Disclaimer: I do not own The iDOLMASTER.
Haha, I totally shouldn't be posting this when I have another ongoing story happening. But it's all part of the challenge! Two romance chapter stories, one about straight pairings and the other with yuri! Let's see which one's more popular, huh?
I don't wanna keep you from reading, so please enjoy!
"And now, without further ado, please welcome the popular idol unit, Ryuugu Komachi!"
The unseen audience roared as the three girls appeared. The talk show host didn't waste a single second, launching right off with a quick background of the group and then going on to ask them questions about their upcoming concert.
"Ryuugu Komachi...?" Yayoi blinked. This was the first she'd heard of them coming to her city for a concert. She checked the clock and, figuring she had enough time before work to listen to a little more of the interview, turned up the volume on her small radio.
"Tell us, tell us, are there going to be any new songs you'll be performing tonight?"
The leader of the group, Iori Minase, giggled and replied teasingly, "That's a secret. If you want to know you'll just have to come watch!"
"Well, of course! I ordered the tickets as soon as they were available!"
Everyone laughed as though that had been a hilarious joke but Yayoi didn't really get it. He ordered the tickets. Great.
"In any case, can you at least say if there will be a fair share of solos aside from the regular group songs? I'm sure many fans would be pleased to see their favorite idol singing center stage. Not that it's possible to pick a favorite out of you all!"
This time, it was the youngest member, Ami Futami, who answered the question. Talking in a hyperactive voice, she replied, "Each of us get at least two solos so all the awesome fans who support us can get something they would like." Then she snickered and added, "Although I hope if you're coming you'd like us anyways."
"Ara, but we're always welcome to new fans, of course," The final and oldest member, Azusa Miura, said gently.
The group itself seemed at first glance to be a completely random gathering of idols. The young, energetic girl matched with the serene twenty-year-old and led by a teenager who always carried around a stuffed rabbit. They were all as different as could get, and it was said that at the beginning of their career as Ryuugu Komachi many had been skeptical about if they would even be able to work together. But, as they very quickly proved, each one balanced the others out perfectly and they soon became one of the top idol units in the country.
According to the interview, at least. Before today Yayoi had only heard bits and pieces of a few of their songs scattered amongst radios or public TVs in her city. She hadn't even known the names of their members before the talk show host introduced them.
She looked once more at the clock and then turned off the radio, rinsing her breakfast plate in the sink and grabbing her apartment key before heading off to her job.
After all, it wasn't as though she'd be able to attend the concert anyways. Unlike the interviewer, she hadn't ordered a ticket, and even if it wasn't sold out by tonight she doubted she had anywhere near enough money to buy one. Besides, she wasn't too interested in stuff like idols. It was a completely different world from the one she lived, where she balanced two regular jobs a day and any number of odd ones just to scrape by in life.
Idols were there in the fantasy world, and Yayoi was here in reality. That was the simple truth.
"Ah, Takatsuki-san," the manager of the grocery store nodded to her affably as she entered. "Early as usual."
She smiled back brightly, putting on her apron and checking to make sure her name tag was fit perfectly before replying, "Yup! I just wanted to make sure everything was all set before the customers started arriving."
Once she was ready, Yayoi quickly began surveying the aisles and ensuring that everything was clean and nothing out of place. As she went, the manager followed, striking up friendly conversation with the only employee there.
"You work so hard," the manager said. "Don't you ever think you ought to reward yourself sometime?"
"Reward?" Yayoi looked surprised by the very idea. "Ehh, you mean a break? There's really no need for that, Mr. Manager! I'm fine like this!" she waved her arms energetically as she spoke as though to prove her point. "Ehehe... Besides, if I left who knows how this place would survive." It was a joke but her voice held a light tone to show she meant no disrespect.
The manager clearly didn't mind, though, as he'd already acknowledged that Yayoi was pretty much the reason the store ran so smoothly. She knew every shelf and corner of the building and was always happy to help a customer find something. Every morning she arranged produce and the such so that the freshest items were in the front, as she apparently already had experience in this sort of thing, so as to convenience things for the shoppers. If another worker was having trouble she would selflessly lend a hand, and all in all she was basically the hardest worker there. Not to mention she came every day of the week. She even knew all of the regular customers by name at this point.
"You don't need to worry about us," the manager protested. "I just feel that someone your age should be getting out more and spending time with friends. Maybe even get yourself a boyfriend. You shouldn't be working this much at this point in your life."
