Disclaimer: Michiru Kaioh and Haruka Tenoh belong to Naoko Takeuchi/Toei Animation. All other elements in this story belong to me. Kindly inform me if any kind of art/literature/stage play/video/inspiration was produced from this fic. I won't discourage as long as they are performed/exhibited for nonprofit purposes. As a matter of fact, I'd be glad to link unto your work in any way I can.
Chapter 04: Three Strikes, Michiru
I found my temple throbbing in what could have been a bright sunny start of the week. But the hotel managers had been throwing problems like jabs to my face that I could barely enjoy what would have been a good day for classical music composition. Have you heard of a totally unsynchronized orchestra - strings playing in vivace and winds in presto? Well, the morning briefings felt like it. No, they were not noisy nor were they loud. But they raised these issues that could not have been if not for their own inadvertence.
One concern was regarding the skippers. On the night before, a group of foreigners, identified as Asians, skipped out a dinner check over the weekend. The restaurant staff noticed at the nick of time then, called security. All was supposed to be saved if not for the HD's carelessness.
Listening to them was very frustrating. I didn't know whether they wanted a reaction from me or if they were telling such only to provoke. I was well aware that blowing up a fuse, no matter how I wanted to, was not the best approach for this sort.
"First and foremost, if you could have briefed your staff properly, these things could not have happened." I turned to the F&B Manager, the same person I abhorred eversince I heard his backstabbing. "Sometimes, I question your competency and dedication to your job."
"Ms. Kaioh, I have properly instructed and trained my staffs on these things. I rest on their creativity as to the execution of these instructions."
"And by this creativity you mean, it usually entails letting diners get free food?"
He didn't reply.
"Look, I don't know how you manage your men and I don't care. But I'm extremely disappointed that you wash your hands on the matter. Mr. Ito, it's the fault of your men. You are their direct superior. Your subordinates' fault is your fault and your fault is your fault alone. Do you get the picture? So, I want you to fix this matter up and let's get on to more important things." I flipped to the second page.
"Preparation for the Governor's Ball is according to plan." Yuu stated.
Each reported the progress of the preparations. Ito, the F&B Manager, lifelessly updated us the status of the food & wine to be served and the methods of serving them in the banquet. The Executive Housekeeper prepared the chart for the physical arrangement. The Events Manager was still scouting for the bands to perform during the ball. The plan was to make it hip and contemporary with enough percussion not to bore the guests. The Financial Controller brought the Income Auditor to present the flow for ordering and payment. Cash is the most risky to lose among assets and it is common knowledge in internal control that it should not be handled by anyone. Coupons and tickets were even suggested. I, too, felt the importance to spend more time in that aspect of planning because first of all, raising revenue was the overall objective.
Truth be told, the hotel's revenue was not in any way good, going into a nerve-wrecking downward spiral motion. The low percentage of occupancy for the rooms division was alarming and according to the report, it had been in a slump for the last few days. Might just have been a minor setback, but for Kaioh Crest, entering into this stage was supposed to be nearly impossible. And the fact that I was the one behind the wheel made such condition unacceptable.
It was already midday when the meeting finished. I had Kana joined me for lunch to have the other end of my table occupied and shoo the ass-kissers from ruining the sanctity of my afternoon meal. The opinions I absorbed all morning exhausted every part of my body and I could only smile amused at how Kana described my morning experience - 'a cirque du freak'.
By the time I reached the office, I was already fully energized.
"Ms. Kaioh, you have a visitor." Mari informed. "She's waiting inside."
Was I expecting someone? I recalled. My memory completely failed me.
"Haruka?" Partly a question which anyone would have thought coming from the unexpected visit when in fact, I was confirming if she was really that person or someone who just happened to have a strong resemblance of the blond I know. Faded blue jeans and thin white cotton blouse accentuating the chest that I didn't even know existed. And same wild sandy locks of hair. Who could blame me? If not in a suit, I saw her half-naked.
"Hey." She greeted.
"What are you doing here?"
I must have offended her of some sort judging from the frown. But she regained her unruffled face in a matter of seconds. "Rika? Music? Video?"
"Was that today?"
She nodded dully.
I stayed put, looking undisturbed for a second, when in fact I was arranging and rearranging the day's schedules in my head. I didn't want to disappoint anyone, especially Rika. She had that weird thing going on with Haruka so as her dear cousin, I felt obligated to deliver the deliverable to the deliveree. My mind mimicked the impossible words that Rika used sometimes.
"Give me a minute."
After leaving instructions to my assistant and my secretary, I walked with my blond girlfriend to the lobby. All personnel' eyes followed us, something I had accustomed to and dismissed them carelessly. It was not like I was doing something indecent in the middle of the hotel grounds for me to stress on those onlookers. As a matter of fact, we were walking probably a foot apart from each other yet there would always be indispensable nosey mousers which no pesticide can eradicate.
Only a matter of timing, I planned to eventually end the whole fake relationship thing soon. It wouldn't be fair for the both of us if it continued pointlessly.
"Ready?" Haruka opened the car's door instead of my driver.
I would surely miss Haruka's special service. Over and over again, it never failed to amaze me that unlike a guy I dated before who does to impress, she was naturally chivalrous as if doing those admirable things was already part of who she was.
