Revelations: Hidden Secrets
The euphoria of placing third in the performing arts competition was dampened by the memory of Kinomoto’s soft voice echoing through the stage. Listening to her sing was a familiar experience, a strong mezzosoprano with just a little bit of sweetness. She carried herself with a calm sort of dignity despite the jeers coming from her audience. It was as if the criticisms of our fellow students were nothing compared to the harsh voices of the professional world.
What would Kinomoto know about the professional music scene? Nothing. She’s just like us, a kid who plays the guitar in the sanctity of her bedroom.
I wondered why she chose to participate in the competition. Did Meiling have something to do with this? Kinomoto knew no one would treat her kindly so why bother?
I don’t understand girls sometimes.
“That was chilling,” Eriol suddenly remarked on our way home.
“What—winning? How so?”
“No, not that.” He shook his head. “I can’t get Sakura Athene’s second song out of my head.”
The admission surprised me. “I thought Kinomoto’s song would have been the one to stick with you.”
Eriol’s sharp eyes were on me and immediately, I knew I gave too much of myself away.
“Why, Syaoran,” he said, a knowing smile grew on his lips. “Is that what you’re thinking about?”
“Don’t be stupid.”
“It was good,” Eriol continued on as if I never said anything. “With a little bit of help from a good teacher, Kinomoto would be absolutely breathtaking. I bet she would do a better job than us covering any Sakura Athene songs. They’ve got the same vocal tone, after all.”
I froze. Eriol’s words echoed uncomfortably in my head. He was right. How did I miss that when they performed almost right after each other?
What was going on?
-The Next Day-
When I arrived at school, the halls were abuzz with the release of Sakura Athene's latest CD, Hidden Secrets, the same one she alluded to the day before. It played on an endless loop throughout the day, courtesy of the broadcasting club and Amai Jade, who bragged during homeroom about waking up at five am to be the first in line to get it.
Sakura Athene was an excellent singer with an amazing voice but I was tired of listening to her record by the time lunch came.
“Hold onto this for me, will you?” Meiling shoved a magazine in my hands. “My manager called earlier and scheduled me for practice at the gym afterschool. I know I’m going to lose it otherwise.”
I took it from her and turned it over. Tomoeda Talks? Never heard of it.
“Why are you reading this obscure magazine anyways?” I asked her, tucking it away under my bento box.
She shrugged. “There’s some super exclusive interview with Sakura Athene in it. It came with my CD when I bought it. I’ll get it from you when I get home, okay?”
This must be Fate at work, delivering first-rate information about one of the two people who occupied my thoughts since yesterday.
When I finally was alone, I pulled out Meiling’s magazine from my locker and opened it. There on page 32 was a huge picture of the singer herself. I studied her face closely. She smiled without showing her teeth and her emerald eyes sparkled in the light. The article on the next page read:
Hidden Secrets: Sakura Athene
By: Akizuki Nakuru
Young Japanese pop star takes the charts at number one again! With the release of her latest album, Hidden Secrets, it clear that Sakura Athene is ensured a successful future if she continues in the music industry.
However, not much is known about the young singer, and there are many things about her shrouded in mystery. However, in a recent interview, Tomoeda Talks managed to get the young artist to tell a little bit more about herself.
T: So, Sakura Athene, do you plan on making any more platinum records?
SA: I do plan on recording some more albums but I don't try to create platinum record music—it just happens. I’m so grateful to all of my fans for recognizing the hard work my staff and I put into each record.
T: You’ve been seen around with this good-looking young man. Are you currently dating him?
SA: (laughs) Not at all. That’s my sound engineer and my manager’s older brother. I’m too busy with trying to figure myself out to have a boyfriend.
T: What a mature perspective! I’m sure that’s one of the reasons you have such a large fanbase among the younger generation. If only I was like you when I was your age, I think I’d be a little more put together!
SA: Oh well, I’m sure you were just fine when you were my age.
T: Do you mind answering some personal questions? Your fans and our readers have been dying to know more about you as a person.
T: Well, I’ll see what you can answer! Do you have any siblings?
SA: Yeah, I have an older brother, who's really annoying and overprotective. He’s not too happy his little sister goes on tour across Japan without him.
T: That’s older brothers for you. When's your birthday?
SA: March 23rd.
T: How old are you really? You look so young that many sources say you are twelve, others thirteen, and yet another eleven!
SA: Unfortunately, I can’t tell you my age but I'm older than you think I am.
T: Are you currently enrolled in a school?
SA: Yes, I am. I can’t tell you where though.
T: Do you often get swarmed by fans at school?
SA: No, not really. I try to stay out of the spotlight.
