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Aikatsu! High and Low

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”Tell me, come on, please please please tell me again about the story about the masked idols!” The little girl wiggling around in the lady’s lap, arms swinging everywhere, one almost hitting the lady if it wasn’t for her grabbing the girl’s arms and settling them down. The lady sighed, she was getting too old for this, this girl is going to be the end of her. It's nearly 9 PM and the girl only needs to have her hair brushed before sleeping, this was supposed to take five minutes they said.

”Again? I've been telling you this story almost every day for a year now, aren't you tired of hearing it by now?” Exasperation is dripping from her voice, it really has been over a year and nearly everyday she’d been telling this story. At this point the lady was considering getting a voice recorder for the girl to get bored of the story herself.

”Never never! I want to hear about the idols again! The ones that sing behind a mask!” The lady groaned. Hopefully never, never happens or else she really will invest in that voice recorder.

“Fine fine! But you tell no one you hear this okay? Your mother would never let me hear the end of it,” the girl nodded vigorously, eyes sparking like a puppy’s, and for once quiet and still, the lady started brushing the girl's smooth black hair, “Long time ago, there was to be two idols that used to rule the world with their voice. Wherever they traveled concerts would be sold out, whatever they wanted is created at their fingertips, and whatever they wanted to do they shall. This was the power these two idols held, but one day they decided to end their stardom. They realized their fame will not last forever and to ensure a safe future, they decided to end their idol activities. One took off their mask and became the face of a school, the other..well no one knows she disappeared into thin air.” At the end of the story, the girl was always near tears, tonight being no exception. The lamp’s flame flickering as another voice rang out calling out a name, but the girl didn’t hear she was too into the story.

“I don’t get it, they’re legends but they’re scared that fame will just..slip through so that’s why they stopped?” The lady smiled, slightly proud at the observant kid, “Well..fear makes you do many wild things, yet I’m sure fear wasn’t the main reason but wanting a new different life was it Ying Ying.” The girl’s cheeks tinted pink at the nickname, ah oh how the lady loved to make the girl embarrassed if it made her this cute, she just wanted to pinch those chubby cheeks-

“Well why did you quit Auntie? Weren’t you an idol when the legendary idols were around? Did you want to do something else other than sing too?” Freezing, the Aunt stopped brushing, she never really wanted to tell her that story until she was older or at the very least, know how to forgive. The voice outside the wooden doors started to get louder, more demanding, less humane. Chills running down her spine as fear inserted itself into her bloodstream, the aunt was seriously considering if the person outside was a monster or human. Ah maybe she should go run away but that nutcase will just hunt her down, ahhhhhh..

"Ying Ying, haven't I told you it's a small reason? It's a different story for another time, Ying Ying. Besides your mother is calling for you, remember don’t mention anything to her okay,” the girl’s face held a slight offended look, “Psh you worry too much Auntie! As if I’ll tell Mother about it, she’s way too boring to care anyway.” The little girl rose to her feet, her height being 3’3”, she whipped her head to look at her Aunt's face. Her long, straight, shiny black hair that almost reached her knees wring along her body, following her sharp turn. Her large blue eyes, nearly identical to mirrors that one could see their reflection in her blank eyes, searched for anything on her Aunt’s face, only finding contradictions. Mouth smiling yet it didn't reach her eyes, eyes warm but her skin is paler than paper, and her head seems still and tranquil however her hands shake like a withering leaf in the wind. It was expected to see fear in her Aunt, it was her mother outside those sliding doors and only god knows what she’ll do. She’s a powder keg about to explode and Ying was the only one that can lighten the load, so.

“Yeah..I hope so.” It was barely a whisper, yet no one heard it. The girl already shut the door and made her way to her mother. The little girl, her niece, the young age of six, is the daughter of her sister, a monster hiding in a human body, the one who forced her to quit her career of an idol. But of course, it's a story for another day. Placing the brush in the drawer and wiping away any built-up tears on her face, she left the room. In the closed drawer, it contained a picture, a picture a blue-gray haired girl with rainbows and excitement in her eyes along with an older black-haired girl with big sea-blue eyes. Both wearing arrays of pinks and purples, hair decorated with shooting stars colored in pastel colors, dresses fluffing out frills and bows, and both standing with pride. The glass frame is dull and cracked.

“YueYing where were you? Why did you not answer immediately after I called out for you,” tumbling dark curls wave back and forth with the voice, “I’m deeply sorry Mother, I was resting in my room and I woke up after your calls for me. Please forgive me, this will never happen again.” Sharp blue eyes narrowed at the little girl before her, her daughter, before slapping her right cheek. The crisp sound echoed. A tiny hand slid onto the red mark, touching it delicately, and YueYing’s eyes widened as large blobs of water ran down her face due to shock. YueYing’s mother flicked her hand as if she was throwing off any filth left on her when making contact with Ying’s cheek. A small tch leaked out of the mother’s mouth, repulse filling her navy blue eyes. The woman is pale-skinned, with long black wavy hair, dressed with high-end clothing only the rich may own, and if YueYing’s eyes are mirrors her Mother’s are stormy clouds pouring rain. “Do not try to spread my patience even thinner, first you don’t answer immediately, and now you’re lying to my face. Tell me what you were doing YueYing immediately or else I’m doubling your schedule for the next year.” YueYing bit her cheek, her hand against her right cheek became a fist, and her other hand clutched her nightgown so hard it’s about to tear. She smiles.

”It’s the truth Mother, I truly was sleeping in my room-,” another loud tch, “Clearly I was too soft with you, you’re lying to my face. Go to your room now and think upon your actions." Mother turned her heel away from YueYing.

YueYing blanched when her mother is an earshot away. She hated her mother due to the restrictions of time with Auntie, forcing her to take three instruments, and tutors in every subject imaginable; including many more. Every waking hour is spent working like a slave, honestly she is a slave in this household. “You aren’t working hard enough,” or, “you aren’t good enough,” always pounded into her mind everyday by her mother. YueYing stood up and walked back to her room. She sat down in her bed, kicking her blanket until she was satisfied and thought,

Whatever, anything for Auntie.

