A/N In this chapter, Keiko struggles dealing with her past revealed to the whole city and being suspended from 765 Pro. Be sure to let me know how you like this story and my OC character. I do not own The iDOLMASTER.
Chapter 13: The Rise of a Crane Part 2
1 WEEK BEFORE CONCERT
News reporter: "Keiko Naohara's violent secret is now revealed. Long before she became the Rising Crane of 765 Pro, Keiko had been involved in various fights in her schools, including the fight she had recently been through in an alley. According to the news report that had been broadcasted two years ago, witnesses claimed that the young man had attempted to murder a young civilian with a broken bottle, but who this young civilian was had been a mystery until it was now revealed as Keiko Naohara. The evidence of the situation is the scar that is shown on her right elbow. Whether the young man had been using the bottle as an act of self-defense or not is still unknown. The Rising Crane of 765 Pro has yet to make another appearance, and it has now been two weeks since she did. Although, it seems rather clear that she is a violent young lady that has a tendency to go looking for a fight and would attack those that get in her way. More, after this."
The depressed redhead watched the news broadcast as the events of her past that she really wished that no one else would know about has now been exposed, due to 961 Pro's president's latest scheme. She was walking through town with her disguise on, hoping that no one on the streets would recognize and start antagonizing her. Meanwhile, back at the 765 Pro studio, there were reporters standing outside the front door and Haruka, Hibiki, Yukiho and Makoto were inside the breakroom as Kotori was about to finish her conversation on the phone.
Kotori: "I'm truly sorry, but she's just not available right now… Okay. Sorry for the inconvenience. Bye."
Producer: "Another one asking for Keiko?"
Producer: "Hmm… it seems that Keiko's absence is really starting to complicate things."
Kotori: "I know… Ohh, it just doesn't feel the same with Keiko-chan not being around here."
Haruka: "Hard to believe that it's already been two weeks without her. Has anyone seen or heard from her since we last saw her?"
Makoto: "No. Nothing. We've sent her text messages, we tried calling her, but she won't answer her cellphone."
Yukiho: "W-we couldn't even find her on the streets so we could talk to her in person. It's like she just d-disappeared from us."
Hibiki: "Producer-san, why isn't Keiko coming here anymore so she can finish practicing with us for the concert?"
Producer: "Because her grandfather called and said that she isn't allowed to come here for the next three months. I guess finding out about the trouble Keiko got into upset him and now she's being punished for it."
Yukiho: "Ohh, this is just terrible. Not having her around just makes it feel so empty here, like we're missing a part of us."
Haruka: "Yeah. But we'll be able to see her again when she comes back… still, it's gonna be hard to wait for three months when she does."
Hibiki: "I really miss seeing her here; even Hamuzou misses the sound of her playing her flute."
Makoto: "I miss her too… which is why I think we need to do something about it."
Everyone looked at her in confusion while the Producer says,
Producer: "What do you mean, Makoto?"
Makoto: "I mean that we should go and check on Keiko, make sure she's okay. Maybe even get her to come back and finish practicing with us for the concert."
Producer: "Hmm… I see what you're getting at, Makoto, but I don't know if her grandfather will agree to that. He sounded like his mind was set on suspending her when we talked on the phone."
Makoto: "But we have to at least try, Producer-san! We haven't done another concert like this for a long while and how long will it be until we do another one? Suspended or not, we can't let Keiko miss out on this."
The room was once again quiet as everyone had thought about what the boyish idol just said. Yukiho decided to speak up again.
Yukiho: "…M-Makoto-chan does have a point. I-I think it's worth a try."
Haruka: "Yeah, I think so, too."
Hibiki: "Me three!"
Hamuzou squeaked while looking triumphant on the Okinawa girl's head.
Kotori: "Producer-san, it has been two weeks since we last heard from her. We should at least make sure she's doing okay."
The Producer thought about the idea for a moment and tells everyone his decision.
Producer: "All right, then. Tomorrow, I'll head on over to Keiko's place and check up on her. I'll even have a talk with her grandfather and see if I can talk him into allowing her to take part in the concert in a week."
They all now looked happy after hearing the Producer's plan. Shortly after, Yukiho asks,
Yukiho: "C-can we come along with you, Producer-san?"
Producer: "That'll depend on who's available by tomorrow during the afternoon, Yukiho."
