Volume 8 Chapter 44 Mayuzumi Shintaro, Entered a World No One Had Ever Seen Before
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
At first, I couldn’t really understand what was happening right in front of me.
Well, to be exact, I understood it in my head, but maybe it’s better to say that I just couldn’t move in that moment. Anyway, I was struggling to understand what was happening and could only stand there.
In the middle of all this, Toa was the first to take a step forward, quicker than anyone else.
”Everyone! Let’s go with Plan B!”
As Toa started running, President Atori instructed the staff around him. Accidents were common during live performances.
President Atori and the staff had prepared several plans ahead of time, thinking about what to do if something went wrong.
Among them, Plan B was a plan they’d come up with in case Aqua couldn’t make it on time for the start of the live performance.
Thanks to the preparation and rehearsals, the staff, under Ako-san’s guidance, began to move smoothly.
”Aqua-san, let’s just sit down for now.”
Kirika-san, who was nearby, brought over a chair. Tenga-senpai, helping Aqua, seated him in the chair and asked if he was okay. However, I couldn’t take a step forward from there.
This is no different from before!
Even though my dear friend Aqua was suffering, all I could do was stand there and watch.
I felt extremely ashamed of myself and couldn’t forgive myself.
What was the difference between me now and the Mayuzumi Shintaro from before I met Aqua?
”Stylist team, come here! Change of plans!!”
”Moja-san, is the setlist change okay like this?”
”Everyone, stay calm, take it slow!”
”For the lighting change, make some adjustments…”
”Make sure not to mess up the lyrics on the national broadcast’s teleprompter. The song order has changed!”
”Morikawa-san, go back to the backstage area! Someone, explain the situation!!”
”Everyone! While Toa-chan is buying us some time, sort out your thoughts and if you don’t understand something, don’t hesitate to ask those around you!”
My clenched fist’s palm started to ache as my fingernails dug in.
In the case of Plan B, it was my turn to sing next. Tenga-senpai would take a bit longer to prepare, so the order couldn’t be changed.
I had to move, but I still couldn’t take a step forward.
Just like back then…
’You’re Mayuzumi Shintaro-kun, right?’
A voice that seemed to coil around my body like a snake.
At the time, as a kindergartener, I felt fear for the first time in my life.
’W-Wait, Agewa-san. This child doesn’t know about women yet.’
Mother noticed the anomaly immediately and rushed over to me, hugging me tightly to shield me from her.
Kokucho Agewa, despite being only 22 at the time, effectively held the top position within the Kokucho family.
Looking back now, I thought that going against her in any way was a brave act. Mother was desperate to protect me.
’Oh dear, Kiyoko-san. I was just saying hello to Shintaro-kun. After all, Shintaro-kun is a very important boy for us Kokucho, he’s the future of the Kokucho family.’
The Mayuzumi family was one of the lower-ranking families within the Kokucho clan.
But with my birth, the situation changed dramatically.
I didn’t understand anything at the time, but it seemed that the birth of a boy was a big deal among them.
’Shintaro-kun, happy 6th birthday. Here, this is for you.’
When I thanked her, she smiled sweetly and knelt down in front of me, almost as if to show off her ample cleavage.
There was a different scent about this woman, unlike mother. It was sweet and made my head spin, almost making me feel lightheaded.
’Well, well, such a well-behaved child to say thank you properly. Hehe, if you ever have any trouble, you can always come and talk to big sister. Of course, you’re welcome to come and play with me anytime. I have prepared lots of toys for Shintaro-kun.’
I wondered why this person was so kind to me.
I only found out the reason when I grew older.
Kokucho Agewa-san seemed to want to use me as the property of the Kokucho clan.
She didn’t say it directly, but rumors started circulating around me and mother. Shared property, in other words, Agewa-san seemed to want to keep me as a stud, a male prost*tute.
Unspecified se*ual encounters with various women, a life with no freedom, that seemed to be the future I was being offered.
’Shintaro-kun, Kiyoko-san, would you like to study abroad at Stars?’
When I entered junior high, Kuga Rihito-san, who was 23 at the time, came to visit our home.
