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Aikatsu! High and Low

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"Hello! It's great to meet you, I'm Li Ren, are you the model we'll be working with today?" The tall man reached out his hand for a handshake. He smiled, showing off his pearly whites and wrinkles. YueYing smiled and reached out for the hand.

"It's wonderful to meet you, I'm Huang YueYing, it's a pleasure to work with you. Do you mind telling me what we'll be doing today?" Her smile faltered when the smile fell from the man's face; only disappointment stayed.

"Why didn't you ask your manager earlier? I don't have time explaining details you should've asked your manager for. Go get your makeup done, I'll meet you at the shooting area." He left. She had a few fingers up, gesturing to the man's back, a silent cry, then the fingers fell back cold. Perfect start. She changed into what the stylist ordered her into and walked to the makeup area. The artists seemed to not especially care for her, only caring about doing their job correctly. A woman with aquamarine curls framing her face with a little half bun keeping the curly hair in check, the lower ends of her curls were a light pastel blue. Her ears donned dangling red planets and her neck wore a starry night like choker. This woman was her manager. Clicking the chic high heels against the ground and fixing the light makeup on her face, she took a picture when the artists finished. 

"It's your start! Of course I need to take a picture, it's going to be super rare one day." She answered when YueYing gave her a weird expression. She smiled and was going to ruffle her hair, if it wasn't for one of the artists slapping her hand away, afraid it'll ruin it. "Oh sorry, I'll do it after," Manager scratched her head with her pen lightly. "You better do good, my career rides on you! Plus the CEO will be super impressed and happy if you do this successfully." 

YueYing wanted to laugh. Her mother has never once been excited nor impressed by her, why now. She knows her manager is nice, but she's cautious about who her mother will hire to watch her.

"Okay! Let's start!” The photographer yelled. The set had many props, it looked cute, it had balloons and ribbons of all shapes and colors taped to the wall. A giant fluffy teddy cat leaned against the wall with little tiny kittens beside it. ”Just go in and look like you're in a candy store.”

What? How does- hah? "Pardon?"

"Look excited, like a kid. Just- I don't know, look normal, smile, just do something. We want childish playfulness, just go be a kid" She stood with a confused look on her face, she didn't know how to be a normal kid, and the photographer took it the wrong way. "Look, just pretend we aren't here okay? Just smile cheerfully and not like..that." He motioned to the smile she put on. It didn't really look good. At all. In fact it looked like she was about to commit a crime or something of the sort. Clearly whatever she was doing is still wrong cause the frown on the photographer keeps growing. The last few poses must've taken the cake cause a little bit of red appeared where he bit his lip. "God, this is why I hate working with trained dogs. Hey, kid! Just hide your mouth with the small cats or something, we'll make it look innocent." Still, another seven minutes of flashes and poses his irritation only seem to grow. "Let's take a break."

"Good work Little Miss, I'm sure it'll be a great success," Manager said. It was obvious she was nervous, her voice was shakier than a leaf in the wind.

YueYing keeps crossing her legs and uncrossing them. "No need for sugarcoating, I know I failed. I can't smile on command nor do I know how to show being a child." She wanted to impress her mother, but every photo taken seemed to make that dream disappear.

"Are you nervous?" 

"Excuse me?" She sharply turned to her manager. Nervous? Her? Ha! What is there to be worried? She was made for this moment, she is not supposed to be nervous, she's not nervous. Not nervous not nervous not nervous no nervous no- 

Her manager sweatdropped as steam escaped from the little girl's head, is this something to overthink?

"I mean maybe you can't do it because you're too nervous. See, you're jittery." YueYing stopped crossing her legs, but that didn't seem to help since her leg started shaking on its own. "You can't properly model if you're so nervous, just, god this sounds so bad, just pretend your best friend is there. Imagine a one hundred foot puppy, I don't know." The manager hid her face in her hands. God can she actually give good advice for once? 

"I think I understand. How do I..exterminate nervousness?" 

"Err..It's not something you can kill or get rid of. It's just something we all have to face. Here I usually do this trick to get rid of it for a short bit." Manager picked up one of those facial dusters, obviously a master in makeup, and got out a foundation that's slightly lighter than YueYing's skin tone. "Since it's for modeling, I can't mess with your face that much, but can I just add some freckles-" she dipped the brush in a tiny bit of foundation and was about to make the freckles, but YueYing ducked before the dipped duster touched her face.

