Hear My Song!
Plans and Desires
Rin was fighting a headache that commanded her to ignore everything and just stay in bed. She had gotten way too carried away last night with Teto. She felt sore but satisfied. It had been a while since she'd felt that good.
Teto was already gone and a short look at the clock next to the bed made it pretty clear why—it was almost noon. School was still out because of vacation, but Teto had to work. Rin sat up and almost fell forward, not used to the extra weight on her chest.
She hadn't had a chance to actually get used to them. Minutes after she'd put them on, she'd landed in bed with Teto. Rin was no expert on the matter, but what they'd done last night must have been what people called great sex. Yet, Rin was a little frightened of Teto.
It was almost like she had read Rin's mind. Her complex about her breasts. Giving the pads to her. Keeping her own shirt on so Rin wouldn't feel singled out. The girl had frighteningly good insight. It was a bit creepy. But Rin couldn't very well complain.
She stood up and looked for her clothes, but Rin couldn't find them. Not even her panties. The top Rin was wearing was sweaty and smelled, so she had to get rid of it. There was no message or note from Teto, but judging from the events the day before, the red-haired girl likely wouldn't mind if Rin borrowed some clothes.
The only things that both fit and were clean were, in order of how Rin put them on: a pair of black panties, a very long dark blue jean skirt, and a black t-shirt with some obscure printing on the front. Her shoes had vanished into the chaos of the room somewhere, likely to be never found again.
Rin looked at herself in the mirror. She had never been more satisfied with her figure than she was now. She jumped in the air just a little and watched as the breasts bounced just like real ones. Rin couldn't wait to show them off. Only her brother, Miku and her family, and Luka would know right away.
Rin just watched herself in the mirror as she paced the length of the room. She was a little in love with herself. What would she do now? Go downstairs and check if Teto was busy? Go home and harass Len a little? Wander around the town?
She wanted to go to the pool, but that brought a few problems with it. Namely, how could she choose a swimsuit that would conceal her…enhancements? "I'll just ask Teto later."
Rin looked for some kind of shoes to wear, but the only thing she could find in the chaos was a pair of sandals.
Rin left the small apartment and walked down the stairs in the back of the coffee shop, where she ran ran right into Ritsu, who gave her an amused look.
"I was wondering where they went." The waitress picked up a fresh tray, put two cups of coffee on it and headed out. "Just keep them," she said. "I would've thrown them away at some point."
Ritsu was definitely not going to screw with the girl. Teto would make mincemeat out of her. And it was the truth anyway. Ritsu had only found out by coincidence about it.
Following Ritsu, the blond girl sat down at a table and leaned back. She could already feel a few stares from other customers. She oh-so-enjoyed the attention. Nobody gave a shit about some flat-chested tomboy, but everyone looked at a teenage girl with huge breasts. Looked and lusted.
She was so busy wallowing in the attention she was getting that Rin didn't notice two people she knew sitting at the table behind her. It was Neru and Haku, Miku's cousins, taking a break from just sitting around at home all the time.
"Miku hasn't been coming home much lately." Haku was not as depressed as usual, enjoying her time with Neru. It wasn't often that they went out together.
"Doesn't surprise me, really. If you lived on your own, I'd stay at your place all the time too." Neru took a sip of her coffee and looked past Haku. She wasn't sure what Rin was doing, but she certainly was attracting attention.
Haku blushed a little from Neru's words and turned her cup in her hands, a little restless. She wasn't used to just sitting in a coffee shop and spending a morning doing nothing but relaxing. Haku had been dragged out of her room two hours ago by Neru and only been told that they were going out. She was still extremely shy around people she didn't know, and if not for Neru's presence, she'd have left long ago.
"Neru, you said we were going somewhere. Did you mean here?"
"No, I'm going to buy a new swimsuit. I'm sick of my old one. You need a new one too." Neru grinned and finished her cup of coffee. "Finish up, I'll pay."
Neru got up and walked away from the table in the direction of the register. As she did she spied over shoulder and got a good look at Rin. The cause of all the attention was obvious. The previously flat-as-a-board girl had grown enormous breasts. Not as big as Haku's, but then again, Haku was a lot taller than Rin and almost twice her age.
They had to be fake, but they looked real. But they had to be fake. Neru wasn't sure if she was supposed to be jealous or if she should just pity the girl. When she got to the register, a red-haired girl handed her the bill and Neru paid promptly.
Haku was already waiting for her at the door. Neru grabbed the hand of the tall woman and the two left the coffee shop. They were barely five steps outside when Neru started talking about Rin. "The girl from next door, you know, the girl of the Kagamine twins. Remember her?"
Haku quickly nodded. She was a wild tomboy who sometimes came over with her brother to see Miku. Short, blond hair, flat as a board, and a bit on the annoying side. That was Haku's full impression of Rin.
"She was there in the shop, sitting around with boobs almost the size of yours. She was still flat a couple days ago, so they've got to be fake. I wonder what's going on in her head." Neru wasn't anywhere near well endowed either, but it didn't bother her so much that she would wear fakes.
"Maybe she was bullied because of it?" Haku knew from firsthand experience that being bullied was a terrible thing. When she was in eighth grade, she towered over most guys and looked much more womanly than any other girl in the school by far, which made her the object of their envy and jealousy.
"Someone like her? Can't imagine it. Well, it's none of our business anyway. She looked a bit awkward, but that's because I know her as flat-chested girl. I guess for someone who doesn't know her, it looks pretty hot. Doesn't come close to natural ones like yours, though." Neru smirked and watched Haku blush again. It was so much fun to tease her a little. The woman ought be really confident about her body but for some reason she wasn't.
"Don't even think for one second I'm going to let you buy a one-piece swimsuit," Neru said. "You've got a nice body so you'll have to show it off a little. Even if it's only for me."
Haku needed some self-esteem. Neru didn't want her sister to spend the rest of her life depressed and afraid of others.
The white-haired woman was trying to raise objections, but knew it was pointless. "You think I look nice?" Haku couldn't remember the last time someone had told her that.