Kuga-san had been preparing with her childhood friend, Amakusa Shikimi-san, to protect me from the Kokucho family.
It was decided that I would be the first male to apply for a government-led exchange student program, a system initiated by Her Majesty the former Queen Mary, when I entered junior high. Because it was carried out secretly under government supervision without revealing names or backgrounds, it wasn’t widely known even among the people in this country. It was more like an experimental endeavor.
So, after spending three years in junior high at Stars, I ended up attending Otomezaki Academy, where Sumeragi Kukuri-san served as the chairman, thanks to Rihito-san’s proposal that the Sumeragi family could protect me. It was at Otomezaki that I met him.
’Hey, Mayuzumi, I want to become an idol.’
When Aqua first consulted me about lyrics, he said that.
I was surprised not only by the desire to become an idol but even more so by how free he was compared to me. Currently, I’m just on life support, and eventually, I’ll be owned by the Kokucho family, by Kokucho Agewa.
Unlike me, he was shining with hope for tomorrow.
I wasn’t envious. But to say I didn’t feel jealous would be a lie.
Nevertheless, his radiance captivated me.
’These lyrics are pretty good.’
Moja-san, seeing my lyrics for the first time, bluntly praised me.
I still remember how happy I felt to be recognized by an adult.
Fortunately, songwriting suited me.
Perhaps it was because I had always liked reading books.
After all, within books, I could become anyone and be free. Books were my means of escaping reality.
’Shin-chan, I’m so happy that we can talk like this again.’
During junior high, as I entered adolescence and my body became more adult, I began to understand what the relationship between men and women entailed.
Since then, the relationship with my mother, which had been going well until then, became a bit awkward.
Even though I understood in my head that my mother was fine, it wasn’t uncommon for se*ual contact between mothers and sons in the world.
So, I started avoiding mother naturally and turned to reading books.
I also started to study more, I think it was from around that time. Because if I studied, I could stay in my room and avoid facing mother.
’Hehe, it’s like a dream to be able to have a meal with Shin-chan like this again.’
Meeting Aqua made me lift my head from my books. And when I saw mother after a long time with moist eyes, I realized I had done something irreparable.
I wanted to make the girl smile. But what am I doing, I wondered, as I, who had said I would help Aqua make girls smile, got so angry at my own foolishness for making people close to me cry.
Lost time couldn’t be regained. So, from then on, I started facing mother properly. And then, the day that changed me was approaching.
’Back then, unlike now, I was nothing. Yeah, from the beginning, I was nothing. I wondered why I was even alive. Why was I born? I had no hope, no goals. I was just living, just being kept alive. In that dim room all alone, all I thought about was when it would all end.’
When Toa tried to confide in Aqua about his secret, I was shocked by Aqua’s words.
He was just like me…
Having nothing, wondering why he was born, with no hope… yet, without showing any sign of it, she was so radiant. Unlike me, who had given up on my future, and was just drifting with the current. Aqua made me realize that he had the courage to run forward into an unknown future.
Could I become like you if I imitated you? Aqua shattered my shallow, childish thoughts.
’I decided to become an idol in this world, and I decided to take on challenges because you supported me. If you think you can’t do anything, you’re lying. You’re already saving me, Shirogane Aqua, more than you know! Listen, Mayuzumi! If I’m your hero, then you’re my hero!!’
That’s why those words spoken in the hospital at that time were so shocking.
My tense body slowly relaxed. Those words gave me courage once again.
Before I knew it, I was standing in front of Aqua, who was sitting in a chair, gazing down.
’So… Aim to be a hero unique to you!! Not Shirogane Aqua, but a hero that can only be Mayuzumi Shintaro’s!’
Aqua, you may not know, but the people who have been saved by your words are not just Toa and me.
I’m sure the people who are here today have also been saved by you in some way.
We can show our pathetic selves to each other, but when Aqua stands on the stage, I want him to be the Shirogane Aqua that everyone admired.
That’s why I ran faster than anyone else.
”Aqua… can you hear this singing? Right now on the stage, Toa is doing his best.”
