Chapter 22:

First of Many

I Became the Manager of the First Galactical Idols

I walked into the bathroom which was next door and grabbed the two towels I found. I returned and handed them to Astra and Aki, who sat the closest to me. Not enough, I walked out of the room and approached Kiku at the counter. She swept the sweat on her forehead off with her arm.Bookmark here

"Kiku."Bookmark here

"Mr. Manager. The performance was amazing."Bookmark here

"I know, I'm still calming down. I see you were quite busy as well."Bookmark here

"You bet. People wouldn't stop ordering stuff. If this happens every time you perform, I'll be able to hire assistants in no time."Bookmark here

"You definitely need them. I'd say it'll get busier and busier with every performance."Bookmark here

"I agree. Anyway, did you need something?"Bookmark here

"Towels. I found two in the bathroom, but we need three more."Bookmark here

"Search in the boxes. I don't know which ones, exactly, but I'm sure you'll find them. Sorry I can't give you more details."Bookmark here

"It's fine, as long as you're okay with us searching through your stuff."Bookmark here

"No problem at all. You can leave through the emergency exit when you're done. And tell the rude dames I'm proud of them."Bookmark here

"Will do."Bookmark here

The café still had quite a few people sitting at the tables. As I walked between them towards the storage room, Jun and Tomokazu stopped me. They wanted to talk, so I told them I would be right back after solving the towels' trouble.Bookmark here

I stepped into the room and told the girls that we would need to find the towels. As we all searched inside the boxes, I told Sanae and Risa that Kiku was proud of them; their expression instantly switched from exhaustion to a broad smile.Bookmark here

Eventually, we found the towels, then I headed towards Jun and Tomokazu, who were still sitting at a table. I sat down with them.Bookmark here

"What did you think?" I asked.Bookmark here

"It was… incredible!" Jun shouted.Bookmark here

Tomokazu nodded. "Wonderful, if I say it myself. My eyes couldn't help but grow in tears that brushed down my cheeks."Bookmark here

"Too dramatic," I replied. "But I'm relieved you liked them that much."Bookmark here

"Too dramatic?" Tomokazu repeated. "Dear friend, you must understand that fans live for their idols. The fans feel their idols' emotions and will do anything to see them happy. Just like idols want their fans to be happy."Bookmark here

"I somewhat understand that but, I wouldn't like the fans to be that passionate. I don't think that kind of relationship is healthy."Bookmark here

"It's not a matter of what you choose; it's going to happen, whether you like it or not."Bookmark here

"I guess you're right."Bookmark here

"Anyway. Jun and I wanted to put an important matter on the table."Bookmark here

"Kaito," Jun continued. "During the performance, we heard a lot of people trying to find information about Blostars. But when they couldn't find anything, they seemed disappointed. You lost potential fans because you don't have anything about Blostars on the QNet. You need at least one social media account ASAP."Bookmark here

"That sounds bad," I replied.Bookmark here

Tomokazu nodded. "Remember the guy that approached the girls to shake their hands? He's the type of fan that will go to any event and buy anything you sell. That's why you need merchandise."Bookmark here

"I know. I'm just taking it slow at first to get used to it."Bookmark here

"Well, you should get used to it quickly. This is just the tip of the iceberg."Bookmark here

Thoughtful for a moment, I replied, "Okay, I'll get to it tomorrow. I'm going to spend the last of my savings to get PR and marketing managers. If there are no earnings in two months, I'm screwed."Bookmark here

"We'll help you if anything happens," Jun replied.Bookmark here

"And remember that I can work for free in the beginning," Tomokazu added.Bookmark here

"That won't happen," I said. "But come to the dance studio tomorrow."Bookmark here

After chatting for a bit more, they left the café and I headed back with the girls. They were already rested and they chatted with a smile—including Umi. It wasn't a workday, so I didn't want to take more of their time on a Sunday. They showered one by one in the bathroom and changed back to their clothes.Bookmark here

I went back into the café to grab the speakers before leaving through the emergency exit. I carried everything by myself—the two speakers and the two bags with the costumes. They weren't that heavy, but I didn't want to give the girls more work.Bookmark here

We dropped Sanae and Risa at their place first, then we headed to the apartment buildings since they were closer than the studios. I gave Aki the bags and, before she walked away, reminded me about our 'date' later that evening. Umi looked at us in disgust.Bookmark here

"Give me one of the speakers," she said.Bookmark here

"It's fine, they are not that heavy—"Bookmark here

"Just give it to me. I'm tired, but not weak."Bookmark here

Sighing, I complied.Bookmark here

We walked together to the recording studio and left the speakers on the floor once we stepped inside. There was nothing else to do, so I started walking to the door to leave as I spoke,Bookmark here

"It obviously doesn't include your stuff, but don't work on Blostars if you're staying here. Take a rest, you earned it."Bookmark here

"Kaito," she called.Bookmark here

I stopped and turned around. "Yes?"Bookmark here

"T-Thanks. And I'm sorry."Bookmark here

"Why?"Bookmark here

"For working with me despite my rudeness and for becoming a burden right before performing. I don't know what would've happened if you hadn't done that."Bookmark here

I stood still in shock. It was the first time I had seen her being that respectful—although her expression still only showed indifference. I didn't know what to say for a while.Bookmark here

"You have talent, Umi. A lot. Yes, your manners are far from cordial, but you get the work done. You know what and how to do it. And you do it extremely well."Bookmark here

She stared at me. Her expression had softened.Bookmark here

"And if you want to see it like this, you have a very… special personality. The more variety there is, the more fans the group will get. As long as you get along with the girls."Bookmark here

