Chapter 13:

Whiskey Bonding

I Became the Manager of the First Galactical Idols

Mom, Dad, Takuya, and I stared at Aya in silence. She grabbed her whiskey glass from the table and drank the remaining half in one go. She let out a long breath.Bookmark here

"I feel better now," she smirked.Bookmark here

That fast?!Bookmark here

"Are you really okay?" Mom asked, clearly worried.Bookmark here

"I mean, it sucks, but it was bound to happen. I just needed to let it out."Bookmark here

"I see. As long as you're fine."Bookmark here

"What are you gonna do now?" Takuya asked.Bookmark here

"Takuya! You should be more considerate about her situation," Dad scolded.Bookmark here

"I'm just curious."Bookmark here

"It's fine," Aya replied. "And it's a good question. Obviously, I'll be looking for a job. Luckily, I have enough savings to survive for years without working."Bookmark here

"I'm sure you'll find something in no time," I said. "Your resume is no less than impressive; not hiring you would be stupid."Bookmark here

She smiled. "Thanks, Kaito."Bookmark here

Mom suddenly gasped. "I have an idea! Why don't you hire her for your new business?"Bookmark here

"No," Aya and I disagreed at the same time.Bookmark here

"Eh? Why?"Bookmark here

"I'm not going to rely on favors," Aya answered.Bookmark here

"And I'm going to demonstrate that I can run a business on my own," I replied.Bookmark here

Mom sighed. "Why are my children this stubborn? Is it my fault?"Bookmark here

"It isn't, Honey!" Dad encouraged her. "We both raised them together. If someone's at fault, that's me!"Bookmark here

"It's nobody's fault," Aya said.Bookmark here

"Right," I continued. "It's not like I'm against Aya working for me. If I need a PR, I'll post a job opening and she can apply if she wants."Bookmark here

"And I'll apply if I find the offer and believe it's good."Bookmark here

Aya had been working since she was seventeen. That by itself was something remarkable, but the fact that she was directly hired at her age by one of the best glasses companies in the country was outstanding.Bookmark here

In a matter of months, she managed to make the company internationally popular even though it was already well established. Their glasses quickly became the best-selling brand in Japan and got into the top five throughout the world.Bookmark here

She didn't get much credit, though. Everyone gave the credit to the company because they made excellent products—which was a fair point. But Aya wanted to prove herself.Bookmark here

After a couple of years, she unexpectedly quit her job and joined a startup. Again, in a matter of months, the startup became astonishingly popular. Then she quit and joined another startup.Bookmark here

She repeated the process many times and every time she was able to create a new trend. She became the youngest, most renowned, Public Relations Manager in the country.Bookmark here

One day, she joined one of the most hated companies in Japan: a social media platform. She joined with the objective of resurrecting its reputation from the grave. Instead, she found a wall. The situation never improved, yet she stayed at the company, stubborn to succeed.Bookmark here

Along with the company's, Aya's reputation sank. Now, almost two years later, the company was finally closed, leaving her jobless and with an unremovable stain on her career. That was the only thing that worried me, that no company would want to hire her again because of her one failure.Bookmark here

"I knew it! You still care for each other!" Mom beamed.Bookmark here

Her mood surely changes quickly.Bookmark here

"Aya, I'll take you up on your offer of whiskey."Bookmark here

"Good choice."Bookmark here

We spent the next several hours chatting and drinking. Since Takuya had just turned eighteen—the legal age for drinking—we teased him into doing it for the first time; it wasn't a very moral thing to do, but even our—drunk—parents rolled with it. It surprised me that he hadn't had a drink before—if he was telling the truth.Bookmark here

Everyone was destroyed by midnight. I could barely walk, so I stayed in my old room instead of returning to my apartment.Bookmark here

I woke up with a pounding headache. My drunk self was smart enough to set the alarm early so I would be able to return to my apartment and get ready for school. Almost puking, I stood up and headed downstairs, where Aya stood next to the front door.Bookmark here

"You're alive," Aya joked.Bookmark here

"Barely."Bookmark here

"Same."Bookmark here

Really? She doesn't look ill at all.Bookmark here

"I'm about to leave," she said.Bookmark here

"This early?"Bookmark here

"I need to go home and get ready for work. And you?"Bookmark here

"I need to get ready for school."Bookmark here

"I can give you a ride to the station."Bookmark here

"Sure. I'll say goodbye to Mom and Dad."Bookmark here

I walked back upstairs and knocked on their door. Mom was barely able to reply, but we managed to say goodbye. I headed outside with Aya and got in her car. It didn't fly, but you could tell it was of the most expensive cars available just by seeing it.Bookmark here