"Compared to me, you look like a model. You're tall, you have fair skin, big breasts, long legs, a nice butt. If I put you into a nice dress and took you to a club, they'd be all over you." Neru rolled her eyes and accelerated her walk a little. "Have some confidence in yourself, sis."
As they took a left turn and followed the street, the unlikely pair came across a traveling painter. He sat at the edge of the walkway with a canvas in front of him. A sign said "Pencil Portrait—500 Yen."
Neru almost shoved Haku onto the plain stool in front and paid the artist. Haku looked at her sister with desperate eyes, but she only earned a gleeful smile.
"Sit still." Neru walked behind the artist, who stared at Haku a little, trying to decide how to draw her. "Smile," she ordered. She then put her index fingers to the corners of her mouth and lifted them up. The gesture made her sister smile indeed.
"How long is this gonna take?" Neru wasn't the most patient person in the world, but she really wanted to do this for Haku and herself.
The artist was a man in his twenties. "Fifteen, maybe twenty minutes usually. Your friend is really beautiful, so it could take a little more than that."
"You heard him. Don't move, Haku, and don't worry. I won't go anywhere." Neru smiled at her sister, who seemed very embarrassed.
Five minutes passed. Neru had gotten bored watching the artist, so she played with her cell phone.
"Getting a portrait?"
Neru didn't recognize the voice at first, but a short look made her remember. Meiko, the employee of a liquor shop not too far from their apartment, had shown up. Haku wanted to say hello, but she wasn't allowed to move.
"I thought it would be nice." Neru had never really just talked to Meiko before, and for a second she didn't know what to say until she noticed the bags Meiko was carrying. "Going shopping?"
By coincidence, Neru also noticed a pile of bags spread all over a nearby bench. A blue head of hair poked out of the pile of bags. "Or going on a date?"
"Kind of both, I guess. I won fifty thousand yen in a lottery, so I'm getting some new stuff. He's coming along." Meiko pointed at the bench, and Kaito raised his arm as a sign he was still alive. Neru thought that Meiko was as cruel as ever. Awkward silence fell between the two.
Kaito finally packed up and joined them. "Is Miku out with Luka?" he asked. "I haven't seen them in a while. Their faces are all over TV and the city right now." Not many fads passed without Kaito knowing about them.
"I guess so. She spends most of her days at her apartment since some numbskull posted her address on a blog. We get reporters at home every day. It's such a damn pain to get them to leave." Neru shrugged and sighed. The situation was becoming really tiresome. "Are you okay not minding your shop this time of the day?"
"I have to wait until I get my shipment tomorrow. Meiko works part-time at my place now, so we're both free." Kaito put down a few of the bigger bags and took a breather. He was not looking forward to carrying all of that stuff all the way home.
"What happened to your job at the booze shop?" Neru knew just about that much about Meiko.
"Got fired. The pay was less than what Kaito pays me and the owner is closing up shop. It's not a profitable business anymore, I guess. I made sure to ransack the store before I sent in my keys, though." Meiko smiled wide.
"Atta girl, that's the right way to pay some old geezer back for laying you off like that." Neru was starting to like Meiko. She had the right mindset. The fact that she was friendly to Haku was a plus.
"Where are you two going? Also on a date?" Kaito earned a cold look from the two women.
"They're cousins," Meiko said with a trace of annoyance.
"It's legal to marry your cousin, so I don't see what the prob—" With a painful expression, Kaito shut up. Meiko had flicked his forehead with her index finger. She was trying to get away from her habit of seriously hurting the poor man whenever he said something stupid, but there were limits.
"Leaving him aside, what are you up to? Going shopping? Seems to be what everyone is doing today. Storm is having a sale over at 108. They have some nice stuff. Kaito, velvet bag."
Meiko held out her hand and Kaito, after juggling a few bags around, handed her a velvet-covered one with a big label.
Storm was the leading retailer for tough fashion. It took up the entire top floor of 108 and was the biggest fashion store in the area by far. Rebel fashion, biker fashion, military and naval fashion, gothic, and more. If something was not average or casual, it could be bought at Storm.
Meiko took a short black leather skirt from the bag and showed it to Neru. If there was one thing that united all women, it was fashion and clothes.
"How much did you pay for—" Neru saw the price tag. "No way!" She was baffled. "Haku, we're going to Storm after this."
"There's a huge crowd there right now. I took pity on Kaito and let him wait outside. It's a life-or-death fight for changing rooms and clearance stuff. There's a huge rush. I have no idea why the store's doing it, but I sure ain't complaining." Meiko smiled happily. She had spent more than she wanted to but she'd also gotten much more than she had thought she would get.
"Oh, it'll be good for Haku to actually deal with that." Neru always wanted Haku to dress up a little. The same old pants-and-shirt combination had gotten boring years ago. This was the perfect chance.
The white-haired woman was listening to their conversation and looking a bit miserable. She didn't like crowded places, but Neru was pushing her a lot lately so she could get used to being around people again.
"We need to go. I don't think Kaito is gonna hold out much longer." Meiko pointed at her blue-haired escort and smiled. "Tell Miku to drop by the shop. Haven't seen her in forever." With those words, the brunette waved goodbye to Haku and left together with her drudge.
Neru went back to looking at her cell phone as she waited for the artist to finish. It took another ten minutes until the masterpiece of pencil art was finished. It looked exactly like Haku, and the hair had astounding detail. The man rolled the paper up and put it in a bag, and Neru paid him.
"He was totally ogling you. The artist." Neru was smiling from ear to ear. Even though Haku was only wearing her standard favorite outfit, the artist had been all over her.
"Are you sure? It didn't look like he was—" Haku almost shrieked when Neru smacked her butt.
"Give it a rest, Haku. You look much better than I and most other people do. There are a lot of people who'd kill to have your figure." Neru was patient with her sister, but not infinitely so.
"But—" Haku shut up when she saw Neru glaring at her. Haku loved her sister but she could be really scary at times.
