Prompt: 003 ~ Beach
Fandom: Alice Nine
Focus: Shou x Erika
Word Count: 1,819
Erika wasn’t body-shy, not exactly.
She was perfectly comfortable in her own skin 99% of the time.
She’d come to terms, for the most part, with the fact that two of her four closest friends were weekly features on the covers of top fashion magazines. She’d graced a few covers with them, even, as a part-time modeling gig the two princesses of the pop scene had hooked her up with.
Erika was pretty, and she knew it.
She just wasn’t quite as pretty as Namie.
Normally, it didn’t really bother her. She could stand beside Namie in little more than lingerie on the set of a magazine shoot with her head held high. But lounging on the beach with the guys of Alice Nine was something entirely different than laying out for a photoshoot.
It wasn’t that she was body-shy.
That wasn’t the reason she had to be dragged out of the dressing room and pulled across the sand by her arms as Mira and Chisa cooed over her pretty blue bikini. Once she was mixed in with her friends, including the ones she was still getting to know in the form of Alice Nine’s members, Erika could relax a bit; enough to fully participate in all of the beach-day activities that the rockstars had deemed to be necessary vacationing activities. From playing in the waves to hitting around a volleyball, nothing in any summertime anime or jdrama ever made was left undone.
Erika managed to relax enough to participate, to join in and mess around like it was no big deal, but she was absolutely insistent on wearing a flowy little knee-length wrap around her hips tied securely in place with fancy twist of a knot. She defended her decision for the stylishness of it.
It wasn’t that she was self-conscious of the fact that her legs weren’t half as elegantly sculpted as Namie’s. Towards the end of the day, the group became more and more spread out, with Nao and Shou and Erika keeping mostly to themselves on the beach blanket and the others in various states of harassing each other among the waves. The last of the sun’s warmth was catching in the sparkly ring pinned though Erika’s belly button, but Erika knew Shou’s eyes were on the bombshell beauty that stood out from among the ranks of the entire J-rock scene.
Namie was achingly gorgeous, and insanely talented. She worked brilliantly with Shou on stage. Erika was one of her fans, and one of her friends, so of course she understood why Shou, an equally amazing musician, and vocalist to boot, would be interested in her. Besides, after playing up fanservice with her on stage, Shou would obviously be incredibly comfortable with her.
Erika didn’t begrudge her friend, but saying that she was never jealous of her would be going too far. As Erika had only very recently been pulled in to Alice Nine’s little circle, her little crush on the singer was probably just a passing phase. He’d been nice to her, really nice, a few times, but that was all. He was just a nice guy, and Erika hadn’t met too many of them in her life. She would get over being jealous of Namie.
At the moment, she could confirm quite easily that she was not over it as of yet. Shou was staring at the pop princess intently as Namie chased Chisa through the shallows of the surf, kicking water at Hiroto and Tora as she passed to the great amusement of Yuuki and Mira who were looking on from a safe distance away. Shou had opted to nap on the blanket, but as he was clearly not sleeping in the shade beside Erika she could tell that he was much more mentally involved in the happenings down the shore than he’d admitted to being.
It wasn’t long before Namie and Chisa came tumbling up the beach to their friends, demanding ice cream. Nao put his digital reader down as he looked to Mira for confirmation saying, “I think there was an ice cream shop down that way, somewhere.”
Mira, as the only one who frequented this part of Japan’s seaboard, nodded. “Yeah, it’s kinda far down there though,” she said. “Do you remember it, Erika-chan? It’s the place I took you after exams that one weekend.”
Thinking quickly, Erika nodded, “That is a pretty long walk from here, isn’t it?”
“It’s fine,” Namie assured her, adding, “I seriously need ice cream.”
Chisa was perfectly in agreement, and she helped Namie tow Erika along to show them the way without waiting to see if anyone else wanted to come. Shou and the Alice Nine guitarists opted to tag along. Saga and Yuuki came too, but they only got as far as spotting an all-you-can-drink Sake bar challenge and the two overly competitive crazies had skipped off to take the poor sucker up on his offer of ‘if you can stand on your own after three of our special bottles, they’re on the house’.
Chisa was, as always, too bouncy for her own good. This time, however, she actually got herself into trouble for it. They’d just passed what Erika knew was the half-way point when Chisa had twisted her ankle from skipping around without looking where she stepped. She tried to carry on unaided, but neither Erika nor Namie would stand for it.
“You should carry her, Tora,” Namie suggested in that strangely endearing imperious tone of hers.
“Eh? Why me?”
“You’re the strongest one here, and Chisa cannot keep walking on that ankle,” Namie pointed out.
