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Author Topic: Heartbeat (20/20) + Partners (23/23) + Destiny (41/41 END) [WMatsui] - REPLIES  (Read 158077 times)

Offline sophcaro

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20 END) + Partners (20/?) [WMatsui] (04/04/16)
« Reply #380 on: April 03, 2016, 11:44:46 PM »
CHAPTER 20



From a corner of the dancing room, Churi observed attentively Jurina who was helping the thirteen kenkyuusei of SKE48 with their dancing moves. It was already quite late this Friday of early March, and all the other SKE members had already left practice half an hour ago. Only SKE’s ace remained, rehearsing with the kenkyuusei the choreography of a couple of SKE songs. Churi had meant to leave at the same time as the other members, but somehow her feet had refused to move at the sight of the surprising energetic rhythm Jurina was imposing the young girls.

Usually, she didn’t pay much attention when Jurina decided to work with the kenkyuusei but today, Jurina was being really bad-tempered, and losing her patience quickly. Her unsettling behavior had even distracted her a few times during her own practice, and it was now beginning to really worry her.

The young Ayuka Kamimura had unfortunately just missed a step, resulting in Jurina raising her voice in clear annoyance. The harsh tone she had employed with the poor sweating girl had immediately alerted Churi. Much as it was not uncommon to hear Jurina reprimanding less experienced members when they made a mistake, the words - although serious - were always spoken on a soft tone and with kindness.

Today, Jurina was definitely crossing a line she had never crossed before. To be honest, Churi felt like she was starting to look awfully like their uncompromising dancing coach. The inflexible woman who wasn’t afraid to make girls rehearse for hours to the point of exhaustion, and not blinking if the harsh treatment made them cry out of physical pain. Churi had gotten used to this characteristic of hers over time, but it was not like Jurina to act this way with others. Today, she was going way too far for her liking.

Churi seriously considered stepping in when she noticed the tears forming in the eyes of the twelve year old girl. Never before that day Churi had felt the need to intervene during one of Jurina’s lessons. In fact, the young ace loved to help younger members. A pleased smile would always plaster her face when her teaching bore fruit. Jurina enjoyed sharing her experience with others. It had always been one of her strong points since she joined SKE48 eight years ago.

However, these last weeks, Churi had witnessed Jurina behaving quite differently during rehearsal. First, she was being harder on herself: always the first to arrive in the dancing room, and the last to leave. Then, the lessons she gave the kenkyuusei were so inflexible they were starting to look like a martial training. Churi knew exactly what had triggered this sudden change in her attitude. Jurina was definitely not in her right mind since she stumbled by complete chance upon Rena’s graduation letter.

“You’re slowing down the others, Ayuka!”

Jurina’s protest echoed loudly in the dancing room, and she ordered all the girls to stop with a rapid movement of her hand. The thirteen girls stilled at once at the sound of her firm voice, their eyes glued to the floor. None of them dared to steal a glance at their improvised teacher. The very unhappy Jurina, who would be turning nineteen in a couple of days.

The poor girl who had been targeted for the second time was doing her best not to cry, but her desperate attempt to control her emotions proved much in vain. Indeed, a few tears soon rolled down her rosy cheeks in silence. Her lips were tightly shut, almost as if she was forcing herself not to let a sound out. Churi knew she couldn’t stand here without doing nothing.

Of course, Jurina was speaking nothing but the truth, and her scolding was legitimate. The now exhausted Ayuka was indeed having difficulties memorizing the moves of this energetic choreography. She was clearly a step behind the others. However, it was not like Jurina to raise her voice, nor to be so harsh with anyone. Churi simply knew she had to intervene.

“Let’s call it a day, alright?” Churi moved forward and stopped the cheerful music of Oki Doki. A heavy silence enveloped the occupants of the room, but none of the young members dared to make a single move. Their eyes were still set on the floor, waiting with obvious apprehension for Jurina’s next orders.

Churi glanced at the latter, conscious that none of the girls would move until Jurina had approved. Her friend may only be eighteen years old, she was very respected by the other members of SKE48. In the absence of any higher authority in the room, she was the one the members would listen and turn to.

Due to their very young age, the kenkyuusei were more impressionable than anyone else. Jurina’s central position within the group clearly had a profound meaning to them. As a result, they respected her even more. And right now, Churi’s words were having little to no effect on them. Only Jurina’s decision mattered. According to the frustrated look Jurina was giving her, she did not seem to appreciate one iota the unexpected interruption. Would she agree with her and let them go? When Jurina was still silent a few seconds later, Churi chose to insist.

“It’s already very late anyway,” Churi affirmed, giving a pointed look to the clock on the wall. Evidently, Jurina wished to continue rehearsal until she was completely satisfied with the result. However, time was not her best ally. It was indeed getting awfully late, and the kenkyuusei were not allowed to practice after a certain time of the day. Jurina was no stranger to that rule. She herself had been subjected to it when she was still a child.

Churi waited expectantly for Jurina’s reaction. She could almost see the gears turning in her head. Almost hear the voices that were telling her to continue with rehearsal. Jurina was currently not satisfied with the kenkyuusei’s progress. That fact was very obvious. And Jurina was never one to give up until she obtained entire satisfaction, whether for herself or for others. Just as Churi was thinking of a way to tip the scales in her favor - an argument that would definitely put an end to Jurina’s hesitation - she saw the latter letting out a small sigh of resignation.

“That’s all for today.” Jurina nodded as she finally addressed the young girls. Her frustration was still present in her voice, but she did not utter another word when the members bowed politely to her, and scattered in the room to gather their things.

It was subtle, but Churi didn’t miss the relief washing over a few girls. She even noticed the small smile the young Ayuka gave her when she passed by her. No words were exchanged, but she could tell the girl was grateful for her interruption. None of the girls currently in the room would ever admit it out loud, but it was obvious they were happy to go home. Jurina’s training had been very tiring on each one of them.

A few minutes later the thirteen girls were gone, leaving the two friends alone in the dancing room. Churi almost flinched when she noticed the disapproving look Jurina was sending her.

“You shouldn’t have ended the lesson,” Jurina complained in displeasure. “There was still time. They could have continued for another hour.”

Albeit slightly taken aback by her somewhat cold tone, Churi didn’t let her friend’s attitude deter her for all that. Her voice was calm when she answered. “They rehearsed for almost three hours. The next showcase involving the kenkyuusei is in two weeks. They’ll be ready on time. Don’t worry.”

Jurina still didn’t like it. The silent look she gave her in reply was enough information. Nonetheless, Churi did not regret her action one moment. Who knew how far Jurina could have gone if she had not interrupted her? How much she could have exhausted the poor girls, and herself along the way?

Churi widened her eyes in surprise when she saw Jurina turning on her heels and approaching the CD player to start the music again. The cheerful music of Oki Doki sounded in the dancing room at once, and Churi understood Jurina had every intention of rehearsing the choreography again. Alone.

Churi let out a despondent sigh at the sign of her relentless stubbornness. Yes, Jurina was a perfectionist. It was definitely not the first time she would find her working on her moves alone until very late. It had happened many, many times over the years. However this time, she guessed her decision was not solely motivated by her will to surpass herself. Jurina was desperately trying to clear her head. To recover from the sorrow Rena had caused when she had broken her heart again. To forget about an event that would occur in four months from now. A date that had been set by SKE’s management a few weeks ago, and that they both cautiously avoided mentioning: Rena’s graduation concert.

“Why don’t we go for a bite?” Churi suggested, her eyes lightening in hope when she gazed at Jurina’s dancing form across the mirror.

“Not hungry,” Jurina replied immediately without exchanging a look with her, focused as ever on her dancing.

Of course you’re not, Churi mused, frustrated by her lack of cooperation. How many times did she witness the young girl skipping a meal these last weeks? Way too many times for her liking. Churi knew perfectly well why Jurina had lost her typical cheerfulness along with her appetite. The news of Rena’s graduation was affecting her tremendously. And she was immerging herself in her work to try and cope with the pain it was causing her.

“Well, I’m starving. Let’s go and eat,” Churi declared. In the intent of making her word final, she walked towards the CD player with determination and stopped the music.

Jurina was going to protest. Churi could foresee it when the music faded and the dancing girl stopped dead in her tracks. Jurina was now staring at her in complete shock, obviously not expecting such a bold move from her. And definitely not pleased by the unwilling interruption. Nevertheless, she didn’t let her time to voice her disapproval, and she quickly continued when the young Matsui opened her mouth to speak. “Let’s go, Jurina.”

Churi didn’t wait for a reply or a reaction. Without further ado, she extracted the CD from the player, and placed it back in its case without glancing back once at the younger girl. Churi could almost feel Jurina’s eyes boring into her back in utter dissatisfaction when she turned on her heels with the CD carefully secured in her hand.

She silently prayed Jurina was not going to insist on staying. Jurina could be really stubborn when she wanted to, and she surely didn’t want to fight with her over that matter. Moreover, she was well aware that she couldn’t force her into following her. At the end of the day, no matter what anyone said, Jurina always did as she pleased. No one - in eight years - had ever managed to force her into doing something she truly didn’t want. Not even the person she listened to the most in the group: Rena. Churi didn’t fool herself in believing she had more influence over her than the older Matsui.

Apprehension built up inside her while she went to pack her bag. The air around them had become way more heavier, but Churi tried to ignore it as best as she could. She didn’t look at Jurina once. Somehow, she feared her resolve would falter if she crossed her gaze. A few seconds went painfully by, until Churi noticed from her peripheral vision Jurina drawing away from the large mirror of the dancing room and approaching her own bag of clothes. Not a word was exchanged between them the whole time, but relief spread through Churi’s chest when Jurina started preparing her things. She had thankfully managed to convince her to join her for dinner. It was a small victory, but not to be ignored.

While Jurina left the room to take a shower, Churi reflected over the events that happened this last month. After carefully observing Jurina on a daily basis, Churi had to come to an evidence: her health was declining. She was losing weight. Some days, she even looked awfully pale. Churi didn’t like at all what she was seeing: it was frightening her. The past was starting to repeat itself.

