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Chapter IV: The Other Side of The Spoon

"Uh.. uhnn" Azusa tried to recollect. "What am I doing here..."

"Do you forgot our little chat this morning ?" the figure spoke.

"No, but I didn't thought you would do something like this !!" Azusa said confused and afraid.

"What is your favorite color ?" the figure asked.

"What kind of question is that ? Free me, please..." she said even more afraid than before.

"Answer me first, and I promise I'll free you."

"Blue !! My favorite color is blue !!"

"Good. Thank goodness, you are still you..." she then got near. Out of an unspeakable fear, Azusa closed her eyes until she felt that the woman was really untying her from the rope.

"There you go. Open your eyes, and take a good look."

Azusa did as the figure ordered, and her own world was turned upside down one more time again. In front of her, stood a dark blue dressed, older figure of herself.

"You... impossible." she said. "All the others are worried about you !! They've searched you everywhere !! Why aren't you with them !?"

"The others ?" adult Azusa said with an irritated voice "You mean Yui and her brain-washed followers !? Don't make laugh, Kitty. The others are gone years ago."

"B-But..."

"There are no "buts", missy. There's only me telling you my story and you listening to it." She said with a serious, but very calm tone. Despite the situation, despite the rude behavior of her future counter-part, Azusa felt again that sensation of trust she had when she first talked to her.

"Your story ? You mean, the story of this world ?"

"Yes, the real one: not that ridiculous thing they call the "Book of Many Magical Wonders." she said, stressing her disgust in the last part of the sentence. "I want you to know the truth, or at least the succession of events as I saw them and no one else remembers."

Azusa nodded silently: she had no choice, and she had to admit that she was curious to know.

"It all began seven years ago. At that time I wasn't part of Hokago Tea Time, since all the other members graduated one year before me. I was busy and happy leading my band as the new president of the Light Music Club. One day, I turned the TV in my room, and I saw a commercial about rice. Can you guess what the song of the commercial was ?"

"Rice is a Dish ?" Azusa replied.

"Exactly. I can remember the happiness of that moment as if it was yesterday: I had just no idea of what would come next. That was the beginning of the end of the world as we know it."

Azusa looked her adult counterpart with a shocked expression, unable to consider such statement more believable than the things she read on the Book of Many Wonders.

"Rice is a Dish became a single. The most successful single ever made, to be precise."

"HTT fame sky-rocketed, and Yui, who used that success in combination with her adorable look and childish voice to promote peace as many others artists did before, became famous beyond any imagination in the blink of an eye. Her account on Twitter got so many followers at once that the system crashed, and she had to turn it into a protected one."

"She became so famous... just singing a song for a commercial and talking about peace !?" Azusa asked in shock.

"Famous doesn't actually even begin to define her popularity." adult Azusa said to her. "Do you remember that Justin Bieber guy ?"

"Of course" Azusa replied naturally.

"Well, he sent a request to Yui to become one of his Followers on Twitter. His request is still Pending."

"Unbelievable" Azusa said.

"And the worst part has yet to come." Adult Azusa with a streak of sadness in her voice.

"On a winter day, at 4:47 pm, Yui gets hit by a bullet in the head during a beneficence concert right before a performance."

"What !?" Azusa said horrified. "Who would do such a horrible thing to someone like Yui !?"

Adult Azusa sighed, and answered: "Justin Bieber."

"But.. but why !?"

Adult Azusa sighed again, and answered "his request was still Pending".

"The bullet didn't manage to kill her, of course. It didn't go deep enough to hit a vital part." she continued "A three hours-long, very complicated operation was done to retrieve the bullet from her brain. It was as if all the world stopped breathing for three, interminable hours, as the fate of a lovely, young little girl was hanging between life and death."

Adult Azusa's voice was always low and deep, but her younger self from the past could clearly feel the emotion in her voice.

She could see her, holding Mio and the other girls hands to face those moments together. She could hear her pray with all her strength God, Buddha, and all the godly beings she knew to save her friend and bring her back to her.

"In the end, Yui was safe." Adult Azusa felt relieved for a second, but her voice soon turned back as grave as before " But something changed her, and in time it would change the whole world as well. A harmless fragment of the bullet remained in her brain, somehow raising her IQ... twenty times over."

"Twenty-times ?" Azusa asked back.

