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The clink of glasses and low indiscernible talking drifted through the dark nightclub. The upscale lounge was the place to be for relaxation and was frequented by actors, idols and the like. 

 

It was an exclusive club that Shiro managed to get a job at. They needed a pianist and she needed a job. As long as she stayed in the background no one would notice her. It wasn't like she was that well known in celebrity circles other than Kiro.

 

Dressed in a gray cocktail dress and wearing a matching masquerade mask she sat down on the bench. Her shift was almost over but her boss wanted one more song to end the night.

 

 He asked for something dreary and she ended up playing something a little too sad. Her fingertips flowed across the piano with ease after practicing every day at the club. She wouldn't have the job if she couldn't convince her boss she just needed to practice more. He let her use the piano for a while then she played him a piece.

 

Everything worked out perfectly. That was until she walked in. A huge smile on her face as she followed behind Kiro. She didn't remember ever coming to this club in her world but things wouldn't always be the same.

 

She turned her back to them and saw her boss give her a look. She started to play something a little more upbeat. She would need to stay on until the club became slow again. The group filing in was full of energy and she knew it would be awhile before they left.

 

The upbeat melody grew as more guests showed up with the arrival of such a well known idol. He was like a magnet, which was great most of the time. Today not so much, she just wanted to go home. Being in close proximity with herself was too eerie. It made her skin crawl being so close.

 

"Miss Chips you should play!" Kiro said his aura like sunshine. The woman shook her head embarrassed but he led her over to the piano. The two of them stood near her but she didn't acknowledge them right away. 

 

"Do you mind if she gave it a try?" Kiro asked her and she looked up at him. For the briefest moment realization crossed his face. His smile faltered but the girl at his side didn't notice she was admiring the gray cocktail dress. 

 

"Your dress, it's so beautiful," she said staring at the embroidered black roses on the skirt. A smile slipped onto Shiro's face. She stood gracefully and moved away from the bench. Motioning for the girl to sit. As she did Shiro nodded at the girl's gratitude. She left them after that and headed to the bar to let her boss know she was taking a ten minute break. As long as someone was playing he didn't mind and this version of her wasn't rusty like she was.

 

Plus, if she had to stay longer she should at least get some fresh air. She went outside and took a deep breath. Looking up at the sky she took in the sounds of Loveland's at night. It was exactly like home.

 

"Sorry," Kiro's voice came from behind her.

 

She jumped and looked back at the blonde. His eyes weren't as teasing as usual. She wondered if he thought she was angry. "Why?"

 

He looked confused but then answered, "I didn't know you worked here. It must be awkward meeting yourself."

 

Shiro chuckled lightly. " It's not like you knew. I was surprised but we both handled it well. And it's nice getting a compliment from yourself."

 

"You do look stunning in that. The mask makes your eyes stand out." He said moving closer to her to look at her mask. She knew her dull brown eyes didn't stand out and if they did, it was for all the wrong reasons. She didn't quite remember when they became so empty but the impression her eyes gave was never good.

 

"Why are you teasing me?" She asked, turning on her heels. He made her heart melt being so close. That glint of gold in his eyes and the tug of a smile on his face made her memories surface again, but pleasant ones. Butterflies were caught in her stomach, their feather light touch making her feel nostalgia and yearning.

 

"Simply because I like to Miss—"

 

It was an instant regret for both of them as he almost called her nickname. She turned around and placed her hand over his mouth before he finished. Their eyes met. Soft dull sable and burning gold. He flinched and she stepped back realizing what happened.

 

She snatched her hand away and he closed his eyes, placing the heel of his palm to his forehead as if it could stop the pain or the sudden loss of control.

 

"I'm sorry… I-I have to go." She spun around and was about to run when he snatched her back so quickly she fell against his chest. 

 

Always so quick to leave, stay in my arms a little longer.

 

Her Kiro's voice whispered in the back of her mind. A time and place that didn't exist anymore came back. Late nights from her past revealed themselves to her like a film reel. She had sworn he made her throw it all away and yet here it was.

 

"What are you?" Kiro asked in a whisper against her ear. It brought her back, ending the memories she so desperately tried to hold on to.

 

Shiro hesitated before answering, "A failure,"

 

She turned her head to look at him. "A failure that's trying to... She'll worry, you should go back."

 

Mentioning her and he snapped out of whatever changed his demeanor. His teal eyes gentle again but questioning. 

 

Shiro righted herself and smiled as much as she could muster, "You're supposed to be playing together, right?"

 

He nodded and headed back without saying another word. She watched him go as she placed her hand over her heart. The thundering in her chest would not calm, so she gave herself a self-deprecating laugh. She was being stupid.



------

 

The moment he got closer and saw the woman at the piano he felt his heart skip a beat. Those two couldn't meet. It was too early. Shiro was surprised he could tell but she played it off well. Her genuine smile at Miss Chips compliment helped as well. 

 

Truthfully, he knew he shouldn't have followed her. He made a mistake but the lie flowed so quickly out his mouth. "I'll be right back, I want to ask her about the song she was playing."

 

And just like that he was following behind her as she headed out back to take a break. Her cocktail dress swayed side to side as she walked quickly in her black heels. She didn't remove the mask even as she exited. 

 

She was beautiful in a haunting way. A perfect replica of his Miss Chips but different in ways it was hard to explain. Her reserved attitude and emptiness was only the beginning of a deep rabbit hole he had become curious about.

 

He had come to ask her how she was and apologize for coming without knowing she worked there, nothing more. Everything was going well until he almost called her Miss Chips. It wasn't an accident per se, but it wasn't what he meant to do. For just the briefest moment she was Youran and he was talking to the same girl he left at the piano. It was the strangest moment he'd ever had.

 

He could see it was the same for her. Talking to him was like she was speaking with the Kiro of her world.

 

Suddenly her hand was over his mouth and his Evol was out of his control..Too much happened in such a short period of time and he could barely make sense of what passed between them or what she had done. It was like electric keeping him in place while knowing he was in danger. It hurt and yet he wanted to stay.




"Kiro?"

 

He was pulled from his deep thoughts and plastered a perfect smile on his face as his Miss Chips asked him if he was alright.

 

"Sorry, your playing almost took me somewhere else. You're really great at this. Maybe I should get you a feature on my next single."

 

She blushed and turned her head from him. "I'm not that good. I messed up a couple of notes."

 

They chattered away happily even as a dark question lingered in the background of his mind. 

 

Was she the Queen? Was she already awakened? Could she replace her?

 

He would have to figure it out before Black Swan made their move against Miss Chips. If he could protect her he could easily sacrifice Shiro.

 

…right?

 

-----

 

When she returned they were gone. The club was still quite busy but the relief of having them gone surpassed any tiredness or annoyance she had.

 

She sat back down to the piano and played one of Kiro's songs. It was upbeat and the patrons loved it, but as she played it she couldn't help the growing feeling. 

 

The butterflies were gone but her normal emptiness didn't return. Instead she felt  like sludge sat in her stomach. Thick and disgusting but also growing. 

 

She couldn't explain it. Couldn't find the words to express the building pressure she felt. He was not hers. He wasn't even like hers and only in some aspects did he remind her. Still it was there underneath the confusion and emptiness. The sludge that was writhing about in her heart.

 

It was a mistake. 

 

“It was a mistake staying here.”