As soon as she saw the first signs, she had tentatively broached the subject with Jurina. But soon discovered it was like talking to a brick wall. It was somewhat frustrating to her that her closeness with the young ace didn’t change anything in regards of that specific topic. Until now, they talked about pretty much everything. Shared what was on their mind, even the most futile small things. But that tricky subject was apparently off limits. Jurina simply refused to listen and changed the subject each time Churi tried to engage a conversation about it.

It was out of deep concern - and great powerlessness - that Churi had for the first time talked about it with Airi two weeks ago. They were having a nice lunch together and talking carelessly about the latest movie they had watched, when Churi had suddenly brought up the subject right in the middle of the conversation. She truly didn’t mean to bother her friend with such matters, but Jurina’s preoccupying health was monopolizing all her thoughts. She had blurted the words without thinking. And soon discovered she was right in sharing her concern when Airi gave her an interesting piece of advice.

No, Airi had no miracle solution for that unfortunate problem. Jurina’s stubbornness was no secret to anyone. Her bad habit of neglecting her health either. Every SKE member had witnessed that pattern in front of their eyes at least once. Airi even confessed fearing such a thing would follow the news of Rena’s graduation. Much as she was herself clearly incapable of influencing positively the young ace anymore than her, she suggested her strongly to speak with Rena about it.

If there was one person who ever had any influence over SKE’s ace, it was the older Matsui. Yes, it was a long shot considering how stubborn Jurina could be, especially when it came to that sensitive subject. However there was a small chance that she would listen to the older Matsui. There was no real guaranty that it would work. But if even Rena couldn’t do anything about it, who could?

Churi had agreed that it was her best shot. That was why one evening, after the shooting of a television show in Nagoya, Churi couldn’t keep it to herself any longer. As soon as the coast was clear and they found themselves completely alone in the dressing room, she approached Rena and voiced her concern about Jurina’s condition. The older Matsui didn’t seem very much surprised by her alarming words. In fact, she listened carefully to everything she said with her usual, typical calm, without interrupting her once.

Once she was done speaking, Churi waited expectantly for what Rena was going to answer. Rena didn’t share much with her. Not that she expected any less from the somewhat secretive other girl anyway. However, she did something she did not foresee: she admitted her own helplessness. According to her own words, Jurina and her were not on the best terms. In fact, they were barely interacting since that fateful day of January 30. They remained cordial and had a polite smile always plastered on their face during professional matters, but that was basically it.

The revelation didn’t really come as a real surprise to Churi. It is true to say Jurina had been spending a lot of time at her place this last month. And it did not take a genius to figure out that she was avoiding Rena. Churi even wondered if Jurina had ever returned to Rena’s apartment after that day. Somehow, she really had her doubts about it.

Albeit the fact Rena’s admission didn’t come as a complete surprise to her, it was an odd sight to face a powerless Rena. Of course, it was not her place to advise Rena on how to handle Jurina. Rena knew her better than anyone else. Even better than her own family, Jurina had once laughed about it. After all, Rena had been by her side for eight long years as WMatsui. And in an intimate, romantic relationship with her the past year. Evidently, the young Matsui held no more secret for her. However, Churi was starting to wonder if it was not a bad idea for Rena to allow this distance Jurina was imposing between them.

Of course, Jurina needed time to process things and accept Rena’s graduation. But somehow, Churi was fearing her stubbornness was preventing her from making the first move towards Rena. If neither of them was willing to reach out to the other, how were they going to solve their problems? It was just a temporary issue: of this Churi was certain. They loved each other too much to let such an event - as painful as a graduation always was - get in the way of their happiness.

Churi knew that Rena was conscious of what was going on under her nose. She could sometimes see the older Matsui steal a glance at Jurina across the room. But she was choosing deliberately not to reduce the distance in order to respect Jurina’s wishes. Until now, Churi understood her decision quite well. But today, after seeing Jurina’s mood turning darker and her health declining even more, she couldn’t stay idle anymore.





They had entered the restaurant thirty minutes ago, and Jurina still had barely touched her ramen. While finishing eating her own, Churi couldn’t help but be frustrated by how things were going. She had desperately tried to lighten up the mood with some small talk, but Jurina had proved to be very uncooperative. In fact, Churi had been doing most of the talking during the whole time. To be honest, she was grateful that they were seated upstairs in a private room, away from prying eyes. That way, no one could see the usually talkative SKE’s ace staring silently at her full bowl. And playing mind-absently with the noodles.

“It’s not good?” Churi asked, trying tentatively to stir a reaction. Jurina had ordered her favorite - tonkotsu ramen - but the food had barely touched her lips.

“I told you, I’m not hungry,” Jurina answered drily, raising her eyes slightly to meet her gaze. The reproach was still obvious in her voice. She was not very happy to have been dragged here.

“You should be after a non-stop three-hour rehearsal,” Churi countered with a frown. “And I know you haven’t been eating properly lately.” This was a tricky subject, and she knew it. She was walking on broken glass. Jurina never liked it when someone broached it in the past, always dismissing the warnings.

After Jurina had fainted during the rehearsal of the Nagoya Dome concert and ended at the hospital because of it, Churi made herself a promise: to never let such a thing happen again. Thankfully, Rena had been present that day and prevented the young girl from injuring herself. But who knew what could have happened if she had not been here? What if Jurina had seriously injured herself, and been forced to quit the group because of it? She would have been devastated.

Churi didn’t want to take any chance. Jurina needed to take better care of herself, no matter how much she was currently hurting. Her health was more important than anything else. Churi got distracted when she heard her phone buzzing, and she took a peek at the device placed on the table in front of her. The message she received was short, but gave her the piece of information she needed. The person she was waiting for had arrived at the restaurant.

Churi raised her eyes in mild apprehension to look at Jurina. Her young friend was surely not going to appreciate what she just did. She even suspected she was going to be a bit mad at her for the following days. If truth be told, she did hesitate a lot before making such a call. Her fingers were stuck on the screen of her phone - refusing to dial the number - when she waited for Jurina to come out of the shower earlier on.

In the end, she saw no other option. It had already been more than a month since Jurina had unfortunately discovered the truth about Rena’s plans. And the issue between both Matsui had not been solved. They were barely talking to each other. It wasn’t right. Much as she didn’t like to meddle into people’s affairs, she had to take matters in hand.

“I’m leaving,” Churi announced, getting up from the table and starting to gather her things. When she looked up, she met Jurina’s confused look instantly. “I’m sorry Jurina, but this needs to end for your sake.”

“What?” Jurina exclaimed in incredulity.

Churi didn’t explain any further and turned on her heels, moving towards the door in determination. The sound of soft footsteps climbing the stairs reached her, and she stopped when she saw the door opening. Standing on the doorstep was the one and only Rena Matsui.

No words were exchanged, but there was a small grateful smile upon Rena’s lips. Churi reciprocated it, albeit a bit awkwardly. She surely didn’t want to be present during the conversation that was about to follow between both Matsui. She expected it to be nothing but very tense. Moreover, she could now almost imagine Jurina’s shocked look - mixed with displeasure - behind her back. She had just tricked her dear friend, and she was feeling slightly bad about it. When Churi moved past the older Matsui and descended the staircase, she had to keep repeating herself that it was for the greater good.





Jurina was completely shocked. She simply couldn’t believe what was happening. The minute before, she was having dinner with Churi and now her friend was gone, leaving her alone with the girl who had showed up without notice. Rena Matsui. The person she wanted to see the least right now. The girl who had stolen her heart after a kiss exchanged on a bench during a videoclip, before shattering it for the second time and without warning a month ago.

Rena had hidden something so important from her: her decision to leave SKE48. In June, Rena Matsui was going to graduate. After all this time, her heart was still aching at the idea. In fact, Rena’s mere presence in front of her was causing her such terrible pain. How much she hated the impact Rena always had over her. Whether it was positive or negative, the older girl never left her indifferent. Not once in eight years. And this gentle smile she was currently sending her way was not helping at all in appeasing her sorrow.

“I can’t believe she did this,” Jurina muttered under her breath, looking away from Rena and staring in frustration at her bowl of ramen. From her peripheral vision, she noticed the older girl quietly taking a seat opposite her and occupying Churi’s previous spot. Jurina was feeling ill at ease, not knowing what to do with the unexpected presence in the room. She kind of wished she could ask Rena to leave. Her presence was making her very uncomfortable. And she didn’t want to have the conversation she guessed Rena was going to start soon or later.

However, not a single word left her lips after that. Somehow, she couldn’t bring herself to be so harsh towards Rena. No matter how much she had hurt her, she didn’t wish to inflict the same pain to her. Despite all the tears she had shed this last month because of her, she still loved the girl in front of her dearly. And her affection for her was currently making her heart beat in pain.

“I know you don’t want to see me,” Rena’s soft murmur disrupted the heavy atmosphere. “But please don’t blame Akane. I’m glad she called me and explained to me what happened during rehearsal with the kenkyuusei.”

Jurina nibbled on her lower lip, guilt washing over at the reminder of what happened in the dancing room. Yes, she was well aware that she had gone a bit too far earlier. She reflected over her behavior when she took a shower afterwards. Her bad mood was impacting her daily life in the worst way possible, and making her act in an unusual way towards others. Somehow, she couldn’t control herself. The harsh words had rolled off her tongue without thinking.

“You know, this situation is hard for me too,” Rena stammered.

Jurina looked up in surprise when she heard the slight - but perceptible tremble - in Rena’s voice. Their eyes met again for the second time, and Jurina immediately noticed the sorrow in them. It took her off guard. Of course, she had witnessed the same emotion shining in Rena’s eyes when she desperately cried for hours in Rena’s arms at her apartment. But in the end, Rena’s pain had been overshadowed by her own distress.

Not to mention, Jurina had never seen it again after that day. On the contrary, Rena always harbored a smile when they met in public for SKE’s activities, and her perfect mask of indifference never slipped once when confronted with the subject of her graduation by journalists. Jurina had not said anything about it, but it had more than disconcerted her to see her acting this way when they happened to do interviews together.

If anything, it looked like she was happy to leave SKE48. Satisfied with the choice she had made. How on earth could she always look so happy, when she herself felt like her world had just crumbled? Yes, Jurina did her best to smile in front of cameras. She never cried in public, nor in front of other members. When, a few times, emotion was getting the best of her and the tears were threatening to fall, she made sure no one could witness them. Despite the circumstances, she wanted to be strong.

