Chapter 48:

Time skip

Bonded by Music

9 months later

“See? I told you that you would be able to do it,” Eloy said, chuckling when Sonia, the eight years old girl he was tutoring, smiled at him from ear to ear because she had finally managed to play the entire song from beginning to end without help.

Eloy was in the process of changing the sheet music in the piano rack when Victoria, another teacher in the academy, well into her fifties, poked her head in the room with a shocked expression.

“But Eloy, weren’t you supposed to defend your thesis today?”

“Yes, but I still have a couple of hours. I have time.” Eloy chuckled when seeing the extremely concerned look the teacher was giving him. “Don’t worry, two more songs and I’ll leave.”

Two songs later, Eloy was tempted to go for a third when he felt Victoria’s presence at the door, so he decided not to tempt his luck. He assigned some homework to Sonia, recovered his bag, and walked towards the door.

"I'm surprised at how calm you are," Victoria remarked as she walked with him towards the exit. “When I was younger, a thesis defense was a huge step to take.”

“Normally it is. But in my case, it’s a mere formality.”

“Because you aren’t planning to stay in the University, you mean?” Eloy nodded. By then they were at the entrance of the academy. “And do you know what you want to do instead?”

“Yes, I do, although it’ll probably take a while to turn it into reality.” He adjusted his backpack on his shoulder and nodded at Victoria. "I better get going then. See you tomorrow!"

Victoria wished him luck before he started walking down the street. He took out his phone from his pocket, and stopped abruptly when he saw five missed calls from his mother, along with a text from Elia warning him that the woman was a bit hysterical.

Eloy sighed and resumed his walk. He made sure to keep the phone a little away from his ear before calling his mother back.

“Why don’t you have your phone turned on, Eloy!?”

“Mom, you know that I always silence it during classes.”

“...Classes? Did you give classes today?! But I thought that you were going to spend the morning reviewing the presentation!”

“Ah, yes, that was the plan, but I’ve thought about it better and I really didn’t need to practice more.”

Before his mother could worry more, his father joined the conversation. “Anyway, your mother wanted to call to tell you that we’re all ready around here, son. So tell us when we can start going to the University, okay?”

Eloy agreed to do so, but warned them that it would still take a while, since he had to stop by his apartment first. His mother had been on the verge of tears when she learned that he didn’t plan to stay with them after coming back from Tokyo. Although to be honest, she didn’t have any reason to complain, since his parents lived rather close to the music academy, so he had lunch with them practically two or three times a week.

When he arrived at the apartment, one of his roommates was there: the one who had barely started his doctoral thesis, and considered Eloy the wise fellow with knowledge of all the in and outs of the PhD. He wished him luck before Eloy went to his room to get ready.

Once his laptop was in his bag, a copy of the presentation in his pendrive, and he had replaced his t-shirt with a shirt - so that his mother didn’t complain much - Eloy finally called his father, saying they could get going to the Faculty of Education, where the defense would take place.

Eloy was crossing the doors of the Faculty when there were only 20 minutes remaining for the thesis to start. He didn’t have any trouble pinpointing Elia and his parents: he could hear his mother despite the few meters that separated them.

“Oh my god, finally!” His mother’s heels resounded on the floor while getting close. “Look, sweetie, I know that you have everything under control, but understand it: your poor mother is reaching an age already and all this stress only shortens my life span.”

“Mom, we still have nineteen minutes. It’s plenty of time.”

“Please, Laura, leave the kid’s collar alone: it’s fine as it is.”

“Eloy, can you tell me where we are exactly? In the Hall of…?”

“Of Degrees, but I hope you don’t post in Instagram–”

“Too late!” Elia snapped a selfie before Eloy could stop her, so he contented himself to narrow his eyes at her. “Oh, come on, not everyday my niichan becomes a doctor.”

Eloy was about to say that he doubted the title would be too useful for his future plans when he noticed Cristina descending the nearest staircase. They exchanged a look but didn’t say anything to each other before the woman quietly entered the room.

In the end, Cara and Elia's hunch had turned out to be right. After asking around, Eloy had learned that Cristina was indeed the one who had directly contacted the scholarship organizers, demanding that the meeting took place on the day of the final challenge.

Eloy had confronted her once he came back, and they had had quite a heated discussion. However, when Eloy declared his intention of asking for a change of thesis tutor, she made him a proposal: she would still be his thesis tutor but would grant him complete freedom to modify the thesis report as he wished, even changing the parts she had corrected.

Though Eloy was tempted to still refuse, he realized that the paperwork involved in requesting a tutor change was exhausting. It would require giving numerous explanations and, most importantly, interacting with Cristina even more. Eventually, they reached that agreement.

At that point Eloy only wanted to close that chapter of his life, so the sooner he did it, the better.

“Pedro, are you sure that I can’t approach her to tell her a couple of things–”


“Ains. Fine.”

Eloy chuckled when hearing his mother's disappointed tone.

"Come on, let's get inside," Eloy looked at Elia then, who was still engrossed with her phone, her expression focused. "Or does the influencer need more time?"

"Nope, the influencer is ready now." She offered Eloy a bright smile and hooked her arm around his. "Come on, future doctor: lead the way."

Eloy rolled his eyes with patience, but he was smiling as he walked towards the room.

* * *

The defense went by without any incidents. Aside from Elia and his parents, only a couple of doctorates assisted, so it was a rather private event, which was exactly what Eloy wanted. Since Eloy got along quite well with all the members of the thesis committee, the questions they posed at the end of his dissertation were rather routine. Cristina also behaved, only exchanging some pleasantries with the committee and remaining silent during the rest of the defense, something that Eloy greatly appreciated.

After only 5 minutes of deliberation the committee announced that his thesis deserved the highest grade. After that, it was traditional to invite the committee and the tutor to a meal, but Eloy made up the excuse that he had work after it, and gave each one a box of chocolates as a compensation.

The only thing Eloy wanted to do after tying up that last loose end was spending time with his family and talking to Genta, that he had been unable to get in touch with throughout the entire day.

“I mean, maybe he’s sleeping already.” Elia suggested, but Eloy sighed with impatience.

“Yes, but he hasn’t been in touch since yesterday. I mean, he told me that his phone seemed to be about to die, but still – oh, wait, he’s video calling me!”

This time he didn’t even bother to put on the headphones before accepting the call.

“Hey! How are you doing, Mr. Doctor?”

A wide smile appeared on Eloy's face when Genta's face appeared on the screen.

“Missing you, but good.” Eloy was about to give more details about the defense when noticing something that made him frown with confusion. “Wait, where are you? That’s not the wall of your room, right?”

“Mm? Oh, wait a minute.” Genta stood up, rapidly turned around, and raised his phone so that it also pointed behind him. “Better?”

It took Eloy a few good seconds to understand what he was seeing.

And when he did, and saw the wide smirk slowly forming in Genta’s face, his eyes opened wide in disbelief.

“No way,” he muttered before rushing out of the room.

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