Chapter 7:

Chapter 7: Autographs

Solus: The Pairing of Fate


“What are you doing around here?” Bookmark here

“Ikuro? What about you two?”Bookmark here

“We had a gathering with another family near here.” Madoka had answered my question Bookmark here

“Our parents made us go, what brings you here? The only place I know around here would be the...Ahh...I see now.” Ikuro had a grin on his face while looking towards the Mikase Household.Bookmark here

I don’t really feel like I had done anything wrong by not telling them I went out with Suzuha or anything, but with the faces the two of them were looking at me with, it felt otherwise.Bookmark here

“It’s not what you think, I was just walking her home.”Bookmark here

“But...we didn’t say who it was or what happened.” Madoka was sneering at me as she wandered towards me, looking up.Bookmark here

“Let’s go, Izuya. You are going to tell us all about your little date, no details spared.” Ikuro placed his arm around me while pushing me forward by the neck.Bookmark here

What an unlucky meeting. Of all the people I could have met, I just had to run into the two that would never stop pestering me unless I told them everything. First Alvus and now them, it feels like my privacy for today was non-existent.Bookmark here

For the next hour, I was interrogated thoroughly by them at my house, sparing no details. From time to time, I would try to counter their questions by probing them on why they were alone together but to no avail.Bookmark here

“Still...You and Suzuha huh? What’s the deal with you two?”Bookmark here

“Nothing really. I just invited her out for lunch.”Bookmark here

“Date.” Madoka interrupted.Bookmark here

“Right, date. And I accompanied her home, that’s all. Is it that weird for me to be with someone else?”Bookmark here

“~Yes.” The both of them had replied harmoniously.Bookmark here

“I mean, Izuya. Even in middle school, you have never hung out with anyone besides us.” Ikuro bluntly laid out.Bookmark here

“Well..that’s…”Bookmark here

“You don’t really have any friends besides us anyways, so of course it was surprising.” Bookmark here

“That’s a rather harsh way to put it, Madoka…”Bookmark here

“It’s the truth, isn’t it?”Bookmark here

She was right. I was a rather peculiar kid even in middle school. Most of the time I spent was either with Ikuro and Madoka or I was just alone. I didn’t have any friends that I could speak of, even from elementary school. Bookmark here

People do come up to me a lot, not for pure reasons of course. They saw it as an opportunity to get close to either Ikuro or Madoka using me, and when it didn't work out, they would just leave and start to spread malicious rumors about why I was always with them.Bookmark here

I figured out how the world works rather early on and decided not to bother engaging in such fake friendship of sorts and rather just let things progress naturally, leading to me spending the whole of middle school without any other friends.Bookmark here

If there was one friend I could speak of, it would only be the friend I made online whose face or voice I don’t even know.Bookmark here

“I do have friends alright?!” I wasn’t entirely wrong, the Alvus girls could be said to be my friends.Bookmark here

“People you know from work or online don’t count.”Bookmark here

“Ugh.”Bookmark here

The conversation lasted till late at night as they kept bringing up the past and we reminisced about it together. It wasn’t long after our chat ended that Ikuro and Madoka left when Ayane came to pick them up. It looked as if Ayane wanted to come in and hear about my date today then leave.Bookmark here

“Hey, Izuya.”Bookmark here

“What do you want now, Ikuro.”Bookmark here

“Chill out, I’m not going to tease you anymore. Are you not going to join a club yet? They do help your grades.”Bookmark here

Our school has a rather special system. In hopes to uphold their reputation, they would fill the clubs with famous athletes from middle schools but it doesn’t always fill up the numbers. This was why they gave special credit to students that were willing to join and participate in a club.Bookmark here

“Do I have to…”Bookmark here

“Well, not really. But it doesn’t hurt, right? It’s not as if you have got much to do after school anyway.” I glared at Ikuro as he put his palms out in an apology.Bookmark here

“What about the kendo club? It’s mixed gender and still recruiting. I heard the members there are all super pretty. With your abilities, you could probably get in no problem.”Bookmark here

“I’m going to tell Madoka you said that. What kind of person do you think I am? Joining a club just because the members are pretty.”Bookmark here

“A pervert?” I hit Ikuro in the stomach as he said it.Bookmark here

“They are rather strong in the region. You could check it out and see if you want to join. They have a friendly exchange with another school in about a week so why don’t we go together?”Bookmark here

