She turned around at the sound of someone calling her name in a not actually very quiet whisper. Top star Sena Jun peeked out from a barely opened door and furtively gestured for her to come over. "Yes, Sena-san?" There was something about that gleam in the top star's eyes that made her more than slightly nervous. The Cheshire cat grin almost certainly didn't help either.
"Come here, Kacha," Sena-san mimed pawing like a maneki neko. "I need your help."
She nodded and walked towards the open door. Behind it, she heard girlish chatter mixed with laughter and rustling of cloth. Tsukigumi, it seemed, was 'up to something (tm)', and it looked like their top star, as usual, was in the thick of it. Then again, the offstage (and sometimes onstage) antics of one Sena Jun were practically legendary, even among the other troupes. "Of course, Sena-san, what can I help you with?" A little nagging voice told her that she may very well regret this, but still, it was impolite to ignore a request from a top star.
"So..." Sena-san gave her a conspriratorial grin, "Rudolf, or should I say Rudolfs, have a surprise planned for Franz-papa. And I need you to help me distract Kiriyan so she doesn't walk in before it's ready and ruin it."
"Distract Hiromu-san?" The first mental image that came to mind of what Sena-san meant by 'distracting' was ... well, breaking the Sumire Code would be the least of her concerns. After all, she had heard about that incident concerning Sena-san, Hiromu-san, and the tendency for lipstick to become smeared on stage should certain things happen. Kacha felt her face heat up and realized she was turning a rather spectacular shade of crimson.
"Oh, not like that!" Sena-san laughed, though her eyes twinkled mischeviously. "Though I doubt she'd mind, seeing how you're supposed to be husband and wife and all. Kiriyan's a good sport about that sort of thing."
"I..." Kacha sputtered inchoherently at what the top star was suggesting.
"Don't worry, Kacha, I'm just teasing you," Sena-san punched her lightly in the arm. "You're too easy." A strand of an oddly suggestive French song cut through their converstation, and Sena-san pulled out her cell. "'cuse me, Kacha. Moshi moshi...yes...ok, great...one second." She covered the mouthpiece with one hand, "That was Kiriyan's daihyou. Her car just pulled up. Go distract her and make sure she doesn't come in for ... hey guys, how much longer do you need?"
"Fifteen minutes!" the first voice sounded like Ahi-san.
"The longer the better!" someone, Mirio probably, called out from the back.
"Great! Well, Kacha, you have your orders," Sena-san grinned at her again. Kacha felt butterflies settle in her stomach. "Go make sure Kiriyan doesn't bother us for at least fifteen minutes, the longer the better. I don't care how you manage it, but you do change your mind, there's probably no one in the music rooms on the fifth floor at this hour, so you're not likely to get caught. Good luck." Then the door closed, and Sena-san disappeared back inside with the rest of the conspirators. She heard more peals of laughter in the background as she walked down the hall. The feeling of impending doom grew stronger.
Kacha saw Hiromu-san as she was coming out from the changing rooms and ran to intercept her. "Ummm...Hiromu-san? Could I ask you for a favor?" she stopped as Hiromu-san saw her and asked hesitantly.
"Sure, Kacha," Hiromu-san paused and nodded. "What do you need?"
"Well...um..." she bit her lip and tried not to look anywhere near as nervous as she felt, "I was wondering if you could help with the...um...dance in the scene after the wedding..."
"Oh," Hiromu-san gave her a slightly odd look, "I didn't think you had any problems with it yesterday. What do you need help with?"
"Ummm..." Kacha gulped under the unexpected scrutiny. Irrationally, she wondered if Sena-san's suggestion might have worked better.
"Ok, Kacha, out with it," Hiromu-san narrowed her eyes. "What's Asako up to *now*?" The exasperation in the last word told Kacha that this probably wasn't the first (and nor would it be the last) time the Tsukigumi top star had something planned for her hapless nibante.
"Nothing..." Kacha tried, as politely as possible, to block Hiromu-san's path without actually getting in the way.
"So...who *else* is involved in whatever harebrained plan Asako hatched up?" Hiromu-san tapped one foot impatiently.
"I don't know...Mirio I think," the name came out before she really thought about what she was saying. She hurriedly put one hand over her mouth, but too late.
"You're not a very good lackey, are you, Kacha?" Hiromu-san smiled lazily. "Or didn't Asako tell you that you're supposed to keep details like that a secret?"
"No, she just said I was supposed to distract you."
"Did she give you a definition of the word 'distract?'"
"Yes, but..." Kacha slowly realized that there was no explaination that wouldn't break the Sumire Code in some way and blushed.
"I see," Hiromu-san's smile turned into a smirk. "And here I thought you'd at least take her up on the suggestion."
Kacha wondered if there wasn't perhaps a convinient rock to hide under for the next day or so. Bad enough Sena-san enjoyed tweaking her tail, but apparently Hiromu-san did too.
"Never mind," Hiromu-san looked at the expression on her face and hid a smile behind her hand. "Asako's right. You *are* too easy to tease. So Mirio is involved in this little scheme, huh? I'll bet the other two of them are in on it too. And if Asako's anywhere near it, Sonoka and Masaki probably are too." She began to walk down the hall at a fast pace. "Come on, Kacha, if we hurry, I can catch them in the act. You'd think the kumichou would have some sort of restaining influence on that crowd, but Asako technically outranks her." Kacha tagged along, feeling for all the world like a half grown puppy who wasn't sure where quite to put her paws walking behind Hiromu-san.
Hiromu-san pushed the door open to reveal a completely dark rehearsal room. She looked around for a moment warily. "All right, Asako, what's going on?"
The lights came on, along with a recording of 'According to Plan'. A pair of figures in black and white striped shirts, black jackets, and black pants launched into song and dance. Kacha hid a grin as she recongized Masaki-san and Sena-san as Lucheni. Then the three Rudolfs, each in her proper blue military jacket, emerged carrying a cake and flowers for their 'Franz-papa'. Hiromu-san burst into laughter as the three gave her profuse apologies for associating with the revolutionaries and wished her a Happy Father's Day. Hiromu-san was laughing too hard to respond properly by the time the two Lucheni and three Rudolfs gave their bows to her.
Sena-san saunted over to her afterwards as they all sat and gossiped and shared the rather delicious chocolate cake. "I thought you could keep Kiriyan occupied for longer than that, Kacha. You should try harder next time."
Next time? Kacha resisted the urge to give the top star a dirty look. Once was bad enough, thank you very much.
"She did try her best, Asako," Hiromu-san called out from the other side of the room, "but Kacha just doens't have your level of ... experience yet."
"We can work on that, I'm sure," Sena-san gave her a look that was just short of illegal.
Kacha groaned. The show run was *almost* over. There couldn't be that many more plans like this one, could there? The grins on the upperclassmen were not particularly reassuring. She was most definitely doomed...