Chapter 17:

Beating the odds

Bonded by Music

Eloy was barely aware of the things he was saying during most of the short conversation that followed, since he still didn’t believe what was happening. Fortunately, he retained the most important piece of information, which was that he should not hang up under any circumstances.

“What is going on?”

Genta’s confused question made Eloy remember that he wasn’t alone, and that he didn’t have much time to explain the situation.

“Okay, long story short, we’re going to be interviewed by a Spanish program.”

“That we what?”

“I know, it sounds crazy, but at any moment they’re going to send me a link to join a meeting and go live on TV.”

“Live on TV? But how did you–?”

“And here’s the link. Damn, they were fast.” And fast was the way his heart was beating while approaching Genta, who looked more confused than ever. “Look, I promise that I’ll explain everything later. But for now, can you just trust me and follow my lead, please?”

To Eloy’s surprise, Genta nodded with no trace of hesitation. Eloy then instructed Genta to sit next to him at one of the tables. Eloy placed his mobile horizontally on the table, and after using their hands to keep it in place, he clicked on the link.

Eloy started to sweat when several seconds passed and they were still alone in the meeting. No one was talking in the bar, and Eloy could see out of the corner of his eye that Mako and Narumi were holding their breaths. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, someone else joined the meeting, and Eloy heard Diana's voice once again, this time addressing the audience.

“Well, it seems that we have finally established a connection. Can you hear us, Eloy?”

“Y-Yeah, yeah, we hear you.” Eloy quickly swallowed. He should have drunk water before connecting; his throat felt extremely dry. “But we can’t see anything, is that normal?”

“Oh, yes, it’s perfectly normal,” Diana reassured him. “We are already on air and we can see both of you just fine. I presume that that young man is your partner in the contest? Can he understand what we are saying?”

Eloy was pretty sure of the answer, but he still turned towards Genta and switched back to Japanese to mutter the next words. “Can you understand what we are saying?”

“Not a damn word,” Genta confirmed in the same tone, which made Eloy feel guilty for having dragged Genta into that mess with zero warning.

“No, he doesn’t speak Spanish, but if you want to ask him something, I can translate,” Eloy said in his mother tongue, facing the camera again.

“Perfect! Although the first questions are going to be for you, Eloy. So, can you first tell us how everything started?”

Eloy felt more nervous during the interview than he had during the contest audition. Luckily, Diana was really kind, and the other interviewers who joined later to occasionally ask for further details were also rather nice.

The first questions were mainly focused on Eloy, but after that the interviewers shifted to Genta. Eloy was a little afraid that Genta's answers might come off as brusque or too short due to the awkwardness of the situation, but all of Genta's responses were concise and clear. It made Eloy feel a little embarrassed because. He was sure he looked way more nervous in comparison.

Diana also asked if they could show Harmony a bit, since they had mentioned that they always practiced there. When that happened, Mako and Narumi tried to hide behind the counter so as not to appear in the footage, but they weren’t fast enough, which elicited laughs among the interviewers when noticing them. That relaxed the mood for the final questions, related to the next steps of the contest.

“Well, guys, thank you very much for your time. Personally I have found your story really interesting.” Diana really sounded sincere, even if she probably said the same in most of her interviews. “One last thing, can you repeat the name of your group? We need to make sure that our Spanish representative goes to the next stage.”

The interview concluded soon after that, with the interviewers wishing them luck and assuring that they would also follow them on Instagram. Eloy waited for Diana to hang up first before leaving the meeting. Just then, he dared to exhale a long, trembling sigh while slumping back against the chair.

“It’s over,” he exhaled, feeling suddenly exhausted now that the interview had finished. He looked at Genta, who had an unreadable expression on his face, but before he could say anything, Mako gasped.

“Uhm…guys…” Mako started while Narumi raised her mobile next to her, with an equally shocked expression on her face. “You’ve reached 5000 followers.”

WHAT?!” Eloy sprang out of his seat to stand next to the girls, his energy fully recovered. “B-But we hadn’t even reached 1500 half an hour ago!”

“And wait, it keeps rising whenever I refresh: 5060…5089…5107…” Mako looked at them alternatively with a wide smile. “Guys, at this rate you will reach 10,000 followers tonight.”

Eloy let out an incredulous laugh while placing his hands on the top of his head. The evidence was right there, with those numbers steadily increasing before his eyes, but he still found it hard to believe.

“How did you do it?”

Eloy turned towards Genta, who had stood up from his chair and was staring at him intensely, but didn’t look as enthusiastic as the rest. It made Eloy feel nervous again.

“Well, I remembered what King said in the audition, about me being the only foreigner that had passed the preselection. And I also remembered that, at least in my country, whenever people are involved in any kind of contests, it makes the news, especially if they compete overseas.” Eloy shrugged. “I thought that could play in our favor. So I told my sister about it, and she contacted everyone she knew with the information I prepared. And, well... it worked."

Silence fell in the room after Eloy finished speaking. After a few seconds, Genta swallowed heavily and tensed even more, which made Eloy rapidly continue, thinking that Genta was angry with him.

“Look, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about this. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, and I preferred to wait and see what happened before telling you anything–”

Eloy’s eyes widened when Genta suddenly stuck both arms on either side of his body and bowed.

“I’m sorry.” Eloy’s eyes opened even more when Genta apologized with guilt. “I said all that bullshit about you giving up, and not taking things seriously, when you were working so hard. I’m really sorry.”

“Hey, don’t do that.” Eloy exclaimed, approaching Genta. “It was me who kept this a secret, so you couldn’t know.”

“No, but I shouldn’t have doubted you. So far you haven’t given me any reasons to doubt you, and I did.”

“Genta, I arrived an hour late when we were against the clock, without giving you any explanations. It was logical you were angry. So there’s nothing to forgive.” Eloy placed his hands on Genta’s shoulders, trying to get him to straighten his position. “So come on, stop bowing, okay? It makes it look as if we’re complete strangers–”

Eloy was still talking when Genta finally straightened his position and surprised him with a forceful hug that made Eloy shut up instantly, while also feeling his ears reddening. He stood there, frozen and with his hands in the air, unsure of what to do with them.

“Shit, I must have been a saint in another life or something to have you as a partner.”

Eloy exhaled a surprised chuckle while finally returning the hug. He had noticed on a few occasions that Genta had the ability to give compliments without blinking an eye or feeling embarrassed. It was an impressive talent.

“Does this mean that you’re also happy about the result?” he eventually asked, causing Genta to snort.

“Happy?” Genta barked a laugh and pulled back from the hug to place his hands on Eloy’s shoulders, smirking widely. “Man, I could kiss you right now.”

Do it.

The thought caught Eloy so off guard that he tensed.

What the hell?

“Relax, I won’t do it,” Genta said ironically before patting Eloy’s shoulders once, misinterpreting his embarrassment. “But even if the numbers are looking good now, I think we should keep uploading videos.”

“Well, let me tell you that a video of you two kissing would probably gain you a bunch of followers,” Mako playfully commented, causing Genta to roll his eyes.

Meanwhile, Eloy had to content himself with adjusting his glasses with a lightly trembling hand, rather than excusing himself to go to the bathroom to wash his face, which was now even redder than before.

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