[A modern romantic fantasy story for @ElenaWrites#3423]
“Ooh! MuseXSound’s newest episode just got uploaded!”
The group of college kids gathered on the dorm sofa, excited at the theme song that was playing through Crunchyroll. Chelsea was a shorter, slightly chubby pharmacology major and was passing out cans of soda. Sarah was a tattooed, gothic looking art major and had brought chips. Their friend Ashley was a blonde tomboy in the aeronautical engineering program. This was their weekly ritual to forget about school for a while, and they looked forward to it every Tuesday. Especially now, with winter break coming up.
Settling down, they started watching the latest episode of the romantic-comedy anime, occasionally reaching over for a bag of chips or a soda. The show’s plot revolved around a cute, likable girl called Midori, who was the president of the school’s music club and had an almost supernatural ability to sing on key and play numerous instruments. Around halfway through the episode, the gorgeous male lead Yukio started one of his usual charming schemes to flirt with Midori. This normally tagged out the episodes. Today, Chelsea wasn’t having it and sighed out loud, causing her friends to look at her oddly.
Sarah pressed the pause button on the episode. “What’s up, Chels?”
“Well, I mean... come on!” She pointed at the screen. “Of COURSE Yukio wants Midori! She’s gorgeous, she’s talented, she’s musical! What’s not to want?”
Sarah tilted her head. A lock of blue hair fell over her face in the process. “Um... so? You’ve never had an issue before. This happens in like, every anime we watch.”
Chelsea sighed. “I know, I know. I just... I wish that like... I mean, look at Midori’s friend!” She was talking about Kiku, Midori’s best friend who was definitely there as a confidant and foil, but she was a bit clumsy and more plainer looking than her companion.
“What about her?” Ashley looked over from the small dorm kitchen, making a sandwich. “She’s funny! I like when she comes on.”
The woman shook her head, causing strands of red hair to fall in front of her eyes. She brushed them back. “There’s no realism, you know? You just... you’ll never see someone like Yukio taking a second, or even first glance at someone like Kiku. They’re always gonna go after the Midori’s.”
Sarah and Ashley looked at each other and smirked. “Chelsea, if you want Jason to talk to you, all you have to do is talk to him first. This isn’t high school anymore.” They were referring to a fellow pharm major Chelsea saw at most of her classes. He was extremely good looking, in a CW-lead kind of way and Chels had melted the first time she’d ever seen him.
Her face turned a lovely shade of red. “What?! That’s not what this is about at all!” She started sputtering a bit while her friends snickered.
Ashley came back in and sat down. “You’ve done nothing but think about Jason Harper more than you’ve been studying chemical compounds. You REALLY should just say hi to him! What’s the worst that could happen?”
The worst that could happen would be that I make a damn fool out of myself and can’t show my face around here, Chelsea thought to herself. Even though she was only 22, anxiety from earlier grades and social situations was still very prominent in her mind.
“Forget it, forget I said anything. Let’s just finish the show.” The other girls rolled their eyes as Chelsea hit the start button on the remote.
As soon as she hit the button, a power surge briefly sent the entire dorm dark. Ashley jumped a bit. “Oh my god, I hope that didn’t kill my generators. I have experiments going on!” She stood up to find a flashlight. Luckily, the power came on right away after a few seconds.
Chelsea wasn’t sitting on the couch anymore. Sarah looked over and frowned, seeing the remote dropped on the floor.
“Chelsea? Where did you go?” She stood up and looked through the dorm rooms, then opened the door to the hallway.
“Oh come on, we were just teasing you!” Sarah looked in the rooms again and frowned. “How did she get out of here that quick?”
“And we didn’t even hear the door open?” Ashley peeked outside of the room with Sarah, both of them wearing confused expressions. They went out into the hallway to search for their friend.
”... and you know, I definitely could bring more than a few new faces to your beloved music club. The Christmas concert is only two weeks away.” A smooth male cadence was breaking through a really bright, fuzzy haze. Chelsea rubbed her eyes.
“Oh, what happened... I feel sick.” It was then that she realized the hand that was rubbing her eyes wasn’t her hand at all. She slowly stood there, before she realized she was wearing a Japanese school uniform, similar to those the characters wore in MuseXSound. Actually, they were identical.
“What the...” She looked down at herself slowly, as to not cause her pounding headache to get worse. Slowly looking up again, she saw she was standing in a unfamiliar hallway marked by doors and lockers and Christmas decorations. And in front of her was a gorgeous young man with short dark hair, just long enough to fall over his face, and piercing eyes. His expression was slowly changing from one of charming seduction to concern.
“Midori? Are you alright? You look like you almost fainted.” She was hearing Japanese and understanding it as if she’d been born fluent. Her eyes widened.
“Wait... that... are you?” She felt her head swim again and literally swooned a bit. Before she could fall over, two strong, warm arms caught her and pulled her up.
