Anime: Kaleido Star

Creator: Junichi Sato

Author: Cheshire


Chapter Five: The Final Challenge

That was definitely not what anyone had expected to hear... "What?" Nicolette muttered with wide eyes as the other nine around her starting shouting back at Ken with surprise and intimidation. "Are you crazy?" Edward shouted as Heather crossed her arms over her chest with narrowed eyes. "In front of a whole audience? This is an audition process not a show!" She shouted and Ken sighed, not wanting to have to deal with an angry blonde on his hands. "We told you all that this would not be a normal audition process, that you had to be ready for anything to be thrown at you. By all means, if you think you can't do it then please step down." He said sternly and that caused the talking group to shut up immediately. "We need people who are dedicated, we need people who are not afraid to take risks because Kaleido Stage takes plenty of risks. Our ensemble are some of the greatest performers out there and it is because they will take the risk to do what they love. Are you able to handle that kind of commitment?"

The ten finalists continued to sit silently at Ken's words, Kalos' own arms crossed across his chest and he sternly stared at every one of the performers, Nicolette gulping when his eyes landed on her. The two continued to stare at one another for a few more moments before he turned away, the pink haired woman letting out a deep breath when he did. "We aren't just going to throw you out onto the stage without giving you time to rehearse first, we aren't heartless." Ken continued on, giving a slight glare over to the blonde who only scoffed back at him. "The auditions started at eleven and it is barely two right now. The show and finale will start at eight o'clock sharp. Once you chose your specialty from the hat, you will be on your way." The men and women started mumbling again and Nicolette took this time to look up at both Michael and Zachary; the red head looked nervous like she had but Zachary had a large smirk on his face, ready for the challenge that was about to be thrown at him.

"Before we let you chose from the hat, there is one more surprise for you." Kalos started, all eyes turning to him with shock. "Another one?" Violet whispered to herself behind Nicolette, the pink haired woman also starting to feel more butterflies appearing within her stomach. "We understand that most of you aren't well rounded with everything that we do here at Kaleido, you all have your special talents or have practiced one more than others. Because of that, we have another hat for you to chose from." Ten pairs of eyes turned and noticed that two black top hats sat on two stools, pieces of white paper waiting inside. "After you chose the specialty from the first hat, you will chose from the second and a name will be written on it. Each of those names, are a member of Kaleido Stage that will be helping you with your routine."

Once again, the shouting and gasping continued. A member of Kaleido Stage? They would be working with one of the veterans? Kalos was definitely full of surprises... "A member of Kaleido?" Edward whispered, Violet taking a few deep breaths to calm her heart rate. "Yes, a member of our troupe will help you with the routine. Give ideas or critiques on your ideas. You also may chose whether you would like to perform solo or as a duo, the chose is up to you. Good luck." Kalos said, him and Ken stepping away from the hats so that they could start the picking process. "Violet, you go first." The orange haired male said and the chinese woman gulped, slowly moving past Nicolette and over to the hat. "Please take your first pick of the speciality and then your partner." Ken explained and she nodded, reaching into the first black hat and pulling out her paper. "Contortion." She said, taking a deep breath with a smile. "I got contortion." Violet said happily and Ken nodded, writing it down on his paper as she moved over to the other hat, reaching in to see who would be her partner from Kaleido.

"Dio." She said, looking up into the stands and watching as a man with over hair covering one of his eyes waved down at her, a small smile appearing on her lips. "Thank you, Violet. Richard you may go next." He said and the brown haired male nodded, reaching into both hats and reading off the names of each paper. "Juggling with Anna." He said, spotting a tan female with purple hair grin and wave down at him. "Thank you. Heather." The blonde huffed and flipped her hair over her shoulder when she passed by Nicolette, Zachary glaring at her while Michael blinked a few times at her attitude. "I have the trampoline with Dominique." She read off and Nicolette grimaced, looking up at Dominique who seemed to groan in his chair, lowly waving his hand down at the blonde who smirked at her partner. "Ashley, go up next please." The blue haired female nodded and moved over to the hats, picking out her slips. "Aerial hoops with Pamela." She read off, looking up to see an unamused silver haired female salute down at her.