"No way! They will scold me if I added freckles, freckles are considered imperfections!" Manager lowered the brush, she forgot how harsh they were against anything imperfect here. 

The brush left was abandoned on the table. "Oh..right." 

YueYing calmed her nerves and relaxed a bit, she place her hand on her chin, thinking. "It's fine. Sorry, it was out of order for me to burst like that. Do you have candy or sweets? Preferably tiny." It takes a few seconds for the request to register in the manager’s mind, but when it does she dives for her bag and scrambles for her bag of candy. YueYing was about to comment how it wasn’t that urgent or anything when her manager literally dove for her bag, the words died in her throat. 

"I- Op- Yeah, here." A few colorful candies transfer from one palm to another.

YueYing sweatdropped when she noticed a small red bump underneath her manager’s chin. "Thank you." 

“You know, maybe your formality is why.” Huh? Formality? Her politeness is keeping her from doing her job correctly? She nearly scoffed, its her refinement that kept her alive this long. 

“What do you mean?” A hint of defensiveness was noticed by the other, the elder puts her hands up in surrender. 

“I mean like, you’re way too formal, in fact you kinda act like an adult or an elderly person, just let down your formalities and you know..act your age. I know classes are harsh to you, but act like children in books, carefree and innocent. Wow, that sounds way less depressing in my head.” Three arrows with the words carefree, innocent, and depressing shot through into YueYing. Highkey she was kinda annoyed.

"I’ll show you innocent and carefree..” The break was over, YueYing said so therefore it's a must. She made a march right over to the photographer and tapped on his arm lightly. She must've surprised him since he flinched, but she really can’t care right now. "Excuse me, I'm ready."

"Whatever, let's just finish." Something must've changed. Her poses were more fluent, like a leaf dancing in the wind. "Maybe she has potential after all." Another bright smile, one like maybe a child would give when a gift. Some even felt heat rise to their cheeks as they watched the adorable child pose equally cute poses. Too cute. "Hey try to show more teeth!" The smile was so big it was quite surprising it still fit on her tiny face. "Widen your eyes, it's not big enough" Another small fix, a few more flashes surround the area. "Stray hair." A quick makeup artist runs in to fix the small hair before running back to her post. "No teeth on this one." She immediately closed her mouth but still gave a tiny smile. "Wait, the umbrella smudged her mascara. Only a few more pictures left." After it was fixed, Hime's words whispered in her mind. Take risks makes it more interesting. YueYing fixes a side-glance at the camera with a wide smirk, her eyes gleamed with mischievousness. "Yes! Look at the camera that way again!" Snaps and clicks fill the air. "Perfect! These pictures are wonderful kid, great work kid." A ruffle of her hair and he’s gone. 

"What now?" YueYing asks while refusing a makeup artist attempt of taking off the makeup on her face.

"Excuse me?" The manager tilted her head, she thought this is done. How is work for the day not done?

"On the schedule, do I have any more work?" After pulling up the schedule app on her phone, the manager nearly drops it due to shock. What the..when she looked up online for rookie manager schedules to see how’d they look, she wasn't expecting this. This is way too much work. 

" You have two more shootings, then boxing, then dancing, then singing classes." Even YueYing asked to look at her phone, disbelief shrouded her eyes and voice. She scoffed at the schedule, muttering something under her breath. 

"How much time between?" 

"Since we're a little behind you can test between the car rides, just make sure to hurry the next shoot so we won't be late for boxing." 

"Mm okay, thank you for telling me" 

___

"Are you okay?” Manager asked. It’s been a month since their first photoshoot and the work only seemed to have grown since then. The faster YueYing finishes her work, the more work her mother piles onto the day. Earlier she only had to do two or three photoshoots and three classes, now it’s like four or five photoshoots and five levels. She leaves the house at six AM and gets back at past midnight. At this point her blood is just energy drinks. Though tomorrow is a lucky day, a free day.

“I’m fine.”

“You don't look fine.”

“Then stop looking.” YueYing muttered. She stared at the article dedicated towards her. Even though she knew it's a bad idea she couldn't stop herself.

 


HUANG YUEYING DEBUT: GIANT MISTAKE OR FUTURE STAR?