[10 months later]

“What do you mean she quits!? Our contract says she’s under this agency for another two years! Tell her to shut her mouth cause I own her for two more years!” A loud bang rang throughout the large extravagant room, that was the phone hitting the nearest wall. “I’m surrounded by complete imbeciles that are running my agency to the mud!” The black-haired woman screamed, pushing the large stack of papers, bills, off her dalbergia wood desk. “Twelve idols quitting and suing me for termination, nearly all my models quitting to find “better agencies,” and all but two actors leaving! What is going on in this agency?!” The two ladies, managers, cowered as their boss approached them, eyes screaming murder. “You two, tell the scouters I’m doubling their work, I need more replacements for the trash that left this place.” They left immediately, nearly running.

The shareholders of the agency called for an emergency meeting to discuss the future of the agency and what must be done. After the meeting the woman locked the CEO room and paced around, thinking hard for a way to save her company from becoming the next Titanic. She tied her loose wavy black hair into a high bun as her pale fingers tapped against the desk harshly. “I need someone dedicated and actually have hope in getting it big,” the woman bit her perfectly manicured nails, “but where..we’ve gained too much of a bad reputation in this past few months with everyone leaving. How..” Her stormy blue eyes had a strike of lightning, lighting it up, and a feral smile curled onto her face. “Oh I know.”

Chapter Text

“Are you serious? I’m barely seven and don’t have any training to become a model. Why are you asking me to become one?” YueYing asks as she tries to walk at the same rate as her mother. YueYing can't believe her ears, is fate really that cruel to her? What had she done in her past life to deserve such an awful life?

“Which makes you perfect YueYing, you are a child, the perfect mold to become a model while others start later in life you’ll have a head start. Imagine how famous you’ll grow as you mature, you could expand into an actor or an idol.” YueYing’s mother said, continuing forward down the hallways to get back into her office while trying to shake off her pest of a daughter. She doesn't comprehend why YueYing can't just agree and continue with her day. Anger is slowly surging upward in her body, traveling to her brain, as YueYing continues to argue against her.

“I don’t want to be anything! I’m busy with Violin, Piano, Guzheng, and basically twenty tutors for different subjects I learn in school anyway. How am I going to push in modeling and training for that in my schedule?” YueYing is honestly tired to her bones, she wants a break, not a job and more work to do that job. She's only seven, surely this fact can't escape her mother's mind, can it? She must have some sort of pity, right? YueYing is right, right?

“I’m going to pull you out of school,” YueYing's eyes widen into dinner plates, “like you said you’re learning everything from your tutors anyway so there’s no reason for me spending money at schooling and you wasting time there.” These words slip out of mother's mouth so smoothly, as if it was slathered with butter. Is this karma, the thought flew through YueYing's mind, there's no way she's serious. Her mother who demanded one hundred on anything, will take her out of school to exploit her? This surely can't be her mother.

“Mother no! Please, I just don’t want to be a model, I want to enjoy what I have,” then the anger reached the Mother's mind and overrode all other senses.

“Guess what YueYing, your enjoyment equals to my company falling and it’ll be your fault. I don’t understand why you’re fighting against this, you’re trading away school for fame, nearly every kid out there would do that.” Mother jabs her finger in YueYing's direction as she slowly crumple up into a smaller form, hiding from her infuriated mother. Mother was about to slam the door shut, but YueYing inserts her hands onto the edge of the door to stop it. Tears flowed down YueYing's face as she stared at Mother's face, scanning for any sympathy or any acceptable emotion for her. She found none.

“I’m not every kid out there Mother, I’m your kid, why aren’t you satisfied with everything I’ve done,” YueYing pulled at the door's edge will all her might to keep Mother from slamming the door in front of her.

“Tch, did what? Survive? Remember your place in this world YueYing, you’ve been living in my wealth your whole seven years and this is how you pay me back. Disappointing.” Fingers let go of the door and a loud slam echoed throughout the halls. In shock, she let go. She let go of her past childhood life, and the door for that just slammed in her face.

A sniffle rings around the house. Then a loud sob. Sitting improperly, YueYing starts bawling in front of the door. The pain on her fingers burn throughout her body and her head is starting to get dizzy by her screeches. She stops for a couple of seconds, gasping for breath, before resuming her crescendo. Her lungs felt inside out and her head was tingling.

“You’re becoming a model no matter what YueYing, I don’t care what you have going on in school that’s holding you back but opportunity only knocks on the door once.” The voice was muffled, the mother dared not go out or else she'll be cursed with the image of her daughter crying pathetically. She’d rather keep the image of her daughter being strong and prideful, not some wailing, snot-nosed brat outside her door.

“I don’t even have friends in school! There’s nothing holding me back, why don’t you get that!?..I just want to enjoy my childhood..what don’t you get..?”

“If you have no ties to anyone, then I see no problem.”

[Somewhere in Japan, a week later]

“Hime-chan I’m sorry but can I call in a favor? My beautiful niece is alone again this weekend, she’s no trouble and she’ll be very happy if someone as cute as you babysit her for the day. Yeah..I’m sorry to ask since tomorrow is your only day off in China. Eh? Does she know any Japanese? Uhmmm...possibly, I’m not sure if my sister gave her any tutors for that. Sorry sorry..” Tiny giggles fill in the background. The woman on the phone glare at the other, daring her to continue laughing and suffer later. Giggles still continue.

“Really?! You’ll do it? Thank you so so much! I’m currently visiting an old friend of mine in Japan and can’t watch my niece tomorrow. I’m sure she has nannies or butlers but they’re so dead inside, you know? Barely any emotion! Anyway sorry for rambling, thank you for doing it! Bye-bye.” The black-haired lady put her phone down and pointed to the other’s neck before doing a cutting motion with her thumb, meaning death.

“Please you love me too much to kill me.”

A sigh escaped from brunette, “if you keep provoking me I will cut your gray-blue hair, maybe make you bald.” The lady grabbed her gray-blue hair and hissed, a sign to the other to keep away from her luscious locks.

“Now where were we Yukino-chan? You were talking about growing wisterias in your garden?”

Hands clap together, "Yes! I’ve heard wisterias were popular with my brother’s idols so I wanted to grow some. Do you have any suggestions where I can get some Yunlu-chan?”

