Chapter 8:

An Extraordinary Moment

The Sound of Love

The weekend had arrived.

It was after lunch when I came to Haru's house. His place was where we usually met for rehearsals.

I rang the doorbell and was greeted by Haru. He was wearing only shorts, with his hair slightly damp. A towel was wrapped around his neck, and I could smell the characteristic scent of his cherry blossom shampoo.

"Come on in, Yuuji. You're here earlier than I expected. I just got out of the shower."

"Oh, sorry for arriving so early."

"No problem, make yourself at home while I finish getting ready upstairs."

I felt very comfortable at Haru's house, mainly because we had been friends for many years. It was as if every corner of the place was familiar, and that made me feel at ease while preparing everything before we started playing together.

He had a designated space for that, resembling a modest studio.

In one corner, an imposing drum kit dominated the space, a complete seven-piece setup with a shiny splash and ride cymbals. Next to it was Airi's digital keyboard, connected to a computer with various audio effects and pedals, ready to bring the music to life.

Adorning the walls were posters of bands and pop artists, alongside some hand-drawn artworks of our music idols. The lighting was cozy, with soft spotlights creating an almost concert-like atmosphere.

It wasn't a professional studio, but that special corner reflected our shared passion.

On the other side, a couch witnessed our laid-back moments. After rehearsals, we would sit there, enjoying sodas and snacks, laughing at jokes, and sharing stories.

We knew it wasn't a perfect place, but it was where our music fused with friendship, creating a unique harmony that brought us closer together. It was our sanctuary, a place where we could be ourselves, without pressure or judgment, just celebrating the music we loved.

As I organized and checked the equipment, I heard the doorbell ring again. I waited a bit, thinking Haru might come down to answer the door, but it rang once, twice, three times, and as it continued without interruption, I decided to go myself.

Upon opening the door, I already knew who was responsible for the inconvenience.

"Come in, Airi. Help me set up, and maybe use up some of that energy of yours."

"How did you know it was me?"

"Do I even need to answer that?"

Airi was dressed casually, quite different from her usual school uniform. She wore a beautiful white dress with lace details, seemingly taken straight from a fairytale.

Her makeup was subtle but meticulously applied, accentuating her delicate features. Her violet eyes sparkled like stars, enhanced by a soft black eyeliner that emphasized her long eyelashes. With a kind and infectious smile, Airi radiated joy and vivacity, truly embodying a modern-day princess.

"I couldn't even use the bathroom in peace. I was going crazy hearing the doorbell. Thanks for opening it, Yuuji," Haru said, coming down the stairs, already dressed up.

"It was nothing."

Airi had a mischievous expression as if her goal of making us uncomfortable had been achieved.

"Has Kurokawa not arrived yet?" Airi asked, noticing her absence.

"So far, nothing. I talked to her yesterday, and she said she'd come. She should be here any moment now."

"I guess we can wait a little longer," Haru suggested.

During this time, I took the opportunity to tune my guitar to make sure everything was ready.

The doorbell rang again, and my heartbeat quickened, hoping it was Kurokawa finally arriving.

Airi rushed to open the door, caught up in the excitement of her presence.

Kurokawa looked stunning, as always. She wore a slightly loose sweater that gave her a charming and captivating air. Her black hair gently fell over her shoulders, and her bangs delicately framed her face. Her mesmerizing blue eyes were highlighted by subtle makeup, enhancing her natural beauty.

I should have been used to seeing her casually outside of school since I often gave her music lessons at my place. However, for some inexplicable reason, my heart always raced when I saw her, and my mind seemed to lose track of everything around me. My eyes inevitably got fixed on her mesmerizing aura.

"I hope I'm not too late."

Kurokawa seemed a bit uncomfortable in the new environment. Her eyes roamed around, analyzing the instruments, decorations, and everything that gave the place its personal touch.

"Don't worry, Akane. We were still getting ready," Airi reassured her, already addressing Kurokawa by her first name, which made me somewhat jealous since I hadn't reached that level of intimacy with her yet.

After settling on the couch, Airi handed her a bag of snacks. Despite her playful behavior, she always cared about making others feel at ease.

"Are you ready for the show?" Airi asked, excited.

"Let's take it easy, Airi. It's just a rehearsal," I added, trying not to raise expectations too much.

"Okay, can we start then?" Haru said, enthusiastic and anxious to get started.

Airi and I exchanged excited glances, showing that we were ready and eager to begin. After a quick nod, Haru gave a little smile and, with an upbeat drumbeat, signaled that we were about to kick off the rehearsal.

"Ready? Let's go!"

The first chords of the song filled the room, creating an engaging atmosphere. My heart raced as I strummed my guitar, eager to see how Kurokawa would react to our music.