She activated the self-driving mode and the car silently accelerated. We stayed silent for a while until Aya brought something up.Bookmark here

"Kaito."Bookmark here

"Yes?"Bookmark here

"Didn't you just start a business?"Bookmark here

"I did. What about it?"Bookmark here

"Doesn't that mean you don't have school anymore?"Bookmark here

A blow struck my head.Bookmark here

"I forgot… I mean, I still have one class, but it's until the evening."Bookmark here

She sighed. "I can't believe it—" She suddenly stopped talking.Bookmark here

Wait.Bookmark here

"Aya."Bookmark here

"Yes?"Bookmark here

"Didn't your company just get closed?"Bookmark here

"It did…"Bookmark here

"Doesn't that mean you don't have a job anymore?"Bookmark here

"Yes…"Bookmark here

We both sighed.Bookmark here

"We could've stayed for a few hours more," I said.Bookmark here

"But don't you have work?"Bookmark here

I nodded. "I need to be somewhere at twelve. That's five hours away."Bookmark here

"I see. Do you still want to return now?"Bookmark here

"What do you mean?"Bookmark here

"The monorail is going to be stacked. You could wait an hour."Bookmark here

"In your car?"Bookmark here

She sighed. "I pity the woman that likes you."Bookmark here

"W-Why?"Bookmark here

"I'm inviting you to eat something. Wait, did you just stutter?"Bookmark here

"I… did."Bookmark here

She chuckled. "Now you got me curious."Bookmark here

Oh no.Bookmark here

I accepted her offer and she took me to a small café. I didn't like coffee, so I merely ate some biscuits. She started asking a lot of questions about my romantic life. I always trusted her, so I told her every detail. She seemed to enjoy it as if she was watching a drama. She also gave me a few tips for my business and we talked about how her company closing stained her resume.Bookmark here

It had been a while since we had chatted alone; we had a great time. She took me back to the station and I took the monorail back to my apartment. Still dead, I dropped onto my bed and didn't think of anything for the following hours.Bookmark here

I opened my eyes ten minutes before twelve o'clock. I took a quick shower and sprinted to the studio. When I arrived, everyone was already there. They sat on the chairs, now arranged in a semicircle.Bookmark here

"Sorry I'm late," I panted as I stepped into the room.Bookmark here

"You aren't late," Sanae replied.Bookmark here

"Huh? Then why is everyone already here?"Bookmark here

"Seems like we all are eager to start working," Astra giggled.Bookmark here

"I see," I smirked. I swept the sweat from my forehead as I approached them. "Did something happen?"Bookmark here

They all smiled at me.Bookmark here

"What?"Bookmark here

"Show him," Risa told Umi.Bookmark here

It was barely noticeable, but Umi's cheeks were pink.Bookmark here

She's blushing?!Bookmark here

My glasses vibrated with a notification from Umi, requesting permission to play audio. Once I put the glasses on and accepted the request, a song started playing.Bookmark here

It began with an explosion of uplifting trumpets accompanied by a piano. They lasted for a few seconds before the rest of the instruments emerged; there were so many. An electric guitar skillfully played like a solo; maybe there was another guitar, but I wasn't sure. The drums and the bass perfectly supplemented the rhythm of the song.Bookmark here

Then, Umi's voice appeared. It was powerful yet cute and soft. The lyrics talked about reaching the stars for life to blossom. It had many metaphors for achieving your dreams; even if they were distant, the path towards them was what mattered. You discovered many new things and met a lot of people. The path built you as a person and changed your view of the world, while the end was a nice bonus.Bookmark here

The song was cheerful and emotional from start to finish. The positive message fit perfectly with the image of our group. It was the song I imagined for Blostars.Bookmark here

"Umi, it is wonderful. It's exactly what I wanted it to be."Bookmark here

"Right? We told her the same thing," Aki said.Bookmark here

"I-I know that's what you wanted," Umi replied. "I'm a songwriter, after all."Bookmark here

"I was talking about your skills as well," I continued. "All those instruments and your voice were flawless."Bookmark here

Her cheeks reddened a bit more. "H-Hearing it again made me notice a few mistakes; I'll fix them during the week."Bookmark here

"Really? Okay. And what about the other girls? Will they sing?"Bookmark here

"Obviously. I designated a segment for everyone."Bookmark here

"Then what are we waiting for? Let's record."Bookmark here

Cel T.
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