Makoto: "That works for me."
Haruka: "Me too, and if all goes well, she'll be back here in no time."
Hibiki: "You bet, Haruka! Come on, we gotta call the others and tell them that we're getting Keiko back!"
Producer: "That's assuming if her grandfather will allow her to come back."
Hibiki: "Then you better do whatever it takes to make sure he does, Producer-san. You hear?"
Producer: "Yes, Hibiki, I hear you."
Kotori was content to see everyone working on getting their friend back in time for the concert. As they all continued chatting, Kotori was starting to have another daydream about Keiko returning with the help of all the idols until she was snapped out of it by the Producer and then she began to run out of the room.
THE NEXT DAY…
Keiko had just returned to her home from school as she came through the front door. Daisuke had walked up to her after she had locked the door behind her and turned to face him as he asks,
Daisuke: "Anything happen at school today?"
Keiko: "No. Just the usual."
Daisuke: "Was there any trouble?"
Keiko: "No. Not today."
Daisuke: "…Okay, then."
Keiko: "I'm gonna go and work on my homework now."
Daisuke: "All right."
Ever since Daisuke had suspended Keiko from 765 Pro, the two had barely interacted with each other anymore. Their discussions had been short and to the point. The redhead wished that everything could go back to how it all was before. As Keiko took a seat in her desk after closing the door to her room, she had taken out the homework assignment from her bag and laid it out in front of her. Before she got started on it, she looks at the framed picture of her parents that was also on her desk. She stares at it for a moment, wishing that they were both here to lend her their support and also thinking that she had let them down for not being able to take part in the concert with all her friends that was six days away from now. As Keiko spent a few minutes working on her homework, Yumi came into her room with her older sister's cell phone in her hand.
Yumi: "Hi there, Keiko."
Keiko: "Hmm? Oh, hey, Yumi. What's up?"
Yumi: "Well, um, I just wanted to let you know that everyone from 765 Pro really misses you."
Keiko: "Yeah, I'm sure that they do."
Yumi: "They even sent you plenty of text messages, and called you a lot, too. See?"
Keiko then remembered how she had shown Yumi how to use a cell phone a long while ago so that she would know how to when she gets her own someday. Keiko takes her cellphone and takes a look at the list of missed calls and text messages that all the 765 Pro idols had sent to her over the past two weeks. Almost all of them had the words "We miss you" on them. Some of them were even received by the same idol. Keiko really wanted to reply to their texts, but due to being suspended, she couldn't. She hands her cell phone back to Yumi as she says,
Keiko: "Thanks, Yumi. I appreciate you showing this to me."
Yumi: "Sure thing. Uh, Keiko?"
Keiko: "What is it?"
Yumi: "I still don't understand. Why did you lie to Grandpa about not being in those fights?"
Keiko remained silent for a bit as she thought about her answer.
Keiko: "I… I don't know. I know that it wasn't right and I shouldn't have done it when I did, but the way he looked at me two years ago, and after all the trouble I was in before then… I just couldn't bear to face the consequences that time."
Yumi: "But you already are facing them now."
Keiko: "I know… Yumi, listen to me. If you ever end up doing something bad, and you know that it was wrong and it'll upset Grandpa, just tell him. That way you won't have anything to hide from him and you won't make the same mistake like I did. You understand?"
Yumi: "Yeah, I understand. So, um, how are you feeling?"
Keiko: "…I don't know. I mean, I do feel sad about not going to 765 Pro for a while now."
Yumi: "Don't be sad, Keiko. You're the one that's always telling me not to be sad, and to smile, remember?"
Keiko: "Yeah, I know."
Yumi: "Besides, even if I won't be able to see you perform on that stage, you're still the coolest idol that I know."
The redhead smile at her younger sister's words.
Keiko: "That's a very nice thing for you to say, Yumi. Thank you."
Yumi: "You're welcome. Hey, Keiko?"
Yumi: "Do you wanna play futbol with me when you get done doing your homework?"
Keiko: "Sure, I'd like that."
And then, they hear somebody ringing the doorbell to their home and Keiko says,
Keiko: "Why don't you go and see who that is with Grandpa while I keep working on this, okay?"
