5-year old Sayaka Maizono sat in her room, looking out the window at the constantly busy highway, even at late night. She technically was supposed to have her curtains closed to preserve heat, since the apartment building's heater was out and it was winter, or her father would be angry, but Sayaka loved looking out the window. Besides, he wasn't home from work yet. Outside of her window, there were people. Where people were, there would be hundreds, thousands of little glowing wisps for her to look at. All she had to do was focus on one little wisp, and she could hear what they were thinking.
Of course, she didn't know this. She never stopped to think about what exactly she was hearing. What five-year old would?
She brushed her dark blue hair out of her eyes and continued combing the street for green wisps, her favorite. All the thoughts were organized by color.
Green was happy. Sayaka loved these, because they always uplifted her spirits after listening to her dad yell at her when he was around. Red was angry. When she was in a foul mood, she liked to listen to these, because she sympathized with these people. Blue was sad. Sayaka disliked listening to those, but they were interesting when she could catch one. Purple was fear. Sayaka, whenever listening to these, was always worried for no particular reason, and because of this, never listened to these. White was none. White was always some random practical thought, such as what to make for dinner, what errands the person had to do. They were boring to listen to, but they were safe and a good time waster.
They each had little auras too. No auras were normally what almost everyone had. But, yellow was special, and a rare aura. They made Sayaka feel uplifted, better, and more hopeful after listening to them, even if she was listening to a sad thought. It was odd. Black auras were even rarer. They filled Sayaka's heart and mind with dread, fear, and despair.
And the voices. Sayaka heard a matter of different voices. Light, feminine ones. Gruff, burly ones. All the voices you could imagine and everything in between. They filled Sayaka's ears like the melodies she often sang to herself.
Guiltily, Sayaka turned her body to face her father. She bent her head over and flipped the hood of her hoodie on her head, her shoulder length blue hair covering her eyes, which were downcast to the ground.
"Sayaka. Look at me when I'm scolding you."
She lifted her face up with a jerk, making sure to not look at his eyes, but at his stomach, or his hair, anywhere but his eyes.
"What did I tell you about the window?"
"To close the curtains or it'll be cold…" She mumbled, tightening her pale pink hoodie around her.
"Yet you directly disobeyed my orders and kept the curtains open, right?"
Her father let out an annoyed huff, and shook his head. He turned around and walked out of her tiny room. Sayaka closed her white curtains that didn't even properly block out the light and sat on her bed with the cheap white sheets and horribly thin blanket. She saw a few red wisps leftover from where he was. She decided to catch them or they would fade within a few seconds.
"Why doesn't she ever listen?"
"Why her mother leave?! I can't handle her!"
"She is going to drive me to hell and f-"
Sayaka decided not to listen to that last thought.
Sayaka saw red. Well, not really. What she saw was a very annoyed father, red wisps streaming out of his head.
"What kind of 7-year old needs to see a counselor about her 'imaginary' visions? This is so goddamn stupid! I'm missing work for this!"
Said 7-year old who needed to see a counselor was Sayaka herself. At her yearly doctor visit, she had told the doctor about the wisps and visions she saw, and they decided to send her to a counselor. Like…like she wasn't normal!
She chewed on her hair, saying nothing. In fact, she was fuming. Why would her father actually agree with this? Was he TRYING to make her mad? She sighed sadly and stared out the car window. At least there were other people's thoughts to read…
"So, your doctor said that you can see colored lines come out of people's heads and hear their voices?"
Sayaka wanted to tell the truth. She really did, wanted to know what the heck was going on with her. But one read of the counselor's thoughts told her not to.
"God, these people are getting more insane every time. Why?"
"No." Sayaka said.
"Then why are you here? Are you lying?"
"No. I don't know why I'm here. Can I go home? Please? It's boring here and it was boring at the doctor's."
"Just don't make father pay for this. I was here for 5 minutes only, and he's really mad right now…"
"Well…I guess. But come back if anything happens, alright?"
"Please don't come back…I'm not in the mood to explain imaginary friends to snotty 7-year-olds."
Imaginary friends? Snotty? This lady was so rude! Sayaka stood up, smoothed down her itchy blue shirt and white skirt, and did an about-face, walking right out of the office. As soon as she had left, she started to panic a little. Would her father have to pay? Would the counselor tell her father that she was rude? Why did she do that? She re-entered the waiting room, and her father immediately looked straight at her.