"Thank you. Jeremy next." The korean man nodded and moved to the hats, running his hand through his black hair with a deep breath before grabbing the two slips of paper. "I have hula hoops with May." He read off, looking up into the stands to see a Chinese young woman wave down at her new partner. "Thank you and Edward you next." The blonde nodded and walked over to the hat, grabbing onto his name and speciality. "I got the german wheel with Emilio." He said, noticing a buff brunette grin from his spot behind Dominique and wave down at Edward, who waved back with a nod. "Samantha, go on next." The orange haired female gulped and slowly walked over to the hat, eyeing them carefully before reaching inside. "A dance routine with Mia." She read off with a smile, knowing exactly who her partner was. Mia herself smiled and waved down at her new partner, getting her shoulder smacked lightly by Anna. "Michael, your turn." Ken said and Michael squeaked, causing Zachary to burst out laughing and Nicolette to smile, rubbing her friend's shoulder. "Good luck." She told him and he nodded, giving a nervous smile back before moving over to the hats.

"I have the trapeze with Rosetta." He said softly, spotting the red head female up in the stands sitting next to Sora, a small smile on her lips as she waved down at him. "Thank you, Michael. Zachary." Ken called and the navy haired male grinned, patting Nicolette's back before moving to the two hats and choosing his papers. "I have the ladder act with Leon." He read off, a small squeal of annoyance and jealously being heard from the blonde in the corner, crossing her arms over her chest. Rolling his eyes, Zachary looked up into the stands and nodded when he saw the silver haired man nod back, his arms crossed over his chest. "Thank you, Zachary. Alright, Nicolette. You're the last one." Ken said with a smile, Nicolette giving him a nervous smile as she moved slowly over to the two hats. 'I'm nervous... Why is it that this is making me nervous?' She thought, reaching into the first hat and grabbing one of the papers. 'Let's hope that I can be successful in whatever I choose...' Nicolette thought with a deep breath, pulling out the second piece of paper and opening the two up to read them aloud. "I have aerial with- with..." She stuttered, her eyes widening at the name that was on her piece of paper.

"Yes, Nic?" Ken started, leaning closer to hear the name. "Who are you doing aerial with?" He asked and the pink haired female squeaked, speaking out the name in a small voice. "With Yuri..." She mumbled and Ken chuckled. "A little louder please, Nic." He said with humor and she groaned, letting her hands fall in front of her, a small blush on her cheeks. "I got aerial with Yuri." She said, Heather screeching out when she heard his name. "YURI?!" She cried out, all eyes turning to her to see her cheeks turn red with anger. "Yes, Yuri." Nicolette said, setting the two pieces of paper down and moving back into the crowd, Michael and Zachary looking down at her with arched eyebrows. After a moment, the pink haired female looked up in the stands and smiled nervously when she saw Yuri chuckling at her, giving a small wave in greeting. "All right! And that concludes the partner process!" Ken said happily as he finished writing, showing the group the piece of paper so that they could make sure that everything was correct for him.

Violet and Dio - Contortion

Richard and Anna - Juggling

Heather and Dominique - Trampoline

Ashley and Pamela - Aerial - Hoops

Jeremy and May - Hula Hoops

Edward and Emilio - German Wheel

Samantha and Mia - Dancing

Michael and Rosetta - Trapeze

Zachary and Leon - The Ladder

Nicolette and Yuri - Aerial

When everyone nodded and told him that it was correct, Ken nodded and moved back from the performers, Kalos taking a step forward. "We will now give you time to spend with your partners to come up with your routines. Also, we have an opportunity for you all to take if you so choose too." The head of Kaleido said, the ten performers looking over at him with curiosity. "Both Layla and Sora will be choreographing an opening piece for the final stage of the auditions tonight, the Kaleido troupe will be performing and you all have the chance to perform with them if you so desire." He explained, the ten starting to whisper to one another in excitement. "But know this, being in this piece does not give you a pass out of your solo with your partners, you must do both if you make that decision." Kalos said, eyeing all ten of the performers and watching their expressions. 'It sounds like he's challenging us...' Nicolette thought, not letting her eyes wander off of the Kaleido Stage owner. 'He wants us to prove ourselves and do both.'

