Notes and Disclaimers: Kaleido Star, Sora, Layla and the Kaleido Stage are all the property of G&G Entertainment
Gonzo, AT-X, TV Tokyo, ADV Films,G&G Entertainment and Production I.G.
This story is meant to follow the Kaleido Star OAV, Legend of Phoenix: Layla Hamilton Monogatari, which was quite wonderful and you should alll watch it. Immediately. One quick relevant note - the fansubbers (and the folks who enter info on the various online encyclopedias) have had a great deal of difficulty with Layla's maid's name. I've just adapted the name as it appears in the credits of the anime to make it look in English like it sounds. "Macory" may not be right, but it's got to be better than "Maqui" which doesn't make any sense given the kana for the name."Coda (Italian for "tail"; from the Latin cauda), in music, is a passage which brings a movement or a separate piece to a conclusion through prolongation. This developed from the simple chords of a cadence into an elaborate and independent form. In a series of variations on a theme or in a composition with a fixed order of subjects, the coda is a passage sufficiently contrasted with the conclusions of the separate variations or subjects, added to form a complete conclusion to the whole." (From the Wikipedia entry.) This story is suitable for all ages, in the same way the Kaleido Star series is - which is to say that it may not be entirely suitable for some people, but in general is quite inoffensive. If you enjoy this story, by all means, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. Even better, buy a copy of my book, Shoujoai ni Bouken: The Adventures of Yuriko - then I'll really know that you enjoy my writing! And don't forget to "support" yuri by purchasing yuri anime, manga, t-shirts, gifts, and more from the Yuricon Shop! As always, WSF is a proud member of the Fanfic Revolution - because fanfic doesn't have to suck.
Codaby Erica Friedman
New York Reporter August, 14 20XX
Kaleido Star Disappears
Sora Naegino, the young star of Los Angeles Kaleido Stage, was reported missing this morning. She was last seen entering her dressing room after last nights performance of "Legend of Phoenix". Her co-star, New Yorker Layla Hamilton, could not be reached for comment.
Before coming to America, Sora Naegino was an unknown gymnast from Japan. But upon her arrival in Los Angeles, she made quite a splash at the famous acrobatic circus, "Kaleido Stage". Initially, she took minor supporting roles, but quickly grew into one of the most popular leads, often sharing the bill with other leads.
"Her so-called rivals inevitably became friends. Thats just the kind of person Sora is," one source close to the star said.
Sora was seen leaving the stage after the final performance of "Phoenix by a colleague, Ken Robbins. "She said shed meet us at the after-party. That was the last time I saw her. I cant imagine that shed just leave."
No statement has been made as to where she might be, or why she has not returned, but police do not appear to think that this is a criminal case. Kaleido Stage management confirms that no ransom has been requested.
Layla laid the morning paper next to her coffee cup and sat back with a soft sigh. "Its becoming a bad habit with us," she said as her cup was refilled. She smiled up at her long-time maid and companion, Macory. "Maybe its a requirement for being a Kaleido Star Must be prone to sudden fits of disappearance." Layla made the quote marks with her fingers.
Macory smiled at her mistress little joke, but her face grew serious as she regarded the headline.
"Are you going to look for her?" she asked, as if it would be the most natural thing in the world for a young, beautiful socialite from one of New Yorks elite families to go haring off after a unknown Japanese woman.
"Of course." Layla took the coffee cup in one hand, and took a piece of toast with the other. "Its my fault after all." She stopped Macorys protest with a sharp look. "You know it is. How many times did I run off when it became too much for me?"
The maids head bobbed, making her short, tawny hair shift slightly.
"But why would she wait until the run ended to leave?" Macory appeared to be thinking out loud, but Layla answered anyway.
"I dont know, yet. When I find her, Ill let you know."
Layla downed her coffee, wiped the crumbs of toast from her lips and stood. "Please make reservations for me to take the first flight back to Los Angeles Ill go pack."
Macory dipped her head once again, surreptiously glancing at the newspaper. "Be careful Miss Sora," she whispered, and ran off to do her mistress bidding.