It was all fake. Her sadness was obvious to everyone. No matter how much she hid it behind a tentative smile, she knew at her core that she wasn’t really fooling anyone. Of course, members were not saying anything about it. They were preserving her. Only Churi had tentatively broached the subject a couple of times. And she had lied by saying that she was going to be fine. If Rena was taking it so well, then she was certainly not going to crack in front of others.

Today, Jurina realized she got it all wrong. For the first time in a month, she discovered Rena had in fact kept her true feelings to herself the whole time. And she had not seen anything. No, she had refused to see it. How was that possible? After all, it was just the typical Rena she always knew. Always hiding her true feelings to preserve herself.

“I know you said you needed time, and I’ve given you space. But I can’t let you neglect your health any longer. I won’t stand seeing you laying in bed at the hospital. Not another time.”

Jurina watched without a word Rena standing up to come and sit next to her. She didn’t flinch when the older Matsui hesitantly placed her palm over her hand. How could she be so stupid? Of course, Rena cared about her. Of course, Rena felt guilty about the way things went. Why on earth did she let her own sorrow shadow what was going right under her nose? Rena was hurting as well. And she had let that hurt persist during more than a month by keeping her distance with her.

Jurina could feel the tears forming in her eyes. But this time, she didn’t try to hide or stop them. She felt Rena’s gentle caress on her skin as she brushed her tears away, suddenly realizing how much she had missed their proximity and the touch of her lover. As a result, she couldn’t help but lean into it when Rena cupped her cheek affectionately.

“We’re going to go through this rough time. Together.”

Jurina didn’t reply, not willing to let her emotional state show through her voice. Instead, she accepted Rena’s tentative - and almost awkward - embrace, and returned it tightly without a second of hesitation. She was conscious that it wasn’t going to be easy. The following months were going to be very hard on them. She didn’t even want to start thinking about the immediate void she would feel once Rena would be gone. Somehow, she wanted to believe they were going to make it through. That their relationship was not going to suffer from Rena’s graduation.

It was her sole and only hope.





TO BE CONTINUED
« Last Edit: December 13, 2017, 03:18:24 AM by sophcaro »
My WMatsui fanfics:

HEARTBEAT trilogy
- Heartbeat | Completed
- Partners | Completed
- Destiny | Completed

OTHER FANFICS
- Warriors | Ongoing
- Back in Time | Ongoing
- One Shot collection: Her Sun | Completed
- Fire and Water | On hiatus

Offline Genkikid

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20 END) + Partners (20/?) [WMatsui] (04/04/16)
« Reply #381 on: April 04, 2016, 02:50:54 AM »
Jurina neglected her health again :gyaaah:
Finally Jurina let Rena talk

Offline Minami-chan

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20 END) + Partners (20/?) [WMatsui] (04/04/16)
« Reply #382 on: April 04, 2016, 09:43:51 PM »
OMG!
I read it last night, but I could not answer.
Jurina finally let Rena approaches her. The poor must feel really bad, but I think his stubbornness did not help improve the situation.
Rena what will be having a hard time too.
 Luckily Churi was there.

Offline Darathon

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20 END) + Partners (20/?) [WMatsui] (04/04/16)
« Reply #383 on: April 06, 2016, 06:01:51 PM »
I'd just like to say how realistic this story is. Its amazing. Jurina taking out her frustrations on others, her pushing herself to forget about Rena. It seems like something that people would truly do which makes the story all so much enjoyable.

How you manage to spin in everyones thoughts and emotions as well as painting the picture of the story. The writing is just remarkable, if you write a book ill definitely buy it from you

Thank you so much for your 40 chapters! I loved the reconciliation. Please update soon, ill be sad when it ends :(
Atsumina and Wmatsui for life.
Takamina Oshi!!!

Offline niineechan

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20 END) + Partners (20/?) [WMatsui] (04/04/16)
« Reply #384 on: April 07, 2016, 04:08:19 PM »
That's it! That's what I meant, Ju! Your relationship won't suffer just because of Rena's graduation... I hope. Just believe in Rena and yourself as well, Ju.
Our own sorrow prevents us to see others' sorrows. That's completely true. Anyway, everyone needs time.
And again... The adorable Churi. I  :heart: :heart: Churi. And poor Kenkyusei.. What have you done to those cute girls??  :angry: :angry: but yeah, I'm trying to understand you Ju...  :(

I still remember the very first time I stumbled onto Heartbeat, and now, here I am, reading Partners chapter 20 and that's AWESOME. Thank you for keep working on this while many other authors dropped their works. Thanks a lot.. :kneelbow:
everyone
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everyone
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Offline sophcaro

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20 END) + Partners (21/?) [WMatsui] (10/04/16)
« Reply #385 on: April 10, 2016, 06:32:49 PM »
CHAPTER 21



Four months later.

Jurina had been staring helplessly at the ceiling of her bedroom for the past twenty minutes, fully awake. Her alarm clock had not rung yet, but she knew it was now a matter of minutes. After all, she had checked the time as soon as she had opened her eyes. Nevertheless, she was stubbornly refusing to get out of bed.

It was common knowledge the nineteen years old girl always had trouble waking up. When she happened to share a hotel room with another member, the other girl often had to shake her a little to prompt her to wake up. Rena - who was the person she had the most shared a hotel room over the past eight years - had more than once mentioned her problematic difficulty to wake up during their conversations. The first times it happened, she would scold her a little out of frustration. But now that she was pretty used to that characteristic of hers, she teased her about it more than anything. 

However today, there was something else that was preventing Jurina from leaving the comfort of her own bed. It wasn’t that she was lazy and wished to spend more time in her bed. It wasn’t either that she was still feeling tired. No, Jurina was refusing to leave the room for another simple reason: today was Rena’s graduation concert. And she was desperately trying to delay the inevitable by buying herself a little more time.

The attempt was much fruitless. The familiar ringtone suddenly disrupted the quiet atmosphere of her bedroom, and extracted her effectively from her dark thoughts. Jurina let out a small groan in displeasure. Never in her life had she hated so much the sound. She didn’t want to get up. She absolutely didn’t wish to go through that particular day. But the very annoying piercing sound was reminding her that she had no choice in the matter.

Jurina tilted her head towards the rounded object and stared at it in deep frustration, before putting a halt to her misery by extending her arm and pressing the button quickly. The bedroom plunged into silence at once, but the quietness didn’t really do her any good. On the contrary. It was enabling her to fall back deep into her thoughts again. And letting the sorrow enter her heart.

Jurina mind-absently caught some noise coming from the kitchen, evident sign that her mother was up. The prospect of leaving her bed was still not enchanting her, but she knew her mother would enter her room if she didn’t show up for breakfast in five minutes.

You can do it, Jurina thought inwardly, trying to find the courage she was desperately lacking. But despite the encouraging words, she realized she was unfortunately still feeling as despondent as the moment before.

Those four months had passed by in the blink of an eye. Without realizing it, the date she had marked in red on her calendar and that she dreaded so much had unfortunately already arrived. And she was still having a hard time believing it was really going to happen. The idea that, tomorrow, Rena would officially have left SKE48, was still impossible for her to accept. After today’s concert, she would be left alone to lead the group. The girl she admired and loved so much wouldn’t be by her side anymore.

This realization was darkening her mood again. Jurina could feel instantly her chest tightening in pain. No matter how many times Rena had tentatively tried to reassure her and showered her with affection, she couldn’t help but let apprehension take hold of her when it concerned the future of her relationship with Rena.

The older Matsui seemed confident nothing was going to change. But Jurina remembered vividly the events that followed Mariko’s graduation. The AKB member she was so close to, and even considered as a big sister. Her departure had caused her such terrible sorrow. Out of pain, she couldn’t even participate in a few SKE events for a while. In fact, it took her quite some time to get over her absence.

And after that, they were of course not able to see other as often as before. Yes, they communicated often on LINE. But it was not the same. Mariko’s physical absence had created a void. A void she could still feel after all these years, no matter how much joy she felt each time they had the opportunity to meet. Unfortunately, those moments were so few and far between.

So why would she react any differently with Rena’s graduation? The older Matsui would be spending even more time in Tokyo after her departure. And Jurina would be stuck in Nagoya because of SKE’s activities. It was already hard enough when Rena happened to leave for Nogizaka46’s related works. She suffered from the void her absence provoked each and single time.

But no matter how much she hated those moments of separation, Rena always returned at some point to Nagoya. She always came back to SKE48, where she truly belonged. After tomorrow, there would be no coming back. No feeling of relief that her trips to Tokyo were only temporary. No, this time it would be definitive. Jurina would not wait for Rena and greet her with a happy smile. She would not tell her how much she missed her. She would not stare at the dressing room’s door in obvious impatience and expectation. Because Rena would never pass it anymore.

Jurina was feeling her eyes moistening when she suddenly heard a soft knock on the door. Rapidly, she brushed away a tear that was starting to form. She couldn’t let her mother see her in her current state. She had been doing enough crying these last months. It had to stop at some point. That was what Jurina kept telling herself each time she felt emotion taking hold of her. But somehow, she feared it was just wishful thinking on her behalf. Rena’s departure from SKE48 was not going to end her tears. Quite the contrary.

“I’m awake,” Jurina spoke up, straightening up and taking a seat on the side of her bed. She immediately regretted the sound of her voice. It was so weak, and the light tremble perceptible. Her mother was surely going to notice it.

The door opened slightly, and Jurina gazed at her mother who was sending her a warm, gentle smile. She reciprocated it immediately, albeit a bit awkwardly. “Did you manage to sleep?”

Jurina nodded slowly, noticing the worry now plastered on her mother’s face. She knew perfectly well what was motivating her to ask such a thing. Yesterday evening, she couldn’t manage to sleep, dreading too much the events of the following day. Rena’s graduation concert was monopolizing all her thoughts, preventing her from closing her eyes one second. Her brain was simply refusing to shut down.

At some point, she had left her bedroom to drink a glass of water in the kitchen, and had crossed her mother’s path. When she had admitted her powerlessness to her, the latter had given her some sleeping pills. That had thankfully worked perfectly once she had joined her bed again.