Back in China, the next day was beautiful. Birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, and a limo pulled up on the mansion’s gate. The blonde dramatically pulled her sunglasses off and placed her hand over her head, blocking out the sunlight.

“Excuse me is this the Huang household? I’m Shiratori Hime, and I’m YueYing babysitter.” The girl had long blond hair, near platinum, with a cute whipped-cream like bun on her head. Big cerulean-blue eyes, a pretty white smile, and a small face, all features that further underlined her beauty. The front-gate guard merely stared at her for a second before looking away.

“Rìběn?.. (Japanese?..)” The guard was slightly confused, why hire a Japanese person when the little lady doesn’t know much Japanese? “You? You’re a kid, stop joking with me.” Lowkey, Hime was getting pretty annoyed. She’s young, so people don’t take her seriously. Honestly she would love nothing more than to throw away her perfect, little, angel fallen from heaven persona and kick the guard’s shin with her two-inch wedges.

She took out her phone, “Of course not sir, I have Ma Yunlu messages of me babysitting YueYing..” She smiled, she gotta keep her image or else some paparazzi from nowhere will expose her.

“As long as you have her permission, good luck with that one,” that comment really threw her off. She was told this was easy, and if this job isn’t easy Yunlu will have an earful of whining.

“What do you mean? I thought she was a good kid.” The guard wanted to laugh, but he kept his composure.

“That one? She’s as spoiled as rotten cheese plus not to mention she doesn’t speak to you at all unless it’s a command. Good luck.” He opened the gate for her, and, oh my god, the mansion is so pretty. On the outside, it had an art-deco look to it with the traditional Chinese line designs as the balcony fence, gate, roof, and on the door frame. Along the marble stairs, there are bonsai trees, various types of flowers, and even a pond that has lotus flowers and lilypads, overall this house screams money. When she entered the house she wanted to squeal with excitement, Yunlu always mentioned how beautiful her Niece's house was but she never imagined this. The inside looked traditional yet modern, sliding wooden doors with delicate carvings of dragons and flowers, a shrine with many scented stick candles, two-penny walls, large paintings with golden frames, an outside area for a few potted plants and stone table, and not to mention the many paper and metal lanterns scattered everywhere. ESome of the frames were made of gold, cool to the touch but so so smooth.

"Hello? This is Ma Yunlu speaking-"

"You've never told me that your house is this expensive! I'm scared of bumping into something and slaving my life away to pay it back." Laughter is heard on the other side.

"Then don't." Yunlu hung up. She lifted her arm to smash it against the ground, but no, it's expensive and she can't afford to break another one.

Tightly gripping her phone, she walked up the stairs and wandered around, she had no idea where she's going, as long as she walks she'll get somewhere.

"Nǐhao, nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?"

A little yelp escaped from Hime, the voice scared her. It was a little black-haired girl, “Hello, what's my name, right?" The girl nodded, "my name is Shiratori Hime, I’m your babysitter.” She nodded before turning around, she gestured her to follow, silent. "You can talk, I won't stop you." YueYing looked at her with a deadpan expression, before walking away again. "Ohh you can only speak in Mandarin!"

YueYing released some kind of dying noise.

---
“Pfft, what kind of kanji is this? It’s all squiggles,” Hime holds up the large paper notebook laughing at the saddest excuse of Japanese kanji she has ever seen. YueYing's cheeks bloom red, embarrassed.

She spoke into a phone then a dead robotic sprang out and spat, "You're Japanese correct? Why are you in China?" Hime was going to use a translator app to talk back but the voice interrupted her, "I can understand spoken Japanese, I can't read nor write in Japanese."

“I’m an idol in a school in Japan, I have a photoshoot in China for a magazine so that’s why I’m here. So how’d you learn to understand Japanese?” Hime didn't the way her eyes look blank, she could usually tell a person's emotions by their eyes, she can't with those glass-like eyes. It was kinda creepy.

“My Mother said-”

“I get it, your mom forced you, right? It’s good that you can understand it, I’m sorry for not knowing more Mandarin I only know a few phrases to survive a.k.a to eat." A cough, that Hime theorize is secretly a laugh, filled the room. She placed a hand over her mouth, but she can still see the little lift of her lips.

“Why are you an idol when you’re that old?”

“Ugh, you make it sound like I’m too adult to be an idol when I’m only twelve.. Anyway idol training is really hard, dancing and singing take a long time to learn and to improve. That’s why I had to start young, so I don’t fall behind my peers and can be a good role model. I loved singing, dancing, making people happy, and being an idol made me able to do all three. Through being an idol is really hard and many people are mean in your journey, it all pays off to see so many smiling faces.” Hime's heart fluttered when twinkles appeared in YueYing's eyes. She got a bad vibe whenever Yunlu would talk about her sister and meeting her daughter confirmed all those thoughts. She just wanted to hug her pain away.

"Really? Tell me more about yourself." But the eyes aside, having a monotone robotic voice say whatever YueYing is saying while she has this excited puppy look, is really funny.

"Well I'm good at piano, this is my second year as an idol in school. Before I went to Four Stars Academy I was tutored in piano, singing, and dancing as a kid. Oh, your Aunt also helped me learn how to sing better back in my first year. She really saved my butt in the competition.” Oh the memories, lowkey Hime hated and loved her first year. Loved it being she was an idol for the first time, she was so excited. Hated it because it was so embarrassing, she can never forget the amount of voice cracks she had. And no, she really can never forget cause Yozora keeps a recording of it locked in a safe. She should really get new friends.

“Competition?”

“Yeah! In my school there’s this competition to see who’s the best idols in the school, I’m in a singing course and since I won the competition, I represent my course.” She's still proud she won. It was a close call between her and another first-year. She'll still brag, even if it's a seven-year-old.

“I guess that’s cool, do you get anything for winning?”

Imaginary tears roll down her face, I guess that's cool, what kind of a reaction is that? Hime was hoping a, "Oh my god, that's amazing," or, "Hime-chan you're the best!" Not a mediocre, "oh."

"You get to make your own brand, basically making your own clothes, and you get to travel, like I am doing now.”

