My alarm clock rang after I opened my eyes. I don't know why I kept insisting on placing an alarm, if I already naturally wake up at this hour. I quickly sat up, stretching and
rubbing my eyes, a habit I just couldn't get rid of at this point. Scattered around my bed were manga and fairy tail books. I set them aside and got out of bed. I took a deep breath
and sighed happily. I noticed that this past year, getting out of bed was a godsend compared to how I used to live. I always wake up with excitement for the day ahead of me. For
once, I finally get excited to see people. These people include Syoko, Mirei, Rin, Sachiko, and even the Producer. I even think I can consider them friends at this point. Since I've
became an idol, life has been going well for me, despite me not knowing that much of the idol world. I change out of my PJ's to one of my usual outfits, a blue blouse with flower
buttons on it, under it, a beige shirt, accompanied with a skirt and a cap with a brown flower on it. Every time I look at myself at the mirror, I don't think I'm worthy enough to be
an idol, but everyone always tells me otherwise. I opened the door to the hallway, and exit my sanctuary. As I passed through my house, my mom called from the study room.
"Have fun today!"
I smiled, and stepped outside, closing the door behind me. The breeze hit me instantly, the sun shining brightly in my eyes, I was ready for the day ahead of me.
I once again found myself hiding under the producer's desk. With my hands holding my legs close to my chest, I take a deep sigh and ponder about this morning. Where did all
the energy go? I can't even delude myself into thinking I won't find myself under this desk. Despite this, Syoko or Mirei always try to make me come out, as well as Rin. I should
be thankful really, even if I moan and groan, I still appreciate them trying to help me break out of my shell. As expected, both of Syoko's and Mirei's head popped from above
the desk. The moment I saw their hair dangling in front of me, I looked up and smiled at them, they were smiling back. "Say, when are you thinking of leaving this desk
behind?" Mirei said shining a big grin. Both Syoko and Mirei dropped down, and started pulling me out of my desk, I still resisted, but each time they did it, I always tried a little
softer. I finally gave in, an unexpected move by the two. They pulled me hard, resulting me landing on both of them.
"O-oof.." Syoko said, as I realized I was mainly on top of her.
"A-ah, I-I'm so sorry!" I quickly got off.
"J-jeez, let us know when you give in!" Mirei said, trying to contain her laughter. Once I got over my terrible anxiety attack of how this will ultimately ruin our friendship, It
seemed very funny to me. As Mirei broke her silence with a chuckle, I soon started to laugh a little as well, followed by Syoko.
"Nono, we came here to tell you that we might actually have an opportunity! The Producer is letting us preform for some big shots." The moment Mirei mentioned "preform", I
froze. I looked over at Syoko.
"Y-yeah, I'm not sure if you want to write a new song..O-or just stick with the one's we got.."
Preforming? I can't! I already preformed dozens of times, and they all went good..but I just can't! "Preforming...me? Impossible. I rather be in my desk. " As I started to crawl
back into my desk, Syoko and Mirei quickly grabbed both of my legs to prevent me from going back.
"Hey! Wheredya' think you're going? We got to preform tonight!"
"Tonight?! Why tonight?! Nono can't practice for tonight! I'll do horribly!" I responded to Mirei, as I desperately tried to go back in hiding, this time will full force. I found my
efforts fruitless, as the two kept on pulling me. For a second I had a chance! My fingers almost reached, but then I felt two hands grip my sides, I squealed as I was picked up. I
looked up to see it was Rin Shibuya. Rin smiled at me, as she carried me all the way to the practice room. I just sighed, at this point, I gave on trying to runaway. On the way
towards the practice room, Rin broke the silence. "Say, Nono, I hear Individuals will be preforming tonight?"
"Er..Yes, that is true. Nono is pretty worried tho..I'd rather be under my desk."
"Nono, you've done incredible so far in your past live shows."
"That's true, but Nono can't shake the feeling that everything's gonna go wrong.."
Rin chuckled, "It's okay, I'll keep supporting you. Interesting enough, I was supposed to preform tonight but I turned it down once I knew who it was for."