It was total chaos in Rika's studio. At least that was what the director of the shoot thought. The Technical Staffs and PAs portrayed otherwise. They were bored out of their wits.
"Don't mind him." Rika whispered. "The actor who's playing my leading man got diarrhea. Oh, Hi Haruka!"
"Is he alright?" I ignored the silent exchanges between the two beside me as I looked at worriedly the hysterical director with the producer. They were screaming way behind schedule.
"So, the shoot's gonna be postponed, huh?" Haruka asked ignoring my question.
"We've finished the shoots on the different dance angles. All's left is the song's bridge which should be featuring me and the diarrhea guy in tight intimate shots." She said, casually.
"That's too bad."
"Can't they get a replacement?"
"I think they're calling the agency right now. But you know it's not fast food delivery." Rika now looked disappointed. "And you came all the way here to see the shoot."
"At least we get to see you." The amazing thing about Haruka was she had this kind of untarnished smile that completely mesmerizes anyone. I wondered if she was doing it intentionally but nevertheless, Rika's totally taking the bait.
"Wait a minute! I just have a brilliant idea." We both looked at my cousin. "Wait here."
She went and cut the tension between the director and producer. From where we were standing, Rika talked rather animatedly that I giggled at how cartoony she was, a one of a kind talent to be funny even if she never meant it to be. Haruka seemed amused as well.
"Are you sure you two are cousins?"
"We are not alike?" I giggled yet again at her baffled expression which was so cute like a confused kid.
"You two are nothing alike."
"We are cousins. Even siblings have different personalities."
Her features softened as her eyes lingered on me in a way she was deciphering my soul. As she locked me in a staring contest, I had no choice but to fight forth letting my chest to grow restless midway and expect my inevitable loss because slowly, I felt like melting right under her gaze.
"Good news!" Rika broke.
I exhaled saved.
The director and the producer were with her.
"Ms. Tenoh." They looked at my companion from head to toe, before a grinch-like smile appeared on both of them. "How do you like to be Rika's scene partner?"
"You can't be serious." I disapproved.
"You're a model, right?" He ignored me.
"Yes. She is. So, you need not worry a thing about her not being telegenic. As you can see, she has the face, a very... very sexy visage, and the hottest body ever." Rika completely sold her off!
"Yes. Absolutely." And they were sold! "What do you say, Ms. Tenoh? You can appear in music videos, right? You are not under any contract that states otherwise?"
Haruka looked at me, questioningly.
"Pretty please, Haruka?" My cousin pulled off a whine.
"Mmm... About that, you should ask Michiru."
"What, you two are on the stage of asking permission with each other now? When did that happen?"
Surely, Haruka didn't mean it like that.
"I don't think you have that restriction with Kaioh Crest." I replied professionally.
Come to think of it, does Haruka sign a contract with Kaioh Crest? Was she picked by Horabe or by the hotel?
"That's it! We have a go signal people." The producer exclaimed. "Ms. Tenoh, will you come with us a bit? We would like to talk to you about the compensation and of course, the choreography."
"Wait, I'm going to dance? Nobody said about a dance."
"No biggy, Haruka." Rika got a maniac grin. "Just the whole chorus."
"Michiru?" She pleaded.
I waved at her; my small sadistic self snickered inwardly to the kind of torture waiting for her. Haruka. Surprise. Dancing. She was in a whole lot of pinch. Thinking about it was sheer fun.
"You're going to regret this, Michiru Kaioh."
And my fake GF got whisked away into the furthermost corners by a pair of rabid TV people.
Kana's latte was far superb compared to the vending machine coffee. Rika and I took shelter in her dressing room while we heard Haruka being bootcamped to learn the dance moves in under an hour. I took the couch beside the doorway and Rika twirled in the seat infront of the vanity table.
"She likes you." Rika opened.
I laughed at the ridiculous accusation.
"The way she looks at you, Michiru. I say, she likes you a lot."
I shook my head. "Funny, I can say the exact same thing on how she looks at you."
"Nh. You have a point."
"You noticed it too, huh? She has this incredible charm around her that when she looks at you, bam! She strips you bare."
"Hm. The same thing you are doing to her?" I teased, my elbow on the armrest and my hand supporting my chin.
"Heh. Trying to flirt a bit. You don't mind, do you?"
"Of course not. It's only a matter of time before I will put on a break-off act of our fake relationship. Then, you can have her all to yourself. But I was not aware you bat for the other team."
"I don't. I'm just..." Her smile widened. "...curious."
I laughed. She was at it again... playing.
"Oh geez, Michiru. 'Don't tell me you are not at the very least curious about her? I mean, I'm sure you've been spending a hell lot of time with her. Don't you have the slightest bit of attraction? I mean, com'on! Beautiful, proper, and most of all drop dead sexy! I bet girls will gladly turn gay on her. I would."
"Aren't you 'gaying' on her already?"
She laughed loudly. "Does she have a girlfriend?"
"I wouldn't know."
"Bet you a hundred thousand she doesn't."
"Wow, you're mighty confident about it."
"Michiru, dear, if she does have a girlfriend, you've been long dead in a catfight. So there, she doesn't."