"Do you think I'd be all over you every night if you were ugly?" Neru was bitter. She hated that Haku beat herself up all the time. Neru was one of the people who would kill to look like her sister.
"No…" Haku went quiet after that, sensing the mood had taken a dive. As usual, it was her fault. Neru was never mad for long, but Haku always felt guilty for days.
"I'm not mad, but you need to stop beating yourself up. It makes me sad." Neru looked to the other side of the street. She was embarrassed to show her face to her lover while saying such a thing.
The older woman just smiled and took her sister's hand, happy that she was with Neru. A lot of their talks were like this—brief, sometimes even one-sided. But they always made up in the end.
"Are we really going shopping at Storm?" Haku knew well what kind of clothing and accessories they sold there. The only thing they didn't sell were average, run-of-the-mill things. Or anything that qualified as normal.
"Yep. No way out of this, Haku. We're already there." Neru pulled the tall woman with her across the street just as the signal light went green. Countless people were winding in and out of the gigantic department store in front of them. 108 was the biggest store in town, modeled after Tokyo's famous 109 department store. One could literally buy almost anything a household needed there.
As they threw themselves into the chaos, Neru kept a tight hold on Haku's hand, knowing it'd end in disaster if they got separated in a huge building full of strangers. Getting into one of the eight elevators took a while and when they finally did they were already sweating and out of breath. Meiko hadn't been kidding. A huge rush was exactly what was going on.
When they reached the top floor, people poured out and in of the elevator, and the two sisters finally saw where they wanted to go. Or rather where Neru wanted to drag Haku.
But the failed songstress felt not as alien as she usually would have. She wore mostly normal clothes, but that was because she didn't like to stick out. Back in her youth, Haku had owned quite a large assortment of eccentric clothes.
Neru, fully aware of how shy Haku was, pulled her sister into one of the changing rooms. "Wait here. Gonna be right back." With those words, the blond woman vanished into the current of people and started to pick out clothes almost exclusively for Haku. She could always shop for herself later or on the side.
Ten minutes passed. Haku was starting to get worried and took a sneak peek out of the room. There were dozens, if not hundreds of people in the shop and the mere sight made her feel sick. She didn't know any of these people!
Neru returned to the safe room just as Haku went to take another look. She was breathing hard and looking flushed, her hair mussed up quite a bit.
"You…can't go out there." Neru shook her head hard and pointed to the world beyond the small changing room. "It's madness. Sales madness."
She then unloaded a whole barrel's worth of clothes onto the stool that was placed in the cabin, then picked something out of the pile that made Haku take a step back.
It was a barista uniform. White sleeves, a black top and trousers, altogether looking very classy and refined. Not even a hint of cleavage or skin, but still sexy.
"Strip." Neru's eyes almost gleamed.
With a whimper, Haku hung her head. She couldn't get out of this one, not when Neru was this excited. Standing in just underwear in front of Neru was still embarrassing, but not as much as it used to be.
The uppermost button was impossible to close. She probably filled out the top more than the designer intended, yet Haku looked every bit the experienced bartender, as if she'd worked the job her whole life.
"Clothes really do make people." Neru smiled and whirled her hand, signaling Haku to turn on the spot. The black velvet pants emphasized Haku's long and beautiful legs. "I love this." The novelist smacked her sister on the butt and grinned. "Next!"
Haku put the outfit to the side. Next up was something that very much resembled her favorite outfit. Black pants, again, but a different material and cut. A white shirt, cut the same way as her favorite shirt, but with long sleeves. As opposed to the classy and professional look from before, this outfit Neru had picked went for sex appeal. As it showed quite a bit of cleavage, Haku didn't feel very comfortable in it.
"Maybe a bit much." Neru wasn't really sure about this one. Haku looked uncomfortable, so she would end up putting it away and never wear it. "Next!"
"Neru…are you making fun of me?" Haku stood there, wearing a fake pair of glasses, a lab coat over her usual outfit. The entire "outfit" pretty much consisted of lab coat and fake glasses. It was more of a cosplay set than actual clothes.
Several more sets of clothes followed, exhausting Haku's stamina and the air in the small changing room quite rapidly. A green layered one-piece, a cyan-green dress with a black top below it, a black turtleneck with a blue brooch and azure sky-colored jeans, followed by some more extreme outfits.
There was a gothic-style dress with many frills and ribbons, something that could only be called cyberpunk and was pretty revealing, an office lady outfit, a completely black kimono, a servant maid outfit, a bunny girl outfit, and many more. Neru had carried half the shop into the cabin.
The last thing Haku was almost forced to try on looked like something out of a Russian espionage movie. It was a black coat that reached down to her ankles and served no purpose than to look dark and gritty. The look was only enforced further by the skintight pants and dress below the coat. Haku could have easily been mistaken for a spy in these clothes.
It was getting really hot in the room, both because of Haku's continuous efforts to keep up with Neru's commands and Neru getting really horny after seeing her partner in all the different outfits.
"There's a couple I wanna buy," Neru said. "Including the one you're wearing right now."
Haku liked the outfit herself. Russia was a beautiful country. The outfit didn't show any skin and it sort of made her feel more secure. Like she had actually become a spy.
"Then…this and that. And this one. You kinda need at least a pair of high heels for some of them." They stuck to a tight budget but they weren't poor, so Neru could actually afford to buy quite a few things. Only because they were on sale, though.
"Neru…I want a break…" Haku was exhausted and could barely stand. Neru wanted out of the room as well. They were not designed for two people in the first place. After packing up the clothes she wanted to buy, Neru headed out first, followed by Haku about three minutes later, wearing her old clothes again.
"We can come back later. I'll buy something for myself too. And we haven't picked swimsuits yet!" Neru had caught the shopping fever rampaging through the department store that day.
~~~ Hear My Song! ~~~
"Remind me, why do I always end up getting drunk when we go out…?"
Miku stood at the sink in the bathroom, looking into the mirror with sleepy, droopy eyes. After checking the bags under her eyes, she grabbed her toothbrush and started to get the taste of last night out of her mouth.