“Was you asking me about joining a club because you wanted someone to accompany you?”Bookmark here

“Bingo.”Bookmark here

“Sigh...fine. We can check it out next week, you need the special credit anyways looking at your recent grades.” I casually mentioned Ikuro’s recent grades from the test which wasn’t particularly great as he didn’t really focus on studying.Bookmark here

“Hey! Don’t mention the small details.”Bookmark here

Even though I didn’t belong to a club, I had heard much about our Kendo club. They were rather famous for being strong, especially since the 2nd strongest high school girl was enrolled here. I did wonder why the strongest one didn’t enroll to considering the benefits and prestigious name of our school but it seemed to be a rivalry with the 2nd.Bookmark here

“Hey...Izuya.”Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

“You aren’t going to really tell Madoka right?”Bookmark here

Ikuro was seemingly sweating from nervousness at the thought of Madoka finding out his true intentions on joining the Kendo club. Bookmark here

I can’t miss this opportunity. With this information, I could tease Ikuro for a rather long time and exert my revenge. He probably knew it too considering he looked at me nervously and gulped.Bookmark here

This is going to be fun.Bookmark here

XXXBookmark here

“So Mr.Helix, what did you call me out here for?”Bookmark here

Two days ago, I received an energetic phone call from Mr.Helix, the Solus researcher. He was rather persuasive in wanting to meet me before he heads back to his home country, calling me out to a fancy restaurant and all.Bookmark here

I felt rather out of place at a fancy restaurant like this despite having been here a few times with either my parents back in the past or with Ikuro. Being in this sort of environment with a total stranger was definitely a first for me.Bookmark here

“You can relax, Izuya-kun. I just wanted some extra information before I head back home.”Bookmark here

We were seated in a private room as various exquisite dishes were laid out in front of us. Bookmark here

“Feel free to dig in, it’s my treat. Regarding your request and my research, I will be heading back to Europe to gather some of my trusted colleagues and friends who are of similar interest before coming back. We are currently in the midst of developing a more detailed way of determining Solus pairings. The next time I would come back would be around three months or so from now.”Bookmark here

“I see. So what kind of information do you want from me? Just so you know, I don’t really know much about my Solus pairings or things of that sort.” I replied, feeling a little nervous about what questions he would ask me.Bookmark here

I am probably the only one currently that was determined to have two Solus pairings despite having no prior knowledge nor idea about who or where they might be. Bookmark here

“No no, nothing of that sort. I just need basic information about yourself, behaviors, and such. I would like to run a preliminary test of sorts back home to further improve our research before coming back.”Bookmark here

Just like he mentioned, Helix had only asked basic questions such as my name, favorite food, hobbies, and such. While I was answering, I did wonder how any of this information would be useful in helping out research and even if this whole thing was a scam.Bookmark here

Helix assured me that it would help out greatly and had shared with me some research documents, explaining their new Solusia that determines the pairings even more accurately, not that I had understood anything that was said.Bookmark here

“Before we go off, I need to confirm. Are you still keen on breaking off your friend’s Solus pairing? If we do go through with it and you succeed, there’s no guarantee that he will accept it.” Helix had a serious look on his face as he crossed his fingers in front of his face.Bookmark here

“I’m sure of it.”Bookmark here

“How sure are you that the pairings are definitely true?”Bookmark here

I explained to him the various circumstances and coincidental events I saw, and how Madoka and Suzuha’s parents found that their Solus was nearby. Helix’s eyes seemed to glimmer whenever I spoke of the events as he nodded his head in agreement.Bookmark here

“I see, that is unfortunate for your friend. The forbidden love due to their circumstances makes it hard for it to bear fruit. If I didn’t hear wrongly, it appears that your friend, Ikuro, was it? He isn’t yet aware of his Solus pairing but he knows that he is in love with another?”Bookmark here

“Y-Yes, that’s right…” I was genuinely shocked that Helix had actually paid great attention to my explanation and said all that with a serious look on his face.Bookmark here

“Then, how are you sure that his Solus partner will not be in love with him or desire him? Depending on your answer, I might not be able to help you based on my own morals, seeing how it would only benefit your friend.” He exclaimed.Bookmark here

