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Author Topic: A Young Girl's Odyssey [Epilogue ~COMPLETE~]  (Read 30639 times)

Offline rokun

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A Young Girl's Odyssey [Epilogue ~COMPLETE~]
« on: October 21, 2006, 01:13:37 AM »
Well, this is a story I started a while back. Some of you may have already read the first chapters. But... today I felt an urge come out of nowhere to begin writing it again, so I'm posting it here (in heavily edited form for content, etc. to stay within the rules and keep things pretty innocent :), as well as other whims I felt when re-reading it), to see if anyone enjoys it.

The young girl is a certain someone named Reina Tanaka, and this is where her modern odyssey begins...


Prologue: News

   “Could you bend over with your back straight as if you’re going to pick the flower? Yes, very good, hold there a moment and look into the camera…”

   Reina did as she was told, carefully holding her fingers just shy of the flower’s stem, and glanced over toward the cameraman. The large light held behind it was nearly blinding, but she was used to it by now, and barely flinched. She only narrowed her eyes in a way that made her look even cuter. She liked looking cute sometimes, but usually there were limits. Right now, she was very close to one of her limits.

   She was in a rather small botanical garden in Utsunomia. Since there were no buildings quite nearby, a good cameraman could find an angle for a picture of her where it would look like she was in a wide field, a far cry from the cramped garden they now stood in. Even though there were no set plans for a new photobook anytime soon, here she stood with her hair tied up with ribbons and a short white dress that was nearly transparent. As she bent over, she imagined her underwear would be showing beneath it, but tried not to think about it too much. She caught sight of one of the photographer’s staff standing near him. He was young, maybe just out of university, with unruly hair dyed a gleaming brownish with highlights. He had a nice curve to his face, too. As she looked back to the camera, she bent over a little more to its clicking. She supposed she wouldn’t mind him seeing a little of what was beneath her dress.

   The clicking seemed to stop, and she saw the camera lower. “Thank you, Reina. That’s all for this shoot. If you’d like to enjoy the gardens for a while, we’ll pick up again at the café this afternoon!”

   Reina nodded and stood up. She began turning to walk to her trailer, but caught herself for a moment. She bent down again and picked the flower that she had pretended to be about to pick a minute ago. Maybe that cute intern liked snapdragons.

   She looked around, but he was nowhere in sight, and she saw only some of the crew hurriedly packing up their equipment. They sure seemed in a hurry to get to lunch. Her stomach rumbled, and she realized how hungry she was as well. She shrugged and finally began her walk to the trailer, the flower still in her hand, the boy forgotten.

   As she was making her way carefully down the narrow path through the flowers, a staff member ran nimbly up to her. “Reina, there is a phone call for you. It’s on your cell. I left it on the counter next to your sink.” His voice seemed rather insistent and nervous. Had he not wanted to tell her about the phone call? He sure wasn’t eager about it.

   “Thank you, Nobuki,” she replied with a smile that she hoped didn’t look too fake. She stood still in front of him since he didn’t move, slightly tilting her head in his direction. “Are you heading back? I can’t pass you, or I’d step on the flowers.” The nervous man jerked as if in surprise before blushing and looking around.

   “Oh, I’m so sorry Reina! Yes, I’ll go now. The phone’s on your counter.” With a slight bow, he ran back off again ahead of her. She shook her head, wondering if any of the staff had any manners, before continuing walking herself.

   When she got to the trailer and closed the door, she laid the flower carefully on the bed before quickly beginning to undo the straps to her dress. She couldn’t wait to get back into her shirt and jeans. After she got the first strap undone, she picked up her phone before starting on the second.

   “Hello, this is Reina.”

   “There you are Reina. This is… this is Yossi.” Reina barely recognized the voice. It was deeper than usual and seemed very unsteady. Her speech was broken, as if she’d just been crying or something.

   “Hello senpai!” she chirped, slightly suspiciously. “What’s going on? Are you okay?”

   There was a pause before the voice on the other end continued. “Reina, there’s… been an accident.”

   “What do you mean? Is everybody all right?” The girls had accidents and injuries all the time, usually involving a rehearsal or food, so she didn’t develop much worry, finishing the last strap and beginning to pull it off. Yossi wouldn’t usually be calling her from a city away about it, though…

   “Reina… no… Everybody is… I’ve been trying to get in touch with everybody. Since this is a photo week, most of the girls are scattered all over Japan, like you. Only Aichan and Koharu were in town too, and… oh Reina, the accident… Miki’s dead.”

   “Hey, at least I didn’t go too far. I have a life, unlike some of the others.” She grimaced down at the dress in her hands before tossing it to the bed beside the flower. “I bet you though, that Aichan and Koharu are…”

   “Reina, did you hear me?” a bewildered voice interrupted from the other end of the line.

   “Of course I heard you,” Reina said, now getting frustrated. “I just don’t see why you’re…” She trailed off, as her mind finally registered what else her leader told her.

   “Reina?” came the voice from the phone. The girl addressed just stood there in her underwear, eyes glazing over slightly.

   “Reina?” The voice was more insistent this time.

   “Wha…” she started. “What… Miki?”

   Yossi now sounded like the frustrated one. “Yes Reina, Miki. She’s dead. She had a car crash while driving through Shibuya a couple hours ago. Please, I’m trying to get everyone to come back here. Everything’s kind of chaotic now, but… I suppose we’ll have to set up some kind of memorial and… and things like that. Now, I’ve gotta go. I still need to call Eri and Sayu. Just try to get back to the studio as soon as you can, okay?” There was a click as she hung up.

   Reina still stood, staring at the dress on the bed as if it were the most interesting thing in the world, still holding the phone to her ear. The red-tinted flower lying next to it gave it a sophisticated look, for all its thin white fabric.

   Someone knocked on the door. “Reina, are you ready yet? We’ll be leaving as soon as you are. The driver said he knows this great ramen shop down the street.” Reina didn’t move, fascinated by the dress.

   “Reina?” The door opened slightly, and the intern she picked the flower for stepped up into the trailer. His eyes searched for her for a moment, and then he blushed, spinning around in a blur. “I’m… I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were… Let us know when you’re ready!” He leapt out the door and closed it fast behind him.
   
   “What a pretty dress,” Reina said, brushing her hair with the phone. “I wish I had one like it.”
« Last Edit: October 05, 2007, 10:19:36 PM by rokun »

Offline rokun

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A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2006, 01:17:23 AM »
Chapter 1 – A Somber Evening at the Studio

   Reina stared out the window of the taxi as it crawled its way slowly down Tokyo’s streets. It would have to be toward the end of rush hour that she got back in town. The cloudy sky was beginning to darken as it drew toward dusk. The UFA building appeared amidst the tall buildings on either side, and she stared at it, an odd sensation inside her.

   She didn’t really remember how she got back to Tokyo except that she told the photographer something about an emergency that required her presence as soon as possible. It seemed the next thing she knew, she was in this taxi with all her luggage in the trunk and headed back to the studio. She doubted she’d remember the taxi ride once at the studio. Then she forgot that she doubted it.

   The taxi pulled up as if it was double-parking along the curb in front of the doors, and she slowly got out. The driver came around and asked if she wanted her luggage, but she told him to just hang out. As late as it was, she doubted they’d be there long before she’d go back to her hotel room.
   
   Once inside, she ignored the receptionist who, recognizing her, made no effort to obstruct her way. She went down halls and up elevators that were quiet at this time in the evening before she came to a door with a plate saying “Morning Musume” next to it. She pushed it slowly open and walked in, staring blankly around the large room inside.

   She heard nothing but suppressed voices sounding like mumbles around the room. Tsunku, along with some other suits, was speaking softly near the door to the inner offices. He glanced momentarily at her as she entered and nodded slight and slowly before returning to his conversation. Not many of the other girls were here yet, it appeared. Well, she supposed she was the closest of any of them. Koharu was in one corner and appeared to be crying softly. Yossi was there seemingly trying to comfort her. Aya sat on a bench against one wall, staring forward with wet eyes. Apparently this gathering wasn’t limited to only Morning Musume. Risa and Konkon huddled together as well, though their eyes didn’t seem as red. Reina wondered fleetingly where Makoto was before remembering that she was off in Australia somewhere. That might be too far away to even contact, much less fly back from in the night. Sayu and Eri didn’t seem to be here yet. She knew Eri, at least, had flown to Nagoya for her vacation and photo session. She probably wouldn’t get back until late this evening.

   Since everyone seemed to be absorbed in their own affairs, she walked slowly into the room, feeling a trifle lonely. She wished Eri was there, or at least Sayu. Yossi would attend to her, she was sure, but she seemed to have her hands full with Baby Girl. Reina had started calling Koharu that, partly out of spite since she was no longer the youngest and got all the attention that comes with the station.

   She looked around the room again. Where was Aichan? She was supposed to have been in Tokyo, so wouldn’t have even had to take the Shinkansen in. She’d even feel a little better if she was there. They’d shared a trailer from time to time since they did photoshoots at the same location occasionally, so became relatively close.

   Not wanting to be fully alone after a long train and cab ride in, she walked over and sat on the bench near Aya.

   “Nee, Aya-chan.”

   “Hey,” she responded after a moment.

   “How are you holding up?” The other girl looked at her without expression.
   
   After she turned away again, Reina looked down and spread her feet apart, knees together. She’d heard stories of how close Miki and Aya had been of course, especially considering GAM, so it wasn’t surprising that Aya was in a mood now. Frankly, she was surprised the girl even acknowledged her. She was still trying to sort out her own feelings about the matter.

   The door opened again and Ai walked in. Reina thought she looked a little nervous, and she was wearing plainer clothes than usual – just a pair of jeans and a shirt that said “Underground” in roman letters. Looking closer, Reina saw that it was an advertisement for some skateboarding video game. The girl looked around at the somber tone in the studio and some of her nervousness seemed to drain away. She caught Reina’s eye for a moment and gave a small smile before heading over to join Risa and Konkon. Reina sighed.

   “So what have you been up to today?” she asked the girl sitting next to her, not expecting an answer. She ground her toe into the floor a little.

   “It was my day off,” Aya suddenly murmured. Reina paused her toe’s grinding and glanced over at her, narrowing her eyes in surprise at the response. “I was at Hakone, enjoying a maitai in the spring. Then my attendant came up with my phone…” She started sobbing slightly. “Mikitty was going to come, but something came up this morning. She said she had to work. It didn’t really look like she wanted to go, and I bet she would have gone had I insisted, but I didn’t…” Tears began streaming down her face. “I should have pushed her more…” she whined after a moment’s hesitation. “She needed a vacation.”

   Reina grimaced, feeling uncomfortable watching one of her senpai breaking down next to her. She awkwardly patted the girl’s back. “Don’t talk like that,” she said softly. “It’s not your fault.” Aya sniffed and laid her head on Reina’s shoulder. Reina even more awkwardly left her arm around her and patted her other shoulder. And she just wanted to not be alone. Good going, Reina. Way to show your sensitive side. She looked around. Some of the others were looking their way now, most notably the Gokkie group. They were whispering to each other, and Ai seemed to be studying her closely. Reina restrained herself from rolling her eyes.