"I'm not even of drinking age yet…" The student sighed and thought about what would happen to her if someone ever found out about all of her wild nights.
"At least you take it better than most…" Luka looked sleep-deprived and worn out when she joined Miku in the bathroom. Miku was only wearing a long white shirt, one that was almost identical to the one Luka wore.
"Miku…you're using my toothbrush." Luka pointed at the green toothbrush that remained in the cup on the sink before she took it.
"My tongue spends so much time inside your mouth, does it really matter?" Miku was becoming more and more sassy as she spent her days with Luka.
"Touché." Luka smiled for a second and then proceeded to use Miku's toothbrush to get the bad aftertaste of a party evening and a hot night out of her system.
They both brushed in silence, both of them very exhausted. With at best six hours of sleep after partying like that, that much was to be expected. They didn't even want to know how chaotic things had been on Gumi's end.
"We should check on them, shouldn't we?" Luka wasn't even trying to sound like she wanted to.
"Your deceit levels are crumbling down, Luka. I can tell you didn't even want to get up." Miku looked at her partner from the side and sighed. "I know how you feel, but after we got ourselves into this mess, we have to clean it up." Miku only hoped that the "cleaning up" was purely metaphorical in nature.
Miku finished brushing first. She took the single cup, filled it with water, and cleaned her mouth. "I can still taste the alcohol…"
The second she was done, the doorbell rang.
"I'll go." Miku put down the cup, walked past Luka while caressing her shoulders and forced herself down the corridor to the apartment door.
When she looked through the peephole, she recognized the face and blond mane. Miku opened the door and faced a very roughed-up Lily and an extremely worn-out and sleepy Gumi almost kneeling next to her. They both looked like a mess. There were two scratch marks on Lily's left cheek. And they reeked of alcohol and worse.
"The power and water in her building went out…Sonika is staying behind, waiting for a mechanic." Lily's voice was still as rough as the evening before, but her accent was gone.
Miku was hugged from behind. Her partner's breasts pressed on her back, forcing Miku to lean forward. "Mornin'," was all Luka could get out.
"Can we use your shower? The power an—" Lily was interrupted by Miku who stepped back, almost making Luka fall over.
"Sure, sure…come in. Just…keep it down." Miku knew that none of the four would make a huge racket, but better safe than sorry. "What happened to your cheek?" Miku was a tiny bit curious.
"Gumi, you can go first." Lily offered the green-haired girl the first shower and followed Miku and Luka to what served as living room where they sat down. It was a pretty chaotic room. Empty bottles, clothes, and dishes were all over the place. Miku hadn't cleaned the day before.
They just sat there in silence, each of them fighting their own headache and hangover, until Luka got up and started to make coffee. She was only able to find two clean cups, but Luka started brewing anyway.
"Sooo…" Miku started, her voice really quiet and low.
"Things got…a lil' out of hand." Lily rubbed her cheek and thought about the last night. "The moment we entered Gumi's apartment, she started to sing and blurt out all kinds of dumb stuff. She was totally gone. Sonika put her in bed, showed me the couch, and gave me a woolen blanket, heading off to bed as well. I have no idea when it happened, but when I came to, Gumi was right on top of me, half naked, and my cheek hurt like hell. Could be my imagination, but I'm pretty sure she smooched me while I was sleeping."
"Not the worst I've heard…" Luka said, and Miku sighed.
"I checked on Sonika, but she was out cold on the floor, sound asleep. Gumi had thrown up again. The bed's a real mess. That was about five in the morning. I spent the next two hours leaning on the couch, half asleep, while Gumi reeked of vomit behind me." Lily finished her story and took the cup filled with hot goodness from Luka. "Thanks a lot."
"Didn't know Gumi was such a lightweight." Luka took a sip from her own cup and then handed it Miku. They had no problem sharing each other's stuff. They were long past trivial issues like that.
"She downed vodka like it was water, Luka. Even I would be all over the place like that. I'm surprised you're fine, Lily." Miku took a large gulp of coffee and gave the cup back to Luka, rubbing her cheeks.
"Got a liver of steel, I tell ya." Lily smiled awkwardly and sighed. "Gumi doesn't even remember anything past us singing 'Resonance.' I'm not hot on telling her."
"I can imagine." Miku was surprised that Luka hadn't made any impish comments.
"So, what ya gonna do now?" Luka looked at Lily. They were barely acquaintances, but Luka liked the girl.
"Look for a place to stay. A job, I guess. Can't go back. Not sure what I'm gonna do until—what the fuck was that?" Lily almost dropped her cup when a loud bang from outside startled her. Luka and Miku almost fell over as well. When she went to the window and looked out, Luka found nothing to be wrong in particular.
Miku had a bad feeling, so she walked to the bedroom and looked out the window. "Our problems just went up in smoke. Literally." Miku was pale, even for having a hangover.
Luka and Lily joined the green-haired girl hastily and saw what was making her go white. The apartment building right across from the one they were in—Gumi's apartment building—was giving off large amounts of black smoke from the top floor.
Seconds later, they heard the sirens of the firefighters approaching. Almost simultaneously, their doorbell rang again. Sonika, looking not quite as worn out as the rest of them, was there. "Apparently, more than just the power and the water is out," Sonika sighed.
Miku started cleaning some cups and dishes while Luka got dressed in the bedroom. Lily and Sonika sort of just stood by and looked at Miku's back.
"Is your back okay?" Lily asked Sonika. "You kinda slept on the ground." Lily was all of a sudden a little uncomfortable with the situation. Sonika made her a little nervous.
"Had worse mornings…this comes really close to the top, though." Sonika didn't even make an effort to smile. Instead she sighed, depressed. "I guess we can pretty much buy a new bed after Gumi's little accident. Is she still in the shower?"
"The water stopped a few minutes ago, so I guess she's about done." Miku realized only then that Gumi had no change of clothes. "Either of you bring over some clothes?"
Both Lily and Sonika shook their heads. Not wanting to shout, Miku stopped what she was doing and went into the bedroom, where Luka was putting on a black turtleneck.