"At that point, both her popularity and intelligence became unparalleled all at once. She became... unstoppable. The Pink Revolution, The Secret Ingredient, and all the rest... it's all true. The combined power of moe, intelligence and mass control made of Yui and the rest of the world what you see now."

"In just seven years !? How can it be ?"

"Seven years ? Pfft, she made all of this in just one." adult Azusa replied with an almost mocking tone.

The young Azusa tried to gather all of the crazy information and put them all together. It all seemed like a strange, somehow cruel joke to her.

"But why didn't you and the other girls tried to talk to her ?" Azusa asked with a trace of anger in her voice.

"Ritsu saw Yui's popularity as a way to make profit. For Mio it was the perfect opportunity to stop singing and go back from the spotlight - she never liked to be too popular in the first place. Mugi was just fine with that, as always. When Yui began to devise her own cutish schemes of world domination, it was too late. When I managed to get back to the band as a member, the others were all changed already. A place as the fourth Moenister was ready for me: I refused, and disappeared."

"I... I see." Azusa replied in disappointment.

"Now, let's get to business, Kitty Kitty: the reason why you are here."

"Right... how did it happen ?" Azusa asked immediately " Do you have a time machine or something ?"

"A time machine ?" she replied with an irritated and sarcastic tone "If I had something like that, I would have gone in the past and changed the events myself !! No... I prayed. I prayed with all of my strength for a chance, just one chance to stop all of this. And a few nights ago, I had a dream where you were lying asleep in the middle of the street where I found you yesterday morning."

"A prayer... ?" young Azusa asked in disbelief "...that's it ?"

"That's the one only explanation I have. I'm afraid you'll have to stick with that. The point it's not how you came here: the point is why, and how you can get back."

"What... !? Y-you mean you know how to do it !? You know how to make me go back to my reality !?" Azusa asked with hope and anxiety in her heart and her voice.

"Possibly. But first things first. You try to help me, then I try to help you." adult Azusa replied coldly.

"What do you want me to do then ?" the young Azusa yielded.

"I bet someone had you take a tour of the city, right ?" adult Azusa asked. "In that case, you must have seen Hugging Square."

"Yes, I did. What's about the square ?"

"It's not the square, but what lies on the sea in the distance."

Young Azusa then remembered. She saw many absurd things that day that seemed to pop out from a Disney cartoon or the most childish anime the human mind can conceive, so at the time she labeled what her older self was referring at just as another weirdness.

From the sea, there was a huge, pink tarpaulin that was hiding something very, very tall. Possibly a giant monument or a building of some sort.  

"That's the Moempress secret project. Nobody knows exactly what it is, except for the Moenisters, her most trusted companions and of course the workers employed. What I know, it's that it's finally complete and it will be shown to the public on Tuesday."

"What do you want me to do ?" young Azusa asked.

"I want you to get to know what is all about. Tomorrow evening, I will come to get you and you will tell me what the secret project really is. At that point, I promise you I'll do everything I can to get you back to your time."

"I... I don't understand. Why such a hurry ? And what will you do next ?" young Azusa was just too curious and somehow even worried not to ask.

"I must stop them... before it's complete." adult Azusa replied with a determination that made her younger self shiver.

"All alone ?" she asked.

"Everybody is happy in this world, remember ? Things like security are non-existent. Even the guards at Pink Castle are just for show: you wouldn't be here otherwise."

"But... how ?"

"I don't know yet. That's why I need your help. I want you to use your "similarity" to me to get the Moempress tell it to you, and you must do it before Monday evening. Time is on the essence, and failure it's not an option."

"But... that's horrible !!" young Azusa replied in shock. "You're just telling me to use the affection she still feels for you to cheat her and ruin her surprise to the world !!" that realization hurt her even more as she said that: how could she become such a monster, even in such a weird future ?

That thought alone was enough to horrify her, but it got even worse when she realized that that was her older self's plan since they first met, and that she played her part without even knowing it.

"Horrible, you say ?" adult Azusa replied with sarcastic composure "Let me ask you a question, then: did you ever heard anybody refer to me as "Azusa" ?" she then asked politely.

"Well... no." young Azusa replied with a streak of sadness: a part of her realized what her older self was going to get to.

"Everybody keeps calling you "Azu-nyan"".

"Do you know why ?" adult Azusa asked, but she gave the answer herself this time "Because "Azusa Nakano" as a being ceased to exist. She was removed by everyone's memory and replaced with "Azu-nyan", and that's just because the Moempress thinks it's cute."

