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I didn't choose the idol life, the idol life chose me

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Deep in the heart of Tokyo, there lives an elite group of assassins. The mention of their very name strikes fear into the hearts of evil-doers everywhere. Nobody knows where they came from or why they do what they do. The nine of them appear whenever there is a mission to complete, a person to save, or a discount at the local buffet to use. They do the dirty work no one else wants.

The nine of them are feared for their amazing abilities.

Scope, the ever-watchful lookout.

Doctor, the careful caretaker.

Rapid Fire, the lightning fast striker.

Bullet, the precise piercer.

Geek, the devious genius.

Shinobi, the sneaky ninja.

Sonic Hunter, the reliable returner.

Falcon Jr, the bird of prey.

And…

Commander, the fearless leader.

Together they are known as…

“Dude, are you just sitting here in the dark talking to yourself?”

A flick of a switch and the room was flooded with light, revealing Falcon Jr. sitting in front of a microphone and a computer screen. Geek looked curious from where he’d stuck his head through the door.

“I’m not talking to myself,” Falcon Jr. replied. “I’m narrating. There’s a difference. Now turn the lights back off. You’re ruining the mood.”

“Hey, what you do in your free time is your business,” Geek said, throwing his hands up in the air and backing away. “I just came by to tell you that Commander called us all for a meeting. I’m guessing either we have a new mission or somebody forgot their turn on the chore wheel again.”

Falcon Jr. sighed. “Okay, okay. Just let me finish this last line.” He flapped his arms for Geek to go away.

Geek rolled his eyes and then flipped the light switch off, shrouding the room with darkness again. Falcon Jr. cleared his throat to get back into his deep narrator voice.

Together they are called… Sensations.

---

The problem with having a secret base buried somewhere in the heart of Tokyo was that it was entirely too small. Especially for nine people. Their living room (or “Ops” as Doctor liked to call it to make it sound fancier) was really just a collection of five bean bag chairs which they had to fight over to share. It took a few minutes for the squabbling to calm down before Commander could call the meeting to order.

“So… is everyone here?” Commander asked, looking around the tiny room. He couldn’t see all of them but that was because Bullet and Scope, having lost out on seats, were standing in front of him and they were too tall to see over. Plus, Shinobi somehow always ended up buried underneath one of the bean bag chairs and from the sound of muffled complaining, that’s probably what had happened again.

“Rapid Fire isn’t here yet,” Doctor answered from somewhere in the back of the room.

Commander nodded as that wasn’t exactly unusual for the shooter. “We’ll just start without him.” He patted his pockets to look for the notes he had about their new mission. “I call this meeting to order. Or I will when I find my paper.” He dug down deeper into his pants pockets, spreading his fingers out to the corners.

“Don’t feel bad, Commander,” Scope said with a friendly smile. “I lose things all the time. Actually, I haven’t seen my gun in a while.” He looked around the room. “If anyone else has seen it…?”

Sonic Hunter frowned. “How did you seriously manage to misplace a high-powered sniper rifle?”

Scope tapped his chin. “Maybe I left it in the bathroom…”

“A-ha!” Commander interrupted as he finally recovered the mission details that had been stuffed into his boot. He uncrumpled the paper and squinted to read what was on it. “So our mission is to take out a very high-profile celebrity. I don’t know why, but someone wants Ninomiya Kazunari to disappear. It says here he’s from an idol group called Arashi.” He paused as he let that information sink in.

Silence hung over the room as they all thought about the assignment and waited for Commander to continue. So they waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Until finally Falcon Jr. cleared his throat and spoke in his narrator voice again. “The group waited for Commander to give them a plan of action.

“Oh!” Commander blinked as if just remembering his position as the guy in charge. “Well, uh… we need to get close to him. Somehow.”

Bullet’s eyes lit up while he starting excitedly clapping his hands. “We should become an idol group too! That way it wouldn’t be suspicious to meet him. Plus I’ve always thought it would be cool to be on TV.” He was bouncing up and down on his toes and mostly ignoring the fact that his head was hitting the low ceiling.