"I'll give Gumi a change of clothes, but Lily and Sonika won't fit into my stuff," she told Luka. Miku went to the big wall drawer and picked out some everyday clothes she didn't wear very often.
She then knocked on the bathroom door. A quiet "Yes?" told her that at least Gumi hadn't fainted in the shower.
"I got you some clothes. Wear them. Throw the old ones in the basket. I'll give them back to you when we wash them."
They probably stunk of alcohol and a multitude of other things Miku didn't want to think about. The door opened just a little and Miku passed the clothes to a soaked Gumi. "There's a hairdryer in the drawer."
When she went back into the living room, Miku didn't quite know what to say, so she sat down and pressed a hand to her forehead before letting out a big sigh. "Okay…the power and water went out…then some idiot set the apartment building on fire. What's gonna happen next, a submarine falling from the sky?"
Luka walked up behind Miku and putting her hand on her head. "You're being too cynical here, Miku. It's not uncommon that this stuff happens. At least, not on the big scale." Luka walked past her partner and handed each Sonika and Lily a small pile of clothes. "I guessed your sizes, but these should fit."
As if it was her cue, Gumi showed up, still worn out and beat. She was wearing a long white pleated skirt and a matching white t-shirt. It didn't look bad on Gumi. What looked bad were the bags under her eyes, her unkempt hair, and the way she walked.
"I'll go next, if you don't mind." Lily looked at Sonika and then to Gumi. "I can still taste what went through her head last night."
Nobody wanted to argue with that or imagine it. They all had had a pretty bad morning.
Gumi sat down right next to the drawers and leaned against them, tired enough to just fall back asleep where she sat. At least she was not reeking of alcohol anymore. But the taste in her mouth hadn't gone away. Luka made a new pot of coffee. They had enough cups now, thanks to Miku.
Nobody made any unnecessary comments or tried to strike up a conversation. They were all thankful for some silence. It had been a while since Miku had dealt with a hangover this bad. That they needed to go to the studio later that day and even take Gumi with them only made everything worse.
Luka was acting considerate for once and handed out two cups with fresh, hot coffee that might as well have been life elixir for Gumi. Sonika looked a little rough too, but not anywhere as bad as the rest of them.
"Luka, when are we supposed to show up at the studio?" Miku looked at the clock. The two of them had already showered and fixed their appearance for the bigger part, but they were both not exactly ready to work just then.
"Three. I'm not sure what they want, they didn't tell me. Only that it's important to be there on time." Luka pinched the bridge of her nose and yawned. Hopefully it was not as important as they made it sound.
"I have seventeen unanswered calls in my mailbox." Sonika wasn't eager to leave. There were things she still had to do in Japan.
"Sorry, Sonika, but can you take Gumi and Lily with you to a hotel or something? I like you guys, but leaving you alone in my place isn't my thing." Luka understood why Miku didn't object. It was pretty much common sense to not leave anyone alone in their apartment.
"I hope we can go back to Gumi's place before that happens. The firefighter sirens went quiet a while ago. Maybe I should check." Pulling herself up, Sonika left for the door and looked out. There was no more smoke coming from the building and it looked otherwise fine. But there was something else that caught her attention.
"How do you feel?" Miku sat down next to Gumi, who was still halfway in a different world.
"Horrible…" Gumi took a sip of coffee and let her head hang. "Never had a total blackout before."
"It happens. At least it happened to me…a couple of times." Miku gave Luka a special look, but the pink-haired woman just stuck out her tongue, then grinned. "It's fun while it lasts, but the morning after is always terrible," Miku added with a sour expression.
"You should take it a little slower next time. You went way overboard with your drinking. I'd end up puking all over the place too if I downed vodka like you did." Miku was both impressed and a little worried.
"Yeah…figured that one out a little late. I barely remember anything from the karaoke. What did I do? Or…do I even want to know?" Gumi wasn't sure she would like to hear about herself puking everywhere.
"You managed to reach the toilet before you threw up, so no damage done there. Beside that, nothing you should regret doing."
"I vaguely remember kissing Lily…did I just imagine that or…?" Gumi's memory of the evening before was cloudy at best. And considering how much she had drunk, that was a small miracle on its own.
"Oh, you did. I wouldn't worry about that, though. Sonika didn't mind, and Lily seemed rather pleased." Miku smiled and remembered the blond girl's priceless expression.
"It seemed like a good idea at the time…" Gumi sighed again. They were going to break a record of some sort with all the sighing.
"Judging by Lily's expression, it definitely was for her."
Luka secretly exited the living room, passed the bathroom, and found Sonika at the front door, talking with some sort of firefighter. They were just about done talking when Luka showed up behind Sonika.
"What did he want? Keep the door open, I need some fresh air." Luka had been wanting to talk to Sonika alone anyway. Now was a good chance.
"They don't know the details themselves, but the power and water will be out for a few days in the building. Not only that, but the moron who set his apartment on fire spread poisonous fumes all over the place. The whole building is gonna be under quarantine for a few days." Sonika held her head and sort of wished she was still drunk. "I guess it's true when people say that bad things happen all at once."
"What are you gonna do now?" Luka remembered that it was not only Sonika and Gumi who suddenly had no apartment to stay at. Lily was sort of out there too.
"I guess I'll take Gumi to a hotel for the time being. What is Lily gonna do?"
"She was hoping to crash at Gumi's place until she found a place of her own. I guess that idea's falling flat now." Luka loved herself some dangerous developments, but too much was too much. "I would offer to let her stay at my place, but you can see how that's not an option."
"Some people really don't think things through, I guess." Sonika looked at her cell phone and went through a few messages she had gotten since the day before.
"About Lily…don't you think they make a good couple?" Luka was often rude, indecent, brazen, and sometimes even annoying, but on rare occasions she proved to have amazing insight into other people's emotions.
"I know where you're going with this, Luka. Yeah, I think they fit nicely together. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do. I love Gumi. But sometimes I think I'm not being a good sister at all."