"Hmm... I don't know about you guys but I know that Nicolette, Michael and myself will do the opening piece." Zachary said with a large grin, the two looking over at him with wide eyes. "W-we will?" Michael muttered in shock and the navy haired man nodded, laughing as he wrapped his arms around the two. "Of course we will! We can't give up this challenge! Especially when it's Kalos!" He said and Nicolette chuckled, since she was just thinking the same thing a few moments before. "I'll do it." She said, the red head looking over at her with surprise, a soft sigh leaving his lips. "Me three." He said with a small smile and the two grinned, Kalos smirking at the new trio. "Good. I was hoping you three would accept." He said and all of their eyes widened with shock, their hearts leaping at his words. 'He... He wanted us?' The three thought in unison, watching as Kalos turned down to Ken. "Put them on the list and prepare their schedules so that it won't interfere with their solo rehearsals." He said and the orange male nodded, making a note on his clipboard.

"W-wait! What about the rest of us?" Heather demanded, placing her hands on her hips. "Don't we get to volunteer as well?" She asked, speaking about the opening and Kalos stopped walking, looking over his shoulder at the blonde. "You had your chance and you didn't speak, that's on you." He said and she gasped, the dark skinned male smirking as he left the stage, leaving the performers alone with Ken. "Snap..." Michael muttered with wide eyes, Nicolette also surprised at Kalos' blunt words. "Ooh!" The blonde woman seethed as Zachary chuckled, Ken rolling his eyes. "Alright then. Now everyone come and take your slips. These will tell you places to rehearse and your time schedules. Nic, Zach, and Michael, you will have two slips. Do not lose them." He said and the three nodded, accepting the slips of paper. "Will do." Zachary said, Michael offering a smile as well as Nicolette, Ken grinning back at the three.

"Everyone is dismissed! Please go and find your partners in the main lobby of the building and start your rehearsals! There will be a lunch break in three hours! See you all then!" Ken said and all the performers nodded and gathered up their belongings, moving up the stairs and into the stands where the Kaleido performers were taking their leave. "I'm glad to see you perform in the opening number." Ken said with a smile to Nicolette, the pink haired female looking up with surprise. "Really? You are?" She asked and he nodded, balancing his clipboard on his hip. "It's not every day we get a performer like you to come audition. You have talent, and a good personality. I don't want to lose you." He said with a wink and she laughed, hoisting her bag onto her shoulder. "Thanks, Ken. That really means a lot." She told him truthfully and he grinned, patting her shoulder. "Now go and find Yuri, he should be waiting for you in the lobby."

With a nod, Nicolette adjusted her bag and walked up the stairs after her fellow performers, moving through the halls and into the lobby, having to cover eyes momentarily to get used to sun pouring into the room. "Miss Roberts." A voice called, the pink haired female turning to her left to see the blonde male leaning on the wall, his eyes in his pockets. "Pleasure to meet you." Yuri said with a small smile, Nicolette blushing and pushing some of her hair behind her ear as she moved over to him. "Pleasure to meet you as well, Mr. Killian." She said and he chuckled. "Call me, Yuri." He told her and she smiled. "Then you can me, Nic." She told him and he chuckled again, moving off of the wall. "Shall we?" Nodding, the pink haired female followed the Kaleido Star out of the room and giggled when she spotted Dominique winking over at her with a smirk, Heather's back to her and Yuri. "Something funny?"