Yumi heads to the front door while closing the door to her older sister's room behind her. As Keiko continued to do her work, she then notices the flute that was also on her desk. The redhead had tried playing songs that would lift her spirits plenty of times before, but the fact that she couldn't go to the agency that she loved very much for three months remained. As she was working, she hears a couple of knocks on her door and responds to it by saying,
Keiko: "Come in."
When the door opens, Keiko was completely surprised to see two of her friends, Makoto and Yukiho, suddenly walking into her bedroom, along with a bouquet of flowers. Keiko gets up from the chair she was sitting on and exclaims,
Keiko: "Ah! Makoto! Yukiho!"
Makoto: "Hey, Keiko."
Yukiho: "It's so nice to see you again."
Keiko: "Yeah, same here."
The redhead hugs her two friends and they returned it. After a moment of hugging, Keiko asks,
Keiko: "Is that bouquet for me?"
Makoto: "Yeah. We all pitched in to make it and picked different flowers that we liked."
Yukiho: "Do you like it?"
Keiko: "Yeah, I do. Thanks."
Keiko takes the bouquet, sets it down on her desk and asks,
Keiko: "Is anyone else here?"
Yukiho: "N-no. Just us and Producer-san."
Makoto: "Yeah, he's downstairs talking with your grandpa. He also brought some food that Yayoi made for you."
Keiko: "She did? Well, that was nice of her. She did say that she would someday."
Yukiho: "She also wanted us to tell you that she hopes you'll enjoy it."
Keiko: "I'm sure that I will. So, what brings you all here?"
Makoto: "We came to see how you were doing, Keiko. We really missed you."
Keiko: "I missed you all, too."
Yukiho: "We've all sent you text messages and called you, but you never answer."
Keiko: "Yeah, well, Grandpa took my cellphone."
Yukiho: "Oh. Um, H-Haruka-chan told us what happened between you and that man you fought a while back the day after you left."
Keiko: "She did?"
Makoto: "Yeah, but only after we asked and she wanted you to know that she didn't tell us or anyone else about that fight you were in before the news got out."
Keiko: "I know. I believe her. The thing is, I didn't want her to tell you all about what happened then because, well, I just didn't want any of you to be worried about me. He wanted to steal her purse and I did what had to do to get it back, even though I didn't even want to fight him."
Yukiho: "We understand, Keiko-chan. B-but, everyone else in town doesn't seem to."
Makoto: "Yeah, you're right. It's just like Kuroi to not tell the whole story… Anyway, how've you been holding up since… well, you know."
Keiko thought about it for a moment, sighed deeply and sat back down on her chair as she says,
Keiko: "Honestly? Not so good. I mean, ever since Kuroi showed the town what I did and what I've been through, people have been changing their opinions about me. Some even started giving me a hard time about what they had just heard about me."
Keiko: "Well… the other day, this guy in school had just walked up to me and called me out about what he found out about me, asked if I'm trying to prove that I'm the toughest girl around, which I'm not. I thought about saying something smart to him, but I reminded myself that I'm in enough trouble as it is, so I walked away. He didn't like to be ignored. So, he started to follow me down the hall as I was walking. He was calling me names and tempting me to fight him until he just shoved me to the floor."
Makoto: "Are you serious?"
Keiko: "Yeah. I wanted to hit him so hard, but I told myself that I shouldn't, so I just got up and kept walking."
Makoto: "Did you at least tell someone about him?"
Keiko: "Just Grandpa went I got back home that day, but nobody else. I didn't think that being a snitch would do me any good."
Yukiho: "We're sorry to hear that happened to you."
Keiko: "It wasn't your fault. Anyway, it's not just that guy, there's other people going around saying that I'm violent, or that I'm some kind of thug and that they should even mind their distance around me. It's just so messed up… I'm not a violent person. I'm not. I'm also not a thug or dangerous or anything like that. I just… I…"
Before she could finish what she was saying, Makoto puts her hand on Keiko's shoulder and says,
Makoto: "We know that, Keiko. We all know what kind of person you are, and it has nothing to do with what any of those people are saying right now."
Keiko then smiles but only for a second and nods before she replies,
Keiko: "Thanks, Makoto. I appreciate it."
Makoto: "Of course."
Keiko: "So, uh, how have you two and everyone else been doing since I was gone?"
Yukiho: "W-we're okay, but everyone is really worried about you, Keiko-chan. We're really hoping that you can come back soon."