Jurina stole another glance at the time on her alarm clock. It was only 8:30 AM, but she was aware that she had a busy schedule today. The concert wasn’t starting until 3 PM, but Jurina could feel it was going to be a very long day. A day of intense rehearsal and preparation, coupled with a constant knot in her stomach.

Jurina was most definitely not looking forward to that particular concert. She even kind of guessed it would be hard for her to keep her legendary enthusiasm and cheerfulness once on stage. But what could she do about it? She didn’t have any say in this. Whether it was Rena’s decision to graduate or the date of the concert - which she considered way too early -  no one had asked for her opinion. She just had to accept everything like a good little soldier. And that thought, that she had no influence whatsoever over those two facts, was still terribly frustrating to her. Even after all these months.

Jurina noticed from her peripheral vision her mother entering the room and taking a seat next to her. Thanks to the morning light inundating her bedroom, Jurina could discern even more the deep concern in her mother’s eyes. The concern she had caused her these last months. Her mother was certainly not ignorant of her sorrow.

Somehow, even talking about Rena’s departure was still very hard, no matter how many times someone mentioned it around her. And people talked about it a lot: journalists, fans, staff members. Even SKE members behind her back when they believed she wasn’t listening. Unfortunately for her, she accidentally overheard a few conversations about it.

Jurina had spoken about Rena’s graduation a few times with her mother. Or to be more accurate, her mother had engaged the tricky conversation with her. But her mother didn’t truly realize the full extent of the pain Rena’s graduation was causing her. There were so many things Jurina couldn’t tell her mother. This last year, when they happened to talk about Rena, Jurina always had to keep half of the truth to herself. Because she couldn’t admit to her how much the older girl really meant to her.

“I know you’ll miss her dearly, but you’ll still be able to see her. You will remain friends, even after she leaves.”

Jurina didn’t know what to answer to her mother’s reassuring words. A part of her wanted to retort that she feared deep inside that their relationship was going to change after tonight. Another wanted to blurt out that Rena and her were more than what she was describing. And that it was precisely because of their intimate, strong bond that her leaving SKE was hurting even more.

In the end, Jurina kept her thoughts to herself. She was aware that she couldn’t say any of that. She didn’t want to worry any more her mother by voicing out loud her concern about the future. And she certainly couldn’t admit either the true nature of her relationship with Rena. Jurina had always been very close to her mother, but this was a particular topic she refused to speak of.

Her mother had met Rena in person a few times over the past, and always spoken highly of her. She liked Rena. She was grateful for the fact that the older Matsui had always been by her side in SKE, and strong moral support during all those years. That she had, in a sense, played her role by comforting Jurina in difficult times, especially the first years when she was still a fragile child.

Somehow, Jurina feared her mother’s opinion about Rena would change drastically if she discovered the truth. Jurina simply couldn’t take that risk. She still wanted to hear nice words falling from her mother’s lips. And she absolutely wished to stay on good terms with her. However, she feared it would not be the case anymore if she admitted that she had it all wrong. That, more than a year ago, Rena and her had crossed a line, and were definitely more than the very good friends she believed them to be.

Jurina felt her mother squeezing her hand lightly, and she accepted the small comforting gesture in gratitude. Of course, she was thankful for her attempt to cheer her up. However, her words failed miserably to alleviate her doubts. Apprehension was simply refusing to leave her. However, she forced herself to smile when she turned to nod at her.





Rena took a close look at the tracklist laying in front of her on the table. She wanted to make sure that every song was well present. Twenty five songs: a two-hour concert in the Nagoya Dome. That was exactly what was awaiting her in a few hours, under a shiny sky. The weather forecast had indeed promised a day without rain. It was actually quite a relief. Until two days ago, she was convinced it was going to rain during the concert. It had even rained a little just yesterday. Unexpectedly, the tide had turned this morning. They were not expecting a single drop of water.

Rena was still alone in the dressing room this morning. The other members of SKE48 had not arrived yet for the preparation of the concert. The older Matsui didn’t mind the silence of the room. On the contrary. Silence had always been her best friend anyway. It suited so well her quiet personality.

Pen in hand, Rena ticked off another song on the sheet, reviewing again that they were all in the right order. She had chosen each one of them. As well as the order they would be performed on stage. Management may not have given her a choice regarding her graduation’s date, they left her to decide the tracklist of her concert. And it had taken her many days to write down a definitive list.

SKE48’s discography was so vast. They had sung so many different songs over the past eight years. Selecting only twenty five songs proved to be challenging. So many choices possible. So many songs she loved. How was it possible to select so few? Now, Rena was definitely glad management never asked her opinion over the planning of their previous concerts. She would have faced a complete dilemma.

At some point, Rena did turn to Jurina to hear her opinion regarding the tracklist of her graduation concert. Somehow, she wanted to know which songs she wished to sing. Her opinion mattered to her. But Jurina didn’t really give her the reply she expected. In fact, she stated that she should be the one making those decisions, not her. It was her graduation concert. It was a day too important for her to let anyone else influence her on the matter.

After saying those decisive words, Jurina had left the room with a tentative smile that did not fool her for all that. Their relationship had greatly improved since that evening in the restaurant four months ago. The conversation that followed had cleared a few things. And thankfully reduced the distance between them. But Jurina was still terribly hurting because of her decision to graduate. Rena could see it on a daily basis. And that pain she would often witness in her eyes had not faded after all those months.

However, Rena never once regretted her decision to graduate. How could she? After all, everyone left the group at some point. Airi had graduated in January, and many other important members before her. Nothing was set in stone. Members came by and left. No one was irreplaceable. Not even her. Rena wanted to believe that SKE could manage fine with the departure of one of its figureheads. No, she certainly didn’t always agree with their management’s decisions, far from it. But once she would be gone, they would need to make important decisions for the future of the group. It was mandatory for the survival of SKE48. And she trusted them to make the right decisions.

In her absence, other girls were finally going to be given the opportunity to shine. Other members would be filling her shoes. Occupying her spot at the front of the stage. And she was completely fine with the idea. She had spent eight years in SKE48. It was time for her to move on. It was time for the group to find a new lease of life.

And there would still be Jurina as SKE’s constant ace. Rena wasn’t worried about the group’s future. She knew the nineteen years old girl would lead the group effectively once she would be gone. Everyone would gather around her. And Jurina would keep on helping the kenkyuusei. After all, they were the future of the group. But until the day they would take over, Rena knew Jurina was completely capable of leading SKE.

No, Rena was not unfamiliar with Jurina’s doubts. They had spoken about it a few times. Jurina didn’t believe she could do it without her by her side. But Rena was convinced it was only her sorrow speaking. In the end, when the pain would had dissipated enough, she would fully embrace her role as sole leader of SKE. Rena had absolutely no doubt about it. And she knew SKE was definitely in good hands with the young ace. The group always held great importance to Jurina. The latter put all her energy into it. There was no reason that it would stop after her departure.

A smile grazed Rena’s lips when she arrived at the bottom of the list, and all the songs she had selected were indeed present, and in the right order. She was not entirely satisfied with the tracklist, saddened to have been forced to leave out a few songs she really liked. But choices needed to be made. And some were harder than others. That’s a fact she had discovered a few times over the past years. And had been even more conscious of it these last months.

Rena couldn’t regret her decision to graduate. It was a well-thought decision, definitely not taken on the spur of the moment. Not one second she regretted entering SKE. During that course of time, she experienced every emotion humanly possible: joy, sadness, pain, frustration. And many others. Being in the idol group had also changed her a lot. She gained a confidence she lacked. Not to mention, she met incredible people. However, she did regret one thing deeply. The pain she had caused Jurina, the girl she loved so much. But the harm was done. And much unavoidable.





Rena raised her gaze when she heard the door of the dressing room opening. It didn’t really surprise her when she saw Jurina standing on the doorstep. In fact, she almost expected her to arrive before her. Indeed, the young Matsui usually was the first to arrive and the last to leave. They exchanged a quick smile, until Jurina came to sit next to her without a word.

Rena watched her attentively while the other girl was typing a message on her phone. It reassured her to see that she looked quite rested. This morning, she kind of feared to see Jurina arriving with bags under her eyes, clear evidence that she wouldn’t have slept well the night before.

Rena stayed quiet while Jurina finished typing her message, addressed to Akane she couldn’t help but notice. She was aware how dear the latter was to Jurina. They were both really close, and her friend had been a great help to her these last few months. Akane and her shared a unique bond. And Rena was grateful that Jurina had such a precious friend by her side.

Yes, Mayu was Jurina’s best friend. But the distance unfortunately prevented them from seeing each other as often as they wished. Akane was here. In Nagoya. And had provided Jurina with necessary comfort during those recent times of hardship. Just as much as Jurina had when Akane had herself been devastated by the news of Airi’s graduation.

When Rena noticed Jurina putting away her phone, she lifted her hand to squeeze her shoulder lightly. The gesture brought Jurina’s attention to her, and a small smile fell on Rena’s lips. She didn’t want her concern to show too much - already knowing how hard it was going to be for Jurina to face that day - but she still needed to ask. She needed to know what was going on inside the girl’s head.

“How are you?” Rena asked. And regretted her words the moment after when she noticed Jurina’s features darkening. Maybe it was a somewhat insensitive question to ask today. Rena immediately felt slightly bad. “I’m sorry.”

Of course, Jurina was apprehending the concert. Albeit the fact they avoided talking too much about that particular topic these last couple of days, she could read Jurina like an open book. Moreover, Jurina had shared her concern about their future a few times these last months. Was she being too naive in believing that her graduation would not impact their relationship too severely? Yes, she had feared Jurina’s bad reaction from the start. That was why she had waited so long to tell her. Waited until she was absolutely certain that graduation was the best decision for her to make.

Nevertheless, she wanted to believe that they were strong enough to survive this. It was only a hard moment to go through. A very difficult one indeed - for both of them - but still a temporary phase. In the end, everything would be fine.

“Jurina.” Rena encircled her arm gently to try and prompt her to look at her. Indeed, Jurina was now looking the other way, obviously bothered by her question. Thankfully, the young ace complied to her wishes at once, and their eyes met. “It’s true that I won’t be by your side in SKE48 anymore, but I’m not leaving you. I’ll still be here. I’ll always be here.”