I stayed silent and cross my leg over a knee. My cup was beginning to grow cold.
"That means you still have a chance."
I looked up to her, quite surprised actually. I was sure I was not in any way attracted to Haruka and Rika who kept on pushing me with her groundless analysis just made me in a word, confused.
"I don't like her in that way."
"Hm?" There was no convincing to my frivolous cousin.
"Yeah." I assured. "No matter how Haruka can be dangerously beautiful, courtly, and gorgeously sexy-"
"Ahem." My ears perked up at the familiar voice breaking from my side, by the doorway.
I gulped. I knew who was standing right there beside me but my poor brain did not want to acknowledge the fact.
"Hi Haruka!" Rika greeted widely... tauntingly!
Oh. My. Goodness!
I was utterly red from who knows what... sheer embarrassment, anger, both? My hopeless cousin could have warned me beforehand. And then, I wouldn't have said all those... I just couldn't face her. I couldn't dare face her.
"Cool getup!" Rika pointed, or in that case, tricked me to turn to look at the tall woman.
"Hi!" Haruka greeted.
"Hi~" It was done sheepishly.
Rika was not lying when she said that Haruka's attire was cool, albeit she looked attractive as ever in dark brown suede pants with fitted black leather vest that exposed her toned arms and fastened her chest.
"Sneaky Haruka, you got to listen in to us, hm?" Rika jested.
"Umm... not... entirely." She faked scratching the back of her head, but chastely smiled at me, nonetheless.
"Hmm? So, what did you hear, exactly?"
"Rika, please..." I pleaded. My neck had twisted itself to hide my reddened face.
"Everything set?" A woman came in. "The lights got busted in our dressing room so we're moving here to finish her face. Do you mind, Ms. Rika?"
"Oh no, not at all."
Haruka settled in the vanity chair which Rika previously occupied while my cousin took the nearby stool and gaped over Haruka's side as makeup prepped her up.
"So Haruka, do you have a girlfriend?" Rika began the interview.
"Apparently, Michiru's my girlfriend."
"Oooh, not that, Haruka, I mean a real girlfriend."
"Then no." She answered as nonchalant as usual.
My goofy cousin ridiculously winked at me. "Why not?"
"Hmm... possibly attributed to mutual understanding."
"That both parties acknowledge the fact that a one night stand is more convenient than dealing the hassles of a relationship." It was casual and blunt.
Rika, on the other hand, totally forgot about me and pressed on, now looking more interested than before.
"Ooooohhh~ Very interesting, Haruka. So, you don't do relationships, huh?"
"I have just broken up with my boyfriend and I know exactly what you mean about dealing with relationships. You're exactly right. It was a mess! Practicality sake, why bother going into a relationship when you just want the sex, right?"
"Uh hm. As I said, mutual understanding."
"Mutual understanding. I love that term." My cousin purred shamelessly.
I stood and reasoned going to the Ladies' Room, when in fact, it sickened me to stay and listen to all that gibberish, not to mention I was equally irritated on Haruka answering each of Rika's questions religiously.
Being in that dressing room was stressful. I had to get my mind off of what I had heard in that dreadful place. As soon as I found an abandoned corner in that vast studio, I called Mari to check on any updates. Any kind of update was greatly wanted and appreciated. And of course, she had some, luckily. She said that a number of the press and media group had confirmed their attendance in the upcoming Governor's Ball. It was normal that these people would attend such grand event since all the influential people - politicians and businessmen alike would convened at the biggest social conference of the year. It would be a night of food, drinks, and music, but the main purpose was for guests to interact and transact. The media, on the other hand, already had a spread ready to feature this social event. If not about the event, then, it would be a feature about me hosting my first real banquet after my retirement from the music world. Those people always like to... artistically criticize the measure of one's skill in a different field. No wonder they confirmed earlier than we expected.
My sole tapped impatiently for a span of several minutes after I was offered and seated in a director's chair. I watched the different levels of PAs and technical staffs assemble, disassemble, position, run, walk, sprint, then a young woman with a clipboard on hand leant on the wall and slept with her shades on. It was like watching paint dry.
Another few more agonizing minutes passed before it finally started. Haruka appeared, smug in her leather vest. She stayed put while the director gave one last set of instructions before all the other dancers assembled beside and behind, letting her absorb all the spotlight.
My mind was mischievously smiling at the thought of making Haruka go through these surprises. A feat I was sadistically proud to do. She must have been cursing under her breath with her predicament but sadly couldn't say it directly to my face because we were not in that friendship stage where she could easily say 'no' to any circumstance I happened to drag her in, accident or no accident.
I braced myself as the director called for silence in the room, then, Rika's music played halfway to the middle. No matter how unrealistically silly my cousin was, her singing voice was far from her personality. It was mature, sensual, and overwhelming to hear. The song's a crossover between hiphop and pop, and when the chorus came, Haruka and all the other dancers did the choreography. I could only raise my brows.
"She's awesome, yeah?" The woman I saw earlier who I remembered was the producer came at my side and declared the first thing that was on my mind. "Your girlfriend's a pro and very cool. She learned the steps in just a few minutes."