“Why a brand? It's a bunch of clothing. The best gift is giving you the freedom to go to places?”

“Not really, I guess you don't get it since it's just clothes to you, but to me, it's another way to make people happy. You draw and draw until your hand is cramping and your mind is numb of ideas for a single coord. The clothes represent me, it's a way to show the fans of me and the brand love. It's kinda like food. You love a single food and everytime you eat it you feel happy, yes? That's what my brand feels to me, everytime I make something for it, wear it, perform in it, I feel happy...wait I'm rambling aren't I?" She smiled and pat YueYing's head, although she flinched to the slight touch, a smile tore it's way onto her face.

"Sorry for talking like that, I didn't mean to offend you.." An arrow shot through Hime's heart, this kid is too cute for her heart. She kinda has the urge to squish her cheeks and just pamper her with the sugariest candies created on earth.

"It's fine! But anyway, I’ve been to the Caribbean, the Americas, South Korea, and Singapore. Without the title, I don’t think I would’ve visited those places.”

Silence then surrounded them, neither of them knowing what to ask or do. YueYing stood up and left the room briefly before coming back with a glass of water for both.

“Well if you don’t have anything else, I can always dance and sing something for you to pass the time?" Hime didn't get an answer so she looked down to see the girl's reaction, and if she wasn't in love earlier she was now. She looked like a dang puppy and, god, if her mom didn't start loving her more, she will kidnap her herself. She doesn't know how she'll hide her back to Japan but she can bribe someone and maybe stuff YueYing into her suitcase. Yozora will probably not care, and if she did Hime can just make Yozora share a room with Tsubasa and YueYing can have her bed.

"You don't really mind if I dance here right?" A shake. "Great! This song isn’t really mine..It’s an old one, I used to dance and sing to it when I was a kid." She tapped her phone a few times before handing it to YueYing. Three-finger signal came in response, then two, then one-

As her body moved to the beat, like muscle memory, Hime most of the time when she performs goes blank. Sure she's emotional by the people there, but it's weird, she's there but at the same time she isn't. Her mouth moves, words spill out, and her legs sorta jangle about, but it's like an out of body experience. Once the tune fell flat and nothing was left, she snapped back. She was on the ground panting, while YueYing sat a couple feet away from her stared wide-eyed.

"Can you teach me how to do that?" A loud groan escape from her, she's tired and she wants to kinda drop dead right now. It's been a few weeks since she last danced, break and all, and now it's really starting to sink in and it sucks. When Tsubasa told her to practice while on break and she laughed in her face saying, what a joke, she really didn't think it'll bite her that hard. Tsubasa will laugh her butt off if she sees her dying because of a song.

"After I get a breather or pass out either one." She fell onto her back, still panting.

"Aren't you supposed to be an idol? You've danced more than one dance in a row how are you tired from one measly-"

"Oui, I'm on break okay? It's like school, you take a class and over break you erase everything you learned for more room-"

"I don't understand how this relates to your stamina-"

"I'm getting there! So since I'm on break it means no exercise so it means my stamina rockets down and-"

"So you're lazy is what you're saying-"

"No! I just like to lay down and not work out during breaks and gain a few pounds!..ha I just realized this is my first time really talking to you. Earlier you always seem so cramped and quiet, now you're laughing with me." Hime laughed, it's a beautiful ring. Beside her is a kneeling YueYing, whose mouth cannot stop spouting choked laughter and chuckles. She just wants to protect this kid, like dang, that kidnapping plan is really good-looking right now.

"I heard that Utopia Agency, your mom's agency, is going to put up some top model that'll, "change the world," do you know them? I'd like to say hi before I go back." The laughter stops mid-laugh. YueYing starts staring at the ground again and hugs her knees to her body.

"Funny enough the person isn't even a model, it's me." Hime starts laughing again, then realizes she's the only one getting the kick out of that joke.

She points her finger, almost accusingly, at YueYing before shouting, "What the.. So they were lying?! You know how much they're hyping you up right? They're saying you can sell out a magazine within hours."

"Yeah no, my Mother's Agency is falling apart so she said I'll have to become a model to save it." What the heck, Hime really thinks her mom is insane now. Who hires a kid as a model, with no modeling experience, to save their company? Crazy people that's who! She kinda felt bad for her, then a brilliant idea came flashing into her mind. She's a pro, she can make this kid into a pro too!

“Haaaah? But that’s her problem she shouldn’t drag you into it..especially forcing you to become a model. Do you want me to show you a few things, I’m practically a pro.” She gave herself a thumbs up, the other deadpanned at her.

“Pro huh? Usually, pros are longer than two years..plus that stamina.." Two arrows stabbed into her back. One named low stamina and the other is not a pro. The attack left her on her knees, near tears.

“You sure don’t hold back your punches.” She coughed out, still in pain.

“Hime is really weird-”

“Don’t say it like that! Honestly I kinda feel like crying, why did I agree to babysit you?” Hime has imaginary tears running down her face. A couple sniffles later she looked up to see a detached look on YueYing's face.

“You're always restraint in your interviews. Why are you so..laid back when you’re with me?” Huh, she never thought about that. When did she start letting down her walls- wait.

Hime sat back up, arms flailing. “Wait, wait, wait, you know me?! Why did you ask about my information if you already knew me?"

“I don’t know.”

Hime then hit the ground again, the loud noise made YueYing flinch. “Wahh, you sure are troublesome.. Well, you know how some actors hold onto a personality to act in front of people right? It’s kinda like that, people want an elegant, polite, and smart model to look at. I’m more childish I guess, I want to be more air-headed sometimes, I wish I can be my alter-personality, instead of,” She waves her arms around her body, “this.” She never really liked herself. You have to be majestic, you have to be perfect, and everything you do will be on the big screen. Nothing true about herself is good enough to be on that screen, so she gave it up and picked up a mold. A mold of what everyone wants.