Tora snorted. “Make Hiroto do it.”
“You’re the youngest,” Tora said matter-of-factly. “Besides, Chisa’s light enough for you to carry, nee, Hiroto-kun?”
“I am not gonna carry her!”
Shou smirked, speaking up suddenly. “The faster you get Chisa her ice-cream the faster you can get back to the hotel,” he mentioned. “You don’t have to worry though, I made sure to tell Nao to look after the instruments for you guys.”
“Nao? You didn’t. Tell me you didn’t say I was letting him touch my guitars,” Hiroto pleaded, suddenly terrified for his very survival as terrible thoughts ran through his mind.
“I’m sure he’s taking very good care of them while you’re away,” Shou teased.
No more than three seconds of terrified silence had passed before Hiroto was crouched down in front of Chisa, saying, “Get on.”
“Eh? Not a chance!” Chisa protested. “I can walk on my own.”
Between the trio coercing her, however, Chisa was pushed into accepting a piggy back ride. As soon as she was secure, Hiroto was racing off. He’d vanished into the growing darkness before Erika’s smile had even begun to fade.
The remaining quartet carried on without them, none of their goofiness lost for the fact that their number had been cut in half. Erika worked diligently to hold up her portion of the jovial atmosphere, making sure that her smiles weren’t cut short as she watched the easy way in which Namie and Shou interacted. There was none of Erika’s own shyness attached as Namie knocked her shoulder into Shou’s. Such brazenly physical behavior was simply a part of Namie’s bright personality and, of course, Shou was perfectly comfortable reacting to it in equal turn.
But then suddenly, surprisingly sudden amidst Erika’s musings, Shou was giving her elbow a tug and subtly slowing her down as Tora and Namie walked, and bickered, on without them. The pair didn’t even notice Shou and Erika’s disappearance.
“Are you okay? You’ve seemed a bit . . . off today,” Shou mentioned quietly.
“I’m fine,” Erika replied, mustering up her most convincing smile. “I’m just a bit tired or something, I dunno. But we’d better catch up to them or we’ll never get them to stop monopolizing each other completely!”
“They’re kind of adorable like that, aren’t they?”
Erika smiled. It was cute how they completely took over every bit of each other’s attention. “Unless you have any desire to be a part of the conversation,” Erika pointed out.
“Then it’s a good thing I’d rather watch,” Shou replied, looking back from Erika to the wildly gesticulating guitarist as Namie turned her nose up away from him.
“Eh? I thought you’d want to get in there a bit, at least have a fighting chance at her attention,” Erika mentioned.
Shou looked back to her curiously. “Where’d you get that idea?”
“I dunno, you’ve just been watching her a lot lately,” Erika mentioned, successfully making her voice sound completely impartial. With perfectly acted teasing, she added, “I was beginning to think you liked her or something.”
“Namie? Nah, not me,” Shou replied quickly with a laugh. “I might have thought about it once, but she’s a bit too much for me. I wish Tora all the luck in the world though; he’ll need it to survive their little romance. Even if they are perfect for each other.”
Erika agreed. “They are pretty perfect for each other, aren’t they? Both of them are too headstrong for their own good!”
“We should secretly film them and sell it to Hollywood as a romantic comedy,” Shou suggested mischievously.
Laughing, Erika responded, “We would be millionaires over night!”
“All the more reason to do it! I was just thinking about how much it would piss them off,” Shou explained. “But really, are you okay? Those two might not have noticed anything aside from each other, but I just want to make sure.”
Erika nodded, and smiled at the singer with significantly less acting behind the expression. “Yeah, I’m fine. I just didn’t sleep very well last night.”
“You should make sure to take care of yourself!” Shou instructed firmly.
It was at this point that Erika realized two things. First, that they had stopped walking altogether; and secondly that Shou’s hand was still on her arm. Upon her revelation, Erika blushed furiously. She managed not to make it too obvious and shifted so that his hand slid down to hold hers, instead of resting on her elbow, and said, “Nee, Shou-kun, let’s go get some ice cream. Someone’s gotta be around to make sure that Namie and Tora don’t kill each other before they get a chance to actually start dating!”
If Shou hesitated, it was only for the briefest second as he reflected on Erika’s hand fitting neatly in his. Then he gave the hand he was holding a gentle squeeze and stepped forward with her as he replied, “I don’t know, I think I crime of passion might be the perfect ending to our little movie plot, a fitting end to a day at the beach.”
Laughing, Erika was able to counter his comment without reserve, feeling infinitely more relaxed than she had been only moments earlier. Tora and Namie aside, getting to talk with Shou over ice cream was the perfect ending to Erika’s day at the beach.