Keiko: "I want to come back, too, Yukiho. Believe me, I really do… but I can't. Grandpa won't allow me to go anywhere near that studio until it's been three months. He won't even let me be in that concert with you all."
Makoto: "Yeah, we know that. That's why Producer-san is down there with him so he can talk him into letting you be in that concert."
Keiko wanted to believe that idea would work, but instead, she says,
Keiko: "I don't think that he can."
Yukiho: "B-but… but Producer-san can be very persistent."
Keiko: "Yeah, but when Grandpa sets his mind about something, there's no way anyone can talk him out of it."
Makoto was about to say something else, but then the Producer appeared outside of Keiko's bedroom door and says,
Producer: "Hello, Keiko."
Keiko: "Oh, uh, hi, Producer-san"
Producer: "Makoto, Yukiho, I'm afraid that we are overstaying our welcome here."
Yukiho: "What do you mean?"
Producer: "I mean that Naohara-san insists that we leave."
Yukiho: "Eh? B-but, Producer-san-"
Producer: "I'm sorry, but I'm afraid we have no other choice."
Knowing that their plan has now failed, the two idols were now saddened by what they were told. They faced Keiko for a minute before she finally says,
Keiko: "Don't worry, I'll be okay. I really appreciate you all coming to see me and doing all this for me… but I guess you're all gonna have to do the concert without me."
Makoto: "But- but, Keiko-"
Keiko: "I-it's okay, really. I mean, I'm still an idol and there'll always be another one, right?"
Makoto: "Well, yeah, but-"
Producer: "Makoto, Yukiho, we have to go now."
There was nothing left for either one of them to say. As they both walked out of the door with sad expressions on their faces, they turned to look at their redhead friend one last time for a moment and then walked down the stairs towards the front door. The Producer remained where he was that moment as he says,
Producer: "I wish that we could've done more for you, Keiko."
Keiko: "I know. I'm still glad that you three came to see me and all. Will you let the others know that I miss them, too?"
Producer: "Of course."
And with that, they say their goodbyes; the Producer leaves the house with Makoto and Yukiho, and Keiko resumes working on her homework a moment later.
12 HOURS BEFORE CONCERT
Today was the day. The day that they were all about to perform live on stage in front of a huge audience once again. Everyone had gathered in the breakroom of the studio. They would've all been more excited about tonight's event if it weren't for the absence of one idol; Keiko. She was going through their minds as all of the staff of 765 Pro came into the room and the Producer says,
Producer: "All right everyone, this is it. We're just about ready to head to the stage soon. I hope that you're all ready to give it your all out there tonight."
It took a moment for all of them to nod their heads. The Producer noticed the concerned looks in their eyes and says,
Producer: "What's the matter, everyone?"
Haruka: "Producer-san, we've been thinking about tonight, about Keiko, and… well-"
Ami: "We don't wanna do this without her, Nii-chan! Kei-neechan was supposed to be in the concert with us."
Mami: "Yeah, we were so looking forward to dancing on stage with her, too, and now we're supposed to do it without her?"
Kotori: "Oh, my…"
Ritsuko: "Listen, everyone, I understand how you all feel about this, but you all have to remember that there will always be another one for Keiko to take part of and you need to think about putting on the best performances you can while you're all on stage tonight. Understand?"
Makoto: "Ritsuko-san, with all due respect, this… this just doesn't feel right. I mean, I feel like we're all just turning our back on Keiko by doing this without her. After everything we did to help her prepare for it, too."
Ritsuko: "Now, Makoto, we've already been through this. If her grandfather decides not to allow her to be in the concert, then we can't object to his judgment."
Makoto: "Yeah, but that doesn't change the fact that this was supposed to be Keiko's very first concert with all of us."
Miki: "With all the hard work she did during all those sessions and the jobs that she's done, Miki agrees with Makoto-kun. Keiko deserves this chance to sparkle tonight."
Takane: "Keiko has come so far ever since the day she had been accepted into 765 Pro and she has worked too hard with us to miss out on an event such as this."
Azusa: "Right. She's been doing so well as an idol so that she'd live up to what the Rising Cranes have been able to do, and was always so nice to all of us."
