Volume 5 Chapter 14 Shirogane Aqua, Discovering Atori Ako’s Wish
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
While I was fully enjoying my day off, on the other hand, Toa, Mayuzumi, and Tenga-senpai were at the office. We had received an unexpectedly high number of applications in response to Beryl’s job posting, and we needed help with the document screening process. I offered to help, but for some reason, they turned me down.
”Aqua, you seem like the type to easily fall for scams, so it’s probably better for you not to get involved.”
”This junior of mine has no sense of caution, so this kind of work might not suit you. Leave it to us.”
”Shirogane, taking a break is also part of the job, in my opinion. We’ll handle this.”
Seriously, do they have to be so harsh on me? Especially Toa, who seems to have completely lost any restraint. Anyway, I picked up a nearby document and carefully selected one page from the pile.
”What about this person?”
The applicant was a 32-year-old working at a major trading company, and the text on the document gave the impression of a very serious person. The three of them peered into the document with suspicion.
”…This woman gives off a suspicious vibe. I can see it in her eyes.”
”I can sense it too. She starts out acting kind, but when you let your guard down, she’ll make a move when you’re alone together.”
”Moreover, there’s something off about her work history. We need to check if she’s making false claims.”
Yeah… well, I guess these things happen. I reassured myself that it was just a coincidence, and picked up another stack of documents, carefully selecting a precious gem from it.
”Then how about this one!”
The next applicant was a 29-year-old woman working at a major advertising agency. The three of them looked into the document with skeptical eyes.
”No, this one is even worse. Her pupils are unnaturally dilated; it’s obviously shady.”
”Junior… some things are just not suitable for certain people. Leave this to us, okay?”
”I felt like I’ve seen her face somewhere before, so I looked her up, and it turns out she was arrested for attempting to kidnap a man in the past.”
Ugh… I slumped my shoulders in disappointment.
”You know, I’m starting to worry about you, Aqua.”
”Yes, let’s hope this junior of mine doesn’t get deceived by weird women…”
”Shirogane, don’t stray too far away from me at school.”
I’ll never forget the way they looked at me back then. Thanks to them, I was able to have a proper and refreshing holiday with my family.
When I visited the office to bring them some souvenir hot spring buns, they all looked exhausted, so it must have been quite tough. Maybe from now on, I should help out properly? I want to believe that it was just because I was tired that I ended up with strange applicants at that time.
With that in mind, I, along with Ako-san, boarded a van driven by the staff responsible for today’s event and headed to a certain location in Tokyo.
”We’ll be arriving soon, so please get ready to disembark. We’ll use the back entrance.”
I pull my hoodie over my eyes, just in case.
As an idol, participating in the Idol Festival was something that wasn’t originally on my agenda. All the performance slots were filled by April, but one group had to suspend their activities due to several scandals.
Apparently, it started with a 14-year-old member throwing used underwear into a man’s house late at night. Then, a 16-year-old member intentionally bumped her chest into a man during a chance encounter, causing a string of “accidental” breast-touching incidents. And the youngest, a 12-year-old member, tried to make an acquaintance drink a beverage she had put her own urine into. Such incidents kept coming one after another. It seems that the tipping point was when three members aged 18 to 24 committed a s*xual assault against a man.
They reportedly lured men in their 40s and 50s into the dressing room or restroom during a shopping mall event and s*xually assaulted them… Isn’t that the other way around? I was probably the only one who thought that. Because of this news, Skit’s Sato Anna was furious.
By the way, despite all these incidents, the three girls involved in the r*pe assault and the others involved in the scandals were still appearing on TV, and they were cute… Though I guess I’m just weird. As I was lost in my thoughts, the van we were in came to a stop. We had probably arrived at our destination.
Ako-san and I got out of the car and were guided by the waiting staff through the material delivery route to the waiting room. It seemed that they had already cleared the way, as there were hardly any people passing by.
”This is Shirogane-sama’s waiting room. The management staff will be coming for a meeting soon, so please wait for a while.”
As I opened the door to the waiting room, I saw a familiar face sitting in a chair, stroking his proud beard.
”You’re late. I’ve been waiting.”
It was Moja-san, also known as the music producer for idol Shirogane Aqua. He had also helped me at the Beryl stage during the Summer Comic Market. This time, he was lending a hand with the composition of the songs.