It was quiet, silence dug itself deep into Hime, humiliation hung itself over her. Why did she even share that? She never told any of the S4 members that and she just blurted that in front of a kid. Stupidstupidstupid-

“Hime..well I guess that’s true.” A tiny offended 'hey!' came from Hime, but YueYing wasn't done, “But that’s not bad. When I see you on the news they always praise your elegance and politeness, you say it’s fake but it’s not necessarily true it’s there, you don’t see it. When you danced I thought I was watching a fairy, I don't know, and you were polite to me earlier." She has a tiny smile as she says this and an embarrassed flush on her cheeks. "I don't know, it's dumb don't listen to me." She covered her cherry-like face with her hands, as if that hid it. She scrunched herself up into a tiny ball and wanted the ground to swallow her, why why why did she say that?! So so stupid! Why would a famous idol listen to a kid? She should really get her mouth under control.

"I didn't know you had it in you to be this nice.” Hime was stunned, everything so far that had come out of the kid's mouth, phone to be precise, had been sarcastic.

Are you serious? This idol is a massive jerk! YueYing stopped how wallowing and turned back to Hime with an annoyed look with her fingers moving like their about to strangle the person in front of her. "Nevermind, I take back everything, you're a clumsy airhead." She started to leave the room, but a pair of hands grabbed her foot causing her to fall face-first to the floor. Her annoyance skyrocketed.

"Hey, hey don't leave! I'm sorry! Come on, come back. I'll show you some modeling tips." YueYing crossed her arms with her eyebrows raised, Hime got the message alright, 'it better be good or else.' “Your eyes, pose, and how risky you are, are the most important part of the shoot. Your eyes create the intensity, the atmosphere, so smile with your eyes or have some kind of emotion in your eyes. Don't waste anything in your pose, everything is crucial, the tiniest mishap in your pose will affect the whole picture. The safer you play in the shoot the more boring the pictures will come out, that's why you go for the dramatic ones, but don't go too dramatic or else it'll look fake." She striked a few poses for emphasis, 'man she looks so cool right now,' passes through her mind. Looking into the other's eyes, awe is clear.

"Ahhh..maybe Hime really is a professional after all." She fell to the floor, the kid just realized this now? She slumped back into her depressed moodlet, what's the point of trying if the kid can't even believe she's a pro?

"You didn't believe me?! Hahhh I feel bad for your usual nannies or babysitters..you're too blunt." She muttered, finger drawing a variety of shapes on the ground.

"I don't really talk, I just usually read or work while they just be on their phones. When I do talk it's for something like food; then they leave when their shift is over." Oh, maybe this is why bodyguard-kun calls her a brat, Hime thought. But then again..Shame on him for calling her rotten cheese!

"Really? Why don't you talk to them? I'm sure they'll like it."

"My mother thinks having ties to having someone replaceable as a nanny is useless. They also report back to my mother if I try, so there's no point." Hime reached out, she wanted to hug her. She bit her lip and retreated her hand.

"That's dumb. You must be really lonely then."

I don't know how to respond to that Hime-chan
---

“Bye-bye! Until next time, make sure to practice dancing that song! I want to see you perform it!” In Hime’s perspective, her arms were waving back to YueYing as graceful as a swan, it could be so graceful people would think she’s a groomed princess. To YueYing it reminded her of the Kermit’s ‘yay!!!’ arm flail.

“Zàijiàn, Hime-jiějiě.” YueYing continued to wave until the gate is fully closed and neither of them can see each other.

“Okay okay, Zàijiàn means goodbye, so what’s the other thing?” Her driver pulled up to pick her up, she made him roll down the window to ask him something. He looks taken back, a bit surprised by her question due to the weirdness of the question, especially now.

“Huh? Why do you want to know that? It means big sister!”
----

The next few months were backbreaking. YueYing gained a workout routine to lose any fat left on her body and started dieting. She started ballet and basic dance training as well, ”Ways to make herself more graceful,” she said. Excuses, she just wanted to impress Hime-jiějiě next time. She also started attending singing classes whenever she can squeeze any, ”Good for the future,” she said. She learned how to apply makeup because she’s ugly without it. She learned how to pose dramatically, walk a catwalk with heels, and how to act. She’s late. What a failure, seven, and just learning this now.

YueYing was squeezing her thighs, slightly disgusted with how much fat was there even when it was bone with barely any meat. ”Hello, welcome to the Utopia, here we’ll evaluate you and decide if you’re good enough to have a contract. These three doors,” the announcer gestured her arms to three doors, each having a metal plate with a delicately designed picture on it. “Lead to different evaluators for idols, models, and actors. Please head towards your door.” The crowd of children walk toward their door while observing the others as if scouting potential competition. “You’re YueYing right? Your mother, er the CEO, wants to see you in her office.” The woman was suddenly in front of YueYing. She nodded and was led down a marble corridor. She breathed, in and out, as she stood in front of the big mahogany doors then she pushed the doors.

“Hello Mother what do-”

"Sign this." Mother flicked a slip of paper, a contract, at her, expecting her to sign off it right away, YueYing knows this cause Mother immediately went back to work.

"What is it-"

"Its a contract for 5 years, legally you have to sign this for me to assign any work onto you." Five solid years of selling her soul to the devil.

"Could I do a shorter contract? I've read about two-month contracts and-"

"Really YueYing? Two-Months? And let some other agency steal you? Please I'm not that dumb, sign your name now or else I'll make it longer." YueYing looked like she was two-seconds away from crying. Her teeth bit her bottom lip harshly, she could taste blood on her tongue, and her eyes are big and watery with anger and frustration.

"What if I'm not pretty enough to be a model? Modeling is really competitive and-”

"Then I'll get you plastic surgery. Sign it now. You have a photoshoot tomorrow, and you don't want to see me angry." A loud scribble and a creak.

"That's all, go back to the applicant room, maybe you'll learn something from them." The mother yelled out, knowing her daughter is outside the door.

YueYing barely slept that night.

Chapter Text

Valentines Day special

YueYing was trying to make chocolate. Keyword, trying. The product of her hard work is gray mudballs. At least if it was brown she would be a bit happier. Alas, it's gray, not even a good gray, it's like 'if you eat it you'll have constipation problems for a while' gray. The kitchen is a mess and the maids are pitying her. "Little Miss, if you want we can make the chocolates and give it to your mother saying you made it." That made her frown, she didn't want to take credit for their work plus it’s not for her mother.