I perked up, "Who was it for? Turning down a live show..I wish I could do that."
"It was another creepy producer, honestly? I think he's a Yakuza as well."
I stayed silent for the rest of the trip. Finally, Rin let me down in the practice room, as Syoko and Mirei waited for me, ready to practice for the live show.
"A-ah, Rin..thank you for bringing her here." Syoko said, as she held her pot of mushrooms.
Mirei just made a 'hmph' sound, and began to practice along with Syoko, I turned back to Rin to thank you. "A-ah, Rin, thank you, I suppose.."
Rin smiled at me, and started walking out. I guess I was stuck here for the remainder of the day. I begin my stretching, as the rest of the two are practicing the chirography. As
I stretched, I observed Syoko and Mirei dancing, they were really talented. Seeing them dance like that, almost made me a bit more positive about the live show tonight.
"1,2,3! 1,2,3! 1,2,3!" Mirei and Syoko would repeat, in which later I would join in too, following their lead. 1,2,3. 1,2, 3. I was getting the hang of it really, despite this, I'm still
terribly anxious about this.
I found myself on top of the others, it all happened so fast. We spent a few hours practicing, and with one bad step, we all tumbled like dominoes. I couldn't get up, I just
couldn't, I'm pretty sure they felt the same. We were exhausted.
"O-oof..We d-did great guys!" Syoko said, as she tried to catch her breath.
"Y-yeah! We're totally ready for the show." Mirei replied.
I had my eyes closed until I heard footsteps, I raised my head to see who it was. It was the Producer along with Rin.
"Girls, we're going to start heading towards the place you will preform in." Producer said, as Rin stood silently next to Producer, she seemed to be worried about something.
"A-ah..What happened her?" Rin would eventually break her silence, clearly noticing the pile on the floor. I quickly stood up and dusted off my clothes. "Aha, don't worry about
us. We just had a little fall.." I said, fiddling with my fingers.
"Ah, I see now." Rin smiled sweetly. "Well, whenever you three are ready, meet us at the front entrance, but uh, Nono? Would you mind walking with me to the dressing room?"
This took me by surprise actually, I wasn't so sure why, but there was no way I was going to reject her offer. "Ah, sure..." I slowly walked towards her, starting to walk next to
her side. It was silent for a while, and as always she started talking first. "Hey, Nono. I wanted to talk to you about the place you're going to." I looked at her, "Yes..?"
"I was talking to the producer, and I found more about the place. It's run by that same shady guy I mentioned earlier."
"Is it..? Not even Nono knew where I was going.."
"Yeah..I mentioned this to Producer, to see if he could cancel it, unfortunately it's too late. So I want you three to be careful, okay? Especially since it's in a bad part of town."
It was silent for the remainder of the trip, until we finally reached the dressing room, as I was about enter, Rin stopped me. "Just, take care of the other two, okay?" I tried to
make eye contact, but just couldn't. "Nono will do her best."
Rin smiled, and parted her own ways, I turned back and entered into the dressing room. It's not like anything bad can happen right? With the Producer watching, I'm sure we
are in safe hands. For now, I just need to get dressed and focus on the live show.
"Nono, h-hurry up!" Syoko called from the glass doors, as I jogged to her, the car was waiting outside and Mirei was visibly getting impatient. The dress on me as well as high
heels made it a bit harder for me to run as fast. "S-sorry! I'm sorry, I couldn't get the zipper up."
Syoko just smiled, "It's okay! We're going to do great tonight!" She said with her loud voice, which she would usually have whenever she got overly excited about something.
"Alright, girls. Let's give them a show of a lifetime." Despite his kind words, Producer said it in a monotone voice. We quickly got in the car, with Mirei resulting in sitting in the
middle. As per Syoko's request, the driver let the rooftop window open, I feel as if me and Mirei can both tell what Syoko really wanted to do. I stared outside of my window, the
night life of this city always took me by surprise, despite it being loud, full of people, and an overall scary place, I felt a strange affinity with it. The night lights sparkling from
the cars, skyscrapers and street lights. Suddenly, the driver spoke to the three of us. "Hey, you girls can pop your head out the window if ya like."
