Fame – Chapter Two
by Dreams in Pink
|← Chapter One||Chapter Three →|
Chapter Two – The Performance
The next afternoon found the three companions hurriedly preparing for their performance. They had spent the morning rehearsing – just enough to feel comfortable, but not enough to be tired out. While Rei had been standing just off stage, measuring up the competition, Minako was adding the final touches to Usagi’s makeup.
“Okay! You’re all done!” Minako said proudly, standing back to admire her work.
“I don’t even look like me!” Usagi said in awe, staring at her reflection. She gently touched her cheek, checking to see if the image in the mirror was actually her. When it mimicked her actions, she squealed, leaping out of her seat to hug her friend. “Thanks Minako!” All reservations she had about the costume and performance had momentarily dissolved. She felt amazing.
“Anytime!” Minako grinned, glad to be of service. “So what do you think about – ”
“I already told you I don’t want to change my hair,” Usagi pouted, lightly patting one of the spheres of golden hair perched on top of her head. Why was everyone constantly after her to get a new hairstyle?
“Fine, fine,” Minako sighed, knowing that she would never give in.
“The group that’s on now, is awful,” Rei whispered, interrupting the blonde pair. “You look great Usagi!” She complimented the girl who beamed in response.
“Do you think we stand a chance?”
“I think we do,” Rei replied confidently, “As long as Odango here doesn’t trip over her own two feet!”
“Yeah, come on Rei,” she paused, “You know that’s Mamoru’s pet name for her,” Minako said with a wink. Usagi only glared; she was never going to live this down.
At the mention of his name, Usagi suddenly wondered if he would be there today. After all, it was a free festival and a beautiful sunny afternoon. The thought of him watching and critiquing her performance tied her stomach into knots What would he think of the outfit? Would he tease her about it?
“Number 724?” The announcer came back stage, sweat dripping from his brow and stress apparent on his face.
“Here!” Minako raised her hand. Finally she had the chance to try out her dream of being an idol. She always imagined standing in the spotlight with everyone chanting her name, being in all the celebrity and fashion magazines, and attending the hottest parties. Although this simple karaoke contest was not quite at that level, she felt that if anything, it was a start.
“You’re up next! What are you singing?” He asked, pushing his wire rimmed glasses up the bridge of his nose.
“Flirt, by Paradyse,” Minako informed the man, who sighed lightly. He was growing tired of hearing about this ‘band’ and he half-heartedly wondered if the blonde knew that despite being the hottest girl group based out of Tokyo, Paradyse rarely created their own music. Instead, the provocative five girl troop focused on covers – performing their own version of songs previously made famous by mostly American and European artists.
“Go wait in the wings,” he ordered, taking a moment to glance at the endless list that was attached to his clipboard. “Hurry up!”
“Ready?” Minako asked, turning to her friends and taking a deep breath.
“You bet!” Usagi nodded in affirmation.
“Let’s go kick some karaoke ass!” Rei replied, making a fist with determination set in her brow.
They waited in the wings, their anxious faces watching as the duo that had performed before them bowed with the audience clapping politely. Once they had cleared, the three girls took to the stage, hearts pounding with adrenaline. Usagi felt a jolt of apprehension – she fidgeted with her skirt, tugging it in a dire attempts to make the fabric stretch.
“Don’t do that!” Rei scolded, causing Usagi to drop her hands to her sides.
The music started, the heavy bass lines pumped across the stage and spilled into the crowd. With each beat their hips swayed from side to side, and powerful, elongated legs took deliberate steps. They were perfectly in synch, fingers delicately, seductively, tracing patterns in the air and down the contours of their bodies.
The first verse went to Minako, with Usagi and Rei adding the harmonies in the background. The sun spun blonde revelled in the limelight, relishing in the feeling of the warm artificial rays caressing her face.
So what you think about the look in my eyes?
You think it’s for you? You think you read minds?
Similar to her personality, her voice was energetic, her body language soaked with attitude to match the lyrics. The audience cheered in approval as her solo came to an end, and together, the three broke into the chorus. Changing positions, Rei was next for the spotlight, and with a flip of her long, ebony hair she began.
What part of ‘no’ don’t you really understand?
One syllable word, old man
You got a problem with my space?
Get your mug, out of my face.
Her tone was rich and confident, every move agile and precise. Her hot red pumps clicked lightly as she moved across the stage, engaging the audience as she pointed, flicking her wrist in disgust at an invisible pursuer.