“Appearing on a music show with them would probably be the best way to get close enough to take this Nino guy out,” Geek said. “It’ll be fun and probably dangerous. Also, idols always get to eat delicious food, so that’s a bonus!”

Commander put it to a vote and everyone agreed. Well, he assumed everyone. He couldn’t see all of them but no one voiced any complaints, so the matter was settled. “Okay,” he clapped his hands together once with determination. “Let’s get to work. Sonic Hunter, go plan things. Geek, go invent things. Doctor, go research things. Scope, go… scope things out. Meeting adjourned.”

As the group began trickling out of the room, Rapid Fire finally wandered in with groggy eyes and messy bed-head. “Did I miss a meeting?”

“Yep,” Commander nodded, resting a hand on the sleepy-looking assassin’s shoulder. “It’s your turn on the chore wheel again. There are dishes that need to be washed.”

Rapid Fire just sighed and rolled up his sleeves.

---

And so, Sensations quickly got to work, putting their plan into motion.

“Shh,” Sonic Hunter whispered to Falcon Jr, covering up his phone as he continued. “The TV station put me on hold, but they could be back any minute now. Go narrate somewhere else.”

Falcon Jr. huffed and walked out of the room.

---

“We need stage names,” Bullet suggested. “We can’t go out there with names like Rapid Fire, Shinobi, and Sonic Hunter. That would be too obvious. I think I’ll be… Nakajima Yuto.” He struck a cool pose as he introduced himself with his new idol codename.

Commander nodded. “How do you write that in kanji?” he asked as he made some notes. Bullet passed him a piece of paper with the kanji written on it. Commander squinted at the messy handwriting. “Why the heck is this kanji so complicated?”

“It looks cool!” Bullet answered.

From the place in the corner where he was folding the laundry, Rapid Fire leaned over to look too. “I’ll never remember that,” he shook his head.

“What’s your name then?” Commander asked.

Rapid Fire paused as he thought about it. Commander waited so long for Rapid Fire’s response that he started folding origami cranes with his paper for a bit. Finally Rapid Fire declared that he would be “Takaki Yuya.”

“Don’t you mean Takagi?”

“No, it’s TakaKI,” he replied slowly to emphasize each sound. They had never seen Rapid Fire look as serious about anything before.

“Are you just saying that because you misread the kanji?”

“…no.” Rapid Fire avoided eye contact and grabbed the laundry basket, sauntering out of the room to finish folding somewhere else. As he left, Geek and Shinobi happened to be walking by.

“Hey,” Commander called out. “What codenames do you guys want?”

Geek leaned against the doorway, all suave and nonchalant. “Inoo Kei,” he answered proudly, like he’d picked the name out years ago and was just waiting for an opportunity to use it.

“Inoo? Is that a real name?”” Commander looked skeptical as Geek wrote it down for him. Then he turned to Shinobi. “Why do you look upset?”

“I wanted to be Okamoto Kei.” He frowned as he tried to think of something different.

“You could be Keito,” Geek suggested, “and then whenever we’re together, we can be Kei to Keito.” There was an awkward silence that hung over the room until Geek scowled. “It’s a pun. You’re supposed to laugh.”

Commander just glared but Bullet made the best exaggerated laugh he could, complete with lots of clapping, knee-slapping, and rolling on the ground.

“Well I’m going for something simple,” Commander announced. “Yamada Ryosuke.” He grabbed his paper to add it to the list. “…now what was the kanji for Ryosuke?”

---

Meanwhile, Doctor was deeply engrossed with his Arashi research.

“Not now Falcon Jr,” Doctor said, absentmindedly waving his fellow assassin away without even a glance in his direction. His glassy-looking eyes were glued to the TV screen. “I’m busy. Do you know how many variety shows this group has done? I have to watch them all.”

“Don’t you think the basics would be sufficient enough?” Falcon Jr. asked.

“Shh… Ohno-senpai is talking.” Doctor leaned closer to the screen. The light from the TV cast an eerie glow on his face.

Falcon Jr. slowly backed out of the room.

