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Best Kept Secret

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~4 Years Ago~
The bar was busier than usual that night, from the room you were in you could hear roars of laughter, loud speaking and the music blaring. With a heavy sigh, you drank your vodka in one, coughing as the liquid warmed your throat before you poured yourself another. This was your usual routine-whether the bar was busy or not. About 3 shots of vodka and 2 cigarettes before you went on stage with another girl. Even though you had been doing this for 2 years now, it never got any easier. Sure, you were better and less nervous now than when you first started work, but it wasn't any easier to walk out onto the stage with all those people watching you. Some were okay, they simply watched and applauded you at the end before giving you some money. But then there were those who tried to touch you as you worked, those who shouted obscenities and tried to follow you into the back room when you were finished, or stuffed the money into your underwear, purposely letting their hand wander farther than it should. As you blew out a cloud of cigarette smoke, you saw the girl you were working with that night enter the room in the mirror. She looked as beautiful as ever- her porcelain skin had no blemishes on, her eye make up was perfect and her blonde hair-that reached her waist-fell in delicate curls. She beamed a smile to you and stepped into the room further to examine herself in the mirror.

"It's busy tonight. Do you think this set is okay? It's new, but looks quite bland, right?" She asked you, you stubbed out your cigarette and turned to look at her, smiling a little and shaking your head. With a deep sigh, she waved her hand and nodded. "It will have to do. We're on, are you ready?" You nodded and, when you stood, dropped your robe, leaving you standing in your heeled boots, stockings, black underwear and black bra. You didn't look at yourself in the mirror, if you did you wouldn't go out there. When Mei put her hand in yours, you turned to look at her and smiled. "Come on, let's get this done!" As you both stepped onto the podiums, the crowd of men all cheered and instantly moved forwards- the two front rows were all older looking men dressed in suits, clearly people who had come straight from work that evening. You recognised some of the men as regulars, knowing you saw them at least twice a week, maybe even more. When the music began to play- a rock song that was popular in the charts that week, you and Mei started your usual routine. The metal pole was oddly warm that night, though you didn't know why. All through your routine you did your best not to look out at the men watching you, whenever you did it distracted you and you always felt sick. When you felt a hand touch your thigh, you quickly turned your hips and span around the pole- causing the hand to fall from your leg. However, when you turned back around a hand forced it's way into your underwear, leaving two notes there. With a shudder, you nodded in thanks to whoever put them there before spinning once again on the pole. When the song finally finished, the men applauded and yourself and Mei quickly bowed before stooping to collect the money that had been thrown. When it was all collected, you quickly made your way back into the room and poured two vodkas for yourself and Mei to steady your nerves. Mei was the first person you spoke to at the club and you had been close friends with her ever since, she looked after you and made sure nobody took advantage of you. "Thanks doll. Here, this is your half." You smiled in thanks to her and placed the money in your bra until you could collect your bag at the end of the night.

"Why does that never get any easier?" You asked her, Mei stood behind you and gently massaged your shoulders as you finished your drink, pouring yourself another instantly. You heard a gentle sigh from Mei, though she said nothing. You lit a cigarette and passed it back to her before lighting one for yourself. "I thought I would be used to it by now, but I'm not. I feel like they're judging me, judging my body. I mean, look at you and the rest of the girls here. You're all beautiful! But me? I'm foreign and chubby, they probably watch me for a form of comedy." You sighed deeply and brought your cigarette to your lips.

"Hey! That's enough! I've told you before, the customers love foreign girls, you have a sense of mystery about you! And your body is beautiful, why else would they stuff money into your pants, huh?" Mei asked, you raised your eyes to look at her through the mirror, seeing her smiling beautifully to you again. "And as for all the girls in here being beautiful, I can think of a few who certainly aren't." This made you laugh and, hearing this and seeing your smile, Mei started to laugh too as she massaged your shoulders a little more. After 10 minutes, it was time for yourself and Mei to go back into the club and serve drinks until the end of your shifts in 4 hours time. You were exhausted, you had been working for hours and didn't finish until 3 AM. When you entered the bar again, it was less busy than before and the music had changed to a heavier rock band that you were a fan of- with a smile, you picked up a tray, some glasses and checked what was going to which table. Although this part of your job wasn't as bad as the dancing, it still wasn't enjoyable- the drunken men would touch you when you walked past or try to give you money in exchange for other things, which was always received in bad form when you told them it was against the rules if they were drunk enough. When your shift finally came to an end, yourself and Mei got dressed and gathered your bags and coats, saying goodnight to the men behind the bar who were closing that night before you walked out onto the dark street. Luckily, Mei only lived two streets away from you and so you shared a cab to her apartment and walked the rest of the way to your own. When you climbed out of the car, Mei reached into her bag to find her keys and smiled to you when she found them. "Now, you text me when you're home, you hear?" Although you had always had this agreement, you nodded and smiled before hugging Mei and walking away once she locked her door. You always kept your keys in your hands in case of any trouble, though you had never had anything bad- usually just drunken people on their way home from nights out. When you reached the end of your street, however, you sighed when you saw a group of men walking towards you- clearly drunk. You lowered your head, kept your eyes on the ground and quickly walked forward, hoping they would just let you pass. However, one man bumped into you purposely and caused you to stagger a little: another man caught you and wouldn't let go, causing you to gasp as you tried to escape.