She was right. In the midst of my confusion, I asked no one. Where in the world did Haruka learn to move like that? I was at a loss for words. Haruka was dancing hip hop. Being vaguely familiar of the dance genre, I could at least identify that she was locking and popping in exquisite quality and perfectly hitting it hard and hitting it soft at all the right highs and lows.
"We're so lucky that both of you came to see Ms. Saeme's shoot. Haruka's a great help. I hope you're not bored. People say that watching shoots like this is like watching paint dry."
"No, not at all." With Haruka dancing like that, who ever could get bored?
"That's good! I'm happy to hear that. We have buffet at the side, Ms. Kaioh. Feel free to grab anything you want. Unfortunately, the vending here sucks in terms of coffee. But I can have the PA get you an espresso. It's just down the block. Will that be alright?"
"That would be lovely."
She disappeared as magically as she appeared and I was left there to gawk at my new discovery. The routine spanned in the chorus section and was recorded over and over again, each time taken at different pans and angles. And for each take, my fake girlfriend continued to impress a step up.
I regained my breathing when the director called for a break and for the first time in my life, I experienced what can only be described as 'starstruck'. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be in the other end of the spectrum, gaping at some performance when at several points in my life, I was used to being the one objectified to. Being in an excruciating distance away from the whole cast and crew, my eyes silently followed Haruka pacing and not long, Rika joined in. They talked for awhile, both laughed at a joke perhaps which I considered unnecessary by the way, before the director gave them directions on which they listened in utter seriousness. Watching them was a bit frustrating. It made me feel so left out. I diverted my attention to a couple of men carrying over a chaise lounge to the front of the green screen. After, I observed disinterestedly the set as the lightings and camera repositioned at point blank on stage. I continued doing it as if it was in itself, my duty; anything to take my mind away from seeing a giggling Rika slapping in jest at Haruka's arm.
I was already beginning to grow anxious on waiting. So when the director called again to start the next phase of the shoot, I was super relieved. Rika and Haruka could finally dislodge from their annoying chattering and finish the whole thing.
They positioned themselves near the chaise lounge just in time the song was cued. Both listened attentively and as soon as the music approached the end of the second verse, they closed their gaps. Slowly, Rika's hands began to move across Haruka's body, landing first on the arms, then to her chest, running to her neck, all the way up, squeezing a handful of hair, before they lingered more on tracing her cheekbones, her lips. Their bodies pressed. My brows knitted on its own as I felt my amusement leaving me. Then my jaw dropped when Haruka reciprocated equally, mimicking all my cousin's actions. If that was not weird in itself, the director was continually instructing them in a quarter of a minute intervals. Increasing with the tempo, their pelvis rocked, limbs locked, and I completely froze before I stood on my toes when Haruka lifted Rika effortlessly like an empty carton box as she let her legs wrapped themselves around my girlfriend's waist and my cousin, in all her shameless glory, gyrated matching Haruka's movement with the same exact rhythm.
My disconcerted heart erratically pulsed, not knowing what to make up of the whole scene. I tried my best to look collected while my mind fidgeted out of my head with both guilt and embarrassment plaguing what was left of my clouded rationality. I held my breath when Haruka lowered my cousin on the lounge, repeatedly moved her hips, and my imagination ran wild in a matter of seconds because in all honesty, Haruka's body looked like she was penetrating my cousin over and over again like how a man would in the most stimulating way he could attack a woman; her eyes closed, face brought solemnly in a prayer, and Rika continued to move sensually with it.
Haruka was about to dive in again when I yelped quite loudly pulling the music into a screeching stop. All eyes turned to me. It was too hot. Holy smokin' hot.
"I'm very sorry, Ms. Kaioh. I am so sorry."
The PA unbelievably spilled the espresso all over me.
Thank you, Haruka. Good job on distracting the PA and scalding me alive.
One thing for certain, I was not in my best mood, and no doubt I could easily chew that girl and spit her out right then and there at that very moment. I sneered at her and held my tongue, inwardly counting my patience; my frustrations piling up a record high. The girl alternately bowed and wiped my dress altogether, something I found to be completely pointless, if you ask me.
"What's going on here?" The producer came. My dress already told the story. "I am so very sorry, Ms. Kaioh. Are you alright? Are you burnt?"
"Michiru?" A flustered Rika on which I ignored completely as I pretended to be too preoccupied with my drenched chests, examined my predicament. "Ooohhh~ what a total disaster."
"Are you alright?" Haruka was about to grab my bust when she retracted at a realization of the body part.
I nodded. "The coffee was really hot. I think only my top's ruined."
Everyone turned to my chest. It became suddenly humiliating with the mess.
"I'll talk to you later." The producer reprimanded the PA who scatted quickly when more and more people came to my rescue. "I am so sorry, Ms. Kaioh. Don't worry. We can get you a change of clothes. Our wardrobe has a large collection, a lot still not ever worn. I'm sure all of them fit you very fine."
I looked at my trashed white suit and battled on accepting the producer's offer.
"We'll have it cleaned and deliver it to your office first thing in the morning. You don't need to worry a thing. For the meantime..." The producer beckoned for more assistance when Rika held me just in time.