Yayoi smiled and waved off his concerns. "It's really okay, Mr. Manager. I'm happy working here."
That, and she didn't actually have any friends to hang out with. She'd lost contact with all of her high school friends not too long after graduation, and it wasn't as though she really had the time to find a boyfriend. Not with all the jobs she had to work just to survive. And so she just opened the store and waited.
The morning went by peacefully, what with the regular customers coming in and buying the usual to feed their families for the week. Yayoi chatted affably with them while she rang up their items and then bid them a good week. Some new customers arrived towards noon, probably just people passing by the area and wanting to buy a few snacks or the such. A new co-worker had some trouble at the cash register but Yayoi was quick to help out.
Now it was around three in the afternoon and business was slow. A few people were scattered about the store but for the most part all was calm and quiet. Yayoi was restocking some instant noodle packages when she was approached by a customer.
With a friendly smile and cheerful tone, Yayoi turned to the girl and said, "Can I help you with something?"
The girl was taller than her but didn't look too much older, especially judging by the bored expression on her face that indicated she'd rather be doing a million other things than shopping at a grocery store. The girl's eyes flicked once over Yayoi's body and the disinterested look was replaced by a sort of strained smile, as though she were trying to be nice but was just too exhausted to properly pull it off.
"I'm looking for chocolate and crackers," she said. "And a French meal, if you have it."
"I'm sorry, we don't carry French meals here, but if you'll follow me I can take you right to the snacks," Yayoi replied without missing a beat.
The girl blinked, looking vaguely surprised by the response, and then grinned. "Sounds good. Iorin will just have to deal." Then she winced.
Yayoi leaned forward in concern. "Are you okay?"
It took a few moments for the girl to respond, during which she seemed to be observing Yayoi even more, and then she nodded. "No worries~ just lead the way, Takatsuki-san!" She appeared to have gotten a much-needed energy boost in the time she spent staring at Yayoi.
Yayoi almost asked how she knew her name, and then remembered, duh, the name tag. You would've thought that after working so long at a grocery store she would've gotten used to random customers calling her by her name.
As Yayoi led the girl to the snacks aisle she couldn't help but think that she sounded a lot like Ami Futami from the idol unit she'd heard on the radio just that morning. It obviously couldn't be the idol herself, as Yayoi was quite sure that if it was there would also be a large crowd of reporters and fans following. She decided in the end to ignore it. Normal people were allowed to sound like famous people. It didn't really matter.
Well, then again there was that Iorin person. Was it also a coincidence that that name was similar to Iori Minase?
Before Yayoi could ponder over it anymore they'd arrived at the desired aisle. With another smile on her face, Yayoi turned back to the girl and said, "Here we are. Is there anything else I can help you with?"
"Yeah, what's your name?"
"Eh? I... think it says so right here-."
"No, your first name," the girl interrupted. She flashed another grin, one that Yayoi couldn't help genuinely smiling back at. "It's always better to properly thank someone who helped you, you know?"
Yayoi didn't know, but she replied anyways, "Takatsuki Yayoi, at your service."
The girl looked satisfied with this. Lifting her arms and sweeping them in a grand manner, she knelt into an exaggerated bow and said dramatically, "The humble me is forever in your debt, then, Takatsuki Yayoi-sama. Should you ever need help don't hesitate for a second to ask!"
The almost-seriousness of her voice nearly made Yayoi double over in laughter, but she remembered at the last second that she was at work and while she was at work she had to stay focused. So she allowed herself a giggle instead.
This only encouraged the girl as she proceeded to continue her over the top motions. "I would give my contact information but I'm afraid it's top secret. Don't worry, though! For should any danger approach I'll appear immediately to protect you! It's the least I can do for someone kind enough to direct me to the snacks aisle."
"Wow, are you some kind of superhero?" Yayoi asked, happy to play along. Besides, keeping the customer satisfied was all part of the job. "That's so cool!"
"Isn't it?" the girl laughed, her personality officially taking a complete one-eighty from the tired shopper who'd approached Yayoi only minutes ago. And then, struck by yet another idea, the girl suddenly knelt down and took Yayoi's hand in both of hers, locking eyes with the surprised employee. "Please allow me to serve you for as long as I may live. I shall be your humble servant until the day I die."