"Can I go home?"
"You were in there for 5 minutes. Why?"
"I dunno! Now, can we please go home? I don't like this place. At all."
"Whiny brat." Was what Sayaka heard.
Sayaka re-read the script. Over. And over. She was auditioning for a musical play at the local theater. Her idol shows finally inspired her to try singing, to come out of her shell and get away from her father. So, after school that day, the 9-year-old ran to the community theater, flyer in hand, not even bothering to read thoughts.
She reassured herself over and over. After all, she had spent hours for the past few days singing and practicing her lines. She was going to be the water fairy. Originally, she had wanted to be the flower fairy, but she decided her blue hair would be better suited for the water fairy role.
She sang softly, under her breath. She did this with every line, until she pretty much had nothing left to look over and the words blurred in her vision. She focused on everyone else instead. Most of the thoughts were purple, fear.
"Don't screw this up…"
"Oh my god!"
"How do I remember this?"
"I'll never get this right!"
She found a girl who didn't have purple thoughts. Her hair was long and brown, in a ponytail. She was very pretty, like the kind of girl with a lot of friends and money. Her thoughts were green. Sayaka read one of them.
"This'll be easy. I have a lot of talent…and a lot of friends who support me…maybe I'll make it in because of talent, and not because my parents paid for it!"
"Your parents pay for you to get in to things?"
"What?" The girl had said. Oops. Sayaka had said that aloud.
"Um…Uh…" Sayaka cowered back a little, nervous.
"How did you know?"
"Good…in…tu…it…tion?" Sayaka used the word carefully, it being a new word she had learned recently. It meant quick insight…right?
"Wow. It must be really good. But…yeah. I'm Hoshi Fukui. What part are you trying out for? I'm trying out for the flower fairy."
"I'm Sayaka Maizono. And…the water fairy…since my hair and eyes and all…"
"Cool. Maybe if we both get in, we can be in the play together!" Hoshi said, cheerful.
"I'm trying out for the water fairy…are you sure?" Asked a girl from behind Sayaka.
This new girl had short black hair, a little past her shoulders and wavy, with bangs. Her eyes were nervous, drifting around, but she was also very pretty.
"The water fairy isn't a very shy girl. Try auditioning for the light fairy or something, it might be better for you. Besides, Sayaka looks the part." Suggested Hoshi to the girl. The girl dipped her head down.
"Yeah…I memorized all the script…So I can switch parts…"
"You did?" Sayaka asked in shock.
She shrugged. "It's not a big deal…" Sayaka listened to the purple thought drifting out of the girl's head.
"It is a big deal! Memorizing the script is impressive!"
"Eh!? How did you know what I was thinking?"
Shoot! What was Sayaka going to do? She hadn't meant to say that aloud! Oh, why was she slipping up so much today!?
"Instead of accusing her, why don't you introduce yourself?" Asked Hoshi.
"Oh. Um. Sora…Watanabe…"
"All we need is to find two more girls who are going to be the forest fairy and the healing fairy, and we can be a group!" Hoshi said.
"We've got that covered." Announced a new voice. Sayaka turned her head to see two more girls her age. One with short, reddish-brown hair that reached her chin, also very pretty, and another, the speaker, with long, dark brown hair divided into two batches on the back with bangs on the front. Her eyes were greyish-green and thin, and her ears and nose were kind of big.
"Hi! I'm Yuina Kagome! I'm gonna be the healing fairy, and this is Ayaka Haneyama!" Said the red-headed girl cheerfully.
"Oh Yuina, why can't you be quiet for two seconds?" Sayaka heard Ayaka think.
"That's kinda rude…Yuina seems very friendly…" Sayaka muttered.
"What's kinda rude?" Yuina questioned.
Sayaka had spoken aloud again. Dang it.
"How did you know what I was thinking?" Ayaka questioned, looking slightly annoyed.
"She has good intuition." Said Hoshi.
Sayaka peered out from behind the curtains. Here she was, dressed in a gorgeous water-fairy costume, a pair of lovely blue/transparent wings secured on her back, with the four girls she had met at the audition.