Jurina gazed at her silently, and Rena could progressively see the tears threatening to fall. Jurina always did her best not to show her emotions in front of others, and generally succeeded in doing to. But somehow, she couldn’t completely keep it inside when it came to her. And Rena hated those tears that still kept on falling after all those months. Even more knowing that she was the reason behind them.

“I’m really trying to convince myself that it won’t change anything,” Jurina managed to finally utter in a half trembling voice. “But I can’t.”

Jurina’s constant doubt did not surprise Rena in the least. After all, she had voiced it many times now. But it still pained her as much to hear it. She wanted so much to find the right words to reassure her. But it seemed nothing she said could truly ease Jurina’s worries. How much she hated feeling so powerless.

“You know that I love you,” Rena declared, a bit desperately. She was trying again to ease Jurina’s mind. Another attempt that added itself to a long list of failed ones. But she couldn’t stand seeing Jurina’s tears anymore. The tears that she was brushing away one after another. She received a silent nod in reply, and her mouth tugged into a confident smile. “Then stop being sad. I want you to be happy.”

Rena leaned in for a kiss, and felt the lips moving against hers immediately. The kiss was chaste and short, but Rena noticed the light progressively back in Jurina’s eyes when she pulled away. She was aware that her pain was still lurking behind Jurina’s tentative, small smile. Waiting for another opportunity to manifest itself and darken the mood of the sensitive girl. But she didn’t let that fact deter her for all that.

She was going to erase that pain she had caused Jurina, no matter how long and how much effort it would take. She was going to do everything in her power to see her loving, genuine smile directed at her again. That expression that she adored so much, and that she had not seen again after that fateful date of January 30.





TO BE CONTINUED
« Last Edit: December 13, 2017, 03:19:44 AM by sophcaro »
My WMatsui fanfics:

HEARTBEAT trilogy
- Heartbeat | Completed
- Partners | Completed
- Destiny | Completed

OTHER FANFICS
- Warriors | Ongoing
- Back in Time | Ongoing
- One Shot collection: Her Sun | Completed
- Fire and Water | On hiatus

Offline Minami-chan

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20 END) + Partners (21/?) [WMatsui] (10/04/16)
« Reply #386 on: April 10, 2016, 11:37:42 PM »
Now came the fateful day ...

Offline Genkikid

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20 END) + Partners (21/?) [WMatsui] (10/04/16)
« Reply #387 on: April 11, 2016, 10:52:22 AM »
Maan I read this chapter right before I fell asleep this morning at 2am. And once again I procrastinate my studying when I have another test in the after noon :nervous
Nooo... Rena's graduation concert.... Rena want to assure Jurina that everything will be alright, but Jurina is insecure about their relationship after Rena's graduation

Offline Darathon

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20 END) + Partners (21/?) [WMatsui] (10/04/16)
« Reply #388 on: April 12, 2016, 01:17:24 AM »

Its finally come down to it...
Poor jurina :(
Tbh i dont think their relationship will last, im pessimistic like jurina lol
I hope you end on a nice note though  :cry:
Thank you for your wondeful chapter!
Atsumina and Wmatsui for life.
Takamina Oshi!!!

Offline sophcaro

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20 END) + Partners (21/?) [WMatsui] (10/04/16)
« Reply #389 on: April 17, 2016, 01:57:55 PM »
There will be no chapter of Partners this week-end, so I’ve decided to publish instead a video I made a few months ago, in anticipation for the current narrative arc of Partners.

Indeed, I felt that another video needed to be done, as the first video of Partners fits the mood of the first fifteen chapters only.

This second video fits way better the current atmosphere...

« Last Edit: April 17, 2016, 02:34:54 PM by sophcaro »
My WMatsui fanfics:

HEARTBEAT trilogy
- Heartbeat | Completed
- Partners | Completed
- Destiny | Completed

OTHER FANFICS
- Warriors | Ongoing
- Back in Time | Ongoing
- One Shot collection: Her Sun | Completed
- Fire and Water | On hiatus

Offline genkingblack

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20 END) + Partners (21/?) [WMatsui] (10/04/16)
« Reply #390 on: April 17, 2016, 02:34:06 PM »
I see you have posted already, sorry for the late reply tho :D

isn't that Baek Ji young's song?
I didn't know you are into k-pop as well ._.

i'll be waiting for next update~

ps. it's good video anyway  :thumbsup :thumbsup
My Projects :
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Offline sophcaro

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20 END) + Partners (21/?) [WMatsui] (10/04/16)
« Reply #391 on: April 17, 2016, 02:36:43 PM »
I see you have posted already, sorry for the late reply tho :D

isn't that Baek Ji young's song?
I didn't know you are into k-pop as well ._.

i'll be waiting for next update~

ps. it's good video anyway  :thumbsup :thumbsup

Yes, it's her. I'm not really into K-pop, but there are a few exceptions  :)

I used to watch Korean dramas a few years ago, and that song was in the soundtrack of the drama Iris which I loved very much (both the drama and the soundtrack). That's why I chose this song, as I believe the lyrics fitted well :)
« Last Edit: April 17, 2016, 05:15:00 PM by sophcaro »
My WMatsui fanfics:

HEARTBEAT trilogy
- Heartbeat | Completed
- Partners | Completed
- Destiny | Completed

OTHER FANFICS
- Warriors | Ongoing
- Back in Time | Ongoing
- One Shot collection: Her Sun | Completed
- Fire and Water | On hiatus

Offline genkingblack

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20 END) + Partners (21/?) [WMatsui] (10/04/16)
« Reply #392 on: April 17, 2016, 02:39:26 PM »
I see you have posted already, sorry for the late reply tho :D

isn't that Baek Ji young's song?
I didn't know you are into k-pop as well ._.

i'll be waiting for next update~

ps. it's good video anyway  :thumbsup :thumbsup

I'm not really into K-pop.

However, I did watch a few Korean dramas a few years ago, and that song was in the soundtrack of the drama Iris which I loved very much. That's why I chose this song, as I believe the lyrics fitted well :)

Yeah it's totally fit for the current situation on partner

Still I don't know what to say to Rena and Jurina.
it's like the fic is too real as if I could see with my own eyes  :bleed eyes: :bleed eyes:
My Projects :
GenkingBlack's Vault [OS/Short Stories] Last update 4-Apr-17
Brave Enough On Going Last update 16-Mar-17
Love is Serious, When War is Involved   Hiatus Last Update 12-Mar-17
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Offline Genkikid

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20 END) + Partners (21/?) [WMatsui] (10/04/16)
« Reply #393 on: April 17, 2016, 03:39:41 PM »
can I know the video parts you use for the video? some of it is from kataomoi finally, kiss datte hidarikiki, gift, pareo wa emerald right?

Offline sophcaro

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20 END) + Partners (21/?) [WMatsui] (10/04/16)
« Reply #394 on: April 17, 2016, 04:07:48 PM »
can I know the video parts you use for the video? some of it is from kataomoi finally, kiss datte hidarikiki, gift, pareo wa emerald right?

Sure  :)

- Kiss Datte Hidarikiki
- Gomen ne Summer
- Green Flash
- Nagoya Iki Saishuu Ressha
- Kataomoi Finally
- TV spot
- Gift
- AKB1/149 Ren'ai Sōsenkyo
- Pareo wa Emerald

My WMatsui fanfics:

HEARTBEAT trilogy
- Heartbeat | Completed
- Partners | Completed
- Destiny | Completed

OTHER FANFICS
- Warriors | Ongoing
- Back in Time | Ongoing
- One Shot collection: Her Sun | Completed
- Fire and Water | On hiatus

Offline sophcaro

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20 END) + Partners (22/?) [WMatsui] (26/04/16)
« Reply #395 on: April 26, 2016, 08:05:06 PM »
CHAPTER 22



2.55 PM.

Rena’s graduation concert sold out merely a few days after the tickets were available for sale. As a result, there was currently not an empty seat to be seen in the famous baseball stadium of Nagoya. A message in white, bright letters was currently flashing on the black, large closed doors of the main stage: graduation concert of the Nagoya princess.

You could feel a certain excitement mixed with tension in the air as the concert was soon about to begin. People in the audience were wearing tee-shirts at the effigy of their oshi, and there were definitely a lot of Rena Matsui’s fans. Some were even getting their light sticks ready in preparation for the start of the concert.

All of a sudden, the letters imprinted on the black doors disappeared progressively one by one as if washed away by the wind, and the imposing doors started to open. All pairs of eyes were now glued on the doors in expectation, and people started cheering when the one they had been patiently waiting for appeared.

Rena Matsui, her long, black hair falling over her shoulders, was clad in a red dress and matching high heels. A rosebud of similar color was pinned in her hair on the right side of her head. When the doors were finally wide open, she moved forward slowly and elegantly onto the main stage. Her beauty enhanced by her light make-up captured again the hearts of many in the audience. Her look was somewhat serious and, as she halted in the middle of the stage, her eyes swept the audience left and right as if searching for someone.

Her eyes fell on the floor at her feet, disappointment clearly visible in her small brown orbs as she had obviously failed to find who she was looking for. However, her attention soon got caught by the incredible view she had missed at her arrival. On each side of the long, perpendicular stage that was crossing the Nagoya Dome, were laying hundreds of red roses. Rena widened her eyes, mesmerized by the beauty of the scene she was witnessing.

Her feet moved forward without her consent - as if she was drawn by the path evidently prepared for her - and she admired the flowers carefully aligned left and right as she walked down the perpendicular stage. When she finally arrived at the end of the stage she raised her gaze in curiosity, noticing a girl standing a few meters away from her and who had her back turned to her. The latter was dressed exactly like her, except for her clothes colored blue. Rena stopped and observed the silent presence from afar, relief spreading through her chest when she discovered she just found who she was desperately looking for earlier.

“Did you… do all this for me?” Rena asked in a quivering voice, her eyes shining with emotion as she addressed the other girl.

The girl in a blue dress turned to look at her, harboring a loving smile at the view of the person she had been patiently waiting for. “Princess of Nagoya, please accept those roses as a token of my devotion for you.”