Syoko immediately got up, being the first one to pop out her head. Followed by Mirei, and which would be soon be followed by me. I originally didn't want to, but Mirei
extended her arm to grab my hand, pulling me up. For a second I lost my balance once my head popped up, but I quickly held a grip on the roof of the car. I looked around to
see that me and Syoko's hair was flowing in the wind, along with Mirei. I'm not going to lie, the fresh wind in my face felt rather comforting. I closed my eyes, and for the first
time this day I felt relaxed. While I still did have Rin's warning in mind, it wasn't really a bother that much, since I did tell her I would try my best.
I opened my eyes, I didn't feel the breeze anymore, I suppose we're here. I dropped into my seat, and got out of the car, Mirei would follow, and Syoko would join us up in the
entrance. It's strange actually, I never been to this part of town. The city lights weren't as dominant as the streets we passed before, and the people walking around the street
seemed more scary. My anxiety was acting up again, so I scooted closer to Syoko. As I did, Mirei scooted closer to me as well. In the end, the three of us had to squeeze
through the door to fit in. The inside wasn't at all like I imagine, sure, it was elegant, but it was more smaller. There were frames of girls on the walls, well girls would be an
understatement. They were more developed and grown. The atmosphere here was getting to me, I turned to the others. "H-hey..guys, did anyone tell you we were preforming
here?" The two shook their head. "I was just told that we were preforming tonight." Syoko replied. I took in a deep breath, a familiar sense of impending doom overtook my
chest. Well, whatever, all we had to do was preform, and that'll be the night. Nothing more. As we begin to walk further into this building, a strange, large man approached us.
He smiled brightly at us, examining us. I suddenly realize what Rin was trying to warn me about. The type of man who proposed to the Producer that we preformed here
tonight. I grabbed both of Syoko's and Mirei's hands, I promised to Rin that I'll do my best, and I plan on going through with that promise.
"Ah, you must be the Individuals unit." The stranger bowed, and out of pure politeness, we bowed too. "My name is Hiromori, but you can just call me Hiro-san!"
I couldn't trust this stranger. Despite his smile seeming genuine, something was holding me back from trusting him too much. The Producer interrupted him by proceeding to
introduce himself, and talking about the night ahead. Suddenly, a dresser would greet us and direct us to the dressing room. As we began walking with the dresser, I looked
back to see Hiromori smiling, while the Producer kept his usual monotone expression.
Despite the atmosphere and Hiromori, the dresser was pretty friendly. She direced us to the dressing room, where make-up was waiting for us. Despite being a guy, the make-
up artist was pretty gentle with the make up, and even pretty good at it! It helped me come down a bit, and pumped me up for the show. The mood in the three of us is at a
high right now.
"Alright! We're totally going to own this show!" Syoko shouted at the top of lounges.
"Syoko, calm down! However, I do agree with you, this show's going to probably be our best one yet!" Mirei said with a smirk.
"Nono..didn't think I could be excited for a live show.." I smiled at the rest, feeling confident. Perhaps this could be a push for me to break out of my shell, and embrace the
idol world in full. A stage director knocked on the door and entered. "Individuals, you're on in 5 minutes!" He left as quickly as he came. I got up from the seat, and took a deep
breath. "G-girls, let's rock this show!" I said, with a half-smile, and a clenched fist. Mirei and Syoko looked at me like I was an alien, and I just had to cover my face as they
started to laugh. Despite them laughing, I knew they supported me. I could tell from the way they proceeded to hug me, and cheer on for me, and for themselves.
"Let's give them a show they will never forget!"
"Individuals! Let's go!"