"C'mon, Michi. I'll help you change."
"But you're not done with the shoot..."
"Nah, that's a wrap for today. I say Mr. Kudou was able to take in more shots than planned."
"I'll just go change in the other room. You, girls, can go ahead. I'll follow later." A worried Haruka peeled away from us.
I locked our dressing room door the moment we got inside. I didn't want to have a repeat incident of what happened earlier. Being shaken out of my stupor twice on that day - first with Haruka walking in on our private conversation, and now that, bathe in hot espresso; I took off my clothes, defeatedly. Remembering it closely, it was in fact a macchiato and existing rightfully to its name, it made a lasting impression on the front of my white pinstripe dress suit.
Rika disappeared into the room's closet. My mind recalled what I disrupted or achieved-depending on how you look at it. The macchiato might have been a blessing in disguise after all.
"You sure that was a wrap?" I called.
"Of course. Don't tell me you still want to watch more of those."
"You and Haruka looked rather comfy. You both seemed to enjoy it... a lot."
She was laughing in amusement. I wasn't.
"Haruka's hot, yes?" She appeared with a black sheath dress void of straps, in both hands.
I eased liking the outfit she picked for me.
"Oh, the stain already seeped through. I'm getting you a new bra. Wait here." She disappeared back unto the closet where she continued to converse with me rather loudly; I hoped nobody heard us outside. "She was unbelievable, Mich. She got me so turned on, I couldn't think of anything anymore."
I remembered the scene at an instant and quickly dismissed it.
"And did you see her lift me up? I was so..."
"I never thought your song would be that graphic. Who thought of that concept?"
"Oh~ the bridge's the only provocative part. It's only going to be a series of tight shots."
"I say it was a little bit..." I mumbled. "...pornographic."
"What? What did you say?"
"I said, don't you think you and Haruka went a little overboard back there?"
"It's only fanservice, Michi." She appeared with lingerie enclosed in a sealed plastic. "It's not Victoria Secret. But it should be fine for you. We keep these things here for emergency purposes."
I hid behind a rack of clothes and put the strapless underwear on. The bust size was smaller, but it should temporarily hold until I return to my condo.
"The public is hedonistic. Pleasure matters more. I already have the sound. The video is there to titillate them into watching it. You know how the audience can be - the more scandalous, the better, right?"
I absolutely do not agree with that notion.
"You are not buying it, are you?" She smirked. "Angst and sacrifices, emotions... all those crap. They are things of the past. Today, people want to be pleased; as long as they're happy, then all is well. Open your eyes. Nowadays, the new generation wants to see more sex. That's what everyone's doing."
I cleared my throat and went to put on the dress finding a perfect fit.
"And Haruka's giving them a good run of their money."
As soon as she mentioned her, my mind automatically replayed in fragmented images all of the blond's earlier activities. Remembering them became exhausting as it was daunting.
"You two look good together."
"You think so? I'm so happy."
"Excuse me?" Two knocks. "Everybody decent?"
"Come in, Haruka."
"Hey." She turned to me.
"How's your umm... skin?"
"I'm fine. My suit's not. It stained pretty badly."
"They'll handle the cleaners, right?"
"You look good in that dress, by the way."
"How did this happen?"
"Apparently, the girl bringing in my macchiato was so smitten with your performance that her mind completely blew up so I got coffee-bashed." I pursed.
"Michi, look, Haruka's all red."
"The performance... it was only an act."
Only an act, she said. But, it totally didn't feel like it.
"Well, you two did good."
"What do you mean good? We were hot! Right, Haruka?"
"Uh. I don't know."
"Anyway, congratulations! Job well done. You dance pretty well, too. Is there something I need to know more about you? Or are you just going to keep on throwing in surprises? You don't happen to be an acrobat, are you?"
"Sorry to disappoint you, I'm not." She chuckled. "It was a team effort. Rika was a pro too."
"Home run, Haruka! Home run!"
I had no idea what she meant by that.
"The director said to do it like a man and woman in love." Haruka broke the silence that was plaguing between us eversince we left Rika in the set to call it a day.
Walking back to the lobby seemed longer, dragged by the heavy atmosphere since that day's experience successfully drained the excitement I had earlier - talked about extreme peaks and troughs.
Noticing my disinterest, she continued further. "He said that I had to act like a man because an intimate scene between two women would be too racy for the public's taste. There's already the sexual tension, so making Rika's partner a woman would be overkill, he said. Can you believe it? He even added that only two kinds of people would probably take interest in that kind of video: the honest gay women and the men who get off watching two women getting on."
"I see." I said, absently; my mind, visualizing the paperwork left, stacked like a pile of barricaded bricks back in my office.
"You didn't feel uncomfortable about it, did you?"
"I was horrified, to be honest."
"I would never have known." My tone? Sarcastic.
Silence. Two steps, three steps, four, five.
"I was just trying to help... your cousin."
"You don't have to explain, Haruka. It was all made for art sake. I understand."
"Why are you apologizing?"
"Well, because... you know... it must have been pretty uncomfortable for you."
"It wasn't, OK? 'Don't treat me like I'm some sort of naive little girl, Haruka. I am not."