Because I believe in you more than anyone else that you’ll come back.
”I’m going there now too.”
Everything is connected to you, Aqua. Even without saying it, you understand, right?
”So, watch me from there.”
Because I’m your hero, right?
The heroes I know have always been at the forefront with their big backs.
But it’s difficult to stay at the forefront forever. Even in bicycle racing, there are teammates, and we take turns at the front to aim for the goal as a team. So this time, I’ll be at the front.
”Leave the rest to me.”
I say that to Toa before heading to my designated spot. My heart is calmer than I thought.
But deep inside, something burning.
”Because I’ll buy time, Toa, rest in the back.”
The spotlight that was illuminating Toa goes off. I can’t back down now. From here on, it’s my time alone.
”Now, this is Mayuzumi Shintaro’s time.”
I gently place my hand on the piano keys. A solo piano arrangement of “stay here.” Aqua arranged it for me, with a relaxed melody that suited me.
”I have hurt you many times. That’s why I thought I had to change.”
When I went on stage, I caught a glimpse of my mother.
Even though I had just appeared, my mother seemed to be deeply moved, and she looked like she might cry at any moment.
”I haven’t searched all over the world for someone to replace you. So please don’t leave me.”
Though it might deviate from the original intent of this song, I still haven’t had any experiences of falling in love with a woman. So I sing this song thinking about my mother.
I made mistakes, regretted them, and made wrong choices again. And in doing so, I took away your time. I didn’t understand how much you thought of me.”
When we had a meal together after a long time, mother looked a little older than when I last saw her.
How much time had I wasted? No matter how much I regretted it, time wouldn’t turn back.
”I’m done for. I can’t bear to think that you won’t be by my side. (I have hurt you many times. That’s why I thought I had to change. I haven’t searched anywhere in the world for someone to replace you. So please don’t leave me. I might have done something irreparable to you. That’s why I thought I had to apologize. Because, there’s no one in the world who can replace you. So wait for me.”
When I hugged mother, who was crying, I was surprised. My body was already bigger than her, and I realized that she had protected me with such a small body.
”I finally caught up to you. Can I touch you with these hands? Thanks to you, I’ve come to realize love.”
Mother’s unconditional love as a mother, trying to protect our family, trying to protect me, I had neglected it.
”I couldn’t believe in you. I was too scared to take a step forward because I didn’t want to break our relationship.”
I couldn’t believe in mother as a fellow woman.
”You stopped moving forward because of me. Seeing you left behind on your own made me realize I can’t leave you. Because, don’t you need me? So baby, stay by my side.”
That’s how I had drawn the line.
Not just for my mother but for other women as well.
I turned my gaze toward the audience. The fans were slowly swaying the green penlights in their hands as I sang.
”I have hurt you many times. That’s why I thought I had to change. I haven’t searched anywhere in the world for someone to replace you. So please don’t leave me. I might have done something irreparable to you. That’s why I thought I had to apologize. Because, there’s no one in the world who can replace you.”
The classmates and girls who had become friends thanks to Aqua were all kind, and the women I had worked with were very different from the women I had prejudged.
Just like I had done to mother, I might have been rude to other women if things had continued as they were.
And Aqua, you were the one who corrected me and made me face women properly. I wonder if he, who said he would change the world, realizes that the guy he first changed is now singing in front of a large group of women.
”So wait for me there, because I’m coming to get you!!”
When I finished singing, cheers erupted from the women around me. I stood up and walked to the front of the stage, bowing slowly to thank them for quietly listening to the song.
The audience erupted in surprise; well, I understand. After all, I never thought I would do something like this myself.
I bet there are a few people panicking behind me right now. Haha, I’m sure it’s all Aqua’s fault that I’m doing something like ad-libbing.
After a brief pause, greetings were returned from the fans. It made me happy all over again.
I understand Aqua’s feelings about greetings being a good thing.
”Thank you all for coming today. Everyone dressed up for this day, didn’t they? Thank you. But aren’t those of you in lightweight costumes feeling cold? Be careful not to catch a cold.”
I smile towards the audience.