It all went like a breeze, I stood there panting, alongside with Mirei in the center, and Syoko in the right. The hard lighting making us sweat even more. The crowd began
cheering and applauding, the glow sticks dancing in the darkness of the crowd. Suddenly, once I finish the song, and hear the applause of the audience, I wonder why I was
ever anxious in the first place. Preforming here with my friends, feeling as if I'm a princess in one of my fairy tale stories, in the end, it's all worth it. Syoko and Mirei grab me
from the hands and we go to the backstage. The Producer was waiting for us, and he smiles a little to show us that he was pleased with the performance. Suddenly, Hiromori
appeared behind us, putting his arms around me and Syoko. I jumped once he placed his large arms on me, it was surely unexpected. It didn't matter, because hopefully this
was the last time we had to deal with him. Suddenly, Rin appeared from behind the Producer, my eyes lit up.
"Nono! Syoko, how did you guys do? Sorry, I was a little late!" Rin smiled at us, as she inched closer. "Nono and Syoko did great." The Producer responded, I nodded, and smiled
at Rin. Honestly, I wished that she would of been able to see the whole live show.
This question hit me like a fright train. I suddenly realized that Hiromori's arm was no longer around me. I quickly turned to Syoko.
"Syoko, h-have you seen Mirei?"
Syoko shook her head. "N-no, not until Rin came."
I felt as my heart dropped out of my body. "E-excuse me for one second.."
I started to run in the opposite direction. I was looking around every corner of the backstage, and she wasn't no where to be found. I ran into the dressing room, and she still
wasn't there. I looked around every accessible location, and still no sign of her. The anxiety I was feeling in my chest got worse by the tenfold, the cold, numb sensation
spreading to my arms and legs.
I returned to the dressing room, and crawled under the table. I couldn't withstand it anymore, I had to be somewhere where I felt safe. I held my legs close to my chest, I
couldn't help but to cry. I didn't understand why I was crying. I'm pretty sure Mirei is safe. Could it be because of the promise I broke? Could it be out of the anxiety itself? It
didn't matter, I was still crying. I heard a few foot steps, I looked up to see who it was. My eyes widen, it was Mirei! I quickly crawled out of the desk and embraced her. I found
myself crying on her shoulder.
"H-hey! Nono? What are you crying about now?" Mirei said in a rather tough tone, but her hug spoke differently. "M-Mirei, I'm sorry..I'm sorry! I just don't know. I felt like
something bad happened to you or something."
Mirei let go, and smiled. "D-don't worry, I'm A-Ok! I'm fine, you're fine, Syoko's fine. We are all fine." Something about the way she said it, and the body language she was
giving off made me feel like otherwise, but it's okay now, since she's okay and here right in front of me. "Mirei, let's please go home..I don't want to be here anymore." I said as
I took her hand. She squeezed my hand, "Sure, let's go get Syoko and head out of this place already."
We quickly rushed to get Syoko and the Producer, as we left the place, the driver was thankfully already waiting for us. We got on half-paced, since we were still tired from the
live show, and I was tired from running around the entire place. I slumped down on my seat, laying my head on Mirei, who again sat in the middle, Syoko laying her head on
Mirei as well. It seems we were all too tired to pop our heads out of the window again. I yawned sightly, and my eyes started to close a bit. Perhaps I'll just sleep the right
I tried my best.
The next day, I found myself in my usual spot, under the Producers desk. In a few minutes, I would expect that Mirei and Syoko, or Rin would drag me out and make me
socialize. Sometimes it would even be Sachiko to pull me out. Other days it was simple, Syoko or Sachiko would accompany me and sit with me under the desk. For me, those
were one of the better days, it was way more relaxing and friendly to my way of living. Just as I mention this, Syoko's silver colored hair appeared before me, as I looked up,
Syoko was smiling at me. I smiled back, shuffled aside and patted the floor, inviting her to join me under the desk. She dropped from the top of the desk, and crawled under to
sit next to me. "Nono..I think you did great last night." Syoko said, holding her pot of mushrooms. "The mushrooms say so too.."
"Well..Nono thinks that Syoko did an amazing job last night.." I responded.
"Nono..has Mirei stopped by here today?"
I turned to Syoko. "N-no, Mirei hasn't come here at all. Have you not seen her today?"
Syoko shook her head.