After much internal debate, Mamoru gave in to his curiosity and headed towards the park. ‘It’s not as if she’s going to know that you were there,’ he reminded himself. Approaching the main the stage he saw that Usagi and her friends were in the middle of their performance. He was honestly surprised at how little their so-called costumes left to the imagination; their exceedingly short skirts barely covered their behind, and every swish of their hips exposed tight thighs and a teasing view of what they were wearing underneath. The sailor collared shirts were cropped just above their waist, with necklines plunging deeper than what would be permitted at any school.
Despite valiant efforts to pay each girl the same amount of attention, Mamoru found his focus constantly drawn to the ‘odango’ adorning blonde. He clenched his hand into a fist, pressing his nails into his palm in attempts to free his mind from being ravished by impure thoughts. He glanced at the crowd around him, which had visibly grown in the few moments he had been there, and cringed knowing that so many were having the same thoughts he was. Mamoru listened as Rei finished her solo, and the girls broke into a reprise of the chorus.
You found me on my knees,
Next thing you’re saying “tease”
Listening to the lyrics, Mamoru scowled. Did Usagi have any idea exactly what they were singing about? He cursed under his breath, growing increasingly agitated at how her skimpy attire and the questionable words combined forces to wreak havoc on his undeniably aroused state – the provocative choreography wasn’t helping either. This was not him. He just wasn’t that kind of guy. However, something about her drove him absolutely crazy. Where she was concerned he found himself overloaded with everything from frustration, animosity and irritation, to felicity, mirth and desire. Having endured enough torture, Mamoru decided it was better, for his own sake, to leave.
Tiny beads of sweat ran across Usagi’s brow as she concentrated on making sure every move was perfectly on cue. She knew her part was coming up, and under normal circumstances she would be terrified, however, the crowd’s encouraging cheers unearthed a newfound sense of confidence. Executing Minako’s routine with expert precision, Usagi found herself front and center.
I’m just so lucky to be walking on a wire,
I’m up so high that I can barely feel your fire
You can’t touch me, no,
That’s just a dream!
She was slightly shy at first, but soon the world around her dissolved and she came into her element. Her sweet voice wrapped lovingly around each syllable, fusing with every note. Upon hearing her sing, Mamoru paused and turned back to the stage. ‘Is that really Usagi?’ He wondered, mouth gaped, slightly in shock – she was good; she was really good. He scoffed at the latter part of the lyrics, feeling as if they were meant solely for him.
She was done all too soon, and as the three girls merged for the end, the audience erupting into wild applause. Mamoru smiled, genuinely glad that their performance went well, but before he could be noticed, he slipped through the crowd and headed towards the arcade.
Joining hands, Minako, Rei and Usagi took their final bow, faces beaming with satisfaction. Although they kept a cool demeanour in the public eye, the moment they stepped back stage they broke into a fit of giggles.
“That was amazing!” Minako squealed breathlessly.
“Did you hear them cheering!?” Rei asked, equally as enthusiastic as she sat down, pulling the shoes from her feet.
“I can’t believe we actually just did that,” Usagi said, still in awe. Had that really been her out there? She had never felt so noticed, so important and so alive.
“Great performance, ladies,” a silver hair man congratulated them, approaching the group.
Minako’s face lit with recognition, “Thank you!” She replied, flashing him a flirtatious smile. Her heart pounded within its cage, and she convinced herself this had to be a dream.
“It looks to me like you have a good shot,” he stated honestly, rubbing his clean shaven chin with his hand. “Who did the choreography?”
Grabbing Minako by the arm, her blonde companion pushed her forward, “She did!” Usagi announced.
“You’re very talented,” he told her, his smooth, baritone voice unleashing the dormant butterflies in her stomach.
“Thank you,” she blushed, humbly diverting her gaze to the ground.
“Best of luck,” he grinned, tipping his chin. Minako watched as he walked away, her mouth ajar. As soon as he was out of sight, she spun around, facing two confused girls.
“Do you have any idea who that was?” Minako yelled, brimming with shock and elation – she had just met a celebrity. And he had complimented her.
“A good looking man?” Rei answered dryly, figuring that this was nothing more than one of Minako’s typical overreactions.
“No!” The blonde screamed in frustration, before correcting herself, “well, yes. He is, but that’s not what I meant,” she stammered.
“Who is he?” Usagi wondered, an endless list of possibilities clouding her mind, “Someone famous?”
Minako sighed, “His name is Kunzite,” she paused, continuing when she received no reaction, “he used to be a model,” she stopped again – still nothing, “he’s the agent for Paradyse?”
“Oooh!” Rei and Usagi chorused.
“That’s so cool! He even complimented you!!” Usagi noted cheerfully, knowing that her friend had truly deserved the praise.
“Wasn’t he gorgeous?” She sighed dreamily, leaning against Usagi for support. “And I read that he likes blondes,” she added, pointing at herself.
