Chapter 35:

Chapter 35: Torn Apart Heart

Becoming A Seiyuu? I'm In!

“Can I do that, Fuku-san? Can I really do that? Will my parents throw me away? Even when they figured out I ran away from home?” - Aki.Bookmark here

The Seiyuu Club and Fuku have gathered again in Fuku’s office to proceed to their next procedure. Despite the obvious rejection flaunted by Kenji, none of the provocation misled them from agreeing to Fuku’s offer. Nami and Matsu were third-years who would graduate soon, thus they needed to make up their mind really keenly. Tashikani would not retreat from their initial plan, and the first-years thought of the same thing. Ishi and Tori would not become voice actors, but they would contribute as managers.Bookmark here

Due to massive shock and overwhelming fright, Aki blacked out after Kenji left the Audition Room. The juries were the closest to the scene, hence they dashed to him first. Aki did not seem to faint unconsciously, but Tori’s constant calls failed to distract him. Kaji and Shimo lifted and transferred Aki to Fuku’s lounge in his office. Bookmark here

While they were sitting in circle, confronting each other, Aki was properly lied there, sleeping. They could do nothing unless Aki woke up and began to respond to them. Fuku sighed at his recklessness, taken over by remorse, as Fuku incidentally became the victim of his greed.Bookmark here

“I should say sorry to Aki, but he’s sleeping. So I’ll just apologize to all of you for the time being.” Fuku bowed at The Seiyuu Club. Bookmark here

Matsu brushed it off by telling Fuku to straighten his back again. “You don’t have to apologize, Fuku-san. It’s an incident none of us could predict.”Bookmark here

Fuku’s dismal literally killed the cheeriness they obtained since that morning. They should be proudly beaming after securing a place in a company. Not many people could sign a contract by recommendation unless pure talent or years of hard work. Bookmark here

“It’s not your fault, Fuku-san,” Tori flatly stated, “Aki was attacked by his past trauma. That’s all.”Bookmark here

“Past trauma?” Both Mura and Ishi fixated their eyes on Tori, demanding for comprehensive explanation. Bookmark here

Tori glimpsed at the sleeping Aki on the cushion. Handling his breathing pertinently, he found it would not hurt to uncover a little about their background. “Aki and I are childhood best friends. Both of us like anime, up till today, but Aki’s fondness is more to analyzing voice. He wanted to enroll into seiyuu school in our neighborhood, but his parents rejected his wish. They wanted Aki to strive for excellence because Aki should inherit their parents’ business, not just being mere voice actor.Bookmark here

“Despite the frustration, Aki accepted it and registered in normal middle school. Since he was blocked from watching anime at home, he did everything to learn on anime and voice acting, including taking on acting lesson with our seniors. I must say that his performance was splendid, either in voice acting or drama acting. From the Animation Competition, he got famous in our school.”Bookmark here

Ishi crossed his arms, evaluating Tori’s revelation. “I did hear about the competition and its result from the twins Maya and Yuma. But about his parents, I never knew.”Bookmark here

“All I could say is that Aki didn’t have a normal childhood,” Tori lowered his head to hide his reddish cheeks, “His parents were too strict on him. They disallowed him to do what other kids did, even watching anime or playing outside. They sent Aki to various after-school class so that Aki wouldn’t play at the playground, thus Aki played truant and strolled around the city all by himself. However, they consented him to befriend me. My parents are fine with him though.”Bookmark here

The entire office turned silent when Aki was sensed budging in his sleep. They continued listening to Tori attentively. Bookmark here

“When he tried his luck for the second time last year, he was miserably rejected by his mother. Since then, his spirit kept on shattering and rejuvenating, repetitively, without an end. Therefore,” Emphasizing on certain words, Tori bit his lower lip. His cracked voice depicted his sympathy, “today’s incident was like a flash back to him. The way Kenji-san disregarded him was, somehow, similar to his parents.”Bookmark here

“That explains everything,” Matsu slicked his fringe backward. “How saddening to be Aki.”Bookmark here

Nami clenched his fists. “It may sound simple to certain people. Even among elders, they could say Aki is just being childishly selfish. But it’s still wrong to decline someone’s dream though.”Bookmark here