"But that's not just about me, my younger self" she said before young Azusa could reply. "She did the same thing with everything else she didn't like. Not just hate and violence, but even grim or serious stories. She turned the whole world into a dumb, ever-smiling version of itself."

"But why the secret project, of all things ? What could she hide under that giant tarpaulin so that just stopping its development would change everything back the way it was ?" young Azusa asked, even if it sounded more like a desperate attempt to stop her older self's proposition than a real question.

"The Moempress is a genius, did you forgot !? The secret project is her ultimate work. Whatever it is, it will affirm once and for all the superiority of her vision over everyone else !!" Azusa's feelings were mixed: somehow she didn't really wanted to believe what she just heard.

"Look at me. Look into my eyes now, and give me an answer to this." adult Azusa said with an imposing voice, and as her younger self managed to look her into her eyes, she asked "Do you think I'm some kind of monster ? Do you think I don't want everyone to be happy, too ?"

Her glance pierced the young Azusa as a knife. She realized she was asking that question to her as an ultimate test of resolve.

"You have one day to decide." she said then. "If you think that the world it's fine the way it is, then just don't care about the plan and enjoy yourself. If you think that I'm right, then you must have the Moempress tell you what the secret project is. Don't even bother asking to the Moenisters or anybody else: they'd never tell you even under torture. In any case..." she sighed, as if the thing she was about to say could have dire consequences "...in any case, I promise I'll help you to get back to your time. All I ask you is one day - and considering that I prayed for years for this chance, you have to concede me at least that."

"Are you sure there is no other way ? Maybe there is a way to convince the Moempress..." young Azusa knew she had to try again to persuade her interloper.

"Talking to her, you say ? If you think it can be done, why don't do it yourself ? I won't stop you, as long as you don't tell her about me."

"Why not ? Why do you hide from her ?" young Azusa asked back

" "Azu-nyan", remember ? The first thing she would do would be squeezing me with a hug, and then she'd start telling me how the world became cool and other silly stuff. Before I could realize, I would find myself wearing that stupid Moenister's outfit. At that point I'd be just another of her adoring puppets like everyone else, and all would be lost."

"One day." young Azusa replied.

"It's all I need." her older self replied with a grin on her face. "Tomorrow is Monday, you see. The day of The Weekly Wonder Wheel."

"Even Mio mentioned it to me, but what is that ? Why is everyone so excited about it ?"

"You don't know yet, do you ?" adult Azusa replied with another big grin "I'm not going to tell you anything, then: I don't want to spoil you the "fun"."
Well, well, well, everyone. Just to be clear the true identity of the "mysterious figure" was never meant to be a plot twist in the first place (even if the pacing of the story would suggest of the contrary). 

*LITTLE SPOILER*
The next chapter will be a pretty irrelevant one in terms of plot advancement, but one of the most significant... "things" I will ever write in my life in terms of symbolism and pseudo-philosophical interpretations of life.  No, really...

Chapter III:
crawler3333.deviantart.com/art…

Chapter V:
crawler3333.deviantart.com/art…

K-on (c) belongs to Kakifly
:iconcutebunny50:
Cutebunny50 Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
For some reason, you incorporated Justin Bieber into this story...
Wow... xD

Also, yeah, I should've known it was her older self. I had a feeling right before she was revealed. XD
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:iconcrawler3333:
Crawler3333 Featured By Owner Edited Aug 8, 2014
The inclusion of Justin Beiber happened literally as I was writing the fanfic. I really had no idea of who could be the culprit, and I choose him because he's quite hated by the otaku community.

On the other side, one of the many layers of the interpretations of this fanfic (many of which exist only in my mind) it's about how fans (like Beliebers or whatever they're called) cling on their favorite celebrities and never question their actions no matter what they do (it is basically the rise and fall of the Moempress metaphor). So, on some aspect, PTTF is on Bieber side as well, suggesting how having so many people relying on you and following you blindly can crush you and lead you to the wrong path.
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:iconcutebunny50:
Cutebunny50 Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well, of course we hate him. xD 
For many reasons, but he also, for some inexplicable reason, hates Miku and anime. So there's that. xD (Sorry if you happen to like Bieber. xD) 

That's an interesting interpretation. ^^ Yeah, it's true. ^^ 
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