riho's heart  :lol:

Offline cornyflakes

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Re: Sinking Ships (Chapter 2: Jump Into The Fire Oct. 19)
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2014, 02:37:15 AM »
This fic, I like it... Another!

Seriously though, I created an account just to post on this thread.

So you better don't disappoint. Lol j/k :p

Offline Mucca

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Re: Sinking Ships (Chapter 2: Jump Into The Fire Oct. 19)
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2014, 04:06:31 AM »
So, it's been a while! Dang writer's block. Thankfully, Essy didn't have to get the cattle prod out...yet.

kuro: Don't worry. The kindling is soon going to burst into flames. :lol:
Essy-sama: Yaaay, cookies! Nom nom nom. I hope I can keep not failing to meet your expectations. :P
cmze: Your question will be answered soon...just not in this chapter. :D Thanks for reading!
cornyflakes: I must say that I'm honored (and bewildered) that someone would make an account to comment on my story! Thank you so very much! I hope I continue to not disappoint. :D

With all that being said...

Offline Mucca

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Re: Sinking Ships (Chapter 3: Everybody's Talkin' Dec. 6)
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2014, 04:10:16 AM »
Sinking Ships - Chapter 3: Everybody's Talkin'

In a currently unused practice room inside the Up Front offices, six girls - all between the ages of 14 and 17, and all wearing relaxing clothing they had just practised dance in - were seated on the wood floor in a loose semi-circle. At the head of the circle sat a young woman wearing black sweatpants and a pink t-shirt; her long, sweat-soaked hair clung to her forehead, neck and shoulders. Though she tended to be reserved in most situations, here she was the eldest person present, and thus took on the unofficial role of the head of the informal meeting.

"All right," Fukumura Mizuki sighed, shifting her weight to her left side. "We all know why were here..." Her voice trailed off. "Wait...why are we here, exactly?"

After Erina had bragged to Ayumi about her movie date with Riho the previous evening, a furious texting frenzy ended up taking place between various members of Morning Musume '14 in an attempt to get a clearer read on the situation. For obvious reasons, Riho was left out of the loop, as were Sayumi and Kanon (the former because of her own claim on Riho, the latter because it was assumed Riho and Kanon were simply friends, not dating). Therefore, after that morning's dance practise, an informal meeting was called by Erina and Ayumi to discuss "The Riho Situation." Finding a way to extract themselves from the rest of their group-mates, the six girls retired to an empty room and began.

"Our purpose today," Erina noted in a hushed tone of voice, "is information gathering."

Ayumi nodded. "We're gonna find out what each of us knows about Riho and her...after work activities."

"I know you know what you know, but you should know by now that you're not me!" Masaki laughed, slapping her knee.

Rolling her eyes, Ayumi continued. "We're gonna get to the bottom of who exactly Riho is seeing, and try to figure out how each of us figures into it."

"Have you seen her dressed in blue?" Masaki giggled, spinning around on her butt. "See the sky in Ayuyu!"

"Quiet, Maa-chan!" Haruka reprimanded her friend.

Masaki frowned and sat on her hands. "Sorry, Duu."

"Wait. Why is Sato even here?" Erina pointed out. "I've never even seen or heard of her hanging out with Riho. How did she even know to come here after practise?" She pointed at Ayumi. "Did you tell her?" Ayumi shook her head in reply.

"Sakura?" Erina then asked.

"Not me."

Ikuta was stumped. "Fuku-chan?" she inquired.

Another negative.

"Kudo?"

"Haru didn't say anything to Maa-chan."

Everyone threw inquisitive glances at Masaki, who in turn merely shugged. "I was bored! And Duu was going somewhere special, so Masaki thought maybe Duu was going somewhere fun!" she said, smiling sheepisly. "So I followed Duu."

"Gah," Erina grunted.

"Well, there's nothing we can do about it now," Mizuki pointed out. "No sense in worrying about it."


* * *


Riho was walking by herself in the hallway, busy checking her phone, when she suddenly heard a loud WHUMP come from somewhere nearby. Reacting with surprise, the young woman looked around quickly, wondering where the noise had come from. Soon she found herself in front of a random storage closet; noticing the door to the closet was slightly ajar, Riho took it upon herself to open it. Putting her phone away, she carefully grabbed the door handle and slowly pulled the door toward her, slightly afraid of what she might find. However, nothing could have prepared her for the sight that did greet her upon opening the door fully.

In the middle of the storage closet, among various cables, crates, and other miscellaneous items, was a young woman standing over a burlap sack. That was strange enough, but then Riho realized that there was another young woman in the sack! Shaking her head, Riho looked again. Sure enough, in the sack was sitting a young woman with short black hair - Riho recognized her as Karin Miyamoto, from Juice=Juice. Looking up, Riho then noticed that the woman standing over the sack was none other than the Rose Quartz herself, Tomoko Kanazawa, aka Kanatomo.