"Want to hear what I think?" Luka offered serious advice pretty rarely. Sonika just nodded and made an approving grunt.
"Letting her go won't work. Gumi is obsessed with you. If you just break up with her, it'll be a worst case scenario. I agree with what you think. It's not a good relationship if one of you is thousands of miles away all the time." Luka made a short break. "Gumi doesn't care about that, but I think deep down she's pretty lonely. She just hides it from us."
Sonika didn't say anything yet. Luka didn't beat around the bush, and Sonika was thankful for that. Dealing with endless subtle hints and trying to decipher cryptic analogies had gotten old years ago.
"Gumi needs to be stolen. She needs to fall in love with someone else and it needs to be her who realizes you two love each other but you live in different worlds. Don't get me wrong, if you were normal people it would be an entirely different story. But you're both stars. People pry into your private lives. You won't be able to hide forever."
"That's different from what you said before."
"It really depends on what you feel is best. What I said on the monorail wasn't wrong. To break up because of your jobs, your lives, that's just wrong. If there is any reason you want Gumi to like someone else, then it's because you realize that you can't be there for her all the time. It's not a relationship if you only see each other once or twice a year."
"So you're telling me that ending this because of our jobs, our lives would be wrong, but ending it because I know someone else would be a better partner than I ever could is okay? You're really complicated, Luka."
"A woman needs some mystery about her." Luka grinned. "And honestly, your situation is complicated, no doubt about it. I understand you when you say you love her. But would you give up your job, your life, to be with her? Or rather, do you believe Gumi would want you to or be happy if you did?"
Sonika said nothing. She didn't need to. They both knew what kind of reaction Gumi would have.
"You think that Lily girl fits the bill? And I'm asking hypothetically."
"She's nice, a bit wild. I can't really tell how well their personalities work together, but at least they look nice together. And from last evening, it's pretty clear that Lily doesn't mind liking girls. If you want to try and see if Lily can handle her, I'll help you. But you have to be absolutely sure about it. No panicking later, or trying to undo things." Luka looked very seriously at Sonika. They had not spent a lot of time together, but Sonika trusted her.
"Let me…think about it, okay? I'll give you an answer before I leave for Europe in a few days."
"I'm okay with whatever you do. I told you both sides of my thoughts, and that's all I can do for you now." Luka patted Sonika on the shoulder. "Think it through. Nobody is hurrying you."
Luka went back into the apartment, leaving Sonika behind. The door was not closed completely, so the woman could come in whenever she wanted to.
"Mystery, huh?" Miku was leaning against the wall next to the door, her eyes closed, her arms crossed in front of her.
"Eavesdropping isn't nice, Miku."
"You're one to talk. I do agree with what you said, though. Gumi's asleep in the living room and Lily is still showering. You picked a good moment to come out with this." Miku stepped up to Luka and grabbed her hand. "I hope this doesn't blow up in your face. I wanna see Gumi happy. She's my friend. Don't screw it up, Luka."
"Do I ever screw up important things?" Luka was using a serious tone and Miku found herself unable to name even one occasion where Luka screwed up something non-trivial. "See? It depends on Sonika and what she thinks is best for Gumi."
"Sometimes I don't know which one the real Luka is—the one I'm talking to right now, the serious and mature Luka, or the one that's with me usually—the silly but funny, the let's-get-the-underage-girl-drunk Luka." Miku turned around and let her partner hug her from behind.
"They're both me, silly. You should know that." They still were standing there when the bathroom door opened and Lily came out, looking much better than before.
"Alive again. Oh, did I interrupt something?" The blond girl took a step back. She was wearing Luka's clothes, a crimson tank top and a black skirt reaching barely her knees, and she looked a bit like the songstress.
"Nothing in particular." Luka grinned, pulled Miku around and kissed her briefly before stepping away. "I'll tell Sonika the shower is free."
Miku was left behind with Lily, and the two of them almost automatically headed for the living room, where Gumi was sleeping in a corner.
"You two make a really great couple," Lily said when she sat down next to Gumi. She didn't seem to realize the enormous irony of what Miku was seeing.
"We have our differences, but we get along. Which is more than can be said for most couples. Most people say that you can just have a nice relationship if you love each other, but that's just not true. That's only part of it."
"I wish I had a relationship like that. All the ones in the past were pretty much catastrophes. I don't think I've ever had a relationship that's held out for more than a month. How long have you two been together?"
"A while. To be honest, we don't really count the days. I didn't think it would work out at first. But Luka can be really caring." Miku was surprised at how long she had been with Luka. It started out as an experiment and against the odds, their relationship worked out really nicely.
Lily poked Gumi's cheek and grinned when she started to make a few weird sounds. "You two are really different from how I imagined you to be. Luka looks like the perfect woman on TV and you're the innocent but determined newbie. It's so different from what you two are really like."
"What about you? You said you were in a band. What kind of music did you people make?" Miku wanted to change the topic. She wasn't comfortable talking about her work with Lily right then.
"Mostly Zatsune-style things." Zatsune referred to a type of music that was rough, much like metal, but didn't involve shouting or screaming. In a way, it was a mix of modern rock and power metal.
"That's really…different. That song you sang with Gumi, 'Beatrix,' that was Zatsune style, right?" Miku was intrigued by the new genre of music.
"My voice isn't really all that good for pop and that stuff. I'm more suited to that kind of music. And yeah, 'Beatrix' was Zatsune style. I guess I have to look for a new band now, though." Lily let her head hang. It wasn't easy to find bands playing Zatsune music. It was a new genre and still growing.
"I can play the bass." Luka had joined them in the living room and their conversation, sitting down next to Miku. "You can play the guitar, right Miku?"
"I totally know where you're going with this, Luka, but no way in hell do we have time to play in a band and do our jobs seriously at the same—" Miku was interrupted by a glare.
"Really? We have time to party and the other day you complained about just sitting around. I thought you'd be all over this." Luka paused and seemed to reach enlightenment just then. "You suck at the guitar, don't you?"