"How many?" Sora asked softly.
"Lots." Sayaka said.
Over these past few months of practice, Sayaka had learned that despite their personalities and who they were, they all had voices…of angels. And then there was her squeaky, scratchy voice. Well, that's what she thought. Maybe it was just the insecurity due to her father's ignorance and anger affecting her mind.
Sora had so much star power when she was singing, Ayaka had the best voice for wordless singing, as the forest fairy so often did, Yuina's voice was so high and clear, and Hoshi's voice would make you cry. Sayaka played with the blue ribbons woven in her hair, and started reading some of the thoughts of the audience. Some were green, most were white, one was…red?
"So excited to see Hoshi shine!"
"I hope Yuina does a good job."
"I wonder how this goes."
"Miyaiko said that the set was beautiful, and if she painted it, it must be true."
"Stupid Sayaka. Signing up for a god damn play without asking, then she expects me to come see her 'shine'? I'm only here because she can't walk home in the dark or the authorities will be up my as-"
That was her father. Of course.
Sayaka closed the curtain wordlessly and turned to face the group.
"Well, girls. let's give them the best performance ever!"
Take a bow.
She had done it. She had sang and performed in a play in front of a ton of people. They were clapping, cheering, thoughts were mostly green. Well, except her father's. That hadn't changed.
"Finally! That was boring as hell. Now I can go home."
Sayaka walked backstage, towards the dressing room. After quickly changing from her costume to some more comfortable clothes, she listened to her friends' thoughts.
"Th-that was scary..."
"Ah, no more rehearsals..."
"We were amazing!"
Smiling, she exited the room and went to listen to congratulations, and look for her father. She read a few thoughts, just to keep her from getting too bored.
"Sayaka? Sayaka Maizono?"
She turned around to face a middle age woman.
"I loved your performance, you were beautiful, and you had such a lovely voice."
"Th-thank you..." Sayaka said softly, blushing in the praise. Then she heard a familiar, scolding voice.
"Sayaka!" Sayaka turned around again to face her father.
"Oh, is this your father?" Asked the woman.
"Yes, I am her father, and I'm taking her home."
"Why? I was hoping to talk to her a little more."
"Because she signed up for this play without my permission, and I'm only here because she needs a ride home."
"Why would you sign up without asking your father?" The woman asked Sayaka.
"Because I knew he would say no...And...And I wanted to be like those idols on TV..." Her eyes welled with tears, fearing the punishment to come.
"Well, I think she has star power, and that she would make a wonderful musician. And those girls, the other fairies, their voices worked so well with hers. In fact...I'd like to try setting up a small concert with the girls. I talked to their parents already, and Sayaka would earn about 15% of the profit.
"Money? Sayaka can earn money from doing this useless act? Well, then...how do I say no?"
That was all Sayaka ever was to her father. An otherwise useless moneymaker.
"If you wanna rise to the top, then you gotta...believe!" She sang in harmony with the other girls. Her group. The Maizono 5. Here Sayaka was, in a huge concert with her group, being broadcasted to TV. It was the last day of the week-long event, and Sayaka was finally ready to stop singing and missing school, simply because her vocal cords were too strained to sing any more. She retreated off the stage, where she and the Maizono 5 were immediately surrounded by fanboys and girls alike. Taking a pen from a pocket in her skirt, she started signing autographs, taking pictures, smiling, laughing, posing, answering questions, putting up a perfect public appearance all while walking back to the car that would drive them all to the large house the girls shared.
No time to read thoughts anymore, because last time she tried to read fan's thoughts while walking, she nearly got trampled. It hurt. A lot. She just couldn't multi-task between walking, signing autographs, posing, waving, and mind-reading all at once!
Sayaka looked through the crowd for her father. Why she even bothered anymore, she had no clue. But still, old habits die hard. But he never showed up to any of her concerts. In fact, the last time she had seen him was when she bumped into him on the street, while he was on the way to the bank to cash in a check. A check that she had earned for him. The group reached the car and she stepped in, the car, waving once before going inside.
"Wooh! Finally! Last concert for the week!" Yuina cheered.
"But that means we have school on Monday." Ayaka pointed out.
"W-What's wrong w-with school?" Sora squeaked.