Yuri questioned as he led her out of the Kaleido building, the pink haired female quickly turning back to him. "Oh, no... Sorry, Dominique was trying to get my attention." She said and the blonde glanced down at her with an arched brow. "Do you know, Dominique?" He wondered and she shook her head, her eyes widening when they reached his car. The red paint sparkling in the sun. "N-no, I only met him this morning. I was lost and he took me to the audition room." Nicolette explained and he nodded, opening his door and getting into the driver's seat. "You going to get in?" He asked with a slight chuckle, Nicolette turning red at his words and quickly putting her bags in the back, getting into the passenger seat and shutting the door. "Are you always this nervous?" Yuri asked as he started the car, backing out of his spot and driving down the bridge, Nicolette holding her hand over her head to keep her bangs from flying into her eyes.

"Not usually." She said and he smirked, leaning his left arm over the side of his car door. "You are strange." He told her, the blush returning to her cheeks in embarrassment. "But a talented performer." He finished, her green eyes widening and looking over at him in awe. "I have been quite curious on what it will be like to work with you. Please do not disappointment." The blonde said and she smiled, her cheeks now tinted a light pink. "I'll do my best." She said and he nodded, glad to hear her answer. The two arrived at the Kaleido Stage apartments and both stepped out of the car, Nicolette following him down a stair path. "Where are we going?" She wondered, moving fast to keep up with his long legs. "We are going to our gym, it is here down the path. Nicely located near the apartments so our performers can access it easily."

Nodding, Nicolette looked around the area and smiled at the ocean, the water sparkling thanks to the sun's rays. "Beautiful isn't it?" Yuri said, causing the female to jump slightly at his presence so close to her. "One of my favorite places of Kaleido Stage, this wonderful view." He said, smiling as he moved down the path again, Nicolette once again blushing as she hurried after him. 'He's different than I thought he would be.' She thought, rubbing her arms to rid them of the goosebumps that had appeared. 'I'm... I'm glad to have the opportunity to work with him as my partner.' She said, a small smile appearing on her lips as he led her to a large gym, her eyes widening at the size. "Whoa..." She muttered and he chuckled, opening the door to allow her entry first. "After you."

With a smile, Nicolette entered the building and was surprised to see a large lobby with red couches, glass tables and white pillars decorating the halls. "Impressed?" He asked as he entered after her, and she slowly nodded, letting her eyes wander the room. "It's amazing." She said he smiled, placing his hand on her lower back and leading her down a hall on the left. "All these rooms are used for our rehearsals before we take it to the main stage, the others should be here shortly to use them as well." He explained, taking her to the fifth door and opening it, Nicolette's eyes locking the enormous room with multiple aerial silks hanging from the ceiling. "Oh my..." She started, allowing her bag to drop to the floor, Yuri moving past her. "We should stretch out a bit before we work on our routine, don't work yourself too hard though since you have been performing all morning." Yuri said as he took off his jacket, rolling up his sleeves and putting his blonde hair into a small ponytail. "Alright."

She said, slipping out of her shoes and moving over to the mats, sitting down and grabbing onto her feet for a hamstring stretch. After Yuri had removed his pants, Nicolette having to turn away, the blonde was now left in some black, tight work out shorts that went to the top of his knees and a blue button up with a white tank underneath, moving over to the mat to wear Nicolette sat. "What kind of routine were you thinking?" Nicolette wondered aloud, pressing her chin to her knees as Yuri cracked his neck, stretching out his legs into a straddle split. "Anything you would like." He said with a slight smirk, leaning forward until he was resting on his elbows, his chin resting in the palm of his hand. "Have you done aerial before?" He asked her and she nodded, also moving into a straddle split to stretch her legs out. "Yes, I have. But it has been a while." She admitted, stretching her shoulders and Yuri nodded, moving out of his straddle to stand and stretch his quadriceps. "Well, we should first decide on whether you want to perform your routine solo or as a duet." He explain, stretching his arms as he spoke.

"Kalos would be fine with either decision, but it all has to be up to you and what you now you can accomplish in this amount of time." Nicolette nodded at his words, understanding that she couldn't work herself too hard and try to do more than what she could truly handle. "I understand. Thank you." She said and he smiled, bending his legs so that he could be closer to her level. "Any song ideas?" He wondered and she shrugged, scratching the back of her head as she continue to stretch in her straddle split. "Well... I have a few ideas... But..." She mumbled and he arched a brow. "But?" He repeated and she blushed, avoiding his gaze as she put both hands on the floor in front of her. "Would you... mind being my partner for aerial?" She asked and he chuckled, holding on his hand for the female to take. "I would be honored."

