korakuen

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Belle's POV

"Yeah...yeah...are you sure?...thank you so much...yes..." I hear Michael chat down the hotel phone.
I open my eyes and sit up from the warm bed, it's 5am.
Michael slams the phone down onto the stand, and squeals with excitement.
"Who were you talking to?" I ask, in a tired morning voice.
"Marie!" He says excitedly.
I flop back onto the bed, the silky sheets felt nice against my body.
"Why do you seem so happy?" I chuckle, looking up at Michael who was now stood beside the bed looking down at me.
"Marie is at the Santa Barbra airport right now, I'm sending her here on a private jet." He grins down at me.
"Why?" I frown.
"She's gonna take Hannah's place." He claps his hands together.
"You're firing Hannah? Does she know?" I smile. This has just made my morning.
"I just called Frank and explained the situation to him, he said he'd sort her out. She's leaving today, and Marie is arriving." He continues, joyfully.
"That's really good news." I smile while stretching my arms out on the bed.
"Are you okay with Marie being here? I know she's not you're favourite either." He raises his eyebrows, jokingly.
"No, it's fine. She's an upgrade from Hannah. And besides, Marie hasn't actually done anything blatantly to me. I'm just paranoid." I sigh.
Marie is also always all over Michael, similar to Hannah. But I have to keep in mind that Michael and Marie have been friends for much longer than give known him. I can't be suspicious of every woman in his life. I'm probably just being paranoid. I mentally push aside any negative thoughts about Marie, and decide to just celebrate Hannah leaving.
"Good. Now get up! We have a big day." Michael grins, patting me on the head like a dog. He walks off into the bathroom to wash his face, as I haul myself out of bed.
Minutes later, Michael and I are both changed and ready. I had put on some black loose trousers and a vest, there's no point putting an outfit together when I'll have to change into my stage clothes soon.

Michael's POV

As we walk down the corridor, I have a much needed conversation with Frank about the business side of the tour, as Belle trails behind admiring the view out the windows.
"And Bubbles?" I ask, my thumb against my lips in thought.
"He got a separate flight with more staff, he'll be at the stadium." Frank replies. "300 people waiting for the planes arrival just to meet Bubbles!" Frank scoffed.
I chuckle, "And the equipment was taken in the jumbo jet?"
"Yes. All the speakers, lasers, mirrors, screens, everything. It's sorted. There are apparently over 600 journalists waiting at the Korakuen arena for you. There's an interview scheduled for the both of us with Molly Meldrum, an Australian pop critic. It'll be aired on '60 Minutes' back in the States." Frank rambles. There's so much information to take in, I decide to just go with the flow instead of try and remember it all. I don't know how he manages, he's like a walking diary.
"Okay. Have you got the Pepsi sorted?" I ask. The tour is sponsored by Pepsi, and they said in the agreement they wanted free cans of Pepsi given out to people near the front as promotion.
"Yep. It's all done, Mike. You just need to focus on putting on a great show. You'll do good, man." He reassures me, his hand on my shoulder.
I turn back, to see Belle traipsing behind us, looking at the ground. I reach out my hand for hers, as she smiles at me and takes it.
"You ready, Isabella?" Frank looks at Belle.
"I am. Are all the costumes backstage now?" She asks nervously, catching up to walk beside us.
"Yes, don't worry. We have all the costumes labelled and sorted." He responds. "You okay about...Hannah?"
I see her eyes widen, as soon as Hannah's name is mentioned.
"Yeah, I'll get over it. I'm just happy she's gone." Belle snickers.
"About that..." Frank says awkwardly, as we continued walking down the corridor at a fast pace.
"What?" I question, frowning.
"We couldn't get her replacement over here fast enough, so for the first show, Hannah will have her usual parts. But the second show, it will be Marie and Hannah will go. I'm sorry, kid." Frank explains to us.
"Oh that's fine, it's only one show. I've dealt with her this long, one more show won't hurt." Belle shrugs, but I can see the disappointment in her eyes. I squeeze her little hand, and give her a reassuring smile, which she returns.
About an hour later, the limo pulls up behind the arena. We thought if we went to the back, we could avoid some press, but apparently they had the same idea.
The arena was absolutely swarming with paparazzi, reporters and critics. I don't know how we are going to get in.
"Shit." Frank says, looking out the window in thought as he smokes his cigar.
"What do we do?" I raise my eyebrows. Everyone in the limo was now staring out the windows at the masses of people and flashing cameras, all our jaws dropped.
Luckily, all the dancers and vocalists had come in a separate mini-bus earlier, and are all inside getting ready. But Belle, Frank, some more team and I, are stuck.
"We're gonna have to go through them, there's no other way." Frank sighed, puffing grey smoke out his mouth. The muffled sound of busy conversations and clicking cameras bombarded the outside of the arena, the limo was our safe haven.
"I can really slowly drive up to the entrance, so everyone will move out the way and you won't have to go so far." Ben suggests, from the drivers seat.
"Thank you so much, man." I sigh in relief. We have to go in a different entrance to everyone else, the 'Artist's Door'. It was a back way into the arena, where you go up a ton of steps to the arena, avoiding the ruthless press.
Although we were here 4 hours before the show, the madness had already begun.
The limo began to slowly make its way around to the Artist's door, people now smacking their hands on the windows of our limo. Camera lenses were pressed against the glass, completely destroying any glimpse of privacy I may have had.

Belle's POV

I've never seen anything like this before. Out of the windows, you could see nothing but rushes of desperate people. Faces of panic, excitement, stress, pain. It is truly mania. It feels like some sort of Purge.
When we arrive near to the desired door, we leap out of the safety of the limo and run. Security surrounds us as we quickly enter the building, and the metal door is slammed behind us.
Silence is restored, as we all catch our breath again.
"That was crazy." Michael says between breaths.
"That's just a taste of what tonight will be. You better be ready, boy." Frank belly-laughs, his chortle echoing around the hollow room. He's been in the business for decades. He probably thinks this is minor. He's seen the biggest crowds, dealt with the biggest stars, all of it. He's like Michael's guardian angel, his advice saves Michael a lot.
"I am. We all are." Michael puts his arm around me.
"Alright lovebirds, you head up and get changed. We'll be up soon, we will just temporarily try to contain some of the press." Frank takes another toke of his cigar.
Michael and I begin to walk up the metal steps, as they creak with every foot. The steps eventually lead up to backstage, somehow.
We are now fully absorbed into the tour atmosphere. The business has begun.

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