Chihaya: "I have to agree as well. And let's not forget that you have all been there for me when I had lost my ability to sing and wanted to leave 765 Pro because of it, which is why I believe we should all be there for Naohara-san. She has always been there for us every time one of us was feeling down or needed help, like when she had been there for her sister, Yumi, when their mother's necklace went missing."
Yayoi: "Yeah, Chihaya-san's right. Keiko-san helped me clean the whole kitchen while I was doing chores one day. She helped you on that day, too, right, Iori-chan?"
Iori: "Huh? Oh, uh… I hate to admit it, but, if Keiko hadn't been around that day, I probably wouldn't have ever gotten Charles back in one piece."
Yukiho: "K-Keiko-chan was also there for me, too, on that day when I came to the office after I ran into that man with his dog. She's always such a good friend."
Ami: "You got that right, Yukipyon, which is why we like being around Kei-neechan, too."
Mami: "With the way she plays her flute, her skills at playing futbol and with Yumi-moudo, she's so awesome to play with!"
Haruka: "Keiko has also proven to be very loyal plenty of times before. I never would've got my purse back from that man if it wasn't for her."
Hibiki: "That's right, Haruka, but everyone in the city doesn't seem to know that. They're all talking like what she did was a bad thing when she only did what she had to when there was no other way, even with all the other trouble she got into before she came into our lives."
Makoto: "Exactly. So, you see? If we all perform up on that stage without her, even after she told us that she wouldn't miss out on this for the world, then everything we've done to help her when she helped us before would just be for nothing, and Kuroi would get away with what he had done to her. So, we have to try something, anything, so that Keiko can be in this concert with us."
They had all made some very good points. Ever since that day when Keiko had been recruited to 765 Pro, she had been working hard in all of her jobs to achieve her goals and has always been a good friend to everyone she worked with. She had really grown on them as a friend and as a true idol of 765 Pro. Junichirou had thought about everything his idols had just said, and eventually says,
Junichirou: "So, you are all that serious on not wanting to do tonight's performance without young Naohara-san?"
They all responded with a yes.
Junichirou: "Well then, perhaps there is a way for her to be in this concert."
Everyone had looked at their president in confusion, but Ritsuko, Kotori and the Producer could tell that he had a plan.
2 HOURS BEFORE CONCERT
Keiko was in her bedroom with the T.V. on, watching a program on the channel that would show the concert live in just two hours. She wanted to be up on that stage so badly, but thanks to the old man's dirty trick, he prevented her from doing just that. She felt defeated while sitting on her bed, watching and waiting for the concert to go live. The doorbell rings as she continues watching the program on T.V. A few minutes later, Yumi came into her bedroom and says,
Yumi: "Keiko, there's somebody at the door for you."
Keiko: "Really? Who is it, Yumi?"
Yumi: "Come downstairs and see. Oh, and you might wanna bring your flute with you."
Yumi went ahead down the stairs while Keiko picked up her flute and was right behind her. After she walked down the stairs and got to the front door, she was surprised to see the Producer there and wondered why he was there and not with the others getting ready for the concert.
Keiko: "Producer-san? What're you doing here?"
Daisuke: "He says that he needs you to do a job as an idol before the concert and if you're not there, then you can no longer be an idol for 765 Pro."
Keiko had no idea what kind of job they would need her to do that would be so urgent for her to be there, but she did want to remain as an idol and knew that her grandfather wouldn't let her not go to it.
Keiko: "Uh, okay. What is it?"
Producer: "I'll tell you all about on the way. If you want to come, then we'd better get moving."
Keiko: "Well, yeah, I do want to come. Grandpa, can I-"
Daisuke: "Of course. If this is something that has to be done, then I won't stand in your way. Now, if you're not back by the time Yumi and I have to leave to see 765 Pro's live performance, then, well, you know the rules."
Yumi: "Grandpa, are you sure that Keiko can't come to see it with us?"
Daisuke: "I only got two tickets, so, I'm afraid not, Yumi."
Not wanting to see her little sister sad, Keiko bent down to her level and says,
Keiko: "Hey, don't worry, I'll be fine. You just go with Grandpa and have a good time while you two are there. Everyone will be there and I can promise you that they will all put on a show that you'll never forget. And, also, remember to smile and be happy while you're there, okay?"
Yumi: "Okay, I will… but, Keiko?"
The younger redhead had taken off the necklace she was wearing and gives to her older sister.