“Midori? Are you sure you’re alright?” She was walked over to a nearby bench and sat down. The man kneeled in front of her and pulled a bottle of water out of his backpack, opening it and handing it to her.
“Drink,” he said, without seeming like it was an option. Chelsea obliged and downed the entire thing in a few moments. Finally, her vision and head started to clear up a bit.
“Why do you keep calling me...” She trailed off as soon as she got a good look at the man. It was Yukio, from the anime. Real and in the flesh, as sure as she was. But where on earth WAS she?
“You’re... Yukio!” She looked at the young man in awe.
The man frowned even deeper. “Yes, the last time I checked, I hadn’t changed my name,” He chuckled softly, though clearly looked concerned.
She then realized she was speaking Japanese too! Chelsea rubbed her face. “I’m... Midori?” From the show? This had to be a dream. She must have passed out and hit her head when that power surge struck.
“Midori, do you need to go see the school nurse? I’m sure she’s still here. Let me go get-“ He went to stand up.
“Don’t!” She grabbed Yukio’s arm and gently tugged him back. He seemed even more surprised. “Please don’t leave.”
“A-alright. I’m not going anywhere, I promise.” He knelt down again, looking up at her. “But I’ll be damned if I’m not walking you home.”
Chelsea looked up at him and nodded. “I... yes. Please?”
Yukio chuckled as she picked up her nearby backpack. “Take it easy, alright? It’d be kinda weird having to carry you all the way to your house.”
She stood up and got her footing before they started walking. She had seen enough of the show to remember where Midori lived, but it was so surreal actually... SEEING it right before her eyes! Christmas decorations and flyers for the Christmas concert she... no, Midori, had helped put up, lined the school walls.
It was cool outside and she shivered. Yukio pulled his coat off and wrapped it around her shoulders. “Didn’t you bring a jacket today?”
Chelsea chuckled weakly. “It... must have slipped my mind. There’s a lot going on, with organizing the Christmas show and everything.” Wait, why was she remembering all of these details from the show? Why did it seem so natural to repeat them? Why was she conversing in Japanese like it was nothing?
Yukio chuckled. “You know, seeing you dedicate yourself that hard, to something like that, it’s really inspiring. I may have to bring more people to watch regardless.”
Chelsea frowned. “Regardless of what?”
He opened his mouth to speak, but before he could, another voice broke the still. “Midori! Where have you been? We were going to walk home today!”
Kiku, Midori’s best friend was waiting just outside of the school campus, running up to them. She blushed as soon as she saw Midori standing with Yukio. Then she frowned when she saw how out of sorts Midori looked. “Are you alright? You look like you saw a ghost.”
Chelsea cleared her throat. “No, I’m okay, I promise. I just... had a moment, or something.”
Yukio nodded. “Seemed like more than just a moment.” He looked over at Kiku, then at Midor and smiled. “Seems like I’ll be walking both of you home. The honor of escorting two gorgeous ladies. Today must be my lucky day.”
Kiku blushed a fierce shade of red and Chelsea would have too, if she still wasn’t absorbing the shock of being literally inside the world of MuseXSound. She wasn’t only in the world, she was the lead character! What happened? Was she dead and this was the afterlife? No, she still felt alive. Just in a different reality.
They walked for a while, Kiku and Yukio making small talk with Chelsea chiming in every once in a while. They were passing by every landmark she remembered, a bakery that made an incredibly coffee jelly, a revolving sushi diner she’d always wished was real so she could visit. Buildings seemed as familiar to her as her own dorm, but she’d never actually seen them before outside of the show.
Eventually they got to Midori’s house and stood outside the gate near the mailbox. “Okay, are you sure you’re alright?” Kiku still was a bit worried. “I can come in with you for a bit, until your mom gets home!”
Chelsea shook her head. “I really appreciate it, but I’ll be fine. I just need a little bit of sleep. Stress can do that, you know.”
Yukio nodded as Chelsea handed him back his jacket. “And think about what I offered a little bit, alright? No need to answer just yet.”
Chelsea looked at him and nodded, smiling through Midori’s face. “I absolutely will.” What did he offer? She didn’t remember that part of the conversation, that’s when she’d blacked out!
Waving to them, she walked up towards her home and found her keys in her bag. Opening the door, she saw the inside of the home, just like it’d been in the show. Is... in the show. Kitchen to the right, dining and living room to the left. Japanese style, all of it. Her head started swimming again as she took her shoes off near the door.
“What... the hell is happening to me.” She started upstairs in a daze, going into her room. Exactly set up like it is in the show, she set her things on the floor. Bed against the far right wall. Closet opposite it. Desk under the window across from her.
“I’m dreaming. I have to be. This is impossible. I’m going to lay down in this bed and when I wake up, I’m going to be back in my doom room eating chips and drinking soda.”