"Yeah! There's a ton of people there!" Hoshi said.
Sayaka ignored the conversation and looked out the tinted windows. She read a few thoughts as the car drove away.
"SQUEE! I GOT AN AUTOGRAPH FROM SAYAKA!"
"AYAKA AND SORA POSED FOR A PICTURE!"
"OMG OMG YUINA WAVED TO ME!"
"HOSHI! I LOVE HOSHI!"
These thoughts were always so shallow, but they did provide a boost of confidence. And confidence boosts, in all honesty, was what Sayaka lived for these days. She released her ponytails and ran her fingers through her long hair.
"Sayaka." She heard one of her friends say. Hoshi maybe?
"Hm?" She said, distracted.
"Are you okay?"
"You seem tired. And a little...out of it."
"I'm fine... The daily concerts for the whole week have worn me out..."
Sayaka turned her head to her friends, chatting sleepily in the car. She accessed their thoughts. She had stopped to consider that reading other's thoughts may be wrong, but as long as she didn't mention it, it was probably alright anyways, like how in the media. If the news didn't cover it, as a reporter once told her, then it was okay, and it never happened.
"Is Sayaka really okay?" Hoshi.
"I hope I never have to do a bunch of daily concerts again..." Sora.
Sayaka stared aimlessly out of the window, watching…well, nothing. The school courtyard was empty. Everyone was in class. She really should have been paying attention to the lesson, but why bother when she'd ace the class anyways? She felt guilty for thinking this way, really, but nobody even cared that she was cheating her classes because she was famous.
Well, one person remotely cared.
She didn't know him all that well, but had been working up the nerve to talk to him since that crane incident. She had accessed his thoughts once or twice, and she noticed there was a slight, faint yellow glow to his thoughts. From what she knew, a person's who thoughts had a yellow aura were the best kind to read, since they always filled her heart with hope, and peace, and happiness. She didn't know why his thoughts made her feel that way. They just…did.
The bell rang. Sayaka picked up her notebooks and folders, and then proceeded to file out of class with everyone else. Lunchtime.
Sayaka turned around to face her teacher. She signaled for her group members to go to lunch without her.
"You missed two quizzes while you were absent."
"Oh, I'm sorry, I'll retake them now if you'd like-"
"No, it's alright; I marked both scores as A+ in the gradebook. I just wanted to let you know."
"No, really, I'll retake them-"Sayaka insisted, but was interrupted by the teacher firmly telling her to go to lunch. She frowned slightly, but then put on her public smile and turned around to head to lunch. She caught the eye of Makoto Naegi. A slight, disapproving frown and a headshake. He had seen that. She cast her eyes down.
"And another grade she didn't earn…"
It's not like she wanted her teachers to give her good grades no matter what. It's just that they insisted!
"She really should try harder to deny her teachers…"
Makoto then left, and she stood there in stunned silence. Maybe she should try harder. She then started to get swarmed by students, girls wanting to be her best friend, boys wanting to date her for fame. The usual. Sayaka was sick of them today. She pushed her way through the crowds, ignoring the purple fear/surprise thoughts that popped up as she continued to push people's arms away. She had to tell Makoto that she couldn't help it!
But no, too late. The crowd swarmed her again and she groaned inwardly. She told herself to read thoughts, since that usually calmed her.
"What the hell was Sayaka doing?"
"She's so cute no matter what she does!"
"So close…just cut a piece of her hair…"
The mail was here. Sayaka was people watching. Normally, at this time, 10 AM, she'd be at practice, or at a photo shoot, or whatever she normally did during spring holiday. But today, she had a day off. Just her. Not the other girls. So, she sat in front of a window. She couldn't help but recall being 5, watching idol shows, avoiding her father, and people watching. Sayaka bounded down a few flights of stairs and walked to the entrance hall of the house. She wasn't exactly dressed for outside, and paparazzi could be everywhere, but whatever.
She briefly stopped at the fridge to check that she had lunch preparations for herself ready, and then walked outside, her hair casually done in a ponytail, wearing a comfortable t-shirt and pair of leggings. She checked in the mailbox.
Creepy love letters for her and Hoshi, which she tucked under her arm to throw in the garbage can, letters for her manager, mostly, and…wait.
