Chapter 10:


I Became the Manager of the First Galactical Idols

Monday afternoon arrived. Half of my lectures had finished; it was time to eat lunch. I walked out of the Accounting lecture, held in one of the biggest buildings on campus, and headed to the cafeteria, also one of the biggest buildings.Bookmark here

As I walked through the campus' artificial gardens, I kept complaining about any subject related to math. Sadly, they were needed to manage a business. I arrived at the cafeteria and bought an apple from the food printer, which printed food almost instantly. It obviously wasn't natural, but it had the exact same properties as a real one.Bookmark here

Luckily, scientists invented the printer just before Midnight Zero arrived, the day the Doomsday Clock was marked to have zero seconds remaining until midnight. A lot of people didn't—or didn't want to—believe it, but scientists were right. The climate drastically changed over the span of a few years, extinguishing many animals and making countries lose their farms. Storms became a hundred times more devastating and the ice at the poles melted, sinking many countries in the process.Bookmark here

Japan was one of the luckiest; only a few coastal cities and islands were lost, including Tokyo. They had months to react, so no one died. With what little space remained in existing cities, the government was forced to build new ones anywhere possible, including the mountains. Incredibly, they made it.Bookmark here

Thanks to the conjoined efforts of the entire world, they were able to get the Earth back on the right track over the centuries. The sea level decreased, resurfacing the submerged land, and the climate became stable and predictable before being controllable.Bookmark here

Humanity survived thanks to many inventions, the food printer being one of them. Still, to print any food, it needed the molecular recipe and the necessary resources. It was impossible to print famous products without an agreement. The university's cafeteria had many, but they were extremely expensive. That was why I stuck with buying fruits or basic meals.Bookmark here

I bought a bottle of mango-flavored water from the drink printer to have with my apple and started looking for a place to sit.Bookmark here

Aki said she wanted to eat lunch together, but we didn't even decide on the time. Maybe she eats later in the day—Bookmark here

"Hello!" Aki greeted me from behind. I jumped and almost spilled my drink. "Oops," she smiled.Bookmark here

I calmed down with a deep and slow breath. "Please don't do that again."Bookmark here

"My bad. I see you're quite the healthy guy."Bookmark here

"You wouldn't say that if you saw what I eat at home. Chips, cookies, cereals… At least they all have different nutrients."Bookmark here

"You don't cook?"Bookmark here

"Rarely. I don't see the need when there's cheaper, pre-made food."Bookmark here

She sighed. "You're missing out on the real, authentic food. You make me wanna go to your place and cook for you."Bookmark here

"T-There's no need."Bookmark here

What's she suggesting?!Bookmark here

She chuckled. "Where should we sit?"Bookmark here

I observed the cafeteria. It wasn't crowded, but there were no free tables either. Until I noticed Umi, sitting with other people at a table with some space left.Bookmark here

"Umi's over there," I said.Bookmark here

"Really?" She looked at where I was looking. "Let's go."Bookmark here

"Wait—"Bookmark here

Ignoring me, she walked off towards the table. I had no other choice than to follow her.Bookmark here

Why do I feel like this isn't going to be good?Bookmark here

We arrived and sat down. I was next to Umi, while Aki was next to me. The group Umi was sitting with stared at us. They all wore a similar gothic style as Umi. More than annoyed, they looked worried. When Umi realized it was us, she sighed, stood up, and walked away.Bookmark here

I knew it.Bookmark here

"I hope we didn't annoy her too much," I said.Bookmark here

"Don't worry, we didn't," Aki replied.Bookmark here

"How are you so sure?"Bookmark here

"Believe me, I've seen many of her kind."Bookmark here

Umi would've murdered her if she heard that.Bookmark here

Aki started eating, so I gave my apple the first bite. We sat in silence for a little until I tried to break the ice.Bookmark here

"So, did you want to tell me something?"Bookmark here

"What do you mean?"Bookmark here

"You invited me to eat lunch with you. I thought you wanted something."Bookmark here

"I wanted to eat with you, it's as simple as that."Bookmark here

"Oh, I see," I giggled.Bookmark here

Great, now I look like a jerk.Bookmark here

She snickered. "Don't overthink it. You know how many guys would kill to eat with me? And even more for me to invite them."Bookmark here

Talk about self-confidence…Bookmark here

"I know that look," she said. "You're probably thinking how presumptuous I sound, but it's the truth. And don't I need high self-esteem now that I'm going to be an idol?"Bookmark here