   “I should have insisted on her going,” Aya continued redundantly. “I was enjoying the spa and a tropical drink while Mikitty was… while she was…” Her voice, angry at the start of the comment, trailed off at the end as she fell into tears again, wrapping her arms tightly around Reina. Reina was now very uncomfortable, but she resolved herself in regard to her situation. Nobody else was stepping forward to take over. Yossi was watching the door from next to Koharu, probably waiting for the arrival of the last girls. She hadn’t moved from that spot except to give Aichan an irritated lecture about being late to something serious like this. Even though Konkon and Risa had turned back to focus on their conversation, Ai was still staring over at Reina, who gave her a twisted smile while the shoulder of her shirt was getting soaked by Aya’s tears. Ai cocked her head slightly and turned back to the other two. Reina occupied herself with watching the movement of Ai’s lips. She always thought the girl had pretty lips. She smacked hers together unconsciously.

   “It wasn’t your fault, Aya-chan,” she repeated in a mumble since the girl’s ear wasn’t far from her mouth. “You know how Miki is. She gets something in her head and it’s hard to sway her. You of all people know that. And anyway, it was an accident.” She was just speaking her thoughts, and hadn’t realized she’d adopted almost a lecturing tone toward the end.
   
   Aya raised her head and looked hard into Reina’s eyes before breaking out into louder sobs. She pulled sharply away from Reina and jumped up from the bench, running off. Staring after her, Reina realized she was headed to the toilet. “What…” she said dumbly to herself. “Was it something I said?”

   Yossi saw Aya run off and swerved her gaze to give Reina a hard look. She began to stand, but apparently decided against it and rejoined Baby Girl. People sure were acting strange tonight.

   Reina wondered what she should do now that she was sitting alone against the wall. Nothing came to her mind. She just sat there and picked at the hem of her shirt. At least she was comfortably in her baggy shirt and jeans now.

   She didn’t know how much time passed, but Aya still hadn’t come out of the toilet when the door opened again and a wary looking Eri and Sayu stepped through. Reina brightened up at that. Finally, someone who might do more than ignore her or give her dirty looks. Eri noticed her but didn’t smile, and stopped walking, hesitating with her eyes on Reina while Sayu whispered something into her ear. Eri nodded and Sayu walked over toward Baby Girl and Yossi. Eri just stood there a minute looking at Reina, who looked back at her with just as little expression. Reina just realized how much she reflected the people around her sometimes.

   Aya came out of the toilet, some tissue in her hand, though her reddened eyes seemed drier. She looked over at Reina for a moment. What was this? Stare at Reina night? Thankfully Yossi, having left Baby Girl in Sayu’s capable hands, walked up to Aya and began speaking lowly to her. Aya turned her attention away from Reina. She felt the bench quiver a little beneath her and turned to see Eri now sitting next to her.

   “Hi,” Eri said, looking at her with that innocent expression that Reina didn’t think anyone could produce better.

   “Hi yourself,” Reina said, maybe a little ruder than she would have liked. Eri’s hurt look did quite enough to rebuke her, though. “I’m sorry,” she said quickly, touching the girl’s arm lightly. “The mood in here…” She looked over at Aya, who was nodding to something Yossi said to her in a quick voice. “It’s just getting to me a little I guess.”

   “It’s okay,” Eri said quietly. “I guess we all have the right to be a little grumpy today.” She looked earnestly up at Reina. “How are you doing apart from that?”

   Reina smiled in spite of herself. It was nice having someone actually interested in her. “Oh I’m all right… I guess.” Eri poked her in reaction to the uncertainty in her voice. “Well,” she continued, squirming a little, “After I got Yossi’s phone call I kind of spazzed out and the next thing I knew I was brushing my hair with my cell in my underwear.” Eri giggled, and Reina blushed a little.

   When she finished giggling, Eri cleared her throat. “Sayu and I were walking around the castle when her phone rang. She’d forgotten to turn it off before we went inside. The guide sure didn’t look too happy, at least until he found out what the call was about. Then he just looked guilty.” The two girls giggled again, a bit louder this time.

   A cleared throat brought them out of their chatter, and they looked up to see Yossi standing near them, seeming to draw up to her full height. Aya stood a ways beyond, looking nearly scandalized. “Is there something funny, you two? Care to share it?” The smiles vanished from the two seated girls, and they stood up quickly to bow slightly.

   “No, senpai,” Eri said smoothly. “There’s nothing we’d like to share.” She snuck a look to Reina, who nearly snorted under her breath.

   “I would think you two would want to show some respect. After all, Fujimoto was a good friend to all of us.”

   Reina felt slightly chastised at the mention of Miki’s name, and she could tell by Eri’s deepened bow that she did as well. Then, however, something seemed to flash in her head. She raised it to look their honorable leader in the eyes. “With respect, senpai, the attitude everybody seems to have in here would make a clown cry. I’m sure we all take Miki’s accident very seriously and deeply. In fact, I was just telling Eririn about how deeply I was affected myself after your call. However, moping around like this isn’t going to do any of us any good. We are Morning Musume after all, aren’t we? Isn’t our job to make people happy? Why do we have any business doing that if we can’t even be happy ourselves, even at times like this? We’ll honor Miki at the right time, but will it hurt anything to have the best spirits we can now? I’m sure Miki wouldn’t have wanted us bawling our eyes out all the time over her. She’d call us fools and try to knock some sense into us.”

   Yossi seemed to think about interrupting her when she started, but by the end of her rant she just stood there with her mouth hanging slightly open. Aya was looking hard at her from her spot further back, though not in the stricken sense as before. The rest of the room’s attention was on her as well, and she felt as if people were looking at her with mixed emotions.

   Yossi stared for a moment before she spoke lightly. “Er, yes, well… I’ll leave you girls be then. Carry on.” She turned and walked back to Aya, holding her composure well, though Reina thought she didn’t look quite as tall as she did when she approached them. Aya held her eyes a moment longer and gave her a small smile before turning away to walk along with Yossi.

   Reina, feeling a little flushed, turned her head slowly toward Eri, who was staring at her with wide eyes. Reina coughed, restraining herself from wiping sweat from her brow.

   “Well,” Eri said simply. “You always were the one to speak your mind.” She turned to sit back down on the bench, but not before casting another glance Reina’s way. Reina saw through the glance that she was impressed, but she tried to hide it well.

   Reina fell to the bench, not even looking at where she landed. Her butt hurt at the fall, but she didn’t really care. “Yeah,” she said, mustering up as much will as she could. “That’s right.” The girls fell once more into fits of giggles.

   A few minutes later, they heard a loud cough from the corner of the room. Tsunku had parted from the suits and stepped forward to address them. “Now that we’re all here,” he began, “Take whatever time you need to sort out things among yourselves, and then I want you all to get a good night’s rest. Take the morning as well, and we’ll gather in the afternoon for the wake and to discuss memorial preparations. I must also ask you to please, if you encounter anyone from the press or any other outside entity, not say a word. You’ll have escorts that will hopefully prevent that, but for now at least we want any official comment to come from public relations. I know how you all must be feeling, but we’ll all get through it together.” He looked over at Reina. “Until then, do whatever you need to ease your hearts and souls. I’ll see you in the afternoon.” With that, he smiled encouragingly at the girls and exited the room with the suits.

   “Do you want to head to the hotel?” Reina turned to Eri at her question. She looked almost eager for some reason.

   “No, I’d like to stay here for a bit. I want to see what the others do.” Eri nodded slowly, and Reina turned back to the room. The girls were beginning to mingle among themselves more. Apparently Reina’s and Tsunku’s speeches had broken some spell over them all. A few of them cast glances their way as if to approach, but none of them did yet. Ai stared thoughtfully at her, and she smiled back. Apparently if they were to talk to any of the others, they’d have to do the approaching.

   “Come on, Eri, let’s go see how they are.” Eri stood up with her and took her arm, and they headed over toward Yossi, Aya and Baby Girl. It was going to be a long few days, maybe even weeks or months, but those days seemed just a little brighter now.

Offline rokun

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A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2006, 01:25:40 AM »
Chapter 2 - Sabishikunai

Reina and Eri quietly made their way up to their hotel rooms with Sayu and Baby Girl. They all had rooms in the same area, but apart from that, they only seemed to dwell in their shared grief.

It wasn’t too long after Tsunku’s statement that the girls began leaving. Reina and Eri had checked in with the two girls they now walked with, and spoke a little with the others too. Aya had once more seemed grateful to Reina, though Reina wasn’t too sure if that was necessarily a good thing. Even though she was more pleasant, though, there was an undeniable sadness that Reina could recognize came from deep within. That must be what it feels like when you lose a best friend. She glanced over at Eri a moment while they rode the elevator to their floor. Eri smiled back, though adopted a more uncomfortable look at what she saw in Reina’s eyes.

The elevator dinged their floor, and they stepped out into the hall, still in silence. They’d also talked a little with the 5th gen group, who seemed mostly concerned with catching up with Konkon after not seeing her in so long. Both Risa and Konkon were doing well at holding back tears, and Ai seemed hypersensitive for some reason. She had stared at Reina and Eri as they walked toward the group before the others even noticed them. When they spoke, she seemed a little pre-occupied. The years she’d been sharing the spotlight with Miki must have brought them closer than anyone realized. Thinking along those lines, Reina decided Ai might have been the closest to Miki apart from Aya. Yossi was closer to Miki’s age but… for some reason, the two never seemed to get along that well. The more Reina thought about it, the more she realized how much of a loner Miki really had been in the group. She began feeling sorry for that. Then she remembered Miki was now gone and felt even worse.

Sayu and Baby Girl reached their room and bowed their goodnights before heading in and closing the door. Usually the four of them, and maybe even others, would get together and have a small party until they needed to sleep. Staring at the closed door, Reina thought everyone must want some time to themselves tonight.

A touch on her arm brought her a little out of her trance. “Reina?” Eri asked quietly. “You coming?” Reina nodded, and they crossed the hall to their door.

When they entered their room, Reina noticed that her luggage had already been brought up, so she set down her bag and plopped into the comfortable couch, pulling up her legs to fold beneath her and becoming quite pensive.

After a moment, she felt a presence next to her. She slowly turned her head and noticed Eri sitting close. “Are you all right?” Eri asked earnestly.

“Yeah,” she replied. “I’m just thinking about some things.” She caught Eri’s interested gaze. “It’s almost funny seeing how everyone reacts to something like this. You get to see sides of people that you never thought might be there.” She leaned closer to Eri, because she at least was comforted by not being alone right now. “It just makes you wonder. We spend all this time together, and feel that we’re friends… but it’s still a relationship through work, and not because we came to like each other casually. Take us for example.” She looked up into Eri’s face. “You and Sayu and I hang out together because we joined Morning Musume at the same time. We don’t hang out with the other girls as much. I like to think sometimes that I’m friends with them, but times like this make me realize that I may not be. Then I think of you and Sayu, and think that we are only together by the coincidence of age and joining at the same time, and realize just how lonely I might really be.

“When we were in the studio earlier, seeing everyone else… Aya-chan seemed so distraught. As a soloist, she doesn’t have the opportunity to get as close with other girls, and the one girl who she actually was able to share a lot of time with is gone now. Aside from what she feels about Miki herself being gone, I’m sure she also felt so lonely in that room. She came to me, she came to Yossi… and you know how well she and I know each other at least.”

Eri nodded. “I think it’s great that you were there for her. You didn’t have to be that nice to her, but you still were.” She smiled and laid a hand on Reina’s arm.

