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SOU MIYANE - Southern District: Galaxy

Even if the concert had been a cacophony of same-rhythmed rabble, it was difficult to forget the boy before her. Dissonant piercings, striking hair. The type of look she and Daehyun fawned over in their youth, when that punk-emo stuff was all the rage.

No wonder he liked the kid.

A wince cut through the façade when Yuudai used the stage name, noticeable for a more excruciating second when he mentioned the ‘earlier works’. She covered with a quick bow of her own.

“Oh, thank you. They’re…”

---

Yujin rapped on the doorframe, raising an eyebrow at the scene inside.

“<<What’s with her?>>”

Sooyoung stopped prodding the sullen mass under the blanket. Miyane could hear her trying to suppress her grin.

“<<They just made her listen to the next title track.>>”

“<<I’m MOURNING,>>” Miyane shrieked from her fortress of solitude, the other two girls soon choking from laughter.


---

“They’re certainly classics,” she chuckled gracefully.

Her smile was far too stiff.
SOU MIYANE - Southern District: Galaxy

“<<Quite a crowd,>>” she observed.

Daehyun whistled. “<<Was that a compliment?>>”

Miyane rolled her eyes.

“<<Gotta cut that vacation short, Miya-ssi, you’re getting too mellow.>>”

The light in the backstage area was dim, colors only occasionally filtering across her features, constantly morphed by stage hands, technicians rushing back and forth in the last minutes before the showtime. Even so, the glare she shot the actor-dancer was unimpeded in its intensity. Daehyun raised his hands in surrender.

“<<They’ve been getting big,>>” he explained, “<<The numbers are about expected. Just enjoy the tunes, yeah? Drum solo’s killer.>>”

He wasn’t wrong. For a bunch of fresh indie-label signees, they were… competent. Audience and staff alike were entranced. Even from the angle she was looking, the excitement in the mosh pit was clear as day. Miyane wished she could share in that feeling. Years of training, devotion to perfection, spoke otherwise.

While everyone revelled in the passion of the performance, her gaze zeroed in with distaste. The way the frontman swayed. The way he jumped when the drums went into overdrive. Stiff, tacky. The way his ‘ah’s didn’t round out when the pitch was too high. Sloppy. The nitpicking went on, shame stockpiling in the back of her mind as the songs went on. She just couldn’t watch a performance like a normal person. Was this because she was a professional? Or because someone else was on the stage?

Then the applause came. It was the hardest part to get through.

Miyane wasn’t sentimental. Miyane was rational. She knew there couldn’t be more than three or five hundred in the live house, a quantity didn’t even begin to compare to an arena - hell, most of the stages she dominated back in the international scene.
Her heartbeat was thunderous, nevertheless.

The booming, small in number but gargantuan in enthusiasm, echoed through the live house, reverberating in every corner. Inescapable. Her eyes were wide open, not from the ecstasy in the air but the fear of the image that would consume her if they closed. A memory once fond, now just a reminder of the emptiness that replaced it.

A night in 2014, Tokyo Dome. Deafening and blinding and exhilarating, seconds after the night’s final song. Miyane’s breath was course, mind never so awake. Hands sticky, but devotedly clamped to her anchors that kept her from getting swept away by the adoration of thousands of strangers. If she turned to the left she’d see grateful tears trickling past Chaewon’s nose. This applause belonged to them. Miyane thought that happiness would drown the eight of them that night. But that was okay. As long as their hands were still in hers, she was unstoppable.

Then someone squeezed her shoulder.

Miyane blinked, vaguely recognizing Daehyun’s knowing smirk before he stepped past to congratulate the band members coming off. The show was over.

With Daehyun’s back towards her, amongst a sea of stage hands – nobodies – Miyane stood alone, barely noticed.
SOU MIYANE - Central District: Takamagahara
Collab with @Erode

“<<Morning, Miyane-ssi. Slept well?>>”

She'd stopped finding his greasy pretension endearing a long time ago.

"<<It was shit.>>" She spoke simply. "<<Building got locked down.>>"

There was a bark of laughter on the other end. "<<Unflappable as ever, huh? Anything explode?>>"

"<<No, it was just some... some idiot on the floor above pounding away at something.>>"

Miyane sighed.

