CHAPTER 9: Mitsuki POV

"Lady Stardust, you are such a pretty girl! We barely need much makeup to make you look good on-stage," said the Barbie-like woman who stood before me as she painted silver glitter on one of my cheeks. It tickled, but I made sure not to laugh so that the shooting star design wouldn't be ruined.

"Th-thank you!" I said flattered and embarrassed by the sudden compliment.

"Yeah, and your hair is such a lovely shade of brown, what do you think if we leave some of it down to show it off?" Another shorter Barbie said as she combed my hair into a half-ponytail with her hands to show me what she meant.

"Sure! Do you think you could add a few mini braids throughout too?"

"No problem! I can throw in some silver string in there too to go with your outfit?" For the Music Saves Lives concert, I decided on wearing silvery white lace to convey the stardust signature and I added lots of colors to my accessories since it was summer and we were celebrating being cancer survivors. I was really excited about this event; it meant so much to me personally!

"There, now you're perfect and ready to go!" my make-up and hair ladies said in unison. I looked in the full length mirror of the small dressing room and smiled widely.

"Waaahh! You are so talented! Thanks so much!" I said with a bow to them. They laughed and hugged me, telling me to break a leg, and I went off to explore the rest of the backstage.

"Ladies and Gents please give a loud welcome to our next group, NEON!"said the announcer over the loudspeakers from the stage. The crowd roared and applauded and I could tell there were a lot of people out there. I peeked through a hole in one of the old curtains at the right side of the stage and I saw a sea of screaming fans. It gave me a nervous pang, but it also made me eager to get on the stage myself.

"You really shouldn't spy, it's bad manners you know." Said a guy's voice from behind me, making me jolt in place and yelp "EEP!" I straightened into an upright position away from my peephole and turned around to apologize.

"I'm sorry, I-," but as I looked up to his face I frowned. "Oh. It's just you, Helios-Kun…" I said with a sigh. His stage name was Helios Grey and he was a pop/rock singer, and a good one at that. He was also popular for his looks; tall, dark, handsome, and he had sexy black hair with streaks of gray (he claims they're natural highlights, but being that he is only 19 years old and that I once saw that his black roots were coming in, I smell obvious B.S.). I met him last year at another concert where we both performed and he'd been bullying me ever since.

"What do you mean 'just Helios-Kun'? And what was that non-challance just now? Tsk, tsk Lady Stardust, being so very rude today!" He teased with a smirk. I rolled my eyes at him and started to walk away. "Wait up, Lady-chan!"

"What do you want? Are you just messing with me again for your entertainment?" I said without looking at him. He stood in front of me, making my walk stop abruptly, our chests almost touching with sudden closeness. I blushed a bit, took a step back and glared at him.

"I just wanted to have some conversation with my buddy! Is that so bad?" He pouted with mock puppy-eyes.

"You're just going to be mean…"

"No, I promise I'll play nice!" He insisted, "Have you seen the schedule yet? You won't believe what celebrities are here today," Helios Grey said as he pulled out a copy of the itinerary.

"Oh! No, I only know when I am supposed to go on. I didn't get to look at who else would be here! Let me see it," I said as I peered at the paper in his hands. But Helios took the paper away and dangled it high above my head before I could get a good look at it.

"Hey, you said you'd play nice!" I scolded him.

"Meeeh, I lied, I like being a little mean and seeing you get mad. Say the magic words and I'll give it to you!" He said with a toothy smile.

"Please and thank you?" I muttered in annoyance.

"Nope! Guess again!"

"Ugh… Helios Grey is super cool?" I groaned.

"That's a good girl!" he said as he held the paper out for me to grab. Helios Grey seemed to tense up for a second when my hand brushed against his when I yanked the paper out of his hands but I pretended not to notice. I wasn't a jerk like he was, so I wasn't about to point it out and embarrass him.

"Geez, you're such a bother!" I muttered as I turned away from him and read down the list, "Helios Grey, Loli-Lolita, NEON, Heros Meum…." I stopped right there. 'That's Takuto's group! He's here?!' I thought to myself as my heart skipped a beat.

"Yeah and then it's the 'Mochi- Everywhere' girl, then you and after that it's that group with the mohawks… What's wrong, Lady Stardust? Got stage fright?" Helios joked when he saw that my face had gone pale. I didn't say anything, just stared at Takuto's name above mine. "Oy, seriously, what's wrong?" Helios Grey asked with more concern. I snapped out of my moment of panic and looked up from the paper, saw that his brow was furrowed, no longer teasing me. I guess he was capable of some kindness.

"Y-yeah, you're right it's just the nerves is all!"