He said and Nicolette grinned with pink cheeks, allowing Yuri to help her back onto her feet. "Now then, since we have chosen to do a duet. What would you like to portray in your routine?" He asked and the female hummed, thinking about what routines the performance would hold. "Well... Have you done ballet before?" She wondered and he nodded, curious on where she was going. "I have. Why?" He asked and she continued, looking up at the silks and thinking about the floor space of the stage. "I have a song in mind, but the song works well as a Pas de Deux." She explained and he arched a brow, starting to understand. "So you're saying do a type of Pas de Deux while in the air and on the floor?" He asked and she nodded, a smile on her face. "That way we can show both our strength not just on the ground, but in the air." She said and he nodded, placing his hands on his hips with a slight smirk. "And since it's a Pas de Deux, I get to make you look good." He joked with a wink and her cheeks flushed red as he laughed, brushing his bangs from his face.

"Now, what does that song sound like?" Yuri wondered and Nicolette quickly moved over to her bag, embarrassed that the blond continue to make her cheeks hot. After finding her Ipod, she quickly moved back over to the blonde with a smile. "It's called Ballare. Sung as a duet with a man and woman. It's a beautiful piece and I think would work well in the air." With a nod, Yuri took her ipod and handed it off to Daniel who had come down to retrieve it, grinning in thanks as he moved back up to his post. "Alright then, let's get started. I need to have lots of time with you before Sora and Layla come to take us away." He said with a chuckle and Nicolette giggled in return, the two moving over to the silks that Daniel had gracefully flown down for the two performers.

"Good, now stretch your legs and at this point I'll help wrap the silks around your ankles." Yuri instructed and Nicolette nodded, stepping up onto his knee and using her upper body strength to climb up the silks, her legs in a nice upside down 'V'. When she was in position, Yuri stood from his kneeling pose and helped wrap the silks around her legs to her ankles, the pink haired female falling forward until she was upside down in a perfect straddle split, her arms free and moving in a water like movement. "Good, you ready?" He asked and she nodded, holding out her arms for Yuri in which he took, looking up to a control booth where he signaled Daniel to raise the silks, lifting the two into the air. Once they were up, the two soared through the sky and Yuri lifted his legs through his arms, releasing one of Nicolette's arms and using his body to curl and spin around his stronger arm. "And lower!" He shouted to Daniel who nodded, slowly starting to low the silks again while Yuri unrolled his body, using his upper body strength to pull himself closer to Nicolette's lips before he felt his feet touch the ground again, Nicolette releasing his arms and soaring back up into the sky, her legs still wrapped in the silks and in a straddle.

"Perfect. Daniel bring her down!" He shouted and Daniel nodded, lowering the silks as Nicolette started to unwind herself from the soft material. "That was wonderful, Nic. You have great strength in your legs." Yuri said with a smile as he placed his hands on her waist, allowing her to release the silks before placing her hands on his shoulders. "Thank you..." She said with a small smile, looking up to see that Daniel was grinned and giving her a thumbs up. With an embarrassed giggle, Yuri set her back on her feet and was about to ask if they could run the ending again, but was interrupted when the doors to the room opened. "Yuri. I need to take Nicolette." A voice said, the two turning to see Sora in the doorway with a large smile on her face. "Layla went to go get Zachary while we pick up Michael. Ready, Nicolette?" The purple haired female asked and she nodded, smiling up at Yuri before wiping some sweat from her brow and moving to her belongings. "How long will you need her for?" Yuri questioned as he followed after his partner, letting his hair out of his ponytail. "Two to three hours at most." She answered, leaning on the door with her hands behind her back.