"<<Like when you lived with Chanhyuk, and the bastard never put the soundproofing in his practice room like he said he would.>>"

"<<Not so spotless after all, hm? Was beginning to think Ohta was a robot.>>"

A creeping satisfaction tilted the corner of her lips upwards.

"<<Hey, you could still learn a thing or two from him.>>"

"<<Father Crime doesn't mesh with cardboard landlord, I'd say.>>"

Miyane giggled. "<<What are you doing now?>>"

"<<Hanging with a friend. Shoot got cancelled today due to some electronic shit.>>"

What was with all the electronics going haywire recently? "<<Do I know them?>>"

"<<Wanna find out?>>"

"<<Sure. Need to kill time before Miori comes over.>>" She glanced at the Okinawan. "<<Though we'll likely have to find a restaurant somewhere.>>"

The Okinawan guard noticed her glance and smiled back.

"<<Mm, just head on over here. I know a place that does good delivery.>>" The smirk could practically be heard in Daehyun's voice. "<<Even if they have terrible naming sense.>>"

"<<Why, what is it?>>"

"<<Peaceful Lung Fat.>>"

"<<Jesus.>>"

"<<Chinese ex-pats,>>" Daehyun said, by way of explanation. "<<Their Sichuan chicken's something else though.>>"

"<<Mm.>>" Daehyun always liked the weird ones. "<<Okay, I'll tell Miori. Send me where you are now.>>"

His friend was going to do a stage at that big live house, Galaxy. Not her kind of scene, too heavy. The types that performed there - all underground and metal - didn't hold much regard for idols, and Miyane had no obligation to sway people who refused to acknowledge how much of herself she gave to the industry, prim and plastic as it was. The surrounding neighbourhood wasn't much to draw her in either.

Miyane frowned. Daehyun always liked the weird ones.

Whatever. If she was going to have to deal with civilians there...

She felt the unimpressed stare click into place.

The Okinawan paused her train of thought to hustle forward and open the door to the cab. Unmoved as she was, he was acknowledged with a slight nod from the pop star.

"Thank you..." Miyane trailed, "I apologise, what is your name?"

"Taira Asahi, Sou-san."

"Thank you, Taira-san."

Polite, but clean and detached. Miyane stepped into the vehicle and let the veneer of 8team's Ice Princess settle over her as the cab trundled forward.
SOU MIYANE - Central District: Tamakagahara

Miyane had good ears. It was part of the job, part of the training.

Torso upright. Breathe before the sixth bar. Put more chest into that ad-lib.

She needed her ears for that. They worked her to be aware, drove perfectionism into her like a stake. Her mistakes were her own. It was her responsibility to correct them, no one else’s.

She wished these dipshits could think the same way.

The background muttering of ‘fire’ and ‘break-in’ raised an eyebrow, along with a strong curse that she barely managed to hold behind her teeth.

“Yes, I’ll take the escort.”

The Okinawan from the gate arrived within a few long minutes, accompanied by three other guards. Seemed like some consideration was being given at least. They weren’t completely braindead.

The elevator wasn’t an option. They took the stairs. The men were… calm. Strangely so. Not that Miyane wanted a major emergency taking place in her place of residence but if she found out that she was being hurried out for something inconsequential then this security detail was in for a bad time.

She didn’t find out about anything.

“We’re still investigating, this is just a precaution for now.”

A taxi was offered. She declined. A squawk on the radio sounded through between ground and first floor. They took the emergency exit.

She found herself outside, the scene as innocuous as her exit. No sirens, no squadrons.

Nothing to do on this nothing day.

It was only a matter of time before it would inevitably kick in. Solitude only became unmanageable when she was surrounded by other people. The cafe didn't seem so appealing anymore. Neither did karaoke.

"You'll be notified once we're certain nothing serious has occurred."

Comforting. So what now? She didn’t particularly feel like interacting with Hyejin after the debacle in the plaza. Miori hadn’t been an option for a long time.

Miyane sighed and placed her phone to her ear.