She looked in her closet and saw clothes that were shown in flashes on the show during morning internal dialogue or conversation. Changing into something more comfortable, she lay down on the bed and almost immediately fell asleep.
“Midori, are you ready?” When Chelsea opened her eyes next, she was standing in a hallway outside of a school auditorium. What? She could see decorations and everyone standing around her was dressed in festive white and red colors. Her head felt fuzzy again but it quickly went away as her heart started thudding in her chest. Kiku was looking at her.
“You’re on in 2 minutes!” She had a bright smile on her face. Chelsea nodded, though she looked like she was about to faint again. But something made her pull herself together. There was a lot of people counting on her. And she’d followed the show all season. Surely she could trust Midori to pull this off, couldn’t she?
As the auditorium started clapping, she walked out. Going up to the mic, she stared out at all the people looking back at her as the music club filed in behind her and walked to their instruments. She looked out at all of the people and almost felt herself swooning again. But then she caught Yukio sitting in the front row, clapping and giving her a smile. She swallowed hard. That swooning feeling in the back of her brain got more insistent and she closed her eyes for a moment until the applause subsided.
“Thank you for coming out tonight.” Her voice was stronger, more confident and definitely unlike herself. She got the impression that while she was still in there, she was more riding shotgun to the actual star of the show. “We hope you enjoy the music we’ve prepared for you, and wish you an incredible holiday season.”
Bowing slightly, she walked over to a Kawai grand piano, She felt her heart racing again, It got a bit calmer as she sat down. Her fingers found their places on the keys and without having any idea how she was pulling it off, she started into a gorgeous rendition of Silent Night. Chelsea was stunned at how it was happening, but she was still in this show reality and there were people counting on her so she went with it.
The concert was gorgeous. The soft muted lighting worked with all the instruments and the vocalists. While modest by some standards, there was a warm atmosphere that made the entire experience even more surreal. By the time the club was closing with an a capella rendition of ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’, Chelsea was elated. Going backstage, everyone was congratulating her for a great show and she was soaking it up. As everyone was cooling down with some refreshments, Yukio came up to her.
“Midori, you were fantastic. Everyone in the audience was enthralled.” He gave her a hug, which she melted into.
“Thanks, Yukio. That was so much fun. I felt like I was on top of the world.”
“You looked like it too!” He smiled and leaned against the nearby window, looking at her. “Did you get time to think about an answer about my question?”
She looked at him and sighed gently. “Yukio, I... can you remind me what the question was again?”
Yukio grinned and chuckled softly. “Don’t worry, I’m not offended. I asked you if you would have an issue celebrating a certain Christmas tradition with me.”
She frowned, seeming lost. He pointed upward. The window they were standing near had a sprig of fake mistletoe tied on it.
Her face turned a dark shade of red from embarrassment. “I... You wanted me to give you a kiss for helping fill up the auditorium tonight?”
Yukio looked in her eyes. “Initially, yeah, that was the idea. Then I heard you play and sing...” He took her hand and moved closer. She could feel her heart racing in her chest.
“Now, I’m asking only because I know you’d be doing me a tremendous favor.” She blushed even harder, if that was possible.
“Well. You asked so nicely...” She tugged his hands closer until they were on her waist. Was she feeling alright? She could feel the post-performance euphoria and some unknown boldness in her mind. Her lips pressed against his and she felt her skin warm up immediately. Slowly her eyes drifted shut and she could hear the rush of blood in her ears as he pulled her closer, wrapping his arms around her. Chelsea felt herself falling into his embrace as they stood there, time seeming to stand still.
He pulled back after a moment and her eyes were still closed. Yukio’s voice was a soft whisper,
“Merry Christmas, Chelsea.” A jolt and blackness fell over her before she could respond.
“Chelsea! Wake up! WAKE UP!” She felt herself being pushed a bit, and when she opened her eyes, Sarah and Ashley were looking at her with serious concern. “Are you okay?”
She felt her head fuzzy again and looked around. There she was, back in the dorm, with the paused anime and the remote on the floor. What happened? Did it happen? She looked at them, then looked at the screen. The image was frozen on Yukio leaning over as he was talking to Midori, but she could swear he was staring straight at her.
“Yeah... Yeah, I’m alright.” She smiled at them and shook her head. “No idea what happened, but I’m good.”
They sat down on the sofa, still looking at her out of concern. “You like... passed out for a minute.” Sarah opened a soda and handed it to her. “You sure you’re okay?”
“I promise, I’m fine. And I think you guys are right.” Both Ashley and Sarah looked at her quickly.
“Right about what?” Ashley was still looking at her as if something might be wrong.
Chelsea’s lips were curled in a smile and she still had that euphoric look in her eyes. “I have a few things I want to say to Jason when class starts up again.”