“That...I’m sure of it…”Bookmark here

“How can you be?”Bookmark here

“Because…”Bookmark here

“Because?”Bookmark here

“Because she confessed to me the other day before telling me about her situation,” I said out softly, being embarrassed about my own statement and faced downwards.Bookmark here

When I looked up, Helix was there with an astounding face before he broke into a smile.Bookmark here

“Ah! Now it all makes sense. This is a rather complicated situation, isn’t it? Although I’m not sure whether it is the right choice for you to keep all this a secret from them.”Bookmark here

“It’s kind of complicated on their end. If I were to tell them this, it might probably ruin them.” Bookmark here

This was true. I periodically get updates from Ikuro on what Madoka’s family is doing while she stays at Ikuros’. Her siblings have been annoying her while her father was disturbing her even more. Ikuro was possibly her one last saving grace. Bookmark here

If Madoka found out about all this, it would be as if her last hope was ripped away from her and I couldn’t do that to her. Bookmark here

“I see...I’m not one to probe further, so I will leave it at that.” Bookmark here

Helix got up and paid after all the questioning and we parted ways soon after, he did mention he would be coming back in three month’s time so I would see him then. While still trying to make out what Helix had blabbered to me about Solusia, I headed to work.Bookmark here

I was planning to be lenient with their lesson today but considering how they were pestering me and teasing me for more details about the recent outing with Suzuha, I decided to be a demon.Bookmark here

“Itsuka, where are the girls? Bookmark here

“Boss Fujiyoshi, what are you doing here at the office? The girls are currently in their tutoring session, right this way.”

Bookmark here

As the girls were doing the assignments that I had prepared last night for them, I heard a small commotion outside. I opened the door only to find an unknown woman standing before me, with a very meek-looking Ochiai in the back.Bookmark here

“Ochiai-san, who’s this?”Bookmark here

Purple long hair, dressed in a professional-looking outfit while still looking rather casual and wearing shades, the woman standing before me exerted a rather empowering aura.Bookmark here

“Hm? Ah, Ms.Fujiyoshi!”Bookmark here

Fujiyoshi? Where had I heard the name before? Taking off her shades, the lady stared straight at me with discerning eyes.Bookmark here

“Izuya-kun, Izuya-kun.” Chitose had called out to me prompting me to look back.Bookmark here

“What?”

Bookmark here

“That’s Ms.Fujiyoshi Akane. The director and founder of our agency.” Chitose said with a smirk on her face.Bookmark here

“!” Noticing my mistake and blatant rudeness, I was in a state of panic. Fujiyoshi Akane, the founder of the TKM agency. One could say that TKM got to where it is today solely thanks to her contributions. She is widely known for her skillful eyes that could spot talents. Bookmark here

It was a proven fact considering most of the celebrities today, be it, actors, singers, or models have been scouted by her at first. In short, she was my actual boss. I instinctively bowed down to her as I apologized.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry for not recognizing you, Ms. Fujiyoshi. I think this is the first time we met, my name is Hikaru Izuya. I am the employed tutor for the girls here.”

Bookmark here

I messed up. Even if I didn’t know everyone that worked here - Not that I needed to - I should have at least known my boss.Bookmark here

“So you are the rumored tutor.”Bookmark here

“...”Bookmark here

“I heard much about you from Ochiai and the others. You seem to be rather competent. Keep up the good work.”Bookmark here

Getting praise from someone who is known to have rather discerning eyes did put me in a good mood. Ms. Fujiyoshi wasn’t one to simply give out compliments like that. The fact that she gave one to me was rather surprising, to the point that Ochiai in the back raised her head in shock.Bookmark here

“Pack your stuff girls, we have something to attend to. Izuya-kun, you can head home for the day, it will still be treated as a full day’s work. The girls have an interview to do now.”Bookmark here

The four of them immediately packed their materials without much complaint. It seems that this was a common occurrence for them.Bookmark here

“Even if you are busy today, remember to finish your assignments and review them, I will do the rest through our phone group.” I had said to them as I walked out the door.Bookmark here

“Aghh...Even as he leaves, he tortures us.” Kana reluctantly said as she packed,Bookmark here

“I’m surprised you could still say that in front of Ms.Fujiyoshi…” Lena seemingly retorted.Bookmark here