Layla returned her tray to storage and pulled her seat to the upright position as requested by the flight attendant. She closed the notebook she held, stowed it away in her backpack, then tucked that safely away and closed her eyes.
It was her fifth day of a quest that had already taken her to Los Angeles, Vancouver and back to New York, where she had visited every place she could think of; big and small, city, town and farm, that Sora might have fled to.
So far, nothing. It had become very apparent that Sora Naegino was no longer in the Western hemisphere. And so, Layla was now preparing herself for landing at Narita Airport in Japan.
Carlos had, for once, been helpful - especially after Anna had given him hell for not offering to assist Layla in any and every way at his disposal. All she wanted, Layla had insisted, was Sora's home address. When she had that, she had taken her leave of the taciturn manager, promising to return with Sora or not at all. Then she had turned on her heel, smirking at the not particularly happy look on his face at that parting comment.
Layla drifted into and out of sleep, as she was driven into Tokyo. From there she would take a train, then a bus, then walk to Sora's parent's house. Whatever it took, Layla would do. She'd climb Mt. Fuji if she had to.
When she finally caught a glimpse of the mountain soaring high over the hills that surrounded the plain where Tokyo lay, she prayed fervently that she would not have to climb Mt. Fuji.
"I'm terribly sorry," Sora's mother's face was pale and worried. "We haven't heard from her at all."
Layla did not hide her disappointment. "You can't think of anywhere she might have gone?"
Sora's mother shook her head. She looked as if she was bravely trying to fight back tears in front of their visitor. Sora's father stepped up to lay a gentle hand on the woman's shoulder. "If we hear anything at all, we'll be sure to contact you."
Layla nodded. "I'll do the same." She turned, taking a few steps from the distraught couple, then stopped. Turning back, she smiled reassuringly at them. "I'm sure she's fine." Firmly, she willed herself to believe her own words, and left the worried couple to their private fears.
Past the gate, onto the street, Layla let her feet take her where they would. It had been a week and neither police, nor family nor friends had heard a word from Sora. She had visited every place she cold think of - Sora's school, Sora's old friends. No one had heard from her at all.
Layla sighed unhappily.
Why? She wondered. Why, just now, just when Layla had come to realize just how much she needed Sora in her life, had the other woman chosen to leave? "Phoenix" hadn't been good - it had been *amazing*. Not for the first time, Sora and Layla's passion had been focused together on one end; two hearts working as one. It was thrilling in a way that Layla could not describe. Her heart thumped loudly in her chest as she remembered the feeling of flying, knowing that at the same time on the opposite coast, Sora too, flew. The memory of their wings of fire reaching across the country to embrace each other made her breathing speed up as she walked.
Layla's steps slowed, then stopped. There was something she was missing here, she knew - something about Sora's heart she was not yet able to touch. Her own heart, she knew, had been untouchable for years, hidden away even from herself. It had been Sora who had reached out to touch it, warming it with her passion, her desire to make a stage that could include everyone. Tears sprang to her eyes, as she remembered the moment when Sora's Angel Technique had moved an entire audience to join her in the show. Layla too had wanted desperately to join Sora on stage, but she had stayed in her seat and watched, as acrobats from many teams - tumblers, jugglers, gymnasts, acrobat - all became part of Sora's perfect world. She smiled as she remembered the look of delight on Macory's face as the stage had become filled with entertainers of all kinds. That was Sora's special magic - her ability to fill other people's hearts with her vision.
Without thought or direction, Layla began to walk once more. What could have made Sora - the same Sora who had never before run from challenge or trial - run away without a word?
Ahead, Layla could make out a small park. She headed towards it randomly. As she approached, she could make out the telltale squeak of a swing. She smiled. Kids playing in the park? She rounded the corner of the wall to find the park completely empty, but for a single figure on the swingset.
Even from this distance, it was plain that it could be no other. She stood on the swing, bringing it to the extreme ends of its arc on both sides.
Layla watched as Sora lifted herself off the swing effortlessly, grabbed the crossbar with one hand, spun over and around the bar, pirouetting in mid-air, only to catch the swing once again.