By Jennifer Li

 

Huang YueYing, daughter of Huang Yijing, CEO of Huang Agency, had recently debuted as a child model. Huang Yijing made statements before YueYing's debut, "I believe YueYing will have what it takes to sell out a magazine within hours." Currently the magazines starring Huang YueYing are selling nicely but not sold out in fact she isn't on the cover. This creates the question, is Huang YueYing truly going to make it big or is this overhyped lies. We asked a few bystanders and local stars the question and here are their answers.

Bystander A: I don't believe so, when looking at her I think, "Ah, maybe my daughter can enter the modeling business," you know?

Bystander B: I mean, she's very pretty and seems talented. However, it's too early to tell."

Bystander C: It's not impressive, I think her agency is hyping her too much. She isn't on the cover yet her company is saying she'll sell out. I think in the future she'll do okay, it's just her agency needs to shut it."

Star A: I don't think she's pretty enough. She has fair skin, big beautiful eyes, and a good nose. But she's..a little too chubby and her face is too rounded. Maybe after plastic surgery.

Star B: I'm rooting for her, she's seven correct? I don't feel like it's right for me to judge her when this is her first shooting. Maybe after a year or two but right now I hope for the best for her. 

Write your opinions below!

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//COMMENTS//

Yall_need_lives: Lowkey this is a dumb article 2333

Waltzing_flower: Who cares about some newbie 2333

Boii_needs_mlk: I kinda feel bad for her, she's seven right?

Golden_Leaves: These adults really need to grow up, there are wayy more important news than a hyped up kid 2333

Little_Little: @Waltzing_flower You know she's pretty important right? The agency practically put everything on her

Waltzing_flower: @Little_Little Yeah well she's still a newbie. It doesn't matter if she’s a daughter of whoever, she's inexperienced. She haven't had many photoshoots and its stupid how the media is only writing a story because of how "important" she is. She hasn't made any records or anything.

…[More comments below]


 

An elbow nudge YueYing’s side gently, if she had looked up she could have seen how concerned her manager looked at her. "Don't tell me you're actually reading that. It's made by people who like drama, don't let it get to you." 

"Nh, I know. I'm just reading for research.” Fingers scroll for another article written about her.

”Whatever helps you sleep better at night. Hey we’re almost there to the next shooting location, do you want a snack or?” Her manager brings a backpack to her face, full of fruits, veggies, and some packed sweets like candy or cookies. But her diet..

”I’m good, thanks though.” She turned to the window but the backpack followed her, she eyed the cookies, macaroons, she could smell the lemon jelly squished between the flaky cookies and creme. But..

"Forget it, it wasn't a question. What do you want to eat cause unless you want to starve to death, you're eating." The backpack was pushed so a bit of the fabric smushed against her cheek. Well, one cookie never hurt anyone before. She plucked one macaroon from the bag and took a nibble.

"I want to sleep.” She mumbled, cookie bits still being chewed. 

"We can eat after, right now you try to get some rest." A blanket was thrown towards her direction. "Can't believe this..this is the fourth photoshoot today. Honestly, this is so dumb, when you don’t have work you have to take like ten classes and when you do it’s all bunched up like this. Don’t you think so too?” The bag of snacks was back in her manager's lap, YueYing can hear the crunches of fruit or veggies underneath the blanket. She wants sleep. That's all. A thousand years maybe. Don't wanna wake up, be like sleeping beauty. 

“You tell me to rest, but how am I supposed to sleep when you keep ranting?” The bus quieted down for a few minutes. 

“Oh sorry-” A loud whisper, that doesn't even seem to qualify as a whisper but whatever, said her manager as she took one last crunch of her snack.

“I agree though, but that’s work.” YueYing mumbled already almost asleep.

“..Yeah. That’s work.” 

___

Manager sleepily opened the door. “Hey hey, what the heck, it's midnight, lights out.” She sat down on YueYing’s bed while rubbing her eyes awake. She woke up to use the bathroom but found the kid awake and working. It’s been two months since she started working as her manager, and just this month she had moved into the Huang household. She was told it was more efficient this way, but she still paid her rent for her apartment in case.