“It’s still my job, during or off work.” Bookmark here

I left the office after giving my thanks to Ochiai and Ms.Fujiyoshi. Although I did want to empathize with their busy schedules and give them lesser work, I couldn’t. If I did that, they might fall behind even further than they already are thanks to their busy schedule.Bookmark here

My goal as their tutor was to ensure they get the results that they were satisfied with and get into a school of their choosing. Although I have not heard which schools they were aiming for, I used mine as a standard. At that level, they would be able to get into almost any school in Japan.Bookmark here

XXXBookmark here

“Sigh.”Bookmark here

“What’s wrong Izuya?”Bookmark here

Despite just entering the class, I collapsed on my desk with Ikuro poking at me. Bookmark here

“Just the usual.”Bookmark here

The usual. Meaning I was once again kindly confronted by other students in the morning. It would always start with some over-obnoxious kid trying to feel superior to me by bragging about everything that his family has and how I don’t deserve to be in this school.Bookmark here

I could only wonder if all the students were like this seeing as each and every day, the ones confronting me were different. Bookmark here

“Today was hilarious though. One of them sarcastically asked me if I only got in by doing special favors or buying my way in. So I simply answered ‘Isn’t that what you guys did?’.”Bookmark here

“Ballsy. And did they do anything to you afterward?”Bookmark here

“Did you think they could?”Bookmark here

Of course with my snide remark, the petty gang was rather relentless and resorted to violence. I wasn’t one for it and was a pacifist instead, hence I resulted to simply dodging everything until they got tired before I left.Bookmark here

As we were chatting around, I noticed the usual group of athlete girls who gathered was staring in our direction. Were they interested in Ikuro? I guess he is a prime candidate for a partner, seeing how he has everything one could ask for. Wealth - Personality and a handsome face to boot. Unfortunately for them, this goof is already madly in love with another.Bookmark here

I was going to simply ignore them when I noticed one of the girls slowly approaching us. Ikuro doesn’t really notice people’s intent. Even if a girl was interested in him and approached him, he wouldn’t think much about it. If Madoka would catch wind of it though...it wouldn’t be a pretty side. Bookmark here

No matter what, I will do my best to protect Iku-Bookmark here

“Hey, Hikaru-kun.”Bookmark here

They were asking for me?!! I feel utterly embarrassed about my monologue now.Bookmark here

“U-uh yeah?” Bookmark here

Although they were not technically like the other rich elites in this school, nothing good would ever come from them wanting something from me.Bookmark here

“I was just wondering,” The girl who approached us slowly took out her smartphone from behind her before raising it to my eyes.Bookmark here

“Is this you coming out from the TKM agency?!”Bookmark here

Cough Cough!” I choked on the water I was drinking.Bookmark here

“This is you isn’t it? I was passing by the area when I noticed you coming out, and guess what? Alvus’s members came out minutes after!”Bookmark here

I have been seen. One by one, my classmates slowly turned their attention towards me. This was bad, I usually take good care not to get noticed by anyone since that would bring all sorts of trouble.Bookmark here

“Do you perhaps know members of Alvus? What’s your relationship with them? How did you even get to know them?”Bookmark here

My job there was something that I kept secret even from my close friends like Ikuro since that would violate a few terms of my contract. So despite me looking to Ikuro for help, all I received was a death stare from him and most of my guy classmates. Note, Ikuro was a major Alvus fan.Bookmark here

“Well...I was simply there by...chance?” I tried wiggling my way out of the situation.Bookmark here

“There’s no way that you would just be there by chance. What are you hiding?”Bookmark here

“Well…”Bookmark here

Ochiai did say that my job as their tutor wasn’t necessarily a secret but I always chose to not tell anyone, fearing the current situation would happen.Bookmark here

“I am employed by them…”Bookmark here

“As a talent?! That’s awesome!”Bookmark here

“No...As a tutor for Alvus.”Bookmark here

“Heh...HEH?!” The class erupted.Bookmark here

“Hold up, Izuya! You mean you were the mysterious tutor for Alvus?” Ikuro shouted more passionately than I have ever seen him.Bookmark here

“Uh...yea? Wait, what do you mean by a mysterious tutor?”Bookmark here

“Don’t you know, Hikaru-kun? In a lot of interviews with Alvus, they almost mentioned their tutor being the only reason they could cope with both studies and work.Bookmark here

