Volume 10 Chapter 33 Nekoyama Subaru, Aqua-Oniisan’s Work
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
December 24, 0:05, outside Tokyo Station, it was still cold, with breath turning white. The first mission assigned to us, who participated in the audition training camp, was to observe Beryl’s Christmas festival from behind the scenes.
”Aqua-san’s livestream just ended!”
One of Beryl’s managers, Kai Aika, arrived at the scene out of breath.
And upon receiving the report that the livestream had ended successfully, cheers and applause erupted from the venue.
By the way, although the livestream is still ongoing on the monitors at the venue, that’s because they are conducting a delayed broadcast.
This is a measure taken by the management to forcibly stop the livestream in case something happens, so the time we see on the screen is about 10 minutes delayed from real-time.
”Understood! Close the road immediately!!”
”There was a time when we didn’t know how it would turn out, but it looks like we can make it!”
”Everyone, we don’t have much time. Let’s be careful and do our best to avoid getting injured.”
”Thank you, Kai-san. Come over here because there’s something I want to discuss right away!”
”Everyone, until 4 o’clock, okay? We can’t extend it any longer, so keep that in mind!”
”Teams 1 to 3 will block off the Chidorigafuchi side, teams 4 to 6 will block off the Nihonbashi direction, and teams 7 to 9…”
”Manager Hanabusa said she’s going there first, so make sure to contact Team B in the St. Mary Hospital Cathedral too!”
”Everyone! This is the final rehearsal for the main event, so if there’s anything bothering you, don’t hesitate to speak up!”
”Hakuryuu-sensei! Can I confirm something with you about the Night Parade script?”
”Hey, where’s Director Hongou?”
”Director Hongou and Nobu-san went to check St. Mary Hospital first!”
”Moja-san went with them to check over there too!”
”I’ll go and check how Team C’s Tokyo International Forum is going! Could someone confirm the progress?”
”Oh, I’ll go in that direction, so I’ll check it out while I’m at it.”
”Stylist team, gather over here! Let’s go over the rotation for the actual performance!”
”Security team, the cast members will be entering in about 5 minutes! Please be prepared and move accordingly as if it were the real thing!”
A large number of people were bustling in front of us.
Just by watching that, we were overwhelmed by the situation in front of our eyes.
I felt embarrassed about thinking I knew about it from seeing behind-the-scenes footage on TV.
Maybe it’s because it’s Beryl, but the sheer number of people involved and the scale of it all made my feet feel weak.
”It’s not normal to close off everything from Tokyo Station to Ginza, is it…”
Nanase Nino from Team B, who was next to me, opened her eyes wide and looked around anxiously.
I also agree with her completely. It’s impossible for a famous singer or celebrity from States or Stars to come to Japan on such a scale.
”Amazing. It’s thrilling to see a scale that exceeds what I imagined.”
Amamiya Kotori, the captain of Team B, sparkles with big sparkling eyes. It’s no wonder Aqua trusted her as the captain. She doesn’t seem to be moved at all in this situation, rather, I felt an exciting atmosphere.
”Hmm. As expected of Beryl. The scale is definitely different.”
Kirihara Karen, from Team B, gazes ahead with a tense expression. Perhaps she feels the pressure because she understands the magnitude of things. She might be the most similar type to me among Team B.
”This is what it means to do it in Beryl.”
Team B, audition members turn their gaze to the words of Ace Sumeragi Kukuri.
”If you lack confidence, it’s okay to quit. It’s natural for ordinary people to feel weak at the knees, and no one will criticize you.”
Sumeragi Kukuri is one year older than me and one year younger than my brother (onii), yet she appears as composed as the adults. Perhaps it’s because she holds the position of the top of the six noble families at this age.
”Surprising, isn’t it?”
In response to Kirihara’s words, Kukuri shows a slightly displeased expression. I thought this person really doesn’t intend to pretend in front of anyone other than Aqua-oniisan. By the way, the audition members have already noticed this in the past few hours.