The girl's tone was playful but her face completely serious. Yayoi wasn't sure which one to follow, so she went with the best option she could think of.
"Then I guess that makes me your mistress." The sincere smile growing on her face was completely subconscious but she wasn't complaining. "I look forward to working with you."
The look of absolute delight on the girl's face was unmistakeable, and she opened her mouth to reply when out of nowhere a strangely familiar song rang out.
Today, I'll tell everyone my secret love story I've kept to myself!
The change this brought on was instantaneous. The girl's smile disappeared immediately as she dug out her cellphone and answered it. Whilst this was happening, the manager called Yayoi over to help out an elderly customer.
Despite not wanting to leave this girl, her job came first, so Yayoi waved goodbye even though the girl wasn't paying attention and left.
"You're coming to the concert tonight, right?"
Yayoi looked up from her assistance to the elderly lady and stared in surprise at the girl. She was holding a plastic bag full of chocolate and crackers, and was smiling at Yayoi as though the phone call had never happened.
"The Ryuugu Komachi concert," she prompted when Yayoi didn't reply. "You're gonna see it, right?"
"I... no... I mean, I don't really have a..."
The girl waved a ticket in front of Yayoi's face. "Well, now you do. See you tonight, okay, Yayoicchi?" Without even waiting for a response she tucked the ticket into Yayoi's front pocket and walked away, brown ponytail swinging rhythmically behind her.
Yayoi didn't quite know how to react to this. She took out the ticket and examined it closely. It certainly seemed to be the real deal, but the question was how the girl had gotten it and why she was so willing to just give it away.
Well, in any case, it looked like in the end she really was going to the concert. After all, it was always better to properly thank someone.
The man standing guard was scary.
Especially since he was glaring at her like she'd done something wrong.
Yayoi shrunk back from his gaze, looking at the ground uncomfortably and wondering what was going on. All she'd done was show him her ticket, just like everyone else whom she'd been waiting in line with. Was the ticket a fake, after all? Had the girl just been playing a cruel prank on her?
"Miss," the ticket-checker said in a low voice, "this is a front row ticket."
"Oh..." So it was real.
"Pardon me, but this particular ticket is one that wasn't on sale. Might I ask how you came across it?"
Wasn't on sale? Then why did it exist in the first place? "Um... a girl came up to me earlier and gave it to me..." Yayoi stopped. Maybe that wasn't the best thing to say in this situation. "I mean... um..."
How had she gotten into this situation, again?
"Never mind," Yayoi reached out tentatively to take the ticket back. "I'll just leave now-."
"Yayoicchi, you made it!"
Yayoi jumped as the girl from earlier popped out from behind the guard. She was in a different, much more expensive-looking outfit but the mischievous grin was exactly the same. She bounced over to Yayoi and gave her a quick hug.
"Sorry, did Daiki scare you? My bad, I should've waited out here to make sure that wouldn't happen." She ducked her head in apology. Yayoi felt she ought to say something but before she could the girl went on, "Well, at least we're both here now! Come on, I wanna show you around."
She promptly grabbed Yayoi's hand and dragged her inside without even a glance at the bewildered ticket checker. Now, this was fine and all but soon Yayoi realized that they were straying from the large crowd of Ryuugu Komachi fans into a more isolated hallway guarded by more scary-looking men.
"Um... are you sure this is okay-?"
The girl suddenly stopped and held out a card clipped onto a string necklace. "Here! It's for you. It's a backstage pass so if anyone tries to bother you just show them this, okay?" She didn't wait for an answer, something that Yayoi felt she should start getting used to, and placed the pass around Yayoi's neck. "If you lose it just find me and I'll get you another one."
"I'm sorry, but... I never really caught your name."
At this point Yayoi was beginning to get the feeling that this girl was a lot more important than just another customer who'd walked into the store. But at the same time that was almost impossible to believe, because why would someone with connections to Ryuugu Komachi be so nice to an ordinary person like Yayoi?
"Who are you, exactly?"
The girl looked surprised by the question. "Ah... wait, I really never told you, huh? Haha, sorry, Yayoicchi!" Grinning leisurely, the girl pointed at herself and declared, "I'm Futami Mami. Twin sister of Futami Ami of Ryuugu Komachi. Pleased to meet you!"
I apologize for the OOCness and I can assure you that I will try harder to keep them in-character since from this point on there will be a lot more interaction.
Thanks for reading and please review!