Reina gave a small grateful smile in return. “Thank you, Eririn. Still, you know what I mean? It’s like we’re trains roaring down the lines at full speed past each other. We work together to take people places whether it’s literally doing that or giving them the entertainment they need, we share the same tracks at times, and we rest at the same stations, but when we’re close we can never be on the same track, and in the end, we say good-bye on our own.” She felt her eyes moistening slightly. She thought of the countless graduations they’d had through the years. Maki left to go on her own. Even though it was before she joined, she was still a fan and knew what happened. Kei left, Nacchi left, Rika, Kaori… Konkon and Mako-chan left nearly together, but took different paths afterward. Nono and Aibon were the only exception, and look where they ended up the past year. Aibon finally returned from her leave, but their duo is still in shambles, and the rest are just left wondering when they’ll finally give up. “It makes me realize that I’m the same way. It’s a way of life here.”

She sniffed. Then she realized the warmth that was beside her. Eri had nestled up closely so that their bodies never parted down their lengths, and she had an arm around Reina. She then spoke in what was barely more than a whisper, “I feel like I’m alone sometimes, too.” She looked Reina carefully in the eyes. “But then I think of Sayu, and I think of you, and I realize that what we have is more special than just the coincidence of joining at the same time. Maybe it’s just us, and you’re right that nobody else feels it…” she trailed off wistfully, “…but I know that we do have a bond that’s something special.” She licked her lips nervously, still looking into Reina’s eyes. Reina looked back, feeling anxious as well. What she saw in the dark pools of Eri’s eyes though was an innocence and sincerity and… affection? …that she’d never seen in someone before. In the silence between them she could hear the beatings of their hearts, which seemed to constantly accelerate as it deepened.

For some reason, she thought of the intern she met in the gardens at that photo shoot. She didn’t know what happened to him because of the chaos Yossi’s call caused, but she remembered the feelings he caused in her. She really thought of herself as quite a flirt, but nothing ever came of it. Nothing ever could, really. She thought of the snapdragon she wanted to give him but of course never had the chance to. She still had it, carefully placed within her luggage…

Those memories passed through her mind in the span of a second, and she came back to herself and to the girl who was sitting beside her sharing her gaze so strongly. In her periphery she studied the curves of the girl’s face, her defects, her perfections. Even though she loved to flirt, it was always directed to some boy or another, whether a cute idol from a boy band or a cute intern. She knew, or at least thought, that she didn’t have any close friends. However, now she was feeling something inside of her different than she’d known before. Maybe it started with her grief. Maybe it grew from her unsatisfied desires, those desires that couldn’t be satisfied no matter how much they gnawed at her. They couldn’t, right?

She stared back into those eyes which looked into her own with such varied emotion that she knew hers reflected. They’d been through so much, and have so much more to come. She told Yossi earlier why they have a right to be cheerful, even through this time of respect to Miki’s memory. After all, as she said, being cheerful is respecting her memory, isn’t it? Sometimes, you have to listen to what’s inside of you.

She smiled at Eri. Her breathing quickened, and she could feel Eri’s own warm breath on her face. They’d gotten closer than she realized. Confidently, she raised her arm and reached for Eri’s hand, taking it in her own. “Eririn…” she said slowly, in what was barely more than a gasp. Lost in the moment, not fully aware what was going on, she didn’t realize how it really sounded, and Eri licked her lips again, a bead of sweat glistening above her brow before sliding slowly down her cheek. She felt her hand being squeezed by Eri’s, and the next thing she knew was the touch of Eri’s lips being pressed to her own.

Reina froze dumbstruck for a moment as their lips held the soft embrace. She didn’t know what she was expecting, but she wasn’t expecting that. Or was she? Her mind clouded; she couldn’t form anything resembling a coherent thought. All she knew was the warmth and tenderness of Eri’s body and skin against her own. Eri’s lips moved against hers as if trying to caress them, but they were sealed, and Reina only felt the sweat of Eri’s nervousness. What was she doing? Then she realized… Eri must not know how to kiss! There’s no reason she would, Reina supposed, somehow forming a thought at the awkward disruption of the mood. Well, too bad she couldn’t say the same for herself.

After what seemed like a long while and all too short, Reina found herself lying on the couch, arms wrapped around Eri, who was lying face-to-face with her. Suddenly, calming down, she seemed to realize the situation she was in and what she had just done, and blushed deeply.

“Reina, are you all right?” Eri asked, some concern seeping into her voice.
   
She nodded and responded confidently, “Yeah. I was just realizing something.”

Eri nuzzled her face against Reina’s own a little. “Realizing what?”

Reina ran her fingers along Eri’s side idly before responding, “Just how beautiful you are, silly.” She kissed Eri’s nose, and the other girl giggled again. However, the giggling faded after a moment and Eri shifted a bit and turned around with her back against Reina, pushing back against her, her arms folded in front.

“Thank you, Reina,” Eri said softly to the room, cuddling back into her.

Reina wrapped her arms around the girl and raised her lips to her ear. “For what?”

Eri turned her face up to look into Reina’s. “It felt really comforting being with you just now. It makes me realize that I really do have at least someone who cares about me and who I can get through this time with.” She smiled. She really did have the most beautiful smile, Reina thought, and it was even still so innocent. Eri lifted her head to kiss Reina softly again, and Reina responded tenderly, holding her tightly. Yes, it was nice to learn that she may not be alone.

Offline rokun

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A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2006, 01:31:38 AM »
Chapter 3 – Fond Farewells

It was a hard week leading up to the memorial for Miki. It wasn’t hard in the sense of work, but emotionally Reina felt drained to her limits. After her intimate night with Eririn, all the girls quietly went about whatever business they might have had before the wake that afternoon. She spent time mostly with Eri, Sayu, and Baby Girl, and it seemed that whenever any of them looked at her she couldn’t stop herself from blushing. Sayu and Baby Girl thought it was just Reina being Reina and so didn’t think much on it, but Eri, thinking she knew what it was about, didn’t let it go so lightly. In fact, at one point after lunch, Eri took her aside and asked her if something was wrong. She denied anything of the sort.

The wake itself passed with tears spread all around, so she didn’t have time to think of anything else. Along with the other girls, friends, and family, she passed by the portraits solemnly hung at the place of honor. They were different from the cute or sexy or whatever poses she generally saw Miki take for work. In these pictures, provided by her family, she saw the girl as she was, as a normal person, not as the idol that everyone else knew her as. She wondered if she even knew Miki for who she really was. She wondered if she really knew anyone around her like that. She blushed again. She really had to stop doing that.

As she left the portraits, she overheard conversation concerning why Miki’s body itself wasn’t there, since apparently that was the normal thing for wakes. She wouldn’t know, since she’d never been to one before. The staff being asked responded uncomfortably that her body was still needed for investigation of the accident, but also slipped in that it might be better that they don’t see the body after what happened to it, and would the questioner like a drink? Reina stopped listening after that.

During the hour she was there, she hugged seemingly every member of the Hello! Project; at least, aside from the kids, who apparently someone thought shouldn’t come to something like this. Everyone else seemed as depressed as she felt in this atmosphere, except for a few who seemed to have a lot on their minds. One of those she was sure was herself after last night and how she’d felt today, except strangely, Eririn didn’t seem affected at all. She even seemed happier than most of the others. Reina was glad of that, she supposed. For all of that though, they made sure to keep their distance during the day, since they didn’t want anyone to get any ideas. Sayu seemed to look at her strangely as time went on, though…

Aya was there, but seemed in a trance the whole time, only sitting in a chair in the front row and staring at Miki’s pictures through most of the gathering. Nobody dared to ask her to move from that spot, even Miki’s family, but several of the girls attempted to offer some comforting words and gestures. Reina did too after how Aya opened up to her the day before, but Aya’s seeming inability to appear anything but completely distraught soon drove her away. She felt bad about that, but she kept telling herself she did what she could. She figured nothing would help the poor girl right now, anyway. She gazed over at Eri talking softly with some of the other girls and swallowed at the smile she returned after noticing the look.

The other girls were as she’d expect. Risa and Baby Girl were as genki as always, though in a subdued way in respect to the environment. Makoto apparently couldn’t fly back here yet, but Reina supposed she’d come at least for the memorial whenever it happened. Ai and Konkon kept to themselves mostly, though talked with the others from time to time like the rest of them. Konkon seemed conflicted between happiness at seeing them all again and the sadness of the occasion, while Ai just seemed uncomfortable being there. She also always seemed to know when Reina was looking her way, because she’d always give her a hard look in return. Reina didn’t hold that look for long, and in fact, kept her distance from the girl as much as she could. Yossi, Maki, Nacchi, Kaori, and several of the others in turn asked Reina if she was all right, to which Reina always nodded her assurances, but otherwise just chatted among themselves.

Near the end, they all gathered together in the seats, though no one sat next to Aya, and representatives of their management and Miki’s family gave short comments and told them of the memorial to be held in about a week’s time. At the very end, when Miki’s family left, Tsunku stood and told the girls that they should go spend the next week until the memorial with their families and come back rested and ready to get back to work once it was done. Some of the older girls thanked him and seemed eager about the chance to spend so much time at home. Reina shared a look with Eri and hugged the younger Musume before heading out herself.

It wasn’t a bad week at home, though Reina had a hard time thinking about anything other than Miki and Eri, and for very different reasons. Her family was wonderful to her and catered to her every need, just happy to have her with them and to help her through what they knew was a hard time. She had long discussions with her mom about death and the wonders of the human soul. Reina thought she was trying to share her experiences with her daughter so she’d feel better, and just maybe understand better something she hadn’t thought about much before. Afterwards, she thought she probably did.

On the day of the memorial, she caught the train back into Tokyo and arrived just in time for the ceremony. Everyone looked well-rested just as Tsunku hoped, in fact more rested than Reina thought she’d ever seen some, although a few, including Sayu, Baby Girl, Ai, and Aya, looked like they hadn’t slept at all. Reina supposed everyone dealt with it in their own way.

The memorial was held in a small park near Ginza. They wanted to make it pseudo-public, Reina imagined, for the publicity it might generate, but security tape and police officers scattered around the perimeter made sure that no one who wasn’t actually invited was able to disturb the proceedings. Thankfully, the crowd of mostly young to early middle-aged men that had developed outside the lines was keeping respectfully silent. Looking around at the activity inside the lines though, Reina thought there might be another reason for having the memorial in a park. As she surveyed the rows of chairs lined up from near the podium, she wondered if that many people would even fit into a building.

After a moment she saw Eri arrive and couldn’t stop herself from smiling, though Sayu ran up to her and pulled her away before she noticed Reina was there.

“That’s a cute pout you’ve got there Reina-chan,” someone said from beside her. “I thought we were the only ones allowed to do that?” She turned and was surprised to see someone shorter than her standing near.

“Airin-chan!” she said happily, and lightly touched the arm of the c-ute girl next to her. “How are things going for you guys?”

“Not too bad,” the fellow Aa! member replied. “We’ve been busy in our tour with Berryz, as I’m sure you can imagine. I wish they’d feature me more though…”

Reina laughed and patted the girl’s head. Airi shrunk down a little and giggled herself. “Well, I think I’d better go up to Tsunku and tell him to feature my little sister more! He’s stupid not to recognize how special you are!” While they were laughing, they didn’t notice someone else had come up within arms-length of them.