”I thought Kukuri-dono wasn’t very interested in others.”
It’s true that it’s okay to quit when you think about it. I thought that the statement that no one would criticize was a way of showing concern for us. If Kukuri-san really has no interest in others, there’s no need to say such things.
When you write it down, it may sound provocative, but there was no hint of that in her expression and intonation earlier.
”…Hmph, thanks to watching the stream earlier, it seems like some idiot’s kindness rubbed off on me a little.”
Some idiot… I wonder who she’s referring to. When Kukuri-san said “idiot,” a soft, natural expression briefly appeared on her face. So I think they’re someone Kukuri-san is familiar with.
”And… as expected of Aqua-sama. Amamiya Kotori, you understand.”
Amamiya-san pointed at her own face and showed a bewildered expression.
I didn’t expect her to be praised, and I don’t even understand the meaning of being praised, so I’m confused, I think.
”At the very least, you understand the essence of this audition and what is required. It seems that the captain of Team C understands it too, but they seem to be collapsing on their own, and as long as Misono remains the captain of Team A with her current mindset, they won’t win. By the way, Team D is out of the question.”
Kukuri-san briefly looked at me and smiled.
I was annoyed by this, but I can’t say anything because I also feel like Team D can’t win against the other three teams as it is now. Besides, I thought this might be Kukuri-san’s kindness.
If you take it in a normal way, it might sound like provocation, but from Kukuri-san’s perspective, there’s no need to point out what our team is lacking.
”I’ll give one more hint to everyone here out of kindness. Aqua-sama didn’t just randomly assign these teams. Until you understand both the audition and Aqua-sama’s intention, it won’t work.”
As Kukuri-san spread her arms, she showed an exaggerated expression as if teasing. Since I already knew what kind of character she was, I deliberately looked at the other people.
For example, Fujibayashi Misono-san, the captain of Team A, was trying to hide her expression, but she seemed a bit annoyed. On the contrary, Fi-chan, Her Highness Hermie, and Natsuki Sana-san didn’t seem to care at all. Or rather, they definitely didn’t care. Aren’t their mentalities too strong? It’s enviable.
Team B’s Amamiya-san was bowing her head and apologizing to everyone with a wry smile, while Nanase-san was laughing so hard that she held her stomach. Kirihara-san looked at Kukuri-san and had a slightly sullen expression. Maybe, she doesn’t really like being provoked by others, I think.
The reactions from Team C are also varied. Captain Inori Hisui seemed a bit flustered and looked somewhat unreliable. I wonder if that person is really okay as the captain and center? Lapis-chan was looking down a bit, Tomoe Setsuna-san seemed indifferent, Hoshikawa Mio-san had a cool expression, and Tsushima Kouko-san was challenging Kukuri-san to a smug face-off for some reason. That person is a bit strange, don’t you think? I don’t think it’s the right place to compete with each other like that…
And as for our Team D, Lazuli-san seems uninterested, fiddling with her phone, while Miyako-chan looks flustered with an anxious expression. Kayano Serika-san and Uryuu Anko-san wear troubled, almost fretful looks. Yeah, it’s definitely not ideal.
This can’t continue like this, can it?
I mentioned not wanting to lose to Lapis-chan, but what I really don’t want is for us to drag each other down. We should perform at our best as the best team. And on top of that, I want Aqua-oniisan to choose me.
On the other hand, the two men from Team E couldn’t be more different. Yamada Maruo glances around nervously, while Kokuchō Kujaku calmly observes everything around him. It feels like they could debut just like this. Huh? Could it be that the two men from Team E are the most polished?
”Everyone, even while working, please pay attention here!”
We react to President Atori’s voice.
The staff also glanced in that direction while moving their hands.
”Today is the first and last rehearsal before the main event! It might be tough to do it all at once, but I believe you have prepared for this. So please have confidence in your abilities. And trust and rely on the people around you. Let’s create the best stage together!!”