“Where did you read that?” Rei laughed, proudly running a hand through her thick, raven hair.
“Men’s Non-No. The September issue of last year,” Minako recalled, almost robotically, “They did a personal interview with him.”
“Your idol and fashion knowledge knows no bounds,” Rei was admittedly impressed and jokingly fanned her friend in worship. A crowd of people rushed backstage as the competition came to an end. The three girls packed up their belongings, still clad in their costumes, and made their way onto the field in front of the stage.
“Ami! Makoto!” Usagi called, seeing her two friends in the distance with Ami’s ultramarine locks, and Makoto’s lanky height standing out amongst the crowd. “Over here!” The pair ran over, enveloping the performers in a hug.
“You guys were great!” Makoto congratulated them, “I can’t wait until they announce the winners tomorrow!” The rest of the group nodded with equal anticipation.
“Your odds of winning are incredibly high,” Ami stated, a wide smile on her face.
“Thanks!” Usagi chirped, basking in the moment and feeling truly grateful for having these girls as friends.
“And don’t worry, you could hardly see your underwear,” Ami whispered softly in Usagi’s ear, receiving a breath of relief from the blonde, “thanks Ami.”
“Do you guys want to head over to the arcade for a milkshake?” Makoto suggested, deciding that that was the only proper way to celebrate.
“I can’t say no to that!” Usagi readily agreed.
“As long as there’s no more of Minako’s rehearsal regime,” Rei teased, knowing that she would forever associate the arcade with their invigorating rehearsals.
“It paid off, didn’t it?” Minako replied with a frown as Usagi patted her on the back in understanding.
“Let’s go,” Makoto said, smiling at her friend’s antics. On the brunette’s cue, they headed off towards the arcade, happily chattering as they walked unaware of the appreciative stares and lustful glances they were collecting from passersby.
Reaching the arcade, the girls flocked to their regular booth as they rattled on with meaningless gossip, merely enjoying each other’s company. With the start of their final year at school, it had been too long since they had been able to hang out like this.
“So, how was it?” Motoki asked, coming over to their table.
“Amazing!” The two blondes chimed, glancing at Rei who agreed, “It was really awesome.”
“You should have seen it! The audience loved them!” Makoto added, showing her full support.
Truly excited for the three girls, Motoki grinned, “Glad to hear it! So we’ll know tomorrow if you’ve won?”
“Yeah, they’ll announce it on the five o’clock local news!” Minako reminded, knowing that she would have trouble sleeping tonight in anticipation for the results.
Motoki pulled the order pad from the front of his apron, “and I’ guess it’s time to celebrate?”
“That’s the plan!” Usagi cheered, as Motoki continued by taking down each of their orders. Cautiously Usagi’s gaze briefly swept the arcade, hoping to catch a glimpse of Mamoru, if only to prove him wrong – she could too pull of the skirt. She saw him, head lowered as he scanned the newspaper in front of him, occasionally stopping to take a sip from his mug. Usagi couldn’t help but wonder if he knew she was there.
“Usagi?” She was brought back to reality by Ami’s gentle voice.
“Sorry,” she muttered, shaking her head as if to brush away her thoughts.
“Did you want anything else?”
“No, that’s it.” She replied, smiling weakly. With a shrug, Motoki went back to the counter to begin their orders.
Usagi’s brief shift of attention did not go unnoticed, and the four girls looked at each other with knowing expressions. “What?” She asked innocently, feeling four pairs of smirking eyes watching her.
“Oh come on, we all know what you were doing,” Minako rolled her eyes, tired of the charade.
“Who?” Usagi wondered, trying appear completely oblivious.
“Cut the crap,” Rei stated bluntly, pounding her hand on the table for emphasis.
“Usagi, we all see it. Even Ami,” Makoto’s voice was eerily calm, as if she were delivering bad news.
“Not you too!” The blonde cried.
“It is a little hard to miss…” Ami admitted, shrinking back in her seat.
“I thought you were on my side!” Usagi was shocked – Ami had always been the reasonable one, and suddenly she too was against her.
“There aren’t any ‘sides’!” Ami replied in her own defence.
“All you have to do is admit that you like him,” Makoto said simply, acting as if it was the easiest thing in the world, causing a deep frown to settle in Usagi’s brow.
“And we’ll help you get him,” Minako added with a determined glint in her eye.
“I’m going over there, and I’m going to play a game of Sailor V. When I get back this conversation better be over,” Usagi warned as she forced her way out of the booth.
“Oh yeah, that’s really threatening,” Rei yelled after her, further provoking her irritation.