“Tanaka… Reina?” an official-sounding male voice asked, and the two girls’ laughter died out before Reina turned to see who it was. Before them stood a somewhat tall, middle-aged man in a dark suit and unbuttoned trenchcoat. He wore sunglasses beneath his thick wavy hair and clutched a notepad in his hand.

“Yes, that’s me,” Reina said quietly.

“Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?” he asked, and looked over and down at Airi. “Alone.” He gestured Reina off to the side of the clearing.

“Um… ok,” Reina responded, and glanced apologetically to Airi before heading off with the strange man. When they got to a spot out of earshot of others, Reina whirled around to him and asked suspiciously, “So who are you anyway?”

“I’m Detective Kitamura,” he answered patiently, brandishing some kind of badge almost too quickly for Reina to catch a glimpse of it. “I just have a few short questions for you. I promise it won’t take long.” Reina stood puzzled and no less suspicious for a moment before deciding she’d at least hear what this “detective” had to say.

“On the day Miss Fujimoto… Sorry for your loss by the way… On the day she was killed, as I’m sure you know, she was driving a car through Shibuya. Do you know anything about what she had planned to do that day?”

Further deciding she would amuse the fellow, Reina responded, “Well, I was off at the time doing a photo shoot in Utsunomiya, so I of course can’t say anything for sure, especially about what she might have been doing right when she had her… accident… but a friend told me she was called into work that day. They were supposed to do something together, but apparently Miki cancelled because of that call.” The detective seemed to write notes smoothly as Reina spoke, and she kept an eye on his pen the whole time.

“This friend,” he continued, looking back up at her, “Who was it?” This time, Reina looked oddly at the detective before responding.

“Why are you so interested? It was just an accident, wasn’t it? Why the serious investigation?”

“Miss Tanaka, I assure you, everything is well in order. Even in incidents like that which happened to Miss Fujimoto there must be a thorough investigation into the circumstances. For insurance purposes, of course.” Reina didn’t think he sounded too convincing, but their conversation was disrupted suddenly by a very upset-looking manager of theirs, Mr. Shuyen.

“Kitamura!” It almost seemed he wanted to yell, but did his best to restrain himself. Reina was glad of it with respect to where they were. “I told you detectives not to come to this memorial! These girls have enough to deal with today without having to worry about answering your pointless questions. In fact, I’d prefer that you stay away from the girls totally from now on. There’s nothing they could know about anything and… Ahh! What am I saying! There’s nothing to even know anything about! Just let Fujimoto’s accident go and leave us in peace.”

Kitamura greeted Shuyen smoothly with a flourish and bow. “Shuyen-san, as you well know, this is an official police investigation, and we need to survey anyone who might know something about circumstances surrounding…”

“I don’t care!” Shuyen interrupted. “These girls have gone through enough. Let them mourn and honor the untimely death of their comrade. I mean it. If I catch any of you around them once more…” He glared threateningly at the detective, a look Reina was glad she wasn’t the one receiving. You know, this is a good homage to Miki… she thought wistfully.

Kitamura, however, did not look fazed. “All right, then. I’ll leave you all be.” He gave a piercing, but not unkind, look to Reina before turning away. “I’m truly sorry for your loss. Please, keep your spirits strong.” As he walked away, Reina stared after him. Maybe she had judged him too quickly. Still, she didn’t understand…

“Tanaka-san,” Shuyen said firmly to her, bowing. “I apologize for any discomfort that man caused you. Detectives have been harassing us all week for information on the crash. I promise you though, they won’t bother you any more.” With that, he gently took her arm and guided her back to the gathering area. As she looked around, she noticed that apparently she had developed quite an audience. Airi was looking her way, along with several of the other younger girls. Ai was also, as always, along with Risa, though Konkon didn’t seem to be paying her any mind. Sayu, Eririn and Baby Girl gazed at her approach while talking, but with varied expressions. Eririn seemed almost to want to run to her, giving her a look of warm worry, while Sayu looked like she’d eaten a sour grape. Baby Girl just looked like there was nothing between her ears. Nothing uncommon really, though she’d have to find out what had gotten Sayu’s pigtails in a knot.

Shuyen left her near the chairs, bowing his farewell, and walked back to join the other officials. Since no one seemed excited to approach Reina, she thought she might as well see what was up with Eri and Sayu. On the way, however, a soft hand grabbed her arm and made her stop in her tracks.

“Who was that you were talking to?” asked Aya. When Reina turned to look at her face, she saw in it a flurry of emotions fighting for dominance.

“I don’t know,” Reina lied. “Some guy who wanted an autograph. I’m just glad Shuyen-san was there to shoo him away.”

“I see,” Aya said with a mysterious voice. “I was just worried…” She paused, looking to the side for a moment. “I heard there have been some detectives asking around about Mikitty’s accident, and I worry that they might have moved on to questioning even us.” She seemed to grind her fingertips into her palm as she went on, “I hope they just leave us alone. Mikitty deserves better.”

After a moment, she looked up at Reina and widened her eyes as if coming out of some sort of trance. “Oh! Reina, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to go on like that. I’m… I’m sorry. I’ll leave you be…” After that, she walked off quickly, apparently fighting back tears. That poor girl… Reina thought pityingly.

Before she could go on thinking, however, three girls walked up and greeted her. “Hello Reina!” Eri said almost cheerfully, before restraining herself unsuccessfully. Reina smiled at seeing her friend’s… her lover’s, she supposed, though that sounded strange… cute face.

“Hi Eririn!” She gave the other girl a hug. So as to remain circumspect, she hugged Baby Girl as well, along with Sayu, though winced as she thought she felt the last girl’s nails dig into her back. Well, someone was happy to see her.

“Hello Reina,” Sayu said with a fake smile. Reina thought nothing of it though, since Sayu was an expert at fake smiles and fake well… almost anything, so it was nothing unusual once again.

“What happened with that guy?” Eri asked curiously. Baby Girl looked at her curiously, too. Ahh, to be young and naïve… Reina thought, unconsciously tilting her head while showing a wistful smile. It seemed she’d have to work harder on her lover.

“Oh nothing,” she said. “It was just… you know.” The other girls nodded knowingly, although Reina was sure they had absolutely no clue what she might be implying. It really was great to have friends like this. “So how was your time with your families?”

At the question, Baby Girl began talking as if she wouldn’t stop, and although Eri and Sayu did their best to act interested even though Reina was sure they’d heard the stories at least five times already, Reina’s mind drifted out into the warm spring air. It’s not like the youngest girl was even paying attention to her anyway. Once she started telling her stories, nothing existed but the words coming out of her own mouth.

A slight commotion from across the way caught her attention, and she watched as Aya and the fifth gens began to get into some kind of argument. She hoped Aya wouldn’t get herself into too much trouble with her moodiness today. Maybe it was best that she stay with the older group… They were more likely to sympathize with her, at least. She really did feel for the girl, and had felt closer to her since the accident for some reason, but there was only so much she could do. Sometimes she just wished she was older.

“And then, Nee-chan and I went to the park and picked these beautiful flowers! You wouldn’t have believed them! I swear they were two meters tall and were yellow as the sun! Oh, and then…” A fragment of Baby Girl’s story entered Reina’s mind, though it quickly died out once more as she continued gazing dazedly at the group of older girls arguing together.

Apparently they didn’t come to any agreement, because after a moment Aya just raised her chin and walked off. Gaki-san looked like she was in mid-sentence at the time and almost followed Aya before Konkon hurriedly pulled her back. Aya was headed over toward the older group. Reina was thankful for that. However, when she looked back at the fifth gen girls, Ai was staring at her once again. Seriously, what was up with that girl lately? Reina always thought she was strange, but her recent behavior really took the cake. She whispered something to the other two, never taking her eyes from Reina, and they looked over at her as well before starting a slow walk her way. Reina was wondering when other people would take interest in her since apparently the whole time since the accident had been “Let’s make Reina feel special!” time. Reina didn’t know how much more of this “specialness” she could take.

They arrived while Baby Girl was still telling her story of course, though Eri and Sayu now looked like they would pass out from boredom at any time. The brash young girl fell silent, however, when Ai spoke up. “Hey, Reina.” She looked slowly around at the others. “…Eririn, Sayu, Koha-chan.”

“How are you guys holding up?” Gaki-san offered her words this time.

“Oh we’re just all fine and dandy,” Reina said with heavy sarcasm, though she almost kicked herself when she realized it. Apparently she didn’t have to though, because someone punched her in the arm, and not lightly. “Aa! Itai…” She turned, rubbing it, and saw Sayu with what almost seemed like a satisfied smirk on her face and her fists at her waist.

“What Reina-baka means,” she said cutely, “Is that we are doing quite well, thank you very much. And you guys?”

“Well,” Konkon replied. “We’ve just been talking about some great times we’d shared with Mikitty. Ai-chan noticed you guys looking our way, and we thought we’d ask you guys if you had anything to share too? We thought it might help cheer everyone up.”

“Well…” Baby Girl began, though Ai-chan quickly cut her off, to the young girl’s supreme chagrin.

“First though… I was wondering, who was that guy you were talking to just now Reina? I mean, I thought we had better security than that…”

The clarification seemed a little fishy to Reina, but the other girls seemed to take it as perfect explanation for the sudden question, so she decided to go on like she had. “Well,” she started, but before she went on, she noticed Ai looking at her with a strong piercing gaze that made her hesitate. She never remembered Ai looking at her quite like that before. Is that the way her eyes looked the last week when they’d seemed to be constantly on her at a distance? She supposed she couldn’t have been able to tell then… though the gaze that was now just centimeters away from her own almost made her gulp. It was almost as intimidating as talking to that detective… “Th-that detec… I mean, that man was just… he had somehow gotten through the lines, and Shuyen had to come and shoo him back where he belonged…” Through her stuttering now, the explanation no longer seemed anything close to adequate, and she couldn’t believe that what lay behind those eyes believed her.

“Ah, I see,” Ai said, to Reina’s sudden surprise, and she looked back to Baby Girl, seemingly content to drop the subject. “Sorry to interrupt, Koha-chan. Did you want to say something about Mikitty?” The young girl beamed and began some other story about some time after a taping of some show or another.

Even though Reina kept her eyes on Ai for a moment, the other girl seemed to show no more interest in her, so she gradually shifted her gaze and tried to make herself become interested in Baby Girl’s story. Apparently it didn’t work though, because afterward she couldn’t remember a word the girl had said. She felt another jab in the ribs and winced, glaring over to see Sayu grinning smugly at her once more. The smugness faded though when Eri leaned down to her ear with a stern expression and said something apparently scolding. Now the smugness was replaced with one of Sayu’s cute pouts, and Reina rolled her eyes and giggled away her worries to herself inaudibly. Later, she would most definitely need to see what was going on with Miss Ichiban Kawaii.

…so then, Miki glared at the cameraman and said, ‘Hey! Watch where you’re pointing that thing!’ But you know what? I caught her just a second later whispering to the guy that he’d better keep it on her all the time… or else!!!"

Ahh, to be young… Reina thought through the unstoppable giggles that followed the punchline.

Offline rokun

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A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2006, 01:35:57 AM »
Chapter 4 - Devil or Angel?