This is the first and last rehearsal… I guess even if it’s beryl, they can’t restrict traffic for days.
I wonder if Aqua-oniisan is worried, on the other hand? Come to think of it, I remember asking if he’s scared to perform on stage before.
”You’ll understand once you stand on stage. Well, maybe you’ll understand better if you watch from behind Aqua.”
”What’s that about?”
At that moment, my brother laughed mischievously and said it’s a secret.
Wow, he’s still being mean as always! I thought, but could I possibly understand the answer today? Somehow, I had that feeling.
”Nekoyama Toa-san, Tenga Akira-san, Mayuzumi Shintaro-san, you may enter!!”
Oh, when I was thinking about him, brother and the others manager came along with them.
Everyone seems less nervous than I expected. Rather, they were talking and laughing about the previous livestream with smiles on their faces.
Because of that, the smiles are overflowing from the staff around them.
”If Kotono and Emily-san didn’t come, it would have been seriously bad.”
”Oh no, you’ve done your job too.”
”Yes, it would have been tough if we had to redo it from scratch there. However, I really think everyone did their best.”
”That’s true. It was thanks to Mayuzumi-san’s persistence and the vigilance and confirmation from the surroundings.”
”Ku, I’m sorry. If only I could be more useful…!”
”Shirogane-kun, it can’t be helped, so don’t feel down, okay?”
Wow. Brother, you look so relaxed as if you were really at home.
Having experienced so many big stages, I thought it made him stronger.
As a family, I’m happy, but I also feel a strong desire to not lose when standing on the same stage.
”Shirogane Aqua-san, you can come in!!”
Ah, it’s Aqua-oniisan.
The moment I thought that, the air around me instantly became tense, to the point where I could feel it on my skin.
Huh? Huh? Why!?
I’m not the only one surprised. Everyone else is too, except for Sumeragi Kukuri-san.
”Nice to meet you today.”
”Likewise, thank you for your help!”
Aqua-oniisan walked towards the area where many staff members were, politely greeting the people around him. His usual gentle and soft expression, but I felt something from Aqua-oniisan that completely changed the atmosphere around him.
”Step-brother, you look cool…!”
Lazuli-san, who was playing with her phone earlier, was staring at Aqua-oniisan with an enraptured expression. He definitely looks cool. But it’s not just that, right? I feel like there should be something else I should be feeling.
At least, everyone else seems to be sensing it. Especially Lapis-chan, who knows Aqua-oniisan well, seems to be disturbed.
Now, a lady runs up to Aqua-oniisan. It’s Mizusumi Ichise, who will be instructing us in our dance at the training camp.
”Sorry, Aqua-kun, there’s one choreography modification I want to make, is that okay?”
”Yeah, Mizumin, where?”
Wow. It’s quite casual for him to call her by a nickname.
Ichise-sensei is flipping through the thick script she had. Aqua-oniisan leans in and peeks into the script.
As always, I feel like Aqua-oniisan has a strange sense of distance with women. Even married couples wouldn’t get that close to each other.
”It’s about here, but you’re going to do this and that before this, right?”
Ichise-sensei puts down the script and casually dances on the spot.
Wow… just by looking at her, I can tell she’s incredibly good at dancing.
Ichise-sensei is not very good at explaining things, or rather, during auditions, she gave very abstract instructions that were difficult to understand. But it seems like she and Aqua-oniisan, who constantly builds abstract buildings during gaming streams, have a similar sense. The conversation seems to flow smoothly.
”So, after doing this, isn’t it a bit strange if we do this? So, I’m thinking of changing it to this…”
”Changing it is good, but if you do it like this, won’t this part become out of sync with the rhythm of the music?”
”Then, how about doing this here? Is it not good?”
”Oh, then! Is it okay like this in this part?”
If I only listen to the voice, it’s completely incomprehensible, but they understood each other and fixed the choreography in an instant.
