A/N: For the Freedom! Zine, which might sadly never be free. I wanted to do a character piece on Juno, though if I had realized I was the only writer, I would have gone for a Haru/Legoshi piece.
Summary: Juno was a carnivore. She was never destined for the heroine. No one wanted to protect her. Still, that suited her just fine—in the end, that was a bit role. What she wanted, no, needed, was the main lead.
What would the audience say, if they saw a carnivore take charge for once?
Juno crept into the dark auditorium, her eyes instantly adapting to the low light. Quietly, she closed the door behind her, making sure not to make a sound. This was only the dress rehearsal for the play, but the seniors in the theatre club took it as seriously as an actual performance.
Spotting her, her clubmate, Rina the red fox, beckoned her closer and hissed, "Juno!"
"Rina!" she whispered back, waving. Juno slinked over to her friend, her large frame bent over as she tried not to be seen. Scattered around the theatre, various members of the drama club watched the stage in rapt attention and she didn't want to block anyone's view. Plopping into the seat next to Rina, she sighed. "Sorry I'm late."
"What happened?" Rina whispered, curious. In the dim light, her eyes almost glowed.
"Had to help clean the classroom," Juno mumbled. It hadn't been her turn, but when the popular kids held out a mop, she couldn't say no. No matter how much their expressions were daring her to. Her hand gripped her armrest tightly at the memory. "How much did I miss?"
"Not much." Rina patted her arm lightly. "You got lucky! There was an issue with the lighting, so they've been fixing that for the past half hour. I think they're almost done now."
"The lights…" Legoshi. Automatically, Juno looked up, searching for a familiar hunched silhouette. From her angle, unfortunately, it was impossible to spot him on the catwalks, his muscular arms adjusting the spotlights. With his fur colouring, he blended into the darkness, making it easier for him to disappear. Juno understood it. With the way others looked at her sometimes, it was simpler to just blend in and hide.
But understanding only took her so far, and she clenched her teeth.
Cloth rustled and the velvet curtains rose. Juno looked down at the stage once more, her tail twitching impatiently as the stage was revealed. Fog appeared on the stage, a spotlight shining on the right, and the stage was set for the heroine to wander in. A zebra stepped into the light, an innocent expression on her face.
"Ohh, she's pretty," Rina murmured, rubbing her snout.
"Yeah, a good damsel." Juno felt a wave of bitterness wash over her. Of course a herbivore had been cast as the heroine. No matter how cute or small a carnivore was, no one wanted to protect them. No one thought of saving them. Her hand trembled, remembering how her classmates attacked her earlier. Not even a carnivore wanted to protect a carnivore.
At least Legoshi had cared. She forced her fear down, remembering his kind voice. He had cared, even if no one else had. If only she were the kind of person content with just one pair of eyes on her, with just a single person's compassion.
"The costumes are on point." Rina gestured at the three villains—one of them a tiger, Juno noted. "I like the way the fabric flows on all of them."
"And you're sure you don't want to work in the costume department?" Juno asked, raising a brow as she looked at her friend.
Rina grinned, all teeth. "Nah, too much work. I just like looking and wearing."
Before she could finish the playful jab, Rina poked her arm. "He's here!"
As a wave of energy crossed the auditorium, Juno didn't have to ask who the 'he' was. Only one student could provoke such an instantaneous response. Only one student could get every eye, including hers, back on stage.
The music quietened. All spotlights focused on the left, leaving the rest of the stage in darkness. Stepping out from the wings, Louis elegantly made his appearance. Even Juno, to her annoyance, couldn't look away from his regal figure as he slowly stalked across the stage. The set, the cast, everything else took backseat to him.
"I am Death," he uttered, his voice booming through his skeleton mask.
Juno felt the hairs on her arm rise at the pronouncement. With that tone, she'd accept anything. He was Death, as far as she was concerned. Around her, she could hear the other drama club members straining in their seat, barely restraining themselves from getting closer and basking in his aura. All eyes, all ears, everything were focused on Louis.
Beastar. That was what the other students called him, the future Beastar. She could believe it. He already called the shots in the drama club. With that commanding presence, it was only a matter of time before he took over the rest of the world.
Despite being a red deer, he looked tall as he stood under that spotlight. Legoshi would look taller still, if he didn't hunch over. A gray wolf in the spotlight…Juno's tail wrapped around her at the thought. A wolf playing the hero, a wolf taking center stage. What would happen then? All these eyes, they would be staring at a carnivore.
They would be praising a carnivore.
Somewhere above her, Legoshi worked the cameras, content with the shadows. It wasn't the life he deserved. It wasn't the life she or any other carnivore deserved. If a frail red deer like Louis could take the center of attention, who was to say a carnivore couldn't?
Who was to say Legoshi, or even herself couldn't?
Juno leaned forward in her seat, her eyes glued to Louis. Maybe it was time he had a challenge to his title.