Reina sat between Eri and Ai through the speakers’ words during the memorial service. Eri she sat next to for obvious reasons, but she felt Ai just wanted to sit next to her to keep an eye on her, so she did her best to keep from looking at the girl throughout, even though she knew that a good part of the time, those eyes were on her. Of course, since all Morning Musume members sat in the same row, she had to sit next to someone, but that didn’t seem to matter in her logic.

Throughout the service, she barely could keep her mind on the somber words that were said among thoughts of Eri’s body sitting close next to her, the detective questioning her in that odd manner, and her lies about who he was. When the occasion rose that she did register the words she heard however, especially during when Aya spoke between tears, she thought she didn’t really mind that she couldn’t pay attention to the rest since they only seemed to make her want to cry. She wanted to do her best to keep from crying today, unlike seemingly everyone around her. When she looked around, she saw Eri’s face soaked with tears, and though Ai was crying less than Reina remembered from graduations, anything was surprising given how hard her face seemed to be lately. Sensing that Ai hadn’t noticed her look, Reina looked closer into her face and saw something besides sadness in her eyes. It almost seemed like… regret?

After Tsunku gave a final speech, everyone stood and took comfort in each others’ arms. Reina hugged Eri tightly, as well as even Sayu and Ai, two people whom she wouldn’t have expected to come to her now. Apparently whatever petty issues they might have with her made way for the shared emotion they all felt at this gathering.  

After their shared hugs, Reina separated from the others a little and walked up to the elaborate display of pictures, flowers, and written memories everyone had set up in Miki’s honor. As she looked at one large picture showing Miki’s mature smiling face, the tears she wouldn’t let fall during the ceremony crept inevitably into her eyes.

“She was unique, wasn’t she?” a low voice spoke warmly from beside her. Eyes red and wet with the sadness she felt turned to face a young man beside her, though through her blurred vision she couldn’t tell who he was. Right now, she didn’t care. She buried her face in his chest and wrapped her arms around him tightly, weeping unabashedly. She didn’t feel any arms wrap around her own body, but as before, she didn’t care. After a second though, she did feel some pats on her head. Before long, she realized what she was doing and almost jerked back, looking groggily up into the face in front of her through her tears.

The face was etched with worry, sadness, and nervousness at the same time, but she recognized it instantly. It was the boy from her photo shoot, but this time he was fully dressed up in a suit and lightly slicked hair.

“Wh-what are you doing here?” she blurted out without thinking. The boy’s face now began to look uncomfortable.

“All…” he began before hesitating. “All the staff was invited to the memorial, since we all knew Fujimoto-san. I’m sorry if I presumed too much with what I said.” He bowed stiffly at that last, and didn’t rise again.

Of course. Reina looked back at all the seats arrayed out within the park. They all were there for some reason – it’s not like they would have only invited the other girls and Miki’s family. If they’re trying to make such a public ordeal out of it, they had to invite somebody reasonable to fill in the ranks.

“No…” she began unsteadily. “I’m sorry.” She bowed to him herself. “I let my emotions take control of me. That seems to be happening far too often lately…” For some reason, she thought of Eri.

The two stood bowing at each other during a long pause after that. It felt uncomfortable, but Reina was determined not to rise before he did, since it really was her fault after all. Eventually, his nervousness seemed to get the best of him, and he did rise, slowly, Reina trailing slightly behind.

“What’s your name?” she asked.  

“Tsuyama,” the young man responded, seeming a little more confident now.

“Do you have a given name?” she asked slyly.

“Um…” She seemed to have unhinged him a little again. Good. “Daisuke,” he said after a small hesitation.

“All right,” she responded. “Well, it’s nice to meet you, Daisuke-kun.” She bowed slightly again. “And thank you for being here. Though, I need to get back to the others now.”

He bowed again in return. “Of course, Tanaka-san. Please forgive me for bothering you.”

“There’s nothing to forgive,” she said lightly. Smiling, she turned away to rejoin the others. Well, at least some of the staff had proper manners. She thought back to the flower she’d set up in a vase in her hotel room.

“Reina-chan! I see you’re getting along well with the photo staff!” Risa said, her genki-ness belying the redness around her eyes. “Just what do you do when you go off on your shoots?” She poked Reina in the side. “And here I thought those pictures were the result of pervy directors on power trips!”

Reina shot her a glare that Miki would have been proud of and kneed her in the thigh. The girl didn’t even have the decency not to giggle. Reina looked around at the other girls nearby who were laughing as well, and gave a weak smile. “Ok, so maybe I’m more of a crybaby than I thought,” she admitted in an attempt at distraction.

“You can say that again,” Ai said, chuckling lightly, though once more Reina noticed a different emotion in her eyes.

Before anyone could say more, Eri came up and snatched her arm. “I’m sure it was just an accident,” she said all too seriously, but still in a cute pouty way. “Wasn’t it, Reina-chan?” She gazed imploringly into Reina’s eyes. Reina sighed.

“Aww lighten up, Eririn,” Risa whined. “We’re just having a bit of fun with her.”

Eri twitched at the girl’s words and let go of Reina’s arm. “Right.” She now began to look embarrassed. Reina felt a tugging on her heart at the look on Eri’s face. “I’m going to go pay my respects to Mikitty.” With hardly a look back, she walked off in the direction Reina had come. Damn it, now she felt guilty.

“It’s too bad that we couldn’t see Mikitty herself here. Or the burial.” Reina looked over to see Ai now standing next to her, gazing off after Eri as she just was. After seeing who it was, she looked back after her lover and toward the memorial set.

“Yeah,” she said simply. “That’s too bad. I wonder why they didn’t bring her body over.”

“I heard that they wanted to keep Miki’s location a secret so that nobody would disturb her body until her spirit was taken care of. They’re not even sure if they’ll have a burial, though if they do, only family will be invited to it.”

Reina nodded slowly as Ai spoke. “That makes sense, I suppose.” When only silence hung in the air after her comment, she turned her head to see Ai giving her that piercing look once again. She couldn’t help but be captured by the other girl’s eyes.

“If you need anything, or if you get into any trouble, let me know, ok?” The girl sounded too serious. Reina gulped. “There are things going on that you don’t want to get involved in, that we should have no danger of even being involved in. So let me know, ok?” Reina nodded, feeling that was all she could do under that stare. “Good. Well. Take care, Reina.” With that, she headed back to Risa, Konno and Baby Girl, and immediately began laughing along with whatever story the youngest was telling now.

Reina was totally confused now, and couldn’t think straight about anything. Her mind wandered. Most of the attendees had left, but quite a few people still hung outside the security tape trying to catch more glimpses of the girls that were still around. The flower back in her room was still doing well enough, but it wouldn’t last forever. She’d have to figure out what to do with it. Eri and Daisuke-kun appeared in her mind, and both started doing things… She blushed deeply. “…Ai-chan, I never get the chance to talk to you! I’m so glad we have this time to hang out today! You know, I’d been meaning to ask you ever since…” Baby Girl’s words faded out as quickly as they entered her mind. The fifth gens actually seemed pretty interested, though. Well good for them. They don’t hang out with her all the time like… Where was Sayu? Reina looked around passively as if she were high on something again before a hand grabbed her arm and dragged her away.

“What…?” she asked as if in a stupor, having no idea what was going on around her. Her vision was blurred in her inattention, so the next thing she knew, she was sitting in the back of one of their limos. Determined to come back to reality, she steeled herself and took in the inside of the car. It was empty except for Sayu sitting directly across from her. Sayu’s eyes were cast down as if she was trying to think of what to say, but when she noticed Reina looking at her they snapped up in an intense glare. This didn’t help lessen Reina’s confusion, especially when Ichiban Kawaii opened her mouth.

“Well hello, Reina-chan. So, you’ve finally come back to reality? You really need to stop spacing out like that. I’m sure it really isn’t good for your health sometimes.” She said all this in the cutest voice she’d ever used, waving her hands in cute little gestures all the while, but the glare never left her eyes. “Some times like… oh… now!”

Reina shook her head. Something still wasn’t right. All she could see in front of her was a pink blur. “What in the world are you talking about, Sayumin?” Suddenly, the world snapped back into focus. Sayu’s face was inches from her own. She jerked back, but the leather seatback stopped her from moving any farther back than she already was, to the effect of her rebounding off it and slamming into Sayu’s face nose-to-nose.

“Itai!!!” both girls cried out, and Sayu fell back to her seat, rubbing her scrunched nose while Reina did the same with hers.    

The other girl was distracted. Now was the time to make her escape. She had no idea what was going on, but she knew that she had to get out of here as soon as possible. Or else. Usa-chan Peace! flashed through her mind and she nearly screamed. She scrambled for the door handle, but it was locked fast. She didn’t get far in an attempt to slide across the seat to the other door before a flash of pink interrupted her vision and she found herself held back against the seat.

“That didn’t feel too good, Reina-chan. And here, I just wanted to have a talk with you. Now, will you sit still and listen to me like a good kitty?” Reina suddenly felt like there was something around her ears and looked down and saw that she was wearing her cat costume from Turn Dori Chicken. What she felt on her head must be the ears. This time, she really did scream.



“Hello? Reina? Are you in there?”

Reina opened her eyes and found herself standing in the park the memorial was held in. Ahh, it was just a dream. She turned her head to respond to the girl who addressed her. “AHHH!”

She found herself jumping back after her scream, staring at the girl standing quietly in front of her. Sayu gave her a very weird look before saying, “I guess not.” Reina looked around wildly. The few girls who were still around were all looking at her, and she could swear she saw Aya giggling. The fans outside the perimeter were busy snapping pictures of the musume gone wild to shouted protests from the security, who tried to get in their way. She looked back at Sayu and swallowed.

The girl was looking at her as if she’d sprouted horns. Not daring to pause to consider the irony of this, she straightened her hair and gathered what dignity she had left before strolling up to her. “What are you talking about? I’m right here. Seriously Sayu, are you sure you’re quite all right?” She carefully kept her eyes on the cute girl’s face and busied them with tracing the lines on it in an attempt to avoid the stares of those around them. In her head she repeated an old mantra designed to remedy stage fright. Imagine them all naked, imagine them all naked. That didn’t help.

Uncomfortable silence hung in the air for a moment. Reina never noticed for some reason how large a mole Sayu had…

Sayu coughed. “Well, all right then. I meant to take you somewhere private to talk, but I think you did a good enough job of scaring people away that here will do just fine.” Reina’s eyes shot to Sayu’s at those words. The other girl stared back intently. “What happened between you and Eririn?”

Reina’s mind exploded. “Eri- ri… uh, huh… what?” she spluttered. She was sure her face was turning shades of red that had never been imagined before.

“You and Eririn,” Sayu said patiently but eagerly. “Ever since the day we heard Miki died you two have been acting differently between each other.” She looked to the side, flushing a little herself. “I wouldn’t normally notice this, but you two are my best friends, so I could tell.” She looked back into Reina’s face even more strongly than she did before. “Especially at times like this, we all need to stick together as closely as we can…” If there was a shade Reina hadn’t blushed yet, she was doing so now… “So please,” she went on insistently, “tell me what’s going on, because I want to help as much as I can.”