“One more batch then I’ll clean the kitchen.” Oh, the look of horror all over the maids’ face. They frantically wave their hands at her, some just got some towels out. She felt bad, but she really hate cleaning and her dislike of cleaning overweigh her guilt.

“It’s near 11 PM, we can’t possibly let you stay up all night making chocolates! Plus the cleaning, oh, it’ll take hours! Let us take care of the cleaning, you just worry about the chocolate! I’ll even help you make the best of the best!” The head maid, Rene, who, honest to god, YueYing feels bad for, she’s been working here for the majority of her life, yet without the shining golden nametag she wouldn’t have known her name. “Wu Ziliang, you prepare the bath for the Little Miss, make sure it has double the rose water, she has a modeling gig early tomorrow.” A young-looking maid ran off to get the bath ready. "Here let me help you. You're tempering the chocolate too hot, the reason why your earlier attempts look like," she motions to the mudballs, "this is because it's too hot, it makes it look dusty and gray. I'm sure it's edible to a..certain extent but its appearance isn't appealing."

"Thank you Rene-āyí." YueYing ties her long black hair into a high ponytail before washing her hands.

"This isn't for your mother, right?" She was shaking the water off her hands, stopped mid-shake. Her face looked blank, but internally she was panicking.

"What do you mean?" She said innocently, she even added an extra rare smile.

"Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, the day of love, I've worked here long enough to know this isn't for her, who is it for?" Rene-āyi placed her arm on the counter and one of her eyebrows rose. A smirk appeared on her face, "Come on is it for a boy?"

"You won't tell mother, correct?" Blood flowed to her face, pink dusts her cheeks.

"Little Miss, if I want to get fired then I’ll tell her.” Rene-āyi mixes the molten chocolate before lifting the dripping wooden spoon. “Well, the majority of the work is done, all there left is to chill the chocolate. You go shower and sleep and I’ll clean the kitchen with the other maids.” YueYing wipes her chocolate ridden hands on her apron, she gives a tiny wave then starts to head towards the stairs. “Good night, sweet dreams Little Miss.”

The next morning, YueYing wakes up extra early, 5:30, and gets ready for her modeling gig. She showers, does her morning facial routine, eats an egg, and apply makeup. She poses in front of the mirror and gives herself a thumbs up. She's greeted by a line of maids, chefs, and butlers as she leaves. The limo driver is slightly late, so she waits outside with her little bag of necessities.

The limo apparently isn't the transport today, a black SUV pulled up to YueYing, and a guard who was standing right next to her dumps a body bag into the trunk. She wasn't sure if she should ask or not, she just got into the car without a peep. If there is a dead body in the trunk, she has 110 on speed dial. When the car got into the road, and she wasn't lying, it flew.

“Hopefully you’re ready for the best plane ride of the year!” Oh my god, YueYing loves that voice but when it's behind the wheel she starts praying.

“What the- Auntie why are you driving!?” She screams as little bumps make her body jump inches off her seat. She thinks she needs to be nailed to the seat to be safe, a seatbelt ain't gonna cut it.

“What’s wrong with giving my beautiful Ying Ying the best Valentine's day present?” Death by car, what a wonderful gift. Her aunt turns back and gives her double peace signs with a wink, and she swears she nearly has a heart attack.

“Oh my god, both hands on the wheel!” Her aunt turns back to the front and shrieks, she quickly swerves the car from crashing. “That’s not the problem Auntie! You don’t have a license and I don’t have a death wish!” She wails as she hugs her body into a tiny ball. She should've known the black SUV with a bag, which possibly has a dead body in it, was bad news.

“I have one in Japan, plus my driving isn’t that bad.” The car speeds up and the world outside at this point was a blur, she's sure she'll die right here right now and wouldn't even know until it's too late. She clamps her hands together and starts chanting to god if there is one.

“You must’ve bribed someone cause you almost crashed a thousand times already! This isn’t Japan either!” A loud screech and a sharp turn to the right follows suit.

“Oi oi, you gotta have more faith in me-” Auntie turns back to me shaking one of her pointer fingers at me, she looked like she was scolding a puppy for barking.

“God, look forward! You’re about to crash!” God, at this point YueYing is convinced she can probably drive better than her aunt, and she’s seven. Auntie had made so many sharp turns and nearly crashed every twenty seconds, she wondering if its possible to get motion sickness from a ride..

“Gah! How do people do this on a daily basis?!”

“Shut up and just drive! The more you talk, the more chances I’ll die!”

“You won’t die-”

“Tell that to the car we almost crashed into!” The car flies into the air again with high pitch screaming.

----

“Are you serious about this? I’m traveling to Japan for a day? What about Mother?” YueYing asks, holding the body bag close to the chest with the passport and ticket clenched tightly.

“I said I’m taking you to a gig, I’ll come to pick you up tomorrow.” Her aunt wrings her car keys around her pointer finger and YueYing immediately paled at the recent car ride memory.

“..can you not?” A little confused look appeared on her aunt's face.

“What? Your flight back is tomorrow night, you have to come back.”

“No, I mean can you send a taxi? I lost twenty of my life on that ride, I can’t do that again.” The keys flies off the finger and hits someone. Auntie reaches for the keys but once it landed and hit its target, there was no point. The stranger is already scratching his head and glaring at their direction.

“Fine fine, just enjoy your vacation you.” Her aunt sigh in resignation while patting her head. She gives YueYing a tired smile, and she didn't notice until now but her aunt had bags under her eyes.

“Hey Auntie..” She wraps her arms around Auntie’s waist.

“What is it little brat?” Ahhhh, she forgot, but whenever someone reciprocates their love for Auntie, she either turns into a tsundere or a dog. It’s so cute.

“Thank you so much.”

“..ey just enjoy your day.”

---

“Where do I..hm Do I call a taxi?..Wait where do I even stay?!” The kid flap a map hopelessly. She doesn't have money, only a few pocky sticks left in a red box.

“YueYing! Over here!” A familiar voice calls out to her, she looked around and found Hime with two other strangers.

"Wèishénme nǐ zài zhèlǐ?" She yelled back. Hime exchanged looks with the other two and shrugged.

