nobody's fault

keyakizaka46, hirate yurina

date posted: 2024-04-12

summary: At twenty-two, with her cat, the underside of her hair bleached blonde for her current drama, Hirate Yurina holds her cat closer to herself, relaxes her grip on the television remote, and lets the next Sakurazaka46 video play.

word count: 1,176 words

content warnings: depression

screen shot from new jeans ditto side a music video, showing the dark furred cat walking in a ray of sunshine in a school corridor

Hirate Yurina remembers the first time she heard Keyakizaka46's debut song.

There was something hopeful about it, she remembers hearing, in its opening guitar strums, its light synth plucks, the touches of strings in the background as they sung, "you have the freedom to be the way you are," to an audience of adults who had learned this already, to a screen audience of teenagers who would acknowledge the song, their debut, possibly download it, and move forward, while they danced, kept singing, "you have to walk an empty path."

On her couch, she idly pets the cat beside her, the cat her therapist encouraged her to get, that it would be good for her health, it would give her a reason to move forward that she had not found within herself yet. At the time, almost a year ago, she scoffed at the idea; now twenty-two, with a HYBE contract and drama deals and a Weverse community of fans alien to her and her wretched past as an idol, she is more at peace with the familiar presence of such a small, peaceful, bratty creature beside her.

The cat purrs as she pets it in silence, her hand moving down and then back up, slowly stroking the cat's long fur. She makes sure to comb through the fur at least once a week, even though she knows the cat can take care of itself. Maybe, just maybe, she wants the cat to know it is not alone.

The Hirate Yurina of Keyakizaka46 was alone. She knew it then, and she knows it even more so now. That Hirate Yurina played her part perfectly: her eyebrow furrowing and her face cracking into a demented smile as she danced out the end of Fukyouwaon, her expression faltering delicately, practiced, during Kuroi Hitsuji, during her spins and turns as she was shoved by the members just playing their roles, but she still felt the bruises from their shoves, didn’t she? She still felt the ache in her back as she hit the ground during Fukyouwaon, didn’t she?

Hirate Yurina, then of Keyakizaka46, now of nothing: to give herself up for a group’s image, does she still feel that call in her bones?

Does she have the right to?

She remembers the headlines; she doesn’t stay on the thought for long. She remembers what they said in the shock, the abrupt severance between Hirate Yurina and Keyakizaka46 unheard of.

Techi then, simply Yurina now, pets her cat, blankly watches the girls dancing on the screen in long, pale skirts, their outfits the color of gauze, wrapped around them so carefully, but spinning so lightly with their bodies as they dance in synchronization, harmony.

Harmony is not something Keyakizaka46 knew while she was a part of them, she thinks, and then shakes the thought away, lets it go, almost hears her therapist in her head commend her for second-guessing the thought; something she wouldn’t have done just a year ago, maybe even months ago. It’s become easier, these second thoughts, the self-refutations and rebuttals at her own unforgiving thoughts.

Wretched, she thought of her past with Keyakizaka46, before.

As she watches the Keyaki of today, Sakurazaka46, with their two centers, one thin and long in a ponytail, the other chubby cheeked, her hair at her shoulders, both of them holding pensive, determined expressions as they dance together to a brighter song, Hirate Yurina pets her cat.

She thinks this hectic life of hers, with dramas and big-name contracts and a budding, reluctant solo music career, is lighter, than it once was with just Keyakizaka46 to her name.

As she pets her cat and watches Sakurazaka46’s music videos, watches them succeed where she faltered, she thinks, no, she did not necessarily falter with Keyakizaka46; she knows she did not.

Her therapist would be proud, now, she knows. What progress she’s made, being able to think this way.

Hirate Yurina, petting her cat, hearing its purrs louder than the television volume set down low, but the thrum of the idol voices in unison still reaching her, as she had once sung with many of these girls, does not feel peaceful.

She thinks, though, or rather, knows, that her peace is attainable.

Maybe, for now, with a cat beside her, a day off in her hands presently, with Keyakizaka46 on her mind, she will not know peace.

But, at the same time, maybe, for now, she can relax her head against the couch cushions, rest her hand on her cat’s soft fur, gaze silently at the girls on her screen, recognize their effort and pure skill as they manage what Hirate Yurina, no, Techi had to hold on her own, separated from her peers by status, by center position.

The black sheep, their final song positioned her as. Their management were not wrong in that judgement, she thinks.

At twenty-two, with her cat, the underside of her hair bleached blonde for her current drama, Hirate Yurina holds her cat closer to herself, relaxes her grip on the television remote, and lets the next Sakurazaka46 video play.

As their re-debut song comes on auto-play, she lightly smiles to herself.

In her debut, she had sung "those who don't raise their voices are agreeing," and she didn’t believe it, or not believe it; she had sung, performed.

As these girls plead to have faith in life’s strength, to find strength within oneself, that it is nobody’s fault but oneself’s for lacking faith, she doesn’t know if she agrees with these lyrics, or disagrees with them, that sort of contradiction coming back to her, painfully easily.

She presses a button on the remote, reminds herself of the title of the song, the re-debut.

Their management knew what they were doing, didn’t they? With such a title as this, with Techi herself, with how they pushed her.

Her therapist tells her it wasn’t her fault, even as she holds little contact with her former group-mates, her contact between them and her severed the moment she left the group.

Sakurazaka46 tell her now, at twenty-two, that it is not her fault.

Hirate Yurina, glances beside her, at the cat she is clinging to. Its golden eyes look back at her, and she feels the warmth of its black fur permeating through her.

Sometimes, maybe her thoughts are right, even as she accepts and lets go of them like her therapist advises her to.

Sometimes, maybe things aren’t so black and white, right and wrong.

Sakurazaka46 proclaim that it is nobody’s fault. There is a double meaning to it, she recognizes. Maybe a triple meaning.

Hirate Yurina pets her cat and listens to these girls and their declarations, and thinks about the Techi of the past, stern and focused in public, starry-eyed behind closed doors. She thinks about the Techi that broke her back for the image of a group that wanted the idea of her more than herself.

She accepts that it was not Techi’s fault, and maybe, soon, she’ll accept that it is not Hirate Yurina’s fault.