---

“No Scope, I can’t just drive across Tokyo and pick you up just because you lost your wallet and have no money for the train.” Sonic Hunter frowned as he held two cell phones up to both his ears. “I’m still on hold but I’m sure the TV station will answer me soon. Go call someone else.”

Sonic Hunter ended that phone call and continued to wait on hold on the other line. “Any time now…” he muttered to himself.

---

“Are you sewing?” Commander asked, leaning over Shinobi’s shoulder. It was a rhetorical question because he could very clearly see the mountains of colored fabric spread out on the table. Actually, the multitude of gaudy patterns and colors hurt his eyes to look at for so long. “Do you even know how to sew?”

“Of course,” Shinobi nodded in deep concentration. He picked up a bit of flowery fabric, examining it thoroughly, but then thought better of it and put it back into the pile.

“You know you’ve sewn half that suit to your own shirt, right?” Commander point out.

Startled, Shinobi looked down and then frowned at his mistake. He quickly undid the thread connecting them, but ended up unraveling half of the suit on accident. Bullet bounced happily into the room as Shinobi let out a big sigh.

“You know what you need?” Bullet asked but didn’t wait for an answer as he spread his hands out for emphasis. “Feathers!” He looked like he’d just discovered the answer to the mysteries of the universe.

“Are you sure?” Shinobi asked. He searched the table and pulled out a hot glue gun that had been hidden somewhere under some neon green ruffles.

Bullet nodded. “I think feathers are absolutely required for idols. It’s in their contracts.” He twirled around to leave again. “I will go acquire a bird for you.”

“No!” Commander called out after him. “Not a real bird! Just go to the craft store!”

---

Sonic Hunter had heard the same song so many times, he wanted to track down the composer and show him the business end of his boomerang. Suddenly, the soothing hold music was interrupted by the sound of a vacuum cleaner. He looked up to see Rapid Fire lazily vacuuming the carpet, slowly trying to cover every inch of the floor.

“Seriously dude, I’m on the phone,” he snapped.

Rapid Fire just shrugged and casually vacuumed out of the room the way he came in.

---

In the laboratory, Geek was hard at work developing weapons to use while undercover.

“It’s surprisingly difficult,” Geek said as he rearranged a series of brightly colored vials and beakers, which actually were all completely empty.

Falcon Jr. blinked. “You’re not supposed to talk to the narrator.”

“But you’re sitting right beside me.”

Narrowed eyes glared at Geek for a moment before deciding against an argument. “So what have you developed since we can’t carry our normal weapons on stage?” They all agreed the guns were rather conspicuous. Plus still no one was sure where Scope’s had disappeared to.

Geek grinned, looking pleased at all his hard work. He opened up the bag he had on the table and stuck his hand inside. After rummaging around like he was having difficulty grabbing onto something, he pulled his hand back out. But he wasn’t holding anything.

“Um.” Falcon Jr. scratched his head.

“Glitter!” he announced. He wiggled his fingers which now sparkled in the light.

“Um.” Falcon Jr. repeated. “How is that a weapon?”

“Have you ever had glitter in your eye? It’s deadly.” Geek tossed some up in the air.

From over at the other table where he was still sewing, Shinobi nodded in agreement. “It’s painful.”

Commander walked in before anyone else could say anything. He frowned at the glittery mess everywhere. “Can you not do this in the kitchen?”

“It’s the laboratory,” Geek corrected.

“I don’t want glitter in my dinner,” he snapped.

Geek nodded. “See? Because it’s a dangerous weapon.”

---

Once it was time to actually eat dinner, Commander realized they were a few short. “Where’s Doctor?” he asked.

“Still watching Arashi videos,” Bullet answered. “Last I saw him, he was marathoning through all their concerts. I don’t think he’s moved or blinked in hours.”

Commander just shrugged. “Okay, where’s Rapid Fire?”

“Pretty sure he’s sleeping somewhere,” Falcon Jr. replied.

“And Scope?”

“Lost somewhere in Tokyo,” Sonic Hunter answered from the doorway. He had his boomerangs in hand and looked ready to kill someone.