Reina’s eyes were now riveted on her toes, which were digging a hole in the dirt. She didn’t even notice. “Um…” she started pitifully. She coughed and looked back up to the girl, whose gaze wasn’t wavering in the slightest. “We’re fine.” Sayu narrowed her eyes in disbelief. “Seriously,” she went on, “we’re closer than ever!” She felt like loosening her collar, but realized she didn’t have one. “If you’ve noticed anything… strange… I think this whole ordeal with Miki has hit me harder than I’d like to believe…” She struggled for words. “I mean, just look what happened when I went up to the front earlier!” She let out a long breath she didn’t know she was holding and congratulated herself on the brilliant save. After thinking about it a second, she wondered if she wasn’t truth to what she said after all. Of course, it had nothing to do with the answer to Sayu’s question. Did it? She really didn’t know anymore.

“Oh,” was all Sayu said then. She looked down once more, and Reina thought she had actually gotten away with it. “But…” The word cut into Reina like a knife, and she looked back up nervously. “If there was anything happening with you two, you’d tell me, right?” The earnestness was back in her look, though Reina knew it served a different purpose this time.

“Of… of course,” she responded, and smiled crookedly. “So… you consider me one of your best friends?”

Sayu smiled and laughed as if in relief pent-up over the past week, hugging Reina. “Yes you are, silly! If any more strange men like those two from today try to harass you, just come to me! We’ll make them die of cuteness!” Reina couldn’t help herself giggling as well at that. They started walking back to the rest of the girls, each with an arm around the other’s shoulder and their heads tilted to rest on the other’s. Reina supposed it was time to get going; the fans outside the tape seemed to be getting testy. Sayu went on as they walked along giggling, “That goes for both you and Eririn. I love you two! If anyone tried to mess with or take advantage of either of you I’d show them what Devil Sayumin is all about!”

As Sayu’s giggles increased after that, Reina hoped that nobody around could tell how oddly forced hers had suddenly become.

Offline rokun

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A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2006, 01:40:28 AM »
Chapter 5 - Dances

“Are you sure Sayu’s not around?”

“Yes,” Eri responded, pouting slightly at the interruption of their kisses. However, they resumed as soon as the word left her mouth.

The two girls made out again for a few minutes more until Reina pulled her lips away from Eri’s once again. “She went clubbing with the gokkies, right?”

This time, Eri pulled away a bit more and sat back on the couch, though kept an arm around Reina’s neck. “Seriously Reina, what is it about Sayumin tonight? Here I am so excited to finally get some private time with you after not even seeing you for a week, and all you’re talking about is her…” Her pout was now more pronounced.

Reina looked into the girl’s face and sighed. “I’m sorry, Eririn. She’s just best friends with both of us, and we’re probably her only friends, so I kind of feel bad that we’re doing this and keeping it from her, and going behind her back…”

“Do you not want to be with me?” Eri asked bluntly, her face all seriousness now.

Reina stared back stunned for a moment before responding, “No! No… Of course not. You know I love being with you.” She smiled at that last and brushed some of Eri’s hair behind her ear.

“Then…” Eri began, her face closing in once again to Reina’s, “…can we forget about Sayu for a while and just focus on us?” Her cute, sad eyes made Reina feel guilty again. She remembered wistfully why she was attracted to this girl. She closed her face in as well and kissed her, this time with nothing holding her back. Well, almost nothing. As the tender moments passed, she unthinkingly glanced beyond Eri’s cheek to a snapdragon hanging low in a vase near her bed.

Feeling that they finally had each other only to themselves, both girls let go of their inhibitions once again and enjoyed the comfort in each other they both needed after the day’s strenuous and poignant events. One thing Reina didn’t think about was how thin the doors in their hotel actually were.


Reina awoke to her cell phone beeping a new message, and after a moment still in the stupor of sleep, grumbled to herself and reached over to the desk to pick it up. After pushing a few buttons, she stared at it a moment.

“Hey you lazy bum! What are you doing?? Come join us in Roppongi Hills. You know the place! <3 Sayu”

She jerked out of her daze and glanced across the bed. No one else was around. Shrugging sleepily to herself, she closed the message. 22:30 flashed at her from the phone. She grumbled again about never getting any real sleep and hurriedly typed a response into her phone saying she would be there when she could.

While she was sleepily changing clothes, she decided that she’d have to stop somewhere for coffee before catching a taxi. There was supposed to be a good coffee bar near the hotel lobby…

A short time later, she sipped at her 750¥ espresso while gazing out the window of the taxi at the bright lights of night-time Tokyo flowing past.  As they flashed by in a nearly hypnotizing way, she thought about events of the past weeks. She thought of the cute boy at the photoshoot who she ran into again at Miki’s memorial. She thought of Eri, who she’d shared comfort with twice now. She still wasn’t sure exactly what she felt there. It was definitely pleasant and comforting being with her, but there was something… strange… about Eri and doing those things with her.

Thoughts of that comfort made way for thoughts of the reason why she needed comfort. She remembered back to Yossi’s phone call when she first heard about Miki’s accident. She remembered vague parts of that, as she was in some kind of trance most of the last half of that day, but she remembered she did some rather stupid things. Something occurred to her that never had before. She had a faint impression of there being someone else in the room around when she spoke with Yossi. Why would there have been someone there? She was changing, so she was just in her underwear… However, that thought, being ephemeral like the near-dream memories are, flowed into something else.

The face of the strange detective who questioned her at the memorial floated in her mind. What was he going on about again? He was trying to find out who was with Miki nearest to her accident, and what she had been planning to do that day. But nobody was with her. Aya was supposed to meet her, but she got called into work. Work to do what? They were all on vacation aside from those doing photoshoots. The photoshoots were somewhat of a vacation themselves. Nobody was even in town that day except for Ai and Baby Girl… Reina unconsciously twirled her hair as she smiled at the thought of her photoshoot and a snapdragon.

“Miss Tanaka?” she heard Daisuke-kun ask in a sexy voice while kneeling to hand her a bouquet of snapdragons.

“Yes…?” Reina said dreamily, enamoured with the moment. “Do you have something for me?” She smiled down at his face beaming up at her.

“Sorry Miss Tanaka, I can’t say I do… I’m hoping you have something for me, though.”

“What?” Reina asked, confused. She looked down at herself. She wore an elegant red dress that flowed down her body in a silky fashion and fanned out in front of her left leg while being cut up nearly to the thigh on her right. Her hands were empty. “I don’t think I have anything for you. Should I?” She started feeling desperate now. Was there something she was forgetting?

“I would think you should have my fare,” he responded.

Suddenly, Reina realized she was in the backseat of the taxicab twirling her hair with the driver leaning back and frowning at her. “We’re at the Maniacal Love club. The fare’s 1050 yen. Don’t tell me you’re one of those idiot teenagers with no money that’s trying to…”

“Sorry,” Reina spoke up quickly, pulling some notes out of her pocket. “Here you go.” She didn’t wait for him to count, but got out as fast as she could away from the glare of the driver. She heard some muffled cursing as she shut the door and he immediately pulled away as if in a hurry, but ignored it the best she could.

She shivered a little in the night air as she looked up at the fluorescent sign proudly pronouncing Maniacal Love. She focused her attention back down at the front gate set well away from the door. As always, a crowd of people gathered outside the gate, most with cameras in hand, some, mostly her age and younger, just hoping to catch a glimpse of somebody that might be important. It was always risky coming here like this, but Reina never cared much for doing everything by the book. She could be small and unremarkable-looking enough if she tried, and could avoid attention. Pulling her shawl tighter around her shoulders and dragging her chenille cap down toward her eyes, she walked toward the mass of people with her head down as well.

She felt the gazes of some of the crowd fall on her as she walked by, but they were no more than glances, most likely dismissing her as a shy fangirl that was out of her league. She wondered idly how many times she could get away with the act while slipping easily through the crowd to the area guarded by the unusual bouncers in Versace suits.

Seeing her coming out of the crowd toward them, the gate attendants gave her a hard look and she raised her unconcerned and most definitely not shy gaze to them, pushing her cap back up. However, she was still careful to show as little of her face as possible to those behind. The front attendant registered her features and nodded, stepping aside to let her pass. Another opened the gate that hung between austere brick walls and she passed through, noticing murmurs from the crowd behind her and the flash of a few cameras. She smirked to herself. For some reason, that entrance of hers always brought satisfaction.

She glanced around the courtyard to see if anyone interesting was out there smoking or just enjoying the night air. She saw a few members of minor bands, and an actor or two, but nobody too remarkable. She smiled at one boy that was somewhat cute, though, before heading inside.

She entered into a dimly lit bar area that was currently filled by the music of X. She liked them; she knew they were old, but she wished these places played them more often. “Welcome, Miss Tanaka,” one of the hosts greeted her, bowing low. “I can show you to the others if you’d like. They’re on the third floor at a table by the northeast counter.”

Reina nodded her head in return. “Thank you, but I think I’ll just walk around a little first. I’ll keep their location in mind though.” The host bowed her away as she walked on. It wasn’t too crowded tonight; nobody too big was there. She was a little disappointed with that. She’d hoped to at least see some of the Johnnys boys there. She shrugged. She might as well just find her friends.

Making her way daintily through the sparse crowd, she found the stairs and headed up to the second floor, the music slowly increasing in volume, and upon arriving she heard someone call out to her.

“Reina!” She looked in the direction of the voice and was surprised at who it came from. Aya waved and ran up to her, giving Reina a smile that actually seemed real.

“You seem happy,” Reina said without thinking.

Aya laughed and looked over her shoulder. Reina saw a familiar man a ways back smile and raise a hand in greeting. “Yes. I thought it was best to try to forget things and chill out for a while. Yossui suggested it after remembering your, um, comments last week.” She grinned stupidly and naughtily, and Reina peered at her oddly. “So… I decided to mail Keita-kun and see if he’d take me out tonight! Of course, he was more than happy to… though I don’t think we’ll be here for much longer.” She said that last with a smirk and another grin.

Reina, trying not to think too much along that line of thoughts that included jealousy and why Aya was even doing this in the first place, responded, “Oh, I see. Well, I’m glad you’re doing better.”

Aya seemed to just ignore her and went on, “You know, Mikitty being gone isn’t all bad. I mean, that girl seemed to just be prone to accidents…” Aya’s face closed in to Reina’s, and out of politeness, Reina restrained herself from stepping back. Was she drunk? Reina glanced past her shoulder again at Keita and saw him sipping some type of drink while sitting leisurely at a counter. There were several empty glasses at the counter already as well. “I mean, just look! One of them even got her killed! I guess she wasn’t lucky that time like she was back in July. That nearly scared poor Ai-chan out of her wits, not even mentioning me! I was actually in the car with her, too!”

Reina pulled out of her fog a little at those words and forced herself to look into Aya’s face. “Ai-chan? There was another accident?” she asked curiously.

“Yeah,” Aya responded, seeming nearly as if she would fall over any second. “We had just finished a GAM rehearsal, and Miki was going to drive us to her apartment…” Her face seemed to take on a wistful quality as she related these tidbits. “She pulled out of the lot, but wasn’t able to turn in time and nearly ran straight into the traffic in the other lane before she slammed the brakes! Ai-chan was running after us for some reason, but once we were stopped in the middle of the road, she just stood and stared at us as if she was stunned. Myself, I just spilled my tea over one of my favorite skirts! I don’t think the stain has still ever come out…”

An arm draped over Aya’s shoulder, and Keita leaned over it between them. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything,” he said with a charming smile. Reina, her thoughts seemingly tied into knots, just stared up at him. He cleared his throat and the smile vanished. “Aya-chan, I think it’s about time to go, don’t you think? Look at you. You can barely stand.” Aya smiled up at him dreamily and raised her head as if attempting to kiss him, but didn’t quite make it and passed out, Keita quickly arranging his arms to hold her up.