Three times Sora executed this same move. On the third, her second hand joined the first on the crossbar, and her feet, rather than meeting the swing, touched the bar a moment later. Her hands released their hold and for a moment, she stood upon the crossbar of the swing set. Then once again she was spinning. Once, twice, three times she revolved around the bar...then she was flying.
Sora looked as natural in the air as a bird. Gravity seemed suspended as she executed a slow twist. With her arms spread like wings, Sora hung in the air for a long moment, then fell swiftly towards the earth.
Her foot touched down not, as she naturally expected, onto the solid earth, but onto something soft. Sora's eyes flew open to see Layla, arms up, hands extended upwards to meet Sora's descent. Layla let Sora's weight just settle into her arms, then thrust against the ground to lift Sora once again into the air. The brunette curled tightly into a ball, rolling skyward where once again she spread her wings and drifted into a delicate landing beside the blonde.
"Sora," Layla smiled.
"Layla-san." Sora bent over to take in a great breath of air, then stood, letting it out of her lungs with a sigh.
"I found you."
Sora's only response was to spin on her heel and head back to the swing set. She grabbed a chain and swung herself lightly onto the swing.
"Everyone is worried about you." Layla knew, immediately, that it was the wrong thing to say. Whatever had driven Sora away, it wasn't "everyone."
"Please tell them I'm sorry to make them worry." Sora's voice was empty.
"You should tell them yourself." Layla sat down on the swing next to Sora's.
Sora said nothing for a long moment, then, "I'm not going back."
Layla looked up in surprise. Sora's face was composed, she thought, then realized she was wrong. Not composed...resigned. She had clearly come to some decision, about what Layla could not begin to guess.
Layla Hamilton thought over the many things she could say. Sora, there are people who love you and miss you, people who care about you. They need you.
"I need you."
She didnt look up, but Layla could feel Sora stiffen. She didnt know if it was the right thing to say, but Layla spoke from her heart as she had seen Sora herself do so many times. Words spoken from the heart, filled with passion, filled with fire, words that had touched Layla - even at her coldest.
"If you dont come back . I need you Sora. Youre the only one who can push me, the only one who can make me grow," Layla smiled softly and ran her fingers through her recently shortened hair. "Youre the only one who could make me be reborn." She looked up at Sora who stood, stock-still on the swing, staring down at her with huge eyes.
In the ensuing silence, Sora slid to a seated position on the swing, looking down at her feet. She rocked back and forth slowly. "I cant." She said quietly, tears audible in her cracking voice. "I cant do it, Layla-san." She stood, taking a few steps away, the spinning around to face the older woman. "Its too hard!"
Sora put her hands to her face. "I cant take it. Every time we work together its like a dream come true. And then its over and " Sora sobbed. "And you leave. I cant take it anymore. I cant keep losing you, Layla-san. It hurts too much. Its too hard."
Layla stood, one hand outstretched. "Im so sorry," she said quietly. "I didnt realize I didnt even know my own heart until, well," she laughed self-deprecatingly. "Sora, come back with me. I wont leave you again. I promise."
Sora lifted her tear-stained face from her hands. Laylas heart thudded loudly at the sight. Tentatively, she stepped forward until she was within touching distance of the other woman. Her hands reached out to Soras shoulders, gripping them tightly. "Lets fly again Sora. Lets fly together."
Sora wiped her eyes and nodded. Layla laughed at the look of determination upon the younger womans face a look that always signaled a moment of transformation. Only this time it wasnt Sora alone who would be transformed.
Soras wings spread wide and embraced Layla.
Together they would fly, forever.
New York Reporter November, 02 20XX
New Kaleido Show Breaks Records
The newest Kaleido Stage show has broken all records of attendance, Kaleido management reports. "Baba Yaga" stars both New York socialite and star Layla Hamilton, and Sora Naegino, who disappeared this past summer. Naegino and those closest to her would only say that her absence was personal.
Since her return, Naegino has been even more popular as a star of the Kaleido Stage, announcing that she and Hamilton would be
setting up a school for young Kaleido hopefuls - and the two stars have begun looking for locations in and around New York City. Sources close to the pair say that they are looking to shape a "bright new future together."
The Kaleido Stage, was originally founded in Los Angeles by visionary manager Carlos
(Story Continued on Page D14)