”Mayuzumi, your smile has left me powerless…”
”Wait a minute, what’s up with Mayuzumi today?”
”W-woww! It’s the first time a guy has complimented my outfit, even if it’s just for the costume…”
”I’m not taking off this nurse uniform anymore.”
”You’re a doctor, stop making it confusing!”
”I wore a slightly sexy costume just to captivate Beryl’s boys, and now I’m being captivated in return.”
”This is pattern 4, Mayuzumi is giving his all in kindness…”
”Well, whoever chose 4 is in for it.”
”Toa-chan made me die, and now Mayushin-kun is making me die too.”
”How many times do I have to die?”
”It’s all zombies here in real life.”
I still can’t believe it.
I can’t imagine being able to talk to girls like this, as I was when I first entered Otomezaki.
”By the way, what do you think of my outfit? John-san designed them for me, and I designed them for you all, too, just for this day.
Taking the opportunity, I slowly turn around to show off my entire body.
This outfit was made for me to look like a pastor-like exorcist.
”Oh my God! It’s so cool!”
”Since the festival, Mayuzumi’s costume has been trying to kill me.”
”There are zombies here! Please get rid of them!”
”There’s a ghost over here! Please get rid of it!”
”There are too many people who want to be rid of ghosts.”
”I’d die if Mayuzumi would get rid of me…”
”Too many people are risking their lives…”
”Don’t die. Don’t die. We’ve only just started.”
”Good news, it hasn’t even been half an hour.”
”Are you kidding me?”
”I’ve already tasted more than enough for a lifetime.”
While the fans in the audience are making a commotion, I cut the microphone sound and use a pin microphone to speak to Moja-san.
”Moja-san, after the next MC, I’m going to perform that song.”
”Mayuzumi, are you sure about that song…!?”
Right up until the last moment, there was a song that Aqua had prepared for me.
Singing this bright and cheerful song alone, as someone who excels in slow-tempo songs, was challenging for me.
If I couldn’t give it my 100%, it would be better to choose a different song.
When I saw the program change, I felt regret and practiced over and over again until just before the performance.
”Moja-san… I’m not the Mayuzumi Shintaro from yesterday anymore. Please believe in today’s Mayuzumi Shintaro.”
What was impossible until recently may not be impossible today. I’m growing too. I thought I had to do it.
[I understand. Mayuzumi-kun, do it your way. I’ll take responsibility.]
President Atori interjected into the line.
”Thank you, President.”
[Hehe, it’s my job, so you don’t have to worry about it. Besides, Aqua-kun said something. Mayuzumi Shintaro is a man who, when he says he’ll do something, absolutely does it, so believe in him.]
My throat grew warm. That’s how Aqua always connect the path for me. So this time, it’s my turn to connect the path for him.
[In that case, I’ll make up my mind too! Mayuzumi, do it your way! Even if it doesn’t work out, we’ll figure something out from here. Do it the way you want!!]
”Yes… Thank you, President, Moja-san.”
I turn the microphone back on.
”Now, Halloween night has only just begun! Let’s all have more fun together on this night!!”
As the cheers subside, the intro of the song starts playing on the stage. “Towards a Radiant Future.” That’s the title of this song.
”You’re always free, soaring with those wings of yours, flying anywhere. To unseen landscapes, even when you can’t see anything ahead. Nevertheless, you walk without hesitation, carving your own path. Even the world itself. Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow!”
I raise my voice. I wrote the opening lyrics with Aqua in mind.
”I felt like I was being crushed by expectations and pressure. I wanted to run away, but I didn’t even have the courage for that. I’ve been living, thinking only about reasons to give up. But now, all I think about is facing it.”
The song aligns with my life. These lyrics were written to bid farewell to my former self.
”I am free. I can fly anywhere I want. To unseen landscapes, even when I can’t see anything ahead. Yet I walk without hesitation, carving my own path. Even the world.”
I had given up on everything. I was just drifting through life, not realizing how foolish it was. That was me, Mayuzumi Shintaro.
”I can go anywhere. Because I’m free, right? There’s no need to hesitate. Unseen landscapes are waiting for me. Push forward, towards the future. Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow!”