“I’m sorry, Reina-chan. I’m afraid I have to take Aya away now.” Reina nodded dazedly as he dragged her away toward the stairs. She started walking forward, her mind totally blank for some reason. Wait, had he just called her Reina-chan?

Eventually she made it to the third floor and found Sayu and the gokkies. They were all dressed in lavish outfits, and Ai and Risa were out on the floor dancing. Ai was the center of attention of course. Reina decided she’d have to go out and change that. But first…

“Reina!” Sayu chirped, running up to hug the new arrival. “Where have you been all night? We thought you’d join us hours ago!”

“Oh, I hung out with Eri for a while, and just wanted some time to myself… you know…” Sayu nodded knowingly. Reina felt she really had the dumbest friends sometimes. “I can’t stop thinking about the accident either. Actually, do you know…?”

“Oh forget about that for a night, silly!” Sayu interrupted, though Reina noticed a shadow fly across her eyes. “We came here to let loose a bit and get our minds off depressing things like that!”

“But, I was just talking to Aya and…”

A dark shadow fell fully across Sayu’s face now and she interrupted again, “You saw her?” she said quietly. “I thought she’d be gone by the time you got here. I don’t think she’s the best influence right now, Reina. You need to stay away from her.”

“But…”

Reina didn’t get any more words out before Sayu pulled her onto the dance floor to join the other gokkies. She giggled and grabbed Reina’s wrists to get her moving. Reina obliged, and before long she forgot anything about Aya or the accident as she became lost in what seemed like the endless competition between them on the dance floor. For some reason though, she pushed herself extra-hard this time to compete with Ai, once the others had dropped out wheezing… She was proud of the shape she was in. It had been a slow process while her body matured and adjusted, but lately even Tsunku complimented her on how her dancing had improved. While Ai could still maybe look better doing it - damn her and her age - she could spin circles around the girl any day, she was sure. After a time, in fact, the competition got so heated that Reina and Ai nearly were dancing circles around each other, bathing in each other’s sweat. They stared holes in each other as if nothing else existed until Reina accidentally tripped the other girl. Ai didn’t fall, however, at least how Reina expected her to, and before she knew what was happening Reina was looking up from the level of the floor herself.

She looked into the moisture-streaked face of the girl on top of her and prepared for a fight before noticing that part of the moisture was coming from her eyes. The girl was crying!

“I told you if you needed anything to come to me… but you insist on doing everything by yourself - thinking for yourself!” Ai ground out the words between gritted teeth. “You’ve almost gone too far now for me to be able to…” She widened her eyes as if some realization struck her and raised them to look at nothing. “It may already be too late…!” Suddenly, Ai jumped up and looked around wildly a moment before running off to the stairs and disappearing down them, leaving a stunned and hyper-energized Reina lying by herself on the hard wood floor, the center of attention of everyone in the dead-silent room who just a minute ago was cheering the duo on in their crazed impromptu dance contest that they would all remember for months to come. If only Friday was here!
« Last Edit: October 05, 2017, 02:54:29 AM by rokun »

Offline Yuuyami

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A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2006, 01:42:20 AM »
Miki... ;_________________________________________; -drowns in tears-

Although the Eri x Reina is cute....

Miki ;___________________________________________;...

And now I have an idea of how the plot will progress, and the general direction of the story :]

Looking forward to the future chapters.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2006, 02:10:01 AM by Yuuyami »

Offline jafeijai

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A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2006, 02:27:03 AM »
WOW!! 5 (not 4, -_- i can count) intense chapters in a row...O_O holy crap....and also a prologue!!

[cannot continue due to the awesome-ness of the fic so far]

Offline rokun

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A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2006, 02:27:59 AM »
Thank you. ^_^ Glad you enjoyed some of it... poor Miki...

There's another chapter coming soon, too. I couldn't post it again like this without giving at least something new now. :grin:
« Last Edit: October 21, 2006, 02:30:04 AM by rokun »

Offline rokun

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A Young Girl's Odyssey
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2006, 04:36:12 AM »
As promised... shin-chapter. ^_^ It seems that now, the story really begins...


Chapter 6 – Riddles in the Dark

“Um… Reina?” Risa broke the silence, cocking her head and leaning forward slightly toward the girl lying on the floor. Reina jerked her head over to her, making the girl pull back, and saw Sayu standing there as well, her mouth open while staring wide-eyed back, a forgotten drink in her hand sloshing onto her fingers as well as the floor.

Reina suddenly stood calmly, brushing off her skirt, though with sweat still dripping off her sticking her clothes to her body despite her best efforts, and looked around. “What?” she asked the room. “You never seen someone lose a dance contest?”

She heard a low whistle ring out from across the room, and looked over to see Akanishi Jin nodding his head and smiling. How come she didn’t notice him here before? Of course, she was a little distracted ever since entering the room… That seemed to break the ice, and the DJ quickly started up some music again. The crowd slowly began talking and dancing again, though she knew some of the patrons still gave her shifty glances as she walked over to the bar, plopped into a stool, and leaned over it, slapping her hand down and staring hard at the quite handsome bartender. “I need a drink,” she said evenly, but loudly.

The young bartender hesitated a moment before responding, “What would you like, Miss Tanaka? Soft drink? Milk? Juice?”

“Give me something hard,” she said, not changing her tone of voice. She didn’t even realize how she was talking, but the boy shrank back from her a little.

“You know I can’t give you anything like…” His words trailed off as she continued staring at him, and with a gulp he quickly went to work mixing something for her. Before long, he presented her the drink with a bow that looked more like a plea not to hurt him, but she just ignored him and spun around in the stool, gulping the drink down like it was nothing. Gods how it burned her throat, but right now she didn’t care.

She vaguely noticed Risa come quickly up and lean over the bar next to her, scolding the bartender in an angry voice, “What did you give her!? Do you even see how she’s acting, not to mention how old she is? I’ll call up one of the police downstairs…”

There was a bit of a pause, but Reina was only listening halfheartedly anyway, blood pumping through her veins that the alcohol seemed to only push on. The bartender answered in a hushed voice, but one that she could easily still hear. “Please please! No need for that…” he said desperately. “It’s just soda and tonic with lime to make it look fancy. It won’t do a thing to her, but I doubt she’ll be able to tell the difference, especially with the way she’s bolting it down.”

Reina heard that last part, but she really didn’t care, just looked down at her drink to the lime she didn’t realize was in it and plucked it out, sucking on it slowly. She heard Risa growl despite the bartender’s reassuring words and turn to her, about to say something, likely some sort of scolding.

“You don’t have to take care of me like I’m a little girl, nee-chan.” Reina said out of the side of her mouth, but loud enough to be very clear in her connotation. She didn’t turn to face the girl beside her, instead still lounging back on her stool, elbows up on the bar behind and staring out into the crowd. She noticed some of the others were still looking over at her and whispering to each other – she was sure about her – from time to time.

Risa, flummoxed by Reina’s cheekiness for a moment, finally responded in a low growl, “I wouldn’t have to take care of you if you didn’t get into a fight with one of our best friends and try to order… order… firewine at a bar!” Her last words came out in almost a splutter.

Reina finally gave the other girl a slight glance and saw Risa looking exasperated and worked up unlike she’d ever seen her before. “Yeah?” she said challengingly. “What do you care? I think you need to keep your best friend on a tighter leash.” With that, she slammed down her empty drink in front of Risa, startling the girl slightly, and walked off toward the stairs without a look back.

She strode easily through the crowd, as nobody wanted to stand in her way with what had just happened along with the way she now paced along. As she reached the stairs, she heard another voice call out to her, and she caught herself, turning to look at its source. Sayu ran up to her, her eyes still wide as saucers.

“Reina!” She said imploringly, stopping a pace away. “Are you… all right?” Her wide eyes looked eagerly and perhaps a little frightfully into Reina’s.

Reina opened her mouth to shoot some biting remark back, but a scene flashed through her mind…

…Sayu looked cutely at her, seeming to exude nothing but warmth and friendship despite the harsh feeling Reina had felt from her lately.

“You are my best friend… we need to stick together as closely as we can!”

“You really consider me one of your best friends?” Reina replied, disbelief rampant in her voice.

“Of course, silly! If we’re together, don’t worry about anything! We’ll overcome it all with cuteness!!” With that, she gave an impromptu “Usa-chan PEACE!” before hugging Reina tightly. Reina hugged her back just as hard…


Reina felt her mouth close as she altered what she was about to say. “Sayu… yeah, I’m… I’m fine.” Astounded by her own disbelief of the words she just uttered, she was surprised when Sayu bravely stepped a bit closer. The closest others, who were already a good 3 meters away, stepped a bit further back.

Sayu looked hard and carefully into Reina’s eyes, confidence that Reina wasn’t going to suddenly attack her suddenly radiating from her own. “Seriously… What has been going on with you lately? You’ve been like a totally different person ever since… since…” Her eyes clouded as recent events crashed back down onto her, events that obviously she was trying to forget in this evening out. Suddenly, she brightened up. “And what about what happened out there on the dance floor!?” Reina stiffened at the change in direction. “I’ve never seen someone move like that before! It’s like you were possessed by… by… someone who’s a really good dancer!”

Reina’s mouth dropped open and she stared back at the girl who was staring at her with something that was a mixture of eagerness and bubbliness and awe. And, of course, cuteness. How on Earth could the girl be this dumb and clueless!? Suddenly Reina burst out laughing, and Sayu drew back, features puckering into some sort of surprise. The others in the room moved a bit farther away from the two girls.

Unable to talk for a minute, especially seeing Sayu grow more and more pouty as time went on, Reina finally wiped her eyes and caught her breath, clearing her throat as her laughter died out. “One of these days…” Reina said, grinning stupidly herself now at the girl whose feathers looked about as ruffled as they could be. She cleared her throat once more and looked around. “I’m going to go, Sayumin. I don’t even know why I’m here now. Have fun…”

She turned around and started once more toward the stairs, but was halted momentarily by a hand on her shoulder. She looked over her shoulder to the girl’s face, one that was once again clear of any emotion other than concern. “Wait a second. I’ll come with you.”

Reina shook her head. “I’ll be okay, Sayu. You stay here with Gaki-san. I have a feeling she’s gonna need a lot more help getting home than I will…” Sayu cast a glance back into the room, where Risa was leaning back at a barstool gulping down some sort of drink, before looking back at Reina.

“Well… okay…” she finally said reluctantly, and lifted her hand slightly from Reina’s shoulder. “We’re best friends, remember?” she asked uncertainly. Reina nodded and smiled softly before turning away and heading down the stairs. The girl seemed to take that as a good enough reply.

 When she reached the second floor, she glanced around for Aya and Keita, who seemed nowhere to be seen, before heading on down to the ground level. Upon reaching it, Yamada-san, one of the head managers at the club, walked up to her and bowed smoothly.

