Pareo was crying.
Rokka had never really been a fan of social media. Sure, she helped to manage Galaxy’s accounts, and she had an official twitter account for RAS-related things, but CHU2 had just about forced her to make the latter, and most of it’s contents was just retweets of her bandmates’ posts, broken up only by the rare picture of her doing something with her friends.
It wasn’t that she hated it, as such. It was just exhausting to keep on top of everything that went on in the digital world. And with as little online presence as she had, Rokka had never had the misfortune of being targeted by some of the nastier types out there.
Another ragged sob from inside the toilet cubicle made her wince. Rokka hadn’t known what had happened when she arrived at the penthouse that morning, only that there was some sort of emergency, but the murderous look she had seen in CHU2’s eyes definitely meant that someone, somewhere had fucked up. Rei had been a little more forthcoming, albeit with gritted teeth as she hammered nails into a baseball bat. Someone, she had explained, had said something bad about Pareo online.
And then she, CHU2 and Masuki had all piled onto the latter’s motorbike before riding off to the sound of blood-curdling war cries. Rokka had a feeling that ‘something bad’ had been a bit of an understatement. In any case, they had left her to keep Pareo company whilst they did whatever it was they were going to do, which apparently meant loitering awkwardly in the toilets whilst listening to the younger girl sob inconsolably. “Um…Pareo-san?”
Pareo’s only response was a particularly heart-rending wail. Rokka bit her lip. What should she do? She couldn’t exactly break down the cubicle door. And Pareo didn’t exactly seem capable of talking right now…
Well, she could at least find out what was going on. Rokka pulled her phone out of her pocket. A few minutes of browsing Pareo’s twitter page turned up a recent, now-hidden tweet that had attracted a slew of heated backlash. Those tweets were all along the lines of ‘how dare you’, ‘PAREO is a girl, asshole’ and, most notably, ‘I am going to turn your skull into a chamber pot’, courtesy of CHU2 herself.
Rokka had a sinking feeling that she knew what the offending tweet said, but opened it anyway. She instantly regretted it. It was actually worse than what she had imagined. That was a slur, and that was a slur, and oh, this had to be someone who had actually known Pareo for a long time, because there was a boy’s name that Rokka had never heard before being used in place of ‘Reona’. And then another slur.
Half of Rokka wished she could instantly scrub the name from her memory, as unrealistic as that actually was. The other half was screaming at her to chase after the rest of RAS, so that she could join in on the imminent retribution. As things stood, however, she couldn’t really do either. So instead she knocked on the door again. “Pareo-san!” she called, “Do you want to watch some Pastel*Palettes with me? I think there’s ice cream in the freezer too, if you want some.”
There was, at last, a break in the crying. “…You saw what he said, didn’t you?” said Pareo, her voice uncharacteristically dark. Rokka hesitated on how to respond for just a moment too long, and Pareo let out another loud sniffle. “I should have known someone would tell everybody sooner or later…” she said bitterly.
“U-um…I’m pretty sure CHU2-san’s going to beat the guy half to death, so…”
“It doesn’t matter. Everybody already knows.”
“W-well, our fans seem to hate him just as much as we do, so I don’t think you have to worry about someone calling you that any time soon.”
“There’s always one troll who thinks it would be funny to deadname the trans girl.”
Rokka’s phone buzzed with an incoming update. Glancing down, she saw that it was an update to CHU2’s Twitter feed. She blinked. That was a lot of blood.
“Um…after today? I don’t think there’s anybody that stupid out there, Reona-san. And, um, on a related note, we might have to postpone us watching PasuPare for a few hours. I don’t suppose you know how to post bail, do you?”
There was a brief pause. “Oh, CHU2-sama…always my saviour,” Pareo said with a tired giggle, quite possibly the best thing Rokka had heard all week. There was a brief shuffling sound, and then the toilet door unlocked with a small click.
Pareo looked a complete mess. Her hair was tangled, and her eyes bloodshot from crying. But at the same time, she had a small, fragile smile. “I’ll show you where we keep the emergency legal funds,” she said. “I have CHU2-sama’s lawyer on speed-dial, so you don’t need to worry about that.”
“Right…” Rokka sighed. Just how many times had something like this happened in the past? “After you, Pareo-san.”
Later, after the three errant members of RAS were back in the penthouse, they all sat down for the promised PasuPare highlights marathon. Brutal violence was not a perfect solution for tears, after all, just a very enjoyable one. And it paled in comparison to the power of cuddles and hot chocolate accompanied by idol songs.
Quietly, Rokka slipped her phone out of her pocket and took a surreptitious selfie. Not to upload to Twitter, but just to preserve the moment. Rei and Masuki were leaning up against each other, clearly exhausted. Behind them, Pareo was fussing over CHU2’s black eye, small but content smiles on both their faces. Rokka took another sip of her hot chocolate, content in the knowledge that not even the upcoming legal battle would be enough to take the girls’ smiles away, not as long as they all had each other.
…Well, each other and a disturbing amount of weaponry, at least. Rei had apparently named her new bat, and Rokka was sure she had seen CHU2 browsing online for brass knuckles earlier. But that was close enough, right?