"That's weird..Mirei is always here..everyday." I replied. I didn't think much of it first, not everyone could have a perfect attendance record. Maybe she had something to do
today. Perhaps she was just under the weather. "Hey, Syoko. Do you happen to know where Mirei lives?"
Syoko shook her head, "P-perhaps we can ask the producer.."
"A-ah, it would be to awkward to ask him upfront.." Maybe I can get someone to ask him for me, since Syoko may not want to either. Suddenly, a small, cute purple haired idol
popped up from the door. It was Sachiko, she approched the two of us. "Nono, still hiding under the desk huh? I see you got Syoko ropped in too.
"A-actually, Sachiko..Can we ask you for a favor?"
"We need you to ask the Producer were Mirei lives, for us. We'll go ask with you but uh.."
Sachiko smiled. "Sure, let's go ahead then!"
After the awkward confrontation, we were in front of Mirei's house. Her house wasn't anything as I expected. The elegance and size of it didn't math with Mirei at all, for a
second I was sure that we had the wrong place, but after matching it with the ripped sheet of paper we had with the address written on it, we felt confident enough to knock on
the door. As we waited, I looked around the front garden. It had flowers of all sorts, and little stone pathways. It was nice, definitely nicer than my place. As I was analyzing the
flowers further, the door in front of us opened. It was Mirei's mother. She was tall and pretty. She smiled at us, giving a little wave. "Hi girls! What can i do for you two?" This
was the first time we ever met her mom, so we had to introduce ourselves. Obviously we had too, but it was awkward for us. Syoko started off with the introductions. "H-hello,
my name is Syoko Hoshi..I'm one of your daughter's friend.." She turned to me, "And this is.."
"Nono," I interrupted, "Nono Morikubo. I'm also one of your daughter's friends. Mirei, that is. We also work with her. Do you happen to know she is?"
"Ah, Mirei? She actually just left a few minutes ago to walk in the park..the one 3 minutes away from here, if you take a left..It's also nice to meet you two!" She bowed, and we
bowed in return. "W-well, it was a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Hayasaka. Please excuse us." Before we bowed, she interrupted with an invitation inside. "Actually, why don't you
girls wait for Mirei inside? I can provide some refreshments!" I didn't like to say no, I looked over to Syoko, and she nodded. "Y-yes, that be very nice!" Syoko said, smiling.
Mirei's mother smiled back, stepping aside to let us in. We quietly went it.
The inside of Mirei's house impressed me even more. It was well organized, and rather modern. It had some hint's of Western as well. Mirei's mother directed us towards the
kitchen, in which we sat in the table.
"How long have you two known Mirei?" Mirei's mother asked as she got us water.
"We known her for a year now. We're actually in a unit together..did she tell you we preformed last night?"
Mirei's mother nodded as she placed a glass of water in front of me, and another in front of Syoko. "Yes, she did. She came home pretty upset tho, so I was wondering if
something went bad with the show?"
"No, actually. The show was amazing." I said.
"She was doing great." Syoko added in.
"Hm, that's strange then," She sat down across from us, "I was trying to see what I can get out of her but, she wouldn't budge."
"Well, all I know is that she disappeared for a few seconds after the show..It made me worry a lot."
"I see, well please make yourselves feel at home! I'll open Mirei's room so you can wait for her there." We grabbed our glasses of water we haven't touched yet, but it feel rude if
we just left it there on the table. We followed herself upstairs, as we went up, I couldn't help but notice the pictures that were on the wall. They were mostly of Mirei when she
was young, as we were walking up each two steps or so, it would seem that Mirei would be older in the pictures, until we finally reached a modern day picture of her, watching a
sunset over the beach. It was pretty cute. We stood in front of her room door as her mother unlocked it. We thanked her and stepped in. Her room was just as I imagined,
brimming with her personality. Her idol costumes hanging on the wall, alongside picture frames and posters. It was a small, but vastly filled room. "Hey, Nono. Let's rest on the
bed until she comes." I nodded, and got on her bed. She wouldn't mind, I think. After all, I let her in under my desk all the time. Her bed was very soft, and she had too many
throw pillows. Actually, her bed was pretty relaxing. I feel like I could even sleep here. "Hey, Syoko...Syoko?" I turned to look at her, and her eyes were closed, her arms and
legs stretchered all over the bed. Well, I guess it couldn't hurt if I slept a little. I snuggled closer under Syoko, closing my eyes. It's as if Mirei's bed had a spell,
I never felt this....