"What's a thing like you doing alone at this time of morning?" One man asked as he stepped closer to you, blowing cigarette smoke into your face and making you cough. Noticing your keys had fallen to the floor, he stooped to pick them up and laughed as he showed them to the rest of the group. "Lets, see...do you live in this apartment block?" As the other men laughed, you again tried to get out of the man's grip but failed.

"I wonder which one?" Another man asked, you looked down at the floor and attempted to kick your legs backwards. "She has fight in her! She could be fun!" This caused the men to all laugh as the man's grip tightened on your arms, causing you to groan.

"Fuck you!" You shouted as you spat into the man's face, he groaned and dropped your keys again, causing them to fall on the pavement with a metallic clunk. He wiped his cheek and looked at you, only this time his eyes were burning with anger and his teeth were gritted.

"You bitch!" He shouted aggressively as he brought his fist forward, punching you in the stomach. You jerked forward and gasped as the air was knocked from your chest and your stomach burned with pain. You didn't have time to gather your breath again, however, as the man took hold of your face harshly and forced your head up to look at him. "Nobody does that to me, you understand?" When you said nothing, he laughed again and ripped open your coat, sending buttons falling onto the pavement and into the road. You were only wearing a simple dress, something that was easy to remove and dress into again at work. You screamed a little when the man ripped the chest of the dress a little, exposing some of your bra. "Well, look at this, guys. Seems someone likes wearing expensive underwear."

"Get off me!" You screamed, wildly swinging your legs once again with no success. The men all laughed as the man in front stepped closer and took a tight grip on your hair, yanking your head back. You thought about shouting to try and wake someone up, but you didn't know if anybody would help you. You opened your mouth to shout, however the man noticed this and instantly locked his mouth onto yours, forcing his tongue into your mouth. You screamed against his lips and violently jerked your knee forward, ramming it into his crotch and causing him to fall back, away from you. You spat on to the pavement and tried to kick the man behind you, though failed again. As the man in front now rolled around in pain on the floor, the two other men checked on their friend. When one turned to look at you and stood, you gasped and closed your eyes as you expected a harsh punch, however it never came. Instead, you heard shouting and the sounds of kicking and punching- when you opened your eyes you saw the two men on the floor being attacked by two other men. One was being kicked in the stomach whilst the other was being punched. The man behind you threw you forward, on to the pavement and tried to run away, however a man with long black hair began to run after him and eventually caught him- he leapt onto his back and instantly started to punch the man. You now looked to the man in front of you with short black hair, wearing a black leather jacket and black jeans. He was kneeling on the floor, gripping one of the men by the collar of his jacket.

"Stay the fuck away, do you hear me?" He shouted as threw the man on to the floor. "All of you piss off!" He started to kick the three men on the floor until they stood and ran as best as they could, some limping. The man further down the road had stood from the man who had been holding you and kicked him once before he ran away with the rest of the men. "Hey, are you okay?" You looked forward again to see the man kneeling in front of you, looking at you with worried eyes. "Hello? Can you hear me?"

"Is she okay? Jesus, look at her! Those bastards." The other man said to his friend as he ran back to you, he stood behind his friend and looked at you. Both men had kind faces, though you were still a little nervous around them. The man knelt in front of you reached out and touched your hand, causing you to jump and yank your hand away.

"It's okay! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. Are you okay? Did they hurt you?" He asked, you finally managed to shake your head- earning a sigh of relief from the two men.

"T...thank you. Seriously. Thank you both so much!" You exclaimed, lunging forward and hugging the man in front of you. You heard him make a quiet noise of surprise before his arms wrapped around you. You reached your hand out to the man standing behind and he took it with a smile. When you sat back and looked at the two men again, you sighed and ran a hand through your hair. "What the fuck just happened?"

"You tell us, we saw that scumbag try to force himself onto you. Nice kick to the balls, by the way." The man standing said with a small smile, bringing a sense of comfort to you. You laughed a little and nodded. The man kneeling in front of you was looking at your arms, causing you to do the same. You groaned when you saw four finger tip shaped bruises forming on each arm- how would you hide those at work? It was only when you thought of work that you remembered the punch to your stomach, a violent jolt of pain shot through your body and you groaned loudly. "Hey,are you okay?"

"Yeah...He punched me in the stomach, it just hurts a little." You told him, hearing them both sigh.

"Here, let me help you up." The man kneeling in front of you said- with a nod, you took his hands and stood slowly, groaning in pain once again. "Here, I think these are yours." You nodded when he handed you your keys and your bag. "Do you want us to take you to the hospital?"

"No, I live just here. How about that for bad luck, huh?" You asked, laughing a little. The two men looked up at the apartment and nodded. "Here, let me give you guys some money as a thanks." When you started to bring money from your bag, the two men instantly shook their heads.

"Don't be ridiculous! We couldn't just walk by and ignore those bastards. Are you sure you're okay?" The man in front of you asked, you nodded and smiled a little. "I'm Toshiya, this is Kaoru." The man standing behind you both smiled and waved to you, making you smile.

"(name). Thank you again...I don't know what they would have done if you hadn't have come along." You told them, both men nodded.

"I guess it's better not to think about it." Toshiya said to you, making you nod. "Well, you best get inside, you'll catch your death out here. It was nice to meet you, Miss." You smiled a little and shook both men's hands once again, thanking them one last time before you entered your apartment building. Once inside, you locked your front door and moved your table in front of your door. You removed your torn jacket and dress, sighing when you looked in the mirror to see a blue bruise already forming on your abdomen.

"Great." Was all you muttered to yourself before you headed to bed.