Yumi: "I want you to hold on to this while we're there. That way, I'll know that you won't be completely alone."
Keiko was touched by her little sister's offer as she smiled and put it on around her neck and says,
Keiko: "Thanks, Yumi. I'll take good care of it."
Yumi: "I know you will."
The two then gave each other a hug, Keiko says goodbye to her family and leaves with the Producer in his car. After a few minutes of driving down the road, Keiko asks,
Keiko: "So, what is it that I have to do to remain as an idol, Producer-san?"
Producer: "Actually, you have a live performance to participate in."
Keiko: "Huh?! W-wait a minute, you mean to tell me that you're taking me to-"
Producer: "Exactly. It was all part of the Chief's plan for me to come pick you up at this exact minute and bring you to the stage."
Keiko: "But, I can't! I'm still suspended from 765 Pro, remember? If Grandpa sees me on that stage, then-"
Producer: "We are all aware of that, Keiko. But, everyone decided that we shouldn't do this without you. They believe that they owe it to you to be there for you and help you be in your very first concert with them. After all, you've always been a good friend to all of us and you've done so well in all of the work you've been given ever since we've recruited you into our agency."
Keiko: "…Really? Th-they said all that?"
Producer: "They sure did, Keiko. It's like I said to you before; you are a part of 765 Pro now, and it's always important to help each other out the best we can."
Keiko was speechless about what she just heard. The fact that everyone in 765 Pro wanted to do this concert with her and not without her, even though she was still suspended meant that they all really cared about her. In her mind, she felt that the pieces of her entire world were now slowly putting themselves back together and all she had to do now was to will them into the right direction. She looked at the necklace she was wearing as she held up the origami crane in her hand until she put on a determined look in her eyes and wrapped her fingers tightly around it and says,
Keiko: "All right then, Producer-san. If you guys need me in that concert, then I'll do it."
Producer: "Glad to hear it."
Keiko: "And, Producer-san, there's something that I'd like to do while I'm up on that stage…"
1 HOUR BEFORE CONCERT
Everyone was in the dressing room backstage, waiting for the arrival of Keiko and the Producer. Ritsuko was going over every performance each idol will be doing in tonight's show as they waited. After a few minutes had passed, the dressing room door had opened, they all looked to see who it was and it was exactly who they hoped it would be. The redhead was standing at the doorway with her flute in her hand while breathing heavily from running down the hall. The Producer came up behind her as she says,
Keiko: "Hey, everybody. I'm here."
All idols: "KEIKO!"
Everyone had cheerfully gathered around Keiko as they were glad to have their friend back, and just in time, too.
Ritsuko: "Welcome back, Keiko."
Keiko: "Thanks, Ritsuko-san."
Mami: "Kei-neechan, we missed you so much! It's been boring without you."
Ami: "Why didn't you ever call us and let us know how you were doing? We were thinking that you were being held prisoner in your own home."
Keiko: "Well, I wasn't, and I missed you all, too. I did want to call you all, but Grandpa had taken my cellphone. Didn't Makoto and Yukiho tell you that?"
Ami: "Yeah, they did, but you could've used someone else's phone to call us."
Keiko: "Uh, I don't know about that…"
Yayoi: "Keiko-san, did you eat the food that I made for you?"
Keiko: "Yeah, I did. It was really great. You're an awesome cook, Yayoi."
Yayoi: "Ha, thanks. I'm glad that you liked it."
Chihaya: "Keiko, is that your mother's necklace that you're wearing?"
Keiko: "Yeah, Yumi wanted me to hold on it for tonight so that she'll know that I won't be alone."
Yukiho: "I think it looks good on you, Keiko-chan."
Makoto: "Yeah, it sure does."
Keiko: "Thanks. Anyway, I really appreciate what you all did for me so that I could be here tonight."
Haruka: "After all the times you've been there for us, it's the least we could do."
Keiko: "Yeah, well, it really means a lot."
Ritsuko: "All right then, listen up, Keiko; you missed out on plenty of work and practice since your suspension, but if we work fast enough, we can get you caught up on everything that we'll be doing tonight, okay?"
Keiko: "I hear you. Let's do it!"
Everyone circled up in the room, placed their hands in the middle of the circle and said,
All idols: "765 Pro, fight-o!"
TO BE CONTINUED