But Aqua, you taught me the greatness of standing up and persevering.
Trying new things was refreshing, and what I gained from it was far beyond what I could find in books alone.
”I don’t want to live blaming others anymore. There’s no reason to give up by blaming something else. Your back has always taught me that. That I was foolish, you made me realize that.”
Yeah, that’s right. I’m a fool.
Pretending to be smart and giving up on everything, that was me, Mayuzumi Shintaro.
”I can’t see anything now, but I’m having so much fun. I’m only thinking about facing the path to tomorrow!”
It’s okay to be pathetic. Yet he taught me the joy of moving forward.
”We are free. We can fly anywhere we want. To unseen landscapes, even when we can’t see anything ahead. Yet we walk without hesitation, carving our own path. Even the world.”
Where does this path lead? I don’t know what lies ahead. But that’s okay. In this one and only life, I’ll experience a life beyond what’s written in books.
”I can go anywhere. Because we are free, right? There’s no need to hesitate. Unseen landscapes are waiting for us. Push forward, towards the future.”
I raise my hand towards the audience and swing my body from side to side. I wrote these lyrics thinking about the people who came today, those watching on TV, and the fans.
”I don’t know if this is the right answer. Maybe I’m doing something wrong. But that doesn’t mean I can give up. You said you wanted to make everyone smile, that day.”
Come on! Stop looking down, my dear friend!
”I want to deliver my smile to all of you. I want to convey this feeling. That’s why I keep reaching out. We can go anywhere. Because we are free, right? Let’s go together, towards the same future.”
Look at the fans in the audience! I made them smile. Everyone is enjoying this song.
”We are all free. We can fly anywhere we want. To unseen landscapes, even when we can’t see anything ahead, and even if we can’t see anything in front of us. Yet we will walk together without hesitation, carving our own path. Even the world.”
And everyone is waiting for you. Me, Toa, Tenga-senpai, President, Moja-san, everyone, we’re all waiting for you. So stand up one more time. My… no, our hero, Shirogane Aqua!
”We can go anywhere. Because we are free, right? There’s no need to hesitate anymore! Let’s take everyone to unseen landscapes. Even if it’s slowly, towards tomorrow.”
Until now, my voice was always insufficient, and it would fizzle out at the end. But this time, I kept singing with all my might until the end. Still, I feel like it’s not enough.
I put my feelings into what was lacking. About you, Toa, Tenga-senpai, the staff who supported us, my mother, and… the audience right in front of us.
How about it, Aqua? Did I manage to make everyone smile? The answer comes back in a resounding cheer.
”Wait, has he has sung to us!?”
”The beginning was about Aqua-kun, right?”
”This, Mayuzumi-kun wrote the lyrics, didn’t he?”
”Is Mayuzumi-kun from the Kokucho family?”
”There’s probably a lot to it.”
”I’ll protect Mayushin-kun…!”
”I have a feeling that a team will be formed to protect Mayuzumi Shintaro.”
”I don’t know why, but I cried.”
”You’ve been crying since Toa-chan’s time…”
”So basically, you’ve been crying all along. I’m crying too.”
”Anyway, everything is precious.”
”Hey, hey, I feel like I’ve been saying this all along.”
I bow deeply once more towards the audience.
I’m sure I was able to sing to the end because everyone clapped their hands and cheered silently in their hearts.
I’m not alone; it’s not just me. Together with fans and staff, we create something together. That’s what the stage of a live performance is all about, as Aqua taught me.
Ah, thank you, Aqua. Thanks to you, I’ve seen new landscapes today as well. So come over here quickly. The view from here and the smiles of the fans are always the best.
[Junior, I’m coming your way too!]
Tenga-senpai’s voice comes through the intercom. Spotlights point toward the ceiling.
Tenga-senpai, with arms wide open, descends from the sky. But today’s Tenga-senpai isn’t a fallen angel.
He’s dressed and styled his hair to resemble a werewolf.
[Sorry to keep you waiting, guys! It’s Super Tenga Time!]
Please bookmark this series and rate ☆☆☆☆☆ on here!
Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.