By the way, Aqua-oniisan, did you already memorize the corrected choreography in that instant? You’re amazing….
I was surprised when someone from the staff called out to us while I was looking at him.
”I need about four people to help. Is that okay?”
”Well then, Subaru-chan will be in Toa-chan’s position, Kujaku-kun will be in Tenga-senpai’s position, and Kirihara Karen-chan, who is tall, will be in Shintaro-kun’s position. And as for Aqua-kun’s position… let’s go with Yamada Maruo-kun. The four of them, come over here.”
I was chosen. Well, I thought so since I look just like brother, but I feel a bit sorry for the ones who weren’t chosen. We were led by the staff members and entered the Tokyo International Forum.
When we entered the empty hall, the staff instructed us to stand on the stage.
Amazing… Aqua-oniisan and brother are singing here.
This place can hold about 5,000 people, so it’s about one-tenth the size of a dome, but it’s still incredible.
The view from the stage looks much wider and gives me goosebumps compared to the view from the audience seats.
”Ah, Director Hongou”
Heaven’s Sword Director Hongou enters while chatting with Hakuryuu-sensei, who is writing No-Rin. I wonder what they’re talking about. It seems like they’re having a lot of fun.
”What about the positions of the four people?”
”That’s the last scene, right?”
Director Hongou tilts her head slightly and shows a thoughtful gesture.
”Hmm… is Yamada-kun in charge of Aqua-kun?”
Yamada Maruo-san responds with a lively voice. I felt like his voice was a bit strained, maybe because he’s a little nervous.
”Yamada-kun, can you come forward a bit more? Aqua-kun likes to come forward when he’s in the groove.”
”Oh, I might understand…”
Director Hongou and Hakuryuu-sensei exchange glances and smile wryly.
”On top of that, Subaru-chan should widen the distance with Kirihara-san and Kokucho-kun by about three steps. Yeah, something like that. Sorry, but please adjust the positions of the other three, Aqua-kun will come forward on his own so you don’t need to fix it.”
”Thank you for cooperating with the auditions.”
””””No, thank you very much!””””
I think I was able to have a valuable experience. I feel sorry for the other members.
”Since we’re here, it would be nice if everyone could watch from behind. I think all four of them will come at some point.”
As Director Hongou said, Aqua-oniisan and the others came with the staff and audition members. Oh, wait, now that I look closely, Tsukimachi Ayana-san and Kohina Yukari-san are here too.
The audition members were seated in chairs inside the hall, along with some staff and Ako-san.
”Everyone, we’re ready to start rehearsal soon! Let’s cherish each and every moment, as we can’t redo it too many times!”
Ako-san’s voice echoed, and the staff members in the backstage area took their positions all at once. The previously bustling atmosphere suddenly became quiet, as if everyone had forgotten how to breathe. Aqua-oniisan lightly touched the other members before stepping onto the stage and taking his designated spot.
”Rehearsal starts in 10 seconds! We’ll begin from the song before the concert ends!”
I watched Aqua-oniisan’s back from the gap between the stage wings. He is bigger than me, but what stood out even more was how broad his back appeared. At first, I thought it was just my imagination or that he might be tired, but his dependable back made my heart feel at ease.
’When you stand on the stage, you’ll understand. No, you might understand better watching from behind Aqua.’
Ah… I remembered the words that brother said back then.
I see, brother always sings while looking at this big back.
”5, 4, 3… Start!”
An unknown up-tempo song starts playing in the venue. What song could it be?
No, this feeling… Could it be “Driver”?
Aqua-oniisan glanced at us who were behind the scenes and showed a smirk.
I think there was no plan to sing originally.
Nevertheless, we started singing with a dance, aiming to be an example for the audition members.
Brother, Tenga-senpai, and Mayuzumi-san, understanding that intention, also followed along.