“Oh, you’re off the phone now,” Shinobi noted.

Sonic Hunter gave them all a glare piercing enough to almost cut through metal. “I… called the wrong TV station. So I’m going to take care of this business in person. And pick up Scope too.” He shut the door behind him with a slam that rattled the whole tiny building.

Commander stared at the closed door for a moment before sitting down. “Guess we’ll just eat without them.”

Bullet looked down at his plate. “Hey, why is my chicken sparkling?”

---

The karaoke room didn’t have enough lights and the wallpaper was peeling off in chunks. But it would have to do. Commander decided that he wouldn’t let Geek pick out practice locations anymore after this. But on the bright side, splitting the cost nine ways meant they could practice singing longer. Sonic Hunter had finally managed to get them an appearance on the same music show as Arashi, so now all they had to do was get their act together.

Commander looked through the song selection and ignored the whispered conversations going on around him. The incessant giggling, however, was sort of distracting. But just when he found something decent for them to sing, Doctor was suddenly at his elbow grabbing the song book from his grasp.

“We’re going to sing ALL the Arashi songs,” he said with a grin.

“I don’t think—” Commander protested but Doctor had already pressed the buttons and queued up at least four different songs.

“We decided to play strip karaoke,” Geek announced and pulled Commander to the front of the room without any other sort of warning.

“Whoever sings the worst has to take off their clothes,” Scope added as if the rules for the game weren’t obvious.

Commander realized that he probably should have banned alcohol from this training session, but it was too late for that now. They were all rowdy, especially as they pushed Shinobi up to the front to join him.

First battle, Falcon Jr. began narrating into a microphone, Commander vs. Shinobi. Uh… I mean, Yamada Ryosuke vs. Okamoto Keito. They were trying to get used to using their idol code names just so they wouldn’t slip up in public.

Sonic Hunter leaned across the table and snatched the mic away from Falcon Jr. “We are not listening to that for the next five hours.” He handed the mic to Shinobi who nodded politely.

The song began and Commander put his heart and soul into the performance even though he didn’t know the song well. Shinobi wasn’t bad either though, and apparently knew more of the lyrics anyway. About halfway through, Commander started adding in some dance moves just to make his performance more exciting and Shinobi joined too. It was kind of fun actually and Commander was sure he’d won by the end of it.

But everybody raised their hands and he was somehow deemed the loser.

With disbelief, he reluctantly removed one of his gloves, tossing it dramatically to the floor. But as he tried to sit back down, Sonic stopped him.

“Rules of the game,” he reminded Commander. “Loser goes another round.”

“Are you kidding me?” He frowned as Scope joined him at the front of the room with a microphone in hand.

Another round where Commander sang his heart out but was still declared the loser. He glared as he removed his other leather glove, one finger at a time. This was okay, he told himself. He would win the next round for sure. But as Falcon Jr. came up with his mic (“Arioka Daiki is going to sing!” he told them all in narration.) Commander lost once again, even though Falcon Jr. annoyingly kept saying musical interlude and dance solo during the song.

“I demand a recount,” Commander protested even as Bullet grabbed his jacket and pulled it off of him. Doctor catcalled loudly at the sight of Commander’s bare shoulders. When Doctor wasn’t looking, Commander stole his drink because clearly he’d had enough already for the night.

And so Commander’s losing streak continued as he lost his tank top, both his shoes, and then his pants. Now he was just in his boxers and beginning to suspect the game was rigged against him. Although he probably should have realized that when Geek sang the entirety of Arashi’s “Happiness” with his nose pinched closed and still was voted the winner.

So the only battle left was Commander vs Rapid Fire, and considering that Rapid Fire had been curled up on the lumpy seat cushions asleep for the past hour, Commander felt confident about his chances of winning. But even after the song was over, everyone voted that Rapid Fire had won.

“His snores were in perfect rhythm with the melody,” Bullet explained.