"Ha! You're such a rookie! Don't worry, you'll do fine if…" he was back to taunt mode but I wasn't listening. I was freaking out inside, wondering what it'd be like to actually face him. What would I say to him? Would he notice how much I wanted him? Would he see the misery of losing him fresh in my eyes still? There was no way for me to hide from him since I was playing right after his group, he'd see me for sure!

"Wasn't that last group awesome!? And now let's give it up for my personal favorite, Heros Meum!"the announcer said enthusiastically as the crowd went wilder than with the last group. I ran back to my peephole, not caring that Helios Grey was in mid-sentence. I saw Takuto stride onto center stage and raise his arm up to greet the fans. After a few seconds he started strumming the metal chords of his electric guitar. He talked into the mic,

"How's everyone doin' tonight!?" and the crowd cheered in response. He flashed them a smile and continued to speak, "This first song is called 'The Best Thing'!" and he started singing, "It's been a year filled with problems, but now you're here almost as if to solve them! And I can't live in a world without you now…"and the crowd sang along with him as they jumped up and down to the beat of the music. He was incredible; his voice was mature, manly, melodic, and completely hypnotizing me. I ended up sitting on the floor and just listening to him sing another two songs. I wanted to hear the last one, but a stage crew member told me I was up next and should get ready to be on stage in 3 minutes, so I was forced to get up and do some vocal warm ups in the dressing room. I went to stage left where I'd make my entrance and waited as Takuto and his band members waved goodbye and played the last chords. The spotlights went out and Takuto exited stage right. I took deep breaths, in and out. I wanted to make a great performance so that Takuto could see how I'd improved as a singer. I knew it was dumb, but I hoped I'd impress him just a little, even if he already had another girl he loved most.

Takuto POV:

"Phew! That was some show!" Sasuke said exasperated as we stood backstage and let the next band set up.

"It was hot as balls out there, but did you see that crowd?!" Rey said before taking a swig of his bottled water.

"Yeah, it was definitely worth their enthusiasm. I'm glad we did this!" I said with a smile and grabbed a towel I'd left on a chair backstage to wipe the sweat from my forehead.

"Alright are you ready for the next star!? Get pumped 'cause here's everyone's favorite hit single, Mochi-Mochi Everywhere!" the announcer howled. The crowd cheered not as loudly as they had for my group. The obnoxious tune played. The guys stayed to listen and I went to our dressing rooms where I could enjoy some AC and continue working on my next song I was writing. It was about fifteen minutes later when Rey burst into the room,

"Oh My Gawd it's HER! Takuto, you said you never heard of her before right?" Rey asked.

"Huh? What are you talking about?" I asked annoyed at his sudden interruption.

"Lady Stardust is playing next! You've got to come out and listen to her. She's something special." Sasuke said as he yanked me up from my seat and forced me out of the room.

"Hey, it's not that big a deal, I can just hear her on the radio?" I protested but I guess I didn't really have a choice. As soon as we got backstage I heard Lady Stardust speak into her mic,

"Hello everyone! I'm so excited to be here!" My heart dropped and skipped a beat. That voice seemed extremely familiar to me. It could only be one person.

"Come on, let's go to the side of the stage to get a better look!" Rey said as he and Sasuke (who came out of nowhere) took me by the arms and dragged me along with them. So much was racing through my mind as I saw her again for the first time on the stage. She was pale like the moon under the stage lights, her hair dark and long just as I remembered, the same smile I loved on her face, but she was no longer a 'shortie' like I always called her.

"My first song is called 'Supernova', I hope everyone likes it!" the crowd cheered as the music started playing.

"Show me the stars of love! Let me gaze upon their infinity where beauty sleeps in perfect light. Let me be guided by the brightest of all…"she sang and I just stood there at the side of the stage, wide-eyed and unable to move a muscle. Everything was running through my head all at once; Mitsuki is here, her stage name is Lady Stardust, she's just started singing again, she is in the same company as me…does she still love me? Does she know I'm here? What should I say to her?!

"Takuto, you alright bro?" Sasuke asked with concern.

"You look like you've seen a ghost!" said Rey. I shook my head and finally snapped out of my shock.

"Something like that!" I said jokingly. But they looked at me with suspicion.

"You like her don't you?!" Rey guessed correctly.

"I think it's more than that, you know this girl don't you?" Sasuke stated confidently. Now I was embarrassed, how could they tell all of that so quickly!?

"N-No! I- Uh…" I sighed in defeat; there was no point in denying it. They smiled mischievously at my surrender. Now I was getting nervous, I sensed they were going to meddle.

"Man, you've got to go talk to her after she's off stage," Rey urged, "She's probably been waiting to hear from you all day and it's NOW that you realize she's even here!"