”Ah..right. Language barrier. Uh, wait come here and say that again."

"Why are you here?" Ah, the beautiful sound of Google.

"I'm here to pick you up! You're staying with me for the weekend. Come on! I want you to meet my friends." She motions with her right hand to her two friends, one with a high ponytail with a singular streak of light purple and the other with long, thick, wavy brown hair. "This is future supermodel, Kasumi Yozora, she's one of the winners of the competitions I mentioned." Kasumi shyly smiled and waved. "This is Kisaragi Tsubasa, another winner, don't let her cute looks fool you, she's really cold and mean." Kasumi chuckles at the remark, Kisaragi, on the other hand, smiled chillingly.

"Hime-chan you sound like you want a punishment." Kisaragi grip onto Hime's shoulders still smiling. You know the feeling of ‘you done screwed up?’ She’s half expecting to be, ugh it's so scary she can't even say, cause Kisaragi is gripping onto her shoulder like an adult gripping onto a TV on Black Friday. It ain’t ending well.

"It was a joke, I swear! She's a super talented actor that's gonna make it big in Hollywood." She continued babbling for the next ten minutes about Kisaragi, it’s just YueYing stopped caring.

"Anything else to say about me Hime-chan?" Kasumi joined in, still smiling, but joined Kisaragi in gripping her shoulders.

"I already said you're going to be a supermodel! What else is there? The fourth person, Ami-chan, won't be here. She..got in trouble so..anyway this is Huang YueYing and she's gonna be my successor when she grows up!" Hime shakes her hands as if she was showing off a new figurine with a little ‘ta-da.’ She was so prepared for this moment she even made a plan like two hours prior. The other two already have their own pupils and brag daily about how well they're doing and how awesome they are. Now that YueYing is here she’s going to gloat her heart away-

"I never said that Hime-jiějiě." Her everything, hands, heart, life, just everything froze. She turned back to face the girl with a dead eye smile.

"But you have to, you got to overtake Yozora." The best way to describe the half broken girl is as if you told a ten-year-old Santa isn’t real. She’s even slowly shaking the seven-year-old as if that’ll change anything.

"But I would be the successor of Kasumi, not yours."

"Call me Yozora. You're a model?" The pretty brunette stepped between the two, stopping Hime from shaking the poor kid even more. Yozora takes YueYing’s hands and gives her a big beautiful smile, “I hope you take my spot in the future if you can.”

"She's still a rookie but she's gonna be big! Believe it!" Cheerfulness seems to inject itself back into the blonde, she pushes herself between while making a victory sign then closing it like scissors.

"Okay okay enough, before you get all 'Naruto' on us we have to go, we still have to show YueYing-chan around the academy and eat, I'm so hungry. Oh right, don’t call me Kisaragi, it sounds too formal coming from you, kid." Right when Tsubasa finishes that sentence all of their stomachs growl simultaneously. Their cheeks glow red with embarrassment and Tsubasa sent a quick text to their driver that they’re ready to leave.

"YueYing-chan do you know what you want to eat?" Yozora asked.

"Steak and ramen. Oh, I also want to go to an all-you-can-eat dessert buffet." Hands went into rock-paper-scissors formation.

“Rock, paper, scissors, sho-”

"Hime-chan you're paying." Yozora and Tsubasa interrupted, not even playing the game.

"Eh?"

---

"Guys, my wallet. I can literally hear its tears."

"Your wallet. Not my problem."

---

”This is it, Four Star Academy!” Yozora squealed, her arms wide open as if giving the air one big hug. ”What’s wrong Hime-chan? I thought you’d be cheerier, not all doom and gloom.” She said, noticing the grouching blonde staring longingly at her wallet.

”I would be happier if you didn't empty out my yearly allowance. I just got it too, and it was all wasted by you and Tsubasa stuffing your face with three steaks, each.” Hime mumbled poking her dead wallet with a stick. It was horrendous, they just wouldn't stop eating. The plates kept piling up and up and no matter how many she begged them to stop, they wouldn't.

”Aww come on it wasn't that bad.”

“My saving grace was YueYing-chan barely eating any steak or ramen and just eating dessert. You guys ate your diets away.” That was a lie, the S4 members knew Hime was just trying to make herself feel better, she is in fact the only one to gain weight if they splurge. Tsubasa and Yozora were blessed with extremely fast metabolism.

“Psh, we both know that's bull, you just don't want to admit that you inflate if you look at a crepe cake.” Tsubasa and Yozora high-fived each other as Hime's mood got even more depressed. A man holding a thin book with the word 'management' plastered on the front ran up to Yozora. He showed her a piece of paper and pointed to a cyan colored car with his thumb.

“Kasumi-san you have a runway fashion show at 6 PM, we must head out now for rehearsal.”

“Oh..on Valentine’s day too. I’ll see you guys when its lights out, I’ll make sure to bring some macaroons after. Bye-bye!” Yozora jumped into the car and it drove away.

"Come on YueYing-chan, I'll show you around the S4 dorm then around the school, come on let's leave Hime-chan alone. She needs to bury her wallet in peace." Tsubasa grabs her tiny hand and runs into the school, Hime tried to grab onto her other open hand but missed and crashed into the concrete floor.

"Oi oi, where are you taking her! I'm the one who set up this date, stop stealing my time with YueYing-chan! Are you even listening?!"

---

"Who do you want to sleep with YueYing-chan?"

"I don't really mind."

“Obviously m-”

"Hime-chan you take the couch, Yozora texted me calling dibs."

"Oi!"

---

After showing off their pokemon and digimon collection they decided 6 PM is a great time for dinner, their stomachs serving as the clocks. After an actual game of rock-paper-scissors the winner was Hime. Even though she had the choice to choose a cook, an obvious better one, cough Tsubasa cough, she chose herself.

"Dinner is ready! Omelets with fried rice with ketchup hearts!" Three omurice slid onto the table. The omelet is so beautiful, it looked so fluffy and soft, and the fried rice was calling their name.