Commander decided it was time to put an end to this, mostly because he didn’t want to take his underwear off. “No,” he said firmly. “I win and I’m taking Rapid Fire’s shoes.” With a loud snore, Rapid Fire didn’t even notice as Commander stripped his shoes right off his feet, not even bothering to unlace them properly. “Now give me my clothes back,” he demanded. He gave an extra intense glare to Scope who was wearing Commander’s jacket on his head.

“Well now that Commander ruined all the fun, I guess we can discuss our song and performance now,” Sonic Hunter said. He passed out sheet music to everyone. “Scope and I wrote this while we were out the other day.”

“You mean when you two were lost in the city?” Geek said.

“We were taking the scenic route,” Sonic Hunter clarified.

Scope nodded. “We accidentally missed our bus five times.” He winced when Sonic Hunter thumped his arm and angrily whispered “you promised you wouldn’t tell them that.”

The conversation was cut short by Falcon Jr. “Urutoraa mujikku powaa?” he read the song title out loud to pronounce the English words as clearly as he could.

“Yep!” Sonic grinned. “Urutoraa Music Power.”

“It’s pronounced ultra,” Shinobi said quietly.

“That’s what I said. Urutoraa.”

“…okay.” Shinobi scratched his head. Commander saw him shoot a pleading look in his direction, but Commander just shrugged. He knew a losing argument when he saw one.

They spent the next few hours learning the song and putting together a dance for it. They even woke Rapid Fire up to join in the training. (He didn’t even notice his shoes were missing.) By the time the karaoke place kicked them out, the group felt like they were somewhat ready for their upcoming appearance on Music Station.

“Our debut is going to be fantastic!” Bullet declared, excited as always. He extended his long arm and pointed off into the distance. No one knew what he was pointing at, but his enthusiasm was infectious.

“Here comes Hey!Say!JUMP!”

---

“We’re never going to find Arashi in all this mess,” Sonic Hunter complained. The whole group huddled together in the chaos, decked out in their brightly colored feathery suits, sparkling with more glitter that a pre-teen girl’s makeup collection. Sonic Hunter stood on his tiptoes, trying to spot their target in the multitude of people moving around backstage. When that didn’t work, he tried using Shinobi’s shoulders as something to lean against in order to push himself higher. Shinobi just sighed because this happened to him at least once a day.

“Yeah, how unlucky is it that AKB48 is appearing on this show tonight too,” Bullet said. He too cast his eyes around backstage to find the ever elusive Arashi. But he wasn’t paying attention and took a step back too far, colliding with a bundle of microphone stands behind him. He easily sprang back up, brushing off his shoulders like nothing had happened, and then sent a judging stare towards the nearest staff member as if he was the source of the ruckus.

“Guys,” Geek whispered and pointed to the multitude of girls in short skirts walking around. “I might be wrong but I think there’s more than 48 of them.”

Commander cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention. “Focus, you guys. We’re going to be on stage soon. We don’t want to put all our hard work to waste. People will be watching.”

The group looked excited except for Scope who was nervously rubbing his hands together. “What if the audience hates us and they throw tomatoes like in the movies?” He looked seriously concerned about this possibility. But then he glanced down at his hands and suddenly seemed more concerned that he’d accidentally smudged the song lyrics that he’d scribbled onto his palms.

“What kind of movies have you been watching?” Rapid Fire muttered through a muffled yawn.

“I love tomatoes!” Geek shouted, perhaps a bit too loudly as several stagehands turned to give him weird looks.

Tensions were running high before Hey!Say!JUMP’s debut performance.

“You’re not really helping anything by continuing to do that,” Sonic Hunter said before Falcon Jr. could carry on with his narration and describe what they were wearing again like he had done on the train ride over.

“Do you think Ohno-senpai will give me his autograph?” Doctor asked. He clutched a pen and some paper while he anxiously searched the room for his new favorite person.

One of the stage managers rushed over to where they were standing and didn’t waste any time rapidly giving them directions about where they were supposed to stand and what they were supposed to do. Commander nodded seriously with every word until the stage manager rushed off again to wrangle up another group.

“Did you understand any of that?” Shinobi asked.