She fell silent and gave me my space. I glanced under my lids and saw her hands tucked inside her pants' pockets. Her breasts, protruding underneath her thin shirt, left me in awe, wondering on where they went during the whole shoot. Worse was that her unruffled expression made me feel like I was the antagonist in the scenario. I had already said it. I was not in my best mood. I did not feel like conversing. Do you get those terrible PMS mood swings? Mine was supposed to have finished two weeks prior, yet the current pulsing in my head and my heavy heart was ten times worse.
Haruka opened the lobby door for me and more surprises came. There were a number of fans camping at the foot of the stairs.
"Guys, look, its Michiru Kaioh!"
"What is she doing here?"
Must be the fans that wait outside a studio for any celebrity appearance.
"Ms. Kaioh! Here! This way!" There were camera flashes.
"Shake my hand, Ms. Kaioh!"
"Can we get an autograph?"
"Ms. Kaioh, why did you retire? Will you still participate in mini concerts?"
"Sign my shirt!"
"Sign my cap!"
"Sign my head!"
The security guard blocked the mob that was about to get me.
My smile automatically positioned itself and stayed put in its best behavior among fans. I grabbed a couple of sheets for autographs and this time, I smirked for real, recalling my autograph signature. It had been so long since I was attacked by a set of fans. For the past weeks, Crest's intimidating managers were the ones attacking me. I shook their hands and they bowed respectfully. More camera flashes appeared and I posed when suddenly, something snapped. My eyes widened in disbelief. Of all the worse things that could happen, it happened in perfect timing. My bra snapped! I stayed still, unmoving. My mind quickly analyzed the whole situation in a split second. I got a pair of strapless brassieres underneath my strapless sheath. If I continued to move, only one of two things could happen. One, nothing out of the ordinary would occur and my bra would get tightly fasten by my fitted sheath dress, hopefully. Or two, my bra would come off and slid down underneath me to settle on my stomach or worse, dropped all the way to the floor, mercilessly. I paused. My smile beginning to grow crooked with my thoughts.
Just when I was about to cross my arms Haruka stepped closer, pressed her body tightly at my side and wrap her arm around me to hold up the underwear from beneath my breast. "I'm sorry, guys. Michiru forgot something inside. We'll be back later." She winked.
As normal as ever, she maneuvered me securely back to the building, never letting go, and I responded by wrapping my own arm around her waist. My body fitted perfectly against her tall frame.
"Who was that?"
"Is that her boyfriend?"
"No, it was a girl."
"Bodyguard? Bestfriend? Girlfriend?"
The voices faded before the door shut.
In silence, we strode casually to the toilet room.
"Are you kidding me?" was my immediate cry as I headed direct to the mirror.
She checked the empty cubicles before locking the door.
I lifted my hair and examined my back. It appeared to be perfectly fine but I knew exactly the real situation at hand. The band had completely snapped off. It felt so loose.
I dove into one of the stalls and pulled the piece of clothing from my chest. I frowned seeing the extent of the damage and argued to no one on the possibility that I could just go bra-less which I know was utterly stupid. I wondered if it was one of Rika's pranks. But no matter how I looked at it, it could only be classified as one of those unfortunate accidents. It was depressing.
"Come out here. I have a pin."
"Do you really need to hear it twice?"
"'Sorry." My huge sigh of relief escaped from my lips. "Give me a sec." I got confused at first on what to do with my underwear in hand.
"Come out here so that I can pin it for you. Or if you can do it yourself, then that's fine with me."
"You don't happen to be shy, are you?" She chuckled. "We're both women."
I rolled my eyes. "Alright. I'm coming out. Just wait a sec." I inserted back the thing to cup my breasts and positioned itself so that it would be ready for pinning.
I saw Haruka grinning at me, obviously enjoying the ridiculousness of my circumstance. She presented me a safety pin which I examined briefly before I turned my back on her. I placed my hair to my front and leant forward, my palms resting on the edge of the sink.
From the mirror, I watched her eyes survey my back, possibly searching a way on how to approach the problem. Gingerly, she unzipped me and pulled on the opposite ends of my bra. My lips curved instinctively at the opportunity. "You know… for someone who had just made love to my cousin in front of twenty people, you seem quite nervous fixing my bra." Honestly? No, she did not look the very least nervous. She was being meticulous.
Her eyes smiled, twinkling with mirth. She caught the jest, but continued to concentrate on fixing the thing.
I giggled at the silence. "You don't happen to be shy, are you? We're both women." I mocked her words.
"Of course not." She leant forward and pressed her tender front against my back before she crept unto my ear. "Stay still or I won't be able to insert this thing in."
I laughed off the unfamiliar feeling that began to settle at the pit of my stomach when her sexily induced voice conjured a more intriguing meaning behind the words. "You talk dirty."
She shrugged unfazed, too confident too dangerous. "Like you said, you are not some naive little girl. No need to hold back, right?"
"There, you're done." I gently tapped the bare shoulder and zipped her up. The feeling of her creamy skin lingered on my fingers.