Usagi angrily crossed the tiled floor, seeking sanctuary in the brightly coloured machine. Sailor V had been her favourite game ever since she could remember, and although she had beaten it countless times, she always found it was a great way to relieve stress. Before long she was caught up in the flashing screen and encouraging beeps, the reality of school, friends and boys fading if only for a moment.
“Hey… aren’t you one of those girls that performed at the karaoke contest?” The question shattered her concentration, pulling her from the game. “You were really good,” the shaggy hair man continued, leaning against the machine. “You look great,” he persisted, shamelessly devouring every inch of her appearance. Usagi shifted, feeling uncomfortable under his obvious stare, but undeniably loving the attention. After all, he went out of his way to pay attention to her.
“Thanks,” she smiled, a small blush creeping onto her smooth cheeks.
“Will you guys be performing again?” He wondered, watching Usagi’s bright eyes as she took in his appearance. He was a few years older, with messy copper hair and narrow chocolate eyes, dressed casually in ripped jeans and a t-shirt.
“I’d like to,” she replied honestly. He took a step closer, continuing the conversation in an attempt to win her over.
Just out of earshot, Motoki bustled around the kitchen preparing the girls’ drinks, sending the rest of the order to the back where his sister, Unazuki, was fast at work. He lightly hummed to himself, but the black cloud hanging over his friend was too hard to ignore.
“What’s gotten you in such a sour mood?” Motoki wondered, wrenching Mamoru away from the silent solitude of the newspaper.
“My mood is fine,” he answered flatly.
“You’re sulking,” the blonde noted, now standing in front of him, palms flat against the marble counter.
“I’m not sulking,” he argued, unwilling to focus on Motoki.
“She looks good, doesn’t she,” Motoki said offhandedly, watching as Mamoru’s shoulders instantly tensed. He had taken a glimpse when she had entered, noting that she still hadn’t changed.
“I didn’t notice,” he shrugged – almost convincingly.
“Bullshit. I know you went,” Motoki called him out, sighing in frustration.
“What do you want me to say?” Mamoru muttered, tired of Motoki’s remarks.
“You don’t have to say anything, just stop lying to yourself,” he stated, his words only causing Mamoru’s scowl to deepen. “Can you at least be useful and take these over to the girls?” Motoki pleaded, loading the tall glasses onto a tray and telling waiting customers he would be with them momentarily. Mamoru folded up the paper with a grated groan, and picked up the tray.
“Hey Mamoru!” Minako greeted him with a friendly wave, as he set each drink down on the table.
“Thanks,” Makoto smiled, helping him distribute each of the orders.
“Where’s Odango?” He asked, realizing that she was no longer seated with her friends.
“We pissed her off, so she went to play video games,” Rei explained with a snort – it was just like Usagi to run off when they were saying something she didn’t want to hear. Immediately Mamoru’s attention was diverted, growing angry as he spotted Usagi with her suitor. He watched them for a moment, jaw clenching as the man put his hand on her arm.
“So, what’s your name sweetheart?” He drawled, the pet name making the girl’s hair stand on end; the way he said it made her feel inferior.
“She’s not interested,” Mamoru interrupted, standing behind her. Usagi held her breath, both surprised and relieved that he had shown up.
“And who are you?” The man snapped, raising an eyebrow expectedly.
“I’m telling you, she’s not interested,” Mamoru insisted, his arm protectively reaching around her lithe waist. Usagi gasped as he brushed past her exposed stomach, the heat from his skin sending chills up her spine.
Deciding it wasn’t worth the trouble, he made his leave, “Maybe I’ll see you around?” His question was clearly directed to Usagi, yet she could not bring herself to answer.
“Don’t count on it,” Mamoru hissed, suddenly aware of how close her body was to his. He felt her relax as the man turned and stormed out of the arcade.
“Thanks,” she whispered, heart viciously fluttering in her chest. He slowly took a step back, afraid that if he moved too fast she would disappear.
“Are you okay?” She turned to face him and nodded. “I told you shouldn’t wear that skirt,” he teased, his mouth spreading into a grin. Usagi couldn’t help but follow suit, but one question continued to nag her.
“You were wrong though, weren’t you?” She looked up at him, doe-eyed and hopeful.
“You said I couldn’t wear it… the skirt, this outfit,” her head dropped, fearing his answer.
“I never sa – ” he started confused, but quickly realized that admitting defeat would undo the damage from the day before. He smiled, “yeah, I was wrong.” Unable to contain her emotions, Usagi threw her arms around his neck.
“Thanks Mamoru,” she beamed, and he felt his heart swell. This, by far, was his favourite reaction.
“Anytime, Odango,” he winked, and before he could catch her rebuttal he sauntered out the door.
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