After having a final check meeting with the festival staff, I changed into my costume and had my makeup and hair done. By the way, the art direction and costumes for today’s stage were handled by John, the designer of Corolle.
I glanced at the TV in the waiting room and saw Ayana singing on stage. Ayana was hardworking, and her singing and dancing skills were top-notch. Her unwavering dedication to her work was inspiring as a fellow professional. I felt fired up to give my best on stage as well.
”You should be going soon.”
Ako-san checked the time and looked nervous. I stood up from my seat and stood in front of her.
When I first met Ako-san, I never imagined things would turn out like this. It was thanks to meeting her at the part-time café, and her approaching me during Mori’s photoshoot, that I was able to stand here today.
”Ako-san, thank you for bringing me this far. You say it was just by chance, but it was because you approached me back then that I’m standing here today as Aqua-kun, the idol. So, please watch my performance today. No, not just today, but from now on and always, please watch over Idol Shirogane Aqua.”
After experiencing the stage at the Summer Comic Market, I realized how much support I had from many people. But the one who created that opportunity for me was Ako-san, who approached me and gave me the chance to fulfill my dream of becoming an idol. I wondered what I could give in return to Ako-san, who made my dream come true.
”Ako-san made a promise and made me into an idol. Now it’s my turn to give back. When Idol Shirogane Aqua makes someone happy, could you be there to witness that moment, closer than anyone else?”
Ako-san’s eyes welled up with tears as she gently wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. Then she slowly opened her lips.
”Aqua-kun… You said you wanted to make someone smile through being an idol, right?”
I nodded silently.
”Aqua-kun, I… Atori Ako, want to make Idol Shirogane Aqua the number one idol. Because being able to see such a wonderful view from the best seat is just amazing. But don’t you want to see it from an even better vantage point? I saw you working hard towards your goal, and I thought that there is meaning in aiming for the top, regardless of being the number one or number two. Hey, Aqua-kun, if you want to make your very first fan, which is me, smile, could you become the number one idol in this country? No, in this world. No, in this universe. That’s my, no, Atori Ako’s one and only wish.”
Ako-san reaches out her hand towards me. I take Ako-san’s hand and tightly grip it with both of my hands.
”I promise, Ako-san. If granting your wish makes you smile, I will definitely make it come true.”
”Hehe, thank you, Aqua-kun.”
As I look into Ako-san’s eyes, I hear a deliberate cough from behind us. I turn my face towards the sound, and Moja-san stands up, scratching his head.
”Hey, wait a minute. Sorry for being a party pooper, but don’t forget I’m here too.”
Moja-san places his palm on top of our joined hands.
”And besides, aren’t there others who couldn’t make it today? This is for them.”
Moja-san adds his other hand on top. This is probably for Toa, Mayuzumi, and Tenga-senpai, who couldn’t make it today.
Once again, we exchange glances, and Ako-san speaks on behalf of all three of them.
”We’ll definitely make today’s stage a success!”
With renewed determination, we head out from the waiting room towards the backstage of the stage. Perhaps they wanted to minimize the number of people who knew about this, as some of the staff we passed by had surprised expressions on their faces.
”The stage is ready to go. You can start whenever you’re ready.”
I pick up the microphone and practice my vocals briefly. The first song I’ll be singing is the one composed by Toa, HOT! HOT! HOT! OVERLimit.
The outfit under my hoodie peeks out, and a female staff member faints at the sight. The clothing designed by John is very showy, and I feel a little embarrassed wearing it. It’s summer, but having no fabric on the sides of my waist and inner thighs feels a bit much. It seems that even Ako-san can’t help but avert her gaze.
”Y-Yeah, do your best!”
Unable to stand it any longer, I quickly greet Ako-san and Moja-san and head towards the stage wings. I sneak a peek outside through the gaps in the panels and see that the audience is sparse. I guess it’s because it wasn’t announced who the secret guest would be, so people probably didn’t know who to expect.
Moreover, this is the substage, and most of the audience must be heading to the main stage. That’s why I feel even more fired up. Just because I’m on the substage doesn’t mean I’m going to lose to the main stage. I will capture the hearts of the audience with the best stage performance to make Ako-san smile. That’s why I chose this song first.
I direct my gaze to a nearby staff member.
”Here I go!”
As I give the signal, the intro of the song starts playing on the stage. Now, this is my moment as idol Shirogane Aqua. My heart is already prepared. I take the first step from the stage wings onto the stage itself.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
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