Her frown had returned, but lighter than before.Bookmark here

"I see," she smirked. "This is a win-win situation. You'll earn money and I get exposure."Bookmark here

"I mean, I'm also paying you like a normal job."Bookmark here

"Of minimum wage."Bookmark here

"That was a direct attack…"Bookmark here

She chuckled. "I know that will change in the future."Bookmark here

I smiled. "See? You can be cute if you want."Bookmark here

Her face flushed. She suddenly approached me and turned me around to push me towards the door.Bookmark here

"J-Just go already. You ruined the moment…"Bookmark here

Once I was outside, she closed the door.Bookmark here

Happy, I returned to my apartment. I had nothing to do until the evening, so I watched the video I recorded of the performance. As much as I tried to avoid analyzing everything and merely enjoy it, I wasn't able to. I decided it was best to watch it together with the girls the next day, yet I still sent it to them in case they wanted to watch it now.Bookmark here

A few hours passed and it was six o'clock, time for the 'date'. I showered before heading out to wait for Aki outside of the apartment buildings. She arrived on time, wearing the same outfit she had worn when we met for the first time at the auditions: a tight, black tank top and a red belt wrapping around her hips over her white pants.Bookmark here

She really is… sexy.Bookmark here

"Hi, Kaito. Ready to improve that outfit of yours?"Bookmark here

"I still think my style is fine, but sure."Bookmark here

We started walking together towards the monorail station, practically in front of the apartments and the University.Bookmark here

"That's the first step of improving your looks," Aki continued as we walked. "Overcoming the denial. You think you look awesome but you actually don't."Bookmark here

"I never said I look awesome, I simply think my style is just fine. There certainly is room for improvement, but I never felt the need of doing it."Bookmark here

"You planned to be single forever?"Bookmark here

"No, but I planned to wait patiently for the right person to come."Bookmark here

Aki clicked her tongue in disagreement. "That's not how things work, Kaito."Bookmark here

"Well, it worked for me, didn't it?"Bookmark here

Speechless, she stared at me before looking forward. "You got me there. But you were lucky; not everyone can tell the same story."Bookmark here

"Probably."Bookmark here

We arrived at the station and climbed into the monorail. The trip only lasted one minute before we got off at the center of Nova Shibuya. It was crowded and noisy as hell, one of the reasons I tried to avoid going to such popular areas.Bookmark here

That didn't stop us from having fun, though. We went to many clothing shops, ate, and even played classic games at an arcade. She almost forced me to cut my hair, but I refused.Bookmark here

We talked a lot and realized we had a lot in common: we both liked video games, watched a lot of videos, liked practically the same music, and had the same humor.Bookmark here

In the end, it turned out to be a real date. We took the monorail back home and arrived at the apartment buildings at midnight.Bookmark here

"I had a lot of fun," Aki smiled. "Probably the most fun night of my life."Bookmark here

"That's quite the statement. I had a lot of fun too."Bookmark here

We stared at each other in silence for a while. Only the noise of the city faintly sounded in the background.Bookmark here

"Kaito."Bookmark here

"Yes?"Bookmark here

"Come to my apartment."Bookmark here

My heartbeat started to rise, but not as much as in previous times with Aki. It was a combination of excitement and nervousness. I had liked her appearance ever since I first saw her but, now that we had spent time together properly, I also liked her personality. I realized I actually liked her.Bookmark here

I was scared. The old Kaito would've rejected her because of it, but not anymore.Bookmark here

"Sure."Bookmark here

After exchanging smirks, she grabbed my hand and pulled me inside the building. We held our hands as the elevator went up. My heartbeat was fast, but it didn't increase anymore. I was sure that I wanted it.Bookmark here

The door opened and we walked into the hallway. We arrived at her apartment and she quickly opened the door. She stepped inside first and I followed her, then she closed the door.Bookmark here

We dropped the shopping bags on the floor. She let go of my hand and grasped my arms. She pushed me back until I stumbled on her bed and fell on it. She climbed on top of me and slowly moved her face close to mine until our lips touched.Bookmark here

We kissed for a while. Then, Aki started unbuckling her belt. About to pull her pants down, a thought struck my head.Bookmark here

"Wait!" I shouted.Bookmark here

"What?"Bookmark here

"Do we have protection?"Bookmark here

Aki's face became red. She fell to my side and covered her face with a pillow.Bookmark here

"Aki?"Bookmark here

"Sorry. We were so close to doing it and I didn't think about it; I can't believe it. And thinking about what I was doing just now is embarrassing…"Bookmark here

"I bet it is."Bookmark here

She suddenly slapped my arm and moved the pillow away from her face.Bookmark here

"You're supposed to support me!" she yelled.Bookmark here

I stared at her in silence.Bookmark here

"W-What?" she stuttered.Bookmark here

"You're really cute when you're embarrassed."Bookmark here

Her eyes widened. "Look who says it. Your face is completely red too."Bookmark here

We smiled at each other.Bookmark here

"Yes, doing this is extremely embarrassing. I suppose it's because it's our first time. It is your first time, right?"Bookmark here

She slapped my arm again. "What are you implying?"Bookmark here

We awkwardly but sincerely laughed.Bookmark here

"I guess we'll have to wait," she said.Bookmark here

"Yeah. I should go back to my apartment."Bookmark here

"Wait. Stay here tonight."Bookmark here

"But these clothes are uncomfortable to sleep in."Bookmark here

"Just take the uncomfortable pieces off."Bookmark here

Smiling, I accepted. "Sure."Bookmark here

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