"Maybe. Just try to keep it in control."Bookmark here

She smirked. "You worrying about me makes me happy."Bookmark here

I could only feel my cheeks getting hotter. I looked away.Bookmark here

"So, there are no ulterior motives for eating together," I said. I took another bite of my apple.Bookmark here

"Well, I like you, so you could say there is—"Bookmark here

"You what—"Bookmark here

I swallowed the chunk of apple before I could chew it properly. It got stuck in my throat for a moment before I was able to get it through by coughing non-stop.Bookmark here

Aki grabbed my drink from the table and handed it to me. "Here."Bookmark here

I grabbed it and drank a little between coughs. The stinging slowly faded away.Bookmark here

"Are you okay? Do you need mouth-to-mouth breathing?"Bookmark here

"No! I'm better now."Bookmark here

She chuckled. "Are you really that against me kissing you?"Bookmark here

"Y-Yes. I mean, no…." I sighed. "Just to make sure, did you say that you like me?"Bookmark here

She nodded. "But I wanna take it slowly, so don't think too much about it."Bookmark here

"Are you really asking me that?"Bookmark here

"I should leave," she said as she stood up.Bookmark here

"Why?"Bookmark here

"Because everyone's staring at us. I don't want to turn half of the university against you."Bookmark here

I looked around when she told me that. Practically the entire cafeteria stared at us, some by mere curiosity, but many others were obviously raging with jealousy. Once Aki and I looked at them, they resumed their activities.Bookmark here

This is bad.Bookmark here

"Let's talk soon," she added. "Bye-bye."Bookmark here

"Sure."Bookmark here

She turned around just to be stopped by Umi, who stood still arms-crossed behind her. They stared at each other for a second.Bookmark here

"Looking forward to working together," Aki smiled and walked away.Bookmark here

Umi glared at me. "If you're done with your act, leave."Bookmark here

"Why?"Bookmark here

"Because I say so." She sat where she was sitting before she left, next to me.Bookmark here

Wondering how she would react, I merely gave my apple another bite and ignored her request, staring at her. She sighed and looked away to continue talking with her friends.Bookmark here

Just as I expected. She's only trying to look tough. I'm her boss, anyway. I doubt she would… No, she totally would.Bookmark here

I finished my apple and my drink in five minutes. Umi didn't look at me again during the entire time even though I was sitting next to her. I stood up, threw the bottle in the recycling bin, and stepped out of the cafeteria to get some fresh air.Bookmark here

I can't believe what just happened. I need to talk with her about it. That I'm not looking for anything—Bookmark here

Not even ten steps after leaving the building, someone called me from behind.Bookmark here

"Psst!"Bookmark here

Confused, I turned around. It was Aki again, peeking from behind a tree. She waved her hand, signaling me to approach her. I complied.Bookmark here

"Aki? I thought you wanted to leave."Bookmark here

"The cafeteria. And I didn't tell you to meet me outside because everyone was listening."Bookmark here

"So you waited here until I came out?"Bookmark here

She nodded. "Amazing, huh? I had never waited to see a guy in my life."Bookmark here

I don't know how I should feel about that.Bookmark here

"Okay, I need to talk to you about something."Bookmark here

"Wait. Let's do it at my apartment in the evening."Bookmark here

"Eh?"Bookmark here

"I also want to show you something."Bookmark here

My heartbeat raised. Only then did I realize how close we were. I could smell her even through the breeze.Bookmark here

Why do I keep thinking about her smell?!Bookmark here

"Fine. What time?"Bookmark here

"Ten."Bookmark here

"Okay. Where do you live?"Bookmark here

"It'll be easier if I send it to you. And we'll be working together, so we were going to exchange contacts sooner or later."Bookmark here

"Right."Bookmark here

My glasses vibrated in my pocket. I took them out and put them on. I accepted her request and a message with her apartment's location appeared.Bookmark here

"Oh, you live in the building next to mine," I said.Bookmark here

"Wonderful. It won't take you much time to get there."Bookmark here

I took my glasses off and put them back in my pocket.Bookmark here

"Why don't you keep your glasses on?" she wondered.Bookmark here

"I don't like using them all the time. It's uncomfortable."Bookmark here

"Weird. Anyway, I look forward to meeting you tonight!" she smiled.Bookmark here

"S-Sure. See you tonight."Bookmark here

I turned around and walked into the campus gardens.Bookmark here

Isn't there some technology to control the temperature of your cheeks?Bookmark here

My glasses vibrated. I put them on and suggestions of implants to control your body temperature appeared.Bookmark here

I was joking…Bookmark here

Cel T.
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