Rena gasped at Jurina’s solemn tone and stared at her for a few seconds in awe, her voice simply refusing to come out. Her mouth opened a couple of times, but it took a few seconds for her lips to finally produce words. She placed her hand over her beating heart in anticipation. “Does it mean… that I have your heart?”

Jurina reduced the distance between them progressively - walking gracefully towards the girl who was looking at her intensely - until they were standing only a few feet away from each other. She lifted her hand and took Rena’s inside hers gently, lacing their fingers together as she placed both of their hands over her chest. “Always.”

Rena’s face lit up in joy and she leaned forward, resting her forehead against Jurina’s. Both girls shut their eyes and fell silent at once, each of them relishing the close proximity with the other. Their hearts and souls were finally united after so many moments of hardship.

This little scene that the audience seemed to enjoy very much - judging by their loud cheers - was nothing but staged. It had been the moment since Rena passed the large doors and appeared in front of the Nagoya Dome. Both Matsui had rehearsed the text together a few hours ago.

The older Matsui felt Jurina’s hand trembling slightly inside hers. That was not part of the scene, and she knew it. Of course, she was conscious that she couldn’t say anything to calm the girl who was evidently letting emotion take hold of her. But she couldn’t stay idle either and pretend she didn’t notice. That’s why she did the only thing she was currently allowed to in the current circumstances: she gave her hand a light squeeze - simple gesture that would be unnoticed from cameras - hoping it would bring her necessary comfort.

From the moment their eyes met on stage, Rena guessed Jurina would be having a hard time playing her part. Her prediction came true when the young girl uttered her last word. Always. Rena knew Jurina was not fully acting right now. That there was a truth to what she was saying. She had distinguished easily Jurina’s emotion behind her previous solemn declaration, and the current light tremble of Jurina’s fingers was another proof. Rena had taken on her role professionally as soon as she stepped onto the stage, but Jurina was definitely having a hard time not letting the truth slip behind her mask of current suitor of the Nagoya princess.

Rena didn’t say a word nor did she step out of her role one second, knowing all cameras were currently projecting their image to the audience on the two large screens. For a moment, she wondered if the audience picked up on Jurina’s curious behavior. Did they realize how much this moment was truly affecting her, or did they believe that it was all part of the scene? Rena hoped for the latter.

The first notes of TWO ROSES suddenly sounded in the Nagoya Dome, and both girls took a step back from each other, getting in position for the song. They didn’t have time to share a glance. However, Rena didn’t need to look at Jurina to know that she was already focusing on the choreography of their duo. The first song that started her two-hour graduation concert. 







Churi waited patiently from backstage for both Matsui to end their duo. Members of the team KII were finishing making last minute adjustments to their red and black costumes behind her, but Churi didn’t pay attention to the noises and light chatting coming from them, her thoughts directed towards the younger girl dancing and singing on stage.

Albeit the fact she couldn’t see Jurina right now, it wasn’t hard to guess how hard she was taking all this. And this song in particular held so much meaning to her. As Churi heard the words leaving her lips, she really hoped Jurina was not going to lose it and crack on stage.

Earlier on, Jurina had indicated her between two rehearsals that she was very decided to not show her emotions. She was going to act as professional as possible, and definitely not cry during the concert. But would she truly be able to stick to her words? Wouldn’t her body betray her at some point, and win the fight against her will?

“It’s a bit strange to hear them performing this duo, isn’t it?” A feminine, familiar voice distracted Churi, jolting her out of her thoughts effectively. She tilted her head towards the sound, a faint smile falling on her lips at the view of Airi, clad in a similar uniform. Her best friend who - she had discovered a few days ago in surprise - Rena had invited to her graduation concert, and was going to perform with them during the two hours.

“I’m already feeling somewhat nostalgic,” Churi admitted a bit nervously, looking away from the girl now standing by her side. “It’s the last time they will ever sing it together. I can only imagine how Jurina must be feeling inside right now. She loved that duo so much. And the lyrics made so much sense to her.”

Airi nodded silently, knowing full well how deeply worried her friend was for Jurina. She had shared her concern about her declining health a couple of times those past months, and doubts about her mental ability to survive Rena’s graduation concert. Yes, Jurina was very affected by Rena’s departure. But the sensitive young girl was not the only one having a hard time. Rena had definitely been saddened by the distance her decision had provoked between them. And the pain her graduation was causing Jurina. “It’s a moment they will remember for the rest of their lives. Both of them.”

At the emphasis on that particular word Churi gazed back at her in slight astonishment, before understanding what message she was trying to convey. She was trying to tell her that Rena was hurting as much as Jurina, even if she didn’t voice it or show it openly as much as the younger girl.

It is true to say that Churi didn’t know the older Matsui as well as Airi. After all, the latter had been Rena’s best friend during all those years. How could she pretend to know her as well when she was definitely not that close to the Nagoya princess? Yes, she could read her better, but some aspects of her personality remained a complete mystery to her. And she figured that she had little chance to crack it. Even less now that the older Matsui was leaving SKE48.

Despite those facts, there was one thing she wished more than anything: that Rena would never break Jurina’s heart again. If it ever happened, Churi was doubting Jurina could recover. She was already having difficultly overcoming her previous heartbreak. And clumsily gathering the pieces of her shattered heart.

“Hey,” Airi’s soft, murmur sounded next to her ear, and Churi felt a light squeeze on her shoulder. “Don’t tell me you’re going to cry. It would look strange on Omatase Setlist. It’s supposed to be a joyful song.”

At her declaration, Churi frowned in confusion, before feeling the tears moistening her cheeks. She wiped them away rapidly with the back of her hand. She didn’t even notice them falling. When did that happen? “You’re right,” Churi replied in a small strangled laugh. “I’m afraid this graduation concert is making me emotional.”

“Everyone is feeling the same.” Airi smiled sadly. “Have you seen the girls behind us?”

Churi took a discreet peek over her shoulder, noticing indeed how everyone was now very tense. Apprehension and nervousness could be read in a few girl’s eyes. And it was definitely not because of their next performance. The team KII had sung Omatase Setlist countless of times. It held no more secrets to them.

It wasn’t just Jurina who was touched by Rena’s departure from the group. Everyone was. It meant something to each member, even to those who didn’t know her that well. It was obvious nothing would ever be the same once she would be gone. SKE was going to change. But was it for better or for worse? How was management going to deal with the absence of one of the group’s figureheads?

Churi had to admit she was feeling somewhat insecure about the group’s future. And afraid that the pressure upon Jurina’s shoulders would become even heavier with the absence of the older Matsui by her side. Was she going to make it in her current fragile, emotional state? It had already been six months since she discovered the truth about Rena’s graduation. Much as the distance between them had been thankfully considerably reduced, she still was pretty much depressed. Churi could see it on a daily basis.

WMatsui had always been at it strongest when they were united. Together, it felt like nothing could stop them. And they had successfully managed to lead and represent the group during those eight last years. But what was going to happen now they would be separated? Did the group stand a chance? Would their relationship survive? 

As Churi heard TWO ROSES coming to an end, she lifted her gaze firmly in front of her, getting ready to receive the signal to step on stage at any moment. Unfortunately, she had no answer to those two questions. But, more than anything, she really hoped things were not going to fall apart for everyone after Rena’s departure. That was her deepest wish.







Kataomoi Finally had just ended when the SKE members entered the dressing room to change into a new outfit. They had been dancing for almost 45 minutes, and some girls - judging by the hair sticking to their face and cheeks colored pink - were definitely appreciating the respite more than others. Of course, they would never admit their tiredness out loud to anyone.

Rena barely had a second to breathe, considering how short their break was. She removed her previous dark red uniform in the blink of an eye, before gazing at the familiar plaid red and black costume of Kiss Datte Hidarikiki that was waiting for her on a hanger.

While putting on each piece of clothing one by one, she stole a glance at Jurina who was getting dressed by her side. She was startled when she discovered that she was a step ahead of her. Indeed, she already had her white shirt, grey tie, and plaid costume on. And was now sitting on a chair to put her long, black boots on over her stockings. So fast, Rena thought inwardly, impressed. When did she find time to do all this? They entered the room at the same moment, did they not?

No words were exchanged between them during the whole process. Jurina was very much focused on the task at hand, and Rena didn’t wish to disturb her during that moment. Instead, she let herself think back to the way the concert was going on so far. Everything had been going well until now, each song being executed one after another as she had planned. They were now half way through the concert and all the girls were doing a great job, a beaming smile plastered on their face throughout the whole time.

However, Rena picked up on the way Jurina’s features would sometimes darken when she found herself backstage between two songs. She knew that she was hiding her sorrow to the audience with a fake expression of joy. That fact was much obvious. She may have fooled the other members, she could see right through her.

Somehow, she guessed Jurina wasn’t enjoying herself one iota. From a very young age, Jurina had always loved being on stage and singing in front of an audience. Some girls liked doing photoshoots the most, others shooting in dramas or doing comedy on TV shows. Jurina was good at every aspect of her job, but she was definitely at her happiest when she was singing and dancing.

Today was definitely not the case. Considering how cautiously they avoided speaking about that day for months - and the pain it always caused the young Matsui when they had no choice but to talk about it - she figured Jurina wished to be anywhere else but here. In fact, she suspected that - if she had been given the opportunity to miss that particular concert - she would have seized it without a second of hesitation.

A few minutes before the concert started, Rena had gathered all SKE members around her and given a little speech. Her message was clear: they were to forget that it was a graduation concert, and act as if it was any other concert. She didn’t wish to see tears and sadness in their eyes. She wanted for everyone to enjoy themselves on stage.

Was it too selfish of her to ask for such a thing? She didn’t see this graduation concert as a painful moment. For her, June 22 only marked the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one. Much as she loved being in SKE during all these years, she was looking forward to what the future had in store for her.

All the girls seemed to have complied to her wishes. If they were feeling sad, then it was not showing on stage. And Rena wanted to make sure Jurina had a good time, even if for just a little while. It was the last time they would ever sing and dance together. Rena was relishing every minute of it, making sure that day would stay imprinted in her mind as a good memory. Somehow, she wished she could find a way for Jurina to feel the same.