“I can’t, I have homework due tomorrow, you go to sleep first." The kid didn't even spare her a glance, if noticed, she’s half asleep on the kid’s beanbag. Itś so soft and fluffy, it's calling her name- No! She mustn't sleep! She must make the kid sleep or else she'll be extra cranky tomorrow, and she can only take care of one kid at a time. She’ll let you guess who’s the other kid.

"Hah? How can I, the adult, sleep before the child? That's just wrong! I'll stay up with you." She says this, but she's sprawled all over the beanbag.

"So why do you work as my manager?" That question woke her up. 

"What do you mean why? I was assigned to you, duh." To be honest, it's a creepier answer. When she heard her favorite model’s kid is also joining the agency she had to apply. She knew when YueYing grows up, she’ll grow up successful like her mother, and she wanted to see it with her two eyes. 

"No I mean, why do you want to work for my mother's company? What is it that appeals to you that other agencies don't have?" YueYing was working on math when Manager barged into her room. She wants tonight to be the last night of not trusting her manager. She knows the relationship between employees is vital to having a good time; she needs to ensure she has sort of..fun? Enjoyment? Enjoyment, that's the word. Anxiety clutched to her like a parasite to a host. 

A few minutes later, she received her answer. "I guess it's just the charm of it all. I'm guessing you don't know your mother that well but she's my role model." The lead on YueYing’s pencil snapped. Horror coursed its way throughout her body. Role model. The definition is an example to be followed, an idol, a mentor, a hero. Her mother? A hero? The words only seem to swirl on repeat in her mind, how can her mother be a hero? Is- 

Is her manager like her mother?

"She used to be a supermodel for China's magazines and runways, then she made Huang Agency. Knowing that, how can I not work for my favorite celebrity?" Her mechanical pencil in her hand broke. Her manager is still talking about how wonderful her mother is with adoration in her voice, but it's foreign to her, like she's speaking mandarin but isn't, she can't understand. Why can't she understand? 

”Why can’t you follow my orders without question, useless child!” 

A quick gasp escaped her lips. She slowly turns to her manager and she's no longer there, it's her mother. Her red-faced, screaming, wooden hanger in hand mother.

”Can’t you be like Grace Liu, look at her, beautiful, talented, smart. You’re nothing compared to her.” 

The scene changed, they're no longer in her pastel plush filled room, she remembers this room. It was her first recital. She froze due to pressure. Her mother grabbed her right shoulder and started shaking her violently. Her mother's hand raised with palms out and it looked like she was about to-

"Can you just shut up already? I have to listen to a bunch of dogs already, I don't need another one." 

The scene changed again. This time she's sitting on the cold hard wooden floor of the dance room. She was complaining about how her leg hurts, and her mother snapped. Her mother turned around and made way to the door, her three-inch stilettos clicked on the floor, she opened the door and slammed. 

Slam

Slam

Slam

Slammedlikeeverytimeyoutriedtotalktoher-

"Not knowing my mother that well. What a joke." She muttered to no one.

"Excuse me?!" Her head snapped to her manager's voice. The manager was holding onto her shoulder gently. She was back in her room. YueYing pushed her manager’s hand off and got up from the chair. Her manager’s mouth moved but no sound. A sudden headache wrecks her mind; she falls to the floor, clutching her hair. She looks back up, her mother was next to her, her gray eyes are so dull and lifeless. YueYing kicks herself back, the pain when she hit her bed’s wooden border was insignificant, she wanted to get away. Mother took a step.

”Stop, stop, stop! No, you stupid child, you don't get to decide what you want to play. Guitar is the instrument for peasants, we’re higher-classed, thus why we must play graceful beautiful music."

A guitar was smashed in front of her. Cords sprung and broken wooden boards bits flew into the air.

"Why weren't you paying attention in class?! If you can't even do a simple thing like that, you'll be failing in life.”

Papers fell from above, she picked one up and it was a test, the score was ninety nine. It was ripped out of her hands by her mother.

"Oh my god, just stop, this is hurting my ears. Are you learning anything from any of your singing classes? What you just sang sounded like a suffocating whale, try again!”

A mic and its cord fell to the ground with a deafening whine. The mic rolled to her, it was her Aunt's favorite mic. She got it on her birthday and used it during recital practice, her mother broke it.

“Ugh, just stop, you’re tired, I get it, but I’m tired from all your whining. I work twenty times harder than you just so you have this luxurious life, you have absolutely nothing to complain about!”