A letter from Hope's Peak Academy? Addressed to….her?
Sayaka ran inside and dug into a drawer in her manager's office for a letter opener. She slid the blade through the top of the envelope, and pulled the letter out and sat on the office chair. Really, she shouldn't be in this room, but she couldn't contain her excitement. Could this really be…?
After a long scouting and selection process, we have selected you as a student to attend class 78 of Hope's Peak academy. Your official title will be the Super Duper High-School-Level Pop Sensation due to you being the leader of the idol group, The Maizono 5. Our first school day will begin on April 15th, and you do not have to come in uniform until you have been assigned the official one. More information on boarding and curriculum can be found on the website.
We hope you will accept this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend our school.
Headmaster, Jin Kirigiri
The paper crumpled in Sayaka's clenched fists. She was sure that anyone reading her thoughts would see nothing but green wisps everywhere. Of course, no one could read her thoughts since she was a mind-reader herself, but still…
She was gonna be a student in Hope's Peak! She had to tell everyone!
Sayaka told her groupmates first. There were mixed reactions. Although everyone acted happy, one glimpse in their thoughts told her otherwise.
"Wow! Sayaka's gonna be a student! She'll be set for life, and not to mention, we'll get that life bonus too!" Hoshi.
"Yayyyyyy Sayaka!" Yuina.
"…Good for her. As long as she doesn't miss any practices or concerts…" Sora.
"…Great. Just great. Now she'll get even more famous and leave us in the dust." Ayaka?
Her manager had readily agreed when Sayaka showed her the note. The only problem was, Sayaka needed the consent of a parent or legal guardian, which was technically her father. Joy. So, she dressed herself and set off on the long walk, about 30 minutes, to her apartment. Sure, she could take a car, but she liked walking, and it was spring anyways. Besides, she was famous, so if anything happened, the police would be on it in 20 seconds.
She clutched the letter in her hands as she turned corners and crossed streets. She intended to keep this Hope's Peak stuff secret until her father approved. She was sure he would, after all, graduating from Hope's Peak would guarantee success for pretty much ever, and more success meant larger checks from her every month. She poked in thoughts here and there.
"Hey, is that Sayaka Maizono?"
"Is that Sayaka?"
"What's she holding?"
"Is that the Hope's Peak symbol on that paper?"
Sayaka sped up her pace. It's okay, she was almost there, and the area around the apartment building was relatively empty. But, no people were following her! She rushed ahead, trying to outwalk everyone, her boots clacking noisily on the ground. Just a few minutes longer…
Ah! She was at the apartment building and her old home.
Sayaka entered the worn old building, with its bricks and crumbling roof. She headed straight for the stairs (There weren't any elevators) and started advancing to the top floor, where her father lived. Finally reaching her destination, she knocked on the door. Wait, why was she knocking? She had a key. It had been too long since she was here.
She dug the key out her long coat's pocket and inserted it into the knob. Her father probably wasn't even home. The door clicked open and she stepped inside. It was smaller than she remembered. But, the apartment was dirty, crumbled, even worse than last time she visited, when she was 11 or so. Also, there was a giant TV. And her father, looking horrible, sitting on the couch.
"Shyaka?" He was drunk too. So this was what he'd been spending the money on? Alcohol? What happened to her workaholic father who always wore a crisp shirt and tie? Whose hair was always neat, and not stringy? The face was definitely the same, and he overall looked exactly like her father. Although she never liked her father much when she was younger, at least he wasn't a mess to look at.
"Father? Is that you?" She asked, nervous.
"Yesh. What…briinggsss…you here?"
"I wanted to ask you something, but um…you're probably too drunk to notice."
"I…I got a letter from Hope's Peak academy. I need you to sign the forms attached to this letter so I can attend."
She handed her father the papers and warily read his thoughts.
"What the *bleep* is that *bleep* doing here?"
"Doesn't she know she's not *bleeping* wanted?"
"Maybe I'll make her feel my *bleeping* misery."
Misery? Her father scanned the letter, and then proceeded to tear it. She snatched it out of his hands and clutched the half-destroyed letter to her chest.
"I can stop sending you checks if you do this!" Sayaka exclaimed in horror.
"Fine you little-"Sayaka politely covered her ears as her father signed the lines.here ...