It was a popular upbeat pop song. The sounds of my guitar, Haru's drum beats, and Airi's keyboard blended perfectly, filling the space with a delightful and captivating melody. Each note was carefully crafted, and our harmony was palpable as if we were all connected by the same energy.

Suddenly, I noticed that Kurokawa had been completely captivated by the sound. Her expression transformed into admiration and excitement, her eyes were shining with her own light. It was as if the music transported her to a magical world.

Airi and Haru were also caught up in the music, giving their all.

I felt fortunate to have such talented and dedicated friends. And despite all the excitement, I knew the moment we were all a bit hesitant about was coming: the vocal part.

It was Airi's turn to sing, and I knew she wasn't a professional singer. In fact, she wasn't even a decent amateur singer. Her singing could be described as... disturbing, something that would make any baby cry and run away.

However, despite that, Haru and I had made a pact to support her, and we didn't want to see her sad.

So, with a complicit look, we exchanged glances, prepared to face it together.

The music continued, and the moment arrived. Airi began to sing, and I felt my heart tighten. Her singing wasn't pleasant to the ears. Haru seemed to be struggling internally not to laugh or cry, and I knew my face must have been expressing a mixture of emotions too.

Kurokawa, who had seemed impressed before, now wore a somewhat pained smile, noticing Airi's struggle with singing.

The next few minutes felt like an eternity, but as they passed, I felt a sense of relief. The song was coming to an end, and so was the agony of hearing Airi sing. We breathed a sigh of relief when the final note was played.

"So, Akane, what did you think?" Airi asked, eagerly awaiting a response.

Kurokawa pondered for a moment, trying to find the right words. "Well... how can I put it... it was interesting, I guess," she replied with a gentle smile.

I knew Kurokawa didn't want to sound rude, but it was evident what was going through her mind. Airi, on the other hand, seemed determined and confident, so she took a sip of water to soothe her sore throat while we discussed some adjustments to the music. However, she let out a slight yelp of pain as the cold liquid touched her sensitive throat.

"Are you okay, Airi?" Haru rushed to help her.

"I think the cold water did something to my throat," Airi said, her voice slightly shaky and hoarse.

"Don't worry, Airi. It's better not to strain it. Let's wait a bit until you feel better," I said, trying to reassure her.

Airi nodded, looking a bit sad, but then she had a brilliant idea.

"How about Akane tries singing in my place? So we don't just stand here doing nothing."

Kurokawa was surprised by the suggestion but also appeared willing to help. She looked at all of us, a bit uncertain, but with a curious glimmer in her eyes.

"I... I don't know if I'm that good," she said, hesitating.

"Oh, don't worry about that! We're all here to have fun and try new things, right?" Airi said, encouraging her with an enthusiastic smile.

Kurokawa was still hesitant, but she eventually gave in to Airi's enthusiasm.

"Okay, I'll give it a try," she said, mustering up some courage.

And so, without much expectation, Kurokawa positioned herself at the center of the makeshift stage.

"Let's start with something simple," I suggested, grabbing my guitar to accompany her. "Do you know the song 'Sakura no Hikari' by the singer Takashi Nakamura?"

"Yes, I know it," Kurokawa replied with a shy smile.

Airi, who was still recovering, sat on the couch, eager to watch the performance.

Kurokawa took a deep breath and began to sing, her voice slightly nervous. But as the song progressed, she seemed to loosen up more, gaining confidence.

The chords of the guitar blended harmoniously with Kurokawa's sweet voice, and the room seemed to fill with colors and energizing feelings as if a magical aura enveloped us all. Kurokawa's voice was simply magnetic, and I felt immersed in her performance. Her sweet and gentle tone conveyed emotions that touched our hearts deeply.

The music floated in the air, surrounding us in an almost transcendent atmosphere. The guitar chords and the drum beats harmonized perfectly with Kurokawa's voice, creating a symphony that seemed to echo beyond the walls of the small room.

Airi, still recovering, was smiling as she listened to Kurokawa sing. Her eyes sparkled with admiration, and I knew she was also enchanted by Kurokawa's voice.

I glanced at Haru, and he appeared just as amazed as I felt. Our eyes met, sharing the same sense of admiration for Kurokawa's incredible performance.

At that moment, the world seemed to revolve around her and her enchanting voice. The initial nervousness had completely disappeared, and she was fully immersed in the music, giving herself wholeheartedly to that magical moment.

And so, time flew by. But each note, each inflection in her voice, each expression on her face was like strokes in a musical masterpiece.

When the song finally came to an end, we fell silent, unable to speak or even move. We stood there, taking in the beauty of that extraordinary moment.

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