Chapter 41:

Calm days

Bonded by Music

Eloy had always known that creating music wasn’t easy, but he hadn’t properly thought about how difficult it was until he was left with the task of creating a piece from scratch.

The problem was that, unlike Genta, who had actually come up with a few original songs in his teenage days - bad and lame songs, according to Genta, but complete songs nonetheless - Eloy didn’t have any experience in composing. It was true that he had created some fragments back when he was studying piano, but he had never created an entire piece on his own.

As a consequence, they decided that Genta would work on the lyrics and think about the staging of their performance, while Eloy would exclusively focus on the score. However, after a couple of days of intense studying and reviewing tutorials on the internet, they reached one conclusion: even if they managed to come up with something half-decent, that wouldn’t be enough to win. They needed an expert who critically reviewed what they did.

Luckily, Eloy knew just that person. And although he had been reluctant at first, he eventually listened to Elia’s advice and got in touch with Victor, his former piano teacher.

When the musician agreed to have a video conference with him, Eloy had assumed that they would only have one meeting where the man would take a look at what they had so far, and perhaps provide them with a few pointers to improve it.

However, Eloy was surprised when he discovered that Victor had been following their progression in the contest since they made it to the news, and also that he felt rather enthusiastic to help them as much as they needed. In fact, he almost got angry when Eloy offered to pay him for the help. The only condition that Victor imposed was that Eloy and him had to meet to play the piano when they were in Spain, for old times' sake, a condition to which Eloy gladly agreed.

During the next two weeks, Eloy and Genta settled into a routine of working on the song and scheduling meetings with Victor to show him their progress. Also, since Cristina seemed to be on vacation again, Eloy could exclusively focus on the contest without having to deal with his tutor’s trust crisis.

Surprisingly, even though they were quite busy, the feeling that had been present during the previous three challenges of always racing against the clock, wasn’t present this time. In fact, they actually had time to disconnect, to hang out with the girls and on their own, and Eloy was pleasantly surprised when Hiromi invited him to celebrate Obon with Genta and her.

Eloy learned some nice stories about Genta’s father that day, and had a lot of fun when Hiromi didn’t waste the opportunity to show Eloy some old photo albums after the three of them had dinner. Eloy almost died of cuteness when seeing that Genta appeared frowning in all the photos as a baby, while Genta was about to do it out of embarrassment when they reached his teenage days.

“This isn’t fair,” Genta protested once Hiromi retired to go to sleep, leaving them alone in the living room, with Eloy refusing to release those albums. “You better show me embarrassing pictures of yourself to compensate for this.”

“Please, Genta, you were a pretty decent teenager. I spent a whole year suffering from acne, and it was the worst.” Eloy turned the page of the album. “By the way, when did you change your hairstyle?”

“Oh, that was after I got the scar. Since people were gonna stare anyway, I stopped worrying about ‘proper’ hairstyles. That’s also when I got the tattoos.”

Eloy chuckled. “I guess it makes sense–” Eloy shut up while focusing on the next picture. “Wait, are you wearing piercings in this picture?”

“Ah, yeah, those I got them when I turned sixteen, behind my parent’s backs. I was punished for an entire week after that.”

“But you removed them later?”

“Yeah, when I started working. I could easily cover the tattoos, and people were mostly fine with the hair, but piercings were a no-no.”

“...And can’t you wear them when you’re not working?” Eloy really had to make an effort not to adjust his glasses when Genta raised an eyebrow and smiled with amusement. “I mean, I’m just curious to see how they’d look on you now, but that doesn’t mean–”

“I’ll wear them the next time we hang out.”

“Genta, seriously, if you don’t want to–”

“Oh, now that I know that you’re turned on by piercings, I definitely want to.”

Sssh, your mother is sleeping in the next room!”

“You know that you have hushed louder than I spoke, right?”

Eloy clicked his tongue as Genta chuckled next to him, finally leaving the album on the coffee table. He could only pretend to be annoyed for a few seconds, just until Genta got closer to him and encircled an arm around him, also leaning his head against Eloy’s shoulder.

“I’m happy that you spent the day with us. Thank you for coming.”

Eloy smiled and nudged the top of Genta’s head. “Thank you for inviting me.”

They remained in a comfortable silence, during which Eloy’s gaze eventually diverted towards the family altar where they had made some offerings before.



“If we end up winning ‘Tune it Up’, will you have enough with half of the prize to pay the debt off completely?”

As expected, he felt Genta tense against him before straightening his position, facing Eloy with a wary expression on his face.

“You better not be thinking about giving me money from your half,” Genta threatened, causing Eloy to exhale a deep breath.

He had already foreseen that half of the prize wouldn’t be enough to settle the debt; and also that the upcoming conversation was going to be a tough one.

“Listen, I’ve been investigating–”


“Genta, at least me let me talk before–”

No. From the start we decided that it would be divided equally. Besides, even if I agreed - which I don’t - probably the conditions of the contests won’t allow–”

“They allow it,” Eloy interrupted Genta. “I re-read the contract we signed. By default, the prize is divided equally, but the contestants can agree to other terms if they want.”

“Well, too bad that I don’t.”

“And if one of the contestants happens to renounce their part, then their half will automatically go to the other contestant.”

Genta’s eyes opened wide for a moment before clenching his jaw. “You won’t dare to do that.”

Eloy sustained Genta’s gaze. “I will. And you can try to give it back to me after that, but then I’ll return it to you, so the simplest solution here is that you tell me how much else you’d need.”

Genta opened and closed his mouth before exhaling an incredulous snort. “Eloy, I…I can’t. It’s not fair for you.”

Eloy grabbed Genta’s hands in his, looking at him in the eye. “Genta, I didn’t enter the contest for the money.”


“And if we win, believe me: having the opportunity to keep studying under Mr. Shin’s supervision would be enough reward, so it will be a win-win for both of us. So please, let me be the stubborn one for once.”

Genta swallowed thickly. “Honestly, right now I don’t know if I wanna kiss you or kick you.”

Eloy chuckled. “Well, if I can choose, I’d prefer the first option–”

Genta also opted for that, since he cupped Eloy’s face in his hands to kiss him.

“I’ll think about it, but it’s not a yes,” Genta warned when they separated. “So if we win, we’ll discuss this again. Is that enough for you, Mr. Stubborn?”

Eloy chuckled at the evolution of his nickname before hugging Genta. “Yes, it’s enough. Thank you.”

Genta let out a slightly trembling snort. “Idiot, that should be my line.” Genta hugged him back, tightly. “I love you.”

Eloy’s eyes snapped wide at the sudden confession. He separated from Genta, who despite being blushing now, had his gaze determinedly fixed in him.

“And yeah, I know that it’s probably too soon to say it, but it’s really how I feel–”

“I love you too,” Eloy said, because even though his heart was racing, there was no trace of doubt in it about how he felt.

Genta stared at him in disbelief, then cursed, and finally lunged against Eloy, tackling him to the sofa while smiling with relief.

“Wait, your mother will hear us if–”

“Then you better keep your voice down this time,” Genta whispered against Eloy’s lips without losing his smile, starting to slip his hands under Eloy’s t-shirt.

Eloy really wanted to behave as a responsible adult and tell Genta to stop.

But then Genta kissed him, and as whenever that happened, he found himself too weak to resist.

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