"Since the three hours are up, Layla and I are going to take them for their lunch break and then we still start working. After that, you two will be able to practice on the main stage before the performance tonight." Sora explained and the blonde nodded, grabbing his clothes from the mat next to Nicolette, who was putting her shoes on. "Sounds good. I'll walk you out then." He said and the purple haired female nodded with a smile, taking Nicolette's hand and leading her farther down the hall, Yuri close behind. "This is where Michael should be." Sora said as she opened the door, Nicolette's eyes widening at the site she was now beholding. Both Rosetta and Michael with in the air on two separate trapeze swings, both holding on upside down with their legs in straddle splits as they swung. Quickly the two moved back up onto their bars and Rosetta swung calmly as she watched Michael dip down and hold onto the bar with both hands. After a moment, he used his body momentum to release the bar and flipped twice before re-grabbing the bar and swinging backward; Nicolette almost screaming when he did so.

"Good, Michael! Sally, hold the music please." Rosetta shouted and the brunette up in the booth nodded, stopping the music and slowly lowering the two back to the ground, Michael having to get his trapeze to stop with his weight. "You've come for Michael, I suppose?" The red head female asked and Sora nodded, clapping her hands in front of her chest. "That was amazing you two!" She said and Michael blushed, rubbing the back of his head as he sat on his swing. "T-thank you..." He said and Nicolette grinned, hurrying over to her friend as he hopped down onto the mats along with Rosetta. "That looked amazing! I didn't know you could do the trapeze." The pink haired woman said and Michael chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck as he walked off the mat with his friend. "The trapeze is what I am best at. I was glad that I got it." He said and she nodded, smiling as he wiped his face of sweat and started to put back on his over shirt and shoes from the floor. "Now all is left is to go and find Zachary. He and Leon are across the hall." Sora said the group nodded, following the Kaleido Star out of the room and moved to the opposing door, opening it up and Nicolette and Michael gasping at what they saw.

"Keep it steady, hold your balance." Leon said as he stood on the mat, his arms crossed over his chest as he stared up at his trainee. Zachary was at the top of a ten foot ladder with his hands holding both sides, his body stretched and his legs in a 'V' shape. "Good. Now, release." He said and the navy haired man nodded, gritting his teeth as he flipped his legs over his head and released the sides of the ladder, sliding down the smaller bars and landing on the mat with a soft 'thud'. "Good." Leon said with a nod, glancing over his shoulder and noticing that they had company. "Time up?" He asked and Sora nodded, Leon humming softly as he flipped his ponytail over his shoulder, running his hand through his hair as he walked down the mats. "You have to go with Sora, Zach." He said and the navy haired man nodded, taking heavy breaths as he started to chug his water bottle. "All right. Where we going?"

He wondered and Leon glanced over at Sora, the female grinning. "We are going back to the stage where we will rehearse the opening number. Most of the Kaleido troupe is in it." She explained and Nicolette's eyes widen, piecing the puzzle together. 'So that's why Yuri and Rosetta have come with us.' She thought, watching as both Leon and Zachary put on their over shirts over their work out tanks. "Shall we?" Zachary asked with a smirk and Michael chuckled as the pink haired female rolled her eyes with a smile. With that, the group of eight left the room and moved down the hall, noticing that some of the doors were open and the other competitors were working hard with their partners. 'I wonder how Dominique is doing...' Nicolette thought, thinking back of her new friend and how it was working out with Heather. 'I hope he isn't having too much trouble with her.' Once the group was out of the building, they separated into their different cars and Nicolette went with Yuri, looking at ocean in silence as she thought about how much this chance could change her life. 'Please... Let me be successful.' She thought as she shut her eyes and rested on the car seat. 'Let me prove that I want to be here.'

End of 'Chapter Five: The Final Challenge'

Next... 'Chapter Six: Make Him Believe'

So sorry for taking such a long time to update this story! I've been super distracted with my other stories as well as my life haha. But I hope that this chapter will make up for it! I'm excited to finally have the Finals for the auditions and then start going into the rest of the story which I am super excited for you all to read! Hope this was an exciting chapter and can't wait to hear any reviews and comments! Lots of love and happy reading!