“I feel sorry for Aki,” Shimo hugged himself, as if he was restraining from getting up. “I had no idea that he was traumatized by that.”Bookmark here

“So, he blacked out because he couldn’t keep up with the tension,” Kaji concluded, and were agreed by Nami, Matsu and Shimo.Bookmark here

“Was it the reason you agreed on helping him and even disguise as Yumi?” After preserving himself for a long time, Taku has finally spoken his mind out. His tone did not display any irritation, but he and the other club members should know the truth too.Bookmark here

Ever since they were tasked to train themselves to be voice actors, Taku has taken a liking on the job personally. At times, he would read random articles about voice actors and anime in order to study more on the plan. After thorough reading, he finally understood why Ishi trained them like singers or such. That was how he casually came across an article about Yumi’s, or Mura’s, indefinite hiatus. Bookmark here

“I’ve been knowing about Yumi’s faked identity,” Taku replied when Kaji and Shimo were widening their eyes to force him pouring out everything he knew, “He’s on hiatus due to puberty issue. But I don’t think you should,” he referred to the silenced Mura. “You’ve done great even though your voice has slightly altered. It wasn’t noticeable though.”Bookmark here

“Ishi has said the same to me,” Mura pulled a pout, “But I’m lacking of self-esteem. That’s why I decided to go on hiatus. For your information, I had no idea who Aki was, and today I’ve acknowledged his voice acting ability.”Bookmark here

“I was shocked myself,” Fuku seemed rubbing his chest, “I knew he was enthusiast on becoming a voice actor, but I never thought he would act to such extent. I didn’t mean to belittle him, but his acting was almost similar to a professional. Even I didn’t act like him at his age.”Bookmark here

“Today’s an exceptional. He was induced by his trauma, without him realizing it,” Tori scratched the back of his head. The hasty scene caused him dizziness that he chose to just stay pun in his seat. “I hope he’ll be all right.”Bookmark here

A groan interrupted their discussion, alerting them that Aki might have woken up from his sleep. Tori signaled them to not mention anything about his divulgence, and they concurred to him. Tori made his way to Aki, concurrently the others tailed him from behind. Bookmark here

Aki frowned in his sleep, mouth parted as if he was talking, and his twitching eyes did not seem to widely open soon. He was having a bad dream, predictably. Tori settled down right beside Aki and squeezed his hand, lending some strength to the latter. To their surprise, Aki’s tears escaped from the corners of his eyes. Bookmark here

“Aki.” Fuku’s guilt intensified. He could not stop blaming himself for leading Aki according exactly to his plan. No one told him about Aki’s backstory, which grieved his as well. Bookmark here

Was he being egoistic for organizing such schedule for them? The main reason of their recruitment was that he did not want to let Kenji straining Miyu and Nae anymore. He acknowledged those two as outstandingly talented voice actors compared to the others, yet Kenji kept on assigning them more auditions for upcoming anime. It could be good news, initially, but humans did have limit and they would eventually reach it sooner or later. He did not want them to waste their talent due to selfishness, hence he looked for more voice actors to add on the workers in the company. Bookmark here

“Another issue, Fuku-san,” Tori suddenly transferred the focus from Aki to the flustered Fuku. “Bushida Academy was your alma mater. Am I right?”Bookmark here

The entire Seiyuu Club swiftly turned to the ogling Fuku. He never told anyone about his high school, not even Ishi. From the beginning of his career, he concealed his old schools. Even if one looked up of him online, they would not find anything about his education. Tori’s guess shocked even the cousin. Bookmark here

“Tori, why did you say so?” Ishi asked on behalf of everyone.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry, it was actually a random guess,” Tori averted from every pair of eyes fixated on him, “I didn’t get why Fuku-san worked so hard to publish all of us to the entertainment world, whereas the seniors have different backgrounds. Besides, why The Seiyuu Club? He could always find new voice actors from other resources, but why The Seiyuu Club of Bushida Academy? From all those, I hypothesized.” Bookmark here

The stifled mood paradoxically deafened them to the point that they could hear their own heart beating fast. Fuku then nodded in acceptance to Tori’s rough instinct. “Yes, Bushida Academy was my high school.”Bookmark here