Yamada-san, who was next to me, had eyes sparkling like a child’s. Everyone is amazing. Everyone is amazing, but among them, Shirogane Aqua, no, Idol Shirogane Aqua, was outstanding.
Even though the intercom was turned off, his loud voice, which seemed to reach the far end of the venue, and his intense dance, almost like a performance, didn’t waver in pitch or volume at all. Even though I should have known from the World Soccer Championship, I was overwhelmed by his singing ability that surpassed the level of an idol and a dance that was on par with top-notch dancers.
How much effort must have been put in to become like this? Can someone like me catch up even if I work hard? Surely not just me, but other participants might be thinking the same, don’t you think?
Somehow, Kohina Yukari-san, who was sitting in the audience, had a smug expression as if to say, “I raised him, you know,” and that bothered me, but Aqua’s singing has been amazing from the beginning, right?
”Subaru-dono, your brother is amazing.”
”Huh, ah, yes. Thank you very much.”
Kirihara-san, who was next to me, murmured while staring at the stage in front of us.
”If he was my brother, my heart might be broken. Aqua-sama is overwhelmingly impressive too. But not just them, all the boys standing on this stage are desperately clinging to Aqua-sama, making sure he doesn’t become an isolated king. Moreover…”
Kirihara-san turned her gaze towards Yamada-san.
Yamada-san’s eyes are the same as my brother. If someone is as serious as him, it’s easy to tell he’s aiming for that place.
”My mom and Driver taught me that boys are something that must be protected. But… that’s not true. Just because they’re boys, it doesn’t mean they receive preferential treatment or are indulged. Just knowing that makes me glad that I came here.”
Yeah, I can understand that too, as someone who’s been watching brother’s hard work up close. People like the men of Beryl and Yamada-san, who are aiming for that place, are undoubtedly serious about it.
”Ah, so this is Aqua-sama’s intention and the meaning of the audition… I see. I kind of understand what Kukuri-dono was saying.”
I nod slightly at Kirihara-san’s words.
Surely, there isn’t just one answer to this. Everyone here has different answers, and there shouldn’t be just one correct answer. And in order for the audition members to realize that, the people of Beryl and Aqua-oniisan have scattered hints.
I smiled as I realized it early on, luckily. I must have been more nervous than I thought. Just like my brother, “When you get too worked up, you can’t see what’s around you.” So, Aqua-oniisan noticed it right away because I’m just like my brother.
Hehe, I wonder what all the girls in the world would think if they knew? Because, it’s not just a little, but really envy-worthy that Aqua-oniisan understands my brother so well.
”Once again, I’m Kirihara Karen from Team B, a second-year student from Mary High School. Nice to meet you.”
”I’m Nekoyama Subaru from Team D, a second-year student from St. Claris Middle School. Nice to meet you.”
Karen-san and I shook hands with smiles on our faces.
”Mary and Claris… it’s fate again. Let’s mutually improve each other honorably.”
After finishing the performance, Aqua-oniisan addressed the audience just like during the actual event.
Then, following that, my brother, Tenga-senpai, and Mayuzumi-san raised their voices. And in the next moment, the four of them jumped off the stage and dashed through the audience seats in one go. The rehearsal would continue until four in the morning.
It’s already amazing at this point, but Aqua-oniisan took a nap and then appeared on the morning program. I can’t help but be amazed. Yeah, if it were Aqua-oniisan, even if he were born as a girl, he would definitely become an idol and conquer the world.
After all, all the girls from St. Claris and Mary, put the photo of Aqua-onii-san dressed as a woman at the school festival in their student notebooks and adore her as their big sister. Maybe even Kirihara-san… Yeah, it’s probably not true. It’s not, right? While thinking about such things, I took a nap in the place prepared by the staff.
You might already know without me saying it, but the idiot Kukuri-sama is referring to Hagetoru. Somehow, Kukuri-sama is influenced quite a bit by Hagetoru, or rather Emily, who is part of the Holy Aqua Religion.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.