I turned over, feeling someone watching me. I quickly opened my eyes and looked up. It was Mirei. "A-ah, Mirei! You're here!" I sat up, nudging Syoko to wake up.
"Well, I hope you enjoyed freeloading on my bed! Next time I hafta charge you guys!"
I got up to hug Mirei, but for some reason she flinched and backed away. I sat down on the edge of the bed. "M-mirei?"
"A-ah, sorry. I just got startled." She stepped forward to hug me, and I hugged back.
As I let go, I started to plan how I would bring last night up. There really wasn't no way to do this correctly, so I had to go with a way that would have a higher success rate.
"A-ah, Mirei. I want to talk to you about last night." Syoko crawled next to me, sitting down.
"Last night? There's not much to talk about!"
"Your mother told us that you came home upset. Not to mention when you found me under the desk, I saw you shaking a bit."
"G-guys, really. It was nothing! Just post-show blues. It really is nothing."
"Are you sure?" Syoko asked.
". . ." Mirei became more noticeably upset. "S-sorry, I'm going to head out to the balcony. I just need air." She ran, we followed behind. Once we catched up to her, she was
hyperventilating over the wall of the balcony. We just stood there, not knowing what we could do. What could we do anyways? I had my own anxiety to deal with, and I can't
even help myself. Syoko, I'm sure of it, had her own issues to deal with. We aren't trained for this, whatever we seen in shows or drama won't help us with this. I reached out my
hand to comfort her, but I couldn't extend it any further. "Syoko..what happened?"
"P-please don't make me say it, I'm not-"
"Please Mirei, Nono and I want to help you."
Mirei started tearing up, it seems if the emotional reaction hit before the emotion itself. "I-I can't explain it..It happened all so fast..He took me away from you guys and.."
"He..he touched me."
I really didn't know how to respond. How do I respond to this? The familiar sense of coldness rushed through every part of my body. Seriously, I don't know how to respond to
this. I turned over to Syoko. She wore the same shocked expression as I did. "M-Mirei, I'm sorry to-"
Mirei started to break down more and more, I couldn't help but to hug her tightly. It was the only thing I could do. It was the only thing in my power which could make her feel
even the least better. I can't call out Hiromori, he's too powerful. The lawyers would rather believe a few hundred bills then us. I can't tell anyone else, It was already horrible of
me and Syoko to make her tell us. She wasn't ready, and it was simply barbaric that we forced the truth out of her. I was suddenly awaken from this idol dream, for the longest
time people warned me about the dark, twisted side of this industry and I chose to ignore it. What's worse is that the consequences of my action did not make the victim out of
me, but Mirei. Why do I feel as if this was all my fault? I hated the way I was thinking. The victim here is Mirei. I felt Syoko hug us from behind, I felt her tears hit the fabric on
my shoulders. I don't know what to do from here. My best friend was just the victim of a sexual assault. I'm at a complete loss-- we all are. Our blissful ignorance to this
industry has been lost forever, and we didn't know what lies ahead. As I sat there comforting Mirei, I started to tear. Tears turned to sobbing and shaking. I couldn't help it, the
overwhelming guilt and sadness hit me, the world could end, and that wouldn't matter to me as much as this matters to me right now. I knew something happened that night, I
had a hunch, but I chose to ignore it and think about the best-case scenario. We were foreigners in a strange land, lost and confused. I want to help Mirei, and I'm certain
Syoko does too. The only problem is that we didn't know how.
We didn't know how.
We didn't know whether to rely on time or immediate help.
I hugged Mirei tightly, as I passed my hand through her hair, petting her.
"It gets better. It will always get better. It may not seem like it now, or in 10 years.
It gets better. We love you, and we'll always be here for you.
We'll try our best."