"There, there, Rey, Of course Takuto will talk to her. She's his special lady!" Sasuke said to Rey as he patted his back, consoling him.

"It's just so sad that he's so dense, isn't it?" Rey said with a sniffle.

"Yes, it's quite the misfortune for her," Sasuke agreed.

"Hey, You know I can hear you guys!?" I said in annoyance, bringing them back from their chibi side-conversation. "Look, now you've made me miss one of her songs!" I scolded them half-heartedly. I was getting anxious, soon she'd be done and I'd be able to talk to her. I listened to her last song, Rey and Sasuke left me once they saw she was saying her goodbyes to the audience.

"Go get her, Takuto!" Sasuke cheered for me as he walked off.

"Fight!" Rey said to me with a fist pump in the air as he too left me.

Mitsuki trotted off-stage, laughing with one of her instrument players, and then she waved goodbye and went back stage with a certain determination in her eyes. She was looking around the crowd of musicians as she casually drank from a cold water bottle. Could she be trying to find me? I walked towards her; Should I tell her how I felt? Was it still too soon? I wasn't sure, but I desperately wanted to talk to her. But I stopped in my tracks when I saw Mitsuki's eyes flash with recognition at someone next to her; a guy, tall, and stylish, surely another idol. He was smiling at her and Mitsuki seemed to jokingly roll her eyes at him. But then he got serious and grabbed her hands in his'. He leaned into her and said something in her ear which seemed to make her blush and then something I wasn't expecting happened… he pressed his lips to hers', and to my horror, she kissed him back. I felt the blood drain from my face and my heart stopped heavy in my chest. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, but at the same time, I knew it was real. I was too late. I turned away, not wanting to see any more of the betrayal. I had to pull myself together; I could not let this break me down, not here, not now, not in front of her.

Mitsuki POV:

I'll admit it, I was pathetic. I was thinking of Takuto the entire time I sang, and as soon as I got off-stage I wanted to see him. I wanted to see his reaction to me. I wanted to talk to him, to hear him say "It's been a long time, Shortie". To be a part of his life again, in whatever way I could; I was so ready and eager to face him. But things didn't go at all as I expected.

"Bravo, Lady-chan! That was really something." Helios said sarcastically to me as I drank my bottled water, interrupting my obsessive thoughts.

"Why, thanks for the ever descriptive compliments, your highness," I retorted with rolling eyes.

"No, really, all jokes aside, you were great…" he said with a smirk.

"Alright, well if we've got nothing else to say to each other I've got to go-," I started to excuse myself, so I could go find Takuto, but was interrupted when Helios suddenly grabbed my hands in his', making my water bottle drop to the ground. I looked up to his eyes, scrutinizing, trying to understand what this was about.

"Look, I do have something to say to you…" he says more seriously, his deep eyes looking straight at mine. He leans his head down to my ear and tells me in a manly murmur, "I really like you." I barely have time to process his words before his lips are on mine. His mouth is hot, firm, and moist as he kisses me. I close my eyes, confused and shocked at this turn of events. Then I think of that empty part of my heart that was still in love with Takuto, how much easier it would be to fill it up with something else and forget… I start to move my lips with his' and try to lose myself. But it somehow feels wrong and I pull away, gasping for breath. His arms are still around me as he smiles down triumphantly. That makes me get mad and I snap back to reality.

"Wh-what the heck was THAT?!" I scolded him as my face burned with embarrassment at the realization of what we'd just done.

"It was a declaration of my love for you, of course." He said as-a-matter-of-factly. I back away from his grasp and shake my head.

"No, no, no, no, no! You're messing with me, aren't you? Th-that was NOT funny!" I said.

"I am completely serious right now. I want you to go out with me. And don't act so upset, we both know you liked it." He insisted confidently, giving me an irritating wink at that last part.

"Ugh, I can't deal with this right now, I-I have to go..!" I said as I ran away from him so I could get my head straight. Does Helios Grey really like me? What should I do? He's a jerk! I can't trust anything he says! But the look in his eyes earlier… My racing thoughts were interrupted when I saw him; Takuto was alone, leaning his back against a wall. Nobody else was around, just the two of us in this hallway back stage. He was smoking a cigarette, his eyes closed as he let the smoke mist out of his mouth. He was wearing what he wore on stage, tight jeans, black converse sneakers, a cool blue T-shirt, his hair in a super short pony tail… Realizing he wasn't alone, he turned his steely eyes at me, recognizing me with some surprise that quickly passed.

"T-Takuto..!" I choked out. He smiled at me, making his eyes seemingly shine with nostalgia, as surely mine were, too.

"It's been a long time, Shortie."