Much as she searched her brain for a solution, none came to mind. What could she do or say to help Jurina leave her pain aside, even momentarily? Rena finished getting dressed, while pondering on it thoroughly. If she had admit, she was missing Jurina’s typical impatience mixed with excitation. Her never-ending cheerfulness. Even the small banter they would sometimes have backstage between two songs.

All of a sudden, Rena got pulled out from her thoughts when she heard Jurina letting out a light groan of frustration. She glanced back at her in curiosity, and suppressed a laugh when she discovered what she was doing. Jurina was now adjusting her hat on her head, her fingers moving it left and right, then up and down. And repeating the process over and over. A hint of nostalgia invaded her at the familiarity of the scene. She had witnessed such a moment so many times over the years.

Jurina failing to do her tie properly. Jurina struggling to find a right position for her hat. And so many other little things that made Jurina unique, and that Rena could list quite easily if someone asked her to describe SKE’s ace. No matter how hard Jurina tried to be a perfect idol, those moments brought out another truth. In the end, she was just a normal human being like everyone else, with its qualities and flaws. And she loved her for every one of them.

That’s why, for the time left, she wished nothing more than to have her Jurina back. The Jurina who would smile brightly on stage. The Jurina who would sing - and a few times shout to the audience - until her voice became too high-pitched for her to continue. The Jurina who would dance and run on stage energetically for two long hours, no matter how much her breathing became erratic over time and the sweat clearly visible on her skin. She wanted to see that Jurina again.

An idea suddenly popped up in her head when she gazed at the accessory that was currently rendering Jurina slightly mad. It was not something she had planned. In fact, she didn’t like last minute changes. Nor did Jurina. But if there was a chance it would help Jurina relax for at least a little, then she had to try. What did she have to lose?

“Jurina,” Rena addressed her when she was done adjusting her costume and satisfied with the decision she just made. A pair of startled eyes fell upon her, and she guessed the other girl must have been lost deep in her thoughts to be looking at her in such a way. She even noticed her jumping a little in reaction. “I’m going to do the final spin.”

“You are?” Jurina exclaimed in perplexity. “Why?”

“Because I want to,” Rena stated simply with a small shrug, refusing purposely to elaborate and grabbing the hat Jurina was still fiddling with. “And I’ll need that.”

Rena smiled when she noticed the look Jurina was giving her. Indeed, she was staring at her with a stunned expression, her mouth wide open. SKE’s ace may now be nineteen years old, she still sometimes had those very childish reactions. As a result, she couldn’t help but tease her a little. “Please close your mouth. You look like a fish.”

“Don’t… make fun of me,” Jurina protested in a mumble, looking away in discomfort. Until curiosity got the best of her again and she gazed back at Rena in expectation. “And what’s with the sudden change? Why do you want to do the spin? I thought you hated it?”

Rena giggled at all the questions she was being subjected to. Oh yes, Jurina had always been a very curious person. Unfortunately for her, she was very resistant. And decided to make it a surprise. “You’ll see. Just follow my lead on stage.”

Rena could see Jurina was about to formulate another question - obviously unsatisfied with her very evasive reply - but she didn’t let her time. She placed the hat on her head and turned on her heels, walking towards the door with determination. When she was about to turn the handle she took a peek over her shoulder, noticing Jurina still hadn’t moved an inch and was looking at her in complete confusion. Oh yes, this was going to be fun.

 





While waiting backstage for her turn to step on stage for Kiss Datte Hidarikiki, Jurina watched attentively the 13 kenkyuusei who were currently performing Oki Doki in the Nagoya Dome. She heaved a sigh of relief at the reassuring view. The young girls were doing great on the famously very energetic song. Her attention soon got caught by the young Ayuka, proud to see her mastering the choreography so well.

Memories of a clumsy and non-athletic Ayuka flooded her mind instantly, as well as the unfortunate way she treated the poor girl five months ago in the dancing room of the SKE theater. At the time, her bad mood led her to be very harsh towards her. Much too harsh. She still regretted her behavior to that day. However, no one could deny that the young girl had progressed a lot lately. She wasn’t behind the others anymore like before, although she apparently still lacked self-confidence.

Jurina remembered the short conversation she had with her only a few hours ago during the rehearsal of Rena’s graduation concert. The young girl looked so despondent, that Jurina couldn’t help but approach her in concern.

“What is it, Ayuka?” Jurina asked, resting her hand on her shoulder.

The young kenkyuusei - who was standing on stage and staring pensively at the empty seats of the Nagoya Dome - jumped in surprise at the sound of SKE’s ace voice. “Jurina-san!” But she was obviously hesitant to say what was troubling her, considering no words left her lips after that.

“You can tell me,” Jurina insisted softly. There were a few other members around, but they were too engrossed in their own work to bother listening to the conversation between the two girls.

“It’s just…” Ayuka started in a small, stammering voice. Her eyes met Jurina’s as she turned to look at her, but she wasn’t as intimidating as she expected her to be. In fact, she was giving her nothing but a gentle, reassuring look. A burst of confidence spread through her chest, prompting her to reveal what was occupying her mind. “I don’t want to miss a step.”

“Don’t worry about that,” Jurina replied immediately with a smile, now understanding things better. “I know this choreography is challenging and physically demanding, but you have worked on it for months. You’ll do fine.”

“Rena-san will never forgive me if it’s not perfect,” Ayuka replied in a faint whisper, looking away instantly. At the sound of Jurina’s small laugh, she gazed back at her in astonishment.

“Rena doesn’t want perfection.” Jurina shook her head lightly in amusement. “She wants you to do your best, and enjoy yourself. Especially today.”

Ayuka couldn’t help but notice the way the ace’s voice trailed off as she uttered her last words. In fact, even if Jurina was still looking straight at her, it seemed like she was already far away. Ayuka could indeed discern the sudden void in those usually so cheerful eyes. Until the light came back in them progressively when Jurina addressed her anew.

“I’m proud of all the work you’ve accomplished, Ayuka,” Jurina declared, squeezing her shoulder lightly. “You earned your place in this group as any other kenkyuusei. Never forget that you’re the future of SKE48.”

Ayuka nodded slowly, deeply moved by her senior’s words. She wanted nothing more than to thank her for her kindness but her mouth stayed shut, somehow too shy to say anything. She felt a light tap on her arm, until the older girl turned around and left. She didn’t know how long she watched Jurina’s retreating back but as she let the words sink in, her face lit up progressively in renewed admiration.


“You’re aware that Ayuka admires you a lot?”

The older Matsui’s words extracted Jurina from her reverie, and she tilted her head to look at the girl who was joining her by her side. “What? No.”

“Last Valentine’s Day, she came to me with those chocolates she had bought for you,” Rena started, recalling vividly this conversation in particular.

It was definitely not an isolated moment, nor the first time a younger member addressed her for that matter. In fact, it had happened several times over the years. When a girl was too shy to address Jurina directly, she came to talk to her. At first, she accepted the presents and gave them to Jurina the next time she saw her. Then, she decided to change tactics and refused them systematically. 

“Ayuka wanted me to give them to you. I told her she should give them to you in person,” Rena explained, remembering perfectly well the young girl’s dejected look at her reply. “I figure she never did, did she?”

“No, she never gave me any chocolate,” Jurina murmured, gazing back in astonishment at the designated girl dancing on stage. “I would have remembered it.”

“So many girls admire you.” Rena smiled in amusement. “But a lot of them are too shy to even think of approaching you.”

“I know, and I don’t always understand it,” Jurina admitted a bit helplessly. “There are many other seniors in the group. Why me?”

“You are someone they look up to,” Rena affirmed. “That’s why they will always follow you.”

Jurina could feel that there was a hidden message Rena was trying to convey behind her words. A message about her leading role in SKE. A message about the future of the group. But she didn’t want to think about any of this. She didn’t want to imagine a future in the group without Rena by her side. Unfortunately, it was very soon going to become a reality. Things had been set in motion the minute Rena announced her graduation publicly. Nothing could stop the inevitable now. And not even the feeling of Rena’s hand slipping inside hers managed to bring her some real comfort.







Jurina had to admit: she enjoyed doing the final spin on Kiss Datte Hidarikiki. Of course, there was always an unpredictability to this particular moment. Indeed, her position - and lips - never ended exactly at the same place, no matter how many times Rena and her rehearsed the choreography. To be honest, Jurina still didn’t understand why that kept happening. Was it because of Rena’s tangible nervousness? Or was it due to her own fear of accidentally kissing her lips during the process? She certainly didn’t want to go against her wishes again and make her mad.

Indeed, she had long ago stopped to try kissing her for real during that song. The older Matsui didn’t like the forced intimacy, and Jurina obliged when she asked her in 2012 not to do it again. Jurina even apologized for stealing - what she surprisingly discovered was - her first kiss. But, to be honest, the apology lacked a bit of sincerity. Back then, she had enjoyed very much her mischievous little deed. And the sight of Rena’s rosy cheeks and flustered expression was too cute to forget. 

Over the years their roles got reversed a few - but rare - times, Rena being the one to make her spin for a change. Jurina still wasn’t used to it. She believed their position was even more awkward when such an occurrence happened. And, according to Rena’s words, she preferred much more letting the younger girl do it anyway. That was why Jurina had no idea what got into Rena’s head to wish to do the final spin today.

Oki Doki
ended, and she stepped on stage with the other members for the performance of Kiss Datte Hidarikiki. The older girl had stayed awfully secretive about her out of the blue last minute change. She even stole her precious hat along the way and placed it over her head as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Well, she had to admit it looked good on her. Even so. Rena’s behavior didn’t make much sense to her.

As soon as the music started, Jurina put her thoughts aside and focused on the song. The group had performed this song so many times in the past, that it held no more secrets to her. Before she even realized it was already coming to an end. If she didn’t thankfully recall at the last moment Rena’s wish to do the spin herself, she would have definitely taken her position and done it without thinking. Out of pure habit.

Jurina wondered if it was the fruit of her imagination when they looked at each other, and she saw a somewhat mischievous smile upon Rena’s lips. She didn’t have time to assess it that the older girl had already grabbed her fingers and was making her spin. For the first time in a while, their steps weren’t as clumsy as usual. Jurina smiled to herself, thinking they were finally going to deliver a perfect performance. What she did not expect was to feel a pair of lips on hers.

