Volume 8 Chapter 1 Shirogane Aqua, Our Runway
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
”Well then, I’m heading out, Kanon. See you later.”
After giving Kanon a light kiss, I left her in the room. The emotions I felt when I woke up with Kanon in my arms this morning are probably something I won’t forget for the rest of my life. As I was thinking about this, Pegonia-san, with a smirk that seemed perfectly timed, or rather, aimed right at me, walked up in front of me.
”Last night was enjoyable, wasn’t it?”
”I thought you’d say that…”
Why is Pegonia-san so gleeful about this… And, please stop making those ring shapes with your fingers, inserting and pulling out your index finger! Pegonia-san is a grown woman, so take better care of yourself!
”I’ll make sure Kanon can walk by the runway, so leave the rest to me.”
”Ah… sure, thank you.”
Huh…? How does Pegonia-san know that Kanon can’t walk? Wait, could she have been watching from somewhere… No, no, no, that can’t be right. I mean, it’s just impossible, right? Pegonia-san chuckles, “Hehehehe,” at my reaction. Wait… isn’t this person surprisingly emotionally expressive? It feels like Pegonia-san’s true nature is gradually coming to light.
After parting ways with Pegonia-san, I got into the prepared car and headed to the venue where Corolle Homme is holding its runway show at the Stars Collection. The Stars Collection is considered one of the world’s top three fashion shows, where each brand presents the concepts for the products they’ll release in the spring and summer of the coming year.
I’m scheduled to participate in this show as Corolle Homme’s exclusive model. Other than me, the show’s models include Toa, Shintaro, Tenga-senpai, and the designer, John, from Corolle Homme, along with one male model from Stars and two female models from Stars, including Kuga Reira-san, who co-starred with me in a commercial, dressed as a male models.
I express my gratitude to the driver and enter the venue through the staff entrance. There, I see someone familiar standing in front of me.
”Long time no see, Reira-san.”
Kuga Reira is an internationally acclaimed actress. She made her film debut at the age of 16 and won both the Best New Actress and Best Supporting Actress awards that year, instantly catapulting her to top-star status. However, at that time, she admired Yukishiro Mikuni-san, who co-starred with her and won the Best Actress award, and immediately followed her to States.
In addition to films and dramas, she’s highly regarded as a musical actress overseas. Reira-san is a half-Japanese and half-American, with distinct oriental features. She’s a slender type with long, wavy hair that’s very attractive. By the way, in a commercial, she played a woman who got deceived by me, playing the role of a marriage scammer, but if anyone would get deceived, it would probably be me. Well, I have Kanon now, so it doesn’t matter!!
”Aqua-kun, congratulations on your marriage?”
”Don’t make it sound like a question, give a proper congratulations!”
Just like Mishu-san (Yukishiro Mikuni) was quite fluffy, Reira-san seems to be quite a carefree person. If I remember correctly, she’s around 27 years old now… an 11-year senior in the industry. But for some reason, this senior is staring at me up close with an intense look. Wait, do I have something on my face?
”Aqua-kun, you know, you resemble a young Mishu-sama… I wonder if I could marry Aqua-kun? Hey, why not try ‘holding’ me as well?”
”Wait, wait, senpai, I’m a newlywed, you know!? Don’t tease me, seriously!”
This person just suddenly says the most outrageous things.
What if someone is listening? Shirogane Aqua, cheated with a famous actress on the day after his marriage! If a headline like “Former Princess of Stars Left in Tears” is published, I’ll definitely be killed by the people from Stars.
”It’s not like I’m teasing you… But you know, Mishu-sama won’t make a baby with me.”
I push Reira-san’s muttering back and head towards the waiting room where everyone is waiting. It’s dangerous to be alone with her here. Who knows what she might start saying.
”Good morning? Good afternoon? Good evening?”
As we enter the venue, we greet the staff.
”Oh, Aqua! And Reira-san, long time no see.”
Toa notices my presence first and approaches us. Shintaro, Tenga-senpai, John, Chris, and the two female models from Stars also exchange greetings with us. It’s heartwarming to see everyone blessing my marriage once again.
As we chat, I sense someone’s presence coming from the entrance through which Reira-san and I had entered.
’Oh… Did I maybe, you know, arrive late?’
His voice is gentle, but there’s no doubt it’s a male voice. I turn to where the voice came from.
’It’s not like that, Charlie. Everyone just arrived too early.’
John hugs the man he called Charlie and exchanges greetings. Charlie wears a black hoodie over his head, sunglasses covering his eyes, and a mask concealing his mouth. At first glance, he might look like a suspicious person, but it’s not an uncommon fashion for celebrities. Although, when someone actually wear such fashion, it’s like openly announcing that they’re related to something secretive.
John and Charlie approach me together.