Kanatomo was known around Hello! Project for her tyrant character, and especially for her playful (?) abuse of her fellow Juice=Juice members, but especially Miyamoto. As she took all this in, certain things began to dawn on Riho. This was...

"Riho-chan!" Karin squealed happily. Then, noticing Riho's expression, she added, "Oh! Don't worry! I asked Tomoko-sama to do this!"

Kanazawa smiled shyly as her eyes looked down to the floor. "She actually paid me to do it," she added quietly, a touch of embarrassment evident in her voice.

Riho nodded, yet said nothing. A gape-mouthed grin covered her face, and she quickly - and wordlessly - backed out of the closet, making sure to close the door behind her. As soon as the door clicked shut, another WHUMP was heard, and the muffled voice of Karin giggled. "Oh, Tomoko-sama...!"

Standing and staring blankly at the door, Riho found a small smile crossing her lips. "I wonder if Fukuchan..." she mumbled to herself, pulling her phone back out. As she began walking back down the hair, her fingers furiously swept across the screen of her smartphone.


* * *


"I think that about does it."

Mizuki stepped back, revealing a white board covered in writing. At the center of the board, written in red marker, was Riho's name. From there, numerous color-coded lines sprung forth in all directions, connecting Riho's name with that of another Hello! Project member (and even some not, if the "Dewi Sukarno?!?!?!" scribble was any indication). Each line had a description written over it - such as "Love?" and "Just friends?" - an as attempt to make sense of the myriad relationships Riho had with the other H!P members.

Ikuta admired the board, her hands on her hips. "That's a lot of people," she said, sounding impressed.

"That's exactly the problem!" Ayumi pouted, folding her arms angrily.

"It's not like this is the gospel truth," Kudo pointed out in her trademark husky voice. "This is all just guesswork."

"Does anybody really know what time it is?" Masaki laughed. "Does anybody really care?"

"Well, there is one way to find out for sure," Erina prompted.

Mizuki shook her head. "We can't confront Riho. Not until we're absolutely sure about all of this." She frowned. "This...might be all a big misunderstanding."

"It must be some kind of mistake!" Sato chipped in.

"So what do we do, then?" Ayumi piped up. "Because this is getting sorted out!" She frowned and glared at the rest of the gathered girls. "I'm not sharing Riho with you guys!"

Ikuta scoffed. "Yeah, right! Like you have any chance of competing with this!" she said, flexing a well-defined bicep.

Ayumi laughed loudly. "Clearly, you haven't seen my abs lately!"

"Pfft. Who hasn't seen your abs?" Erina snapped back. "They're like a third-rate Yajima-san!"

Haruka stepped between the feuding Musume, and shot them each a glare. "We're getting off-track here," she said coolly, her husky voice oozing with confidence. "We can bicker amongst ourselves once we find out exactly what's going on with Riho."

"But how do we do that?" complained Sakura.

"I think I know," Ikuta said, smiling. She traced her finger along on a line on the white board that led to the name "Suzuki Kanon." The line that led to Kanon's name was labeled "Best Friend."

"Zukki," nodded Kudo.

"Riho does seem to confide in Kanon-chan quite a bit," confirmed Mizuki softly.

"Perhaps she confides to Kanon about her love life, too," added Erina.

After exchanging glances with the other girls, Ayumi spoke up. "Well then, I think it's clear what our next course of action is."

"WE MUST KILL ZUKKI!" Masaki erupted suddenly, jumping to her feet and thrusting her fist in the air.

"What? NO!" Haruka cuffed Masaki on the back of the head. "Knock it off, Maa-chan. We're not going to kill Zukki!"

"God no," Erina muttered, lightly scratching her cheekbone. "We just have to get her in here...see what she knows."

"But how are we going to convince her to come here without arousing her suspicions?" Mizuki asked fearfully. "Or without her warning Riho?"


* * *


Riho looked at her phone and frowned. Eripon wasn't replying to texts, either! With some time yet before her next lesson, Riho was feeling a little lonely...and frisky, admittedly.  Normally, she considered the office off-limits for romantic pursuits, but she had been feeling keyed-up ever since dance practice ended earlier - now Riho felt the need to expend some of that pent-up energy. Looking back at her phone again, her eyes narrowed in suspicion.

...Where was everyone?


* * *

"Oh, Tomoko-sama!" cried a voice, which was followed by the crack of a whip.

