Chapter 18:

Unexpected meeting

Bonded by Music

Eloy felt rather lost when crossing the doors of Harmony. He had gotten used to visiting the bar when it was closed to the public. In a certain sense he had started seeing Harmony as his second home in Tokyo, due to all the time he had spent there preparing for the contest. So, seeing the place so crowded made him feel a little disoriented.

“Hey, Eloy! Over here!” Cara's voice cut through the noise, and he quickly spotted her waving her arm from the high stool where she was sitting. He maneuvered through the crowd to reach her.

“Hey,” he greeted once he was standing next to her. “Is it just me, or is the place way more crowded than the last time we were here?”

“Oh yes, it is. Mako and Narumi have their hands full but don’t worry: I’ve got you covered,” Cara grinned and slid a lemonade in his direction.

“Thank you.” Eloy took a small sip before looking around. “Where is Genta? Hasn’t he arrived yet–?”


Eloy cursed in shock when he heard that sentence just next to him, almost causing him to spill his drink. As Cara chuckled beside him, he turned to find Genta standing at his other side.

“Sorry, I didn’t plan to scare you,” Genta said.

“You sure? Because you have a talent for it.”

“Or you have a talent for being scared.”

“Well, say that excuse when I die with one of those ‘Yo’s.”

Genta sighed with patience, and Eloy’s heart indeed skipped a beat when Genta suddenly placed the palm of his hand against his chest.

“It’s still beating, so you can stop worrying for now,” Genta ironically said. Eloy simply hummed and took a longer sip of his lemonade, hoping that the cold liquid would help him lower the sudden heat that had assaulted him after the contact of Genta’s hand.

“Oh, that reminds me, have you heard about Cristina?” Cara inquired.

“Nope, she hasn’t come back from her holidays yet.”

“Nice, enjoy your freedom while it lasts.”

Genta looked at them alternatively, frowning with logical confusion.

“My thesis tutor,” Eloy explained. “I think she doesn’t know that I’m participating in ‘Tune it Up’, and the later she learns about it, the better.”

“Why? You think she won’t like it?”

Eloy laughed with a hint of nervousness.

“Oh, I know she won’t. She’ll probably start panicking that I might abandon the thesis because of it. She can be very dramatic.”

Genta hummed while leaning his crossed arms on the counter. “She sounds like a pain in the ass.”

“She is,” Cara rapidly answered, causing Eloy to look at her with patience. “Hey, ask your sister. She will tell you the same.”

“Yes, because you two are the same.” Cara shook her head in disagreement while Eloy addressed Genta again. “I mean, yes, she can be a little intense–”

Very intense.”

“But she also has her good points,” Eloy continued, ignoring Cara’s annotation. “She’s one of the best in her field, and she’s always worked hard so that I participated in paid projects where I could gain experience. Honestly, she’s a pretty good tutor overall, no matter what my sister or Cara say.”

Cara looked ready to argue back, but luckily for Eloy, the lights of the stage turned on and the background music stopped, attracting everyone’s attention. Eloy recognized Ms. Yamane walking towards the stage, dressed impeccably as usual. The woman stood up in front of the microphone and faced the crowd.

“Good evening, everyone. For those who don’t know me, I’m Noriko Yamane, the owner of Harmony, and there’s a small favor I need to ask you. As most of you will probably know, the new season of ‘Tune it Up’ has already started, and tonight at 10 PM, the results of the first challenge will be announced via stream. So, will you allow me to steal a few minutes of your night fun to display the results?”

There were no objections to Ms. Yamane’s petition, although Eloy had the feeling that in case someone had complained, the woman wouldn’t have had the least trouble ‘convincing’ them. Mako and Narumi left the counter then to help Ms. Yamane set up the TV hanging over the stage area, which sometimes displayed the lyrics of the songs that people chose to perform.

“Oh, it’s about to start,” Cara said with excitement while shaking Eloy’s arm, looking at them both. “Are you nervous?”

“No,” said Eloy.

“Yes,” admitted Genta, causing Eloy to look at him with surprise. “And yes, I know that we have more than 10,000 followers, but I’ll believe we’ve passed when they confirm it.”

Eloy was about to jokingly say that Genta really had some trust issues to work on when someone caught her attention: a short lady in her mid-forties with her gray hair combed in a side ponytail that stopped next to Genta.

“Oh lord, I’m glad to have made it in time!”

It was Genta’s turn to jump startled before looking at the woman with astonishment.

“Mom?! What are you doing here?”

“Well, I’m not going to miss the announcement that my boy has made it!”

Eloy observed without any subtlety the conversation that followed, with Genta reproaching his mother going to the nightlife district alone instead of going directly home to rest.

“Oh, you must be Eloy,” the woman interrupted her concerned son to address Eloy with a smile. “I’m Hiromi Ishikawa. I’m glad to finally meet you. Genta hasn’t stopped talking about you since you two entered the contest.”

“Mom…” Genta started with a warning tone that Hiromi ignored again.

“And he had mentioned that you were intelligent and kind but he didn’t say anything about how tall and handsome you are. Won’t you happen to be single, right?”

Mom!” Genta practically shouted while Eloy’s jaw was about to hit the floor, because that was the last question he would have expected to hear coming from that woman.

“N-Nice to meet you too,” he said rapidly after recovering, deciding to rapidly change the topic. “Have you checked our instagram page? Did you like the videos?”

Genta glanced at Eloy with gratitude as Hiromi rapidly started talking about the performances she had liked the most. They continued talking for a few minutes before the stream started.

Of course, Pink Candy was the one leading it, with the rest of the judges connected in a video conference. There was a short introduction thanking everyone for their hard work, and then the announcement of the contestants that passed to the next stage started. Eloy had expected that Pink Candy simply listed the pairs that had beaten the challenge, but with each pair, a short video with the most-liked performance was displayed.

That fact helped that people at the bar were really invested in the stream. But still, the fifteen minutes that passed until SevenEG was announced as one of the 30 selected pairs with their 15,674 followers became eternal.

All the girls applauded and cheered effusively when that happened. Also, Eloy saw Ms. Yamane and Hiromi happily hug each other a couple of meters in front of them in order to better watch the TV. They really looked as if they were good friends.

“You can breathe now,” Eloy told Genta after hearing this one exhale a deep relieved sigh.

“Yes, finally,” Genta said with a small smile. “I only hope that the next challenge is more normal.”

“Really? Didn’t you enjoy the thrill of having to do an interview across the world to beat it?”

“Nope, but I enjoyed making you scream.” What Eloy was thinking must have shown in his face because Genta’s eyes opened wide before rapidly correcting himself. “I mean when I dropped you in that trend. And you screamed. Because you were about to hit the floor–”

“I get it,” Eloy rapidly said, taking pity on Genta who was turning redder and redder.

They focused on the TV again, with a slightly awkward mood surrounding them. The streaming then finished in another few minutes, which made Harmony return to its normality.

“Well, I have to go now. But I’m glad to have met you at last,” Hiromi told Eloy with a sincere smile before turning to Genta. “You have to invite him home one day to have dinner together.”

Eloy had to hold back the laughter when Genta practically dragged his mother out of the bar, since he insisted on coming home with her despite the woman’s protests that he should stay with his friends.

“Well, there’s something important that we’ve learned tonight,” Cara said while nudging Eloy with her elbow, once Genta had left with his mother. “You have GD’s mother's blessing in case you decide to ask her son out.”

Eloy rolled his eyes while Cara chuckled, but he couldn’t wipe the smile from his lips for the rest of the night.

MyAnimeList iconMyAnimeList icon