“<<Daehyun-ah, you busy?>>”
SOU MIYANE - Central District: Takamagahara
Collab with @Erode

“<<Morning, Miya-ssi! Slept well? Are Miori-ssi and her kids over yet?>>”

"<<No, they're-->>" Geez, what time was it now? Miyane grimaced as more thumps sounded through. "<<No, not yet.>>"

"<<Oh, what's up then?>>" There was silence for a moment, as if Hyejin were straining her ears. "<<Are you...cooking?>>"

"<<...No.>>" How the hell did she get cooking? "<<Something's wrong with the door. Keypad must have fried.>>"

"<<Keypad? Weren't those supposed to unlock when broken? Did you call security about it?>>"

Miyane blinked. That... no, that couldn't be right.

Her voice remained level. "Can you give me their number?"

"<<Mm...not off the top of my head,>>" Hyejin replied, "<<Maybe it's in the Welcome packet you got when you moved in?>>"

"<<Urgh, fine.>>"

She kept Hyejin on the phone as she moved back to the bedroom and rummaged through her drawers. It was buried under a pile of mementos from the girls. Things she wasn't meant to reflect on. She closed the drawer hastily and dialed the number.

"Hello, Takamagahara security? Sou Miyane from Building 3. Fifth floor. There's a problem with the door, the keypad is broken and it won't open."

The ruckus upstairs continued. Miyane's expression soured.

"I'd also like to make a complaint about the occupant of the sixth floor."
Interested
SOU MIYANE - Central District: Tamagakahara

…Thump.

“<<Chaewon-ah! You don’t have to do that Godzilla impression every goddamn morning, you know?>>”

Thump. …Thump!

“<<6am is a bit much, even for her.>>”

Thump.

“<<I knowww. We don’t even have a comeback soon…>>”

“<<Miya-unnie, have you seen Sooyoung-ie anywhe—argh, she’s going to use all the hot water again!>>”


T H U M P .

---

A grizzly-like moan echoed through her bedroom, groggy and pained. Who the fuck was—

THUMP.

Upstairs. Why? Miyane flicked through her mental database, trying to remember anything about her neighbour. No result. Disappointing, though that wasn’t a surprise. Kaneko-san was the only person she regularly met on the elevators due to general lack of usage.

THUMP THUMP.

She tried waiting it out. A few minutes later and it was the same sporadic nightmare. God, if they were going to be an asshole then the least they could do was be rhythmically consistent about it. No other option then. Grumbling all the way, Miyane got dressed. She’d just have to wait it out in one of the nearby cafes.

Investigating the disruption herself wasn’t even an option that crossed her mind. Either way, the door refused to budge.

Miyane frowned and tried again. Pulled harder. Tried pushing it for good measure.

“Are you kidding me—” she hissed.

She grabbed her phone from her handbag and hit the quick dial for Hyejin.
SOU MIYANE - Central District: Tamagakahara

Miyane forced her eyes open.

Sleep. Ah, when did she sleep last night? Was she doing anything today? She pulled her phone from beneath the pillow, blearily skimming over the clock. Still socially acceptable. Barely.

Her notifications feed had been scarce for a while. Company calendars, team schedules, upcoming shoots, they’d all trickled to a near-stop. Currently, the only messages of any importance were…



A selca from Daehyun. Ignored.

Hyejin meeting another studio. Maybe later.

And a message from her sister. Miori and the boys were going to be a bit late for weekly dinner tonight. Something about an accident delaying Sousuke’s karate tournament. Well, that worked for Miyane.

With a relaxed sigh, the former idol flopped back into the sheets.
SOU MIYANE - Central District: Tamagakahara

Miyane waved back. She didn’t stick around to watch the car take its leave.

Upstairs, she was greeted by the familiar silence. Not exactly comfortable with its presence but… it was here. And so was she. It was a far cry from the old dorms in Seoul, a flat half this size and with seven other girls mucking around, cooking or watching dramas or fighting over the hot water. The memory was extinguished as her handbag flopped onto the six-seater sofa, shortly followed by Miyane herself. A sigh escaped as she let her eyes shut.

Hyejin was likely returning to her own apartment after her phone was repaired. Daehyun just started his last week of filming. It was still a few days too soon for Miori’s weekly visit.

She had half a thought to invite Kaneko-san upstairs if they met again. The idea prompted an incredulous chuckle.

Guess it was just her tonight. With another sigh, a drama was loaded up on the LCD in front of her.

Something to cut through the silence.
@ERode

Ah, my bad. Edited accordingly.
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