“Seriously, Fuku-nii? Why didn’t I know about it?” Ishi shook Fuku’s hand vigorously. “No wonder you encouraged me to go there!”Bookmark here

“It’s because I heard from the juniors that the club lost its sensibility after I graduated,” Fuku gently pushed Ishi’s hand away from him and stared directly into the younger’s gaze. “The club got new members only when the students refused to choose other clubs, so it didn’t function as how it should. That’s why I assigned you to go there, find and replenish the club again, and train to be real voice actors!”Bookmark here

Matsu and Nami exchanged glances among themselves. Meanwhile Kaji, Shimo and Taku gaped in disbelief, with the only difference was Taku covered his mouth with his palm. Mura grabbed Ishi’s slightly shaking hand due to astonishment, while Tori landed his view on the pallid Aki. Bookmark here

“Eh?”Bookmark here

He just noticed that Aki has already awoken from his sleep, and currently staring at all of them back. He seemed baffled because he could not catch up with the conversation. Tori gasped and almost kicked him on the stomach. Bookmark here

“Why so glum? Cheer up, will you?” Aki raised a brow. “And Fuku-san, where’s your genuine smile? It soothes us, do you know that?”Bookmark here

Aki has successfully prompted Fuku’s welled up tears to trickle, spilling out the massacring guilt developing from within. He shoved his wrist into his mouth and bit it to hold his hiccup. The Aki reappeared before them was not the one fainting in the Audition Room an hour ago, but they could not affirm if he was the same Aki as he was that morning. Bookmark here

“Aki!” Mura could not hold his tears like how Fuku did. He immediately hugged Aki tightly until Aki grappled to free himself. “How are you? We were so worried when you suddenly fell!”Bookmark here

Aki stroked Mura’s hair and pasted a smile. A sweet beaming smile. The kind of smile he would always portray when he was contented. “Believe it or not, an utterly voice actor is hugging me!” He frantically shrieked out of excitement. “Anyone please post this online!”Bookmark here

“No you cannot!” Ishi and Mura jolted in unison. “We’ve been hiding from the reporters for months! Don’t ruin it!”Bookmark here

The hush faded like a breeze blowing their doubt, apprehension and poignancy away. The seniors in The Seiyuu Club checked on Aki to detect whether he was really healthy. Aki brushed it off with a chuckle, exclaiming that they were too troubled of his unconsciousness, yet he eventually apologized for causing them heartthrob. Bookmark here

Fuku was the last person to confront Aki after taking a while to buckle up his courage. Aki, as usual, was delighted once Fuku sat comfortably while facing him.Bookmark here

“Fuku-san! I’m sorry that I’ve delayed everyone’s process!” Aki combined his palms together and bowed at the elder. “I didn’t mean to make a mess, but the more I avoided it, the bigger the mess I’ve erupted.”Bookmark here

“Aki,” Fuku patted on Aki’s shoulder, reassuring a smile on his face, “Please be selfish sometimes. You do know what your vision is, so you shouldn’t discourage yourself to reach it. You need to prioritize your own happiness at times too.”Bookmark here

The grin on Aki’s complexion gradually washed away and was replaced with staggering grimness. Tearing up and neglecting their opinion, Aki bit his lower lip. “Can I do that, Fuku-san? Can I really do that?”Bookmark here

Tori turned around, avoiding from being spotted by Aki. Bookmark here

“Will my parents throw me away? Even when they figured out I ran away from home?” Bookmark here

At last, they discovered Aki’s undeniable weakness. Aki’s emotion was unstable and due to it, he could barely control his disappointment. Because of the incident between him and Kenji, the harsh severity he has been keeping in his heart brimmed over and overtook him completely. He could not even fake his cheerfulness in a long time. Bookmark here

Fuku embraced Aki as tight and firm as he could. Droplets of tears wetted Aki’s shoulder, and the seniors hugged him together with Fuku. Only Tori, Mura and Ishi stayed put, not refusing to hug Aki, but they began to hate themselves for not being a help to Aki. Bookmark here

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“I’m so sorry, Aki. I’m so sorry,” Fuku implored in between hiccups. Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.