’Aqua, let me introduce you. He’s Charles Henderson, the other exclusive male model for Corolle Homme. He hasn’t debuted yet, but get along with him if you can.”
He seems a bit shorter than me as he gets closer, maybe around 175 cm ( 5.74ft) tall. Judging from his voice, he’s young… around the same age as me or maybe even younger.
’Here, Charlie. Weren’t you wanting to meet Aqua? Don’t you have anything to say?’
Charlie pulls down his hoodie, removing his sunglasses and mask.
Oh…! His blond hair has a lovely loose perm, his eyes are a clear blue, and his face is handsome, but more on the cute side. Even compared to us high schoolers, he has a youthful aura.
’N-nice to meet you, Aqua-san, everyone from Beryl. My name is Charles Henderson. You can call me Charlie. Nice to meet you.’
Oh, wow! Even though it’s broken japanese, he’s trying to speak our country’s language. We exchange surprised glances.
’Nice to meet you, Charlie. My name is Shirogane Aqua. If there are any difficult words, you can use the language of this country.’
’Th-thank you very much.’
I shake hands with Charlie. As he’s looking at me a bit shyly, John comes to the rescue.
’Charlie is only 14 years old, but he’s very talented. He’s good at studying and his athletic abilities are also good.’
’Oh, that’s amazing, Charlie. I like sports too, so let’s do some sports together sometime!’
I say that, and Charlie nods.
’I… I don’t hate studying or sports, but they’ve always been boring for me. But… when I watched Aqua-san’s live performance video and thought it looked fun, and actually watching it was fun… I thought maybe it would be fun if I did the same thing as Aqua-san.’
Wow, wowww… Oh man, this is amazing! I never thought someone would watch me and want to become an idol because of it! And it’s a boy from Stars, from overseas!
Sure, it was really heartwarming when Toa, Shintaro, and Tenga-senpai appeared in dramas and performed with me, but this is a different kind of happiness welling up inside me.
’So, I applied to Corolle Homme myself… ah.’
I hug Charlie. Thank you, thank you.
’I’m so happy, Charlie! Let’s work together a lot from now on. How about even doing a joint live show?’
’Y-yeah, thanks, Aqua-san.’
’And you can just call me Aqua.’
’S-Still, Aqua-san is my senior, and I kind of like using that honorific in your language.’
Oh my goodness, what a timid guy!! Charlie is so cute, and he’s my junior, my first junior… Oh, I totally get how Tenga-senpai feels. Hey, can I take this kid, Beryl, home with me? Toa shoots me a piercing glare as I get excited.
”What is it, Reira-san?”
Reira-san, who was next to me, lightly taps my arm.
”You don’t seem to have noticed, but this kid is a newcomer actor who’s going to co-star with you in Stars War.”
”Huh!? W-Why didn’t Reira-san mention this earlier…”
Reira-san’s eyes narrow just like Toa’s.
”…Could it be that you didn’t know I’m the main cast?”
”…This is news to me.”
Wait, hold on, I seriously didn’t know… Oh, right, now that I think about it, Ako-san did mention it before… I remember I was half-asleep and kind of dozing off at that time. They rescheduled the filming of Stars War to start during spring break, so I figured I would double-check right before going to the set. There’s still time.
”Aqua… I’m also going to voice Oumi Tama, but you did know about that, right?”
”I’m really sorry.”
Yeah, that’s what happened. Oh, I see. This was entirely my fault for not paying enough attention. So, Toa-san, please forgive me…
’Now that everyone’s here, can I say a few words?’
The air around us gets tense at John’s words.
’Today’s show is special. We’ve gathered the best cast, and I’m satisfied with my work. So, I really want to make today a success. I need everyone’s help for that.’
Everyone nods at John’s words. Reira-san, who was by my side, switches into work mode after John’s words. Just like Kohina-senpai and Mishu-san, those who are considered top-notch can change the atmosphere around them during the performance. I feel the same kind of aura from Charlie on the opposite side. I don’t know about his acting skills, but he definitely carries his own atmosphere.
With the attention from both of them, my switch turns on. I can’t afford to lose. Charlie might be an unknown, but at least Reira-san is the real deal. I know that from having worked with her once. Just like with Kohina-senpai, working with skilled professionals is fun. It’s more exciting than anything else. We all form a circle, and the determination to do this together fills the air.
After that, we have a meeting, a rehearsal, and then a break before the show finally begins.
’You’re up first, Aqua. Can you do it?’
’Of course. John, leave it to me.’
In the runway, each of us will wear two sets of clothes. However, both Reira-san and I will wear three sets. The order goes: me, Reira-san, Tenga-senpai, Toa, Shintaro, the two female actresses, John, Chris, Charlie, Reira-san, me, Toa, Shintaro, Tenga-senpai, the two female actresses, John, Chris, Reira-san, Charlie, and finally me. We’ll all join in for the finale.
