Chapter 1:

Encounter in the 7-Eleven

Bonded by Music

The new customer who had just entered the store, breathing hard as if the devil were chasing him and with a little worn-out backpack hanging from one shoulder, happened to be a young man. Eloy was terrible at guessing other people’s ages, but he calculated that the newcomer was younger than him, probably by three or four years.

The first thing that caught Eloy’s attention was the guy’s hair. It had been some time since he saw someone wearing a mohawk-style cut since he arrived in Tokyo. The second thing was the horizontal mark that the guy had on his nose, long healed but visible enough to attract attention. He wondered how he had got that, maybe in a fight? And the third and last was the guy’s scary expression. A pronounced frown adorned his eyebrows, and his intense gaze caused the employee to gulp and shrink a little after the new customer set his eyes on him.

“Shit, isn’t Mr. Mori here today?” the guy barked urgently at the employee, who gulped again.

“N-No, today is his day off.”

The newcomer cursed and tensed even more before looking behind his back. Then he cursed again, and without sparing a glance towards Eloy, passed behind him, rapidly crouching behind the furthest shelf.

Before Eloy had time to wonder about the meaning of the guy’s strange behavior, the door chimed again with the familiar store tune. And a simple glance at the three new people that had just entered was all the answer he needed.

“Good evening!” The guy that approached the counter, showing a wide smile full of perfect white teeth, seemed to be around the same age as the guy hiding behind the shelves. Unlike the latter, whose clothes were pretty normal, the new guy was fully dressed in expensive brands. Eloy didn’t know much about fashion, but he was pretty sure that the jewels that the guy was wearing in his ears and wrists cost more than what he was paying for rent. “Didn’t you happen to see a young man around here, right? This tall, funny hairstyle and scarred face, vagabond clothes…”

The other two guys that accompanied the one who was obviously the group leader snickered at the mocking, disdained description. Eloy found himself gritting his teeth. He didn’t consider himself the problematic type, nor the violent one, but he thought that that guy deserved a good punch.


Eloy realized that it was a matter of time that the employee looked towards the shelves where the guy was hiding. He quickly intervened to redirect their attention.

“Yes, I saw him through the glass.” His comment caused the employee to look at him in disbelief, and also drew the group’s gaze towards him.

“You did?” the leader asked, tilting his head. He kept his smile, but his eyes betrayed a hint of suspicion. Eloy's heart started beating a little faster, but he spoke with a firm tone.

“He was wearing a black backpack with some kind of plushie hanging from it.” Eloy signaled towards the street again with his eyes. “He was running in that direction.”

Eloy signaled towards the crosswalk that could be seen from the glass store. He had taken a considerable risk by answering that way, since he had no idea where the guy had actually come from. It was possible that he had run from the same direction Eloy had pointed to, which meant that his lie would be exposed within seconds. Nevertheless, he did his best to appear confident as the group exchanged glances, and he held his ground as the leader flashed a surprised smirk at him.

“Your Japanese isn’t bad for a foreigner. Thank you for your help,” the guy said, ending his sentence in English with a singsongy tone. He then made a gesture with his head towards his two friends, and the three of them abandoned the place.

“Keep scanning,” Eloy muttered to the employee while pretending to check his mobile. It took the employee a couple of seconds to react, but eventually, he cleared his throat and resumed scanning the products.

Eloy discreetly glanced towards the store entrance. The group was still there, talking to each other. Fortunately, after a few seconds, they seemed to decide that Eloy hadn't lied and headed in the direction he had indicated.

Exhaling a relieved sigh, Eloy finally dared to look towards the last shelf of the store.

“You can come out now. They’re gone.”

There was no response. Eloy was about to speak again, thinking that perhaps the guy hadn’t heard him, when he finally emerged from behind the shelf. Eloy was surprised to see that instead of appearing relieved, the guy seemed even more defensive than before.

“What was that about?” the guy asked, his tone brusque. Eloy frowned slightly, taken aback by the abrupt question.

“Sorry, what?”

“Why did you help me?” the guy impatiently said, crossing his arms. “‘Cause if you want money, I’m not giving you anything. I didn’t ask you to cover for me.”

Eloy stared at the guy with a dumbfounded expression on his face before exhaling an incredulous laugh. Until that day, or rather night, he didn’t believe that there could be someone more distrustful than Elia, but that guy had managed to surpass her.

“Oi, who are you laughing at?” Glaring Dude snapped, his expression fierce.

“No one!” Eloy rapidly raised his hands in a conciliatory gesture. “I’m not laughing at anyone. I just found it funny that you asked if I wanted money.”

Glaring Dude narrowed his eyes.

“Then what do you want?”

“Nothing. Well, a ‘thank you’ would be nice, but that’s all.”

Glaring Dude snorted in response.

“So then I have to believe that you decided to help a complete stranger because of the good nature of your heart?” Glaring Dude replied sarcastically.

Eloy chuckled at the response.

“It’s more like I did not want to help an arrogant jerk who looked like the typical bully,” he said, daring to throw a conciliatory smile at the guy. “Does that sound more credible to you?”

Glaring Dude snorted again, but the stiffness of his shoulders seemed to ease slightly.

“Actually yeah, it does,” he admitted, pointing at Eloy with his chin. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

As Less-Glaring Dude started to walk towards the exit, Eloy contemplated asking if that group usually caused him trouble. However, he decided to remain silent. It wasn’t as if he would see that guy again, and he had the feeling that he wouldn’t appreciate him meddling with his business.

He was about to focus on the employee then, who by then had finished scanning his purchase, when the guy came back. Or rather, stomped his way back, his footsteps echoing heavily on the floor.

“Hey, do you usually hit the bars?”

Eloy blinked, surprised by the abrupt question.

“Well, sometimes. Why?”

Slightly-Nervous-Glaring-Dude extracted a card from his pocket and handed it to Eloy.

“There’s a bar called Harmony in Shinjuku. I used to work there, and I know the owner. If you go there, your first drink is on me. But just one. Understood?”

The guy shook the card impatiently towards Eloy, who took it after recovering from the surprise.

“Oh, okay. Thank you.” The guy left again, and Eloy noticed a small detail. “But wait, shouldn’t you tell me your name or something so that they know that I–”

The doors of the store chimed again, indicating Eloy that he had been too slow.

“And he left,” Eloy muttered to himself with irony, exhaling a small chuckle before finally turning towards the employee to pay.

After paying, he left the store and stood on the street, observing the card that Glaring Dude had given him.

“So, ‘Harmony’, huh.” Eloy shrugged. “Well, I guess that now I have plans for the weekend.”

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