Chapter 23:

Merchandising Awakening

I Became the Manager of the First Galactical Idols

I woke up quite disoriented and looked around the room. The curtains were pink and there were piles of clothes everywhere. It took me a moment to remember that I was in Aki's apartment. She was still sleeping behind me. Most of her body was covered under the blanket, yet I could see her shoulders and a portion of her bare back beneath her tank top.Bookmark here

We really slept together. We even kissed and almost…Bookmark here

Struggling to believe what had happened, I realized there was too much sunlight coming through the window. I grabbed my glasses from the nightstand and put them on.Bookmark here

Eleven fifty?!Bookmark here

I tossed the blanket away and jumped out of bed. I grabbed my pants and my jacket from a chair and hurriedly put them on.Bookmark here

"Kaito? What's wrong?" Aki asked in a raspy voice.Bookmark here

"It's ten to twelve. We are going to arrive very late."Bookmark here

"Oh no, we forgot to set an alarm…"Bookmark here

She got out of bed and her entire body became visible. Apart from the tank top, she was wearing shorts. I glanced at her and quickly turned away so as not to get distracted. I finished putting my clothes on and rushed to the door.Bookmark here

"See you at the studio," I said.Bookmark here

"Wait! Are you going directly to the studio?"Bookmark here

"Of course not; I'm going to take a shower at my place first."Bookmark here

"You'll lose more time. Shower here. We bought clothes for you yesterday, so you have something to wear."Bookmark here

"Are you sure? You'll have less time to shower."Bookmark here

"Well, there's one way to solve that…"Bookmark here

"No!"Bookmark here

She snickered. "I was kidding. Kind of."Bookmark here

"Kind of?!"Bookmark here

"Just shower already," she laughed.Bookmark here

I sighed and grabbed the bag with my clothes. I stepped into the bathroom and quickly undressed to start showering.Bookmark here

Good thing I bought boxers. I can't believe I'm taking a shower at her apartment…Bookmark here

Only a couple of minutes later, I closed the shower and put on one of the outfits Aki had chosen for me. About to step out of the bathroom, I realized I still needed to go back to my apartment to leave my used clothes. I didn't want to lose more time, so I decided to leave them at Aki's.Bookmark here

The only way of preventing her from seeing my underwear was to put them in the bag together with the new clothes.Bookmark here

I'll need to wash all of them later…Bookmark here

I stepped out of the bathroom and saw Aki sitting on her bed, waiting with her clothes already in her hands.Bookmark here

"Aki, I'll leave my clothes here. I'll come back for them after work."Bookmark here

"No problem."Bookmark here

She stood up and headed to the bathroom.Bookmark here

"Aki," I called before she stepped inside. "I'll wait for you to go together."Bookmark here

Her eyes widened. She then chuckled. "That's very sweet. But you should go without me. It would be a very bad example for the employees if the boss arrives late."Bookmark here

"Are you sure?"Bookmark here

She nodded.Bookmark here

"See you at the studio, then. I-It was nice spending the night with you."Bookmark here

She chuckled. "Likewise."Bookmark here

After exchanging smiles, she stepped into the bathroom and I walked out of the apartment.Bookmark here

I ran to the studio and arrived only two minutes late. Everyone was already there, sitting or warming up. I greeted them and told them we were going to wait for Aki to arrive before reviewing the performance.Bookmark here

She arrived ten minutes later. The first thing she did was to approach me and bow.Bookmark here

"I'm very sorry for being late."Bookmark here

Confused, I realized she was trying to make me look good in front of the girls because it would've been weird if I didn't say something to her for being late.Bookmark here

Trying my best to act, I scolded her. "It's fine. Just make sure it doesn't happen again."Bookmark here

"Understood."Bookmark here

She straightened up and walked past me into the room. The rest of the girls stared at me suspiciously.Bookmark here

They didn't buy it at all.Bookmark here

"Now that we are all here, let's review the performance from yesterday. Did anyone watch the video I sent?"Bookmark here

They all nodded.Bookmark here

"Great. First of all, I want to congratulate all of you; the performance was amazing."Bookmark here

The girls smiled.Bookmark here

"There were a few minor details that can easily be fixed. However, I need to bring up Astra's incident."Bookmark here

Instantly, Astra started bowing repeatedly. "I'm sorry, I'm really sorry!"Bookmark here

Sanae patted her back. "It's okay, Astra. Everyone makes mistakes."Bookmark here

"Yes, but it shouldn't have happened. And I'm also sorry for apologizing. I tried so hard not to do it yesterday since you told me I shouldn't apologize for everything. I'm sorry if I made you think I didn't care about it."Bookmark here

I approached her. "Astra, Sanae's right. The fact that you didn't get enough time to practice the song didn't help. Yes, it was your fault, but that doesn't mean you'll get punished for it. Everyone knows you were trying your best."Bookmark here