I was holding my breath throughout the whole pinning ordeal. I would be too much of a hypocrite if I say that I didn't admire her, even a little. She was the epitome of both grace and beauty and my body who had already gotten a short work out earlier from the scene with Rika was ever so sensitive of this truth. Yes, no, and yes. Yes, what happened with Rika was all an act and no, I was not a pro not to feel anything. Yes, I was aroused. And my guilt completely ate me up of the fact that I couldn't help but think of Michiru while doing it.
So when I was actually there, inches away from caressing her skin, both my mind and body was churning into oblivion. Michiru obviously saw through it and teased me, heartlessly. I tried my hardest to look indifferent that I just hoped I successfully pulled it off.
She straightened herself and praised my work in the mirror. She adjusted her dress one more time before she turned and faced me. "So, you always carry a safety pin with you?"
I got my wallet and let her see two more pins, a needle, and black & white threads.
"I carry them around in case my fake girlfriend's bra breaks off on her."
She eased. "It was embarrassing. Please don't remind me." She was not kidding. Her cheeks grew shades of red.
"How did you know that my bra gave in?'
"Woman's intuition perhaps?" I winked. I couldn't say I saw her breasts expanding underneath her dress. I wouldn't dare admit that I had been pretty well attentive about them eversince I saw her in a tank top. "Let's use the back exit next time."
I was about to lead on when my phone rang. I checked the ID. It was her. She rarely called me at that time of day. I signaled a finger to Michiru to wait a sec before I took refuge in a corner near the hand dryer. I hushed my voice, careful not to let Michiru in of the private conversation.
"Hey sweetheart, everything's alright?" I listened in to her whine. "Yes, I'm already done. I'll be there before you know it." I chuckled on the sweet words. "I miss you too."
I glanced at my companion who was looking at herself in the mirror but surely she was carefully listening in to the conversation. The room was awfully quiet. Who couldn't?
"Look, I have to go."
She asked me my permission.
"Asami, you know exactly how I feel about Pierre staying over."
She sounded disappointed.
"OK. I really have to go now. Yes."
I muffled my voice with my hand. "I love you, too."
She, then, hung up.
I tucked the device back to my pocket. "What?"
Her lips curved rather sensually. She looked amused. "I never thought you would be so much of a womanizer."
"There you go. And you even said you don't have a girlfriend."
I smiled and shrugged.
"So, Asami will just be another one night stand? And oh my goodness, there's Pierre. Haruka, are you living in the wild side?" Her bad acting was terrible that I could just laugh all over it.
She was giggling as well.
I collected myself and gaped at her laughing face. She was so stunning it's like a sin not to touch her. "Are you jealous?"
"No~ I don't fancy the wild side, Haruka."
I was hoping she'd say, yes.
"Right~ because you and your cousin like to only sham it up by using a woman to take the role of your lover." I sighed, in fake desperation. "If you won't take a trip to the wild side, how would you know that you're not into it?"
"Nnh. It's your loss." I smirked.
"I'm going away for a few days." I changed topic before everything got out of hand.
"Uh hm. In case you're going to call me, I'll probably be unreachable. But I can receive e-mails."
"I'll be back for the reunion. You're going, right?"
"Hm? So you want to take me then?"
"You said you want to come?"
"I don't want to come if you don't want me to come."
"I want you to come." My brow twitching at how I meant it in every meaning there was to it.
"Very well, I'll come with you." She smiled victoriously leaving me perturbed on whether she knew exactly the level of excruciation she was giving me.
AN: I had so much fun writing this. I hope you found it funny too. I'm going to be so embarrassed if it turned out that I was the only one laughing. Humor is not really my forte. But I thought that I needed to write this as a treat for you guys especially those who have been very responsive with this story. I am very grateful.
This is the longest chapter yet for BW and oh joy! Phew! Finally, I can go hibernate. Oh right, responses… hmm… let me see. Since a lot was asking about Haruka's caller, so I featured her again in the above chapter. Right, she's Asami. Though I don't think giving the name helps though. Hahaha. No, I'm not teasing you. I'm just….umm…torturing you. Whack! Just kidding! Hehe. Since a lot are really curious, I am thinking of letting you know way ahead than Michiru though the original plan is to let you know together with Michiru, but, I don't know, do you want to know before Michiru knows or at the same time with Michiru? I'm putting a voting pole in my blog in case you want to vote on that one.
Chapter 3 side note: To HelloMiho: OMG. It was pure coincidence that I entitled my chapter 3 akin to your pen name. I did not notice until I scan my stats page and saw your name and woah~ I had named unconsciously a chapter after you (Hello Aunt Miho). The original title was Meet Aunt Miho but I thought that I already used "meet" in the first chap so why not, Hello. Maybe my mind remembered your name from my email notifications and reflexively suggested it. : ) But I'm pretty sure you are nothing like Aunt Miho, I bet you're one sweet girl.