“Not a word,” Commander shook his head. “Uh, let’s just go hover by the stage until it’s our turn or they tell us to sit down. Or something.”

By the time the show started, they did manage to see Arashi and their target Ninomiya from a distance, but they weren’t able to get close enough without people or cameras around. But as they show went on, their focus shifted more to their performance and interview than their assassination mission. They were all abuzz with excited energy by the time they were sitting in front of the audience, talking with the host about their group.

“Tell us some good qualities about yourselves and the group,” the host with the sunglasses asked.

“We’re a very diversely skilled group,” Commander answered. “Soni- uh, Hikaru does the rap part in our song.” He gestured towards Sonic Hunter who grinned.

“Keito and Yabu can play guitar,” Sonic Hunter nodded and patted both Shinobi and Scope on the shoulders since he was sitting in between them.

“And Yuto, the drums,” Geek added, waving his arm towards Bullet who was busy tapping out rhythms on Doctor’s arm.

“Fal- Daiki took DJ lessons for six months just for fun,” Bullet added while Falcon Jr. nodded proudly.

“Takagi has nice hair,” Doctor said and elbowed Rapid Fire sharply to make sure he was still awake.

“It’s TakaKI,” Rapid Fire said reflexively, suddenly looking the most awake he’d been all day.

Behind the sunglasses, Commander was sure that the host was staring at them because of the weird turn the answers had taken. But in the end, he only smiled and nodded and threw to a commercial break. The stage manager gestured for them to take the stage for their song.

Sensations has discovered that being an idol group is pretty fun,” Falcon Jr. whispered in his narrator voice as they took their places, and for once, everyone agreed with his narration.

Considering that most of their practice took place during one karaoke session when most of them were drunk, the performance still went pretty well. The audience loved it too, clapping and cheering loudly when the song was over. All nine of them were grinning and proud when they finished, getting swept up in the energy of the crowd. The happy feelings continued as the show continued and even when it was over, they were still happy about how well things went.

In fact, they were so distracted that they only realized they had missed their chance with Arashi and Nino once the stage manager was shooing them out of the studio after the show was over. Their target was already long gone. Still in their feathery idol costumes and covered in glitter, they took the train back to their hideout to regroup.

“Let’s do that again next week!” Bullet shouted as he bounced through the front door.

“I’m already writing more songs,” Sonic Hunter added as he flopped down in the nearest bean bag chair.

Doctor and Falcon Jr. fought over a different bean bag chair and somehow ended up with a compromise of Doctor sitting in Falcon Jr’s lap. “We didn’t succeed in our mission, but that was a lot of fun,” Falcon Jr. said once he gave up trying to push Doctor off.

“I have a crazy idea…” Commander began. “Maybe we could just… keep pretending to be an idol group? We’ve been kinda short on assassination work lately anyway.”

“We could make more money and buy more bean bag chairs,” Geek said, casting a withering look over at Rapid Fire who had stolen two of the cushiony chairs to sleep on.

Bullet had grabbed some papers and starting writing down things. “We probably need to figure out what talent company we’re with. Maybe we can join the same one as Arashi: Johnnys and Associates.”

“Do you think we can pull that off?” Shinobi asked.

Bullet nodded. “There’s so many of them, I’m sure no one will notice. And besides, we can’t join a group like Exile. Falcon Jr. would look terrible with a mustache.”

Everyone ignored Falcon Jr’s ensuing protest and then the angry under-his-breath narrating after that. They voted as usual and everyone was in favor for continuing the idol life. (Rapid Fire was still sleeping, but they counted his vote as yes anyway)

“All that singing made me hungry,” Scope said. “Let’s take off these costumes and eat something.”

As everyone headed for the kitchen/laboratory, Commander shook Rapid Fire awake.

“Did I miss another meeting?” he complained. “Did I miss something important?”

“Yep,” Commander nodded. “It’s your turn on the chore wheel again. And there’s new laundry to do. We’re gonna need those costumes again.”

So that’s the story of how the Sensations became Hey!Say!JUMP.

“Stop that,” Sonic complained. “No more narrating.”