Chapter 44:

What the heart desires

Bonded by Music

Eloy didn’t get in touch with Genta the next day, nor during the weekend. He didn't visit Harmony either, which prompted Mako and Narumi to start a group conversation with him to ask how he was doing.

However, Eloy didn't respond immediately. He waited until the next Monday morning, once he had finally finished editing the video that was supposed to be displayed during their performance, before replying to them. The chances of the judges allowing Genta to complete the final challenge alone were slim, almost non-existent. But he was determined to give his best until the end. It was the least he could do for Genta and the rest.

He had barely texted Mako and Narumi, letting them know that he had uploaded the last version of the video to the shared drive folder, when his phone rang.

Eloy sighed and picked up the call. “No, Cara, I haven’t eaten yet, but I was about to do it.”

“Oh, of course you’re, since I’m on my way right now. Pizza or chicken, what do you prefer?”

Eloy chuckled and made his choice. Cara had been behaving like a mother hen around him during the past three days, but Eloy couldn’t exactly blame her. The Friday after his conversation with Cristina and his later discussion with Genta, he struggled to fall asleep, and the next morning he woke up extremely late. It had also taken him a while to leave the bed, while slowly accepting the last unexpected turn of events. And then, once he finally stopped behaving like a moping soul, he sat at his computer to do something productive.

That’s how Cara had found him that night when she paid him a surprise visit to check on him: hunched over his laptop, without having even paused to rest, got to the bathroom, or eat. She really had to feel sorry for him not to hit him for taking such poor care of himself, now that he thought about it.

Around ten minutes later, Cara texted him saying that she was downstairs. They ate the pizza that she had brought in the dining area of that floor. They lingered there for a while until Eloy announced that he had to go back to his room, this time to prepare the presentation for that Friday meeting.

“You also had a video call with your family, right? How are you feeling?”

“Nervous,” Eloy admitted while he started to pack the leftover pizza into a bag. “I mean, I know that Elia is going to be angry for not having told her anything, but I don’t know how my parents will react.”

“Probably better than you expect, as usual,” Cara reassured him before standing up. “Okay, I have to get back to the hotel. Tell me how the call goes.”

“Will do.” He smiled at Cara. “Thank you for stopping by.”

Cara clicked her tongue and flicked his forehead. “Silly. That’s what friends are for.”

She waved her hand goodbye and walked towards the stairs, turning heads as usual on her way there.

Unlike the past days, when time had flown by as Eloy worked on the video, the next couple of hours passed extremely slowly. In fact, he only had three slides ready, an extremely low number compared with his usual pace, when it was time to start the video call with Elia and their parents.

Taking a deep breath, he opened Skype, trying to calm down even though his heart was already racing. At that moment, the connection was established, and Elia and their parents appeared on the screen.

Eloy had planned out everything he was going to say. He knew how he was going to introduce the latest news regarding his scholarship and the contest, and he had strong arguments to support his decision to step down from the latter.

He had everything under control. There was no reason to be nervous.

“Oh my god, Eloy, sweetie, you look way too pale! Are you sick?”

“Normally I would tell your mother that she worries too much but today I agree: is everything okay son?”

“Did Cristina bother you again with something? Or did Genta and you fight…? In a purely friendly way, of course, I’m not implying anything–wait, are you crying?”

And that’s how, despite his plan of keeping a perfectly composed attitude while explaining his situation, facing all those concerned questions caused Eloy to start crying, letting out the accumulated frustration of the past days.

Obviously, all that he planned to say was forgotten. But after his initial sobs receded a bit, he made enough sense to explain everything.

“So this is how things are now,” Eloy concluded, reaching for the hundredth tissue while his glasses rested on the table. “It’s really frustrating that this happens when we were so close, but I just can’t give up on the scholarship to participate in the contest–”

“Why not?”

His father’s genuinely confused question and the way his mother looked just as lost caught Eloy by surprise.

“Because…because it’s the best scholarship that someone can get,” he said as if it was obvious. “And it took me years to get it. It took us years. So I can’t just throw it away because of a contest that I don’t even know if we’re going to win.”

A knowing expression appeared then on his father’s face before the man spoke again with a soft tone.

“Listen to me, son. Since you two were born, your mother and I have only cared about one thing: your happiness. That’s why we alway insisted that you and your sister should study hard: so that when the moment came, you were prepared, and could choose what you wanted to do without having to worry.”

Eloy swallowed, feeling his heart beat faster.

Was it really that simple?

Could he really choose what he really wanted to do without having to feel guilty about it?

“But if I do that, everything I’ve done this past years will be for nothing–”

“No, it won’t!” his mother said with conviction. “Sweetie, all the things you’ve done, everything you’ve achieved, that won’t disappear just because you decide to renounce a scholarship. The worst that can happen is that you come back home with us for a while–”

“Your mother would really love that, son, let me tell you.”

“Well, of course, but I’m not saying it for that Pedro! I just mean that with your attitude and your CV there will be other ways to come back to Japan if that’s what you want!”

“Exactly, so screw the scholarship, and also Cristina!” exclaimed Elia with a light trembling voice before blowing her nose, causing Eloy’s eyes to widen when realizing that she was also crying now, probably after seeing him doing so. “And honestly, the one who loses the most is Cristina, since she will stop taking advantage of your written articles and your contacts. So if she doesn’t like you living your life for once, she can stuff her opinions and the scholarship up her ass!”

“E-Elia, that mouth!”

“Come on, mom, you think the same!”

“Y-Yes, but there are other ways to say it!”

“What we’re trying to say, Eloy,” interjected his father with an affable smile, “is that you should choose whatever you feel is right. Because as long as we see you happy, and even if we may not fully understand it, we will be okay with it.”

Eloy was pursing his lips, trying to - uselessly - prevent more tears from appearing when his mother effusively nodded.

“Exactly, sweetie. Always listen to your heart, since it will never be wrong–”

“Mom, that’s so corny that it could be written on a Mr. Wonderful cup.”

Elia’s comment caused Laura to show an offended expression while Eloy bursted out laughing, which automatically made their mother forget Elia’s - rather imaginative - insult. Once he calmed down, he looked at his right wrist.

“I think I know what I want to do,” he admitted before looking at his family with affection. “Thank you. And sorry for worrying you, again.”

His father chuckled. “Well, that’s what sons and daughters are for.”

“Well, but in this case it’s Eloy the most troublesome one.”


“What? I support him, but…” Elia narrowed his eyes at Eloy while pointing at him, “I don’t forget that you kept me in the dark about all this. So next time that you get a tattoo, I’m not going to keep quiet about–”

“W-Wait, a tattoo! Eloy, you got a tattoo?!”


On Elia’s defense, it really seemed as if her slip had been accidental. Eloy was about to reassure his mother that he hadn't gotten any ‘yakuza-like' tattoo when a couple of knocks sounded at his door. He excused himself with his parents and stood up, assuming that another tenant needed something.

He opened the door, and his eyes widened as his heart skipped a beat.


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