Icy-Windbreeze: Chapter 4 did reveal something... a little (personality & physically).
jadedlilgirl: Oh I guarantee there will be rivalries (in the future). You're right, I think I made Haruka a bit hot in this story. Hmm, now I'm working how to make her sizzle. lol
xXxsailorFanxXx: How I wish I can tell you but I'll be spoiling the story. I'll answer any question except that. :D But I'll take note on the 'not married' thing, gotcha! What will you do if I'll make her married? Oh my, I sometimes have this twisted sadistic side to do the unspeakable. :p
Uli: That's a lot of dews! WoW! lol. Sorry, I wasn't able to post early. Chapter 4 is quite long so it took some time to clean up the chap. I hope it's worth it though. :)
Newt Salamander: Oooh- ok, let's read it and we'll see. Hehe.
ladyYamato09: You can calm down a bit. Haruka said she doesn't have a girlfriend. So, breathe in, breathe out... are you relaxed now? Hehe. Rika's not pushy (so far). What do you think?
Electra Red: To tell you the truth, I have no idea who's falling for who right now. Haha. Honestly! I'm not faking this. I'm still observing who's going to fall first.
Hunter007: Hey! It's been awhile. Welcome aboard! First time seeing you in this story. Good thing you decided to check this out. Haruka has secrets. That I can tell you. But of course, Haruka's past will be slowly revealed next chapter.
James Birdsong: Thank you. Your comment is much appreciated.
papapapuffy: Oh dear, I wonder when I can write that. :D
pewpewmew: I would do the same thing as you about Miho. I would walk out on her too. But then I do have a relative who's like her and of course, it would be too rude to walk out on a relative so I had to stay and just swallow the whole thing. So, you can say that I switched my attitude with HxM. Mine is, relative: don't walk out, non-relative: walk out. I need Rika to be around Haruka & Michiru, for several reasons with number 1, to have the whole shoot possible and then, you have read what happened in the studio. So yeah, ahem, without Rika, all of the above won't be possible. I recognized the importance of side characters back when I was writing Within These Belts and found out that there's more that can be done to the story with them. And now, I'm trying to expand my story a bit. The parents know something, that for sure. Remember chapter 2? hehe.
OK. I don't know about Michiru more than you do, so I don't know if Michiru is starting to fall in love or maybe just being friendly or guilty toward Haruka so that's why the extra... um... treatment? I'm not sure too. Because some people tend to be endearing to the person whom she feels she owes something. But I don't know about Michiru's actions on this one. I'm confused myself. hehe.
Oohh- do tell, who's the mystery caller? Where is the story going? But I guess you won't tell me, because I might change the whole plot just so that you won't hit the 'jackpot'. hehe. :p
Thank you. I soooo love lengthy reviews. It's empowering!
petiyaka: Right on- the ones who know Haruka and Michiru know who they are. Haruka, a playgirl? You have to be the judge of that. Haruka's story's in the succeeding chapters.
Alexia: Thanks. Haruka said she doesn't have a girlfriend. Just want to put a little perverted thought there when I realized what I was writing and decided to have a play on the words. I can't help myself. hehe.
Jay: Chapter 4 is way more humorous (I hope).
Vientocortante: You know what, out of all reviewers out there, you're the only one who noticed Aya. Kudos to you! Aya is one of the important characters in this story. ;) Congratulations for picking up the small 3-letter word. So as a reward, let me tell you a little bit of information. Chapter 5 title is "Aya and Haruka". As for the million dollar question, I'm doing a voting poll when to reveal it. :D
AleWindT: Miho is the unwanted character who just have to be in the story. ;) Hehe. I like Haruka's personality but good thing you mentioned it coz I just remembered to write something more about Haruka. Haruka doesn't have a girlfriend. Now, that's a breather (same as Rika's reaction?). OK, I'm a bit confused about your last question. hehe.
Keeper Aki: Oh my, I actually laughed when you said it's Haruka's mom. But I'm still going to keep mum about it (no matter how I wanted to tell you now). You have a wild guess. I'm going to take note of it. No more going back on your guess, OK? That's already locked down. hehe. :p
Samaka: Dear Samaka, the above chapter is the chapter I was writing weeks ago while reading your first two reviews. So, what do you think? Did your review pay off? Hehe.
It's good to know that you're acknowledging the importance of reviews as one way of supporting the writers. Although I'm guilty of doing hit & run with probably a hundred of stories here in ff; ok, I'm ashamed right now. But that's because I'm not really good with words. I don't express myself very well so I suck at giving reviews. So, I'm happy that you're there to do the job in behalf of us who cannot leave a decent review to writers.
I understand about having different perspectives for every writer. And some concepts or premises have been recycled over and over again, yet, they all lead to different events with different conflicts. The good thing here is that when one can't get over a particular story, he/she can continue to read another 'similar' story and satiate that craving.
Please, don't worry about review lengths. I like reading what you think. I'll 'see' you around too.
dcouran: Yeah, I noticed din na maraming pinoy dito. Good to know you're one. ;)
shad: Thank you very much for the compliment. I don't know if this is skill or talent but the truth is that before coming up with this story, I thought a lot about it, like really really deeply thought about it coz there are already a lot of HxM fanfiction out here so I don't know how to write a unique/interesting one. And the fact that I kinda tackled almost all genre on my previous stories, I thought I wouldn't write another HxM fanfic again. But then I realized that there's still one story I want to share - a story inspired by my personal experience with an added fanfic twist.
Nightfall5029: Thanks. I'm glad a strong Michiru came across. I truly meant her to be such. You're lucky! I've just finished chapter 4. Hot straight from the oven! Enjoy!