Too close too close her mother is too close. Her mother continued looking down at her. She crouched, got into a batting position, wooden hanger still gripped. 

Nononononononononononononononoplease-

YueYing impulsively sheltered her head with her arms and immediately crumpled into a ball and-

”YueYing?” Hero. Model. Favorite. Love. Adoration. You don't know your mother like I do. You don't know you don't know you don't know you don't know you don't know you don't know.

Stupid.

She swings her arm, hitting nothing but air, her manager wasn’t even near her. Her manager is still beside her desk, frozen. YueYing bare her teeth and growl, it’s near animalistic. "You assume I don't know my mother that well? Please I know she entered modeling as a teen and she tried to become an idol as well but failed horribly. I know all her scandals and screw-ups by heart and I don't know her enough? I know her real personality, a far cry from the plastic one she puts up for interviewers. Get out of my room." Something snapped. It feels like an out of body experience, is this voice really hers? Her voice was so soft, so gentle the wind could even blow her voice away but..it's so..cold.

"Look I get that you have beef with your mother but-" 

”Stupid brat! Mistake! You ruined my life! I should’ve gotten rid of you-”

"No! Get the heck out of my room! You don't know what I've been through with her, therefore out of the two of us you're the stupid one!" She pushed her manager to the door, hot tears were running down her cheeks and her hair was a mess, her manager looked at her with...an expression. She doesn’t know what, maybe disgust? But it's far too sad to be disgust.

"Stupid?! When did I ever call you stupid?" The manager yelled, gripping at the door frame in order to prevent being pushed out. Her eyes widened at the sight. YueYing..when she first met her, she was refined, elegant. She was the calmest waters the whole world has seen. Now, the manager doesn’t know what to do. Tears are pouring down the kid’s face, her eyes are red and puffy, her hair- oh her hair- is so messed up it looks like a bird’s nest, even drool was escaping her mouth due to how hard she was crying. She looks like the embodiment of enmity.

"Get out!" Her fingers were plucked away from the doorframe and the door slammed. The manager was slightly surprised how everyone was able to sleep, they were loud. “Of course she wouldn’t get it. I knew it." YueYing’s voice was quiet and muffled but she still heard it clear as bells. They both sat beside the door, one was sobbing, the other trying to understand.

I knew it?

___

"What happened to the other manager?" YueYing asked the new manager, a woman with wavy bleach blonde hair and hot pink cat nails. The woman looked at her for a second, her ace is caked with makeup, before stuffing her face back into her phone.

"Oh, she resigned as your manager. She still works for the company though." New manager said, not looking up at her sickly pink phone.

"Oh." Guilt bubbled, YueYing didn't mean to say, well she did, she didn't want the manager to leave, though she understands why. She's too messed up and complicated. Too hard on anyone. 

"You have dancing, singing, violin, piano, mathematics, language, and english today. Are you ready to go?" Frantic harsh taps follow after, the sound is absolutely dreadful, it's like a tick of a bomb.

"I- Yes!" Throwing her bag into the back she runs into the car.

___

"Do you usually drive for her?" The new manager asked the driver while a tiny girl slept in the back. She popped a piece of gum into her mouth.

The driver looked back to the new manager before focusing on the road, he didn't have a death wish afterall. "Yeah, why?" 

"Is she usually this quiet? It's kinda creepy." She asked, glancing at the sleeping girl before scrunching up her nose in disgust. 

"Eh, she starts talking when she warms up to you. Just don't get into a fight with her, hear the other girl resign cause she got into a big fight with her.” The driver kind of felt bad for both the kid and manager, as a father he experienced a tired kid, they snap like rubber bands. After three years of driving the little miss around she's always tired, yet the manager, at least rumors at the agency, didn't really say anything bad.

“Ehh? What a spoiled brat.” She chews loudly, stirring the girl awake.

___

“I can’t believe you’re transferring..What will happen to Luminas?”

“I don’t know, I’m sorry for leaving but I want to go. I’ll be transferring next semester but I don’t think I can improve here.”

“..I understand though. Just promise one day when you graduate we'll still be Luminas, okay?" A pinky finger extended out, pink eyes glittering in the sunset and a half-smile was offered to the other. 

"Okay." A pinky finger wrapped around the other, finishing the promise. 

"What school are you transferring to?"

"Four Star Academy.