As we move from backstage to the runway corridor, the media people are waiting. During the waiting time, the show’s models take photos and communicate with the media people here. Morikawa-san is one of them.
”How about your second runway? Not nervous?”
”I’m a bit nervous. But more than that, I’m excited, so I’ll enjoy it.”
As I chat with Morikawa-san, Reira-san, who’s ready, stands behind me.
”Do your best as the opening act.”
When I turn around, Reira-san is wearing a simple monochrome outfit with a silk hat. She usually acts a bit ditzy, but she looks incredibly cool in this outfit… I never expected this.
”I’ll warm up the audience. So, I’m counting on you for the next one.”
”Hehe… sure thing.”
It’s almost time… When I look around, everyone who’s ready stands nervously. Among them, the Beryl members seem especially tense. Even though they’ve gotten used to performing live, the runway carries a different kind of nervousness. It can’t be helped.
”Toa, Shintaro, Tenga-senpai.”
I call out to the three of them. They all turn towards me, so I face forward and tap my thumb against my back. When you’re feeling down, just look at my back; those were the words I said during the live performance. So, even without saying it again, these gestures should make them understand the message I’m sending.
”You’re still too cool, aren’t you?”
I mutter something under my breath to Morikawa-san and point my thumb at her, exchanging a signal that says ‘I’m going now.’ The intro music starts playing from the venue. I let out a light exhale and step onto the runway from the corridor.
Today, of course, Ako-san, my family, and Kanon are all sitting in the front row. So, I can’t afford to show a shy walk. The theme of this runway is borders, the concept of boundaries. The line between men and women, boys and young men. I purposely stick to my usual style, or rather, the same walk I did in the previous runway. It’s a way to show that I’m continuing from the last runway. I strike a pose in the middle of the stage and turn, meeting eyes with Reira-san who just came out from where I started. As I pass Reira-san, we lightly press the palms of our right hands together, then I head to the opposite side of the runway.
I briefly catch eyes with Tenga-senpai, who came out from the corridor, but I feel like he’s telling me to leave it to him.
”Shirogane-san, over here, quickly!”
I hurry to change into the next outfit. Although I want to watch everyone’s runway, I don’t have that luxury. After changing into the clothes in the men’s dressing room, I head outside. Right in front of me, Reira-san has lifted her shirt, exposing her bare breasts… Oh, well, it’s not unusual at a fashion show, but was it really okay for me to see this? I feel a bit guilty towards Reira-san and Kanon… Well, this is beyond my control and can’t be helped. I’ll secretly keep the image of that appealing underboob to lower abdomen line and her beautiful navel in my mind.
”Aqua-kun, if you want to see, you can. It’s not like it’s diminishing, and I’m not embarrassed to show off my body like this.”
”I’m really sorry.”
But please don’t act all bold in just your underwear. I help Reira-san change, for my sake as well, and we head back to the corridor together. At that moment, it’s Charlie’s turn on the runway. As Charlie walks, the audience lets out a murmur. Maintaining some of his boyishness, or rather, his inherent fragility, but mixed with a slight touch of masculinity. Charlie brings out the s*xiness that only a boy can emit. It’s amazing… I knew he had an atmosphere, but he also has a charm that compensates for his lack of walking skills. I thought this kid has the talent to become a star.
”Well, now it’s my turn.”
”Yes, leave the back to me!”
Reira-san is flawless in everything, from creating her image to walking. The two actresses who joined from the Stars side are amazing as well, but Reira-san is on a whole different level. I step onto the stage from the corridor when Reira-san is about to turn. This time, it’s a different atmosphere, bringing out the charm of both a boy and a young man, the boundary between the two. After striking a pose and turning, I meet eyes with Toa, just as I did earlier, and as before, we press our palms together and pass each other.
Yeah… she’s topless, isn’t she? This time, Reira-san’s well-shaped breasts are fully exposed. Sorry, Kanon, but this is work! Yeah, it’s work, so there’s no other way about it!!
”One more time for me and Aqua-kun, right?”
”Yes, let’s give each other the best walk until the end.”
Reira-san smiles at my words.
”You really has a lot in common with Mishu-sama. I love that…”
”Yeah, yeah, that means you like Mishu-sama, right? I get it.”
Huh? Why is she making a ‘how did you know?’ face? Anyone would figure it out if you say something like that! Reira-san and I finish preparing and head towards Charlie. The last order is Reira-san, Charlie, and then me. Charlie seems focused, so I don’t talk to him and just line up. I catch Morikawa-san’s eyes by chance and wave with a smile.
There’s something about looking at Morikawa-san’s face that naturally relaxes me. It’s like a momentary reset, allowing me to immerse myself in the work with a fresh state of mind. Especially during times like this when we need to meticulously recreate the atmosphere, it’s truly appreciated.
