Kyoko flinched when a storm of applause and shouts broke over the music. 'And I'm not even on stage. Gods this is scary!'
It was her turn, and she almost fell over when she climbed the stage and made for the catwalk section. Spotlights blinded her and for a moment she stood frozen.
"Take my hand."
Yukio had arrived from the other side and she felt his fingers around hers. That calmed her down somewhat, and with his hand in hers Kyoko finally dared the catwalk.
The shouts grew even louder and from the rows of chairs closest to them she heard one racy suggestion after another.
"Don't bother," Yukio said. "You're all mine. They're just jealous," he added and screwed a forced smile onto his face.
'You really don't like it when others look at me that way?' It made her strangely happy. "You're one to talk," she said. "Half of those comments are yours." She gripped his hand harder, but when they came to the end of the catwalk she had to let go.
A few seconds followed before they agreed on how to walk back. She heard a few laughs, most of them friendly but at least one in the crowd shouted his displeasure.
Almost all the way back they met Urufu. He shook his head but Kyoko understood he only rued his own participation. He wore a suit just the way all the boys here wore their school uniforms. It was as if he didn't register how stunning he looked.
"You did just great out there," he said when they were within earshot. That comment warmed her. "Just watch what it means to make an arse out of oneself," he said and gave them an ironic salute before they passed each other.
Behind her the shouts increased to a deafening roar. 'That's them thanking you for your hard work today. You deserve it.'
Kyoko quickly walked behind the curtains and stole a look. From the other side she saw Yukio doing the same. He gave her a thumbs up before turning his attention to Urufu's backside.
She followed that stare and watched Urufu pretend to play with an invisible soccer ball all the way to the end of the catwalk. Before he turned he picked it up and smashed it into the audience volley ball style. 'I bet that's Kuri-chan's instructions. Only Ryu would have the guts to do something like that without being told.'
When Urufu returned Ryu and Hitomi-chan took the stage.
The entire gym hall exploded in shouts drowning the music. Kyoko had to slap her hands to her ears. 'So that's what true popularity sounds like? I wonder what happens next.'
There was a difference. Both Ryu and Hitomi-chan walked with the grace of people used to being looked at. A packed gym hall only made them shine even more.
'I really wonder what happens next.'
Kuri-chan and Nao-sempai last. They planned the show that way. After everyone were done the two professional models would hit the catwalk every second display. Both Kuri-chan and Nao-sempai promised they could change a full set of clothes in under thirty seconds, and two make-up crews, one on each side of the stage, stood ready to do black magic during those seconds.
Ryu and Hitomi-chan returned to the sound of a thunderous chant. Both were visibly shaken. Used to being looked at was one thing, but none of them had experienced anything like this before.
'And now for the pros.'
The lights changed, as did the music.
Kuri-chan came up behind her. Kyoko stared into blue eyes filled with youthful joy bordering on glee and a face split in a happy grin showing off two rows of perfect, white teeth. She came fully battle dressed and the radiant happiness almost felt out of place.
"Twenty years, it's been over twenty years now," Kuri-chan said and grabbed Kyoko's shoulder. "Wish me luck!"
With a last grip on Kyoko's hands she entered the limelight. Her face immediately changed into an ethereal beauty, and from the other side of the scene Nao-sempai's face went through a similar transformation.
Kyoko slapped her hand to her ears in anticipation of the roar and stared at the two models as they started walking down the catwalk, or danced. They walked, ran, stood still and waited for each other. Sometimes they switched places with each other, almost but never touching.
'Impossible! I never saw them train anything like this.'
Apart from the music Kyoko couldn't hear a sound, and slowly the sound technician lowered the volume until Kyoko could hear the breathing from the audience. Not a single shout, nothing.
At the end of the catwalk Kuri-chan did something with her feet that snapped her entire body into a statue-like fixture. 'She did that at Shibuya as well. How can you move like that?'
On their way back Nao-sempai slapped Kuri-chan's hands and they quickly fell out of pose as they half-ran the last bit.
Kyoko quickly ducked behind the curtain to avoid being seen.
"That was fun," Kuri-chan whispered when she came around the corner. She grabbed Midori-chan on her way out onto the stage. "Wait! You don't want to go out right now."
A sudden wall of sound slammed into Kyoko and forced her to stagger backwards. She sat down on her knees overwhelmed by the onrush.
On the other side of the stage Kyoko saw how Nao-sempai held back Nori-kun the same way as Kuri-chan had done. Then he let go and vanished from sight.
The loudspeakers on both sides of the stage rumbled in protest when the sound technician turned up the volume in an attempt to drown the audience.
It worked to a degree, but Kyoko wondered if anyone even noticed Midori-chan and Nori-kun when they made their run on the catwalk. When they returned both faces paled and Kyoko had to help Midori-chan stagger off stage while Kuri-chan and Nao-sempai went up again.
Noriko was next together with Urufu, the pros next and after them a third year girl paired with one of the third year boys. Then she had to go up with Yukio again after Kuri-chan and Nao-sempai returned from their fourth run.
Thirty seconds of madness, another thirty with models made invisible and then madness again. Three and a half thousand guests. Half of them present only for this.
Just as Kyoko was about to enter the stage again realisation hit her. 'Tomorrow's open house. We're screwed!'
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