Kanon stopped walking; it sounded like the cry had come from a nearby storage closet. Glancing sideways at the closet door, Zukki briefly contemplated satisfying her curiosity before thinking better of it. Shaking her head, she resumed walking down the hallway. Before long, Kanon could see a figure coming her way; the person seemed to be trying (and largely failing) to keep to the shadows, as though they didn't want Kanon to see them. Before long, the figure gave up trying to hide and soon Zukki was standing face-to-face with Masaki.

"Maa-chan?" prompted Kanon. "What's going on?"

Masaki closed in on Kanon and looked her in the eye, so close that their noses were almost touching. "Have you seen the lady pharoah?"

For her part, Kanon looked absolutely perplexed. "What?"

Masaki frowned. "Her face is like a sail? Spreading white, so fair and pale?"

Kanon's opened her mouth to say something, but could only sputter, "What?"

Stomping her foot, Masaki roared, "YASUSHI-SAN!"

Recoiling in surprise, Kanon finally got it. "Have I seen Riho?" she asked. "No, not since practise this morning-AAAAAH!" Kanon suddenly found herself being scooped up off the floor by the stronger-than-she-looked Sato Masaki. Putting Kanon over her shoulder, Masaki surveyed the area to make sure no one was watching, then sped off back toward the rehearsal room where everyone else was waiting, still wondering where Masaki had gone off to.

Within minutes, Masaki and Kanon were back in the practice space. Kanon was sitting in the center of the room, surrounded by her group-mates. Nobody said anything, they all just stared at Zukki, which made the chubby young girl feel increasingly uncomfortable.

"Okay," Kanon finally spoke up, before the silence became overwhelming. "What's going on here?"

Masaki quickly spoke up. "We skipped a light fandango, and turned cartwheels across the floor!" she said excitedly. "Then the room was humming harder, as the ceiling flew away! We wondered who was in Yasushi-san's tree, whether they were high or low! And although our eyes were open, they might as well have been closed!"

Sighing, Haruka clarified. "What Maa-chan is trying to say is, after dance practise this morning we all gathered in here for a sort-of meeting." She gestured with her hands as she searched for the right words to say. "We're all a little...puzzled by Sayashi-san's recent behaviour."

Gulping, Kanon knew what was coming next. "All of you...you're the ones she...that she's..."

Kudo nodded.

"So you've all found out about each other."

"So you knew?!" Ikuta jumped to her feet and pointed at Kanon. "And you let her lead us on anyway?"

Kanon shrugged helplessly. "What would you have me do?" She looked away from the accusing eyes of her group-mates. "I mean," she added, her voice softening, "I tried telling her this would all end badly."

Mizuki stood forward. "So Riho-chan is aware of what she's doing."

Nodding slowly, Kanon sighed.

"Did she ever explain why?"

"No, not really," admitted Kanon.

"Drat," Ayumi groused, folding her arms across her chest.

Her eyes narrowing, Kanon asked, "So what are you all going to do? About Riho, I mean?"

Fukumura toyed with the ends of her hair and sighed. "All that's left for us to do is confront Riho and ask her why."

"That should go well," grumbled Ikuta.

"We'll just have to figure out the best way to get her in here, and go from there," offered Kudo.

Before anyone else could say anything, there was a knock at the door. "Hello?" called out a familar voice as the door opened. "I heard voices coming from in here and I wanted to see who it was." As the door swung open fully, Riho revealed herself to her friends, a hesitant smile on her lips. Upon seeing who was all gathered in the room, she stopped and laughed nervously. "Oh, hey everyone," she gulped. "I've been wondering where you all are! I've been trying to get a hold of you, but no one was answering their phones."

"Sayashi," Erina stated coldly. "Just the person we were hoping to see."

Riho gulped. Just what had she walked into?

-----------------------------

I hope it was worth the wait! (If everyone hasn't forgotten about this already.)

Offline kuro_808

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Re: Sinking Ships (Chapter 3: Everybody's Talkin' Dec. 6)
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2014, 04:40:55 AM »
The meeting of the wedatedrihoandyouaretoo. Bonfire time!!! Chee hee :3
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Offline cornyflakes

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Re: Sinking Ships (Chapter 3: Everybody's Talkin' Dec. 6)
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2015, 11:23:03 PM »
I expected there to be hair pulling and maybe some name calling but I didn't think the girls would talk it out so casually. I guess you can't just start fights without definite proof but lol the girls are so mature about it... Or would the fighting only start in the next chapter?

Also lol at the Karin/Kanatomo part, pls tell me you've written a more detailed version of it  :nervous.

Offline XxRoByNxX78

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Re: Sinking Ships (Chapter 3: Everybody's Talkin' Dec. 6)
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2015, 11:52:00 PM »
Oh Masaki how you make me laugh. As for the rest I'm looking forward to an update to see just how Riho handles everything considering they have all found out maybe a competition for her love is in order

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