Charlie strikes a pose in the middle of the stage and turns around. I step onto the stage in response. The last thing I’ll show is breaking away from the boy and embracing the charm of an adult man… In the previous show, I was stretching myself, but this is different. So, I deliberately begin with the same walk as last time. Look, everyone. This is the interpretation of the true theme that John wanted to convey, the view beyond the border, beyond the boundary. I meet eyes with Charlie as he walks towards me. Ah… I felt in that instant that this was not good. He seemed focused backstage, but perhaps he got too absorbed. His concentration broke, and he looked at me with a vacant expression. At the moment Charlie’s footing wavered, I took his hand and pulled him towards me.
At the very end, the show might have failed, but I made the decision that it would be worse if Charlie fell from the stage. I messed up… I thought that, but everyone gave their all, and I have no regrets. When I look towards the audience, everyone is standing up from their seats and applauding.
’My, my heart…!’
’You, you should go to the hospital!!’
’Seeing Shirogane-sama who has become an adult and Charlie the boy, my heart was racing!’
’I see, the boundary… this is profound.’
’Shirogane Aqua, are you going to go further than this?’
’Everyone was wonderful, but the last Shirogane Aqua was truly outstanding.’
’From prince to king, emperor… the world might soon be all about Shirogane Aqua, or not.’
Huh? I don’t know why, but the audience is incredibly excited. I realize that everyone is lined up behind me. It’s the finale. Alright, with this flow, I have to wrap it up!
’Charlie, are you okay? Wave to the audience around you.’
’Y-Yeah… thank you for helping me, Aqua-san.’
We wave to the audience. Was that final part also considered part of the performance? Well, if the show didn’t end in failure, then it’s all good… John was also extremely happy, so at least there’s that. On the other hand, Charlie was really down.
’Aqua-san… I’ll work harder, so please wait for me.’
’Yeah, I’m looking forward to meeting you on the next set. Charlie.’
Looking at Charlie’s face, I thought he didn’t need comforting. This frustration will surely help him grow. The next time we meet will probably be just before spring… I can’t afford to lose either.
’Thanks, Aqua. The show was a huge success thanks to you!’
’This is the result of John’s hard work. I just helped a little.’
I exchange a warm embrace with John. With this, I’ll be parting ways with John for a while. It’s sad, but it doesn’t mean we’ll never meet again. I’ll do even better next time. That’s what I promised myself.
’Chris, thanks to you too. You’ve been a great help.’
’Yeah, I wish you and Her Highness Kanon all the best!
I share a similar heartfelt embrace with Chris. Chris is the one who has made everyone’s walking perfect in the last few days.
’Everyone, until we meet again!’
’Let’s meet again!’
’See you all!’
’Thank you for everything, and goodbye!’
We bid farewell to the staff. We need to head to the airport immediately after this. Tomorrow, the stage greeting for the Monday 9 PM show awaits. We’ll arrive early in the morning and head straight to the venue. So, after the show ends, we won’t have the luxury of taking it easy.
”Reira-san, see you.”
”Yeah, I’m looking forward to the day I can work with you again, Aqua-kun. And… your final walk was great.”
”Oh, thank you!”
Oh, ohh, being praised by Reira-san, I’m incredibly happy. Senpai doesn’t really praise me much. She just says it’s only natural that I can do it… but that just fuels my motivation even more. Yeah, thinking about it that way, Senpai must understand me.
I bid farewell to Reira-san and, along with everyone, get into the car prepared for us and head towards the airplane.
”By the way, Kanon, are you okay?”
”I-i-i-it might not be okay.”
Kanon managed to endure the show somehow, but it seems like the painkiller wore off, and her legs were shaking. I thought it would be pitiful for her to appear on TV like this, so I whispered into Kanon’s ear.
”I’m sorry, Kanon. Just leave the rest to me.”
I lift Kanon in a princess carry, and just like when we arrived, we walk on the red carpet towards the chartered plane. Kanon has been flustered all this time, but I think this looks better visually than supporting her with her wobbly legs.
”Shirogane Aqua-san! Can we get a few words from you?”
Morikawa-san, who was among the press, directs a microphone towards me.
”To everyone who came to enjoy the event, wait for us! We’re coming back now!”
I send a gaze towards the cameras and then enter the chartered plane. The journey to STARS, which felt both short and long, has come to an end. Charlie, Reira-san… and even Mishu, when I look at the world, there are amazing people out there. Even within the country, there’s Kohina-senpai, and Tenga-senpai, Shintaro, and Toa are growing at an astonishing pace. I can’t afford to stand still. So, I reaffirm my determination to aim higher and higher.
Alright! Once I’m back, I’ll give my all to my work!
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.