Huh. I didn’t know they thought that highly of me...Maybe I was too harsh on them yesterday.Bookmark here

“And how he was a demon, has a bad personality and other stuff.” one girl explained.Bookmark here

...Maybe I wasn’t harsh enough on them.Bookmark here

“Woah, that is awesome dude!” One of the elite boys tapped me on the shoulder as he said. He must have been a fan of Alvus.Bookmark here

It was funny how their attitude totally changed the moment they knew I had connections to a famed company like TKM. Although, I could probably guess their motives for it.Bookmark here

“Izuha right? So like...could you get us their autographs?” One of the guys from the elites’ group asked out.Bookmark here

Yeap. As expected, they only got friendlier to me for their own benefits, although I won’t say that is true for all of them, most of the people gathered before me were. They simply chose to ignore whatever they said or did to me for the past few days, heck the guy didn’t even get my name right.Bookmark here

“I can’t do that. It’s a breach of my contract. Sorry.”Bookmark here

“Tch...oh well. But at least pictures, can’t you do that at least?”Bookmark here

“That’s a little…”Bookmark here

The various requests poured in while I tried my hardest to reject every single one of them. It wasn’t until when the teacher came in did they settle back in their seats.Bookmark here

“...”Bookmark here

“Sigh...Look, no matter how much you two stare at me, I won’t be getting them for you.”Bookmark here

“~stares~”Bookmark here

“... If I make an exception for you guys, I would have to do it for the rest as well.”Bookmark here

I am currently...in a stare-off with Ikuro and Madoka. As one could tell from the current situation, Madoka is an avid Alvus fan as well. They were currently sulking and following me around, pestering me to get Lena and the rest’s autographs for them.Bookmark here

“I can’t get them for you...but I can try to let you meet them?”Bookmark here

“As expected of Izuya!”Bookmark here

“You deserve thy praise.”Bookmark here

Although the chances were slim, I could attempt to arrange a study session with Alvus and the two of them. Their results were near the top percentile as well and technically, I won’t be the one getting it for them. I was just creating an opportunity for them to get it themselves.Bookmark here

“I will try, but no guarantees, ok?”Bookmark here

“I trust you will succeed.” Ikuro proudly said. Bookmark here

Although it wasn’t a lie that I couldn’t request autographs from the girls for myself or others, I could get Ikuro and Madoka to ask for it themselves. Both of them are in the top percentile of the school for studies currently, after all, so they could help out in preparing the lesson for them.Bookmark here

I asked Ochiai for her permission to get my friends to help out and she gladly accepted when she heard who they were. I guess the Amagami and Nanaho household influence extends even here.Bookmark here

“But it will have to depend on the girl’s decision, alright? They were the ones who picked you after all.” Ochiai told me after the call.Bookmark here

I texted the girls afterward about my request and was met with a clash of rejection and acceptance.Bookmark here

“I don’t agree with Lena and Kana. Just one of you is enough. WWWWWW.” Chitose sent.Bookmark here

“Agreed. No need for two more helpers.” Saya added in.Bookmark here

“By the way...I heard a rather interesting topic from my friends today. Something about how Alvus were talking about their tutor being the reason why they could pass.Bookmark here

“Hehe. What’s this? You're shy, Izuya?” Chitose remarkedBookmark here

“And how they mentioned A LOT about his nasty personality, being a demon and such,” I replied with a smiley face.Bookmark here

“Having two more tutors sounds like a good idea, isn’t that right, Kana?” Chitose texted.Bookmark here

“Agreed. More tutors banzai.”Bookmark here

With that, I had gotten permission(?) from all four of them for Ikuro and Madoka to join me as tutors. Although this would still have to be approved by their boss, Ms. Fujiyoshi. Bookmark here

It will have to depend on Madoka and Ikuro’s luck in getting their autographs from here. I specifically reminded them not to mention any of this outside or I would be swamped by requests for adding more tutors.Bookmark here

It wasn’t until almost two months later did Ikuro and Madoka finally join me as a tutor for Alvus. Ochiai told me that Ms.Fujiyoshi only accepted my request due to my work so far. Bookmark here

Debrishi Kar
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Rui
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