Luka felt a wave of pain running through her body, originating from a pinch on her arm. "Okay, you're on, Luka. I've never seen you play the bass. If you're worse than me, we're not going to do anything. If you're better than me, I'll listen to your crazy idea." Miku stood up and went to their bedroom. Her guitar had stayed in the closet ever since she had taken it to Luka's place to practice.
Luka gave Lily a thumbs-up sign and left as well, searching for her bass. She was confident that no matter how good Miku was, she could beat her.
Lily was left behind, wondering if she should even say anything. She wanted a band so she could make some money. Well, she could always tell them that while she appreciated the idea, she couldn't very well form a band with stars.
The two came back pretty quickly, Miku wielding an average-looking guitar and Luka carrying an very expensive-looking bass. It even had some kind of brand name on it.
"I'll go first." Luka grinned wide and filled the air with an amazing rhythm. Lily just sat there, her mouth wide open. If she didn't hadn't better, she would have guessed Luka was a professional musician who'd played the bass her whole life. Two minutes later, Luka finished and watched Miku's sour face. The green-haired girl knew right away that she was fighting a lost battle.
"You and your goddamn talent. Okay, then. Let's assume I play the guitar and you play the bass. Lily, what else do you even need for a band?" Miku was in a foul mood now, but Luka seemed delighted and clung to Miku, who tried repeatedly to get her to back off but gave in after the third time she shoved Luka away.
"I can play a supporting guitar, but we'd need at least a drummer and someone on a keyboard. It really depends on the type of Zatsune you're going for, but for the harder stuff we'd need a second bass." Lily was counting people on her fingers. "Then someone for the vocals, and I guess either of you—"
"Don't be silly. Me? Singing music like that? Are you serious?" Luka started to laugh and then poked Miku's cheek. "And you can forget Miku as well. No, you should do the vocals. You have a nice, powerful voice."
"Are you two seriously thinking about this? Luka, first, we could only do this incognito because Krypton would have our asses if we violate our contracts. Secondly, never mind the aspect of having time, where would we get the other people? Not to mention we would need people who could keep quiet about who we really are. And then we would even need to disguise ourselves. I don't like this idea." Miku was no longer fighting back. Once Luka had her mind set on something, there was no stopping her.
"That's wrong, Miku. We're forbidden to produce any music for a different label. If we operate as an independent group, we won't have a label, and thus there is no breach of contract." Luka was always great at finding loopholes and ignoring the other problems.
"I give up." Miku hung her head. She was raising the white flag.
"You two, I wasn't being serious. There is no way I could possibly make a band with you two! You're stars, I'd feel bad if—" Lily was starting to think she was never going to be allowed to finish one of her sentences as long as Luka was around.
"Are you going to turn me, Luka Megurine, down when I am asking you to be in your band?" The songstress was quite skilled when it came to manipulating people.
"No, I mean—" Lily now understood well why Miku had given up. There was no way out of this one. "Fine. But where do we get a drummer and keyboarder?"
"One of my cousins plays the keyboard. Well, she used to, until a few years ago," Miku said. "But I doubt she will join. She's really shy and doesn't handle other people very well."
"Are you talking about Haku?"
"Yes. Haku." Miku could feel her headache coming back, worse than ever.
"I can't handle her very well…" Luka looked a little depressed.
"I'll ask her, but I doubt she'll join. Don't get your hopes up." Miku looked at Luka from the corner of her eyes. "Don't mess with Haku if you value our relationship, is that clear?" Miku didn't have to say it twice.
"At least she's not even close to being a risk about ratting us out. Miku plays the guitar, I play the bass, Haku the keyboard—" Luka stopped, knowing that Miku would interrupt her anyway, and as usual, Luka was spot on with her timing.
"If she joins. Which I doubt." Miku knew just how atrociously bad Haku was with other people. Going on stage in front of even a dozen people she didn't know would probably wreck her nerves completely.
"Yes, yes. Lily on supporting guitar and vocals. Does Gumi play anything? Miku, do you know?" Luka didn't mind going through with crazy, spontaneous ideas like this one. She had yet to find herself in a situation she couldn't talk her way out of.
"I never asked her. Luka, give me some tissues, or better yet, wake her up, she's drooling on my clothes." Miku didn't mind lending clothes to her friend, but she wasn't keen on getting drool on them. "And besides that, you plan to drag Gumi into this as well? Haku is one thing, as she's not under any contract, but Gumi just switched labels!"
"Let her make that decision herself. We're not going to be doing something soon anyway. We'd need a practice room and we'd need to actually come up with something decent before we could even try a small audition. We would have to avoid the big places since they're not going to let us play without identifying ourselves."
"There you go again, running away with an idea and only thinking things through halfway. Whatever am I supposed to do with you?"
Shrugging, shaking her head slightly and sighing, Miku saw no reason to further seriously argue the issue. At least not this morning. Or noon. Whatever the current time counted as.
~~~ Hear My Song! ~~~
"This is Mr. Yamada, who will supervise any future productions of you two. He is also the chief supervisor for any co-productions between you two, like 'Magnet'." One of the board executives was introducing a middle-aged man in a suit to the two girls. Despite his receding hairline, his round face and his small stature, he gave a professional impression.
"I'm looking forward to working with you." Yamada's eyes half-closed and he gave both of them a slight nod before talking about a few administrative issues with the executive. Miku and Luka simply returned the nod, bowed slightly, and returned his formal greeting likewise.
They had nothing else to do in the office that day. They had simply been called to meet the new staff member they would be working with. Luka had already received a text message from her manager, a long complaint about the numerous calls and file requests Yamada had already made.
Gumi had, thankfully, not been called in. After being woken up by Miku, she was left in Lily's care, who, with borrowed money from Luka, took her downtown, looking for a place they could stay long enough to make Gumi's apartment come out of the danger zone.
While Gumi was only moderately knowledgeable about the internet, Lily proved to be a real asset in the area. Quite contrary to the impression she gave, she was good with computers, having dated a networking admin for a while.