The girls nodded and smiled at her.Bookmark here

"Let's make sure it doesn't happen again by getting enough practice time."Bookmark here

"Yes!" she beamed.Bookmark here

"Also, don't take what I said literally. You should apologize, but not always. Understood?"Bookmark here

"Kind of," she giggled.Bookmark here

With that out of the way, we started watching the recording of the performance. We didn't pause at all and shared ideas and opinions once it ended.Bookmark here

One of the topics was about my work as a live audio mixer. Even though I had done a good job, it wasn't my forté. The best option was to hire someone, but I couldn't afford it. I preferred to hire Tomokazu to start earning money and look for a PR to increase our popularity. Still, getting a live audio mixer was one of the priorities.Bookmark here

Two hours later, Tomokazu arrived at the studio. The girls continued practicing as I talked with him. I was supposed to have the contract ready, but I didn't have the time to make it. Instead, I made it as we chatted, which turned out better since I didn't have much idea about the merchandising manager job. He explained it to me and I worked with that information, along with some quick research.Bookmark here

Only one hour passed and Tomokazu was hired. However, he couldn't start working officially until one week later since the law demanded a one-week time frame to make the transfer between school and work. Still, he wanted to start working right away. He stayed in the studio for another two hours, sharing ideas with me and asking the girls questions to get even more ideas. I told the girls to push him away if he was being too annoying.Bookmark here

He left and I continued working with the girls. Umi asked for permission to go to the recording studio to work on the fifth song. We had decided to only make one song per week to avoid what happened to Astra and so that Umi didn't have to work out of schedule.Bookmark here

As the girls practiced, I posted a job offer for a PR. I knew their average salary was quite high, but I couldn't afford it. I had to lower it quite a lot, so I didn't expect any replies for a while.Bookmark here

The workday finished a few hours later in the evening. I walked with Aki to her apartment to pick up my clothes. She offered to wash them for me, but I politely refused.Bookmark here

I returned to my apartment to drop off my clothes and headed to the Business Administration lecture. Everything was going great as usual, until the end of the class.Bookmark here

"Students, I have an announcement to make," Professor Fuku said. "The administrators of the university have made the difficult decision to terminate the Business Administration degree."Bookmark here

Eh?Bookmark here

"Fortunately, this is going to take effect after the year ends in three months, meaning that you will be able to finish your degree properly."Bookmark here

What?!Bookmark here

Mutters of confusion and disbelief started floating around.Bookmark here

"Professor," a guy raised his hand. "What's going to happen to the students of previous years?"Bookmark here

"They'll still be able to get their degree. However, the assignments they are going to get will be automated. Since they won't have much work, the university is going to offer them the opportunity of starting another degree, meaning they can get two degrees at once."Bookmark here

At least it doesn't too bad. But still…Bookmark here

"So, no one's going to be able to choose this degree anymore?" a girl wondered.Bookmark here

"Exactly. In three years, when there are no remaining students, the degree will disappear completely."Bookmark here

That's sad. And it means that Professor Fuku will lose her job in three months…Bookmark here

Many more questions surged in the last five minutes of the lecture and Professor Fuku kindly answered them. Once it ended, I waited for everyone to leave to talk with her. She stood still beside the desk.Bookmark here

"Professor Fuku. Are you okay?"Bookmark here

She didn't look at me. Instead, she slowly sat down on the chair and let out a long breath, looking down at the desk. After a moment in silence, she finally looked at me.Bookmark here

"It was a hard pill to swallow, to be honest. I have been working hard to keep this degree going for years, after all. But it's true that no one's interested in it anymore."Bookmark here

"What do you mean?"Bookmark here

"The numbers speak for themselves. There are ten students in the fourth year, eleven in the third, eight in the second, and only five in the first. People don't find this degree useful anymore since business managers are chosen through connections instead of being recognized for their education."Bookmark here

She's right.Bookmark here

I remained silent. "I don't know what to say."Bookmark here

"You don't have to say anything. Just being at my side is enough," she smiled. "Let's go."Bookmark here

We walked out of the building and through the gardens. I wanted to ask her what her plans were after the degree was closed, but it was too soon. We simply talked about happy things. I told her about the performance and she seemed to genuinely get in a good mood.Bookmark here

We arrived at the building of her apartment. Instead of stepping inside, as usual, she stopped at the door.Bookmark here

"I think it's best for us to stop walking together all the way to my apartment's door. It's already enough that you skip your apartment's building, which is closer."Bookmark here

"Sure."Bookmark here

"And thanks for walking with me, it was quite relieving."Bookmark here

"No problem. I enjoy it too."Bookmark here

She smiled. "By the way, are you up to having dinner with Aki and me next weekend?"Bookmark here

"Eh?" I uttered in surprise.Bookmark here

"Was it too sudden?" she snickered.Bookmark here

"Yes, a bit," I giggled. "But sure, let's have dinner together."Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.