"Woah, Hime-chan this looks half decent. Better than your last failure, what was it, charred salmon with expired greens?" Tsubasa snickers as the memory makes Hime flinch, that was an awful day, they came home late from a concert and the food was ruined by her tripping and falling onto the table of said food. Then to make it up she offered to cook them a ‘super-awesome-never-seen-before dinner’ which turned out to be their greatest mistake in their life.

"It was one time."

"One time too many."

"This smells delicious! Can I eat it now?" Drool attempted to fall from the kid's mouth as her eyes shines like diamonds.

"Sure sure! Eat to your heart's content! I have extra!" Hime lied. There were no extras, if YueYing wanted more she'll have to give hers away.

"It's delicious!" The first bite has YueYing wanting to swallow the whole thing whole. The spoon was about to touch the omurice but Tsubasa spat out her piece and, it's amazing how different it can look, the piece spat out is pure black and it's still jiggling on the table.

"It's awful! What the heck Hime?! Is this black slime? Why is it in my omelette?!" The black thingy kept jiggling, it just wouldn't stop.

"Haha..well I only did two good omurice, the other I messed up. I couldn't give YueYing-chan the messed up one and I'm a growing girl so you were the only one open." After that explanation everyone stared at YueYing's omelette, waiting for an explosion of disgustingness to pool out. Nothing did but that didn't stop the unease. Tsubasa sent a quick text to Yozora to pick up sandwiches on the way cause starvation doesn't sound good tonight.

"I'm growing too, you know. Ugh, I think my appetite is gone. I'm heading off to the shower, yell if you need anything." She waved her hand half-hazardly, a gesture to do whatever you want. Halfway down the hall, when no one can hear her, she gags at the still lingering aftertaste of death. Everyone hoped the salmon fiasco was a fluke, now she knows to never give Hime a dang egg.

They head off to YueYing’s room to unpack her bag. "Sorry, I wasn't expecting them to be..that chatty. They're usually more reserved, but I guess your weird charm bought them out." Hime said while digging through the bag. She felt plastic and took it out to see what it is, it was a small box full of brown shaped things. "Is this chocolate?"

"Ah, right I forgot. I stayed up late yesterday making chocolate, I wanted it perfect. Though I'm disappointed I couldn't do it fully by myself, just be thankful you didn't get my mudballs."

"Mudballs?" It didn’t really matter, even if it was severely screwed up lumps of ashy trash, Hime will still swallow it down. Because her favorite unofficial pupil made it. She plucked a little deformed choco-heart from the box and was about to take a bite-

"It doesn't matter. Happy Valentine’s day Hime-jiějiě, I love you." The eldest dropped a chocolate heart onto the floor, her eyes are like saucers, and mouth gaped open like a fish about to eat. It wasn’t some Google translator voice that said those words, it came out of YueYing’s own mouth. In Japanese.

"Wait- Did you learn Japanese? It’s only been a month! How- What- Are you fluent?" Hime grabs onto her shoulders with too much force causing both of them to fall onto the rug. Both were groaning for a good three minutes then burst out laughing.

"I learned enough to say that." She wheezed out, still laughing from the fall. The duo stayed on the floor in silence for another ten minutes, suddenly Hime jumped up as if remembering something very important. She punched the air in excitement before deflating.

"Ah...I made chocolate for you too!..it's just in the freezer mixed with the icecream cause I gave into temptation." Hime pressed both her index fingers together guiltily. Vanilla ice cream with choco bits sounds so good and it tasted really good. She shouldn’t have, YueYing made these beautiful, most likely delicious, chocolates for her and she didn’t even have the decency to-

"Was it burnt?" The guilt died. Hime looks up to see YueYing's smirking face.

"Oi! The utter disrespect-" Light laughing is heard throughout the house. Tsubasa lowkey wanted to yell at them to shut up, but it's probably some fluffy moment she shouldn't mess up.

The day ended on a wonderful note. Yozora brought home nearly a hundred macarons and the group partied the night away, playing karaoke and Just Dance. Apparently, the heater broke, so that was fun. Hime liked freezing to death on the couch, Tsubasa enjoyed shivering in the cold blankets, and the last two relished the warmth under electric blankets.

The next morning they had pancakes made by Yozora. Risk of Hime messing it up was too high.

---

"Are you sure you have to go back? I can just say that you've been kidnapped and I'm looking for you." Hime was hugging the small girl tightly, not wanting to let go. Tsubasa and Yozora are willing to kidnap the kid with her. Tsubasa gets rid of the guards, Yozora bribes them with money, and Hime can like, I don't know, relax and eat cookies with YueYing.

"That'll only make it worse, besides I have work tomorrow. Make sure to take care of yourself. Yozora, thank you for the macarons, I can't ever thank you enough." Yozora puffs up at the compliment, and YueYing was walking to the security but stopped mid-step. "Ah, Hime-jiějiě wǒ ài nǐ."

"Just come back to Four Star Academy, I'll always get you more." Yozora smiled gracefully while waving back, Tsubasa and Hime both knew Yozora was smirking and laughing at them. They had this whole bet going on, who'll be the favorite, winner gets 10,000 yen.

"Okay! Bye-bye, everyone! See you next time!" A few seconds later when the girl was definitely gone, Hime started crying.

"Hime, are you crying?" Yozora snicker. "Is it because you lost?"

"Shut up, I'm not crying you are!" Hime shouted back, before sobbing into her sleeve.

"You know, I'm probably YueYing's all time favorite now. She probably prefers me over you Hime-chan a thousand times over. Food really does overpower everything else." Tsubasa grabs Hime’s arms, holding her back as Hime's legs kick into the air and her arms tried to lunge at Yozora. Tsubasa should get paid for this, Hime tried to get loose by hitting her in the face with her elbow, and that hurts. Yozora laughs at Hime as she goes feral, provoking her more.

"Yozora, if you are YueYing's favorite I will-"

 

Extra:
“Hime-chan! Why is my precious sister telling me to go jump off a cliff?!” Yozora stuffed the phone into Hime’s face, she’s near tears. Usually her beautiful, pretty, too adorable little sister, Mahiru, would send her heart emojis for Valentines day, yet today she told Yozora to jump off a cliff and die!

“Yeah. I wonder why.”

Chapter Text

"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.