"Living in Tokyo is worse than a survival game on the hardest difficulty." Lily clicked through about a dozen tabs in her browser, scrolling, opening new tabs and then closing some. She did all of it a bit too quickly for Gumi to get a good look.
After last night, and with Sonika soon to leave, Gumi wasn't really looking forward to sharing a place with anyone but her sister. The little time they had together was precious, so despite the fact that Gumi liked Lily, she didn't want to waste her time. Lily wasn't going to run away, Sonika was, and that soon.
Though, also because of the last night, she couldn't get herself to just tell Lily off. After all, the girl had no job, no place to stay, and Gumi was a friendly and caring person at heart. No matter how much she wanted to be with her sister, she couldn't act that selfishly without ending up hating herself over it, ruining any time she spent with Sonika regardless.
"I'm sorry you have to put up with me." Lily didn't mind imposing on people some, but there was a limit to everything. Luka and Miku put her up to this idea and even gave her some money. They hadn't mentioned the whole band idea to Gumi yet, and those two had left the precise timing of asking or simply telling Gumi also to the blond rock songstress in training.
"Don't worry about it. I think you should plan ahead a little more, though. What would you have done if you hadn't run into us?" Gumi didn't like it when people were so very careless.
"That's not the first time I've heard that. My mom and dad kept telling me that too. So did all my teachers. I'm just too impulsive for my own good. After busting a fuse, I almost always regret it. Not this time, though. It's not every day that you get to hang out and party with some real stars."
"Just don't treat me like a celebrity. I like Miku and Luka so much for exactly those reasons. They're not snobs. At my old label, there were some really terribly arrogant and ignorant people. I can't stand it when someone acts like they're better than someone else."
"Hadn't planned on it. You have to understand that many normal people that work everyday jobs idolize those that don't, like you. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you're something better when people act like you really are. How about this place?"
"Lemme see…big enough for two, the rent's a bit more than my current place…it has a kitchen already? Huh, the comments warn of rowdy neighbors? Maybe that's why the rent is that low for a place that size. What's the loca—oh." Gumi was supporting herself on Lily's shoulder, reading the entry for the apartment on the PC screen. Thank god they were fairly large in this net café.
"Isn't that…?" Lily didn't trust her memory and entered the address in google, getting a satellite map of the area. When she zoomed in, the red bubble showed a place she was kind of familiar with. "You don't think they mean her with the rowdy neighbor?"
"It…wouldn't really surprise me, honestly. She can get quite loud sometimes. And she's not exactly Miss Restraint either. So the apartment right below Luka's is free…maybe I should just get my stuff over there. I hang out a lot with those two anyway."
"Are you sure? I didn't mean to make you move apartments, Gumi." Lily suddenly felt like she'd jumped across the line of how much she wanted to impose on Gumi with rocket boots.
"If the place has an extra room, I don't mind. I just didn't want you to take permanent residence on my couch." Gumi did get lonely when Sonika wasn't around, which was most of the time, even with Miku and Luka now eating up a large chunk of that loneliness. Having Lily around wouldn't be so bad. Once she had a job, they could split rent too.
"Do you have your cell phone with you? The landlord's number is written here and we can't really crash tonight at Luka's place. I was planning to borrow some money from Luka for a cheap motel, but if we get your things quickly and quietly, that won't be an issue." Lily pressed print on the article regardless, keeping it just in case.
"The building is off-limits. You can't just get in there. They said it's poisonous." Gumi was concerned about what Lily was thinking.
"It's only bad for you if you spend a lot of time there. That's why they quarantine buildings. It was the same when we accidentally burned down a small apartment during a party. The other apartments were all off-limits for habitation because of that."
"Miku, they're over here!"
Luka had walked just past them. She stopped and took two steps back, waving to a green-haired girl on the other side of the room.
"So, how's the apartment hunt going, you two?" Luka had thought long and hard about a weird nickname she could give the two, but she hadn't come up with anything. On the opposite side, "Negitoro" came to mind when she tried to think about a nickname for Miku and herself. It made her cringe.
"Going well, thanks to you being a really bad neighbor." Lily couldn't hide her grin, and even Gumi had to turn away, trying hard not to laugh. "Whoever lived in the apartment below you left and apparently complained to the landlord enough that they even put 'rowdy neighbors' in the posting."
Luka put a finger to her cheek. "So that was why they kept hammering on my floor! I thought they were just partying really hard." Luka seemed rather surprised by how that one had turned out. Surprised, and without a single shred of guilt.
"Well, that makes things simple. You two going to go with sleeping bags for today?"
Luka leaned against the cubicle wall, which creaked dangerously under the burden of her weight. Seconds later, Miku arrived and shoved her off the wall.
"That's not designed to support gluttonous women." Miku tried to keep her voice down, but she wasn't in the mood to fool around.
"But you weren't even leaning against it, Miku!" Luka knew exactly what her girlfriend meant and played the naïve girl on purpose.
"Why, you…!" She pulled Luka's beret down in her face and turned to the other two, who watched the comedy routine with ever-growing amusement. Lily and Gumi smiled at each other.
"I'm going to move permanently out of my old apartment. It's kinda small anyway, and the rent is bad. So are the neighbors. The apartment below Luka's is free, so I'll take that, together with Lily," Gumi informed the couple in a matter-of-fact way.
"I hope you won't regret that." Miku rolled her eyes and jerked her thumb at Luka. "She's noisy."
Not letting that sit with her, Luka swiftly moved both her hands under Miku's shirt, groping her, making the novice songstress let out a startled noise. Everyone in the café raised their heads, trying to figure out where the high-pitched "Kyaaah!" sound had come from.
Gumi and Lily took Luka by her arms and dragged her away before Miku had a chance to retaliate. The pink-haired woman was, Gumi thought, maybe a little suicidal sometimes. But…neighbors. That wasn't such a bad outlook.
Hopefully the walls were thick. She wouldn't be able to face the two with a straight face if she overheard them having sex.
~~~ End of Concert IX ~~~