T: What do you like to do in your spare time?
SA: I like to read and listen to music. Not my own music, though. I used to be a gymnast and sometimes I go to one of the local gymnastics gyms during open sessions.
T: Oh, it looks like we're out of time. Thanks for the interview and I wish you luck with your successful career.
SA: It was nice to meet you too. Thanks for inviting me.
I stared at the article. It seemed like the young singer was a normal person. Even the famous have ordinary concerns like squabbling with their siblings and trying to find their place in the world.
Watanabe Mika called my name. I hurriedly stuffed Meiling's article in my locker before turning to answer her.
She looked at me coyly. "I heard you're in Kenji's Morality class and you're in a group with the kaijuu."
I tuned her out by the third word. "Uh huh."
"Must be terrible to have to work with her," The girl continued. "You'd probably be terrified all the time that she'd kill you during class just for looking at her wrong."
"Totally scared shitless. She's such an ice bitch," I answered half-heartedly.
Watanabe softly put a hand on my arm. "You know... you could always intimidate her to obey."
That startled me. "What?"
She smiled cruelly. "Blackmail. I know where to get all the blackmail on Kinomoto Sakura. An extremely reliable source."
I doubted it.
"Yeah, you just send me your contact whenever I feel like I have to whip her back into shape. You know how rebellious outcasts are—they never want to obey the rules of society because of some imaginary misdeed done to them. That's what makes them rebels," I said, the sarcasm heavy in my words in an effort to get her off my back.
Blackmail? Seriously? Did I look like the kind of person to resort to something like blackmail to protect myself? That was for the weak. A Li is anything but weak.
I heard a book drop and someone swear. Watanabe’s eyes grew wide and she ran off. Turning around to help, I picked up the book and handed it back to its owner.
"Ice bitch, huh?" Kinomoto repeated coldly.
I held out her book dumbly. "What?"
"Don't play games with me, Li. I don't have the time or the patience to put up with you and your ego," Kinomoto snapped before she snatched her book from me and walked away.
“I didn’t mean it!” I hollered at her, scrambling to finish packing my bag. Meiling’s magazine dropped to the floor along with my chemistry textbook. “I was just trying to get her off my back!”
She stopped, turned around, and gave me a “go to hell” look.
I slouched. I didn’t like Kinomoto but I wouldn’t do something like blackmail her. My problem with her was her antagonistic attitude and the role she played in Meiling’s childhood abandonment. Definitely not some thing that required blackmail to solve.
In my frustration, I punched the locker next to mine and the rest of my textbooks spilled out onto the floor from the force.
The magazine scattered innocently among Li’s books rattled me more than I liked to admit. I know I agreed to the interview and to its inclusion with the purchase of my new record today, but seeing a physical copy in his hands was a wake-up call.
I checked the mail. Bills for Tou-chan, ads for local stores, a few letters for Toya-nii, and a couple university pamphlets for me. My fingers felt an envelope that had a different texture from the rest. Pulling it out, I saw it was addressed to me.
A part of me said I shouldn’t open it, that I should toss it immediately in the trash, but I’ve never been good about listening to my intuition.
A stapled stack of glossy pages fell out of the envelope. Someone had defaced the top page featuring my face with a bold red marker, adding demonic eyes and a few bloody tears dripping down my cheek. I flipped through the rest of the pages, the cold pit in my stomach growing with each passing edit.
This person had scratched out every mention of Sakura Athene in the Talks interview and wrote the kanji for my name nearby. At the bottom of the very last page of the interview, the sender scrawled:
You never fucking listen, do you, Kinomoto Sakura?
She knows. Someone outside the circle figured it out and told her.
With shaking fingers, I flipped open my phone and dialed a long-memorized number.
"Yuki," I could barely stop the trembling in my voice. "Conduct an investigation. I want to know of any possible leaks in the security system and who's been snooping around. Someone tipped her off and I want to know who.”
My cousin cleared his throat. "Any suspects?"
My eyes slipped out of focus, the surrounding scenery lost on me. "Try Daidouji Tomoyo, Hiiragizawa Eriol, Rae Meiling, and Li Syaoran. Watch for Li’s trail especially. He definitely holds a grudge against me."
"What about her?"
The mention of Kaorin replaced the terror I felt with anger. I focused my angry glare on a nearby squirrel. It squeaked in terror, scampering up into its arbor nest.
"You know to always check for her, Yukito."
My cousin hung up the phone after reassuring me that he would take care of any possible leak and that things will be okay. Turning around, I stared at my graffiti face. Despite Yuki’s assurances, I knew the truth.
Every thing was not all right.
No, not at all.