It’s during those moments that time seemed incredibly slow. Jurina acknowledged the cheers coming from the crowd, and she wondered if the cameras had managed to capture the moment successfully. Usually, they filmed from the other side, and her hat helped conceal the fact that there was no real kiss involved.

Wait. Realization suddenly hit her. So that’s why Rena had taken her hat in the dressing room without letting her have a say in this? That’s what she planned all along when she asked to follow her lead? Her mouth tugged into an amused smile at what Rena was daring to do on stage. A warm, pleasant feeling spread through her chest instantly. She didn’t know when was the last time she managed to show such self-restraint. She wanted to kiss her back so badly.

However, she didn’t let her feelings cloud her better judgment. She didn’t know what was currently being projected on the two large screens. If they were lucky enough, the hat was doing its job and this intimate moment was carefully hidden from cameras. But maybe a camera was cleverly capturing everything from another angle. She couldn’t take that chance.

The melody of 1!2!3!4! Yoroshiku sounded in the stadium, and Jurina took it as her cue to leave. Indeed, other members of SKE were already waiting in position on the secondary stage, ready to unleash their overflowing energy on the cheerful song. Jurina felt Rena’s lips pulling away instantly, and she mimicked her actions by taking a step back from her.

Without a word, she followed the other members who were exiting the stage and moving towards the dressing room. When she saw Rena passing by her she grabbed her hand and gave it a little tug. The older girl halted and turned around to look at her. She was harboring a mischievous expression, and Jurina realized she had not imagined it at all earlier on. She let out a small laugh, and caressed gently the back of Rena’s hand with her thumb. “I liked the surprise.”

Rena reduced the small distance, and planted a loving kiss on her right cheek.







Jurina watched silently the older Matsui who was doing her solo Kareha no Station on the main stage. No matter how many times she heard her singing this song, she never got tired of hearing it. Yes, the lyrics were sad. And yes, Rena dreaded that solo very much the first years, never enjoying being left alone in front of an audience. But this song was made for her. The clothes, her soft voice as she sang the melody elegantly, and the simple but well executed choreography. Everything was perfect.

From her peripheral vision, Jurina noticed Churi approaching her side in her Cross outfit, but her eyes stayed glued on the performance. In two minutes she would be stepping on stage for her own solo CENTER, but for now on she gave all her attention to the older girl moving gracefully on stage. If she had to admit, she even felt her heart beating a bit faster inside her chest as she followed her every move attentively.

“Isn’t she beautiful?” Jurina murmured mind-absently, knowing only her dear friend by her side could hear her. Not that it would matter anyway if someone else caught her words. Her admiration for the older Matsui was never a secret to anyone.

“Yes,” Churi conceded with a smile. “It’s hard to imagine how uncomfortable she felt the first times she sang that song on stage, considering how natural she is at it.”

“Rena is a born actress,” Jurina admitted. “It makes sense she would wish to pursue this career.”

After that, both friends kept quiet during the rest of the performance, until Jurina saw her counterpart kneeling to take the suitcase. She took it as a sign to prepare herself. A staff member was already making the countdown with his fingers: 10 seconds left. Jurina adjusted her white hat on her head one last time.

She didn’t know why she always felt so nervous when she was aware that a certain pair of eyes would be watching her during her solo. Because, she had no doubt about it. Rena would be following her performance as soon as she would exit the stage, and she would take her place. That’s something the older Matsui had indicated her merely a few hours ago. It appeared Rena enjoyed watching her performing her solo as much as she loved watching hers.

Jurina tried not to think too much about it and repeated the choreography in her head, as well as the lyrics. Both that she - of course - already knew by heart. Jurina felt Churi giving her a light tap on the arm, and she knew her friend was trying to encourage her through this small gesture. Yes, she may have mentioned once or twice to her friend how edgy this solo could sometimes make her.

“Five seconds,” the staff member announced.

Jurina let out a small inaudible sigh and raised her gaze in determination. The cheers of the audience reached her as Rena left the stage, and she stepped in as soon as the first notes of CENTER sounded.

 





4.55 PM.

Rena faced the stadium that was now shouting her name endlessly. Yes, everyone was aware that Sore wo seishun to yobu hi marked the end of the concert. All the members were aligned a few meters behind her - their arms linked to each other - and were waiting for her to say her last words. Rena had prepared a short speech in anticipation for this moment but for now, she let her gaze wander around the stadium in appreciation.

Her hair was tied in a ponytail, and her loose red tee-shirt and pair of blue shorts were sticking to her skin because of all the accumulated sweat. So many songs came one after another during the last twenty minutes. It barely left them a second to breathe. But SKE48 was famous for its lively songs and energetic choreographies. So that’s exactly what she wanted to give the audience when she prepared the tracklist.

To be honest, her eyes moistened a little during the performance of Sore wo seishun to yobu hi. But how could it be otherwise? The lyrics were too close to home not to be affected by them. Tears were bound to fall each time members had to sing this song in particular. It happened in the past, and this time was no exception. Despite the fact she knew which reaction it would provoke, it was impossible for her to exclude it. So many members had said their goodbyes on this song. It was too emblematic for her to leave it aside.

Rena was aware that it was probably the last time she would ever stand on stage in the Nagoya Dome. That’s why she took her time to relish every second of it. She didn’t want to rush her goodbyes to the audience. They had been so faithfully devoted to her during all these years. They deserved to savor this moment. After all, it was the last time she would  be surrounded by her fellow members. And judging by certain desperate cries in the crowd, some people were definitely having a hard time accepting the truth.

Finally, when she considered her silence had lasted long enough, she raised the mic to her lips. Not a sound could be heard in the audience anymore, and all eyes were glued to the 24-year-old girl. Rena knew everyone was going to remember her last words forever. That’s why she had to make it count. “I cherish more than anything those eight years I spent in SKE48. I’ll always be grateful for my fans’ love and support.”

Rena made a pause and lowered her mic, a few people in the crowd taking this opportunity to call her name again. She nodded softly, acknowledging with a smile each word of support that reached her. Her eyes swept the stadium, taking in all the tee-shirts at her effigy. So many of her fans were present. The view was truly moving. It took her a lot of self-restraint to not let emotion take hold of her. She promised herself not to cry during her concert. She was adamant on keeping her word.

The air shifted and became a bit heavier when she turned her back to the audience to face the members. The beaming smiles they had harbored bravely during those two hours had now completely disappeared from their faces. Now, they were all looking at her with a seriousness that would have destabilized her, if she wasn’t already used to it after going through so many graduation concerts.

It was time for her to bid her farewell to her fellow members. Of course, there were a few girls she would keep contact with after today. But for the majority of them, this concert was the last time they would ever face each other. Rena couldn’t help but feel a bit nostalgic at the idea. But she didn’t regret for all that her decision to leave. Yes, she would feel a certain void at first. It was unavoidable. But she also knew it would soon be filled by something new and good. She had fulfilled one of her dreams. It was now time for her to reach her ultimate goal.

“Be assured that I’ll remember each one of you,” Rena declared, her eyes not leaving the girls once. She wanted to meet the gaze of each of them, but knew it was currently impossible. There were too many. And too little time left. That’s why she made herself the promise to have a word with each one of them once they would find themselves backstage.

Rena approached the mic to her lips again, preparing herself to say her final words. This is it. After that, she would pass the doors and it would be over. “You’ll forever be in my heart.” Her eyes stayed a little while longer on Jurina.

As they looked into each other’s eyes, Rena noticed those of Jurina moistening. Oh yes. The young girl was doing her best not to cry. And, surprisingly, she did not. Not even when Rena moved towards the large black doors of the main stage, and turned one last time towards the Nagoya Dome to bow to the audience. She sent the crowd one last smile of gratitude, until the doors closed on her progressively and the Nagoya princess disappeared from everyone’s sight.







TO BE CONTINUED
« Last Edit: December 13, 2017, 03:22:21 AM by sophcaro »
My WMatsui fanfics:

HEARTBEAT trilogy
- Heartbeat | Completed
- Partners | Completed
- Destiny | Completed

OTHER FANFICS
- Warriors | Ongoing
- Back in Time | Ongoing
- One Shot collection: Her Sun | Completed
- Fire and Water | On hiatus

Offline Genkikid

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20 END) + Partners (22/?) [WMatsui] (26/04/16)
« Reply #396 on: April 27, 2016, 08:30:17 AM »
My heart :mon cry: read the chapter and almost scream out of habit in the middle of a class.

Rena..... :pleeease: :pleeease:

Offline Janix123

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20 END) + Partners (22/?) [WMatsui] (26/04/16)
« Reply #397 on: April 27, 2016, 03:04:51 PM »
AN UPDATE!!! :mon squee: :mon squee:

RENA!! WHY YOU HAVE TO GRADUATE!!  :mon waterworks: :mon waterworks:

JURINA IS NOW ALONE BUT SHE HAS TO LEAD SKE.  :mon dunno: :mon dunno:

YEAY AIRI IS IN THE CONCERT. FURUYANAGI!!!  :mon XD: :mon XD:    WMATSUI!!! :mon lovelaff: :mon lovelaff:
Hehehe. I'm a person who can't help but love AKB48 Group. I'm a silent reader please treat me well. I'm the kind of person who gets crazy over my favorite pairings

 :wigglypanda: :onioncheer: :onioncheer: :onionwhip: :onionwhip: :cool1: :cool1: :onionwhip: :onionwhip: :onioncheer: :onioncheer:  :wigglypanda:

Offline Minami-chan

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20 END) + Partners (22/?) [WMatsui] (26/04/16)
« Reply #398 on: April 27, 2016, 11:05:33 PM »
Now certainly you are going to start the dramatic part.


T.T

Offline Darathon

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20 END) + Partners (22/?) [WMatsui] (26/04/16)
« Reply #399 on: April 29, 2016, 02:27:04 AM »
Mmm that update. Welp, it was cute yet meloncholic.

The graduation finally happened.
I fear what comes next :(
Atsumina and Wmatsui for life.
Takamina Oshi!!!

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