“Good evening, Miss Tanaka,” he began, his voice consisting almost of a low sing-song quality. It always struck Reina that he was quite handsome for a guy who was likely at least twenty-five years older than her. “Is there anything we can do for you to make your evening a more pleasant one?” Reina shook her head quickly, and the manager went on without missing a beat, “We heard there was a small… disturbance upstairs a short time ago,” he said, giving what sounded like a well-practiced and oily hesitation to mark the use of what was likely quite understated language. Reina knew that even though he may have been down here the whole time, he would know exactly what happened, who was involved, and how many scuffs it had made on the floor.

“We would have sent our security in to assist you, but since the altercation involved only you and your… friend…” again with the oiliness… “We weren’t sure who, exactly, to help!” He finished with a smile and a small flair, as if it was the punch line of a strange gentlemen’s joke.

Reina’s eyes narrowed reflexively as she looked at the disarming fellow with his hands folded on top of each other in front of him, held out what must have been a precise distance from his chest, and she responded, “Thank you for your… consideration…” He bowed and smiled at that, as if she had just paid him the greatest compliment conceivable. “…But I think everyone’s going to be all right. It was just a… personal issue between myself and Takahashi-san.”

The manager bowed smoothly once again. “That’s good to hear, Miss Tanaka. I wouldn’t want any of our distinguished guests becoming injured while partaking of our services.” Reina caught the implication and “friendly” warning in his words that he wasn’t necessarily talking about just Reina, or even her and Ai.

Deciding this encounter should soon be at its end, Reina asked quickly, “By the way Yamada-kun, do you happen to know where Takahashi-san went? I would be… very interested in catching up with her and chatting with her on the way home.”

The man flinched noticeably at the slight, a sign of how perturbed he actually was, since he should by now be accustomed to the way Reina addressed people, especially those she wasn’t necessarily fond of, and especially in a situation, such as this, that she was far from fond of. “Ah. Miss… Takahashi… left through the back door shortly after your encounter. Unfortunately, I was unable to give her my regards before she disappeared.”

Reina nodded. It sure did seem the girl was in a hurry. If she left that long ago, there was no way she could catch up even if she knew where Ai was headed. She wondered if she even did want to catch up with her. Well, she supposed she had no choice if she wanted to find out what was going on.

“Thank you, Yamada-san.” The man began bowing hardly after she began speaking, and she brushed past him toward the back door. He would of course be keeping an eye on her until she was safely out of the club, to make sure no other “unfortunate incidents” happened along the way.

Even though she, as well as most of the other patrons of Maniacal Love, arrived at the red-carpeted entrance for exposure to the media and fans, or in Reina’s case, to mock it, many of them left through what they only called the “back door” – a smaller, unremarkable passageway that actually was near the back of the building, but that led to an alley whose mouth opened up a block away from the crowds. It allowed for a quieter and more “covert” exit and return to their hotels or mansions for those who didn’t want to spend the inevitable time giving face to the media and eager fans, as well as those who did not want attention drawn to themselves, or their companions, for “other” reasons. Reina found herself wondering if Keita had gone this way not too long ago, probably with someone in tow who couldn’t have a say in wherever she would be going.

As she left the building and headed down the alleyway, which was lit slightly only every couple dozen meters by a small lamp, giving privacy while preserving safety with security guards at either end – there was a hotel near the opening at the other end that served as perfect excuse for a security officer to watch carefully over the alley exit – she saw, as she always did, couples who emitted occasional laughter or other noises and tried to keep to the darkest areas between the lamps. She thought she recognized a few, including Jin, who seemed to be with a girl that couldn’t have been much older than herself. Perhaps younger. She also thought she saw… She squinted at the dark… No, it couldn’t be… Shaking her head, she wandered on, suddenly blushing once more. If Friday was able to see what went on in this alley…

About halfway down the alley, she began hearing steps behind her that seemed to get louder and closer the farther she went. Knowing she had nothing to fear here, she glanced behind her and saw two middle-aged gentlemen in what looked like Armani suits. Thinking nothing of it, she turned back around and continued on. Apparently some of the security was leaving their shift now, too.

Their steps became closer however, and when they seemed only a couple meters away she paused. The steps paused as well, and she turned to face the two men. They were very handsome, if way too old for her and with too many scars on their faces, and both held their hands behind their backs. She thought she could catch some type of marking just above the collar of one, easily visible since she had stopped opposite one of the wall lamps.

“Reina Tanaka?” the one without the marking asked. He was stockier than the other one, though from what she could tell, his muscles were still very well-toned. She wondered how much muscle-weight it would take to make someone that large if that’s all the man was composed of… She could almost believe that was the case with him.

“Yes?” she asked. “Do I know you?”

“I don’t believe so, Miss Tanaka. Though, we have been watching you for quite some time now,” the other replied stoically.

Reina abruptly narrowed her eyes warily at that admission, suddenly becoming somewhat frightened. Even though they could still hear some sounds of couples along the alley, there were none near them and most definitely not within audible distance of the low tone of voice the men used.

“What do you want with me?” she said warningly. She did not want to mess with something else like this tonight. “When I get back to my hotel, I’m going to call…”

“There’s no need for that, Miss,” Stocky interrupted. She decided in the frantic train of thought going through her mind at the moment that she would start calling them Stocky and Tattoo. That is, unless they gave actual names, which they didn’t seem very inclined to.

“We came because we wish to offer you a… proposition.” Tattoo continued.

“What kind of proposition?” Reina asked, the wariness not at all gone from her voice.

“Your recent activities… Your image as an idol, your affair with one of your coworkers…” Reina blushed profusely at that. “…The way you’ve honed your body lately, your little “performance” on the dance floor tonight with Miss Takahashi…” Reina now became very scared. How do they know this much about me?? Who have they told!? “We think you’d be very well-suited to a career that we happen to have quite a business in. You would be compensated quite well for it. Of course, you wouldn’t be able to begin officially until you are eighteen, but we like to begin training as early as possible.”

What on Earth are they talking about...? Reina wondered. She was about to ask just that when it hit her. No… It couldn’t be… There’s no way… She backed up a step reflexively in confusion and shock. The men didn’t move.

“Leave her alone.” A young feminine voice uttered from the darkness. Reina thought she recognized it, but when she looked around, she couldn’t see where it was coming from.

Stocky kept looking at Reina but spoke to the alley in response to the voice, “You know how this works. We recruit girls that we think will fit into our organization. Who they are makes no difference. We’ve taken in many popular idols before. She is no different. In fact, you were welcomed in the same way.” He paused for a moment. “Oh wait, that’s right, you weren’t.” Suddenly a small blur flew in front of the man and something clanged to the wall just to the side below the lamp. Reina jumped and barely held back a scream. Below the lamp, a knife was stuck in the wall, pinning the bottom half of Stocky’s tie along with it. Reina’s eyes widened and she looked quickly back at the man, who appeared unruffled, though looked a mite silly with half his tie ripped off. Well, as silly as a one hundred ten kilogram man in an Armani suit with eighty-percent muscle mass could look.

Suddenly, Reina could hear steps coming closer from the dark in the side of the alley opposite where the knife stuck. “I said,” the feminine voice rang out cold and clear again, “Leave her alone. She won’t be joining us for that purpose.” Reina peered closely as she began to see a shape take form in the shadows, trying to make her out. From what Reina could tell, she looked familiar… Suddenly, she gasped.

“As you wish, ma’am,” Tattoo said submissively. “We weren’t aware that you would be interested.” He nodded to Stocky and they both turned in and walked back down the alley together toward the club. Walking slowly up to take their place, Ai-chan gave her a long, hard look that Reina felt she had no ability to look away from. They stared at each other in the looming quiet, for there were no longer noises coming from couples stealing kisses in the dark.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2017, 03:32:32 AM by rokun »

Offline Yuuyami

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« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2006, 04:48:48 AM »
Ai's a part of the organization eh? Well, that changes a few scenarios... o_O

Anywho, I believe I know where the story is going, now that you introduced the beginning elements, and the title makes me wonder if it has connections to the true Odyssey by Homer... Wondering if you're following that path of story-making... Anywho... XD

Do continue writing <3
« Last Edit: October 21, 2006, 04:53:40 AM by Yuuyami »

Offline rndmnwierd

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« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2006, 05:28:05 AM »
...*takes deep breath* AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! I remember this story! I remember the part with Eri and Reina you edited out! I remember!

Offline rokun

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« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2006, 05:40:04 AM »
Quote from: rndmnwierd
...*takes deep breath* AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! I remember this story! I remember the part with Eri and Reina you edited out! I remember!

^^;; Nice to hear that you do. I'm glad when I make an impression... in anything, lol. Yeah, had to edit it for posting. It's too bad too cause there was some fun stuff in there (aside from the "fun stuff") that I felt added some more depth to the characters... But it's not vital to the story so it's not a big loss. ^_^ Thanks for catching up with it again! I know it's a lot to read at first.

Offline goosefish

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« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2006, 02:45:05 PM »
Whoah, rokun! I remember reading this over at jpm and wondering if you were ever gonna write the next chapter for this. So I'm happy that you have! :P I love the depth that you give to the characters...you seem to add a whole nother dimension to them.
 
After reading chapter 6, I don't know what to expect. Ai-chan & Reina showdown?! Bahhh...guess I'll just have to wait and see :rolleyes: .
 
Keep up the good work! :D

Offline jafeijai

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« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2006, 08:57:28 PM »
EHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH?!?!?!? secret organization that Takahashi has authority in?!?! [suspense]what will happen to Reina....? and what does this have to do with Miki's death, if anything?!?![/suspense] anticipating another intense chapter soon :thumbsup

Offline JFC

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« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2006, 10:21:50 PM »
^ Yeah, I'm just gonna say what they said.

EHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! :shocked:

JPH!P :heart:'s Fushigidane, ChrNo, Jab & marimari. Always.

Offline rokun

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« Reply #16 on: October 22, 2006, 01:25:45 AM »
Yuuyami: Thank you for your interest in my story so far! Your talk of scenarios and such confused me at first, but then I read some other stories around here and found that's just the way you read these. :lol: Keep it up! :grin:

goosefish: I read what you've posted so far in your story too last night. There are so many Reina stories lately, aren't there?! It's interesting reading your story since it's from her point of view just like mine... though the stories we're telling are quite different. ^^; Thank you for reading though and for your compliments. Don't know what to expect after Chapter 6? That's why I ended it there. :grin: Who knows what might happen next...

jafeijai :blush: Thank you for your praise, though I'm just happy if someone other than me enjoys it. ^_^ Good questions by the way... you seem to be following what's going on fairly well. ;)

JFC: Glad to see you here! ^___^

I'll write more when I get the time... It's busy for me this time of year though, so I won't have a chapter a day or anything unfortunately. >.>

Offline JFC

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« Reply #17 on: October 22, 2006, 01:55:28 AM »
^ Your fic is riveting, what can I say? I was totally glued to my screen as I read it. :D

JPH!P :heart:'s Fushigidane, ChrNo, Jab & marimari. Always.

Offline jafeijai

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« Reply #18 on: October 22, 2006, 03:54:24 AM »
^ that's second...ed...by me :DXD

Offline lil_hamz

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« Reply #19 on: October 22, 2006, 07:46:14 AM »
I third!! :D
I don't know what to say except how good this was. It was an incredible read in all ways and I really enjoyed it *GJ!*

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